Going Green

friday

Topshop going green with eco capsule line; Aims to encourage sustainability within the fashion industry

A model wears designs from Topshop’s upcycled capsule collection

Following hot on the heels of H&M’s sustainable Glamour Conscious Collection, high street retailer Topshop has teamed up with eco fashion brand Reclaim To Wear to create a debut upcycled capsule collection made entirely from discarded materials.

Materials including surplus stock and production off-cuts have gone into the line, which comprises on-trend pieces including ombre bleached denim shorts and color block panel mini and maxi dresses.

On sale from June 8 at the retailer’s London Oxford Circus store and online, the line aims to encourage sustainability within the fashion industry.

Aiming to solve the problem of textile waste, Reclaim To Wear was founded in 1997. The brand’s creative director Orsola de Castro and managing director Filippo Ricci shared their knowledge with Topshop when collaborating on the line.

“This is the first step towards the creation of zero waste design collections. I trust that the Topshop team’s commitment to new sustainable solutions will lead to the reconsidering of consumption versus disposal throughout the whole fashion industry supply chain,” said de Castro.

The new eco friendly Topshop line follows a general shift in the fashion industry towards upcycling and sustainable fashion. On the high street H&M launched its Glamour Conscious Collection back in March, comprising pieces made using sustainable materials including organic cotton, hemp and recycled polyester.

Big name designers have also been getting in on the act, with a host of labels including Valentino and Lanvin signing up to film producer Livia Firth’s Green Carpet Challenge initiative ahead of the awards ceremony season earlier this year.

Highlights on the Oscars red carpet included best actress winner Meryl Streep’s gold draped Lanvin dress made out of eco-certified sourced fabric and Firth’s red Valentino gown made of recycled polyester sourced from plastic bottles.

Article excerpted from www.nydailynews.com


Bars Go Green

More watering holes are going green to stand out from the competition, as well as help the environment.

Bars are recycling glass bottles, composting leftovers and serving organic wines to signal to customers that they’re serious about sustainability. The Green Restaurant Association, a nonprofit trade group with 850 members, has seen a 20% uptick in the number of member bars since 2010.

Sustainability appears to make a difference to customers. In a 2010 survey by the consulting firm Technomic, 52% of consumers said they’d visit a sustainable dining establishment more often than other restaurants and bars.

Not sure how to incorporate green practices into your own bar? Here’s a look at how three entrepreneurs did it.

Bar: B.D. Riley’s
Partner: Steve Basile
City: Austin, Texas

Two years ago, Steve Basile, 52, manager and partner of a popular Irish pub, decided it was time to go green. But he soon realized it wouldn’t be cheap.

Basile found beverage napkins made from post-consumer waste to be costlier than the ordinary variety and recyclable takeout containers to be twice the price of Styrofoam. Despite the economics, he made the switch. He thought about adding a takeout fee but decided to absorb the extra expense and keep looking for alternatives. Two years later, he found recycled fiberboard containers that are both eco-friendly and about the same price as the standard kind.

He has reduced the number of bottled beers from 14 to seven and added more beers on tap, meaning less glass bottle waste. He also is participating in a glass recycling program and turning old menus into scrap pads at the local FedEx Kinko’s.

Basile does a little eco-marketing. Menus feature a logo he calls the Green Pub Initiative (a recycling symbol with a beer bottle in the middle). “By giving it name, it attaches some weight to it and lets people know we are now being careful to reduce our waste,” he says.

Although Basile has received positive reactions from some customers, the 25-employee company can’t attribute any sales increase to the environmental focus. Still, he believes it is helping build a more eco-conscious brand that attracts patrons who care about sustainability. “It’s not the reason we’re doing this, but it’s a nice fringe benefit,” he says.

Bar: Mare’ka
Owner: Mare’ka Enright
City: Studio City, Calif.

When she developed her bar concept, Mare’ka Enright, 29, decided she wanted to offer customers a healthier way to drink. Last year, she opened her namesake bar with the tagline “The Organic Watering Hole.” The 30-seat bar offers cocktails and elixirs with ingredients like Kombucha tea, fresh blackberries, basil and even beet juice. In the mornings, the bar-cafe offers non-alcoholic smoothies and juices.

Making sure each drink is fresh takes time: Customers sometimes wait as long as four minutes–an eternity in the bar scene. Increasing the wait time was a risky move, but Enright finds that most patrons are happy to compromise a few minutes for a healthier drink.

Enright also offers fully compostable cups made from corn for takeaway drinks. The cups cost $80 per container, twice the price of the non-recyclable option. “It makes me feel really good even though it costs me a lot,” she says.

Eight months after opening, Enright says she is already breaking even on her monthly expenses and considering franchising opportunities. “It’s about martini parties, but it’s also about feeling better when you leave than when you walked in,” she says. She estimates that 75% of her business is repeat customers.

Bar: Standing Stone Brewing Co.
President: Alex Amarotico
City: Ashland, Ore.

Five years after opening Standing Stone Brewing, Alex Amarotico, 42, began moving in a greener direction. In 2002, the 68-employee bar and brewery started recycling aluminum and installed a more energy efficient ventilation system. “It was basic stuff, and we were probably one of the only companies doing that,” he recalls.

Last year, Amarotico decided to take his green ethos to the next level. He leased a nearby 265-acre organic farm from the city, and the cows and chickens provide fresh beef and eggs for his bar’s food service. In the last few months, the bar also started using the farm to compost uneaten food.

Additionally, the company launched a recycling program allowing it to cut post-consumer waste by more than half. The new recycling approach required some adjustment. “It’s so easy to throw something in the trash,” Amarotico says, “but [employees] now decide between five different bins.”

The company also gives free bicycles to employees who have worked at least 1,000 hours and promise to ride them to work. The sustainability focus has had an unexpected effect: “It’s helped retain people and has attracted a more energetic type of person,” Amarotico says.

It also has helped the bar attract more local residents, reducing dependence on tourists who visit Ashland for events like the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. “Now we’re pretty much busy year around,” Amarotico says, noting that business this year is up 20% over the same period in 2011.

Article excerpted from www.entrepreneur.com


How to Recycle at the Workplace

Placing bins throughout the wokplace encourages regular recycling.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as much as 90 percent of work-related waste is paper, making it recyclable. Starting a workplace recycling program takes initiative, organization and education. Preparing and launching a program take time, but after the program is in place, your workplace can significantly reduce its waste output, lower its carbon footprint and even generate a small amount of income for your company.

Items you will need:

  1. Recycle bins
  2. List of approved recyclables
Step 1: Select an employee to serve as the recycling program’s coordinator. This person should be self-motivated and organized and have a passion for programs that support a healthy environment. The program coordinator takes the lead on educating employees about the new program and organizing the collection and hauling of recyclables. Workplace recycling initiatives function best when upper management supports the program and makes it a companywide effort.
Step 2: Tour the office and identify which waste items are recyclable. Make note of the materials that employees are throwing in the trashcans. You’ll likely find a wide variety of paper products, aluminum cans, glass and cardboard. Compare the list of items you’d like to recycle with a list of allowable recyclable items from your local waste management company. Ink cartridges and computers might not be recyclable through your waste management company, but you can easily research other businesses, such as office supply stores, that might offer ink and computer recycling services.
Step 3: Set out collection bins in strategic locations. According to the EPA, the average employee produces 2 lbs. of waste paper per day. Given this fact, you should place paper recycling bins at each employee’s desk as well as near the copier to encourage participation in the paper portion of your recycling program. In the lunchroom, place separate bins for paper, cardboard, aluminum and glass. Any durable bin can serve as a recycling bin. Label each bin clearly so employees do not accidentally mix materials.
Step 4: Distribute recycling guidelines to all employees. Try to keep things simple in order to encourage participation. Let employees know where bins are located and which items need to be cleaned prior to being placed in the bins. You can also post the guidelines above each bin for easy reference.

Step 5:Determine dates each month to haul your recyclables or to have them picked up. The program coordinator should choose employees who can help load and haul recycling to the local waste management recycling center. Take advantage of any cash-for-recyclables offers. Large companies can contract with independent hauling services to have their recycling picked up.

Tips

  • Encourage participation in your recycling program by letting employees know how much waste is being recycled monthly. People like to see the impact of their efforts.
  • Redistribute the recycling guidelines quarterly to keep them fresh in everyone’s mind. Email the guidelines to reduce paper waste.
  • Communicate clearly with your company’s janitorial staff about the recycling program’s efforts. This helps to ensure that items in recycling bins are not being collected with regular office trash as the janitorial staff cleans.

Article excerpted from http://greenliving.nationalgeographic.com/


Go green with treats, drinks

Emerald Mint Milkshake

Break out the green food coloring. It’s time to create a little St. Patrick’s Day fun in the kitchen.

“St. Patrick’s Day is a perfect occasion to get playful with bold colors and bright flavors,” says Mark Garcia, a chef at the McCormick & Company’s McCormick Kitchens.

“Our easy recipes take favorite treats, like cupcakes, shakes and brownies and add a bright green twist to make them a perfect fit for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.”

To bring bright hues to your entire St. Patrick’s Day spread, add a few drops o’ green to your favorite beverages and store-bought items. The experts in the McCormick Kitchen suggest adding five-six drops of green food coloring to 12 ounces of beer; six drops to an 8-ounce lemon-lime soda; 10-12 drops to a 1‚-2 cup of blue cheese dressing (for chicken wings); and 10-12 drops to a 1‚-2 cup of ranch or Franch onion dip (for chips, veggies and potato wedges).

Green with Envy Cheesecake Bars

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Refrigerate: 2 hours
Makes 4 dozen cake pops

1 package (18’ªø1‚-4 ounces) yellow cake mix
2 teaspoons green food color
3‚-4 cup marshmallow creme
1 bag (14 ounces) white confectionery coating wafers
Lollipop sticks
Green sprinkles (optional)

1. Prepare cake mix as directed on package, adding food color. Bake as directed on package for 13- by 9-inch baking pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

2. Crumble cake into large bowl. Add marshmallow creme; mix until well blended. Shape into 1-inch balls. Refrigerate 2 hours.

3. Melt coating wafers as directed on package. For each Cake Pop, dip 1‚-2 inch of lollipop stick into melted coating. Insert dipped end of lollipop stick halfway into cake ball. Let stand until coating is set. Dip each cake pop into melted coating. Shake gently to remove excess coating. Sprinkle or roll cake pops in green sprinkles, if desired. Place cake pops in Styrofoam blocks. Let stand until coating is set.

Test kitchen tips: Substitute 1‚-2 cup canned vanilla frosting for the marshmallow creme. If Styrofoam blocks are not available, use upside-down foam egg cartons or a cardboard box to hold the cake pops.

Nutrition information per serving: 226 calories, fat 10g, carbohydrates 32g, cholesterol 23mg, sodium 176mg, fiber 0g, protein 2g.

Creamy Irish Coffee Martini

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Makes 1 serving
2 ounces Irish cream liqueur
2 ounces Irish whiskey
2 ounces chilled brewed strong coffee
1‚-4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Vanilla Whipped Cream (recipe follows)
Green sprinkles (optional)

1. Fill cocktail shaker half full with ice. Add first 4 ingredients; shake until well mixed and chilled. Strain into martini glass.

2. Top with a dollop of Vanilla Whipped Cream and green sprinkles, if desired.

Vanilla Whipped Cream: Beat 1 cup heavy cream, 1‚-4 cup confectioners’ sugar and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract in medium bowl with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Makes about 2 cups.

Test kitchen tip: Wet outside rim of martini glass with pure peppermint extract. Dip glass in coarse sugar to lightly coat.

Peppermint Paddy Martini

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Makes 4 servings
8 ounces Irish cream liqueur
2 ounces crème de cacao liqueur
2 ounces vanilla vodka
2 ounces heavy cream
1‚-4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
Peppermint Whipped Cream, recipe follows (optional)

1. Fill cocktail shaker 1‚-3 full with ice. Add first 5 ingredients; shake until well mixed and chilled. Strain into martini glasses.

2. Top each with a dollop of Peppermint Whipped Cream, if desired.

Peppermint Whipped Cream: Beat 1 cup heavy cream, 1‚-4 cup confectioners’ sugar and 1‚-4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract in medium bowl with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Makes about 2 cups.

Test kitchen tip: Wet outside rim of martini glass with pure peppermint extract. Dip glass in coarse sugar to lightly coat.

