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What Can We Do About Global Warming?

On October 5, 2006, the New York Times published an article by Andrew Postman that was both entertaining and inspiring. For those of us on the Tikkun Olam Committee looking for a way to help address global warming, the timing was perfect. The article was entitled "The Energy Diet." Apparently Postman, like some of us, had thought about and even acted on some pro-environmental activities, but felt he was too busy, too overwhelmed by hype, and too inflexible to significantly change his lifestyle. Then he saw Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth, and he was inspired to make a difference. First he tried to change all his light bulbs to compact florescents and then decided to set a goal that he could stick to. He envisioned an "Energy Diet" wherein he could calculate his family's energy impact and target a realistic or easy goal to begin to change his energy consumption and reduce his greenhouse gas emissions. His article is very entertaining (it's currently available in the New York Times archives; this link was working as of October 2007) and it includes links to the following helpful and informative websites:

  • www.climatecrisis.net: About the movie, An Inconvenient Truth.
  • www.thegreenguide.com: The "green living source" for today's conscious consumer.
  • www.stopglobalwarming.org: A non-partisan effort to bring citizens together to declare that global warming is here now and that it is time to demand solutions.
  • An additional website that we'd like to add to the list is:
    www.grist.org: A free (nothing is really free; they accept contributions) online magazine with environmental news, analysis, humor. yes humor, and practical suggestions.

The Tikkun Olam Committee has also been inspired by the Times article, by An Inconvenient Truth, and/or perhaps by a more spiritual source, to offer a version of "the Energy Diet" for members of KI to consider. Take the challenge and see how much you can help save our planet. Chanukah seems like as good a time as any to begin. Click here to see "the Energy Diet."


Savings on Energy Efficient Products Through KI's Membership in MiIPL

KI, through the Tikkun Olam Committee, is now a member of Michigan Interfaith Power and Light ("MiIPL"). The organization is a coalition of congregations across Michigan whose mission is "to involve communities of faith as stewards of God's creation by promoting and implementing energy efficiency, renewable energy, and related sustainable practices." It is part of a national religious response to global warming that includes 17 other Interfaith Power & Light organizations across the United States.

As a member of MiIPL, all KI members are eligible for discounts of up to 50% on compact fluorescent light bulbs and fixtures, thermostats, and water conservation products. To purchase these items through MiIPL's "on-line shopping cart," go to www.miipl.org. and click on "buy now." Using the pull down menus, select Michigan and find Kehillat Israel. You can browse the products by clicking on the product categories on the left. When you're ready to buy, you'll need to create a "new customer account," add the items to your "shopping cart," and pay with your credit card online when you are ready to check out. Or you can use the MiIPL Discount Order Form and place your orders by fax (734-282-6115) or by mail (the address information is on the form). You can also order by phone by calling Julie Soulliere of Integrated Supply Management at 313-961-2220. ISM supplies and ships all of the products, and Julie can help you find what you are looking for.

Another membership benefit is that all KI members get discounts of up to 25% on Energy Star refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers, air conditioners, and dehumidifiers at ABC Warehouse. The store in Lansing is located at 5744 S. Pennsylvania, south of Jolly Road. Appliances that earn the Energy Star label have to meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. You can preview ABC's Energy Star products online by going to www.abcwarehouse.com. Type "Energy Star" into the empty search box and click "Go." This will pull up all of ABC's Energy Star products at regular prices. When you're ready to make a purchase, go into the store and tell the manager that you belong to an organization that is a member of Michigan Interfaith Power and Light. The manager will help you look at the Energy Star appliances and will offer discounts of 15 to 25% off the regular prices.


Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) and Mercury

A CFL contains 4 mg of mercury and should therefore be properly recycled. The Lansing Board of Water and Light is now accepting them at 1232 Haco Drive, Lansing (please double bag in sealed plastic bags) and they can also be brought to KI where someone will periodically take them to the BWL.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has prepared a fact sheet to respond to questions and concerns about mercury in energy-efficient lighting that uses compact fluorescent technology: FACT SHEET: Mercury in Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs). The following is excerpted from that.

CFLs Responsible for Less Mercury than Incandescent Light Bulbs

CFLs present an opportunity to prevent mercury from entering our air, where it most affects our health.

  • The highest source of mercury in our air comes from burning fossil fuels such as coal, the most common fuel used in the U.S. to produce electricity.
  • Because a CFL uses 75% less energy than an incandescent light bulb, a power plant will emit only 2.4 mg of mercury to run a CFL for its lifetime vs. 10 mg of mercury to produce the electricity to run an incandescent bulb for the same amount of time.

Therefore, even if the CFL is not recycled, it adds less mercury to the environment over its life than do incandescents. In its lifetime, a CFL will add 6.4 mg to the environment (4 mg in the bulb plus 2.4 mg from burning coal) vs. 10 mg from the coal burned to run.

Need to recycle a CFL? Here are some important tips.


Recycling Opportunities in the Greater Lansing Area

These are the recycling opportunities available in the area including those which are run by local governments. Go Green. Click here for: East Lansing; Lansing; Meridian Township; Holt.

Plastic bag recycling:

You can recycle all plastic bags at most of the area supermarkets. They have bag recycling bins in their lobbies.

