Top 5 Mis-recycled Objects

So you want to recycle. That’s a good impulse. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, not only does recycling save energy and reduce pollution, it also creates hundreds of thousands of jobs per year and billions in tax revenue. Even for the not-so environmentally conscious among us, recycling is a no-brainer.


However, there is a way to do recycling wrong. According to USA Today, recycling non-recyclable materials can force recycling plants to more or less shut down their operations while they fish the garbage out of their machinery. Forcing plants to do this by recycling sloppily makes it less financially feasible to run a recycling operation. We want to make everyone a good citizen of the recycling world so we can continue to stuff those bins, save energy, and work toward a cleaner planet for everyone. Here are five materials that are often mis-recycled. Watch out for them!



1. Pizza boxes


Pizza-boxesThis one may be surprising because cardboard—out of which most pizza boxes are made—is practically the consummate recyclable material. But as the folks over at HGTV explain, the grease absorbed by cardboard boxes affects the process of making cardboard into new materials. So don’t let pizza boxes trip you up! Don’t mis-recycle them, throw them away and make recycling better for everyone.



2. Saran wrap


Saran-wrapThink it’s good to recycle plastic? You’re right! Just not this kind of plastic. According to Rebin, a sustainable design company, Saran wrap “can jam the machinery used to recycle plastic, costing time and money.” Think of where your recycled plastic wrap goes, and you’ll be much less likely to mis-recycle it.



3. Batteries


BatteriesBatteries today can be thrown out with your trash because they do not have as much mercury as those before 1997, when new mandates to phase out mercury were passed. But if you come upon older batteries or feel environmentally conscious about causally tossing them out, there are various recycling options from which you can choose. Older batteries contain heavy metals, so letting them rest in landfills is a long-term environmental risk for us all. Take batteries to a local facility that’s dedicated to recycling batteries and check out Call 2 Recycle for their recycling programs.



4. “Paper” cups


Paper-cupsEver wonder how paper cups are made to hold hot beverages, but are also recyclable? Unfortunately, only one of those two things is true. Most paper cups are made out of a non-recyclable plastic. Don’t get tripped up and mis-recycle them.



5. An Apple 1 computer worth $200,000


An-Apple-1-computerAccording to the pop culture site Konbini, a woman mistakenly tried to recycle an extremely rare, extremely valuable piece of tech history. This doesn’t have much to do with saving energy, but, um, don’t be like her!


The Flex House: Multi-Faceted Adaptability

If you’re environmentally conscious and looking for a home, you probably think you can’t have it all. That’s okay. It’s hard to imagine a home that has both enough space to live comfortably and is an energy cipher. It’s also hard to imagine a home that looks as good as it makes you feel when you see your monthly energy bill. Environmentalism is by its very nature an ethos of compromise.


With the sizable, affordable, adaptable Flex House, you don’t have to compromise.





SizableOur friends at Green Builder Media point out that The Flex House is the second step in a home-building revolution. The first generation of energy-efficient homes built by Shelter Dynamics was called “The Arc House.” The energy-saving spirit of Arc lives in The Flex House, but there are important differences between the two designs. The most important difference? Size.


“The Flex House, at 760 square feet, is significantly larger than The Arc House,” Green Builder writes in the article we linked to above. “The prototype includes a master bedroom, smaller bedroom or office, bathroom, two living areas, a full kitchen, and a flexible “niche” space.”

Green Builder Media CEO Sara Gutterman says it best when talking about balancing the need for space with the desire to be green:


“What I like about The Flex House is we’re not asking people to sacrifice; we’re just asking people to not use any more than they need.”





AdaptableThe second big strength of The Flex House is implied by its name. Single? You can create hundreds of square feet of recreation/office space. Looking to raise kids in your Flex House? Any number of floor plans can help you optimize your family’s sanctuary. You can have upstairs space or you can keep things on one story. You can add expansion modules or keep the floor plan basic. Remarkably, a home that can be “100 percent energy self-sufficient” per Green Builder is also virtually as adaptable as any you’re likely to find.





AffordableHere’s where this all starts to get ridiculous. The sizable, adaptable Flex House is not some sort of boutique home design. Amazingly, the base model will cost between $85,000 and $100,000, about the median home price in Cumberland, Maryland. (No disrespect to Cumberland!)


If you’re looking for an eco-friendly home that can meet your needs, but won’t stretch your budget, you should give a Flex House a serious look.


Image Credit: Green Builder Media


These Wild New Skyscrapers Are Building Forests in the Sky

We were just getting used to green roofs—those fascinating combinations of garden and architecture. But now two architects working at opposite ends of the globe are planning even more incredible feats by designing farms and forests designed to live on the face of a skyscraper.


One of the most dramatic of these new urbanized farm projects is the Urban Skyfarm currently under design by Brooklyn-based Aprilli Design Studio for a site in Seoul, South Korea. This prototype building project uses four major tree-based components—the “root,” “trunk,” “branch,” and “leaves” —to house more than 24 acres of space for growing fruit trees, tomatoes, and other sustainable vegetation. The trunk of the tree is intended to contain an indoor hydroponic farm for greens, while the root portion provides a wide environmentally controlled space for market places and public activities.





