Friday, October 28, 2011

ACT NOW plea to the Malaysian Govt and Citizens

The following news article was featured in THE STAR 28th October, 2011


Act now to lessen impact of climate change, Govt urged

An environmentalist wants the Government to take steps to lessen the impact of unusual rainfall due to climate change.

Centre for Environment, Tech­nology and Development Malaysia (Cetdem) chairman Gurmit Singh said it should prohibit development in flood-prone areas.

He said some developers build their infrastructure in low-lying deltas and coastal areas where floods occur.

“They must realise that a change in climate is already taking place and policies must be implemented so Malaysia will not end up like Thailand.”

Thailand is facing its worst floods and people and businesses are forced to build water barriers around their homes and workplaces.

Drainage and Irrigation Depart­ment (DID) national hydrology and water resources division director Datuk Lim Chow Hock said Malaysia was receiving higher-than-average rainfall even when it wasn’t the monsoon season.

“In terms of national average, we received some 2,400mm per year in the peninsula alone,” he said.

“We estimate that the figures will be much higher this year.

Given the current outlook, the level will spiral to at least 2,700mm while Sabah and Sarawak can go up to 3,000mm of rain this year,” he told The Star.

He said this year’s rainfall was exceptionally higher.

“Prolonged light rain in a few days followed by at least twice heavy rain in a month from November until March could lead to flooding.”

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tips on How To Save the Environment (Part 8) - YOUR WORK

Most of us spend the better part of our 24-hour day in our workplace. It is also the place where we are most likely confronted with non-environmental friendly items. Taking the initiative and leading the way to a Greener workplace will help enhance the efficiency and the work performance of you and your staff. Your colleagues may just be waiting for you to take the initiative and the first step to start the ball rolling.... GO FOR IT! And here's some quick tips on how to go about it (opt for those applicable to your situation). (Greensleeves)


Recycling Program: If a recycling program has not already been started at your company, start one yourself (or improve the program already in place). Learn more at Recycling in the Workplace.

Recycled Material: Encourage the office/purchasing manager to purchase products containing recycled material (paper, plastic, etc.). Learn more at Recycled Plastic Products (U.S. and Canada).

•Materials Exchange: You can find exchange programs at Recycler's World and State-specific Materials Exchange Programs (U.S.)

Product Design: Better by Design helps in designing environmentally friendly products.

Green Purchasing: Learn about green purchases through:
◦Responsible Purchasing Network
◦Green Seal of Approval
◦Purchasing environmentally-friendly building products (free software)
◦Environmental Yellow Pages
◦Green Pages Online

•Energy Reduction: Schedule an energy audit through your local energy provider to determine how to reduce energy use. Learn more at Energy Star for Small Business.

Environmental Policy: Strategic Planning resources for defining your company's environmental policy:
◦Source Reduction
◦Waste Prevention World
◦WasteWi$e (EPA)
◦National Environmental Performance Track (EPA)
◦Other EPA Voluntary Programs
◦Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives (ZERI)
◦The Natural Step
◦Natural Capitalism
◦Cradle to Cradle
◦CERES (Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies)

Green Meetings and Conventions: A growing number of businesses are greening their meetings and conventions. Get started with 10 Easy Tips. Learn more through the EPA and the Green Meeting Industry Council.

Green Building: Encourage your company to look into building or leasing space in a "green" building. The EPA can provide information through their Business Improvement program.

Shipping: Whenever possible, choose environmentally-friendly packaging material. If your company uses pallets to ship boxes stabilized with stretch wrap, strapping, or corner boards, look into switching to more environmentally-friendly unitizing systems such as Lock n' Pop (no endorsement intended).

Junk Mail: Check into ways to reduce business junk mail

•Computers: Buy refurbished computers for less. Also consider donating used computer equipment. If you purchase new equipment, the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool and Guide to Greener Electronics can help you make greener choices.

•Zero Waste: EPA: Zero Waste and Zero Waste Alliance provide information on shifting your business toward producing zero waste.

Reusing Ink Cartridges: Cartridge World will refill your printer cartridges at half retail price.

Renewable Energy Certificates (REC): If you don't have the ability to switch to renewable energy, consider buying an REC which let's you essentially purchase renewable energy without switching electricity suppliers.

Paper Use: Use both sides of each piece of paper -- for note taking or printing documents from your computer (at home or work). At work, designate a printer to be stocked with once-used paper for drafts. Where possible, configure computer systems to automatically hold documents in printer queues so that manual release is required to print the document. Create notepads by stapling together once-used paper.

Office Supplies: Create a used supplies drawer and ask employees to place any unwanted office supplies from work or home in the drawer for reuse.

•Lunch: Pack a Waste-Free Lunch whenever possible.

•Break Room: Ask co-workers to bring their unwanted cups, mugs, plates, cloth napkins, and silverware to work to replace disposable items.

•Green Hotels: Encourage your company to use the Green Hotel Initiative's Best Practices Survey to determine which hotels to book traveling employees or visitors at.

•Environmental Career: Looking for an environmental job? Check out:
◦NRDC Green Jobs
◦Environmental Jobs and Careers
◦Environmental Career Opportunities
◦Green Jobs Ready
◦Business for Social Responsibility
◦Green Dream Jobs
◦ Job Listings
◦Environmental Jobs
◦Employment, Career, Volunteer Opportunities
◦WebDirectory Environmental Job Listing Sites

Tips on How to Save the Environment (Part 7) - Your Home & Finances

The Home is the best place to begin our campaign against global warming. Making our homes a safe haven for our loved ones should be everyone's top priority in terms of our health and well-being. Start out by making sure we are not using any chemical-laden cleaning agents which are not only harmful to us but to our pets as well. Every bit counts - and our loved ones are counting on us to take the lead on alternative and healthier household products. (Greensleeves)

Part (7) on How we Can Help Save the Environment shows the many ways we can make our homes a safer place to dwell in....


Create a non-toxic, safe home for your family and pets. Gather up all products in your house or garage that contain unsafe chemicals and drop off at your local hazardous waste facility. Switch to alternatives containing nontoxic and biodegradable ingredients (some products labeled 'green' aren't really safe - look for green certification labels).

Hazardous Waste
: Dispose of the following products at a hazardous waste facility:

◦Building Materials - paint , varnish, paint thinner, solvents, rust remover, wood preservatives and driveway sealer

Automotive products - gasoline, transmission oil, brake fluid, kerosene, charcoal lighter fluid, power steering fluid, used motor oil,used oil filters, used antifreeze

Household cleaners - spot removers, rug cleaners, metal cleaners, bathroom cleaners, oven cleaner, drain cleaner

◦Pesticides - insect killers, weed killers, flea products, moth crystals, fertilizers with weed killer

Miscellaneous - photographic chemicals, acids and corrosive chemicals, pool chemicals, compact fluorescent light bulbs (mercury) , mercury thermometers, Ni-Cd batteries.

HOME MADE PRODUCTS : Suggested recipes for home-made cleaning products:

Make Your Own Nontoxic Cleaning Kit
Link :

All-Purpose Spray Cleaner
Link :

The Healthy Home
Link :

Better Basics for the Home is a great resource book.

Green Certified Products: The Eco-labels center evaluates the different eco-label programs so that you can pick your products based on the most rigorous certification processes.

Dry Cleaning: If available, clean your "dry clean only" clothes at a dry cleaning facility that uses wet cleaning techniques. Or, safer yet, when
possible avoid purchasing clothes that require dry cleaning.

•Clothing: Whenever possible, buy clothing made from organic cotton and/or hemp. Locate a store that sells organic cotton products through the International Organic Cotton Directory.

•Soap Nuts: Check out environmentally-friendly soap nuts (Sapindus) to replace your laundry detergent. It can also be used as a general cleaning soap.

•PVC: Avoid purchasing plastic #3, PVC/vinyl. Information: PVC Alternatives Database and waste crisis from disposal of PVC.

•Plants: Learn about the top plants for removing toxins from the air in your home in the article: Using Plants to Clean Indoor Air Pollutants.

Natural Body Products
•Natural Products: You can find nontoxic products at SkinDeep: Cosmetic Safety Database. Head over to your local natural products store to pick up natural, cruelty-free body products.

•Cruelty-Free: To learn about and find cruelty-free products, check out Animal Ingredients and Their Alternatives and Companies That Don't Test on Animals.

•Home-Made: Great book on safe, home-made personal care products.

Building or Remodeling Your Home
•Contractor: Find a building contractor who will follow the Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star Homes Program. You can locate a "green building" professional through the Green Building Council Directory.

