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Category Archives:

Waste

Do You Know About the Swedish Dishcloth?

While the sorts of environmental problems that can best be solved by “green” consumerism are admittedly small, they do add up if a lot of us do them together. One of my guiltiest pleasures is my love of paper towels. They clean up everything and you can just get rid of them- you can even compost them. But despite all the rationalizations, the numbers speak for themselves: In the US alone, we use 13 BILLION pounds of paper towels, or 45 pounds per person per year. And while I can’t find any numbers on sponges, they usually stay wet for long periods of time and can harbor all sorts of bacteria. In fact, the kitchen sponge may be the dirtiest thing in your entire house!

The Swedish Dishcloth has the amazing ability to (mostly) replace both products and change your life.

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Will Sell-By Dates Soon Be a Thing of the Past?

Ah, sell-by dates, those little stamps that are supposed to reassure us that the foods we buy aren’t spoiled. Most of us check them regualrly, if not obsessively, and trust that if we stay within their parameters, we can avoid making ourselves sick.

But according to NPR, two of the leading food industry groups would like to see them expire.

Why?

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Teachers! Check Out the New Green Design Lab Website

gdl_blogThe Solar One Education team is excited to launch our new, enhanced website, thegreendesignlab.org!

The new website is easy to navigate and offers new features for registering for our Professional Development Workshops, the Green Design Lab Energy Challenge, and a host of resources for our Sustainable Schools Network members!

Since its inception 6 years ago, the Green Design Lab has grown to reach teachers and students in over 400 schools. During this time, Solar One Educators have provided professional development training for teachers on our hands-on curriculum, in-class programming for students, and support for energy reduction and school sustainability projects. With the development and growth of the Green Design Lab Sustainable Schools Network (SSN), Solar One Educators have reached teachers across the United States.

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What We’re Up Against, in Pictures

amazoncowsPopulation growth and overconsumption are two of the major factors driving environmental degradation and climate change. Growing populations enjoying ever more material comforts has been the hallmark of human progress for more than 100 years.

While we have a certain amount of control over some decisions, like how many children to have, how much stuff to buy and other personal decisions that have a lot of impact, a lot of the costs of consumption are hidden far away. How can we develop a better understanding of how our modern Western lifestyles, now spreading across the globe, affect the places that have to supply the resources that make those lifestyles possible?

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What Seagulls Can Teach Us About Ecosystems

seagullsSeagulls, they’re everywhere, am I right? Like pigeons, it may be hard for New Yorkers to see them as “wildlife” when they act like such annoying scavengers so much of the time. And because they’re what are known as “opportunistic carnivores”, they tend to hang around the species that provides the most food opportunities- humans.

But actually we can learn a lot from seagulls, and especially how they’re affected by our behavior.

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Goodbye, Expanded Polystyrene Foam, We Will Not Miss You

plasticfoamThis is a picture of a piece of expanded polystyrene foam- the ubiquitous squishy plastic foam that takeout food containers, hot coffee cups, hospital and school meal trays and packing peanuts are all commonly made from- under an electron microscope. Plastic foam (often referred to by the brand name Styrofoam) is lightweight and well insulating; it’s also unrecyclable and pretty damn near indestructible when put into a landfill.

There’s been talk of a NYC ban on plastic foam products for years, and a ban was actually approved under Mayor Bloomberg in 2013, but the city decided to do a study to see whether there might be an effective and efficient way to recycle it. That study concluded that trying to recycle the foam wouldn’t be feasible, so now it’s out. 

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