Tag Archives: recycling

Coffeehouse observation No. 294 – Recycling made sexy

On the way to the coffeehouse I noticed a woman collecting cans and bottles from a trashcan and she was putting them into a Victoria’s Secret bag she was carrying. I suppose that makes recycling sexy.

Go to Coffeehouse Observer for more coffeehouse observations.

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Coffeehouse observation No. 252 – Greening coffee from field to coffeehouses

[I was scanning the job postings hosted by www.treehugger.com when I spotted several blog postings about greening coffee production and coffeehouses. Here are links to those posts. – KM]

Green Suggestions for coffee shops | www.treehugger.com

How to go green: Coffee and tea | planetgreen.com

Birch Coffee: A sustainable community hangout | www.treehugger.com

Growing oyster mushrooms in coffee grounds | www.treehugger.com

Starbucks shareholders reject recycling initiative | www.treehugger.com

Interview: Tony Gale, corporate architect at Starbucks | www.treehugger.com

Green mood lighting for Starbucks! Switching 8,000 stores to LEDs | www.treehugger.com

Starbucks’ farmers discuss the impact of fair trade | www.treehugger.com

Go to Coffeehouse Observer for more coffeehouse observations.

Rediscover recycling and reuse | Bangor Daily News

Rediscover recycling and reuse | Bangor Daily News.

Starbucks tests how coffee cups fare in NYC’s recycling stream | GreenBiz.com

[I like small coffeehouses over the chain places, but this story about Starbucks on GreenBiz.com is worth spreading around. Below are the first couple of paragraphs and a link to the rest of the story. – KM]

OAKLAND, CA — Starbucks is using New York City as a testing ground for recycling its ubiquitous coffee cups. If successful, it could mean the 3 billion cups it uses each year could go to recycling bins instead of landfills.

During a nine-week test, which started in mid-September and runs through November, 86 Starbucks locations in New York City will provide in-store recycling bins for cups and send them off to be recycled.

“We are testing the capability of the infrastructure to handle and accept our cups in the system,” said Jim Hanna, Starbucks’ director of environmental impact. Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) has a self-imposed goal to only provide reusable or recyclable cups by 2015.

Click to read the rest of the story by Jonathan Bardelline on GreenBiz.com



Earth Day: Mainers get good grades but … | Lewiston Sun Journal

AUGUSTA — We asked experts to helps us compare how Maine was doing environmentally compared to the nation.

Not surprisingly, Maine is doing better in air quality, water quality and the amount we recycle.

It started 40 years ago when Maine U.S. Sen. Edmund Muskie sponsored what became the Clean Air and Clean Water acts. (More bragging rights, Muskie was a native of Rumford.) Because of those laws and all the work that followed, “Maine has air and waters statewide that are much cleaner than they were, and much cleaner than other states east of the Mississippi River,” said David Littell, Department of Environmental Protection commissioner.

Maine has many of the most intact ecosystems among eastern states, such as strong cold-water fisheries, which have 75 percent of the eastern habitat in Maine, Littell said. “We need to continue to protect high-quality air, water, and habitats, while permitting development in lower quality areas.”

The next environmental battle, he said, is climate change.

Click on the link for the rest of today’s story and guide by Bonnie Washuk in the Lewiston Sun Journal.

 [Thinking too much about the magnitude of the environment and what we’ve done to this planet can be extremely daunting.

“What can I do? What can one person do?” can be rattling around nearly everyone’s head.

The thing, it isn’t about what one person can do or what one group of people can do. It is about we all can do. What can we do? We start small and build on small victories until we make a dent. And then we push forward some more.

Attached with the story are three lists of what we all can do to help in the long run. Try one or two from each list. Then another and another. – KM]

5 things to do to improve air quality:

  1. Conserve electricity, buy efficient appliances and products such as compact fluorescents or even better, LEDs.
  2. Drive a vehicle that gets good gas mileage; keep it tuned.
  3. Make sure your home is insulated.
  4. Use an EPA certified wood or pellet stove.
  5. Drive less, carpool if you can, and support public policy and legislation that moves us toward clean and healthy energy and transportation.

Source: Department of Environmental Protection, American Lung Association of Maine

5 things to improve recycling rates:

  1. Find out what your local recycling program accepts for materials, adjust your home’s system to match.
  2. Build a backyard compost pile, keeps organics out of the trash. It will reduce odor, and you get a soil-enriching product at no cost.
  3. Use smaller trash cans; they fill up faster and make you think twice before tossing something.
  4. Make recycling more convenient in your home; keep the recycling bin near the trash can.
  5. Think about the waste generated as you buy something. Make a pledge to recycle more and throw away less, and keep that pledge

—From George MacDonald, Maine State Planning Office

5 things to improve water quality

  1. Prevent erosion. Soil erosion is the single greatest threat to water quality. Seed and mulch bare ground.
  2. Use trees and shrubs to filter runoff. Every time it rains, pollutants are washed from driveways, roofs, yards, parking lots and roads into ditches. From there the runoff goes to streams, rivers, lakes or  groundwater. A ribbon of bushes, trees and ground cover (buffers) can act as a sponge and filter out contaminants.
  3. Use less fertilizer and pesticides. Fertilizing your lawn and garden can result in phosphorus and nitrogen that can run off and get into streams, lakes and the ocean. If you leave the grass clippings, you don’t need to fertilize; grass clippings are free fertilizer. Pesticides, which are toxic, can create health problems for people and animals. Compared to 15 years ago, three times as much yard care pesticides are brought into Maine. Pesticides can wash off into into water bodies. If you have pests, spot treat. Learn to like dandelions.
  4. Maintain septic systems. About 50 percent of Mainers use septic systems. Inadequate septic systems account for 5 to 10 percent of all phosphorus that reaches lakes. Toxins, nitrates, nutrients, bacteria and viruses from inadequate septic systems can seep into wells. That pollution also flows into streams, harms lakes, and on the coast, causes clam flats and beaches to be closed.
  5. If you have a septic system, don’t use septic additives, don’t pour grease or food down your sink, pump your system every two to three years. If your septic system was installed before 1974, consider replacing it.

Source: Department of Environmental Protection

Mainers celebrate Earth Day | Bangor Daily News

Mainers celebrate Earth Day – Bangor Daily News.

Coffee giant Starbucks tackles green goals except one: Recycling | GreenBiz.com

SEATTLE, WA — From buying green power to reducing the amount of water it uses, Starbucks is on track to meet the majority of its long-term environmental goals, the coffee giant said Monday.

Starbucks made gains in green building, water and energy use, ethical sourcing and helping farmers reduce deforestation, the company said in its 2009 Global Responsibility Report. It lagged, however, in one high-profile area: recycling.

The company rated its progress on three recycling goals as “Needs improvement.” The goals involve developing a comprehensive recyclable cup by 2012, implementing front-of-store recycling in company-owned stores, and serving a quarter of beverage made in-store in reusable vessels, both by 2015.

“One of the significant challenges we’re facing is a wide variance in municipal recycling capabilities,” Starbucks said in the report. “This inconsistency makes it difficult for a company like ours, with more than 16,000 retail locations around the globe, to efficiently and effectively implement a recycling strategy.”

Click on the link for the rest of the story on GreenBiz.com.

Oh, boy, I think we’ve really screwed up things

I just finished reading Alan Weisman’s “The World Without Us” and even if a fraction of a fraction of what he writes is a fraction correct, then we have really screwed up things on this earthly orb.

The book – you can read a bit about it on a website for the book at http://www.worldwithoutus.com/index2.html – came out a couple of years ago and speculates on what would happen if man – and woman, of course – failed to exist any longer. What would happen to the cities – homes, businesses, subways, channels, etc. – we have built if we were no longer here to maintain them or to build more of them or properly dispose of them, as if we do that now.

