Bulletproof, Fireproof, Eco-friendly Homes Are Made of Plastic Bottles

Plastic bottle house Facebook Andreas Froese

People from Africa to Latin America are recycling bottles and using them to build fireproof, bulletproof, environmentally-friendly homes.

For about a quarter the cost of a conventional home, folks can build a two-bedroom house from 14,000 recycled plastic bottles by using the technique known as “bottle walls”.

The idea addresses both homelessness and pollution at the same time. Nigeria, for instance, has a housing shortage — 16 million people are homeless — and they have no manageable way to deal with plastic waste piling up across the country.

Nigerians have been getting help from Ecotec Environmental Solutions, a German firm since 2011, which is teaching them how to build with this model.


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This artist is taking extreme measures to save water, literally using spikes to force people out of the shower.

Designer Elisabeth Buecher has developed a unique shower curtain that kicks you out of the shower after four minutes, in an effort to reduce water consumption. Dubbed “Spiky,” the curtain has soft spikes (don’t worry they don’t hurt!) that inflate after four minutes of the shower running, taking up all available space so the person has to get out.

Courtesy of Elisabeth Buecher Share on Pinterest


The London-based artist said she wanted to find a creative way to force people to adjust their long shower habits.

“I do believe that it is very hard to do things that feel uncomfortable even if it is for our own good, [like] saving water, and we need a little help to force us to do it,” Buecher told The Huffington Post in an email.

Courtesy of Elisabeth Buecher Share on Pinterest


Spiky operates using a water tap with a sensor that after the set time of water running, triggers the inflation of the spikes using an air inflator. Currently, the invention is just an art installation, and not yet available for home use.

Courtesy of Elisabeth Buecher Share on Pinterest

“I would love to develop it into a commercial product,” Buecher told HuffPost. “People get very excited about it for lots of different reasons … design, ecology, education, art. … The curtains [create] a lot of interesting discussions across fields.”

Courtesy of Elisabeth Buecher Share on Pinterest

We’re excited about the potential of this design too, after all as the wise lyricist Madonna cried out in her 2008 smash hit “we only got 4 minutes to save the world.”

Tick-tock, tick-tock.

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Cigarette butts may offer an incredibly efficient energy storage solution

shutterstock_184884914-croppedCigarettes, the most frequently littered item in the country, could give a big bump to green tech, according to a group of South Korean scientists. The researchers transformed thousands of dirty filters into a material that can help store energy.

The scientists took used butts from Marlboro Light Gold, The One Orange, and Bohem Cigar Mojito cigarettes and and broke them down through a high-temperature process called pyrolysis.

When the researchers attached the hybrid carbon material they created onto an electrode, they found that it was able to store more electricity than commercially available carbon. The scientists see a wide range of possible applications for energy-retaining capacitors in portable devices, wind turbines, and electric vehicles. The Institute of Physics reports:

Co-author of the study Professor Jongheop Yi, from Seoul National University, said: ‘Our study has shown that used cigarette filters can be transformed into a high-performing carbon-based material using a simple one-step process, which simultaneously offers a green solution to meeting the energy demands of society.

‘Numerous countries are developing strict regulations to avoid the trillions of toxic and non-biodegradable used cigarette filters that are disposed of into the environment each year; our method is just one way of achieving this.’

We’re not saying to take up smoking — mojito-flavored cigarette, anyone? — but here’s hoping that in the future all those used butts might end up greening our electronics instead of piling up on our streets.

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Tom’s of Maine Pushes Innovation with Potato Starch Packaging

Toms of Maine, packaging, farming, potato starch, Leon Kaye, PLA, bio-plastic, potato based packaging, potatoes

Tom’s of Maine may now be part of the Colgate-Palmolive family, but to its majority owner’s credit, the earthy, yet polished, personal care products company is still a leader when it comes to sustainability. As Earth911 editor Mary Mazzoni’s feature article earlier this month explained, Tom’s is now tinkering with potato starch for some its polylactic acid (PLA) packaging. Potatoes are a huge part of Maine’s farming sector, but the company also has a long-term opportunity to divert food waste or crops that are below food grade from landfills and instead churn them into bio-plastic resin.