Emerald Mint Milkshake

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Makes 3 servings
1 pint (2 cups) vanilla ice cream
1 cup milk
1‚-2 teaspoon McCormick pure peppermint extract
1‚-4 teaspoon McCormick green food color
Whipped cream and green sprinkles (optional)

1. Place ice cream, milk, peppermint extract and green food color in blender; cover. Blend on high speed until smooth.

2. Pour into glasses. Top with whipped cream and sprinkles, if desired. Serve immediately.

Test kitchen tip: For easier measurement, 1‚-4 teaspoon food color is equal to 20-25 drops.

Nutrition information per serving: 247 calories, fat 15g, carbohydrates 23g, cholesterol 53mg, sodium 85mg, fiber 0g, protein 5g.

Irish Cream Swirl Brownies

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Makes 16 servings
1 package (18-20 ounces) fudge brownie mix
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1‚-4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1‚-4 cup Irish cream liqueur
1 egg
1‚-4 teaspoon green food color

1. Prepare brownie mix as directed on package, adding vanilla. Reserve 1 cup batter. Spread remaining batter in greased 9-inch square baking pan.

2. Beat cream cheese, flour and sugar in medium bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add Irish cream liqueur, egg and food color; beat until well blended. Pour over brownie layer in pan. Drop reserved 1 cup batter by spoonfuls over cream cheese layer. Cut through batter with knife several times for marble effect.

3. Bake as directed on package for 9-inch square baking pan. Cool in pan on wire rack. Cut into squares. Serve with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Test kitchen tips: For easy clean-up, line pan with foil with ends of foil extending over sides of pan. Use foil handles to remove brownie from pan. Place on cutting board and cut into squares.

If desired, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract may be used in place of the Irish cream liqueur. Omit flour.

Nutrition information per serving: 292 calories, fat 16g, carbohydrates 34g, cholesterol 53mg, sodium 179mg, fiber 1g, protein 3g.

Green with Envy Cheesecake Bars

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Refrigerate: 4 hours
Makes 24 servings
1’ªø1‚-2 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (about 30 cookies)
1‚-3 cup butter, melted
3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1‚-2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
1‚-2 teaspoon green food color
3 eggs
2 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350∞F. Mix cookie crumbs and butter. Press firmly onto bottom of foil-lined 9-inch square baking pan. Refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add sour cream and peppermint extract; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating on low speed after each addition just until blended. Pour 1‚-2 of the batter over crust. Tint remaining batter green with food color. Pour over batter in pan.

3. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool completely on wire rack.

4. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Lift out of pan onto cutting board. Cut into bars. Drizzle bars with melted chocolate. Store leftover bars in refrigerator.

Nutrition information per serving: 215 calories, fat 15g, carbohydrates 16g, cholesterol 69mg, sodium 184mg, fiber 0g, protein 4g.

Article excerpted from www.hometownlife.com


Bieber goes green as he turns 18

JUSTIN Bieber has been given an eco-friendly runaround for his birthday.

High speed gift … Justin Bieber’s birthday car

The Baby singer, who turned 18 today, was presented with the luxury Fisker Karma vehicle with a solar-panelled roof by his manager Scooter on a US chat show.

And Scooter told the teen star he had broken his own rule to avoid anything ‘flashy’ and revealed the car — which cost between £64,000 and £72,000 — was from himself and Justin’s mentor, Usher.

He said: “You work really, really hard. I always yell at you don’t get anything flashy. You know, we’re not about that. Be humble, be humble and I kind of broke my own rule.

“So we wanted to make sure you were environmentally friendly and we wanted to make sure since you love cars that when you’re on the road you are always environmentally friendly and we decided to get you a car that would make you stand out.

“I think you know where I’m going and you’re kind of freaking out right now.”

And host Ellen DeGeneres presented the teen idol with her own birthday presents – a windscreen shield with her face and his in a heart, and an Ellen bobble-head for his dashboard.

The Canadian crooner, who is dating Selena Gomez, has been collecting luxury motors since he turned 16, the legal driving age in the US.

Amazing … Justin was thrilled with his new car

Last year, he treated himself to a £100,000 customised Range Rover, which had a sound system worth £50,000, leather interior, modified paintwork and a Cosworth engine.

He also owns a Batman-themed customised Cadillac and a Ferrari.

Justin received a birthday tweet from Cheryl Cole on his big day.

Bieber birthday bonanza … Justin checks out his ride

She wrote: “Happy Birthday @justinbieber ! I hope you have an Amazing 18th that you never forget.. *kisses*

But girlfriend Selena, who is away filming in Florida, has so far failed to mention his birthday.

Maybe she’s keeping her birthday messages strictly private.

Getting behind the wheel … Justin tries it out for size

Article excerpted from www.thesun.co.uk


Niagara Falls to turn green on March 17th

Niagara Falls will go green on both the Canadian and the US sides on St Patrick’s Day.Photograph: Tourism Ireland

NIAGARA FALLS will turn green for the first time this year to mark St Patrick’s Day, Tourism Ireland has announced.

This will be the third year of the tourism agencys “greening” initiative which sees famous landmarks lit up in green in honour of Ireland’s patron saint.

Some 32 cities are involved in this year’s campaign. The London Eye; the Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai; Table Mountain in South Africa; the Empire State Building in New York; the Sky Tower in Auckland; and the TV tower in Berlin’s Alexanderplatz are among the attractions which will go green.

The fountains at the White House will go green as will five skyscrapers in Stockholm. Tourism Ireland’s new “Jump into Ireland” advertising campaign will also be shown on the famous Fox screen on Times Square on March 17th.

Tourism Ireland’s chief executive Niall Gibbons said the initiative garnered very valuable publicity for Ireland while costing very little to organise. The publicity value in Britain alone was worth more than €2 million last year with coverage in newspapers such as the Telegraph and the Guardian .

“Our aim is to bring a smile to the world and to convey the message that Ireland continues to offer a warm welcome, fun and spontaneity, alongside fantastic scenery and cultural activities . . .”

The St Patrick’s Day celebrations are seen as the start of Ireland’s tourism season. Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar said St Patrick’s Day provided “a unique shop window for Ireland around the world, for Irish tourism and for trade and investment”.

He said this year’s event would be used abroad to launch The Gathering 2013. This will be a year-long programme of events, festivals and fun designed to encourage people to reconnect with Ireland. It has been described as the biggest tourism initiative ever staged here and Mr Varadkar said it had the potential to attract 325,000 extra visitors.

The Central Statistics Office recorded a 7.8 per cent increase in visitor numbers here last year. Mr Gibbons said this was “a welcome return to growth” after a difficult few years. It was a record year for Australia and developing markets – they were up by 18 per cent – and Mr Gibbons said 2012 should be another strong year.

The visa waiver scheme introduced last year was already having a positive effect, he said. Tourists from certain countries, who previously required a visa to holiday in Ireland, now do not need one as long as they hold a visa to enter Britain. Some of the countries covered by the waiver include Russia, the United Arab Emirates, India and China.

Mr Gibbons said the potential for business was very strong.

“For example there are 24 tour operators in Asia now who previously only programmed the UK that are now programming the UK and Ireland because once you get your UK visa you can come to Ireland for free and it makes sense for them to add Irish itineraries on to their programmes.”

Tourism Ireland has undertaken a number of travel trade missions in recent weeks to places such as Moscow and St Petersburg, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Mumbai and Delhi.

“In China, Tourism Ireland will work to maximise the tourism potential of the visit of the Chinese vice president, urging potential holiday-makers there to come and follow in the footsteps of Mr Xi,” he said.

Article excerpted from www.irishtimes.com


Five Ways 2012 Academy Awards are Going Green

One of the most prestigious entertainment award shows is right around the corner. Actors, actresses, directors, writers and many other Hollywood moguls will unite at the 2012 Academy Awards on Sunday, so to help celebrate we’ve gathered the top five ways this year’s ceremony contributes to the environment. From dresses to gift bags to preparing for next year, the Oscars is sure to be a green hit.

1. Missi Pyle to Wear Sustainable Dress

The red carpet is always full of fabulous dresses. One to keep an eye on this year is Missi Pyle’s sustainable gown designed by Valentina Delfino, winner of the Red Carpet Green Dress design contest. Founded by James Cameron’s wife, Suzy Amis Cameron, the contest gives aspiring designers the chance to craft a sustainable dress for the Oscar red carpet. Delfino is this year’s lucky winner and now “The Artist” star will strut her stuff in the gown made from silk peace chiffon, recycled polyester and natural mineral dye. “It is an incredible honor for me to walk the most glamorous red carpet in the world in such a stunning and meaningful dress,” Pyle said.

2. Celebs Dine with Fresh California Cuisine

After hours of sitting in the audience, Academy Award attendees get famished, so thankfully they have Wolfgang Puck preparing delicious food. The famous chef will be cooking over 50 dishes for 1,500 guests at the Governors Ball in the Hollywood & Highland’s Grand Ballroom. For the past 18 years, Puck has showcased his talent and this year his buffet and lounge style food will feature fresh California produce and sustainable seafood. The menu includes beet salad with pistachio butter, burrata and citrus balsamic, lobster tacos and traditional favorites like macaroni and cheese. However, for dessert he is serving gold-dusted chocolate Oscars, which may cause some controversy like this year’s Golden Globes.

3. Actors and Actresses Celebrate with Green Parties

It wouldn’t be the Academy Awards without a magnificent party, especially before the show even begins! With several pre-parties to choose from, two sound worthwhile. First, Global Green USA hosted its ninth annual event with favorite green celebs in attendance like Adrian Grenier, Kyra Sedgwick, Ed Begley Jr. and Sophia Bush. Bush even showed up in a Chevy Volt electric car. In addition to promoting eco-awareness, an electric Xenon “lightcycle” from Evolve will was auctioned off. Can you say sweet?! The event also raised money for Global Green’s National Green Schools initiative and the launch of its Rio Earth Summit.

The second party that was an eco-hit was the Oxfam America Dinner hosted by Vanity Fair, Zenga clothing and Colin and Livia Firth. Colin may be an Oscar-winner for his role in “The King’s Speech,” but his wife deserves an award for her eco-fashion efforts. This particular dinner benefits not only Oxfam’s international relief efforts, but also Livia’s Green Carpet Challenge that has tried to get top designers to jump on the sustainable design bandwagon. If you remember, Livia made a fashion statement at the Golden Globes with her eco-friendly Armani dress. Livia also took time to tweet about her sustainable evening wear, “Wearing gorgeous dress #BeulahLondon #GCC2012 perfect as example of relieve women out of poverty @Oxfam India.” Hopefully, we’ll see more of this on Sunday.

4. Green Gift Bags Offered to Nominees

If being nominated for an Oscar isn’t enough, nominees also receive plentiful gift bags filled with goodies. This year, organic, eco-friendly and non-toxic gifts will be given away. For the nominees in major categories who don’t win, they will receive non-toxic, food safe kitchen products from Essential Safe Productsin their “Everybody Wins at the Oscars®” nominee gift baskets. Valued at over $250, the baskets include reusable items like produce bags, stainless steel snack containers and bamboo utensil sets. A $200 ESP gift certificate will also be inside.

Academy Award nominees and presenters will luckily take home an “Academy Awards Celebrity Gift Box” from Green PolkaDot Box, a company that provides organic and natural goods. The recycled boxes will be stuffed with a one-year GPDB savings membership, $75 in reward points and 48 organic products, such as Eden’s Pumpkin Seeds, Vermont Soap’s Oatmeal Lavender bars and St. Dalfour’s Black Raspberry Conserves. Well, at least the noms (who don’t win) won’t go empty-handed, but of course I’d rather go home with an Oscar.

5. Oscars Prepare Greenness for Next Year

The Oscars aren’t even here yet, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is already planning for next year. They’ve partnered with Everyone Counts Inc. to develop an electronic voting system, rather than a paper one. This new electronic ballot will not change the traditional tabulation of Academy members’ votes. It will also remain tightly secured. Sounds like the 85th awards show is off to a good start!

It’s nice to see how the Academy Awards contribute to the environment, even in the smallest of ways. Also, be sure to check out our other gallery of “The Ten Most Charitable Oscar Nominees” and see how the most talented actors and actresses are giving back to others.

Article excerpted from www.ecorazzi.com


The 10 Greenest Presidents in U.S. History

1. The Father of a Modern Movement

In many ways, being green has never been easier, especially for politicians. The vast majority of Americans now say environmental protection is important to them, and few would vote for a leader who explicitly claims to be “anti-environment.”

