From Rain Barrels and Recycling to Walking and Buying Second-Hand Clothes,
“The Nalgene Least Wasteful City Study” Puts Top 25 Metros Under Scrutiny for Wasteful Behavior

With thrift and conservation on the minds of many Americans, a new study put the spotlight on wasteful behavior in our nation’s cities. “The Nalgene Least Wasteful City Study” ranked 23 waste-focused habits of urban Americans, from recycling, to using public transportation, to shutting off the lights when leaving the room.  When the results were tallied, San Francisco earned the title of America’s Least Wasteful City, while Atlanta ranked last in the study.

Other cities at the top of the least wasteful list are New York (2), Portland, OR (3) and Seattle (4). In addition to Atlanta, Dallas (24), Indianapolis (23), Houston (22) and St. Louis (21) were in the bottom five of those surveyed. Individuals can visit  for complete rankings or to the take the survey themselves.

Surprisingly, in trying economic times, frugality isn’t the leading factor motivating Americans to change wasteful ways.  In fact, over half surveyed (57 percent) cited “that it is our responsibility to ensure the health of our planet for future generations” as the motivation for changing behavior, followed by “it makes financial sense” (22 percent).

The study was commissioned by Nalgene, the leading manufacturer of reusable water bottles, as part of its FilterForGood campaign, an ongoing partnership with Brita to encourage less wasteful behavior.

“This study highlights habits that our society has adopted out of convenience, but on a whole can have a huge impact on the sustainability of the planet,” said Eric Hansen, Sr. Business Manager, Nalgene-Outdoor. “Clearly, some cities are ahead of others when it comes to changing our approach to wastefulness in our actions big and small, but there’s room for all to improve.”

The study questioned 3,750 individuals living in the top 25 largest U.S. cities, gauging behavior on waste, sustainability, shopping, transportation and more. The results were weighted to give more credit to behaviors that had immediate and significant impact on the planet (e.g., driving less, recycling or reducing trash) to small habits that are more indicative of a mindset and non-wasteful approach to life (e.g., reusing containers, limiting shower time or saving wrapping paper and ribbons).

Survey Says: Environmental Efforts Need to be Easy and Convenient … and Save Money
Results show that with the exception of recycling (the 5th top least wasteful behavior), urban Americans are more readily embracing small, everyday habits to cut waste: (1= Never; 10 = Always/Without Fail):

Save leftover food/meals to eat again 8.58
Shut off lights when not in the room 8.48
Turn off water when brushing teeth 7.22
Use energy efficient light bulbs 7.16
Recycle glass/metal/plastics on a regular basis 6.87

The study also suggests that convenience is trumping prudence when it comes to significant wasteful behavior including transportation and personal conservation efforts (average score, 1= Never; 10 = Always/Without Fail):

Avoiding drying clothes in an electric or gas clothes dryer 2.05
Use a rain barrel 2.13
Compost my fruit and vegetable scraps 3.15
Take public transportation 3.37
Drive my car for trips that are less than two miles from home 3.73


  • San Francisco led the way in many categories, and was best overall at recycling, reusing wrapping paper, turning off the water to brush teeth and not using cars for short trips from home.
  • Less is Best in the West. San Francisco, Portland and Seattle are among the top four in practicing least wasteful behaviors.
  • NYC’s Surprising Hot Commodity, Rain Water. New York, coming in as the second least wasteful city in the U.S., is the only east coast city to rank in the top seven. They rank number one at collecting rain fall by using a rain barrel and taking public transportation. Los Angeles comes in second for using a rain barrel.
  • Second-Hand Style Doesn’t Work in Beantown. Not many Bostonians are wearing second-hand outfits or sitting on used couches these days. Boston comes in last at buying second-hand, followed by New Yorkers. Portland is the best at second-hand shopping.
  • The Heartland Loves Local Libraries. Clevelanders love their local libraries, coming in number one for borrowing books from the library.
  • Hot Enough for Ya? Miami is the worst at avoiding the purchase of bottled water.
  • Last Night’s Noshes Loved in Sugar Land. Houston loves leftovers, coming in as the best at saving leftovers to eat again. However, their neighbors in Dallas are not so great at saving leftovers

Sixty-three percent of respondents said they are already living a somewhat eco-friendly lifestyle; while 85 percent plan on being more environmentally conscious in the next year.

  • Electric Shock: Two-thirds (65 percent) will shut the lights off when not in the room and 65 percent will use energy efficient light bulbs
  • Around the House: More than half (56 percent) will recycle more and turn off the water when brushing their teeth (both 56 percent), while 57 percent will save leftover food to eat again
  • At the Market: More than one-third (38 percent) will avoid using bottled water, opting instead for reusable containers. Half (56 percent) plan on using reusable grocery bags
  • Walk the Line: One-third plan to forgo the car for trips less than two miles from home

For information on how to rate your own least wasteful behavior and to find out how your city can make a small change towards a big difference by adopting reusable water bottles in place of disposable, single serve bottled water, visit and

About Nalgene Outdoor
Nalgene Outdoor Products is based in Rochester, New York. Founded in 1949 as a manufacturer of the first plastic pipette holder, the company soon expanded its product line to include state-of-the-art polyethylene labware under the NALGENE brand.  By the 1970s, outdoor enthusiasts had discovered the taste and odor-resistant, leakproof and rugged properties of NALGENE’s large selection of plastic containers. In response to this emerging demand, the NALGENE Consumer Products Division was formed. For more information, contact NALGENE Consumer Products or visit our website at HYPERLINK “”

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Search engine optimization: as soon as you say it, it evokes the need to call some IT guy who can arcane programming like meta tags. Anything to do with this online marketing voodoo is not for you, right?  Think again.

