A fun Blog to share fun and easy ways to be green!

Monday, December 31, 2007

New Years Resolutions Go Green

Start the New Year with Steps toward Helping the Environment
© Linda McDonnell

When you're making your New Years resolutions, try adding a few environment-friendly practices you can follow all year to help save the planet.

This New Year why not make a few resolutions to help keep the environment healthy. Simple changes in daily routines followed throughout the year can make a difference. Below are some suggestions that are easy to do and can set you on the road to sustainable living. Some may even save money as well as helping the environment.

Reuse shopping bags, or better yet, get a durable bag to carry with you to the grocery store and on all your shopping trips.

Buy locally made and grown products. They usually require less packaging and eliminate the environmental costs of long-distance transport. The added bonus is that local fruits and vegetables are often fresher, and locally produced goods help support your own community.

Buy fewer disposable items. Look for long-lasting goods that won’t have to be replaced as often. You’ll reduce waste and save landfill space.

Compost leaves and garden trimmings. The compost will improve your garden soil while reducing waste.

While you’re shopping with your reusable shopping bag, look for products with recycled content. Buying recycled closes the cycle by putting resources back into use.

If possible, find a carpool partner to share your daily commute. Carpooling helps reduce air pollution and traffic congestion. It could mean room for more trees if less land is needed for highways!

If one of your resolutions is to get more exercise, try doing your shopping and errands on foot as part of your exercise program. Walking will help keep automobile pollution down and, like carpooling, help ease traffic congestion.

If you have a ceiling fan that’s reversible, don't forget about it when summer ends. In winter, set it to rotate clockwise at low speed. As heated air rises, the fan will distribute it downward to keep you warmer without turning up the thermostat.

Switch to environmentally friendly commercial laundry soaps.

More exercise! In sunny weather, dry your laundry the old fashioned way: outdoors on a clothesline. You'll save energy by not using the dryer.

Try using natural, home-made cleansers instead of chemical ones. Here are a few simple recipes: For an all-purpose cleanser, mix ½ cup vinegar in one quart of water (reduce water for hard jobs). Use it in a spray bottle. Instead of commercial fabric softener, add ¼ cup (or less) borax to the laundry wash cycle. To deodorize and soften laundry, add one cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle.

Starting the New Year with a few environmental resolutions can offer the satisfaction of knowing you’re doing something positive toward ecological sustainability.

Curb Your Plastic Bag Consumption

Check out the Chico bag! I got one for Christmas and LOVE it.

Fast facts about plastic bags:

The average American uses between 300 and 700 plastic bags per year.

If everyone in the United States tied their annual consumption of plastic bags together in a giant chain, the chain would reach around the Earth not once, but 760 times!

According to the American Forest and Paper Association, in 1999 the U.S. alone used 10 billion paper grocery bags, requiring 14 million trees to be cut down.

Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they photo-degrade—breaking down into small toxic bits contaminating soil and waterways and entering the food-chain when mistaken for zooplankton or jellyfish.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Recycle Your Wine and Champagne Corks!

Yemm & Hart is collecting wine cork stoppers with the goal of converting them into a useful self sustaining product - to extend the useful life of this natural resource for decades and to raise awareness of the cork oak tree and its eco-system.

Send your wine and Champagne cork stoppers prepaid (paid by sender) to Yemm & Hart via UPS or USPS:

Wine Cork Recycling
Yemm & Hart Ltd
610 South Chamber Dr
Fredericktown MO 63645

Please don't send plastic wine stoppers and other non-cork materials.

Click here for information about Yemm and Hart's program.

Seasons Greenings: Environmentally-Conscious Office Parties

Already thinking about your New Year's resolutions? How about getting ahead start by pledging to make your holiday parties and events more Earth-friendly? Now that's a resolution the whole world can celebrate.

If you're not sure where to start, visit GreenFeet.com or The Green Office Blog. Both offer concrete tips for cutting back on waste, from electronic invitations to menu choices to the most eco-friendly cleanup products.
The Newberg Garbage and Recycling Service also posted a list of of ideas for a "merry Christmas and a wasteless new year."

Green Public Radio Sound Bites

Here are some great "green" sound bites from Public Radio for your listening pleasure:

Tess' Trash Tour: We take our trash to the curb, but where does it go after that? Tess Vigeland rides along with her neighborhood garbage man to find out.

Turning Trash into Cash: Landfills may be eyesores for residents, but they have money and jobs to offer communities. Amy Scott visits a Pennsylvania town stuck in the middle of the trash trade.

Garbage across the Pacific: One country's garbage is another country's gold. Scott Tong takes us across the Pacific to see how America's trash has spawned a whole industry in China.

Our E-waste Comes Back to Haunt Us: There's a thriving global industry recovering the precious metals in the millions of electronic devices we throw away each year. But the toxic by-products are showing up in cheap imported goods. Scott Tong reports from China.

Can Wal-Mart Save the World? Retail powerhouse Wal-Mart has been taking great pains to improve its image by adopting environmental standards across all of its stores. Kai Ryssdal talks to Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott.

Making Waves of Green: All Wal-Mart has to do to have an impact on green products is place an order. Reporter Sarah Gardner caught up with some of its 60,000 suppliers at a conference that the retail giant held to talk about sustainability.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Clemson Researcher Makes Fuel from Rotten Peaches

CLEMSON, SC (AP) - Clemson University biosystems engineer Caye Drapcho's new research is just peachy.

Drapcho is using bacteria to generate hydrogen from rotting peaches.

Drapcho says peaches could work well as a biofuel because they have a high percentage of sugars that can be converted to hydrogen.

It could be an inexpensive way to produce power. The South Carolina Peach Council says more than 20 million pounds of peaches that are unfit for sale are thrown away every year .

Drapcho and her graduate assistants are being funded by a grant from the council.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

HGTV Plans Green Home Giveaway

Waste News, Dec. 21 -- Home and garden cable television channel, HGTV, will give away a custom green home in a beach resort community in Hilton Head, S.C., as part of an upcoming promotion.

"We are aware that many of our viewers are interested in hearing more about green lifestyles," said Jim Samples, president of HGTV. The giveaway will take place between March 21 and May 9.

The 2,000-square-foot home, located in the Tradition Hilton Head community, is part of a prize package worth about $850,000. It is registered to receive U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification. "The HGTV Green Home is designed to demonstrate that you don´t have to be extreme to be green," said Jack Thomasson, HGTV Green Home house planner.

Ed. Note: I'll get more details on this! Who couldn't use a green home in Hilton Head?

Baby Boomers See Benefit of Buying Green

Waste News, Dec. 21 -- Baby boomers and older citizens are increasingly "socially conscious" consumers who consider the environmental impact of products they purchase, according to a recent study conducted by AARP and research firm Focalyst.

Seventy percent of the baby boomers and "mature consumers" surveyed said they felt a responsibility to make the world a better place. The study surveyed 30,000 people born in 1964 or earlier. The study´s authors concluded that more than 40 million boomers use their purchasing power to buy environmentally safe brands.

"The study confirms that boomers are taking a critical look at products to find brands that resonate with their growing commitment to an eco-friendly lifestyle," said Larry Renfro, president and CEO of AARP Services Inc., a subsidiary of AARP, the lobbying and advocacy group for Americans 50 and older. "Companies across industries have recognized this trend and are driving home messages of concern and conservation."

The tendency to buy environmentally safe brands correlates directly with age, with mature consumers more likely to be "green," said Heather Stern, of Focalyst.

"As consumers get older, they become more aware of their legacy and leaving a positive mark on the world, and this is particularly true of boomers," she said.

However, while "environmentally safe" and "organic" often are thought of as being closely related, many boomers don´t draw the same connection, according to the study´s findings. Less than a third of the boomer population is willing to pay more for organic foods, according to the study.

In addition, boomers with lower incomes are "greener" than their more affluent counterparts, according to the study. It found that 57 percent of those with incomes of less than $50,000 considered themselves green, while only 50 percent of those with income greater than $150,000 identified themselves that way.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Looking for Movies to Rent Over the Holidays

Check out this list of "Top Ten Green Movies That Didn't Set Out to Be."

