Posts Tagged 'green'

Reverse phone vending

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Of 140 million cell phones sold in the US in 2007, only 10% were recycled, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. EcoATM is a sort of a reverse vending phone machine that allows people to drop their old phones into it and get credit for it in form of store or charity vouchers if their old phone has any resale value. If it doesn’t have any resale value, they just get to feel better about themselves and not create an extra pile of plastic rubbish.

At no cost to the retailer, ecoATM provides self-serve electronic eCycling stations which quickly inspects and assigns real-time secondary market value, collects/bins portable devices, provides payment to the consumer, and administrates any additional trade-in promotions / discounts loaded by the OEM and/or retailer.

The one thing not quite clear to me is why mobile phone manufacturers and service providers are semi-expected to make things recyclable, while there is much less pressure on the overall e-hardware producers and retailers, whether we look at laptops, printers or scanners.

[Via Springwise]

It’s too late to be a pessimist

Home‘ is a recent film by the French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand best known for his aerial photographs of the Earth. ‘Home’ was released on June 5, 2009 to coincide with the World Environment Day. The film is full of mind-blowing photography that shows images from around the world both to emphasize their beauty and to exhibit the brunt brought on by human civilisations. We have seen movies similar to ‘Home’ before, my favorites including ‘Baraka‘ by Ron Fricke and ‘Manufactured Landscapes‘ by Ed Burtynski, but ‘Home’ has its own different quality of information and story-telling.

The core of ‘Home’ apart from its visual imagery is its narration that takes you through a crash course on the Earth’s and human civilisations history discussing the development of agriculture, the industrial era, and lastly, renewable energies among other issues. The film has a strong environmental approach, but turns the distrubing images and information into a message that offers hope in new technologies, renewable energies and education. ‘It’s too late to be a pessimist’.

Home offices

Not only does the UK have the longest commuting times on the European scale with an average of 45 minutes per trip, but also  one of the most expensive public transportation systems in the world. In addition,seven out of ten people living outside London travel to work by car, which causes both higher waiting times in traffic and pollution. According to the RAC foundation, UK commuters travel up to 17% further to work than they did just 10 years ago.

commuting

So how does the current working system present itself when we look at the commuting and energy efficiency aspects? Cutting the current office-based style system would result in 3 major advantages for both employers and employees.

  1. The average 1,5 hours spent in transport per day would practically disappear apart from the need to attend occasional meetings.
  2. The commuting costs and office keeping costs would similarly disappear.
  3. The environment would benefit from decreased CO2 generation via lesser traffic levels and energy consumption.

The possible dangers of a home-based system are those resulting from isolating those working together. Isolation would result in less collaboration, which can be crucial in creative processes and also unless all individuals have a spotless work ethic, could result in much lesser work efficiency. Another question is whether people would actually like working from home. For some individuals the office buzz might be an indispensable element of their days.

With the emergence of locally-based desk rental spaces that orient themselves at particular industries, there may be some progress in sight, but they aren’t enough. The system will either remain as it is or will change beyond what we can see right now as far as simple location organisation system – entire organisations would have to change their ways of collaborating and doing business both internally and on a b2b level. The advantages of changing the system are immense both for their effect on the improvement of workers’ lifestyles and the energy/environmental level. Feel free to shoot ideas about this.

[Via BBC and RAC]

Kinetic parking plates @ Sainsbury’s

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Not that I’m a huge fan of supermarket shopping or their very existence, but Sainsbury’s keeps catching my eye as far as their green activity. Earlier this year, they committed to an alternative program of food waste management that will turn their waste into electricity, thus prevent the food from reaching a landfill and give them energy bills benefits. Each tonne of food waste is expected to be able to generate enough power for 500 homes.

This month Sainsbury’s announced that it will start using kinetic plates in their parking lots which will allow them to pinch 30kWh an hour from their customers. Why pinch? Well, technically the energy taken through the kinetic plates has to come from somewhere and in this case it’s from the customers’ cars going that little bit further by riding onto the parking plates. I would love to see this technology installed in common busy areas such as tube stations or busy streets.

