GiveaCar ~ Guest Post

As mentioned in my previous post, here is the guest post from Daniel, of Giveacar, UK.

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Car donation: a great way to recycle your car
Recycling a car can be a difficult and daunting prospect. It’s not always easy to find someone who is willing to collect you vehicle and make sure it is thoroughly depolluted and reused. There are many people still out there who will simply harvest your cars easily resalable parts and leave the rest to rust.
If you’ve decided to purchase a more fuel efficient vehicle or have resolved to give up your car entirely for a greener mode of transport, car donation is one of the most environmentally friendly ways of getting rid of your old vehicle.
There are a wide range of car donation programs out there, supporting an array of different charitable causes. It is important to find one that will either scrap your vehicle in an environmentally friendly way or put it in to an auction to find a new owner. This ensures that the oldest cars, those with worst fuel consumption, are taken off the road, and newer ones are reused, reducing demand for new car production, which has a significant negative effect on the environment.

If you are in the UK, a great donation program to check out is Giveacar. They guarantee that at least 85% of the weight of your car will be recycled and reused. In addition, they only work with scrap yardHYPERLINK “http://www.giveacar.co.uk/scrap-yards”s that are affiliated to the UK Environment Agency, meaning that your car will be fully depolluted and not just left to drip its hazardous chemicals into the earth.

As well as the environmental benefits of their car HYPERLINK “http://www.giveacar.co.uk/car-scrappage”scrappage scheme, Giveacar promise to donate at least $100 to the donors chosen charity for each car donated. They are partnered with a variety of different causes including several charities tackling the effects of climate change.
Only a year old, they have already recycled more than 3,000 cars and have raised more than $300,000 for good causes.
If you would like to learn more about recycling your car or would like to donate a car, please visit the Giveacar website – www.giveacar.co.uk.
 PS: pictures courtesy: Giveacar 
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Giveacar ~ Green Charity

Daniel from UK based company called Giveacar, a not-for-profit organisation, sent in a post to be featured on Green Crusader. 



About the company:
Giveacar is into collection and recycling of unwanted cars, with the proceeds of each vehicle going to charity.
They have imported the idea of car donation from the US to the UK, and work with over 250 charities and have raised over £200,000 in the past year through car donation. The company works with scrapyards and salvage operators to ensure cars are sold for their maximum value – thus providing the maximum donation to charity.

Daniel says “Giveacar has had a really positive response, with the service providing a serious financial boost to charities in this current climate, and Reuters have made a news video on the positive effects of social enterprises such as Giveacar. (http://www.reuters.com/news/video/story?videoId=180720019). We are an environmentally friendly operation, recommended by Keep Britain Tidy and recently covered by the Ecologist:
http://www.theecologist.org/green_green_living/out_and_about/687787/recycle_your_car_dont_scrap_it.html


Watch this space for the Guest post. 🙂

Individually Packed Dry Fruit – Wasteful or otherwise?

For all those dry fruit connoisseurs who love prunes (dried plums), here is some food for thought!

nutsonline-com



Bowel movement and overall health are a great argument when it comes to buying prunes in plastic bags. 

or grabbing a bottle or two of prune juice….

 (sunsweet website)



Manufacturers are already adding to the plastic clutter and the ocean patch, and have every reason to rethink their packing methods. And as if existing problems weren’t enough, a genius marketing strategy session later, Sunsweet launched its individually wrapped prunes.


 Each prune individually wrapped in plastic…:-(

And then put them in another HDPE container..
Seriously!, did we need more plastic in the world? All in the name of a little of convenience!.. It is sadly amazing to see that consumers do not assess the impact of their choices on the planet? The nutritional information provided on their website, mentions eating “about 4 prunes” to equal one serving.
My question – why not package them in packs of four then? Back to the basic question – WHY the Wrapping in the first place. One logical explanation could be (probably) – that the company has to come up with new shenanigans to appeal to consumers and appear dynamic by showing that they are constantly reinventing themselves. Agreed. As much as that intention is appreciated, individual wrapping is a serious mistake and a definite waste of resources. On a lighter note! imagine having to eat more than one and all the packaging one has to peel..lol…hmm..seems like it is the company’s trick for portion control!!! 🙂

Given the fact that Sunsweet controls over 2/3rd of the prunes market in the US, higher sales figures for the single-wraps means an avoidable 3 sq inches of plastic wrap in the trash can (for every piece consumed). Isn’t it time we as consumers took action and made informed choices?.

Any argument for and against this idea are pleasantly welcome.


(Sunsweet is a US based food and beverage manufacturer specializing in packed dry fruit and juice). 

