Category Archives: Pollution & Landfills

Harvesting the Biosphere

“Harvesting the Biosphere is still the most fundamental economic activity of modern civilization. Crops for food, crops for animals, wood, raw materials, wool, cotton… without these things there is no civilization.”

How much life is there in the biosphere? By “biosphere,” he means everywhere on earth where there are living things: in the air, on the ground, and in the oceans. …Ultimately he concludes that the dry mass of all living things on Earth is about 1.6 trillion metric tons.

 

To read a book review written by Bill Gates and watch a little video from the author, visit: http://www.thegatesnotes.com/Books/Energy/Harvesting-The-Biosphere

Mushrooms to Clean Up Toxic Waste

“Most Americans think of mushrooms as ingredients in soup or intruders on a well-tended lawn. Stamets, however, cherishes a grander vision, one trumpeted in the subtitle of his 2005 book, Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World.

Mushroom-producing fungi, he believes, can serve as game changers in fields as disparate as medicine, forestry, pesticides and pollution control. He has spent the past quarter-century preaching that gospel to anyone who will listen.”

Mushrooms

 

For the full story about how mushrooms can bio-remediate and more, plus about the pioneer Paul Stamets who is pushing the science and vision forward, visit: http://discovermagazine.com/2013/julyaug/13-mushrooms-clean-up-oil-spills-nuclear-meltdowns-and-human-health#.UegvF2TF1TQ

 

Also, here is a video of Stamets explaining how mushrooms breakdown fuel, pesticides, plastics, and other chemicals, all naturally:

World’s Most Aerodynamic and Efficient Production Car

Volkswagen: VW XL1 Headed for Production at 261 MPG
A bit more than 10 years after the first prototype was shown, the Volkswagen XL1 is now officially on its way to the marketplace as the most efficient production car in the industry and the most aerodynamic production car ever. The tale of the tape: A nifty 261 mpg combined in the European testing cycle and a coefficient of drag of just 0.189—to put that into perspective, the 2013 Toyota Prius manages a Cd of 0.29 and the notably slippery 2013 Tesla Model S comes in at 0.24.

Source: http://www.autobytel.com/volkswagen/news/volkswagen-vw-xl1-headed-for-production-at-261-mpg-115560/

Artist Spotlight: Debby Arem of Debby Arem Designs

Debby Arem creates the most eclectic pieces out of none other than old circuit boards for her company Debby Arem Designs in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Reclaiming these pieces saves so much plastic from being placed in landfills and repurposing them into such fun Geekery has given the unique items a very well deserved second life. Debby enjoys her niche market and does very well creating everything from home goods to jewelry; even cufflinks for men! She loves the environmental impact her work has as well and had fun sharing her thoughts on all things eco friendly.


Can you tell us a little about what it is you do?

For close to 16 years, I’ve been committed to recycling circuit boards into useful and functional as well as decorative products. I design a line of jewelry (pins, earrings and men’s cufflinks) as well as clocks, picture frames, sun catchers and light switch plates all using recycled circuit boards as the main component. My husband works with me and we also make a line of green office products such as clipboards of all sizes (including magnetic ones), bookmarks and key chains. New products are constantly being brain stormed and added to the line such as our most recent merchant clipboard for credit cards which also doubles as a coupon holder to be used in the kitchen! We also recently introduced eyeglass or badge holders that are made out of recycled circuit boards, anodized aluminum and colored wire.

What was the motivation behind the creation of Three Ring Circuits (3RC)?

Back in 1990, my husband had a company that assembled PC’s. One day I was in the back room where these computers were being assembled and I saw a circuit board for the first time in my life. Being an artist, I was fascinated by all the gorgeous patterns of circuitry and I remember that I immediately thought “WOW, what great jewelry you could make from these things!” I was a bead artist at the time, creating designs for the Smithsonian’s museum shops and mail order catalogs as well as doing quite a bit of custom work for my own customers. But having worked with beads for about 12 years by then, I was excited at the prospect of having a new medium to work with!

Oddly enough, we had a neighbor who had a company which manufactured circuit boards. Any boards which were found to be defective had to be hauled away and destroyed by being burned or dumped in a landfill. We stepped in and acquired these circuit boards and after a lot of trial and error, found a way to cut them into interesting shapes to be used for my jewelry line.

