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

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Americans Want to Spend on Green, But Can't Figure Out How

This piece from Grist doesn't surprise me at all. I think the average consumer wants to to something, but doesn't know how. There is confusion as to what is legitimately green and what is merely greenwashing. For instance, so many people are now buying products marketed as biodegrable, but don't realize that in order for it to degrade, the product has to be composted vs. thrown out, aka landfilled. Nothing degrades in a landfill! I hope non-profits and other groups will help educate consumers!

Americans want to spend on green, but can't figure out how, says study

Americans are primed to spend up to $104 billion on "green" technologies this year -- but don't know where to find them, says a new study. Which seems crazy, considering the plethora of green-shopping websites and companies joining in on the "green revolution," but what do we know? According to the survey conducted by Rockbridge Associates, some half of the spending on green technologies this year could come in the form of easier-on-the-earth vehicles.

Collared Greens (How to Green Your Pet!)

Check out this AWESOME article from Grist!

The Queen Goes Green

Queen Elizabeth II may have been a picture in pink for Commonwealth Day 2008, but her message was bright green.

In her annual Commonwealth Day message on Monday [March 10, 2008], the Queen called on the 53 nations and 2 billion people that comprise the Commonwealth to join hands in defense of the environment. In her short but strongly worded speech, the monarch urged more affluent people and nations throughout the Commonwealth to help those who are facing higher risks with fewer resources and alternatives.

Read more about it here.

Wal-Mart Introduces Most Efficient Store Plan

My love-hate relationship with Wal-Mart continues. I think this is the kind of store being built in Ballentine, South Carolina.

March 18 -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has introduced its most efficient U.S. store, a prototype that will use up to 45 percent less energy than a typical Wal-Mart Supercenter.

The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer is drawing on experience from high-efficiency locations it opened in 2007 and 2008. The newest planned store, called the HE.5, begins a new series of prototypes designed for specific climates. It is a western climate-specific store that will use advancements in heating, cooling, refrigeration and lighting to conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"We are committed to openly sharing our learnings with the retail industry and the world because being more energy efficient is something everyone can benefit from," said Charles Zimmerman, vice president of prototype and new format development for Wal-Mart.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

So Jon Bon Jovi is Green - Could He Be Any More Perfect??

Bon Jovi will offset 5,000 tons of CO2 during new tour

March 25 -- Bon Jovi plans to offset more than 5,000 tons of carbon dioxide to account for the band´s upcoming six-month tour.

The band selected a company called NativeEnergy to provide the carbon offsets to cover its international "Lost Highway Tour."

"As displayed through Bon Jovi´s efforts, the positive effect that leaders in the entertainment industry can have in the fight against global warming in significant," said Tom Boucher, president and CEO of NativeEnergy.

Bon Jovi also offset the carbon impact of the band´s 205 and 2006 tour.

"Through NativeEnergy we are making an investment in renewable energy projects that we hope will result in efficient alternatives to power our tours in the future," said lead singer Jon Bon Jovi. "Until then, we want to help those who are seeking solutions to a problem we can´t afford to ignore."

Native Energy offers credits and offsets from a variety of renewable energy projects.

Monday, March 24, 2008

What's More Cringe-Worthy Than the Sound of Ryan Seacrest's Voice?

From Ideal Bite

The Bite

The sound of an idling car. It may seem like idling uses less gas than turning your car off and on again, but it usually doesn't, and the pollution idling causes is a lot less entertaining than betting on which Idol winner is gonna get dropped by their record label next.

The Benefits

Less air (and ear) pollution. An idling car creates twice the emissions of a car in motion.
Saving money. Idling 15 min per weekday can cost you up to $100 in wasted gas over the course of a year.

Saving oil. American drivers use more than 2 bil gal of fuel each year while idling.

Personally Speaking

School parking lots are notorious for idlers, so most of us probably sucked down a lotta fumes waiting for our parents to pick us up after school, except for Jenifer, who had to walk home...both ways, uphill...in the snow...

Wanna Try?

