Bricks of Fly Ash

  • Fly ash particles at 2,000x magnification.

A company is using waste from
coal-burning power plants to
make bricks. The firm hopes
to reduce the amount of coal
ash sent to landfills, and,
at the same time, cut the amount
of energy used to make bricks.
Chuck Quirmbach reports:

Transcript

A company is using waste from
coal-burning power plants to
make bricks. The firm hopes
to reduce the amount of coal
ash sent to landfills, and,
at the same time, cut the amount
of energy used to make bricks.
Chuck Quirmbach reports:

The company, Calstar, says it wants to open several U.S. plants which would use fly ash in making bricks for construction and paving. The California firm says its method uses far less energy that traditional clay bricks that have to be heated at high temperatures.

Luke Pustejovsky is a Calstar executive. He insists the quality of fly ash brick meets industry standards.

“We spent 18 months and millions of dollars on durability testing with our own labs, with outside third party labs, and this is a brick that’s built to last.”

But a trade group, the Brick Industry Association, is cool to fly ash brick. The group says the product has not yet met the test of time. The group is concerned any problems that come up could discourage customers from using brick.

For The Environment Report, I’m Chuck Quirmbach.

Related Links

Greenovation: Eco-Certified

  • When doing home improvement projects, WaterSense, EnergyStar, GREENGUARD, and FSC certifications are some to keep an eye out for. (Photo by Michelle Miller-Freeck, courtesy of FEMA)

When you’re planning a home
improvement project, you can
be overwhelmed with decisions
about the right materials, the
right quality, and the right
design. Trying to keep it eco-
friendly on top of everything
else just adds to the confusion.
Lester Graham reports it can be
as simple as finding a label:

Transcript

When you’re planning a home
improvement project, you can
be overwhelmed with decisions
about the right materials, the
right quality, and the right
design. Trying to keep it eco-
friendly on top of everything
else just adds to the confusion.
Lester Graham reports it can be
as simple as finding a label:

Julia Weinert and her boyfriend like the idea of making their place nice, but even something as simple as painting causes concerns.

JW: “We want to support environmentally friendly options and we just don’t want to be smelling it for three days out and have to be running the fans. We just want it to be convenient and we think it would be an easy thing to do.”

LG: “Well, you’re in luck. We’re at the local Home Depot and we just happen to have Greenovation.TV’s Matt Grocoff here. Matt, you’ve got some advice for her.”

MG: “And it’s really, really simple. When you’re trying to find a paint that’s healthy for you or another product, you shouldn’t have to be a chemist when you go to the store. There’s a really simple thing you can look for. Just look for the simple GREENGUARD label. GREENGUARD is an independent organization that lets you know with a simple label that that product is safe for you.”

So, none of the really strong paint smells that mean polluting chemicals are being released. GREENGUARD Environmental Institute sets indoor air standards for products and buildings. Julia and I sniffed a can of paint WITH the GREENGUARD label, and then one without.

LG: “I’ll let you sniff first.”

JW: Okay. Oh! Yeah! Oh my gosh! That is ridiculous. I mean, it smells so much stronger than this one. You can’t even smell that one compared to this one.”

A gallon of paint with the GREENGUARD label DOES cost a few dollars more, maybe as much as ten bucks.

Matt then herded us to another part of the store, the plumbing section, where Julia and I were confronted by all kinds of shiny chrome and brass faucets.

JW: “There’s a whole wall, a whole aisle of faucets here and I just don’t know which ones to look for.”

LG: “So, Matt. You got any fancy labels here?”

MG: “Absolutely. Again, if you’re looking for that eco-friendly option, a way to save yourself some money and some water, it’s simple. Just look for the WaterSense label. The EPA does EnergyStar labels for appliances. The EPA also does WaterSense label for plumbing fixtures.”

WaterSense means the fixture – whether a faucet, shower head or toilet – will use less water but still works well.