There were also circuit boards which were prototypes and made in limited quantities to verify functionality. After two years, our neighbor’s manufacturing company was no longer obliged to keep these prototypes so once again, we were able to rescue these boards from being destroyed. The huge variety in size and color of these prototype boards fired our imagination and got us thinking about many different products that could be made from them. My husband came up with the idea for the green office products line when we realized there were so many other uses for these discarded circuit boards besides my jewelry line. Around this time, I also began designing clocks, picture frames and then light switch plates as well as Three Ring Circuits line began to really expand.

Are people surprised to learn what your items are made out of? What is their reaction?

People usually do a double take when they realize that my jewelry is made from recycled circuit boards or that the clipboard they are holding was intended to be a motherboard when manufactured. When I first began creating my recycled circuit board jewelry line in 1992 (Three Ring Circuits) people weren’t as aware as they are today of the need to recycle – we really were ahead of our time in that respect and always joke that finally the world caught up to us in terms of salvaging circuit boards (or other found objects) and repurposing them into other new and useful items. What was once met with skeptical looks and indifference, is now applauded as a great way to recycle circuit boards into new products and everyone I meet thinks it’s terrific what we do with these otherwise useless circuit boards.

Where do you acquire the pieces that go into each design?

In addition to the enormous amount of circuit boards that we acquired back in the early 1990’s, we continue to find new sources all over the United States and even Taiwan believe it or not ,who are happy to see their boards repurposed in imaginative ways. As far as my jewelry line and other decorative objects such as my clocks and picture frames, I am always searching for vintage components. I’ve also done my fair share of dumpster diving at scrap metal facilities where I’ve found all sorts of wonderful metal pieces. The phrase “What’s one man’s trash is another’s treasure” is the essence of our business!

Why is it important to you to use salvaged pieces in your designs?

The concept of our business has always been recycling and repurposing of what would otherwise be scrap material. Salvage literally means “saving” and so the word itself defines what we are all about! To be able to create art from what would otherwise become trash, just makes me feel good – not only in a creative way but in helping to promote a green way of living.
What inspires you as an artist?

I have always had the ability to see art and utility in what others might consider junk. Again, back in the early 1990’s, people didn’t quite get it when I would get all excited when we acquired a new batch of otherwise useless circuit boards. And all these circuit boards that we use weren’t just destined to be used in computers – some were to be used in radar equipment, some for telephone switches – just about anything electronic. When others were discovering old buttons and watch pieces as items to be used in art, I was seeing the potential in electronic products such as diodes, transistors, and resistors. Anything was fair game! And again for me, there’s almost nothing that matches the rush of finding a new source for scrap metal, circuit boards, or electrical components or coming up with a new product that I can make from these discarded circuit boards!

What is the creative process behind your art? How does an idea take shape?

Everything usually starts when I see a circuit board with an interesting pattern or color. Many times the size and shape may determine what the product will ultimately become. Other times, I have a new product in mind, and then I begin my search in my studio to find recycled items that will help me create this final product. My palette may consist of vintage jewelry pieces, electronic components, brass stampings, anodized aluminum, vintage beads and colored wire. Then it’s just a matter of sitting down and designing. If I know I want to make a pin that resembles an animal or insect, I will look through all my various metal stampings to find pieces that will help create this image which will then be mounted on a recycled circuit board to create what many call mini collages.

How long have you been selling your art?

I have actually been selling my art since I was 15 years old and made earrings from beads and wire!

After graduating from college with a degree in Fine Arts, I was fortunate enough to have a number of positions within the Smithsonian Institution such as an exhibits specialist and then the matter/framer at the National Gallery of Art. I’ve always found it ironic, that many years later, I was back at the Smithsonian but as a vendor – selling my Three Ring Circuits line to the Air and Space Museums’ gift shop! During this same time period, I also sold my beaded jewelry line (which goes by the name of Beadles and uses vintage beads from the 1950’s – 1980’s) through the various Smithsonian museum shops and their mail order catalog. So I guess you could say I’ve been selling my art for a long time – but professionally for over 25 years.

Do you remember the feeling of your first sale? How has that feeling changed after selling so many items?

It’s always gratifying when someone appreciates my work so from that point of view, every sale is exciting. I do vividly remember my first sale when I was 15 years old and sold a number of my earrings to a gallery in Provincetown, Mass on Cape Cod. I remember the thrill of marching into that shop and leaving with cash in my hand and a look of shock on my face! It was the first time I realized that I could create a piece of art that someone would want to buy other than a family member!

Now I think it’s almost more about seeing the look on someone’s face when they realize that I am using circuit boards in my work and of course it’s wonderful to realize that my work has caught on and so many people appreciate it .

What does the Green Movement mean to you?

