Reduce your junk mail

With the holidays approaching, more and more junk mail is arriving in our mailboxes each day. Here are some options to cut back on the amount we all receive. Not only is junk mail a waste of trees with over 5.8 million tons of catalogs/direct mailings ending up in the U.S. municipal solid waste stream, but think about the waste of energy in production of these mailing AND how many millions of dollars are spent each year to collect and dispose of this junk mail by citizens and local governments.

The New American Dream Junk your Junk Mail web site includes ways to reduce your mail, facts, and op-out guides.  Reducing your mail section offers drop down menus and fill in forms to help you create letters to get off specific mailing lists. The opt-out guideoffers how-to help for avoiding marketers passing along your name, reducing junk mail, telephone solicitors, and email spam, getting rid of credit card offers, and eliminating unwanted catalogs.

Catatlog Choices is a Web site to help you eliminate unwanted catalogs. Register, search for catalogs, and ask to be removed from their mailing list.

Yellow Pages Goes Green assists you in eliminating unsolicited yellow and white pages. The site also offers resources, information about the green movement, videos, and short quizes.

Greening your workplace

Bring your green to work with Energy Star web site is worth checking out.   Click on the Energy Star @ Work button and use this interactive, visual, tool to guide you through various aspects of your workplace environment by clicking on the various stars to get information on how to be more energy efficient in that area.  The Is Your Building Energy Star button gives you a search box to find other similar real world buildings like yours that cost less to operate. There is also a document on how and why to create a green team at your work. Be sure to check out their plethora of free and downloadable resources to help guide you in greening your office space.

Green Office Supplies

Looking for greener office sources? Check out these two sites:

The Green Office is a good place to go shopping for sustainable office products. Their mission and vision incorporate building a more ecological and healthy supply company who models sustainable practices through the triple bottom line concept.  You can shop by category: office supplies, paper, technology, ink, furniture, janitorial, breakroom, and gifts; search by their rating guide; find out about upcoming webinars/seminars; or check out their sustainability consulting options.

The Encoprenuerist has a great article called Stocking the Green Office. Choose a topic – sustainable paper options, office furniture, and cleaning supplies- for information and links to resources on each topic.  The Ecopreneurist supplies news and advice and on the topics of sustainability, social entrepreneurship, green products, and green services, as well as assistance for a green start-up business.

Build your own energy monitor


For DIYers, check out this Greener Gadgets Design Competition first prize winning Enerjar.  Modeling the free open source design concept,  Matt Meshulam and Zach Dwiel created the downloadable DIY schematic of the  Enerjar.  It  measures how much energy your household appliances are sucking up (vampire power) by providing a conduit between the wall outlet and your device. Materials needed include four integrated circuit chips, 12 resistors, and an LED display, and a power supply salvaged from an unused cell phone charger, and an old jam jar. There have been a few concerns over safety so read over their web site documentation, but I thought it was worth mentioning for a cheap energy (and $$) saver idea.

Interested in more green gadgets? Registration is now open for the February 27, 2009 Green Gadgets 2009 in NYC.

Green Wikia

With the climate crisis and environmental issues coming to light in main stream society, more and more people are looking for information on the topic. Green Wikia strives to fill this niche.  It’s like Wikipedia with a green point of view, focusing on relevant and accessible, things you can do. Green Wikia states its mission to be a solid, trusted place to go for more information on living sustainably. Green Wikia encourages others to participate in their areas of expertise by submitting short articles or stubs.  They have a wanted articles section as well.  The Village Pump is a discussion area to connect with others, hear what might be in the works, or comment on how Green Wikia can improve.

It’s quick and easy (and of course free) to register and then add some content such as what you library is doing that’s green. The Green Wikia will only expand and improve its content with others joining and participating.

Southwest Colorado Libraries Build Green

On the ALA Tech Source Blog Tom Peters blogs an interview with Victoria Petersen, Technology Manager of the Mancos Public Library in southwest Colorado (and one of my favorite small public libraries!) about the details of green building.  (A side note here: Tom and Victoria connected while working together to build Emerald City, an island in Second Life devoted to helping libraries and library-related organizations to become more environmentally friendly!)   Two southwest Colorado libraries, Mancos Public along with Durango Public library are both building green libraries. The Durango Public Library’s new green building will open on December 1st. Mancos Public Library’s building is still under construction.  Check out this interview for ins and outs of green building.

Green Workshops

Last week I was in the Chicago suburbs giving two workshops at two different library consortiums (NSLS and MLS). I met some great folks from various libraries who attended to learn more about greening their libraries though many of them are already going down that path. Many of these libraries are starting green library committees to bring the issue of sustainability into their libraries in an organized way.  (please post a comment and let me know who you are)  Some librarians I met already have green roofs (or green gardens) and even green buildings (one school librarian from Texas gulf area wants to redo her hurricane hit library by going green). Marketing ideas such as bookmarks with links for local recycling places, green blogging for the library, green resource section of the library web site or even a physical display of  green resources owned by the library.  Warren-Newport Public Library is hosting a Recycle-O-Rama this weekend (Nov 15th). They also have a green pledge form for patrons to take and a green ideas form for their library staff to suggest new ideas.  Some libraries are switching to all recycled paper (one library mentioned using a eucalyptus paper that is cheaper and sustainable). Another library mentioned after shredding sensitive documents, they donate the shredded paper to the local animal shelter who uses it for litter (not worries about someone trying to piece the paper back together 🙂 One librarian enlightened us to the Risograph printer which doesn’t use heat to print or copy thus saving at least 90% percent of energy used in most printers.

Thanks to everyone who atteneded and shared your ideas. It was great to connect with other green librarians!

Green Spaces = heath

Some recent research studies show that green spaces do more than “pretty up a neighborhood.”  Researchers noted that living near parks, no matter how small, does make a difference and helps reduce inequalities regardless of social class (i.e. poorer areas tend to be more unhealthy.) In the recent 30 years park areas have seen a decline and researchers urge people to realize the indirect effect green spaces have on health which also saves money by preventing illness, reducing stress, lowing blood pressure, and perhaps even promoting faster healing after surgery.  So what can libraries do? Think about having a green space around your library; a native garden, reading/sitting area. If you are building, look for a site that backs up to a park. Use this research to backup your requests for more green landscapes around your library.  Not only would this green space be positive for your neighbors, and patrons, but also your staff.

Google’s Green Guides

Did you see Google’s Halloween themed energy savings calculator?  In a Halloween-y way the short form offers ideas on saving energy and money at the same time.  Google also has a page more energy saving tips arranged by topic such as computer equipment (ex: Buy a Climate Savers certified energy efficient computer),   electronics (ex: Turn down the brightness on your TV and computer monitor), government programs(ex: Map of government and utility programs that provide incentives for energy efficiency investments) and more.  You can also read this CNET article and user comments on Google’s plan to fix the US energy problems called Clean Energy 2030.

New Green Schools

The non-profit group Global Green and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) have started a pilot project initiative to create green schools which serve low income children in the Los Angeles area. Two schools have been complete and 3 more are in the works. Global Green is also pushing the initiative for greener schools in New Orleans.  Their goal is to create healthier classrooms and more energy efficient schools. This will not only protect the environment and reduce carbon emissions but improve student performance and save money for school districts. Read more about their green urbanism program.