Thursday, February 28, 2008

Annual International Boston Seafood Show

This year, the captains of the global seafood industry are showing signs of movement toward sustainable fishing practices -- and at least the trappings of concern for the ocean as an ecosystem, not just a place for harvesting profits. All of that was on display in a session called "Sustainability: Where to Get the Answers." The panel focused on sustainable aquaculture -- fish farming. Panelists grappled with the difficult question of how to define sustainability.

Moderated by David Beard of The Boston Globe, panelists discussed establishing guidelines for sustainable aquaculture, and agreed that creating effective standards depended on transparency about the process; input from all stakeholders; rigorous, science-based information; emphasis on continuous improvement; and international acceptance. Aquaculture now provides about 45 percent of the world's seafood. Given that volume, issues include: the use of wild fish as feed for farmed fish, feed conversion ratios (i.e., some fish grow well on less feed than others), the treatment of effluent water, energy use, and life-cycle analysis, and overall carbon footprints for aquaculture operations. The panelists also touched on escape of exotic species, exposing wild fish to disease, and the densities at which farmed fish can be raised. One panelist, pointed out that mass-scale aquaculture is a relatively new phenomenon, adding that as producers gain more experience with it, they'll prove to the public that fish farms can be sustainably managed.

Many spoke about the need to educate the public in order to create a demand for sustainable seafood. If the public is upset at the environmental cost of poorly managed farms or harvesting practices, it will impact sales. The seafood industry has taken stock of the grave state of the ocean's health and ability to produce seafood for human consumption.

Source: Grist

Download a mini-guide to safe fish eating here

visit to learn more

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

USPS Launches EcoEnvelopes

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has certified ecoEnvelopes’ reusable envelopes for use in U.S. mail. These allow for the initial envelope to also be used as the reply envelope.

More than 80 billion reply envelopes are sent through the US mail each year. Every one million ecoEnvelopes used saves an estimated 250 million BTUs of energy and 37,000 pounds of greenhouse gasses. The envelopes are manufactured on certified papers from managed forests using up to 100 percent recycled content.

The selling point is that bulk mailers such as utilities, credit card companies, and direct marketers can reduce manufacturing, printing, shipping and insertion costs by using one envelope instead of two. The envelopes are designed for use with existing high-speed insertion and processing equipment.

high-speed insertion - you heard it here first!

Source: Earth911

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Offset your Techy Lifestyle

These days it is almost impossible to go an hour, let alone a day without checking your email. And every household has  at least one computer if not a variety of other electronics. Including a printer, laptop, server etc. I'm sure you  know that all these products add to the overwhelming Co2 emissions problem. For this reason Dell has come up with a "Plant a Tree for Me" program to help offset your home or office's electronics.

1. Write a list of all the electronics you own (they do not have to be Dell products).
2. Visit this website 
3. Choose donate and select from a list of products. Dell will then calculate the carbon emission of that product and the cost of offsetting it. 
4. They will then send 100% of your donation to partner organizations that facilitate the planting of trees.

Now get off the internet and go for a walk outside!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Texas Wind

Texas, once the oil capital of North America, is rapidly turning into the capital of wind power. After breakneck growth the last three years, Texas has reached the point that more than 3 percent of its electricity, enough to supply power to one million homes, comes from wind turbines. Texans are even turning tapped-out oil fields into wind farms, and no less an oilman than Boone Pickens is getting into alternative energy. He is planning to build the biggest wind farm in the world, a $10 billion behemoth that could power a small city by itself.

Wind turbines, once a marginal form of electrical generation, already supply about 1 percent of American electricity, powering the equivalent of 4.5 million homes. Environmental advocates contend it could eventually hit 20 percent, as has already happened in Denmark. Energy consultants say that 5 to 7 percent is a more realistic goal in this country.

