How To Reuse Old Toilet Roll Tubes

I like posts and articles about reusing items, as not buying is first, reusing second and then recycling. Coupon Sherpa has a great article called 20 Uses for Cardboard Tubes Beyond the Bathroom.

For example:

11. Candle Storage
Place tall candles in paper-towel tubes and votive candles in toilet-paper rolls to keep them organized and intact. Empty tubes are the perfect width and height for both. Coincidence? Probably, but no less convenient.

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Italy Bans Plastic Bags

Okay it’s the 11 March but I’ve only just discovered this. Italy banned non-biodegradable, single-use plastic bags on 1 January 2011.

“Sustainability is made of little changes to our lifestyle that don’t cost us anything and can save the planet,” said Stefania Prestigiacomo, Italian Environmental Minister.

While the bags do cost more to make, so far that hasn’t been passed onto consumers (as far as I know) and research has shown that Italians have always disliked the thin single-use bags and were ready for stronger multi-use ones.

Yay Italy I say.

Green Travel Tips

It’s estimated that there are close to a billion tourists traveling across the globe each year. That’s a heck of a lot of sightseeing! Unless we plan carefully, and think before we travel, we run the risk of allowing our travel plans to take a harsh toll on the planet’s natural resources. Of course, nobody’s saying that you have to stay home during vacations – instead, it’s important to consider the small steps you can take to make your holiday adventures more enjoyable for you and kinder to the environment.

We’ve assembled a few of our top tips for Eco-friendlier travel. No doubt you’ll have some of your own suggestions to add too – so please share your ideas and comments below.

Carbon off-setting

Many of the major, reputable travel operators now give you an option to automatically offset the carbon emissions associated with your journey. The costs of offsetting are linked to the intended length of your travel, but most regular flights will charge between $10 – $50 to offset your carbon. It’s a small price to pay to travel to reduce your conscience! And if you are traveling by plane, select a direct flight where possible, to avoid multiple carbon emissions. Of course not flying at all is better….

Change your mode of transport

Do you really need to take the plane? Can you take the bus? Or a train? Or even cycle? These are certainly more environmentally friendly modes of transport which will decrease your journey’s carbon footprint dramatically. If you’re going to drive, rent a hybrid car – they’re more fuel efficient and emit less pollutants into the atmosphere.

Travel light

We’ve all been guilty of packing everything but the kitchen sink for our travels abroad. Try to be more disciplined when you pack your case. After all, the less weight you’re carrying, the less fuel your intended mode of transport will need to use. One good example is to collaborate with your traveling companions on toiletries. Instead of everyone bringing shampoo or shower gel or toothpaste, decide amongst you who will bring what – you’ll be amazed at how this small step lightens your load.

Research hotels

These days, more and more global destinations are developing eco-hotels and lodges which have strong environmental credentials. It’s easy to drop most hotels an email to find out more about their recycling programs, including:
• Waste recycling
• Towels and bedding – is there an option to re-use?
• Hotel energy efficiency
• Local corporate responsibility initiatives

You’ll quickly get an idea of the hotels that take their environmental responsibilities seriously – and you can reward them with your business.

Contribute to the local economy

If you’re staying in a half-board or all-inclusive resort, sometimes there’s a temptation to stay in the hotel grounds for the duration of your trip. However, exploring the local area, and frequenting local shops, restaurants and arts and craft stores can provide vital support to local people and the local economy. Hopefully, you’ll also have a more authentic in-country experience – and some great stories to share with friends and family on your return home.

Small changes in your travel plans can make a big difference. So, if you’re suffering from the winter blues, and you’re starting to plan your summer vacation, why not put these ideas into action?

Turning Blue To Green

I’m pretty sure that most people own a pair (or indeed several pairs) of blue jeans. They’re a staple of the modern day wardrobe, and can be dressed up or dressed down for pretty much any occasion. The thing about jeans is you can get quite sentimental about them. Apart from the fact that they seem to get more comfortable the more you wear them, you’re likely to have had all sorts of adventures and experiences in a particular pair of favorite jeans, so parting with them can be difficult.

However, (and I’m sorry to be the one to break it to you), the chances are that you’ve got some jeans, languishing at the back of your closet, that really are ready to be passed on. Perhaps they have a little tear in the seam, a missing pocket, or a rip at the knee – or perhaps they’ve turned from navy colored denim to that ’80’s stonewashed look, following one too many washes? (Although I hear the stonewashed look is making a come-back – I never can keep up with the latest fashion trends…)

In some cases, your old jeans may be good enough to pass on to a non-profit or charity re-sale shop, allowing somebody else to take them on new adventures. But if your jeans are really on their last legs (excuse the pun), there’s still a chance they can be put to good use.

