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

Friday, December 12, 2008

Phone Book Dress

Check this out - this dress is made from the "white pages."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Wanna study up on how to stop getting phonebooks?

From our friends at Ideal Bite. Don't receive these? Sign up today at www.idealbite.com.

Don't cheat yourself or the forest.
Sign up and you'll never receive another paper phonebook. Taking notes?

The Benefits
More paper for textbooks. About 540 million unsolicited phonebooks arrive at American doors annually - takes a lotta trees to make those.

Majoring in waste reduction. Phonebooks make for about 660,000 tons of trash every year.

Extra credit: less annoyance. Just lugging phonebooks into the house when you know you'll never use them is a pain.

Wanna Try?
YellowPagesGoesGreen - enter your info here to get your name off the mailing list.
Earth 911 - recycle your old phonebooks (if you have curbside recycling, just toss them in there).

Thursday, November 20, 2008

During speech, Obama promises to tackle global warming

Waste News, Nov. 19 -- President-elect Barack Obama in a speech to more than 600 climate change leaders reiterated his promises to tackle global warming once he comes into office despite the economic challenges facing the nation.

"Few challenges facing America and the world are more urgent than combating climate change," Obama said in a video presentation to the Governors´ Global Climate Summit in Los Angeles organized by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. "Climate change and our dependence on foreign oil, if left unaddressed, will continue to weaken our economy and threaten our national security."

Obama in his Nov. 18 address pledged that once in office he plans to start tackling climate change by adopting a federal cap and trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. He also pledged to invest $15 billion annually to encourage private sector efforts to build solar, wind and biofuels energy projects.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Read Green: Go Green

From Budget Ecoist. I'm a big magazine fan, so I think I'll give it a try!

We all know how much online magazines rule. Some of the old guard still hang onto their “print only” mentality, but many more are getting with the green program. Zinio is helping the oldies come into the 21st century by creating the The Read Green Initiative wherein traditional print mags are made available online for your reading pleasure. What’s more, with the launch of Go Read Green, they’re offering a free subscription to anyone who shows up.

They’ve really got something for everyone, and all you have to do is provide an email address. No credit card, no “bill me later,” no other hijinks. Sign up, read your pub choice online or download it for later. Every month you’ll get a notification your issue is ready and you can enjoy your periodical on your PC (or Mac). And did we mention it's free? It doesn't get more cost effective than that, readers.

The interesting thing about this initiative is that instead of getting an online version of the magazine, you actually flip through the pages (ads and all) like it’s in your hot little hands. So you’re getting the full experience, minus the smudged ink left on your fingers. Head over to Go Read Green, browse the available titles and start saving the earth and the magazine industry today. God knows they both need it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What To Do With Campaign Litter

Now that the battle is over, what to do with the campaign-sign carcasses littering your lawn? The mini-billboards that were oh-so-relevant until yesterday are no more than a solid waste headache today. We love Grist's Three-R Rundown on cleaning up your patriotic mess. And our favorite school board candidate, Susie Dibble, had another great idea: donate old signs to a school art department; the students can use the back for art projects! (With smarts like that, you KNOW she won! Yay, Susie!)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

'Read, Respond, Recycle' Mail

Editor's Note: I'm SO glad to hear about this! Our box gets its share of junk mail, and the only option at the post office has been to trash it!

U.S. Postal Service Brings Paper Recycling to Post Office Lobbies

The "Three Rs" take on a more modern meaning today as the U.S. Postal Service makes it easier for Post Office box customers across the country to recycle their mail.

"Read, Respond, Recycle" is the banner under which the Postal Service will reach out to postal customers with a convenient, environmentally responsible alternative to bringing home or discarding their mail.

The Postal Service has a long and proud environmental record, and annually recycles more than 1 million tons of paper, plastic and other materials. The Post Office Box Lobby Recycling program launched here today builds on the tremendous success of similar programs that have been ongoing in the northeast part of the United States for more than 10 years.

The PO Box Lobby Recycling program places secure recycling bins in Post Office lobbies. All bins are locked with a key and the opening is slim -- about the width of a news magazine. PO Box customers are encouraged to remove and open their mail (read), take whatever action is necessary (respond) and simply place the rest of their mail into the bin (recycle).

This program has been thoroughly tested and presents no risk to mail security or customer privacy and does not effect postal operations or costs, according to Postmaster General John Potter.

"The message today is simple. Mail is recyclable," Potter said. "We are committed to helping consumers 'go green' through a comprehensive approach to mail production, delivery and recycling that helps create a sustainable future for generations to come."

Potter was joined at the event by U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis, chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, Postal Service and the District of Columbia.

"The lobby recycling program is an important milestone in our nation's turn to an environmentally responsible economy. The Postal Service has been a consistent leader in this effort since the days of Benjamin Franklin, our first Postmaster General. Through the use of alternative fuel vehicles and recycling programs, the USPS has continued that tradition," said Congressman Davis.

"By its sheer size and universal presence, postal initiatives have direct impact on the economy, the environment and public policy. It is my hope that through lobby recycling, Postmaster General Potter and the Postal Service are helping to set a standard for both the public and private sectors."

The Chicago launch officially opens the first of three phases of PO Box Lobby Recycling, adding 279 new sites to the more than 3,800 existing sites. The program will expand nationally in the future.

Mailers have responded favorably to the program as well. Earlier this month, Highlights for Children magazine announced it would use the "Read, Respond, Recycle" phrase on 6 million publications it will mail this year to help encourage young readers to recycle. Nationally, more than 35 percent of mail is recycled now.

Each year, the Postal Service purchases more than $200 million in products containing recycled content. Many of the containers that hold and move mail in the system are made from recycled materials, as are stamped envelopes, postcards, stamp booklet covers -- even the adhesive used in postage stamps is biodegradable. And the Postal Service is the only shipping company in the country to earn Cradle to Cradle(TM) certification for all Priority Mail and Express Mail packages and envelopes based on the environmental attributes of the materials used in the packaging.

A complete list of participating post offices can be found at Earth911.com, using the word "mail" in the search engine. The list is sorted by ZIP Code.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Green Halloween!

Great recycled-content costumes. Thanks for the link, Roxanne!

Friday, October 24, 2008

6 Ways to Save More Than $12,000 on Taxes in 2009

A look at the new renewable energy and energy efficient incentives for individuals
By Dan ShapleyGrist.org

It's been widely noted that the passage of the financial bailout bill included $150 billion in additional "sweeteners" to gain passage in the House of Representatives. It's true that only in Washington could the solution to an overly expensive bill be an even more expensive bill, but it's also true that one of the provisions - energy efficiency and renewable energy tax credits - was among the important sweeteners to win passage.

The tax bill is filled with important incentives that will keep the solar and wind power industries competitive, and that means they should continue to innovate, producing more power at ever more affordable prices. That's critical for the U.S., and the world, as we confront the challenge of global warming.

But what about homeowners and other regular taxpayers? There are several important provisions anyone can take advantage of:

1. $500 for energy efficiency

If you can, wait until Jan. 1 to install new insulation, energy-efficient windows or an energy-efficient furnace, boiler or air conditioner.

A tax credit of up to $500 that expired in 2007 has been renewed for 2009. It covers up to 10% of the cost of a range of projects that meet certain specifications. Do $5,000 worth of qualifying work, and you not only get a $500 rebate, but also savings on energy bills for years to come.
Why wait? Of course, the heating season begins before Jan. 1, giving homeowners facing a northern winter reason to invest now - but because Congress let the tax credit lapse, work done in 2008 doesn't qualify.

