AltUse Covered by ABC7 Consumer Reporter Ric Romero

By Ric Romero
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Twelve percent of the products we buy, both used and unused, end up in landfills, and 30 percent of all packaging materials end up there too. Alternatively using those things can help the environment while saving you money.

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There is a new Web site where you simply plug in the name of a product, and it shows you all of the alternative uses for it. Or, you can put in the problem you have, and it will show you what everyday products you have in your cupboard can solve the problem.

Concern for the environment is very important to Elaine Kim. This Laurel Canyon resident drives a car that runs on vegetable oil. She uses energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs, and even the doors in her house double as chalk boards for the kids.

Elaine's grandmother had a lot to do with her attitude. "She just had the basic things that she grew up with, and I saw her live this life. So for me this is second nature; this is how I grew up," said Elaine.

Kim uses a new Web site called to help her do even more to conserve.

"Alt Use is the world's largest public repository of alternative uses of everyday products. It's a Wiki-style Web site, so we're tapping into the collective wisdom of the world to collect all these alternative uses of products," said Alt Use president Benjamin Goldfarb.

The alternative uses for everyday products come from consumers just like you and Elaine. In fact, Elaine submitted an idea of using a funnel made out of a Gatorade bottle to pour vegetable oil into her gas tank. Want to know about some of the other great alternative uses? Elaine uses instant mashed potato flakes to keep gophers away from her house. Alt Use also suggests using orange peels to keep ants and termites away, old apples to keep veggies fresh longer and crushed aspirin mixed with water to treat bee stings. A lot of people think of vodka as an alcoholic beverage, but not Elaine. In fact, she says that you can use it to clean your eye glasses.

"You can also use vodka to keep your cut flowers fresh," Elaine added.

"Because you have a pantry full of items, you can take those items and enter them into our Web site, and we can give you other ways of using those products, other than the way you normally think of using them," said Goldfarb.

Even Elaine's children are learning about alternative ways to use products. Her daughter, Echo gets a regular treatment of olive oil for her dry skin. And her son, Tiber uses food product Styrofoam trays to make ink stamps for his class projects.

The Real i Featres AltUse

Watch it at 02:17 into the broadcast

OCTOBER 27, 2009 Spotted on ‘The Real i’
Mount Pleasant, SC – The Real i is pleased to announce that was featured on episode 27 of ‘The Real i’.

“'The Real i' team only selects a handful of companies to be aired on our show, and I am pleased that was chosen,” said Melissa McCormick, producer of the ‘The Real i.”
The episode can be viewed at The segment featuring begins at two minutes 17 seconds.

'The Real i,' is a weekly web show that highlights unique and exciting news relating to the internet world. Produced at the AVERICOM studios in Charleston, SC, the quick, easy-to-watch format provides viewers with the latest headlines relating to the online marketplace. Topics include internet news, web trends, corporate announcements,  the latest and most popular websites, hot blogs, new software, social network reports, popular viral videos and much more. For more information, visit

AltUse Factoid!

What product currently has the most AltUse content?  Vinegar, which has more than 59 AltUse content submissions.  What makes Vinegar so popular not only at, but also the larger marketplace, is its versatility.  Vinegar AltUse content ranges from using vinegar to tenderize meat to removing stains from your china.  To view these and many other Vinegar AltUse content, click here.

Native Soul Designs - Fashion, AltUse and Wearable Art

Native Soul Designs is a Fashion Accessory Business, which focuses on the most exclusive products within the fashion industry. Our company is environmentally conscience. We constantly look for ways to recycle and re-use just about any type of material for our wearable art.  We specialize in various types of materials, including industrial materials to create “our one of kind” items. 

You can choose from a line of products that we offer. You can also submit your own design, and if possible, we will make your idea come alive.  So if you are looking for a unique gift or a little something for yourself that holds no comparison; Native Soul Duct Tape Designs is your company!


