Green News Archives

Why FedEx Envelopes Are Smart and Eco-Friendly

FedEx Encourages You To Reuse Their Recycled Envelopes.

Picture of FedEx Eco-Friendly Envelope

So I’m getting a bank loan and the guy sends some forms for me to sign via FedEx. He says just sign the forms and change the label on the envelope and send it back to him. I got the FedEx envelope and pulled the strip to open it and expected to have to tape the envelope closed to send it back (What? I haven’t used FedEx in a while).

Well after opening the envelope I saw that FedEx puts a second strip of adhesive under the flap so all you have to do is pull off the liner to reseal the envelope. Smart.

Back of FedEx Eco-Friendly EnvelopeSo What’s The Point?

Ok, I can see by the copyright date that this envelope has been around since at least 2009 ( I told you I haven’t used FedEx in a while) but it’s still worth pointing out. This is a great example of a company making small changes that save resources and actually save them money and make the user experience better.

Since we all know that people don’t always go out of their way to do the right thing FedEx makes it a no-brainer to reuse their envelopes. To get your attention they write “Reusable Envelope” on the front in huge letters. Then, after you pull the tab and open the flap you see the words “Reuse this envelope if it is in good condition”. Finally, by putting that extra strip of adhesive under the flap they practically guarantee that the envelope will be reused.

Everybody Wins.

The consumer saves time by not having to get a new envelope or even a strip of packing tape to seal the used envelope. FedEx saves money by not having to produce and store as many new envelopes. The environment wins since making fewer envelopes conserves resources. And on top of that the envelopes are made from 100% recycled content.

This is why I get so frustrated when I hear politicians crying about how environmentalist are hurting businesses. More often than not, when companies implement changes that have less of an impact on the environment they end up saving money in the process.

Green Links of the Week – February 19, 2011

Here are some of the most interesting eco-positive stories I ran across this week.

And yes, I know I call this “Green Links” and the links on this page are actually blue, but when the links were green they were hard to see. So we’ll just have to let it go. Ok?

Yahoo! Green tells us Nine Things We Need to Know before Buying and Electric Car. I’m pretty excited about the momentum electric cars are having these days. After state and federal rebates the prices for electric cars are getting pretty reasonable. It still may not get me into a Tesla but a Nissan Leaf is looking pretty attractive.

EcoGeek has info on a New Cement that’s Carbon Negative. Traditional cement creates a lot of carbon emissions, both in the manufacturing process and the material itself. Now there’s a new formula for cement that not only takes less energy to produce but actually binds CO2 during production.

Vases Made From Recycled materials are an easy crafty thing to make. These Insolit vases designed by Béatrix Li-Chin LOOS are maybe a bit on the pretentious side as they’re supposedly inspired by the planets of the universe but they are kind of cool looking. Check them out and get inspired to make your own creations. -Inhabitat shares it’s picks for the Best Commuter Bikes For 2011.

SimpleOrganic gives some great tips on The Wonders of Coconut Oil. I still remember when coconut oil was vilified for being high in saturated fat. The campaign against it ruined movie popcorn (in my opinion). Well as you probably know, sometimes more study is needed. Turns out coconut oil can now be seen as an essential element to a healthy diet due to its antiviral, antifungal and antimicrobial properties.

Is There Really Lead In Reusable Shopping Bags?

Superman Can’t Spy on My Groceries

Remember when you checked out of a grocery store and the cashier asked, “Paper or plastic?” Now the question could very well be “Leaded or unleaded”.

Real Green Girl posted about a recent study that found that many of those non-woven polypropylene shopping bags so prominently displayed at check-outs contain high levels of lead. The study tested 71 bags and inserts and found lead levels well above the legal limits in 21 of the bags. The lead was found mainly in inserts which sounds similar to the problem insulated lunch boxes had a few years ago. Before all the “Lead Free” labels started appearing on them.

Full Disclosure…

Although the study did find lead in some bags there’s a bit of conflict of interest going on here. The study was carried out by the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF). They previously did a study warning of the dangers of harmful chemicals and bacteria in reusable plastic bags. Their findings from that study were debunked by Consumer Reports. The CCF, it turns out, is a lobbying firm initially setup with money from Phillip Morris and has campaigned against the Centers for Disease Control, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving to name a few.

