Tag Archives: Green

It Ain’t Easy Being Green

This Word by: Ginny Torok

As the little guy, it’s not easy, but we do it. At OMPP we are committed to creating the smallest footprint possible – that’s why we use biodegradable materials, compost all our waste, and support local businesses and farmers. Our question is: if we do it, why can’t they?

Being sustainable and local as a business doesn’t come easy and it doesn’t come cheap.  As a small business it can be a challenge. With fewer employees, and less money to throw around, the obstacles of being the little guy and being green can be pretty tough – but since it’s what we believe in, we go the extra mile. We have noticed more and more corporations going green and going local – we say, “It’s about time!”

Corporations have more resources, people and money, to use green practices. Businesses such as, Starbucks, HP, Coca Cola, Adidas and Walmart, have all begun to pave the path for green corporations. Starbucks and Walmart are also doing what they can to support more local artists and farmers.

Walmart recently announced its plans for sustainable agriculture. These plans will strive to put more locally grown produce in stores, and monitor the efficiency and sustainability of their produce providers.

Corporations of this size announcing dedication to sustainability and the local movement shouldn’t be so shocking. After all, these corporations are the guys with the resources to make such moves possible. Why aren’t all corporations following suit?

Our challenge to you: think about the businesses you support. Are they making moves to run sustainably, support local, or other green practices? Think there’s nothing you can do about it? Think again! Part of the reason any corporations are practicing in a more sustainable matter is because they have realized it is what people want. The people have spoken, have you?

Check out this Global 100 list of the top 100 sustainable corporations – If a corporation you support is not on this list, tell them! Like any good relationship, communication is key. Tell them what you want! Write on the customer service Web page, submit a comment in their store, do anything you can to get your voice out there – if enough people are talking, they will hear you.

With more corporations being more socially responsible, hold yourself responsible for making the right decisions too. Support the businesses making sustainable choices over the ones that haven’t stepped up. These kind of sustainable actions in big businesses are just the start. We are at the threshold of a major movement in which you can take part. Do your part.

Of course, you should always support locally owned businesses when you can, because like we said, it’s not easy being the little guy – and being green!

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Forget Pink and Red: Make this Valentine’s Day GREEN!!

This year we’ve asked the environment to be our valentine!

When it comes to a holiday like Valentine’s Day, all we want to do is impress our sweetheart. Most of us aren’t thinking about the environmental impact that Valentine’s Day has. This V-Day, be creative with your cards and gifts; be green this Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day is the second largest card sending holiday, with around a billion valentines sent globally each year. Although we want you to think your sweethearts keep those cards, ultimately, paper cards create a lot of unnecessary waste. According to Rainforest Web, the United States has under five percent of the world’s population, yet consumes more than thirty percent of the world’s paper: that includes those valentines! So, cut back and choose to send cards made from recycled paper, or tree-free paper (details available: http://tinyurl.com/cfaw2l). It is easiest (and more heart-felt!) to make your own cards out of these special forms of paper. Or, just send an e-card…who needs paper these days anyway!

Chocolate: Over 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate are sold each year. Imagine how much you could help to boost your city’s economy by buying that chocolate from a locally owned shop! Another suggestion is to buy fair-trade chocolates or other food products. Additionally, if you are searching for a gift certificate, make sure you are searching locally. For example, find independent spas that use all natural products. Reserve dinner plans at a local restaurant that uses organic, local, and/or sustainable products. Give an OMPP gift card (Pie is SO romantic!)

Another common V-Day gift, jewelry, will not only hurt your wallet, but comes at a cost to the environment and human life (I.E. “blood diamonds”). Gem and precious metal mining destroy thousands of acres of land a year and release harmful chemicals, needed to process the minerals, into the environment. Cyanide and mercury are among a few dangerous chemicals released in processing gold. Obviously, you can opt to not buy precious gems and metals by choosing jewelry made from nature’s other beauties like shells, glass, and wood. But if your valentine just HAS to have those jewels, find jewelers who are certified to be sourcing products that are mined with the least ecological and social harm. Or buy a unique, used, vintage piece that none of the other gals in town will have!

If you are interested in actively helping out the environment this V-day, Woodland Heights students from Hogg Middle School host a pretty fun annual event http://www.greenvalentine.org/ This 2010 Green Valentine project, they are asking for shovels, wheelbarrows, gloves, etc. and volunteers to plant trees, distribute mulch, prune, and clean up reforested areas around the White Oak Bayou. Don’t worry, you won’t have to get messy before your big Valentine’s date… this event takes place February 13 at 1 pm. Antidote Coffee and breakfast pastries by Dacapo’s will be served too! How can you go wrong?

Wishing you, and yours, a Happy Valentine’s Day! (If you don’t have a valentine this year, pish posh…the environment is your lover!)

