Tag Archives: Environment

end semester review: Sustainable Me

This post rounds out the completion of a semester’s project.  To bo honest, participating in a blog has gone completely against my nature: I am a very private person, so much so that I do not even commonly use facebook. I am uncomfortable with the notion that these electronic logs will exist long after we pass away, and that the words and thoughts expressed in them can take on a life of their own.

That being said, particpating in SustainableMe has served a purpose: there is much I have learned from my fellow bloggers about little and big changes one can make in life in an effort to make the world more sustainable.

For me, the has coincided with what we have been learning in tandem with our Merchandising class- my userstanding of the concept of sustianablity has gone from basic to analytical. Initially, the word “sustainability” applied only to the environment, but as we proceeded with our lessons, I cam to understand the economic and social aspects as well.

English: Sustainability chart

English: Sustainability chart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That said, I did not accomplish all I had planned to achieve.  I still have a number of “outstanding” agenda points to take care of, such as:

Dansk: Glødepærer med med forskellige fatninge...

Dansk: Glødepærer med med forskellige fatninger: E10, E14 og E27. De to sidstnævnte er købt i Danmark. E10 er en 40 watts glødepære fra Kina og den er svær at finde i Danmark. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1.) Properly dispose of my “hazardous waste” recyclables- I have been hording batteries and light bulbs to take to the Richardson Hazardous Waste Recycling Center, the pile keeps growing, but I simply have not been able to make it out of my routine to take the stuff there. But, there is a light at the end of the tunnel- Finals are almost over! Ya Hoo!




Česky: Pitná voda - kohoutek Español: Agua potable

Česky: Pitná voda – kohoutek Español: Agua potable (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2.) Water Conservation– my guest bathroom faucet has a slight drip, which falls back into the sink. It has been driving me nuts, even more so as we have discusses all the water issues throught this learning, and has become a real point of contention between my spouse and myself (he does not see it as a problem, as the water drips back into the sink basin, and our water bills are low). Again- I will steahily have to attack this issue when the time allows- get a few repairmen in, to evaluate the costs of repair, and get some estimates.  As we learned with many “corporations”, sometimes the only way to sell sustainabity improvements is based on a “cost/benefit” analysis, which is what I am going to have to perform for my very frugal husband!



I feel particularly proud that this project has moved me into a course fo action: for example, joining my child’s elementary school Green Acres Garden board in an effort to launch their school garden and sustainable food program. This will evolve over time, and as the kids are very young, should have lasting impacts until they reach middle school.  It will also give me the chance to learn how to “operationalize” sustainability in the “public works” realm- dealing with multiple stakeholders: school boards, governance bodies, and small companies from which we will be soliciting support, and families.

Learning by Doing

Learning by Doing (Photo credit: BrianCSmith)

God bless you all and have a wonderful “sustainable” holiday season!

That annoying little plastic bag: getting the 911 on a runaway problem

Those little plastic problems: what to do when you walk home with plastic in hand

Ok- all this sustainablity has indeed raised my awareness!  Inevitably, you end up somewhere without your green grocer bag in hand, and end up walking home with some plastic.  What to do?

Well, did you know you can recycle them too?

According to the website Status Clean, Recycled plastic bags can be reprocessed into many items, including plastic lumber, paneling, trash cans and floor tiles.


And according to earth911.com, there are other post consumer products made from recycled plastic as well: plastic bags can be made into second generation products including durable building and construction products, door and window frames, exterior moldings, low-maintenance fencing and decks. Plastic bags can also be reprocessed into post-consumer resin used in the production of new bags, pallets, containers, crates and pipes.


Here are earth 911’s Top 10 Reasons to Recycle Plastic Bags

1. It’s Right Around the Corner According to the Plastics Division of the American Chemistry Council, more than 1,800 U.S. businesses handle or reclaim post-consumer plastics. (check out your local grocery store!)

2. It’s Worth a Thousand Words Plastic bags photodegrade, meaning they slowly break down into smaller and smaller bits that can contaminate soils and waterways.

3. We Need a Boost According to the American Chemistry Council, only about 13 percent of polyethylene bags and film were recycled in 2009.

4. Everyone Wants It There is a high demand for this material, and in most areas, demand exceeds the available supply because many consumers are not aware that collection programs are available at stores.

5. It’s Easier Than You Think It takes 91 percent less energy to recycle a pound of plastic than it takes to recycle a pound of paper.

6. You Can Save a Trip For every seven trucks needed to deliver paper bags, only one truck is needed for the same number of plastic bags.

7. Just Let It Burn Plastics can help trash burn more efficiently in energy-recovery facilities, creating energy that can be used to make electricity in some communities.

8. It’s Going Coast to Coast Small plastic bags made up about 9 percent of the debris found along various U.S. coasts in a five-year study.

9. Save Some Gas When one ton of plastic bags is reused or recycled, the energy equivalent of 11 barrels of oil is saved.

10. It’s So Trashy According to the EPA, the amount of plastics generation in municipal waste stream has increased from less than 1 percent in 1960 to 12.3 percent in 2009.


Here’s the 411 on The Recycling Process:

A plastic bag is a thermoplastic, meaning it is capable of being repeatedly softened by heat and hardened by cooling.

1. First, the plastic is melted down.

2. The softened plastic is then pushed through an extruder. To visualize this, reflect back on the days when you owned a Play-Doh kitchen set and you made delicious plates of bright green spaghetti. Squeezing Play-Doh through the little machine to make it into noodles is similar to extruding.

3. An extruder die appropriately shapes the plastic before it is cut with a knife.

4. The end result could be a large piece of composite lumber or thousands of little pellets, which can be used to make other plastic products.


What’s Next?

Though the discussion of plastic bag bans has increased (the U.N. has even suggested a global ban), San Francisco is currently the only U.S. city to outlaw them.


But, until that time, if you end up with a plastic bag, besides dirty diapers, doggie doo, and other small trash items, recycle it at your local store!

Here are some Tips on Recycling Plastic Bags that I found at 911 earth:

Due to their light weight, most curbside programs do not accept plastic bags. They can easily get stuck inside machinery when recycled as well. However, most grocery stores throughout the U.S. now offer plastic bag recycling. However, the trick is actually remembering to take those excess bags with you next time you go to the store. Here are a couple of reminding tips:

  • Hang a cloth bag in your kitchen or garage where you put excess plastic bags. It will be easy to notice once you leave the house.
  • When filling out your grocery list, make sure to add “recycle plastic bags.”
  • Don’t forget about the other light weight plastics! Plastic film, dry cleaning bags, newspaper bags and plastic wrap from products can be recycled at your grocery store as well.
  • Toss your leftover plastic bags in your reusable shopping bags. You’ll remember both on your next trip to the store.
  • http://earth911.com/news/2009/06/15/360-recycling-plastic-bags/


Early Experiences



Fast forward to my college years, when I moved to New York City to study fashion design.    Early on, the “criticalness” with which such a policy was carried out depended on where you lived: some apartments required you to separate your trash and recycling materials (for example: waste vs. glass vs. newspapers, all in separate bags)  or face a fine, others allowed mixed material recycling (glass, plastic, cans, papers), while other places had not policy at all- it was up to the tenant to haul off their recyclables to a recycling station if that was what they wanted to pursue. One might gauge from this varied behavior it was a “testing” of recycling policies to see which version would be most effective. Sad to say, but as a college student in the dorms, it was the incentive of possibly receiving a fine which motivated me to “get with the program.”