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I started this blog in January this year and am evolving as I go along. I purchased a Brita water pitcher (Brita Products Company is owned by the Clorox Company) about three months ago. Today we had to change the water filter, so I put the used one to the side to do some research on how to recycle it.

Here is what I found:

I went to this site, Take the Filter Back, and they state that Brita has the #1 market share of pour-through filter cartridges in the U.S. and Canada. It’s the #1 faucet-mount filter in Canada and the #2 faucet-mount filter in the U.S. (Per Clorox’s 2007 Annual Report.).  While the original European Brita GmbH company has created a take-back recycling program for its filter cartridges, Clorox has no such program in place for re-using or recycling Brita cartridges. There is currently no way to refill or recycle Brita filter cartridges in North America.

Brita filter cartridges consist of activated carbon housed inside a plastic body which cannot be opened by the consumer for refilling or recycling. The plastic body must be landfilled or incinerated each time the filter is changed. Plastic is a non-renewable resource made from petroleum. It is not biodegradable, lingering in the environment virtually forever. The more we reuse/recycle the plastic products we produce rather than manufacturing new ones, the less damage we inflict on the earth.

In its FilterForGood campaign, Clorox promotes the use of its Brita filtration system, in combination with re-usable water bottles, as a means to reduce disposable plastic bottle waste. Please join in asking Clorox to go further and take responsibility for the millions of plastic filter cartridges that are also landfilled or incinerated each year.

You can sign this petition urging Clorox to be responsible and recycle their filters. You can also write a letter to the Clorox company. In addition to the petition and letter-writing, they are going to make a strong visual statement. Inspired by Jim McKenna’s and John Lieberman’s successful campaign to urge AOL to quit sending out unsolicited CDs, they’re collecting used Brita filters, both pitcher and tap, to deliver to Clorox en masse at some point in the future. There is even a Yahoo! Group to meet others in your area and arrange filter collection/pick up/drop off. I am going to write something cute on mine and send them off. :]

The worst part is I just found out that Clorox bought Burt’s Bees… :[

-Cara

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Bio Pets

I have written about BioBags before in my 100th post, concerning some composting ideas I had.  I really think their concept is a good one, but I have still not actually tried them. :) Anyway, I came across these Biobag Dog Waste Bags and BioBag Cat Pan Liners and thought they sound like great ideas.

I don’t have a dog, but live in NYC where everyone has to pick up after their dogs. I always think about how many plastic bags these people must go through, just to throw away dog poo. This bag is a great idea. It would also be a great idea in New York City to have by every other garbage can be a compost can. Just for dog owners to throw their dog poo in, instead of throwing it into the regular garbage cans. Then the Parks Department could compost the dog poo and use it as fertilizer in all the City Parks. You’re welcome New York City Department of Parks and Recreation! :)

Here’s some info about the Biobag Dog Waste Bags from the BioBag’s site:

BioBag Dog holds the distinction of being the first biodegradable and compostable “plastic” pooper bag in the world.

[When] pet owners put 100% biodegradable dog waste into plastic bags that can take over 100 years to decompose. (I read on another site that BioBags will degrade within 45 days.)

BioBag dog pooper bags are to help divert all naturally biodegradable waste from entering our landfills.

The best solution for disposal of pet waste has always been to separate it from the bag or paper and flush it down the toilet. Using BioBags…the waste and the bag can be thrown in your backyard compost, where both items can decompose naturally; the waste and bag can be buried, where micro-organisms will quickly eat both; the waste and bag can be set at curbside with other yard waste where communities collect biodegradable waste for composting. Please check with your community for disposal options.

I think the cat liners are another great idea for people who use them. I myself do not as I have scoopable litter and then the litter pan itself gets clean out fully. I guess a bag would make it easier to clean…we will think about it.

Here’s some info about the BioBag Cat Pan Liners from the BioBag’s site:

Cat waste should not be composted, as its composition can be quite toxic (What? Toxic…I had no idea. :P). Cat waste should always be scooped from the litter box and then put in your trash. There are a number of new biodegradable cat litters on the market. We also do not recommend flushing it down the toilet because cat poop may endanger sea otters.

Using these biodegradable cat pan liners to dispose of the remaining biodegradable litter makes good environmental sense.

Biodegradable cat pan liners are non-allergenic. Cats can be allergic to plastic and other known allergens. Allergies usually build up over time from constant contact with the allergen. Calicos, Tortiseshells, Black cats and Siamese cats are more prone to allergies than other breeds.

If you suspect your cat has an allergy (red, itchy rashes), consult your veterinarian to determine the source. It is best to use hard-fired ceramic bowls, instead of molded plastic, for serving your cat food. Using a biodegradable cat litter made naturally from renewable grain crops may protect your cat from certain chemicals. Using BioBag non-allergenic liners is an environmentally safe way to further protect your pet.

Eco-pets rule!

-Cara

Babeland is going to think this is some sort of miracle. They sent me some products awhile ago (because of a Valentine’s entry I wrote with them in it) that I said I’d review…fast forward a hundred years later to the first of a few reviews I intend to do for them.

One of these products was the soy wax, chocolate hazelnut, massage candle. I love it. The candle wax, when dripped on your skin, has a soft, smoothness to it. It possesses a sweet, warm, nutty smell. The smell reminds me of growing up in Miami, and the fragrance of the women who surrounded me. When done you are softer and smell sweeter, as do your sheets and your lover’s hands.

As far as the packaging, I say lose the red and orange box (even though it’s cute). Candles already in a glass votive like that don’t need a box I would think, just a cover of a biodegradable film of some sort, if anything. Thus you reduce unnecessary packaging and have more of a sustainable product.

I also like the matches they include with the candle. I think they are more romantic than lighting a candle with a lighter. It made me think, I’m not sure which is worse buying a “disposable lighter”, matches or fluid for a refillable lighter. I say send the matches and counteract it with planting a tree or two every month for all the paper/wood products the company uses. Just an idea.

To wrap up this review, I think the product itself is great and I’m glad to have been introduced to it.

Thanks Babeland.

-Cara

What I learned today on earthpledge.org was how to turn organic waste into energy.

Waste Not Want Not

Here’s what I know…

Why Waste=Fuel?

Current waste management practices in New York City are environmentally and economically unsustainable. Every year, the city landfills over 7 million tons of food and other organic wastes. According to the EPA, this biodegradable waste discharges over 1.8 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. The collection of this waste requires hundreds of diesel trucks, which both damage the city’s transportation infrastructure and further pollute the environment. In addition to these environmental costs, the financial expenditure of waste collection exceeds 1 billion dollars per year.

What is Anaerobic Digestion?
In a controlled, oxygen-free environment, naturally occurring anaerobic bacteria break down matter and produce energy-rich biogas (over 60% methane), which can be used to generate renewable energy or to power clean fuel vehicles. Anaerobic treatment has proven effective with a wide variety of organic wastes, including agricultural waste (animal manure), municipal solid waste (food and yard waste) and wastewater (sewage sludge, industrial sludge, and food processing waste).

Having recognized the environmental and economic impact of food and other organic waste, some governments —most notably those of the European Union, Japan, and Australia—have imposed restrictions and landfill taxes on garbage disposal to divert waste from landfills. These restrictions, in addition to government incentives, have led to the installation of hundreds of Anaerobic Digestion (AD) facilities that divert biodegradable waste from landfills, generate renewable energy, and mitigate the release of greenhouse gases. Over 125 European AD facilities produce more than 300 Megawatts of electricity (enough to supply 300,000 households), divert millions of tons of food waste from landfills each year, and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Benefits of Anaerobic Digestion:

  • Substantially reduces greenhouse gas emissions, odor and other pollutants from food and other organic wastes.
  • Is a source of renewable energy: 1 ton of organic waste can generate over200 kWh of electricity—a day’s supply for 10 average U.S. households.
  • Creates a pathogen-free, humus-like fertilizer, superior to chemical fertilizers.
  • Reduces food waste volume.
  • Is compact and sanitary, and can be used in urban areas.
  • Employs a proven technology, with several facilities in operation since the late 1970s and close to one hundred more that have been constructed since the early 1990s.
  • Diverts municipal wastes from landfills, reducing the amount of fuel used and pollution generated by waste transportation.
  • Enables communities to recycle and reuse waste locally.