It means never throwing anything away that could potentially be used for something else! And unfortunately, my studio attests to this with boxes of circuit boards waiting to be turned into something new, bins of brass stampings, boxes of vintage beads and cabochons, containers of electrical components and reels of colored wire just about everywhere you look. It’s also exciting to know that being green is now a movement which means that many people are concerned about preserving our natural environment. Our society used to be referred to as a throw-away society and to know that people are working hard to change this image and way of living is extremely gratifying to both myself and my husband.

When did you first become interested in living and working green?

The Green Movement is something that has been a part of our lives since the early 1990’s. When I saw my first circuit board and learned that so many of them were discarded I think was the pivotal moment when I realized that I could make use of these beautiful hi tech items and turn them into something other than their original intent . I realized that there was SO much trash being dumped in landfills that need not be and we made it our business to do our own part not to contribute to this disaster but recycling whatever we could at the time.


What inspires you to take care of our planet?

The thought that if we don’t, future generations are going to inherit a world that has even more air and water pollution than we have now. How can you live with yourself if you don’t?!

Has any one green practice become second nature, something you personally do every day?

Every time I go food shopping, I bring my own bags to carry my groceries home in rather then keep on bringing home more and more plastic! And we try to remember if we’re going out to eat in a restaurant, to bring our own containers to bring home any leftovers rather than bring home a Styrofoam container.

What green practice do you recommend readers try?

My husband and I recycle all our packaging materials. We re-use padded envelopes and tissue paper. I have also approached a large local department store that sells a lot of breakable objects and they are happy to let me dumpster dive to recycle all the bubble wrap they get in on a daily basis. It gets me sick to see how many POUNDS of this stuff are thrown out each day by this one store. So I highly encourage any artist that ships their art, to try to use as much recycled packing material as they can and to seriously consider asking a local store if they can have their bubble wrap! For years I’ve also saved all wrapping paper from presents so I could re-use it -which I used to get a hard time about from my family but now I think they all see I wasn’t so crazy and I was recycling before it was even called that!

Is there an eco-friendly product you use that you would recommend?

We use energy saving light bulbs and whenever possible, I try to use natural cleaning products like vinegar or baking soda.

As an independent artist what is your greatest challenge?

Actually my greatest challenge, believe it or not, is putting restrictions on myself not to work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week! I’m always trying to come up with new products and I spend countless hours each week promoting my work online, so to put limits on how many hours I’m going to devote to my business each day is hard for me and something I’m working on.

What has been your greatest success to date?

I have sold my work in many galleries in the U.S., Canada and even Europe, but I think that my greatest success to date has been selling my work in the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum shop. Having people from all over the world come to that museum and see my work is a wonderful feeling!


What is your advice to a fellow artisan who is new to their industry?

Let your imagination run wild! I think the worst thing that an artist can do is to put restrictions on their creativity. Don’t be afraid to try something new because you never know if it’s going to work if you don’t try it.

I also know that as far as marketing is concerned, you need to get your name out there. I started out doing craft shows back in the early 1980’s and from there I branched out to selling my work in upscale department stores, art galleries and then mail order catalogs. Of course when I first began, there was no such thing as the internet but now with so many online boutiques I think that networking is of the utmost importance and contacting people and asking them to take a look at your work in hopes that they might want to carry it is necessary if you want to have a successful business and an online presence.

Do you have an online presence where your work can be viewed?

I actually have three online presences. I sell my Three Ring Circuits line on my own website where you will find my jewelry items and green office products.

I always ask though that people contact me first before placing an order as many of my items are one of a kind or may be out of stock.

I also sell my work in my Etsy shop where I sell not only what I sell on my own website, but more of the one of a kind items such as my clocks, picture frames, light switch plates, sun catchers, and eyeglass or badge holders.
I [also] sell in my DaWanda shop

Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com

FDA Declares Chemical Levels from Plastic Bottles SAfe

FDA Declares Chemical Levels from Plastic Bottles Safe

The Food and Drug Administration recently declared bisphenol A levels resulting from using plastic bottles are no threat to human health.

 

“It’s ironic FDA would choose to ignore dozens of studies funded by (the National Institutes of Health) — this country’s best scientists — and instead rely on flawed studies from industry,” said Pete Myers, chief scientist for Environmental Health Sciences.

However, the American Chemistry Council, an industry lobby group, was pleased. “FDA is the government agency we rely upon to assess food-contact products. They’ve assessed this issue in great detail and their conclusion is very reassuring,” said Steve Hentges, an executive director with the council.

