Thursday, January 31, 2008

posted by Sarah Krasley @ 8:11 PM
I just voted for Rock the Earth, so they have a chance at a Patagonia grant that can help them do some important work. It took five seconds. You should take five seconds and vote for them, too.

From the Rock the Earth website:

If you haven't been voting for Rock the Earth, please help. We're currently in second place in Patagonia's $5,000 grant give away. With the forthcoming opening of the Boulder, Colorado store on April 5th, Patagonia has offered Rock the Earth the chance to win a $5,000 grant by gaining the most votes from the public. Please go to and vote for Rock the Earth as your charity of choice. To put things in perspective, $5,000 means 500 hours of low-cost legal assistance to help preserve some of America’s natural spaces like Grand Canyon or Yellowstone National Park! So please help Rock the Earth today by voting at and please spread the word! Contest ends on March 29. Thank you!

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

posted by Sarah Krasley @ 11:59 PM
Hot Chip!, or should I say "Cool Chip!"?

Intel made history today by making the largest renewable energy certificate purchase ever--representing 1.3 Million MWh of the electricity used to power its facilities throughout the U.S. That's a lot of megawatt hours, given an average U.S. home uses 10,656 kilowatt-hours (or 10.656 megawatt hours) of electricity per year.

Find out more on the Green-e website.

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

posted by Sarah Krasley @ 6:54 PM
As part of Kelley Stoltz's recent tour to Australia and New Zealand, Mistletone Records and Touring is putting on a climate cool event in Melbourne. From the Mistletone website:

As well as his headline show at the Corner Hotel on Saturday February 9 (with The Lucksmiths + Ross McLennan - grab your tickets now!), Kelley Stoltz and a host of special musical guests are playing a carbon neutral show at Castlemaine’s Theatre Royal, Sunday February 10.

The Theatre Royal show, coined Tonnes Of Fun, is co presented by the Mount Alexander Sustainability Group, a non-government organization comprised of householders and local schools, businesses, and community organisations, all taking action as a community to combat climate change.

MASG will coordinate a competition Tonnes Of Fun at the show, where attendees can have their annual carbon emissions calculated by completing a short survey/questionnaire, with a Kelley Stoltz pack for the winner. The show itself is also carbon neutral.

It’s a fitting marriage. Kelley’s third album Below the Branches was the first record in music industry history to be packaged with the Green-e logo, promoting the use of renewable energy. Kelley tracked his electricity use and with the help of the Green-e program, offset all the electricity used to record his record with green tags from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. In Kelley’s words:

“Using renewable energy to offset the electricity I needed to power my guitar amps and my recording machines was a simple and effective way for me to do something about my impact on the environment. Green-e certifies that I am buying 100 percent renewable energy. Hopefully, people will see their logo; check into what they do, and make renewable energy a part of their lives, too.”

Tickets are $20 + BF and on sale now for Kelley Stoltz at Theatre Royal, or ph 03 5472 1196). Support comes from locals Roostar and Archer, together with Melbourneites Sime Nugent, the sublime Lisa Miller, plus R&B garage party chaos from The Breadmakers. Doors at 2.30pm, Kelley Stoltz on stage at 8pm.

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posted by Jason @ 5:05 PM
Craig Minowa is a busy man. When he's not working at his day job for the Organic Consumers Association, he's running his non-profit CD-packaging business and record label, Earthology and riding a tour bus to get to shows with his band, Cloud Cult. Long-time readers might remember that we linked to an interview of him over at the inestimable Grist about 9 months ago. But with his reputation as one of the greenest musicians around, I thought we should do another interview with him for our legions of fans (that's you!).

I caught up with Craig late last week over the phone from the very pleasant sounding farm in Northern Minnesota that serves as his Batcave, complete with geothermal heating and cooling and a recording studio built from recycled bits and pieces.

Jason Turgeon: Start out by telling me how you got into the intersection of music and environmentalism.

Craig Minowa: It started out academically. I was not sure whether to go into environmental science or music. I decided to go with environmental science. It seemed like a better way to get into the green scene. Eventually that evolved into Cloud Cult and Earthology.