Jean Insulation

Our jeans have probably kept us warm during wintry weather. Green Jeans Insulation works on exactly the same premise – that denim jeans have qualities which help to keep the heat in! Their ‘Ultratouch’ Denim Insulation products contains at least 90% post-consumer natural fibers – mostly old jeans donated to their company – helping them to produce a high quality, thermal product from sustainable materials to insulate homes and offices.

The Cotton, from blue to green campaign supports Green Jeans Insulation by calling for donations of old jeans from across the country. To date, the campaign has attracted almost 300,000 pieces of denim clothing, enabling the company in turn to manufacture over 500sq ft of Ultratouch Insulation. The campaign organizers have then worked with communities in need to provide free insulation in over 500 homes, helping to drive down energy costs and ensure that homes are using their energy more efficiently.

Teens for jeans

Another innovative US-based youth charity – www.dosomething.org has also been championing jeans recycling amongst teenagers. Their proposition is simple: donate your gently worn jeans to your nearest Aeropostale store, and Do Something will arrange to have them passed on to a homeless shelter or charity. In return, all Teens for Jeans donors get 25% off their next pair of Aero jeans, so everyone’s a winner!

From jeans to flip-flops

In the UK, www.recycleyourjeans.com invites you to send them your old jeans, and in return, they’ll send you back a pair of customized sandals. The design includes a special heel-to-toe technology which supports posture, relieves lower back pain and ensures the right muscles are doing all the work.

Hopefully you’re feeling a little more inspired about the many ways your jeans could live a useful second life. So, what are you waiting for? Start clearing out that closet!

Green Tee

Now, when you look at the title of this blog post, you could be forgiven for thinking one of two things:

a) That I’m about to launch into a spiel about the wonderful anti-oxidants contained in a certain variety of tea…or;
b) There’s a typo in the title of this post.

I forgive you loyal reader. On the contrary, I plan to discuss neither. Instead, I want to introduce you to www.greenflyshop.com. They sell t-shirts. Environmentally friendly t-shirts in fact. See what I did there? But they’re not just any old t-shirts. They’re t-shirts with a clear, strong message.

Warning: If you’re of a sensitive disposition, look away now.

WTF! Recycle Already!

Unapologetically frank, greenflyshop is all about getting to the point. And fast. Their t-shirts work on the premise by now, just about everyone should be aware that our planet is in peril, and that changing our behavior is the only way to change our environmental destiny. On entering the site, greenflyshop explains that their products are designed ‘…for the green activist who’s tired of people who still don’t get it.’

And I guess there are a fair amount of those people in our every day lives, who for one reason or another, are aware of the environmental challenges facing the country and the globe, but either don’t recognize – or in fact, refuse to accept that they can do anything to make a difference.

Greenflyshop uses its clothing products to target those people, designing hard-hitting statement t-shirts which are designed to make people stop and think. They recognize that the sentiments expressed in their t-shirts are not up everyone’s alley, so they print the following warning:

‘Warning: not for pansies, wimps, cry-babies, whiners, the faint of heart, people easily offended or boring folks that are just like everybody else.’

Act like you live here

Their clothing products demonstrate real bravery and an opportunity to address in a frank and honest way some of the attitudinal shifts that are likely to be required in order to make meaningful progress on changing people’s environmental habits for the better.

T-shirt statements include ‘I’m Green and I will kick your ass,’ ‘Green Mother F*cker,’ ‘Act like you live here,’ and ‘Recycle b*tch!’ are definitely entertaining, controversial, and for some, perhaps a little gratuitous. But one thing’s for sure – they create impact.

And of course, they’re made from 100% organic cotton, manufactured by companies participating in the Fair Labor Association, which monitors international labor standards and campaigns worldwide to improve the working conditions of staff on the production lines.

So, if you find yourself frustrated by other people’s lack of commitment to green issues, and you’ve got something you’ve always wanted to say, why not get it off your chest with a greenflyshop t-shirt? You’re pretty much guaranteed to get your message across! Go here to purchase your green tee (or hat or bag).

One For The Wine Lovers

Sometimes, a cool, crisp glass of great Californian wine is the only thing that will hit the spot. But if you enjoy drinking wine in the great outdoors, when you’re camping, hiking, fishing or sailing, your options up to now have been pretty limited. No-one wants to cart around heavy bottles of wine in their backpack, right? The most realistic alternative is of course to purchase wine in a box.

Wine – in a box? Yes, I can hear the sharp intake of breath from the wine-lovers amongst you. That’s because there’s always been a certain snobbery about wine boxes, mainly because they’re often pretty low-end vinegar-tasting varieties that inspire little more than a stomach ulcer. That’s until family-owned winery, DFV Wines, who have been making Californian wine for the last 80 years, decided to re-invent boxed wine with the coolest ethical credentials – and no compromise on taste.

