Biochar Is Green and Makes Green...backs

Chickens Just saw this in Cool News but it is not new. I have friends who raised chickens and they said that all parts of the chicken are important - from the feathers, to the meat, to the eggs to the poop. All parts have value and use. But here is the late breaking story from USA Today:


Josh Frye is hoping it might not be long before his chicken poop is worth more than his chickens, reports Brian Winter in USA Today (2/11/10). At Josh's West Virginia farm, the chicken poop "is fed into a large, experimental incinerating machine. Out comes a charcoal-like substance known as "biochar" -- which is not only an excellent fertilizer, but also helps keep carbon in the soil instead of letting it escape into the atmosphere, where it acts as a greenhouse gas."

So far, Josh is churning out "as much as 9,000 pounds of biochar per day" and "has sold nearly $1,000 worth of biochar to farmers as far away as New Jersey." The process isn't new; it was "used in agriculture several centuries ago by Amazon Indians," using sources other than chicken poop (e.g., wood and switchgrass). The key is to heat the poop "in an extremely low-oxygen environment -- a process that produces no smoke and no smell."

Originally, Josh was mainly interested in using the heat to warm his chicken houses. "I thought it was crazy at first, and my wife still thinks it's nuts," he says. But now he's seeing dollar signs, and thinks he can sell "high-quality biochar for $1 a pound." How does he know the quality? He puts a little bit in his mouth. "If it's pasty and hard to swallow, then it's impure," says Josh, adding, "There's big-time time people ... looking at this."

A Green Way to Wash Dishes

They say that detergent is a pollutant and is not especially healthy for us either. Dish washing detergent, especially for dishwasher machines, not only pollute but also leave a film of soap on the dishes that we then injest. So when I read about this new invention by dish makers, I was intrigued.

Scientists have created a polymer shield that could replace dishwashing detergent. It would enable us to clean dishes effectively by just using water. How great is that? According to the New York Times:

Imagine how great it would be if, after dinner, you could stack the greasy dishes, pots, pans and utensils in the sink and let plain old water rinse away the grime — with no help from detergents, and little or no scrubbing. Plastic coatings under development may someday bring that moment to pass, rendering dinnerware, bathroom mirrors and even factory equipment sparkling clean with water alone.

The new materials may be appreciated not only by dish-washing family members, but also by environmentalists. Detergents that end up in wastewater can cause algae to bloom, among other effects. Jeffrey P. Youngblood, an associate professor of materials engineering at Purdue University is  working on polymer additives for liquids that can be poured into a spray bottle and then used to clean mirrors and even eyeglasses or goggles. Scientists call the coatings self-cleaning because, once they are applied to a surface, they do much of the work of scrubbing away oily residue — like that from a greasy fingerprint. The oil beads up and then the water moves under the oil, lifting it up so it floats away.  Dr. Youngblood’s coatings are effective, in part because they repel oil but not water.

This is interesting but I hope they test the long term effects of spraying polymers on our eating surfaces. Do we really know the byproduct of possibly injesting polymers? Hmmm.

Your comments please.

Check Your Plastic Containers

While reading the New York Times the other day I saw in an editorial that plastics are numbered. And the number on your plastic container indicates whether it is healthy to heat food in it or not. The unhealthy numbers leech toxins such as BPA.

The safe numbers are 1, 2, 4, 5 and the unhealthy bad numbers are 3. 6. 7. The numbers are located usually on the bottom of containers as well as somewhere on the lid. It is usually within a triangle of arrows. And sometimes the lids have different numbers that the container bottoms - so be sure to check both. But also note - the article said that 3, 6, and 7 may be okay only if they specifically say that they are BPA free.

Bpa plastic numbers

So I went through our plastic container drawer which was overflowing and filled with all sorts of containers from good old Tupperware to those toss away Chinese food containers. Guess what I found? All our old Tupperware containers were no good and most of our tossable Chinese food containers were good! Older tupperware should be carefully checked because I think that the new tupperware is generally okay (but again, it pays to check).

Of course if you really want to be on the safe side, microwave all your food in glass containers.

For storage, when in doubt, order new ones like these BPA-free food containers

Thai Temple Built From Over One Million Recycled Bottles

Here is something "new agey", spiritual, ecological, magical and very unique. It is a Thai Buddhist Temple built from recycled bottles. Hopefully it will give other countries ideas for re-using materials in a "constructive" way:
Thai temple

The Wat Pa Maha Chedio Kaew temple, roughly 370 miles northeast of Bangkok is made of more than a million recycled glass bottles. True to its nickname, “Wat Lan Kuad” or “Temple of Million Bottles” features glass bottles throughout the premises of the temple, including the crematorium, surrounding shelters, and even the toilets. There’s an estimated 1.5 million recycled bottles built into the temple.

The bottle-collection-turned-building started in 1984, when the monks used them to decorate their shelters. The shiny building material attracted more people to donate more bottles, until eventually they had enough to build the temple standing today. Bottle caps are also integrated as decorative mosaic murals. Going beyond use of glass as a sustainable building material, the bottle bricks don’t fade, let natural light into the space and are easy to maintain. So if you’re looking to find Nirvana in a bottle, you might want to consider making a stop at the Wat Pa Maha Kaew Temple.

TerraSkin Bags Made From Rocks

My new years resolution is to become more green. So I have been on the look-out for a range of products that help me help the environment. I recently discovered something interesting - We can replace our paper and plastic shopping bags with cloth reusable bags. And now there is another resuable option - rocks.

TerraSkin is a company that manufactures bags made of ground up limestone and polyethylene. Unlike paper bags, these bags do not require bleach or water to make which makes them environmentally friendly. Terraskin bags eventually break down into a talc when exposed to the elements.

You can find terraskin bags at New York's Museum of Modern Art, personal-care company Erno Laszlo, and Burt's Bees. They look, feel, and fold like paper, but they're made of crushed stone. The treeless paper, manufactured in Taiwan and sold under the TerraSkin brand, is three parts recycled calcium carbonate—the same mineral in marble and limestone—and one part polyethylene binder. Production requires no water or bleach and only half the energy needed to make traditional paper. The material is durable; tote bags can be used over and over. It is also recyclable. And TerraSkin breaks down into a talcum-like powder if exposed to sunlight and humidity long enough.

Blog powered by Typepad