Saturday, March 31, 2012

Bluetooth Keyboard Made of Bamboo

Take a Look: Bluetooth Keyboard Made of Bamboo

The iZen keyboard is made from 92 percent bamboo. Photo: iZen

Between staring at pixels and typing on plastic, living your work life behind a computer keyboard can make you feel far from nature. But one Kickstarter campaign is out to reduce plastic landfill waste and get you closer to natural materials.

You’ve heard of iPad and Bluetooth keyboards, but designer Robin Behrstock is taking the idea au naturel – or at least close to it. Handmade from 92 percent bamboo, the rechargeable iZen keyboard is compatible with smart phones, tablet PCs and any other Bluetooth-enabled products you own.

Another Tech First: This Bikini Can Charge Your iPod
After an initial self-funded round of manufacturing, iZen is nearly out of product and they’re seeking the public’s help to get the next step off the ground

As of publishing time, Behrstock’s Kickstarter campaign has reached just over $13,800 of its $18,000 goal. Funders who back the campaign will receive keyboards or tablet stands. The more you donate, the more products you receive, with shipping included.

As an added benefit, when you’re done with the product, you don’t have to worry about it sitting in a landfill for years to come. It’s recyclable and lightweight, but that doesn’t mean it’s not durable. Bamboo fibers are notoriously tough, the company suggests.

“Bamboo is known as the greenest material on the planet,” the company says on its website. “It can survive and thrive in drought and flood conditions. It uses very little water to grow and requires no pesticides or fertilizers. It grows up to 40 times faster than traditional hardwood trees, giving it bragging rights in any forest. This amazing wood contributes 35 percent more oxygen than an equivalent strand of trees.”

Related: Bamboo Used to Make Laptop Computers
Another option is to send the “dead” keyboard back to the company. They’ll ensure the product is recycled properly and each participant receives a $10 coupon toward his/her next purchase.
The iZen is arguably far more chic than the typical plastic keyboard. What do you think?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Earth Day

What are your plans for Earth Day?  It's right around the corner.  April 22nd marks the 42nd year of this celebration.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

N.C. Environmental Education Centers Dominate Top 30 N.C. Attractions List. Again!

Not just a pretty face--Grandfather Mountain also provides a multitude of environmental education programs to the public, as do many of the other top 30 N.C. Attractions.

Each year, Carolina Publishing Associates, the Matthews-based publisher of the Carolina Heritage Guide, Carolina Field Trips Magazine and the African American Heritage and Visitor's Guide, releases its much-anticipated list of top North Carolina museums and historic attractions. Facilities that are also designated as North Carolina Environmental Education Centers have long dominated the list, and this year is no exception with 17 out of the top 30. These facilities are considered environmental education centers because they offer educational exhibits and programming about nature or other aspects of the environment

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Could You Go A Year Without New Stuff?

Could You Go A Year Without New Stuff?

Internet entrepreneur and mom Meg Hourihan aims to “make do” with her current possessions for one year, patching up worn clothes, repairing instead of replacing items and avoiding impulse buys. Photo: Meg Hourihan

Could you go for a year “making do” with the material possessions you already have, instead of buying new? Could you patch up worn clothes, repair instead of replace electronics and appliances, and generally avoid impulse purchases?

That’s the mission of Meg Hourihan, Blogger co-founder who is currently taking time off from Internet entrepreneurship to raise her 4-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter.

Hourihan has long been interested in sustainability and self-sufficiency, sewing many of her kids’ clothes and preparing homemade meals from scratch

“I’ve always been fascinated by ‘Little House on the Prairie,’” she says.
Try It Yourself: Inside the Urban Homesteading Craze
At the end of 2011, the New York City mom began considering what it would be like to remove herself from the normal consumption cycle and not buy stuff for several months. Realizing that avoiding shopping for a few months would simply delay purchases, she decided to take on the challenge for a full year to see what changes and sacrifices she would be forced to make.

To keep herself accountable, she set up a blog to track her efforts and established several guidelines before her Jan. 1 start-date

She recalled a Depression- and World War II-era expression she had heard growing up in Massachusetts – “Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do. Do without” – and realized it matched nicely to her project.