As we wandered over to the lumber section of the store, Matt told us the last label he wanted to show us is the most ignored label – and it might just be the most important one.

MG: “FSC stands for the Forest Stewardship Council. And what that means is they’ve made a commitment that they’re not going to be tearing down forest and clear-cutting them in order for you to build some bookshelves in your home. This is one of the biggest causes of greenhouse gases is that we don’t have these forests capturing this carbon any more. Instead of having to have a PhD in forest management, you can just simply look for a piece of wood that has an FSC label on it.”

So, labels. Julia says, works for her.

JW: “It’s going to be great, taking my boyfriend around the store and showing him all these cool things I can get to make our home improvements a little more cheap and environmentally-friendly.”

LG: “Alright remind me, go over this again. What am I supposed to be looking for?”

MG: “It’s very simple. If you’re looking for paint, look for GREENGUARD. For plumbing, WaterSense. For lumber, FSC, Forest Stewardship Council certified.”

LG: “That’s Matt Grocoff, Greenovation.TV. Thanks again, Matt.

MG: “Lester, it’s always a pleasure. Thank you.”

For The Environemnt Report, I’m Lester Graham.

Related Links

Greenovation: The Re-Use Store

  • The ReStore sells everything from building supplies to power tools to toilets and sinks. (Photo courtesy of the Habitat for Humanity of Huron County, Michigan)

Home improvement projects cost
a lot of money. Some environmentalists
have found a way to save some money,
conserve resources, and help other
people get into homes. Lester Graham
reports:

Transcript

Home improvement projects cost
a lot of money. Some environmentalists
have found a way to save some money,
conserve resources, and help other
people get into homes. Lester Graham
reports:

It seems like my friend Matt Grocoff with Greenovation TV is always working on a home improvement project. Not too long ago, he asked me to go with him to his favorite store. So we headed down the road where all the big box home improvement stores are in his hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan, but that’s not where we ended up.

MG: “Just about anything I need, my first stop is always a re-use center. My favorite is, of course, the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Today I’ve gotta find a– a, uh– what do you call them? A sander, a hand sander, a belt sander?”

Matt turned to Jackie Hermann who manages this ReStore. And she pulled a case from the shelf in back.

JH: “This absolutely beautiful Porter Cable professional random orbit sander with dust collection.”

MG: “This is gorgeous. This is exactly what I need. And how much is this?”

LG: “Looks like it’s never been used.”

MG: “Almost new condition. $35.00. And it’s used material that’s not going to a landfill or sitting in somebody’s basement not being used. And here I get to use it and save money. This is another one of the things where we can debunk the myth that going green costs more.”

Okay, so Matt got a good deal and it extends the useful life of a pretty good tool. But the idea is to raise money for Habitat for Humanity to help get people into homes, so I had to ask Jackie about that.

LG: “How much of that money actually goes to Habitat for Humanity and building houses for folks?”

JH: “We have a 12% administrative overhead, so 88-cents on every dollar into a habitat home.”

There are about 600 of these ReStores across the nation. The administrative overhead varies a bit from store to store, but the money raised at each store goes to homes in that store’s local area.

Jackie says, for her area, that’s meant a bit of a shift for Habitat for Humanity. You might have heard, in Michigan there are a lot of foreclosures.

JH: “We’re not building brand-new as much. We are buying foreclosed houses that are already existing in blighted neighborhoods, and we are rehabbing them and making it livable and improving the neighborhood.”

LG: “You’re recycling houses.”

JH: “We are! We’re recycling houses also. So, when Lowe’s, for instance, donated a large quantity of items, we kept a bunch aside for construction. They come and they look though and say what they can use, and then those items are set aside for them. And then as they need them, they use them.”

And anything left over is sold in the ReStore. It’s donations that make ReStore work. It might be overstock from places like Lowe’s or from local contractors. It could be people who are moving or retiring or just don’t need an appliance any longer. They might have extra cabinets, or carpeting, or a perfectly good sink they don’t need.

