The Story of Cap & Trade

The Story of Cap & Trade is a fast-paced, fact-filled look at the leading climate solution being discussed at Copenhagen and on Capitol Hill. Host Annie Leonard introduces the energy traders and Wall Street financiers at the heart of this scheme and reveals the “devils in the details” in current cap and trade proposals: free permits to big polluters, fake offsets and distraction from what’s really required to tackle the climate crisis.

Recycling is Not Just for the Single-Family Dwellings

151155_3090Most cities now have made it possible for people living in multi-family communities to recycle and reduce waste. With mixed recycling collection for plastic, metal, and paper materials being available to multifamily communities.

What is considered a multi-family community?

  • Apartment Complexes
  • Retirement Living
  • RV Parks
  • Mobile Home Parks
  • Condominiums
  • Townhouses
  • Any property with a minimum of five housing units

Multi-Family Recycling Programs can help by providing free education and outreach resources to get your recycling program started.

On-site collection of glass and yard debris might be available in your area also. Ask your collection service provider about these additional service options.

For more information google Multifamily Community Recycle Programs along with the name of the county you live in. And you will find the information you  need to get your multifamily community on the recycling band wagon.

Reduce Waste this Holiday Season

693364_97735298U.S. residents throw away more waste per person than those in any other nation. Between Thanksgiving and New years Day alone, Americans produce an extra one million tons of trash per week compared to any other time of the year.

  1. Be creative when it comes to sending out Christmas cards. Emailing is much more Eco-friendly but giving a card is so much more festive to . If you are going to send out card, try reusing old cards and cutting them apart to make your own. You can make your own envelopes out of old paper, maps and the like. Have fun and let the kids join in.
  2. When wrapping gifts, use left over wrapping paper from last year (I save wrapping paper from holidays and birthdays if they are in good shape so I can reuse it). You can make your own bows from newspaper or magazines, also you can use cut up old clothes to wrap gifts also.
  3. As far as gifts go – stop generating waste by giving concert tickets, museum tickets, movie tickets or gift cards for things you need like grocery stores. The gift of time is a great one too. Offer to babysit for families with kids or offer to help with yard work for the older recipients.
  4. Forget about using disposable party-ware. If you are having a potluck and don’t have enough dishes for each person then have each family bring their own along with their own silverware.
  5. Ornaments and Decorations. If you need new ornaments, try your hand at making your own, the Internet is full of easy-to-make, DIY ideas. Using what you already have is the best way to generate less waste. If you must buy more, check your local thrift stores, they usually have a bunch of Christmas decor and ornaments that people have just got rid of.

10 Tips for Preventing Stormwater Pollution

318454_9151Last week on Dirty Jobs, Mike Rowe helped clean storm drains, which made me a bit sick to watch, I guess that’s why they call it “Dirty Jobs”. It made me think about how important it is that we put our trash in the proper place and keep our drains free of pollution as much as we can. Below are 10 tips to preventing stormwater pollution. We don’t want this pollution going to our rivers and streams, harming fish and wildlife along the way. Did you know that a single cigarette butt can take 25 years to break down? So please don’t litter, it doesn’t take much to look for a trash can and dispose of trash properly.

  1. Never dump anything down storm drains or into streams and report anyone who does.
  2. Replant bare spots in your yard and preserve streamside vegetation.
  3. Direct rooftop downspouts away from paved surfaces.
  4. Take your car to a car wash or wash it on an unpaved area.
  5. Check your car for leaks and recycle your motor oil and antifreeze.
  6. Pick up your pet waste; it can carry harmful bacteria and parasites.
  7. Have your septic tank pumped and system inspected regularly.
  8. Choose low-maintenance, native plants that require fewer chemicals and less watering and sweep up debris from driveways and sidewalks.
  9. Consider alternatives to impervious surfaces such as pervious pavement, paving blocks, gravel cobbles, brick and natural stone.
  10. Get a rain barrel to collect stormwater and install an approved rain garden or green roof.

Green Clean with a Twist

Are you a paper towel freak? Do you use paper towels for cleaning and cooking and instead of cloth napkins? Well let me tell you something, using paper towels is not green my friend. Here are some great alternatives to you using paper towels – a company called Twist Clean has sponges for every occasion out there. From cleaning the kitchen to cleaning your unmentionables. Check out their selection here.

Smart Travel for the Holidays

downloadedfile(suitecase)Holidays are the most traveled days of the year. Families going home to see loved ones, traveling distances they wouldn’t normally travel so they can be home for the holidays with the ones they love. But before you travel there are some things you need to consider.

Consider your carbon footprint – You can calculate your air and vehicle travels CO2 emissions and find out ways to reduce them by clicking here.

Travel by Car – If you don’t already own a hybrid, rent one if you have to drive. They will be more expensive to rent than a standard car but they save on fuel and have decreased emissions.

Air Travel – Airplanes are major contributors to the global carbon emissions equation, so its greenest to try and reduce your air travel. But if you must travel by air try these three tips. 1. Bring your own stuff, instead of using the disposables offered by the airlines, 2. Travel in a new plane, 3. Buy carbon credits to offset your air travel.

Train Travel – Train travel is much faster, more comfortable and gives off fewer emissions than airplanes and buses, making train travel the preferred way to travel when thinking green.

Not all Hybrids Bring High Fuel Economy

359696_8751There was an interesting article in the Portland Tribune stating that not all hybrids are created equal.

In 2001 the Prius was the first to use a hybrid, gasoline-electric powertrain. Now virtually every manufacturer is offering at least one hybrid, and most of the others are developing them.

