For the month of February, we’re partnering with Ucan to give away two modern composting bins. Not only are they stylish, they make composting easy. The bins are designed for durability and have a convenient hidden handle. There’s also a special ventalition system to cut down on odors. Two randomly selected winners will receive a Ucan Untrash can and a box of compostable garbage bags – each worth a total of $35. Look below for all the ways to enter to win. Entries will be received through February 29, 2012.
Are you someone who savors that morning cup of coffee? Do you enjoy the smell and taste of a freshly brewed pot? You’ll enjoy it even more if you Do Your Part to seek out fair trade and organic coffees. And since October is Fair Trade Month, it’s the perfect time to talk about why it’s critical to seek out coffees that are cultivated with the planet and people in mind.
The Fair Trade label is an important one. It certifies that the people working to produce your coffee are paid a fair price and are working in good conditions. Since many coffee producers are small scale organizations in poorer countries, the Fair Trade program works to connect them directly to coffee importers around the world. This allows the producers to foster long lasting relationships that will help sustain their coffee businesses and improve their communities.
Seeking out organic coffees is another important decision. Look for the USDA organic seal and you’ll know that your coffee beans were grown without pesticides that can pollute our land and water. This also means the farmers working that land and the people living in the surrounding communities won’t come into contact with those toxic chemicals, either.
There’s another thing to look for when shopping for the best beans. If you can, seek out shade-grown coffees. This means the valuable land used to grow the coffee wasn’t clear cut which allows the natural habitat for birds and other animals remains intact.
So what if you don’t brew your own and instead go to a coffee shop to get that morning jolt? There are still plenty of ways to Do Your Part on the go. First, ask where the beans they use come from and how the crops were cultivated. Next, bring your own coffee mug instead of using a paper coffee cup. Many coffee spots will offer you a deal to bring in one of your own. Starbucks and Peet’s offer .10 off each time you do.
Many times, coffee shops will also give away their coffee grounds for free. Those grounds are rich in nitrogen which means it’s an effective addition to any compost pile. That compost pile will eventually become free fertilizer for your lawn and garden. Straight coffee grounds are also good food for acid-loving plants such as azaleas, roses, and hydrangeas.
Something as small as your morning cup of coffee can actually make a big impact on our environment. Do Your Part as you enjoy your next cup of joe knowing that you picked the perfect blend for you and the planet.
September 8, 2011
Nine WalMart stores in Florida will be the latest to recycle inedible fruit, vegetables and baked goods. The food waste will be taken to the commercial food waste recycler Organic Matters where it will be processed for use in animal food. The food waste will be collected by Quest Recycling which already collects food for recycling from more than 3,000 WalMart stores nationwide. The company only collects food that would otherwise be trucked to a landfill. Any food suitable for consumption is donated to food banks through the Feeding America program. For the remaining waste, WalMart follows the EPA’s food waste hierarchy to create animal feed, energy or compost from expired food and other organic products.
WalMart says its partnership with Quest to divert food waste helped the retailer divert more than 80 percent of the waste sent to landfills in California. The company says its comprehensive waste reduction program is now being implemented across WalMart’s 4,400 stores, Sam’s Club locations and distribution centers. The company says if all stores were able to divert 80 percent of landfill waste, it would be the equivalent of taking more than 2 million cars off the road every year.
Expanding the recycled food waste program brings the world’s largest retailer closer to its goal of creating zero waste. The company is also recycling cardboard, paper, aluminum, plastic bags and other items through the Super Sandwich Bale program.
August 18, 2011
It’s the superbowl of recycling competitions. Schools across America are competing to see who can collect and recycle the most. Recycle-Bowl is sponsored by Keep America Beautiful, the non-profit agency that engages public and private organizations to take greater responsibility for improving their environments. Recycle-Bowl is the first-ever nationwide recycling competition for elementary, middle and high school students. The goal is to help students learn about waste reduction and environmental responsibility in a fun and interactive way.
Schools that compete in the Recycle-Bowl will receive a ‘playbook’ which provides teachers with recycling and educational resources including Clean Sweep U.S.A., an educational website designed to supplement environmental education curriculum. The site has online comic books with lessons about litter prevention, waste reduction, recycling and composting.
The in-school recycling competition begins in October and will run for four weeks. Schools will track and report how much recyclable material they collect. The school in each state that collects the most recyclables will receive a 1,000 dollar prize. A national champion will be chosen among the statewide leaders and will receive an additional grand prize of 2,500 dollars.
August 3, 2011
More than 400 homeowners in Madison, Wisconsin are looking at their garbage in a whole new way. They are part of a composting pilot program to test the possibility of citywide organic collection. Homeowners in the program are each given a kitchen container and compostable bag to collect organic waste and an outside bin to put the waste in for collection each week. The goal of the experimental project is to compost items normally put in the trash and use the compost to add nutrients to soil. The Wisconsin State Journal reports in the month of July, more than 21 tons of organic waste was collected for composting and diverted from the landfill. The city is accepting most food scraps including fruits, vegetables, meat, fish and bones. Houseplants and weeds are also accepted along with compostable materials like paper towels, paper plates or any other paper product too contaminated to be recycled.
