RecycleMania: Reduce, Reuse, Recylce Today we live in a world filled with luxuries beyond our wildest imaginations. We live in the most technologically advanced nation in the world, we belong to a country where we are free to make our own decisions, and every time we step outside, we are looking at some of the most beautiful land that exists. At least that used to be the case. What was once a stunning countryside of amber waves of grain has rapidly turned into a polluted, contaminated, factory‐ driven nightmare that is only getting worse. Global warming is becoming the kind of problem that no one can reasonably deny and it is destroying our planet. By 2050, 35% of all plant and animal species are projected to be completely wiped out as a result of this phenomenon. And this is all thanks to us. Humans are completely responsible for this destruction and Americans are the ones leading the way. The US is ranked number one in the world in terms of global warming pollution and despite it being a catastrophic problem that is staring us right in the face, it seems like nobody is doing anything to help the cause. In the following pages, we will hear about five people who have something to say about that assumption. Dr. Riese Narcisse is an environmental advocate that specializes in technology. He stresses the importance of recycling not only paper and plastic, but electronic devices such as cell phones and televisions. These are usually not items that people associate with recycling but Dr. Riese explains just how significant these devices are and how, when not properly reused, can have a devastating impact on our environment. Dr. Jenna Ambrosi is the Professor of Environmental Studies at Harvard University. She has traveled across the globe emphasizing environmental safety and in this particular article she gives us her opinions on how to lead a no impact life. No impact living is the attempt of minimizing an individual’s carbon footprint and Dr. Ambrosi shares ten tips on how to be a no impact person.
Dr. Kacey Stark is another Environmental Studies Professor that comes to us from Yale University. She has had this position for twenty‐five years and by now, she knows the ins and outs of college life. She has been helping students to become more environmentally conscious for years and she says that the biggest challenge that these kids face comes from their dorm rooms. While trying to get the coolest new stuff, they don’t even have a second thought about how much money they are spending for things that hurt the environment. She shares some insight that she has acquired from teaching college students and she gives us more than enough ideas on how to decorate your room while saving money by shopping green. Spenser Sussan, the editor of Real Simple Magazine, explains an idea that most people have probably never heard of – upcycling. This is the process of finding a use for something that most people would deem useless. She explains how it is more efficient to upcycle that it is to recycle. In her post, she gives specific example of how to do this with everyday items that can be found around the house. But these are simply examples that she has thought of herself. The real idea of upcycling is to find items that no longer have a use and to create something new with them. Susan gives a few examples for inspiration but the truth is, there are infinite ways to use upcyling to your advantage. Our last expert is Molly Curtiss who is the CEO of Global Enterprises, INC. She focuses on how big businesses have been trying to make a difference in their green efforts. The corporations that are mentioned have some very good ideas for making their products more environmentally friendly including a jacket that can actually charge your phone and ipod using solar panels on the sleeves. Curtiss gives a few examples of some green products that are on the market and I can assure you that you definitely want to give these a look. Not only are they easy on the earth, but they also fit today’s fashion‐obsessed world. Without further ado, here are the articles in their entirety and with the help of these experts, we can learn to make our earth a little more sustainable so that it won’t die with our generation.
Electronics Waste By: Dr Riese Narcisse
Technology is very much a part of our lives from day to day, so much that the recycling of such products should be just as common as recycling a plastic bottle or paper. However, much of our old technology ends up getting completely trashed upon the sight of the slightest malfunctions, or because something more advanced was made. The amount of Electronic waste or E-Waste produced by the U.S is very high due to our quick advances in technology. Out of the 205.5 million units of computers trashed in the United States in 2007 alone, only 48.2 million of those units are actually recycled, that is about 18% of our computers being recycled. Televisions get recycled at this Did you know??? same percentage with U.S consumers in 2008 6.3 million units recycled out of the 26.9 million disposed of. Cell phones come in at purchased 172 billion dollars in an even lower rate with 14 million units being recycled out of 140.3 million units consumer electronics. disposed of.
