Friday, August 1, 2008

What's In the Basement- August


  • 1 piece scotch tape
  • 1 price sticker from fish monger
  • 1 staple from film sides
  • 2 staples from cardboard top
  • 3 metallic emergen c packets
  • 1 piece scotch tape from studio passes
  • 1 staple from film sides
  • 1 sticker from fish monger
  • 1 piece scotch tape from studio passes
  • 1 ball of used tape
  • 1 coffee cup (plasticoated)
  • 3 chips bags
  • 2 food wrapper bars
  • 1 band aid wrapper and sticky covers
  • 2 sucking candy wrappers
  • 1 chips bag
  • 3 pieces of tape from new underwear
  • 1 metal staple from tea bag
  • 1 mettalic butter container top
  • 1 chips bag
  • 1 fruit rollup wrapper
  • 1 cereal bar wrapper
  • 2 breakfast pastry bags
  • 2 cereal bar wrappers
  • 1 piece chewed gum in wrapper
  • 2 band aid wrappers
  • 1 chips bag
  • 1 chips bag
  • 1 plastic stir straw
  • 1 coffee bean bag
  • 1 plastic thingy that holds new socks together
  • 1 sticker from new socks
  • 1 packet from mac and cheese
  • 1 microwave popcorn bag
  • 3 biscotti wrappers
  • 1 plane ticket holder
  • 6 plane baggage tags
  • 2 plastic toy wrappers w/stickers
  • 4 pieces of chewed gum in wrappers
  • 1 breakfast bar wrapper
  • 5 glossy door flyers
  • 1 coffee bean bag
  • 1 3 segment drug packet
  • 1 piece clean used foil
  • 1 cardboard middle from frozen juice container
  • 2 lollipop covers
  • 1 glossy flyer
  • 1 plastic pasta bag
  • 1 plastic straw
  • 1 beer bottle
  • 1 plastic bag
  • 1 glass soy sauce bottle w/top
  • 2 metal ends from frozen juice container
  • 1 cardboard pizza box
  • 1 cardboard naan box
  • 1 plastic gnocci bag
  • 1 beer bottle w/top
  • 1 plastic cranberry bag
  • 1 plastic banana chips bag
  • 1 lemonade tetra pak
  • 11 ozs paper from mail
  • 4 local newspapers
  • 1 plastic gnocci bag
  • 2 plastic drinking cups PP5
  • 1 plastic straw
  • 1 cardboard mac and cheese box
  • 1 plastic frozen strawberry bag
  • 1 glass soda bottle w/top
  • 1 cardboard 4 pack from soda bottles
  • 1 cardboard sock holder

  • 1 plastic celery bag
  • 1 glass soda bottle w/top
  • 2 plastic cups w/top PETE 1
  • 3 misc plastic bags
  • 1 cereal wrapper
  • 1 plastic carrots bag
  • 1 beer bottle w/top
  • 1 plastic from plates
  • 1 plastic bag
  • 1 marshmallow bag
  • 2 smart dog wrappers
  • 2 plastic sample cups
  • 1 plastic straw
  • 1 plastic milk jug w/top HDPE 2
  • 1 cardboard pizza box
  • 1 tetra pak egg whites
  • 1 plastic cookie packet
  • 1 syrup container HDPE 2 w/top
  • 1 plastic butter container
  • 1 cardboard cereal box
  • 1 wax cereal bag
  • 1 tetra pak milk carton
  • 1 plastic underwear bag
  • 1 cardboard from underwear bag
  • 1 plastic drinking straw
  • 1 aluminum can
  • 1 plastic juice bottle w/top
  • 1 plastic pasta bag
  • 6 ozs paper from bills
  • 1 broken glass carafe (checking on this)
  • 5 ozs receipts/bills
  • 1 set of film sides
  • 1 cardbaord backing from videocassets package
  • 1 plastic front from videocassete package
  • 2 videocassette plastic wraps
  • 1 soup tetrapak box
  • 1 aluminum soda can
  • 1 beer bottle w/top
  • 1 cardboard cereal box
  • 1 cereal bag
  • 1 beer bottle w/top
  • 1 cardboard beer bottle six pack holder
  • 1 plastic safflower oil bottle PETE 1
  • 1 beer bottle w/top
  • 1 plastic sample cup
  • 1 tetrapak milk jug
  • 2 plastic berry containers
  • 2 cardbaord crayola boxes
  • 1 cardboard top to party favors
  • 1 glass juice bottle w/top
  • 1 plastic bag from party favors
  • 1 glass beer bottle w/top
  • 1 glass soda bottle w/top
  • 1 plastic salad bag
E-waste/HAZ Waste:
  • 1 broken bulb
Unaccounted For:
  • 1 plastic juice bottle w/top
  • 1 cardboard post card


