Happy Earth Day 2013 . . . Americans are turning activist

I remember 2007, when we started this website. People were tip-toeing toward greener behaviors. Activists were writing kids’ books explaining the greenhouse effect and urging tots to turn off the faucet while brushing their teeth. Scholars had assembled tomes, politely pointing out that we’d be running out of oil pretty soon. How things have changed on this Earth Day 2013…

Wipe that smirk off your face Millennial, your parents are greener!

You know those righteous 20-somethings you see on the news inveighing about how they’ve got the Earth on their shoulders and have to pick up the pieces of their wanton, consumerist elders? They do have a burden unlike any previous generation. God help ’em. But here’s a little secret, they’re no greener than those elders, in fact, the Boomers out-green their kids in significant ways, according to a new survey by DDB.

Meet six determined, courageous environmentalists honored for making a difference

Can one person make a difference? Each Goldman Environmental Prize recipient has. But it wasn’t easy. These grassroots environmentalists faced down pollution, mining and drilling interests, entrenched officials and even assassination their efforts to save and restore natural lands, stop air pollution and encourage recycling. Read on for inspiration…

Prang Art Markers unveils a take-back program in response to kids frustrated with Crayola’s lack of recycling

When last we left them, the kids of Sun Valley Elementary in San Rafael, Calif., had petitioned Crayola to take back their used markers.

It just got really easy to decide which art markers are the greenest.

It was a straightforward ask by people in the single-digit age range who’d noticed that other companies were taking back goods and probably also that their parents were slinging recyclables to the curb every week. So they spoke candidly to Crayola about the corporation’s markers, which they worried end up in the land fill after they are used.

Kids to Crayola: Help us recycle plastic markers!

Elementary school kids in San Rafael, Calif., are asking Crayola to initiate a recycling program for the millions of markers the company produces every year.
The children, who participate in a green group called Kids That Care, decided to petition Crayola through Change.org after realizing that many plastic products, including spent markers, wind up in landfills, said the group’s advisor Land Wilson.

Go team! Score one for recycling

I’ve heard many wonks say we won’t be on track with a new energy economy in this country until we get competitive about it. Not just with other countries, but with each other.

We Americans, the theory goes, need to aim to be the best conservator of natural resources on our block instead of the biggest collectors of plasma TV screens.
Symbols of wealth and even excess carry great allure in this country, and so this will obviously require significant shifting and re-prioritizing.

Don’t trash talk San Francisco; the city beats everyone at waste diversion

San Francisco knows how to not waste an opportunity. In case you missed the news, the Golden Gate city recently surpassed it’s goal of diverting 75 percent of its trash from the landfill by 2010. It’s already at 77 percent trash diversion by the city’s last estimation.

The side of a Recology truck makes the point that "Recycling changes everything." In San Francisco, it has dramatically changed how much trash goes to waste. (Photo: Recology)

That very likely makes San Francisco the continuing leader among U.S. cities for trash diversion. San Jose, Fresno, Long Beach, New York City and Portland are close behind. According to an independent ranking, those cities were all diverting at least 60 percent of their waste in late 2007. San Francisco led the pack back then at 67 percent diversion.

An economic stimulus for recycling in South Dakota

By Barbara Kessler Green Right Now What motivates people to recycle? Well, there’s altruism. There’s peer-pressure. And there’s payback. We all win when waste is diverted from the landfill. Cities save money (usually). Land is preserved. But these...

Label-reading, it could lead to other compulsions…

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

Like so many environmentally aware, or environmentally “sensitive”, people, I am an inveterate label reader. I know the sugar and fiber content of an array of packaged foods, from Frosted Mini-Wheats (the high fiber somewhat redeems the sugar) to Haagen Daz (good flavor with that sat fat).

As with any addiction, there’s been some collateral damage to family relationships. Only the brave and highly motivated will go grocery shopping with me. And there’s been bleed over. Having read most of the labels, I’m seeking new highs by evaluating the packaging.

This week I was distressed to find that inside my large box of crackers (from Costco) were six more boxes of crackers, each containing the different variety promised on the main container box. I don’t know what I thought would be in there. Not a jumble of crackers. But it sure seemed like some sort of paper band could have held all these boxes together, instead of the extra outer box.

Florida plans to recycle campaign signs

By Barbara Kessler

Recycling. It works for campaign slogans. Now the government of Florida figures it can work for those accumulating campaign signs as well.

