Between the long security lines (wherein you must juggle shoe removal with the loading of your luggage properly onto a conveyor belt, all while keeping track of your  oh-so-important ticket) and the delayed departure times, air travel can be a nuisance before you even step foot on an airplane.  One of the few pleasant consistencies of a process that is decidedly inconsistent, is the complimentary drink and snack service offered on most domestic flights. Once that snack cart starts rolling triumphantly down the aisle, even if it nips my elbow on its blessed journey to quench passenger’s thirst and assuage pangs of mid-flight hunger, I can not help but to perk up a little. “A cola? For me? No charge?” I seem to suffer a mild case of amnesia and do not recall the hundreds of dollars I have likely spent on this flight and how that could easily cover the cost of  Mountain Dew or two.

This service is typically followed by your friendly flight attendant strolling up the aisle with a small plastic bag seeking the debris from you in-flight nosh.  What happens to that debris is the topic of a report conducted by the nonprofit  environmental group, Green America. The report’s title, “The Sorry State of Recycling in the Airline Industry,” reads like a huge spoiler for the content that follows. Hint, hint…things are not looking too green up in the skies of blue. The report asserts that airlines in the United States of America alone generate over 880 million pounds of waste per year, of which 75 percent is said to be recyclable. Only 20 percent of that is actually recycled!

In addition to all these fun percentages, the report also contains rankings of the major airlines in the United States based on five areas of assessment: the variety in waste recycled,  any future in-flight recycling plans, the size of in-flight recycling program, the education/encouragement of employees in onboard recycling programs and other in-flight sustainability initiatives. The airlines were ranked as follows, from best to worst: Delta Airlines, Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic, Southwest Airlines, Continental Airlines, Jet Blue, American Airlines, British Airways, Air Tran, United Airlines, and US Airways.  Despite of the rank received, no airlines currently recycle all of the main types of recyclables: aluminum cans, glass, plastic and paper.

While this report may sound all doom and gloom, there is  hope for the airline industry and its apparent aversion to recycling.  The most important variable in implementing these changes  is you, the passenger. Green America Corporate Responsibility Director Todd Larsen explains,  “A lot of companies will do something that’s green if they feel there’s public support for doing it.” Green America further suggests that people become proactive passengers by  doing things, such as: questioning your flight attendant about a particular airlines recycling policy, removing your debris  yourself whenever possible to recycle at home, and  by writing to airlines in order  to voice your support of such programs.  They have also provided a  form  on their website where you are encouraged to share your airline recycling experiences, both positive and negative.

It may be easy to just accept your Mountain Dew and surrender your can at the end of the flight to the trash bag in your flight attendant’s well-manicured hands, but being a decent citizen of planet Earth, you know that doing the easy thing is not always the same as doing the right thing. Encourage airlines to bone up on recycling 101 by writing to the companies and support airlines that do implement in-flight recycling programs. Every time that bag comes around ask your flight attendant “Is there a place to recycle this?” The more they hear requests like these, the more likely they will change the policy. When in-flight recycling is not available, shove that empty can and newspaper into your carry on bag to recycle at home.

And while you are at it-making these hard decisions and doing the right thing- you could do the environment a huge solid and simply fly less. In-flight recycling is much easier to implement when the snack cart is your kitchen cabinets.

-Meghan Hurley


View through Borneo rainforest Photo By doug88888Last week: October 12th through the 18th was World Rainforest Week. The Rainforest Action Network was promoting education and attention to the protection of rainforests worldwide. The worldwide tree population is at risk due to irresponsible logging techniques, clear cutting for cattle production, and the effects of global warming. Education about stopping these destructive forces is incredibly important as rainforests, both tropical and temperate are vital ecosystems. They are completely necessary to our environment as well as the critters and species that live within them. 

Deforestation - Backcountry Mad-7256-21A Photo By World Resources Institute StaffEven thought World Rainforest Week has passed, we want to remind everyone how precious these forests are and how important it is to stay involved. Although the Week brought attention to the cause, it should not be the end point of the effort. In fact, the Rainforest Action Network has some great tips on raising awareness for movement, as well as directly getting involved. Probably the easiest and quickest way to help out is through making a monetary donation to the Rainforest Action Network. But if you have more time to spare consider helping out by gaining signatures for the petition against Cargill, or telling President Obama how you feel about clean energy jobs and stopping dirty oil producers,  or start a local chapter and get involved in your community. 

