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Office waste: Is paperless possible?

by The Green A-Team

Whatever happened to the idea of the paperless office?

As soon as CD-Roms replaced library card catalogs, the notion of swapping physical information for the magic of binary code has enticed business owners in every category to “go paperless.”  Those refusing the intangible wizardry have held onto their markers in place of Macs but have been paying for it not only in storage costs, but environmentally.

Alex Szabo, CEO of the

The better we get with technology and the more pervasive things like video conferencing are as opposed to just calling in on a conference call, the more easier that’s gonna be for folks to palette.

The resources to find a happy balance between the old ways and the new are abundant.  Little things like shutting down all your office equipment at night, setting printers to draft mode, and procuring planet-friendly paper may bring your office’s old ways to an acceptable present.

For the full interview with Alex Szabo, click here.

If your office mates are still too stubborn to follow some simple steps toward sustainable office space, check out some of the following links:

Smart Office

Stocking the green office: Sustainable Supplies (

The Sustainable Office

Sustainable office furniture (

Photo by whiskyx.

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Alex Szabo and his green office (dot com)

by The Green A-Team

Q: How did you come to found

A: I founded the company after a few years working in an area generally termed the sustainability consulting field and after working with too many clients who were looking to establish a green purchasing policy but were having a hard time finding a one-stop solution, eventually I set out to form a company that really served as, like I said, a one-stop resource for all of your office greening needs.  So, is focused on providing folks with all of the products they might need to fill their office and source those on line, shipped next day, with all the great prices.  Of course, we add on top of that a variety of services and information that help extend your office greening initiative beyond the purchasing of office products.

Q: What, as far as you can recall, is the real history of the paperless office as a concept?

A: Yeah, sure.  The concept of the paperless office, as far as I’m concerned, was brought about as we all started going online and began to process our information digitally, the notion that we might be able to rely less and less on the paper and pen started to come about.  I think that the notion is fundamentally a good one; perhaps what we’ve seen over the past decade or so is that our historical attachment to paper is going to be harder to break than some originally might have wished.  So the transformation to the paperless office has certainly not happened in a big revolution but we are seeing folks finding more and more ways to store information digitally or online in hard drives and rely less and less on the paper and pen.

Q: Why have companies been so slow to adopt the paperless office idea?

A: I think there are a few reasons why companies have been slow to adopt the mantra of the paperless office.  One is force of habit.  We’ve been using paper for hundreds of years if not thousands and the systems from our educational systems all the way up to the system we use to store valuable and invaluable information have for a long time relied on paper.  One reason is that folks are reticent to kind of go back on that and store all of their information that isn’t as tangible or easily accessible in a crisis perhaps.  I think other reasons are that there are certainly laws out there, in certain arenas, the legal arena would be one of them, where they are required to have physical hard copies and other systems in place in larger organizations will also require hard copies so there’s a variet of reasons.  I also think people like to put their hands on something.  For a variety of those reasons I think we’ve seen the transition a little bit slower than we otherwise might have.

Q: What are the pros and cons associated with digital vs. physical these days given the technology?

A: I think there are clearly a lot of pros for storing, manipulating information on your computer whether it’s using word processing like Word or an Excel sheet, very very powerful tools so there are a lot of pros there.  The cons are again, folks who are concerned about loss of information to a machine they may not fully understand.  Of course, there are risks of having information corrupted and compromised especially when you’re online.  So those are a few pros and cons on the digital space.  Of course, you have similar issues with hard copy.  You may only have one hard copy especially if you’re writing on it by hand, a piece of paper gets wet, the ink smears, it burns up, so there are risks on both sides.  There are risks on both sides and like I said, I think the clear trend is closer and closer to the paperless office but I still there are some vestiges out there that are going to be harder to remove.

Q: I agree.  Now, there are a whole lot of other things that you can do on the procurement side and policies there but what are your thoughts on telecommuting and the elimination of the traditional office environment altogether?  Is that realistic?  Where’s that going?

A: Again, I think technology and the better we get with technology and the more pervasive things like video conferencing are as opposed to just calling in on a conference call, the more easier that’s going to be for folks to palette.  There is a very visceral difference between just talking to someone on the phone, hearing their voice, as we are now, and meeting with them face to face, there’s a lot of information that’s communicated through body language and so forth.  So I think, more and more we can see each other, hear each other better the more immediate it is and easier it is for us to digitally walk into each other’s offices the more that’s gonna become prevalent.  So that’s one thing and then just, again, force of habit; people getting used to working that way, adjusting working styles, and honing communication skills when you’re not necessarily in the same room with them.

Q: What about new innovations?  Have you seen anything come past your desk that’s caught your eye in recent days or months?

