Tag Archives: sustainability

REI pursuing sustainability – getting rid of the polybags

When thinking about the sustainability of REI’s operations, the complexity of the task quickly becomes apparent. Where does a person start?

Our annual stewardship report details one such area: our efforts to reduce REI’s waste-to-landfill.

We conducted a retail waste audit to better understand the details. To paint a picture, imagine this: Our teams literally went “dumpster diving” to get a real behind-the-scenes look at our trash.

We confirmed what our retail employees had long assumed—plastic garment bags (also called polybags) were a major issue.

A long-time retail industry standard—or, “the way it was always done”—has been to protect clothing in plastic bags during transport to stores. For example, a seemingly inexpensive bag that held a $100 sweater was removed and discarded when it reached our shelves for customers.

That’s where we parted ways with our standard practice.

While we started to reduce the number of bags for REI-brand products, that was only a small part of the challenge. Considering other brand products make up about 80% of what the co-op sells, we needed partners to make a big difference.

One great brand we work with is prAna, the California-based climbing and yoga apparel company. It turns out that people at prAna had been asking themselves the same question.

 

 

Read the full storyPursuing Sustainability at REI: Eliminating What Shoppers Don’t See Delivers a Big Win

Zero-waste moving – Recopack moving boxes – made from recycled plastic trash

Welcome to Rent A Green Box, the first Zero-Waste pack and move solution in America!

Do you ever wonder why we’re cutting down our trees to make cardboard moving boxes that are used once, maybe twice, and then tossed into a landfill? After all, cardboard boxes aren’t just wasteful and inefficient, they’re also expensive, hard to tape, hard to stack, easily crushed, dirty and dusty. With over 16% of the population packing and moving each year, don’t you think it’s time for a CHANGE?

Be part of the “green” solution

You have the ability to choose between disposability and sustainability – and you’ll be excited to learn that choosing sustainability and moving green actually saves you money!

  • Cut your moving costs in half.
  • Recopacks, are made from recycled plastic trash.
  • Delivered for free, direct to your door and then picked up for free after you have them all unpacked.
  • They’ve got comfortable handles, stack perfectly, are easily locked during transport.

Prices:

  • Studio – $99 for 5 medium, 17 large, 3 extra-large (new cardboard $129)
  • Small – $149 for 10 medium, 30 large, 10 extra-large (new cardboard $219)
  • Medium – $229 for 20 medium, 40 large, 15 extra-large (new cardboard $319)
  • Large – $269 for 30 medium, 50 large, 20 extra-large (new cardboard $398)

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Local tribe of Chumash Native Americans goes all-in on sustainability

In perfect step with the wisdom and heritage of their ancestors — who lived in relative harmony with nature for thousands of prosperous years — the Santa Ynez Band of Mission Indians is turning its 130-acre reservation into a trailblazing example of sustainability in action.

During the past five years, with very little fanfare or recognition from the outside community, the Chumash people (as they are better known these days) have greened up every corner of their land, from the very public casino all the way down to their individual homes. With so many solar panels, biofuels, drought-tolerant plants, and creek-restoration projects underway — not to mention practical training for tribal members and loads of money being allocated to the cause — the Chumash efforts are not only at the forefront of what anyone else is doing in Santa Barbara County; they appear to be leading the state in this sort of development, as well.

“They are an actual vision of what can be achieved, and that is something the environmental movement needs. … It’s amazing and inspiring.”

And better yet, to hear the tribe tell it, they are just getting started.

Keep readingThe Sustainable Chumash

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Opinion: forget about global warming, instead focus on your local issues and your quality of life

I wrote this as a comment in response to a WSJ article where 16 scientists argue with other scientists about global warming.

 

I, too, chafe at the global warming paranoia, not because I don’t believe it is happening, but because I understand how many would question it. Not only is it catastrophic, but it is also very hard to “see.” One overly hot day or overly cold day, or even a decade, could be argued a million ways.

The issue here is not just global warming —  it is also the smaller issues that add up to it. Overfishing in our seas has wiped out populations, disrupted food chains, eviscerated industries, ruined livelihoods, and more. It took an awful lot of folks seeing that destruction to finally come on board for sustainable fishing.

Water use in California, Arizona, and Nevada is wiping out the Colorado River, forcing everyone downstream of it and millions of Mexicans to face ever harsher conditions. The river is now practically dry before it completes its journey. It’s not like this is necessary either. Americans, and specifically those in drier areas, can stand to drastically reduce their water use. Cutting their use by a full 75% would barely make their lives harder.

