Monday, January 11, 2010

Teaching "Green"

New York City schools put stronger focus on environmentalism
Mireya Navarro and Sindya N. Bhanoo, New York Times, January 10, 2010

Rather than simply covering predictable topics like recycling and tree planting, the Green School alerts students to problems like sooty air and negative media representations of their neighborhoods.

"Green is not just the environment,” Jennifer said. “It's politics, government, social justice."

"We do a lot of things other schools are not doing," said Jose, 15. "I feel like we’re doing something important."

The Green School is a progressive alternative high school in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York that focuses on sustainability, the environment, science, social justice, experiential learning, and career planning. The students are encouraged to delve into local issues that may affect them and their families, like contamination in waterways like the Gowanus Canal, water quality, or the razing of low-scale housing.

"You can't have a kid in a violent neighborhood and say, 'Let's talk about the polar bear,' " said Karali Pitzele, one of the school's two co-directors.


Across the nation, the range of green schools form a fledgling network, finding eager partners in groups like the Sierra Club and the National Wildlife Federation, which provide lesson plans or money for field trips, and in private and government agencies that are making concerted environmental efforts in communities and cities.

Read the complete article here.

Friday, January 8, 2010

One person's trash is another person's treasure

Did you know that there are a multitude of alternatives to the disposal of materials or wastes, which help conserve energy, resources, and landfill space?

Service providers directly connect one-time or regular generators of traditional or even difficult-to-recycle materials with parties that can use those materials. Instead of paying for hauling and disposal, the generator gets revenue and the recipient gets a resource they need, typically at a lower cost or even for free. A handful of the many opportunities for direct recycling, reuse, and repurposing are listed below.
  • The mission of Califorma Materials Exchange (CalMAX) is to build reuse markets for materials from businesses, organizations, industry, schools, and individuals, and to find markets for nonhazardous materials that may otherwise be discarded. And, CalMAX is free.
  • Pensylvania Material Trader is a free online service established in 2004 by the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers' Environmental Management Assistance Program. This service is intended to help businesses find users for materials they have traditionally discarded.
  • NY WasteMatch is a free service, created and funded by the NYC Department of Sanitation, which facilitates the exchange of used and surplus goods and equipment from organizations that no longer need them to other entities that do.
  • Acting as an information clearinghouse, directory, and marketing facilitator for reusable industrial materials, the Illinois Industrial Material Exchange Service (IMES) deals with waste by-products, off-spec items, hazardous and nonhazardous materials, overstock, and damaged or unwanted materials.
  • The Industrial Materials Exchange (IMEX) matches up business industrial waste generators with waste users in the Pacific Northwest.
  • RecycleMatch is an online market for transforming commercial waste into value. RecycleMatch charges a percentage fee for each match that it makes based on the cost savings and revenue produced from each material match.
  • Biomass Trader is a free network of regional marketplaces (currently Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania) for buyers and sellers, as well as givers and takers, of biomass and biomass-derived products.
  • The British Columbia Electronics Materials Exchange (BC-EMEX) is a program from the Electronics Product Stewardship Association of B.C., Canada, that promotes the exchange (or sale) of electronic items priced from $0 to $99.
  • For more directly useable and commercial materials (for example, unused construction materials), Freecycle might be worth checking out. The Freecycle Network™ is a non-profit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free, made up of 4,873 groups with 6,877,000 members across the globe. Membership is free.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Green Remediation BMPs

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Principles for Greener Cleanups outline the Agency’s policy for evaluating and minimizing the environmental "footprint" of activities undertaken when cleaning up a contaminated site. Use of the best management practices (BMPs) recommended in EPA's series of green remediation fact sheets can help project managers and other stakeholders apply the principles on a routine basis, while maintaining the cleanup objectives, ensuring protectiveness of a remedy, and improving its environmental outcome.

The first of the BMP fact sheets were recently released:

  • Site Investigation
  • Pump and Treat Technologies

Links to the BMP fact sheets are available under "EPA Documents and Guidance" on the SURF Links page.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Grace Period for Port of Oakland Truckers

Air board, Port truckers agree on upgrade
Kelly Zito, San Francisco Chronicle, January 5, 2010

A last-minute deal between California Air Resources Board (ARB) and Port of Oakland truckers will allow hundreds of big rigs to operate at the port for two weeks while they work to meet stricter requirements on diesel emissions that officially took effect on January 1st.

Regulations passed in 2007 prohibit large diesel trucks made before 1994 from operating at the state's ports and rail yards and require pricey filters on trucks made between 1994 and 2003.

The ARB said it has located an additional $11 million to aid the truckers. However, last week's showdown between policymakers and the trucking industry will probably play out again in different parts of the state over the next year, when similar rules affecting the rest of the trucking fleet in California - about 1 million trucks - start going into effect.

Read the complete article here: