Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Is once really enough???

What the heck am I talking about? 

I got a plastic box to go with my food at the market the other day.  It's not as if I can just have brought my own box in this case as I am in the habit of doing when I want to take out, because it was at the deli counter to go.  When I got in the car and I looked at the clear plastic clamshell I noticed it had been made from water bottles.

Now please don't get me wrong and start writing me about how it's still a good thing etc.  I agree and think everything we do towards the end goal and toward awareness will bring more people and actions into the fold.  But my questions asks, "Is once really enough?"  What happens to it after it gets eaten this time?  It wasn't messy food, just some carbohydrates and bread products.  So why can't you and I make sure it gets recycled again? and again, and so on.

I am really set on this subject because it continues to come down to the same point each time.  Education and Separation.  Learning how to place the right products in the correct place for disposal, reuse and recycling or composting.  Not filling up the landfills now or in the future with so much stuff.  Organic waste for one.

When I go around and speak to owners of restaurants, (which I do each and every week), pushing compostable products and paper straws, so many of them are unfamiliar with what it takes to compost their organic waste.  (If you've ever noticed how much excess food some restaurants throw away it's astounding.)  My goal and duty is to share the ways with them and you of how we can all understand and achieve this goal, simply.

A daunting task at best. 

Tune in and subscribe to my weekly podcast Trash Talk Radio at each Friday evening beginning Feb.1st

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Straws are pretty boring

I was talking to someone I really care about yesterday. I've known her a while, and she's inspired me to do some great and memorable things throughout our acquaintance.) But when I was speaking to her the other day about straws, she said something that, at first, really irked me and kind of hit home in a way I hadn't really thought of before. She said "straws are boring" and dealing with straws and compostable products was "one of the most boring things she could think of doing".  (Having someone tell you that your chosen business is "boring" is tough to hear. Especially from someone who's opinion you value and who you hope also finds you as a person interesting and compelling.) Of course, many millions have been made from businesses like Scotch tape, which is not exactly what I would consider exciting, but extremely useful.

So that got me thinking about my new show, Trash Talk Radio, beginning Feb. 1), and the fact that the straws and the entire subject matter is probably a lot more interesting to me than it is to most people. I hadn't really thought of it that way before. (I guess one of my worst attributes is that I think things that are important to me are also important to everyone.) I'm certainly glad I figured this out before air. Thanks F.

So, the question is , "Is it important for people to care about this subject?" (Which I think it definitely is.) But also how do I make it more interesting and pertinent to their lives? How to help people, especially those of the younger generation, rally behind that concept and make these practices into habits.

Afterall, my overall goal is not just to sell straws and get everybody to use compostable products. It's a lot more detailed and important and encompassing than that. It's about getting everybody on the same page so that we can lower our carbon footprint and take organic matter out of the landfills and put it back into the environment in a productive way.

So looking at this from psychological and marketing points of view, what's the best way to inspire people? Use of widespread and repeated messages has proven to educate young and old. So the idea would be to get the word out through schools and restaurants and other public places for people to understand the deeper message. Educate and instigate us all about how to handle the trash that we throw away everyday in the most efficient and ecologically sound manner.

People care about many different things. Their children, friends. pets, the environment, their personal happiness and fulfillment,  the health and welfare of their future families. I'd like to know what motivates you?

Although using compostable, single-use products is only one small portion of the way this is going to get done, I believe it's a very good and important first step due to the large number of restaurants all over the country and world that supply them. Along with the new anti-straw laws passed by various municipalities, and new local laws against single use take out containers and bags, it's a good and repeatable trend that I'm proud has started in the US and around the world in recent years.

Please follow this blog for weekly updates and download our show, Trash Talk Radio, found on your browsers,  podcast services, and link through our website  each week, as we interview guests and welcome your input as to how you are dealing with and helping towards a solution of a cleaner environment.

Thanks F for inspiring me once again. X

Friday, February 17, 2017

Why current recycling programs don't work very efficiently.

I believe there are several reasons that our current system of composting, recycling, and garbage disposal is not efficient or helpful to either the environment or the consumers. The serious lack of information and the lack of disposal bins are, in my opinion, the first major concern that we need to deal with in this area.  I live in Central California. I notice that at even in this most progressive of climates, that in most of the places I eat or shop, there often is no recycle bin and almost never is there a compost bin.

