Posts Tagged 'green'

Soon, you too will be able to make your own whatchamacallit right from your printer

I heard a story on NPR this morning about the falling price of 3-D printers and scanners and copyright issues.
Does anyone really think that Disney, et. al. won’t have an issue with people making their own plastic princess or Star Wars character?

I heard another version a week or so ago about the possibility of making a functioning gun with such a 3-D printer. The consensus was that at least at this point, no gun made in such a way would work.
The tack the companies making these printers and scanners take is how wonderful it would be for everyone to make their own version of things to save money or design them the way they want.
But nowhere have I heard anyone discuss the environmental side of this. First there’s the do-we-really-need-more-stuff issue, and then there’s the matter of of making your own whatever out of molten plastic.
Basically, with one of these printers, you scan the picture of the image you want to make, put it in the printer and it turns it into a 3-D image that is then laid down in hot plastic a few microns at a time.
In a few hours, ta da, you have your very own whatchamacallit, possibly for a fraction of the cost of going out and buying the real thing, which might or might  not be made of plastic.
And I’m guessing it’s not plant-based plastics steaming out of your $2,000 printer.
So there are likely to be chemicals steaming out and off-putting from your kid’s new toy.
The technology side of it is fascinating, I grant that. But really, do we need more plastic stuff?
— Linda J.

What to do with old pantyhose? Recycle them!

OK, ladies, listen up.

For those of you who haven’t found 20 other uses for old pantyhose, here’s an option that you might just like.

If you are like me, you have a drawer full of old hosiery, mismatched knee-hi stockings, and ruined tights that you’ll never wear again and the thought of dumping them into a landfill isn’t appealing.

Here’s how to get that drawer back and do something good for the environment along the way.

No Nonsense wants your old hosiery, any brand, size, type, condition you have.

They’ll ship it to a recycling company which will turn it into all sorts of things from park benches and playground equipment to carpet and toys, according to the company’s Web site.

Download a mailing label, ship them off, and be done with them.

Guess what I’m doing tonight?

— Linda J.

 

Green Duck products visible at WEG

The Green Duck, a company started by a Virginia woman who realized one day that Styrofoam and plastic packaging is just plain wrong, is getting some attention in the Bluegrass.

The company makes compostable and biodegradble products, including hot and cold drink cups, plates and utensils made from corn and plants — no petroleum products — which will be available at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games later this month at the Kentucky Horse Park.

According to Green Duck’s Website, if you have space to store and a little extra cash, individuals can also purchase their products. They make everything from to-go boxes for restaurants to dishes that can go in the microwave and refrigerator for home use.

Each item indicates how long it will take to break down once it is composted.

It’s one of those, gee, wish-I-would-have-thought-of-that business ideas!

As for the Games, a release says bins for recyclables and compostables will be throughout the park for people to use on the grounds as well as work with the concession and catering vendors and their needs.

The World Games 2010 Foundation expects to recycle and compost more than 360 tons of material that otherwise would have been landfilled.

What a great idea  to 1) keep all that stuff out of landfills and 2) introduce a large group of people to a healthier, better way of doing things.

— Linda J.

Our Plastic Nightmare, Now on Video

A 5-minute video shows the effects of plastics on the planet, from drilling oil and how plastics are produced to the littered bottles and plastic bags strewn along roadways and beaches, in the oceans and mountains, to the detriment of fish and animals alike.

Watch it here, from the Wild Green blog on UTNE Reader: Our Plastic Nightmare, Now on Video. How does it affect you? Will you stop and think about it the next time you are buying a bottle of water?

How many human-made products can you name that don’t contain any plastic in the product or the packaging or both?

Can you, or will you, stop buying things that contain plastic?

That’s going to be much harder for all of us, isn’t it?

— Linda J.

Going green, top 10 — my findings vs. ask.com’s findings

I recently accepted a challenge from ask.com who saw an earlier blog I did on finding companies that do no harm. They emailed me their “Going Green Top Ten questions” and their answers and suggested I try to find answers, too. So here are my findings and ask.com’s.

1. Why should I recycle?
Me:
More importantly, as my 6-year-old daughter asked the other day, “why don’t people recycle?” The National Recycling Council has its own Top 10 reasons to recycle. Read them here.
Ask.com: Recycling turns materials that would otherwise become waste into valuable resources.

2. How do hybrid cars work?
Me:
A hybrid car attempts to merge the best of gasoline- and electric-powered vehicles for reduced energy waste, while overcoming the environmental problems of gas and short use span of batteries.
Ask.com: A hybrid car has elements of both gasoline powered engines, and electric powered engines, which are combined in such a way that gas mileage is increased and pollution is decreased.

3. What was the recycled material used to make the 2010 Olympic medals?
Me:
“Each medal was made with a tiny bit of the more than 140,000 tons of e-waste that otherwise would have been sent to Canadian landfills,” according to ScientificAmerican.com.
Ask.com: Olympic medals have been made of gilded silver since the 1912 Games.

