Despite being more efficient and better than other forms of generating electricity renewable power generation does cause waste. The waste isn’t in the form of smog or tailing ponds or even radioactive barrels. When it comes to wind power the waste generated is broken blades, and there are a lot of them!
Rotterdam has taken charge of their ‘wind waste’ by turning it into playground and park equipment. It turns out that the blades used in wind turbines are perfect for making interesting local parks!
In 2007, the Rotterdam municipality unveiled a playground for Kinderparadijs Meidoorn built out of rotor blades that were originally destined for landfills. Several rotor blades were cut up into parts to serve as tunnels, towers, bridges, hills, ramps and slides. The recycled blades were secured into the ground and painted white with brightly colored stripes.
The city also has public seating at the Willemsplein square where nine intact rotor blades were placed at various angles to create ergonomic public seating with a diversity of seating options. Similarly, in 2014, a durable bus shelter was created in the city of Almere, again from end-of-life turbine blades.
According to the GenVind Innovation Consortium, if only 5 percent of the Netherlands’ yearly production of urban furniture such as playgrounds, public seating and bus shelters were made using waste rotor blades, then the country could get rid of all of its estimated 400 waste rotor blades produced annually.
When opening an office a key thing to take into consideration is where people are going to work. In these modern times just letting employees sit on the floor won’t cut it. Buying furniture can be expensive and add a lot to startup costs, so an enterprising company has taken to selling used furniture.
When companies upgrade their offices they just throw out their old furniture -8.5 million tonnes of it went into the trash last year! There’s money to be had in saving that furniture from landfills, and that’s where reusing office furniture becomes profitable.
“In Canada and the United States, the purchase of new office furniture is in the realm of a $10-billion-a-year industry, so the amount of churn is exceptional, and for the most part it’s always been considered a waste stream,” said Richard Beaumont, vice-president of strategic accounts at Green Standards. “Through resale, metal recycling and charitable donations we, on average, divert just under 99 per cent from landfills by weight.”
Reduce, reuse, and recycle is a mantra heard time and time again. Yet, not everyone follows it (remember that they are in that order for a reason: reduce what you consume in the first place, then reuse what you can, and recycle the rest). It can be easy though. When you do buy stuff (remember that you should try not to buy things – reduce) buy recycled because there are a ton of reasons from energy consumption to sending a message. Over at Grist they compiled a compendium of reasons to buy recycled.
Still, I’d encourage you to continue buying the 100-percent recycled stuff if you can — for foil as well as any other product — for so many reasons. Recycled content saves natural resources, so we can mine fewer metals, cut down fewer trees, and tap less petroleum. It uses less energy to produce, sometimes dramatically so; recycled aluminum can be whipped up with 95 percent less power than virgin aluminum. Recycled material slashes pollution and saves water, too. And let’s not forget it prevents our consumer castoffs from languishing away in a landfill.
Have a lot of stuff you no longer need or want but is still in a good enough shape to be used? Well, you can take inspiration from The Social Capital Project which is one person’s idea to get rid of things she no longer wants. Instead of disposing of her stuff by throwing it out she is giving it away to a good home which does a good thing.
I have a lot of great stuff. Most of it I don’t need. I started The Social Capital Project to help me find homes for my stuff. I didn’t want my stuff to end up in a landfill, most of it is still awesome and not ready for the bin. I conceived of The Social Capital Project as a kind of “barter” system where I would offer up my stuff and in exchange the person receiving the item does something nice in their community to increase social capital.
How does it work? It’s very simple. I post an item up for grabs. You do something nice for someone or your community and comment about it under the item. Then you get the item. In short: You get free stuff. I give away my stuff. And the world gets to be a bit better. Yay!
More info can be de found at The Social Capital Project.
Thanks to Dan!
TerraCycle is a company that wants us to rethink waste. They collect materials that would be sent to landfills and use them to create new products thereby creating less waste filling up the landfills.
Here in Canada they have been quite successful with their school programs – and have given money back to schools that have been good waste collectors. They have successfully diverted one million drink pouches from landfills in Canada alone and turned them into useful products.
Across Canada over 2,700 schools, non-profits and community groups have joined together to help collect the one million pieces. Exactly how much is one million drink pouches? It is enough to cover nine hockey rinks or 33 basketball courts. Students, teachers and community members from almost 3,000 communities across Canada are working together to assure this packaging is no longer waste and can be given new life by TerraCycle.
“It gives the students a chance to participate and see results for their actions. We can collect waste and get paid for it,” says Sandra Ross, parent volunteer at William S. Patterson P.S. in Clandeboye, Manitoba.
TerraCycle is upcycling and recycling the packaging collected by the Drink Pouch Brigade members into a range of eco-friendly consumer products that should be in stores within the next 6 to 12 months. TerraCycle can turn the pouches into everything from upcycled pencil cases to park benches!
Check out TerraCycle’s website.