Turn your car off if you're gonna stay put for more than 10 seconds, and BTW: Driving warms up your car way faster than idling.

EPA - resources for starting an idling-reduction program at your kid's school district.

Feel Like Some Green-Building Lingo is Alien-Speak?

From The Ideal Bite

The Bite

Come back down to Earth. You might've seen the acronym LEED around - it stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and it's the most widely accepted stamp of approval to certify that a building's green. Plant your non-UFO vehicle down right here for the full translation.

The Benefits

A universal yardstick. LEED provides standards to look for when building or buying an apartment or house, helping us determine what's really green.

Black-holing pollution. Buildings account for more than 40% of CO2 emissions worldwide. (Yeah, that's more than the 35% that car emissions create.) LEED buildings - which take into account the site, water, energy, resources, and indoor environmental quality - reduce CO2 by 30%-40%.
Galaxy-sized payoffs. According to a study conducted by the CA Sustainable Building Task Force, green buildings typically cost 2% more initially, but you'll recoup 20% of building costs over 20 years, thanks to lower utility bills.

Personally Speaking

Fewer than 1,000 homes have been LEED-certified so far (and none of us live in any of 'em), but it's definitely something we'll look for when we're in the market for a new place.

Wanna Try?

U.S. Green Building Council - LEED's parent org; learn more about the rating system and how to get your new house certified. Its Green Home Guide helps you make your current home greener.

Green Building Certification Institute - green building's a growing field; start here if certifying homes sounds like a space-tacular career.

Get Leaner and Greener by Recycling

Hey! I've met him at our Sonoco Recycling MRF!

Diverting recyclable material from the landfill converts waste streams to revenue streams, conference speaker says.

By Corinne Kator, Associate Editor -- Modern Materials Handling, 3/21/2008

Eliminating waste is the goal of lean manufacturing initiatives. It is also the goal of many environmental initiatives.

Myles Cohen, general manager at Sonoco Recycling and a speaker at this week’s Scope East conference in Philadelphia, says one way companies can literally eliminate waste is to divert materials from the landfill.

Much of what companies pay to throw away, he says, can actually earn them money. A waste audit at one Sonoco customer, he says, showed 65% of what the customer habitually sent to the landfill was actually recyclable. The company used to pay $230,000 in yearly landfill fees; today it earns $325,000 per year in recycling revenue—and keeps valuable materials out of the landfill.

Distribution centers, says Cohen, are notorious for throwing away materials that can be easily—and profitably—recycled. Old PET bands (the bands often used for securing loads to pallets), for example, can be worth several hundred dollars a ton, he says.

And while the policy at many DCs is to recycle used cardboard and stretch film, he says, that policy is too often ignored. Cohen recently conducted a waste audit at a DC with a program for recycling stretch film: “Every trash can had stretch wrap in it,” he says.

If you’re serious about reducing waste and you’re already recycling cardboard and plastic, watch for programs that allow you to recycle less obvious materials. As commodity prices rise and recycling technology improves, Cohen says, more and more materials are becoming worth the effort it takes to recycle them.

For example, some paper mills have developed methods for burning off plastic coatings and now accept polycoated paper for recycling. And Sonoco is developing programs for converting previously non-recyclable materials into useful items, such as fuel pellets and pallet blocks.

Your Old Commode Could Soon Be on the Road

From The Coloradoan, Ft. Collins, CO.

Your old commode could soon be on the road.

It won't develop wheels and take off to see the countryside, but porcelain toilets are now getting a new life as part of our local streets.

Perhaps you've been interested in replacing your older toilets but worried that throwing functional toilets into the landfill is wasteful or that a new toilet won't work the same. Now there's new use for those old gallon-guzzling toilets.

A cooperative venture among Fort Collins Utilities, the Natural Resources and Streets departments, and the local nonprofit ReSource, is offering a free recycling program for porcelain toilets. The toilets are taken from ReSource to the Streets department crushing operations site. The crushed porcelain is combined into an aggregate and used as road base.

