All Posts Tagged With: "reuse"

Green Gas. Greenroof. Greenwash.

 cartoon by: Wilcox

Gasoline production is never actually going to be "green" but to show they really care, British Petroleum has been going the extra mile for the environment in other areas. A Los Angeles BP , Helios House, is the nation’s first station to operate with high "green" standards which includes low-flow toilets, solar panels, a rain-catchment system and floors made from recycled glass, everything green (except its product.) The station also hands out tips on being green and seeds you can plant in your home garden.

Here in Baltimore we have our very own "growing" equivalent. The BP station across from the Museum of Industry off Key Highway has a greenroof on both the convenience store and the car wash. This roof was was planted in spring, 2007 by me, your GOforChange contributor, while working for Furbish Co . The easiest — and probably the only — way to see it is if you have any friends with roof-top decks in South Baltimore. Although most of us can’t see it, it is helping improve air, lowering the urban heat-island effect, and slowing storm water run-off.

Is BP acting "Beyond Petroleum" or is it closer to greenwashing? Listen to NPR news story.

Greenwash is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image.” View a list of America’s 10 worst offenders from The Green LIfe.

We have two new programs starting up, including the Green Website Adventure Tour, which begins the week of July 13. Join me on a F*R*E*E phonecall to find out more: Friday, July 3 at 11:00 a.m. EST.

Are You Aware of the Plastic in Your Life?

photo by: Julie Gabrielli

My husband, the Eagle Scout, came home from Target recently with literally a bucketful of plastic. The bucket ITSELF was plastic! It looked like he had won some kind of shopping spree contest. Everything you can fit into a laundry basket in five minutes. In addition to what you see here, there was also contact lens solution, which comes in a cardboard box, but the solution itself is in a plastic bottle that has a little plastic safety seal on it.

What made me really take notice of this is – I had just been teaching a 4-week course called "Your EcoBlueprint ." In the third week, we played with the Plastic Tracker, which is an audit worksheet to build awareness of the amount and kinds of plastic that comes into our lives. Where they come from, what their purpose is, and what we do with them after we’ve used them. Read through this post to find out how you can win a copy of the Plastic Tracker to try for yourself.

In the fourth class, we talked a bit about the experience of using the plastic tracker. How surprised we were to learn just how much of this stuff is in our lives. For those of us who think of ourselves as fairly environmentally aware, this can be a real revelation. Continued

Watch Junk Mail Disappear with Vermicomposting

Having a vermicomposting system in your home might sound scary at first, what with all those worms, but I can assure you this experience has taught me that working in tandem with nature can provide a profound understanding of sustainability and inherent life cycles. For example, all over the U.S. our soil is degrading at alarming speed through monocultures and pesticides, which is stripping the soil of hundreds — if not thousands — of years’ worth of nutrient-rich support for healthy plentiful growth.

Leaves, for example, have always been a source of food for soil and every year we deprive that soil of its regenerating power by bagging leaves and hauling them elsewhere. Soil regenerates itself through the decomposition of mico-bacteria and with a lot of help from various species of worms. It was Darwin who discovered the amazing power of worms to bury and till the earth, which is also one reason that the deeper archaeologists dig, the older their findings.

We must start thinking of better ways of disposing of our waste, ways that give back in order to continue receiving. Vermicomposting is one way to get started. I made this video to engage people to take note of the values of life cycle systems. Worms will not only eat your food scrapes and leaves, but also your junk mail and holiday wrapping paper. Once decomposition is complete you’ll have rich black soil to use in your flower beds.

If you have any more questions about vermicomposting, please email us at or start a discussion thread on our social networking site. (goNetwork button)

Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and check back soon. I will be posting updates on this subject.

