Friday, August 8, 2008

Best US Green Places to Live?

Country Home magazine, in conjunction with Sperling's BestPlaces, reveals that Burlington, Vermont is the 2007 Best Green Place to live in America.

Burlington is located on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain between the Adirondack and Green Mountains in northwest Vermont and has a population of 40,000. With programs like Burlington Eco Info Project, the community of Burlington, including the residents, businesses and government, values a green lifestyle and makes it a priority.

"We are seeing a real interest, by both our readers and the marketplace, in exploring a green lifestyle," said Editor-in-Chief Carol Sheehan. "We wanted to find out who in America is actually taking action, where they are, and what they are doing."

Best Green Places
Burlington, VT
Ithaca, NY
Corvallis, OR
Springfield, MA
Wenatchee, WA
Charlottesville, VA
Boulder, CO
Madison, WI
Binghamton, NY
Champaign-Urbana, IL
Ann Arbor, MI
San Diego, CA
La Crosse, WI
Pittsfield, MA
Eau Claire, WI
Durham, NC
Norwich-New London, CT
Eugene, OR
San Francisco, CA
Chico, CA
Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA
Barnstable Town, MA
Utica-Rome, NY
Missoula, MT
Asheville, NC

The Best Green Places study, which is based on data discovered by Sperling's BestPlaces, examines 24 data metrics in 5 major categories -- including air and watershed quality, mass transit usage, power usage, farmers markets, organic producers, and number of green-certified buildings -- to determine which metro areas are the best places to live a green life. Sperling's BestPlaces ranked the 379 major metropolitan areas, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. Over 80 percent of all U.S. residents live in these 379 metro areas.

Data was collected from sources which include the Census Bureau, the U.S. Green Building Council, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, the online directory.

Among its unique green attributes, Burlington has developed a compost facility that collects food scraps from restaurants, supermarkets, institutions and food manufacturers, and the yard clippings and leaves from local residents and landscapers. Once finished composting, local farmers, gardeners and landscapers purchase this nutrient rich soil to use.

Over 16 percent of Ithaca residents (or 5,000 people) walk to work -- the highest percentage in the nation. Combine that with bike riders, mass transit users and home office workers and Ithaca has the greenest commuters.

In Corvallis, over 15 percent residents, as well as the city government, purchase renewable energy. Corvallis was the first city on the West Coast to achieve the Green Power Community designation from the U.S. EPA. The achievement was met after the Corvallis City Council passed a resolution encouraging residents to switch to 'green power.'

Springfield's ReStore accepts donations home improvement materials and sells them to the public at low prices in a convenient retail setting. Inventory includes used and salvaged materials and surplus stock from the building industry.

Wentachee is dedicated to teaching young people about alternative energy resources. Each year at the world's only Solar Drag Race, high school and college students, build and race battery-less, sunlight-propelled dragsters for a chance to win scholarships.

The Charlottesville community puts a value on trees, parks, greenspace, streams and biodiversity. In an effort to balance the natural and built environment and practice sustainability, Charlottesville encourages the use of green roofs, rainwater harvesting, porous paving and rain gardens. These concepts are being demonstrated by the city to encourage adoption in parks and public spaces.

Boulder has the country's best organic food supply. The state's largest farmers' market is in Boulder and runs from April to November and is backed by Whole Foods and a network of co-ops and local producers.

In Madison, the Eco-Fruit project, based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has both policy and field components that enable Wisconsin fruit growers to reduce pesticide use without sacrificing fruit quality. In the Eco-Fruit project's first two years, growers reduced pesticide risk by 58 percent and increased their reliance on Integrated Pest Management strategies by 13 percent.

Binghamton nonprofit organizations extensively promote healthy and organic eating habits. One volunteer group, Club VEG reaches out to educate the public, health care professionals, and health organizations about the benefits of a plant-based diet.

Renewable Energy Initiative at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is working to meet the state's renewable portfolio standard which requires that, by 2006, at least 2% of the electricity sold to Illinois customers be generated from renewable resources. The amount of electricity from renewable resources is required to increase at least by 1% annually, reaching at least 8% in 2012 and 16% in 2020.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Impossible Task of Cutting Plastic Out of Your Life

Perhaps more companies will soon discover the merits of the Cradle to Cradle design philosophy, and we’ll soon have a wealth of materials that are even better than plastic that don’t harm the earth. And perhaps we can all be a little more conscious about the life cycle of every item we purchase – especially plastic – for our health and for the eart

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

25 Tips to Make Your Apartment an Eco Friendly Paradise

Renting an apartment should not make you feel exempt from doing your part for the environment and saving yourself some money while you are at it. It may seem like most of the world is talking about “Going Green” but they are talking about their own homes and their cars. What about the apartment dwellers among us?

