Shades of Green
Considering the ways we pollute and contaminate our environment, there is a dire need to come up with innovative and productive ideas to negate the lethal effects.
Initially, when scientists began noticing the devastating long- term effects of human activities in the name of progress and industrialisation, the global environmental movement began to gain recognition, transforming into a strong force by the mid- 70s. Several high- profile environmental groups such as World Wildlife Fund ( WWF) and Friends of the Earth have made significant contributions to managing and creating awareness about environmental degradation.
Realising the need to desperately search for innovative solutions, several attempts made by individuals and organizations have been recognised and also financially supported in order to stimulate the interest of the masses in the field. Recently a few ‘ next generation’ toilet ideas won the ‘ Reinvent the Toilet’ challenge. The idea presented involved the removal of water from human waste through a self- contained toilet that sterilises liquid waste and transforms solid excretion into fuel or electricity. Another idea was based on a solar toilet that uses sunlight to disinfect liquid- solid waste, producing biological charcoal ( bio char), which can be utilised as an alternative for wood, charcoal and chemical fertilisers.
According to Bill Gates, 1.5 million children die each year from consumption of infected food and water. Contamination from faecal matter is high in these instances. Gates says, “One of my ultimate dreams is to reinvent the toilet – find a cheaper alternative to the flush toilet that does not require running water, has smell characteristics better than flush toilets and is cheaper to build.”
The University of Toronto achieved third position in the challenge to ‘ Reinvent the Toilet’. They presented a toilet that could disinfect urine and faeces, while recovering resources and hygienic water. Loughborough University secured second place for a toilet that produces bio char, mineral and clean water. The California Institute of Technology achieved first position for designing a solar- power toilet which generates hydrogen and electricity.
In addition to these groundbreaking ideas, reduction of the carbon footprint and promoting greener practices has also become a crucial concern of many organizations. Despite the fact that wood is the most common building material yet it has been largely ignored in consumer electronics. With a carbon footprint 70 percent smaller than regular PCs and monitors, wooden pc casings would soon be available in the market. An Irish firm called MicroPro has designed the ‘Iameco’ device. The device is the first touch screen computer gaining the European Union’s Ecolabel certificate.
Micropro is also working on creating green laptops. It would also feature a wooden casing, cutting down on the use of non- renewable materials and would also help in making it easier to replace components, thereby extending the usage and lifespan of components in order to reduce carbon footprint.
In an attempt to provide a simpler, more affordable solution to the green energy needs of the masses, SpinRay Energy has introduced DeckPower120 solar appliance. The UL certified, 120volt, plug-and-play solar kit comes with one 240-watt solar panel. It can be easily hung on a deck or anywhere outdoor, using merely a mount bracket. It allows up to 1,300 watts of AC power with five solar panels.
A similar system is called SunPlug Plug n’ Play Solar Kit. This includes one 235-watt polycrystalline panel, WiFi module for monitoring, a 120 VAC/60 Hz grid-tie inverter, a connector to plug directly into an AC outlet and a racking mount.
Although the green technologies available are relatively expensive, many are investing in producing quality electronics at affordable prices.