The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'sustainability'
While Ken Livingstone prepares to slap punitive charges on oversized SUVs and gloats over the drop in SUV sales, Westminster City Council has installed free recharging stations for electric cars and bicycles. These are devices that look like parking meters, and are located in Covent Garden (where London's first hydrogen fuel cell bus also goes). Both parking and electricity are free (albeit there's a 3 hour limit), so in addition to not having to pay the congestion charge, you get your fuel paid for by the council. Assuming that someone else with an electric vehicle hasn't gotten there before you.
I suspect that free charging stations won't last after electric cars become more popular; after all, someone has to pay the bill. I guess there's sustainability and then there's sustainability.
As a society, we discard an alarming amount of electronic equipment. It has once been claimed that the average PC has a working life of just under 3 years before it is consigned to the landfill, usually still in working condition. Meanwhile, we toss our old mobile phones as soon as the coltan to make new ones is mined from Congolese national parks. Not to mention all those electronic devices which are built to last a few years (my Sony stereo is a case in point; not to mention the fact that anything with firmware in Flash ROM is going to be scrap within a decade). So it's not surprising that the landfills are filling up with old computers, dead TVs and last year's DVD players, all of them leaching toxic chemicals into the groundwater.
Recycling of electronic devices has been a dubious exercise, with horror stories of entire Chinese villages serving as computer graveyards, young children picking futilely through mountains of dead circuit boards, and everybody getting cancer and dying before their time. But the urbane, left-leaning westerner who sent their old Pentium to be recycled (and paid the surcharge for doing so, lining the pockets of the growing guilt-assuagement industry) doesn't see any of this so their social conscience is eased. Perception is everything.
Which is why it gives me hope to see stories like this one, about a new high-tech waste recycling plant in Japan, designed to efficiently disassemble all those old unwanted devices and use as much of their constituent materials to make new things:
Glass in television sets is carefully dissected with Matsushita's own breed of cutter to keep the toxic leaded glass in the rear portion away from the safer glass in the screen. The result is two kinds of glass that ends up in new TVs. Separating the different parts of a washing machine requires a complex arrangement of magnets and wind blowers to produce cleanly divided waste.
Greenpeace have released a guide to environmentally safe sex, for highly principled people, with advice such as "if you like to use produce to get the blood boiling, make sure it is GE-free", and making sure that paddles are made from sustainably-harvested timber; not to mention suggestions for role-playing S&M games such as "George Bush and Corporate America at the Earth Summit":
6. Have you got something more than a good time up your sleeve. Could it be polyvinyl chloride? Ditch the PVC and vinyl accessories for your playtime. The production of PVC creates and releases one of the most toxic chemicals - dioxin. You also don't want to be sucking on that stuff. The use of PVC in young children's toys has already been banned in many countries. Instead, opt for accessories made from natural substances like rubber or leather.
Not sure what animal-liberation groups will think of Greenpeace telling people to use leather instead of PVC. How about sex toys made from hemp and recycled tyres?
Extreme Thrift: A big compedium of tips for saving money. Some of these are sound ecological ideas (such as running "grey water" from showers to the toilet, or composting toilet paper tubes), and others are a bit more out-there (such as going to strangers' funerals for the free food, or serving weak coffee in a dark cup to make it seem stronger). (via Plastic)