Posts tagged ‘waste’

May 12, 2013

Keeping fruits and vegetables fresh – the traditional and the modern way

We all know how bad it feels when food we have bought turns bad and has to be thrown away or onto the compost heap. But there are some tips and tricks on how to keep fruits and vegetables fresh for longer:

  • Some vegetables can be refreshed quickly by putting them into ice water for up to thirty minutes
  • Onions and potatoes like cool, dry places and shoud be kept separetely and avoid placing them in the fridge as they will turn bad quicker
  • Bananas are best hung up at room temperature as they turn black inside the fridge
  • Make sure that vegetables and fruits are not stored in a plastic bag

    FreshPaper

The latest novelty for keeping food fresh is FreshPaper, a piece of paper infused with herbs and spices. When vegetables and fruits are stored on top of these paper sheets, they can last two to four times longer than otherwise. They can be used anywhere, inside o

r outside the fridge, in a fruit bowl – the opportunities are countless. The papers work until you can no longer smell their unique maple scent, and they are biodegradable and recyclable, of course.

Another option is the so-called ‘produce saver’ by reuseit.com. This product can also extend the shelf life of a product three to ten times, by absorbing the humidity and ethylene gas that is released by the ripening vegetable or fruit.

Overall, besides many traditional methods and tips and tricks, novel technology can also help avoid wasting precious food in our kitchens. What’s more they can also support families in developing countries who may not be able to aford the luxury of a fridge .

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August 10, 2012

The End of Plastic Bags?

Like many other cities, Los Angeles has now banned single-use plastic bags and so became the largest US city to do so. Bags will have to be phased out in twelve months, while paper bags can remain but will not be free of charge.

Plastic bags pose a serious threat to wildlife as they can mistake it for food – for instance turtles can eat them instead of jelly fish, which can lead to serious health problems or even death. And there is now the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is mainly made up of the remains of plastic bags. From an economic point of view, it costs a lot of money to remove them from our streets or from sewage systems – where they can cause significant problems. Also, most plastic bags cannot be recycled, and they are made of non-renewable petroleum, while they only disintegrate into smaller pieces but can never be destroyed totally.

According to a spokesperson within the industry however plastic bags are ‘sustainable’ and ‘low energy’, the problem is their irresponsible use. The recent ban in Los Angeles was debated by other market players claiming that it would cause job cuts at factories.

Plastic bags are already banned in many places – including China, California or parts of Texas, while others charge tax on them. In many of these regions paper bags are used, which are on the other hand widely made of recycled materials and can be themselves recycled after usage. These paper bags may even hold more than an average plastic bag.

Plastic bags seem to have been phased out in more and more cities and countries, but where it hasn’t been done yet, we can phase them out of our life ourselves – by taking our own, preferably textile, bags shopping or avoiding extra packaging.

Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse

March 7, 2012

Lost a Shoe? Print it Yourself at Home!

The 21st century is the ‘age of stuff’. All of us are piling up ‘things’ at home and every minute we are encouraged to buy even more. If we can’t resist the urge to collect more and more, a new technology can now help at least in reducing our ecological footprint: 3D printing.

3D printing is essentially layers of specific materials – mainly plastic -, printed on top of each other with a special device, enabling the creation of virtually any kind of object. For years it has been used for developing prototypes, for example by architects, but now it’s becoming more mainstream. One of the world’s largest consumer printer manufacturers, HP has already launched 3D printers, and MIT’s researchers have been conducting trials by printing food and working clocks with every little detail included.

A key market player today is MakerBot Industries, offering 3D printers for personal use, including the latest Replicator, and the Thing-O-Magic models. These can print shoes, jewellery, toys, everyday items for the kitchen or the bathroom or anything you can think of. It’s also very handy if small parts or components break or go missing, which would be very expensive or even impossible to replace.

Schematics and blueprints are already freely available for everyone to download, thanks to a whole community that has been developed around MakerBot, sharing the designs of toys or art pieces. [6]

3D printing also offers several environmental benefits. It could reduce or virtually eliminate local and inter-continental shipping and packaging costs. Also, MakerBot’s community is already working on further developments, for instance how to re-cycle or use leftover plastic in order to reduce waste. It has even been claimed that 3D printing can stop over-production as only items that are actually needed are ‘manufactured’ avoiding stock remaining in warehouses.

3D printing thus could really change our shopping habits and our life in the very near future.

 

Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse

Image: MakerBot

 

October 18, 2011

Learn From the Celebrities

Celebrities can afford to live in the most luxurious and enormous mansions in the most expensive parts of the trendiest neighbourhoods, however some decide to make their homes environmentally friendly as well.

