13 Ideas to Make the World Greener

A recent Washington Post article Going, Going, Green (yep — green is mainstream!) lists 13 ways to be greener.

Here’s a couple of interesting ones — check out the article for the rest. 

GREEN BURIALS

Yes, even returning to the earth can be done in a more earth-friendly way. Traditional funerals place chemically embalmed bodies in sealed containers, while cemeteries require not-so-green upkeep in the form of gasoline-powered lawn mowers and chemical grass fertilizers. And coffins, after all, are made of wood from trees (or wood chips glued together with formaldehyde).

Green burial sites feel more like nature preserves, and that’s the idea: Practitioners emphasize the use of biodegradable, renewable-material coffins (or none at all), natural stones over headstones, and the planting of flowers and trees. An added bonus: It’s significantly cheaper (a green burial might cost $2,000, vs. $6,000 for many conventional funerals). The closest green burial sites to the D.C. area listed on http://www.forestofmemories.org/ , which keeps a database, are Ramsey Creek in Westminster, S.C., and Greensprings Natural Cemetery in Upstate New York.

One company, Eternal Reefs ( http://www.eternalreefs.com/ ), offers a twist on the concept: They’ll mix cremated ashes with concrete to create artificial coral reefs, which are then lowered into the sea to provide marine life with a new habitat. Prices start at $995 for a spot in a “shared community reef.”

PLASTIC FROM PLANTS

Plastic is one of the most useful materials, but also one of the most environmentally problematic. While its light weight saves fuel in cars and during shipping of goods, most plastics are produced using petroleum and toxic chemicals. When burned, as some garbage is, more toxic compounds are released.

The new breed of biodegradable and plant-based plastic containers and tools offer almost all of plastic’s benefits and few of its ecological drawbacks. They are usually derived from non-genetically modified corn and wheat, which means they can be composted or will biodegrade (though in tightly sealed landfills, they might not). One polymer, developed at the University of Warwick in England, biodegrades into soil in which plants can grow. Biota ( http://www.biotaspringwater.com/ ), the first spring water with a biodegradable plastic bottle, launched in the western United States in 2004.

Locally, bioplastics are available at Future Green (1469 Church St. NW, 202-234-7110) and Java Green (1020 19th St. NW, 202-775-8899, http://www.javagreen.net/ ), a cafe that serves organic coffee, runs on wind energy and uses biodegradable takeout dishware.

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