Consumers are forced to throw plastic and paper products that could easily be recycled and reused into the trash which ends up in the landfill or ocean. Even in the case where are there are a majority of items that may be able to be reused or recycled, very rarely do we find a recycling bin nearby to the trash can.  It makes it very inconvenient for people to have to carry around these trash items either in their car or on their person until they find a recycling bin to throw them in. So it doesn't happen. So first off we need to make sure there are going to be the proper disposal bins available in the restaurants and businesses that we frequent and on the streets and public areas that we traverse.

Secondly, education is seriously lacking in these areas. How do we know what we should recycle or compost versus throw in the trash can? Often times it's very confusing. Items like food containers or pizza boxes that still have food remnants on them are not usually suitable for the recycle bin. So they are tossed in the trash. They also are not suitable for the compost bin because the products they are made of are either plastic or non-compostable in some way.

The solution to this has several angles.  First, as mentioned in my last blog, we really need to work harder to educate everybody.  We should tell the owners and employees of the businesses and restaurants that we patronize that we care to ask what products are made from and where they're sourced and that if they don't begin to change the way they cook their food and package their food we are not coming back in favor of restaurants and businesses who do things in a more socially responsible way.

Secondly we need them to begin using 100% compostable products for their to-go orders. By using these types of products all trash whether it has food on it, or not, can go in either the recycling bin or the compost bin or the trash pile and it will dissolve back into the soil. While seemingly much more expensive,  (usually they're a bit more expensive), the prices for these items are close enough for businesses to make this change without hurting their bottom line too much. (It is a proven statistic that customers will come back more often to restaurants who act in a socially responsible way and promote it.)  If businesses combine the correct products with other certain practices that will help reduce waste as well, this is a winning combination for everyone. 

For instance, asking people if they would like a straw. I am often eating out and if I forget to tell the server or the bartender that I don't want a straw, I will typically end up with at least three or four straws in the course of a meal that I don't use. They put them in the water each time I asked for it and I don't want it. They put it in my drink of whatever I ordered each time I asked for it, and I don't want it. 

Now here's a statistic that will blow your mind. There are over 500 million disposable straws used every day in the United States alone,  and most of those wind up in the landfill or the ocean because they're not compostable!

Hundreds of other items like mini detergent balls found in many detergent products wind up in the ocean and are then eaten by fish, which are then eaten by bigger fish which are then eaten by humans. Not only are we polluting the oceans with trash and chemicals, but we're also polluting ourselves and our food supply.

So the next time you go to buy something, whether it's food or some products our families use in their daily lives, maybe we can start asking where these products came from,  how they were manufactured,  and what chemicals or items are used in their manufacture and are in the products themselves.

We can ask how are they packaged? Is it overkill or is it done responsibly? By starting to ask these types of questions we make it known that we care and that it's OK to ask.  This will help our Earth and help us to lead healthier and happier lives for ourselves and our children. We must begin to reverse the damage we have done to the Earth and curtail our waste and use of non eco-friendly products.

3 Green Things, the title of this blog, refers to each of us trying to pick 3 things to start with to be more sustainable in our daily lives. The reason I chose 3 things is because there are so many products we currently use and habits that we can change and adjust, that one didn't seem enough. I believe that if we just choose certain things to start thinking more responsibly about, like recycling number one, or our water usage number two, or the products that we use and the trash that we create number 3, that would be an excellent start for all of us to be able to contribute in the way we all should towards a better world for everyone.

So the next time you go out, ask yourself, do you really need that straw?

In conclusion, placing the burden of trash separation on the consumer is unfair and implausible.  It just doesn't work well. We all need to do our part as business owners and consumers, to really affect a change.

Please subscribe for weekly updates and product recommendations from Howard and Green is the New Gold.

Howard can be reached at and at

Thursday, February 16, 2017

What are the advantages of using reclaimed materials, recycling, and composting our waste products?

What are the advantages of using reclaimed materials, recycling and composting our waste products?

Although we are all hearing so much in recent years about recycling, composting, using reclaimed materials, lowering our carbon footprint, and living a more sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle, it's often very confusing to people about exactly how to go about doing these things without disrupting our daily lives.

It also seems that there's a lack of information out there about how we actually accomplish the separation and reuse of materials that we have typically just thrown in the garbage and still do. When we go out to eat, whether we're eating at the corner restaurant and taking a to-go box home with us, or eating at a fast food or quick meal type restaurant, there is an unbelievable amount of paper and plastic packaging waste that goes into the trashcan without hope of recycling or being composted and subsequently reused or reintroduced into the environment.

