Monday, June 30, 2014

Summertime Recycled Fashion: ReKixx

By Wendy Gabriel on June 23, 2014

A 100% recyclable shoe could be the answer to the footwear landfill problem.
I am finding more products every day that are made using recycled materials, which is great. The problem is many of those items, when they come to the end of their useful life, are not easily recycled. Gary Gagnon, the inventor of ReKixx (formerly known as Remyxx), came up with the idea to make 100% recyclable shoes.

Pink-Plaid-ReKixx.jpgAccording to the charitable organization, Soles4Souls, last year alone more than 700,000 tons of footwear and apparel were thrown away in the U.S. As these products break down in our landfills, the toxic chemicals in some of the materials in their makeup can leach into our soil and water supply. So, making shoes that can be recycled can be a great help to our planet.

The inspiration for ReKixx came to Gagnon back in 2009 when, while taking out the garbage, he noticed several pairs of his family’s old shoes in the trashcan. He thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could recycle our sneakers instead of throwing them in the trash.” And so it began.

Gagnon knew that he not only had to make a shoe that could be completely recycled, but he would also need to create the infrastructure that would get the shoes recycled.

During Gagnon’s journey to make his recyclable shoes a reality, he went on the entrepreneurial ABC show Shark Tank on May 18, 2012. For those of you who have not heard of Shark Tank, it is a reality competition that features a panel of possible investors called “sharks” who consider offers from hopeful entrepreneurs seeking funds for their product or business. Obviously, being on a reality TV show can really help an entrepreneur gain exposure and get investors.

The problem was Gagnon’s shoes were still on the drawing board and he didn’t have any sales to show the “sharks.” But, he did manage to win over Daymond John, who made a deal on the show for Gagnon to give up 80% of his company in exchange for a $50,000 stake. During further negotiations after the show aired, John and Gagnon decided not to complete the deal, but John helped the process by giving invaluable advice and mentorship to Gagnon.

Gagnon took advantage of the buzz created from being on Shark Tank and began a Kickstarter campaign. Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform, or way to solicit online funding from a “crowd” of people. The company’s stated mission is to help bring creative projects to life. (As a side note, I’m reasonably certain my sister, Heidi, has successfully funded half of the Kickstarter campaigns in existence.)

On June 25, 2012 the Remyxx campaign ended successfully with pledges totaling more than $44,000 to kick-start the Remyxx Shoe Company. Soon after the profitable crowdfunding campaign, the company name was changed from Remyxx to ReKixx.

By September 2013, there were 1,000+ pairs of ReKixx on people’s feet.

About the shoes

ReKixx shoes look and feel like they are made of canvas and rubber, but they are actually manufactured using a special blend of lab-certified 100% recyclable materials. When Gagnon was figuring out how to make his shoes recyclable, he spent time investigating what makes most shoes nonrecyclable and learned that some sneakers contain more than 100 different materials. ReKixx shoes are constructed from a mix of polyresin materials. The top portion looks like canvas; the sole like rubber.
According to the ReKixx site, “It is with our unique mix of materials and proprietary construction, that all parts together, of your worn and beaten ReKixx sneakers, can be recycled or ‘ReKixx-ed’ to make new products and materials, including a new pair of ReKixx.”


And, just as important, the shoes look very cool. Each design has a fun fabric and the universal recycling symbol for its resin type “5” on them. The style is reminiscent of Chuck Taylors, but with an environmental twist. There are currently six styles to choose from: Signature Green, Pink Plaid, Message in Black, Blue Wash Stripe, Convertible Black and Retro White. I can’t decide between the Pink Plaid or the Blue Wash Stripe myself. (Although, I would be happy with any of the styles — they are that awesome.) To see photos of the styles for yourself, visit the ReKixx website.

The company guarantees that you can send your used ReKixx sneakers back to them and they will recycle everything from the laces to the soles. The company is hoping as to continue to educate and initiate improvements in recycling. Someday, we will be able to put our worn ReKixx sneakers directly into our curbside recycling bin just like many of us currently do with our #1 plastic bottles and our #5 plastic yogurt cups.

In the future, Gagnon hopes to partner with retailers who could have collection bins in their stores. But, for now, you can send your ReKixx back to the company with your email address and receive a special discount on your next ReKixx purchase. Here’s the address:

10616 Knight Castle Drive
Charlotte, NC 28277
Attn: Recycling Program

For more information, visit

For the good of your feet, for the good of the planet ... reduce, reuse, ReKixx
- See more at:

Sunday, June 29, 2014

America's long paper trail dates to 1600s

Recycling isn't new: America's long paper trail dates to 1600s

18th and 19th century paper peddlers would collect old rags and paper to make a living, but it also served an environmental need.
A tractor crane loads bales of scrap paper from warehouse in Brooklyn, NY onto a truck to go onto a steamer bound for London to be used for making pressed car-wheels in 1937. Two bales in the sling weighed, on average 2,200 pounds. (Photo: National Archives and Records Administration/Wikimedia Commons)
Every day that my daughter attends daycare, the teachers send home a report on a 4 x 6 slip of paper. It would be easy to throw them away, but instead I fasten them together with a binder clip to make a notepad. To me, making every scrap of paper count feels like a modern environmental ethic.
When I was in elementary school, I remember learning about recycling like it was a brand-new concept, as if it were invented in the 1970s alongside Earth Day, Rollerblades and the Sony Walkman. And certainly it was the dawning of a new age of environmental awareness during that decade that led cities across the United States to institute recycling programs in the following years. (New York City, where I live, started a voluntary program in 1986, making it mandatory in 1989.)
But it turns out that recycling itself is actually a recycled idea. "The recovery of paper — what we would call today recycling — has been going on as long as the history of the United States," says Samantha McBride, who served as New York City Department of Sanitation's deputy director for recycling for more than a decade and is now an assistant professor in Baruch College's School of Public Affairs.
The Rittenhouse Mill in Philadelphia turned recycled rags into paper as far back as 1690, making it the oldest-known recycling center in the United States. The practice soon spread to mills in other cities. In the 18th and 19th centuries, people known as peddlers or pickers would walk down New York City's streets with a cart or horse-drawn wagon calling out, "Do you have any rags? Do you have any bottles? Do you have any paper?" Often they would trade trinkets that they carried — buttons or pans, for example—for the material that they would then sell to paper dealers. It was a business built on economic necessity, albeit one that reduced waste and pollution. It also allowed recycled material to be mixed with wood pulp to create new paper. Still, trash covered the streets.
Poster entitled 'Wanted For Victory' depicts a family as they sort 'waste paper, old rags, scap metals, [and] old rubber' for reuse in the war effort, early 1940s. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Poster entitled 'Wanted For Victory' depicts a family as they sort 'waste paper, old rags, scap metals, [and] old rubber' for reuse in the war effort, early 1940s. (Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Until 1895, that is, when Colonel George E. Waring Jr., a sanitation engineer (and a veteran of the Civil War) took over as the commissioner of what would become New York City's Sanitation Department. He cleaned up streets so strewn with garbage that it was often impossible to see the ground below. Around the same time, a sorting facility in Manhattan served as the city's first recycling plant.
More than a century later, recycling seems like a well-accepted virtue. After the late-20th century resurgence, Americans now recycle 74 percent of their office paper, a high rate compared to the 3 percent of plastic that makes its way to recycling facilities.
And yet 18 million tons of paper still go to landfills every year. It might seem benign compared to some of the other things Americans throw away, but because it's organic matter, paper breaks down and produces methane, a greenhouse gas that's 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide (the most prevalent warming gas in the atmosphere). The amount of greenhouse gas that wafted into the atmosphere because of paper decomposing in landfills in 2006 is roughly the same as carbon dioxide emitted by 8.3 million passenger cars. In other words, Americans are good paper recyclers, but we could be better. I wonder what our predecessors — the ones who collected every salvageable rag and scrap of paper — would think.
Waste paper being made into pulp which will again be made into paper in 1947
Waste paper being made into pulp which will again be made into paper in 1947. (Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Don't get me wrong. Recycling itself isn't completely benign — it takes energy and effort, too. Though the EPA estimates that recycling paper takes 40 percent less energy and 80 percent less water than starting from scratch, it's even better if something is used as many times as possible before it gets tossed into the bin.
So although it's a small thing, my little homemade notebooks are at least a reminder of recycling's legacy and importance. And ensuring that every piece of paper I touch does double or triple duty serves as a reminder that paper is a valuable resource, something early Americans recognized. I'm happy to be recycling their tradition.
Susan Cosier is the managing editor of, published by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Shipping Container Homes

Shipping Container Homes: Living for the Future

When I was a little kid, I would stare in wonder as a train went by on the track in front of our parked car. I could never understand why it annoyed my parents so much when we got caught at the track crossing. It was a train! Trains are cool. As it turns out, the shipping containers on said trains are becoming much cooler.
Although it’s certainly not the first of its kind, General Motors (GM) is sponsoring a shipping container home that will be placed alongside Michigan Urban Farming Initiative’s (MUFI) urban garden in Detroit. Eighty-five percent of the home, which will measure 40 feet long, 10 feet tall and eight feet wide will be made from scrap materials donated by GM. Employees at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant will donate their time to construct the home, which will also be completed in partnership with TAKD Design and Integrity Building Group of Detroit.
Using items such as sound-deadening vehicle insulation to insulate the walls and plywood repurposed from large shipping containers for interior walls and furniture components, the home is part of the long-term vision of MUFI to show the public exactly how little space a person needs in order to live a healthy, fulfilled life.
The home will be constructed on the grounds of the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant and when it’s done, the house will be moved to MUFI’s urban garden in the city’s New Center neighborhood.
Tiny houses are all the rage—living smaller and within your means has become a very appealing way to live lately—and shipping containers are just one of the ways people are repurposing everyday objects for a better world.
Shipping container homes have been popping up all over the place for more than a decade. In 2001, Container City in London was completed, creating 12 work studios made from something like 80 percent recycled materials and in Italy, you can find illy’s pop-up café: a shipping container that, with a push of a button, reveals a fully functioning kitchen, café and bathroom.
What makes GM’s project so interesting is the number of really wacky things going into the house. I mentioned the insulation and plywood, but they’re also using things like Chevrolet Volt battery cases for birdhouses and planters. Lockers will find new lives as tool storage compartments and small fastener containers from the factory will serve as plant and vegetable starter containers. Guess they won’t be needing to start seeds in toilet paper rolls.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Start Seedlings Off Right With Recycled Toilet Paper Rolls

Start Seedlings Off Right With Recycled Toilet Paper Rolls

Spring is in the air! It’s time to start getting some seeds sprouted and in the ground. One of our Facebook followers posed a question about using the cardboard rolls from toilet paper to start seeds for the garden. Jolie suggested it as a great activity to do with kids and I could not agree more.
Not only is this a simple project, but you can also use it as a teaching tool with your kiddos. It requires a short list of supplies to construct the seed-starters, but you’ll need a few weeks to prepare depending on how much toilet paper your family goes through on a weekly basis. I’m sure you can also cut paper towel rolls in half to achieve the same effect, so keep that in mind too. Once you’ve collected all of your cardboard rolls, grab a pair of scissors and get started.
Use the scissors to cut one to two-inch slits at one end of each cardboard tube. Some bloggers have stated that four cuts are best, while others suggest six. I think this depends on who’s involved in the project. If you use four cuts, fold them together in an alternating fashion so that the last fourth tucks into the first. This will form a bottom for the seed-starter. If you use six smaller cuts, simply fold them in toward the center so that it looks almost like a fan. The second method is certainly easier for small children, but don’t be afraid to experiment a little bit.
Now your seed-starters are ready for planting. Place them—opening end up—in another container. I’d suggest either a plastic shoebox-sized box or a terra cotta planter. Bear in mind you’ll be watering the seedlings in their tubes for a couple of weeks, so you should store them in something that won’t get soggy. Otherwise, you’ll just end up with a mushy cardboard mess!
Fill each tube with moist seed-starting mix until only the top half-inch is left open. Look for potting mix that is either labeled “container mix” or “seed-starting.” These have the right nutrients for baby seeds to grow in. Then simply sow one seed into each tube.
In about two to four weeks, your seeds will be ready to plant. The best part is, as long as you don’t use tape to keep the tubes together; you can plant the seed-starters right into the soil. The cardboard will degrade in the ground and the strengthening roots will push through the sides as it breaks down.
Thanks for posing the question to us, Jolie! I’m excited to try this eco-friendly—and money-saving—way to start my plants off right