I could keep going with more of these. Many would think that they are unrelated to global warming, but to me they are the components that comprise the problem as a whole (i.e. overconsumption, greed, waste). The reasons for their occurrence are varied, but the solution to them always results in lower carbon emissions.

I find it frustrating that our leaders have latched onto global warming as the cause of the decade. Perhaps they think it will scare enough people to action. I always expected it to have the opposite reaction, even a perverse “might-as-well-give-up” reaction.

If, instead, we localized these issues and focused on improving lives (i.e. make environmentalism selfish) I think people would be compelled to action. With the added benefit of preventing catastrophic global warming problems.

Plus, in my opinion, this is what the world will look and act like anyways, if we are to solve the climate change problem.

Huntington Beach Green Expo


The 4th annual Huntington Beach Green Expo arrives Saturday, September 17, and runs from 9am to 5pm. It will be located at the HB Pier Plaza on the corner of PCH and Main St.

The free event put on by the HB Chamber of Commerce is a vendor showcase of goods and services. A good place to learn a lot about the latest in green technology. An important element for anyone in California and especially those in Huntington Beach.

After all, the city is leading the country in environmental issues and sustainability.

There are coastal wetlands with miles of protected lands for birds, fish, and all the large mammals that feed on them (dolphins, seals).

There is the recycling rate that was best in the State at 71% up from 45% in 1995. The local waste company, Rainbow Recycling, will be at the Expo.

If you’ve been down to City Hall or Central Library then you’ve seen the solar panels in the parking lot. These panels are expected to turn 40% of building energy use to solar. Several solar companies will be at the event.

Finally, there is the contentious plastic bag ban on all single use bags. The city council is largely split on this issue and so are the residents, but it is likely to pass.

That is not to say that we don’t have our issues. In a recent post, I explored the surfboard industry and found out that surfboards are dirty. I mean super toxic and not at all recyclable; something Surf City can’t ignore.

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The Sustainable Executive Order – 13514

The Department of Energy (DOE/FEMP) is holding a monthly online seminar focusing on sustainability. The sessions provide support for legions of federal workers that are leading the nation into our new green economy.

The first session (of six) focuses on Executive Order 13514, commonly called the sustainable order. The following training sessions are as follows:

  • Mar 4 – Energy 101
  • Apr 1 – Water Efficiency Planning and Implementation
  • May 6 – Federal Greenhouse Gas Accounting and Reporting
  • Jun 3 – Advanced Metering Requirements and Best Practices
  • Jul 1 – Operations, Maintenance, and Commissioning

Each session is available for free through online video streaming.

I attended the first one (virtually) and here are my notes. Also, I am keeping out the presenters emails but if you have questions and would like their contacts, please let me know.

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“As the largest consumer of energy in the US economy the Federal government can and should lead by example when it comes to creating innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency, conserve water, reduce waste, and use environmentally-responsible products and technologies.”

The thinking behind the Order is to:

  • have the federal government “lead by example”
  • “take pride in agency accomplishments” (highlight work already being done)
  • encourage agencies to think “integrated planning”
  • push/pull/force agencies to reach across “stovepipes”

The Federal Government:

  • Occupies nearly 500,000 buildings
  • Operates more than 500,000 vehicles
  • Employs more than 1.8 million civilians
  • Purchases more than $500 billion per year in goods and services

Benefits to the Nation:

  • Energy savings – Avoided Costs – Jobs – Innovations – Improvements to Local Infrastructure

Policy:

  • Establish an integrated agency strategy for sustainability, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions within the federal government in order to lead by example and achieve a clean energy economy.
    • “really talking about practical application”
    • “requires strategic perspective bringing together the right components”
    • “planning is crucial”

Goals:

  • GHG reduction targets, energy efficiency, water use efficiency and mgmt, pollution prevention, waste elimination
  • Regional and local integrated planning
  • High performance sustainable Federal buildings
  • Sustainable acquisition
  • Electronics stewardship
  • Environmental mgmt systems

Scopes in Greenhouse Gasses, asking for an absolute percentage reduction target for FY 2020, relative to FY 2008. Due:

  • Scope 1-2 – jan 4, 2010
  • Scope 3 – jun 2, 2010

By FY 2015 achieve a %50 or higher solid waste diversion and construction/demolition diversion

This represents “nothing less than a transformational shift in how federal governments operate”

Additional Work

  • DOE to develop greenhouse gas accounting and reporting recommendations by April/Oct
  • DOT to site sustainable locations for federal facilities
  • GSA to develop local transportation logistics
  • DOE to write federal fleet mgmt guidance
  • GSA to pass along vendor and contractor emissions guidnace
  • EPA to write stormwater guidance for federal facilities

Full copy of the briefing: Executive Order 13514 Training