September is Coastal Cleanup Month with a new look for 2020

September 15, 2020 by  
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Beach and coastline cleanups have been a focus of many caring citizens and environmental groups for decades. The most-publicized beach cleanup effort, Coastal Cleanup Day, is typically slotted for a day in September. This year, the event has expanded into an entire month with the goal of involving more people at every level and from every community — not just those near the beach. According to Surfrider Foundation , “International Coastal Cleanup Month (formerly International Coastal Cleanup Day) is one of the world’s largest annual preservation and protection events and volunteer efforts for our ocean, waves and beaches.” Register your own coastal cleanup — wherever that may be One conservation organization, Heal the Bay in Los Angeles County, serves as an example of this campaign by helping citizens coordinate their own cleanup efforts with a centralized registration system. As residents register events, other volunteers can join the effort to coordinate larger cleanup activities. Related: Atlantic has 10 times the microplastics previously thought The centralized information also allows organizers to track the amount and types of garbage removed. Knowing what has been collected is an effective way to identify the source of the pollution and provide data for policymakers. Save Our Shores recommends downloading the Clean Swell App to keep track of the items in your trash pile. “Data collection is an important part of Coastal Cleanup Day,” Save Our Shores explained. “The data that is collected about the types and quantities of debris picked up can be used for outreach, policy and advocacy, and more!” Further, the organization suggests that one member of the cleanup party be in charge of data collection to reduce the spread of germs. Safety tips for your beach cleanup To support community efforts, Heal the Bay provides tutorials and tips for safe and effective cleanups with information on how to dispose of collected trash and abide by LA County Public Health guidelines along with details regarding supplies and parking. Each region has varying needs, so participants can access specific information for their neighborhood. During this time of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, the organization encourages social distancing during cleanups as well as the use of masks and gloves. Participants should only work with members of their own household and stay home if they feel ill. If you are in an area impacted by the ongoing wildfires, Heal the Bay advises you to also stay home to minimize your exposure to the smoke. Why is Coastal Cleanup Month important? The primary goal of Coastal Clean Up Month is to reduce the amount of debris that ends up in the waterways, including the ocean. Ocean pollution, particularly plastic from inland as well as boating activities, has become a massive environmental issue in recent years. The cycle is toxic. Animals are harmed by items like six-pack rings and plastic bags. Plastic in the waterways begins to break down into microplastics, which marine animals ingest. This comes full circle as seafood that may contain microplastics lands onto our dinner plates. In addition to waste removal, a secondary goal is to educate communities about the hazards of ocean pollution and share the importance of marine life and aquatic biodiversity. In addition, the event promotes more sustainable activities such as recycling and minimizing waste. Make a difference one small step at a time To support these educational efforts, Heal the Bay maintains five programs that, “allow citizens to explore and learn about the various issues facing the diverse regions that make up Los Angeles.” Volunteers can facilitate touch tank visits at the aquarium, participate in a beach cleanup , spread information through the outreach program, contribute to community science by collecting data or register middle and high school students as part of the youth program. The coordination in Los Angeles is just a sampling of similar events across the nation and around the world. In fact, Coastal Cleanup Month is a global movement that includes 6 million volunteers in 90 countries. Even though the efforts are widespread, coronavirus restrictions have resulted in several canceled events and made it difficult for organizers of various organizations to spotlight the effort this year. With that in mind, the push is for more of a grassroots coordination of many small groups rather than fewer large ones.  Related: How to volunteer during COVID-19 That means the entire month of September is prime time to get out and lead your own cleanup crew, whether that’s a party of one or up to 10 people within the same household. With 30 years behind this organized beach cleanup movement, organizers report disappointment in not being able to host large events. However, they say this is an opportunity for every citizen to tackle the garbage in their own area, whether that be the street, park, mountain, sides of the roadway or parking lot. Although that may feel a little off-point, the majority of the garbage that ends up in the ocean stems from further inland, so you can think of it as confronting the problem at the source. While it might seem that a neighborhood pickup isn’t enough, individual efforts make a huge impact. As an example, Heal the Bay provides inspiration in the fact that, “In 2019, the Ocean Conservancy reports that nearly 800,000 volunteers collectively removed more than 20 million pieces of trash from beaches and waterways around the world. That’s 20 million fewer potential impacts on whales, turtles and other beloved ocean wildlife.” So whether in groups of 1,000 or one, those same hands can make a difference for the health of our planet. + Heal the Bay + Surfrider Foundation + Save Our Shores Images via Adobe Stock

