This week at TreeHugger: The pesky RoHS directive claims another victim: the Palm Treo 650. When it comes to toilets, we really know our shit; check out the toilet that literally "blows the crap and water down the drain" and a toilet mod to retrofit your crapper with a dual-flush system. Want fly on airplanes and still practice good dental hygiene? Just because you can't bring toothpaste doesn't mean you have to stop brushing your teeth. Finally, even though there's lots to like about plasma TVs, we crunch some numbers and find out that those hi-tech toys use up to four times as much electricity as that clunky thing you just tossed on the street.
The Treo 650 smart phone is a neat gadget, but unfortunately it hasn't gotten the lead out. It has fallen victim to the Restriction of Hazardous Substances directive, and has had to stop shipping in Europe, because it violates the new laws imposed in July of this year. Treo enthusiasts don't have to fret, though; the company is expected to launch a replacement for the Treo 650 for Europe in the coming months. We hear that other heavy hitters in the gadget lineup like Pentax and Apple are also having some difficulties meeting the new regulations, so the shelves might be just a bit more bare as the RoHS cops continue to break out their whuppin' sticks.
Toilets aren't the first place we'd look to find the latest gadgetry, but the flushing industry has created some interesting innovations lately. First, there's Propelair's patented new potty, which uses far less water than other low-flush systems we've seen, by, quite literally, blowing the crap and water down the drain, with air as the plunger. Reading the details of the process makes us a little queasy about sitting down on this pot, so we also took a look at a dual-flush retrofit for your current crapper. A Canadian company called Aquanotion is offering the TwoFlush, a retrofit mod for your existing toilet. This $50 system replaces the inner mechanism of the tank but not the tank itself, and the installation (they claim) is a simple DIY job. We now know what we'll be doing next weekend.
With new regulations set forth by the US Transportation Safety Administration, carrying liquids and gels onto airplanes is about as easy as inhaling a grand piano. This makes it tough on anyone without checked baggage to do simple, everyday things like brushing your teeth. A company called Eco-DenT has the solution: their "toothpowder" is an airplane-safe way to keep up dental hygiene without having to buy a new tube every time you step off a plane. Because it's "toothpaste" in powder form, it isn't restricted by the airlines, leaving you free to brush your teeth as you please without having to stash it in checked luggage and hope it makes it to the other side. Though it will help protect you from bad breath, there's no word on its effectiveness against whatever snakes might be on the plane.
Lastly, we take a look at flat-screen TVs: we like the idea of a slim, space-saving, super-clear picture as much as the next guy, but in practice, they aren't at the top of TreeHugger's list. Here's why: according to a recent article in The Observer, if half of British homes buy a plasma-screen TV, the country would need two more nuclear power stations to meet the extra energy demand. Flatter they are, but when it comes to energy use, these hi-tech toys use up to four times as much electricity as that clunky thing you just tossed on the street. Plus, the handy stand-by feature doesn't help things either: "Simply leaving devices such as TVs and DVD players on standby at home puts up to 1m tonnes of carbon a year into the atmosphere and costs each household around 25," the article reports. Yikes; looks like we'll have to stick to TreeHuggerTV instead.
TreeHugger's EcoModo column appears every Tuesday on Gizmodo.