Designer Thomas Thwaites is on The Colbert Report tonight. [Updated on 11/15 with link to the video-EJG]
I recently interviewed him for OnEarth Magazine about "The Toaster Project," his attempt to "build a simple electric appliance from scratch."
Here's an excerpt:
Something I really like about The Toaster Project is that you use a light touch when discussing environmental problems that other writers go at with a sledge hammer.
I think that approach is slightly retrograde. It's not looking forward. The fact is, you can't just stop, rebuild everything, and then start again on a different kind of path. The only way is to gradually move towards changing things for the better.
Everyone is constrained by their lives. In a way, we have free choice about everything we do, but who's got the time and energy to make those free choices according to conscience all the time?
I call that "the underwear problem." No matter how much you want to shop ethically, or how much money you spend, your underwear is going to be this mass-produced commodity, made too cheaply by people who may not have been treated very well. But who has the time and skills to opt out by making their own underwear?
You can go to absurd lengths, living in a sort of teepee in the forest and growing your own food. That's nice as a project, but it's not a solution to a problem that is a global consumer problem. There's no way smallholding is going to feed the seven billion people in the world. That kind of retreat is not useful, I think....read the rest at OnEarth Magazine.