Shea Gunther is currently at the Greener Gadgets Conference in New York City, keeping his eyes out for stories and interesting tidbits. This Twitter Stream will remain at the top of the page, but full stories will appear below.
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For a while now I've been in communication with Brett Mosley, the guy who started "BuyMyTronics.com." Brett's a huge EcoGeek...he basically buys broken electronics, fixes them, and then sells them on EBay. It's like recycling, but way better, because the gadgets get to keep living. He's recently expanded his business to cover iPhones, Zunes, and gaming systems, and is about to expand even further into cell phones and laptops.
But Brett is upset, and that makes me upset. Apparently, the sixth generation iPods and the current iPod Nano have been designed to be 100% unfixable. According to Brett,
The new generations of iPods and the iPhone are not designed to be opened. Because the Nano, iPhone and generation 6 "Classic" bodies are metal to metal the body gets completely trashed upon opening. In the Nanos and Shuffles, parts are actually soldered together, eliminating the possiblility of simple repair. So, for me, it will be harder to fix these, increasing repair costs and diminishing their resale value after they have been repaired.
All of this kinda flies in the face of Apple's new green image. So I thought maybe they were just trying to get people to send them back to Apple for proprietary repairs. I asked Brett if Apple maybe had special tools that allowed the to repair these metal-to-metal devices:
Besides charging you hundreds to fix it (which makes it more economical for most to just get a new one) they probably have to give it a whole new body whenever they open one. I don’t know how they could make a repair without trashing the body.
Kinda the opposite of green there. We need to hear more from Apple, obviously, but it's hard to imagine, in the midst of their "green-up" why Apple would switch to bodies that are impossible to open for repairs. Brett's answer: "Looks...Pure Looks." And as Apple has always been known, and commended, for its design, this doesn't seem too hard to accept. He also surmises that they might be trying to discourage the market in repairs and mods that fuel his and many other businesses.
But it comes down to the fact that, when choosing between extending the life of their gadgets and making things look pretty, Apple is landing on the side of pretty.
Making these models more difficult to repair is invariably un-green in the long run. By reducing their future re-use, value and lifespan, Apple is basically saying, "These gadgets are no use after two years, so send them back to us for recycling, and buy a new one."
Last month we wrote about Ferrari reducing its emissions by 40% over the next five years (by 2012). This week at the Detroit Auto Show, they took a step toward reaching that goal by introducing a concept car that runs on E85 (85% Ethanol, 15% Gasoline). The "Ferrari F430 Spider Biofuel" is essentially the always-beautiful Spider, but with a few modifications. The fuel injection system was tweaked and of course the computer systems were changed to reflect the differences in the fuel. Of course, that's not all -- it also comes with fancy green stripes.
Interestingly, these changes (not the stripes), actually increased the power output, likely due to ethanol's higher octane and being able to be used in higher compression engines, providing greater horsepower than from traditional gasoline. It also resulted in a 5% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, which doesn't sound like much, but if you consider that 85% of the fuel is nearly carbon-neutral (we must add some emissions due to processing of the organic matter), it's not a bad start.
But as Matt James so aptly put it, though I am paraphrasing, "it's still a fuel-intense Ferrari that's not really green, and for all the 4 or 5 times it's used in a year, from cradle to cradle it's still a net loss for the environment."
We all know that the MacBook Air is the greenest Mac ever...right? No mercury, no arsenic, low-wattage, and very recyclable.
Well, what if we told you there was a Mac out there that could be made 100% from recycled materials, fit in a regular envelope, and use fewer resources and power than any computer on ever produced...including the abacus?
Happy to note the following about the latest Apple MacBook, dubbed the "Air":
10:32 a.m. Jobs talks about progress on environmental issue. Says Air has an all-aluminum case (recyclable), first mercury-free display, arsenic-free glass.
That new display consumes less power, too, contributing to a battery life of over 5 hours (full use with all wireless options on). With special RemoteDisc software installed, it can read optical discs from other computers (it doesn't come with one of its own) - I've always thought it was bunk to have more than one DVD drive in a home, especially with Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11n networks in place - it's only an issue if you want to rip a CD the same time someone else wants to install a new program from disc, and who uses physical media anymore? In both cases, it would probably be faster to download anyways!
Of particular interest to anyone who cares about the environment is... the bromide and PVC-free circuitboards and the fact that the packaging is 56-percent smaller [than current MacBook].
Apple pushed Intel to produce really, really tiny chips for this particular computer, and everyone benefits when Intel makes smaller chips that consume less power - you can bet this technology will find its way into Sony, Dell, and HP laptops soon enough. Also of note is the option for a 64GB SSD, though at $999 it's no bargain.
It meets Energy Star 4.0 standards and attained a Silver EPEAT rating. Someone check my math, but 5 hours out of a 37 watt-hour lithium polymer battery would mean it consumes about 7.4 watts... that's in the same consumption category as some of the Super-GreenLinux Machines we've been covering, and it blows everything else at its productivity level out of the water.