Fun E-Blog

I ran across this blog - How Can I Recycle This - and thought it was a fun one! It's a UK site, so there may be some slight variation as to what you can do in your community, but there are some great ideas. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

FAQ: The End of the Light Bulb as We Know It

U.S.News & World Report, Wednesday December 19, 11:01 am ET
By Marianne Lavelle

The incandescent light bulb, one of the most venerable inventions of its era but deemed too inefficient for our own, will be phased off the U.S. market beginning in 2012 under the new energy law just approved by Congress. Although this will reduce electricity costs and minimize new bulb purchases in every household in America, you may be feeling in the dark about the loss of your old, relatively reliable source of light. Here's a primer on the light bulb phase-out and what will mean to you:

Why are they taking my light bulbs away? Moving to more efficient lighting is one of the lowest-cost ways for the nation to reduce electricity use and greenhouse gases. In fact, it actually will save households money because of lower utility bills. Ninety percent of the energy that an incandescent light bulb burns is wasted as heat. And yet, sales of the most common high-efficiency bulb available--the compact fluorescent (CFL)--amount to only 5 percent of the light bulb market. Earlier this year, Australia became the first country to announce an outright ban by 2010 on incandescent bulbs. The changeover in the United States will be more gradual, not mandated to begin until 2012 and phased out through 2014. However, don't be surprised if some manufacturers phase out earlier.

How do I save money, when a CFL costs six times as much as an old-fashioned bulb? Each cone-shaped spiral CFL costs about $3, compared with 50 cents for a standard bulb. But a CFL uses about 75 percent less energy and lasts five years instead of a few months. A household that invested $90 in changing 30 fixtures to CFLs would save $440 to $1,500 over the five-year life of the bulbs, depending on your cost of electricity. Look at your utility bill and imagine a 12 percent discount to estimate the savings.

I've heard that CFLs don't really last as long as they say. Turning a CFL on and off frequently shortens its life, which is why the government's Energy Star program says to leave them on for at least 15 minutes at a time. Also, if you have dimmable light fixtures, make sure to buy CFLs labeled "dimmable." All CFLs that carry the government's Energy Star label are required to carry a two-year limited warranty, so contact the manufacturer if your bulb burns out prematurely. The Energy Star website has a good FAQ on CFLs.

I don't think that I like the color of the light from CFLs. When they first hit the market, CFLs had a limited range of tones. Now, manufacturers offer a wider variety, but there is not an agreed-upon labeling standard. The Energy Star program is working to change that. But for now, look for lower "Kelvin temperatures" like 2,700 to 3,000 for "redder" light, closer to old-fashioned incandescent bulbs, while bulbs with Kelvin temperatures of 5,000 and 6,500 provide more "blue" and intense light. A good photograph illustrating the difference is shown here.

I've heard that CFLs have mercury in them--isn't that bad? Consumers are rightly concerned about the toxic substance mercury that helps CFLs produce light. Even though the amount sealed in each bulb is small--one old-fashioned thermometer had about 100 times as much mercury--contact local trash collection for disposal instructions. Environmentalists agree that more work must be done on bulb recycling programs. Right now, you can return any CFL to any Ikea store for recycling, and the Environmental Protection Agency and Earth911 have sites you can search for other recycling programs near your home.

But if you break a CFL, you'll have a toxic spill in your home. Maine's Department of Environmental Protection has developed the best advice on the procedures to follow if a CFL breaks. Don't use a vacuum. Maine officials studied the issue because of a homeowner in that state who received a $2,000 light bulb clean-up bill from an environmental hazards company--a story that has circulated around the country and increased consumer concerns about CFLs. It turns out that the company's advice was overkill, and a subsequent analysis showed no hazard in the home. But the bulbs must be handled with caution. Using a drop cloth might be a good new routine to develop when screwing in a light bulb, to make the clean-up of any breaks easier.
By the way, don't think that incandescent bulbs are mercury free. In the United States, the chances are at least 50 percent that their light is generated by a coal-powered plant featuring mercury as well as other types of pollution. Popular Mechanics recently crunched the numbers to find that even if the mercury in a CFL was directly released into the atmosphere, an incandescent would still contribute almost double that amount of mercury into the environment over its lifetime.

Isn't there efficient lighting without mercury? Yes. By 2012, the chances are good that consumers will have many more options to replace incandescent bulbs. Manufacturers already are deploying advanced incandescent bulbs that are efficient enough to stay on the market after 2012, although they are not yet as efficient as CFLs. Even more exciting are the developments with light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which are jazzing up holiday lighting. The European electronics firm Philips this year acquired several pioneering small technology companies and plans a big push to make LEDs practical for ordinary lighting purposes. The lights on the New Year's Eve Times Square Ball could one day brighten your home. LEDs last even longer than CFLs and will make bulb buying more like an appliance purchase than a throw-away item.

Is Thomas Edison turning over in his grave? Perhaps, but the incandescent bulb has had a good run, with the technology little changed since 1879, when Edison produced light with a carbonized thread from his wife's sewing box. The breakthrough that ushered civilization out of the candle era was so revolutionary that the light bulb itself became the culture's iconic image to illustrate any thought, brainstorm, or idea. But energy-efficient bulbs are a better idea, says Andrew deLaski, director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project. "It's hugely important," he says. "A 60 to 70 percent reduction in light bulb energy use will save as much energy annually as that used by all the homes in Texas last year." That's a big savings.

Recycle, Baby

Enjoy my version of Santa, Baby with a green twist!

Have a Green Christmas

This is REALLY late, but hopefully you can still incorporate some of these great tips from EarthEasy.

Do More Than Dream of a Green Holiday

By SHRM Online staff

Organizations can put the "green" in the red-and-green holiday color scheme by making environmentally friendly choices.

Turning off lights, computers and office equipment in empty cubicles, offices and low-traffic common areas, and avoiding Christmas decorations that use electricity are among simple ways organizations can lessen their carbon footprint, according to Genesys Conferencing, a global multimedia collaboration service leader.

Those are among favorite tips for a greener holiday workplace, according to a survey of 15,000 of Genesys's clients.

Other tips include closing the company cafeteria during the holidays when few people might be about and avoiding unnecessary travel by using virtual meetings. Forty-four percent of those surveyed said they more likely would work during the holidays if they could participate in meetings from home and through web conference calls. More than half, or 58 percent, of respondents say their organization has implemented policies to help preserve the environment.

"Companies are becoming increasingly committed to year-round green programs, but they haven't yet realized what additional opportunities exist when only half their employees are in the office during the holiday period," said Denise Persson, executive vice president of marketing for Genesys."Creating a greener workplace for the holidays can be a communal company effort," she said in a press release, "that instills pride and encourages teamwork."

Related Article: Going Green , HR Magazine, October 2006

Friday, December 14, 2007

Five Tips For Better Recycling

From Earth 911

Have you ever wondered if there’s a proper etiquette to recycle your products? If your recycling bin could talk, would it be providing suggestions for how to be more eco-efficient?

Earth 911 is here to offer five easy recycling tips that come directly from recycling centers. It may require a little more work on your end, but it could also mean the difference between your recyclables ending up as new products or lining the next landfill.

Know Before You Throw
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 75 percent of the contents you’ll find in a garbage can are recyclable, but that doesn’t mean all these products are recyclable through your curbside program. There are seven different types of plastic, and many curbside recycling programs only take in plastics #1 and #2.

These two points lead to the following reality: recycling bins shouldn’t be seen as a second trash can, with the thought that everything will be sorted once it arrives at a distribution center. If a material isn’t taken by that center, chances are it will end up in the trash instead of recycled elsewhere.

Remove The Accessories
Many of your plastic and glass bottles (even some metal cans) will come with a paper label to identify the product. Glass jars usually have metal lids, and the plastic caps on drink containers are made of a different plastic than the bottle.

Accessories should be removed so this process doesn’t have to be done at the recycling center. Labels can be placed in your paper recycling, and metal lids can be sorted with your aluminum and tin. Even if your curbside program is single-stream (commingled), it is still a good idea to remove these lids and labels before you place them in a recycling bin.

Rinse Your Containers
Unless your jar, can or bottle originally contained water, it will likely leave behind sticky or sugary remains even after you’ve finished every drop. Similar to how you wouldn’t leave these sticky substances on your kitchen counters, you don’t want them on your recyclables.

A quick rinsing in the sink should easily remove any sauce or leftover liquid. With the lids off your containers (see above), the water drops will evaporate leaving a clean container.

Sticky containers can lead to ants and other unwanted visitors, not to mention dirty up your recycling bin. Plus, if your containers are mixed with paper in one bin, the paper can get contaminated by non-water liquids and become unrecyclable.

Watch the Weather
This is especially true for paper recycling, or if your recycling is picked up in open air containers instead of sealed bins. If paper recycling is left out in the rain, it will become soggy and mutilated to the point that it can’t be recycled.

