Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Pay households for domestic output

We pay for what comes in, so we should be paid for what goes out
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(+2, -3)
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There seem to be systems which reduce electricity bills according to what power the house manages to generate from photovoltaics and wind power, which is good. However, many other domestic outputs are not only not paid for, but residents can even be fined for producing them, for instance they may be penalised for overfilling their bins. I think this is the wrong way round for two reasons. Firstly, it encourages people to think of the disposal of various things as a service, and secondly, they are discouraged from considering what comes out of their houses as a resource rather than waste.
I suggest, therefore, that residents be paid for what their homes produce. Right now, most residences produce solid excrement, urine, water, kitchen waste, other waste, potentially electricity and often data in various forms - for instance, their consumption patterns are of value to market research and if they are using peer-to-peer, they are probably illegally distributing media.

Right now, we pay water rates. This residence has an area of roughly fifty square metres including the gardens and house (see link). In the driest parts of the UK, that area would receive a quarter of a cubic metre of water per year. We pay the water company for water coming into the house and for water being drained from rain as well as for water entering the sewers from our plumbing. Per annum, this house produces:
The equivalent of twenty-four kilos of ammonia in the form of other nitrogenous waste, i.e. urea.
A quarter of a cubic litre of rainwater.
A minimum of fifteen hectolitres of urine (which obviously includes the urea).
Roughly a tonne of fæces (dry weight).
If we were an average household, maybe also a tonne of waste, but obviously we don't do that and it's hard to quantify.
An average household of four adults would produce around eighty kilos of food waste a year too.
Besides this, sun has occasionally been known to fall on our house which could theoretically be used to generate electricity, and a house with an internet connection could host media files for peer-to-peer networking. I want to look at each of these in turn:
Water: clearly this would be used up by the people in the house at that level. However, houses are sometimes empty since people go on holiday, go to work, rent them out but fail to get tenants, visit friends and so forth. A house which is empty for a long time could have its water diverted into a grey water system for the neighbourhood. Water is worth something to the utility company since they can sell it on having purified it, and purification isn't always necessary, for instance for garden use, laundry, flushing toilets and showering.
Ammonia and other nitrogenous waste is useful in various ways - fertiliser, fuel cells, internal combustion engines, explosives, refrigeration, cleaning, as a mordant and for various kinds of chemical synthesis. Besides that, urine contains phosphate, possibly metabolised drugs, water-soluble vitamins, hormones, electrolytes, and of course water. It's potentially very valuable, and in particular with certain metabolites, it would make a lot more sense to take these out and reuse them, maybe processing them back into drugs, than to flush them away to where they can make marine life sterile or whatever. There's also medical data in the urine and the fæces, and as we probably all know, Japanese toilets carry out urinalysis on wee. If ours did the same and the data could be traced to individual houses and their habits, as is available in marketing data, that's a huge amount of valuable medical information going down the pan unnoticed, as does a means of producing bacteriophages to treat bacterial infectious diseases.
Fæces is potentially useful as fertiliser too, though that's controversial, and as a source of medical data and a small amount of biomasse fuel in the form of methane.
Again, domestic waste is hard to quantify, but the biological fraction of it is at least a source of heat and calcium, and the recyclables of other stuff - fence posts, speed bumps, geotextiles, non-weight bearing building materials, whatever.
Kitchen waste - again, this is compost and biomasse, but also potentially some other things such as fuel, a source of glycerol, soap and other surfactants, paper, other stuff i can't think of off the top of my head.
Electricity: Since we in England live in a damp, grey place the solar side is not as good as it might be, though there's presumably some trade-off between sunlight as a source of energy and rainfall as a source of water financially. However, we do have wind and muscles here in England, and muscles can be used to pedal, operate a hand crank or treadmill, generating electricity.
Data: As well as the obvious sources of data in the form of marketing and medical information which fly in and out of the house, there are the masses of data which currently illegally move in and out of people's houses in the form of copyrighted material. The likes of publishers, recording companies and software manufacturers are missing a trick here: they have a free distribution system which they aren't using. Legalise the distribution, get users to pay to download and pay the users to host the files, and the problem is solved.
So, clearly there would be money involved in the infrastructure in many cases, but right now what we have is people giving resources to various organisations for free and in most cases actually paying to do it or being fined for not doing it. They could surely at least get a discount for all this.
Finally, here's a list of what we as residents can provide:
Medical and consumer/marketing data.
Grey water.
Various useful drugs and other compounds in small quantities.
Large quantities of lipid-related raw materials and polysaccharides.
Fertiliser and compost.
Lighter hydrocarbons usable as fuel.
Recyclable stuff.
Media and software distribution.
So anyway, i think we should be paid for that, or at least get a discount from the appropriate people, and i do realise the infrastructure needs attention.