A: Yeah, we’re certainly seeing new products that are moving closer and closer towards the ideal that we call cradle to cradle design where you take into account the full life cycle impact of a product and work to reduce any of the negative impacts along the way.  So we’re seeing all sorts of papers moving closer and closer, 100% post consumer recycled paper has been around for a little while now, now paper is being process without the use of chlorine which is a chemical that can be harmful to the environment and tree-free papers where you’re using other agricultural materials, of course printing tools, we’re seeing more and more printers that are more and more energy efficient.  You have printer settings where you can reduce the amount of ink used you can turn it onto fast or draft mode.  One of the coolest things I’ve seen recently is something we’ve been looking for for a while, our customers have been demanding it and we’re finally seeing the market respond, it’s a toner product petroleum free toner product made with a remanufactured ink and toner cartridge, it’s actually a soy-based toner.  So you combine the energy efficient electronics with recycled or tree-free paper and you’re starting to move closer and closer to a very low-impact printing process.  Something that I like to talk about with folks and I used to advise my clients in the sustainability consulting work I did, you start by looking at what are your real needs for printing?  There are basically two cases where people use paper: they print it up on a traditional printing machine or they’re taking notes, they’re writing with a pen.  So look at each of those two cases and ask yourself when is it really necessary that I do this, and there might be some cases where that’s true and just by doing that, you start to eliminate the use of paper alone.  And then, you switch over when you do actually do need to print something out, you go to a system where your using again energy efficient electronics, soy-based printing, using less by setting your software to draft mode, printing on both sides, using recycled and tree-free papers, you can really start to make an impact.

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My pet is green!

by The Green A-Team

Has your pet gone green yet?

There are 72 million pet dogs and 82 million pet cats in the United States.  The pet population has an impact just as we do, but the difference is that we’re making the calls as to how we care for them, decisions that can also have strong impact on our health and the environment.

Here’s a few tips for greening up your pet:

1.) Adopt. The shelters are teeming with abandoned pets that are desperate for a home and the cost of adoption is minimal.

2.) Feed them right. Meat byproducts, commodity corn, and chemical fillers in pet food are as bad if not worse for them as they are for us.  Nourish their little bodies with brands that are certified to have the good stuff or make  your own pet food!

and 3.) Compost pet waste. Keep it out of your vegetable garden but it use it your flower beds and lawns for them to come up really strong!

For more ways to green your pet, check out some of the following sites:

How to go green: Pets (Planet Green)

Great Green Pet


Photo by hippolyte photography.

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Green data centers: How nature goes digital

by The Green A-Team

The natural and digital worlds combine to help decrease the global impact of today’s internet addiction.

Nowadays it’s nearly impossible to imagine a world without the internet when just over a decade ago, the internet itself was scarcely a thing of the imagination.  With it’s billions of users, the earthbound mechanisms that keep this digital universe expanding are showing signs that surfing the web can lead to an environmental wipeout.

The bulk of the information that flows through our computers is stored and powered by a network of high-tech data centers.  The hardware used at these sites needs shocking amounts of electricity that generates lots of heat.

New green data centers like Oregon-based Taproot Hosting, power their boards on 100% wind energy.  They even tell their employees to stay home, opting for tele-commuting over terrestrial commutes.  Other centers bury their gear, taking advantage of natural geothermal cooling instead of conventional air conditioning.

For more on how to reduce your carbon e-print, have a look at some of these sites:

Sun’s take on green data centers in 2009 (

Green Data Center Blog

Google: Our green data centers get a lot greener (

Photo by ibmphoto24.

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More than a hint of mint in the stimulus plan

by The Green A-Team

A breakdown of the numbers from the NRDC:

The bill provides:

$6 billion for clean and safe water, creating more than 200,000 jobs

  • This insures critical funding for the nation’s pipes and treatment plants.  We don’t often worry too much about where our clean water comes from and this line seeks to keep it that way.

$4.5 billion for greening federal buildings

  • The Federal building codes and standards apply to buildings constructed or used by any Federal agency that is not legally subject to state or local building codes.  This means that any building, not just the White House, Pentagon, Capital Building, etc., ANY building paying their energy bills with Federal money will be subject to completely revised energy efficiency performance standards which have been set by the DOE.

State energy grants, issued through the Treasury Department, that will fund renewable energy projects that are eligible for the available tax credits.

  • As of October of last year, the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 prolonged tax credits in solar, fuel cells, and microturbines; increased the credit amount for fuel cells; established new credits for small wind-energy systems, geothermal heat pumps, and combined heat and power (CHP) systems; extended eligibility for the credits to utilities; and allowed taxpayers to take the credit against the alternative minimum tax (AMT) subject to certain limitations.  If you’ve got these systems already in place are are planning to build new ones, you should apply here.

Funding for the state energy program, which includes important utility reforms and building code conditions.

$2.5 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy Research and Development.

  • In many cases, the technology just isn’t there yet and it takes resources to get there, hence, this line item.

$5 billion for the Weatherization Assistance Program, creating approximately 90,000 jobs

  • The expansion of this service will help the program reach a critical mass and deliver what it was designed to do - help low income families make energy efficiency improvements on their homes and spend less on utilities.  See if you qualify here.

A multi-year extension of the renewable production tax credit.

  • Even greater insurance to individuals and corporations interested in these upgrades that their renewable energy improvements will be rewarded for many years to come.  This is the kind of thing that boosts investor confidence in green stocks.

A more effective tax credit for home efficiency upgrades.

$6 billion in loan guarantees for renewables, transmission and leading edge biofuels

  • This is a great boon for companies investing in these industries.  Now there will be real money to back up the loans guaranteed by the government.  This comes as particular significance to the USDA.

