Wednesday, October 21, 2009

'Muddy 98' settlement story

A settlement was reached between Mobile Baykeeper and ALDOT concerning the US 98 roadway. You can read about it on this link. This is a wonderful victory for the group and the state of Alabama at large.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Coming events for October

For those of you in the Mobile/Baldwin county areas, here are some events going on for the month of October that might get you in the green spirit.

Fowl River Shoreline Assessment
October 10, 2009 - 7:30am 

Contact Alabama Coastal Foundation if you are interested in volunteering or would like more information. Bring your canoe, kayak, or small motor boat, as well as GPS units and a camera if you have them. The fun starts at 7:30 am at 4470 Windsor Road.

Sunday Paddle
October 11, 2009 - 4:00pm

The Mobile Bay Canoe & Kayak Club will be shoving off from Scott's Landing at the east end of the causeway. Plan on paddling between 1-2 hours and bring plenty of food and fluids. For more information, contact Juli Day at (251) 377-0054.

ANC General Public Weekend
October 17-18

During any ANC General Public Weekend, you can enjoy hiking five miles of scenic ANC trails while learning about the fascinating natural history of central Alabama. From distinguishing between a white oak and a red oak to observing the natural processes of a seasonal pond, you get more than just a walk in the woods when you pause to study the interpretive signs along the trails. From ponds and creeks to forests and fields, you can always find some kind of new life waiting around the next trail bend. You can even add to the outdoor experience with a tasty picnic under or around the ANC pavilion.

In addition to the self-guided trail system, you can also enjoy entertaining and informative conservation education programming during designated weekends. These weekends feature themes that highlight snakes, salamanders, frogs, turtles, birds, hydrangeas and even fishing, just to name a few. During these weekends, you can also enjoy a guided hike by one of ANC’s world class biologists. The ANC staff invites you to step outside, take a breath of fresh air and discover what happy trails await you at the Alabama Nature Center.

For more information, contact Holly Beverly at 800-822-9453 or email her at

CCA Western Shore Bay Blast
October 22, 2009 - 5:30pm-9:00pm
11765 Cedar Point Road in Theodore

Come enjoy food, refreshments and entertainment including a silent auction and prize drawings. Cost is $50/person, $75/couple and includes one CCA membership. For more information, call (251) 478-3474.

Bay Bash
October 29, 2009 - 6:00pm
5 Rivers Delta Resource Center (on the causeway)
Come enjoy Mobile Baykeeper's Bounty of the Bay buffet, an exciting silent auction, & live music. All proceeds to benefit Mobile Baykeeper. Tickets are $50/person. Must be 21 years of age. Advance ticket sales only.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Score one for environmentalists

A new Press-Register article today discussed the effects of damming creeks in order to "create private man-made fishing holes." Environmentalists in the area of course opposed the move, saying it'll destroy the streams themselves.

What a wonderful victory for them. Hopefully the deer, birds and coyotes said to inhabit the area near Aiken Creek will go largely unharmed -- thanks to the diligent work of Mobile Baykeeper and other affiliate environmental watchdog groups.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"Green, Greener, Greenest" -- Lagniappe article

Check out this interesting article just posted in this week's Lagniappe. I know it's not in Mobile, but maybe soon!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Addendum to climate bill article

You know that link at the top of the list at the right? The one about the Center for Public Integrity's Climate Lobbyist Investigation? Well, their reports were mentioned in the climate bill article as well.

One particularly dandy piece of information from the article:

"As of the first quarter this year, Atlanta-based Southern Company, the corporate parent of Alabama Power Co. and Mississippi Power Co., had 63 lobbyists seeking to influence climate change legislation, far more than any other U.S. business or interest group..."

