Thursday, April 17, 2014
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Earth Day tacky? No, tech-y

Here's part 1 of our annual Earth Day products round-up, this one from Gizmo Guy Jon Takiff. Watch for part 2 with more products and events tomorrow morning.

Earth Day tacky? No, tech-y

The KORK iPad case is made from recycled and recyclable natural cork. Image from <A HREF="http://earth911.com/news/2012/03/05/13-eco-friendly-cases-for-your-new-ipad/">this roundup at Earth911.com.</a>
The KORK iPad case is made from recycled and recyclable natural cork. Image from this roundup at Earth911.com.

Here's part 1 of our annual Earth Day products round-up, this one from Gizmo Guy Jon Takiff. Watch for part 2 with more products and events tomorrow morning.

How do we know that  Earth Day must  be right around the corner (Sunday)? Environmental groups focused on the (fraught with eco-peril) electronics industry have been laying on the good and bad tidings.

Cloudy Forecast: Amazon, Apple and Microsoft all got slammed by Greenpeace International yesterday in a report on cloud energy practices. While Google, Yahoo and Facebook are
"taking steps to power their clouds with clean energy," those other "highly innovative and profitable companies are building data centers powered by coal and acting like their customers won't know and won't care," said Gary Cook, Greenpeace senior policy analyst. Some data centers "use as much electricity as 250 European homes."

 We Done Good: Patting itself on the back - and maybe hoping to stave off more unwieldy state laws mandating recycling - the Consumer Electronics Association reported this week that 460 million pounds of consumer electronics had been responsibly recycled by its' members and "third party" companies in the last year. That's a 53 percent increase over the prior year.  By 2016, CEA's eCycling Leadership Initiative hopes to up the annual ante to one billion pounds of electronics, equivalent to an entire 71,000 seat NFL stadium and making room for more good gear to invade our homes. "The average U.S. household owns 25 different CE products," said Walter Alcorn, CEA's v.p. of environnmental affairs. "We want to make recycling just as easy as purchasing electronics,"  And to that end hopes you'll check out the recycling  options nearest you by visiting greenergadgets.org  

Slamming Walmart:  Walmart's newly released 2012 Global Responsibility Reports touts waste reduction as its #1 achievment in 2011. But the Texas Campaign for the Environment says the retail giant is doing zilch to collect used electronics at its stores, unlike prime CE competitor Best Buy. The latter  started a pilot recycling program in 2008 and now takes back stuff at  stores nationwide.(Staples locations also proved prominent in my search at greenergadets.org. ) For Earth Day, Texas Campaign executive director Robin Schneider urges concerned citizens to post a message on Walmart's "What's on Your Mind" Facebook page "calling on the company to take back e-waste for recycling . . . and to support federal legislation to stop e-waste from being dumped on developing countries."

Green Guilt: Do Americans really give a hoot about responsible recycling of computers, phones, TVs, batteries and such? A new survey commissioned by Call2Recycle found 29 percent of the populace have "green guilt" - defined as knowing they could and should do more to help preserve the environment. That's a marked improvement from the 12 percent who felt remorse in 2009. More than half of respondents (57 percent) say they have old electronics to discard. Eight-four percent said they recycled stuff responsibly during the past year. 68 percent turned out lights and unplugged rechargers.  53 percent purchased "green" products.

Get 'em Here: Are iPad and iPhone users more eco-responsible than normal? You'd sure think so, from the deluge of eco-friendly cases you can buy for the products, made of  everything from "recycled" leather and  vinyl tarps to water bottles and cardboard album jackets. The all-natural sheep wool felt Greensleeve is even made without sucking a drop of juice from  the grid -  put together on a 1935 Singer foot-powered sewing machine, claims the  makers at Gone Studio.

Philips launches its latest, greatest LED light bulb  at Home Depot stores this Earth Day Sunday. The unique yellow wrap on the outside actually re-balances the color output so the bulb produces a more natural looking light than prior LED-based bulbs. While putting out the equivalent glow of a 60 watt incandescent, the Philips bulb consumes just 10 watts and could save you $8 a year in energy cost, if used four hours a day. Oh and it will last for 20 years in that scenario. Keep all in mind when you go to buy one and are confronted by the $50-$60 price tag! Philips hopes to get the retail cost down to a third of that, in the short run with subsidies from power companies. 

About this blog
Earth to Philly is a weblog focusing on earth-conscious technology, trends and ideas, from a Daily News perspective. We look at the "green" aspects of your home, business, food, transportation, style, policy, gadgets and artwork. If you have a Philly-related story, Click here to let us know about it!

The experts at Philadelphia's Energy Coordinating Agency answer your energy questions in our regular feature Stay Warm, Stay Green. Send in your question or questions to energy@phillynews.com.


Look for Jenice Armstrong to supply tips on green living as well as occasional columns on the subject of Green. She also blogs at Hey Jen.


Becky Batcha stays tuned for the here-and-now practical side of conservation, alternative energy, organic foods, etc. - stuff you can do at home now. Plus odds and ends.


Laurie Conrad recycles from her ever-growing e-mailbag to pass along the latest travel deals, fashion statements, household strategies, gadgets, cool local events and other nuggets of interest to those who appreciate a clean, green world.


Vance Lehmkuhl looks at topics like eco-conscious eating, public transportation and fuel-efficient driving from his perspective as a vegetarian, a daily SEPTA bus rider and a hybrid driver, as well as noting the occasional wacky trend or product. Contact Vance with your 'green' news.


Ronnie Polaneczky sees the green movement through the eyes of her 12-year-old daughter, who calls her on every scrap of paper or glass bottle that Ronnie neglects to toss into the house recycling bins. Ronnie will blog about new or unexpected ways to go green. She also blogs at So, What Happened Was...


Sandra Shea and the DN editorial board opine on any green-related legislation or policy. And we'll pass along some of the opeds on the subject that people send us.


Jonathan Takiff will be blogging mainly about consumer electronics - those things that we love to use and that suck too much energy. He'll spotlight green-conscious gizmos made in a responsible fashion, both in terms of materials used and the energy it takes to run them.


Signe Wilkinson draws the comic strip Family Tree, which follows the Tree family as they try to live green in the face of nattering neighbors, plastic-wrapped consumer products, and the primal teenage urge to spend vast quantities of money on hair care products of dubious organic quality.


In addition to these updates from our newsroom bloggers, watch for an occasional feature, Dumpster Diver Dispatches, from Philadelphia's original "green" community of artists, the Dumpster Divers. You'll learn about creative ways to reuse and recycle while you reduce, and about the artists who are making little masterpieces from what others throw out.

  • Dispatch #1: Margaret Giancola's rugs from plastic bags
  • Dispatch #2: Dumpster Divers in City Hall (Art in City Hall series)
  • Dispatch #3: Wild wood, New Jersey
  • Dispatch #4: Dumpster Divers award winners announced
  • Dispatch #5: From sweaters to colorful cuddling
  • Dispatch #6: Green artists retake South Street Sunday
  • Dispatch #7: Isaiah Zagar: He's a Magic (Gardens) Man





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