Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Green Living Challenge #8: Organic Lunch Leads to the Finish Line!

Today is your final day to complete the 2007 Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment Green Living Challenge! There's now an online entry form available.

I just realized I can grab my last 10 points for something I hadn't even been consciously doing:

Eat a locally grown, organic, and/or meatless ingredient meal twice a week.

I love cooking for family and friends, but I hate cooking for myself. Any lunch or dinner I make for just me usually involves no more than five minutes of prep time before going in the oven or going on my plate. Usually, that meant salads were out. Washing the lettuce, chopping the tomatoes ... way too much work.

Then this summer, I made a startling discovery: It takes just as much time to make one salad as it does three salads. OK, so it seems obvious, but I hadn't exactly spent sleepless nights crunching the numbers on salad prep. I've been making three salads on Sunday and bringing one to work each day for lunch.

And thanks to my local Harris Teeter, the salads are organic. They have a great selection of organic produce at prices that are comparable to their pesticidal (is that a word?) counterparts. I'd been thinking to fill this requirement I had to get free-range tofu from my local farmers market, but it was a lot easier than I'd thought.

There's more and more evidence that organic foods aren't just better for the environment. They may be healthier for humans as well, and not just because they don't contain pesticides. A new study (so new it hasn't been peer reviewed) says organic foods may contain more nutrients than conventionally-grown food.

If you're just starting the switch to organics, where can you get the most bang for your buck? The New York Times blog recently listed five of the foods that can make the biggest impact.

Points for this action: 10
Total points to date: 100
Points needed to complete Green Living Challenge: 100

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Green Living Challenge #7: Making the Move to CFLs

The Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment Green Living Challenge deadline is coming up tomorrow, but I can grab another 5 points for something that's already been saving me money:

Change the most frequently used light bulbs in your residence to compact fluorescent (up to 5 bulbs with one point per bulb).

Switching to CFLs is one of several things I did this spring that helped cut my power bill by 10%. While CFLs won't stop global warming by themselves, they can help reduce our national power usage, hence our greenhouse gas emissions.

CFLs do contain a small amount of mercury, so they need to be recycled. But CFLs actually involve less total mercury use than incandescent bulbs. Why? Because the majority of our national power comes from coal. The coal burned to provide the extra juice incandescents require will actually put more mercury into the atmosphere than is contained in a CFL. This graph explains it best.

Even though they'll save you up to $30 on your power bill over a 10-year lifespan, CFLs can still be shockingly hard to find. The Harris Teeter near me on Glebe Road doesn't stock even one CFL. Even when the return on investment is so immediate and enormous, old habits can be hard to break.

Should American ban incandescents like Australia recently did? I think so. Consumers save money, we slightly ease demand on our national power grid, and we slightly cut our national greenhouse gas emissions. What would be the downside?

Points for this action: 5
Total points to date: 90
Points needed to complete Green Living Challenge: 100

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Trees of Charlottesville, Prepare to be Hugged

The Green Miles got up at 5:15 in the stupid morning today to drive all the way to stupid Charlottesville for the stupid 2007 Virginia Climate Action Conference.

OK, so that's the tired talking. Actually, it's really cool to see so many dedicated environmentalists in one place. Who knew that in a state addicted to coal there are 150 people willing to get to the University of Virginia campus at 8:30am on a Saturday to talk about climate action?

I'm live blogging the event over at Check it out!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Why is the White House So Afraid of the Truth on Global Warming?

Already accused of rewriting the science of climate change to fit its politics, the White House is at it again. This time the White House severely edited the Senate testimony of Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control:

[H]er prepared testimony was devoted almost entirely to the CDC's preparation, with few details on what effects climate change could have on the spread of disease. Only during questioning did she describe some specific diseases that likely would be affected, again without elaboration.

Her testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee had much less information on health risks than a much longer draft version Gerberding submitted to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review in advance of her appearance.

"It was eviscerated," said a CDC official, familiar with both versions, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the review process.

The conservative contradiction on climate change is just breathtaking. On the one hand, you have deniers saying it doesn't exist, and if it does exist it's not our fault, and if it is our fault it would be too expensive to do anything about it. On the other hand, the White House is absolutely terrified of the general public learning the scientific truth.

