January 2009


Washington DC is gearing up for the millions of people (myself included) heading there to partake in the inauguration celebration. With the influx of people in the city, they are buckling down for long crowds as well as tons of trash! So what will they do with all that trash? The city and inauguration event staff have taken on thousands of volunteers to ensure the trash around the city is picked up. On top of keeping the streets clean, the plan is to recycle most if not all of the trash collected during the celebration. Along with the trash collection,  this green team will be collecting the manure left behind from all the horses ridden by the police. The manure will then be sold to local farms.

On top of the recycling program, Obama’s inauguration celebration includes some great other green moves such as recycled paper used for invitations and all materials used for catering the dinner will be recyclable and biodegradable. All attendees are asked not to drive and expected to take the Metro, even in full evening gear. 

There are also several Green Inauguration Balls planned including one on Monday featuring Al Gore and one planned for tonight featuring entertainment from Wyclef Jean and hosted by several groups including Discovery Channel’s Planet Green and Green Corps

Finally, during the parade, several floats are recycled from previous parades intentionally to reduce waste of making new floats. The heat shields intended to keep the parade participants warm on the bitter winter day will be donated to local homeless shelters after the event.

So these changes may seem small and won’t stop global warming per se, but it sets an example and possibly a tone for how Obama’s administration will take Green seriously. For the very first time a president has worked along with the EPA to make sure the inauguration has the smallest impact possible. If that isn’t a sign of things to come, than I don’t know what is! See you all in DC and let’s celebrate our democracy in an eco-friendly way!

obamaIn just a few more days, we will welcome a new president and hopefully we will see the change we voted for! This weekend in the DC area there is all kinds of parties, events, and parades going on in celebration for the inauguration. If you are down in the are we highly suggest you check out DC Manifest Hope Gallery. Sponsored by MoveOn.org, SEIU, and Obey, the gallery is featuring political and inspired art work by a number of artists who exude the message that Obama carried through his campaign. 

The art is supposed to push into action three main areas of reforms, and all three are important to us here at AP: Worker’s Rights, Healthcare Reform, and the Green Economy. The gallery will be open Friday January 17th through Monday January 19th from 10am-6pm to lead up to the inauguration. 

So if you are in the DC area, please come by the gallery!: meet some people (Gina from AP included), check out the art, and maybe even get inspired. Hope to see you soon! It’s going to be an interesting weekend to say the least.

MANIFESTHOPE: DC

January 17th-19th, 2009
10:00am – 6:00pm

3333 M Street NW, Washington DC 20007

clip_image002I must have walked on the streets after sundown at least 200 times last year, with the sidewalks well lit, helping me find my way. I did my fair share of driving on roads and crossed a few bridges. I took many walks down pretty paths in public parks, admiring a variety of horticulture. I was excited at least 4 times hoping that scientific research may shed light on the purpose of human existence. My loans from the state school I attended are not psychologically or financially overwhelming me. I voted, swam at the beach, drank tap water – Oh! – and last year was the first time I called 911.

clip_image0021It was one of the most satisfying experiences to date. My neighbors had a get together and by about 3 am it had devolved into a bottle throwing game, many of which were breaking on my building. I mean, I’ve broken bottles in my day, but I’ve done so with respect, and intention. There was none of that here, just idiocy, and that is what made me the most upset. So I dialed 911 and told the person on the other end of the line what was happening. After about 15 minutes, 10 really big guys with guns showed up and made them stop throwing bottles at my house. I couldn’t believe how user friendly this service was and it was totally free. Amazing, that alone has got to be worth a couple of hundred dollars. How many places in the world have a service like that?!

In any case, what I’m saying is that, I guess I don’t really mind paying my taxes. For the most part I can see a good deal of value. Of course it’susamnot always so easy on the conscience, paying for those things which our real freedoms rely: bailouts, torture, surveillance, mothers of all bombs, and barbed wire. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to choose from a cafeteria plan as to where our tax money would go, earmarking our share for programs we want? But that’s not here yet. So instead I’ll try to be happy about a number of tax incentives which help battle my pessimism by encouraging people to do the right thing, especially during these economic woes. Specifically, there are tax incentives to reduce energy waste and switch to green technology. Yes, the US government and many state governments will give you money to go green. Here are the most recent additions and a few you might even be in a position to take advantage of, this year or next:

The federal Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 allows a $500 credit for installing energy efficient measures for 2009. Covered technologies include water heaters, furnaces, boilers, heat pumps, air conditioners, building insulation, windows, doors, roofs, and circulating fans used in a qualifying furnace. The Act also extends a 30% credit for solar energy systems, solar hot water heaters and fuel cells through 2016. While it’s a little superfluous to continue any credits past 2012, such a nice discount might help facilitate that purchase you’ve been thinking about. And if it pushes people and corporations in the right direction, that’s great!

