Archive for the ‘The Green Light’ Category

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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Hold onto your hats for this announcement.  NASCAR fans are in for some environmental education.  Not the sit down classroom kind, but the kind that provides resources on recycling, green products, and sustainability (just what The Green Light loves) at its races.  Last week, NASCAR and EPA signed an agreement to promote environmental awareness at NASCAR events and to work together on solutions that benefit the environment (can hybrids hit the same speeds as race cars?).  Perhaps the next Fast & Furious film will include hybrid race cars – they are making a F&F 6!  Maybe it will include this Porsche electric race car?

Mobil appears to be a fan of electric race cars

That aside, the announcement is exciting (despite the immediate fan backlash in the comments section on the NASCAR press release).  NASCAR is the second most popular sport in the U.S. to football, which is a very large fan base!  Initial practices under this agreement will include:

information on sustainable concessions at NASCAR events, expanding the use of DfE-labeled chemical products, conserving water, and continuing to grow the promotion and practice of all applicable types of recycling.

Additionally, NASCAR is committed to adopting greener products and to reducing its footprint such as proper recycling of automotive fluids.  Congrats to NASCAR and EPA on reaching this agreement; I too believe that if you show the benefits of sustainable practices it can save people and businesses money and protect your health.  Cheers.

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To date, I’ve posted about cool things that can save you money and protect your health; but The Green Light is also about telling the stories of people who are making a difference.  Last week, I traveled to Detroit for a regional Good Jobs Green Jobs Conference sponsored by the Blue Green Alliance.  Most people said “I’m sorry you have to go to Detroit”, and/or “don’t go out past sundown.”  I try to focus on good things when I see them, and I saw and heard plenty of good things in Detroit.  I stayed at the GM Center (every GM model was on display) which is the largest structure in downtown Detroit.  You can see Canada from your room (no I didn’t say Russia from my house, but I thought about it).  The weather was beautiful when I arrived and I had an hour to spare so I went for a run along the riverfront.

Trails on the waterfront park

Is that the Natchez and the bridge to the West Bank (nola reference)?! No, it’s the Princess and a bridge to Canada.

I sat in on several sessions over the next two days related to public health, toxic exposures, community job training, safe jobs, and environmental justice.  There are inspirational people in Detroit who are committed to developing a local workforce and building a sustainable economy.  Donele Wilkins, President of The Green Door initiative (GDI), has worked in the environmental justice movement for over two decades.  The Green Door Initiative provides 12-hour training programs to local residents on specific job types, life skills, and environmental literature; GDI also has a “Youth Green” program, along with several other types of programs, that trains inner-city youths on environmental justice and how they can be leaders in their community.  The take home message  – residents who are trained locally, work locally, and thereby invest more in their community.  Leon Petty, of Go Green Contracting, Inc., is a demolition contractor specializing in proper removal of lead, mold, and asbestos; I have never heard a private business owner so passionate about protecting people’s health and performing proper construction even if a personal sacrifice is required.  It was a pleasure to listen to you, Donele and Leon.

Lastly, I enjoyed learning of the work of the Delta Institute, a group based out of Chicago that takes on a variety of environmental projects around the Great Lakes region  – seriously, they do everything, they are the Super Target of environmental specialists.  Kindy Kruller of the Delta Institute spoke about the community development branch and how deconstruction (that’s breaking down the home in pieces rather than smoking it with a crane) of homes has led to new business opportunities!  The branch and other partners salvage wood and other materials and then sell new indoor and outdoor furniture to schools and businesses in the community – way to reuse!  During the opening session, a men’s choir group, called Vision, and a women’s choir group, called the Lady Achievers (this was not a GSA conference) from the Detroit School of Arts performed and a class member spoke about how attending a green school has maximized learning and student’s health.  Both of the groups gave wonderful performances – luckily I found The Lady Achievers’ performance for you to enjoy (I could not find Vision’s video – they deserve a complement on their bow tie cummerbund set)!

So, don’t count Detroit out (remember the Clint Eastwood Superbowl commercial?).  Find out what good work is being done in your neighborhood and remember to thank them for their efforts; and/or even better, offer a helping hand to those good people!  Cheers.

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This past Earth Day Philips released a light bulb that can last for 20 years. 20 years –  wow!  Philips won a Department of Energy energy efficiency contest with a bulb that can last 30,000 hours when used for four hours a day.  The bulb was released to sell at $60, but now retailers such as Home Depot and Lowe’s reduced the cost to $50.  And now the best part – Philips said they are working on discounts to sell the bulb for $25.  Forget about having to find that ladder to change a light bulb; just make sure to bring the bulb with you if you move!  Here she is:

I’m gonna let it shine.