I doubt these companies really have the people's interests in mind.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Climate bill article

Here's an interesting article that appeared in the Press-Register today. It's about the recent passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (HR 2454).
I'm typically not that enthused with the way our local media judges progressive moves like this, as they usually assume a fair amount of bias away from the idea of moving to a greener economy. But I gotta say I was impressed: they kept the axe away from the grinding stone here. Fair politics? Who knows, but you can read the full text (all 1,400+ pages) of the bill in all its glory.
The basics of the idea behind the bill is to shift from coal plants, fossil fuels and other harmful energy sources to cleaner sources, i.e. solar or wind power. It seeks to put caps on carbon emissions. The problem with Alabama is that we currently seek these things. We need them in order to sustain a cheap, fair economy. The bill, as it stands, will in fact raise the cost of oil and gasoline by a large margin (they say 77 cents, but you can never trust figures from these guys). But, in the long run, proponents say it'll be worth the cost due to an offset in our economy: that we'll save money in the long run by choosing these newer resources.
Perhaps it's not the best move for Alabama now. Perhaps our state's economy needs to grow a bit more. Our economy is still based on the old model. But we, Mobile, are standing at the edge of a massive growth spurt. Our jobs are growing faster than any other city in the state. If more green jobs emerge, it would stand to reason that our economy, and thus our state, would benefit in the long run.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Oh, YOU know what day it is.

And here are a few tips on how you can make this day count, from small to large improvements!

1. Inflate your tires to their proper amount of pressure
2. Change oil and air filters when necessary
3. Drive less, bike/walk/run more!
4. Plant something!
5. Change your household incandescent lightbulbs over to compact fluorescent ones.
6. Switch to lower-pressure shower heads.
7. Use recycled or post-consumer paper.
8. Use less or no paper when possible!
9. Eat only organic food.
10. Consult one of the links on this blog to find your carbon footprint, and seek to decrease it!

I guess I'm kinda late getting this on here (had a substitute day today), but there's still time. And even after today, there's always a million ways to live more environmentally friendly. I fall in the "Screw Earth Day" Gristmill camp; we should seek to make every day Earth Day.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Recycling improvements, Earth Day, and the USA Sustainability Council fundraiser

I recently heard back from Bob Haskins, the coordinator of Keep Mobile Beautiful. He informed me of a number of improvements KMB is heading for creating a more eco-friendly Mobile.

The current situation for recycling programs in Mobile is as follows (this was taken directly from his words):

The city currently operates the Metro Recycling Center located at 1451 Government Street. It is open and manned from 8 – 5 seven days a week. We celebrated our 10th anniversary this year. Last year, the center diverted 3,340,599 pounds from our landfill and saved the city $48,616 in collection and disposal costs.

The City’s curbside paper recycling is a partnership with Recycled Fibers. Recycled Fibers sponsors the program at no cost to the City of Mobile or the 14,000 residents they serve. Recycled Fibers also sponsors a Paper Recycling Drop Box program at about 150 locations throughout the Mobile area. A map and a list of those locations are on the city web-site at You may go to quick links and click on the recycling center, then on the paper drop box link.

Recycled Fibers also supports a paper recycling program in Government Plaza which allows employees to recycle all of the paper moving through the plaza. Many other city offices in outlying locations have recycling programs for multiple materials.

Earth Resources (666-4482) provides a full service curbside program for a small monthly fee. Both Recycled Fibers and Earth Resources are working to expand their programs to serve more citizens.

KMB also loans wire recycling baskets for special events such as block parties, city sponsored events and any events where bottles and cans can be collected for recycling.

We also promote recycling in schools and businessses through our outreach program.

Though there are currently no plans for a citywide curbside recycling system (due to costs far outweighing the benefits, as Mayor Jones said), instead the main item on their agenda is to buy the current recycling site and lobby for funding from the city toward building a new site in West Mobile. Evidently this has been on their plate for some time.

Their plans for Earth Day, FYI, will be a celebration at the center on April 22 from 9 - 4. Booths by various businesses will be set up and they will have refreshments for recyclers.

