Companies to Help You go Green in the New Year

There are some things to consider when going green in the new year. If your new years resolutions is to be more eco-friendly, then check out these helpful companies, choose wisely and get your life going in a greener direction.

Water Sense: Save water and protect the environment by choosing WaterSense labeled products in your home and business and taking simple steps to save water each day.

Energy Star: ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices.

USDA Organic: The National Organic Program (NOP) develops, implements, and administers national production, handling, and labeling standards for organic agricultural products. The NOP also accredits the certifying agents (foreign and domestic) who inspect organic production and handling operations to certify that they meet USDA standards.

Fair Trade Certified: Fair trade helps our people and our planet, promoting a system that provides economic development for farming families and sustainable development for our planets future.

4th Annual Green Sprouts Organic Baby & Family Fest

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Coming up on September 26th is the 4th Annual Green Sprouts Organic Baby & Family Fest.

Green Sprouts Festival is a fun, festive and educational one-day event for the whole family that celebrates and promotes the nurturing of life through nature. From pregnancy to childhood, parents can learn about and explore eco-friendly, community-involved, natural, and healthy options to raising their families.

Place: Peninsula Park, Portland Oregon

Admission: $3.00 suggested donation that will benefit Sustainable Oregon Schools Initiative.

Getting There:

  • Train – The TriMet Light Rail system has a stop just a few blocks from Peninsula Park.
  • Bus – TriMet bus lines #4 and #44 will take you within a short walk to Peninsula Park.
  • Bicycle – There are many designated bike routes that will take you right to Peninsula Park. Consult the City of Portland bike map (PDF) to find the best route.
  • Car – Peninsula Park is easily accessable from I-5. Just take exit 304 at N. Rosa Parks Way (formerly N. Portland Blvd) and head east 3 blocks.

Whats great about this event is that they are striving to make it a zero waste event.

Receptacles will be available for recycling common objects such as aluminum, plastic bottles, glass, and paper. Composting receptacles will also be available for food items. A diaper changing area will be available on-site for your convenience.

San Francisco on Composting

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While visiting San Francisco I found that it was much cleaner than I had originally thought. It had been almost 14 years since the last time I visited but the city on this visit overwhelmed me with its beauty.

72% – The amount of waste San Francisco doesn’t put in a landfill.

From the Earth911.com – Cities of Change

There is always environmental news about the city of San Francisco, and it is well deserved. Not only has the city pledged to be zero waste by 2020, but San Francisco also boasts the highest recycling rate in the nation – a whopping 72 percent.

This is partly due to San Francisco’s stringent recycling and composting law. The new law will make recycling and composting mandatory. If recyclable or compostable items are found in the garbage bins, the resident will be warned on the first offense. Repeat offenders will be issued fines of $100 for small businesses and single-family homes and up to $1,000 for large businesses and multi-unit buildings.

“Clearly, mandatory recycling measures pay off,” says San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. “If we’re going to reach a recycling rate of 75 percent in 2010 and zero waste in 2020, we need to make sure that residents and businesses are taking full advantage of our composting and recycling programs.”

But recycling initiatives are just part of San Francisco’s environmental efforts. The city has also made laws to further clean energy and reduce its carbon footprint. These initiatives include:

  • Clean Technology
  • Biodiesel Access Task Force
  • Resource Efficient Building Task Force
  • Urban Environmental Accords
  • Peak Oil Preparedness Task Force

Plantable Paper Great For Summer!

plantable-paperIf you’re looking for a fun and green project to do with your kids while they are home this summer, check out plantable papers. Plantable papers offer ‘tree free,’ recycled, handmade papers with wildflower seeds embedded in them. They use organic fibers such as coconuts, weeds, cotton, pineapple, etc., then they add recycled post consumer waste like office correspondence and newspapers, all of which have been de-inked responsibly. Currently they only offer wildflower seeded products, but they are experimenting with other seed varieties, and hope to present those varieties of our plantable paper soon.

You can do a great art project or writing assignment at your local park or forest, then, instead of throwing the paper away, plant it right there. Or do they same in your backyard, craft and gardening all in one.

