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52 ways to save the planet: No. 6: The Marvellous Mechanical Mouse Mill

This is not some fiendish labour saving device Séba has created in order to supply him with small corpses, but this rather smart thing:
mechanical scales
I don't put mice in it though.

Back in January, as part of my Learning To Cook Like a Grown Up plan, I bought some new scales in the sales (House of Fraser and/or Heals, for anyone interested). Trés natty, mais non? They're made of bent, powder-coated metal, with a lovely big dial and smart bowl, and I saw some very similar in Shaolin Soccer the other day. You put stuff in the top (not mice, nor cats, nor breadcrumbs and butter beans) and the weight depresses the thing which turns the hand and tells you the weight. Energy consumption once the thing has been manufactured, shipped from China* and brought home? Zero. Plus it goes with my whole retro kitchen thing (the SMEG FAB fridge, the large kitchen table made out of a barn door on a trestle, the floral biscuit tin and Cath Kidston oven gloves, the custom built work area).

Here are some other scales, from another high street store. All but two of the twenty there are battery operated. Of the mechanical scales, one set is not in any way practical, being the old dope peddler style ones, and the other is fugly. Setting aside the fact that the electronic scales were probably also manufactured in China or another developing country*, and therefore subject to the same transport costs, they require:

  • electronic components which would be subject to the RoHS regulations in the EU but won't be in other countries. That doesn't just include how the microprocessor chip was manuafactured but also the type of solder used etc etc.
  • Alkaline batteries. Whilst it is possible to recycle these, they are not included as part of most council recyc schemes so are more likely to end up in the landfill bin.

You could use rechargeable batteries, thus reducing the waste but that is still taking energy. It seems like an expensive way to work out how much pasta you're planning to cook.

My point is not that we should all retreat to some pastoral past in which we did things by 'and and were grateful for exercise, by god, but that there are plenty of simple, mechanical solutions which cease having an environmental impact after manufacture/transportation. Plus, they look good.

*my bad, I know, and it's no consolation that the digital electronic ones will also have been manufactured and shipped from far off places, but it's a bit harder to shop local for some scales than for some sweet potatoes.

Posted @ 11:50 pm on Saturday, February 25, 2006
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