The Holidays are rapidly approaching us. Parents are scrambling to buy the latest toys for their kids. But did you know that green toys are actually a huge hit this year?
In the recent past, it has been difficult to get a hold of toys that are made of environmentally friendly products and/or made in the US. More and more toy makers are embracing the idea of “green toys” this year. It’s not just a push by consumers, it’s actually demand has risen for them. With so many toys being made without regulation and using dangerous products, it’s really no surprise.
Since the products are made with more sustainable products and are usually not made in China, there comes a price, literally. The cost on these products is usually higher than the cheap plastic toys you would normally find. Usually they are wood toys or those made from recycled or sustainable products. They may be more expensive, but people are still buying these toys. Why might you ask?
Well, the obvious answer is that they are better for the environment ans safer for their kids. Another answer that I have heard from those who buy these toys is that they are much more durable. They are made with higher quality and usually the products they are made from (i.e. wood) are much stronger. So in the end, you could actually be saving some money since you don’t need to replace toys that break easy.
So what exactly is the future of “green toys”. If the trend continues like it has this year, we will see a good portion of the toys being sold made with environmentally friendly products. It will be hard to take over the toys we find on the market today. Many still like the fact that they are cheaper and kids will still be wanting the latest cheap toy of their favorite TV or movie character. If the prices of “green toys” can come down some as they already have and if recalls continue to happen, we may see them take a larger share of the market.
Ahhh, the renewable resource conundrum. How do you really deter
mine the renewability of a resource? By rate or regeneration? Availability? Potential to re-grow? Monetary investments to ‘renew’ it? Natural balance?
Palm Oil, the latest explosion on the renewables market came under scrutiny for being a root cause of severe deforestation. Greenpeace and other environmental groups internationally protested specific companies that were harvested palm oil in unsustainable methods. In a twofold act, there was a push to make palm oil sustainable to help secure the growing market for palm oil as well as to provide a viable long-term product. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) formed to help provide guidelines based on a scientific understanding of the natural thresholds and best practices for harvesting palm oil.
The buzz? The Netherlands has publicly committed itself to be the first Country to use only sustainable palm oil by the year 2015. Companies have in turn been dropping Sinar Mas as a palm oil supplier after Greenpeace’s attacks on its questionable practices that may have led to severe deforestation. Among those companies Nestle, Cadbury, and Kraft were quick to drop the company. More progressive companies are themselves committing to responsible palm oil sourcing including Seventh Generation and General Mills.
Photo Credits 1 and Greenpeace.
With the Autobahn in Germany and the US’s extensive highway system who would have thought that Italy was actually the first country in the world to build motorways? Completed in 1926, the road from Milan to Lake Como, or the A8 was the first true motorway. Well, the Italians are at it again with the advent of the World’s first 100% solar-powered motorway!
What is a solar-powered motorway?
Good question! I did quite a bit of digging to truly understand the concept, and it is quite revolutionary. Focused on a reduced environmental impact for the long-haul for both the ecological system and the human system, the roadway will boast the newest innovations in energy, safety, and construction. This motorway, the Catania-Siracusa, is the first large-scale integration of major infrastructure and distributed power generation. It will feature 80,000 PV panels along the road that will power the lights, tunnel fans, road signs, emergency telephones, and all the services and street furniture. The PV cells are hoisted in 3 artificial tunnels on the road and are estimated to produce 12 million kWh on an annual basis. This will reduce an approximate 31,000 tons of oil and 10,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually. WHOA!
The additional ecological efforts included “the planting of thousands of trees and plants, improving existing tree lines and hedges, and increasing the extension of local woods.”
How far along are they?
The construction portion is complete and is scheduled to open to the public in January 2011. 1/4 of all solar panels were installed and operational at the end of September, and their steady progress has continued. To date they are expected to finish on time. Although the Italians have a little bit of experience in this sector having built out solar panels along the A20, Messina-Palermo motorway, totalling 368 kWp to provide electricity for all of the building located along the 183km motorway. They have also done a similar project near the Alps.
These are quite impressive numbers and efforts made for long-term sustainability through out Italy. Now if only we can learn from their efforts and do the same when our “season of Road Construction” starts up in the US after the winter months.
To learn more about solar-powered roadways, check out the Matter Network’s article.
Where do you think we should build solar-powered roads in the US? Have you heard of the Idaho man who suggests building roads WITH solar panels in place of asphalt? Now that is turning roads into truly productive and usable spaces.
Photo Credits: Reverberi Italy