Saturday, October 2, 2010

Horse Power - "At the Service of Sustainable Development"

Is it a wave of nostalgia or a wave of what the future holds in store? Or is it just a fleeting rendez-vous with an old flame? In 60 or more towns and cities in France and elsewhere throughout Europe, garbage and recycling trucks are being replaced by horse-drawn wagons.

Collecte hippomobile
envoyé par sudotone. - Découvrez les dernières tendances en vidéo.

One of the reasons why horse-drawn routes are feasible in some of these towns and villages is that there are many streets that are almost impossible to navigate with a truck. Obviously, this would not be a factor in North America, so you really wonder about how this kind of a system could be competitive with the massive recycling trucks that pick up the huge blue boxes in which the contents doesn't even need to be pre-sorted. It's a far cry from the horse and wagon in the video, picking up a couple of empty wine bottles at each stop and still taking two employees plus the horse.   

Even the venerable European Draft Horse Federation isn't super optimistic, its president suggesting that draft horses aren't an economically viable substitute for combustion engines except in cases where motorized vehicles are for some reason unavailable.

The mayor of a town in Sicily, Castelbuono, which has also been experimenting with four-legged power, would beg to differ.

"Compared with €5,000–7,000 annual running costs for a diesel truck, an ass costs €1,000–1,500 and can live 25-30 years. A truck costs around €25,000, lasts around five years and can't reproduce," says the mayor, whose four asinelli have now produced 25 offspring, so he won't even be buying any more.

Equiterra, a French organization that promotes the use of work horses for all sorts of purposes from plowing fields to transportation, offers summer schools in using work horses and has an optimistic view of the potential going forward.

Another use I would see as possibly compatible in some parts of North America would be as a vehicle to pull landscaping crews and equipment around. Especially if it were a green landscaping service, with a cartload of manual equipment instead of the proverbial over-sized pick-up loaded with lawnmowers, leaf blowers and high-powered whipper snippers.

Then again, without delving into it too deeply, one would presume that a cycle-powered alternative would work as well as work horses in many situations. The horse would perhaps have an advantage in colder or wet weather and certain other circumstances.

Not to mention... portable fertilizer production!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i think that might be portabello road marks & spencers cool picture, anyone have a pic of ROSES milk shop in lancaster road w10 ?