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Brush the Rubbish Away

Old toothbrushes help to keep this rubbish-built abode stay nice and toasty

Work is completed on a British green building project that sets out to prove 'that there is no such thing as waste, just stuff in the wrong place.'
Photos: University of Brighton
What do 20,000 toothbrushes, 4,000 DVD cases, 4,000 VHS cassettes, 200 rolls of wallpaper, 2,000 floppy disks, 2,000 trashed carpet tiles, and 2 metric tons of castoff denim make?
As students and faculty at the University of Brighton will tell you, a veritable mountain of waste — or rubbish, since we’re dealing with the U.K. here — can make you a very nice house — a rather lovely (and energy-efficient) contemporary abode that doesn’t scream “garbage” like some of its decidedly more "folksy" cousins. The home manages to be tasteful, modern, and clean without completely obscuring the fact that it's constructed from secondhand bricks and plastic razors.
Recently completed on the University of Brighton campus after 12 months of on-site work carried out by over 250 students and a small army of volunteers from several local organizations, the Brighton Waste House is a staggering feat of green building — the first permanent building in the U.K. to be largely (85 percent) constructed from straight-up household garbage, landfill-bound surplus manufacturing materials, construction waste, and plastic refuse of all sorts.
Designed by sustainable architect and University of Brighton senior lecturer Duncan Baker-Brown and constructed as a collaborative effort that sets out to prove “that there is no such thing as waste, just stuff in the wrong place,” the Brighton Waste House will be used as an exhibition/party space, sustainable design studio, and living laboratory of sorts where the structure’s energy performance will be tested. How much energy can a structure that has old VHS copies of "Santa Claus: The Movie" and "Jerry Maguire" shoved into wall cavities actually save?
The Brighton Waste House aims to prove that fluffy, crumbly and organic low carbon materials can compete effectively with their more established high-energy, high-carbon counterparts. It will test innovative green prefabrication techniques as agents of wastage reduction. The Waste House will use high-tech construction methods to reduce time on site, material waste and accuracy on site, and prove that a comprehensive understanding of lightweight insulations and heavyweight energy storage materials will result in a reduction of expensive high-tech equipment to create a low carbon house.
Do head on over to the Brighton Waste House homepage for more imagery, videos, and info including a complete list of the various groups — "social housing repair" firm Mears, British upcycling organization Freegle, Brighton & Hove City Countil, etc. — that supported the project be it with manpower, money, or raw materials.

And about those toothbrushes, now used to fill cavities rather than prevent them: Where in the world does one stumble across 20,000 used oral hygiene tools?
In this case, the toothbrushes were collected via a partnership with Gatwick Airport. Distributed to first-and business-class passengers flying from the airport, the single-use toothbrushes have found a much more useful fate than clogging British landfills. 
Via [Deezen]

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Turn ag waste into paper

There's got to be a better way to turn ag waste into paper

And design professor Eric Benson plans to find it. Find out how he got started on his mission and what the future holds for his new project, Fresh Press paper.
All photos: Eric Benson/Fresh Press Paper
I’ve been virtual pals with designer Eric Benson since 2006 when he first launched Re-nourish, a website dedicated to the principles of greener graphic design. That was right around when I started working as a blogger and I’ve been a fan, reader and friend of his every since. Through the power of Facebook, I’ve been able to keep up to date on his work and knew that I wanted to interview him for MNN once I started reading about his new project, Fresh Press. Fresh Press is all about turning agricultural waste into paper. Eric and his partners Steve Kostell, Brian Wiley, and their students at the University of Illinois have built a robust paper-making laboratory and are running experiments focused on turning locally available farming waste into paper.
Eric grew up in Michigan and graduated from the University of Michigan with a BFA in graphic and industrial design. After a stint working as a UI/UX designer for Razorfish and Texas Instruments, he got an MFA in design from the University of Texas at Austin. His MFA thesis project became his sustainable design site Re-nourish. Eric currently works as an associate professor of graphic design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has lectured and been published widely on the importance of sustainable design and received many awards for his work. When he’s not trying to improve how the world makes paper, he serves as co-host on the “irreverent pop culture podcast" "Damian Duffy Hates Everything.”
Here are seven questions for Eric Benson, designer and ag-waste paper guru.
MNN: How did the idea for this project come to life?
Eric Benson: In 2011, my colleague Steve Kostell and I had a few hallway conversations between classes (and over some evening beers) about how we could work together, as we were both at a crossroads in our academic careers. Steve, as a designer and printmaker, had over a decade of experience with hand papermaking, while my interest in paper came from my evangelizing alternative fiber papers as a more sustainable option through my website. Paper was clearly the overlap in our individual work, and since every discipline uses it, we felt we could find even more collaborators. This quickly came true as Zack Grant, the manager of the University of Illinois Sustainable Student Farm (SSF), offered to let us use his agricultural residue and land to grow prairie grasses. This research relationship attracted an Illinois architecture professor Jeff Poss, who tasked his graduate students to design and build a temporary structure on the farm to provide a place for everyone involved with Fresh Press and SSF to work. We call it the 'Wash & Pack Pavilion'. As we harvested and used the fibers on the farm seasonally, we began calling ourselves “the microbrewery of paper.”
Eric Benson
Steve Kostell (left) and Eric Benson collaborated over their shared interest in paper, and the Fresh Press project was born. (Photo: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
How scalable is what you’re doing? Is the future magic in the materials, the recipes, the processes, or all of the above?
It’s hopefully scalable (depending on corporate interest) and also transportable to anywhere on the planet. We are using the art of handmade papermaking to test fiber qualities that eventually will be patented. That intellectual property will be licensed to the paper and pulp industries to be used in packaging and potentially commercial paper. Our thoughts are that the pulp packaging industry holds the greatest promise as it can be more flexible in its material choices as opposed to the commercial paper industry, which requires exact precision in the fiber lengths that pass through its machinery and sheet-forming processes. 
Does the world need saving?
We need saving. The world will be OK. It’s been through a lot over its billions of years of existence. However, humans are a lot more fragile. We must explore and invest in renewable energy sources and sustainable materials so that we as a civilization can continue.
Who is one person in your space who you admire and why?
Timothy Barrett. He’s a MacArthur Genius Award winner for his papermaking in Iowa. He’s an incredible influence on not only our work but the research of many others across the globe.
What’s the future hold for Fresh Press? Where would you like to see it in five years?
We are hoping we can focus on licensing our intellectual property to the pulp packaging industry and also further explore how we can help make that market sector more sustainable through agricultural residue. After some industry conversation, we now realize this is going to take a lot of buy-in and time, so unless there is some heavy investment now, five years is possibly a good timeframe for us to realistically imagine our work going more mainstream. We’d also love to employ people and hopefully inspire similar changes in other market sectors.
Fresh Press paper brands
Different blends of Fresh Press paper
What has surprised you the most so far in your work with Fresh Press?
I think what has surprised us the most is how quickly it’s moved forward. We’ve been fortunate to get grant funding and support from our network of academics, students and artists/designers. We’ve been invited to come talk at conferences at universities and had some positive press coverage. It’s really nice to see that there are other people interested in this idea.
(Shea's note: I asked Eric to come up with and answer his own question here.)
What’s your favorite fiber you’ve used thus far?
Rye by a mile! Rye is a very flexible and strong fiber that makes some really strong and gorgeous blue-green paper that we think has a lot of commercial possibilities. Farmers are currently using rye as a cover crop on their lands over the winter because it helps with soil nutrition. The SSF has grown rye with this logic in mind and has been happy to give us all the rye we can harvest every spring. Rye beers and whiskeys are also great, so we’d be happy to explore not only their products but agricultural residue as well!
Paper samples ag waste
Paper samples made from agricultural waste (Photo: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
To see more of Eric’s work or to contact him, visit his website at
Want to read more about paper? Check out these stories on MNN:

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Recycling Program for Fishing Line

Louisiana Town Launches Recycling Program for Fishing Line

Improperly discarded fishing line can be deadly to birds and marine life. To reduce the damage, a Louisiana town is launching the state's first fishing line recycling program. Photo: Flickr/Robin Miller Photography - westcoastrobin
Improperly discarded fishing line can be deadly to birds and marine life. To reduce the damage, a Louisiana town is launching the state’s first fishing line recycling program. Photo: Flickr/Robin Miller Photography – westcoastrobin

In an effort to eliminate the damage that discarded monofilament fishing line can cause to birds, marine life and the environment, a Louisiana town is launching the state’s first fishing line recycling program, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
The Audubon Nature Institute has set up two specially designed recycling bins to collect the plastic material at Bogue Falaya Park and the Menetre Park Public Boat Launch, two popular fishing spots in Covington, a small town about 40 miles outside New Orleans.
The fishing line collected through the program is sent to nearby Berkley Fishing, where it is reused for artificial fish structures and other fishing equipment, the paper reports.
Covington is the first New Orleans community to support the Monofilament Recovery & Recycling Program. Started in Florida more than 10 years ago, the program is designed to educate the public about the environmental problems associated with improperly discarded fishing line.
Ben Martino, an aquarist with the nature institute who is heading up the program, told the Times-Picayune he was granted permission to pilot the effort in his hometown and hopes to eventually place additional recycling containers throughout the New Orleans area.
“We wanted to start raising awareness of how bad monofilament line is for the environment,” Martino told the paper. “This is just the very beginning, but we hope to spread the word and expand.”

Monday, June 23, 2014

Recycling grant awards help environment, create jobs and spur economic growth

Recycling grant awards help environment, create jobs and spur economic growth

RALEIGH – Environmental officials say the latest batch of state recycling business grants should help generate more than 84 jobs, $1.6 million in new business investments and a reduction in the state’s dependence on landfill disposal.
The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources say 32 companies will receive a share of the $800,000 in matching grants the state’s Recycling Business Assistance Center awarded this spring. All of the companies will have received the funds by June 30. Recipients must match at least 50 percent of their grant awards.
“These grants will improve one of the state’s fastest growing economies and help protect the environment at the same time,” said Scott Mouw, the state’s recycling coordinator.  “They will help capture valuable resources from waste, while creating jobs and new investment in North Carolina communities.”
The Recycling Business Assistance Center grant program is funded through an annual appropriation from the North Carolina General Assembly.
Staff with the department’s Recycling Business Assistance Center, or the RBAC, issue requests for proposal once a year from recycling businesses. The state program evaluates proposals based on how effective the projects will be at helping the business start or expand its recycling efforts, the number of jobs the project is estimated to create and several other factors.
The grant recipients represent large and small companies that collect and process materials into commodities to feed back to the economy. Grantees also include manufacturers who use recycled materials to make new products. Some of the projects receiving grants in 2014 include:
· FFD II DBA Recycle Carolina in Waxhaw, which received a $30,000 grant to install and put into operation a concrete pad for sorting, processing and distribution of construction and demolition recyclable materials. The company estimates the project will create 10 jobs.
· Blow Molded Solutions in Mayodan, which received a $20,262 grant to install an 80,000-pound silo to hold post-consumer, high-density polyethylene to increase recycled content of manufactured goods. The company estimates the project will create four jobs.
· Waste Knot in Charlotte, which received $30,000 to install and operate a horizontal grinder so the company can process more wood waste. The company estimates the grinder will create five new jobs.
· Full Circle Recycle in Zebulon, which received $20,000 to buy a large commercial shredder to improve and expand food waste processing. The company estimates this will create four new jobs.
Grants also were awarded to companies to support additional food waste collection projects, expand compost processing capacity, and buy compactors and conveyors to more efficiently transport commingled recyclable materials. For a complete list of this spring’s award recipients, check out the list on the following pages or RBAC’s web page:

