Some suggestions from the Treehugger online blog/e newsletter.USA focussed.
Category: take action
:: ::The Slate Green Challenge: Week 7 - Water
December 8, 2006 9:30 AM - Brittany Jacobs, Seattle
Struggling with high energy bills? Your home water heater could be the culprit, as it accounts for approximately 14 percent of your energy usage. If your gas water heater is more than 10 years old, you might consider replacing it. A water heater that old might be operating at less than 50 percent efficiency! Consider replacing it with an energy-efficient tank or a heater without a tank, which warms up water only when you need it.
For more ways to reduce your carbon emissions and your bills, head over to The Slate Green Challenge with Treehugger. Almost 30,000 readers have pledged to reduce their collective emissions by 20 percent. After you take the initial carbon footprint quiz, we will provide you with information that ranges from transportation to holiday shopping and ways to reduce your impact through each of these activities. The first 500 lucky challengers will walk away with a new t-shirt from our friends and sponsors at Iâm Organic. ::Slate Green Challenge Welcome ::Slate Green Challenge Week 7: Water
:: Composting Green Map of Manhattan Debuts 12/9
December 7, 2006 1:07 PM - Celine Ruben-Salama, New York, NY
worms_in_green_apple.jpgNew York city produces a lot of waste; 4 pounds per person per day by some measures. With about 8 million inhabitants that makes roughly 16,000 tons of garbage per day! According to The Big Green Apple, 4 per cent of that waste is compostable. But where oh where are all the compost heaps? Find out this Saturday, December 9, 2006, as the brand new Composting Green Map of Manhattan makes its debut with a celebration at the Union Square Greenmarket from noon until 2pm.
Created by Green Map System and Lower East Side Ecology Center, this pocket-size map shows you where to take your kitchen scraps and organic waste so it can be composted and naturally recycled into rich soil, along with resources so you can start your own composting project at home. A complete list of compostable items is included, too! Get your free copy there or download it here!
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:: One Bag at a Time....
December 7, 2006 12:03 PM - Kenny Luna, North Babylon, NY
Hanover High School students in Hanover, NH have decided to help protect their environment by taking on the challenge of convincing consumers in their town to switch from disposable shopping bags to reusable ones...
The whole project sprang out of a family trip one of the kids took to Australia, where they learned about a similar grass-roots project that spread in that country, and helped to cut the use of disposable shopping bags from 6 billion/year down to 2.5 billion/year just three years into the program. These kids in New Hampshire are hoping to start a similar grass-roots movement here in the US, and they've already convinced local co-ops to purchase and sell 5,000 of the bags beginning in January. The bags, which are a bright green color with the slogan "Caring for the environment, one bag at a time." printed on them retail for only a buck a piece... A far cry from the $8 to $13 retailers in their area now charge for reusable cloth bags.
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:: The One Ton CO2 Project
December 6, 2006 12:37 PM - Collin Dunn, Seattle
Founded to raise awareness about global warming and support regional carbon offset efforts, the One Ton CO2 project has designed a line of t-shirts whose sale helps them offset carbon emissions. They purchase carbon offsets from the Chicago Climate Exchange, who sell credits of third-party-verified carbon dioxide reductions that have been quantified in metric tons. The One Ton CO2 project buys them, and retires one metric ton of CO2 for each t-shirt (using American Apparel's organic t's) that is sold. T-shirt owners can then register themselves online, becoming part of a community dedicated to reducing CO2 emissions. Recognizing that selling t-shirts will not save the world alone, and that conservation and reduction is as important (if not more) than offsetting, they note that by combining simple things like eating meat-free meals every other day, parking the car for 60 days this year and walking, cycling, or taking public transit instead and switching from hot to warm or cold water for every load of laundry will also collectively save a ton (literally) of CO2. So will switching two standard incandescent light bulbs to more efficient fluorescent bulbs, replacing a showerhead with a low-flow model, turning the thermostat down two degrees for one year and cutting vehicle fuel use by 10 gallons in one year, and that's just the beginning. Like cultural icons like Lance Armstrong's LIVESTRONG bracelet and the red ribbon for AIDS awareness, physical artifacts such as these have the opportunity to not only contextualize a sometimes paralyzing issue and further a global conversation about a global problem, but to help do something about it at the same time. If that helps bring more people to the fight against global warming, then it's a very good thing. ::One Ton CO2 via ::Hugg (rrichards)
:: TreeHugger Picks: Cut Back on Phantom Power
December 6, 2006 10:44 AM - Collin Dunn, Seattle
Call it what you will: phantom load, idle current, vampire power, wall wart; they're all euphemisms for the way devices use and waste electricity when they aren't even on, and they're everywhere. Here are some ways to save some bucks and carbon emissions and gain some peace of mind by eliminating unnecessary power use in your home.
