Easy ways to recycle almost anything – Part 2

When it comes to recycling, after “the usual” stuff (plastic, paper, etc.), the next level gets pretty interesting and diverse. Retailers have jumped in to make it easy for consumers. Here’s another list of resources you may find useful.

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IKEA will no longer carry incandescent light bulbs

As the phase out of incandescent bulbs begins, home furnishing giant  IKEA announced they will no longer carry the soon-to-be-outdated incandescent light bulbs in any of their U.S. stores, becoming the first US retailer to do so.

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EPA expands on clean-up rules for broken CFL

CFL’s (compact fluorescent light bulbs) contain what the Environmental Protection Agency and major retailers consider a “small amount” of powdered mercury in them.

Today, the EPA has updated their policy on how to safely deal with a broken compact fluorescent light bulb, a backhanded way of telling consumers that “small” is still toxic and dangerous.

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Environmental messages everywhere you look!

Since being in Costa Rica, I’m amazed at how many reminders there are to be eco-minded.

From the many TV ads about the Costa Rican environment. posted notices throughout the hotel about recycling, to the exclusive use of compact florescents throughout the hotel, seems that everywhere I look, the message is clear.

Do your part to help protect the environment.

Now if the message would just spread a little faster throughout the U.S .

Royal Caribbean makes environmental headway

I have to admit when I first read about this, my first take was “what’s the big deal on 4%!” But there’s more “juice” to this than I originally thought.

In their 2008 Stewardship Report, Royal Caribbean Cruises. Ltd. announced they had reduced fuel consumption by four percent, NOx (nitrogen oxide) emissions by three percent, and water consumption by six percent. BUT they’ve also reduced refrigerant loss by 33 percent and solid waste generation by 32 percent!  Much more impressive accomplishments, don’t you think?

The Celebrity Solstice - the first cruise ship with solar panels and a "green" roof

The Celebrity Solstice - the first cruise ship with solar panels and a "green" roof

As part of their environmental commitment, Royal Caribbean’s Celebrity Solstice is the first cruise ship to sport solar panels, a “green” roof and a dedicated environmental venue. But their newest ship, the Oasis of the Seas, goes even further to reduce its carbon footprint.

These efforts include a new hull design with environmentally safe coatings to improve performance and reduce energy use and air emissions, smokeless gas turbine engines, and solar window films that keep the ship cooler while reducing fuel consumption and associated emissions.

The cruise line is also replacing onboard halogen and incandescent light bulbs with LED and compact florescent lights to reduce heat production and energy consumption. These replacements have resulted in up to 80 percent reduced energy, a 50 percent reduction in heat generation and also less maintenance. The new lighting can also be recycled or returned to the vendor to be rebuilt.

Since cruise ships are responsible for emitting three times more CO2 than airplanes, these gains represent a real step forward – one that other cruise lines would do well to emulate.

I can recycle that?

Recycling logo

If you thought recycling only meant paper, plastic or aluminum cans, think again.

More municipalities and waste management divisions are expanding what they’ll accept. Many now accept glossy-covered magazines. Some are accepting used batteries and a few have begun taking back used CFL’s or compact florescent lightbulbs (the curly-cue kind). Those last two, by the way, MUST be carefully packaged separately and brought back to your recycling center, not dumped into your recycling bin.

But the list is continually growing, as are the take-back venues. For more details on this and contact links, go to http://3.ly/8C8.

Coming Soon – Affordable Consumer LED’s

Scientists at Cambridge University have developed a new LED light,  that one will cost under $10.

This new LED –  smaller than a U.S. penny – will last for 60 years, well beyond the lifespan of standard light bulbs or even compact florescents (CFL’s), and will retail for $3.00 each. 

With the ever-growing popularity of LED lighting – from streetlamps to Christmas decorations to commercial outdoor lighting – a team led by Colin Humphreys has discovered a way to produce white LED’s from gallium nitride. Available for decades, this semiconductor has until now been expensive to produce as it’s grown on wafers of sapphire. Humphreys’ team has found a way to grow it on silicon wafers, for ten times cheaper. 

“We are very close to achieving highly efficient, low-cost white LEDs that 1can take the place of both traditional and currently available low-energy light bulbs,” says Humphreys.

Among this discovery’s many advantages, these energy efficient LED’s will last 100,000 hours, necessitating a change only every 60 years. a breakthrough beyond LED’s previous capabilities for longevity. 

They also don’t contain mercury, as opposed to CFL’s, and will be dimmable, an appealing characteristic to consumers.

Researchers anticipate the first affordable LED’s will be available as early as 2011, though a complete roll-out may take several years longer.