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Green Living Columbia River PDX

A Practical Journal for Friends of the Environment

Eat Drink & The Minimalist BeKitchen Merry

Inside

A Box Life Soil to Oil Biomimicry On the Nightstand

Greening Your Finale

The Disposable Diaper Dilemma and more!

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A Practial Journal for Friends of the Environment c GreenLivingJournal.com d Winter 2009


Contents Publisher’s Page - Biomimicry.................................... 4 National Editors Page - Eat, Drink & Be Merry.........6 Local Notes........................................................................... 8 Building Shop Salvage, Shop Green . ..................................... 13 Earthen Hand . .............................................................. 14 Health - Handwashing by the Numbers................. 16 Lifestyle Cloth Diapers are the Right Choice ...................... 16 Greening Your Finale.................................................... 18 Transportation - B-Line ................................................ 20 Business A Box Life . ...................................................................... 20 FSC Paper ........................................................................ 21 Dissovable Packaging.................................................. 22 Gardening - From Soil to Oil ..................................... 23 Home - The Minimalist Kitchen ................................ 26 Book Reviews On the Night Stand....................................................... 27 Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature......... 29 Education - Ask a Master Recycler............................. 29 Events .................................................................................. 30 Classifieds........................................................................... 30

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Green Living Journal P. O. Box 677, Cascade Locks, OR 97014 Publisher: Columbia River Press LLC PDX Editor: Gary Munkhoff 541.374.5454 gary@greenlivingjournal.com Advertising: Susan Place 541.374.5454 crads@greenlivingjournal.com Design/Graphics/Ad Production: Katie Cordrey, Sticks and Stones Company info@sticksandstones.us 509.493.1250 National Editor: Stephen Morris ed@greenlivingjournal.com Webmaster: Michael Potts Michael@thepublicpress.com Photos: ‘Bread’ by Lee Krohn ‘Baghouse ’ Courtesy of Earthen Hand 503.287.2442 www.earthenhand.com Printed: with soy-based inks on Blue Heron recycled paper by Signature Graphics.

The Columbia River edition of the Green Living Journal is published quarterly and 16,000 copies are distributed free of charge throughout the Portland-Vancouver metro area. We encourage our readers to patronize our advertisers, but we are not responsible for any advertising claims. Subscriptions $9.95 per year. Copyright © 2009 Columbia River Press LLC The Green Living Journal Family is Proud to be a Member of . . .

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Publisher’s Page Biomimicry

by Gary Munkhoff Sometimes the right idea just has to wait in line, unnoticed, until events and circumstances align themselves just so. You know, the “when the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars” sort of thing. We just may be at that point of cosmic alignment for the emerging field of biomimicry to step into the spotlight and forever change how we make use of our natural resources. According to Wikipedia, biomimicry (from bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate) is an ancient concept recently returning to scientific thought that examines nature, its models, systems, processes, and elements— and emulates or takes inspiration from them to solve human problems sustainably. This renewed interest is well covered in Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature by Janine M. Benyus (see the review in this issue), where the author gives us a look at dedicated researchers in high tech labs analyzing leaves, spider silk, prairie grass, seashells, and brain cells. Their goal is to learn how nature solves complex problems and then copy nature’s processes to produce medicines, “smart” computers, super-strong materials and nutritious food while remaining in tune with our environment rather than destroying it. Imagine if we were able to mimic a leaf that produces fuel using the energy from sunlight without using toxic compounds or high temperatures and pressures. Biomimicry could become the cornerstone of a sustainable future that doesn’t require a return to the Stone Age. Biomimicry may be the wave of the future, but just how are you and I supposed to catch it to make our lives more sustainable? The answer lies with the recipe that Benyus provides. She boils down into four simple steps, the biomimic credo that is guiding all of those complicated projects: 1) recon-

A Practial Journal for Friends of the Environment c GreenLivingJournal.com d Winter 2009


nect with nature; 2) analyze how nature solves a particular problem; 3) echo or mimic nature in our approach to solving that problem and 4) be guided by a sense of stewardship for nature. To catch the wave, all you and I have to do is use the same four steps to guide our actions as we go about our daily lives. But there is a catch and as budding biomimics we will be forced to agree with Kermit:” it ain’t easy being green”. We have become so far removed from nature and the solutions that we have come up with to satisfy our needs to exist, grow and prosper are so far out of step with nature that to reconnect will require personal effort. Go ahead open your door, step outside and look around. How many of us have ever spent an hour just watching one tree? Try it. Think of it as getting in shape. You might be amazed at what takes place on its trunk, or within its branches, or on its leaves. The point being to become aware of and to gain an appreciation for how much nature accomplishes without wreaking environmental havoc and then committing ourselves to following suit. OK. We’re getting in shape. Now what? Well, let’s start by looking at two items that have a tremendous impact on our environment: cars and homes. Are you a commuter? Nothing wrong with commuting from nature’s perspective as many other species find it necessary to travel from “home” to “work” on a daily basis. Along our rivers, the osprey is a perfect example of how nature deals with the problem of the daily commute. No 3000 pound, exhaust spewing contraption needed. Just wings powered by muscles, fueled with fish to enable the osprey to reach nearby waters. To emulate this no impact commute, the die-hard biomimic would live close enough to work to

get there by walking or riding a bike. Chaos would ensue if all of us suddenly upped and moved to within walking distance of our jobs. A gradual approach is in order, with car pooling or taking mass transit as openers until work and home can be brought closer together over time. Another option would be an electric car that is charged at home using solar electric panels or a wind generator. How much energy does it take to heat and cool your home? A true biomimic’s home would be of minimal size and require no more energy to be comfortable than what is available from the sun, wind or ground. If fact, if properly sited, designed and insulated our homes would be energy producers not energy consumers. The tools and the technology to do this already exist and are available at a reasonable cost. So what is keeping us from becoming biomimics and dramatically reducing our impact on the world?

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Cool on the outside…

...Green on the inside.

National Editor’s Page How do you Eat, Drink, and Be Merry? Compiled by Stephen Morris

What is your favorite way to Eat, Drink, and Be Merry? It’s a simple question, but not quite a simple answer. We asked people from the world of Green Living what is their favorite way to eat, drink, and be merry during the holiday season. Here are their responses: This year was particularly fruitful (no pun intended) in our garden. Fresh watermelon margarita, tomato and cucumber salad, corn on the cob and roasted eggplant, peppers and carrots made many a perfect meal. Eating and drinking is all I need to be merry! Susan Schechter, Editor Provender Journal Provender Alliance www.provender.org Provender Journal is published by Provender Alliance a non-profit educational and outreach organization for the Northwest Natural Products community.

Our office is committed to reducing our environmental impact on our world. • Recycling/reducing waste items • Digital x-rays/intraoral pictures • Reducing water usage • Amalgam capture system reduces exposure to people and groundwater • Participating in Clark County PUD ‘Green Lights’ program to offset our energy usage. • Non-toxic/Biodegradable cleaners. • Check our website for more ways we are green...

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“What do you do with kale? Or kohlrabi? Or celeriac? A new staff-CSA at Shelburne Farms this year prompted questions as members picked up shares including less familiar vegetables from the Market Garden. The solution: a recipe or two inserted in the share box every week. The result: a whole new selection of delicious meals on our family dinner tables. Rosalyn Graham, Shelburne Farms I like to enjoy the seasons with beers and edibles that are also seasonally aligned. The rotation of the seasons brings with it a revolving roster of quarterly quaffs more closely attuned to the thirsts of each. In the summer I enjoy lighter fare with a crisp, refreshing ale or lager. In the winter I am looking forward to enjoying darker beers that shout with the rich, full flavor for which the season calls. Alan Newman, Conductor of Cosmic Symphonies, Magic Hat Brewing Company, Burlington, VT I love taking my wonderful Allie Dog to our favorite hillside and chasing her, and have her chase me. Then we sit, have some water and break out the dog biscuits for both of us! Yummy! Chip Sammons, Owner & Janitor, Holistic Pet Center, Clackamas, OR

A Practial Journal for Friends of the Environment c GreenLivingJournal.com d Winter 2009


In December, Instead of having our regular monthly meeting, our local Green Party holds a holiday party. It usually involves potluck food and drink. Emphasis is put on doing it the green way: that means home prepared, local foods, organic wine and cider, and please, no styrofoam containers. Steve Baker, President, Greenline Paper, York, PA Our favorite way to eat drink and be merry is to spend a day on a slow hike into Lake Wapiki or Soda Peaks Lake in late spring or late fall, when there are no other people, no bugs, carrying a camera, some beef jerky, a bag of M & M s and a bottle of water. Gary Munkhoff, Editor & Publisher, Columbia River edition, Green Living Journal I love to give gifts that make people laugh, and often these come from the thrift store, a yard sale, or simply my junk drawer. My kids accuse me of being cheap (well, I am ... to me there’s not much difference between “cheap” and “green”), but they’re still talking about the red felt Shriner’s fez (everyone needs one of those!), the mounted, bronzed bass (who can live without one?), and the black and white criminal suit (no comment). They will be talking about these long after the memory of electronic doo-dahs has faded. Stephen Morris, Editor & Publisher, Green Living Journal, Randolph, VT In Vermont we really CAN be green! We can eat, drink and be extremely merry in a low-carbon-footprint kinda way! We are so lucky to live in an area that is blessed with land to grow things on and fantastically inventive farmers who farm the land. This week I spent time at the Jericho Settler’s Farm with Mark Fasching who with his wife Krista Alexander farm land in Jericho and Richmond. These people are truly walking the green talk! They are growing pigs, beef, chickens, lambs, and a huge variety of vegetables in the most sustainable, green, synergistic, brilliant way imaginable! At Healthy Living we are proudly and happily selling products from Jericho Settlers so that more and more of us can eat, drink and be merry in the greenest sense of the word. Katy Lesser, owner, Healthy Living Natural Foods Market, South Burlington VT

cious vegan alternatives; we have come a long way from the “rubber tasting vegan turkey!” We order our vegan turkey at The Nature’s Grocer on Union street in Peterborough NH. Josee Dupont, Le FP Green Body Care, Peterborough, NH