JT: How did Earthology start?

CM: Earthology started as a method to find an environmentally friendly cd package in the early 90's. Out of necessity, I researched the industry and found out how we could replicate cd's ourselves in an environmentally friendly way. Eventually, we started doing it for other folks.

JT: Like who?
CM: There have been a lot of people. Some of the names you might recognize are Arlo Guthrie and Built To Spill for their Idaho Green album. We also do consulting for labels like Universal and rights orgs like ASCAP.

JT: Does it pay for itself?

CM: Earthology is not a moneymaker. It was built as a non-profit.

JT: What makes a CD packaged by Earthology different from a normal jewel box?

CM: In the original days, we used strictly recycled jewel cases that were donated by the thousands, collected from college campuses and individuals. People would buy CD's and put them in CD booklets and were looking for something to do with the jewel cases. We reused the ones that we could. The materials are all PVC and polycarbonate, so the unusable ones went to a landfill.

Then we branched off into looking for earth-friendly shrinkwrap. We now use LDPE, but we're branching off into corn-based cellulose. CD's in general are gradually getting into post-consumer waste. All of our printed products use vegetable based inks. More and more bands are interested in our 100% postconsumer recycled paper CD cases, although from a strictly ecological standpoint it's better to reuse a plastic case than use recycled paper. Pretty much the only thing that isn't environmentally friendly is the disc itself, which we're hoping will someday change.

JT: What else sets Earthology apart?

CM: Earthology itself is based on a farm, heated and cooled by geothermal waste. We also do things like figure out the amount of CO2 created by manufacturing and transport, etc., then we offset everything. And we plant 10 trees for every 1000 units sold.

JT: That must be a lot of trees. Do you have any idea how many?

CM: (laughing) It's a small forest by now. The trees are planted all over. We started at Earthology, planting the trees by ourselves, and then we moved into using non-profits like American Forests. It's tough to say how many we're responsible for, because we plant them in different areas and not all of the trees will survive.

JT: You also do work for the Organic Consumers Association. Tell me about your day job.

CM: I analyze new studies in different journals and put that into an easy to digest format for the common Joe and Jane out there. I focus on sustainable agriculture.

JT: And you're also a singer-songwriter with Cloud Cult. You must have a very patient boss to let you juggle all of this.

CM: Everything that I do is over the laptop and cell phone. On tour, I just do it in the van. We travel 6-8 hours a day between shows. It does mean that I don't get to rest as much in the van as I'd like.

JT: Tell me about the other members of the band. Have they been with you since the beginning, or is it a new group of people for each album and tour?

CM: A couple have stayed since the beginning, but we have had multiple bassists and violin players. The cello player and painters have been with us for a long time. The painters have been integrating themselves more musically, but predominantly focus on getting that piece of artwork finished in that 75 minute set. We auction off the art at the end of each set.

JT: You do a lot of driving. I know you use biodiesel, but there's a growing debate around the production of biofuels. What are your thoughts on this?

CM: Biodiesel is an ongoing study of its own. As we shift more towards biofuels, there is more of a debate about the agriculture behind biodiesel. With anything environmental, there is a constant struggle to make things better and making mistakes. It's the same thing with shows. You do a show, you try to do as much to make it environmentally friendly as possible, but 90% of the clubs don't have recycling.

JT: Have you been able to talk venues into doing more?

CM: It's starting to get to the point where we have a draw and get a bit more respect, but for the most part clubs don't want us telling them how to manage their venue.

JT: Are you the only one interested in green, or are the other members of the band involved?

CM: Connie, one of the painters, is my wife. For her day job, she does children's environmental health issues for indigenous people, so she's involved. The rest of the band are concerned about the environment, but not as much as we are.

JT: You do a lot of interviews. What's one thing you wish the media would discuss with you that they don't?

