Saturday, March 28, 2009

It's always time for a good laugh

Just figured we all could use a little laugh today.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Let the people know.

Yesterday, I was talking to someone on the staff of our local newspaper. He was confirming that I wrote a letter to the editor and that I wanted it printed. Once I confirmed my intent, I asked him about the possibility of me getting an Op Ed piece printed. He described the requirements and I found that I could get one published.

He asked me what I wanted to discuss and when I told him I wanted to talk about compact fluorescent light bulbs, he perked up. He asked me a number of questions about them, and his interest was purely personal. He had heard about them and considered purchasing them, but wasn't sure of their benefits. We had a 10 minute conversation about them that ended with him telling me he was looking forward to getting my Op Ed piece.

Hopefully, I'll have my piece done next week and I'll share it with y'all. I'm excited because I'm finding that there is a lot of interest in CFLs, but there is also a lot of misinformation and lack of information, even among some government agencies.

Wish me luck!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Green planning of the Road Trip

As many of you know, esp. if you have followed this blog long, Jeni and I will be taking a road trip exploring America this summer as my gift to her for getting her Masters in Teaching.

My main objective with Going Green by Accident is to demonstrate that it's possible to live our normal lives and still be responsible residents of Planet Earth. I want this trip to be a crowing example. What is more "American" than a summer vacation, esp. one that involves driving across the country?

As we get closer to the June 13th kick-off to the Great American Road Trip, I have begun to plan and including responsible choices is a big part of those plans. Getting an energy efficient, low emission vehicle is the starting point. I don't own one yet, so I've begun investigating where I can rent one. My local results were less than encouraging. One major chain said that they used to have a whole fleet of Priuses, but when it came time to swap the cars for newer ones, they chose not to return to hybrids. I wonder if their reasoning was motivated by lack of customer interest, cost of hybrids, or a combination of both. I found one company that has one Prius, so that may be the one I drive this summer.

What would be amazing would be for a dealership or auto maker to donate the use of a hybrid, perhaps a new version just hitting the market. We will be driving in almost every kind of driving conditions that Americans drive daily, with the exception of snow. I mean we cross the Rocky Mountains twice in less than 5 days. We'll be driving in big cities, like New Orleans, Dallas, Denver, Seattle, and Chicago, as well as cruising the heartland of America in Kansas and Oklahoma. I think this trip has the makings of a great ad campaign. Come on Ford, this is your chance to get back in touch with the American driver.

Ok, so maybe that last paragraph was a bit of a dream, but you can't blame me.

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to be looking for more ways to "green" our trip. If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments sections. The ones that we implement will be featured in a post and perhaps the best ones can result in a small prize package from our trip.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

If only I knew where to take this stuff...

If the only thing holding you back from being a responsible resident of Planet Earth is lack of knowledge on where to go or what things can be recycled , then today is your lucky day.

If you look up at the top of the page, just below the header you will see your answer. In partnership with, I've provided a tool to find where to take those empty plastic bottles, newspaper and cardboard boxes. If you wonder if there's a place to recycle your old cell phone, or that antifreeze or motor oil, this is the tool for you.

It's easy to use. Simply enter the item you want to recycle on the first line and then your location on the second and hit GO. In seconds, you will have a list of places you need.

Go ahead, give it a try. It's fun, really, just try it.

Oh, one more thing...once you've found your place, please go there.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Another Award Winner!

While doing research for the last post on CFL bulbs, I stumbled across the today's winner. When planning these awards, I've focused on individuals, businesses, internet sites and groups. It never occurred to me to include government bodies. Today that changes.

Today's award winner is:
Greenville County Solid Waste Division

Our county has a great recycling program. It's highly accessible and has a wide range of items that can be recycled.

The Solid Waste Division is responsible for the landfills and the recycling efforts for Greenville County. GCSW provides 7 manned Residential Waste and Recycling Centers and 16 unmanned drop-off sites. With a population hovering around 400,000, Greenville County's efforts result in a recycling center for every 17,000 residents. Access to governmental sponsored recycling clearly is great.

The feature that excites me the most is the fantastic range of items that can be recycled. We can recycle appliances to auto tires, eye glasses to CFL bulbs, antifreeze to vegtable oil and the list goes on. Greenville County Solid Waste Division is constantly looking for ways they can recycle more items.