We celebrate Thanksgiving in a greener, kinder, healthier way by not buying a turkey and by sticking with organic, locally grown seasonal veggies, like root vegetables (carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams). Having a complete vegan meal is great especially because of the environmental impact of eating meat, but also because of the ethic of how turkeys are raised (overcrowded factory farms). There are several deli-

We had a wonderful staff and family potluck dinner at the Vineyard several weeks ago. Each of us brought a homemade dish from our gardens or farmers’ market with our own napkins and dinnerware (to avoid paper waste). We topped it all with bottles of our own Shelburne Vineyard wines. It was a time for great camaraderie as we celebrated our work together and enjoyed the delectable fruits of our labor. Gail Albert. Shelburne Vineyard, Shelburne VT

Each year, around the November Full Moon, my partner, Valerie, and I host a “Giving Thanks” Gathering at their home. This is their time to appreciate family, friends and life in the Emerson Brook Forest. The day is filled with homemade music, plenty of wholesome potluck foods, a fire circle and a wood-fired hot tub to nurture the spirit. Pablo Fleishman, Green Energy Options, Keene, NH

Columbia River PDX c Green Living Journal d No. 7 Winter 2009

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Local Notes Just Between Friends: The “Green” Every Parent Can Accomplish

Just Between Friends (JBF) is passionate about offering the Portland & Vancouver community of parents an opportunity to save not only natural resources, but also their own financial resources. If you are looking for an opportunity to recycle your children’s outgrown clothing, toys, and furniture while teaching your children about recycling, then Just Between Friends is the answer. JBF, the area’s largest children’s and maternity consignment sales event, is doing its part to grow greener families by helping parents recycle their children’s items while providing a positive example to children on how to be responsible global citizens. JBF, currently serving more than 5,000 local families, also provides an excellent opportunity for parents to easily purchase the next-size-up in gently-used items from other area families at 50-90% off retail. From breast pumps to bottle warmers and Gymboree to Little Tikes, families can find everything to do with children at a JBF sales event. "I appreciate the great savings that shopping JBF provides,” wrote one consignor/shopper. “I value knowing that everyone who participates is doing their part to save the environment...recycling gently-used baby and kid wear and decreasing the environmental impact of creating new items.” Local parents have embraced the consignment concept and are reaping the benefits of JBF because it offers convenient, well-organized events where families can sell outgrown items and buy gently-used items they need for their growing families. Consignors (sellers) make money from the items their kids no longer need and earn a pass to shop before the public. Further, JBF works with Portland Police Bureau’s Sunshine Division to donate unsold items that are very much needed by area families in crisis. Just Between Friends is committed to serving families and believes that recycling outgrown items is a wonderful way to introduce children to living green. JBF is proud to embrace many shades of living green through its semi-annual sales events. If you would like to find out more about how 8

to make and save money at the next Just Between Friends sales event in Portland scheduled for April 30-May 2 at the Portland Expo Center, please visit www.portland.jbfsale.com. Written by Brooke Unwin, owner of JBF Portland, speech pathologist, mother of two, and resident of Northeast Portland. For more information, please contact BrookeUnwin@ jbfsale.com or call 503-944-9837.

Rebuilding The Future: The Recycled Remodel Omey House reflects growing local and national trend toward ultra-green, cost-effective “re-building” In renovating our 1925 North Portland home, we decided to forego the demolition dumpster and go ultra-green, utilizing 90% recycled and reclaimed materials, many of them “harvested” on site. The result is a modern home that is both cutting-edge and commonsense. It’s a new house with a lot of history: The kitchen countertops were once bowling alley lanes, re-used mortgage signs sheath the walls, and the cabinetry in the bedroom closets were sawn from a cedar tree from the front yard. Recycled building materials were used in every inch of the home, from the framing to the fixtures, and came from a variety of sources— including the original structure, local re-building centers, reclaimed and re-sawn timber from a local door company warehouse loft, and “seconds” or post-

A Practial Journal for Friends of the Environment c GreenLivingJournal.com d Winter 2009


Power to the people: More than 300 neighbors join to ‘go solar’ together The very first Solarize Portland project is underway— a grassroots effort that makes it easier to go solar for less through the power of community. What began as the idea of one homeowner, in Southeast Portland, grew to include 335 neighbors. The number is well over the original project goal of 50 participants. Led by Southeast Uplift Neighborhood Coalition and Energy Trust of Oregon, the group went through the process together — from learning how solar works, to installing systems on their roofs. Because of their bulk buying power, they saved 25 percent off their purchase price bringing the price per watt down to $6.80. In addition current state and federal tax credits and Energy Trust cash incentives cut costs for going solar by 80 percent. GreenStreet Lending, a low-cost loan program from

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production rejects from tile and siding manufacturers. The materials and process personalize the house. There is a story behind everything we found and incorporated into our home. The program elements that most affected the design of our house are natural light, durability, energy and space efficiency, and community. The choice to utilize recycled materials does not pre-determine a “funky” aesthetic. Recycled, reclaimed, and re-used materials were a way for us to meet our goals within our budget, while at the same time limiting our impact on the environment. The cost of recycled and reclaimed building materials are 50-80% less than those off the shelf. Re-use can add extra labor in the form of sourcing, delivering and preparation of materials, however these costs can be offset by “sweat-equity” on the part of the owner-builder and volunteer community labor. A huge thank you to the many friends and neighbors that helped us complete our home for it was only through their generous efforts that we were able to get our home to a livable pont and stay within our budget. Many of the materials were from The Re-Building Center. We are fortunate that Portland has one of the best networks of rebuilding resources in the world, but building with recycled material can happen anywhere. Resources like the Habitat for Humanity Re-Stores, Craigslist, and seconds from different types of manufacturers are available almost anywhere. We hope that our recycled remodel can provide a source of inspiration for others looking to do the same. More information and a reference list of contractors and material sources are available upon request. Contact: Corey Omey Corey.Omey@ERMunch.com 503 224-1282 Short video http://vimeo.com/6442371 Website: http://www.ermunch.com/projects/omey_house.html

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Umpqua Bank and Energy Trust, offered solar financing options for participants. “The response to Solarize Portland has been truly phenomenal,” said Lizzie Rubado, residential solar project manager, Energy Trust. “It’s easy and accessible, and empowers people to make solar a reality for their own home.” Energy Trust worked with Southeast Uplift to help bring the project from concept to reality. “It’s been great to see the community coming together this way, with neighbors meeting one another over an amazing project like this,” said Tim O’Neal, sustainability coordinator, Southeast Uplift. Throughout the summer, volunteers spread the word and encouraged their community to get involved. WorkPhoto courtesy of Energy Trust of Oregon shops held at local community centers, churches and pubs helped homeowners find out about going solar and how they could get involved in the project. As neighbors signed up, a competitive bid process helped locate the solar contractor to handle all the installations. Imagine Energy, a Portland-based energy consulting and contracting company and an Energy Trust trade ally, was selected and began installations in September. The project is expected to wrap up by early 2010. Energy Trust of Oregon is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Oregonians benefit from saving energy and tapping renewable resources. Our services, cash incentives and solutions have helped customers of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural and Cascade Natural Gas save more than $440 million in energy costs. Learn more at www.energytrust.org or call 1-866-368-7878. For more information about Solarize Portland and to sign up for the next project, visit www.solarizeportland.org.

Columbia River PDX c Green Living Journal d No. 7 Winter 2009

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‘Local Goods’ Brings Portland Locally Made, Sustainable Products at a Fair Price. Local Goods, a general store, opened for business on September 11th. Portland entrepreneur, Polly Rask, aims to boost the local economy by selling practical, affordable, locally made products at her new East Burnside store. Rask’s focus is on sustainability by selling reused, recycled, and biodegradable products. Most of Local Goods’ products are manufactured in the Pacific Northwest and all are made in the U.S. Rask says, “We sell locally made products that are in step with Portlanders who value eco-friendly, sustainably produced, reused, recycled, and biodegradable merchandise. Local Goods is a ‘general store’ that carries many of your basic household needs such as Bio-Kleen (Vancouver, WA) cleaning products and Oregon Soap (Portland) body and hand soap. One of the reasons for opening the store is my desire to help stimulate the local economy by providing a marketplace for local producers.” Even the store fixtures are recycled. A Portland native, Rask lives simply and in sync with the values she hopes her store will promote. She doesn’t own a car and uses public transportation, Zip Car, or her feet to get around. In her personal quest to buy local products whenever possible, the idea for Local Goods was born.