Similarly, it’s not a good idea to try and recycle paper that has gotten wet inside your house. If you use newspaper to stop roof leaks, it’s probably better to use this paper in your winter fires. Many locations dissuade recycling yellow newspaper, so your older newsprint can serve as a fire starter as well.

Save Some Space
Any cardboard boxes should be collapsed so that they can fit easier in your recycling bin. It’s not necessary to remove the tape, especially at the risk of tearing up your cardboard.

Also try and collapse other paper packaging, such as milk/juice containers. You’ll be able to pack more recycling into your bin, and there will be more room in the recycling trucks.

These five tips should take less than five minutes to implement, and will save countless time at the recycling center. To be on the safe side, though, check with your local recycling program to see if there are any additional special instructions for your neighborhood.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Now THIS Is a Trip I'd Like to Take

Chocolate-powered truck heads for Timbuktu

By Richard Savill

Two British adventurers are preparing to set off on an expedition to west Africa in a lorry powered by biodiesel made from waste chocolate.

Andrew Pag, 34, from Croydon, south London, and John Grimshaw, 39, from Poole, Dorset, will drive more than 4,500 miles across the Sahara to Timbuktu, in Mali, to raise awareness of green fuels.

Their lorry, called "the Bio-truck", runs on a fuel created by a Lancashire-based producer, Ecotec, which has developed a process to turn chocolate misshapes into biodiesel.

Most of the chocolate would otherwise end up in landfill.

Mr Pag, an engineer, and Mr Grimshaw, an electrician, are due to leave late tonight from Poole on a cross-channel ferry.

Their Ford Iveco Cargo lorry will carry two 4x4 land cruisers, which will be used for the last 150 miles of the journey because of the state of the road. All three vehicles will run on bio-diesel.

The Britons will drive through France and Spain and then catch another ferry to Morocco before crossing the desert to Timbuktu.

The journey is expected to take about three weeks.

Mr Pag said: "We have chosen Timbuktu as a destination partly because it is the back of beyond, so if we can make it there with bio-fuel there is no reason why motorists cannot use it on the school run or on their commute to work."

Timbuktu was also picked because it is being "eaten away" by the encroaching desert and is at the "sharp end" of climate change, Mr Pag added.

Mr Pag, who has been to Africa several times, said: "I have made many expeditions and visited these amazing landscapes but to get there I have contributed to their destruction by driving a guzzling diesel engine.

"I wanted to do something that's carbon neutral. What we have actually done is carbon negative."

The pair are taking 2,000 litres of bio-diesel made from 4,000kg of chocolate misshapes, the equivalent of 80,000 chocolate bars, to fuel their adventure.

But they will not be able to dip into their tank if they feel hungry as the biodiesel does not look or smell like chocolate.

The fuel is made from cocoa butter extracted from the waste chocolate.

The environmental benefits of biofuels is subject to increasing debate, as critics argue that producing biofuels wastes land and water and encourages the destruction of rain forests.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

My eTree

I finally completed my office eTree (e is for environmental)! All of the ornaments are recycled-content or depict recycling/solid waste management. These are from my phone and aren't too good; I'll try to get some better ones soon!


The Brick Maker is the perfect way to recycle your newspaper for instant gratification.

Just fill the Brick Maker with damp paper and it creates the perfect, fireplace ready, briquette. The best part is, these stackable handy bricks do away with ugly paper piles!

The concept is pretty straightforward: the Brick Maker takes compressed wet newspaper and drives it into 8 1/2″ x 3 1/4″ bricks that burn at the rate of about 4 per hour.

Simply soak your newspaper in a bucket or tub (and mix in any assortment of sawdust, grass clippings, or aromatic chips if desired) and fill the brick maker, then press down on the handles to compact the lot. Once removed from the device just allow time for your brick to dry and use it as you would a log of wood in your stove or fireplace.

I'm ordering one today, even though I don't use my fireplace!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Sonoco, Changing the Way Retailers Package Their Wares

By BEN WERNER - bwerner@thestate.com

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, has a stated goal to cut the amount of packaging it uses by 5 percent by 2013.

Starting in 2008, Wal-Mart is pushing all its suppliers to operate greener, through its initiative dubbed Sustainability 360.

When announcing the program earlier in the year, chief executive Lee Scott explained what sounds like a slight decrease equals removing 213,000 trucks from the road, saving 324,000 tons of coal and 67 million gallons of diesel fuel each year.

The message was clear to manufacturing firms wanting to sell products in Wal-Mart stores — change packaging or look for other sales outlets.

“They gave a wake-up call to the consumer goods industry,” Jeff Schuetz, staff vice president of global technology for Sonoco Products Co., the Hartsville-based packaging giant.

Part of Schuetz’s job is to advise Sonoco’s customers — the companies making products sold in stores and the owners of those stores — how changing packaging can make a big difference to the environment and bottom line.

Officials from Sonoco have been helping Wal-Mart develop its Sustainability 360 initiative since 2004. Sonoco is also helping Target with its waste reduction initiative.

By stocking shelves with different packaging, companies can cut the amount of waste generated, fuel used and pollution created, Schuetz said.

“If you can make a 10 percent reduction in the amount of packaging of a very large consumer brand, that adds up,” Schuetz said.

Even traditional critics, such as The Sierra Club, which has helped communities fight the construction of new big box retailers, including Wal-Mart stores, says the Sustainability 360 initiative can make a difference.

“When Wal-Mart tells a supplier that it wants a change in packaging, that supplier will change all its packaging,” said David Willett, spokesman for The Sierra Club. “Wal-Mart has the potential to have a tremendous impact on America’s environmental footprint.”

Target’s plan includes reusing 385 million garment hangers along with recycling more than 153,000 pounds of metal from broken hangers, 2.1 million pounds of plastic, 4.3 million pounds of shrink wrap at distribution centers and 911.1 million pounds of cardboard.

Reducing packaging and recycling what packaging is used fits nicely into Sonoco’s work ethic.

“The backbone of Sonoco has been the use of old container packaging and cardboard to make cores (the tubes that hold wire, twine, tape and paper products) used around the world,” Schuetz said.

Cutting down on waste entails a lot more than just manufacturing packages out of recyclable materials — something Sonoco does a lot. The company collects Richland County's recyclables for use in its manufacturing.

Cutting waste includes creating packages that weigh less. A common problem, Schuetz said, is delivery trucks hit their weight limit before they are filled with packages.

The ability to put more packages in a truck means a retailer such as Wal-Mart needs fewer trucks to transport products.

After a year in place, Willett said Wal-Mart’s sustainability initiative is showing some signs of progress.

“Truck emissions is probably the place it has made the most gains,” Willett said.

But Sonoco offers retailers other ways to cut waste by manufacturing packages that can be stacked and act as their own display. This helps cut down on weight and waste by cutting the need to have additional paperboard displays. Packaging is still discarded, but by providing the stores with less packaging, they put less in the waste stream.

What waste is created, is then actively sought by Sonoco for reuse in the manufacture of new packaging, by collecting old packaging from recycling sites, transporting it to manufacturing plants where it is melted or shredded apart and reconstituted into new packaging.

The company collects used packaging to make either composite containers — which are formed out of a variety of materials, such as paper, metal and plastic — or cores — tubes that do everything from holding rolls of toilet paper to hold concrete forms in place at construction sites.

Not every package can be made from recycled products. Food packaging, for instance, often has requirements governing what can come in contact with food.

But such containers can usually be recycled into something else. For instance, a used plastic water bottle can be broken down and reformed into plastic used to hold nonedible products.
The difficulty, Schuetz said, comes in balancing the desire to be green with satisfying food safety requirements and consumer demands.

The Food and Drug Administration sets standards designed to prevent food coming into contact with packaging that was contaminated before being recycled. Companies such as Sonoco have to prove the recycled materials meet these standards.

“We’re not going to go back to the 1800s and wrap our meat in paper,” Schuetz said.

Still, when speaking of the packaging world’s future, Schuetz said it will only be more common for shoppers to find the products they’re buying are in recycled and recyclable containers.

“I think packaging companies are doing this because it’s the right thing to do, not because of Wal-Mart,” Schuetz said.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

21 Ways to Recycle Empty Prescription Bottles

By Gloria Campos in Daily Green Tips

Recent coughs and ear infections in my household have left me with a pile of empty unrecycable RX bottles sitting on my kitchen counter waiting for me to figure out what to do with them. I hate to throw them away, but Wednesday’s curbside recycling doesn’t recycle this kind of plastic here and my CVS pharmacy doesn’t recycle or reuse them either.

