Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope all of you have a great Thanksgiving that is as “green” as can be!  And Happy Hanukkah!

Check articles in this blog that are labeled “holidays” for some green ideas!  Also, remember to shop local and buy locally made if possible! 

How to Have a Green Thanksgiving

, eHow Contributor

Think "green" this Thanksgiving. You'll feel better about yourself when you are giving back for all that you have to be thankful for. Plan an eco-friendly holiday. Big celebrations don't have to negatively impact the environment. Go organic, get creative and reduce your waste. Do your part to make this Thanksgiving holiday a little more "green." Even if you are traveling lots of miles and using up lots of gas, it isn't too difficult to help even out that carbon footprint if you are conscious of all the other choices you make along the way.

<![if !supportLists]>1.    <![endif]>Serve organic foods. Organic foods are completely chemical-free and less harmful to the environment.
<![if !supportLists]>2.    <![endif]>Keep decorations simple. It's tempting to purchase Thanksgiving decorations, but many of these plastic and paper items end up in the landfills.
<![if !supportLists]>3.    <![endif]>Celebrate your green holiday with neighbors. Many people travel great distances during the Thanksgiving Holidays. This consumes an excessive amount of energy in a short amount of time. Reduce energy waste when you invite your neighbors to Thanksgiving dinner. Use traditional silverware.
<![if !supportLists]>4.    <![endif]>Avoid using paper plates and plastic silverware.
<![if !supportLists]>5.    <![endif]>Compost your leftovers you just can’t eat. While it is better to only cook what you'll use, there are often plenty of leftovers after Thanksgiving dinner.
<![if !supportLists]>6.    <![endif]>Talk about the things that matter to you around the dinner table. When it's your turn to list what you are thankful for, talk about the environment and what being "green" means to you.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Living Large - But leaving a small footprint.

By Tom Swick
Photos by Kara Starzyk
May & June 2013 |

Enter Carolyn Plummer’s house on Nurmi Isle and the first thing that impresses you is the spaciousness. Soaring ceilings, distant walls. “I removed
one of the barrier walls,” she says. If not for the steps down into the living area you could move the sofas, hang a backboard, invite the neighbors and have a half-court game. Easily.

There’s also the light. Even on an overcast day it streams in through the large windows, and gets magnified by the predominantly white interior.  But probably the most impressive thing about the house is something you can’t see: It is Broward County’s only LEED certified remodel. (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.) Inside – as well as outside – it appears to be a brand new house, contemporary and clean and, as you discover, eco-friendly. But it is actually a renovation.
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“I wanted to live in this area,” says Plummer, who is co-owner of It’s A 10 Hair Care. She was living in Parkland, and drove up and down the isles on either side of Las Olas Boulevard looking for something that had “good bones.” What she found was a house – “very 1980s” – that had been sitting empty for over two years. Her five-year-old daughter, Kyana, called it The Cucaracha House. “We pretty much brought the house down to the cinder blocks,” she explains. And then she created a minimalist palace with “a modern Zen feel.” The front yard contains a small Japanese garden of sand and rocks, with spare, rustic wood furniture (including a bench that stretches strategically over the gas tank cover). Some of the trees that border it are recycled from the previous landscape. A three-tiered fountain provides a soothing sound and, on the front steps, three large, perfectly smoothed stones sit atop one another.

Plummer’s goal was “naturalist modern,” with “a mixing of elements: water, fire, wood.” In addition to the fountain in the front, the original pool –
now resurfaced – overlooks the canal in the back. Underneath the kitchen sink sits a Kangen water machine, which puts the tap water through an ionization process, making it more alkaline. It also frees Plummer from buying bottled water. In addition, she installed a rain barrel by the side of the house. Even the sprinkler system is conscientious, judiciously seeping water into the lawn rather than spraying onto the street. The kitchen – a high-ceilinged space that flows freely into the living area – has a hibachi grill and an energy-efficient induction stove. Ventilation fans pop up at the push of a button as do, on the counter, electrical outlets. The gas fireplace sits across the way, under a wall of humidity-absorbent tile. Plummer splashes some water onto two small squares to show how quickly the drops disappear. The wood throughout the house is walnut, including the dining table, which is “one huge slab of walnut.” The bedroom floors are American walnut.

