Sustainability is becoming increasingly important to consumers in developed countries, although exactly what we mean by sustainability can differ in degree and guise.
LED lights for example offer a far more sustainable form of lighting than traditional bulbs such as halogen and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). There are a number of feathers in the cap of LED lighting in terms of sustainability.
They offer a reduction in CO2 emissions; they last longer than other bulbs reducing the need for replacements; there are no harmful chemicals involved in their production, and they can also be simply recycled.
But still, electricity is required to power LED lights, and this is electricity predominantly produced by unsustainable means. This means that LED lights do not represent a wholly sustainable option.
These methods, on the other hand, do:
The Dutch have always been creative innovators; it’s not so much that the solutions they dream up are widely implementable, but they are always really good fun!
In Rotterdam, a leading environmental firm has teamed up with an architectural company to create the Sustainable Dance Club. The idea behind the club was to show how, with just a little ingenuity, even a destination with considerable energy requirements can be transformed into a project in sustainability.
The club’s dance floor has been designed to harness the kinetic energy produced by the movement of people dancing, turning it into the electricity required to power the club’s lights and sound system. It is then down to the Dutch party goers to keep the lights on and the music booming.
A good DJ is of course essential; the last thing you want your DJ to be announcing to the masses when your club is powered by dance is, “here we go, grab someone special, it’s Chris De Burgh yesh!”
Frequently when the latest academic research is announced, we breathe a collective sigh and despairingly think, “Good God, Why?”
The latest research from two researchers at MIT has shown how an entire house can be powered by spinach. That’s right, spinach.
The two researchers have managed to create an electronic device which, through the use of spinach, can convert light energy into an electrical charge.
So how does this crazy system work? Well, the chloroplasts present in the spinach leaves work as organic semiconductors. These form solar cells which harness the energy from the sun, which can then be transformed into electrical energy.
Sounds simple? Well, it’s not. These researchers are from MIT remember. Is there likely to be any practical purpose for this technology? Well no, probably not, it’s academic research after all.
Having been inspired by the fine work of the good people at MIT, I decided to conduct some academic research of my own. My findings were as follows:
In the deepest depths of the world’s oceans there is no light at all. However, you travel to 1,000 metres below sea level in a submersible as I did last weekend, and you’ll see strange lights travelling through the darkness. Deep-sea creatures can create their own light resulting from a chemical change which takes place in their bodies.
So could you light your home with the careful placement of deep sea fish on your mantelpiece? No, of course not.
Although this has been a tongue in cheek look at sustainable methods of lighting, the underlying point is clear: we are certainly heading in the right direction and the importance of protecting the planet is more at the forefront of our minds than ever before.
Whether you use LED lighting or spinach to do your bit is irrelevant; the fact that you are doing your bit is the important part.