3D Printing Food Waste into Usable Products

Day 233 – I first came across an article about a company in Milan, named Krill Designs, that is transforming inedible food waste into functional homeware products. One of the products is a 3D printed lamp made from orange peels. The “Ohmie” is a compostable lamp made from the peels of two to three oranges that are dried, ground into a powder, and added to a vegetable starch base. That combined material is molded into pellets used in a 3D printing process that layers the material into a textured shade and base. Due to the organic matter that makes up the lamp, the color varies. One of the coolest features is that even as it ages it maintains its citrusy smell.

So, after reading about the orange lamp, I wanted to find out more about 3D printing food waste into usable products. I found two very cool companies that are taking food waste and turning into something quite amazing!

Upprinting Food

Upprinting Food is a company in the Netherlands that is turning food waste into attractive, tasty food using 3D printing.

By blending and combining the different ingredients from residual food flows, purees are created, which then are being 3D printed by a food printer. These prints are baked and dehydrated for crunch and longevity. We currently have created several recipes, both bread, and rice-based, and we are working to create new recipes all the time. We are focusing on collaborations with high-end restaurants to help them reduce their residual food flows and to create a unique dining experience.” – Upprinting Food

Genecis

Genecis is a Canadian company that has figured out a way to recycle food waste and turn it into biodegradable plastics, which can then be used to make everything from 3D printing filament to packaging. Their PHBV plastic has equivalent properties to traditional oil based plastics, without the environmental costs. When the product reaches end of its useful life it can be composted within a month. If it does find its way into the ocean, it degrades within a year.

“Genecis uses biology to convert organic waste into higher value materials. The first product line is PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoates) biopolymers, which is used in combination with PLA to make 3D printing filaments. It is also used to make high-end flexible packaging and containers. In addition, PHAs makes a tougher and less brittle 3D printing filament. The end product is 100 percent biodegradable, and can be mixed with a variety of colors,” explained Luna Yu, the Founder and CEO of Genecis. “Currently, all PHAs are made from expensive food crops such as corn, sugar cane, and canola. Genecis has developed a novel technology that produces PHAs from mixed food waste, dramatically reducing the production costs.”

The technology is there to help numerous problems that plague our planet. Food waste and plastic pollution could be a thing of the past if companies decide to tap into these brilliant solutions.

Tomorrow, we are at a point where we need to cover our mountains in order to save the snow caps.

Back to School Tips

Day 229 – On Day 151, I wrote about GotSneakers, a FREE sneaker recycling program for individual sellers and organizations of all types and sizes. I have partnered with GotSneakers to resell, donate or recycle the sneakers we collect during the Northcenter Neighborhood Association Recycle Popup.

GotSneakers sent out a newsletter that listed a number of great suggestions to ensure a more sustainable school year.

  1. Reuse What You Can: Reusing items helps to avoid polluting the environment and eliminate unnecessary costs.  See which items from last year can be reused like pencil sharpeners, pens, erasers, and pencil cases.
  2. Look for Items Made from Recycled Materials: For the items you need to purchase new, look for brands the promote sustainability through the use of recycled materials.  Even better if the products you buy have certifications such as Green Seal, Safer Choice, and the Forest Stewardship Council.
  3. Prepare Zero Waste Lunches: Stock up on reusable containers, water bottles, and lunch boxes to help make zero waste lunches! There are many products that help to keep your child’s lunch fresh and make sure it doesn’t get squished.
  4. Refresh Your Child’s Closet Sustainably: Let’s face it, most kids love showing off their latest outfits — especially on the first day of school.  While taking the time to research brands that are eco-friendly, make sure you are recycling your family’s clothing.

Lastly, did you know that it can take between 30-40 years for sneakers to fully decompose in landfills?  GotSneakers has a solution – send your footwear to them where they will make sure it gets recycled or reused. You can also drop off your sneakers at the monthly Northcenter Neighborhood Association Recycle Popup.

Consider starting your school year with a school wide sneaker drive fundraiser.

Tomorrow,  questions about recycling nail polish.

World’s First Second-Hand Mall

Day 227 – Imagine a mall full of stores offering merchandise that is all second-hand. Aisles and shelves full of items given up by their original owners, but still in good condition and ready to be useful for someone else. The U.S. has stores, like Goodwill, that offer second-hand items for the fraction of their original cost. However, in Sweden, they have created an entire mall dedicated to keeping reusable items out of the landfill.

In Eskilstuna, Sweden, a one-of-kind shopping experience is happening at ReTuna. Not only are they selling second-hand merchandise, but also upcyled items, as well. Filled with 14 second-hand shops, a conference space, and an eco-friendly cafe, ReTuna is a shopping space, but also a place of education and inspiration. It houses a design school, where students learn how to incorporate recycled materials into their designs. There are also art installations (made from recycled materials) which fill the space between the boutiques and cafe. Shops in the mall offer fashion, children’s goods, technology and more.

