This week at Treehugger: The chairman of Intel takes a shot at the $100 laptop for developing nations, is he right or just missing the point? Recycling electronics for charities: We just know that you gadget-geeks have enough obsolete tech in the closet to make these charity organizations happy. Be generous. Did you know that digital photography reduces silver pollution? And finally, the "Smart" power strip and the Wattstopper can help you fight phantom electrical loads and idle current waste.
India and Pakistan, with their millions of cellphones, are good examples of how a little technology can make a big difference. It also shows the possibility for developing nations to successfully leapfrog over certain development phases that the west went through (in this case, wired telephony). The $100 hand-crank laptop could be one of these helpful technologies, but now Craig Barrett, chairman of Intel, is insisting that there will not be a market for the devices, calling them a "$100 gadget". Is he right or missing the point? A rebuttal here.
This holiday season, lots of people, like this guy, may be asking Santa for a new cell phone or other fun electronic gadget, leaving the outdated, upgraded phone or other digital what-have-you out in the cold. We want to be sure these old digital cameras, PDAs and the like don't end up where they don't belong. There are over 500 million idle cell phones here in the States, and they contain toxins such as lead and mercury that can leak out of landfills and into drinking water and other harmful places. Please consider Recycling for Charities.
We know that silver sounds like a cool metal to have around, but it is actually more toxic than mercury when in the form of ions. One big source of mercury pollution is the developing of conventional silver-halide film. Experts say that, thanks to digital photography, silver levels have dropped by more than half in five years in the waters of the Stockholm archipelago in Sweden.
To make it easier to follow our "Unplug your cellphone charger" advice, these "Smart" power strips could be quite useful. The Wattstopper has six outlets controlled by occupancy and two outlets which are uncontrolled (read: normal), and use a motion detector of sorts to monitor and manage energy use. Devices plugged into the controlled outlets are turned on and off based on occupancy, or the fact that they're currently using energy. The Smart Strip monitors power consumption and can sense the difference between when computers and other devices are on or off. Upon figuring this out, it shuts off the power, eliminating the idle current drawn from them.
Treehugger s EcoModo column appears every Tuesday on Gizmodo.