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Reward travelers who keep their older smartphones with a universal green income for purchasing eco-friendly items in airline catalogs.



A March 10, 2018 report published in the Journal of Cleaner Production showed that emissions from smartphones will increase from 4% in 2010 to 11% by 2020 of the total CO2 output of mankind. Additionally, it is not simply use of mobile devices causing the harm but the actual production. The article states: "In absolute values, emissions caused by smartphones will jump from 17 to 125 megatons of CO2 equivalent per year (Mt-CO2e/yr) in that time span, or a 730 per cent growth," about 85-95% caused by production which includes material extraction.

In the Fast Company article (27-03-2018) titled "Smartphones Are Killing the Planet Faster Than Anyone Expected" eloquently states just as "buying a used gasoline-fueled car is actually better for the environment than purchasing a new Prius or Tesla, keeping your old phone is greener than upgrading to any new one." Simply stated, the newer the phone the more capabilities/processing speed or storage, the larger the screen the more energy is required by the smartphone and the servers in the cloud. The more energy required by these new features and IT infrastructure the more CO2 emissions.

It is common knowledge that jet transportation is large emitter/vehicle of greenhouse gas emissions. But the carbon footprint of a traveler does not begin and end with the air transportation system they use to travel. Meaningful change to address Global Warming right now begins at the smallest and most manageable of scales, the single consumer of goods and services.  At this most elemental level, we must educate the traveler/consumer about the harmful external costs (run-off and air pollution in third world countries) of buying the newest advertised phone product rather than being content with what they already own.

What concrete idea do you propose?

The airlines will encourage their passengers via their complimentary in-flight magazines, product catalogs,booking flights, and an on/offline marketing campaigns to join the Universal Green Income (UGI) program.


Universal Green Income (UGI) is loosely based on  UBI (Universal Basic Income.)  But unlike UBI, Universal Green Income is accrued in the following manner:

The longer a participant keeps their current "older" smartphone and does not upgrade to a newer phone model the more Universal Green Income they accumulate, a great motivator for the traveler to be green. The value of one UGI unit is determined by how much the participating airline, and other companies, organizations want to assign a Euro/Dollar to each UGI unit.


The traveler's starting UGI balance initializes when they sign up via the UGI website. This balance is based on the make, model and year of the phone, and number of years the traveler has owned their mobile device. 

Additional baseline UGI

  • Passengers that own use low-power battery chargers will receive additional UGII as well. 
  • Travelers owning/using older laptops/workstations gain UGI as well.

All users signing up for the UGI program must agree to privacy waivers which allow their phone's make, model, year to be associated with their UGI account, and GPS ready. The traveler can then add peripheral technological devices (such as laptops, battery chargers) to their profile and obtain more extensive UGI.  



  1. UGI app: Is a smaller, mobile version of the UGI website, which includes the UGI Mapper (detailed below)
  2. UGI Planner: A travel planning tool launched from UGI app.
  3. UGChat: Instant messaging for UGI members (described below) via the UGI app.
  4. UG Traveler Forum: UGI travelers can share their travel experiences, green travel tips, and photos from their trip and/or about green projects they have worked on while on vacation. Available on both the website and app.
  5. TravelN2 Bulletin Board: UGI members can post that they will be in a destination city at a given date, or will be traveling to a destination on a given date Each posting is color coded formatted like a "Post-It" note. (Described further below.) Available on both the website and app.
  6. Global Rail: Short-haul flights produce more CO2 emissions than long-haul flights The UGI Project guides travelers whenever possible to make use of rail transit options whenever possible. Each participant in the UGI program will have complimentary access to local train services worldwide just for signing up. The older the traveler's smartphone the more accrued time will be available on the train. UGI purchases (tracking via Aztec codes) of train passes may occur at trip destination via traveler's mobile phone, or kiosks, or online based on rail system's services provided. A partial list of anticipated Rail system UGI participants:
  • Britrail Train Pass
  • Eurail Pass (European Rail Pass)
  • Indrail Pass (Indian Rail Pass)
  • Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass)
  • Korea Rail pass (KR Pass)

6. A One Year Bike Sharing Membership: UGI members receive a one year universal membership (UGIcode) allowing them to waive the sign-up fee for any Bike Share system in the world. The traveler will incur the usual fee/hour but at a discounted rate. Most Bike Share systems have screen access at docking stations or can be accesses via a mobile, allowing UGI members to enter their UGI code before renting a bike. This internet connectivity makes it ideal for the UGI system to note a traveler’s use of Bike Sharing options in a city and earn additional Universal Green Income for their eco-friendly efforts.

