Monday, January 10, 2011

Lucky #7 - 7 things to reuse, 7 things to avoid

I just found this site called Greenopolis and while I haven't explored it fully, I found two fun and useful articles for the time being.


The Magnificent Seven: 7 Top Materials To Use And Recycle!

For millennia we used leather, wood, clay, and stones along with animal and vegetable materials for nearly everything. When we threw something “away”, it went away- really back into the natural systems it came from.

But 7 billion of us can’t rely strictly on grown materials, and most of our modern materials don’t go away very easily. Does that mean we should not use them? Not at all. We just need to get as smart as Ma Nature and learn to reuse and recycle those materials again and again. These Top 7 materials are safe, recyclable and just work really well for so many things. They include 2 metals, 3 plastics, and 2 natural materials. Here’s my list:
  1. Steel. Steel is probably the most recycled material on earth- about 70 % of all steel is recycled and nearly all the steel you use has recycled steel in it. Works great because of its strength and malleability. I’m a big fan of steel roofs, among other things.

  2. Aluminum. Abundant in nature, strong but lighter than steel, and it doesn’t rust. Aluminum is what caps the Washington Monument because it was once so prized. But mining and smelting aluminum is very energy intensive and polluting. That’s why recycling it is so important. Right now about 50% is recycled- we need to get that up into the 90% range like gold.


What I want to know about this article is how it mentions recycling bottle lids. If anyone knows how to do that or can point me in the right direction, I'd be grateful! Sometime soon I will research this myself.


7 Deadly Sins: 7 Materials To Avoid

In the Church Of Green Living, some sins are more deadly than others.

Little sins like forgetting to recycle paper can be overlooked, unless you are a newspaper publisher. But some are to be avoided at all costs. Here’s a list of 7 substances that cause real problems in the environment, and that we can avoid by taking a few simple steps in our lives.

  1. 2Polyvinyl Chloride, aka PVC, aka Vinyl aka #3 plastic. We’ve all got some vinyl in our houses, on furniture clothing, plumbing pipes- it’s the third most common plastic. But it usually has bad stuff that can leach out of it, like diethylhexyl phthalate, which is banned in Europe, vinyl chloride and dioxins.  The U.S. Green Building Council states that the "risk of dioxin emissions puts PVC consistently among the worst materials for human health impacts”.  You probably don’t have to strip off your vinyl siding, but avoid toys (including sex toys) with PVC. You don’t want it in or near you or your kid’s body.
  2. 2Polystyrene, aka Styrofoam, aka #6 plastic. Polystyrene is not easily recycled because of its light weight (especially if foamed) and its low scrap value. Discarded polystyrene does not biodegrade for hundreds of years. Commonly used in coffee cups and clamshells for food, it contains benzene, a known carcinogen, and while the FDA claims it is safe, there are studies concerning polystyrene containers used for food packaging which find that styrene oligomers migrate into the food and may increase thyroid hormone levels. It’s your call if you want your hot coffee or entrĂ©e served up in polystyrene. I avoid it.

In this article it's these first two that bother me the most.  Partially for their poisoning rap but also (and, let's face it, MOSTLY) for the fact that I'm so good about not throwing away all kinds of other stuff, including stuff that breaks down faster (food --> composting) but I still get styrofoam take out containers and plastic crap off of the kid's toys. I think my next big goal is going to be to figure out how to cut back on using these items. NO STYROFOAM! grrrr....

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