NY Schools Go Green

Check out these programs, grants, and  resources available to those in New York Schools:

Green Schools Challenge – Sponsored by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the State Department of Education to recognize those schools that are working towards responsible solid waste management by developing waste reduction, reuse, recycling, composting and/or buy recycled products and packaging programs.

New York Recycles! Poster Contest This contest promoting recycling and buying recycled in New York State. Visit the link for details.

Green Schools – This webpage is a comprehensive solid waste management program; however, here are areas to consider that will help further your transformation to a Green School.

A School Waste Reduction, Reuse, Recycling, Composting and Buy Recycled Resource Book
(PDF)-  The purpose of this Resource Book is to provide you with some basic information on a waste reduction, reuse, recycling, composting and buying recycled products and packaging program for your school.

Recycling Grants for School – Funding is available to school districts under the  Municipal Waste Reduction & Recycling (MWRR) State Assistance Program and will provide 50% matching grants paid on a reimbursement basis up to a maximum of $2 million, for projects that enhance school/municipal recycling or composting programs for  purchasing of equipment that is used to recycle or compost or reimbursing salaries of recycling coordinators and recycling public education.

ALA Virtual Poster Sessions

ALA President Jim Rettig has announced initiatives one in particular allows members to be more green by participating an ALA-wide virtual poster session.

The first of two poster sessions will debut this fall called “Community Central” – to share your experiences of making your library vital in your community.

The following details are from Rettig’s Web page on this initiatives:

To be considered for inclusion in the poster session, please send a proposal in the form of a summary of your library’s efforts, making sure to address the following points:

  1. Question or problem (need not be stated as hypotheses)

  2. Environmental context of the question or problem (such as public libraries, academic libraries)

  3. Organizational context of the question or problem (internal services, outreach, community analysis, etc.)

  4. Approaches to address the question or problem (i.e., the specific ways the library and its staff have addressed the kinds of programs and activities mentioned in the Community Central description)

  5. Outcomes (details on the effects of the approaches, including data, testimonials or other evidence of community involvement)

The summary must be no longer than three pages, double-spaced (one or more photos or images may be included as part of the three pages).

The deadline for submitting proposals is Nov. 15. Approximately 25 submissions will be selected and will be available for viewing during January 2009.

Send the proposals via e-mail to Dr. John M. Budd at BuddJ@missouri.edu

Sorting through the greenwashing

Two new online guides may help you sort through the media’s overwhelming greenwashing epidemic:

GoodGuide is an academic research based site that will help consumers find information on the health, environmental, and social impacts of products. It was started by Dara O’Rourke, professor at UC Berkeley, who gathered a team of researchers, technologists and scientists to pull together a “for benefit” online company of comprehensive, credible, and useful information on products and companies worldwide.  You can search, browse by topic, hear news of recalls, create a custom shopping list, or see a list of top rated products.

Wikia Green asks users to sign up and be a part of creating a green wiki guide. Created by Jimmy Wales, who co-founded both Wikia and Wikipedia, the goal is to to offer more lifestyle tips, product options, and how-to’s.  There is a section called Wanted Articles if you are inspired to post something on a topic  (though I dont think it would count for tenure?)

Biodegradable Disposables

It just isnt feasible most times in a large library to atempt to use “real” plates, cups, utensils, etc. instead of the disposable type products.  An greener option would be to to find more eco-friendly, biodegradable products.  Check out the Food Service Warehouse (a Colorado company started by a group of avid environmentalists who created a certification program aimed at helping commercial kitchens cope with the costs and complexities of going green).   They offer shopping options for buying a variety of products but check out their array of  cutlery, napkins, plates, bowls, etc that are biodegradable, made of corn, sugarcane, potatoes and other renewable vegetable matter. You can read more about the biodegradable disposables, and/or read more about the advantages and disadvantages of bioplastics. If you decide to switch over to these types of products, let your staff and students know what they are using is biodegradable – most people are excited about the idea of being more green. Also, if you happen to be in need of a new commercial kitchen – renovating your school cafeteria for example –  enter their drawing for Green Commercial Kitchen Giveaway, you never know, you might win!

Green Meetings and Conferences

The Fairmont Hotels and Resorts are now offering Eco-Meet Program – green meeting and conference services and planning options. Check out their planning guide (PDF) for details such as recycling in guest/conference rooms, eco-cleaning products, water conservation fixtures, energy efficiently with lights, disposable-free food and beverage services, paperless services, organic options, and carbon neutral off set purchases. These options may not be available at every location.

For more information on making your meetings “greener,” check out the US EPA’s Green Meetings site which can help you  is you are a meeting planner, a supplier of meeting services, a meeting host who contracts with meeting planners, or an attendee of meetings.

Electric hand dryers vs paper towels

Which does your library restroom have? My library restroom has paper towels only. Several times a day I have to take paper towels (which I’m not sure are even made of recycled paper) to dry my hands and throw in the trash. I began to follow the the lead of a fellow “green” librarian who brings her own hand towel with her every time she heads to the restroom. (if I don’t choose to dry them on my jeans).

But which is really more environmentally friendly – electric or paper?  The GreenStrides blog I read says “95% of the time the electric hand dryer will be the greener choice.” More information on this topic can be found at this Slate’s Green Lantern site. They say the electric hand dryers is better “not because they necessarily prevent deforestation, but because they actually use less energy once everything’s taken into account.”   They take into account, how long the dryer typically lasts, how much energy is used when on and in standby, and how long it’s used by someone to get their hands dry.  It becomes more complex when you factor in how your local power grid generates electricity.  Then there is the complexity of how the paper towels are produced – from the trees themselves to producing the towels to transportation to your library … and are they recycled products? (yet, only to be thrown away and not recycled)

In the end they confirm majority of times the hand dryer is a better choice, though not completely green in itself. The greenest method – deal with damp pants or bring your own hand towel.

Green Marketing

Heading to a conference this fall at staying in a hotel?  Will you have the towels replaced after every shower? An interesting 60 second podcast from Scientific America explains a study done on the marketing message left about replacing your towel.  When  “Join Your Fellow Guests in Helping to Save the Environment” card messages were left, rather than just “Help Save the Environment” more hotel guests choose NOT to have their towels replaced.  Why? Though 3/4 of Americas say they are environmentalist, most are swayed more often by the majority. Think about this example when you are marketing for your library. Perhaps a message to your patrons “join your fellow patrons by….” would increase the likelihood of participation in a green initiative or program.