personal environmental consciousness

New Wine in Recycled Bottles

JOE FERGUSON Sun Staff Reporter

Environmentally friendly “green” wines have been touted by various wineries for several years, promoting their eco-friendly and long-term sustainable practices.
But most are shipped in a glass bottle that likely comes from a California-based winery. Even if the bottle is recycled, the carbon footprint to get a glass of Napa Valley’s finest onto the dinner table is fairly large.
But what if that wine bottle could be reused indefinitely?
The answer to that question is the basis for a new business here in Flagstaff that is set to recycle and reuse wine bottles: Sustainable Packaging Solutions.
Founder Dave Williamson will introduce two varieties of his Kind Vines brand wine into Bashas’ here in Flagstaff sometime next month, a Chardonnay currently priced at $7.99 and a Cabernet Sauvignon for $9.99.
The premise will have wine aficionados buying a bottle and putting down a fully refundable $2 deposit.
Once the bottle is returned, the owner will get the deposit back and Bashas’ will return the bottle to Williamson to be cleaned and refilled here in Flagstaff.
Holding a bottle in his hands last week, Williamson said wine bottles have been unfairly maligned when someone discusses reusing the bottle.
“There is absolutely no reason why this bottle can’t be reused,” he said.
He approached dozens of vineyards — including several in Arizona — about his idea. Most laughed him out of their offices.
“They feel like it would cheapen their product,” he said.
But eventually Williamson found some wineries who believed in his sustainable vision. One selling point, he said, was buying the wine in bulk rather than shipping them in individual bottles.
“It is a 65 percent reduction in fuel costs and 65 percent reduction in fossil fuels,” he said.
It will cost $2.26 to make the recyclable wine bottles, from the bake-on permanent label to using a glass cork called a Vino-Lok. Typical packaging costs with traditional bottles with plastic labels and actual corks are about $1.10 per unit.
The company will make up those costs as the users recycle the bottles.
“When we get the bottle back, our packaging costs are almost down to zero,” Williamson said.
Williamson has also incorporated a two-dimensional barcode or a “QR code” onto each of his bottles.
The barcode, easily translated by most modern cell phones, can take a user to a website with more information on the wine itself.
The black and white box on the back of bottles is designed to address a problem with recycling the bottles over and over again.
Small wineries like Kind Vines don’t have their own vineyard, instead buying their wine from a third party, almost always a vineyard with excess capacity. The fired-on label on the bottle may never change, but over time, the vineyard might.
A quick click on the QR code will tell cork techies exactly where the wine came from.
“We leave it vague (on the bottle) so this can change and then we are not bound to any specific vineyard or winery,” Williamson said. “We can take advantage of the current market and go to hundreds of wineries to get the best deal out there.”
Currently, the Chardonnay is a 2009 vintage from Lodi, Calif., and the Cabernet Sauvignon is a 2007 from Red Hills, Calif.
Kind Vines will be on the shelves in Flagstaff and Sedona Bashas’ sometime in November.


