Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Community Seeds Eco-Magazine Invites You!

If you haven't read the winter issue yet, please visit our website at http://www.communityseeds.com/ 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 http://www.greenamericatoday.org/

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 www.dtv.gov 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 ConsumerReports.org 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 Products.org, 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. CNET.com 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 ResponsibleShopper.org 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 CNET.com 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 http://www.greenamericatoday.org/

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 http://www.greenamericatoday.org/

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: info@communityseeds.com

Thanks for your support of this awesome project!