A Real-World WALL-E?

Read the full post at The Heap.

Finnish engineering firm Zen Robotics has developed technology that may enable a free-roaming robot that can identify and sort a range of recyclable materials.


Via The Heap.

A little late for Star Wars Day (May the 4th — think about it), but relevant nonetheless: Cement your fanboy (or girl) cred with the rest of your neighborhood by rolling a custom modded R2-D2 garbage bin down to the curb.

And if you’re not handy enough to pull that off and still want a “near-sighted scrap pile” (as C-3P0 calls him) to hold your indoor trash or recyclables, there’s always the off-the-shelf model.

Source: neatorama, walyou

U.S. House: Biofuels? Let the military pollute

Read the full story at SmartPlanet.

The U.S. House of Representatives could thwart the military’s steady march toward meeting its renewable energy objectives if an amendment in a defense spending bill that lawmakers passed today becomes law.

House Republicans added an amendment to the House Armed Services Committee authorization bill that could overturn a provision in a 2007 law prohibiting the military from using high-carbon fuels such as liquid coal and oil sands.

Selling old gadgets: Buy back services compared

Read the full story at CNET.

At the pace that new e-readers, tablets, and smartphones are released, it can be disappointing how the latest gadget can make that shiny new iPad or Kindle you bought last year seem obsolete.

If you don’t have an endless budget for tech purchases and would rather not just dump the old one in the trash, or are looking to raise some funds, one way to recoup some of what you paid for old tech is through buyback services. They’re popping up all over, on the Web, in-store recycling kiosks, and even at major electronics retailers.

The appeal is obvious: people throw away or give away old electronics all the time, especially when there’s a new object of tech obsession to stand in line for. While eBay and Craigslist are good ways to find a new home for an old gadget, it requires some effort on the seller’s part. Deciding on a competitive price, weighing offers, and either shipping it off yourself or agreeing on a place to meet your buyer to make the exchange.

Services like Gazelle.com, Nextworth.com, and eBay Instant Sale do most of the work for you. They evaluate the condition of the item you want to sell and pay you with a check, PayPal deposit, or credit at a retailer based on the resale market value–which each service independently determines. And big box retailers like Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and Radio Shack have gotten in on the buy-back action too. They will take your old items for store credit toward a new purchase.

We’ve taken some gadgets that people might plan on upgrading from in the next few months and run them through the various services to figure out who offers the best deal.

An Inside Look at How CEOs View Sustainability

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Many business leaders have approached us giving markedly different assessments of the opportunities they see and the challenges they face since last year’s CEO study on sustainability by the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and Accenture.

It is clear that there is no unified view of sustainability, let alone a single snapshot of progress. There are real differences in attitudes, approaches and obstacles from sector to sector. What is clear, however, is that CEOs believe environmental, social and governance issues are becoming increasingly material to business performance and future success, and a growing number of companies are looking at the growth and innovation opportunity it might promise.

How Walmart Became a Force for Nature

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

A new book offers the first in-depth look at the many overlapping forces that drove the green makeover of Walmart — and what that makeover means for the world.

“Before I Die…” An Abandoned Building Transformed Into a Public Bucket List

Read the full post at Good.

Unless this singularity thing lives up to Ray Kurzweil’s craziest expectations, none of us will be alive forever. And that thought, while depressing in an obvious way, can also help us refocus on what really matters.

To that end, Candy Chang, an artist we’ve covered (and worked with) in the past, has transformed an abandoned house at the corner of Marigny and Burgundy in New Orleans into a giant chalkboard featuring a sort of public “bucket list.” A prompt at the top reads “Before I die…”, and in blank spaces below, passersby can use the provided chalk to fill in the things they want to do before they expire. The answers run the gamut from the inspiring—”Write a book,” “See my daughter graduate,” “Fall in love”—to the perplexing—”Travel 200 mph,” “Make love to Bill Gates”—to the unintentionally amusing—”Not write on a stupid wall.”

Drunk With Power: Scotland Uses Whisky to Create Energy

Read the full post at Good.

We always suspected that whisky was part of the solution.

The famous Speyside region of Scotland is home to half of the country’s 100 distilleries. They supply Scotland (and the rest of the world) with great whisky, of course, but that distilling process also results in lots of spent grains.

Now that byproduct of the whisky-making process is going to keep the lights on as well, thanks to a new biomass plant in the village of Rothes that just got the go-ahead. The plant will take spent grains from 16 of Speyside’s distilleries—including Glenlivet, Chivas Regal, and Macallan—and burn them with woodchips to create electricity for the region. The plant will also create fertilizer and animal feed from a residue called “pot ale” that collects in the distilleries’ copper stills.

Radical Confidence: Bringing More Environment to the Urban Environment

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

I’ve been in Moscow and Paris this week and urban agriculture is on my mind.

In the neighborhood of Montmartre, the street fronts are jammed with tiny fresh vegetables stands, fruit stores, butchers, cheese stores … you get the picture.

(It’s one of the small perks of a travel schedule that has me spending far too many nights on airplanes.)

The thing that’s striking about all of these little shops is how local they are. I have often paraphrased former House Speaker Tip O’Neill: “All sustainability is local” — and we can see it here in spades. But even here in France, the home of the artisanal cheese maker, drives for standardization and industrialization in the food industry provide countervailing pressures on the also growing locavore and slow food trends.

Environmental Life Style Analysis (ELSA)

Via RFF Library Blog.

IEEE International Symposium on Electronics and the Environment (May 19-20, 2008, San Francisco) / by Timothy Gutowski, Amanda Taplett, Anna Allen, Amy Banzaert, Rob Cirinciore, Christopher Cleaver, Stacy Figueredo, Susan Fredholm, Betar Gallant, Alissa Jones, et al.

[From Summary]  In this study we connect life styles and spending patterns to environmental impacts and economic implications for people living in the United States. The results show that even the most modest life styles (Buddhist monk, homeless etc) have impacts much larger that the world average. [H/T: Full Text Reports]