Cross-posted from

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Green Living Challenge #6: Greening My Power, Cutting My Carbon Footprint

With the Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment Green Living Challenge deadline coming up on October 31st, it's time to finish my push to 100 points. Fortunately, I can pick up another 10 points for something I did over the summer:

Buy renewable energy credits (e.g. wind power) equivalent to at least 50% of your electricity usage.

I've switched my power source from Dominion's standard mix of mostly coal-fired and nuclear power to green power, though it was more expensive and a long process. I'd much rather switch my power source directly to green power than to still use coal/nuclear with credits. With the latter, you're not directly reducing your carbon footprint, you're just trying to offset it, a questionable practice.

Wikipedia can give you a quick overview of green power. You can also track my progress in completing the Green Living Challenge.

Points for this action: 10
Total points to date: 85
Points needed to complete Green Living Challenge: 100

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Wednesday: ACE Green Living Challenge Finish Line Party!

Here's a little last-minute help to complete the Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment Green Living Challenge:

Green Living Challenge Finish Line Party
Wednesday, October 24, 7-9pm
Busboys and Poets
4251 S. Campbell Ave, Shirlington

Bring your completed Green Living Challenge entry form (deadline October 31), or drop in for some inspiration to finish. We’ll have light refreshments and green living giveaways for everyone who comes by. For more information, call 703-228-6406 or email

The Green Miles still has 25 points to go before completing the Challenge. I'll get working now to get the form completed in time to turn in tomorrow night. Hope to see you there!

Planet in Peril & Heroes of Our Planet

A quick heads up on two upcoming events:

From the Bottom Up
Wednesday, Oct. 24, 7:30 p.m.
Grosvenor Auditorium, National Geographic Society
1600 M Street, NW
Member: $15/Non-Member: $18

In the summer of 1997, a college student from East Moline, Illinois, CHAD PREGRACKE, set himself a quixotic goal: to clean up the garbage-infested banks of the Mississippi near his hometown. He started simply, by pushing a wheelbarrow along the riverbank and picking up garbage as he went. Before the summer was over, Chad's quest had caught the attention first of
local media, and later the Associated Press and CNN, and the self-described "river rat" became an unlikely hero, leveraging his newfound celebrity into corporate support for his cause and branching out across America. Now the author of a new National Geographic book, From the Bottom Up: One Man's Crusade to Clean America's Rivers, Pregracke will share his inspiring mission to clean up our waterways.

For more details on this and future events, check out National Geographic's Heroes of Our Planet page!

Also, CNN's Planet in Peril special debuts tonight (Tuesday October 23rd) at 9pm eastern. If you can't catch it tonight, it will rerun tomorrow night at the same time.

Let me know if you catch either of these events! I'm always happy to post your reviews here.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Why Should I Have to Choose Between Green and 'Bleu in Miami?

Sorry for the post drought but The Green Miles was in Miami for the Patriots-Dolphins game, the gridiron version of Ali-Patterson (Tom Brady coming back in for his 6th TD was the Pats' version of "What's my name, fool?").

While I was there, I caught a cool story on the local NPR station about how Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is using state's purchasing power to push hotels to go green:

Now the Four Seasons -- and Florida's 45 other certified green lodges -- stand to benefit from an increase in business thanks to Gov. Charlie Crist's recent mandate that state-sponsored meetings and conferences be held at FDEP-certified green hotels whenever possible, beginning Jan. 1.

Crist's order has sparked a race among hoteliers to complete their paperwork and earn certification from FDEP's green lodging program, which was created in 2004 as a pollution-prevention measure. The program is charged with helping the state's lodging facilities implement ways to conserve water, reduce waste, improve air quality and save energy.
I stayed at the Fontainebleu, which not only isn't FDEP-certified but doesn't have even a single green feature. Not that I didn't enjoy the gorgeous view and all the great amenities, but there's absolutely no reason you can't have gorgeous AND green (in fact, there's a whole website devoted to it). Steps like energy-efficient appliances and lighting, a re-use program for linens and towels, adjusted thermostats and eliminating the use of disposable products like water bottles should be imperceptible to guests. So why should I have to choose between green and (Fontaine)bleu? Why can't I have both?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Green Halloween: A Fine Line Between Eco-Friendly and Ultra Lame-O

I've been looking over the tips for having a green Halloween from various websites and I have to tell you ... they're a little damn dirty hippie-ish, even for The Green Miles. When I was growing up, if you were giving out organic fruit on Halloween, you were getting a trick.

