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Jun 272013
 

From Green Right Now Reports

There are times it makes sense to make a single cup of coffee.

Suncana Coffee Maker, part of the BluTigres system

The Suncana coffee maker.

Like when it’s just you who needs a brew. (Pardon the rhyme.) But those single-serve coffee machines that have swept the planet — you know the ones — are creating a mountain of plastic waste, a blizzard of tiny disposable cups, most of which cannot even be recycled.

At least someone’s been thinking about this problem. The Suncana coffee brewer, available at Staples, other stores and online at BluTigres, can use biodegradable coffee packets. That’s big.

Sign up with the BluTigres coffee club and they’ll ship these more planet-friendly coffee packets on a schedule of your choosing.

It’s a workaround we’re glad has arrived.

Also, this month BluTigres, is giving away a coffeemaker to some lucky follower. You have to sign up for their newsletter by July 1. Yes, it’s a marketing ploy to get your email address, and we’re not necessarily advocating that you enter.

We are happy to report, however, about this eco-option for those of you in the market for a single-serve coffee machine/plan.

Coffee, Zoka -- PROMO

Coffee. (Photo: Zoka Coffee)

What about the coffee, you’re wondering? Us too. These single-serve arrangements can taste just ghastly and often it’s environmentally checked out.

We haven’t tried the coffee produced by the Suncana. But it’s noteworthy that one of the coffees sold by BluTigres is Seattle-based Zoka, an award-winning coffeemaker. Several of Zola’s coffees are “Direct Trade” from Central American suppliers, and they donate back. We’re not sure how that stacks up against coffees that are certified as Fair Trade — we think certification proves commitment.

But on balance, the Suncana machine, paired with Zoka’s single-serve packets, will provide a more conscionable cup of joe. It certainly beats churning out plastic waste. It could even be Seattle’s best.

 

 


Jul 142010
 

By Billi London-Gray
Green Right Now

San Francisco, the city that banned plastic bags, bottled water and Styrofoam, is taking another big step down the path to sustainable urban living. In March 2011, the City of San Francisco will begin installing more than 17,000 LED street lighting fixtures, effectively replacing most city-owned street lamps.

LED street lamp being installed in San Francisco (Photo: Jon Manzo)

LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, produce light by passing a one-way electric current through a semiconductor material. As the electricity is transferred through the semiconductor diode from one electrical terminal to another, it releases energy in the form of light. Conventional incandescent and fluorescent lamps work by heating a filament or gas to a temperature that produces light. While LEDs, like other lamps, release heat as well as light, they are considered far more efficient because they produce more light per watt of energy consumed.

San Francisco will join the growing list of American cities that are switching to LED street light fixtures, which combine an array of dozens of individual LEDs to produce light similar to that of a high-intensity discharge lamp. Seattle, Anchorage and Los Angeles already have LED fixtures in place. Many other U.S. cities, including New York, are testing LED street lighting to determine the potential savings.

Amanda Townsend, manager of commercial programs at the Dallas-based sustainability consulting firm Geavista Group, has worked on many large-scale commercial lighting projects. She explains their many environmental benefits:

  • LEDs are directional and point light only where needed, saving energy and reducing light pollution.
  • LEDs, unlike CFLs and other fluorescent bulbs, do not contain mercury, a toxic chemical that requires costly disposal plans.
  • LEDs last a long time, reducing maintenance and replacement costs.
  • LEDs illuminate on demand – “instant on and instant off.”

Mayor Newsom announcing the San Francisco's LED streetlight program, and inaugurating the first installation.

San Francisco’s upcoming street lighting retrofit project is not the first LED installation by the city. The Davies Symphony Hall and the city offices at 1660 Mission were equipped with LED light fixtures in recent years. Additionally, the Main Public Library is a testing ground for a pilot project using LED wall fixtures.

The city began evaluating LED street lighting in 2008, says Sue Black, power utility services manager for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. She credits Mayor Gavin Newsom with prioritizing the change in order to reduce the city’s environmental footprint and save money.

“To my knowledge, the City of San Francisco will be the first city in the United States to implement a complete city-wide conversion of its cobra-head style, high pressure sodium fixtures to LED fixtures,” Black said. “Our other inventory of approximately 7,000 post-top and pendant-style street lights will be converted at a later time, when more product choices are available that will meet our performance requirements.”

