Your green questions answered here!

A so-called progressive Sacramento company had a noon event recently and served lunch on Styrofoam plates. Isn’t this bad stuff? How should I let this company know they’re setting a poor example without sounding like a scolder?

You’re right. Environmentally speaking, polystyrene foam (Styrofoam) is bad stuff! Did you know California’s Integrated Waste Management Board rates it the second-worst contributor, behind aluminum, in energy consumption, greenhouse-gas effects and overall environmental impact? It’s also responsible for the death of thousands of marine animals that consume and choke on its fragmented pieces, is virtually non-biodegradable and leaches into the food and beverages we consume.

Your motivation to spread the news is right on. But before you do, consider your approach. View your proposition to eliminate the use of polystyrene as a solution for this company rather than a criticism. Acknowledge what the company is trying to achieve—in this case maybe it’s a progressive, forward-thinking reputation. Your alternatives to polystyrene may help the organization move closer toward its goal.

Dazzling the company with a few alternative samples may be all the persuasion you need. Here are two companies that offer a variety of affordable and sustainable alternatives to polystyrene. makes plates, bowls, cups, lids, bags and even straws from natural products like vegetable starch and sugarcane. Their finished products look just like paper, plastic and even foam, and hold up just as well. The difference? They’re 100-percent biodegradable and compostable. You can buy a sample kit with two bio cups, a plate, bowl and utensils for $7 and the progressive company can serve their next luncheon on 50 9-inch round plates made from sugarcane for $7.75.

Bambu ( harvests bamboo, one of the fastest-growing grasses, which is quickly becoming a leading natural alternative to timber and petroleum-based products. For an upscale solution to the polystyrene plate, Bambu’s Veneerware offers disposable, biodegradable flatware peeled directly from bamboo stalk. Stop in at your friendly Cost Plus World Market to pick up a pack of eight 9-inch plates for $7.99.

I want to start living a more eco-friendly life. Can you recommend a couple of sources that can help me understand the issues and make smart choices?

You’re asking at a great time of year. Earth Day is celebrated nationally in April and several magazines help to raise eco-awareness by publishing green issues this month. Pick up Vanity Fair’s green issue and Time’s Global Warming Survival Guide: 51 Things You Can Do to Make a Difference. And don’t forget to stop by CSUS on April 22, 2007, for an inspiring Earth Day celebration!