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Living Sustainably

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Bioplastics – Sustainability without compromise

Even the New Bioplastics Trash Bags Represent Much More than Business as Usual

Are you listening? ‘Bioplastics,’ in a word, now seem to have the potential to become one of the biggest business stories of the 21st century, much in the way conventional plastics has been for the past 60 years. The marketplace for biodegradable plastics is growing rapidly as American and European consumers demand sustainable, ‘green’ alternatives to traditional plastics for many common items, including food service, packaging and everyday plastic trash bags.

Bioplastics are made from renewable resources and native plant starches such as corn, tapioca, wheat and potatoes, as well as cane sugar and soy, unlike conventional plastics that are made from fossil fuels which can be harmful to health and the environment. Though still its infancy, the industry is growing fast and the global market for biodegradable, compostable plastics is enormous. Though not as large as the $2.5 trillion conventional plastics industry, many believe that bioplastics will increasingly rival traditional plastics in the not so distant future. And if past is prologue, bioplastics seems to have a very bright future given the ubiquitous and pervasive nature of plastics themselves. Plastics are used in everything from packaging, clothes we wear, cars we drive as well as in countless other industrial applications, consumer goods and electronics.

The global market for bioplastics is estimated to be approximately 570 million pounds and is forecast to increase to 1.2 billion pounds in 2012, which represents an almost 18% annual growth rate over the next three years, according to BCC Research. Currently, bioplastics represents only 0.1% of the total plastics market. However, some predict that the global market for bioplastics could reach $20 billion by the end of 2020. This is being driven by consumers’ preferences for sustainable plastic solutions that protect the health and the environment, higher oil prices, which make bio-based plastics a better value proposition, and manufacturing technology that has resulted in materials that are performance competitive and 100% recyclable.

Even simple household items such as garbage bags and trash liners stand to be revolutionized and make a big impact to our health and the welfare of our planet. It is estimated that that 500 billion to one trillion bags are made across the world each year, requiring millions of barrels of oil in their production, not to mention colorants and inks that can be toxic to human health and the environment. They are then discarded, with only about 1% being recycled, and are left to pollute our oceans, lakes, rivers, and grass lands, being blow away and becoming non-compostable litter, the equivalent of dumping millions of barrels of oil into the environment each year. Unlike bioplastics, conventional plastics do not biodegrade, and remain in as pollutants indefinitely. A number of companies, such as Trellis Earth Products, have already realized the extent of the problem and have begun producing bioplastic bags and food packaging that is biodegradable.

Trellis is a leader in supplying and manufacturing branded biodegradable food packaging and plastic bags that are made from renewable resources and sold to many restaurants and businesses across the country. Its products range from 30% biomass to 100% biomass and various tiers in between. Trellis’s biodegradable trash liner, which can decompose in both landfill conditions (in the presence of other bioactive matter), has the ability to change the evolution of how trash is treated. Whether trash becomes a fuel source, via methane capture in landfills, or bioplastics are used as a recycling feedstock, or in some cases as compostable nutrients, they can play a major role in the reduction of the use of toxic petrochemicals and their impact on the environment. Trellis’s products offer cost advantages that will allow more and more businesses to switch to bioplastics at the same price as traditional plastics and ‘Go Green for Free.’

About Trellis

Founded in 2006, Trellis is an early established innovator in bioplastics and sustainable food service packing and plastic bags with over 100 SKUs and integrated branding, manufacturing and distribution selling to major retail chains and corporations in the U.S. Trellis products employ a proprietary blend of biomass and conventional polymers for a lower blended average cost of materials. For more information, please visit Trellis website: www.TrellisEarth.com

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Cooler Planet & Green-Trust Collaboration

Cooler Planet is excited to be partnering with Green Trust.org and helping spread the word out about Solar Energy. Cooler Planet is a Seattle based company that helps home and business owners around the country learn about solar power, get questions answered, and ultimately find local solar professionals that are an ideal fit for their solar projects.

If you have every though about installing a solar panel system for your home or business, Cooler Planet can help you in the process. We provide free phone consultations, online tools, cost calculators, and educational resources for solar shoppers. We can provide information about the costs of solar and what rebates and incentives are available in your area – and it’s all totally free!

In many areas of the country, going solar can immediately save you money on your utility bills while reducing your carbon footprint and helping stop climate change. Fill out the form below if you’re curious about the details and our team will contact you shortly to help! Thanks, and Go Solar!

