Greenlined Design

Ten Innovations of the Last Century that Better our Planet

By Elizabeth Thompson

Photo Illustration by Joe Zeff Design, Inc.

Recycled Glass
We have been making use of glass for centuries, but it was Oregon’s Bottle Bill of 1971 that inadvertently kick-started US recycling programs as we know them today. Glass recycling saves used containers that previously would have been sent to landfills, and less energy is used to melt recycled glass than to melt down raw materials. (Recycling also reduces the need for quarrying raw materials, thus saving resources.) Bottles can be converted into jewelry, sand, an asphalt composite, storage vessels, stained glass windows and other works of art, and so much more. Discovering all the uses of glass in a closed-loop fashion speaks to its versatility, and one can hope, a strong cultural preference for it over plastic.

Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs)
From whale blubber to paraffin to natural gas to electricity, our need to light the night has produced a steady stream of innovation—all of which, over time, has led to a reduction in our use of resources. Although compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) may offer dramatic energy savings over traditional incandescents, they also contain hazardous materials like mercury. Modern LEDs surpass CFLs in energy efficiency and are free of hazards. And they can achieve better than 100 lumens per watt, meaning this low-powered light is nearly a third brighter than the average fluorescent when using the same power

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Issue 25

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