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December 3, 2010 / robertstockham

What’s in your can?

This is a post from Great Lakes Green Pages.   Reprinted with permission.

While spending all that time sorting your recyclables and picking out the plastics, sometimes we forget the most obvious thing of all: the liner. Since we do not have curbside recycling, I have to transport all my recycling to the nearest drop off location. While I have made my peace with this, there is still something that nags at me. I have to bag my recycling, adding more plastic to the batch, and I worry what that does to the process.

Did you know that the plastic that makes up the lid to your plastic bottle and the bottle itself are different plastics? This means they cannot be recycled together, so I always take the lids off of my bottles. Same with glass jars and metal lids, etc. I have heard stories of cities that toss out bottles with lids rather than take the time to unscrew the caps. That make me wonder what happens when I drop off my recycling in a plastic bag. Also, while I stuff my bags full before putting them on the curb, my garbage is still more because of the plastic bag that I have to put it in. What’s a guy to do?

So I was thrilled while walking down the aisle of the local store (yes, it WAS a Wal Mart) and I found these bags by GoodSense. I used to buy them on the West Coast, but have never seen them in Cleveland before. They are made with 60% recycled plastic. That means less virgin plastic was manufactured for me to put garbage in. To top it off, these bags were comparably priced to many of the other brands on the shelf.

One of the big things that people often fail to consider when make their purchases is what the product is made of and what the packaging is made of. By buying products with recycled content you help to close the loop. What good is recycling, if no one is making anything out of all those plastics that are being lovingly sorted? And why isn’t every box made from recycled content? It isn’t like we need a brand new box made from tree fiber to hold something for a few months and then toss it. These great little bags come in a box made from 100% recycled paperboard. So by buying this product, you can basically reuse the plastic bottles and office paper that you recycle every day.

So if these bags are not available at your local store, ask the manager to stock them. They are manufactured by:
Webster Industries, Inc
A Division of Chelsea Industries, Inc
Good Sense Division, Dept RT20
PO Box 3119
Peabody, MA 01961-3119

Close the loop!

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December 2, 2010 / robertstockham

Save while heating this winter…

If you are buying a new heating system, consider a high-efficiency electric air source or ground source heat pump. The energy efficiency is rated according to a federal standard called the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor, or HSPF. Heat pumps with an HSPF of 10 are al-most three times more efficient than the most efficient gas furnaces. In January 2006, the new minimum efficiency for air source heat pumps rose to 7.7 HSPF, while efficiency levels for furnaces and boilers have not increased since 1992.

Ground source heat pumps, or GeoEx-change units, use the Earth as a heat source in the winter and as a heat sink in the summer. Ground source heat pumps are rated in terms of Coefficient of Performance (COP) for the winter. The higher the COP, the higher the efficiency. Where gas furnaces have COP values in the 0.78 to 0.94 range, ground source heat pumps have COP values in the 3.0 to 5.0 range.

In the heating season, water vapors from bathing and cooking are beneficial because they help humidify the home. So, use kitchen and bath exhaust fans sparingly in the winter to keep as much heat as possible inside your house.

Locate the heating thermostat on an inside wall away from windows and doors. Cold drafts will cause the thermostat to keep the system running even when the rest of the house is warm enough.

Set the heating thermostat as low as comfort permits. For instance, each degree above 68 F can add 3 percent to the amount of energy needed for heating. If you have a heat pump, make sure that the thermostat is designed to operate the heat pump efficiently when raising the temperature after it has been lowered.

When entertaining a large group of people during the heating season, lower the thermostat a degree or two before the guests arrive. Otherwise, since people generate heat, the space may become wastefully overheated.

Lubricate pump and blower bearings regularly in accordance with manufacturers’ recommendations to limit the amount of energy lost to friction and to extend equipment life as well.

Close heating vents and radiator valves in unused rooms. Make sure that drapes, plants, or furniture do not block registers for supply or return air.

For more information on heating, check out the following Web sites:www.geoexchange.com
and www.energystar.gov.

 

December 1, 2010 / robertstockham

Save energy and water while washing dishes…

Here are some tips for saving energy and water while doing the dishes.

Soak or pre-wash only in the cases of burned-on or dried-on foods.

Be sure that the dishwasher is full, but not overloaded.

Don’t use the “rinse hold” feature on your dishwasher when you only have a few soiled dishes.

Overall, dishwashers use less water than washing dishes by hand. For a full load of dishes in the dishwasher, washing the same dishes by hand would typically use at least 6 more gallons of hot water.

Look for dishwashers with internal booster heaters, so that you can set your water heater thermostat at 1200 F (rather than 1400 F or higher for dishwashing purposes). Most new dishwashers have this feature.

Look for the ENERGY STAR® label when purchasing a new dishwasher. New criteria went into effect on January 1, 2007, which made ENERGY STAR® units more than 35 percent more efficient than baseline units.

New federal efficiency standards for standard-size and compact dishwashers took effect on January 1, 2010. For standard-size units, the efficiency standards are 6.5 gallons of water used per cycle and a maximum usage of 355 kilowatt-hours per year.

For more information on high-efficiency dishwashers, check out the following Web sites:www.aham.org and www.energystar.gov

 

November 30, 2010 / robertstockham

Printreleaf

Some of the kids at Beachwood High School sent us this cool company’s website.  We checked it out and it is so great that we wanted to share it with you.  It is called PrintReLeaf.  The idea is to offset some of the trees used in printing from your local computer… It is a great idea, check them out!

 

As a consumer, every time you click “print”, you are consuming paper. The source of paper is our planet’s trees and ultimately, our forests. So the solution is simple: for every document (piece of paper) you consume, printreleaf will reforest it by planting trees to offset all of your paper consumption.