Resources: Access the Sustainable Building Sourcebook and/or Green Building Concepts for information about building an environmentally-friendly home.

New Home Location: If you are considering building a new home, seek out a location that has already been built on in the past (vs. building on "pristine" land).

Energy Efficient Mortgages (U.S.): EEM's let you borrow extra money to pay for energy efficient upgrades to your current home or a new or old home that you plan to buy.

Building Materials: Building material ideas (no endorsement of any company intended):
◦Eco-Friendly Flooring Guide
◦straw bale
◦bamboo -- two sites to check out: Plyboo and Teragren
◦true (natural) linoleum
◦previously used wood -- one site to check out: Vintage Timber Works
◦cob -- three sites to check out: Cob, Cob Cottage, and EcoBusiness-Cob Building Resources
◦composite decking -- The Latest Trend in Decking
◦samples of sustainable flooring material
◦rammed earth homes
◦ -- plant-based roofing
◦sustainably harvested wood -- search for suppliers through the Forest Stewardship Council

Buy/Sell Green Home: If you are looking to buy or sell a green home, check out ListedGreen.

•Roadmap: The New Roadmap Foundation's Your Money or Your Life program offers a wonderful nine-step program for personal financial transformation.
( Blogger's Note: Or check with your local banks for GREEN Investments available )

Investing: Information on environmentally and socially responsible investing can be found at:
◦Socially Responsible Investing (article/links)
◦Social Investment Forum
◦GreenMoney Online Guide
◦Ethical Investment Research Service

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What is Biodegradable Plastic anyway?


By: Lisa Fletcher, Tofino

The other day, a friend of mine commented on the number of green doggie bags she'd noticed littered along the beach. Granted, no one likes the sight of or to step in dog poo, but somehow wrapping it up in a neat little package and leaving it on the beach doesn't make sense either. This got me thinking about these biodegradable plastic bags. Do they really breakdown completely, even in our chilly Pacific Ocean? We've definitely come a long way with the use of plastic bags, but this whole 'biodegradable' phenomenon has somehow managed to ease people's minds without a second thought.

First, a few terms: Degradable is given to a substance that can be broken down by natural processes into smaller parts, with no time frame for when it will break down. Everything is 'degradable' eventually, even if it takes 1000's of years.

Photodegradable is given to a substance that breaks down with exposure to ultraviolet light (uv). Biodegradable materials can be broken down completely by naturally occurring microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, and algae) and converted in raw materials of nature. Compostable refers to something being biodegradable within in a certain time frame, under typical composting conditions.

Until recently, plastics were commonly used. We now know that plastics, being made from oil, may not be the most sustainable solution. They are harmful to wildlife and can take 1000's of years to decompose. As a 'greener' solution, biodegradable plastics have been manufactured from a variety of materials, including starch-based polymers (potato, corn, wheat or tapioca starch), polyester (still made from oil products), water-soluble polymers, polymers that degrade with light or oxygen, or a blend of these.

Two very common types of biodegradable plastics are oxo-biodegradable and hydro-biodegradable. Oxo-biodegradable plastics are usually still made from an oil by-product but contain an additive, allowing them to break down in the presence of oxygen to be consumed by microorganisms. Hydro-biodegradable plastics are starch-based plastics (sometimes a blend with oil-based material) that degrade with moisture. Bags made of 100% cornstarch can break down very quickly in the right conditions. The more starch in the blend, the faster it will degrade. However, the controversy with starch products is similar to that of the bio-fuel debate; food crops for non-food use. Although hydro-biodegradable plastics tend to degrade faster, oxo-biodegradable plastics are used more often because they are less expensive and easier to manufacture.

Common misconceptions of these 'green' solutions are that they can be recycled, composted or sent to the landfill where they will completely breakdown. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Biodegradable plastics vary in the rate that they degrade and in their effects on the environment, depending on what they are made from. Many products cannot be recycled because there are few facilities set up for it. If they are added to regular plastic recycling, they can 'contaminate' the process because they are made from different substances. Plastic bags labeled "compostable" have passed a standard test to break down within a specific time period. For plastics to be compostable they must:

1.Break down into carbon dioxide (CO2), water and biomass.
2.Decompose at the same rate as other compostable materials (like plants).
3.Not emit any type of toxin into the environment.

Of course, each compost time varies depending on substances, amount of air it receives, and how often it is turned. As for sending things to the landfill, in all reality anything bio?degradable that ends up in a landfill probably does not get enough oxygen, sun, or dirt (or microorganisms) it needs to return to the earth naturally. Most gets buried and therefore stays relatively intact (this is why you can find newspapers from 20 years ago). Some landfills are now actually being designed to promote biodegradation through the injection of water, oxygen, and even microbes, which could potentially even be marketable for soil.

The topic of biodegradable plastics is pretty complicated. It seems the more heat, moisture, and air there is, the faster things will degrade. As for the little green bags, I'm not sure how they decompose in the frigid waters of the Pacific Ocean, but they do have 'Do Not Litter' written right on them. Ultimately it is up to consumers to find out the proper disposal methods of biodegradable plastics. It seems to me that by reducing our dependency on plastics, whether they are biodegradable or not, is part of the solution.


After finishing years of university, Lisa finally gets to save the world!



Biodegradable food containers are touted as a solution to our throwaway society but it appears that the answer is not that simple.

CONVENTIONAL plastics have been accused of a slew of crimes. They are said to deplete non-renewable resources such as oil and when disposed off, degrade extremely slowly, if at all. When carelessly discarded, they are an eyesore and can choke wildlife. They are also said to take up valuable landfill space.

This has led to a plethora of measures to replace plastics, especially for single-use applications, with other materials such as paper or bioplastics made of plant-based materials, like starch or complex sugars.

The central assumption behind such thinking is that paper or starch-based materials will degrade quickly and leave no trace after a few months or a year or two (common assumptions by people on what biodegradability is all about).

The move to replace plastics – such as shopping bags, packaging, food containers (clamshells, plates, cups, bowls) and cutlery – is currently focused on areas where they are the most visible. Penang has banned retailers from handing out free plastic bags to shoppers and disallowed food sellers in municipal council-operated hawker centres from using polystyrene clamshells and plates. Selangor is toying with the same idea.

Manufacturers of alternatives to disposable plastic foodware are quick to trumpet the biodegradability of their products. Selangor-based Greatpac, manufacturer of the Jasa Eco ( range of disposable tableware that is bio-based (a blend of 70% corn starch and 30% conventional polypropylene, or PP), said its products can be expected to degrade within five years after being landfilled.

“We are confident that 70% of the product will degrade and this is still better than totally no degradation,’’ said senior manager Douglas Tan

The company also makes a polystyrene clamshell (codenamed JEF2) which contains additives that will make it biodegrade under low or zero oxygen (anaerobic) conditions. It clarified that while JEF2 is not a bio-based product (like its starch-based series), the clamshell can be expected to biodegrade within two to five years in local landfills (based on extrapolated lab results).

Penang-based Return 2 Green (, which makes clamshell boxes from agricultural waste such as sugarcane bagasse, said its products will “return to nature at 180 days of composting”.

Both companies offer products that need moisture, warmth, oxygen and microbial action to decompose, either partly or totally. This is in contrast to another range of plastic that does not need microbial action to decompose, a phenomenon known as oxodegradability (commonly seen in supermarket shopping bags, such as the ones offered by Carrefour).

Degrees of degradation
However, biodegradability itself is a debatable concept, and in the absence of a qualifying statement, a largely meaningless notion. One would be sadly mistaken if one thinks that putting the used lunchbox or plate into a compost pile would yield great results within weeks, which is what most people expect of a “biodegradable” product.

This plate — made of 70% corn-yam starch and 30% polypropylene — will be compostable if conditions stipulated under the ASTM D6400 are met in a composting facility.

The Great Garbage Project, conducted between 1987 and 1995 by a group of archaeologists from the University of Arizona in the United States, found newspapers which were still readable despite being buried for five years, and even retrieved 40-year-old newspapers from landfills, blowing away the misconception that the landfill is a huge composting facility that will take care of all biodegradable waste.

There are two types of biodegradation: aerobic (in the presence of oxygen) and anaerobic (without oxygen or in very low levels of oxygen). Aerobic degradation gives out water and carbon dioxide, while anaerobic degradation gives out methane, other than carbon dioxide and water. In the hundreds of open dumps found in the country, organic materials get piled up and create anaerobic conditions.

In properly managed sanitary landfills, such as those in North America, the law stipulates that the trash must be kept away, as much as possible, from moisture and sunlight, factors that speed up biodegradation. Hence, scientists now acknowledge that just because a material is organic does not mean that it will decompose as fast as we would like it to.