Despite being a nearly pollution-free power source, it does have limitations. Though the gap is closing, electricity from wind remains costlier than that generated from fossil fuels. Moreover, wind power is intermittent and unpredictable, and the hottest days, when electricity is needed most, are usually not windy. The turbines are getting bigger and their blades can kill birds and bats. Aesthetic and wildlife issues have led to opposition emerging around the country, particularly in coastal areas like Cape Cod. But the opposition has been limited, and has done little to slow the rapid growth of wind power in Texas.

At the end of 2007, Texas ranked No. 1 in the nation with installed wind power of 4,356 megawatts (and 1,238 under construction), far outdistancing California’s 2,439 megawatts (and 165 under construction). Minnesota and Iowa came in third and fourth with almost 1,300 megawatts each (and 46 and 116 under construction, respectively).
Read more at NYTimes

Interview with Ed

Click here to watch a video with Ed Begley Jr. on NYTime's blog, Dot Earth.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Putting Your Cork to Good Use

Cork is obtained from the bark of the Cork Oak Tree - Quercus suber. Over 50% of the world's cork supply comes from Portugal. Cork is one of the few forms of packaging that is environmentally friendly! Harvesting of the cork tree is first done when the tree is 25 years old, and then can only be stripped once every nine years. And the 3 harvesting is the only harvest that is smooth and natural enough for manufacturing of Wine Corks.

Since it takes so long for a cork oak tree to yield it's first cork. It's dis-hearting that we turn around and throw it away. Why not recycle this natural object and allow the cork to be recycled into other products

Recycle Cork USA, LLC has launched a nonprofit called Kork 4 Kids, which raises funds from the recycling of cork for Children's Charities.

Here's what you do:
1. Start collecting your corks today, in a drawer or bag.

2. Once you have a sizable amount. Send your corks (via flat rate shipping) to :Korks 4 Kids Programc/o RECYCLE CORK USA, LLC.510 Wynwood RoadYork, Pennsylvania 174023. Hold on to your receipt for charitable contribution.

Closing the loop, one bottle at a time.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Curbside Recycling

Curbside recycling now serves half of the U.S. population, providing the most convenient means for households to recycle a variety of materials. While all curbside programs differ, the most commonly included materials are The Big Five: aluminum, glass, paper, plastic, and steel.

Facts about Curbside:

The EPA estimates that 75 percent of what Americans throw in the trash could actually be recycled

Incinerating 10,000 tons of waste creates one job; landfilling 10,000 tons of waste creates six jobs; recycling 10,000 tons of waste creates 36 jobs

The national recycling rate of 30 percent saves the equivalent of more than five billion gallons of gasoline, reducing dependence on foreign oil by 114 million barrels

According to the EPA, recycling, including composting, diverted 68 million tons of material away from landfills and incinerators in 2001, up from 34 million tons in 1990

Aluminum can (the most valuable item in your bin) recycling can fund the entire cost of curbside collection

There are three types of curbside recycling
1. Dual-Stream Recycling: This is probably the most popular form of curbside recycling in the U.S. Containers go in one bin, and papers (newspaper, magazines, direct mail, etc.) go in another. Both bins are set out on the curb on pick-up day. Most communities that offer this service use special trucks divided in half so workers can sort at the truck.

2. Single-Stream Recycling: This method is growing, but somewhat controversial. It provides one wheeled, lidded cart (65 or 94 gallon) and materials are commingled. Households do not have to separate any materials. Haulers favor single-stream because it involves less trucks and pick-ups. But there are questions about whether commingled materials are more suspect to contamination. Evidence does suggest that single-stream increases the quantity of household recyclables. Many cities have implemented single-stream programs as a result.

3. Pay-as-you-throw: Pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) is actually a trash collection program that encourages curbside recycling. Residents are charged per trash bag, and curbside recycling is offered at no or reduced cost.
There are several benefits to PAYT programs:
Decreases waste: The EPA says municipalities often see 25-35 percent less waste
Increases recycling: If residents can pay for trash or recycle for “free,” they are much more watchful about what gets trashed; one California PAYT program saw recycling volumes triple, literally overnight
Control of waste costs: Residents have a direct effect on what they spend on disposal
More materials about who supports PAYT are available from the EPA. Over 6,000 communities across the country have successfully implemented PAYT.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Earth Hour Switch-Off -- Mark Your Calenders

As many as 30 million people are tipped to switch off lights and televisions around the world to help fight climate change with 24 cities joining Earth Hour on March 29, environment group WWF said on Wednesday.

