Green Blog
| Helping environmentally-conscientious business leaders choose environmentally-friendly solutions.

government initiatives

Canadian Newspaper Has It Right: To Go Green Cut Down On Packaging

August 30, 2010

Canada is a big source of American packaging material, and that includes newsprint. 

So applause should be offered to a recent editorial in the Peace Arch News, a newspaper which is distributed in the Metro Vancouver communities of South Surrey and the city of White Rock, British Columbia, Canada that face the U.S. border which called for manufacturers and retailers to cut down on the waste.

Here are some excerpts from the piece: 

"The sheer amount of packaging we deal with every day is staggering. According to the U.S.-based Dogwood Alliance, 25 per cent of the 2.4 million hectares of trees cut down every year in the southeastern United States ends up wrapping and boxing consumer goods."

"The computer age, which was supposed to diminish our need for paper, has only made things worse."

"The little plastic cartridges for inkjet printers, for instance, are notoriously over-packaged, contained in complicated boxes, attached to cardboard or plastic trays, wrapped in sticky plastic and accompanied by a series of instruction pamphlets and promotional paperwork."

The problem, says the editorial "is compounded if you happened to order that inkjet cartridge from an online retailer; chances are it was shipped in a cardboard box five or six times larger than the already voluminous box encasing the little plastic cartridge, and then further protected by crumpled paper, bubblewrap or styrofoam peanuts."

 "Responsible, environmentally-conscious consumers can only do so much to keep all these boxes, containers, trays and whatnot from filling landfills."

For Metro Vancouver and environs like nearly every city is facing a waste management problem.











A Practical Way To Use Electric Vehicles: Commute/Reverse Commute Station Cars

July 21, 2010

Electric vehicles (EV) presently and will continue to suffer one crippling flaw for most applications: the lack of range. Note the words 'most applications' for there is an imaginative and practical means of using them that is discussed later on.

A recent National Post 'Motor Mouth' article by David Booth points out that the batteries required to move EVs generate electrical energy far less efficiently than do gasoline or other fuels.  Gasoline produces about 6,000 watt-hours/pound whereas the "most optimistic numbers" he has seen for advanced lithium-ion batteries is 110 watt-hours/pound. 

"That means good old- fashioned gasoline punches 54 times harder for the same amount of weight, the fundamental reason electric cars' ranges are so pitiful compared with those fossil fuelled," writes Booth.

Simply put: there is no way you can pack that much battery power to match what gasoline, or even less efficient fuels like compressed natural gas (used in fleet vehicles, like taxis) can produce for your typical trips.

What about the vaunted greater efficiency of electric motors?

"In the electric vehicles' defence, electric motors transmit that energy more efficiently to the road," says Booth. "Some electric motors boast 90% efficiency, while internal-combustion engines can transmit as little as 15% of their energy into vehicular motivation. However, even being generous, that means EVs face a nine- times deficit versus traditional cars."

And that doesn't take into account driving on hilly terrain.











Dump BP, Dump the Pump (But Enable The Alternatives)

June 16, 2010

With excellent timing, following U.S. President Barack Obama's taking BP to the woodshed for what may have been a preventable Gulf of Mexico oil drilling disaster the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) issued a release asking people to ride mass transit on June 17, the 5th annual National Dump the Pump Day. 

"Sponsored by APTA which is partnering with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Sierra Club this year, the National Dump the Pump Day is a public awareness day that highlights the benefits of public transportation, two of which are saving money and promoting energy independence."

"This year offers more than an opportunity for people to save money by using public transit," said APTA President William Millar.  "Given the Gulf spill crisis, Americans can also make a statement in support of public transit and its ability to help our country reduce its reliance on oil.

Cars, Sprawl Are Killing Us: American Public Health Association

May 24, 2010

If there is any doubt that locating in car-oriented poor-transit served office parks and residing in likewise-vehicle-dependent low-density suburbs are injurious to our health--and one reason why healthcare costs are so high--a new report by the American Public Health Association, "The Hidden Health Costs of Transportation," should quell them.

The report's data indicates that if organizations truly want to make a difference in their costs, environment and quality of life that they need to get out of the "parks" altogether. For no matter how "green" the buildings in energy efficiency the dirt from the pollution and other even more deadly and expensive impacts on public health from car dependence resulting from their locations far outweigh the benefits.

This comprehensive study, prepared for the APHA by UrbanDesign 4Health examines all impacts and their staggering costs in 2008 dollars from transportation and land use that is shaped by and which shapes transportation choices.

