Wednesday, December 30, 2009

David Bach’s
Go Green, Live Rich
50 Simple Ways to Save the Earth and Get Rich Trying

Reviewed by Amy Behlke

In this time of economic crisis, many people want to help the environment, but fear they cannot afford to. There is often a concern that being eco-conscious is more expensive than just doing things “the old way.” A quick and easy read, David Bach’s Go Green, Live Rich is full of information, ideas and suggestions for leading a more eco-friendly life while saving, and maybe even making, money at the same time.

To get started, Bach helps readers calculate their carbon footprint and “litter factor” in terms of personal impact on the environment. Things that many people don’t even think about on a daily basis, can add up to a serious blow to the planet. Plastic water bottles and wax-lined paper cups used to hold that daily dose of caffeine can add up, and will sit in the landfill for forever.

The eleven chapters in the book are very quick to read, yet packed with interesting facts and ideas. In chapter 2, “Drive Smart, Finish Rich,” I learned that by driving a car that gets 35 mpg as opposed to a car that gets 20 mpg, you can save $884 per year in fuel costs. Bach, being a financial professional, suggests that if that $884 were invested at 8%, it would earn a return of over $108,000 in 30 years. Now that is some serious fuel savings!!

Becoming more aware of your home’s energy usage, saving water, green shopping strategies and recycling are all discussed; with the focus being not only on how to do these things, but how to save or earn money while doing them. Going green in the workplace is often a topic overlooked on a day-to-day basis, but Bach provides easy tips and ideas for making eco-friendly choices in your daily job. Chapters ten and eleven spotlight ways to give and receive in “green” ways. Investment and business ideas are provided, including some interesting links to “green” direct-sales businesses. Many environmental focused causes are cited, along with information about carbon off-sets and how to become an eco-activist.

Each chapter ends with “Go Green Action Steps,” full of great ideas and resources. These suggestions are easy to follow and full of links and other sources where further information can be found. There is also an amazing and well organized index at the back of the book, listing all sources cited in the book by chapter. I love this section because, with so many great links and resources mentioned in the book, I didn’t have to leaf every page and thumb through endlessly to find sites I wanted to visit after reading the chapters. Every interesting fact and statistic is listed by chapter with a short description of the source as well as a link when applicable.

Overall, I found David Bach’s Go Green, Live Rich and enjoyable and helpful book for anyone interested in learning how they can make changes in their lives that will help them tread more lightly on the earth while saving money at the same time. In this time of economic uncertainty, we are all interested in how to protect our investments and increase our income, and Bach’s book delivers with great suggestions for how to do both and help save the planet at the same time.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


The winter issue of Community Seeds Eco Magazine is here! Take a moment and check it out! There are many articles on green tips for the winter and community connections.
Excerpt From Fake vs Real: Which Christmas Trees are Greenest? by Melissa Breyer from

I wonder if it’s time to join the 29 million American households who will buy a fresh cut tree this year? Or should I opt for an artificial tree?

Petroleum is used to make the plastics in the trees and lots of carbon dioxide-creating energy is required to make and transport them–and they are difficult to recycle. In addition, three out of four fake trees are made in China under less than favorable labor conditions. Fake trees made in China are required by California Proposition 65 to carry a scary warning label for lead content. The potential for lead poisoning is serious and frightening. Most artificial Christmas trees are made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride)—often referred to as vinyl, as well as “the poison plastic.” According to the Campaign for Safe, Healthy Consumer Products, PVC is dangerous to human health and the environment throughout its entire life cycle, at the factory, in our homes, and in the trash. Our bodies are contaminated with poisonous chemicals released during the PVC life cycle, such as mercury, dioxins, and phthalates, which may pose irreversible lifelong health threats. When produced or burned, PVC plastic releases dioxins, a group of the most potent synthetic chemicals ever tested, which can cause cancer and harm the immune and reproductive systems.

Nowadays almost all of the nearly 30 million Christmas trees Americans use for decoration are grown on farms—like flowers, or vegetables. Not to be the Grinch here, but when you consider the use of water, pesticides and herbicides, in combination with soil erosion and the energy used to maintain the crop and transport the trees, well, I don’t know.

On the other hand, the trees are renewable, provide habitat for wild animals, absorb carbon dioxide and create oxygen, and the industry provides many jobs. Still mass agriculture is mass agriculture, so if you decide on a fresh cut tree follow these tips.

• Try to buy an organic Christmas tree.
• Buy from smaller, local farms to reduce transportation miles and support a small, sustainable operation.
• Recycle your tree! Check your local municipality to see if there is Christmas tree recycling near you.
• Don’t use tinsel or fake snow spray; they are hard to remove and make your tree ineligible for recycling.

See the article on a local Paradise tree farm on page 34 at

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Winter Issue preparations..

Hello everyone,

Community Seeds Eco Magazine is planning for the winter 2009-2010 issue. We have brainstormed a bit and have come up with a tentative themes for the winter issue: social responsibility.

