|Eco-Gadgets & Innovations
Waterless Car Wash
Everyone loves a nice sparkly clean car. But when you wash yours on an impervious surface like a street or driveway, you not only waste gallons of water, but you contribute to the urban runoff problem: all that water, soap and grime from your car go right into your nearest water body, untreated.
What to do instead? Here are three alternatives, in order of "greenness":
1. Good: Take your car to a commercial car wash establishment (most
recycle water for the simple fact that it saves them a lot of money,
and all are required by US law to drain their waste water into the
sewer system so it's treated before being dumped into local waterways)
2. Better: Wash your car on the lawn or some other permeable surface (reduces runoff and and gives the plants a drink)
3. Best: Use a waterless car washing product
Though waterless car washing products have been available for several years now, demand for them here in the US has been meager. Sales are starting to pick up, however, as people increasingly look for ways to save water and money.
Several brands are available, including:
Lucky Earth: 32-oz bottle costs $17 and provides 7-10 washes (based in Los Angeles)
Eco Touch: 22-oz bottle costs $10 and provides 4-8 washes (based in New Hampshire)
No-Wet Green Way: 32-oz bottle costs $33 (based in New Jersey)
In addition to saving water, these products are inherently environmentally-friendly. They are plant-based, petroleum-free, phosphate-free, non-toxic and biodegradable. All can be ordered online, and Lucky Earth and Eco Touch are available at retail outlets across the country.
One word of caution: to avoid scratching, always use a micro-fiber towel when using any waterless car wash product.
As you may know, the Earth's climate affects many things: glaciers, snow pack, sea levels, ocean temperature, extreme weather events, crop yields, phenological events...say what?
Phenology is the study of the timing of life cycle events in plants and animals. So a phenological event is something that occurs at a specific time in a organism's life cycle, such as flowering, leafing and reproducing.
Perhaps without even realizing it, you witness phenological events all the time: the first signs of seasonal allergies, the first fallen leaves in autumn, the first chirping of baby birds in the spring...
Because the timing of phenological events is directly related to climate, scientists can learn a lot about climate change by studying these events across the globe.
THIS IS WHERE YOU COME IN!
Project BudBurst, a national phenology field campaign, is recruiting "citizen scientists" across the country to take careful observations of phenological events such as the first leafing, first flower, and first fruit ripening of a variety of trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses. All citizen science observations are reported to the national Project BudBurst database.
It's easy to participate. Just register online with Project BudBurst, identify your plant using the plant list, begin observations, and report your observations online. Your observations will provide scientists with invaluable information about the prevailing climatic characteristics in your region over time.
For more information and to participate, visit Project BudBurst today!
|Behind the Scenes
...at a Materials Recovery Facility
A materials recovery facility (MRF) is a fancy name for a recycling plant. Last month, I got to tour Waste Management's (WM) MRF in Pico Rivera, CA. It was an eye-opening experience, to say the least.
Here's a taste of what I saw:
WM employees separating out the recyclables by hand. Some of these guys pull out cardboard, some pull out scrap metal, some milk jugs...you get the picture. By the way, that conveyor belt moves at a rate of 60-100 ft/s.
The conveyor belt continues on, carrying what's leftover through a series of mechanical separation devices. Here, gravity is used to separate paper from heavier materials, which fall down below.
What's left at the end of the sorting line. This stuff has gone through TWO manual separations and several mechanical separations. Still, plenty of good recyclables are missed. So at the end of the day, this pile is sent through the whole process again to catch what was missed the first time through.
When it's all said and done, about 30% of what comes into the facility gets sent to a landfill as trash.
A solid cube of crushed aluminum cans. If you must drink canned beverages, keep this in mind: it takes at least four times more energy to make an aluminum can from virgin ore as from a recycled can. And according to WM, recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a laptop computer for four hours.
All the recycled newsprint. According to WM, there are no paper mills in California, so all recycled paper gets shipped out of state. Most of the newspaper is shipped to China.
So what practical knowledge about recycling did I gain from this experience? Well, I learned that at THIS recycling facility,
Most importantly, I learned that because humans play a key role in sorting the recyclables from the non-recyclables, when in doubt, you should recycle. In other words, if it's paper, plastic, glass or metal, you should recycle it.
- Containers DO NOT have to be rinsed (although it's helpful)
- Caps DO NOT have to be removed from plastic bottles (again, helpful)
- Broken glass IS accepted
- Peanut butter containers are NOT accepted
- All plastics are accepted (even those without numbers), except Styrofoam
Still, all facilities are different, so if you want to make the most out of your curbside recycling program, ask your city what's accepted and what's not. Most cities list this information on their website under Public Works.
I encourage you to contact your waste hauler about touring your local materials recovery facility. In Los Angeles, contact Lily Lee, Public Affairs Director for WM, at 818-252-3106. She's in charge of tours at all WM facilities, including MRFs, landfills and transfer stations.
Events and other stuff for Angelinos:
Upcoming TeachingGreen Workshops:
Helping the Earth With Every Bite
Thank Mother Earth for her delicious bounty by choosing foods that nourishthe body without harming the Earth.
Date: Wednesday, April 15
Time: 7:00 - 8:30pm
Location: Whole Foods Market, 2655 PCH, Torrance 90505
Cost: Suggested donation $5
Making Your Home a Friend to Mother Nature, Part I (Energy Conservation & Green Building)
Make your home a model of sustainability, inside and out, and give the Joneses something meaningful to keep up with.
