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

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Piggy Tales Introduces Green Scrapbooking

Waste News, Jan. 31 -- A company that makes scrapbook supplies says it´s becoming the first major manufacturer in its field to print its entire collection on certified recycled paper.

Las Vegas-based Piggy Tales said many scrapbook companies do not use recycled paper because it can be difficult to maintain vibrant colors and creative designs using that type of paper.

"For an industry that is made up of more than 70 percent paper products, going ´green´ with our paper seemed like a logical and responsible step," said Debbie Juden, CEO of Piggy Tales.

Converting to recycled paper will save more than 100 trees a year, Juden said.

Secret Life Series Targets Cellphones

Environmental education group INFORM, Inc. (New York) recently launched its Secret Life series, which looks at the environmental impacts of everyday items and technology. The group has released the first installment, The Secret Life of Cellphones, with information for consumers on how to go about recycling or selling their mobile phones. Tres cool.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

HP Finds New Way to Recycle Old Plastic

By Matt Neznanski, Gazette-Times (Corvallis, Oregon)

Hewlett-Packard today announced yet another use for those leftover plastic water bottles: new inkjet cartridges.

After five years of development, the recycled plastic now comprises between 70 to 100 percent of the total material in new cartridges.

“It really has been able to allow us to develop a closed-loop system,” said Ken Fleming, director of HP’s North American Supplies Marketing.

More than 200 million cartridges have been manufactured using the process. Last year, HP used more than 5 million pounds of recycled plastic in its inkjet cartridges. The company hopes to double that amount this year.

Corvallis engineers played a significant role in the company’s five-year process of bringing the recycled material into manufacturing plants. The company’s environmental policy and strategy program is based here. “Environmental stewards” are assigned to every design team. Their goal: find ways to reduce environmental impact throughout a product’s life cycle.

“A lot of the heavy lifting in terms of product management was done here in Corvallis,” said Scott Canonico, manager of the company’s environmental program.

The newly-announced proprietary process involves more than just refilling old inkjet containers with ink. It is a new way to combine different types of plastics — from water bottles to used inkjet cartridges — into a stable, reliable kind of plastic that is suitable for a number of technical applications.

That’s not easy, Canonico said.

For one thing, the material has to be predictable under a range of conditions, including how it reacts to heat and chemicals and what mechanical stress it will endure.

Because HP engineers now understand the characteristics of the recycled plastic, and how it will react in various situations, Canonico said that the material has the potential to be a “drop-in” solution for future products from the company. It already is being used in parts for one of the company’s scanners, for instance.

HP has collected used laser printer cartridges for recycling since 1991 and inkjet cartridges since 1997. The company has recycled more than 1 billion pounds of hardware and printer waste worldwide since collection efforts began.

Read More

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Funky New Bottles as Innocent Delivers on Recycling Promise

I think this is a British product, but I LOVED reading about it!

If you're a big smoothie fan, you'll be pleased to hear that innocent will be selling all of its smoothies in 100% recycled bottles as of next week. This follows an initial trial back in September 2007 when innocent became the first ever drinks company in the world to put 100% recycled PET packaging on the shelf.

You'll know you've got a bit of recycling history in your hand, as innocent’s logo will be changing colour and shape to resemble the well known green recycling symbol. The limited edition label will be turning shop shelves green for the last two weeks of February. The new bottles are fully recyclable at the end of life, and use 20% less plastic overall than innocent’s original packaging. In addition to using no virgin materials at all, the move will see a dramatic 55% reduction in the carbon footprint of the packaging. Way to go innocent!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Wal-Mart CEO Outlines Lofty Green Goals

From the Daily Grist:

Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott made a big ol' speech this week spelling out ambitious social, health, and environmental goals for the retail behemoth. Wal-Mart will work with other retailers to boost industry-wide green standards, said Scott, and, within five years, Wal-Mart suppliers will be required to meet stringent environmental standards -- and may even be paid more to do so. The company wants to double its sales of merchandise that help consumers improve home energy efficiency, is in talks with automakers about selling electric or hybrid cars, and could even set up windmills or solar panels in its parking lots to allow customers to recharge with renewable energy.