While it is clear that biodegradation cannot be taken for granted in landfills, Penang is placing its hope that the use of biodegradable foodware will somewhat help slow down the growth of waste. Its executive councillor for the environment, Phee Boon Poh, believes that such items will degrade in landfills, and help with waste management.

Whether a landfill should be managed in such a way as to speed up or retard biodegradability is still an open issue, contends Prof P. Agamuthu of Universiti Malaya’s Institute of Biological Sciences.

The bigger picture of solid waste management is a rather grim one. On a national scale, the current challenge is how to efficiently collect the 20,000 tonnes of waste that is being generated daily.

According to Datuk Dr Nadzri Yahaya, director-general of the National Solid Waste Management Department, there are presently 176 dumpsites, and many more are needed to handle the increasing amount of waste. It is understood that 11 more sanitary landfills will be built under the 10th Malaysia Plan, and five mini incinerators are expected to be running soon.

To Dr Nadzri, using biodegradable foodware is just substituting one throwaway product with another. “What benefit is there with a cornstarch plate replacing a polystyrene plate, when both are thrown out into the bin after use? Promoting throwaways is actually missing the bigger picture,’’ he said.

In countries where waste is incinerated, such as Singapore, biodegradable food containers offer no real benefits over conventional plastic disposables as waste is carted away daily to incinerators.

Even if one is to accept the premise that biodegradable food containers will degrade anaerobically after a few years, it is doubtful whether this will lead to any real improvements in our landfills. The wet waste portion, consisting chiefly of food waste, contributes to around 45% of the average household waste (by weight), and sometimes up to 60%. This is followed by plastics (24%), paper (7%), metals (6%), glass (3%), while other miscellaneous materials make up the remaining 15%. After the extraction of recyclables, the mix that eventually gets buried in the dump contains nearly 70% food waste.

Even Greatpac acknowledges that no biodegradable food containers can degrade in a matter of weeks in our landfills, though it still argued that its products are better compared to plastics, and their decomposition under local conditions surpasses those found in North America. “Regular products may take more than 500 years to break down because they repel microbes but our products will break down between two to five years, which is still a vast improvement,’’ said Tan.

US-based company Natureworks LLC admitted that its polylactic plastic made of corn-derived sources (brand name Ingeo biopolymer, not sold here) will not biodegrade in American landfills “due to the low oxygen concentration and drop in temperature.”

Competing for food?
Some argue against using bioplastics on the grounds that the products employ food materials. Greatpac’s defence is that its products will not have an impact on the overall supply of food as it uses starch that is unfit for human consumption. “Industrial cornstarch comes from corn parts deemed not to be of high enough quality for human consumption. In that process, there is no waste as everything from the stalk to the leaves are used,” said the company on its website.

Likewise, Natureworks, a major producer of PLA (polylactic acid) plastics, said that the sugar (in the form of dextrose) used in its products is derived from corn grown for non-food applications. “Our production utilises dextrose as the base feedstock in a fermentation process which converts sugar to lactic acid. We use that lactic acid to create a polymer, which is later converted to a variety of packaging and fibre applications.

“When our plant is at capacity, Nature­Works LLC will use less than 0.05% of the available annual global corn crop. Our process does not require corn, but we only need a sugar source. This could include sugar beets, sugar cane, wheat and more. In the future we plan to move to non-food cellulosic feedstocks.”

Olive Green argued that hunger is a social phenomenon linked to poverty, and has nothing to do with crop substitution or land use patterns. “People are hungry because they are too poor to buy food. There is a shortage of purchasing power, not a shortage of food. It is not a question of whether we have enough food or how we deal with them, it is a question of how we can distribute the right food, at the right time, to the right people,” said the company on its website (

Dr Theng Lee Chong, a solid waste management specialist, remains sceptical of such claims. “Starch is food, no matter if it is low-grade starch, or high-grade starch. Making food service utensils from these so-called renewable materials is akin to diverting food from the masses. Can we tell a starving African that low-grade starch cannot be eaten? And planting crops for the production of bioplastics would mean that real food crops would have to give way. There is always an opportunity cost to be paid.”

Biodegradable foodware also loses a bit of lustre when they are viewed from a life cycle inventory analysis (LCI) perspective.

The widespread cultivation of corn for plastics is not possible without a significant input of fossil fuel that comes in the form of fuel and electricity used by farm machinery, fertilisers (derived from oil), transport, and water consumption.

“From an LCI perspective, biodegradable plastics do have negative impacts, when you grow tapioca or corn just to produce it. So, the best thing is to avoid plastics in all forms and to use reusable containers,’’ said Agamuthu.

The Singapore National Environment Agency, for instance, specifies the use of reusable tableware when procuring catering services whenever possible, and encourages partners and other public sector agencies to be environmentally friendly in the organisation of events.

More methane
At the moment, the high percentage of food waste in Malaysia ends up producing landfill gas containing approximately 50% to 60% methane (by volume), and most is just vented into the atmosphere without any flaring or gas-capture systems. As methane has a global-warming potential 21 times greater than CO2, this poses a serious environmental problem. According to the national greenhouse gas inventory, landfills are the leading source of methane here, contributing more than half of this noxious emission (53%), followed by palm oil mills (38%). Seen in this light, widespread use of biodegradable foodware will in fact boost methane release.

Looking at some developed countries, a growing trend is to divert untreated organic waste like food waste, away from the landfill, rather than allowing it to ferment inside and produce methane. The European Union decreed in 2008 that untreated organic waste can no longer be landfilled. In these places, the solutions include industrial-scale composting, fermentation in digesters to produce methane for electricity, or waste-to-energy incinerators.

Some parties are already disenchanted with the promises of compostability. Early this month, the US Congress announced that 90% of the Capitol Complex’s non-recyclable solid waste, amounting to 5,385 tonnes per year, would be sent to waste-to-energy facilities soon, after an unsatisfactory experiment with composting in 2009and 2010. The composting programme was cancelled in January; high cost was a major factor. Apparently, stocking the cafeteria with corn-based utensils and then subsequently transporting the waste to an on-site shredder only saved the amount of carbon emitted by a single car a year, but the price tag came close to RM1.5mil. Polystyrene foodware has now been reintroduced at the cafeteria.

Theng, the national co-ordinator of the Malaysia-Japan intergovernmental collaboration on solid waste management, said that the solution for Malaysia lies in concerted education on waste minimisation and proper recycling, so that more resources can be diverted from landfills in the first place.

In the light of what really happens (or is unlikely to happen) within a landfill, consumers need to be aware of marketing hype. Dr William Rathje, director of the Garbage Project, in his book Rubbish (co-authored with Cullen Murphy) summed up the situation well: “The truth is, however, that the dynamics of a modern landfill are very nearly the opposite of what most people think. Well-designed and managed landfills seem to be far more apt to preserve their contents for posterity than transform them into humus or mulch. They are not vast composters; rather they are vast mummifiers.”

As for Theng, the slew of so-called green products is an indication that unfettered commercialisation can sometimes take over the initially noble cause of creating a better environment. “Sometimes, it is just hype.”

USING disposable ware, biodegradable or otherwise, has its advantages, if you ask those who are in the catering industry.

“I need to deploy much more manpower if the function has to use reusable plates, cups and cutlery. It is usual for guests to leave them all over the place, and the caterer will also have to absorb some breakages along the way,’’ said Norsyaliza Mohamad, assistant manager of Arena Events & Services.

Another operator said that manpower requirements can vary by up to 40% at a large function when reusable plates and cutlery are used. “And it is not enough to bring just 1,000 plates when you are catering for 1,000. You need to bring at least 2,000 plates as people are known to leave half-empty plates all over, and will not hesitate to grab a fresh plate. Using disposables is much easier as they are light and require no washing or collection,’’ said a cook from Creative Catering.

When Sariya Yatim, owner of Dapur Emas Catering, offered to use tableware made of tapioca, her customers were not interested as they did not want to pay for the price difference compared to foam plates. “But generally, most of my clients do not request for disposable tableware as the perception is that the event will not appear classy if disposable utensils are used,’’ she said.

A polystyrene clamshell can be as cheap as 7.5 sen each, or even less for larger orders, while a biodegradable option easily costs four times as much.

The above article was written by MENG YEW CHOONG as it appeared in THE STAR (Star2Green)on 25th October, 2011



To be sure that the product biodegrades, look for the right label. GIVEN that the concept of biodegradability is open to many interpretations, the United States is very stringent when it comes to allowing such claims on products. In June 2009, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged a few large retailers for falsely claiming that their paper products were “biodegradable”.

