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!

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Making Use Of Surplus Cardboard Boxes

As a person who always seems to have cardboard boxes around and no use for them except the recycling bin, it’s good to see people with better ideas than me.

Boxsmart is a company which offers a central place for companies to buy and sell used and surplus boxes.

Based in Arizona, Boxsmart has more than three million boxes in 800 different sizes (who knew there were that many?) and pays companies more than traditional recycling methods which bales the cardboard up and sends it abroad.

It’s also a socially responsible company. It provides work for more than 500 physically and mentally challenged people in its sorting, assembly and processing facilities.

Boxsmart

Spotted via Springwise.

Matching Business Waste with Someone Who Can Reuse It

Recycling is all well and good but it does take a lot of effort and energy and I’ve often wondered about something that was on Springwise recently – why aren’t companies more linked in together? One company’s waste is another’s raw product.

An American firm based in Houston is now doing just that – helping businesses get connected. RecycleMatch ains “to create an industrial ecosystem in which the use of energy and materials are optimized, waste is minimized, and there is an economically viable role for every product of a manufacturing process”. A noble goal.

Aimed at industrial-sized companies – fees are based on matching firms and then taking a cut of the cost per ton – it works more or less like a small ad in a newspaper or online. A company advertises its waste and someone else buys it. Simple.

According to the site three million pounds of waste materials have already been sold which would have otherwise ended up in landfill.

RecycleMatch

How The Greeting Card Trade Fuels Your Carbon Footprint

These days, there seems to be a celebration of some sort popping up every week. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, birthdays, anniversaries, engagements… the list is endless. Each one of these special occasions needs to be marked and celebrated in style, and it’s unthinkable to imagine not acknowledging a special day through a great greetings card.

Sending cards show that you are thinking of the people you write to, and offer a really personal and thoughtful way of sharing in someone’s special occasion. The problem is, the tradition is not one which supports green behaviors, and many people are growing more and more aware of the environmental impact of sending cards.

Is it possible to be environmentally friendly and still send a card?
Until recently, the lack of consistently good quality recycled paper and board products meant that it was hard to be an environmentally friendly publisher. However, in recent years more board and envelope merchants have been adding quality recycled materials to their portfolios and the price of recycled board and paper has become more comparable to non-recycled. This means that it is easier than ever before to source ethical products in the greeting card industry, knowing that you are buying green recycled products which can then be recycled again to maintain a cycle of sustainability.

Paper mills are more environmentally-conscious than they have ever been before when it comes to their production processes, and the majority now develop boards that have been certified under the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and the PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Classification). Both the schemes promote sustainable forest management, providing us with reassurance that paper products originate from well-managed forests or recycled sources.

Sourcing ethical greetings cards
There’s a small company in California called Two Piglets that designs and print greeting cards. All the cards are pressed using soy ink onto paper that is 30% post consumer recycled fiber. The scrap cards are shredded and used as packing materials, shipping cartons are re-used boxes from local retailers and even the presses are cleaned using ordinary vegetable oil. Two Piglets also sells invitations and in the future they’ll be making custom invitations. Order online or check out what stores carry them near you.

Switch to e-cards for a modern alternative to the traditional classics. There are a wealth of online card sites where you can select great designs, personalize them through the site and ping them off instantly. This saves forests, cuts down on the postage and carbon footprint associated with sending the cards and also helps you to remember birthdays and get something off on time! Check out sites such as Ecards or Blue Mountain for more information.

The Power of Recycling Furniture

Do you remember the last time your office had a refit? Or the last time you bought new furniture for the house? What happened to all the old furniture and computer equipment? The truth is, it probably ended up in a landfill site somewhere out in the countryside.

One man‘s trash is another man‘s treasure

The vast majority of office furniture that is removed in an office refit is still completely reusable and there are many charitable organizations that will be more than happy to take it off your hands. These not-for-profit organizations will use your unwanted furniture for many worthwhile projects. Schools in deprived inner-city areas and government granted start-up businesses are in constant need of new equipment. Not only does this provide valuable resources for those in need but also these projects provide employment and training to the disadvantaged and disabled.

