Blue Marble - February 2010

New Use for Old Computer Cords

| Mon Feb. 22, 2010 3:30 AM PST

Next up in our series of creative ways to avoid sending your e-waste to the landfill: a new use for old computer cords. I have a few dead ones haunting my desk drawers, ghosts of computers past. The excellent new book 62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer (and Other Discarded Electronics) has a few neat project ideas for these, one of which is a coaster (which, incidentally, we could really use in my house, since my poor roommate cringes every time we put drinks on the cool table she got from her grandparents). Here's how to turn your old cables into coasters:

Materials:

Large plastic cup

Placemat-size piece of cork

Marker

Scissors

Diagonal cutters

Computer power cable

Gaffer's or duct tape

Hot-glue gun

Instructions:

1. Trace a circle: Place the cup upside down on the cork mat. Trace a circle around the lip of the cup and cut it out with a pair of scissors.

2. Snip. Cut off the end of the power cable that would normally connect to the computer. Cut an additional 2" piece of cable from the end and set it aside for later.

3. Make a tape square. Cut two approximately 4"-long pieces of tape. Lay them sticky-side-up next to each other to form a square on your work surface.

4. Make the initial loop. Coil the trimmed end of the cable into the tightest possible loop that you can make. Stick it firmly onto the center of the tape square.

5. Coil it. Continue to tightly coil the cable around the center loop utnil you have created a similar spiral just slightly bigger than the cork circle. Your coil should be stuck firmly to the piece of tape. Use the 2" piece of cable you cut in Step 2 to plug the opening in the center of the coil.

6. Glue. Liberally apply hot glue to the surface of the wire coil. While the glue is still hot, center and press the cork circle over the coil. Hold it firmly in place until it dries.

7. Trim. Cut off the excess cable where it starts to spiral out from under the piece of cork. Glue the end of the cord and hold it in place until dry.

8. Peel. Flip the coaster over (so the cork side is down) and gently peel off the tape. If needed, fill the center of the coaster with hot glue to further seal it.

E-waste pack rats rejoice: The cord coaster is just one of Randy Sarafan's bright ideas. The be-ponytailed craftsman offers step-by-step instructions on how to make a first-aid kit out of a broken iPod, turn your old laptop into a digital photo frame, and make a dead mouse into either a pencil sharpener or a mini garden. We'll be featuring more of these projects over the next few weeks. So resist the urge to trash your old 'tronics for just a little while longer, okay? Cable cord project excerpted from 62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer (and Other Discarded Electronics). Copyright 2010 by Randy Sarafan. Used by permission of Workman Publishing Co., Inc. New York. All Rights Reserved. 

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Green or Greedy?

| Fri Feb. 19, 2010 3:43 PM PST

New Scientist is running an interesting feature revealing a gulf between public perception of a company's green performance and its actual green performance:

"If you care about the environment, you may want to show that in the way you spend your money. Do the corporations that benefit from our environmentally conscious purchasing and investment choices deserve their green halo?"

There's an interactive graphic you can play with to assess how a company is perceived versus how it performs. The assessment of public perception is based on a survey by Earthsense asking 30,000 US consumers to rate companies on a scale of 1 to 10. The assessment of actual performance is made by a company's Trucost score: the estimated cost of its environmental impact under a "polluter pays" system, as a percentage of its annual revenue.

The companies are broken down by sector: food and beverage, retail, media, travel and leisure, personal and household, industrial goods and services, technology, chemicals, construction and materials.

The companies range from the New York Times to Apple, Nike to Timberland, Burger King to Starbucks, and a bunch in between. You can also get a pretty good sense of how sectors perform in relation to other sectors: food and beverage, bad overall; technology, better overall.
 

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