Tag Archive | "waste"

Easy Ways to Make Your Home Green

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Recycle, recycle, recycle -  It is as easy as taking the aluminum can and dropping it in the recycle bin.  Along with plastic bottles, newspapers, and glass bottles this is a simple and effective method.

Low toxic paintsUse Paint that does not contain VOC – Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) are toxic chemicals found in furniture, tables, wallpaper, paint, and basically anything that is manmade or is sprayed with manmade chemicals.   One easy way is to avoid paints and wallpaper that contain VOC.  If you are not sure about the ingredients then definitely buy well known low toxic paints (like Ieko or Earthborn).

Buy Already UsedCraigslist is gold for great products.  Why spend $2000 on a sofa when you can buy it on craigslist for $300 AND avoid the fate of the landfill.  People are always moving in a rush, take advantage of that by buying great furniture products that don’t end up in the garbage and pollute the environment.

Buy Bamboo – Bamboo is a grass not a tree and so it grows quickly and is versatile. Bamboo can be used in flooring, window blinds, or just about any living room furniture.  The only downside to bamboo is that it uses a lot of water during reforestation, but takes little time to reforest compared to trees.

Stop with the Polystyrene Cups – You know it as Styrofoam from the Dow Chemicals Company but actually Styrofoam as a cup does not exist, it’s actually polystyrene .  You go to parties and they have Styrofoam cups and plates and it is terrible.

Take cloth bags to the grocery store – Those little plastic bags used by grocery stores are flimsy and not recycled by people.  Considering that large cities like San Francisco are charging consumers for plastic bags, start now and use nice cloth bags.  Even a backpack is great for filling up heavier items in it.

Stop with the bottle water -  Really? You NEED bottle water?  You’re incapable of putting a filter on your tab for 40 bucks and rather spend $1.20 per bottle every day?  More than 1.6 Billion bottles are not recycled in the UK each year.  Bottled water takes up space.  Bottled water is a waste.  Bottled water use plastics; which in turn use petroleum.   Instead use a hard plastic bottle, fill it with water, and take it to the gym, work, car.  If you are concerned about tap water not being clean, put a filter on.  Remember, just because it’s from a bottle doesn’t make it clean water either; the Perrier scandal taught a lesson there.

Article by Preeti Pradhan

Corona Save The Beach – Can you help?

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Corona Extra is running a pioneer initiative to protect and preserve the beaches of Britain and Europe. This conservation campaign calls for members of the public to send in videos of photos of beaches in need of cleaning up. Already a shortlist of beaches has been drawn up – and on July 23rd, the worst beach will be cleaned. You can visit the site, view the shortlist and vote for yourself here

Corona Save the Beach
Corona will recover at least one European beach each year, chosen by the voting public on the campaign website. You can also keep sending in video or photos of dirty beaches to the gallery for the 2010 clean-ups.

The project is committed to saving Europe’s beaches, a heritage that is rapidly disappearing. A recent study has been made which offers an analysis of the best and worst beaches in Europe which can be downloaded here.

Several marine eco-systems and coastline wildlife are endangered due to the deterioration they are suffering, most of the time by man’s hand. People are unaware of the 3 million tons of oil and garbage dumped into the oceans each year, most of them in the Northern Hemisphere, and the big environmental impact caused by the dramatic increase of man-made constructions close to the coastline.

The initiative is supported by Fee, the Foundation for Environmental Education which develops programmes like Blue Flag, the quality seal awarded each year to beaches and marinas meeting strict environmental criteria. Other supporters include Alexandra Cousteau, the legendary oceanographer’s granddaughter, and supermodel Bar Rafaeli.

Please participate if you can – either by voting on the video gallery of beaches or sending in your own endangered beaches. Voting is just one click – no need to register, so it only takes a minute. Thanks for your help!

Article by Mel Rodicq

The Iron Man Goes Green

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Some time back I blogged about the first carbon neutral triathlon which my sister helped organise with the Crystal Palace Tri club as she was concerned about the environmental effect of the race. It involved making the event as environmentally friendly as possible and generally making competitors, marshalls and visitors aware of the impact of the race and encouraging them to help reduce this.