Go Green with Craigslist and Freecycle

Choosing the right kind of furniture for your home is a major influence on how green you could be…It is no harm in wanting the best for yourself. However, it could be a little considerate on our part to reuse heavy and usable furniture items (among other things) and not let them become landfill before their lifespan.

Readers who are familiar with my Design blog, The Design Enthusiast, know my love for preloved furniture. I have furnished an entire single bed room apartment with finds from local sellers via craigslist. Touch wood, it has been a great experience till date. Although, I am not into upholstered furniture, it is better to avoid beds or heavy cushioned sofas unless you are very sure about the condition. Reason being, loads of bugs and dirt may find their way into your abode. And then, there are odour issues we need to deal with. I dont advocate any particular furnishing style, but defintely would like to see minimal upholstery and cushions (read foam) as possible.

There could be more such collaborating websites I am not aware of yet. Another place to look out for is Freecycle. It is a brilliant way to minimize waste and think about greening your choices without much effort.

quoting the Freecycle website-
The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,864 groups with 7,603,875 members around the world. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer (them’s good people). Membership is free. To sign up, find your community by entering it into the search box above or by clicking on ‘Browse Groups’ above the search box. Have fun!



One very interesting thing about Freeecycle is that people giveaway stuff for free…so take a look, maybe you will find something that may work for you. (I have been a grad student here in the US…so hand me downs dont bother me…however, i dont see a similar vibe among fellow country men who land here with a job and a heavy paypacket. No comments on that though!!)

China’s Prosperity- at what cost?

I see people happy when Walmart and other retailers announce SALE on their stock. These retailers conveniently dump out of season good onto customers. It is quite true that some of the products on the shelves aren’t worth the entire retail price. However, does it make sense or justify a buying, just because some product is on sale?

Marketing teams do a wonderful job by making most of the consumer goods look indispensable. Over 70% of the consumer base is led by this “Buy things off season, and during a Sale “ mentality.  This group of customers think only about their money saving deals for now and care less about the impact of their incessant buying habits on the supply demand economics. Given this fact, it is impossible to expect them to think in terms of the torture our planet goes through to help them meet their NEEDS.

One look at the overstocked aisles in any store reminds one of the excessive consumerism patterns, such huge conglomerates promote. When companies like WalMart, Kroger, Publix and Whole foods talk about sustainability, it sounds like a joke and a mockery of the earth friendly effort ever proposed/ put in by a human on the face of the planet.

source: americajr.com

World’s major economies survives on the health of their retail sector, no denying that. But doesn’t that mean that they need to work towards being the most responsible as well. Every retail giant claims to be doing their bit for the planet. REALLY? One look at  these stores’ slogans show how tangential their business policies are to their Green claims.

Let us take a look at their Punch/tag lines: Walmart – Save money . Live better; Publix- Where shopping is pleasure, Target – Expect more , Pay less, etc….Retailer talks about Saving green  and never encourage customers to go green with their shopping choices.

Why would they, wouldn’t that affect their bottom lines and their sales figures? Hanging a reusable bag at the billing counter isn’t helping folks!!

Other than encouraging excessive consumerism, these retailer are doing nothing for the community. A classic example would be Kroger’s 10 for $10 sale. Their ads make Stocking your pantry for less seem like saving millions. As part of its green efforts, Kroger conducts a design a reusable bag contest every year. But never bothers to encourage its customers to bring in their own bags.  My question – why not suggest people to get their bags rather than make it look like they want the customers to BUY a bag at the counter. This strategy makes the plastic /paper bag seem like a MONEY saving option for any average consumer.And the entire Green drama put up by the conglomerate moves backstage.

Time and again, I have been putting up with arguments from people about why they should buy a reusable bag when a plastic bag is free? Right, can’t they see that they could take their own bag to the store. No one forces them to buy a reusable bag. Where do these people leave their common sense? Is it justified when educated people argue that they cant make simple choices for the better?

One need not be an economist to put one  plus one. It is known that every product sold across the Atlantic and this side of the Pacific comes from the Land of the Forbidden City. Every product ever manufactured may be contributing to this said country’s apparent growth and prosperity. But all this at what cost? Is it ok to ignore impact of our mindless living? These impacts are no longer a distant occurrence. We can see the aftermath of excessive exploitation of our natural resources and can no longer ignore the way our life (read health) is being changed for the worse. What would take the majority of the population to wake up?…I am yet to figure that out.

Apart from doing their bit in destroying the planet and adding to the resource crunch. These retail giants kill local, small time grocery stores who could have been greener with their functioning. Not only do these small time stores go out of business, but these giant’s monopoly impacts local economic as well. All said and done, do we really need a WALMART in India? No, definitely not!!!

