Most people don’t think twice about trash once it hits the bin and gets hauled away to the landfill. The fact is that in the U.S. alone, approximately 250 million tons of trash enters the municipal waste system each year, according to 2010 statistics provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A large percentage of this trash is actually recyclable, reusable or shouldn’t actually be in the municipal waste system. The key is being smart about what you’re throwing away to make sure what makes it in the bin should actually be there.
Will.i.am discussing EKOCYCLE. Image courtesy of Greener Ideal Coca-Cola and rapper Will.i.am (of the Black-Eyed Peas) are partnering to launch a new line of products made from recycled materials. He recently flaunted some new Beats Audio headphones made from recycled materials reportedly costing $349 a pop.
Broken down Lunar Roving Vehicle at the Apollo 15 landing site The moon is home to about 400,000 lbs. of manmade junk left behind by lunar missions conducted over the past several decades. The list of junk is long, and it includes things like golf balls used by Alan Shepard (the second person in space), several flags (some still standing), several damaged spacecrafts and even astronaut toilets containing you-know-what.
A waste-to-energy plant in Germany. By Norbert Nagel (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons Waste-to-energy (WTE) facilities across the globe are expected to process more than 260 million tons of waste per year by 2022. If you recall, waste-to-energy facilities are modern landfills that are able to convert trash into energy. It’s a way to treat garbage as a renewable energy source, albeit not quite as "renewable" as wind or solar.
(2012) As the 2012 London Olympic Games gets underway, a flood of spectators are sure to fill the stadium seats. In fact, The Telegraph estimates about 11 million spectators will show up to the Olympic Games in London this summer. So, how does London plan on dealing with the huge increase in trash and waste production us wasteful humans generate wherever we go?
A new report sheds some light on the current state of recycling in the U.S. and the results are rather surprising. The report shows that $11.4 billion worth of recyclables enter U.S. landfills each year. This includes items like paper, cardboard, plastics and metal cans.
If you eat any type of seafood, you’re most likely also eating illegally dumped garbage. Trash dumped into the world’s oceans and other bodies of water is a huge problem that we’ve discussed here at the blog before. It’s hard to fully understand the scope of the problem, but the infographic below will help put things into perspective.
The world’s oceans are filled with human-generated pollution, particularly plastics – just read about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to get a general idea about the scope of the problem. Industrial designer Elie Ahovi says he has a solution to the problem. He, along with a team of designers, drew up a concept marine drone designed to capture garbage in the ocean without harming marine life.
A department store in the UK decorated an East London building with 10,000 pieces of clothing in an effort to raise awareness about the vast amount of clothing that ends up in landfills each year. Marks & Spencer calls it the “Schwopping Project”, a cross between shopping and swapping.
"Pyramids People" by HA Schult. Giza, Egypt, 2002. Recycling and reusing junk for alternative purposes, called upcycling, is a worldwide phenomenon. It’s probably the most creative way to reduce your impact on the environment. Upcycling not only keeps trash out of landfills, but it also yields beautiful art. Here are 14 examples of amazing structures made from trash, junk, garbage, waste, rubbish…whatever you want to call it.
Scott Sjolund of Brainerd's Public Utilities inspects a city sewer. Image via WBUR.org The small city of Brainerd, located about 128 miles northwest of Minneapolis, MN, will soon begin drawing geothermal energy straight from the sewer to heat and cool area homes and businesses. No, it won’t make your home smell like sewage, but it does have the potential to cut the cost of heating a home by as much as 50 percent. Seems like a win-win.
Photo courtesy of Mark Boster of The Los Angeles Times Think your job sucks? Try cleaning up five tons of garbage – including human waste and dead rats – from the streets of downtown Los Angeles’ Skid Row. That’s what some city workers had to endure recently after an L.A. County report cited multiple public health infractions in the area.
Whether you realize it or not, there’s a gold rush occurring as we speak. It doesn’t involve mining gold from the ground; it’s recovering the shiny stuff from e-waste. Electronics, such as computers and cellphones, contain gold and silver in relatively high concentrations. Recovering these precious metals is a worldwide revolution happening everywhere from the slums of under-developed countries to some of the biggest electronics manufacturers in the world.
Waste Farmers turns garbage into organic soil amendments and fertilizers. John-Paul Maxfield, the founder of Waste Farmers, began composting food scraps and yard waste in his garage and later expanded to a 6,000 sqft. “microbrewery” located in Denver, CO.
A Southern California company called Trash for Teaching, or T4T, is taking trash destined for the landfill and reusing it to teach kids about science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM. In California, STEM is a learning initiative designed to teach kids core learning objectives in the state’s biggest job sector. Approximately 75-percent of the jobs in California are STEM-related careers, according to Steve Stanton, the co-founder of T4T.