Airline Company Designs Compostable Food Boxes

Everything from cereal boxes to egg cartons should be disposed of in the recycle bin rather than being dumped in the garbage. A little recycling can really go a long way in helping the environment. Aside from individuals, some companies are also striving to make their products more sustainable. A Swedish Airline company is now going a step further in making their food boxes compostable.

Malmo Aviation is an airline agency based in Sweden. It has recently released a new form of food boxes that are made from a special type of paperboard that is not only compostable but also saves space and helps extends the shelf life of the food it holds.

The paper is made from a material called Invercote, which was designed by Malmo Aviation along with the catering company Pcknick and Omikron. Invercote is designed to keep the food inside it fresh and prevent the contents from fogging. It is made from bioplastic, which means that it also can be thrown into the compost heap along with other scraps of food. This makes it far more efficient than the standard food box container.

Aside from being environmentally friendly, they are also smaller in size and weight. This makes them easier to handle, load and serve to passengers during a flight. Tony Noren, who is the CEO of Omikron, commented that the new food boxes can reduce the need for storage space by half in airliners. In addition, the food will also retain its freshness longer and is less impactful on the environment.

With Invercote boxes, the packaging is just as biodegradable as the food itself. This means that it can be used for composting with the material being returned to the source from which it was derived from. This way, nothing is gone to waste and everything is reused and returned to the environment.

Have A Paperless Holiday Season

The holidays are notorious for wasting paper. Wrapping paper for gifts have a way of finding themselves in dumpsters and trash cans across the world toward the end of the year. If you’re looking for a great way to cut down on your carbon footprint and save a little money in the process, you can use wrapping paper alternatives. These are commonly found around your home and can even give your holiday some uniqueness. Here are some wrapping paper alternatives to get you started.


Fabric wrapping paper is a very unique way to wrap your gifts. It’s very easy to use this. Lay a piece of fabric flat and then set your gift in the middle. Pull all of the sides of the fabric up so that the ends meet each other. Tie a ribbon around the ends so the gift if concealed.

Comic Strips

The newspaper is another alternative to wrapping paper, but you don’t want a horrible news story as the centerpiece for the gift you’re giving your mother. Comic strips are harmless and colorful. Wrap your gifts in the comic strips and then put a bow on top of it. This adds a little more of the holiday to the gift without taking away from its uniqueness.


Almost everybody has leftover wallpaper in his or her basement or attic. Scour your home for any leftover wallpaper from when you redid your kitchen or bathroom. Set the gift in the middle and wrap it with the patterned side of the wallpaper on the outside. The patterns on wallpaper are very similar to regular wrapping paper so your gift will not stand out under the tree.


Many people simply chuck their old calendars. If you have last year’s calendar laying around the house, take a pair of scissors to it and cut out the different pages. When calendars come apart the pages might not be able to handle bigger gifts so keep this in mind. Calendars are great for smaller gifts.

Old Maps

Old maps work well because they are usually pretty big. If you have old maps lying around your house and you know that you’re not going to use them again, wrap your gifts with the outlines of your surrounding area. This makes for a unique look and is very green.

China Cracking Down on Gutter Oil

Police in China have detained 32 people in a nationwide crackdown on “gutter oil“, or illegally recycled old kitchen oil. The campaign is part of an attempt to clean up China’s food safety record following several scandals, such as the deadly infant formula and pork tainted with clenbuterol, a forbidden chemical used to make pork leaner. The Ministry of Public Security in China said in a statement on its website that police have seized 100 tons of the harmful oil in 14 separate provinces.

Six workshops were closed down including one that was operated by Jinan Green Bio Oil Co., a business which claimed to be turning kitchen oil into fuel but that was actually churning out recycled cooking oil which it passed off as safe and new oil. Recycled oil usually contains carcinogens and small traces of aflatoxin, a deadly mold.

The statement said:

“Not only did we destroy a criminal chain that was illegally turning gutter oil into food oil, we also unveiled the greed of the criminals and pulled back the curtain on the immoral acts of those producing this poisonous and harmful food oil…”

Last year, the State Council, China’s Cabinet, said businesses using recycled oil would be forced to temporarily close or lose their business licenses and that the peddlers who sold the oil are now liable to be criminally prosecuted.