$2 billion for advanced batteries

  • More than just rechargeable batteries for your TV remote, this category of tech development may be the most important.  Certainly the automotive industry has a lot to gain with hybrid-electric vehicles seeking to replace the current fleet.  Here’s an interesting piece from the US Advanced Battery Consortium (USCAR).  The storage of electricity produced on a massive scale for residential and commercial use is also an integral component to making the new renewable grid happen.

$9.3 billion for intercity rail, including high-speed rail

  • With these new high-speed rail systems, the U.S. may actually be up to speed with the rest of the world.  Here’s a little more on that idea.

$27.5  billion for highways (this large pot of money is not exclusively for highways, and states and cities must use this flexibility to invest in fuel-efficient public transportation)

  • While this may seem a bit imbalanced up against the public transportation budgets, the ethos behind it suggests the auto fleet will be markedly cleaner by the time the highways are improved.  Like it or not, the U.S. is a car culture which means the industries and infrastructure must change to accommodate it.

$8.4 billion for transit

$1.5 billion in competitive grants for transportation investments (which could be used for public transportation)

  • These last two lines combined with the high-speed rail budget is a pretty formidable sum to help the country’s beleaguered public trans condition.  However, it may also prove to be a mere drop in the bucket if the other energy system improvements are not met.

Photo by

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E-waste: Where do all the gadgets go?

by The Green A-Team

The International Consumer Electronics Show wrapped up in Las Vegas but what happens to these soon-to-be-obsolete electronic devices once their lifetime has expired?

Electronic waste, made up of discarded TV’s, computers, and cell phones, known as E-waste has swiftly risen to become the fastest growing component of our country’s waste stream.  In reality, the physical stuff of these magic machines consists mainly of lead, mercury, and cancer-causing dioxins that poison the people and habitats around them.

One such habitat can be found in the Guiyu region of China.  Here, nearly 80% of the world’s e-waste is shipped to be sorted, dismantled, and melted down to its valuable elements, including gold.  The result is the highest concentration of cancer and child lead poisoning in the world.

Ensure your e-waste isn’t contributing to this toxic scourge by checking out recycling brokers and accredited e-stewards the next time you’re ready to toss a used gadget.

For more on what to do with e-waste, check out some of these resources:

Electronic Waste - Guiyu, China

Regional Computer Recycling and Recovery (

E-Waste: Dark side of digital age (Wired)

Following the trail of toxic e-waste (60-Minutes)

Photo and slideshow by alistair.ruff.

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My dirty little Valentine

by The Green A-Team

When choosing gold jewelry for your Valentine this year, consider the dirty secrets of this so-called precious metal.

The world’s gold is in short supply and the amount collected in the last 500 yearsd could fill two Olympic sized swimming pools.  Within the last 50 years, the old wild west methods of panning and prospecting have been replaced by mountain leveling, open-pit mining that creates man made earth gashes that can be seen from space.

Having the least vital relevance to human existence, gold generates more waste per ounce than any other metal.  One ounce, the amount found in a typical wedding ring, requires the removal of more than 250 tons of rock and ore.  Cyanide is used to leach gold from the ore and the lead and mercury heavy waste slurry is commonly dumped into local water resources decimating fish, wildlife, and poisoning the food chain for generations.

If you really want to dazzle your Valentine this year, try buy from retailers like Tiffany & Co that are pushing mining standards higher.

For more facts and alternatives to dirty gold, check out some of these powerful images and links:

Women Gold Miners (Chocó, Colombia)

Chocó is a no man’s land. The large inaccessible rainforest jungle area in the western lowlands of Colombia is mainly inhabited by Afro Colombian population, descendents of African slaves. High presence of malaria, guerilla drug traffic routes, tropical deseases and only an irregular river transport makes this region virtually lost. Gold that is found in the jungle rivers of Chocó is the only hope for many although they never find what they dream about. Women goldminers work in a hot tropical humid climate, miring in the goldbearing mud, searching for the gold and platine dust. They will never give up their effort simply because there is no other way to live off. ©

Alternatives to Dirty Gold (

Jewelery retailers target ‘dirty gold’ (Marketplace)

Cleaning up dirty gold (Washington Post)

Photo by danielle_blue.

Slideshow by Jan Sochor.

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Autoshow electrifies and trians are back in style

by The Green A-Team

Electric cars win big at the Detroit Autoshow and a real plan is emerging to fix the nation’s transportation problems.

Foreign automakers aren’t the only ones rushing electric cars to market, it’s domestic manufacturers including Ford who’ve unveiled prototypes at this year’s auto show.  Unlike the electric golf carts you may be familiar with, the new green fleet of autos are quiet and quick and don’t require the noxious burning of ancient plants.

While this innovation does reduce carbon emissions, what about it’s effect on the power grid?  Experts agree that cars won’t burden the grid if owners charge their batteries at night.

Other solutions to our transportation dilemma include airport improvements, expansions, and creating high-speed rail links. Eliminating the horror of terminal gridlock on our runways may lessen headaches for travelers and increase jobs for contractors.  High-speed rail links between city centers bring the classic form of train travel up to date ushering time-crunched travelers to and from their points of passage.

