Archive for the 'Holidays' Category

Happy P2 Week! (Sept. 19-25, 2011)

Monday, September 19th, 2011 by

P2 Week Poster 2011Happy Pollution Prevention (P2) Week! Celebrated during the third full week of September every year, P2 Week is a time to reflect on what you and/or your organization are currently doing to promote pollution prevention and sustainability, as well as a prime time to consider what more you could be doing. Check out the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable (NPPR) web site and the US EPA site for more information on activities taking place this week throughout the country; tips for increasing energy efficiency, reducing waste and sustainable practices; and news. (And of course, you can always browse through the online resources on the GLRPPR and P2Rx web sites for more information and best practices specific to your sector.)

In the Great Lakes region, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) and the Indiana Partners for Pollution Prevention (P4P2) will be hosting the 14th Annual Pollution Prevention Conference and Trade Show on Thursday, September 22.

GLRPPR’s sister Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx) center, the Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center (PPRC) is hosting a 20th anniversary banquet for its regional P2 roundtable during P2 Week.  Highlights will include a presentation by Dara O’Rourke, founder of the Good Guide, and former PPRC staff member.

And to kick off P2 Week, P2Rx has announced the launch of the National Sustainable Lodging Network, an online community of sustainable hospitality practitioners and an information clearinghouse to support the work of this community, found online at www.SustainableLodging.org. This site brings lodging operations together with federal, state, local, and tribal sustainable hospitality programs, including environmental agencies, tourism boards, and lodging associations. The goals for the site are to provide forums for sustainable hospitality practitioners to share information on practices and challenges; elevate sustainable hospitality programs and the facilities that participate in them; increase the adoption of sustainable hospitality practices nationwide; and foster innovation in sustainable lodging through the exchange of ideas.

If your organization or community is hosting a special event this week, tell us about it in the comments section of this post.

Green Gestures: Thinking Outside the Gift Box

Thursday, September 8th, 2011 by
Earth in hand

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

I’ve seen many guides to green gifts, both generic and occasion-specific. But I realized recently that there are not many, if any, guides focused on green gestures. This is the phrase I use when thinking of gifts related to sustainability that do not involve giving a tangible item to the recipient. Instead, green gestures are more symbolic for the recipient or honoree, but they may indeed have tangible benefits for the environment or for society in general. Green gestures are good to keep in mind for the person who seemingly has everything, or for acquaintances or colleagues for whom you do not have a good sense of interests and preferences. Green gestures are also a good solution to expressing appreciation when ethical considerations can make giving or receiving tangible gifts undesirable or inappropriate. An example would be thanking an elected official for speaking at your event. Such gestures are often also used as memorials or to celebrate special occasions like a birth, a wedding, or a retirement. This list is by no means exhaustive (feel free to share your ideas in the “Comments” section of this post), and should not be construed as an endorsement of any of the items or organizations listed by GLRPPR or its host agency, the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center. This list is for informational purposes only, and is meant to help you start thinking outside the gift box.

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Happy P2 Week (Sept. 20-26)!

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010 by

National Pollution Prevention (P2) Week is in full swing, and it’s a great time to consider and celebrate what your organization or business, and you as an individual, are doing to prevent pollution in the first place. Promoting the idea of eliminating waste before it is even created is obviously one of the major objectives of organizations like the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR).

This year is particularly special, because it marks the 20th Anniversary of the passing of the Federal Pollution Prevention Act (PPA), which established the national policy that pollution should be prevented or reduced at the source whenever feasible. According to the U.S. EPA’s Pollution Prevention (P2) home page, “Pollution prevention (P2) is reducing or eliminating waste at the source by modifying production processes, promoting the use of non-toxic or less-toxic substances, implementing conservation techniques, and re-using materials rather than putting them into the waste stream.” The best way to solve a problem is to revise your actions to prevent the problem from occurring in the first place. Pollution prevention not only protects the environment and public health, it also conveys economic benefits in terms of increased efficiency and lessening the financial burden associated with waste disposal, toxic clean up, and other liability issues.

The following links will help you learn more about P2 Week and some of this year’s celebrations. I encourage you to share what you and/or your organization is doing for P2 Week in the “Comments” section of this post.

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Red, White, Blue & Green: Independence Day P2

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009 by

fireworksThe Fourth of July approaches. For those of us in the U.S. portion of the Great Lakes region, thoughts of Independence Day fireworks displays, parades and outdoor parties beckon from the weekend. While preparing for the festivities, you may want to consider how pollution prevention (P2) relates and include a little green with your red, white and blue.

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Celebrate Earth Day April 22

Friday, April 18th, 2008 by

Earth Day is next Tuesday, and if you’re interested in finding local events to participate in, check out the Earth Day Network web site.  In the “Earth Day Events” section of that site, you can search for events by keyword, location or date.  You can also view a list of all the events submitted to the EDN site or submit a description of your own Earth Day event.