Local Goods carries household goods, toiletries, gifts, accessories and more. Eco-conscious parents will find Knickernappies, all-in-one cloth diapers made in Springfield, Oregon. If you’re looking for fluoride free natural tooth and gum cleaner, they stock Toothsoap from Oregon City. For unique gift ideas, Resource Revival from Mosier has clocks and candle holders made out of recycled bicycle chains. You will also find Green Chic shopping and produce bags that are made in Portland. Hours: Daily, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Check them out at 2136 E. Burnside, Portland, OR 97214 503.548.4390 www.localgoodsllc.com email: polly@localgoodsllc.com

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A Practial Journal for Friends of the Environment c GreenLivingJournal.com d Winter 2009


The Energy Trust of Oregon’s Home Energy Makeover Contest More than 6,000 homeowners entered the contest sponsered by the Energy Trust of Oregon, which closed on May 5. After interviewing 40 semi-finalists and evaluating the homes of 20 finalists, they chose four winners on June 15, 2009. There was one winner with heating fuel provided by each of the following utilities: Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural and Cascade Natural Gas Winning homes were selected based on energy usage per square foot and potential to demonstrate whole-house energy savings through Home Performance with ENERGY STAR improvements. Factors such as past energy usage, home size and age, and number of occupants were considered. The Portland Winner When Stephanie and Justyn moved to Portland from Nashville, they put down roots by rescuing a neglected house. Their 1925 home looked decent from the outside, but inside it begged for help. The couple is gradually updating the house, and energy efficiency is as important to them as refinishing the hardwood floors and painting the dining room. "When we first saw the house, it was hurting," says Stephanie. "It was a used and abused house and bankowned—so we are trying to bring her back so she is beautiful again. It's a really solid house." Stephanie and Justyn's Home Energy Makeover will

replace their old gas furnace and water heater with highefficiency equipment, and the house will be tightened up with insulation and air and duct sealing, all provided by the contest sponsors. Stephanie and Justyn can expect to see their energy costs shrink by as much as 50 percent. "Most people want to save energy, but it can be overwhelming to pinpoint and prioritize what to do when you move into a home," says Justyn. "The makeover will help us do the things that will really make a difference in our home." House Stats House size: 1,339 square feet Year built: 1925 Bedrooms: 3 Floors: Two stories and unfinished basement Energy issues: • Inefficient old gas furnace • Inefficient gas water heater • Very little insulation • Air leaks and leaky duct work Makeover Game Plan Home Energy Makeover sponsors provided the following energy-saving improvements for Stephanie and Justyn’s home: Improvement

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Columbia River PDX c Green Living Journal d No. 7 Winter 2009

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Fix-It Fairs The Fix-It Fairs are free events designed to save you money and connect you to resources. They are held on 3 Saturday mornings during the winter (Nov.- Feb.) from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., at various locations around the City of Portland. Join your neighbors and talk to the experts about how to spend less and stay healthy! Fix-It Fairs are packed with resources for helping you to create a healthy home, including: • How-to classes on various home and garden topics • Money-saving, cost effective tips • Free giveaways Fix-It Fairs occur seasonally, three times a year, through the fall and winter months. The first Fix-it Fair of the season is always the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Fix-It Fairs are held in different neighborhoods and at various locations. For more information visit http://www.portlandonline. com/bps/index.cfm?c=41892. The 2009-10, 23rd Annual Fix-It Fair season is presented by The City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability with support from the following sponsors: Energy Trust of Oregon, Pacific Power, Portland Development Commission Portland Lead Hazard Control Program, and Portland General Electric. 12

In its annual contest to select the outstanding pet industry retailer, Pet Products News International, the leading monthly trade news magazine covering the issues and trends affecting all sectors of the professional pet industry, announced Holistic Pet Center as recipient of its Outstanding Holistic Award, which is part of the magazine’s prestigious Retailer of the Year Award Program. Holistic Pet Center is located in Clackamas, Oregon and its owner, Chip Sammons, has been in the pet business for 21 years. His shop, “The Health Food Store for Dogs and Cats”, offers both holistic products and information to enhance the health of dogs and cats. He also has his own line of pet vitamins, Vetline Veterinary Vitamins, which are manufactured in Oregon. In addition, Sammons broadcasts a live radio program on pet nutrition and news every week, and has authored a book on natural flea control. Helping Those in Need With the recent economic downturn, many pet owners can no longer afford to feed their pets and they make the painful choice to place them in animal shelters because they can no longer care for them. Chip Sammons recognized this issue in his community and did something about—he started a Dog Food Bank. The food bank concept is a simple one: Sammons collects dog and cat food donations and distributes them to families in need. “When I give food I love sniffing out to someone and the they thank me from the bottom of their heart, often with tears in their online eyes because this is the only way they can keep their pet, it makes me feel good,” Sammons said. GreenLivingPDX.com

Green Living Journal

A Practial Journal for Friends of the Environment c GreenLivingJournal.com d Winter 2009


Building Shop Salvage, Shop Green

By Erich Kruger Architectural salvage shops offer great opportunities for remodelers, renters, and builders. When many think of green building, they pick up a copy of a fancy home magazine, view a newly constructed home of natural materials, usually straw, clay, and solar panels, and sigh. “I’m just a renter”… or “I already own a house I can’t seem to keep in repair as it is…” In practice, much of the construction that occurs is in the remodeling or repurposing of buildings. Our country is full of older factories remodeled to green standards for commerce or studios. Bathroom renovations almost always include green features, such as installation of newer low-flush fixtures. But when these materials come from a home-center, a green opportunity is missed. Old-fashioned values of thrift have found a niche in the building market with the advent in the last 10 years of a number of used building material retail stores. Most share a common purpose of making quality used materials available to the public, thereby breaking the traditional route of building materials to the landfill. Most will accept pre-screened donations of surplus materials from the public (call first to confirm donation guidelines), and many offer the service of dismantling buildings (deconstruction) to save their reusable parts. Many items found used or surplus can be energy improvements over existing older construction. Frequently insulation is saved from the process of building deconstruction; a layer of batt or rigid insulation in a home has a rapid economic and ecological payback, especially if it was bought at significant savings at a used building materials store. And the embodied energy that went into its’ initial production is conserved. Adding storm windows, upgrading to insulated windows or doors, or buying efficient lighting are all reasonably priced green options. Non-toxic upgrades include used hardwood flooring, ceramic tile, hot water heating systems, and garden block or raised bed materials. Many a chicken shed or chicken tractor has been made

from reused lumber from a salvage yard. In this case, whimsy sometimes prevails and economics plays a back seat to the fun a DIYer can have with a small structure that can feature some of the more unique and quirky items found at a salvage store. Designing a new home from scratch can be an adventure if a trip to the architectural salvage yard yields a few truly unique tubs, sinks, fixtures, glass, or lighting. The house can then be designed to feature these special items. Care needs to be taken if such items contain lead paint, as many do. Some states’ lead labeling laws includes salvage store lead paint disclosure, and more information on how DIY projects may disturb lead paint, and how to minimize risk, can be found at http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/leadsafetybk.pdf, or ordered in book format by calling 1-800-424-5323. In some jurisdictions, structural use of salvage lumber will require re-grading. Quality, craftsmanship, and durability are compelling reasons to be green by reusing building materials and lumber. Some thoughts to consider: Visit your local salvage store and browse frequently, as inventory often changes. Consider selective salvage and deconstruction as an alternative to building demolition. Donate your surplus materials to a local non-profit building materials store. Check out your local transfer station; they may have a swap shed with building materials.

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Earthen Hand

The Local Application of Traditional Building Techniques by Katie Cordrey According to Scott Howard, founder of Earthen Hand Natural Building, the materials and methods in natural building construction are highly sustainable because they are readily available and easy to use.

When building, consider designing for reuse; adhesive glues and spray foam render a system impossible to reuse. Erich Kruger of ReNew Salvage in Brattleboro, Vermont is a long-time advocate of re-purposing buildings. Resources in the Portland area: Aurora Mills Architectural Salvage 14971 First St NE Aurora, OR 97002 503-678-6083 http://www.auroramills.com Gorge Rebuilt-It Center 995 Tucker Rd Hood River 97031 541.387.4387 http://www.rebuildit.org Hippo Hardware 1040 East Burnside Portland, OR 97214 503-231-1444 http://www.hippohardware.com Lovett Deconstruction Call for a free estimate or to inquire about materials 503.679.1096 http://www.lovettdeconstruction.com Portland, OR McGee Salvage Call for directions to warehouse Scappoose, OR Residential 503.720.7308 Commercial 503 740-9336 http://www.mcgeesalvage.com/ Old Portland Hardware & Architectural 4035 SE Division, Portland, OR 97202 503-234-7380 http://www.oldportlandhardware.com Rejuvenation -Portland Store Salvage 1100 SE Grand Avenue Portland, OR 97214 503-238-1900 14

http://www.rejuvenation.com/company/portland/salvage The Rebuilding Center 3625 N. Mississippi Portland Oregon 97227 http://www.rebuildingcenter.org Restore 66 SE Morrison St Portland, OR 503-283-6247 Restore 5000 E 4th Plain Blvd Vancouver WA 360-213-1313 Imitated, but never duplicated.

