Green Tip - Changing Our Driving Habits to Help Our Environment
Is it an antisocial behavior that a driver races from red light to red light with little regard for how much energy s/he consumes? That is what Tim Castleman suggests. Castleman is the person behind the “Drive 55” campaign that aims to bring public awareness of the advantages of driving slower. Such advantages that have been documented from research include cost savings and reduction in carbon emissions. While it may arguably be a social norm that people drive faster than the speed limit, perhaps we could start making some adjustments in our driving habits. Consider these facts:
A car’s gas mileage peaks at speeds around 40 miles per hour (depending on the car).“The Department of Energy has estimated that, at most, a national speed limit of 55 mph would save 100 million barrels of oil annually; the United States currently consumes 21 million barrels per day.”“Fuel economy decreases about 1% for each mph over 55. Driving 65 mph vs. 75 mph, for example, increases fuel economy by about 10%” (National Automobile Dealers Association).“’Jack-rabbit’ starts and hard braking alone can increase fuel consumption by 40% but reduce travel time by only 4%” ("http://www.eartheasy.com").By driving slower, we can save ourselves some money and contribute to a cleaner environment.
ESOL and Foreign Languages
Green is the Color of Love
Some tips for making your Valentine’s Day more eco-friendly:
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Green Tip - Support Species Survival
Donors to Seneca Park Zoo's Annual Appeal support the preservation of endangered species because our zoo participates in many Species Survival Plans as an affiliate of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. To get to know the particular species and the specific zoo residents covered by these plans, visit: www.senecaparkzoo.org
Click on "Animals" and any of the following species:
Black and White Ruffed Lemur
Golden Lion Tamarin
Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake
Panamanian Golden Frog
If you know youngsters who might be interested in the educational coloring book that features these Species Survival Plan animals, check it out at: http://tinyurl.com/y9bmynh
Green Tip - The Geography of Food - Food Miles
Where does your food come from? How many miles does your food have to travel before it hits your dinner plate?
Not so long ago, for most of humanity, the majority of our food came from areas we could walk to or at least from within our own countries. These days our food is increasingly from many thousands of miles away. We can express this distance as food miles which refers to the distance food is transported from the time of its production until it reaches the consumer.
It's amazing that we can enjoy many foods out of season and at relatively low cost, but the price paid in terms of environmental damage can be very high.
The environmental impact is mainly related to freight and shipping - more trucks, more planes, more ships, more consumption of oil and more greenhouse gas emissions. Produce in the U.S. travels, on average, 1300 - 2000 miles from farm to consumer. Since 1970, truck shipping has dramatically increased, replacing more energy efficient transportation by rail and water (National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service). Also, food imported from some countries may have been grown in very unsustainable ways. For example, rainforests may have been cleared, and toxic effluent released into the environment from processing and inappropriate use of pesticides and herbicides applied to crops.
A brand of coffee I drink is grown in Brazil. That's a distance of over 3,000 miles (over 5,000 kilometers) as the crow flies. I then switched to buying a fair trade brand from Guatemala - under 2,000 miles - around 3,200 kilometers. Just to illustrate the difference, take a look at the map in the link below showing the distance comparison between the origins of my usual brand of coffee (Brazil) and new brand of fair trade coffee (Guatemala).
You can take action on your next shopping trip. Try to buy local where you can - even if it's just one or two more products that you regularly use. Read labels on cans and learn more about what foods are in season within your country and try to utilize those more as there will be less chance of you accidentally purchasing imported foods. Better yet, consider starting a vegetable garden for your back yard (next spring). It will greatly reduce your food mile impact from thousands of miles to a few feet - plus saving you money!
Article modified from Michael Bloch
Green Living Tips.com
Green Tip - Green Blogs
Going green? Stay informed with blogs. Blogs are an ideal vehicle for journalists, scientists and other experts to share news about environmental issues with like-minded readers.
Here are four green blogs that get this librarian's stamp of approval:
Dot Earth - http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com
NY Times reporter Andrew Revkin tracks the latest environmental news. Visit the comments section of each post for lively discussion with readers and experts.
Re-Nest - http://www.re-nest.com
Go to this blog to learn how to green your living space.
TreeHugger - http://www.treehugger.com
The folks at TreeHugger are dedicated to making sustainability mainstream.
Yale Environment 360 - http://e360.yale.edu
Despite its Ivy League pedigree, this blog is surprisingly assessable to the layperson. Entries are written by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people.
