Thursday, 19 February 2009

Single charger breakthrough for mobiles

Most of us have a drawer full of obsolete chargers at home, but this needless waste could soon be a thing of the past because in future it will be possible for manufacturers to ship new phones without chargers. The major mobile phone operators have jointly agreed on a micro USB standard for all mobile phone chargers. The scheme includes Orange, Telefonica, Vodafone, 3, AT&T, mobilkom Austria, T-Mobile, Telenor Telstra, Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, LG and Sony Ericsson.

The scheme was announced with week by Rob Conway of the GSM Association. He didn’t say when the certified compatible charger will appear but the GSMA has set a target to ship 50 per cent of phones with this charger by 2012.

Some commentators are concerned that applications like high definition video will need a better connector than micro USB. But even if a second connector is needed for these, any kind of standardisation is a step forward.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

New green marketing standard

The new PAS2020 standard, developed by the BSI with input from the Direct Marketing Association, Royal Mail and Acxiom, provides an independently-accredited standard of best environmental practice in direct marketing. There are three levels to compliance, with the first level designed to be easily attained and level three likely to require changes to the way applicants do business.

The PAS2020 standard applies to all forms of direct mail, not just direct marketing, although clearly "junk mail" is an easy target. DMA members can obtain the specification free of charge; it costs £80 to non-members via the BSI website. There's also an online campaign management calculator, to test planned campaigns for environmental impact.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Darwin on decarbonisation

Watching a documentary about Darwin last night, I was left pondering whether there are parallels to be drawn between his theory of evolution and the need to adapt to the challenges of decarbonisation. Darwin was prone to look for parallels in unrelated areas such as economics, so it's perhaps not so big a stretch as it might be. Maybe the ability of human beings to thrive and prosper in the coming decades will be determined by their ability to adapt to low-carbon living. Those physically adapted to walking and cycling, reading in lower lux conditions etc. would be favoured by natural selection and could evolve to become the humans of tomorrow.

In most animal populations, a group which grows beyond the capacity of its habitat to sustain it tends to fall prey to a drastic reductions in numbers, as competition for food and water weeds out those who are less robust. Sometimes the response is more dramatic, like the mass suicide of lemmings. And indeed, some are preducting that food and energy wars will be the inevitable outcome of the unbridled expansion of the human race.

Darwin, whilst a devoted husband and father, never forgot that he and his family were just mammals, and that their behaviour followed the same immutable laws that apply in the rest of nature. Something we would all do well to remember as we respond to the twin challenges of population growth and climate change.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Beauty Queens of Green

I'm not sure what to think about Miss Earth UK: the first eco beauty pageant, organised by Its heart may be in the right place, but the 60 girls from across the UK who gathered in Leamington Spa to compete for the chance to become an international ambassador for environmental awareness didn't all seem to have grasped the point.

We're used to beauty queens professing their desire for World peace and harmony, but these ladies are expected to prove they are "strong and effective advocates for Mother Nature". Some of them undoubtedly have a deep and abiding interest in ecological issues but others seem to think that wearing last season's River Island dress counts as recycling. In the end, though, Caroline Duffy who was crowned Miss Earth England proved to be a member of Friends of the Earth who volunteers in allotments.

Actually, I feel that a "more stilettos than sandals" approach is required to make environmental issues more appealing and that somehow we need to glam-up green. Maybe pageants like this can help. But I couldn't help a wry smile when I read that the essential piece of kit for contestants is a tub of good old petroleum jelly to make your legs shine and stop your lips sticking to your teeth when you smile. Now there's one product that needs a sustainable alternative if green beauty queens are really going to strut their stuff with sincerity.