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Tag Archive | "Recycling"


Woman Recycles Airplane to Build Home

Malibu resident Francie Rehwald wanted to build a house that was both eco-friendly and had curves. Her architect, David Hertz, suggested salvaging an old 747.  Hertz says he came up with the idea of using an airplane because it fit all the criteria Rehwald wanted. 

“It soon became apparent, that in fact, an airplane wing itself could work,” he wrote on his website. “In researching airplane wings and superimposing different airplane wing types on the site to scale, the wing of a 747, at over 2,500 sq ft, became an ideal configuration to maximize the views and provide a self-supporting roof with minimal additional structural support needed.”

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Rock Resorts Starts Soap Recycling Program

The Rock Resorts, a luxury hotel chain based in the United States, has recently partnered up with Clean the World Inc. in helping collect barley-used soap and shampoo and providing the much needed supplies to people in homeless shelters in the Colorado area as well as impoverished countries around the world.

Every year, close to 3.5 million children die due to acute repertory illness and diarrheal disease. Clinical studies have shown that these deaths can be reduced buy up to 65% with soap interventions and hand washing education. By providing soap to impoverished people, Clean the World hopes to greatly reduce these deaths.

This effort and new partnership has a duel benefit of not only saving lives but reducing waste. Currently nearly one million bars of soap are discarded into US landfills daily.

“Rock Resorts is proud to partner with Clean the World to help provide supplies to homeless shelters and impoverished countries around the world,” said Paul Toner, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Rock Resorts and Vail Resorts Hospitality. “This partnership is a perfect complement to the Rock Resorts “ECHO” corporate social responsibility program, which aims to protect the environment, promote social responsibility and foster community engagement.

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Eco-Friendly Pizza Box the ‘Green Box’

It’s no secret that pizza boxes are often awkward little bitches – too big to put in the trash and often recyclers don’t accept them because of the food residue or size. With over 3 billion pizza’s being consumed in this country each year, it’s obvious a more eco-friendly pizza box is sorely needed.

A company named Environmentally Concious Organization is looking to fix all that, inventing the “Green Box,” a revamped box that comes pre-perforated. The Green Box breaks down easily into convenient serving plates, eliminating the need for disposable serving plates. The remainder of the box converts easily into a storage container for leftovers, eliminating the need for cumbersome and environmentally unfriendly plastic wrap, aluminum foil or plastic bags to store the left over pizza in the refrigerator.

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Easy Ways to Go Green

I have noticed over the years that for the most part, people are pretty receptive about suggestions to make their lives greener. Some people may believe that if they don’t buy a Toyota Prius then they aren’t doing enough. While large lifestyle changes are very beneficial, there are a lot of small changes that ordinary citizens can make to green up their lives as well as their community.

When I was in college my one professor, Dennis Johnson, told our class a story. He told us that one day he was walking across campus when he saw a piece of paper tumbling across the lawn. He then saw our president who was going in the opposite direction, walk out of his way to pick up the paper and throw it in the garbage can. He told us that if the president did not feel that picking up garbage was beneath him, than he had no reason to as well. This small act is something that I try to do on a daily basis. You would be surprised how many strangers walk up to me and thank me after throwing a piece of garbage away. This act is something that everyone can do and is a great way of spreading the idea of sustainability in your local community.

To pass the time until I find a full time position in sustainability consulting I have taken a part time job at a retail store. After working there for some time I became familiar enough with my bosses and coworkers that they knew all about my passion for the environment. I noticed that there wasn’t any sort of recycling program at the store. I went to my boss to ask if there was a reason for this and was told that they just didn’t think of it, but would be open to any ideas that I had. That is a common response that I have heard from people, they don’t think that such a small act of recycling will amount to anything, when in fact it is small acts that can have the largest impact.

One of the biggest hurdles that we have to jump is to make these changes the norm. If you are able to purchase wind credits to offset your electric bill then great, but if you are not able to, don’t think that your contribution is any less meaningful.  It is going to take small steps in the beginning to make large leaps later. Margaret Mead put it best when she said, “Never doubt that a small group of dedicated people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

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Recycling Batteries

Here’s the latest eco-video from our good friends at Grist. OK, we aren’t really friends so much as acquaintances. And by acquaintances I mean we’re rabid fans who stalk Grist staff and have a holy shrine with all their pictures on it.

