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Trash the Greenwashing and Recycle These Useful Green Initiatives

Oct. 1, 2012
One of my pet peeves about the green movement is the way some people focus on buying trendy, recycled products when the truly green alternative would be to buy nothing at all and instead reduce your consumption.

One of my pet peeves about the green movement is the way some people focus on buying trendy, recycled products when the truly green alternative would be to buy nothing at all and instead reduce your consumption.

With that said, I admit I have a few of these culprits at home, some of which I very much enjoy – a bowl woven from trash, a picture frame constructed of old newspapers, and a beautiful purple necklace made out of recycled paper beads. But I recognize that encouraging people to buy more things they don’t need (even if they are lovely, recycled things) is not green at all.

Of course, we can’t overlook the many recycled-products initiatives that serve practical and utilitarian purposes. Take, for example, this building in Nevada that was made with recycled beer bottles.

The company Realm of Design obtains and recycles beer bottles from Las Vegas Strip hotels into “GreenStone” architectural stone. Morrow Royal Pavilion (pictured above), the company’s new 30,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, utilized more than 500,000 beer bottles, which amounted to over 290,000 pounds of recycled glass for the exterior building façade. This saved over 400,000 CU yards of landfill space, which is equivalent to filling eight football fields piled to the top of the goalpost.

This might make you look at your beer bottle in a different light, no?

Green Business Initiatives

Fortunately, many individuals and companies recognize the value of implementing real green initiatives rather than simply hanging a piece of art made from recycled metal in the office lobby.

Euromed is one company that understands that environmentally friendly business practices are necessary for both the planet and the bottom line. Here are some of the green initiatives undertaken by Euromed Barcelona, a manufacturer of herbal extracts and natural active substances:

Recycling biomass. Euromed Barcelona found different ways to recycle the post-extraction biomass, including sending much of the residue to companies that specialize in creating bio-gas – specifically, methane, which is used to generate power. And because the residue left from milk thistle has a high nutritional value, it’s used to feed farm animals. “We ship the waste product to a company that dries it out and cleans it before it’s added to feed for pigs, chickens, cows and the like. The biomass is given away for free,” explained Joe Veilleux, Euromed USA president.

Wood pallets become compost. At Euromed, wooden pallets are reused until they can’t be used any longer. “At that point, they’re sent to recycling facilities, which use them in composting products,” Veilleux said. This step easily was accomplished by working through waste management companies.

Refilling printer toners. Empty toner cartridges are shipped to the company’s supplier, where they’re recharged and returned for use. If not for recycling, the toner cartridges would be deposited in landfills.

Cleaner air and water. The company purchased new equipment to accomplish these goals, including on-site wastewater treatment and water purification plants, along with equipment to decrease atmospheric emissions.

All totaled, Euromed spent $1 to $2 million to upgrade its factory – money well spent. And according to Veilleux, many companies today are willing to make an investment in a greener future.

“We’re glad to see that, even when people face unemployment and other economic hardships, they’re still committed to green practices,” he said.

That reminds me ... have you seen my wallet? You can’t miss it. It’s made from a recycled bike tire.

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