Tires Made From Renewable Resources

Guest post by Trisha Miller – 

Tires made from recyclable materials will help alleviate a serious environmental and health risk

On average only about 35 percent of used tires are actually recycled. The rest end up in large supply at landfills, burn spots, and water dump areas. One major problem with tire dumpage is the fact that tires do not decay at an organic rate. The average tire will not decay for 60-80 years. In an attempt to solve this problem, people often collect tires and burn them in order to both get rid of the waste and have a very long lasting fire. Although, tires contain quite a lot of materials and chemicals that are hazardous to humans and the environment and undoubtedly should not be inhaled via flame. Lastly, tires that accumulate inside or near stagnant water often become a breeding ground for insects, such as mosquitoes, which carry deadly diseases like Malaria.

For all of these reasons and more many companies have begun to test renewable resources for manufacturing tires, instead of rubber.

Goodyear’s Soybean Tire

Back in 2012 Goodyear announced an innovative project that would reduce the use of fossil fuels in the production of tires. Namely, petroleum oil. The plan was to switch to a sustainable ingredient that can be used to improve the global economy by providing jobs around the world and create a quality product that does not contribute to harmful gas emissions.

Turns out they were right. During tests in 2014 Goodyear found out that the soybean ingredient increased tire tread life by 10 percent. The company has not released any information about the product as of late, but do have a small section on their Canadian website which lists the benefits of such a product. It seems that the manufacturer is still working behind the scenes to make this dream a reality.

Michelin’s Micropowder Tire

Michelin has also hopped on the sustainability bandwagon after predicting a shortage of petroleum-based tire ingredients by 2020. Ongoing tests have been experimenting the viability of alternative mediums such as straw, beets, and wood.

Their largest success that has been reported seems to be the micropowder TREC tire (TREC stands for tire recycling). Essentially, old tires are ground down into a very fine tire and are reused in the manufacturing of new tires. This process could potentially eliminate a massive amount of non-biodegradable waste across the globe.

The company has several interested companies, such as the French Agency for the Environment and Energy Management, that are investing big bucks into these projects – totaling an astounding $51 million.

Fraunhofer Dandelion Tire

German and Dutch scientists at the Fraunhofer institute have been working on a dandelion-based rubber tire for a few years now. The team recognized a serious issue in that the tire industry consumes about two-thirds of the world’s rubber resources. In retaliation to this discovery, the researchers began to breed a particular dandelion, from Kazakhstan, which produces a milky substance resembling ordinary tire ingredients.

The organization says that their largest challenge yet is to produce a sustainable product that will remove the pressure from diminishing resources, but will also be an outstanding, long lasting product on the road. So far their research has been fruitful. The team has been able to produce an equal amount of rubber as the current rubber plantations residing mostly in Asia.

Several large companies, like Bridgestone, have shown significant interest in the project and are contributing millions of dollars into their work. The end goal, of course, is to have first pick of the final project once testing has completed.

Coinciding with the decline of available fossil fuels, like petroleum, many businesses are predicting that an actual eco-tire may be on shelves as soon as 2020. Bridgestone, in particular, has made a statement letting customers know they want their sustainable tire to be the only type of tire offered by the year 2050. Needless to say, a total shift to renewable tires is essential in maintaining the health of the world’s eco-system and ozone. With such innovation happening at an exponential rate, there is no doubt that consumers will have an array of sustainable tires to choose from.


Trisha is a writer from Boise, ID. She is a dedicated vegan who promotes an all-around healthy lifestyle. You can find her on twitter @thatdangvegan or check out her blog thatdangvegan.com

Image credit: inautonews.com, under creative commons license 

Stylishly Greening Your Home With Wood

By Morris Buchanan

Eco-friendly wood can be a great building material for floors and blindsMajor home essentials like floors and windows, can doubly serve as accessories that decorate and enhance interior spaces. While envisioning the design and decor of your home, keep in mind the beauty and eco-friendliness of wood. Certain wood products, even for home projects, can positively affect the environment in the following ways.

