Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2010: will you be greener?

Going Green DC (Washington, DC) gives 10 tips for a greener 2010:
1. Grow your own fruits and vegetables. No yard? A yard-sharing program matches people who have land with people who have a green thumb but no place to use it.

2. Get involved in a community garden or volunteer at one like Common Good City Farm.

3. Walk more, use public transportation, and consider buying or renting a bike.

4. Buy local ingredients whenever possible from farmer’s markets and other small purveyors.

5. Remember to bring reusable bags to the grocery store. The 5 cent plastic bag fee goes into effect January 1. (in DC)

6. Plant a tree in your backyard.

7. Reduce organic waste by learning how to compost.

8. Replace regular lightbulbs with energy-saving compact florescent lightbulbs, turn off lights when not in use, reduce the thermostat.

9. Stop buying bottled water and get yourself a chic stainless steel bottle instead.

10. Support environmentally friendly local businesses as much as possible.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Right to dry movement gains steam

The New York Times reports:
According to Alexander Lee of Project Laundry List, a group that supports hang-drying laundry over using an energy-intensive machines, a law went into effect last week in Vermont that prevents groups like homeowners associations from banning clotheslines.

Colorado also approved “right-to-dry” provisions last year, said Mr. Lee, and Maine is currently voting on similar legislation.

In Hawaii, a bill that would allow homeowners to hang their laundry on clotheslines — albeit with some limitations — is awaiting action by Gov. Linda Lingle — although she vetoed a similar bill last year. Florida has the oldest right-to-dry law in the country, according to Mr. Lee.

“A clothesline is not a solar panel or a Prius — it’s something that everyone can afford,” Mr. Lee — who hauls his own wet clothes back from the laundromat in order to dry them on a line — told my colleague Elisabeth Rosenthal last year, when she reported on Ontario’s right-to-dry debate.

Shortly thereafter, Ontario’s premier overruled local bans on hang-drying.

As Calvin Maeda, the manager of the Mililani Town Association in Hawaii told The Honolulu Star Bulletin, opposition to line-drying has often come from neighbors who don’t want “to be looking at somebody’s underwear out of the kitchen window.”

Friday, April 17, 2009

Spring green cleaning and growing green

Ideal Bite sends daily tips on greener living. Or read the blog here

Some gardening tips:
* Planting onions and garlic to ward off certain pests.
* Using a small container of beer to trap slugs; apparently slugs like beer.
* Placing cucumber peels next to the place where ants are invading your home and garden.
* Using catnip to repel cockroaches.
* Planting marigolds and chrysanthemums; these flowers are natural bug repellents.
* While you are outside enjoying your garden, light a citronella candle; this will ward off mosquitoes.

Go Green Online offers the top 10 things you can do for the planet:
The top 10 things you can do as an individual to make changes for a more sustainable planet.
Home Energy:
Adjust Thermostat and Water Heater Settings: These are the biggest energy users in the home
When you're heating or cooling, make sure your doors and windows are sealed
Check the refrigerator: It's the number one appliance for energy use

Zero Waste
Comprehensively recycle your paper, glass, aluminum and plastics
Compost all food waste - don't let it into the trash
When you shop, go for zero waste packaging (cut plastics, non-recyclables)
Stop drinking bottled water! Carry your own.

Set a target to reduce gasoline consumption (10%? 20%? 30%?) by driving less, combining trips, car pooling and driving and maintaining your car for efficiency

Shorten your showers by 2 to 5 minutes
Stop running the water for cool drinking water, warm water, shaving, brushing teeth

Also making changes room by room, step by step here.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

End of maple syrup?

TreeHugger reports the possible end of Maple Syrup.
Having lived in the northeastern U.S. for some time before moving to Quebec, certainly some of the best things in these parts include colourful fall foliage and tons of locally-harvested maple syrup. Sadly, thanks to increasingly ‘weird’ and warming weather, the long-standing tradition and $65 million business of “maple sugaring” in the northeastern U.S. is in danger of becoming a historical footnote.

It’s because the cycles of what is called ‘cold recharge’ – where weeks of below-freezing temperatures, followed by warmer temperatures – are shortening to the point where sugar maples are not producing the sap which is later boiled down to make maple syrup.

It this recharge cycle which allows the sap in sugar maples’ limbs to turn to ice, creating an area of lower pressure which in turn pulls up more sap into the frozen areas from the roots up. In this state, the trees convert their stored starches into sucrose that will fuel spring budding. As the warming weather melts the sap ice, liquid sap is pushed in all directions. All one has to do is drill a hole for the sap to flow.

But for some places in the Northeast, the sugar-tapping season is either getting shorter and shorter, sometimes lasting only a week, as it did in Quebec last year.

"This is a weather-related industry," says Sam Cutting, owner of Dakin Farm in Vermont and who has been in the sugar business for 40 years. "There are always problems in the maple industry: gypsy moths, floods, droughts."

Read more here

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Like a prayer: sisters go green

Ideal Bite reports on the Community of the Holy Spirit in NYC and their efforts to be a "green community" in the midst of the city:
If you see the devoutly green sisters from the Community of the Holy Spirit down on their knees prayin' to Madonna (not that one), give 'em a holy high five. These Episcopalian nuns have been buying local, organic food; composting; and hosting a Freecycle-type share program for years, but this month, they've got something else under their organic cotton habits - a new eco convent in Harlem. Sister Faith Margaret takes us there….

Can you tell us about your new eco convent?
SFM: Our building is bigger than we need. The possibilities for a smaller one have been in the works for 5 years. It'll have low-VOC paint and carpeting, water heated by solar power, a rainwater collection, and a green roof…it's my favorite part – like having a park on our roof.

How do you get around the city?
SFM: We walk everywhere, mostly. We got rid of our car years ago and we're a lot better off ecologically and financially without one. When we need to travel further, which isn’t very often, we use Zipcar.

Read more here

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Earth Hour 2009

Switch off your lights for one hour - vote for earth!

Go here for more information.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Going green for Lent

Interfaith Power and Light has suggestions for a greener Lent:
Buy more locally produced food. You can reduce emissions from transportation by buying from farmers markets and eating foods in season rather than foods shipped in from around the globe.

Use alternative transportation to work, school, or your place of worship. This is a good way to slow down and find a few extra minutes for contemplation during Lent.

Eat less meat. Reducing the amount of meat you consume, even just one day a week, will make a difference in your carbon footprint.

Turn down your thermostat. Grab a blanket and add an extra layer of clothing. Even one degree lower will add up to big energy savings.

Try a media fast. It can be very rewarding to turn off televisions, computers, and radios a few nights a week and sit down to a board game with your family.

More ideas here.