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October 2009

10/30/2009

Green Fun: Theme Parks With Environmental Initiatives

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Themepark Disneyland Resort, California: This wonderful resort has won the 2009 Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA), California's highest and most prestigious environmental honor. By "recycling" large amounts of water rather than draining it into the ocean, powering steam trains with kitchen grease, and opening a bakery that's complete eco-paradise, Disneyland Resort is furthering Walt Disney's environmental legacy.

Nickelodeon Family Suites, Florida: This family-friendly hotel in Orlando was recognized with a Green Lodging Certification. Nick achieved its green lodging status by using reusable dining items, encouraging the reuse of bath towels and linens, establishing a volunteer green committee, reimbursing employees for public bus passes and installing energy-efficient lighting throughout the property.

Six Flags, North America: If the world's largest regional themepark is realizing they need to take aggressive steps to preserve and protect the environment for future generations, the "fun" industry must be changing face. Resulting from a partnership with Coca-Cola's Recycling branch, 3,000 recycling bins have been placed in each of the 20 Six Flags theme parks. At four parks, all vehicles and trains that operate on diesel fuel will instead be powered by used vegetable oil generated in Six Flags kitchens.

(Sources: Disneyland Resort, Nick Hotel, Six Flags)

For more eco-friendly travel advice, visit RTM's Earth Tones section.

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10/29/2009

Halloween Night: Eat the Candy, Save the Wrapper

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Halloween candy Having a no impact Halloween means nothing gets thrown out or wasted - but there's a lot of garbage involved in this holiday. Here's some ideas for taking care of all the candy wrappers sure to accumulate.

If you're taking a child trick-or-treating, make sure they throw the wrappers from the candy they've eaten back into the bag, not on the street or in peoples' yards as you're walking around the neighborhood. Make a game out of picking up other candy wrappers - say you'll give them a nickel per candy wrapper they find, or if they get a hundred of them they can have a homemade candy apple at home.

Once you're home, keep all the candy wrappers in one place - a see-through jar or bin would make it more fun - and send them in to Terracycle for upcycling after all the candy's finally been opened. This can also be made into a fun game - kids can figure out which candy they got the most of, or at the end try to guess how many wrappers are in the jar. You could even have them count the candy right after trick or treating and then reward them if they match an equal amount of wrappers in the jar.

Terracycle will then take these wrappers and make them into materials for backpacks, tote bags, cell phone holders and laptop sleeves. You can join Terracycle's Mars/Wrigley candy wrapper brigade for free and all of your postage needs are covered. Proceeds from the products made with your wrappers are donated to the charity of your choice - each approved candy wrapper earns 2 cents. You can even get an entire school involved by setting up a drop-off location - that could be a LOT of candy wrappers!

Picture: flickr.com/photos/tinfoilraccoon/ / CC BY 2.0

For more green living advice from RTM, visit our Earth Tones section.

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10/28/2009

How to Install Your Way to Better Energy Bills

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Ceiling fan Whether you’re more concerned about saving precious natural resources or some money on your bills, you can do both by implementing these easy practices in your home:

 

Installing Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs: One CFL bulb will save about $30 over its lifetime, and pay for itself in about 6 months. It uses 75% less energy and lasts about 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb.

 

Use energy-efficient window treatments: Install solar shades, thermal blinds, or drapery panels to keep it cool during the summer and warmer in winter.

 

Clean with non-toxic products: First of all, when you flush biodegradable ingredients down the sink, they won’t pollute the water systems. Also, ingredients in eco-friendly products like Seventh Generation or Simple Green are derivatives of plants, which are renewable resources.

 

Use fans to circulate air: When a heating or cooling system has trouble reaching all parts of your home, a ceiling fan or a few fans effectively placed are more efficient than blasting the heat or A/C.

 

Buy recycled paper products: Standard white coffee filters require a bleaching process which unnecessarily pollutes the environment. Opt for brown unbleached filters and purchase paper products that have recycled content.