What makes ReTuna different is that it’s located next to the local recycling center, where the goods to be repurposed are collected. The collection station, Returen, receives, sorts through and distributes the goods to the appropriate stores inside the mall according to the assortment description in every shop’s business plan. The shop then sorts through the goods again, and repairs and upcycles things, prices them and puts them up for sale.

In 2018, Retuna sold second-goods worth $1.3 million. If Sweden can do it, there is no reason why this business model couldn’t work everywhere. It’s not only good for business, but it’s good for the planet!

To watch a video about ReTuna, click HERE.

Tomorrow, recycling your mattress just got easier.

Eco-Friendly Back to School Bags

Day 223 – A couple days ago I wrote about sustainable options for school supplies. Well, now you need something to hold all that stuff. As mentioned on Monday, the most eco-friendly thing you can do when it comes to back to school supplies is to reuse items from the previous year. School bags are one of the easiest things to use year after year. There’s no doubt bags may not last a second or third year and it may be difficult to convince the middle schooler that the unicorn backpack is still cool, but making the effort to try to reuse or find someone else that can, is helpful.

If you are in need of new bag, I put together a few eco-friendly options. Rareform – They use recycled billboard vinyl and turn it into unique, durable bags. Over the past seven years they have repurposed 3 million pounds of vinyl that was destined for landfills. Rareform’s Blake Tote made it under our Christmas tree last year. They are well made, easy to clean and weather resistant. No two bags are the same.

Ecogear – Their bags are made from Repreve. Repreve is recycled fiber created from plastic bottles.

thredUP – They don’t just offers secondhand clothing, but also offer bags and backpacks. They have some of the world’s largest and high-quality brands for up to 90 percent off.

Beekeeper Parade – These backpacks are on the high end of pricing. However, if you are looking for a one of kind bag, you will find it here. The bags are made using discarded textiles and fabric remnants from local factories that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill. Every purchase helps children in rural Cambodia access quality education.

Jansport – This brand has always been my go to for backpacks. Jansport has started to use recycled plastic in their bags. They also offer a Lifetime Warranty on their backpacks.

As more and more companies are offering products that can either be reused, made with recycled materials or created using earth friendly materials, we need to make an effort to find and support these companies.

Tomorrow, saving the elephants.

Sustainable School Supplies

Day 221 – When I was a kid I loved going out and getting new school supplies. Fresh box of crayons, the crispness of a brand new notebook, it all made me excited for a new school year. Fast forward a few decades and now I have come to realize how the whole process is a real pain. I can’t say there is anything that gets me excited about school supplies these days, that’s until I started looking for eco-friendly alternatives to the usual back to school items. I can’t say it’s an easy process, but in the end finding items that are good for the planet is quite rewarding.

The most eco-friendly thing you can do when preparing for the new school year is to take stock of what materials you have from the previous year. More times than not, you will find numerous things that can be reused. After taking inventory of previously used supplies, I ended up with 34 folders, 16 notebooks, 4 graph paper notebooks and 2 composition notebooks. This is just from one household with 4 kids. Imagine what could be rescued from a school at the end of the year.

For this post I took a few items from the supply list given by my kids’ elementary school. I knew I was going to have to go rogue after looking at the list. A few of the name brands they listed have no sustainable options. So, they were not going to be an option for me.

On the left is the requested item and on the right is the eco-friendly alternative I found. I will warn you, when it comes to wanting to do good for the planet, it usually comes with a price. That price is reflected in the cost of the items. Sadly, it’s not in everyone’s budget to go with the more environmentally friendly option. If it’s in your budget, I highly suggest you consider a few of these alternatives.

