Product Sustainability

Dear Pablo,

I’ll be blunt: Is my big new flat-screen TV killing the planet?

What you are referring to is the use of nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) in manufacturing LCD televisions. Back in 1992, NF3 was seen as an environmentally friendly alternative to the ozone-damaging perfluorocarbons that the semiconductor industry used in the plasma etching of silicon wafers. While this change undoubtedly had an impact on the success of the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer, the international agreement to plug the ozone hole, it is now being blamed for contributing to climate change. NF3 may not damage the ozone layer, but it has been shown to be 17,200 times worse for the climate than the main climate change culprit, carbon dioxide. (more…)

Dear Pablo,

Like many people in my generation, I am both a technophile and an environmentalist. Can I have the latest gadgets and be green?

I think you may have discovered the quandary of Generation Y (or is it “Why?”). How do we reconcile our visions for a more sustainable world with that uncontrollable urge to bring everything shiny and electronic back to our nests? The most sustainable answer, of course, is to address the root of this perceived need. Do I really need it? Can I borrow one? Can I rent one? Can I fix my old one? Can I play with it for hours at the Apple store until the novelty wears off? (more…)

Dear Pablo,

With the 4th of July around the corner, I was wondering: Do fireworks give off greenhouse gases?

I too have always wondered if fireworks are a fitting way to celebrate the new year when the global climate is high on our list of concerns. Let’s find out.

Julie Heckman, executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association, estimates that 18,000 fireworks shows occur across the nation on July 4 alone. According to the National Council on FireworksSafety, the United States consumed about 272.1 million pounds of fireworks in 2006, of which only about 9.5 percent are commercial fireworks shows. The remaining “consumer fireworks” are sold in roadside shacks and used to celebrate events and perform Darwin’s work. (more…)

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