We would love to know what you are doing to be more green and tips you can give others in our community.

As you might know, our magazine is a forum for the public to come together for a common cause. We would like to encourage our readers to send in an article that would be informative to other readers.

We would also like to encourage local businesses, as well as non-local businesses, with websites to place an ad with us. Our magazine is quarterly, so your ad would run for 3 months. We are one of the cheapest ways to advertise that you will find, and we are targeting a different market: internet users. In the event that you don’t need the advertising, you could also become a sponsor! Being a sponsor is a great way to get involved in a worthwhile cause and as a sponsor you will receive a great deal of exposure.

The deadline to place your ad, become a sponsor, or send in an article is October 25, 2009 so mark your calendars!

For more information, please visit our website at: or send us an email at: .

Thank you for taking the time to read this and we hope you are having a fabulous day!

-Community Seeds Eco Magazine

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Low Hanging Fruit
By Greg Holman

The "Green" Craze

Okay, so there is this "green" craze out there, but I am a bit more pessimistic. Sure, I want to save the earth, but environmentalism has had some bad press over the years. People today are extremely busy and going green often seems like it would interfere with everything that has to get done. Well, let me tell you that there are some changes you can make, with little to no investment in money or time, that can make a difference - and cents! The easiest thing you can do at home is to start composting. This is the "low hanging fruit" of being green. This takes very little time, and ultimately can end up saving you money. How will it save you money? You can eventually downsize your garbage container, and then stop driving to the store every spring to buy organic soil for your plants. Interested? Read on.

Compost can take place in as simple as a pile, to as complex as an indoor compost machine. Your pile will depend on many factors, including your living situation and the space available. Convert one of your now obsolete trash cans into "compost bins." If you do not think that you can dump it daily, get something with a lid. (Again, reuse a coffee can, or work your way up to a ceramic container with an odor filter.)
According to an excerpt from Let it Rot!: A Gardener’s Guide to Composting, this is the number one rule for composting: The realization that no matter what you do, no matter how many little mistakes you make, you are still probably going to come up with reasonably good, usable compost.

Truth Be Told
This is so very true. Your container can be a fancy commercial container, a primitive chicken wire cylinder with two metal posts, or as simple as a compost pile. Begin by adding the "greens" (lawn clippings, and other green scraps) and the "browns" (coffee grounds and dead leaves) in equal parts - six to 8 inch layers of each. Try to keep the pile as moist as a rung-out sponge. If all goes well, the pile will heat up and decompose over the course of a few months. All you need to do is turn it and check moisture levels weekly.

Now truth be told, I never turn my pile, and seldom water it (unless it is raining). It comes down to a few things: space and effort. We happen to have some space for a compost pile, and I have little time for any effort above adding to the pile. Sure, it takes a few more months to make compost, but I am in no hurry.

I strongly suggest purchasing a copy of Let it Rot!(ISBN-10:1580170234). This will give numerous examples of bins, lists of acceptable and not-acceptable ingredients, and the scientific explanation for anyone interested.

The only hurdle is to make it part of your daily routine. You have no space for a compost pile? Talk with neighbors and make a common compost pile out of an unused corner. You will be surprised how much you can divert from your waste stream! You might even need to move to a smaller, cheaper trash container. Sure, you are saving the world, but more importantly, money! (Or do I have that backwards?) For now, reach up and grab that low hanging fruit!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Community Seeds FALL 2009 issue is HERE!!

The fall issue of Community Seeds Eco Magazine is here so check it out! There's a lot of great information and tips on how to be more Eco friendly. Best of all- IT'S FREE!!

You are definitely going to want to check out these helpful articles for more information: Reasons to go Green on page 12, What is Actually Recyclable on page 14, Going Solar on page 22, and Home-made Rain Barrel Systems on page 26.

You might also enjoy the article about Restored Clothing on page 30, how to get away closer to home with the Turtle Bay Exploration Park article on page 64, and the Gorgeously Green Diet Book review as well as some healthy, yummy recipes on pages 76 & 77.

There is so much more to look at so check it out at,

Here is some food for thought: According to, a local reusable bag manufacturer, each year the United States consumes 30 billion plastic and 10 billion paper grocery bags, requiring 14 million trees and 12 million barrels of oil. In addition, the average American uses 300 to 700 plastic bags per year. If everyone in the United States tied their annual consumption of plastic bags together in a giant chain, the chain would reach around the Earth 760 times! Those statistics are scary if you ask me, but it starts with you and your commitment to the environment around you...

So please remember when shopping to bring your reusable shopping bags because it starts with the little things that make the big difference! You are in charge of your future and the future of our earth.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Green Revolution
By DeAnna Holman

I still receive a lot of feedback about my eco friendly grandma (I wrote about her in an article in the fall 2008 issue of Community Seeds Eco Magazine at Many agree that being green seems to be a new term, but not a new concept. People have told me that they, too, remember growing up being environmentally friendly, but not realizing it. Others recalled their parents or grandparents acting conservatively, regardless of economic status. Being green doesn’t appear to be a new concept, but being wasteful or unaware, does.