You can find out more information about plantable papers by checking out their website.

What is the Ebay Green Team?

gr-green-campusEbay has started the green team.

The eBay Green Team is an initiative to champion smart ways to shop green and encourage more sustainable buying choices that can save consumers money and help save the planet. Building off of a grassroots effort started by its own employees, eBay is inviting buyers, sellers and anyone interested in new ways of thinking about being a greener consumer to join.

Today, more than 1,000 eBay employees in 18 countries are Green Team members. From software engineering to customer support, all of us share a common interest in helping to protect the planet. We promote green business practices within eBay, organize local volunteer projects, and support state environmental legislation. And today we know we can do even more if we act together.

Are you concerned with the environment all things green? Join Ebays green team and enjoy all the great green tips to help you become a more eco-friendly person, so you can pass it along and help others become more eco-friendly.

How to Recycle Your Mac When its Days are Over

While reading the April edition of Macworld I found an article on Responsible Recycling: What to do with your Mac when its days are over.

Don’t Throw It Away – According to a 60 Minutes report, an estimated 130,000 computers end up in the garbage annually. In 2008, Apple recycled 30.5 million pounds of electronic waste, achieving a worldwide recycling rate of over 38%. For more on their recycling program click here.

Donate It – If your computer is still in working order, consider donating it. The research firm Dataquest estimates that less than 5 percent of all personal computers find a second life at a charity or school. You can increase that percentage  by recycling your old electronics with a noprofit facility.

Sell It – If your old goods are only a year to three years old, you might be able to sell them for petty cash. Try Ebay, Craigslist or you can sell it to any  number of online services that buy used electronics.

Clean It – If you are planning on donating or selling your computer, make sure that nobody else will be able to access its data.

The first step is to back up all the data on your old Mac’s hard drives. Either copy that data to your new machine or pick up an external hard drive and use that as a repository for all the old files. Second step is to begin erasing all vestiges of your ownership from your old drive. Make sure and deauthorize iTunes, you dont want to later realize you have one less machine on which you can play your old, pre-iTunes Plus music. Next deauthorize any third party programs that you’ll want to reinstall on your new system.

For more check out this discussion from Apple Support, How to Clean my Hard Drive to Sell my Mac.

Consumerism With A Purpose

If you’re like me, you love having artifacts or souvenirs from different parts of the world. It makes me feel like I’ve been places and that I am ‘in touch’ with the world as a whole. But if you’re not able to travel to those parts of the world, you often find yourself buying these ‘other culturally oriented’ decorations from department stores or shops. The reality is that many of these decorations are heavily taxed and not always made in the best circumstances or under the best conditions or work practices.

Ten Thousand Villages is an organization that, “is an exceptional source for unique, handmade gifts, jewelry, home decor and personal accessories representing the diverse cultures of artisans in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. One of the world’s largest fair trade organizations and a founding member of the International Fair Trade Association (IFAT), the company strives to improve the livelihood of tens of thousands of disadvantaged artisans in 38 countries.”

The items for sale online and in various stores throughout North America offer amazing and original jewelry, baskets, toys, games, musical instruments and global treasures. The money that is made on these items is sent back to these countries from whence the product came. “Ten Thousand Villages works with artisans who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed. This income helps pay for food, education, health care and housing.”

Ten Thousand Villages works with global organizations like the IFAT (the World Fair Trade Organization) and the FTF (Fair Trade Federation).

So if you’re re-decorating this Spring or looking for some great gift ideas. Check out Ten Thousand Villages or look for a local store in your area.

What do you think of Ten Thousand Villages? Let us know.

Abu Dabi Doing It Right-World Future Energy Summit

What’s the benefit of being one of the richest countries in the world? The chance to innovate and create leading green concepts for the world to watch and stare at. Recently unveiled at the “World Future Energy Summit” was this PRT car, a system of compact, driverless ‘podcars’ that could be the new system of transportation in the future.

