There's a lot of online chatter about sustainability, but how do you know what's legitimate and what's "greenwashing?" Join the conversation here and share your expertise.
Here is our roundup of the best paper and sustainability Tweets this week. Enjoy!
Venezuela toilet paper shortage sends ordinary lives around the bend gu.com/p/3g3my/tw
— Guardian World (@guardianworld) May 23, 2013
15 stunning and imaginative paper art creations: shutr.bz/16PzZbX
— Shutterstock (@Shutterstock) May 23, 2013
— City of Rochester NY (@CityRochesterNY) May 23, 2013
— Kemira Group (@KemiraGroup) May 16, 2013
— Sustainable Business (@GuardianSustBiz) May 23, 2013
— Earth911.com (@Earth911) March 20, 2013
image via: Country Living
As you plan your upcoming summer entertaining (grilling for Memorial Weekend, anyone?) consider consulting your recycling bin in addition to your recipe collection. You may not even realize all the materials that can multitask as part of your party. From decorations to ambiance and table settings, we’ve compiled some great ways to green your next summer party. Try a few of these options, and your guests will be entertained both by your meal and your environmentally savvy recycle-style.
You can green your summer party before it even starts by purchasing invitation cards made from recycled paper. With a plethora of attractive options now available in recycled materials, your guests will be inspired by both the thoughtfulness of your invite and the invitation itself. For 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper options, check out Paper Culture’s selection. For printing that makes a difference, Print for Change donates 50 percent of its profits to feeding children in Haiti.
Plates and Flatware
There have been chic design advances in non-breakable, casual dinner and flatware like melamine. You can also assemble fun, mismatched dining pieces from extras in your cabinet combined with like-colored items from local thrift stores or garage sales. Unfortunately, used paper plates and napkins are still non-recyclables due to the food and grease contaminants attached to them, so using washable dishes and cutlery along with cloth napkins and table coverings are still the best way to reduce waste at the table.
Food and Drinks
Of course we know you have your favorite outdoor grilling recipes already ready to go. But, as you select food for your event, consider buying from local farmers and shops. You may even be surprised how much better locally raised, free-range meat tastes with your old-faithful recipes and marinades. For beverages, look for wineries in your area that allow you to bring your own bottles for filling or local breweries that will take back used bottles for recycling or reuse when you’re done.
When the meal is complete, consider directing guests to a compost bin for leftover food scraps or other compostable party items. It may even provide a great topic of conversation for guests who enjoy gardening or are considering composting on their own.
Repurpose old wine and beer bottles before you commit them to your recycling. Paint them in your party theme’s colors and use them as vases and centerpieces for your tables. For other DIY green party decorations, Design Sponge created this handy idea guide that uses items you already own like magazines and office supplies.
And, don’t forget about trash, foodwaste and recycling signs for your receptacles. Feel free to paint or sketch them in your party’s theme colors on old cardboard you were planning to recycle anyway.
There are beautiful and conversation-worthy upgrades to garden and patio lighting that both adults and children will love. Look into solar-powered options that will power themselves once set up, so you can amp up the party atmosphere but not your electric bill. For example, these solar-powered LED Firefly Magic Firefly Lights were developed by an inventor in North Texas. They’re so lifelike, in fact, they’re even being used in zoos, nature centers, museums and university field research to trick actual fireflies!
Image via FireFlyMagic.com
We hope you enjoy your parties this summer season and that these tips help you and your friends, family and neighbors make choices to dine outdoors in style with eco-responsibility in mind.
Have tips of your own? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below.
Have a great party!
GreenBiz took a look inside David Steiner’s waste-to-gold project. Steiner, the president and CEO of Waste Management, believes that his company should try to get as much value out of the waste and materials generated by the organization’s customers before they enter the landfill. He established this vision in 2008, quoting a potential market value of $10+ billion. Five years later, change has been difficult and progressed slowly. The company has made progress toward his goal of extracting value from collected waste; however, it is still far off from what Steiner calls “the garbage-to-gold stuff.” Future projections include many in vitro laboratory conversion technologies that would allow waste, such as plastic, to be converted into necessary resources like oil.
