CBC's The Hour recently completed their challenge for Canadians to do "One Million Acts of Green". Kudos to all participants. This challenge is still ongoing. For more information check it out here.

The new challenge for Canada, is to reach Two Million Acts of Green. According to the website, they are hoping to reach this new goal by summer. Many businesses and individuals are participating in this effort. Good luck to all. If interested in learning more click here.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Okay, I can't end like this -- I have to address NIMBY

After my very first post, our prof told me that I should have talked about the not in my back yard issue. Yes, it is an actual syndrome. Using the acronym NIMBY. It even has a listing in Wikipedia. According to the listing in Wikipedia "The term was coined in the 1980s by British politician Nicholas Ridley, who was Conservative Secretary of State for the Environment." So it's been around for almost three decades now.

I found information discussing how it presents challenges to companies and industries. Check out the article here discussing the topic. This particular article talks about energy -- solar and wind. This article acknowledges that the NIMBY opponents are a minority but still a very significant minority. It also indicated that even though people do not want these energy facilities near them, the preferred two types of energy are wind and solar.

Another article that I came across is about how to live with the NIMBY syndrome. It is from the Ethical Spectacle. A very interesting article that talks about many instances throughout history that could possibly be considered akin to this syndrome. It presents the impression that NIMBYism has been around for much longer than when it was coined in the 1980s.

No matter how we look at it, it's been around for a long time, it's not going to go away. Keep plugging away at the things you feel worth fighting for and use every means of advocacy that you can. Get the word out. Get the activity going and don't back down from the challenge. Good will prevail from these efforts!

If you thought recycling only reduces waste, think again. It can help reduce energy use!

While gathering information for my last post, which I thought would be the last post since class is winding down, I came across some information that I just have to share. Recycling material actually saves money in energy costs. Apparently, it's cheaper to manufacture products from recycled material than it is to create from new. Who knew?

I checked out a few of the items that I googled and was surprised to learn that yes, indeedy, energy can be saved by using products made by recycled material rather than from new ingredients. A website from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has a brief outline about recycled paper, steel and aluminum. The Energy Kids Page also had information regarding how manufacturing a product is less expensive than using new materials. If this is the case, why hasn't this been brought to our attention a long time ago? All this time, I thought recycling was simply a means to cut waste.

Just as I thought I had presented a diverse selection of information regarding recycling, why and how -- I'm suddenly confronted by an area that I thought nothing about previously. And that is the use of energy. Is it recyclable? -- we know for the most part it's not really a renewable resource. So I thought maybe just before things end, I should take a quick peak at this, since it seems to be related to the other.

We are continuously hearing about the importance of finding alternative sources of energy. We need to get away from fossil fuels (gas, oil, coal) and move to areas that might be considered renewable. This would fall in line with wind and solar energies. After all, as far as we can tell, the sun will come up every day and the wind should continue to blow. So what is all the fuss about? Well, just like I mentioned in my very first post where I referred to the not in my backyard attitude (which, at the time, I didn't realize was actually a noted syndrome) people are rejecting the usage of these alternatives. They don't want the wind turbines.

They don't want the large expanses of solar panels. Yet, a good number of these people are probably amongst those criticizing and saying "We have to do something!" My one post about methane gas actually touched on this subject, since the S.C. Johnson company was recycling the methane gas from a landfill and using it to create energy to use in their plants. It is possible, just a little creativity and ingenuity and off we go.

I wish that I had made this connection several weeks ago, because I really think this could become a good post if I had more time to research it. Letting everyone know that it's not just waste that we're saving by recycling, but energy too! We need to do everything that we can in an effort to clean up our act and make things work for future generations. Yes, that our kids and our kids' kids etc.

It's really not that difficult, just making a change in the way we buy, trying to eliminate the extra packaging etc. If we are planning on living green or going green, we really need to make a greater effort. We can do it! Look at all that's been accomplished so far -- there are a lot of pluses. We just need to be more conscientious and continue to work at reducing and/or eliminating these issues. We can do it if we collectively put our minds to it!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Out of the old comes the new . . . some of the products that are made from recycled material

Having worked in the printing industry for many years, I was very familiar with recycled paper. When I left the industry in 2004, the highest percentage of recycled fiber content in paper was around 60-70%. And even papers that are not considered recycled fiber have some small portion of recycled pulp. It's interesting but I think it's more interesting to find out what else is made from all those products that we recycle. There are so many items that we recycle, it's hard to imagine just what gets made from all that stuff.

Well, let's take a look. Tires, for years these have been a big problem. You can't throw them out. You can't recycle them with other items, they have to go to a special location. Someplace that will accept them and dispose of them properly. Plus you have to pay to leave your tire. And goodness only knows you don't want to be around them if they catch on fire.

So here's what I found out. I knew that tires could be used to make landscape materials because I bought these things that went around trees to help keep weeds down. They were brown in colour, very heavy, maybe about 1" thick and sort of made to look like a weave of some sort. They were effective until the tree trunks got too big. But anyway, apparently, trash cans can be made from recycled tires; door mats (see photo at right), low-noise pavement and how about this... recycled sails and bicycle tires are made into bags. Yes, bags. Visit and read how Teamwork Bags is done.

My french linguistics prof likes to collect sayings in English, that while they make sense in one regard are not grammatically correct. He had an environmentally friendly shopping bag that claimed "I used to be a pop bottle". I wasn't surprised by the saying, just that they made a fiber that looks like cloth from plastic.

Plastic pop bottles are really interesting. I visited and saw an item about Fortrel EcoSpun, a new fiber made from recycled plastic pop bottles. I guess that's what was used to make that shopping bag. The page also has a list of other items that are made from the different types of plastic. It's pretty cool, really.

Apparently, glass has been recycled for years, melting it down, making new bottles etc. But it's also used to make the glass squares for tile, decorations -- it can be made to look recycled or like new material.

So many things can be done with these products that we discard. For an interesting take on creativity, visit Popgloss. They have numerous photos of very creative ways of using materials, such as crocheted grocery bag shoes (left) or necklaces made with recycled bottles. All kinds of interesting items. Granted these are not regular recycled products but it does show what can be done if the desire is there.

The list is probably endless as to the new products created by the old discarded products. Just keep on recycling or better yet, try not to use products that create so much waste. Remember to Reuse whenever possible!