JH: “The proverbial kitchen sink. Lots and lots and lots of toilets. Light fixtures, flooring, doors, windows, fasteners.”

MG: “Lester, let me show you some of the stuff they’ve got here. My wife and I spent months looking for a really high-quality, affordable, high-efficiency, front-loading washer. This is a front-loading washer and dryer. (taps on appliance) In fact, this is the same model that we bought. We paid $600 for ours. Here, at the ReStore, it’s $200. And Jackie, how do we know that this works?”

JH: “Everything’s been tested. And, it’s guaranteed for two to three months – I’m really not picky about that.”

Some things are used, some are new. It all works.

Matt Grocoff with Greenovation.TV says it keeps stuff out of the landfill, it means perfectly good building materials and appliances for home improvement projects, saves resources, and raises money to help people get into a home.

MG: “It’s a win-win across the board.”

For The Environment Report, I’m Lester Graham.

Related Links

Big Name Design With a Green Twist

  • New York fashion designer Issac Mizrahi during a fitting session. Mizrahi used salmon leather to create an ensemble that includes a dress, jacket and shoes. (Photo by Mackenzie Stroh, courtesy of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum)

You might not have heard of the design firm Pentagram, but more than likely you’ve seen
its work. Pentagram designed the shopping bags for Saks Fifth Avenue, the logo for
Citibank, the layout of the New York Times Magazine. In short, its designers make
things look pretty. Recently, Pentagram got a call from the nonprofit Nature
Conservancy. As Hammad Ahmed reports, it wasn’t the usual request for a nice new logo
or packaging:

Transcript

You might not have heard of the design firm Pentagram, but more than likely you’ve seen
its work. Pentagram designed the shopping bags for Saks Fifth Avenue, the logo for
Citibank, the layout of the New York Times Magazine. In short, its designers make
things look pretty. Recently, Pentagram got a call from the nonprofit Nature
Conservancy. As Hammad Ahmed reports, it wasn’t the usual request for a nice new logo
or packaging:

The Nature Conservancy wanted Pentagram to issue a challenge to big name designers.
And the challenge was this: design environmentally friendly stuff. In other words, you
have to use renewable, abundant, and natural materials… instead of plastic.

Pentagram stepped up the challenge, recruited some designers, and, now, I’m here to see
what they came up with.

Curator Abbott Miller and I are standing at the Smithsonian Design museum in
Manhattan.

“The exhibition actually goes, um, this way.”

The exhibition is called “Design for a Living World.” And honestly, it looks like a
Pottery Barn. Bowls, chairs, and rugs. When you look closely though, you see all this
stuff is made from really interesting materials. For example, salmon leather.

Miller: “Salmon leather is stripped away from salmon in the process of canning and
literally was considered waste, but is actually an incredible material.”

Ahmed: “So this is just like salmon scales?”

Miller: “It’s the skin of salmon that’s been preserved.”

Working with the preserved salmon skin fell upon big-name fashion designer Isaac
Mizrahi, who’s more used to designing with silk and satin.

“If you’re weighing like sort of you know ecology and glamour, I think they weigh the
same to me, sorry to say that.”

Ecology or glamour, huh? Well, Mizrahi took this salmon leather and he turned it into a
dazzling pair of high heels you’d expect to see on the red carpet.

“For some people, that kind of product, represents a negative.”

Gary Bamossy is a marketing professor at Georgetown’s Business School.

“These very expensive green items that are really just sort of ‘fashionista’ kinds of
acquisitions, they see that as frivolous and maybe even as a waste of money.”

So, not exactly a ‘green ethic.’

And this makes me wonder which way of being green is better. Buying more shoes made
from salmon leather? Or not buying more shoes at all?

Abbott Miller admits it’s a valid question.

“That whole question of should we buy less, I think the answer is probably yes. You
know everyone knows that we’re an over-consuming culture.”