Mercury Poisoning Effects: Damage to kidneys, lungs, and brain. Symptoms: • •
sensory impairment disturbed sensation and lack of coordination
Severity of symptoms depends on the dose, the individual toxin and the method and duration of exposure. It is possible for mercury poisoning to result in several diseases such as acrodynia, Hunter-Russell syndrome, and Minamata disease.
The main problem of not recycling electronics is the pollution that comes from them. Electronics are made up of materials that are very hazardous to the environment, such as Lead Poisoning mercury and lead. Since Feb 19, 2009 the Effects: (in adults) FCC requires that all televisions run a digital • increase blood pressure signal, this requires • infertility people who do not • nerve disorders already use LCD • muscle and joint pain (liquid crystal display) televisions to purchase Effects: (in children) new ones. Why does this matter? This now • anemia means a great disposal • severe stomach rate of CRT (cathode • muscle weakness ray tubes) televisions • brain damage which contain high amount of lead. Lead
These effects of lead poisoning can occur in a child when a child swallows large amounts of lead.
is also in CRT computer monitors. Mercury, the other toxic element that I mentioned above, is found in the small fluorescent lamp placed behind most laptop screens. Mercury is also found in computer circuit boards. Small amounts of lead or mercury can be very harmful alone, now imagine a whole landfill filled with it! This can be very detrimental to an area’s soil or water supply. This is a serious problem; however, we can do something about it.
Figure 1: Here is a diagram depicting the process of how water contamination happens.
Instead of trashing our useless electronics we can recycle them! Below is a
video showing how to do this effectively.
In 1998, the amount of gold recovered from electronic scrap in the United States was equivalent to the amount recovered from more than 2 million metric tons of gold ore and waste! This is because PCs actually contain gold, in several parts such as the motherboard, transistors, circuits, USB and serial ports.
“No Impact World” Jenna Ambrosi Professor of Environmental Studies, PhD. Harvard University “No Impact Man is a blog by Colin Beavan about what each of us can do to end our environmental crisis, make a better place to live for ourselves and everyone else, and hopefully come up with a happier way of life along the way.” This article discusses what Beaven believes we can do to eliminate all carbon and environmental impacts. He, and everyone else who participates in his “No Impact Week,” are trying to change their lifestyles in order to eliminate them. They want to make the earth safer for themselves and future generations. Beavan believes that the more resources we use, the more harm we are doing to the planet. Erasing your carbon footprint is not something that can be achieved in a single action or in a short time frame. “No Impact Man” describes what can be done in order to begin to erase all environmental impacts on the earth. Beaven’s “top ten eco-lifestyle changes” list what he thinks are the best ways to achieve happier, more eco-friendly lives. At least half of his list is manageable for a college student. With the space, money, and time that a college student possesses, it is impossible to do them all but the ones that really matter, in my opinion, are the easiest to achieve. One: according to Beaven, beef production greatly contributes to climate change and is not the greatest for your body. His first lifestyle change is to eliminate beef from the diet. Because there are so many options to choose from in campus dining, it is not that difficult to cut out beef entirely. Two: give up bottled water. This is one of the easiest and most helpful of his suggestions. Bottled water is more expensive than tap water and the effect of the plastic on the environment is detrimental. According to Earth911.com, Americans buy about 29.8 billion plastic bottles every year and nearly 80 percent of them will end up in a landfill. It takes a long time for these bottles to break down and many of them contain harmful chemicals that can seep into the ground. By eliminating the use of plastic water bottles, we save the plastic and the ground in which it’s buried. If you must use these, then here’s an easier suggestion; recycle them when you are through rather than throwing them away. “give the planet a break.”