What would happen to the species we have endangered. What would return. What would not.

What would happen to trees, forests, streams, rivers, river deltas, the ocean if we were no longer here to cut them, redirect them, dam them, pollute them.

What would happen if we – you, me and the billions upon billions of other people on Earth suddenly were no longer here. What would happen.

It is stunning – and I don’t mean in a good way – what we have done to this planet. Simply stunning.

Frankly, I don’t know if Weisman’s science adds up. I’m not a scientist, I’m not a researcher. Heck, the other day I used the word “sciencey” on one of my other blogs. I don’t get science and science doesn’t get me.

But Weisman presents a startling picture of where we’ve been, what we’ve done and what would happen if we were no longer here.

I want this to be a better place and I am personally doing what little I can to do more by recycling bottles, cans, newspaper, cardboard. I purchased a set of no-rip nylon bags to use grocery shopping. I limit the trips in my car – an ultra-low emissions car, I might add.

But it is not nearly enough, not by a very, very long shot.

We very probably – not possibly, but probably – screwed things up so very badly that most things will not come back to even nearly where they were before.

In the book’s prelude, Weisman writes:

“Our world, some respected voices warn, could one day degenerate into something resembling a vacant lot, where crows and rats scuttle among weeds, preying on each other. If it comes to that, at what point would things have gone so far that, for all our vaunted superior intelligence, we’re not among the hardy survivors?

“The truth is, we don’t know. Any conjecture gets muddled by our obstinate reluctance to accept that they worst might actually occur. We may be undermined by our survival instincts, honed over eons to help us deny, defy, or ignore catastrophic portents lest they paralyze us with fright.”

That is not cause to lie down, curl into the fetal position and die. Quite the opposite. I think it is a hopeful piece that urges each of us have to try just a little to make a big impact, if not immediately, then in the future.

This is from the book’s jacket or the website. I cannot recall at the moment:

In “The World Without Us,” Alan Weisman offers an utterly original approach to questions of humanity’s impact on the planet: he asks us to envision our Earth, without us.

In this far-reaching narrative, Weisman explains how our massive infrastructure would collapse and finally vanish without human presence; what of our everyday stuff may become immortalized as fossils; how copper pipes and wiring would be crushed into mere seams of reddish rock; why some of our earliest buildings might be the last architecture left; and how plastic, bronze sculpture, radio waves, and some man-made molecules may be our most lasting gifts to the universe.

The World Without Us” reveals how, just days after humans disappear, floods in New York’s subways would start eroding the city’s foundations, and how, as the world’s cities crumble, asphalt jungles give way to real ones. It describes the distinct ways that organic and chemically-treated farms would revert to wild, how billions more birds would flourish, and how cockroaches in unheated cities would perish without us. Drawing on the expertise of engineers, atmospheric scientists, art conservators, zoologists, oil refiners, marine biologists, astrophysicists, religious leaders from rabbis to the Dalai Lama, and paleontologists – who describe a pre-human world inhabited by megafauna like giant sloths that stood taller than mammoths – Weisman illustrates what the planet might be like today, if not for us.

From places already devoid of humans (a last fragment of primeval European forest; the Korean DMZ; Chernobyl), Weisman reveals Earth’s tremendous capacity for self-healing. As he shows which human devastations are indelible, and which examples of our highest art and culture would endure longest, Weisman’s narrative ultimately drives toward a radical but persuasive solution that doesn’t depend on our demise. It is narrative nonfiction at its finest, and in posing an irresistible concept with both gravity and a highly-readable touch, it looks deeply at our effects on the planet in a way that no other book has.