Making do: the rules

Use it up: Hourihan plans to replace items like food and toiletries only when she has used up ones she already has. If she runs out of a lipstick she uses regularly, for example, she can buy a replacement, but she cannot browse Sephora and buy three new lipsticks.
Hourihan knows she could try making her own soap and toothpaste, rather than purchasing new products, but says she doesn’t want to take the project to that extreme.
“I’m not going off the grid,” she says.

Wear it out: Since Hourihan is already quite the seamstress, she already mends her family’s damaged clothing and only anticipates replacing items she can’t repair or make herself like running shoes.

What happens when her favorite pair of jeans are beyond repair?
“If one pair of jeans wears out, I need to wear out the other two before I can buy a new pair,” she says.

Make it do: This is the heart of Hourihan’s project: to make do with what she already has.
Do without: Hourihan knows she already has a lot of possessions and thinks she can make use of them without feeling like her life is missing something. If she needs an item she doesn’t already have, she will find alternatives to purchasing, such as borrowing books from friends or the library.

A few exceptions: Experiences aren’t off the table, so Hourihan can enjoy dinner with her husband occasionally and vacations with the family, although she can’t purchase stuff on their trips. Though she sews many of her children’s clothes, she will also allow herself to buy new clothes for her fast-growing brood; many of her kids’ new clothes are purchased from her local consignment store anyway, she says.

Don’t Miss: Family Embarks on 365 Days of Local

Obstacles and triumphs so far

Though her “Make It Do” project has only been under way for two months, Hourihan has already run into a few obstacles.

On a weekend trip to Vermont, she realized she forgot her sunglasses and had to buy new ones to prevent her UV ray-caused eye condition, pinguecula, from worsening.
Hourihan also had a “demoralizing moment” when she was brainstorming summer vacation plans, daydreaming about a camping trip across the country with her kids. Then she remembered that the family’s old car might not make the trip: Would they need to buy a new car? Or a used car?

“The things I want to do often require material possessions to execute,” she says, which is disappointing.

But refraining from making purchases is still better than believing you need to buy the latest dress or purse to be happy – a pressure she finds permeating New York City, she says.
But despite these dilemmas, Hourihan has already achieved some small triumphs, discovering delicious new recipes while trying to use up exotic grains in her pantry and weaving a storage basket out of old newspaper instead buying a plastic one at the store.

Hourihan also finds she has more free time, even though she didn’t think she used to fill up her time with shopping in the past.

“If I had 45 minutes until I needed to pick up my daughter, I might wander through a store while waiting [and be tempted to buy things],” she says. “Now I have no reason for doing that. It’s like an alcoholic going into a bar. Now if I have some free time, I read a book or do something different [from shopping].”

And will the year-long challenge save Hourihan’s family money?
Hourihan plans to compare this year’s credit card statements with last year’s throughout the project’s duration, but so far, she hasn’t seen much of a difference

“It’s just the financial churn of running a household,” she says, including groceries, toiletries and utility and phone bills.

But to Hourihan, the “Make It Do” project is about more than saving money – it’s about living more simply and independently.

“It’s not about money. It’s about realizing I have what I need already and using it,” she says.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Veterans Affairs To Compost Food Waste

Veterans Affairs To Compost Food Waste

Compost pile.
The Veterans Canteen Service is rolling out pilot composting programs in four U.S. cities, as well as implementing other environmentally-conscious programs. Photo:
During war times, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a lot on its plate – literally.
The department, which provides medical care and financial benefits to veterans and their families, also supplies meals to veterans in need through the Veterans Canteen Service (VCS).
It may not be an issue that first comes to mind when you think of the VA, but after serving food in 180 locations across the U.S. and Puerto Rico, food waste can take its toll. Now the government agency is seeking to reduce its impact dramatically in 2012.
The VCS estimates that it will now be able to recycle approximately 583,000 pounds of cooking oil each year, reducing the agency’s greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020, the VCS says.
The cooking oil recycling program is expected to spread to 170 VCS locations at the rate of 20 per month, bringing the agency closer to its goal of reducing its waste stream by 50 percent by 2015, according to VCS.
A kitchen waste composting pilot at the VCS Martinsburg Patriot Café location in West Virginia has proven successful, composting about 30 pounds of waste per week, the VA says on its website. The Martinsburg composting idea is expected to become the standard in VA medical centers in West Palm Beach, San Diego, San Francisco and Palo Alto.
“VA is committed to cutting our waste in half by 2015, and these initiatives will be a big step toward achieving that goal,” VCS Director Marilyn Iverson says in a statement. “Recycling and conservation benefits VA, the veterans we serve and our environment.”

