Author Archive

Have a holly, jolly (green) Christmas

December 1st, 2012 No comments

It’s that time of year again – Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over and it’s countdown to Christmas.

While you’re adding green to your home with boughs of holly, it’s worth trying to be green at the same time.

Here are some tips for having a jolly environmental holiday:

Reuse boxes you have around the house when wrapping items or shipping gifts, including shoe boxes.

Use recycled wrapping paper or get creative and use newspapers or paper bags from the grocery store to wrap gifts. Save the pretty gift bags and wrapping paper people give you and reuse them to present a gift to someone else.

Send electronic holiday cards.

Use LED Christmas lights to save on energy.

Instead of buying new stockings, decorate old socks (just don’t use ones with holes in the toes or that lump of charcoal will fall out).

Compost whatever ham and stuffing is leftover that you don’t want to eat the next day.

When the holidays are over and the last ornaments have been plucked from the tree, recycle the Christmas tree (unless you used a fake one). Most cities will pick up Christmas trees and other foliage free of charge and mulch the remains.

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Aloha, Recycling

August 31st, 2012 No comments
A new report out about recycling in Hawaii shows that recycling has gone up since the state started reimbursing people for returning beverage bottles in 2005.
Before the bottle deposit program was instituted, the landfill diversion rate was 41%, but it’s now  72%, according to That percentage includes other items diverted from landfills, but the beverage program clearly has contributed.
And Hawaiians are finding new uses for many types of recycled goods. Green waste is being turned into mulch, glass is being used to fill potholes and build new roads and paper fiber is being used by local packing companies as filler material. When materials can’t be recycled in Hawaii, they must be shipped at least 2,500 miles away to Asia or to the mainland.
According to the publication, “On Oahu, curbside pickup has made a huge difference in diverting trash away from the landfill. After pilot programs starting in 2007, islandwide curbside recycling and green-waste programs were in full operation in 2010 on Oahu. In its first full year, the program collected 18,000 tons of mixed recyclables and 53,000 tons of green waste, representing a 6 percent reduction in municipal solid waste going to Oahu’s landfill, according to Honolulu County’s recycling office.”
Last year, 52 percent of all recyclables were placed in Honolulu’s blue bins. Honolulu’s recycling office estimates the county can earn another $500,000 annually if it can increase the curbside recycling rate to 75 percent.
Local businesses have been making use of the recyclables. Menehune Magic takes green waste from Oahu’s green bin curbside pickup and produces compost for sale under the “Hawaiian Earth Products” label. Crushed glass is turned into “glassphalt” by Grace Pacific. Battery Bill’s reuses car batteries, EcoFeed Inc. uses food for compost and to Hawaii Mail Box Services reuses packing peanuts.
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Recycling Man

August 22nd, 2012 No comments
Green might not come to mind when one envisions the Nevada desert. But at the annual Burning Man festival, held in the Black Rock Desert, being green is highly encouraged.
The temporary community, which will run from Aug. 27 to Sept. 3 this year, includes a recycle camp. The mission of the camp is to get festival-goers to recycle as many aluminum cans as possible during the week, use reusable beverage containers as much as possible and practice the ‘leave no trace’ principle.  
“Volunteers meander through the city every day riding one of our new and improved & patented bicycle powered Recycling-trucks.  The trucks make it possible to collect 10 times as many cans as the old shopping cart version, in each trip,” Burning Man’s web site explains.
Burning Man’s recycle camp became an official theme camp at the festival in 1998. Since then, more than 800,000 cans have been recycled, with the proceeds going to the local school district.
The camp aims to teach those in attendance the “6 Noble Tenets of Waste Reduction & Recycling,” which, in the festival’s own words, are as follows:
1.The 6 R’s Respect — Rethink — Reduce — Reuse — Recycle — Restore!
2.Prepare! Leave sorry-ass packaging at home!
3.Never let it hit the ground!
4.Pack it in, pack it out! & Leave No Trace!
5.Separate! Sort your recyclables & trash before you discard them!
6.Create! Supposed “garbage” can be transformed into beautiful works of art!
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Recycling in Space

July 31st, 2012 No comments

Orbital space junk surrounding earth.

Recycling isn’t just something people do on planet Earth. Satellites orbiting the Earth are about to be recycled by the Department of Defense.

