“greener” 3d printing materials?

We just got a 3d printer in my library and though I do hate that we are printing with ABS plastic,  at least it can be  recycled (though you might have to search for a nearby place to recycle it with). But reading about the possibilities to print on PLA or polylactic acid, a bio-plastic, starch based material. Sounds like this material does clog often which is not a plus, and it’s hard to recycle (it’s meant to break down eventually).  Openmaterials has a lot of ideas for DIY experimentation for various materials that could be used.  But the coolest news is the possibly “robot” to turn trash into 3D printing material called Filabot!

For a real entrepreneur check out this story in  Inhabitat  “West African Inventor Makes a $100 3D Printer From E-Waste” – How inventive, creative and green!

Recylcemania 2012 Results

Recylcemania 2012 held its 12th annual competition, had 605 schools participate for 8 weeks this spring.

Stats for this years contest:

  • 92 million lbs. of recyclables and organic materials were recovered
  • prevented the release of nearly 150,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2E).
  • this reduction in greenhouse gases =
    • annual emissions from more than 25,840 passenger cars
    • electricity use of more than nearly 16,406 homes
    • the burning of nearly 705 railcars’ worth of coal.
  •  average recycling rate for participating schools increased from 27.61%to 28.49%  over the course of the tournament

The Winners:

  • “Grand Champion” (determined by the percentage of overall waste recycled): American University- (85.16 percent) – Washington, D.C.
  •  “Per Capita Classic” (determined by total pounds of recyclables collected per person): Union College- (61.79 lbs.) – Schenectady, N.Y.
  • “Waste Minimization” (determined by the lowest overall amount of recyclables and trash per person): Valencia College – (2.79 lbs.) – Orlando, Fla.

They also hosted the 2nd annual video contest with the theme “The Spirit of Recycling, ”  where the public was invited to vote for their favorite  videos posted to YouTube, the student submission from Florida State University garnered the most “likes” to win first prize followed by East Tennessee State University. Clemson University’s video received the Judges’ Award.

CFL bulb myths

Recently this email was sent around my library that started out like this … ” I turned it on the other day and then smelled smoke after a few minutes. Four inch flames were spewing out of the side of the ballast like a blow torch! I immediately turned off the lights. But I’m sure it would have caused a fire if I was not right there. Imagine if the kids had left the lights on as usual when they were not in the room. ….” As a librarian I know it is important to check your sources so I asked our university Sustainability Coordinator about these emails.  First, the email is false – it’s listed verbatim and debunked on Snopes.com (a great place to go to check out these type of email/urban myths). But he also shared some other information about CFLs:

“If one looks at the lifecycle analysis of CFLs versus incandescents, one sees that incandescents cause more mercury (almost 4X more) to be emitted into the environment over their lives than CFLs.  This is due to the mercury emitted during the electricity-generation process. (check out this Frequently Asked Questions Information on Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) and Mercury pdf  from November 2010 for more information).  This doesn’t address what happens in a discrete (home) environment, however.  CFLs can be finicky – they should definitely not be used with dimmers unless they are SPECIFICALLY LABELED DIMMER-CAPABLE.  I’ve read mixed results about CFLs in can lights – if the temperature around the CFL is too high, it can burn out prematurely.”

And dealing with burned out CFL bulbs, find proper recycling and disposal location(EPA suggestions or search locally pm Earth911).  Home Depot stores offer receptacles for CFLs as often do Lowes. Some campuses now collect them as well.


– Thanks Trey for your advice and expertise!

Ways to use old books

This web site from Online Colleges lists 80 awesomely,  creative ideas for reusing – instead of just discarding – old books. Ideas are categorize into:  around the house (yoga block or a book safe – cut hole in center), at work/school (pen holder or book shelf), decorating (a lamp or decoupage tabletop), reusing the pages (wrapping paper, mulch, kitty litter), for crafts (make a gift bag or greeting cards), for kids (leaf press or paper mache), for clothing/jewelry  (make a handbag or brooch) and more.

Thanks Alliance Library System’s Going Green Blog for their post that brought this site to my attention!

Recyclemania Winners

Winners of 2009 Recyclemania have been announced. This year over 510 schools from all 50 states, DC and Canada participated and collectively recycled or composted over 69.4 million pounds of waste during the 10 week period. The top winners:

  • Grand Champion: California State University, San Marcos
  • Waste Minimization: North Lake College
  • Stephen K Gaski Per Capita Classic: McNeese State University
  • Gorilla Prize: Rutgers University
  • Paper: Stephens College
  • Corrugated Cardboard: McNeese State University
  • Bottles & Cans: Kalamazoo College
  • Food Service Organics:Bard College

What is recyclemania? A 10 week competition for schools and colleges ranking  the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita, or have the highest recycling rate.

Interested in joining for 2010? email alecc@nrc-recycle.org and type this in your subject heading: “2010 RecycleMania Updates – {your institution or organization name}”.  more information on planning, tools, ideas, etc can be found on their Web site.

Recycled Paper

As we try and switch over to recycled paper in the library, many questions and issues arise. The cost – why is it more than virgin paper? What type of recycled paper do we want to buy?  And some people say that the recycled paper jams their printers.

Here are some answers I found exploring this recycled paper topic:

High cost? think economies of scale: virgin paper mills are well established while recycled paper mills are still developing on a smaller scale.  Also,  the gathering, refining, treating (in the most e-friendly way) to produce recycled paper costs more than just creating virgin paper. And recycled paper incorporates all its costs into the product (such as alternative to disposal) and is not rewarded fiscally for its significantly lower energy and water use. Virgin paper costs receive generous government timber, energy, and water subsidies and do not incorporate responsibility or costs for the product’s eventual disposal. And the consumerism factor – if more people buy it and there is more a market for the product, more competition in the market, and companies realize this is what people want (to pay for what they value) costs will eventually go down but in the end, you get what you pay for.

Recycled paper jamming a problem? Some reasons why: a bad batch of paper, poor maintenance of copier machine, improper storage of paper (allowing moisture to affect sheets), improper handling of paper (not fanning paper out, not loading paper according to grain, not allowing paper to warm up (or cool down) to match the temperature of the copier room), the user must be sure to orient the curl of the paper in the correct direction; too much dust in a copier room can be a killer, etc.  (Info from the Federal Network of Sustainability)  Here are some other articles on this topic:  Recycled Paper The Best Choice | National Assoc of Paper Merchants | Green Purchasing at Yale

More Recycling…

This blog I subscribe to How Can I Recycle This? is a great place to check out recycling ideas of all kinds: from gadgets (How can I reuse or recycle broken digital cameras & MP3 players? ) to art (How can I make a notebook out of recycled materials?) Have something odd at your library you want to discard – why not search their site and see what is suggested as a way to reuse or recycle it or add your own ideas.  If nothing else, it’s fun to see how creative people are!