Archive for March, 2009

Five Steps Back: the difficulty in recycling other plastics

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on March 24, 2009 by MarilynB

This tofu container will last for generations.

This tofu container will last for generations.

For a while, some kindly neighbors arranged supplemental plastics recycling and collected plastics that are not part of the city’s curbside collection. With much relief I began to collect plastic numbered 3, 4, 5, and up. The first Saturday collection arrived and I rose early and walked to a nearby park with a bag of plastics.

I went home and continued to collect plastics and waited for an announcement of the next collection day. After a couple months, I posted a query about the next collection date on a neighborhood environmental discussion board but no one had any information. Sadly our program seems to have died, which threw me into a sad state. Also by that time, I had another kitchen trash bag full of recycling.

Many neighborhood collection programs ended when the city began collecting some plastics. Others stopped when single steam started. A few have continued, however, so the easiest and best way to find that source may be to ask around your neighborhood. Isn’t that a good way to meet your neighbors?

Weavers Way Coop also hosts “Gimme 5!” a plastics recycling program that accepts clean and dry number 5 plastics. Deliver them to 610 Carpenter Lane (next to the pet store) from 10am to 1pm on the Saturday, April 18, May 16, and June 10. A small donation is requested with each drop-off of recyclables. Read more about the program on page 5 of the Shuttle, the Weavers Way Newsletter.

Preserve announced a program to recycle plastic number 5 with Whole Foods, Stonyfield Farms, and Organic Valley. However the Philadelphia and Wynnewood Whole Foods do not participate. The Jenkintown Whole Foods has a special collection planned for Earth Day on April 22, 2009. Recyclables must be clean, dry, and marked 1 through 7. Drop-off time is from 8 AM to 9 PM.

Most plastics recycling programs require the removal of lids. Lids and containers are not usually made from the same type of plastic. The Aveda salon in Manayunk accept plastic lids. They must be clean.

I still have that garbage bag of plastics, which the city won’t accept. I hope to travel to Weaver’s Way soon. The only other option is to throw them in the trash, where they will remain for a few thousand years.


Better World Books: Not From Trees

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on March 20, 2009 by MarilynB

Stack of BooksLooking for an eco-friendly bookstore? “Believing that education and access to books are basic human rights,” Better World Books sells new and used books. They also collect books through book drives. They sell the collected books and use the profit to fund literacy programs around the world, including in the United States.

No books are simply tossed. They are either resold, donated, or recycled. To date, Better World Books saved 8000 tons of books from the trash heap and have sold 16 million donated books, earning $5.2 million in funding for literacy and education. They also have donated 1 million books to literacy programs.

Better World Books offers free shipping to any location within the United States (or $3.97 worldwide). They describe their shipping as carbon neutral because they purchase offsets from, if you believe in that sort of thing.

Give your Amazon account a break and pick up a tome or two from Better World Books. Your purchase will spread literacy and education while reducing waste. The person you educate may be your next door neighbor or your future business partner in India.

Eco-friendly Fitness Gear

Posted in Fitness, health with tags , , on March 6, 2009 by MarilynB
Sneaker with Plenty of Wear Remaining

Sneaker with Plenty of Wear Remaining

Most gyms and fitness equipment are far from ecologically sound. Television units on ellipticals play whether or not the elliptical is in use. Power usage for the ellipticals and treadmills are huge. Shoes and equipment are made from petroleum, plastic, and other synthetic compounds. New products with biodegradable and have more natural sources are arriving.

Sneakers have a large environmental impact with plastic, leather, and petroleum sources. Worse is that fitness buffs use them so heavily that it’s easy to wear a pair out in a few months and add them to overflowing landfills. Fortunately shoe companies are stepping up their game by introducing sneakers with more recycled and biodegradable parts. The Keen Coronado Lace Shoe is made from cork and canvas and donates $1 to the National Wildlife Federation for each pair of kids shoes sold. New Balance now offers the New Balance 1224 with a liner that is made from coconut shells. Adidas uses hemp in the adi Grün series and the Brook Trance 8 for running claims to use a nontoxic substance in the sole that breaks down that sole, decreasing mass in landfills. For the sneaker snob, Veja offers exclusive productions runs of 500 sneakers made with Amazonian wild latex and organic cotton grown by small producers in North-eastern Brazil (Do they contribute to deforestation?).

Bottled water costs more than gasoline on average and is extremely wasteful. Common tap water in the U.S. is tested frequently for safety and flavor. Tap water is safe and pleasant. Bottled water is often tap water that has been trucked all over the world. Sometimes it is moved from countries that lack adequate sanitation and drinking sources. Discarded water bottles hit our landfills, where they require generations to degrade. Plastic bottles also include chemicals that can affect human hormones. Plastic is petroleum-based and the US wastes 1.5 million barrels of oil per year producing plastic water bottles.

Instead of buying bottled water, buy a bottle and reuse it. Kleen Kanteen offers a metal bottle that is completely recyclable and is free from plastic. BioGreen bottles are plastic bottles, but they’re 100% biodegradable, recyclable and reusable. On the positive reusable plastic bottles are long lasting and are not designed to join the trash heap when empty.

With a little planning and some help from manufacturers, fitness can be more environmentally friendly. Changing just a couple products like your water bottle and your sneaker can improve the earth while you get fit. We only have one body and one earth so let’s care for both simultaneously.

Radiator Love or Bounce Back the Heat

Posted in energy efficiency, weatherization with tags , , on March 3, 2009 by MarilynB

Radiator FoilTake a minute to look around your house. Where are your heat sources? The fast majority of radiators and heat vents are placed less than optimally for efficiency. Radiators are often placed below windows. Hot air vents are usually placed in the ceiling and baseboards run along external walls. This means that a lot of valuable heat rises up to the ceiling or slowly passes out of our walls and never heats our homes and bodies. Remodeling and moving your heat sources is not my recommendation but we can take some small actions to deflect that heat where we want and need it.

The photo with this post shows tin foil taped to the back of our radiators. The tinfoil deflects heat that would pass into our plaster walls, which probably aren’t insulated, and through the stone and stucco to the outdoors. Skeptical? When Mr. Philly Organic added the tinfoil to our radiators, we felt the heat standing further from our radiators than we had previously.

Will this result in large savings? No but for a very small expenditure, you can conserve energy and add up small savings. Plus you can be a little more comfortable at home.