 

See, easy! Check out RTM's Earth Tones section for even more tips.

 

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10/27/2009

Five Things Hotels Can and Should Do to Go Green

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Hotel room If you haven't noticed, green hotels are springing up all over the place and even mainstream chains are refining their practices. Here's what they're doing and what to look for in a responsible stay.

1. Redecorating or building with more sustainable materials: Bamboo flooring, straw bale walls, and solar panel roofing? We like.

2. Making partnerships with green programs: Hotels can partner with green tourism companies like Save Your World to become greener with guidance.

3. Using high-tech thermostats: You’re on vacation; do you really want to sit in the hotel room the entire time? While travelers are out and about, some hotels use climate control sensors to lower usage of A/C or heating.

4. Partaking in the Global Soap Project: Hotels replace every bar of soap in every room, every day, no matter if it’s even been touched. Some hotels (about 40) aren’t throwing theirs away, but donating them to non-profit group The Global Soap Project. Bars of soap are collected, sterilized, reshaped, and redistributed to Ugandan refugee camps.

5. Stocking organic wines: Pesticide-free anything is on the right track to more sustainable consumption. Keep the luxury, lose the chemicals.

For more information about green hotels, visit RTM's Earth Tones section.

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10/26/2009

What Recyclables Do You Actually Recycle?

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What recyclables Just because your recycling service doesn't take an item, that doesn't mean it's not recyclable. For example, you have to take batteries to a special place (usually an electronics store) for recycling. Are you really recycling everything you can, or are recyclables hiding in your garbage bags?

Aseptic (paper/foil juice) containers: Difficult for normal recycling companies to recycle, BRING Recycling in Eugene, Oregon will accept them. Ship to BRING Recycling, Reuse Warehouse & Business Office, 86641 Franklin Boulevard, Eugene, OR 97405; (541) 746-3023.

Rechargeable batteries: RadioShack and Office Depot accept batteries from wireless phones, laptop computers, camcorders, cordless power tools, digital cameras and radio-controlled toys.

iPods: Take advantage of Apple's iPod recycling program and you'll save 10% on a newer purchase that day. Just bring your old one to any Apple store.

Aluminum cans: See if your favorite charity or any fundraisers are collecting them to raise money.

Plastic bags: Take your collection back to the store - many grocery stores or supercenters like Wal-Mart have convenient recepticles for used plastic bags.

Printer cartridges: If you know of a local cartridge store, chances are they can re-fill your old cartridge.

Try Earth911.com's recycling center search engine to figure how to recycle anything else.

For more green living advice, visit RTM's Earth Tones section.

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10/23/2009

Documentary Review: Waste = Food

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By Sara Hoffman

Wa Have you ever wondered what was going on deep inside the business and design world to inspire the creation of a greener product? For example, what exactly makes it so much more environmentally friendly than its predecessor? The answers are enlightening. “Waste=Food” focuses on two outstanding green innovators: William McDonough, an American architect and Michael Braungart, a German chemist and former Greenpeace activist. They're the authors of Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, a book which describes their plan for saving the world from too much waste.

McDonough, the American architect, designer and engineer, describes waste simply as “a very bad business proposition” – it doesn’t make financial sense for companies like Ford Motor Company, Nike and Herman Miller to dispose of raw materials and then go buy new ones to make more products. McDonough said, “The fundamental transformation will occur because of economic forces. It won’t be because of some moral issue of some technical revelation. It will be because waste is basically stupid.”

The waste=food concept comes simply from nature: in nature, waste is no problem because waste is food for growth. The idea works for McDonough and Braungart because they also focus on the economic advantages of making products to be reusable or biodegradable. In helping Herman Miller Furniture Company build a chair that is easy to disassemble; this in turn made the assembly process go more quickly. The need for raw materials is also smaller as they now can re-use the material from the chairs returned to them.

