Are you overcome with guilt about how much carbon, sulfides, nitrides, and other emissions goodies were pumped into the atmosphere in the making of your new Toyota Prius? Do you feel dirty?
Well, Toyota has just the thing for you. It has genetically engineered two new species of flowers that soak up air pollution.
If you’re left scratching you’re head about this one, here’s a bit of background. Toyota, while offering industry-leading fuel economy in its 2010 Toyota Prius hybrid has a much maligned manufacturing process that’s been characterized as anything but green, compared to competitors. According to critics, the production process produces more CO2 gas than that of production of normal gas vehicles, nullifying the CO2 savings over the life of the Prius. Toyota disputes these numbers, claiming it makes up the difference in the first year of vehicle life. Whether the criticisms are true or not, the accusations mar the Prius’s reputation as an environmentally friendly vehicle.
So Toyota engineered two species of flower than absorb heat and nitrogen oxides (both common pollutants from the Toyota lines) from the atmosphere. Toyota’s new flowering genetically modified organisms (GMO) are derived from the cherry sage and gardenia and leave behind only water vapor after soaking up the potentially harmful nitrogen compounds.
Drive, who first aired the story, also points out, “The sage derivative’s leaves have unique characteristics that absorb harmful gases, while the gardenia’s leaves create water vapour in the air, reducing the surface temperature of the factory surrounds and, therefore, reducing the energy needed for cooling, in turn producing less carbon dioxide (CO2).”
Apparently Toyota will be adding the GMO blooms to the landscaping outside its factory in Toyota City, Japan. Other green initiatives at the plant include roof-mounted solar panels, photocatalytic paint on exterior walls, reflective solar tubes that provide interior light and slow-growing grass that only needs to be mowed twice per year (perhaps they should pull a Google, and just get goats?). Still other initiatives include bathroom lights that automatically turn off, and reduced air conditioning in the plant (employees are ordered to wear short sleeves and no ties to keep cool).
And just in case those initiatives weren’t enough, Toyota planted 50,000 trees since 2008.
Toyota insists that the initiatives are response to the criticism it has received. It says it’s just trying to do its best to protect the environment.