And here is what critics say about the book:

“I plucked this book from the stack of Advanced Readers Copies that flood the store, read the first page, and then read the book straight through exclaiming to anyone who would tolerate me – listen to this, and this, and this!!!!! This book is a thought experiment (what would the world be like if humans disappeared today, raptured up perhaps). A very simple premise that leads this marvelously straightforward, thoughtful, thorough author into parts of the world I hadn’t known existed. As well, he deals with exactly what would go first and last in your house. How long it would take for Manhattan to collapse. On and on. It makes for obsessive reading. This is perhaps my favorite book this year. At once the most harrowing and, oddly, comforting book on the environment that I’ve read in many years.” — Louise Erdrich, author of “Love Medicine” and of National Book Award finalist “The Birchbark House”

[No] “end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it story … is more audacious or interesting than Alan Weisman’s ‘The World Without Us.’” — Boston Globe

“I don’t think I’ve read a better non-fiction book this year.” — Lev Grossman, TIME Book Critic

“This is one of the grandest thought experiments of our time, a tremendous feat of imaginative reporting!” — Bill McKibben, author of “The End of Nature” and “Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and The Durable Future”

“The imaginative power of ‘The World Without Us’ is compulsive and nearly hypnotic – make sure you have time to be kidnapped into Alan Weisman’s alternative world before you sit down with the book, because you won’t soon return. This is a text that has a chance to change people, and so make a real difference for the planet.” — Charles Wohlforth, author of L.A. Times Book Prize-winning The Whale and the Supercomputer

“A refreshing, and oddly hopeful, look at the fate of the environment.” — BusinessWeek

“Alan Weisman offers us a sketch of where we stand as a species that is both illuminating and terrifying. His tone is conversational and his affection for both Earth and humanity transparent.” — Barry Lopez, author of Arctic Dreams

“Brilliantly creative. An audacious intellectual adventure. His thought experiment is so intellectually fascinating, so oddly playful, that it escapes categorizing and clichés. It sucks us in with a vision of what is, what has been and what is yet to come. The book is addictive … by appealing not just to our fear and guilt but to our love for our planetary home, ‘The World Without Us’ makes saving the world as intimate an act as helping a child. It’s a trumpet call that sounds from the other end of the universe and from inside us all.” — Salon

“Extraordinarily farsighted. A beautiful and passionate jeremiad against deforestation, climate change, and pollution.” — Boston Globe

“An exacting account of the processes by which things fall apart. The scope is breathtaking … the clarity and lyricism of the writing itself left me with repeated gasps of recognition about the human condition. I believe it will be a classic.” — Dennis Covington, author of National Book Award finalist “Salvation on Sand Mountain”

“… [I]n his provocative new book, ‘The World Without Us,’ Alan Weisman adds a dash of fiction to his science to address a despairing problem: the planet’s health.” — U.S. News & World Report

“Grandly entertaining.” — TIME

“Alan Weisman has produced, if not a bible, at least a Book of Revelation.” — Newsweek

“One of the most ambitious ‘thought experiments’ ever.” — The Cincinnati Enquirer

“The book boasts an amazingly imaginative conceit that manages to tap into underlying fears and subtly inspire us to consider our interaction with the planet.” — The Washington Post

“As fascinating as it is surprising.” — BusinessWeek

“Fascinating, mordant, deeply intelligent, and beautifully written, ‘The World Without Us’ depicts the spectacle of humanity’s impact on the planet Earth in tragically poignant terms that go far beyond the dry dictates of science. This is a very important book for a species playing games with its own destiny.” — James Howard Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency

“An astonishing mass of reportage that envisions a world suddenly bereft of humans.” — The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Maine passes first-in-nation product stewardship bill | SustainableBusiness.com

Maine passes first-in-nation product stewardship bill | SustainableBusiness.com

Oakland’s Peerless Coffee brews more efficient waste management | GreenerDesign.com

Peerless Coffee Brews More Efficient Waste Management | GreenerDesign.com.

Old sails from Maine recycled as tents for Haiti | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Old sails recycled as tents for Haiti | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

Student launches paper recycling at MVHS | River Valley | Sun Journal

Student launches paper recycling at MVHS | River Valley | Sun Journal.

Taking a dip in the recycling stream | Portland Press Herald

 Taking a dip in the recycling stream | Portland Press Herald.