Month: September 2011

Video: Plastic State of Mind

With the millions of videos hoping to get you to better understand the perils of plastic to both our health and our environment, we’ve work to find and share the best ones we can (see some of them  here, here and here). This video today, Plastic State of Mind, is really impressive in the fresh beats it brings to the plastic bag issue.

Plastic State of Mind – OFFICIAL from Ben Zolno on Vimeo.

It’s not just plastic bags that are a hazard to our health and our environment, but it is one small difference you can make. Now, do you still use single-use plastic bags? If so, do you recycle? If not, how do you remember to bring your reusable bags?

The Beauty of (Big) Glass

Glass never fails to suprise us. It’s a material that you can hold in your hand and can hold up a building, it can be a piece of personal art, or a massive installation of grand proportions. As part of our efforts to share beauty of glass, especially in a month dedicated to glass, take a look at some of the large-scale glass installments that evoke a deep sense of wonderment.

From left to right, top to bottom:

Central St. Giles in London, England: these entirely glass facades that drape the buildings are a departure from the city’s more reserved building features.

Cascade at Adelaide Botanical Gardens, Australia: More than 500 glass pieces glued together to create this tidal wave of beauty set in the gardens.

The Louvre, Paris, France: The iconic glass pyramids are some of the most well-known art installations in the city. The Louvre has four of these pyramids, 1 large and 3 smaller ones.

Bellagio, Las Vegas, United States: The world’s largest glass sculpture in the world was created by Dave Chihuly which is on display on the ceiling of the Bellagio in Las Vegas, Nevada. Smaller individual scupltures are displayed together to create this sculpture that seems to extend effortlessly across the ceiling.

Preston Brandley Hall, Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, United States: located in the Chicago Cultural Center is the Tiffany’s Largest Glass Dome and Skylight. It is the largest stained-glass domed ceiling in the world.

Glass Apple Store, Sydney, Australia: We all know Apple has a knack for the retail and their stores are no exception. While their store on 5th Avenue is the most photograhed location on Flickr, this store in Sydney is a feat unto itself – it features the largest seamless glass panes in the world.

Leipzieg Fair, Germany: This incredible structure, is the largest levitated glass hall, 240 meters long and 80 meters wide, with 1140 tons of glass floating above your head.


Have you seen something in glass that amazed you? Share your photo with us!

5 Lessons to Learn About Recycling Glass from Other Countries

For Recycle Glass Month, I decided to find what we Americans could learn from the best practices in glass recycling from our friendly neighbors overseas. While we’re making  strides, we can learn a lesson or two through these 5 examples:

  1. In Denmark 98% of glass bottles are refillable and 98% of those are returned by consumers. Set a community, city, state or national goal and then boast the good numbers.
  2. Glass collection points, known as Bottle Banks are very common near shopping centres, at civic amenity sites and in local neighborhoods in the United Kingdom. They opened the first one 34 years ago in 1977 and now more than 50,000 Bottle Banks are around the country. Make glass recycling convenient by putting in collection points in more places instead of only relying on curbside programs alone.

    Recycling Bins in the United Kingdom
  3. In Switzerland, bottle banks at every supermarket, with separate slots for clear, green and brown glass. But the Swiss take it further, there is a strong financial incentive. Recycling is free, but in most parts of Switzerland throwing away trash costs money – each trash bag has to have a sticker on it, and each sticker costs at
    least 1 euro (60 pence). So the less you throw out, the less you pay and hence the incentive to recycle. You’ll like this: No sticker? Then the trash will be left outside your house to rot. And how well does it work? Take a look at plastic PET bottles which are the most common drinks containers in Switzerland, and 80% of them are recycled – far higher than the European average of 20 to 40%. Include financial incentives that reward people for recycling and reducing waste going into our landfills. Or financial disincentives for those that trash materials that could be easily recycled.
  4. Germans, already known for their organization and dedication to the  environment, boast that around 90% of Germans are willing to sort out their rubbish and do so. Germany offers color-coded recycle bins for paper, glass, plastic, metals, bio (food waste), packaging and then a black box for materials that cannot be recycled. Good design matters. Use colors and/or shapes to help consumers more easily sort their recycled materials. If people are willing to sort their trash, make it easy for them to do so.
  5. Spain targets companies that use glass in their products. Spanish law demands that food and drink companies must pay for the cost of recycling the glass that their products are sold in. This gives a thriving market for private companies to specialize in glass collection, sorting and re-processing. While there are lots of ways to boost consumers to be more environmentally-responsible. Consider financial incentives for companies to source, reclaim and recycle the content they use in packaging their products.

What else you think we could do to boost glass recycling in the U.S.?

Kathleen Plate, Sustainable Lighting Artist and Recycled Glass Artist

There is an indescribable beauty to the interaction of glass and light. Here in our Bluffton studios, we have glass installations that change the play of light into the studio depending on the time of day and also the time of year. For Recycle Glass Month, we’d like to share the beauty of recycled glass through Kathleen Plate’s recently revealed Smart Glass Guggenheim Chandelier.

Smart Glass Guggenheim Chandelier
Smart Glass Guggenheim Chandelier by Kathleen Plate

“The spiral lighting fixture, inspired by the architecture of the Guggenheim Museum, features a white globe light and glass rings. The chandelier made its national debut at the Guggenheim Museum in New York during the Architectural Digest Home Show and now moves to its current home at Switch Modern in Atlanta.”

Kathleen’s beautiful pieces are made from recycled glass from soda, wine, beer and even salad dressing bottles.  It’s another clear example that glass – with its three simple and natural ingredients – can be endlessly and beautifully recycled. In addition to the Smart Glass Guggenheim Chandelier and Kathleen’s other works of art for the home, she is the founder and designer of Smart Glass Jewelry with this beautiful work showing up on fashion-forward runways and the small screen.

You can bring more of the beauty of recycled glass into your world, whether you make the smart, healthy choice for a reusable glass water bottle or make your next jewelry piece a declaration of sustainable luxury – you can discover the beauty, simplicity and endless
potential of glass.

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