PVC Alternatives Database

“From its manufacture to its disposal, PVC emits toxic compounds. During the manufacture of the building block ingredients of PVC (such as vinyl chloride monomer) dioxin and other persistent pollutants are emitted into the air, water and land, which present both acute and chronic health hazards. During use, PVC products can leach toxic additives, for example flooring can release softeners called phthalates. When PVC reaches the end of its useful life, it can be either landfilled, where it leaches toxic additives or incinerated, again emitting dioxin and heavy metals. When PVC burns in accidental fires, hydrogen chloride gas and dioxin are formed. For virtually all PVC applications, safer alternatives exist.... This international database is intended to help anyone from do-it-yourself enthusiasts to construction companies track down alternatives to PVC products.”

From Greenpeace.

>  24 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , , ,

Design for our Future Selves, II

The AgeLab was established at MIT in 1999, as a partnership with industry and the aging community, to develop new technologies promoting healthy, independent living throughout the human lifespan. Our research involves an array of disciplines including engineering, computer science, human factors, health and medical sciences, management, marketing, and the social and behavioral sciences. All of our work is motivated by a shared belief that the appropriate use of technology, along with innovations in its delivery, can have a significant impact on the quality of life for older people, their families and caregivers.”

See the article at Metropolis Magazine.

>  21 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , ,

Center for Sustainable Design

“The Centre for Sustainable Design [at The Surrey Institute of Art & Design, University College, in the UK] facilitates discussion and research on eco-design and environmental, economic, ethical and social considerations in product and service development and design. This is achieved through training and education, research, seminars, workshops, conferences, consultancy, publications and Internet. The Centre also acts as an information clearing house and a focus for innovative thinking on sustainable products and services.”

>  21 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in ,

Water, Hydrogen Power Island

“According to this article in The Herald Newspaper, the island of Islay, on the West coast of Scotland is set to become the world’s first Hydrogen Fuel Cell powered island. Scientests at Napier University wish to use the existing Wave Power Station to treat sea water and store the resulting hydrogen in fuel cells. The first plan is to power a building, moving on to powering the entire island in a decade.” From

>  15 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , , ,

IBM and the Holocaust

“In the US, in the 1880s, Herman Hollerith had designed and patented an electronic tabulating machine using punch cards to carry out calculations. Using this technology the Hollerith machine, in a pre computer age, was able to carry out complex accounting functions in a fraction of the time previously needed. Hollerith’s invention laid the basis for the foundation of IBM, which was to become one of the most profitable multinational corporations of the 20th Century. By the 1930s, IBM had become a leading US corporation under its Chief Executive, Thomas J. Watson, who was an open sympathizer of both Hitler and Mussolini. After Hitler came to power in 1933, Watson strove to build a strong commercial relationship between IBM and Nazi Germany. Through Dehomag, (IBM’s German subsidiary) IBM equipped Nazi Germany with Hollerith machines for numerous financial and statistical purposes. One use of the Hollerith machine was to compile data on German Jews - who they were and where they lived.” From a review of IBM and the Holocaust on

>  12 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in

Discarded Cell Phones Harmful

“Within three years, Americans will discard about 130 million cellular telephones a year, and that means 65,000 tons of trash, including toxic metals and other health hazards.... Cell phones, along with other "wireless waste" from increasingly popular pagers, pocket PCs and music players, pose special problems at landfills or when they’re burned in municipal waste incinerators because they have toxic chemicals in batteries and other components, said the report [from Inform, an environmental research organization]. These include persistent toxins that accumulate in the environment... [and] have been associated with cancer and neurological disorders, especially in children. The report urges the industry to take measures to reduce the amount of cell phones that are thrown away by developing "take-back" programs so phones and batteries can be recycled and adopt industrywide technical and design standards so phones are not thrown away after a user switches services. The report said a number of states including California, Massachusetts and Minnesota are considering legislation that would make manufacturers pay the cost of managing the waste from electronic products, including cell phones. Internationally, Australia has implemented a nationwide cellphone recycling program and the European Union is considering actions to make manufacturers responsible for electronic product wastes.” From Associated Press.

>  11 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , ,

Light. Cheap.

Instigated by Dr. Dave Irvine-Halliday, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Calgary, Canada, the Light Up the World Foundation “introduces a safe, simple, healthy, reliable and affordable form of home lighting, using white light emitting diodes. This rugged home lighting system will allow people in some of the poorest and least developed rural communities to light up their homes and raise their quality of living.... The lights are powered by a relatively cheap, belt driven pedal system and rechargable battery. It takes less than half an hour to put enough charge into it to run a set of 8 WLEDs for an entire evening.”

Found via slashdot.

>  9 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , ,

Design for our Future Selves

“The Helen Hamlyn Research Centre explores the implications of social change. Its focus is ‘design for our future selves’ — using design to improve quality of life for people of all ages and abilities. It has four core social change themes: ageing populations, changing patterns of work, mobility for all, innovation in care and rehabilitation. The Centre collaborates with the staff and students of the Royal College of Art and with a range of external commercial, academic, government and charitable partners.”

Research projects cover graphic, package, industrial, architectural, transportation, and urban design.

>  5 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , , , ,

‘Friendly Fire’ Deaths Traced to Dead Battery

“The deadliest ‘friendly fire’ incident of the war in Afghanistan was triggered in December by the simple act of a U.S. Special Forces air controller changing the battery on a Global Positioning System device he was using to target a Taliban outpost north of Kandaha.... Three Special Forces soldiers were killed and 20 were injured when a 2,000-pound, satellite-guided bomb landed, not on the Taliban outpost, but on a battalion command post occupied by American forces and a group of Afghan allies, including Hamid Karzai, now the interim prime minister.... The Air Force combat controller was using a Precision Lightweight GPS Receiver... to calculate the Taliban’s coordinates for a B-52 attack. The controller did not realize that after he changed the device’s battery, the machine was programmed to automatically come back on displaying coordinates for its own location.”

From the Washington Post.

>  5 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , ,


Transiciónes is both a spinal clinic and an “Independent Living Center” operated by and for disabled Guatemalans. In addition to medical care, the center provides vocational and educational training at a small graphic arts, desktop publishing, and printing business, as well as a computer and office equipment repair and maintenance business. The print shop produces notebooks, bound hard cover books, business cards, brochures, posters, and other jobs both large and small. The also runs a small center for manufacturing and refurbishing wheelchairs. The costs for living at the center are offset by the work of the residents, who also earn a small salary. And, in 2001, Transiciónes’ wheelchair basketball team represented Guatemala at the Central American Games. See the articles at Disability World and the Global Development Center site.

>  4 May 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , ,

page 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1