Archive for October, 2009

Consumers more eco-friendly with incentives


CVS/pharmacy launches GreenBagTag, shopper reward for passing on plastic bags. (PRNewsFoto)

I see many companies jumping on the green bandwagon, but those that offer incentives to its customers (instead of just advertising “greenness”) should be recognized for the financial commitment involved.  CVS Pharmacy is one such company.

CVS Pharmacy recently announced its GreenBagTag program, which encourages its customers to bring home their purchases in a recyclable bag (or no bag) instead of taking a single-use plastic bag from the store.  While customers also must be members of the company’s loyalty program, it still makes good sense to add another layer of incentive. Read the rest of this entry »


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Los Angeles Community Garden Council

FarmlabOn Saturday, I headed over to an event where community gardeners gathered to learn more about gardening and how they become a useful tool in their neighborhoods. Los Angeles Community Garden Council hosted the event at  Farmlab in Downtown.

A reoccurring topic at the event was the lack of access to fresh produce for those in low-income neighborhoods. Ironically, fast food restaurants have begun to accept EBT cards while some Farmers Markets are still struggling to accept the cards as a form of payment. The Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card is the identification card for the Food Stamp Program.

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Wood-burning power plants burn me up

Photo by Denise Vastola

Photo by Denise Vastola

USA Today published an article, “Wood making comeback as power source,” several weeks ago.  It seems in 2007, there were eight wood-burning power plants and by the end of 2009, it is projected there will be more than 300.

Wood is considered a biofuel and, as such, a renewable source of energy. Yes, I suppose it’s renewable, if you wait long enough for a forest of trees to grow again, or if you harvest responsibly.

I am convinced, however, that the power plants popping up alongside wood mills and paper mills will soon be hungry for more than waste wood chips.  These plants may begin to devour more than scrap wood and go for the tastier trees that not only add beauty to our environment, but also help clean our air. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Impact of Community Gardens

Community Garden

Photo by Flatbush Gardener (via Flickr)

Aside from turning ugly empty lots into spaces full of life, community gardens have been credited with having a positive impact on their surrounding neighborhood. As I set out to find this data, I was meet with different points of view.

A study conducted by a research team from Texas State and Texas A&M Universities set out to find what kind of impact community gardens have on crime rates. The researchers collected and mapped crime rate data around the gardens and they also interviewed citizens. After gathering data, a comparison was made between community garden areas and areas randonmly selected in city areas that where within a 1-mile radius. Read the rest of this entry »

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Are most city dwellers too removed from their trash?

Kevin P. Casey for The New York Times Researchers glued electronic tags to trash items in order to track their journey.

Kevin P. Casey for The New York Times Researchers glued electronic tags to trash items in order to track their journey.

I grew up in a rural community, about 30 miles outside of Buffalo, NY, in the 60s and 70s.  At that time, my family was already sorting our garbage, because we didn’t have a trash pick up service.  We took it to the dump ourselves.  We returned all of our glass beverage bottles (mainly soda and beer bottles) directly to the grocery store.  Some paper was burned in the back yard (not recommended today), and icky stuff along with cans went to the dump.

In recent years, I’ve wondered if it was possible to follow some of my sorted and recyclable trash to see where it really winds up after the trucks picks it up. According to The New York Times article, “Following Trash and Recyclables on Their Journey,” MIT students not only had the same thought, but the wherewith-all to make it happen.

While it’s nice to recycle, perhaps the better path to take is to avoid the purchase in the first place, just like the “eco-geek” in Seattle suggests.

If all else fails and I must buy something that I believe has too much packaging, I hereby pledge to contact the manufacturer and request they reconsider repackaging the product so less material is used, and therefore, less burden on our planet.  Stay tuned!

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The Problem with Clotheslines

Photo by Grant MacDonald (via Flickr)

Photo by Grant MacDonald (via Flickr)

I came upon an interesting article in the New York Times titled, Debate Follows Bills to Remove Clotheslines Bans,” ironically, as I was using up energy doing laundry. Apparently, clotheslines for many are unattractive and for that reason they do not want to see them around their neighborhoods.

I find it disheartening that many still focus on the aesthetics of things instead of thinking of the kind of environment that future generations will inherit from our actions today.

I do not use a clothesline because of the lack of space at my place but I have reduced my impact by doing other things in the laundry room like washing full loads in cold water instead of hot and switching to environmentally friendly detergent.

As for those that have the space in their homes for a clothesline, they should be allowed to use them.

The problem with clotheslines, as the article hints at, is that they are seen as something that poor people are forced to do. Poor or not, everyone should be doing everything possible to reduce their impact on this planet.

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Aluminum Can Recycling Challenge

Long Beach started participating in an aluminum can recycling challenge with other cities six years ago.  One of the competing cities, according the the Web site, All things Long Beach,” is Los Angeles.

I checked L.A.’s Web site and found no mention of it on the home page, nor could I find a press release or any other sign that the mayor took on the Cans for Cash challenge.  Too bad.  It’s a good way to get more people — particularly children — involved in recycling.

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