Posts Tagged ‘recycle’


Déjà Poo: The Living Machine Sewage System

June 18, 2009

Déjà Poo: The Living Machine Sewage System

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Picture the lobby atrium of a new, green building, one filled with leafy plants and trees. Now imagine that those trees are growing in waste collected from the building’s toilets.

If that idea has the whiff of failure about it, well, sniff again. Increasingly, building designers are managing sewage in-house—really in-house. The Port of Portland, for example, is integrating waste management into the lobby of its new headquarters under construction. The Living Machine uses soil and bacteria to filter out pathogens, essentially turning wastewater into nonpotable water. But the signature element of the system is the plant life that grows up and out of it—right into the lobby. “It’s going to provide a kind of greenhouse feel,” says Greg Sparks, engineering design manager for the port. “It’ll soften the hard edges of the typical office building.”

Everybody likes trees, but (aesthetics aside) sending poop from the bathroom to the lobby may seem sort of icky. In environmental terms, though, it’s a solid choice. Just as photovoltaics can help take a building off the power grid, living machines take strain off the pipes and municipal wastewater facilities on the “sewage grid.” They also show that being green means thinking more creatively about our brown and yellow.

1 Wastewater from the entire building flows into a holding tank where solids settle, like in a septic tank. The reclaimed liquid up top gets pumped to the lobby.

2 Garden-like “wetland cells” layered with plants, soil, and rocks collect the water and capture biological compounds and pathogens.

3 On its way out of the garden, the water is further sterilized by ultraviolet light in the pipes. Then it’s recycled back into the plumbing system.


Recycle Plastic Gift Cards

March 10, 2009

I want to point you to a great post I read today about how to recycle plastic gift cards. Fake Plastic Fish always has the greatest information about how to reduce plastic in our lives. I had often wondered about those cards and how they could be recycled. I know some people keep them for art projects, to spread paint, or as a templete for different shapes. I have seen them used as bookmarks, and some cleverly painted and labeled as tags on a big birthday or Christmas present, or name cards for a dinner table.

While those are all reuse ideas, FPF’s post shows that they can be truly recycled, and kept out of the landfill. I am so happy with this news, and thought all of you would be too. Go check it out.


Thrift stores and Threadbangers

November 7, 2008

Yesterday, I went to a local thrift store that had recently moved into a new location. I had no real goal in mind, other than perhaps some nice lightweight sweaters.  I found several, but they were all too short.  I hate the recent style of all women’s tops being shorter.  I like a top to be long enough to be tucked in or to come down far enough to keep my lower back warm.  Anyway, I struck out with the sweaters.

I did find a nice button down dark green top that will be wonderful to layer over either a short or long sleeve shirt. I am all about the layers. This shirt had unnecessary pockets on the front though, so last night, I ripped them off using a seam ripper. Now I just have to wash the shirt and decide if I like it like that, or if I want to alter it further.

My super fantastic find was a suede coat. This coat had to have cost 150+ when it was new in a department store. It is beautifully made, had all the buttons, plus and extra, is lined, had a belt and fits me like a dream. There are no stains on this coat, all the seams are intact, it is lovely.  I am forever a thrift store convert because I got this coat for less than five dollars.

I was inspired to check out the thrift store from watching several episodes of Threadbangers.  This site has videos, forums, and all kinds of ideas and instructions on how to make clothes, alter clothes, and more.  It is a informative resources for anyone who wants to bring personal style to their wardrobe and their life. One reason I bought the shirt is when I say it, I thought, it would be great without the pockets.  In the past, I would have left it in the store.  But yesterday, I thought, “I can take those off myself and have a great top.”

My next goal is to fire up the sewing machine.  I saw an episode on how to tailor a shirt for a better fit and I have some shirts that almost fit, but I think they could be better.

What’s your favorite thrift store find?


Solar Powered Bags

August 29, 2008

Wow is this neat!