"It's a good vision," says Gwen Ruta of green group Environmental Defense. "Now we need to make it a reality."

Wal-Mart has been pushing green goals since 2005; it's planning to open energy-efficient stores and has to date sold 145 million compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Turning a New Leaf at Superbowl XLII

Jan. 22 -- Thousands of trees are being planted by the National Football League and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to help reduce the carbon footprint of the upcoming Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Ariz.

Forty-two trees are being planted this week at schools, and thousands of others are being planted on 84 acres of Arizona forest that burned during a fire.

"This urban forestry project is part of what will be the greenest Super Bowl ever," said ADEQ Director Steve Owens.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Great Recycled Art

Here are some great links featuring recycled sculpture - very cool! I must have a bathroom couch!

Sculpture by Tony Cragg

Trash Luxe

Bathtub Couch

Friday, January 18, 2008

Cleaning House

From Gristmill:

The Hill's alive with the sound of greening. Or at least, it should be, as soon as our representatives start following through with their "Green the Capitol" initiative, the final report on which was released yesterday in Washington, D.C.

The report is the result of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's call for an energy audit of the Capitol complex four months ago, right after she first assumed her new post. Yesterday's report presents the findings of the audit as well as a comprehensive plan to improve the green cred of the Hill.

It includes directives to start purchasing electricity generated from renewable sources, install more-efficient lighting, cut out the coal used at the power plant that provides energy for the Hill, and transition to hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles for all government automobiles. Over the next 18 months, they plan to make U.S. Capitol and congressional office buildings "carbon neutral," and over the next ten years, they plan to cut the House's energy use in half.

Last year, the House of Representatives alone was responsible for 91,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. If they follow through with all the plans, they could cut their emissions by two-thirds, and would offset all the rest. They're putting a nice chuck of change behind the greening efforts -- $95,000 for the carbon offsets, $520,000 for renewable energy, and $2.75 million to update the power plant -- but I guess those figures pale in comparison to things like, say ... the defense budget.

"Global warming and climate change are formidable issues that the entire world is confronting, and the United States Congress must lead by example," said Pelosi in statement issued yesterday morning. "This plan is an essential first step, because it not only will make the House a better place to work and live near, but it will also make our institution a model -- one that cares about what kind of planet our children will inherit."

Check out the full report here (PDF).

Global Warming Protest Frosted with Snow

There's just too much irony in this not to post! Thanks to Christian for the great submission!

Absolute Climate Change Coming to the U.S.

Jan. 17 -- Absolut Vodka is kicking off its first-ever U.S. national sales and marketing platform, and is doing so to help address the climate change crisis.

The Swedish spirit company is joining with Live Earth to launch its Absolut Global Cooling advertising effort to encourage consumers to take simple steps to reduce the effects of global warming. The partnership with Live Earth is built on the Live Earth Film Series, which includes 60 educational short films, and represents a multi-year, multi-million commitment from Absolut. The campaign will include promotions at bars, nightclubs and retailers, along with film festivals and private events.

"Absolut boldly embraces finding a solution to the climate crisis by inspiring consumers and the hospitality industry to move from thought to action," said Ian Crystal, brand director for Absolut Vodka.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Politics of Global Warming

From Waste News.com Daily E-mail:

Predicting what will happen in 2008 is actually pretty easy. At the end of the year, a new president will be loading up the truck and moving to D.C. And the global warming threat won't disappear with the dawn of a sunny new day.

So with that foundation, here's what might just happen:

Rudy Giuliani takes the offensive on the climate change issue and declares himself "The Mayor of Global Warming."

Hillary Rodham Clinton declares she'll reduce gas consumption by cutting out husband Bill's speaking engagements and make him a stay-at-home First Guy.