Many fear the “green” revolution will keep them from having the luxuries they are used to. They are resistant to change and sometimes the extra effort it takes to be greener. Fortunately, if everyone made an easy, small change toward a more eco-friendly lifestyle, it would be good for the environment and the pocketbook. As a country, adopting this new (or old) idea can be good for our environmental and economic future.

Author, and former White House Reporter Thomas L. Friedman, feels that people need to realize that going green is the best thing for the earth and the U.S. In an interview with Reader’s Digest (, the Pulitzer Prize winner states, “To me, going green is the great challenge- and opportunity- of the 21st century.”

Friedman feels that going green should not be a reaction to the global warming theory, but rather a necessity to preserve our resources as the world population grows. Friedman goes on to say, “In our lifetime, the population of the earth will have tripled. The demand for resources, the demand for energy, the demand for goods and services, will be so enormous that having clean power, efficient power systems and smart grids is going to be a huge advantage in the world we’re going into-even if global warming doesn’t exist at all.”

Friedman’s book, Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution-and How It Can Renew America (an update of his book The World is Flat), examines the advantages of going green and how conservation and climate change affect our future and the future of politics. He explains how globalization and a green movement can be a great thing for the future, in spite of any possible climate changes.

I have enjoyed the responses from the readers of Community Seeds Eco Magazine. Many appreciate articles about being greener, the articles from the community about being green and the articles about being socially and community aware. The responses have inspired me to be more informed on these subjects and have helped me on my green journey. All of us on this green path are at a different point, none of which is less important than the other. It is important to create a dialogue in which we can inform, educate and support one another as we each experience a green revolution of our own.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Summer Issue has Arrived!

The summer issue of Community Seeds Eco-Magazine is here!

Visit to see the full issue for free anytime. This summer's issue is focused on water- the importance of conservation, ideas for saving water in your home, great water bottles to carry with you, and more! As always, the issue is also jam packed full of tasty recipes to try, fun community photos, craft ideas and lots of tips on living a more sustainable lifestyle everyday.

Visit the site and view the summer issue!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Why Recycle?

By Jennifer Arbuckle, Written for

It is true that recycling can be costly, time consuming, and not as easy as throwing all your trash into one container. Literally, the behavioral meanings and implications of recycling fit rather poorly into standard economic theory. The American consumer found in the text books wants only to acquire the most stuff with the least effort, and would not comprehend that there is such a thing as “obviously enough:” five times the present standard of living would be better than four times but not as good as eight times as much. Recycling, unless adopted as an idiosyncratic hobby, would seem to be undertaken only in response to the kinds of economic incentives seen during World War Two. Fortunately, there is evidence that the world is not populated solely by such slothful gluttons.

The growing acceptance and expansion toward supporting recycling cannot be understood in terms of economic incentives alone. First we must understand that basic values and positions on public policy are not externalities waiting to be monetized. And second, while recycling is not always profitable in the short term, it is nonetheless a valid response to long-term environmental problems, which cannot be reduced to narrowly economic terms. Obviously, human needs would have to include much more than material sufficiency to obtain fulfillment; surely the good life includes the development of far more glorious capabilities than merely having lots of “stuff.” Should our goals not include an awareness and connection to our social and environmental context? The urge to recycle may be viewed as evidence of this broader connection, seen as a statement of responsiveness and responsibility toward one’s surroundings. In fact, recycling is one the most accessible, tangible symbols of such an awareness.

Recycling on its own is, actually, the minimum effort an individual can do to reduce their impact. The four R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and buy Recycle) are not in an undefined order, there is a purpose. Reducing the amount of waste you have is far more beneficial than having the same amount of waste and then reusing and recycling it. Reusing old clothes for rags or old milk cartons/ toilet paper rolls for art projects etc. is better than just recycling them because they serve another use, someone might learn something in the process, and in the end they’re recycled. There you have it, fun and education all in one, what’s better than that? Buying recycled products is part of “closing the loop,” which means buying recycling content products, using them and finally, recycling them back “into the loop” whenever possible.

Wait there’s more! There is a fifth R out there that provides the ironical cherry on top of the individual’s plight to reach sustainable living: Rot (i.e. composting). Rotting your kitchen scraps and yard waste is an easy diversion process that adds the side benefit of providing the best soil nature can provide. Put the myth of a stinking mound of ‘crap’ out of your uneducated mind and embrace the fact that this natural process smells merely of dirt! All you need is greens, browns, air, water, worms and boom: You’re a full fledged, aware, participant in the environment. Be happy, jump up and give a little “hip yip;” you’re on your way to being part of the solution not the problem.

