Where we’re going, we need sustainability


Our world today is more polluted than ever. Though recycling practices continue to improve, our daily trash is often still dumped into landfills across the world. These man-made structures are detrimental to our environment and are a temporary fix for a long-term problem.  My challenge for Elon Musk would be to create a way to power our everyday gadgets, buildings, and automobiles with common trash.

In the 1989 film Back to the Future II, Doc Brown returns from (ironically) the year 2015 in the famous time-traveling DeLorean. As Marty joins him in the vehicle, the Doc opens the trashcan, claiming that he needs more fuel. Confused, Marty watches as the Doc loads trash into a fictional “Mr. Fusion” machine that converts everyday waste into usable power. The scene can be viewed here:

Personally, I can see an incredible amount of applications for this technology. Should Elon Musk be able to actually create something like this, I envision a network of trash cans in each house that collect energy from waste and use it to power the lights and outlets within the building. Since our phones computers and televisions all use outlet power, the trash would be able to charge these devices in a sustainable manner. Cars could be powered in a similar way, but likely use a contraption more like Mr. Fusion.  Finally, entire city dumps could collect spare trash to help power a city grid and decrease the costs of public transportation.

Though these are just a few of the ways this technology could be utilized, I feel that they showcase some of the amazing benefits it could bring to our society. It would help us substantially decrease our footprint on the planet while simultaneously bringing us a reliable source of energy. With Mr. Musk’s impressive track record (Paypal, SpaceX, Tesla), I feel confident that he could complete this project in the near future.

Video: Youtube

Featured Image: Here

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3 thoughts on “Where we’re going, we need sustainability”

  1. This is truly an invention that could save society, since we have an overwhelming amount of organic trash and a serious problem with fossil fuels. I recently wrote a paper about how a new trend in golf course construction is to build on top of sealed landfills. This is a first step, but repurposing our waste is clearly a step in the right direction.

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  2. I think this is in line with the idea of building self-sustainable houses, sort of like the living building challenge (http://living-future.org/lbc). Instead of filling landfills and using more and more space to put “trash” in, we can just use it and use it as a source of energy, which will immensely help decrease our carbon footprint.

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  3. I think some landfills already collect and use methane from trash. You want a home-based system?

    More people composting might be easier to attain short-term and they could use that on own lawns or gardens or sell locally.

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