After returning from a lovely holiday in Nice this week which included watching my sister compete in the Iron Man France  competition which involves a 4km swim followed by a 180km bike ride topped off with a marathon. (No I’ve not made a mistake with the numbers and distances they really do make them run, swim and cycle that far) I was pleased to see that the organisers had taken some measures to address their eco-responsibility.

As soon as competitors entered an expo area to register for the race there were stands which had information about the recycling facilities available and the importance of the flora and fauna in the region along with other related info. Each competitor was given a pack which included  a supplement about the green aims for the race. I wont list all their efforts but those of you who are interested can read more about their mission here.

With over 2,500 competitors eating energy bars and drinking water on the move it was estimated that the level of waste would be no small matter. Along with almost 70,000 spectators in Nice and in many of the villages along the cycle route litter was also an issue that had to be tackled.

Although there could have been other strategies I’m glad that the organisers had a green policy in place and that they made a great effort in their first attempt at making the event sustainable. They had to start somewhere and I’m hoping they will build on this years race to make the next competition even more of a low impact affair.

Lets hope other sporting events take their lead as vast amounts of energy and waste could be saved not to mention the potential for engaging the public in being greener.

A Rubbish Q&A Day

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A Q&A session on Monday 10th Nov with GGG friend, the lovely Tracey Smith. Send her a question about rubbish!

The Book of Rubbish Ideas… Review & Interview

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Book Review and Interview with Author Tracey Smith

As I took an over-ripe pepper and nearly full bag of mushrooms out of the fridge and set them aside for the compost bin I thought about the first few pages from Tracey Smith’s Book of Rubbish Ideas. I don’t feel good about wasting this food but at least I know it will decompose in a matter of weeks and will, in the form of home made compost, go towards growing my own next year.

Book of Rubbish Ideas coverBut what about the other things I’ve thrown out today? A plastic bag from the celery, the coffee packet, a chocolate bar wrapper and how many other people in this country, in fact in the world, have thrown away similar waste today? I need to think more creatively around the products that come into my home and how I deal with the waste from them and this is exactly what this book is about.

How we got where we are today
Tracey starts by educating us about how waste was dealt with historically and why some methods of getting rid of our rubbish might, at first, seem sensible but is in fact wasteful in itself. She describes the steps which have led to to the dire situation we’re in today and addresses the serious issues around waste (energy consumption, landfill, pollution and climate change) whilst giving solutions at the same time.

Room-by-room waste
The bulk of the book takes you room by room (and outside) through the home and shows us how to deal with our waste in a very practical way. Its not all about recycling but thinking about how we can reduce waste in the first place. Tracey highlights that its not all down to the individual but that other parties such as manufacturers, sellers and local authorities have a great responsibility too. Throughout the book she provides excellent example letters to help us give supermarkets, local councils and other bodies a nudge in the right direction.

This environmental book is very different from others I’ve read recently which have focused on telling us which green alternative products to buy. This book questions why we have to consume in the first place and guides us in looking after the things we already have. And, in the current economic climate, that’s not only relevant for the environment but for our piggy banks too.

Full of practical ideas
With the ‘Project Box’ sections interspersed throughout Tracey provides creative tips which make you go “Oh that’s a good idea” and get exercising your crafting skills, which gets a big thumbs up from me! For further motivation the case studies give real life waste dilemmas which we all face and shows us how others have dealt with them. We also get insight into the habits and views of a few celebrities in the ‘Star Struck Celebrity Questions and Answers’ section.

GGG readers can buy the book at a discounted price from www.bookofrubbishideas.co.uk. Check out the website too for even more ideas, tips and reasons to cut the rubbish out of your life!

Interview with Tracey

Tracey SmithNow I’m an extremely lucky GGG editor because I not only got a sneaky preview of the book but I also have an interview with the lady herself, Tracey Smith…

Q – Tracey, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. The first thing I wanted to ask you is about your inspiration. The book is absolutely jam-packed full of really useful, do-able ideas; Where do you get your inspiration and where did you learn all of these wonderful tips?
Hi Vicky – you’re welcome mate – thanks for asking me and I’m really pleased you’ve enjoyed the book! Moving onto your question, it’s 8.30pm here so I can safely say, my inspirations are all tucked up in their beds asleep! I dedicated the book to my kids and at the front of the book I say, ‘It’s for your children and your grandchildren; they are the leaders of the future’ and I meant every word. They are going to face so many sociological changes and perhaps even further climatic chaos in their lifetime. It’s our duty to help get them into the right, green groove long before they step into adulthood, so they are best prepared to lead themselves into ‘their’ future. The tips have been picked up from friends who know their onions and derived from some good old-fashioned common sense; it’s my mission to make it sexy and funky again and to get everyone leaning towards the green!

