Baltimore's Mr. Trash Wheel

Baltimore’s Mr. Trash Wheel is keeping the river clean

A curious contraption has been keeping the river in Baltimore clean since 2014. Dubbed “Mr. Trash Wheel,” the machine is found in the city’s Inner Harbor, and it works just like a water wheel, using the current of the river to move and pick up trash from the water. The trash is then placed in a dumpster barge, which is replaced by a new one once it’s full. If the current isn’t strong enough, solar energy is used to power Mr. Trash Wheel.

Mr. Trash Wheel got a new colleague in December last year: Professor Trash Wheel, located at the end of Harris Creek.

Photo from the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore website.

Clean the World; soaps being prepared for recycling

Clean the World gives leftover hotel soap a new life

If you’ve ever wondered what happens to the soap that you didn’t fully use up and left behind in your hotel bathroom, you’re not alone. The same issue crossed the mind of Shawn Seipler, so while staying at a hotel, he decided to ask about the fate of leftover soap bars in hotel bathrooms and learned that they just get thrown away. Upon learning this, Shawn did his research and found that there was another way to save all that soap and keep them from being wasted: through rebatching, which involves melting down old soap and then reforming it into new soap.

And thus, Clean the World was born. The organization works with approximately 5,000 hotels, who pay them 50 cents per room to gather and recycle the leftover soap. The soap rebatching process is done in Clean the World’s plants in Orlando, Las Vegas, Hong Kong, Montreal, and India, and the soaps are packed into hygiene kits that are then distributed throughout the world. Essentially, Clean the World’s goal is to help promote proper hygiene and the implementation of a sound sanitation program to help eliminate diseases caused by poor hygiene, effectively having a hand in saving lives.

While Clean the World doesn’t accept soap donations from individuals and small groups, anybody can participate in their efforts in different way. They welcome financial support to help them keep their recycling efforts going, and they also encourage people to undertake their own projects to create hygiene kits and donate them to shelters.

Learn more about their lifesaving work at the Clean the World website.

Image from CNN.

Tomato skins and eggshells can be used to make tires, researchers find

Food waste is a major problem throughout the world, and people need to keep coming up with ways to reduce it or use it. At the same time, petroleum use continues to grow and keeps people dependent on foreign sources of oil. Fortunately, Dr. Katrina Cornish, an Ohio Research Scholar and Endowed Chair in Biomaterials at Ohio State, may have hit upon a way to solve both problems: make tires using eggshells and tomato peels as filler. Tires are currently made with 30 percent carbon black, which makes the tires appear black and also has to be sourced overseas. Making tires out of locally available fillers and materials not only reduces petroleum use, but also reduces emissions associated with shipping the material to US tire manufacturers.

According to Cornish, “The tire industry is growing very quickly, and we don’t just need more natural rubber, we need more filler, too,” she explained. “The number of tires being produced worldwide is going up all the time, so countries are using all the carbon black they can make. There’s no longer a surplus, so we can’t just buy some from Russia to make up the difference like we used to.”

Her team has found that eggshells don’t break down in landfills, and commercial tomatoes have thick skins, which are often discarded when the tomatoes are used to make tomato sauce and the like. Their various properties help rubber become more flexible as well.

The tires produced with eggshells and tomato skins tend to have a reddish brown color, but her team is continuing to explore ways to make the tires appear black.

Farmer Meg McDougall

An eco-friendly surfboard made out of lemongrass is being developed

Surfboard manufacturers these days are trying to find ways to make surfboard more eco-friendly. One of the latest efforts is made by Gold Coast farmer Meg McDougall, who is developing surfboards made from lemongrass. She has been growing lemongrass for the past five years at Rocky Point, north of the Gold Coast, and has been making small surfboards first for testing. She chose lemongrass because it has a foam-like structure that floats when processed and is waterproof. She is teaming up with a company called Currumbin to develop a full-size prototype, which is set to come out soon.

Anne Hathaway in vintage 2006 Armani

Anne Hathaway goes vintage on the press tour for “Colossal”

Emma Watson put the spotlight on eco-friendly fashion labels while she was on the road promoting Beauty and the Beast. Now, Anne Hathaway is donning vintage pieces as she goes on tour to promote Colossal.

What makes this an eco-friendly effort? The fact that Anne is wearing older fashion pieces instead of having new clothes made for every event. Reusing really does look good!

Mango's Committed collection

Mango releases its eco-friendly “Committed” collection

High-street brand Mango is coming out with a fashion collection featuring clothes made with sustainable materials, such as organic cottons, Tencel, recycled polyester, and recycled cotton, and they’re dyed with environmentally friendly inks. The collection is for both men and women, and the clothes are manufactured in Portugal, Turkey and Morocco.

The Committed Collection is 100 percent sustainable, and Mango is working towards making the rest of its clothes eco-friendly as well; 44 percent of its collections are made with natural fibers. In addition, Mango is also taking steps to better identify and reduce its water consumption.

Gratis X1 jetski

Electric jetski lets you ride through more waterways

While relatively small and convenient, jetskis aren’t always allowed on all waterways because some areas forbid water vehicles that use a gas-powered internal combustion engine. The Gratis X1 by Free Form Factory just might change things, though. The electric jetski is emission-free and does not make any noise, and the body itself is made from a 100% recyclable polymer blend. Charging it for 1.2 to 4 hours gives you a running time of 30 to 65 minutes, and the Gratis X1 runs at a top speed of 40 knots.

The Gratis X1 costs $17,990 and it comes in four colors. Limited edition versions are also available for pre-order on their site.

La Casa Verde

Want to own an eco-friendly guesthouse in Ecuador?

Doug and Rebecca Greenshields began traveling in South America in 2005, and, thanks to the rich culture and the pace of life, found a new place they could call home: a half-finished construction a mile and a half away from Baños, Ecuador. This was where they raised their two kids and got started on a greener life, even opening their own eco-friendly guesthouse, La Casa Verde. Rebecca has even shared her thoughts and experiences as an expat in an interview with Stuff.

The time has come for the family to move on, however, with Doug about to explore a new career. Which is why La Casa Verde is currently up for sale for the low, low price of $29. All you need to do is buy Doug’s e-book, Back to Earth, and you’ll be entered into a raffle to win the guesthouse. They’re even throwing in $10,000 to help you get started on your new life.

Sounds like worth a shot, to be honest. And hey, even if you don’t win the guesthouse, at least you’ll have a good green living resource.

Photo from the La Casa Verde website