Retiring your older high-water-using toilet helps conserve water and save money. Pre-1994 toilets use 3.5 to 7 gallons per flush (gpf). If your home was built before 1994 and the bathrooms haven't been updated, your household can easily save thousands of gallons of water a year by installing a low-flow toilet.

Since 1994, toilets manufactured in the U.S. have been 1.6 gpf. You might be wary of the performance of a toilet that uses so little water; perhaps you've even heard negative stories of the first generation of low-flow toilets.

But technology has come a long way since the first low-flow toilets were introduced. Low-flow no longer means low performance. Now, even more savings can be gained with high-efficiency models that use 1.28 gpf or less.

WaterSense, a new Environmental Protection Agency program, labels toilets that are certified by an independent laboratory to meet rigorous criteria for performance and efficiency. Design advances enable WaterSense-labeled toilets to save water with no trade-off in flushing power and performance. In fact, many perform better than standard toilets in consumer testing.
Similar to the EPA label for Energy Star appliances, WaterSense is meant to promote and enhance the market for water-efficient products and services.

As a WaterSense partner, the city can help consumers find reliable products that conserve water. Check out the list of WaterSense labeled high efficiency toilets at www.epa.gov/watersense

Friday, March 21, 2008

Whatcha Gonna Do With All That Junk?

Postal service and direct mailers join together in a pro-junk-mail campaign

A number of state legislators are introducing bills that would allow residents to block junk mail, and the group ForestEthics recently launched a campaign calling for a Do Not Mail Registry. This sounds appealing to most everyone with a mailbox, but is loudly opposed by direct mailers and the U.S. Postal Service.

The Direct Marketing Association has kicked off a new "Mail Moves America" campaign, which argues that junk mail is crucial for keeping postal carriers, copywriters, and printers employed.

Some nonprofit groups -- including environmental groups -- are also unenthusiastic about a national do-not-mail registry, since they themselves market by mail. As an alternative, big green groups including the National Wildlife Federation and Natural Resources Defense Council have created Catalog Choice, which asks retailers to voluntarily stop sending catalogs to residents who opt out. But it's unclear how much of an effect the program is having, as the Direct Marketing Association has advised its members to ignore it and keep on sending out those catalogs.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bunny Business

Some Easter trinkets test high for lead in small study

If you're the Easter-trinket-buying type, beware: some pastel gewgaws may have high levels of lead, according to testing done by students at Ohio's Ashland University. Of 45 Easter-themed spinning tops, hair clips, sippy cups, and plastic eggs purchased at the fun-to-say Hobby Lobby, 13 exceeded the federal standards for lead in paint. But that shouldn't mean an end to all your Easter fun -- Peeps are 100 percent lead-free!

sources: Associated Press via Grist

Monday, March 17, 2008

Baseball Partners with NRDC in Greening Effort

According to the USA Today (McLean, Virginia), Major League Baseball is partnering with the Natural Resources Defense Council (both of New York) to increase each team's green programs, from increasing recycling to installing solar panels or, perhaps, wind turbines at some of the league's 31 ballparks.

The Team Greening Program will provide each team advice on all aspects of the team's operation, including concessions and transportation. The program will not be a blanket mandate, as each team has different needs — the Seattle Mariners, for example, began composting Safeco Field's food scraps last year, diverting 100 tons of material from landfill and saving the team on disposal costs.

Some cities are announcing greening schemes ahead of the Team Greening Program. The New York Mets, in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Washington), recently announced environmental goals for its new stadium, Citi Field, while the Pittsburgh Pirates launched its "Let's Go Bucs, Let's Go Green" program this past Tuesday.

One of the NRDC's blogs even recently offered tips for greening one's fantasy baseball team.

Recycle City


Recycle Your Coffee Grounds

Happy St. Pat's Day

Well, it only makes sense that a St. Patrick´s Day parade would be green.

Office Depot says it´s joining up with Delray Beach, Fla., to create the city´s first environmentally themed St. Patrick´s Day parade on Saturday, March 15.

