Recycling creates a Beautiful Partnership

Polystyrene lunch traysAn elementary school in Stockton, CA has cut their waste stream by 20 percent.

They didn’t do it on their own. Corporate America stepped up to help make it happen.

Dart Container Corp., whose manufacturing plant was located nearby, helped the students at Westwood Elementary School by accepting their polystyrene lunch trays, which were cleaned, sorted, then sent to the plant. This allowed the students to recycle 90 percent of their otherwise non-recyclable trays.

What’s even more inspiring in this story is that Dart doesn’t make polystyrene trays but agreed to accept the material from the school at no charge. Dart then “upcycled” the material to make new products – picture frames and decorative molding, along with their other polystyrene products like cups, plates and cutlery.

This let the school cut their trash collection from 5 days to 4 each week, adding more savings to what surely is an already stretched budget.

Just goes to show what can happen when companies look to make a difference in their communities.  Way to go, Dart!

Nissan to produce electric cars in the U.S.

Nissan announces plans to build electric cars in the U.S.     Photo Credit: Mark Renders / Getty Images News

Nissan announces plans to build electric cars in the U.S. Photo Credit: Mark Renders / Getty Images News

Nissan Motors plans to begin producing electric cars and their lithium ion batteries in the U.S.

Nissan North America’s headquarters in Smyrna, Tennessee will be the site of their new electric car assembly lines. The overall investment is projected at 50 billion yen ($516.4 million and could rise to 100 billion yen.

Capabile of making 50,000 to 100,000 eco-friendly vehicles a year by 2012, the Smyrna plant is expected to first produce a small passenger car. Nissan also intends to construct a production facility with NEC Corp for high-capacity lithium ion batteries at the Tennessee site.

The company has applied for a loan from the U.S. government under a low-interest-loan program to support the automobile industry.The Nikkei Business Daily reported Nissan will soon receive approval for a loan exceeding 100 billion yen. The company plans to assemble up to 50,000 electric cars a year in Japan starting in fall 2010.

Exciting news for green-minded drivers. Who’s going to jump on this bandwagon next?

Environmentally-Friendly ReUsable Tableware for Toddlers

Dandelion Eco-friendly ReUsable Children's Tableware

Dandelion Eco-friendly ReUsable Children's Tableware

Until recently, conventional children’s tableware contained BPA and thilates, now recognized as hazardous chemicals. With the introduction of alternative bioplastics, which produce less greenhouse gases than traditional plastic, parents of young children now have safe, eco-friendly choices.

Florida-based Re-Think It, Inc. recently introduced their Dandelion Earth Friendly brand ReUsable Tableware designed especially for toddlers. The diverse Dandelion brand– which includes adorable organic developmental toys, organic rattles and teethers – includes “feeding items” such as bowls, divided plates, forks and spoons made of reusable PLA corn plastic.

“Eco-green is on everyone’s radar,” says Kelly Rundle, Director of Sales for Re-Think It. But no one company was offering retailers a one-stop shop, something missing with natural and eco-products. Re-Think It saw the opportunity.

The company’s owners decided to create an earth-friendly product line.

There’s a real focus on disposableware as a convenience, said Rundle. But it still has to be processed and shipped, which adds to that product’s carbon footprint.

ReUsable Children’s Tableware is eco-friendly in a number of ways. Made from most common type PLA corn in the U.S. – corn used to feed animals and to make artificial sweeteners – the tableware’s lightweight, which said Rundle, helps in the degradation process. Being thinner, they break down faster.

These products also address an even deeper concern.

“Parents have a strong distrust of plastic right now,” Rundle says. Discovery of the widespread use of BPA and thilates in children’s products sparked a national outcry.

These products answer three concerns parents have, said Rundle. They want something:

  1. that’s not a plastic plate.
  2. that’s friendly for the environment.
  3. that’s grab and go.

Moms are generally more eco-conscious and concerned about environmental aspects of the things they use, says Rundle. Even Mom’s who aren’t so eco-aware hear about the hazardous chemicals in baby products, she said, and they’re satisfied with these products.