Final facts: If it is a typical day in America; 368 million people will each throw away 4.4 pounds of trash, totaling 1,619,200,000 lbs of trash per day and 592,112,000,000 lbs per year; Making America the #1 trash producing county in the world at over 1,609 pounds per person per year. This means that Americans whom constitute only 5% of the world’s population generate 40% of the world’s trash.

Each day, 115 square miles of rainforests are destroyed, totaling 27 million acres per year. About 38.9% of the U.S. waste stream is paper. American’s throw away 44 million newspapers everyday. To produce each week’s Sunday newspapers, 500,000 trees must be cut down. If every American recycled just one-tenth of their newspapers, we would save about 25,000,000 trees a year. If every household reused a paper grocery bag for one shopping trip, about 60,000 trees would be saved. Until next issue of Community Seeds Eco Magazine (see it at, live well.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Being Green is Not a New Concept

My Eco Friendly Grandma
Being “Green” may be a new term, but it is not a new concept...Ask my grandma.
By DeAnna Holman

Last year, the magazine I publish, Community Seeds Eco Magazine, sponsored The Threshing Bee at the Patrick Ranch in Durham (As we will this year).While at our booth, I met great people, had great conversations, and learned a great deal. One sweet woman came to our booth and was interested in the magazine. She shared with me ways she has been “green” for over 40 years. Over 40 years! How can that be? It got me thinking about my grandma, now 95, and how she has actually been being “green” ever since I can remember. Actually, before I can remember because she tells me her stories, true stories.

My grandma did so many things to be kinder to the earth. She would always turn off the water when brushing her teeth and she would never leave a light on in an empty room. I remember she had fruit trees in her backyard and she used “natural” ways to keep pests off. She did not have access to many chemicals and she wasn’t interested in them anyway. Granted, she was living in Los Angeles and the pest problem was minimal, but still it is noteworthy. I remember she would bury compostable items in her yard to make “mulch” and I thought that was odd. Now, I am making compost or “mulch” and people are writing about it for my magazine! I remember her telling me time and time again how coffee grounds were so good for her roses. She had a bowl near her kitchen sink for composting materials and come to think of it, she had very little waste at all.

If my grandma did not finish a glass of water, she would dump the rest into a house plant. She never had a dry, wilting plant in the house. Those house plants emitting oxygen in her house was just another way she was being green. She has the smallest carbon footprint of anyone I know. She has even taken public transit or walked all of her life. She has always thought there is no need to get a car if you live in a city. I always thought she was being frugal, but she was simply not being wasteful.

Perhaps having parents that were immigrants from Russia helped my grandmother to be more conscious of wastefulness. Or maybe it was because of WWII and the hardships faced. Everyone around her worked, they had to ration food and necessities, and no one was wasteful. People appreciated the smallest of things. It may seem like it was a complicated time, but there was no TV, no clutter, no fast-pace rat race and no, “what’s in it for me” attitude. It was innate to reduce, reuse and recycle. It was not a chore to be eco-friendly, it was a way of life... Yes, over 40 years ago!

We can learn so much about being “green” from our grandparents and their grandparents. It would certainly be worth while to interview them about the ways they were less wasteful. And, although I always chuckle when my grandma tears a napkin in half to use the other half later, I now appreciate that small gesture.

For more articles like these, go to!

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Spring Issue Of Community Seeds

The Spring Issue Of Community Seeds Magazine is Packed Full of Good Stuff! Don't Miss it!

If you haven't had a chance to see the spring issue of Community Seeds Eco Magazine, be sure to check it out at! There are many articles about:

  • Making a small green contribution to your environment
  • Green spring cleaning
  • Organizing your photos
  • Going solar
  • Using a Kill-A-Watt
  • The 100 People Under the Sun Project
  • VW's Green car of the Year
  • GreenCrafts
  • Throwing an Eco Friendly Birthday Party
  • Kids' Stuff
  • Spring Recipes
  • And Much More!
11 Ways to Be a Wee Bit Greener
(sent to us by Jennifer at

1. Swapping is the New Shopping.
Want free clothes, more closet space and free personal stylists for a night? Throw a Swap Party where all your friends trade (a.k.a. "recycle") clothes from their closets. Serve organic wine, swap 'til everyone drops and you've got yourself a contender for party of the year. (Get the full Bite.)

2. Compute This.
Set computers to enter sleep mode after 5 minutes of idle time – you’ll be saving energy during those meetings! And, shut them down at night – contrary to eco-myth, its better for the earth and your computer to shut them off when you head home.
(Get the full Bite.)

3. Use Direct Bill Pay.
Say goodbye to the days of writing checks, buying stamps, and licking envelopes. Use direct bill pay and you’ll save hassle, trees, and energy. Just ask your bank - most major banks have free bill pay services. If all U.S. households viewed and paid bills electronically, we’d save 18.5 million trees and 15.8 billion gallons of water per year. (Get the full Bite.)

