Saturday, December 3, 2016

greener holidays

Green Celebrations - Part 1

Tis the season... so they say. 

Late November - January brings a myriad of church and school events, fundraisers, theater and choir productions, meetings, gatherings, parties, live music events, meals, gifts... This all adds up to creating more than 25% waste than any other time of the year. 25%. 

To put this 25% number in your mind visually - imagine your own residential garbage output for pick-up day. When garbage pick up day comes around for us, we put out an average of 1/3 of a black garbage bag. Sometimes more, sometimes less - depending on the projects we are doing around the home or property, but that is our average... 1/3 of a bag. 25% more would equate to about 3/4 of a bag. Some of our neighbors put out 2 bags on average... so their increase would look like 2.5 bags. Add that up, household by household; apartment by apartment, down one side of your block and you can start to mentally picture just how much more residential garbage is produced during the holidays. Do that for hotels, conference rooms, halls, theaters, restaurants... you get the idea. It's a mountain of waste. 

We have a couple of great sections in our Trash Talk book series (2 books - see links in this series of articles or visit the links on the left-hand sidebar) that can help you with saving money and reducing waste. 

I'm going to offer some excerpts from the book in a series of possibly 4 articles (not sure how many just yet) between now and a week or so before the holidays end. Today I just want to talk about why it is important to look at this simple change. 

So let's go back to the 25% number for a second. 

Back in 2010, the amount of waste America generated increased by around 25 million extra tons of garbage heading to the landfill. This is not including what they recycled, only what went to the landfill. I'm sure numbers are similar in the UK and Canada and other such places as well. 

Any one thing we decide to improve can be applied to ANY event from birthdays to business meetings, which is kind of exciting because it is a residual thing. Once you've got one thing going as a habit or policy, it becomes exciting to include something else. Even more inspiring is that the people who attend and are made aware of the greener events, they aspire to do the same. I mention this because so many people think - "what possible impact can my one little action at this one event have?". Studies show that it has a huge impact that has a ripple effect and grows. 

OK so now we understand that there is a lot more garbage, a lot more recycling during the holidays and that our seemingly little effort can be a catalyst for great change. 

There are so many options that people can sometimes become a little overwhelmed, so let's start with some basics.

- Change all the lighting options to LED

- If you are using disposable dishware, use ones made from recycled materials or those that are compostable. 

- Keep a series of recepticals with lids that are well marked in several places throughout the area people will be using. How many recepticals you need will depend on many factors from the types of waste you expect to generate to how many people are expected. For example you might have one for garbage, one for compostable items, 2 or more for recyclables (paper/glass/plastic/etc) and one for returnables (bottles/cans/juiceboxes). Have a compost bin in the kitchen area as well near the dishwasher area is also a good place to put one. 

- Purchase food and drink items from as locally sourced places as possible, choosing organic where you can. 

- Hire local musicians, servers, reception halls... basically - stay local as possible. 

- Encourage car pooling or other eco-friendly options.

- Add a social responsibility aspect to the event. i.e. have a collection site for the food bank, have a jar out for donations to any local charitable organization, run a fundraiser silent auction. Donate the money raised from the returnable bottles and cans to your cause.

Ok, so those are the basics. Here's one more tip you may want to consider for those that want to supply gifts or prizes to their guests. Instead of giving wrapped gifts or door prizes - consider offering gift certificates to local entrepreneurs. 

Some ideas might be:

- housecleaning
- babysitting
- lawn care
- tickets to a play/theater/performance
- restaurants / delis / butcher shops
- bookings or lessons; i.e. drum lessons or yoga class
- bike rental 
- classes or courses 
- guided tours
- businesses (clothing, grocery, book stores, etc.)
And one other option to consider today is gift baskets. You might find someone who supplies these as a business, but if not it is easy to do yourself. All you need is a simple medium sized basket that you fill with locally produced foods - such as specialty jams, wine, cider, chocolates, cheese, bakery items etc. 

Having a "green" event is all the rage these days, people respect them, and they will aspire to replicate it. By doing so you are improving the local economy, reducing waste and pressure on the recycling system, while offering an alternative where the gift recipient or guest enjoys a unique experience. 

Alright that is it for now, but expect a few more articles - including one offering green gift ideas (for those who want to give a physical gift). 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Quote of the Day

-- Quote of the Day -- 


"Sometimes it's important to work for that pot of gold. 
But other times it's essential to take time off 
and to make sure that your most important decision in the day 
simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow."

 ~Douglas Pagels; These Are the Gifts I'd Like to Give to You

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Positive News

-- Positive News -- 

Interesting – I read recently that the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic games are going to focus on sustainability – right down to the gold, silver and bronze medals that they plan on making from recycled metals that are “minded” from electronic, xray, digital and electric items.

In doing so, they are preventing toxic material from being released when electronics break down in landfills. They are also preventing more mercury from being used – since it often takes mercury to make metal from raw ore.

Now, one might imagine in their minds the size of a medal and think, what possible change could this make? 

Well, when one considers that on average these events (combined) give out something like 4000 medals… the concept of changing this one thing becomes quite the endeavor.

While other events have included some percentage of recycled materials and sustainability policies, this one promises to set the bar like no other sport event to date. 

It will be interesting to see what else the world will witness during this upcoming 2020 olympic and paralympic season. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

recommended resources

-- Recommended Resources -- 

I really enjoy sharing resources, links, networking opportunities here in this section for anyone interested in having a positive impact with their time on this earth. Lately, I've been studiously going through the thousands of lectures put out by the TED institute's participants. It's a popular site. I look at it as free education, but more on the enlightening, inspiring, awe-striking knowledge and possibilities for our future. There are a surprising number of online educational and inspiring sites like this. It is exciting to see how much work is being done to create a better world. We can do our part by sharing the info we enjoy. So - why don't you help me by spreading the word about this blog, or sharing links to specific posts you enjoy? Or leave a comment, question or invitation for networking on the wide array of topics our blog offers. Perhaps you have an article, resources you'd like to share, or quotes that have inspired you. Maybe you are a poet. If so I'd love to hear from you and would definitely consider publishing it here on this blog to help you reach out to more people. But readers need to do their part too, by sharing / liking our blog - or starting a topic on something they've learned of / were reminded of. 

Today's theme of all three of these talks below: The truth about today's rate of violence, and finding ways to deal with conflict without violence:

Steven Pinker charts the decline of violence from Biblical times to the present, and argues that, though it may seem illogical and even obscene, given Iraq and Darfur, we are living in the most peaceful time in our species' existence.

In the Maasai community, cattle are all-important but despite open killing of lions, lion attacks were growing more frequent. In this short, inspiring talk, the young inventor shares the solar-powered solution he designed to safely scare the lions away.

Even with a long history of tribal wars, long before the present conflicts, one artist discovers that his "enemy" is really a loving friend.