1) Devices like the Kill-a-Watt and Wattson can point you to devices that attract the largest load, leading you to get...
2) A "smart" power strip like the Wattstopper Plug Load Control and Smart Strip Power Strip, that cut the power when your devices are off.
3) The Mini Power Minder has the smarts to shut off your computerâs peripherals and doodads when the computer itself is shut down.
4) Simply unplugging things like your cell phone charger, which is only in use a few minutes per day, will make a bigger difference than you'd think.
5) See How to Green Your Electricity to learn more about keeping phantoms, vampires and warts out of your electrical life.
:: ::The Slate Green Challenge
December 6, 2006 9:30 AM - Brittany Jacobs, Seattle
You might be surprised to find out that using your dishwasher is typically more efficient than handwashing those dirty dishes. Washing your dishes by hand uses an average of 10 to 15 gallons of water, while automatic dishwashers use around 8 gallons. When you use your dishwasher, make sure the energy-saver option is on and wait to run the dishwasher until it is full. If you rely on old-fashioned elbow grease to wash your dishes, try to turn off the water while youâre scrubbing. This will not only save gallons of unused water but also cut back on your utility bills.
To learn how your water usage and other daily activities relate to your carbon emissions, head over to The Slate Challenge with Treehugger. Join the 29,292 people who have pledged to reduce our collective CO2 emissions by 20 percent. It all starts with a carbon footprint quiz and continues with information on how to reduce your impact on the Earth. If you are one of the first 500 lucky challengers to complete the challenge, you could walk away with a brand-spanking new t-shirt from our sponsors at Iâm Organic. ::Slate Green Challenge Welcome ::Slate Green Challenge Week 7: Water
:: Go Before You Go?
December 5, 2006 11:15 AM - Alex Pasternack, Beijing, China
thflush.jpg We know that flying is quite a dirty business, but what about doing your own business at 30,000 feet? China Southern airline recently raised the question when it gently requested that passengers use the restroom prior to boarding, as Xinhua news agency reported last week.
Before some of you get your panties all in a twist over the thought of avoiding the airplane lavatory, listen to Captain Liu Zhiyuan: "The energy used in one flush is enough for an economical car to run at least 10 kilometers." The motivation behind the airline's restroom request is economic--not unlike the airline industry everywhere else, China's airlines flushed 3 billion yuan away in the first half of the year due to rising fuel costs. But the environmental cost of mile-high poop is also more than just a drop in the toilet. Consider that a transatlantic flight for a family of four already creates more CO2 than that family would generate at home in an entire year, and that burning airplane fuel has a global warming effect 2.7 times your typical ground-based release of CO2. While the vacuum toilets used on airplanes are already pretty water-efficient, based on China Southern's figures (1 liter of fuel/flush) and the altitude effect, the CO2 released by these toilets per flush is about 14.27 pounds. We knew in-flight bathrooms were kinda dirty, but not this dirty.
: : People's Daily Online
:: Tax Credits for Energy-Efficient Home Improvements
December 5, 2006 11:04 AM - Collin Dunn, Seattle
We've noted before that buying things like hybrid cars and solar energy systems can save you cash on your taxes, but there are lots of other ways to knock a few bucks off your taxes with smaller, less-costly home upgrades that offer tax credits, thanks to the Energy Policy Act of 2005. For example, you can claim 10% of your cost, up to $500, for adding insulation (like the trio we just featured that's expected to last at least five years or has a two year warranty. Skylights, exterior windows and storm windows will also net you a 10% (up to $200) rebate, and the list goes on to include qualifying metals roofs, central air conditioning, furnaces and hot water heaters and more. Check out Energy Star's matrix of tax savings, and take note that many expire at the end of next year. If home improvement is in your future (or in the recent past, and you have your receipts), be sure to take advantage of the program that'll save you money, energy and a little bit of the planet as well. ::Energy Star via ::Motley Fool and ::Hugg (linton)
:: The TH Interview: Penny Eastwood of Treesponsibility
December 5, 2006 9:42 AM - Treehugger Interns
Treesponsibility%20penny.JPGA little while back we alerted readers to a tree planting event in the West Yorkshire village of Hebden Bridge in the UK. Under the banner of Treesponsibility, a group of local residents have been responding to severe flooding by reforesting the watershed above their town. In so doing, they hope to bring about "climate change of a different kind", as they encourage people to take responsibility for their own carbon emissions. They have also played an important role in defeating plans for an open-cast mine, and they are currently opposing the expansion of aviation capacity in the area. TreeHugger recently attended one of their plantings, and took some time out to chat with Penny Eastwood (pictured), one of the key people behind the organization. In this interview, she sheds a little more light on the ambition of the group and their strategic vision for the valley.
