Urban Rivers designs a multiplayer Trashbot Game to clean the Chicago River

March 15, 2018 by  
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The non-profit organization Urban Rivers is currently fundraising to deploy a remote-controlled, trash-cleaning robot on the Chicago River. Urban Rivers already has a prototype out in the water and hopes to expand this into a full-fledged, multiplayer internet game. The organization’s “Trashbot Game” would allow players to control the robot from afar using simple keyboard directions to gather trash throughout the river. “We really hope that one day, this game is just so boring, because there’s no more trash left to clean,” said Urban Rivers co-founder Nick Wesley in the project’s Kickstarter video . Prior to its Trashbot initiative, Urban Rivers established a floating garden in Chicago, which was maintained by staff on kayaks . The workers began to notice that trash continuously drifted into the garden and eventually became too burdensome for manual clean-up. “Trash appeared at random times in large quantities. Sometimes we would remove all the trash and two hours there was more,” writes Urban Rivers . The garbage also affected local wildlife that depend upon the river and its floating garden. To solve this problem, Urban Rivers created Trashbot. Once fully developed, users will be able to log on from anywhere in the world to control the robot as it collects trash, which will later be removed by staff. Related: Baltimore’s floating trash-eaters have intercepted 1 million pounds of debris In the envisioned Trashbot game, users will be able to see through the “eyes” of Trashbot and gain points for collecting more trash . If Urban Rivers reaches its $5,000 goal, a second version of Trashbot will be developed while a high-powered WiFi hotspot and a home base trash station will be installed on-site. GPS tracking and a theft-prevention tether on Trashbot will also be funded. Via The Verge Images via Urban Rivers

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Urban Rivers designs a multiplayer Trashbot Game to clean the Chicago River

Hong Kong faces ‘growing mountain of waste’ in wake of China’s trash ban

February 7, 2018 by  
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On January 1st, China banned imports of 24 kinds of trash – and the move is wrecking havoc on Hong Kong . Reuters describes a “growing mountain of waste” piling up in a city that recycles little of its garbage. Doug Woodring, founder of the Hong Kong-based Ocean Recovery Alliance, told Reuters, “Hong Kong is a rich city with third-world quality recycling. It has been too easy to send unprocessed waste to China.” Every year, Hong Kong sends 5.6 million metric tons – two thirds of its garbage – into landfills . They used to export more than 90 percent of recyclables over to China – up until the start of the year. Reuters reports that mountains of cardboard and newspapers are piling up on Hong Kong’s docks as plastic trash heads to landfills. Related: China bans ‘foreign waste,’ causing recycling chaos in America The government says it doesn’t have the space to create a productive recycling industry. Critics say the city hasn’t done enough to upgrade its waste management system. Woodring, for example, told Reuters the government has depended too much on expanding landfills, saying in regards to recycling, “Hong Kong has the capability to build processing plants. There is plenty of land. The land has just been misused and misallocated.” Deputy director for environmental protection Vicki Kwok told Reuters the government is planning to increase the size of three active landfills. The government also plans to begin charging people for the things they toss out – but it could be two years at least before they implement the move. They also hope to open a facility in 2018 to turn food waste into usable resources or energy – however it will only be able to recycle 200-300 metric tons daily. That’s just a fraction of the 3,600 metric tons of food waste Hong Kong generates in a single day. The government has announced measures to fight the waste dilemma like funding local recyclers, according to Kwok, but green groups say the local recycling industry isn’t able to process all the junk once shipped off to China. Via Reuters Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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Hong Kong faces ‘growing mountain of waste’ in wake of China’s trash ban

Coca-Cola increased its plastic bottle production by a billion in 2016

October 2, 2017 by  
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Coca-Cola increased its global production of single-use, throwaway plastic bottles by one billion in 2016, according to Greenpeace . Although the beverage behemoth does not publicly disclose its production numbers, an analysis by Greenpeace suggests a massive increase in output of plastic, which often ends up in landfills, water ways, or in large islands of trash floating in the ocean. The world’s largest soft drinks company contributes more than its fair share to a global plastic problem. It is estimated that by 2021, the global production of plastic bottles will reach half a trillion per year. Although there is a massive number of plastic bottles in circulation and being produced each year, only a small number of them are recycled. Less than half of the bottles purchased in 2016 were then returned for recycling while only 7 percent of the collected bottles were reused to create new bottles. Where do these non-recycled bottles go? Most often, they are deposited in landfills or the ocean. Between 5 million and 13 million tons of plastic seeps into seawater, where it is then ingested by birds , fish and other aquatic wildlife. According to research by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, there will be more plastic, by weight, in the ocean than fish. Related: Coca Cola’s bright red Berlin HQ is actually pretty green, thanks to energy-saving design Although Coca-Cola’s plastic bottle production increase poses a problem for the planet’s health, the global beverage corporation is taking some steps to clean up its act. In July 2017, Coca-Cola European Partners announced its goal of increasing the amount of recycled plastic in each of its bottles to 50 percent by 2020. However, this goal is viewed by critics as insufficient, particularly considering that bottles could be made out of 100 percent plastic. “Coca-Cola talks the talk on sustainability but the astonishing rate at which it is pumping out single-use plastic bottles is still growing,” said Louise Edge, oceans campaigner for Greenpeace. “We have calculated it produced over 110bn throwaway plastic bottles every year – an astounding 3,400 a second – while refusing to take responsibility for its role in the plastic pollution crisis facing our oceans .” Via The Guardian Images via Greenpeace

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Coca-Cola increased its plastic bottle production by a billion in 2016

Paris banned all cars for a day to highlight pollution issue

October 2, 2017 by  
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People traversed the roads for several hours in Paris , France yesterday not in cars , but on their own two feet. The government held a Car Free Day , where the streets filled with bikers, walkers, and roller-bladers instead of smog. The goal for the day was to see public spaces less polluted and more peaceful. Paris held a Car Free Day in 2015 and 2016 as well. But this was the first time they extended the boundaries to include the entire city . From 11 AM to 6 PM local time, cars were asked to stay off the streets – with exceptions made for emergency vehicles, taxis, and buses. The Paris City Council hosted Car Free Day, together with collective Paris Sans Voiture , or Paris Without Car, which is behind the city-wide car-free idea. Related: Activists Show What it Would Look Like if Bikes Took Up as Much Room as Cars Pollution from cars is often an issue in France’s capital – the Associated Press said mayor Anne Hidalgo was elected after promising to slash air pollution and cut traffic . The government’s statement on the day said one of the Car Free Day’s objectives was “to show that cities can and must invent concrete solutions to fight against pollution” coming from road traffic. They encouraged people to travel by scooters , skates, bikes , or walking . The symbolic event also brought results. The government said Airparif Association conducted independent measurements during the Car Free Day using sensors and a bicycle outfitted with measuring instruments. They saw “an increased decrease in nitrogen dioxide levels along major roads” and “access roads to the capital.” Meanwhile, the Bruitparif Observatory looked at noise with the help of 11 measurement stations. They saw sound energy decreased 20 percent on average, as compared against a regular Sunday. Via Paris and Associated Press/NBC News Images © Henri Garat – Mairie de Paris

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Paris banned all cars for a day to highlight pollution issue

Myanmars eco-friendly startup transforms trash into treasureand jobs

April 10, 2017 by  
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Trash is a big problem in Myanmar . Garbage is scattered in the streets with smells of burning trash never far behind—but an innovative social enterprise has found a way to turn that adversity into advantage. Tucked in the rural backwaters of Dala near Yangon city, ChuChu Design is an eco-friendly startup lifting families out of poverty with the art of upcycling . Created by Italian NGO Cesvi, the ChuChu project collects waste and teaches locals to transform trash into recycled crafts with an environmental message. With the opening of Myanmar’s economy, the fast-developing country is seeing a boom in population and consumerism but still lacks much of the infrastructure to support that growth. Absence of waste disposal options in many areas leads citizens to litter or burn their rubbish, creating toxic air pollution . With the lack of education about the environment, public acceptance of recycling and waste reduction practices remains low. ChuChu Design hopes to change that. Founded in 2014 with funding from the EU, the social enterprise is now a self-sustainable startup that teaches families how to upcycle trash into marketable crafts and currently employs 30 makers. To promote their products and message, managing directors Wendy Neampui and Friedor Jeske designed and built a workshop and showroom made largely of recycled materials . Located in Dala across the river from the country’s bustling commercial capital of Yangon, this trash-made shop shows off the potential of upcycling from its bottle-embedded walls to its beautiful products constructed of recycled materials. “We want to make job opportunities for those who have low income,” said Wendy Neampui to Inhabitat. “On the other side, we are involved with the environment. Now there are thirty people working here but not all are from Dala. Some are from Mwambi or outside of Yangon.” She gestures to the myriad of products lining the walls, including sturdy purses made of car inner tubes , potato chip bag wallets, belts made from bicycle tires , recycled wine bottle glasses, and even laptop slips woven from cement bags. The waste is usually sourced from a waste collector and downtown wholesale market or from locals hired to collect rubbish from the roadside. She continues: “We teach them how to make the designs here and then they make the products at home. Twice a week (Thursday and Saturday) we meet together here and they bring all the products they make at home and then we fix the price. The price depends on how long they worked on the product. We sell the products to our regular shops, customers, and weekend bazaar in Yangon.” Related: Off-grid solar could help everyone in Myanmar receive power by 2030 The workshop behind the showroom is filled with raw material, from piles of motorbike inner tubes to enormous plastic bags of all colors. Plastic bags are the most widely used raw material at ChuChu Design and the makers cut shapes out of different colored bags then use a machine to fuse the plastic together into sheets. The colorful patterned sheets are used for purses, pencil cases, laundry baskets and other products without the need for paint. Makers also experiment with new materials they gather from the dump. Wendy is even creating a traditional Burmese dress using a blend of cotton and recycled plastic on a loom. While Wendy does not believe ChuChu Design will dramatically change society, she hopes the project will gradually spread awareness. “Local people never buy these products because they know it is made from trash,” said Wendy, referencing the social stigma around recycled products. “Only foreigners buy. But the locals don’t notice this is our trash. We need a lot of awareness.” ChuChu Design sells its products at its showroom in Dala as well as in the Pomelo shop in Yangon, the weekend Yangon bazaar, and other locations with hopes of expanding to Bagan and Inle Lake and the online marketplace. You can contact ChuChu Design and learn more on their Facebook page . + ChuChu Design Images © Lucy Wang

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Myanmars eco-friendly startup transforms trash into treasureand jobs

5 Fun Ways to Recycle Your Jeans

February 6, 2017 by  
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Clothing is probably one of the easiest things to avoid putting in the trash, yet Americans throw away 13 million tons of textiles every year, which is about 85 percent of our clothes. There’s no need for this. Next time you’re staring…

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5 Fun Ways to Recycle Your Jeans

IoT and Smart City trends boost smart waste collection market

January 10, 2017 by  
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Data, data everywhere… even in your trash bin.

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IoT and Smart City trends boost smart waste collection market

Meet Cig, the sea turtle made of over 1,000 cigarette butts strewn on a Florida beach

January 10, 2017 by  
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Cig is a sea turtle that looks rather cute until you take a closer look to see what he’s actually made of—1,200 repulsive cigarette butts . The striking trash-inspired sculpture is the work of Shelly Marshall, a self-taught artist and founder of SHELLart , who uses art to spread the message about the threats facing marine life and ecosystems. Together with Ocean Hour volunteers, she spent less than an hour collecting over a thousand cigarette butts strewn across Florida’s Pensacola Beach and rearranged the tiny bits of trash to create Cig the sea turtle and bring awareness to the impact of littering. Although litter control laws and public service announcements on recycling have made big impacts on the way society deals with trash, the same can’t really be said about cigarette butts. Ocean Hour, the Pensacola-based marine debris committee that stages local cleanups at the beach every Saturday, found that cigarette butts were always one of the top three local pollutants year after year. Thus, Shelly was inspired to make an art piece that would communicate the anti-litter message in a more eye-catching way. “I wanted to create something eye-catching that was both interesting and repulsive at the same time,” said Shelly to Inhabitat. “Cig the sea turtle shows the harmful effect cigarette butts have on marine life that most of us don’t get the chance to see. Those little tiny pieces of trash add up and many butts contain microplastics that interrupt the ecosystem. Most people don’t know that it can contain up to ten years for one tiny butt to decompose. We hope that Cig will spread this message and will encourage people to pick up cigarette butts and even more people to not throw them down!” Related: Artist turns urban trash into amazing animal murals Cig the sea turtle was made from a lightweight cardboard base and covered with roughly 1,200 cigarette butts attached using clear glue. The glue, Shelly adds, helped to cover up some of the smell from the trash. The artist is working with Ocean Hour to collect different kinds of trash in hopes of creating a series of marine sculptures made from commonly found debris. Her next artwork will be a bottlenose dolphin constructed of reclaimed plastic bottles . Cig will be on display at the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Center for the month of February. + SHELLart Images via SHELLart

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Meet Cig, the sea turtle made of over 1,000 cigarette butts strewn on a Florida beach

MIT researchers unveil ultralight material 10 times stronger than steel

January 10, 2017 by  
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Researchers at MIT have found a way to make one of the world’s strongest materials even stronger . Graphene, a two-dimensional form of carbon that gets its strength from a unique honeycomb structure, was made even more durable by compressing and fusing it into a 3D sponge-like configuration. The ultralight material has a density of just five percent, but could be as much as 10 times stronger than steel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIcZdc42F0g A two-dimensional sheet of graphene measures one atom in thickness but is known as one of the strongest materials in the world. Using a combination of heat and pressure, a team of MIT researchers led by Markus Buehler, head of MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), was able to produce an even stronger version which resembles the form of some corals and microscopic creatures called diatoms, both of which have enormous surface area by volume but are lightweight due to their porous structure. Similarly, the 3D form of graphene has shown to be even stronger than its two-dimensional form. Related: New graphene super batteries charge up in seconds and last virtually forever “Once we created these 3D structures, we wanted to see what’s the limit—what’s the strongest possible material we can produce,” said Zhao Qin, a CEE research scientist and one of the study’s co-authors. “One of our samples has five percent the density of steel, but 10 times the strength.” The potential applications for graphene are nearly endless. The super-strong, lightweight material can be used in ultra-fast charging supercapacitors to create batteries that last essentially forever, can improve the energy efficiency of desalination processes , and can even help solar panels convert more energy into usable electricity. Graphene is very expensive, though, so researchers are continuing to work on ways to enhance its value by bolstering its strength. The research results were published this week in the journal Science Advances. Via MIT Images via Melanie Gonick/MIT and Zhao Qin

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MIT researchers unveil ultralight material 10 times stronger than steel

Artist turns urban trash into amazing animal murals

September 27, 2016 by  
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We’ve featured Bordalo II’s works around the streets of Lisbon previously , and the prolific artist has continued to spread his environmental message around the world from the Unexpected art project in Ft. Smith, Arkansas to the Street Art Jam 2016 in Estonia. His lifelike animal sculptures are made almost entirely from trash and other locally found waste materials that he upcycles into new forms. The mixed-media base is then spray painted to bring life to his works of art. Related: Artist “attacks” buildings with clutter to remind us of how much stuff we own His animal artworks are part of a series that he calls “Big Trash Animal” designed to bring attention to how a wasteful society harms animals . His newest additions to the series highlight animals both small and large, from tiny rodents to foxes. These artworks, which he hopes renders environmental destruction more visible, span more than just the sides of walls—the artist has taken his craft to freestanding works, fences, and even to the side of a drifting, decrepit ship. + Bordalo II Via Colossal Images via Bordalo II

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