Wood & The Environment

Whether wood harvesting harms the environment or wood products are a green material is an ongoing debate. For one, wood is naturally susceptible to damage from animals, insects and rotting, which is why hazardous chemical preservatives are applied to combat those vulnerabilities, explains EnviroLiteracy.org. Also, environmentalists believe that “standard wood harvesting practices” put the health of forests at risk, thus worsening the effects of global warming. Of course, there are always two sides to a debate — wood products may actually live a greener life than alternative materials in the following ways:

  • Energy consumption: Compared to wooden poles, the lifetime energy consumption of steel poles is four times higher. Conclusively, wood products use less energy.
  • Carbon dioxide emissions: During the wood harvesting process, the energy used consists of renewable resources. The Environmental Literacy Council adds that by replanting trees, carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere because they use it to grow. Carbon is still not released from trees until it decays or burns.
  • Alternatives: As wood alternatives, products made of concrete, steel and aluminum can contribute to emissions. And plastic and steel processing use fossil fuel energy and non-renewable resources.

Not only can wood be an eco-friendly household material, it’s also stylish. Green your interior-design theme with eye-catching wooden accents, such as hardwood flooring and wood blinds.

Hardwood Flooring

Upgrading to hardwood flooring not only helps reduce energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, but it creates a distinct and rustic appearance. Distressed or hand-scraped wood in cherry, maple or oak from Armstrong.com can dramatically enhance the look of an interior space. For an elegant and earthy appearance, make a statement with cherry hardwood in cinnamon mist or chocolate frost stain. Maple hardwood in winter neutral or toasted almond brightens a space and complements natural sunlight streaming through a large bay window.

Window Treatments

Adorn your windows with wood blinds for an effortlessly chic appearance. Made from natural American basswoods and more than 35 exclusive eco-friendly materials, The Shade Store’s collection of wooden blinds will stylishly enhance your living room or bedroom. Keep your design neutral with blinds in snow, gold or pine. To complement bold decor, go for rich hues, such as tiger eye, cherry wood or ebony. Wooden blinds are sleek enough to independently make an aesthetic statement. Install exotic wood blinds in zebrano or laminated wood in teak, and you don’t even have to worry about drapery.

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Morris studied interior design and hopes to open his own studio someday soon. In the meantime, hes content writing about fashion and design

Product Review: Juicebar Pocket Solar Charger

Disclaimer: I was provided Juicebar portable solar charger from Cableorganizer.com  for testing and review. The opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own

The Juicebar solar charger and accessories As described, the Juicebar pocket portable solar charger is a pocket-sized mobile battery/solar charger compatible with a wide variety of mobile devices, complete with a selection of adaptors for use with your particular device. For my case, I’ve tested it with my iPod touch and LG Optimus S phone and found no issues with connections or compatibility.

The Juicebar is simple enough. One side houses the solar panel, and the other has charge indicator bar and two buttons, one to display the available charge and the other for a small LED flashlight – the addition of the flashlight may be an indication of the intended use of the Juicebar, which we’ll get into in a moment.

Testing and use

Out of the box, as per instructions, I charged the battery via supplied USB  cable connected to my iMac to get the unit fully charged, which took a couple of hours. With the fully charged Juicebar battery I was able to recharge my iPod touch in a relatively short time – about two hours.

The next test was recharging the now depleted Juicebar battery in direct sunlight and using it to charge-up my LG phone. The instruction manual says that Juicebar takes between 10 and 12 hours to fully charge via the device’s solar panel. In the late-winter sun I had available to me for the test, I was able to give the Juicebar about six hours of sunlight, providing enough juice to charge the phone from approximately 32 percent to about 90 percent before the Juicebar gave out.

I attempted to recharge the depleted battery in sunlight, but after nearly a full day in the sun (about 8 hours – still less than the recommended time for a full sunlight-fueled charge), Juicebar was only charged to approximately 60-70 percent. Attempting to recharge the iPod touch from around 30 percent, I only got about three-quarters charge before Juicebar itself needed more charge; time to plug it back into the iMac to get a good, full charge.

Conclusions

I’ve been using the Juicebar portable solar charger for a little over a week now, and while the unit does have some limitations, once understood the Juicebar should prove a useful device in the right situations for keeping my mobile devices charged – namely when I’m traveling or temporarily away from a convenient source of power.

The Juicebar isn’t intended (0r isn’t suited for) replacing the main source of power for recharging your mobile devices (typically the plug on your wall). I’ve seen Juicebar advertised as an energy-saving device to help reduce your energy bills, which in my opinion is very misleading. In terms of energy conservation the results are negligible almost to the point of being non-existent – though every little bit helps.

