waste

MIDWAY: Where your plastic ends up

MIDWAY: Where your plastic ends up

MIDWAY : trailer : a film by Chris Jordan from Midway on Vimeo.

If you stayed awake in high school history class, you may remember that the Midway Atoll was a site of perhaps the most important battle in the Pacific during World War II. But if you had to provide any other information about Midway, you’d probably need to do a quick Wikipedia search (I know I did – and I loved high school history). The island group’s central location in the Pacific Ocean means that it’s also in the middle of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and, thus, a great place to take a look at the costs of our wasteful ways.

How to recycle that potato chip bag

How to recycle that potato chip bag

A couple of weeks ago, a friend tweeted out a question about recycling Tyvek™ envelopes. I responded that she could – if she mailed them to a location that accepted them. She was a little put off: after all, the envelope was marked with a #5 plastic recycling symbol, so shouldn’t she just be able to throw it in her recycling bin?

Green gifts: the dematerialized edition

Green gifts: the dematerialized edition

The holidays can be a tough time for a good greenie. Sure, you want to participate in the rituals of giving and receiving associated with Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, and, yes, you want to give your family members and friends gifts they want. But does that have to mean pushing aside any sense of environmental responsibility (or good ol’ fashioned green guilt) and hitting the mall (or the internet) for “stuff” that we’ll box (in that “free” gift box) and wrap (in unrecyclable paper)?

Green tech finds (7/21/11)

Green tech finds (7/21/11)


A 72,000 square foot tornado-proof (and kinda’ green) mansion, a sweet electric motorcycle, and a push for a redesigned toilet… this week’s green tech finds.

New Austin grocery store will be packaging-free

New Austin grocery store will be packaging-free

On our kitchen counter, my wife has a set of glass jars designed for storing staples: flour, sugar, coffee, tea, etc. Of course, we have to buy the products that go into those jars at the store, empty them from their packaging, and then either recycle or trash whatever they came in.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could just take those jars to the store and fill them?

Green tech finds (7/7/11)

Green tech finds (7/7/11)

Skiing down a Danish incinerator, seaweed for biofuels, and a solar unit that can save the lives of mothers in the developing world… your green tech finds for the week. The solar suitcase: Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic takes a look at the WE CARE Solar Suitcase, a compact solar power unit designed specifically for…

Hoosier reusers: Indiana University's Hoosier-to-Hoosier reuse intiative

Hoosier reusers: Indiana University's Hoosier-to-Hoosier reuse intiative

Ever been around a college or university campus when students are moving out of the dorms and campus apartments? Overflowing dumpsters were no doubt a part of the scene. Not only do those dumpsters represent a huge waste of material, but probably also significant costs for schools.

Indiana University in Bloomington decided last year to make the end-of-the-semester trash bonanza a part of its sustainability initiatives, and launched its Hoosier-to-Hoosier reuse program. The idea: give students a place to drop off the second-hand furniture, small appliances, and other items, sort them, and then sell them… some back to students themselves. Proceeds go to the local United Way and Habitat for Humanity.

Green tech finds (3/31/11)

Green tech finds (3/31/11)

LSA In Action from Sticky Advertising on Vimeo.


Plastic made from meat wastes, and “self-charging” cell phones… these and more in this week’s green tech finds.

  • Floating solar panels: “Offshore renewables” has generally meant wind or wave power, but an Australian company has developed a prototype for floating solar panels… and Indian company Tata Power is going to give the concept a go. Check out the Liquid Solar Array in action above. (via Calfinder’s Residential Solar blog)

  • Plastic bottle schools: Plastic bottles get recycled into all sorts of consumer products… but the Bottle Schools Project is turning them into literal building blocks for schools in the developing world. (via Springwise and @COSEnergy)

The Fresh Kills landfill comes to film

The Fresh Kills landfill comes to film

A couple of year ago, I took a look at New York City’s 20+ year plan to transform the closed Fresh Kills landfill into the city’s largest park. That plan represents the end of the story: for years, residents and leaders on Staten Island worked to get the landfill closed… with some even threatening “secession” from the city over the health hazards and sensory displeasure created by the US’ largest dump.

Kibera slums community turns trash into cooking fuel

Kibera slums community turns trash into cooking fuel

Extreme poverty, opens sewers, and lots and lots of trash: all are a part of normal conditions in Kenya’s Kibera. One of the largest slums in Africa, Kibera’s lack of sanitation services (or almost any government services) makes it a hotbed for disease. But an organization based within the community, Ushiriki Wa Safi, has implemented a concept that can help with at least one aspect of the unhealthy environment: using the massive piles of trash as fuel for community cookers for residents.