Also note these important limits, which cap the amount you can claim for any particular project:- Windows: $200- Exterior doors, roofing or insulation: $500- Most heating, ventilation and air-conditioning improvements: $300- Furnaces or hot water heaters: $150

Remember, your overall tax credit is capped at $500, so if you install $5,000 worth of exterior doors and $2,000 worth of new windows, for a total of $7,000, you can still only claim $500 - even though 10 percent of all qualifying work equals $700. Also, the tax credit applies only to equipment, not labor.

Find more information at the Alliance to Save Energy or Energy Star or Department of Energy Web sites. Note that much of this information reflects the tax incentives in place in 2006 and 2007; for the most part, the 2009 tax credits are identical, but updated criteria for which products qualify, for instance, will be published soon.

2. $2,000 for geothermal

The new tax breaks include a new incentive to install ground-source heat pumps, according to Ronnie Kweller, spokeswoman for the Alliance to Save Energy.

The old credits had been capped at $300 and were included under the overall energy efficiency improvement cap of $500. No longer. Now you can claim up to $2,000 of the cost of installing a geothermal heating and cooling system, and the cost is separated completely from other energy-efficiency improvements you might claim. Like the energy-efficient tax breaks, however, this incentives doesn't apply to work done in 2008.

Ground-source heat pumps are installed underground and use the constant 50-degree subsurface temperature to cool air or water in the summer, and heat it in the winter - both of which reduce the cost of heating or cooling year round.

3. $2,000 or more for solar power systems

The bill extends for another eight years a tax credit that covers 30 percent of the cost of new photovoltaic solar power systems on homes.

The existing tax credit, which was capped at $2,000, would have expired at the end of 2008. Now, it's good through 2016 - and there's no longer a dollar cap on the 30 percent rebate.

4. $500 or more for a fuel cell or microturbine

The tax incentive that had covered 30 percent of the cost of fuel cell or microturbine systems in homes, which lapsed in 2008, has been restored for 2009 and through 2016. It covers up to $500 per 0.5 kw of capacity.

5. $7,500 for plug-in hybrid cars

The first 250,000 buyers of plug-in hybrid vehicles now qualify for a $7,500 tax rebate.
similar tax credit for hybrid vehicles had been capped at $3,500.

6. Wildcard

Keep an eye out for new incentives from your state, since the bill also authorizes an $800 million government bond program that encourages states to create incentives for new and existing energy conservation and related programs. Some of that money is likely to be used toward state tax breaks and other incentives that will vary by location.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Green police: Recycling in the workplace

Editors Note: Chances are, you're probably a recycling police yourself. I'm the one in my circle!

Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle

You see them every day at work. They might be in the cubicle next to you or lurking near the waste cans in the copy room or the cafeteria.

They pull soda cans out of the trash and cast a critical eye at colleagues as they pull papers off the copier. Often their e-mail signatures read, "Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail."

They are the green police, and they are watching you.

And Karl Mockros is one of them.

Bending over a recycling bin in the copy room of his downtown office last month, Mockros let out a long sigh. He pulled out a plastic spoon and held it up.

"These can't be recycled," he said, sounding only mildly perturbed. He dropped the spoon into the wet trash bin and walked on.

As vice-president of Waste Management's Recycle America division, it's Mockros' job to think green. But for Mockros, recycling isn't merely a job. It's a lifestyle.

A year ago, he prompted the company to "walk the talk" and beef up the recycling efforts at corporate headquarters. Mockros' plan made it easy for his co-workers to recycle with a single bin to toss their cans, bottles and paper. How tough could it be?

The program, while successful, still has a few kinks, he said with a smile. There are some in the building that need an extra push. And Mockros is more than happy to provide it.

When co-workers forget their recycling manners during lunch meetings in the conference room, he speaks up. "I say, what are you doing? What is wrong with you? There are two containers here. Pick one," said Mockros, laughing.

A few blocks away at the Hilton Americas-Houston, John Kolata could be known as the "Green Marine."

As the hotel's executive steward, the former Marine certainly looks the part, with his strawberry blond flattop and a no-nonsense gait. His job is to ensure that the hotel's expansive kitchen is spic and span. But since April, he's also been the hotel's recycling czar.

"You give me something to do, and I'm going to toe the line," Kolata said.

Accordingly, Kolata approaches the operation like a military directive — structured, simple and strict. Leftovers are scraped into the green composting bin; soiled "wet trash" into the gray bins; plastic, aluminum and clean paper into the black bins. It's not easy. The staff is extremely busy serving thousands of meals each day.

Only two people hold the key to the large gates that guard the hotel's gargantuan composting bin. Kolata is one of them.

Keeping the 34-yard container on lockdown is necessary, not because of the foul smell, but "to keep people honest," Kolata said. He can't risk contaminating the compost if something other than food or waxed cardboard is tossed into it.

"We believe that 90 percent of what comes through the hotel can be recycled," he said.

Six months into the Hilton Americas-Houston ecotransformation, the hotel's staff of about 1,000 is on board. But Kolata still acts as the big baby sitter.

"You have to keep pounding it home, pounding it home, pounding it home," he said.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thanks a Latte

From Today's Daily Grist
Follow Up on October 8 Post

Starbucks addresses water wastage following tabloid indictment

As John Edwards says, never underestimate the power of a tabloid. Following the revelation in British rag-mag The Sun that constantly running dipper wells waste a humongous amount of water, a Starbucks spokesperson confirms, "Stores will be instructed to switch off the dipper well tap and will wash spoons after use."

And the plot thickens: According to PRWeek.com, a senior-level source at an unnamed PR agency claims, "We warned [Starbucks] several years ago that their usage of water was not good for their environmental credentials and could be a potential problem for them. They listened, but they didn't do anything about it."

Starbucks has tried to polish its green image, saying that by 2010 it wants to source 50 percent of its energy from renewables, use green-building practices in all new stores, and "reestablish" ceramic mugs as the "global standard" for in-store drinkers.

As for water use, Starbucks will continue to look into dipper-well alternatives, including those newfangled -- whaddayacallem? -- dishwashers.

Don't fear the bat, they could help you go green

Enjoyed a margarita lately? Thank a bat. Bats pollinate the agave plant that tequila is made from, as well as the avocados in that accompanying guacamole.

Closer to home, you can also thank bats for fewer mosquito bites: A single bat eats hundreds of flying insects per hour.

Most people only think of bats when they're hanging decorations at Halloween, and consider them dangerous vermin — an opinion based entirely on myths and misconceptions. Bats are not flying mice, they don't want to fly into your hair, and only three out of the over a thousand species worldwide drink blood. Statistically, you're less likely to die from rabies from a bat bite than to be killed by a dog attack — which is itself less likely than being killed by lightning.

Still, some think just being near a bat is dangerous.

"I know plenty of people who've injured themselves in panicked fleeing from a bat when the bat itself wouldn't have hurt them," says Merlin Tuttle, bat expert, author, and founder of Bat Conservation International.

For Leslie Sturges, every day is a bat day. She rehabilitates and releases injured and orphaned wild bats at Bat World NOVA rescue center in Annandale, and presents educational programs with a dozen long-term resident bats who can't be returned to the wild. What fascinates Sturges about bats is how they pack so much into such a tiny package.

"They have the kind of intellect, adaptations, social behaviors that you'd expect in a large mammal," she says. "And, on top of that, they fly!"

What's more, bats use echolocation — navigating by emitting high-frequency sounds and listening to the echoes that bounce back. They can locate an object as fine as a human hair in pitch darkness.

"What they're doing in that minuscule little brain case is so unique and incredible," says Sturges.

