Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Funny

The Other Coast by Adrian Raeside

Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-5785  Fax - (954) 828-4745

Think before you print!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Recycle Used Plastic Bags (Even Ziploc Sandwich Bags)

Who knew? Plastic sandwich and kitchen storage bags can be recycled along with plastic shopping bags in supermarket recycling bins.

By Selene Aparicio

Plastic storage bags may be easy and convenient, but they're also disposable and wasteful. We often toss sandwich and freezer bags after using them only once, tossing those fossil fuel-derived plastics into landfills and incinerators. However, now we have the option of recycling these bags at any plastic bag-recycling bin, like those now found at many grocery stores and supermarkets. That's right – those bins we all thought were for plastic shopping bags are good for other plastic bags, too, according to a Ziploc spokesman.
A recent partnership between Ziploc and RecycleBank means consumers can claim rewards for each Ziploc bag they recycle. RecycleBank rewards individuals for being green by assigning points for recycling and other actions. The points can be redeemed for rewards like gift cards and discounted products, similar to the way the rewards systems work on many credit cards.
So, if you can't reuse plastic storage bags, clean and dry them, then recycle them along with any other plastic bags you have cluttering up the kitchen in a supermarket recycling bin.

Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-5785  Fax - (954) 828-4745

Think before you print!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

the fourth r

When you invest in rechargeable batteries, you aren’t just Reducing and Reusing, you’re also Recharging. Recycling batteries is very important, but reducing the number of batteries we consume is even better. Rechargeable batteries are handy to have at home and are ideal for volt-suckers like remote controls and digital cameras. Rechargeable batteries can be charged and reused anywhere from 500 to 1,000 times, so you’ll be saving energy and money.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Tree can be different things to different people

5 Ways to Look at a Tree

1. Commodity

According to the Wisconsin Paper Council, an "interesting rule of thumb is that an acre of forested land may yield an average of 10-15 cords of wood when harvested at maturity—depending not only on the size of the trees, but how productively the land has been managed." One "cord" could typically yield any of the following:
  • 12 dining room table sets (seating eight)
  • 250 copies of the Sunday New York Times
  • 942 one-pound books
  • 460,000 personal checks
  • 4,384,000 postage stamps
  • 7,500,000 toothpicks
2. Oxygen Source
One estimate: Over a 50-year lifetime, a tree generates $31,250 worth of oxygen and provides $62,000 worth of air pollution control. The process is rather fundamental: During photosynthesis, a tree "inhales" CO2 from the air and then separates the carbon from the oxygen molecules. The carbon is absorbed by the tree, which then "exhales" pure oxygen back into the air for us to breathe. In the process just described, trees also serve as carbon sinks, e.g. as Wise Geek tells us, trees "naturally absorb carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, sequestering the carbon and converting it into mass while releasing the oxygen back into the atmosphere." Such carbon sinks offset carbon dioxide emissions and reduce climate change.
3. Home
From nearly microscopic insects to camouflaged reptiles to feathered friends to wily primates and beyond, each tree is a vast, thriving eco-system in and of itself. The destruction of even a single small tree not only disrupts natural cycles, it also sentences countless creatures to death. More than 1000 different species of insects have been living in just one kind of rainforest tree.
4. Flood Prevention
Deforestation negatively impacts the amount of water in the soil and groundwater and the moisture in the atmosphere. Without tree roots to hold soil in place and fight erosion, we are seeing more runoff and less sediment deposit after storms. This result in higher levels of chemicals in our water and far more flooding. Over the course of a half-century, a single tree can recycle $37,500 worth of water and controls $31,250 worth of soil erosion.
5. Beauty
As Henry David Thoreau sez: "I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech-tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines."
"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now."
(Chinese Proverb)

Reality Check: 80% of the World's Forests Are Already Gone


Friday, September 21, 2012

Nature Walks Make You Smarter

Nature Walks Make You Smarter

By Josh PetersonLos Angeles, CA, USA | May 31 2009

Let your mind relax and recharge.

