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Posts Tagged ‘garbage’

Photo: Big Belly
Foot-pedal version of Big Belly for those who are squeamish about handles. (That would be me.)

Those Swedes! What will they think of next?

Are you familiar with the Big Belly solar-powered trash compactors sprouting up in public places? Well, in Uppsala, Sweden, the trash compactors have been taught to sing.

From a company post on Youtube: “Bigbelly International Partner, EWF, introduced an innovative and inspiring campaign to raise awareness of the Bigbelly Smart Waste & Recycling system in the metropolitan city of Uppsala, Sweden – home to one of the largest deployments in the world.

“The Uppsala ‘Waste Choir’ had their first performance during the Valborg celebrations on April 30th. Valborg is an annual holiday to welcome spring in Sweden. …

“The beautifully wrapped Bigbellys – each as a unique character and voice in the choir – stood together in front of 60,000+ visitors to the city and sang traditional Swedish songs in celebration of spring! …

“As noted in a press release regarding the campaign: ‘Citizens and visitors could for the first time listen to a garbage choir during the famous celebration of Walpurgis in the University City of Uppsala. The choir consists of 20 so called smart dust bins run by solar energy. Uppsala and Sweden are known for their many choirs.

“Maria Gardfjell (MP), chairman of the responsible municipal board had the honor of introducing the choir and informing the audience about other commitments to diminish littering.

“Fundamentally, it is an issue of changing attitudes and to encourage all of us to put our litter where it belongs, in a dust bin. … Since Uppsala introduced smart dust bins in 2013, the visible litter in the City Park and other main parks has decreased by 20 percent. The work environment for the sanitary workers has improved and the usage of plastic bags has decreased by 80 percent.”

Read the press release in full, here. And listen to the singing trash cans here:

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It was KerryCan who told me about a Canadian who supports himself on things other people throw out.

As he explains at his blog Things I Find in the Garbage, “I’m a professional scavenger and entrepreneur making a living selling curbside garbage. This blog details my finds and sales. It also acts as an archive for things beautiful and historic that would otherwise have been destroyed.” Each week he tells us how much he made on selling the castoffs.

Today he has a long post that includes: “My favourite find since last post came totally by accident. I was out walking to a friend’s house in the Mile End on Saturday and came across this stuff on Clark. It had been raining heavily. This trunk caught my eye immediately. It was beautiful and I wanted it bad – I just had to make sure there weren’t any bugs involved in its tossing.

“Fortunately, while I doing an inspection a pizza delivery guy came and rang the bell of the house. After the transaction was completed I asked the person who lived there if they were throwing out the trunk, and if it was good to take. He told me he was moving and he didn’t have any use for it, which is what I expected given the “for sale” sign in front of his house and the delivered pizza (classic moving food!). I called my friend and she helped me get it home.

“It’s a really great piece. It was made from cedar by the Honderich Furniture Company of Milverton Ontario, likely in the 30s or 40s. It has the usual trunk space but also a shelf at the bottom. There’s a few small cosmetic issues but overall it’s in amazing condition. If I were to sell it I imagine I could get at least 200, maybe even 300 dollars for it, but since it’s so useful for storage I’m going to keep it myself.” More here.

It’s a lot of work to sell things that aren’t wanted anymore. Last summer, I sold a Singer sewing machine from the 1950s on eBay, and I can’t imagine doing that for everything that I no longer use. Too time consuming. My cousin Margot sells on eBay so often she doesn’t seem to mind it. She even sells things for friends. The Canadian “garbage picker” appears to have a variety of sales outlets, including his blog.

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When a river is full of trash, polluted, and maybe locked in a below-street culvert,  returning it to glory may seem too great a task. But that is what cities around the country are doing, “daylighting” urban rivers, cleaning them up, and ensuring they become the featured assets they were meant to be.

Sometimes this starts with just one person.

John tweeted an article about such a person today. CNN’s Kathleen Toner and Erika Clarke wrote from Memphis, “In the past 15 years, Chad Pregracke has helped pull more than 67,000 tires from the Mississippi River and other waterways across the United States. But that’s just scratching the surface.

“He’s also helped retrieve 218 washing machines, 19 tractors, 12 hot tubs, four pianos and almost 1,000 refrigerators.

” ‘People intentionally dumped [these] in river and also littered,’ Pregracke said. ‘Even 100 miles away, [trash] will find its way into a creek or a storm drain and into, ultimately, the Mississippi River.’

“For Pregracke, removing this debris has become his life’s work. Sometimes called ‘The Rivers’ Garbageman,’ he lives on a barge about nine months out of the year with members of his 12-person crew. Together, they organize community cleanups along rivers across the country.

” ‘The garbage got into the water one piece at a time,’ Pregracke said. ‘And that’s the only way it’s going to come out.’

“It’s a dirty job, but Pregracke, 38, took it on because he realized that no one was doing it. It began as a solo effort, and over the years his energy, enthusiasm and dedication have helped it grow. To date, about 70,000 volunteers have joined his crusade, helping him collect more than 7 million pounds of debris through his nonprofit, Living Lands & Waters.”

More here. You can vote for Pregracke as Hero of the Year if you click there.

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I just got a great lead from Erik. It seems that Sweden has run out of garbage for running its waste-to-energy program. Fortunately, Norway has garbage it can spare. (I wonder if Erik’s buddy Svein knows that.)

Check out Matt Hickman at Mother Nature Network:

“Sweden, birthplace of the Smörgåsbord, Eric Northman, and the world’s preferred solar-powered purveyor of flat-pack home furnishings, is in a bit of a pickle: the squeaky clean Scandinavian nation of more than 9.5 million has run out of garbage. The landfills have been tapped dry; the rubbish reserves depleted. And although this may seem like a positive — even enviable — predicament for a country to be facing, Sweden has been forced to import trash from neighboring countries, namely Norway. Yep, Sweden is so trash-strapped that officials are shipping it in — 80,000 tons of refuse annually, to be exact — from elsewhere.

“You see, Swedes are big on recycling. So big in fact that only 4 percent of all waste generated in the country is landfilled.

“Good for them! However, the population’s remarkably pertinacious recycling habits are also a bit of a problem given that the country relies on waste to heat and to provide electricity to hundreds of thousands of homes through a longstanding waste-to-energy incineration program. So with citizens simply not generating enough burnable waste to power the incinerators, the country has been forced to look elsewhere for fuel. Says Catarina Ostlund, a senior advisor for the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency: ‘We have more capacity than the production of waste in Sweden and that is usable for incineration.

“Public Radio International has the whole story (hat tip to Ariel Schwartz at Co.Exist), a story that may seem implausible in a country like garbage-bloated America where overflowing landfills are anything but scarce.” Read more.

Photograph: Smath/Flickr

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In case anyone thought that this blog wasn’t eclectic enough, I’m linking today to a story about garbage collection in Taiwan.

“For several years, Taiwan’s garbage trucks have played classical music as they travel through crowded residential areas, drawing forth residents with their garbage. Conceived by Taiwan’s Environmental Protection Administration as a way to decrease pests and odors in outdoor public trash disposal areas, the trucks musically notify residents that they are to bring their garbage directly to the trucks, ensuring that the garbage never sits on the curb attracting vermin and releasing odors.”

I wonder how two-career families who aren’t home to respond to the music deal with this. Read more on Taiwan’s approach at New York’s classical music station, WQXR.

Meanwhile, at Los Alamos, Americans show they can innovate in garbage collection, too. I think my grandson will like this truck.

 

 


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