According to FTC, the claims of “degradable”, “biodegradable” and “photodegradable” should be substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence to “show that the entire product or package will completely break down and return to nature (decompose into elements found in nature) within a reasonably short period of time after customary disposal”.

All three companies which were charged by FTC – Kmart Corp (for American Fare disposable plates), Tender Corp (Fresh Bath moist wipes) and Dyna-E International (Lightload compressed dry towels) – settled the cases and withdrew their claims of biodegradability.

“The breakdown of any material happens very slowly in landfills, where most garbage is taken. Even biodegradable materials like paper or food may take decades to break down because they’re buried under tonnes of other garbage. Just because a product claims to be biodegradable or photodegradable doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s better for the environment, especially if it winds up in a landfill,” said the commission on its website (

As far as FTC advertising guidelines go, compostable means that all the materials in the product or package will break down into, or otherwise become part of, usable compost (soil-conditioning material or mulch) in a safe and timely manner in an appropriate composting programme or facility, or in a home compost pile or device. A compostable material is believed to leave behind residues that are beneficial to the soil, versus biodegradation, which most people believe to mean that the material disappears completely, leaving no trace.

Many manufacturers rely on third-party certification of agreed standards on what constitutes biodegradability and compostability. The most well-known certification comes from ASTM International (, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials, which offers the ASTM D5511-11 certification for biodegradability and the ASTM D6400 certification for compostability.

The Jasa Eco range of bio-based plates and cutlery (containing up to 30% polypropylene) cannot claim to be compostable, but it is supplying a range of compostable (as per ASTM D6400) utensils for the North American market. Its JEF-2 polystyrene clamshell, impregnated with an organic additive that will hasten the decomposition process, is certified as biodegradable in accordance to ASTM D5511-11.

Materials that are compliant with ASTM D6400 can be expected to compost satisfactorily within 180 days, but in this case, it means 60% biodegradation under municipal and industrial aerobic composting facilities. This kind of scenario is usually found in industrial composting, where machines regulate the temperate, humidity and oxygen levels of the compost pile which is agigated mechanically, and not in a small home compost pile that is left to degrade undisturbed.

Another certification to look out for is the EN13432 which is required in order to claim that a product is compostable in the European marketplace. This standard requires biodegradation of 90% of the materials within 180 days, and is said to be more stringent than the ASTM D6400. But in essence, both standards must be viewed within the context of commercial composting conditions, and cannot be generalised to include the home compost pile.

FTC’s research shows that consumers commonly think “biodegradable” means the product will simply break down into its natural components within a year after customary disposal (in landfills). A straw poll by this writer revealed that journalists would expect a biodegradable product to “disappear” after about a few months (only one person said it could mean anything from two to five years).

A more professional survey commissioned by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) among 1,000 American adults showed that most believe that a biodegradable material will decompose naturally within a span of a year in their backyard, landfill or natural environment.

In Malaysia, the situation is still very much a free-for-all, with many manufacturers (be it paper or plastic) making all sorts of claims with little, dubious, irrelevant, or absolutely no certification attached. This is only to be expected given that there are no national standards on what constitutes biodegradability. It really is a case of buyer beware, as what is promised on paper is not necessarily what is delivered in the real world.

BLOGGERS NOTE: The above article was written by MENG YEW CHOONG and was featured in THE STAR (Focus) on 25th October, 2011

Tips on How to Save the Environment (Part 6) - OUT IN NATURE & YOUR GARDEN

Can we imagine what it is like if this earth we call home is just barren land? With no trees, no flowers, birds, fishes and a whole lot more to color and beautify our lives? Mother Earth is the only planet with this amazing biodiversity realm of fauna and flora. We are so wonderfully blessed by their presence..... let's all work tgether to save the planet for ourselves and them too! (GREENSLEEVES)


Out in Nature
•Trash: When you are out hiking, pick up trash along the way.

Hiking Tips: Leave No Trace, Outdoor Ethics - provides tips for campers, climbers, and hikers.

Restoration: Organize a community group to clean up a local stream, highway, park, or beach. For opportunities to do restoration work for a local organization, check out VolunteerMatch. The American Hiking Society coordinates week long volunteer vacations to help restore trails.

•Tree-Planting: Form a tree-planting group with family and/or friends: commit to planting and maintaining an agreed-upon number of trees over your life times. Plan regular gatherings for tree-planting and watering. Log your commitments in the United Nations Billion Tree Campaign.

Parks: Visit and help support local parks. In the U.S., reserve a campsite at a National Park through the U.S. National Park Service Reservation Center or Reserve America (includes some state parks).

Frogs: In the USA, help to track frog and toad populations through Frogwatch USA.

Birds: In North America, help to track bird populations through Citizen Science.

Balloons: Never release balloons outdoors. They frequently find their way to open water (even from 100's of miles away) and can harm or kill turtles, whales, and other marine mammals.

•Stargazing: Stargazing schedule - provides current information about stargazing events.

Educational Sites:

Animals: Animal Diversity Web and Wild Sound Stories

◦Biology: The Biology Project

Marine Biology: OceanLink

◦Birds: Peterson's Perspective and Introduction to the Aves

Microbes: The Microbe Zoo

Astronomy: Nine Planets Solar System Tour

WWF Fun and Games

◦Environmental Kids Club

◦For Teachers: Environmental Education Resources and Environmental Defense's Teacher's Guide

Create a Backyard Wildlife Habitat

As people take over more and more of the land, we need to provide food, water, and shelter to the animals that are now relying on us for their survival.

•Backyard Wildlife Habitat:
A backyard wildlife habitat or "naturescape" can be created in your own backyard. A miniature version can even be created on your patio or deck. Basic elements include fresh water (i.e., a bird bath and, if in a yard, water low to the ground); plants and feeders that provide nourishment for birds, insects, etc.; and rocks, trees, bushes and/or bird houses for shelter and nesting. Purchase plants that are native to your area. The National Wildlife Federation has an excellent program: The Backyard Wildlife Habitat Program which provides some helpful, detailed examples.

Attracting Animals: Learn how to attract:

•Protecting Birds: The greatest danger to birds in your yard is window collisions. Audubon provides tips for minimizing collisions.

•Resources: How to Naturescape provides inspiration and information on switching to native plants.

*Organic Gardening: Go organic!! - here are some basics:-

Native Garden: Learn about creating a Native Garden from eNature. Get to know the specific ecosystem your home is located in (e.g., Oak Woodland, Grasslands) and select plants native to this ecosystem.

•Xeriscape: Tips on how to grow an environmentally friendly lawn can be found at the Xeriscape.

•Climate-Friendly Gardens: Learn about becoming a climate-friendly gardener from UCS.

•Rain Garden: Create a rain garden on your property to reduce runoff into storm drains.

Veggies in Containers: Tips on growing great vegetables in containers.

•Window Farms: Innovative way to grow food from recycled containers hanging in windows.

Composting: Composting provides important nutrients for your organic garden. Learn more at Wikipedia's Compost page.

•Free Dirt Exchange: Find free soil in your area for your landscaping project or garden through Tons of Dirt.

Worm Composting: Learn about worm composting (vermiculture) at Earthworm FAQ.

•Mulching: Mulching mowers are available which will convert cut grass into a natural fertilizer.

•Carbon Debt: Work off your carbon dioxide "debt" by planting trees! Find out how much you need to work off with the Climate Change Calculator.

•Pesticides: Learn about current toxicity and regulatory information for pesticides in the PAN Pesticide Database.

Resources: Links to great sites on everything from worm composting (vermiculture) to organic farming can be found at Useful Links.

Tips on How To Save the Environment (part 5)- CONSERVE WATER

Human activities which include indiscriminate usage, agricultural and farming methods are some of the main factors adding to the wastage and pollution of our natural water resources. What we normally take for granted is, to many, a precious gift....year-long droughts in many third-world countries ought to wise us up to why we need to Protect and Conserve Water. (Greensleeves)

Part (5) on How To Save the Environment continues with how to go about doing this.

Source :


Freshwater degradation is a looming crisis that we must face head on with strong and effective actions. Please do your part to protect this precious resource and call upon your elected representatives to take action today to protect not just future generations but our own future by adopting sustainable water practices. Only 3% of the earth's water is freshwater - we must protect this critical resource. In addition, water-related energy consumes a large amount of energy. In California, for example, water use consumes 19% of the state's electricity, 30% of it's natural gas, and 88 billion gallons of diesel fuel annually.

