Posts Tagged ‘trash’

Eco Blog: dedication to Green Hauling

Oakland Gambles with New Trash Hauling Contract

August 6th, 2014


For the first time in years, the city of Oakland will be counting on a different company to handle garbage pickup.

Last week, city council unanimously voted to award the highly coveted 10-year contract (valued at $1 billion) to California Waste Solutions (CWS), an Oakland-based company whose primary expertise lies in recycling. The decision to place garbage-collecting responsibilities for the entire city in the hands of a company with no experience with garbage represents an extremely risky venture.

With CWS taking over garbage collection duties, it marks the end a decades-long business relationship between the city and Waste Management, the agency previously handling garbage pickup. At times in the past the relationship has been strained, many pointing the Waste Managements decision to lock out 500 members of the Teamsters labor union after workers refused the companies demand that they pay a larger share of their healthcare benefits as a major factor. As a result, trash was left uncollected for two weeks and city officials were not too happy. (Source)

The major turning point during negotiations came when Waste Management refused to budge off the proposed $100 a year rate increase. CWS offered a more competitive bid, with a figure that would only cost residents around $80 more per year. With the winning bid comes the daunting task of CWS expanding their current operations to meet its new needs. In less then a year, CWS must:

  • Build a transfer station in Oakland
  • Add 150+ employees
  • Double its 70-truck fleet
  • Invest around $80 million into operations
  • Swap out 300,000 trash bins

Should CWS fall short during preparations, they have prepared to let Republic Services, the second largest garbage service in the US, will allow them to use their transfer station in Richmond.


Upcycle It! Turning Trash into Treasure

May 1st, 2014

Making stuff out of junk lying around goes back to our earliest memories of making pies out of mud.  It’s instinctive…and it’s as much a part of being a kid, as getting ice cream all over your face.  For the past two years, kids have been getting to be kids – and – do something great for the planet at the Richmond Art Center’s second-annual maker festival: Upcycle.  The family-centric event invites kids of all ages to make art and essentials out of, well, junk.  While families create art from the stuff of landfills, they also are treated to some timely lessons about how they can continue to be creative about waste, rather than just kicking old stuff to the curb – another popular habit with kids (Source:

Building on the runaway popularity of the Bay Area’s Maker Faire, kids learn to turn water into wine, so to speak, fashioning bags from old clothing scraps, rugs from T-shirts, and a timeless favorite – making mosaics out of old plates and tile pieces. The old inner tube conundrum gets worked out, as old bicycle inner tubes are transformed into – you guessed it! – jewelry. The Crucible, a bastion of upcycle creativity, would be proud to see the kids, parents and friends getting a taste of soldering 3-D stuff that may or may not be sculptural. Rounding out the experience, artists will be on hand to help connect participants with their inner artist, musicians who make music out of recycled/upcycled materials. A d as an extra bonus, all materials are free – of course.

For those who weren’t able to make it to this year’s Upcycle, there are a bunch of cool things you can do all on your own to make magic outta messy stuff. In honor of Earth Day last year, junk hauler Fast Haul put together a nifty list for those who aren’t afraid to be creative and craft with junk (Source:

Disposable_Chopsticks_Making_Machine_1Number One: Chopstick

Ever notice how sturdy these are and feel a pang of guilt at just throwing them away?  Banish that remorse by turning them into an earth-friendly fruit bowl for yourself or as a gift.




Number Two: Bottle Glasses

Lately, it seems that we have almost as many options for non-alcoholic specialty drinks in the refrigerated section of the grocery store as we do alcoholic beverages. And the bottles are increasingly highly stylistic and artsy.  While recycling these is acceptable in more and more communities, an even better solution is to re-use or upcycle them.


Number Three: the Ugly Tie Solution

It’s inescapable that at some point, if you’re a guy, you’ll be given (with due affection) the ugliest tie you’ve ever seen.  Where do these things go?  Thrift shops, most likely.  Ties don’t have huge resell value, so they are – in terms of yardage – a real steal…and they make great source material for funky clutches, and the like.


Number Four: the Accidental Tourist (Suitcase Pet Bed)

Thrift stores practically throw old suitcases with broken handles, missing hinges, etc. at you when you walk in the door.  For a fraction of the cost of a ready-made pooch bed, you can make your own out of one half of a suitcase.