Barack Obama names Oprah as his running mate. To combat greenhouse gases, Oprah develops "The Global Warming Diet."

Mitt Romney evokes the memory of former President John F. Kennedy. "He was the first Catholic president, and he got this country to the moon in 10 years. I'm going to be the first Mormon president, and put an end to global warming."

Mike Huckabee continues to exclaim that we are God's guests on this planet, so we have a responsibility to take care of it. He also says he was Jay Leno's guest on the "Tonight Show," so he had a responsibility to cross the striking writers' picket line.

Clinton says: "JFK broke barriers when he became the first Catholic president, and he landed us on the moon within the decade. I'll break the barriers for women and global warming."

Dennis Kucinich and his new running mate, U2's Bono, propose a plan to capture all the world's greenhouse gases and convert them into peace on earth and food for Africa.

Realizing they're far more popular than the rest of the political field, Bono and Oprah form their own ticket for president.

Obama makes the Kennedy comparison. "He proved we could elect a Catholic president and travel to another planet within a short time. I'll prove you can elect an African-American and save this planet from global warming."

Kennedy sends a message from beyond, through John Edward (the psychic, not the candidate): "Global warming is a hoax, and so were the moon landings! Now stop using me for personal political gain!"

One of the above people gets elected, and the global warming issue gets some serious talk -- and an indistinct, backburner plan.

I'm thinking the last one is the best bet.

Allan Gerlat is editor of Waste News. Past installments of this column are collected in the Inbox archive.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Venti Your Frustration

Starbucks will cease offering organic milk to its coffee-quaffing customers at the end of February. The company has offered organic cow juice since 2001 at an extra charge, but "orders of drinks made with organic milk have consistently been a small percentage of total orders," according to a spokesperson. The chain has stopped using milk from cows shot up with artificial growth hormone; says a Starbucks memo to employees, "If a customer requests organic milk, let them know that our milk is now rBGH-free." Organic milk is also rBGH-free, but additionally requires that cows have access to pasture and eat pesticide-free feed.

Classroom-Based Recycling Program First of its Kind

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Jan. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Schools nationwide can save glue bottles, glue sticks and ultimately the planet one orange cap at a time. Elmer's(R) Products, Inc., an industry leader in adhesives, arts and crafts, office and educational products, announced today the launch of a school-based glue bottle and glue stick recycling program.

"More than 40 million students use Elmer's glue and glue sticks annually," said Terri Brown, Elmer's marketing services and communications manager. "By recycling Elmer's, the #1 brand of school glue, teachers and students can take pride in improving their communities. To provide teachers with all the tools to execute recycling, we have developed a classroom program with online support to keep students engaged and excited about the recycling project."

The Elmer's Glue Crew Recycling Program combines Elmer's expertise in education and creativity with its commitment to sustainable practices. Throughout the school year, participating classrooms collect empty glue bottles and glue sticks to be recycled. To reduce the environmental impact, teachers and students are encouraged to creatively use empty boxes in the classroom as collection boxes. Once a box is full, teachers simply seal it, label it as instructed, take it to the nearest Wal-Mart(R) store and drop it off to the store greeter between Earth Day, April 22, 2008, through the end of the school year.

Teachers can visit the Elmer's Glue Crew Recycling Program Web site, http://www.elmersgluecrew.com/ to join or learn more about the program- teachers are eligible to participate at no cost. Participating teachers can use the site to find additional resources and instructional materials to help implement the program and reinforce the importance of being environmentally conscious in their classrooms. Teachers can download classroom projects that promote education and creativity and support efforts that reduce, reuse and recycle. Teachers are also encouraged to refer a colleague and submit lesson plans, projects or anything else that shows a classroom commitment to recycling for a chance to win prizes.

"Because our products have been in classrooms for more than 60 years, it's our duty to make sure that teachers and students have the best place to create, build and learn," said Brown. "With this program teachers can take advantage of our tools to make their students lifelong recyclers. Our program makes recycling incredibly easy for teachers."