The estimated price tag for San Francisco’s LED conversion is $16 million. Black stated that energy savings alone could approach $550,000 per year after the conversion, plus another $350,000 each year in operations and maintenance savings due to the expected 20-year lifespan of the LED fixtures. The installation is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2012. Black estimated that the payback period for the project would be around 13 years.

“Our goal is to achieve an overall energy savings of 50 percent,” Black said. San Francisco will combine the LED installation with a new “smart control system” to further increase the energy savings. By instantly analyzing a variety of data from fixture locations, the new system will increase the efficiency of maintenance on the lights while decreasing energy demand as light levels are adjusted.

“The smart control system will provide the city with the ability to remotely monitor individual street light performance, adjust the light intensity level, and receive real time information when lights have failed,” Black said. For some LED fixtures, the smart control system can also be used increase light output for special events or dim the lights for periods of inactivity.

To cities undertaking large-scale retrofitting projects like street lighting conversions, LED fixtures are an attractive lighting option. “We have had discussions with many cities about the results from our pilot projects and progress,” Black said. “Many cities have existing pilot and small-scale permanent installations and plan to convert their fixtures over time.”

But LEDs are not the best lighting solution for everyone looking to cut energy usage. LEDs may not provide enough light in some situations, such as streets with widely spaced lamp posts, bright office work spaces or residential settings where multi-directional light is the norm. This could undercut the energy saving benefits of LEDs.

“In general, an individual LED may use less energy … but it’s probably creating less light,” said John Bullough, a lighting technology expert and senior research scientist at the Lighting Research Center in Troy, N.Y. “You won’t get the same amount of light by using less energy … LEDs potentially use three or four times less energy, but it depends on how well it’s designed.”

LEDtronics street lights in Torrance, VA near Torrance West High School (Photo LEDtronics)

In Bullough’s opinion, LED fixtures must stand the test of time before their benefits can be realistically calculated. “They haven’t really been around long enough to know which ones will last and which ones will not,” he said. “There’s no real world confirmation yet.”

Townsend of Geavista Group pointed out that even for small-scale residential applications, LED fixtures cannot yet equal the light output of conventional lighting, such as incandescent bulbs and compact fluorescent lighting. Standard socket-based light bulbs have a light output of 700 to 800 lumens, Townsend said. “Until recently, LED bulbs had a difficult time achieving more than 400 lumens. The LED bulbs that you see for $7 are not going to perform nearly as well as a CFL or incandescent.”

However, LED technology is developing at a rapid pace. Both Bullough and Townsend said that as more government and commercial projects adopt the technology, better LED products will prove themselves in the real world.

“It’s definitely improving very quickly,” Bullough said. “It’s getting a lot of investment from the lighting industry and government research. It’s pretty exciting from a lighting point of view.”

Bullough explained that LED technology has revived research in the lighting industry by introducing an alternative to the types of lighting that had been standard since the 1960s. “Up until 10 years ago, change in lighting technology was slow … LEDs are changing the technology a lot.”

Other Resources:

Copyright © 2010 Green Right Now | Distributed by GRN Network

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May 052010
 
A sign warns of pollution in the Duwamish River. (Photo: Washington State Dept. of Health)

A sign warns of pollution in the Duwamish River. (Photo: Washington State Dept. of Health)

From Green Right Now Reports

Boeing today said it will create nearly five acres of contiguous intertidal wetlands, restore more than half a mile of waterway and establish a resting area for migratory fish as part of an an environmental cleanup and habitat restoration project in and along Seattle’s lower Duwamish Waterway.

The project is part of a settlement agreement in which Boeing agreed to clean up high priority areas. The agreement – signed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Interior, the Washington State Department of Ecology and the Suquamish and Muckleshoot Indian tribes – fulfills significant federal and state requirements for Boeing along the waterway.

Boeing said the cleanup and restoration activity is scheduled to begin in fall 2012, once final agency approvals and permits are obtained, and is expected to take several years to complete. The project will involve excavating more than 100,000 cubic yards of sediment and replacing it with clean sand.

“We are committed to restoring habitat along the Duwamish and conducting environmental work that is vital to the ecosystem, nearby wetlands, the Puget Sound and to our community,” Mary Armstrong, Boeing vice president of Environment, Health and Safety, said in a statement. “This is the largest planned habitat restoration in the Duwamish Waterway, and it will provide an important ecological resource to improve Puget Sound fish runs.”