CM: There's still a stigma about being an environmental musician. When people read about it or hear about it, they assume you're a hippie jamband or going to be all preachy. It's actually the opposite. You can try an live your life environmentally and still be an average joe who's not wearing patchoulie. It's tiring to see reviewers who assume that we have 20-minute jams and who haven't listened to the cd. It's nice to see that start to change. Our audience is kind of the college indie-rock crowd, a lot of urban inner-city youth who were kind of cynical about what we were doing. They liked the music but they didn't care about the green stuff. That's changing, too.

JT: You say your audience is mostly urban inner-city college kids. Do you get any crossover into hip hop?

CM: We don't get much of the hip-hop audience. We do have a good variety of people coming to our shows, though. We have a lot of older people who end up coming to shows, sometimes full families. That seems to stem from the messaging behind the music. Connie and I lost our 2-year old son a few years ago. A lot of the music has stemmed from that grieving process. I think people with kids relate more to that.

JT: Filesharing is the most environmentally friendly way to distribute music. Pro or con?

CM: Digital music is the future of music and should be the future. In the early years we didn't mind the file-sharing. It's gotten to the point where we really feel it hit your pocketbook. Our last album release leaked about a month before it came out. It cost us thousands and thousands of dollars.

JT: Do you see it made up in tour revenues and t-shirts?

CM: Partially, but it's hard to say. It's my philosophy that if you listen to it a lot and you really like it, you should pay for it, but if you're just discovering it for the first time it's a good way to spread the word.

JT: What about the various proposals that have been floated to have voluntary music licensing for broadband users?

CM: I haven't heard of those. [JT describes the system.] That sounds interesting. It could work.

That wraps up the interview. Here's a very non-jamband-like video that clocks in at a mere 3:19 for the uninitiated.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

posted by Sarah Krasley @ 7:08 PM
Sundance 2008! Whoo-hoo!

I took a little trip to Utah over the weekend to take in the sights in lovely Park City, Utah. A brief power-outage in the middle of the Sub Pop showcase stopped the show, the cause of which is still undetermined (maybe Robert Redford wanted to green the festival through mandated energy efficiency?).

The highlight, besides the showcase, was a quick swim in a 10,000 year old crater. The crater, a 20 minute drive from Park City and 40 minutes from Salt Lake City, is a great, relaxing retreat amidst a busy tour, and probably one of the most amazing multi-sensory experiences I've ever had.

The crater looks like a rock version of Pantheon in Rome (left), a big dome with a hole in the center. From the inside it's a gorgeous calcified crater with azure clear water naturally heated to 90 degrees all year round by geothermal energy. Yup--a natural hot spring. Here are some more Flickr shots.


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posted by Sarah Krasley @ 6:23 PM
The dudes from Call and Response told me about a tour van rental company in the Bay Area that rents vans with video gaming consoles built in--pretty great for those long drives across Wyoming after the scenery doesn't do it for you anymore. On a related note, BoingBoing, posted a solar-powered gaming device today that would be great to stick next to the window of your van and use to play video games or charge your phone or ipod. From the pictures, it looks a little like a Speak-n-Spell, but hopefully sounds better.

From BoingBoing:

"This knock-off "MP4 Player" not only plays music and video, it can emulate the NES and Game Boy Color. But even better, it can be recharged with built-in solar panels. That's right: you can play Faxanadu until the sun explodes.

It comes with 2GB of memory built in, which is plenty for NES and GB ROMs, although perhaps not music and movies, and can be expanded up to another 2GB with an SD card. Oh, and it's got a USB out to which other gadgets can be connected—not for data, but to be recharged from the solar panel."

Get it here.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

posted by Sarah Krasley @ 1:22 PM
Richard Branson rocks my socks off. Just when I think the bar has been adequately raised, I read something like this (photo and copy reposted from Environmental Leader):

virgin-launches-new-4715.jpgVirgin Money is launching a green fund which will invest only in companies committed to high environmental standards. To launch Virgin Climate Change Fund, Virgin teamed up with GLG Partners, who will act as fund advisors, and Trucost PLC, who will provide environmental data. “Consumers are changing the way they spend and are increasingly looking for more environmentally friendly ways of investing their money,” said Richard Branson. According to research from Virgin Money, 29 percent of consumers prefer products and services from environmentally-friendly companies, and 68 percent said if data were available on a company’s carbon footprint, they would pay more attention to the issue.