A survey commissioned for the Elmer's teacher's club found that most classrooms were recycling newspaper and aluminum. Of the teachers surveyed,97 percent wanted to recycle glue bottles and glue sticks. Furthermore, teachers said they were using 40 to 60 glue bottles per year in their classroom.

"In my classroom we're creating projects that use glue on a daily basis and consequently create a lot of waste," said Ricki Rosen, art teacher at Pickerington Elementary in Pickerington, Ohio. "We're excited to have the resources to recycle our excess materials and incorporate recycling into our projects."

To join the Elmer's Glue Crew Recycling Program or learn more about the program visit http://www.elmersgluecrew.com/.

Green Conversations!

By JOHN DRAKE, Boston Globe

Even the New England Confectionery Co. is jumping on the environmental bandwagon, going green with its pastel-colored Valentine's Day hearts.

In a marketing nod to eco-trendiness, the Revere company yesterday released a list of 10 new sayings with a whimsical nature theme that will appear on its Sweethearts Conversation Hearts this year.

Gift-givers can implore their lovers to "Chill Out," ask if they're "In A Fog," transport them to "Cloud Nine," and grant them a little "Sun Shine."

"It's not a political statement," said Necco's marketing manager Lory Zimbalatti. "It's just concern for the environment."

Other new sayings are "Wild Life," "Nature Lover," "Do Good," "Melt My Heart," "Get My Drift," and "Heat Wave."

The firm has been printing flirty messages on the sweets since the 1860s.

Unlike 2004, when the company Necco ventured into trendy terminology with the introduction of "IM Me," this year's crop seems to include more "classic slang" with a broader appeal, suggested said Boston College marketing expert specialist Kathleen Seiders.

"I mean, 'Heat Wave?' Wasn't that Martha and the Vandellas?" she said, referring to the 1960s Motown group that released the song "(Love is Like a) Heat Wave."

"That's going to reach a very broad-based market, which I'm sure is their intention."

Now, That’s Hot! Human Body Heat to Warm Office Complex in Sweden

From Larry West,Your Guide to Environmental Issues.

People in Sweden know about body heat. How do you think they get through those long, cold Scandinavian winters? But now a Swedish company has come up with a really hot idea: a simple yet innovative plan to use human body heat as a source of renewable energy.

Every day, some 250,000 people pass through Stockholm Central Station, the largest train station in Sweden. They rush to catch trains or subways, or simply stroll along shopping at some of the many stores and shops inside the station.

With every step, those people generate body heat, and the Swedes are tired of letting it all go to waste.

Turning Body Heat Into Renewable Energy
Jernhuset, a state-owned property administration company, plans to use the body heat from the millions of people who visit Stockholm Central Station each year to heat an office building, small hotel and several shops in a new complex being built near the station.

"So many people go through the Central Station ... We want to harness some of the warmth they produce to help heat the new building," said Karl Sundholm, project leader for Jernhuset in an interview with AFP.

A New Use for Old Technology
Jernhuset will use the station’s ventilation system to capture the body heat generated by people who pass through Central Station every day, and use the energy to warm water that will be pumped through pipes to the new complex, which is expected to be completed in early 2010.

"This is old technology, but used in a new way. It's just pipes, water and pumps, but we haven't heard of anyone else using this technology in this way before," Sundholm said.

A High Return on Low Investment
The company expects the innovative system to lower heating costs in the new complex by as much as 20 percent—and for a relatively small investment. Creating the new heating system, including installing the necessary pumps and laying the underground pipes, is expected to cost around 200,000 kronor (21,200 euros or 31,200 dollars).

"For a large building expected to cost several hundred million kronor to build, that's not that much," Sundholm told AFP.

Human Body Heat: Coming Soon to a Building Near You
Given the abundance of human body heat worldwide and the growing need for renewable energy to replace increasingly costly and unsustainable fossil fuels that cause pollution and contribute to global warming, using body heat to warm buildings is almost certain to be adopted elsewhere if this new Swedish project succeeds as expected.