Chinese consumers in recent years are horrified by a series of food safety scandals, such as fish treated with cancer-causing antimicrobials, eggs colored with industrial dye and fake liquor which can cause death or at least blindness. Infant formula and milk and laced with the industrial chemical melamine has reportedly been the cause of death of six Chinese schoolchildren and has sickened 300,000 in 2008. The government has responded by enacting an increasingly tough food safety law in 2009 which promised harsher penalties for makers of tainted products.

Austin Ramzy of Time Magazine writes:

The gutter oil crackdown is just part of a broader effort to control China’s continuing food safety worries. As we wrote earlier this summer, the crackdown has been making headlines with more than 2,000 arrests. But such strike-hard tactics are only part of the equation, and cleaning up the food chain in China will require sustained effort. As food safety expert He Dongping noted last year in an interview with the China Youth Daily, it might take ten years before the country cleans up its gutter oil problem. That’s hardly reassuring for Chinese consumers.

Recycling in West Bridgewater

It will be requested of residents of West Bridgewater Massachusetts next month to increase their recycling efforts.

BridgewaterStarting the first day of July, the West Bridgewater transfer station will accept computer monitors, mercury-based items like fluorescent lighting tubes, computer printer ink cartridges, waste oil and car batteries.

Transfer station attendant Rich Jefferson:

“An ongoing problem for us is that some people are still throwing recycling in the trash and it hikes disposal fees for the town…We do have bins for plastic, tin, glass, and cardboard, and about 70 percent of the residents are actively recycling but about 30 percent of the residents still aren’t doing it…One problem I’m seeing is an attitude of being lazy with recycling…but rates will go up and then sticker costs will go up…“Volunteers are available to assist residents during the week after 11:30 a.m. at the transfer station and all day on Saturdays…”

The SEMASS Resource Recovery Facility charges West Bridgewater about $140 per load for trash disposal, that contains eight to 12 tons per haul. The town averages 12 to 20 loads per month. Currently residents pay $65 per year per vehicle just for a transfer station sticker

Sup? Suberra, That’s Sup!

Suberra CorkAfter cork bark, the wood used to make wine bottle corks, is plugged, it may be fashioned into a durable, high-density slab called Suberra by the Eco Supply Center in Richmond, Virginia. This company has compress post-industrial recycled cork grain with a polyurethane binder to create 1-1/4 inch composite slabs, 25-1/2 inches wide by 36-1/2 inches long.

Cork is made from Cork Oak bark which regenerates hastily. It is composed of suberin, a water-repelling and waxy substance. Suberra gets its name from this substance.

The material may be installed using woodworking tools and standard adhesives, according to the Eco Supply Center. Suberra may also contribute to LEED in the renewable, recycled content and no-added urea formaldehyde provisions.

According to lab tests, Suberra has a fire rating of Class B and a good resistance to stain and abrasion (except for mustard, ammonia and black shoe polish in raw, unfinished samples). Each slab weighs about 31 pounds and may be used to make vanities, tables, desks, kitchen islands, countertops, and other surfaces.

Suberra usually goes for about $250-$300 per slab.

Here Comes Recycling Day

With America Recycles Day rolling in on Monday, now might be a good time to contemplate the impact of digital technology on waste.

Try and visualize the obsolete cell phones, TVs, computers, modems, and tangle of wires sitting somewhere in your home; I would guess many have electronic stuff around collecting dust. The EPA estimates that there were 2.25 million tons of PCs, peripherals, TVs, and phones discarded in 2007, nationwide and e-waste is the fastest growing category of waste.

Now, think about what all of this tech equipment is made of: more than 1,000 materials go into the making of electronics, some of which are nasty chemicals, according to the Electronics Takeback Coalition. Heavy metals, including lead, cadmium and mercury, are standard fare for the insides of Television’s, computers, and other electronics.

There are many health risks during the production of these products, though the greatest potential health impact is at the end of life, according to ETC. In order to avoid getting these toxins from stinking up landfills or being burned at incinerators, it is important to recycle or donate them.

First, you’ll want to recycle and collect the electronics already in your possession. Cell phones are the easiest thing to recycle, because many manufacturers will pay for shipping to return old phones and many stores now offer drop-off bins. Work through all of the junk in the house, and good luck!

How to Keep it Green in a Country That Doesn’t Care

The federal government will be turning a cold shoulder to clean-air campaigning as more climate change deniers will find a new stage and microphone on the Hill.

So what are some doing to fight back?