At least 75 percent of the fund will be invested in an environmentally-filtered basket of European shares, and only companies who have a better than average environmental record in their sector will be selected. Another 15 percent will be invested in companies adopting environment best practice, and 10 percent will be invested in firms specializing in solutions to environmental problems.

The Virgin Climate Change Fund opens for business on January 21 and will be available through IFAs and direct to the public.

This Fund is another initiative in the list of Virgin’s environmental commitment, which includes $3 billion for renewable energy and a partnership to develop ethanol. Last year, Virgin partnered with Boeing to develop planes that use biofuel.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

posted by Sarah Krasley @ 6:36 PM
A friend forwarded me this ad from . While I could spout some Live Earth rhetoric, my voice is a little high for the part, but maybe yours is just right:

Seeking Al Gore sound-alike for Voice Over

Reply to: (see message body)
Date: 2008-01-03, 4:30PM

Environmental organization looking for Al Gore sound-alike for special event.
To audition, please call (917) 406-1127, and leave a message in the voice of Al.
Be sure to leave a phone number where we may contact you.

  • This is a contract job.
  • OK for recruiters to contact this job poster.
  • Phone calls about this job are ok.
  • Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.

Original URL:

Saturday, January 19, 2008

posted by Jason @ 7:31 PM
I hadn't heard of MIDEM until this press release came along. From the looks of it, MIDEM is a bit like South by Southwest, only with a more international appeal. The 4-day event in Cannes, France, is in its 42nd year and claims that it will draw about 10,000 lucky participants later this month. Those attending will get lots of networking and the opportunity to pick from some 500 concerts. I'm jealous!

MIDEM, like everyone else in the free world, got the green bug this year. Besides taking steps to green the conference, it's also recognizing trailblazers who have already started to green large music events. I'm not sure how MIDEM picked these three, and I'm surprised that Peat's Ridge didn't make the cut (perhaps because this year's event was unfortunately canceled due to extreme rains). Never mind the methodology, these events certainly deserve the credit, and it's very heartening to see that the greening of the music movement is getting so mainstream.

So who's getting the awards?

What, exactly, did these three folks do to deserve this? Well, according to the press release (lazy man's research):

In collaboration with other environmental groups, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore and his organization, The Alliance for Climate Protection, Live Earth set out strict “Green Guidelines” aimed at creating a “low-impact” event. Carbon emissions were substantially reduced and 81% of the 97 metric tons of waste collected was diverted from landfill sites via recycling and composting efforts. Advertising banners in South Africa, for example, were redistributed to rural townships to make sunshades for school playgrounds.

The Roskilde Festival Society is the largest Northern European music festival, exceeding the population of the fifth largest Danish city and producing the equivalent in waste. Some of their environmental policies date back to 1994, making the group one of the pioneers of the greener festival. All beverages are served in plastic mugs with 97% of the mugs being returned to recycling deposit points. The waste is sorted into 13 different categories and all organic materials are composted and used to refertilise the site. All profits from the festival are then donated directly to humanitarian causes.

The Paléo Festival Nyon is powered by a single green energy source, ‘vivonatur’, which is generated using 100% sustainable wind and water energy from the Swiss Alps. Powering one of the largest open-air festivals in Europe with green energy - over 225,000 festival-goers over a six day period - is a monumental achievement in itself. Paléo Festival Nyon has already won numerous accolades including the Nice Future 2006 prize and in 2007 the ‘Green ’n’ Clean’ title awarded by the organization of European festivals, Yourope. Under its slogan, ‘Respect the Environment’, Paléo also encourages people to sort their rubbish and take advantage of public transport.
Sounds pretty cool. Perhaps SXSW or someone else will start giving out similar awards to US-based musicians/venues/events.

And by the way, Radiohead is playing at Roskilde this year, so if any rich journalism-lovers out there want to sponsor my flight and event ticket, I'd love to go, um...research the greenness of this event. Here's Radiohead playing their most recent album, live!