Old or broken satellites that have been floating in space are going to be repaired and put back into use rather than being replaced by new ones. Here’s how it will work, according to the Boston Globe: Miniature “satlets,” equipped with electronics, software, and propulsion, will ride along on commercial flights into space where a servicing spacecraft will then pick them up satlets and stow them approached an old antenna. The robotic arms of the spacecraft will then be used to attach a satlet and transform a piece of space junk into a working satellite.
“There are a good number of retired spacecraft that are perfectly functioning, but either ran out of fuel or got taken over by [newer] technology,” Seamus Tuohy, director of space systems at Draper Laboratory in Cambridge, told the Boston Globe. “Getting a rather large antenna up in orbit is a rather costly thing, so when they’re up there you want to utilize them to their fullest.”
The Defense Department estimates that 140 commercial satellites with salvageable antennas or other equipment sit in a so-called “graveyard orbit” and could be repurposed if the right technology were available.
More than 20 companies and government laboratories are working on the project, which has $44.5 million in funding through fiscal year 2013. If the project is successful, the agency estimates it could provide a way to get satellites into space at a tenth of the cost, with hopes of doing a demonstration in which they turn a defunct satellite into a “new” one in 2015, the Globe reports.
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From One Bottom to Another

June 15th, 2012 No comments
Most people know that all  manner of household items can be recycled and reused, but who knew that the diapers covering your baby’s bottom can be turned into furniture that you could sit on?
Several towns in Scotland are piloting a program by which disposable diapers are being collected to be turned into garden furniture, roof tiles and railway sleepers.
Authorities in the pilot areas will send diapers to a big treatment facility where the waste will be heated up to 125 degrees to sterilize and clean it. Then, the plastics and celluloids in the diapers will be converted into useable products such as park benches, road signage, railway sleepers and decking.
People in the pilot cities will set out their “nappies,” as the Scots call them, at the curb to be picked up. If, after 6 months, the program is deemed successful, it will be rolled out across Scotland.
A company in Canada and the UK that processes the diapers into useful products  is Knowaste (see photo above of their roof tiles).
Disposable diapers are a huge contributor to landfill waste all over the developed world, so other countries should keep a close eye on Scotland’s program for recycling them.
According to some estimates, 3.5 tons of disposable diapers are sent to U.S. landfills each year.
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The Earth Under Your Feet – Happy Earth Day!

April 22nd, 2012 No comments

Shoe companies are wising up to the fact that shoe manufacturing is decidely un-green. Some of them are making athletic shoes made from recycled materials or lighter-weight materials that reduce waste.

New Balance has made a shoe called newSKY made almost entirely out of fabric from post-consumer plastic bottles. Other than foam, small rubber components on the outsole and some water-based glue, the only material is the recycled fabric.

Usually materials like plastic and leather provide shape and structure for shoes, according to New Balance’s web site, but in the case of newSKY shoes, the heel was reinforced with strategic stitching along the back seam and a thicker weight of fabric. “When we doubled-up the material you don’t need any reinforcement because the material is doing it itself,” one designer said on the web site.

Nike is also trying to make its running shoes more sustainable, with a new manufacturing process that weaves synthetic yarn together with a knitting machine. The line of shoes, called Flyknit, consists of fewer pieces than other shoes. The amount of material wasted making each pair weighs only as much as a sheet of paper, producing 66 percent less waste than its Air Pegasus+ 28 brand, the company says.

For people who don’t want to buy new shoes, another way to be green is to repair what you already have. You can take your worn out shoes to the local cobbler or, if you own a pair of Cole-Haan shoes, that company will repair them for you. The company has a restoration program in which people can send in their worn pairs (for a fee) and have the soles, heels, tassles, stitching and hardware replaced. Allen Edmonds offers a similar “recrafting” service for worn dress shoes, ranging from simple heel replacement to complete restoration.

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Making Cardboard Green

April 21st, 2012 No comments

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 to see the film about this young recycler.

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Boulder House Treads Lightly

April 11th, 2012 No comments

It’s one thing to leave a small footprint by shunning the McMansions of the 90s and early 2000s by occupying a smaller dwelling. But one Boulder couple took the small-house trend to the extreme.

Christopher Smith and Merete Mueller built a 125-square-foot home.

Not only is the size environmentally friendly, the couple built it using reclaimed windows, beetle-kill lumber, solar power and a composting toilet that contains peat moss and saw dust.

“You’d be surprised how well it works and how much it doesn’t smell,” Mr. Smith told Denver’s ABC 7 News.