Boeing said the work is being done in a way to mitigate the impact of materials flowing into the waterway from Boeing property, nearby King County International Airport, local highways and roads and surrounding businesses and residential neighborhoods.

As part of the effort, Boeing will demolish several aging buildings located at its Plant 2 facility in Seattle to facilitate cleanup efforts. The buildings, which were partially constructed on pilings over the waterway between 1936 and 1941, produced many of the B-17s used in World War II and have not been an active part of Boeing’s airplane production operations for 40 years.

Boeing will demolish the buildings, cleaning up the effects from past practices and restoring the waterway and nearby wetlands. The company is developing plans to commemorate the site’s historic legacy prior to the demolition.

Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of recent developments in restoring the Duwamish Waterway. On March 3, Boeing and the Washington State Department of Ecology reached agreement on plans to test soil, ground water and sediment at the 9.8-acre Isaacson site and the 19.4-acre Thompson site, both south of Plant 2. On Feb. 12, Boeing, King County and the City of Seattle reached agreement regarding cleanup of Slip 4, a 6.4-acre parcel of the waterway north of Plant 2.

The Duwamish Waterway was created in the early 1900s when a 9.3-mile (14.9-kilometer) stretch of the waterway in south Seattle was straightened, dredged and transformed into a 5.3 mile-long (8.5 kilometer) navigational channel with deep-water port facilities. In 1909, what was then the world’s largest man-made island was built at the mouth of the waterway for industrial uses. Boeing began operations along the Duwamish Waterway in 1936. In 2001, the waterway was listed as a Superfund site by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Puget Sound Regional Council estimates that businesses along the lower Duwamish Waterway currently provide approximately 80,000 jobs, and that 84 percent of the industrial lands within the city of Seattle are located along the waterway.


Oct 162009
 

From Green Right Now Reports

The Department of Energy announced $10 million has been awarded to 16 cities for 40 new Solar America Cities Special Projects. The funds, made through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will enable the cities to increase solar energy use in their communities through innovative programs and policies that the government believes can be replicated across the nation.

The cities chosen for these awards came from the group of 25 large U.S. cities that are part of the DOE’s Solar America Cities program, which recognizes the participating cities as partners highly committed to solar technology adoption at the local level. Those cities already have been given millions of dollars in funds and technical assistance to accelerate solar adoption.

To this point, the cities have used the funding to develop solar financing models, improve solar permitting processes, and create training courses for solar installers, among other uses. The DOE said this new award will enable the cities to scale up their most promising projects and concepts to overcome key barriers to urban solar energy use. The DOE plans to share the lessons learned and best practices from these projects with local governments throughout the nation through a substantial outreach effort planned to launch in early 2010.

The DOE has selected the following Solar America Cities Special Projects:

Austin, TX

Berkeley, CA

Boston, MA

Madison, WI

Milwaukee, WI

Minneapolis – Saint Paul, MN

New Orleans, LA

New York City, NY

Portland, OR

Salt Lake City, UT

San Diego, CA

San Francisco, CA

San José, CA

Santa Rosa, CA

Seattle, WA

Tucson, AZ


Aug 102009
 

From Green Right Now Reports

King County Metro in Seattle has ordered up to 500 diesel-electric hybrid buses from Daimler Buses North America. The first year order includes 93 hybrids, and the transit service took options for up to 200 more buses.

Daimler says the first Orion VII diesel-electric hybrids will be delivered to Seattle beginning in mid-2010.

With the latest orders, Daimler Buses says it will have a total of more than 2,900 diesel-electric hybrid transit buses in revenue service or on order for various transit authorities throughout the U.S. and Canada – making it the largest hybrid provider worldwide.

“Daimler remains committed to promoting clean drive technologies which will shape future transportation,” Andreas Strecker, president and CEO of Daimler Buses North America, said in a statement. “These additional orders for the Orion VII diesel-electric hybrid bus further maintain Daimler’s position as the world’s hybrid bus leader – a position that we intend to retain through product excellence and continued innovative firsts.”