One of my aims through this blog and series of articles is to help people to understand how this process should work. I will be explaining and recommending compostable products over plastic and other non-compostable products. I will be recommending non-toxic soaps & cleaners,  paints , and other items that we use in our homes, and explaining why this is important as well as explaining the ways these products are manufactured and the packaging they are placed in.

With the high quality of compostable plastic-like products such as to-go cutlery, boxes, cups and straws by various manufacturers, there really seems to be no need for the use of petroleum or plastic products in these arenas (ie: restaurants and hotels).  It is the responsibility of all of us to tell the owners of the restaurants and businesses that we patronize that this is important to us. We need to ask them to begin using compostable and non-toxic products because people really don't know how or have the ability to recycle and separate their trash from the food. We need to make it clear to them that these things are important to their customers.

I'll be discussing more about compostable products, how they work, and how they're made, as well as other types of materials such as building materials and household items like mattresses, sheets and clothing that we keep on our bodies, and the shampoos and soaps and cleaning products we use in our homes every day.

When we go out as consumers to restaurants and businesses we must ask ourselves these questions and consider where the products that we are using are sourced from? Are the materials they are made from healthy for us and the environment in both their ingredients and process of manufacture?

Terms like "Fair Trade", "Organic"and "Natural" are sometimes grey in the way they are portrayed to the public, when in fact, these items may or may not be quite as socially responsible as they make themselves seem. It is our responsibility as consumers to make sure we check the sources and then tell other people and the owners and employees of these businesses what is important to us. The most effective way to do this of course is online ratings, reviews, and by patronizing or not patronizing these businesses or by using or not using their products.

Subscribe to our blog and start getting information about how you can live a more sustainable and healthy life. This is Howard Cohen with 3 Green Things. Ciao

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Friday, September 16, 2016

My journey to Green Living. It's only just beginning:)

I can't believe it's actually been taking me this long to get back on this blog and commit to regular posts, but anyone that knows me, knows I am thorough, and like to jump in with both feet on my pet projects.  Maybe I should backtrack just a bit to where this started, and hopefully by the end of this post I can bring it back full circle (and maybe quote from one of my favorite songs while I do :)

About two years ago, I watched an article on the evening news about a young child who was electrocuted when he grabbed a metal pole in the pool where his family was swimming.  Seeing this, his uncle jumped to attention and pulled the kid off.  Both were injured but alive.  Now anyone in construction or real estate or who owns a pool knows there are codes in place to protect this from happening by installing GFI (Ground Fault Interrupters) in all electric sources near water.  (The same holds true for kitchens and bathrooms.)  Basically, if you dropped a hair drier in the bath, and it was plugged into a GFI, it should break the circuit before it gets you. P.S. DO NOT TRY THIS.

Well, the strangest thing happened.  I immediately began thinking and writing about ways to retrofit homes for safety, which began me thinking about other important systems like recycling and composting, water saving and greywater recapture systems, low energy use appliances and lighting, and eco-friendly and non-toxic cleaners, and building supplies.  Almost immediately I started thinking about other types of sustainable living and the food we consume and the products we use.

Now, I've always been a very health conscious and active person.  I strive to work out and play sports almost every day and feel excellent for my age. (51)  But I had never grown anything to eat before, and I never really checked the labels so well on the foods I bought. The research and time commitment were extreme. The research was fun.  Building six planter boxes, lining and filling them and planting my garden.  The first crop this year yielded four awesome and huge tomato plants of different varieties, great tasting radishes, jalapeno and habanero peppers, onions, carrots and spinach, butter lettuce and peas.  Tons of herbs that I pick and use in everything I cook almost daily, including Rosemary, Basil. Oregano, Cilantro, and Garlic.

I now make the freshest and best tasting pico de gallo around. And boy are those peppers hot, and those tomatoes are incredible tasting. (If you compare a home grown organic tomato to a store bought, nitrogen reddened tomato, you'll notice they taste totally different, and quite honestly you'll no longer like the ones they serve you in most restaurants.)

When I continued my research, it led my to several very interesting movies on Netflix called "Cowspiracy",   "Vegucated",  and "Fed Up".  I won't go into too much more detail here, but I recommend everyone watch these films with an open mind.  We are killing ourselves and our planet and making our children sick in the process.  (My next post will go into more detail about this because I just can't keep it in!)

