Friday, April 30, 2010

The easiest and most effective environmental action: Sign up for wind power

Yes, the easiest and most effective thing you can do TODAY for the planet is sign up for 100% wind power through your electric company. When you do this, they have to buy wind power, which means that they don't have as much money to buy coal plants. It's really easy. For those in DC, MD, and VA:

1) Go to this form.

2) Fill out the form (with your electric account number on hand).

Totally easy! More info can be found at Clean Currents. Also wind energy rates are LOWER than Pepco and BGE Maryland Residential Rates. I looked at the actual Pepco rate schedules, which are rather confusing, but wind is 10.8 cents/kwh, while the standard rate is definitely above 10 cents/kwh (unclear by how much). In any case, the environmental benefits are huge, so switch now.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Amazing Recycling Factoid

Did you know that recycling one ton of paper saves 3700 pounds of lumber and 24,000 gallons of water? Please recycle.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

NW Cork Recycling Drop-Off Location!

Heads Up! Cork & Fork stores in MD, VA, and DC (DC address: 1522 14th street NW) are now cork recycling drop-off centers, working in collaboration with ReCork America. It seems that the DC store will open on May 8th. Of course, Whole Foods is also collecting corks. Start collecting natural corks and bring them in! Natural cork is being turned into shoes, floor and wall tile, etc. Be part of the cork recycling movement!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Has recycling gone too far? No

Today's Examiner has an article that argues that recycling has gone too far and that counties are wasting money on recycling. The article has rather strange views on the goals of recycling. To the author of the article, it seems that people recycle because it makes them feel good, because they want to hit certain recycling targets (like recycling 50% of waste), and because it is politically unpopular to build new landfills. Aside from recycling aluminum and white office paper, it seems that there is no environmental or economical reason to recycle.

This article is so old fashioned and contradicts other ideals of the right-wing, such as its support of the market. It is rather strange that The Examiner would make such an argument against recycling, since recycling is a huge, expanding business. There is a market for these items. Why is there a market? Because recycling provides raw materials for production at a good price. The article makes it seem as if the items were being taken to a recycling center and then stored there in pretty green boxes, when, in fact, the items are sold often on the global market. The real question to ask is whether there is an adequate market for certain recycled items. Many businesses have created new products that use recycled materials because these materials are cheaper than buying new and because many consumers are looking for such items, such as partially or completely recycled printer paper. Municipal and country governments across the country are helping to create these new markets. Thus, new markets for recycled materials are being created all the time. In addition, many communities do not have enough space for new landfills. Maybe they are densely populated? Maybe they would rather have parks or new houses? Would hauling garbage to far-away landfills be better than recycling? Maybe they have been forced to expand recycling because they do not see any other solution?

The right wing is ideologically "pro-business," but does not seem to have much contact with real businesses and their new trends. Stuck in old ways of thinking...

Happy Earth Day!!

From Writer's Almanac (accompanying a great, surreal poem about the telephone):

Today is Earth Day. And it's also the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day — held on this day in 1970 and widely considered to the birth of the modern environmental movement.

Earth Day's founder was a senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson. His goal was to force environmental issues onto the national agenda. Before 1970, stories about the environment were almost never reported. One Earth Day organizer said that back then, "Environment was a word that appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news."

In 1969, an oil pipe ruptured just off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, causing 200,000 gallons of crude oil to burst forth and then slowly leak out and spread over an 800-square-mile slick. It took 11 days to plug the hole. The oil poisoned seals and dolphins, whose corpses washed up onto California beaches, and it killed thousands of seabirds as well. Senator Nelson visited the site of the enormous ecological disaster and was outraged that nobody in Washington seemed to be concerned about the great devastation to the natural environment. And then he realized that many people simply didn't really know.

So he proposed a national "teach-in," an event to take place on universities campuses around the nation, one that would educate the public, raise awareness on environmental issues, and make politicians pay attention to these things, so that they would make laws to protect the environment in order to, as he said, "stem the tide of environmental disaster."

