Most of us don’t eat about 14% of the food we purchase. It ends up in the garbage can but it still gives us gas. Specifically, when wasted food ends up in the landfill it generates a greenhouse gas that is 23 times more potent as an atmosphere heat-trapper than carbon dioxide is. The greenhouse gas is methane and we ought to be just as concerned about our “methane footprint”.
How much food do we waste?
Americans waste about $50 billion a year.
What’s the answer?
Plan more carefully before leaving for the grocery store.
Use leftovers from meals and bring home uneaten food when you dine out at restaurants. (Encourage them to use biodegradable take-out trays by the way.)
Know what foods you have in the fridge and eat them before their expiration date.
Lastly, compost so that the uneaten leftovers and food shavings and scarps help fertilize your garden as you grow your own local produce.
Okay, now here’s the commercial. My Green Mind sells a number of composters. One new one is a bin that rolls on the wheels of a horizontal base to make churning compost really easy. The Compost Wizard Jr. comes in 7 or a 12 cubic foot sizes. A second composter, the Aerobin, offers a much larger capacity and is even easier to use. It has a patented, aerated system that doesn’t require any churning.
What to compost and what you shouldn’t. Do Compost: fruit peels, vegetable peels coffee grinds and filters, tea bags, egg shells, plant trimmings and table waste. Also leaves, dry grass, tissue paper, shredded newspaper, shredded cartons and shredded egg cartons. Avoid: Meat, fish, dairy, sauces, oil, fat, pet waste, bones and seeding weeds.
Don’t look now but there’s cash in your closet. At least if you’re like most and have old cell phones gathering cobwebs. We should recycle them, but who has the time and where would we go if we did?
In the best of all worlds there would be a kiosk that takes your old phone, values it, and pays you for it. Enter the ecoATM which does exactly that. It even wipes the data from your old phone to protect your privacy.
Here’s the way ecoATM works.
Insert your old cell phone or electronic portable device into the ecoATM. The are kiosks at some store locations now, but soon you’ll find them at many familiar retailers. If you accept the value offered, ecoATM pays you for it in cash or with a gift card from the store, or a trade-up coupon, or you can opt to make a charitable contribution.
You make money, but importantly you’re also helping to green the planet.
EcoATM resells what it accepts (about 50% of the phones received are sold again) or they are melted down for their material which is recovered and reused. Safely recycling phone materials prevents some three tons of dirt and minerals per phone from having to be mined. To quote the ecoATM site: By using the ecoATM, you’ve saved “a pile of dirt about the size of a car for a phone that fits in your pocket.”
Who is the corporate money behind ecoATM? A key investor is the Coinstar people who provide those ubiquitous coin sorters found in major supermarket chains. Coinstar followed it’s successful coin sorters with about 22,000 Redbox movie kiosks. The ecoATM is their act three.
A startup, ecoATM presently has only a few ATMs, mostly in California, but the roll out of the ecoATM kiosk on a large scale is underway. Coinstar’s sorter and Redbox kiosks are already in select grocery stores like Kroger’s, fast-food giants like McDonald’s, drug stores like Walgreens and CVS and in Wal-Mart stores, so the company has the contacts to get ecoATMs in place.
EcoATM estimates the market for electronic assets lying dormant in consumer homes at $25 billion. By reselling or recycling dormant electronics, they help prevent electronics from ending up in landfills where they seep toxins into our aquifers.
Newport’s trash is gone. 15,000 music lovers might have left it scattered about Fort Adams State Park over the three days at the jazz Mecca that first formed back in the sixties. Some 2 tons of plastic bottles, paper and other potential waste didn’t get trashed, didn’t go to the landfill and instead is being recycled. Who are our green angels? A terrific group of volunteers from Clean Water Action, with 40,000 members in Rhode Island and more than 1.2 million thoughout the U.S.
Volunteers collected the waste via trash, compost and recycle bins conveniently placed throughout the festival Park. This year, for the first time in the 19 years the Clear Water Action has handled the Newport Festival recycling, the group collected food waste in bins specifically for composting, with volunteers trucking the waste. Earth Care Farmof Charleston, Rhode Island (they offer tours!) will handle the composting which will in turn be used throughout the state.
You know the drill. We’re gulping from plastic bottles at ever faster rates, with per capita use more than doubling by the decade. (We bought 3.3 billion plastic bottles in 1993 and 15 billion in 2002.)
About 40 million plastic bottles a day become trash with a recycling rate of merely 19% in 2003.
If the numbers are so big you can hardly wrap your mind around them, maybe David de Rothschild can help. The adventurer is setting sail between California and Sydney, floating on the deep, blue sea. In a boat made of plastic bottles.
De Rothschild, the British heir to a major bank fortune, came up with a unique way to publicize the plastic bottle trash issue. He built a boat. A 60 foot boat. A catamaran made out of 12,000 two liter soda plastic bottles. It’s aptly named the Plastiki and recently she set sail from the Bay of Sausalito California.
Even the ship’s construction is eco-thoughtful – using glue made from cashew hulls and sugar. Billionaire de Rothschild and his crew departed Sausalito, California on March 30 bound for Sidney, Australia, a voyage expected to take about 100 days and cover 11,000 nautical miles.
De Rothschild hopes the ship’s expedition will bring attention to the global waste problem.
“We’re needlessly losing millions of seabirds and hundreds of thousands of marine mammals from ingesting plastic every year,” said de Rothschild.
“I decided to take this ‘out of sight, out of mind’ problem and build a boat out of the very items that we were seeing ending up in our natural environment.”
One of the main sights the voyage of the Plastiki will highlight will be when the Plastiki passes the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an enormous and deadly island of floating ocean trash, twice the size of Texas, consisting of discarded plastic bottles and bags.
Ship of 12,000 plastic bottles
Follow their voyage on Twitter @Plastiki learn and learn more at their website: http://www.theplastiki.com/
(Comment by My Green Mind’s I Michael Grossman. We welcome your comments as well.)
Every cloud reputedly has a silver lining and even black petroleum clouds from high oil prices have one.
The bad news is obvious. To buy oil, we’re exporting American wealth to the middle east the tune of 700 billion a year and clearly–as T. Boone Pickens says–we’re doomed in ten years if we keep this up. But the good news is that car manufacturers, squeezed by ever higher raw materials costs for steel, aluminum and plastics, are turning increasingly to recycled substitutes for savings.
One recycled material used increasingly is petroleum based–plastic. Recycled plastics are showing up in car bumpers, splash guards, interior components–even under the hood. GM uses recycled water bottles to make carpet and floor mats in several Pontiac models and Ford is creating fender liners from recycled battery castings. Since plastics represent about a third of the raw materials costs of a new car, the auto industry has a powerful incentive to buy recycled plastics.
To keep components from recycled plastic as durable as components made from new plastic, recycled plastic pellets have to be mixed with new raw plastic. But as much as 20% of the plastic component can now be made from recycled material.
Companies that provide the auto industry with an alternative–plastic pellets generated from waste plastics–are seeing 20% growth annually as the cost of new raw materials keeps spiraling.
Mr. McGuire’s advice to Benjamin Braddock in the 1967 film–The Graduate –is still valid, but a single word no longer captures the future. Then the future was "Plastics". Today the prophecy requires two words: "Recycled plastics."
(Credit The Detroit Free Press for facts in this blog.)
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