But there are definitely some tips to help you have a greener holiday, most prominently this year: Make sure your decorations and giveaways don't contain lead. OK, so that's not really exclusively a "green" tip, but with Halloween items joining the parade of Chinese-made toys containing lead, it's probably this year's most urgent advice. Some others ...
* Give out organic or fair trade chocolate
* Instead of using paper or plastic disposable bags to collect treats, use or buy a recyclable bag
* If you're hosting a party, use re-usable plates, cups, utensils, napkins and tablecloths and make sure your guests know where your recycling bin is
* When the holiday is over, save your decorations for future years like you would Christmas lights or ornaments
To cut down on your food miles, you can also get your pumpkin at a farmers market or even at a local farm. I'm a big fan of Marker Miller Orchards in Winchester, VA.

And of course, you can cut down on waste by re-using costumes. After getting invited at the last minute to a Halloween party during a visit to New York City, I bought this giant orange pumpkin hat for $35. I thought it was a ripoff at the time, but I was desperate.

That was five years ago, and it's served me well many times since. Mostly it gets basic "look at that there big ol' hat" type laugh, but last year I managed to kick it up a notch, combining it with a shirt with "3.1428" written on it. Pumpkin pi ... get it?

To get more tips, check out or the Sierra Club's blog.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Recycling in NH: Not So Much

The Green Miles traveled to New Hampshire for work last week as the National Wildlife Federation released a new poll asking NH hunters and anglers how they feel about global warming (short version - they think we have a moral duty to future generations to take strong action now).

While New Hampshirites have gotten the message on global warming, they seem to be a little behind on recycling. The Manchester Airport had only one type of waste bin, the kind that goes straight to a landfill. As I've blogged before, airports vary greatly when it comes to recycling programs, and the Manchester Airport definitely has some work to do.

It was even worse when I got to the hotel. I don't expect hotels to have recycling bins in their rooms (it would be nice, but we're just not there yet). However, usually the hotel front desk is happy to accept my old newspaper and soda bottle to be recycled. Not at the Fairfield Inn by Marriott in Concord. The front desk clerk told me they don't recycle at all. Fortunately BWI Airport has a wicked awesome recycling program, so I didn't have to drag the recyclables all the way home.

Since I've never had trouble before, I've never asked the hotel if they accept recycling before booking. Do I need to start? What are your experiences with recycling at hotels?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Reusables: The Big Lie

Nobody loves reusables more than The Green Miles. Toting my reusable coffee mug all over the country. Bringing my reusable grocery bag to Harris Teeter.

But from businesses to environmentalists, there's a Big Lie that people seem to be buying into. The Big Lie is that giving a discount of five or ten cents on your grocery bill or on a cup of coffee will get people to use reusables.

Allow me to detail exactly how many people will change their behavior based on a five or ten cent discount: No one.

Let me repeat that in big bold letters: No one.

Let's take Starbucks as an example. Buy a stainless steel desktop mug for $18.95, and with their 10 cent discount for bringing your own mug, you'll recoup your investment in just 190 cups of coffee! Talk about a lousy return on investment. And that's assuming you don't lose track of the mug by then.

Of course people will use reusables for other reasons, and that discount does help reinforce that behavior. But most people won't bend over to pick up a dime on the street, never mind change their routine because of one.

Why does The Big Lie live on? Because no one wants to discourage stores from doing what they can to promote reusables, so environmentalists feel like they have to take what they can get.

There's only one way to really incentivize reusables, and that's by ending the practice of giving away disposable containers. If you charged 25 cents per bag or per cup, you'd see behaviors change in a hurry. That 25 cents could then go to litter cleanup or recycling efforts. Right now, if someone doesn't properly dispose of their disposable, you pay for its cleanup through your tax dollars.

