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Driver Texting and Talking on Two Cell Phones While Driving Over 70 mph

Posted on | January 6, 2014 | Comments Off

Texting Talking and Driving 1 These incredible pictures are of a man talking into his cell phone with his left hand while texting with his right hand while driving 70 mph on the highway.  Shame on you, driver!  You are a danger to society.

My friend, who was in the passenger seat of my car, took these pictures.  I was focused on passing this guy safely as he was swerving all over the highway.

All Distracted Driving Needs To Stop

Every day that I get into my car, I feel like I have to battle for my life.  Every day I see distracted drivers swerving or driving in a dangerous manner.  This has got to stop now.  Even my next door neighbor was a recent victim of distracted driving.  She was rear-ended by a driver who had dogs in his lap while eating a sandwich.  This dumb driver rear-ended my neighbor at a red light!

Please Take The Pledge To Never Text And Drive

Take the pledge.  Make that promise to yourself.  The website www.ItCanWait.com has a host of tools and resources to promote this idea.  ItCanWait.com seems to kids targeted to kids.  So if you have kids who are driving, you can point them to ItCanWait.com.  However, in my experience, it is adults that I see swerving while texting.  Gosh, can you just use your plain old common sense to keep that promise to yourself, to your family, to your friends, and to your fellow drivers.  Just stop texting and driving.

Just Wait Or Pull Over

If you absolutely need to see that text message (Come on!  Is that text really THAT important?) just pull over.  Safely pull to the side of the road and jump all over that important text.  Better yet, wait until you are done driving and put your car in park, then check your messages.  That way, you won’t have any chance of causing an accident from your distracted driving.

Lives Destroyed By Texting And Driving

This 34 minute movie by the famed film producer Werner Herzog is a must see.  You may not be aware of the devastating consequences of the simple act of texting while driving.

 

 

Bouelvard Brewery: Doing Everything Right For The Environment

Posted on | September 16, 2013 | Comments Off

Boulevard Brewing Co.Everyone knows that Boulevard Brewery makes excellent beer.  But did you know that they are also doing everything right for the environment?  Michael Utz is the Director of Engineering at Boulevard Brewing Company.  He’s been with Boulevard for 15 years and oversees most of the sustainability initiatives.  In this interview, Michael answers questions about the many sustainability practices at Boulevard.

1. What are 4 things anyone can do right now to be a better recycler?

Michael:  1.  Learn what your hauler/processor takes and doesn’t take in the regular stream.  2.  Seek outlets for other waste materials to improve diversion.  3.  Keep recyclables as clean as possible to reduce contaminants at processor.  5.  Teach a friend/family member about recycling.

2. The condescending use of tree hugger and granola to describe someone who cares about our environment seems to have gone away. Why do you think that happened?

Michael: I don’t know that that has happened completely (I’m guilty of occasional tongue-in-cheek references to myself as a “tree hugger”) but I really think environmental awareness through all forms of media has brought positive attention to the cause and people are beginning to pay attention to the fact that we were given just one earth.

3. What is the worst name you have been called while at Boulevard?

Michael: Probably that same “tree hugger” referred to above.

4. Describe what happens to a gallon of water when it enters Boulevard.

Michael: Our water starts as Missouri River water as it is taken from the river above the Kansas-Missouri confluence. That fact aside, we receive water from the Kansas City Municipal Water system. The water goes through several steps of filtration, dechlorination, softening, deaeration, ultraviolet sterilization, depending on where it will be used in the brewery. About one gallon of every four and a half gallons we bring into the brewery ends up leaving as beer with most of the remainder being used for cleaning operations prior to being discharged into our sewer system.

5. Your sustainability document states that you reduced water usage by 12% in 2011. What did your data show you for water usage in 2012? The first half of 2013?

Michael: Our water usage reduction goal for 2012 was 5% but we actually achieved another 12% reduction compared to 2011 rates. For the first half of 2013 we are trending at a 10% reduction compared to 2012.

