Project Kaisei seeks to solve the Plastic Vortex

the-plastic-vortex2-300x172Project Kaisei – a group of innovators, scientists, environmentalists, ocean lovers, sailors, and sports enthusiasts – have come together to find remedy to undo one of our most serious man-made environmental disasters – the ever-growing Plastic Vortex.

Their first mission -  to study ways to capture marine debris in the North Pacific Gyre and possible retrieval and processing techniques that could potentially be used to detoxify and recycle these materials into diesel fuel – is scheduled for this summer. They’ll begin with the largest area of the Vortex in the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone – northeast of Hawaii and the-plastic-vortex1approximately five days by boat from the San Francisco area. The team plans to collect plastic and other debris samples from the ocean to showcase new technologies that will be used for processing and recycling.

the-plastic-vortex1-150x104It’s estimated that over 60% of the plastic and other wastes (including rubber and aluminum) in the ocean come from land-based sources. And, from all accounts, this environmental nightmare is growing exponentially, posing an enormous threat to marine life.

Recognized by the United Nations Environment Program, Project Kaisei was recently selected as one of less than ten global Climate Heroes leading up to climate change talks in Copenhagen this December.

Changes are Coming!

Deb's New PictureFor those of you who read my blog posts, I thank you. We writers LOVE our readers – you’re why we do what we do.

BUT …  be prepared for changes.

Envirothink is moving.  Yes, I’ll still be posting on a regular basis. But from now on, Envirothink will be found at www.envirothink.greenpress.com.

GreenPress is a growing collection of green / eco-minded writers / bloggers. It’s an excellent resource for one-stop viewing – a variety of eco-bloggers all in one location.

So, starting June 30th, come on over to Envirothink’s new home – www.envirothink.greenpress.com and check us out! And, as I always say, tell your friends and colleagues about us AND keep coming back for more!

Boston to (finally) begin curbside recycling

Recycling logoBoston – known for baseball, the Freedom Trail and Quincy Marketplace – is finally stepping up into the green movement. As of July 1st, they’ll begin residential curbside recycling, something that the majority of both large metropolitan areas and smaller towns across the country have been doing for years.

Boston will deliver more than 55,000 64-gallon carts to single-family homes and 6-unit-or-less apartments over the next year. The city expects that using the single-stream recycling system will save the city $1 million per year in waste disposal costs. It costs the city $40 less per ton to recycle than to send it to a landfill or incinerator, according to city officials.

With such an anticipated savings, you’d think city officials in Bean town would have jumped on the green bandwagon a long time ago. But better late than never.

US Government considering bulldozing 50 cities to create green space

Urban sprawl to be bulldozedUrban sprawl reached its zenith in the ’90′s. But with today’s recession and roller coaster gas prices, sprawl has often turned to blight from dwindling populations and bankrupted businesses.

The Obama administration is reportedly considering plans to raze sections of 50 economically depressed US cities, condensing these both the towns and city services. Dubbed “shrink to survive, this program could turn bulldozed districts into forests, meadows and parks.

Decreasing population and recession may mean bulldozing neighborhoods

Decreasing population and recession may mean bulldozing neighborhoods

A proposal currently underway in Flint, Michigan would serve as the model for such a venture. Originally the home of General Motors,  Flint now suffers from a higher-than-average unemployment rate (about 20 percent) and a rapidly dwindling population. Local politicians claim the city must reduce as much as 40 percent to avoid bankruptcy. Genesee County treasurer Dan Kildee was reportedly approached by the Obama administration to look into other areas of the country that would  benefit from a similar size reduction.

The Brookings Institution - a nonprofit public policy organization -  has identified 50 cities that would be likely candidates for such a “shrinkage”. Surprisingly these include metropolises like Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Memphis, and other former industrial hotspots.

Though perhaps a radical concept, environmentalists are excited about the prospect of gaining so much green space. Urban sprawl has wrecked havoc and, increasingly, devestation n wildlife. This could be an excellent way to “give back”.