What's stopping that? No one wants to be the first, or worse yet, the only. Just take a look at British supermarket chain Sainsbury's, which tried to charge for bags:

We did a 'pay-for' trial some years ago where we did charge the cost price for carrier bags to our customers, but our customers where not happy and complained. From these trials we decided to stop charging our customers for carrier bags and fall in line with other retailers.
But a recent JD Power study reported reusables present a strong branding opportunity:

Nearly 45 percent of upscale store customers and 30 percent of midscale customers say that they would like their department store to offer a designer shopping bag that is reusable, which presents an opportunity for stores to provide an environmentally friendly offering. Shoppers 40 years and younger tend to be more interested in reusable shopping bags, compared with their older counterparts.
The bottom line? There are plenty of ways to promote reusables -- environmental education efforts, giveaways of reusables, and financial incentives with teeth. But as Yogi Berra once said, a nickel ain't worth a dime anymore.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Spotted at Upton Hill Regional Park Whilst Mini-Golfing

One mini-bunny. What, you were expecting Mark Warner?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Al Gore's New Theme Song: Damn It Feels Good to be a Gangsta

People often ask me, "The Green Miles (no, people don't actually call me that, but it's my blog so just go with it), when did global warming go from being a matter of debate to accepted reality? What was the tipping point?"

My answer is that there were two distinct tipping points. The first came on May 24, 2006 when Al Gore's documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, was released in theaters. After that, people stopped debating whether global warming is happening. The debate shifted to why global warming is happening.

The second tipping point came on February 2, 2007, when the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report declaring that "with near certainty — more than 90 percent confidence — that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from human activities have been the main causes of warming in the past half century." That shifted the debate from why global warming is happening to what we can do to avoid its worst effects.

Now today, we have the possibility of the third tipping point. Al Gore and the IPCC have been recognized for their work with the Nobel Peace Prize. Will the debate shift now from what we can do to international agreement on strong action to limit greenhouse gas emissions?

For the environmental movement, the Prize is a watershed event. But for Al Gore, after getting screwed by the political media in 2000, it must be especially satisfying. I'd think he's walking around like this today:

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Renting a Car: The Battle of Green Brain vs. Man Brain

Whenever I rent a car, I inevitably end up caught in the middle of a debate between two conflicting sides of my brain:

Green Brain: Most of the time when I travel, I'm only driving short distances with myself and a couple of bags. I only need an economy-sized car. Even if they were comparably priced, why would I want a bigger car that would end up costing me more in gas? And more gas means more carbon emissions.

Man Brain: Allow me to spell it out for you: Bigger is better. Everyone knows that. It's the American way. Extra value meals. McMansions. SUVs. Are you anti-American? And why rent an economy car when you could get a midsize car for just $5 more? That's a much better value. Who cares if you actually need a bigger car or not? You buy laundry detergent when it's two-for-one at the grocery store even though it takes you 6 months to use a box of detergent. So why would you suddenly pass on a bargain here? You can't. You won't!
On a trip to Massachusetts earlier this summer, they offered me a free upgrade to an SUV at the rental counter. Man Brain said, "You never get to drive an SUV! It'll be fun! Plus, you'll have plenty of room to tote around various relatives on trips to the beach and such." Before Green Brain could get a word in edgewise, I'd taken the SUV. Soon enough, I regretted it, having to spent something like $50 to gas it up in less than a week of driving.

So on a trip to New Hampshire this week, I stuck with the economy car. It only had to get me from Manchester to Concord and back, so why did I need anything bigger? When I filled up the tank before returning it, I only had to put in 1.8 gallons of gas.

For those of you traveling out west, check out EV Rental, which offers hybrid rentals at several airports in California and Arizona. A few traditional rental companies like Avis are also slowly starting to add hybrids to their fleet.

The best way to drive change (no pun intended) in this case is with your wallet. If you're renting a car, ask for a hybrid. If they don't offer hybrids, ask why not. Hybrids cut down on the use of foreign oil, promoting America's energy independence. Isn't THAT more American than a gas-guzzling SUV?

"Think Globally, Drink Locally"

That's the motto at Pearmund Cellars, a winery in Broad Run that Gov. Tim Kaine toured on Monday with House of Delegates candidate Bill Day and Warrenton Mayor George Fitch. Pearmund uses geothermal technology to cut back on energy consumption.

It was a bit contradictory for Gov. Kaine to pull up to an alternative energy event in a Canyonero-esque Chevy Suburban (15 mpg city/20 highway). But as The Green Girlfriend pointed out, at least he was technically carpooling with his aides and security detail.

