Waste - Jan 24
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From Toilet to Tap (Audio and transcript)
Ingrid Lobet, Living on Earth
GELLERMAN: Shortages of water in Southern California had officials looking in some unlikely-and perhaps unsavory-places.
[SOUND OF TOILET FLUSHING]
GELLERMAN: The squeamish call it 'toilet to tap.' The correct term is 'indirect potable water reuse.' That's a mouthful. And in a few days 2.3 million people in Orange County California will begin quenching their thirst with it. Living on Earth's Ingrid Lobet reports.
LOBET: It's the basic tenet of public health-keep your water and sewer separate. Yet Orange County water and sewage treatment officials have found the closer they work together, the better.
WILDERMUTH: Because of growing population, we knew that we need to put more water in the groundwater basin. And so 10, 13 years ago, we started looking around.
LOBET: That's Ron Wildermuth of the Orange County Water district. In the mid 1990s, his department saw that it was pumping fresh water out of the ground at an unsustainable rate. At the same time, the county sanitation department was looking at building a second concrete pipe to carry its partially-treated sewage out to the ocean.
WILDERMUTH: So you had one water agency needing water. You had a sanitation district that was going to have to build another pipe to dispose of more water. So they came together and said 'why don't we take that water, purify it, and then you won't have to build the ocean outfall.'
(18 January 2008)
Whole Foods sacks plastic bags
Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY
There's a familiar question that Whole Foods will stop asking shoppers: Paper or plastic?
Tuesday, Whole Foods (WFMI) will announce plans to stop offering disposable, plastic grocery bags in all 270 stores in the USA, Canada and United Kingdom by Earth Day - April 22. That means roughly 100 million plastic bags will be kept out of the environment between that date and the end of 2008, the company says.
"This is something our customers want us to do," says A.C. Gallo, Whole Foods co-president. "It's central to our core values of caring for communities and the environment."
In place of the fly-away plastic bags scorned by many environmentalists, Whole Foods will offer several options: free paper bags in four sizes made from 100% recycled paper, reusable bags 80% made from recycled plastic bottles for 99 cents and canvas bags selling for $6.99 to $35. It encourages consumers to bring their own bags by taking 5 cents to 10 cents off the bill for each.
The move comes as cities, states and even countries are trying to eliminate non-biodegradable plastic bags from cityscapes, waterways and landfills. San Francisco banned them. Oakland is considering a ban. New York and New Jersey require retailers to recycle them. China announced a ban this month.
(22 January 2008)
Editorial: Reusable bags offer environment better protection (San Jose Mercury News)
Plastic Bags: Sort of a ban (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
Ontario Determined To End Ban on Clotheslines by Summer: Energy Minister
Chinta Puxley, Canadian Press (New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal)
TORONTO -- The province is determined to lift the ban on clotheslines in Ontario communities in time for the summer sunshine, ending what many have called a 'draconian' practice that discourages energy conservation, Energy Minister Gerry Phillips said Monday.
... Outdoor clotheslines are currently banned under some municipal bylaws and contracts with home builders. But Phillips said Ontario is looking at allowing clotheslines for anyone who lives in a freehold detached, semi-detached or row house.
... Clothes dryers use about 900 kilowatt hours of electricity a year on average, or about six per cent of residential electricity consumption. By hanging one-quarter of their laundry loads out to dry, Phillips said consumers could save about $30 a year on their electricity bills while helping to reduce greenhouse gases.
(21 January 2008)