"Green" Exit Signs bring surprising Cost Savings

ESW photoluminescent signs - big savings for commercial business

ESW photoluminescent signs - big savings for commercial business

They’re in every commercial building - unassuming red on white lights you can see from across the room. But those exit and emergency signs consume more energy than you might imagine

On July 1st, Exit Sign Warehouse(ESW) will launch Flex Green, a program that could have a significant impact on the environment and a company’s bottom line.

Flex Green is an opportunity for fiscally and environmentally responsible businesses to upgrade code compliant (UL 924 listed) exit sign technology in their buildings at little or no expense to the business itself. Companies choosing to retrofit their building signage will receive rebates and wholesale pricing.

Thermoplastic signage provides excellent energy savings

Thermoplastic signage provides excellent energy savings

The annual financial savings of using cutting-edged LED or Photo-luminescent technology can be astounding. A business that replaces traditional fluorescent or incandescent exit signs with LED exit signs can save up to $40 per exit sign per year.

By replacing outdated signage the raw energy savings, the efficiency, recycling and efficacy improvements of the updated technology will all have a significantly positive environmental impact.

“Green” Exit Signs bring surprising Cost Savings

ESW photoluminescent signs - big savings for commercial business

ESW photoluminescent signs - big savings for commercial business

They’re in every commercial building - unassuming red on white lights you can see from across the room. But those exit and emergency signs consume more energy than you might imagine

On July 1st, Exit Sign Warehouse(ESW) will launch Flex Green, a program that could have a significant impact on the environment and a company’s bottom line.

Flex Green is an opportunity for fiscally and environmentally responsible businesses to upgrade code compliant (UL 924 listed) exit sign technology in their buildings at little or no expense to the business itself. Companies choosing to retrofit their building signage will receive rebates and wholesale pricing.

Thermoplastic signage provides excellent energy savings

Thermoplastic signage provides excellent energy savings

The annual financial savings of using cutting-edged LED or Photo-luminescent technology can be astounding. A business that replaces traditional fluorescent or incandescent exit signs with LED exit signs can save up to $40 per exit sign per year.

By replacing outdated signage the raw energy savings, the efficiency, recycling and efficacy improvements of the updated technology will all have a significantly positive environmental impact.

A Solar-Wind Turbine?

Bluenergy's Solar Wind Turbine combines 2 awesome technologies

Bluenergy's Solar Wind Turbine combines 2 awesome technologies

Put two great alternative energy technologies into one and what do you get?

Bluenergy, a Santa Fe, New Mexico start-up, has come up with a hybrid vertical axis wind turbine that’s covered with solar cells. Based on sailing engineering, the wind rotor is rotated by two spiral-formed vanes. The sun and wind produce electricity as one element.

Bluenergy Solarwind’s 5 kw double-helix design is touted to perform at wind speeds from as low as 4 mph up to 90 mph. These amazing wind turbines also  profess dual energy capture; low maintenance; and an all-important silent, safe operation for birds, humans and bats.

Standing at 18′ high by 6′ wide, these blue hued photovoltaic cells have an aesthetic appeal as well. System installation costs are relatively low. At 7 per watt, the SolarWind turbine is competitive with traditional solar and wind turbine alternatives.

When the wind blows, the solar cells are cooled by the device’s rotation, which is said to help create maximum electricity generation. This privately held company is looking for individual investors willing to pony up at least $50,000.

Recycling creates a Beautiful Partnership

Polystyrene lunch traysAn elementary school in Stockton, CA has cut their waste stream by 20 percent.

They didn’t do it on their own. Corporate America stepped up to help make it happen.

Dart Container Corp., whose manufacturing plant was located nearby, helped the students at Westwood Elementary School by accepting their polystyrene lunch trays, which were cleaned, sorted, then sent to the plant. This allowed the students to recycle 90 percent of their otherwise non-recyclable trays.

What’s even more inspiring in this story is that Dart doesn’t make polystyrene trays but agreed to accept the material from the school at no charge. Dart then “upcycled” the material to make new products – picture frames and decorative molding, along with their other polystyrene products like cups, plates and cutlery.

This let the school cut their trash collection from 5 days to 4 each week, adding more savings to what surely is an already stretched budget.

Just goes to show what can happen when companies look to make a difference in their communities.  Way to go, Dart!

