Friday, December 31, 2010

New year, new font

In case you didn't hear about this in 2010, switching your font to Century Gothic can save you big bucks on printer ink.  If, that is, you're still old school enough to be printing at all.  Read about this in a GreenBiz article that features the fax machine beatdown from a film classic.
And don't forget the Dutch Ecofont...
Happy New Year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sorry but I can't hear you over this (compostable) SunChips bag

Let me start this post by saying I love SunChips.  And I loved them even more when I saw their 100% compostable bag in my local market.  But this new sustainable packaging of theirs doesn't seem to be playing well to consumers... Read the GreenBiz article (which made their 2010 top 20 list) here.  There's even a Facebook community page about this issue.

Having recently bought a compostable bag of SunChips, I can attest that yes, it's the loudest food packaging I've ever handled.

Never fear, SunChips lovers, the folks at Frito Lay are all over it:

"...Why are we making the change? - While there was a huge amount of enthusiasm surrounding the launch of our compostable SunChips® bag, we've also received feedback regarding how the new packaging has affected the consumer experience, including its noise. In response, we’re taking steps to improve our 100% compostable bag in order to address your concerns. We have several new compostable package options in the works that look promising and look forward to introducing the next generation compostable bag to consumers in the near future..."

The website mentions that this bag is certified for industrial composting by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI). 

"BPI is a not-for-profit organization that promotes the use of compostable plastics. They have teamed up with the United States Composting Council to develop a labeling program for plastics that biodegrade in an industrial compost environment (in accordance with ASTM D6400 “Standard Specification for Compostable Plastics”).
To learn more about BPI visit
To find a compost facility in your area check out "
Looking forward to the next (quieter) generation of compostable bag, and hoping that other food companies follow this lead!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I'm also on The Twitter!

Dear blog readers, now you can follow my green adventures on Twitter also!  Watch for articles and other brief bits @amymussen

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Buy local this holiday season

Don't forget to patronize your small, locally-owned businesses as you shop for the holidays!

The Chesapeake Sustainable Business Alliance website is searchable by category or neighborhood, and with a $10 member card you're eligible for the specials mentioned on the "merchant discounts" page.

Personally, I use this guide to plan out my shopping attack on Hampden:  you can park anywhere along the Avenue (36th street, that is) and walk to about 17 of these locally-owned stores.  Much better than driving between big box stores or fighting crowds at the mall!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Eco-home improvement: Low-VOC paint

When I repainted my basement recently, I wanted to use one of these new low-VOC paints I'd been hearing about.  Found a good one at Home Depot that was labeled as an eco-option:  this labeling system can also help you find energy- and water-efficient products throughout the store and website.

Here's the paint I chose:

The FreshAire Choice
The FreshAire Choice is a revolution in paint, inspired by the need to improve air quality. It’s the first-ever and only tinted paint to contain no VOCs, harsh chemicals that make paint smell like paint and contribute to poor indoor air quality. FreshAire environmentally friendly paint offers premium colors in four inspiring collections that enthuse the beauty and serenity of nature in your home.

* Premium performance paint without the harsh paint odor
* Awarded the Greenguard's Certification For Children and Schools
* Contains zero VOCs in paint or colorant
* Four different collections - 65 color choices
* Lifetime warranty

And here's some more information about low-VOC paint...

Green Paint Standards Protect IAQ and Occupants Green product watch: best low-VOC paints and stains 9/10

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sustainability for Structural Engineers

I wish I'd written this book: Sustainability Guidelines for the Structural Engineer

Here's the description from the ASCE online store:

Sponsored by the Sustainability Committee of the Structural Engineering Institute of ASCE.
This report presents guidelines that are intended to advance the understanding of sustainability in the structural community and to incorporate concepts of sustainability into structural engineering standards and practices.

The guidelines are organized into five sections:
Sustainable Design and Construction,
Sustainable Strategies,
Building Materials,
Infrastructure, and
Case Studies.
Although many of the subjects are related, each section—and the related subsections—have been written to stand alone, allowing this report to be used as a practical reference. Infrastructure gets particular attention because many of the concepts and ideas in this guide that relate to infrastructure can also be applied to design and construction.
This report was written for structural engineers, but related disciplines will also benefit from the contents. This book will help structural engineers as they meet the challenge to design and construct a sustainable built environment

Shop for it here:
Also available on