If you've gone green, I'll wager that you are pretty smart already. I'm not just saying that to win you over either. The climate crisis may be the greatest crisis the human species will ever have to deal with. If you are worried about global warming, then you must have some degree of foresight. And foresight is a sure sign of intelligence.

One popular green activity, the nature walk, can do more than strengthen those calf muscles. It can also nourish the old brain bin. You were going to take a walk anyway? I said that you were smart, remember?
According to researchers at the University of Michigan, taking a nature walk can sharpen the mind, but a walk around the city does not have the same effect.
How Nature Walks Make You Smarter
Participants were asked to go for walks in urban and rural settings. When the participants returned from their respective journeys, their memories and attentions were tested. Those who returned from nature walks scored 20% better on the tests. They showed no improvement after urban walks.
Walking in nature allows the mind to take a break. Think of it in terms of sleeping. If you take a nap, your body functions better with some sleep. A nature walk allows your mind to wander, to relax. Afterward, you can think more clearly.
Researcher Marc Berman:
You don't hear very many people say, 'Boy I really got tired out looking at that waterfall.'

People who walk in cities get very little mental relaxation. Their mind stays in work mode, because they don’t want to get hit by cars or bump the arm of a rough customer.
So take a walk in nature when you have the chance. More importantly, preserve nature so we have something to walk around in when we need a break. That's the smartest thing of all.
Source: ScienCentral

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What's a green gadget?

The 3 Traits All Green Gadgets Have in Common

What a green gadget is, and how you can make yours green.

By Jaymi Heimbuch
San Francisco, CA, USA |  Jul 23 2009

 One question I get asked all the time is, "What's a green gadget?" It seems that while most people know that characteristics like organic, recyclable, or fair trade is a way to identify more eco-friendly products, we don't necessarily have an easy way identify more eco-friendly gadgets. It's true that gadgets seem like they're in a whole different category when it comes to green living—and in fact, they have a long, long way to go to be fully green; but there are some easy ways to identify when one gadget is more sustainable than another.

How to Identify a Green Gadget

With all the many green labels and rating systems for electronics, it can seem confusing trying to figure out which gadgets are green, and which are greenwashed. There's no getting around the fact that we have to research a lot of things to know if a gadget is eco-friendly. There are questions to ask and resources to tap into. But luckily, there three basic traits to green gadgets, and the closer a device is to having a high level of all three, the greener it is. If you keep an eye out for these three simple traits, you're well on your way to knowing just how eco-friendly a gadget is.

Three Basic Traits of Green Gadgets

1. Made Without Toxic Materials and with Longevity in Mind

Gadget companies are only barely starting to get better about eliminating toxic materials from their products. We mainly see the push among computer companies. The more we push for this, as well as electronics that are made to last, rather than made with planned obsolescence, the closer we are to having sustainable gadgets. You can use EPEAT as a resource for finding out more about what computers and monitors have cut toxic materials from their products. Greenpeace also grades electronics manufactrurers and provides a report card for consumers to use when researching.

2. Used Well By Someone Who Charges it With Renewable Power and Maintains it for as Long as Possible

The owner of a gadget plays a big role in how sustainable it is. When a gadget is charged with renewable power—either because the home or office where it's charged is buying renewable power from their utility company, or because the owner is using something like a solar or wind charger—then it's that much greener because it's avoiding the use of dirty energy. Also, an owner who knows how to repair or upgrade a gadget ensures that it says in the consumer stream and out of the waste stream for as long as possible.

3. Is Reused or Recycled So There is no Waste

Our electronics recycling systems still aren't perfect. That's in part the fault of manufacturers who use materials that aren't recyclable, in part the fault of recycling plants who follow market conditions for what materials they're willing to recycle and where they send them for recycling, and part the fault of we consumers who don't have a perfect track record for ensuring everything gets back into the recycling stream at the end of its life. The more we know about e-cycling and the closer we get to ensuring that every product is reused or recycled 100%, the closer we'll be to having sustainable gadgets.