Jul 032009
 

By John DeFore
Green Right Now

Somewhere in between the sleep-away camps, beach excursions and baseball games of summer, kids and parents alike generally see the appeal of the sand-free floors and refrigerated air of a good museum. Institutions across the country know this is a great time to squeeze some education into kid-friendly, entertaining exhibitions; here’s a list of some of the best nature-oriented attractions for vacationers who’ve felt a bit too much heat this month.


Jun 092009
 

From Green Right Now Reports

Puget Sound Energy announced it has distributed more than 10 million free and discounted compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs to its more than 1 million electric customers in Western Washington since the residential lighting program launched in 2002.

The utility said there is now an average of 10 energy-saving bulbs in use for every customer in the utility’s 9-county electric service area. PSE has distributed the bulbs to electric customers through local retailers, events and special promotions.

“Our customers understand that even a decision as small as the light bulbs they choose can make a big difference,” Cal Shirley, vice president of Energy Efficiency Services for PSE, said in a statement. “CFL bulbs will help PSE customers save a collective $430 million in energy costs over the lifetime of these 10 million bulbs, and lower their carbon emissions by the equivalent of 38,000 gallons of gasoline.”

CFL bulbs are 75 percent more efficient than traditional, incandescent types and last up to 10 times longer. For example, a 13-watt CFL bulb can replace a 60-watt incandescent bulb without compromising light quality. Consumers who install CFL bulbs in high-use areas, such as porch lights, can save as much as $60 each year simply by changing five light bulbs, PSE said.

Though safe to use in the home, CFL bulbs contain a small amount of mercury, so used CFL bulbs should be recycled. PSE offers free recycling of CFL bulbs at 14 office locations. Used, unbroken CFL bulbs can be placed in the labeled bins in the office lobbies. Free CFL bulb recycling is also available at Bartell Drugs stores, Home Depot, IKEA, and county and municipal household hazardous waste locations.

You can see a complete list of CFL bulb recycling locations and retailers offering PSE discounts and incentives online or call a PSE energy advisor at 1-800-562-1482.


May 212009
 

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

You know your car is a gas hound. But what about the water it requires?

Keeping a car clean, whether you rinse it off in your driveway or get it scrubbed at a professional wash, uses buckets of agua, more than you might realize.

If you’re careful, washing your car at home might use 10 gallons of water, but probably more like 25 or 50. A car wash can use much more, in the range of 75 to 100 gallons.

The International Car Wash Association says car washes are not a problem because the water consumed at car washes is recycled and reused. Water is properly disposed of via the sewer system where it can be treated and returned to circulation, the association says. (This is not the case with home car washing, which we’ll get to.)

However, just as foregoing paper is more effective at saving forests than using recycled paper, the greenest car wash is the one that doesn’t use water at all.

The cutting edge of the car cleaning biz has been spawning products that clean and polish your car without water, and lately, car washes that do the same.

Take Houston’s new car detailing service and car wash, Eco-Suds Hand Car Wash.

This new service in Northwest Houston, uses a water-based cleaning solution that is non-hazardous and biodegradable. The formula dissolves dirt and the residue is easily wiped off with a microfiber cloth. The process doesn’t scratch because polymers enwrap the dirt. The car is wiped clean and buffed, leaving it smooth and shiny (see photo above), says Kevin Dunn, co-owner of the Eco-Suds Hand Car Wash.

Dunn touts the service as eco-friendly on two counts — it avoids toxic runoff because the cleaning solution does not contain any oil, mineral spirits or kerosene, harmful chemicals that turn up in competitor’s formulas. And, the process is virtually water-less (there’s some water in the solution), saving the community dozens of gallons of water for each car and truck cleaned.

“According to our estimates, we believe we have saved roughly 90,000 gallons since we opened in mid-February,” he said. “Not too bad for one single location in just three months.”

As the Eco-Suds website notes, conventional car washes cannot compete with that level of water conservation because even their recycled water is typically mixed with 40 to 80 gallons of fresh water for each new car washed.

Eco-Suds is frugal with natural resources, but uses significant human capital, employing hand washers. It competes with both mass-market and luxury detailing services, with packages starting at $25 for an exterior wash and interior cleaning, ranging up to $225 for the “platinum package” with various levels in between.

Eco-Suds bills itself as the nation’s “first full service, eco-friendly car wash and detail” — and it is a unique stand alone facility — but it is not the first enterprise to try to create a greener model for the car wash business.