Gov. Kaine coincidentally focused on energy during a bizarre October heat wave. On Tuesday at Dulles Airport, the day's high shattered the old record by seven full degrees. The unusual heat didn't go unnoticed inside the tasting room. One server began "This is a good summertime wine," then laughed, "And it's still summer, isn't it?"

Dominion's proposed high-voltage transmission line was a hot topic (no pun intended) at the event. Bill Day questioned why conservation and effiency weren't being considered before a $1.4 billion, customer-funded transmission line. Gov. Kaine said he was especially worried about the federal government unilaterally making decisions on the line without listening to Virginia voices. You can get more details on the proposal at the Piedmont Environmental Council's website.

On such a hot, humid day, we were eager to check out what's literally and figurately the winery's coolest feature -- its geothermally-temperature-controlled barrel room:

The 7,500-square-foot building holds the barrels of wine that are aging in a climate-controlled atmosphere. The new winery is environmentally sound. "We're heated and cooled by geothermal," [Chris Pearmund] explained. "We're taking water from 400 feet deep and using it to heat and cool this place. It's much more environmentally-friendly, and it pays for itself in the long run."
I asked why Pearmund doesn't make organic wine. Our server lamented that organic wine is hard to manufacture and even harder to get right. However, she said they try to use as few pesticides as possible.

We ended up heading home with half a case of Pearmund wines. But you don't have to drive out to Broad Run -- you can get Pearmund in stores across Virginia, with a full listing on Pearmund's website. Remember, when you buy Virgnia wine, you're not just helping a local business, you're helping the environment by consuming a product that didn't have to be shipped halfway around the world. I'll drink to that!

Cross-posted from

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Can a Traffic Light Help Lower Your Taxes?

Caught a beautiful late-summer sky recently at the corner of N. Monroe and Fairfax Drive (sorry for the low quality of the cell phone camera). But there's a little environmental beauty in the foreground, as well:

Arlington County has retrofitted more than half of its signalized traffic intersections with light-emitting diode (LED) traffic lights. These LED traffic lights are brighter and only use 25% as much electricity as traditional traffic signals. LED traffic lights also last ten times longer than incandescent bulbs, so the maintenance cost of these new signals is sharply reduced. All of our traffic signals will be LED lights by 2010, saving enough electricity to power about 250 homes.
Info comes from the Arlington Fresh AIRE site. The electricity savings are only a tiny fraction of Arlington County's total power usage, but the cost and maintenance savings will really add up. Always nice when the right environmental move and the right economic move converge!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Conservatives: Global Warming Too Expensive to Fight (Iraq War Apparently Affordable)

Continuing its tradition of donating prime editorial space to deniers of reality, the Washington Post today runs an editorial from Bjorn Lomborg, a longtime global warming muddler:

Environmental groups say that the only way to deal with the effects of global warming is to make drastic cuts in carbon emissions -- a project that will cost the world trillions (the Kyoto Protocol alone would cost $180 billion annually).
I'm sure we could go back and forth about the true cost, but let's assume Lomborg is right and conforming to Kyoto would cost the world $180 billion a year. Sounds like a lot, doesn't it?

But let's put it into context. $180 billion is just 6% of the annual budget of the United States federal government. The United States has spent $454 billion in just the last four years fighting the Iraq War. We couldn't afford our share of $180 billion to stop global warming?

The "it'll be too expensive and it's too late anyway" argument is a recurring one from conservatives these days. A recent op-ed in Foreign Policy from two former Bush administration officials. But as a friend who's a climate scientist points out, they don't carry much credibility:

What is galling about this article is that the two authors worked for the chief climate negotiator at the State Department during a time when the US was actively stalling the international negotiations on climate change. Their work directly contributed to the predicament we're in now!
My favorite part of researching this post came from Lomborg's Wikipedia entry. The Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty had declared Lomborg's "book to be scientifically dishonest, but Lomborg himself not guilty because of lack of expertise in the fields in question."

Ouch. Not guilty by reason of stupidity. It reminds me of an old Bloom County strip in which a judge finds Steve Dallas not guilty of computer piracy because, "I don't think you're capable of successfully picking your nose, never mind hacking a computer."

Friday, October 5, 2007

Colbert: Bush Has "Glacier-Sized Balls - PRE-Global Warming!"