So what can you fit in a space that 19-feet long, wall-to-wall? A sitting area, a kitchen, a bathroom and a sleeping loft that can accommodate a queen-size mattress.

The Boulder couple is part of a growing movement of small-home dwellers. The web site

features the tiny homes of other environmentally-conscious people like a man who built a 400-square-foot cabin for less than $2,000. Roof-top solar panels and a small wind turbine provide all the electricity, including the water pump, lights and computer. A propane tank that provides back-up energy for the furnace and stove saves money. His water comes from a well he drilled himself, while rainwater that he collects provides water for gardening. He raises chickens, rabbits and tends fruit trees. He has no house payments or utility bills.

A documentary called “Tiny: A Story About Living Small“, scheduled for release this spring, will feature the Boulder couple’s home and others like it.

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More of an Incentive to Recycle their Beverage Containers in California

March 24th, 2012 No comments

Consumers in California are getting more of an incentive to recycle their beverage containers. The state has said it will raise the rates paid to people who turn in their used soda cans and water bottles.

The redemption rates will increase by 3¢ for plastic bottles and 3¢ for aluminum cans. The rate per container remains the same at 5¢ for containers under 24 ounces and 10¢ for containers 24 ounces and above.

RePLANET, a company that operates recycling centers in California, said previous reimbursement rates were insufficient to support its collection program, forcing it to temporarily deactivate its automated recycling machines last summer. Following complaints from customers, rePLANET reactivated the machines and the state of California began to recalculate the rates, according to Recycling Today

Now it makes more economic sense for customers to line up outside recycling centers to cash in their items. Often in California, lines are long and people have to wait a long time to redeem their recyclables.

“Recycling beverage containers makes more sense than ever before,” Matt Millhiser, rePLANET marketing director, told the magazine. “The state’s new redemption rates, combined with our innovations in automated technology, make recycling more financially rewarding and convenient than any time in California history.”

Effective March 1, 2012, the CRV refund price per pound are:
  • Aluminum Cans – $1.57
  • Glass Bottles – 10.5¢
  • No. 1 PET Plastic Bottles – $1
  • No. 2 HDPE Plastic Bottles – 57¢
  • No. 3 PVC Plastic Bottles – $1.33
  • No. 4 LDPE Plastic Bottles -$1.87
  • No. 5 PP Plastic Bottles – 45¢
  • No. 6 PS Plastic Bottles – $5.62
  • No. 7 Others Plastic Bottles – 33¢
  • Bimetal – 30¢
 More information is available at
Thanks for Gem City Images for the use of their image
Categories: recycle Tags: , ,

Junk to Art

February 9th, 2012 1 comment

Artists around the country are taking everyday objects that are no longer useful to their owners and turning them into works of art.

In Sacramento, Calif., artist Gioia Fonda has exhibiting her works of junk-turned-art at a gallery.  Ms. Fonda specializes in drawing piles of junk that speak to our society’s mass consumerism as well as to larger societal problems like the housing crisis. She has documented piles of junk and trash that have piled up outside people’s homes due to evictions and foreclosures.  She told the Sacramento Bee that her renditions of the junk piles represent “not only a reflection of the lending crisis but also a comment on our rampant consumerism and the utter disposability of what we produce and what we buy.”

In addition to her finished drawings, Ms. Fonda showcases the process of arriving at her finished work. She starts by taking color photos of junk piles, then draws specific objects and cuts them out. She then arranges the cut-outs into collages and makes copies.

A Dallas artist who goes by the name Vet  has been working with a group of artists and community organizers called Art From Scrap. The group collected industrial surplus items and offered it to the community for use in art projects.

“A lot of recycled items are non-toxic overruns and surplus from businesses that would normally be discarded,” Vet told Pegasus News. “I like working with multiples of one item, like different bottle tops, melted crayons, beeswax, shola berry wood chips, fabric swatches, old books, pull down shades, gourds, and pear pods.”

She built a 30-foot “Book Berm” out of discarded books as well as a folded paper tree, miniature dolls and people crafted from Styrofoam.

“Working with recyclables expands my range of mediums by allowing me to combine craft and fine art,” Vet said.


We are making junk removal simple, problem free and without surprises. We are born out of the idea that we can enhance the social value of recycling. All junk collected is treated as an asset and not as trash with the appreciation toward sustainability and end-of-life concerns.

We make all efforts to reuse (i.e., donate), upcycle and recycle the materials before the landfill is considered.

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