Set Goals: To reduce your water consumption:

◦Set specific water reduction goals -- for example, commit to using 20% less per month

◦Determine a baseline to start reducing from. Print the energy and water consumption chart and post in a visible spot in your home.

◦Chart the number of gallons of water used in the last 12 months (for comparison to each month this year) (if water consumption is listed by CCF (hundred cubic feet), one CCF equals 748 gallons.

◦Make specific changes in products used and family member habits:
■buy water saving products where needed

■get your family involved by asking for specific changes in everyone's habits (e.g., place signs near water outlets reminding family members to reduce consumption (e.g., shorter showers, turning the faucet off when not needed, only watering outdoor plants in the morning or evening)

■look for additional ideas below:-
◦Once a month, add the new usage information to the charts and make adjustments as needed to reach your goals

◦If you have children, increase their allowances by the amount saved to encourage them to get involved in finding new ways to conserve

•Resources: You'll find several water conservation ideas at House Water Saver Home including a Top 5 Water Savers page and 10 Ways to Save Water.

•Water Consumption: Each time you turn on a water faucet use the lowest pressure necessary. Keep the water turned on only while it is needed. For drinking water, keep a pitcher in your refrigerator so you don't have to let water run to cool.

•Fix Leaks Promptly!: It is estimated that 13.7% of household water is wasted by leaks. Check your water meter when no one is using water in the house. If it's moving there's a leak. A running toilet can waste 2 gallons a minute. Check by adding food coloring to the tank without flushing. After 10 minutes, look for leaks indicated by color in the bowl. This is most likely a worn flapper valve that can easily be replaced.

•Low Flow Toilets: One of the best ways to avoid wasting water is to switch to low flow or dual flush toilets. Visit Terry Love's consumer toilets report for a great review on available low flow toilets. Flush your toilet only every other time or when it has solid waste. LeakAlerter notifies you if your toilet is leaking.

•Showers: Replace existing shower heads with the lowest flow product you can find. Shower heads with a mist setting let you reduce water flow even further. Shower instead of taking a bath. Time your showers - try to keep them to 5 minutes. If taking a bath, limit how high you fill the tub.

•Aerators: Install flow restrictor aerators inside all faucets for a savings of 3 to 4 gallons per minute.

•Full Loads: Always run full loads of laundry and dishes. Choose the short cycle at low water levels whenever possible. Set the clothing washer at the lowest possible temperature needed and for single rinse only. If you buy a new appliance, compare the water efficiency of each washing machine and switch to a water-conserving model (e.g., front loading washer).

Dish Washing: Use your dishwasher and don't rinse dishes beforehand (for an average 20 gallon savings).

•Native Plants: Fill your yard with native plants. This will cut down significantly on watering requirements and, in the process, provide much needed food and shelter to local wildlife.

•Mulching: Mulch your gardens to reduce water evaporation around your plants (this also reduces weeds and builds healthy soil).

Drip Irrigation: Install a drip irrigation system to water your plants more effectively

For Your Hoses: Buy a squeeze nozzle for all of your hoses. However, if you're watering plants, use a watering can to reduce water waste.

•Best Time to Water: Water at night to minimize evaporation.

Leftover Water: If you have house plants, whenever possible water them with leftover or unused water from drinking, cooking, and showering. Keep a water pitcher near your sink or bathtub and collect unused water running from the tap (waiting for cooler or warmer water).

Car Wash: Take your car to a car wash that recycles water. If you wash it yourself, use a bucket and sponge and rinse sparingly.

Greywater System: Find out if creating a greywater/waste water system would work for you.

•Water Pollution: Protect our water supply by following the steps outlined in How to Clean Up Our Water: 12 simple actions to help stem the tide of polluted runoff.

Tap Water: Make the switch back to environmentally-friendly tap water instead of bottled water.

•Cooking Vegetables: Steam rather than boil your veggies to save a quart or more of water. Better yet, try giving vegetables a quick rinse, placing them in a covered bowl, and microwaving them for a minute or two.

•Drinking Water: In the U.S., learn more about your drinking water at EPA's Ground Water and Drinking Water site.

•Water Shortage Issues: Organizations that are working on international water shortage issues include:
◦Worldwatch Institute
◦Green Cross International

Tips on How to Save The Environment - (part 4) CONSERVE ENERGY

Part (4) on how to mitigate climate change is geared towards learning how to manage and utilise energy and fuel in the home,office and mode of transport. Get into the habit of turning and plugging off when appliances are not in use. Not only will it help lessen GHG but also will save you $$$ at the end of the day. Actively supporting energy saving ideas will help towards sustainable daily living. (GREENSLEEVES)



Please do not wait to start conserving as much energy as you can to reduce your climate change emissions! And please ask your elected representatives to push for strong legislation to move toward overall reduced energy usage and increased alternative energy production.

•Quick & Easy Energy Tip: Take the Zero-Volt Challenge and reduce your energy bill today!

Set Goals: To reduce your energy consumption:
◦Set specific energy reduction goals (for electricity, gas, and gallons of fuel consumed in your car(s)) -- for example, commit to using 20% less per month
◦Determine a baseline to start reducing from. Print the energy and water consumption chart and post in a visible spot in your home. Updates:
for your car(s): chart the number of miles you drive each month

for your home/office: chart the gas "therms" and/or electric kilowatts per hour (kWh) used in the last 12 months (for comparison to each month this year)

◦Make specific changes in products used and family member habits:
■buy energy saving products where needed

■read the Sustainable Solutions for Getting Around Town page for ideas on reducing mileage/increasing mileage efficiency

■get your family involved by asking for specific changes in everyone's habits (e.g., tape signs to light switches reminding family members to turn out lights when they leave a room, tape a sign to your car dashboard reminding the driver to check tire pressure during the first week of each month, assign someone to turn out all lights and cut power to unused appliances (to reduce standby power usage) each night)

look for additional ideas below : -
◦Once a month, add the new usage information to the charts and make adjustments as needed to reach your goals

◦Use the money saved to do something fun with your family (if you have children, increase their allowances by the amount saved to encourage them to get involved in finding new ways to conserve)

◦Join the Carbon Conscious Consumer program by New American Dream to receive new ideas monthly.

Buy Green Energy: If possible, choose a utility company focused on renewable energy. If you live in a deregulated state in the U.S., Green-e provides information about certified "clean electricity" providers for your state. In the U.K., visit Green Helpline.

•Resources: The following pages provide tips on how to save energy:
◦Tips from
◦EPA Climate Change Site: Actions for Individuals
◦Personal Emissions Calculator, Calculate Your Impact, and Carbon Calculator
◦Best Going Green Tips Library
◦Home Energy Saver
◦Energy Star Energy Efficient Appliances
◦Choosing Energy Efficient Products
◦Energy Efficient Windows
◦Consumer Energy Information
◦Home Improvement Toolbox
◦Energy Efficiency: First Things First
◦Energy Efficient Home Articles

Kitchen: Kitchen Unplugged -- ways to conserve energy in the kitchen

Carbon Footprint: The Carbon Footprint Calculator helps you to determine your carbon dioxide emissions from major sources: home energy consumption and transportation by car and plane. This information can be tracked over time, allowing you to gauge the impact of actions you take to reduce your carbon footprint.

Carbon Offsets: If you are taking a trip, consider buying carbon emission offsets. Two popular organizations: Terrapass and Carbonfund.

Home Shade: In hot areas, if you have west-facing windows use window tints, blinds, deciduous trees or trellises to help keep out heat from the summer sun. In general, you will lower your summer air-conditioning bill by planting trees and bushes along the west side of your home.

•Paint Colors: Paint your home a light color if you live in a warm climate and a dark color if you live in a cold climate.

Insulation: Insulate your hot water heater (a tank that is warm to the touch needs added insulation), as well as hot water pipes and ducts located in unheated areas.

Standby Power: Reduce "standby power" (the energy used while an appliance is switched off or not performing) at home and at work. The easiest way is to unplug appliances that are not being used. You can also plug your appliances into power surge protector strips (with multiple electrical outlets) and turn the power off at the strip.

Lights Off: Whenever possible, keep lights off during the day. Consider installing a well insulated skylight if more light is needed. Encourage family members to get in the habit of turning off lights when they leave a room (taping small reminder notes to light switches can help).

•Location of Home: Choose a place to live that reduces the need to drive (easy access to public transit, easy biking routes, close to work and stores, walk able community, etc.).

Solar Cooker: Consider using a solar cooker to cook some of your meals.

Cool Water: When turning on a water faucet, unless you need warm water choose the coolest water setting.