In an effort to find new uses for them I searched online and I have compiled a lists of these tips below.

Before reusing any empty prescription bottle in anyway take off the labels, so no one has access to your personal information and then clean and sanitize the bottles thoroughly.


1. Store seeds inside the bottles and then label the bottles according to the seeds they hold. Seeds that need to be kept cold can easily be placed inside the fridge in these bottles.

2. Glue several bottles next to each other and use the glued collection on your desk as a storage system for all your tiny things: rubber bands, paper clips, hair pins, needles, nails, bolts, screws, matches, etc. Or just place some fresh flowers inside to brighten up your office.

3. If you need a coin holder to place in your purse or your car, place your loose change in the prescription bottles. No more looking everywhere for change especially if you need to pay the toll.

4. Use these bottles to store Barbie’s high heels, jewelry etc.


5. Donate your empty prescription bottles to your local vet, animal shelters, Some places will take prescription bottles and reuse them to fill prescriptions for the animals.

6. Some free clinics also take empty prescription bottles and reuse them. Ask if you can donate yours to the free clinic in your area. Right now North Point needs large prescription bottles.

7. Homeless shelters sometimes take empty prescription bottles. Call your local homeless shelter to find out if they do.


8. Makes a nice rattle/toy for cats (not babies). Put some dried beans inside and close it tight. Then let them play.


9. If you like to paint decorative pieces and buy paint in large sizes to save money you can transfer some paint to these small containers to work on one or two projects at a time without using up all the paint or letting it dry up.


Note: I have read in several places that it is not wise to use prescription bottles for any kind of food storage due to the residue that some prescriptions leave behind so please use caution if you decide to use any of the food storage tips below.

10. Here is an early valentine gift idea that involves reusing brown prescription bottles. Susan from Houston, TX fills hers up with chocolate kisses, relabels them "Rx for a Happy Valentine's Day, lots of hugs and kisses!" and then gives them to the people she loves.

Caution: Putting candy in a prescription bottle can confuse a child. Please be careful about where you place these reused prescription bottles and your real ones. Children can’t tell the difference between one and the other.

11. Turn prescription bottles into saltshakers. Paint the bottles or leave as is. Poke tiny holes in the caps then fill them with salt or pepper and use them as saltshakers.

12. If you pack salad for lunch a prescription bottle is a tiny storage place to store some salad dressing.


13. You never know when your clothes will rip or you’ll loose a button. A Mini Sewing kits would come in handy in a case like this. Some prescription bottles are big enough to store some needles and thread and maybe more.

14. A tiny emergency kit for a cut or scrape can fit in a prescription bottle: band-aids, cotton balls, q-tips and some tiny alcohol wipes.

15. Use to neatly store plastic bags in your purse in case you suddenly need a plastic bag, say during a car ride with someone that tends to get motion sickness


16. As part of a quilting tip quilt designer Mark Lipinski suggest to store thread spools in prescription bottles to prevent it from tangling. See how here.

17. Melt them and make them into jewelry. This is supposed to be a fun kids craft. For instructions on how to melt certain types of prescriptions bottles go here.
Note: I do not know what kind of pollution this release in the air. For less air pollution maybe they can just be cut into pieces.

18. Make tiny maracas

19. Store buttons, beads and other small craft items in these bottles.

20. Make a Snowman Christmas Ornament out of a prescription bottle. For directions go here.

21. If you live in Canada you can contact PHARM-ECOLOGICAL ON-LINE!. They work with pharmacies to recycle plastics including prescription bottles.

Most pharmacies don’t recycle prescription bottles because in some cases pharmacies don’t have the equipment or manpower to do it. Prescription bottles have to be cleaned and sanitized before they are reused.

SYLVANIA Continues Commitment to Lamp Recycling Program

I receive calls about this weekly. A great option for just $15.

North American lighting leader OSRAM SYLVANIA is proud to announce that the RECYCLEPAK(R) Consumer CFL Recycling Kit, a convenient solution for CFL recycling available at www.sylvania.com/recycle, will now be shipped via the United States Postal Service (USPS). This means that consumers who purchase the pre-paid/pre- labeled recycling kit online can simply give the package to any letter carrier or bring it to any of the over 37,000 USPS postal facilities for return delivery, expanding the availability of this product to all 50 states and US territories.

SYLVANIA recognizes the public concerns over the effects of mercury in the environment and the need for proper CFL disposal. SYLVANIA CFLs use 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. However, because they contain a small amount of mercury, it is important that CFLs be recycled.

That's why in November 2006 SYLVANIA designed the industry's first online recycling program with Veolia Environmental Services, the largest environmental services company North America. The collaborative effort has helped businesses as well as consumers throughout the country recycle their lighting products.

The RECYCLEPAK Consumer CFL Recycling Kit, as featured in leading publications such as Consumer Reports(R), makes recycling CFLs easy. The Recycling Kit holds up to 15 CFLs -perfect for homes and small offices using energy-efficient lighting. Simply purchase the kits online - one price includes the recycling container delivered to your door, protective poly liner, easy to follow instructions, the CFL recycling, and a return shipping label.

"We've worked very closely with SYLVANIA and the USPS to design a program that's safe and easy to use for residential customers," noted Rob Wlezien, Veolia vice president of sales and marketing. "Our RECYCLEPAK program can now be used by more than 300 million people in 146 million homes, businesses and PO Boxes in every state, city and town across the U.S.," continued Wlezien.

"The Consumer CFL Recycling Kit option allows consumers everywhere to recycle their spent lamps easily," Jennifer Dolin, environmental marketing manager, OSRAM SYLVANIA, said. "We're pleased to be working with Veolia and the USPS to continue providing more convenient, simple recycling solutions that help our customers responsibly dispose of their bulbs."

"We encourage everyone to safely recycle their used CFLs and are pleased to see this new opportunity," Matt Hale, director of EPA's Office of Solid Waste, said. "Any action that gives more Americans access to recycling options is an important step in the right direction."

Please visit www.sylvania.com/recycle for more information on the recycling program and how to begin using RECYCLEPAK today.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Start Saying No to Plastic Bags This Holiday Season

Plastic bags, invented as a household convenience, have become an environmental menace. Billions of the ubiquitous bags are used and discarded every year, ending up as roadside and waterborne trash that kills thousands of birds and marine mammals annually. This holiday season is a good time to start saying "no" to plastic bags.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Student Cooks Up Cheap Fuel Option

By Chris Young of GateHouse News Service

JACKSONVILLE - With the price of gas hovering around $3 a gallon, the aroma of burnt doughnuts coming from the tailpipe of Jason Miles' Volkswagen Jetta smells especially sweet. That's because Miles, a student in the environmental biology department at Illinois College in Jacksonville , has been making his own bio-diesel fuel from waste cooking oil for less than $1 per gallon.

Miles did a research paper on the subject, and, with the encouragement of professor Deborah Beal and financial support from his parents, Rick and Diane Miles of Springfield , he researched and purchased the equipment needed to make bio-diesel.

The basic processing and filtering equipment cost about $3,500, said Miles. Miles makes bio-diesel in the garage of his home just off campus in Jacksonville. Since it is not kept on campus, the project was not eligible for college funds.

To make fuel, the portion of waste oil that can be cleanly burned must be separated from the cooking oil, much like vinegar and oil salad dressing separates after sitting on the shelf. But the separation doesn't take place without help. It takes a couple of chemical reactions to make it happen. One is fairly straightforward, but the other must be calculated each time depending on how often the cooking oil was used. The oil is heated and then mixed with chemicals. A pump circulates the chemicals and oil for an hour, and the mixture is allowed to sit for 24 hours.

The chemicals work a little like the human digestive system, breaking down molecular bonds so the carbon-based molecules can separate into distinct layers. Miles drains off the bottom layer, called glycerin, and adds it to his compost pile. (Glycerin also has applications as an ingredient in natural soaps, a potential sideline market.) The top layer is pumped directly into the gas tank.

At first Miles asked local restaurants for their waste oil. Only the local Burger King would cooperate. Miles always framed the conversation as a request for a donation of used oil. Once school resumed in the fall, Miles found a steady source of cooking oil from Chartwells, the company that provides food service on the Illinois College campus.

He can get about 20 gallons a week but uses only about half that much. Miles said he likes using bio-diesel because the used oil doesn't go to waste. Also, he says bio-diesel is renewable, unlike fossil fuels, which must be extracted from the ground and cannot be replaced.