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Structures built of earthen materials are more likely to last for many centuries in contrast to a few decades for most contemporary stick-framed buildings. Wood-framing remains the most popular way to build homes in the Pacific Northwest where plentiful forests were once thought of as monstrosities to be cut into submission. The popularity of wood construction over time is a contributor to deforestation worldwide. Some estimates state that we have used 90% of the world’s trees. The effects of deforestation include loss habitat for animals dependent upon forests, soil erosion, and lengthy recovery times because of the slow-growing nature of trees. Protecting and wisely managing the remaining 10% of forests is an attractive proposition. While using slightly more expensive FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) Certified wood helps to assure that responsible social and environmental practices are used in wood production, earthen construction avoids the pitfall altogether. Traditional earthen construction falls into three general categories: Cob construction uses a mixture of clay, water and straw to form a stiff dough-like material that is layered

A Practial Journal for Friends of the Environment c GreenLivingJournal.com d Winter 2009


upon a base course. Each 4”-6” layer is allowed to dry before the next is applied. This layering continues until the wall height is reached. Exterior walls are typically 1 – 2 feet thick.

Adobe uses a mixture similar to that used in cob construction but presses the material into forms to create building blocks or bricks instead of applying it in layers. The dried blocks are then assembled into solid or hollow core walls using mortar and bricklaying techniques. A variation on traditional earthen construction is earthbag construction. Earthbag construction has historic roots in military bunker construction techniques as well as temporary flood-control dike building methods. As the name implies, strong sacks filled with earth are stacked and tamped to form walls. The staggered assembly method is similar to laying bricks. Walls can be curved for improved stability: Round rooms have proven to be stronger than square ones. A strong bond between

the rows of bags is accomplished by placing barbed wire between the courses. Twine is sometimes used to help hold the assembly together while construction is in progress. A finishing layer of earthen plaster, stucco or adobe helps shield the structure from damage

by sun and rain. One local example of this technique is the recently completed Newberry House Mud Hut project. The earthbag house was built in a series of eight Earthen Hand workshops over a period of about six months. Some two-hundred individuals contributed to the construction. Hundreds of bags, supplied by McMinniman’s Brew Pub were re-purposed to construct the house walls. The natural materials needed for the building were locally sourced: Most were from the building site, or from a short distance away. Some features, like windows, were from salvage. In all, some 40 tons of material were used to construct the 200 SF structure. (Keeping the structure small avoids building code issues.) The resulting structure is an eyepopping, architectural creation. The curved walls, distinctive roofline and salvaged windows combine to give the structure a joyful appearance. The building’s character is further enhanced by artfully placed embellishments and finishing touches typical of Scott Howard and Earthen Hand.

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Traditional building techniques can be learned at Earthen Hand workshops. Two of these are scheduled for the first quarter of 2010. For more information about Earthen Hand, Scott Howard, or the upcoming workshops, check the website at http://www.earthenhand.com or visit our blog at : http://www. greenlivingpdx.blogspot.com Construction Photos Courtesy of : John Fuhrman - http://johnfuhrman.smugmug.com/

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Health Handwashing by the Numbers

By Lisa Poisso Handwashing isn’t a sexy topic—so we’re going to scrub this one up by the numbers. Two reasons to wash your hands frequently: 1. Keeping your hands clean is one of the best ways to keep from getting sick and spreading illnesses, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 2. Handwashing is an effective way to avoid transferring toxic chemicals from your hands to your mouth, especially for children. Notes the Environmental Working Group (EWG), “Scientists have found that children actually ingest more chemicals off their hands than from mouthing toxic products directly, such as arsenic from playing on older wooden swing sets or fire retardants found on some electronics.” One magic number to remember when washing your hands: Scrub hands with soap for 20 seconds—about as long as it takes to hum “Happy Birthday” in your head. Four reasons to avoid anti-bacterial soap: 1. A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee found that antibacterial soaps offer no advantages or benefits over plain soap and water. 2. The American Medical Association advises against using antibacterial soap at home because it may encourage bacterial resistance to antibiotics. 3. Triclosan, the common agent in antibacterial soap, is linked to liver and inhalation toxicity as well as impaired thyroid function. 4. Wastewater treatment is unable to completely remove triclosan from water, exposing marine wildlife to the toxic chemical in lakes, rivers and oceans. Three soap ingredients to avoid: 1. Fragrance 2. Triclosan 3. Triclocarbon Two reasons handwashing is better than waterless sanitizing lotions and gels: 1. Hand sanitizers don’t prevent hand-to-mouth chemical transfers. 2. Sanitizers (including harmful ingredients such as fragrance, antibacterial agents, drying alcohol) remain on the skin, to become fully absorbed.

This article appeared on Super Eco (http://www.supereco.com) on 10/28/09 and is reprinted here with permission. For more information about Lisa Poisso visit http://lisapoisso.wordpress.com 16

Lifestyle Cloth Diapers Are The Right Choice by Cynthia Thompson How “Green” is Cloth Diapering? Over 18 billion disposable diapers are purchased each year in the US and the vast majority of them end up in landfills, where they will be around for hundreds of years. Cloth diapers do not contribute to Why choose cloth landfill waste and diapers? use far less raw • Does not contribute to materials to produce. landfill waste Manufacturing disposable diapers • Reduces uses more water environmental than washing cloth footprint diapers. We found • Gentle on baby’s skin no increase in our water or electric • Cost savings bills during 3 years • No chemicals of using only cloth diapers. Cloth diapers contain fewer chemicals than disposable products. For example, disposable diapers contain super absorbent polymer gels (SAP) to absorb waste. Even the “green” disposable diapers contain this chemical (read the label: if it doesn’t say gel-free, it isn’t). This gel has been linked to asthma and skin problems. Disposable diapers release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene and dipentene. These VOCs can have toxic health effects. White disposable diapers are almost always bleached with chlorine leaving trace amounts of dioxin, a chemical classified as a carcinogen. Cloth diapers use the natural absorbency of fibers such as cotton, hemp, wool and bamboo. Some reusable

A Practial Journal for Friends of the Environment c GreenLivingJournal.com d Winter 2009


Reusable Cloth Solutions for the whole family Cloth Diapers Training Pants Mama Pads Bags & Wipes Maternity Clothes

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ZoomBabyGear.com diapers use synthetic materials like microfiber to absorb moisture but they still do not rely on a chemical reaction to work. Babies in cloth diapers generally experience fewer skin irritations and rashes than babies in chemical-laden disposable products. I can count on one hand the number of rashes my daughter ever experienced, and I attribute them to introducing new foods, not cloth diapers. The best way to reduce diaper rashes for any baby is to change the diaper promptly, every time the baby eliminates. It makes environmental sense to reuse as many products as possible and to avoid chemicals in products used against the skin. Reusable cloth diapers are lighter on the planet than any single use product when resources for manufacturing, use and disposal are considered. How much money can you save? The average baby needs about 6000 diapers during the first two years not including disposable wipes (estimated by one mama at $18 per month). Then there is the rash creams (diaper rash is a common side effect of using products containing chemicals) and garbage disposal (one ton of waste per baby). The cost to purchase disposable diapers is approximately $2000 for 2 years. Cloth diapers for the same time will cost from $150-$700. Buying used diapers will save even more money. Cloth diapers will last through several

children in most cases. When I started cloth diapering my daughter at birth I purchased only used products. Making your own diapers is also a money saver. After I saw how the diapers and covers were constructed, I decided to sew my own. I drew my own pattern and started by recycling t-shirts and other clothing we already had around the house. As I learned more about customizing the fit and function of the diapers, I purchased small amounts of specialty fabric. Usually I would sell my daughter’s outgrown diapers to fund these purchases. By the time my daughter was six months old, I was making 100% of her diapering products myself. Our total cost for using cloth diapers for three years was less than $250. Cloth diapers can also be resold for a good percentage of the original cost or repurposed as cleaning cloths. Babies in cloth diapers generally toilet train sooner than babies in disposable diapers, reducing costs even further. Cloth diapers are easy Using cloth diapers is no more difficult than using disposable products. Fear of feces is often expressed by new parents as a reason to use disposable products. Despite claims to the contrary (i.e. “Keeps your baby clean and dry”), a caregiver is still needed to cleanse the child’s skin. And the dreaded “blowouts” actually occur with less