The state is encouraging local entities to come up with innovative plans in hopes of recycling 75% of the signs that line local lanes and thoroughfares in the run up to the election Nov. 4, according to the Environmental News Service.

By encouraging candidates and citizens to recycle the signs instead of trashing them, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection will be working toward its mandate to reduce waste heading for landfills by 75 percent by 2020.

Houston launches Recycle Ike program for hurricane debris

By Julie Bonnin

Attention all recycling innovators: they city of Houston has launched a nationwide contest designed to create new markets for recycled tree limbs and make use of the mountains of woody vegetation left in Hurricane Ike’s wake.

With enough tree trunks, branches and other tree remnants to fill Houston’s Astrodome nearly four times, the debris- 5.6 million cubic yards — far surpasses what can be used locally for mulch.

Recycling wind turbines

By Catherine Colbert

Aging wind turbines – some installed more than 20 years ago – are getting a second wind. Towering gracefully among California wind farms, an estimated 10,000 machines are slated to be replaced by more modern and much larger wind turbines.

Instead of laying these wind soldiers to rest, a Massachusetts company is focused on breathing new life into them through what it has coined “The Ultimate Recycling Project.”

Aeronautica Windpower, as part of its business as a wind turbine and tower manufacturer, harvests the better machines from the field and refurbishes them to give them a second life. The firm likens the modern windmills to aircraft, as they’re stripped down to their frames and rebuilt with newer technologies and reporting capabilities to fly for another 20 years.

The “Go Green Initiative” helps teachers, parents and kids green their campus

By Kelly Rondeau

It’s back to the books for kids across America and going green in the classroom has never been so easy. With the help of a popular program called the Go Green Initiative, teachers have quick and simple access online to all the tools and resources needed to green a classroom, an entire school, or even a school-district.

Serving as the charter and flagship school for the Go Green Initiative, Walnut Grove Elementary School, in Pleasanton, Calif., first found out about the program in 2002 when Jill Buck, a mother of three, and PTA president, got creative and began asking “What else could we do to go green?”

“The school was doing some gardening, composting and recycling, but I wanted to do more, so I sat down at my kitchen table and started writing up the initiative,” said Ms. Buck (pictured left). “That was in 2002, and since then the program has just grown and grown: we’re now operating in all 50 states in the US, we’re in 13 countries, and on 4 continents; our website gets over 2 million hits a month; it’s an amazing program. Schools are finding us on the Internet and simply by word of mouth.”

Walnut Grove’s principal, Bill Radulovich, comments, “It all started here on my campus, as Jill (Buck) was my PTA president. As the charter school for this program, she first starting designing ideas to partner with waste management to help us with recycling waste, and that grew into networking and working with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funds that are distributed to different programs.

“Where once we had cardboard boxes to hold are recycling items, we now have huge 55-gallon gobblers, these huge barrels with slots that are really cool. She helped us gain more methods in the form of recycling and reusing and how to be more efficient overall.”

Houston Aims To Improve Its Recycling Rates

By Julie Bonnin

When Houston made headlines for abysmal recycling rates last month, it dealt a blow to the work Mayor Bill White has been doing to improve the city’s environmental reputation. White, who was Deputy Director of the U. S. Energy Department under President Bill Clinton, has pushed to clean up the city’s environmental record, with victories such as special recognition for the city’s commitment to development of a solar infrastructure (from DOE this past spring), and its designation as the nation’s top municipal purchaser of green power (from the Environmental Protection Agency).

But there may yet be hope for turning Houston a deeper shade of green. Weeks after being called the worst recycler of the country’s 30 major metropolitan areas, city officials have announced their intention to launch an ambitious pilot program that involves the latest in “single stream” recycling.

Harris Poll Shows Americans Are Making Green Changes

But Some Confused About Eco-Choices

By Barbara Kessler

Ever wonder what your neighbors are doing on the green front – what with one fellow dragging four nicely sorted recycling bins to the curb every other week, and another seemingly sitting out the green movement?

So did the Nature Conservancy and the people running the Harris Poll. They collaborated on a poll that found about half of Americans (53 percent) are making green changes, but a significant number (Americans are shopping for local food34 percent) said they’ve not made any changes because they are confused about what to do. Another large group (29 percent) said they are not making changes because it won’t make any difference.

Education seemed to play a role in who was confused, fatalistic or moving toward more sustainable practices. Just under half of high school educated respondents (46 percent) said they had made green changes as compared with college educated adults (65 percent).

Of the total 53 percent who had made changes, the poll elicited these responses: