Iowa City Summer of the Arts Goes Green

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To get a sense of the strong community living in Iowa City, attend one of its summer festivals. This weekend, the annual Iowa City Jazz Festival will take over the downtown area and provide residents with delicious food, music, and the opportunity to learn about the environment.

Environmental education may not be what you expect to see at a festival. But, Iowa City’s summer events attract thousands of people, and that generates a lot of trash. To reduce the waste that Iowa City’s festivals send to the landfill, Summer of the Arts (SotA), the organization behind Iowa City’s festivals, has begun a program called Green Initiatives (GI)….

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Enviro-Log – Cleaner Burning with Recycled Waxed Cardboard Logs

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Have you ever wondered what happens to the waxed cardboard boxes that vegetables are transported in? Most of the time, they’re dumped in landfills. But that’s changing, as they are now being reclaimed and turned into Enviro-Logs, clean-burning logs for your fireplace, campfire, or woodstove. Today, Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) spoke with Ross McRoy, the founder of Enviro-Log, to find out his take on why Enviro-Log is a better choice as an alternative to wood. It’s too hot in Iowa to light a fire this month, so we aren’t able to review Enviro-Log for its quality of fire or length of burn — we’ll get to that in a month or two, when the nights cool down….

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ECOS Free and Clear Laundry Detergent

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Used to be, we had very few choices in laundry detergent. And all of them had fragrances that were so strong people could smell us coming. Now, with Free and Clear detergents as an option, we no longer have to walk around smelling like some chemist’s idea of nature. ECOS Free and Clear All Natural Laundry Detergent is one of many options available to people like me, who would rather not have to smell my clothing all day (or anyone else’s).

But there are other good things about this item in the Earth Friendly Products line, like no itching….

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Rescuing a Young Bird

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Recently, while Joe and I were visiting his brother, Jim, a neighbor rapped insistently on the front door. “Have you got a ladder?” he asked, breathless after hurrying across the road. “There’s a bird hanging by its leg from the eave of my house.”

As it happens, Jim does have a ladder. So he and Joe and the neighbor, Jake, headed over to see what they could do to rescue the poor creature. I grabbed my camera and tagged along.

At Jake’s house, we looked up to see a dark gray bird dangling upside down from the roof. It was held there by a string so thin that the bird appeared to be suspended in a rather crazy-looking, head-down flight. It was struggling to free itself, but there was no hope that it would succeed unaided. And with its wild wing-flapping, the young animal was in danger of having the string cut through its leg….

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What’s Your Steel IQ?

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When artist Alli ReauVeau talks about steel, the medium on which she paints, she gets passionate. And one look at the gorgeous artworks she creates convinces us that steel is a perfect “canvas,” indeed. But there’s much more about steel that ReauVeau admires from a construction and architectural viewpoint — and she knows whereof she speaks.

ReauVeau is co-owner, along with her husband, Alan Bendawald, of Steel IQ™, suppliers of an environmentally friendly construction product called Bare Naked Steel™. ReauVeau serves as Education Specialist for the company, sharing the message that Bare Naked Steel is the best steel for construction, for architectural design, and for the planet….

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Dispose of Fluorescents As If Your Life Depends on It

July 31, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, CFLs, Front Page, Landfill, Mercury, Recycling, U.S., Water

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A few days ago, Joe and I were talking with the manager of a local discount store (part of a national chain) and asked what they did with their spent fluorescent light bulbs. She sheepishly hung her head and said, “Well, I know we should recycle them, but…” Our state doesn’t require that fluorescent bulbs be treated as hazardous wastes, so the store manager isn’t breaking the law. But it was obvious to us that she feels guilty about dumping them in the landfill.

Although the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has included fluorescent bulbs under Universal Waste regulations since 2001. Although EPA considers fluorescent bulbs to be hazardous wastes, their disposal in landfills is permitted. But it’s not the best policy. …

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Event Banners Get New Life as RetroActif Fashion Accessories

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Take a walk through any major city, and you’ll see tall banners fluttering from light poles or hanging from rooftops on the sides of a museum. Most are colorful and attractive. Some are splashy, with eye-catching designs. Nearly all are time-sensitive, advertising this month’s music festival, tomorrow’s convention, or next weekend’s exhibit.

Because banners have to survive the elements day and night — often for months at a time — the material they’re made from is generally not biodegradable. So what happens to these used banners? Do they retire to a storeroom to collect dust, or make a one-way trip to the landfill?

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Beverage Container Laws Expanding in Several States

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When bottled water first appeared on product shelves, I initially thought it was a waste of money. I held off for a long time. Eventually, like many of you, I saw the relatively small investment as a fair exchange for the convenience of portability. It was an attractive lure. I bit. And I bought. And bought. And bought.

Now that I’m deeply steeped in environmental issues, I have come to understand the disaster of bottled water. Aside from questions about the quality of the water and the safety of the plastic bottles themselves — significant issues, for sure — there’s the problem of waste. Millions of plastic water bottles get tossed in our waterways, lie smashed on our roads, litter our green spaces, or end up in our landfills. In the best-case scenario, they get recycled into other products.

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Green Living — A Beginner’s Guide

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If you’re just beginning your green journey, it may seem like there’s so much to catch up on: organic food, holistic medicine, natural fibers, hybrid vehicles, and so much more. In general, green living is about making changes to reduce the amounts of natural resources we humans use (and, more importantly, waste), and to becoming a caretaker of our remaining natural resources. It’s about working toward sustainabilty for our society and our planet.

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Notes from India: “Clean Lucknow, Green Lucknow”

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I’ve spent my entire life in India, but have yet to see a trashcan anywhere on the streets. I guess that’s the reason why there’s a big pile of garbage at most street corners, especially in the residential areas. My family, and others in our neighborhood in Lucknow, will burn any garbage left on the street, so there are no smells, no germs in the air, and no filth outside the house.

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Notes from Serbia: Ending Litter through Laws and Education

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Blue Planet Green Living invites our readers around the world to send us reports about the environment in their home countries. In the first of the “Notes from ….” series, we published a post from Jagdish Poudel, an environmental science student from Nepal. Today, we are pleased to share a report from Snezana Pavlovic, a 25-year-old student of Balkan languages from Niš, Serbia. “Avoiding pollution and ecology are my passion and hobby,” Snezana writes.

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Solution to Conference Waste Is in the Bag

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If you’ve been a registered participant at a conference or trade show, chances are you’ve walked away with a conference bag. Have you ever wondered what happens to the extra bags that no one picks up? Tens of thousands of conference bags are dumped in landfills every year, and most of us never give it a thought.

Not so for Jeff Johnson. In an email, Jeff shared with us a bit about his personal crusade to put conference bags to good use. We were so intrigued, we wanted to share his letter with our readers.

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Rewards for Recycling

December 16, 2008 by  
Filed under Blog, Ecopreneurs, Front Page, Landfill, New York, Recycling

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I know your kind. You recycle. You care about the planet. You might even be a tree hugger. You don’t want to dump things in the landfill if there’s a way to extend their lives for another go. But not everyone can be bothered. If the environmental mess we’re in isn’t enough to motivate them, what will? That’s one of the questions Ron Gonen had to figure out while developing the business model for his innovative, young company, RecycleBank.

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We’re Dreaming of a Green Holiday

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Between Thanksgiving and New Years Day, Americans take an additional 25% of waste to the curb. That amounts to over 25 million tons of trash for the holiday season.
If every family reused just 2 ft. of ribbon from holidays past, that would save 38,000 miles of ribbon — enough to literally tie a big bow around the entire planet. 2.7 million holiday cards are sent across the country too — that’s enough to fill an entire football field 10 stories high!

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Ecopreneur Makes Paper in Paradise

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“Waste is a resource. But when people think of waste, they usually think of it as trash, rather asking, What can we do with it?

“Everything we use at Costa Rica Natural paper products is totally disregarded material,” says Harry Johansing, the company’s founder. “There’s no other use for it. When I approach a new fiber, I look at it as, Is this completely trash? and then I ask, How can I use it?

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Green Carpenter “Turns Liabilities into Assets”

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“If you’re building a LEED-certified house in Iowa, but you fly the bamboo flooring in from California or China, that’s not green,” says carpenter Roger Gwinnup. “On the other hand” he points out, “you can pull up the oak flooring in an old house that’s being torn down, then drive across town and nail it in place in another house. That’s greener.

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Keeping Recyclers in the “Green”

December 10, 2008 by  
Filed under Blog, Front Page, Iowa, Landfill, Post-Consumer Waste, Tips

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With the economic downturn, the markets for recyclable materials is shrinking. But there’s still hope for this green industry. “Keep bringing us your clean recyclable materials. And follow the guidelines for sorting. The economy will recover, and if we can keep our expenses in line, we’ll still be here once the market improves,” says Brian Holtz, vice president of sales and marketing at City Carton in Iowa City.

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Rescuing Architectural Treasures

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You might say the Salvage Barn is a temporary refuge. Architectural castoffs from another time (or, more accurately, times) line the walls, drawers, and shelves. Even the rafters get in on the act, with antique carousel horses hanging high over visitors’ heads.

Walk through the aisles, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by rescued pieces that barely escaped burial in the landfill: wooden corbels; tongue-and-groove flooring; antique light fixtures; drawers full of doorknobs; a hundred-year-old, oak staircase; and even a picket fence. True to its name, the Salvage Barn sells architectural items that have been saved from buildings in the nick of time, before being lost forever to the wrecking ball.

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The House Recyclers

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“We weren’t born with silver spoons in our mouths,” says Lucille Duwa. She stands in the shell of the two-story farmhouse where she and her husband raised their children. In the rooms around her, workers are tearing out floorboards and removing doors. “Leroy and I don’t like to see things that can be used get destroyed,” she adds.

Parts of Mr. and Mrs. Duwas’ 1870s-era home are being salvaged by Friends of Historic Preservation (FHP). The Duwas no longer need this large, old home, as they’ve built a smaller, newer home beside it. Volunteers are saving what they can of the house’s architectural features to take to the FHP’s Salvage Barn. The ultimate goal is for these treasures to be recycled into other projects by new owners.

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Donate Your Cell Phone

November 14, 2008 by  
Filed under Batteries, Blog, Cell Phones, Front Page, Landfill, Tips

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Do a quick online search for places to donate your old cell phone, and soon your head will be spinning with choices.

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