Running on bio-diesel, rather than conventional diesel fuel, Mile's Jetta gets slightly reduced gas mileage. He gets 40 to 45 miles per gallon on the highway, versus the usual 50 mpg. Other perceived drawbacks are not always true, he said. Bio-diesel works fine in cold weather with an additive, and he says it actually helps clean the engine. He says the engine runs quieter on his fuel, with the typical knocking sound of a diesel engine being muffled considerably. However, bio-diesel can dissolve rubber gaskets and fuel lines on older cars. The use of homemade fuels also can invalidate a car's warranty, so most home fuel producers use older models, like the Jetta, that are no longer under warranty.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Subway's Diet: Less Oil, More Recycling

By JANET ADAMY, Wall Street Journal Online

The Subway sandwich chain is testing recycling bins, switching its napkins, cutlery and plastic cups and cutting down on the gasoline used to transport its restaurant supplies in an effort to minimize the chain's impact on the environment.

The nation's largest restaurant chains have made scant progress in offering recycling for customers. No other major fast-food chain, including McDonald's Corp., Burger King Corp., Yum Brands Inc.'s KFC and Taco Bell and Wendy's International Inc., said it has recycling bins for customer trash at its restaurants in the U.S. Starbucks Corp. has recycling bins at some cafes on the East Coast, but they don't accept the chain's paper coffee cups because those can't be recycled, according to the coffee company.

Restaurants said they haven't installed recycling bins for customers because wrappers, napkins, cups and other packaging that is soiled with food is difficult, and in some cases impossible, to recycle in the U.S. McDonald's said most cities won't accept recycled material with food on it. Some food-tainted packaging can be recycled, but it is expensive to do, said Susan Daywitt, chief executive of SLM Waste & Recycling Services Inc. in Sellersville, Pa., which helped Subway create its recycling program.

Ms. Daywitt said she has talked to other chains about adding recycling bins for customers and found that their franchisees typically don't want to do it because it usually costs more. A 96-gallon container of bottles and cans costs between $18 and $25 to recycle, she said. "When you're looking at an expense side and their margins are 2%, they're going to say, 'I don't need that,' especially when it's not mandated," Ms. Daywitt said.

If Subway can make recycling bins work, it could prompt other chains to add them too. The chain, owned by Doctor's Associates Inc., has about 22,000 locations in the U.S., making it the country's largest restaurant chain as measured by units.

Subway is testing the new initiatives at a so-called "eco-store" it opened this month in Kissimmee, Fla. In addition to recycling bins, the restaurant was constructed using some recycled materials, and it uses more efficient heating and cooling systems, has plumbing systems that conserve water and uses high-efficiency lighting. Subway worked with the U.S. Green Building Council to develop the store and is planning to build others like it.

Nationally, the company has switched to napkins that use 100% recycled materials, of which 60% is post-consumer recyclable material. Recycled material can include material such as wood chips, while post-consumer recycled material is paper that has already been used by consumers. Subway estimates it will save about 147,000 trees a year. The company also switched to cutlery and plastic drinking cups made of polypropylene instead of polystyrene, which it estimates will save 13,000 barrels of oil annually because it no longer needs to use as much of that material. The chain also will save gasoline after it reconfigured a facility in Utah that keeps it from having to slice deli meat in Iowa and send it to Colorado for distribution.

The waste bin at the Kissimmee store is divided into three baskets for paper, plastic and trash. Only the plastic waste is actually recycled. The chain hasn't figured out how to recycle the paper material that has food waste on it. The company said it is dividing out that material to raise awareness about recycling. The plastic waste that is recycled in the Florida store includes plastic bottles, straws, straw wrappers, drink lids, cutlery and salad bowls. If the plastic recycling is successful in this location, Subway plans to put it in more of its restaurants.

Subway officials said when they first began looking into customer recycling, they were surprised by how difficult it is. One problem is that the regulations governing recycling vary by city. "It's not an easy job to tackle when you're looking at a chain this big," said Tina Fitzgerald, director of produce and sustainability for Subway's purchasing co-operative.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Environmental Groups Help Cut Down on Catalogs

To reduce the number of catalogs that pile up in people's mailboxes, three environmental groups have joined forces to operate a free Web site that allows people to remove themselves from any of more than 1,000 mailing lists, reports The New York Times.

The site - CatalogChoice.org - collects names and then contacts the catalog companies to remove names and addresses from their mailing lists.

The site is being run by the National Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Ecology Center. Since it opened for business last month, the charities say they have helped more than 165,000 people opt out of receiving nearly 1.7 million catalogs.

Thanksgiving Football Game Will Be Carbon Neutral

Are you ready for some carbon neutral football?

The Detroit Lions game on Thanksgiving Day against the Green Bay Packers will be the first carbon neutral National Football League game as Ford Field in will offset 100 percent of its emissions.

That includes all of the carbon dioxide emissions from more than 28,000 cars traveling to the event as well as from all of the electricity used at the stadium. The company also will offset the equivalent of one jet for fans and the opposing team traveling to the game and reduce 933 tons of greenhouse gas emissions during the event.

In total, the event will offset almost 1.9 million pounds of emissions, according to Carbon Credit Environmental Services Inc., which is helping with the program.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Free Electronics Recycling at Mall of America Shut Down Over Traffic Congestion

I can't believe someone was actually crazy enough to schedule e-recycling at the Mall of America and NOT expect this to happen! What a nightmare!

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- The Mall of America electronics recycling drive was shut down at 11:00 a.m. due to traffic congestion after an overwhelming response to the free recycling event.

36 semi truck loads of electronics were recycled at the event after several hundred cars lined up as early as 5:00 a.m. when organizers arrived at MOA. Police and event officials say they unfortunately had to shut down the event.

“This event certainly shows that Minnesotans care about the environment,” David Kutoff, CEO, Materials Processing Corporation said. “Our focus now is to ensure that everything collected is fully processed to the highest standards and that the public have the information they need to drop off at other convenient locations.”

Eagan-based Materials Processing Corporation teamed with Mall of America for the event, which they called “Green Thursday”. The event was scheduled to run from Thursday, Nov. 15 to Sunday Nov. 17.On Thursday, over 5,000 cars dropped of more than one million pounds of old TVs, computers and other electronics.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Home Depot Canada Launches CFL Recycling Initiative

Let's hope something like this is coming to the US soon!

Toronto—The Home Depot Canada announced a national in-store compact fluorescent lightbulb (CFL) recyclingprogram at all 160 The Home Depot Canada locations, helping customers make environmentally conscious decisions from purchase to disposal.

This free service is the first such offering so widely available in Canada, and by November 22, Canadians will be able to bring in their expired CFLs to any The Home Depot store, assured that each bulb will be recycled safely. The program is supported by Philips Lighting and Fluorescent Lamp Recyclers Inc.

“The CFL recycling program is another example of how The Home Depot is encouraging customers to make energy efficient changes in their homes,” said Annette Verschuren, President, The Home Depot Canada and Asia. “With stores located in every province, this program is the first national solution to providing Canadians with a convenient way to recycle CFLs.”

At each The Home Depot store, customers will find a CFL recycling unit located at the entrance by the special services desk. Customers can simply bring in their expired CFLs, place them in one of the plastic bags provided, seal the bag and deposit it into the display.

Each store monitors the unit and once full, sends the expired CFLs to be responsibly recycled by Fluorescent Lamp Recyclers Inc., in Ayr, Ontario.

“Consumers face a barrier in making better environmental decisions, such as what to do with their expired CFLs,” said Michael Gentile, Vice President and General Manager, Philips Lighting. “Having CFL recycling units located in so many stores across Canada will allow customers to feel completely confident in purchasing and using CFLs in their homes.”

While more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs, CFLs contain mercury, which can be toxic to the environment if disposed of improperly.

As the largest retailer of light bulbs in the country, The Home Depot is on track to sell seven million CFLs in 2007, which will provide Canadians approximately $315 million in energy savings and save 755,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases over the life of the bulbs.

Campaigns Elect to Recycle Signs

Recyclable campaign signs! What a novel idea!

BY SHAWN A. HESSINGER, Republican Herald

It’s a sign of the times — campaign signs that dotted the landscape leading up to Tuesday’s General Election are now finding their way into the county recycling system.

“So there are people that recycle them; however, we haven’t seen any as of yet,” said county solid waste and resource manager Dan Grow.

He said drivers picking up recyclables from county dropoff points have told him they routinely see campaign signs made of tearable, laminated parcel board in both the cardboard and paper bins. Metal frames used to stick the signs into the ground have routinely been folded and placed in the steel and aluminum bin after other elections, Grow said.

