Buying Recycled Products is Good for Everything

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.

Read more.

The Social Capital Project

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 Helps Schools Recycle and Learn

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.

Shipyards to Wind Farms

A proposal making the rounds in the UK calls for modifying shipyards (which aren’t doing so well in the current economy) into modern wind farms. A good reuse of industrial space.

On a visit to Newcastle, the Liberal Democrat leader said that disused shipyards should be upgraded to allow them to produce the new equipment.

Under a Lib Dem plan, all port authorities on the North Sea and Irish Sea would be able to bid for a share of a £400m pot to convert shipyards into wind turbine plants.

Clegg said: “We need to make sure we come out of this recession with a rebalanced and green economy.

“New offshore turbines, with blades the size of the London Eye, need to be built and launched from modern docks, so we need to upgrade our shipyards to take advantage of this massive opportunity.

“Just imagine the docks and shipyards along the coastline of Britain coming to life and leading the world in this new technology.

Keep reading at The Guardian.

The Race is On! Speed Composting is a Go!

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Or in reality, our waste from consuming can be repurposed and turned into useful resources.

If anyone knows that there’s value in trash, it’s Waste Management — the big waste hauler collects 66 million tons of it every year. So the company has teamed up with a small venture-backed company that has developed a system that can break down some of that trash fast and turn it into natural gas, electricity, compost or all of the above, making some of that trash even more valuable.

Waste Management announced today it has invested in Harvest Power and will develop projects with the company. Harvest builds giant digesters — think of them as cow stomachs — that speed up the composting process. By creating conditions that the bugs that break down organic matter thrive in — a little warmth, a little moisture — and mixing it up to keep the process going, Havest can speed the natural composting process to six to eight weeks from double that. The output? No hamburgers, milk or leather, but otherwise the same as what you’d get from a cow: natural gas and good fertilizer.

Keep reading at Forbes.