Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The latest Green project results

I collect refrigerator magnets when I travel. They are the one souvenir I try to get from every place I visit. My fridge was covered with them and, as I looked forward to more trips this year, I wondered if I could display the ones I have in a unique manner and make room for the new ones.

I was spit balling the idea with my roommate, trying to find a good way to have a hunk of metal hanging on the wall, when he said, "Why don't you use a refrigerator door.

Brilliant idea, so I began looking around for a spare door, I think my groceries kind of need the one on the fridge right now. After calling a half dozen scrap yards and used appliance stores, I finally found one that had some used doors.

Let me tell you this place was like appliance heaven. You name the major kitchen appliance, the style and color, and they have it. They collect broken down appliances salvage all the usable parts and build used appliance. Here's a business that is based entirely on re-using.

They deserve

Their name seems fitting as well: "Endtime Harvest thrift store.

The rest was easy and, if I do say so myself, it looks pretty cool.

Next on the list: re-purposing an old dresser as a patio grill station, a place for storing the supplies with a counter to prepare the tasty treats. I'll keep you informed on how this one goes.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

One more "green" project.

After a far too long absence, I have returned. Now is there anyone still here? We shall see.

My patio project was put on hold, but I've just completed a new green project:

I needed a trash can for my work van and I wanted a cup holder, so here it is. Ok, my phone is not ringing off the hook from Target, Macy's or Sears, but it works.

The "parts": a 5 gal bucket that until a week ago held commercial floor finish, a 1 gallon jug emptied of it's floor cleaning chemical, a used floor buffing pad, a couple of screws I had from disassembling an old console TV, a left over can of black spray paint and some Elmers Glue (the only item that was actually purchased for the project.

An hour of work with items that would otherwise have been landfill residents, a few minutes with a spay can of paint and I have a stylish...ok, functional trash can/cup holder.

If any of you have any examples of re-using items, please feel free to share them.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A green project

We all recognize this. A cool retreat from the summer heat right on our own patio. You can purchase various shapes, sizes, and colors for your patio cover. You can buy free standing, four post, spartan or luxurious canopies. The sky is the limit.

I live in a town home with a decent size patio and I want something to keep the hot sun off my head when I sit outside to read. My first instinct to was to drive on over to Wal-Mart, or Lowe's or Home Depot and pick me up a ready to assemble collection of newly created canvas, aluminum poles and various nuts and bolts. But then the idea of making my own canopy, one that would incorporate reused items took hold and I ran with it.

Here are some of my ideas:
1). Follow freecycle.org. The site is great for finding things that are still usable, but free

2). Make the frame from PVC pipes, anchoring it to the ground by securing the PVC in a used 5 gal pail filled with rocks/soil

3). Make the main part of the frame with tree branches. No, I'm not thinking about ripping into the oak tree in the planter. I have a friend that has a wood burning hot water heating system and he gathers loads of tree limbs. Secure the limbs in the same 5 gal pails with rocks and soil, using the buckets as planters as well.

4) An old painters drop cloth, canvas cover or used sail would be great to cover the canopy,

This is as far as I've gotten on the planning stage. I'm still working out the design, but I am excited and eager to get this project started.

If you have any ideas or suggestions....or materials:D, let me know.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

One person can make a difference.

In the past, I have talked about how one person can change things or at least start the change. I have used myself as an example. I wanted to give an update on that.

At the town home community in Spartanburg that I manage, I have a resident that brings me her bottles and cans to recycle becasue we don't have a convenient recycling system here. It started with 1 or 2 plastic grocery bags a week. Last week, she brought me enough to fill up 2 of the curbside recycling bins I use in Greenville. I asked her why she had so many bottles and cans. She explained that at first, she was just bringing me the items she and her family used, but now, everywhere she goes she collects empties. She works at a church day camp and collects recyclables there. When she goes to the pool, she gets all she can collect there. She picks them up whenever she sees them. She even has her children and nieces and nephews thinking about recycling before trashing their empties.