The second master bathroom has a champagne tub, its bubbles coming up quietly from the bottom (with none of the noisy pumps of a Jacuzzi). Plummer points to two narrow parallel vents high up in the ceiling; they’re part of the cooling and heating system. The windows all have e-coating for UV protection and also reduction of the sun’s heat. Plummer says her electric bill is $400 to $500 a month, while her neighbor’s is over five times that. The lighting is also LEED certified. “It’s not symmetrical,” Plummer says. “It’s for ambiance more than for direct light.” Outside, a two-story vertical light, encased in granite tile, flanks each side of the main entrance. The lighting, like everything else – temperature, security system, blinds, cable, music – is controlled by Crestron, which Plummer can operate from her laptop anywhere in the world. Sitting in the garage, naturally, is a solar and electric car.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Recycling Mystery: Toothbrushes & Toothpaste Tubes

Recycling Mystery from Mary Mazzoni 08/30/12

Oral care products, such as toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes, can seem nearly impossible to recycle. After all, how would a recycler remove all of that extra toothpaste from the tube or dissasemble a toothbrush for recycling? Let’s take a closer look at this recycling mystery to get the low-down on how to keep our pearly whites healthy without contributing to landfill waste.
How are oral care products recycled?
Oral care products and packaging vary greatly by material and can include different numbered plastics, along with aluminum, steel and nylon. In most cases, each of these components must be processed separately – meaning a tricky job for recyclers.
“Toothbrushes are one of the most complicated items that we collect for recycling across the board, simply because they’re made up of three different components,” said Stacey Krauss, U.S. public relations manager for Terracycle, which accepts toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes, mouthwash containers and dental floss packaging through the mail-back Oral Care Brigade.
“There’s the nylon bristles, there’s a metal staple that holds the bristles in place, and then there’s the plastic handle. So, all three of those materials need to be separated before they can be processed,” she explained.
After toothbrush components are separated, metals are processed through standard recycling, while nylon and plastics are shredded, cleaned and pelletized for use in Terracycle products – including picnic tables, benches, playground equipment, bike racks and garden tools, Krauss said.
The sticky residue inevitably left inside toothpaste tubes makes these picks seem like another head-scratcher, but they’re actually much easier to recycle than you’d think, Terracycle’s lead scientist, Ernie Simpson, told Earth911.
“For bottles, toothpaste tubes or anything like that, one of the tricks for getting residuals out of these containers is to shred the material,” Simpson said. “Once the materials are shredded, the surface area that has the residuals is exposed.”
After toothpaste tubes are shredded, they pass through a washing cycle – where the pieces are cleaned with water or a simple biocide, a solution that dissolves bio-based materials. From there, shredded tubes are dried and enter a pelletizing step, where recycled materials are converted into pellets for use in new products.
Similar shredding and pelletizing processes are used for salvaging mouthwash containers and dental floss packaging for recycling, Simpson said.
Can I recycle oral care products locally?
Through the Terracycle Oral Care Brigade, consumers can fill a box with toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes and other bathroom leftovers and mail it back to Terracycle for recycling. For each item mailed back, you’ll receive two Terracycle points – which can be redeemed for cash donations to the school or charity of your choice.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Green Toys

In honor of America Recycles Day, here’s an US company that takes milk containers and recycles them into toys.

The holidays are upon us and if you are buying toys for younger children you might want to check out Green Toys.  I have never bought from them but their green policies seem very sound.
Made in California, USA: Less Transportation, Less Energy
All Green Toys products are 100% made in the USA. To be more specific, they are produced in California, a state known for strict toy safety and environmental laws. It's cool to buy USA, but also think about this: transportation is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gasses. We all know driving less is good for Mother Nature, but did you ever think about how many miles a toy logs before it ends up in your local store?
Our toys are truly local creations. Every step in the process, from milk container recycling to toy production to final assembly, occurs in California. Our raw materials and toys aren't shipped from overseas, which saves a lot of energy and reduces greenhouse gasses. It also guarantees your toys won't get seasick before they get to your home!
Environmental Packaging
Green Toys environmental mission even extends to our packaging. We strive to minimize packaging, and all of our boxes use as little material as possible. All Green Toys products are packaged in recycled corrugated boxes with no plastics, cellophane or twist-ties, and are 100% recyclable. So, not only are they earth-friendly and ready for your recycling bin, they are really easy to open for those little fingers just itching to get at the toys!!
Not Every "Environmentally-Friendly" toy is a Green Toy™
Green Toys™ products are unique in the toy industry. Our raw material, packaging, supply chain and fulfillment are all located in the same US state, reducing transportation and therefore greenhouse gas emissions, as well as saves energy. Green Toys™ products are the only toys on the market made from 100% recycled post-consumer recycled materials, and our products are the only ones on the market packaged exclusively in 100% recyclable cardboard, with no twist ties or plastics that must be discarded into landfills.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Things You Can Recycle for Free

