It’s that time of year again already! Store aisles are lined with school supplies, the air is (slowly) getting crisper, and it’s almost time for kids to head back to school.
Getting ready for a new school year is a perfect time to adopt new habits for yourself and your family. Here are some tips to earn your family a Green star for back-to-school prep.
Be sparing. Yes, the back-to-school section is a wonderland of sorts with colorful patterns, cool new gadgets, and all sorts of notebooks and pens that of course I’ll use, mom! Make it a priority this year not to buy more than you need. Before you head out for your back-to-school shopping adventures, take inventory of the school supplies you have left over from last year. You can save lots of money and waste by resharpening last year’s pencils and reusing an old notebook or two.
Buy recycled. While you should try to be sparing with your purchases, research purchasing recycled supplies, which many retailers such as Target and Office Max offer with brands such as Pilot, Post-It, and Greenroom. Make sure you check the label before making a purchase!
Be thrifty. All levels of schools call for piles of shiny new books each year, but those costs (and waste) can add up in a hurry. Consider buying used or renting books instead of purchasing them new. Many are available in campus bookstores, or on websites such as Chegg and Amazon. You can check to see if an online version of your book is available if you prefer going paperless.
Carpool. Whether you’re dropping kids off at school or driving to work, there are many ways to reduce your driving and be kinder to the environment. To help reduce air pollution, investigate whether you live on or close to the school bus route. Even if your child stays late for sports or clubs, many schools extend the bus schedule to accommodate. If busing isn't an option, try setting up a carpool with neighbors. You’ll save on gas, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and maybe even make some new friends!
Do your part. Most schools make an effort to be green, but make sure you check that your child’s school is taking part. Ask if the school has a recycling program. If it doesn't, see if there are plans to implement one, and maybe even volunteer some free time to help! Another idea is to recommend that the school organizes a compost heap in conjunction with the cafeteria, or sets up recycling bins around the campus.
How are you going to implement some Green practices for the upcoming school year? Let us know by commenting below.
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Take full advantage of the outdoors these final weeks of summer and plan a camping trip with family or friends. There is no better way to get in touch with nature and save some green. Camping fees are generally inexpensive, as are the activities that go along with camping, such as hiking, bird watching, fishing, and, of course, picnicking!
Make sure to treat parks, campsites, and other outdoor attractions with respect. If you spend time outdoors, keep in mind these five green tips:
Tidy up: Whether you are camping for a few days or picnicking for an afternoon, make sure everything you bring outside leaves with you. Take as few disposable items as possible, and ensure that you gather any trash or recycling you generate and take it with you when you leave.
Drink smart: Use a reusable water bottle on your camping, hiking, and other outdoor adventures to reduce waste. Also bring reusable dishware and silverware!
Go solar: Invest in lighting and charging options that run off solar power, such as solar lanterns, phone chargers, etc.
Be thrifty: Unless you’re an avid camper, there is no need to buy the latest and greatest in camping gear. Stick with used backpacks, tents, and kayaks to recycle someone else’s unused gear. Check out websites like GearTrade.com for great deals on used equipment!
Stick to the trail: Be sure follow signs, cairns, and trail markers, and stay on the beaten path to minimize your impact on the environment. Trailblazing and wandering off the trail can cause native plant life to be trampled and lead to soil erosion.
There are many campsites across the country, but few places are as beautiful to visit as our National Parks. Visit www.nps.gov to find the perfect park for you, or see this list of National Parks near Southwest Airlines destinations!
Arizona: Saguaro National Park is a quick 25-minute drive from the Tucson International Airport (TUS)! Petrified Forest National Park is a three-hour drive from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), and Grand Canyon National Park is a four and a half hour drive through the beautiful desert.
Arkansas: Hot Springs National Park is a quick one-hour drive from Little Rock (LIT).
California: Yosemite National Park is about a four-hour drive from San Francisco, (SFO), Oakland (OAK), or San Jose (SJC).
Colorado: Rocky Mountain National Park is an hour and a half outside of Denver (DEN).
Kentucky: Mammoth Cave National Park is an hour and a half drive from Louisville (SDF).
Ohio: Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a quick 30-minute drive from the Akron-Canton Airport (CAK) or Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE).
South Carolina: Congaree National Park is an hour and a half drive from Charleston (CHS).
Texas: Midland International Airport (MAF) gets you within a three-hour drive of Big Bend National Park.
The Guadalupe Mountains National Park is a shorter two-hour drive from El Paso (ELP).
Virginia: Shenandoah National Park is a short one-hour drive from Dulles International Airport (IAD).
Washington: Mount Rainier National Park is a fairly quick one and a half hour drive from Seattle (SEA), while North Cascades National Park is two hours from the city.
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Today, July 22, marks National Hammock Day, a reminder in the midst of the dog days of summer to take some time to relax and enjoy. There’s nothing like relaxing on a lazy summer day in a hammock you’ve made yourself by upcycling materials you have on hand!
The most basic kind of hammock consists of mosquito netting or a sheet held up by two posts, often trees. You can also make a sturdier and more accessible hammock out of many items you may already have lying around, such as drop cloth, rope, old sheets or towels, or even plastic bags—thin rope makes for the most reliable material, if you have any handy.
If you really want to get crafty, you can also make your own thin rope out of plastic grocery bags! A DIY contributor on Instructables.com used about 500 plastic grocery bags to put together this amazing hammock (above). If you have a massive pile of plastic bags hanging around, check out this tutorial—it might just inspire you to make your own! Find the full tutorial at Instructables. And, after you make your hammock, remember to take reusable grocery sacks to the store with you in the future!
To learn about Southwest’s latest upcycling project, check out check out the LUV Seat project.
What are some of the ways you stay Green during the summertime? If you have a suggestion for how to live and work Green, let us know by commenting below!
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Different from recycling, upcycling seeks to turn used materials into something more valuable, and often beautiful. Upcycling gives an item a better purpose. It goes without saying that upcycling makes a positive impact on the environment. By upcycling, you can remove items from the global waste stream and reuse materials without expending energy to break them down.
At Southwest, we seek to operate with a green filter, which includes recycling. But, today, we are launching an upcycling initiative called LUV Seat: Repurpose with Purpose, which takes the used seat leather from our Evolve aircraft cabin redesign and reuses it in creative and beneficial ways, including making shoes, soccer balls, and other leather goods. To learn more, check out the LUV Seat project.
Even if you don’t have to have a spare 43 acres of leather lying around, there are plenty of ways to upcycle just about anything!
Oakland Provisioning Agent Jeff Lunzaga is a prime example of an upcycler! He reuses materials to create large-scale art exhibits that are displayed in community parades, events, and even as props in independent movies.
He created his Batwing using PVC pipes and recycled cardboard from Southwest snack packs and materials. Way to go, Jeff!
What would you do with used leather? Do you have an idea or know of a charitable organization that could upcycle our used leather? Let us know by using the hashtag #LUVSeat on Facebook or Twitter.
How do you upcycle old materials? Let us know by commenting below.
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'Call Me, Beep Me, If You Wanna Recycle Me' ... July is National Cell Phone Courtesy Month, instituted to remind cell-phone users of cell-phone manners and how, when, and where it’s appropriate to use our cellular devices. Cell phone etiquette, however, extends beyond polite use—it’s also important to consider how you dispose of your old cell phones and other electronics.
Cell phones and other electronic products are made of valuable materials that require significant energy to mine and manufacture, such as metals, plastic, and glass. By donating or recycling your used electronics, you can help conserve resources and avoid water and air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, byproducts of manufacturing new materials.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, for every two million cell phones we recycle, we can recover 70 thousand pounds of copper, 1,544 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and 66 pounds of palladium! That’s the weight of a Boeing 737-700 aircraft!
