Hold off the next time you grab a disposable bottle of water while picking up your coffee at Starbucks. Their Ethos water may economically benefit some peoples , but the bottle most definately HURTS. Turns out that most of the Styrofoam Jamba Juice cups and discarded flip-flops in the oceans are washed from land and not dumped by ocean going vessels as is the normal thinking according to the Algalita Marine Research Foundation. I became aware of this organization and it’s research while working on a new TV show recently that visited with a couple of their amazing scientists that are putting their lives at risk to make us aware of the trash we produce everyday. They are sailing into the ocean towards a texas sized patch of plastic soup that is referred to as the “Pacific trash gyre” or “plastic vortex”. The sailers and researchers heading this project, Marcus Eriksen and Joel Paschal, were featured on the green reality series called “Mario’s Greenhouse” with Actor and Director, Mario Van Peebles (Voom Networks). At the time of videotaping with them, they were still in the construction phase of their ocean going vessel affectionately named, Junk Raft, that departed from Los Angeles on June 2nd, 2008.Their vessel made of trash that they will live on for 8 weeks or more.

From the official website:

“Algalita staff set sail on “Junk,” a raft built on 15,000 plastic bottles. Their 2,100 mile journey will take them through the plastic-plagued Northern Pacific Gyre. Designed by Dr. Marcus Eriksen and Joel Paschal, the raft boasts an airplane fuselage, discarded fishing nets, a solar generator, and a wind turbine. This ambitious journey will bring further public attention to the plastic marine debris issue.”16 Billions pounds of plastic \'soup\' floating in the pacific alone.

Eriksen and Paschal manage to upload blog entries and video from the middle of Pacific somehow. For this their blog, junkraft.blogspot.com, deserves a visit by all of us. It’s amazing stuff and you can read about their trip AND the massive trash gyre that you may have heard about on the news that their parent organization, The Algalita Marine Research Foundation, is given credit for finding.

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Seattle Weekly Writer, Aimee Curl, dug below the coffee grounds and into the dirt. Turns out that Tully’s is out-greening the coffee giant, Starbucks. They are using “eco-tainers” and really managing their waste flow. The smaller Seattle coffee chain report 78% recycling rate for all the waste their business creates. Read more….

Little coffee companies are leading the way.

Little coffee companies are leading the way.

A new website, The Point, allows anyone to start a boycott or similar campaign against a company or organization. One of the more popular one’s is against Starbuck’s use of unsustainable disposable to-go cups. P. Zelchenko, who started this action, is hoping it “will embarrass Starbucks into truly embracing the environmental ideals that it claims to espouse.”

The idea starts with 102,950 people joining this campaign after which time they will begin writing their names on each paper cup they are served for “in store” use. If Starbucks does not comply they will “insist that they remain on a shelf, to be reused the next time we return to the store.”

The Point

Another campaign of interest involves Pepsi’s use of unsustainable plastic in bottling their Aquafina Brand water. “When we reach our goal of recruiting 50,000 Aquafina drinkers, we will stop drinking Aquafina water, causing PepsiCo an abrupt drop in profits, amounting to approximately $20 million annually in gross profit.” They demand they find a bio-plastic alternative to existing bottles or suffer the consequences of a sizable boycott and likely a lot of bad press. Cheers to the campaign organizers and everyone at The Point for an interesting approach to social change.

We all know that using any sort of cup that is washable is far superior to disposable versions. It’s better for the planet, uses less land fill space, no trees get cut down, and more…

GreenHome.com offers suggestions for eco-friendly alternatives to popular earth-nasty products. Included in their offerings is a travel mug made from corn-starch. This sustainable and renewable organic compound looks and feels like plastic but under years of hot and moist conditions, will biodegrade . I don’t think you can put it in the dishwasher, buy hey, your christmas shopping just got a whole lot easier!

Cornstarch Coffee Travel Mug

You can choose from 3 different designs printed with vegetable derived inks.

Bottled Water Is A Scam

October 13, 2007

If you think you can taste the difference between Fuji brand water and ‘drinking’ water from the grocery store you’re the victim of some very powerful marketing. Turns out that a lot of Americans will choose tap water over fancy name brand water in blind taste tests. Here’s another blind taste test. More appalling is the flagrant mis-use of natural resources needed to ship ‘glacial spring water’ from the glacier to your neighborhood. Then there are the un-recycled water bottles that are made from plastic (derived from oil and natural gas) that clog landfills and beaches throughout the world. In addition to all of these environmental reasons for not drinking bottled water, it turns out that gasoline is actually cheaper(by volume) than most bottled water products.

water bottle trash

I thought clean drinking water was a basic human right. Small towns in the U.S. are witnessing their municipal water being purchased by conglomerates like Nestle Corporation, repackaged and sold back to Americans as “pure spring water”. On so many levels this is wrong. So wrong in fact the City of Burbank in California has a new bottled-water policy which calls for city employees to use tap water during official meetings and City Hall proceedings. Other parts of the country too are realizing the huge negative economic and environmental effect those ”healthy” little bottles can have. Inside the Bottle urges that everyone mobilize to prevent consumption of bottled water.

The bottled water industry even have their own website dedicated to helping people sell more of their harmful products.

The Environmental Working Group can help you determine the quality of the tap water in your area.

A trip to the water cooler will feel so much healthier if you don’t make any trash in the process.

According to Wikipedia, Bagasse is the left-over bio mass when you’ve squeezed all of the juice out of sugarcane. In addition to being explored as feed for live stock and raw material for creating bio fuels, bagasse can also replace paper in many disposable products including cups, trays, plates and bowls. After an exhaustive search I found TreeCycle, purveyors of fine recycled paper products. They sell those little coffee convenience trays that keep you from spilling milk all over your car when you are kind enough to pick up some caffeine for your coworkers. Better yet the trays are made from this material of the gods, bagasse, which happens to be sustainable and biodegradable. Hurray for responsible coffee drinking!

Coffee tray made from sugarcane.

Green Moving Boxes

September 23, 2007

Perhaps, like you, I want to hoard perfectly functional cardboard boxes. For me it’s about not paying for boxes when I’m shipping things I’ve sold on Ebay. It’s also about not deforesting the planet by giving the old ones a new life. Few of us have enough space in our garages for the number of paper vessels needed to move a typical household from one home to the next.  What do you do when you want to be green but need a whole bunch? Used Cardboard Boxes to the rescue!Boxes

The prices are slightly lower than buying new boxes from the other major competitors like U-Haul, but you can rest easy knowing that you are killing fewer trees as you finally move into your country home in the woods. Ah, nature….