Composting is the purposeful biodegradation of organic matter, such as yard and food waste. The decomposition is performed by micro-organisms, mostly bacteria, but also yeasts and fungi.[1] In low temperature phases a number of macro-organisms, such asspringtailsantsnematodesisopods and earthworms also contribute to the process, as well as soldier flyfruit flies and fungus gnats. There are a wide range of organisms in the decomposer community.[2]

  • biodegradable material is capable of being completely broken down under the action of microorganisms into carbon dioxide, water and biomass. It may take a very long time for some material to biodegrade depending on its environment (e.g. wood in an arid area versus paper in water), but it ultimately breaks down completely. Many contaminating materials not dealt with in common composting are in fact "biodegradeable", and may be dealt with via bioremediation, or other special composting approaches.[3]

Stable bedding after shredding and three weeks of hot aerobic composting.
  • compostable material biodegrades substantially under specific composting conditions. It is metabolized by the microorganisms, being incorporated into the organisms or converted into humus. The size of the material is a factor in determining compostability, and mechanical particle size reduction can speed the process. Large pieces of hardwood may not be compostable under a specific set of composting conditions, whereas sawdust of the same type of wood may be. Some biodegradeable materials are only compostable under very specific conditions, usually with an industrial process.


Cradle to Cradle

Cradle to Cradle Design (sometimes abbreviated to C2C or in some circles referred to as regenerative) is a biomimetic approach to the design of systems. It models human industry on nature's processes in which materials are viewed as nutrients circulating in healthy, safe metabolisms. It suggests that industry must protect and enrich ecosystems and nature's biological metabolism while also maintaining safe, productive technical metabolism for the high-quality use and circulation of organic and synthetic materials. Put simply, it is a holistic economic, industrial and social framework that seeks to create systems that are not just efficient but essentially waste free.[1] The model in its broadest sense is not limited to industrial design and manufacturing; it can be applied to many different aspects of human civilization such as urban environmentsbuildingseconomics and social systems.
The term 'C2C Certification' is a protected term of the McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC) consultants. It is a proprietary system of certification. The phrase "Cradle to Cradle" itself was coined by Walter R. Stahel in the 1970's, and the current model is based on a system of "lifecycle development" initiated by Michael Braungart and colleagues at the Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency (EPEA) in the 1990s and explored through the publication A Technical Framework for Life-Cycle Assessment. In partnership with Braungart, William McDonough released the publication Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things in 2002, which is an effective manifesto for Cradle to Cradle Design that gives specific details of how to achieve the model. The model has been implemented by several companies, organisations and governments around the world, particularly in China and the US. Cradle to Cradle has also been the subject matter of many documentary films, including the critically acclaimed Waste=Food.


Downcycling involves processing used materials into new products, or the re-use of a product with crippled functionality for alternative purposes, to prevent waste of potentially useful materials, reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, reduce energy usage, reduce air pollution (from incineration) and water pollution (from landfilling) by reducing the need for "conventional" waste disposal, and lower greenhouse gas emissions as compared to virgin production. A clear example is plastic recycling, which turns the material into lower grade plastics. The terms downcycle and downcycling were used by Reiner Pilz of Pilz GmbH and Thornton Kay of Salvo Llp in 1993, along with the terms upcycle and upcycling.
The term downcycling was also used by William McDonough and Michael Braungart in their 2002 book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things.

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[edit]Examples of downcycling

  • increasing the recycle number of plastic recyclables (see above)
  • transferring disposable batteries to lower-power devices (e.g. taking batteries from a digital camera to a TV remote)
  • Re-using defective car batteries for lower-power applications.
  • Re-Using rag towels for other cleaning environments.
  • often times, when people upcycle, individually downcycled parts are often involved.
  • finding alternate purposes for obsolete technology. Such as using an older computer to play music while a newer computer is available for everyday purposes. Older MP3 players can play a similar role.

[edit]See also


Professional Sports: An AltUse to Experience

We're in the throes of an exciting Baseball Playoff season, with one World Series participant crowned, the Philadelphia Phillies. The final spot could be filled tonight if the Yankees close out the Angels.  What is the best seat in the house; at the ballpark, home in front of your big screen TV, or listening to the game on the radio?

