Archive for August, 2011

Every year we throw away 24 million tons of leaves and grass that can be composted.

The standard scene is always the same. You walk into the drugstore wanting something to drink. You buy a Gatorade and you get a plastic bag and a 8-inch receipt to go along with it. Before you walk out of the store, the receipt and bag are in the trash. What a waste.

It’s this type of waste that adds to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to climate change. But the companies that make plastic bags and receipts would be best to have a going-out-of-business sale because the tide is rolling against them.

This year, parts of Los Angeles have banned plastic bags. Long Beach, Calif., followed suit this month. The support to date has been overwhelming, according to politicians.

“When you talk about plastic bags, about 500 to 600 bags are used per person, per year, according to Los Angeles County,” Hampel said. “If there are 110,000 people in Burbank, and they use 550 bags, that’s 60.5 million bags.”

The change from paper to e-receipts is not happening at the city level, but is led by retailers. Whole Foods, Kmart, Old Navy, Nordstrom, Gap, Anthropologie and Sears are all sending emails to customers instead of doling out paper.

Electronic receipts may be emailed or uploaded to password-protected Web sites. The digital records are searchable, and can come in handy during tax season. No more lost receipts for returns.

The time is almost here that you can go into a store and get just a Gatorade without the receipt or paper. Just make sure you recycle that plastic bottle.

Use dried lemon peel to keep moths and bugs from your closet.

U.S. funding is drying up for international climate change efforts (Washington Post). The Post also has more on the delayed smog regulations.

Meeting peak summer power demand could be a challenge as older power plants close (NY Times).

The U.S. Secretary of the Interior will be in RI on Wednesday (Providence Journal).

Newport signs a consent decree to halt sewage discharge into the bay (Providence Journal).

Shell faces a North Sea oil leak (NY Times).

Recycling in apartment buildings has been a challenge (LA Times).

Pesticides are harming the Great Barrier Reef (BBC).

Clean out your refrigerator to make it more energy-efficient.

The Obama administration announces the first fuel-efficiency and emissions standards for trucks (NY Times). But it again delays action on standards for smog (LA Times).

A federal panel recommends stricter rules for fracking (NY Times).

A biologist tries to calculate the value of nature (NY Times).

Methane levels have decreased in recent decades, and scientists aren’t sure why (BBC).

Lights Out, Green In’s entire philosophy is devoted to cutting down energy in the short term until humans find a true alternative energy that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. So, it’s interesting to hear a counterpoint that unless more energy is used now, we could end up in a worse place simply due to lack of motivation to find an alternative energy.

That’s what an article in Forbes details:

We don’t have to stop economic growth at all, we can quite happily have around the same amount of it that we had in the 20th century. So that’s a large number of the Green Miserablists shown to be wrong. We don’t have to reduce or even severely limit our energy consumption: we just have to get the growth in our consumption from other than the usual sources. A large number of the Energy Miserablists shown to be wrong there too. Or, to boil it right down, the IPCC is telling us that the solution to climate change is economic growth and low-carbon energy generation. That’s absolutely all we have to do. Or as I pointed out at book length recently, a globalised market economy with a carbon tax will do just fine.

Of course, the writer is generalizing about economic growth. China, India and countries from Africa and South America all will obviously grow in large amounts as they continue to develop. That doesn’t mean that fully-developed countries in North America and Europe can use energy at their own pace. A small cut in those countries will still leave humans using far more energy by the end of this century than they are now – and we likely will have the proper motivation to find an alternative energy that works.

And in case you’re wondering, Australia has taken the carbon tax solution to heart, setting its eyes on 400 polluters.

The slow real estate market has helped conservation efforts (LA Times).

Some consumers are hoarding incandescent bulbs (Boston Globe). Here’s a side-by-side comparison of LED, CFL, and incandescent bulbs (CNET).

Lots more electric vehicle charging stations are coming to Massachusetts (Boston Globe).

Vacant lots are an ecosystem unto themselves (NY Times).