Sunday, June 22, 2014

SFGoodwill brings convenience, smarts to household textile recycling

Design devotee blogs about cities, innovation, architecture and green building.

SFGoodwill brings convenience, smarts to household textile recycling

Realizing that hauling old clothes off to the Goodwill for donation isn't exactly everyone's idea of a fun weekend excursion, SFGoodwill launches a pilot initiative that will find sensor-equipped textile recycling bins placed in residential high-rises across San Francisco.
Image: SFGoodwill
Hot on the tails of the city of San Francisco launching an aggressive citywide textile recycling initiative in partnership with I:Collect USA, Goodwill Industries is also jumping into the clothing-based waste diversion game by unleashing a small army of smart textile recycling bins in large apartment complexes across the City by the Bay. Between this effort and the city’s Zero Waste Textile Initiative, San Francisco residents pretty much have no excuse for tossing soiled tablecloths, hole-ridden socks, and cast-off blouses in the trash.
SFGoodwill’s innovative goBINS, which will initially appear in select residential high-rises of 100 units or more later this year, are geared to make textile recycling less of a drag for potential recyclers who would rather not pack all their discarded clothes up and haul them to a physical Goodwill location on a Saturday afternoon. Instead, similar to New York City’s sucessful textile recycling initiative, they’ll be able to simple responsibly dispose of unwanted garments without setting foot outside of their own buildings. SFGoodwill is working with the city’s rental property management trade association to find the high-tech (more in that in a bit) smart bins proper homes.
Explains SFGoodwill CEO Maureen Sedonaen in a release issued by the organization:
We’ll target putting a Goodwill goBIN in every big apartment and condo building in the city within 5 years to make donating textiles an everyday convenience. Every shirt, shoe and purse slipped into a goBIN will help us create job opportunities for the chronically unemployed.
Adds Linda Corso, a property manager who is enthusiastically anticipating placement of a bin in her own building:
I am looking forward to getting this new bin for our residents and continuing to support the mission of Goodwill. I used to keep clothes left behind by departing residents in a storeroom until I had time to take them to Goodwill myself. Having the Goodwill bin on site will make life easier both for my residents and for me. It is win for all.
So what makes these bins so exceptionally smart you ask?
Developed by SFGoodwill in partnership with German-borne, San Francisco-based global product design and strategy firm frog (Yves Behar is an alum), each bin is equipped with a sensor that alerts SFGoodwill before it reaches full capacity. After all, a messy, unsightly bin that’s overflowing with other people’s bath towels and brasseries may deter some folks from doing the good deed. Thanks to the sensors, SFGoodwill drivers will be alerted and dispatched for pick-up well before a bin reaches the overflow stages. According to SFGoodwill, the fleet of goBINS will also be equipped with an “internal rolling cart system” so that they can serviced by Goodwill drivers in a quick five minutes or less.
Each goBIN, which the Goodwill plans to locally manufacture using recycled materials, will also sport a QR code for building residents to scan. From there, donors can access an online donation tax form and “learn more about how their donation is helping put local people in need back to work through SFGoodwill.” Easy-peasy, eh?
Explains Peter Michaelian, creative director of frog: “We were inspired by the idea of creating a bin that added to the character of a building while providing great concierge service. The form factor is friendly, welcoming the donor with a smile, while leveraging technology that enables a seamless and simplified experience for donors and facility managers to interact with Goodwill.”
Depending on how things go with the pilot initiative in San Francisco (SFGoodwill also serves Marin and San Mateo counties in addition to the city/county of San Francisco), goBins may start appearing in apartment buildings in other cities across the country where Goodwill maintains a chapter.
Any thoughts? Would the convenience of having a brainy, easy-on-the-eyes recycling bin located in your building make you more likely to recycle old clothing and textiles? Or do you actually enjoy the sometimes time-consuming process of making an in-person donation?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

How to Recycle Nail Polish

Logo -         How to Recycle Nail Polish

By Sophia Bennett

The time for pedicures has arrived, and a nice manicure never goes out of season. But, when you pull out your bottles of nail polish, do you discover colors that are no longer in style or jars that are so old the polish is unusable?

Rather than tossing those bottles in the trash, give serious thought to finding a place to recycle them. For one thing, nail polish is considered household hazardous waste in most states, meaning it is illegal to put it in the trash. For another reason, nail polish is full of toxic chemicals that can make their way into waterways or affect air quality if burned in an incinerator. We share some tips for finding recycling locations, putting old nail polish to use for other purposes, and cutting down on your polish’s toxicity.

What is nail polish made of?

According to the University of California – Santa Barbara’s ScienceLine website, nail polish includes three main components: hardening or thickening agents (a combination of common plastics like polyester and polyurethane and something called nitrocellulose), solvents (different kinds of acetate, which is also the main ingredient in nail polish remover) and pigments that create the color. Those pigments can be dyes like Red #7, or they can be compounds like mica and aluminum powder that have a glittery or pearlescent appearance.
Some nail polish brands also contain a number of chemicals that are harmful to human and animal health. The three most talked-about are toluene, which helps polish go on smoothly and stick to fingernails; formaldehyde, which helps the polish harden; and dibutyl phthalate, which prevents polish from becoming brittle once it is applied to your fingers or toes. Toluene and formaldehyde are both known carcinogens. Dibutyl phthalate, like BPA plastic, is considered an endocrine disruptor, which means it disrupts hormone function and can affect fertility.