Bats can be great neighbors, as you can see in Austin, Texas, where Bat Conservation International is headquartered. A colony of 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats that roosts in the Congress Avenue Bridge has become a major attraction, bringing about 100,000 people each summer to watch the bats emerge — standing within 10 feet or so of them with no trouble, according to Tuttle.

In fact, we're more of a threat to them than they are to us. Like many animals, bats suffer from habitat loss due to human activity — and they're also threatened by our very fear of them.

"One of the biggest risks to bats is that people still panic at the sight of one and their first thought is to kill it," says Tuttle.

Bats are particularly vulnerable because of their unique biology. Unlike most mammals their size, they reproduce slowly — most species have only one young per year. And because they live in such large groups, it's easy to wipe out millions in a single act. Bats are also suffering from a mysterious new disease called White-nose Syndrome that's spread through the Northeast in the past two years, nearly wiping out affected colonies. Some have compared it to the more well-known colony collapse of honeybees, and BCI is sponsoring emergency research into its cause.

"Any time you start having mass dieoffs of animals as distantly related as bees and bats, it's time to sit up and take notice," says Tuttle.

On the bright side, bats' habit of living in enormous groups means that one act of conservation can also make a huge difference, as in BCI's purchase of Bracken Cave in central Texas, home to 20 million free-tailed bats. As well as preserving the site for the colony, BCI plans to build a center that will help to educate people about how valuable bats are — now more than ever, when everyone's thinking about going green and buying organic.

"Bats reduce pesticide use substantially," says Tuttle. Remember, he says: "Fewer bats, more pesticides."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Payless ShoeSource launches green footwear line

Oct. 13 -- Payless ShoeSource is out to make your feet green.

Not literally.

But the retailer says it is launching "the first-ever affordable green footwear line" that will feature sustainable and "eco-friendly" materials, including recycled soles. The company also will use what it calls "eco-smart" packaging.

The shoes will cost under $30 a pair, on average, Payless said.

"The sustainability movement is pervasive today and is touching so many elements of consumers´ daily lives and they are interested in more and more green product options being available to them," said Matt Rubel, CEO of Collective Brands Inc., parent company of Payless ShoeSource.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Packaging company makes 100% post-consumer bottle

Oct. 10 -- Rexam Prescription Products has become the first packaging company to develop and market a liquid prescription bottle made with 100% post-consumer plastic in the United States.

The polyethylene terephthalate ovals, which pharmacists fill with liquid mediation, will be available in November in sizes ranging from 2 to 16 ounces. They can be recycled repeatedly, said Pat O´Connell, vice president of sales for Rexam Prescription Products.

"Pharmacists and consumers have shown a preference for packaging using recycled material," O´Connell said. "This is another example of how we anticipate the needs of customers and create and deliver a full package solution that helps build their business."


Take a look at the sculpture created by Greg Fitzpatrick at last weekend's unearthed event at Saluda Shoals Park.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Drop in the Starbucket

Starbucks wastes some 6.2 million gallons of water each day through a health policy that requires a constantly running tap at each store, says a breathless indictment in British tabloid The Sun.

A Starbucks spokesperson confirms the use of a dipper well, which uses "a stream of continuous cold fresh-running water to rinse away food residue, help keep utensils clean, and prevent bacterial growth."

Dipper wells are common at coffee and ice-cream shops, but the gigantuousness of Starbucks' global operations is such that, according to the The Sun, the amount of wasted water could sate the thirst of "the entire 2 million-strong population of drought-hit Namibia ... or fill an Olympic pool every 83 minutes."

Starbucks says it is looking into alternatives, which water-efficiency experts say do exist.

"Leaving taps running all day is a shocking waste of precious water," says Peter Robinson of U.K. green group Waste Watch. "And to claim you are doing it for health and safety reasons is bonkers."

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Study Says Going Green to Yield a Bevy of Jobs

By H. Josef Hebert Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A major shift to renewable energy and efficiency is expected to produce 4.2 million new environmentally friendly "green" jobs over the next three decades, according to a study commissioned by the nation's mayors.

The study released last week by the U.S. Conference of Mayors says that about 750,000 people work today in what can be considered green jobs, from scientists and engineers researching alternative fuels to makers of wind turbines and more energy-efficient products.

But that's less than one-half of 1 percent of total employment. By 2038, another 4.2 million green jobs are expected to be added, accounting for 10 percent of new job growth over the next 30 years, according to the report by Global Insight.

However, the study cautioned such job growth won't be realized without an aggressive shift away from traditional fossil fuels toward alternative energy and a significant improvement in energy efficiency.

For example, it assumes that by 2038 alternative energy will account for 40 percent of electricity production, with half of that coming from wind and solar; widespread retrofitting of buildings to achieve a 35 percent reduction in electricity use; and 30 percent of motor fuels coming from ethanol or biodiesel.

Alternative energy, such as wind, geothermal, biomass and solar, currently accounts for less than 3 percent of electricity generation and nonfossil sources, such as ethanol and biodiesel, for about 5 percent of all motor fuels, the report notes.

Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, the conference's president, said the report makes "a very compelling economic argument for investing in the green economy and that we're going to get a huge return for it."

The report predicts the biggest job gain will be from the increased use of alternative transportation fuels, with 1.5 million additional jobs, followed by the renewable power generating sector, with 1.2 million new jobs.Another 81,000 additional jobs will be generated by industries related to making homes and commercial buildings more energy efficient, the study said.

And it predicted an additional 1.4 million green jobs related to engineering, research, consulting and legal work.

Snap Capps

Check these out. We bought one this weekend, but haven't tried it yet.

The Scrap Kins

A new website for kids called the Scrap Kins has just launched. It’s an innovative, fun site focused on getting kids to think about recycling via a cast of engaging, friendly monsters who live in a recycling center—the Scrap Kins. The Kins’ brainchild is illustrator and designer Brian Yinnish, who found inspiration for the characters from his own childhood drawings.

The Scrap Kins MissionFrom the website: The Scrap Kins are a group of creatures that live in a recycling center and build their world out of the things people throw away. The Scrap Kins mission is to foster eco-awareness, promote recycling and encourage kids to use their imagination. The Scrap Kin's Do-It-Yourself resourcefulness empowers children to create and make a difference in their environment.

The site features bios for each of the Scrap Kins, cartoons, a blog, green tips, and a shop offering kids clothing. The whole concept is a fun idea, and a fine way to get kids thinking about recycling in an entertaining manner. And the “U Do it” tagline is catchy, lighthearted, yet emphatic—perhaps kids can grow up with the empowering mantra in mind. Then, perhaps there'll be a better chance they'll do things like recycle their cell phones when they're older.

Going Green to Save the Economy: A Q&A with Thomas L. Friedman

By Steve Mirsky

Some politicians and pundits fear that addressing global warming will drain the U.S. economy and hurt the nation’s competitive edge. But going green and clean is the best way to remain an economic powerhouse, argues Thomas L. Friedman in his new book Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution—and How It Can Renew America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008). We asked Friedman, a New York Times op-ed columnist, to explain his thinking.

Click here for an extended version of this inteview

What do you mean by the title Hot, Flat, and Crowded?
It refers to the convergence of three big seismic events. The first is global warming. Second is what I call global flattening: the rise of middle classes all across the world that increasingly have the kind of energy and consumption patterns, demands and aspirations of Americans. Crowded refers to global population growth. These events are like three flames that have converged to create a really big fire, and this fire is boiling a whole set of problems.