4. Go Veggie - One Day a Week.
Becoming a full-time veg head not your thing? No worries... just pick up a veggie cookbook and try cooking veggie once a week. Since meat production's so resource-intensive, if 10,000 people gave up eating steak just once every seven days, it would save enough water to fill 22,719 Olympic-sized swimming pools and the weight of more than 9 humpback whales in fertilizer.
(Get the full Bite.)

5. Fancy Your Fancy Napkins.
Forget the notion that cloth napkins are for fancy occasions. By using cloth napkins everyday not only will you save a few trees, your friends will be impressed with your class and elegance (well, maybe just for a second or two). If 10,000 people all used just one less paper napkin per day, in a year we’d conserve the annual paper usage of 58 Americans.
(Get the full Bite.)

6. Just Say “No” to Junk Mail.
Junk mail is more than just annoying. If everyone in the US was able to reduce their 10.8 pieces of junk mail received each week, we could save nearly 100 million trees each year. Search for “junk mail” in our Tip Library to get the links to online forms to get your name off junk mail lists. (Get the full Bite.)

7. Set the Lint Bunnies Free.
Cleaning out your dryer's lint screen after each load is an easy way to save energy and reduce fire hazard. Believe it or not, a dirty lint filter can cause your dryer to use as much as 30% more energy. (Get the full Bite.)

8. Get Carded.
Your library card gives you free access to books, movies, and music - plus borrowing keeps paper and plastic out of production. More than 3.1 billion books are purchased in the United States each year, and most are made from nonrecycled paper and petroleum-based inks. (Get the full Bite.)

9. Join The Jones’.
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Pooling your resources with your neighbors for purchases like camping equipment and lawnmowers helps save those other, natural kind of resources. If 10,000 Biters go in on a 19-ft ladder with the Biters next door, we'll avert enough steel to fill 12 dump trucks, and save a little moola along the way. (Get the full Bite.)

10. Fix Your Faves.
Shoehorn a local cobbler into fixing or refurbishing your worn down shoes (yep, cobblers still exist outside of fairy tales). Same goes for clothes: Take them to a tailor, since repair is way cheaper than buying new and doesn't require the extraction of raw materials from the earth. New heels for your shoes or a skirt-hem stitch-up usually costs around $12 - much less than any new shoes or skirt. (Get the Full Bite.)

11. Which Fish to Fry?
When shopping for seafood, take along a free pocket guide or tap into a cool, new phone-text service that'll tell you whether that Chilean sea bass is eco-friendly-fine enough for your kettle. Scientists predict that there will be no more seafood by 2048 unless we change current (unsustainable) fishing methods. (Get the Full Bite.)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Community Seeds Is Opening the Doors to Interns!

Community Seeds Eco Magazine is now accpting interns!! We are offering commission only compensation and a lot of experience in sales and marketing.

Community Seeds Eco Magazine (the eco-friendly community e-zine) in the Chico, CA area, is looking for a dynamic, energetic person to add to their sales/marketing team. Prior sales experience is not required, but helpful. Must be out-going, independent, have a desire to sell ads and be able to represent the magazine in a respectful, confident manner. Salespeople will work as independent contractors (with Independent Contractor Contract), or Interns, reporting weekly via internet. Work your own hours 5, 20, 25… and some can be from home. Must have some computer (internet/e-mail/attachment) experience and be dependable. Intern pay will be 20% commission, which can increases to 25% with successful ad sales.

Interns will work with the magazine team to market the magazine and sell ad space. Interns will contact (via visiting and calling) businesses, share the media kit and recruit advertisers. Interns will be part of the sales team and report to the Editor-in-Chief via email or telephone. They will be required to update a database of contacts, which we have in a Yahoo! Group on line. They may have to email advertising contracts and media kits to clients. Interns will have the option to attend local events we are sponsoring, such as the Threshing Bee and The Green baby Expo to help promote the magazine and support the community. Interns may also write for the magazine and design ads if they choose, but is not required.

Please email questions and resume to ATTN: DeAnna Holman, along with three references and interview availability.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Community Seeds Eco-Magazine Invites You!

If you haven't read the winter issue yet, please visit our website at at take a look at the magazine. The winter issue offers a variety of article topics, including:
  • Electric cars
  • The Chico Museum Circus exhibit
  • Donating hair to cancer patients
  • Advice on planting fruit trees close together
  • The Academy of Sciences

There are also Valentine's crafts, articles on being greener, movie recommendations, gift guides (product suggestions), recipes and much more!

We are starting to gather articles, photos of community members, Chico Bag photos, and advertising for the spring issue. For this issue, which will be published March 1, we would like to invite you to join us! Send in your photos or articles (non-ad) about being green, being socially aware or being involved in the community. Remember, small changes make a big difference.

