Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Recycling Old Rabbit Ears

On June 12, 2009, television stations in the U.S. switched to digital signal broadcasting after more than 60 years of regular analog service. So what do you do with that old analog TV?

Because flat panel TVs consume 75% to 300% more energy than cathode ray tubes, it may be environmentally beneficial to keep the old TV and attach a converter box rather than recycle it and buy a new TV. If you have old gaming consoles, you can hook them up to the old TV and making a retro gaming station. (The old console games might look better on the old TV, anyway.)

But if you decide to get rid of the old thing, don't just dump it in the trash. First of all, doing that might be illegal where you live. Second, it's not nice to the environment. An old TV may contain 7 to 10 pounds of lead. Recycle instead.

Some manufacturers are participating in the Environmental Protection Agency's TV Recycling Challenge. Until August 31, 2009, you can drop off your TVs (and some other consumer electronics) for free recycling. See the bottom of that website to find drop-off stations for Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, Sharp, and Toshiba products.

If your TV is not manufactured by one of those companies, or if those drop-off stations won't work for you, you might be able to find a suitable recycling center at

Thursday, June 4, 2009

IKEA for the Undertaker

A fellow Octopus Overlord posted about these custom-built bookshelves that become the owner's coffin when he or she dies. This is an elegant idea that conserves wood, money, and time spent coffin shopping. The designer says that the coffin is more sentimental for having been part of the deceased's life.

I doubt anyone is going to be buried in one of these except the designer. The family of a deceased person probably won't be in the mood to reassemble furniture. And most people would prefer to inter a loved one in something nicer than veneered plywood.

But if the idea has practical merit, maybe computer desks can be reassembled into coffins. If you're a hardcore gamer whose computer desk has outlasted several of your PCs, that thing probably has sentimental value to you. And when you're buried in it, the coffin can be customized like your PCs were. Give it a window so that your calm face shows through, along with LED lighting of your choice of color.

One can even take a cradle-to-grave approach. When you're born, you get a parcel of wood that's shaped into your crib. The crib becomes your first bedframe, your first desk, your bookshelf, whatever you need as you progress through life. Then you're buried in the same wood. To make things even more environmentally friendly and macabre, the cemetery can collect the methane from your decomposing body for use as energy. If garbage landfills can do this, why not human landfills? Maybe each body in the cemetery can power its own eternal flame (for a while).

Writing this made me wonder whether customized coffins exist. In turns out they're an important industry in at least one part of the world.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Confirming McCarthy

In a previous post, I'd mentioned how Senators Inhofe and Barrasso were delaying an EPA official's confirmation because of their opposition to global warming legislation. Yesterday, they lifted the hold on Regina McCarthy and allowed her confirmation as EPA's Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation.

What may have swayed them was a letter from EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson conceding that the Clean Air Act was flawed for addressing global warming and lacked statutory flexibility for small sources of air pollution.

Those are interesting, but probably true concessions that didn't require a confirmation delay. Did Inhofe and Barrasso gain any ground by stalling the confirmation, or were they just putting on a show for their supporters? It will be interesting to see how they act during the country's new green movement and how Obama's EPA handles the daunting task of reigning in climate change.