These houses commonly feature solar panels for power or heating, while these ‘stars’ also like to install energy-saving appliances and gadgets.

One of the most famous green celebs is Daryl Hannah, who regularly attends protests and sometimes even gets arrested. She lives in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado in an off-the-grid house with solar panels for generating electricity and providing heating, while water comes from a spring and recycling comes as standard. There is also a biodiesel generator for emergencies, and the whole house is now set up to utilize the most of the sunshine thanks to its design. She has an organic garden and even a couch, which is basically a stone with moss.

Another well-known actor engaged in green issues is Leonardo di Caprio, who not only drives luxury electric cars, but also owns green homes. His house in Los Angeles features solar panels and even the bedsheets are green, while he recently purchased a new flat in New York, with aerators in the bathrooms, water saving solutions and green paint was used for decoration. Also, currently he is staying in an eco home, while filming in Australia.

Besides solar installations, Julia Roberts’ house has recycled tiles, and wood was sourced from a sustainably managed forest. Alicia Silverstone also uses recycled materials for furniture, and even has a low-energy heating/cooling system installed to save power.

Johnny Depp has a whole Caribbean island turned into an eco-paradise, entirely running on solar-hydrogen power. Inspired by him, Orlando Bloom built an environmentally friendly house in London, also with solar panels and energy-efficient light bulbs, while for his new baby they used eco paints in the nursery.

And even oil tycoons can be environmentally conscious. Larry Hagman, aka J.R. Ewing, is not only a famous advocate of the solar industry but also used to live in the largest solar-panel-powered house of the US before he sold it in 2009. And another Texan ‘celebrity’, George W. Bush’s Texan ranch features recycled water and a geothermal heating system, amongst other things.

Fancy an own eco home? Build an earthship

There are several opportunities available to anyone to build eco-houses, and some of the greatest examples around the world are the so-called ‘Earthships’.

These passive houses are built to utilize the sunshine or geothermal energy for heating, while they recycle rain or snow as well as grey water, and are powered with either solar or wind energy. Building materials are also all natural or recycled. The features change with every single house based on local characteristics and requirements.

Earthships can be found all over the US and Europe, including a house in Scotland and in Brighton in the UK. They can be visited by anyone sourcing for examples for greener living, while there are even courses available for learning to build such an eco-home.

 

Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse

 

 

September 25, 2011

Self-Storage = Avoiding or Piling up Waste?

According to the UK Self Storage Association 800, self-storage facilities exist now all over the UK, and this figure is steadily growing.  This is estimated to be equal to about 29.5 million square feet of precious space.

But does it mean that we save landfills from overflowing or rather that we just have an alternative place for waste, which people will even pay for?

Self-storage has been part of every day life in the US since the 1960’s but these large warehouses are now becoming more and more popular in the UK, as well. Main reasons for this could be the ever smaller homes and the increasing divorce rate, when people need some space to store their ‘stuff’ instead of disposing of them.  Other ‘customers’ of these warehouses include youngsters who move back to their parents’ home.

Self-storage trends

Self-storage seems to be a very good business, as the top two market players (Safestore and Big Yellow) are already listed on the Stock Exchange, and have 96 and 74 UK-based facilities, respectively. They have reported revenue growth on a year-on-year basis, as well as expanding business. For example, Big Yellow’s annual store revenue was over GBP 60 million in 2010.

According to the latest study, also the time people store their things for has been increasing, from an average of 22 weeks in 2007 to 38 weeks, which may also mean that they spend much more on a monthly basis.

Businesses have also discovered this solution for keeping their stock and using these facilities as warehouses, while Big Yellow even offers wine storage in Fulham if customers don’t have enough space.

Eco-solution or a pile of waste? The pros and cons

From one side, self-storage could mean that more waste is saved from landfills, which thus won’t overflow, and people even pay for it. At least more than council tax for waste collection. Also, the items in the rooms and boxes may be eventually re-used by the owners or given away to others.

On the other hand, these may end up on the landfill anyway – just a bit later, while even then they may not be suitable for recycling. Furthermore, more and more self-storage facilities due to the ever increasing demand could take up precious space, which may be put for a better use, in an already rather crowded country.

Overall, self-storage may seem to be a good solution if people use it temporarily but we may rather want to seriously consider whether to dispose of ‘stuff’ in an environmentally friendly way (recycling or re-using) or to pile them up in a locked room. As the saying goes, out of sight, out of mind.

Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse

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