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Reusabable Bags Sale

For anyone interested in getting reusable bags and in need of a push, Reusablebags.com is having a huge sale right now. If you can get something local that's made locally go for that first, or better yet, make them yourselves, but if not being able to pick them up is holding you back, here's a good opportunity.



Energy Efficiency As A Solution

Check out this very cool article by Joseph Romm from Salon.com. He lays out very simply and with great examples how the US can cut energy use simply through efficiency and halting energy leaks in the grid. Sighting California as an example, he writes

"In the past three decades, electricity consumption per capita grew 60 percent in the rest of the nation, while it stayed flat in high-tech, fast-growing California. If all Americans had the same per capita electricity demand as Californians currently do, we would cut electricity consumption 40 percent. If the entire nation had California's much cleaner electric grid, we would cut total U.S. global-warming pollution by more than a quarter without raising American electric bills. And if all of America adopted the same energy-efficiency policies that California is now putting in place, the country would never have to build another polluting power plant."

Check it out, it's a quick read.


Why we never need to build another polluting power plant

Coal? Natural gas? Nuke? We can wipe them all off the drawing board by using current energy more efficiently. Are you listening, Washington?
By Joseph Romm

Jul. 28, 2008 | Suppose I paid you for every pound of pollution you generated and punished you for every pound you reduced. You would probably spend most of your time trying to figure out how to generate more pollution. And suppose that if you generated enough pollution, I had to pay you to build a new plant, no matter what the cost, and no matter how much cheaper it might be to not pollute in the first place.

Well, that's pretty much how we have run the U.S. electric grid for nearly a century. The more electricity a utility sells, the more money it makes. If it's able to boost electricity demand enough, the utility is allowed to build a new power plant with a guaranteed profit. The only way a typical utility can lose money is if demand drops. So the last thing most utilities want to do is seriously push strategies that save energy, strategies that do not pollute in the first place.

America is the Saudi Arabia of energy waste. A 2007 report from the international consulting firm McKinsey and Co. found that improving energy efficiency in buildings, appliances and factories could offset almost all of the projected demand for electricity in 2030 and largely negate the need for new coal-fired power plants. McKinsey estimates that one-third of the U.S. greenhouse gas reductions by 2030 could come from electricity efficiency and be achieved at negative marginal costs. In short, the cost of the efficient equipment would quickly pay for itself in energy savings.

While a few states have energy-efficiency strategies, none matches what California has done. In the past three decades, electricity consumption per capita grew 60 percent in the rest of the nation, while it stayed flat in high-tech, fast-growing California. If all Americans had the same per capita electricity demand as Californians currently do, we would cut electricity consumption 40 percent. If the entire nation had California's much cleaner electric grid, we would cut total U.S. global-warming pollution by more than a quarter without raising American electric bills. And if all of America adopted the same energy-efficiency policies that California is now putting in place, the country would never have to build another polluting power plant.

How did California do it? In part, a smart California Energy Commission has promoted strong building standards and the aggressive deployment of energy-efficient technologies and strategies -- and has done so with support of both Democratic and Republican leadership over three decades.