So if the real problem is over-consumption, what’s the point of green design?

When I ask Gary Bambossy, the marketing professor, he comes back with another
question.

“Green design as it relates to museum and as fashion? Or green design as part of a
business model process?”

And that question makes me realize green design isn’t just a new look for the same
products. It’s a new way of making those products, and educating the consumer.

Abbott Miller says we really ought to know more about what we buy, what is used to
make it.

“We may come to a point of such hyperawareness of the materials that we use that that’s
part of the story of why you buy something.”

Miller and Bambossy agree that buyers increasingly want to know more. And that could
lead to products being more sustainable.

But, the thing is, all this awareness isn’t free. So, you’re left with one last question: are
you willing to pay more for knowing more about the things you buy?

For The Environment Report, I’m Hammad Ahmed.

Related Links

Businesses Save Money by Reducing Waste

  • The lot that started Baldassari's quest to eliminate waste from his business. (Photo by Nancy Paladino of The Taylor Companies)

When you’re in the business of making things, you can wind
up with a lot of waste material. But these days more
companies are realizing trash has value. Julie Grant reports
instead of spending big bucks to dump their waste in a
landfill, these companies are making money from it:

Transcript

When you’re in the business of making things, you can wind
up with a lot of waste material. But these days more
companies are realizing trash has value. Julie Grant reports
instead of spending big bucks to dump their waste in a
landfill, these companies are making money from it:

Jeff Baldassari’s company makes sleek, upscale office
furniture.

“I would have never guessed ten years ago I’d
be the guy telling you this story right now.”

Baldassari is the CEO of The Taylor Companies.

A few years ago he started planning for a new factory. The
site where they wanted to build it was an old brownfield.

That’s a site that had been contaminated by a past
manufacturer.

Baldassari says they got grant money to clean up the land,
and it got them thinking about the environment – really for the
first time.

“‘Okay we cleaned up this brownfield – but
let’s not stop there. What else can we do for
the environment, what else can we do for our
bottom line to pay for this new facility, to
get it to pay for itself?’”

They started looking at their waste.

(sound of a factory)

On the factory floor, a worker is tracing the shape of a chair
leg onto a piece of wood. After it’s cut, the scrap wood is
tossed into a large box.

“Trees don’t grow in the shape of furniture
parts. So there is a lot of waste. Ultimately,
40% of each board ends up as scrap when it’s
all said and done – 30% to 40% will end up as
scrap.”

Baldassari says they used to pay to send all that scrap wood
to the landfill – along with huge dumpsters full of sawdust.
That cost the company.

But his team started making some calls. They found horse
farms that wanted sawdust for bedding. They found
companies that wanted wood chips for mulch.

Instead paying to have dumpsters of waste hauled away,
they found markets for the waste material.

It was the same deal with leather coverings for the chairs
and sofas. One-fourth of the leather used to end up in the
scrap heap as trash. Now a hand-bag maker in Montreal
comes to pick it up for purses and wallets.

And Baldassari is pretty happy about it. These days he’s
sending only one-eighth of the waste to the landfill as before.
That saves the company $30,000 dollars a year.

For many companies, this is the future.

Joel Makower says smart corporate leaders are finding ways
to reach zero-waste. Makower is the executive editor of
greenbiz.com.

“We’re starting to see companies think in
terms of closed loop systems. Factories
where basically there may not be any
smokestacks, drain pipes, or dumpsters.
where every waste product is turned into
some kind of raw material for another
process.”

But a lot of these companies are not necessarily cutting
waste because it’s good for the earth. Like Jeff Baldassari,
these corporate leaders often start the process as a way to
save money.

These days Baldassari says he’s the kind businessman he
never guessed he’d be: one who’s always looking for ways
to eliminate waste:

“Once I got started, I literally became
addicted to it. But it was addicted, in the
sense again, it helped our bottom line.”

