Monday, March 31, 2008

Greener Gadgets Pt. III: What's Disposable?

One of the Most influental books for the modern green movement is Cradle to Cradle. The book explores how the modern system of production views a product's lifecycle, and how recycling generally creates poorer and poorer materials. The authors suggest a new system where components get broken back into their original materials to be made anew.
Some technology companies are starting to think this way, and what comes out of this change can be radically new and different products.

the gadget with the shortest lifespan is certainly the cellphone. Cellphone recycling is a big thing these days, but it is expensive to manually disassemble the phones for their more valuable components (which means that it doesn't necessarily happen). Nokia has created a concept cellphone that is made of a plastic that expands when heated. When it's time to recycle the phone, they heat it up and it can easily be disassembled without tools. But these have not come to the market. The active disassembly concept is one that needs to come to market soon.

Leica the maker of high end cameras has recently stepped into the digital camera market, but besides making fantastically cute miniature point-and-shoot cameras, they have a camera that follows in the footsteps of their venerable M series. These are the cameras that look like Leicas. The M8 digital camera can use just about any lens that other M series cameras can use, but that is something that other manufacturers have done with their high end digital SLRs for a while. What Leica brings to the game is a new idea of permanence. If you buy an M8 camera, you can have it's internal components upgraded when something newer or better comes along without replacing the camera. You just send it to a service center, give them your money, and shortly they will send you back the upgraded camera.

The Authors of Cradle to Cradle have started a firm to certify products which meet some of the ideal that they put forth in the book. On their website they have a list of the products that have gained the certification. They don't have any gadgets yet, but among other things they have certified the new priority mail packages as C2C Silver.

1 comment:

Katie said...

The US Postal Service has been certified by the Cradle to Cradle evaluation system. So get those boxes from your local post office when you send stuff and use a paper tape to close it up.