Office Depot has its world headquarters in the city and will the company´s director of environmental strategy, Yalmaz Siddiqui, will speak during the parade. The company also will exhibit a variety of environmentally preferable products in the parade´s exhibit area, Office Depot said.

"I am proud to stand beside Office Depot to once again offer the residents of this great city something innovative, educational and, now, environmentally sustainable," Mayor Rita Ellis said.

Religion Gets Involved in Recycling

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) -- Going green is a term you've probably heard of and it's a message now being pronounced from the pulpit.

Recently a leader of the Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist leaders asked their members to protect the environment. They are asking members to recycle and respect climate change.

"Recycling ought to be a part of the human mentality. Why waste something that's useful for another?" said Father Richard Cleary.

Father Richard Cleary said a Bishop in Rome made the comment recently that in addition to the seven deadly sins there are also other sins that stem from those. He said the failure to take care of the planet is one of them.

"Every material thing was ultimately created by God. The first chapter of the first book of the Bible tells us that God saw all his creation and observed that it is good," said Cleary.

Another group, the Southern Baptist Convention has announced that they are going to do their part to help control climate change.

"There's the possibility that we contributed to global warming and they acknowledge that there's debate out there that it may not be, but we contributed to it and we have responsibilities," said Pastor Jason Noel.

There are many ways you can get involved locally to help protect the environment. In Jonesboro they have a blue bag recycling program where they take everything from clear glass, aluminum cans, steel cans and two kinds of plastic.

"Just by speaking out, hopefully people will become aware and persuade their children and neighbors to also become aware of the need to conserve and protect the environment for future generations," said Cleary.

"It's fine to have a declaration on the internet. It is fine to have prominent Southern Baptist leaders sign it but it's really worthless until we start taking practical steps. Let's actually start recycling. Let's not actually be as wasteful," said Noel.

No one knows for sure what difference the church will make by getting involved with protecting the environment, but their hope is everyone will take their lead and recycle.

Love This Story!

Recycle Those Oyster Shells!

Now THIS is My Kind of Recycling!

Organic Vineyards Recycle Grape Skins and Scraps

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. . . An Airplane?

Sure, everyone’s in favor of recycling, but wouldn’t it be fun if paper and glass were being made into something besides more paper and glass? How about taking all your discarded plastics and turning them into a gorgeous working chandelier? Berlin-based artist Stuart Haygarth created just such a dazzling objet d’art — which you can see on Superuse.org , a website that showcases the sublime creations he and others have fashioned out of the world’s rubbish.

Hosted by 2012 Architects, a group of environmentally minded designers, and Suite 75, a company that creates Internet applications, Superuse highlights ingenious inventions from around the world (like the solar-powered water heater a Chinese farmer made with beer bottles and hosepipes). Many of the projects are small wonders (the harmonium built from a vacuum cleaner), but the monumental transformations are striking: The Boeing 727 that a Mississippi woman turned into a house could be a set from a great sci-fi film — it’s brilliant and just barely this side of implausible.

The Greening of Wal-Mart

Another interesting story about Wal-Mart's environmental efforts. I wonder if Wal-Mart will try to educate consumers that biodegradeable products need to be composted since nothing degrades in a landfill?

Monday, March 10, 2008

EPA Earth Day Photo Contest

Show Us Your Best Photo for Earth Day
Contact: Jeffrey Levy, 202-564-4355 / levy.jeffrey@epa.gov

(Washington, D.C. – March 10, 2008) Has your community organization cleaned up a stream? Have you enjoyed a day in the woods? Has a wild animal ever sparked your imagination?

If you've caught anything like those moments in a photo, share it with us! We want to see how you would show EPA's mission to protect human health and the environment. Send us your best photos in three categories:
· Enjoying the environment
· Protecting the environment
· Nature and wildlife

To encourage participation and provide maximum public access, the contest will be hosted on the photo sharing site Flickr.com. People around the world are encouraged to enter.

The contest will run as follows:
March 24: entries due
April 1: Finalists announced, public voting for winners begins
April 15: voting ends
April 22 (Earth Day): winners announced

Finalist and winning photos will be featured on EPA's Web site.