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frequency when using properly fitted cloth diapers. I never had to deal with soiled clothing while using cloth diapers. All the waste stayed inside the diaper, where it belonged, until I dumped it into the toilet, the appropriate disposal for human waste. Traveling with cloth diapers is also not a big deal. Marie DiCocco, Real Diaper Association Secretary and board member, had this story to tell about traveling with cloth diapers: “When my daughter was 15 months old, we took a 2 week trip to Toronto, Canada. I packed up our flat diapers and the thin prefolds that you can buy at Wal-Mart (2-32) and fleece covers. I would fold up the flat diaper into a soaker pad that I laid inside the prefold and then pinned them on using a fleece pull-on cover. Since they were so thin, they were easy to rinse out in a sink at night and hang up to dry. We had access to a laundromat near the B&B we were staying at so I didn’t actually wash them by hand. But by rinsing them out and hanging to dry, they didn’t smell in the bag where I collected them. Halfway through our trip, we took a trip to the laundromat and washed them all.” “Any other time that we traveled, if we were going somewhere where we had access to a washer, I just took our regular fitted diapers and washed them as necessary. Fortunately, all of our relatives & friends were understanding and had no problems with us washing diapers in their washers. But if I had to travel someplace where I didn’t know what sort of washing facilities were available, I’d use my flats and thin prefolds.” I chose to use cloth diapers 100% of the time including at night, when my daughter was at daycare and even when traveling. It was not a hardship or a hassle. It was my choice, freely made in the best interests of my child. There is really no good reason not to use cloth diapers, but there are many reasons to avoid single use disposable products. For more facts about cloth diapers visit the Real Diaper Association at www.realdiaperassociation.org, a non-profit organization dedicated to outreach and advocacy. Cynthia Thompson has been advocating for cloth diapers since her daughter was born in 2003. She currently serves on the board of directors and is vice president of the Real Diaper Association. She is the owner of Zoom Baby Gear, a retail store specializing in reusable cloth products for the whole family. Editor’s comment: In 50+ years of working and playing in the beautiful forests of the northwest I have come across many, many disposable diapers thoughtlessly tossed out, some even in remote areas. But I have never, ever seen a discarded cloth diaper. 18

Greening Your Finale by Elizabeth Fournier Humans plan many aspects of their lives. but it can be difficult to consider our own life’s end. We should all take a little time to plan our final eco-friendly act — our own burial. Regardless of what you believe about life, imagine being able to provide your loved ones, in their grief, the comfort of being able to visit your body’s resting place situated in a field of flowers, under your favorite tree, under a newly planted tree, or some other peaceful location. Green Burial—or Natural Burial as it is sometimes called—is quite literally the notion of “earth to earth, dust to dust.” It is the burial of human remains in a natural setting, without benefit of the usual trappings of the modern funeral. There are no bronze markers, no granite monuments, no artificial features, no irrigation systems, no manicured lawns, and no burial vaults. In some cases, there isn’t even a casket. A classic, no-frills funeral and burial in the United States costs from $6,000 to $10,000, and uses formaldehyde in embalming, and non-degradable steel caskets and concrete vaults placed shoulder to shoulder in burial plots. Burial in a green or natural cemetery, on the other hand, can cost half as much, and embalming, metal caskets and concrete burial vaults are prohibited. Instead, biodegradable caskets, usually made of wood or cardboard or burial shrouds of natural fibers are used. Green cemetery graves are marked only in natural ways, with the planting of a tree or shrub, or the placement of a flat indigenous stone, which may or may not be engraved. Burial locations are mapped with a GIS (geographic information system). Is Embalming Required? Embalming is NEVER required for the first 24 hours. In many states, it’s not required at all under any circumstances. Refrigeration is almost always an alternative to embalming if there will be a delay before final disposition. Embalming first became common in the US in the 1800s,

A Practial Journal for Friends of the Environment c GreenLivingJournal.com d Winter 2009


when it was used to preserve the bodies of Civil War soldiers being shipped long distances to their families. Today, many bereaved families are given the impression that formaldehyde embalming is legally required and necessary for protecting public health, but neither is the case in any state. It is estimated that the more than 22,500 cemeteries across the Unites States bury 827,060 gallons of embalming fluid every year, according to the know it all folks of Wikipedia. Embalming fluids can include chemicals and additives like formaldehyde, dyes, and disinfectant chemicals. These substances eventually find their way into the soil where they can contaminate the local water supplies. What is a Green Cemetery? Conventional cemeteries represent a narrow, inflexible use of land in the first place. When a new cemetery is created, the land is often cleared of existing vegetation, ruining the natural ecosystems and beauty of an area in exchange for a perfectly even, manicured lawn. Grounds crews often maintain such a lawn with excessive water usage and heavy applications of toxic pesticides and fertilizers. Most cemeteries require the purchase of a vault or outer burial container into which the casket is placed. These containers range from several hundred to several thousand dollars. They were originally used to keep the ground from sinking and to protect caskets from grave robbers. Before vaults came into use, cemeteries simply mounded the excess dirt on top of the grave. Later, the dirt was leveled off, if necessary. No state or federal laws require burial containers. In a green burial area, no vaults can be used. Bodies are interred in a biodegradable coffin or shroud and placed directly in the earth. Gradually, the body returns to the earth in a natural progression. What Does A Natural Exit Look Like? Picture the following settings: A body completely wrapped in quite a few yards of cloth, with four friends and family members on hand to cautiously lower in to its final resting spot on the family property.

There is no vault, no liner. Soon the plain grave is covered with Earth, with a knoll of dirt on top to compensate for settling that will happen over time. There is no marker here, just native foliage. The backdrop doesn’t look so much like a cemetery, but more like a nature conservancy. Another similar gathering, but here a wood casket is buried in a traditional cemetery. Instead of a cement vault that surrounds it, a liner goes on top. Similar to an upsidedown shoebox, there is no bottom, and the casket, sitting directly on the dirt, decomposes in time, along with the body inside. Elizabeth Fournier is a green burial expert and is affectionately called The Green Reaper. She can answer any of your questions about making paper mache urns, the new trend in bamboo and sea grass caskets or how to have a memorial service in the woods Skyped from a laptop, She also helps locals bury loved ones on their family property, albeit scattering ashes, burying an urn, or a whole body. She is the owner and operator of Cornerstone Funeral Services in Boring, Oregon. Local Sources for biodegradable caskets and urns: Portland Natural Casket Company PO Box 82398 Portland, OR 97282 503.502.0012 Handcrafted Caskets and urns from sustainably harvested local wood. http://www.portlandnaturalcaskets.com Natural Burial Company PO Box 11204 Eugene, OR 97440503.493.9258 The Natural Burial Company distributes biodegradable coffins handmade from willow, bamboo, paper, wood, or another fiber and natural burial goods to funeral service providers throughout the US and Canada. http://www.naturalburialcompany.com

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Business B-Line Bicyle Powered Delivery Portland is known as a bicycle-friendly town. That’s good for Kathryn and Franklin Racine-Jones because they offer sustainable urban delivery services to Portland’s urban core, and they use bicycles to do it. Bicycle delivery makes environmental sense, but it also makes financial sense. The couple estimates that the cost for a company to run a semi into the urban core exceeds $1 per minute. While that may be cost-effective for companies with high-volume delivery needs, it doesn’t pencil for those with more modest requirements. B-Line partners with companies to reduce inefficient use of large tractortrailers, box vans, and other large vehicles for small deliveries by providing ‘last mile’ service in the downtown area. The company’s commercial, heavy duty electric-assist trikes have about 60 cubic feet and 600 pounds of carrying capacity. The trikes are perfect for the relatively small loads of produce, coffee, and bread that the company delivers on a regular basis. Current clients include: Organically Grown Company , the largest wholesaler of organic produce in the northwest; Portland Roasting (coffee); Nature Bake/Dave’s Killer Bread; Tao of Tea; Holy Kakow (organic chocolate syrup and powder); and Pearl Bakery B-Line delivers to approximately 100 places in close-in and downtown including Bijou Cafe, Higgins, Little Green Grocer, Portland State University, Laughing Planet and the Ecotrust Building, and Pastaworks. Despite the difficulties of cold, wet weather and the huge amount of energy it takes to physically power a delivery bike, Kathryn and Franklin enjoy the challenge of B-Line’s mission to make Portland more livable by providing sustainable urban delivery solutions to businesses and organizations. For more information on B-Line, visit: http://b-linepdx.com/index.html 20

A Box Life

Repackaging Community by Katie Cordrey A Box Life is a Columbia Sportswear-sponsored initiative that encourages communal effort to reuse cardboard shipping boxes. The goal of A Box Life is to keep cardboard boxes in use longer, reduce shipping impacts, and encourage people to personally reduce, reuse and recycle. The Portland-based company offers customers the option of receiving their merchandise in a used box. If chosen, the box arrives with a special

A Box Life tracking sticker. The life of the box can be tracked online or with a cell phone using a 2-dimensional bar

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Q: It’s great for the environment, but does it pencil financially as well? There are costs for data management and the stickers and handling all those boxes… would it be worth it even if it didn’t help the environment?

code called a QR code, and reader software. An online map shows travel routes and the stories behind each box adventure. We were impressed with the program but had some questions. Andrea Pallavicini of Columbia Sportswear Public Relations was kind enough to provide the answers: Q: If a company is interested in being part of the ‘repackaging community,’ how can they get involved? A: They can contact customer service at (800) MA-Boyle, (800) 622-6953, who will forward the call to the appropriate person.