At Southwest, we’re careful of our energy consumption and have made an effort to track our recycling since 2008. As a Company, we recycle a variety of industrial materials, including electronics, such as computers, monitors, and printers. Check out our One Report for more details!
Find manufacturers and retailers near you that donate or recycle electronics on the EPA’s page on electronic recycling.
How do you recycle your technology? Let us know by commenting below!
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Did you know that, with one simple change to your routine, you can save the energy equivalent of 11 barrels of oil?
Pacific Ocean garbage patch
Are you wondering what this change is? It’s simple—recycle or reuse plastic bags! Even better, by using your own cloth or fabric bags when you shop, you can make a huge difference in your environmental impact. If you grocery shop once a week, in five years you’ll have kept about 250 to 1,000 grocery bags out of our landfills and our oceans. Bringing your own bags keeps thousands of plastic bags out of landfills or—worse—ecosystems, where they could harm living creatures, as does the great Pacific Ocean garbage patch, considered to be the Earth’s largest landfill. Earlier this year, Southwest Airlines took this to Heart and announced we were making a reusable bag to hold strollers and car seats which would replace the environmentally-harmful plastic bags!
Southwest Reusable Carseat/Stroller Bag
The reusable bags cost $17 and are sold at the ticket counter. Although Customers are not obligated to purchase a bag to check their car seats or strollers, we have “gone green” and are no longer providing a free plastic bag to use. Just like we’ve always done, the car seat/stroller bag is conditionally accepted and is checked free-of-charge in addition to the regular free baggage allowance. Check out some other stylish Southwest bags in the Southwest Airlines Freedom Shop! As always, if you have a suggestion for how to live and work Green, share your comments below!
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Did you know that each person in the United States uses approximately 750 pounds of paper each year? That’s the weight of an average grizzly bear! But don’t you worry–there are many ways that you can reduce your paper consumption!
One step that Southwest Airlines recently took to help reduce paper use was to introduce mobile boarding passes at all airports. This service allows Customers to keep all of their travel information in one place, while also safeguarding the environment through paperless travel!
Here are some helpful tips to reduce your paper use:
Print carefully: Make sure to print on both sides of the page to reduce the number of sheets, and only print what you really need.
Use lighter paper: Light-weight paper requires less energy and fewer raw materials when it's manufactured.
Use mail alternatives: Use email, voice mail, and fax transmissions whenever possible.
Eliminate unnecessary subscriptions: Cancel newspapers, newsletters, and magazines you don't read or can access online. Take your name off mailing lists to reduce junk mail. 41pounds.org can help you rid your life of all that waste by contacting 20 to 30 direct mail companies on your behalf to stop the majority of your bulk mail!
Make recycling easy: Place recycling bins in high-traffic areas in your home or office.
Try paper substitutes: Try using a “tree-free” paper alternative, such as paper made from post-consumer waste, hemp, kenaf, bamboo, agri-pulp, or cotton!
Encourage others: Share the benefits of using paper alternatives and reducing your consumption with friends and colleagues so they can do their part to save trees!
What are some ways that you scale back your paper consumption? Let us know by commenting!
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Whether you take your coffee black, with cream, frozen, or whipped, you can always take it green! Even your coffee cup can be environmentally friendly, and small changes in your coffee routine can add up to a lot less waste and a healthier planet.
At Southwest, we are proud of our green coffee consumption. We brew our own coffee onboard called LIFT and, for every pound of LIFT coffee consumed, we have donated to green-energy projects in coffee-growing regions. That has added up to more than $45,000 since its 2009 debut!!
Here are some easy steps you can take to make YOUR next brew tasty, healthy, and earth-friendly:
Mug up: Invest in a reusable mug and kick the Styrofoam disposable cup habit. If you must use disposable, try using eco-friendly paper cups. On Southwest flights, we use cups made from 12 percent post-consumer recycled materials with built-in sleeves made of 99 percent post-consumer recycled material.