•Energy Efficient Mortgages (U.S.): EEM's let you borrow extra money to pay for energy efficient upgrades to your current home or a new or old home that you plan to buy.

Renewable Energy Certificates (REC): If you don't have the ability to switch to renewable energy, consider buying an REC which let's you essentially purchase renewable energy without switching electricity suppliers.

Invest in Energy: Investing in renewable energy production is the same as investing in a home or office building. Buying energy from a utility, on the other hand, is like renting - at the end of fifteen years you don't have anything to show for it - and you are left vulnerable to the fluctuating costs of energy. One investment option is solar panels which can produce energy for 40 years or more - far longer than it takes to pay off the installation costs (currently around 15 years for homeowners and only 7 years for businesses). Wind power, where available, has a far quicker payback period.

For more information on renewable energy, check out:
*Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network site
◦Hydrogen, Fuel Cell, and Renewable Energy Links
◦The American Solar Energy Society - Factbase (click on "Solar Guide")
◦Geoexchange (geothermal energy)
◦American Wind Energy Association
◦Renewable Energy Policy Project
◦National Renewable Energy Laboratory site
◦Home Power -- The Hands-On Journal of Home-Made Power
◦Clean Power
◦Wavegen (wave generated energy)
•Dark-Sky: Change outside light fixtures so that light does not shine up into the sky. The International Dark-Sky Association works to educate individuals and communities about the use of energy-efficient, properly designed lighting that allows for good night sky viewing. The Fatal Light Awareness Program educates individuals about how urban lights harm migratory birds.

BLOGGER'S NOTE : The above list contains items that may not be applicable or available in your area. You are encouraged to initiate them and get like-minded people to join in for group effort and support.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tips on How To Save The Environment (Part 3) YOUR FOOD

Part 3 - tips to help you change your eating habits which can and will help Save the Environment from climate change. Let us all be worthy stewards of Mother Earth.... Eat Peace.......(Greensleeves)


Switching to a vegetarian diet is a powerful way to help protect our environment and help ensure everyone has enough to eat. The United Nations recently released Livestock's Long Shadow–Environmental Issues and Options, which concludes that the livestock sector (primarily cows, chickens, and pigs) emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to our most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. It is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases - responsible for 18% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalents. By comparison, all transportation emits 13.5% of the CO2. It produces 65% of human-related nitrous oxide (which has 296 times the climate change potential of CO2) and 37% of all human-induced methane (which is 23 times as warming as CO2). It also generates 64% of the ammonia, which contributes to acid rain and acidification of ecosystems. In addition, the enormous amounts of grain required to feed livestock reduces the amount of food available for the world's hungry. Buying organic, locally grown food also reduces climate change emissions and helps protect the environment.

"The world is producing the wrong kind of food, by a process that leaves millions of people landless, homeless, cashless, and unable to feed themselves." Anita Roddick

Organic: The What is Organic? page explains what organic produce is and how it is certified.

•Local: Buy food (and drink - ideally tap - water) from local companies whenever possible. Each pound of local food you purchase prevents a quarter pound of climate change (C02) emissions. Support your area's Farmer's Market. If possible, grow your own fruits and vegetables using organic gardening practices. You can find local farmer's markets, community supported agriculture, restaurants that cook with regional cuisine, and food cooperatives through Local Harvest.

•Vegetarian/Vegan Diet: Consider becoming a vegetarian or vegan (no animal products). Informational sites:
◦Vegetarian and Vegan Resources
◦Why Vegan
◦Vegan Action
◦Vegetarianism: A Few Facts
◦101 Reasons I'm a Vegetarian
◦Diet Bio

•Vegetarian/Vegan Restaurants: Restaurant locators:
* (international chain of VEGAN Restaurants)(added on by Greensleeves)

Healthy School Lunches: Support efforts to increase healthy food choices in school lunches (US)

Green Calculator: Learn about the effect your diet is having on the environment with the Eating Green Calculator.

Score Your Diet: Learn how your diet scores on nutrition, the environment and animal welfare with Score Your Diet.

Non-GMO: There are many organizations that are working to protect our food supply from genetically engineered produce. Please get involved in any way you can. Whenever possible, buy products containing non-GMO soy, cotton, and corn. Ask your local supermarket to carry non-GMO products and ask your friends to also make this request - have faith that your requests will get back to the growers and store headquarters. This trend will only turn around when customer demand non-GMO products. Your pocketbook is your most effective voice.

•Unprocessed Food: Eat unprocessed/unpackaged food whenever possible.

Smart Seafood: If you purchase seafood, consult a seafood choices chart to select environmentally smart seafood. Also, learn more about avoiding mercury in your seafood at NRDC.

•"Dolphin Safe" Tuna: Only purchase tuna labeled "dolphin safe".

•Shade-Grown Coffee: Buy shade-grown coffee to protect desperately needed migratory bird habitats. Many "fair trade certified" coffees are shade-grown.

Free-Range: If you eat meat, buy "free-range" raised animals. According to the EPA, "there are approximately 450,000 AFOs (Animal feeding operations - livestock-raising operations, such as hog, cattle and poultry farms, that confine and concentrate animal populations) in the United States. About 6,600 of these operations fall into the largest category and are referred to as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)."

Personally, I don't condone the eating of meat and its by-products. The rearing of animals for food and the subsequent production and consumption of meat and dairy products remain as one of the topmost critical causes for climate change. If there is only one thing left that I can do to hinder global warming, I'd opt to go Vegan for the rest of my days.

"Livestock is the main driver of deforestation. Livestock is the largest single source of water pollution. Livestock produces more greenhouse gases than all worldwide transportation combined."
(FAO, UN on Livestock's Long Shadow)

Tips on How To Save The Environment (Part 2) REUSE & RECYCLE

Note : Our 2nd Part on what each and every one of us can do to contribute towards a safer, cleaner and better world for ourselves, our children and theirs, for now and the future.
Take care....(Greensleeves)

Source: Reuse

The media has done a wonderful job of selling us on the attractiveness and benefits of buying "new", "improved", "special", etc. products. However, we already collectively own so much that we could all survive for quite a while on the existing products - if we just reused them a few times!

Garage Sales: Shop at and hold garage sales - this is a great way to reuse products.

Reusables: Switch from disposable to reusable products: food and beverage containers, cups, plates, writing pens, razors, diapers, towels, shopping bags, etc.

Donations: Donate (and buy used):
◦household items - clothes, furniture, dishes, books, sports equipment, magazines, appliances, electronics, business attire, wedding attire, etc. (to charity)

◦women's business attire (to Dress for Success)

◦computer equipment◦cell phones, cameras, iPod/MP3 Players, laptops, PDAs (to Recycling for Charities)

◦cell phones and ink cartridges(to Cure Recycling - profits from reuse of items support the CURE Childhood Cancer organization. Free postage. Another place to donate cell phones is Collective Good). If you would like to start your own recycling program, check out Wireless Recycling. Learn how to erase cell phone data with this free data eraser.

◦building material (to companies who specialize in selling used material). One organization: Habitat for Humanity

◦eyeglasses (to Lions Club, For-Eyes, Pearle, or Lenscrafters)

◦extra hangers (to your local dry cleaners)

◦art materials (to a school or cultural organization)

◦unwanted boxed/bagged/canned food (to homeless shelters, food banks, or soup kitchens)

•Buy/Sell Used Items: Buy and sell your items on sites such as:
◦local thrift stores
◦Amazon (search on specific refurbished product)
◦local newspaper listings
◦local material exchange sites (search in your area)
◦garage sales (search in your area in the 'for sale' > 'garage sales' section
◦used refurbished computers (check your computer manufacturer's website or Amazon
◦local used furniture stores (search in your area)
◦local consignment shops (search in your area)
◦Recycler's World facilitates buying and selling used products (for home and work)

Freecycle: The Freecycle Network provides an online community tool for giving and receiving free stuff.

Share: thingloop facilitates sharing our belongings with each other.

Throwplace: lets you list items online that you would like to give to nonprofit organizations, businesses, or individuals.

Community Swap: Organize a community swap program (i.e., designate a place where people can leave unwanted items for others to use).

Packing Peanuts: Drop off at a local packing, shipping or moving store.

Wash and Reuse Plastic Bags: With either a wooden bag dryer or in the washing machine.

Buy Durables: Buy products that will last and take care of them.

Teach Thrift: Teach your children the value of being thrifty (the wise economy in the management of money and other resources; frugality).

Frugal Printing: Use both sides of each piece of paper -- for note taking or printing documents from your computer (at home or work). Create note pads by stapling together once-used paper.

