Green News

Party for 24 guests – the paper plate debate

Posted by Environment Smart on 11/27 at 01:11 PM
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We recently hosted a 50th anniversary party for our parents. It was not a huge affair, but with 24 guests, it was significant enough to be concerned about the amount of garbage that we could produce. I am proud to say that we ended up with only one small bag of non-compostable or recyclable stuff. What we did to cut down on garbage was really no big deal, but there was one bone of contention.

The party was a lunch affair with a buffet-style meal. This sparked a bit of a debate regarding the dishes that we should use. Guests would be milling about between the living room, dining room and kitchen. We did not want to be be piling dirty dishes or washing them while guests were socializing in the kitchen. As we do not have a dishwasher, I was actually promoting the idea of using nice paper plates. These could be recycled or composted. The argument, however, was that the idea of not using real dishes was simply not acceptable for a 50th anniversary. What to do? We did not have enough matching dishes and we did not see the sense in renting dishes. Stoneware would be heavy to stand around with and china might be to fragile. The final solution was to invest in Corelle dishes. Corelle is light weight and durable if dropped. The dishes are thin and easy to stack, so that we could pile them out of sight and wash up after the party. We chose a plain white square set that would suit any occasion. We bought enough for future parties, so that we never need to worry about another paper plate debate in this house. 

Reducing the rest of our garbage was a simple matter.

  • We made sure to not waste food. With a buffet, we could prepare enough variety to suit everyone’s taste. A buffet also allowed guests to choose the amount of food they wanted, so that they did not leave much on their plates. Whatever was leftover was composted, with the exception of some meat and dairy.
  • Leftovers were kept in reusable containers and enjoyed in the following days.
  • We used real dishes and cutlery, but chose paper napkins because we wanted a 50th anniversary design on them. The napkins were recycled.
  • We wrapped the gift in craft paper with a nice raffia bow. The paper was reused by the children at the party and the bow was kept as a souvenir. 
  • The decorations were simple. We had some gold balloons (which the kids played with after the party) and some gold potpourri (mostly pine cones and wood shavings) elegantly placed on the tables. Some of the potpourri was taken home by guests and the rest can be reused for Christmas. We also had a beautiful floral centre piece that we are still enjoying several days later.
  • The Corelle that we purchased was environmentally packaged with no styrofoam or plastic. There was only some cardboard and paper to protect the plates. As we are keeping the packaging for storing the plates, there was not garbage anyway.




About the author: Environment Smart

Green Apples for sale ... get your green Apples!

Posted by Environment Smart on 11/25 at 02:34 PM
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Apple has redesigned the new Macbook to make it the greenest notebook Apple has ever produced. Every new Macbook is built with highly recyclable materials, and many of the harmful substances present in other computers have been eliminated from the new Macbook. The software and hardware have also been designed to work together. This will "maximize energy efficiency and minimize the carbon footprint of the MacBook". The packaging has been reduced by using smaller boxes to ship and less material. 

It is encouraging to see a computer company that is moving forward and being environmentally smart with its new designs.

You will find this environmental status report and specific details regarding the new Macbook design on Apple's promotional website.


Each new MacBook is designed with the following features to reduce its environmental footprint:

  • Arsenic-free glass
  • Mercury-free LED-backlit display
  • Brominated flame retardant-free internal components
  • PVC-free internal cables
  • Highly recyclable aluminum and glass enclosure
  • Up to 41 percent smaller packaging


Apple seems to be very serious in its efforts to minimize the environmental impact of both its products and facilities. See Apple's 2008 Environmental Update and Apple's 2008 Environmental performance reports


About the author: Environment Smart

Greener farts with fire

Posted by Environment Smart on 11/17 at 04:56 PM
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Yes, there is a way to reduce the environmental impact of your daily passing of gas. Whether you want to admit it or not, your farts do smell and they are gaseous.

It has long been proven that the method of lighting a match or candle in the bathroom helps to reduce the unsavory odors that can be produced there. Did you know, however, that this technique also burns up odorous hydrogen sulfide as well as odorless methane gas.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, methane is listed as one of the three top greenhouse gases, and it traps over 21 times more heat per molecule than carbon dioxide.