By contrast, Jonas Kreitzer, general manager of Kreitzer Sanitation Inc., Frackville, said the company rarely comes across signs in its waste stream.

“I can’t say I ever see a large amount of them in one spot,” Kreitzer said.

He added that if the signs are put up and retrieved in small numbers by volunteers, haulers would be unlikely to spot them mixed with other garbage. He said the company’s recyclable hauling contracts are limited to co-mingled materials and newspaper, so campaign signs would be unlikely to be mixed in.

But not all signs can be easily recycled.For example, campaign signs made of plastic slightly heavier and thicker than plastic garbage bags cannot be reclaimed by local facilities, Grow said. Neither can signs laminated with plastic, according to a Berks County recycler.

“Laminated with plastic is just basically junk,” said Bob Cougle, president of Cougle Recycling Inc., Hamburg.

However, Cougle said he rarely sees campaign materials at his recycling facility unless they are printer overruns of pamphlets or other election related material. Grow said residents should not place plastic signs in county recycling bins but encouraged ongoing recycling of cardboard and metal. He said the metal recyclables make the county $105 per ton and the cardboard $62.50 per ton. Grow also said landfills dislike dealing with the signs because they are caught up easily by gusts of wind.

A call the Commonwealth Environmental Systems landfill in Foster, Reilly and Frailey townships was not returned Thursday.

Sgt. Chris Blugis of state police at Frackville said no specifics in the state crime code dictate when signs must be taken down after an election.

“I’ve actually seen people taking them down right after election,” Trooper Alex Douglass said.He said that’s early compared to what he has seen in other elections.

Leslie Amoros, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of State, said no state election law governs when signs must be removed following an election, but said such regulations were usually part of local ordinances.

County election bureau director Betty Dries said she always encourages supporters and candidates to remove signs early but added that she had been unable to find any county ordinance that specified a time frame for removing them.“My theory is after election they’re litter,” Dries said.

County solicitor Paul Datte said he was unaware of any county rules on when campaign signs must be removed.“Normally you might see that on a local level. There may be some on a local level, but personally I’m not aware of any,” Datte said.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I SO Want This in My House!

I ran across an article about Vetrazzo in November's America Recycler.

When the City of Berkeley decommissioned traffic lights, they used the red lenses in a limited edition countertop.

Each countertop panel is made from 550 lbs. of crushed recycled glass from traffic lights, windshields and beverage bottles. The Millefiori pattern, pictured to the left, is made with salvaged glass from an art glassmaker, Millefiori.

In 2007, Vetrazzo transformed over 250 tons of recycled glass, including 125 tons not recyclable elsewhere, into beautiful, functional surface products.

Office Depot Celebrates America Recycles Day with Top Ten Ways to Recycle

Office Depot is celebrating "America Recycles Day" (November 15) this year by focusing on its growing array of "green" products and services, while offering customers more ways to recycle in the workplace.

Office Depot sells more than 3,500 products with recycled content and hundreds more featuring other environmental attributes. The Company also provides a wide-range of "green" solutions, including its new Tech Recycling Service and its signature Ink and Toner Cartridge Recycling and Battery/Cell Phone Recycling programs.

Office Depot has compiled a list of the top ten ways to recycle at home and in the office:

1. Buy recycled paper and print on both sides. When using paper in the office, print on both sides of the sheet and recycle the paper when you are finished. Today, only half of the paper used in North America is recycled. By recycling one ton of paper, you can save 17 trees, almost 7,000 gallons of water and more than three cubic yards of landfill space.

2. Recycle your outdated technology. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Americans throw out two million tons of e-waste each year. Avoid adding to that waste by recycling your old technology. Office Depot's Tech Recycling Service allows customers to recycle their "tech trash" at Office Depot stores nationwide for a small fee. For more information go to www.officedepot.com/techrecycling.

3. Make recycling bins readily available. Make sure your home and office are outfitted with recycling bins for paper, plastic and metal. Keep them out in the open and label them appropriately. Sometimes the convenience factor is all that is needed.

4. Recycle your empty ink and toner cartridges. Almost eight cartridges are thrown out in the U.S. every second of every day. That's almost 700,000 cartridges per day. Instead, recycle your ink and toner cartridges at Office Depot. For every eligible empty cartridge returned (up to 25), customers receive a $3 coupon.

5. Buy remanufactured ink and toner cartridges. Office Depot brand remanufactured cartridges cost on average 15% less than the national brand equivalent and come with a 100% no risk quality guarantee. Each remanufactured cartridge keeps approximately 2.5lbs of metal and plastic out of landfills and saves about a half gallon of oil.

6. Recycle old newspapers laying around the office. When finished reading the newspaper, either leave it for someone else to read or recycle it! It can take decades for newspapers to biodegrade when sent to landfills.

7. Look for the recycled option in all the products you buy. It's not just paper that is recycled! Now available at Office Depot stores and online at www.officedepot.com/buygreen are recycled packing peanuts, recycled scissors, recycled paper clips and much more.

8. Buy rechargeable batteries. It takes 1,000 regular batteries to equal the lifespan of one rechargeable battery. When you are discarding your batteries, recycle them (along with your cell phones) at a local Office Depot store.

9. Purchase rewritable CDs and DVDs so that you can reuse them from project to project. Instead of printing out a lengthy document, save it to an 8GB Ativa Flash Drive, which can hold approximately 320,000 pages!

10. Reuse your morning coffee cup. Or better yet buy a mug to avoid the waste caused by throwing away the paper or Styrofoam. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, it will take approximately one million years for Styrofoam to biodegrade.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Eco-Friendly Christmas Trees: Live Christmas Trees Versus Artificial Christmas Trees

One of the easiest ways you can start your eco-friendly Christmas is to choose the best Christmas tree. So which is more eco-friendly, the real Christmas tree or the artificial Christmas tree? A live Christmas tree.

First of all, live Christmas trees are grown right here in the United States. Most Christmas tree farms sell their tree locally to surround towns and cities.

Artificial Christmas trees are most commonly manufactured in China. The amount of pollution emitted into the environment to simply ship the artificial Christmas tree from China far outweighs the cost of transporting live Christmas tree on the environment.

Artificial trees are made from PVC, plastic, and other non biodegradable materials. The manufacturing and production of an artificial Christmas trees emits pollutants that are harmful and not eco-friendly. Artificial Christmas tree factories emit dioxins, a by product of PVC.

Finally, consider what happens to live Christmas trees versus artificial Christmas trees when that are disposed of. Live Christmas trees can be recycled into mulch and reintroduced into the earth as a nutrient. Artificial Christmas trees are not biodegradable and simply remain in land fills for undetermined amounts of time.

While you may not throw out your artificial Christmas tree every year, chances are you may update it about once a decade. In your adult life that means you may throw away as few as 6 to 8 artificial Christmas trees, which simple remain in land fills never biodegrading. In this same time with a live Christmas tree you will have recycled and reintroduced nutrients into the earth's soil on average 60 to 80 times. You do the math!

Information Provided by Associated Content

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Simon & Schuster Announces New Environmental Program

NEW YORK - Simon & Schuster has become the latest publisher to get greener, announcing "a new environmental initiative and paper policy that will dramatically increase the amount of recycled fiber in the paper used to manufacture its books."

"Simon & Schuster will endeavor to eliminate the use of paper that may contain fiber from endangered and old-growth forest areas," the publisher said Wednesday in a statement. "It has set a goal that by 2012 at least 10 percent of its purchased paper will derive from forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council."

Simon & Schuster's many authors include Stephen King, David McCullough and Bob Woodward.

Numerous publishers have launched environmental programs in recent years. In 2006, Random House Inc. announced a planned tenfold increase in its use of recycled paper. Last March, Scholastic Inc. said that it would work with the Rainforest Alliance, a conservation organization, on tightened environmental standards for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," the final book of J.K. Rowling's multimillion- selling series.

Simon & Schuster will be working with the Green Press Initiative, a nonprofit organization that has worked on other book projects, including a Bible published this fall by Thomas Nelson Inc. that uses only recycled and Forest Stewardship Council-approved paper.

Join the "Cell Phone Round-Up"

Join Keep America Beautiful (KAB), Sprint and ReCellular in recycling retired cell phones in celebration of America Recycles Day. Together, everyone can help recycle the 130 million cell phones sitting unused in drawers and closets across America. The Cell Phone Round-Up campaign will surround November 15, America Recycles Day.

