A Liter Of Light  (by playwiththejunglegym)


© Greenpeace/Steve Morgan

Dyan deNapoli tells the story of the world’s largest volunteer animal rescue, which saved more than 40,000 penguins after an oil spill off the coast of South Africa.


Engage Green Earns Green America’s Business Seal of Approval

 (New York, NY) 7/26/11 -   Engage Green is thrilled to announce it has been awarded the Green America Business Seal of Approval.  The seal is presented to businesses that go beyond product and service quality to set the highest standards in environmental sustainability and social justice, and work to solve, rather than create, environmental and social problems.

To be considered for the Seal of Approval and earn a listing in the annual National Green Pages™, businesses complete a rigorous screening process to ensure they meet Green America’s standards for the environment, community and labor. 

 Engage Green is known for its unique fashionable designs made out of Recycled Plastic [PET], Recycled Paper and Sustainable materials like Organic Cotton, Hemp and Cork. 

“We are over the top excited to earn this coveted Seal of Approval,” said  Leonor Mendoza, founder and Artist of Engage Green. “It’s one of the most respected and recognized symbols in the green marketplace and a powerful way to set Engage Green apart as a leader in its field.”

Engage Green is now an Approved member of the Green Business Network, a distinguished and celebrated group of companies that use their products and services as a vehicle for social and environmental change. 

More on the Green Business Network:

The Green Business Network (GBN) offers a vibrant community of over 4,000 environmentally and socially responsible businesses, the oldest and largest of its kind in the US.  GBN is powered by Green America, a non-profit whose mission is to harness the economic power of consumers and businesses to create a more just and sustainable economy.  More information on GBN can be found at www.greenbusinessnetwork.org and for more on the Seal of Approval, click on “Get the Seal.”  

Orange Satchel- Recycled Pet Bottles


Inspiration Green

plastic house

Ecological Bottle House, near the Iguazu Falls, Misiones, Argentina.
Alfredo Santa Cruz and his family built this house and matching play house out of used plastic bottles, Tetra Packs and CD cases. They used 1200 PET plastic bottles for the walls, 1300 milk and wine Tetra Pack boxes for the roof, 140 CD cases for the doors and windows, plus 320 PET bottles for the furniture.

plastic bottle house

200 PET bottles hold up the bed.

bottle cap curtains
Photo credit: Xinhua/Martin Zabala
Love the bottle cap curtains!

plastic bottle room

The family will instruct anyone who is up for a visit, or if you pay for their travel expenses, they will come to you. www.sites.google.com

plastic bottle wall

Water bottle wall in Danone office, Tokyo.

Great idea as partitions in an office!

plastic bottle wall

The Morimoto Restaurant’s bottle wall in NYC is composed of 17,400 half liter plastic bottles filled with mineral water and then backlit with LED lights.

plastic bottle wall

The wall is two stories high.

plastic bottle wall

Back outside…

plastic bottle greenhouse
Flickr photo by ticticticticboom
Plastic bottle greenhouse on Blue Rock Station, Ohio…bluerockstation.com (info below*) This one sits on old tires and is made from 1000 2-liter plastic soft drink bottles.

bottle greenhouse
Cudlees Photo on Picasa
Plastic bottle greenhouses are all the rage in Europe.

plastic bottle green house
Owlsoup Photo on Flickr

plastic bottle greenhouse

plastic bottle fence

Photo by bryanilona on Flickr

plastic bottle shed
Flickr photo By christof

A Danish plastic bottle shed.


More Eco-Tec Plastic Bottle Construction Photos…

bottle construction

Eco-Tec in Uganda.

plastic bottle construction


water bottle wall


plastic bottle construction details


plastic bottle construction

Eco-Tec in Bolivia



plastic bottle water tank

Eco-Tec builds many cisterns/water tanks…

water bottle construction

How to make an arch…

plastic bottle fence

A painted wall.

water bottle construction

Eco-Tec’s aquaduct…

References, Further Info and lots more pics:

  • Eco-Tec’s website www.eco-tecnologia.com
  • See Eco-Tec’s proposal to train Haitians to re-build their infrastructure.  www.scribd.com

  • *Blue Rock Station in Ohio sells an illustrated booklet on
    How to Build a Plastic Bottle Greenhouse here: bluerockstation.com
    The Warmkes also give alternate building workshops on their farm in Ohio.
    Instructions on how to build your own greenhouse.  www.squidoo.com

See Plastic Bottle Schools for lots more…


Climate Change Emergency: Time to Slam on the Brakes

coal power plant
photo: John Norton/Creative Commons

The following is a guest post from Skeptical Science by James Wight

Global warming is an increasingly urgent problem. The urgency isn’t obvious because a large amount of warming is being delayed. But some of the latest research says if we want to keep the Earth’s climate within the range humans have experienced, we must leave nearly all the remaining fossil fuels in the ground. If we do not act now we could push the climate beyond tipping points, where the situation spirals out of our control. How do we know this? And what should we do about it? Read on.

