Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Greening Your Blues

Submitted by Shannon Avison (DRN Intern)

Blue Jeans.  Virtually everyone owns a pair.  They come in all different lengths, sizes, and styles, and are worn day in and day out by people all over the world.  Many people have multiple pairs in their drawers at home.  Over the years, the jeans we own wear down, and go in or out of popularity with changing fashions.  But sadly, when our old denim is worn out and full of holes or simply buried at the back of our closets, it usually results in taking up space in landfills.  
Well, instead of allowing this post-industrial denim, a mass-manufactured resource, to be degrading to our environment, Bonded Logic, an Arizona based company, has developed an eco-friendly and profitable solution through creating its UltraTouch product.  This natural cotton-based fiber insulation has been developed using 85% recycled and post-industrial denim and is free from the potentially harmful effects that other types of insulation such as fiberglass can pose.  In further contrast to traditional types of insulation, the manufacturing process of UltraTouch requires minimal energy, which benefits the environment by conserving energy and reducing pollution.  Best of all, aside from the environmental and health benefits, the product itself provides quality insulation which meets or exceeds normal standards for insulation in commercial and residential buildings, is fire retardant, filters noise traffic, and impeded mold and fungus growth and resists pests.
So, green up those blues and consider UltraTouch when looking to replace old or install new insulation or even consider giving new life to your jeans through donating them.  To find out more about UltraTouch products or information about donating and recycling your old jeans and other denim products, visit the Bonded Logic website.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Car: Necessary or Avoidable Evil?

When most Americans think of owning their own car, they think of freedom - driving on the open road, windows down, wind blowing through their hair and radio playing. However, when I think of owning my own car, the notion evokes quite opposite feelings. Images of stop-and-go traffic, possible accidents, flat tires, pollution, and annual smog checks crowd my mind, and I wonder which marketing genius convinced America that driving is liberating. The culprit responsible for over 37,000 American deaths in 2008 and—in some car-intensive areas in the United States—up to 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, is a force to be reckoned with, not one to be desired.

Of course, there are many instances where driving is much more convenient than taking public transportation, riding a bike, or walking. However, this inconvenience more often than not arises from the auto-centered planning of residential areas, and not an inherent inconvenience associated with alternative modes of transportation. Most suburbs and cities are designed with cars in mind. A school is located miles away from its students’ neighborhoods, a grocery store’s distance from a typical home is far from walking distance, and all clothing stores are grouped together in a single mall, stationed on the side of a highway. Furthermore, there is frequently little or no public transportation to these locations. With these infrastructures in place, it is not surprising that driving is usually considered the only practical mode of transportation. But our lives do not have to be this way. We do not have to be slaves to our automotive vehicles, and all the harmful accidents and pollution that come with them. With more careful city planning, it could become more convenient to walk, bike ride, or take public transportation than to drive.

A community in Vauban, Germany is a perfect example of a car-free and convenient community. According to the New York Times, in Vauban (population 5,500), 70 percent of families do not own cars. Because the town was originally planned as a Nazi army base, the roads are narrow and unaccommodating toward cars, but perfect for travel by foot or by bicycle. Stores are dispersed within the residential community, at a walking distance from homes.

The Times article also reports that soon, our own nearby city of Oakland may adopt the German town’s ways. The Hayward Area Planning Association is developing a community called Quarry Village on the outskirts of Oakland, “accessible without a car to the Bay Area Rapid Transit system and the California State University’s campus in Hayward.” The project, however, has run into a couple of obstacles: “mortgage lenders worry about resale value of half-million-dollar homes that have no place for cars, and most zoning laws still require two parking spaces per residential unit.” I firmly believe, however, that Quarry Village is an excellent step toward a safer and more eco-friendly future.  Planning green is just as important as building green.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Scrap School is Giving Scrap Metal a Second Life

Kids and the environment win with this amazing reuse going on in the East Bay!

Scrap metal gets a second life (and a chance to become art, robots and vehicles) at The Crucible, a nonprofit housed in a sprawling 56,000-square-foot Oakland, California warehouse where salvaged materials are used for a constant stream of classes for kids and adults in neon, jewelrymaking, glasswork, kinetics, blacksmithing, enameling and more. Local industries donate scrap of all kinds along with still-usable machinery and computers. Discarded bottles and windowglass are used in The Crucible’s glasswork classes. Discarded electronics are used in kinetics and robotics classes. An entire garage is stocked with salvaged bikes and bike parts. The warehouse is studded with scrap-metal sculptures, spiral staircases and fixtures whose components would otherwise have ended up at landfills. 
Read more>>

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Green School Building Bill Passes House

This sounds amazing:

The Democrats of the U.S. House of Representatives have passed a bill that would create a green school building program in the U.S., investing more than $6 billion in its first year to build more environmentally friendly schools. Read Article>>

I wonder if there are plans to demolish out-of-date schools?  We'll be watching this one closely.  Will you?