Top 5 destinations for Ecotourism

By Sarah Schlichter

Are you an eco-adventurer? If your idea of a perfect trip is getting up close and personal with the natural world, you’ll want to check out one of these dream destinations for ecotourists. From lush jungles and colorful coral reefs to sprawling savannas and fabulous fjords, the five regions we’ve selected encompass some of the earth’s most distinctive ecosystems.
To make our list, it wasn’t enough for a place to be blessed with extraordinary natural resources; it was equally important that those resources are being cared for. We chose these five destinations not only for their unique biodiversity but also for a local commitment to maintaining the beauty and integrity of these places through sustainable tourism. And remember — visitors must do their part as well, as the parts of the earth with the greatest ecological diversity are often the most threatened. If you choose to visit, it’s more important than ever to follow our tips for green travel to ensure that these places remain beautiful and unspoiled for many years to come.
Long before it was featured on the 10th season of “Survivor,” the island nation of Palau was recognized as one of the world’s foremost diving destinations. In the crystal-clear sea just off the coast is a colorful underwater wonderland, featuring more than 500 species of coral teeming with some 1,400 kinds of fish. On land, travelers can wander along unspoiled beaches or go trekking through dense jungles. Palau’s remote location in the westernmost corner of Micronesia has helped to shield both its natural resources and its cultural traditions from the detrimental effects of mass tourism, and the locals are working to make sure their island paradise stays pristine well into the future. The Palau Conservation Society manages nearly two dozen conservation areas and encourages sustainable development to protect the islands’ fragile ecosystems.
Costa Rica
Costa Rica is practically synonymous with the term “ecotourism,” and for good reason. Misty cloud forests, black sand beaches and rushing river rapids offer outdoor activities for both casual nature enthusiasts and hardcore adventure travelers. A dazzling array of creatures live in Costa Rica’s national parks and wildlife refuges, including monkeys, sloths, crocodiles, manatees, herons, sea turtles and poison dart frogs. Environmentally conscious travelers have their choice of eco-friendly accommodations; the Costa Rican Tourism Institute and Key to Costa Rica maintain lists of green hotels, resorts and lodges.
Norwegian Fjords
Their remote location and strict environmental regulations have helped preserve the pristine beauty of Norway’s famous fjords, with their snowcapped mountains, tumbling waterfalls and crystal-clear waters. Visitors can go hiking or biking over the rugged terrain, or take a scenic boat ride through the towering fjords. A wide variety of wildlife lives here, including eagles, seals, porpoises and seabirds. Along with the region’s natural attractions, the fjords are also home to many small fishing villages where local cultural traditions have survived for hundreds of years.
As an international leader in environmental policy, Norway has taken care to protect its unique coastline by regulating the fishing, whaling, sealing and petroleum industries. For more information, visit the Norwegian Embassy Web site.
Kerala, India
The small state of Kerala, on India’s southwestern coast, is often referred to as “God’s Own Country” — a label that doesn’t seem at all hyperbolic once you’ve visited its clean sandy beaches and lush virgin forests. This is one of India’s most unspoiled corners, home to hundreds of unique animal species and nearly a quarter of the country’s 10,000 plant species. The nilgiri tahr, an endangered mountain goat, takes shelter in Rajamala National Park, while elephants, bison and wild boar roam freely within the Lake Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. In the past Kerala’s ecosystems were threatened by excessive forest clearing, but these days many of the state’s forests are now protected, and tourist officials are encouraging environmentally responsible travel to the area. One promising sign is the development of Thenmala Ecotourism, the first “planned ecotourism destination” in India. Nature trails, educational facilities and adventure activities are offered with the overarching goals of ecological sustainability and economic benefits to the local population.
Kenya is best known for its wide savannas teeming with lions and elephants, but most travelers don’t know that it’s also home to mountains, lakes, rain forests, deserts and beaches, each with its own unique ecosystem and wildlife. Kenya’s incredible natural diversity is protected in some 50 national parks and reserves across the country, from the virgin rain forests of the Kakamega Forest Reserve to the wildebeests who migrate to the Maasai Mara National Reserve every July and August. On the coast, travelers can walk down pristine white beaches or go diving along colorful coral reefs. All tourism occurs under the watchful eye of Ecotourism Kenya, which works to protect the local environment through community outreach and education projects. The organization also rates lodges throughout Kenya based on their environmental policies.
The Independent Traveler is an interactive traveler’s exchange and comprehensive online travel guide for a community of travelers who enjoy the fun of planning their own trips and the adventure of independent travel.

