This shows how much material is used to ship Squirrel model airplanes. All this cardboard is reused carddboard.

Environment

I decided to publish this information so people can comment and I can find ways of improving.

There are a number of things that are done in an environmentally friendly way as well as some concepts I promote during my workshops.

Concept 1: Repair Don’t Dispose!

One of the things I teach kids (and adults) when I give workshops is to realize that if you break a your model airplane that it is easy to fix. We can learn to take care of it instead of abandoning it when there is a problem.

Concept 2: Construction Reuse

Another thing that comes up occasionally during workshops is that a part will break (with children it is usually fidgeting :)). Children naturally seem to break the remaining part into little pieces and then dispose. I teach them that the broken part can be repaired or can be used as spare material to repair the airplane later. I also generally have the kids exchange broken parts for a new one so I can reuse the parts myself.

Concept 3: Avoid Glue Waste

One bottle of glue can work for a whole group. The trick is to share it by putting a blob of it on the flat side of a glue stick cap. People are tempted to use a margarine lid but the glue just dries before it is used and is wasted. So a single glue container can be passed around and less glue is used.

Design

The Squirrel is actually designed to cut out from standard balsa stock with no waste.

Support for Existing Models

I also offer everybody assistance if they break their model plane. I will come to them to help fix it and we can then spend some time flying. Fun for me and it promotes the idea of taking care of things rather than disposal.

DIY

I support people who are making the model without purchasing it. This means there is no shipping materials or shipping at all. It also means they may be making the model out of more local materials.

Propeller Program Phase I

The propellers will soon be made of PLA (Polylactic Acid). PLA is a biodegradable thermoplastic that has been derived from renewable resources such as corn starch and sugar canes. This makes PLA environmentally friendly and very safe.

Propeller Program Phase II

Re-pelletizing of pop bottles (from recycle) and injection molding. This is a more involved process and it will be done after Phase I. The reason being that injection molding is expensive (each mold costs about 5000.00 and the machine itself is tens of thousands of dollars). During Phase I the propeller design will be improved and mastered with a lot of prototyping and testing. Once the design settles then we can start to look at mold production.

Shipping and Handling Materials

Cardboard shipping boxes are all made from reused cardboard.

There are arrangements with some local companies and some is taken from recycle at various locations.

The boxes are custom designed. They are cut and glued together. The cutting system uses very little electricity. It can now make about 60 boxes per hour of operator time. It uses about .006 KWh of Ontario electricity which has a high component of nuclear and hydro giving it a low carbon footprint.

This shows how much material is used to ship Squirrel model airplanes. All this cardboard is reused carddboard.

As you can see this reused cardboard accounts for about 1/4 the weight of the whole package.

Here are a couple of videos of it:


Small Order Shipping

Orders of three or less may be sent with an envelope which is made of cardboard. This saves jet fuel during shipping!

Here is a video of a prototype of the flat envelopes:

I should mention that the boxes are actually cut by hand (the laser was used just for prototyping). At the time of the prototyping it wasn’t known yet that a solution involving all straight cuts that are at right angles would be discovered.

Packaging

The Squirrel is using 1.5 mill bags. Typically a product like this is using much heavier plastic or a lot of cardboard. Also the bag is impulse sealed instead of stapled with a card of paper.

The rigidity of the packaging comes from the instructions.