  1. Kleenex brand tissueCaboo Tree Free Bamboo Facial Tissue – Tree-Free facial tissue wipes made from sustainably grown Bamboo & Sugarcane, both are fast growing grasses giving you a natural, sustainable , and eco friendly alternative to traditional tree-based facial tissues.
  2. Bounty paper towelsEcoFirst Recycled Paper Towel – Produced from 100% recycled paper, whitened without chlorine bleaching, and free of any dyes, inks or fragrances
  3. White copy paperPrintworks 100% Recycled Multipurpose Paper – 100 percent post-consumer recycled printer paper, made in the USA from recycled food and beverage containers and other paper-based printed materials.
  4. College ruled notebook paperEcology Recycled Filler Paper – Ecology Recycled Filler Paper contains 100 percent total recycled content with 40 percent post-consumer fiber. Plus, 40 percent of the power used to produce this paper is from hydro power. Made in the USA.
  5. Hand sanitizerPipette Hand Sanitizer – Eliminate 99.99% of many harmful germs and bacteria to keep all hands healthy and germ free; Now EWG Verified to ensure the highest standard if safety.
  6. Clorox wipesClorox Compostable Wipes – EPA Safer Choice certified Clorox compostable cleaning wipes are durable and made from plant based fibers that are compostable in municipal composting facilities.
  7. PencilsRecycled Newspaper Pencils – Made from 100% recycled papers. Reusable box made of recycled paper too! Tree free, eco-friendly and biodegradable.
  8. PensBic Ecolutions – Made with 74% recycled plastic or Pilot B2P Bottle-2-pen – Made of recycled plastic bottles.
  9. HighlightersDry Highlighter Pencils – Plastic free highlighters
  10. Post-it-notesPost-it Greener Notes – Made with water-based adhesive and 100% recycled paper.
  11. Colored pencilsRecycled Newspapers Plantable Color Pencils – These Pencils Are Made From 100% Recycled Newspapers. After Finish Using It Follow the Steps GIven Back Side of Case and See New Life Growing
  12. Composition notebookRoaring Spring Environotes Recycled Composition Book – Wide ruled book containing 80 sheets has cover as well as back with 100% recycled content. It comprises of 30% recycled along with extra 30% post consumer waste. Made in the USA.
  13. FoldersOxford Earthwise Recycled Folders – Twin Pocket Folder are made from 100 percent post consumer fiber and 100 percent recycled fiber
  14. Glue stickElmer’s Natural Glue Stick – Made from plants with over 88% natural ingredients and container made with 25% post-industrial recycled plastic.

With the start of a new school year, finding new ways to help the planet is very important.

Tomorrow, Chicago’s waste report.

Green & Grumpy: Your Guide to Sustainable Living

Day 218Green and Grumpy is a website with a great deal of information. They cover topics like recycling, climate change, yard and garden, reduce and reuse, green products and much more. Their tagline reads, “It ain’t easy being green. Practical sustainable living ideas for real, imperfect people.” And that’s why it’s such a great resource. They don’t expect you to do everything perfectly. They realize that people want to help the environment, but are not always sure how to do it. They give practical, useful information that people can use in their day to day lives. Information that will direct them to the best practices for a more environmentally friendly way of life.

Their articles include subjects like:

Do I Need to Rinse Recyclables?

Yes, recycling is broken. It’s still worth doing.

Biodegradable vs. Compostable – What the difference?

How to Waste Less Food

Can I Recycle Tea Tins, Coffee Cans and Cookie Tins?

I hope my daily posts on ways to save the planet are helpful, but I do think having more places to find information is important. The easier it is to understand how to live a more sustainable life, the easier it is to implement the changes needed to be successful in reaching your goals.

Tomorrow, an organization helping furnish homes for people exiting homelessness.

Plastic Free Doesn’t Have to Only Last a Month

Day 212 – July has come to an end and so has Plastic Free July. However, it doesn’t mean you have to stop making an effort to remove plastic from your everyday use. All month, I wrote about ways we can replace single-use plastic with reusable options. I wrote about companies using recycled plastic in their products to help minimize the plastic entering our landfills, oceans and waterways. Hopefully, it inspired you to make some changes and to encourage others to do the same.

Plastic Oceans has created a list of 9 things we can do to help end plastic pollution.

Continue to find ways to eliminate single-use plastic from your life. The fight for the health of our planet is far from over. Stay informed and consider receiving updates and newsletters from Plastic Ocean.

Tomorrow, summer’s not over yet, sustainable flip flops.

Reusable Takeout Containers

Day 211 – The number of plastic takeout containers we collect at the monthly Northcenter Neighborhood Association Recycle Popup is significant. When I think about the number of plastic and polystyrene disposable takeout containers used day in and day out, across the city, the state, throughout the country, and around the planet, it makes my head hurt. There is a solution to this problem and people are beginning to take action.

In New York, the restaurant DIG (691 Broadway in Manhattan), has started a program called Canteen. Those who enroll in the program will install a smartphone app, Canteen by Dig, and consent to a fee of $3 a month for the service. In return, they’ll be able to take their lunch with them in a hard-shelled, reusable bowl made from black melamine, complete with a white plastic lid. 

Here’s how it works:

  1. Create your account to start using Canteen by Dig. A membership costs $3 per month and allows you to check out one bowl at a time.
  2. Enter the four digit location code and click “Use Canteen Bowl”. Show the Good to Go screen when you place your order to have it packaged in a Canteen Bowl.
  3. By using Canteen by Dig reusable bowls, you’re saving resources, energy, greenhouse gas emissions and single use trash from landfills.
  4. Return the bowl to a participating Dig location. Find the Canteen Bowl Return sign, Open your app, click on the “Return Your Canteen” and scan the QR code on the sign to check the bowl in. Leave the bowl in the designated return container.
  5. There is no limit to the number of times you can check out and return a Canteen Bowl each month, so reuse often.