The Residential Energy Conservation Subsidy Exclusion, allows you to exclude from personal income any subsidies from utility companies used to aid in the purchase or installation of a product used to help conserve energy. Its like saying out of state purchases over the internet for green items is exempt from sales tax.

If you are thinking about a new car the Tax Credit for Qualified Hybrid Vehicles might be the icing on the cake for that purchase you’ve been planning! Credits can range up to $3400! Be sure to do your research, get the proper dealer and IRS forms and watch out for the AMT. For more information and to see the qualifications check out the IRS summary.

Individual states also offer a wide variety of incentives for going green. Some in New York include credits for heating with Bio-Diesel, exemptions from property and sales tax for purchases and upgrades to greener technology. In Massachusetts you’ll be exempt from personal income from the sale of a patent or royalty income from a patent if its deemed “beneficial for energy conservation or alternative energy development.” Good to consider if you have an invention in the works. In California there are a number of local loan programs that extend favorable terms if you want to borrow money for the installation of renewable energy systems. Be sure to check out what your state offers in green breaks!

On the corporate side there are even more incentives for homebuilders, manufacturers, building owners and other entities to improve their behaviors when it comes to energy use. Both federal and state governments offer many grant and bond programs for a variety of different projects. If you’re thinking of starting a business, there could be many ways to help subsidize the startup costs just by doing the right thing.

As loop-holey and esoteric as some of these rules may be, going green has made it in the tax code and it appears that its likely to increase under the new administration. Its makes me feel better that change is happening for the better and hopefully moves like these will make more people switch to green!  Its moves like these that make a difference in the end, plus it can’t hurt to save a buck or to yourself! The existence of these incentives helps ease my negative energy toward taxes and government, not unlike calling 911 and obtaining satisfaction.

Hello AP Gang!

Organic Fair Trade 'Fight Global' TeeWhat better way to kick off a New Year than with a fabulous store-wide sale! Find discounts up to 30%off on everything from our popular sneaker line, to our organic t-shirts, to our new organic cotton handbags. But act fast, stocks are running low and we don’t expect much to last very long.Organic Fair Trade 'Declare' Tee

Make sure to definitely check out our organic cotton winter accessories! Now 20% off,once these items are gone, they’ll be gone until next year! So get ‘em while you can, and sport ‘em until spring comes.

And to help sweeten the deal a bit further, for a limited time we’re offering free domestic shipping on all orders over $75 (down from $100)!  

Happy Shopping! 
The AP Team

button_red_signpetition1

More and more bad news keeps coming out about the state of our economy. With fourth quarter retail sales low, real estate continuing to plummet, and job loss at its highest since the last recession in 1993. This news may be staggering but don’t let it get you down! Let it mobilize you! Sign the petition to push this package through Congress today!

08obama2-500On January 8th, President Elect Obama urged Congress to push forth is economic stimulus plan. This plan is not just money being thrown at a problem. It has real hope for a move to the green economy. Some of the details of this plan include, doubling the production of alternative energy in the next 3 years, having medical records go electronic: saving energy and jobs, modernizing and weatherizing 75% of federal buildings, improve energy efficiency in millions of homes, updating thousands of schools, colleges, and universities, investing in science and technology, and creating millions of new GREEN JOBS! 

This stimulus package may get out economy back on its feet and its no question it will create a shift in our current economic practices. The only problem now is getting Congress to act! Obama had hoped the bill would be sitting on his new desk ready to sign on January 20th, but it looks unlikely at this point. Of course conservatives and lobbyists for big energy are attacking the bill. Some conservatives in Congress want to see tax breaks rather than investment. Which may seem like a great idea, but their current plan has breaks for the super rich and hardly benefits the middle and working classes. The lobbyists for big energy are trying to stop the bill from passing in order to stop green energy and jobs from being created!

Never worry though, because YOU can take action! MoveOn.org has created a petition to urge Congress members not to listen to lobbyists and to take action on this package. The petition states: “Congress should quickly pass Obama’s plan to invest in clean energy, green jobs, health care, and relief for struggling states. No more tax cuts for the rich.”

button_red_signpetition2So please if you believe in a shift to a green economy or hope to help our US economy, take the few seconds to sign the petition! Its a quick and easy way to be involved in your country’s actions. Because our responsibilities as citizens doesn’t stop on election day! We all took a second to sign, so we are urging you to do the same. PLEASE SIGN! And if you want to be involved even more, organize an event in your area or re-post this on your blogs or social sites!

