Monthly Archives: March 2011

We Need Foam Plastics (Styrofoams)

We are desperate for foam plastics to make the blocks for the Hunt Institute Engineering and Humanity Week Kenya House. 

We also need the grocery bags but are finding those at Albertsons in Wylie, Brookshires in Wylie, Brookshires in Farmersville, Walmart in Wylie, and Walmart Neighborhood Store in Murphy. 

Home Depot in Wylie is giving us foam plastics they bring back from installations.  Lowes in Murphy has said they will do the same thing.  Best Buy in Northpark is getting a thing together to get us their foam plastics and Fry’s Electronics in Plano is supposedly also working up a way to collect their foam plastics.  Allied Waste’s recycling center in Plano lets me have all the foam plastics I can gather from their trash collection but there isn’t very much to get at one time.  BCE Electro has given us a bunch of foam also.

Hunt Institute Engineering and Humanity Week Participant!!

Stephanie Hunt invited us to build a model and do demonstrations April 11th thru the 15th 2011 on the SMU campus in Dallas.

Dallas Morning News Story

We are having difficulty finding enough materials to build the blocks necessary for the event.  We’re wanting to build the Kenya Hut using only foam and film plastic materials.  Foam (polystyrene aka Styrofoam) and film (grocery bags aka Walmart bags) are not recycled in North Texas curbside like the rest of the plastics.  Foam plastics take up to seventy percent of the space in our landfills and are everywhere in our landscapes.  Film plastics wreck havoc with the conventional recycling operations.  It is estimated the recycling industry do 100,000 extra hand pulls a day removing film plastics processing recyclables.  They estimate that they lose two hours per twenty four hour shift unclogging film plastics from their equipment.  They are also everywhere in the landscape.

Making a home from plastic trash is a good statement to make these days.  But making a home from the worst of the available trash plastic is an even better and more important statement.  The problem for us is it takes a lot of those plastics to make a home with Ubuntu-Blox (recycled plastic blocks).  We need about eight thousand grocery bags and three hundred large yard debris bags full of foam plastics.

Yeah, that is a lot of plastic trash to make a small home.  But, and this but is extremely important, consider that amount of plastic trash isn’t in the landfill.

We have time constraints.  It is my fault.  I could have chosen to build using all plastics and had all I needed on hand because of the wonderful people at Allied Waste in Plano, Texas.  So blame me for being so greedy with my statement making.  Then help us find grocery bags and foam plastics to make a model home on the SMU campus.

BAD Plastic blocks!

We’re making blocks for an event in April.  They want us to have a model house for attendees to experience.

The guys and gals at Allied Waste Recycling Center in Plano, Texas will give me all the plastic I want to make the blocks.  That is too easy and doesn’t make a loud enough of a statement.  All of the curbside recyclers, Allied Waste included, won’t knowingly take styrofoam or film plastics.  Stryofoam and film plastics are destined for the landfill.  If it is put into the recycle bin for curbside recycling it is sorted out and shipped from there to the land fill.  Unless I find it first.

I wade into that stuff and I pull out the styrofoam.  It takes almost a full large garbage bag’s worth to make one block.  They don’t always have it.  But if they do and I’m there I get it, as much as I can.  I stop at a couple of groceries that allow me to pick up the contents of their recycled plastic bag bins.

This is one morning’s haul.  The styrofoam is in the big green bags and the clear bags are full of film plastics from the grocery stores.

The fun starts at the shop.  I take the grocery bags and put four of them together.  Then I fill the bag with pieces of stryofoam.  When the bag is full I tie the ends together, just like they do at the store when you use the bags for your purchases.

The styrofoam won’t stay together as a block without being contained in the bags.  It’s almost serendipity the way it works.  One bad plastic won’t become a good thing without the other, marvelous.  I’ve also found out that one or two of the bags isn’t enough to hold the styrofoam in place during the compaction process.  So we use four bags.

It takes four bags full of styrofoam to make a half block, six to make a full one.  Believe it or not, I ran out of the grocery bags today before I ran out of styrofoam material today.  I also pack in the big pieces of film plastic I get like the shrink wrap and large plastic wrappings and bags thrown away.

This is a large block ready to wire up.

I’ve put in a plea for clean styrofoam dishes like plates, trays, cups, egg cartons, etc online at different places.  I wanted to get some newspaper coverage with a plea for that stuff but it didn’t work out very well.  So if you look up recycling styrofoam in Dallas, Texas hopefully during your search you will find my begging for the bad stuff.  I need about three hundred large bags full for the model house, sorry landfill, you lose, we win.