To finish off, and bring it full circle as I promised at the start, is to quote from a great American Song by Arlo Guthrie, "Alice's Restaurant",

"You know, if one person, just one person does it they may think he's really sick...And if two people, two people do it, in harmony, they may think they're ### and they won't take either of them.
And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people?...They may think it's an
organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day?...
And friends they may thinks it's a movement."

So friends, that's what we have here in my opinion, the beginning of a movement.  Let's all join in and choose three green things we can start off with. You never know where it can lead you :)

Until next time. Peace :)

Friday, September 11, 2015

A great Day in June - A fond memory

Good morning everyone in "Green" cyberspace.  I'm having a lot of fun here promoting sustainable living and good health.  It's something so important to me and with having three kids who are all awesome and healthy I am so blessed.  Not to say there have not been things over the years that have come up, like my daughter Melanie's early struggle with ITP and childhood epilepsy, and my daughter Juliet's ongoing struggle with Rheumatoid Arthritis (which is especially difficult for an athlete like her.) But I believe that healthy eating and a strong sense of being and belonging to a loving home and practicing healthy habits, attributed to the general overall welfare of my kids and myself too.

Although today is the 14th anniversary of a terrible event in our country's history, I'd like to take this opportunity to tell a brief story on a more positive note, that I recall, inspired from today's article on the front page of the SF Chronicle Sports section.

The article talks about the 111 year old Dipsea Trail Race, held annually in the Muir Woods just north of San Francisco.  The race is about 7 miles (one way) over the mountain from the Muir woods to Stinson Beach on the other side.  Along the way, you traverse amazingly difficult trails, hills, and approximately 685 "steps" known as the Dipsea Steps. (They are mostly just slippery railroad ties.)

This is a beautiful trail and run right through the forest. Words cannot describe the beauty and atmosphere of this place.

The year was 1999, and it was the day before Father's Day and my Uncle Joe's wedding.  My wife Katie, and children Melanie, Nathan (my Son) and Juliet and I were visiting the Muir Woods trail for the first time.  As soon as we got there, Nathan reached out and touched a stinging Nettle, and let out a scream I heard from the parking lot.  After a little while, and some cool water, were were able to resume our hike, when two amazing things happened. First my daughter Julie took her first steps unattended, right there in the magical Muir Woods! What a great Father's Day gift. Next, I happened upon the trailhead for the formally elusive Dipsea Trail. Wow! I couldn't believe it was right here.  I had been reading and hearing about it over the years but never made the connection to the Woods here.

So the next morning I was off, to run the seven miles to the Beach, and hitchhike back to the car and hightail it to my Uncle's wedding.  Well, let's just say it didn't quite work out that way.  After telling the Park Ranger where I was going so he could send out a search party if necessary, I was off.  I made it up the steps, over the hill and to the beach.  I dumped the rocks out of my shoes and waited by the side of PCH for a lift back.  After about 15 minutes with no cars, I decided that water or not, I needed to head back or I might not make the wedding.  I ran back over that friggin hill, without any water, in June, and missed the entire ceremony and part of the reception. Sorry Joe and Diane.

 Oh well, it still ranks as one of my best days and happiest memories.

Have a great day!

What are your "3 Green Things"?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

mmmmmm-Fooood :)

Food is good. I have always been a pretty good eater, and I mean that from two directions. First, I, as a young athlete, wanted to put good food in my body.( I loved to watch the Jack LaLaine Show as a very young kid, and actually had a chance to interview him for about an hour after I went into radio.)
As Jack espoused, and I believed,exercise was a key element to health and happiness and so I have always pushed my body, which has driven my appetite through the roof, craving healthy, nutritious food. So in my ongoing quest for a healthier lifestyle, this "good food" thing is really nothing new to me.

My job is to tell everyone else!

So please remember these two things: First, good or bad habits take humans exactly 21 days to establish. (a proven and personally substantiated fact.)Just pick something, put your mind to the grindstone for three weeks, then stop. See if it doesn't make you want it. And second, changing one, two, or even  "3 Green Things" in your life is much easier than you think, Since it will actually become habitual after only three weeks it becomes a healthy part of your life for good!

Remember what Jack told me, "Exercise is King, and Nutrition is Queen, together they make a beautiful kingdom."

What are your 3 Green Things?