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!