Three: for one day, do not use any resources. Do not go shopping and do not use electricity. Take some time for yourself and relax. Beaven calls this an “eco-sabbath.” Taking some time for yourself will leave you rejuvenated and “give the planet a break.” Four: Beaven suggests taking a small portion of your income and giving it to a non-profit organization. While donation is always a good choice, many college students do not work and have very limited spending money, therefore making it difficult to give any money to anyone. The most charitable foundation at the moment is “Feed the Hungry College Student Fund.” However, for a well off, middle-aged person with a house and a car, donating some of his income is not such a bad idea. Giving back is always appreciated and makes you feel good, too. Five: don’t drive. For a certain number of days per month walk or ride a bike to reduce the amount of fossil fuels into the environment. From the experience of living in both a city and suburb, I can attest that air with less fumes in it is much more enjoyable than air with a lot. Transportation is not the only cause of polluted air; it is also due to factories and how they dump their garbage. Many factories do not follow EPA regulations when it comes to their run-off and are letting debris fall into the air and water supply. Since this is also such a large contributor to poor air quality, cutting back on our transportation emissions will be able to reduce at least half the problem. “Wasting resources costs the planet and your wallet.” Six: don’t waste energy. Beaven says, “Wasting resources costs the planet and your wallet.” He means that the more energy you use the more you have to pay. Keeping your house at a constant temperature in the summer and winter will cut back on your heating bill and a few degrees up or down can make a big difference in the price. Also, hanging clothes to dry is more cost and energy efficient than putting them in the dryer. Many dorms on campuses give students the ability to control the thermostat and simply setting it to neutral will save you, and the university, big bucks. The simple act of turning off the lights when you leave the room and not letting the water run as you brush your teeth will save energy and money as well.
“Following the lifestyle changes suggested by Beaven is an ensured way to not only reduce the amount of Earth’s resources we use and waste we create, but also a way to lower your monthly energy bills. And who doesn’t like to save a penny here and there in these economic crisis days?” --Johnson K. Williams, Professor of Economics, Tumbletown University Seven: play with your community. This is perhaps the most relevant to a college student’s life. How often do students drive somewhere to do something? For those without cars, very little. The only other option is to hang out with the people around you. This is how the foundation of friendship is built in college, by associating with the people who live near you. Not only is this great for future friendships and relationships, but it is great for saving the earth’s resources. Eight: Beaven wants people to “take their principles to work.” He dismisses the adage “the cost of doing business,” and believes company CEOs can make a difference through their companies. This tip is the least relevant to the student. While they cannot control what goes on inside a company, they can limit their buying choices to only those companies that make good environmental choices. Nine: volunteer. Donate an hour of your time every week to eco-service. Volunteering is beneficial to the earth because you are not using its resources, but giving them back. Beaven says it is also a great way to find a community you fit in with and to be able to do something to fix the environmental issues. Although the life of a college student is hectic, many should be able to find an hour a week to give their service to something that spends its entire time providing for humans. The Earth. “We are the masters of our destinies,” Ten: Believe that you are making a difference. Everything one person does affects multiple other people. Every time we make an effort to move towards a more sustainable life, it is helping those around us. As does the consequences of our actions. “We are the masters of our destinies,” Beaven says. If we want to make a difference, we will.
All these tips are intended to help people live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle without having to give up too much. A simple change in what we do can lead to a happier, more ecofriendly life. Many people are taking it upon themselves to “go green” and eventually eliminate their carbon and environmental footprint just like Beaven. Students in an Environmental Studies class at Denison University are taking part in the “No Impact Week” and are discussing ways in which they can make no impact. Some of the suggestions students make are to bring cloth napkins in order to eliminate the paper waste, use Tupperware containers in order to eliminate extra food waste, and use the stairs as often as possible in order to eliminate extra use of electricity. By fixing something that is broken instead of buying something new will save your money and resources. Olivia Aguilar, assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at the university, sets the example for “No Impact Week.” She brings to class a “tool kit” of environmentally friendly products such as a reusable mug, plastic containers, reusable water bottle, cloth napkins, and a paper compost bag. Aguilar is leading the way for her and her students to live a more eco friendly life and completely erase their environmental impact. If you would like to see what the students at Denison University, and other people around the globe, are doing to make no impact, visit http://noimpactman.typepad.com/blog/ .