But that’s not really what the Juicebar is for, Perhaps I haven’t had enough opportunity to try it exclusively as a solar charger but it seems to me there will be occasions when a full recharge via USB cable will be necessary. The principal utility of the Juicebar is for when you’re traveling, away from a standard power source and need a charge, and generally keeping your mobile devices charged in a pinch. And for that the Juicebar Pocket Mobile Charger does a fine job.

 The Juicebar Pocket Solar Charger is available from Cableorganizer.com for $49.99

 

Green Gift Giving Guide

Ethical Ocean's Holiday Gift Giving Guide‘Tis the season to give and receive. It is a time to express our love and appreciation for family, friends, and colleagues. But many are also looking for gifts that give a little bit back to the Earth and express a concern for a lighter footprint. So without further ado, here is Hippie Magazine’s recommended resource for green, organic, and fair trade gift selections for everyone on your list:

It can be tough to find holiday gifts that the special “hippie” in your life will appreciate, or maybe the hippie inside you would like to find gifts for your friends and families which give back to the world. In either case, a new North American marketplace called Ethical Ocean has put together a great ethical holiday gift guide which will help Santa be a little greener this year.

Covering fair trade, eco-friendly, organic and animal-friendly gift ideas for everyone from the newest addition in your family to the love of your life, this guide clearly spells out what is ethical about each product and why they’ll love it. From eco-friendly boomerangs for the kid (or kid at heart) in your life, to an organic home spa kit that comes in a bamboo steamer, holiday shopping for hippies has never been so simple.

EarthTalk: Non-Animal Tested Cleaning Products

EarthTalk® is a weekly environmental column made available to our readers from the editors of E/The Environmental Magazine

The Leaping Bunny logo is now displayed on the packaging of more than 300 cosmetics and household products for sale across the U.SDear EarthTalk: I am very interested in purchasing household cleaners whose ingredients and final product are not tested on animals. Where do I look? Debbie Reek, via e-mail

According to most animal advocates, the fact that manufacturers of household cleaners still use animals to test the toxicity of their products is not only inhumane—why should innocent animals have to suffer and die so we can get our floors a little cleaner?—but also illogical, as modern lab tests not involving living creatures can discern more practical information faster and for less money. Another problem with animal testing is that its findings don’t always successfully predict real-world human outcomes.

According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), for instance, animal tests on rats and rabbits over several decades “failed to predict the birth defect-causing properties of PCBs, industrial solvents and many drugs, while cancer tests in rats and mice failed to detect the hazards of asbestos, benzene, cigarette smoke, and many other substances.” The group blames these shortcomings of animal testing for “delaying consumer and worker protection measures by decades in some cases.”

While animal product testing is still allowed in the U.S. (researchers here are continuing to improve alternative testing methods that can potentially replace the use of live animals in the lab), Europe is leading the charge toward a future where highly trained lab technicians with computers and robots will replace sacrificial animals in assessing the toxicity of various substances. A ban on animal testing in cosmetics and household products will go into effect across the European Union in 2013.

American animal advocates would like to see similar legislation on the books in the U.S., but at this juncture it appears unlikely to happen for some time. Nonetheless, many are hopeful that Europe’s action on the issue will help move the cosmetics and household products industries in the U.S. and elsewhere away from harming animals for consumers’ sake.

In the meantime, if you’re looking to avoid household cleaners that subject critters to poisons, you’ve never had so many choices. Back in 1996 eight national animal protection groups banded together to form the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC) in order to unify behind one standard for so-called “cruelty-free” cosmetics and household products. The resulting Leaping Bunny certification logo is now proudly displayed on the packaging of more than 300 cosmetics and household products for sale across the U.S. The shopping guide on the coalition’s LeapingBunny.org website points consumers to various household cleaning and other types of products that don’t contain any ingredients subject to new animal testing.

Some of the top household cleaning products that meet Leaping Bunny criteria and are practical for a wide range of domestic tasks come from companies such as Seventh Generation, Earth Friendly Products, Earth Alive, Citra Solv, Nature Clean and Vermont Soapworks, among many others. You can order these products online via websites like Planet Natural, and many are sold in natural food stores.

 

Image Credit: Leaping Bunny
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EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E – The Environmental Magazine.