For more transportation innovations, check out some of these sites:

Green Transportation (Mother Earth News)

League of American Bicyclists

Green Autos

Green Eye

Photo by rmarinello.

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Give a tweet!
Twitter quenches the world’s clean water crisis

by The Green A-Team

How is Twitter helping to provide clean water to developing countries?

Still fuzzy on what Twitter is? If you can express it in 140 characters, you’re ready to “tweet” yourself into the micro-blogging community some 750 thousand strong.

One thing you may find difficult to express in 140 characters, however, is the dire need for clean water in countries outside our own.  Unsafe drinking water and lack of sanitation cause 80% of all the sickness and disease worldwide.  So how does a seemingly trivial web gadget help this planetary plight?

On February 12th, over 100 cities will be hosting Twestivals, bringing together Twitter communities to raise money and awareness for the non-profit organization called charity:water.  All donations will directly fund costly yet vital clean water bearing systems.

Because of the power Twitter has to connect, mobilize, and inform people, these Twestivals have turned a quirky phenomenon into a force for global change.

Join the Twestival in your city by clicking on the following links:

Anaheim Asheville Atlanta Augusta Austin Baltimore Baton Rouge Boca Raton Boston Calgary Charlotte Charlottesville Chicago Cleveland College Station TX Columbia MO Columbus OH Dallas Denver Des Moines Detroit Durham Edmonton Fargo Galveston Halifax Hampton Roads VA Honolulu Houston Indianapolis Ithaca Iowa City Kansas City Kelowna Lafayette Lakewood Las Vegas Los Angeles Madison Memphis Mexico City Miami Milwaukee Minneapolis Moncton Montclair Monterrey Montreal Nashville New Orleans New York Ottawa Philadelphia Phoenix Pittsburgh Portland Raleigh Richmond VA     Rochester San Diego San Francisco San Jose Santa Barbara Savannah Seattle Somers CT South Padre Springfield Tampa Toronto Traverse City Vancouver Washington Wichita Wilmington International Cities and South America

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Gorilla in the Greenhouse:
The ancestor that’s saving our future

by The Green A-Team

Children are the future of our planet but are grown-ups doing enough to steer them green?

Everyone had their favorite superhero growing up whether it was Superman, Spiderman, Cat Woman, or Mighty Mouse they inspired and entertained us, and in some cases, may have even been our role model.

With the internet, a new generation of casts and characters are reaching kids in new ways.

Jay Golden, creator of Gorilla in the Greenhouse, an environmentally conscious animated series.

Dr. Hufflebot has a worm in his head named Wormulus, and actually that’s the character that I play.  He sounds like this.  I want results, results I need!  Not meaningless mush! The worm actually represents the worm that’s in all of our heads where we just want to block off the natural connection we have to the earth.

This colorful interactive cartoon can be found at  But don’t stop there, there’s a whole lot of positive, kid friendly entertainment to grow and be inspired by.  And who knows, maybe your child’s favorite will be a green superhero.

For our full interview with Jay Golden, click here.

For links to cool green cartoons for kids and adults, check these out!

The Meatrix (Free Range Studios)

The Story of Stuff (Free Range Studios)

Environment Cartoons by Chris Madden (

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Jay Golden, visionary storyteller and environmentalist

by The Green A-Team

It’s fitting that a new generation of storytellers must adapt to the challenges faced by our future generations, namely kids.  Jay Golden, Vice President of New Media at SustainLane Media, is humbly and whimsically leading the charge with a passion for making change fun.

Q: What’s the purpose of creating a cartoon like this?

A: The purpose is very basic; it’s about making change fun.

Q: That’s it.

A: That’s it!  It’s straight up.  Our objective is to create an inspiring media property that shows kids taking action, having a blast, creating great music, collaborating, and changing the world around them through very simple steps.

Q: How old are the kids that you’re trying to reach?

A: Depending on who you ask, it could be anywhere from 6 to 60 but it starts from 6-10.

Q: So parents can get involved too?

A: Yeah, definitely.  Our show is kind of like an antidote to An Inconvenient Truth.  There’s a fair bit of gloom and doom in the media - global warming impending, economic dire straits - and our show is about simple ways to understand complex problems like, for example, mountain top removal.  Well, if you flip a switch in any one of our cities, you are contributing to somewhere a mountain coming down because of coal.  The way we tell that story is that there’s a giant worm, a giant mechanical worm that eats mountains and the kids find out about it and basically they have to come up with a way to turn it around.  So, it’s applicable to all generations but really we’re aiming at kids.

Q: You guys also have a show brining up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  Can you tell me a little about that?

A: Yeah, that was our pilot show.  The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is basically about the North Pacific Gire which many people know is this swirling patch of garbage in the North Pacific about twice the size of texas.  How do you tell that story in a way that’s digestible so that people can understand and realize that when we take these little plastic pieces and toss them in the trash, sometimes they float off the heap and go into the ocean or sometimes plastic bags will float away and go into the ocean.  So in our story, the kids find out that there’s a big island of plastic bags in the North Pacific and they have to go out there, they have to research, figure out what’s going on, all in a kind of fun way, trace it back to what the cause is and then they have to come up with a solution to turn it around and we do it all in a fun and pumpin’ musical way.