"Mr. President, for leading us to a bold commitment to finalize a goal for future possible action to solve global warming, you, sir, are my Alpha Dog of the Week."

Via Dan Froomkin

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Paper or Plastic: Which is the Green Answer?

Neither. The Washington Post has a great graphic today comparing paper and plastic grocery bags, coming to the conclusion that neither is a decisively better choice for the environment. Instead, you should choose reusable grocery bags. recently came to the same conclusion. It makes you wonder, considering how we're nickel and dimed for everything else these days, why are paper and plastic bags still handed out for free?
The Green Miles recently wrote about how he's fighting through the frustrations of the transition to reusables.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Virginia's Energy Sales Tax Holiday: Not Such a Bright Idea

Allow me to do some Malcolm Gladwell-style consumer psychology: Why doesn't the Maytag Repairman ever tell you washers are on sale?

Because people don't buy appliances like they buy other products. Unlike that car you might be persuaded to trade-in for a newer model because of a cash-back offer or that morning cup of coffee you might be swayed to get at Krispy Kreme because of a discounted donut, you buy new appliances when the old ones break.

Think about it. Have you ever been in Sears and said, "I like the washer we have, but dang it, this sale is too good to pass up. I'm throwing out our perfectly good current one." Sure, there are sales to try to sway you from one brand to the other, but they're not designed to get you to want to buy an appliance in the first place. That's why Maytag preaches brand reliability -- whenever you do need a new dishwasher, they'll be there.

So why would you throw out your perfectly-good refrigerator just because Virginia has declared an EnergyStar Sales Tax Holiday October 5-8? If Virginia is really interested in promoting energy efficiency, shouldn't it offer an incentive that will be there whenever your old fridge kicks the bucket?

But, as the Virginian-Pilot detailed back in February, "it gets worse":
What home appliance uses the most energy? The furnace. What appliance is completely excluded from [Del. John] Cosgrove's bill? The furnace. (Isn't it curious that the furnace is the most expensive home appliance most people will ever buy, and excluding it from the sales tax would actually cut into state revenue?)

And still it gets worse. Cosgrove has so inartfully worded his legislation, that you don't even have to buy the most energy-efficient "Energy Star" appliances to get the tax break, you just have to buy appliances that meet "energy-saving efficiency requirements."

Well guess what? You can't buy or sell new air conditioners or water heaters that don't meet Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy efficiency standards. Thus, all new appliances qualify for the tax break.

In short, the Chesapeake Republican has written a tax break that almost nobody will get, that doesn't apply to the largest energy hog in your house and doesn't actually encourage people to buy the most energy-efficient appliances. There's a word for that: worthless.

Thanks to Lowell from RK for passing along the governor's release, and thanks to Vivian for first catching the editorial back in February.

Cross-posted (mostly) from

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Upgrades to Help Clean Arlington's Waterways

Major upgrades are underway at the Arlington Wastewater Treatment Plant. You can read more details and view photos at the Arlington County Dept. of Environmental Services website. Not a sexy subject, but once the upgrades are complete, they'll really improve the water quality in Arlington's rivers and streams!

Monday, October 1, 2007

New Phone Books Arrive. Why?

Recently our new phone books arrived. Even though The Green Miles and his roommate don't have a land-line phone, we still get both the Yellow Pages and White Pages delivered.

The Internet has rendered phone books obsolete. We only use them a few times a year at this point, doing most of our searching online. At least the books themselves are recyclable; the plastic bags they come in are not.

Fortunately AT&T is experimenting with getting rid of them:
The [North Carolina] utilities commission requires phone providers to deliver a directory about once every year. AT&T wants to change that requirement so that it is only required to "publish" the listings.

Metcalf said internal research shows that customers rarely use the White Pages as they increasingly turn to the Internet for basic phone listings. If all customers in Raleigh and Charlotte switched to the Web-based version, AT&T estimates that it will save 4 million pounds of waste each year.

"AT&T's proposal is a creative and innovative approach to the problem of solid waste," said state Sen. Janet Cowell, D-Wake.

Metcalf declined to say how much money the company will save by changing the service. Bob Bennink, the general counsel for the North Carolina Utilities Commission, said the agency will consider the issue at a mid-October meeting.
Anyone know if Virginia requires phone companies to deliver phone books?