Don't be surprised if more architects and builders start looking for ways to formally incorporate human body heat into their designs for heating and cooling both commercial and residential buildings.

Plan in Place to Protect Cozumel´s Natural Beauty

Ed. Note: I think this calls for a fact-finding mission!

Jan. 15, Waste News -- Cozumel, Mexico, has a new environmental protection agreement in place to help protect the island, which can receive up to 10,000 visitors a day via cruise ships.

The conservation agreement covers areas such as waste management and traffic and includes environmental awareness and education for cruise ship passengers.

"This is an exciting moment in time, bringing many different interests together to work on the common goal of protecting Cozumel´s natural heritage in order to strike the right balance between tourism and conserving the environment it depends on," said Seleni Matus of Conservation International.

Conservation International, a non-profit group, worked with Cozumel´s Department of Tourism and the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association to help create the conservation agreement.

Cozumel had 1,058 cruise ship dockings and 2.6 million visitors in 2006.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

An Interview with Florida's Governor, a Republican Climate Crusader

Meet Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, a surprising blend of Grand Ol' Party and bleeding-heart greenie. During his first year in office, he shocked and delighted environmentalists by pushing an aggressive agenda to stave off climate change and taking other big steps to protect the natural beauty for which his state is famous. In an interview with Grist's Amanda Griscom Little, Crist talks about his lifelong concern for the environment, his animosity toward coal, and the day when he realized he needed to take action against global warming.

Don’t Let Those Holiday Cards Go to Waste

From The State, Neighbors section, January 11:

Each Christmas card that arrived during the Yuletide season was treasured.

You opened each, eager to see pictures of children, get updates from friends faraway or just to see who remembered you.

During the past few weeks, they’ve been displayed on refrigerators, hung around doors or stuck in wreaths as a part of holiday decorations and tradition.

And now?

Don’t let them become landfill fodder.

How about keeping them — and using them for other things.

Mary Pat Baldauf, recycling coordinator for Lexington County Solid Waste Management, offers these suggestions:

Postcards and cards: Cut off the backs of holiday cards that do not have writing behind the front and use them as postcards. Write a message on the back and attach a postcard stamp. You can also cut images from old cards and paste them on new card stock to make beautiful handcrafted cards.

Gift tags: Cutouts from old holiday cards can be used to make delightful and creative gift tags. Leave some space around the picture when you cut it so that you can write messages there. Three or four gift tags can be created from a single card. The patterned front with a plain back makes an attractive and practical gift tag. Tip: If you are making more gift tags than you are likely to use, why not make up packs of gift tags and offer to a local church or charity to sell at bazaars and fundraising events.

Recipe cards: To share a favorite holiday recipe, use an old holiday card as a recipe card. Simply write the recipe on the back, or glue an image from the old card to a new recipe card.

Scrapbooking: Instead of spending for holiday scrapbook materials, cut out images from old holiday cards and use them to create your family's holiday scrapbook.

New Tatas

You can't make this stuff up...

Tata Motors unveils world's cheapest car in India: The world's cheapest car was unveiled in India last week by Tata Motors, which hopes that its new $2,500 subcompact will help make car ownership a reality for tens of millions of people in the developing world. The Tata Nano, dubbed the "People's Car," gets respectable gas mileage, about 50 miles per gallon, but its introduction was met by protests from environmentalists fearful that more-accessible autos will clog India's substandard road system, dirty the air, and worsen climate change. Currently in India, two-wheeled transportation is common, while only seven in every 1,000 people own a car. Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said of the cheap new Nano, "I am having nightmares."

Monday, January 14, 2008

Your Recycling Quandaries

Great info from Coop America!

Q: If my recycling gets picked up in the same truck as trash, is it really being recycled?
A: Probably. In some municipalities, trucks have been retrofitted to collect trash on one side and recycling on the other in separate compartments. In others, the city sends around two different trucks, on the same day or different days. If you’re in doubt, contact your local solid waste authority and ask what happens to your recycling once it’s picked up.

