Cleaning the Pacific, One Vacuum Cleaner at a Time

"Vac From the Sea" campaign from Electrolux promotes new line of "Green" vacuum cleaners

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Kevin Krejci
    Tangles of seaweed and plastic regularly wash up on San Francisco's Ocean Beach. Why not stop making all that disposable crap in the first place?

    For anyone who's seen a beach littered with plastic (or, you know, millions of gallons of oil), or follow reports about the Plastiki's awareness raising trip to the Pacific Garbage Patch -- a swirl of plastic trash and particulate -- salvaging that waste and recycling it seems like a great idea.

    So one the surface, the new "Vac From the Sea" promotion from Swedish appliance manufacturer Electrolux seems like a great idea.

    Plastic waste will be collected from points around the world, including the Pacific Garbage Patch, then melted down into new plastic and turned into a handful of showpiece vacuum cleaners.

    The idea seems to be to raise awareness of plastic waste in the world's oceans, as well as how the demand for recycled plastic outstrips supply.

    But remember, this is simply a small project -- the amount of plastic salvaged and recycled will amount to, ahem, a drop in the ocean.

    And the appliances won't necessarily be for sale, but for show.

    You can, however, buy a new line of "green" vacuum cleaners that use some recycled plastic from other sources and lower-power motors for less energy consumption.

    Here's a tip for Electrolux, and other producers of appliances and home electronics (looking at you, Silicon Valley):

    Instead of building cheap, disposable new products from a bit of recycled material, letting them end up in landfills or the ocean, and then recycling the raw materials into more cheap, disposable new products--starting the process all over again--why not just make things that are sturdy, easy to repair and upgrade and therefore last a lifetime?

    Photo by Kevin Krejci.Jackson West remembers when "electronics recycling" meant fixing things that were broken instead of melting them down.