Earth911 Quiz #53: Recycle Motor Oil the Right Way

March 14, 2019 by  
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Everyday recycling takes a little extra time — and will … The post Earth911 Quiz #53: Recycle Motor Oil the Right Way appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Quiz #53: Recycle Motor Oil the Right Way

These marbled Bluetooth speakers are made from non-recyclable plastic waste

March 13, 2019 by  
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This plastic was said to be incapable of being recycled, but U.K.-based company Gomi found a way nonetheless. Each Gomi speaker is made from about 100 non-recyclable plastic bags of multiple colors, creating a unique, individualized look. The sustainable design company won a 10,000-pound grant from the Environment Now Programme in January 2018 to kick-start the project and were funded further by the Santander Big Ideas Competition later that year. Co-founded by Brighton-based sustainable designer Tom Meades, Gomi’s intention is to use plastic waste that would otherwise be considered non-recyclable (and therefore would end up in a landfill) to create electronic products. The U.K. throws away 300 kilos of flexible plastics that are not accepted for recycling by local councils each year. This includes plastic bags, pallet wrap and bubble wrap. Meades said the company was inspired to target the challenge of flexible plastics to show that these types of materials can be made into usable objects. Related: Simple tips to reduce single-use plastic Because the design is modular, every piece of the speaker can be taken apart and recycled into a new one, so the company urges consumers to return the products for free recycling after use instead of throwing them out. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that these speakers won’t sound good because of their unconventional materials, either. “Our components are made from 100 percent non-recyclable plastic ,” Meades said. “We have worked with audio professionals and electronics engineers over the past 12 months to ensure the product is not only aesthetically desirable but also sounds great.” The company intends to only grow from here. Gomi is planning strategies to increase storage capability and produce on a larger scale in the future. It also unveiled a portable power bank and charger for smartphones made from the same material back in January. Check out the  Kickstarter page to support the project or learn more. + Gomi Via Dezeen Images via Gomi

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These marbled Bluetooth speakers are made from non-recyclable plastic waste

An urban wetland springs to life among Bogotas high rises

March 12, 2019 by  
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An open plaza in Bogota’s northeastern business district has been radically transformed from a place of pure pavement to a vibrant urban wetland . Colombian architecture firm Obraestudio completed the project in 2016 in the Santa Barbara business center to revitalize the outdoor common space shared by the Torres Unidas Building, Scotia Bank, Samsung, AR and W Hotel towers. Covering an area of over two acres, the architects injected a lush aquatic landscape into the public-facing plaza, creating a striking contrast between wild nature and the sharp geometry of the surrounding high-rises. Winner of an open national design competition sponsored by The Colombian Architects Society, the Usaquén Urban Wetland has become an iconic, privately-owned public space in northeast Bogota . The design draws inspiration from the wetlands of the Bogota Savannah, a rich, biodiverse area located in the southwestern part of the larger Andean plateau, the Altiplano Cundiboyacense. To recreate the wetland appearance, a large recycled rainwater-fed pool was carved out from the heart of the plaza and planted with native aquatic vegetation. “A natural ecosystem — half aquatic, half terrestrial — is recreated by the geometry, colors and textures of the overall design,” Obraestudio explained in a project statement. “Existing buildings and the exterior common areas are a provocative, clear contrast to the wild, free-growing landscape elements. A recycled rainwater garden over the main square creates a native urban wetland that blends harmoniously with the surrounding Andean hills backdrop and preserves the native vegetation in its natural habitat.” Related: Triangular windows bring light and drama to a stunning Bogota bakery Moreover, the parking area was replaced with a linear park that has also been lushly planted and designed to “inspire slow and meditative walks.” Pre-existing green roofs were preserved while the old elevator and stairs structures have been re-engineered so as not to visually detract from the new landscape design. + Obraestudio Via ArchDaily Photography by Daniel Segura and Andres Valbuena via Obraestudio

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An urban wetland springs to life among Bogotas high rises