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Number Five:  Coast-to-Coast Cardboard Coasters

Easy, fun, and oh-so-earth-day, these are a nice way to upcycle some of the packaging that comes from all our online shopping.




By: Ethan Malone


Is it Too Early to be Green in Space? The Trash Continues to Culminate

April 18th, 2014

ESA_spacedebrisHuman waste isn’t isolated to merely the surface of the planet Earth. Since the moment the people of this planet began an interest in space, the amount of trash left behind has expanded. Whether it is the remnants of a rocket booster or decommissioned orbiting satellites, there is a great deal of trash above the heads of everyone. In rare instances, some of this trash has made it back to Earth’s surface. Luckily, there has yet to be a fatality from this orbiting danger.

A Lot of Debris Up There – By 2010, approximately 3700 inactive satellites had been detected as well as more than 15,000 other objects the size of a fist or larger. This isn’t including more than 500,000 smaller pieces ranging from marble sized and up. Given the amount of area surrounding the Earth in terms of actual space, this may not sound like it poses a threat. Consider that a very large portion of these pieces are traveling at a high velocity, a great deal of area can be covered by just a handful of debris.

Phones, Internet and TV are Threatened – Currently, equipment and electronics that are used on a regular basis face the greater danger. A high-velocity aluminum object came within a mile of striking the International Space Station. The 10-centimeter object was traveling at such a rate that it would have been the equivalent of seven kilograms of TNT detonating should it have hit the space station. An impact of that magnitude would have decimated the ISS.

Speed Plus Frictionless Space Equals Disaster – What makes the debris so dangerous is the rate of speed these objects are traveling. Even something the size of a marble can leave a fairly large crater depending on how fast it’s traveling. The faster an object is moving, the greater the kinetic force is behind that object. Should a small piece of debris strike a GPS satellite or other communications device, it could destroy that object causing confusion on planet Earth.

Restricting Humanity’s Activity in Space – The more trash that humankind puts into orbit, the greater the risk is for future exploration. All of the communications that people take for granted on a daily basis could quickly become rendered useless. This isn’t including the dangers that larger objects pose to those people below. A thruster from a rocket could virtually reduce several city blocks to nothing more than dust should it fall with great enough velocity.

Getting Rid of the Trash – In 2013, many have become interested in the “Slig-Sat” project. Essentially, it is a satellite that grabs larger pieces of debris and hurls it into other areas of space that don’t pose a threat to Earth. However, some believe that this is essentially causing additional problems for the space travelers of tomorrow. It would be the equivalent of moving a landfill to another part of the landscape. Sooner or later, it’s still going to cause a problem. Others believe that sending the debris on a trajectory for the Sun would be a more viable option. This would make our star the largest trash incinerator in human history.

Although we produce technology to make as little of an impact as possible, humanity is still threatened by trash on the ground and in the skies. While some take the prospect of space debris seriously, there is less effort in the process than what many believe there should be. Will it take the annihilation of a small city by a rocket booster or satellite before humanity understands how dangerous space trash truly is?

Ken Myers is a father, husband, and entrepreneur. He has combined his passion for helping families find in-home care with his experience to build a business. Learn more about him by visiting @KenneyMyers on Twitter.

What’s in the Junk Pile? Recognizing the Pests That Collect When It Goes Uncollected

December 19th, 2013

garbage_binsMaybe it’s in your yard, maybe it’s under the deck, or maybe it’s in the garage where only those you trust can see it. The junky pile of scraps or firewood is every homeowner’s dirty little secret they don’t have the wherewithal to deal with. But, left unattended, these piles of your own procrastination will attract the worst sort of pests.

You’re not using it, you don’t need it, and you know you don’t, but they do. Here are just some of the pests your procrastination personified could be attracting or, as I like to think of it, “more than 15 reasons to haul the junk away.”

Pavement Ants or Odorous House Ants

These are not the little black ants your typically see outside in anthills. These ants nest in both piles of wood and debris, until winter, when they get into your house and eat your food The “odorous” ones smell like rancid butter when squished (because revenge, like any dish, is best served with butter involved in some way).

You can try baiting them to rid yourself of a colony once you realize they’re a problem, but not all ants respond well to bait.

La Cucaracha

Cockroaches love dark recesses of varying dampness. The closer to your home (and kitchen) that is, the better they like it. Leaving junk lying around is just making their eventual invasion of your home one step (call it 1,000 cockroach steps) easier.

And good luck if you find out they’ve jumped from the rubbish pile to your house—it’s almost certainly necessary that you call an exterminator at this point.

Covered in Bees

It’s not that these particular insects carry diseases (they don’t) or that they’re gross (honeybees are actually held by some to be quite pretty). But when bees and similar insects (especially carpenter bees and yellow jackets) make their nests in your yard—perhaps on that long-neglected vintage fixer-upper or the winter wood pile you never use?—that they become an especially semi-dangerous nuisance, especially to pets and children or those with allergies to bee sting venom.

If such a thing has happened in your yard, DO NOT try to deal with this problem yourself! This is not something you can find a Pinterest tutorial for—leave it to those trained in pest removal and then get rid of the place that allowed them to nest on your property to begin with—especially if you have young children or pets. This cannot be a reoccurring problem for you and your peace of mind.

Flies, Fruits Flies, and Fungus Gnats

These germy little winged fiends love (respectively) garbage, rotten fruit, and anything decaying.

Each of these bugs is one more reason, (1) that it’s important to keep things around your garbage can or dumpster neat and clean, and (2) that you should only start a compost pile in your garden if you’re dedicated in an in-it-to-win-it kind of way.

Luckily, except in extreme cases, they usually leave with the nasty stuff attracting them.

Millipedes and Centipedes

Well, actually you’re attracting the smaller insects that centipedes feed on, but that means attracting centipedes and their nasty stings as well as millipedes (whose secretions cause blisters on human skin upon contact).

Get rid of the places they hide and you hopefully will be done with them.

Rodents and Raccoons

Raccoons will nest anywhere they can hide, and once they have shelter in your yard it won’t be long before they’re down your chimney and making a muck of your attic and walls—same goes for rodents!

And these nasty things do have to be professionally removed and cleaned up after. Make it harder for them to nest by having large, vacuous piles of debris hauled off.


The pest to end all pests—they burrow from the ground and into any wood they can find to feed and live, practically ruining your home in the process.

Don’t give the buggers more ammunition! Remove any exposed wood from your property, and check any wood you have stored—termites spread easily from firewood piles to structural wood—where they can wreak havoc and will need to be professionally exterminated (whether you have a problem with termite control in Long Island or in Arizona). No need to draw the swarms closer.

Take care of junk piles now and keep your (and you home’s) future as pest-free as possible!

About the Author:
Lucy Markham is an avid blogger and researches with companies like Suburban Exterminating. Lucy, as a recent homeowner, considers herself a bit of an expert on all things home improvement, gardening, and home decoration.

San Francisco Artist Turns Trash Into Treasures

December 13th, 2013

SlDr.Em.4A few months back, Fast Haul created an infographic, Turning Trash Into Treasure, where they highlighted eight different examples of turning household “trash” into “treasure” by exercising just a bit of creativity such as turning old chopsticks into a retro looking fruit basket or transforming old bicycle chains into unique bottle opener. The infographic can be seen here:

According to the Sacramento Bee, it looks like some artists are taking the initiative to turning trash-dump finds into treasures. In partnership with Recology, the Artist in Residence program allow a selected number of applicants to gather inspiration from what others throw away at the public disposal and recycling center. Local San Francisco conceptual multimedia artists, Yulia Pinkusevich and Stephanie Syjuco are among the selected few.

Founded in 1990, the Artist in Residence program was to educate the public about recycling and conservation with the help of the ingenuity of artists from around the world. The program offer artist a stipend, dump access and nearby studio space for four months. At the conclusion of the program, the artists’ artwork will be showcased and displayed in a number of public and private spaces or exhibition.

For this year Artist in Residence, both Pinkusevich and Syjuco joined the program coming from different perspective. Syjuco joined the program with the idea of creating an alternative vending structure to showcase the things she finds. Pinkusevich, on the other hand, believes she have found her calling, as she has been avid in using reuse materials in her drawing class that she teach at Stanford University.


By: Ethan Malone


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