Sunday, August 29, 2010

Just Throw it in The Bag (for $0.05)!

Almost a year ago the D.C. City Council imposed a 5 cent tax/charge on plastic bags for customers who buy consumables in the district. The purpose behind the bag tax is 2 fold. One, the council wants to raise money to help clean up the Anacostia River. Second, the council wants to use the tax as a first step towards reducing the use of plastic bags and bottles in DC.

When I heard about this initiative I actually thought it was a good idea.  We all know the issues that face the Anacostia River, and we know that plastic bags are bad for the environment since they are non-biodegradable, and are light weight and hard to keep in one place (like a landfill).  But as time has gone on and I still see people "buying" plastic bags, I wonder if the tax has been beneficial since plastic bags are still available and used regularly.  Could the council have taken this whole bag thing a step further and just removed plastic bags from all businesses?  Could they have charged more than 5 cents for a plastic bag?  Could they do more PR on the reasons why plastic bags are so detrimental to the environment, and specifically the Anacostia River? 

If the whole purpose behind this tax is to reduce the use of plastic bags, I really think people have to have a shift in the way they live to fully make this change.  They have to understand that although plastic bags are convenient, there are other options, and people need to know why this is so important to the environment.  I'm not sure that the average DC resident (or anyone for that matter) is going to get all that just by forcing them to pay an extra 5 cents for a bag.

Brown Tip

Reduce, recycle, reuse:  If you have plastic bags, it's OK, but reuse them instead of throwing them away and buying more.  And just about everyone and their dog has reusable bags now, so load up on those instead of the plastic. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Don't Top Off!!!

This is a special blog of all my Jersey peeps!  You ever notice how when you go to the gas station to fill up the attendant is anxious to add that extra $0.20 worth of gas to your tank after the pump has already stopped?  We all know this technique as "Topping Off" and even people who self pump (like us Marylanders) do it as well.  But did you know you actually don't get any gas?!

Topping off is a complete and utter waste of money and gas vapors.   Topping off your gas tank only makes you pay for gas that's automatically fed back into the pump.  When the pump clicks, your tank is at capacity, so there's no need  in you basking in the joy of seeing the number round up to $35.00 because your only paying the gas station for this happiness.  Additionally, you need the extra room in your gas tank for the gas to expand anyway, so there is no need to try to fill every nook and cranny of your tank. 

Brown Tip:

Save yourself some money and tell the gas station attendant "Don't Top Off!!!" (Jersey accent added).

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dumpster Dive

The summer of 2010 has been one of the hottest summers ever. During these times, most folks escape to the beach or a local pool for relief. But what about people who don't have access to a car to get to a beach or a pool? Enter the Dumpster Pool.

Throughout this summer in NYC there have been 4 reconfigured old trash dumpsters roaming around the city disgusted as pools. The creator of the pools wanted to figure out a way to reuse underutilized materials to spur urban renewel.

What a great idea. This dude not only figured out a great way to recycle something that people would usually just discard but he's also providing a resource to the community.

Brown Tip

Find ways to reuse items in your neighborhood. You can reuse tires as planters, old cans for arts and crafts for children, or donate old tools to a local church or community organization.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I'm Not a Greenie I Just Recycle A Lot

I came across this article on Yahoo! called "Signs of a green hypocrite" and it was hilarious. But then I thought, am I a green hypocrite? I yell at people for recycling, but I have an SUV. I use reusable bags but sometimes I don't leave them in my car and use plastic. Does this make me a sinner? Can I ask for forgiveness from mother nature?

The truth is it's hard and expensive to be green, and while I think we could all do better, we are doing better than before. I bought a Brita water pitcher so now I save water and money. Yea I drive a SUV, but I only fill up on gas every two weeks and I take the Metro to work. And yes sometimes I use a plastic bag but I reuse it at home for other stuff. So I guess we are all hypocrites in some way, shape, or form. But isn't it better to be hypocritical than be inactive?

Brown Tip:
Damn it is hot as hell and we all could drink more water. Why not get yourself a Brita or Pur filter and a reusable bottle (non-BPA!). This will save you tons of money and help save space in the landfill.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

In Those Jeans

I cleaned out my closet the other week and noticed I had a lot of old, unwearable jeans. My first thought was to donate them to the Salvation Army or a Goodwill. But what about the old jeans with paint stains or rips in them? I can't give those away right?!

I did a little research and found out that there is a push for old blue jean recycling! Since blue jeans are 100% cotton, they can be recycled into other items that use cotton as well. Companies like Bonded Logic ( are recycling old blue jeans into insulation for houses! The new insulation is very environmentally friendly since no chemicals are used to develop the insulation, it takes less energy to produce, and the old jeans are being put to use rather than sent to a landfill. Furthermore, people who use jean insulation can get tax credits since it's an energy efficient technology. YAY!

Brown Tip
Give Me Those Jeans

If you have blue jeans that would like recycled into insulation, send them to:
Fair Indigo Denim Drive
c/o Green Jeans Insulation Inc.
1109 W. Milwaukee St.
Stoughton, WI 53589

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Electric Boogie

In the wonderful spirit of environmentalism, Chevrolet has taken a major step by developing the first US produced electric car, the Chevy Volt. The Chevy Volt boost a fuel economy of 230 miles per gallon! OMG!!!! Let me just put this in prospective for you all. This car gets on 2 GALLONS of gas what a Civic (which is a very fule efficient car) gets on an entire tank! The car also gets 40 miles without any gas and a full electric charge!

When I saw the Volt debut I almost cried. OK, that's going a little too far, but I was very proud for a couple reasons.

1. This is an American made car. For the past 20 years American made motors have been out smarted and out sold by the likes of Honda and Toyota. The fact that an American car company has taken on the idea of going green in a way that far surpasses foreign automakers is wonderful because it shows that we, as a country, are getting on board globally with environmental protection.

2. The economy is bad and people in the automotive industry have seen it most. With people world wide becoming more environmentally conscious maybe this will boost sales for Chevy and bring jobs back to America.

3. Dude, could you imagine putting $5 worth of gas in your tank and it lasting you for 2 weeks! This car can save us sooooo much money! And even though the final cost of the Volt has not been publicized, it's estimated it will cost around $21,000, which is less than a Camry or any other car in it's class.

Overall, the Chevy Volt is a win win for the US and the environment. Now, as with anything there will be some issues with the first generation of Volts. However, given the current state of the economy and the environment, I think it's worth more than a test drive.

Brown Tip
I'm Thirsty!

Did you know plastic water bottles are beginning to surpass newspaper as one of the most recycled materials? This might sound nice but wants would be even nicer is if we would use bottles that can be reused (like reuseable plastic bottles or reusable aluminum bottles) or get a Britta or Pur water filter. To reduce the amount of materials going to be recycled which reducing whats going to landfills, we take going green a step further.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


With the passing of Micheal Jackson this week many people have taken a moment to reflect on his music. It is only fitting that this week's Brown Thumb be dedicated to MJ.

I have ALWAYS loved the Earth Song and I truly believe MJ was ahead of his time with this song.

Brown Tip
Be Like Mike

MJ did so much for other people through his music. Let's take a lesson and help others the way MJ would.