I've never put much thought into what happens to my old gadgets when I recycle them - having said that, most of them are probably in a drawer somewhere in case the newer models aren't up to scratch.
But according to Fast Company a large amount of our e-waste is in fact sent to a number of developing countries around the world. Once there, workers are required to take the devices apart by hand, which exposes them to a range of harmful toxins.
A new UN program called Solving the E-Waste Problem (StEP) will track the disposal of our old electronics as they're transferred around the globe and then help the developing countries deal with them. Big brands such as Dell and Nokia have already agreed to help with the initiative and not only will they be aiding the developing countries but sourcing recycled raw materials that can be used in new products.
The general public have begun recycling more and more in recent years. However, a lot of recyclable materials still unnecessarily make their way to landfill sites, which is why Finnish company Zen Robotics has been working on a solution.
The team are currently developing a robot specially designed to sort through trash and pick out the materials that should be recycled. During initial trials the robot, which is essentially just an arm with a gripper connected to a super intelligent computer, was able to correctly identify around 50% of the recyclable materials that passed it. Although that's not everything that should have been plucked out, it'd be an incredible improvement if that much material was no longer wrongly being sent to landfill sites.
We can't afford to buy solar panels for our house but felt we could do our eco bit by adding teeny, tiny solar panels to our computer keyboard. Ok, we're just kidding about that but we do like the idea of saving on all those batteries. Logitech was way ahead of us with their wireless solar keyboard k750 with its small solar panels, in a sleek, low profile (only 1/3 of an inch thick) design.
But solar panels in our dark cubby hole that passes for an office? Turns out the Solar K750 sucks energy from a simple desk lamp and can stay charged for at least three months in total darkness.
And since it's the advanced 2.4 GHz wireless model, you can work from virtually anywhere and the long-range wirless connection doesn't drop out.
When you need to check to see how much solar power you've got left, the Solar App easily lets you know if you're almost running on empty.
As with all of of their keyboards, the solar model features the concave key cap design, which makes typing for hours more comfortable.
For $79.99 you can feel righteous without the big price tag.
The Windowfarms project turns your window into an urban farm, using inexpensive and recyclable parts. The results are a "curtain" for any window that is also a year-round, high-yield, vertical, hydroponic, modular, low-energy, edible garden. The open designs are free to download and easy to implement. The project also encourages the community to innovate and share improvements.
Britta Riley and Rebecca Bray started this project in February, 2009 during their artist's residency in New York's Eyebeam Art and Technology Center. Their mission is to encourage sustainable solutions that can be implemented today by anyone. Recently, Riley presented developments of Windowfarms at the New York chapter of Dorkbot.
The pretty frock in he picture is more than the latest piece of haute couture. Thanks to the efforts of Forster Rohner, Alexandra Institute, diffus.dk, and The Danish Design School this dress is not only fashion-forward it's also eco-friendy.
The LEDs embroidered into the dress actually show the levels of CO2 in the room. The dress monitors CO2 levels and transmits the information to the LEDs which flicker in response to the data. I wonder if the decision to make the dress a charcoal gray a purposeful one made by the collaborators to symbolize our declining air quality. At any rate, this is another example of how technology and fashion can come together to create something that's beautiful and functional both on and off the catwalk.
Via Fashioning Tech
Sound pretty complicated? But not the principle behind this one-of-a-kind eco-friendly Water Powered Clock from Green Stamp. The idea is, simply, to use energy from water to keep the clock alive and ticking.
Judge it not yet. Because the Water Powered Clock is a small, albeit hugely significant, indicator of how modern electrochemical technology can be used to create electronics without emission or additional burden on existing "non-green" energy sources. And the clock is very conveniently designed for that very same purpose - a can into which you have to pour water once every 6 months to keep it running. A great product to introduce kids to green tech.
The can-shaped clocks are available in 4 colors at £9.99 (around US $17). And yes, the results maybe unexpected in case you decide to get creative with the choice of liquid. We guess.
Via Shiny Shiny.
Save $1500 on your energy bill this year. The latest on plastics and canned foods that contain Bisphenol A. Green ratings of electronics, cars, and other products. What green consumer goods should you buy, and how can you find them?
It's one-stop shopping for that information, plus green news too, at the Greener Choices web site, free from the respected publication Consumer Reports. You can sign up for free newsletters, too.
You can be the eco-conscious girl with green hair if you patronize beauty salons that use green hair-care products.
Hair dyes, shampoos, and other such products have traditionally contained synthetic chemicals that can harm the user and the environment. But an increasing number of hair care salons are saying "no" to that tradition. They're stocking environment-friendly products and using them on their customers.
It's a trend that first took hold--of course--in California. But the trend is spreading to other parts of the US. An article in Scientific American advises you to just Google "green hair salons" plus your state abbreviation and you may be surprised to find one--or more--near you.
And if you can't find a local green hair salon, you can nag your favorite salon into turning green. Urge your hairdressers to use the increasing number of hair-care options that are safer for their clients and the world. Some brand names to look for: EcoColors, Aveda, Modern Organic Products or Innersense
Solar power. Solar heating. Solar lighting. Sure, you'd like to fuel your life for free with help from the everlasting sun. Trouble is, it's not really free.
The equipment that can turn sunshine into a warm, well-lit life costs the earth. You can easily spend $20,000 or more for rooftop solar panels, for example.
But there's hope. Alternative financing of solar has begun in the US, in a small way. For example, a few thousand homeowners is California, Arizona, and Oregon are reducing their upfront costs by leasing solar equipment--and paying an estimated 15% less for electricity, equipment included. And the federal government has an assortment of programs that underwrite homeowners' solar projects.
Read all about these and other possibilities for reducing the cost of solar equipment at E, the environmental magazine.
Designer Je Sung Park is striving towards the idea of us careless masses being able to throw away our laptops if need be. And yet leave no harmless waste for the environment to deal with.
That maybe an overstatement, but we love that the idea of recyclable laptops is budding in such creative minds. Park's idea is that of a eco-friendly laptop that uses recycled paper or pulp for its external casing instead of metal or plastics. The laptop itself, he proposes, will be designed in "layers" so that you can easily throw away damaged portions without being accused of creating more e-waste. Sounds great, even if only on paper.
Via Yanko Design.