Think it can’t be recycled? Think again!

19 09 2012

If you are like most people, you probably know that you can recycle such things as milk jugs and glass jars. But you may be passing up on recycling things that you didn’t even realize could be recycled. Now is the time to take a look at what can be recycled that you may be sending to the landfill and see what you can do to help give these items a second life.
It’s estimated that every day in America the average adult generates around 4.5 pounds of waste, or garbage. Of that, they recycle just over 1 pound of it, sending the majority of it straight to the landfill, where it will be buried in the Earth for years, sometimes hundreds of them, to come. Every effort you make now to recycle is a step in the right direction.
Here are 3 things that you can recycle that you probably didn’t even realize you could:

1. Foil. Only a small percentage of aluminum foil is recycled each year, simply because many people don’t realize that it can be recycled. Whatever foil you use for cooking, such as covering items, or even foil pie tins and cooking trays, can be put right into your recycle bin after rinsing any food off of them.
2. Cartons. If you purchase juice in a carton, or even shelf-stable milk products, you may have been tossing the empty cartons into the trash. These can be added right into your recycling bin, as they are made from paperboard.
3. Unwanted mail. It’s estimated that the average person gets around 41 pounds of junk mail each year. Rather than toss all that paper into the trash, toss it right into your recycling bin. Better yet, try to get taken off some of the mailing lists you no longer want to be on.
You would be surprised at how many things actually can be put into your recycling bin. If you are unsure if something can be recycled, call your local recycling center and ask them. They will be more than happy to confirm for you one way or another!

Recycle Your Cartons!

15 09 2011

Here’s an update from the Environmental News Network about carton recycling, one of the newest recycling movements in the US:

Cartons are recyclable! Made mainly from paper, cartons are in demand to be recycled into new paper products.

The Carton Council is committed to increasing carton recycling in the United States. By promoting both recycling technology and local collection programs they work to limit the number of valuable cartons that end up in a landfill.

The Carton Council, formed by four of the country’s leading carton manufacturers—Elopak, Evergreen Packaging, SIG Combibloc and Tetra Pak, is specifically committed to increasing carton recycling in the United States. Made mainly from paper, a renewable resource from responsibly managed forests, cartons are recyclable. By promoting both recycling technology and local collection programs, the Carton Council is planning to limit the amount of cartons that end up in a landfill.

The implementation of carton recycling in Dallas is the latest example of a national trend.  In 2008, only 18 percent of U.S. households had access to carton recycling programs.  Today, this number has nearly doubled to almost 36%, with cities in over 40 states representing approximately 40 million households now accepting cartons in their curbside collection programs.  Dallas increases these numbers by an additional 235,000 households, and is setting the bar for other cities in the state of Texas to follow suit.  Dallas also joins a growing number of cities across the country such as Los Angeles, New York, and Boston that have expanded their recycling programs to include cartons.

Last year, the City of Dallas recycled more than 50,000 tons of materials and is on track to recycle nearly 65,000 tons this year.  Carton recycling will help the city toward their 31% diversion goal for the year.  By increasing their recycling rate and coming up with innovative ways to increase waste diversion, the city saved $1,185,260.21 of landfill space.

For further information:

Even if you don’t live in an area that is offering carton recycling, you can encourage your local community to ask for this program to be implemented! Let local officials know that you’re interested in the latest advances in protecting the environment!

The 9/11 Memorial & The Environment

11 09 2011

On the tenth anniversary of September 11th, the memorial site has been unveiled to the public. Not only is the memorial space beautiful and tastefully designed, it is environmentally friendly as well.

From Treehugger:

From a green roof to locally harvested trees, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum opens on the 10th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center with a dedication and much media coverage of every angle, including Steven Spielberg’s The Rising: Rebuilding Ground Zero. Despite delays, this moving site centers on two dramatic waterfalls and reflecting pools in the footprints of the Twin Towers as the focus on the 16-acre site for contemplation and the commemoration of 9/11. The sustainable features in the design were intended to be viewed as a sign of hope.