A: It is too soon to measure the environmental or financial impact of the reused box program. The many variables (fluctuating consumer demand, reused box and sticker supply, other partners coming on board with the concept, how the consumer will reuse the box, whether or not the box is registered on aboxlife.com when it is reused) will make it difficult to measure with certainty. We can say that reusing a box rather than buying a new box does pencil out environmentally and financially for our consumer. We hope the program inspires others to re-think the reuse of materials in other aspects of their life as well. Q: Are you aware of other companies doing this sort of thing? A: A few brands do ship in used boxes when available, but we are not aware of another brand of our size offering consumers the option to choose a reused box at checkout. For more information, visit: http://www.aboxlife.com

Green painting

Q: What kind of commitment (size-wise) is necessary to be considered for participation? (Many artists, for example, who would love to participate in such a system, but they would only have a few shipments a year.)

Serving Portland since 1990

A: Anybody who is interested can participate as long as they are willing to purchase the stickers they need.

Phone: 503-504-1448 Email: robert@roberttilley.net http://roberttilley.net

Q: Whose brainchild was this? A: It was a team effort that hatched from Columbia’s e-commerce group as they looked at creative ways to address some of the over-packaging and packaging waste issues involved in shipping products to consumers. Q: How are you able to control the box sizes/condition when employing used packaging? A: We currently have a reliable source for lightly used boxes. Our ability to right-size shipments depends on this source and fluctuations in consumer demand. Q: Do you have to paint or camouflage the boxes? A: Nope, we use the boxes as we get them, only adding an A Box Life sticker and a Columbia sticker. Q: Where do the original used boxes come from? A: The reused boxes come from returns to Columbia from our wholesale partners or consumers and from boxes that Columbia uses in and between its distribution centers.

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Are FSC Papers Really That Green? by Steve Baker Having been involved with the paper industry for the last 17 years, I have witnessed many changing environmental paper trends. Every few years something new emerges in the industry that is considered environmentally trendy at the time. First it was the “post-consumer waste” content or PCW recycled content by which the greenness of a paper was measured. The next wave of excitement came with the term “tree-free,” meaning that the paper is made from alternative fiber sources like industrial hemp, kenaf, bagasse or a variety of other plant-based fibers other than trees. Currently, the dominant environmental indicator is “FSC certified” paper. FSC is the acronym for the Forest Stewardship Council and is the subject of our discussion here.

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The Forest Stewardship Council is an independent certification agency established to insure that their approved products come from sustainably managed forests. They certify wood products as well as paper and are supported by the organization Rainforest Alliance. This all sounds well and good until we recall that the original objective for environmental papers was not just to make papers that saved energy, water and trees but also to utilize commercial and household paper waste as the feedstock for the new product. This is called recycling. The beauty is that we are transforming waste paper into new, usable products, rather than “disposing” at a heavy price to the planet. Whereas, the FSC viewpoint is that we should continue to make paper from trees and that recycling and landfills are not that big of an issue. We disagree! The paper industry, like a lot of the extracting industries (i.e., coal, oil, etc.,) does not like to change. Changing the way they do things means spending money and they don’t like to do that. It’s easier and preferable for them to continue to make paper from trees instead of building new recycling infrastructure, or developing new pulping technologies utilizing alternative fiber sources. With FSC, they can pay a nominal fee for the use of the FSC certification and continue to not change very much to appear green. Mills, printing houses, paper distributors all proudly display their FSC emblems to the public but unfortunately the recycled content of their products are often low or non-existent. One can say, without being extremist, that much of this activity is a clear case of corporate greenwashing. Since global warming is the gravest circumstance for our planet’s future, and that world-wide deforestation is responsible for one-fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions, it stands to reason that one of our greatest responsibilities is to preserve the existing trees and forests as much as we can. For wood products that must come from trees, the FSC certification makes a whole lot of sense. But for paper and paper products, recycling, along with paper conservation, is clearly the better answer. Qualities determining real environmentally friendly paper may be considered in this order: 1. Post-consumer waste recycled content (PCW). Try for 100%. 2. Processed without chlorine or Processed Chlorine Free® (PCF) 3. Alternative fiber sources or Tree-Free 4. FSC certified recycled 5. FSC certified Steve Baker is President of Greenline Paper, a company dedicated solely to the sales of quality, environmentally sound products. GreenLinePaper.com 22

Dissovable Packaging

Add Warm Water and It Disappears UK-based Cyberpac makes a clear, compostable bag that can be printed with biodegradable inks and fitted with a biodegradable peel-and-seal lip. The name of the product is, Harmless-Dissolve. It is a truly compostable packaging that dissolves in warm water. The Harmless-Dissolve bag is made of a water soluble polymer which completely biodegrades into naturally occurring substances in a landfill, dishwasher, washing machine, or a bowl of warm water. Recent copies of Creative Review magazine were packaged in the new dissolving bag bearing the words ‘This bag dissolves in water.’ A quick experiment proved that the material is true to it’s water soluble claims. According to the Harmless Packaging website, “Harmless-Dissolve is made from a hydro-degradable substrate which is 5 times stronger than normal polythene. It is a readily biodegradable, water soluble polymer which completely biodegrades in a composting environment, in a dishwasher or in a washing machine. It has no harmful residues and will biodegrade into naturally occurring substances - the bugs love it.” “It’s non-toxic and is degraded by microorganisms, moulds and yeasts. These organisms can occur in both artificial environments, such as anaerobic digesters, activated sewage sludge and composts and natural environments such as aquatic systems and soil. The micro-organisms use Harmless-Dissolve as a food source by producing a variety of enzymes that are capable of reacting with it. In

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the end the bag becomes carbon dioxide, water and biomass.” Photo Credit: CreativeReview.co.uk For more on the Harmless Dissolve product, visit: http://www.harmlesspackaging.co.uk/harmless-106-harmlessdissolve.html

Gardening Our northwest soils may not have been abused for as long as nor to the extent of those in the author’s state, but there is much to be learned here.

From Soil To Oil And Back Again by Ben Falk

“The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.” - Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1937 Inheriting Subsoil My state soil map says that I live on land composed of 6 to 12 inches of silty loam underlain by gravelly clay subsoil – not prime farmland but pretty great stuff for growing fruit and nut trees and, with proper fertility management, agreeable to growing vegetables. Yet, for the past five years I’ve been gardening and planting trees across this site and have found only pockets of silty loam soil a few times; mostly, it’s clay, boulders, and more clay. Where’s all the topsoil? Are the maps wrong? Local elders in their 80s who have tended farm animals on this hillside have helped me to complete a picture that should not be surprising, for it’s the story of 75 percent of Vermont’s landscape: land clearing for timber extraction during colonial times, then potash production with the remnant forest combined with the sheep craze (2 million-

plus sheep at one time in this state). Add to this a ravenous diet of 10-30 cords of wood per house for heat, followed by hardscrabble grazing in the early half of the 20th century to polish off the remaining topsoil. Overgrazing sparsely vegetated, sloping land yields predictable results: massive transport of topsoil from the hillsides into the region’s great storm water detention basin – Lake Champlain. This sad soil story is told throughout the country, with the Gulf of Mexico catching the topsoil washing off the exposed heartland of America at a rate of about 1 billion dump-truck loads per year. Only a comet or large asteroid collision with Earth has ever destroyed so much biological capital so quickly. The Great Soil Erosion of the 19th and 20th centuries represents the most massive transport of material on Earth since the last Ice Age. My small 10 acres on which about eight inches of silt was lost amounts to roughly 12,000 tons of topsoil, or about 350 dump-truck loads. Standing at the sunset of the cheap-energy era, we now have to build a renewable society starting with 200 million fewer dumptruck loads of soil than the first European settlers to this region had. Strangely, few have noticed the missing topsoil. Exceptions are organic farmers and scuba divers who have reported depositional zones of soil 10 to 30 feet deep across wide areas of the Lake Champlain bottom. Most farming goes on as usual. We’ve kept a small group of crops producing by trucking in our fertility from afar. As we transition from the cheap energy era, however, the reality of Earth’s missing topsoil will be felt more deeply. Healthy soil is the foundation of both agriculture and culture; food can only be extracted from land via fossil fuel fertilizers and pesticides temporarily, at best. Societies have long existed without highways and electrical grids. It’s when the soil and water give out – or the climate shifts quickly – that civilizations collapse. This collapse may be delayed as long as fossil fuels can be substituted for soil, rapid climate change is nascent, or until fresh, potable water becomes scarce. It’s becoming clear that the most direct way humanity can

