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.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Get Smart!

About a year ago I started noticing Smart Cars, the little 2 passenger cars, all over DC. I would laugh when I saw large men in these cars and just swore they were the most uncomfortable and unsafe things on the road. Even a co-worker of mine at EPA said, "They might be good on fuel, but wait until it gets hit by a Hummer!". LOL.

Even though it seemed like they came out of no where, Smart Cars have been a hit overseas since 2000. I think the fact that the Euro folks have embraced the Smart Car says a lot about how different they are as consumers. While we roll around in our Hummers and SUVs, our friends across the pond have embraced this little car as being hip and cool, and why not?! The car gets 33/40 mpg, has 70 horsepower, gets up to 90 miles per hour (which is good enough to keep up with the nice folks on the NJ Turnpike), and is made of 100% recycled synthetic materials. And while this car might seem like it should be a great deal since it only seats two people, the cost of the car is quite high at $13,000-17,000. Not too surprising considering it is produced by Mercedes Benz.

To be honest, as great as the Smart Car is on the environment, I'm a little upset it can't be made more affordable. Especially since going green is usually associated with being thrifty. I would love to have one, in addition to my SUV, for communiting purposes but I am not big mama money bags. But hey, if you can afford it and don't have kids, by all means, buy one!

Brown Tip
Take a hike!

This is not really a brown tip but I want to encourage folks to get out there and get active. More and more researchers are beginning to look at the impact of obesity on the economy and the environment as it relates to the increased cost of health care and resource availability. Furthermore, obesity and health conditions associated with obesity amoung African Americans are on the rise. Lets take some time out from our desks and couches and get some exercise. It doesn't have to be a marathon, but lets do something more for our health.

Friday, May 29, 2009

My President is GREEN!

I'm really excited about the new mileage standards introduced by Pres Obama. With gas on the rise and the economy in the dumps we could all save a little money. And isn't it great that we can help the environment at the same time?!

The New Obama mileage standards, which will take effect in 2012 (which is not that far away), will require cars and light trucks to get an average of 35.5 miles per gallon. DAYUM!!! Right now the only kind of vehicle that gets that type of mileage is a hybrid or smart car. But imagine being able to get that mileage in a car you WANT to be seen in!! I mean, I don't mind hybrids personally. But honestly folks, can you pick up dudes (or females) in a hybrid? They just don't have any swag. Now lets flip it and make it so your BMW 3 series now gets 30 mpg. WHAT!? That will be sooo tight!

But seriously folks, most countries in the world already have more stringent mileage standards in place. So in actuality, we are just playing catch up. As you can see on the chart above, the only folks we are doing better than on our projected mileage standards right now is California, go figure! And of course this will cost us something ($1500 extra per vehicle) but would you rather pay for it in your car payment now or in your taxes later?

Brown Tip
Wind Power!!!

I joined a program through my power company (BGE) to get wind power and it's about a penny cheaper than regular electric! Check it out

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

(Plastic) Baggage

Two weeks ago I took a trip with the Commission (the Prince George's County Solid Waste Commission that is) to the county landfill and composting facility. The purpose of the trip was to give the Commission a better idea of how the county manages it's solids waste. Both facilities were pretty cool and the tours were very informative, but there was something(s) that just kept bothering me. THESE DAMN PLASTIC BAGS!!!! (in the mommy dearest wire hangers voice)

There were plastic bags everywhere! I can't say I was surprised to see them there but I was surprised to find out how much they cost the county. At the composting facility, the managers had to buy a special plastic bag shredder (about $500K worth of equipment) and use workers to collect the bags. At the landfill, the managers have a difficult time keeping the bags on the landfill because they are so lite they can just fly away, so they too have to take extra time (and money) to collect the bags around the landfill.

I understand some people think that outright banning plastic bags and making people pay for reusable bags is not the answer. But I would ask those people this: do you want to pay for the bag now in the store or pay for it later in taxes? You decide.

"I brought my own bags, thank you!"

Reusable bags are so cheap now, most companies give them away for free. Keep them in your car, at your desk, or even in your purse. Just use them! They really do make all the environmental and economic difference.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


This past Earth Day, I had the pleasure of participating in a clean-up at Anacostia Park. Now I know what your thinking, "How can THAT be pleasureful?!" but it really was. Outside of me getting to know Styrofoam plates and the tips of black and mild cigars way too well, I met some young people that take part in the Earth Conservation Corps (ECC).

