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Halloween Shocker at the Refuse Tip: Why it’s Hell for Recycling Rates



(HMM) Happy Halloween Little Ghost by aotaro via flickr

UK waste industry faces Halloween-hell recycle rates.

Halloween is the scary season, but there is nothing more shocking than the thousands of tonnes of rubbish that are buried in a hole in the ground during this spooky celebration.

It’s not that the rubbish has a curse on it – it’s far worse than that says the country’s fastest growing commercial waste and recycling company.

Because – according to waste management experts – the days following the 31st October are a nightmare for the UK’s waste industry as it struggles to cope with mounds of plastic and non-recyclable rubbish that has to go to landfill.

“Halloween gets bigger and bigger every year,” says spokesman Mark Hall, “And that means an ever-larger clean-up operation.”

The problem, says is that most Halloween-themed merchandise is “single use”, and it gets thrown away almost immediately. And that’s not good enough, Hall says.

“Halloween is like no other holiday in that it generates so much rubbish that gets used for a couple of hours at most. Cheap spooky costumes seem – at least to us – to be the biggest waste.”

Among the goods that refuse and recycling centre operators are looking forward to seeing in early November are:

• Plastic lamps and batteries
• Novelty items
• Costumes
• Plastic masks
• Witches’ hats
• Devil’s tridents and horns
• Decorations
• Fake spider webs

“And because the manufacturers know that everything is disposable, and they tend to be at the budget end of the market, everything seems to be made with the cheapest possible materials,” says Hall.

The worst for workers in the refuse industry are the costumes and lamps.

“You won’t believe how many of these we see,” says Hall.

Those Halloween costumes are made of such cheap materials there’s no way that they can be recycled

“They either go to be burned or just get buried in landfill. What a waste of money and resources.”

And then there’s the lamps and plastic novelties.

“Mass-produced plastic, sold for a pound, and with cheap, leaking batteries,” the Business Waste spokesperson laments. “We can deal with the batteries if people bother to separate them into recyclable waste, but 99 per cent of the time they don’t.

“Guess where it ends up? In a big hole in the ground, that’s where.”

Of course, sending batteries to landfill is a nightmare scenario that should be avoided wherever possible. But with so many to find there’s a near 100 per cent certainty that the chemicals they contain will find their way into the environment.

But it’s not all bad news.

Last year called on households to recycle or compost their 18,000 tons of used pumpkins after years of rotting fruit filling Britain’s bin lorries.

“That’s one nasty habit people have got themselves out of through enlightened recycling,” says Hall, “Now let’s say goodbye to the cheap plastic Halloween rubbish that ends up in landfill.”

“Don’t be a devil, be a saint.”



Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations



green housing techniques

Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?

The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.

New Construction Options

One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.

In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.

The Simple Retrofit

From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?

Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.

Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.

Big Innovations

Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.

In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.

Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.

It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.

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How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions



auto industry to clean air pollution

Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

Public Health Crisis

It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.

Eco-Friendly Vehicles

It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.

Used Cars

Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.

Public Perception

With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.


The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.

With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.

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