If you own a business, please consider advertising with us. You will reach at least 24,000 readers (82% in California and most of those in Chico and the surrounding areas). Our prices for advertising are very reasonable compared to other print and online media. In fact, we have the lowest prices for this area! This is important in our tough economic times! Please take a look at our Media Kit to view advertising information and prices.

Ads for the spring issue are due by February 2 and articles/photos are due no later than January 25. Please let us know as soon as possible if you are interested in participating!

We look forward to hearing from you!

Green and Climate-Friendly Televisions

With permission From

Keep old TVs functional, find the greenest and least-toxic new ones, and learn about responsible electronics recycling.

Through the years, it’s become apparent that many Real Green readers aren’t big TV watchers. So our editorial staff thought we should warn you all that early next year, television broadcasters will transition completely from analog to digital broadcasting, meaning that any TV not equipped to receive digital broadcasts won’t get a signal after February 18, 2009. The upside of this change is that compared to analog broadcasting, digital signals allow more information to be sent on a smaller group of frequencies, freeing up valuable airwaves for other uses, including public safety.

The significant downside, however, is that the switch is expected to send millions of analog television sets containing toxic components like lead-filled cathode-ray tubes to landfills—as people mistakenly assume they’ll have to toss their old TVs and buy new flat-screen models to navigate the switch.

Fortunately, with a little information, you can keep your old TV working for many more years. Below, we tell you how and also include tips on what to look for when you do need a new TV.
Keep Your Old TV If you have an older TV at home, chances are it's a cube-shaped cathode-ray (CRT) set. No matter how ancient it is, your old television will likely do just fine after the switch. If you currently subscribe to a satellite or cable service, you’ll continue to get a signal after February 18, whether you have an analog or digital TV.

But if you use an antenna to watch TV, those over-the-air signals may cease after the switch. Fortunately, it’s easy and cheap to fix this problem and keep using your set. First, if your TV was made after 2003, it may have a built-in digital tuner. Look for labels on your set that say something like “integrated digital tuner” or “digital receiver built-in.” If that’s the case, you’ll still be able to get an over-the-air signal.

If your TV isn’t equipped with a digital tuner, you can use a set-top converter box to convert the digital signal to analog, so you can receive an over-the-air signal. Every US household is eligible to receive two $40 coupons from the government to purchase a converter, which range in price from $50–$75. Visit to find out how to get your coupons. And be sure to look for an Energy Star converter box to ensure that you’re using the most efficient model possible.
In terms of energy efficiency, CRT TVs do as well or better than comparable flat-screen models, so you won’t be saving much energy by making the switch. Therefore, your greenest option is to keep your CRT TV as long as possible, preventing more resources and energy from being used to make a new TV.

When Your Old TV Dies... But maybe you really do need a new TV. In that case, you have a few new types to consider.

Some manufacturers are starting to phase out production of CRT televisions, in favor of new flat screen models, which generally have better picture quality and are much thinner and lighter. The more sophisticated flat-screen technology has also made extra-sharp high-definition (HDTV) images possible, as long as stations broadcast in high-definition.

When shopping for a new or used flat-screen television, you can choose an LCD (liquid crystal display), plasma, or rear projection TV. The technical differences between these three types are fairly complex (look them up at if you’re curious). All three can be HDTV-compatible, so you’ll probably find picture-quality and price to be comparable among all three types. It’s the environmental impacts that can differ greatly.

Energy Efficiency Considerations
Let’s just state right off the bat that you want to avoid energy-hog plasma televisions. The average plasma TV uses more energy per year than a refrigerator, which is the biggest energy user in most US households, says the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

Another problem with plasma TVs is that the higher the resolution, or how sharp the image is, the worse they get in terms of energy use. Flat-screen TVs are available in 720p or 1080p resolution (the “p” stands for “pixels,” which are the little dots of light that make up your image). Resolution only matters with a plasma TV, because each pixel is illuminated separately—therefore, a 1080p plasma TV will use more electricity than a 720p plasma TV. Higher resolution in an LCD or rear-projection TV won’t affect their energy use because all of the pixels on the screen are illuminated by one light source.

No matter which TV you choose, it’s important to remember that size matters. If you swap your old 26-inch CRT television for a monstrous 52-inch LCD TV, you’re not going to save energy.
Though energy use among different models can vary widely, for a rough idea, Efficient, a Web site that researches the energy efficiency of consumer products, says that for smaller TVs less than 42 inches, LCD models are more efficient than CRTs. Rear-projection models are mainly available in larger sizes (50 inches and higher). If you want an enormous television, the rear-projection models tend to be more efficient than comparable LCDs or CRTs.
In the future, manufacturers are looking to mass-produce LED (light-emitting diode) and OLED (organic light-emitting diode) TVs, which may be even more efficient than current models.

Best models: Your most efficient option is an LCD TV less than 42 inches. rated 128 flat-screen TVs by their energy use in October. (Find those ratings here.) Among the very best was the Philips Eco-TV (see below). Also, look for the Energy Star. While the program used to rate televisions based only on stand-by mode—meaning how much power they leak when turned off—starting in November, the ratings will change to also reflect power usage when the sets are turned on.