But America’s highest office has long had a relationship to the planet that is anything but straightforward. Given enormous social, economic and political changes in our nation’s history, ranking presidents on green criteria is no easy task. This list couldn’t possibly reflect all the issues involved, but it is a subjective look at highlights in the evolution of environmental policy and protection.

To begin, when most Americans think of green presidents, they probably envision Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909). “TR” consistently lobbied Congress for wilderness protection, used the Forest Reserve Act of 1891 to set aside 150 million acres of timberland as public domains, and oversaw creation of the U.S. Forest Service. Roosevelt also created 50 wildlife refuges and five national parks.

Beyond those accomplishments, TR is well remembered as popularizing the ideas of good resource stewardship and respect for nature. That’s not to say everything was idyllic in those years of heavy logging, mining, urbanization and rapid human expansion, but seeds of consciousness were sown.

2. The Sweater-Wearing Efficiency Expert

In response to the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981) created the Department of Energy in 1977, with a key goal being the establishment of a national energy policy that promoted clean and alternative fuels. Carter famously installed solar panels on the White House roof and set the mansion’s thermostats at 68 degrees to save energy.

Carter’s 1977 speech calling on the country to drastically ramp up energy efficiency and conservation is truly inspiring and ahead of its time. Backing that up, in 1979, Carter implemented “corporate average fuel economy” (CAFE) standards that mandated fuel-efficient cars — although those standards would soon be relaxed.

President Carter also oversaw passage of a number of other important laws, including the Soil and Water Conservation Act, the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, the Antarctic Conservation Act, the Endangered American Wilderness Act and the Superfund Act (remember when laws that sound green actually were green?). Tighter amendments were passed on the Clean Air Act, and the Alaskan National Interest Lands Conservation Act conserved more than 100 million acres and 26 rivers in America’s Last Frontier.

Since leaving office, Carter has won world renown for his humanitarian work, particularly through Habitat for Humanity, which has recently been going green and promoting green building.

3. The Scientist, Philosopher and Idealist

Brilliant Renaissance man Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) is well known as the principal author of the Declaration of Independence. Few also know that Jefferson was an avid botanist, scientist, architect, inventor, planner and philosopher (as well as slave owner, unfortunately). Jefferson believed in respecting and working with nature, and envisioned a society of small farmers living in harmony with the environment.

As president Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark on a groundbreaking voyage of exploration and research across America, after having secured the Louisiana Purchase. So little was known about the continent by whites that the explorers were asked to look for evidence of still-living wooly mammoths. Lewis and Clark then became the first to document many of America’s indigenous species, as well as peoples.

Thomas Jefferson also founded a pioneering institution of higher learning, the University of Virginia, and advocated for good public education, including science. He also thought corporate power should be kept in check.

4. Not Perfect But Still Pretty Good

Environmentalists often sigh when they muse on Bill Clinton’s legacy (1993-2001), which isn’t as green as one might hope, particularly since he had Al Gore as Vice President. During the Clinton years resource extraction on public lands proceeded at record pace. The administration is also blamed for being unable to secure support for the Kyoto Protocol or other major efforts to prevent global warming.

Clinton did get quite a number of things done, however. He used executive orders to create 17 new national monuments, and expand four more, preserving more than 4.6 million acres, more than any other administration. Clinton also increased protection for wetlands and old-growth forests and finalized a sweeping rule that banned road building on nearly 60 million acres of wilderness in national forests. The administration also extended an existing moratorium on offshore oil leases — something that is now hotly debated.

Clinton did secure more than $3 billion — a 50% increase in annual funding — to research and develop clean energy technologies. He also strengthened the Drinking Water Act, advanced cleanup of Superfund sites, and bolstered the EPA’s ability to go after polluters (something else that wouldn’t last).

5. The Reluctant Environmentalist

Richard Nixon (1969-1974) was president during tumultuous times, and is consistently rated as one of the country’s most disliked leaders, in no small part because of his role in the Watergate scandal. But Richard Nixon had also faced tremendous pressure to do something for the environment, after 20 million people took to the streets on Earth Day in 1970.

Responding to a 60s-era public, Nixon signed the bills that established the Environmental Protection Agency and the landmark Clean Air Act. Going further, in 1972 Nixon signed the Coastal Zone Management Act; the Ocean Dumping Act; the Marine Mammal Protection Act; the Federal Insecticide, Fungide, Rodenticide Act; and the Toxic Substances Control Act. Nixon’s term also saw passage of the Endangered Species Act in 1973 and the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1974.

6. The Soil Savior

Inheriting a deeply troubled country in the throes of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945) showed innovative leadership. In order to put people to work and improve and protect the landscape, FDR created the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Part of his New Deal, more than 2.5 million Americans planted millions of trees, opened summer camps, improved parks and trails, battled soil erosion and safeguarded other infrastructure and the environment.

FDR’s terms also saw creation of the Soil Conservation Service and the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act. Soil began to be viewed as an invaluable, and largely non-renewable, resource, and measures were taken to promote long-term productivity and soil health. The country truly began to realize the importance of protecting natural wealth for future generations.

7. The Great Unifier

Consistently rated as America’s greatest president, Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865) is best known for leading the country through the Civil War and ending slavery. Few people also know that the “Rail Splitter” did quite a bit to protect the environment as well.

Lincoln established California’s spectacular Yosemite Valley and its Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias as a public trust, marking the first time land was set aside specifically for public enjoyment (and laying the groundwork for the national parks system).

In 1862 Lincoln established the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In 1863 he authorized the establishment of the National Academy of Sciences, which would go on to lead the world in promoting and fostering innovation.

8. The Greenest First Lady

Controversial for his authoritative style and role in the Vietnam War, Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969) also spearheaded civil rights laws, and his “Great Society” bolstered education and established Medicare, Medicaid and other social programs, as well as several environmental initiatives.

Johnson’s policies supported urban renewal, beautification and conservation. In 1964 the president signed the Wilderness Act, which was written by the Wilderness Society, and which protected more than 9 million acres of federal land. The Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964 provided matching grants for large-scale rail projects.

These days, greens probably remember LBJ best for his wife, the venerable Lady Bird Johnson, who tirelessly advocated for protection of natural resources. The First Lady promoted parks and beautification projects, fought to restrict billboards and worked to protect and plant millions of wildflowers. She is famous for saying “where flowers bloom, so does hope.” Lady Bird continued her conservation work until she died in 2007.

9. The Well-Meaning Progressive

Often regarded as among the brightest presidents, Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921) had been a leading intellectual of the Progressive Era. He led a Democratic Congress to pass major legislation that included the Federal Trade Commission, the Clayton Antitrust Act, the Federal Farm Loan Act and the Federal Reserve System.

Wilson oversaw creation of the National Park Service in 1916, which has long been considered one of the great treasures of the nation. He also spearheaded the Smith-Lever Act of 1914, which established cooperative extension services through the land-grant universities to disseminate information on agriculture and other topics.

Wilson’s anti-trust and labor laws probably helped set the stage for future environmental regulations, by increasing government oversight of corporate America.

10. Laying the Foundations

Like many Americans at the time, John F. Kennedy (1961-1963) was reportedly influenced by Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking book Silent Spring. As a result the president established a committee to investigate the impacts of pesticides on health and the environment. The subsequent report was critical of the industry and lax government policies.

This investigation would help lay the groundwork for the establishment of the EPA and modern environmental protection laws.

JFK’s brother (and attorney general) Robert F. Kennedy spoke passionately about the need to curtail consumption and protect the planet in 1968, shortly before he was assassinated. Today, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. serves as one of the country’s leading advocate lawyers and environmentalists.

What Will Be President Obama’s Legacy?

It’s too early to judge Obama’s full environmental record, but so far his administration has successfully rolled back some Bush-era challenges (such as the Global Gag Rule on family planning aid and an attempted sell-off of “roadless” wilderness areas). Obama’s EPA under Lisa Jackson has returned to the business of fining polluters and attempting to address global warming.

Many greens, international leaders and global citizens are deeply disappointed that Obama has failed to show strong leadership on aggressive mitigation of climate change, though Obama supporters are quick to point fingers at vehement opposition from the GOP. Similarly, the president has not been able to stop the mountaintop removal mining juggernaut. For their part, the Center for Biological Diversity gave Obama a grade of C- for the first half of his term, also citing the administration’s failure to ban lead ammunition and fishing tackle and for only listing eight new endangered species in the lower 48.

Obama has earned praise for supporting electric vehicles and clean energy, although actual progress remains to be seen, given budgetary woes, political bickering and the entrenched power of fossil fuels.

Article excerpted from www.thedailygreen.com


Interface Studio Architects Break Out Of The Box With Wild Parking Garage Design

© Interface Studio Architects

Interface Studio Architects won TreeHugger’s Best of Green prize in 2010 for their gritty urban work. They demonstrated a paradigm-busting playfulness with their frenetic Granary project. They write: “We believe that creativity and innovation are triggered by limitations.”

© Interface Studio Architects

But clearly, when there are no limitations, they go a bit wild and crazy, as they appear to have while competing to design a parking garage in Hong Kong. They describe the project:

This brief requested an innovative, integrated, and flamboyant approach to structured automobile parking. Our proposal looks to weave parking with other dynamic urban programs such as an athletic field, shopping, cafes, stormwater management, and green spaces. The 1,200 space garage is driven by an internal slope logic of cars, water and people that is deformed by urban forces such as key physical connections and views. The project aims to demonstrate a method of taking mundane urban programming through a remixing and amplification process resulting in something uniquely Hong Kong.

© Interface Studio Architects

Most parking lots are pretty tedious places, simply storage. ISA turns it into an experience, a scenic drive, telling ArchDaily:

Unlike more typical new developments which continue to emulate western approaches to hiding cars, our proposal looks to capture new potentials for Hong Kong’s infrastructural personality by integrating the ritual of “the drive” with mixed programs.

© Interface Studio Architects

I am not fond of above grade parking garages, particularly when they toss around the word “sustainable,” which appeared on ArchDaily. But this one seems like it would be rather fun, with its athletic field, shopping, cafes and green spaces, like a giant vertical drive-in in a city where nobody drives. More at Interface Studio Architects

Article excerpted from www.treehugger.com


Ten great eco-friendly gadgets for 2012

The tech world is going green everyday. In the wake of looming energy crisis, the tech makers produce lots of eco-friendly gadgets. Consumers are willing to buy and test green products, which not only cut their electric bills, but also help reduce their carbon footprints. Out in stores there are too many eco-friendly gadgets and accessories for grabs. Here we review ten great eco-friendly products for this year. Most of them were displayed at the International CES 2012 in Las Vegas.

OLPC XO-3 Tablet
One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) has unveiled its solar powered XO3- Tablet at CES 2012. The 8-inch tablet with an HD display is meant for education purposes in developing countries, where electricity is still not accessible to many people. What makes the XO-3 notable is that it works on solar panels and it has a price tag of just $100.

SolarKindle
SolarFocus’ SolarKindle is a solar powered case for Amazon Kindle eReader. It is touted as the world’s first solar panel-backed case for an eReader. The case is manufactured using lightweight solar cells, which produce and store power in a built-in battery. The stored power can provide additional battery for your Kindle. The case also has an integrated LED lamp, which will light up 50 hours without using your eReader’s battery. The case is priced at $79.99 and it weighs 7.58 ounces.

Wagan Tech Portable Solar Power Generators
Wagan Tech has surfaced two versions of portable solar power generators; the Solar e Power Cube 1500 and Solar e Power Case 450. Both machines are meant to generate solar power using a set of solar panels. They also come with AGM/gel hybrid battery and Wagan’s power invertors to store and turn the solar energy to AC power. Wagan Tech will bring the solar generators into stores for around $1100 in Q2 this year.

AOC 22-inch HD USB-based monitor
Leading display maker AOC has surfaced a 22-inch USB monitor at CES 2012. It is an eco-friendly monitor, because it consumes less power and is mercury free. In addition, it is manufactured of recycled materials.  The monitor features 1920 x 1080 resolution at 60 Hz and it will work with Windows 7/Vista/XP and recent Mac OS versions. The high-clarity display comes for a price of just $199.

PowerTrekk mobile charger
PowerTrekk is a portable mobile charger that makes use of water to produce power to charge your smartphones or other devices. The charger produces hydrogen through a chemical reaction as it mixes water with a chemical substance, called sodium silicide in a cartridge. The produced hydrogen generates power to charge your handsets. The PowerTrekk mobile charger comes for $200 and the cartridge is priced at $4.