Baldassari wants it clear: he’s not a tree-hugger. But, at this
point, he’s actually having fun. He’s caught up in finding
ways to save money by eliminating waste.

For The Environment Report, I’m Julie Grant.

Related Links

Recession Proof Construction

  • One company created a website that acts as kind of a Craigslist just for reclaimed building materials (Photo courtesy of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction)

In the middle of a recession that’s

crippling the construction field,

there’s at least one sector of

industry that’s doing pretty well.

That’s “material reuse.” Taking pieces

of old buildings and using them in

new ones. Advocates say used materials

could save developers a heap of money.

Samara Freemark has the

story of one re-use company that’s both

green and in the black:

Transcript

In the middle of a recession that’s

crippling the construction field,

there’s at least one sector of

industry that’s doing pretty well.

That’s “material reuse.” Taking pieces

of old buildings and using them in

new ones. Advocates say used materials

could save developers a heap of money.

Samara Freemark has the

story of one re-use company that’s both

green and in the black:

You’ve probably heard what’s going on in the construction industry
these days.

(news montage of housing crisis)

But in middle of all that bad news, there might be one bright spot.

“We’ve actually been expanding quite a bit. I guess it’s one of the
only times I’ve heard
of where that’s the case.”

That’s architect Brad Hardin.

He got interested in reusing building materials pretty early in his career.
He likes the way
the old stuff looked. And he likes the idea of saving resources. And
he’s also kind of
horrified by the tens of millions of tons of construction waste that get
tossed into landfills
every year.

But actually getting his hands on used materials, so that he could reuse
them- that turned
out to be a real pain in the butt.

“You know you’ll be literally going out to someone’s yard and getting
rained on, or
sorting through someone’s basement– it was kind of a hit and miss
process.”

A big part of the problem was simple logistics. Imagine you’re knocking
down an old
house to build a new one. You’d like to sell off whatever pieces of the
old building you
can. But how do you find someone to buy all that stuff? Where do you store
it while you
look for a buyer? And how do you ship the materials?

Harry Giles is a professor of green architecture at the University of
Michigan.

He says most developers don’t want to bother with all that hassle. In the
end, they usually
just end up bulldozing everything. Giles says that’s because there’s no
real secondhand
market for used construction materials- not like there is in a lot of other
industries.

“If you take the car industry, a lot of it is geared around the reuse of
materials. Not just
taking the car and crushing it, but taking it apart and finding useful
components on it.”

You know, like a salvage yard.

And that was the problem Brad Hardin wanted to solve – how to create a
secondhand
market for spare building parts. He figured that if he could do that,
reusing building
materials could actually end up profitable.

So last year he started a company called Planet ReUse. The company’s
website acts as
kind of a Craigslist just for reclaimed building materials. Buyers and
sellers can find each
other on the ‘net.

And Planet ReUse tests all material to make sure it’s up to code. That
way the buyer
doesn’t end up with, say, eight tons of rotten planking. And Planet ReUse
arranges all the
shipping- trying to hook up sellers to nearby buyers. That saves money and
fuel.

By removing those basic barriers, Hardin says his buyers save about 20%
compared to
buying new. And Planet ReUse still makes a profit.

And it’s also a start to reducing those millions of tons of landfill
waste.

So, what kind of stuff does he sell on the site?

“How much time do you have? Steel, flooring…”

It turns out there’s money in just about everything you can salvage from
a building.

Harry Giles says that cash is the key to cutting down waste.

“If people see that it’s a lucrative business to actually salvage
materials, that will drive it
much faster than concern for the environment.”

And it’s not just buildings. Remember President Obama’s inauguration
stage? Well, that
got torn down, and Planet ReUse is trying to get the pieces to New Orleans.
They’ll be
used to rebuild houses damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

It’s just one more way for Planet ReUse to prove that you can do good, be
green, and
make a little money too.

For The Environment Report, I’m Samara Freemark.