Mercedes-Benz Will Do the ‘Unthinkable’ to Go Green

by AutoblogGreen Staff (RSS feed)

At the Mercedes press conference during last week’s Paris Auto Show, the company rolled out its CLS – the car everyone was really there to see – for dessert. We couldn’t have our pudding without eating our meat, though, so there were five courses served before it: the Smart Ad Lib, Smart scooter, Smart bicycle, Mercedes A-Class E-Cell, and a 2.2-liter four-cylinder diesel S-Class, throughout which time Mercedes CEO Dieter Zetsche and Smart head Annette Winkler took a good thirty minutes to stress the consumer and environmental friendliness of the brand’s offerings. This will not be an isolated incident, either. Zetsche said “We want to be efficiency world champions … and we will be,” and to do so will require initiatives that were “previously unthinkable,” such as the hybrid S-Class and the coming four-cylinder. While there’s no timeline placed on his pronouncement, it is clear that if M-B is going to stay with BMW and Audi in the emissions and efficiency stakes it will need to take a sledgehammer to conventional ideas of the brand. Audi has laid out its electronic initiatives and BMW has its Efficient Dynamics, but so far Mercedes has only laid out a range of different projects under no particular umbrella, such as an all-hybrid S-Class line, more efficient ICE engines, and a new range of small cars for America. We wait to see if there is one particular way M-B will ultimately go to fulfill its aim… and if that way will include euthanizing Maybach…

Michigan Schools Go Green On Walk To School Day

By Staff reports
The Holland Sentinel

What one thing could you do every day to make your children safer, healthier and be good to the planet? Have kids walk or ride their bikes to school. Today is International Walk to School Day. Here’s a look at the numbers behind who’s walking and why it’s one of the healthiest things your family can begin doing.

Just 10 percent of children walk to school regularly.

Children who live within 1 mile of school and walk.

Number of registered walk-to-school events scheduled around the U.S. on Walk to School Day 2009.

Number of children expected to participate in Walk to School Day at Lakewood Elementary School. West Ottawa Public Schools health instructor Jill Scholten said the events are meant to promote child health and exercise, encourage environmentally-friendly means of transportation and promote safe routes to school.

2 times
Rate at which the childhood obesity rate has increased in the past 20 years.
“It’s a combination of all the terrible food that’s out there and the video games,” Scholten said. Children used to playing video games become sedentary and become less likely to engage in healthy play out of doors.
Number of schools with organized Safe Routes to School programs, which work to enable and encourage more children to walk and bicycle to school on a regular basis. Douglas Elementary School is in the process of developing a Safe Route to School program.

Amount that a parents’ group in Saugatuck is seeking to build safe routes to schools. The group is applying for two grants — $300,000 in Saugatuck and $250,000 in Douglas — from the Michigan Department of Transportation to fix sidewalks and put pedestrian-activated crosswalk signals across major roads.
“We have certain families that live close enough to the school that they could do this,” said parent Rob Joon. “One of the results we got back from parents (in a survey) was that if it was safer to walk to school, they would do it.”

Number of Michigan elementary and middle schools in eight counties that will receive more than $1.8 million in federal Safe Routes to School funding. The federal program is an international movement designed to make it safe, convenient and fun for children to walk and bike to school.

Six Ways to Green Your Tailgate This Season

by Amanda Wills

Tailgating has been called “the last great American neighborhood…where no one locks their doors, everyone is happy to see you and are all together sharing fun, food and football!”

As November kicks off, football season is in full swing as NFL stadiums average nearly 100,000 fans at each game. While that’s a lot of hot dog buns and foam fingers, it also adds up to a lot of waste. And although more stadiums offer recycling, most of us don’t bring our party waste into the game for disposal.

So, let’s pull down the truck tailgate, fire up the grill, play our fight song and keep an eco-conscious head on our shoulders. Here are six ways to green your tailgate without skipping out on the fun:

1. Don’t Dwell on Disposable

The truth is, you’re probably not going to bring a complete china set to your tailgate. While disposable seems inevitable, you can make smarter purchases.

Preserve tableware is made from a thicker resin of plastic that allows multiple uses. Also, Preserve’s products are made from 100 percent recycled polypropylene (plastic #5 or PP).