Q – Its surprising actually how much you can do to reduce, reuse and recycle in the home and really make a big difference. For those starting out, which 3 areas would you say they could focus on reducing waste first in order to have the most impact?
Well the most obvious room to pick on and have an immediate and positive effect on, would be the kitchen. Food waste still remains an enormous problem, despite the best efforts of organisations like the Love Food Hate Waste campaign. We are far too anal about sell by dates too – it’s ridiculous. The food isn’t going to explode if you go a day or two (or MORE) over that bloomin’ date! Cooking will kill anything dodgy, which is very unlikely to be residing on your newly expired food, so stop worrying about it and shove it in the oven! The BOGOFs are part of the problem though. We cannot resist a bargain and go all ‘hunter, gatherer’ and hog the other pack even if we have no intention of eating it. The best way to get over this is go shopping with a friend or neighbour, share the petrol, enjoy the experience a bit more and share those BOGOFs. You can also buy larger quantites of things and split them too, another great money saver. Of course, an extension of the Kitchen is the Garden and if you are able to make use of a composter/wormery or Bokashi, then do so! You’ll cut your bin down dramatically by doing so and you can also sling in loo roll holders, cereal boxes, hair from your brushes, cut up cotton tee shirts that are too knackered for the charity shop and much more besides. Then if you think about your cleaning materials that lurk under the sink you find another area where you can really make a difference. Ditch the chemical options and go for soda crystals, borax, bicarbonate of soda, lemons, salt, eco balls, soapnuts and essential oils, to name but a few. They are all multi purpose cleaners that will eradicate the need for the cornucopia of squirty guns that all bear the ‘X Caution Irritant’ sign on the back of the bottle…

Q – As well as giving individuals and families the tools and inspiration to reduce their rubbish you recognise the responsibilities of those in charge to make big changes too. If you could pass one law in relation to waste what would it be and why?
Oh, that’s a chunky monkey missus! I don’t know about a law, but I would like to change the constitution somewhat. I’d like to see sustainable living lessons be part (a fully integrated part) of the National Curriculum, from nursery age upwards! Kids should be learning how to cultivate and cook some delicious organic fruit and veg. They should understand and respect the importance of composting and recycling and on a scientific point, they should embrace sustainable forms of energy and be tackling the many other layers and levels to living in harmony with our volatile and beautiful planet. That would be a fantastic achievement.

Q – I really liked the celebrity ‘Q and A’ section because it gave us a little insight into how they deal with the less glamorous part of life, their rubbish. If you could ask any celebrity in the world any question about the environment who would it be and what would you ask them?
I don’t think they come under the remit of celebrities (in fact I’m quite sure they don’t) but I would like to see all our emminent politicians and leaders telling us what ‘they do’ to make a difference and they should also show us how they do it! More to the point, there should be a national telly, radio and written media campaign showing us what they and all the ‘stars’ are doing. There’s no doubt about it, the world of the A lister has enormous influence on our more humble existence and it could effect a very positive and almost overnight change on our immediate, local and global environments too.

Q – The book itself is absolutely full of so much useful advice and there is the website too. What is the future for ‘The Book of Rubbish Ideas’ and all that goes with it?
Good question. Well I’ve just started making a few short films for the website and am enjoying doing them very much. I doubt there’s a BBC series on the horizon, but hey, never say never… There will certainly be a daily entry on the website to look forward to and I’m really enjoying doing a few talks and demonstrations extolling the virtues of a bit of simple, green living and rubbish reduction. It’s great when you meet people and you see that penny dropping for them – a whole new world of green opens up which is very exciting and I love being a part of ‘their’ transition.

Tracey, thank you for your detailed and energetic answers. I look forward to seeing your short films and more in the future!

If you liked that post, then try these...

5 Tips for Crafting Green by Vicky on October 6th, 2009
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Earth Day, Ocean Day...Mayday by Lee on June 4th, 2009
What’s in a day? When a day is designated a special day, the intention is to honor the theme of it.

Recycled Filofax inserts by Katie on February 26th, 2009
Every year my resolution is to get organised.

Zero Waste Week – Are you up for the challenge

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The first week of September is zero waste week for Rachelle and her family in Gloucestershire.

Going to landfillSince June, they’ve been working on reducing the amount they send to landfill and, in just 2 weeks’ time, they are going for the big fat zero.
They started off throwing away about a kilo a week of rubbish – already quite small, compared to many households. And in an interview today Raechelle shared with me some of her top tips for keeping your rubbish down.

She started by making it clear that she feels fortunate to live just 3 miles from a recycling centre that takes all the usual recyclables, plus tetra-paks and polythene, which helps.

Shopping locally has a massive impact.

Moving on from that, she found that the more she shops locally from small producers, the more open they are to her requests to bring and use her own packaging.

For example, her local butcher agrees to put the meat in the boxes she brings in, rather than wasting non-recyclable plastic trays. She has a local grocer who allows her to do the same with cheese. And she buys her fruit and vegetables from a local organic farm shop, where she can use paper bags or reuse her own.
All of this makes a massive contribution.

But she said the biggest challenge is the things you simply don't think about, such as broken CD cases and other seemingly random items that can't be repaired.

Convenience is what fills up your bin.

Rachelle is pragmatic and practical in her approach and, whilst passionate about inspiring others to reduce the amount they send to landfill, she openly admits that convenience is what fills up your bin.

"Sometimes," she says, "when you just don't feel like cooking and get that take away, you end up with plastic pots that have to go to landfill."

She hopes that her Zero Waste Week in September will serve to inspire others to join in, sowing the seeds that we can all do a bit more, by shopping more consciously.

"I see our zero waste week as a beginning, not an end. It's the beginning of a new level of awareness. Until life changes and we're all living off nothing but local produce with no packaging, we will still produce rubbish, but our aim is to keep our bin bag below 150g per week. We will have to be satisfied with that."

One of the valid questions that Rachelle poses is whether what is collected by our councils is really being recycled or incinerated in a far-flung land. She is actively working with her county council in Gloucestershire as an ambassador for recycling and they have been inspired to launch a county-wide zero waste week challenge early in 2009! Rachelle would love us all to be getting in touch with our councils and MPs to help spread this initiative.

"There is so much mixed information out there, particularly as different districts within even a single county have different recycling policies. We need clarity of information to stop the confusion and allow people to have a go."

If you'd like to step up to the challenge and get involved with Zero Waste Week in September, make sure you tell Rachelle about how you're getting on via her My Zero Waste website. She's got lots of eco companies involved to offer prizes to those who really make the effort!

And a final thought: Rachelle was spurred into action by reading one MP's comments that "It is our birthright to have a rubbish collection". Hmmm. What are your thoughts?

Clare

If you liked that post, then try these...

5 Tips for Crafting Green by Vicky on October 6th, 2009
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Earth Day, Ocean Day...Mayday by Lee on June 4th, 2009
What’s in a day? When a day is designated a special day, the intention is to honor the theme of it.

Recycled Filofax inserts by Katie on February 26th, 2009
Every year my resolution is to get organised.

Balloon Litter

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I have to admit it but we don’t have the best view from our front room window. In fact for lovely leafy Leamington it’s perhaps not the best view or most typical of our town. I live opposite a car show room that has flags flying in the daytime, lights glaring at night time and balloons by the dozen at the weekend to promote their special offers. So as you can imagine for someone who is passionate about sustainable transport it’s not a view I tend to marvel at.

Now a few months back on a Sunday afternoon we were lazing in the front room with our Sunday papers when I happened to look up and see a staff member walk around the car park and cut all the balloons free. Up, up, up they floated as the worker continued to set about 50 balloons free.


I was flabbergasted, as to me it was just plain littering. A business wouldn’t throw out 50 odd leaflets or food wrappers on the street. Just because they float upward and out of site doesn’t mean they are not litter when they land. They obviously weren’t thinking about where they were going to land as it would be far, far away out of sight and not on their land. Not their problem! I was also annoyed as I’d read that they posed a danger to wildlife as birds and marine creatures can mistake them for food similar to plastic bags and can choke on the remains.