Related Links

Books With a Green Ending

  • The reporter's husband reading "I Can Save The Earth" to their daughter. (Photo by Charity Nebbe)

Book publishers have always had
a close relationship with trees, mostly
dead ones. Now many publishers are trying
to make nice with the planet by introducing
green books on environmental themes and
often on recycled paper. Charity Nebbe finds this trend has reached the
children’s section of your local bookstore:

Transcript

Book publishers have always had
a close relationship with trees, mostly
dead ones. Now many publishers are trying
to make nice with the planet by introducing
green books on environmental themes and
often on recycled paper. Charity Nebbe
finds this trend has reached the
children’s section of your local bookstore:

(sound of reading)

That’s my husband reading to our three year old daughter. They’re reading “I Can Save
the Earth: One Little Monster Learns to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.” It’s a new book
from a new division of Simon and Schuster called “Little Green Books.” Simon and
Schuster is not the only publisher trying to take advantage of the modern green
movement.

Melanie Rhodes is a children’s book buyer for Borders.

“I would say, for Fall 08 rolling into 09, I would say this is the one new trend. We’re
seeing Green product, recycled with soy based ink, or a lot of detail on the product saying
it’s planet friendly.”

Rhodes decides what will be on the shelves at Borders for babies and toddlers.

Ruta Drummond buys for the older kids – picture books for 3-7 year olds. The green
books she’s getting are on environmental themes, rather than on recycled paper.

“I’m starting to see titles: “That Litter Bug Doug”, “Michael Recycle”, “We Are
Extremely Very Good Recyclers”.

She’s also seen a few publishers try to claim the green mantle without really earning it.

“There was a publisher with a classic white book, and they said, ‘oh, well, we have a
green version. And they made the cover green. It was a green version.”

Literally green – the content was unchanged, the paper the same. Of course publishers are
in the business to sell books, so they’ll do what they have to do.

Parents who buy the books have another goal in mind. Presumably they want to raise
environmentally aware and responsible children. Can a book help them do that?

Elizabeth Goodenough teaches a course on Children’s literature for the Residential
College at the University of Michigan. She’s not a fan of books specifically designed to
teach kids a lesson.

“We all know that when someone is trying to teach us something, it’s a tough message.
We resist it and it usually backfires, and children don’t get the message that we’re trying
to convey.”

In spite of that, Goodenough does believe that books can influence children as they
develop their worldview – but the most important element of any book is its story. If
nature and the environment play an important role in a great story the kids will get the
message.

Which brings us back to bedtime at my house with “I Can Save the Earth”. The book
may be preachy, and it is, but it managed to capture my daughter’s imagination. This is
her favorite part.

(sound of reading)

The result? I’ve found toilet paper strewn all over the bathroom three times in the past
two days. The book has certainly had an environmental impact in my house and tonight
we’re gonna read something else.

For The Environment Report, I’m Charity Nebbe.

Related Links

Sagging Mattress Recycling

  • The city of Toronto has started collecting old mattresses at a central recycling center. (Photo by Julie Grant)

One of the bigger things we
throw away are old mattresses. Landfills
are stuffed full of them. Julie Grant
reports that new companies are springing
up to recycle the steel and cushioning
from old mattresses. They say the government
could help, but it’s lying down on the job:

Transcript

One of the bigger things we
throw away are old mattresses. Landfills
are stuffed full of them. Julie Grant
reports that new companies are springing
up to recycle the steel and cushioning
from old mattresses. They say the government
could help, but it’s lying down on the job:

(sound of a mattress factory)

Simon Zysman has been working with mattresses for more
than half-a-century. For the past 16, he’s been running a
business in Toronto that tears old mattresses apart so the
pieces can be reused.

“i’ve only dismantled with my own hands 3,000 used
mattresses and my enterprize in the 16 years has only
dismantled 40,000 mattresses, and therefore i know very
little. I’m just learning.”