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

posted by Sarah Krasley @ 11:49 PM
she's the new MacBook Air! No wonder all the MacPeople leaving MacWorld looked so enamored today.

Apple introduced their new laptop today touting the environmental successes they were able to achieve with its invention. From the Apple website:

MacBook Air embodies Apple’s continuing environmental progress. It consumes the least amount of power of any Mac and is also designed with the following features to reduce environmental impact:

Highly recyclable aluminum enclosure

Mercury-free LCD display with arsenic-free glass

PVC-free internal cables

Largely recyclable, low-volume packaging


Meets ENERGY STAR requirements

EPEAT Silver rating.

MacBook Air received a Silver rating from EPEAT

As pointed out by resident JamBase smart cookie, Andy Gadiel, there's no CD drive, so the MacBook Air encourages file sharing through thumb drives and emails. While I'm not sure how that is going to work in the short-term, it will definitely set computer designers along the right path of not encouraging CDs as a means to transfer information (which might just hammer the last nail into the CD coffin that's keeping music executives up late at night)...but that's a post for another day.

Go out on a date with the new MacBook Air here.

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posted by Sarah Krasley @ 11:23 PM posted a fantastic interview with Allen Schaeffer, the Executive Director of Diesel Technology Forum. Mr. Scaheffer describes clean diesel as "as cleaner engines and the pieces of engines that make it clean, like turbochargers and other things within the engine. We also think about cleaner fuels--ultra low sulfur diesel as well as renewable diesels fuels. And lastly, there is the emissions control technology, the stuff that reduces emissions out of the tailpipe." Think of it as Biowillie's conventional cousin.

Read this fantastic interview here.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

posted by Jason @ 5:32 PM
Looking over at the upcoming concert list on the right, I see Willie Nelson's name. One of the bigger regrets of my concert career is that I haven't seen him yet. I had hoped to at Bonaroo '04, but he pulled out due to health problems (although he was ably replaced by Steve Winwood, who was frankly stunning).

It's pretty hard not to like Willie. Between the pot smoking, the tax dodging, the charitable concerts, and the forward thinking views he presents to a fan base that isn't known for being so forward thinking, he represents a complex human face in a sea of two-dimensional acts. I've written before about FarmAid's sustainable food practices and how they could and should be a model for all other large festivals. He's also well-known for his love of biodiesel, and over the last couple of years he's gone and started his own line of the stuff, under the brand name Biowillie. He's even starting Willie's Place, a truck stop in Texas, to sell the stuff.

Biodiesel, ethanol, and other biofuels shouldn't be viewed as any kind of a panacea, no matter what Willie tells you. They don't do a thing to improve vehicle efficiency, they're typically mixed with fossil fuels, they usually rely on petroleum-based fertilizer, they do nothing to break the bounds of a continued corporate monoculture, and they are linked to significant water quality issues (PDF link). But all that aside, supporting biofuels as one piece of the solution to fixing our energy woes is certainly a worthwhile endeavor. I'd rather see a tour bus running on biofuels and supporting family farmers than a tour bus running on fossil fuels and supporting ExxonMobil.

For some reason, I can't get YouTube to embed on this post, but here's a clip of Willie on NPR talking about the reasons he got into biodiesel (his wife talked him into it):

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

posted by Jason @ 9:16 PM
Last month I read an article in the Globe and Mail [link to original article (subscribers only), link to repost] about a former church that's being converted into Canada's first LEED-Gold music venue. Sounds like it's going to be a great place to catch a live show!

Green highlights--beyond reusing a building, which is a great place to start--include buying used doors and windows from a salvage company, but the article doesn't go into much detail about other green features and I couldn't find out much more from a good bit of google searching. Still, it sounds like the developer, a 70-year old man who must be great fun at cocktail parties, gets the green thing. He's also proposing a green condo building and has greened his other event locations in various ways.