Boxboard (all boxes, including cereal boxes, milk cartons, medicine boxes, toilet-paper and paper-towel rolls, any box that is made of paper or light cardboard):

You can recycle boxboard in the curbside recycling program of East Lansing and Lansing; for other communities like Holt, Okemos, and other townships, check with your local government office or sanitation provider. Drop-off recycling is provided at the Lansing Recycling Center, Granger Recycling Center, the East Lansing Public Works Center, Meridan Township Recycling Center, and others in the area. Permitted items are announced in local newsletters or posted at the sites.

Plastic containers (from #1 through #7):

Lansing, East Lansing, and Granger accept #1 through #7 plastic (but NOT #3 PVC, styrofoam, or plastic bags).

Styrofoam, #3 plastic, can be recycled at the Meridian Township Recycling Center or at the annual recycling events held throughout the region

Dart Container off of South Cedar Street in Mason accepts all clean styrofoam products. They have a 24-hour outdoor drop-off site.

Bulky rigid plastic includes buckets, lawn chairs, toys, bins, etc. (look for HDPE symbol) can be recycled through most curbside programs

Glass

All colors of glass bottles and jars are accepted, including green; paper labels acceptable, at most curbside programs and drop-off sites.

Metals:

Most curbside recycling programs accept small items of scrap metals.

Both Friedland Industries (405 E. Maple Street and Center Street in Old Town) and Padnos Iron and Metal (1900 W. Willow Street in Lansing) accept all sorts of metal, including old tools, lawn chairs, dehumidifiers, etc. (P.S.: A little bit of Jewish history. Both companies are owned and operated by Jewish families. I would guess that they probably got their start when their immigrant grandfathers started scrap businesses in the early part of the century.)

Used CFLs:

Recycling CFLs

While taking compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) from KI to be recycled, we have on occasion found broken ones left in the container. To minimize mercury contamination, please do the following: 

  • Please do not bring broken CFLs to KI. If you have one that is broken, please read the following EPA recommendation for dealing with it. http://www2.epa.gov/cfl/cleaning-broken-cfl
  • Please bring them to KI so as to minimize the chance of them breaking en-route. Wrapping in crumpled newspaper should help protect them, and if possible, seal them in a plastic bag.

Despite the small amounts of mercury that they contain, the EPA states that using CFLs still reduces the amount of mercury released to the environment by reducing the amount of coal (which contains mercury) that is burned in the production of electricity. See http://www2.epa.gov/cfl/what-are-connections-between-mercury-and-cfls

Used compact fluorescent lights can now be recycled at many retailers in Greater Lansing. For a list visit Lansing Area CFL Recycling.

Household materials:

Materials such as old doors and cabinets and bookcases, unused paint, and other building materials including hardware can be recycled through the Habitat for Humanity “Restore.” They will also accept refrigerators, washing machines and driers in working order. They have a large warehouse at 1137 Haco Drive (off South Pennsylvania near the entrance to Potter Park Zoo). It is a wonderful program that helps low-income families to build and repair their homes, but anyone can shop there. Call for more information about hours and what they are taking: 374-6235.

There are other recycling programs for:
  • cell phones and batteries (various locations throughout the county)
  • computers and other electronic equipment (Lansing, East Lansing, Ingham County: usually once or twice a year)
  • waste oil, waste antifreeze and car batteries (many auto parts, repair and oil-change shops)
  • car tires (most tire stores)
  • cooking oil (Delhi and Delta townships)
  • shoes, "Simple Recycling" program in East Lansing
  • “sharps” (medical waste: syringes, needles and lancets) (Ingham County Health Department)
  • household hazardous waste (Ingham County Health Dept.: usually every Thursday afternoon during spring, summer and fall, from 2 to 6 PM). This includes fluorescent light bulbs and CFLs.

Information on all these recycling programs are available through the Ingham County Health Department Bureau of Environmental Health (882-4312) and City of Lansing Recycling Program (483-4400). I recommend the Ingham website at www.ingham.org. They list additional locations for recycling programs as well as dates for special recycling programs.

There is also The Creation Station on Museum Drive in downtown Lansing (next to Impression Five Museum) which accepts many objects. These objects are recycled primarily to teachers who use them for art projects, but anyone can purchase them. Call for an up-to-date listing of what they are accepting. The number is 371-2451. They are staffed by volunteers so they are open on Tuesdays and Thursday from 2 to 6 P.M. and the first and third Saturdays of each month from 10 A.M. to 2 P.M.

Additional information and opportunities for recycling are available from the Mid-Michigan Freecycle Network. This is a non-profit group that offers a website for free exchange of items. Go to freecycle.org, then click on "Groups in your local area." This will eventually lead you to Lansing. I have also come across Earth911. Their website is: www.earth911.org. They look like another good resource for recyclers. And I’m sure there are more out there.

SAVE THE EARTH! HAPPY RECYCLING!

David Wiener
(Updated November 2017.)


The Union of Concerned Scientists

This is the leading science-based nonprofit working for a healthy environment and a safer world. UCS combines independent scientific research and citizen action to develop innovative, practical solutions and to secure responsible changes in government policy, corporate practices, and consumer choices. Visit http://www.ucsusa.org.



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