The Greenest Gadget is the One You Already Own

Now that you know what major characteristics to look for when trying to identify a green gadget, you might feel more confident when you're shopping around. But the greenest gadget is actually the one you already own! To make sure you have the greenest gadget around, all you have to do is follow these three steps:

Three Basic Steps to Greening Your Gadgets

1. Charge it With Renewable Energy

Hopefully you already buy green power from your utility. If you do, then you can plug in your gadget and know it's being run off of renewable energy. If you don't, though, you might want to check out some of the cool solar and wind chargers out on the market. These will help you take your gadget off grid.

2. Repair it Yourself When it Breaks

Hone your repair skills and don't be afraid to DIY it when your gadget breaks, or at least take it into a repair shop. It might be slightly less easy than just buying a new device, but it is usually cheaper. Plus learning how to repair gadgets will boost your self-confidence, make you more self-reliant, and make both you and your gadget greener.

3. Recycle it When it Kicks the Bucket

When you've done all you can to keep your gadget going and it has finally ticked its last tock, be sure you put it in its proper resting place—in the hands of a responsible recycler. e-Waste is a big environmental problem, both when it comes to landfills and toxic e-waste dumps. So be sure you do your homework and find a responsible recycler so your gadget can be taken apart and turned into new electronics.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Green Cheapskate's Guide to Buying Used Bikes

Three things to check before buying used bikes.

September 16, 2012 by Jeff Yeager

Although I bicycle all year long – even in the snow and ice of winter – the fall is my absolute favorite time to be out on the road on my rusty-but-trusty 10 speed.
I’ve also noticed that fall is probably the best time of year to buy a bicycle. If you’re looking for a brand new one, bike shops often discount their inventory in the fall to make room for next year’s models. But I’ve also found that fall is the best time to score some real deals on used bikes at thrift stores and yard sales; with summer now in the rearview mirror, everyone seems to be jettisoning their lightly used cycles rather than making room for them in the garage.
If you’re not mechanically inclined, buying a used bike can seem a little intimidating. But the risk is usually worth the potential reward: I frequently find used bikes in the $25-$50 range. With a similar amount invested in repairs and labor, that used bike can be rehabbed into one that would cost $250-$500 new. Of course many of them are vintage bikes from the 1970’s and 80’s, the likes of which you can’t buy today at any price.
Here are some of the most common mechanical problems to look for if you’re thinking about buying a used bike:

