Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thank you campaigns

Many social change groups have realized the importance of thank you campaigns, sending mass thank-you emails to city offices that have started a new program (like when DC greatly expanded its curbside recycling program this year) or a politician who voted for a new policy (e.g., Tommy Wells' support of the 5 cent tax on plastic bags). One morning, I read in the Post about the amazing mental health programs for youths in the DC prison system, so I decided to thank them by email for doing this. I received a real letter in the regular mail, thanking me for my support especially because the press and others are rarely sympathetic to the help they strive to provide troubled youth in DC. The fact that I received a real letter signaled to me that more thank yous are needed! Next time you hear about a great new program or policy send an email of support. Of course, always send an email to push, complain, and needle policy makers to expand recycling and other programs!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cork Collection and Recycling

One can collect (natural) wine corks in an attractive glass jar and then bring them to Hayden's Liquor at Eastern Market (700 N Carolina Ave SE), which are then picked up by the DC Recycler and sent to Yemm and Hart to turn into cork tiles. At the same time, you can see (in the upper left hand corner of the photo) that I don't yet have an attractive way to collect Brita water filters, but Hill's Kitchen (at Eastern Market metro) does collect them for the DC Recycler to send for recycling too.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Clear info on Carbon Offsets

Here is some actually useful info on effective carbon offset companies. I know that offsets aren't recycling, and I had disregarded offsets as a scam. However, now there are standards that allow you to know that the green house gas reduction wouldn’t have happened without your purchase. So, now it is easy to buy offsets when you decide to fly, drive, or even just use electricity. Green America has some actual recommendations:

NativeEnergy’s WindBuilders program sells offsets to finance new wind projects. More than half of offset purchases worldwide support renewable energy projects and displace coal-fired electricity. Many projects lack the capital they need to get built.
3Degrees offers offsets from wind facilities in northeastern China and India.
TerraPass offsets support methane capture at landfills from Maine to South Dakota.
CarbonNeutral Company offers offsets from a project that provides seed funding to a pilot solar lighting scheme for midwives in rural India. Their partner is the amazing Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in India.

Both the International Carbon Reduction and Offset Alliance (ICROA) and Green-e Climate program require their member retailers to ensure that any reduction in greenhouse gases sold as a carbon offset is "real, verified, permanent, additional, and unique." Basically, you want to know that the reduction wouldn’t have happened without your purchase.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Return your old Patagonia clothes to Patagonia stores

Yes, Patagonia will recycle most old Patagonia clothes into new ones (see details at the website). The DC store in Georgetown will take these items or you can mail them to Patagonia.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hill composting experiment put on hold

Due to a confluence of circumstances, we are putting the Hill composting experiment on hold for the time being. The general view is that bioplastics require a commercial composter. However, I'd like to hear if anyone has successfully composted their bioplastics.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

There is a commercial composter in the District!

Remember that bioplastics (like corn cups, corn utensils, etc.) can't be put in your recycling bin or composted at home. EnviRelation is a commercial composter, which collects food waste AND bioplastics. They, however, just collect from businesses, so let your favorite restaurants know about EnviRelation. The bioplastics must come from 100% plant products, which is easy to check by looking for the US Composting Council or Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) logo. Some plastic bags are not made of 100% plant products, so composting them would lead to lots of plastic bits in your compost. BPI has a great website listing Certified Compostable Products (bags, utensils, etc.) by brand name. EnviRelation also composts: paper hot and cold beverage cups, single service disposable containers, straws, stir sticks, dessert bags, portions cups, and sugar and sugar substitute packages. Let your favorite restaurants and cafes know!

Common Good City Farm will be the first "Commons Compost" in DC

Here's the news from Common Good City Farm:

"We are pleased to say we will finally be happy to take your veggie scraps starting in the 2010 season...next spring, Common Good City Farm will begin the first 'Commons Compost' in Washington, DC. You will be able to bring your food waste to the Farm. We will decompose it for you and turn it into usable soil for us to use on the Farm. ...Excited about this? Consider supporting this new venture by donating today. Your donation will allow us to build larger compost bins when necessary and create educational signage to accompany them."

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Update on Composting in DC

Exciting new development in the DC area.
1) Composting of leaves
College Park, Prince George's County, and even DC composts leaves, though it is uncertain how many leaves are actually composted in DC.
2) Composting of food waste and maybe bioplastics
* DC Central Kitchen sends some kitchen scraps to a farm in MD.
* National Geographic DC HQ cafeteria.
* House office buildings
* Georgetown University?
* George Mason University?

Cities that already have food composting:

Cambridge and Somerville, MA
Duluth, MN
Modesto, CA
Halifax, NS
Oakland, CA
San Francisco

Maybe we should follow the lead of Cindy Olson of Eco-Coach, who has been urging citizens to call the DC Council and Mayor’s office demanding a better municipal composting program.

More magazines are using recycled or FSC-certified paper

American Prospect, Yoga Journal, the Buddhist magazine Tricycle, Mother Jones, Natural Home, Veg News, Mothering, and other magazines are now using recycled and/or FSC-certified papers thanks to help from Green America's Better Paper Program. They are expanding the market for municipal recycled paper. The Better Paper Program is saying to vote with your dollars (and has a very useful link to Amazon's recycled paper magazines), but I'm not so certain that I would choose my magazines based on their paper content. However, maybe it would be better to contact the magazines that we buy, tell them that we really value the use of recycled paper, and let them know about the Better Paper magazine program.