How — and why — would we measure impacts in "days", "hours" and "minutes"?
Footprints and Handprints are usually measured in different units that depend on the kind of impact we’re talking about. So water footprints can be measured in gallons or liters of water, human health footprints can be measured in years of life lost, carbon footprints in tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), and so-on.
Most of these units don’t mean much to most of us. We've never seen a ton of CO2, and would that be a large or small share of our carbon footprint?
Our solution is to relate all impacts to your footprint. Your footprint happens on a yearly basis, so we can express your full footprint as 365 days of your footprint. Half of this amount would be about 180 days of your footprint. One tenth of your yearly footprint would be about 36 days of your footprint. One tenth of 1 percent of your footprint would be close to 10 hours of your footprint. This works for all impact categories. So rather than a whole soup of footprint units that most of us don't understand, we can all work with just one unit that we all understand: time.
The impacts of an action depend on many factors, and this helps make them uncertain and vary from person to person. Handprinter lets you take some of these factors into account by specifying your home country and optionally parameterizing the actions you take, but uncertainty and variability remain. This means reporting your impacts with a value like 4.35 days is false precision.
Handprinter solves this by restricting all reporting of values to “round numbers” like 1, 2, 5, and 10. This also makes impacts easier to remember, and helps you focus on differences that truly matter.
When we speak with everyone, action impacts are expressed in relation to an average global citizen's footprint. Then for your personally, handprinter calculates and shows you the impacts of your actions in relation to your own footprint. If your footprint is twice as large as the average global citizen's footprint, then taking an action with "2 days" of global citizen water benefits will reduce your water footprint by 1 day.
The cool thing is that the smaller your footprint gets, the more powerful each action will become when handprinter calculates the action’s effect on your footprint.
Handprinter is a project of NewEarth B, which is a for-benefit corporation, with a mission of providing positive environmental and social impacts. The two current projects of NewEarth B are Handprinter and the Social Hotspots Database.