Friday, March 30, 2007

Ocean Safe Biodegradable Plastic


Throwing plastic overboard might be an option for ships in the future. At The University of Southern Mississippi, scientists have been studying and creating plastics that degrade in saltwater into nontoxic and natural byproducts within as little as 20 days.

Ships are currently required by maritime law to be store plastic waste onboard until they can be emptied at port. Unfortunately, not all plastic waste is properly disposed at port and it ends up in the oceans. By creating different types of biodegradable plastics, the scientists hope to replace all varieties of plastics used on cargo ships and eliminate the problem of plastic ocean waste.

Ironically, dumping plastic in the oceans will need to be legalized before their product can be legally used. They have some time however since the biodegradable plastics are still in development, as tests need to be done to see if they will degrade in different ocean environments.


Via TrendHunter


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

EcoPods - Last Chance to Go Green

The EcoPod, Recycled Content Coffin

Ecopods are environmentally sound coffins made from 100% recycled paper and natural hardeners. The company ARKA has attracted orders from around the world for their green design coffins.

Made from ecologically sound materials the Ecopod is the ideal product for a non toxic burial or cremation. Perfect for use in greenfield sites.

The pods, which can be decorated and lined with materials to suit individual's preferences, are made from hardened newspaper and toxin free glue. When buried they decompose quickly and without pollution. This concept has won Ecopod designer Hazel Selene the British House of Parliament Gold Apple award which recognizes companies than try to preserve the environment.

Hazel started thinking about coffin design when helping to care for a dying friend. “I felt the shape of the traditional coffin had been with us for many years and had become associated with negative icons such as vampires. I wanted to design something beautiful, ethical and made out of recycled materials.


Monday, March 26, 2007

Renewable Fuel

I follow the work of the Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group (AIDG) pretty closely. Through education and business development AIDG promotes sustainable technologies that improve the quality of life in developing countries. AIDG has identified several sustainable technologies that can be made locally, with local “eco-engineers. One technology AIDG is promoting in Guatemala is the use of Biodigesters.

Biodigesters are appropriate technologies that take advantage of the energy that is naturally present in animal waste and kitchen trash. As these waste products break down, whether in the ground, a compost heap, landfill, or biodigester, they release methane, a potent greenhouse gas. In contrast to the other waste storage and disposal methods mentioned, a biodigester traps the methane before it becomes a problem and stores it for heating and cooking. In this way, biodigesters can provide a sustainable substitute for the propane, kerosene, and firewood that many rural families in developing countries use to serve these needs. For those families that have to buy their fuel, a biodigester can save them hundreds of U.S. dollars every year. For those that cut trees down for firewood, a biodigester will save them time and help to prevent the deforestation that is becoming prevalent in places where large numbers of people still gather their own firewood.

Biodigesters also create high quality fertilizer.

In a biodigester, animal waste is converted into biogas and fertilizer. Apart from providing fuel to the family that uses it, a biodigester is also a source of high quality organic fertilizer the family can use on its crops. During the decomposition process in the biodigester, the waste is also sterilized. This means that animal manure, which has caused many health problems in developing countries when placed on fields with close to the ground crops such as lettuce or cabbage, can be used without fear of causing sickness. Disease causing bacteria, such as E. Coli, are killed inside the biodigester and never make contact with the plants.

In households that use biodigester gas instead of wood to cook with there is a measurable improvement in the occupants health. (Link)

Introducing this simple technology reduces pressure on natural forests, provides free high quality fertilizer, reduces food borne illness due to E. Coli, improves health and saves money. This is a win-win-win-win-win technology.

(some text above was taken from the AIDG website)

Link to a National Public Radio Podcast on AIDG work in Guatemala.