Following last year's Earth Hour in Australia, where 2.2 million Sydneysiders powered-down for an hour, cities including Atlanta, San Francisco, Bangkok, Ottawa, Dublin, Vancouver, Montreal and Phoenix have also signed on, WWF said. They joined Copenhagen and Aarhus, Manila, Fiji's capital Suva, Chicago, Tel Aviv, Christchurch, Toronto, Odense and Aalborg, as well as major Australian cities including Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and the national capital Canberra.

Earth Hour asks residents in participating cities to switch off lights and non-essential electrical items for one hour at 8 p.m. to raise awareness of carbon emissions that scientists blame for causing global warming.

This year iconic buildings to be plunged into darkness would include San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, Chicago's Sears Tower and Soldier Field Stadium football ground, as well as the 553-metre CN Tower in Toronto.

"Climate change is a truly global issue and people around the world are demanding action," he said.

Source: Reuters (Editing by David Fogarty)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tips for the Farmers Market

Yes it's cold, but the hearty farmers and food-sellers at Union Square, Grand Army, you name it, are still outside selling. Here are some things to consider when you're shopping

Arrive Early: before everything's been picked over - if you want the choicest goods

Walk the Place Before Purchasing: I know I get overwhelmed, but as the selection changes every week, depending on the season, and as you should scope out who has the best stuff, take a stroll. Follow the pros - you can spot them.

Ask Questions: Everybody there cares about food, where it comes from, how it was grown, and how to cook it, so ask the farmers and other shoppers.

Think Beyond Produce: there's lots of other things on your list you can get at the market, including milk (in glass bottles which are returnable), cheese, meat, honey, bread, etc.

Bring Cash and Tote bags: For obvious reasons, also, reuse your clear plastic produce bags from last time, so you're not taking new ones each time

Lastly, if you're in NYC, bring your textiles to the Goodwill Van - they will take them and either sell the clothes or turn them into rags (Everyday of the Greenmarket at Union Square, Saturdays at Grand Army)

Source: some common Sense and some Domino Magazine

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sorry Pottery Barn

Put an end to unwanted catalogs, reduce the clutter in your mailbox, while helping save natural resources. was set up to allow customers to choose which catalogs they would like to receive and reducing the number of repeat and unsolicited catalog mailings and to promote the adoption of a sustainable industry. The service is free. Check it out.

Monday, February 18, 2008


In honor of the men (so far) who have governmed this country, and given us this day off, here are some environmentally-friendly accomplishments/activities of our past Presidents...

James Monroe—fifth president, 1758-1831 Monroe loved the outdoors so much, he was the first president to be inaugurated… outdoors.

Theodore Roosevelt—twenty-sixth president, 1901-1909 PETA predecessor Theodore Roosevelt was an avid birder and kept a “small zoo” in his room at Harvard, “consisting of lobsters, snakes, and a huge tortoise.” Perhaps inspired by his reptilian roommates, Roosevelt went on to establish 194 million acres of national forests and parks as well as the first National Bird Preserve. He also established the Forest Service. And a few other trifles like, um, the Grand Canyon National Monument and 17 other national monuments. Often hailed as the conservation president, Teddy was also the first to take a public ride in an electric car.

Woodrow Wilson—twenty-eighth president, 1913-1921 During World War I, Wilson decided he should save money on lawn-upkeep at the White House. His green solution was to bring a flock of sheep in to graze the presidential lawn. Money raised from their wool went to bolster the Red Cross war efforts. He also outlawed dumping anthracite coal and its refuse into streams and established mining regulations on federal lands.

Richard Nixon—thirty-seventh president, 1969-1974 Started the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) -- everybody's gotta get something right. He signed the Endangered Species Act into law, created the 1969 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the 1970 Clean Air Act, the 1972 Clean Water Act, and the 1973 Endangered Species Act.