Kitchen Reuseables: Instead of buying these items new, save and reuse all: paper bags, rubber bands, twisties, boxes, and packaging material. Reuse your plastic bags with a handy bag dryer.

Library: Pick up books from your local library or used book store. The library is also many times a great place for finding magazines, CDs, books-on-tape, and videos.

•Share with Neighbors: Join in with neighbors to purchase infrequently used products such as lawn mowers, ladders, etc.

Refurbished Computers: Buy refurbished computers for less

Rechargeable Batteries: Purchase rechargeable batteries and a battery recharger (some battery rechargers will also recharge regular alkaline batteries). Solar powered battery rechargers are available online.

•College Reuse: Dump and Run is a nonprofit organization that organizes the collection of college students' castoff items in the spring, so they can be sold to incoming students in the fall. The proceeds are then donated to nonprofits.

•Recycle Bins: Create designated holding "bins" for each type of recycled product and place in convenient locations in your home/garage

Recycling Fact Sheet: Create a local recycling fact sheet for yourself and interested neighbors. The local Yellow Pages, Internet Consumer Recycling Guide and Recycling Resources are great resources. Find out where you can recycle:
◦paper products
◦plastic grocery bags (better yet - use cloth bags)
◦plastic - including 1 - 7 identification codes
◦tin cans
◦scrap metal
◦motor oil (one quart of oil can kill fish in thousands of gallons of water)
◦ink cartridges
◦household appliances such as refrigerators
◦computer equipment and other electronic devices
◦aseptic packaging (square boxes used for liquids)
◦athletic shoes (contact a local sporting goods or athletic shoe store - some donate used shoes, others recycle them)

•Recycled Content: Ask your local retailers to stock more products made from recycled materials and buy products made from the highest recycled content whenever possible.

Green Paper: In general, try to buy products/containers made from recycled material as often as possible to support the recycled product market. When purchasing paper products (toilet paper, etc,), look for paper that has been recycled using a minimum of 50% post-consumer waste. Also, purchase from companies that do not use chlorine to bleach their paper products (which creates dioxin waste).

Natural Fertilizer: Leave grass clippings on the lawn as fertilizer.

•Composting: Start a compost pile with yard trimmings and food scraps. Learn more at Wikipedia's Compost page.

Pack-it-Out: If you are traveling and no recycle bins are available, pack your recyclables home with you whenever possible.

Eco-Friendly Burials: For the ultimate in recycling, check out the growing movement in eco-friendly burials and conservation burial. Also, eco-friendly recycled paper coffins are becoming available.

Recycled Gold: If you are shopping for wedding rings or other jewelry consider buying recycled gold jewelry and synthetic diamonds and gemstones.

•Hazardous Waste: The other key aspect of dealing with waste effectively is to dispose of toxic products at a hazardous waste facility. Products requiring special handling include:
Building Materials - paint , varnish, paint thinner, solvents, rust remover, wood preservatives and driveway sealer
Automotive products - gasoline, transmission oil, brake fluid, kerosene, charcoal lighter fluid, power steering fluid, used motor oil,used oil filters, used antifreeze
Household cleaners - spot removers, rug cleaners, metal cleaners, bathroom cleaners, oven cleaner, drain cleaner
Pesticides - insect killers, weed killers, flea products, moth crystals, fertilizers with weed killer
Miscellaneous - photographic chemicals, acids and corrosive chemicals, pool chemicals, compact fluorescent light bulbs (mercury), Ni-Cd batteries

Tips on How to Help Save the Environment (Part 1) REDUCE

NOTE : Here is the first instalment of some Environmental Saving Tips and Sustainable Solutions that we can check out to help save Planet Earth. Some may not be applicable or available in your area - but you can adapt and be creative and innovative with your noble ideas/ideals. Form a small group of like-minded people for support and to boost each other's morale when the going gets tough OR when you meet up with ridicule from 'those-who-don't-give-a-damn'. We may not be able to give 100% of our time and effort BUT every little bit counts..... and Planet Earth is counting on YOU and I to do our part...... Be blessed!


The critical first step of waste prevention has been overshadowed by a focus on recycling. Please help to promote a greater awareness of the importance of the "Reduce" part of the Reduce-Reuse-Recycle mantra. For a great overview of how raw materials and products move around the world, see the video The Story of Stuff.

Simplify: Simplify your life as much as possible. Only keep belongings that you use/enjoy on a regular basis. By making the effort to reduce what you own, you will naturally purchase less/create less waste in the future. For information on voluntary simplicity, check out Voluntary Simplicity Websites.

Reduce Purchases: In general, think before you buy any product - do you really need it? How did the production of this product impact the environment and what further impacts will there be with the disposal of the product (and associated packaging materials)? When you are thinking about buying something, try the 30-Day Rule -- wait 30 days after the first time you decide you want a product to really make your decision. This will eliminate impulse buying.

The Compact : Join or form a Compact in your area -

•Replace Disposables: Wherever possible, replace disposable products with reusable ones (i.e., razor, food storage, batteries, ink cartridges (buy refill ink), coffee filters, furnace or air conditioner filters, etc.).

•Buy Used: Buy used products whenever possible. Some sources:
•local thrift stores
•Amazon (search on specific refurbished product)
•Freecycle (free!)
•local newspaper listings
•local material exchange sites (search in your area)
•garage sales (search in your area in the 'for sale' > 'garage sales' section
•used refurbished computers (check your computer manufacturer's website or Amazon.
•local used furniture stores (search in your area)
•local consignment shops (search in your area)

•Borrow From Friends: If you only need something temporarily, ask if a friend or neighbor would loan it to you. (Blogger's note: AND PLEASSSEEE remember to return it after use.....)

•Share With Friends: Share things like books, magazines, movies, games, and newspapers between friends and neighbors.

•Tree-Free Home: As much as possible, create a tree-free home:
◦replace paper napkins with cloth napkins
◦replace paper towels with a special set of cloth towels/napkins (or cut up old t-shirts for great towels) - store the used ones in a small container in your kitchen and just wash and reuse
◦purchase bleach-free, toilet paper that is made from the highest post-consumer waste content you can find (80% minimum)
◦if you print documents, print on once-used paper and/or bleach-free, recycled paper with the highest post-consumer waste content available (or hemp/alternative-source paper, if you can afford it)
◦reuse envelopes, wrapping paper, the front of gift cards (as postcards) and other paper materials you receive wherever possible
◦read books, magazines, and newspapers from your local library
◦create and use note pads from once-used paper
◦leave messages for family members/roommates on a reusable message board
◦make your own cards/letters from once-used products or handmade paper
◦if you will be doing construction on your house, search out alternatives to using newly cut wood (no endorsement of any company intended):
■Eco-Friendly Flooring Guide
■straw bale
■bamboo -- two sites to check out: Plyboo and Teragren
■true (natural) linoleum
■previously used wood -- one site to check out: Vintage Timber Works
■cob -- three sites to check out: Cob, Cob Cottage, and EcoBusiness-Cob Building Resources
■composite decking -- The Latest Trend in Decking

•Bulk Purchases: Avoid products that are packaged for single use (i.e., drinks, school lunches, candy, cat and dog food, salad mixings, etc.). Instead, buy in bulk and transfer the products to your own reusable containers. Many health food stores have bulk bins where they sell everything from grains to cereal to cleaning products. For additional ideas, read the Precycling information page.

•Buy Only What You Need: Buy only as much as you know you'll use for items such as food, cleaning supplies, and paint.

•Avoid Creating Trash: Avoid creating trash wherever possible: when ordering food, avoid receiving any unnecessary plastic utensils, straws, etc. (ask in advance), buy ice cream in a cone instead of a cup, don't accept "free" promotional products, buy products with the least amount of packaging, etc. Every little bit of trash avoided does make a difference!

•Shopping Bags: While shopping, if you only buy a few products skip the shopping bag. For larger purchases, bring your own. Learn about pollution caused by plastics.

•Junk Mail: For ideas on how to reduce junk mail, check out:
◦Reduce Personal and Business Junk Mail
◦Do-it-yourself: Stop junk mail, email and phone calls
◦How to Get Rid of Junk Mail, Spam, and Telemarketers

•Waste-Free Lunches: Pack a Waste-Free Lunch whenever possible.

•Mug-to-Go: Carry a mug with you wherever you go for take out beverages.

•Address Early Consumption Habits: New American Dream offers tips for protecting your children from intrusive and harmful advertising that promotes mindless consumption.