4. What is energy conservation?
Me:
Reducing the amount of everything we use because everything takes energy to make, create or build. It takes energy to pull the bauxite out of the ground to make foil, even though foil can be recycled. It’s turning off lights, unplugging things when you aren’t using them, and switching to energy-saving equipment and electronics, if not outright doing without them. And don’t forget the CFL bulbs, washing and cleaning full loads (clothes or dishes) and the like. It takes every piece of that and more to reduce the the energy we use to allow save energy and the environment.
Ask.com: Energy conservation is simply using less energy.

5. Where can I recycle batteries?
Me:
In Kentucky, go to: www.waste.ky.gov for a list of places that take recycled batteries and electronics.
Ask.com: Go to earth911.com to find battery recycling centers in your area.

6. What is the cheapest way to go green?
Me:
Check out the queen of saving money’s suggestions for going green at: Suze Ormans Guide to Making Low Cost eco-upgrades. She makes a lot of sense.
Ask.com: The best way to go green is also the best way to save money — use less!

7. What percent of people recycle?
Me:
According to a 2009 article on 911.com, “While 87 percent of people surveyed say they recycle, the U.S. EPA reports only 33 percent of our waste is diverted from landfills.” Makes me question how much that 87 percent is actually recycling or if they really do recycle. Our garbage has dropped more than 75% between recycling everything we can, composting even more and using fewer things like plastic bottles. Packaging matters.
Ask.com: It is estimated that only 70% of the U.S. population recycles.

8. Which city recycles the most?
Me:
Ok, I wasn’t expecting this: Lexington, Ky. was the only city, of those with more than 100,000 people, to score 5 out of 5 in the recycling/green perspective category of a survey by popsci.com in 2008. “Lexingtonians recycle everything from surplus electronics to scrap metal, and they listed the environment as their third most important concern (behind only employment and public safety) & the highest ranking in our survey.”
Ask.com: San Francisco ranks the highest on many survey-based studies on recycling and sustainability.

9. How does wind power work?
Me:
“Breaking it down to it’s simplest components, a wind turbine operates as follows: the wind turns the blades; the blades spin a shaft; the shaft connects to a generator; the generator produces electricity.” Source: ezinearticles.com.
Ask.com: The wind turns the blades of a turbine, which in turn spin a shaft that is connected to a generator. This produces kinetic energy, which the generator uses to produce electricity.

10. How will future generations be affected if we don’t recycle?
Me:
Read number 1 again and then ponder this: If we don’t recycle, we lose jobs, waste energy, create more pollution, greenhouse gases and more.
Ask.com: Higher fuel prices, increased consumer debt, dirty air, and decreasing wildlife population.

How did we do?

— Linda J.

Habitat for Humanity now recycles paint

Do you have half-empty paint cans taking up valuable space in your basement or garage because you don’t know what to do with them?

Here’s a great, local way to help the environment and a good cause.

Habitat for Humanity will take those latex paint cans and recycle them into new paints for purchase.

Called a “bulking operation”, the non-profit plans to take old paint and mix them into new colors.

The bulking involves “combining different colors of paint, separated into light and dark shades, in a 55-gallon mixing vat. In the beginning, two shades will be created, beige from lighter paint; gray from darker paint. Although each 55-gallon batch is a different tone, the paint is sold in 5 gallon buckets so customers have a significant supply,” according to a release issued Thursday.

Habitat has a tinting machine and will offer more colors down the road.

Latex paint can be dropped off at Habitat ReStore, 451 Southland Dr., or Habitat’s offices, 120 Industry Road.

Paint will be sold at the ReStore only.

Habitat already has some paint to start recycling, between the 30 tons dropped off at the city’s household waste on April 24 and because people have dropped off paint at the Southland Drive store even though Habitat didn’t officially take it before now.

“The ReStore already received a significant amount of donated paint and sold or gave away what we could, despite the fact that we weren’t really equipped to handle it,” said Habitat’s deconstruction manager Bill Wood. “We recognized the need for some better way of dealing with it and to hopefully create a uniform product out of the used paint.”

— Linda J.

Finding companies and products that do no harm

Reducing chemicals, buying local and green products and finding other ways to reduce our carbon footprint could easily become a full-time job. Who has time — or energy — for that?

Already, in our family, we:

  • Make all the bar soap we use, and I use baking soda for shampoo and a vinegar rinse (most days).
  • We compost and recycle everything we possibly can.
  • In the fall, we use leaves from the 50-plus trees in our yard for mulch, so we are saving a ton of money, not landfilling the yard waste and we’re not introducing chemicals from treated mulch into the ground. I also love the way it looks.
  • We also don’t water the grass. We do water those trees, a couple of flower beds and a large vegetable and herb garden when needed.
  • And, yes, we’ve replaced light bulbs and we buy Energy Star appliances and electronics, etc., and I haven’t washed clothes in hot water in years.

So what’s next? Good question, and this is where the it’s-a-full-time-job-thing comes to mind.

I can spend hours researching products and companies and still not be confident I’ve found the most environmentally safe items.