         Flat/worn out tires and inner tubes. Dry rot is common in tires/tubes that have been sitting un-inflated
                 for a period of time, so they often need to be replaced, rather than just inflated and/or patched. The good news
                 is, new tires and tubes are usually pretty cheap and easy to install.
Bent wheels/rims. This is easy to evaluate before buying a used bike. Just spin the wheels, and if they wobble significantly when you spin them or if they’re so bent that they won’t spin at all without hitting the frame, then you have a problem. Diagnosing how serious the problem is – and how costly it will be to repair – is more difficult. It could just be a few broken or loose spokes, and a bike mechanic can fix it with minimal labor and parts. But it could mean you need a whole new wheel, which can get expensive and hard to find for some older bikes. Unless you know what you’re looking for, it’s probably best to stay away from used bikes that have wheels that are seriously out of balance (aka “true”).
Check the frame carefully. I’ve bought some used bikes simply because the frame was intact and well worth the price alone, even though all of the other components were worthless. Look for any signs that the frame (including the front forks) is bent, cracked, broken, or has been in an accident (patches for flaking paint can be a sign that it’s seen some collision action). Don’t buy a bike with a bent frame or any clear signs of frame damage; it probably can’t be repaired and will lead to further problems down the road (assuming it even gets you down the road).
Other than the three items discussed above, most used bikes are desperately in need of proper lubrication (think Tin Man in Wizard of Oz) and some adjustments to the gears, cables, and brakes, but that’s not typically complicated or costly, and even a novice can do those things himself. Obviously if there are parts missing, that’s another story.
Also, consider buying the simplest used bike that will meet your needs. Having 15 or 20 gears or “speeds” really isn’t necessary for most cyclists. It’s just more stuff that can break and cause problems. A 10-speed is still fine for most (I’ve ridden nearly 100,000 miles during my lifetime, and never had a bike with more than 10 speeds), and for around town, an old fashioned 3-speed or single speed is probably fine for most casual riders.
If you’re looking to have a used bike repaired or totally reconditioned, avoid big, fancy bicycle shops that sell expensive new bikes and gear—they’ll want to sell you new, rather repair your old clunker. Look for small, mom and pop type bike shops that special more in repairs rather than sales. There are still plenty of little old men who repair bikes out of their garages, and some nonprofit organizations offer repairs services and classes, as do some “free markets/stores.”
Also, consider bartering for repairs through online barter and time-bank sites. And consider joining a local bike club; many offer repair classes, and there’s always lots of “self-appointed mechanics” in the group who thrive on fixing other people’s problems. As for how-to instructions, the web is the best resource (see, since you’re often dealing with older bikes, the likes of which won’t be discussed in current books on bike repairs (just Google the brand name of your bike and the problem you’re having.)
If there’s one thing I like even more than saving money, it’s saving good stuff that might otherwise end up in a landfill. Recycling a used cycle is a perfect example of both.

Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-5785  Fax - (954) 828-4745

Think before you print!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Switch to a Refillable Mug

Save some change every morning, and cut down on waste.
By Brian Clark Howard

Reduce waste by using a reusable mug at home, in the office and on the go, instead of opting for single-use containers for coffee and tea.
If you buy your daily cup of coffee in a disposable container, you are generating about 22.75 pounds of waste per year. (You're also wasting money; personal finance experts recommend making it at home to save $358 annually.) Across the country, 25 billion polystyrene (commonly known as Styrofoam) cups are thrown away every year, according to the EPA. That's troubling, because polystyrene takes hundreds of years to break down, and is made of nonrenewable petroleum.
Cups made of paper products are easier on the environment, but they are made of trees and can result in destructive deforestation. Even recycled paper cups require considerable energy to produce and distribute.
It's wise to use ceramic or glass containers for your hot beverages, because plastics can leach out small amounts of potentially harmful chemicals over time, like pthalates and bisphenol A. If the risk of breakage is high, and for on-the-go uses, consider stainless steel.
As an added incentive, remember that many coffee shops and university food services offer discounts for those who bring in their own reusable containers. Starbucks, for example, offers a 10-cent discount to those with their own mugs.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday Funnies

Okay, here's some bad jokes.  Hope they make you smile some.  Have a great weekend!

Why doesn't a Sustainability Consultant look out the window in the morning?

It gives him something to do in the afternoon!!
Experts say this global warming is serious, and they are predicting now that by the year 2050, we will be out of party ice. –David Letterman
How many climate skeptics does it take to change a light bulb? A: None. It's too early to say if the light bulb needs changing. –Robert Butler, environmental bloggerQ
Al Gore announced he is finishing up a new book about global warming and the environment. Yeah, the first chapter talks about how you shouldn't chop down trees to make a book that no one will read. –Conan O'Brien
Barbra Streisand told Diane Sawyer that we're in a global warming crisis, and we can expect more and more intense storms, droughts and dust bowls. But before they act, weather experts say they're still waiting to hear from Celine Dion. –Jay Leno
Governor Schwarzenegger spoke about the dangers of global warming. Schwarzenegger's exact words were: fire, hot, bad." –Conan O'Brien
A parish priest is to offer 'eco-sinners' the chance to confess in what is thought to be the first 'green' confessional booth. Obviously you can't confess all your sins in one go but must separate bottle, paper and plastic confessions.

Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-5785  Fax - (954) 828-4745

Think before you print!


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Ready to Go Green?

From the May 2008 AARP Bulletin:

Power of 50 by Mike Klesius

Ready to Go Green

At least 50% of Americans who are boomers or older say they buy environmentally safe products.  The AARP Bulletin reaches 39 million members in 24 million households.  While battling climate change, here’s how much money each household could save a year and collectively how much greenhouse gas could be reduced. 

Use a more energy-efficient 2008 model refrigerator instead of a 2001 model or older.  Annual savings per household: $63; Collective CO2 reduction: 11.8 million tons

Turn down your gas hot water heater from 140 degrees to 120 degrees.  Annual savings per household: $60; Collective CO2 Reduction: 4.1 million tons

Eat ¼ less meat. Annual savings per household: $169; Collective CO2 reduction: 1.9 million tons

Switch from 75-watt incandescent bulbs to 19-watt Compact Fluorescent bulbs.  Annual savings per household: $68; Collective CO2 reduction: 11.4 million tons

Lower your thermostat by a degree in the winter and raise it by a degree in the summer.  Annual savings per household: $55; Collective CO2 reduction: 7.5 million tons

Drive a car that gets 35 MPG instead of the national average of 25 MPG.  Annual savings per member: $482 (or more at current costs); Collective CO2 reduction: 71.2 million tons  (remember this the next time you are ready to replace your car, but remember the “greenest” car is the one you have right now, just take steps to improve the gas mileage of it)


Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-5785  Fax - (954) 828-

Think before you print!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Fix Water Leaks, Save $20

Fix Water Leaks, Save $20

Don't ignore the little things.

By The Daily Green Staff

Fix that leaky pipe or faucet, and you'll be amazed at how much water you can save.
Let's face it. We've all ignored those small, slow drips from a bathroom faucet or kitchen sink at one time or other. After all, how much water does it really waste?
When you factor in the steady, 24/7 dripping over any length of time, plenty. Then think about all the faucets dripping elsewhere in your neighborhood, the country, the world. Leaks really do matter.
If you use the Drip Accumulator calculator on the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Website, you'll see that a single slow leaky faucet dripping 30 drops per minute wastes 3 gallons per day, or the equivalent of 27 baths per year. The USGS also estimates that many of our toilets leak approximately 22 gallons of water per day.
If you tally the cost of water embodied by those leaks, the cost per year for one toilet leak and one faucet drip equals about $20.
So one easy eco-friendly thing to do: fix that leak.

Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-5785  Fax - (954) 828-4745

Think before you print!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Switch to Solar NIght Lights

Harness the sun's free energy to brighten up your driveway, paths, steps and decks. No wiring required!

By The Daily Green Staff

Now you can harness the sun to illuminate your driveway, paths, steps and decks with easy-to-install solar lights that recharge (for free) during the day.
Let the light of the day brighten up your night. Powered by a built-in photocell, solar night-lights require no wiring and no electricity, and they turn on automatically at night.
Designed to look great whether you like traditional or modern, these energy-savers are available both in-store and online. They are becoming increasingly popular, particularly since they are so much easier to install than traditional wired systems. If you decide you don't like where you put them, or simply want to expand or mix things up, they are also much easier to move than wired units.
Also check out the forthcoming book Green Lighting!

Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-5785  Fax - (954) 828-4745

Think before you print!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tree Thursday - Paradise Tree