Compared to its competitors within the personal care and consumer packaged goods industries, Tom’s has pushed the boundaries of packaging sustainability and innovation. The company has ditched cardboard for some of its toothpastes; two years ago Tom’s eliminated aluminum toothpaste tubes in favor of laminate, which the company says is lighter, less energy intensive and reduces the number of steps from sourcing to shipping when compared to aluminum. One caveat: those laminate tubes have to be shipped to Terracycle if your community cannot accept them in the recycling stream. Nevertheless, the company has made progress as now 40 percent of the materials used in packaging is sourced from recycled materials.

So, what is the future of potato-based packaging, especially with concern over excessive use of conventional paper, cardboard and of course, fossil fuel-based plastic?

Other companies have experimented with potato starch-based packaging. Across the pond in the United Kingdom, PepsiCo considered churning potato peelings into compostable packaging for its Walkers crisps brand. The beverage and snack food giant had searched for an alternative to its much ballyhooed Sun Chips compostable bag, which the company rolled out then pulled off the shelves after customers complained they made too much of a ruckus. High end brands are now considering packaging formed out of spuds: the iconic champagne company, Veuve Clicquot, for example, launched a 100 percent biodegradable potato starch and recycled paper container that looks like a mutant bowling pin or avant-garde hair piece, but can keep the bubbly cool for up to two hours. And years ago, when the iPhone 3 shipped across Europe, Dutch potatoes comprised a tray in which those gadgets rested.

But, as Mazzoni outlines in her article, Tom’s potato-based packaging, if successful, could be a game changer. The challenge is for liquid materials to be stored, without degrading, within such a bio-PLA container—remember, a bottle of mouthwash can sit on the bathroom vanity for months in a humid environment. But the possibility a solid PLA alternative that can prevent the waste of tons of crops and provide farmers additional revenue is indeed an exciting thought. Tom’s track record of boosting consumers’ hygiene without stinking up the environment may just well continue.

Based in Fresno, California, Leon Kaye is the editor of GreenGoPost.com and frequently writes about business sustainability strategy. Leon also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business; his work has also appeared on Sustainable Brands, Inhabitat and Earth911. You can follow Leon and ask him questions on Twitter or Instagram (greengopost).

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Just stick this portable outlet to your window to start using solar power

By Sarah Laskow
We have seen a lot of solar chargers in our day. And among all of them, this is the first one we’ve seen that we will definitely run out and buy as soon as it’s made available in the U.S. It’s a portable socket that gets its power from the sun rather than the grid. You plug into a window instead of into the wall. It’s easy.

That was the whole point, according to the designers, Kyohu Song and Boa Oh: “We tried to design a portable socket, so that users can use it intuitively without special training,” they write.

It is really simple. The portable socket attaches to a window like a leech to human skin. On its underside, it has solar panels:

The solar panels suck energy from the sun. The charger converts that energy into electricity. You plug in to the charger.

Even better, the charger stores that energy. After five to eight hours of charging, the socket provides 10 hours of use. You can pop it off the window, stick it in your bag, and use it to charge up your phone with solar energy, even if you’re sitting in a dark room.

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Climate change will help weird killer bugs take over the world


Scale insects can kill trees but are supposed to be harmless to humans. Yes, they’re parasites, but they don’t suck our blood or live inside us. But that doesn’t mean they can’t hurt us, indirectly. And as the planet keeps getting hotter, they will. As a new study shows, these tree-attacking insects thrive in hotter places — which, soon enough, will be everywhere.

The study, led by North Carolina State University entomologist Emily Meineke, looked at the abundance of scale insects on trees in Raleigh. They found that the bugs were “13 times more abundant on willow oak trees in the hottest parts” of the city, because the heat was encouraging outbreaks.

The scary part, though, is that, soon enough, all of Raleigh will resemble what are now the “hottest parts of Raleigh.” And eventually, even the cooler countryside will feel like the hot center of a city. io9 writes:

Cities warm more quickly than rural areas, but Meineke and her colleagues warn in their paper that the conditions in Raleigh will soon spread to wild forests as well. If insects overwhelm trees in these areas, all the animals who depend on those trees will become vulnerable.

This is how mass extinctions begin …

So, no, these bugs will not harm you. They’ll just kill the trees and all of the animals that depend on them, which can’t bode well for humans, either.

