Wonderfully whimsical upcycled star wars sculptures

Upcycling is becoming quite popular and I love it, but there’s more to upcycling than pallet box tables and wine bottles vases. Have a look at these amazing star wars sculptures made from tech components by Gabriel Dishaw.

Darth Vader.

star wars sculptures

C3PO

star wars sculptures

Images via Upcycle That

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A trip down recycling lane – where does your Christmas wrapping paper go?

 

This year for Christmas I made my own wrapping paper, choosing 100% recycled brown paper which I then stamped with festive designs. But whilst I was doing this, I began to ponder about the supply chain of recycled paper, and how ‘green’ recycled paper really is.

I have always assumed that buying recycled paper is better than buying new, resource conservation, closing the loop, and all the jazz. But after doing a bit of reading up on recycling processes, the energy and resources required and (frankly rather worryingly) the people working in this global industry. Now I am not so sure.

 So as we merrily throw our Christmas wrapping paper scraps in the direction of the recycling bin with a sense of environmental responsibility should we think any further? Where does our paper go and what happens to it?

Well, I would like to take you on a little trip along the recycling chain…

 

1. Paper is collected from your curb and taken to the local recycling centre where it is baled, it may also be stored here too.

2. The bales are then taken to a sorting centre, where they are sorted on a conveyer belt into grades, usually paper is recycled into the same type of product e.g. old newspapers will used to make new newspapers.

3. The sorted paper is then cut into small pieces and mixed with water and chemicals which dissolve it, resulting in a pulp, this mixture may also be heated.

4. The pulp is then cleaned using water, chemicals and centrifugal force to separate non-fibrous impurities such as staples, these waste materials are then rejected.

5. Surfactant chemicals are used to remove ink particles from the pulp, which are then discarded.

6. The paper pulp is cleaned a final time in a stage known as ‘washing’, the resulting pulp may by bleached if a white colour is needed. The paper is then ready to be sent to paper mills and manufactured into new products.

 

So, by recycling paper we are consuming quite a bit of energy, lot’s of water (a valuable commodity on a global scale), chemicals and industrial machinery. Oh, and did I mention many of these steps may be undertaken at different recycling centres, in different countries, or even different continents? So add onto that a fair bit of fuel used in transportation. Phew.   

But, it gets more complicated. The ‘eco-friendliness’ of the recycling process is largely dependant on how the respective centres and plants are fuelled. From the best – carbon neutral mills or those using their own by products and renewable energy to generate power – to the worst, – the coal-burning plants of China and the like-. Many experts state that if paper is recycled using energy obtained from burning coal, the carbon footprint of the process is so high it is not worth doing.

So is recycling worth doing? Yes, but the industry could do with becoming a bit more efficient, I would love to see more low-carbon or carbon-neutral plants, mills and centres, and as always, recycling is great, but it is no substitute for reducing consumption in the first place.

If you have become somewhat disillusioned with the recycling industry, please see below for some great alternative AND carbon-neutral ways to recycle your paper (Christmas or otherwise):

  • Compost it
  • Stuff cushions, bean bags or beloved toys
  • Free bedding for your pets (this is certainly where all of my shredded paper goes)
  • Crafts – wrapping paper makes beautiful origami, bows and ribbons, paper mache, the list is endless
  • Or if you have a LOT of time on your hands you could make a sculpture like the amazing ones by Chris Gilmour (see picture at the top of the page).  

 

Thanks for reading,  

 

 Lucy

Written using information from The Guardian online.

A world of waste..

So, what’s in the news? Oh yeah, Tesco and it’s first ever published waste stats – 30,000 tonnes of waste in the last 6 months. Yep, you heard correctly just 6 months.

Friends of the Earth have stated that much food waste could feed 800 hundred people for life. It seems so fundamentally wrong to me that the developed world is struggling against a growing obesity problem (no pun intended) whilst millions in the developing world are dying of starvation. Isn’t there a better way?

With so many homeless shelters and food banks can’t they just give the food away? In used to work for a local Bakers on Saturday’s when I was at school, and at the end of the day we easily filled two skips with bread, cakes etc. I asked why the owners did not give it away to a homeless shelter and was told that the shelter could not accept it due to health and safety. But how much truth is there in that? I had a quick browse, and could not find much. Some organisations DO give their food waste away to the needy, one of the first was PRET A Manger, who provide meals to many UK charities each day (as long as they collect it).

In his book ‘Waste’ Tristram Stuart states that many supermarkets and large retailers believe that giving away food waste will undermine their profits and that customers like to see well stocked shelves. Which puts paid to my next question – why not manage stock better? Order less and make more accurate predications for stock ordering? Apparently it is a cardinal sin for a supermarket to run out of something.

Some are better than others, Waitrose for example use much of their food waste to produce energy by anaerobic digestion, they also give food away according to their website.

But it is easy to point the finger at the supermarkets. But much blame lies with the consumer, the BBC state that family waste about £700.00 worth of food each year each! Which sounds crazy to me considering how much people complain about the cost of food (a lot in my experience).

Many people seem to think that food waste is not a big issue, ‘it’s non-toxic and just rots away on landfills right?’ Wrong. Anyone who has a compost heap knows that it needs turning to properly decompose. Food waste in landfill produces harmful methane, a big contributor to global warming, so we all need to do out bit to stop food waste.

Top Tips for reducing food waste

1. Arrange your food in the fridge in date order, i.e. expiring soonest at the front so you eat this first

2. Show our freezer some love

3. Just because its not tip top does not mean its not fit for anything. I can’t tell you how much softening fruit I have made into delicious cakes, pudding, jams, jellies of smoothies!

4. Stop buying (often obscure) foods you don’t eat (we all do it).

5. Pets, I often give vegetables that are a bit past their best to my Rabbit or Guinea Pigs but make sure to check it’s ok for them to eat first.

6. if you have the space start a compost heap or failing that make sure you recycle food waste

7. Donate to one of the wonderful organisations working to recycle food waste to the needy such as Love Food Hate Waste, Fareshare, or Foodcycle.

Thanks for reading

Lucy

Image source – Recycle now