Showing posts with label Reduce. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reduce. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

8 Ways to Green 4th of July

This Fourth of July, make sure you and your fellow party goers remember to keep Mother Nature in mind while you celebrate. Photo: Flickr/cyanocorax
The Fourth of July is right around the corner! Summer’s hottest holiday will no doubt call for backyard barbecuing, fireworks and maybe even a dip in the pool.

Here’s how to throw a little green into your mix of red, white and blue.

1. Ditch the disposable party ware
They’re popular and easy. Disposable plates, cups and utensils are convenient for parties with a lot of guests. The down side, they’re not so convenient for the environment.

To avoid this, do your best to use normal tableware that can just be washed and reused. If you must go the disposable route, clean them up (they’re often washable) and use them at your next big gathering.

We also love the “bring your own plate” theme. The hodgepodge of different dishes can serve as talking points at your party. An added bonus: Turn it into a dish swap. Bring your own dish and leave with a different plate for your collection.

The same idea works for glassware. Instead of charging a “keg fee,” a party-goer’s ticket is his or her own glass.

2. Get outside!
The best way to reduce your party’s footprint is to calculate its energy usage. The No. 1 way to avoid added costs to your electric bill is to utilize the outdoors – perfect lighting, temperature and truly inherent green setting.

Host your barbecue at midday when the light is bright and fills your crowd with energy. Or fight soaring temperatures and take advantage of the cooler evening weather. It’s a great way to enjoy nature and reduce the energy costs of using indoor facilities.

3. Use propane for grilling
Before diving into this one, we want to point out that we are not trying to step on any grillmaster’s toes. The debate between charcoal and propane is a tough one: Which one produces more flavor? Which is cheaper, faster? And most importantly, which is more eco-friendly?

We consulted a recent study by Environment Impact Assessment Review to answer this one. Drum roll, please…

According to the study, “the overwhelming factors are that as a fuel, LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) is dramatically more efficient than charcoal in its production and considerably more efficient in cooking.”

The two grilling methods were defined by their overall footprint, with charcoal using 998 kg of CO2, almost three times more than propane, which weighed in at 349 kg.

ScienceDaily reports that as fuel, LPG is “dramatically more efficient than charcoal in its production.” When purchasing a propane tank, make sure there is a trade-in option. Most retailers will let you bring in an empty tank in exchange for a decent discount on your next tank.

4. Save (and reuse) your decorations
If you’ve hosted Independence Day celebrations before, you know the d├ęcor is often the same: streamers, party favors and table toppers all in bold red, white and blue.

Sadly, most people often use these decorations once and then throw them out. But they can be reused year after year! So, this year, after the party’s over, take the time to store and save your decorations. You or someone you know can use them again next year, which helps to save on a bit of unneeded trash.

5. Opt for greener fireworks
Fireworks are hardly an environmentally friendly activity, but they’re an unwavering Fourth of July tradition. If you’re setting off your own fireworks this year, be sure to use fireworks rich in nitrogen. They often cost a bit more but put out less smoke into the environment.

Another option is to gather your group and go see your local fireworks display. It’s a great way to see a much bigger fireworks show and negates you from harming the environment with your own personal display.

6. Gather in groups
This may seem like a no-brainer for such a popular holiday, but the larger a group you gather (preferably outdoors), the less energy you use at individual parties that may take place indoors. Plus, the more people to help prepare and purchase food, the less of a cost it is to each individual. Just make sure your fellow party goers know these green tips!

7. Use large water containers
Plastic water bottles are convenient, but like other disposable goods, they can add up fast. In lieu of individual plastic bottles, store water for your family or guests in large containers so they can re-fill their reusable water bottles or reusable cups. If you must use plastic water bottles, be sure to encourage your guests to recycle them.

8. Don’t forget to recycle
One of the easiest ways to go green is to recycle your waste. So be sure to put a clearly marked bin out at your party.

If you did opt for disposable dinnerware, remember that those plastic plates, cups and utensils can be recycled. Paper plates will have to be thrown out or composted due to food residue.

If you’re unsure about recycling specific materials in your area, we’ve got you covered. Use Earth911 to find local recycling centers for your common party waste, such as plastic bottles, aluminum cans and glass bottles.

Amanda Wills is the East Coast Editor of

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Drink in Earth Day

The history of environmental awareness day points to the future


April 22, 1970, marked the very first Earth Day. Over 20 million people took part in rallies, cleanups, teach-ins and other activities across America, and it’s commonly considered to mark the dawn of environmental consciousness in North America. This day of action for the environment went global in 1990. Since then, it’s become an annual event held to raise awareness about the preciousness of our natural resources, and take action against over-consumption, pollution and climate change.

