Posts Tagged ‘recycling’
The “Impact Designers” are a dynamic duo of Earthkeeper heroes using their design skills to battle social and environmental problems. Sami Nerenberg and Nate Bastien first met at the Rhode Island School of Design where Nate was Sami’s star student, and now both are committed to sharing their professional passion and expertise to create positive impact.
While Sami has been managing a 6-week eco-design boot camp, Nate has been busy with his own project — designing environmentally-responsible products for marginalized communities and the organizations that serve them. First up, a low-cost, durable backpack designed for people experiencing homelessness. The need behind the design, in Nate’s own words:
“Because the shelters are only open at night, you are forced out on the streets between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm every day. And don’t expect the shelter to provide any storage for your belongings, the conditions can be so poor and degrading that some individuals actually prefer to sleep on the streets or in a tent. In both cases, homeless individuals, and all of their belongings, are exposed to the weather every day. Through these conversations I recognized a design opportunity – displaced individuals need a means to carry their belongings that is affordable, durable, and waterproof. And why tap into virgin materials when there are heaps of quality materials heading to the landfill right now.”
The result is a waterproof, durable, adjustable Street Pack, made from discarded materials and featuring a multi-functional emergency shelter / solar blanket. Nate field-tested the pack himself during his 3-day Boston street retreat, and now he’s looking for other volunteers. If you (or a friend) are currently living on the streets and are interested in testing one of the first production Street Packs, please let Nate know. Testers will receive a free prototype of the Street Pack, along with a disposable camera … in return, they’ll be asked to use it and provide feedback (via photos and testimonials) on the pack’s functionality and durability.
Stay tuned as Nate and Sami share their observations and experiences in designing for positive impact both here on Earthkeepers and on their pages at Changents.com.
When he’s not logging swim hours in the Atlantic Ocean, Earthkeeper Hero Christopher Swain takes to dry land to educate the public about pollution and the need for cleaner waterways. In Philadelphia last week, Christopher staged an Ethical Electronics Recycling Event where more than 11,000 pounds of discarded and outdated consumer electronics (commonly known as “e-waste”) were collected for recycling and, when possible, reuse.
What’s the link between your old computer and the clean ocean Christopher Swain is advocating for? In his own words:
If these devices get tipped into a landfill, or dumped on the ground in Asia or Africa, they vomit their toxic contents–mercury, lead, arsenic, barium, hexavalent chromium, and other nasty compounds–into the environment. This pollutes nearby lands and waterways, and eventually, the ocean.
Dead dolphins and porpoises have been found with high levels of manmade toxics like brominated fire retardants in their blubber. Have dolphins been fighting fires? Maybe. But a more likely explanation is that they have eaten fish from oceans contaminated with the same chemical powders that grace the insides of our cell phones and laptops.
That’s scary enough to make any Earthkeeper give up his or her electronic gadget habit … or at least find a safe home for those dead iPods and laptops.
You can read more about Christopher’s work to clean up our e-waste in his blog post on Changents.com. And if you’re interested in organizing an electronics recycling event for your community, visit Christopher’s website.
A few weeks ago, we posted about the need for less “stuff” in our world (and in our landfills … and in our closets) and making sure the stuff we do have is more durable than disposable.
It’s a great premise … but eventually we outgrow some of even the most durable stuff and then what? Are you destined to have a garage full of old toys, electronics, chipped plates and dusty lamps because you don’t want to add them to the dump pile?
Not by a long shot. The online recycling community is growing every day – and just as one person’s trash is another’s treasure, there’s an online swap site for virtually everything you need (or, need to get rid of). Freecycle is perhaps one of the best-known and most widespread online recycling networks, with an estimated 5 ½ million members and more than 4,000 “communities” across the globe, and many other “mainstream” options exist, including:
- Craigslist.org (most items are for sale but there is a free section)
In addition, there are specialty swap sites for everything from college textbooks (socialbib.com) to children’s toys and gear (zwaggle.com) to music, DVDs and video games (swaptree.com). We even found one where you can swap that gift card you received for the store you never shop at for another gift card you might actually use (swapagift.com).
Swapping puts your used stuff where it can do the most good – in the hands of someone who needs it – rather than in a landfill. (Plus, it makes space in your house for the 3 things you find on Freecycle that you suddenly can’t live without.)
Our thanks to the Lean Green Family for inspiring this post and reminding us that it’s better to give than to throw away.