Alden Wicker of the Huffington Post has an interesting scoop: while the federal government may be “hamstrung by man-made climate change deniers and dirty energy lobbyists,” several steadfast state governments are going-it-alone on the righteous crusade. Big Oil’s Proposition 23 was recently crushed by California voters, and the Western Climate Initiative, spawned in 2007, will successfully unite seven states and four Canadian provinces in a large emissions market by 2012.

Meanwhile, on the corporate front, a number of New Jersey Wal-Mart parking lots now have a method for making alchemical monetary profit of consumer product waste.

Terracycle has installed the Store Collection Systems, a 20-foot trailer which accepts all kinds of packaging that cannot be recycled in the normal domestic blue bin. They take the mostly plastic waste and turn them into products to resell in stores and online; making mostly bags, pouches, coolers, picture frames and fertilizer.

Terracycle pays three cents for every piece of waste deposited. Wal-Mart, who already participates in other forms of sustainable business is happy to have Terracycle in their parking lots.

Since their launch in 2001, Terracycle has reclaimed more than $1.85 billion pieces of non-recyclable packaging.

If you are not in the New Jersey area, you can send Terracycle your waste by mail; the shipping cost will be on them.

Making the Change Can Make All the Difference: Switching from Bottled to Tap Water

Can you believe it? Last year Americans spent nearly $11 billion on over 8 billion gallons of bottled water. That’s a lot of water! Wanna know what they did with the empty bottles? They mindlessly tossed them in the trash, over 22 billion of them. The more than 70 million bottles of water which are consumed each day in America drain 1.5 billion barrels of oil, in the course of a year.

Water BottlesWhat can be done? Ban the plastic bottle! San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order last June which bars the San Fran city government from using city money to supply municipal workers with bottled water.

New York City residents consume nearly 28 gallons of bottled water each year. The city government launched an ad campaign to encourage residents and tourists to use the city’s tap rather than buy bottled water. New York City water is considered some of the best quality in the country. Classy restaurants in Boston, New York and San Francisco have taken bottled water off of the menu, offering rather filtered tap water.

Not only does bottled water contribute to excessive waste, but it costs us a thousand times more than water from our faucet at home, and it is, in fact, no safer or cleaner. A 1999 Natural Resources Defense Council study found that tap water may even be of a higher quality than bottled.

So why not make the switch? It is yet another win/win situation for person and environmental health!

Get A Bucket, Reroute your Laundry Runoff, Water a Garden

organic vegtetable gardenDo you have an organic vegetable garden? After the stock market crash of ’08, chances are considerably higher that you do. The home and garden division of Target and other various megastores are reporting an unprecedented increase in the sale of gardening equipment, plants, and seeds, as people try to cut down on their food bills. Numbers have it that the cost/benefit analysis, once you get your garden turning on all cylinders, is about 15 to 1. So here’s a simple idea for those of you who want to do even more to organically cut corners and save even more for the environment: Get your hands on a giant bucket, reroute your laundry pipe to the bucket, cleverly acquire some biodegradable laundry detergent, do a load, and water your garden with the runoff.

This is also especially useful in drought-stricken areas like Israel, where watering your garden these days will cost you about $5 for every cubic meter you use beyond your quota. I hear things are getting bad in California as well.

biodegradable detergentBut why biodegradable? I found out why yesterday, when I absentmindedly suggested to my wife that we pull the laundry hose out of the drain in the floor and put it in my giant empty bucket which I normally use for the primary fermentation stage of home brewing beer. (More on that later.) “Why?” she asked me, as wives often do. “So we can water the garden with the runoff and all the neighbors can be in awe of our giant and firm vegetables,” I answered proudly. Granted, the only thing we have in the garden right now is a budding tomato plant we accidentally planted there after burying compost, most likely including a tomato, in a hole 3 months ago.

I figured the replumbing operation was a good idea, until she informed me that toxic heavily-chlorinated, non-biodegradable detergent doesn’t do well for plants, contaminating groundwater, or keeping DNA generally unmutated, and do you want our accidental tomato plant to die in a hell storm of detergent chemicals?

I said no. And that’s when I knew, somewhere deep inside me, that purchasing an organic biodegradable detergent would solve the entire problem. So pick one up. Do some plumbing. Save some water. Grow a garden. Laugh at your neighbors in contempt for not being as thrifty and environmentally conscious as you. Revel in your victory.