Eton Rukus solar powered Bluetooth speaker system
Eton’s Rukus portable Bluetooth speaker has received a solar powered version. The new speaker system comes with an E ink display and two full-range speaker drivers to provide better clarity sound. The Rukus portable speaker can stream content from any Bluetooth-enabled devices including your smartphones and tablets. Eton is to sell the product for a price of $150 in the second quarter of the year.

Eco ATM gadget recycler
Eco ATM is not to withdraw money from your bank account. It is an eco-friendly automated kiosk that will give you money if you dispose e-waste in it. A San Diego-based company has developed the Eco ATM gadget recycler making use of high-tech machine vision and artificial intelligence. The dumped e-waste is to be recycled for new products.

Panasonic DMP-BDT320 Eco Blu-ray Player
Panasonic’s CES 2012-demoed DMP-BDT320 Eco Blu-ray player comes with a special eco-friendly feature called, the Smart Sensor. The sensor is meant for intuitive power management as it can identify the movements of its user. The Blu-ray player can switch to the start mode once the user comes within 16 feet radio of the player. This system is highly useful in saving the power the Blu-ray player consumes.

SmartLook Home Energy Display
SmartLook Home Energy display is the latest generation of energy consumption meter from Wireless Glue Networks. The new SmartLook display provides real-time information on the energy use in your house. You can see all details regarding power consumption in your house in a day, week or month. It will largely help you bring down the level of consumption.

The House of Marley Bag of Rhythm
The House of Marley has unveiled an attractive Bag of Rhythm Portable Sound System to dock your iPod and iPhone. The travel bag-shaped speaker system is made of FSC-certified renewable birch wood and cotton canvas. The boombox can bring you crisp and clear sound from your iPhone, iPod or other devices.

Article excerpted from nvonews.com


The girl who silenced the world…

An extraordinary speech that silenced the world at a United Nations meeting. A speech on the environment and how we must do our part to save Mother Nature. We do not have time anymore – we NEED to ACT. It is built in us, so why waste more time? Do we only realise when a child speaks the hard truth? Let us all do our part – for us, our future, their future.

“If you do not know how to fix it, please do not break it”

A big thank you to leeks5229 and YouTube


10 Ways to Reuse Coffee Grounds

Photo by Flickr User Theogeo

Over 50 percent of Americans drink coffee on a daily basis, and among those coffee drinkers, most drink three cups a day. It adds up to at least  330 million cups of coffee a day. That’s a lot of coffee grounds. While many people throw these grounds out in the garbage, doing so only sends them to a landfill where they will decompose and release methane, a greenhouse gas.

If you have a compost pile or are lucky enough to live in a green city like San Francisco that collects compost items with the recycling and garbage bins, the grounds can be composted. The grounds are very nutrient-rich for plants that thrive in acidic soils such as tomatoes and carrots.

Used coffee grounds can also be used in do-it-yourself beauty products. To create a face cleansing mask, mix coffee grounds with mashed up avocados. For your hair, rub coffee grounds through wet hair. Rinse well. The grounds should add shine and softness to your hair.

It is also believed that used coffee grounds can repel ants and other pests. Place the grounds near entry points in your house where the animals may be able to get in, or you can use the grounds in a garden where certain pests hang out.

Coffee grounds may also be used to scour dirty dishes and as a replacement for baking soda as a deodorizer in a refrigerator.

Mix the grounds in water to create a natural brown dye.

Another favorite tip is to sprinkle the grounds over fireplace ashes. When cleaning out the ashes, you will have much less dust.

Don’t drink coffee but still want to try some of these reuse options? Ask your local coffee vendor for grounds. Even chains like Starbucks have begun putting out their used coffee grounds in packages for customers to take free of charge.

Article excerpted from www.organicbugblog.com


What does it mean to be a Green Designer?

To be a green designer means to think about our environment and to practice sustainable design. This includes using non-toxic recyclable materials and saving on energy and resources where we can. The ultimate aim of practicing sustainable design, is to reduce waste, use as little resources as possible, and the resources that are used, should be unharmful to our environment and re-usable.

Why should I go green?

As a graphic designer, your job is to produce creative ideas to promote your client’s message effectively. By promoting a greener image, you are adding value to your relationship with the client. Consider that consumers have never decided against a product because it is green, but they have and will decide not to buy it if it isn’t. In fact, 82% of consumers are focused on buying green products and services. Customers are becoming more drawn to going paperless, recycled products, bio-degradable products and low emission products.

Companies that are supporting the eco-friendly movement are also seeing increasing numbers in their sales. Many companies are opting for the ‘greener’ option not only because they are contributing to a better, healthier Earth, but because it saves on costs:

  • Less print costs
  • Less shipping costs
  • Less energy costs

How can I practice green design?

By creating a greener image, we are creating awareness of our environment. By creating a greener product, we are taking the step of saving it.

The first step is to become aware as the designer. You’ve heard about the three R’s and why we should be doing it, everyone has; but has it become something you think about daily?

Start with your own surroundings:

  • Are you using energy efficient light bulbs?
  • Are you turning off your pc/appliances when you’re finished?
  • Are you using more paper than needed?
  • Are you printing more than necessary?
  • Can you reduce your own waste materials?
  • Do you have recycling methods in place?

The next step is to think about how your work is impacting the environment. Did you know that for every ton of paper that is recycled, the following is saved: 7,000 gallons of water; 380 gallons of oil; and enough electricity to power an average house for six months.

When you receive a project, the importance of how it may effect our environment should be something considered in every step of the planning.

Factors to consider include:

  • Are the materials you’re using recyclable?
  • Are the materials coming from somewhere nearby?
  • Are the materials non-toxic?
  • Can you use less materials?
  • Can scrap materials be used?
  • What will happen when the user no longer needs this piece?
  • If printing, are the inks vegetable-based or soy-based

There are so many helpful resources out there supporting graphic designers to make the commitment. If you’d like to make a pledge please visit : designcanchange.org

Re-nourish is my favorite site of all. It includes fantastic tools to help, including a project calculator, paper finder and green printer finder. It also includes standards on design sustainability and includes the best case studies on companies that have gone green. Another inspiring and helpful resource is the ‘big book of green design’, which shows numerous examples of projects and explains why they are green.

Don’t be frightened to think of green design as being limited… it’s just another opportunity to think outside the box and get creative!

Article excerpted from www.creativeoverflow.net


Everyday Green in 4 Simple Steps By Terra Wellington

Many super-busy parents cringe in fear when they see the words “go green,” thinking they don’t have the time or the money to do it, especially in this economy. But the reality is, there are simple ways for families to begin to ease into green living. It is possible to find a way to make healthy choices and protect the planet within the resources we have at our disposal.

So, what are the next steps? There are many things that most of us already do each day that can be slightly altered to inspire you to create eco-habits, instead of eco-obligations. Here are some ideas:

Veg Out 
Try eating less meat — especially red meat. Cows require a lot of feed or grass to survive, they pollute water with their waste, and produce a large amount of greenhouse gases. For you and your family, eating a lot of meat can be strenuous on your digestive system and disagreeable for your overall health. Since you have to shop for food and make meals anyway, why not change it up and eat vegetarian a few times a week. Again, it’s about habits.

Simply Recycle 
Each piece of your trash has a final destination. You have landfill trash, recyclables, compostables, green waste, and donations. Create an easy way for everyone at home to sort their trash into one of these five areas – all on the fly. Make the process painless by having a simple system in place: regular trash bins, recycling receptacles, a bowl for compost items next to the kitchen sink, the green waste bin outside, and a box for donations in the garage.

Slow the Flow 
While it’s great to encourage family members not to waste water, a nearly effortless way to improve on those results and also help your bottom line is to install low-flow fixtures and low-flow toilets. You can easily exchange your showerhead for a water-saving variety that saves a gallon of water a minute. A faucet aerator for the kitchen or bathroom is a cheap replacement and can immediately cut water consumption in half.

Those Shoes are Made for Walking
Are you used to jumping in the car just to pick up milk from the corner store? Before you grab the keys, consider walking instead – to run errands, to get exercise, to go to the park for recreation. Have your children go with you. And as your children get older, they can take on these errands themselves. Walking is free, saves energy, produces no emissions (unless you count the production of the clothes and shoes you wear), and keeps you healthy. Viva la green!

Terra Wellington is the author of The Mom’s Guide to Growing Your Family Green: Saving the Earth Begins at Home. She encourages her kids to walk or ride their bikes to school whenever possible, and she gets her cardio outside for free on most days instead of driving to the gym.

Article excerpted from www.family.go.com

We don’t need to spend a lot to support Go Green action. By following all the 4 simple steps above, this will definitely make a big changes. Let’s start practicing and become a good habit.


20 Interesting Facts About Plastics

If you read environmental web sites regularly, then you’re aware about the damage that the plastics make to the planet. However, we chose 20 Facts About Plastics that will make you think about it once again and make you sure that you’ve done the right thing when you decided to go green. If not, then you have to know these facts, because the environment needs it.

1. Plastic needs about 450 just to start decomposing. Then, it takes another 50-80 years to decompose completely.

2. That means that every single produced piece of plastic has not decomposed yet.

3. The average American consumed 1.6 gallons of bottled water in 1976. In 2006, that number jumped to 28.3 gallons. Fortunately, the total weight of the bottles was reduced during that period.

4. Even 40% of the total house plastic waste of average American family is due to the use of plastic bottles.

5. Another interesting fact about plastics and your money: 90% of the price you pay for the bottled water goes to the plastic bottle, while the water cost you only 10% of the money you give.

6. The average American buys 167 bottles of water per year, avoiding using any alternatives.

7. 24 million gallons of oil are needed for producing of billion plastic bottles.

8. Only 25 recycled bottles are enough to make one adult’s fleece jacket.

9. Europeans are not that interested in recycling. They currently recycle only 2.5% of the plastic bottles they use.

10. Sad but true, the worldwide fishing industry throws huge amounts of plastic garbage in the oceans. Amazing 150,000 tons go into the water every year, including packaging, plastic nets, lines and buoys.

11. This thrash causes death of many animals in the seas, which mistake the garbage for food. Estimations say that the number of killed animals is over one million.

12. Over 13 billion of plastic bags are produced every year, which are about 300 per adult. A number of 300 bags for 365 days are just too much!

13. In recent years the plastic recycling business in the United States is nearly tripled. There are more than 1600 businesses involved in recycling plastics.

14. However, the recycling rate remains steady at 27% (in United States), as the production of the plastics grows.

15. Recycling a single plastic bottle can conserve enough energy to light a 60W bulb for up to 6 hours.

16. Recycling plastics can save up to 2/3 of the needed energy for producing plastic from raw materials.

17. Four out of five bags in the United States are plastic.

18. Surveys show that more than 90 percent of consumers reuse their plastic bags at least once for things like wastebasket lines or lunch totes.

19. Bottling and shipping water is the least energy efficient method ever used to supply water. Unfortunately, it remains the most popular one.

20. There are many countries which have banned or restricted the use of plastic bags. Australia, China, Austria, Bangladesh, Ireland and several European Union countries are among them.

Article excerpted from www.green-buzz.net


Go Green with Envy!

Go green with envy!

Green is amazing. It is next to nature and an eco-friendly colour. Imagine decorating your home with green. That simply means you are transferring nature into your home. How and where do you start the green revolution?

Restroom/bathrooms: They are always a good place for inspiration. You get refreshed and revitalised when you have a shower or heed nature’s call in a green environment.

Kitchen: From your kitchen shelves to appliances, you go all green and enjoy brightness everywhere especially when they are in the bright hue.

Accessories: Why not decorate the walls of your home with different green accessories? Mind you, you should allow your theme match perfectly.

Pillows and wall art: When pillows and wall arts are in green colour, they transfer a sense of well-being and energy into the home. Try mixing the colour with yellow undertones too.

Nursery/children’s room: By now, you should know that green is kid-friendly. When mixed with other nursery colours, green could blow the mind! Sometimes it is the children’s favourite, so try and creatively turn their rooms to green.

Men’s room: The good thing about green colour is that it is not gender specific, unlike the pink, black or blue. You can choose the masculine one for some of your men’s rooms.

The bedroom: Imagine a green bedroom! You will sleep well, be more relaxed and live next to nature.

House plants: Don’t forget the green environment which starts with plants. Have a collection of more green plants in your garden and as indoor plants.

Article excerpted from www.nigerianbestforum.com

This is interesting!! “Go Green” can actually create a beautiful living place, that’s really a brilliant idea. Start decorate your house or comfort zone with juicy and creative ideas of “Go Green!”


