Archive for June, 2012

Florida is a special place – Disney world, alligators, South Beach, the pan handle, and gorgeous beaches.  In the enviro realm, water nutrient issues in Florida are very hot (aka many Florida officials are saying the federal EPA better mind their own businass) right now.  By “nutrient issues” I mean phosphorous and nitrogen (N&P) pollution (stay with me now) from farming and city runoff in many of Florida’s waterways; each state has its own targets and pollution limits according to the Clean Water Act (the grand daddy law from the 70s that protects our nation’s waterways and drinking water).  Florida has exceeded its permissible N&P limits, so the federal EPA stepped in to slap them on the wrist, but Florida said you can’t do that because you don’t have jurisdiction in our state. Anyway, that’s in court now.  Back to the point, I have good news about the Everglades!

How the Everglades are meant to look, untouched.

The recent announcement has left EPA saying “this is a milestone for America’s Everglades.”  An $880 million plan to improve water quality in the Everglades has been approved and it includes a 12-year clean up (yikes that’s three more election cycles).  Pollution from farming practices and nearby urban centers has left the Everglades with poor water quality which is a major source of drinking water for South Floridians.

The Everglades are home to some of the most unique species in the U.S.  The new cleanup plan is a response to a lawsuit from….1988!  The plan includes new water treatment and stormwater infrastructure to address some of the polluted waterways in the Everglades.  Glad to see that we can still preserve our country’s land.  Many of our lands, waters, and species are interconnected and are affected by any change whether you can visually see it or not. Cheers.

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Here’s another point against smoking – cigarette butts are not biodegradable! Fortunately, some private companies (they have fewer restrictions than our government friends) such as TerraCycle will begin providing free UPS shipping labels — paid for by an unnamed American tobacco company — so people can mail in butts they’ve collected. TerraCycle will turn the butts into plastic pallets for industrial use.  Way to reuse something that was once a waste.

Nice collection!

Another company…

Eco-Tech Displays is starting a company, Cigarette Butt Litter Dream Recycling, to transform butts into products such as jewelry, vases and guitar picks. It collects the butts from hundreds of ashtrays that it has placed outside bars and restaurants in New York City, New Jersey and Chicago.

Thanks to USA Today for reporting this story. Collecting cigarette butts and putting them to new use will clean up our outdoor spaces and spark new profits.  Don’t under-estimate the power of private companies, they want to do well in the community too; if you want to start on a project in your community see if your local Target or grocery store will help sponsor the project (every little bit helps and you may get more than you ask for). Cheers.

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If you live in AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, MA, MD, OR, NY, then you’re in luck – solar panels for your home are now available at affordable rates.  Sungevity, one of the country’s leading residential solar providers, has partnered with The Sierra Club to help homeowners go solar easily and affordably;  the new partnership will help families save money on electricity and reduce pollution.

Here are some reasons why you should go solar and how you can get a price quote from Sungevity.  If you don’t live in these states, pass this onto your friends and family who do; hopefully, the partnership will grow to include more than 9 states.  If you need a refresher, or a quick 101 on how solar panels work, I think this article provides a good explanation.

And if you want solar energy in your neighborhood, well, doing nothing never gets anyone anywhere – so contact your local energy provider or your local government officials for more information so that you can save money on your energy bills and have cleaner air in your community. Cheers.

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Can you guess the source of this famous phrase?  Congrats, Family Feud.  The show has had many hosts over the years, but did you know Richard Dawson was the first and longest host of the show?  Depending on your age you know of Dawson or you caught reruns on the Game Show network (it’s not in the basic cable package); this week Dawson passed away and many will remember him as the kissing host that made housewives and contestants blush.

Dawson doing this thing.

Now that you’re caught up on the history of Family Feud, The Associated Press released survey findings this week from a AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll that shows Americans are more interested in reducing their energy bills and energy use than taking a vacation. This could be a result of more families across the U.S. facing new hardships, but the realization that being energy-efficient can save people money is excellent.  The results found that nearly 9 in 10 people said they had taken some action in the last year to save energy (that’s music to my ears).  Smaller steps, such as turning off the lights, turning down the heat, installing more energy-saving appliances and driving less, were the more common ways respondents said they chose to reduce energy in the last year.  Small steps can have huge savings.  My own sister simply unplugged all the electronics when they were not in use in my family’s house for one month and saved $100!  Now it’s a common habit.  Renewable energy from our land’s resources such as wind and solar are increasingly becoming more popular (stay tuned on a post for affordable solar panels), and can be a great source of energy because they won’t run out, such as natural gas or crude oil.  Small steps go a long way, especially when everyone is doing it.  Cheers.

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Spring and summer times call for outdoor trekking.  And because we’ll all be outside a little more often (except us east coasters during a humid apocalypse) now, I’d like to introduce a new segment called “Spotted on the Streets.”  Every couple of weeks I’ll share sustainable things spotted on the streets that are Green Light approved.  And because things are only fun when they’re interactive, if you see anything you like, take a photo on your smartphone (you don’t have a smartphone?!) and send it to me at thagreenlight@gmail.com.  Make sure to tell me where you found it and then you can be apart of this blog (I promise you’ll get credit)!

Congrats Pepsi on your new hybrid fleet. Forget Diet Coke. Downtown D.C.

An electronics deconstruction business spotted in a Capitol Hill neighborhood. This is how all electronics should be recycled. Check out their website and other businesses like Staples and Best Buy who also recycle electronics.

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California is leading the way, once again.  The City of Los Angeles is about to ban the plastic bag…

Maybe the greatest film of all time

San Jose, Long Beach, Berkeley, Malibu, and San Francisco have already banned plastic bags making plastic bag fees sound like an ancient practice (they’re pretty strict about the 5 cent fee here in D.C.).  Yes, plastic bags can be helpful on a grocery run, as a smaller garbage bag, and clean up your furry friend, but like so many things that we’ve done here in the U.S., plastic bags started showing up everywhere and then we made a mess.  They began to show up in our beaches affecting wildlife and in our streets affecting runoff flows.

Put that bag down birdman

In L.A., if you forget your reusable bag you have the option for a 10 cent paper bag, and that’s per bag.  The phrase “paper or plastic” will be a slogan for the history books.  Most groceries today even give you a discount for bringing your reusable bags.  Don’t forget to clean and wash your reusable bags too, I’ve heard they collect some interesting things after several uses.

And it never hurts to carry a sandwich, snacks, or your lunch in your hands without a bag at all.  When I don’t have lunch, I usually go to a nearby Au Bon Pain (somehow they have fifteen locations in a three block radius) and the cashier knows me there.  By habit she asks all the customers if they would like a bag and she asks me as well; now, she doesn’t even ask if I want a bag or corrects herself because she knows I don’t like/need a bag and that I’ll carry it in my hands.  In other trips for small items I find myself giving back a bag and saying “save a bag”.  I like never having to worry that a reusable bag is going to rip.  Sometimes I grab reusable bags from places I visit, such as my recent $1.99 purchase for a scenic Yosemite bag.  So, do you part and “save a bag”.  Cheers.

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