Paradise Tree
Simarouba glauca
An under-used South Florida native, Paradise Tree is found naturally in coastal hammocks throughout South Florida, the Keys, the Caribbean and Tropical America.  Relatively fast growing, it is a common component of the upper canopy, effortlessly reaching heights of greater than 40 feet.  The Paradise Tree can make a beautiful shade or street tree in the right areas.  Many have been planted in the South Middle River area of Fort Lauderdale and seem to be doing fine.  The Paradise Tree seems to thrive in a sandy soil.
The Paradise Tree has a smooth reddish brown and gray bark and compound leaves that emerge colored red and gold.  The tree has an open canopy that grows into a rounded top as it gets older.  It does get a fruit that is about 1” long and ripens to a black color.  Most times the fruit is eaten by birds before it gets a chance to ripen fully.  In the past, the Paradise Tree has been a source of resins, oils and pharmaceutical compounds.  Some studies have shown that the oil from the seed can be used as an edible oil and possibly a source of bio-diesel (
Growth Rate: Medium
Drought Tolerance: High
Salt Tolerance: High
For more information:

Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-5785  Fax - (954) 828-4745

Think before you print!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Broward County Urges Residents to Report Smoking Vehicles

Broward County Urges Residents to Report Smoking Vehicles
DATE: August 28, 2012
MEDIA CONTACT: Maribel Feliciano
Broward County Air Quality Program
PHONE: 954-519-1260, 954-290-6753, 954-290-3940
How often do you find yourself driving behind a smoking vehicle? You roll the windows up, close the vents and can still smell the fumes. In an effort to alleviate this problem, the Broward County Air Quality Program created the Smoking Vehicle Program. One of the main goals of this voluntary program is to educate the public about the effects of smoking vehicles and what actions they can take to help resolve this problem.

A smoking vehicle is any car, bus or truck that generates smoke from the exhaust pipe continuously for more than five seconds. This smoke is made up of tiny particles that can lodge in your lungs and is a major contributor to respiratory diseases such as asthma and emphysema.

To report a smoking vehicle, call the Smoking Vehicles Complaint Line at 954-519-1499, or visit and click REPORT SMOKING VEHICLES to complete an online complaint form. Reports can be anonymous and should include the following:
  • Vehicle's Florida license plate number
  • Make/type and color of vehicle
  • Date and time of observing the smoking vehicle
  • Location (i.e. I-95 Northbound at Oakland Park Blvd.)
Residents can do their part to keep Broward County’s air clean by reporting smoking vehicles and keeping them off the road.
Interesting facts about motor vehicles:
  • About 30 percent of Broward County’s greenhouse gas emissions come from passenger cars and light duty trucks.
  • Smoking vehicles generate 10 to 15 times more pollution than well-tuned vehicles.
  • Smoking vehicles contribute 20 to 30 percent of the soot and particles in the air.
  • Motor vehicles account for more than 50 percent of the air pollution in Broward County.
  • Between 2002 and 2011, more than 3,000 smoking vehicle complaints were reported in Broward County.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Plant Street Trees to Clean the Air

Plant Street Trees to Clean the Air
By Dan Shapley

Planting trees is good for the environment, good for the soul, good for the local economy... and, it turns out, even better for our health than previously thought.
A recent study published in Environmental Science & Technology found that trees and other green plants can reduce two key air pollutants eight times more than previously known.
Nitrogen dioxide and fine particulates are two key components of smog and soot, which can damage lungs, make outdoor exercise unsafe and send asthmatics running to the emergency room at high rates. Both pollutants, however, can be reduced by as much as 40% (nitrogen dioxide) to 60% (fine particulates) if trees, shrubs, ivy and even grass are planted in so-called "urban street canyons." Trees, in fact, may be less effective than smaller greenery, since pollutants may be trapped beneath the tree canopy in some cases.
While city dwellers, particularly renters, often don't have the right to plant trees or other greenery outside their buildings, we can all urge neighborhood associations, co-op boards and local governments to invest in plantings that beautify the streetscape and cleanse the air. Outside of cities, homeowners should take note of local codes before planting street trees, too.
Trees, of course, have many benefits, in urban, suburban or rural environments. Strategically planted, trees can also reduce home energy use by as much as 30%, according to the Arbor Day Foundation, and street trees may boost home values in the neighborhood by more than $10,000, according to a 2010 Forest Service study.

Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-5785  Fax - (954) 828-4745

Think before you print!