Full details about the contest, including how to enter: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/photocontest

Running a Restaurant With a Recycling Message

by sboin@fredericknewspost.com (Sonia Boin) @ The Frederick News-Post

MOUNT AIRY -- Diners at Todd Bricken's restaurant take home the food they can't finish in biodegradable boxes made from vegetable starch -- no wax or plastic.

In his quest to save the environment, he avoids Styrofoam and plastic utensils. He buys produce at a farm 1 1/2 miles away to reduce his fuel costs and emissions. And he has dug a composting pit on the 2-acre site of his Brick Ridge Restaurant on Ridge Road, in which lettuce trimmings, vegetable peels and the like are placed when the temperature is above freezing.

"We get about 200 pounds a week just from scraps and we use it to do our gardening," he said. "I might get into something I can use 12 months of the year. I have to build a structure."

Bricken, 42, searched for a garbage company that would agree to collect co-mingled glass, plastic, tin and aluminum cans for recycling. Allied Waste in Finksburg had the equipment and it's the company he uses.

"This was an important issue last year," he said. "I started trying to get other restaurants to do the co-mingling. This is complicated by the fact that there are fewer and fewer independent, family-owned restaurants."

Restaurants can save money by using the co-mingling option, he said, but chains have to go with their sister restaurants in Frederick, Montgomery and Baltimore counties, and each jurisdiction has its own laws and rules.

Bricken, who opened the Brick Ridge in 2000, also uses insulation that doesn't emit any carbon gas and kitchen equipment designed to reduce energy use. "It may be more expensive to install," he said, "but they save energy."

He makes sure the equipment is well cleaned and maintained, another way of saving energy.

"I am getting more disposables that are environmentally friendly," he said. "If you change one thing at a time, you do what you are comfortable with."

He purchased compact fluorescent light bulbs to conserve electricity, then learned that they contain mercury; he's not happy about having to make a long drive to recycle them. In making changes, he said, "you have to be careful."

As he continues his efforts to bring other restaurants into the environmentally friendly fold, Bricken said he hasn't done much yet, but he is doing all he can.

"It's important. It's coming along. The more interest there is, it will create more need."

Copyright 2008 The Frederick News-Post. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Florida E-Voting Machines Become E-Scrap

Following state lawmakers' vote last year to ban paperless voting, Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning has contracted with a local e-scrap processor to take all 29,000 of the Sunshine State's touch-screen voting machines.

Creative Recycling Solutions Inc. (Tampa, Florida) will pick up and resell the machines. After the company recoups its expenses, the state will receive 65 percent of any proceeds from sales of the machines or its parts.

Convention Wisdom: Republican Convention to go Green

Republicans at the party's national convention in Minneapolis in early September may disagree over how to approach environmental issues, but they'll be disagreeing at a green event, organizers say.

The plan is to make the convention carbon neutral, and to green up other aspects of the gathering with recycled-fiber carpet, booths and stages constructed of local, sustainably harvested wood, water in petroleum-free bottles, biodegradable plates, composted food waste, non-plastic banners printed with soy-based inks, energy-efficient lighting, and reduced paper use. Bicycles will be made available for delegates to pedal to and from hotels -- though how many will actually take advantage of the eco-perk remains to be seen.

The communications director of the GOP Convention Committee on Arrangements said, "Republicans, like all Americans, support responsible stewardship of the land.

Solar Power Makes Habitat Homes Even More Affordable


March 5 -- A couple of new homes in Oklahoma City built by Habitat for Humanity are even more affordable thanks to the inclusion of solar energy.

The two solar powered homes are a first for the Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity chapter, the group said.

"Solar power will mean so much in years to come to the families who live in these homes. The affordability will truly help transform their lives," said Ann Felton, CEO of the group.

The homes are part of a new Habitat for Humanity neighborhood called Hope Crossing, which will eventually include 220 homes. All homes completed so far include geothermal heating and cooling systems, and the group said Hope Crossing "is fast becoming the largest green development in Habitat for Humanity history."

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Something to Think About!