Friday is America Recycles Day.  Looking for different stuff to recycle?  Here’s some help –

November 4, 2013

There are a number of items we recycle on a regular basis. We put our paper, plastics, and aluminum out for curbside pickup. When our county holds a household hazardous waste day, we use it to recycle electronics, paints, and anything else that needs to be safely disposed. And when our linens become threadbare, we “recycle” those towels, sheets, and blankets by donating them to a local animal shelter.
What I didn’t know is that there are plenty of other products we use on a daily basis that can be recycled. That’s good to know in time for America Recycles Day, occurring November 15. According to Recyclebank, which offers rewards based on how much households recycle, here are 10 things you likely didn’t know you could recycle:

  1. Pet Fur: In our house we usually “recycle” pet fur, along with dryer lint, in one of two ways—by making fire starters for our fireplace, or by placing the fur in our compost pile. Turns out pet fur can be reused to make the mats and containment booms that companies use after an oil spill. Matter of Trust, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, uses donations of clean pet fur to make both the mats and booms from recycled pantyhose (see tip 6 below for more on how to recycle pantyhose). These designs effectively soak up oil without requiring the use of new resources.
  2. Bras: I’ve often donated bras when I bring my items to Goodwill, assuming they’re not too worn out to benefit someone else. Another way to recycle your bras is to send them to the Bosom Buddies Bra Recycling program, run by a textile recycling company. It donates bras of all shapes and sizes to local shelters, or redistributes them through exporters and organizations to women in developing nations. You can mail in your old bras or bring them to a drop-off location near you.
  3. Glasses and Hearing Aids: The Lions Club often collects old glasses, and recycles the frames to make new pairs of glasses for those living in developing nations who need vision correction but can’t afford glasses. (I’ve worn glasses since I was seven. I know how expensive they can be!) Another program that takes glasses as well as hearing aids is New Eyes for the Needy.
  4. Mattresses: Before buying your next mattress, see if the retailer will take your old one. Several mattress retailers will now accept used mattresses for recycling. Used mattresses are sent to a mattress recycling center, where they are turned into fiber for clothing, wood chips, foam products, and scrap metal. Check out the Earth 911 website for mattress recycling options near you.
  5. Greeting Cards: I’ll often recycle last year’s holiday cards into tags for this year’s holiday gifts. But if you’re not too crafty, you can send old cards to the St. Jude’s Ranch for Children Recycled Card Program, which turns old greeting cards into new ones.
  6. Pantyhose: Companies like No Nonsense recycle your old, nylon pantyhose by grinding them down and transforming them into park benches, playground equipment, carpets, and even toys. Here are two ways to reuse pantyhose at home for free: stuff them with old t-shirts to make a draft stopper that you put in front of drafty doors in winter, or fill them with ice melt, and put them in your gutters to keep any water that might collect there from freezing up.
  7. Compact Discs: Even though most music these days is downloaded, there are still plenty of CDs out in the world. You can send your discs to The CD Recycling Center, which will shred them into a fine powder that’s later melted down, and used for plastic in automotive and building materials.
  8. Tennis Balls: There are a few ways to recycle tennis balls. You can use them in the dryer, to help move clothes around and dry faster. Dogs also like old tennis balls as toys. And teachers who don’t like the sound of scraping desks and chairs will gladly take tennis balls off your hands so they can use them on furniture legs.
  9. Wine corks: Ever wonder where cork flooring comes from? Well, an organization called reCork turns wine corks into flooring tiles, along with building insulation, automotive gaskets, craft materials, soil conditioner, and sports equipment.
  10. Running Shoes: Even the most worn-out shoes can be recycled into building materials! Check out Recycled Runners for shoe recycling facilities and organizations near you. This is good to know, because I’ve always wanted to donate my daughters’ sneakers, but since they were too stinky, I felt bad handing them down to someone else.
Of course, this list just scratches the surface of where you can go to recycle things you use in your everyday life. One “service” I continue to rely on to get rid of things I no longer need is Freecycle, where one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. It’s the ultimate way to recycle household items you no longer want or need—by giving them away for free to others.
Leah Ingram is the author of 14 books, including two on frugal living: Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Happier and Healthier on Less (Adams Media, 2010) and Toss, Keep, Sell: The Suddenly Frugal Guide to Getting Organized and Making Money from Your Stuff (Adams Media, 2010). She is also the founder of the popular frugal-living blog called Suddenly Frugal. Right now if you subscribe to Suddenly Frugal, Leah will send you an exclusive freebie. Each week here on she’ll be covering different money-saving ideas as well as profiling frugal celebrities. If you have an idea, let her know. In the meantime, follow her on Twitter @suddenlyfrugal and “Like” Suddenly Frugal on Facebook.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Friday Funny

An “idea” for all you “greenies” traveling this holiday weekend.  :)

Have a green Veteran’s Day weekend!  Take time to remember those who served!

