Rethinking Reusable Containers and Packaging Waste
Apr 10, 2020 by Julia L F Goldstein
My reusable Starbucks cups sit in a cabinet in my kitchen gathering dust. Yes, I could go to a drive-through at Starbucks and show the barista one of the cups to save ten cents on the cost of a latte. The barista would then hand me my drink in a disposable cup. But I see no point in flashing my decorative cup. My habit of bringing reusable cups has nothing to do with the discount.
Three Takes on Materials and Sustainability
Nov 01, 2019 by Julia L F Goldstein
In October, I had the opportunity to speak to three very different audiences: 1) semiconductor packaging industry executives and engineers; 2) members of a synagogue who are part of the congregation's "green team"; 3) university students enrolled in an environmental health seminar.
Summer in Walla Walla
Sep 16, 2019 by Julia L F Goldstein
LEED Certification is an admirable goal in designing a new building. Certified buildings are energy-efficient, incorporate water-saving features, and meet a vast array of requirements. But LEED is also supposed to consider the comfort of those who are going to live and work in the building.
Glass, Plastic, or Aluminum?
Jul 07, 2019 by Julia L F Goldstein
Spotted on the road: a Coca-Cola truck emblazoned with an image of the product in a glass bottle and these words: “Enjoy the Coke, recycle the bottle.” But what happens to these bottles when someone turns them in?
Plastic Packaging and Dental Floss
Jun 20, 2019 by Julia L F Goldstein
I bought vegan dental floss recently. Don’t laugh, that’s what it says on the package. You might be thinking that dental floss doesn’t usually have animal products in it, so what’s the deal with vegan floss? Here’s the story.
What's in Your Backpack?
May 17, 2019 by Julia L F Goldstein
It’s Thursday morning and I’m on the bus heading to a business meeting. I’m making good on the promise I made to take public transit more frequently, something I best appreciate when I can avoid the hassle of traffic and parking near downtown Seattle. Also, I can’t write a blog post while driving. My backpack is stuffed with everything I’ll need for a busy day traveling around Puget Sound by bus, ferry, and on foot.
Wash Before Wearing
May 05, 2019 by Julia L F Goldstein
You probably own clothing with a tag that reads, “wash before wearing.” There’s a good reason for this. In some cases, the dyes in clothing need to be washed away sufficiently that your jeans won’t stain your skin. In other cases, the fabric is coated with a finish that wicks moisture, repels water, or makes the clothing last longer. Unfortunately, many finishes cause irritation or allergic reactions or, even more worrisome, contain toxic chemicals linked to serious health problems.
Hawaii: Land of Lava and Bioplastic Cups
Apr 10, 2019 by Julia L F Goldstein
I recently returned from a week in Hawaii, where I traveled to the Big Island to compete in the Lavaman Olympic distance triathlon. I posted a race report on Facebook, but that's not what I want to discuss. I want to talk about Hawaii's approach to environmentally friendly products and packaging.
Surfing, E-waste, and the 2020 Olympics
Mar 04, 2019 by Julia L F Goldstein
Did you know that the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo are going to feature surfing as one of the sports? I learned this fact by talking with another member of The Riveter, the co-working space where I have a desk. He recently moved into the space and had heard that I write website content, so he wanted to chat. One of the things I love about co-working is the opportunity to engage in intelligent conversations during a brief break from writing. Many writers are introverts, but I get my energy from interacting with people, so co-working is a great fit.
Silicon or Silicone? One Letter Makes All the Difference
Nov 11, 2018 by Julia L F Goldstein
It amazes me that many educated people do not know the difference between silicon and silicone. I received an email that described a new type of windshield wiper blade supposedly made from silicon. I knew that couldn’t be right. The very idea made me think of fingernails on a chalkboard!
Peanut Butter, Donuts, and Forests
Jul 06, 2018 by Julia L F Goldstein
I like peanut butter. It’s delicious on toast and makes for a healthy snack. I often buy the varieties that contain only peanuts and salt to avoid added sugars. The labels say, “oil separation is natural.” Just because oil separation is natural, though, doesn’t mean that it’s not annoying. Those natural peanuts butters take a lot of stirring to mix in the oil. If you don’t stir all the way to the bottom when you first open the jar, then it will be nearly impossible to spoon out the last of the refrigerated peanut butter at the bottom.
One Bag, Two Bag, Green Bag, Blue Bag
May 06, 2018 by Julia L F Goldstein
I went grocery shopping at PCC Market (a Seattle-based co-op grocery chain) this morning and noticed blue plastic bags in the produce section. A closer look at the bags informed me that they are made from “100% Post Industrial Recycled Resin.” I supposed we are in the post-industrial age, so perhaps that is appropriate. Grammar issues aside, I understand that the bags are made from plastics that were used in some industrial process and have now been recycled into a form suitable for carrying fruits and vegetables.
Searching for Greener Materials
Apr 07, 2018 by Julia L F Goldstein
For a materials geek like me, the best part of the GoGreen conference in Seattle on April 4 was walking around the exhibit hall and talking to the people working the booths. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed hearing from local mayors about what their cities are doing. I’m encouraged by efforts of brands, from family-owned businesses to large corporations, that are taking a stand on politically-charged positions. When it comes to the role of materials in environmental sustainability, though, the exhibit hall was the place to be.
Plastic Bags: To Ban or Not To Ban
Oct 21, 2017 by Julia L F Goldstein
It started with an announcement on the social networking site NextDoor: “Please join us for a meeting with the Director of Zero Waste Management…to discuss how to go about banning plastic grocery bags in Redmond.” Most posts on NextDoor generate a handful of replies. Some popular ones generate twenty. This post unleashed a torrent of discussion: 136 replies from 49 neighbors in my city.The initial replies simply said, “No thanks” and “Please don’t,” but the discussion soon became much more intense. To my neighbors’ credit, nearly everyone was reasonably polite while expressing their views, some of which were based on facts and some of which were opinions that didn’t necessarily mesh with the facts.With the flood of information swirling around...