Several other cities already offer compost collection programs. San Fransisco created the first large scale urban collection of food scraps for composting in the country. Hundreds of thousands of residents and over 5,000 restaurants and businesses have diverted more than 600 tons of waste from the landfill. The compost is sent to the Recology composting facility which turns to food scraps and plant trimmings into nutrient-rich soil. The soil is used to produce organic food and wine in the San Fransisco area.
A compost pilot program in Denver, Colorado was so successful last year that the city is continuing it as a fee-based service. Participants receive a 65 gallon cart to collect food scraps and yard trimmings. The organic material is turned to compost and later sold to farmers and landscapers.
We’re all looking for ways to eat better while enjoying good times with family and friends. So, we’re serving up a menu of delicious ideas. Feel free to sample responsible restaurants, buy better beer and wine, or even get inspiration on how to green your grilling routine.
Sustainable Seafood Guides
• US Department of Agriculture: Produce
• Pick-Your-Own Farms
• Certified Organic Community
• Community Supported Agriculture
• American Community Gardening Association
• Sustainable Foods
• Organic Gardening
Beer and Wine
Green Party Rentals
July 14, 2011
The idea of living waste-free may sound impossible but more families across America are giving it a shot. In Austin, Texas, the challenge has turned into a reality TV show for four families. The local series is produced by the city’s waste management program and follows four families as they try to reduce their waste to zero in five weeks. Each week in the Dare to Go Zero challenge, each family has to weigh the trash they produce. The family with the highest percentage of waste loss wins a home improvement package. The city of Austin is practicing what it preaches. In 2009, the city adopted a Zero Waste Plan with a goal of sending zero waste to landfills by the year 2040. The plan includes encouraging and educating residents about composting, recycling, reusing and reducing.
In California, the Johnson family is taking waste-free to the extreme. The family of four was able to fit their waste from an entire year into one small box. The family started a website, The Zero Waste Home, with daily blogs and tips on going waste-free. The Johnson’s say before even thinking about reducing or reusing, families must first refuse, cut down on consumption and clutter. They even say recycling should only be done as a last resort.
A family in New York City challenge themselves to not only live waste-free, but without any environmental impact at all. For one year, Colin Beaven and his family unplugged from the electrical grid, traveled only by bike or foot and bought nothing except for food. Beaven calls it the No Impact Project and challenges others to take a one-week “carbon cleanse” by reducing their environmental impact in their daily lives.
While recycling rates in the U.S. have skyrocketed from 6 percent in 1960 to 33 percent in 2009 the average American still produces about four and a half pounds of trash each day.
May 3, 2011
Did you know that about 30 percent of your waste is organic material that can be composted? That’s a lot of valuable waste that could be going into a garden and staying out of a landfill. This week marks the 13th annual International Compost Awareness Week aimed at educating the public about the benefits of composting. Composting is an inexpensive, natural process that transforms your kitchen and yard waste into nutrient rich food for your garden. Keeping organic waste out of the landfill is also important because waste that is not exposed to air breaks down into methane gas which damages the Earth’s atmosphere. It’s estimated only 8 percent of Americans compost their waste, including cities where it is required like San Francisco and Seattle. Cities and states across the U.S. are hosting events to spread the word and celebrate composting awareness week. There is even a Facebook page dedicated to the week with information, giveaways and details about nationwide events. If you have never composted before and are interested in getting started, it’s easy. Watch this DoYourPart video to find out how to get started. The Environmental Protection Agency also provides simple compost information including a list of what can and cannot be composted.
Nearly 97 percent of America’s food waste ends up in landfills. A start-up technology company wants to change that and plans to take food and yard waste and turn it into methane, which can be sold as fuel. Harvest Power just raised more than $50 million to help ramp up efforts to produce renewable fuel. Investors include a firm co-founded by Al Gore. The company is in the process of building two large anaerobic digestion facilities which turn organic material into biogas. The biogas is then converted into energy like natural gas or electricity. In 2008, Harvest Power built what it calls North America’s first commercial-scale anaerobic digestion site near Vancouver, British Columbia. The facility is able to process 30,000 tons of food waste every year. Company officials say they are on track to fundamentally change the way waste is managed around the world. Forbes reports a handful of cities including San Fransisco, require residents to separate food waste from other garbage. The city law passed in 2009 was the first of its kind in the U.S. The city provides residents with sealed compost bins for the food waste which is picked up every week. Harvest Power expects more cities to adopt such policies which would create business and divert waste from landfills.
March 14, 2011
Green products company Seventh Generation is launching a first-of-its-kind paper detergent bottle. Seventh Generation’s new 4x concentrated laundry detergent will be sold in a bottle made of a cardboard shell. The shell is made from 70 percent recycled cardboard and 30 percent recycled newspaper molded into a rigid shape. Inside the shell is a plastic pouch with the detergent inside. When the bottle is empty you can take off the cap, pop off the shell, take out the liner and and recycle all three. The recycled shell can even be put in a compost pile. The detergent itself is twice as concentrated as the company’s 2X formula and doubles the savings of water and energy from transportation. The detergent in the space saving bottle will clean about 66 loads of laundry. Seventh Generation says the new bottle uses 66 percent less plastic than typical 100 ounce 2X detergent bottles. About one-fourth of the new concentrated detergents will come in the paper bottle initially and will hit store shelves later this month.