Putting the Cart Before the Computer


My relationship with shopping carts has always been somewhat impersonal—give me one with four operative wheels and no unidentifiable gunk stuck to the bottom, and I'm happy. But the computer geeks at Electronic Data Systems insist that consumers have a pent-up urge for intelligent carts. The brave new trolleys will read product codes to give customers information not only about nutrition and calories, but also about environmental and ethical issues surrounding potential purchases. Call me a Luddite, but I'm not sure I'm ready for moral advice from a device that never seems to be able to travel in a straight line.


Last week I mentioned that rainforests in Indonesia were being cleared for new palm oil plantations, which contributes to long term global warming. In commenting on the article, Richard Zimmerman, director of Orangutan Outreach, points to a more immediate problem: The primates are being slaughtered as palm plantations encroach on the forests.

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