But some hybrids are better for the environment than others. Depending on the model, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency currently rates them from a high of 50 miles per gallon for the Toyota Prius to a low of 20 miles per gallon for a Cadillac Escalade Hybrid. The Honda Insight and Civic Hybrid get around 42 miles per gallon, followed by various Ford, Toyota and Nissan models that get about 36 miles per gallon.

There are several different types of hybrids out there, and the way they mix the basic elements greatly affect their economy. Most automotive authorities break them down as follows:

  • Unique-model hybrids
  • Full hybrids
  • Mild hybrids
  • Muscle  hybrids
  • Plug-in hybrids

Despite the different types of hybrids, common sense applies when figuring out which ones get the best mileage. Smaller is generally better. Although the mid-size Prius is the champ, the compact Honda Insight and Civic are next best. Less economical are the mid-size Ford Fusion Hybrid, Mercury Milan Hybrid, Lexus HS 250h and Toyota Camry Hybrid, which range from 39 to 33 miles per gallon. Worst are the big hybrid trucks and SUVs, like the lowest-rated Escalade Hybrid.

Both the cost and mileage need to be taken into account when choosing a hybrid. The cost of hybrids are outrageous when compared to a gasoline powered vehicle. When gas prices were high it was worth it and it paid off to own a hybrid but now that the gas prices are down, its not worth it. The pay off for a hybrid will come a lot quicker if gasoline prices soar up to $4 again.

Scorecard.org

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Pollution is the cause of about 40% of deaths worldwide. Such environmental degradation, coupled with the growth in world population, are major causes behind the rapid increase in human diseases.

  • 6,100 – the number of hospital admissions in California each year for respiratory diseases attributed to breathing ozone and particle pollution.
  • 1,400,000 – the annual number of lost workdays by Californians related to air-pollution related medical issues.
  • 10-15% of lung cancers that are diagnosed in nonsmokers.

Scorecard is the web’s most popular resource for information about pollution problems and toxic chemicals. Find out about the pollution problems in your community and learn who is responsible. See which geographic areas and companies have the worst pollution records. Identify which racial/ethnic and income groups bear more than their share of environmental burdens. Then take action as an informed citizen – you can fax a polluting company, contact your elected representatives, or get involved in your community.

Using Scorecard is easy, just type in your zip code to get your results for your county.

Gifts That go a Long Way

1169782_99644957With the holidays drawing near we start making lists and checking them twice to see what we need. The internet seems to be the hottest place to find all your Christmas gear, but before you got shopping on the internet, why not take a walk around your neighborhood stores and locally owned businesses. Supporting and giving back to your community is the best way to help the economy and your community.

In this article from Sew Green, Gift for Good, Hayley mentions all the ways you can give back. Below are little snippets from the article.

  • Donations – I put this first, because the absolute best gift you can give is to your community. It is also a huge relief for people who might stress over finding the perfect gift, plus they can give one gift donation as a family gift* and feel good about themselves in the process.
  • Memberships – Museums, zoos, botanical gardens, aquariums, public radio, etc. These are donations with benefits.
  • Gifts with a purpose – Many organizations have great online shops with merchandise that supports the cause.
  • Museum Shops – Not only will you be supporting art in your community, but you can find great gifts by local artists, fair trade goods, collectable books, and eclectic knick knacks.
  • Locally owned businesses – By shopping at local businesses, you not only support the store, but the community benefits.
  • Gifts of service – Print up a coupon or certificate and you might change someone’s life, or at least give them a much needed break.
  • Buying Handmade – You directly support the artist who loves doing what they do and you show, with your dollars, how important art and crafts are to you.
  • DIY – With so much commercialization and cheap production, a hand knitted hat carries that much more meaning.

To read the complete article – click here.

Why You Should Stop Using Styrofoam

262931_8214The common consensus, that I can find, is that it takes Styrofoam 50 years to decompose. 50 Years! Yeah that’s too long for something you use once and toss into the garbage. I was thinking about Styrofoam the other day when my husband and I were out to eat and the little diner only had Styrofoam cups for water. He looked at me and said ‘only get one, we can share a cup’.

So why is Styrofoam so bad? Here are a few facts that you may not know about Styrofoam from greenliving.lovetoknow.com:

~Non-Biodegradable – Styrofoam appears to last forever, as it is resistant to photolysis or the breaking down of materials by protons originating from a light source. This fact, combined with the fact that Styrofoam is lightweight and floats, means that over time a great deal of Styrofoam has accumulated along coasts and waterways around the world. It is now considered the main component of marine debris.
~Not-Usually Recycled – Many municipal recycling programs do not recycle Styrofoam because it is virtually weightless which makes it worthless as scrap. The same lightweight property of the material makes collecting it difficult, because even light winds can send it blowing great distances.
~HFCs – Styrofoam is manufactured by using HFCs, or hydrofluorocarbons, which have negative impacts on the ozone layer and global warming. HFCs are less detrimental to the ozone than CFCs, which they replaced in the manufacturing of Styrofoam, but it is thought that the impact of HFCs on global warming is much more serious.
~Flame Retardants – The brominated flame retardants that are used on Styrofoam are also causing concern, and some research suggests that these chemicals might have negative environmental and health effects.

What can you do? Are their alternatives out there? Check out Ecovative Design for greensulate, which is insulation that helps you reduce the amount of energy used to build your home, and  ecocradle, which is to replace Styrofoam in packaging.

Its become more apparent to me lately that we as a society throw a lot into the trash that can be recycled and isn’t, that cannot be recycled or that takes many many years to decompose. None of these are good options. Before you consume, please think about what you are throwing into the trash.