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Eco-embedded: ban on fuel guzzlers, plastic bags...a clean drive every day

Eco-embedded: ban on fuel guzzlers, plastic bags...a clean drive every day
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First Published: Wed, Jun 11 2008. 12 16 AM IST

Plastic grocery bags are on the way out (Photo by: trendwatching.com)
Plastic grocery bags are on the way out (Photo by: trendwatching.com)
Updated: Wed, Jun 11 2008. 12 16 AM IST
If there’s one trend that will eventually render eco-iconic 1.0 obsolete, it’s going to be eco-embedded: “While the current good intentions of corporations and consumers are helpful, serious eco-results will depend on making products and processes more sustainable without consumers even noticing it, and, if necessary, not leaving much room for consumers and companies to opt for less sustainable alternatives. Which will often mean forceful, if not painful, government intervention, or some serious corporate guts, or brilliantly smart design and thinking, if not all of those combined. Think green buildings, or a ban on plastic bags or gas guzzlers—anything that becomes truly embedded into daily life, and by default leaves no choice, no room for complacency.”
•Learn from San Francisco, where an estimated 180 million plastic bags are distributed to shoppers each year. As of 20 November 2007, any large grocery store with more than five locations in the city of San Francisco is no longer allowed to bag groceries in petroleum-based plastic.
Plastic grocery bags are on the way out (Photo by: trendwatching.com)
The ‘free’ bags at the checkout stands will be made either of recycled and recyclable paper or of certified compostable plastic materials such as corn or potato starch...
Similar measures are being considered in Boston, Oakland, Portland, Santa Monica, and Steamboat Springs (Colorado).
Plastic shopping bags are banned in at least 30 villages and towns in Alaska. Worldwide, plastic shopping bags are banned in Bangladesh and Taiwan, while in France, a nationwide ban is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2010.
•Taking the ban beyond bags: In Australia, the soon-to-be-built $300 million (Australian) Totem shopping centre at Balgowlah may be the first council-enforced plastic-free zone in the country.
All 60 retailers, including Coles supermarket, will be banned from providing plastic bags. They will also be banned from handing out food and drink containers made out of plastic or non-biodegradable foam. (Source: Manly Daily.)
Credit cards
Carbono Zero credit card offered by Brazil’s Ipiranga gas stations (Photo by: trendwatching.com)
•By using GE’s Earth Rewards credit card, consumers ensure that a portion of their net expenditure will go to offsetting the emissions created by their purchases and activities. For example, spending $25 contributes enough to offset the emissions associated with running a typical refrigerator for a month.
Spending $500 offsets the emissions from driving almost 1,500 miles (2,400km) in an average car.
•Brazilian Ipiranga gas stations have launched a Carbono Zero credit card in cooperation with MasterCard, which offsets the carbon emissions from their customers. When a customer uses the card to pay for fuel, Ipiranga calculates how much CO2 emission that amount of fuel represents and will revert part of the sales to CO2 neutralization programmes. Means of offsetting CO2 include reforestation projects, preservation of the rainforest and sponsorship of renewable energy companies.
Green(er) taxis
As part of PlaNYC, the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission will implement new emissions and mileage standards for yellow taxicabs that will lead to a fully hybrid fleet by October 2012.
The New York Taxi and Limousine Commission plans a hybrid fleet (Photo by: trendwatching.com)
The new standards will be phased in over a four-year period and will reduce the carbon emissions of New York City’s taxicab and for-hire vehicle fleet by 50% over the next decade.
Green cities
•The much-publicized Masdar Initiative (Foster + Partners) is a newly-planned, 6 million sq. m development within Abu Dhabi and aims to be the world’s first “zero carbon, zero waste” city.
It will also be car-free, with surrounding land planned to contain wind farms and photovoltaic farms as well as research fields and plantations so that the city will be entirely self-sustaining. Completion date: 2015.
•Foster + Partners sure are busy: Moscow’s Crystal Island is a new development located on the Nagatino Peninsula, edged by the Moscow River, only 7.5km from the Kremlin. The $4 billion “city inside a building”, which would become one of the tallest structures on the planet, will reach 450m into the sky, and house up to 30,000 residents.
Moscow’s Crystal Island (Photo by: trendwatching.com)
The exterior facade will be solar responsive and will include solar panels which, along with wind turbines, will generate electricity for the huge tower.
Dynamic enclosure panels can be controlled to modify temperature inside the building—closed in winter for extra warmth and opened in summer to allow natural ventilation.
Crystal Island is scheduled to be built within the next five years.
•Dongtan is a new eco-city planned for the island of Chongming near Shanghai. Planned to open by the time the Expo 2010 opens in Shanghai, it will house 50,000 residents, while by 2040, the city is slated to be one-third the size of Manhattan with a population of 500,000.
Dongtan will produce its own energy from wind, solar, bio-fuel and recycled city waste, and—in order to reduce its impact on the environment—will only allow hydrogen-fuelled or renewable energy-fuelled cars on its streets.
Green nations
Green buildings, cities and... nations. The rush is on: In April 2007, Norway, the world’s fifth largest oil exporter, stated that it was aiming to be carbon neutral by 2030, while Costa Rica aims for the same by 2021.
California (practically a country by itself) aims to cut emissions by 80% by 2050. Sweden claims it will be the first oil-free country in the world by 2020.
And last but not least, in Iceland, 99.95% of all electricity used is already produced by green energy.
•Keep an eye on German cities like Berlin, Hannover, Dortmund, Cologne and Stuttgart, which have applied a complete ban on all vehicles that don’t have a catalytic converter or diesel particulate filter.
•The incandescent light bulb will be phased out of the US market beginning 2012. Under the measure, all light bulbs must use 25-30% less energy than today’s products by 2012 to 2014.
Earlier, Australia and Italy became the first countries to announce an outright ban by 2010 on incandescent bulbs. Countries such as the Philippines, Brazil, Venezuela, the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium and New Zealand are also attempting to introduce measures to phase out the use of incandescent light bulbs.
Excerpted from Eco-iconic, a report by trendwatching.com
The full report can be viewed at www.trendwatching.com
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First Published: Wed, Jun 11 2008. 12 16 AM IST