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Recently reading through Good Magazine I ran across this little idea I liked enough to look into. Basically, every CFL box would be similar to a DVD envelope from NetFlix. After installing your CFL, you reverse the packaging, revealing a pre-paid box for the mail, you’d take the old incandescent and ship it to a central recycling location. First, the benefits: 1) I love the “outside the box” thinking. It gives users an uber-simplicity option. Never have to leave your house to recycle the bulb. 2) It is a great driver for recycling, which is otherwise very difficult to find at the local level for certain items such as lightbulbs. Now the negatives: 1) Most unfortunate is the environmental effects of the transportation required to ship the bulb back to the recycling plant. It would be interesting to analyze the environmental impact of CFL impact & recycling bulb vs incandescent re-shipping. Off the top of my head, the approx 150-250 lbs of carbon you save over the life of the CFL would outweigh the shipping, but I haven’t done the math on that one yet.
Another one of my favorite greenovations is the Chico bag. This bag is made from tough, 100% recycled material and reduces down to a small stuff sack about the size of a potato. It’s light, easy to carry and fits in everywhere from a purse to the glove compartment. I feel it answers the problem of remembering to bring your own bag even when you run out to buy milk, bread and PB&J. At MakeMeSustainable we’re going to try and start incorporating them in with our site. I used mine just the other day to carry about 5 pounds of peaches back from the farmers market…no problems.
Finally let’s think about cell phones. Motorola applied for a patent on a cool solar powered phone in May. But for the rest of us there are ways to charge a phone without having an internal solar PV. Solio is currently the industry standard for solar chargers. The small, flower looking charger convert 1 hour of sun charging into 15 minutes of cell phone talk time or 4o minutes of MP3 music play. At $99 it’s not the cheapest thing on the market, but there are competitors fast on it’s heels. The Guardian UK reviewed the Freeloader, one of Solio’s competitors in the UK. At about $60 it’s cheaper and advertises more features then Solio. Unfortunately, it’s not yet available in the US unless you want to pay international shipping charges. I’m holding out for the solar cell.
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