I’ve come to the conclusion recently that nothing is perfect. Not me, not you, and certainly not the technology that exists today. There are always up sides and down sides to everything. A simple case of give-and-take if you’d like to say it that way. This is especially true for how we attain our energy these days. Due to limitations on technology and the simple nature of things, nothing is perfect.
Take electric vehicles for example; they are powered by batteries. However, after tracing where the electricity comes from, the grid, we see that the energy is not so sustainable after all. For example, the grid in California that provides the electricity to power electric vehicles is mostly produced from natural gas. There are two upsides to this and one downside. Natural gas is better in terms of its carbon emissions footprint than say power plants that run on coal; Because the common emissions associated with electric vehicles are in the power plant which is a smaller region, it is possible that these emissions could be captured by carbon sequestration. The downside is that carbon is still being produced and carbon sequestration can be expensive. With every beneficial advancement, there are still areas that can be improved, even if they are not clear to one at first glance. Mentioning these limitations is not to take away the brilliance and innovation that is electric vehicles, but to use the shortcomings as motivations to keep innovating.
Another example of innovations in the right direction are cars that run on hydrogen fuel cells. It is amazing that the byproduct of these vehicles is water in itself. However, sometimes the hydrogen used to run these vehicles is not produced sustainably, which reduces energy efficiency. Moreover, tracing the source of hydrogen back to coal limits how much carbon emissions are actually reduced since coal produces CO2. There is still a significant reduction in emissions from coal, but the toll is taken on the efficiency itself. Luckily, there are many clean energy sources for hydrogen that can be tapped into. Again, more small changes can be made to keep subtracting from the downsides of clean energy.
It is amazing how many strides have been made in the clean technology sector. The shortcomings that often result due to financial restrictions are constantly being recognized and improved upon in ways that make them more efficient and affordable. In terms of the fashion industry, it is great to see some manufacturing companies utilizing sustainable production methods as well. For example, the CLOVO material provider, Tencel, utilizes renewable energy to power its manufacturing plants. Additionally, they use a closed loop production cycle to limit water waste and wastewater. It is incredible that companies are becoming greener and more transparent about their shortcomings. Through sharing their shortcomings, they can make connections with the right people or companies to innovate and improve, hopefully leading to an even more sustainable manufacturing world.