If anyone would like a cd-rom of papers presented at EVS 23 this year, please drop me a line. I have the cd and don't need it anymore. Might be of interest to someone else.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Ok, so I've pretty much cut out all plastic bags from my life by having a bunch of cloth bags around, using my backpack, and juggling things out of the store like an idiot when I've forgotten to bring them. Having said that, produce has always been a tough one. While most things I can go without (do you really need to put apples into a flimsy plastic bag) there are some things that are tougher (think green beans). Fear not, the answer is here. ResusableBags sells these awesome little mesh cotton produce bags and I finally got around to trying them out.
Not only am I hooked, but the missus loves them too (no small feat that by the way). They are lightweight, see through, washable, sturdy and basically awesome. They sell for $3.95 a piece but if you get together with friends and but ten or more they come down to $3.25. Now I know this is a fair amount when you consider that the plastic produce bags in the store don't cost you, but when you think about it, they do, just not in the immediate out of pocket sense of the word. While I've only had these bags for a few weeks, I gotta say that they are well made and I can see them lasting for quite some time.
Check em out
Monday, May 5, 2008
Sunday, May 4, 2008
This is way overdue for a lot of reasons, but lets' just say I've got a lot on my plate and I tend to bite off more than I can chew and leave it at that. We are all familiar with the little green recycling symbol on the left that appears on so many products these days, but how many of us actually understand what the codes that go with them mean? HDPE, PETE, LDPE? I sure didn't and so I decided to do a little investigating. I'm going to hit the highlights, but there are a ton of good sources of info out there like the one at The Daily Green. Also, if you are trying to figure out where to recycle ANYTHING at all near you, check out Earth 911.
Number 1 Plastics: PET or PETE (plyethelene terephthalate)
PETE is most commonly found in soda and water bottles but is also used to make peanut butter jars and veggie oil containers as well. It is usually downcycled to make items like polar fleece, tote bags, fibers and carpet. Most beverage bottles are made of this stuff as it is inexpensive and lightweight, but shockingly the recycle rates are only at around 20%.
Number 2 Plastics: HDPE(high density polyethylene)
This stuff is a bit heavier and is most commonly recognized in milk jugs, household cleaner bottles, shampoo bottles, some garbage bags, and cereal box liners. HDPE is generally recycled into laundry detergent bottles, plastic lumber, pens, and floor tiles to name a few.
Number 3 Plastics: PVC (polyvinyl chloride)
PVC is found in clear food packaging, some window cleaner and detergent bottles, and the outer jacketing of electrical cables (think ethernet cables). It's not as readily recycled and is pretty nasty stuff as its manufacture and burning releases toxins into the atmosphere. When it is taken for recycling, it can be turned into mudflaps, cables, speed bumps and floor mats. PVC can contain a softener (di-2-ehtylhexyl phthalate (DEHP)) which has been shown to be an endocrine disruptor and human carcinogen so you may want to avoid it altogether. Good times!
Number 4 Plastics: LDPE (low density plyethylene)
This is the stuff we probably see the most of after PETE in water bottles as it's what goes into those plastic shopping bags. Other uses are squeezy dispenser bottles, bread and frozen food bags, and some clothing and furniture. LDPE is becoming easier to turn in for recycling and can be used to make trash can liners, shipping containers, composters and envelopes.
Number 5 Plastics: PP (polypropylene)
You'll see PP 5 in bottle caps, plastic drinking straws, some plastic food containers and medicine bottles. Polypropylene is one of the more commonly accepted plastics for recycling and can become signal lights, brooms and brushes, ice scrapers, and landscaping borders. Because it has a high melting point, it is commonly used in things that will come in contact with heat.
Number 6 Plastics: PS (polystyrene)
Another commonly found one, PS is used on carry out containers, compact disc cases, egg cartons, and "disposable" cups and plates. It is fairly hard to recycle this stuff (many areas do not accept it) and has been proven to leach carcinogenic toxins in many instances. Polystyrene is most commonly found in Styrofoam (they inject it with air to make it light and give it that texture) and can be turned into insulation, light plate switches, foam packing and egg cartons and carry out containers.
Number 7 Plastics: Everything else.
Ok, this is a weird one. In an attempt to label everything, they came up with number 7 for things that don't fit in 1-6. Some of the products that carry a 7 are 5 gallon water dispenser bottles, bulletproof material (hopefully you won't need to recycle this stuff), computer cases, dvds, and a whole host of other things. A lot of local recycling programs won't take number 7 for the obvious reason that they don't immediately know what's what. This is a bummer cause as of right now, many compostable products carry a number 7 on them and are therefore not always recyclable. Crazy but it's true. It should also be noted that Polycarbonate which carries a number 7 and is used in many baby bottles and reusable sports bottles(Nalgene), as well as those office water jugs, contains the hormone disruptor bisphenol-A which has been shown to leach out due to age or heating over the long term. Ain't science fun?
So there you have it. This is only meant as an overview but I think it's worth noting that many of the plastics listed above are not truly recycled (turned back into what they were originally intended for) but instead downcycled (turned into other stuff). As a result, while the plastic is getting a longer life, eventually it's still most likely going to end up in that landfill and they're just going to have to keep on starting the chain over new from the top every time. All of this requires a tremendous amount of energy, creates a tremendous amount of waste, and adds a ton of pollutants to the planet. So while we all need to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and let it Rot, it seems like we should add Refuse to the head of that list and not use these products to begin with.
Food for thought.
I went to work the other day and my buddy Duane comes over with a present for me, this totally cool Orikaso foldable bowl for my backpack. It's extremely cool, easy to clean, easy to carry, has a lifetime guarantee, is "unbreakable"(although i find that to be a challenge more than a claim), inexpensive, and is recyclable and comes in recycled packaging. On top of all that, the package says it's even good for Picnics and Parties. Parties! How cool is that!
Posted by Dave at 7:54 PM
This seems like a pretty good no brainer and while it doesn't specifically deal with the waste issue per se, it's a good reminder of how lucky most of us are to have enough to eat, and that there are those all around us who don't.
On Saturday, May 10, Campbell Soup Company will join forces with the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) to Stamp Out Hunger! across America . Now in its 16 th year, the Stamp Out Hunger! effort is the nation's largest single-day food drive, having collected more than 836 million pounds of food since its inception in 1993.
To help Stamp Out Hunger! this year, simply leave a sturdy bag containing non-perishable foods, such as canned soup, canned vegetables, pasta, rice or cereal next to your mailbox prior to the time of regular mail delivery on May 10. Food items should be in non-breakable containers, such as boxes and cans. The nation's 230,000 letter carriers will then collect donations from homes across the country and deliver them to food bank members of America 's Second Harvest – The Nation's Food Bank Network and other hunger relief organizations in more than 10,000 local communities.
To find out more about the annual Stamp Out Hunger! effort in your community, ask your letter carrier, contact your local post office or visit www.helpstampouthunger.com.
Greendimes has announced that they will pay the next 5 million people who sign up $1 each to stop their junk mail for a year.
Now how can you beat that?
What are you waiting for?