The following Saturday to my shock horror when I drew back the curtains there were pink, blue and yellow balloons (yes, all colour co-ordinated) promoting their latest cut deal offer. This time there must have been over 100 balloons gracefully bobbing in the breeze. I wont go into the next half an hour but it involved me stomping around the house whilst my poor long suffering partner looked on bemused followed by me marching across the road to see the manger.

Luckily I ‘d found some info on the net about balloon littering and that organisations could be fined up to £2,500 if caught littering. Needless to say the manger did take seriously what I had to say and promised not to release (litter) any more. Whilst balloons are no way on the same scale as plastic bags for polluting our landscape. I still think it’s important for companies to realise the risks to our wildlife and that there is no excuse to litter. Hopefully the ‘Don’t let go’ campaign will raise awareness of this issue.

For more information about the campaign you can download a Don’t let go fact sheet. This has details of the threat to wildlife and more information about fines, the environmental protection act and the Marine Conservation Society.

Trish Smith – How to Control Your College Trash

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It’s not hard to see why college students are notorious for accumulating tons of trash both in and out of their dorm rooms. There wasn’t a week that went by when I was in college that I didn’t see fast-food containers, packets of ketchup, empty paper towel rolls, soda cans, half-empty bags of Doritos, plastic CD wrappers or Chinese take-out containers lying in random piles in someone’s room.

Image of a globe in a leafIt not only proves that college students will take anything for free from the cafeteria, but they’ll also spend money on things that they don’t even need! And the more junk that they take or buy, the more trash that will accumulate. That’s exactly why a proper waste management and recycling program needs to be implemented on campuses across the nation.

Now it may seem cliché, but the old “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” term can be applied to waste management and garbage removal practices in your very dorm room. If you follow these easy tips then you can have a waste-free dorm that is sure to impress and influence others around you.

Reduce…

  • Plastic bagYour lunch trash by using a washable bag or lunchbox instead of paper or plastic bags (Check out my post on How to Green Your Lunch)
  • Post-it note or scrap paper piles by writing reminders on a wipe board
  • Paper use by printing on both sides of the paper or sending documents through email
  • The items you take from the dining hall or fast-food restaurants (if you don’t need 12 packets of sugar or 10 tubs of barbeque sauce, don’t get it!)
  • Printer ink cartridge consumption by proofreading and spell-checking papers before you print them out
  • Unnecessary trash by buying items with little or no packaging
  • The germs in your room by using environmentally-safe cleaning products
  • The amount of money you spend (and receipts you accumulate) by borrowing items whenever possible!

Reuse…

  • Computer screenA bandanna or washable napkin instead of paper towels
  • Food boxes and plastic containers to store personal items
  • A thermal mug when you go out to get coffee
  • Plastic silverware in your dorm room by washing it after every use
  • Plastic grocery bags for lunch if you don’t have a washable lunchbox
  • Binders, computer disks, file folders and notebooks
  • Handkerchiefs instead of tissues
  • Cloth rags to clean up spills rather than using paper towels

Recycle…

  • Recycling bin#1 and #2 plastic items
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Magazines and newspapers
  • Aluminum cans
  • Glass bottles
  • Cell phones
  • Computers
  • Ink cartridges
  • White and color paper
  • Batteries

It really isn’t hard to follow proper waste management and recycling practices. All college students have some sort of unique routine, whether it’s drinking a cup of coffee every morning before class or playing guitar before they go to bed, so if you make eco-friendly waste management your routine, you’ll actually be doing something good for you, your neighbors and the entire campus!

About the Author:
Trish Smith is a copywriter for Green Student U, a blog-style site that introduces today’s students to a wide variety of global environmental issues by recognizing college campus green initiatives and personal success stories, as well as how the world is being shaped by environmental reform.

Looking at the environment – contact lenses or eyeglasses?

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About one year ago I completely stopped wearing contact lenses as my eyes had become so sore and sensitive that I was unable to wear them without being in pain. It was at first difficult for me to feel comfortable / confident socialising in my eyeglasses (spectacles) as I had become so used to wearing contact lenses every day.

