The Magic Washing Machine

If you have never seen or listened to any TED Talks, you should think about doing it. TED talks are amazing ways to learn about a myriad of topics such as global issues, science, politics, culture, business, innovation, technology, art and design, education and so on. As their motto says they are actually “ideas worth spreading”.

Hans_Rosling_1Hans Rosling, a Swedish doctor and professor in the Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, has participated some times in TED conferences giving fantastic and very motivational talks. One of his most popular, and my favourite one, is The Magic Washing Machine. It points out the benefits that industrialisation and technology have brought. Rosling gives us the example of the washing machine’s effectiveness for our lives. Washing machines freed up a lot of time and energy that people would have otherwise spent hand-washing their clothes. Check something. Ask to any senior person living in developed countries when was the last time they washed their clothes or sheets by hand. They might say you that it was a long long time ago, when there weren’t washing machines at home. In the case of young people, the answer will most likely be never. However, if you ask this question in sub developed countries their answer will be totally different.

Rosling roughly separates the world population by people who doesn’t have access to electricity (poor line), people who has washing machines (wash line), and people who has any normal technology gadget which can be found in a lot of homes in developed countries (air line). For most of us, our families’ generations crossed the “wash line” long ago. Therefore, it is difficult to realise the significant impact that such a simple machine can make in the lives of the less fortunate. The talker then states “if you have democracy, people will vote for washing machines”.  A woman from a Brazilian’ favelas neighbourhood will surely vote for it. Therefore, in a few years, because of population and economic growth, people will be able to cross the mentioned division lines. This growth and more technology adoption will mean more energy consumption. Most people would think that it’s not plausible, “not every one in the world can have cars and washing machines” if we want to preserve the planet! However, do we have the right to deprive people of innovation and better standard of living? I believe the answer it’s no.
Mali_-_Women_at_workRosling’s mother said to his son the first day they got it “ ‘Now Hans, we have loaded the laundry, the machine will make the work, and now we can go to the library.’ This is the magic, we loaded the laundry. And what do you get out of the machine? You get books.” His point it’s very clear here. Is it no better to have time for education and reading instead of doing manual labour such as has to go to collect water many kilometres away every day? After agreeing about this, we can start arguing about who and what should and should not consume energy

Balancing and adopting energy efficiency and producing more green energy are the main solutions here. There’s no need to deprive people of development and quality of life. Sustainable development is the key. It’s hip to be green! Modern technology has brought many benefits to our world and we can carry on innovating provided the technology operates within balanced limits. I consider myself an advocate of green policies but I believe that we need to recall Rosling’s closing statement: “Thank you industrialization, thank you steel mill, thank you power station, and thank you chemical processing industry that gave us time to read books.”

If you have time I totally recommend you watching the talk. Enjoy!

The Magic Washing Machine

Keep in touch, Twitter. About the new Apple green headquarters.

Navigating through Twitter I came across with a tweet by @iambiente that said “Nuevo campus de #Apple será el edificio más verde del mundo” ( The new Apple campus will be the greenest building in the world). So, knowing that I’m pretty hooked on this topic and Apple is a well-known brand I started to explore.climate week nyc

I’m sure that everyone interested in all the environment and climate change issues knows that today the Climate Week 2014 in NYC concludes. During this event, activites, conferences and workshops had taken place across NY city in support of the UN Climate Summit. Tim Cook, actual Apple’s CEO, participated in one of the events and announced that, as we all know, Apple is working on reducing its carbon footprint.apple carbonfootprintNot only in the installations but in its manufacturing and chain supply, and adopting more ecofriendly measures such as not using dangerous chemical substances in its products. However, the new Apple campus in Cupertino, CA, was the bigger disclosure. He didn’t give a lot of details so I tried to investigate by myself. Actually, the Apple website has a very good section about its Environmental Responsability and a good video about the new center so, I haven’t had a lot of work.

The new building is being designed by Norman Foster+Partners (as you know if you’ve been reading  the blog, this man and his team has me fascinated) and the goal is to built an innovative center that “has no net increase in greenhouse gas emissions”. The building will be ring-shaped and Sir Foster spilled one of his characteristic speeches: “It didn’t start as a circular building it really grow into that”. Seriously, I appreciate him, but man, architects can be a bit a pompous sometimes (wink).

Apple_Campus_2_renderingThe new campus is being built to meet the highest standards set by LEED. It will be powered by 100% of renewable energy sources, concretly solar power, and there will be no need to use air-conditioning for 75% of the year because of natural ventilation. Furthermore, 80% of the site will be open space and drought-tolerant plants and other resilient species will be used. In addition, they are planning the transportation to and from the campus to be greener too. I always welcome these kind of initiatives, commutate alternatives. Recycling programs also seems in good place in this company. They claim that their recycling programs collect a rate of 70% worldwide, when most of the companies only achieve a 20%.

Nevertheless, Apple has to start thinking more about ‘reuse’. The i·ambiente portal reminds us that, for instance, Apple buys gold to business without RSC. We all know that they can obtain it from recycling smartphones and other products. It’s a very good plan to built a greener building of course, but in a company like that they should also focus in that kind of issues and their carbon footprint. Specially, in the aluminium account. They already know it and we can congratulate them on trying to improve its life cycle and I’m wishing them good luck in their findings for new methodologies.

It’s hip to be green!

Keep in touch, Twitter. About the new Apple green headquarters.