Q: It’s definitely fun, the music is awesome, and a lot of the evil goes back to the villain, Wormulus and Dr. Hufflebot.  How did you guys come up with those guys?  Is it one guys with a worm brain?  Tell me a little bit about this character.

A: Dr. Hufflebot has a worm in his head named Wormulus and actually that’s the character that I play.  (Modulates voice) He sounds like this!  “I want results!  Results I need! Not meaningless mush!”  So the worm represents the worm that’s in all our heads, that worm that when you get an idea that you just wanna block off the realities and the natural connections we have to the earth, just that compelling drive that we often feel to just accumulate as much as we possibly can.  In the show, Hufflebot is always trying to please the worm in his head.  He creates this island of plastic bags for him so the worm can have his great dominion over the plastic bags or he helps the worm to create this evil maniacal, mechanical monster that eats mountains so that Wormulus will basically have all the power that he ever desired.  And the kind of back and forth is that if Hufflebot pleases Wormulus, if Hufflebot pleases the worm in his head, then eventually the worm will let him be free.  Of course, the illusion is that that never really happens, it’s an ongoing journey.  The next episode you see Hufflebot back again with the worm in his head on some scheme he’s driving him towards.  So we’re all the Hufflebots, really.

Q: KJ, or Kijani the Green Gorilla, who’s kind of the Yoda mystic character.  How did you come up with him and how did the kids find him?  How did this character come about?

A: Kijani actually means “green” in Swahili.  So he’s our green gorilla character that sits in the greenhouse in San Francisco that’s kind of a concealed greenhouse.  Basically it was an idea that our company, Sustain Lane’s founder, James Elson, came up with and he really wanted to see this green gorilla character but he didn’t have the other pieces to it.  So we kind of put the kids together with this mystical green gorilla who basically represents indigenous wisdom.  It’s earth wisdom so when the kids find a problem like Scoot skates into the greenhouse covered in plastic bags then KJ gets a hint and he starts beatboxing and basically bringing down a vision and he brings down a vision and he paints it with his fingers and colors in the air but they’re in symbols, like drawings on a cave.  Now the kids have to interpret it, so in the first episode he draws plastic bags and an earth and a swirl in the ocean and the kids have to translate that.  They talk amongst themselves, they do the research on the web, and they pixelate out to other places around the world so they can come up with the answers and figure out what the solution is.

Q: I wish I was a part of the pitch meeting for this show… it sounds like so much fun!

A: It was a blast!  I put together the smartest people that I know and I got everybody in a room and I said, “Here’s what we wanna do: We wanna create the most inspiring show to help kids take real world steps towards a healthier planet and we wanna make it as fun as possible and we wanna bring in kids all around the world.  How do we do this?” And this incredibly intelligent, creative, amazing group of people they all put their heads together and I was fortunate enough to be in the room.

Q: That actually brings me to my last question regarding your contributors and your involvement with Free Range Studios.  Now, they produced something called the Meatrix and for anyone who’s listening to this who hasn’t seen the Meatrix, here’s a link!  You should now go watch it after you’ve finished listening to this podcast.  But, what was your involvement with Free Range?

A: I was fortunate enough to be the Entertainment Producer at Free Range for a couple years, I produced 12 movies for them.  Basically, what Free Range does is they create these amazing viral web pieces for social causes which are basically distinct messages kind of wrapped in stories that travel far and wide and Story Stuff is a great example.  In fact, The Story of Stuff just made 20 different language versions which is terrific.  I basically learned the trade from them and now we work closely.  We hired them, actually, to be our Animation and Art Direction group and so I couldn’t be happier.

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Sustainable skiing:
Know your mountain’s score

by The Green A-Team

While snowy slopes are fun for skiers and snowboarders, what are the environmental costs of this winter sport?

60 million vacationers will head for the hills this year and resorts are being forced to expand drastically.  This means more trees chopped to clear trails, more wildlife displaced, and more energy needed to run the lifts and lodges.

So is there anything to stop this?

Recently, the Ski Area Citizens Coalition (SACC) called foul an effort where resorts were required to assess their own eco-friendliness.  The problem with this self-evaluation, they said, is the absence of accountability.

The coalition fired back with their own environmental scorecards based on water usage, energy and waste management, and forest, air, and wildlife preservation.

By giving consumers the ability to choose destinations with higher scores, inadequately scored resorts are forced to steepen their efforts.

For more on skiing green, check out some of the following links.

How green are your vallées? (Guardian UK)

Ski resorts environmental impact (Suite 101)

How to become a greener skier (

How green is your mountain? (Time)

Is greener whiter yet?  The Sustainable Slopes Program after five years (SACC)

Photo by Mount Ararat Trek.

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Elephant poo paper cleans up

by Rich Awn

For no other reason than this kinda made me chuckle when I first caught wind of it on and then again when thepoopoopaper Twittered me, it seemed irresistibly interesting.  Turns out this elephant dung paper ain’t no joke but a potent little eco craze that’s helping keep these mammoth beasts thriving in the wild.