Bill Clinton—forty-second president, 1993-2001 He created 17 new national monuments (4.6 million acres in total), took a whack at ratifying Kyoto, and declared road building illegal in 60 million acres of national forest.

To see the rest visit Plenty Magazine

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Let's Hear it for the Girl

The EcoMom party has arrived, with its ever-expanding “to do” list that includes preparing waste-free school lunches; lobbying for green building codes; transforming oneself into a “locovore,” eating locally grown food; and remembering not to idle the car when picking up children from school. Part “Hints from Heloise” and part political self-help group, the alliance has 9,000 members across the country, joins a growing subculture dedicated to the “green mom,” with blogs and Web sites like and

Members of the EcoMom Alliance “are fighting a values battle,” said Tim Kasser, an associate professor of psychology at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., and the author of “The High Price of Materialism.” “They are surrounded by materialism trying to figure out how to create a life more oriented toward intrinsic values.”

At last year’s Step It Up rallies, a day of environmental demonstrations across the country, the largest group of organizers were “mothers concerned about the disintegrating environment for their children,” said Bill McKibben, a founder of the event and author of “The End of Nature.”

Women have been instrumental in the environmental movement from the start, including their involvement in campaigns a century ago to save the Palisades along the Hudson River and sequoias in California and, more recently, Lois Gibbs’s fight against toxic waste at Love Canal. In public opinion surveys, women express significantly higher levels of environmental concern than men, said Riley Dunlap, a professor of sociology at Oklahoma State University.

According to surveys for the Boston Consulting Group, women say they “influence or control” 80 percent of discretionary household purchases. Thus far, their thrust has been more about being green consumers than taking political action.

Nice work mom.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Talking in Closed Looped Circles

Nokia this week introduced a concept phone called "Remade," which would be built almost entirely out of recycled materials.

Nokia's CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo unveiled Remade at the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona. The idea is to create mobile phones that cause less of a strain on natural resources, while reducing landfill and increasing energy-efficient production, the company said.

Phones based on the Remade concept would be made out of metals from aluminum cans and plastics from drink bottles. Materials from old car tires would make up the phones' rubber key mats. The phones would also use environment-friendly technologies, including printed electronics and display graphics that save energy, according to Nokia.

Remade is simply a concept for now and not a commercial product, but it demonstrates what can be done using nearly no new materials to build a mobile phone. For those that don't want to wait until the concepts come to fruition, Nokia will offer the 3110 Evolve, a mobile phone that's made from over 50% renewable materials, in the first half of this year. It's also packaged in 60% recycled content and comes with an efficient charger that uses 94% less energy -- but not in the US.

Find out more at

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Electronics Recycling Bill

The Big Apple is a step closer to adopting one of the toughest electronics recycling laws in the nation. The City Council approved a bill that would impose a $100 fine on anyone who throws an old computer, printer or other electronic gadget into the trash. Recycling the electronic waste will become mandatory, and manufacturers will be required to take back their own products as well as those made by companies that have gone out of business. The Council estimated that New Yorkers purchase more than 90,000 tons of electronic products every year. The gadgets contain hazards like lead and mercury, and most end up in the trash. If the new measure becomes law, the city’s voluntary electronics collection and recycling programs would be replaced by a variety of programs designed and run by Sony, Dell and other electronics manufacturers. Those efforts could include curbside pickups, returns by mail and in stores, and neighborhood collections.

NYC would become the first major city in the nation with an electronics recycling law that takes aim at producers. Ten states, including Connecticut and New Jersey, have already adopted similar measures. (New Jersey’s law is not yet in effect.)

Under the proposed law, manufacturers would start collecting electronics for recycling in 2009. Starting in 2010, city residents could be fined $100 if they threw out a piece of electronic equipment. In 2012, manufacturers would have to collect enough discarded electronic equipment to equal 25 percent of the average weight of the goods they sold in the city during the previous three years.