Trader Joe’s ditching single-use plastics for more eco-friendly options

March 11, 2019 by  
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An increasing number of grocery stores are ditching single-use plastics to help curb the amount of synthetic materials that end up in landfills around the world. Trader Joe’s is the most recent business to reduce plastic use in stores across the country, a move that comes after a Greenpeace initiative that garnered close to 100,000 signatures. In 2018, Trader Joe’s vowed to use more sustainable packaging to help decrease the 1 million pounds of waste it generates annually from plastics. A big chunk of that waste comes from single-use plastic bags , which the outlet has already stopped offering to customers. The company has also stopped using plastic in the produce section, replacing the traditional bags with biodegradable alternatives. Related: Cove launches the first 100% biodegradable water bottle “As a neighborhood grocery store, we feel it is important for us to be the great neighbor our customers deserve. Part of that means better managing our environmental impact,” Trader Joe’s Kenya Friend-Daniel shared. Plastic waste is a growing issue for countries around the globe. Only a quarter of plastics manufactured in the states are recycled, despite the fact that it takes significantly more energy to make plastic from scratch. If we increased recycling efforts up to three quarters, then we could save around a billion gallons in oil production and free up some 44 million yards of landfill every year. Trader Joe’s is not the first business to get rid of single-use plastics and hopefully will not be the last. Several grocery retailers in the United Kingdom have also removed single-use plastics from their stores. McDonald’s has also vowed to replace its packaging with sustainable materials within a decade, while Evian will go completely plastic free by next year. Reducing our reliance on single-use plastic is the first step in eliminating plastic waste , which often ends up in the ocean. With more and more companies like Trader Joe’s ditching single-use plastics for more eco-friendly options, we can only hope that other businesses will follow their lead and cut down on plastic use at a larger scale. Via Eco Watch Images via Shutterstock

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Trader Joe’s ditching single-use plastics for more eco-friendly options

Energy-efficient ‘tiny tower’ home is organized like a full-scale skyscraper

March 11, 2019 by  
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Philadelphia-based firm ISA Architects has unveiled a stunning, 1,250-square-foot home that spans over a six-level steel tower. Located in the booming neighborhood of Brewerytown, the tiny tower, which is built to EnergyStar performance standards, is just 38 feet high but designed to operate like a full-scale skyscraper. The innovative, energy-efficient home was designed to demonstrate that going vertical could be the solution to the many urban design issues that are plaguing growing cities around the world. According to the architects, the tiny tower is a concept that could serve as a prototype for flexible-use buildings on underused urban lots with minimal building space. Built on a very compact 12’ by 29’ lot, the six-floor structure is a wooden frame covered in recycled steel paneling. Related: This staggered, residential tower is draped with greenery in Quito Going vertical enables each floor to define its own use. The interior living spaces are linked by a vertical circulation, the staircase, providing the design with optimal flexibility. Although the tower design could be used as retail or office space, this layout also works perfectly for any family  home . The lower levels of the tiny tower are dedicated to social areas, such as a window garden and open-air terrace, while the remaining upper levels are free to be used for individual purposes according to the family’s lifestyle. Connected to the main living volume is the staircase, which was strategically designed to be an integral part of the home. It provides a light-filled center that offers views of the exterior from every floor. According to the architects, the tower home could just be the next new thing for modern couples looking to live in urban areas. “Urban dwellers are increasingly willing to trade quantity of space for quality,” the firm said. “Living in a small unit in a vibrant, walkable neighborhood is more desirable than a larger home in a far-flung location. Tiny Tower demonstrates how small in scale can feel large in amenity and experience.” In addition to its potential to provide a viable solution for affordable urban housing, the home was also designed to be incredibly energy-efficient . Built to EnergyStar performance standards, the tiny tower uses a number of passive and active techniques to insulate the home. For starters, the white roof membrane significantly reduces summer heat gain. Ductless mini-split units on each level create individually controlled micro-zones throughout the interior; this also reduces energy use. + ISA Architects Via World Architecture Photography by Sam Oberter Photography via ISA Architects