This is not a profit-making effort for the County. GCSW pays recycling venders to take the items they collect. They also have found creative ways to use items for which there are not any local vending options. Let me give you an example. All colors of glass bottles are collected, even though there are not any local companies in that market. Greenville County crushes the bottles into "cullet" small stone size pieces and mixes it with sand, gravel and other aggragates which then they use to make the roads throughout the landfill. In this way, they reuse a product that might otherwise end up filling the landfill and they save the taxpayers money by reducing the amount of aggragate needed.

Greenville County Solid Waste has special events, like "The Grinding of the Green" where they collect Christmas trees after the holidays and turn them into mulch available for municiple applications as well as being available for private citizens for free.

Greenville County residents are fortunate to live in a county that not only has many private recycling efforts, but also has a pro-active county government that encourages it's citizens to live responsibly. Take a minute to say thanks and then drop off those empty bottles, worn tires and old cell phones!

For more information on Greenville County Solid Waste or for information as to location of the recycling centers, visit:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Turning the Curly Fry Light on again

In an earlier post, we demonstrated that in spite of reports to the contrary, compact fluorescent light bulbs are safe for our homes. Oh, and by the way, they're great for our wallets.

Let's turn to their impact on the environment. I've read reports that claim that the environmental benefits of the curly fry lights is overrated because their harm to the environment far outweighs their benefits. So, the question is, do the CFLs have a net gain or net loss environmentally?

The Benefits:
1). CFL bulbs use energy more efficiently than incandescent bulbs.
-Almost 90% of the energy used by incandescent bulbs is lost in heat.
2). CFL bulbs require less energy.
-CFL bulbs are 4x more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs, according to General
Electric and Popular Mechanics
3).CFL bulbs last longer.
-They are reported to last from 5-10 years longer then their incandescent cousins.
4). Fewer light bulbs need to be manufactured to meet our current demand for lighting.
-The longer life of the curly fries means they are replaced less often resulting in less bulbs
5).CFL bulbs reduce the amount of mercury emitted by coal-fired power plants.
-The reduced need for energy that the CFLs demand results in 4x less mercury spewing from
those power plants. See the articles I referenced in my earlier post.

The Negatives:
1). CFL bulbs increase possible mercury contamination.
-If people dispose of their CFLs the way they did their incandescents, via the trash, there will
be an increase in potential mercury contamination.
2). There are few recycling options nationwide.
-As the CFL bulbs contain a toxic sustance, few recycling options present themselves.

These concerns have merit and need to be addressed.

Redecing potential mercury contamination is vital to a healthy world, but the mercury contamination threat posed by compact fluorescent lights is overstated. According to, the U.S. EPA estimates that America is responsible for the release of 104 metric tons of mercury emissions a year, most coming from coal-fired power plants. If all of the 290,000,000 CFL bulbs sold in 2007 ended up in landfills, rather than being recycled, they would add 0.13 metric tons or 0.1% to U.S. mercury emissions.

While it's true that recycling options nationwide are spotty when it comes to CFLs, there is a growing trend to provide options. Home Depot began a program in 2007 that allows customers to drop off expired curly fry bulbs. Home Depot sells the bulbs to companies that reclaim the mercury, crush the glass for reuse and recycle the metal parts. More communities are adding CFLs to the list of items they can recycle, using the same model as Home Depot.

It's time to total the environmental ledger: Obviously, CFLs are a complete net gain for our planet.

There is room for improvement, but in the end, I say, "Curly Fries for everyone!"

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Excited to go green

This post will be short as I am short on time. I apologize in advance. :D

I mentioned in an earlier post that the school has implemented a recycling program. It took a few weeks for my brain to catch on but then I realized that instead of throwing away papers that I am finished with I could keep them in my notebook and take them back to school.

Once at school I take those papers out of my notebook and toss them in the bin. (This is getting difficult at the moment because no one has come by to empty the bin. :D)

Now I get to the excited part. My mom recently printed out some receipts for me (online purchases) and as she divided up the papers she noticed that she had printed out a couple of extra pages.

I eagerly offered to take those pages with me back to school so I could put them in the recycling bin. She declined because she already recycles them. The most important part of that for me was looking back and seeing just how exited I was about recycling. :D