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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Will Wonders Never Cease?

Air Date: Week of

We follow up on listener line comments in response to Alan Durning’s piece on the “Seven Sustainable Wonders of the World.”


NUNLEY: And now it's time to hear from you, our listeners. We received a number of nominations for sustainable wonders following Alan Durning's recent commentary on the seven sustainable wonders of the modern world: those innovations which meet vital needs without creating a lot of pollution or waste. Durning's list included items like the clothesline, the telephone, and the bicycle.

CALLER: Hi, my name is Bryce Cunningham. I'm calling from Brighton, Massachusetts. My public radio station is WBUR in Boston. I will give you my list of sustainable wonders. I have a personal computer, the CD ROM, Internet, cornstarch-based peanuts for packaging as opposed to styrofoam peanuts, spirulina, the soybean, and public transportation.

NUNLEY: Tom Bloom from Iowa City, Iowa, a listener to KUNI, nominated the push lawnmower as a sustainable wonder; and Gretchen Pritchard of New Haven, Connecticut, had the same idea, plus another.

PRITCHARD: I have two candidates for sustainable wonders. One is the push lawnmower, which is quiet, uses no energy except human power, and cuts grass better than the power mower. And my second is the good old fashioned chamber pot. You may laugh, but in fact if all of us urinated in chamber pots instead of in flush toilets and then emptied the chamber pots down the sink and just rinsed with perhaps a cup of water, we would save a very great deal of water at no cost to our own health or convenience at all. So those are my suggestions. Thank you.

NUNLEY: Okay. Kathleen Ingstrom, who listens to Vermont Public Radio in St. Albans, Vermont, reminded us of another renewable wonder.

INGSTROM: Alan Durning, you forgot about breastfeeding being an ecologically sound practice. It not only spaces babies when women breastfeed their babies long enough. There is no packaging involved to throw away, no energy used to hear or warm up formula, sterilize bottles, etc.

NUNLEY: Finally, we received this call in support of an exceedingly humble bit of technology.

CALLER: Hi, this is Pete Peterson calling from True, West Virginia. I would like to add to your list of sustainable wonders of the world the flyswatter. Very low tech, inexpensive to produce, or you can make your own if necessary out of a roll of newspaper. You can be very selective about the insects that you kill. It doesn't have to kill any beneficial insects. You can just use it for the annoying ones. And it also is a little bit of exercise. Thank you.


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