6. What happens to the grain? Does all spent grain go to feed local cattle?

Happy Cow

Happy Cow

Michael: Our brewing process extracts most of the sugars from whole grains – barley and wheat – before discharging those grains to our spent grain system. Spent brewers grains are an excellent nutrition source for cattle and that is their primary use in the U.S. The spent grains can also be used as fillers in other animal feeds and I’ve also heard of them being used in breads, crackers and other foods for human consumption.

7. Can cows get drunk from eating the spent grain?

Michael: Spent grains do not contain alcohol as they haven’t been fermented so no, the cows that eat them do not get drunk.

8. You have no trash dumpster at Boulevard. Do your employees pack out any trash that they create? Do you embrace an urban style of Leave No Trace?

Michael: Well, when we first embarked on our “zero landfill” initiative, that’s exactly what we told our employees – they were responsible for any waste they generated. It didn’t take very long for people to adjust their behaviors to eliminate trash. I like the idea of Leave No Trace but find it very easy for people to use a waste receptacle if it’s available, especially in the absence of appropriate recycling options.

9. Sustainability is a foundational idea at Boulevard. Do you think that influences your employee to be better recyclers at home? Do you think you influence the public to be better recyclers?

Michael: We think we have been a positive influence on our employees because we take the time to educate them on the how’s and why’s of recycling behavior. Beyond that, to the public we try to lead with a positive example through all the tours and events we do each year as well as speaking about it every chance we get.

10. Boulevard has been instrumental in the success of glass recycling at Ripple Glass. Is this a common practice with all breweries?

Michael: We were presented with a unique opportunity/challenge with glass in Kansas City – no glass recycling options because there was no glass processor and no glass processor because there were no glass recycling options. A classic chicken and egg situation. Given our strong commitment to glass through our bottling operations, we decided that we should help solve that recycling dilemma so we could justify continuing use of bottles. That ultimately led to the formation of Ripple Glass. We can proudly state that the results have been astounding and, in 2013, through Ripple Glass we will recycle about four times the glass packaging used at Boulevard!

11. What most excites you for the future of sustainability at Boulevard?

Michael: Sustainability for us is about more than recycling. It’s about resource efficiency. The more efficiently we use our resources – electricity, water, packaging materials, labor, etc. – the more sustainable we become. This is a never ending process of continuous improvement.

12. What other local businesses do an excellent job in the area of sustainability?

Michael: Hallmark has shown great leadership in this area and provided a lot of support for us as we got our program started.

13. What is the biggest I-am-glad-we-don’t-do-that-anymore for you at Boulevard?

Michael: That’s got to be “making trash”. It really is a good feeling to know that your company is trying to make such a positive difference in their community!

14. What is your favorite outdoor activity?

Michael: Camping with my family.

15. Which Boulevard beer are you enjoying most right now?  

Boulevard On Tap

Boulevard On Tap

Michael: First of all that’s an unfair question because it’s like asking me which of my children is my favorite.  However, Pale Ale is the beer that suits me on most occasions and I will never, ever turn down one of our Smokestack offerings!

16. What is the best way for the public to connect with Boulevard?

Michael: The best way to connect is to go on a tour of our facilities to see all the cool things we’re doing and enjoy some delicious beer!

Additional Reading

How To Recycle Glass:  Ripple Glass Makes It Easy To Recycle Glass

How To Be A Better Recycler At Home

How To Be Sustainable: Katie Killen Shares How The City Of Shawnee, Kansas, Practices Sustainability

Posted on | August 19, 2013 | Comments Off

Katie Killen, Assistant City Manager at City of Shawnee, Kansas

Katie Killen, Assistant City Manager for the City of Shawnee, Kansas

Katie Killen is the assistant city manager for the city of Shawnee, Kansas.  Her work for the city involves solid waste, recycling and sustainability. In this interview, Katie answers questions about a city’s role in helping the public become better at recycling.

