May Green Tip

By now you probably know that eating more veggies, fruits and grains, while at the same time reducing your intake of meat, poultry, seafood, eggs and dairy is a more sustainable and healthy way to live on our fragile planet. There is no better time to begin your healthier lifestyle than during the summer months which are fast approaching. There are more farmers markets now than ever before, as more and more of us are demanding locally-grown fruits and vegetables. If you grow your own, that’s even better. Or both!

Just know that when you purchase supermarket produce that has been shipped in from faraway places you are buying food with a high carbon footprint. Consider buying or growing (organic!!) your favorite veggies in bulk and putting them up in the freezer or canning for use throughout the winter….better for you and better for the Earth.

April Green Tip

There are many reasons for not wasting food. In 2009 in the US we wasted more than one quarter of the food available for consumption. It mostly ended up in landfills creating methane emissions. And did you know that methane traps 25 times more heat per molecule than CO2, thereby contributing that much more to global warming? According to the EPA, food waste is now the largest component of municipal solid waste. What can you do?

Compost!

You place your food waste in a bin and let it magically turn itself into rich soil. Unlike the anaerobic process of decomposition in a landfill, composting is aerobic — it uses oxygen and doesn’t re­lease methane.  You don’t have to be a gardener either; anyone can do it.  It’s the best strategy we have for keeping food out of the waste stream. If this is new to you, here is a helpful link to get you started: Composting for Dummies. Have fun!

March Green Tip

Recommendations From
The Sustainable Living Committee

It was about one year ago that we published a green tip on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs, also referred to as Genetic Engineering or GE), briefly explaining what they are and why we should be worried.  Folks, in our opinion, this technology is threatening our planet in many ways. This is not the same as hybridiza­tion. It is the forcing of DNA from one organism into another using viruses or bacteria to “infect” animal or plant cells with the new DNA. The Food and Drug Administration says these GM foods are safe, but they can’t back up their claim — no feeding studies on humans were done.  So what are the problems?  They are many.  Various feeding studies in animals have resulted in pre-cancerous cell growth, damaged immune systems, smaller brains, livers and testicles, partial atrophy, higher death rates.  There is also a huge environmental impact, for one, the excessive use of Roundup on crops.  This is only the “tip of the iceberg.”  To learn more, go to http:// www.responsibletechnology.org/

What can you do?  Here are four simple tips to help you avoid GMOs: Hands and Seedling

1. Buy organic

2. Look for “Non-GMO” labels.  (Labeling is not required, so we love those companies who have joined the Non-GMO Project, a non-profit organization committed to GMO avoidance.)

3. Avoid “at-risk” ingredients.  The eight GM food crops are corn, soybeans, canola, cottonseed, sugar beets, most Hawaiian papaya, and a small amount of zucchini and yellow squash. About 85% of processed foods containing these ingredients are genetically modified.  Dairy is also to be avoided if it does not contain the “No rBGH” or “No artificial hormones.”

Download the Institute for Responsible Technology’s Non-GMO Shopping Guide. There is currently a campaign to create a bill requiring labeling in CT. The more people who write their elected officials the better, because Monsanto will spend huge amounts of money trying to stop it.  Hand-written letters via the USPS are much more effective than email.  Your letter can be short.  Make it personal; ask them to support a GMO labeling bill. We have a right to know what is in our food!  Website to find your local officials:  http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/cgafindleg.asp

February Green Tip

Hands and SeedlingDoes your family seem to go through a lot of rolls of toilet tissue? If so, you may have wondered what you can do with them besides putting them in the recycling bin. Here’s an idea for those of you who garden: Turn those tubes into seed starting pots. You can also use paper towel rolls cut into thirds for this. Simply cut 4 equally spaced slits in one end so that you end up with four tabs. Fold them over, and with luck you can tuck the last one in to hold them snug. A dab of glue will also work to hold that last tab. Now you have a little container that you can fill with dirt, add seeds and watch them grow. Use a marker to label what you’ve planted. When it’s time to plant, just pop them in the garden soil, opening up the bottom a bit to let the roots expand. For a more complete pictorial explanation, plus some other ideas, go to http:// thegreendivas.com/2013/01/10/green-diva-mizars-easy-diy-clever-re-use-of-toilet-paper-rolls/

While we’re on the gardening topic, we’re looking for people who like to garden. There’s lots to be done in Hal’s Garden come April. Let the RE program or anyone on the Sustainable Living Committee to volunteer.

January Green Tip

Recycle CardsWe have done these tips for so long, we are now recycling them (pun intended.)

Recycle your Holiday Cards

This is a good time for recycling your holiday cards.  There is a program operated by “Kids’ Corp,” a program for the children at St. Jude’s Ranch.  They accept all types of greeting cards year round.  It won’t cost you much if you use the USPS flat-rate box or envelope, and you will be recycling as well as helping the children learn entrepreneurship!  You can also purchase packets of 10 cards for $10.00.  This from their web site – http://www.stjudesranch.org/shop/recycled-card-program/We currently have an increased need for both Birthday and Thank You card submissions.  Please note:  *Only the card front can be used (please check to be sure the backside of the front of the card is clear of any writing, etc.)   *We can-not accept Hallmark, Disney or American Greeting cards. *Send your request and donation to:  St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, ATTN: Donor Office, P.O. Box 60100, Boulder City, NV 89006-0100.

December Green Tip

According to the UCC (Union of Concerned Scientists,) between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, we generate 25 percent more landfill waste than during the rest of the year and buy enough greeting cards to fill a football stadium 10 stories high! We have given you green tips in previous years about greening up your holidays, so we won’t deluge you with all of them again.