nineteenthly, Feb 21 2009

Our house http://i122.photobu...enthly/domicile.png
In the middle of our street [nineteenthly, Feb 21 2009]


       You actually consume very little. What you pay for is the entropy you increase as things pass through your body or household, not so much the materials themselves.   

       One easy way of creating the system you describe would be paying double for stuff going in, and get half back when you return it. But (-) I'd hate the extra paperwork.   

       Peer-to-peer networking and media storage is so cheap as to be near worthless - that definitely isn't worth your time to even track.   

       The situation will shift in your favor in a world with Sci-Fi-style nano-replicators that make much more efficient use of materials.
jutta, Feb 21 2009

       What i'm trying to do here is link thermodynamics to the economy on a personal scale.
Concerning peer to peer of copyrighted materials, clearly certain people do consider it to be theft, which implies that they would prefer to continue to profit from it. I agree that it's too cheap to monitor, but the question then is, what are they getting paid for? I don't create that sort of stuff, so i don't profit from it. My views on the distribution system, which presumably keeps a lot of people in employment even though their work is not strictly speaking necessary, is that it does seem to be absurd. If i actually worked in it, either as a creative person myself or in the logistics, retail or similar, i imagine my views would be rather different. There are countless people out there who don't value what i do, but i do value it because i do it, thus avoiding cognitive dissonance.
I did think about replicators. In that case, the design of the parts produced becomes intellectual property. The way things are right now, it would make sense economically for the materials used for the likes of laser sintering to be very expensive, as the only sources of profit are making the machines themselves, the materials from which they're made and the intellectual property represented by the design and the patent. To me, that sounds like vendor lock-in and a racket.
Copyright is a legal right to control over information. That information therefore has monetary value. We also have information we can sell, and it emerges from our bodies in our urine and faeces, and in the modification of the low-entropy items we call food. We can sell the rights to that too. That's sort of what i'm aiming at here.
nineteenthly, Feb 21 2009

       Who will pay for what goes out? Currently, it costs money to get stuff hauled away that no one wants. I don't want your grey water and moldering wastes, but thanks for the thought.
sninctown, Feb 21 2009

       People haul it off now and do various non-profitable things with it. They could do profitable things with it. I do profitable things with it, so it can be done, provided the overheads are suitably small.   

       Why bury it in the ground or send it to a sewage farm when there's money in it?   

       Also, would you really prefer to be fined or taxed when you could choose to get a discount off another service for it?
nineteenthly, Feb 21 2009

       as noted, media/software redistribution is cheaper en masse, and you need a static IP anyways: but if you have one and spare bandwidth, consider redistributing indy friends' stuff: plenty of people do that.   

       Human waste from what I understand makes crappy fertilizer (even ignoring the health considerations) b ut I heard they grow rice in it in Japan so maybe that's just a little white cultural lie.   

       Some of your stuff is self-recycleable without needing a full-scale plant, but you need to ask yourself if it's more efficient/planet-saving than just giving it to somebody who does it on a grander scale.   

       Newsprint (here) I think can be sold (here) at $12/ton and aluminium goes for $800 a ton.   

       For myself, I just do aerobic composting (not brave enough to try anaerobic yet) and have a pile of nifty containers that look too useful to throw out, despite the fact that I don't use them.   

       I'm +'ing this though; our city recently'ish unilaterally mandated use of their own recycle containers and I believe one of the reasons was that their workers were complaining about freelancers sifting through people's recycleables at the curb, for bottles and cans (which I heartily endorse).
FlyingToaster, Feb 21 2009


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