You say that going green is a national security imperative and that green is the new red, white and blue. Can you explain that?
Clean power is going to be a source of power generally in the world—every bit as much as tanks, planes and nuclear missiles have been during the cold war. The country that takes the lead in clean power and clean tech is going to be an economic and strategic leader in the 21st century. If we take the lead in that in­dustry, we will be generating the kind of innovation, competitiveness, respect, security and breakthroughs to help the world. In so doing, we will make ourselves more respected, stronger, more secure, entrepreneurial, richer and competitive.

You argue for an overhaul of our energy system. Why is such a drastic measure needed?
If you don’t do things systematically, you end up doing corn ethanol in Iowa and thinking you solved the problem, when all you have done is drive up food prices and encourage more people to plant, say, palm oil in the Amazon. Right now we have a system. It is the dirty-fuel system. One mile from your house, you can probably find a gas station....One block, actually.Exactly, so this system works really well, and it gets that dirty fuel from the oil well to the tanker to the refinery to your neighborhood and into your car. Of course, we now know in doing that we are also despoiling the environment, strengthening petro dictatorships, driving biodiversity loss, et cetera. We have to replace that system with a clean-fuel system.

So what will we need to start changing the system?
Innovative breakthroughs that we just do not have right now. What we don’t have in energy today is a real market that would encourage 100,000 Manhattan Projects in 100,000 garages with 100,000 ideas.

How do you get to a market that rewards innovation?
You’ve got to shape it in two ways. One is with the right price signal. We have to have a tax on carbon that is long-term, fixed and durable. So those 100,000 inventors know if they do come up with that breakthrough, that if OPEC lowers the price of oil, it won’t knock them out of the game. And the second thing is to rewrite the rules around our utilities, as people started to do in California and Idaho. Specifically, the utilities have to be paid not for kilowatts sold but for watts saved.

But how could a politician running for election sell a new gas tax?
So let’s imagine you are in a campaign. Let’s imagine the discussion, and your opponent says, “There goes my opponent, Mr. Friedman. Another tax-and-spend liberal; now he’s for an energy tax. He’s never met a tax he didn’t like; now he wants to tax your gasoline more.” What I would say is, “Let’s get one thing straight. My opponent and I, we’re both for a tax. I just prefer my taxes should go to the U.S. Treasury, and he does not mind that his taxes go to the Saudi, Russian or Venezuelan treasuries. Let’s not fool ourselves that we’re not paying a tax here [with our existing energy system].” If you can’t win that debate, you don’t belong in politics.

So what can the average citizen do to help alleviate the problems brought on by a hot, flat and crowded planet?
My mantra has been, “Change your leaders, not your lightbulbs,” because leaders write the rules. The rules shape the market. The markets give you innovation at a speed, scope and scale that we need.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

KEYS to Recycling

Keys are metal too, but since they're so small and all, we usually overlook them. Our keys to long-demolished cars and old apartments still sit in the corners of our junk drawers, gathering dust. We're experts on recycling cans and electronics, but something as simple as a key? We're surprised we didn't think of it earlier. When, we came across Keys for Kindness while surfing the Web for new ways to recycle, an imaginary energy-saving lightbulb clicked on above our heads. Just like with your old CDs, send them in and they'll do the recycling for you. The program stemmed from a family member with multiple sclerosis. Looking for a way to raise money and recycle at the same time, they came up with this idea. They'll sell the metal and the money goes to charity. Think of all the good deeds you'll be doing if you recycled your keys -- helping the environment, de-cluttering your house and donating to a good cause.

Wal-Mart will slice use of plastic bags

Wal-Mart aims to cut plastic-bag waste in its global operations by an average 33 percent over the next five years, the retail behemoth announced last week at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative. And if you ever doubted that Wal-Mart is big, consider this: The move is expected to eliminate some 9 billion plastic bags each year, equating to more than 135 million pounds of trash by 2013. Wal-Mart will give out fewer bags, offer plastic-bag recycling, and encourage customers to use reusable totes (it will offer its own line of reusable bags for 50 cents each). In the words of one exec, the goal is to "encourage consumers to change their behavior, just one bag at a time." That appears to apply particularly to non-American consumers: The 33 percent average will be attained by cutting bag use 50 percent in international operations and 25 percent in the U.S.

LOVE these!

Created from repurposed vintage materials such as recycled cameras along with pool balls, souvenir salt and pepper shakers, vintage bakelite game pieces, and recycled buttons. See these and more at 1453 Design’s Etsy Shop.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hot, Flat and Crowded

I've traded in my light reading for Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution--and How It Can Renew America , the new release from economist Thomas Friedman. Not the easiest read - I'm only halfway through it - but very eye-opening!

A Great Alternative for All of Those Political Signs

Editor's Note: Don't know if your community is like mine, but the political signs litter the streets! Love this candidate who is recycling his signs!

Political Candidate Recycling Signs

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Decide What Gets In With Catalog Choice

Check it out. I joined today. You can select the catalogs you want to decline. Very cool.

Catalog Choice is a free service that allows you to decide what gets in your mailbox. Use it to reduce your mailbox clutter, while helping save natural resources. The mission of Catalog Choice is to reduce the number of repeat and unwanted catalog mailings, and to promote the adoption of sustainable industry best practices. We aim to accomplish this by freely providing the Catalog Choice services to both consumers and businesses. Consumers can indicate which catalogs they no longer wish to receive, and businesses can receive a list of consumers no longer wanting to receive their catalogs.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Finally, A CFL I Like

I have to admit that I've been slow to come around to CFLs. I know they're great for the environment and save energy, but I just haven't liked the light output.

Today, one of the bulbs in my bedroom blew out, so I decided to switch them out for CFLs, despite my lack of enthusiasm for the actual light.

I found a package of Sylvania Soft White micro-mini CFLS and bought them because they are "instant on;" they don't have to "warm up"like the ones we have in the kitchen.

Anyway, I LOVE THESE BULBS! I purchased the 13 watt version, which equals a 60-watt incandescent, and they are brighter than any 60-watt I've used. Here are the details. I recommend them highly, and I've been a tough sell!

The SYLVANIA ENERGY STAR®-qualified Micro-Mini Twist CFL is a bright idea to light your space, protect your wallet, and help save your planet.

30 Percent Smaller: The SYLVANIA Micro-Mini Twist is 30 percent smaller than a standard CFL, the new energy saver SYLVANIA micro-mini is the smallest CFL on the market and is designed to fit virtually any lamp to provide instant, beautiful light.

Reduce CO2 Emissions: If every household in America changed one bulb to a CFL, the reduction in CO2 emissions from power plants would be equivalent to taking one million cars off the road in a year.

Save Up To $56 on Your Electric Bill: The average home has 36 light bulbs. Changing just one, 60-watt (W) bulb to a 13W micro mini CFL will give you the same bright light and save you up to $56 on your electric bill over the life of the bulb. Change five bulbs and you’ll see almost $280 in savings.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Wondering what to do with all those plastic water bottles?

Get a little inspiration from Bucky Fuller and go geodesic, or dream of colder places, and make an igloo. A team consisting of Pam Longobardi, Craig Dongoski and Joe Peragine created the installation in Morningside’s Sunken Garden Park to “create discussion about littering, Atlanta’s drought situation and the need for recycling of plastics.” I haven’t walked by lately, but read that some of the structures were removed due to a runoff management project, which is rather ironic. Learn more about it here.

Friday, August 29, 2008


Star's tortoise in recycling rescue

Gavin And Stacey star Ruth Jones has thanked workers at a recycling plant for saving her pet tortoise after he turned up on a conveyor belt.

The 55-year-old reptile called Tom was apparently rescued with seconds to spare earlier this week at the Cardiff Council facility on Lamby Way.