Just a few:

  • BYOB: Bring your own tote bag to carry gifts, avoiding the waste of paper and plastic bags.
  • Creative gift wrapping: If each American household wrapped three gifts in reused materials, enough paper would be saved to cover 45,000 football fields! Reuse old wrapping paper, gift bags or boxes, and Sunday comics, or make cloth bags in which to present your gifts.
  • Gift certificates: Offer to do yard work, shovel snow, babysit, walk the dog, or cook dinner.
  •  Donations: Make a donation in someone’s name to a charity he or she would appreciate.

November Green Tip

Recycle Your E-Waste!

Electronic waste or “e-waste,” is the fastest growing portion of the American waste stream, rising at rates around 8 percent a year. When released into the environment, the chemicals that make up cell phones, PDAs (personal digital assistants,) televisions, and other electronics can cause severe harm to humans and animals, as well as long-term damage to the environment. Many towns here in Connecticut are making it easier to recycle our e-waste. For example, here in Manchester the Transfer Station on Olcott Street hosts a permanent electronics recycling program to all town residents at no charge. Authorized by the CT Department of Environmental Protection’s E-Waste Recycling regulations, this program allows us to recycle electronics during the normal business hours of the Transfer Station. Check the website for your town and find out how you can safely recycle these items. If you live in Manchester go to http://publicworks.townofmanchester.org/Sanitation/ElectronicsRecycling.cfm. Here you will find a list of approved items, hours of operation, and other important information. Also, the State Department of Environmental Protection website has a lot of good information and tips: http://www.ct.gov/dep/site/default.asp

September Green Tip

The Sustainable Living Committee is intrigued with the ideas presented by Doug Pease at the Sunday service on August 12. Climate change has been proven beyond a doubt, and we must come up with creative ways to mitigate the greenhouse gases.  In addition to all the things you are surely doing already – eating a plant-based diet, buying organic, buying locally-grown produce, driving less, using less electricity, etc. etc. – let’s take a look at Doug’s idea. He searched for a charity that would supply solar to people in areas where the sun shines a lot but the people can’t afford to install.  He found a bona fide charity that does just that.  He located it via the “Skeptical Science” website.  They make solar cookers for Tibetans to offset wood use. So when you donate to them you are removing carbon from the atmosphere as surely as if you ditched your car!  Another charity Doug found is called “Mosaic Solar” which has a different approach but equally effective.  Doug will be giving us more information in upcoming newsletters, so think seriously about giving your chari­table donations to one of these groups that are taking real positive steps to reduce global warming.

August Green Tip

Printing in a Greener Shade. The contents of printer cartridges are mostly petroleum-based, require a lot of energy to produce, and contain harmful chemicals. Only 30 percent are recycled or refurbished; the rest—about 375 million each year—are tossed into landfills. What’s worse, research shows that ink car­tridges may still contain up to 60 percent of their ink when a printer declares them empty, wasting money and contributing to groundwater and soil pollution. You can minimize your impact with these printing strategies:

  • Use low-ink fonts. Thicker, “heavier” fonts (e.g., Franklin Gothic, Helvetica) use more ink than thinner, “lighter” ones (e.g., Garamond, Courier).
  • Try ink-saving tools. You can download fonts that leave tiny holes in printed characters instead of filling them in with ink, and programs that let you edit unwanted text and pictures before print­ing.
  • Use ink-saving printer settings. Most printers have a “draft” or “economy” mode that uses less ink by making the print lighter.
  • Choose soy-based inks when possible. These spread 15 percent farther, meaning less ink is needed. They also release fewer VOCs, require less energy to manufacture, and are easier to strip from paper during recycling.

 

 Recycle cartridges. Manufacturing a new ink cartridge requires two to five ounces of oil, and a toner cartridge requires more than a gallon, but both can be recycled about six times. We have our own recycling program here at UUS:E which also earns money for our operating fund.  Put your used cartridges in a plastic bag and place in the collection box in the lobby.

June Green Tip

Most of us by now have replaced our incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs.)  LEDs (light-emitting diodes) are a better option, but until the prices become more affordable most of us will be using CFLs. A frequently-asked question is, “How can CFLs be ‘environmentally friendly’ if they contain mercury?”  Well, they do, in fact, use a small amount of mercury – about five milligrams – to generate light.  But this pales in comparison with the amount produced by the largest source of U.S. mercury emis­sions: the coal-burning power plants that produce 52 percent of our nation’s power.  The typical coal-powered plant emits 13.6 milligrams of mercury to power one incandescent bulb, but only 3.3 mg for a CFL.  The reduction in mercury emissions achieved by burning less coal exceeds the five milligrams of mercury in­side a CFL. And unlike coal-fired power plants, which emit mercury directly into the atmosphere (where it most affects our health,) the mercury in CFLs can be contained as long as you dispose of them properly. 

All fluorescent bulbs are considered hazardous waste and should be handled according to local regula­tions. You can take them to your town’s hazardous-waste collection or take them to any Home Depot.   (Their collection box is typically somewhere near the customer service desk — just ask.)  If you should break a CFL there are steps you should take to protect yourself.  Even though it is a small amount of mercury you do not want unnecessary exposure. Don’t vacuum it.  Using disposable gloves wipe it up with a damp paper towel and put everything in a zip-lock. Dispose as hazardous waste, not regular trash. You will find more de­tailed cleanup instructions at http://www.epa.gov/cfl/cflcleanup.html