Interesting Ideas for Clean Living

Dave Pollard compiles some ideas that could change the way we live. If oil prices keep getting higher, these ideas will find a more receptive audience among the resistant-to-change crowd.

Maybe we need to merge the great cradle-to-cradle design thinking of guys like Bill McDonough, who creates wonderful zero-waste designs for institutions, with the bottom-up, personalized approaches that I have advocated for business.

What if solar energy collectors were designed to look like trees, not like flat panels — more surface area, better fit with the environment? Could they even be ‘grown’ using fractal patterns and crystal-forming ingredients?

What if hats were designed as personal solar energy collectors — instead of just protecting us from the sun’s rays, why not have them harvest them? What about hair, even, which again has more surface area. Could our shampoo double as an application of wireless nanotech energy collectors?

What if we could harvest our nervous energy, and the energy expended when we exercise? I’ve heard of PCs and flashlights powered by hand-crank devices. Why not PCs and TVs powered by foot pedals, or ergonomic bicycle-type devices under our desks? Deskwork and good exercise at the same time.

What if instead of heating and cooling whole buildings, we designed our clothing (the design of which now is, let’s face it, pretty useless, not nearly durable enough, and quite silly) to heat and cool our bodies? No more fighting over where to set the thermostat — we each set our own. And don’t tell me it would look geeky or restrict our movement — good design can solve that. Just use birds as models.

What if we merged the technologies of the Smart Car (lightweight materials, miniaturization) with the technologies of the recumbent bicycle, the electric scooter, and the Segway, to create a human-powered enclosed vehicle that would achieve highway speeds and give us good exercise while using no fuel whatsoever? Can’t be done? That’s what they told the Wrights.

What if we developed a toilet that produced fertilizer instead of sewage, and delivered it through the sprinkler system right to your garden?

It’s time to stop excusing ourselves and blaming others for these disconnects. It’s time to stop amusing ourselves to death with fake-reality shows and the fate of some poor brain-dead woman in Florida. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. It’s a question of priorities, of combining energies, and of collaborating in a focused, informed and urgent manner to fix the disconnects and make it happen. We have a responsibility to make it happen. We certainly have the money, the ingenuity and the organizing technologies to make it happen, so what are we waiting for? We need to get past our learned helplessness and start talking to each other about things that matter, things we can fix, and enrolling ourselves to do so.