Many of the strategies are obvious: better insulation, energy-efficient lighting, heating and cooling. But some of the strategies were unexpected. The state found that the average residential air duct leaked 20 to 30 percent of the heated and cooled air it carried. It then required leakage rates below 6 percent, and every seventh new house is inspected. The state found that in outdoor lighting for parking lots and streets, about 15 percent of the light was directed up, illuminating nothing but the sky. The state required new outdoor lighting to cut that to below 6 percent. Flat roofs on commercial buildings must be white, which reflects the sunlight and keeps the buildings cooler, reducing air-conditioning energy demands. The state subsidized high-efficiency LED traffic lights for cities that lacked the money, ultimately converting the entire state.

Significantly, California adopted regulations so that utility company profits are not tied to how much electricity they sell. This is called "decoupling." It also allowed utilities to take a share of any energy savings they help consumers and businesses achieve. The bottom line is that California utilities can make money when their customers save money. That puts energy-efficiency investments on the same competitive playing field as generation from new power plants.

The cost of efficiency programs has averaged 2 to 3 cents per avoided kilowatt hour, which is about one-fifth the cost of electricity generated from new nuclear, coal and natural gas-fired plants. And, of course, energy efficiency does not require new power lines and does not generate greenhouse-gas emissions or long-lived radioactive waste. While California is far more efficient than the rest of the country, the state still thinks that with an even more aggressive effort, it can achieve as much additional electricity savings by 2020 as it has in the past three decades.

Serious energy efficiency is not a one-shot resource, where you pick the low-hanging fruit and you're done. In fact, the fruit grows back. The efficiency resource never gets exhausted because technology keeps improving and knowledge spreads to more people.

The best corporate example is Dow Chemical's Louisiana division, consisting of more than 20 plants. In 1982, the division's energy manager, Ken Nelson, began a yearly contest to identify and fund energy-saving projects. Some of the projects were simple, like more efficient compressors and motors, or better insulation for steam lines. Some involved more sophisticated thermodynamic "pinch" analysis, which allows engineers to figure out where to place heat exchangers to capture heat emitted in one part of a chemical process and transfer it to a different part of the process where heat is needed. His success was nothing short of astonishing.

The first year of the contest had 27 winners requiring a total capital investment of $1.7 million with an average annual return on investment of 173 percent. Many at Dow felt that there couldn't be others with such high returns. The skeptics were wrong. The 1983 contest had 32 winners requiring a total capital investment of $2.2 million and a 340 percent return -- a savings of $7.5 million in the first year and every year after that. Even as fuel prices declined in the mid-1980s, the savings kept growing. The average return to the 1989 contest was the highest ever, an astounding 470 percent in 1989 -- a payback of 11 weeks that saved the company $37 million a year.

You might think that after 10 years, and nearly 700 projects, the 2,000 Dow employees would be tapped out of ideas. Yet the contest in 1991, 1992 and 1993 each had in excess of 120 winners with an average return on investment of 300 percent. Total savings to Dow from just those projects exceeded $75 million a year.

When I worked at the Department of Energy in the mid-1990s, we hired Nelson, who had recently retired from Dow, to run a "return on investment" contest to reduce DOE's pollution. As they were at Dow, many DOE employees were skeptical such opportunities existed. Yet the first two contest rounds identified and funded 18 projects that cost $4.6 million and provided the department $10 million in savings every year, while avoiding more than 100 tons of low-level radioactive pollution and other kinds of waste. The DOE's regional operating officers ended up funding 260 projects costing $20 million that have been estimated to achieve annual savings of $90 million a year.

Economic models greatly overestimate the cost of carbon mitigation because economists simply don't believe that the economy has lots of high-return energy-efficiency opportunities. In their theory, the economy is always operating near efficiency. Reality is very different than economic models.