The diet of an elephant consists mainly of fruits, fibrous grasses and bamboo.  These plants can be used to make paper on their own but requires a rather toxic process to achieve what an elephant’s digestive system does on its own.  What’s left behind is the undigested plant matter that is first washed, combined with some other plant fibers, molded into “cakes” or “wafers”, left out in the sun to dry, and then peeled off it’s tray to make poop paper products!

The process is as brilliant as it is beneficial.  The dung used is collected from conservation parks creating a clean environment for the animals while the whole process from elephant grazing to paper raising creates jobs down the entire line.  The Elephant Poo Paper Company, Ltd. even goes so far as to donate a portion of your purchase from their “Poo-tique” to elephant conservation services worldwide.

Who knew poo could be so cool?  Hooray!

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New Year’s Revolution

by The Green A-Team

If becoming green is on your list of resolutions this new year, why not start with the party?

Planning a sustainable New Year’s celebration takes more than just balloons. It means working to ensure that almost everything from the lights to the decor produces little to zero lingering waste.

Here are some tips to stay green while tipsy:

1.) Buy food that’s locally and sustainable grown and put up a sign that lets your guests know it.

2.) Send web invitations for your party. With a colorful card on a computer screen, you can get more creative, invite more people, and generate no waste.

3.) Make an extra effort to recycle hard goods and compost your food waste.    If you don’t have a compost container, put it aside for someone who does.

4.) Organize a carpool and encourage public transportation. This will not only keep gas guzzling down but leave extra room for food & drink guzzling at your celebration.

For more sustainable party tips, have a gander at some of these sites:

Sustainable Party: Where your green event planning prowess begins!

Sustainable Table: Serving up healthy food choices

How to go green: New Years (

Having a green New Year’s Eve (

Photo by Tokyo Boy.

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New shades of cosmetics:
Exclusive interview with Josie Maran

by The Green A-Team

Every day, millions of women attempt to change the course of nature with moisturizers, mascaras, and makeup.  But if they knew what they were rubbing into their skin, they might just let nature take its course.

A product is considered Green based on what it’s made of and how it’s made.  Conventional cosmetics, lacking in any FDA standards, have been putting woman at risk with products made with hormone-altering and cancer causing chemicals like phthalates, triclosan, parabens, and musks.

Josie Maran, world famous supermodel, actress, and creator of Josie Maran Cosmetics sees this not only as an occupational hazard, but a worldwide epidemic.

50% of what you put on your skin, you skin absorbs.  20% of the ingredients are harmful so if you’re putting those on your skin every day, you have a likely chance of harming your body.

Natural cosmetics contain safe, organic ingredients and with an average daily makeup wearer absorbing up to five pounds of product a year, a safe alternative couldn’t have come along any sooner.

For more of on Green cosmetics and our interview with Josie Maran, click here.

Photo by 殞落天使.

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Actress, model, green cosmetic leader Josie Maran

by The Green A-Team

Beauty is only skin deep but Josie Maran’s goes even deeper with her concern and contribution toward the health of women like her that are habitual wearers of cosmetics.

Whether it’s your modeling or acting job or simply your desire to feel more beutiful when you leave the house, the daily cosmetic consumer can avoid risk by using natuaral and organic products.

Our interview with Josie reveals her sincerity and belief in her product as well as insight on the larger industry and where we’re going as a country.

Q: How dangerous are conventional cosmetics really?

A: Conventional cosmetics are harmful because 60% of what you put on your skin, your skin absorbs.  20% of the ingredients are harmful so if you’re putting those on your skin every day, you have a likely chance of harming your body.

Q: How careful are you in making sure that the ingredients you’re using in your line of cosmetics are all natural or ogranic?

A: My mission was to create a line that was good quality and that was health.  That’s always been the most important thing for me, that I use non-toxic ingredients.

Q: Are you able to trace where the ingredients are coming from be it the coconuts used or the way the water is being process for the actual product.

A: I do as much as I can.  I’m not actually out there farming the products and so I have to put my trust in my labs. I do a lot of questioning, I go to the labs and look though everything so I do as much as I can to ensure that I’m getting quality ingredients and that they’re coming from sustainable sources as well.  It’s not just that they’re not toxic that they’re coming from a place that is employing women in their communities.

Q: What steps do you take to make sure the packaging is environmentally friendly?

A: I think that was my biggest impact on the industry is that my packaging is biodegradable, recyclable and that was something that I saw no one was doing out there.  Packaging is actually as harmful as the ingredients when you’re looking at the whole environment.  Nobody was doing it and it was really hard to find that kind of packaging but it’s much more popular now and packaging people are calling me all the time and I’m encouraging all companies to use sustainable packaging because it’s totally possible and it can look stylish too.

Q: Do you see big cosmetic manufacturers following in a similar path?

A: I think it’s a slow movement but I definitely think the customers are asking for it so I do see some change.  The big companies are using natural and orgainic a lot more than they used to.  I think you have to be careful about their marketing and make sure that when they say it, they mean it.  You can tell they’re looking into it more.

Q: How do you think the new Presidential administration is going to affect environmental issues going forward?

