Monthly Archives: May 2008

That CRT belongs at Goodwill, not in the landfill

If the lane behind your house looks anything like mine, it’s generally lined with stuff set out for a trip to the landfill. Sadly, the furniture, clothing and building materials that I see on a weekly basis really don’t belong buried in the ground, as they can still be used.

Often punctuating the piles of cast offs are consumer electronic items, which are full of nasty stuff. I was pleased to learn today that the Jewish Educational Alliance and Goodwill Industries of the Coastal Empire are teaming up to steer desktops, laptops, monitors and keyboards away from the landfill and toward refurbishment and resale.

While electronic recycling events happen locally at various times of year, the interesting thing about this alliance is the placement of a bin in the lobby of the JEA. This makes it easier for donors to send their old computer gear to a better place at their convenience, instead of having it sit around gathering dust until the next electronics recycling day.

There’s an obvious environmental benefit in this program, but it also achieves economic sustainability goals as well, since the donated computers offer “opportunities for low-income families to purchase professionally refurbished PC systems at a price they can afford.” That’s in addition to the core mission of Goodwill: providing “job training, employment services, job placement opportunities and post employment support to strengthen communities and families by training people to become independent, tax-paying members of society.”

Donors can also rest assured that although their computers will be reused, their data won’t be. Goodwill’s hard drive wiping protocol uses “one of several programs, which are approved by the United States Department of Defense.”

Restaurants Latest to “Go Green”

The slogan of Ted Turner’s chain of 50+ casual dining restaurants, Ted’s Montana Grill, is “Eat Great. Do Good.”  Ted’s Montana Grill is now a 99% plastic-free establishment (what about that remaining 1%?) that recycles and features water and energy efficient fixtures.  I know, I know, this is nothing new.  Many restaurants across the country have long been green -promoters of local foodways and farmers, organics, slow food, etc.  What makes this newsworthy is that Ted is a celebrity empire-maker and his inexpensive, All-American restaurants have mass appeal.

Plus, Turner’s foundation has deep pockets.  Pockets that are helping to fund the “Conserve Initiative” that was unveiled at yesterday’s National Restaurant Association convention in Chicago.  The initiative aims to encourage the nation’s 945,000 restaurants to think about conserving energy, water & materials.  Check out the newly launched Conserve Initiative website HERE.

Even if the restaurant industry made nominal improvements, the impact would be huge.

According to the Green Restaurant Association, a typical restaurant generates more than 100,000 pounds of garbage per location per year.  Pacific Gas & Electric’s Food Service Technology Center found that the average restaurant annually consumes roughly 500,000 kilowatt hours of electricity, 20,000 therms of natural gas and 800,000 gallons of water. Using the latest EPA carbon equivalents, that amounts to an estimated 490 tons of carbon dioxide produced per year per restaurant.

It would be great to see the Lady leading the charge locally.  If nothing else, her name certainly lends itself . . . I can see the headlines now . . . PAULA DEEN GOES GREEN

The Lady

GA Supreme Court Examines Scope of CMPA

Background: The Coastal Marshlands Protection Act (CMPA) states . . .

This coastal marshlands resource system is costly, if not impossible, to reconstruct or rehabilitate once adversely affected by man. It is important to conserve this system for the present and future use and enjoyment of all citizens and visitors to our state. Activities and structures in the coastal marshlands must be regulated to ensure that the values and functions of the coastal marshlands are not impaired and to fulfill the responsibilities of each generation as public trustees of the coastal marshlands for succeeding generations. (Code 1981, § 12-5-281, enacted by Ga. L. 1992, p. 2294, § 1.)

AND

A Coastal Marshlands Protection Act permit is required for any project which involves removing, filling, dredging, draining or otherwise altering any marshlands. Once a permitted project is constructed, it can be maintained without a permit as long as maintenance does not alter natural vegetation or topography of the site. (O.C.G.A. § 12-5-286(a))

Cumberland Harbor Project Map

Today, the Georgia Supreme Court heard arguments in a dispute regarding Cumberland Harbour, a 1,014-acre gated subdivision (with 1,200 proposed homes) built across from the Cumberland Island National Seashore on a peninsula surrounded by marshlands. The proposed project is highlighted in red on the map above.

In 2005, Cumberland Harbour developer, the Land Resource Cos., was granted a state permit to build two marinas and three community docks over public marshlands/waterbottoms. This would create the largest marina complex in Georgia with more than 17,500 linear feet (approx. 3.5 miles) of floating docks.

The Cumberland Harbour project has been tied up in court ever since, with opponents (represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center) arguing that state regulators granted the marina permit without considering the potential negative impacts to the marsh caused by polluting stormwater runoff from the entire development (including homes built on the peninsula’s uplands).

The central legal issue before the Court is whether development on land, rather than just in the marsh itself, is covered by the CMPA.

In 2006, an Administrative Law Judge and the Fulton County Superior Court said yes. In 2007, the Georgia Court of Appeals said no. One way or the other, the State Supreme Court decision on this matter will have a significant impact on Coastal Georgia development.

Coastal Georgia salt marsh comprises approximately 1/3 of the total salt marsh acreage remaining on the East Coast. Georgia’s coastal marshes are of great importance to the region’s ecology, economy, culture and history. The marshes provide protection from coastal flooding and erosion, habitat and nourishment for fish and wildlife (including commercially and recreationally significant fish and shellfish), recreational opportunities and a natural filter to control and disseminate pollutants.

We’ll be following this case, so check back for updates. In the mean time, you can read more about the history of this legal issue (including the development’s probable negative impact on right whales, manatees and sea turtles) HERE.

What do you think Sustainable Savannah readers . . . How far upstream should marshland protection regulations extend?

Middle of May means many green events

There’s something sustainable happening every day for the rest of the week. Doubt me? Submitted for your consideration:

gds.jpgTuesday: The May installment of Green Drinks Savannah happens at Cha Bella, located near the corner of Broughton and East Broad streets. The events starts at 5:30 p.m. More information is available here.

Wednesday: SCAD’s chapters of the The American Society of Interior Designers and the International Interior Design Association present a lecture called “Off the Grid,” by Mariyn Whitne and Cindy Faulhaber. The event begins at 7:45 p.m. in Room 104 of Eichberg Hall, located at 229 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Attendees will “learn from a designer and a client what it takes to design an ‘off the grid’ home.” Disclosure: I am a SCAD employee.

Thursday:
You can save the trip out to whichever Gwinnett Street recycling drop off point you prefer and take your aluminum cans off at St. James AME church at 631 E. Broad St. The church’s Recycling Committee will accept your cans between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6:15 a.m. in an effort to “preserve the environment for God and the community.” For more information, contact Willie Stephens at 631-2674. Cans will also be accepted during the same hours May 13-22.

Friday: The Savannah Development and Renewal Authority and other partner organizations encourage everyone to “Dump the Pump” and leave their cars at home Friday, May 16. The purpose of Dump the Pump: Leave Your Car At Home Day is to raise awareness about the benefits of using alternative modes of transportation and to encourage people to commute by carpooling, mass transit, bicycling and walking. A full rundown of Dump the Pump events, which include a coffee break for alternative commuters and a “crosswalk action,” can be found here.

Saturday: The Starland Farmers Market is open from 9 a.m. until noon in several indoor and outdoor locations throughout the Starland Dairy district, bounded by Whitaker to Drayton and from 39th to 41st. More information is here.

Sunday: The Savannah Bicycle Campaign presents its second Savannah Wheelie Ride. The casual, slow paced ride coincides with the Sand Gnats’ May 18 battle with the Greenville Drive (there is a message here: Ride, don’t Drive). The live leaves Grayson Stadium at 1pm, returning for the 2pm Gnats game. Savannah Wheelie participants will get in for $5, which is $2 off the general admission price. More information here.

Sustainable Savannah is (sort of) hiring!

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That’s right! Sustainable Savannah is currently seeking qualified individuals to expand its coverage of the events, programs, projects and people related to sustainability efforts in the local area. It’s a great job, but there’s a catch: This site does not accept paid advertising and does not generate income of any kind. As a result, the compensation Sustainable Savannah available to staff members is limited.

In other words, being a Sustainable Savannah contributor does not pay well. In fact, it doesn’t pay. At all. At least not in dollars. Or Euros.

However, if you want to help spread the word about what’s happening on the sustainability front, we should talk. Betsey and I have the food and transportation beats pretty well covered, so we are primarily interested in folks who want to write about recycling, energy, conservation, green building and other topics that deserve more coverage than Sustainable Savannah has offered so far. Of course we’d still like to hear from you if even if you’d prefer to focus on bicycles or beets. There’s certainly room for more on those topics.

If you think you have what it takes or — more accurately — if think you have something to give, drop us a line at info@sustainablesavannah.com.

Photo credit: Small Ape via Flickr.