Introducing the Bota Box

As a family-run business, DFV Wines demonstrates a serious commitment to environmentally sustainable wine growing and harvesting techniques. The introduction of the Bota Box extends this commitment further, by delivering high quality wine products to consumers using state-of-the-art Eco-friendly packaging, which is not only recyclable, but is also manufactured to minimize it’s carbon footprint.

The Bota Box is a fantastic example of modern product packaging, printed on 100% post-consumer fiber. The graphics which appear on the box are printed onto unbleached Kraft paper, using natural soy-based inks and coatings, instead of petroleum-based varieties. The box is bonded together using cornstarch instead of glue, demonstrating the total commitment to create fully biodegradable packaging solution.

‘Flex-Tap’ technology is built into the Bota Box design, to minimize contact with light and air, thereby ensuring that the wine stays fresh for up to 6 weeks after opening. And of course, DFV’s eco-friendly packaging doesn’t impact one iota on the range of premium vintage wines available for purchase, which include Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

The product design delivers a smart and environmentally friendly answer to the consumer packaging challenge. The Bota Box boasts an overall reduction in greenhouse gasses by 75% as well as a 50% reduction in waste. The product also has a much lighter shipping weight than traditional glass wine bottles, helping to reduce fuel emissions – and the fact that it is made from entirely renewable sources demonstrates just how much the entire food industry could learn a lot from this humble wine-growing family about how to package produce in a more environmentally-conscious way.

Wine with a mission

Indeed, the company’s ethical credentials don’t stop there. DFV is a committed partner of the Arbor Day Foundation, a non-profit which champions global reforestation. DFV has committed to donate a percentage of all Bota Box wine sales to this cause, as part of the Earth Day celebrations on 22 April 2011. DFV hopes that Bota Box sales will help them with their goal of replanting at least 20,000 trees to help restore US forests.

Cleaning Up Cat Litter

Cat litter is one of the worst landfill offenders in the US. It is estimated that every year, some 6-8 billion pounds of cat litter are deposited in US landfills, making it the third major cause of waste, after diapers and newspapers. In recent years, a range of alternative cat litter products have been developed, including more environmentally friendly, biodegradable brands.

However, disposing of cat litter remains the major problem. The unpleasant smell associated with used cat litter inevitably means that it will be emptied into a plastic bag and dumped in the trash – finding its way to the nearest landfill site where it will remain untreated and unable to be recycled in any meaningful way. But what’s the alternative? Well, John King from Phoenix, Arizona thinks he’s come up with a solution.

Introducing EnviroKats

Rather unusually, John’s cat litter idea started in a tire shop, when he went in search of new tires for his vehicle. Crumb Rubber Manufacturers charged John $2.50 to dispose of each of his old tires, and when John inquired about the volume of tires being processed by CRM, he was staggered to learn that the company was processing 300,000 pounds of old tires every single day.

Traditionally, the old tires were being re-used for a range of purposes including playgrounds and making asphalt, but a large number were also ending up in landfill. So, John, a cat lover with 5 of his own pet cats at home, got thinking about how the tires could help to create a new cat litter solution – and EnviroKats was born.

How EnviroKats works

The EnviroKats cat litter kit contains around 18 pounds of recycled tires, which are intended to be 100% re-usable. The traditional tray-shaped cat litter container has been designed with a small release valve at the bottom of the tray for easy cleaning, enabling cat owners to gently rinse the recycled tires and then drain away the effluent. Another major benefit of the EnviroKats system is the odor-absorbing qualities of the tires, which don’t require any additional additives or chemicals to do their job.

As a cat owner himself, John tried the product on his own pets, and now all 5 of his cats are using one litter tray. John also recruited other cat owners to trial his product with similarly successful results.

It’s clear the the benefits of the EnviroKats system are huge – for cat lovers and the environment. For owners, the cost savings alone can be significant, with some users reporting savings of up to $50 per month, as they no longer require large quantities of replacement cat litter for their pets. In addition, the system reduces the odors associated with traditional cat litter, and owners are not faced with the unpleasant task of regularly emptying and re-filling their cat litter trays.

The environmental benefits of John’s invention are significant too. Not only is John diverting old tires from landfill and recycling them for another purpose, but his product also reduces the need for harmful strip-mining used to produce more traditional cat litters. And of course, if the EnviroKats system takes off, we could see a significant reduction in the amount of cat litter ending up in landfill, which is good news for everyone.

To find out more about EnviroKats, visit www.envirokats.com .