Green Tip - A Simple Start
All the glory and grace that comes with each new school year is always accompanied by the age-old question: How am I going to keep up with all of my work AND become a cutting-edge, go green, sustainability guru? Well, my advice is to dream big but start small. Here are a few green tips to start saving energy right away that won't take more than an extra thought:
Turn off the lights when you leave a room. When I was younger, my family had a fishbowl that we had to put a quarter in every time anyone left a light on in an unoccupied room. Needless to say I spent those years of my life penniless, but I learned my lesson. Also, if you have a dimmer switch on your household lights, use it! I like to think of it as turning down the lights and turning up the ambiance.
Turn down the heat in the winter. We all know Rochester can get frigid pretty quickly, but that doesn't mean you have to keep the inside of your house at a tropical temperature. Keep things reasonably comfortable but don't be afraid to wear a sweater and slippers around the house. Also, setting your household heating on a timer is a great way to save energy and money. I've heard that you turn the heat down 1 degree for every hour you will be out of the house. You can also put an extra blanket on your bed and turn the heat down a bit at night.
Carpool to work. Carpooling to work has always been a great way to help save the environment, save on parking, and make new friends. And if you're close enough, you should consider dusting off your bicycle. A great way to get to work AND get some exercise!
Get a reusable grocery bag. At Wegmans they are only 99 cents, and they last a really long time. Plastic grocery bags take about 100 years to degrade.
Don't leave the water running. When you're doing the dishes or brushing your teeth, don't just leave the water running - only turn it on when you really need it!
Green Tip - Unplug "Vampires"
Electronics like computers, televisions and cell phone chargers continue to draw power even when you're not using them so kill these "vampires" at the source. Power outlets in New Zealand have handy on/off switches, and residents are encouraged to keep their switches in the off position. We're hoping that trend will migrate to the United States, but until then you can save power by plugging your desktop, printer, and fax machine into a "smart" power strip. Smart strips can sense when electronics are idle and cut off the power flow to vampires. Devices like the Wattstopper and the Smart Strip Power Strip can be ordered online. While you're awaiting the arrival of your new smart strip, you can accomplish the "smart" part by simply unplugging unused appliances yourself.
Green Tip - Let Your Fingers Do the Driving for Research
You can save gas and paper and keep up with sustainability issues by doing research in the MCC Libraries’ online databases.
You can do your searching online from any computer with an Internet connection. You’ll only need to go to the library to pick up physical items such as MCC Libraries books, or items obtained from other libraries through interlibrary loan.
You can access the MCC Libraries’ 50 online article, reference, and e-book databases, as well as the MCC Libraries’ book and media catalog, from on- or off-campus from any computer with an Internet connection.
The EBSCO GreenFILE database (funded by SUNYConnect) indexes, and offers some full text of articles about all aspects of human impact to the environment from scholarly, government, and general-interest journals and magazines. GreenFILE is an easy way to keep up with developments in areas such as global warming, green building, pollution, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, recycling, and more. The database provides indexing and abstracts for more than 384,000 records, as well as full text for more than 4,700 records, and covers such titles as Agriculture & Environment (04/01/1981 to present), the Journal of Ecology (03/01/1913 to present), and the Journal of Environment & Development (03/01/1996 to present).
Green Tip - Recycling Works
When one sees a classroom recycling bin filled with an assortment of unrecyclable garbage, it is easy to form the perception that MCC is utterly hopeless at recycling. This perception, however, is false. According to a waste audit study conducted in April of 2008, MCC diverts 41% of its waste stream to recycling facilities. Much of this is paper, but an increasing number of containers are also being recycled, thanks in part to those recycling bins with round holes that one sees in some of the public areas on campus. A 41% diversion rate is quite good, but we can certainly improve even further if we encourage each other to deposit containers in the appropriate bins, and to put only paper in the open-topped, classroom bins.
Green Tip - The Number 350
Please take 90 seconds to view a video that explains why 350 is such an important number:
If you are still not convinced or want more information about 350, check out the additional links under "About". Are you convinced now? Why not see what you can do under the "Get Involved" tab? Want to do even more? How about clicking on the "Donate" tab and giving...even $5 will make a difference. Lastly, use the icons in the upper right corner to add your name to the email list or to share this website through Facebook or Twitter.
Only with your help can we address the greatest crisis human civilization faces.
Green Tip - E-Waste - Know Where Your Garbage is Going
Before you drop off your old computer, cell phone, BlackBerry or any other e-waste you may have, make sure you know where your waste is going. Companies all over the country are taking consumer e-waste and unethically and illegally shipping it overseas to towns such as Guiyu, China, where the individuals living in this community are being poisoned each day!