Have you ever wondered about an alternative way of experiencing the action on the field? Tried Fantasy Baseball?  For a complete explanation on the history of Fantasy baseball, check out  Also available are Fantasy Football, Basketball, and Hockey Leagues.   This is big business, too.  It is estimated that there are more than 27 million fantasy sports players in the US, generating between $800 million to $1 billion in revenue, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (

AltUse is not only about alternative uses for everyday products, it also about alternative ways of doing things.  If you have an alternative use for a sports equipment article, such as a baseball bat, a football, etc. please submit it to  For example see an AltUse for a tennis ball at


landfill, also known as a dump (and historically as a midden), is a site for the disposal of waste materials by burial and is the oldest form of waste treatment. Historically, landfills have been the most common methods of organised waste disposal and remain so in many places around the world.
Landfills may include internal waste disposal sites (where a producer of waste carries out their own waste disposal at the place of production) as well as sites used by many producers. Many landfills are also used for other waste management purposes, such as the temporary storage, consolidation and transfer, or processing of waste material (sorting, treatment, or recycling).
A landfill also may refer to ground that has been filled in with soil and rocks instead of waste materials, so that it can be used for a specific purpose, such as for building houses. Unless they are stabilized, these areas may experience severe shaking or liquefaction of the ground in a large earthquake.

Social Media and AltUse™ has been successful leveraging the power of social media to generate interest and awareness, driving site registrations and content submission. Today we have more than 1,400 followers on Twitter at and 870 Fans on the AltUse Fan Page, AltUse is also on MySpace, YouTube and LinkedIn (plus some 40 other social media sites). Make sure you sign up to follow AltUse as we grow.

Please share AltUse content with friends and family. Who knows, someone you know may need an AltUse or have an AltUse to share with our community. Thank you.

RePlayGround - AltUse Featured Partner

RePlayGround is where discarded materials take on new life! We take scrap and make it new - and we help you recycle, too. Be sure to check out our ReMake It recycling kits - like the wine cork trivet and bottle lamp. They're both easy ways to get going with recycling.

Don't miss our do-it-yourself section where we teach you how to reuse discards all by yourself! Turn old glasses into picture framesumbrellas into skirts, and more. Or invite us to your next event and we'll provide materials and hands-on instruction for your favorite recycling project.

We're recycling fanatics and just love finding new uses for old items. Your scrap is the raw material for our next design project.

RePlayGround grew from the imagination of Tiffany Threadgould. She went to grad school for design at the lovely Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. That's where she wrote her thesis titled "Trash Nouveau - reincarnating garbage into usable products." And she's been a Design Junkie ever since.

You might know us as Tiffany Tomato Designs. That's our old name. We've moved over to RePlayGround because there's enough scrap for everyone to share.
Visit to learn more about its products and services.


A winner of the recent "How do you AltUse" Promotion, Home Grown Edible Landscapes promotes sustainable, organic, and productive uses for urban landscapes through its fan page on Facebook and website. Its business model teaches clients how to design, install, and maintain their own edible or native landscape. Its motto is "We want to change the world, one garden at a time!" To learn more about Home Grown Edible Landscapes, please visit

Recycling Goes From Less Waste to Zero Waste

Sara Marshall peers into a drop-off point for recycling in Nantucket. The town is a leader in "zero waste.
Published: October 19, 2009
At Yellowstone National Park, the clear soda cups and white utensils are not your typical cafe-counter garbage. Made of plant-based plastics, they dissolve magically when heated for more than a few minutes.

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At Ecco, a popular restaurant in Atlanta, waiters no longer scrape food scraps into the trash bin. Uneaten morsels are dumped into five-gallon pails and taken to a compost heap out back.
And at eight of its North American plants, Honda is recycling so diligently that the factories have gotten rid of their trash Dumpsters altogether.

