Archive for October, 2009

365 Days of Trash & Sustainable Dave

Friday, October 16th, 2009

Check out the transcript of RFC’s conversation with Sustainable Dave.

Everyday people throw away trash into bins, dumpsters, compactors and from there it is out of our hands. Once it’s no longer in our possession it is easy to assume that all of our trash has gone away. Where exactly is away though? Sure it does not get piled up in our own homes, it has to go somewhere right? Well, that was not the case for Sustainable Dave, who decided to keep all his trash for one whole year. Dave Chameides decided to turn the basement in his tiny Los Angeles home into his own personal landfill for a year starting the 365 Days of Trash initiative.

Sustainable Dave
Crazy? Yeah we thought so too until we had a chance to sit down with Dave for our Recycling for Charity Podcast. Dave is a passionate environmentalist who promotes conservation and living a more sustainable lifestyle. Over a year ago he decided to put together a blog that would document his 365 days of trash, where he did not throw anything away for a whole year. Sustainable Dave has garnished press not only locally or nationally but world wide to showcase his endeavor. We just had to sit down with him and figure out how the idea of 365 Days of Trash came up and why he decided to do this.

The nickname Sustainable Dave is not derived from some great story but just happened to catch on from word of mouth and stuck with him. It all started as Dave was thinking of a name for his website but could not come up with anything. One of his friends had told them that in her household he was known as Sustainable Dave. Turns out that was just the name Dave decided to use for his website. A local radio station picked up on his story and gave him a call asking for an interview and throughout the interview he was known as Sustainable Dave, “And then within ten minutes, I was suddenly this entity that has kind of like grown into its own life.”


Recycling & Reducing: Toilet Paper

Friday, October 16th, 2009

One of the ever growing concerns with the environment is how to reduce the use of paper. Now we are all aware of that paper comes from trees and essentially is used just for about everything. Paper is recyclable and one of the more recycled items out there. However, there is one form of paper that no matter what finds itself ending up as waste. This type of paper being toilet paper, one of human’s most hygienic friends. With the “Green” movement knocking down doors and making its way into consumers home, it is only a matter of time before there are campaigns that fight against the overuse of toilet paper.

Everyone uses toilet paper though, right? These campaigns and efforts won’t be taken serious by people unless they have another viable and just as effective option. This is especially the case with something as important as toilet paper and the collective efforts to maintain a clean hygiene. I mean one can only imagine what a world would be like without toilet paper, but would they be correct? We might find out because whether you are aware of it or not there are campaigns that are heavily against the use of toilet paper. The idea of not using toilet paper is a shocking one, but people around the world are doing it and with newer technologies might not be such a eye opening notion.

A bidet is a cleaner and healthier option and at the same time will save a lot of water and paper. The production alone of a roll of toilet paper uses 1.5 pounds of wood, 37 gallons of water, and 1.3 KWh of electricity. One of the first downsides to perhaps using a bidet is the perception that these devices are designed and priced for a luxurious living. However, the Blue Bidet is around $70 dollars and can be attached to your toilet in under a half hour. There are different models depending on what you are looking for. One is designed as a cold water model that just streams water from the toilet line and one that uses both hot and cold water but may take a longer time to install.

It is hard to promote the total elimination of toilet paper. Instead Blue Bidet is trying to reduce the use by 75% and using the remained to dry yourself off. Although, there are drying systems that can come attached to the bidet that would totally eliminate the use of toilet paper.

The problem of toilet paper is what it is doing to the environment not only with the paper itself but the energy and water that it takes. In one day Americans use 34,000,000 rolls of toilet paper which equals the use of 221,000 trees, 255,000 gallons of water, 88,000,000 pounds of green house gases, and 161,000,000 KWH of electricity.

That right there alone is enough to understand why we have to figure out a way to reduce the use of toilet paper. Not only do we want to keep it from becoming waste and harming our environment like e-waste. We also have to consider what using so much toilet paper could potentially do to the environment.

Reuse Stores Rethink Use of Recycled Items

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Reuse stores are popping up everywhere throughout the country. These reuse stores take old items from empty yogurt cartons to old cabinets and allow consumers to come in and buy them at a much lower cost. The reuse centers are products of the ever growing environmental green movement and the economic crisis. It is common sense to be able to get something for free or at a much reduced cost. It is not only helps your budget being able to find certain items at such a low price but it is also just the right thing to do. Hundreds off these reuse centers have formed businesses that allow consumers to come in and go through what once was considered trash and shop through the odds and ends to buy items to be reused, which keeps them out of our landfills.