Alternately, The UGI member may choose to forego the free membership fee and
“pay-it-forward” and donate their membership to any Bike Share system which gives memberships out to impoverished communities residing in the destination city. This act of kindness is what the UGI Project is all about, bringing people across the world closer together. The traveler will earn Universal Green Income for this decision.


UGI is accrued monthly when the traveler:

  • Accesses the UGI website/app with registered phone/computer
  • Visits a travel website with registered phone or computer
  • Visits a participating airline website with registered phone or computer
  • Books a flight through the travel website with registered phone or computer
  • Books a flight through participating airline with registered phone or computer
  • Books a train, bus, or bike rental. 



Owning an older phone and signing up for the UGI Project is just the traveler's first green step . After that initial step, the UGI Project via the UGI app or website encourages members to earn additional UGI for their UGI account by making greener travel choices as listed below:


When a crowd performs an eco-friendly act we all benefit. The following UGI app features make greening the world together easier:

TravelN2 Bulletin Board: The UGI member may choose to set the TravelN2 alert setting from leisure to active mode. In active mode the traveler may be notified that there are 4 other travelers leaving from London and flying to New Delhi on a given date but at a later time Would you like to  book on their flight to earn UGI? The more people on one flight the lower CO2 emissions/passenger. Useful to encourage group purchases of rail passes

UGChat: If the user has chosen active mode he/she may receive a call-to-action from a fellow UGI member (in their destination city) be interested in helping? In active mode an audio cue such as a bird chirping will indicate an incoming message. 

UGI Planner: This tool is a mashup of a travel planner and Google maps where travelers select their means of transportation, the arrival/departure airports, train/bus station, and destination hotel  to determine the CO2 footprint of their selected trip itinerary. Each segment of the trip from the type of transportation a traveler uses from their dwelling to the departure airport have corresponding CO2 emissions.  The lower the GHG emissions per/traveler's chosen trip options the more Universal Green Income they will accrue once they have booked the flights/hotels, train station, and connecting trains. 

Lastly, the UGI Mapper if the GPS is turned on will display via Google Maps pins where their are current green volunteering needs in the traveler's destination city.  The user can click on one of the pins to find out more details about the non-profit, environmental organization participating in the UGI Project, and call or email that entity. If, a traveler chooses to volunteer at a participating environmental organization for 1 hour or 1 day, they may opt out of earning UGI, but many may choose to.

NOTE: The traveler will not earn the UGI until they have purchased their tickets, and accommodations.

Each Trip Segment's CO2 Footprint Determines Total UGI Earned:

Airports: The Airport Council International (ACI) created in 2009 the Airport Carbon Accreditation program to analyze the GHG emission of more than 200 airports worldwide, ranking them from Carbon Neutral to plans to reduce CO2 emissions. If a UGI member selected New Dehli;s Indira Gandhi Intl'l Airport (rated by the ACI as carbon neutral,) as their destination airport they would receive greatest amount of UGI airport which currently reducing its' carbon footprint.

Rail/Bus Service: France passed the Grenelle Act (2007) which requires all transportation operators their to provide CO2 emission information created by their vehicles. More countries worldwide are seeking similar laws to help the consumer make greener decisions in their everyday lives. Most rail systems in Europe, Japan, and China are electrified many sourcing clean energy. The amount of Universal Green Income for this segment of the traveler's trip is determined by which rail or bus system the UGI member uses. 

Hotel: Data from the International Tourism Partnership's Hotel Footprint tool determines UGI earned based on which hotel the traveler chooses..

BICYCLE: The traveler's earn the highest UGI when renting a bike from a bike sharing companies docking station for any segment of their trip,

Car: Whether private or hired earn 0 UGI.

Rail Stations: The most carbon neutral train station earns the most UGI.

Luggage: The traveler earns UGI if they use a carry-on vs. suitcase when checking in at the airline kiosk/counter.

Alerts: Travelers keeping their phones on sleep mode may passively receive alerts about climate change issues occurring now in the area in which they are visiting. An audio cue such as a beep will indicate the alert. For example, an alert may relay Ozone or particulate warnings. A text message will be generated regarding this. The UGI app will append this message to create a call-to-action to the traveler.

Message Example ”Paris air quality is rated as poor today, please consider less active habits if possible.

2nd Part Call-to-Action of message: Would you like to donate UGI to a wetland conservation organization. in Paris Y/N? 


  • Travel themed wallpaper for mobile and desktop
  • People love collecting passport stamps, with that in mind travelers can collect up to seven destination (country of arrival) themed emojis. Emojis provide the perfect marketing vehicle for the UGI Project encouraging inquiry and interest in joining.

