Lots of garbage at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

I prepared for the 40th anniversary of Earth Day by spending the afternoon with garbage at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA).

First up:  an exhibit featuring  artwork by Dorothy Rissman made from trash she found on city streets, construction sites and beaches.

Dorothy Rissman - Snack Pack Dress

Dorothy Rissman - Reflector ball

Next: an introduction to the airport’s six pair of shiny new, computer-monitored trash compactors, set out for use by airlines.

(courtesy Sea-Tac Airport)

Sea-Tac Airport is incredibly enthusiastic about reducing waste and has won awards for the amount of trash it recycles and the wide range of things it recycles. For example, unsold food goes to food banks; spent cooking grease becomes bio-diesel fuel; and organic waste – including tons of coffee grounds, of course – gets composted.

Now the airport is turning its eco-eye on all the garbage that arrives on airplanes.

Instead of letting each airline take care of its own garbage, the airport bought a dozen computer-monitored giant compactors (six for trash; six for garbage) so that it can coordinate and monitor airplane trash.   Airlines that separate magazines, newspapers, soda cans and other recyclable items can get rid of that stuff for free.  And if they do a good job of helping the airport keep trash out of the landfills, airlines can get credit to help lower their annual bill.

Happy Earth Day!

Jacksonville Airport feeds zoo animals

Recycling is all the rage at airports these days.

Colored bins marked glass, paper and trash are lined up in most gate areas.

Used cooking oil from many food courts is transformed into fuel.

And at airports in Seattle and Portland, composted coffee grounds become part of the landscaping.

Now the Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) has come up with a creative way to recycle yard waste and help animals.

The airport has teamed up with the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens to provide tree clippings and shrubbery, called browse, [word of the day!] for the zoo’s animals.

Turns out that the airport grounds are an ideal source of the natural vegetation eaten by mammals such as giraffe, elephant, okapi and great apes.  The airport was having a hard time finding enough local ‘browse’ for its hungry critters, and the airport had plenty to spare.

Now, airport officials say, visitors to the giraffe and elephant exhibits, especially, will get to see the animals eating the browse collected that morning from airport property.


Win prizes for getting caught recycling at Denver Int’l Airport

All this week, Denver International Airport (DEN) is rewarding passengers who get “caught” recycling with gift certificates for airport shops and restaurants. The promotion is in honor of America Recycle Days, which officially took place on Sunday, Nov. 15, 2009.

The promotion runs from today (Mon. 11/16/09) through Friday (11/20/09) and the way to win is to get caught in the act of recycling something by one of the airport’s Environmental Services team members who will be combing the main Jeppesen Terminal and the three concourses looking for passengers who are recycling.


Gannon Torrella got “caught” early on by Janell Barrilleaux and Jerry William and won a book of TCBY coupons.

What else can you win if you get caught recycling at Denver International Airport? 16 restaurants, including Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream; Boulder Beer Tap House; Burger King; Caribou Coffee;Lefty’s Mile High Grille, Colorado Trails Grille; the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and others are participating.

Good luck!

Atlanta Airport goes green for America Recycles Day

Airports all over the country have on-site recycling programs.

My home airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), in fact, just won an award for the recycling efforts of the airport’s concessions, which recycle, re-use and compost everything from cardboard to coffee grounds and donate enough food to area food banks to feed more than 8,000 families a year.


Now, just in time for America Recycles Day this Sunday, November 15th, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) is rolling out a new recycling program that will be effortless to use and will reduce the amount of trash the airport sends to landfills by 50 percent by the end of the program’s first year — and by 70 percent by the end of the second year.

ATL- Recycling

How does it work?  Simple:  Just put your recyclable materials and anything else you have to throw away in one of the containers marked with a GreenSortATL logo. They’ll do the rest: under the new program, all waste generated by passengers, employees and businesses goes into the same container and is taken to a facility, where it is sorted and recycled.

Great idea!

(ANA) All Nippon Airways’ flush-before-you-fly program.

Toilet paper

I was pretty sure the story about ANA (All Nippon Airways) asking passengers to pee before boarding – to help lighten the airplane’s, uh, load – was an offhand joke that went viral.

Especially when I couldn’t find anything about the campaign on the airline’s Web site.

But that was just because I can’t read Japanese.  An English version of the press release outlining the flush-before-you-fly program has now been released. And they’re not kidding: as part of a campaign to test out some environmentally-friendly strategies, the airline will indeed be asking passengers to empty their bladders before boarding.

During October, ANA will also be testing out some other “e-ideas” on a variety of domestic and international flights, including offering eco-focused in-flight merchandise and stepping up the in-flight recycling program.   Paper drinking cups and plastic drink bottles will be collected and recycled.  Passengers will also be given chopsticks made of recycled wood products and paper napkins blended with used green tea generated during the manufacturing of green tea drinks.

“Green tea,” notes the airline, “has antibacterial properties and a deodorizing effect, and also provides a pleasant scent for passengers.”