The water-conserving irrigation system includes stormwater capture in underground storage tanks to saves energy and resources. A suspended paving system supports the trees with soil-filled troughs and pavement for walking. The space is seeking LEED Gold certification. The plaza also meets the environment-conscious practices required by New York State Executive Order 11 and the WTC Sustainable Design Guidelines.

In addition, one new structure at the World Trade Center site that has replaced a fallen building, features a sophisticated system that generates off-peak electricity and composts paper waste.

- Roberta Cruger, Treehugger: A Discovery Company


Want to see a Supernova?

8 09 2011


Image via The Huffington Post

For those of you who love star-gazing, this piece of news will provide some excitement!

From The Huffington Post‘s Green section:

Last month, scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California discovered what they think could be the youngest — and closest — supernova in decades, leading UC Berkeley’s Joshua Bloom to call it “the supernova of a generation.”

The supernova, which is essentially an exploding star, has been named PTF 11kly. And even though it exploded in the Big Dipper, 21 million light-years away in the Pinwheel Galaxy, you might just get to see it over the next few weeks.

The Huffington Post spoke to Peter Nugent, a senior scientist at the Berkeley Lab who was the first to discover the supernova, who gave us some tips about how best to view the supernova.

- , The Huffington Post

If you’re interested in catching this before its gone, head over to the original article for some great tips on the best equipment, times, and location to view PTF 11kly!

Do you frequently take a look up into the night sky? What are some of your favorite constellations?

The Petermann Glacier

4 09 2011

Petermann Glacier After the Break

A true sign of the precarious environmental times we live in comes in the form of the Petermann Glacier, which lost a very large chunk last year and stands to lose more in the near future. If anyone ever needed proof of the damage that has been done (and is still being done) to our planet, this is a perfect example.

The Huffington Post‘s Green section reports:

When a 100 square mile chunk — an area four times the size of Manhattan — broke off Greenland’s Petermann Glacier in the summer of 2010, scientists knew that it was a historic event. After all, it was the largest known calving in Greenland’s history, and the largest to occur in the Arctic in nearly 50 years.

Over the last year, scientists have only been able to view the extent of the breakup via satellite imagery. Until now.

Photographs taken in July and released on Wednesday offer a new perspective on the August 2010 break, showing before and after images of different areas of Petermann Glacier.

“Although I knew what to expect in terms of ice loss from satellite imagery, I was still completely unprepared for the gob-smacking scale of the breakup, which rendered me speechless,” Alan Hubbard, the scientist from Aberystwyth University in Wales who took the most recent photograph, said in a statement.

And we can expect more. Hubbard told that another sheet, about half the size of the 2010 chunk, is poised to break away.

Jason Box, a scientist with the Byrd Polar Research Center at The Ohio State University and photographer of the 2009 image, told HuffPost that the summer of 2010 was Greenland’s warmest on record, and records have been kept since 1873.

“We’re bearing witness to abrupt climate change,” Box told HuffPost. “This isn’t of in the future. It’s very much now.”

, The Huffington Post

Unfortunately, at this point it seems there is not a great deal that can be done to change the course of this glacier’s future. The damage is there, but we need to look forward to the future and what we can do to prevent more incidents like this.

Technology News: Can Your Smartphone Help the Environment?

1 09 2011

Smartphones have become a universally necessary product for most people. People who love their phones seemingly cannot part with them for even a moment! Now, when speaking about technology and electronic devices, many people probably don’t see that cell phones could be assisting the environment in any way. However, a new study has shown that there are ways these products can help us manage our energy resources.