James Hansen, NASA’s top climatologist and one of the first to warn greenhouse warming had been detected, set out to define dangerous human interference with climate. In 2008, his team came to the startling conclusion that the current level of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) is already in the danger zone.

The Importance of 350ppm, Slow v. Fast Climate Feedbacks
Since the Industrial Revolution, atmospheric CO2 has increased from 280 to 390 parts per million (ppm). Don’t be fooled by the small number - 390 ppm is higher than CO2 has been in millions of years. CO2 is rising by 2 ppm per year as we continue to burn fossil fuels. To stabilise the Earth’s climate, we must reduce CO2 to the relatively safe level of 350 ppm. And we must hurry, because the task will soon be an impossible one.

The 350 target is based not on climate modelling, but on past climate change (“paleoclimate”). Hansen looked at the highly accurate ice core record of the last few hundred thousand years, sediment core data going back 65 million years, and the changes currently unfolding. He discovered that, in the long term, climate is twice as sensitive in the real world as it is in the models used by the IPCC.

The key question in climate modelling is how much global warming you get from doubling CO2, once all climate feedbacks are taken into account. A feedback is something that amplifies or cancels out the initial effect (eg. interest is a feedback on a loan). The models include “fast feedbacks” like water vapour, clouds, and sea ice, but exclude longer-term “slow feedbacks” like melting ice sheets (an icy surface reflects more heat than a dark surface).

Both models and paleoclimate studies agree the warming after fast feedbacks is around 3°C per doubling of CO2. Slow feedbacks have received far less attention. Paleoclimate is the only available tool to estimate them. To cut a long story short, Hansen found the slow ice sheet feedback doubles the warming predicted by climate models (ie. 6°C per CO2 doubling).

The global climate has warmed only 0.7°C, but has not yet fully responded to our past emissions. We know this because the Earth is still gaining more heat than it is losing. There is further warming in the pipeline, and Hansen’s results imply there’s a lot more than in the models. If CO2 remains at 390 ppm long enough for the ice sheet feedback to kick in, the delayed warming would eventually reach 2°C. That would result in an Earth unlike the one on which humans evolved and a sea level rise of not one metre, not two metres, but 25 metres. Imagine waves crashing over an eight-storey building.

It’s hard to dispute this would be “dangerous” climate change. But how quickly could it happen? In the past, ice sheets took millennia to respond, though once they got moving sea level rose several metres per century. But maybe ice sheets can melt faster if CO2 rises faster, as it is now doing. The IPCC predicted they would grow by 2100, but instead they are starting to shrink “100 years ahead of schedule”. Once an ice sheet begins to collapse there is no way to stop it sliding into the ocean. We would suffer centuries of encroaching shorelines. The climate change we started would proceed out of our control.

If ice sheets can melt significantly this century, then Hansen’s long-term warming has near-term policy implications. The tragedy we have set in motion can still be prevented, if we get the Earth to stop accumulating heat before slow feedbacks can kick in. To do so we must target the greatest, fastest-growing, and longest-lived climate driver: CO2.

Under business as usual, we are heading for up to 1000ppm by 2100, or nearly two doublings (and that’s not including possible carbon feedbacks). This would surely be an unimaginable catastrophe on any timescale. Even the mitigation scenarios governments are quarreling over are based on IPCC assessments now several years out of date. The lowest CO2 target being considered is 450 ppm, which Hansen concluded would eventually melt all ice on the planet, raising sea level by 75 metres. The Earth has not been ice-free since around the time our distant ancestors split off from monkeys.

Instead of stepping on or easing off the accelerator, we need to be slamming on the brakes. We must not only slow the rise of CO2 in the atmosphere, but reverse it. We must reduce CO2 from 390 to 350 ppm as soon as possible.That should stop the planet’s accumulation of heat. Stabilising the CO2 level will require rapidly reducing CO2 emissions until nature can absorb carbon faster than we emit it - in practical terms, cutting emissions to near zero.