Here is one good example of one person making a difference. There are 54 units at my Greenville town home community and 74 units at the Spartanburg unit. We have 25% of the residents at Addison in Greenville recycling regularly, if I can get a program started in Spartanburg, I know we would have 25% there as well. If my zealous collector in Spartanburg is an example, we will be saving tons from the landfill.

So, what are you doing today to make a small difference?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cap and Trade

"CAP and TRADE WON"T WORK!" or so I hear everyday from the opponents of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 currently making it's way around Capital Hill.

Those who want to defeat this bill proclaim as fact, that the bill will result in the destruction of small business, will send millions of jobs overseas as these "struggling" energy behemoths will not be able to afford to meet the harsh standards the government will heartlessly impose. They alarm the citizens of our fair land with predictions of uncontrollable skyrocketing prices on everything we consume. According to the detractors of the energy bill, these same innocent corporations will have no choice but to burden the American people with the unbearable costs associated with their valiant attempt to comply with their federal masters' demands. The same voices lauding free enterprise, praising the ingenuity of the American businessman, extolling the virtues of the market economy shout that there is no way that the energy industry will be able to meet even the initial demands which would not be imposed for 2-3 years.

But something keeps nagging me from the recesses of my mind. That phrase dripping with ill omens seems familiar. Cap and Trade, have we seen that phrase before? Yes, the 1990 Clean Air act included a cap and trade program to combat acid rain, by reducing sulfur dioxide and later nitrous oxide emissions. The market-based system was designed to incentives compliance rather than simply fine and tax companies into compliance. The program aimed to reduce SO2 emissions to 10 million tons below 1980 levels. In order to achieve this goal, industry was forced to upgrade power plants, add scrubbers, build new plants, etc. The EPA estimated that the cost of the program at $6 billion, industry predicted higher costs.

And what happened? It worked! We achieved 100% compliance in reducing sulfur dioxide emissions in the 1990s but industry did not stop at reaching the Fed's goal. Power plants took advantage of the allowance banking provision to reduce SO2 emissions 22% below mandated levels. What about the cost? OMB estimates that the actual cost was between $1 and $2 billion, far below both government and industry predictions.

Is the current bill before Congress the right bill? I don't know. What I do know is that history and my belief in American business says the awful predictions being spewed by those determined to stop this bill are not guaranteed and are very possibly wrong. Just read my last post to see how one major corporation found a way to comply before compliance was even demanded. I say instead of spreading fear, let's sit down and honestly evaluate the FACTS and do something that America seems to have never done, establish a comprehensive energy policy. Using the tools of private enterprise and the government, there is no challenge we can not face with hope.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Building cars with trash


is making this

using this

Partnering with Waste Management and Ameresco in 2003, BMW Manufacturing in Spartanburg, SC found a way to make use of the decomposing trash in a local landfill. They laid over 9 miles of pipes and tapped into the methane gas being created at the Palmetto Landfill in Wellford, SC. Combining electricity and hot water creation, over 60% of all of the Spartanburg plant's energy needs are provided by the methane gas. The company has saved nearly $5,000,000 in energy costs annually since this program was started.

This year, BMW is upgrading the system, replacing four old turbines with two new, more efficient ones. These new turbines will improve output from 14% to 30% while using the same amount of methane. The company estimates an additional savings in energy costs of $2,000,000 a year from this upgrade while reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 92,000 tons each year.

Looks like at least one company isn't waiting for Congress to pass a "Cap and Trade" bill to start reducing harmful pollutions. In spite of the worries of some on the results of reducing greenhouse gases, BMW appears to be able to reduce pollutants while expanding its manufacturing facilities at the Spartanburg location bringing more jobs to the US rather than being forced to send them elsewhere.

It's nice to see that some good can from a landfill.

I'm back

Sorry about the lack of posts recently. I'm back and will try to be more consistent with posting. Much is happening in the world when it comes to environmental issues, and we will be discussing much of what is happening.