During the first 2 years, manufacturers would only have to accept their own products. But starting in 2011, they would be required to take products from any manufacturer, or face a $2,000 fine for each item they refused to take. For this reason, the mayor is hesitant. “The administration supports ‘e-recycling,’ but the current bill has untested and arbitrary industry performance standards, which we will not support,” said John Gallagher, a spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg, who was traveling. “These standards penalize manufacturers for the actions of customers, which we believe is unconstitutional.”

The mayor was expected to veto the measure, which passed 47-3, but the strong level of support in the Council could lead to an override or to concessions from both sides.

To learn more, go to NYTimes


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Back To The 3 R's

In NRDC's latest e-newsletter, This Green Life, they talk about the 3 r's. It's certainly worth reading. Here are some excerpts:

Consumer product companies are always selling us a new bill of goods. The latest is that we can shop our way to a healthier planet. Over the years, they've also told us that cool cars would make us free and diet soda would make us popular. But there are some things money -- and advertising -- can't buy, and a clean environment is one of them.

It takes resources to manufacture and transport all products, even those made from recycled content. At the very least, energy is spent. And spending resources leaves the world poorer, not better off. Buying nothing is better for the earth than buying green. More often, though, it is greener to follow the old dictum: reduce, reuse, recycle.

Reduce. "Reduce" means using fewer resources in the first place. This is the most effective of the three R's and the place to begin. It is also, I think, the hardest because it requires letting go of some very American notions, including: the bigger the better, new trumps old and convenience is next to godliness. But you don't need to let go completely or all at once. "Reduce" is a comparative word. It says: cut back from where you are now. When you shop, shop differently. Look for things that will last -- things that are not just durable and well-made, but useful and beautiful enough to please you for a long time. Then, maintain it accordingly and repair it when necessary.

Reuse. Before you recycle or dispose of anything, consider whether it has life left in it. A jam jar can store leftovers. Food scraps can become compost. An old shirt can become a pajama top. An opened envelope can become a shopping list. A magazine can be shared. DVDs can be traded. A dishwasher can be repaired. A computer can be upgraded. A car can be resold. A cell phone can be donated. Returnable bottles can be, well... returned. Reusing keeps new resources from being used for a while longer, and old resources from entering the waste stream. It's as important as it is unglamorous. Think about how you can do it more.

Recycle. Recycling is the "R" that has caught on the best. Partly, this is because there are so many curbside recycling programs today (8,660 as of 2006, according to the EPA), which makes recycling easy. Everyplace has rules. Most only take packaging made from #1 (PET or PETE) and #2 (HDPE) resins. You need to look at the bottom of the package for the chasing arrow symbol and check that the number is right. New York City, for instance, accepts #1 and #2 containers with necks, but not wide mouths because the two are formed differently and have different melting points. The wrong kind of plastic can "contaminate" the whole batch, rendering it garbage as far as the company with the recycling contract is concerned.

—Sheryl Eisenberg, NRDC's This Green Life

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

NATIONAL Shout-Out For Brooklyn Green Team!

In today's newsletter of (for which you visit and join the virtual march in the fight against global warming) they included the Brooklyn Green Team! They were inspired by our announcement and YOUR participation in the three-month No Disposable Water Bottle Challenge. Here is what they had to say:

February 12, 2008
Inspired by our friends at Brooklyn Green Team, who are running their own "No Disposable Water Bottle Challenge," we would like to challenge our virtual marchers to give up disposable water bottles. Start with a commitment not to purchase any plastic bottled beverages between now and Earth Day (April 22).Every year, Americans throw away over 22 billion plastic bottles, the majority ending up in landfills. Across the country, only 10 percent of plastic water bottles are recycled, says a report from the New York state Department of Conservation. Bottle production requires millions of barrels of oil, and the bottles create toxic air pollution as they are incinerated with regular trash. As the Brooklyn Green Team puts it, it's time for us all to "kick the disposable lifestyle."