Plastic #5 is a plastic that is not as widely accepted in curbside recycling programs as other resins like PET (plastic #1), so it’s a great use of a hard-to-recycle plastic.

Solo Cup Company has a line of products made of post-consumer recycled PET. Bare by Solo cups are made from about 20 percent recycled PET, providing a market for the billions of pounds of plastic bottles that Americans recycle annually.

2. Get Crafty With Tablecloths and T-shirts

How many T-shirts do you own with your team’s logo splashed across the front? Now think about how many of these you actually wear. Chances are there are a few stuffed in the back of the drawer, victims of your dryer’s infamous shrinking abilities. But don’t throw away these little gems. After all, you probably have great memories wearing them.

Create a funky tablecloth for your next tailgate using your old T-shirts and clothing with your team’s colors. You will need a sewing machine (or a love for hand-sewing) for this one. Up the ante even more by adding in other sports teams for different seasons (we’re talking to you Jets/Mets fans!).

Don’t have a sewing machine? Cut up your clothes to make cool, reusable napkins for your tailgate. All you’ll need is a pair of scissors.

3. The Great Debate Solved: Charcoal vs. Propane Grills

Before diving into this one, we want to point out that we are not trying to step on any grillmaster’s toes. The debate between charcoal and propane is a tough one: Which one produces more flavor? Which is cheaper, faster? And most importantly, which is more eco-friendly?

We consulted a recent study by Environment Impact Assessment Review to answer this one. Drum roll, please…

According to the study, “the overwhelming factors are that as a fuel, LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) is dramatically more efficient than charcoal in its production and considerably more efficient in cooking.” The two grilling methods were defined by their overall footprint, with charcoal using 998 kg of CO2, almost three times more than propane, which weighed in at 349 kg.

ScienceDaily reports that as fuel, LPG is “dramatically more efficient than charcoal in its production.” When purchasing a propane tank, make sure there is a trade-in option. Most retailers will let you bring in an empty tank in exchange for a decent discount on your next tank.

4. Go Loco for Local, Obsess Over Organic

You can’t have a proper tailgate without the perfect game day snacks. This is a great opportunity to use your favorite organic recipes and seasonal fruits and veggies.

Fresh out of quick and easy organic ideas? We really like Whole Foods’ recipes, which currently features some fall favorites. You can also check out Local Harvest for the latest information on seasonal foods in your area.

But organic goes beyond your plate. Fill your cup with some fancy schmancy organic beer at your next tailgate. Brewed with organically harvested barley and hops, organic beer is said to be tastier and better for the bod. For the extra ambitious, try brewing your own beer.

We sometimes associate going local or organic with higher costs. Don’t stress the added expense. Share cool recipes with your tailgating friends and have a potluck party. Not only will you spread the healthy, eco-friendly vibe, but you will also save some serious dough…and time!

5. Use the Sun to Blast Your Tunes

What’s a tailgate without music or memorable game replays? Don’t waste your car battery by using its radio. We’ve found a cool solar-powered portable outlet. This is perfect for that iPod sound system or throwback boombox.

For hardcore fans that tailgate in the snow (hey Green Bay lovers!), sometimes a sweatshirt and blanket just isn’t enough for those all-day outdoor tailgates. While most heaters consume a lot of energy, solar-powered generators supply renewable energy and have a much lower footprint.

But be prepared to shell out up to $1,000 for one of these little guys. If that’s just not feasible for your budget, you can create your own solar-powered generator using parts you can buy at the local hardware store or online.

6. Don’t Bail on Recycling

It’s a no-brainer. One of the easiest ways to go green is to recycle your waste. So don’t leave your recycling smarts at home and be sure to put a clearly marked bin out at your tailgate. The U.S. EPA estimates that 75 percent of our waste is recyclable, so there’s a good chance someone will have a plastic bottle or cardboard box to toss in the bin. For even more eco-cred, bring along a separate bin for composting. Check out our easy-to-use cheat sheet to get the process started.