Yeah, like Lance Armstrong is just learning to ride a bike.

Now, apparently dismantling mattresses is not a cushy job.

(sound of mattress deconstruction)

Workers pull mattresses from a big pile. I watch one as he
makes a long cut all around the edge, snips material where
it’s connected to the coils. And then pulls the entire face of
the cushioning away from the springs. It’s kind of like
filleting the mattress.

When he’s done, the cushioning goes on one pile. The steel
springs on another.

Zysman sells the different parts to companies in the U.S.
that rebuild mattresses. Other people in the business just
recycle the steel and sell the cushioning for things like
carpet-padding and oil filters.

Zysman used to toss and turn when he thought about the
huge numbers of mattresses out there, but his supply’s not
been steady.

When you buy a new mattress, a lot of times the company
that delivers it will pick up your old mattress. Most
companies just send them to the dump. Only a few pay
people like Zysman to have them dismantled.

Until recently those few have provided Zysman’s only
supply.

But the city of Toronto has started a pilot program to collect
old mattresses from residents at the curbside for companies
like Zysman’s.

“The city’s pioneering mattress recycling program has been
a great boost to us and a great help to us. That is a
wonderful development.”

(sound of a recycling center)

The mattresses the city picks up are stockpiled at a recycling
center.

Bryan Farley runs the city’s new program. He says Zysman
and other people like him are getting paid to keep
mattresses from stuffing the landfill.

“Landfill space in Ontario is a premium. It’s hard to find.
And there are laws and regulations that are more focused on
not putting materials into the landfill.”

Farley figures getting mattresses out of the waste stream will
help the city to meet its ambitious goal of reducing trash by
70%.

Mattresses take up a lot of space. They’re big and bulky and
don’t smash down all that well in a landfill.

South of the Canadian border, in Ohio, Chuck Brickman has
been piecing together a mattress recycling business.

He wishes the government here would help increase the
supply of used mattresses. Brickman can get some from
local hotels and furniture stores, but it’s not enough so far to
run a steady business.

“There’s two companies right now in New Jersey that are
sending 2 to 5 thousand mattresses a month by rail from
New Jersey to a landfill in Michigan.”

Why? It’s cheap.

A few cities and states have special landfill fees for bulky
items like mattresses, but most don’t. So, it’s usually
cheaper just to dump them.

Brickman wants local or state governments to create more
‘incentives’ for the mattresses to be recycled. In other
words, higher fees to dump mattresses.

“It’s easier and more economically feasible for them to throw
them in a couple rail cars and send them a couple states
over because there are no established tipping fees in some
of the Midwestern states like Ohio and Michigan.”

Mattress recyclers say government officials can raise those
fees on dumping mattresses. That would make the mattress
recycling business less of a dream, and more of a reality.

For The Environment Report, I’m Julie Grant.

Related Links

Nature Profile: Nature & the City

  • Audra Brecher, who lives in Manhattan, says the city lights are her stars. (Photo by John Tebeau)

Big cities have skyscrapers, smelly subway stations,
and people from all over the world. In our
occasional series about people’s connections to the
environment, Kyle Norris talks with one big city
resident who says that the people and places of New
York City connect her to the world:

Transcript

Big cities have skyscrapers, smelly subway stations,
and people from all over the world. In our
occasional series about people’s connections to the
environment, Kyle Norris talks with one big city
resident who says that the people and places of New
York City connect her to the world:


Audra Brecher wears her chestnut hair in a Louise
Brooks bob. Actually, she’s a dead ringer for Louise Brooks,
that silent film movie star. She’s stylish
and snazzy.


Audra lives in Manhattan. Her apartment is above a
pizza parlor on a bustling avenue. She says in the
evenings, she hears blaring taxi horns and the thumping
techno music from the clubs on her block. But she
loves everything about the city: its sounds,
its architecture, and its people.


I once asked her if she ever missed nature. She said,
“The city lights are my stars.”