If your company or organization is planning a special event or activity for Earth Day, consider sharing your plans in the “Comments” area of this post–you might give another organization a great idea for next year.

P2 Go Bragh: Emerald Isle

Monday, March 17th, 2008 by

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! For those of us of Irish descent (and those who pretend to be Irish, if just for today), I thought it would be appropriate to spend some time considering environmental initiatives in Ireland. Here are a few examples of green activities on the Emerald Isle:

  • Wind Power: According to Sustainable Energy Ireland, “wind energy provides electricity to the equivalent of 40 million European citizens, and wind farms in Ireland supply enough clean green power to support over 146,000 users.” Their web site provides an interactive map of existing wind farms in Ireland (as of April 2007). A recent post on the Green Tech Blog (“Ireland: Where Wind Power is King” by Michael Kanellos) discusses the great potential for further wind farm development on the island, both on and offshore.
  • Cultivate Living and Learning Centre: The Cultivate Centre in Dublin serves as a hub for environmental activities and ideas. Their web site provides a green map of Dublin; environmental workshop listing; a directory of schools, businesses and other organizations in Ireland that are teaching or training and have principles of sustainability rooted in their mission and strategies; information on energy issues and climate change; and a host of other resources. The themes addressed in their educational programs include green building, permaculture and organic gardening, renewable energy, energy conservation, and rethinking urban design and planning.
  • Cleaner Greener Production Programme (CGPP): This program of Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency encourages Irish business and industry to produce goods and services in more environmentally friendly ways. That agency defines “Cleaner Greener Production” as “the application of integrated preventive environmental strategies to processes, products and services to increase overall efficiency and reduce risks to humans and the environment, for example: (1) Production processes: conserving raw materials and energy, eliminating toxic raw materials and reducing the quantity and toxicity of all emissions and wastes (2) Products: reducing negative impacts along the life cycle of a product, from raw materials extraction to its ultimate disposal (3) Services: encouraging and supporting the development of higher environmental performance in the service sector, by incorporating environmental concerns into designing and delivering services.”

CGPP logo

P2 Go Bragh: Kiss Me, I Recycle

Saturday, March 15th, 2008 by

Cheers to the folks at Green Guardian for using the upcoming holiday to promote container recycling. GreenGuardian.com is a web site created to promote environmentally responsible purchasing and disposal choices among the citizens of Minnesota’s Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. The site is sponsored by the region’s Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board (SWMCB) and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), and is organized into sections geared specifically toward residents, businesses and children.

I receive their electronic Green Tips newsletter, and was pleased to see them taking the opportunity to tie St. Patrick’s Day to raising environmental awareness. The lead story in the latest newsletter was entitled “Kiss Me, I Recycle” and is an obvious play on the “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” slogan you’re likely to see emblazoned on t-shirts, buttons and hats starting this weekend. (Incidentally, the SWMCB web site provides a handy “Kiss Me, I Recycle” St. Patrick’s Day button template for anyone interested in wearing green and simultaneously promoting green activities.) As eluded to in my previous post, there are likely to be lots of bottles and cans associated with St. Patrick’s Day festivities, and the SWMCB and MPCA are trying to ensure that folks consider recycling and are aware of how to properly recycle as well as what can be recycled. The “Kiss Me, I Recycle” story links to a helpful can and bottle recycling guide on GreenGuardian.com. The guide not only tells you what and how to recycle (which is strictly speaking, not pollution prevention since it’s an “end of the pipe” sort of activity) but also highlights the energy savings associated with recycling, as well as the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, air and water pollution, and water consumption that result from recycling containers as opposed to throwing them in the trash–all of which are important environmental benefits that are certainly complimentary to P2 activities.

This sort of campaign got me thinking about opportunities for similar outreach activities on college campuses. For example, I’ve heard that Mather House at Harvard University has a “green happy hour” for St. Patrick’s Day that involves the promotion of recycling, sustainability and waste reduction. I’m curious to know if other campuses have been involved in similar activities, perhaps on a wider scale. If you know of a “Green St. Patrick’s Day” event or promotion at a college or university, or if your organization, like SWMCB and MPCA, is tying environmental awareness campaigns to St. Patrick’s Day, please take a minute to share what you’ve done in the “Comments” section for this post.

Kiss Me, I Recycle

P2 Go Bragh: A Different Shade of Green Beer

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008 by

The first installment in this series concerns something other than Irish heritage that, for better or worse, has become inextricably linked to the celebration of the holiday in the U.S.: beer. Although this alcoholic beverage is sometimes dyed green for the sake of St. Patrick’s Day parties, the following resources relate to beer and brewing practices that are green in the sense of their environmental impacts.

As is the trend with most organic foods and beverages, organic beer is becoming more and more widely available as even big box retailers climb aboard the “green products are good for public relations, profits and the environment” train. Co-op America offers an overview of organic beer and wine as well as the rationale for choosing locally produced beers whenever possible (to reduce negative effects of long distance shipping, among other reasons). You can also search their National Green Pages under “Wine/Beer” for examples of breweries that produce organic beer. There is also a North American Organic Brewers Festival, scheduled this year for June 27-29 in Portland, Oregon. The festival web site lists the participating breweries and the beers they’re presenting.