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easily, with sound land practices. (That’s the really good news). Soil to Oil

triage the soil-climate-water emergency is through building topsoil rapidly, as soil is the lever for the triad. As we accept the role of topsoil as lynchpin in ecological health and human resource sustainability, we are waking up to world of new possibilities, including global carbon negativity, agricultural yield improvements (while simultaneously reducing inputs), flood mitigation, and biodiversity rehabilitation. Only topsoil formation accomplishes all of these things. Building topsoil is a deep solution that doesn’t create a multitude of new problems. It actually solves many problems synergistically. Disenchanted with the failure of each silver-bullet techno-fix, people are now realizing that the resource-generating system we need already exists. Photosynthesis is the production, and soil is the storage. If being the “toolmakers” sustained humanity through the last epoch, evolving into soil makers and water restorers might just get us from the oil age into a true solar age. What Is Soil? The more we learn about the living matrix underfoot the more we understand soil as a vast, synergistic composite of ingredients and processes. Although soil is composed of known substances such as minerals and particles from the underlying bedrock “parent material,” organic matter from plant and animal tissues, and water, we are only beginning to understand the magical difference of living soil born from non-living matter. Despite its many mysteries, we do know that soil “facts”: It is the principal in our trust fund with Earth (yes, she gave us a trust – the assemblage of species and water are all part of that inheritance). It is generative; along with water, it is the living medium from which life stems (with the influx of sunshine). Its quantity and quality set Earth’s thermostat. Soil is where most of the carbon is: 2 percent organic matter (carbon) in the top foot of soil represents more carbon than has been produced on the planet since the Industrial Revolution began. This amount of organic matter can be built in one growing season, 24

Solar photovoltaics, wind power, hydrogen fuel cells, smart grids, nanotech, clean coal … But what if the best news in humanity’s prospects for a more livable future is not these and other new technologies manufactured from factories, but ages-old living material manufactured by water, fungi, wind, and plants from this planet’s bedrock? (And how much more effective would our efforts be if we focused on soil creation at least as much as we do on developing new technologies?) How will soil (and biological systems in general) again become our baseline resource-generator and storehouse? How can we enhance the soil system to sustain humanity’s resource needs while at the same time sopping up the excess carbon we’ve left in the atmosphere during the Great Fossil Fuel Party? Back Again: Oil to Soil A century ago we began producing our resources with oil instead of soil. Now, we’re beginning to realize just how bad a deal this was; we needed the soil not just to produce our resources renewably but to temper our climate, sustain biodiversity, deal with drought, and repair our health. But how can we possibly rebuild our local soil losses, let alone 1,000,000,000,000 (yes, a trillion) dump-truck loads in the heartland of the Untied States? It takes a “natural” system hundreds of years to make just a single inch of topsoil, so we need to make soil a thousand, even ten thousand times faster. Is this possible? Due to the sheer volume of matter needing to be converted into topsoil, any system that builds soil rapidly will utilize the most abundant and potent resources at hand, including: • Subsoil (mineral source) • Atmosphere (carbon dioxide and nitrogen source) • Water (oxygen source and nutrient delivery) • Sunshine (energy source for converting plant matter into soil organic matter) • “Wastes”: manures, crop residues, woody biomass, food scraps, rock minerals, sand, and other available soil components (nutrients and organic matter) Tools for optimally utilizing the above resources, to measure soil formation, and to provide continual feedback (technique improvement over time) Strategies are emerging for combining these ingredients to make fertile topsoil with great speed. These strategies include nutrient cycling/composting; cover cropping; intensive, tall-grass grazing; subsoil plowing and keyline agriculture; deep-rooting perennials; biochar and re-mineralization; and bacteria and fungi inoculation. Most if not all of these strategies can be combined. Some are suitable

A Practial Journal for Friends of the Environment c GreenLivingJournal.com d Winter 2009


only on the farm scale, while others are more suitable at the home scale, and strategies vary according to the type of landscape in which soil formation is applied. In the future I will highlight ways of applying strategies on the small farm and homestead scale. In the meantime visit the following for more information: • • • •

http://www.carbonfarmersofamerica.com/ http://www.biochar-international.org/biochar http://hubpages.com/hub/ Dynamic-Accumulators-forBetter-Soil http://www.yeomansplow.com. au/yeomans-keyline-system. htm http://managingwholes. com/flash/wcSlideshow.htm http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=s1lI-znogTk

Dr. Melanie Brown, BS, DC Dr. Jason Brown, BS, DC 118 N Killingsworth (& Vancouver Ave)

PORTLAND www.purelifeclinic.com

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• Chiropractic • Acupuncture • Massage Therapy • Rehabilitation • Microcurrent Facials

• Primary, Whole Body Care • Nutritional Counseling & Supplements • Auto, Work and Sports Injuries • Headaches, Neck, & Back Pain • Detoxification & Exercise Plans • Maternity, Infant & Pediatric Care

Ben Falk has a Master of Arts in Landscape Design. His company, Whole Systems Design, is located in Moretown, Vermont. His column appears regularly in Vermont Commons and is archived at vtcommons.org.

Business Pixels vs. Paper by Gary Munkhoff

Our publication The Green Living Journal is available both on line and in printed form at 350 locations throughout the Portland-Vancouver metro area. The question of which of the two editions has the least impact on our environment is of constant concern to us, but the answer is rather elusive and often determined by who does the research. What makes for interesting reading are some of the bullets that the different sources put forth in order to support their particular position. From International Paper’s latest newsletter we learned that: “On average it takes 500 kilowatt-hours of electricity to produce 440 lbs. of paper, the typical amount of paper each of us consumes annually. That’s the equivalent of powering one computer continuously for five months.” “It costs an estimated $2.8 billion of energy annually to leave computers sitting idle overnight in the U.S. alone. On a CO2 basis, that’s 20 million tons of carbon dioxide, about the amount produced by four million cars on the road.”

“Twenty percent less CO2 is used per year by a person reading a daily printed newspaper versus a person reading web-based news for 30 minutes a day.” This last statement sent me to Google for it’s source and this led me to a study carried out in Sweden at the Center for Sustainable Communications at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), in collaboration with STFI-Packhorse. They investigated the environmental impact of various ways of reading the daily paper. The findings show that a half hour of reading an Internet newspaper per day using a Kindle type device has about the same environmental effect as reading a paper newspaper. Reading the news directly on the web shortens that time to just 10 minutes. Any longer on the web and reading the printed paper has a lower environmental impact. The authors go on to qualify the results according to the reader’s location in the world, how many people read each copy of the paper issue, how many people use the same computer, and how much of the time the computer is used for other purposes. In the meantime we will continue to offer both editions for our readers.

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Home The Minimalist Kitchen by Misty McNally Sarah Susanka, architect and author of the The Not So Big House books, thinks kitchens are out of control. Oversize appliances and gadgets that do everything we once did by hand now clutter our countertops and eat up storage. This leads her clients to think they need bigger kitchens; more than three-quarters ask to start their home remodel with that room. “The attitude is, the bigger the better — and that’s absolutely not the best kitchen to be cooking in,” Susanka said. “There’s an appropriate scale, and having more and more cabinets and space between countertops can make it feel unusable.” The first step to a great kitchen isn’t to remodel, but to clear away the space and energy guzzlers that clutter your counters and eat up storage. Underneath all those gadgets, you might already have the kitchen of your dreams. 1. CUT CLUTTER.

WHAT’S IN THEIR KITCHENS? SHERRI BROOKS VINTON MUST HAVE 1. A high-quality chef’s knife that feels good in the hand 2. A box grater: “the original food processor” 3. Scalloped-edge tongs: “They’re extensions of my fingers, very Edward Scissorhands. I use them to flip food, lift lids, pull pans, serve pasta.” SHE COULD DO WITHOUT: “Maserati” luxury ovens and ranges. “Fun to drive? Yes. Necessary for a good meal? Not so much.”

SARAH SUSANKA MUST HAVE 1. A recycling center 2. A window over the sink with a beautiful view 3. A well-designed, pull-out pantry to store small food items that would get lost in upper or lower cabinetry 4. A comfortable place for friends and family to sit and talk while the cook prepares food SHE COULD DO WITHOUT: Specialized gizmos. “They take up space but are seldom used.”

Most people use less than half the stuff they own, Susanka said. So when more storage seems the only solution, she often talks clients down. “People may have lots and lots of cookie sheets, but they really only use two,” she said. Our mothers and grandmothers cleared out clutter (the stuff that hangs around but rarely, if ever, gets used) during annual spring cleaning rituals, Susanka notes. Now, “we keep bringing stuff in, but we forget we’ve got to also take stuff out.” She recommends spring cleaning — even if it’s not spring. “There’s nothing more valuable than taking everything out and just looking at what you’ve got. Just open a cabinet in the kitchen and honestly ask, ‘How many times have I used that?’ You’ll discover that you don’t need most of it.” It won’t be easy. “The hardest thing to do is throw something away,” she said. Instead of throwing anything away, donate items with a little life left to a thrift store or a friend in need. If you’ve 26

overstocked on canned and dried goods, help the food bank. Remember that surplus next time you’re at the store, and buy less. 2. BRING IN LESS. Finding reusable replacements for disposables is the easiest way to cut kitchen clutter, said Sherri Brooks Vinton, former Slow Food USA governor and director of the Westport, Conn., farmer’s market. “Slip a plate over a bowl instead of covering it with plastic wrap, transport lunches in reusable containers, use cloth napkins and towels,” she said. “You’ll save a fortune.” 3. FEEL FULL. Appreciate what you’ve uncovered: space. Fill it wisely, with wonderful aromas and happy people. If you are having trouble cutting back on your shopping, try these tips to keep clutter from invading your kitchen. CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM: Wait a week or more before you buy anything. If you don’t change your mind or forget about it completely, it’ll still be there. REALITY CHECK: Add up how many hours of work it would take to pay for that thing you want. ASK YOURSELF: Do I have space for this? Does it require washing, dusting or other things I’d rather not do? How often will I use it? How long will it last?