It's great to see venue owners starting to come around. Frankly, I'm surprised we haven't seen more of this, but I've heard through the grapevine that Live Nation has jumped on the green train and Radio City recently made some green overtures, so hopefully soon we'll see a whole slew of green venues coming our way.

If you live in Toronto, swing by the church and leave some more info (or a link to pictures!) in the comments.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

posted by Sarah Krasley @ 5:46 PM
When she's not doing cover songs for her newest album, Jukebox, Chan Marshall aka Cat Power can be found in rural India, Bangladesh and Africa traveling with charity: water, a non-profit devoted to bringing clean water and sanitation systems to developing countries.

Check out the pictures, blog postings from Chan, and more information on charity: water here.

How can I tell you that I love you?

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posted by Sarah Krasley @ 2:52 PM

As JamBase reported, Jose Gonzalez's next tour will be green! The Sweedish popster, who I learned about from his soft as cashmere cover of the Knife's anthemic Heartbeats, will soften the blow of the carbon footprint associated with his upcoming tour.

Jose's record label, Mute, announced: "Jose Gonzalez' Green Tour of North America in the partnership with Reverb, a non-profit organization designed to educate and engage music fansand promote environmental sustainability. They work closely with artists to create earth-friendly events and tours. As part of the greening of Gonzalez' upcoming tour, his rider will include biodegradable catering products, and a reduction of plastic water bottles will be facilitated by providing his crew with re-usable water bottles to carry throughout the tour. In addition, Gonzalez and Reverb will calculate the CO2 footprint of the tour and neutralize emissions from venue energy use, ground transportation, flights and hotel accommodations by supporting clean renewable energy projects.

There will be a 50 cent add on to general ticket purchases that will support Reverb's greening efforts. Pre-sale ticket purchasers via will also have the option to add an additional 50 cents to Native Energy's CO2 Offset program. At the shows, fans will have the opportunity to purchase a custom Jose Gonzalez sticker, the money from which will be used to purchase carbon offsets generated from travel to/from the show."

Photo by Fredrik Egerstrand

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Saturday, January 5, 2008

posted by Sarah Krasley @ 4:28 PM
Where do musicians go for internships? Kelley Stoltz interned for Jeff Buckley as a fan mail sorter, but I doubt he learned how to use a Tascam 388 there......

Looks like some pretty sought-after dudes are filling the holes. David Byrne gives some candid advice to musicians in Wired (Brian Eno chimes in, too!), and Thom Yorke tells it like it is in the Independent. Good reading for musicians and music fans alike--and you don't have to commit .

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Friday, January 4, 2008

posted by Sarah Krasley @ 4:18 PM
in 2040! The City of Austin, hailed as the live music capital of the world, announced today that they plan to go zero waste by the year 2040. Environmental Leader reported the news this morning:

Austin Hopes To Go Zero Waste By 2040 (repost)

Austin, Texas hopes to reduce the trash sent to landfills by 20 percent by 2012 and eventually achieve zero waste by 2040. The city recently hired the California firm of Gary Liss and Associates to spend half a year writing a plan to reduce to zero the amount of garbage the city sends to landfills. With the plan, Austin will join other cities, such as Seattle and San Francisco, as well as other counties, who already have or are writing similar long-term solid waste plans.

Last year, Austin announced an aggressive climate protection plan that will cut its carbon dioxide emissions to almost nothing by 2020

Zero waste plans utilize both recycling and ways of preventing garbage from getting to landfills in the first place, such as penalizing customers who produce the most trash and offering incentives to businesses to reuse their packaging and products.

In addition to the plan, Austin will be opening a single-stream recycling facility in 2008 or 2009.

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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

posted by Sarah Krasley @ 4:57 PM

For the past five years, I've been a faithful Stendig calendar user. 2008 is no different. This morning I took down my old calendar and put up a new one. As I took the remnants of my old calendar to the recycling bin, I marveled at the small strip of waste I was throwing into the bin.

The calendar is great because it's huge (4ft by 3ft) and you tear off each month (a 4ft by 3ft sheet of paper) to reveal the next month. I use the old calendar pages as wrapping paper or scratch paper (see above) . Get yours here.

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