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It's Not Easy Being Green

Earth Day is an opportune time to reflect on our environmental stewardship, or simply to hype touchy-feely green sentiments intended to spur further consumption.

As Kermit famously lamented, "It's not easy being green."

Not to be upstaged by a frog, Larry the Light Reading Attack Monkey notes that his employer -- the world's largest e-publication covering telecom and cable -- continues to press ahead in its mission to wipe industry trade magazines off the face of the earth. (See Larry© the Light Reading® Attack Monkey™.) Once successful, the strategy will save quite a few trees. It is unclear whether Larry will earn any carbon credits for the effort, though.

An issue on the minds of many greenies is the forthcoming digital TV transition. The Electronics TakeBack Coalition is pressing TV manufacturers to support voluntary national recycling programs for old analog TV sets. As Americans gear up to purchase 32 million new digital TVs in 2008, the company hopes to prevent legacy TVs from ending up in the junk heap, or even worse, a lake. The group notes that:

Discarded computers and electronics are toxic hazardous waste. Monitors and televisions made with tubes (not flat panels) have between 4 and 8 pounds of lead in them. Most of the flat panel monitors and TV's contain less lead, but more mercury, from their mercury lamps. About 40% of the heavy metals, including lead, mercury and cadmium, in landfills come from electronic equipment discards. The health effects of lead are well known; just 1/70th of a teaspoon of mercury can contaminate 20 acres of a lake, making the fish unfit to eat.

Speaking of greening TV, Discovery Communications will relaunch its Discovery Home Channel in June as Planet Green -- "the first and only 24-hour eco-lifestyle television network" -- to 50 million homes. Nothing like making green off of going green.

Turning to equipment suppliers, CommScope Inc. is using a stick, rather than a carrot, to promote recycling by customers of its Andrew Heliax cables. Through a program started in 1998, the company now recycles 66,000 of the reels used to ship its cables each year, saving some 20,000 trees annually.

The secret: Andrew started charging customers for the reels, but fully or partially reimburses them when returned in good condition. Some of those reels are really big -- as much as 3.5 meters in diameter.

—Michael Harris, Chief Analyst, Cable Digital News

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