Did you know that it takes 50,000 pounds of raw material to make a 3,000 pound car? Product producers like Ford now are now realizing how nonsensical statistics like these are. The renovation of the River Rouge Ford Plant, which may now look like an environmental utopia, actually saved Ford $35 million dollars. Making business sense out of sustainability (a term Braungart deems “the bare minimum – you wouldn’t want to call the relationship with your girlfriend just sustainable, would you?”) is a most important part of this green revolution.  “I don’t have time for dreamers,” said Bill Ford of his rather newfound appreciation for environmentalism. The cradle to cradle plan is already implemented on a large scale, around the world.

To see the brilliant and inspirational documentary yourself, click here.
To buy Cradle to Cradle, the book explaining McDonough and Braungart’s world-sweeping brainstorm, click here.

For more film reviews from RTM, visit the Earth Tones section.

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10/22/2009

The Most Eco-Friendly International Hostels

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038Hostels are such an exquisitely wonderful concept for tourists, especially minimalist or environmentalist ones. Staying somewhere that gets the job done – i.e., gives you a place to sleep - for cheap, is ideal when you’ve got better things to see and do than enjoy a luxury hotel room. These ones are so charming and inspirationally green that they are an ideal place to sleep regardless of what your wallet can afford.

Rural Serenity


Omagh Hostel: Omagh, Northern Ireland - A small, remote, family-run hostel that offers visitors the greenest of accommodations, evidenced when they received the prestigious EU Flower Ecolabel in the tourist accommodation category. Their recycling, composting and green purchasing policy and eco-friendly reed beds makes this hostel as green as the country it is part of! Dorm beds from £12.50, Private Room from £30.00


Reykjavik City Hostel: Reykjavik, Iceland - Iceland is a country steeped in tremendous icecaps, explosive geysers, steaming solfataras (volcanic areas that give off sulfurous gases and steam) and magnificent waterfalls. Reykjavik City Hostel, located next to one of the great geothermal swimming holes in the city, promotes energy monitoring, erosion control and extensive recycling services. Room rates, in ISK, cover single bed rooms to 6+private rooms.


Urban Bustle


Hostelling International: Washington DC, USA - Just eight blocks from the White House, HI is the greenest place to stay in the city. The carpets are made from recycled materials, there are no disposable products in the kitchen, and it promotes its commitment to being a positive force on environmental issues by showing environmental documentaries once a month. The sociable atmosphere makes this hostel stand out – the rooms range from classic dorms to luxury private rooms, there’s a delicious free breakfast, lively events calendar, bike rental and TV room with a library of DVDs to watch. Dorm-style rooms are $35-$45 per person, per night, plus a $3 HI membership.

High Street Hostel: Edinburgh, Scotland- Edinburgh may be a bustling city, but in High Street Hostel it boasts something very special in environmental terms. The hostel, you see, claims to be 100% carbon neutral. That’s right – a fun, vibrant hostel in a city that leaves no carbon footprint whatsoever. And it’s a claim that High Street Hostel backs up. Not only does it source its electricity from renewable and non-nuclear supplies, but it also owns and maintains 75 hectare woodland that absorbs more than the hostel’s total CO2 emissions.

Rooms start at £13 a night.


Stay tuned for the best tropical eco-hostels!

Visit RTM's environmentally-themed travel section,
Earth Tones.

 

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10/21/2009

"SKY" Technology: Mazda's Eco-Revolution

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Car_photo_336064_7 Japanese car company Mazda has done some incredible work towards making vehicles more earth-friendly that can’t be ignored. With two eco-prototypes hitting car shows this year: the Kiyora and the Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid, Mazda’s progressivism is undeniable.