Some of these reuse centers operate as businesses to sell reused items for a few dollars to generate revenue but, most are non-profit organizations getting by with grants, government support or income off of sales. No matter the size or vehicle of revenue they are all based on the same idea that for almost every item there is someone that has a use for it.

Not only are they located across the nation but they also specialize in certain areas.  Reuse centers can come in all different sizes depending what exactly they aspire to accomplish inside their business. Large ones like the Loading Dock, Baltimore, Maryland specialize in building materials such as lumber, cabinets, windows, and almost anything else except broken appliances. Then there are the smaller ones like the Scrap Box, Ann Arbor, Michigan that specializes as an arts and crafts shop to reuse items towards creativity. They provide creativity/art classes for children and families and consider their shop as a way to creatively recycle.

Much like what Recycling for Charities, these reuse centers strive keep materials that still have value out of our landfills. When it comes to preventing useful materials from entering landfills both the reuse centers and Recycling for Charities have the right idea. Organizations like the Loading Dock, the Scrap Box, and Recycling for Charities continue promote an eco-friendly environment and the green movement in hope to make our planet a better place.

The Jacket of the Future

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Technology is advancing daily, but how far can it really go? Some say it’s close to reaching its limit, while others believe today’s technology is only the beginning.

If we date back to the history of music outlets we will find a long line of advances. We’ve gone through the age of records, radios, 8 tracks, tapes, CDs, MP3 players, Sirius radio, and now music that can be played off of our own phones. What could be next?

Well, Zegna Sports has opened the closet doors to the newest technical enhancement in clothing. This energy efficient organization has designed an Eco-tech Solar Jacket that combines recycled innovation with solar technology to produce a high performance apparel. The green product guarantees protection against wind and rain, while sustaining a constant body temperature. Zegna Sports has incorporated a detachable solar cell system in the sleeves that converts sunlight into renewable energy. Its made from 100 % recycled materials and has renewable power source hidden in its pocket that can charge a hand-held communication device.

Now you might be asking yourself what’s the catch. Does it look like it is from outer space? How long does it need to be in the sunlight to work and how do I wash it? Well, the good news is that it looks just like a normal male jacket and only takes 4-5 hours to charge. The solar panels are detachable so it can be washed and be charged without having to wear it!

Can you imagine a world where people walked around with designer clothing made from used materials and supplies natural power? The Discovery channel must see the potential in the product, because they are highlighting Zegna Sports on their new television series called Green Magazine TV. The show showcases some of the newest and “greenest technologies being utilized by the most energy efficient organizations in the world.

For more information check out or

Kenya’s E-Waste Disaster

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Environmentalists warn that unregulated disposal of e-waste with toxic elements that can persist for hundreds of years can be particularly alarming given the expected rise in volumes in the next decade.

E-waste is made up of televisions, computer monitors, VCRs, stereos, copiers fax machines and smaller electrons like the ones that RFC recycles, such as cell phones, PDAs, iPods and digital cameras. This e-waste has become one of the fastest growing segments of Kenya’s total refuse, according to the National Environment Management Authority (Nema).

The concern is that Kenya is being exposed to this type of pollution because of a failure to manage this waste. Kenya will experience long-term and costly environmental damage whose impact is believed to be felt in the emergence of new diseases, change in weather patterns and food insecurity. Something this devastating will take many decades to reverse.

Kenya’s less formal dumping sites are homes to electronic gadgets with some of the most lethal toxins. Chemicals such as mercury, cadmium and lead are some of the few to contaminate ground water, strip the earth of its nutrients and has damage human tissues and organs.

In Nairobi, the impact of this carefree disposal of e-waste is already beginning to be felt in Dandora estate where contact with dump-site material has seen a steep rise in the number of children diagnosed with lead poisoning. Dandora is the location of Nairobi’s largest dump-site that takes most of the 4,000 tons of garbage that the city residents generate daily. There is a significant connection between the two.

Without regulated or proper means of disposal, most Kenyans have resorted to burning trash as their optimal method of disposing their e-waste. Acts like this increase their danger to the environment. By incinerating these gadgets it is releasing these toxic chemicals and metals into the air and ground. The method does not completely decompose the metals.

This is an issue that is not going away. In fact, it is increasing. It’s one thing to be aware of the problem, but another to be a part of the solution. It’s time we all make a change.

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