1.  What are 4 things that anyone can do right now to be a better recycler?

Katie:  Make it easy for yourself. If there is a way to fit it into your routine take advantage of it.

  1. Put a recycling can next to your trash can .
  2. Put a glass recycling container in a spot you will remember to take it with you, and make drop off part of the routine .
  3. Pin a reminder in an easy to find place to remember what can go curbside at your home.
  4. When in doubt on where take something, then check out recyclespot.org, a regional resource on recycling in the Kansas City area.

2.  Name some things that happen inside of the City of Shawnee’s offices that impacts the environment.

Katie:  We have a City-wide recycling policy in place that covers everything from common recyclables to motor oil, batteries and electronics.  We recently completed some energy efficiency projects in City facilities that upgraded lighting and HVAC systems.  The last major facilities that the City built (the Justice Center and Fire Station #72 off Renner and Johnson) are LEED certified.Station 72 LEED

3.  What do you think the City of Shawnee does best for the environment?

Katie:  Educating and leading by example. There are so many departments that touch on environmental stewardship through the work they do each day and in addition are out educating the public on topics that range from rain barrels to recycling, energy efficiency to water quality. Check out our latest Parks and Recreation Brochure.  Page 18-19 have some great classes.

4.  What do you feel is the most difficult part of promoting sustainability?  Easiest?  Continue Reading

Making Recycling Convenient With The Solecan

Posted on | August 15, 2013 | Comments Off

The SolecanThe Solecan

When is comes to innovations in recycling, people talk a lot about making it easier.  If you make recycling easier then more and more people will do it. 

Liz and Jeff Helfrich are making recycling easier with the Solecan.  The Solecan is a unique single can trash/recycling solution.  It has two separate sides–one for regular waste, one for recycling–that easily snap together to help you recycle.  

You can see the Solecan in action in the video at the end of this interview.  Or, if you want to see it now, scroll down and click play.

1.  What are 4 things that anyone can do right now to be a better recycler?

Jeff:  Convenience. Convenience.  Convenience.  Convenience. People only recycle if it is convenient.  If you want to improve recycling rates at home or in the office, then make it more convenient to recycle. Many studies have shown that the number one thing you can to do be a better recycler now is to make recycling more convenient for yourself.

2.  You are the inventor of the Solecan.  What is a Solecan?

Jeff: Actually, I am co-inventor of the Solecan with my wife, Liz.  The Solecan is a dual compartment receptacle with trash on one side and recycling on the other.  It snaps apart to make emptying the separate compartments a breeze.  It will be made from 100% recycled plastic.

Liz and Jeff Helfrich

Liz and Jeff Helfrich

3.  Why are you interested in sustainability? Continue Reading

Keep Omaha Beautiful: A Sustainability Model For All Cities

Posted on | August 15, 2013 | Comments Off

 photo by Cruise Curtis

photo by Cruise Curtis

Keep Omaha Beautiful, Inc. is an environmental organization that does what its name implies. KOB is dedicated to litter reduction, beautification and education on recycling and solid waste issues.

In this interview, Cindy Smilley, the Executive Director of KOB since 1990, encourages everyone to connect with KOB.  There are many opportunities for you to volunteer your time and dollars.  Here is the link for you to explore ways to get involved with Keeping Omaha Beautiful.

1.  What are the 4 easiest things that anyone can do right now to become a better recycler?

  • Just decide to start recycling…..today.
  • Find a place in your pantry, under the sink, or in the garage to place a recycling container. It doesn’t have to be fancy…just a box or container.
  • Talk to your kids about the recycling numbers on the bottom of plastics and educate them about what can be recycled in Omaha (and in your area).
  • Talk with your kids about recycling and have them watch you recycle…they can help too.

2.  What are the neatest changes you have seen in how Omaha takes better care of our planet?

Strong environmental groups have started that are very inclusive. They work together rather than by themselves.

3.  Name two companies that do excellent work in keeping Omaha beautiful. Continue Reading

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