A recent article from the Environmental News Network reports:

In July, at the Association for Computing Machinery’s MobiSys conference, researchers from MIT and Princeton University took the best-paper award for a system that uses a network of smartphones mounted on car dashboards to collect information about traffic signals and tell drivers when slowing down could help them avoid waiting at lights. By reducing the need to idle and accelerate from a standstill, the system saves gas: In tests conducted in Cambridge, Mass., it helped drivers cut fuel consumption by 20 percent. Cars are responsible for 28 percent of the energy consumption and 32 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, says Emmanouil Koukoumidis, a visiting researcher at MIT who led the project. “If you can save even a small percentage of that, then you can have a large effect on the energy that the U.S. consumes,” Koukoumidis says.

Who knew that our phones could also help promote greener living? Very exciting stuff.

Can you think of any additional ways that smartphones (or other popular electronic devices) could help the environment? Are there any Apps available that you’d recommend for others interested in green living?

Crazy Weather Week for the East Coast

28 08 2011

Image via The New Yorker

Between earthquakes, tornado warnings, and a hurricane-turned-tropical storm, the US’s east coast has had a tough week in weather. A common question associated with major weather events is whether or not they are caused, or exacerbated, by global warming.

Take a look at this excerpt from The New Yorker for a preliminary answer:

Are more events like Irene what you would expect in a warming world? Here the answer is a straightforward “yes.” In fact, experts have been warning for years that New York will become increasingly vulnerable to storm surges and flooding as the planet heats up. In 2009, the New York City Panel on Climate Change, appointed by Mayor Bloomberg, concluded that, as a result of global warming, “more frequent and enhanced coastal flooding” was “very likely” and that “shortened 100-year flood recurrence period” was also “very likely.” Much of the problem simply has to do with sea levels—as these rise, any storm or storm surge becomes more dangerous. Marcus Bowman, an oceanography professor at Stony Brook University, has warned that the city could one day have “flood days,” the way it now has snow days.

Meanwhile, rising temperatures make other risks worse as well. Warm air holds more moisture, so as temperatures rise there is more water available to the system. And warmer ocean temperatures mean there is more energy available to fuel severe storms like Irene. As Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, in Boulder, explained recently on the blog Climate Progress, “Owing to higher SSTs [sea surface temperatures] from human activities, the increased water vapor in the atmosphere leads to 5 to 10% more rainfall and increases the risk of flooding.” Also, “because water vapor and higher ocean temperatures help fuel the storm, it is likely to be more intense and bigger as well.”

When we add all of these risk factors together, we can say with a great deal of confidence that in the future, there will be more and more events like Irene. We can comfort ourselves by saying that this particular storm was not necessarily caused by global warming. Or we can acknowledge the truth, which is that we are making the world a more dangerous place and, what’s more, that we know it.

- , The New Yorker

We hope you all had a safe and happy weekend, with or without these weather occurrences!

Environmental News: ‘The Efficiency Opportunity Roadmap’

25 08 2011
The Efficiency Opportunity Roadmap

The Efficiency Opportunity Roadmap

Most people don’t instantly associate technology and computers with ‘green living.’ However, these electronic devices are an incredibly integral part of most people’s lives… making them more energy efficient is an important development.

Microsoft has begun development on making the pieces that go into our technology more environmentally-friendly. Take a look at the excerpt from the article below, as well as the following video, to learn more about how major companies will be developing green technology in the coming years.

Starting at the Silicon level, certain components, such as “green” RAM and disk drives, can use less power at normal operational loads through lower voltage or other low power designs (e.g., solid-state drives instead of hard disk drives). Additionally, certain components, such as the CPU and hard disk drives, can dynamically lower their power needs when less busy or idle, typically in conjunction with the operating system.

The operating system can employ some very sophisticated power management capabilities. By monitoring system operation, it can understand and respond to usage patterns, thereby allowing the hardware reduce its energy use.

