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Monitoring Pollution

Green Company Profile: To-Go Ware

To-Go Ware

Why Its Keen:

Kelly Farkas of To-Go Ware introduces the company well:

"To-Go Ware provides reusable, non-plastic eating ware, including bamboo utensils, stainless steel food carriers and handcrafted accessories from communities abroad. Giving people some great options to reduce their forkprint while on-the-go. Our mission is to make available innovative products that provide a solution, tell a great story, and are enjoyable to use."

 

... read more

Concord, Massachusetts: the First U.S. Town to Ban Bottled Water

I'm not quite sure how I missed this tidbit of news, as it came out back in April.  

Concord, Massachusetts, home to Walden Pond and the original concord grapevine, has banned the sale of bottled water starting in 2011.  The measured will only allow the sale of refillable containers of water, which could still be sold and delivered in Concord.

The effort was lead by Jean Hill, an 80-something-year old activist.  She lobbied neighbors and officials on the serious environmental consequences of plastic bottles filling landfills and creating more pollution. 

The International Bottled Water Association released this statement about the ban.   I didn't even KNOW there was an International Bottled Water Association!  Their entire website made my blood boil.   Additionally, Joe Doss, president of the IBWA said:  "We obviously don’t think highly of the vote in Concord. Any efforts to discourage consumers from drinking water, whether tap water or bottled water, is not in the best interests of consumers. Bottled water is a very healthy, safe, convenient product that consumers use to stay hydrated." [source]  Oh, okay, Mr. Doss.  ... read more

Cigarette Litter

Last summer, I wrote a blog post about how bad cigarettes are for the environment.   Today, I want to follow-up with the problems associated with cigarette litter.

Seeing people toss their cigarette butts outside makes my blood boil.  I don't know why some smokers think that somehow cigarette butts don't "count" as litter.  Throwing cigarette butts on the ground is disgusting, careless, and ugly.  And it needs to stop.  

SmokeFree.Gov has resources for those who want to quit smoking.  But for those who haven't been able to successfully quit, please do not litter your butts.  Even SmokingSection.com, a PRO smokers group, says:  "Considerate smokers don't litter. Those who do deserve criticism as much as any other litterer."

Billions of cigarettes are littered every day.  Cigarette filters are not biodegradable, and even if they were, I find this to be an invalid excuse.  My used tissue is biodegradable, but I'm not going to toss it out from my car window, like one would a cigarette.  And while one may think that it is just "one little cigarette," one cigarette from each smoker who litters their butts adds up to a lot.  

Cigarette litter can cause fires.  They also end up in waterways and sometimes marine life will ingest them.  There was a study done last year stating that they kill fish.  Read here.  ... read more

Green Company Profile: ChicoBag!

To continue my "ban the bag saga," here is a Company profile on ChicoBag, my personal favorite in the reusable bag sector.

Why its Keen:

ChicoBag has a very inspirational start-up story: "In early 2004, Andy Keller, now ChicoBag™ president, took a trip to his local landfill after spending the day landscaping his backyard. He was horrified by what he saw. Single-use bags were the dominant article at the landfill that day, blanketing the landscape in a thin mix of white and beige plastic. On his way home he began to notice plastic bags everywhere, caught in trees and on fence posts, half drowned in gutter puddles and blowing in the streets like urban tumbleweeds. That day Andy vowed to stop using single-use bags. Inspired, Andy dropped a few bucks on a second hand sewing machine and began sewing what would ultimately become the first ChicoBag™ brand reusable bag."... read more

Interview with Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, Author of AB 1998 - Ban the Bag

I have had the wonderful opportunity to connect with Assemblywoman Julia Brownley regarding the pending legislation bill that if passed, would BAN THE BAG!! This issue hits very close to home for me because UCSB friends and I have spent a lot of time and effort raising awareness of the detrimental effects single-use bags have on our local environment while also promoting reusable bags. Assemblywoman Brownley is taking initiative in addressing this issue through AB 1998. If passed, the bill will be a milestone California can be proud of in terms of environmental protection in the form of prevention instead of mitigation... This interview is a great follow-up to a recent post I made about AB 1998. (Keep your eyes open for an upcoming Company profile with ChicoBag!)... read more

Ban the Bag! California's effort to ban the use of single-use plastic bags

Over 19 billion plastic bags are used annually in California, and constitute one of the largest forms of urban litter pollution. Urban litter pollution is the primary component of marine litter, which feeds into the North Pacific Gyre - also known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.... read more

Boycotting BP

According to BoycottBP.org in regards to BP's oil spill cleanup "efforts" --  "BP has been quick to publicize the enormity of its response efforts. By their own estimates, they are spending 6 million dollars per day. Contrast that number with their average daily revenue of 654 million dollars (during 2009). They're spending less than 1% of daily revenue on their cleanup efforts!"  

Come on, BP.  You can do better than that.

This isn't even the first time we've seen BP being careless with our environment.

It's time to find a new place to fill up your tank.  

The following are the brands to avoid:... read more

Sewage Sludge: Everything You Wanted to Know but Were Afraid to Ask

I've been looking into sludge.  It's not a pretty picture.   I am working on a profile of Micromidas, a Clean Tech Open finalist that aims to make the business of treating raw sewage a bit less messy by extracting carbon from sludge and turning it into biodegradable plastics.  But more on that later this week.   Sewage, sludge, human waste  ... it's a dirty problem and one of the major by-products of human civilization.   I came across this fascinating writeup -  Civilization & Sludge: Notes on the History of the Management of Human Excreta. 

I remember mulling over this problem as a child (kids are fascinated with poop) .... where does it all go?  This article traces the history of mankind's battle with with their by-products.  It's been ugly and we have just been moving the problem from one place to another.   Whether it has been cesspools polluting private property, open city sewers causing mass outbreaks of cholera, typhoid when the sewage was dumped into nearby rivers or disgusting beaches when we pursued dumping sewage into the ocean with a "solution by dilution" approach. ... read more

Green test your home and save money!

How would your home or building perform on a Green test?

Buildings and homes rarely operate at peak performance. The sector of building and home efficiency audits,  a growing vocation in the San Francisco Bay Area and California, focuses on optimizing the comfort of buildings and houses occupants, money saving, along with reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving utilization of resources. Image by Avi Decorative Painting, Inc.Image by Avi Decorative Painting, Inc.... read more

The benefits of hybrid commuter vehicles: electric bikes and tricycles

Electric bikes and tricycles have become environmentally responsible hybrid commuter vehicles with excellent mileage and very low operating costs - 3 miles per penny!


Both ebikes and tricycles might transform urban mobility, as more and more people take to them. As a replacement for short car rides, they emit minimal carbon dioxide, compared to a car ride, and help residents reduce their total carbon footprint. Image from Schwinn.com


In addition to environmental benefits, ebike lovers indicate 5 more reasons to prefer electric bike or trike:


(Click here to read about electric bicycles environmental benefits)


1) Health benefits – Electric bikes enable people with temporary or long-term physical limitations to enjoy biking. Many ebike models offer simultaneous motor and pedal use for some degree of physical activity.2) Convenience – It’s always there for you and enables easy riding around town, running errands, and even shopping (it can fit a small load of grocery bags). Parking is never an issue. Some models fit child-seats or a trailer. For longer trips, most models are light and easily fit into an average car trunk.3) Money consideration - Cheaper than a car and you don’t need to pay for car insurance, taxes, and maintenance costs, even parking tickets. There are also considerations of rising gasoline prices.... read more

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