Recycling the Dark Side

Posted by: Heather Green on May 18, 2005

Everyone wants to get on the Star Wars (Ok, Sith) bandwagon these days. And why not? From a Darth Vader blog to
pet costumes, the riffs and spin offs are flowing.

So why can’t the environmentalists dive in too? Why not indeed. An email from Earth911.org, a portal that focuses on local environmental action and information, popped up in my inbox yesteray. (That’s the tech tie-in to this post—the Web site. In case you were wondering…) Their pitch? A list of ways to recycle and reuse Star Wars souvenirs. It seems so trivial and yet so thought provoking at the same time.

Because, what's a better example of our unconcious habit of consuming and throwing away stuff than the stuff generated by Star Wars' movies....

You might think, ok greenies, pie in the sky, but those folks at Earth911.org have their numbers down.

"It's estimated that more than 250 million Star Wars action figures had been sold by 1999 alone, the year Episode I: The Phantom Menace was released. Given an average weight of .73 ounces per figurine, Earth911.org calculates the total to be more than 5,700 tons, the equivalent of approximately 1,453 Hummer vehicles. (Weight figures based on Episode III figurines: Anakin Skyjacker = 0.8 ounces; OB. Kinobe = 0.8 ounces; Yoda = 0.6 ounces.)"

Luckily, Earth911.org is also practical and not simply into throwing figures around. Indeed. "Fortunately, much of the other Star Wars paraphernalia and its packaging can be recycled," Anne Reichmann, Director of Earth911.org was quoted as saying in the press release.

Here's the dirt, as it were. And please note, though this group is undoubtably sincere about their concern about all this junk, they have a sense of humor. They get lots of points for that, in my book.

"To help fans resist the Dark Side, Earth911.org released its Top Five Ways Star Wars products and packaging can be safely recycled or reused right in your neighborhood. Based on zip code, people can search Earth911.org to find local recycling and reuse sites for hundreds of household products.

1. Most lightsabers - imitation ones, anyway - are built like flashlights and include batteries. These batteries can be recycled and properly disposed of by dropping them off at a local recycling center that accepts these items. Certain batteries contain highly corrosive materials that are extremely harmful to people and the environment, and should be recycled through municipal or commercial programs.

2. In the unlikely event that a Star Wars video or DVD loses its appeal, they can be recycled through a variety of local programs or donated to libraries.

3. Star Wars clothing may be donated to the Salvation Army or Good Will for children whose families wouldn't normally be able to afford this merchandise.

4. Product packaging, which often outweighs the product it holds, can be recycled through local paper and plastic conservation programs.

5. When Star Wars figurines eventually end up at the bottom of the toy box, they can be donated for reuse through various local organizations, such as schools and daycare facilities."

Who are these people, you might ask? Here's their full disclosure.

"A public/private partnership, Earth911.org is supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, state and local governments, and is funded by corporate partners including Home Depot, Hewlett Packard and ESRI."

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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