The web has long been the first stop for information for most Americans, and for that matter, folks worldwide.  Google outpaces any network for reach and influence, and if handled correctly, connects you directly with someone looking for just what you have to offer.  You say you’ve got it covered with Google Adwords? Think again…again.

These days, if marketers and PR pros don’t fully understand natural language search engine optimization, you are dangerously out of touch (though in the vast majority, so don’t panic yet).  In short, this is the the emerging communications practice of offsite search optimization. It’s also know as SEO PR, Ambient Content, and other home-made names.  In short, it’s using RSS press releases and content to capture attention at the critical moment of search, while also boosting search rankings by securing incoming links from authoritative sites. Read more

Advertising and PR agencies like ours have changed the way we communicate, adding things like search engine marketing, social media promotions, blogging and lots of other direct-to-consumer communications. It’s to the point that literally half of our PR services have nothing to do with media relations.  In fact, it’s hard to tell where our advertising campaigns end and our PR tactics begin.  It’s all intertwined in one platform of online and offline communications.

This is great, but there’s a creeping issue of intergity as the filter of established media outlets weakens.

Consider this: last week, the Seattle Times closed, and venerable papers across the country are teetering on the edge of the abyss. And it’s not just newspapers, Best Life magazine shudders in May what I’m sure will be a series of glossy periodical closures in the next 36 months.

True, this is largely economic fallout, but there’s something more afoot as corporate self-publishing bypasses the media with RSS releases with embedded video and links, and microsites promotions become our standard form of campaigning. The balance of objectivity is in danger if becoming severely out of whack.

Good online marketers know that overly commercial messages on the Internet are useless.  But insidious spin can be even more dangerous, and not just to readers.  Nothing will kill a company faster on the Net than dishonesty.

So PR and advertising agencies turn more to RSS, microsite campaigning, social media PR and even search engine optimization, the entire profession needs to step back and take a long, cool drink of integrity.  

This new Wild West of public relations is a dangerous place. In the past, a curt “no thanks” from a journalist only hurt the ego.  As we wade directly into the waters of public opinion, the rip tide of objectivity will churn with considerably more power and wrath.

Consider this the next time you’re about to hit “post”.  We’re counting on you.

For our PR agency, the recent closing of Best Life is tough to take.  Our approach to media relations is just that: RELATIONS.  So when a group of good people that do great work lose their jobs, it just stinks.

This is the case with Best Life.  Every month, that magazine was filled with much more content than they needed to give the reader, especially these days when most are cutting back on reporting.  But Best Life put out a quality product, and did it all with honestly and a rye sense of humor.  What’s more, it seemed from the outside that they were still attracting the advertisers.

But as America changes its view of consumerism before our eyes, it’s becoming harder and harder to find a safe place in style and luxury.  And as advertisers sit on the sidelines, the collateral damage becomes real.

And in the end, we lose an effective medium to communicate with young men, already a difficult demographic to reach.

So we wish the entire staff good fortune in a time when it seems fortune is harder to come by.

This is the second of three entries on Word of Mouth techniques for PR agencies and professionals. In the last entry, I talked about the first word of mouth tool, guerilla marketing. Today, it’s the publicity stunt. Granted, one could argue that they are very similar, but in my book there is one basic, but important difference: the stunt is about media coverage, including consumer generated media.

A stunt is an unabashed and often brazen play for publicity. Again, Red Bull has a great example: the Flutag. Otherwise normal, semi-emotionally balanced folk leaping from great heights in a hilarious, self-effacing attempt to fly on contraptions of their own design. You can’t help but look, and it makes great TV.

Stunts are easy to spot: skydivers, streakers, even the ol’DJ-on-the-billboard are stunt stereotypes. But to be successful, stunts have to do more than just grab attention. They must create compelling images, a can’t miss photo op. TV and print photo editors think of what looks good on the screen or a page, and it doesn’t always need to be outrageous.

Before baseball player Johnny Damon defected from the Red Sox to the Yankees, Gillette had extensive coverage for the launch of its new razor thank to him. Johnny agreed to shave his Grizzly Adams beard in public for a local charity. Complete with attractive female barbers (it’s a man’s razor, after all), they captured the city’s attention. Johnny’s clean-shaven face looked great on the evening news, leading all to believe that the M3Power must be one helluva razor.

But the best part of stunts these days? You don’t need the traditional media to be successful. We have YouTube. Still, it’s a crowded viral world out there. To be successful, you should the same press-savvy thinking to your viral videos as (good) PR pros have for years with the Stunt.

And in a shameless plug, check out a video of a stunt my firm, CBC, did for Nantucket Nectars back in 2004 when the Red Sox won the World Series. The World’s Largest Thank You Card brought thousands together from around New England, and made it all the way to the network news. Enjoy!

Next Up: Grassroots marketing.