Posts Tagged ‘recycling’


This grandma was told she should be green.

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days.”

The young clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”

She was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were truly recycled.

But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags.

But too bad we didn’t do the green thing back then.

We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she’s right; we didn’t have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn’t have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful old folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?

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Seasons Greetings – the holidays are here!

From Spinach HQ, we hope you had a great Thanksgiving (and by that I mean a play by play of turkey-nap-pie-nap-football-turkey).  We were so busy celebrating around the Northeast last week that we didn’t get you a turkey message, but oh boy do I have some good resources for you now.

First I want to tell you about an article I read last week because I think it’s useful.  The NY Times discussed how turkey grease contributes to sewer overflows and water pollution.  I hope you didn’t put your turkey grease, aka FOG (that’s fat, oil, and grease) down the drain (if you did that’s only strike one).  Nowadays there are grease recyclers, most of them in major cities, that pick up FOG and turn it into biodiesel! Now that’s cool. Here’s what the NY Times blog said.

Now that Thanksgiving is over – its Mariah Carey Christmas album season (seriously how is that album still popular?).  Or in my case, time for my daily rotation of Christmas sweaters.

Its beginning to look a lot like..the Earth

Below I have an early holiday treat for you.  Your guide to holiday gift ideas and practices that have little impact and benefit the environment.  Please share this with your friends and family.

Gift Ideas:

  • Make edible treats for gifts
  • For the people on your list, make donations to a local animal shelter or other non-profit in their name
  • If you’re not sure which charity to donate to in their name, you can give a TisBest gift card that lets them choose
  • If a donation doesn’t sound quite right for the people on your list, you can loan money in their name to those who need it most thru Kiva
  • Greenpeace rates Nokia and Sony at the top of their electronic manufacturers’ Green list
  • HealtyToys helps you choose toys that aren’t toxic
  • The Daily Green offers Green gift ideas for your pet
  • Buy gifts online- did you know it takes more energy to run a mall than to run a warehouse and ship packages
  • Uncommon Goods sells a lot of recycled, repurposed, and natural gifts that are unique and creative
  • Green Coupon Codes offer coupons for Green gifts
  • Buy local gifts to help support the community you live in
  • If you purchase electronics, clothing, or jewelry, try to make sure you choose the Energy Star, organic materials, or Fair Trade/Conflict Free options (respectively)
  • Plant a city tree in someone’s name from TreePeople
  • Give a Volunteer Vacation- go to Volunteer Guide for more information
  • Adopt a sea creature from Oceana or feed an Elephant at the Elephant Sanctuary for someone on your list
  • Give clean water to someone who needs it at Charity Water

Decoration and Wrapping Tips:

  • Reuse the front of old Christmas cards as gift tags on your presents
  • Make a wrapping paper collage using pictures from old magazines
  • Use kitchen towels, scarves or the comics from your Sunday paper to wrap gifts
  • Of the Earth makes natural wrapping paper and it’s strong enough to be used over and over (they even have a Holiday Line of paper that’s embedded with wildflower seeds so you can plant them after you use them!)
  • You can send all your loved ones (and the others on your card list) a Christmas card that they can grow flowers or herbs from Botanical Paperworks
  • Decorate your outdoor trees with natural decorations (i.e., birdseed ornaments- they recycle themselves!)
  • If you don’t know whether to get a real or fake tree this year, The Daily Green gives some insight
  • When choosing lights for decorating your home, choose LED lights- they use 90% less energy than normal lights and it will save you money on your electric bill!
  • Make recycled ornaments- it’s a great project to do with your kids!
  • Instead of a large real or fake tree, get a small 3’ living tree that you can plant in your yard after the holidays

After the Holiday Tips:

  • If you receive a present you aren’t in love with, donate it to a local charity instead of hiding it in your closet or throwing it away!
  • Recycle your Christmas Tree- if you’re not sure how, go to Earth911 to find out
  • If you received a cell phone for Christmas, be sure to recycle your old one at a Staples store near you (or another cell phone recycle place you’re aware of)
  • Donate your unused winter clothes to a local Good Will or Salvation Army


20+ Ways to Give Without Giving ‘Stuff.’” The Daily Green.

Great Green Gifts for Pets.” The Daily Green.

9 Tips to Keep Holiday Shopping Sane (and Green).” The Daily Green.

Green Holiday Tips.” Sierra Club.

Recycled Paper and 4 Other Alternative Gift Wrapping Ideas.” The Daily Green.

Which is Greener, a Real or Fake Christmas Tree?The Daily Green.