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September is Coastal Cleanup Month with a new look for 2020

Vollebak’s Garbage Watch is a timeless solution for e-waste

August 6, 2020 by  
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Vollebak, a company at the core of sustainable clothing innovation, targets time itself with a new prototype, the Garbage Watch. While the Garbage Watch’s name may sound questionable, it fits given that the watch uses materials that would otherwise end up in the dump. Specifically, the Garbage Watch  upcycles electronic waste such as motherboards and scrap computer parts and turns them into a functional watch.  Related: This sustainable luxury smartwatch monitors climate change “Today, most of the 50 million tonnes of electronic waste that’s generated every year is treated like garbage even though it isn’t. Instead it contains many of the world’s precious metals, like silver, platinum, copper, nickel, cobalt, aluminium and zinc. You’ll find 7% of the world’s gold in e-waste. In other words, millions of tonnes of the stuff people normally pay to dig up out of the ground is heading straight back into it,” the company says on its website. Vollebak worked on the project in collaboration with the Wallpaper* Re-Made project. Although currently in prototype form, the watch will launch in 2021. A waiting list has already formed for those with an early interest. Steve Tidball, Vollebak co-founder, explains how the project came together, saying, “To avoid trashing our own planet, we need to start figuring out how to re-use the stuff we already have. So our Garbage Watch started with a very simple idea. What if electronic waste isn’t garbage ? What if it’s simply pre-assembled raw materials that we can use to make new things. That’s why everything you can see on the Garbage Watch used to be something else – a motherboard from your computer, a microchip in your smartphone, or wiring from your TV.” Of course, the Garbage Watch design tackles more than just  recycling e-waste; it’s about function as well as fashion. With that in mind, the team gave the watch a unique, conversation-starting design.  As Nick Tidball, Vollebak co-founder, said, “We’ve taken an ‘inside-out’ design approach with the Garbage Watch, making the functional inner workings highly visible…Our aim was to reframe an often invisible and hazardous end of the supply chain, and make people think deeply about the impact of treating their wearables in a disposable manner.” + Vollebak Images via Vollebak/Sun Lee

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Vollebak’s Garbage Watch is a timeless solution for e-waste

Levis announces product line made with Cottonized Hemp

August 6, 2020 by  
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Many people quickly associate denim and Levi’s. The iconic red tab label is instantly recognizable. Now, those looking for sustainable clothing options can also turn to the brand with its newest men’s product line called Levi’s Stay Loose, which is made with hemp. Stay Loose offers several options for men with, as the name implies, a loose fit through hips and thighs. With typical Levi’s innovation, the styles are fashioned using Cottonized Hemp, which is a fancy way of saying a portion of the yarn comes from the hemp plant and the manufacturing makes it feel like cotton. Now that hemp is legal to grow across the U.S., myriad products have adopted the beloved material for its strength, but also because it requires less water, chemicals and land space than cotton.  Related: These sustainable shoes by Rackle are made from hemp Janine Chilton-Faust, global VP of men’s design at Levi’s said, “The Stay Loose is the perfect jean to tap into the trend of looser silhouettes, which embraces both style and comfort. A fuller fit, a wider leg, a little taper, and with a throwback ‘90s vibe that’s still very contemporary.” The Stay Loose standard length bunches just over the top of sneakers while the crop length allows the wearer to show off their shoe of choice. They are available in a range of black, indigo and faded indigo washes. In addition, the Stay Loose Carpenter Pant features the traditional carpenter style with lower pockets, side utility pockets and, of course, the hammer loop. Another option, called the Climber Pant, comes in a lightweight, non-stretch canvas rather than denim and features an elastic waist band for comfort. While Cottonized Hemp shows potential as a more sustainable material , these products are still only comprised of 23% hemp and 77% cotton, so cotton isn’t completely out of the equation just yet. Other products from the company also include the Cottonized Hemp, including the classic Stay Loose Trucker jean jacket. For women, the High Loose pant line offers three options that incorporate the material, too. All products should be widely available in fall 2020. + Levi’s  Images via Levi’s

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How to properly and safely dispose of these 10 items in your home

February 10, 2020 by  
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Toxic chemicals, e-waste, light bulbs and batteries are just a few common household items that exit our homes and can end up in the landfill , where they may or may not break down or leach into the soil and water. Equally concerning is the potential for broken glass and chemicals to cause problems to sanitation workers, the water system and wildlife. Even when you make the best purchasing decisions upfront, you will eventually find yourself with toxic household waste. Before tossing items in the trash, check out these disposal options for items like batteries and paint that are safer for the planet. Tires Because most automotive, tractor and machine tires are a mixture of rubber and steel, they can’t be recycled without separating those components. As a result, you will likely have to pay to drop them somewhere. The landfill is one option, but you can commonly return them to a local tire center. Regardless of where you take it, the fee typically ranges from $2-10 per tire, so consider upcycling those old radials into a property border or flower bed divider. Related: EWG warns ‘forever chemicals’ are contaminating US drinking water at levels far worse than expected Light bulbs Your local recycling center probably accepts spent CFL light bulbs. Because CFL bulbs contain a small amount of mercury, it’s important that they are properly disposed of. Most large home improvement stores also provide a return option for CFLs and basic fluorescent bulbs. Depending on your local recycling center, LED or incandescent bulbs may be recyclable with your glass items. You can also visit Pinterest for ideas on ways to repurpose bulbs. Batteries The best option when it comes to batteries is to make the investment in rechargeable batteries. When they wear out, look for drop boxes at your local home improvement and office supply stores. For single-use household batteries, you can return them during city household waste collection events, or your recycling center may have a drop spot. Some home improvement stores also provide a drop location. Car, tractor and motorcycle batteries are easily recyclable at any retailer that sells them. You will likely even get a core refund for returning them. Check with automotive repair locations, car part stores or your local Battery Exchange. Electronics When the stereo, computer, TV or cell phone bites the dust, skip the landfill and head to the recycling center. You may need to separate the cords and/or batteries from the laptop or TV remote, but most components are accepted at these locations. Also check with the manufacturing company or service provider. For example, Apple and many cell phone companies will accept old devices for recycling, and some even offer a credit for it. Medications Expired and unneeded medications are absorbed into the soil and waterways if flushed down the toilet. They are also a danger to children and pets, so proper disposal is important. Most local police stations accept medications, and they can be returned at city waste collection events. The U.S. DEA also provides an annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies. Stains and paints The good news is that modern paints and stains are formulated to last, so you can finish up the can while doing touch ups or other projects, even years down the road. If you’re moving and have to come up with a quick yet responsible disposal method, visit your local Habitat for Humanity reStore, where it will reformulate the paint for resale. Another option is to allow the paint to dry in the can, either naturally or with the aid of a commercial paint-dry product. Once dry, it can be thrown out with the rest of your garbage without a risk of contamination, although we do recommend using it entirely or donating it for resell before turning to the landfill. Related: 6 of the best places to donate your things Cleaning products Between glass cleaner and furniture polish, household cleaners have a way of accumulating. So when you pull out the last of the carpet and no longer need carpet spot cleaner or you make the switch to natural cleaners and need to do away with your old bottles, keep an eye out for that city waste collection event. For cleaners you can still use, try to use them up and recycle the container when you can. Also consider giving away any cleaners you no longer want, but note that most donation centers will not accept them, so offer them to friends, family and co-workers. Lawn and garden products Insecticides and pesticides should not be added to the garbage, where they can leak into water systems and soil. The same goes for the old oil and gasoline from your lawn mower and other equipment. This type of pollution will impact plants, animals and humans. Hold onto any lawn and garden chemicals for the next household waste round-up to return them responsibly. Personal care products If you find your bathroom cabinets and shelves full of old skincare , fragrances or nail polish you don’t want anymore, it is important to dispose of them properly, especially if they are from your pre-green beauty days. Unused, unexpired products may be suitable for donation. Otherwise, do not dump products in the sink or toilet. Check with your local hazardous household waste facility to see if it can accept your items. If you must, put all of the contents of the containers into one jar and place it in the garbage. Eyeglasses Whether you’ve undergone laser eye surgery or upgraded your style, eyewear is another common household item that may no longer be serving its purpose. Fortunately, there are many ways to donate old eyeglasses where they can provide the gift of sight and keep them out of the landfills. Lyons Clubs International, New Eyes (a division of United Way), OnSight and Eyes of Hope are all options. You can also drop eyeglass lenses and frames at most optical centers or local drop boxes, or donate them to a thrift store. Via Earth 911 and EPA.gov Images via Shutterstock

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Light-filled home makes the most of affordable, sustainable materials

February 10, 2020 by  
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Proving that building on a budget doesn’t have to mean compromising on aesthetics, Uruguayan architecture practice Bercetche Estudio has completed the WS House, a single-family home on the outskirts of Montevideo. Built primarily with unpainted natural timber inside and out, the home takes on a minimalist design that highlights its simple palette of natural materials. A strong connection with the outdoors and access to natural light is also emphasized throughout the home. Located in the La Tahona neighborhood about a half-hour drive east from the capital, the WS House stands out from its suburban neighbors with its contemporary form comprising boxy, flat-roofed volumes of varying heights. Spanning an area of nearly 2,750 square feet, the home is shaped like a horseshoe that wraps around the main entrance. Oversized square pavers that lead from the road to the front door emphasize the geometry of the home, while the timber cladding is applied in both horizontal and vertical orientations for visual interest. Related: Danish home champions wood over concrete for lower carbon emissions The main entrance leads directly to the open-plan living area, dining room and kitchen, which seamlessly connect to the outdoor terrace with a sunken circular pool through sliding glass doors. Flanking the main living areas are two bedroom wings: the master bedroom with an en suite bathroom is located on one side, and a secondary bedroom wing contains three flex rooms and two baths. Large windows let in ample natural light and views of the outdoors. “It is an easy-to-read house, built with sustainable and economical materials, which prove that with well-manipulated basic components, an expressive and energy-efficient house can be made,” the architects explained. “[The house] shows great respect for the environment and, through a nice space distribution, takes advantage of it. Two opaque volumes separated from each other generates a permeable ‘in between’ that gives rise to all the common activities of the house.” + Bercetche Estudio Photography by Sebastian Aguilar via Bercetche Estudio

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How Waste Incineration Works

November 5, 2019 by  
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In the U.S., there are two primary methods of garbage … The post How Waste Incineration Works appeared first on Earth911.com.

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How Waste Incineration Works

Earth911 Quiz #76: Where Does Your Garbage Go?

October 24, 2019 by  
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Challenge your knowledge about where your trash and recycled materials … The post Earth911 Quiz #76: Where Does Your Garbage Go? appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Quiz #76: Where Does Your Garbage Go?

How Sanitary Landfills Work

October 22, 2019 by  
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More than half of the garbage generated in the United … The post How Sanitary Landfills Work appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Understanding Where Garbage Goes

October 15, 2019 by  
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We call it many things: garbage, trash, rubbish, waste. The … The post Understanding Where Garbage Goes appeared first on Earth911.com.

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The Ocean Cleanup has first success collecting plastic from Great Pacific Garbage Patch

October 4, 2019 by  
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The Ocean Cleanup, a Dutch nonprofit dedicated to eliminating plastic pollution in the oceans, recently announced its first success. After years of trials that left its engineers scratching their heads over design challenges, the nonprofit’s newest prototype device has consistently collected plastic waste from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch . Following years of repeat returns to the drawing board, The Ocean Cleanup has finally experienced its first success of consistently capturing and collecting plastic, thanks to the self-contained System 001/B prototype. As an added bonus, not only was the prototype able to collect large, visible items but also microplastics as small as one millimeter. Related: Trash-collecting device returns to Great Pacific Garbage Patch “After beginning this journey seven years ago, this first year of testing in the unforgivable environment of the high seas strongly indicates that our vision is attainable and that the beginning of our mission to rid the ocean of plastic garbage , which has accumulated for decades, is within our sights,” said founder and CEO Boyan Slat. “Our team has remained steadfast in its determination to solve immense technical challenges to arrive at this point. Though we still have much more work to do, I am eternally grateful for the team’s commitment and dedication to the mission and look forward to continuing to the next phase of development.” The patch, located in the waters between Hawaii and California, is infamous as the area with the largest accumulation of plastic debris. As a trash vortex, its circular motion draws litter into itself, trapping all the junk into a concentrated mass. The hazards are compounded by the leaching out of noxious chemicals linked to health problems. Marine life is also harmed, with numerous reports of disruptions in feeding and migrating patterns, ultimately threatening species’ survival and reproductive success. The need to remove the plastic waste polluting the Pacific Ocean inspired Slat to establish The Ocean Cleanup in 2012. The nonprofit’s engineers have since been striving to develop a device to rid the ocean of the garbage. The various device prototypes employ a passive system that moves with the currents while catching plastic refuse. The nonprofit aspires to develop more prototypes in hopes of deploying a future fleet of ocean debris-collecting systems. The collected plastic will, in turn, be recycled onshore and sold to business-to-consumer (B2C) companies. The recycling revenue will be reinvested into the nonprofit’s expansion plans for further ocean waste management and sanitation. + The Ocean Cleanup Images via The Ocean Cleanup

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