He saw how successful the anti-war protestors were at getting media coverage — and therefore, making politicians take notice — and he decided to base his campaign for environmental awareness on their model. He also hoped to infuse the same student anti-war energy into the environmental cause. He proposed setting aside one day a year as a national day of observance about environmental problems. The New York Times picked up the story in late September 1969, a great boon to the grassroots organizers of the campaign, who had no Internet to spread the word.

At first, Senator Nelson called it National Environment Teach-In Day, but his friend, a New York advertising executive suggested "Earth Day," especially catchy since it rhymes with "birthday," and that's what the press began to call it. Historian Adam Rome has called Earth Day the "most famous unknown event in modern American history."

About 20 million Americans participated in the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. They gathered at assemblies in high school gyms, at university plazas, in suburban city parks. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where Gaylord Nelson had graduated from law school, people met up at 4:45 a.m. for an "Earth Service," where, according to one report, they "greeted the sunrise with a Sanskrit invocation and read together from Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, Thoreau, and the Bible." Girl Scouts distributed pamphlets that Wisconsin grad students had written, which gave household tips for helping to preserve the environment. Tens of thousands met up in Philadelphia's Fairmont Park — and stayed there for days — and 100,000 streamed into Fifth Avenue in New York City. People celebrated spring weather and gave impassioned political speeches about environmental issues.

Though unstructured and somewhat incohesive, Earth Day was hugely successful. Environmental issues found a prominent place on the political agenda. Earth Day in April 1970 helped lead to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency by the end of that year (the EPA was created December 2, 1970), as well as to the passage of legislation like the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species acts.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What is the most recycled product in the US??

According to Scientific America (via Treehugger): "It's not aluminum cans--only half are recycled. Or even office paper, at more than 70 percent. It's the lead acid batteries from your car. More than 99 percent of such batteries wind up recycled, keeping toxic lead out of landfills and waterways." More than 99%! Metals are reclaimed from the batteries. However, do we understand where this recycling is done and under what conditions?

Wow! Earth Day Photo

Wow! In honor of Earth Day on Thursday, the International League of Conservation Photographers has chosen the top 40 nature photos.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Whole Foods is E-Cycling on 4/17

All the Whole Foods stores in the DC/VA/MD are collecting electronics for recycling on Saturday. The first region-wide Whole Foods Market E-Cycling event in January was able to collect and divert over 169,000 lbs of e-waste from landfills for recycling. This time, the retailer is working to continue this mission and raise awareness that some of the most precious resources on our planet are 100% recyclable and reclaimable. So, bring your electronics (and your natural wine corks) to any Whole Foods on 4/17!

List of acceptable items include:
· Desktop computers, keyboards and mice
· Laptop computers
· Mainframe computer systems
· Cathode Ray Tubes (CRTs) and monitors
· Modems and telephone boards
· Hard drives, floppy drives and CD ROMs
· Phones, fax machines and telecommunications hardware
· Printers
· Computer boards, CPUs and memory chips, circuit boards
· Connecting wires and cables
**Note: TVs and batteries are not accepted
**Any hard drives in computers will be removed, scrubbed, and destroyed by Esquire Environmental after collection.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

DC Whole Foods is recycling cork, compost, etc.

Taken your natural wine corks to the P Street Whole Foods (to the Wine Section), where they are recycling them through Cork ReHarvest. They also collect #5 plastics (Brita water filters, yogurt type containers), compost, and gently used clothing. Whole Foods sends the #5 plastics to Preserve, which uses them to make recycled household products including toothbrushes, razors, tableware, and kitchen products.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Mysterious bag of corks

A mysterious Mexican woven bag full of corks arrived on our front porch yesterday. Thanks to the mysterious collector!

Earth Day is coming soon! (4/22)

Everyone is welcome to these free events around the Hill and DC:

*Global Days of Service, 4/17-4/18
*Library of Congress, "Green Office" Earth Day celebration, 4/21 @ 1:30-4pm. Learn about new ways to green your office.
*Change the Climate Rally, the Mall, 4/25
*Anacostia River Clean-up, 4/25
*EPA video contest, make your own video and send it to EPA
*Billion Acts of Green website, register your Act of Green, anytime

I just added my own act of green -- I will blog about recycling -- to the Billion Acts of Green website. I am about #5,062,762!