[Via Guardian]

Smart outlets

John La Grou presents the invention of an intelligent communication system for electricity outlets and appliances plugs. With 350,000 fires and 20,000 dead every year in the US, this simple issue is worth addressing. Beyond the safety advantages, it also offers great energy savings potential, with the possiblity of remote control of unused outlets. With about 10 bln outlets in US alone, the energy savings could be huge.

In My Prius

East London seems to have been crawling with Priuses for a while now. The eco-borderline-obsessive organic-buying baby poppers might enjoy this one: Casual Mafia have produced a gansta rap parody based on the Toyota Prius and what can I say, it’s pretty spot on. Enjoy ;-)

[Via Nick Burcher]

Grow your own patch

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Hardly anything comes close to being as soft and plush to walk on as moss. The first time I saw hope for setting foot on moss outside of forests and meadows was when Nguyen La Chanh brought out his design of a moss carpet. His design is based on a decay-free foam called plastazote, so no soil as such is needed. The patch doesn’t need much attention as it sucks up any moisture produced in the bathroom whether through vapour from showers or dripping wet feet getting out of one. Beyond the comfort and looks this ‘carpet’ can deliver, I think it must also provide a good solution to all those forever fighting mould that thrives in many-a-London bathrooms.

3473473210_92cb5056a1_oIf you want to go beyond your bathroom, you should soon be able to populate your home with naturally growing moss. Makoto Azuma collaborated with Unitika Ltd. to create indoor and outdoor moss carpets. If moss isn’t your thing precisely, you can also go with grass patches that can go on your desk or just about anywhere else you please. The project comes from the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Israel, but no one is exactly sure if these things are for sale anywhere.

grass_package_530

[Via Inhabitat 1 & 2]

When Twitter Does Make Sense

Apart from the live news reportage usage of Twitter, I haven’t been seeing it as as much of a world-changing tool as some people around me do. Many digital things including Twitter happen when they become either playful or useful. The former case would be the by now semi-famous Baker Tweet, a tool designed by POKE to let them know when the hot buns are coming out of the ovens from the bakery across from their office. This win-win-win project has given regulars from the area the ability to know when edible bread is available, increased the sales of Albion, the bakery involved in the Twitter project, and given POKE extra publicity.

A case of a useful tool connected to Twitter has been recently created by Energy Circle, a company that sells energy-saving products and has created a new energy-monitoring system that sends home energy usage stats to Twitter. The system uses an energy measuring device called TED to create Google Visualization enabled charts that are then tweeted to everyone involved. Google itself has been working on a similar project, but it’s still in it’s non-practical stages. The designer’s family has been using the device for six months and claim that they’ve since managed to lower their energy use by 15%.

[Via ReadWriteWeb]

KISS, aka Use the tap, stupid

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I still don’t understand why so many people buy bottled water, really, to me it’s one of the simplest ways to waste your money and say ‘go to hell’ to the environment. Recently a new company called Boxed Water is Better is trying to create some stir by selling water in boxes rather than plastic. Well, fair enough, cardboard might be a little better, but why oh why do decide to produce another kind of waste rather than encourage more people to use the tap? I understand and somewhat sympathise with the view that it’s not the producers’ fault, but rather the consumers who continue to support the wrong industries, but packaging and shipping bottled or boxed water and convincing people that it is best for them is misinforming and manipulating the public.

water

London on Tap is a campaign from Thames Water to promote drinking tap water to Londoners. Thames Water Chief Executive David Owens says: “Our water is 500 times cheaper than bottled water, and is kinder to the environment, emitting 300 times less CO2 to process than bottled alternatives. Tap water is not only good for you, it’s good for London and kinder to the planet.”  Tap water is under more strict regulations than bottled water is and provides us with fluoride unlike bottled water. Fair enough, it may not taste just as nice as the bottled water does, but I still think London’s water is pretty good compared to other cities and countries. And for those who can’t take it as it is – use a filter!

[Image courtesy Boxed Water is Better]

4 wheels bad, 2 wheels good!

cycle-hire-scheme-artist-impression

Finally it seems like London is catching up with being more bicycle-friendly! Apparently by May next year London will have 6,000 bicycles and 10,500 docking points, but akhem, as most things in London, it won’t be entirely free. So far the plans include Zone 1 only, but further expansion will hopefully follow.


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