Q: How do I know if my city is really recycling my plastic, glass, aluminum, and paper?
A: Call and ask. Look up your solid waste authority on the EPA’s map, and ask them where your recycling is taken. If it’s taken to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) for sorting, call and ask the MRF operators what percentages of the materials that they receive are sold to recyclers, and what percentage they reject as “residuals.” Also ask how much of their recyclables are being shipped to Asia or other developing countries, where your garbage’s fate is more dubious than if it’s being recycled domestically.

Q: Some places I’ve visited accept a long list of materials for recycling, but my city has very specific guidelines. Why are the rules so different from place to place?
A: While the materials that are technically capable of being recycled don’t vary from place to place, the market for recycled materials fluctuates over time and varies locally in response to demand. In addition, there are also a range of tactics that municipalities use to maximize citizen participation in recycling. For example, some municipalities that do not recycle any plastics #3–7 nonetheless advise citizens to put all plastics #1–7 into their recycling bins, out of the belief that more people will participate if they don’t have too many complicated rules to follow. Then the MRF fishes out whatever they cannot recycle and sends it to a landfill or incinerator.

Q: My city only recycles plastics numbered 1 and 2. Is there a way I can recycle those numbered 3-7?
A: Probably not. “It’s safe to say that plastics with the resin code 3-7 are not recyclable and should be avoided by consumers,” says Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste. No plastics are truly recyclable back into the same type of container they were before, due to the chemical properties of plastics. Plastics #1 and some #2 are “downcyclable” into second-order products, like plastic “lumber” for picnic tables and decks. With the exception of a few model programs like that of Stonyfield Farms and Recycline—which turns used #5 yogurt cups into Recycline toothbrushes and razors—there is almost no domestic market for plastics #3–7. When municipalities do accept the higher numbered plastics, it’s often because they are under pressure from the public to take them. In most cases, higher numbered plastics are bundled together and shipped overseas to developing countries—where they may be burned as boiler fuel (which generates toxic air pollution), or simply dumped into unregulated landfills.

Q: My grocery store accepts plastic bags for recycling. Can they really be recycled, or is the store greenwashing?
A: Some may be sold to actual recyclers—Safeway, in particular, has an arrangement with a domestic recycler to downcycle these plastic bags into compressed “lumber” for decks, fencing, and picnic tables. But the majority of the plastic bags collected by these receptacles are baled and shipped to Asia. What is done with them there? Even the man responsible for overseeing California’s mandatory plastic bag recycling law for supermarkets hasn’t been able to find out: “I’d love to know what happens to [baled plastic bags] overseas,” says Neal Johnson, a research analyst for the California Environmental Protection Agency. “There are a lot of anecdotal comments about whether it gets burned as boiler fuel [a toxic use of plastic that’s illegal in the US], or reprocessed as some sort of filler. We don’t quite know what happens there.” Your best bet: bring your own reusable shopping bags and produce bags with you to the supermarket.

Q: If I put the wrong number plastic in my bin, will it mess up the whole batch? Will it magically get recycled anyway?
A: Every recycler does some mechanical and optical sorting to ensure the correct materials end up in the recycling stream, and large Materials Recovery Facilities are factory-sized sorting operations that make sure each recycler receives the right sort of materials. So while it’s helpful to workers at these facilities if you follow your municipality’s guidelines, you’re probably not going to ruin a whole batch of recycling if you periodically make a mistake. Chances are the non-recyclable item will get fished out down the line and thrown away, though it won’t get “magically recycled.” That said, polyvinyl chloride, also known as PVC #3 plastic —is rarely recyclable and has a fantastic capacity to mess up the downcycling of a whole batch of plastics #1 or #2; so try to be particularly mindful of keeping #3 out of your recycling bin. PVC is also unsafe, and several campaigns are afoot to end the use of the “poison plastic” in consumer products and construction materials. For more information, visit www.pvcfree.org, www.myhouseisyourhouse.org.