How could I miss sharing this cartoon??

 source: courtneyelizabeth.com

My next article is about the KING? of the retail sector who thinks that projecting a We sell cheap imagine translates to more business and money in his pocket. To hell with the environment and the drastic impact his money making conglomerate would have on the planet!!!

Starbucks – Left me alone….and they say – Don’t Do it Alone!!

source: starbucks website
Should we trust corporates when they say – They are on with their Green efforts?…Maybe we should not. Starbucks claims that it allows customers to use their own reusable cups and even encourages green practices. Their punch line – Don’t do it alone, doesn’t seem to work in reality.
Their website carries very fancy content on Green issues.But how many really bother?

source: starbucks website
 I was taken by their reports to promote use of ceramic and re-usable mugs and tried to take my own to one of their outlets. As a rule,  if a customer walks in with a ceramic or re usable cup, starbucks employees are supposed to rinse the mug and pour coffee into it.

However, I was refused to be served in my mug- The lady at the counter said that the sanitation department wouldn’t allow use of any other container other than the one sold at Starbucks!…If this is true, how would their motto to go green ever become a reality. Another report claims that Starbucks intends to reintroduce ceramic mugs and increase use of reusable commuter mugs by 2010. I did not know that they offered a $.10 discount to customers who bring in reusable mugs. If all this was true, why would I be refused when I make a conscious effort to carry my mug for my drink?

I don’t know how people could ignore this garbage pile when they buy their coffee in disposable cups…Does it never occur as to what happens to all this unnecessary garbage
source: triplepundits.com
Statistics:
Starbucks stores use billions of disposable plastic and paper cups, this means an enormous usage of natural resources and energy and then cups land in the landfills and the ocean. The Company claims that their cups contain 10 percent post consumer recycled content. And that, according to the company is estimated to save tens of thousands of trees, half a million gallons of waste water, and several million pounds of garbage. And Starbucks claims to be the pioneer in promoting recycled cups in the beverage retailing industry.
Visit this link on their website to learn more about their programs – Link  
Reality:
Did you know that FDA (Food & Drug administration, USA) does not support use of recycled material in food retailing industry? Another very important aspect in terms of recycling – Paper cups lined with wax /plastic to hold liquids cannot be recycled in most recycling plants/systems. I am really not sure if Starbucks can ever achieve its target of making all of its cups recyclable by 2012. Corporate GREEN team says that the company is requesting its customers to bring in their own reusable cups or tumblers in order to meet their recycling goal set for the year 2012. Frankly, I am yet to see one single customer buying his or her coffee in their own mug! So in which part of the world are they pushing their Green ideas then?
Whatz really happening
With over 16,000 retailing locations, it is difficult to claim consistency in their efforts. It is definitely difficult for a company with so many globally disperse franchisees to efficiently and effectively implement a recycling strategy. The least they could do is to support conscious consumers like myself.
Money matter a lot to people sitting in the Shareholder boards…blind that they are to any crisis around them, it is a disgrace that the company’s shareholders voted down Starbuck’s proposal to increase recycling efforts. ( I am sure Seattle Times would be faking this news ). And why did they make this brilliant decision? Because the finance guys have to create WEALTH for their shareholders!! (really??)
Although the company seems to have started offering discounts to consumers who bring in their own cup since 1985, how come we do not see anything happening on that front? Isn’t the non green population just living to save money or just Enjoy their life?…I am sure if they were given a chance to save a few cents… at least a few of them would oblige to bring their own mugs (for the amount of coffee consumed in the world, specially in the US) It would make a significant difference in terms of number of disposable (plastic and paper) cups used. What amazes me is that the consumer who is aware that he should not buy hot drinks in a plastic cup refuses to think one step beyond and reduce use of paper cups.
Statistics…again!
Starbucks claims that in 2009, over 26 million customers brought their own tumblers for their cup of Joe…(really!!). This means a meager 1.5% shift from use of disposables and that translated to saving a whopping 1.2 million pounds of paper from being consumed. If this was true, imagine the amount which goes into the landfill due to the million of cups still being used…phew!!…Do you really think you cant make your own cup at home or at least carry your own mug to the café. The least you could do is to choose using their ceramic mugs and have your coffee in store and not bother walking around the mall with your fancy disposable cup.
Another very important aspect of this Industry has not even been discussed yet – The coffee Growing /processing industry and its impact on environment. That makes an interesting topic for a new article altogether!
Painful changes in the Indian scene…
What bothers me is India’s growing and booming Cafe culture. Cafe Coffee Day, Barista etc have become a fashion statement of sorts with the Indian Population. I do not have anything any particular brand or product, what pains is the lack of common sense and basic thought towards the impact of every cultural shift
India is going through!
Think before you THINK it is HEP to go to a Cafe and order your coffee in a disposable cup. Think of going green with your choices and let the planet remain habitable!