Meanwhile, turbines at the top of the tower provide enough energy to power the whole operation in a net-zero environment. The design also can capture rainwater and filter it through an artificial wetland before returning fresh water to the nearby Cheonggyecheon stream. Architects Steve Lee and See Yoon Park say the structure could support hundreds of environmental functions and serve as a model for how buildings are designed, constructed, and utilized in the future.


“Our version of the vertical farm was intended to become an independent, open-to-air structure which would be purely focusing on farming activities and sustainable functions such as generating renewable energy and performing air and water filtration,” the architects told Fast Company.


“With the support of hydroponic farming technology, the space could efficiently host more than 5,000 fruit trees. Vertical farming is more than an issue of economical feasibility, since it can provide more trees than average urban parks, helping resolve urban environmental issues such as air pollution, water run-off, and heat island effects, and bringing back balance to the urban ecology.”


Environmentally, the Urban Skyfarm acts as a living machine by producing renewable energy and lending the building improved air quality while reducing heat accumulation, storm water runoff, and carbon dioxide.


Mimicking the biological structure of a tree lends the design many structural and environmental advantages by creating a lightweight but efficient space to host different farming activities. Its designers also attest that the form creates a strong iconic image and represents a symbol of well-being and sustainable development.



Meanwhile, Back in Milan, Italy . . .


On the other side of the world, a wildly innovative Italian architect is plotting to apply greenery to the world’s most innovative buildings, including an already constructed project in Milan that has been named one of the the best tall buildings in the world.


The designer and architect is Stefano Boeri, and the dual skyscraper project in Milan is Bosco Verticale. His 256-foot and 344-foot towers are swaddled in more than 700 trees and 100 species of plants. In total, there are around 21,000 plants on the two towers, equivalent to five acres of forest spread over 1,300 square meters. It even has its own natural ecosystem with more than 20 species of birds nesting between the two towers.





The design really is “green” in more than color only. The massive amounts of plant life help reduce smog and carbon dioxide, dampen noise levels, boost oxygen, and regulate heat and cold within the twin towers. Inside, a sophisticated irrigation system redirects used water back onto the forested “porches” to sustain the plant life.


Boeri calls the concept the “Vertical Forest” design, a concept that won the firm, Stefano Boeri Architetti, second place in last year’s Emporis Skyscraper Award, beating out more than 120 competitors including One World Trade Center in New York City and Burj Mohammed Bin Rashid Tower in Abu Dhabi.


“It is a model for vertical densification of nature within the city,” Boeri says. “Vertical Forest increases biodiversity, so it becomes both a magnet for and a symbol of the spontaneous re-colonization of the city by vegetation and animal life.”


Meanwhile, Around the World . . .



Milan’s Bosco Verticale is far from Boeri’s singular vision, and is just one of a host of projects around the world that are using urbanized vegetation to make life better for the people who live and work in these buildings.


Boeri has already unveiled plans for two Vertical Forests in Nanjing, China, as well as “Liuzhou Forest City” in China, the Wonderwoods residential apartment project in the Netherlands, and the sprawling Guizhou Mountain Forest Hotel in Southern China. He also recently announced a 36-story tower in Lausanne, Switzerland, where “Tower of Cedars” will feature more than 18,000 plants and 100 trees.





“It’s something I’d been thinking about for a long time,” Boeri said recently. “I’ve always been fascinated by trees and architecture. In Lucca, Italy, there’s a 14th-century tower that has trees at the top. So I started to imagine how trees could become the main protagonist on a building’s facade.”


Boeri isn’t the only one thinking about how to build forests and gardens in the sky. His innovative, arboreal designs are inspiring and complementing other greenery-inspired architectural projects around the globe.


Rolex’s twisty future Dallas headquarters recently broke ground on its construction, featuring a design by architect Kengo Kuma that was inspired by Japanese castles and features landscaped terraces and a tree-lined rooftop event space.


Danish Architects Bjarke Ingels are hard at work in Los Angeles on 670 Mesquit, a 2.6 million-square-foot mixed-use project that features two massive concrete cubes topped with landscaped terraces.


Back in Asia, Vo Trang Nghia Architects are building a city complex in Ho Chi Minh City that will feature a 90,000-square-foot project with a communal rooftop garden. They’re also building a tree-lined campus at FPT University that will spread an elevated forest over the 14-square-mile site.


One Central Park in Sydney, Australia, hosts more than 190 plant species native to the country and features massive crawling vines that climb the building’s face.


Some critics have doubted the scientific veracity of the tree-building concepts, not to mention the aesthetics of simply propping a tree onto a concept drawing, but these innovative designers seem to be using green technology in a manner that is both ethically and tactically responsible.


Besides, some people just can’t see the forest through the trees.


Photo Credits: Stefano Boeri Architetti, Aprilli Design Studio.


