Saving, investing and making money with technology

Day: April 6, 2017

4 Ways Trash Is Becoming More Innovative

When you think about re-using trash, reupholstering an old sofa or refurbishing a table that has seen better days might come to mind. It goes well beyond that, however.

In fact, advances in science and technology have created a situation in which trash is essentially wasted money. Actual waste or garbage — beyond things such as aging furniture or used clothing — can be turned into useful items that may one day provide a sizable impact on the global economy.

Here are four ways we can use trash to produce new and sometimes surprising items you may never have thought was possible.

1. Fabric for Fashion

Imagine how many plastic bottles of water and soda you’ve consumed over the years. Now imagine turning those bottles into fabric or yarn that could be used to make clothing.

A company called Thread International is doing just that. In 2015, the company sent 440,000 pounds of plastic from Haiti to the U.S., where it was blended with cotton to form fabrics such as jersey, canvas and denim.

Thread International’s effort is valiant in two ways. First, its method of creating fabric cuts energy consumption by 80 percent, though that cost is roughly 10 percent higher than non-recycled fabric. Also, the company has established more than 300 recycling jobs in Haiti, which is particularly helpful following the country’s devastating 2010 earthquake.

2. Plastic Materials From Veggies

Believe it or not, it is possible to fabricate plastics from vegetable waste products, such as rice hulls and spinach and parsley stems.

The creation of these bioplastics originally drew criticism, because even though the materials are more sustainable, they often required more energy than traditional plastic. While the process has improved, it still could take some time before this type of plastic becomes common on the consumer market.

There are other ways pull plastic from waste as well. Chemists at the University of Arizona developed a process called inverse vulcanization, which can create plastic from sulfur, specifically used for infrared lenses.

For non-scientists, vulcanization is a chemical process that turns rubber and other polymers into more durable materials. Vulcanization is used to make fish paper with all sorts of applications, such as railroad track insulation, fuse tubes and electronic devices.

3. Turning Plastic to Fuel

In addition to fabric, there is another emerging use for recycled plastic bottles. In a joint effort between the U.S. and China, researchers have developed a way to break down polyethylene compounds into oils and waxes while also limiting toxic by-products.

The process is somewhat complicated, but it basically uses a chemical reaction that turns two parts of two substances into two new substances.

It’s a large advancement to be sure, but more work needs to be done. Researchers are now looking to make the process more efficient, so it costs less. They also hope to evolve it so it can be used to turn other types of plastic waste into usable items.

4. Making Recycled Paper Waste

A team of researchers in Singapore recently discovered a process that converts paper waste into non-toxic, ultra-light, flexible and water-repellent green cellulose aerogels. Put in layman’s terms, it’s a material ideal for cleaning oil spills or used for heat insulation or packaging.

Traditional aerogels are typically made of silica and are not environmentally friendly. Not only is this new method of aerogel creation better for the environment, but it’s also cost effective. Even better — the process uses 70 percent less energy and gives rise to far less pollution.

Generating usable items such as fabric for clothing or biodegradable plastic from waste products may sound like science fiction, but it’s quickly becoming a reality. The science and technology is already there. The next step is making these processes easier, so they’re affordable on the mainstream consumer level.

Image by jeffjuit

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4 Things to Know Before Buying a Yacht

For many people, purchasing a yacht is a sign of financial independence. They’ve managed to build their wealth, and now they want to reward themselves with a shiny, entertaining gift just for them.

But just because you’re financially free doesn’t mean you can afford a mistake with such a large purchase. If you’re buying your first yacht, here are some things you ought to know first.

  1. Upkeep Costs

The initial cost is not the only one associated with owning a yacht. There are also the costs of upkeep and maintenance to consider. Because yachts live on the water, they’re privy to frequent maintenance and repair costs that other investments won’t have. The water will wear away at the paint job and it will need professionally cleaned frequently to minimize damage.

You’ll need to cover fuel, professional cleanings, refurbishments, docking, and similar costs associated with maintaining your boat. Make sure that after you purchase a yacht, you can afford to keep it.

  1. Invest in Quality

Because there are more stressors and potential damage associated with owning a yacht, don’t scrimp on the quality. With yachts, you very often get what you pay for. As a first time buyer, it’s tempting to purchase a larger boat on the cheaper end, but these tend to need far more maintenance. Higher priced yachts tend to use better quality materials that ensure the longevity of the vessel.

If you need to purchase a more affordable yacht, look at smaller models. If purchasing a quality vessel means reducing the number of people that can fit on it, always opt for higher quality for the best investment.

  1. Realistic Expectations

There will be certain restrictions on your purchase, and it’s important to maintain realistic expectations as you shop. Your budget, for example, will limit the size and quality of your boat to a certain extent. Similarly, you may not be able to find everything you want on a pre-made yacht that was designed by someone else.

Unless you have the means to build a custom boat from scratch, go into the buying process with realistic expectations. You may not be able to find everything you want in a boat, but go for your highest priorities. You can make adjustments in the future if need be.

  1. Long vs. Short-Range Cruising

Carefully consider the purpose of your yacht. If you’re expecting to leave it docked most of the time and only take short cruises around the bay, you’ll require a much different model than if you’re planning on taking multi-day excursions.

There are more considerations to make if you’re considering long-range cruising. The boat must be sea ready in the event of a storm. There will also need to be additional accommodations like functional sea berths and places for all crew members to sleep. Long-range yachts are also typically bigger to better weather long journeys.

Don’t go into your yacht purchase blindly. Do your research and ask lots of questions of the yacht dealer before handing over the money. If you want to be satisfied with your purchase, it’s very important to put in the time beforehand.

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