Monday, September 25, 2006

Brown bottles and brownfields

I noticed these beer bottles and cans as I headed up the parking ramp this morning. I don’t think I can reach them, but I wish I could recycle them. They can be used in new container, brick and ceramic manufacture. Or, I could just give them to one of two friends who make homemade beer. (I actually find it rather sweet that the drinkers bothered to place them so carefully above their heads, rather than leave them on the parking ramp floor where they'd probably break and then be harder to dispose of. Or, maybe they forgot them, having intended to remove them, but after a few too many, well, you know.)

Speaking of brown things and cleaning up, have you heard of brownfields? I hadn’t until reading about them this morning on our University’s home page. I’ve heard of neighborhoods cleaning up empty lots and turning them into parks, but this is more. Apparently I’m a little slow on the uptake, because according to wiki, the term has been around since 1992 and the first EPA funded project was in 1994.

According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), “Brownfields are real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties takes development pressures off of undeveloped, open land, and both improves and protects the environment.”

Here at MSU, our Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station, in partnership with DaimlerChrysler, is looking into ways brownfields can grow crops for biofuels. They’re looking into growing oilseed crops like soybeans, sunflower and canola, and other crops such as corn and switchgrass on abandoned industrial sites for use in ethanol or biodiesel fuel production. Many other organizations have been cleaning up brownfields for a while.

I am excited to hear about ways researchers, businesses and communities are cooperating to work smarter to care for our poor abused mother earth.


Heather said...

Cool. I had no idea about brownfields. I'll check into it. Love the photo of the beer bottles. That is so MSU college parking structure/frat boy-ness there.

Rauf said...

First time hearing about brown fields Ruth. Thanks for the information. Things going in the right direction but it will take time. The government doesn't seem to be very enthusiastic. Sweden and Germany have total government support.

Ruth said...

Heather, I know, right?

Rauf, frankly I was surprised to read how much is going on in this area. I think we don't hear enough of the good news in the world. Not that we should grow complacent!

Ginnie said...

So, so glad to read of these brownfields, Ruth, and what's going on in Michigan there at MSU. We have GOT to be in this frame of mind every day going forward, or we'll lose the battle, I'm afraid. I'd like to be upbeat and positive about it all, hopeful that in this Age of Aquarius there will be a movement, funded by many of our wealthy sports and movie stars and business giants! We are just scratching the surface but once we all get on the bandwagon, the sky is the limit. Just think of what our grandchildren will be blogging about one day soon!

Ruth said...

Ginnie, awareness and awakening -- it's happening in and around us. And you are one of the leaders with all your conservationist habits, my dear sister.

Patty said...

wow-I really loved this post! very interesting-I'd never heard about brownfields either! Love the photo as well! I am doing my persuasive speech(in november) on recycling/not littering and i think this may be a good thing to mention in it!

Ruth said...

Patty, hey that would be cool! I'm just so happy there are innovations I haven't heard of!