You want news today that will reassure you on bisphenol-A?

Or do you prefer to point the finger at it?

Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com

EcoHangers

EcoHangers business motto is “a better environment for your brand.” So, what exactly is EcoHangers? It’s a new kind of marketing company which happened to find a rare green niche in the use of hangers. An estimated 30% of adult focused advertising is turned into waste and often overlooked. They discovered a more eco-friendly solution by creating the Hanger Network which gives customized programs specifically made to endorse a company’s brand with less waste than other media sources. Supplying their hangers to major dry cleaners and hotels across the nation they can easily get a business’s message out to a targeted demographic.

EcoHangers Media is as beneficial for your business as they are for the environment. Sending more than 50 million circulation hangers per week promoting specials and various advertisements to consumers who are more likely to buy. A hanger with a slogan or picture advertisement can be directed to your core customer demographic and targeted towards either sex. Each EcoHanger is produced from 100% recycled paper material. No trees are used in the process of manufacturing EcoHangers. The company’s success has caused a demand for recycled paper aiding recyclers to create incentives to gather more consumer paper waste. This assists in replacing 3.5 billion wire hangers that turn up in American landfills regularly. The average unattractive and inexpensive wire hangers originate from foreign factories that are not under EPA guidelines like the EcoHangers Media plants. All of their plants abide by OSHA & EPA carbon emission standards along with crucial wastewater discharge standards. Unlike other placement advertisements EcoHangers possess a 100% view rate, various impressions, and presentable Ads that remains for months visible.

These ingenious hangers can be used as an in-home marketing tool as well. Lasting up to 8 week in the home giving them incredible marketing power. The Ecohanger program ensures every business that they produce serviceable and efficient marketing gains for their brand while supporting the environment. The company also endorses American Manufacturing jobs across the nation. Each hanger is made to be thick enough to hold and as long-lasting as traditional wire hangers. Constructed with their patented four color printing process and aqueous coating illustrated on custom recipe of moister resistant EcoPlyBoard they are quite impressive.

The typical demographic targeted for EcoHangers are males with high disposable incomes, head of households, decision makers, upwardly mobile, controlling family spending patterns, and men involved with personal and home fashion. They are in the age bracket of 21-49 with an estimated household income of $65,000 or more yearly. The women targeted for EcoHangers control personal and family purchases and are in the age range of 25-49. These women are generally into fashion, quality, and appreciate innovative products that can improve their lives.

EcoHanger has a detailed delivery program to satisfy any business or marketing need. They can deliver a brand message across the country or to one specific location. They have 305,000 retail locations. The retailer support channel program aids vendors in transporting their product faster with partners. They focus on an array of industries including apparel, automotive, mass merchandiser, home furnishing, supermarkets, and family restaurants. EcoHanger is an effective marketing company and the nation’s largest recycled paper producer.

Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com

Eliminate Junk Mail & Save The Environment

Junk mail invades our lives almost daily. Various company advertisements, credit card offers, and internet connection promotional disks appear in our mailboxes on a regular basis. Most of us automatically toss unwanted mail away without even opening it. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency only an estimated 36% of direct mailings are recycled. Over 100 million trees are wasted as junk mail arriving in U.S. mail boxes across the country. Tons of direct mailings wind-up in garbage dumps each year. The process of generating and the removal of unwanted mail consumes massive amounts of energy. Eliminating junk mail can save the trees, prevent the wasting of other valuable resources, and aid in the reduction of Co2 and dioxin emissions.

There is a website called the New American Dream which is dedicated in helping individuals declare their independence from junk mail. A new bill has been proposed in 14 states as a solution to the unwanted mail situation. It consists of the “Do Not Junk” registry offering consumers the choice to opt out of ad mail. The website provides information for individuals to locate their state’s status on the bill. It also has pre-written letters to congress that you can print or fill out on the website to help urge state legislators, governors, and local lawmakers to support the campaign. A really helpful feature on the New American Dream website are the on-line registration forms that you can fill out instantly to declare your independence from junk mail. It’s simple and only takes several minutes of your time. You can read insightful posts about what other people are doing in their communities for the cause. They have forums where you can exchange your ideas and share your views with others. New American Dream has a handy how-to guide available online for readers to learn ways to stay junk mail free. It gives consumers details on how to sign up for mail preference service, tips to avoid receiving unwanted catalogs, and numerous links to declare your independence on junk mail. There are lists of environmentally conscious companies that do not send out annoying and wasteful direct marketing mail.

