Junk to gems to energy efficiency 

This post is devoted to some great green ideas I’ve come across recently, some of which can be useful to your office or home and others that provide some inspiration for just how easy it can be to go green if you just put your mind to it and get creative.

Granted the use of e-mail, various online file sharing services and electronic faxes have eliminated a great deal of the mail we receive, but junk mail is another story. It seems there are many days when the mailbox runneth over with catalogs and credit card offers.

Check out these stats from 41pounds.org, a nonprofit organization working to eliminate junk mail:
• The average adult receives 41 pounds of junk mail each year; 44% goes to the landfill unopened.
• On average, we receive 16 pieces of junk mail a week, compared to only 1.5 personal letters.
• The majority of household waste consists of junk mail.
• Junk mail inks have high concentrations of heavy metals, making the paper difficult to recycle.
• California’s state and local governments spend $500,000 a year collecting and disposing of AOL’s direct mail disks alone.
• Transporting junk mail costs $550 million a year.

Yikes! That’s a lot of junk mail. So, what can you do? Sites like 41pounds.org and YellowPagesGoesGreen.org will contact distributors on your behalf and stop the unwanted mail. 41pounds.org does charge a fee ($41 for a five-year period and does donate a portion of each new subscriber’s fee to an environmental charity of their choice).

And while you’re at it, check out Junk Mail Gems, which makes useful items from, you guessed it, junk mail. Everyone has some scratch paper next to the office phone, so why not store it in a box made from junk mail? Green Thumbs Up, Junk Mail Gems!

The city of Charleston, S.C., is assessing ways to reduce energy consumption in the city, not only making the city greener, but also creating green jobs. The city’s Boston-based consultant Serrafix recommends the city launch an organization that would give businesses and homeowners everything they need to know about energy-efficiency projects in one place.

According to this article in The Post & Courier: “From this single organization a building owner could arrange a home energy audit, find out what changes would produce the greatest savings, learn about rebates and government incentives, select an approved contractor, and have the work done with no up-front cost. The building owner would realize utility bill savings immediately, and pay off improvement costs over an extended period of time through a surcharge on their water bill.”

Charleston could become a national model for energy efficiency if it implements some of the recommended programs.

You know those entertainment books filled with retail and restaurants coupons? Well, San Diego now has something similar but with a green twist. The “Go Green Book” ($25) has coupons from eco-friendly retailers as well as tips and ideas for how to green your home, dine on organic food, get fit and exploring San Diego’s many parks and attractions. What a great way to save some green! (Employers, think about this as a good employee incentive gift.)

OK, let’s hear the cool green ideas you’ve found recently. Post a comment below.

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