Industry Market Trends

Go Green At Home And Work with... Mrs. Shrek?

Oct 28, 2011

It's great focusing on the big picture of green technology, greening buildings, solar power, multibillion-dollar Obama Administration green scandals, the latest of which involves them giving half a billion of your dollars to Al Gore's company to build cars in Finland that only rich people can buy -- thanks Obama voters! -- but let's not forget that the commitment to pursue a greener lifestyle begins at home.

This reporter is currently living by the ocean in New Zealand. We live off collected rainwater, use a fireplace for heat in the winter -- we're up north so it's not really all that cold, though it does get chilly damp. We don't use a clothes dryer and we eat only what we can grow or kill.Well, okay, that last part about eating only what we grow or kill isn't true, but the rest of it is. New Zealand itself is attuned to green lifestyles, and the moderate climate and abundance of rain make it easier. We should recycle more than we do, probably, but our "carbon footprint" is fairly small for a family of five.The Smiling Green Mom (Mrs. Shrek?), who doesn't sound like somebody you'd want to mess with, recently posted a list of things you can do around the home to go greener. Without hectoring or being pushy about it all -- this reporter certainly doesn't practice all that's preached here -- it's a pretty good list. Following these steps at home will, as we can show, lend themselves to industrial applications as well.Composting.

This is one we definitely won't do, sorry, although we have friends who do compost and feel much better about themselves for doing so. We can't stand gardening and prefer our contact with tending Mother Earth to be kept to mowing the lawn. When our sons aren't around.But it is a fairly easy way to add nutrients back to the soil while reducing garbage volume, as Smiling Green Mom says, who also notes that spirited composting could be reducing the nearly 25 percent of compostable landfill waste, according the Environmental Protection Agency. Leaving more room for the plastic Tide bottles.There is industrial composting as well. Mannvit Engineering has helped design and construct the Molta composting plant that opened in 2009 as the largest composting plant in Europe, located in in Eyjafjördur, Iceland, primarily owned by municipalities in Eyjafjördur, food production companies and other entities.It uses drum composting technology and is designed to handle organic waste, such as materials from slaughterhouses, meat and fish processing, as well as food waste, paper, timber, green waste and animal manure. The facility processes 10-13,000 tons of the stuff per year and costs about $4 million, Mannvit officials say, adding that such industrial-level composting "offers the benefits of resource efficiency and creating a useful product from organic waste that would otherwise have been landfilled and can offset the need for chemical fertilizer."Digestion time in drums is 8-12 days followed by a maturing period outdoors of about three to six months, Mannvit officials explain, noting that the amount of the compost produced is generally "a maximum of 50-60 percent of the amount of treated organic waste."Recycle paper and electronics.

We're proud to note that we do recycle paper, after a fashion, we keep it in a basket by the fireplace and use it as firestarter, and during the summer for marshmallow roasts in the evenings, which are always a bit cool up here by the ocean, no matter how warm it was that day."The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that only 15-20 percent" of electronic waste is recycled, Smiling Green Mom notes, and of course the rest of it ends up in landfills, incinerators and yard sales for "$15 or best offer," and when you ask does it work, you'll be told it did the last time she saw her son using it before he left for college.A while ago this reporter took a look at a good example of industrial recycling of electronics waste, of how Applewas enhancing its electronics reuse and recycling program "designed to help customers dispose of their unwanted electronics in a convenient and responsible manner."According to industry observer Steve Duda, the Apple electronics recycling program is simplicity itself: Send in your old iPhone, iPad, Mac or PC for reuse or recycling, and if it still has any monetary value, "Apple will send you a gift card for its fair market value for use at any Apple retail store or their online store."But not just Apple stuff -- they'll also take any unwanted computers or displays, made by anyone. Call 877-712-2405 for a a free prepaid shipping label and box it up yourself.Old iPods can be turned in to Apple stores for a gift certificate for 10 percent off anything in the store, and Apple will take care of the recycling. According to Duda, "Apple will also recycle any mobile phone for customers, regardless of brand." Such efforts have helped the company divert "more than 130.2 million pounds of equipment from landfills since 1994," according to Apple figures cited by Duda.

Plant a garden.

Yeah, if you enjoy getting dirty and grubbing around with worms and roots and all such, gardening does have many advantages. More or less free food, for one thing, at least what the rabbits don't eat first, and presents for people you really don't like but have to give presents to anyway -- "Oh, a bushel of radishes you grew yourself. How... thoughtful."And according to Business Knowledge Source, gardens can be a good way to provide a better quality of workplace for your employees."Many companies are using rooftop gardens as a way to give their employees a place to escape to when they are in need of a break," the business advisory site writes, adding that rooftop gardens are "a nice way to reduce pollution, and many plants" -- that would be manufacturing plants -- "are actually using the gardens to grow foods to donate to food shelters or to use the foods in their production process."Which is a pretty cool side benefit. "They are a lot of fun for your facility, especially if you are in a populated district where your employees don't have a lot of opportunity to go outside and catch some fresh air in a nice garden environment," the site adds.Laundry.

Nowhere does Smiling Green Mom sound more like an actual mom than here: "Whenever doing laundry, make sure it is a full load and wash clothes in cold water using a safe non-toxic laundry soap and hang clothes to dry for a clean, fresh and environmentally way to do your laundry."We're all about the hanging to dry instead of using a dryer part, for one thing your clothes last a whole lot longer. It isn't the washing machine that beats up clothes, it's the dryer -- every time you clean the lint filter remind yourself where lint comes from. And friends, if we can get clothes dry in northern New Zealand, where it rains approximately 529 days per year, you can too.Of course there are good options for green industrial laundry as well. And if you absolutely must use laundry dryers on an industrial scale, you should probably check out options from companies such as Advance Laundry Solutions, a Connecticut-based company selling energy-efficient products and services to the laundry industry."Using patented heat pump technology, the AdvanceDry75 provides warm, dry air to the drying drum by taking the exhaust, dehumidifying it and then reheating it," company officials say, adding that this closed loop system "reclaims the majority of the useful heat, saving a tremendous amount of energy."The way they explain it, "conventional dryers draw air from the room, pass it over a large heat source and blow it through the dryer drum. The air passes through the drum once and is then vented out the building. Some of this air dries the clothes, but most bypasses the laundry without performing a useful function, causing much of the expended energy to be wasted."Support local farmers and eat in season.

We do this up to a certain point, we sure did it a lot more when we lived in Istanbul and you got whatever fruits and vegetables were in season on our way home from the street sellers. Fortunately the baklavaalways seemed to be in season."Most grocery store food has been picked in the fields, sent to distribution centers and shipped thousands of miles before ever hitting your grocery store shelf," the Smiling Green Mom says, presumably not smiling while she says it. "In contrast, when you purchase from local farmers, you are not only putting a face with your food, but your food has been picked within a day or two of purchasing making it ripe and delicious!"Yeah, and we have plenty of options for buying fresh and local here in rural New Zealand, but that's not true for everyone. And "support local farmers" might not have much resonance for somebody living in, say, Brooklyn, or Washington, D.C. Although Eastern Market is a nice options for Washingtonians.A good idea here is to Google for local farmer's markets. There are more of them than you imagine, and you get a whole lot more helpful advice and suggestions there than you will from the slightly dazed kid stacking shelves at the supermarket.

Plus you don't want to get on Mrs. Shrek's bad side.