With all the mounting scientific evidence that humanity and its industry is having a negative impact on the planet, many are wondering about the future of human civilization.

Obviously, humans can not hope to live in a toxic cesspool. Of course, the exact causes and effects of this damage remain in some debate from everywhere from hole in the wall drinking establishments to the halls of power in many industrialized nations.

With all this in mind, it is perhaps finally time to consider ways that human industry can lessen its impact on the environment.

This push for “green” industry is still in its infancy, but it’s quickly gaining traction as more and more people grow concerned about the long term health of the land and its people.

One particular device that contributes to the growing push for better environmental health are the old standby of rolling element bearings, whether they’re roller bearings or ball bearings.

A rolling element bearing is a type of bearing that carries a load by placing elements that roll such as balls or rollers between two bearing rings. The motion of these rings causes the rolling elements to roll with next to no resistance and as little sliding as possible.

Some variants of this are quite ancient, while others were invented less than a century ago. However, all of them are useful in helping humans move large loads with as little difficulty as possible.

Their exact impact on the environment can be variable as well. While industrial bearings may not be the most environmentally friendly, a bearing device that’s lubricated with water is far less destructive to the local environment than bearing devices lubricated by grease or oil.

Fortunately, bearing manufacturers are working on better and more efficient water lubricated bearings and other more environmentally friendly lubricants

But even beyond that, bearings can help in the “green” industry through the development of bearings which generate less friction. This can translate into cooler operating temperatures which reduces the energy needed maintain ideal temperatures.

Another way to achieve greener results is to produce bearings that last longer and cost less to use during their usable lifespan. This can even help the machines they are used in to operate more efficiently and for longer times.

Outside of industry, there are many examples where bearings are already fairly good for the environment. For example, bicycles are a boon to the environment compared to combustion-powered devices. And bicycles absolutely can not function without good, solid, reliable bearings.

While there is still a good long ways to go before humanity has truly lessened its impact on its home planet, proper bearings are one of the early steps forward.