Before there was Dig, there was Go Box. Go Box started offering reusable takeout containers at food carts in 2015. The program has expanded to include 110 restaurants and food vendors across Portland, Oregon. Consumers purchase monthly subscriptions, which start at $3.95 per month and show a QR code to participating food vendors to have their to-go orders packed in reusable containers. The used containers are deposited in drop boxes at restaurants and participating partners such as bike shops and banks; Go Box washes and sterilizes the reusable container before restocking with vendors.

Companies like RePlated are making reusable food containers for people who want to enjoy takeout, without feeling bad about waste. The containers are designed and made In Australia from recycled plastic. Each lunchbox saves eight soft drink bottles from landfill. RePlated helps businesses build flexible systems to make single-use plastic containers a thing of the past.

More and more companies are popping up to offer this service and it is one we desperately need. We can only hope that reusable takeout containers are not something we have to seek out, but will be part of our everyday takeout experience.

Tomorrow, a look back on Plastic Free July.

Ending the Need for Single-Use Cups

Day 210 – We have all used our share of disposable cups. Maybe it was at a baseball game, music festival, or backyard barbecue. Easily hundreds of cups tossed in the trash. Now multiply that by the billions of people that live on the planet and that is an insane amount of disposable cups sitting in landfills or floating in our oceans and waterways.

Finding a solution to the small events, like the backyard barbecue, isn’t too difficult. Just three days ago, Day 207, I wrote about Preserve. A company that sells plastic reusable cups that are dishwasher safe. However, what about those huge events and gatherings? That’s where Globelet comes in.

Globelet can be found in New Zealand, Australia and the U.S. Though it appears they are more active in New Zealand and Australia.

Here’s how their reusable system works.

  1. Their reusables are manufactured in New Zealand. They now have a range of cups that are made from 100% recycled bottle caps. Their goal is to switch all of their products to recycled materials.
  2. Globelet reusables get delivered to the venue, where they will be used.
  3. At the venue, the attendees purchase their first beverage in one of Globelet’s reusable cups and pay a deposit for it.
  4. Attendees enjoy their drink in one of Globelets various reusables; cup, stemless vino, bottled water, or coffee cup.
  5. Attendees can return their reusable product to the bars or assigned areas to receive a partial refund. They can also choose to keep it and reuse it.
  6. Globelet reusables get collected post event and head to the Better Future Factory to be washed and recounted.
  7. Reusables go through washing and drying machines designed to dry plastic and reduce water consumption.
  8. Cleaned products are stored or returned to the venue. Any damaged products get recycled.

Globelet has kept over 21 million disposable products from going to landfill and oceans for the last 8 years around New Zealand and Australia. This is a system that can easily work worldwide. However, to be successful, we need to change our behavior and realize that reusables need to replace disposables.

Tomorrow, from cups to takeout containers, continuing the talk on reusables.

Fun at the Beach

Day 208 – When you think about items you would need for the beach, I’m sure a towel is high on the list. Beach toys are also a must have. Children of all ages and even children at heart, love playing in the sand. Having good tools to dig those gigantic holes and build epic sandcastles is a must. Today’s post gives a few examples of towels and beach toys made from sustainable materials.

Beach Towels

Rupert and Bird – Each towel consists of fabric made primarily from recycled plastic bottles, equal to twenty-two bottles saved from the ocean or landfill. Each purchase contributes to 1% for the Planet. 

Nomadix – All products are made using certified post-consumer recycled plastic. Thirty plastic bottles equals one Nomadix towel. They also contribute to 1% For The Planet.

Evolve – Ultra-softexclusive Ecolite™ fabric is sustainably made from recycled plastic, with an average of 20 plastic bottles recycled to produce each sand free towel. 10% of all profits are donated to environmental charities. 

Beach Toys 

Love Lotte Eco Beach Toy Set – Made from bamboo fiber, this set is sturdy, but also biodegradable. So, in case anything goes missing, it will breakdown in the sand within 12 months and not become plastic waste. It’s a bit pricey for a beach toy, but knowing you are purchasing a sustainable product is well worth the $36.

Green Toys – I wrote about Green Toys on Day 152. Green Toys are made from 100% recycled plastic. They contain no BPA, phthalates, PVC, or external coatings. The toys are also dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. They have a wide range of bath/beach toys.

Rogue Wave Beach Toys – Pail and shovel is made from a certified compostable plant-based plastic. That means no petroleum, and no micro-plastics! Material is made in the US, BPA-free and oil-free. At the end of their very long life of play, they will compost back to soil in active landfills and commercial compost facilities.

Make your next trip to the beach a good one, for you and the planet.

Tomorrow, 100% recyclable is not exactly 100%.