If you’re like us, you have more than one gift from the holidays that doesn’t quite make the list of things you actually want, need or can use. In past years, we’re sure you felt too guilty to discard these lonely unwanted items (either for the unnecessary harm on the environment or the hurt feelings of the person who gave it to you). So instead, the useless crap is tossed into a pile or tucked into a storage bin of other useless clutter that you’re not quite sure what to do with.

Well, with green lifestyles pushing the envelope of tradition these days, there are plenty of new and inventive ways you can rid yourself of excess stuff and old holiday habits in an environmentally-friendly manner. In fact, when broadening the definition of “recycling” from simply tossing the item into a blue bin that your city then sweeps away into the unknown to a much more fitting definition of ‘re-purposing, re-distributing, and re-inventing’, you may actually have some fun getting rid of your stuff all while making a positive impact on our earth.  And don’t forget the popular but hush-hush form of recylcing: regifting!  The gift that lets your useless crap live on forever as someone else’s!

CHRISTMAS TREES & DECORATIONS:

This holiday season, more and more companies and cities are providing options for how to properly discard your Christmas tree.  If you live in New York City, simply leave your tree on the curb and the city will turn the tree into mulch for the extensive public park system.  In addition to mulch, Christmas trees can actually be re-purposed into many eco-friendly uses such as erosion control, soil stabilization and creating habitats for wildlife.  Check out Earth 911 for more treecycling ideas and options near you.  If you’ve purchased a potted Christmas tree from a nursery or garden center, try replanting it on your property or donating it to your local parks department for replanting.

Also, if you are in need of new lights, make sure to check out Holiday LEDs, a Christmas lights company.  If you send them your old lights, they’ll recycle them for you and give you a coupon for 15% off the purchase of a set of new, energy-efficient LED lights (although we only really encourage this if you NEED new lights…remember discarding the old unnecessarily is all a part of our consumption problem).

Act a little crafty and cut up your old holiday cards to make new gift tags for next year.  A fun and easy way to keep the cards out of the trash and some money in your wallet.  And as for those old decorations, always remember that someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure and donate your unwanted decorations or send them to a consignment shop.  This is actually a great tip for all of your unwanted items, so try to make a habit of donating anything and everything you can before trashing.

CELL PHONES:

The national Call To Protect program enables people to retire their wireless phones in a manner that will help the environment and provide phones, with matching airtime, to domestic violence agencies. In addition, the funds generated through Call To Protect collections and other wireless industry programs have provided grants totaling over $10,000,000 to national organizations leading the campaign to end domestic violence.  Keep a look-out at your local bank, pharmacy or store as many have drop-off boxes for old cell phones in their entryways.

TIRES:

According to the EPA, you may be able to return surplus tires to either a tire retailer or a local recycling facility. Be sure to confirm that the facility accepts tires for recycling and check for quantity and size limitations. Some local municipalities will also periodically conduct “tire amnesty days” when local citizens can bring a limited number of tires to a drop-off site free of charge.  Curious about new uses for old tires?   The EPA website suggests that scrap tires may be cut, punched, and stamped into various rubber products after removal of the steel bead.  Products include floor mats, belts, gaskets, shoe soles, highway crash barriers, and boat bumpers on marine docks.  Or, for an afternoon of good old-fashioned fun, how about installing a tree swing in the backyard?  For more information and specific requirements and regulations for your area, contact your local solid waste management agency.

EYEGLASSES:

New Eyes For The Needy purchases new eyeglasses for poor children and adults in the United States and recycles donated glasses for distribution to indigent people in developing nations worldwide. Over 4,400 social service agencies and 3,500 optical dispensers partner with New Eyes For The Needy to provide eyeglasses and sunglasses to less fortunate Americans.  Since 1932, they have brought improved vision and hope for a better future to more than 7,000,000 people in the U.S. and around the world.  Eyeglasses in good condition are also sent to medical missions and international charitable organizations for distribution to the poor in developing nations.  New Eyes for the Needy is a non-profit, non-sectarian volunteer organization.

CLOTHING:

As we mentioned before, donating your old clothes is a great way to keep fabrics out of landfills and the less fortunate fashionable.  If you have an old gown, bridesmaid dress that you never will wear again, or formal dress, make sure to support Operation Fairy Dust, a New York-based non-profit that provides free prom dresses to high school girls who can’t afford to buy their own.  Created in 2002, Operation Fairy Dust has helped countless numbers of girls look beautiful and confident on the most important night of their young lives (and inadvertently has helped our environment!).

If you have gently-worn business clothes that sit in your closet collecting dust, check out Dress for Success.  An international non-profit organization, their mission is to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.  Since 1997, Dress for Success has served almost 450,000 women around the world. Each year they reach more than 40,000 women in their international network.  The professional clothing, employment retention programs and ongoing support that they provide symbolize their faith in every woman’s ability to be self-sufficient and successful in her career.