The same goes for your old household furniture. Many under-privileged families, safe-houses and shelters could do with a new sofa, bed or even your old kitchen appliances.

Reusable computer equipment

Bill Gates wasn’t far off the mark in 1995 when he said in his book, ‘The Road Ahead‘, that in the near future every house and office would have a computer. What he didn’t foresee was that with the huge advances in research and development, computers are basically obsolete from the day you purchase them.

This very issue places a huge strain on the eco-friendly industry. Many companies will dump perfectly good computer equipment on a yearly basis and all of it is ending up on landfill sites across the world.

As if this is not bad enough, there are people who are living on these sites disassembling and melting down computer boards, wires and monitors because of the valuable metals that are used in their production. The process that is used is highly toxic, not only releasing poisonous gases into the atmosphere but also poisoning the very people who are depending on these dangerous activities to feed their families.

Taking the strain off the environment by recycling

If there were better programs in place to safely dispose of this equipment, not only would we be doing the environment a massive favor, but we would also be ensuring that the people living on the landfills could work in an environment safe from the dangers involved.

Many schools don’t have the funding for computer equipment and in a modern age, when a computer is not a luxury anymore but a necessity, they would benefit from large corporation’s computers that are now out of date.

So the next time your management decides to refit the office, ask them where they are off-loading all the old equipment. There are so many eco friendly options available rather than polluting our lovely open spaces.

Recycling spotlight: Aluminum

We’re all up to date on recycling, and know why we should do it, what the benefits are and where we can recycle certain things. Cardboard and plastics are now being recycled more than ever before, and society is getting completely clued-up about being green through recycling. One of the more recent trends which is hitting savvy recyclers is to re-use aluminum.

What is it?

Aluminum is created from a material called bauxite, which is mostly found in South America, Africa and Australia. While processes for manufacturing it are improve, meaning it takes less energy to make than it used to (15,00 kw to produce a ton), it is still a high-energy process which impacts the environment. In addition, transportation costs and energy use make aluminum a hefty perpetrator of crimes against energy!

Because of the energy taken to produce aluminum, it is actually more cost-effective and green to recycle than it is to make from new.

It’s the only commonly-used packaging which has a higher value than the cost taken to recycle. Recycling a soda can costs only five percent of the energy which producing it in the first place would take. It’s a resilient product which can be recycled over and over again without any impact on the product or reduction in quality.

The potential to make a real difference to the environment

At the moment, about 57% of the aluminum in circulation has already been recycled, but there is still a huge scope for reusing drinks cans and foil. Statistics from the International Aluminum Institute show that there is potential to save a much greater amount of energy through recycling the remaining cans and foil which are being used. It is tragic when aluminum winds up as landfill, as this precious material has great potential to be used again and again.

How can you recycle aluminum?

Any soda can or tin foil can be recycled as long as it is made from aluminum. You can check foil by crunching it up. If it remains crumpled, it’s aluminum and can be recycled. Cans have an aluminum label on to state that is what they are made from.

There are reprocessing plants globally which melt down and re-form aluminum easily. Around 50 to 60 cans make up one kilogram which is the minimum most aluminum dealers will accept. All you need to do to preserve this great material is check online for local aluminum recycling plants in your area, and stash any cans or foil which you use, ready to drop off to the plant.

Another way you can support recycling is by purchasing recycled aluminum foil, which costs about the same as buying new, but makes you feel smug knowing you are being a savvy green shopper! Keep an eye out for the product in supermarkets – most major retailers stock recycled foil alongside its brand new, high-energy version.

Boxes Made Of Seeds?

Not quite, but the Life Box has within its corrugations hundreds of tree seeds and thousands of spores of beneficial mycorrhizal fungi. After following the instructions of what to do after finishing with using the box, in about two months, tree seedlings will emerge, nurtured by the mycorrhizal fungi. In about two years, the young trees can be planted in the ground where they’ll ultimately reside. Birches, alders, pines, hemlocks and cedars are among the tree species represented, a quarter of which will survive in 90 percent of the continental United States.

They have all different sizes and different uses, take a look at the video below to learn more about beneficial fungi!