Monday, March 26, 2012

US Scrap Exports

Reminder:  US scrap exports supported162,000 U.S. jobs and generated $30 billion in export sales in 2010, helping improve our balance of trade.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Atlantic sturgeon will be listed as a federally endangered species effective April 6

Fishermen Should Take Note that Atlantic Sturgeon will be Listed as an Endangered Species

MOREHEAD CITY – North Carolina fishermen should be aware that Atlantic sturgeon will be listed as a federally endangered species effective April 6.
The National Marine Fisheries Service has published a final rule in the Federal Register listing four distinct population segments of Atlantic sturgeon as endangered and another as threatened. To read the final rule, go to:
The Carolina and South Atlantic population segments, both of which are prevalent in North Carolina waters, will be listed as endangered.
It has been illegal to harvest Atlantic sturgeon in North Carolina coastal waters since 1991, so the immediate implications of the listing are unclear. However, the potential exists for the listing to impact both commercial and recreational fisheries.
The Endangered Species Act prohibits the take of listed species. The term “take” includes harassing, harming, pursuing, wounding, killing, trapping, capturing, or collecting the listed species. Fishermen should avoid interactions with these fish.
A National Marine Fisheries Service Status Review of Atlantic Sturgeon concluded that Atlantic sturgeon are caught as bycatch in various commercial fisheries along the entire U.S. Atlantic Coast within inland, coastal and federal waters. The final listing decision stated that based on available bycatch data, sturgeon are primarily caught in waters less than 50 meters deep by commercial and recreational fisheries using trawl and gill net gear.
The division, along with most other East Coast states, opposed this listing as unnecessary based on its review of available scientific data. These data show that Atlantic sturgeon stocks are improving coast-wide, partially as a result of the moratorium on harvest. However, once the listing takes effect, it will have the force of law and fishermen will be subject to federal fines and penalties if they interact with the fish.
The division is exploring all avenues to address this issue, and plans to draft a request for an incidental take permit under Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act. These permits allow for takes of endangered species that occur incidentally to an otherwise lawful activity under limitations specified in each permit.
# # #

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Draft Management Measures for Blue Crab