60 Minutes did a story on American e-waste and the companies who collect it and the communities that live with it.
Who Was Following Whom? 60 Minutes' Solly Granatstein On Being Tailed On the Toxic Trail in China:
"E-waste is junked old computers, TVs, cell phones, printers, most of it toxic, and much coming to this shabby corner of China from wealthier environs like America." Our best intentions to be green have ended up poisoning children in Guiyu, China, to where their lead levels and other dangerous materials in these products have and continue to cause permanent brain damage and birth defects, where the air quality is at poisonous levels, and where the precious metal mine workers show up at work each day because the pay is better. "The place was a hell on earth of acrid smoke and noxious smells. The pungent air scorched the back of our throats."
Americans throw out 130,000 computers each day and 100 million cell phones each year – not to mention the TVs and other electronic equipment tossed. We have developed a culture where our electronics are disposable as soon as the next best thing comes out on the market. This lifestyle has not come without a huge cost to human life. E-recycling companies all across America claim to recycle our e-waste responsibly. As discovered in the 60 Minutes story, on too many occasions this does not happen. Companies will tell you that they are disposing of the waste in non-hazardous ways, but will then ship the items overseas to communities who burn the components and pollute the air. This waste is illegally exported to poor, remote towns and villages where community members are more willing to accept the waste.
Why? With the waste comes employment opportunities and money to feed themselves and their families. How can this possibly happen? Taken from the website:
GAO Releases New Report on Toxic E-Waste Export: EPA unable to enforce rules, holds "little concern for the environment in other countries" 17 September 2008 – The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new report on electronic waste today during a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment. The Electronics TakeBack Coalition, a national coalition of environmental and consumer groups promoting responsible recycling and green design in the electronics industry, applauded the report, hailing it as the U.S. government's first comprehensive look at the magnitude of the problem of exporting toxic e-waste to developing nations. The report finds that few regulations exist to control this problem, and that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fails to enforce those that do exist, which only cover old cathode ray tube TVs and monitors. To test compliance with the regulations, the GAO posed as foreign buyers of broken cathode ray tubes (CRTs) and found 43 U.S. companies willing to ignore the EPA CRT rule and export nonworking CRT monitors to foreign countries in direct opposition to U.S. regulations. Some of these are companies who promote themselves publicly as environmentally responsible companies, with at least 3 of them holding Earth Day electronics recycling events in 2008.
The GAO's findings include: "US regulatory controls do little to stem the export of potentially hazardous used electronics." "US Exports of potentially harmful used electronics flow virtually unrestricted." Existing regulations focus only on CRTs, but companies easily circumvent the CRT regulations, because they are confident that they will not get caught. "EPA has done little to enforce the CRT rule" which went into effect in January 2007. Only one company has been fined so far, and that July 2008 penalty resulted from a problem the GAO identified. The EPA does not plan to enforce the CRT regulations. "They have no plans, and no timetable for developing the basic components of an enforcement strategy…"
So, how can you make sure that your e-waste recycling company is not illegally shipping waste overseas? The Basel Action Network certifies ethical recyclers right here in the U.S. <http://www.ban.org>. You can check out the company you plan on recycling with to make sure that they are ethical re-cyclers.
Green Tip - Green Your Holidays
Did you know that Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year's holiday season than any other time of year? This extra garbage amounts to 25 million tons of trash, or about one million extra tons of garbage per week. (Bob Lilienfeld/The Use Less Stuff Report)
Here are some thoughts for a sustainable holiday season:
Several local business and organizations offer workshops and/or products to help you out, such as Hurd Orchards (http://www.hurdorchards.com), and the Rochester Civic Garden Center (http://www.rcgc.org/).
Student Services, DCC
Green Tip - Pick Ugly Veggies
Choose ugly veggies. Odd shapes and unusual pigments generally have no impact on the flavor of produce but, by insisting on strict uniformity, supermarkets force farmers to waste huge amounts of food and limit the variety sold. This also cuts the farmers' profit margins, driving them to more intensive methods. Let retailers know you'd be delighted to eat varied veggies and funny fruit, and enjoy the diversity in shape, color, and size that nature intended.
From "1001 Ways to Save the World" by Joanna Yarrow
Green Tip - Wintertime Savings!
Imagine all the little leaky spots where the cold gets into your house. Imagine your heating dollars slipping away!