The goal of the Round-Up is to raise awareness about cell phone recycling and collect retired cell phones to benefit KAB. Keep America Beautiful affiliates across the country will be leading local and regional events to promote the Round-Up, pass out postage-paid recycling envelopes, and collect retired cell phones. To support the Cell Phone Round-Up, at large, visit http://www.thecellphoneroundup.com/ to print a free postage-paid mailing label.

It’s estimated that there are tens of millions of phones currently unused, and the available supply of unwanted cell phones will continue to increase. The average consumer retires his or her cell phone approximately every 16 months. The Cell Phone Round-Up is a November promotion of Keep America Beautiful’s year-round “Wipe Out Wireless Waste” campaign, which is conducted with the support of Sprint and ReCellular.

For additional information about the Cell Phone Round-Up, please visit http://www.thecellphoneroundup.com/.

South Africa: Schools Set Guinness Record for Recycling

Schools in Gauteng and the Western Cape, in association with Collect-a-Can, MySchool and Pan Macmillan have achieved a new record for the most steel cans collected in one month for recycling. (Click here for full article.)

The event was attended by Guinness World Records adjudicator, Nadine Causey.

This successful record attempt was one of many attempts made internationally ahead of Guinness World Records Day 2007, on Thursday 8 November.

The schools achieved the following phenomenal results at each of Collect-a-Can's four plants: Vanderbijlpark 4836.5kg (154 957 cans); Aeroton 18836.5kg (603 259 cans); Pretoria 26293kg (843 926 cans) and Cape Town 11476kg (368 884 cans).

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Keep America Beautiful Cleans Up

Keep America Beautiful has tabulated the results of its annual nationwide cleanup effort that included more than 30,000 local events in some 17,000 communities in all 50 states.

The 2007 Great American Cleanup yielded 200 million pounds of litter and debris removed from the nation’s landscape and the remediation of 3,500 illegal dump sites. Participants cleaned more than 178,000 miles of roadway, 121,000 acres of parks and public land, 7,000 miles of rivers lakes and streams and 3,900 miles of hiking, biking and nature trails.

They also recycled 70.6 million plastic bottles, 2.2 million tires, 22.4 million pounds of aluminum and steel, 592,000 pounds of cell phones, 115,000 batteries, 23 million pounds of newspaper, 4.5 million pounds of clothing and 5.3 million pounds of electronic scrap.

Some 2.8 million volunteers logged more than 7.7 million hours from March 1 through May 31 during this year’s Great American Cleanup.

Recycling at Its Tastiest

Kentucky Bourbon barrels are something we give zero thought to, so we were pleased to learn that the folks who make Kentucky Bourbon are trying to be good stewards of the Earth by recycling the old wooden containers. Kentucky Barrels.com is marketing the oaken casks as rain barrels, to be used to collect runoff water, which is then recycled for gardening and other uses. They come complete with a downspout adapter on top and a brass faucet near the bottom. They seem a bit pricey at $125, but considering what they used to hold, we bet that water is mighty tasty.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Know What This Symbol Means?

I've seen this symbol on some cosmetic-type products lately and wondered what it meant.

The Green Dot is a recognized symbol indicating that a financial contribution has been paid to a national packaging recovery company, that has been set up in accordance with the principles defined in the European Directive for packaging waste and its national law. It is NOT a recycling symbol. Fillers, packers and importers are able to attach the Green Dot to all packaging, once the respective manufacturer has paid the licence fee. The fees in these countries are evaluated by the relevant licensor, according to the volume, material and weight of the packaging.

The Green Dot is not a recycling symbol, nor does it indicate that the the packaging is recyclable or made from recycled material.

Recycle Electronics at Office Depot

Office Depot recently launched a new, expanded version of its Tech Recycling Service, which covers the company's 1,100-plus stores in North America, and is designed to make it easy for customers to keep their potentially toxic gadgets from ending up in landfills.

The service originally launched in 2006, covering some 100 Office Depots in the U.S., and the company estimates that the program has already recycled more than 108,000 pounds of technology.

The Tech Recycling Service is in addition to the company's current recycling services, which include cell phones, rechargeable batteries and ink and toner cartridges. Office Depot is also one of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Plug-In To eCycling partners. Through this partnership, electronics manufacturers and retailers offer consumers more opportunities to reuse and recycle their used electronics.

Recycling is big, nothing new in television

Green is in, especially at the channels owned by NBC/Universal.

The channels go "green" with environment-themed storylines (and logos) during what it's calling "Green Is Universal" week. They include the title character of "Chuck" (Monday at 8 p.m., NBC/4) revisiting Stanford during its Green Festival, and Jack Donaghey (Alec Baldwin) creating an NBC mascot named Greenzo (played by David Schwimmer) on "30 Rock" (Thursday at 8:30 p.m., NBC/4).

While this effort is certainly laudable, TV's been down this Earth-friendly highway before. So let's pause for a moment here and salute these great eco-pioneers from TV's past.

"The Honeymooners" (1956) - RalphKramden (Jackie Gleason) goes to a Raccoon Lodge costume party dressed as the "man from space." Rather than wearing a wasteful plastic costume, he assembled his own from recycled household objects.

The Professor on "Gilligan's Island" (1964-67) - To regenerate electricity for the castaways' transistor radio, the island's resident brainiac designed a coconut shell battery recharger. He also designed a pedal-powered washing machine, water pump and sewing machine.

Fred Flintstone on "The Flintstones" (1960-66) - No fossil fuel? No problem. The Bedrock buffoon drove his vehicle, as the theme song noted, "through the courtesy of Fred's two feet."

"Brady Bunch" I (1971) - In an episode reflecting the early-'70s ecology movement, the Brady kids, along with Carol's women's group, try to prevent the city from building a courthouse that would destroy a local park ("Give trees a chance" read one picket sign).

"Brady Bunch" II (1972) - In this episode, aspiring songwriter Greg Brady penned the tree-hugging ode, "We Can Make the World a Whole Lot Brighter." Sample lyrics: "Come take a sign/and help us save the land/let's go out and try to make it better."


Santa Fe Recycle Market

I so must go to this fabu event: Santa Fe Recycle Market.

Bush’s Niece Endorses Plastic Bag Recycling

A City Council bill that would require supermarkets and other large retail stores to collect, transport and recycle the plastic carryout bags they give to customers received an endorsement today from an unusual source: Lauren Bush, a fashion model and a niece of President Bush.

Ms. Bush, 23, appeared at the Whole Foods Market in the Lower East Side this morning with the City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, who supports the legislation, which was introduced last week by Councilman Peter F. Vallone Jr., a Queens Democrat. At a news conference, Ms. Bush, who graduated from Princeton last year, said her interest in plastic bags began about four years ago, when she learned about their impact on the environment. Ms. Bush told reporters:

The average American uses between 300 and 700 bags a year. To give you a visual of that number, if everyone in the U.S. were to make a giant chain with their plastic bag, it would wrap around the earth 760 times. That’s just the American annual consumption of plastic bags. And on top of that, plastic bags don’t biodegrade. They only break down into tiny toxic little bits that pollute the soil and our waterways. This process is called photodegrade and it takes around 1,000 years for these bags to break down in our landfills. It is for these reasons that I support this legislation in City Council. I think it is important for New Yorkers to recycle plastic bags and buy reusable bags.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Bookstores to Highlight Recycled Paper Use

Nov. 1 -- Almost 400 book stores will begin highlighting magazines that use recycled paper through a new promotion.

Barnes and Noble as well as Hastings Books and Music stores will feature the "Green Paper for People and Planet" promotion that will include publications with at least 30-percent post-consumer recycled content.

"This promotion demonstrates that magazines are committed to the environment in a time where environmental issues are at the forefront," says Máire Walsh, director of client services at Next Steps Marketing, a company involved in the promotion.

"For the participating magazines, it can mean building awareness for their titles, increasing sale and market penetration," Walsh said.

Check Out MSN Green

MSN has launched a new environmental channel, MSN Green, supported content and feature-wise by Environmental Defense, Conservation International, National Geographic, and Grist, among others.

Not surprisingly, more aimed at informing green consumer behavior than policy advocacy. Plenty of interactive tools (you can even play along in a simulated carbon emissions "cap & trade" market), petitions to sign, HEAPS of environmental news articles, videos, green living advice (lots on driving green), etc.

"You Don’t Have to be White or Wealthy to Benefit from Going Green"

That quote is from Green For All, an important new campaign working to bring “green collar” jobs to urban areas.

Green for All has a simple but ambitious mission: to help build a green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty.

By advocating for a national commitment to job training, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities in the emerging green economy – especially for people from disadvantaged communities -- we fight both poverty and pollution at the same time.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

BP Stands for Big Payout!