II OTHER:  Additionally, the higher the passenger load per flight the lower CO2/passenger a Brighter Planet report on air travel, The UGI project proposes that since 1st Class and Business Class seating occupy more space, those amenities should pay a carbon offset fee. That fee would help fund the UGI program. However,if a traveler purchasing a 1st Class or Business Class seat is a UGI Member that carbon offset fee will be waived.


Travelers can use their accumulated UGI to purchase eco-friendly items via airline catalogs or the UGI portal.  Purchases can be made in-flight or in the departure or arrival airport terminal.

The following is a partial list of items for purchase (donations or funding by Lufthansa and other companies:) When a traveler chooses to purchase an item, with the assigned UGI,they are telling Lufthansa to fund that particular project.

If the traveler is using their UGI app to access the airline catalog, the items listed will correspond to their trip's destination. For example, if the traveler's destination city is Mumbai than the list below will consist of (UGI participating) non-profit, environmental organizations in and around Mumbai.

  • Sundarbans Mangrove Project by the Bangladesh Environment and Development Society 
  • The Ramsar Regional Center – East Asia (RRC-EA) Wetland Fund 
  • The European Greenbelt Initiative vis Econatur
  • Green Roofs in Rio de Janeiro
  • Ocean beach front clean up in South Africa
  • Phytoremediation of ecosystem polluted by petroleum activities in Ogoni Niger Delta, Nigeria
  • Products certified Fair Trade (buyers can only purchase items from their own country or the country they have traveled to.These restrictions in theory are to encourage a smaller carbon footprint using the "Buy Local" concept.)

NOTE: None of the conservation programs listed above are tree plantations, Tree plantations are usually monocultures requiring pesticides/chemicals, and consistent watering .The UGI Project supports Proforestation policies, which is to maintain the health and well-being of the forests, prairies, and wetlands that exist now. Existing forest have older growth, larger diameter trees which are better suited at carbon sequestration than new growth, small diameter trees are. Proforestation means low-cost, more effective solution to GHG emissions. 

Bike Sharing Programs: UGI members can use their UGIcode to use any participating Bike Share system in the world and receive bike rental discounts.

Global Train Transit: UGI members can use their Universal Green Income to purchase rail passes at a discounted rate 

Hotels: UGI members will receive discounts on rooms at eco-friendly hotels participating in the UGI Project.


Who will take these actions?

It is hoped that the principle of the Universal Green Income Project might be an airlines like Lufthansa. Additional green partners might include, Google, other airlines, rail transit, travel websites, and hotels .This will allow these companies in the interim to be green their operations as they transition to a greener business model, biofuels and infrastructure. Lufthansa may choose to be the primary innovator and implementer of the UGI Project and become synonymous with this unique charity model. It could become Lufthansa's identity as other airlines have instead adopted to invest in carbon offsetting, tree plantations which take over 15 years to develop.

Rail Transit, bus companies, Bike Share companies, hotels, and non-profit, environmental organizations (signing up through the UGI non-profit portal) will also participate and receive cross-promotional advertising in airline marketing materials, news publications and identify as green as well.

The AlteredToGreen team will drive the implementation of the UGI program by partnering with Lufthansa to determine whether the UGI project is integrated into the current Lufthansa online profile or a stand-alone. The AlteredToGreen team will build an online portal and app for the UGI program which will allow travelers to sign up as well as accumulate and track their point totals.

AlteredToGreen will partner with environmental non-profits and Fair Trade implement the UGI marketplace for participants.


What impact will these actions have on sustainability within Travel & Mobility?

Travelers can be an active part of the solution to combating Global Warming and green their travel with little effort at the same time. Additionally, airlines can green their travel offerings right now, even before they transition to cleaner jet fuels, denser passenger loads per flight, or more fuel-efficient aircraft.

Additionally, the UGI program is a green alliance between the traveler, the airline, travel assistance services, and secondary/tertiary transportation services. 

In a world of social and economic instability stemming from climate change, countries south of the equator are at the front lines of climate devastation. The UGI program will reduce the continuous demands placed on workers in these regions of the world dealing with unsafe and harsh working conditions by reducing the need for precious metal extraction.

It is hoped that the Universal Green Income Project will become so well-known that it encourages airports, hotels, and secondary transportation systems will want to make a greater effort to reduce their GHG emissions so that they can have a higher profile in the UGI Project, and in the world.

The ultimate goal of the UGI program is to encourage travelers to make more eco-friendly choices, help others to green the planet, burn less fossil fuels to help us all. The project is about breaking old, eco-unfriendly habits and creating new green ones.

About the team members

I am a citizen, climate change scientist currently working on the following projects in the Climate Colab Workspace phase: