In China, a billion cockroaches are leading the fight against food waste

December 13, 2018 by  
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Warning: This story could make your skin crawl. As China’s cities continue to grow at a rapid pace, problems are arising with the country’s food waste. The Chinese population is producing so much food waste that the landfills can’t keep up, and this has led to some out-of-the-box thinking — using a billion cockroaches to take care of the problem. According to a new Reuters report , a plant outside of the city of Jinan — the capital of the eastern Shandong province — is disposing of the 50 tons of kitchen waste it receives every day by feeding the food scraps to the cockroaches. This process is not just a creative solution for food waste, but it is also providing livestock with nutritious food once the cockroaches die. Related: 5 simple ways to reduce your food waste right now “It’s like turning trash into resources,” said Shandong Qiaobin chairwoman Li Hongyi. Shandong Qiaobin Agricultural Technology runs the Jinan plant, and the company hopes to open three more plants next year, with the goal of eliminating one-third of the city’s food waste. Jinan currently has a population of around 7 million. This novel approach to urban waste starts with the waste arriving at the plant before daybreak, and then workers feed it through pipes to cockroaches in their cells. China banned the use of food waste as pig feed because of outbreaks of African swine fever. Now, this new process is encouraging the cockroach industry to grow. Shandong Qiaobin is beginning to serve as an example for others throughout China , with many people opening their own cockroach farms. Humans waste about one-third of the food produced across the globe each year — around 1.3 billion tons — and this is negatively impacting the environment as well as the economy. If the cockroach trend takes off outside of China’s borders, it could mean that these little pests will be soldiers on the frontline of the global war against food waste. Via Reuters Image via Shutterstock

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In China, a billion cockroaches are leading the fight against food waste

Zero-waste kit ensures reusable essentials are always nearby

December 13, 2018 by  
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The zero-waste movement has consistently gained momentum over the past ten years with many millennials focusing on minimalist lifestyles and conservation of natural resources. More than any generation in nearly a century, attitudes towards lower consumption, conscientious purchasing and limited waste are a big part of societal discussion and awareness. One advocate who has practiced a zero-waste lifestyle for several years has taken the next step in helping others do the same. Marina Qutab, a San Diego-based entrepreneur, decided to kick start the waste-free idea in her area and across the country with the creation of the Zero Waste Kit. Speaking of kick starting, the  Kickstarter campaign  reached it’s $10,000 goal in the first 24 hours and has continued to gain support (Kickstarter campaign closes Dec. 15, 2018). Related: 10 ideas for zero-waste gift wrapping The Zero Waste kit makes using and transporting commonly-used daily essentials easy and convenient. Neatly packed into a portable multi-purpose glass jar, the kit includes reusable items such as a bamboo utensil that is half spoon and half fork and two reusable produce bags to have at the ready when you swing by the farmer’s market. There is also a stainless steel straw, which is convenient with so many areas jumping onto the #nostraw wagon. The included napkin is sourced from fabric recovered from the manufacturing scrap floor and includes a pouch that holds all the contents of the kit when you need the jar for something else. Not only is each item aimed at eliminating waste, but the products are manufactured with sustainability in mind. Locally-sourced materials and labor exemplify Marina’s overarching goal “to make healthier, more compassionate lifestyle choices that are in alignment with our mother earth.” Equally important, at the end of the life cycle, each of the primary ingredients in the kit can either be recycled or composted so that no part in the process produces more waste. When asked about her inspiration for her zero-waste lifestyle and subsequent efforts to encourage others, Marina replied, “My life changed at the age of 10 when I traveled to my father’s homeland of Pakistan, and was exposed to pollution like I had never seen before. It was one night when I blew my nose and found black soot in my tissue that I made the simple realization that our actions impact our environment. I traveled home to America with a newfound sense of purpose and motivation for being the change I wished to see in the world.” Related: Cities around the world lay the groundwork for a zero-waste future She went on to explain that converting to the zero-waste lifestyle offered many challenges, the main one being that her best intentions were not always in alignment with her end goal. She often found herself wanting to pull out her reusable shopping bag, only to realize it was at home. At the smoothie shop, she wanted to decline the single-use cup, but didn’t have an alternative. Finding that people in her community also struggled to make the zero-waste lifestyle more convenient was the motivation she internalized to create an essentials kit she and others could always have nearby. + {Zero} Waste Kit Photography by Alex Mortenson via {Zero} Waste Kit

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Zero-waste kit ensures reusable essentials are always nearby

‘House of Trash’ proves how waste can transform into beautiful home design

May 30, 2018 by  
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Taipei-based engineering firm Miniwiz is already known as a pioneer in technology for the  circular economy , but now it is determined to find a new place for old waste — back into our homes. The innovative company has recently teamed up with homeware company  Pentatonic to create the House of Trash, a home design exhibit that showcases everyday decor and furniture made from post-consumer waste. Already known internationally, The House of Trash celebrates Miniwiz’s expansion into the Milan market. Located on Foro Bonaparte in the center of the city, the home is filled with various prototype products designed by Pentatonic . According to its description, the space is a 360-degree real-world demonstration of what can be achieved by converting consumer waste into usable products. Related: Miniwiz’s Stylish Re-Wine Desktop Lamp is Made from 100% Trash Everything from food packaging and coffee cups to furniture and artwork in the house is made with trash. Also on display will be prototypes of Pentatonic’s AirTool Soft, which is a line of modular fabric components woven from trash on Italian looms. Additional displays include recycled pieces by multidisciplinary Italian architect, Cesare Leonardi and an art series, “We’re All In This Together,” by famed graffiti artist, Mode2 . After its unveiling, the home will become a permanent place where the sustainably-minded companies can display their latest  green innovations . The space will allow people and companies of all backgrounds to come together and collaborate on ideas that address sustainability, recycling and eco-consciousness. According to Miniwiz founder Arthur Huang, Milan is the perfect setting to find a real market for the innovative “trash technologies.” He said, “There is no better place than Milan to engage designers and architects with our trash innovation and circular technology.” + Miniwiz + Pentatonic Images via Miniwiz

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‘House of Trash’ proves how waste can transform into beautiful home design

This luxury Miami home brings the tropical landscape indoors

May 30, 2018 by  
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Cape Town-based architecture firm SAOTA has completed a luxury waterfront home in Miami that boasts envious views toward the Atlantic Ocean and Miami Beach. Sandwiched between the Indian Creek Canal and Pine Tree Drive in the city’s historic Collins Waterfront district, the expansive home—called the Pine Tree Residence—prioritizes an indoor-outdoor living environment. The home also derives inspiration from the firm’s South African roots with its emphasis on the outdoors and “easy-living.” Completed as SAOTA’s first project in Miami, the Pine Tree family home is punctuated with palm trees and continuous views of water throughout. To take advantage of the site’s strong linear proportions, the architects installed large windows that allow for views straight through the home. The porosity of the home and the layout allow homeowners to enjoy views of the outdoors from almost any vantage point in the home. The Pine Tree home also overlooks the activity of the canal ; however, punched anodized aluminum screens can be used to ensure privacy when needed. “The design is as much about containment as it is about the views through the many living spaces, towards the Atlantic Ocean and world-renowned Miami Beach,” says SAOTA director, Philip Olmesdahl. “While the overall contemporary architectural design is a key focus of the SAOTA design team, the use and connectivity of the spaces is the primary driver – how the house lives.” The pool dominates the home’s footprint and the amount of water on the site is about half of the six-bedroom house. The large pool courtyard offers a buffet of entertaining options and includes a hot tub, barbecue area, bar, and even a two-story waterslide that serves as a focal point at the pool pavilion. Related: Foster + Partners unveil plans for a pair of hurricane-resistant high rises in Miami The interior is awash in natural light and the spaces were designed in collaboration with Nils Sanderson. The contemporary and harmonious finishes and furnishings establish the home as a calm retreat from stressful city life. Warm tones are achieved through a mixture of timber and other materials such as callacatta and limestone.  Raymond Jungles designed the landscape. + SAOTA Images via SAOTA

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This luxury Miami home brings the tropical landscape indoors

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

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