Whereas human activities generally do not produce all that much methane, it is nice to think that lighting a vanilla-scented candle in the bathroom will help the environment just a little. Now all we need to do is follow all the cows around with a lighter.  See previous outofgreen post.

About the author: Environment Smart

Give the gift of a Healthy Future

Posted by Environment Smart on 11/14 at 05:00 PM
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The Christmas season is fast approaching and we’re already starting with our shopping. This year we are going to ease up on the “guess gifts”. Those are the gift where we are guessing at what the person might like. Those are the gifts where we are not sure if they will be appreciated or regifted. So, instead of a fattening box of chocolates or some smelly soaps, we are going to give the gift that will last: a healthier environment.

We are going to give our friends, family, work colleagues and teachers a gift membership to the David Suzuki Foundation.  Not only is this a “unique and forward-thinking” gift, but we avoid the hustle and bustle of the shopping mall. The David Suzuki Foundation offers nature-themes holiday cards that you can order online and then mail or e-mail to your gift recipient.

The David Suzuki Foundation explains how it works:

Click here to choose your favourite holiday card to be sent to someone special. You’ll be guided through the steps of making a donation in honour of that person, writing a personal note to be included in the card, choosing how to send it, then voila! The card will be on its way, and your gift in honour of your loved one will make a huge difference for the environment.

Not only will your loved one receive a snazzy card, they will also receive a year-long membership to the David Suzuki Foundation, along with an information package about the work we do, and our newsletter, Finding Solutions. If you choose to save paper by sending the card by email, your friend or family member will also receive an eye-catching downloadable screensaver.

Your friends will love being a part of the solution, and you’ll be happy knowing that your important gift will go a long way to protecting nature.

Click here to see our terrific holiday cards now! Or view the video to learn more!

About the author: Environment Smart

Trade in your old car in Quebec

Posted by Environment Smart on 11/12 at 01:07 PM
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Quebec was hit with a few days of very nasty air pollution last week. The combination of high humidity, very weak winds and low cloud cover lasted for four days. This resulted in airborne pollutants being unable to disperse. This type of weather condition suggests that the resulting poor air quality was due primarily to locally emitted pollutants. One of the most significant problems in this case is vehicle emissions. Apparently, Quebec still allows cars on the road that are not equipped with anti-pollution systems. There are no mandatory emissions inspections. Something needs to be done here! Is it any wonder that we are seeing an increase in asthma and other allergies.

Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique

The Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique (AQLPA) is asking the people of Quebec to take action. The AQLPA's Faites de l'air! program will exchange cars from 1995 or earlier for either six months' worth of transit passes for use in the Montreal or Quebec metropolitan regions, or for $300. The program encourages Quebecers to make a difference to the environment by getting rid of an older and more polluting vehicle. AQLPA president André Bélisle is asking Quebecers to take action. "We invite all owners whose vehicles were built in 1995 or earlier to respond to the current air quality situation, and to take concrete action to reduce air pollution by registering for AQLPA's Faites de l'air! program," he said. For further information: André Bélisle, (418) 642-1322, (418) 386-6992; To register: Lorraine Lachapelle, 1-888-819-7330, (418) 642-1384,

About the author: Environment Smart

Solar powered Christmas

Posted by TheGreen on 11/07 at 03:19 PM
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Every year we have tried to put up Christmas lights, but to over do it. Due to the potentially large quantity of electricity that one could use, we were happy to see LED Christmas lights come out a couple of years ago. This year, we were a little surprised to see solar powered LED christmas lights. They claim a 6 hour sparkle from the solar powered lights even on cloudy days. Not sure about the hours of sparkle, but we are getting some for the simple reason: No more power cords! The only tree in our back yard we could put Christmas lights was about 60 feet from nearest outlet. Canadian Tire has a good selection of C6 and mini-led solar power light sets. They all have 50 lights and come in multi coloured or warm white. Though the warm white we bought last year from CanadianTire were anything but warm in hue. All the sets appear to be $29.99 and available now. From the CanadianTire site, here is how they describe these lights:
  • Solar light set is designed specifically for Canadian winters
  • Stays lit for three nights on one charge
  • Includes solar amorphous panel, wall mount and ground stake
  • Lights stay lit even if one bulb burns out
  • Charges even on a cloudy day
  • No more hassle with extension cords
  • Available in multi-coloured and warm white
  • For outdoor use
The only issue I can see at this point is the number of solar panels lying around. For our one tree we need at least 150 light and preferably 200 lights or even 250. Why can I not get the lights separately from the solar panels, and then buy an appropriate solar panel for the number of lights I want to put up? It would be nice to have solar panels in three or four different sizes that would let me plugin 1,2,3 or 4 strings of light and have them daisy chained. As it is we will need to figure out how to get the lights to work at the top of the tree. Once we get some and test them out, we will post a little review here too. Here is to a bright Holiday season sparkle powered by Ra.

