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Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
User is currently offline
on Monday, 14 November 2011
in Mother Nature's Science

Upcycling vs. Recycling

trashIt’s easy to be green. A little too easy in some cases, if the crafty members of Etsy.com and their upcycled, earth-friendly wares are any example. Upcycling is the practice of taking useless or waste materials to make something that is useful and often better. For every beautiful, reconstructed vintage dress and kitschy tote bag made entirely of Kool-Aid packets there are items that are really just trash. The satirical, read-at-your-own risk website, regretsy.com, has a highlight reel of some of these items listed under the category of “garbage”.  There are some items highlighted that are solid attempts at upcycling. The crafter is clearly trying to utilize what they have on hand and was inspired by the world around them. After all, necessity is the mother of invention, right?

It’s not just Etsy that carries upcycled products. Even big box retailers, like Barnes & Noble, are getting in on the fun with office supplies woven from old newspapers in their “Eco Friendly Gifts” section. But what if there isn’t a need for what is being sold? Consumers are starting to make difficult decisions between buying new or used products if they buy anything at all. Huge shopping holidays loom on the horizon. Terms like Black Friday and Cyber Monday are being thrown about and it can be easy for even the most conscientious consumer to get caught up in the fervor of the season and lose sight of their carbon footprint. The most important rule for sellers, large and small, to remember is: “Something is only worth what someone will pay for it.” and if no one is willing to pay for your upcycled item, even a well-designed one, everyone loses.

Decorative wreaths and bookmarks made from cereal box cardboard are cute until you start to consider the energy spent to get that item across the country or world if it is ordered. Is it really cost effective, not to mention earth-friendly, to send a few cents worth of cardboard on a journey via plane and truck? Instead of buying that cereal box magazine holder with old maps pasted on it, try making it yourself. Or better yet simply recycle the cardboard and paper through the local program your town has already provided. While you’re at it ditch the magazines for online versions or get them at the library. There won’t be a need for the upcycled holder if you aren’t even collecting the magazines in the first place. Not everything needs to be upcycled and recycling is one of the simplest ways to be green.

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Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of Lake Erie in Northeast Ohio. Samina and her husband believe that sustainability starts in the home and try to live their lives as simply as possible without compromising comfort.

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1944: Camano Class Light Cargo Ship was laid down for the US Army as FS-289 at Wheeler Shipbuilding in Whitestone, NY.

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1945: Delivered to US Army.

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1950: Acquired by the US Navy on July 1, 1950 and placed in service as USNS New Bedford (T-AKL-17).

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1954: The movie, Mister Roberts, was made on the USNS New Bedford (T-AKL-17).

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1955 - 1963: Used as a cargo supply ship for the Texas Towers, a network of advanced radar stations located off the Eastern Seaboard. In 1957, Capt. Sixto Mangual was commander of the AKL-17 and in 1961 it was rechristened the USNS New Bedford. The New Bedford, sailing out of State Pier, was keeping vigil when Texas Tower No. 4 callapsed off the New Jersey coast during a January 1961 nor'easter.

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1963: Reclassified as Miscellaneous Unclassified (IX-308).

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1971: The New Bedford (IX-308) served as a Torpedo Test Firing Vessel in the Puget Sound area.

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1994: Ceremony in New Bedford.

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1995: The ship was struck from the Naval Register on April 4.

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2004: The Sea Bird's current disposition is a tuna long liner (fishing boat) out of San Diego, CA.

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2006: Design of the Tesla Turbine began on June 11, 2006. The Sea Bird was sold by Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service for commercial service.

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2007: The Sea Bird was drydocked for renovations.

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2008: The Sea Bird setting sail to Sea-Tac in Seattle, WA.

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2009 - 2010: The Sea Bird is currently docked at Seattle Sea-Tac.

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