Across the nation, an antigarbage strategy known as “zero waste” is moving from the fringes to the mainstream, taking hold in school cafeterias, national parks, restaurants, stadiums and corporations.

The movement is simple in concept if not always in execution: Produce less waste. Shun polystyrene foam containers or any other packaging that is not biodegradable. Recycle or compost whatever you can.

Though born of idealism, the zero-waste philosophy is now propelled by sobering realities, like the growing difficulty of securing permits for new landfills and an awareness that organic decay in landfills releases methane that helps warm the earth’s atmosphere.

“Nobody wants a landfill sited anywhere near them, including in rural areas,” said Jon D. Johnston, a materials management branch chief for the Environmental Protection Agency who is helping to lead the zero-waste movement in the Southeast. “We’ve come to this realization that landfill is valuable and we can’t bury things that don’t need to be buried.”

Americans are still the undisputed champions of trash, dumping 4.6 pounds per person per day, according to the E.P.A.’s most recent figures. More than half of that ends up in landfills.

But places like the island resort community of Nantucket offer a glimpse of the future. Running out of landfill space and worried about the cost of shipping trash 30 miles to the mainland, it moved to a strict trash policy more than a decade ago, said Jeffrey Willett, director of public works on the island.

The town, with the blessing of residents concerned about tax increases, mandates the recycling not only of commonly reprocessed items like aluminum, glass and paper but also of tires, batteries and household appliances.

Jim Lentowski, executive director of the nonprofit Nantucket Conservation Foundation and a year-round resident since 1971, said that sorting trash and delivering it to the local recycling and disposal complex had become a matter of course for most residents.

The complex also has a garagelike structure where residents can drop off books and clothing and other reusable items for others to take home.

The 100-car parking lot at the landfill is a lively meeting place for locals, Mr. Lentowski added. “Saturday morning during election season, politicians hang out there and hand out campaign buttons,” he said. “If you want to get a pulse on the community, that is a great spot to go.”
Mr. Willett said that while the amount of trash that island residents carted to the dump had remained steady, the proportion going into the landfill had plummeted to 8 percent.

By contrast, Massachusetts residents send an average of 66 percent of their trash to a landfill or incinerator. Although Mr. Willett has lectured about the Nantucket model around the country, most communities still lack the infrastructure to set a zero-waste target.

Aside from the difficulty of persuading residents and businesses to divide their trash, many towns and municipalities have been unwilling to make the significant capital investments in machines like composters that can process food and yard waste. Yet attitudes are shifting, and cities like San Francisco and Seattle are at the forefront of the changeover. Both have adopted plans for a shift to zero-waste practices and are collecting organic waste curbside in residential areas for composting.
Food waste, which the E.P.A. says accounts for about 13 percent of total trash nationally — and much more when recyclables are factored out of the total — is viewed as the next big frontier.
When apple cores, stale bread and last week’s leftovers go to landfills, they do not return the nutrients they pulled from the soil while growing. What is more, when sealed in landfills without oxygen, organic materials release methane, a potent greenhouse gas, as they decompose. If composted, however, the food can be broken down and returned to the earth as a nonchemical fertilizer with no methane by-product.

Green Foodservice Alliance, a division of the Georgia Restaurant Association, has been adding restaurants throughout Atlanta and its suburbs to its so-called zero-waste zones. And companies are springing up to meet the growth in demand from restaurants for recycling and compost haulers.

Steve Simon, a partner in Fifth Group, a company that owns Ecco and four other restaurants in the Atlanta area, said that the hardest part of participating in the alliance’s zero-waste-zone program was not training his staff but finding reliable haulers.

“There are now two in town, and neither is a year old, so it is a very tentative situation,” he said.
Still, Mr. Simon said he had little doubt that the hauling sector would grow and that all five of the restaurants would eventually be practically waste-free.

Packaging is also quickly evolving as part of the zero-waste movement. Bioplastics like the forks at Yellowstone, made from plant materials like cornstarch that mimic plastic, are used to manufacture a growing number of items that are compostable.