•Encourage Hotels to Reduce Waste: When staying at a hotel, motel, or bed and breakfast let the management know that you like to support businesses that adopt environmentally responsible practices (including reducing waste). Print out and drop off the Sustainable Solutions for Green Hotels environmental tips list. To locate environmentally friendly hotels, search on the Internet under "ecotourism" and/or visit Green Hotels Association.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Earth Day Recycling Ideas for Kids

NOTE: Children hold the key to a better world.... and it is the responsibility of both parents and teachers to inculcate life's worthwhile values to them. They are our only hope for the future and the solution to making this planet a safer and cleaner home for God's creation. Love them, teach and guide them well to respect and hold in high regard the importance of how everyone, including themselves and loved ones, can be affected by how we treat the environment and others. Make EARTH DAY a daily happening in their lives.

Earth Day occurs each year on April 22nd. It is a day devoted to focusing on the health of our planet and the actions that we still need to take to protect our environment. Kids can actively take part in Earth Day by learning about recycling and the reuse of materials. There are different activities that kids can do to help keep the planet healthy.

School Recycling Center
For Earth Day, kids can work with their teachers to create a recycling center at their school. To make a recycling center, kids can bring large cardboard boxes or bins to their school. They can create labels for each box so people know in which box to recycle paper, glass or metal. The kids can then hang posters around the school to notify everyone of the recycling center. At the end of each school week, kids can help transport the recycled materials from the school to a recycling center.

At-Home Recycling
To get kids interested in Earth Day, have them set up their own recycling boxes in the house. Provide them with a box or two that they can place glasses and jars in. You can teach kids how to rinse out each jar and remove the lid or cap before recycling it. Kids can begin to recycle bottles and jars that they use at home. They can bring home bottles that they find to add to their recycling box. If you have curbside recycling, you can get the kids to organize the bottles in a bin on the curb for recycling pick-up, or you can find the nearest
recycling center.

Recycled Crafts
On Earth Day, kids can learn to make crafts with recycled materials. For example, kids can take an empty cardboard egg carton and turn it into a jewelry box. They can add jewelry items in each compartment. Have kids glue Styrofoam balls in some of the egg compartments. They can then stick earring studs or stick pins into the Styrofoam balls. Kids can also use recycled egg cartons to make a flower garden. Have kids poke a small hole in the bottom of each egg compartment and then fill each compartment about three-quarters of the way full with potting soil. They can add flower seeds to the soil and then water the plants. Place the egg carton in a sunny location, such as on a windowsill.

Earth Day Grocery Bags
Kids can take part in Earth Day by participating in the Earth Day Groceries Project ( Teachers borrow paper grocery bags from a local grocery store and then give them to students to decorate. Students create "Earth Day Grocery Bags" by decorating the bags with messages about recycling and protecting the Earth. Students and teachers can return the bags to the grocery store, and then on Earth Day, the grocery store can use the students' decorated bags to pack customers' groceries in. Kids can take part in the Earth Day Groceries Project by contacting their local grocery store and asking the store to team up with their school to create Earth Day bags. Kids can find out more about how to participate in this activity on the Earth Day Groceries Project website.

Source: The above tips were sourced from

How To Participate in Earth Day Activities And Help Save the Planet

Note: Below are some great tips on what you and I can do to help Save The Planet... not just on Earth Day which comes around once a year BUT make it an Every Day habit in our daily living. Every little effort counts and MOTHER EARTH is COUNTING ON YOU!
Take care....(Greensleeves)

Earth is the only planet we have to call home. Since we live here, it is our responsibility to care for our living environment by keeping it clean and reducing pollution.

The first Earth Day was held in 1970 and reoccurs every year on April 22nd as an invitation for everyone to learn about, and participate in activities that promote the well-being of our planet.

Here are just a few ideas to put into practice to help save our environment on Earth Day and every day.

There are many different ways the Earth and all things living on it are being affected by the habits of modern human life. There are also many ways to reduce the destructive impact we have on our planet. For Earth Day, learn what you can do to take an active role that promotes better care for at least one thing that would improve Earth's environmental well-being.

Some simple ideas to get started with for Earth Day include:

1. Get in the habit of turning off lights, computers and appliances when they are not in use.

2. Replace standard light bulbs with energy efficient fluorescent bulbs to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Buy energy efficient household appliances and yard tools.

3. Switch from chemical-type cleaners to natural products like vinegar, baking soda, soap and water.

4. Keep your car tuned and leak-free and dispose of used motor oil and cooling fluids at designated recycling centers. Keep tires properly inflated.

5. Try using mass transit, carpooling, walking or riding a bike as
often as possible.

6. Do not let the water run wastefully. Water the lawn in the early morning or late afternoon. Run washing machines and dish washers only when full. Repair leaky pipes, faucets and toilets.

7. Purchase products that contain recycled-content materials as often as possible.

8. Reduce the amount of plastic bags that pollute the environment by purchasing re-usable bags for your shopping. Any plastic bags you do get can be returned to the stores and placed in recycle bins, or you can reuse them for small garbage pail linings.

Get your children involved in Earth Day lessons, activities and habits. There are many ideas for childrens activities online, and in books that you can find at your library, that are very useful to educate and get children involved in Earth Day and habits to help save our environment.

10. You can promote Earth Day in your office by starting a recycling program one by setting out a recycling box for office paper. Paper that has only been printed on one side can be cut up and used as note paper. Also use blank backsides of envelopes that have already been mailed as note paper. Get rid of Styrofoam cups that don't decompose in landfills and suggest everyone bring in their own coffee cups for use.

11. At home, set up bins and recycle any plastics, cardboard (including packaged food boxes and toilet paper & paper towel rolls), aluminum, newspaper, tin/steel cans and glass products that your local recycling center will take. Reuse newspapers and shredded papers in the bottom of small animal cages or with mulch in gardens. Donate old household items and clothing to a local thrift store, pass on to others who may need it, adverstise to sell them or have a yard sale.

12. Have an Earth Day party! Remember to not use disposable dishes and paper napkins that pollute the environment. Send out electronic or person-to-person invitations, rather than paper ones. Present ideas for crafts, activities and discussions that involve caring for our planet.

Visit a nature center, get out in the wilderness, sit by a river, or even go to the park and enjoy the outdoors.

14. Learn about different species and their living environment, any dangers that pose a threat to their existence, and what you might be able to do to reduce those threats.

15. If you drive everywhere, choose an alternative form of transportation for the day, such as walking, carpooling, bicycling, or public transportation.

16. Participate in litter or a river cleanup, plant a tree or garden.

Source :

How to Help Save Our Earth

How to Help Save Our Earth - 10 Tips To Saving The Planet

Earth is a very important part of our lives. Most of us wouldn't think of polluting our bodies, yet we are polluting our planet by misuse and overuse of our natural resources. As responsible individuals we should at least do what we can to help reduce, reuse, and recycle what we can as a first step.

We are not completely to blame; we inherited a polluted Earth, but we can do something to ensure that our children can grow up in a cleaner, safer planet than ourselves.

Don't ever let someone get away with saying "what can I do, I am only one person". Each and every person can do a lot, and you can influence others to do something as well.

Things You'll Need :

Remind the politicians that you have a vote and a voice about the environment. Write your politicians and tell them how important the environment is to you and to your children. Let the politicians know that you are a registered voter and that you vote for the environment (if you are not - then register to vote).

It is great to talk about how important the Earth's environment is to you; but it is more important to put words into action. Some actions on our part are very simple and effective such as: Put on a sweater and socks and turn down the heat in the winter (even a degree or two will make a difference in the heating bill). Adjust the heat when you are out of the house.

Many grocery stores sell reusable bags (usually 99 cents), buy them and use them.

Turn off the lights when you are not in the room (this is an easy one that is quickly forgotten). Also, unplug your appliances when not in use; even when not in use they can be an "energy sink" just by being plugged in.

Plant a tree or other plants. You might want to think about raising some edible plants (help the environment, save money on food, and feed healthy food to your family - what could be better)

Use refillable bottles for water. Bottled water is a huge culprit to having a clean environment. Stop buying all of those water bottles that fill up our land-fills. If you need special water, buy a water filter.

Reuse what you can, like boxes for mailing and padded envelopes can have several uses in them. Be sure to black out the previous addresses and remove the used stamps.

Plan your trips and combine as many errands into an outing as possible. See if you can carpool to work, or take a bus; or ride a bike to work.

Use natural cleaners whenever possible like lemons and baking soda. It is healthier for the environment as well as for your family.

Pay your bills online and save a tree and 42 cents on postage.

Tips & Warnings these are just a few tips, there are many more. Not only are these tips good for the environment but most cost little to nothing to implement.

Some of these tips will actually save you money as well.

NOTE : The above article was written by Branaic and was featured in

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