Long-Range Plug-In Electric Car
We offer a battery of green 'toons/comics here; this cartoons is from The Other Coast, by Adrian Raeside; Embed source:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Protecting Rare South Florida Plants

Feds extend protection to handful of rare South Florida plants

By Curtis Morgan

South Florida’s remaining pine rocklands, a forest habitat reduced to perhaps 1 percent of its historical acreage by decades of development, may win new federal protection after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week proposed listing as endangered two rare rocklands plants: the Florida brickell-bush and Carter’s small-flowered flax.
As a part of that move, the agency also wants to designate 2,707 acres of rocklands outside of Everglades National Park, which already protects the largest remaining tracts of woods, as “critical habitat” for both species.
In addition, wildlife managers on Wednesday announced that they have formally added three other rare Florida coastal plants to the federal endangered species list, including two found only in South Florida — the Cape Sable thoroughwort and Florida semaphore cactus.
Jaclyn Lopez, a Florida-based attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, which sued the service over its long backlog of delayed listings, said climate change is the biggest threat to the latest three plants to go on the federal list.
“These native plants are being squeezed out of existence — pressed between coastal development and rising sea levels,” said Lopez, a Center attorney based in Florida, in a release.
Federal wildlife managers, in their announcement, did not specifically mention climate change but cited habitat destruction and modification as key risks.
Development and farming destroyed most of Miami-Dade’s pine rocklands, which grow on Miami-Dade’s coastal limestone ridge and were the source of famed Dade County pine, a durable lumber used to build homes through the 1960s. Because the pine forest occupied the region’s highest and driest land, it also was among the earliest land to be developed in the county.
Most of the remaining pine rocklands in Miami-Dade are already in public hands as parks or conservation areas. The critical habitat doesn’t add any new regulatory teeth but it can boost efforts by state and local groups and agencies to maintain the land. Pine rocklands, for instance, are vulnerable to invasive plants and need periodic burning to thrive.
The dramatic loss of rocklands over the last century left many otherwise obscure plants that grow there among the rarest in North America, with some appearing only sporadically in a handful of spots.
Wildlife managers estimate that there are about 2,150 to 3,700 Florida brickell-bush plants and about 1,300 Carter’s small-flowered flax plants.
The two plants have been candidates for the federal listing since 1999 and are both already listed as endangered by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the proposal was part of its effort to reduce a backlog of 757 candidate species under a federal court-approved settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity. The other three Florida coastal plants that the agency will officially declare endangered this week are: •  The aboriginal prickly apple, a cactus found in 12 sites in Sarasota, Charlotte and Lee counties, among coastal strand vegetation and tropical coastal hammocks..
•  The Florida semaphore cactus, which grows in buttonwood forests and tropical hammocks in Biscayne National Park and on Little Torch Key.
•  The Cape Sable thoroughwort, which is found in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, mainly in Everglades National Park and the Florida Keys.
Beyond habitat loss, wildlife managers said the two cacti also are threatened by poaching and vandalism. The semaphore cactus also is at risk from disease and an invasive moth.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Recycled toothbrush in Mail Back Pack

  I wanted to share information about this great product, Preserve Toothbrushes,that a friend showed me.  It’s a toothbrush made from recycled yogurt cups.  That in itself is great but the wonderful part is that it comes in a mail back pack.   Three months later when you are done with the toothbrush, you place it in the packaging and mail it back and it’s turned into plastic lumber!  What a great concept and it’s made in the USA!

The company also makes other personal care, tableware and kitchen products from recycled plastics.  Here’s some more information from their website:

Toothbrush in Mail Back Pack
We consulted closely with dental professionals to create a toothbrush that gets your teeth cleaner but minimizes your impact on the environment. The design includes a curved handle for those hard-to-reach places and a three-level bristle arrangement to massage your gums. And while the bristles are brand new, the handle is made from recycled yogurt cups.

Enjoy the same best selling Preserve Toothbrush whether you choose the Travel Case or Mail Back Pack. The Mail Back Pack is a revolutionary approach to packaging. The lightweight package doubles as a return envelope. Just pop your used Preserve toothbrush inside and send it back to us for recycling (our dentist friends recommend replacing your brush every three months!). You can also recycle it via our Gimme 5 program.

