Ever think about giving up chocolate for the good of the planet? Nah, me neither – some sacrifices are too great! Despite having such a captive market, though, chocolate makers from the corporate giants to small-scale artisan operations have looked for ways to reduce their environmental and social impact. Organic cocoa beans and Fair Trade farming operations have become standard on this front, but two chocolatiers, one American, one British, have gone to an extreme to cut their footprints: they’re having either supplies or product delivered by sailing ships.
Heard that the light bulb that won $10 million from the government will still cost you $50? Wonder if the UK’s watering ban will really make a difference in terms of water savings? Read on: we’ve got the facts on these questions and more in this week’s green tech finds.
Assembly lines rolling out the Focus Electric: Think Nissan’s the only game in town for a true electric vehicle? Not anymore: Ford’s started production of its 2012 Focus Electric in Michigan. (via @edbegleyjr)
Ranger Rick comes to the iPhone: Your kids bug you to play games on your smartphone? The National Wildlife Federation has created a way to make sure they’re learning something. The new Ranger Rick mobile apps provide games for kids as young as 2 (yes, 2!) to sharpen their knowledge about wild animals.
Walking to school seems like a quaint notion from decades past: whether for reasons of safety or convenience, the bus, the carpool, or the drop-off on the way to work have become the ways kids get to their schools. While the first two methods are definitely greener than the last, all deprive kids of an opportunity to get some physical activity on a regular basis… and walking definitely has a much lower carbon footprint than any motorized means.
In the UK, government agency Transport for London and company Intelligent Health have paired up to make walking more attractive for school kids… by offering rewards for getting to school on foot. The Step2Get program makes use of electronic cards that students swipe at various readers along designated routes, and a website were the kids can track their walks and rewards. Five walks to school earn a student a movie ticket; for eight walks, s/he receives a £5 shopping voucher.
Here in the US, community colleges are often at the forefront of training for emerging career fields… and we’ve seen that happening with various forms of green technology. That happens on a system-by-system basis here; in the UK, however, they’re taking green job training nationwide with the launch of the new National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies.
I never quite know what to say to people from the UK. I get confused. Unsure of myself. I stumble.
But after seeing THE KING’S SPEECH I have become more interested in the UK and happened upon this fantastic video explaining what exactly makes up the UK. It’s hilarious and enlightening. Though I am still very much confused.
The global Fair Trade movement has done a stellar job of highlighting the economic plight of coffee farmers in the developing world, many who barely eke out a living growing one of the world’s most heavily traded commodities. And while Fair Trade has always had an environmental element to it, that may become more pronounced as these farmers become some of the first victims of global climate change.
Waste heat recovery isn’t nearly as sexy as solar panels or wind turbines… but it’s a concept already proving its worth, with a lot of room for growth. It’s also an idea that might strike most of us as pretty non-controversial; however, when the waste heat is coming from a crematorium, battle lines appear.
As you can see in the picture above, the landscape of Didcot, Oxfordshire is dominated by cooling towers for coal and oil-fed power stations. Not the cleanest of energy sources, but, as of today, Didcot is contributing to greener energy generation in Great Britain as the home of the country’s first biomethane station that produces gas from sewage.
A bee beard for David Cameron, subway energy harvesting, and using search technology to identify endangered species… this week’s green tech finds.
The Wolverine solar cell: Researchers at MIT actually looked to plants, not the X-Men, when creating a solar cell that “heals” its own UV damage.
Tweet for the honey bees: British marketing firm LBi has created a “twittition” (Twitter petition) to support honey bee populations in the UK. Each tweet added to the petition adds a bee to a “bee beard” on a likeness of Prime Minister David Cameron (shown above).
Today, British mobile network company O2 released its Eco Rating system, devised in conjunction with sustainable development organization Forum for the Future. The rating system is a laudable undertaking: cell phones use energy, can contain toxic materials, and provide yet another e-waste challenge… so having a “simple and transparent” system for sustainability information on phones can help consumers make smarter choices here.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to see how the O2 system really provides useful information in a transparent manner.
At the federal level, the US tends to rely on various forms of tax incentives to spur consumer demand for energy efficiency and renewable installations. States and cities have tended to be a bit more creative in providing forms of up-front cost support, such as property tax financing and loan programs. Perhaps the feds should take a look at approach the new British government floated in yesterday’s Queen’s Speech: a “pay-as-you-save” loan program.
What do you do with food scraps? OK, some of them probably go into the trash can or garbage disposal, but you may also compost vegetable and fruit peelings and leftovers. If you’re really die-hard, you may even use a bokashi system, which allows you to compost meat and dairy scraps.
Ever wonder how sexy your city is? Well, if you’re based in the UK, you have a chance to find out: UK sex toy retailer LoveHoney has created the UK Sex Map, which uses data on sex-related spending to determine just how sexy different townships are. For example: the people of red hot Upminster spends…