The only realistic way of getting back to 350 ppm is leaving most of the remaining fossil fuels in the ground. We must:

  1. phase out coal by 2030. It is not enough to slow down coal-burning by converting it to liquid fuels, because CO2 stays in the atmosphere for a very long time. The fundamental problem is with the coal being burned at all.
  2. not burn tar sands or oil shale. Their reserves are virtually untapped but thought to contain even more carbon than coal. Canada cannot keep burning them.
  3. not burn the last drops of oil and gas if their reserves are on the high side. If it turns out we have already used about half, then we can safely burn the rest.
  4. turn deforestation into reforestation. We’d still be left with the gargantuan task of removing CO2 from the atmosphere. Nature can absorb some carbon, but it has limits.

It won’t be easy, but with these actions CO2 could peak around 400 ppm as early as 2025 and return to 350 ppm by century’s end. I believe we can achieve this; it’s primarily a question of political will. But our window of opportunity is rapidly slamming shut. Even one more decade of business as usual, and CO2 can be expected to remain in the danger zone for a very long time.

I should point out estimating a CO2 target from paleoclimate is fraught with uncertainties. I’ve had to simplify for this short article. I explain in more detail on Skeptical Science, or you can read Hansen’s paper free here. If there is one lesson recent climate research should teach us, it is that it’s a mistake to call uncertainty our friend. Arguably the most important aspect Hansen ignores, carbon feedbacks, is likely to make things even worse. There is more than enough reason to heed Hansen’s warning.

Right now we stand at an intersection. What we do in this decade is crucial. If we choose one path, by the end of the decade the world could be well on its way to phasing out coal. If we choose the other, we face an uncertain future in which the only certainty is a continually shifting climate. I’ll leave the final word to Hansen et al, whose concluding statements were pretty strongly worded coming from a dense, technical, peer-reviewed paper:

Present policies, with continued construction of coal-fired power plants without CO2 capture, suggest that decision-makers do not appreciate the gravity of the situation. We must begin to move now toward the era beyond fossil fuels. […] The most difficult task, phase-out over the next 20-25 years of coal use that does not capture CO2, is Herculean, yet feasible when compared with the efforts that went into World War II. The stakes, for all life on the planet, surpass those of any previous crisis. The greatest danger is continued ignorance and denial, which could make tragic consequences unavoidable.

More on Global Climate Change:
Americans Believe in Climate Change More Than Global Warming
Melting Polar Ice Sheets Overtake Glaciers As Main Cause of Sea Level Rise - One Foot By 2050 Possible

To Know about those curly compact fluorescent light bulbs

The solution that saves energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions – those curly compact fluorescent light bulbs {CFLs} are replacing Edison’s original round bulbs and are seen everywhere, from local grocery stores to our homes. But what you may not know is that sealed inside each little bulb, a hidden danger is lurking, one that involves special handling and disposal and can possibly harm you and your family.

Everyone’s heard of Mercury, not the planet… the metallic element. Hg on the Periodic table, Mercury is a highly toxic, developmental neurotoxin that can damage the brain, liver, kidneys and central nervous system. In 2007, Mercury ranked number three on the list of hazardous substances as outlined by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry {ATSDR} and the Environmental Protection Agency {EPA}. Every form of it is toxic and yet mercury is an essential element in millions of fluorescent lamps throughout the world. The Mercury from just one fluorescent bulb can pollute 6,000 gallons of water beyond safe levels for drinking!


Sure, these light bulbs are advertised as “safe” and don’t pose any health risks to you as long as the glass remains intact. See, the danger in these bulbs comes if the bulb cracks, breaks or is not disposed of properly. Of course these bulbs are going to break… they’re made of glass! And not to mention the health effects these bulbs pose on our environment if, for heaven’s sake, one of these glass bulbs were to crack. The EPA reports, “187 incinerators nationwide emit approximately 70,000 pounds of mercury into the environment each year.” From the air to waterways, lakes to oceans – mercury is found everywhere in our environment. Just one teaspoon of mercury can contaminate a 20-acre lake forever and it’s estimated that each year 600 million fluorescent lamps are disposed of in US landfills amounting to 30,000 pounds of mercury waste.

With new inventions constantly popping up, the past is left behind us. Now, when your CFL light bulb accidentally breaks, mercury vapors are released into your home or office; it’s no longer as easy as changing a light bulb. YOU need to know what to do to minimize you and your family’s exposure to mercury vapor.

According to the EPA:

:: People and pets should immediately leave the room
:: Open a window and/or door and air out the room for 5 to 10 minutes
:: Turn off the central forced air heating/air-conditioning system
:: Thoroughly collect broken glass and visible powder using wet cloths. Never use vacuum cleaners or brooms
:: Put all debris and cleanup materials in a sealable container and put outdoors in a trash container or protected area until materials can be disposed of properly. Do not leave bulb fragments or cleanup materials indoors.