Dr. Karen Higgins, professor and author of recently published book, Financial Whirlpools: A Systems Story of the Great Global Recession, addresses the need for a new mindset to strike a balance between economic growth and sustainability. She argues that our present-day recognition of our dependence on the earth’s resources doesn’t recognize the connection between the economy and the earth. Although the benefits of economic growth are many, Higgins says if unchecked, they can be a counterbalancing force in the long term to the health of the earth and environment. To address the paradox between economic growth and sustainability, we must balance the two by developing alternative energy sources and maintain a steadier, stable economy.
China’s “Green Fence” crackdown on dirty scrap materials has reduced the import of plastic waste by 5.5% in the first four months of the year. While that drop may sound small, it is a major change in direction for an industry that has seen scrap polymer imports grow four-fold in the last decade and was accustomed to nothing but increasing volumes. Chinese government officials say they are trying to limit pollution from dirty or contaminated waste materials and see the policy as a way to force local industries to upgrade to higher, cleaner standards.
Nestlé Waters, manufacturer of Arrowhead brand bottled water, has committed to using 50 percent recycled content in its water bottles. The bottle’s shape will require 15 percent less energy to produce and will be made with 50 percent recycled polyethylene terephathalate (PET). PET plastics can be used indefinitely, and the best value is to restore the recycled material to high-grade product. Nestle CEO Kim Jeffrey said, “It improves our carbon footprint whenever we can make a more renewable product. We would encourage the food and beverage industry to used recycled PET in their bottles.”
Hi everyone, happy Friday! As the week rounds out, we like to take a round up of the best paper and sustainablity tweets from the past few days. Enjoy!
— PlanetGreen.com (@PlanetGreen) May 10, 2013
— UNEP (@UNEP) May 16, 2013
— GOOD(@GOOD) May 10, 2013
how modern recycling was born from “the most watched load of garbage in the memory of man” nytimes.com/2013/05/06/boo…
— Ana Andjelic (@andjelicaaa) May 6, 2013
— Elsevier (@ElsevierConnect) May 16, 2013
— Sustainable Business (@GuardianSustBiz) May 10, 2013
The Jakarta Green Project: Street children leading the recycling revolution ow.ly/kJqlH
— (ak.’sa.ra) (@Aksara_Store) May 6, 2013
Pedals are springing up everywhere – it’s National Bike to Work Week!
Already the commuter method of choice for people in many cities across the United States, bicycle commuting is a great way to clear your mind and feel more focused as you begin your workday. This week, May 13-17 is Bike to Work Week, providing a great opportunity to give it a try. It’s a healthy, energizing alternative to driving, and there are many designated lanes and routes to help new bicycle commuters safely and easily give it a go.
It’s also a great way to squeeze regular exercise into a hectic schedule. According to The League of American Bicyclists, a 180-pound man on a 10-mile round trip bike commute burns 400 calories, and a 130-pound woman burns 300 calories on the same commute. Imagine what that could do for the health of you and your coworkers over the course of the week!
Don’t have a bike? Try a shorter one-time commitment to bike on Friday, which is Bike to Work Day. You could have an old bike fixed up or borrow one from a friend for the day. Many cities even have bike-sharing programs.
Then, to get started on your way, check your city’s website for a map of lanes and paths to help you map your route to work.
Already a biker? Encourage your office coworkers to give it a try. The League of American Bicyclists has a handy how-to guide available here.
Here at CHOICES, we have our own dedicated bike commuters this week and in the summer season. One such commuter is Mike Ochsner, who regularly bikes to work.
“I think biking to work is a nice way to get some good exercise that fits nicely with my work schedule,” Ochsner (pictured center) said. “I am fortunate because there are good bike trails that lead to my office and virtually no traffic issues.”
For Howard Lortz and Dale Young, it’s a nice opportunity to get to know other coworker bike enthusiasts. Young (pictured left) and Lortz (pictured right) enjoy logging miles biked with coworkers after the workday ends.
“Riding to and from work is a great way to get the day started,” Young said. “And when the weather is nice, we ride as a group for about 20 miles after work.”
Lortz added, “We even have some office rides on the weekends, where we will ride 50 to 100 miles on a Saturday.”
But remember, bike safety is important. Please be sure to wear a helmet, use hand signals and ride safely! Review these Rules of the Road for other safety tips.
Get spinning! Let us know how many of you and your coworkers take advantage of this year’s Bike to Work Week or Bike to Work Day. We’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below.