Genetically Engineered Trees: A New Frontier or Climate Catastrophe?

By: Kat Battaglia, Fellow, Green America’s Better Paper Project Most consumers in the United States are now aware of genetically engineered foods, but far fewer realize that, beginning formally in 1988, biotech scientists have been working on the next frontier of genetic engineering: trees. While the biotech industry claims GE trees could be a natural solution to deforestation, it’s far more likely that a shift to GE monoculture forests, heavily dependent on chemical inputs, would further pollute our soil, air and waterways, and exacerbate the problems of climate change. Not All Forests Are Created Equal Natural forests are more than a collection of trees. They are rich, biodiverse habitats for millions of species of plants, animals, and microorganisms that are essential to life. Forests protect soil and waterways from pollution, and even protect humans from heart and respiratory diseases. Perhaps most miraculously, the earth’s forests also store 289 gigatons of carbon in biomass, making forests one of the greatest contributors to slowing the rate of climate change. Enter genetically engineered trees. The biotech industry is in the process of developing GE trees for a number of aims, including lower lignin content to ease processing. Lignin, a structural component of wood, must be removed from wood pulp before it can be used to make paper. GE trees with lower lignin content stand to save the paper industry a great deal of money by cutting out the expensive removal process. GE trees also […]

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The Truth About Bottled Water

Did you know? trash covers up to 40% of the ocean surface. 90% is plastic. water bottles can break down into little pieces covering entire beaches.

Guest post from Alexandra Beane, Wheels For Wishes The United States is the world’s largest consumer of bottled water. In 2011, the United States set a record for purchasing 9.1 billion gallons of bottled water nationwide, which is equal to 29.2 gallons per person. Unfortunately, only 27 percent of plastic water bottles are recycled in the United States, and they are […]

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GREEN YOUR SCHOOL: Cornell University’s Dump and Run program

Cornell's "Dump and Run" program gets items that students would normally throw away at the end of the school year into the hands of people who can use them.

As students start getting ready to go back to school, some of them are also getting ready to embark upon a new year of greening their campuses. Green America editorial fellow Sari Amiel discovered five inspiring examples of how students are making their campuses more socially just and environmentally sustainable. Every Monday and Wednesday from now through August 27th, we’ll post one of Sari’s […]

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Light Weight = Heavy Impact

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Guest blog post and graphic by Allison Stewart of our Better Paper Project.  I was at a Sustainability in Packaging conference earlier this spring, and it hit home for me that we need better product and packaging development. If we develop products that have no further opportunity for re-use, then we are intentionally making unsustainable products and packages. If we […]

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NYC GF: Volunteers help recover 95% or more of Green Festival waste from landfill

Mackenzie Fagan sorts recyclables, compostables, and landfill material at the NYC Green Festival.

When the leader of the Weill Cornell Medical College asked for someone to organize a group of volunteers to help the New York City Green Festival stay green, Mackenzie Fagan raised her hand.  She pulled together 20 members of her campus green group to spend the day at the Green Festival, sorting waste into compostables, recyclables, and landfill waste. First, […]

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National Geographic Finds Using Recycled Paper Would Benefit the Environment

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Adapted from a post written for Dead-Tree Edition by Green America’s Frank Locantore on behalf of our Better Paper Project. For more than a decade, Frank  has helped publishers switch to recycled paper, and today he explains a study commissioned by the National Geographic Society, which  found overwhelming environmental benefits to using paper containing recycled content. New Life Cycle Analysis […]

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Top Tips From Green Bloggers: How to Green your Halloween

This is a guest post compiled by Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson of Celebrate Green Summer’s long over. School is back in session. And that means Halloween is knocking at your door. We thought that in addition to reminding you to check out GreenHalloween for ideas, we’d pass on some tips from our fellow green bloggers. 1. From green blogger and independent crafter Becky Striepe, comes an idea for a simple Halloween scrap banner. And if you’re into banners, here’s a paper one we created last year. 2. Do you read Healthy Home magazine? If not, you should. You can get awesome ideas for all things healthy and green, like this BPA-free pumpkin puree that’s easier than pie to make. 3. Lots of parents today are opting out of masks and choosing face paints instead. But these can contain chemicals that you don’t want on your children’s skin. What to do? Make your own! You can check out our recipe here, and for more ideas, check out this article on Greenwala by Danika Carter, or this one from Diane MacEachern at Big Green Purse. 4. Great tips on avoiding GMO sugar this Halloween from My Healthy Green Family. 5. Emily Roach at Random Recycling loves roasting pumpkins seeds. Here’s her recipe. 6. From Robbie Schneider at Going Green Mama, what to do with that mammoth Halloween stash. 7. The Smart Mama, Jennifer Taggart, suggests using tee tree oil to keep your carved Jack-o-lantern from molding. And Danika Carter, from Your Organic Life says adding those little silica gel packets works well too. 8. And finally, […]

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Fast Company: A leader in using recycled paper

Fast Company magazine is at the forefront of business innovation and progress, so it’s no surprise that they use recycled paper – an environmentally sustainable decision that sets them apart from the majority of the magazine industry. “Fast Company: Obstacles and Opportunities” gives an in-depth look into how this magazine is leading the way in eco-friendly print publishing.  In our 3-minute video from the Better Paper Project, Fast Company’s Managing Editor, Allegra Lagani, shares how her magazine transitioned to recycled paper and improved its reputation with its readers and advertisers. In the video, Allegra comments, “Sustainability is one of the core areas that Fast Company focuses on, so in order to practice what we preach, we need to use recycled paper.” The process of switching to recycled paper taught Fast Company that the myths about recycled paper being lower quality than virgin paper are no longer true. As Allegra said, “I think a lot of the limitations are from years ago before the world of recycled paper had been explored.” If the entire North American magazine industry included a minimum of 30 percent post-consumer recycled paper in their publications, we would save:     Over 10 million trees     7 billion gallons of wastewater and     Over 1.5 billion pounds of CO2 (the equivalent of removing over 160,000 cars from the road). While 97% of the magazine industry still uses virgin fiber paper, Fast Company provides progressive business leaders with engaging […]

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