How to Have a ‘Green’ Christmas.” Eartheasy.

10 Last-Minute Green Holiday Ideas from Our Facebook Fans.” The Nature Conservancy- Green News.


Stay tuned for news on the newest members of the Spinach Team.

Have a great week.


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From our team to yours – we hope you had a nice Labor Day.  We know you grilled sustainable meat, drank organic beer, and pitched in with a beach cleanup this weekend.

In case you missed it, the Republican National Convention was held last week in Tampa, FL.  Tampa has the highest number of registered independent voters in the large swing state, so Republicans set out to turn those Floridians red.  I always try to listen to both political sides (until frustration kicks in) and then I make up my own mind/informed decision (how do you determine “informed?”).  I missed the speeches of the biggest headliners, Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney, but I’m glad I caught Clint Eastwood.

#eastwooding #oprahiscryingtoo

I’ll admit, Eastwood got a few laughs out of me.  It was a change of heart I had after Chris Christie informed me about leadership.  That aside, this week, the Democrats have their turn in Charlotte, and fortunately for us they’ve released their plans on how they’re making the Convention green (how liberal of them!).

The Hill.com reported on the Democrats’ plans to make Charlotte green for the Democratic National Convention (DNC).  The plans include:

  • Increased recycling
  • Use of low toxic paints
  • Use of reusable water bottles
  • Use of shuttles to the Convention (instead of cars) powered by natural gas
  • Use of pedestrian bicycle taxis (even better than shuttles)
  • Use of battery-powered machinery, such as golf carts around the DNC
  • Increased use of recycled products.  The convention center carpet will be made of recycled plastic bottles, and center stage will be made of recycled metals!
  • And lastly, an onsite “Green Team” made up of volunteers to answer questions about reuse and recycling.

35,000 people are expected to be in Charlotte this week for the DNC, and these actions can help minimize their impact.  I applaud these efforts; if I came across these plans for the RNC I would have reported on it too.  Being sustainable is not always a matter of being right or left on the political scale because in the end we all benefit.

Have a great week. 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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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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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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Greetings Spinach Followers!  My name is Ryan C. aka TheGreenLight and I am a new contributor to the Spinach team.  Like my spinach colleagues, I will be posting on green “hot topics” and give you tips how you can make decisions that will protect your health, the environment, and save you money.  I plan to highlight all types of topics and how they relate to our environment; I will provide a few sentences about the story and leave the rest to your imagination.  I want to get right to it – Wal-Mart made quite the announcement yesterday – you’ll find out more about me later this week.

Whether you love or hate Wal-Mart, I have some good news to share about the nation’s largest retailer (good news is good news, no matter who it’s from).  Today, Wal-Mart announced that it plans to recycle or reuse 80% of the waste produced in its U.S. stores and operations.  Impressive!

In 2005, Wal-Mart created an ambitious initiative to address many of its faults which included a zero waste goal, zero waste to landfill goal, pollution reduction, and fuel efficiency improvements to its delivery truck fleets.  Wal-Mart admits it has not met all of its goals, but it has improved fuel efficiency among its fleets by 69% compared to 2005 levels, and it has reduced waste by 64% compared to 2009! Headquartered in Arkansas, Wal-Mart has been quoted as hiring many transplant “closet environmentalists” from Washington, D.C.  Just last year, Wal-Mart signed a healthy foods agreement with first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign to improve access and reduce the price of healthy foods for consumers.  For now Wal-Mart is here to stay, and the best option is to work with the retail giant and encourage their practices that keep our country’s air and waters clean.  Next time you’re in Wal-Mart see if they’re recycling and if they’re greening their store branch.  Cheers.

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It’s always great to learn something when you’re not expecting to , or when it doesn’t come with a hefty price tag (cough, graduate school class, cough).  Tonight, I learned a new environmental tidbit while taking a cooking class.  I’m sure you’ve each heard of different ways to handle your used oil, principally taking it to you local waste authority or to a car shop so they can reuse it as biodiesel.  Or, perhaps you just throw it away with the rest of your trash (as many sites suggest doing).  Here’s a new idea, at least for all you fine people living in the Commonwealth of VA–put it in your recycling.  Yes.  Put it in a plastic container that you would otherwise recycle empty.  The recycling company is supposed to take it to the proper authorities to be recycled.  Of course, there’s the remote possibility that they turn a blind eye and just dump it to crumpit.

But, at least you tried.  And, if they end up doing their part–as they are supposed to–less will end up down the drain and out to the Bay.  Your spinachy food for thought tonight, brought to you by chef Zan Dial (who is a great personal chef, and I recommend).

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