It would be easy to overlook these trash receptacles just outside the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Downtown Oklahoma City. They look pretty much like any other trash or recycling bins. But, they are not. They actually employ solar power to compact the materials and information technologies to provide real-time fullness status updates. The Big Belly Solar Compactor and Compacting Recycler system was installed earlier this month on the southwest side of the ballpark. As waste collects inside the bin, an internal “eye” senses when the bin is getting full then triggers a compacting cycle. This process allows the bin to hold about 5 times the amount of waste as a similar-sized receptacle. That results in fewer collection trips saving labor and transportation costs. But wait … there’s more. The system also gives real-time on whether or not collection is required, which either results in additional savings or the opportunity for better service. This seems like a very innovative solution to a common problem.
No, this isn’t about what the contents inside your refrigerator reveal about your eating habits. This is what the number of magnets, photos and other things on the outside of your refrigerator could reveal. In a new study, “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century: 32 Families Open Their Doors”, researchers found the more things on the front of the refrigerator, the more items per square foot in the rest of the house. Or at least that was the case for the 32 middle-class, dual-income families in Los Angeles that were observed in the study conducted over the past four years. Researchers also estimated that a family’s possessions increased by 30% with each new child during the preschool years.
NeighborGoods.net has taken the concept of borrowing from and lending to neighbors to a whole new level. The organization encourages peer-to-peer borrowing and lending through forming local communities of borrowers and lenders. NeighborGoods helps facilitate the transaction through an online reservation calendar and automated reminders. In addition to listing items to lend members can add items they want to borrow to a “wish list”. Peer ratings and reviews help members determine if they want to lend to a particular individual. The website lists the benefits of saving money, reducing waste and strengthening communities.
A few years ago, I started a lending program for my coworkers with some DVDs I had been given. This was well before Netflix and other online services became popular. Our ”movie club” had about 100 DVDs (& VHS tapes). The concept was simple. If you wanted a movie, take it, but just bring it back when you finish watching it… nothing to sign (which bothered my coworkers more than it bothered me) and no rental or late fees. The concept actually worked pretty well. We did lose three or four movies and a couple of movies were returned damaged. A couple of people contributed movies to the club, but that was never a requirement. My goal in establishing the program was to help my co-workers save money.
The concept of saving money by sharing the things we own is certainly interesting, but not without risks. The risks include the loss of or damage to the item or even liability if the item causes injury or damage. It will be interesting to see how well programs like NeighborGoods perform over the next few years.
A couple of weeks ago, I posted a blog about what to do with old blue jeans, especially those that were too worn out to be donated for someone else to wear. The blog included some links to different things that could be made from jeans. I also offered to send my old jeans to anyone who would make something out of them and send me a picture. My wife read my blog and took me up on the offer. I like what she created out of old jeans that seemed destined to be thrown away. This bag will come in handy for carrying groceries.
My previous offer still stands. I have one more pair of old jeans that I’ll send to anyone (in the US) who will make something out of them and send me the picture.
On Thursday I toured the Goodwill Center at 316 South Blackwelder in Oklahoma City. This location houses their corporate headquarters, a large retail store and a huge warehouse, where donations are processed and stored. Although they’ve only been in this location for a couple of years, they already appear to be near capacity.
Only about 40% of the donations they receive can be sold at their retail stores. While it would be easy to throw the other 60% away, Goodwill doesn’t operate that way. As much as possible, they strive to get value out of all of the things people donate. A partnership with Dell Computers helps repurpose and recycle computer equipment. Dell Computers then returns the profits to help fund the training programs Goodwill offers to those with disabilities. Clothing in good condition is sold in one of their ten retail stores in central Oklahoma. Clothing that is not salable is bundled then sold to textile recyclers. Also, Goodwill of Central Oklahoma (GICO) is one of the few organizations accepting styrofoam for recycling. Through a donation from the ONEOK Foundation, GICO was able to purchase a densifying machine that removes the air from styrofoam reducing it to a plastic material that is sold to manufacturers. The net result of Goodwill’s recycling efforts is that they effectively use about 95% of the donations they receive which keeps about 10 million pounds of goods out of the landfills in central Oklahoma.
But wait, there’s more… the primary goal of Goodwill is to “assist persons with disabilities and disadvantages in finding employment.” GICO employs more than 600 people in Central Oklahoma offering job training, career development and contract work. The money they earn from the retail stores and recycling programs helps make this possible. It is amazing that they are able to take the things people no longer need and turn them in to things people really need… jobs.
I’ve had a couple of pairs of old blue jeans in the trunk of my car for several months with the intent of finding a place to recycle them. Normally, the obvious choices were to either take them to our clothing room at the church or give them to Goodwill, but these jeans are too worn out to be given away like that.
I had heard that blue jeans could be recycled as insulation and that Ford even uses recycled jeans in making the carpet backing for the 2012 Ford Focus. (Forbes Magazine: Ford Focus Uses Recycled Jeans) However, I haven’t found a place locally to make that happen.
Then, the other day I learned that Levi’s from the 1800′s could be worth thousands of dollars and even some from the 1900′s could still have significant value, but my jeans weren’t quite that old. This site has more information on checking old pairs of Levi’s to see if they may have value. (Mademan.com: How to Find Value of a Vintage Levi Jean.)
I quickly discovered that a lot of people have been thinking about what to do with old blue jeans and have made some very useful things from discarded jeans. Here is just a small sampling of the things I found. Links to the how to guides are included.
- Blue Jean Quilts – How to Make Blue Jean Quilts
- Purses – How to Make a Purse from Blue Jeans
- Rugs – How to Make Becca’s Jean Rag Rug
- Book Covers – Jeans Book Cover
- Coasters – How to Make Coasters out of Blue Jeans
- Many More Items – Twenty-five Things to Do with Old Jeans
So, what did I decide to do with my two pairs of jeans? I would like to give them away to someone who will make one of the items listed above or maybe another item he or she would like to make. Just leave me information (under the comments – I won’t post your personal information) on where to send the jeans and what you plan to make. All I ask is that sometime this year you send me a picture (or pictures) of your project (which I will gladly post).
Normally, I blog about how to find good uses for things that you have but no longer need by selling, recycling, donating or re-purposing those items. I am also fascinated with people who are able to turn throwaway items into things of value.
A great example of this is found in a story in The Oklahoman written by Carla Hinton a couple of weeks ago. “Pop tab purses connect Oklahomans to Uganda” tells how women in Uganda make purses and accessories out of aluminum pull tabs to pay living and educational expenses for African women who were victims of Joseph Kony‘s Lord’s Resistance Army. Rosemary Nyirumbe, a Catholic nun in Uganda, teaches the girls at St. Monica’s Girls School how to sew the purses. She and Rachelle Whitten formed Sisters United, LLC to help sell the products. When I can find more information on where to buy the products, I will post it.