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Energy-efficient ‘tiny tower’ home is organized like a full-scale skyscraper

Is cargotecture the future of construction? What you need to know for your next project

March 11, 2019 by  
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As the construction industry continues to evolve and adapt to innovations like green buildings, the push for more sustainable materials  and the efforts to reduce waste, there is one trend that is pushing the limits of design — cargotecture. Steel shipping containers have been a key component of global trade for the past 50 years, and now these steel boxes that are 8 feet wide by 8-and-a-half feet high — and either 20 or 40 feet long — are becoming a recycled building material that you can use to build your own home. There are millions of shipping containers all over the world just sitting in various ports, as returning empty containers to their original location is extremely costly. But now, these shipping containers are being used to build everything from low-cost housing to fabulous vacation homes instead of being scrapped. However, could cargotecture be too good to be true when it comes to building a home? Here are the pros and cons of using shipping containers for your next construction project. Related: Massive shipping container shopping center to pop up in Warsaw Pros Cost-effective The shape of shipping containers makes them ideal for repurposing into buildings . Compared to building a similar structure with brick and mortar, on average, a cargotecture can be 30 percent cheaper. However, the savings will depend on the location and what type of home you are building. Another thing to keep in mind is that a cargotecture home won’t be the same as what you are used to in a traditionally-built home— if cost is a top priority. The look and function will be different, and you will have to make compromises.  You can upgrade to get the features you want with a little more money. Ultimately, you can definitely cut costs when using cargotecture. Structural stability Since steel containers are designed to carry tons of merchandise across rough ocean  tides, they are “virtually indestructible.” Earthquakes and hurricanes are no match for cargotecture, which make containers an excellent choice for building a home in areas prone to natural disasters. Construction speed A traditional housing structure can take months to build, but with cargotecture, all you need is about two to three weeks since they are basically prefabricated. Not to mention, modifications can be made quickly off-site. Or, if you are a hardcore DIYer , you can build a home out of a shipping container much easier than you could with lumber, a hammer and nails. You can also customize a layout by stacking the containers for multiple floors and splicing them together for a larger space. However, there is a lot of modification required when you use cargotecture. Depending on the design, you may need to add steel reinforcement. Heating and cooling can also be a major issue, so you definitely need to have a temperature control strategy in mind. Recycling materials When recycled shipping containers are used in cargotecture, it can be extremely eco-friendly . Repurposing the containers instead of scrapping and melting them can save a lot of energy and carbon emissions while preventing the use of traditional materials. Safety Good luck breaking into a cargotecture structure. Unless thieves have some dynamite or a blow torch, they are not getting inside. This makes cargotecture a perfect choice for building in rural and remote areas. Related: Stacked shipping containers transform into a thriving arts space in Venezuela Cons The green myth The downside with cargotecture is that sometimes it’s not as green as you would believe. Some people are using brand new containers instead of recycling old ones, and this completely defeats the purpose of cargotecture. And, to make a container habitable, there is a lot of energy required because of the modifications like sandblasting and cutting openings. Plus, the amount of fossil fuels needed to move the building makes cargotecture’s ecological footprint larger than you might think. Health hazards Obviously, when shipping containers are made, human habitation was not a factor in their design or construction. Many shipping containers have lead-based paints on the walls and chemicals like arsenic in the floors. You must deal with these issues before moving into a cargotecture home. Temperature control We mentioned earlier that modifications need to be made when you use cargotecture, and one of the biggest concerns is insulation and heat control. Large steel boxes are really good at absorbing and transmitting heat and cold. This ultimately means controlling the temperature inside your cargotecture home can be a challenge. You don’t want to be living inside an oven or a freezer, right? Building codes With cargotecture still being relatively new, it has caused some issues with local building codes. When you build small structures and don’t use traditional building materials , you should always check to see if they meet local regulations. Images via Julius Taminiau Architects, Mattelkan Architect, Whitaker Studio