If you have any questions or comments for Mr. Haskins or Keep Mobile Beautiful, you can reach him at his email address:

In other news, while we're on the subject of Earth Day (and while I love plugging random student projects for my alma mater), come down to Carpe Diem Coffee & Tea Co. on Old Shell Road anytime between 3-8pm and help support the University of South Alabama's SGA Sustainability Council!

Part of the proceeds will go directly to the council which will in turn be used entirely for the purpose of making South sustainable, championing recycling, energy conservation and environmental education. Members of the council will be helping make drinks.

Any questions, e-mail Meghan Gable (President) at or Cassie Fambro (VP) at

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Webinar questions & answers

Here's the link for the working archive for the Mobile Webinar. Log in and click on "Play Archived Webcast."

As for my specific questions, I asked three questions throughout the course of the Webinar:

"Are there any green initiatives coming up for Mobile in the near future? If so, what are they?"

"What specific improvements are being made in our recycling programs?"

"How will natural resources be preserved under the new 10-year plan? Will this include historic parks and other natural landscapes?"

That last question refers to the plan included on the link.

For the green initiatives question, Mayor Jones responded: "We have an Urban Forestry Department that basically works with various [projects]: planting trees, we do a lot of work in terms of green areas in the city -- especially those that belong to the city -- and it's something we take very dearly here in Mobile -- how we handle green areas and how we maintain green areas -- and that's one of the reasons we take on the initiatives (building parks on vacant properties that the city owns in various locations). We have ones starting here in the near future, and we have some others we have targeted."

Another person emailed with a similar question to my recycling one, so here is their question and Mayor Jones' response:

"Is there a city-wide, or better yet a county-wide way to easily recycle our garbage? What is going on in Mobile to make it a greener city?"

Mayor Jones responded: "There are some recycling programs ongoing in Mobile, and there have been many other programs ongoing. Some of the vendors who do recycle have stopped doing that now because the goods that they recycle -- they benefit from it -- well, the cost outweighs the benefit from it, and we have seen some of that in the past. But there are still some recycling programs in certain areas where those programs have worked."

Also, another person asked a similar question: "Other cities provide many recycling centers at fire stations and public schools. We have a need for more recycling centers. Why can't Keep Mobile Beautiful and other places be used for recycling more?"

Mayor Jones responded: "Keep Mobile Beautiful has been looking for another recycling location for the western sector of the city, and continues to look at that, and that is something that we want to do. We agree that we do need another site, and that is something that we have targeted to do in the future."

Mayor Jones responded to my question about natural resources being preserved in the 10-year plan: "We have a lot of different prohibitions on what we can and cannot do. A lot of that is based on local ordinances, state law, so -- I don't think you'll see the plan in any way destroying any natural resources."

He responded to my specific question about recycling right after: "We would have to get Mr. Haskins to answer that directly. We'll get his e-mail to him."

And that concludes the Webinar questions & answers.

However successful, there were some problems I experienced with my word getting out there. For example, since we were dealing with a high volume of emails and questions needing to be answered, Mayor Jones' answers had to be as candid as possible and with as little information in order to further expedite the situation. I understand this. However, this does not mean the work is done.

The questions about Keep Mobile Beautiful and the recycling programs were very important, appropriate topics for the city, and entailed very important, detailed responses.

Thus, I'll come back in a few days after having spoken to some of these groups directly on specific improvements.

Details on the Webinar, Earth Day 2009, and more!

The Mobile Webinar was a huge success. I and many others tuned in and asked some important questions which garnered decidedly candid answers -- though some were more informative than others.

Unfortunately, I was given the latter of these categories for most of the project. I'll post a transcript of the questions and answers in a later post. Needless to say, I know Mayor Jones is trying his best to fulfill everyone's needs, and there were some far more complicated subjects discussed than I'd anticipated; some which required lengthy explanation and extensive background research. It'll happen. These people of Mobile want their answers, and they came to the mayor in droves to get them. In that light, it was rather uplifting to see such support for the project.

I know this means there will be many more to come, so be sure to stay updated on the City of Mobile Web site (which has a new look!).

