Thursday, December 3, 2009

Yes, but why?

Hey there, fans of the environment and Jenn. Melissa here. I know, I know, here I am butting in just as Jenn gets back from her literary adventures, but I've been backburnering this review for weeks just because it's been a crazy month, and she's been asking, so here it is.

A couple of months ago, Jenn asked me to check out Guiding Light for your Mailbox, a product so tough to explain that the manufacturer, Sharpe Products, Inc., doesn't seem to be able to give it a blurb of less than 10 words. Their attempt: "The ultimate in night time home identification -- when seconds matter."

Actually, it's a mailbox "saddle" -- designed to sit on top of mailboxes -- with backlit house numbers, so emergency responders will immediately be able to ID your home from the mailbox, should the need arise.

"But what's the green angle?" you say? Well, the backlighting for the house numbers is solar powered. Four hours of sunlight charge three C-size rechargeable batteries to provide the illumination.

Does it work? I'm pretty sure you could see my house numbers from space, so yes, in that sense, it does work. There are some limitations. It only works for standard size, upside-down U shaped boxes that do not already have some sort of decorative housing on them (my box has a housing, so I was unable to fully screw the saddle down as intended -- fortunately we didn't have any gale force winds while I was testing it!).

Second, I live in a neighborhood where the post office has decreed that all mailboxes be on one side of the street, which means mine is paired with my across-the-street neighbor's. My box is on the "inside" as you drive down our street -- so emergency responders would have a great view of my box if they were stopped directly in front of it, but would have a hard time seeing it through my neighbor's box. I'm sure the company could find a workaround (like numbers for the front of the box), but....

One bigger question remains. Why? Why does this product need to exist? Adhesive reflective numbers that go on mailboxes or houses themselves have been around for ages, and they're plenty easy to see. And sure, it's solar powered, but why does the world need big plastic mailbox saddles, and all the chemicals inherent in their manufacturing process, not to mention the petroleum and carbon emissions from shipping them? And what happens to those saddles and batteries when they wear out?

Maybe there's something special about how Sharpe makes these that the company didn't bother to share in the packaging (ack, another environmental cost!), but even if there is, is it so necessary that it's worth all those considerations? I just can't see how. Just in case I'm missing something, I'll give Guiding Light for your Mailbox two leaves.

Subtract a half leaf, at least, if these are produced and shipped in your standard not-particularly-environmentally-friendly methods. My final thought for today (at least for GLR): Life cycle, life cycle, life cycle!

1 comment:

Jenn said...

Excellent, honest review here. I appreciate you checking it out and taking the time to really test this product. And as a frequenter to your home I can attest to having seen the way it operated.

I see what you mean about the solar angle being a good one but with the extraneous plastic manufactured around that aspect, it is not as positive as those far less expensive stick on, reflective alternatives.

In case anyone would like to check it out, here is the Guiding Light website.

As always, thanks Melissa!