Check for Fair Trade certification: Fair Trade labels ensure safe working conditions and fair compensation for farm workers, and many Fair Trade-certified commodities are also grown without the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or pesticides. Mother Parker’s, the coffee and tea distributor for Southwest, is one of North America’s largest importers of fair trade coffee beans! They also work with charitable groups that aid plantation workers and alleviate these countries’ dependence on the coffee industry.
Buy in bulk: Resist the temptation to use individually packaged sugars, creamers, and throwaway stirrers to reduce waste.
Be your own barista: If you’re considering buying a new coffee maker, try a French press! Unlike most coffee machines, French presses are manual, don’t require paper filters, and use less water and energy per brew. French press users think the coffee tastes better too!
Use your grounds wisely: Use only the amount of coffee grounds that you really need, and then give them a second life when you’re finished with them! Used coffee grounds are great for scrubbing grease off pots and pans, absorbing odors, fertilizing plants, and can even be made into a great body scrub—just add olive or coconut oil!
What are some ways that you keep your coffee consumption green? Let us know by commenting below!
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Summer is a great time to get outdoors and enjoy your surroundings, but don’t take it for granted! At Southwest, we recognize that when it comes to the environment, being a good global citizen starts at our doorstep. Read on to learn more about how YOU can be more green too!
We have a steadfast focus on conserving jet fuel, electricity, and water to reduce our impact on the planet, and we know that small changes that you make at home can add up to real benefits for the planet, not to mention benefits to your wallet, as well as your own health and happiness. Read about some of the things we do at our Southwest home in our One Report! Here are some tips to make summer a little bit greener at YOUR home:
Stay Cool the Smart Way: If you’re not home during the day, close all windows, curtains, and blinds to keep your house cool for as long as possible, and make sure to turn off your AC or raise the thermostat to 85 degrees. While you are home, try to set your thermostat at 78 degrees or higher, the ideal energy-saving temperature. If that feels a bit too warm, use ceiling or room fans throughout your house—the air movement from the fan will help the air feel cooler! Also make sure not to add any more heat than necessary inside. Use appliances such as irons, washers, and dryers at night or early in the morning—or eliminate the dryer altogether and try out a clothesline instead!
Skip the Chemicals: Do you have creepy crawlers and mosquitos in your yard? Opt for natural remedies by planting rosemary and citronella to ward off mosquitoes without harming wildlife or your family. Also consider installing a bat house in your yard to help reduce your mosquito problem year round!
Green up your BBQ: If you’re having a barbeque this summer, make sure to use reusable or biodegradable plates and utensils. Fill up pitchers with beverages instead of buying personal-sized drinks, and if you use plastic or paper cups, make sure to have markers handy so people can write their names and use only one.
Unplug: While you’re spending time outdoors or away from home, make sure to unplug unused appliances to avoid phantom energy. Furthermore, make use of those appliances that you do keep plugged in! Keep your refrigerator well stocked – refrigerators that are full of food don’t warm up as quickly when the door is opened, so they require less energy to stay cool. Also look into chargers for your devices that can be powered by that summer sun!
Be Wise with your Wet n’ Wild: Water activities are a hallmark of summer. Definitely don’t go without them. Enjoy your water balloon fights and slip n’ slides, just make sure to be vigilant about how much water you are using on a daily basis! Try using rainwater to water your garden or go to a car wash that recycles water instead of washing it yourself to conserve.
What are some ways that you’re going green this summer? Let us know by commenting below.
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Organized by the American Hiking Society, National Trails Day is America’s largest annual single-day trails and outdoor celebration. The 22nd Annual National Trails Day is set to kick off this year on Saturday, June 7.
National Trails Day 2014 is part of Great Outdoors Month, a month-long effort in June to get Americans outside. Great Outdoors Month celebrates all that is great about America’s abundant outdoor recreation resources and highlights Americans’ passion for the outdoors. It also encourages volunteerism and conservation efforts in our National Parks across the United States.
