January 2009: Green Scene

January 2009: Green Scene


Join the club

Calling all county dwellers: Are those weekly trips to the McIntire Recycling Center getting to be a drag? Are you, in fact, putting them off until you have a mountain of glass and plastic that brings shame on your family and clutters your porch? Ponying up for curbside recycling might be your solution. There are now two local companies you can call.

Sue Battani of My Recycling Club will
make the McIntire run for you.

One, My Recycling Club, requires you to gather at least five of your neighbors into a “club” before signing up for the service. (Unless, of course, a club already exists in your neighborhood; then you can just join the bandwagon.) It offers containers for sale but lets you use your own if you want. The other, Green Pieces, lets you sign up solo and requires you to pay for containers. Pricing and setup is similar; My Recycling Club is $20 per month (two pickups) and Green Pieces charges $10 for each of two scheduled pickups per month.

Call My Recycling Club at 409-0180 or Green Pieces at 962-5219, and start looking forward to a prettier porch.—Erika Howsare

Last chances

It’s not just a rain barrel: It’s the antidote to a federal disaster.

…To go to a GreenMatters workshop, that is. The two-year series of free green-living workshops hosted by the Habitat Store is coming to a close in early 2009, so whether you’ve been faithfully attending or not, hear this: January 14 and March 25 mark the last installments.

The January workshop is your chance to get educated about rainwater—how to catch it, store it and conserve it. As detailed on p. 4, conditions locally are officially Way Too Dry, so it’s all the more timely to improve your house’s relationship with the water table.

In March, a special speaker will take the mic: John Abrams, the man behind the green-construction company South Mountain Builders, based on Martha’s Vineyard. He’s also written a book. This should be an opportunity to get invigorated about smarter homes, just in time for spring.

On April 22, there will be an ending gala—but you wouldn’t want to show up to the party and not be able to say you went to a workshop, would you? Each class runs from 6-7:30pm, with social time before and after. Call 989-5834 for more info.—E.H.


Three of many green dishwashing options. These ones are found at Integral Yoga Natural Foods and Blue Ridge Eco Shop.

What a dish

Why use dish detergent that’s free of phosphates? The reason is right in front of you when you’re washing those pots and pans: It’s the water, yo. When you use the regular detergent, it may contain up to 9 percent phosphates, which are known to cause blooms of blue-green algae in waterways—bad for marine life.

Make the switch to phosphate-free dish detergent, and at least you’re not contributing to that great tide of pollutants. (It’s nice to lose the obnoxious artificial scents, too.) Most grocery stores now carry at least one eco-friendly option, so give it a try.—E.H.



Green administration

Resolve to turn your home office a shade greener this year. The obvious green choices (installing CFLs or LEDs or lowering and raising the thermostat) will cut energy costs, but what else?

It’s probably easier to make your home office green than to tackle your employer’s practices.

Forty percent of municipal waste is still paper, so recycle and purchase only 100 percent postconsumer recycled content paper (available from Kinko’s or Bailey’s Printing if you outsource printing).

Don’t pay top dollar for new items when you can use UVA’s ROSE (recycled office supply exchange), Freecycle, or Craigslist, like Charlottesville resident Louisa Wimberger recently did for her home office. Recycling envelopes, using a return address stamp instead of labels, and double-sided printing save material and money, too.

Did you know laptops use 50-90 percent less energy than desktops? Sleep mode (found in the power options or power management control panel) is a must. But don’t use screensavers; they gobble the monitor’s full power. Eric Gilchrist, head of Charlottesville Community Design Center’s SPARK! energy-saving program, suggests a power strip to shut everything down at the end of the day. This eliminates any phantom energy use (the small amount of energy used when things are plugged in).

Beyond your office, become an advocate. “Bug the companies you work with to offer greener products,” says Wimberger. And if you’re a true green office, include a conservation plug: “Think twice before printing this” or  “Go green…read from the screen!”

Last thing: Don’t forget to save old office items for local schools or charities. Your old ink-jet cartridges actually earn money for schools.

Find more green office ideas on greenoffice.com.—Betty World Betty

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