The site for the weekendâs planting is a sloped field, kindly donated by a local farmer. The plan is to get 1000 trees in the ground here. While this sounds like a lot, the group always plants a minimum of 10,000 trees in every growing season, and they are envisioning a 25 year program of planting that will transform the valley. A group of about 40 people have gathered, some local, some from further afield, and they are busy clearing turf, planting saplings and carefully mulching them while being battered by the strong West Yorkshire winds. Looking over the landscape, it is clear why tree planting is so important, as Penny explains:
âThe most important thing is to think where we are in terms of the island that we live on. We are very close to the main Penine watershed. Because we live in these narrow, funnelling valleys, when we get intense storms this becomes a very dramatic area. Soil washes down, rubble washes down, and water washes off the hills.â
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:: ::The Slate Green Challenge: Week 7 - Water
December 4, 2006 11:40 AM - Brittany Jacobs, Seattle
061023_green_water.jpg If you are using a conventional showerhead with an optional flow restrictor, you can save more water and substantially improve the quality of your shower with the purchase of a high-performance showerhead. Efficient showerheads, which you can find for less than $20, you can cut your water usage by 25â75 percent without sacrificing the quality of your shower. However, the cheapest and easiest solution for improving your water efficiency is to cut down on your shower time. The shorter your shower, the more CO2 youâll save from heating the water, as showers account for two-thirds of all water heating costs.
Surf over to Slate to check out this week's installment of The Green Challenge, all about one of our most precious commodities - water. Haven't hopped on the bandwagon yet? You can start anytime with our carbon footprint quiz and join the pledge to drop a collective 20 percent of our CO2 emissions. The first 500 lucky challengers to complete the challenge win a T-shirt from our friends and sponsors over at I'm Organic. ::Slate Green Challenge Welcome ::Slate Green Challenge Week 7: Water
:: The Complaints Choirs of The World
December 1, 2006 11:40 AM - Karin Kloosterman, Tel Aviv
Art therapists would agree. No better way to get out your pent up âgreenâ frustrations than by finding an artistic outlet. Thatâs why we love the idea of belting out one's environmental pet peeves by way of song. Global Warming got you down? Wish your city had better recycling programs or more bike lanes? These are some of the issues that the Complaints Choir of Helsinki and the Complaints Choir of Birmingham are singing about. While the Birmingham group are easier to understand, we think complaints sound way funnier in Finnish:
You can't get rich by working
And love doesn't last forever
In the public sauna they never ask
If it's ok to throw water on the stove
Old forests are cut down and made into toilet paper
And still all the toilets are always out of paper...
Maybe its time for TreeHuggers everywhere to unite and start our very own choir?
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:: Ecosa Institute: Enrolling Now for a Sustainable Future
December 1, 2006 10:30 AM - Collin Dunn, Seattle
Over TreeHugger's relatively short but fast-paced life, it has been amazing to watch as sustainability has really begun to enter the collective conscious of the mainstream world. While we like to think we've played a part in this, it's really the work of people like Tony Brown and the Ecosa Institute (see our interview with Tony here) who give us stuff to write about. The Ecosa Institute is fostering a new, very TreeHugger design philosophy based on nature, and they want to teach it to you! They're doing fabulous work teaching the next generation of architects, designers and other professionals working with built environments that sustainability and design are not only no longer mutually exclusive, but totally complementary. The Ecosa Program is also a career exploration program, where students get an example of what it's like to work on real projects in a professional setting, as well as get exposure to the various professional options that a career in sustainability can provide. Concepts on the syllabus include passive solar design, permaculture, site assessment, alternative materials and their selection, and active solar design. For non-architects and architects alike, the work exemplifies holistic thinking in action, as well as reveals the challenges and rewards of creating feasible, practicable change for a sustainable society. We highly recommend the program to anyone interested in sustainable design; enrollment for the Spring semester is open now, and that one semester will change your whole career. For more information on the program and enrollment, visit the website; check out some examples of student work: affordable townhomes in Phoenix, an entry into the Cradle-to-Cradle home competition and some urban renewal in downtown Prescott. ::Ecosa Institute
:: ::Deck The Halls With The Slate Green Challenge
December 1, 2006 9:30 AM - Brittany Jacobs, Seattle
Looking for the perfect holiday gift that doesnât increase your carbon footprint? Giving gifts such as concert tickets, music lessons, and restaurant gift certificates do not require gift-wrapping and use minimal resources. Treehuggerâs list of holiday gift certificates might give you a few ideas as you search for ways to give consciously this holiday season.