This year’s Earth Day will be celebrated by close to a billion participants in countries around the globe. In fact, says the Earth Day Network, “Earth Day is the only event celebrated simultaneously around the globe by people of all backgrounds, faiths and nationalities.” In the U.S., millions of people will mark the day by participating in rallies, as well as tree planting projects; cleanups of parks, schoolyards, rivers, shores and roadsides; pond restoration projects; community garden initiatives and more.

Drink in Earth Day
A refreshing change: A refillable water bottle is an easy way to make an environmental statement.

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by close to a billion participants in countries around the globe. In fact, says the Earth Day Network, “Earth Day is the only event celebrated simultaneously around the globe by people of all backgrounds, faiths and nationalities.” In the U.S., millions of people will mark the day by participating in rallies, as well as tree planting projects; cleanups of parks, schoolyards, rivers, shores and roadsides; pond restoration projects; community garden initiatives and more.

Today we are more environmentally aware than ever, but there is still a long way to go before we can live a truly sustainable and environmentally sensitive way of life.

Do your part by practicing the 3 ‘R’S:

  • Reducing (cutting your consumption)
  • Reusing (getting more life out of the things you already own)
  • Recycling (disposing of things responsibly so the resources can be used again rather than sent to a landfill).

Also, bike, walk or run to an Earth Day activity. To learn what’s happening in your community, click on Earth Day Network’s international listing of events.

One of the simplest yet most effective ways to reduce the amount of waste your household generates is to buy less bottled water. Americans consume more bottled water than any other country in the world, at 26 billion liters per year (2004 figures from the respected environmental organization Earth Policy Institute). Yet according to the Container Recycling Institute, an estimated 86% of plastic water bottles go unrecycled every year in America alone.

Cut the litter, and save your money by toting a Rubbermaid beverage bottle and filling it up from taps and water coolers during the day. Good hydration improves health and wellness, and water is your best option. Available in great new designs with user-friendly features like different lids to suit different sipping styles, there’s a water bottle or personal water jug for everyone in your family.

Posted via web from eWaste Disposal and Recycling

Friday, June 5, 2009

Major cache of fossils unearthed in L.A.

A nearly intact mammoth, dubbed Zed, is among the remarkable discoveries near the La Brea Tar Pits. It's the largest known deposit of Pleistocene ice age fossils.

The largest known deposit of fossils from the last ice age has been found in what might seem to be the unlikeliest of places -- under an old May Co. parking lot in L.A.'s tony Miracle Mile shopping district.

Mammoth BonesOur Mammoth bones average 14-16 in. Coverd with meat, smoked, natural.

Researchers from the George C. Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits have barely begun extracting the fossils from the sandy, tarry matrix of soil, but they expect the find to double the size of the museum's collection from the period, already the largest in the world.

Among their finds, to be formally announced Wednesday, is the nearly intact skeleton of a Columbian mammoth -- named Zed by researchers -- a prize discovery because only bits and pieces of mammoths have previously been found in the tar pits.

But researchers are perhaps even more excited about finding smaller fossils of tree trunks, turtles, snails, clams, millipedes, fish, gophers and even mats of oak leaves. The first excavators at La Brea threw out similar items in their haste to find prized animal bones, and crucial information about the period was lost.

"This gives us the opportunity to get a detailed picture of what life was like 10,000 to 40,000 years ago" in the Los Angeles Basin, said John Harris, chief curator at the Page. The find will make the museum "the major library of life in the Pleistocene ice age," he said.

Because of its need for haste, the team also is pioneering a new technique for extracting the fossils. Most paleontologists spend days to weeks carefully sifting through the soil at the site of a dig. In this case, however, huge chunks of soil from the site have been removed intact and now sit in large wooden crates on the back lot of the Page.

The 23 crates range in size from 5 feet by 5 feet by 5 feet to 19 feet by 12 feet by 10 feet -- from the size of a desk to that of a small delivery truck -- and are responsible for the excavation's informal name, Project 23.

The site of the old two-story parking garage, formerly used by the now-defunct May Co., is located immediately west and adjacent to the Page in Hancock Park. The Page's sister museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, owned the building and had razed it to construct an underground parking garage that would restore parkland above the structure.

The entire Rancho La Brea area at Hancock Park is a paleontological treasure chest. Petroleum from the once-massive underground oil fields oozed to the surface over the millenniums, forming bogs that trapped and killed unsuspecting animals and then preserved their skeletons. It is now a protected site, although dispensation was granted to build the new garage.
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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

George W Bush moves to protect ocean reefs, fish and volanoes

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Installfest to help schools and combat e-Waste

Volunteers at the tradeshow will install Linux and open source software (including Ubuntu 8.04, Firefox, OpenOFfice and more) on donated and recycled computers from the Alameda County Computer Resource Center. Most of the models will be Pentium III systems with 256 megabytes of RAM and a 20-gigabyte hard drive. The whole shebang, which could be up to 1,000 systems at the end of the fest, will be donated to local schools. Here are more details on how you can get involved if you’re going to be at the show. Hack away! If you WON’T be there, here’s a link where you can look into planning an event in your own neighborhood.”

