EcoModo: The Best of Treehugger

treehugger-gizmodo-week97.jpgThis week at TreeHugger: A series of roads built out of solar panels could supply all of our country's energy needs, several times over, according to Scott Brusaw, the founder of Solar Roadways. Dig in to "precycling," a hot new fad where you buy a gadget, take it home, strip it for parts, and sell the innards you find on the gadget black market for a tidy profit.

We all know we should recycle our laptops, but what about our sex toys? Europe's new law gives new meaning to the term "dirty e-waste." Lastly, check out the "Typing Orb," a clever gadget that'll help you crank up your typing and might just inspire you to power down your computer a little bit faster. Try following along with Scott Brusaw's series of convoluted calculations—premised, of course, on his own conservative assumptions—and you should come away agreeing with his basic argument: that a series of roads built out of solar panels could supply all of our country's energy needs several times over. At least that's what Brusaw, the founder of Solar Roadways—a company based out of his house in Idaho—wants you to believe. He has high hopes for his series of electric roads; in fact, he believes that they may very well hold the key to solving global warming (really!). His system of roadways—which would consist of three superimposed layers—would contain a revised version of the nation's electric grid (complete with a distributed network of independent power sources) and a network of fiber optic cables for television and communication. In addition, a "smart" system would be able to reduce gridlock by reconfiguring travel lanes, warn drivers of impending construction, accidents or adverse weather events and even protect wildlife by keeping them off the road. Far out, man.

Say you go into a store and buy an item, take it home and immediately disassemble it. Next, you sell the innards for profit; it's not theft, because you bought the item. Many people are referring to this clever method of extracting value as "precycling." The case in point today is this nifty trick with 12V batteries; as this handy video shows, you simply split them open to reveal eight 1.5V button-cell batteries; these can cost up to $5 if purchased singly. The profit is handsome; a two pack of the 12-volters cost $1.66, which will produce 16 new button batteries worth around $80. Not bad for a few minutes of clever work, is it?

OK, we all know we should recycle our laptops, but what about our sex toys? As European law now mandates the recycling of electronic devices, it is now technically illegal, and certainly irresponsible, to send your unloved (or over-loved!) vibrators to the landfill. UK company Love Honey has set up a rabbit amnesty to save folks the embarrassment of going to their local dump for proper disposal. But wait, don't send that favorite bedtime companion off in the mail just yet; users of this new service are being asked, of course, to please clean their toys first. Turns out they can handle the printed circuit boards, but don't want any other unnecessary...stuff along with it.

Lastly, ponder the Typing Orb for a moment. It changes colors the faster you type, starting at yellow and shifting to blue. Since we bloggers have to worry about their words per watt/hour ratio, this turns out to be a handy, production-maximizing, device (sort of); the faster you type, the less energy burned per word, right? We understand that these will be standard issue from TreeHugger headquarters soon.

TreeHugger's EcoModo column appears every Tuesday on Gizmodo.

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