FURNISNED ECO-FRIENDLY By Dr. Kacey Stark, Professor of Environmental Studies at Yale University For college students across the nation, this time of year means exams, graduation, summer internship plans…and new housing. “According to the National Retail Federation, $3.6 billion will be spent this year outfitting dorms”. Many students need to furnish an apartment as they move from a dorm to off-campus housing. There are many choices students can make to have environmentally sustainable housing. One can reduce energy by lessening the demand on factories to produce décor. By purchasing used furniture, the waste produced by those factories is diminished. By reusing existing items that would otherwise be thrown away, you are lessening the amount of waste that would end up in a landfill. Furniture is usable for years after its production. If just one university made stringent efforts to sell furniture among students, there would be significantly less impact on the environment. There are several options for obtaining secondhand furniture. THRIFT STORES First, purchasing items from thrift stores and secondhand furniture shops is a way to recycle décor, as well as support those in need often employed by such institutions. Goodwill and the Salvation Army are great places to start looking. There are many stores that specialize in second-hand furniture, the majority of which is in nearly new condition. For unique pieces with a bit of history that will add character to any room, antique stores offer excellent finds. SHOP LOCALLY A second option is utilizing websites such as Craig’s List and Ebay to find local owners looking to sell their décor. This is a perfect outlet to work with the owner to set a price within your budget. Another useful website is FreeCycle.com, where you can actually find free items. By shopping locally, rather than transporting items across the country, carbon emissions and are reduced and energy is conserved. SENIORITIS Finally, many graduating seniors are eager to sell their furniture. This is convenient since the furniture is already located in such close proximity; transporting furniture within campus utilizes less energy and reduces carbon emissions as well. It is easy to find an affordable price, since students graduating generally hope to transport a minimum of their belongings, thus easing their move. Many Greek organizations and other clubs will send emails to their members with information about furniture they have for sale. One member of TriSigma at Elon University says she receives numerous emails in the spring from seniors seeking to pass along their furniture.
ECO-FRIENDLY COMPANIES If you prefer to purchase new furniture, there are many eco-friendly options as well. Many companies produce items from environmentally friendly material. You can contact your local U.S. Green Building Council for a complete directory of local stores carrying these materials. One popular brand of eco-friendly indoor furniture is EcoSelect Furniture. The companies Gaiam, Reforest Teak, Maku Furnishings, Loll Designs, and Thos. Baker all produce environmentally friendly outdoor furniture.
OTHER WAYS TO KEEP YOUR ROOM GREEN Aside from purchasing used and eco-friendly furniture, there are other ways to make your dorm or apartment green. • • • • • •
To reduce energy, plug your computer, television, printer, and lights into a power strip. With the flip of a switch, you can greatly reduce your energy use. Remembering to use lights and your AC Unit only when you need them. When possible, just use an open window or a fan to keep your room cool. If possible, use compact florescent light bulbs, which are much more environmentally efficient. Share a refrigerator among suitemates if possible. When purchasing a refrigerator, opt for an energy-star or low-energy certified product. Purchase organic cotton sheets. Microwave ovens, rice cookers, crock pots, and toaster ovens are more energy efficient than a conventional ovens and frying pans since the heat is concentrated on the food. Utilizing these options for cooking is much more environmentally friendly. You can purchase cookbooks written specifically for cooking delicious meals with just a microwave oven.
The website, www.GreenHome.com caters to all the needs of a household providing eco-friendly products. Green products including everything from bedding, to furniture, to lighting, to pest control products can be purchased.
www.TreeHugger.com offers great tips for living an environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Another source is www.GreenYourDecor.com,a blog that provides practical ways to stylishly decorate with environmentally sustainable options. They feature brands of organic fabric, recycled dĂŠcor and home accessories.
