Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Making money from cardboard

Did you know that George Mason University Recycling and Waste Management recycled 325,120 lbs. of cardboard in 2009, which generated $3,307.91 of revenue?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

How can I tell which wines have natural cork?

My colleague asked me that question. While we happen to know a DC artist who wants plastic corks, plastic corks generally can't be recycled. It seems that one could recycle plastic corks in the regular recycling, but DC government does not list plastic corks as recyclable. Natural corks can be REUSED (even better!) and help to support the cork industry in the Mediterranean. I realized while sorting the natural and plastic corks that I could actually make a list of wines that usually have plastic corks and thus could be avoided. Here are wines that have plastic corks (and a photo of some of picturesque corks collected by Hayden's on the Hill):

Bella Sera
Ecco Domani
Eden Valley
Fat Bastard
Georges Duboeuf
Turning Leaf
Trinity Oaks

On the other hand, there are lots and lots of other wines that have natural corks. According to Green Yes, E&J Gallo, which having previously used almost no natural cork, now seal tens of millions of bottles with them. Some 370,000 acres of new forest has been planted over the last 20 years. So, consumers can help expand the sustainable natural cork economy, reuse corks, and decrease plastics that end up in the landfill. If you like a wine on the list, ask the winery to change to screwcaps or natural cork. Maybe they will change their ways. E&J Gallo did!

Post bags III (and corks)

Every time I walk past the bag bin at 7th and A St SE (see photo below), I see new bags in and old bags gone, so people are really using the bags. Try it out. Put a few of your Post bags and see what happens. My neighbor Dan just asked me for more Post bags, so you might ask a neighbor whether they want your bags.

On the cork front, I just got a huge bag of corks from Hayden's. Keep bringing your corks (natural and plastic) to Hayden's because the DC artist and the Missouri cork tile company need them. Also, if you can, try to use natural corks because World Wildlife Fund is asking us to support the natural cork industry in the Mediterranean -- it's good for workers, their economy, and the cork trees (see discussion in previous post). Power to the natural corks and the Mediterranean workers!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Post bags II (and the Scoop)

There is a bin for collecting used bags, including Post bags, at 7th and A St SE! Some people might think about putting up similar bins in the parks where dogs go. I think that bags shouldn't be put in other bags, but rather should be put in the bin individually. In any case, I'm giving my bags to my neighbor Dan. Other neighbors said that they would gladly take the bags too. Ask around and see if someone wants your bags.

One cold night, I went around to the various parks and found that kind souls provided new bags for dog owners.
What about creating a bin for used Post and other small bags? Of course, there is always another alternative, reported by Mr. Green: "If you are connected to a municipal sewage treatment plant, an alternative to sending dung to the dump is to buy a pooper scooper (or fashion your own by cutting out the bottom and part of the sides of a plastic jug to make it into a scooper). Scoop up the dog excrement, take it home, and flush it down the toilet." Well, that's all I'm going to say about bags and dogs! For now, maybe just more bins for used Post and other small bags?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Did you receive an Examiner newspaper on Sunday?

The Hill was strewn with hundreds (thousands?) of Examiner newspapers in plastic bags on Sunday. They do this at least once per year. This is not only an eyesore, but also an environmental waste and a security issue: want to know who isn't home? see who still has an Examiner outside their door. Is it legal for the Examiner to do this mass delivery? If they had to mail the newspaper, then they would at least have to consider the cost of delivery involved. The taxpayers have to think about the costs of disposal involved. Please feel free to email our council member Tommy Wells (twells@dccouncil.us) and let him know your opinion about this. While we're at it, what about the load of garbage (ads) that is delivered each week through my mail slot and goes right into the recycling bin. While I know that ads are funding the USPS, these ads are a sign of complete disregard for the environment and the taxpayer. These ads are the spam of the old mail system. Email spam can be blocked from my inbox. What can we do to stop old school spam?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Buying used is green

According to the NYT, eBay has started promoting the green benefits of buying used. Ebay calculated that purchasing a used leather handbag, for example, saves energy equivalent to a flight from London to Paris. Whatever you think about these calculations, it is true that reusing keeps items out of landfills and saves on production energy and costs. The Post yesterday reported on Anne Arundel County business owner Chris Chapman, who makes a pretty penny selling used ski equipment -- skis, boots, bindings, socks and other stuff -- mostly on eBay, but also through Amazon.com and his own website. How many of us need new skis, bikes, tennis rackets, etc., when used items would be just as good? Our neighbor Cathy recently picked up a used ipod and cross-country skis, which she used during the snowpocalyse. Some places to start: eBay, Craigslist, and Freecycle. Of course, some items are even better used, like this bike or this El Camino...
Thanks to Andrew for his reusing input.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Recycle old thermostats

Well, I haven't had many thermostats in my time, but now one can easily recycle thermostats at Frager's and other locations around DC. There is a big push to keep mercury out of the environment, which has led to the creation of collection points around the country organized by the Thermostat Recycling Corporation. Check the TRC or Earth911 websites for locations. Thanks to Cathy on her recycling reconnaissance.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Post Subscribers: Reuse your bags

After years of getting the Post and recycling the daily plastic bags, I finally realized that I could "donate" these bags to my neighbors with dogs. Some dog owners prefer to use biodegradable bags, but they might not realize that these biodegradable bags don't actually degrade in landfills and require specific kinds of composting, so it is no worse to reuse plastic bags. The bag tax has decreased the number of plastic bags that dog owners could reuse. In spite of these trends, Post subscribers (and their plastic bags) are plentiful on Capitol Hill! Some alternatives are:

1) Post subscribers can give your bags regularly to a neighbor with a dog.
2) Post subscribers can drop off your bags at a dog park with a bag holder. In general, make certain the bags are clean and don't have any holes.
3) Dog owners can ask their Post-subscribing neighbors for their plastic bags.
4) Dog owners can install bag holders for Post bags at their local dog parks.