The harmful chemicals described above should not be released into the environment, even in very small quantities. In addition, they are flammable, which can create serious problems for waste haulers. That is why fingernail polish is considered household hazardous waste and must be disposed of properly.

Pick a polish with fewer chemicals

The first thing you can do to lower your chances of releasing dangerous toxins into the environment is buy nail polish that does not contain these harmful chemicals. The website EcoWatch shares information about seven brands that do not put toluene, formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate or other harmful chemicals in their nail polish. (The nail polish will still be flammable, however, and still must be treated as household hazardous waste when it comes time for disposal.)
These brands tend to be more expensive, but that may lead to a second way to decrease your nail polish footprint: do not buy as much of it. One or two colors for each season, plus a good top and base coat, is really all you need. If you buy less, you are more likely to use up all the polish in the bottle and you will throw less of it away.

Ideas for reusing nail polish

Nail polish can be used for things besides prettying up your fingernails. Clear nail polish is great for stopping runs in nylons, making needles easier to thread or keeping shoelaces from unraveling. A coat of clear nail polish on handwritten plant labels for the garden will stop the ink from running if it rains.
Colored nail polish can be used to color code items in your home, differentiate keys so you can more easily pick out the correct one on a full keychain, or color in scuffs on shoes. The fashion magazine Cosmopolitan even suggests using red nail polish to paint the bottoms of high heels, giving you a faux-Christian Louboutin look.
- See more at:

Friday, June 20, 2014

Congratulations Miriam Sumner!

The Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting has been awarded to Coastal Regional Solid Waste Management Authority by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) for its comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR).  The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management.

An Award of Financial Reporting Achievement has been awarded to the individual(s), department or agency designated by the government as primarily responsible for preparing the award-winning CAFR.  This has been presented to Miriam S. Sumner, Finance Officer.

The CAFR has been judged by an impartial panel to meet the high standards of the program including demonstrating a constructive "spirit of full disclosure" to clearly communicate its financial story and motivate potential users and user groups to read the CAFR.

The GFOA is a nonprofit professional association serving approximately 17,500 government finance professionals with offices in Chicago, IL, and Washington, D.C

State orders Duke Energy to submit repair plans

State orders Duke Energy to submit repair plans for leaking pipes near coal ash facilities

RALEIGH – State officials ordered Duke Energy on Monday to submit repair plans for leaking corrugated metal and concrete spillway pipes at coal ash impoundment dams at five power plants.
The N.C. Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources issued Duke Energy eight notices of deficiency Monday for leaks in the spillways and riser pipes at Marshall Steam Station in Catawba County, Riverbend and Allen Steam Stations in Gaston County, Buck Steam Station in Rowan County, and Cliffside Steam Station in Rutherford and Cleveland counties. All of the plants are in the Charlotte metro area and western North Carolina.
By law, the state can pursue enforcement actions, including fines up to $500 per day per violation, if Duke Energy does not submit schedules for repairing the pipes by July 17. The state sent Duke Energy the notices of deficiency by certified mail and email Monday.
The leaks were discovered by state dam safety engineers who ordered Duke in March to video the insides of the pipes. The leaks included cracks, dripping areas and gushers of water at or near the concrete joints between pipes or in the corrugated metal portions of some of the other pipes. The pipes where leaks were identified are in the dams around the coal ash impoundments. The leaking components include risers that capture overflow from the coal ash impoundments or the spillway systems of the coal ash impoundment dams that carry treated wastewater from the risers to discharge points at the facilities.
State officials did not identify any imminent public health or safety hazards during their video inspections of the pipes.
“If any of the leaks had been identified as posing an imminent threat to the structural integrity of any of the dams jeopardizing public safety or health, we would have taken action immediately,” said Tracy Davis, director of the N.C. Division of Energy, Mineral, and Land Resources. “In that case, we would have ordered the utility to take immediate steps to repair the pipes and would have one of our staff engineers on site to monitor the repairs and the integrity of the dam.”
The state agency ordered Duke Energy to videotape the insides of all pipes in the dam structures at all coal ash impoundments in the wake of the Feb. 2 coal ash spill at the Dan River facility in Eden. Staff members in the agency’s Mooresville Regional Office spent several weeks reviewing digital videos, which were received from Duke Energy May 6.
Also on Monday, the state also sent Duke Energy three inspection letters calling on the utility to provide an engineer’s assessment of aging pipes where no leaks were detected at the Buck, Riverbend and Marshall power plants. Copies of the notices of deficiency and inspection letters can be found on the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Dan River Spill webpage,, under the “Dam Safety” heading. Video from the pipe inspections will be made available on the website later.
State engineers are continuing to review video of other pipes in dams at coal ash impoundments, and could issue further notices if conditions warrant.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Walmart Achieves Solar Power Milestones in 3 States

