We deeply regret the course being taken by the government of the United States. We believe this president and his cabinet are heading us in the wrong way and doing immeasurable damage to their country, the planet, and to the ability of people of good will to change civilization for the better.
If you agree, we hope you will vote to change the regime by clicking to VoteToImpeach.org
Our salvation has to be in our hands and our tools. We start with
a passion for preserving energy, our own and the energy capital of our planet. Every day we find new ways to use existing tools to improve life for every living species. The Internet is a wide-ranging, powerful forum for our learning and teaching skills, personal persuasion, and our unwavering intention to reform energy use until life can be sustainably enjoyed by every creature on our planet.
Thank you for asking.
We are irked by too much flash. Maybe it's the size of our modem, or the fact that we're out on the fringes of the web, who knows? We're trying to do a good job with information, which to us means the highest possible content per bit. It seems fashionable to use too many graphics, bells, and whistles, but since bandwidth (and everything else on the round Earth) is finite, our work shows that pictures contain half the content we might expect. If a picture is worth a thousand words, but takes as long to transmit as 2,500 6-letter words (a standard we try to adhere to) we believe we should send the words. We love eye candy (pretty graphics) inordinately, but on the web and for our audience, good design requires that form must follow function.
Why we look this way
Our little house graphic exemplifies the basic idea. Most of us live in too-big, complicated dwellings plopped on the planet with more regard for curb appeal than for the sun, the elements, and the quality of life of the inhabitants. And we suffer -- stoically, telling ourselves 'it has always been this way.' Well, it hasn't always been this way! Fifty years ago houses were half as big, and people enjoyed their lives twice as much. Choked with tech, held at bay by hurtling, screaming vehicles (the new top predator in our part of the planet), more than a few of us harken back longingly for life in a small shelter with a door and a window and a roof angled right to harvest the sun -- the house we drew as children. We may be simpleminded, but still we believe this website, if studied, will help people find their way home to this lovely place.
If you like what we've done, disagree, or want us to take a look at
someone else's high-content presentation, we BEG you to let us know via
the email address shown below. We live to communicate.
Even if you agree with us, especially
if you agree with us that solving our energy problems are among the most important tasks that face those now living, we urge you to join the Network!
by signing our Guestbook
. We'll know you're out there, and, if you'd like, we'll let you know when important things take place in the energy world and on this website.
Radical Recycling Project
Here's the deal, people: Waste, being an unsustainable idea, must be either eliminated entirely (like all the other living species do) or, worst case, separated into parts that can be recycled. We invented waste, and we need to take care of it.
It is useful to acknowledge different classes of waste. Legacy consumables (like unprocessed food) produce compost that other biological systems happily recycle to everyone's benefit. As long as that was the sum of our waste stream, the planetary engine ran perfectly. Durable goods (plastic bottles, window glass, and the like) may ultimately be recycled, but wise conservers reuse them first, and try not to buy durable objects that cannot be reused. This article is about the third class, strategic and toxic waste (batteries of all kinds, vinyl chloride gas left in rugs, all endocrine-disruptor-containg substances, such as flexible plastics of most kinds... the list is interminable and growing by the day
): items which include hazardous or rare materials.
Progress is being made on one critical front: consumer batteries. We know more than we let on, here at SUN, about consumer batteries. We have seen them trod into the clay banks of a distant amazonian tributary, the forecourt of a village in oceania, in the bed of an otherwise pristine stream in the Cascades, and along the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire. For one brief shining moment, Real Goods set the right example by offering a 'forever battery', a nickel-cadmium rechargeable with a potential for 400 or more cycles; when the inevitable 401st cycle came about and the battery would no longer accept a charge, customers were able (in theory) to send the spent battery back to Real Goods and receive a new one free (except for postage and handling.) A very reasonable way to deal with toxics! Of course Real Goods reneged shortly before the bell curve of exhaustion hit the "forever batteries." Want one more stirring example of the way deathless corporations change their spots more easily than humans and other lesser beings? Here's another corporation, a maker of under-the-sink water purifiers, with a toxic problem. Their spent filter candles (the ceramic tubes that fit inside a filter) must be treated as acutely toxic, since they accumulate volumes of suspicious grunge out of your water. To address this problem, the "filter kit" included a waterproof self-mailer and a very reasonable offer for swapping spent candles. That company went bankrupt.
Lead-acid batteries of the automotive flavor, also the heart of renewable energy systems
, are 99% recyclable -- everything but the decals, I am told -- and laws in place in the United States make it attractive to do the right thing -- take spent batteries back to the local depot, usually an auto-parts house, for proper recycling. Of course this doesn't work in developing countries far away from the mainstream of commerce. Ecuador, for example, has absolutely no recycling facilities for batteries, and so, to the best of my knowledge, the lead is lost and the acid pollutes whatever land fill happens to receive the spent batteries. This was the case in Hawaii until recently, with the result that every stream on the island of Maui, where we find the most endangered species per acre in the world, is polluted with lead and sulphuric acid. Every
stream! as if folks actually went out of their way to dump their batteries in pristine streams!! It's enough to make you crazy.
For technologically sophisticated items, like compact fluorescents, we've had good luck saving the boxes (and dating them so you know how long the devices actually lasted) and then sending them back to their makers. Of course it burns up a little more fossil fuels doing this, but we imagine it makes the point to the manufacturers, who are, after all, better prepared to deal with the waste properly than consumers or local landfills.
Participation invited : : if you have special knowledge about
manufacturers and extractors with enlightened recycling plans,
or the likeliest address to which to return broken technology,
please email us at the address below.
copyright © 1993-2005 Solar Utilities Network. All Rights Reserved.