For those of you, like my husband, who enjoy brewing your own beer at home, you might find the Seven Bridges Cooperative an interesting resource. Based in California, Seven Bridges provides certified organic ingredients for home brewing, such as organically grown hops and grains.

Interestingly, organic beer became the topic of controversy last year, as the USDA added to the list of non-organic ingredients that may compose 5% of a product by weight and still allow that product to bear the label “organic.” Hops were on the list, and while critical to the production of beer, they do make up less than 5% of the finished product by weight. The Organic Consumers Association was outraged by what it termed the “Budweiser Exception” that could allow big brewing companies to mass produce “organic” beers without using organically grown hops; the controversy was covered by MSNBC. Anheuser-Busch has since switched to using 100% organic hops. See the USDA’s web site for more information on organic food standards and labels.

Turning to waste reduction and efficiency in the brewing process, regardless of the use of organic ingredients, the March/April 2007 edition of In Business magazine featured a profile of Mad River Brewing Company in Blue Lake, California, which recycles or reuses 98% of its residuals, with a goal toward generating zero waste. The April 2007 edition of eco-structure Magazine included a look at the sustainable practices of New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado. Among other things, the company purchases wind energy to power 100% of its brewery’s operations, the packaging hall was designed with energy efficiency in mind, and the brewhouse features a closed-loop heating system. For more information about New Belgium’s sustainability initiatives, see their web site.

For an example of sustainable initiatives at a brewery within the Great Lakes region, check out Michigan DEQ’s case study on the Leopold Bros. of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Goose Island Brewery in Chicago, Illinois is also a founding member of the Chicago Waste to Profit Network. An article from the October 2000 edition of Conscious Choice discusses several organic beers, including Goose Island’s organic beer production and partnering with Panorama Brewing Company to produce Wolaver’s Organic Ales regionally. Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin was the first brewery in that state and the first business in Milwaukee to receive the Travel Green Wisconsin certification from the state’s Department of Tourism. Check out the brewery’s web site detailing what they’ve done to reduce their environmental and social impact and earn this recognition.

For more resources related to P2 for breweries, check out the GLRPPR Food Processing Sector Resource. I’ll be adding a “Beverage Manufacturing” subcategory in the near future to make finding resources related to brewing and other beverage production within this Sector Resource easier.

P2 Go Bragh

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008 by

ShamrockSt. Patrick’s Day is less than a week away, and as someone with Celtic roots who is also married to someone with Celtic roots, this is a big deal to me. Connecting with our Irish heritage is a major part of the celebration of this holiday in the U.S. It’s an even bigger deal for me because St. Patrick’s Day is also my mother’s birthday (and you guessed it—her name is Patricia).

Whenever a holiday approaches, I like to consider how pollution prevention applies. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day and my sainted mother, I’ll be taking some time over the next few days to ponder a different shade of “green” than the one you’ll find on “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” t-shirts. Happy Birthday, Ma! [Note that my mother will likely never read this; she doesn’t own a computer and is as non-technical as a person can be. Try as I might, I can’t get her to understand what it is I do for a living. She knows it involves “environmental stuff” and computers, and that it is somehow tied to the University of Illinois. Still, she’s the greatest, and without her I could never have grown up into a person who cares about the environment and concepts such as pollution prevention (P2).]

If you’re interested in finding out more about St. Patrick’s Day in general, check out Wikipedia and the History Channel. Also, the name for this series of posts (“P2 Go Bragh”) comes from the incorrectly spelled, Anglicized phrase “Erin go Bragh,” which is intended to mean “Ireland forever” (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erin_Go_Bragh). Thus, this series of posts is in the spirit of “pollution prevention forever” and sustainability.

Be My Green Valentine

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008 by

Check out last year’s “Red Roses, Green Hearts” post for great information on how to show your love for the environment this Valentine’s Day. As of 2/13/08, all the links included in that post are still active. That post includes information on organic flowers; green gift guides; organic and fair trade chocolate, wine and coffee; safety ratings for perfume and cologne; and green restaurants.

The Chicago Edition of Ideal Bite also reports that the InterContinental Chicago is offering a green valentine hotel package for $219 a night and up, February 14-16. They also recently featured information on Ellie Thompson, a Chicago jewelry designer that uses reclaimed metals and fair-trade gems to create wearable works of art, if you’re considering jewelry for your special someone. The national Ideal Bite also offers additional information on organic flowers.

New American Dream’s Conscious Consumer Marketplace can also help you find environmentally and socially responsible Valentine’s Day gifts, such as flowers, chocolate, and jewelry. TreeHugger has also compiled a Valentine’s Day Gift Guide.

Finally, consider an electronic card instead of a paper one. For example, the National Wildlife Federation has Valentine’s Day e-cards available.