How Does Recycling Cell Phones Affect Chimpanzees?

January 24, 2017 by  
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In the Congo Basin live many of Africa’s most iconic animals — elephants, hippos, mountain gorillas and buffaloes. Additionally, 1,000 types of birds and 700 kinds of fish call this their home, coexisting with the people who’ve…

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How Does Recycling Cell Phones Affect Chimpanzees?

The Surprising Green Lining at 2017 NAIAS

January 10, 2017 by  
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For an EcoGeek, there were many surprises at the 2017 edition of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). We’ve been watching the emphasis on green cars decline for a number of years. Some of that is in the mainstreaming of more efficient vehicles, with increased fuel efficiency standards, greater numbers of hybrid vehicles, and alternative fuels. But nothing brought home how far things have come quite so much as this year’s show. Last year, we thought , “the days of green cars being featured at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) seem to be over.” Where the “green” cars were once a niche item that were typically highlighted with special displays. This year, green is so mainstream that the 2017 Green Car of the Year is also the North American Car of the Year for 2017. Those awards, along with Motor Trend Car of the Year, all went to the Chevrolet Bolt. And there are many companies with multiple electric drive vehicles. Toyota, Ford, GM, and BMW each have a variety of options available. Some are all electric drive. Some are gas/electric hybrids. Some are smaller, shorter range commuter cars, while others are readily capable of long range trips. It is no longer the case that, if you want an electric drive vehicle, your selection is limited to the one model that a company offers. There are choices, and not just between this manufacturer or that one, but a variety within a company. Even Fiat Chrysler, which has in past years seemingly paid no attention whatsoever to eco-mindedness, has a hybrid Pacifica minivan, which offers an 83 MPGe rating. At this point, it seems that the automotive manufacturers don’t feel a strong need to keep pushing the market to accept electric vehicles or to get them to understand the benefits. That has been established with consumers, and it is now a matter of finding the right vehicles to meet the demand that they have fostered. What is exciting for us as EcoGeeks is that the pursuit of transformative technology continues. The lower level of the show has been an unpredictable sideline to the main floor show. In some years it has been almost like a ghost town. In others, it has offered a driving track with sometimes many different vehicles available to test drive. This year, the lower level was packed with dozens of different booths ranging from second-tier manufacturers (who make components and systems for the automakers), autonomous vehicle technologies, two different folding electric scooters, university racing and design programs, and a row full of developers of automotive- and transportation-related apps and services. As has been the case in previous years, hydrogen-fueled vehicles caught our eye as the next wave to watch in the transformation of the market. The joke about hydrogen fueled vehicles has long been that “Hydrogen powered vehicles are always 20 years in the future.” But now, after several years, that 20 years is starting to feel like it might be inching a bit closer. Where electric vehicles were a decade ago, hydrogen vehicles are today. They are something that some companies are dedicating some of their floor space to displaying. Toyota and Honda both have available hydrogen vehicles on display, and are selling hydrogen vehicles to consumers. In addition, GM, in conjunction with the US Army, has a fuel cell powered Colorado variant on display on the lower level as an investigational next-generation HMMV replacement which is slated for field trials later this year. Completely unrelated to attending the auto show, but perhaps a telling sign, while driving home on the highway on Sunday night, I passed a tanker truck carrying a load of liquid hydrogen. Perhaps it’s the shape of things to come.

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The Surprising Green Lining at 2017 NAIAS

Department of Defense Seeks Biodegradable Bullets

January 9, 2017 by  
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Calling all engineers: The Department of Defense is on the lookout for a new bullet that will sprout seeds, instead of waste, after it’s shot. In a call for proposals, the DoD says that the U.S. Army uses “hundreds of thousands of…

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Department of Defense Seeks Biodegradable Bullets

Apple’s New Headphones Aren’t So Eco-Friendly

January 6, 2017 by  
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As electronics take over every part of our lives, the need for easy-to-recycle gadgets becomes more important. If an electronic device is too difficult to recycle, odds are it won’t be. It’s the responsibility of manufacturers to make this a…

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Apple’s New Headphones Aren’t So Eco-Friendly

3 Reasons Why You Should Try Home Automation

December 15, 2016 by  
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As new technology makes the world smarter, our homes are being transformed by gadgets and fully integrated home automation systems designed to optimize our domestic lives. And yet even now when most of us are familiar with the Nest thermostat and…

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3 Reasons Why You Should Try Home Automation

This Holiday Season, Your Outdated Laptop Could Change Lives

December 14, 2016 by  
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Keeping up with the latest in electronics is exhausting — not to mention expensive — and a lot of communities are left without resources to obtain what some might consider essential technology, such as computers. Meanwhile, consumers are rushing to…

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This Holiday Season, Your Outdated Laptop Could Change Lives

How Games Can Make Sustainability Fun

November 22, 2016 by  
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Even though most humans are innately driven to protect the planet, they’re likely to dig in their heels and refuse when outside forces attempt to bully them into action. That’s why the long-established method of shaming people into changing their…

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How Games Can Make Sustainability Fun

Smartphone Recall: Will Samsung Consider the Earth?

November 10, 2016 by  
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Keep your seat back in the upright position, put your tray table up, switch all electronics to airplane mode, and turn off your Samsung Galaxy Note 7. This is the new script for airline workers now that the recently launched smartphone has been…

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Smartphone Recall: Will Samsung Consider the Earth?

We Could Power America with Relatively Few Solar Panels, So Why Aren’t We?

November 4, 2016 by  
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I recently saw an article going around about how much land we would need to power our country with solar energy, and I was blown away — to say it’s a small amount is selling it short. According to Elon Musk, we only need a couple of counties in…

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We Could Power America with Relatively Few Solar Panels, So Why Aren’t We?

What’s Blocking CRT Recycling?

October 27, 2016 by  
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Cathode-ray tubes, found primarily in old televisions and computer monitors stashed in people’s homes, are complicated to recycle — and there are fewer and fewer places doing it. Why? Each CRT contains several pounds of leaded glass, which requires…

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What’s Blocking CRT Recycling?

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