Even if the costs are more upfront, energy-efficient bulbs save you money on your energy bills and they use less energy causing less carbon pollution.  Traditional incandescent bulbs have been found to contain mercury which can harm your health and are equivalent to driving a Hummer (on an energy consumption level).

This is my favorite quote of the article:

According to Philips, if every 60-watt incandescent bulb in the United States was replaced with their prize winner, “the nation would save about 35 terawatt-hours of electricity or $3.9 billion in one year.”

A nationwide changeover would also avoid 20 million metric tons of carbon emissions, said the company — equivalent to removing some 4 million cars from the roads.


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What a coincidence, that car is green!

From 2004 – 2007, animated rapper Xzibit hosted a TV show on MTV called Pimp My Ride; the show that surprised owners of car clunkers by pimping them out with bells and whistles like fancy paint coats, leather interiors, and always some amazing trunk feature like a hidden picnic table or a jacuzzi.  Car owners always had insane reactions to their pimped out clunker

I think Jessie is about to get really excited

Ok, back to my point – if Xzibit pimped my roof it would look like this

It’s like a farmer’s market on your roof

Green urban roofs are now popping up in cities across the country.  I know New York and Philadelphia are supporting the trend, and now Seattle is on board and even universities too!  Roofs have direct access to sunlight so you’re bound for a successful garden and/or green landscape.  Save some space for solar panels too (that’s where Xzibit comes in).  Urban green roofs also provide a buffer for stormwater runoff which is also a very hot topic these days (it’s a complex issue and I will save that for a separate post).  Here are some best practices for starting your own rooftop garden (if you just want the tips scroll down half way).  Check with your employer and colleagues to see if there’s any interest at your office or at home at your apartment complex.  Taking care of a garden during the busy work day is a great break AND it would save you money!  Produce is not cheap these days.  Cheers.

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Do you need anybody? I need somebody to love.

Dan and I are very aware during our morning commutes (rabbits are cuter than tvs).  I found this lonely straggler on my block two days ago on my way to work.  I assume it was left for the bulk trash collectors or maybe for someone to enjoy a 1950’s TV.  Regardless, electronics have a proper home too and it’s not with bulk trash collectors, it’s with proper electronics recyclers.  All of the electronics we use on a daily basis contain dozens of chemicals you and I have trouble pronouncing and many that have been grandfathered in under the Toxic Substances Control Act (where the threat to human health is untested/undetermined).  When electronics are broken down and collected with bulk trash chemicals are released and tamper our air, soil and water and more recently it’s been found that electronics waste (aka e-waste) is now being shipped overseas into developing countries.  Due to our digital era, e-waste is the fastest growing waste sector.  Many retailers like Best Buy and Staples recycle old computers and laptops, and many e-manufacturers will recycle televisions; you can find everything you need on how to recycle your electronics here.  Just this month I carried my old printer on the metro to be recycled at Staples near my office.  If you have any questions about electronics pickups in your town I would call your local Department of Public Works or City Hall official.

I hope this was helpful, and enjoy the rest of your week.  The Green Light will now be posting on Sundays as well. Cheers.

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My grandma is a world traveler. Last summer she traveled to a few western U.S. national parks and monuments including Mount Rushmore, Grand Tetons National Park and Crazy Horse Memorial.  She showed me all the pictures and said “Ryan, everyone wants to travel overseas but we have so much here.” After looking at the pictures, I could not have agreed more and appreciated the unique beauty we have here in the U.S.  I mentioned this story because it is National Park Week!

Yogi Bear, now that’s Amurica.

You only have till Sunday to celebrate, so go to your closest national park now (just kidding). There are 84 million acres of national park land in the U.S., AND because it is National Park Week admission into any park is free!  National Geographic has put together a nice photo tribute to our nation’s parks, it’s a great lunch break distraction; I must also admit I have a soft spot for Nat. Geo. due to a family subscription that has been passed down from my grandfather to my father to me.  You can find the closest national park near you here. Take your family, your spouse, or friends to our nation’s greatest treasures and get outdoors.  See our nation’s great lands before you take that Euro trip.  You can thank President Theodore Roosevelt for his great conservation efforts in the early 1900s for creating the National Park Service and conserving the park land we all love to enjoy today. Cheers.

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