Initiative Information

Goal
Earth Pledge’s Waste=Fuel initiative aims to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions produced by urban, rural, and commercial organic waste, while supporting the development of a new source of renewable energy.

Waste=Fuel Objectives
Waste=Fuel proposes the use of AD technology to combat air and groundwater pollution, improve solid waste management, and reduce energy consumption. By promoting the use of AD—a sustainable waste management technology—to a range of audiences, and spearheading a variety of pilot projects, we aim to position AD as a viable and popular alternative to conventional food waste disposals methods.
Our objectives:
•Demonstrate the environmental and social benefits of AD application to our private and public sector communities.
•Encourage the adoption of AD technology by large-scale producers of organic waste.
•Work with cities and municipalities to create incentives around the adoption of AD.
•Use AD to divert 7 million tons of organic waste annually in New York City, generating significant 1.4 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, and preventing the release of 3.5 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.

Digesters in the Private Sector implementation
With input from engineers, we are advising companies on the installation of an AD facilities at their locations. We are focusing these feasibility studies on companies that handle large volumes of organic waste, such as food wholesalers, compost farmers and restaurants. These facilities have the potential to divert a large fraction of their waste from landfill and provide energy in the form of heat or electricity as well as a compost material. In the process, these companies will improve their environmental portfolios by achieving greenhouse gas reductions.

Target Audience
Waste=Fuel Initiative reaches stakeholders in the food, waste, and energy industries. In particular, this initiative targets the hospitality industry, solid waste industry, energy suppliers, renewable energy investors, natural gas vehicle developers, academic institutions, and federal, state, and local agencies.

Waste=Fuel Resources and Links

General Information About Anaerobic Digestion:

ATLAS Project
The ATLAS Project, a European research initiative on energy technologies, details the history, uses, and benefits of anaerobic digestion. The website also notes the existing barriers to widespread implementation.


Biogas Works

An excellent introduction to the process of anaerobic digestion.

California Energy Commission
This site is an excellent source of information on energy issues facing California. The research & development section of the site discusses a number of innovative energy efficient technologies that are being explored for California, including anaerobic digestion.

Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
This site explains the significance of methane, its cultivation and its uses.

University of Southampton
The University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton, UK, offers extensive information on anaerobic digestion systems with illustrative diagrams.

Related Publications:

Biocycle Magazine

This journal about composting and organics recycling has a particular focus on cutting-edge waste management technologies including anaerobic digestion.

Environmental Business Journal
A publication that provides a strategic overview and an independent perspective on the different segments of and issues within the environmental business community.

Solid Waste Digest
A monthly newsletter providing the industry with strategic market information, data, and analysis on issues such as waste disposal pricing.

Waste News
Waste News reports on waste management, hazardous waste disposal, landfilling, waste generation and reduction, and recycling.

Waste not, want not. :)

-Cara

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Approximately 800 million people today live with chronic hunger, and 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes every day. Yet the world cycles nearly 43 percent of all the grain that is harvested through animals to produce meat. To get a feedlot steer to gain a pound, you need 7 pounds of corn. Likewise, additional pounds of pig, chicken, and farmed fish will cost you, respectively, 3.5, 2, and 3 pounds in feed. Of course, large portions of the added weight turn into inedible tissue, such as bones. The meat industry does endeavor to increase feed-to-flesh efficiency, but the “improvements” sadly come via genetic tinkering, growth enhancing drugs, and questionable feed.

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