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Want to See Sustainable Practices in Action?

Curious about sustainable living?  Pay a visit to the Solar Living Center in picturesque Hopland, California (2 hours north of San Francisco).  The Solar Living Institute is a world renowned demonstration site for alternative fuels, green building, permaculture, renewable energy, and other sustainable technologies. 

Admission is Free! Tours are always available as well as classes, workshops and special events.  They also offer advice on pursuing green careers. For more information visit their website.

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Monday, May 11, 2009


A team of San Francisco architects, artists, contractors, city officials, and engineers constructed a single-family demonstration house made up entirely of scrap and salvaged materials.

This house, called the “Scrap House,” is made up of materials that would have otherwise occupied space in the landfills. Some salvaged materials were re-used for their intended purpose while others were used in innovative ways. Every material used in this experiment was reclaimed and re-used. Some of the used materials include:

  • scrap iron
  • corrugated cardboard
  • old traffic light lenses
  • conveyor belt strips
  • thick yellow fire hoses
  • computer keyboards
  • wall, window, and doorway trims
  • 1,500 phonebooks
  • Solid core doors
  • Vinyl billboards
  • Scrap sheet metal shingles
  • Street and traffic signs

This project was meant to inspire future home owners and designers to widen their perspective when incorporating recycled materials into their projects. You can find more information about this project on their website.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Stop the demolition, waste, and woes before it's too late

A Texas Bank is demolishing foreclosed and unfinished homes in Southern California.

CNBC Article
Associated Press Article

All the rubble and materials from this demolition will end up in a landfill. It's possible this bank doesn't know there's a better way.

Please call, e-mail, write Guaranty Bank and tell them to deconstruct, not demolish. There's a cleaner, greener, and more cost-effective alternative to trashing these homes.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

LEEDing the Way

LEED certification.  You read about it and hear about it but do you know what LEED means and where it originated?   If you work in the Green Building Industry you do.  For the rest of you out there who may be just learning about Green Building Guidelines in your city, here's a quick reference for you.

LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a voluntary building program developed by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC.)  LEED projects set themselves apart by achieving “energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.”

While accomplishing impressive sustainable feats, these buildings are also on the cutting edge of design. Visit USGBC to find innovative LEED projects in your area and go here to view slideshows of exceptional projects throughout the country.

As more and more California cities implement Green Building Guidelines, Deconstruction & ReUse Network is working to help you achieve the required ratings and we'll prepare all the documentation for you.  Contact us if you'd like to learn more.

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Drink Wine to Go Green

Cool article about recycling Wine Corks:

ReCORK America has started a recycling program to reclaim a small portion of the estimated 13 billion natural cork wine stoppers sold in the world each year. The six-month trial will involve 25 Northern California Whole Foods Market stores. Each store will have a collection box situated in the wine department. Customers will be encouraged to add wine corks to their list of recyclable packaging.

Read more >>>

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Ingenious ReUse in San Diego

This is a great article about rethinking and reuse by San Diego parks director.  I especially like how they reused old banners, which would have ended up in a local landfill had, and are now generating revenue with them.

Parks director picks waterwise lawn

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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Friday, May 1, 2009

A Fun Promotion to Encourage the Recycling of Flash Drives. Every Little Bit Helps.

Have you heard about the GURP (GreenBot USB Recycling Program) for Mother Earth Video Contest? 

This video shows the simple steps it takes to recycle your used flash drives. Once mailed in, you get a discount on a new MIMOBOT (funky designer flash drives, The Video Contest is a fun idea too: send in a 60 second clip to their vimeo group site (above) detailing what you think happens to recylced flash drives. Each entry will result in a contribution to save 1,000 sq feet of rain forest and a chance to win a free t-shirt. What's not to like?

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GURP for Mother Earth Video Contest from MIMOBOT & mimoZine on Vimeo.

Deconstruction And Buildingmaterials Reuse Network Inc