Upcycling, The New Recycling By Spenser Sussan, Chief Editor of Real Simple Magazine When it comes to eco‐living, creativity is a necessity. Instead of chucking what we normally would, we should learn to upcycle. While this may be a foreign term to some, it is the process of taking something that you would most likely throw away and finding a way to make something else out of it. It is taking something that is waste and making it into something of equal or greater value and use, instead of recycling which often reduces the quality of the material or plastic. Entrepreneurs on the forefront of the green movement have made many successful businesses based on the idea of upcycling. For example, the company Seabags, based out of Maine makes adorable bags out of recycled sails. However, Seabags.com does not only just make totes bags of various sizes, but they also make coasters, placemats, shaving kits, and wallets. A similar company like Rebagz makes handbags and pencil cases out of nylon grain and rice sacks along with pieces of old juice boxes. This not only takes materials with a short lifespan out of landfills but these pieces also had some flair to your ever day style. Many companies both large and small are taking the initiative to go right in their field of business. For example, companies like Nike are kicking off recycling programs where Nike collects, along with old shoes their manufacturing waste, and repurposes them into different athletic fields, courts, and tracks. Smaller companies like ReSurf.org upcycles broken surfboards into asphalt filler. On a smaller scale, Etsy.com is stocked with handmade items, most of which are made from upcycled material. Coffee sleeves, coin purses, laptop cases made from upcycled sweaters, clocks made out of old travel cases, jewelry made out of industrial material like vinyl records, and house ware made from about anything and everything you can imagine. Upcycling can be done for items used at home or even at your office. Here are some cute ideas. ‐With old clothes ‐Make an apron with the fabric from an old dress ‐Turn a leaky rubber boot into a cute planter by adding a few extra holes for drainage ‐T‐shirts that are not wearable anymore
‐Transform a broken stapler into a modern paperweight with a little low‐VOC spray paint
‐Paper towel rolls or toilet paper rolls ‐Use them to organize cords and Christmas lights, bundle them together tie them with string and make your life a little easier.
There’s nothing more depressing than unpacking acres of plastic from a new purchase to get to the contents. So why not put all your unwanted newspapers, magazines and junk mail to good use instead of putting them in a recycling bag? Scrunched up, they make just as good packing material as those non‐degrading foam chips or reams of bubble wrap.
Also use your scrap paper effectively. We all know there is nothing more annoying than mounds of junk mail, multiple copies of bad department store catalogs, and excess paper. o namely envelopes, letters and flyers – are a great source of paper for telephone notebooks or shopping lists. Chop up (into, say, A5 sized pages) and bind with a strong needle and some string. Or if you have a fire, a few pages twisted together make great firelighters. Let your imagination run wild –like these people.
Once a toothbrush hits their shelf life there are plenty of ways to resuse them if recycling isn’t an option. o Take make‐up brushes – fine and soft enough to dust your camera lens. I also have a couple of worn toothbrushes I’ve kept to clean the chain of my mountain‐bike.
If your out door furniture is looking so chipped, scuffed and scratched that even the best varnish can’t do much for its appearance – why not spray paint it? Another advantage is that you can hide some pretty major repair work with a clever lick of paint.
Oops – butterfingers. And now there’s the remains of a plate in a sad pile of swept‐ up pot fragments, ready for the trash. But there are ways you can use them effectively o are you planning to pot any plants in the near future? Line the base of each pot with some of these fragments – they let water drain out the hole in the base without carrying away the soil. o Or if you’re crafty make a mosaic that would look great in any garden or patio
Used coffee grounds o in moderation, can do wonders for the garden by adding nitrogen to the soil.
Wine bottles are destined for the bottle bin…or are they? Look at what those clever people at transglass did with theirs. You can do better? That’s the spirit!
Whether it’s using a local recycle centre or a council‐provided green bin, it’s never been easier to get your household waste processed back into useful raw materials. But that takes energy – and why spend that energy when this “rubbish” can be turned into something useful in its present form?