  • Powered by recycled yogurt cups™
  • Handle 100% recycled #5 plastic; bristles new nylon
  • Easy-to-grip curved handle
  • Tiered bristles for gentle, thorough cleaning
  • Completely recyclable after use
  • Toothbrush replacement subscription service available
  • BPA free
  • Made in the USA

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

America Recycles Day coming November 15th!

Is LEED Certification Effective: A Case Study of Destiny USA

Edited from a media release: “Destiny USA, a 2.4 million square foot super regional shopping center which includes a LEED® Gold certified 850,000 sq. ft., is in Syracuse, New York.  It has luxury outlets, company stores, off-price retail, traditional anchors and mall shops that provide something for everyone.”

Is LEED Certification Effective: A Case Study of Destiny USA
By Rob Schoeneck, General Manager, Destiny USA

At Destiny USA there's always a lot of buzz generated around our LEED© certification. When we began the expansion, we wanted to continue the commitment to the environment we began when first building Carousel Center in 1990. Now, having just celebrated our one-year anniversary as Destiny USA, we are proud to be recognized not only as a premier shopping center, but as the largest LEED© Gold commercial retail building in the world. Yet with all the talk around LEED©, many are left wondering what it really means and whether it's actually beneficial.

LEED© stands for “Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design” and is a program run by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) to provide a universal framework for implementing green building design and construction. In addition to the LEED© program, the USGBC offers educational resources, a nationwide network of chapters and affiliates and serves as the host of the annual Greenbuild International Conference & Expo.  Furthermore, they’re driving the green movement within all levels of local and national government.

LEED© & Destiny USA

So that is what LEED© is at a high level, but what does it mean for Destiny USA? Destiny USA was rated Gold for "Core & Shell," which focuses on constructing an eco-conscious, sustainable build-out that will ultimately be filled with tenants. The rating system goes Certified > Silver > Gold > Platinum, and is further broken down into a points system. Out of the 62 total points available, Destiny USA earned 36 to qualify for the Gold rating.

As it specifically applies to Destiny USA, here are a few highlights:

To address a local environmental issue, we chose to transform an environmental wasteland dubbed "Oil City." The land was a former Brownfield Site, meaning it was severely environmentally damaged, and dozens of hazardous oil drums were removed before the site was cleaned and construction began.

Destiny USA scored a 5/5 in the water efficiency category. Part of this included the implementation of innovative wastewater technologies. For example, each of the facility's bathrooms is equipped with low flow sink and toilet fixtures that contribute to the overall water efficiency. We also installed water efficient landscaping, meaning we planted indigenous plants that don’t need potable water brought to them. Finally, we implemented a rainwater harvesting system on the new roof that translates into a 78% reduction in the building's baseline usage.

Additionally, Destiny USA requires all retailers opening within its expansion to obtain LEED© certification, aiming to exponentially increase the impact we’re having. To help, Destiny USA built a unique partnership with the USGBC which provides new retailers with a base set of points to work toward their certification. Since most tenants had never worked with LEED© before, our hope was that the initiative would open their eyes to green building and encourage them to start thinking sustainably. To date, 33 venues, including our new restaurants and entertainment locations, have obtained LEED© certification, with another 30 pending approval. Even more encouraging, seeing the rewards, many tenants have gone above and beyond simply getting certified, and have set their sights on a Silver or Gold rating.

For more information on what they have done, go to:

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Florida Urban Forestry Council

I bet most of you didn't know that just about every state has an Urban Forestry Council and there's even a National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council.  I have been associated with the Florida Urban Forestry Council (FUFC) since its inception in
1991.  I currently sit on the Executive Committee as the City Arborist representative.  The main goal of the FUFC and other urban forestry councils is to promote the sound urban forestry policies and practices throughout the state.

Sound Urban Forestry is critical to creating a sustainable environment within our cities and communities.  I invite you to explore the FUFC website and encourage you to become a member so that you might be informed.  Below is information on the latest Council Quarterly membership newsletter.  Members also receive a monthly eNews message called "In a Nutshell."  

The Council Quarterly 2013 Issue Three

Inside this issue:
  • Updating Your Tree Ordinance, A Mayor's Perspective
  • Mobile Applications for Urban Forestry
  • Gainesville Hugs Its Trees
  • Friends of Our Urban Forest Awards Application
  • Stump the Forester ** NEW FEATURE **
  • Letters to the Editor  **NEW FEATURE **
  • Tree of the Quarter- Nuttall Oak
  • Managing Community Spotlight - City of Brooksville
 To read these articles and more, download the latest Council Quarterly .
Thank you for your continued support of the
Florida Urban Forestry Council!

Thank You To Our Sustaining Sponsors