Green Seal logoOne helpful web site is www.greenseal.org.
Around since 1989, the non-profit organization says it “provides science-based environmental certification standards that are credible, transparent, and essential in an increasingly educated and competitive marketplace.”

They list products that they’ve reviewed from companies who “positively impact business behavior and improve quality of life.”

All the information out there can be very confusing.

In a 2009 study, the non-profit found that about 1 in 3 people say they can’t tell if product claims are true and that 1 in 10 “blindly trust” companies’ claims about products.

Some consumers are trying to verify green claims by “reading the packaging (24%) and turning to research (going online, reading studies; 17%).

Reading packaging is fine, but by itself may not be enough, marketing being what it is these days. And just because something’s online doesn’t make it legitimate.

What does “100% natural” really mean? How about organic, vs. certified, vs … the list goes on.

Here’s hoping Green Seal can help me figure out what the next step is at our house.

— Linda J.

Latest tips for fast-approaching Earth Day

Tuesday got away from me, so I didn’t have time to post the latest tips. Earth Day 2010 arrives on April 22.

What are you doing to get ready? And do you have an Earth Day event to publicize? Know an out-of-the-box tip that other folks might use? Email your events, suggestions, tips to: ljohnson1@herald-leader.com.

So here’s two for today:

  • Take this test: if a playing card fits the crevice of an outside door or window, you need more weather stripping.  Weather-strip doors and windowsills to keep cool air inside in the summer and warm air inside in the winter.
  • Replacing old heating and cooling equipment with Energy Star qualified models can cut annual energy costs by 20%.

Previous tips to date:

1. Evergreens not only beautify your landscape and create oxygen for the atmosphere; they also help reduce home energy costs.  Plant them in a staggered or double line to the northwest of the home.  The U.S. Bureau of Statistics reports that a line of evergreens can reduce heat loss and winter fuel bills by 20%.

2. A refrigerator, freezer, dishwasher and clothes washer can account for up to 20% of a household’s monthly utility bill.  Energy Star qualified appliances incorporate advanced technologies that use 10-50% less energy than standard models.  Spruce up you kitchen and laundry room and use less water and electricity by purchasing an Energy Star qualified appliance.

3. Use Energy Star qualified lighting in your home.  If every household in the United States changed the lighting in one room of their home to ENERGY STAR qualified lighting, our annual energy savings alone would be equivalent to the annual output of more than 21 power plants.

4. Make sure your home is properly insulated. This will help you conserve electricity and reduce your home’s power demands for air conditioning and heating.

5. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs.  An ENERGY STAR qualified light bulb that is used for an average of 4 hours per day will last for more than 4 years before it needs to be changed. If every household replaced five of its most used bulbs with Energy Star rated bulbs, we would prevent more than one trillion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.

— Linda J.

Two more tips for Earth Day going green

With 27 days left until the 40th anniversary of Earth Day (April 22) here’s day 2 of the tips to go green in Kentucky, thanks to the Kentucky Earth Day Web page.

  • Use Energy Star qualified lighting in your home. If every household in the United States changed the lighting in one room of their home to ENERGY STAR qualified lighting, our annual energy savings alone would be equivalent to the amount of more than 21 power plants.
  • Make sure your home is properly insulated. This will help you conserve electricity and reduce your home’s power demands for air conditioning and heating.

Previous tips:

1. Evergreens not only beautify your landscape and create oxygen for the atmosphere; they also help reduce home energy costs. Plant them in a staggered or double line to the northwest of the home. The U.S. Bureau of Statistics reports that a line of evergreens can reduce heat loss and winter fuel bills by 20%.

2. A refrigerator, freezer, dishwasher and clothes washer can account for up to 20% of a household’s monthly utility bill. Energy Star qualified appliances incorporate advanced technologies that use 10-50% less energy than standard models. Spruce up you kitchen and laundry room and use less water and electricity by purchasing an Energy Star qualified appliance.

Have an out-of-the-box tip? An Earth Day event to share? Send them my way ljohnson1@herald-leader.com.

Earth Day 2010 is fast approaching

With a little less a month until the 40th anniversary of Earth Day (April 22) and celebrations begin in Kentucky and around the world, I thought it was time to beef up tips and reminders for helping our world survive.

So, thanks to the Kentucky Earth Day Web page and a list of tips, here are a couple of tips to get our list started:
1. Evergreens not only beautify your landscape and create oxygen for the atmosphere; they also help reduce home energy costs. Plant them in a staggered or double line to the northwest of the home. The U.S. Bureau of Statistics reports that a line of evergreens can reduce heat loss and winter fuel bills by 20%.

2. A refrigerator, freezer, dishwasher and clothes washer can account for up to 20% of a household’s monthly utility bill. Energy Star qualified appliances incorporate advanced technologies that use 10-50% less energy than standard models. Spruce up you kitchen and laundry room and use less water and electricity by purchasing an Energy Star qualified appliance.

Have an out-of-the-box tip? An Earth Day event to share? Send them my way ljohnson1@herald-leader.com.

— Linda J.

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