What You Don’t Know: Paper Towels And Waste

  • October 21, 2011 10:33 am
Try this experiment: how many paper towels did you use today? I’m not just talking about what you used at home. What did you use at work? In the bathroom at work? At a restaurant at lunch? In that restroom? And anywhere else along the way?
I gave up paper towels at home (except for the very worst case scenarios…let’s just say I have a cat that pukes not infrequently) a while back. Still, I did this experiment recently and realized I was still using them on the go — often without thinking — and even though I always carry a cloth napkin in my bag! I always using my cloth napkin for lunches and food on the go but forgot to consider for when drying my hands in public rest rooms. Amazing how ingrained some of this behavior is.
Here’s a little tidbit about paper towels and waste from a PracticallyGreen.com action I recently edited:

“Let’s say the average American works 240 days a year and washes their hands at least three times a day while at the office. If only one paper towel is used (some people use more), that adds up to 720 a year. This doesn’t even include the number of paper towels and napkins being used in restaurants, retail stores, stadiums, and libraries. Mind boggling.

A little perspective: the NRDC estimates that if every household in the United States used one less roll of paper towels, we could save 544,000 trees.

According to the EPA, paper accounts for 28 percent of municipal waste contributing 26 million tons to landfills. Though paper towels are great for compost, sorting waste in public bathrooms is a challenge to say the least. These sorting issues plus fiber quality means paper towels used in public spaces are rarely recycled and often end up in landfills.”

So: If you haven’t already switched from paper towels to dishrags and cloth napkins, give it a whirl. And tuck a cloth napkin in your purse or computer bag, too, to use when you’re at your office or on the go. I tuck mine inside a cloth produce bag to protect it from all of the other stuff clogging what I now refer to as my mom bag: pretzel dust, odd arts and craft projects, reusable coffee mug and water bottle, receipts, marbles, hand cream, a reusable fork and spoon, and so on. You know the drill.
FYI, while you’re washing your hands don’t forget that regular old soap and water are all you need. Avoid soaps with synthetic fragrance and antibacterial pesticides like triclosan. It’s just not necessary. The American Medical Association has come out against it, saying it may encourage bacterial resistance to antibiotics. And an FDA advisory committee found it–and other antibacterial hand soap agents–has no benefits over plain soap and water.  There are environmental issues with it, too, but I’ll spare you the details–for now.

Sunday Night Musings

  • March 13, 2011 7:45 pm

Having spent all of last year (and then some) writing Planet Home and The Butcher’s Guide To Well-Raised Meat, I’m trying to come back to the world of working more regular-ish hours. This includes a no-computer policy after 10 p.m. weeknights and, um, all weekend long. This is for my sanity and for the overall health and enjoyment of the whole family.

So far so bad.

I’m sort of managing the after 10 p.m. weekday part. Basically. And weekends I’m middling through at only being on email/texting etc. when it pertains to weekend-specific plans. But wow there are a lot of people emailing me work questions I’m itching to answer after 10 p.m. and all weekend long. Perhaps I should suggest they also adopt similar computer and social media pauses?

The whole attempt means I wind up creating a long list of things I know I have to do Monday morning on Sunday nights. Not the most relaxing scenario. Especially as I did actual work today, giving a Planet Home-linked talk at the Child Grows In Brooklyn Baby Expo (wearing, I might add, a very cute organic sweater–a fantastic gift from Eileen Fisher).

On my To Do list this week:

  • reading through intern resumes (how telling that I need an intern in order to have enough time to hire an intern)
  • all of my regular work (enjoying my PracticallyGreen.com editing!)
  • being a mom to a 5-year-old
  • taxes!
  • writing blog, articles, and more
  • all of that Tweeting and Facebooking my publisher really seems to want me to do
  • going to Edible Manhattan’s Good Meat issue party with my Butcher’s Guide co-author (Fleisher’s was lovingly featured in the magazine)
  • organizing a meeting for my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)
  • preparing for the make your own cleaning products seminar I’m giving at Stone Barns Center For Food & Agriculture next weekend

And that’s just the tip o’ the iceberg. But I’m still going to turn off my computer at 10 p.m. Or else.