In my five years at DOE, working with companies to develop and deploy efficient and renewable technologies, and then in nearly a decade of consulting with companies in the private sector, I never saw a building or factory that couldn't cut electricity consumption or greenhouse-gas emissions 25 percent to 50 percent with rapid payback (under four years). My 1999 book, "Cool Companies," detailed some 100 case studies of companies that have done just that and made a great deal of money.

There are many reasons that most companies don't match what the best companies do. Until recently, saving energy has been a low priority for most of them. Most utilities, as noted, have little or no incentive to help companies save energy. Funding for government programs to help companies adopt energy-saving strategies has been cut under the Bush administration.

Government has a very important role in enabling energy savings. The office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy has lots of (underfunded) programs that deliver savings every day. Consider, for instance, Chrysler's St. Louis complex, which recently received a DOE Save Energy Now energy assessment. Using DOE software, Chrysler identified a variety of energy-saving measures and saved the company $627,000 a year in energy costs -- for an upfront implementation cost of only $125,000.

The key point for policymakers now is that we have more than two decades of experience with successful state and federal energy-efficiency programs. We know what works. As California energy commissioner Art Rosenfeld -- a former DOE colleague and the godfather of energy efficiency -- put it in a recent conversation, "A lot of technology and strategies that are tried and true in California are waiting to be adopted by the rest of country."

So how do we overcome barriers and tap our nearly limitless efficiency resource? Obviously, the first thing would be to get all the states to embrace smarter utility regulations, which is a core strategy of Barack Obama's plan to reduce greenhouse gases. But how does the federal government get all the states to embrace efficiency?

We should establish a federal matching program to co-fund state-based efficiency programs, with a special incentive to encourage states without an efficiency program to start one. This was a key recommendation of the End-Use Efficiency Working Group to the Energy Future Coalition, a bipartisan effort to develop consensus policies, in which I participated. The first year should offer $1 billion in federal matching funds, then $2 billion, $3 billion, $4 billion, and finally stabilizing at $5 billion. This will give every state time to change their regulations and establish a learning curve for energy efficiency.

This program would cost $15 billion in the first five years, but save several times that amount in lower energy bills and reduced pollution. Since the next president will put in place a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gases, the revenues from auctioning the emissions permits can ultimately be used to pay for the program.

We should restore a federal focus on the energy-intensive industries, such as pulp and paper, steel, aluminum, petroleum refining and chemicals. They account for 80 percent of energy consumed by U.S. manufacturers and 90 percent of the hazardous waste. They represent the best chance for increasing efficiency while cutting pollution. Many are major emitters of greenhouse gases other than carbon dioxide. A 1993 analysis for the DOE found that a 10 to 20 percent reduction in waste by American industry would generate a cumulative increase of $2 trillion in the gross domestic product from 1996 to 2010. By 2010, the improvements would be generating 2 million new jobs.

For these reasons, in the 1990s, the Energy Department began forming partnerships with energy-intensive industries to develop clean technologies. We worked with scientists and engineers to identify areas of joint research into technologies that would simultaneously save energy, reduce pollution and increase productivity. The Bush administration slashed funding for this program by 50 percent -- and keeps trying to shut it down entirely.

Indeed, conservatives in general have cut the funding or shut down entirely almost all federal programs aimed at deploying energy-efficient technologies. Conservatives simply have a blind spot when it comes to energy efficiency and conservation, seeing them as inconsequential "Jimmy Carter programs."

I recently testified at a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on nuclear power and spoke about how alternative technologies, particularly energy efficiency, were a much better bet for the country. Senator George Voinovich (R-Ohio) said this was "poppycock," and then asked all the pro-nuclear witnesses to address the question, "If nuclear power is so uncompetitive, why are so many utilities building reactors?"

Voinovich apparently has forgotten about the massive subsidies he himself voted to give the nuclear industry in 2005. He seems to be unaware that states like Florida allow utilities to sharply raise electric rates years in advance of a nuclear plant delivering even a single electron to customers. If you could do that same forward-pricing with energy efficiency, we would never need to build another polluting plant.

