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Archives for January 2011

The Choctaw Nation to use Wind Power

Chief Pyle signs a wind power contract with OG&E

The Choctaw Nation will be moving to 100 percent wind power for all of it’s office buildings in Durant starting later this year. They signed a contract with Oklahoma Gas and Electric (OG&E) last year agreeing to spend $15,000 more each year to purchase wind power credits. Assistant Chief Gary Batton said of the increased cost, “We’re investing in the protection of our future and our resources and that’s something you can’t put a price tag on.”

Currently OG&E gets most of it’s energy from coal power plants, which are responsible for about one-quarter of the worlds total carbon dioxide emissions. However, with the addition of two wind farms in northwestern Oklahoma OG&E is able to offer wind credits to consumers. With these credits OG&E customers can help support wind power in Oklahoma. OG&E and the Choctaw Nation estimate their purchase of wind power credits will help offset 1,080 tons of c02 emissions annually.

The Choctaw Nation’s commitment to environment doesn’t stop with switching to wind power. They are also reducing their energy needs by doing things like using more energy efficient lighting, reducing the amount of lighting and new energy efficient windows at the Administration Building in Durant.

“I see recycle bins in our offices, our community centers and our businesses. I also see a very important change in everyone’s day-to-day habits. They are becoming conscientious not only at work but also at home. Every effort, no matter how small, will make a difference,” says Chief Pyle about the changes he is seeing in the Choctaw Nation employees.

The Choctaw Nation is making a real commitment to helping the environment. You can find out more about the changes they are making on the Choctaw Nation’s website.

Photo Credit: Choctaw Nation

Trap the Grease Oklahoma!

Did you know that when fatty and greasy foods are washed down the drain, the fat and grease in the food can build up in the sewer lines, just like in your arteries?

As fat and grease builds up, it create blockages and cause raw sewage back out of the sewer system. Raw sewage can end up in people’s homes, backyards, businesses, and our waterways creating environmental and public health hazards.
High levels of harmful bacteria and other pollutants can make some Oklahoma rivers, lakes, and streams unusable for swimming, boating, or fishing.
Fats, Oils, and Grease, aka FOG, isn’t a well known environmental issue, but it is an issue in which everyone contributes. Most people think, “I don’t cook bacon or fry anything, so it’s not my problem”. Well…the problem isn’t just bacon grease or fried foods; it’s anything with a fat content like: ranch dressing, alfredo sauce, olive oil, and even ice cream.
The city of Tulsa encourage residents to follow these simple steps to keep fats, oils, and grease out of the sewer system.

Tips for Taking Care of Grease

  1. Collect meat drippings in a sealable container and dispose of in the trash.
  2. Scrape any leftover food scraps into the compost or trash; limit the use of your garbage disposal.
  3. Before washing, wipe grease residues like oily or creamy sauces from utensils, plates, pots, and pans into the trash.
  4. If available, like in Tulsa, recycle all waste liquid cooking or frying oils at a recycling station.

Remember, the sewer system needs a no-fat diet. Prevent costly plumbing problems and protect our waterways- Trap the Grease Oklahoma! For more information on visit: www.TraptheGreaseTulsa.com


About the Author

Kristi Shreve is an environmental compliance specialist with the City of Tulsa’s Public Works department that specializes in pollution prevention practices for wastewater issues.

Sooners Going Green

The University of Oklahoma (OU) has been working to make the campus greener and it’s paying off. OU has seen a 13% reduction in waste in fiscal year 2009. They recycled 932.55 tons, which was a 20% increase of recycled goods from fiscal year 2008.

OU is doing more than just recycling, they have much bigger projects as well. One of their larger projects is a green roof on the National Weather Center’s sixth-floor outdoor classroom. The project comprises of 1,280 square feet of space and 160 planted green roof trays. These trays are made of lightweight sand, clay, and organic material, this mix is about a third of the weight of regular topsoil. The project will remain on the Nation Weather Center roof for up to three years and then will be moved to a permanent location.