Date: Sunday, April 19
Time: 12:30 - 2:00pm
Location: Pacific Unitarian Church, 5621 Montemalaga Dr., Rancho Palos Verdes 90275
Cost: Donations greatly appreciated!
Cruising Around Town in (Green) Style
Reduce the impact of getting yourself from here to there and go a long way toward greening your life.
Date: Tuesday, April 21
Time: 7:00 - 8:00pm
Location: Seed Kitchen Restaurant, 1604 Pacific Avenue, Venice, CA 90291
Cost: Suggested donation $5
For more information and to register, visit www.teachinggreen.org.
Earth Day Celebrations for the Whole Family
SMPA Earth Weekend
Date: Saturday & Sunday, April 18-19
Time: 11:00 - 6:00pm
Location: Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, 1600 Ocean Front Walk, Santa Monica 90401
Cost: Adults $2, kids under 12 FREE
VOICE Earth Day Celebration & Concert
Date: Saturday, April 18
Time: 11:00am - 4:00pm
Location: Polliwog Park, Manhattan Beach 90266 (corner of Manhattan Beach Blvd. and Peck Ave.)
Celebrate Earth Day with CMA
Date: Saturday, April 18
Time: 8:00am - 5:00pm
Location: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium; 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro 90731
Date: Sunday, April 19
Time: 10:00am - 4:00pm
Location: Leo Carillo State Park, 35000 PCH, Malibu 90265
Cost: $10 for parking
SEA Lab Earth Day Fair
Date: Saturday, April 25
Time: 10:00am - 3:00pm
Location: SEA Lab, 1021 North Harbor Drive, Redondo Beach 90277
Aquarium of the Pacific's Earth Day Celebration
Date: Saturday & Sunday, April 25-26
Time: 9:00am - 6:00pm
Location: Aquarium of the Pacific, 100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach 90802
Cost: FREE with general admission and for AOP members
STAR ECO Station Children's Earth Day 2009
Date: Sunday, April 26
Time: 10:00am - 4:00pm
Location: STAR ECO Station, 10101 Jefferson Blvd, Culver City 90232
Cost: FREE (tours of the ECO Station are $5)
California-Friendly Gardening Events
Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase
Have doubts that a drought-resistant garden can be beautiful? This event will put your doubts to rest! Come see for yourself what dozens of water-conscious home owners have done to make their gardens California-friendly.This is a great first step towards transforming your garden into a beautiful, low-water oasis.
Date: Sunday, April 26
Time: 2:00 - 6:00pm
Location: Mar Vista; click here for a tour map
Cost: FREE self-guided tour
Smart Landscape Expo
Want to learn more about drought-tolerant landscaping? This event will feature free workshops & demonstrations on the following and more:
-landscaping with native plants
-using water-efficient devices;
-paving with permeable materials.
Date: Saturday, May 2
Time: 9:00am - 1:00pm
Location: Edward C. Little Water Recycling Facility, 1935 S. Hughes Way, El Segundo 90245
To register: Call 310-371-7222 or visit www.sbesc.com.
Worth Your Time
Flow ("For Love of Water")2007, Available on DVD
This award-winning documentary raises some very important questions about our most precious natural resource, water. With a focus on politics, pollution and human rights, it investigates the emergence of a domineering world water cartel.
In a world with a dwindling fresh water supply, is it really acceptable for Nestle, Vivendi and other corporations to own our fresh water supplies? That's the main question addressed here and by the time you're done watching, the answer is disturbingly clear.
Through interviews with scientists and activists, the film investigates not just the causes of the growing world water crisis, but practical solutions as well. And there are some nuggets here that will make any consumer think twice before spending another cent of his or her hard-earned money on bottled water.
"An astonishingly wide-ranging film. An informed and heartfelt
examination of the tug of war between public health and private
interests." - New York Times
"Flow is a smartly done, involving look at a number of interrelated water issues. - Los Angeles Times
For more info, visit www.flowthefilm.com
Three ways you can help:
1. Bring us your people
Actually, we'll come to you.
In addition to public workshops, we also give presentations for groups, schools, and businesses. Are you a member of a community group, alumni group, Mom's group, church group, or any other kind of group? Have a business you're trying to green and want to get your employees on board?
If so, we would love to come and give a presentation or two for your group! We give presentations on specific issues, such as transportation, food and household toxics, and we also offer a general overview of sustainable living.
Visit www.teachinggreen.org to learn more and to request a presentation.
2. Volunteer or intern with TeachingGreen
We are seeking interns and volunteers to help further our mission of helping people reduce the environmental impact of their personal and professional lives. We need help with curriculum development, fund raising and outreach. Your involvement will help us to grow the organization so that we can reach more people with the message of sustainability.
For more information, contact Kathleen Jacecko at 310-372-7484 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Donate and become a member of TeachingGreen
We are a 501(c)3 organization, so all donations are fully tax-deductible. Your support helps us spread the message of sustainability via workshops, presentations, our wesite and this newsletter. We currenlty operate only in Los Angeles, but even if you don't live here, remember that when we act locally, we help the global environment as well as the local environment.
To make a tax-deductible donation to TeachingGreen, click here.
We hope you find
this newsletter helpful and informative, and should you have any
suggestions, questions or general comments, we'd love to hear from you.