Is there any reason to give your friends the stink-eye when they use a garbage disposal instead of composting? Should you act like you don't know your buddies (or offer them a lecture) when they start to burn their aluminum beer cans in the campfire instead of packing them out? And can you protect your outdoor patio furniture or seal the back deck without using a toxic substance?
For several years now, our own Mr. Green (aka Bob Schildgen) has been answering real-world questions like these in his Sierra magazine advice column. And I can tell you from my experience of hanging with Bob in the lunchroom or running into him in the hallways here at Sierra Club headquarters, the guy doesn't mince words--and, hey, he's smart! If you haven't read his column, check it out.The cool news for Bob and all of us at the Sierra Club is that we've distilled the best of "Hey Mr. Green" into a useful--and, I have to say, highly entertaining--book. There's something for everyone --"At Home" offers tips on staying cool, cleaning up, and other domestic details; "Food for Thought" focuses on how to eat and drink better while spending less; "Out and About" covers getting around, fueling up, and enjoying the great outdoors; "The Three Rs" shows you how (and why) to reduce, reuse, and recycle almost everything; and "The Big Picture" considers how the environment, politics, religion, and other issues intersect--often at the dinner table.
To celebrate the release of the new book, Mr. Green (okay, well, Bob) will give a free copy to the first 50 TreeHugger readers who sign up here. Those who don't get a free book will still be eligible to buy it at a discount rate. We'll notify the winners next week.
And whether or not you get the book, remember that you can always pose your questions to Mr. Green here.
Keeping in mind that it's baseball season, here's a sample question and answer from the book:
Hey Mr. Green:
I attend a lot of baseball games, where it seems that most people find it acceptable to drop food and trash on the stadium floor. While most ballparks have cleanup crews, doesn't this mean less recycling and more landfill? Can I still do my part for the earth while rooting for my team?
-- Mary in Larkspur, California
Answer: Given the advanced age of the players that Giants management has tended to prefer, recycling and disposal are understandably on your mind.
Seriously, though, you'll be happy to learn that the Giants seem to be doing a pretty decent job. They recycle more than 1,760 tons of food scraps, cardboard, paper, and bottles annually-well over half the waste generated in the ballpark. This saves the team about $100,000 a year in disposal costs, almost enough to pick up an ancient knuckleballer.
The Giants' rivals across the bay, the Oakland Athletics, are doing them one better: they're introducing compostable cups, utensils, and food containers at their ballpark.
To find out what other teams' stadiums are doing-and get ideas to prod your
local club-visit the US Environmental Protection Agency's Stadium Recycling page, here or contact EPA staff involved with stadium programs at (415) 972-3324.
Folks who could care less about the fate of local teams (or anything else in the sports world) will be happy to learn that similar efforts are being made to encourage recycling programs and other conservation measures at convention centers, many of which now toss out thousands of tons of waste each year.