Walmart Achieves Solar Power Milestones in 3 States

Content provided by Walmart
Every day at Walmart, we work toward our dream of being supplied 100% by renewable energy. Our accomplishments to date have become possible only through the strength of our solar power partners, our environmentally conscience communities and our earth-concerned customers.  
So far, we have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 20% from Walmart stores, Sam’s Clubs and distribution centers a year ahead of our committed goal. Smaller solar systems provide 10-15% of a store’s electricity requirements, and larger systems provide 20-30% of a store’s electricity requirements.
Today, we’re celebrating major solar milestones in Ohio, Hawaii and Massachusetts.
Solar Ohio
Thanks to a Walmart partnership with SolarCity, we have completed solar installations on enough Walmart stores to make us the state’s largest solar power user.  The savings in carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) each year is roughly equivalent to taking over 1,000 cars off the road.
According to Bill Spratley, Executive Director of Green Energy Ohio, “Walmart's installation of solar on 12 store rooftops is the largest solar commitment ever made by a retail business in Ohio.”
Solar Hawaii
In community partnership with SunEdison, Walmart continues an aggressive schedule of installing solar power installations in Hawaii stores. One year of operation for each our three latest rooftop systems is equivalent to removing 67 cars off the road for one year. The three systems combined are expected to remove over 2,000 cars in 10 years.
As Rey Armijo, Hawaii Market Manager for Walmart, said, “We are committed to making decisions that are not only good for business and the environment, but also allow us to pass on savings to our customers.”
Solar Massachusetts*
In January, Walmart completed our 200th solar installation, doubling the 100th-installation milestone we achieved a year earlier. The 200th installation is in Lunenburg, Massachusetts. We are partnering with Greenskies of Connecticut  to install solar panels at all 27 of our Massachusetts stores by 2014, which will make us the largest user of solar power in the state. The power generated will be equal to enough energy for more than 1,300 homes.
In the words of George Bachrach, president of the Environmental League of Massachusetts,
“Walmart’s solar installation commitment is a game-changer for renewable energy in Massachusetts. This is the largest business customer to see the economic and environmental benefits of solar power, and I hope others follow in Walmart’s footsteps.”

Walmart continues the work daily to use green energy, store by store and state by state. Our ongoing solar system projects are major contributors to Walmart’s being recognized by the EPA Green Partners Program as the No. 1 user/producer of on-site renewable generation in the U.S

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Green Concerts

By Maggie Wehri on June 11, 2014

The Riverbend Music Center has seen a 10% increase in lawn ticket sales since installing a recycled synthetic turf at the amphitheater in 2012.
The recycled turf at the Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati. Photo via
Hoping to bring the hottest touring summer concerts to the city of Cincinnati, the Riverbend Music Center provides a beautiful amphitheater setting on the banks of the Ohio River for attendees to catch the hottest touring acts. With the Riverbend’s installation of recycled artificial grass in 2012, the amphitheater will continue its commitment to spectators for many more years to come.

The Riverbend Music Center opened July 4, 1984, with a cost of approximately $9 million and a seating capacity of 20,500. With an upcoming summer schedule of big-name performers like Jimmy Buffet, Keith Urban, Dave Matthews Band, OneRepublic and other globe-trotting artists, the Riverbend Music Center has become a Midwestern fixture on every top-flight summer tour itinerary.

To ensure this tradition continues while reducing the amphitheater’s carbon footprint, Riverbend appointed a new recycled synthetic turf across its grounds — the world’s first of its size. Installed over the course of 10 weeks with the late donor Patricia Corbett’s funds, Riverbend was able to pay for the state-the-art technology covering 2.75 acres for a cost of $750,000.

With this recycled turf, Riverbend will save more than $90,000 annually on fertilizers, pesticides, weed killers, gas-powered lawn mowers and water fees. Beyond the environmental and financial benefits, the new lawn will only amp up the fun for people who like to sit, stand or dance on this 120,000 square feet of nonflammable plastic turf.

The system installed is equipped with a top layer made up of densely packed 2-inch blades of nonflammable plastic grass, a height shorter than a typical lawn trim. The lawn’s makeup is similar to carpet, which is sewn together and anchored by evenly spaced spikes.

Unlike earlier models of artificial turf, this synthetic grass is completely made of recyclable materials. Because the turf can get a little too hot in the summer heat, Riverbend installed a mist system to keep the turf cool.

The amphitheater hopes to act as a model for other amphitheaters around the world to think more critically about installing system like its own. Since installation, there has been a 10% increase in ticket sales on the lawn, which is estimated to have a lifespan of about 10 years. Riverbend considers this to be not only a great business decision, but also a chance to make an sustainable decision that offers comfort for many concert fans to enjoy.
- See more at:

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Have an Eco-Friendly Flag Day

Have an Eco-Friendly Flag Day

Nestled between Memorial Day and Independence Day is the often ignored Flag Day. I’ll admit it: I turned to Google to figure out when it falls (June 14), but I think ignoring it would be a mistake. The day provides a wonderful opportunity to talk about the American Flag itself between the two higher-profile patriotic holidays. Finding eco-friendly American flags is certainly a challenge, however. Flag companies that have been in business for decades—and for well over 100 years in a couple of cases—are starting to make green American flags, but I think this day provides an excellent teaching and DIY crafting opportunity to share with your little ones.


In preparation for Flag Day this year—it falls on the same day every year, by the way—run to your favorite craft store and pick up a few supplies to make flags with the kids. Organic cotton fabric, wooden dowel rods, eco-friendly paints and your favorite adhesive are all you need for these fun crafts. You’ll only need a yard or two of cotton fabric, depending on how big you want your flags to be. I’d plan for fabric segments about one foot by two feet in size for each kiddo, but I’ll let you be the judge of that. Spread some newspapers out on the grass out back and set each child up with a paint station. Abe’s Market has some fun non-toxic, natural paints made from fruit and vegetable pigments that you mix with water yourself, if you’re looking for vegan and gluten-free paint options.
As they paint their own flags—and I would certainly encourage individual creativity if I were organizing this craft—be sure to discuss the meaning behind the colors and symbols on the flag. Talk about the stars and the stripes to lead to a better understanding of what the flag means. Then on Independence Day a few weeks later, ask them what they remember about the flag to reinforce learning.
Allow your flags to dry and then attach them to thin wooden dowel rods. Display them in your front yard for all to see. This is one of those projects that can be expanded for classrooms and church groups too.