A Practial Journal for Friends of the Environment c GreenLivingJournal.com d Winter 2009


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SHOP SMART: Check out customer reviews on Amazon (www.amazon.com), Consumer Reports (www.consumerreports.org) or even from the retailer. (How many times have you wished you’d done that?) Excerpted from Natural Home, a national magazine that provides practical ideas, inspiring examples and expert opinions about healthy, ecologically sound, beautiful homes. To read more articles visit www.NaturalHomeMagazine.com. Copyright 2009 by Ogden Publications Inc.

Book Review On the Night Stand by Stephen Morris

Yeah ... so we’re supposed to read all these books? The publishers are in their pre-holiday frenzy and have provided us with a plethora of interesting new titles for the season. Here’s a quick list at what is stacking up at the review desk. Independence Days: A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage & Preservation (New Society Publishers, 2009) by Sharon Astyk wins our award for best cover design. Putting the title right into the canning jar label is an ingenious way of communicating the dual purposes of this book. Yes, it’s a foodie book, filled with techniques and recipes for dedicated gardeners who want to eek the last bit of nourishment from the soil. But it is decidedly a foodie book with an apocalyptic edge, because the author is also saying we better learn to store our own food, because we have no choice due to fallout from impending economic collapse. This is the same author who gave “Depletion and Abundance.” Depression has its bright side.

Power from the Sun: A Practical Guide to Solar Electricity (New Society Publishers, 2009) is something like Dan Chiras’s 150th book on renewable energy topics. This guy writes them faster than we can read them. Like all of Chiras’s books, this one is technically solid, straightforward, and written for the non-technical lay person. Sustainable Food by Elise McDonough and Nontoxic Housecleaning by Amy Kolb Noyes are new entries in the Chelsea Green Guide series. They are small (not quite pocketsized), short (approximately 65 pages), attractive little volumes on specific topics. There are currently eight books in the series. Not sure how I feel about this. For many years Chelsea Green tackled the most difficult subjects in authoritative detail. Books like The Grape Grower and The Flower Farmer defined their topics and have stood the test of time, remaining in print many years after their original publication. These little guides break no new ground and recycle information that has been readily available from other sources for years. At $7.95 a pop they will make attractive stocking stuffers, but won’t provide great value. But then, how do you fit Care2.com, the Non-Toxic Times (Seventh Generation’s newsletter), or Mother Earth News into a stocking? Just when we think we understand an issue, we find out we don’t. Ethanol ... good. Ethanol ... bad. Ethanol ...

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Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature by Janine M. Benyus

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www.ArborsmithTreeCare.com good, but only when done on a community scale. That’s the gist of Alcohol Fuel: Making and Using Ethanol as a Renewable Fuel (New Society Publishers, 2009) by Richard Freudenberger. This is the same Richard Freudenberger who publishes BackHome Magazine and has been defining the homesteading movement in this country since the days of the Nearings. Ethanol, once touted as the renewable answer to fossil fuel, fell out of favor once people realized that it made no sense to be distilling corn into ethanol while half the planet starves. The key, says the author, is location and scale. Leave the world food supply intact, but if there are local sources of agricultural cull and waste foodstock that can be gleaned from local sources, then ethanol becomes a viable option. This is Green Living’s “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry” issue, so it’s a sobering thought to remember that the next line in this phrase is “For tomorrow we die.” There has been a spate of books anticipating the demise of the human species. Perhaps the best-known is Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us, but listen to the titles of these other recent releases: The Last Human, The Earth After Us, and Life After People. Clearly, there are some folk who are not optimistic about the future. At least one new book, Life, Money and Illusion: Living on Earth as if we want to stay by Mike Nickerson, offers a glimmer of hope. This updated edition by a longtime environmental activist and educator, outlines the scenario for collapse, but then sets out a series of techniques to evolve from a paradigm of growth to sustainability. These include encouraging investment in community, honoring the Golden Rule instead of the Rule of Gold, and focusing more on living than “stuff.” Whew! Saved by the bell! I’ll drink to that. 28

From looking at the cover, I assumed this was a book about such biological mysteries as how insects have evolved the capacity to camouflage themselves to look like the leaves they hide among. I discovered Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature really is about how humans could have a fantastically high-tech and still sustainable civilization that could blend seamlessly into the Earth. That’s right – no contradiction between hi-tech living and sustainability. To achieve such a world, Janine Benyus credibly explains, we have only to respect, study, and emulate nature. Benyus (re)defines biomimicry as “a new science that studies nature’s models and then imitates or takes inspiration from these designs and processes to solve human problems.” And Benyus shows that this is a science that already has some very creative practitioners. Biomimicry brings us portraits of cutting-edge research into growing food like a prairie, gathering energy like a leaf, weaving fibers like a spider, computing like a cell, running a business like a redwood forest. Are you a hi-tech farmer in hock over your ears to seed, fertilizer, and pesticide companies and stuck with obsolete equipment? Check out the vision of a practi-cal naturebased agriculture as detailed by Wes Jackson, who shows how a prairie-based, chemical-free form of agriculture will benefit farmers and their ecosystems – as well as all of us who eat. Are you a graduate student envisioning a career at the forefront of computing, while repressing terror at the poor prospects of the human future? Imagine the excitement of biocomputing research using protein molecules that recognize patterns and find solutions to problems unimaginably faster and more efficiently than the most sophisticated silicon chips of today. We have, of course, always copied nature in our technology: our looms were inspired by spiders, our aircraft by birds, our “chunnelers” by moles, our computers by our own brains, and so on. But we did things mechanically, often paying little attention to nature’s style. Today, much of this century’s infrastructure is in need of replacement – including outmoded highways, energy and communications networks, water treatment facilities, factories, and even economic models. Nature’s blueprints could

A Practial Journal for Friends of the Environment c GreenLivingJournal.com d Winter 2009


Education Ask A Master Recycler by Dana Jeffries

I read that I can compost junk mail and newspaper.  Does the paper have any toxins or does the ink have lead in it? Should I worry about this? I checked with Metro’s Natural Gardening specialist, Carl Grimm, for your answer. Sounds like it is fine to compost newspaper, but general junk mail is much better off being recycled with your other scrap paper. Grimm says, “In general, we recommend composting newspapers-generally recognized as safe, as long as they are not the shiny magazine-like pages-and in worm bins especially.  The other papers could be less wholesome and generally are not recommended.” Why can’t I recycle my tub lids?  They have the same # as the tubs that I am recycling.  Plastics recycling can be so frustrating! 

provide a foundation for their replacements. As Benyus tells us, there is no reason why we cannot develop a technology with far greater complexity and sophistication than anything we have yet invented that also supports a healthier, happier future for both humans and nature. “For too long we have judged our innovations by whether they are good for us, which has increasingly come to mean whether they are profitable,” Benyus says. “Now we have to put what is good for life first, and trust that it will also be good for us.” Elisabet Sahtouris, evolutionary biologist, eco-philosopher, and futurist, is the author of EarthDance: Living Systems in Evolution and co-author with Willis Harman of Biology Revisioned. For more information visit these websites: Janine M. Benyus www.biomimicryinstitute.org Ask Nature http://www.asknature.org Prairie farming Wes Jackson Land Institute http:// www.landinstitute.org http://solarfuel.asu.edu/EFRC http://bioenergy.asu.edu http://www.biodesign.asu.edu

While you cannot recycle them curbside in the Portland Metro area, sometimes you can find a recycling center that is taking lids. The plastics recycling market changes depending on demand, so the recyclability of plastics is also changeable. One recycling company that sometimes accepts plastic lids is Far West Fibers. A phone call ahead to ask if they’re accepting your miscellaneous plastics is recommended. Far West Fibers has several drop-off sites: NE 128 and Marx, Portland 503-255-2299; SE 17th and Holgate, Portland 503-238-1640; Hwy. 217 and Denny Road, Beaverton 503-643-9944; NW 15th and Quimby, Portland 503-329-2890; 6440 SE Alexander, Hillsboro 503-643-9944; 341 Foothills Rd., Lake Oswego 503-329-2890; and 2005 N. Rosa Parks Way, Portland 503-329-2890. The main reason plastic lids are not accepted curbside is due to their shape. Lids are usually thin and small, so they often slide in between newspapers and magazine pages, or just fall through the cracks on conveyer belts at the sorting centers. Whatever falls off the sorting machine ends up going to the landfill instead. Lids are also manufactured a little bit differently than the tubs they cover, even though they might have the same recycling number on them. The number in the recycling triangle on plastics doesn’t have a lot to do with how to recycle them anymore. The shape of the container is more important these days. Master Recycler- Dana Jeffries Master Recycler Graduating Class #1 K103 On Air Personality and mother of 2 girls. You can try to keep up with Dana on her web page: www.k103. com/pages/talent_dana.html

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Green Living Journal Winter 2009 #7