Wednesday, April 30, 2008

What do you do with 140,000 plastic bags?

ANSWER:Build a 500-square-foot Deck

In an earlier post, I mentioned a deck project that I was going to start. I was discussing the deck surface choices that are out there. That blog brought some reader's comments (which I always appreciate!) about other manufacturer's products. The homeowner's made TREX their choice. This winter was long and cold, so I didn't even attempt to start it. I started the project on April 9th and here it is!
In this case, this isn't a 300 square foot deck with steps and benches, it's a 84,000 recycled plastic bag deck!

In the May/June 08 Smart Homeowner 's annual Green Issue, there is an article titled Smart Use for Grocery Bags. TREX recycles plastic grocery bags for their composite decking. They launched its BagSmart Plastic bag Reduction and Recycling Initiative in Pa. and NJ. The company is working with major grocery and retail chains and Goodwill to encourage consumers to recycle their plastic grocery bags, dry cleaning bags and newspaper bags. There are drop-off bins at participating grocery and retailers. Goodwill Industries collects, sorts, bales and ships to TREX for repurposing. TREX use 300,000 tons of recycled plastic and wood scraps each year. Granted, this is a stop-gap measure. Until these plastic bags are banned, (as is happening in parts of the country), this is a way to reuse those awful "Paper or Plastic" consumers choices we have to make at the check-outs. And the homeowner's? They made a good choice.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Arizona Dreamin'

My family and I spent a week in Arizona and luckily we made it home through the AAirlines mess. As we landed in Detroit (our destination), they announced to all passengers that the fleet was grounded for a undisclosed reason. Now, we know.
The topic of this entry is my disbelief that I didn't see many examples of water conservation. Here we have a state (and in all fairness, it really is it's biggest megalopolis, Phoenix) that is reliant on the Colorado River and a series of canals to supply water to it's thirsty residents. We stayed with a dear friend in Prescott who proudly announced that their water came from drilled wells, not the Colorado River. We toured Taliesin West and they get their water from a well. Interesting story there- When Frank Lloyd Wright purchased the 640 acres in the early 1930's, he paid an extra $7.00 an acre for the water rights. The sellers thought they really had fooled the architect and made a killing. FLW hired a well driller and 400-some feet later they hit an aquifer and they are still using the water.  
Dual-flush toilets are a great concept and a great water sipper. They come with a 2-button flushing mechanism. One uses .8 gallon per flush for (how can I put this delicately) yellow and 1.6 gallons for the other stuff. Caroma and Toto are 2 great companies to look at.
Another great conserving technique is water barrels or cisterns to capture rain water from eaves trough. The water can then be used to, at least, water plants. We toured Arcosanti and they were the only place we saw capitalizing on this free water from the sky.