Steel Rails are Green

May 6, 2010

A new report from the BlueGreen Alliance and the Economic Policy InstituteFull Speed Ahead: Creating Green Jobs Through Freight Rail Expansion, confirms what rail and many environment advocates and industry sources have been pointing out for years: rails are green and in more ways than one. So instead of ripping out railroad tracks in favor of highways: the dominant government policy for the past 90 years, governments should instead enable investing money into freight rail.

Shipping goods on trains in whole or in part of intermodal (ship/truck-rail) movements uses less energy and land, emits fewer pollutants at greater labor productivity than all-truck for medium to high volumes of freight over likewise distance: short distance heavy movements, such as aggregates are also more efficiently carried on trains. On a per-ton basis, trucking uses on average four times the energy to transport freight versus rail, says the report.

The Marketplace Is The Answer For A Green Planet...And Tech

April 1, 2010

Forget save-the-planet sentiments and actions like last Saturday's Earth Hour,  and laws, and regulations.

The only way people and organizations will truly go green, and saving the earth and in turn boosting the market for green products and practices is by making them i.e. us pay the full costs i.e. environmental and related healthcare and other expenses for the damage we incur both directly and indirectly and add that to the prices of what we buy. 

And then let the marketplace works its magic to efficiently allocate resources... 

In other words if you want to telecommute from an insulated-up-the tailfeathers townhouse that relies on solar energy for cooling and heating, supplemented by fans and hot-water bottles respectively...and if you want to drive a tank to your office park from a mansion whose A/C is at 60 and the heat at 75...both of which is your right...then you pay accordingly for the Earth you use.



Mining Environmental and Social Responsibility

March 11, 2010

Mining is one of the oldest industries there is and for good reason: the resources these firms extract are essential for practically every good and service we enjoy, directly and indirectly. There will continue to be mines for most elements as there is and will be for some time more demand for the products and services that the materials go into than what can be recycled and conserved. Even recycled steel melted in electric furnaces often needs bars of pig iron, created in coke (converted from coal)-fired blast furnaces.

While mining, like many industries, do pollute through both generating emissions and scouring and despoiling the earth, there is nothing intrinsically totally 'black' about it; holes can be filled or lessened and tailing ponds can be minimized and cleaned up.

Here's How to Help Keep British Columbia (Properly) Green After The Winter Olympics

March 1, 2010

Amidst climate change that has led to an unusually warm winter even by West Coast standards that made mush out of Cypress, the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games has seen some green achievements, some of which are staying and others which are leaving, but can stay if only businesses, governments and individuals can take action.

* One of the most significant is the expansion of the TransLink transit system both permanent and temporary to accommodate massive numbers of people, and they did. During the first week of the Olympics more people than ever before - way more - more than 1.6 million people per day rode TransLink's network of diesel and electric trolley buses, urban rapid transit and commuter trains, and ferries. 

Trust me: they were packed. Even from the car-oriented suburbs like where we live there were standees all the way in and out, nearly 24 hours a day. 

"Week one ridership has been staggering and our system has been equal to the task," says TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis.  "This is a testament to a solid plan that built in the flexibility to respond and the great execution of our planners, transit operators, mechanics, customer service personnel and transit hosts."

* Companies heeded the call to working from home including firms such as CounterPath, which makes softphones and Telus, a leading carrier which markets and supplies work-at-home solutions

The hope is that the high transit and telework use continues with the ending of the Olympics.







Desiring Streetcars

January 26, 2010

        
 
One of the greenest ways of getting around is electric streetcars. These elegant, comfortable rail vehicles use far less energy than cars, can draw their power from sources other than fossil fuels, are much more attractive than buses and can shape development.

Once the primary means of getting around, streetcars were targeted for elimination by a combination of an apathetic public sold on the vision of unlimited mobility, not realizing that the dark side of congestion and environmental destruction lay just around the corner and by the beneficiary car and tire makers and petroleum companies. Now streetcars have been making a comeback in cities throughout North America.

Keeping the Desert Green By Banning Solar Plants, Wind Farms

December 22, 2009

One of our blog's readers, Sally, sent me a Dec.21 New York Times story on legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein to protect some 1 million acres of the Mojave Desert in California for two parks, the Mojave Trails National Monument and the Sand to Snow National Monument. Yet doing this, said the paper, will scuttle some 13 big solar plants and wind farms planned for these lands via leases.

The newspaper reports that a fair-sized portion of that land had been donated to the federal government a decade ago by an environmental group, which had purchased the property from Catellus Development with private and federal money. The rest has been protected in some form or another.

1 2 3 4 5 6 Next
Featured Events