He had already survived the rotating spikes section of the plant, designed to open the green bags, and travelled through a glass crusher.

He was then heading for a screen which sorts out large and heavy material from lighter items when an eagle-eyed council worker spotted him and shouted: "There's a tortoise on the line!"

Tom's epic journey began five weeks ago when he climbed into a recycling bag at the home Jones shares with her husband David in the Penylan area of the city.

In the meantime, the couple had erected posters around the city appealing for the return of their beloved pet as well as alerting Cardiff Council.

Plant worker Paul Cowling said: "It was a huge surprise to see a tortoise on the line, we get some incorrect materials coming through here, but it is the first time for a tortoise.

"Once Tom was taken off the line, he was washed, fed and given water and put in safe keeping until we found his owner. We are all pleased Tom survived and the fact that the tortoise belongs to Ruth Jones is something else."

Jones, who shot to fame playing the character Myfanwy in Little Britain, collected Tom on Wednesday.

She said: "I would like to thank all of the staff at the recycling depot at Lamby Way for saving Tom. We really thought we had lost him and the family is relieved to have him back home."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Art of Recycling

New Art Exhibit Promotes 'Fridge Recycling

Washington DC’s National Building Museum has a new exhibit with an old theme: obsolete refrigerators have been transformed into works of art that will be on display through September 2.

The exhibit is a promotion by the Department of Energy for its Recycle My Old Fridge campaign. There will be 50 decorated refrigerators on display, and visitors can vote on their top model. The winners will be announced on September 2.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

ConAgra Foods to use recycled content in meal trays

ConAgra Foods expects to eliminate 8 million pounds of plastic waste each year by using recycled content in its frozen meal trays.

The Omaha, Neb.-based food maker is now using between 30% and 40% post consumer recycled plastic in trays for Healthy Choice, Banquet, Kid Cuisine and Marie Callender’s brand frozen meals.

The company said it is the only in North America using post-consumer recycled plastic in frozen meal trays.

"Our commitment to innovation means we are looking at all aspects of our products as we consider new ways to improve them, including finding ways to be more environmentally responsible," said Gail Tavill, ConAgra Foods vice president of sustainability.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Now, If They Only Offer Recycling for Them...

Office Depot to offer own brand of CFLs in stores, online

Aug. 15 -- Office Depot Inc. has launched its own brand of compact fluorescent light bulbs, a first in the office products industry.

The Delray Beach, Fla.-based company will sell the CFLs at its retail stores nationwide and on its Web site. The offering is part of its Office Depot Green product line. CFLs use about 75 percent less energy and last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"Compact fluorescent lights represent a tremendous opportunity for Office Depot to serve our increasingly environmentally aware customer base," said Richard Diamond, vice president of merchandising.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Pizza Hut to offer organic twist, recycled packaging

Love pizza, but don't think it's good for you? Pizza Hut is now trying to appeal to the health conscious. The Dallas-based company plans to launch a new "all-natural" pie made with organic tomatoes, toppings made without artificial preservatives and a multigrain crust.

"While customers are increasingly seeking options for more natural foods, they still love pizza," said Brian Niccol, Pizza Hut's chief marketing officer. "That's why we're offering the natural. It allows us to stay on the cutting edge of food trends while delivering on the amazing Pizza Hut taste our customers expect and demand."

Even the boxes the pizzas are delivered in will be made from 75 percent recycled material.

The new pizzas will launch this summer in Tampa and Dallas, then be rolled out to a national audience.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

How Do You Accelerate?

From The Daily Grist:

New pedal from Nissan pushes back against excessive acceleration

Want to be an eco-driver but can't seem to keep the pedal off the metal? Meet Nissan Motor Co.'s ECO pedal, which pushes back against excess foot pressure to encourage fuel-efficient driving. The ECO accelerator will be installed in some Nissan cars starting next year and be accompanied by a real-time dashboard display of fuel consumption.

Nissan says the gadget could increase fuel efficiency 5 to 10 percent, and the device can easily be switched off by those who don't like Big Brother watching their lead foot. But the initial response from car enthusiasts is skepticism.

"This may be one of the worst ideas we've yet heard of," says car blog Jalopnik, noting concern about "what will happen when a driver needs to overtake another vehicle at high speed on a highway" and concluding, "This feature needs to die before it even hits the streets."

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Stupid Criminal Story

Dillon Co. suspect stuck under trash bin for hours

DILLON, SC (AP) - Authorities say a man who was trying to steal $10 worth of copper spent 12 hours stuck under a trash bin at a Dillon County landfill.

Deputies tell WBTW in Florence that 56-year-old Gibson Cook broke into the landfill Tuesday evening, then got stuck as he tried to crawl underneath the large container.

Landfill workers found Cook about 12 hours later with his legs sticking out from under the bin.

Emergency workers used air bags to lift the container and free Cook.

Employee Charlie Brown says the landfill has seen several thefts over the past six months but nothing like this.

Cook says "it was right disgusting" under the container.

Jail officials say Cook was waiting for a bond hearing. It was unclear if he had an attorney.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

For Some Really Edgy Stuff

Check Factory Green.

Here's one of my favorites!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Recycle Your Safety Footwear with Soles4Souls

Shoe charity offers new footwear recycle program direct from your facility

Soles4Souls(TM) Inc., the shoe charity, and Lehigh Safety Shoe Company, one of the largest and most respected safety footwear companies in the world, are teaming up to provide an easy way to trade in 'gently worn' safety shoes and boots to help people in need. Each pair of boots and shoes will go directly to a person in need while keeping the footwear out of American landfills.

"This is a unique way for hard-working Americans to reach out to other working men and women to provide a vital resource quickly," said Wayne Elsey, Founder and CEO of Soles4Souls Inc. "In order for this program to work well, we need safety directors, plant managers, and HR personnel from all industrial companies in the country to answer our call to action and join the Soles4Souls + Lehigh Trade-in Program," he said.

"We're excited to partner with Soles4Souls to implement a grassroots plan that will redirect our customers' gently used shoes and boots to people in need. Lehigh would like to see these shoes on people's feet rather than being dumped in a landfill," stated Richard Simms, Sr. Vice President and General Manager of Lehigh Safety Shoes.

Industrial companies currently hosting shoe fairs or shoemobile events at their plants can easily participate by signing up with Lehigh and Soles4Souls. Each participating location will receive donation boxes, brochures and advertising materials for the event, and PR coverage in their local market highlighting their company as a partner in the recycling program.

For more information or to sign up, visit www.giveshoes.org . You may also email Pattie Graben at pattieg@giveshoes.org or call (615) 391-5723.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Pearl Fryar's "Junque Art"

I took a trip to Bishopville, SC today to see Pearl Fryar's topiary gardens. Throughout the gardens, there were fabulous pieces he made from scrap metal - pieces he calls his "junque art." Check out "A Man Named Pearl." It'll blow you away. For now, check out these great pieces.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Walking Directions from Google

Google just announced a great new feature: walking directions to help you find the most direct and flat route from Point A to Point B! The function works for trips up to 6.2 miles long. Just in time for my upcoming trip to Pittsburgh.

Here's how it works:

Click get directions.
Enter your Point A and Point B.
Click "Get Directions."
When the directions come up, select walking.

Lint Busters: From Budget Ecoist

Using a clothes dryer isn't the greenest way to dry your laundry, but they haven't been phased out yet, and even with increased usage of clotheslines and drying racks, dryers are not going anywhere anytime soon.

So when you do use your dryer, and remove a fuzzy layer of lint from the catcher, can anything be done with this lint instead of throwing it away? The answer is yes, and not too surprisingly, many suggestions can be found on the Internet.

