Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Rubbersidewalks: From Garbage to Gold

In 2001, outraged at seeing 26 trees marked for destruction in her Gardena (Calif.) neighborhood because their growth was damaging area sidewalks, Lindsay Smith, a Hollywood screenwriter, unwittingly became an activist and an entrepreneur, soon launching Rubbersidewalks. "These were healthy, mature trees that were being destroyed because the city couldn't afford to repair the broken sidewalks," she says. "We weren't even given the opportunity to weigh in on the choice."

Smith went into action. "It turns out this was a really big problem," she says. And not just in her neighborhood. According to Rubbersidewalks, 330,000 miles of U.S. sidewalks are damaged annually. Moreover, many municipalities simply cut down the trees because it has become too costly to constantly repair the sidewalks.

After doing some investigating, Smith got a grant from the state of California to do research on using rubber pavers as a substitute for concrete sidewalks. Smith spent two years in R&D, eventually coming up with a product made entirely of recycled rubber tires.

Rubbersidewalks are a cost-effective and environmentally sound solution to the chronic problems caused by tree-lined sidewalks. Cities across the country struggle with the public safety concerns and financial burdens posed by tree roots lifting concrete sidewalks. Rubbersidewalks' modular sidewalk system allows air and water to easily reach soil below so trees develop less aggressive roots, which can be easily maintained during periodic inspection. One-square-foot of Rubbersidewalks recycles waste rubber from one passenger tire and in California alone more than 34 million passenger tires are disposed of each year creating 408 million pounds of waste rubber. Each 20 square foot installation saves one tree from removal Rubbersidewalks' pavers are recollected and recycled at the end of their life cycle.


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