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Is cargotecture the future of construction? What you need to know for your next project

Jaden Smith launches Water Box to aid with the Flint water crisis

March 8, 2019 by  
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For the past three years, the First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church has been battling the Flint water crisis by handing out clean water to locals. Volunteers with the organization started giving out bottled water every day of the week, but as donations decreased, they now distribute water over the course of three days. To assist, rapper Jaden Smith has just donated a portable water filtration unit called the Water Box, which can supply upward of 10 gallons of filtered water every minute. During donation days, the church usually runs out of supplies within a few hours, leaving many residents without access to clean water . The situation is disheartening to the volunteers and residents alike, but all of that is about to change. Related: Clothing made from recycled water bottles highlights the ongoing crisis in Flint Smith’s family, including Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith, own a company in Glens Falls, New York, called JUST Water , which use large filtration systems to produce bottled water. The Water Box is a smaller version of the filtration system used at the JUST Water plant. The system removes harmful contaminants such as lead, and it will allow residents to fill their own water receptacles throughout the week. Church officials have been testing the Water Box for several weeks and have sent samples to a nearby lab to ensure all harmful contaminants have been removed. The tests will continue to be administered as long as the Water Box is in use. Residents in Flint can also view the weekly results on the company’s website. So far, there is only one Water Box installed at First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, although Smith’s mom, Jada, has already committed to purchasing another unit for the city. Flint’s water problems began back in 2014. Corrosion in the water lines caused lead to leach into the water supply, potentially harming thousands of residents. Although the Flint water crisis is still a major concern, state officials stopped issuing bottled water in 2018 because the lead levels were not above federally mandated limits. Via Huffington Post Images via JUST Water

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Jaden Smith launches Water Box to aid with the Flint water crisis

TemperPack raises $40M to combat plastic foam waste

March 8, 2019 by  
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If you’ve purchased a TV or other appliance in the past few decades, you’ve experienced the massive chunks of polystyrene foam that came with it. Plastic foam as it is known, also commonly called by the brand name Styrofoam , has dominated the packaging and insulation industries for many years and brought with it tons of waste. Taking an estimated 500 years to break down, the product leaves much to be desired from a sustainability standpoint. There is no doubt that plastic foam is one of the least sustainable products on the market, yet it is still prevalent because it works so well. A newcomer to the market, TemperPack, has developed an eco-friendly option that hopes to eliminate the need for plastic foam altogether. Obviously, TemperPack is not alone in its desire to bring the product to market, as they have sourced around $40 million in funding to further develop the technology . Related: Jamaica will ban plastic bags, straws and Styrofoam by 2019 Longtime friends and now co-founders Brian Powers and James McGoff developed a patent-pending product called ClimaCell that is aimed at sustainability from production through the waste cycle. The company claims that the manufacturing produces 97 percent less carbon emissions than plastic foam manufacturing. Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the ClimaCell is the ability to add it to curbside recycling where available. The company has taken the steps to obtain OCC-E certification, ensuring the product meets recycling standards equal to basic cardboard, which has an extraordinarily high recycle rate. The new product is set to replace large hunks and sheets of plastic foam with its cushioning capabilities. In addition, ClimaCell offers an alternative for disposable food shipping coolers while ensuring perishables arrive safely and remain cold during transport. Several thicknesses are available to cater to the different needs of businesses throughout seasonal and product changes. Using the technology in a similar way, TemperPack also produces a completely recyclable alternative to packing peanuts and bubble wrap for full-spectrum packaging and packing options. TemperPack aims to offer complete solutions to businesses in order to make it easier for them to lessen their environmental impact. In the end, its hopes to achieve its mission of solving packaging problems through sustainable design. High consuming industries include pharmaceutical and food companies with a need to keep products cold. The company estimates the use of ClimaCell has diverted 10 million pounds of plastic foam from the waste stream. + TemperPack Via Forbes Images via TemperPack