There are varying beliefs on how many pieces of paper can be sourced from one tree. This is understandable because trees vary in size, shape, age, and quality of fiber. Additionally, paper will range in size, texture, weight, and finish. To keep this simple, we are using 20lb bond paper as the standard benchmark for determining how many prints we need to reforest for each customer since the majority of documents produced in a traditional office environment are printed on 20lb bond paper. From all the formulas we have researched and respect, we have opted to reforest at a level consistent with the mean of all formulas.

If you regularly duplex or use paper with a percentage of recycled content, then the trees reforested in your name, or your company name, will exceed the number of prints (and trees) you actually consumed. If this is the case, we will still remain true to our formula and commitment as we only see this as a benefit to the planet.

To determine how many prints a customer has consumed and require reforestation, we will report on how many pages are specified by the manufacturer’s yield as indicated on the ink or toner cartridge package. For example, if you purchase a toner cartridge that specifies 10,000 page yield, then we will reforest all 10,000 pages. We are committed to this number because against average industry consumption, most customers will never consume the actual specified yield. The 10,000 page yield is based on 5% page fill per sheet of paper, even though industry average is closer to 8% to 10%. By committing to the 5% level we feel we are being conservative and not shortchanging any reforestation efforts.

All reforestation contributions will be performed on an annual basis. We calculate your total print consumption and, in turn, your reforestation debt as of December 31st. Upon calculation, we will purchase the required number of trees from a certified agency who will provide a certificate of donation by printreleaf in your name or your company’s name to officially quantify your reforestation.

 

November 20, 2010 / robertstockham

Kimball Office is using the EcoScorecard

Kimball Office announces
partnership with ecoScorecard!
 

ecoScorecard_logo Kimball Office is committed to quickly and easily providing the sustainable information you need.

We’re excited to announce a partnership with ecoScorecard, a web based tool that provides environmental product information and sustainability documentation for LEED and other third-party rating systems.  ecoScorecard includes information for not just office furniture, but also for other building components that contribute to a sustainable office space.

By compiling sustainable information from a single source, such as ecoScorecard, hours, weeks, and sometimes months can be reduced in the documentation process for new construction or remodel projects.  This time savings can contribute to reduced project costs for building owners, architects, designers, product specifiers, and dealersalespersons. 

Specific product information on Kimball Office products will be included in ecoScorecard by mid-November.

SquareTrees_with_sustainable_by_nature_200



If you have questions or need more information, please email the Kimball Office Customer Care team or call us at 800.482.1818.  The Kimball Office team would be glad to assist you!
November 19, 2010 / robertstockham

Styrofoam

Did you know we can recycle styrofoam?

November 18, 2010 / robertstockham

Go Vegetarian…just once a week.

Purists will tell you that only an organic vegetarian diet made from local produce will save the planet. While that may be true in theory, I enjoy a good steak or hamburger. I love barbecue. And you can’t beat a great lemon chicken. Top that off with the fact that you can’t buy a local green vegetable in Cleveland in January, unless you own your own greenhouse. So are we forced to decide between our favorite foods and saving the planet? I say no.

True, eating meat is bad for the environment. The Amazon rain forest is being destroyed at an unbelievably rapid rate, partly to raise beef for our carnivorous consumption. In addition, it isn’t being harvested, it is being burned-adding to the CO2 problem. Overgrazing destroys grasslands and leads to topsoil erosion. Methane from cows and other livestock are contributing to greenhouse gas levels. A pound of grain fed beef in the US is roughly equivalent to a gallon of gas, as far as energy used to produce it. Chickens are being raised in tiny cages that do not permit movement. Livestock production in general uses nearly half of the water consumed in the US. It has been estimated that if all the resources used for meat consumption were used for cultivation of human food crops, the world would have a surplus of food.

But eating vegetables has its own impact on the planet. Pesticide runoff is affecting the water table. Bio engineering of fruits and veggies is drawing precious resources away from human problems. Unless you live in the tropics, most of the produce in our local supermarket is shipped from around the globe. Fossil fuels are being burned to bring foods to you. Consider this: in New York City, most of the apples consumed are being shipped from New Zealand and Australia. However, there are plenty of apples produced in Washington state. Even the apples at my market are Washington apples, and there are multiple apple farms within 50 miles of my home. How much energy does it take to bring your Florida orange juice to you-especially if you live near Arizona or California? And I don’t think you can even grow a banana in most of this country.

Does this mean I am doomed to a diet of potatoes and corn all year? Luckily, no. All it means that we can make a big difference in the world by changing just one meal a week.

Think of skipping that meal of cheeseburgers and having some stir fried vegetables. Switching to veggies just one day a week saves on greenhouse gasses in an exponential fashion. Factual data is subjective, and varies from study to study. I could quote facts and cite figures but what do they really mean? Reducing our dependence on meat by even one meal a week will mean less cows bred and raised. Less cows means less cow flatulence, less forests burned, and less transportation. I estimate that I eat a cow every three years or so (yes, I love beef). If I substitute one meal of beef a week with vegetables, that means I will eat one less cow every 20 years. Now that is my calculation based on me and me alone, but I think that is pretty average considering how many burgers are sold by fast food vendors alone each year. Multiple that by 5 families of four. That is a cow a year. How many families of four are there in the US?

Buying and eating local can also have a huge impact on the world. In addition to supporting the local producers, which feeds your local economy, less energy is used to bring those products to market. Try eating just one local meal a week. If you need some ideas or recipes look at this blog: Eat Local Challenge.There are participants from around the world and plenty of ideas. While you may not be the kind of person who will make their own yogurt and cheese from locally produced milk, there are still plenty of ideas to help you make a once a week commitment.

I am going to do my part to save the planet-one meal at a time.