30 August, 2011

Green for the sake of it

It's nice that people are finally catching on to environmentalism, and its popularity means that even people who don't care about the environment take part just because it's fashionable. However, being popular means some companies only want to appear to care for the environment. The aim of this post is to point out things to look out for to see if a company is genuinely environmentally-friendly.
  • The most common offense is using reversed/inverted text, or "knockout text". This is white text on a black background, like the font on this site. What's wrong with this? Well, unless they're printing using white ink (unlikely), what they're doing is printing all the black parts and leaving the white (text) blank. This uses a lot more ink. So they have to manufacture, transport and apply more ink, and it also makes the paper harder to recycle since de-inking is one of the steps in recycling. Of course, this website is exempt, unless you print it (see 3rd point).
  • I'm all for using recycled materials to make new things, but this is only useful if the recycled material replaces new material. I don't like using beverage can tabs to make things like handbags for the following reasons: it's impractical - they catch on things and scratch things. Most of all, aluminium is highly recyclable and using it like that prevents it from being better used.
  • A small issue, but some websites claim to use less power because they use white text on a black background, the logic being less light needs to be produced. Well, I thought of that a long time ago, when I considered using a black wallpaper to increase my laptop battery life. It doesn't work for LCD screens. LCD screens produce all the light first, then remove what isn't needed. The only way to save power is to reduce the brightness. It might work for CRTs though, but if you're still using a CRT, that isn't going to save much power.
I don't like biodegradeable bags - they occupy more volume, weigh more and most irritatingly, tend to flake into pieces without warning when you store them, dirtying all your stored plastic bags. I'm waiting for some references to back up my claims before putting them up there though. Apparently, landfills are designed to let things NOT decompose, because that would cause settling and release gases. In that case, there's no point using biodegradeable bags. This is even more true for incineration (and everybody who claims to care for the environment should know how where their rubbish goes). The only good use I've heard of for them is to hold organic waste e.g. food or grass, so the whole package can be composted.

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