Marine Fisheries Commission Chooses Draft Management Measures for Blue Crab

MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission took steps toward the future management of the blue crab fishery, but elected not to try to define a commercial fisherman.
These two decisions were among several issues discussed at the commission’s meeting last week.
The commission selected preferred management actions for Amendment 2 to the N.C. Blue Crab Fishery Management Plan. The draft plan now goes to the secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and to the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations for review and comment.
A 2011 Division of Marine Fisheries Blue Crab Stock Assessment determined that the stock is not overfished, but it is unknown if overfishing is occurring.
As approved for review, the draft amendment proposes adoption of adaptive stock management measures. Under these measures, stricter regulations would be implemented in the blue crab fishery if certain biological triggers are met for three consecutive years. These adaptive management measures use several biological surveys and sampling programs to determine the relative abundance of adult crabs in the population and various production indictors for the stock each year.
Other preferred management alternatives in the draft amendment include:
· Opening eight non-pot areas (long haul areas) in the Pungo River to the use of pots, but keeps the Long Point non-pot area in Pamlico River closed to the use of pots;
· Using the type of bait instead of pot mesh size to define escape ring requirements in a crab pot;
· Adopting the no trawl line along the Outer Banks in Pamlico Sound as the new boundary line where closure of escape rings to take small mature females is allowed;
· Clarifying existing crab dredging rules so they are easier for the public to understand and to match harvest and enforcement practices;
· Correcting an error in the peeler trawl exception rule;
· Incorporating the Pamlico Sound crab trawling proclamation into rule and retaining proclamation authority to restrict crab trawl mesh size;
· Codifying an existing proclamation that closes the lower Broad Creek area (Neuse River) to crab pots June 1 through Nov. 30;
· Establishing proclamation authority for requiring terrapin excluder devices in crab pots that will not be used until criteria for the excluder devices is developed and approved by the commission.
The commission also voted not to make any changes in regards to recommendations from a Committee to Define a Commercial Fisherman.
The committee had recommended changing the eligibility requirements for renewing a Standard Commercial Fishing License by requiring license holders with no commercial landings to document 12 days of commercial fishing activity within a future three year period.
The committee also recommended developing an apprenticeship program as a qualification for obtaining a Standard Commercial Fishing License through the state’s eligibility pool and eliminating the $25 commercial shellfish license.
In other business, the commission:
· Agreed to start the rulemaking process to require high-volume finfish dealers to file trip tickets electronically. The requirement would apply to fish dealers that average landing 50,000 pounds or more of finfish over three years. Electronic reporting allows the division to process landing data faster and make timelier management decisions.
· Received a presentation on the division’s five-year review of the Shrimp Fishery Management Plan. The division has decided that no changes in management strategies are needed, therefore it will proceed with a revision of the plan. A revision is an abbreviated fisheries management plan process that involves updating the information in the plan, but does not involve setting up an advisory committee. The division anticipates bringing the revised plan to the commission for approval at its August meeting.
· Gave final approval to a Spotted Seatrout Fishery Management Plan. The plan includes short-term and long-term measures to address overfishing in the spotted seatrout fishery. The short-term measures have already been implemented by proclamation. The long-term measures will go into place in February 2014 unless additional data becomes available before then that indicates reductions are not necessary. The long-term measures will reduce the daily recreational bag limit to three fish per person, implement a Dec. 15 through Jan. 31 recreational closure, reduce the commercial trip limit to 25 fish and eliminate commercial closures.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Stunning Landscapes Rise from the Pages of Old Books

Guy Laramee: Stunning Landscapes Rise from the Pages of Old Books

History books become vivid 3-D worlds thanks to the French-Canadian artist’s recycling prowess.
Laramee grand larousses Guy Laramee: Stunning Landscapes Rise from the Pages of Old Books
Photo courtesy of

Some say the printed word is on its way out of our society. Edged out by news websites and e-readers, few people can justify the need for bulky, resource-intensive newspapers and books.

Even if the print publishing industry is doomed to succumb to digital media, that doesn’t eliminate all the books that will still be hanging around our libraries and bookshelves. What will become of these precious tomes when their information is outdated and their pages faded?

If French-Canadian artist Guy Laramee has anything to do with it, castaway books will continue to stand as a commentary of our quest for analytical knowledge over intuitive comprehension.

Among other things, Laramee carves breathtaking landscapes out of the pages of old books. This 3-D work has both a whimsical and eerie quality, often representing landmarks of cultures and races that have long been forgotten — except between the pages of old history books.
Laramee Biblios tectonic 1s Guy Laramee: Stunning Landscapes Rise from the Pages of Old Books
Photo courtesy of

“My work, in 3-D as well as in painting, originates from the very idea that ultimate knowledge could very well be an erosion instead of an accumulation,” says Laramee. “The title of one of my pieces is ‘All Ideas Look Alike.’ Contemporary art seems to have forgotten that there is an exterior to the intellect. I want to examine thinking, not only ‘What’ we think, but ‘That’ we think.

“So I carve landscapes out of books and I paint Romantic landscapes,” Laramee continues. “Mountains of disused knowledge return to what they really are: mountains. They erode a bit more and they become hills. Then they flatten and become fields where apparently nothing is happening. Piles of obsolete encyclopedias return to that which does not need to say anything, that which simply is. Fogs and clouds erase everything we know, everything we think we are.”