The richest city on the planet is developing a new city, Masdar city, where, “the streets will be entirely free of automobiles, a network of these compact electric taxis will provide clean and quiet transportation to the city’s residents, as well as commuters.” The first cars are set to be running later this year and provide quick and easy transportation. More effective than those rides at Disneyland, “The PRT vehicles will travel at speeds of approximately 7 meters per second, with the longest routes in the city being perhaps 2.5 km. So let’s say you reach a station, wait maybe 1.5 minutes for your car to arrive, travel for 5 minutes if your destination is relatively far away, and then exit the station, which will take around a minute. So the longest trips in the city will be around 7, perhaps 10 minutes long.

PRT cars will move along rights of way, approximately 6 meters under street level. [Masdar City’s streets will be raised off the ground, but buildings will be built at ground level, with the first couple of stories serving as basements and space for technical equipment.]”

A light rail system will also snake its way through this ‘new’ city. While the richest city in the world probably could put its money towards some great humanitarian causes, these innovations could be equally important in environment care and green techonology of the future.

The World Future Energy Summit is a move Abu Dhabi is making to be a leader in renewable energy technologies, regardless of how much oil is still to be found. The summit had over 15,000 delegates and more than 30 governments and 300 companies present, all seeking to find technologies that work towards renewable energy.

You can find out more about the Summit and about the PRT by clicking on the links.

How Green is Obama’s House?

Now that the festivities are over, its to work for our new President. But the interesting thing for President Barack Obama is that he gets to work from home. The White House is an office and a residence at the same time, and I was curious, for a President who has the most articulated environmental and energy plan ever, how green is his new home?

In my research, I found, interestingly enough, that former President George Bush has already made many aspects of white house living environmentally friendly. MSNBC says that, “Walk down the hallways and you will find compact fluorescent lights instead of the energy-hogging incandescent bulbs. Gone are the old EXIT signs, replaced with LED (light emitting diodes) signs.” There were also changes to the water system, preventing the sprinklers from going off when raining and the interconnected lights can now be locally turned on or off. Even the President’s motorcade consists of suburbans that can use alternative fuel.

I am sure that President Obama will examine and measure the effectiveness of these choices now that it will be his residence for the next four, maybe eight years. The new President has made the environment one of his greatest platforms for change and may even propose restarting the economy by creating new environment and energy related jobs. On Whitehouse.gov the Energy and Environment plan promises to:

Create Millions of New Green Jobs

  • Ensure 10 percent of Our Electricity Comes from Renewable Sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025.
  • Deploy the Cheapest, Cleanest, Fastest Energy Source – Energy Efficiency.
  • Weatherize One Million Homes Annually.
  • Develop and Deploy Clean Coal Technology.
  • Prioritize the Construction of the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline.

This environment efforts and others can be accomplished with the hard work and sweat of Americans. As President Obama said in his inaugural speech yesterday, it is up to us, we must work as hard as those who, “”struggled, sacrificed and worked until their hands were raw. America was bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions”. We can bring positive environmental change to America as we commit to being more green in each of our daily lives.

Green Eco-Friendly Batteries

Every year over 15 billion batteries are produced and sold worldwide. Many are alkaline batteries which are discarded after a single use.  Fortunately, thanks to ongoing advances in both batteries and battery chargers, alkaline batteries can be replaced with higher capacity, environmentally friendly, batteries.

Here are a few to try:

FUJI EnviroMAX Batteries – Fuji is announcing a new line of Eco-friendly, high performance consumer batteries at CES. EnviroMAX batteries do not contain cadmium or mercury or any ingredients harmful to the environment, are packaged with recycled paper and fully recyclable PET plastic and can be disposed of through normal waste systems or in landfills as they degrade. Fuji is claiming equal or better performance/longevity to the major equivalent brands, and an affordable price.

SANYO eneloop NiMH BatteriesRechargeable, recyclable nickel-metal-hydride battery which is designed to be environmentally friendly while offering the user the convenience of a dry cell battery. The battery can be used immediately after purchase, like a dry cell, but without the disposal issues that accompany such batteries. Sanyo is setting up battery recycling centers at thousands of electronic retailers.

Green NiMH Batteries – Rechargeable Nickle Metal Hydride Batteries come in all sizes, ideal for digital cameras, portable music players, PDA’s and other portable electronics.