6 Tips to Keep Your Dorm Green this Semester

It’s about that time—school has begun and students around the country are moving out of their parents’ house and into their new dorms. It’s an exciting experience, and decorating the dorm is all part of the fun. But, keeping the dorm room “green” isn’t always a priority when shopping for lighting, packaging for the move, and being mindful of the origin of the products. Saving energy and going green this semester is a lot easier than it sounds! Take a look at some of these tips and see how you can take the initiative and conserve energy in your dorm room this year!



1. The “Something Old…”


The Something OldDon’t be afraid to use the used! Not everything in your dorm room has to be brand new to be stylish. Rather than heading to big department stores for décor, try checking out some second-hand stores, online “used” retailers like ebay and Craigslist, or even some garage sales. Some of the best (and cheapest) finds are used. Add some character to your new space with some some antique furniture or hand-me-down pieces like vases or frames.



2. Natural Air


Natural AirWhile most dorms don’t allow students to exceed or go below a specific degree in the dorm room’s temperature, you can take it one step further and not use the university’s air conditioning all together! Try opening a window, turn on the fan, or even take a (quick) cold shower before you hit the hay! The less air conditioning you use, the more energy you conserve!



3. Use the Recyclable Stuff!


Use the Recyclable StuffIt’s time to dip into your creative side. Rather than buying décor that you can’t recycle once you grow out of it or move out, try making your own! Use paper, cardboard, or even plastic so that once you don’t need it, it can be re-purposed into something else. Try making a paper lamp, or using paper wall tiles to amp-up those plain dorm walls! Items made up of recyclable matter are not only better for the environment, but can also add a unique touch to the traditional dorm room.



4. Say “YES” to Organic Sheets


Say YES to Organic SheetsWe know what you’re thinking, “too expensive!”. But, there are affordable organic products out there, it just takes a little bit of research! Besides, investing in an organic sheet/bedding set and pillow cases isn’t a bad idea. Opting for organic cotton sheets means opting for less pesticides in the growth of cotton and a more natural product to slumber in. What could be better?



5. Keep it Clean!


Keep it CleanWe know, between studying and making new friends, there isn’t much time to clean the dorm room. But, when you do, it’s best to use organic and biodegradable cleaning supplies. These products are great for the environment and for your health. Don’t subject your roommate and yourself to harmful chemicals if you can help it.



6. Spotlight on Lighting


Spotlight on LightingLower your electricity usage with light emitting diode bulbs. These bulbs are great for awesome lighting, and use A LOT less electricity than your traditional bulbs. You can find them at most hardware stores and even online. Take a little bit of extra time and search around for cleaner, less energy-guzzling lighting options.


5 Reasons Why Your Company Should Go Green

Going green and saving energy has become quite the trend in businesses today. Companies everywhere are adopting safer practices for the environment and making strides to better our ecosystem. Reducing waste and preserving energy not only benefits the world we live in, but can build a better business as well. Take a look at these five compelling reasons to take the first step in helping your company go green and start saving energy!



1. It’s going to save YOU money!


It's going to save YOU moneyThere isn’t one business owner out there that doesn’t want to save themselves money. Going green is a great way to keep some extra change in the bank to put back into the company.


For example, try switching your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lighting (CFL). This can save up to 70% on electric bills! Also, going paperless cuts costs for buying paper, sticky notes, agendas, and notebooks. Try using natural light, and decreasing electricity usage in the summer by using blinds, curtains, or window film to block out heat.


Adopting small habits can potentially save your company thousands of dollars per year, while also saving the environment.



2. Consumers are looking for green companies.


Consumers are looking for green companiesProtecting the environment is a strong goal in society today, which probably means that a large majority of your customers are hoping to preserve the ecosystem whenever they can. Going green and saving energy is going to attract a strong customer base. According to Environmental Leader, about 53% of consumers prefer to buy from a company with a green reputation. And, not only are green companies a preference for customers, but for potential employees as well!



3. Stimulate company innovation…


Stimulate company innovationFinding more efficient means for production forces you and your employees to be innovative and to start thinking outside of the box. Brainstorming ideas on how to become more environmentally sound allows for creative stimulation. The ideas don’t have to be larger than life to be useful and thought-provoking. Simply thinking of more efficient ways to travel to work or reduce waste can evoke ideas and strengthen the thought process of employees.



4. Go ahead, decrease your taxes!


Go ahead, decrease your taxesDid you know that companies can take a tax credit of 30% for the use of solar and/or wind energy? Believe it or not, there are a lot of federal tax credits available for energy efficient buildings. Plus, at the state level, there are laws that provide a lot of tax credits and incentives for companies to adopt more environmentally sound practices. Check out this guide that provides tax incentives for all 50 states!



5. You’re helping the environment, which is reason enough.


You're helping the environment, which is reason enoughIt’s no secret that our environment is in need of some help. By employing different tactics to reduce waste, preserve energy, and conserve water, you and your employees will help to make a positive impact on a large global issue. Reduce your company’s carbon footprint by cutting pollutant and chemical use. Not only will this make for a healthier environment, but a healthier staff as well.



There are endless benefits to preserving our ecosystem. No matter how large or small your company is, finding more efficient ways to run your company will make an incredible difference.