Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Green Festival Returns to Seattle March 28 & 29

Green Festival, touted as the fastest growing green consumer event in the country, returns to Seattle for a second year. Co-hosted by the city of Seattle, the 2009 Green Festival will introduce sustainable options for a transitioning economy, growing consumer consciousness, and evolving environmental policy.

The Seattle Green Festival will host 125 visionary speakers, 350 local and national green businesses, and dozens of community and nonprofit groups. Each business is thoroughly vetted by Green America to ensure they are authentically sustainable.

This year, Green Festival welcomes one of America’s most influential chefs, Alice Waters, to discuss the local organic food revolution she begin in 1971. In “An Edible Education,” Waters will be joined by film director Chris Taylor to share her vision of potentially greening the White House to create a national model and expand the sustainable narrative school systems. Seattle-specific programming ranges from interactive panels on “Undriving Stories: Getting Creative About Getting Around” and “What Does Green Art Look Like” to Alisa Gravitz’s nationally relevant “Green Fixes for the Economic Mess” presentation.

Click here for event Details

Monday, March 23, 2009

World Water Day - Demonstration Planned in Olympia March 25th.

Who knew yesterday was World Water Day? Not me.

According the press release I got, World Water Day is an international observance that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro. The United Nations General Assembly designated 22 March of each year as the World Day for Water by adopting a resolution. States were invited to devote the Day to implement the UN recommendations and set up concrete activities as deemed appropriate in the national context.

A demonstration is planned on March 25th by local organizers. The target? Our fair Governor Christine Gregiore, and State spending on bottled water.

Now, Green Human has written about the "evils" of bottled water in the past. Among them: (1) the resources used to bottle, transport, make and recycle the plastic containers used to hold the water. (2) the fact that, most of the time, the water in the bottle isn't any different than the water that comes out of your tap. (3) the water quality can actually be WORSE than the water coming out of your tap.

GH advocates (and uses) a re-usable metal container to hold water for when I want to take it with me (Mrs. GH bought it for me). I noticed that the water stays cold longer in it (metal insulates) and actually tastes better because it's fresher (I just got it out of the tap).

So, onto the "Protest".

Local organizers have planned a demonstration on the Legislative Building onto the Office of the Governor, Suite 200 416 14th Avenue SW, Olympia 98501 for March 25, 2009, 10:30am.

Why? They want Governor Gregoire to cancel State contracts for bottled water believing it will save the State money (although it's unclear how much) and, according to the press release "to send the message that our most essential public resource cannot be made subject to the same corporate greed and market forces that have imperiled our economy."

Hmm, well that sounds pretty militant, but I have to agree that: (a) for a State Government (and Governor) that claims to be eco-conscious (sure had a lot to say about that during the race against Rossi), it's pretty hard to defend spending money on a product that unquestionably uses (wastes) resources and creates pollution, and (b) doesn't actually provide much (any?) real incremental benefit - other than convenience - to the people using it.

Hey, I'm not here to rip on our overworked state workers but really, it's pretty darn easy to walk over the tap and turn it on. So, how about water pitchers and paper cups at all those meetings? You'd be doing something good AND setting a good example. It'd also make a statement that our State workers are serious about saving money during this economy. Plus, a little extra walking (to the sink) can't be a bad lifestyle decision either.

Seattle dumps dumpsters- and former garbage workers.

CleanScapes has landed the City of Seattle contract to be the new garbage hauler in Central and Northeast Seattle.

According to their website "CleanScapes is a local "green" company, built on the principles of sustainability and excellent customer service". Their site goes on to say "Founded in Pioneer Square in 1997, CleanScapes has worked closely with the City of Seattle for years, developing and piloting innovative options for waste collection and reduction."

It goes on to state that they support key sustainablity options including: (a) elimination of the unsightly dumpsters opting instead for plastic bags that are scheduled to be picked up more often, (b) using sustainable fuels for their vehicles including remanufacturing used fryer oil into biodiesel, replacing 10 percent of their fleet every year to ensure they are running the latest emissions technology, (c) building their own Clean Energy Compressed Natural Gas station in Georgetown to power their new CNG fleet in Seattle.

Okay, apart from the obvious safety and beauty benefits of getting rid of dumpsters, I'm not completely convinced that replacing them with "plastic bags" is, all by itself, more environmentally friendly. I'd need to hear more about that. But the other stuff all sounds good.

But the next part is a bit stickier. GreenScapes claims to be committed to "Local people -- Local jobs". Apparently, as part of their winning the city bid, they needed to first offer jobs to displaced employees of the trash company that lost the bid. Except that, according to a news story on KCPQ last night, there are lots of workers about to be out of work that aren't getting re-hired. The company says it doesn't need them all. But the workers claim that the few workers that are being hired are those with less tenure (read cheaper).

That's the background. Here's the question.

Is it okay to displace workers - garbage truck drivers - etc, that have had these jobs (probably union) for years and years, in favor of newer, less expensive workers that cost the city less and hope to provide a more environmentally friendly service?

Put another way. "Are we willing to put people out of work IF it saves the city money and provides a "greener" alternative? Somewhat ironic given that our Federal Gov't wants to hire more people in order to turn around the economy.

So, is this change in service a good idea? A good idea at a bad time" Or a bad idea?

Your turn.