One of the blogs I peruse had a link to a company called Reware.  I checked them out and wow, they are so cool.  They have bags made of recycled plastic bottles which is great, because hey, plastic bottles are getting a second life and not clogging landfills.  They have a process that turns the plastic into a fiber and then the fiber is used to make hobo bags, messenger bags, and more.

BUT, even better, they have bags that contain solar panels that you can use to recharge all your electronic gear.  This is so cool to me because now, you can just use your bag to recharge on the go and you don’t have to lug a heavy charger with you, or worry about if you will have access to an outlet!  Going to the beach?  Let your ipod or camera charge while you frolic in the waves then take great sunset shots while you let your hair dry.

I’m always looking for a great recycled product or a new solar product and here, I found both.  For the record, I have no contact with this company and they are not paying me to review them.  I just think this is an awesome product and I wanted to share it with you.

Do you have one of these great bags?  If so, how do you like it?


Reusable Drinking Straws

August 26, 2008

I still use plastic drinking straws.  Sigh, I know, these are a one use item, unless you wash them which I usually do.  Still, they don’t last forever and then they are just more plastic, sitting in a landfill, forever. I am finishing up a bag of straws that I bought several years ago.  When they are finally gone, I will buy reusable, compostable or recyclable straws.

Green Home offers a beautiful set of glass drinking straws, complete with a brush sized just right for cleaning them.  I think these would be perfect for my smoothies, that I love to sip on throughout the morning.  These are my favorite of all possible options.

Green Home also offers compostable straws made from corn.  These are offered in boxes of 4000 straws which is WAY more than I need. I would love to see these at restaurants.

Bamboo is another reusable, washable alternative.  Bamboo will last much longer than plastic, although not as long as the glass.  When they are finally worn out, they are completely compostable. I like these because you can get a set of 12 for a very reasonable price.  I think these would be awesome for my next friendly get-together.

If you are in the market for a better drinking straw, I think you couldn’t go wrong with any of these options.


Container Gardening

August 21, 2008

I have done a little bit of container gardening.  I recycled old water bottles to make plant holders and I have some pots on my front porch that have ivy and aloe in them.  I was looking for more ideas and I came across two great videos full of ideas.

This first video is for an herb garden.  I love the container she uses, it never would have occurred to me to use an old basket in that way.  What really shocked me is what she said about baby diapers.  Check it out.

This next video has lots of ideas for fall containers.  It is early enough in the year to plan and plant fall containers so as to have beautiful showings for the season.  This video also focuses on flowers and grasses which is a nice contrast to the earlier one which was all about herbs.

I have some old baskets and a few pots that I think I can combine into a really nice arrangement for my own back deck container garden.  What’s your favorite plant to grow in containers?


Saving Water

May 5, 2008

Crunchy Chicken is having an Extreme Eco-Challenge for the month of may.  This are several choices, and basically she is asking you to do without some damaging item for the month.

I read through the options and knew most of them were items I could not commit too.  However, number six in her list, no excessive water usage, is one I do already.  It didn’t seem like a challenge if I’m doing this every day anyway.

I drink tap water, not bottled.  At work, I have an plastic bottle but I wash it at home and I refill it from the water fountain at work, or my tap at home.  I know a Klean Kanteen is a better choice, but that’s a new purchase, that would have to be shipped to me and I already have the bottles.

At home, I was all my clothes in cold water, and only full loads.  I hand wash my dishes and rinse them in cold water.  I have a low flush toilet already.  I turn off the water when I brush my teeth.   I take short showers.  I don’t water my yard.  Either it gets rain, or it dies.  Frankly, if the grass dies, that’s less to mow.

I wash my car rarely.

Now that I have a little bitty garden, I will think about how to water it.  Probably, I will use my gray water from rinsing my dishes.  I usually have a little coffee left over that I can pour on the plants too.

So overall, I try to pay attention to my water usage and make sure I’m not being wasteful.