 

While some parts of Mazda’s futuristic city car are set to appear in future Mazda models, the stylish vehicle is only a study. Innovative systems for the concept car include its high-tech solar roof which powers the cabin and a rainwater cleansing system which makes water drinkable. The Japanese Mazda Kiyora model, which is so cute and ovalescent it almost looks like a skittle, is being shown at this month’s Tokyo Motor Show for the first time. Mazda’s stop-start technology, regenerative braking and slippery aerodynamics combined with new SKY technology could deliver 75 mpg for the car.

 

Mazda will also display the two SKY engines and the Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid vehicle, which is already in use by Japanese government agencies. The Premacy uses a hydrogen-burning rotary engine hybrid system.

 

For more auto outlook from RTM, visit our Planet Driven section.

 

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10/20/2009

The Top Five Most Progressive & Eco-Friendly Airlines

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Greenairlines The airline industry has made a pledge to cut emissions in half by 2050, according to earthtimes.org, to force the development of greener technology. Some airlines have gone even further by pioneering their eco-friendly technologies, techniques, and policies. Here are the five most eco-friendly airlines at the moment:

 

1. EasyJet plans to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2015, though their passenger/flight efficiency made possible by using smaller airports and filling flights all the way allows them to emit 27% less carbon than normal airlines already. Installation of new, more energy efficient engines on all of their Airbus 319’s will cut the mono-nitrogen oxide emissions by 25%.

2. Nature Air, Costa Rica’s national airline, was built on a 100% carbon-neutral aviation program. The airline developed Costa Rica’s only biodiesel fueling station, aiming to be climate-neutral by 2021.

3. Lufthansa began considering the environment as early as the ‘70’s. Installing more than 20,000 lighter seats on aircrafts in 2006 saved 12,000 tons of CO2 in one year alone. Now, the airline plans to use at least 10% bio-fuel for flying and adopt new technologies and rules that will cut carbon dioxide emissions by 25% by 2020.

4. Virgin Airlines began a specific deal with aircraft supplier Boeing to order only eco-friendly aircrafts called Dreamliners, which use 20% less fuel per passenger on board than other similarly sized planes.

5. Continental Airlines is beginning to experiment with bio fuel, and recently replaced a large chunk of their fleet with more energy-efficient planes. Installing winglets on all Boeing 737 and 757’s reduced emissions by 5%, gave Continental a jump start.  

 

Book your flight accordingly!

 

For more eco-travel news, visit RTM's Earth Tones page.

 

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10/19/2009

The Craze: Exploring America's National Parks

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By Sara Hoffman

Crop It couldn't possibly be a better time to write our Road & Travel Magazine National Parks Guide for October. I just returned from the Grand Teton National park right next door to Yellowstone; also Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan's PBS series and DVD set "National Parks - America's Best Idea"  just came out, and the green media won't stop talking about it.

However, a debate ensues: in his article, "Don't Be a National Park Bagger," writer Keith Goetzman of Utne Reader brought up the fact that Duncan's decision to visit all 58 National Parks in his lifetime was unreasonable and non-environmentalist. Duncan's article, "Collect 'Em All," for Sierra magazine, clearly exposes his passion for the park and for preserving nature, but Duncan's missing one thing: Goetzman's insightful and yielding respect for nature:

"Now, with the reality of climate change hitting full force, I see that even if I had the means, visiting all my dream destinations just wouldn’t be right, and that in some ways staying close to home is the best way to honor the earth. So yes, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that there are some national parks I will never see, and that photo or video images will be my only acquaintance with them."

While the PBS documentary, and Duncan's story of taking his family on a journey to see all of America's National Parks, certainly proves National Parks to be one of America's best ideas, the "collect 'em all" approach isn't to nature's benefit. As Goetzman wrote, it should not inspire others to follow in Duncan's footprints - just getting to know one national park in depth or even being part of preserving an untouched area close to home are sufficient win-win situations that wallets and the world can afford.

For more information, see the Leave No Trace Principles for no-impact visits to natural sites, or read about RTM's article on National Parks in Utah, America's playgound.

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