Author: Laura B.

I'm the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center's Sustainability Information Curator, which is a fancy way of saying embedded librarian. I'm also Executive Director of the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable. When not writing for Environmental News Bits, I'm an avid reader. Visit Laura's Reads to see what I'm currently reading.

‘Conscious Consumer’ talk promotes business sustainability

Read the full story from the Massachusetts Daily Collegian.

Even the flyer for the event had a reminder written: “PLEASE RECYCLE ME!”

That flyer was for “The Conscious Consumer,” a talk given Monday night at the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts. The event featured two speakers, including Alex Freid, a University of New Hampshire graduate, and Cynthia Barstow, a marketing professor at UMass. Both are founders of movements that promote environmentally sustainable business practices.

Both speakers aim to end “corporate greenwashing,” which occurs when a company claims to be environmentally ethical but actually is not. Freid and Barstow criticized the lack of transparency of certain big businesses as it relates to environmental stability.

How to Trace Federal Regulations – A Research Guide

Read the full post at the Library of Congress’ In Custodia Legis.

Our patrons at the Law Library of Congress frequently ask us for assistance in investigating the origins and statutory authority of federal rules and regulations.  And no wonder–regulations are important to understand, because they have the force and effect of law just as federal statutes do, though they are not issued by Congress.  Instead, rules and regulations are created by a federal body such as an agency, board, or commission, and explain how that body intends to carry out or administer a federal law.  In fact, these rules and regulations can often affect our everyday lives even more directly than statutes, by laying out the details of how we go about following the laws passed by Congress. This Research Guide will address the basics of how to “trace” a federal regulation, in order to not only derive its statutory authority, but also to learn more about its origins and history.

Heading for zero

Read the full story from DC Velocity.

Ace Hardware worked with its waste and recycling contractor to get one DC to the point where it ships nothing to a landfill. A second DC is close behind. And that’s only a part of the hardware cooperative’s sustainability efforts.

ACEEE – SEE Action Webinar: Long-Run Savings and Cost-Effectiveness of Home Energy Reports Programs

Wed, Dec 3, 2014 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM CST
Register at

Home energy report programs have become a cornerstone of many utilities’ energy efficiency portfolios. Millions of utility customers receive these reports, and HER programs typically result in electricity savings of between 1.5 percent and 2.5 percent. Now that utility home energy report programs have begun to mature, we can begin to assess savings over the longer term. Cadmus will report on long-run savings from home energy report programs, examines the persistence of savings after utilities stop sending reports, and determines how persistence of savings affects HER measure-life and cost-effectiveness calculations.

How to Start a Bike Kitchen

Read the full post at Shareable.

A bike kitchen is a place for people to repair their bikes, learn safe cycling, make bicycling more accessible, build community, and support sustainable transportation by getting more people on bikes. Most bike kitchens have tools, parts, mechanics, and a community of knowledgeable cyclists.

Around the world there are thousands of bike kitchens — also known as bike churches, bike collectives and bike coops — and more popping up all the time (see maps here). For those interested in starting a bike kitchen in your town, we’ve rounded up the essentials of getting started, from finding the right space and volunteers, to raising money, getting the word out, defining community guidelines, and creating a space that is accessible and welcoming to all.

Is Sharing Good for the Environment? It Depends.

Read the full post at Shareable.

With the rise of the sharing economy, people are sharing cars, houses, sports equipment, clothing, toys, meals, surfboards and much more. There’s an intuition among sharers that sharing is not only good for the pocketbook, it’s good for the planet. The thinking goes that sharing helps us reduce consumption and keep usable goods out of landfills.

A recent report, The Sharing Economy: Make It Sustainable, by Damien Demailly at the Paris-based Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), and journalist Anne-Sophie Novel, goes beyond this intuition and answers the question, Is the sharing economy a tool for environmental transformation?

To find out, researchers conducted interviews, reviewed existing research, and hosted a workshop with 40 people from different parts of the sharing economy including big companies, startups, and the governmental. The goal was to analyze the environmental potential of the sharing economy, and the conditions for the realization of this potential.

What they found, not surprisingly, is that the economic and environmental potential is substantial. If sharing models could be operated under the most favourable conditions, savings of up to 7 percent of the household budget and 20 percent of waste could be achieved.

5 Sharing Alternatives to Black Friday

Read the full post at Shareable. I’d add Donate to their list. Choose to give your time or money to organizations that make your community a better place to live.

Thanksgiving, a day of celebration and gratitude for both harvest and family, is frequently overshadowed by its consumerist big brother, the notorious Black Friday. In 2013, consumers spent a whopping $57 billion on that day alone, with the average consumer spending over $400. 2014 is predicted to be just as spendy, with 67 million people expected to brave the long lines in search of deep discounts.

And for what? Stores offer deals on the usual: cheaply made clothing, resource-stripping electronics, trendy toys. For some, Black Friday heralds the beginning of the consumption-heavy holiday shopping season; for others, it heralds a headache.

If you’re feeling a distaste in your mouth for this extravagant post-holiday spree, here are five sharing alternatives to the Black Friday madness.