Steve Mojo, executive director of the Biodegradable Products Institute, a nonprofit organization that certifies such products, said that the number of companies making compostable products for food service providers had doubled since 2006 and that many had moved on to items like shopping bags and food packaging.

The transition to zero waste has its pitfalls, however.
Josephine Miller, an environmental official for the city of Santa Monica, Calif., which bans the use of polystyrene foam containers, said that some citizens had unwittingly put the plant-based alternatives into cans for recycling, where they had melted and had gummed up the works. Yellowstone and some other institutions have asked manufacturers to mark some biodegradable items with a brown or green stripe.

Yet even with these clearer design cues, customers will have to be taught to think about the destination of every throwaway if the zero-waste philosophy is to prevail, environmental officials say.

“Technology exists, but a lot of education still needs to be done,” said Mr. Johnston of the E.P.A. He expects private companies and businesses to move faster than private citizens because momentum can be driven by one person at the top.

“It will take a lot longer to get average Americans to compost,” he said. “Reaching down to my household and yours is the greatest challenge.”

Carbon Footprint

carbon footprint is "the total set of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by an organization, event or product" [1]. For simplicity of reporting, it is often expressed in terms of the amount of carbon dioxide, or its equivalent of other GHGs, emitted.
The concept and name of the carbon footprint originates from the ecological footprint discussion.[2] The carbon footprint is a subset of the ecological footprint and of the more comprehensive Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).
An individualnation, or organization's carbon footprint can be measured by undertaking a GHG emissions assessment. Once the size of a carbon footprint is known, a strategy can be devised to reduce it, e.g. by technological developments, better process and product management, changed Green Public or Private Procurement (GPP), Carbon capture, consumption strategies, and others.
The mitigation of carbon footprints through the development of alternative projects, such as solar or wind energy or reforestation, represents one way of reducing a carbon footprint and is often known as Carbon offsetting.


Sustainability, in a broad sense, is the capacity to endure. In ecology, the word describes how biological systems remain diverse and productive over time. For humans it is the potential for long-term maintenance of wellbeing, which in turn depends on the wellbeing of the natural world and the responsible use of natural resources.
Sustainability has become a wide-ranging term that can be applied to almost every facet of life on Earth, from a local to a global scale and over various time periods. Long-lived and healthy wetlands and forests are examples of sustainable biological systems. Invisible chemical cycles redistribute water, oxygen, nitrogen and carbon through the world's living and non-living systems, and have sustained life for millions of years. As the earth’s human population has increased, naturalecosystems have declined and changes in the balance of natural cycles has had a negative impact on both humans and other living systems.[citation needed]
There is now abundant scientific evidence that humanity is living unsustainably.[citation needed] Returning human use of natural resources to within sustainable limits will require a major collective effort. Since the 1980s, human sustainability has implied the integration of economic, social and environmental spheres to: “meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”[1]
Efforts to live more sustainably can take many forms from reorganising living conditions (e.g., ecovillageseco-municipalities and sustainable cities), reappraising economic sectors (green buildingsustainable agriculture), or work practices (sustainable architecture), using science to develop new technologies (green technologiesrenewable energy), to adjustments in individual lifestyles.
Global principles
At the global level there are several key principles that underpin global sustainability:
  • Intergenerational equity - providing future generations with the same environmental potential as presently exists
  • Decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation - managing economic growth to be less resource intensive and less polluting
  • Integration of all pillars - integrating environmental, social and economic sectors when developing sustainability policies
  • Ensuring environmental adaptability and resilience - maintaining and enhancing the adaptive capacity of the environmental system
  • Preventing irreversible long-term damage to ecosystems and human health
  • Ensuring distributional equity - avoiding unfair or high environmental costs on vulnerable populations
  • Accepting global responsibility - assuming responsibility for environmental effects that occur outside areas of jurisdiction
  • Education and grassroots involvement - people and communities investigating problems and developing new solutions[47]