ECC is a non-profit that works with at risk young adults (17-24) in Washington, DC. They teach the ECC participants about the environment while giving them life skills. The program lasts a year and, according to one of the program managers, there is a waiting list to get into the program. To teach the participants about the environment they do neighborhood clean-ups, discuss the importance of environmental protection, and hold workshops so the participants can get green job skills.

During the clean up I talked with a 21 year old girl named B (not her real name) and asked her how she felt about the program and why she joined. She told me the program saved her life! B had been in and out of jail (12 times) as a young adult. She said she had no motivation to do anything but get money illegally and hang out. But then she got tired. She said she never really thought about what she was going to do with her life until she got in ECC, and it has kept her off the streets. Once she finishes the program she going to get her GED (which ECC will help her with) and start running her own ice cream trucks. She said she wanted to be a better person for her sister, who is starting to go down the same path as her. DAYUM!!!!

Dude, programs like this really get to me. There is one thing to save the environment, but to do that while saving a life...... I could really really appreciate that. There are so many young people lost in this world, and if teaching them about the environment helps them find themselves then I would say that's a win win for all of us.

Brown Tip
Give Back!

If it's the environment, mentoring, helping old folks, whatever you are good at, do something! In these hard economic times people really need to see peoples goodness and showing it doesn't cost anything.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Earth Day Resolution!

Hey folks! It's been awhile since we've talked! I wanna take this time to make a resolution to you (and myself of course) to do better for the environment. For those of you who know me, you know I'm pretty serious about recycling and making sure I take the reusable bags to the grocery store. But I want to take things a little further.

I started this blog to inspire people to be more environmentally aware. I feel like I've lost a bit of that focus. So today, I'm resolving to be a better blogger and environmental advocate. Now, I'm not going to get out on the corner and try to sign you up like the folks at Greenpeace (shout out to Greenpeace!) but I will stay fully committed to this blog and it's purpose. So with that being said......

Earth Day is upon us!!!!!

For those of you who don't know, let me give you a quick history lesson. Earth Day, April 22nd, was started about 40 years ago by a peace activist (you know the hippies had something to do with this) named John McConnell to inspire awareness and appreciation for our environment. Over the years, Earth Day has evolved from a day of teach-ins to a day of service around the world.

I want to ask all of you, especially EPA employees (cause I know some of you read this blog), to get out and do something for the environment for Earth Day. It doesn't have to be a big thing like buying a hybrid or chaining yourself to a tree (but if that's your cause by all means...), but something that shows mother Earth that you appreciate her. And to help you out here's a link to a list of Earth Day activities:


Friday, January 23, 2009

Restoring Intergrity!

This message was sent to all EPA employees from our new Administrator, Lisa Jackson. It's a bit long, but I really feel like she sums up what we've all been thinking over the past 8 years.

DATE: January 23, 2009

TO: All EPA Employees

FROM: Lisa P. Jackson, Administrator-designate

I can think of no higher calling or privilege than rejoining EPA as your Administrator. I am grateful and humbled that President Obama has given me this honor. With his election and with my appointment, President Obama has dramatically changed the face of American environmentalism. With your help, we can now change the face of the environment as well.

During my 21 years in public service, I have witnessed firsthand the dedication and professionalism of EPA’s workforce. Thousands of committed, hard-working and talented employees for whom protecting the environment is a calling, not just a job, have made EPA a driving force in environmental protection since 1970.

EPA can meet the nation’s environmental challenges only if our employees are fully engaged partners in our shared mission. That’s why I will make respect for the EPA workforce a bedrock principle of my tenure. I will look to you every day for ideas, advice and expertise. EPA should once again be the workplace of choice for veteran public servants and also talented young people beginning careers in environmental protection – just as it was for me when I first joined EPA shortly after graduate school.

In outlining his agenda for the environment, President Obama has articulated three values that he expects EPA to uphold. These values will shape everything I do.

Science must be the backbone for EPA programs. The public health and environmental laws that Congress has enacted depend on rigorous adherence to the best available science. The President believes that when EPA addresses scientific issues, it should rely on the expert judgment of the Agency’s career scientists and independent advisors. When scientific judgments are suppressed, misrepresented or distorted by political agendas, Americans can lose faith in their government to provide strong public health and environmental protection.

The laws that Congress has written and directed EPA to implement leave room for policy judgments. However, policy decisions should not be disguised as scientific findings. I pledge that I will not compromise the integrity of EPA’s experts in order to advance a preference for a particular regulatory outcome.