Another large project for OU is their switch to wind power. They signed an agreement with Oklahoma Gas & Electric Company (OG&E) to purchase 100% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2013. OG&E has been working on a new 101 megawatt wind farm that is called ‘OU Spirit.’ It will feature 44 turbines and produce enough power for around 25,000 homes.

OU is also working on many other smaller, but just as important, projects to help the school on it’s way to being more eco-friendly. Just a few of these great projects include, use of natural citrus acid bathroom cleaners, dye, fragrance and phosphate free glass cleaner, and other more natural cleaners.

They are also reducing energy with things like occupancy sensors for office lighting and motion sensors for vending machines. And in the restaurants you will find things like organic fair-trade coffee, locally produced cheese, local produce, and organic beef.

OU is helping lead the way in greener universities and is something for Oklahomans to be proud of. You can learn more about OU’s green projects on their website Crimson and Green.


Takeout Without the Waste

It takes approximately 20 seconds to put our food into take out containers. Convenient? No, actually extremely inconvenient. The packaging can remain in our landfills forever, causing continued damage to us and our world. The American population tosses out enough paper bags and plastic cups, forks and spoons every year to circle the equator 300 times. Wouldn’t it be better to fill our stomachs and not our landfills?

Since restaurants add so much to our waste-line (read as waist-line too!), and we frequent them regularly, help your restaurant help you reduce your waste (and it will be great for all of us too!).

Here are 10 easy things for restaurants to do that will, in the end, be great for our health, wallet and the world!

10 Easy Ways to Reduce Takeout Waste

  1. Join TakeOutWithOut the campaign to reduce restaurant waste. It’s free, helpful and will fill you up with some great ideas and free downloads
  2. Use reusables instead of disposables for everything possible. That’s your job – yes, people might stare, but remember, you are a trendsetter and it’ll soon catch on – just like reusable water bottles have over the past years.
  3. Encourage restaurants to use compostable, safe options for their required disposables. We get that restaurants don’t want to give takeout patrons a cloth napkin, but no need for them to use virgin paper all bleached and processed.
  4. Reduce the amount of packaging to what is only absolutely necessary. No double bagging please. If you aren’t going to use them, don’t take a handful of ketchup packets, soy sauces, straws or cutlery. Supply and demand. If you are taking your takeout meal home, we’re hoping you have cutlery there.
  5. Suggest they sell smart & safe solutions (reusables) such as bottles, containers, straws, bags, etc. Imagine seeing an amazing container or a reusable bag, it might inspire you. You may buy one or more. The restaurant will make money while encouraging new habits and creating awareness. If they offer an incentive to keep bringing the container back, you’ll be a more loyal customer. The restaurant will have less of a need for disposables, saving them money, and saving our precious resources. Win, win win!
  6. Encourage them to incent their customers to bring/use reusables by offering a discount or something for free (they should be able to afford it – see #5 above). Who doesn’t love getting supersized? Wouldn’t you bring your own mug if you were getting more? Or bring your own bag if you were able to get something for free because of it?
  7. Recycle and compost on site. This is an easy one. In Toronto, we are already sorting everything at home into compost, recycling and garbage. It should be happening everywhere else in the city also.
  8. Suggest donating surplus food to a community meal service or directly to those in need. Random acts of kindness rock our world!
  9. Applaud them! Change comes from without. Tell them how great they are and send customers their way because of all the good they are doing.
  10. Let them know to pass this on to others and encourage them to be TOWO champions. They will want to inspire others just like you’ve inspired them!

Together we can change the outrageous amount of unnecessary waste we create everyday as well as drastically reduce it. Don’t’ forget, we are the customers, and aren’t we always right? Your power lies in your wallet and your voice matters. That’s got to be worth trying for!


About the Author
Lisa Borden is an eco-advocate and mother of three, whose business is a direct reflection of her commitment to better, more responsible living. She is a dedicated workaholic, admitting that it takes a lot of time and effort to change the world, especially in her non-preachy, fun, engaging and inspiring ways. Lisa consults, writes, engages the media, runs private workshops, and enjoys speaking to large and small groups. Her full-service marketing firm, Borden Communications + Design Inc. is based in Toronto, Canada and takes great pride in being an ethical business providing exceptional ideas.