Some lint from natural fibers can be composted. But like dryers, synthetic fabrics aren't going to be phased out anytime soon. What to do with those?

As is often the case on the world wide interweb, some of the suggestions are dubious. Dryer lint is highly flammable, so one site recommends using it as a fire-starter for home fireplaces, charcoal grills, and campfires. However, burning bits of synthetic materials doesn't sound very friendly to the environment, so let's pass on that one. It's good to know that the lint is so flammable, though, so don't you crafty types go using it as stuffing for home-crafted toys, or batting for quilts!

Our clothes and our rugs are part of our lives, and life becomes art. You can donate one wash load's worth of lint to Pittsburgh artist Cheryl Capezzuti, including what you washed and what it means to you, and your donation will be transformed into a little figurine that will be sent back to you.

For crafty folks who prefer the do it yourself approach, lint can also be used in making clay, paper, and papier mache. Directions are here.

Friday, July 18, 2008

1-2-3-4, Do All You Can to Recycle More

Climate change no gangsta's paradise for this rapper
Coolio to educate students about global warming

Grammy-award-winning rapper Coolio is on a fantastic voyage ... to spread the word about climate change to historically black colleges and universities across the country. As an official spokesdude for the Environmental Justice and Climate Change campaign (a partnership with Gore's "we" campaign), he'll aim to engage students in the climate justice debate and educate them on why global warming is no gangsta's paradise.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Green Gaming

From The Budget Ecoist, one of our favorite new sites!

Tired of the same old video and computer games? Wanting to do something with your brain other than numb it? Hulalagirls.com just may be your answer. Hulalagirls.com allows you to play online games - starring princesses of the sea, earth and sky - that raise environmental awareness.

Hulalagirls is dedicated to conserving and protecting nature through their Hulala Naturality initiative, where they strive to balance conservation with good business practices. With a mission dedicated to helping kids learn from nature, who doesn't want to see this little gaming company that could, succeed.

The game revolves around the wonders of Mother Nature, along with her built-in laws for recycling and rebuilding. The creators of the game believe a greater awareness of the environment is the first step toward building a deeper understanding and respect for the environment. This foundation will instill strong eco-friendly values in our children.

A portion of profits from Hulalagirls is donated to programs and causes that are designed to educate and inspire young minds about Mother Nature's principles, laws and magic. They also pledge to support environmental efforts that are aligned with our values. As a first step, Hulalagirls has integrated resource conservation into their products and operations. For example, they eliminate superfluous product packaging and use safe, recycled packing materials.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cook Green with Emeril

Discovery’s new channel - Planet Green has been working hard to ensure a wide audience. The latest news from the eco-friendly station is the addition of a new cooking show starting Emeril. The show, Emeril Green, will introduce viewers to the world of healthy meals and fresh ingredients. It will be shot on location at Whole Foods stores around the country.

MLB pros parade the green carpet for All-Star Game

July 15 -- Major League Baseball dignitaries are walking the green carpet today in Manhattan as part of All-Star Game activities.

The carpet is actually red, stretches along 18 blocks of Sixth Avenue in Manhattan and is part of a parade featuring folks like Hank Aaron, Yogi Berra and Willie Mays.

But the 95,000-sq.-ft. carpet also is made from 100-percent recycled fiber, and all of the electricity used to make it came from renewable resources, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

That environmental group has teamed up with the baseball league on a variety of environmental initiatives.

"Major League Baseball takes great pride in showcasing these environmentally friendly practices on one of the biggest stages ever -- All-Star Week in New York City," said John McHale, executive vice president of administration for Major League Baseball. "With the guidance of our partners at the NRDC, these efforts surrounding the All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium are Major League Baseball´s grandest demonstration of our commitment to going green."

Global Warming May Raise Kidney Stone Cases

Editor's Note: As someone who suffers from these, THIS is serious business!

By Will Dunham
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - One more unwanted consequence of global warming may be an increase in cases of kidney stones in areas with rising temperatures, U.S. researchers said on Monday.

Kidney stones -- excruciatingly painful hard deposits of minerals and salts that can form in the kidneys -- tend to be more common in hot climates, with dehydration a key risk factor for the condition.

The researchers used two mathematical models linking temperature to kidney-stone risk in the United States, and found that regions where the condition now is most common will expand in coming decades due to predicted rising temperatures.

They forecast increases of up to 30 percent in kidney stone cases in some areas -- meaning millions more people would get the condition. The annual cost in the United States of treating kidney stone cases could increase by 2050 by about $1 billion per year -- 25 percent more than current levels, they added.

Kidney stones currently are most common in the southeastern United States, but this "kidney stone belt" is forecast to grow to the northward and westward, the researchers wrote in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Other parts of the globe could experience similar trends.

"There's every reason to anticipate that it would be happening worldwide," urologist Dr. Margaret Pearle of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, one of the researchers, said in a telephone interview.

Not drinking enough water and other fluids or losing too much fluids through dehydration -- more likely in hotter climates -- can leave one's urine with higher concentrations of substances that can form kidney stones.

This is just the latest negative health consequence to be predicted due to climate change. Others include an increase in the many diseases spread by mosquitoes and other insects.

In the United States, about 12 percent of men and 7 percent of women experience kidney stone disease at some time.

The fraction of the U.S. population living in high-risk zones for kidney stones could grow from 40 percent in 2000 to 56 percent by 2050 and to 70 percent by 2095 if temperatures rise as predicted, the researchers said.

One of the two models used by the researchers predicted increases by 2050 concentrated in California, Texas, Florida and the East coast. The other model predicted an expanded concentration of cases in a geographic band stretching from Kansas to Kentucky and northern California, they added.

Do Americans Know How to Go Green?

More than 90 percent of Americans are recycling — but fewer than 5 percent have taken recommended green actions such as driving less or reducing their utility use, according to a new Harris Poll on green living.

The poll — for which The Nature Conservancy provided input and advice — found that 53 percent of those surveyed have taken steps to green their lives.

But it also found a substantial lack of knowledge about how to go green — and skepticism about whether greening one's life makes a difference to the environment:
34 percent of those surveyed said they hadn’t changed their lifestyle because they “did not know what to do.”
29 percent of respondents believe that greening their lifestyle won’t make any significant difference on the environment.

“This poll shows that green living is certainly at the forefront of our minds,” says Stephanie Meeks, the Conservancy's acting president and CEO.

“Yet people are getting lost in the maze of information on how to lessen our environmental impact. The bottom line is that even the smallest lifestyle change can have significant impact in the long run.”

While recycling is widespread in the United States and 73 percent of those polled are paying their bills online to save paper, other often-recommended ways to green your life are going largely ignored:
5 percent are driving less by combining errands, walking more, etc.
4 percent have reduced their utility use.
3 percent have purchased hybrid cars.
3 percent have changed out incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescent ones.

Yet if every American home switched out just one incandescent light bulb for a compact fluorescent one, the United States would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for an entire year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy.

“Making small changes to help save the planet can help your pocketbook as well,” adds Meeks.

“In the case of compact fluorescent light bulbs, you’re paying more on the front end, but the cost savings in the long run will beat out the incandescent bulbs, hands down.”

Other poll results:
49 percent are trying to buy locally-produced food and/or goods.
47 percent are buying green household products.
39 percent are bringing their own reusable bags to stores instead of using paper or plastic.
16 percent are carpooling.

The poll also found noticeable optimism on environmental issues among the American public.

Seventy-two percent of the poll’s 2,605 respondents believe their personal actions are significant to the health of the environment.

