Eco CornerBy Jacob Reiner
Choices for Sustainable Lifestyles
Green Gig watts
Computers are getting a shade greener this year. Sustainable materials are replacing plastic, and low energy technologies are making it easier to keep those gig watts humming. The new Dell Studio Hybrid is a super compact, energy-saving desktop PC. The unit is 80 perecent smaller than a typical desktop (saving materials) and uses 70 percent less energy (Energy Star® 4.0). The case is available in bamboo. Iameco of Ireland builds beautiful wood-finished computers, keyboards, monitors and wide screen TVs. These superbly hand-crafted products are made from ash, beech, maple and ebony trees and will lend your home or office a natural feel. The SlimStar 820 Solargizer wireless keyboard from Genius has a built-in solar panel to power itself, eliminating the need for those toxic disposable batteries. The wireless laser mouse uses ultra power-saving technology for a continuous operation of up to 15 months.
Palm Oil and Orangutans
Palm oil (not-so-eco) touted as a sustainable alternative to petroleum-based oil, is used in everything from soaps to lipstick to margarine and fuel oil. The oil is now in such demand that palm oil plantations are displacing and destroying rainforests in Indonesia and Malaysia on a catastrophic scale. Family-run sustainable plantations could be an option, but the current huge commercial operations create human rights abuses and are threatening the extinction of orangutans and many other species in Borneo and Sumatra. According to “Oil for Ape Scandal,” published by Friends of the Earth, the orangutan may be gone from the wild in 12 years. Contact FOE or the Orangutan Foundation to find out how you can help. The Orangutan Foundation offers conservation tours to Borneo to see the great apes in person and lend a friend a hand.
Friends of the Earth: www.foe.co.uk
Orangutan Foundation: www.orangutan.org.uk
Sony Bank goes Carbon Neutral
Sony Bank has become Japan’s first carbon-neutral bank. By purchasing 1.1 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy from the Japan Natural Energy Company (JNEC), they cover their annual power consumption, save the equivalent of 400 tons of greenhouse-gas emissions and support much needed investment in wind and solar energy in Japan.
Sony Bank: www.sonybank.net
Hokkaido Drift Ice Festival
The drift ice in the Sea of Okhotsk that floats by the Shiretoko Cape in northern Hokkaido each year may soon be a thing of the past. And so will the annual Drift Ice Festivals in Abashiri and Mombetsu. According to National Geographic, Arctic sea ice is disappearing much faster than initially predicted. In 2004, Abashiri had just 54 days of drift ice, down from the previous average of 87 days. Thousands of people visit the festivals in February to see illuminated ice sculptures beautifully contrasted against the night sky. You had better get there while you can.