Saturday, December 25, 2010

Not much changes in the world of toilet paper design. For the past 50 years or so, it's been a staple: cardboard tube wrapped with toilet tissue. Scott, however, has broken this predictable design and to go tube-free! Think about that...this will diminish a significant amount of waste over the years! More on that here.
While I'm on the subject of toilet issues, I want to take a moment to tout the kitty litter we've been using for several months: Feline Pine scoop. The pine smells nicer to my nose and the kitties' than the scented clay stuff, and it's biodegradable! In the past I have used sWheat scoop and Yesterday's News but was none-too impressed with their clumping abilities. Since I don't scoop every day (I know I should. But I don't.), most biodegradable clumping litters tend to crumble after a day or two. Feline Pine, however, uses guar gum to enhance clumping, and it works very well.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Verdant Packaging

I posted this topic at my personal blog, but it certainly belongs here, too. May I direct your attention to Verdant Packaging?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Real Climate

Interested in climate change, but don't know how to learn more efficiently? Real Climate is a great place to start because they have information gathered for everyone from the very basic beginner to those who already are well informed. I like that there's even a section for "Informed, but seeking serious discussion of common contrarian talking points". The climate scientists are on the figurative war path against skeptics (finally!), and by reading these discussion points, you too can help educate your skeptical friends and family.

In my Quantitative Methods for Environmental Science course, we've begun our study of climate change. I'm really finding it interesting--I knew the basics, but I'm loving delving deeper into the equations and understanding the geophys/chemistry behind it. (Both links above from our professor, Jim Williams)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Plastic, Trash, Animals Dying, and Humans Changing

The TEDx: Great American Garbage Patch was held yesterday in Los Angeles, CA. I wish I could have gone, but am glad that some of the videos are available for everyone (yay, less carbon emissions for travel, too). This is a great one, it hammers in the point about how animals can't tell the difference between plastic and food.

Instead of the usual discarded shell from another crustacean, this little crab is using some human trash as it's protective covering.
We can smile and think "yay, some trash is useful!" or "yay, at least this is glass and metal and will eventually break down unlike plastic," but human trash is everywhere and that is not something to be happy about. An image below shows all the human trash that killed this albatross --and it's not all plastic. Bottlecaps and bits from metal lighters also filled the guts of this unfortunate creature.
Here is another. And here is a great teaching tool in case you are a teacher who wants to get kids involved and learning about this plight.
Not just ocean creatures die from over-ingestion of plastic (strangulation is another common method of death due to plastic). Here is a cow from India, who browses the street for food, filling its several stomachs with plastic until it starves to death.
As surfer Malloy says, "Plastic is made to last forever, but made to use only once." What a horrific irony. As 14 yr old J.D. Russo from Carmel Highschool says, "We have to raise care instead of raising awareness" because there are a large amount of people who now know about the Pacific Plastic Patch, and still have done nothing to change their consumption habits.

What can you do? Go to Plastic Pollution Coalition and sign a pledge to not use single-use plastics. And then, of course, actually follow through with that pledge. Not using plastic is a big deal. Household-wide compliance makes the pledge easier, and consumption habits have to be changed. With the abundance of plastic offered to us at every turn, it takes mindfulness with each purchase to check in... "Does this have plastic that is going straight in the bin? Do I really need it? Is there an alternative that I can buy?". The good news is it can be done! I know several people who have significantly reduced their plastic footprint (yay Pope family!) and I follow (via RSS feeds) several more who are almost completely plastic free. You should follow them too, they're so inspiring: 1. Fake Plastic Fish and 2. the Rubbish Free Guide which started as a blog by a couple who decided to be trash-free for a year. They now maintain this site to help others easily find plastic alternatives.

I really love this in-depth How To on collecting garbage without plastic trash bags. I also love the simple steps you can take in restaurants (we bring our own containers...I thought I would be embarrassed but I've found it to be very easy and empowering, actually).

I have collected many of these links over several months. I hope you are able to benefit from them, and would love to hear if you put anything you learn from them to use in your everyday life. While it's not a fix-all, hearing about little (but meaningful) changes in the lives of others really encourages me to keep working toward a more sustainable future.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

GPS devices in Rhino horns

Ah, a hopefully happy follow up to this post. At least five rhinos in South Africa have been equipped with GPS tracking devices inside their horns in an effort to monitor activity and decrease poaching.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Rhino Poaching up 2000% in the past 3 yrs

image by Andreas Smetana
Thanks to new technologies like night goggles and gun silencers, rhinocerous poachers are succeeding in their efforts now more than ever before. Click here for the whole article. I dread the day when this image becomes truth!

Monday, September 6, 2010

How to Green your Event

These instructions come from the MIIS Club Handbook, but they provide good suggestions for anyone putting on an event. I have altered them only slightly to remove the Club Event-ness of the original. Let me know if some of these suggestions are new to you!


Tips and resources to help make your event more environmentally friendly

In order to promote sustainability, where possible, all events should serve at least 50% plant-based food items. These are low on the food chain and require much fewer resources than animal-based food items. We also recommend that food be locally grown, organic, and minimally processed to promote more efficient resource use.


Make sure that event attendees have easy access to trash cans and recycling bins.


Your guests can easily bring a cup to your event as well. Not only will your event then produce less waste, but you will also save money by not purchasing disposable cups. Plus, everyone will know which glass is theirs.


Don‟t forget to turn off any lights or electronic equipment once you are done using them.


Some ideas for food items that meet the 50/50 criteria include:

Hummus and babaganoush spreads with crackers, pita, or bread

Snacks such as fruit, nuts, chips, salsa, and guacamole

Vegetable sushi rolls

Veggie burgers

Vegetable soups and chili without a cream base

Vegetable stir fries

Vegan salads such as pasta and bean salads

Vegetarian sandwich fixings, including baked tofu, avocadoes, cucumbers, and tomatoes

Vegetable or lentil curries


No need to go out and buy plastic plates and styrofoam cups for your event. Instead, purchase biodegradable servingware and reduce the amount of trash your event produces. For small events, check out Whole Food's selection of biodegradable servingware. For larger events, search for a green servingware provider, preferably local.