October 2010

Starbucks' Hunt For The Recyclable Cup

Fast Company has a surprisingly nuanced article about the difficulties Starbucks has faced in creating their holy grail: a 100% recyclable paper cup.

Paper cups have a wax coating so they can't be recycled with the regular paper.  They would need to be sorted out, in an entirely separate box.  Or - more likely, given the current technology - picked out of the conveyor belt by hand. 

(I have my own solution to this problem: a travel cup system that works the same way as glass bottles for milk.  When you buy glass bottled milk you pay a deposit - usually around $2.50.  The next time you buy milk you bring the old bottle in and exchange it. 

If you forget to bring the old bottle in, you just pay another $2.50.  Inevitably you end up with a bunch of extra empty bottles - just bring them into the store and get $2.50 back for each of them.  The fee is enough to cover the expense of carting away the old bottles and sterilizing them. 

Return of the Chestnut Tree

The Washington Post has an article about "chestnut aficionados" who are working to bring the chestnut tree back to America.

The story of the chestnut is an all-too-familiar one, and a warning to anyone who doubts the danger of invasive species and diseases.  The American chestnut was central to life in the 1700s and 1800s. 

It grew quickly and large, and dominated the forests of the Eastern seaboard from Appalachia to Maine.  Its wood and chestnuts were critical to the economic success of the families in its range, and its beautiful spreading shape was the pride of many towns.

Moving Off the Grid

Last night during our weekly knitting group, one of the newer members mentioned that she lives entirely off the grid.  Intrigued, we spent most of the rest of the night talking about it, and I learned a lot on the realities of life off the grid.

"Living off the grid" is a popular fantasy, and has been for many years.  It is equally popular among survivalists, back-to-the-land hippies, and the ridiculously frugal.  There aren't many things for which that is true! 

"Off grid" is defined as, no municipal water supply, no municipal sewage services, no municipal power lines, no cable TV, no nothing.  Basically, no wires or pipes that cross your property line.