Corporate Sustainability: The Future of Industrialization By Molly Curtiss, CEO Global Enterprises, INC. The corporate world is probably one of the biggest institutions in society that ignores efforts for environmental sustainability. Cheap labor, materials, and waste disposal all support mass manufacturing of products that can be sold at cheap prices to gain the greatest profit. Although this trend of neglecting safety and environmental regulations has been prevalent among the industrialized world for almost two centuries, there have recently been many companies emerging from under the woodwork of corporate America to lead a movement and demonstrate that environmentally conscious and sustainable companies can also be not only profitable, but competitive too. Nike, a popular athletic footwear company, has developed a program known as ReUse a Shoe. This program uses old sneakers and converts every part of the old shoe into athletic running tracks, top coverings for tennis courts, new soles for new shoes, and even as the zipper on a new hoodie. It begins by someone dropping off their old sneakers at a Nike ReUse a Shoe recycling location, which can be found all over North America, Europe, and even Australia. Once a large enough collection has been made, the shoes are shipped to either Memphis, Tennessee or Meerhout, Belgium. Maximum capacity for shipments must also be met to ensure the most carbon‐efficient shipping methods possible are used. Once the shoes reach the processing plant, they are stripped into three categories; rubber from the outsole, foam from the midsole, and fabric fibers from the upper portion of the shoe are known as the Nike Grind. This rubber is used to create new athletic surfaces while the foam is used as padding for basketball courts. Even new shoes and clothes can be created from the fabric! Nike has developed an innovative system to recycle their own product and reuse it for even more profit. Another company dedicated to environmental sustainability is Preserve, founded in 1996. With “nothing wasted, everything gained” as their motto, this company creates “stylish, high performance, eco‐friendly” products for the home and uses only 100% recycled plastics and 100% post‐consumer paper. Every product is created
within the United States to reduce shipping distances and carbon emissions and is 100% recyclable, either through postage‐paid labels and mailers or through community pickups that recycle #5 plastics. Almost 100 tons of plastic have been recycled so far by the Preserve company and further efforts to live sustainably by this company include having wind powered offices where employees dress for the weather outside to reduce dependency on heating and air‐conditioning. Some impressive products they promote are the toothbrush made from yogurt cups and cutting boards from takeout containers.
Many people believe that to be fashionable, you must wear the latest duds and own to most current sytle. This mentality isn’t very environmentally friendly, especially when you have people throwing away last year’s shoes because this year they apparently aren’t the right style. However, there are some designers in the fashion industry becoming more conscious of the steps they can take to produce eco‐friendly products that will still create a product. Organic clothing has made huge headway in the fashion industry, especially with companies like Levi Jeans. More innovative ideas include the Ecotech solar jacket, by Zegna Sport, where the sleeves conatin solar panels that convert the sun’s rays into energy that can be used to charge your cell phone or ipod, or even power a heating system in the jacket! Timberland has also jumped on board by manufacturing Earthkeepers boat shoes with soles made from recycled tires.
Finally, students are probably the biggest culprits of wastefulness, especially when it comes to school supplies. Notebooks come in all different styles and can be made out of either plastic or cardboard. Recently though, a UK based company known as Remarkable has marketed many products from recycle materials. The most remarkable of which being the writing pen from the Sony playstation or a notebook from car tires. In 2000, their most impressive accomplishment was produced when they were able to turn CD cases and plastic cups into pencils Sustainable living is not only possible, but it can be more convenient and enjoyable. Consumerism does not need to be eliminated from our lives entirely for humanity to exist as an environmentally friendly species. The companies that practice eco‐friendly methods and that are environmentally responsible in their businesses do exist. It is the responsibility of the individuals in society to shift our habits from supporting convenient, profit‐driven corporations to those that have the future of our planet in mind when they decide to ship a product or use a resource material. We must demand a mass shift in the industrialized world and a revolution in the practices of the majority of the corporate community The future of humanity is in our hands. The future of the planet is in our hands. Let us not drop the ball.
Hearing these experts’ take on environmental safety, we really have no excuse not to do our
part. It is just too simple and the rewards are too great not to make an attempt. Thanks to their advice and tips, we have somewhere to begin. The rest is up to us. We need to continue what they started and then expand it. People are becoming more aware of this trend of going green and it is starting to gain steam. If we keep it going then we might just be able to save what is left of our planet. In keeping our children’s best interest at heart, we really have no choice. The people in this issue have opened the door. Now it is time for the rest of us to follow their lead and make this movement stronger. Not doing so would just be plain selfish. The earth is our home and we have been destroying it at the expense of future generations. It’s time we started to give them a little help.