Goal For The Green

Para-education and green living information

Archive for the ‘Sustainability’ Category

Every day people drop reusable bags from their purchases into the trash – or, worse, on the ground or in the water – without ever thinking about the contribution they’re making to the worldwide waste epidemic. Plastic bags, especially, have become a huge environmental problem since they were first introduced on a wide scale several decades ago.

Those sacks you use to tote your groceries home from the store spend minutes in your kitchen before being thrown away and forgotten – but they spend up to a thousand years in landfills or floating around in waterways and oceans. As widespread use of these receptacles has continued over the years, an overwhelming amount of essentially non-biodegradable waste has accumulated, harming the environment in numerous ways. If the use of these bags isn’t slowed, if not eliminated, the negative environmental impact may become overwhelming.

The good news is that businesses can benefit in big ways from making the transition to reusable bags. Making this shift may garner initial resistance from some consumers who are set in their ways, but the tide is turning when it comes to environmental awareness. Companies that are proactive about eliminating waste are likely to develop more positive brand associations in the minds of eco-conscious customers. Reusable bags can increase a brand’s visibility while conveying a socially responsible message that consumers and businesses are working together for the common good.

Read on to the infographic below to learn more about the benefits of transitioning away from disposable bags.

Infographic: Harness the Power of Brand Recognition
Click here for the full-sized image.

The Secret Life of Private Railways

Jul-7-2015 By Barbara Zak

Although seemingly hidden away from the eyes of the public, there are thousands of private railways in the U.S. Most of these private lines are industrial in nature. Some of the major groups with private rail lines include agriculture, chemical, mining, power production, and the steel industry.

They take no passengers and the public has no reason to ever see them. Additionally, even if someone does see such a !ine, in many cases, there is no reason it should be recognized as anything private. Most Americans simply assume rail lines are public and there is very little written about the topic of private rail lines. Thus, private lines often go unnoticed.

In spite of the fact that private rails are typically quite short, usually just a few miles, many private lines have more than one locomotove in use. Although there are still lines that use cables, winches and pulleys to move their cars, gravity operations have largely fallen out of use. Most companies need more direct control over their equipment than this method provides. Thus, most modern locomotives are ones with an internal power source, often a diesel engine.

Believe it or not, just like a car battery can die and need a jump start, so can the battery of a locomotive. With a locomotive, no, it is not practicable to pull another engine up to it and use jumper cables to connect them, then give new life to the dead battery via a still live engine. So what does happen when some enormous locomotive engine dies? One answer is that a railroad locomotive starter can be brought in. This is a portable power supply to get the battery jump started again.

Time is money and private rail lines consist of very expensive equipment. Businesses simply cannot afford to let their private rails be idle for long periods. Thus, this is no time to make a phone call and wait for someone to show up. This is a time to have the power on hand that the company needs. It is not very different from using a lithium twin pack to do the same thing for a dead plane engine, a practice that seems to be more widely known.

The next time you see track in an odd place, remember that this might be a private line. They very often hide in plain sight.

Compostable Bowls

Jul-4-2015 By Barbara Zak

Modern life is filled with modern conveniences. Unfortunately, many of those conveniences come with a price we would rather not pay. They can provide a low quality experience when you use them and, very often, you also get to feel guilty about the environment afterwards.

Let’s say your boss has tasked you with throwing a soup party at the office, There is no means to wash a bunch of dishes afterwards. Besides, these are your co-workers, not your children. Cleaning up after them is not really part of your job duties, even if when you are asked to organize an event. There is a modern convenience to solve this problem: Disposable bowls.

The problem is that if you get Styrofoam bowls and put hot soup in them, you can actually see how the Styrofoam melts from the heat and you can taste how it has contaminated the food. Even if you do not believe that has negative health consequences, who on earth actually likes the taste of Styrofoam? It makes for a lousy dining experience to have your soup with a little bit of Styrofoam flavoring. Afterwards, you get to feel guilty about what you are doing to the environment.

Alternately, you could get plastic bowls. They are more heat tolerant in that they are less likely to melt or off-gas. They also have no insulation, so holding a disposable plastic bowl full of hot soup is a good way to get burned. They also do not solve the issue of guilt. Plastic is also something that will do bad things to the environment after it arrives at a landfill.

Another alternative is paper bowls. They are better insulated than plastic, will not leave behind a chemical taste, and there is some hope they will properly biodegrade when they go to the landfill. This sounds like a winner, until you actually throw your party and discover that paper has a bad habit of not holding up well when wet. This is a potential disaster of a party.

The superior answer here is compostable bowls made from sustainable materials like bamboo. They will hold up well when filled with hot soup. Like paper bowls, they have natural insulation to protect your fingers from the heat, and there will be no chemical taste added to your food. Furthermore, when they get to the landfill, they will properly and fully biodegrade. Problem solved.