As we have shown previously, applications can help reduce energy consumption in a number of ways. If they are designed to work well with power management, by providing utilization information back to the OS and having the ability to respond to  variable system availability, they can ensure that servers and PCs are able to save energy when idle and that user productivity is not affected by displays or systems powering off when critical tasks are running. Server applications that are designed to use IT resources dynamically and be tolerant to sudden equipment failure can dramatically improve server utilization by reducing the number of servers or virtual machines assigned to a given application. Finally, applications should be able to suspend or postpone noncritical operations when resources (IT resources or electric power) are constrained.

- Microsoft, The Triple Pundit

Fair Promotes Green Living for Everyone

21 08 2011

We love hearing about local communities finding interesting and fun ways to get people excited about green living. What better way to accomplish this task than with a “green” country fair?

A community in London has done just that:

An event to promote practical, cost-effective ideas for green living will be run in a south-east London park next month.

Brockwell Park in Herne Hill will be home to the Urban Green Fair for a fifth year on Sunday, September 4.

The free event will offer more than 40 speakers, films, poets, workshops, children’s activities, food stalls and BMX races.

Organisers plan to use only solar and wind energy to power the day, which will give it one of the lowest carbon footprints of any festival in the country.

The event is being run by the Urban Green Fair Community Interest Company (CIC) which is dedicated to positive change on global and local levels.

Fair director Shane Collins said: “As well as being a fun day out, whatever your age, the Urban Green Fair is a chance to learn about the changes coming to our society and how best to navigate them together.

He said the fair aimed to educate the public on green initiatives and to stimulate support through shared knowledge.

- The Press Association

What kinds of environmentally-friendly events does your community hold? Have you ever been to a green fair? If you’re active in your hometown, think about suggesting an event like this for your annual country fair or Earth Day celebrations. While it obviously makes for an educational event, it also promotes the idea that a green lifestyle is fun!

An Exciting New Discovery for Solar Energy

18 08 2011

Image via NASA

Great strides for solar energy have been made in recent months, and it is exciting to follow the story as it develops. Each discovery is another step towards making greener living simpler and more affordable.

Researchers at the University of Michigan have made a scientific discovery that  is intriguing all on its own but it is the breakthrough’s potential applications in solar power generation that have them excited. According to Stephen Rand, a professor at the university and author of the paper that discusses his team’s discovery in the “Journal of Applied Physics”, the researchers found a way to make an “optical battery” which harnesses the magnetic attributes in light that, until now, scientists didn’t think amounted to much of anything.

The report explains that  light has both electric and magnetic components but, until now, scientists believed the magnetic field effects were weak enough that they could be ignored. Rand and his fellow researchers, however,  found that at the right intensity, when light is traveling through a material that does not conduct electricity, the light field can generate magnetic effects that are 100 million times stronger than thought possible. Under these circumstances, says Rand, the magnetic fields become similar in strength to a strong electric effect.

William Fisher, a doctoral student in applied physics, says that what makes this possible is “a previously undetected brand of “optical rectification.”  In traditional optical rectification, light’s electric field causes positive and negative charges to be pulled apart in a material. That sets up voltage, similar to battery. Before, this effect had only been observed in crystalline materials that possessed a certain symmetry. This process works with materials such as glass, but presently requires light that surpasses the sun’s natural intensity Fisher indicated they were working on finding materials that would at lower light intensity.

The research team believes that this discovery could lead to a solar cell that requires no semi-conductor. Since semi-conductors constitute a bulk of a solar cell’s processing, eliminating it represents an opportunity for a considerable reduction in costs. Fisher notes that a solar cell using this new energy harvesting technique would only require lenses to focus the light and fiber to carry it. “Glass works for both,” said Fisher,  ”it’s already made in bulk, and it doesn’t require as much processing. Transparent ceramics might be even better.”

- Caleb Denison, Earth Techling

Fantastic findings!

At Green Printer, we strive to keep up with all of the latest news in environmental preservation and technology. Is there a recent study or article about green living that grabbed your attention? Are you working in your local community to create environmental change? We’d love to hear from you in the comments! You might even find yourself or your findings featured in our weekly blog posts!