Their latest video is a quick and sassy look at why and how to recycle batteries. What mainly caught our attention though was that although the video is titled “Cell Out: How-To Dispose of Batteries” it doesn’t really tell us how to dispose of batteries beyond stating that some companies will accept rechargeable batteries for recycling and then goes on tell us how to make a battery out of a lemon like we might shove one into our TV remote. (I’m so sorry, we still love you like mad!)

Upon looking into it more closely it seems that battery recycling isn’t exactly a straightforward situation even though it’s extremely important. Consider that household batteries are responsible for between 50 and 70 percent of all heavy metals found in landfills.

As they say in the above video, rechargable batteries can be recycled. What they don’t tell you is what to do with the non-recharble batteries. Normal household batteries can’t be recycled but that doesn’t mean they should be thrown in the trash (or the blue bin like Umbra does). They can go to  a special waste disposal program that differs in each community. Just google where to dispose of batteries in your location and then stockpile them for an occasional battery dump. Or better yet, rely on rechargables with one of these handy solar battery rechargers.

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David de Rothschild Building Plastic Bottle Boat ‘Plastiki’

David de Rothschild is taking recycling to a whole new level. Taking thousands of plastic bottles, which de Rothschild says are a symbol of global waste, and constructing a boat that he plans to sail from California to Australia, a journey of 11,000 miles.

“It’s all sail power,” de Rothschild said. “The idea is to put no kind of pollution back into the atmosphere, or into our oceans for that matter, so everything on the boat will be composted. Everything will be recycled. Even the vessel is going to end up being recycled when we finish.”

The boat, appropriately named the Plastiki, is currently being built on a San Francisco pier and is scheduled to set sail from San Francisco in April. Plastiki’s twin hulls will be filled with 12,000 to 16,000 bottles. Covering the hulls will be panels made from recycled a woven plastic fabric called PET.

“This actually is the same material that is made out of bottles,” said de Rothschild of the PET fabric. “We actually wrap the PET fabric over the PET foam and then basically put it under a vacuum, heat it, press it and create these long PET panels. So that means the boat is, technically, one giant bottle.”

Plastiki will also have a watertight cabin, which sleeps four. Two wind turbines and an array of solar panels will charge a bank of 12-volt batteries, which will power the onboard electronics.  The ultimate goal of the Plastiki voyage is to draw attention to waste as a renewable resource while encouraging people to embrace clean, renewable energy.

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Water Bottles – Pure Water and Pure Evil

According to a recent study done by the Pacific Institute, which conducts interdisciplinary research on three main programs of research: Water, Community Strategies for Sustainability and Justice, and Globalization,  bottled water requires almost 2,000 times as much energy to produce than comparable amounts of regular tap water. The study also covers the transportation costs of bottled water, and how much energy this consumes up and above normal bottled water production. This study furthers the growing realization of just how terrible the culture of bottled water has become, and highlights the disastrous consequences on the environment.

Americans purchase close to 30 billion bottles of water a year. Bottled water produces up to 1.5 million tons of plastic waste per year. According to Food and Water Watch, the manufacturing of that plastic requires up to 47 million gallons of oil per year to produce, and pumps 3 tons of carbon dioxide into the air. While the plastic used to bottle beverages is of very high quality and in demand by recyclers, over 80 percent of plastic bottles are just thrown away.

There’s a simple alternative to bottled water: Use a stainless steel thermos. Don’t like the way your local tap water tastes? Inexpensive carbon filters will turn most tap water sparkling fresh at a fraction of bottled water’s cost, which costs more per gallon than gasoline. If you don’t give up your plastic disposable water bottles for the environment, then at least do it as a response to the collapsing economy.

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The Story of Stuff: The Materials Economy

The story of stuff – An informative video on the flow of “stuff” we extract, produce, distribute, consume and eventually dispose of.

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General Motors Going 50% Landfill-Free by 2010

General Motors says by the end of 2010, half of its major global manufacturing operations will be land-fill free. The facilities plan to achieve that goal when all production waste or garbage is recycled or reused. So far, the company says 33 of its operations recently reached that status for a total of 43. At the landfill-free plants, more than 96% of waste materials are recycled or reused and 3% of that is converted to energy at waste-to-energy plants.

This will, in the long run, help the company’s bottom line. GM says as a result of its global recycling efforts, recycled metal scraps are approaching $1 billion in annual revenue. In North America alone, selling off its recycled cardboard, wood, oil, plastic and other materials added $16 million in revenue. GM has approximately 160 manufacturing facilities globally. It plans to make 80 of them landfill-free.

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