In other news, we're less than a week away from Earth Day 2009! If you're in Fairhope or are planning on making a trip sometime soon, they're hosting the annual Earth Day Mobile Bay on April 25, 2009:

(Note the date. Earth Day is officially on April 22.)

Check out any of the cool environmental links on this site for interesting information regarding Earth Day, going green, energy conservation, and more.

What's especially interesting is's "Screw Earth Day" contest. Between now and April 23, they're giving everyone the chance to win both a free download of their book Wake Up and Smell the Planet and the chance to win tickets and airfare for two to the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival just by signing up for their free service! And I did download the book, incidentally, it becomes available for you immediately after you register!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Participate in the City of Mobile "Webinar!"

Mayor Sam Jones is hosting a live online "webinar" this Friday during which online users from all over Mobile (or, rather, all over the Web) can hear his ideas about city issues. Visit the link below to read about it and register.

Yours truly plans to ask some good questions to our mayor about his plan to improve Mobile's environmental goals. Apparently, as part of a 10-year plan to revitalize Mobile, we are expected to receive an electric "trolley" system in heavy downtown areas. This is what it said, anyway. We'll see how that goes. There's also an illustration of a traffic circle, as though it's a definite possibility. I know how ravenous Mobilians get when they see those "French" things.

Link to the Webinar article. Click here!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

All the way from Tibet!

I began reading a book by His Holiness the Dalai Lama over the holidays. It's about science and spirituality, and it includes certain aspects of living responsibly with our environment. I found his Web site and emailed him to ask him to explain his ideas a little better, and asked if we could ever truly achieve the "oneness with Nature" he hopes for.

His assistant Wangdue just wrote back this morning:

Dear Matt,

Thank you for your thoughtful mail. His Holiness also takes bath without using soap in order to save water for others' use.I think it is possible for us to achieve a state of equilibrium with nature, if each individual of this world contribute to save the limited resources we have and take initiative to recycle the resources we have already used.

Kind regards,

Sincerely yours,
Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Too cool! You gotta love the Internet. You can chat with important figures across the world, and learn so much.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Go green for Valentine's Day!

I'm not a huge fan of celebrating Valentine's Day -- due to a mix of my being single, plus the fact that, along with Christmas, people feel pressured to do things they could do on any other day -- but I am a huge fan of green ideas. Especially when said ideas just take a little thought and no money.

And so, I present:'s Green Valentine Gift Guide. Granted, some of these ideas require buying a gift (i.e. the organic, fair-trade coffee beans; the chocolate gift box set; the bath & beauty oils; etc.), but some simply require a little bit of thought (the idea of a romantic bath; the picnic outdoors; the make-shift recycled-scrap card; etc.).

So take your pick and decide for yourself. It's not a bad mix, really, and some of these things I wouldn't mind supporting monetarily (who doesn't want to donate to an animal shelter? seriously!).

While you're there, be sure to check out the rest of the site. It's run by The Discovery Network, so it's as reliable a site as any.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Green running articles

I have my foot in two camps here on Blogger (sorry for the bad pun): I'm also writing a blog about training for the Dublin Marathon this October (here). I, like many others before and after me, consider running as a way to have fun and remain physically fit.

So when someone like me -- one who invests an interest in both things green and things running -- finds a whole section of articles on Runner's World's Web site about trimming your eco-footprint, or recycling old shoes, or scientific studies about running's impact on the environment -- well, that just sounded novel enough to give a look.

Now you can find out where the top 10 greenest races are in the world (apparently Austin, TX?), or the annual carbon impact of an average runner. 

But some of the things they refer to in the list aren't necessarily devoted solely to running. Whether you're a runner or not, we all wear shoes. Why not recycle them when you've moved on? If you organize events that need registration forms, why not cut the paper out of the equation and use some form of e-registration?

It's neat how the idea of being more eco-friendly tends to start these "organic" brainstorms.

And I swear, that's the last of the bad puns from me today.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

While we're at it...