Hundreds of thousands of people from every state will participate in a wide variety of outdoor activities and trail stewardship projects at more than 2,000 nationally sanctioned events across the country. National Trails Day events are hosted by local and statewide trail clubs, city, state, and federal public agencies, and community groups. Check out www.AmericanHiking.org/ntd-events to participate in one of the fun trail events near you on June 7!
Southwest supports conservation efforts across the country. Just last month, Southwest sponsored National Geographic’s annual BioBlitz—an event we have supported for more than five years—that promotes the biodiversity of our national parks in the decade leading up to the U.S. National Park Service centennial in 2016. This year’s 24-hour event was held at the Golden Gate National Park. It was a great way for volunteers to get outside work together to identify as many species of plants, animals, microbes, fungi, and other organisms as possible.
What are some ways that you are going to enjoy the outdoors and your national parks? Do you have ideas about how to preserve your outdoor areas and keep them healthy? Let us know by commenting below.
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At Southwest Airlines, our Employees are proud to serve our military all year-round, whether it is preboarding at the gates, encouraging a round of applause in the gate area, or making announcements on the plane in honor of traveling service men and women and letting them deplane first. This past weekend was Memorial Day, a special occasion for honoring those who served and remembering their sacrifices. Southwest Employees also took the day as an opportunity to honor all military personnel in many different ways:
In West Palm Beach, Employees (like the one below) remembered our troops with patriotic decorations.
In Lubbock (LBB), Employees pulled out all the stops for Lois Young, an 87-years-young veteran. Ms. Young was a member of the Women’s Air force Service Pilots (WASPs) during World War II, and flew with us to attend a military reunion at the National WASP WWII Museum. LBB greeted Ms. Young with a Water Cannon salute and Marine Color Guard upon her arrival. Our own Capt. John Sims presented Ms. Young with his own personal set of USAF Command Pilot Wings, which he proudly wore while he served in the Air Force.
Nashville Employees honored three generations of veterans who served in WWII, Vietnam, and Afghanistan. The veterans were on their way to celebrate Memorial Day in Baltimore. Employees thanked the family for their service with a speech at their gate and champagne and gift bags onboard.
A Team of Southwest Employees from Reagan National in Washington, D.C. flew all the way to Austin on May 11 to visit their “adopted” veteran, the oldest-living WWII veteran Sgt. Richard Overton. The Employees really showed their Servant’s Hearts by surprising Sgt. Overton for his 108th birthday and bringing him Southwest goodies.
Another set of Southwest's Reagan National Employees recognized Memorial Day with a cook-in for their Coworkers!
At Southwest Airlines, we recognize that the United States of America is the land of the free because of the brave. We can never say it enough: thank you to all those who have served and sacrificed to protect our country.
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With the summer heat approaching, many areas across the country are at risk of drought. Harvesting rainwater is a great way to conserve—and reserve—water in case there is a shortage; however, rainwater harvesting policies vary, so check out your state government web site to find out what regulations apply to you before you start harvesting.
Here are some reasons you should consider harvesting rainwater:
It can save you money! Even if you live somewhere the annual rainfall averages only 12 inches, you can save money on water bills by collecting and storing rainwater and using it to irrigate your trees, shrubs, and lawn.
It makes use of a valuable resource. By collecting rainwater from just ten percent of the residential roof area in Texas, we could conserve 27 billion gallons of water annually. Think about how much we could conserve if we collected water from our cities systemwide!
It helps prevent problems. Collecting rainwater helps prevent flooding, erosion and, surface water contamination with sediments, fertilizers, and pesticides in rainfall runoff.
Rainwater is good for plants. It is free of salts and other minerals that harm root growth. As rainwater soaks into the soil, it forces salts down and away from root zones, which lets roots grow better and makes plants more tolerant of drought.
Harvesting rainwater is an easy and effective way to prepare for hot summer months. Consider implementing a rainwater conservation system at your home to reduce your water usage and go green!
What are some ways that you prepare for the heat? Let us know by commenting below.
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