A: There’s a new feeling in the world of hope for change.  I think that it’s gonna open the door for asking questions and making changes so I think  the new Presidential election is going to be very positive for the environment.

Photo by curl.d.up.

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25,000 gardens now nature havens

by The Green A-Team

Full BBC article here.

Green Air Filter:

A land of rich culture and history, England is known for many things. English gardens being one of the most aesthetically pleasing of them all. But for many horticulture hobbyists, these famous gardens are more than just idyllic backdrops.

The Royal Society for Protection of Birds (RSPB) has noted a trend in gardeners offering their gardens as Mother Nature’s safe haven for birds as well as insects. More than 25,000 gardens in England have initiated this plan by planting special plants and building homes for declining populations of birds such as sparrows and song thrushes. With these acts of ‘Green vigilante’, Ol’ Blighty will have soon have to change its nickname.

Photo by James.

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Greenhouse open for eco-conscious clubgoers

by Rich Awn

Full Gothamist article here.

This post was originally scheduled for News but I thought, “how is this news?”  I mean, it’s significant but it’s not the kind of thing that’ll  determine the pace of the world’s environmental progress/decline.

But I digress.  My feelings about LEED nightclubs and decor that screams GREEN the minute you walk in is something that puts me in a quandary and schedules this post under the Category, “EEEEEK-oh!” - a category loosely defined as “the sound my brain makes when reacting to something that reeks of greenwashing.”  Posts filed under EEEEK-oh! may be a cautionary tale with an undercurrent of truth that connotes a good deed despite it’s flashy exterior.

I digress again.  Does anyone remember the “Pink Room” at the 90’s NYC club, The Tunnel?  The Pink Room looked like the walls had been stuffed with that Pink Panther-endorsed insulation and everything was plushy and furry with globular mirrors all over the place.  Seems like not much has changed since those ecstasy-heavy days but instead of fiberglass insulation as decor, now it’s some other fake fur crap.

Decor aside, has anyone figured out how to do the kinetic energy dance floor thing yet???  That’s seemingly the most intuitive innovation to making a club green but then again, you need people to fill the floor to make the lights come on.  Is clubland still packing the house like it did in the 70s, 80s, and 90s?

Photo by Katie Sokoler.

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Gobble Green:
Sustainable Thanksgiving Spreads

by The Green A-Team

Greening up your holidays isn’t just a social statement anymore, it’s an economic necessity!

Thanksgiving is upon us and believe it or not, you can Green your turkey day without grossing out your guests.  Here are some simple steps to gobble  it up green:

1.)  As with any event that requires a bit of travel, carpool with your friends and family and consider public transportation where possible.  These services are generally extended during the holiday season.

2.)  Serve organic spirits!  Real cork in your wine or champagne in place of plastic stoppers or twistoff caps is better because cork is renewable and trees aren’t felled for it.

3.) We all know Thanksgiving is all about the sides and they are mostly vegetarian!  The meat and poultry industry contributes to the biggest carbon food print in the supermarket so if you can have more fun with veggies, you’ll be doing right by the planet.

and 4.) Don’t use paper or plastic flatware and if you must, make them be biodegradable.

I’m Rich Awn wishing you a happy Thanksgiving.  For more tips on a Green feast, check out some of the links below:

Thanksgiving Recipe Links (The Vegan Diet)

A slice of heritage with Thanksgiving (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Raising heritage breed turkeys (

Photo by Herbert Harper.

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Life on the Green Carpet:
Exclusive Interview with Ryan Leslie

by The Green A-Team

Going green on the red carpet.

Rising stars in the worlds of music and entertainment have the voice and popularity to shape a generation.

Ryan Leslie is no stranger to the spotlight.  His recent signing to Universal by way of Sean “P-Diddy” Combs, has thrust him into into a fast-paced world of private jets, tour busses, and a lifestyle surrounded by excess.

I think that my voice will be chiming in with the voices that everyone’s been hearing over the past few years, especially with the work of someone like an Al Gore, who’s really brought to the forefront in a very cool way the importance of taking stock in the environment and the smart use of our natural resources.

Ryan’s talents both as a singer and forward thinking entrepreneur give even more depth to his powerful voice and message.

For more of our exclusive interview with Ryan Leslie, click below.

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Evironment waits as economy woes

by The Green A-Team

While the economy hits the skids, environmental issues are taking the back burner.

Is it possible for America to save money and save the planet?

A recent Gallup poll found that 66% of Americans said the economic crisis was hurting their personal finances.  Further, people are more willing to save the environment over economic growth, but not by much.

It’s misrepresented in the main stream media that the problems with the environment and the US economy are inversely related. There’s is no proof that sacrifices of one actually hurt the other.

Anne Thompson, Chief Environmental Correspondent for NBC-Universal,

How do we become less dependent on foreign oil, that is first and foremost in everyone’s mind.  I think that is what’s driving people’s interests to find more environmentally friendly ways to do all sorts of things today.

While there’s panic on Wall Street, the message is that the protection of the environment is directly related to a stabilization of our economy.

For more on the environment’s role in the economy, click here.

Photo by the USDA.

Click below for more of our interview with Anne Thompson.

