Monday, April 27, 2009

Zero Waste Station on Earth Day

On Sunday, April 19, San Diego celebrated Earth day at Balboa Park. It was the largest fee annual environmental fair in the world and had around 70,000 visitors.

With 400 volunteers, The Earth Fair featured more than 400 exhibitors, special theme areas, a Food Pavilion, a special Kids’ Activity Area, three entertainment venues, the Children's Earth Parade, the eARTh Gallery art show, and the Cleaner Car Concourse.

The most interesting thing about San Diego Earth Fair was that it was working toward becoming a Zero Waste Event.

Earth Works in collaboration with EDCO and Urban Corp of San Diego, was behind this effort.

Recycling bins had been available since the beginning of Earth Day and this time bins to collect organic materials for composting were been added. The organics bins(green) along with recycle(blue) and trash (Black)bins comprised the "Zero waste station".

We(Tarun my hubby & me) along with hundreds of others volunteered at the zero waste station to make sure that the attendees use the appropriate bin.

We were there to guide, and used this opportunity to teach attendees how zero waste can eliminate the need for landfills and concepts such as “waste”.

We also educated attendees about the need for manufacturer redesign and responsibility, greenhouse gas emission reductions by recycling, and monetary value of resource management versus landfill reliance.

It was a extremely fulfilling and educating task. It was an extremely hot day but we had the time of our life!

And our efforts paid off.

About 2.33 tons of waste was sent for recycling, 1.28 tons for composting and .9 tons to the landfill. We achieved a total of 80% diversion rate!!

And this was in spite of some crazy lemonade people selling their stuff in Styrofoam containers.

This is how our trash(black) bin looked like. Mostly filled with Styrofoam. :( It was an exceptionally hot day and people drank lots of Lemonade.
Imagine celebrating earth day with Styrofoam! Some businesses just don't have any sense of right or wrong.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What to put in your compost bin and what not to?

As a part of greening my art-studio ArtOcrat I had started composting scrap paper, used paper towels and occasional food scrap that gets used in my studio.

Will post pictures of my vermi-compost bin soon. But, in the mean time here is a visual list of things that go and not go in the home compost bins.

If you want larger sized images to put in your homes or workplaces just mail me and I will email them to you.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

“Use Less Stuff” Logo Rewards Reductions in Product, Packaging and Energy

On Earth Day, April 22, a new green certification program for products and packages will be launched reported PackWorld.

What it means is that companies can earn the “Use Less Stuff” certification if they deliver a 20-percent reduction in packaging, 20-percent reduction in energy consumption, or a 20-percent increase in efficiency.

And the good news is that these three products - Perfect Glacier IceWater from Park City Ice Water Company, Winston Company’s Doctor Drain septic tank treatment, and Safonique’s laundry detergent – have been ULS certified.

Waste reduction levels for these products range between 47 percent and 78 percent.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Manufacturing cap - Manufacture only as much as you recycle

Every second month comes the time when another Brita water purifier filter needs to be replaced. I am assailed by regrets, I don't want to throw it into the garbage nor do I want to incur additional expense to post it to Brita for recycling.

I collect these filters hoping that at some point in the future Brita will roll out a plan to collect all the used filters. May be they will tie up with the local Costco and set up a collection box.

Wishful thinking on my part? May be not... But my imagination takes another flight and I land into a future where there is a cap (like in cap and trade) on manufacturing. In this future Brita will only be able to produce as many filters as it recycles. So, if for the month of March Brita was able to collect 100,000 used filters, they can manufacture 100,000 filters for the month of April.

This cap will be in the form of a law that requires all manufacturers to call back their discarded products, recycle them judiciously and produce only the number of units that they collected and recycled a month before.

And the incentive to do that will be the proportionate increase of the manufacturing cap. I have seen time and again that the bottom line is the major influencing factor in any decision making. In Manufacturing cap we are creating an incentive to collect and recycle, not just leaving it to choice or personal discretion .

This Manufacturing cap will go a long way in reducing the stuff that goes to the landfills. It will help us in achieving sustainability in multiple ways.

1. Save valuable resources from ending up in landfills by mandating extraction of all the valuable materials from the used and discarded products.
2. Incentive to design Cradle to Cradle products. If the manufacturers are going to be responsible for the recycling of what they produce then they will design smart products with smarter materials that are easy to take apart and recycle.
3. Creating employment. Reuse of products is vital and substantially more resource efficient than recycling. Bunch of small businesses that repair and refurbishment products could grow under the wings of these recycling operations.

May be this dream will come true some day.

Closing The Loop

A new report from the Green Electronics Council (GEC), "Closing the loop: Product Design to Enhance Reuse/Recycling Value,” identifies several research priorities to increase the cost effectiveness and resource efficiency of e-scrap recycling.

Electronics recyclers and refurbishers are recommending several key changes to manufacturers on how they design electronic products and the information they need to improve processing of used devices.

They point to several key changes to enhance end-of-life (EOL) value recovery and process efficiency, including enhanced communications tools, product design for greater durability and reuse, eliminating hazardous substances, and improvements in materials separation through design.

The report also recommends the development of a “Close the Loop Registry” — a Web-based centralized access point for product information about the attributes of particular products such as the location and number of screws and fasteners, location of hazardous substances, and information on identification and separation of plastics. This searchable database will help EOL managers more effectively and efficiently breakdown and recycle products without delays, according to the report.

Design for End of Life Final Report 090208

Sears Adds Suits Made of Recycled Bottles

In May, retailers Sears will begin selling men’s suits made of fabric blend of wool and polyester spun from recycled plastic soda bottles. This move is just in time for Father’s Day shopping.

Sold under the Covington Perfect brand, a complete suit will retail for about $250, according to Retuers.

And get this: This suit is machine washable and can be tossed in the dryer, eliminating the need for dry cleaning and upping the eco-friendly ante, Danser said.

Fun fact: It takes 25 plastic soda-pop bottles (2-liter size) to make enough polyester yarn to produce the fabric for one suit.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Earth Clock