Good Energy

The guys at Good Energy have been really supportive and excited about the expedition, so much so that they have made a contribution which allows me to keep the blog regularly updated during the expedition, so they and everyone else can follow the journey. Good Energy supplies 100% renewable electricity sourced from wind, water, sun and sustainable biomass. CO2 from coal-fired electricity generation is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Switch your electricity supply to Good Energy using this link and not only will you be supporting the pioneering community of independent green generators, but for every sign up they get they’ll make another donation to help get the bus around the world. It helps you cut your personal CO2 emissions, helps them grow a great business, and helps me get round the world.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

The Price of Recycling and Shopping

In terms of valuing objects, Recycling is the opposite end of the scale to consumption, but it's the same process.

I heard this great urban myth;

A couple go to the souk in Morocco on thier first day and buy a carpet, not realising they should barter over the price. They pay top dollar for the carpet and the salesman wraps it in a red bag and as they walk out of the Souk, every carpet seller tries to attract thier attention and show them more carpets.

The next day, they buy another carpet, but this time they haggle hard and the salesman wraps it in a black bag. On the way out of the Souk no one tries to call them into thier shop.

The couple never realise that the red bag marks you out as a high paying customer.

Its a nice story but it isn't true. The price of an object or service is determined not by the cost of production, but by how much people are willing to pay for it. If someone can make it and deliver it to consumers for less than they are willing to pay for it, the it gets made.

I learnt this in my first week of my engineering degree and I was quite put out by the idea that I might design a great product, but if it was too expensive to produce no one would manufacture it.

The price is set somewhere between the value of the product to the person selling it, and the value to person buying it, with each one asking themselves, "what is this worth to me?".

When a product get to a point where the answer to "What is this worth to me?" is nothing, it gets thrown out, but that broken or old object may still have a value to someone else. That's when it gets recycled.

Recylcing is ecconomically driven. Things arent recycled unless it's worth the recyclers while. Again they are asking themselves "what is this worth to me". That's why we recycle paper, metal and vegetable oil, but not building rubble, or plastics.

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