Q: Is a biodegradable product better than a conventional product if they both end up in a landfill?
A: Maybe a little, but not much. If biodegradable products are just headed for the regular trash, they are still part of the general waste stream. If they end up in a landfill, they’re unlikely to degrade aerobically when buried under tons of trash away from light, oxygen, or moisture. Instead, they’ll more slowly degrade with the help of anaerobic bacteria, a process that generates greenhouse gases: methane and carbon dioxide. That said, a product made out of a renewable resource such as bamboo probably has a better ecological footprint than one made from petroleum. And, using the new biodegradable plastics helps keep harmful PVC #3 plastic out of the waste stream—it’s the burning of PVC and other toxic plastics that cause some of the worst pollution from incinerators. However, the best choice is to use reusable items whenever you can. The second best is to use compostable products and then actually compost them. Find a community composting facility near you at www.findacomposter.com.

Q: Can you compost if you live in an apartment?
A: Yes! You can create a worm composting bin using Real Money’s step-by-step guide, or explore one of the motorized apartment composters on the market, such as NatureMill. Another option is to save your compost in a container in the freezer (to prevent smells) and give it periodically to a homeowner friend who composts.

Q: How can I start a recycling program in my city?
A: Read our article, featuring Tayler McGillis, a 12-year-old who started a community-wide aluminum recycling program in Toluca, IL.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Beware Electronics “Recyclers” that Don’t Recycle

Consumers Warned of e-Waste Recyclers that Ship Old TVs or Computers toDeveloping Countries — Urged to Use “e-Stewards”

Seattle, San Francisco. 7 January 2008. In the wake of the Christmas electronic gadget buying season, with many of us buying new flat screen TVs, cell phones and computers now faced with disposing of the old ones, the Basel Action Network (BAN) and the Electronics TakeBack Coalition (ETBC) today cautioned consumers not to be fooled by the majority of businesses nationwide calling themselves electronics recyclers who in fact don’t do any recycling at all, but instead ship your old equipment to developing countries.

The Recycling Lie

“We may think we’re doing the right thing by giving our old electronics to a ‘recycler’ or a free collection event,” said Sarah Westervelt, BAN’s e-Stewardship Program Director. “But most of those businesses calling themselves recyclers are little more than international waste distributors. They take your old equipment for free, or pocket your recycling fee, and then simply load it into a sea-going container, and ship it to China, India or Nigeria.”

Once on foreign shores your old computer or TV becomes part of a cyber-age horror story. In China, woman and children breathe in the toxic solder vapors as they cook circuit boards, dioxins are produced when wires are burned, and micro-chips are washed in strong acid baths and flushed into the rivers as primitive metals extraction techniques take their toll on the local environment and the health of thousands of migrant farmers. In Nigeria the imported techno-trash that is not repairable is dumped and burned in swamps.

BAN revealed these sad truths as early as 2002 in their film and report “Exporting Harm: The High Tech Trashing of Asia” and again in another report and film entitled “The Digital Dump: Exporting Re-use and Abuse to Africa,” in 2005.

Unfortunately, according to BAN and ETBC, this ugly waste trade continues unabated from the United States because the government refuses to ratify the Basel Convention and the Basel Ban Amendment – international accords prohibiting trade in hazardous waste to developing countries, and has otherwise expressed little interest in controlling its toxic waste exports as long as they are claimed to be destined for recycling or re-use. As such, US e-waste exports are in contravention of international law, but not US law, and thus US “recyclers” are able to claim they abide by all environmental laws and are even “EPA approved”.