And although only 42 percent of U.S. adults were initially familiar with the phrase “environmental sustainability,” two-thirds believe that it is possible to live in an environmentally sustainable way.

The phrase "environmental sustainability" was more familiar to younger poll respondents than older ones. More than 45 percent of those age 18-43 understood the term's meaning, while only 30 percent of those aged 63 and older knew the term.

To help cut through all the noise, The Nature Conservancy offers easy ways to make science-based green changes in your life:

Check out our Everyday Environmentalist home page to find a list of innovative and easy changes you can make to help save the planet.

Use the Conservancy's carbon footprint calculator to determine your carbon footprint — and find simple ways to reduce it.

Consider offsetting your carbon emissions by participating in The Conservancy's voluntary carbon offset program.

25 Reasons to Go Reuseable...

Go Reusable Bags!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sierra Club granting $1M to green homes for injured veterans

The Sierra Club Foundation will provide a grant of as much as $1 million over the next three years to help another nonprofit group incorporate green building practices into homes it constructs for severely injured veterans.

The money will be awarded to Homes for Our Troops, a charity that builds homes adapted for severely injured and disabled veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The money will pay for incorporating energy saving and green energy technologies, including geothermal heating systems and photovoltaic solar panels.

"We hope this project will demonstrate how easy it is to save energy at home," said Peter Martin, executive director of the Sierra Club Foundation. "We can lower our energy bills, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and create jobs in the green building sector at the same time."

The money can also be used to incorporate other green building practices and to participate in the Energy Star and LEED programs.

Information about the Homes for Our Troops organization that provides veterans with new homes or adapts existing homes is available at www.homesforourtroops.org.

Monday, July 7, 2008


Someone just brought me the coolest wine bottles - they have metallic monkeys embossed on the bottle! The bottles are clear - one has a bronze monkey, the other gold. I can't wait to make lamps from these!

Recycle Your CDs

CDs: You listen to them on your stereo, play them in your computer, or watch movies on them. And now you can recycle them!

“Each year over 30 billion CDs and DVDs are still being manufactured, while millions of unwanted, damaged and obsolete discs end up in landfills and incinerators every month,” states Bruce Bennett, founder of The Compact Disc Recycling Center of America. “It is important for those individuals or companies that use, sell, manufacture or promote compact discs to also responsibly promote how and where to recycle them.”

When compacts discs are placed in the trash, it is harmful to the environment. When discs are recycled properly, it will help stop unnecessary pollution, conserve natural resources, and slow global warming. The plastic used in compact discs can be recycled into other everyday items, including household products, building materials, and auto parts.

Adds Bennett,"I feel the main reason people are throwing out unwanted CDs and DVDs is that they simply don’t know what else to do with them. Now they can learn the importance of disc recycling, and also have a place to send them. They can send us one or one million discs and we’ll accept and recycle them.”

Bennett also notes that the Recycling Center will accept discs still in their original packaging. The center will separate and recycle any paper components of the package as well. The Center asks that new members place The CD Recycling Center logo on any new compact disc releases, thus promoting to the end user how and where to recycle the disc when they are finished using it.

How does it work? The Center asks that people visit their recycling website, http://cdrecyclingcenter.com/, and sign in as a supporter. They would then print out a mailing label and simply mail or ship their disc waste to the collection center. Once the center receives the discs to recycle, it will post on their website the receipt of the discs, and list that supporter as a official Registered Member of The Compact Disc Recycling Center that has actively recycled disc material. The center encourages members to use and promote The CD Recycling Center logo, which will help actively promote the awareness to recycle compact discs.

The Compact Disc Recycling Center was founded in 2006 by Bruce Bennett, owner of The American Duplication Supply Group, including Superdups, New England Compact Disc and American Duplication Supply. After manufacturing millions of discs for thousands of customers, Bennett decided it was equally important as a manufacturer to educate people on the importance of disc recycling. The Compact Disc Recycling Center provides consumers and companies education, consultation, awareness and options for easy CD and DVD recycling, with a location to send the discs to.

The website, www.cdrecyclingcenter.com offers a range of articles, research, products and profiles of their growing number of supporters and members, all to be applauded by the recycling conscious consumer.

TerraCycle Fashions a New Life for Old Wrappers

Is a tote bag forged from old CapriSun pouches fashionable? What about an umbrella constructed of used Chips Ahoy! wrappers?

Each year, billions of food and drink wrappers encasing popular brands end up in landfills because their multilayered materials -- which keep products fresh -- are tricky and expensive to break down and recycle. This waste has presented a challenge for manufacturers eager to reduce their environmental impact and buff reputations among eco-conscious consumers.

But that's changing due to an unusual alliance between a growing number of food and beverage bigwigs -- including Kraft Foods Inc., Kellogg Co., Clif Bar & Co. and Coca-Cola Co. -- and a tiny company in Trenton, N.J., named TerraCycle Inc.

In recent months, TerraCycle, which made its mark as a purveyor of fertilizer made from worm castings, has signed deals or is in talks with these and other companies to collect some of their packaging waste and sew, fuse or weave it into new products such as shower curtains, umbrellas, pencil cases, totes, lunchboxes and backpacks -- a process known as upcycling. Many of these items -- produced from old Oreo, Kool-Aid and Bear Naked granola packages among others, are now shipping to Target Corp., OfficeMax Inc. and Walgreen Co. stores or are part of discussions for future sale at retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Home Depot Inc.

And the small company stands to profit well beyond what it sells in stores. In some cases, manufacturers, including Kraft, say they will begin putting TerraCycle's logo on some of their products' packaging to encourage upcycling -- a move tantamount to free advertising on millions of items.

That a five-year-old company like TerraCycle knit together contracts with such heavy hitters so quickly underscores the entrepreneurial potential of locating an industry's Achilles' heel -- and figuring out how to mend it.

"Obviously, this isn't our core business of upcycling," says Jeff Chahley, senior director for sustainability at Kraft, which has signed a multiyear contract with TerraCycle for upward of $1 million. "We'd rather partner with folks who have figured this out...and [TerraCycle has] a nice, unique business model that we really liked. We'll work with them until they can't handle it anymore." Kraft's Nabisco business alone sells approximately 597 million packages annually, with Chips Ahoy! and Oreo packages making up about 60% of that total.

Over the years, as food makers moved to create lightweight packaging that used fewer raw materials, they embraced technology that fuses super-thin layers of plastics and other polymers to protect food from moisture, air and sunlight. But for recycling companies, which are often paid by the weight of their collection, it's difficult and not particularly cost-efficient to separate those fine layers for reuse.

A lighter wrapper is "environmentally good because it uses less material and less energy per package," says David Cornell, the technical director of the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers in Washington, D.C. "This is all fine and dandy until the package gets to the end of its life."

And that's where TerraCycle comes in.

The company has set up nearly 4,000 trash-collecting brigades across the country, mostly from schools, churches and other nonprofit groups. They are paid two cents per wrapper or pouch. TerraCycle covers the cost of collection, including shipping, by securing sponsorships from the various food manufacturers; typically $150,000 to $350,000 per year depending on how many brigades are sponsored. TerraCycle then sends the trash to its factories in Mexico to be refashioned into new products for retail.

"We want to lock up every waste stream," says Tom Szaky, the 26-year-old co-founder and chief executive of TerraCycle. "Then you own the infrastructure and create momentum."
In 2008, TerraCycle expects $8 million in revenue, with 20% to 30% coming from the upcycled products. In 2009, the company expects that percentage to double on revenue of $15 million.

Last year, TerraCycle had revenue of $3.5 million.

Keeping brigades operating seamlessly will be critical to Mr. Szaky's ambitions. The company needs a steady stream of waste to meet retailer orders, but without sponsorships, the brigades are too expensive.

