KFC Getting Green Praise

2 10 2010

This just in: KFC, maker of the controversial “Double Down” sandwich, is getting positive press for replacing most of its Styrofoam with truly reusable take-home containers. The tubs are dishwasher and microwave safe, require 25% less energy to make than foam, and produces 50% fewer greenhouse gases. For their efforts, KFC even won the 2010  Greener Package Award.

This isn’t a new idea, but it is one that may be over-due for a comeback. In the 80s, some restaurants issued reusable dishware as an incentive, like toys in a Happy Meal. The idea has good and bad points: on the one hand, the containers still use non-renewable petroleum, but KFC plans to limit this somehow. On the other hand, preliminary studies are showing that customers are reusing them, at least for several weeks. Some might argue that biodegradable plastic is the only way to go, but the material is still cost-prohibitive for many companies.

What do you think – is this a step in the right direction or just a step sideways?

Recyling water filters

17 01 2009

After much petitioning, a grassroots campaign has succeeded in persuading Brita water filtration company to provide a recycling program for their plastic water filters. Go here to learn more, and go here to refill your own! (Thanks IdealBite!)

Get the most out of your Christmas tree

21 12 2008

The Old Farmer’s Almanac has some nice Tips for preserving the life of your cut Christmas tree–and, perhaps more importantly, how to use your tree once it’s reached it’s end.
Merry Christmas all!

Green Deeds That Save You Money

10 11 2008

In the current economy, it’s harder to be consciously green. Some of us (myself included) might feel guilty when we can’t afford the organic this or the non-polluting that. There are, however, eco-friendly actions that can make a difference while saving us cash, and that’s something to be proud about. Below, five frugal ways to care:

  • Stop the bottled water habit. Invest in a Brita-style water filtration system to cut down on needless resource and money waste.
  • Buy fewer convenience foods. Look up recipes online for your favorite frozen or canned prepared meals and learn to cook them yourself for a lighter grocery bill and landfill load. Be careful, though; the ingredients you buy for some foods, like pizza, may add up to more than the prepared version’s price, so shop carefully.
  • Unplug sleeping appliances. Summer’s fans and the T.V. in the guest bedroom aren’t doing your electric bill any favors, so unplug appliances not in use to save between 6 and 26% on your monthly payments.
  • Keep your tires inflated. It might be a small difference, but improving your gas mileage is always good news for you and the planet, and it’s doesn’t cost much if you’re already at the gas station.
  • Make it last. In our consumer society, folks are often more inclined to throw something away when the going gets tough than to attempt a repair. Next time your favorite clothes get ripped, stained, or too small, consider learning some basic sewing skills and care techniques to extend their life. Also, it may be cheaper to repair an appliance with a simple problem than to send it packing, but according to Nick Harder of the Orange County Register, “If the cost of repairing the appliance is more than 50 percent of its replacement cost, buy a new appliance.” Consult an expert when diagnosing the problem, but if it’s really time for it to go, don’t throw it away–recycle!

When you don’t want to haul the old sofa away . . .

15 04 2008

. . . Let someone who wants it pick it up from you, for free. You can do this through The Freecycle Network, a community-based goods exchange. Visit the site to find your local Freecycle Network, set up a Yahoo! account (if you don’t have one already), join the local Yahoo! Group, and you’re ready to swap. Freecycle rules are simple: post offers more than you post requests for goods; pick up goods in a timely manner; and try to give dogs and cats to loving homes through other means before posting them on the message board. Oh, and no posting your children or spouse.

While you may prefer to donate many goods–gently used clothing, toys, and appliances–to charities like Goodwill Industries International or the Salvation Army, Freecycle works well when goods are too large to haul away, or when charities are not nearby. Freecycle may also be a great choice for busy people who can leave goods for pickup on a porch safe from rain much more easily than they can remember to tote items to charity shops. While some may argue that donating is always the more socially conscious option, anything that keeps at bay the temptation to trash an item is worthwhile in my book. Also, the more you offer items on Freecycle, the more you have the built-up credit with your local Freecycle peers to request an item when you truly need it–as in, “my laptop died and I have to finish my thesis this weekend. Anyone have an old one with Word 1998 lying around?”

Of course, you could sell it all to a consignment shop or on Ebay. But sometimes, giving is its own reward. Like the nightstand you got from Joe Smith because he raved about the rototiller you gave him last month. I’m just saying, it could happen. Please share if you have a great Freecycle experience.

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