Remember that even though the official World Rainforest Week is over, the rainforests are still an intrical part of this world. We can not let them be destroyed and be sure to keep spreading awareness and involvement for the trees. Because after all we should be celebrating them all year long!

As a follow up to the ongoing debates and the VP Green Report we published last week, we want to examine presidential candidates views on the environment. We figured since we covered the vice presidential candidates we would give the main attractions some lip service. Both Obama and McCain have very different plans for our country on a number of issues. Here at Autonomie, we wanted to highlight their ideas and history on both the environment and energy policies. So here we go:

As we mentioned before, here at Autonomie Project we are not endorsing a particular candidate but will be voting with the ticket that best meets our values as individuals and as a company.

John McCain:

  • Co-sponsored the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act of 2007, which caps pollution to 2004 levels by 2012, although only in utilities, industry, and transportation.
  • He has proposed a Cap and Trade Policy that would set a limit of greenhouse production and create a market where ability to emit pollution would be traded. Believing that the lower cost energy production would succeed. The reduction for the cap are set to the following: reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Barack Obama:

  • Obama has stated he intends to keep the federal ban in place on offshore drilling, as well as drilling in Alaska. However, during the course of the campaign he has said he will consider it; stating “…we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage — I don’t want to be so rigid that we can’t get something done.”
  • He also believes a cap and trade system is the key to cutting emissions. His plan calls to reduce emissions 80 percent below 1990 rates by 2050 and emission permits would be up for sale, causing polluters to pay for the amount of greenhouse gases they emit.
  • Obama has been a strong supporter of developing new types of alternative energy and has introduced his New Energy for America plan which would not only fund new research for alternative energy, but also provide short term releif for middle America.
  • He has called for the creation and funding for hybrid and new cleaner car emissions research and devolopment. In fact, to fund this he introduced the Heath Care for Hybrids Act, this asks the American auto industry to produce and devlop more efficient hybrids in exchange for the government taking care of retired auto workers heath insurance. He is proposing to get 1 million Plug-In Hybrids on the road by 2015.
  • Cosponsored the Coal to Liquid Fuel Production Act of 2007 which used high energy to convert coal into liqued fuel, which is quite damaging to the environment. Many environmentalists opposesed this bill. However, Obama has since stated that he will only support coal energy if it emits 20 percent less carbon than traditional fuels.

So there you have it: a quick rundown of the key issues both Obama and McCain support regarding the environment. Now its up to you to decide who has a better plan for the environment, energy, and the future of our nation!! The choice is yours.

As we type this, the Vice Presidential candidates Sarah Palin and Joe Biden have finished their first debate. As you all know our country is an economic crisis as well as an environmental one.  But do you know where each candidate stands on environmental and energy policies? We at Autonomie recognize how important environmental issues as well as a sustainable energy plan is to all of you…as much as it is to us. That is why tonight we would like to lay out the two Vice Presidential candidates views on both energy and the environment. We encourage you to take the time to weigh the ideas of both candidates before making a decision in November.

We want to make note that here at Autonomie Project we are not endorsing a particular candidate but will be voting with the ticket that best meets our values as individuals and as a company.

John Mccain’s VP Candidate: Sarah Palin

  • Palin is a known supporter of Bush’s plan to drill for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge which has been a protected reserve since the 1950’s.  She is also a staunch supporter of off-shore drilling. In fact, she actually disagrees with Senator McCain’s view on this matter.
  • The Bush administration added the Polar Bear to the endangered species list and Palin, who is an avid hunter, sued the federal government.
  • As far as Global Warming goes, Palin is on record telling the “A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location. I’m not one though who would attribute it to being man-made.”
  • She publicly opposed a Proposition in Alaska that would have protected the Bristol Bay as well as drinking water from mining run-offs.
  • Palin has taken on Big Oil companies in Alaska including adjusting a Petroleum Profits Tax that eliminated tax loopholes, however she does support fossil fuel drilling on domestic lands.

Barack Obama’s VP Candidate: Joe Biden

  • He has stated, “The scientific evidence is clear: We need to take significant steps toward worldwide reduction of greenhouse gases to avoid permanently altering our climate.”
  • Biden has introduced legislation to the Senate to fund research for better lithium-ion batteries for hybrid vehicles.

So there you have it,  a quick run down of  some of the environmental policies of both the Vice Presidential candidates. Now it’s your turn, make a choice, and please remember to vote!!

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