Celebrate Earth Lunch Hour – The Most Eco-Friendly Lunchtime Event in the World

By Jace Shoemaker-Galloway

What are you doing for lunch Wednesday? Earth Lunch Hour, touted as the most eco-friendly lunchtime event in the world, will be held on October 6, 2010. The event will help raise awareness about what we eat, how it is prepared and the cleanup process. While many people around the world are now more eco-conscious, many do not consider how our food impacts our environment.

Did You Know:

* Eating locally produced ingredients that are free of pesticides, are organically grown and are raised or caught with minimal impact on the environment, can make a big impact.
* Preparing meals by minimizing waste and water will also benefit the earth. According to the Ministry of the Environment’s “White Paper on the Environment, Recycling Society and Biodiversity 2009 Edition,” approximately 18 million tons of food is discarded in Japan each year.
* Water conservation is critical due to water shortages and pollution in many areas of the world.
* And the cleanup process can also impact our environment. While many people recycle, reducing waste, using biodegradable detergents and fewer dishes are just a few simple steps we can take to help.

The one-day event, sponsored by Panasonic, will be broadcast live online on UStream, Twitter and other social media outlets. The 24-hour relay will begin on Wednesday in Japan at 11:00 A.M. and will spread to the rest of the world, ending in Japan at 11:00 A.M on October 7th.

How to Participate in Panasonic Earth Lunch Hour:

* Eco ideas KITCHEN Eco Cook Fest 24 – Participants will take part in a 24-hour cooking and eating fest that features chefs from around the world whipping up delicious dishes using eco-friendly recipes on UStream. If you have a green recipe you’d like to share or creative ways to use leftovers, EcoIdeasNet would love to hear them. Be sure to follow the Fest on Twitter too.
* Share Your Experience – Share your Earth Lunch Hour experience by sending photographs, messages or launch your own Ustream channel.
* Encourage Others to Join In – Support the Earth Lunch Hour effort by encouraging friends and loved ones to join in. Free banners, graphics, widgets and Twitter background images are available for free.

In an effort to attain a sustainable society, Panasonic will hold an “eco-ideas Forum 2010” in its Panasonic Center Tokyo from October 6th through October 9th, 2010. Let’s all participate in Earth Lunch Hour this Wednesday and help make the world a better place to live!

50 Cent’s Million Dollar Investment

By Associated Press

50 Cent has a new album that just got pushed back until September of this year. But it’s not like he is hurting for money. Curtis Jackson, 50 Cent, is more than just your average rapper who gets shot. Jackson also is an intelligent businessman with some steamy investments.

About 3 years ago Jackson invested and took part ownership of a company that puts out the drink Vitaminwater. Glaceau is a company who distributes other products, but is known for its hit with Vitaminwater. Jackson placed investment funds into the Glaceau parent company and in turn they produced the grape flavored water titled ‘Formula 50’ in his name. The drink which was co-created by Jackson has sold 10 million bottles and counting since its October debut. Formula 50 retails for $1.99 as well as the other flavored water drinks from Vitaminwater. 50 Cent is said to own about 10% of Vitaminwater and Glaceau.

Coca-Cola recently bought Glaceau for a cool $4.1 billion. So doing the math, India’s Tata Group owns 30% of Glaceau and will make $1.2 billion of the $4.1 billion from Coke. But what about 50 Cent, Jackson is looking at making about $400 million from his early 10% investment. That isn’t bad for a current millionaire. 50 million was how much the rapper, born Curtis Jackson, reportedly made after taxes this last year. The earnings stemmed from music related ventures and other investments. Not bad for a convicted felon.

Now 50 Cent can push back his music career and focus on counting his $400 million. 50’s album was scheduled to drop, but is now pushed back to the week after Labor Day on the 4th of September. 50 Cent’s album is titled “Curtis” and is under the Aftermath/Shady/Interscope family. One single has already reached radio play. Currently there is no news as if another single will be leaked to stretch promotion throughout the summer.