Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Recycling: man builds house out of 13,500 plastic bottles!

A Serbian pensioner is hoping to get in the record books by building a house, completely out of plastic bottles.

Tomislav Radovanovic, from the central town of Kragujevac, celebrated his retirement by moving into the unique house, which he created out of 13,500 bottles in five years, reports Ananova.

According to the national news agency Tanjug, all parts of the house are made of plastic bottles that Tomislav had been collecting for years, except for the foundation, which is of concrete.
Tomislav, who hopes to enter the Guinness Book of Records with his spectacular effort, said, that even the kitchen furniture and windows are made of plastic bottles.

Tomislav, who worked as a professor of mathematics before his retirement, said, his former students helped him put up the structure by collecting bottles.


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Monday, August 27, 2007

Biofuels Costing the Earth?

Increasing amounts of biofuels (substitutes for petrol or diesel made from crops such as sugar cane, beet, maize, wheat, oilseed rape and oil palm) are being produced to reduce the carbon dioxide impact of transport. But the World Land Trust argues this requires vast areas of land and is not the best way of using land to mitigate climate change. The WLT would like us all to consider the knock on effects of the increase in demand for Biofules which they feel are not currently being acknowledged. As we produce more and more rape seed here in the UK to cope with demand we leave the third world to produce our fruit and cereals which in turn forces them to clear more endangered habitat at the same time as significantly clocking up the UK's food miles. And let's not forget how the elephants of India or orangutans of Borneo who suffer in our race to find a so called 'green fuel'.

Renton Righelato of the World Land Trust and Dominick Spracklen of the University of Leeds show that much more carbon dioxide emissions can be avoided by protecting the remaining forest we have and restoring forest on arable land that is not needed for food production (Science, 17th August 2007). They argue that policy-makers would be better advised to focus on increasing the efficiency of fossil fuel use and developing carbon-free transport fuels to replace fossil hydrocarbons. Existing forests and savannahs should be conserved and natural forest and grassland habitats restored. In addition to reducing net carbon dioxide flux to the atmosphere, conversion of large areas of land back to secondary forest provides other environmental services (such as prevention of desertification, provision of forest products, maintenance of biological diversity and regional climate regulation), whereas conversion of large areas of land to make biofuels will place additional strains on the environment.


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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

U.S. House passes green energy bill

The House of Representatives just passed an energy bill, 241-172, that includes a renewable electricity standard (RES) of 15 percent by 2020, strong lighting efficiency standards, increased incentives for investment in renewable energy, and safeguards to protect sensitive public lands from oil and gas drilling. The House failed to vote on fuel economy improvements. The RES requires utilities to obtain at least 15 percent of their power from a combination of energy efficiency and renewable sources such as wind, solar and biomass energy by 2020.
“By passing the renewable electricity standard the House of Representatives has taken a real step forward in enacting the clean energy policies we need to reduce global warming pollution. This shows the House is ready to take strong action on global warming in the fall,” said Karen Wayland, legislative director at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “We need this same leadership in the conference committee. By combining a strong renewable energy standard with the Senate’s fuel economy improvements, this Congress can make a serious down payment on preventing the worst impacts of global warming.”
Measures that were not included in the House bill but must be addressed in the conference committee with the Senate to make meaningful reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and protect the environment are:
  • Matching the Senate’s fuel economy improvement provision of 35 miles per gallon by 2020.
  • Adequate safeguards to ensure that intensive biofuels production does not result in water pollution, habitat destruction, or loss of forests.
  • A greenhouse gas standard that would require advance biofuels to emit 50 percent less global warming pollution than gasoline.
“America needs the president to sign an energy bill with a renewable electricity standard and fuel economy improvements, and strong incentives for energy efficiency. This will lead to meaningful reductions of global warming pollution and protect our natural resources,” said Wayland.

via NRDC

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Japan looks to turn straw into biofuel amid price crunch

Japan will study turning inedible crops, such as straw, into biofuel to run cars amid concern that the growing popularity of ethanol is inflating food prices, an official said Friday.

Biofuels are seen as alternative clean energy resource which can reduce the dependence on Middle Eastern oil and lessen the impact on global warming.

One biofuel, ethanol, is derived from sugar beets, wheat, corn or sugarcane, leading to concern that reliance on it will push up food prices.

Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will seek a budget of several million dollars to demonstrate that biofuel can be made from rice straw and chaff. "We already have the technology to make ethanol from straw and chaff, but we've only succeeded at the laboratory level," said Eiichiro Kitamura, the official in charge of the project. "What we are trying to do is to collect straw and chaff on a relatively large scale in a local community to make biofuel and then use it for the first time for vehicles and other uses," he told.

Through the experiment, the ministry will also aim to gather information on whether it is economically effective to make biofuel from inedible crops, he said. Rising world reliance on biofuels over the next decade threatens to drive up food prices in poor countries, where they are already facing upward pressure from consumer demand, a joint report by the Food and Agricultural Organisation and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said last month.

"If we can use biofuels from inedible parts of crops, then markets for biofuels and markets for foods would not have to compete," Kitamura said.

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

"Think": a modular, recyclable trainer

"Think" is a modular trainer concept that uses mechanical locks instead of adhesives or cements. Each part of the trainer can be removed, recovered and recycled. Retailers will run a take back scheme offering reductions on the consumer’s next purchase when they return an old part of the trainer. This encourages the consumer to recycle.

The trainer is self-assembly and will come with three variations of each part. Making the shoe self-assembly not only removes the stigma of child labor and sweatshops but also allows the user to constantly update and customize the look to their heart’s content.

via Yanko Design

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