Recycling apathy doesn't bode well for green tech habits

Recycling apathy doesn't bode well for green tech habits

Summary: When my sister-in-law’s father passed away a couple of years ago, I went out to Pennsylvania for the service and stopped by her home, which has been in the family for years. The piles of paper throughout the house reminded how many of us still have the hording instinct, saving things interminably when we haven’t used them for years.

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TOPICS: Emerging Tech
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When my sister-in-law’s father passed away a couple of years ago, I went out to Pennsylvania for the service and stopped by her home, which has been in the family for years. The piles of paper throughout the house reminded how many of us still have the hording instinct, saving things interminably when we haven’t used them for years.

Now I’m not condoning a disposable society, but I remembered this incident as I pondered the weird relationship Americans have with trash.

In Hawaii, for example, where space is shall we say limited, they make it so hard to recycle that most places people simply don’t even try. My mother, who was at least a medium shade of green when she lived in Washington and California, finds this highly annoying. And strange.

Of course this is the state that charges up to 33 cents per kilowatt of electricity, which is I think the highest in the nation. Apparently, there is all sorts of controversy over the aesthetics of alternative energy. But that is a subject for another blog.

Given this backdrop, I suppose I wasn’t surprised to hear that about 23 percent of all Americans aren’t into recycling yet, according to a recent Harris Interactive poll.

Astonishingly, younger Americans aged 18 to 20 (the Echo Boomers) were more likely NOT to recycle anything, compared with 19 percent for Matures (people older than 62). Does this surprise anyone out there?

Those on the east and west coasts were more likely to recycle than those in the Midwest or South, according to the Harris Interactive poll.

People are more likely recycle aluminum or metal cans (hmmm, is that because some places still pay you to collect them?) than they were to do anything with paper or plastic or glass.

The Harris Interactive poll found that there are all sorts of reasons people don’t recycle. For some, the service isn’t available, while others say it takes too much effort and costs them more money to recycle as opposed to using traditional disposal methods. About 10 percent believe recycling doesn’t make a difference.

So, how much hope do electronics recycling programs have?

Certainly, the fact that certain states have passed laws banning improper disposal of everything from monitors to CPUs to printers is a good one. Although I’m never one to favor the stick as the method for changing behavior patterns. And, honestly, how many people really understand what the regulations are in their home state? It took me all sorts of effort to figure out how to get rid of my old desktop computer just one year ago.

Here’s a rundown of what apparently is currently on the books as far as recycling laws that cover electronics.

I personally favor the carrot approach being adopted by some of the computer manufacturers, many of which have started offering discounts of new purchases for taking trade-ins of the old. (Kind of like when you buy a new car.) Refurbishment or redeployment are options that are looking increasingly viable, which sort of makes the case for better lifecycle management strategies in general.

From the looks of things, there definitely will need to be some sort of impetus like this in order to get the habit kick-started.

Topic: Emerging Tech

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  • Windows contributes to global climate change

    Why should anyone feel defensive about "being cheap?"
    <p>
    America and Americans are in debt to the eyeballs and have no savings because we spend the money as fast as we get it and then we borrow so we can spend some more. The people are in hock to consumer credit companies and the nation is pushing bonds to China.
    <p>
    We rarely speak of <i>citizens</i> anymore...we're now <i>consumers</i>.
    <p>
    Money represents <i>energy</i>.
    <p>
    Given the environmental and economic costs (including long term energy availability and cost), an IT sector based on planned obsolesces that emphasizes ongoing consumption of throw away manufactured goods is absurd.
    <p>
    One of the most attractive aspects of GNU/Linux is that it redefines short lived,throw away, consumer items as <i>durable goods</i> through rigorous adherence to backwards hardware compatibility on the part of kernel maintainers and several of the mainstream distributions.
    <p>
    And when new hardware is purchased, GNU/Linux permits purchase of hardware resources sized to meet the demands of the load, without the overhead imposed by an overly (and arbitrarily) bloated OS.
    <p>
    Most of us "get" the idea of "free as in beer and free as in speech," but we're overlooking another important factor that could be exploited to boost the rate of adoption of open standards, FOSS, and Gnu/Linux, among governments and other large institutions:
    <p>
    <b><i>GNU/Linux is the environmentally friendly OS.</i></b>
    <p>
    Computer hardware represents <i>embedded energy</i>. Embedded energy, is the energy derived from fossil fuels, that went into its manufacture.
    <p>
    That is embedded energy that caused greenhouse gas emissions when it was embedded in the hardware we refer to as a computer.
    <p>
    On a Microsoft driven average three year hardware upgrade cycle, that embedded energy is wasted and winds up in a landfill -- and more greenhouse gas is produced to build replacement hardware with its own embedded energy load on-board to be under-utilized over its short service life as a Windows desktop or server.
    <p>
    All but one of the machines I administer at my small business have been "recycled" after I obtained them from other businesses "upgrading" to the latest version of Windows. The one new machine, I assembled myself, from "new old stock," components five years ago, for use as a terminal server for a LAN of "recycled" PC based Xterminals, and it is only a PIII.
    <p>
    The average age of machines on the LAN I built and maintain is 12 years -- <i>that is four times the fossil fuel embedded energy efficiency of a similarly sized Windows shop running on a Microsoft driven average 3 year hardware upgrade cycle</i>.
    <p>
    Moreover, ever more powerful hardware consumes more and more greenhouse gas emitting fossil fuel in the form of AC utility power. We don't see many new PCs with 250 watt power supplies these days, do we?
    <p>
    The bottom line is this: <b>Windows contributes to global climate change. GNU/Linux is the environmentally friendly and responsible choice.</b>
    <p>
    Promote that to governments and large corporations under pressure to respond to concerns about global climate change and fossil fuel depletion, and there isn't a ready made answer they can provide to justify their continued reliance on Microsoft, Windows, and proprietary standards, that help dictate Windows use by everyone else who interacts with them.
    <p>
    n0neXn0ne
    • previous post: courtesy of: cjm LT

      have a nice day. ]:)
      n0neXn0ne
  • Consumers need to recycle their thinking

    The fact that consumers don't repuprose their electronics doesn't surprise me. What bothers me most is the fact that environmental watchdogs like GreenPeace and others publish a regular CE report card that puts CE manufacturers under the microscope for their green practices, yet don't reveal the other side of this equation - consumer practices and personal repsonsibility.

    In the past couple of years CE manufacturers have bowed to the environmental pressure and apparent consumer demand by creating greener electronics supported with a multitude of take-back, donation and recycling programs. Many of which are free and very simple to act on.

    So where is the consumer action that was the basis of these iniatives? More importantly where is GreenPeace's and others follow through on this issue of which they helped foster? Where is the report card of their campaign to solve this issue? They do want to solve the eWaste problem correct?

    I think its time that GreenPeace and others start using their media influence to drive greater awareness on the consumer practices issue and not just on the manufacturers green practices. By pointing consumers to the multitude of repurposing solutions already out there they really could help solve this problem.


    JohnnyGreen
    JohnnyGreen