EPA must follow the rule of law. The President recognizes that respect for Congressional mandates and judicial decisions is the hallmark of a principled regulatory agency. Under our environmental laws, EPA has room to exercise discretion, and Congress has often looked to EPA to fill in the details of general policies. However, EPA needs to exercise policy discretion in good faith and in keeping with the directives of Congress and the courts. When Congress has been explicit, EPA cannot misinterpret or ignore the language Congress has used. When a court has determined EPA’s responsibilities under our governing statutes, EPA cannot turn a blind eye to the court’s decision or procrastinate in complying.

EPA’s actions must be transparent. In 1983, EPA Administrator Ruckelshaus promised that EPA would operate "in a fishbowl" and “will attempt to communicate with everyone from the environmentalists to those we regulate, and we will do so as openly as possible."

I embrace this philosophy. Public trust in the Agency demands that we reach out to all stakeholders fairly and impartially, that we consider the views and data presented carefully and objectively, and that we fully disclose the information that forms the bases for our decisions. I pledge that we will carry out the work of the Agency in public view so that the door is open to all interested parties and that there is no doubt why we are acting and how we arrived at our decisions.

We must take special pains to connect with those who have been historically underrepresented in EPA decision making, including the disenfranchised in our cities and rural areas, communities of color, native Americans, people disproportionately impacted by pollution, and small businesses, cities and towns working to meet their environmental responsibilities. Like all Americans, they deserve an EPA with an open mind, a big heart and a willingness to listen.

As your Administrator, I will uphold the values of scientific integrity, rule of law and transparency every day. If ever you feel I am not meeting this commitment, I expect you to let me know.

Many vital tasks lie before us in every aspect of EPA’s programs. As I develop my agenda, I will be seeking your guidance on the tasks that are most urgent in protecting public health and the environment and on the strategies that EPA can adopt to maximize our effectiveness and the expertise of our talented employees. At the outset, I would like to highlight five priorities that will receive my personal attention:

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The President has pledged to make responding to the threat of climate change a high priority of his administration. He is confident that we can transition to a low-carbon economy while creating jobs and making the investment we need to emerge from the current recession and create a strong foundation for future growth. I share this vision. EPA will stand ready to help Congress craft strong, science-based climate legislation that fulfills the vision of the President. As Congress does its work, we will move ahead to comply with the Supreme Court’s decision recognizing EPA’s obligation to address climate change under the Clean Air Act.

Improving air quality. The nation continues to face serious air pollution challenges, with large areas of the country out of attainment with air-quality standards and many communities facing the threat of toxic air pollution. Science shows that people’s health is at stake. We will plug the gaps in our regulatory system as science and the law demand.

Managing chemical risks. More than 30 years after Congress enacted the Toxic Substances Control Act, it is clear that we are not doing an adequate job of assessing and managing the risks of chemicals in consumer products, the workplace and the environment. It is now time to revise and strengthen EPA’s chemicals management and risk assessment programs.

Cleaning up hazardous-waste sites. EPA will strive to accelerate the pace of cleanup at the hundreds of contaminated sites across the country. Turning these blighted properties into productive parcels and reducing threats to human health and the environment means jobs and an investment in our land, our communities and our people.

Protecting America’s water. EPA will intensify our work to restore and protect the quality of the nation’s streams, rivers, lakes, bays, oceans and aquifers. The Agency will make robust use of our authority to restore threatened treasures such as the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay, to address our neglected urban rivers, to strengthen drinking-water safety programs, and to reduce pollution from non-point and industrial dischargers.

As we meet these challenges, we must be sensitive to the burdens pollution has placed on vulnerable subpopulations, including children, the elderly, the poor and all others who are at particular risk to threats to health and the environment. We must seek their full partnership in the greater aim of identifying and eliminating the sources of pollution in their neighborhoods, schools and homes.

EPA’s strength has always been our ability to adapt to the constantly changing face of environmental protection as our economy and society evolve and science teaches us more about how humans interact with and affect the natural world. Now, more than ever, EPA must be innovative and forward looking because the environmental challenges faced by Americans all across our country are unprecedented.

These challenges are indeed immense in scale and urgency. But, as President Obama said Tuesday, they will be met. I look forward to joining you at work on Monday to begin tackling these challenges together.

WHEW!! I feel GOOD!

Brown Tip
Wash Them Dirty Draws!

A good friend of mines is expecting her first baby and has decided to use cloth diapers. I am soooo happy about this. Regular diapers are not biodegradable so they stay in landfills FOREVER, take up lots of landfill space (for those of you who hate the thought of a landfill exspanding), and pose threats to clean water from runoff. Cloth diapers can be used forever and simply washed in the washing machine. I know what you're thinking, "I'm not putting crappy diapers in my washing machine!", well you don't have to. There are pleanty of wonderful diaper services that do nothing but wash poopy diapers for you.