Environmental Reader by John Hamm

CONSUMER awareness




Uncle Sam wants YOU to reduce your carbon footprint


Nowadays, we are looking over our shoulders 
at our carbon global-warming footprints. 

Calculate my carbon footprint  

Vacuum your fridge's condenser coils, wash with cold water, travel less, drink tap water, turn off appliances and lights, buy energy saving machines, eat less, avoid harsh cleaning products, pesticides, and chemical use, recycle and reduce consumption … it saves you pounds to tons of CO2.  You can count CO2 pounds like calories to reduce.  Reducing calories even reduces pounds of CO2.  Also, become more intense about recycling.  Recycle one aluminum can and save three hours worth of electricity used by your TV.

read further to recycle, build green and buy organic in Pittsburgh 


ABITIBI is Coming to Town 
(PG 2/19/07)

ABITIBI Recycling is coming to Scott Township.  You have seen them at various places around town - Sts. Simon and Jude Church, Our Lady of Grace Church - and soon you will see the green bins stationed at the Maintenance Facility for Scott Township.  The bins will benefit the Scott Township Municipal Library.  Items that can be put in the bin are: catalogs, magazines, newspapers, junk mail, office paper, fax paper, notebooks, and folders. (No phone books, please!)

Give Your Unwanted Computer a New Life

REduce, REuse, REcycle

Goodwill Industries and Dell have partnered to create RECONNECT, a comprehensive electronics recovery, reuse and environmentally responsible recycling opportunity for consumers. RECONNECT is a free program for consumers to responsibly recycle unwanted computers.  

The program is absolutely free.  Any brand computer is eligible for donation.  You are responsible for removing data from your hard drive.  Neither Dell nor Goodwill Industries will take any responsibility for your data.  Donations may be tax deductible.  Check with your tax advisor for more information about eligibility and how to value your donation.  

To donate, take your computer to any Goodwill Industries Store.  In our area, there is a store located on Banksville Road.  The Donation Center is located at the rear of the building and is open Monday - Saturday from 9 am to 8 pm and Sunday from 11 am - 4 pm.  

Proceeds from resale of donations will be returned to Goodwill Industries to support their mission of creating job opportunities for individuals with barriers to employment.

Pittsburgh's Tire Recycling Industry 
(PG 2/19/07)

Steeler Andy Russell has part ownership in a company that has become the nation's largest waste tire processor.  Liberty Tire Recycling handled 70 million tires last year, most for use as fuel, mats, railroad ties, asphalt and athletic fields. . .about a quarter of the nation's waste tires.  The company operates 10 processing centers in 16, mostly eastern states and employs 450.  Its Braddock plant with 25 employees, processed 3m tires last year and plans a million more this year.  They do nearly all of the tires in western PA.  Tires are shredded, frozen with nitrogen, then ground to the consistency of talcum powder.  Steel belting and fiber are removed; steel is recycled.  The product is used to make new tires, mats, and asphalt road material.  Railroad ties use eliminates need for creosote.  The shredded material can burned in power plants, producing less pollutant than other fuels.  They donated 500,000 pounds of rubber for fields in Iraq.  The company has won bids to clean up 450 tire dumps.

Light Bulb Alliance 
(NYT 3/14/07)

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is teaming with Phillips Lighting/Netherlands to eliminate incandescent light bulbs (ilb), replacing with compact fluorescents (cf), light-emitting diodes (led), halogens. CFs are 3x as efficient; LEDs 6x. Recently Australia sought to ban ILBs; Ontario was considering the measure. GE, America's largest manufacturer, is promoting a new ILB, twice as efficient as old ones, to allow a transition of screw bulbs. 22% of electricity is used for lighting and almost half of that for ILB.  The incandescent technology is 125 years old and makes more heat than light.


Building Green

Artemis  Environmental is your source for green building materials and resources in the Pittsburgh area.  Located in Lawrenceville, they have a wide range of eco-friendly materials.  Roofing, flooring, lighting, etc.  They also have a list of contractors and a resources page to link to other sources of environmental building materials, like the recycled ones at Construction Junction.

Putting Environmentalism on the Urban Map
(NYT, 5/17/06)

New York is getting green highrises with unique features that earn ratings for using renewables and eco-friendly materials and construction, saving water and energy, even generating it, and enhancing indoor air quality.  Wood is certified as coming from sustainable sources, not old rain forests.  This is usually not compelled by building ordinances.  Most often it is driven by predicted returns as savings greater than added costs nationally averaging 2-5% (drop from 15-17% a short time ago.  Thank increasing popularity of constructing green to make our lifestyles more sustainable.  Some buildings use half of the water of comparable ones by recycling, reusing resident waste water, even using rain water for plants, cooling, flushing toilets.  They use 65% less electricity and 35% less energy for heating, cooling and built-in lighting; also using natural gas in summer to reduce demand for electricity produced by dirtier coal-powered plants. 

Selling Green 
What's Kind to Nature Can Be Kind to Profits
(NYT, 5/17/06)

You see the green ads...it's fashionable to be a "green":   BP advertising its developing alternative energies; Ford selling products that come with "carbon-offsets" (credits);  Walmart promoting florescent light bulbs;  GE investing $1.5 billion to research cleaner technologies.  But are consumers buying from the guys in the 'green hats'?  Is a green public image going to work?  Like any ad investment, it's a best guess whether consumers will pay for being carbon-neutral.  Despite motivation for green image, industries are making progress in cleaner practice, that improves efficiency and profit.  Ford developed a paint process that not only cuts time and effort, but also captures fumes to use in generating electricity, saving natural gas previously used to burn the fumes.  It embodies sustainable manufacturing.  But the finished truck will emit tons of CO2 over its lifetime, even though the new paint process saves $7 to $11 per vehicle.  Well, it's a start...  