Several have gone eco by switching to greener cleaning ingredients and polishes and adding water recapture capabilities, but they’re still using large quantities of water.

A few select car washes are getting more aggressive about water use.

The Eco-Pit in San Diego is another virtually water-less car wash that uses a line of Earth-friendly products.

Seattle has Advanced Mobile, a car detailing service that uses biodegradable soaps and comes to clients, washing their cars at their location and reclaiming all the water used. The mobile aspect of this business throws a wrench into the process of assessing its carbon imprint (would it be more or the same as a drop in car wash?), but the EPA was impressed enough with its water conservation to award it a Water Efficiency Leader award in 2006.  Advanced Mobile also has outlets in Portland and Chicago.

In Nevada, the Southern Nevada Water Authority promotes car washes that reclaim or recycle their water on its Water Smart program by offering coupons to these businesses on its website.

Now, about washing your car at home. The Environmental Protection Agency and some state agencies warn against it. At least, they tell us not to wash the car or truck in the driveway because the runoff is hazardous to  the environment. The phosphates in some soaps can harm fish down the line, because they act as fertilizers, making algae grow and choking off oxygen for aquatic life. And that oily sheen you see in the rivulets running toward the storm drain (from undercarriage goo and petroleum distillates) can be a real problem for many life forms.

If you must wash at home, park on grass or gravel, so the runoff can be reabsorbed by the soil, the experts say. And use a phosphate-free soap.

It’s better to use commercial carwash, the EPA notes, because that water can be recycled and will be cleansed by local water treatment facilities before being returned to the water system or the environment.

Charity groups should do the same. Instead of setting up a DIY venture in a school parking lot, school and church groups should operate on grass or gravel, or partner with a local commercial car wash.

Even better — work with a commercial car wash that doesn’t use water.

Copyright © 2009 Green Right Now | Distributed by Noofangle Media


May 182009
 

By Harriet Blake

America’s urban centers are becoming ever greener, with the National League of Cities holding its first ever Green Cities Conference last month. While many cities have recently taken up environmental causes, some have been carrying the banner for years.

Seattle, home to such earlier innovations as the ’60s Space Needle, Microsoft, and grunge rock, is one such green leader.

In 2008, Seattle was anointed the nation’s leader in LEED-certified buildings by the US Green Building Council (USGBC), culminating an eight-year-old sustainable building policy calling for city-funded projects to be LEED-qualified at the silver level.

Seattle also can boast about its:

  • Impressive bike trails system with about 30 trails and 20 bike lanes, making bike commuting commonplace in Seattle, home to the Cascade Bicycle Club, which claims to be the nation’s largest bicycle club
  • Community-based home energy efficiency program, called SWITCH, that started last year and has sent neighbors door-to-door with thousands of CFL light bulbs.
  • Climate initiative, begun in 2005, which sets city targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, who was elected in 2002, is a strong advocate for environmental stewardship. He introduced the city’s Climate Protection Initiative after the federal government chose to not participate in the Kyoto Protocol target for reducing climate pollution. That target is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

“I felt there was an opportunity for us to take action at a local level,” said Nickels in a recent interview.

The mayor says his “aha” moment came in 2004-05. “We had a very warm winter that year, and there wasn’t much snow in the mountains. That impacted our water supply and our power, since we rely mostly on hydroelectric power. It occurred to me that global warming affects every corner of the globe, including ours.

“This is something we urgently need to address for our future, and our children’s,” he says.

In 2006, Mayor Nickels asked other mayors to join him in the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. Beginning with nine mayors, the group now numbers 910. These mayors represent more than 82 million people from all 50 states and are a “real political force that will continue to impact national policy,” he says.

Seattle CAN

Seattle Climate Action Now, or Seattle CAN, also began about this time. The city-led program partners with local businesses and organizations to provide residents with the tools needed at home and work to put an end to global warming. The Seattle CAN website helps citizens calculate their carbon footprint with a link to ZeroFootprint Seattle. Here residents can sign in and learn steps to reduce their family’s carbon footprint.