About the author: TheGreen

Timberland’s humerous new ad campaign

Posted by Environment Smart on 11/06 at 02:26 PM
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The Timberland Company has just launched its new advertising campaign for its Earthkeepers(TM) collection of environmentally-conscious footwear and apparel. The ads feature "heroes who take on the challenges of the great outdoors -- some humorous, some dramatic -- one step at a time". 

According to a press release from the Wall Street Journal's market watch, "The advertising campaign is but one element of Timberland's Earthkeepers initiative, which seeks to communicate the company's environmental values and inspire consumers to make their own environmental behavior change. In addition to advertising and product offerings, the Earthkeepers initiative also includes an innovative network of online social networking tools."

As an "outdoor brand", Timberland promotes their environmental consciousness, but they choose to market with flare rather than a preachy approach. Carol Yang, Timberland's vice president of global marketing explains that consumers are "weary of being "told" how to make green choices - so we decided to lighten up and take a tongue-in-cheek approach to communicating the Earthkeepers story."

Timberland's latest 30 second "Friends" spot takes a humerous look at how wearing the eco-conscious Earthkeepers(TM) boots can spare you nature's wrath. There is more than just the video clip of the ad to view when you visit the web site. Take a look at what went into the making of the ad spot and play the "unexpected obstacles" game. Nice graphics.

I personally own some Timberland shoes and clothing, but have never visited their site before. I hadn't realized that Timberland is not just an eco-friendly clothing brand – it is a whole movement of "earthkeeping". Visit the Timberland earthkeepers at The video clip below helps to illustrates what the movement is about.

About the author: Environment Smart

WRAP: Waste & Resource Action Programme

Posted by Environment Smart on 10/30 at 02:45 PM
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In a previous Outofgreen posting I mentioned an impressive food waste management project involving the National Federation of Women's Institutes in the U.K. They had teamed up with the Waste & Resources Action Programme (Wrap), the Government's packaging waste agency. I was intrigued by the Women's Institute's initiative and wanted to learn more about WRAP. I visited the WRAP website and found out the following:

WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) helps individuals, businesses and local authorities to reduce waste and recycle more, making better use of resources and helping to tackle climate change.

WRAP has 3 primary targets:

  • Sending less to landfill: WRAP's goal is to stop 8 million tonnes of waste materials from the household, industrial and commercial waste streams going to landfill.
  • Reducing carbon emissions: WRAP would like its programmes to help save 5 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions.
  • Increasing economic impact: WRAP would like to help create a £1.1 billion positive economic impact for business, local authorities and consumers through £850 million of cost savings and £280 million of increased turnover in recycling and related industries.

WRAP's approach is to help individuals, businesses and local authorities to reduce waste and recycle more, making better use of resources and helping to tackle climate change. There are 4 specific focus areas:

  • Waste prevention: The avoidance of waste and its minimisation, targeting consumers and businesses alike.
  • Collecting and sorting: Increasing the collection of materials for recycling and reprocessing, encouraging participation across all audiences and improving collection and sorting mechanisms.
  • Recycling and reprocessing: Securing greater investment and efficiency in recycling and reprocessing industries and manufacturing products using greater levels of recycled content.
  • market development: Promoting markets for materials and products with increased recycled content, or which result in less waste, namely those made from materials which can be recycled, reused or composted.

WRAP has an extensive business plan and impact review that can be found on their website. The website also includes various research reports and studies conducted by WRAP.

WRAP seems to be yet another dedicated pro-active U.K. environmental group that we can learn much from.

About the author: Environment Smart