How is your week looking?

PracticallyGreen.com Announces New Editorial Director: Me

  • February 23, 2011 11:32 am

Green-living expert Alexandra Zissu joins online service dedicated to promoting healthy and green life changes; Zissu to manage environmental health and science content for PracticallyGreen.com

02.23.2011– Boston, MA Practically Green, an online service that helps busy people make healthy, practical, green-living decisions for themselves and their families, today announced the hiring of Alexandra Zissu as Editorial Director for the company.

In her role, Zissu will be responsible for editing all online environmental health and science content for Practically Green, notably the healthy green action platform. These healthy green actions, a core element of Practically Green’s personalized program, are comprehensive steps that users can take to live healthier and greener. Zissu will also oversee Practically Green’s product standards and screenings.

“As a trailblazer in the green and healthy living space, Alexandra Zissu brings a wealth of diverse experience and eco-living expertise to Practically Green,” said Practically Green Founder and CEO Susan Hunt Stevens. “We are excited to have her on board and look forward to working with her to provide real-world personalized advice to consumers worldwide.”

Zissu is a journalist and the renowned green-living author of The Complete Organic Pregnancy; The Conscious Kitchen, a Books for a Better Life Awards finalist; the forthcoming The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat; and the just-released Planet Home, a room-by-room guide to safe and environmentally-friendly living. As a “greenproofing” consultant for businesses and households, Zissu has been called upon to help companies go green on all levels, from basic environmentally-friendly tips for staff to company-wide sustainability initiatives. For home consultations, Zissu identifies areas of living space where simple changes can reduce and minimize exposure to potentially harmful substances.

“I am thrilled to join the Practically Green team of esteemed green-living experts,” said Zissu. “I am looking forward to working together to continue building a site that will inspire people all over the world to commit to making healthy, green changes in their everyday lives. I’ll still be plugging away at my own work within the environmental community — writing, speaking, consulting — and it feels great to join forces with like-minded, passionate people on our shared mission.”

Practically Green is an online service that provides consumers with the knowledge necessary to make green and healthy-living decisions in their everyday lives, while also making the process fun and easy to share with their friends and neighbors via their personal online social networks.

The service is driven by a unique diagnostic tool that provides users with their current “green living profile.” The web site then draws from its database of more than 400 healthy green actions to generate customized recommendations for each user. Suggested actions help people reduce energy consumption, save water, reduce exposure to household toxins, and preserve natural resources. Progress is tracked and users earn points as well as social recognition in the form of badges and medals. Actions and accomplishments can be shared with friends, using the power of social networks to drive real-life changes.

Zissu joins an established team of digital media veterans including CEO Stevens, who held senior digital and marketing roles with The New York Times Company, most recently as SVP/GM of Boston.com, one of the nation’s largest regional news sites. The executive team also includes Co-founder and Vice President of Product and Technology Jason Butler, who has held product leadership roles with Boston.com, Abuzz, and Amazon.com; and Director of Social Programming Sarah Finnie Robinson, a former launch programming director at iVillage.

Practically Green was launched in a private beta version in May 2010, and went into open beta in July 2010.

Practically Green can be found at www.practicallygreen.com, on Twitter at www.twitter/practicallygrn, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/practicallygreen.

Media Contacts:
Mary Zanor / Colleen White
Elevate Communications
617-861-3653 / 617-861-3679
mzanor@elevatecom.com> / cwhite@elevatecom.com>

Reviews of Planet Home Starting

  • January 8, 2011 8:43 pm

Reviews and blog mentions of Planet Home are starting to roll in. Practically Green has a fun q&a with Jeffrey Hollender and me, The GoodGuide has it on their what-they're-reading-now list, and BabyGreenDesign gives a nice shout out, calling it a "green home bible" for 2011. I'm very grateful to TheLocalCook.com for giving it 5 out of 5 and for pointing out the following:


"At first I was a bit wary, thinking maybe it would be a thinly veiled marketing shtick for Seventh Generation products. Surprisingly, it includes information on how to make your OWN cleaning products!"


I know this but I forgot that not everyone else does! Read even one page and this will become amply clear.