Although he is a senior member of the Senate and a powerful voice on energy and climate issues, Voinovich doesn't seem to know the first thing about the electricity business; namely, that a great many utilities have a huge profit incentive to build even the most expensive power plants, since they can pass all costs on to consumers while retaining a guaranteed profit. But they have a strong disincentive from investing in much less costly efforts to reduce electricity demand, since that would eat into their profits.

The next president must challenge the public service commission in every state to allow utilities to receive the same return on energy efficiency as they are allowed to receive on generation. That single step could lead the country the furthest in solving our ever-worsening climate and energy problems.

-- By Joseph Romm


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

LA to Fix Plastic Bag Problem....Finally

Last week the LA city council voted to outlaw plastic bags in the city of Los Angeles by 2010 unless businesses impose a 25 cent tax on every bag they give out. Either way, this will put a huge dent in our plastic bag problem. According to the article in the LA Times, LAnicks use 2.3 billion plastic bags every year and only 5% are recycled. It's disgusting and it's about time something was done about it. While I hope they outlaw them, Ireland has proven that a plastax can have a dramatic effect so either way, it's a good thing.

So who's next?



Day 210 - Tuesday 7/29/08

Today's Haul:

  • 16 ozs paper from mail - worms/recycle
  • 1 piece chewed gum in wrapper - garbage
  • 1 candy bar wrapper - garbage
  • 1 glossy mailer - garbage
  • 1 frozen oj container - garbage
  • 2 frozen oj container end pieces - recycle
  • 1 frozen oj container pull tab - garbage


Monday, July 28, 2008


For those of you reading along at home, you may notice that i just backposted the last 7 days. It's not because I was lazy (I am) or that I forgot (I didn't) but rather because we were out of town for the week and due to time availability and the desire to not let the world know that I was gone from home for seven days, I just caught up now.  Having said that, I came home with a tidy bag of refuse and am glad to say that unlike the last time I took such a trip, no one stopped me and snickered at the airport (or at least to my knowledge).

We were in Seattle for a wedding and I must say it is quite the beautiful city.  I was extremely happy to see 4 bangar recycle/trash bins EVERYWHERE (paper, plastic, aluminum, and garbage) and to see that people actively seemed to be separating their waste.  Saturday night they held a parade downtown and afterwards, the recycle bins were overflowing while many of the garbage bins I saw were not.  It was very cool.

As usual, traveling as a trash hoarder with wife and two kids in tow is an odd experience, but even more oddly, a liberating one.  Since I am not preparing food, for the most part, all refuse that i can account for pretty much comes down to packaging of one sort or another and relatively little else, save for tickets, transfers and receipts (which will show up sometime next month when i finally get to them).  Since i didn't have access to a compost bin I had to keep a pretty strict eye on what i ate as well.  I had a few tupperwares with me in case, but nobody wants to have to explain a week old banana peel to the TSA guys, trust me, I know from whereof I speak.  I must admit that i did have a peach and threw the pits in the woods, but otherwise did fairly well.  I also have a lovely little pile of edamame shells sitting next to that i can hear the worms screaming for, so I'll do some more catching up tomorrow.



Day 209 - Monday 7/28/08

Today's Haul:

  • 4 plasticoated luggage tags - garbage
  • 4 boarding passes - worms
  • 2 pieces scrap paper - worms
  • 2 sugar packets - worms
  • 1 cardboard room key - recycle (shocking I know)


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Week 29 Pics


Day 208 - Sunday 7/27/08

Today's Haul:

  • 1 set wedding directions - worms
  • 3 ferry tickets - worms
  • 1 wedding place card - worms
  • 2 paper sugar packets - worms
  • 2 pieces scrap paper - worms
  • 1 plastic cookie package - recycle
  • 1 plastic cookie bag - recycle