Friday, July 28, 2006

Biodegradable Packaging and your Local Brewery

Biodegradable Packaging and your Local Brewery
by Greg Lambert, Founding Board Member & S.A.V.E. Recycler

Plastic packaging and containers are a part of everyday life in the modern world. However, this technology has many pitfalls, notably that plastics are petroleum-based and non-biodegradable. Fortunately new plastics technology is emerging that combats these environmental problems. Much like the emerging market for biofuels that helps to power an ever-growing number of today’s vehicles, plastics are being produced from common everyday crops, such as corn and soybeans. Here in Helena, The S.A.V.E. Foundation is actively promoting products that are derived from this new generation of plastics.

Lewis and Clark Brewing Co., a local brewery, has recently started using “photodegradable” carriers derived from vegetable crops to hold their six packs of beer on store shelves. These carriers, made by packaging company ITW Hi-Cone, break down when exposed to direct sunlight. Because they are able to biodegrade quickly, they pose less threat to the environment and produce less waste product than traditional beverage containers. While these carriers are currently used for plastic bottles of water and soda, Lewis and Clark is the first brewery in the country to use this technology to hold beer bottles.
“It is very exciting to see a local company investing in sustainable packaging, to go along with their prior commitment to reusable growlers,” says to S.A.V.E. Executive Director, Matthew Elsaesser.

S.A.V.E. has promoted compostable plastics by using biodegradable cups to serve beer and other beverages in at S.A.V.E. events such as “Earth Day 2006.” These cups are produced by Fabri-Kal, which has developed the promising NatureWorks™ plastic. The plastic is produced by fermenting and separating the sugars in corn to produce lactic acid. This plastic has the potential to replace petroleum-based plastics in a number of applications, including: packaging, films, apparel, fabrics and carpets. In Helena you can currently purchase compostable plastic items, such as cups, bowls, and eating utensils at the Real Food Market. Check it out!

Monday, July 10, 2006

"Daily Habits" preview, Guest Piece, "A Christian Take on the Environment" by Father Eric Gilbaugh

Daily Habits is S.A.V.E. quarterly newsletter. Following is the featured guest piece for Summer 2006. View previous issues at

(left, Father Gilbaugh blesses the "Vegi-mobile" before it's Biodiesel Montana Tour in Winter 2006)

A Christian Take on the Environment by Father Eric Gilbaugh

So, what is the Christian perspective on the environmental movement? Does the Church have anything to say about the rightness or wrongness of 'being green'? Indeed she does, and that is precisely what I would like to discuss here. First, I must begin by admitting my bias towards the reflections of the Catholic Church, which shouldn't be surprising, since I am a Catholic priest. But I will attempt to stick here to principles broad enough that they could be considered as speaking for Christians generally.

To begin with, it seems to me as though there is an inarguably practical aspect to environmentalism and specifically the recycling mission of the S.A.V.E. Foundation: namely, that using less, recycling what one does use, and reusing what one can simply makes good sense. One doesn't have to claim much of a moral high ground to convince one's friends that being practical is better than being wasteful.

But Christians can hold up much more than good old American pragmatism in their attempts to show the good in environmentalism, for many of its underlying principles could be said to correspond with those of Christianity. From the Christian perspective, the ecological situation is a moral issue, because it is a human issue. The poor and most vulnerable, who are always at the center of the Church's concern, are usually the ones that suffer the most from ecological degradation (especially those in third world countries). Moreover, Christians have always believed that barriers between peoples must be overcome by the message of Jesus Christ that all are brothers and sisters with one heavenly Father, and this message of solidarity is certainly in correspondence with our growing awareness that we are a world community that must work together in order to find ecological sustainability and balance.

Balance: that word also sums up another reflection that Christians can offer to the environmental movement, in a number of ways. From a religious perspective, a balance must be struck between two very common extremes; that is, the temptation to either deify creation (pantheism) to the point that created matter becomes an end in itself, or else, disregard any concern for environmental issues at all because creation, as the scriptures tell us, was made by God for man's use. Neither of these are acceptable viewpoints for the Christian because neither fully embrace the vision that God reveals.

Pantheism (or at least the view of the earth as an end in itself) is never acceptable because it contradicts the fundamental Christian tenet that God created the universe ex nihilo, "out of nothing," and that He alone is God. Moreover, it risks the danger that human persons could become means to a non-personal but ecological end. But the notion that the earth is man's alone to plunder and abuse as he wishes is equally offensive, for it denies any respect for the notion of stewardship (ie, the earth belongs to God and he has entrusted it to me to use) and the revealed truth of the sacramentality of the created world.

That is, Christians believe that the world reflects the qualities of its Creator in profound ways. Many people have come to a realization of God's existence by meditating on the grandeur, profound order, and beauty of creation. This very natural human response to the created world is echoed, for example, in the song of the prophet Daniel: "Let the earth bless the Lord, praise and exalt Him above all forever!" (see Daniel 3:57-81 for the rest of this beautiful hymn)

I would thus conclude by listing what I think could be considered a set of core principles for a Christian perspective on the environment: 1) a God-centered and sacramental view of creation, 2) a consistent respect for human life, 3) affirmation of the significance of global interdependence and the common good, 4) solidarity among peoples, 5)understanding of the universal purpose of created things, 6) a preferential option for the poor. If Christians would engage their faith in the arena of environmental issues, I believe that they would not only provide a valuable service to the world, but also thereby demonstrate a greater fidelity to the fullness of the Christian message: a message that avoids extremes while still holding fast to very important and undeniably applicable principles of action.

Fr. Eric Gilbaugh is the Parochial Vicar at the Cathedral of St. Helena in Helena, Montana. He may be reached at

Learn more about The Student Adocates for Valuing the Environment Foundation, 501(c)(3) at

Friday, July 07, 2006

Electrons Recycling Events in Montana this Summer!

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality and a variety of other entities around the state have been partnering to bring Electronics Recycling (also known as E-Waste) to Montana this summer.

Upcoming events include:

- Kalispell on July 15,
- Butte on August 24,
- and Missoula on July 29.

Whitefish had a collection event in May.

S.A.V.E. is working with D.E.Q. to finalize a date for a collection event in Helena this September. The E-waste collection includes old computers, monitors, televisions, phones, and more. Media cds will be recycled for free, but most other items will include a fee.

- The S.A.V.E. Foundation, 501(c)(3),

Sustainablity Fair this Saturday, July 8, in Livingston, MT

S.A.V.E. will be providing recycling and Biodiesel demonstration this Saturday, July 8th, at the Livingston Sustainability Fair. A crew of S.A.V.E. volunteers will run 100% Biodiesel to the event and setup an exhibit for the entire day. Learn more about the fair from the host, the Corporation for the Northern Rockies.

- The S.A.V.E. Foundation, 501(c)(3),

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Welcome to the S.A.V.E.'s online blog for News & Events about Recycling, Biodiesel, Conservation and other Daily Habits to better value the environment in Montana.

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