The United Pepper Lili Webcam is one of the first sustainable design electronics, and certainly the first sustainable webcam I’ve come across.
Made from sand, cotton and kapok, the Belgian designers (it’s manufactured in Vietnam) have tried to remove as much plastic as possible. 70% of the material is Fair Trade, and it comes in recycled (PET) packaging.
As a webcam itself it’s not bad. A 1.3 megapixel camera does the job as a webcam but don’t expect to be producing quality recordings with it. It has a built in microphone and when communicating with family it works great, though the colors can be a little washed out. The sand filled legs are flexible that makes it easier to position on difficult surfaces.
The test version I’ve got strangely has a seperate plug for the microphone socket, as well as the USB connector, though I’m not sure if it’s like that in the final product. Installation was on a minin-CD and was pretty simple though novices might find the lack of clear English and full instructions a little tricky. It has a manual focus lens too which actually made some things easier to see than my much more expensive webcam.
Overall, for a simple webcam with a built in microphone you can do worse, and for a sustainable webcam, you can’t do better. Available for $45 or €40 from United Pepper.
Being a bit of a computer geek, I love to upgrade my computer as much as possible before buying a new one. Not only is it satisfying to see a slow computer whizz along with some new RAM, it’s also much cheaper and avoids the tricky problem of disposing with the old computer.
There are plenty of other good reasons to upgrade your current computer. Some facts from the lovethe1yourewith campaign (how to upgrade your computer instead of buying a new one):
– The energy required to produce a new computer is enough to run a computer for 10 years
– The energy saved by extending the life of your computer by a year could run it for 2 years
– Help put a stop to the 220 million tons of e-Waste generated annually in the USA
The website has some easy videos to show you how to add more RAM, manage process, refresh your operating system and replace your laptop battery. Not for beginners but you should be able to find someone who can do it for you if you’re not comfortable. They have a nice fun video too (embedded below).
Amazon have just launched their Amazon Kindle, a revolutionary electronic-paper display provides a sharp, high-resolution screen that looks and reads like real paper. Whilst not the first on the market (the Sony Reader being the first that comes to mind), it certainly almost brings electronic book readers into the mainstream.
The Amazon page does a good job of promoting it’s benefits, on the Amazon page are many more videos and you can hear what Neil Gaiman (very interesting) & James Patterson have to say about it. The user reviews are interesting too.
Professional reviews have been mixed, with some thinking it is good or great, and some not so positive.
– All your books in one place (well, around 200 books, newspapers or blogs).
– No use of virgin paper and printing inks.
– Little distribution cost.
– Initial cost is high, needing a lot of second hand books to cover it.
– You can’t pass a book on.
– Proprietary format books are stored in (you can’t read them on your PC).
– It’s made out of plastic.
Overall my personal opinion is that buying or borrowing used books is better, however it seems that in the future this sort of technology will only become cheaper, easier to use, and more widespread.
A new web hosting company called Solar Energy Host is offering carbon-free web hosting. Based in Salt Spring Island in Canada and the first of its kind in the country, Solar Energy Host offers 100% carbon free web hosting that generates zero green house gas emissions.
It’s not carbon neutral but carbon free.
Company founder, Aaron Handford, said: “By using solar power to host the sites I saw an opportunity to make a difference in a real way. Instead of using the “carbon neutral” system where companies purchase carbon credits to offset their green house gas emissions, we offer a cleaner solution – websites powered by solar energy – nothing comes from the grid, it’s carbon-free.”
It’s a good idea as I often think trying to be environmentally friendly is at odds with the fact I’m using a computer to write about it on.
Some more details below, please let us know if you’ve had experience of using it. At the moment if you sign up with the code ‘solarrules’ you’ll get 10% off.
What makes it possible is a state-of-the art server that is part of the only solar powered professional web server system in the world. The servers and technology are based in California where solar powered solutions are cropping up in dramatic fashion. A Salt Spring Island based company; Solar Energy Host presents a great hosting solution – and another way to make a difference in the fight to stop global warming. For more information please visit: www.solarenergyhost.com
Now, I’ve no idea how true this is, it would be good to hear your comments.
When your screen is white, be it an empty word page, or the Google homepage, your computer consumes 74 watts, and when its black it consumes only 59 watts. Mark Ontkush wrote an article about the energy saving that would be achieved if Google had a black screen, taking in account the huge number of page views, according to his calculations, 750 mega watts/hour per year would be saved.
In a response to this article Heap Media created a black version of Google, called Blackle, with the exact same functions as the white version, but with a lower energy consumption.
As I said, I’m not so sure about this, are the savings too minimal? The fact the site is a custom search that has the potential to earn the owner money makes me wary, although of course you can be green and make money! Any thoughts?
A new public-private “Green Shift” taskforce that will be led by Manchester City Council has been created in the UK. It’s aim is to “reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the production, operation and disposal of computers ” with a “green PC” policy.
This involves removing desktop computer, and replacing them with desktop boxes that access central server controlled office applications, email and internet browsers. The scheme, that should be ready by 2009, hopes to reduce resource use in the production of PC’s by 75%.
This is an interesting idea, C02Saver is a desktop appication that will manage your computer’s power usage when it’s idle, saving energy.
Obviously the less electricity produced, the fewer harmful emissions and greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere.
I’m not sure whether knowing exactly how much C02 you’ve saved is a particulary interesting thing, simply adjusting your power settings manually would do the same, but without the figures. If anyone has tried this out, please let us know what you think.