Like what you see? Find out where Laramee’s work will be showing next to get a glimpse of this unique medium in person.

Beth Buczynski

About the author

Beth Buczynski is a freelance copywriter and environmental journalist in the Rocky Mountain West. She specializes in providing online content and community management services for businesses that want to have a positive impact on our world.…

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mysterious Bottle Caps

Recycling Mystery: Plastic Bottle Caps

plastic 5, plastic bottle cap recycling
Advances in technology and increased demand for recycled plastics is making plastic bottle cap recycling feasible for more communities. Photo: Alex Vietti, Earth911

To recycle or not to recycle: That’s the dilemma you face when you’re ready to toss out the plastic cap that came on your soda or water bottle.

For years, recycling programs across the country have told their residents that plastic bottle caps could not be recycled curbside with their other plastics and instead, should be disposed of in the garbage bin. But industry groups say that with advances in technology and increased demand for recycled plastics, bottle cap recycling may be coming to your city in the near future.

Plastic bottle cap recycling 101

Why haven’t you always been able to recycle plastic caps with plastic bottles, you ask? While most plastic soda and water bottles are made from PET #1 plastic, their caps are most commonly made from polypropylene, or plastic #5. These two different types of plastic melt at different temperatures during the recycling process and therefore, need to be processed separately.

The simple act of leaving a cap on the bottle has also traditionally created problems at the sorting facility. When bottles are crushed for shipment, caps can shoot off at high speeds, causing a safety hazard for recycling workers. Or if the bottles aren’t crushed but caps are left on, the bottles retain air and take up too much space, meaning fewer bottles can be transported for recycling.

But the Closure and Container Manufacturers Association (CCMA) and the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR) say that many of these technical issues have been resolved and recently launched the joint “Caps On” initiative to educate consumers, cities and waste management companies about plastic cap recycling.

Recycling processing equipment has improved over the years, the organizations say, allowing bottles with caps on to be compressed without the projectile issue and the two materials to later be divided into their separate plastic streams. With these technical advancements, leaving caps on the bottles may actually make the recycling process run more smoothly for sorting facilities, the organizations found.

Due to their small size, plastic caps not attached to a bottle may fall through the cracks of the facility’s mechanical sorting line, ending up with other debris headed for the landfill, says Mike Cappelli, marketing manager for NOVA Chemicals and CCMA board member. Cappelli also points out that workers on the manual sorting line, who have a split second to identify and grab a material, might also miss the tiny caps.

Both of these problems would be solved by allowing consumers to twist caps back on the bottles before tossing them in the recycling bin – which may have the added benefit of increasing the amount of material that gets recycled, he says.

“Studies show that when there are simpler instructions for recycling, consumers are more apt to recycle,” Cappelli says.  CCMA and APR are planning to introduce a pilot “caps on” recycling program in a few U.S. communities, which they hope can serve as a model for other cities to replicate.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Iron Eyes Cody...Crying About Litter

Long before being "green" was fashionable, Keep America Beautiful formed in 1953 when a group of corporate and civic leaders met in New York City to discuss a revolutionary idea — bringing the public and private sectors together to develop and promote a national cleanliness ethic.

The “Crying Indian” PSA campaign, became the iconic symbol of environmental responsibility and one of the most successful PSA campaigns in history.

1971 - 1980


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Aluminum Trivia

From Keep America Beautiful: 

Aluminum Recycling

Monday, March 19, 2012

Lego My Bowtie

2. LEGOs

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pick a Bowtie

1. Guitar picks

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Greenest of the Green

The greenest of the green.  Happy St. Patricks Day!

Friday, March 16, 2012

30 to 50 percent of world's food thrown away

30 to 50 percent of world's food thrown away

Image: Two women collect food waste beside an industrial dumpster at the main food market in Madrid, Spain
Pedro Armestre  /  AFP - Getty Images, file
Two women collect food waste beside an industrial dumpster at the main food market on December 28,
Cleaning your plate may not help feed starving children today, but the time-worn advice of mothers everywhere may help reduce food waste from the farm to the fork, help the environment and make it easier to feed the world's growing population.
Hard data is still being collected, but experts at the Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit in Chicago this week said an estimated 30 percent to 50 percent of the food produced in the world goes uneaten.