Besides being made of corn plastic, ReUsables utilize innovative, eco-friendly packaging made from 100% recycled paperboard, custom designed with a minimal amount of materials.

Bright corn-yellow in color, the divided plates keep food separate and, to encourage good toddler eating habits, are a reasonable 7-inch size. The bowls – with flared tab edges for easy gripping – are deep but not large. “When toddlers eat from (them), this helps the food end up in their mouths.” Or at least more of it, said Rundle laughing.

The thicker utensils are made to fit toddlers’ little hands.

This tableware is made to last, probably longer than plastic. Because they’re so new, nobody’s used it more than a year. But, said Rundle, “based on their properties, it’s designed to be infinitely used!”

Durable, safe, good for on-the-go or home use, and earth friendly, the Dadelion line is also affordable. A 2-pack of plates or bowls or a pack of four forks & four 5-inch spoons runs $7.99 each. Available at select Whole Foods Markets, you can find them online at www.dandelionforbaby.com/ or call    (888) 222-3053   .

Think Solar Day on Sunday

Solar Day celebrates the benefits and importance of all things solar.

Solar Day celebrates the benefits and importance of all things solar.

Father’s Day is two holidays in one. The first annual Solar Day – a day promoting the benefits of solar energy – is taking place in some of the country’s top metropolitan cities.

John Reed, a San Francisco Bay area business man who’s brainchild this was, sees this as a way to recognize that we have control over our home and business energy, even if we can’t control the oil and gas companies.

For more details on Solar Day, see www.solarday.com.

Let’s make June 21st an annual Solar Day around the globe.

Six Flags plans to cut waste, protect ecosystems

Six Flags announced their company-wide Green Initiative, with plans to cut waste, reduce fuel and electricity use and protect the watersheds and ecosystems across theme park and water parks.

The theme park giant is creating groundbreaking pilot program at four parks. Vehicles and trains currently running on diesel will be converted to vegetable oil generated in Park kitchens. Lighting will shift to LED lamps and park lights, reducing green house gas emissions from electricity consumption.

Six Flags also plans to further recycling and waste reduction efforts. Partnering with Coca-Cola, they’re already placed over 3,000 recycle bins in all twenty Six Flags parks in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

“Six Flags is taking aggressive steps to help protect and preserve the environment for future generations,” said Mark Shapiro, Six Flags President and CEO.

For more details, see http://3.ly/3JC.

Solar Day is Coming!

Solar Day launches nationwide on June 21st

Solar Day launches nationwide on June 21st

If you haven’t heard about it yet, you will soon. Solar Day – a day recognizing the importance and growth of solar energy in this country – is happening on June 21at, the first official day of summer.

It’s to be the first annual event and founder John Reed hopes it will not only become a national but international celebration, along the lines as Earth Day.

I’ll be posting more news and updates on this new event. Want to find out more now? See www.solarday.com.

Whole Foods loan program benefits local organic growers

Whole Foods Markets provides loans to local organic producers

Whole Foods Markets provides loans to local organic producers

Super-grocery Whole Foods – known for selling high quality natural and organic foods – has been in the business of making loans to small organic farmers since 2006.

The Whole Foods Market Local Producer Loan Program provides loans to small local producers who otherwise would have a tough time getting their products on shelves. A spokesperson for the company said they believe they are the only ones doing this.

The company’s first loans were awarded in 2007 and hit the $2.5 million mark in late May,  said Jenny Brown, the Local Producer Loan Program administrator. “Our commitment is to fund up to $10 million throughout the program,” Brown said from her office in Austin, Texas.

With so many small businesses going under or facing severe financial troubles with the current economy, it’s offers a bright ray of hope to see a company like Whole Foods stepping out to make a real difference. Small organic farmers are a vital link in keeping our food supply safe. It’s critical that they get the support they need to thrive.

For more information on the Whole Foods Loan program, go to http://3.ly/m1M.