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Thanks to OnlineEducation.net for sharing this fantastic piece highlighting the need for plastics recycling

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Plastic Infographic

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We would jump at the chance to install One Earth Recycling to service the Haight Ashbury Community

Haight Ashbury Recycling Center Forcibly Evicted After 35 Years In Golden Gate Park

By Aaron SankinPosted: 01/07/2013 4:01 pm EST  |  Updated: 01/07/2013 5:40 pm EST

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Haight Recycling Center

After a bitter, multi-year fight between a long-standing neighborhood group and San Francisco’s Recreation and Parks Department, the recycling center that sat near the eastern edge of Golden Gate Park for over three decades has finally closed its doors.

Since 1980, the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council (HANC) had operated the facility, which was the last community recycling center in the area and the oldest in continuous operation in all of San Francisco.

The city began pushing for its closure in 2010, under the administration of then-mayor Gavin Newsom. “It kind of became obsolete over the decades,” Deputy San Francisco City Attorney Vince Chabria told KTVU. “Everybody started having curbside recycling.”

“The closure ends a neighborhood sore point and recognizes that the noisy, messy business isn’t needed anymore,” opined the San Francisco Chronicle, which has long campaigned for the center’s eviction. “It allows park officials to reclaim a corner of the park for more fitting use.”

Defenders have charged that the true motives behind efforts to shutter the center ran more along the lines of gentrification and desires to keep property values in the neighborhood high. The facility, for example, often caters to homeless individuals recycling cans and bottles in exchange for cash.

HANC filed suit against the city in 2011 in an effort to keep the center open, charging that the eviction amounted to discrimination against the neighborhood’s homeless community.

“This is part of nonauthentic, nongentrified San Francisco,” Robert De Vries, an attorney representing the HANC explained to the San Francisco Examiner. “Certainly it’s true some new people don’t like the old Haight-Ashbury. This is a social issue and I don’t think policy should be based on it.”

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People, Planet, Party!

bangstyle.com sustainable energy SDC rotterdam Dance floor  technology today  Sustainable Dance Club Converts Dancing into Energy

With our planet blatantly crying out for help (earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis… Earth is definitely sick y’all…), it’s all about finding alternative energy sources these days. One architect firm is going above and beyond any ideas I’ve come across thus far. Doll, an architecture firm based out of Rotterdamn, has created an amazing “Energy Floor,” which is capable of converting dance movements into usable energy. What an awesome idea! The club-goers are going to be moving all night anyways; might as well put their efforts to good use, right? The floor is really quite brilliant in its design. Each of the tiles within the floor is embedded with its own small generator. Each time the tile is stepped on, the kinetic energy is transformed into electricity. The produced electricity can be used to power any nearby electrical systems, like the dance floor’s LED lights or even a fog machine! These sustainable energy floors were created as a part of the architecture firm’s Sustainable Dance Club (SDC) concept. The SDC website has a great explanation of their project: “SDC started out as the upshot of a research project ‘When Nature Calls’ conducted by Enviu – innovators in sustainability and Architect Firm Döll. The result of the research project was the sustainable dance club concept, an idea that was officially launched in Rotterdam Club Off Corso in 2006 with the event ‘The Critical Mass.’ At the end of 2007, SDC BV was realized with the founding of the organization and development of product prototypes. In September 2008, Club WATT in Rotterdam was opened as the first Sustainable Dance Club™ showcasing the earliest model of the Sustainable Dance Floor. In 2009, an updated version of the SDF was launched and transported all over the world for a wide variety of clients. Projects ranged from permanent installations at museums in Miami and Philadelphia to pop-up events around the globe in Vancouver(Ca), Shanghai(Ch), Salvador(Br) and Abu Dhabi(VAE).” The people behind SDC believe in having fun while still accepting responsibility for the health of our world. They really want to make the world a better place and believe that by presenting a fun and exciting way to get people involved, we can take the steps forward to ensuring we have a better tomorrow. SDC’s vision on sustainability is simple: “People, Planet, Party!” Sounds good to me!