The average American throws away 33 pounds of food each month -- about $40 worth -- according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, which plans to publish a report on food waste in April.

In a year, that means each person throws away almost 400 pounds of food, the weight of an adult male gorilla.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 23 percent of eggs and an even higher percentage of produce ends up in the trash.

"We forget we have all these fresh fruits and vegetables, and at the end of the week we have to throw them away," said Esther Gove, a mother of three young children in South Berwick, Maine. "Now, I don't buy as much fresh produce as I used to."
Not sustainable if not eaten But the impact of food waste stretches far beyond the kitchen.
Agriculture is the world's largest user of water, a big consumer of energy and chemicals and major emitter of greenhouse gases during production, distribution and landfill decay.
Experts say reducing waste is a simple way to cut stress on the environment while easing pressure on farmers, who will be called on to feed an expected 9 billion people around the world in 2050, versus nearly 7 billion today.

No matter how sustainable the farming is, if the food's not getting eaten, it's not sustainable and it's not a good use of our resources," Dana Gunders, a sustainable agriculture specialist at the NRDC, said at the Reuters Summit.

In richer nations, edible fruit and vegetables end up in landfills because they are not pretty enough to meet a retailer's standards, have gone bad in a home refrigerator or were not eaten at a restaurant.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Take a Listen

Music Miscellany Recycled Into Designer Headphones

For Ashcraft Design, the form of the company’s newest set of audio headphones—winner of a Concept-Fall-Winter Spark Award, and featured on Yanko Design—was a no-brainer. First, noted design guru Dan Ashcraft, they had to broadcast an awareness that music is an integral part of most people’s lives, especially children. Not audibly, of course, but subliminally, through the use of environmentally responsible, sustainable materials like the reused acoustical wood headband (from guitars of famous music makers) to the earpieces made from recycled aluminum and buffed to a satin finish.

Who knew so much could be said by so little? But even the quilted leather surrounding the earpieces is taken from bags, jackets and other articles once owned by famous musicians. Still, it’s the sound that counts, and the Aria’s sound is actuated by 40 millimeter titanium-plated drivers tuned to generate precise pitch. More important, Ashcraft kept the design simple, hoping that “the instant the consumer touches the reclaimed acoustic guitar wood headband he/she will feel a connection to their music and the musician.”
ashcraft design aria
image via Yanko Design

At first Ashcraft wanted nothing more than a handful of Arias, because there wasn’t that much in the way of musician castoffs in either the guitar or clothing category. These headphones would be sold at auction, with the proceeds going to charities involved in youth music education, like the Youth Music Education Foundation, or YMEF, created by five University of Minnesota students in the autumn of 2010.

The limited production phase would be followed by a complete production cycle, churning out a significant number of headsets, all of them made from sustainable materials like bamboo, recycled aluminum and plastic, if not from actual materials once owned and used by magicians. Here again, though, the proceeds will go to youth music charity.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Magazines and Trees

“If the entire North American magazine industry used just 30 percent post-consumer recycled paper, it would save 10,305,897 trees, 6,640,666 million BTUs of energy and 6,921,578,344 gallons of water, according to Green America.”
Read more about Greening the Magazine Industry here! 
Magazine Collage by Yours Truly.

"If the entire North American magazine industry used just 30 percent post-consumer recycled paper, it would save 10,305,897 trees, 6,640,666 million BTUs of energy and 6,921,578,344 gallons of water, according to Green America.”

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Can You Believe This??