If you’re just too busy to make your own American flag, check out CF Flags. They boast the first green American flag made from recycled plastic. Similar in feel and weight to heavy duty polyester flags available at most retailers, those made by CF Flags—which has been producing American Flags since 1898—are durable and can be used outdoors or indoors

Monday, June 16, 2014

DENR announces key leadership appointments to state parks and zoo

DENR announces key leadership appointments to state parks and zoo

RALEIGH –The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources today announced two major appointments within its divisions: Mike Murphy as director of state parks and Patricia (Pat) Simmons as deputy director and chief operating officer of the North Carolina Zoo.
As its director, Murphy will oversee the state’s 35 parks and four recreation areas, 20 natural areas, seven lakes, four rivers and four state trails – all told, nearly 220,000 acres of land and water. Murphy succeeds Lewis Ledford, who retired after 37 years of service to the state parks system. Murphy assumes his duties July 22.
“Mike brings to us passion, experience and a terrific skill set,” DENR Secretary John Skvarla said. “He is ideally suited to lead the division as we approach the North Carolina state parks system's centennial celebration in 2016. His diverse background as a science educator, a financial expert and businessman will play critical roles in supporting the multiple components of our state parks system.”
Murphy, 60, is a past managing director and president of Trident Financial Services, a Raleigh company acquired by Ohio-based KeyCorp in 1999. He most recently served as an astronomy and physics instructor at Ravenscroft School in Raleigh and is the immediate past president of the Friends of the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, the private, nonprofit group that raises money for the museum and its educational programs.
“Mike’s experience with the friends of the museum will help us greatly expand partnerships and increase our outreach with the many groups interested in the future of state parks,” Skvarla said. “He will also help us build upon recent successes such as the additions of Chimney Rock and Grandfather Mountain state parks.”

Murphy earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from the University of Virginia, a Master of Business Administration from UNC Chapel Hill and two other master’s degrees, including one for astronomy from Swinburne University of Technology. He also served six years in the U.S. Navy, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant.
At the N.C. Zoo in Asheboro, Simmons will provide oversight for the facility’s future growth and is positioned to succeed Zoo Director David Jones when Jones retires in March 2016. Simmons’ first day is Sept. 2. The N.C. Zoo is the world’s largest land-area zoo, encompassing more than 2,000 acres. It welcomes more than 750,000 visitors annually. An announcement about Simmons’ appointment was included in a June 3 news release from the zoo.
Simmons, 57, has spent the past 31 years at the Akron (Ohio) Zoo, including the past 25 as president and chief executive officer. Under her leadership, the Akron Zoo has enjoyed immense growth and prosperity. Since 2003, its operating budget has risen from $4.6 million to $10.4 million and its attendance has climbed from about 150,000 to a record-setting 389,500 in 2013.
“The North Carolina community is going to love Pat,” Skvarla said. “Her energy and enthusiasm are contagious. She’s accomplished remarkable things in Akron, and we’re excited about what she’ll bring, both present and future, to our zoo.”
More detailed biographies of Simmons and Murphy are included on the following pages. To learn more about state parks or the North Carolina Zoo, check out the websites at or

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Free educational summer tours of Rachel Carson Reserve in Beaufort

State offers free educational summer tours of Rachel Carson Reserve in Beaufort

BEAUFORT – The N.C. Division of Coastal Management’s Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve program will offer free public field trips to the Rachel Carson Reserve in Beaufort every Tuesday and Thursday morning in June, July and August.
Trips will run from 8:30–10:30 a.m. and will depart from the reserve’s education classroom in the NOAA Administration, 101 Pivers Island Rd Beaufort.
Three unique field trip programs are being offered this summer. The nature hike field trip takes participants along the reserve’s 1.1-mile Outer Loop hiking trail, through examples of marsh, beach and maritime forest habitat. Boardwalk excursions feature excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing, both from the reserve’s 24-foot passenger skiff and the interpretative boardwalk trail located on Carrot Island. The circumnavigation cruise tours the islands of the reserve by boat, including a trip to Middle Marsh, an area used for decades by marine scientists for coastal research and monitoring. All field trips are led by trained volunteers with expertise in marine ecology and environmental education.
All field trips are free and open to the public but reservations are required as boat space is limited. Please contact Education Coordinator Lori Davis at or 252-220-0779 for more information or to make a reservation. A full field trip schedule is available at

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Hollyood Bowl is Eco Friendly

By April Stearns on June 10, 2014

The venerable Los Angeles venue continues to innovate its conservation methods into its tenth decade.
The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, framed by the Hollywood Hills and legendary Hollywood sign.

The Hollywood Bowl’s summer concert season began in May, and while it’s time to prepare for a summer full of the hottest outdoor performances, the amphitheater is taking action to make this its most environmentally conscientious summer concert season yet.

Since more than 1 million people visit picturesque amphitheater nestled in Los Angeles’ Hollywood Hills every year, conservation programs the Bowl implements can make a major difference. Here are just a few on tap for this season:
  • With limited parking space, the Bowl is teaming up with LA’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority to give attendees an easy public transportation option, which takes them to the event. On the other hand, if visitors choose to travel to the venue by bike — admittedly a tough job if traveling uphill — they will receive the benefit of free parking.
  • The Bowl focuses on reusing any possible materials on the venue grounds to assist in its commitment to be green. There are recycling bins located throughout the grounds, and the staff works to go through waste bins to make sure as few recyclables are mixed with other waste as possible.
  • Since 2007, the Bowl has housed waterless urinals and water-reducing toilets to help cut the use of water at the venue. Next to this, the Bowl also uses an irrigation system that tracks rainfall around the venue and irrigates accordingly. Therefore, the grounds are not watered unless it is acceptable and necessary.
  • To try to keep water as little affected by airborne pollutants as possible, there are stainless steel grates fixed at water intakes and special filters installed to clean the water used for irrigation.
The Bowl, which opened in 1922, has also been certified as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary because of its environmental plan to keep the venue as natural as possible to help the animal and plant species who live nearby feel at home.
Since the Hollywood Bowl is located in such a natural setting, being environmentally conscientious is important for the owners, staff and attendees of the venue. If they continue to work on and promote various eco-friendly programs, the Bowl can continue to preserve the natural beauty it has had for nearly a century.
- See more at:

Home Electronics Disposal