“In nature one organisms waste is another organisms opportunity” Dr. David Suzuki tells us.

How true that is. I work in an environment that very much features this idea. I work with the homeless, maybe the greatest recycling sector on the planet. They scour the city for empty cans and bottles that have a redemption value, 10 cents for a beer can, 20 cents for a large plastic pop bottle. It may not seem much, but by doing this seemingly pointless task, much material is recycled rather than ending up in the land fill.

This week, The Sundance Channel takes us on an exploration of the recycling industry.

Even landfills can be environmentally sensitive, and Ken Wells from Petaluma, CA is a man that knows all about it.

“we are a mining operation for the trash of your life”

Although managing a garbage dump was not high on Ken’s aspirations as a child, he has become the ‘King of Compost’! Even stranger the compost produces enough methane, which is captured, to produce enough electricity for 20,000 homes.

Segment two looks at the packaging industry, and what a wasteful world we live in. Dr. Suzuki sums it up well, “I want to buy some small electronic device, maybe an inch long, but it comes in a plastic cover a foot long, and you have to practicably dynamite it to get it open”

Packaging is hugely wasteful, but maybe there are solutions. Miami, Florida entrepreneurs Yair and Jonathan Marcoshmer co-founders of Ecoist may have the solution. Fashion accessories from product packaging. Soda boxes, billboards, everything is fair game to this innovative company. Handbags, hats, jewelry, it can all be made from someones trash!

This weeks final segment features Nancy Jo Craig of CACRC, and a subject near and dear to my heart. What happens to old electronics? Most find their way to the landfill. But it does not have to be that way. Once again Dr. Susuki’s words echo “In nature one organisms waste is another organisms opportunity”.

We trash cell phones, MP3 players, Computers, and Stereo Systems by the billions. Yet many are perfectly usable is calculated that between 2000 and 2007, a mere 7 years, 500 million computers were discarded.

CACRC specialize in refurbishing computers. This is an area that I am very familiar with. About 6 years ago I became involved with the Calgary Drop In Centre, a homeless shelter. Occasionally we would get computers donated. When Bruno (my boss) or I had some down time we would tinker with them. When we got one working we would give it to some deserving family. I guess we started a trend. Bruno and I created a monster! I believe that last year our program gave away 500 computers, and we now have a full time staff member to run the program, and a whole pile of volunteers to help! OH, and if you happen to have any old puters just laying around, let me know, at the last count we have 200 families on the waiting list!

Oh, and if green is your color, check out our give away.

Simon Barrett

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