Don’t Throw Away, There is No Away

photo: Curtis Palmer
Here is a staggering thought. According to the EPA, in 2005, only 345,000 to 379,000 tons of electronics were recycled out of approximately 1.9 to 2.2 million tons of unwanted electronics. This means that a huge percentage is going to the landfill which will eventually contaminate ground water. There are a whole host of ways to recycle every electronic you have with local, national and international resources. Here in Baltimore my top choice is dropping off your unwanted tech products to CDM-eCycling . I wrote a post about them a couple months ago and I can tell you without a doubt they provide a service that is improving the environment, and helping the local economy. If you find it hard to make the trip over to Washington Blvd. please contact us at I will accept anything that will fit in my Honda Civic and make the trip for you. I have been inspired to do this by seeing Jennifer Baichwal documentary about Edward Burtynsky work called Manufactured Landscapes and reading and watching videos about the struggles of many Chinese that have our e-waste dumped on their soil and sorted under absolutely horrendous conditions. It’s a cycle of production that is destroying the cycle of life. Please, find a responsible e-waste recycler in your state here or visit Basel Action Newtwork website. "BAN is the world’s only organization focused on confronting the global environmental injustice and economic inefficiency of toxic trade and its devastating impacts."

Other things you can do:

1. Find out what companies have a take back program here.

2. Get payed for your electronics by this guy in Denver, CO at

3. U.S. Staples store will charge you $10, to recycle your used computers, monitors, laptops, and desktop printers, faxes and all–in–ones. Smaller computer accessories such as keyboards, mice, and speakers are accepted at no charge. In addition, you can recycle batteries, PDAs, pagers, digital cameras, and chargers. They will give you $3 in a gift certificate toward new ink for certain ink cartridges. Others, they will just recycle for free.

4. Check back soon for more information

Recycled Glass is Limitless

photo: unknown
According to one source, the late 1960’s was the first time glass manufacturers established collection centers where people could return empty bottles, jars, and other types of glass containers. These were recycled by breaking up the glass and then melting it down with silica sand, limestone, and soda ash to make new containers. Recycling glass is 100% sustainable because it will not deteriorate with age or "down cycle", like with paper and plastic recycling. The Glass Packaging Institute , an excellent source for this topic states that, "recycling one glass bottle can save enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for four hours or a computer for 30 minutes."

WhollyTerra , located in Baltimore uses recycled glass to create visually engaging works with a play on light. Steve, the owner of WhollyTerra, isn’t limited to a window transom or picture frames but makes bowls, candle-holders and other outdoor ornaments, including bird houses. I recently found a happy customer and Baltimore resident here.

A sampling of sources for reclaimed, repurposed, and recycled glass items:

Maryland Mosaic is a full service supply company offering everything for mosaic tile work to the beginner and the experienced artist. They offer the Organiks line, which is a 100% recycled glass mosaic tile. This is great news for the East Coast! Until recently, the only source for this was out of  California.

The Green Glass Company is based in Weston, Wisconsin. They are the largest producer of reclaimed glassware in the world. Known best for their patented winebottle-to-glass, they also make vases, candle holders, and a clever coatrack. Their products are available in a number of Baltimore-area stores; check their store locator for up-to-date information.

You can even build a Buddhist Temple with glass bottles. The Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew temple, about 600 km (370 miles) northeast of Bangkok, is better known as "Wat Lan Kuad" or "Temple of Million Bottles."

Find other Bmore crafts at the Baltimore By Hand blog.

Comment and tell us your recycled glass ideas!
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Poster Restoration

photo by: alyssa

The Poster Restoration Company has been specializing in archival canvas mounting and paper restoration of vintage, prints, posters and lobby cards for over 20 years. Owner Sei Peterson, a musician and artist in his own right, is a master of his craft and employs a talented team of graduates from the Maryland Institute College of Art . Located just blocks from Penn Station and the Charles Theater .

Baltimore Treasures

photo by: alyssa

A couple of years ago, I worked for a Poster Restoration Company and walked passed this impressive fence design every day. I knew nothing of its creator, but could tell that the posts are made from chunks of salvaged concrete. Natural builders have coined the name "urbanite" for this repurposed concrete material. (Yes — that’s "urbanite" — same name as our beloved local magazine !) I was particularly impressed with the detailed wood cuts that form so nicely around the posts.

Read on to see other uses for urbanite. Continued