Public Lab Wiki documentation


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Trash, litter, rubbish. Disposing of materials we no longer want or can no longer use generates waste. Common kinds of waste include municipal solid waste, wastewater, and hazardous waste.

This is a page dedicated towards the development and exploration of Public Lab tools and resources to help understand the world of waste. Ideas range from landfill monitoring and mapping landfills to developing a trash can with built-in scale and household composting bin.

Lead image: @a1ahna, CC BY SA



Activities should include a materials list, costs and a step-by-step guide to construction with photos. Learn what makes a good activity here.

Research notes

Title Author Updated Likes Comments
Choosing Locations and Methodology for Air-Quality Gas Testing @sarasage about 2 years ago 2
How subsurface gasses migrate and what allows them to dissipate? Landfill gasses @denissebn_06 about 2 years ago 4
Plastic Waste Makes both the Environment and Living beings Unhealthy @Ujitha over 2 years ago 2
Seeking a Land Research Curation Fellow @bhamster over 2 years ago 0
Creating a Biodegradable water resistant paper @deeptalaxmibharadwaj almost 3 years ago 1
can i use a spectrometer to sense food wastes and use an arduino to make it light a led accordingly? @tasneim3mon3em about 3 years ago 1
Making ink from petrochemical pollution? @hchalew over 3 years ago 2
New Orleans Clogged Storm Drains @wisegrey about 4 years ago 2
Online Odor Log v1.0 @imvec over 5 years ago 19
How can I identify bits of plastic from the beach in an image? @jlev about 5 years ago 17
Could the Raspberry Pi Microscope be used for looking at microplastics found in ocean water? @stevie about 5 years ago 5
Can NASA VIIRS data used for disaster maps? @marlokeno about 6 years ago 5
Are there maps/tools for finding potential pollution sites for Puerto Rico? @zengirl2 about 6 years ago 1
Solid Waste Facilities in California @herk over 6 years ago 3
SoCal Waste Stream Mapping at Learn Beyond the Book in Santa Clarita @sarasage almost 7 years ago 0
How does bio-waste move within the waste stream? @sarasage almost 7 years ago 0
Aerial mapping a reclaimed landfill @cfastie almost 7 years ago 0
The open burning of textile waste @shanlter over 7 years ago 3
Mapping (in)formal and formal recycling sites and flows: Nicaragua to Boston @mollydanielsson almost 9 years ago 2
Phragmites Landfill Invasion @nicholas about 9 years ago 8
Another example: using free SFM tools to model Saugus Inc. Ash Landfill @patcoyle over 9 years ago 2
Fresh Kills Park Sneak Peak 2013. Staten Island, New York. @gonzoearth over 9 years ago 0
Fresh Kills Park. Staten Island, New York. @gonzoearth over 9 years ago 0
Jornada de documentación y exploración colectiva del territorio @7enproceso over 9 years ago 0

Projects and resources:

Challenges: Ideas for monitoring landfills:

Wifi Enabled Trashcan Scale (concept)

This trashcan has a builtin scale which automatically logs its daily weight online wirelessly. This joins the group 'internet of things' but could help keep track of exactly how much trash an individual or household produces. Could also be implemented into workplaces.

Steps to build: 1) Hack digital scale to add wifi capabilities. 2) Design method in which a trash can is placed on top

*tracking daily waste numbers across communities could be tremendously useful in understanding more precisely how much municipal solid waste is produced annually.

Landfill Monitoring Kit

This kit will include items needed to take a small soil sample in order to test for various toxins, metals, etc... A water monitoring kit - for nearby waterways to test for contaminates in the water. (These are just suggestions for monitoring landfills. I actually have no idea what would be useful)

Landfill Methane Mapping

Methane Balloons? - Landfills are a leading source in methane emissions across the country. Could we attach lowcost methane sensors to balloons and "Methane Map" landfills?

Landfill Identification and Tracking

The Environmental Protection Agency has a database containing data about all of the landfills in the country. It would enlightening to gather citizen stories and documentation of each of these landfills aside from the EPA database. This initial map was created to use the EPA database to locate all of the landfill in the country on one map. Users can then identify nearby landfills and see, via google maps, what the landfill is like from above. Expanding this map to include citizen gathered data on each landfill individually help formulate a better understanding of landfills around the country.

Current example

Home Composting Kit

I'm sure everybody and their brother has thought about this, but when I try and find something online, nothing exists. The home composting kit would be everything you need to easily compost at home. I imagine the kit to be similar to a trash can, but with many various levels to allow for the various steps in composting. - To be totally honest, I only have a basic understanding of how to compost but I fully believe there must be a simple way (via a product) to help people with in-house composting. -

Maybe something like this. Useful scientific research

Wall-E Robot to collect waste

This is all about making a Wall-e stye robot to collect and process waste. This is interesting in both bringing the character to life which represents the 'solution' to our increasingly growing waste stream as well as actually making a robot that could collect waste more efficiently. I also see potential for creating a mascot for waste as well as an opportunity to push the waste conversation forward.

Next steps: Design a diagram of what this robot would do. Ideas: simple moving trash can, add environmental sensors, focus on one item (organics or aluminum can crusher), maybe it is a mini waste to energy robot to power your home? etc...