“Yeah, I don’t feel as if I’m missing anything. I don’t
feel maybe such a romantic feeling about stars, the
night sky. I feel maybe the same excitement when I
see the city lights and when I walk across Lexington
and I look north and I see the Chrysler Building lit
up and those beautiful, starry chevrons of the
Chrysler Building. I think maybe the feeling I have
looking at that, is what other people feel when they
look at the night sky.”


So here’s the deal. When I think of someone connected
to nature I picture a state park ranger. I picture a crunchy-
granola type. I do not think of someone who wears
fashionable clothes and wines and dines in the city. I
do not think of Audra. But Audra says she has a
better connection to the natural world than people in the
suburbs:


“I go to the Union Square market on Saturday and I
buy varieties of apple that have come from the
Hudson River Valley and I know my parents, who
live in the suburbs in Florida, they go to the grocery store
where they buy everything pre-packaged and already
cut up fruit. I feel like my experience is actually closer to
nature even though I’m in heart of Manhattan.”


Audra works in an architecture firm. She’s a historic
preservationist, and she’s studied architecture all over the
world. But she grew up in the Florida suburbs. And
what she saw there – the sprawl and development –
seemed wrong to her:


“What led me to do what I do is noticing how
unhappy I was with a suburban existence. Having to
get in car to drive somewhere, or looking at
expanses of parking lot in strip centers and
subdivisions with gated communities that are named after
the natural feature they replace. Like ‘Eagle’s Nest.'”


Those new developments seem wasteful to her. She
likes the idea of re-using materials. And this
connects her to nature. At her job, she’s always in
close contact with old buildings and old materials:


“Yeah, I love the materiality of them. I mean, I love
an old brick from 120 years ago. I love the building
materials and the craftsmanship from that time. I
love the idea of taking something that has been cast
aside and might not be used and giving it a new
purpose, giving it a new vitality. Taking a building that
somebody has abandoned and giving it a new life.
To me, that’s the ultimate recycling.”


Audra says although she’s not walking through the
forest and communing with nature, she feels
ecologically responsible in different ways. She either walks or takes public transportation to get someplace. She never drives a car.


“I’m not asking so much of the world in terms of
water and energy and resources and I feel like when
live in dense environment you are allowing for those
things to remain protected and safe. And pristine. So
I feel like a responsible citizen living in Manhattan
in many ways.”


This stylish city-slicker may not be the person
who pops in your head when you think of someone who’s connected to nature. But Audra’s
deeply connected to the world around her in her own way. She’s also aware of how we can use natural
resources in better ways.


For the Environment Report, I’m Kyle Norris.

Dupont to Conduct Studies on C-8

Most Americans have a trace amount of the chemical C-8 in their blood, and no one knows where it comes from. But the DuPont Company is going to conduct studies that could solve the mystery as part of a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Fred Kight has the story:

Transcript

Most Americans have a trace amount of the chemical C-8 in their blood,
and no one knows where it comes from, but the DuPont Company is
going to conduct studies that could solve the mystery as part of a
settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Great
Lakes Radio Consortium’s Fred Kight has the story:


DuPont spokesman Cliff Webb says the company will spend five million
dollars to investigate the potential breakdown in the environment of C-8,
a key ingredient in Teflon and other non-stick materials.


“We’ll hire independent third parties to serve as a panel administrator for
peer review and consultation, and then the panel will address any specific
activities and findings they see as a result of the study, and the public
will have an opportunity to nominate also a panel member.”


Webb says the three year study will focus on nine chemicals or products
that could release C-8, but he won’t divulge what they are, explaining
they’re confidential business information.


An EPA advisory group has concluded that C-8 is a “likely carcinogen,”
but DuPont disputes that.


Under the settlement agreement, DuPont also must pay a record fine of
more than 10-million dollars for failing to disclose C-8 data to regulators.


For the GLRC, I’m Fred Kight.

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