So why would they want to discredit reusable plastic bags? Well, the CCF works with the American Chemistry Council, the top plastics industry lobbying group in the country. And they would prefer you use their new disposable plastic bags once and recycle them (or not) rather than use reusable bags over and over again. That’s why they lobby against bans and fees on plastic bags all over the country.

So What Do We Do?

Recycled Cotton Canvas Tote

Recycled Canvas Tote Bag

Conspiracy theories aside, according to the Center for Environmental Health there really is a danger of high lead levels in some reusable plastic shopping bags. But even if there wasn’t I’d still avoid those bags. Aside from the fact that they’re still plastic, they’re not heavy duty and don’t inspire confidence when you load them up. I got one for free when a natural market opened up near me and the bottom fell out less than a month later. Bleh.

I have two canvas tote bags that I’ve been using for over two years and they’re still going strong. I can load them up to the point where I can barely lift them and the handles take the weight easily. And if they ever do wear out I can compost them.

So avoid the cheap, reusable polypropylene bags and get yourself a nice canvas tote or two. That way you can load up your bags with the knowledge that they won’t break any time soon or possibly cause brain damage.

Real Green Girl
USA Today – Test Find High Levels of Lead in Reusable Shopping Bags
Center for Environmental Health
Center for Consumer Freedom
Consumer Reports-Can reusable grocery bags make you sick, or is that just baloney?
Wikipedia – Center for Consumer Freedom History

Green Links of the Week – Jan. 16, 2011

Here are some of the most interesting eco-positive stories I ran across this week.

And yes, I know I call this “Green Links” and the links on this page are actually blue, but when the links were green they were hard to see. So we’ll just have to let it go. Ok?

1. Tesla Model X SUV Prototype Will be Unveiled in 2011. Yay! Another Tesla to fantasize about that I can’t afford. But later in the article they report on Tesla developing cars in the $30,000 price range in 4 or 5 years. Still more than I want to spend but it’s a promising drop in price.

2. Bike Projects Create Twice as Many Jobs Per Dollar Spent Than Road Work. Yeah but bikes don’t use oil so I’m betting Republicans still won’t like the idea.

3. Find Unexpected Treasures at Your Local Landfill. Mother Earth News takes dumpster diving to a whole new level.

4. Why and How to Keep Monsanto Out of Your Garden this Spring

5. Coffee, Sex, and Other Weird Ways to Not Get Sick. Kissing can help you fight off colds and flu! By exchanging bacteria back and forth, you are actually enhancing your body’s natural defenses and boosting your immune system. Goes against conventional wisdom huh?

Green Links of the Week – Jan 9 2011

Here are some of most interesting, useful, fun green links of the week:

1. The Top 5 Greenest Gadgets from CES 2011

Mike Chino from Inhabitat gives his take on the Top 5 Greenest Gadgets from the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show that ran from January 6-9 in Las Vegas.

2. Disposable Chopstick Tree in China

The China Environmental Protection Foundation created a life-size sculpture of a chopped down tree out of 30,000 used disposable chopsticks.  They’re trying to educate people about the real cost of using 45 Billion pairs of disposable chopsticks a year.

I personally have kept “disposable” wooden chopsticks for years. I just wash them and reuse them. It’s no different from how I use a cutting board. Can you imagine throwing out a cutting board after one use?

3. The Legendary Parrot Who Saved His Species Dies at 80

Richard Henry was the name of one of the last members of a species of flightless parrot native to New Zealand called the kakapo. His discovery in 1975 helped scientists add some much needed genetic diversity into a small group of the birds found on a different island and helped bring the species back from the brink of extinction. It’s an interesting and hopeful story.

4. EPA vetoes water permit for W.Va. mountaintop mine

Assistant Administrator for Water Peter S. Silva said the agency was employing a rarely used veto power because Arch Coal’s Spruce No. 1 mine in Logan County would use “destructive and unsustainable” mining practices.

It’s nice to see the EPA actually doing it’s job again.

5. Tweaking Flight Paths and Landings Can Cut Airline Fuel Use by 15 Percent

Southwest Airlines has rolled out a new set of guidelines for flight paths and landings for its aircraft at 11 airports that has resulted in fuel savings of five to 15 percent per flight.

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