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Sustainable Countdown 2010!

In 2010, ring in the new year green! Whether you’re deciding on the perfect resolution, hosting a cocktail party, or just staying in to watch the ball drop, there are many ways to celebrate sustainably in 2010.

You may not know it, but this will mark the third year of the energy-efficient ball drop in Times Square. Last year it was remodeled to be the most efficient, fitted with 32,256 Philips Luxeon Rebel LED lights. This huge sparkling crystal uses 20% less energy than the previous model. So, watch that ball drop this year with no need to feel too worried about its energy usage!

Your friends picked you to host the party this year? Make them GREEN with envy! Planet Green gives us an awesome guide on how to go green with cocktails! Use organic liquors when you can, and of course, think locally! Don’t forget about the season: Pick locally grown, seasonal fruit juices and garnishes to use in your cocktails. Cut out the sugary, sweet and sour mix; Make your own cocktail mixes. This ensures that you have the freshest, healthiest ingredients in your mix…you will taste the difference! And of course, reuse and recycle your glass bottles! For more cocktail party tips, and more about going green with wine and beer visit http://planetgreen.discovery.com/go-green/cocktails/green-cocktails-tips.html

Planet Green also offers five suggestions for Green Resolutions for this New Year. 1) Green your energy usage: Sign up for a renewable energy program. Green Power Network can help you find out how to buy green power in your state. http://apps3.eere.energy.gov/greenpower/buying/buying_power.shtml Also, if you haven’t already, opt for paperless bills…this can save 37 pounds of carbon emissions over the year.

2) Pledge to use public transportation, walk or bike. At least one more day per week in 2010, walk, bike, or ride the bus. Opting against driving just one day per week can reduce your carbon emissions by 1000 pounds over the course of the year! Plus, walking and biking can work towards your fitness resolutions too!

3) Reduce your consumption of meat. Vegetarian diets can have 2.52 tons less carbon emissions than those who eat meat; And, remember, Oh My! Pocket Pies is vegetarian friendly! While we would never force anyone to make the dietary switch to vegetarianism, just setting one day per week as “no meat day” could save 720 pounds of carbon emissions over the year. Treehugger.com has some yummy vegetarian recipes to start you off http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/10/cheap-easy-vegetarian-meals-recipes.php

4) Our personal favorite: EAT MORE LOCAL FOOD! We’ve recently written about the economic benefits to buying local, but Planet Green explains that each meal you eat made from local ingredients could save up to 666 pounds of emissions! Eat more local pie 🙂

5) Make your home more energy-efficient. Replace light bulbs with energy-efficient ones, don’t use the dryer, or dry only half your laundry, and unplug all your appliances to prevent them from draining electricity. Also, turning your heat two degrees cooler in the winter and two degrees warmer in the summer can save up to save 1000 pounds of carbon emissions a year.

This year you have the opportunity to make changes in your life, and make a difference in the world! Make 2010 your year for sustainability. Visit http://planetgreen.discovery.com/feature/countdown-sustainable-2010/ for more great tips for sustainable 2010. Happy New Year everyone!

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Compost Shmompost!

We at OMPP believe strongly in saving our planet earth from the massive accumulation of what we all refer to as “trash” in our landfills. This is why we use all biodegradable packaging products for our food. We have “trash bags” on site for compost materials that we bring home to our own composting bin.

Most of the trash that we throw away can actually be recycled back into the earth as bio matter. In fact, about one-third of the space in landfills is taken up with organic waste from our yards and kitchens, just the type of material that can be used in compost. Composting not only saves space in landfills, but can be beneficial in your yard, creating healthier soil, less need for water and fertilizer, and reduced erosion, runoff, and pollution.

If you are not familiar with composting we will start from the beginning. First, what exactly can be composted? The most obvious biodegradable matter is food scraps such as fruit and vegetable peelings, seeds and pits, coffee grounds and tea leaves, eggshells, and pretty much anything that was grown from the earth! This also includes yard trimmings, wood chips, and grass. Composting works best with materials that have different textures and amounts of moisture.

Some materials that seem unexpected but can indeed be composted are:  hair (clean out your brush or electric razor and throw it in the mix), fingernail clippings, paper, cardboard and newspaper (shredded into pieces),dryer lint and dust bunnies, burlap bags, cotton materials, matches, soy milk, and old wine.

What cannot be composted? Some materials that you definitely need to steer clear of when composting include: meats and fish, food with sauces, grease, oils and fat, dairy products, human and animal waste, treated woods, ashes and charcoal, and non organic matter such as plastics, metals and glass.