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Get Schooled

You may be paying up to $10 in extra fees when you purchase a TV or monitor to cover the costs of recycling. If you're already paying to recycle them, are you taking advantage of free disposal options? Find locations to recycle electronics using
Get Movin'

Want the ultimate tip on reuse? Keep your library card current and use it for your literary needs. This will cut down on paper use as well as book disposal.
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Composting is an easy way to reduce your waste while producing nutrient rich soil for the garden. Learn more about the tools and materials you need to get started at's Composting page.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


DAKAR, Senegal - Greenpeace called on the world's electronics companies Tuesday to eliminate hazardous chemicals from their products, saying toxic waste from wealthy nations' gadgets ends up being dumped in poor countries despite laws prohibiting it.

The environmental watchdog made the appeal in a new report on the electronic waste trade, which it said was spreading from Asia to West Africa — particularly Ghana, where discarded TVs and computers that contain toxic materials are being dismantled by children as young as 5.

"Unless companies eliminate all hazardous chemicals from their electronic products and take responsibility for the entire life cycle of their products, this poisonous dumping will continue," said Martin Hojsik, a Greenpeace campaigner. "Electronics companies must not allow their products to end up poisoning the poor around the world."

Many of the old computers, monitors and television sets that end up in Ghana come from the European Union, despite laws there prohibiting the export of such hazardous materials, Greenpeace said. In particular, the report cited shipments from Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands — as well as Korea.

The materials are exported as "second hand goods" and purportedly meant to be reusable. But the report, citing a EU official, said most of these goods imported into Africa are broken and cannot be used again.

In Ghana, the discarded waste is dismantled at scrap yards, where it is crushed or burned to separate plastics from more valuable metals like aluminum or copper, a process that pollutes the environment and exposes workers to toxic fumes.

A Greenpeace team visited two main waste sites in Ghana — one in the capital and another in the smaller city of Korforidua. Soil samples analyzed at Britain's University of Exeter contained phthalates, which are suspected of causing reproductive problems, and lead.

The report noted that while the EU officially prohibits such exports, the United States does not.

Leading computer makers, including Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Apple Inc., have launched or expanded recycling programs in recent years. But overall, environmental groups and government regulators have said that a small percentage of electronics are actually being submitted for recycling.

Monday, August 4, 2008

245 Million Chances to Recycle

245 million tons. That’s the amount of garbage Americans consign to landfills every year.

For America Recycles Day, November 15, please take a moment to think of ways to decrease your own landfill contributions.

The good news is recycling programs are working, with almost half of all paper products and aluminum cans reclaimed every year. Unfortunately, only a small fraction of technology products are reused. As an example, a meager two percent of the 130 million used cell phones replaced every year are recycled.

The cause, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, is that three-quarters of Americans are not aware of recycling options. In addition, the shrinking size and price of new wireless cell phones has created a misperception that they are a “disposable” technology.

As result, the vast majority of used cell phones are temporarily stashed in junk drawers and storage closets before ultimately being discarded – contributing a staggering 13,750 tons of unused cell phones to landfills every year.

Many of these cellular phones are still functional, and could be reused by other mobile phone subscribers. Those that aren’t functional contain valuable materials that can be reclaimed, reducing the need for new sources of gold, platinum, nickel and plastics.

To raise awareness for cell phone recycling, ReCellular, Sprint and Keep America Beautiful is holding a nationwide recycling campaign to “Wipe Out Wireless Waste.” Our goal is to collect and recycle 100,000 pounds of wireless cell phones, batteries and accessories.

Please help support our mission by donating your cell phones to a Keep America Beautiful affiliate in your community, or by downloading a prepaid mailing label at

About half of the cell phones collected from this program will be refurbished and reused – the ultimate form of recycling. The remaining equipment will be smelted down at a facility regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency to reclaim valuable materials, including precious metals from circuit boards, heavy metals from batteries and plastic from cases and accessories.

Proceeds from the collections will benefit Keep America Beautiful affiliate programs across the US, including litter clean-ups on public lands and waterways, additional recycling events, tree and flower plantings, educational workshops, vacant lot restorations and a diversity of hands-on stewardship projects.

We believe that each of us holds an obligation to preserve and protect our environment. Through our everyday choices and actions, we collectively have a huge impact on our world. It’s really a simple concept, but one with far reaching effects.

So, please, answer the call to action on America Recycles Day and recycle your newspaper, aluminum cans, plastic containers … and your used cell phones.

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