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Reynolds subsidiary funding cigarette recycling

  • FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011 file photo, Reynolds American cigarette brand American Spirit are on display at a liquor store in Palo Alto, Calif. A subsidiary of the nation's second-largest cigarette maker Reynolds American Inc. is funding a national recycling program to reward do-gooders for cleaning up tobacco waste and turn cigarette butts into pellets used to make items such as plastic shipping pallets, railroad ties and park benches. Photo: Paul Sakuma / AP
    FILE – In this Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011 file photo,  Reynolds American cigarette brand American Spirit are on display at a liquor  store in Palo Alto, Calif. A subsidiary of the nation’s second-largest cigarette  maker Reynolds American Inc. is funding a national recycling program to reward  do-gooders for cleaning up tobacco waste and turn cigarette butts into pellets  used to make items such as plastic shipping pallets, railroad ties and park benches. Photo: Paul Sakuma / AP
    FILE – In this  Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011 file photo, Reynolds American…




RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A  subsidiary of the nation’s second-largest cigarette maker Reynolds  American Inc. is funding a national recycling program to reward do-gooders  for cleaning up tobacco waste and turn cigarette butts into pellets used to make  items such as plastic shipping pallets, railroad ties and park benches.

New Mexico-based Santa Fe  Natural Tobacco Co., the maker of Natural American Spirit cigarettes, is teaming  up with TerraCycle  Inc. for the program. It aims to snuff out one of the most littered items in the  U.S. that yields about 135 million pounds of cigarette butts annually and get  tossed on roadways, thrown in the trash or put in public ashtrays.

“You don’t have to walk or drive  very far to see that smokers often discard cigarette waste in ways that litter  the environment,” Santa Fe’s head of sales and marketing, Cressida  Lozano, said in a statement. The cost of the company’s sponsorship that will  be officially announced Thursday was not disclosed.

Through the Cigarette Waste  Brigade program, organizations as well as people over the age of 21 can collect  cigarette waste and send them to TerraCycle through a prepaid shipping label. Once received, participants  will get credits  that will be donated to Keep America Beautiful, a nonprofit community action and  education organization. They’ll receive about $1 per pound of litter, which  equals about 1,000 cigarette butts.

TerraCycle, based in Trenton,  N.J., will then recycle the filters into pellets used to make a number of items,  including ashtrays. The paper and tobacco also will be composted. The company  took nearly two years to develop the process to recycle cigarette butts, which  are comprised of paper, tobacco, ash, and a filter made from  cellulose acetate.

TerraCycle CEO and founder Tom  Szaky said the program provides a solution for the filters that are properly  disposed of in an ashtray or can, but still end up in a landfill.

Szaky said that the company is  committed to “recycling waste that others deem worthless or unsavory.” Recycling  cigarette litter will promote the idea that “everything can and should be  recycled,” he said.

Cigarette waste accounted for 38  percent of all U.S. roadway litter, according to a 2009 study done by Keep  America Beautiful.

The study also found that  cigarette butts were the most common litter item collected at sites including  retail areas, storm drains, loading docks, construction sites and  recreational areas.

Additionally, more than 1  million cigarettes or cigarette butts — enough to fill nearly 58,000 packs — were removed from American beaches and inland waterways in 2011 as part of the  Ocean Conservancy’s annual one-day International Coastal Cleanup. Cigarette  litter represented about 31 percent of the total debris collected, making it the  most-found item as part of those efforts.

“Trash is really too valuable to  toss, so we need to find alternative ways to up cycle and change trash and  repurpose it,” said Nicholas  Mallos, a marine debris specialist with group.

In 2003, Keep America Beautiful  launched a cigarette litter prevention program, and it has grown to include more  than 800 programs in 49 states and Washington, D.C. It was developed with  funding from the nation’s largest cigarette maker Philip  Morris USA, which is owned by Richmond, Va.-based Altria Group Inc. The  program also has received additional funding from Winston-Salem, N.C.-based  Reynolds American, maker of Camel and Pall Mall cigarettes.

The new cigarette program builds  on other recycling efforts by TerraCycle, which encourages consumers to collect  difficult-to-recycle materials through programs funded by companies within  specific industries. For example, Frito  Lay Inc. funds a program to recycle used chip bags and Kraft  Foods Inc. sponsors a program to collect plastic containers from dairy  products. For most programs, participants receive credits that can be donated to  various charities and causes.


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