If you choose an LCD, you’ll want to have the set calibrated to a medium level of backlighting—instead of the torch-bright backlighting the manufacturer sets it to so the screen will look nice when displayed in stores. Check your manual to see if the set has a “home” setting you can select, or call an electronics professional to calibrate your TV. It will save energy and keep your TV from burning out quickly.

Also, remember that TVs leak power even when turned off. Plug your TV into a power strip, and switch off the strip to stop those leaks.

Climate Impacts
Earlier this year, Professor Michael J. Prather of the University of California–Irvine sounded the alarm about a hidden greenhouse gas that is often used in the production of flat-screen televisions. According to Prather’s research, nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), which is often used to clean flat-screen manufacturing equipment, is 17,000 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

While industry representatives have said they take precautions to contain NF3, Prather argues that companies may very well be lax about letting it escape, since it’s not regulated by the US government or under the Kyoto Protocol.

Fortunately, some companies are finding alternatives to NF3. Linde Electronics, a gas and chemical company, has created a process that allows pure fluorine to be used in place of NF3, says Steve Pilgrim, Linde’s global marketing manager.

“Fluorine has a global warming potential of zero,” says Pilgrim. “It’s also more efficient to use, so it’s cheaper. We’re doing our best to convert manufacturers to fluorine, either on the economic or the environmental argument. Performance is unaffected by which gas you use.”

Best models: So far, Toshiba–Matsushita Display and LG have converted much of their manufacturing operations to fluorine instead of NF3.

Toxic Innards
As more people are becoming aware, televisions and other electronics often contain hazardous innards. In addition to the lead problem with CRT TVs, chemicals like hormone disrupters polyvinyl chloride and brominated flame retardants, neurotoxic mercury, and more can be found in flat-screen and CRT TVs alike.

Best models: Samsung and Sony scored best on the “2008 Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics,” which ranks companies based on the toxicity of their products and whether they have robust take-back and recycling programs. Though Philips received a poor ranking from Greenpeace, its Eco-TV is less toxic than many models (see below).

Responsible Recycling
To ensure that old TVs don’t end up clogging landfills and leaking hazardous substances, it’s important for manufacturers to take their products back for recycling. However, irresponsible recyclers often send old electronics to developing countries like China, where organizations like the Basel Action Network (BAN) have reported seeing workers sort and dismantle toxic electronics by hand, unprotected. Recyclers listed on BAN’s Web site have pledged not to export e-waste and to recycle it responsibly. Find the list here.

Green America’s also notes that many electronics companies, like Sanyo, Toshiba, and Sony, are tied to worker exploitation along their supply chains.

Best models: Samsung, LG, and Sony have the most robust recycling programs. Consumers can drop their Samsung electronics at 174 locations across the US. The company has pledged not to incinerate, landfill, or export its e-waste (it’s not a BAN signer).

LG (Goldstar, Zenith) has 160 drop-off sites across the US for its old electronics, which are recycled through Waste Management Recycle America, a company that is in the process of qualifying as a BAN-pledge signer. Sony has a similar program, also run through Waste Management.

In Short...
As their monetary prices come down, flat-screen TVs don’t have to come at a steep cost to human health and the Earth. Keep your old TV for as long as you can, and when you need a new one, encourage new green technology by buying green.

—Tracy Fernandez Rysavy

The Eco-TV The Philips “Eco-TV” series—which, strangely enough, are easier to find in a store under their clunkier model numbers, 32PFL5403, 42PFL5603, 47PLF5603, and 52PFL5603—are some of the greenest models on the market.

Ranging from 32- to 52-inches, these 1080p resolution LCD TVs are free of six toxic components banned in the European Union, which are common in most televisions: lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyl, and polybrominated diphenyl ether flame retardants.

Electronics rating site noted that the 42" Eco-TV used about 30 watts less than the “most miserly” 42-inch TVs CNET experts had tested. It does so by automatically dimming in response to light levels in the room and during darker scenes on the TV itself. And it uses a relatively miniscule 0.15W on standby, among the best that CNET raters had seen.

The sets even come in recycled packaging. Philips announced late this summer that all its TVs will now employ the green technologies featured specifically in its Eco TV series.

Resources: Responsible Shopper Updates

With permission From

Check out our Responsible Shopper Web site for our most recently added profile, of clothing retailer H & M. On our comparison page, find out how H & M matches up against other clothing stores, and check the "Go Green" section for suggestions on your greenest options for building a sustainable wardrobe.

Visit Responsible Shopper often, for the latest developments at some of the country's largest companies, in categories like supermarkets, home improvements, appliances, oil and gas, and more.