TOWELS:

Clean used towels and washable baby blankets can find great new uses at local animal shelters and rescues.  Many shelters welcome the donations putting them to use as bedding, comforting an animal in the medical department, or for drying a rescue animal after a bath.  Contact your local shelter or the ASPCA to see if they are accepting donations.

VIDEOTAPES & CDS:

With the advance of digital music, DVD’s and now Blue Ray, it’s difficult to keep your old VHS tapes and bulky CD’s lying around when you barely open the case anymore.  Videotapes and CDs are actually a great donation to senior centers, assisted living facilities, and homes for people with special needs.  Some schools and libraries may also accept donations.  Please call ahead and check with the individual facility before dropping a bag on their doorstep.

SPORTS EQUIPMENT:

Again, donate, donate, donate!  Or check out Play It Again Sports, a franchise retail operation with hundreds of locations across the country that lets you buy, sell or trade used sporting gear and equipment.

COMPUTERS & ELECTRONICS:

Thousands of computers, televisions, and other electronics are taken out of service every year when consumers opt for new and improved models (we’re all guilty!).  Many of these, if not most, are still in perfectly usable condition and could be passed along to nonprofit organizations, schools, or used by people with disabilities.  Share The Technology is a website designed to provide a way for computer donors to connect with individuals or groups seeking used computers. Craigslist and FreeCycle can also help you find a new loving home for your old electronics.

Earlier this fall, RadioShack announced the launch of The RadioShack Online Trade-In Program which allows customers to exchange used, portable electronics for a RadioShack gift card.  First, you’ll get a quote for the product’s trade-in value. If the value is acceptable, you can then mail your electronics (using prepaid shipping labels provided by RadioShack) who will take care of recycling or repurposing the item.

Finally, Green Disk offers a convenient, comprehensive set of services to help individuals and organizations reduce the expense and the environmental impact associated with obsolete technology.  Specialized, convenient recycling programs are available for virtually all forms of “techno trash”.

So now that you have tons of great ideas on how to get your unwanted trash on its way to a beautiful, re-purposed life, make a resolution to clean out the house and start recycling in more ways than one!

With reports issued today that the US economy is going to get much worse this year and even into 2010, the news and media paints a chilling picture for the New Year. While most of us might react with uncertainty and worry, there is one sector of the economy that remains hopeful: the Green Economy. Many Greenies are seeing this downturn as an opportunity to change and re shape the American economy. For example, with the American auto industry failing, it is an amazing chance for them to focus on electric, hybrid, and other new eco-friendly technologies. In fact a shift such as this could retool the entire industry.

The GreenBiz published a great article recently about Green economists optimistic view of 2009. It pushes the idea that many businesses are continuing green changes, yet  everyone is pulling in the reins on spending rather than expanding. Still as we mentioned above, this recession is a chance to incorporate real changes to business. The GreenBiz Blog has also announced they plan on featuring articles related to the recession. So keep up with the green take on the recession on their blog as well as ours!

Co-op America has now officially changed over to Green America and they have suggested a few ideas on how green can change the economy. Check out their recently published 7 Fixes from the Green Economy. Within this article, ecomomy240w1they focus on suggestions to revamping and saving the American economy. There are several suggestions we’ve heard before like creating new green jobs and supporting local and fair trade. But there are also some inventive new ideas such as instituting Clean Energy Victory Bonds similar to those instituted in World War II and Community investing. These are the types of articles that need to be pushed forth during these trying times. While the mainstream media pushes fear and negativity, the green world is suggesting real ideas and a focus on the positive. After all the best way to jump start the economy is all in the perception.

You may be wondering with all this talk about recession and economic changes, how will you survive? Green America once again published some great little tips on how to save money during these trying times: 4 Ways to Save Money! The tips they offer are: Cooperative Meals, Build a Community of your Neighbors and Pool Resources, Carpool with friends or neighbors, and Barter and Trade for your needs. While these are great ideas to keep money in your pocket, they aren’t the exact answer to our country’s economic woes as a whole. Green America plans on focusing on saving money through being green in 2009. So pay attention for more great saving ideas!

So remember even if the news won’t let you forget we are in a troubling economy, try to keep your heads up and focus on the new economy coming our way. Keep putting pressure on our politicians to promote a green economy through organizations like Power Vote and Green Jobs Now. Or keep the green economy in the public sphere, by posting on your blogs, Myspace, and Facebook. The more we talk about the ideas for a change in our economy, the better chance we have of accomplishing it!

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