Doing the Right Thing: The e-Stewards Initiative

To help distinguish between these unscrupulous exporters and the responsible recyclers and refurbishers, BAN and ETBC created the e-Stewards Initiative – a program identifying North America’s most responsible e-Waste recyclers that have agreed to adhere to strict criteria created by the non-profit environmental groups. The criteria require that no hazardous electronics equipment or parts (as defined internationally) will be exported to developing countries or be processed by captive prison labor, and that none of it will end up in landfills or incinerators. These responsible recyclers can be found at: www.ban.org/pledge1.html or www.computertakeback.com/responsible_recycling/index.cfm. Consumers are urged to avoid recyclers not on this list including free e-waste collection events that do not state that they only use e-Stewards recyclers.

“We strongly urge all consumers to avoid all but those recyclers that have qualified as e-Stewards. If your local recycler has not qualified for the program, ask them to do so. Otherwise while trying to do the right thing with recycling, you can unwittingly become a player in a global digital dumping game, and end up poisoning those in developing countries,” said Barbara Kyle, National Coordinator of ETBC.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Christmas Light Recycling Program

From now until January 31, 2008, HolidayLEDs.com will accept incandescent Christmas lights for recycling. All lights submitted for recycling must be mailed to HolidayLEDs.com, postage paid, and post-marked no later than January 31, 2008.

The first 100 participants (which shall be determined by the date the packaged is post-marked) will receive one free set of LED Christmas lights. The second 100 participants (which shall be determined by the date the packaged is post-marked) will receive a 10% coupon for any purchase at HolidayLEDs.com.

The first 100 participants shall receive their free set of lights via UPS or first class mail no later than February 15, 2008. The second 100 participants shall receive their 10% coupon via electronic mail no later than February 15, 2007

All participants should include a note along with their package including: 1) Name; 2) Mailing address; 3) Phone number and 4) Email address.

All packages should be sent to:
Attn: Recycling Program
120 W. Michigan Ave., Suite 1403
Jackson, MI 49201

Upon conclusion of the recycling program, HolidayLEDs.com will recycle all components of the lights which can be recycled. We will be using one or more local recycling companies including OmniSource.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Super Bowl to Plant Trees and Make Other Greenish Efforts

From Grist: The National Football League has announced that it will plant trees and take other measures to offset some of the environmental impacts of the most hyped sporting event of the year.

As part of the greening effort, the organizers have said they're planting 9,000 trees in the state, though only 3,500 of them are actually expected to survive. The Super Bowl stadium and the adjacent NFL theme park will be powered with clean energy on the big day and an expected 65,000 pounds of leftover food from bowl-affiliated events during the week will be donated to area food banks, shelters, and soup kitchens.

Not offset, however, are any of the emissions of anyone flying to the event, energy used by the media center and hotels, and energy from probably 98 percent of the country's plasma televisions that will be tuned in to the game.

"We're trying to determine where the line is drawn between the organization managing the event and the individual when it comes to offsetting their emissions," said Jack Groh, director of the NFL Environmental Program. "We're trying to figure out at what point does this become someone else's responsibility?"

Friday, January 4, 2008

Huckabee and Obama: The Green Angle

Mike Huckabee won the Iowa GOP caucuses last night, a decisive victory that puts him at the front of the pack in the Republican presidential race -- that is, until the New Hampshire primary next week. Huckabee is one of just two GOP candidates who support a cap-and-trade system to fight climate change (McCain is the other), although Huckabee hasn't come out in support of any specific emission targets. In an interview with Grist earlier this year, Huckabee stressed the connection between his Christian faith and his drive to protect the environment.

On the Democratic side, Barack Obama was the night's winner. Like all of the other Democratic candidates, he's got an ambitious plan to tackle climate and energy issues, which he described in an interview with Grist this past summer.

For a thorough look at the victors' green stances, check out Grist's fact sheets on Huckabee and Obama -- and compare all of the Republican and Democratic candidates with our handy chart.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Righteous Resolutions: Have an Eco-'08

Just ran across this article on environmentally friendly ways to approach beauty and fashion this year. Good stuff.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

GREAT Ways to Reuse

Check out the World Environmental Organization's Reuse Database. Fun and neat ideas for ways to reuse many items that can't be recycled.

Also cool: a list of the top 100 recycling Web sites.