Aluminum Cans

Aluminum Cans

Aluminum is a sustainable metal and can be recycled over and over again. A can is generally turned into a new can and back on store shelves within 60 days. Cans are usually available through curbside pickup or community drop-off locations nationwide.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Coca-Cola Pilots Plant-Based Soda Bottle

Coca-Cola Pilots Plant-Based Soda Bottle

A look at the Dasani and Coca-Cola PlantBottle. Photo: Coca-Cola.
Plastic bottles are about the farthest thing away from plants, but Coca-Cola found a way to make it possible. First they did it with the company’s bottled water label, Dasani. Now, Coke is expanding its PlantBottle line to soda products in select southern U.S. cities.
Unlike traditional plastic bottles, the PlantBottle eliminates the use of petroleum-based products by using 30 percent plant-based materials. Normally, plastic bottles are made from two ingredients – purified terephthalic acid (PET) and mono-ethylene glycol (MEG). While the PlantBottle still uses PET, the bottle’s MEG is created using sugarcane, which means Coca-Cola is banishing the use of fossil fuels in bottles.

In select markets, that is. Atlanta, Birmingham and Nashville are the first cities to be introduced to the 12.5, 16 and 20-ounce PlantBottles, thanks to their proximity to Coke’s Atlanta bottle manufacturing plant. Flavors available in the PlantBottle include Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Sprite, Fanta Orange, Coke Zero and Mello Yello.

While the packaging still might not be the ideal biodegradable solution, the use of PET means the bottle is still 100 percent recyclable.

“We are working with our partners to crack the code on plant-based… PTA, which accounts for the other 70 percent of PET,” Coca-Cola says on their website. “This will involve breakthrough science, but we’ve got some of the smartest minds in the field focused on it today.”

Last year, Coca-Cola rival Pepsi introduced a 100 percent plant-based bottle, which includes materials like switch grass, pine bark and corn husks. Eventually, PepsiCo hopes to use leftover byproducts from its food lines like Tostitos, Ruffles, Fritos and more.

Coke aims to use bottles made from 100 percent plant-based materials in all of its packaging by 2020

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Repurposing a Lighthouse

Recycling, tourism lighthouse project seeking support

Posted: Mar 08, 2012 4:08 PM EST Updated: Mar 08, 2012 4:24 PM EST
An old wind tower is getting closer to becoming a lighthouse – the dream of a Summersville couple who own and operate a lake retreat.

Students from vocational programs at Fayette Institute of Technology and the Nicholas County Career and Technical Center are working with Steve and Donna Keblesh to complete the Summersville Lake Lighthouse. The business-education partnership aims to give vocational students the opportunity to try out their skills in real-world situations.

The group is funding the project with various levels of sponsorship. Sponsorships of more than $500 earn the sponsor a commemorative plate on one of the steps of the lighthouse.
So far, Steve Keblesh said, they have sold about 24 of the 120 steps to the top of the lighthouse.

"We still seeking some corporate backing," Keblesh said. "We're looking for anybody with a love for West Virginia."

Higher levels of sponsorship can get a special plaque on the lighthouse landing or on the gallery deck.

Some of the students and teachers of the programs as well as the Kebleshes were at the state Capitol Thursday to share a 7-foot-model of the lighthouse.

The State Journal reported on developments of the project last November.
"We now have 32 steps on site. There's 10 to be picked up at the Nicholas County school, which brings us to 42 of a total of 120," Keblesh said. "They are picking up speed making them, and it's going to be a race making them."

If the project isn't ready by graduation, he said, they would continue construction of the steps soon.

Keblesh has also picked up a new beacon with a 36,000-lumen lens. For comparison, he said, a typical football stadium light is 80 lumens. The light, he said, could be viewed as far as 80 miles.

Bill Toney, president of Engineering Testing 2000 in Lewisburg, led the engineering of Beech Ridge Wind Farm Project. He said the project was unique but was also a natural adaptation to a wind tower.

"It's easier than you think because it came prefabricated almost," he said. "It was reclaimed from the windmills and we just kind of had to make some accommodations to fit public use."
Keblesh said he wanted to be involved in the project because of its benefit to the community.
"It's really a beautiful project and something that started from something so simple," Toney said. "It's just going to broadcast generation to generation."

The high school students working on the project say they are excited to be working on a project that could become a tourism and historical landmark in southern West Virginia.

Lucas Gardner, a 12th grade student in the computer-aided drafting class in Fayette County, said the real-world applications of his class have been what made the project most interesting.

