Archives For pollution

The Electronic Waste Race

trash stream from electronicsOver the past two decades the evolution of consumer electronics have cause massive amounts of information to migrate from the physical world of paper into the digital network of electrons. Throughout that time increases in efficiency and capability have shrunk the physical size of computers while expanded the capacity for information and exponentially increased speed to move it back and forth. The same progression, however, has led to a new, complex and rapidly growing waste stream that we know relatively little about. At the same time, the lifecycle of our paper products has not been idle. Steadily improving forestry practices, more efficient production methods and vast improvements in recycling make paper a much greener option than it was years ago. More and more, we need to consistently reevaluate which medium is offering us the most sustainable option. Continue Reading…

Combined Sewer Overflow[tweetmeme source=”intercongreen”]Despite the advances that the United States has made in building technology, urban infrastructure systems and sewage treatment, waste water management still comprises one of the larger portions of our antiquated infrastructural network; namely in the form of Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs).

While some communities and cities have separate systems to collect and divert stormwater and sewage, many older American cities were built on the model of a combined system, meaning that rainwater flows into the same pipes that carry waste from your home for treatment. Given that there is half as much pipe, CSOs are certainly easier and cheaper to install but their long term function brings an environmentally expensive drawback. When the rate of rainfall reaches a certain threshold (sometimes as low as 1/4″ per hour), the system of pipes becomes overwhelmed and treatment facilities can no longer handle the excess load. In these storm events, overflows are utilized that dump the combination of stormwater and untreated sewage directly into natural bodies of water. Pretty disgusting. Continue Reading…