In Guangdong there’s a small town that specializes in recycling Christmas lights. They chip the lights into mm sized bits, and then use a modified sluicebox (a vibrating inclined water table) to separate the brass and copper from the glass, plastic and rubber by density. All of these bits are then re-used in other products. The entire process would be uneconomical in the US, because our labor is too expensive, and there’s no market here for plastic scrap.
Why are labels so attractive? One word shortcuts for frugal thinkers. Am I a freegan? What would that mean exactly? Who curates the definitions of our cultural -isms?
Reading through the Wikipedia article on Freeganism (which is as close to a cultural consensus on anything as I think we get these days), it seems like I’m close. Except that I’m not fundamentally opposed to eating meat (it’s the environmental degradation, antibiotics resistance, health detriments, and massive resource consumption involved in meat production that get to me… but a little free meat from the dumpster? Tasty!). I also have a soft spot for shiny new laptops and other information technologies, and I believe in the greed based toolkit of money, markets, and open competition as a way to foster innovation. But I also love composting, and creative re-use, and free non-materialist forms of entertainment and recreation like reading, and writing, and cooking from scratch, and I believe that unmitigated greed, and thus so-called laissez-faire (or perhaps in many cases more accurately crony) capitalism, left unchecked, are in the end destructive forces. Greed and self-interest are kind of like dynamite: the right amount in the right place is a wonderful tool. Too much, or even small amounts in bad places, and you’ve got a mess. So how do I respond to an e-mail like this:
- Fight against terror 'spells end of privacy' – Admiral Poindexter's Total Information Awareness is alive and well, and living in the front bedroom. Privacy is dead. Long live privacy! Transparency is our only hope. (tagged: transparency privacy surveillance police terrorism )
- FairShare — Watch how your work spreads. Understand how it is used. – A system for tracking how your content is re-published across the web, and potentially monetizing that re-use, or just making sure that people are abiding by your creative commons license. (tagged: copyright creativecommons technology openaccess )
- Dmitry Orlov: Social Collapse Best Practices – I'm sure I won't agree with Orlov on a lot of things, but I want to watch this just to see what the Dark Side is talking about. And he's reportedly funny too. (tagged: collapse economy crisis bailout longnow )
- Designing a Zero-Waste City: A Visit to the San Francisco Dump – San Francisco has a stated goal of zero waste to landfill by 2020. They currently divert 70% of their municipal waste stream, composting yard and food waste, taking in construction materials, sending usable furniture, clothes, plants, etc to thrift stores. The dump even has a coveted "Artist in Residence" program. (tagged: green urban design landfill compost waste sustainability sanfrancisco )
- Highway to hell revisited – A conservative commentator railing against… highways? Barring the political crap at either end of the article, I think he's got a pretty good critique of our national obsession with massive roads projects. Too bad we're just dumping a ton more cash into them. (tagged: transportation policy stimulus highways cars )
- This Old House – Conservative columnist David Brooks (from late last year) talking about how one might reasonably go about using the stimulus to re-invest intelligently, instead of just gushing cash at the construction industry. Sadly, his fears appear to have been largely realized. (tagged: transportation policy stimulus infrastructure obama urban nytimes )