"We're actually taking real measurements and making blueprints of a real thing that is going to be a real structure to be built," he said. "It's fun, but it's a lot of work. It has taken more time than our other stuff we had been doing, but it means more. You learn more from it."

The 120-foot lighthouse will be the first in West Virginia. Steve Keblesh said he hopes the project will attract tourists, including those from the nearby Summit Bechtel Reserve in Fayette County.

The lighthouse is expected to open to coincide with the Boy Scout National Jamboree in the Spring of 2013.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Illinois landfill gets permit to accept tornado damage

Illinois landfill gets permit to accept tornado damage

March 8 -- The Illinois EPA granted the West End Disposal Landfill in Thompsonville, Ill., a 45-day provisional variance to accept debris from property damage caused by a Feb. 29 tornado.

The approval will allow the landfill to use a new cell for disposal.

The agency waived the requirement for financial assurance on the new cell because, "it is currently difficult, if not impossible, for West End to obtain the necessary financial assurance since business operations of its financial institution have been interrupted by the aforementioned severe weather," the agency said in a statement.

The nearby city of Harrisburg, located in southern Illinois, was hit hard by a tornado causing extensive damage.

Contact Waste & Recycling News reporter Jeremy Carroll at or 313-446-6780.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Streets Made From Toilets

Streets Made From Toilets: Gross or Green?

sidewalk, bike path, path, walking path, pedestrian path, bikers, kids, bicycle, bike, children, biking
This sidewalk may look like most others you've seen, but it's actually made from 400 recycled toilets. Photo: The City of Bellingham, Wash.

Cities are testing out some pretty crazy materials for road construction in an attempt to go green – porous asphalt, recycled roofing shingles and even plastic bottles.
Here’s one more to add to the list: The city of Bellingham, Wash. just completed a pedestrian walkway incorporating recycled porcelain from more than 400 crushed toilets that were diverted from a local landfill.

A sidewalk made from toilets may inspire an initial ick-factor, but using recycled materials helped the city save loads of cash and natural resources on their redevelopment project.
toilet, recycling, machine, machinery, factory, industry, recycling plant, recycling facility, crushing
The potty-paving process began by feeding more than 400 toilets rescued from a local landfill into a processing machine, which crushes tossed toilets and recovers porcelain material for reuse. Photo: The City of Bellingham, Wash.

The “potty sidewalk” was part of the six-block Meador Kansas Ellis Trail Project in downtown Bellingham, which also included other sustainable elements like porous pavement and LED street lighting. The city even paved roads with asphalt containing 30 percent recycled materials.

While the idea of a sidewalk made of crushed commodes may sound groundbreaking enough, that’s not the only first here.

The project is also one of the first to pursue Greenroads™ certification and the first ever to attain it – coming away with the third-party organization’s Silver Certification award, the Greenroads Foundation announced on Wednesday.

poticrete, sidewalk, path, toilets, porcelain, recycled, bellingham, washington, plaque
The city is far from embarrassed of its unconventional building material. This "Poticrete Sidewalk" plaque is placed prominently on the finished walking path. Photo: The City of Bellingham, Wash.

The Greenroads™ program, which began as a research project in the University of Washington’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in 2007 and expanded after partnering with engineering firm CH2M Hill in 2008, is similar to the LEED program for green buildings. It uses a points rating system to assess sustainability and awards projects with Certified, Silver, Gold and Evergreen certifications.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Police pick up torpedo dropped off at recycling center

Police pick up torpedo dropped off at recycling center
A Puerto Rican metal recycling center received an unexpected drop-off this past weekend: a 6-foot torpedo.

Police seized the torpedo from Vega Aluminum Recycling Inc., along the island´s north coast, in the town of Quebradillas, the Associated Press reported. Puerto Rican authorities disposed of the torpedo, but did not tell the AP whether it had to be detonated.

The torpedo was dropped off on Feb. 24, the AP said. The recycling center alerted police about the ammunition that day.

Contact Waste & Recycling News reporter Shawn Wright at or 313-446-0346

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