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

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.