BP America Inc. has agreed to pay more than $370 million in fines and restitution relating to three criminal matters involving environmental crimes and fraud.

As part of the agreement, BP will pay the largest fine ever imposed against a single entity for violating the Clean Air Act, $50 million.

The U.S. Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency and numerous other federal and state agencies held a news conference Oct. 25 to unveil the charges and plea agreements.

First, the Justice Department will file a plea agreement resolving charges stemming from a catastrophic explosion at the company´s Texas City Refinery in March 2005. The blast killed 15 workers and injured more than 170. The company agreed to plead guilty to a felony violation of the Clean Air Act and pay a criminal fine of $50 million.

In the second incident, BP Exploration Alaska Inc. agreed to plead guilty to violating a portion of the Clean Water Act stemming from a 2006 incident in which BP pipelines corroded and leaked more than 200,000 gallons of oil into the Alaska wilderness. As part of the plea agreement, BP will pay a $12 million fine to the EPA and give $4 million each to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the State of Alaska. BP ignored "many red flags and warning signs" that should have tipped off the company that its pipelines were badly corroded and that leaks were imminent, acting Attorney General Peter Keisler said.

The third criminal case against BP was filed in a federal court in Chicago and involves allegations the company conspired to violate the Commodity Exchange Act, and to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. Justice officials and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission said four BP employees schemed to manipulate the price of propane. The company agreed to pay a $100 million criminal penalty, a $125 million civil penalty, $53 million in restitution, and $25 million to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service Consumer Fraud Fund.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Designer Nick Graham Teams Up with Goodwill to Recycle Fashionably

Into this golden age of all things eco-friendly comes a quirky new fashion line called William Good.

Nick Graham, the eccentric San Francisco designer and founder of Joe Boxer, the company that gave boxer shorts personality, has teamed up with Goodwill to produce the line, which is made entirely from items from the discard bins.

Click here for more information on this fabulous fashionable project!

Handmade Newspaper Recycled Jewelry

This necklace is called Shattered Dreams and is made from losing lottery tickets!

Check our Handmade Newspaper Recycled Jewelry to see bracelets, brooches, earrings and cufflinks made of waste paper, including newspaper and sweetner packets. Fair warning: you may need to WIN a lottery to purchase some of these!

Now THIS is a TRASHformation!

A movie gallery of things being shredded. Very cool.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Even Ted Nugent is Recycling!

Join Crusade to Recycle, Reuse, Save Energy
By Ted Nugent, Texas Wildman

The hunting camp was alive with spirit and South Texas magic.

The hunt was in the air, visions of giant, mature whitetail beasts dancing in my giddy mind.

But there was something else in the air as well that fine December morning. The gagging stink of diesel fuel burned my nostrils.

The hunting operation was world-class; six matched long-bed, extended 4x4 pickup trucks with huge tires, state-of-the art radios, GPS, winches, roofracks and gunracks, spotlights, foglights and grill guards of the highest quality.

I suppose I was looking at more than $400,000 worth of hunting rigs before me. Quite impressive.

But as I have experienced throughout my dreamy history of hunting in Texas, during the entire hour-long breakfast, all six trucks were running, gushing fumes and gobbling raw crude for no good reason whatsoever.

We are talking more than an hour here, my friends, just sitting there, running.

I know Texans are a little tender when it comes to "cold" December mornings. But we Yankee MotorCity Michiganiacs do not consider 30 degrees to be that cold.

And it surely doesn't qualify as cold enough to waste all that fuel just so the big, tough hunters can be warm and cozy for the tortuous 20-minute ride to our cold deerblinds.

Tough it out

All the hunters were dressed warmly for the morning vigil anyway. A short ride in a cold truck should be no big deal. Oy!

Amazingly, this is seen all too often across the land. And not just at hunting camps.

Way too many people just let their vehicles run on and on. Add to that: In homes, every light and lamp left on. Heaters and air conditioners running full-bore. Even with no one around.
You start to get the picture that nobody gives a good damn about conserving energy around here.

Consider the habit of letting the water run unnecessarily, overrunning home appliances, tossing out half-eaten groceries and partially consumed bottles of water and various drinks. A pattern of overt waste takes shape.

Though these abuses appear minor on the surface, when added together they represent a lifestyle by far too many Americans of enormously wasteful resource mismanagement.

I hear a monstrous "ka-ching" going down the toilet here. For shame.

When we moved to Texas a few years ago, we were rather shocked at all the trash tossed into the garbage cans and headed to the landfill every week: plastic bottles, glass containers, cans, everything.

Back home in Michigan they have a soft-drink deposit system so that those gazillions of cans and bottles are recycled and never make their way to the dump.

Keep it out of ground

With the unprecedented volume of bottled water consumed these days, it should be a primary concern of all to demand a better way to recycle this toxic waste and keep it out of the ground.
Same goes for paper, cardboard and the various bubblewrap and Styrofoam packaging materials.

I feel so guilty about tossing out such waste that I tend to warehouse mass quantities until I find an outsource destination for its re-use. The Nugent family is on a crusade to prod all our family and friends to be more conservation-conscious.

If every family and business were to examine its resource use and waste procedures, we could all make a substantial upgrade for our precious environment and save money and natural resources.

Teaching and training our children to do so could make a huge difference in the future of the good Mother Earth. Why not?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Last Two Green Halloween Tips

Green Halloween Tip 7: Keep Halloween Clean
Teach your children to keep candy wrappers in their reusable trick-or-treat bags until they return home, or to dispose of them in trash cans along their route.

Preventing candy wrappers from becoming Halloween litter on the street is the right way to treat the environment. Take along an extra bag when you take the kids out treat-or-treating, and pick up litter along the way to help clean up the neighborhood.

Green Halloween Tip 8: Keep it Going
Living an eco-friendly lifestyle and reducing waste and pollution should be a daily event, not a special occasion. With a little thought, you can apply the strategies you use to have a green Halloween to the way you live every day.

Reusable bags are a great way to shop every day, and can be used for everything from regular trips to the grocery store to back-to-school shopping. Any time you go shopping, take along a reusable shopping bag or two to carry home your purchases and keep the planet a little cleaner.
The same goes for using cloth vs paper napkins and washable vs disposable cutlery. Using reusable items instead of disposables will help the environment and also save you money.

Composting is something you can do year-round. A compost bin will transform your organic yard and household waste into fertilizer for your flower and vegetable gardens, reduce the amount of garbage you send to the local landfill, and keep you more in tune with nature.

You get the idea. If you make living an eco-friendly lifestyle a daily commitment, both you and the environment will benefit.

To review all eight Green Halloween tips, click here.

More Green Halloween Tips

Green Halloween Tips 4,5 and 6

Green Halloween Tip 4: Walk, Don’t Drive
Rather than drive to other neighborhoods to take the kids trick-or-treating, stick close to home this Halloween and walk from house to house to reduce fuel consumption and air pollution.
If you are attending a Halloween party, use public transportation or ride your bicycle.
If traveling by car is really the only way to join in Halloween fun with your family or friends, try carpooling.

Green Halloween Tip 5: Make Your Halloween Party Eco-Friendly
Host a Halloween party that features organic, locally grown pumpkins for carving, apples for bobbing, and other pesticide-free, locally grown foods appropriate to the holiday and the harvest season. Organic produce is now widely available at many grocery stores as well as farmers’ markets and stores specializing in organic food.

Once the jack-o-lanterns have been carved and the games have ended, the apples and pumpkins can be used in pies, soups, or other dishes. You can also roast the pumpkin seeds and serve them to your guests as a special Halloween treat.

Use dishes, cutlery, napkins and tablecloths that can be washed and reused instead of disposable plastic and paper tableware.

Use recycled and recyclable materials to create your Halloween decorations. Bed sheets hung from the ceiling or tree branches make great ghosts, for example, and can be taken down, laundered, and returned to the linen closet when Halloween is over.

Green Halloween Tip 6: Reuse and Recycle
If you don’t already compost, Halloween is a great time to start. You can add post-Halloween jack-o-lanterns to your compost bin, along with fallen leaves, food scraps, and other organic, biodegradable yard and household waste.

Compost creates excellent soil for your garden. You might even use the compost from your backyard bin to help grow the pumpkins that will become next year’s jack-o-lanterns and pumpkin pies.

If you are interested in composting, your local hardware store, garden center, county extension service, or waste disposal agency should be able to help you get started.

Instead of throwing away your Halloween decorations each year, store and reuse them year after year, just as you do decorations for many other holidays, such as Christmas and Hanukkah.