7 Cheap Ways to Go Green

One of the myths of being eco-friendly is that it takes a lot of money. While some large-scale changes may require a chunk of change, such as buying a tankless water heater or adding solar panels to your roof, the majority of going green choices don’t have to cost a fortune. Here are 7 ways to go green on the cheap.

Be a Friend to Farmers
The best prices on organic produce are usually close to home at your local farmers’ market. Organic is best for your body and the planet. By shopping more directly with the organic producers you can not only save money but also put more cash in the farmers’ pockets and support local food production. Find out more about living and eating organically.

Clean for Under a Buck
Did you know that you can clean most of your house with a non-toxic cleaner that usually costs less than a dollar? That magic bullet is baking soda. A little water and baking soda makes a terrific cleaning paste for tubs, sinks, stoves, and other surfaces. Its whitening effect is great for cleaning grout. Add a handful to your whites in the wash for brighter clothes. Baking soda is also a great deodorizer, and it won’t irritate your lungs.

Fertilize with Garbage
One of the great benefits of eating is that there’s waste. Seriously. Put your food scraps to work in an at-home compost and voila! You’ll have a free supply of soil amendment and mulch from the compost that can also be used as fertilizer for your lawn and garden. Compost is organic and non-toxic, extremely healthy for plants and the soil, and gives back to the planet with minimal effort from you.

Super Sun Savings
Open those blinds and curtains and turn off the lights. Sunlight is free … and completely renewable. You’ll save on electricity. And sunshine is better for your body. The sun’s rays are just the right brightness and spectrum to give you more energy, better regulate your sleep patterns, and improve your mood. Sun equals smiles.

Well-Contained Lunches
Opt for reusable containers for lunches whenever possible. You have a one-time investment on the containers that can save you a boatload – throwaway baggies and individually packaged lunch items (like juice boxes and applesauce cups) are much more expensive than if you filled up reusable containers at home with juice, fruit, and a sandwich. And that means less goes to the landfill too.

Old News is Good News
Have a package to send? Avoid the expense and waste of bubble wrap. Instead, reach for yesterday’s newspaper as packing material. It might seem old fashioned, but what was good for grandma is still good for you.

Save Money and Miles
Put on your thinking cap next time you plan errands and schedule them together on a miles-saving route. By strategically combining errands and avoiding unplanned trips to the store, you’ll save gas and make your wallet a little fatter. Plus, you’ll be spewing less pollution into the air from your car.

Article excerpted from http://family.go.com/

Go green is a very common topic, and there are actually so many ways to go green. How about you? Have you done your part?


Going Green: Pet owners can reduce, reuse, and recycle

ROCKFORD (WREX) – Winnebago County Animal Services has tips for people with pets, looking to go green.

It says there are simple things you can do, that are better for the environment.  Here’s a list:

  • Reuse plastic grocery bags as pooper scoopers. Be a responsible pet owner and pick up after your pet.
  • Choose a biodegradable cat litter or one that is made from recycled products.
  • Recycle as much packaging as you can or choose pet products with little or no packaging.
  • Reuse old fish tank water around your flower garden or to water your houseplants. Don’t waste it by flushing it down the drain.
  • Reuse the old water from your pet’s water bowl for your plants too.
  • Recycle cardboard tubes from toilet paper rolls and cut into 1-inch rings to make great cat toys. Animal Services uses these for toys in our cat cages.
  • Recycle gently used pet supplies. Donate them to a shelter or a resale shop that supports animal rescue.
  • Recycle your aluminum cans and donate the money to a local shelter or rescue group.
  • Recycle old bath towels by donating them to a local animal shelter or rescue group.

WCAS also says adopting or rescuing a pet is also a green option. All adult cats are available this week for $15.  If you’d like more information go to www.wcasrock.org.

Article excerpted from www.wrex.com


UPDATE: Hershey taking going green to a new level

New solar panels at Hershey’s Chocolate World.

Millions of visitors will experience The Hershey Company’s environmental stewardship as a result of new solar arrays and electric vehicle charging stations at the Hershey’s Chocolate World attraction.

“The Hershey Company has a long history of being a good steward of the environment. Caring for the environment is a key element of our Corporate Social Responsibility strategy,” said James George, Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility, The Hershey Company. “Bringing this solar power capability to Hershey’s Chocolate World is an example of the many ways we are minimizing our environmental impact and helping to build a better world.”

The company has installed 1,092 solar panels on canopies in the parking lot at Hershey’s Chocolate World attraction, The Hershey Company’s visitor experience in Hershey, Pa., and the most visited corporate visitor’s center in the world.  Hershey’s Chocolate World features Hershey’s Great American Chocolate Tour® ride, Hershey’s Chocolate Tasting Adventure™ and the Hershey’s Create Your Own Candy Bar attraction, which draw more than three million visitors to the facility each year. In addition, the company has also installed 182 panels on the roof of its Technical Center a few miles away, where the company conducts the research, development and engineering to create new product innovations.

Together, the two solar arrays are expected to generate an estimated 318 megawatt-hours (MWh) per year – 273 MWh at Hershey’s Chocolate World attraction and 45 MWh at the Hershey Technical Center – and will eliminate hundreds of metric tons of greenhouse gases each year.

Hershey has also installed two electric vehicle charging stations at Hershey’s Chocolate World, enabling visitors to recharge their electric vehicles while they enjoy the attractions inside. These are the only public electric vehicle charging facilities currently available in Central Pennsylvania.

Hershey’s Chocolate World has undertaken several initiatives in the past year to reduce its overall energy needs.  These include a low-energy lighting project that replaced lighting in all office and warehouse areas with low energy fixtures and motion sensors with automatic shut-off to reduce energy usage, installing two Smart Chillers that cool the building more efficiently, and achieving negative waste status in 2010 by recycling more waste than the facility sent to the landfill.  Hershey’s Chocolate World attraction will continue to reduce its energy needs this fall by installing a new high-efficiency boiler system.

To reinforce the importance of environmental responsibility and share information about The Hershey Company’s programs, “Green Kiosks” have been installed at the entrance of the Hershey’s Great American ChocolateTour® ride inside Hershey’s Chocolate World.  The kiosks provide visitors with real-time weather and energy information; details about Hershey’s solar project and vehicle charging stations; and information about the company’s fuel, energy, and waste reduction efforts as well as water conservation and sustainable packaging programs.

“As we kick off our summer season at Hershey’s Chocolate World attraction, we are excited to share our environmental story with the millions of guests we will host this year,” said Amy Hahn, Vice President and General Manager, Global Hershey Experience & Licensing.  “Visitors to Hershey’s Chocolate World attraction will have fun learning through interactive and educational kiosks how Hershey has taken steps to lessen its impact on the environment.”

Article excerpted from www.whptv.com


Staff follow the boss’s example and go green

editorial image

17/5/2011 (CO) Staff at Tri-Synergy Ltd in Havant are taking part in the Big Green Commuter Challenge and have been cycling and car sharing to get to work. Pictured is: (l-r) Dale Pepper, web developer, Daniel Petts, business development, Rachel Stevens, web developer, Tracy Hodges, internet marketer, Harriet Baker, business development, Tina Webb, managing director, Sam Burdekin, account manager and Adam Osborne, graphic designer. Picture: Sarah Standing (111807-4858)

WHEN your boss leads from the front and decides to cycle to work it’s only natural that you might feel obliged to follow suit.

But employees at a Havant firm have needed little encouragement from their managing director to join a green crusade this week and find other ways of getting to work.

Staff at marketing firm Tri-Synergy in Downley Road are getting on their bikes, sharing cars, using the train or simply walking to work as part of the area’s annual Big Green Commuter Challenge.

Last year their combined efforts won the award for most car miles saved and biggest carbon footprint reduction in the Havant area.

It was the first time the borough had taken part in the event which is co-ordinated by Portsmouth City Council and is now in its ninth year.

Managing director Tina Webb is riding her bike to the office from her Hayling Island home.

She said: ‘What’s good about having a week like this is that it kick-starts something bigger.

‘Last year’s was not a one-week wonder but something which has become a habit for many of us here.

‘I’m not going to pretend I ride my bike in every day, but I do it as often as I can.’

She said last year’s event had sown the seed for altering her staff’s travel methods.

‘We’re now much more sensible about holding meetings away from the office when we could do them on the phone and getting staff to go to two appointments when they are out instead of making a couple of separate trips.’

By ditching their cars in favour of bicycles, shanks’s pony, motorbikes, trains and working from home, each member of Tina’s team saved 47.13 miles during the week in 2010.

The total number of miles saved during the seven-day initiative was 377.

She added: ‘Half our staff swapped four wheels for two and pedalled a total of 183 miles during the week. The remaining 50 per cent tried to reduce their impact on the environment by car-sharing, walking, working from home or commuting by more fuel-efficient sustainable transport.

‘Every single member of our team enthusiastically participated and it was a great way to encourage them towards adopting healthier options for themselves and our planet.

‘We are proud of our green credentials and take our responsibilities towards the environment very seriously.’

During last year’s challenge across the Portsmouth, Havant, Fareham and Gosport area, more than 1,000 people took part. They saved more than 78,500 car miles and nearly 31,000kg of polluting emissions. This year’s week-long challenge ends on Sunday.

Article excerpted from www.portsmouth.co.uk


How Green Are You Really? Take Our “Never Have I Ever” Quiz.

To play this revealing party game, check out these scenarios and click the ones you’ve done. If you haven’t done either, then pick the one you’re most likely to do. If you’ve done both pick the one you feel more guilty about.

Take the quiz here!

Quiz courtesy of www.thedailygreen.com


More Eco-Sex: Eco-Babes in the Bedroom

Stefanie Iris Weiss, author of Eco-Sex

Eco-sex isn’t just about you and a partner. Pull that sex toy out of your nightstand drawer and take a good, hard look at it. Perhaps it has brought you much pleasure, but did you ever stop to think about what it’s actually made of? Considering where the thing goes, you really should take stock of the materials that give your little friend its shape and size.
Playing It Safe
The brilliant and wise team behind Smitten Kitten, an awesomely progressive sex store in Minneapolis, has initiated a campaign to enlighten the public about the dangers of sex toys and healthier alternatives. Below is their “Smart Shoppers Tool Kit” (courtesy of CATT). Use the following tools and tips to make smart, informed decisions despite ill-informed store clerks, unreliable product packaging, and overwhelming options.

1. Implement the smell test. Your sense of smell is your most reliable tool for identifying a potentially dangerous sex toy. If you smell any chemical odors or perfumes, you can assume they are a direct result of a process known as off-gassing, in which myriad, unknown chemical compounds are migrating out of the material (usually PVC or polystyrene) and contaminating the air you breathe. There is concern that these “mystery” chemicals will also migrate onto your skin and into your body during use. Safe, 100% medical-grade silicone toys do not smell because there are no chemicals present to off-gas.

2. Be wary of claims that condoms will protect you from toxic toys. If your salesperson or product literature suggests that you always use a condom over your sex toy, beware that this toy is potentially toxic. Safe sex toys made from 100% medical-grade silicone, high-quality glass, surgical steel, polished stone, or hard plastics (including acrylic) do not require the use of a condom because they can be thoroughly sanitized to prevent the exchange of microscopic organisms, including bacteria, fungi and viruses that might cause infection. Remember, to prevent the transmission of infection, you must sanitize your toy before sharing it.

3. Never take claims made on sex toy packaging at face value. There is absolutely no requirement that the product packaging for sex toys or the literature contained therein be truthful in any way. Just because packaging might say a toy is made of silicone does not mean it actually is! Sex toy manufacturers have gotten savvy (you might say tricky). They try to lure consumers to purchase products by falsely labeling them as safe. These toys are clearly labeled as silicone but contain only trace amounts of silicone and are instead riddled with much less savory ingredients!

Also, consider claims like “hygienically superior” to be baseless until convinced otherwise by your own good research or common sense. Be on the lookout for confusingly similar spellings of materials that you know are safe. For instance, never confuse silicon with silicone. The long and short story is, don’t trust the packaging without supporting evidence.

4. Be suspicious of space-age, overtly sexual or technical-sounding terms for sex toy materials. One way to spot these faux “materials” is to look for the registered trademark symbol (®) following the “material” in question. If the term in question is trademarked, this means that it is a trade name and has been registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. If you see the (™) symbol, this may mean that the user claims some exclusive rights to use the mark or word. Remember, no actual names of materials will ever be properly trademarked.

Know that these trademarked terms do not necessarily connote any specific chemical composition. They are instead marketing terms used by companies to differentiate and sell a particular product without making any specific claims or mention of the actual materials used in the production of the item in question.

