The greenest product, so the saying goes, is one that you don’t buy. But for things you really need, the next best option may be the product you share. No longer limited to movie rentals, you can rent/share just about any durable good (or even not-so-durable goods) these days.
Think “green tech” automatically means “expensive?” Nope: costs are dropping on everything from Earthships to solar power.
An affordable Earthship: I’ve been in love with the Earthship building concept for years, but no way I’d ever be able to afford one. That may be changing, though: the “Simple Survival” model Earthship is designed to provide the amenities of these self-sufficient structures without the “mortgage bondage.” Check it out above.
Few phrases get my blood boiling like “homeowners association.” Perhaps it’s because I’ve never lived in a neighborhood with one of these organizations, but I have this image of a handful of people snooping around the community looking for any deviation from the norm (like, say, solar panels), and hiding their lack of imagination under the guise of property values. I’ve told my wife many times that if we ever move into one of those neighborhoods, I’m going shopping for a flock of plastic pink flamingos.
Off-grid in the Big Apple, and geothermal energy capture that doesn’t cause earthquakes… your green tech finds for the week.
- The recycling robot: Finnish start-up ZenRobotics claims its ZenRobotics Recycler, a robot designed to sort recyclables from other waste, has correctly identified half the materials presented to it in tests. See the “trailer” for the robot above. (via Good News from Finland)
- Can electric vehicles work in car sharing programs: Electric Vehicle Update discusses the potential issues, and solutions, for incorporating EVs (with their long charging time) into “on-demand” car sharing services. (via Cleantechies)
Thus far, car sharing services have looked a lot like traditional rental programs. Sure, there are a few key differences — cars located near potential drivers rather than the airport, membership models, etc. — but Zipcar and WeCar still provided cars they bought to customers for set time periods. In February, I took note of a different model — distributed or “peer-to-peer” car sharing — in which anyone who owned a car could rent it out to someone else. RelayRides was just getting off the ground on the East Coast, but legal changes in California may make the Golden State the place where distributed car sharing really takes off.
Sustainability advocates generally love the product service system model because, in theory, it reduces consumption, and provides the owners of the products with incentives to maintain those items for as long as possible. You may associate this business model with movie rental (Netflix) or car-sharing (Zipcar), but the types of products offered on a “rental” model continues to grow: designer handbags and dresses, for instance, are now available in this manner.
Having worked at five different colleges and universities over the past 16 years, I’ve heard a lot of excuses from students who were late to class. The most frequent of those excuses, hands down: “I couldn’t find a place to park.” I’d hazard to guess that personal transportation (i.e. a car driven by a single person) is one of the biggest contributors to college and university greenhouse gas emissions.
We at TreeHugger are a huge fans of the Product Service System, better known to some as PSS. Though the name is easy to trip over, the concept is brilliant: rather than buying everything you need outright, you can essentially “lease” or “rent” a product, deriving benefit from its service but not retaining ownership. That…