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TemperPack raises $40M to combat plastic foam waste

Cove launches the first 100% biodegradable water bottle

March 7, 2019 by  
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Officially launched in California on Feb. 28, 2019 and targeted to expand to new markets throughout the year, the Cove brand’s 100 percent biodegradable water bottles have become available as a sustainable plastic alternative. Cove offers an eco-friendly solution for water on the go at every phase of production and regardless of the disposal technique used. Single-use plastic water bottles have made the headlines in every fight for sustainability over the years for good reason — they are toxic for the environment. With the amount of plastic in the oceans as well as little hope of any plastic ever truly disappearing, it’s no wonder companies are looking for better ways to package our must-have water. While some companies have invested in plastic alternatives already, they each include metal, plastic or glass that needs to be separated out at the recycling stage. In contrast, the Cove water bottle sidesteps the recycling process altogether. Related: Everlane introduces long-lasting outerwear made from recycled water bottles Although it looks, feels and functions like regular plastic, the Cove water bottle is made from naturally occurring biopolymers called PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoate) that are biodegradable and compostable. These bottles break down into carbon dioxide, water and organic waste after being tossed into the compost or hauled to the landfill. They will even break down in the soil or the ocean with zero toxic byproducts. Construction of this innovative water bottle begins with a paper core. Attached to that is the PHA formed cylinder, cap and top dome. While the bottle might not last forever like its plastic counterparts, it is shelf-stable for six months. During that period, the bottle can also be reused . Currently, the Cove bottles are filled with natural spring water sourced from Palomar Mountain, California, for the initial launch. However, founder Alex Totterman believes that businesses have an environmental responsibility, so rather than shipping water across long distances, the company vows to source locally in each region as sales and availability spread across different markets. The idea behind the Cove water bottle is simple — produce an earth-friendly alternative to single-use plastic while keeping it convenient to the consumer. As we all know, people find it much easier to participate if the process is easy, and there is nothing easier than grabbing a bottle made from PHA instead of petroleum-based plastic. + Cove Via Packaging 360 Photography by Ryan Lowry and Sergiy Barchuk via Cove

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Cove launches the first 100% biodegradable water bottle

Johnson & Johnson offers Acuvue contact recycling program

March 6, 2019 by  
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Figuring out what is or is not recyclable is an ongoing struggle with program availability differing from one location to another. On the other hand, we aren’t even aware of many recycling programs available for products we dispose of frequently. Contact lens wearers, for example, have had some return returnability in past years by finding specific drop locations or mail-back options for used contact lenses. Now, Johnson & Johnson has made the process easier for 3.7 million contact wearers in the U.K. The newly-launched ACUVUE Contact Lens Recycle Programme is the U.K.’s first free nationwide program that includes recycling options for both contact lenses and the blister and foil packaging they come in. Although offered by Johnson & Johnson Vision, the program accepts all soft contact lenses from any manufacturer. “Seventy-seven percent of British contact lens wearers said they would recycle their contact lenses if they could, and we share their interest in reducing the amount of plastics in the environment,” said Sandra Rasche, Area Vice President, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Vision Care, Johnson & Johnson Medical GmbH. “As a business, we are committed to doing our part to combat climate change , protect our planet’s natural resources and reduce waste, and this new U.K. recycling program represents the next step in our company’s sustainability commitment.” Related: This new initiative aims to sustainably recycle your old bras The company reported that currently, about 20 percent of customers say they flush used contacts down the toilet or sink. In conjunction with TerraCycle, a world leader in reusing post-consumer waste, Johnson & Johnson launched the program with the hope of reducing garbage in landfills and water sources. In addition, the collected lenses and packaging materials gain new life in the form of products like plastic lumber and outdoor furniture. Working with high street retailer Boots Opticians Ltd and independent retail optical providers across the country, Johnson & Johnson provides more than 1,000 locations for drop-off of used materials to be recycled. + Johnson & Johnson Images via Johnson & Johnson

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