The phenomenal worldwide proliferation of cell phones is generally viewed by consumers and telecommunications companies as a tremendous boon to personal communication. But the negative environmental impact may be worse than they imagine, with a growing number of cell phones and batteries ending up in landfills — sometimes just months after being manufactured and sold. This occurs because those phones can be considered by many people to be obsolete by rapid technological advances and the emergence of ever-smaller and more powerful models of phones.
Samsung, one of the leaders in the development and sale of cell phones and other consumer electronics, hopes to shift the trend with the introduction of the world's first solar-powered cell phone, the Blue Earth. It was introduced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on 16 February 2009. As its name implies, this latest addition to the Samsung lineup is an attractive blue, and it is designed to resemble a flat and well-rounded shiny pebble. The front of the phone has a full touch-screen user interface, and the entire back has a solar panel, which is apparently large and efficient enough to charge the phone. Yet the device sells with a charger, which is probably intended for owners who are not out in the sunshine long enough to fully charge the phone, for whatever reason.
Of all the cell phones available, this one is by far the most environmentally responsible, and not just for its solar panel. Both the electrical charger and the body of the phone are manufactured using PCM — a plastic derived from recycled water bottles that contains no beryllium, phthalates, brominated flame retardants — all of which are quite toxic. The phone has a special energy-saving "Eco-mode", and the screen brightness and backlight duration are easily modified to further reduce power usage. The charger is compliant with the latest Energy Star criteria, and consumes less than 0.03 watts in standby mode. The phone's user interface includes a pedometer, and calculates the amount of CO2 emissions avoided, and the number of trees saved, by walking. Furthermore, Samsung intends to use the lightest and minimal amount of packaging, all of it made from recycled paper.
One criticism raised against this new model is the claim that when the typical cell phone user holds a unit up to her head, that hand covers much of the back of the phone, which in the case of the Blue Earth would prevent the sun's rays from reaching the solar panel. However, users of the Blue Earth would quickly learn to hold the unit along its edges, leaving almost all of the solar panel exposed. In addition, there are plug-in solar panels that one can purchase and dangle from the phone, which would provide additional power. They also allow charging when the entire phone has been placed in a pocket or purse, as long as the supplementary panel is left hanging outside to catch the sun's rays.
This long-awaited advancement in the merging of telecommunications and renewable energy technologies, could very well signify the beginning of a promising era in energy-efficient and eco-friendly consumer products. In the realm of the ubiquitous cell phones, the new "Blue" may be the new green.
The most ardent champions of true knowledge are those who initially believe it to be false, are challenged to prove that knowledge invalid, and then research it with an open mind — thereby ultimately discovering its truth. An excellent example of this is when Alicia Voorhies learned that the pediatrician of her sister's son, had urged her to throw out almost all of the plastic baby bottles that she was using to feed her new son. Alicia, a recently retired nurse, was stunned to hear such advice from a doctor. She has always had a strong interest in medical research, and so in 2006 she set out to prove him wrong. Yet the more that she sifted through the medical evidence, the validity of his advice became more clear, as she learned more about the dangers of Bisphenol A (a.k.a. BPA) and PVC, especially when used in food containers.
Discouraged at the lack of options that she found for mothers who want to use the safest food containers for their babies and children, Alicia and her sisters founded their company, The Soft Landing, during 2007, in Olathe, Kansas — right in the heart of the United States. Even though there are countless online and brick-and-mortar suppliers of family feeding supplies, their firm is unique in that it is the first to specialize in toxin-free products. No items are offered until they have been thoroughly screened to verify that the supplier has not used any BPA, PVC, or phthalate esters (a.k.a. phthalates) in the manufacture of that item.
Consequently, parents and other shoppers can feel completely assured that Soft Landing's products are safe for all family members — including pets, who oftentimes like to chew on plastic items in the household. The company offers a wide range of products, including baby bottles, protective covers, nipples, cups, dishes, utensils, bibs, placemats, pacifiers, and toys. In addition, there are items for adults and children, including toothbrushes, water bottles, dishes, lunch gear, coffee mugs, and stainless steel items. Their website even has a section devoted to pet gear (so Rover can chew on something other than the baby's bottle!). Visit their site today, and see how easy it is to protect one's baby and other family members from toxic chemicals — and follow the challenging advice of a wise pediatrician.
When a team of people come together to pursue a common and worthy goal, then diversity of knowledge, skills, and backgrounds among the team members, can be a tremendous asset. This was certainly the case for the three partners who constitute Zehn Naturals, located in Keene, New Hampshire, and started in December 2007. Leonard Weldon is an oral surgeon and family man who is committed to helping people all over the world. Hannah Carpenter is a young artist with a strong interest in creative design. Tiea Zehnbauer is a mother with the knowledge and passion to help create a successful business.
Together they form an effective team that makes available a fun collection of certified organic cotton clothing for men, women, and children, as well as natural skin care creams and oils, ecological art, and gift packs. Part of the company's mission statement is "To create and distribute delightful, innovative, eco-friendly and inspirational products; that are good for the individual the community and the environment." Purchasing their products certainly can help the community, because Zehn Naturals donates 10 percent of its pre-tax proceeds to organizations that benefit the arts, education, environment, and healthcare.
As can be expected, the company receives a lot of positive feedback from their customers, including this note from the owner of a green body care company: "Not only are the tees super soft and cool, they are totally wearable for several occasions... This is a great combo: comfort, style and participating in protecting the environment. It doesn't get better than that!" This unsolicited and inspiring comment neatly illustrates the terrific results that flow from the power of diversity and like-minded people working together.
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