The group I mentioned below, Keep Mobile Beautiful, is the premiere authority on eco-awareness in Mobile. Their website is rather empty, but you can find all the important city recycling information here.

Recycling in Mobile

Recycling has become one of those issues where, if local governments don't get it right, the private sector eventually will. It may take a lot of money and a lot of support on behalf of the surrounding communities, but the idea of recycling has ramped up to the point where cities have embraced it as a way of life.

I wholeheartedly believe Mobile's no exception to that fact. The city itself doesn't give much back by way of recycling -- sure, there's the main recycling center on Government St. near Ann, but the city doesn't provide a means for people to transport their materials. God forbid someone from West Mobile should have to recycle.

Private groups throughout Mobile, however, have taken a stand on this issue, and it may be working. Over the last decade groups in the mainstream have been gaining more press coverage (see the latest Lagniappe issues and archives from the Press-Register to get a sense), and the popularity of recycling has reached many thousands of homes in the metropolitan area. There are even new paper recycling bins all around the city, thanks to local environmental group Keep Mobile Beautiful.

But Mobile's size has also grown considerably over the last decade, and along with the rest of the United States, businesses in Mobile are not immune to the harsh effects our economy is taking on everyone’s wallets. Private-sector groups lose funding after people stop investing in their services.

Adding insult to injury, the green sector hasn't seen very good business in Mobile. The nation’s crushing economic situation has put a lot of local businesses wary of any ventures that won’t immediately produce strong profits. It’s enough to make any young enterprising green-lover shy away from the idea entirely!

Some people are fighting the urge to go out quietly into the good night. Such is the way with a lot of local groups like Earth Resources, Mobile's only curbside recycling program. According to co-owner Frank Modarelli, the program has been operating at a loss since its conception 15 years ago -- in order to keep fees low and to encourage participation on behalf of the community.

“I got into this because I am a recycling advocate and was irritated that there wasn't more going on when I moved back here,” he told me. “It would be nice to make modest living off what I do, but I will be satisfied if I can at least feel like I have moved recycling forward in Mobile.”

Now, after having joined forces with fellow environmental group Keep Mobile Beautiful, they have spread their pickup routes to over 10,000 homes in the West Mobile and Spring Hill areas and over 35 area businesses. Hoping that their crushing financial situation would garner more public support -- and thus, a longer-lasting, positive impact on the community -- they've been looking to promote themselves through corporate sponsorships.

As a follow-up to this entry I plan to speak with Frank personally and find out more, and perhaps do some research on brainstorming the logistics of this issue. There is still a lot of work ahead, but it can be done!

In the meantime, you can find out all about their business and services here. View their services and see if they’re available for pick-up in your area. If not, let Frank and the others know you want to invest in their services. I’m more than certain they’ll accommodate your area.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Hello, everyone in Cyberland.

I'm starting this blog as a method for me to jot down green news and research happening in my hometown of Mobile, Alabama. I must admit, I'm particularly new to the blog scene, but the idea to start this blog came from a combined effort between my own frustrations with the local news job market (newspaper media and otherwise), and the lack of a green publication/news source in Mobile.

The Port City has long been known as the most rapidly-growing city in the state of Alabama, yet it's been lagging in the eco-friendly ranks in terms of the United States at large.

With this blog I hope to produce some evidence of Mobile's green conscience and, hopefully, send the message that we care as much about our environment as we do about our lovely city. Efforts along the Alabama Gulf Coast play an important role in conservation, not to mention the environmental research conducted by Mobile scientists on sea animals' habitats in Mobile Bay and drinking water content, to name just a few examples. There's also more domestic responsibilities I would like to see Mobile undertake: gaining a cost-efficient, accessible system for recycling in Mobile; switching to energy-efficient streetlamps and traffic lights; powering all public transit on fuels that use less (if not zero) carbon; the list goes on.

I may start out slow, as I'm only beginning to gather content, but I aim to update this blog as often as 2-3 times per week, so stay in touch!