This means that all of those directions about caring for “cyber” or “real” are suspect at best because these words are nothing more than a product marketing executive’s smooth attempt to seduce you into buying the product because it sounds sexier or more technical than the competitor’s.

For example, there is no reliable way to know what a toy labeled “cyber” is actually made of without full disclosure from the manufacturer or an independent chemical analysis by a qualified laboratory. Always wonder why a toy is labeled with a fancy name without also disclosing the ingredients!

To determine if a toy is safe, you must first determine the actual composition of the toy. Toys made from nontoxic and nonporous materials such as 100% medical-grade silicone, polished stone, surgical steel, high-quality solid glass, and hard plastics (including acrylic) are safe. You will notice that ® or ™ symbols are not present following actual ingredients (as opposed to those made-up marketing terms) because you cannot claim intellectual property rights on such words.

If you’ve been reluctant to green your lifestyle because it seems too complicated or even cliché, now you see why eco-sexuality is a seductive bridge to all things green. You don’t have to do it for some far-off, amorphous reason that you can’t wrap your brain around. You can simply do it because you want your sex life to maintain its sizzle while keeping the planet cool. And with all the fringe benefits of eco-sex (health, stamina, increased sensuality, consciousness expansion), how could you possibly pass it up?

Want more? Get your own copy of Eco-Sex: Go Green Between the Sheets and Make Your Love Life Sustainable.

Stefanie Iris Weiss, MA, is the author of nine books, including her latest title–Eco-Sex: Go Green Between the Sheets and Make Your Love Life Sustainable (Crown Publishing/Ten Speed Press, April 2010). She’s written about the quarter-life crisis, women’s issues, sex, the environment, dating and relationships, health and wellness, the divinatory arts, and more. Stefanie is a regular contributor to British Elle, and has written for Teen Vogue, Marie Claire, Ellegirl.com, Elle Japan, Elle Netherlands, and Zink Magazine, to name a few.

Find even more Eco-Sex tips at http://www.ecosex.net

Article excerpted from www.lifescript.com


Third Date and Beyond: Tantric Sex—Be Here Now

It’s really progressing, isn’t it? You’re ready to really impress your new “friend” without harming the environment in the process.

Tantra is a Sanskrit word that means “loom,” “weaving,” or “the carrying out of a ceremony,” depending on one’s interpretation. Tantra is all about intentionality, directing energy, breath work, and eye gazing. But don’t think only New Age types practice tantra. It’s quite eco-sexual. Tantra doesn’t use a single bit of the earth’s resources, it provides hours and hours of fun, and it raises consciousness to a whole new level.

Every Breath You Take

You don’t have to read the entire Kama Sutra or spend hours holding off on orgasm in order to experiment with tantra. Start with remembering how to breathe. Even as you sit and read these words, bring your attention to your breath and think about whether it’s flowing deeply, fast, slow, or barely at all.

A quick tantra trick is to try to synchronize your breathing to your partner’s or, in some cases, the one you’d like to be your partner. Say you’re on a date and you’re not connecting because the person sitting across from you is nervous and fidgeting. Sometimes all it takes to calm a person down is to tune in to his or her breath and match it.

Even if you can’t hear the person breathing over the clanking of dishes in a restaurant, try to get a sense of it by watching his or her chest move up and down. This can also work when you’re in bed with someone and things aren’t going well, by the way.

More than Meets the Nondominant Eye

“In tantra, sex is not an action. It is not one more thing that humans do. Sex is an energy that exists on its own,” explains Barbara Carrellas, author of Urban Tantra: Sacred Sex for the Twenty-first Century. Practitioners of tantra believe that gazing into the nondominant eye (the left if the person is right-handed, and vice versa) is a means of gazing into the soul. This can invite a somewhat frightening level of intimacy with a partner, so it’s not for the faint of heart. Carrellas suggests that you practice it by yourself, with a mirror, in order to grow brave enough to do it with a partner. She believes that you can achieve the “great cosmic orgasm” with enough practice.

Tantric Games

Here is a basic tantra exercise, one that even those who have practiced for years continue to go back to: Sit face-to-face with your partner. Maintain a gentle gaze with your left eye into your partner’s nondominant eye for several minutes.

Next, bring your awareness to the rise and fall of his or her belly and chest as your partner breathes in and out. Place your hand on his or her stomach and feel the expansion and contraction there. Notice whether you’ve synchronized your breathing. Listen to the breaths and add a sound with your exhale. Continue for at least 10 minutes. This is some serious stuff, and it can feel more intimate than sex.

Next week: More on eco-sex. Stay tuned.

Article excerpted from www.lifescript.com


Eco-Sex: The Second Date

Second Date: Into Your Lair (or His or Hers)
Once you’ve snagged yourself a like-minded potential soul mate, it’s time to show off what you know. What do eco-sexuals do on subsequent dates? Mostly the same stuff that regular people do, like having dinner. Nothing shows off your eco-knowledge like cooking an organic meal for your soon-to-be lover. Try these 2 recipes from super sexy chef Sarma Melngailis of Pure Food and Wine in New York City.

Vanilla Salad Starter
Makes 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Banyuls vinegar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons agave nectar
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • Seeds scraped from 3/4 vanilla bean
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup almond oil or other high-quality nut oil
  • 4 ripe black mission figs
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped pistachios
  • 1 teaspoon nut oil
  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • 2 cups mâche
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • 1 very small handful fresh parsley leaves

Preparation
1. Put the vinegar, agave nectar, salt, and vanilla seeds in a blender and process until completely smooth. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil and almond oil. With the blender running, slowly pour the oils into the dressing and continue to blend until emulsified.

2. Next, cut the figs into quarters and place in a small bowl. Add the agave nectar, cinnamon and a pinch of salt, and toss very gently.

3. Toss the pistachios in another small bowl with the nut oil and a pinch of salt.

4. Place the greens, mint, parsley, and pistachios with their oil into a mixing bowl and add enough of the vinaigrette to coat the leaves. Toss very gently. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. To serve, divide the greens and pistachios between two plates and top with the figs.

Yellow Squash “Fettuccine” with Creamy Pine Nut Alfredo
Makes 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups raw pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 or 3 medium goldbar or yellow summer squash
  • Sea salt
  • 1/4 cup raw pine nuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon nut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup green olives, pitted and thinly sliced
  • 1 small handful of lemon basil leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Preparation
To make Alfredo sauce:
1. Place the pine nuts in a bowl and add enough water to cover. Let sit for 1 hour or more to plump the nuts.

2. Drain the pine nuts and put them in a blender with the olive oil, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and salt. Blend until smooth. If the sauce is too thick, add a drizzle of water to thin it.

To make “fettuccine”:
1. Cut the ends off the squash. Julienne the squash on a mandoline and place it in a colander or strainer. Toss with about 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt and let sit for at least 30 minutes to soften and allow a bit of the liquid to drain out.

2. Chop the pine nuts and put them in a small bowl with the oil and a pinch of salt.

3. Place enough squash for two servings in a medium bowl. Add enough of the sauce to generously coat the “fettuccine.” Add the green olives, half of the lemon basil, and a pinch of black pepper and gently toss.

4. Divide the “fettuccine” between two shallow bowls, making tall piles. Drizzle more of the sauce around the squash. Sprinkle with the chopped pine nuts, and garnish with remaining basil leaves.

Next week: The third date. Stay tuned.

Article excerpted from www.lifescript.com


Eco-Sex: Go Green Between the Sheets and Make Your Love Life Sustainable

Looking to go green in more areas than just recycling? Don’t neglect your love life! In her forthcoming book, ECO-SEX: Go Green Between the Sheets and Make Your Love Life Sustainable (Crown Publishing/Ten Speed Press), Stefanie Iris Weiss (one of the Saturn Sisters) shares earth-friendly tips on how to date and mate. Here’s your sneak peek…

*These excerpts have been reprinted from the forthcoming book, ECO-SEX: Go Green Between the Sheets and Make Your Love Life Sustainable from Crown/Ten Speed Press with permission from Stefanie Iris Weiss.

You drive a hybrid. Your home recycling system is state of the art. You’re oh-so-good at being green—but is your sex life? Sex can be one of the lowest carbon impact forms of entertainment (and exercise) on the planet, but only if you do it right. It’s time to make your love life truly sustainable…

Sure, eco-friendly sex is good for the environment. But that doesn’t mean a thing if it’s not good for you.

Here’s a crash course in how you can be green even while getting dirty. Eco-Sex is divided into three sections. We start with courtship in part 1, move on to seduction and finally explore eco-sexual adventure in part 3.

First Date: Getting Adventurous with Seduction, the Eco-Sexual Way

You’re not a freaky nudist (not that there’s anything wrong with that). You’re just a free-stylin’ single on the make for a fellow greenie, or you’re an environmentalist in the throes of a new relationship, or perhaps you’re dating three people at once. Wherever you find yourself on this spectrum, you want to spice things up before the two of you fall into bed.

The most obvious, natural choice for an eco-friendly first (or second or third) date is anything in the great outdoors. Go hiking, biking, to the beach (even in winter), a local park, or just for a nice long walk.

Don’t get caught up in the idea that you must spend money on a date; you’re not that old-fashioned, are you? Besides, you’ll get to know your soon-to-be lover a lot better strolling through a beautiful, natural scene than you would in a loud bar or at an intimate dinner when you’re nervous as hell and on your best behavior.

A simple walk gets your blood moving, takes the pressure off, and creates instant subject matter about which you can chat. If you really want to impress another eco-sexual, set up a volunteering date. Pitch in to clean up a blighted community, help paint a school with low-VOC paints, or plant a community garden.

Next week: The second date. Stay tuned.

Article excerpted from www.lifescript.com


Kids can help family go green

Many Canadians are empowering their kids to develop and oversee eco-friendly household habits by teaching children to have a green conscience around the home.

From planting organic backyard gardens to harvesting rainwater, young “chief environment officers” are sprouting up across the country and working with their parents to reduce the size and impact of their household’s carbon footprint.

“Going green as a family can be easy and fun. Even small things like switching to energy-saving light bulbs and non-toxic cleaning products can make a big difference to your local environment and your wallet,” says Mary Desjardins, executive director of the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.

“Why not hold a family meeting to elect your own chief environment officer and brainstorm some creative ways your whole family can improve your household’s carbon footprint.”

Your carbon footprint refers to the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions, or carbon dioxide, produced as a result of your lifestyle. For example, every time you use your air conditioner or drive to the grocery store, you emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

One of Canada’s longest-serving environmental charities, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation offers six simple ways to lower your household’s carbon footprint:

– Complete an audit of toxic cleaning products, dispose of them safely and replace them with environmentally friendly ones.

– Take shorter showers and turn off the tap when you’re brushing your teeth.

– Avoid using the dryer and only wash full loads of laundry and dishes, preferably with cold water.

– Make sure everyone in the family understands which household products can be recycled and which cannot.

– Start a compost pile for food waste, and use it to nourish the soil in your vegetable and flower gardens.

– Unplug appliances when you’re not using them to avoid phantom energy use.

Article excerpted from www.delta-optimist.com


Climate change, energy & action

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Think Green…!


Pedestrian tunnel could ‘go green’

editorial image

WIND-POWERED? … the pedestrian tunnel could ‘go green’.

PART of South Tyneside’s transport heritage, celebrating its 60th anniversary this summer, will go green as part of an ambitious £6m makeover, transport bosses have revealed.A listed structure, the Tyne Pedestrian and Cyclist Tunnels, linking Jarrow and Howdon, were opened on July 24, 1951.Now the outdated tunnels are set for a major overhaul, which could include going carbon-neutral and being powered by a wind turbine.

Plans for the ambitious transport scheme – the first of its kind in the region – were announced at a meeting of Jarrow community area forum this week.

The scheme includes, the removal of the existing wooden escalators and the installation of new inclined lifts, similar to those operating near the Millennium Bridge in London.

A unit capable of carrying up to 26 passengers, plus bicycles and full-size scooters, would be fully glazed, allowing people to view much of the structure and workings of the historic river tunnels.

Cliff Jessett, project manager of the New Tyne Crossing, said: “We’re interested in energy generation and this could include creating power for the tunnels with a wind turbine, like the one at the Eco Centre, in Hebburn.

“The aim is to keep energy levels low and we are confident we can create a carbon-neutral listed structure.”

The tunnels have been subject to numerous breakdowns, with parts being very difficult to source for the 60-year-old transport link, which was granted Grade 11 listed status in 2000.