The New American Dream organization has joined forces with Forest Ethics and several other groups to work with five of the largest catalog companies in the U.S. Their efforts will be directed in greening the companies catalog production methods. Saving businesses money and reducing waste. New Dream also urges individuals to send letters to companies that you regularly purchase from to start greening their catalogs as well. Using recycled materials and sending out less direct mail solicitation are key in greening promotional techniques. They believe consumers have the power to change the way goods and services are marketed. As a consumer responding more to green driven marketing will re-direct the methods businesses employ to gain your attention.

Their goal is to give individuals, governments, and businesses methods which assist in the elimination of junk mail and saving the environment.You can find tips, register for the opt-out of junk mail campaign, join their organization, or give someone a gift membership at the New American Dream website.

Declare your independence from junk mail by visiting New Dream today!

Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com

The Plastic Water Bottle Crisis and How You Can Help

Millions of Americans enjoy the convenience of drinking bottled water daily. Unfortunately, this convenience has turned into a massive waste which is destroying our planet’s ecosystems. Plastic water bottles are overflowing landfills, polluting the streams, rivers and oceans, altering the environment in which we live. Over 60 million plastic bottles wind up in garbage dumps across the country every single day, making an alarming 86% of all produced plastic bottles never recycled. One plastic water bottle takes 700 to 1,000 years to biologically degrade, earning it the status of Toxic Waste. This type of waste is rapidly growing as millions of health-conscious Americans are consuming more and more bottled water.

Countless environmentalists and social activists across the country have started a war against the thriving bottled water industry, which threatens natural wetlands and ways of life. Most of those bottled waters are costly and not as pure as manufacturers claim. The average American spends $1,400 a year drinking bottled water, the majority of which has no significant nutritional advantage over tap water. Environmentalists believe phthalates, or chemical plasticizers, can leach out of certain grades of plastic bottles into the water. Light regulations that bottled water-makers have to abide by thus increases the chances of contamination. Further more, transportation and distribution of bottled water requires consuming 1.5 million barrels of oil and massive amounts of energy. Therefore ecological groups are asking all Americans to cut back or eliminate bottled water usage for the sake of the environment. These groups urge everyone to try and help fight the current plastic water bottle crisis in any way they can.

Investing in a home water-purification system and reusable water bottles are excellent alternative solutions to stop the plastic water bottle crisis. The amount of money and of Earth’s natural resources saved by using these eco-friendly alternatives makes it worth the effort. Many health-conscious families already own a water-purification system in their home. By simply investing in a reusable bottle made out of safe non-toxic materials and filling it up with water from your home, anyone can do their part to help the environment.

Purchasing a reusable water bottle made out of aluminum, stainless steel, or polypropylene are all safer alternatives to plastic bottles. Eco-conscious companies have already begun manufacturing such reusable water bottles to help improve health conditions, hydration, and environmental responsibility. Products made out of these environment-friendly materials are offered through several major distributors. They can be purchased either online or at certain health-conscious stores. These types of reusable bottles can be easily cleaned and maintained.

The most popular reusable water bottle is the Sigg bottle. Sigg is a Switzerland-based manufacturing company operating since 1908 that makes the highest grade of aluminum reusable water bottles in the world. The Sigg bottles are popular due to their stunning craftsmanship and custom designs. Each environment-friendly bottle is painted with a colorful scheme, and most of their bottles can last up to 20 years. The company can even apply custom artwork on a reusable bottle. Aside from using paint that is safe from toxins, The Sigg bottle is unique for an aluminum container with non-toxic polymer liner on the inside. Their reusable water bottles might thus be filled with any type of beverage. Sigg reusable water bottles can be purchased online at Amazon.com for around $20.

Another relatively new alternative solution to the current plastic water bottle crisis is Biota Spring Water. Biota bottles are produced from a 100% renewable resource, and created solely as a relief to the world’s plastic bottle crisis. The Biota Spring Water bottle is designed to decompose completely within 12 weeks as it is made of a corn-based form of PLA (Polylactic Acid) that will not degrade until the bottle is empty and rests at a specific temperature. Biota Spring Water is currently available at select natural foods and gourmets supermarkets in the U.S. Buying Biota Spring Water instead of regular brands of bottled water will help eliminate the hazardous waste that PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) water bottles are causing the environment. Biota Spring Water is a fabulous alternative, packaged in an eco-friendly bottle that will not harm the planet.

Whatever the alternative, make it a safe one: help fight the waste.


Smart Energy Technology: www.OrganicMechanic.com