This is a fantastic initiative that deserves as much publicity as possible. Not only does this provide needy schools with valuable computer resources, it helps keep working hardware from leeching their toxic chemicals into waste dumps.

I elaborated on this notion a few years ago on my other blog in a post called e-Waste (27 June 2006). Rather than reiterate what I’ve already said there, I’ll just republish the post in its entirety:


In many ways the computer age has done a lot for the environment. Innovative technologies and tools that have enabled the digitisation of information - including word processing, financial record keeping and mail correspondence - have largely reduced our reliance on paper as a storage and transportation medium. You can bank and send mail online, store and view photographs, and even read the newspaper - all without printing a single page. Handwriting has become almost a novelty.

Furthermore these points just highlight traditional day-to-day activities. The medical benefits realised through technological innovation have enabled doctors and physicians to conduct extremely complicated procedures, process complex biomedical experiments and pharmaceutical tests, and monitor minute fluctuations in the condition of a very ill person; all of which would have very difficult in the past - if not impossible.


However this age is not without its issues. So-called e-waste dumps are now growing at an exponential rate, and the amassing of these towering heaps of corroding hardware is becoming a huge problem. Aside from being both eyesores and harddrive graveyards, discarded computers are creating environmental issues of their own.

With technological advances occurring at an incredible rate, what was once a top-of-the-line motherboard, graphics card or monitor is now an old clunker. And increasingly these old jalopies are being hucked onto the scrap heap. The shear mountain of discarded computer hardware is no small figure either.

As a BBC article discussed yesterday (”PC users ‘want greener machines’“, Monday, 26 June 2006): “30 million PCs [are] being dumped each year in the US alone.” That’s one computer for every 10 people - every year. These dumps have to go somewhere, and that unfortunate role has been increasingly assigned to China and India.

Furthermore, the presence of all this corroding hardware in one place has begun to present additional problems in the form of toxic waste. As a UN University report discussed: “making the average PC required 10 times the weight of the machine in chemicals and fossil fuels.” This includes Lead, Arsenic, and Mercury. When you consider the volume of these chemicals leaching out from 30 million corroding computers every year, their implications for local public and environmental health are worrying.

As the article mentions, there an increasing demand for greener PC’s coming from both consumers and IT companies alike who are willing to pay extra for a more environmentally-friendly machine. Dell, Hewlett Packard, Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson have all made commitments to either remove completely or phase out hazardous chemicals.

I am personally glad to hear about this trend; yet I also propose that more is required.

‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ in the Computer Age

We have reached a staged in the computer age in which technology for most is an integral component of our daily existence. Computers are everywhere; so too are the chemicals used to create them. And while some consumers may be willing to pay a little extra for a greener PC, many will not. Some PC makers may begin to adopt greener practices in their manufacturing, many will not. Furthermore, even if every computer manufacturer decided to immediately elminate hazardous chemicals from their computers and computer hardware there would still be literally ten’s of millions of existing machines that contain them.

So the dilemma is both in the present and future tense. What do we do with our existing machines, and how can we can we make the transition to a Green Computer Age?

In terms of the future tense it appears as though we’re moving in the right direction. Consumer demand does a lot in the business world, so the more buyers voice their interest in green technology the more likely it is that we’ll begin to see it. This leaves the present tense.

What needs to be done here is the implementation of wide-scale Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle programs for computers and other IT components. We have been well and truly taught to Reduce our reliance on petrol and fossil fuels by car pooling, taking public transportation and even riding our bicycles; Reuse or re-purpose materials that aren’t necessarily broken, but don’t serve their original purpose anymore; and Recycle our aluminum cans, plastic and glass bottles and newspapers. Why could the same campaign not be implemented for computers?

We could in fact kills two birds with one stone, and help to combat the growing chasm between computer have’s and have-not’s that characterises the Digital Divide.

Combating the Digital Divide

The Digital Divide is a trend in which poorer demographics are increasingly being left behind in the endless race to build bigger, better and faster hardware. Schools are being forced to use hardware that has long been obsolete (some don’t have any at all); students are being left behind in the trend towards eLearning and other online educational projects; and jobseekers are being placed at an obvious disadvantage when they can’t upskill on technology that is becoming a required ability in the workforce.

If it’s not broken, don’t replace it; if you have to replace it, give it so someone who needs it, don’t throw it away. Your old computer can help a child to learn, a jobseeker to gain valuable skills to make them more employable, or it can contribute to a growing public health and environmental problem. Which would you prefer?

HVAC boot cleared of Asbestos in Los Angeles