Offsetting Your Personal Carbon Footprint with VYVE
Sana Kazilbash posted on September 04, 2020 |
The carbon-tracking app helps individuals neutralize transport-related emissions.

(Image courtesy of VYVE.)
(Image courtesy of VYVE.)

Imagine a regular Friday set in a non-COVID-19 era. You wake up and commute to work by means of a 30-minute drive through traffic. Around midday, an impromptu office birthday has you and your coworkers carpooling to a local restaurant for some birthday celebrations. By the end of your shift, you receive a call from friends insisting that it’s been forever since you last hung out together. You spend a significant part of your evening engaged in a combination of subway trips and Uber rides (because, of course, the trendy hotspots your friends have selected provide minimal parking).

Naturally, such an active day entails a large carbon footprint. Ever wondered if there was a way to keep track of your transport-based carbon emissions?

A new carbon-tracking app called VYVE (which rhymes with “five”) allows you to enter your journeys and calculate the amount of carbon created by your trips. As the number swells, the app prompts you to buy carbon offsets that support decarbonization projects around the world—from domestic biogas development initiatives in Indonesia to wind turbine installations in China.

While most carbon offset activity has revolved around companies, VYVE enables individuals to take responsibility for reducing their own carbon footprint.

“There is a lot of noise around climate change and it is a very complex world. We wanted to simplify it for the man on the street,” says Mike Capper, founder of VYVE. “A lot of people care about the environment and offsetting their emissions, but we don’t make it easy for them.”

Although VYVE is still testing out its new features, the app is already being utilized by thousands of people in the United Kingdom and United States.

VYVE is funded by Launchpad—which, ironically, is a subsidiary of British Petroleum (BP), one of the world’s highest carbon-producing companies with over 34 billion metric tons of carbon emissions since 1965. It seems that BP is turning over a new leaf, announcing recently that it would produce 40 percent less oil and gas by 2030 in efforts to support renewable energy sources.

VYVE offsets carbon emissions by contributing to economic and social benefits in communities that often suffer from extreme poverty.

VYVE projects follow the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. (Image courtesy of VYVE.)
VYVE projects follow the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. (Image courtesy of VYVE.)

VYVE’s initiatives include:

·         Small-scale hydropower stations that provide enough renewable electricity to supply more than half a million remote homes in China

·         ONIL cookstoves for around 32,000 rural homes in Mexico that burn much more efficiently and use up to 58 percent less firewood than a traditional open fire

·         Biodigesters for low-income households in China, Indonesia and India that use animal dung to create biogas for fuel, replacing firewood and generating a bio-slurry that can be used as an organic fertilizer

·         Wind turbines along the coast of China’s Yellow Sea

·         Kilns that use biomass for fuel at a ceramics factory in Brazil

·         Planting of Alder, Aspen, Birch, Hawthorn, Hazel, Holly, Juniper, Oak, Rowan and Willow trees in Scotland, UK, to address overgrazing by livestock

·         Combatting deforestation in Zambia

A woman fills a VYVE-funded biodigester with cow dung in Karnataka, India. (Image courtesy of VYVE.)
A woman fills a VYVE-funded biodigester with cow dung in Karnataka, India. (Image courtesy of VYVE.)

For now, VYVE keeps things simple by focusing only on carbon emissions from transportation. After all, transport was the UK’s greatest source of greenhouse gas emissions in 2018.

Transportation made up 28 percent of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2018. (Image courtesy of Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, UK.)
Transportation made up 28 percent of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2018. (Image courtesy of Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, UK.)

VYVE calculates mobility emissions using distance and an emissions factor that is dependent on the mode of transport.

VYVE’s emission factors for various modes of transport. (Image courtesy of VYVE.)
VYVE’s emission factors for various modes of transport. (Image courtesy of VYVE.)

While considering only transport-related emissions is simpler for VYVE’s users, this would be a limitation for many environmentalists who are interested in taking a more comprehensive approach when studying their personal carbon footprint. For instance, what was the impact of eating red meat last Tuesday? How much carbon was produced when leaving the air conditioner running throughout a sweltering July?

You’d be surprised at the amount of electricity that is expended from seemingly innocuous activities. For example, playing on your Xbox contributes the equivalent of over one ton of carbon emissions over eight years. According to a 2019 study, annual U.S. emissions from gaming equal that of 85 million refrigerators, or five million cars.

VYVE joins a handful of carbon-offsetting apps that are already on the market. Competitors include San Jose’s Project Wren, Norway’s Chooose and New York’s offCents.

Capper believes that VYVE has an edge because it’s easy and fun to use, as opposed to carbon calculators that ask too many questions—testing people’s patience and resulting in high drop-off rates. VYVE allows users to pay as they go instead of having to invest in an ongoing subscription. Capper intends to use gamification and community elements to keep individuals engaged over the long term. It’s a step in the right direction toward a zero-carbon future.

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