Here is your annual reminder before winter gets a grip:
Insulate your attic. It is relatively easy, yet very cost-effective, to add insulation to your attic. The Department of Energy (DOE) suggests a minimum attic insulation level of R-38 (R-value is a measure of resistance to heat flow), equivalent to 12 to 15 inches of insulation. The DOE provides a map on its website that lists recommended insulation levels for U.S. climates.
Seal air leaks. Weather stripping, door sweeps, window shrink wrap, and other materials can be purchased at your local hardware store for $50 or less, and can save you as much as 10 percent in energy costs. If you have an old fireplace, consider installing glass doors (which can cost a couple hundred dollars or more) to help prevent heat from escaping out the chimney when not in use.
Seal heating ducts. Leaky ducts from forced-air or heat pump systems can allow up to 20 percent of the warm air to escape. While most ductwork is hidden in walls and floors, you can seal duct leaks on your own in attics, basements, or garages, and in areas where ducts meet floor or wall vents. The DOE estimates that sealing leaky ducts can save you up to $140 annually.
Install a programmable thermostat. An Energy Star-qualified programmable thermostat can cost as little as $30 but save you $100 or more each year on heating costs by automatically turning the heat down when you are asleep or away (so you don't have to remember to do it yourself).
Upgrade your furnace. If your heating system is more than 10 years old, consider replacing it with an Energy Star-rated model to cut your energy costs by up to 30 percent. Before you buy, make your home as efficient as possible first (following the tips above) so you can purchase the smallest system to fit your heating needs.
Source: Union of Concerned Scientists. http://www.ucsusa.org
Visual and Performing Arts (VaPA)
Green Tip - Time for a new TV?
It appears that some of us have recently been lured by giant yet thin, flat screen, space-saving, televisions (especially with the upcoming changes to digital cable). If you are one of those folks who recently turned in the old TV for a shiny new TV but still has the old one sitting in the basement (or on the way to the curb), now is the time to send it to a better place! Older televisions can contain up to four pounds of lead, so please don’t just send them to landfills.
Besides the lead in TVs (and computer monitors), here are some additional reasons to recycle electronics:
Green Tip - Seasonal Green Tips
Experience nature. Visit a pumpkin farm. Pick fresh apples. Buy pumpkins, apples and other seasonal items from a farmers market. Produce bought at farmers markets will not only taste better but saves energy. "Most foods in the United States travel an average of 1,300 miles before reaching us, burning large amounts of fossil fuels," according to the web site for the National Town Meeting for a Sustainable America held in Detroit in 1999. Buying produce directly from the farmer also cuts out the "middleman" and increases the farmers' cut or share of the profits.
Give out healthy treats. Finding nutritional treats has to be one of Halloween's challenges. But with some serious thought, it can be done. Some ideas that come to mind include:
Make use of all pumpkin parts. After carving a pumpkin, be sure to save the seeds. Bake them and serve them to party guests or feed them to our fine feathered bird friends. There's no problem putting pumpkin seeds out for birds, wet or dry, confirms Dr. Ellen Dierenfeld, a nutritionist at the Saint Louis Zoo.
Serve healthy and seasonal foods. The options are endless.
Make your own costume or buy one at a second-hand shop. An old sheet still makes a great ghost. Just make sure that the sheet costs less than a commercial ghost costume.
Chemistry & Geosciences
Green Tip - Gas Saving Tips
The Internet abounds with gas savings tips. You can decide if they are myths or reality after examining the evidence of experts. For example I received these claims in a recent email:
Claim #1. Only buy or fill up your car in the early morning when the ground temperature is still cold. Remember that all service stations have their storage tanks buried below ground. The colder the ground, the denser the gasoline will be. When it gets warmer gasoline expands, so when buying in the afternoon or in the evening your gallon is not exactly a gallon.
Claim #2. Fill up when your gas tank is HALF FULL or HALF EMPTY. The reason for this is, the more gas you have in your tank the less air occupying its empty space. Gasoline evaporates faster than you can imagine. Gasoline storage tanks have an internal floating roof. This roof serves as zero clearance between the gas and the atmosphere, so it minimizes the evaporation.
Here's the website that takes a stand on the question of myth or reality regarding these claims and others:
What most experts agree actually will save gas:
Transitional Studies Department
Green Tip - Composting
(Disclaimer: Composting can be addictive. I began composting because I garden, but now I garden because I compost.)
With spring's arrival, most people start thinking about flowers, birds, and picnics. I start thinking about compost.