How Exciting! Please email BGT at and write SIGN ME UP! to join the challenge.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Where's the Paper?

Worldwide paper consumption has plateaued worldwide after rising steadily for the past two decades, and the world's richest countries saw a 6 percent decline in paper use between 2000 and 2005. Some folks forecast that a paper-free world is nigh, and trends back up that prediction (Worldwide shipments of personal scanners nearly doubled from 2005 to 2007, and are expected to nearly double again by 2010.) Even ticker tape parades (such as the Giants' last week used much much less paper than in the 1940's. Efficiency is likely driving the trend more than eco-mindedness, but either way its good new for the trees and for us.

Source: Grist, NYTimes

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Calling All Catholics

Two senior Church of England Bishops have called on people to give up carbon rather than chocolate for Lent. They want to drive home the climate change message to churchgoers by encouraging them to cut their energy use.

The Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones and the Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, will make the call before the 40 days of Lent begins on Wednesday February 6. Lent is the time when Christians traditionally give up such things as sweets, chocolate or alcohol in recognition of the 40 days Christ spent fasting in the desert to prepare for his ministry.

This year they will be asked to think about their own carbon footprint and follow a few simple steps designed to help cut CO2 emissions.
They include:
* avoiding plastic bags
* giving the dishwasher a day off
* insulating the hot water tank
* checking the house for drafts with a ribbon and buying draught excluders

Those taking part in the Carbon Fast will be asked to remove one lightbulb from a prominent place in the home and live without it for 40 days. On the final days of the Fast they will be asked to replace it with a low-energy bulb which over its lifetime will save 60kg of carbon dioxide per year and up to £60.

It's estimated that in the UK each person is responsible for 9.5 tons of carbon dioxide per year; in Ethiopia the average is 0.067 tons and in Bangladesh 0.24 The earth can sustain an estimated 0.8 tons per person.

See for yourself at

Source: Telegraph.UK.CO

Monday, February 4, 2008

Ireland Just Says No! (to plastic bags anyhow)

In 2002, Ireland passed a tax on plastic bags; customers who want them must now pay 33 cents per bag at the register. There was an advertising awareness campaign. And then something happened that was bigger than the sum of these parts. Within weeks, plastic bag use dropped 94 percent. Within a year, nearly everyone had bought reusable cloth bags, keeping them in offices and in the backs of cars. Plastic bags were not outlawed, but carrying them became socially unacceptable — on a par with wearing a fur coat or not cleaning up after one’s dog.

In January almost 42 billion plastic bags were used worldwide, according to; the figure increases by more than half a million bags every minute. A vast majority are not reused, ending up as waste — in landfills or as litter. Because plastic bags are light and compressible, they constitute only 2 percent of landfill, but since most are not biodegradable, they will remain there.

In the past few months, several countries have announced plans to eliminate the bags. Bangladesh and some African nations have sought to ban them because they clog fragile sewerage systems, creating a health hazard. Starting this summer, China will prohibit sellers from handing out free plastic shopping bags, but the price they should charge is not specified, and there is little capacity for enforcement. Australia says it wants to end free plastic bags by the end of the year, but has not decided how.

As nations fail to act decisively, some environmentally conscious chains have moved in with their own policies. Whole Foods Market announced in January that its stores would no longer offer disposable plastic bags, using recycled paper or cloth instead, and many chains are starting to charge customers for plastic bags.

Ireland has moved on with the tax concept, proposing similar taxes on customers for A.T.M. receipts and chewing gum. (The sidewalks of Dublin are dotted with old wads.) The gum tax has been avoided for the time being because the chewing gum giant Wrigley agreed to create a public cleanup fund as an alternative. This year, the government plans to ban conventional light bulbs, making only low-energy, long-life fluorescent bulbs available.

Source: NYTimes

Sunday, February 3, 2008


Council Members Peter Vallone Jr., Gale Brewer, Michael McMahon and Speaker Christine Quinn are in attendence as Mayor Bloomberg signs a bill requiring large stores throughout the city to recycle plastic shopping bags. (see earlier post)