For example, on Responsible Shopper's "recent developments" page, you can find out:

1. Which utility company just canceled five coal-fired power plants across the country. (Hint: If you've been reading your e-newsletter, you already know. Green Americans have been sounding the alarm against these plants for the past year. Thanks for keeping the pressure on – that's how we change corporate America!)

2. Which big box retailer recently settled 63 lawsuits from around the country for as much as $640 million. The lawsuits alleged the company violated US labor laws by forcing employees to work overtime, erasing hours from time cards, and denying workers lunch breaks.

3. Which giant bottled beverage company threatened to sue Miami-Dade County in Florida after the county aired public service messages informing citizens that their tap water is cheaper, safer, and purer than bottled water

Visit Green America's Responsible Shopper
Solutions from the Green Economy
With permission From

Everyone now understands that the economy is broken.

While many name the mortgage and credit-default-swap crises as culprits, they are only the most recent indicators of an economy with fatal design flaws. Our economy has long been based on what economist Herman Daly calls “uneconomic growth” where increases in the GDP come at an expense in resources and well-being that is worth more than the goods and services provided. When GNP growth exacerbates social and environmental problems—from sweatshop labor to manufacturing toxic chemicals—every dollar of GNP growth reduces well-being for people and the planet, and we’re all worse off.

Our fatally flawed economy creates economic injustice, poverty, and environmental crises. It doesn’t have to be that way. We can create a green economy: one that serves people and the planet and offers antidotes to the current breakdown. Here are six green-economy solutions to today’s economic mess.

1. Green Energy
Green Jobs A crucial starting place to rejuvenate our economy is to focus on energy. It’s time to call in the superheroes of the green energy revolution—energy efficiency, solar and wind power, and plug-in hybrids—and put their synergies to work with rapid, large-scale deployment. This is a powerful way to jumpstart the economy, spur job creation (with jobs that can’t be outsourced), declare energy independence, and claim victory over the climate crisis.

2. Clean Energy Victory Bonds
How are we going to pay for this green energy revolution? We at Green America propose Clean Energy Victory Bonds. Modeled after victory bonds in World War II, Americans would buy these bonds from the federal government to invest in large-scale deployment of green energy projects, with particular emphasis in low-income communities hardest hit by the broken economy. These would be long-term bonds, paying an annual interest rate, based in part on the energy and energy savings that the bonds generate. During WWII, 85 million Americans bought over $185 billion in bonds—that would be almost $2 trillion in today’s dollars.

3. Reduce, Reuse, Rethink
Living lightly on the Earth, saving resources and money, and sharing (jobs, property, ideas, and opportunities) are crucial principles for restructuring our economy. This economic breakdown is, in part, due to living beyond our means—as a nation and as individuals. With the enormous national and consumer debt weighing us down, we won’t be able to spend our way out of this economic problem. Ultimately, we need an economy that’s not dependent on unsustainable growth and consumerism. So it’s time to rethink our over-consumptive lifestyles, and turn to the principles of elegant simplicity, such as planting gardens, conserving energy, and working cooperatively with our neighbors to share resources and build resilient communities.

4. Go Green and Local
When we do buy, it is essential that those purchases benefit the green and local economy—so that every dollar helps solve social and environmental problems, not create them. Our spending choices matter. We can support our local communities by moving dollars away from conventional agribusiness and big-box stores and toward supporting local workers, businesses, and organic farmers.

5. Community Investing
All over the country, community investing banks, credit unions, and loan funds that serve hard-hit communities are strong, while the biggest banks required bailouts. The basic principles of community investing keep such institutions strong: Lenders and borrowers know each other. Lenders invest in the success of their borrowers—with training and technical assistance along with loans. And the people who provide the capital to the lenders expect reasonable, not speculative, returns. If all banks followed these principles, the economy wouldn’t be in the mess it’s in today.

6. Shareowner Activism
When you own stock, you have the right and responsibility to advise management to clean up its act. Had GM listened to shareholders warning that relying on SUVs would be its downfall, it would have invested in greener technologies, and would not have needed a bailout. Had CitiGroup listened to its shareowners, it would have avoided the faulty mortgage practices that brought it to its knees. Engaged shareholders are key to reforming conventional companies for the transition to this new economy – the green economy that we are building together.

It’s time to move from greed to green.
--Alisa Gravitz

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Wanna' be in the spring issue of Community Seeds?

Hello everyone!

The spring issue of Community Seeds will be published March 1 and we're already looking for submissions! We'd love you to send in photos for the Community Faces page or the Springtime Fun photo spread. Also, we have a few spots left for pictures of your Chico Bags in use locally and around the world, so send those in too!

If you have a second to answer the following questions, your quote may be published and you could even win a prize!

***What is your favorite thing about spring in the area? What is your favorite springtime thing to do or place to go?

Please attach a photo or two and send your answer to the above question if you have time. Spread the word too, we'd love as many submissions as possible!

Submissions should be sent to:

Thanks for your support of this awesome project!