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Making Cardboard Green

Let’s face it, we all have to ship stuff from time to time, regardless of how un-green it can seem. Aunt Martha will be disappointed if you don’t send her a birthday gift, and what about all that old stuff you can sell on ebay so that someone else can re-use it? People who feel guilty about the carbon they’re expending by shipping stuff can rest assured now: UPS is trying to make its business more sustainable.

For example, UPS calculates the carbon footprint of all of its routes and has determined that more right-hand turns are more sustainable. By doing so, the company has saved 10 million gallons of gasoline since 2004 and last year reduced the amount of fuel consumed per package by 3.3 percent. They also buy carbon offsets to fund conservation projects for customers that request carbon-neutral shipments. They use something called “cube optimization” to ensure that packages are no larger than they need to be. And they use environmentally-friendly packaging materials, such as corrugated cardboard, which is both easy to recycle and also comprised of recycled materials.

Speaking of cardboard… there’s a 9 year old boy in East L.A. who has turned cardboard boxes from his dad’s auto parts store into arcade games. Caine Monroy cut and taped up old boxes and converted them into games using other re-purposed items like an old basketball hoop, with the idea of charging kids money to play. He created a claw game — that arcade game classic in which you try to retrieve a stuffed animal with a claw — using a hook and string. He also created a soccer game using old army men toys as goalies. And as prizes, he set aside his old Hotwheels cars. Talk about re-use!

Unfortunately for Caine, he didn’t have any customers for awhile. But when a documentary film maker came upon his cardboard arcade and decided to make a short film about the young entrepreneur, things changed. The film maker created a facebook page and a flash mob ensued. His project generated so much news coverage, it even made the front page of Reddit. Check out cainesarcade.com to see the film about this young recycler.

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