Yesterday, at 8:30pm local time wherever you were, many people recognized Earth Hour across the globe. It is a pretty simple concept to ask people to take 60 minutes out of their night to turn off their lights. That’s it.
I found myself hurrying to finish some computer work at 8:24pm before putting my laptop to sleep and shutting off all the lights. Before I walked out the door for dinner… I even snuck back in and hit the power strip in the home office. I applaud the organizers for the simplicity of just asking everyone (anywhere in the world) to turn off their lights and in fact vote with their switches.
That same philosophy of simplicity and action is shared by a familiar group… us! One small step like turning off our lights can have people thinking about whether they leave the light on next time or other small steps they can do. Perhaps next time you might even skip turning on a light in the first place…
We recently received a note from our sticker manufacturer Lightning Labels stating that they would be switching their eco-friendy Earthfirst PLA label material over to a new material called Natureflex – a wood pulp based substance manufactured from sustainably farmed trees. As a side note, cheers to Lightning Labels – these guys have great customer service and noting that we are an environmentally friendly (understatement ;-) ) company made sure to send us a specific note on the switch.
Most importantly though, it sounds like the right move from an environmental perspective. Lightning labels cites 3 main reasons for the switch, and I’ll add a 4th:
PLA is made from corn which takes away from the food supply for humans and farm animals, and has contributed to an increase in food prices for products with a corn component.
There are problems with the recycling of plastic containers with a PLA label – which means many such containers actually end up in landfills rather than being recycled.
Whole Foods is actively discouraging its suppliers from using PLA.
Many forms of PLA are only compostable in a commercial composting facility (not in your backyard).
You can read more at lightning labels blog about their reasons for switching, and you can also check out an article from Oregon Live regarding composting & recycling concerns with PLA.
For now, we have quite a few PLA-based stickers already eagerly waiting to be stuck. We did however want to share what feels like a smart move on the part of one of our suppliers and let ya’ll know that we’ll be keeping a close eye on the most environmentally responsible way to manufacture Viv stickers.
We feel very fortunate to see the excitement for Viv popping up across San Francisco. For instance, I met Alicia this week who literally jumped when I mentioned Viv (she had just heard about us the day before). So simply put… the excitement is awesome.
This week we had a gracious article about Viv written by Amie Vaccaro. Definitely check out the post at Triple Pundit. If you have any ideas or feedback, you can always comment below or visit the About Viv page on how to share it with us.
There are many items that can be both composted and recycled (e.g., un-soiled paper, cotton clothing, cardboard). The question is – what should I do with these items: recycle or compost?
I didn’t know the answer for a while, so I figured there may be a bunch of other folks who are also confused, and I thought I’d share what I’ve learned.
Anything that’s ever been alive biodegrades. That includes: leaves, twigs, bark, food (of all types: vegetables, meat, dairy, grains, even egg shells & bones), cotton (including dryer lint or pure cotton clothing), paper (comes from trees), cardboard… the list goes on.
Common items that don’t biodegrade include: metals (like aluminum foil), plastic (made from petroleum), or glass.
Anything that biodegrades can be put into a compost (and many things that both biodegrade and don’t biodegrade can be recycled). So which is better? If an item can be both composted & recycled – on the whole, recycling it is better for the environment.
It takes less energy to recycle (and in essence re-purpose or re-use) a piece of paper or an old piece of clothing than it does to break this item down through biodegradation and then make a brand new piece of paper or cotton t-shirt. And clearly, using less energy is good for the environment.
Now you also have to apply some common sense here – if your recycling center is a 50 mile drive away and your compost is in your backyard, then the math is pretty clear in the other direction. But for the most part this rule will hold true.
A few other things to remember: - soiled paper cannot be recycled and should go into the compost - it’s fine to add a bit of paper to your composting bin to make sure to soak up the other wet contents and make sure items are biodegrading (although try to do this w/ soiled paper if possible) - some sources cite that the market for recycled goods has been hard hit by the economic downturn and that scrap goods which were set to be recycled are now being shifted to landfills due to a lack of buyers. If this perpetuates, it could end up being more efficient to switch to composting. For now, stick with recycling - if you do end up composting paper, be careful not to compost heavily inked papers (e.g., magazines) – this can contaminate your compost - paper/cardboard makes up nearly 40% of our landfill waste, so get that stuff into the recycling bin
Saturday we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, inviting friends and Vivers over to celebrate the greenest of holidays. It was quite a day filled with fun, food (including a special green Jell-O recipe that was a big hit), and general merriment.
Dinesh and I started preparing for the fiesta less than a week before, with plenty(!) to do on top of running the business. However, it only took a couple minutes to make sure we avoided a lot of unnecessary trash and pushed “waste diversion“. It’s the same thing we discuss with our businesses that Viv each week and how they can avoid unnecessary trash going to landfills.
We bought paper plates that can be composted instead of styrofoam or plastic ones; found a grocery store that offered compostable cups & cutlery versus those made from plastic; picked up biobags instead of plastic trash bags for food scraps & serving ware that would be composted; and separated the composting, recycling (e.g., bottles, bottle caps, newspaper), and trash after the party. Those were just a few of the things that took very little time to prepare or do.
In the end, we only had a half-bag of trash (for the landfill) after the cooking preparation from Friday, party favors that guests brought, and all the fun had on Saturday. That amount was matched by four grocery-sized bags of stuff for composting and another five similar-sized bags of recycling. A little effort can go a long way.
I better wrap up with Monday morning closing in fast…
While I was on the street this week, I had a chance to check in on some of our businesses that Viv includingWagsin Nob Hill. Johnny and Tyler started this dog grooming & boarding business together.Every time I stop by, Johnny always welcomes me with a big smile & hearty hello– who wouldn’t be happy when you are surrounded by a bunch of friendly, care-free dogs all day?He is a lucky guy.
With clippers in one hand trimming a small pup with a thick black coat, Johnny said that he and Tyler had thought about what else Wags could do to be eco-conscious after they joined Viv.(They have already done plenty if you have not checked out their Viv profile yet.)Simple– they took a look around… literally. Why not collect all the trimmed dog hair, take it home, and compost it?Bingo!With one small move, they could make a dent in the amount of garbage that goes out the door.
It does not take much– even itty bitty steps add up– to have big results.That’s what it’s all about with Viv.
Dropped connections are no fun. (Understatement.) We do not have a phone line for you to call, but the same goes that we would hate to lose touch because of technology. So instead, we thought we would use modern technology to keep you connected with us.
Many of you (RB, AC, KH, PM, RU… to mention just a few) have asked for more news, updates, wins, and fun surprises. Here you go with our Facebook/DoYouViv, Twitter profile (@DoYouViv), and YouNoodle page. More to come soon. If you have anything else you want to see, just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment. Don’t forget there is also the rest of the site, too.
With all the work going on, we took a break– only about five seconds really– to celebrate our 50th store joining Viv. After all the hours logged in the last month alone, it felt great hitting the half-century mark.
Viv is about you more than it is about us. It is about creating a way for you– empowering you– to do a little green. You with a simple little sticker can cause real green change. Itty bitty steps, big results.
So in case you were wondering where you can use a sticker, you can always find businesses that Viv on our site or browse our map. Or start by registering and we will mail you a free pack of stickers.
It’s Sunday and a little after midnight. Back to work in a few hours.