For more ways to reduce your impact, check out The Slate Green Challenge with Treehugger. With information on topics such as water, electricity, holidays, and heating, you are sure to shave off a few extra CO2 lbs this season. It all starts with a carbon footprint quiz and the goal is to end with a 20 percent collective reduction of our carbon emissions. Be one of the first 500 to complete the challenge and get a free t-shirt from our sponsors at Iâm Organic. ::Slate Green Challenge Welcome ::Slate Green Challenge Week 6: Holidays
:: The Green Zebra Guide: Helping San Francisco Go Greener
November 30, 2006 10:30 AM - Collin Dunn, Seattle
Hot on the heels of yesterday's post about Let's Green This City comes another resource for TreeHuggers in San Francisco. The Green Zebra guide is a directory, coupon book and educational resource all in one for Bay-area dwellers who want to live a little greener. It includes dozens of environmentally-conscious and community-oriented businesses, and offers deals on their products and services. Inside, you'll find 250 exclusive offers from organic restaurants and markets, eco-friendly retailers, spas, Yoga and Pilates studios, independent bookstores, bike shops, museums and more, so thereâs something for just about everyone. Knowing that we can't shop our way to sustainability, Green Zebra can also answer many of your questions about living green in the city. Searching for a nearby Farmersâ Market? Not sure where to dispose of batteries and light bulbs? These questions and more can be answered with the links in their resource section. The book, which is printed on 100% recycled paper (98% post-consumer recycled) processed chlorine-free, goes for $25 and offers over $12,000 in savings; buy it from the website or from any number of area retailers. ::The Green Zebra Guide via ::Green Girls Global
:: A Year of Living Generously
November 30, 2006 8:46 AM - Collin Dunn, Seattle
A Year of Living Generously started as an online experiment based on a hunch: that looking after this planet and its people is what we are all here for, and, that if many of us can make small changes in our everyday choices, then over time we can make a big difference for everyone. It's a very nice-sounding idea, if maybe a little chimeric, but it worked well enough that after a trial period (one year), the 100 people living "more generously" grew to the next prescribed level of 300; with a sizable wait-list, everyone was invited to join, and the community is now over 1000 and keeps on growing. So, what is living "more generously"? Turn off the tap while cleaning your teeth, compost, switched to an ethical bank, offset your travel, try to shop locally; some are easy (take a minute to sign up online as an organ donor), some are a bit of a hassle (switching to an ethical bank) and others might be impractical and are definitely a challenge (getting rid of your car). Through it all, take note with the virtual community; not only does the collaborative process reinforce and support generous behavior, but it's full of new ideas. Actions currently at the top of the list include bringing your own shopping bags, unplug your chargers when not in use, and using planet-friendly home cleaning products; all things we can all do (even without working too hard), all things that can really add up. Membership is free, and has spread throughout the UK. ::A Year of Living Generously via ::Hippypshopper
:: Let's Green This City: San Francisco's Online Green Community
November 29, 2006 10:47 AM - Collin Dunn, Seattle
Living green can mean so many things, from biking to work to using solar power. LetsGreenThisCity.com provides info on all points in between for San Francisco, from sustainable businesses to solar schools to making life more sustainable around your home and at work. TreeHugger's own Nick Aster is on board, providing helpful hints and resources for ways to be green in the city by the bay. The site also offers a forum for Bay Area users to sound off about all the green options available around town. Yet another great example that you can be green at home, at work, on the go, with your dollars and with your time. Click on over to see what's happening; if you're in San Francisco, sign up to contribute to the forums, learn more about your city, and lend your knowledge about getting greener to your fellow Bay Area TreeHuggers. ::Let's Green This City via ::Sustainable Style Foundation's online sourcebook
:: ::The Slate Green Challenge
November 29, 2006 9:30 AM - Brittany Jacobs, Seattle
Opening up holiday gifts can be fun and exciting, but all of that wrapping paper helps add to the 1 million extra tons of trash that is created during the holiday season. If every American household wrapped three gifts in recycled materials, we could save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields! You can help cut down the amount of garbage you send to the landfill by reusing old wrapping paper, gift bags or boxes. Be creative this season by covering your presents in nonconventional gift wrap such as old maps, the Sunday comics or cloth. If can't live without purchasing new gift wrap, try to buy recycled paper or tree-free paper made from hemp or flax.
