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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 various discounts. To learn about these discounts, go to www.miipl.org.

Following is a summary of discounts from the MIIPL website.

  • Discounts for Members: Save money while living more sustainably. Benefits are for all congregants belonging to a member house of worship. Save up to 25% on EnergyStar® appliances at ABC Warehouse. (Must follow instructions below!) Eligible EnergyStar® appliances include washers and dryers, refrigerators, window A/C units, TVs, office equipment, and more.
    • Call Kathi Craft at 1-888-222-1929, ext. 327, or reach her assistant Vicki at ext. 303
    • Introduce yourself as a Michigan IPL member
    • Indicate which local store you intend to visit, and they will make sure that someone will be ready to help you with your purchase
  • Save 8% on Michigan Green Safe Products. Michigan Green Safe makes recycled and compostable plates, cups, silverware and more. Simply introduce yourself as a Michigan IPL member when placing your order at 313-871-4000.
  • Get discounts on locally-roasted fair trade coffee at Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company. Use the discount code “IPL10” for 10% off your purchase, including wholesale orders (5lb. bags).
  • Save 10% on energy evaluations from Pure Eco. Contact Ryan at 1-866-270-2370 and identify yourself as a Michigan IPL member.
  • Check out the "Resources" tab of our website for useful information: MichiganIPL.org/Resources

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

Fellow Recyclers: After sharing information with other KI recyclers, I am summarizing some information which we discussed. These recycling opportunities are in addition to the regular recycling programs that are run by local governments.

Regarding Lansing’s recycling program: KI subscribes to this program and recycles bi-weekly. Lansing recycling accepts all products except plastic bags and Styrofoam. If you wish to bring recyclables that your community doesn’t recycle, bring them to KI and put them in the green recycling bin.

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

Plastic bag recycling:

You can recycle all plastic bags at most of the area supermarkets (e.g., Meijers, Krogers, Walmart). 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, Friedland Industries (at its Center and Maple Street facility in Old Town), 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 items (from #1 through #7):

Lansing, East Lansing, Friedland Industries, 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. Impression Five Museum in downtown Lansing (Museum Drive off Michigan Avenue) accepts Styrofoam. They have a recycling bin in their main lobby.

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 (except light bulbs), including green; paper labels acceptable, at most curbside programs and drop-off sites.

Used CFLs:

Recycling CFLs

KI will recycle your used CFLs, if you have no opportunity to take them to other recycling sites (such as Home Depot). Please review the following:

  • Please do not bring broken CFLs to KI. If you have one that is broken, please read the these EPA recommendations for dealing with it. http://www2.epa.gov/cfl/cleaning-broken-cfl
  • Please bring CFLs to KI so as to minimize the chance of them breaking en-route. Wrapping in crumpled newspaper should help protect them from breaking and then 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 be recycled at many retailers in Greater Lansing including Home Depot. For a complete list visit BWL partners with local retailers to recycle CFL bulbs.

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.)

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 1941 Benjamin Drive in North Lansing. 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.

Medicines

Most Sparrow Pharmacies and police departments will take unused medicines. Check the Ingham County Health Department Environmental Health website for more information on locations which take unused medicines. (See below.)

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 December 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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