The site provides commonsense advice, such as driving less; replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent ones; turning off and unplugging computers and cellphone chargers; changing furnace and air-conditioning filters regularly; installing weather stripping anywhere there is a draft; turning down the thermostat at night and when away from home; insulating the attic; running the dishwasher only when full; installing water-saving devices such as low-flow shower heads; and reducing the size of trash by recycling and buying less stuff.

There’s also an events calendar for climate-related events like Seattle’s Celebrate Summer Streets festivals.

A recent poll shows that three out of every four Seattle residents are taking actions to lessen their carbon footprint, says the mayor (center of photo at green event this year).

“With our ‘Climate Action Now’ campaign, Seattle is making great progress engaging and motivating our residents and business to fight global warming,” Nickels says. “Last year, we distributed more than 10,000 home energy kits to our residents. Our electric utility was successful in distributing more than 1.4 million compact fluorescent bulbs to Seattle homes and businesses.”


Apr 132009
 

By Sommer Saadi
Green Right Now

Do not underestimate the excitement of Earth Day. Trust us. There is a lot to look forward to this year – the Green Apple Festival and Earth Day Network are making sure of it.

The two organizations have teamed up to put together the largest Earth Day festival in America. The event will take place April 17 to 19 (the weekend before the official Earth Day on April 22) and features simultaneous service events in 10 major cities across the nation including New York, Boston, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Austin, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.

Volunteers who help out over the weekend will be given a green gift bag and tickets to attend a free “Thank You” concert in their city. And of course, the national flagship festival “Earth Day on the National Mall” will take over in Washington, D.C. The free festival is open to volunteers and the public and will feature performances and speakers throughout the day.

The “Thank You” concerts serve as a great incentive for rolling up your sleeves and making a meaningful contribution to the planet (check out the line-up below).  But just as motivating is the opportunity to be a part of some really creative and significant projects:

  • Like finding out why you should have a worm in your apartment. The Lower East Side Ecology Center of New York City is teaching people how to deal with their smelly trashcan problem by keeping Red Wiggler worms handy. You learn how the Red Wiggler rapidly eats kitchen scraps and turns waste into fertilizer, and then learn how to set up and maintain a worm bin in your own crib and use the compost for feeding plants.
  • Or discovering why it’s important that everyone aim for energy efficiency. In Austin, you can help retrofit a house for a family in need. The organization 1 House at a Time is teaching volunteers first-hand about home energy efficiency as they install water and energy conserving fixtures and appliances.
  • You could even try to atone for your addiction to oil. Builders and bird enthusiasts are being recruited in San Francisco to help construct a cage, shed and rehabilitation pond for oiled birds in recovery at the International Bird Rescue Research Center.

Across all 10 cities there are opportunities to work in parks, beaches, schools and forests and focus on lasting climate change solutions, but you have to sign up to participate, and you have to sign up soon. Volunteers have until Tuesday, April 14 at 11:30 p.m. to register for a service project in their area. The events are listed on the Green Apple Festival site and from there a link takes you to the PlanetGreen website to sign up.

If you don’t live in one of these 10 cities, don’t worry. You can visit Planet Green’s Green Guide to Volunteering to make your own Earth Day plans.

You can also use the EDN green event locator.

Thank You Concert Lineup

Atlanta, GA – Funk and jazz band Galactic & Friends with opener country singer Victoria George at Variety Playhouse.

Austin, TX – Grammy Award-winning Country star Travis Tritt & Friends at Antone’s (note: this one’s on Monday April 20).

Boston, MA – The funk/jazz trio Soulive & Friends at Paradise Rock Club.

Chicago, IL – Alt-rock favorite Cracker & Friends at The Metro.

Denver, CO – Funk band Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk & Friends at Cervante’s Masterpiece.

Los Angeles, CA – The Hotel Cafe Presents indie rock singer-songwriter Cary Brothers & Friends at The Roxy.

New York City – The Soul legend from the James Brown Band Deep Banana Blackout featuring Fred Wesley & Friends at Bowery Ballroom.

San Francisco, CA – BassNectar & Friends at Slim’s.

Seattle, WA – Hip-Hop group The Blue Scholars & Friends at The Crocodile.

Washington, DC – Artists to perform on the National Mall have not yet been announced (it’s all about the suspense).

Copyright © 2009 Green Right Now | Distributed by Noofangle Media

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Apr 012009
 

By Harriet Blake

Learning not to waste – whether it’s food, electricity or water – is not only good in these economic times, but even more important, it’s beneficial for the environment.