28,541 people have joined the Slate Green Challenge with TreeHugger in a pledge to reduce their carbon emissions by twenty percent. Itâs not too late to join us! Start with an initial carbon footprint quiz and we will then provide you with information on how to reduce your impact on the Earth. Be one of the first 500 and receive a Slate/Treehugger Green Challenge t-shirt from our friends and sponsors at I'm Organic. ::Slate Green Challenge Welcome ::Slate Green Challenge Week 6: Holiday
:: Downsizer.net: How to Cut Back Without Losing Out
November 28, 2006 10:34 AM - Collin Dunn, Seattle
Anyone who has read TreeHugger with any regularity or has pondered ways to live without consuming quite so much stuff has also probably thought of downsizing: their home, their food, their transportation, energy use, etc. Anyone who has done (or considered doing) any of these things will find Downsizer.net a valuable resource; from articles on growing your own food, creating a more sustainable home and following a greener path, the site has information for a wide variety of lifestyle choices, as well as a user forum to bounce ideas off other downsizers, get inspired by others' efforts and offer your suggestion for ways to enhance your life by decreasing your ecological footprint and collection of stuff. Want to know some cool Christmas card alternatives? How about learning more about how to cook, brew and preserve at home? Even if you just want to try a few things out, Downsizer.net can be a resource for cutting back without losing valuable parts of your life. ::Downsizer via ::Hugg (Chickpea)
:: Tip the Planet: Green Wiki for Taking Action
November 27, 2006 2:50 PM - Collin Dunn, Seattle
tiptheplanet-wiki.jpgLike the Green Wiki and gWiki before it, Tip the Planet uses the power of community to encourage discussion and the generation of tips that benefit you and the planet. From tips for individuals about staying happy and healthy to tips for multi-national companies to limit their carbon footprints, Tip the Planet takes the increasingly popular Wiki format and specializes it for the activism-oriented. In addition to the tip itself, Tip the Planet puts its stamp on the Wiki format by fostering online discussions about the tips provided, allowing users to spend their two cents on why you shouldn't leave devices on standby and weigh in on the benefits of using energy-saving lightbulbs. Perhaps the best part is that it will continue to grow, change and become more sophisticated in subject matter and depth of coverage, reflecting the growth in green as it continues to make inroads into the mainstream. Got a hot tip? Share it with the Tip the Planet community, and you'll be helping people go a little greener everywhere. Thanks to Nick for the tip! ::Tip the Planet
:: Spread the Word on Sustainability: Notodofotofest and Big Noise for Fair Trade
November 27, 2006 11:09 AM - Paula Alvarado, Buenos Aires
Two contests oriented to photographers and advertising professionals are taking sustainability as the main theme: Notodofotofest and Make a Big Noise for Make Trade Fair. The first one, is the II Internet Collective Photography Festival, and intends to be âa big mosaic of images that show how we see the world and our societyâ. To participate, you have to send a series of three photographs related among them and -optionally- add a line that tells how or what you see in them. As we mentioned, this year the theme is âSustainability: the balance between society progress and environment protectionâ; and there are more than 40 thousand euros in prizes. This year the festival has also incorporated a section for amateurs. Entries are open until January 21st (more info at their website, in Spanish, but has the English option at the bottom of the page). The second festival, Big Noise For Fair Trade, is a competition open to any creative under 30 years old, and the goal is to create a campaign âthat aims to raise awareness about the iniquities in international trade and pressure governments, companies and institutions to make trade the solution not the source of povertyâ. The campaign must be in non-traditional media, so can encompass live events, virals, websites, consumer-generated content, podcasts, anything that will make the most impact and shout loudest about the issues. Entries will then be judged by a panel of 60 top international judges from the fields of advertising marketing and communication; and winners will have their ideas published worldwide while working with top creatives. Entries for the competition open on December 1st and close on February 9th (more details in the website). ::Notodofotofest ::Make a big Noise