Nissan to produce electric cars in the U.S.

Nissan announces plans to build electric cars in the U.S.     Photo Credit: Mark Renders / Getty Images News

Nissan announces plans to build electric cars in the U.S. Photo Credit: Mark Renders / Getty Images News

Nissan Motors plans to begin producing electric cars and their lithium ion batteries in the U.S.

Nissan North America’s headquarters in Smyrna, Tennessee will be the site of their new electric car assembly lines. The overall investment is projected at 50 billion yen ($516.4 million and could rise to 100 billion yen.

Capabile of making 50,000 to 100,000 eco-friendly vehicles a year by 2012, the Smyrna plant is expected to first produce a small passenger car. Nissan also intends to construct a production facility with NEC Corp for high-capacity lithium ion batteries at the Tennessee site.

The company has applied for a loan from the U.S. government under a low-interest-loan program to support the automobile industry.The Nikkei Business Daily reported Nissan will soon receive approval for a loan exceeding 100 billion yen. The company plans to assemble up to 50,000 electric cars a year in Japan starting in fall 2010.

Exciting news for green-minded drivers. Who’s going to jump on this bandwagon next?

Environmentally-Friendly ReUsable Tableware for Toddlers

Dandelion Eco-friendly ReUsable Children's Tableware

Dandelion Eco-friendly ReUsable Children's Tableware

Until recently, conventional children’s tableware contained BPA and thilates, now recognized as hazardous chemicals. With the introduction of alternative bioplastics, which produce less greenhouse gases than traditional plastic, parents of young children now have safe, eco-friendly choices.

Florida-based Re-Think It, Inc. recently introduced their Dandelion Earth Friendly brand ReUsable Tableware designed especially for toddlers. The diverse Dandelion brand– which includes adorable organic developmental toys, organic rattles and teethers – includes “feeding items” such as bowls, divided plates, forks and spoons made of reusable PLA corn plastic.

“Eco-green is on everyone’s radar,” says Kelly Rundle, Director of Sales for Re-Think It. But no one company was offering retailers a one-stop shop, something missing with natural and eco-products. Re-Think It saw the opportunity.

The company’s owners decided to create an earth-friendly product line.

There’s a real focus on disposableware as a convenience, said Rundle. But it still has to be processed and shipped, which adds to that product’s carbon footprint.

ReUsable Children’s Tableware is eco-friendly in a number of ways. Made from most common type PLA corn in the U.S. – corn used to feed animals and to make artificial sweeteners – the tableware’s lightweight, which said Rundle, helps in the degradation process. Being thinner, they break down faster.

These products also address an even deeper concern.

“Parents have a strong distrust of plastic right now,” Rundle says. Discovery of the widespread use of BPA and thilates in children’s products sparked a national outcry.

These products answer three concerns parents have, said Rundle. They want something:

  1. that’s not a plastic plate.
  2. that’s friendly for the environment.
  3. that’s grab and go.

Moms are generally more eco-conscious and concerned about environmental aspects of the things they use, says Rundle. Even Mom’s who aren’t so eco-aware hear about the hazardous chemicals in baby products, she said, and they’re satisfied with these products.

Besides being made of corn plastic, ReUsables utilize innovative, eco-friendly packaging made from 100% recycled paperboard, custom designed with a minimal amount of materials.

Bright corn-yellow in color, the divided plates keep food separate and, to encourage good toddler eating habits, are a reasonable 7-inch size. The bowls – with flared tab edges for easy gripping – are deep but not large. “When toddlers eat from (them), this helps the food end up in their mouths.” Or at least more of it, said Rundle laughing.

The thicker utensils are made to fit toddlers’ little hands.

This tableware is made to last, probably longer than plastic. Because they’re so new, nobody’s used it more than a year. But, said Rundle, “based on their properties, it’s designed to be infinitely used!”

Durable, safe, good for on-the-go or home use, and earth friendly, the Dadelion line is also affordable. A 2-pack of plates or bowls or a pack of four forks & four 5-inch spoons runs $7.99 each. Available at select Whole Foods Markets, you can find them online at www.dandelionforbaby.com/ or call    (888) 222-3053   .

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