Buying Green
'Refurbished' Takes On Earth-Friendly Vibe
(Barry Rehfeld, NYT, 2/31/06)

Refurbished computers are usually ones returned shortly after delivery and often recycled with the same new guarantees.  Like any recycling the earth is saved from hazardous lead, cadmium and mercury at extraction and at disposition.  Refurb computers typically cost half new.  They are even rated (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool)  by an honor system, wherein manufacturers score their products against a set of standards including levels of hazardous substances, energy efficiency and ease of recycling, to earn gold, silver bronze ratings.  Computers may rate higher for corn-based plastic, electric savings, manufacturer take-back recycling policy/practice.  Coming soon are eco-friendly electronics from pressuring to meet new hazardous substance standards.  Political changes came to the European Union in July when it issued Restrictions on Hazardous Substances (six).  Without mandates in the US, retailers are promoting products that comply with European standards for green marketing advantage.  Disposal is hardest on the environment.  Estimated are 75% of existing computers sitting unused.  New Hampshire, California, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Maine have banned disposal of video displays from landfills and incinerators, even trash.  The best recycling is return-to-source for safe recycling and disposal of parts and substances.  

Marcal (ad)

"Paper from paper, not trees.  Recycled without chlorine bleaching.  Towels, toilet, facial, napkins.  Great value…right values."  Made in the USA.  Read more

Lead in Paint
(NYT, 4/2/06)

Some European countries banned it in 1920s;  US in 1978, even though manufacturers voluntarily stopped using it by the 60s.  No amount in the blood is safe from damaging the brain.  Lead bullets lying around are hazardous too, including lead buckshot ingested by wildlife, fouling the land and water.  There's lead solder in pipes, electronics, auto radiators, whose poor recovery finds its way into the waste stream and food chain.  


The Modern Economics of Food
(Bill Weida/Waterkeeper Spring 06)

We have lost access to good food.  The supply of good food will only increase when consumers have choice supported by marketing and distribution.  

When independent processors and grocers were hijacked over the last 40 years by corporate interests, only the wealthy could shop a two-tier food system.  
Most consumers, having lost their community "mom & pop" stores,  are left with mall sources advantaged by being able to afford the  high rent, advertising and marketing.  
Only the determined and informed face inconvenience and higher costs to shop for healthy food.  

Specialty independents with locations in Pittsburgh:

East End Food Co-op 
7516 Meade Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15208
Phone: 412-242-3598
Store hours: Monday through Sunday 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m

Whole Foods
5880 Centre Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206
Phone: 412-441-7960
Fax: 412-441-2907
Store hours: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week

Trader Joe's 
6343 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 
Phone: 412-363-5748 
Store hours: 9 am - 9 pm

Whole Foods Scores High With Employees
(PG 1/18/07)

Evaluated by employee poll and benefits package, Whole Foods scored No.5 of "100 Best Companies to Work For."  They're happy for a number of reasons including trust in their management.  CEO John Mackey reduced his salary to $1 and will forgo compensation from future stock options, donating them to the company's two nonprofit foundations, the Whole Planet Foundation and the Animal Compassion Foundation.  Founded in 1980 in Austin, it is one of 18 companies to make the list every year since it began. 

Ginger - Food Lover's Companion
(Sharon Tyler Herbst/PG 1/18/07)

Ginger does indeed have many healing qualities. It's an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, relieves stomach nausea, even prevents/helps motion sickness, thins the blood and destroys bacteria.  Read more

The Salmon Scam…'Wild' Often Isn't
(Consumer Reports 8/06)

Less than half in one sample purchase were 'wild' salmon, usually costing more, because farm salmon, raised in pens, accumulate more PCBs and dioxins.  Stores don't have to disclose, but if they do, labels must be accurate.  Farmed salmon aren't inherently less healthy; it depends on the quality of their food and habitat.  90% of wild salmon come from Alaska harvested between May and September.  The state outlaws farming, but sometimes you still find it.  Also, buy "canned in Alaska'" for more assurance.  Buying Atlantic salmon from Chile, Canada, US should be more safe.  Then there's fish oil omega-3 fats labeled free of contaminants or non-fish sources in flaxseed, canola, olive, soybean and walnut oils.

Organic Clothing Starting to Fit In
(Marylynne Pitz, PG 1/17/07)

Consumer awareness of organic clothing has grown in the last 6 years, from 5% to 16%.  It popularity comes from sustainable farming methods that use no pesticides, herbicides or chemicals; from processing that uses no chemical scouring, bleaching, disinfecting, fire retardants, or toxic dyes.  Costs more, but that's the price of saving the environment, avoiding allergic reactions (and doing the right thing)Read more

Local stores offering clothes made from organic cotton, bamboo, or soy:

Mooi (Jill Uhryniak) 5932 Penn Circle-South (East Liberty. mecca for Whole Foods, Trader Joes, East End Food Coop…the 'Penn Ave Organic Stretch' from East Liberty to Point Breeze)

E House  (David Molder/David Shiller) 1511 E. Carson St - South Side - Their clothing line, Jonano and 'ecoKashmere', is designed locally by Bonnie Siefers of Franklin Park

Equita (Sara Parks) 100 43rd St (at Butler) - Lawrenceville/Ice House Studios - Clothing by Muumuu Heaven (infants…recycled muumuus), Del Forte jeans, imports from 40 countries. 



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19 Mar 2009
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