TerraCycle recently suspended a similar cadre of bottle brigades for its fertilizer product, which the firm had funded on its own dime, until it can find a sponsor.

And because brigades are dependent on volunteers, collection can ebb and flow. "Drink pouches are a little bit slow," says Steve Krajewski who leads a new brigade for the Trevose United Methodist Church in Trevose, Pa. "Our members are drinking sodas." He estimates collecting about 200 CapriSun packages -- or $2 worth -- since starting the program. His two-year-old bottle brigade, by contrast, pulled in a couple hundred dollars in the past two years before TerraCycle put the program on hiatus.

Still, Mr. Krajewski says, "every bit counts, and we are trying to teach our kids that we live in a throw-away society."

To augment the brigades' efforts, TerraCycle also is collecting what's called postindustrial waste from many manufacturers -- which includes excess labels or packaging with misprints that never makes it to market. With Coca-Cola, for instance, the company is working to develop a line of products designed from reclaimed Coke billboards, misprinted labels and cans, and old glass bottles. It will then act as a licensee to sell the Coke-branded merchandise, according to Coca-Cola.

While it's too soon to determine how many consumers will plunk down cash for rebranded trash, retailers are banking on novelty and the green hook.

"What TerraCycle has done so well is they've created products that aren't boring," says Ryan Vero, chief merchandising officer at OfficeMax, which stocks TerraCycle's CapriSun and Kool-Aid binders and pencil pouches and has ordered computer bags for the fall. "That's cool for back to school. We even have executives carrying them around this building."

Mr. Szaky believes the story behind his upcycled products will help them compete.

"We're able to retail at the store for the same price as a normal Hanna Montana backpack," he says. "Except ours is made from garbage collected by American kids. And each pouch represents a little donation. And parents are captured by this."

Friday, July 4, 2008

Slow Down and Green Up

by Susan Donohoe (Friday, July 4, 2008)

If you're looking to live a simpler life, then next week is for you! U.S. National Downshifting Week is a way to care for the environment and focus on the things that really matter. Embrace your inner Thoreau.

Are you familiar with U.S. National Downshifting Week? Well let me tell you all about it.

It’s a voluntary simplicity awareness campaign sponsored by the non-profit organization Conscious Consuming. U.S. National Downshifting Week builds on the work of Tracey Smith, the founder of National Downshifting Week in the UK. U.S. National Downshifting week is scheduled for next week – July 7-13, 2007 – and is designed to help participants "Slow Down and Green Up."

As you may know, downshifting involves cutting out unnecessary expenditures, cultivating a simpler lifestyle (thus leaving a lighter environmental footprint), and making more time for the things you want to do. Data from the mid-90's from the Trends Research Institute shows that about 10% of Americans identify with downshifting, voluntary simplicity, and simple living. Duane Elgin, author of several books on voluntary simplicity, calls this a "conservative estimate."

Many Americans are cutting back consumption this year due to higher food, health care, and fuel prices. The freefall in the housing market has also been a factor in reducing consumption, as home equity credit tightens and people feel a loss in their net wealth. Instead of feeling down about buying less stuff, many Americans celebrate their decision to downshift.

Smith says, "A positive approach to living with less helps you re-think ways to enjoy time with your loved ones without reaching for your wallet."

The dates for National Downshifting Week (July 7-13th) were chosen to coincide with the birthday of America's most famous downshifter, Henry David Thoreau (born July 12, 1817).

"Modern downshifters don't have to move into a cabin in the woods to simplify their lives. Happiness depends on knowing when you have enough, and finding ways to do the things you love to do without spending a ton of money," says Susan Donohoe, of Conscious Consuming.

"Downshifters can live deliberately, leave a lighter footprint on the earth, and have even more time with their families and friends."

To learn more and to see how you can celebrate Downshifting Week, visit their Web site.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Crazy Crayons

Check it out - Crazy Crayons! You can buy neat shaped recycled crayons and/or donate old, brioken ones. LOVE IT!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Go Green on a Budget

GREAT new site: The Budget Ecoist!

The Budget Ecoist helps you go green on a budget. Check out tips for recycling and reusing everyday items, reviews of eco-friendly products, and share your tips in our green chat.

Attitude Angels - Buy Now and Save

These three-inch angels, made from recycled soda cans, are perfect gifts for co-workers, volunteers, green friends and YOU!

Besides being recycled and affordable, the angels impact the Zulu students who made them, providing them with food, clothes, education and a sense of pride and self-worth.

These limited edition ornaments will be available while supplies last; they sell quickly, and we're not guaranteed to get more between now and Christmas. Now through July 15, we're offering them to TRASHformations Blog readers for $4 each, twenty percent off regular price. Click here for more info and/or to place an order.

Egg on Your Floor

by Sam Davidson Tuesday, July 1, 2008
From Cool People Care

We all want to increase the miles-per-gallon of our vehicle, both as a cost savings measure and as a way to reduce carbon emissions. And while carpooling or biking is your best bet, you can also gradually accelerate after stopping to get more out of each tank of gas. "Jackrabbit" starts and stops use more gasoline than easing into forward motion does. So, the next time you're taking off, imagine there's an egg under your gas pedal and softly press down in order to speed up. Taking it easy (and carefully) is better for the environment (and your safety).

That Holds No Water

Mayors resolve to phase out city spending on bottled water

The U.S. Conference of Mayors passed a resolution last week to phase out city spending on bottled water.

"Cities are sending the wrong message about the quality of public water when we spend taxpayer dollars on water in disposable containers from a private corporation," said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, adding, "The fact is, our tap water is more highly regulated than what's in the bottle."

Millions of barrels of oil go into plastic-bottle manufacturing, and cities spend some $70 million annually on bottle disposal. Though the new resolution is not binding, it received strong support, and more than 60 mayors across the country have already canceled bottled-water contracts. The American Beverage Association is entirely unamused by the trend.

"We believe that common sense will prevail when mayors return to their communities," says the ABA's Kevin Keane, "as most recognize more pressing challenges are facing their communities than concerns about a healthy water beverage."

Friday, June 27, 2008

Recycle your CFLS for free

The Home Depot has expanded its in-store compact fluorescent light bulb recycling program at locations nationwide.

Customers can bring any expired, unbroken compact fluorescent light bulb to the returns desk at any one of the more than 1,900 locations.

The energy-efficient bulbs contain a small amount of mercury and, if tossed in the garbage, the mercury can be released into the air or groundwater.

The recycling program is an extension of the company’s Eco Options program, a classification system that allows customers to easily identify products that have less of an environmental impact.

According to the retailer, 75 percent of households live within 10 miles of a Home Depot location making the program the first national solution to CFL recycling.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

We Add Up!

WE ADD UP is a global campaign using organic cotton t-shirts that literally “counts you in” in the fight against global warming.

Every shirt is printed by hand with a unique number. YOUR number represents your place in the sequential global count of all the people who are taking steps to help stop climate change. As the count grows, we demonstrate to the world that “WE ADD UP.”

On the back of each shirt is a word or phrase that describes an action almost anyone can take to reduce their carbon footprint - the contribution their lifestyle makes to greenhouse gases - such as, Unplug, Lights Off, Carpool, Hybrid, Bike, Buy Local, and 18 others. You choose which action you are committed to doing and get counted in. No one can do everything. Everyone can do something. And, WE ADD UP.

The goal is to get millions of people around the world counted in and committed to helping stop global warming. With our combined effort, we can create a healthy, thriving world for generations to come. So, get counted in. Because you + everyone else = change.