A school girl at the UN Environment summit – Rio

I had this video link in my bookmark archives….a very simple and straight forward speech by a school girl from Canada….echoes every environmental concern – relevant more than ever today. This undated video should, among many others, actually help us wake up…its high time…its not about money, career or expensive living. It is all about sensible minimal living which will allow existence of life on the planet.

Does it matter?
Thinking about every thing we do and not hiding behind the very oft used phrases/words – “cant help it” or “convenience” is the need of the hour. If one really wanted to make a sensible choice, they could do it. Ignorance, or lack of common sense is what makes involuntarily-earth-hating crowd, the people they are.

Being eco friendly is lot more than not using plastic bags. I am tired of being called as someone who advocates against  plastic bags.Yes, that I am, but there is more to living a green life than just that. The whole terminology kicks my soul. It is sad that we humans first take the fast lane, do some considerable damage and then trace back our steps to go back to where we were. Given this fact, all the jargonology- Green, eco-friendly all make no sense. It seems like a mockery on groups which work in favor of the planet, in favor of LIFE.

Jargons don’t matter. Actions make a difference. People need to understand that the choices associated with food, clothes and shelter (our house, furniture, furnishings etc) are all what influence our earth friendly living, or the lack of it. Fancy terms like recycling, composting don’t matter if you buy your grocery and supplies in a plastic bag and use it for throwing your trash. Think about the landfill you will contribute to or the nearest water source you will pollute by using and dumping the plastic bag. Chiffon, nylon, acrylic and polyester clothes you buy, will never bio-degrade. (Let us keep in mind that we have not considered the entire value chain footprint yet.) Give a thought to before you purchase – synthetic furnishings (curtains, upholstery etc), your kitchen chopping board or the throw away plastic spoons and forks, paper plates, tissue paper/towel, hawaii slippers/flip flops, beverage bottle, yogurt container buy etc… Everything we choose to use, has an impact and it does matter. 

You would keep your house clean by dumping out the trash..but all the junk never leaves the planet right…Look at a municipal worker paddle his way through a garbage dump (in a local city water source)


Image source: JAY DIRECTO/AFP/Getty Images
A scavenger in a dugout canoe paddles through a sea of garbage along a Manila waterway

All this is to make your surroundings look like this.

 Birds and marine life mistake our plastic garbage and debris for food and ingest them only to die. We are responsible for this. This is neither a regular cyclic change our earth goes through nor is it a natural occurrence. We should be ashamed to see such impact of our mindless actions. We have no right to disturb the eco-system.

source: thechicecologist.com

If you think it doesn’t affect your life or health. Think again, look at this cow munching a plastic bag (in india).

Cows are revered in my country. And this is what an average cow eats – both rural and urban cows tend to eat everything and anything they lay their eyes on. Thanks to the plastic menace, Cows dying due to ingestion of plastic bags is a common thing as of today. Let us not forget that the same cows and buffaloes are milked to provide us with our daily supply of milk /dairy products. And can we ignore the beef consuming population? So, technically, we end up eating these plastic bags ourselves (remember the “FOOD CHAIN” fundamentals)

Is it too late for a wake up call?
Just like that of other green-crusaders, my quest for minimal footprint lifestyle is a stressful journey too. What I dint know yesterday, I learn today. And what I learn and imbibe, I implement in my life right away. We need the will to open up to ideas and think beyond our comfort zone. This a never ending process and needs time and effort. It is worth the effort and is all for our own good!

I am so tired of people arguing with me or anyone else who speaks about going gentle on the planet. It is just their way to cover up their useless ego and be the escapists they are. It makes the job for a green crusader much more difficult because we not only need to clean up the mess these escapists leave behind but also take things forward with such skeptics in tow. It is tiring but we don’t have time to complain, how wonderful would it be if our fellow earthlings, who refuse to do their bit, at least start thinking (for now).

Time and again, I have maintained that, we as a civilized society have gotten used to a certain lifestyle and feel that shifting from usual is difficult. Come to think of it, let us consider a simple things like grocery plastic bags. There was a generation which survived without ready to eat food packs, plastic beverage bottles, and disposable cutlery. It is therefore not unimaginable to survive with out them. Let us make an effort, start with small changes and leave this planet habitable for our children. They deserve that much and more.