The Nalgene Least Wasteful City Study, released this week, ranks the country’s 25 largest metropolitan areas on wasteful behavior. San Francisco led the group with the least wasteful habits, while Atlanta ranked at the bottom.

The survey of 3,750 people, commissioned by Nalgene (the maker of reusable water bottles), looked at 23 waste-focused habits of city dwellers ranging from recycling and use of public transportation to shutting off lights and eating leftovers. The results were weighted, says Eric Hansen, senior business manager of Nalgene-Outdoor. “We gave more credit to behaviors that had an immediate and significant impact on the planet, such as reduced driving and recycling trash.”

One conclusion of the study is that the easier and more convenient an action, the more frequently it’s practiced. Convenience trumped prudence, the report says. Shutting off lights was easier to do than hanging clothes on a clothesline.

“This study highlights habits that our society has adopted out of convenience, but on a whole can have a huge impact on the sustainability of the planet,” says Hansen.

The survey also notes that despite the economy, saving money is not the main reason urbanites are changing their wasteful ways. More than half of those surveyed said it is their responsibility to ensure the health of the planet for future generations. “Being frugal and helping the planet, these behaviors tend to go hand in hand,” says Hansen.

The top five least wasteful cities were San Francisco; New York City; Portland, Or.; Seattle and Los Angeles. The five most wasteful major cities were Atlanta, Dallas, Indianapolis, Houston and St. Louis.

The good news, according to the study, is that urban Americans are increasingly taking everyday steps to cut waste. The top five areas where most people comply: saving leftover food to eat again; shutting off lights when not in the room; turning off water when brushing teeth; using energy efficient light bulbs; and recycling glass, metal, plastics on regular basis.

The areas where people are less likely to be concerned with wasteful ways: avoiding drying clothes in a dryer, using a rain barrel, composting, taking public transportation and not driving a car for trips that are less than two miles from home.

These latter five areas are what the top cities had in common. For instance, San Francisco residents were not only good about turning off water, but also excelled at not using their car for short trips. The cities that did not score well, were not energy efficient with even the simple things such as recycling. In Atlanta, residents threw out more than two bags of trash each week and didn’t use as many energy efficient light bulbs.

The study, which was compiled over two months by the independent research firm Greenfield Online, also had several recommendations for folks – urban or not – on reducing waste:

  • Small changes such as reusable containers and water bottles (not surprising, since that is what Nalgene manufactures) or walking instead of driving.
  • Compost yard trimmings and food leftovers. The EPA estimates that 24 percent of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream is made up of yard trimming and food leftovers. Composting avoids filling the landfills and is environmentally beneficial.
  • Rain barrels. Even in the city, rain barrels can be installed in a building. They save money on water that can be used to water the yard.
  • Bikes. Help the environment and get some exercise by skipping the car.
  • Public transportation. Even if using public transportation a few times a week, this has an impact on reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Buy used or Freecycle. Thrift stores, libraries, used book stores are all good ways not to waste and to support local businesses. And if there’s a Freecycle group in your zipcode, that’s another good way to avoid waste.

Related story:

Copyright © 2009 Green Right Now | Distributed by Noofangle Media


Mar 312009
 

Nalgene’s least wasteful city study was produced from a survey of 3,750 Americans in the top 25 largest cities that sought to probe their “mindset.” Respondents were asked about their green habits, such as whether they used public transportation and reusable grocery bags or composted and reused containers. Read more in our story: US cities ranked on wasteful ways. San Francisco took top honors as the most mindfully-least-wastefully green city:

1. San Francisco, CA
2. New York City, NY
3. Portland, OR
4. Seattle, WA
5. Los Angeles, CA
6. Denver, CO
7. Minneapolis, MN
8. Washington, D.C.
9. Boston, MA
10. Philadelphia, PA
11. Chicago, IL
12. Baltimore, MD
13. Detroit, MI
14. Pittsburgh, PA
15. Orlando, FL
16. Cleveland, OH
17. Sacramento, CA
18. Miami, FL
19. Tampa, FL
20. Phoenix, AZ
21. St. Louis, MO
22. Houston, TX
23. Indianapolis, IN
24. Dallas, TX
25. Atlanta, GA