Composting is an excellent way to cut down on your household waste stream and add some quality to your garden soil. The process could not be simpler: pile up your yard and kitchen waste in an out-of-the-way spot in your backyard and let it rot; once you get a good pile going, start a new one next to it so that the first can finish. You can periodically turn the piles with a pitchfork, which mixes and aerates the compost, speeding up decomposition. When the compost turns into what looks like black, crumbly dirt, it is ready to use.
If the system above doesn't sound practical, there are countless alternatives. People with limited space often build compost bins out of wood and chicken wire, or similar materials. Some people buy specially-designed composters that look like horizontal, 55 gallon drums with legs. Some people are too impatient to let the compost finish, and turn it into their gardens while it is still slimy and chunky. All of these things are acceptable.
All organic material will compost, but it is usually best to keep some things out of your pile. Meat, dairy, and cooking oil will not only make your pile stink, but they may attract some strange and unwelcome critters to your backyard. Animal waste, such as cat and dog feces, is worth avoiding for the same reasons. On the other hand, kitchen waste such as coffee grounds, eggshells, fruit and vegetables make excellent compost material. Grass clippings, fallen leaves, and weeds (before they have gone to seed) are also excellent materials.
Compost can be used in edible or ornamental gardens. Most gardeners turn their compost into the soil, but if you practice conservation tillage, you can layer it on top of the soil, and it will work just as well. While compost will replace some trace nutrients in the soil, its most noticeable benefit is the way it improves the tilth of the soil by keeping it friable and improving its ability to retain water.
Green Tip - What's NOT Foolish
Just for fun on April Fool's Day, perhaps celebrating "What's NOT Foolish" could be an interesting exercise.
A typical motor-commute of 7.5 miles though Rochester city streets might normally take 20 minutes. Taking the freeway around might save 5 minutes, but could nearly double the miles traveled and shorten the warranty period of the car. That same commute on a bicycle (at a gentle, sweat-free pace) would normally take 35 minutes. Maybe a couple more to stop and chat with the neighbor out running or walking the dog before work.
Getting up and leaving for work on a bicycle only 15 minutes earlier would get the bicyclist to work at the same time, but possibly sooner if the motorist on the same route has to stop at the gas pump ($$$) on the way.
(Let's leave it to the math department to compare the relative greenhouse gas emissions produced by the typical motorist using 1/4 to 1/3 gallon of gas vs that produced by a bicyclist fueled by a bowl of Cheerios.)
The bicyclist probably won't stop for coffee, saving another 5-to-10 minutes and a couple more bucks as well. The bicyclist won't risk spilling coffee all over the car or his/her clothing, or having an accident due to the spill.
What if they both have a flat tire on the way?
The bicyclist can repair a flat in 5 minutes using a patch kit, or 30 seconds using Slime and CO2 cartridge. The motorist will lose an hour waiting for road service. A do-it-yourself motorist will lose 15-20 minutes changing the spare, and another 30 minutes (and several bucks) taking the ruined slacks to the dry cleaners.
The bicyclist can lock the bike to a bike rack near the building entrance, while the motorist is still looking for a parking space in the parking lot.
OK ... The motorist gets 100 extra steps by walking across the parking lot!
(But the bicyclist already scored 7000 steps on the commute ... and that's just coming IN to work.)
Hopefully, the motorists' coffee has started to kick in and slowly the motorist feels ready for work. The bicyclist already feels energized and ready for the day while wondering why everyone else seems so grumpy today.
By the end of the day, the motorist feels absolutely stuffed trying to fit in 5 WHOLE SERVINGS of fruits and vegetables, and is starting to question the marketing of Wegmans' "Eat Well Live Well" program. Meanwhile, the bicyclist is practically starving after ONLY 5 servings and reaches for that Hershey bar, guilt free!
The motorist personally "runs out of gas" at the end of a long hard day and collapses in front of the TV at home.
The bicyclist gets home late and misses dinner. It was a nice day, so he took the long way home.
Visual and Performing Arts (VaPA)
Green Tip - Paper Use at MCC
How much do you think about the paper that YOU use everyday here at MCC? Most people would be surprised to hear some "paper" facts specific to MCC.
Currently, MCC buys and uses 3,780 cartons of white paper a year. That amounts to 378 tons or 756,000 pounds of paper used by MCC annually. How much of that paper is recycled? Since all fiber-based materials are recycled together (office paper, cardboard, etc.), it is difficult to tell how much of the 80,100 tons of fiber recycled at MCC each year is paper. However, it is estimated that MCC misses AT LEAST 90 tons or 180,000 pounds of paper each year that goes into a landfill rather than to a recycling center.