San Francisco bail bondsman makes art from trash

San Francisco bail bondsman makes art from trash


You may not think of a bail bonds office as a place associated with either environmental consciousness or artistic talent, but Barrish Bail Bonds on San Francisco’s Bryant Street breaks that mold. The 50-year-old business serves as a day job for artist Jerry Ross Barrish; his passion, according to KGO-TV, is making sculpture from plastic trash he finds washed up on the beach.

Electronic waste recycling via "ATM"

Electronic waste recycling via "ATM"

Got old cell phones or other electronic devices laying around because you plan to recycle them… one day? Yep, so do I… There are options out there for recycling electronics past their prime, but none of them are quite as convenient as curbside pick-up of other materials.

The ecoATM is one approach that’s attempting to close that convenience gap… and also to pay users for recycling their old electronics. If you’ve used a Coinstar or Redbox kiosk, you already understand the concept: one machine can not only accept those old cell phones, but also figure out their value, and pay the user with cash, a gift card, a trade-up certificate, or even a charitable donation. The video above demonstrates how the ecoATM works.

WASTE LAND turns garbage into gold

WASTE LAND turns garbage into gold

Lucy Walker’s Oscar nominated Waste Land is just another documentary about a Brazilian-American artist who travels to his birthland to create portraits of garbage pickers out of recyclable materials.

But it’s much more than that. Waste Land is about hope, collaboration, the environment, finding dignity through poverty, and the redeeming qualities of trash. (All those human spirit-y things I never like much under less felicitous circumstances—though I do like trash.)

Green tech finds (11/18/10)

Green tech finds (11/18/10)

Gardening apps, high-speed rail, and electric vehicles made from electronic waste… this week’s green tech finds.

Finnish culture meets green building: Traditional Finnish building involves a lot of wood, and the Luukku House design combines this tradition with solar energy, high-efficiency windows, and other “green” features. The design has won awards from both the Finnish Timber Council and Solar Decathlon Europe. (via Good News from Finland)
Onsite composting for restaurants: GaiaRecycle’s new G-30H provides onsite composting for restaurants and schools… no need to have those food scraps hauled away (or — shudders — throw them in the trash).

Five services that make compost for you

Five services that make compost for you

Composting is one of those green activities that may still scare you a little: after all, don’t decomposing yard waste, food scraps, and other organic materials attract bugs and smell badly? Done right, you can compost just about anywhere with minimal problems. But if you’re not interested in a worm bin in the apartment or basement, or shelling out relatively big bucks for an electric kitchen composter, the trash can isn’t the only option left.

Weird green building technology: recycling scraps into dog food

Weird green building technology: recycling scraps into dog food

What do you do with food scraps? OK, some of them probably go into the trash can or garbage disposal, but you may also compost vegetable and fruit peelings and leftovers. If you’re really die-hard, you may even use a bokashi system, which allows you to compost meat and dairy scraps.

The Sustainable Chicken Project: turning trash into eggs

The Sustainable Chicken Project: turning trash into eggs

If you’ve ever eaten eggs that comes straight from the farm (especially one that allows its chickens to range somewhat freely), you know that nothing from the grocery store comes close in terms of flavor. Master Composter Tom Shelley and farmer Christianne White, of Ithaca, New York, are trying out a new model for getting local residents hooked on such eggs while lightening their environment footprints: exchanging compostable “trash” for a regular supply of such eggs.

Sundance environmental films: materials, waste, and pollution

Sundance environmental films: materials, waste, and pollution

If you regularly recycle household materials, you’re likely moved by a spirit of doing something good for the environment. For many residents of the developing world, though, “recycling” materials thrown out by others is an act of survival. There’s likely no better place to witness this dynamic than Rio de Janeiro’s Jardim Gramacho, the world’s largest landfill, and photographer Vik Muniz made the landfill, and the catadores that reclaim materials from it, the subject of a series of photographs (shown as a part of his The Beautiful Earth exhibit).

Story of Stuff called "anti-capitalist"

Story of Stuff called "anti-capitalist"

In internet time, Annie Leonard’s The Story Of Stuff is relatively old. But the 2007 web video, produced by Free Range Studios and funded by the Tides Foundation and Funders Workgroup for Sustainable Production and Consumption (among others) has attained cult status in American classrooms. According to the New York Times, teachers around the country use the video to supplement environmental education textbooks that often lack information on recent scientific discoveries.

Creative teaching, right? Not in Missoula County, Montana, where the school board responded to a parent’s complaint about the video’s “anti-capitalist” message with a decision that use of The Story of Stuff “violated its standards on bias.”