“Basically, the tunnels are looking ‘tired’ and are coming to end of their natural life, and need to be replaced,” Mr Jessett added.

The £6m conservation scheme approved last year by Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority, will also include new lighting and CCTV systems, plus paving and tiling.

Work on the scheme could start either late this year or early 2012, dependent on planning permission and listed building consent.

Celebrations are also in the planning stages for the tunnels’ 60th anniversary in July.


Article excerpted from www.shieldsgazette.com


Old plastic bags recycled in Cambodia

With its dirt floors and rough backyard it’s hard to imagine this being the birthplace of anything artistic or creative.

But in this humble shack in the south Cambodian town of Kampot, beautiful handicrafts are being carefully created.

Brightly coloured bowls, bags, belts and other products are made here and shipped halfway round the world to the United States.

The products are made by Reloop Designs and are the brainchild of Ruth Yoffe.

An eco-tour group asked her to travel to Kampot in the south of Cambodia and volunteer her expertise to create products from used plastic bags in 2007.

Ruth invested a huge amount of her own time and money trying to make a difference in the small province.

Kampot is a sleepy riverside town and feels a world away from the dusty hustle and bustle of the country’s capital Phnom Penh.

And while the area is home to beautiful sunsets, picturesque rural villages and friendly locals, plastic bags drift everywhere – at the football park, in the river, in trees and on the roadsides.

Ruth’s goal in creating Reloop was to build a company that not only helped clean up Kampot but also helped its inhabitants.

She set about teaching artisan skills to poor and disabled members of the community.

Ruth’s company employs locals to collect bags from around the town.

The bags are rigorously cleaned, dried and then cut into strips and made into yarn ready to be used to crochet bags, belts and bowls.

The process seems simple enough but setting up the enterprise was far from easy.

Coming to grips with the intricacies of customs and shipping from Cambodia to the US was also a steep learning curve.

In spite of frustrations and setbacks Ruth says she has a winning formula.

“I believe this project has great potential not only in Kampot but other parts of Cambodia and South East Asia.

“The efforts and appreciation of everyone I work with in Cambodia are rewarding in themselves,” she says.

One-third of Cambodians live below the poverty line with the average daily wage being about NZ$3 a day.

The artisans are paid a retainer and then an amount for each piece they produce, earning them a fair wage.

Leb Sim has been working for the company as project manager for eight months. He loves his job because he gets to make a difference in the town he loves.

“In Cambodia many people do not care about the environment so I want to be one of the model people to help clean up the environment in Kampot as well as in the whole of Cambodia.”

Ruth’s next goal is to find an organisation that has the business development expertise to take the Reloop model and help it grow.

“My experience in Kampot has been touched by the individuals I have met,” she says. “I am always impressed by their tenacity, their joy of life and determination to help themselves.”

Ben Watson travelled to Cambodia with the help of the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

– North Shore Times

Article excerpted from www.stuff.co.nz


Top 10 Green Pranks for April Fools Day

iStock_000007363587XSmall.jpg

Spice up your April Fools Day with some pranks that will either help green the world or at least won’t generate waste. Here are our top 10 ideas for a greener April 1st.

  1. Substitute a vegetarian patty for a meat patty at dinner – Morningstar Farms makes chick nuggets, chick patties and grillers prime veggie burgers with the taste and texture of real meat. Then again, your family or housemates might not notice the difference.
  2. Guerrilla gardening – Plant a native plant in a neighbor’s yard late at night.
  3. Rearrange the furniture – One year, a mom came home to find the dinner table nicely set, but in the living room. The living room furniture was in the dining room. Hanging from fishing line throughout the house were scissors, combs, nails, and dirty socks. The kids had also moved all the refrigerated food to the bathtub and placed canned goods under their beds.
  4. Play with the car – Surprise your roommate or spouse by turning on the wiper blades, cranking up the stereo, putting the air conditioning on max setting, and pushing the seats forward and reclined all the way back.
  5. Fill the tub with newspaper – Crumple up all your recyclable newspaper and fill the bathtub. The next person who tries to take a shower will be surprised.
  6. Misplaced coffee cup – Tape magnets to the bottom of an empty coffee cup, and attach it to the top of your car. Other motorists will frantically try to get your attention as you drive by.
  7. Frozen mouse – Take a Post-It note and place it over the eye of the victim’s optical mouse. When the victim tries to use his or her computer, the cursor won’t move. Be sure to write “April Fools!” on the note!
  8. Ransom note – Take an item from the victim’s office (something they use a lot such as a special coffee cup, stapler, pencil cup, etc.). Take a picture of the item and leave it on the victim’s desk (in the same spot where the item was located), along with a “ransom” note.
  9. Switching cereal – Take all the cereal in the house, remove the plastic bags from the boxes, and switch them around. When the victim tries to eat breakfast they will do a double-take when the wrong cereal pours out.
  10. If you’re feeling really immature… With the victim looking on, pretend you see a fly in the room. Grab a fly swatter and chase it around for awhile. Then make a big swat, reach down and grab the “fly” (actually a raisin you’ve concealed in your hand), and gobble it down.

Do you have any low environmental impact practical jokes? Share them here.

Article excerpted from www.greenwala.com



Don’t Idle Away Your Car’s Gas

Save money, cut emissions and reduce wear on your engine.
eco tip for idling your carPhoto: Jim Jurica / Istock

Every moment you spend idling your car’s engine means time spent needlessly wasting gas, as well as rougher wear on your vehicle. So give it a rest, and avoid idling through your days.

One of the ways the much-praised Toyota Prius is able to achieve such impressive fuel economy is by having a computer cut out idling automatically: when you aren’t making headway, the gas engine shuts off. For regular cars, it doesn’t make sense to shut off the engine at every stop sign. (Even though Environmental Defense found that idling for more than 10 seconds wastes more gas than is required for startup.) But, you should certainly kill it when you are waiting for your date to finish getting ready. Or when your honey has to run into the bank to cash a check.

Overall, idling Americans burn 2.9 billion gallons of gas a year, worth around $78.2 billion, according to a recent report from Texas A&M. That doesn’t count the damage done to idling engines by incompletely burned fuel.

Many communities have organized “no idling zones” around schools, churches and other locations. At least 15 states, and many counties, have laws that restrict idling for large diesel engines. New York City and New Jersey have laws limiting idle times of passenger vehicles, but enforcement is lax.

Article excerpted from www.thedailygreen.com


In a World of Green, What Does it all Mean?

Upcycle, Recycle, Reusable, Organic and All-Natural……..It all can make a sane person want to scream when they are first dipping their toe into a more eco-conscious lifestyle. I hear terms every single day that make my head spin, especially now with ‘green washing’ in the mix to just confuse us all the more. So I have devised a little guide below to help us all navigate through to truly greener grasses.

All-natural: Mainly referring to foods and beauty products that have no artificial ingredients and processed minimally.

Biodegradable: Organic products that able to be broken down easily with little to no effect on the environment.

Composting: The act of recycling food waste to valuable and usable soil.

Eco-friendly: The act of inflicting minimal to no harm to the environment (i.e. type of car you drive, cleaning products used, etc.).

Greenwashing: The act of misleading the general public into thinking a product / service is eco-friendly by spending more energy on ‘selling’ as green versus actually backing up the process as being green.

Non-renewable Resources: Natural resources that risk being completely exhausted (i.e. crude oil).

Organic: To be grown without chemicals or pesticides and processed without radiation or other harmful reactants. This can be with regard to food, beauty products, clothes, bedding, towels, etc.

Recycle: The act of downcycling where an item such as a tire is turned into another item (i.e. carpeting).

Renewable Resource: Natural resources which are continuously produced (i.e. fish and fresh water).

Reusable: An item that can be used over and over again lessening harm to the environment (i.e. shopping bags).

Sustainability: The act of sustaining for an undetermined amount of time without depleting resources and/or causing harm to the environment.

Upcycle: The process of taking something old and making it new again for use over and over without changing it’s actual composition (i.e. old sweaters turned into stuffed animals).

Article excerpted from feelinggogi.wordpress.com



Ten Tips for Going Green at Home

Here are ten tips to help you go green at your house. These hints will help save the environment, reduce your waste footprint, and often even save you money in the process.

1. Green Cooking Tips. Don’t microwave plastic, reduce your use of prepackaged foods, and stop using cheap nonstick pans, which leach toxins into your meal as you cook. Consider buying organic foods. When choosing between two like items in the grocery store, pick the one with less wasted packaging.

2. Reduce waste. Recycle newspapers and other items whenever possible. Reduce your dependence on fast food, which creates a lot of waste products. Reuse plastic bags at least once.

3. Use less utilities. Unplug electronics when not in use, which can use up to 20% of power when not turned on. Look into the possibility of replacing high-use utilities with an energy efficient furnace, air conditioner, dishwasher or water heater. Consider installing solar panels to capture free heat from the sun. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs to save energy. Run your dishwasher and clothes washer only when they are full. Turn your thermostat down in the winter and up in the summer. Use caulk and weather stripping to insulate your home.

4. Reduce mileage in your car. Use a bicycle or walk for the close trips whenever possible. Combine trips in the car, or shop where many stores are located together. When you buy a car, look for one with low mileage, or a hybrid. If you live far from work, consider changing either your job or your residence to make them closer together. If that isn’t feasible, consider changing hours so you don’t have to sit in rush hour traffic.

5. Grow your own foods as much as possible. Create a vegetable garden, and use as few pesticides and chemical fertilizers as possible. Consider using a rain barrel to water your plants, instead of using public water.

6. Take up composting. Pick an out of the way spot in your yard, and use a composter. Throw in coffee grounds, eggshells, spoiled vegetables and other leftovers. Mix with dirt. Once a week or so, turn over with a shovel to provide air. You won’t just help the environment, you’ll create rich soil for your garden.

7. Donate your used items. If they are still usable, don’t throw them away. Donate them to Goodwill or another worthy cause, including clothes, shoes, toys, and household items.

8. Avoid aerosols, which can’t be recycled, and contribute to air pollution. There are many non-aerosol alternatives to any product. Research and use organic cleaning products.

9. Watch what you put in your trash can. Batteries, paint cans, and aerosol sprays all can leak toxics that can end up in our water system. Ask your community leaders about a safe disposal site for these items.

10. Limit what you buy. Think twice about filling your house up with items you’ll only use once or twice. Consider sharing items with a good neighbor, such as garden tools, and go in half on them.

Going green at home doesn’t just help the environment, it saves you money too!


Article excerpted from www.paradoxpro.com


Disposal Dilemma

Because of their mercury and PCB contents, old fluorescent lights should not be dumped in the bin but the Government has no solution for such waste as yet.

HOW many light bulbs do you have at home? What kind are they? How many do you change in a year? What do you do with the spoilt lights? Throw them in the thrash? Recycle them? What happens to these light bulbs once you throw them away?

For some, these questions may seem pointless. After all, a typical household may only need to change one or two light bulbs a year – surely such a miniscule amount of light bulbs won’t cause any harm, right?

Well, think again. Depending on what sort of light bulb you are using, be it incandescent, fluorescent or compact fluorescent light bulbs, you could be still be releasing toxics such as lead polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) and liquid mercury into the environment. You might think that discarding one or two light bulbs won’t make a difference but what if each of the millions of households in Malaysia thought the same? Now that would be a lot of light bulbs, wouldn’t it?

An official of a major player in the solid waste management industry (who wishes to remain anonymous) says light bulbs should not be disposed together with household waste as they would only end up in dumpsites and landfills, and could contaminate groundwater if the landfills are not lined or equipped with leachate treatment facilities.

The thing is, almost every single component of a compact fluorescent light (CFL) can be recycled. The metal parts can be sold as scrap metal, the glass can be recycled into other glass products, and most importantly, the hazardous mercury can be reused to make new light bulbs. Unfortunately, while there is a need to recycle light bulbs, or at least dispose of them correctly, there are currently few options available to the general public. There are currently no specific guidelines or regulations concerning the disposal of light bulbs. Because they contain liquid mercury, light bulbs are classified as “scheduled waste” – this requires that they be treated like any other hazardous industrial waste.

This means two things – we cannot throw them out with the trash, and they should be properly disposed off, either at a recycling plant or at an approved hazardous waste facility (such as Kualiti Alam in Bukit Nanas, Negeri Sembilan).

But these legal provisions have never been enforced. Perhaps because no system or procedure are in place to collect hazardous waste from households which includes lights, old paints and batteries, unlike in countries such as Germany, where there are designated places to send such waste.