Here are some estimates of "savings" associated with using a ton of recycled paper compared to the production of a ton of paper from virgin wood:
MCC does its part for the environment when it comes to paper by attempting to purchase only paper that contains 30% post-consumer fiber (recycled paper).
Here are some quick tips to increase your paper "efficiency":
You too can help reduce costs at MCC, save landfill space, save trees, save energy, and reduce air and water pollution. Please incorporate some or all of these tips into your daily routine. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle!!
Many thanks to Fred McCullough the Director of Building Services, Patrick Bates the Director of Purchasing and Bill Gruhn of ETS Printing Services for the MCC specific statistics.
Green Tip - Saving Money and Helping the Environment
Going green can save you cash while reducing the impact on earth. You can literally knock off at least 10% of your electrical bill by turning things off. For example:
Chemistry and Geosciences
Green Tip - Bottled Water
Another pervasive product with a severe environmental footprint which can be eliminated by small lifestyle changes is bottled water.
For starters, plastic bottles are made from oil - an obvious problem. Oil is continually increasing in price and our peak oil production (many scientists believe) has already been reached, meaning scarcity will increase indefinitely. Why allocate an increasingly limited resource to the production of bottles? It is estimated that (if one includes all the energy into producing and transporting a bottle of water) that the amount of oil used to produce a single bottle would fill it 1/3 of the way.
The cost is reason enough to give up bottled water. The average price of a bottle of water is a buck. When one fills up a glass at the faucet, the cost of that water is a fraction of a penny. And quality is not a factor for Monroe County - we have some of the best water in the world. The quality of bottled water is equal to, perhaps less than, that of our tap water.
Lastly, proper disposal is rare. Forty million plastic water bottles go into the trash every day. Overall, only 12 percent of the plastic water bottles get recycled. The bottles are adding to landfills at an increasing rate. Recycling plastic bottles cuts down on the emissions that are inherent in burning fossil fuels to create new ones.
There are obvious solutions to this problem: purchase a reusable bottle or re-fill plastic water bottles more than once. Find a drinking fountain. And please, if you want to recycle your plastic bottle (or aluminum can) do NOT throw it into the knee-high blue recycling bins in your classroom. This will cause cross-contamination, because these recycling bins are meant for paper recycling only - the entire bin will be thrown in the garbage, paper included. Look for the chest high blue recycling bins that are for plastic bottles only. This is the proper way to recycle your bottles.
Campus Environmental Coordinator for SGA
Green Tip - Reducing your Coffee Footprint
When it comes to sustainability, small efforts can make a big difference and making environmentally-friendly decisions in your everyday life can be fairly easy. Why not start with something you probably do everyday? Drinking coffee.
If you brew your own coffee, you can eliminate paper filters by purchasing a reusable filter. Filters are usually available for just a few dollars. White paper filters pollute water with chlorine and other harmful chemicals. Unbleached filters are an improvement but are still an unnecessary waste of paper.
If you are like me and make a stop for coffee every morning on the way to work, bring your own reusable cup with you. You'll save paper, reduce chlorine used to bleach cups, and reduce your contribution to landfills. Many coffee shops will also provide a discount if you use your own cup.
Whether you make your own or purchase it on the go, look for shade-grown, organic, sustainable and fair trade coffees. Each has its benefits and most of the local coffee shops carry some of the following:
Sustainable: Sustainable coffee farming uses renewable resources whenever possible, minimizes pollution, and takes steps to care for the environment and surrounding community. Coffee produced through sustainable farming has less of an overall environmental impact and is often also organic, shade-grown or fair trade.
Organic: Organic coffee is produced without the use of pesticides or herbicides.
Fair Trade: Fair trade, or equal exchange coffee, bypasses the middle man (the coffee trader) and establishes direct relationships between the coffee producer and the coffee roaster. This brings greater economic stability to the small coffee farms, many of which use sustainable farming methods.
Shade Grown/Bird Friendly: Shade grown coffee reduces the need for fertilizers and herbicides and promotes biodiversity. Approximately 150 bird species live on farms of shade-grown coffee, compared to only 20-50 species supported by non-shade coffee farms. Shade-grown coffee farms benefits migratory birds and often tastes better than non-shade grown coffee. The shade has the effect of slowing coffee growth which results in the production of more sugars and better flavor overall.
Whatever choices you make for your next coffee beverage, keep in mind these simple tips to make a more environmentally conscious choice. Overtime, your small, daily steps can add up to make a big difference.