The basic steps to composting are pretty easy to follow, but starting a new compost can be a little tricky to get the right balance. There are many resources online to help you do this. Your compost can be made in a bin, or simply contained in your backyard as shown here: This Website will give you information on picking your compost location http://tinyurl.com/yfgdxlw Here is a Website with information about the option of composting bins http://tinyurl.com/yzbodvx

Two very important parts of composting, aside from mixing the right materials, are keeping the pile at the right moisture, and giving the pile enough oxygen. You will need to water the pile to keep it about as moist as a wrung out sponge; it should be moist to the touch, but not soggy. I recommend turning or mixing your pile about once a week. It is a good idea to spread around and mix the compost materials every time you add them, but the pile will need a vigorous mix often enough to speed the composting process.

Here are some more good tips for composting: Keep your compost materials in a container (I use a milk carton with the top cut off) and collect them throughout the day, then mix them into the pile at the end of each day. Some materials take longer to break down (you will catch on to these with observation) and will need to be broken into smaller pieces before mixing into the pile. Crush up eggshells as small as you can, and break vegetable scraps into small pieces for best results. You can find more really great composting tips at this Website http://tinyurl.com/yj3kwxn

Remember, after you have made your compost, add your OMPP containers to the mix! You can find more information and resources on composting in Houston here: http://www.houstontx.gov/solidwaste/compost.html

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Hazardous Leftovers?!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! We can all begin to look forward to the next week of turkey sandwiches and other assorted leftovers – which presents the topic for our post, leftovers (and their containers).

We all love breakfast leftovers, be it turkey and cranberry sauce, or last weeks enchiladas. But what we are keeping those leftovers in? – and are those containers hazardous to our health and our environment?

Anytime you go out to eat and box up your leftovers, pay attention to what the containers are made of. Most dining locations are still using to go containers made of polystyrene, better known as styrofoam.

Styrofoam is made of a chemical called Styrene. Styrene is classified as a possible human carcinogen by the EPA and by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. These chemicals have the capability to leak into our food, especially when heated – which can threaten our health, immune systems, and even reproductive systems!

Not only is styrofoam bad for our health, but a study by the EPA in 1986 labeled the production of styrofoam as the 5th largest contributor of hazardous waste. Though the production has undoubtedly slowed since the late 80s, The National Bureau of Standards Center for Fire Research identified 57 chemical byproducts released during the combustion of polystyrene foam. These chemicals are released into the air, so even if we are steering clear of styrofoam products, we are breathing in their pollution every day!

Styrofoam products are made with petroleum, another heavily polluting, non-sustainable substance. Also, the use of hydrocarbons in styrofoam releases them into the air, and when mixed with nitrogen oxide in sunlight produces tropospheric ozone – a serious pollutant at ground level. In fact, the EPA found “In animal studies, long-term exposure to high levels of ozone has produced permanent structural damage to animal lungs while both short and long-term exposure has been found to decrease the animal’s capability to fight infection.” In short, styrofoam’s air pollutants damage our immune system too! Yuck!

Lastly, styrofoam obviously pollutes our planet in the form of litter. All plastics account for 25 to 30% of space in our landfills – because of their extremely slow capability to biodegrade, especially styrofoam. Since this material does not turn into bio matter, it breaks into pieces that spread across our planet, often harming and choking animals causing eventual starvation.

Many cities and countries including Taiwan, Portland, OR, and Orange County, CA, have even outlawed styrofoam. While we wish all of America would follow their lead, until then, people should be educated on the harmful effects of this product. Now that you know some of the facts, do yourself and the world a favor; stop using styrofoam!

At OMPP we use all biodegradable packaging. But we suggest carrying your own containers with you when you go out to eat, incase you need to take home leftovers from a restaurant that does use styrofoam. Get in the habit of keeping a few containers somewhere in your car for anytime you need them. The extra bit of effort is worth it for your health, and the environment.

However, if you happen to acquire some styrofoam, or have any in your house now, it can be recycled per se. It can not be made into any other product, only broken down for packing purposes and other uses. It can be difficult to find a place to recycle your styrofoam, but every pound of polystyrene recycled is a pound of new polystyrene that doesn’t have to be created. Use the search on www.earth911.com Enter polystyrene and your location in the search boxes to find a list of recycling centers and businesses that will accept styrofoam. Note: be sure to enter “polystyrene” rather than “styrofoam”.

What to do with Styrofoam: 1) Break it down and use it for your own packing. 2) Many craft stores have use for styrofoam; try dropping some off at your local store. 3) The Alliance of Foam Packing Recyclers will find a use for your styrofoam when mailed to them. Visit  http://tinyurl.com/yeg8mkb for more information. 4) Also, you may be able to sell a large collection of styrofoam. Visit http://tinyurl.com/ybeussc to search for a list of different polystyrene buyers.

If you are interested in more information on polystyrene please visit: http://tinyurl.com/d4vdsm and http://tinyurl.com/2kllte

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