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How to build a ZERO impact rocket (for Halloween)

by Rich Awn

Woah!  Been a minute since I’ve posted in here… what HAVEN’T I been doing!!!???


Here’s how you deal with Halloween and stay green and save money -  FIND EVERYTHING!  Step by step on how to retrofit a sustainable rocket (as your costume).

1.)  Get lucky.

Riding by at break neck speeds on my Cannondale about two weeks ago, I noticed this fully formed cardboard structure on the side of the road.  Without stopping, having only seen it for 2 seconds, and about a half a mile down the road, using my powers of Halloween intuition, I thought it might’ve made the best rocket costume ever.

Sure enough, it turned out to be the coolest rocket I’ve ever seen made of cardboard, definitely some kind of Scandanavian kids toy judging by how well it’s crafted.  Kicking myself for not having come for it the night before, I found it the following day (luckily) to have been kicked in, stomped on, and pissed on.  The smell of stale urine actually tuned me away at first and I finally stiffened up and vowed to restore it to is original splendor in the name of all things hallowed.

2.) Cut out the urine-soaked base.

Working on the refurbishing and retro-fitting for the zero rocket, the foul odor emanating from it’s interior was stifling.  With a few quick slashes of a box cutter, the problem was solved and peace was restored to the restoration.  Be sure to cut out just enough for the structure to fit firmly on the hips without compromising the structures overall integrity.

3.) Add a harness.

Using the camel back attachment for my girlfriend’s hiking bag, I laced a piece of nylon rope though holes I made 1″ apart along the back, poking them through with a fillips head screwdriver.  Just like lacing a sneaker, I cris-crossed the rope over the back of the camel back and under the shoulder straps at the height necessary for the rocket to sit comfortably just below my waist and high enough for me to see out every port hole.

4.) Add an interior light.

Using rechargeable batteries and this cool old fluorescent light I found in the bottom of a tool box, I used the aforementioned “shoe string” principle to attaching the light.  Less holes were necessary and shorter rope but it worked just fine.

Et voila!  As you can see from the slide show, it looks amazing… and the best part about it is that it’s recyclable and/or you and an agressive mob of candy-crazed trick-or-treaters can bash the hell out of it at the end of the night.

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Eating Your Way Back to Nature

by The Green A-Team

What’s the simplest and most enjoyable way for city dwellers to  get back to nature?

The answer… eating.

If there’s one thing that makes the cramped conditions and lack of open spaces of city life worth the high cost of living, it surely must be the food.  International merchants, master restauranteurs, and local producers all converge in American cities to connect, and conduct business with a cultured and diverse consumer base.

Anna Lappe, bestselling author and co-founder of the Small Planet Institute, shares her thoughts on the future of food at a recent Sustainability Roundtable Discussion at the Mini Rooftop series in New York City.

As agriculture begins to turn back it’s clock to methods more conducive to sustainability, city dwellers will have more opportunities to dig into the freshest of what urban markets can bring.  So while there may not be much dirt to farm in the concrete jungle, know where your food is coming from and how it can transport you back to nature.

For more on sustainable agriculture and the full interview with Anna Lappe, click here.

Photo by Patrick Boland.

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Solar power plane that can fly day or night

by The Green A-Team

Full LA Times article here.

Green Air Filter:

Around the world in 80 days or even less than 80 days is no longer the spectacular notion it once was. With technology unwilling to flail at any time soon, priorities have shifted from reaching the destination to how one makes the destination.

Solar panel planes have been in development for quite a while by now but the problem had always been the very fact that they are solar powered and therefore can only fly by day. But unlike Icarus, two Swiss innovators are no longer afraid to fly too close to the sun with the help of special solar powered batteries that can be used to fly at night. As long as the batteries are powerful enough to beat the night, that is.

Photo by Neil Donoghue.

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Make Current The Collective Conscienctiousness

by Rich Awn

If you’re not getting enough from your bookmarking sites, readers, comment apps, and content penetrators, stop squirming and start sharing on

Recent noodlings around this explosive and intelligent community have seen two Green Air posts make it to the homepage and one almost made it on TV! While that may sound tawdry, I assure you this is like total vilification amid the hulking mass of Google AdSense supported contamination out there.

The ultra-sympathetic and largely discerning user base rapidly shares content through a media accelerator that does most of the work for you.  Once a url is submitted, pictures from the submission can be selected, descriptions can be made, heart palpitating headlines can be added as well as links, files, and a webcam soundoff recorder if you can’t bark your point accross loudly enough with words.  Customizable notifications are available and I would recommend customizing with a heavy hand.  I checked all the boxes and allow 100% of the updates on new submissions and comments to be emailed to me and admitedly, it’s a bit much.

What’s slightly unnerving from a traditional broadcast perspective is how the Current TV News segment has the sound of total automation and the complete absence of anyone real producing it.  The tin-throated cyber female announcer delivers the generic interstitial copy with perfect diction and the top stories are there from the most votes accumulated from (what we hope are) human users.  This isn’t to say I’m not totally impressed by it… I’m just worried talking heads may be obsolete pretty soon!

I’ll say I’ve had more fun and ease of use with Current than any other social bookmarking site I’m on (and I’m a whole lot).  So if you go, add me!

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