I first started wearing contacts aged 11 as I competed in lots of sport and eyeglasses were not suitable – especially for gymnastics.  As I got older (and unfortunately less sporty) I mainly wore contact lenses for vanity reasons, however I am past vanity these days and I now feel good and attractive when wearing my eyeglasses.

Johnny Depp and Lisa Loeb looking great in glasses

(Images above: Glasses can be cool just look at Johnny Depp and Lisa Loeb)

As I stopped using my contact lenses I started to think about all of those lens cases that I had used over the years, the large bottles of solution and the general production waste and energy used to create contact lenses.  It then occurred to me:

“Are contact lenses bad for the environment?”

Whilst I have been thinking about this for awhile I never researched into it, until now! However whilst searching the oracle (the internet) I struggled to find relevant information other than a few people raising concerns about whether they could recycle their contact lens solution bottles and lens holders (no answer discovered).

For those of you who have never worn contact lenses, then let me tell you there are quite a few different types these days, ranging from lenses that you can sleep in, to daily disposables (throw away each day), to monthly lenses and to contact lenses that can last a year.

How much waste do they create?

Now you may think that the daily disposables will create more waste as each day you throw them and their packaging away. However with daily disposables you tend not to use cleaning solution so the waste material may be lower compared to monthly lenses where you will have a new pair of lenses each month, a lenses case and then bottles of cleaning solution. But then the energy put into creating the daily lenses could require further energy consumption? Hhmmm like my vision, it’s not all perfectly clear!

A typical contact lense kit

If anyone has researched into this and has any quanitative data about the impact of contact lenses and the environment I would be very interested.  However as mentioned I am now back to wearing my eyeglasses and I doubt that I will wear contact lenses again due to the sensitivity of my eyes. My question now is:

“How eco friendly are eyeglasses?”

What I do know is that since only wearing my eyeglasses I have not produced as much waste in the form of solution bottles etc. But what about the material and production used to create eyeglasses? Are they eco friendly? Again I consulted the oracle and really struggled to find information on any eco friendly glasses with the exception of a post titled “Gold & Wood Spectacles, the Green Option for Eyewear?” written by Petz Scholtus at Treehugger.

They featured a pair of eyeglasses by Gold & Wood which were made out of precious and exotic woods, taken from authorised and supervised plantations from different African countries, Brazil and Canada. I am a little sceptical as was Petz as to whether taking exotic wood from such countries is very sustainable. The company also make eyeglasses from buffalo horn which is a definite NO for me.

So now I am going to ask the same as what Petz asked:

“What material has the lowest environmental impact when it comes to making eyeglasses?”

Petz suggested frameless glasses, however they are not suitable for everyone for many reasons, including if like me you have a strong pescription then the frameless glasses lend up looking like jam jars.

I personally think that recycled waste would be the best material for the frames of eyeglasses; however I could not find any companies which do this.

So all of you budding entrepreneurs, it looks like there is a niche in the market for eco eyeglasses. I challenge someone to research this and set up an ethical, eco friendly eyeglasses range.

Who knows perhaps aluminion cans could be turned into eyeglasses frames

I promise that whoever sets up such a company that I will buy at least one pair from you – though they better last as I probably will not change the frames (though I have to change lenses as my eyes get worse) for a long long time! Next question…

“Can you recycle your eyeglasses?”

Yes you certainly can, as Arcadia has previously pointed out in America (and Australia and the UK) you can recycle your old eyeglasses through local Lion Clubs. In the UK there are a few other places that you can recycle your eyeglasses too including Vision Aid Overseas and the Second Site Project.

There is another interesting way to recycle the lenses from your eyeglasses and that is by turning into a chandelier (pictured below) as did Salvage pioneer Stuart Haygarth.

A chanderlier made out of spectacles

If you liked that post, then try these...

5 Tips for Crafting Green by Vicky on October 6th, 2009
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Earth Day, Ocean Day...Mayday by Lee on June 4th, 2009
What’s in a day? When a day is designated a special day, the intention is to honor the theme of it.

Recycled Filofax inserts by Katie on February 26th, 2009
Every year my resolution is to get organised.

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No longer a silent night

Recycle Now has teamed up with the resourceful members of the Really Rubbish Orchestra and Hear Me Now to play some well-known Christmas carols and raise awareness of the opportunities and importance to recycle small electronic and electrical goods.

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