Also, the Department of Environment has said that its jurisdiction does not cover household waste. And even if such waste was collected, who is going to pay for the disposal say, at Kualiti Alam? Certainly not the domestic waste concessionaires such as Alam Flora or Southern Waste Management, who would insist that scheduled waste is not under their purview.

As such, all our discarded lights have ended up in dumpsites and landfills – sources from the waste concessionaires admit as much. This is also confirmed by Dr Nadzri Yahaya, director-general of the National Solid Waste Management Department: “Right now, light bulbs from household waste are all dumped together with normal garbage, which all ends up in landfills.”

He assures however, that when the Solid Waste And Public Cleansing Management Act 2007 comes into place, there will be a regulation requiring households to sort their waste. “We will then collect the light bulbs and keep them in storage until there is a large amount for sending to recycling plants or proper disposal at facilities prescribed by the DOE.”

Nadzri sees rising awareness among Malaysians on the hazards posed by discarded lights but there is just no means of proper disposal.

“That’s where the regulation comes in. We get them to sort at source, then we help them recycle or dispose of it properly,” he says.

A source in the solid waste industry says a take-back system through retailers is the best solution for the disposal of light bulbs. Such a take-back policy exists in Europe, whereby the responsibility for disposal of electrical and electronic equipment waste is imposed on the manufacturers. These companies must establish an infrastructure to collect the waste from consumers free of charge but the cost would have already been added to retail prices.

The good news is, such a policy might come up in Malaysia soon. A Department of Environment (DOE) official discloses that the agency is working on a take-back system for electronics and electrical items under the Environmental Quality Act – Environmental (Scheduled Waste) Regulation 2005.

But until these collection systems for waste bulbs are up and running, there is little that consumers can do except to just store those old bulbs – that is what some green-minded individuals are doing.

Article excerpted from www.wmam.org


10 Energy Saving Tips at the Office

1. Turn off the lights
Remember to hit the switch on your way out for that well-deserved lunch break. The energy savings from 10 million office workers turning off unneeded lights for 30 minutes a day is enough to illuminate four million square metres of office space.

2. Remove yourself from junk mail lists
The last thing you need is another office supply catalogue or credit card offer. But before tossing out junk mail, call the company and ask that your name be removed from its mailing list. Have contacts e-mail you instead. Almost 50 percent of all catalogues are never opened, yet nearly 62 million trees are destroyed and 28 billion gallons of water are used to produce them every year.

3. Send your monitor to sleep
Screensavers are designed to save your screen from burn in, not to save energy. Monitors are responsible for more than one third of a computer’s energy consumption, so conserve energy by putting yours to sleep or powering off altogether when you’re away from your desk for more than 10 minutes.

4. Use the stairs
Your brain gets exercise all day, so why not exercise your body? Get your heart pumping by taking the stairs instead of the lift. It’s good for your health and saves electricity.

5. Make your printer’s toner last
If you’re printing rough drafts or documents for internal purposes, change the printer’s settings to economy mode and avoid printing in colour if possible. Economy mode uses up to 50 percent less toner and prints twice as many pages as higher quality settings. Printing on both sides slashes the number of sheets used by 50 percent.

6. Leave the car at home
Public transport may not be perfect, but there are alternatives: why not walk (if you live close enough), hitch a lift with a colleague or try going by bicycle?

7. Recycle paper
If it tears, it can be recycled: from magazines and manila folders to plain paper and post-it notes. Manufacturing recycled paper generates 74 percent less air pollution than creating paper from scratch and saves trees, water and energy.

8. Buy 100 percent recycled paper
When you’re buying paper for the office, make sure it’s 100 percent recycled and, ideally, non-chlorinated. The chlorine used for bleaching is one of the biggest polluters in the paper-making process.

9. Recycle and reuse office supplies
Washing and reusing the plastic plates and cutlery you get with takeaway food is an easy way to cut down on waste at work. Use mugs rather than disposable plastic cups and don’t forget that things such as batteries, printer cartridges, DVDs and CDs can be recycled, too.

10. Curb phantom electricity
Many appliances still use energy even when they’re turned off. Items left plugged into the wall, such as a mobile phone charger or laptop adapter, can leak more than 20 watts of power. Plug office equipment into a power strip instead and turn it off at night and on weekends.

Article excerpted from www.evancarmichael.com


Paper? Plastic? Reusable Bags?

Green Earth Movement

Billions of plastic bags are consumed each year. Less than 1% of plastic bags get recycled. The rest of the bags end  up in landfills, lakes and rivers polluting our earth. Plastic bags are responsible for the death of thousands of  marine animals and for nearly 7% of debris found along the US coastline. The effects of this abuse have been  catastrophic to our environment. To add to the devastation, over 12 million barrels of oil are required annually to  produce plastic bags for the US alone.

Eliminating the use of plastic bags is one thing we can ALL do. Its one simple way to join in the force to save our  planet. Going Green is not a new fad. It is a necessity. We are already feeling the effects of global warming. We must all take responsibility and do our part.

Most, if not all, major retailers and grocery chains have begun promoting the use of reusable bags. Yet, a very small percentage of consumers are actually using them. Do consumers just dont care? A recent poll, conducted by The Bag Movement, LLC determined the two main reasons people are not using reusable bags. The main reason is consumers have not yet developed a habit of using reusable bags. The second highest reason was consumers dont like using bags with a particular retailers logo.

The Bag Movement has taken consumers concerns and developed reusable bags that are sure to set a trend. Theyve designed bags that are lightweight, washable and compact. The design also promotes awareness for causes such as breast cancer, AIDS/HIV, Child Abuse and Neglect and Heart Disease. The company donates 15% of all net proceeds to organizations such as St. Jude Childrens hospital, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, AIDS Research alliance, and Operation Homefront.

Even during these tough economic times. Our community must get together and do whats right. Simple steps that can make a difference. One small habit we can develop that can change the world and save lives.

Article excerpted from http://www.earthlovemovement.org


10 Ways to Go Green and Save Money at the Same Time

Want to help the environment, but not too keen on all of the expensive suggestions floating around out there? Here are 10 frugal ways to incorporate green living into your life without throwing your well laid budget plans to the wind.

  1. Safety Razors – Giving up disposable razors for the old fashioned safety razor is a great way to save money and the environment. The multi-packs of flat razor blades are not only inexpensive, they come without all of the extra plastic housing that ultimately ends up in land fills. We’ve been doing this in our house for a few years now, and have noticed a tremendous savings. An added bonus? We don’t have to carve out extra storage in the cabinets when we stock up. Flat packs of blades store very efficiently in a minimal amount of space.
  2. Mineral Salt Deodorant Sticks – You can find these at nearly any health food or natural living store. They last an incredibly long time, don’t contain any harmful ingredients, and as with the safety razor idea listed above, don’t come with a ton of obnoxious plastic packaging to toss in the land fill once the product has been used up. My husband and I used this product on a recent six month trip around the world. It lasted the duration of the trip and is still going strong. It also takes up minimal room in the back pack.
  3. Re-usable Coffee Filters – Just imagine never having to buy or run out of these little babies again!
  4. Give Up Paper Towels – OK, I’ll be honest. This is not easy in the beginning. The trick? Having a simple, workable system for having clean rags on hand. I ended up using several of those fabric sleeves with elastic on both ends . . . you know, the kind most people use to store empty plastic grocery bags in for quick access? I hung one in each place we routinely used paper towels. Then, I raided the pile of old T-shirts we had set aside to go to Goodwill and cut up a bunch of cleaning rags. These were what I used to fill up each of the disposal “sleeves”. When we need to reach for something to wipe up a spill or do a quick clean up of a particular space, we can now reach for a washable cleaning rag instead of a paper towel.
  5. Recycle Old Athletic Socks – Not possible you say? I beg to differ. Cut each old sock off just slightly above the ankle, and below the ribbed leg section. The left over foot portion is what I use instead of those expensive disposable dusting mittens. These things are great for getting around stair banister railings, gripping table and chair legs to dust . . . you won’t go back, I promise you! The other ribbed section, particularly if it is ribbed the entire length of the piece, is great to slice up one side and use for a great moisture holding dish rag. The ridges give you extra scrubbing power too.
  6. Shopping for Second Hand Goods – Anything you are comfortable buying second hand keeps that same item from ending up in a garbage dump. This applies to furniture, clothing, toys, kitchen ware, and to a certain extent, automobiles. This personal finance procedure goes a long way to helping out the planet and your pocketbook at the same time.
  7. Think Before You Print – Save money on ink and paper by checking to see if you really need a paper copy of a particular document before hitting the print button. Still think you really need it? Check out the econo mode for printing which will at least use less ink and save you money in the long run on those refilled cartridges.
  8. Celebrate the Power of Tie-Dye – This is a great affordable way to give lightly stained, lighter colored linens and clothing items a second shelf life. Some ideas? Old sheets, curtains, pillow cases, socks and T-shirts to name a few.
  9. Find a Second Use for Those Plastic Grocery Bags – These things really can help out a time or two more after making it home from the grocery store. Use them to line small trash cans (one less item to buy), pick up after your dog in the park or provide extra cushioning in those holiday postal packages.
  10. Consider a Personal Filter for Your Kitchen Faucet -This will enable you to skip the extra packaging that comes with large cases of bottled water and carve some extra cash out of your personal budget at the same time. We’ve been using one for at least 5 or 6 years now and really like not having to find extra room for those bottles.

There you have it. Ten ways that won’t break the bank or the planet. Have another idea? Pop me a line, I’d love to hear about it!

Article excerpted from http://www.wisebread.com


Going Green With These Wood Alternatives

Since the 1980′s “plastic lumber” (PL) products have been coming on the market as substitutes for wood, and while these products offer certain advantages, they also have disadvantages and are not suitable for all purposes. There are several types of PL products available, and each type has its pros and cons. A quick look at the types on the market will help the homeowner pick one that is right for their job.

Recycled PL is decay-resistant, which makes it ideal for outdoor applications such as decking and play equipment where it may come in contact with soil and water. The type of plastic used most often is high density polyethylene (HDPE) recycled from milk bottles and other beverage containers. The plastic is recovered after use, cleaned, melted, mixed with UV stabilizers and sometimes tinted with coloring agents.

PL comes in several forms:

1. Plastic without additives. This product is made from HDPE and is extremely durable, but it does not have the strength of wood and may not be good for all applications. It is not advised for structural applications but is fine for decks, docks, fences, railings and so forth. When purchasing these products, be sure to look for those made with high or low-to-high density polypropylene resins. These products should be marked with “HDPE” or “HDPE/LDPE” somewhere on the packaging or on the item itself. Products made with PVC or polystyrene should be avoided, as these are not recyclable and do not decompose.

2. Plastic with wood additives. These are usually a half-and-half mixture of HDPE and wood fiber. It has a little more stiffness than all-plastic lumber, but its lower price makes it a popular choice for some applications. Early products had a fake look, but companies are now offering versions with realistic wood grain and color. It should be noted that these products are not as “green” as the all-plastic variety, since they are not easily recyclable. There is also the disadvantage of wood-related problems, since some wood is used in the product. The wood fibers are enclosed in plastic, but over a long time they may be effected by mold, mildew and staining. These problems generally occur much less than with natural wood, and the likelihood of damage can be greatly reduced by cleaning and maintenance according to the manufacturers’ instructions.

3. Plastic with fiberglass. This is the only kind of PL that is strong enough for structural applications. It consists of plastic that has been mixed with glass fibers, which adds to the cost but produces a product of superior durability. Unfortunately, this also reduces the environmental advantage, since fiberglass has been linked to respiratory ailments. Still, for certain outdoor applications where human exposure is limited and durability is the paramount concern, this might be the best choice.

While wood-plastic composites do show some relatively minor wood-related damage, in general PL offers certain advantages over ordinary wood. It is impervious to moisture, and damage such as rotting, chipping and splintering are eliminated. Graffiti can usually be removed easily, and the products require very little maintenance. PL is not a fire hazard and will not ignite from casual exposure to fire, such as an accidental spill of coals from a grill. Even if such an event happens and the coals are not removed, a fire will not result.

The use of PL instead of wood provides a long-term use for the plastics from beverage containers, which presently contribute a substantial percentage of the waste in landfills. It is true that only all-plastic PL gives the maximum environmental advantage, but all types of PL keep plastic out of the waste stream by giving it a use that extends for many years beyond its limited life as a beverage container.

While PL is generally more expensive than natural wood, its durability ensures that the expense will be more than justified by the long life of the product.

Article excerpted from http://www.hometipsplus.com


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