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Organic Fertilizer / Potting Soil

Recently we bought a bag of organic potting mix from Walmart. It was the Miracle Grow Organic Choice (Container) Potting Mix, which contains sphagnum peat moss, partially composted wood chips, and chicken litter (.10/.05/.05). It’s a bit expensive at 16.8 lbs for $10 ($.65 / lb. w/tax), but it works well in our bucket garden (chicken litter – wear gloves). Then a friend of ours sent us some of his worm castings. At $28 for 30 lbs. (free shipping), it’s a bit more expensive ($.93 / lb), but it’s local, small business, and more sustainable (no peat moss and no chunks of bark). We are setting up additional buckets of tomatoes and lettuce, and will keep you posted on our progress. We have used worm compost in the past, with fantastic results.

Check out Jeff’s work at http://organicandmechanic.ecrater.com/

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Extreme off grid, with kids

When Lawren Richards made the shift from jet-setting business woman to single mom with two young children in a 400 square foot cottage, she embraced the change, and now lives off grid in the woods where she is teaching her children the value of self sufficiency. Read more at http://www.green-trust.org/CottageMag.pdf

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ENERGY SAVERS — practical ways individuals and businesses can save energy.

  • 4/22 – GREEN-CENTIVES.    Companies offering workers a bonus to buy hy-brids, solar panels, and other measures to save energy.  Good for the environment AND business, because it attracts top employees.
  • 4/23 – CARBON OFFSETS.   You hear the term ‘carbon offsets’ used a lot these days.  This piece explains how people can buy “offsets” in order to subsidize businesses that turn waste into energy.   
  • 4/24 – CLUBS.    New clubs help neighbors reduce energy consumption.  Like Weight Watchers, the groups meet to compare energy bills and share tips for savings.

Getting Paid to Drive Green:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/04/22/eveningnews/main4035867.shtml

Learning About Emissions From Business: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/04/23/eveningnews/main4039729.shtml

Calculating Your Carbon Footprint: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/04/24/eveningnews/main4043555.shtml

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Good Food, Good Business

“Good Food, Good Business” is a collection of insights from growers, a grocer, a restauranteur and experts on the innovative connections being used to open new markets and increase profits.

The owner and staff of an urban organic farm build ties with families through a successful community supported agriculture business (CSA) and mutually beneficial relationships with top local restaurants.

Owners of a mid-size organic farm focus on opportunities to listen to commercial customers and consumers so they align with trends, manage growth and remain good stewards of their land.

A restaurant owner-chef relies on relationships with local growers to help them flourish and allow him to serve the fresh, top quality food that has garnered national awards and the highest industry ratings.

The owner of a nationally recognized chain of grocery stores embraces the idea of connecting regional farmers and customers to create a sense of community within the food supply chain.

Also, national experts, businesspeople and organization leaders offer their thoughts about the links between the food industry and consumers, as well as opportunities in the expanding local and organic food markets.

Interviews include: Brian Rohter (New Seasons Markets), Shari Raider (Sauvie Island Organics), Bill and Karla Chambers (Stahlbush Island Farms), Cory Schreiber (Wildwood Restaurant & Bar), Martin Goebel (Sustainable Northwest), Dave Williams (ShoreBank Pacific), Bob Willard (author and corporate trainer on sustainability) and Anthony Cortese (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education).

“Good Food, Good Business” is designed for the following audiences: higher education agriculture programs, CSAs, organizations supporting local and organic food production, food marketing leaders, chefs, culinary schools, government agencies linked to food production, grocers, and business leaders in the food industry.

Trailer

http://www.arnoldcreekproductions.com/Sustainability.htm

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Getting together with Renewable Energy Friends

We are making some plans for some projects, and going over other projects with some friends. DJ MacIntyre of Le Boisé Alternatives and I are planning a trip to John Ferguson of Belleghuan Ltd., to convert his diesel truck to run on vegetable oil. DJ runs a Renewable Energy business in Ontario Canada, John sells listeroid diesel engines, among other things, also in Ontario, less than 2 hours north of us. Both are interesting folks to know. Larry Barr of Rebelwolf/ESSN fame has started some new RE projects, including a solar power mobile (HAM) radio shack, and a new RE Blog, which you can read about at http://offgrid.green-trust.org/. The guy piling holes are filled with concrete and dirt for the new wind tower, so Jim Juczak from Woodhenge and I will be raising the wind machine shortly. Dharam had a death in his extended family, so he will be cutting short his stay here to be with his people, and we will finish his veggie bus when he returns. Combined with a stomach bug that flowed through here and hit a few folks, it’s been a busy week.

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