This time of year, the zealous excitement of newly declared New Year’s resolutions may begin to wear off. People begin to realize that, while their goals for the New Year may have been admirable, they have no idea how to accomplish them and begin to waver. Instead of “Hey! How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions?” you start hearing “So how many resolutions have you broken so far?”
One way to ensure that you accomplish your resolutions is to make them practical and enjoyable. Below, we give you suggestions for accomplishing three common New Year’s resolutions and improving not only yourself, but the environment as well.
Resolution #1: Exercise More.
For many, the obvious solution to this resolution is to buy a gym membership.
For some, this option has great appeal – what’s not to love about a dense congregation of machines, sweaty people and protein shakes? For others, this idea may not appeal quite as much as hiking a wilderness trail or kayaking a crystal clear river alongside graceful manatees.
The cost of running in place in that gym – valued anywhere from $250 to $800 per year – may be a deterrent, as well. An Annual Florida State Park Pass costs only $60 per person, per year. You can bring the whole family along for only $120 per year. So save money, have a fit, healthy family and get a better night’s sleep knowing that your new exercise plan is helping to ensure that Florida’s natural areas will be protected for generations to come. Find a Florida State Park near you at FloridaStateParks.org.
Resolution #2: Spend Less and Save More.
There are many different ways to achieve this particular goal. One of the simplest and most earth-friendly methods is to be conscious of your home energy and water use.
We’ve all been told to turn off the water when we brush our teeth and to turn off the lights when we leave a room, going back to elementary school. Of course, the concept seemed more fun than practical at that point. Now that we’ve moved beyond dancing toothbrushes and singing light bulbs, saving water and energy is more than fun— it can also save you cash.
For example, most people don’t realize that they’re wasting electricity by leaving their appliances plugged into a live surge protector at all times. Flipping that little switch while you’re off to work for a few hours can potentially save you 10 percent or more on your utility bill each month, according to the US Department of Energy. Do the math: If your utility bill is $300 per month, you save $30 each month and $360 each year. Similarly, fixing one leaky faucet that drips once per second can save you about 10 percent on your water bill. Learn more about water conservation techniques at the EPA’s Water Sense website.
Resolution #3: Eat Healthier.
Last but certainly not least, let’s explore the concept of eating healthier to benefit yourself and the environment. It may seem like an odd association, but there are innumerable benefits to healthy eating, especially when your healthy food is grown locally.
Purchasing food from a local farmer’s market or food co-op supports a healthy environment by reducing the amount of fossil fuels and packaging materials used to transport and preserve your food; a healthy local economy by supporting local farmers; and a healthy body by supplying truly fresh foods which have not had time to lose any beneficial nutrients. Learn more about the benefits of buying local produce at the Harvard Center for Health and the Global Environment. Once you’ve committed to being a “locavore,” find out how to fix your fresh Floridian foods, by filching a few ideas from the Fresh from Florida blog.
Before embarking upon their next scholastic adventure, back-to-school shopping has become a rite of passage for many students and parents. Based on the estimate that Americans will spend $68 billion on back-to-school supplies in 2011, it seems this time of year is a favorite of both students and retailers who benefit greatly from the annual tradition.
However, a new school year doesn’t have to mean new everything. While some new purchases are necessary, others might be avoided by simply reusing, repurposing or renovating existing supplies — a little creativity can go a long way. Here are some ideas to save money and minimize our environmental impact.
1. Start with a Plan – Determine ahead of time which items are “want” and which are actually “need.” Many schools distribute supply lists. Consult the list to determine the necessary supplies and check to see if you may still have some from last year. And remember, if an extra item is needed during the school year, the stores will still be there.
2. Search for Green Items – The selection of environmentally-friendly writing instruments has never been greater. Biodegradable pencils and refillable pens are great options for students. Recycled pencils and pens are also relatively easy to find. Encouraging your student to use these types of items can help them begin to think more green themselves. Also, look for notebooks, folders and paper made with recycled content.
3. Get the Green Look – A large portion of money and resources spent on going back to school is dedicated to clothes. Why not take a look at thrift stores for great bargains at discount prices? Also, search for quality items that will last throughout the school year instead of the less expensive versions that you may have to buy again during the year, such as backpacks. Next, consider clothing with organic cotton if it is available. This option has seen explosive growth in the last few years and is easier than ever to find.
4. Eat your Greens – Lunches are a perfect opportunity for everyone to reduce their impact on the planet. Ditch the over-packaged snacks and lunch kits in favor of fresh fruits, veggies and lunches that are brought in reusable containers. Greener lunches are not only better for kids, but also for the environment.
Learn more about easy, green actions that you can practice every day.
Florida, Dr. Oz and Easy As One
Evidently, Dr. Oz shares Easy As One goals and will be in Florida collecting expired medications. Camera crews will be in Tampa on August 17, 2011, at Curtis Hixon Park from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. filming. The crew is traveling to multiple cities and each city is going to get rid of something in order to be a healthier city. Tampa is going to get rid of expired medications. The reason will be explained by Dr. Oz on the show. Those attending the filming are encouraged to bring a bottle of expired medication to dispose of in the dump truck that will be on location, but everyone is welcome. The camera crew asks that participants wear plain or solid colored clothing. Logos will not be allowed on camera. If you want to participate in a special on camera message, apply here: http://www.doctoroz.com/the-dr-oz-show-coming-your-city.
Dr. Oz’s Toxic 10 Event Come dump the toxic item Dr. Oz wants out of your home. You may appear on the Dr. Oz show!
When: Wednesday, August 17, between 11 am – 1pm *Come at 10:15 to be a part of a special video message to Dr. Oz.
Where: Curtis Hixon Park- 400 North Ashley Drive, Tampa, FL
What to bring: Expired Medications – prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins or supplements.
Wear bright, solid colors with no labels or logos.
Tell your friends!
Learning one new way to protect air and water quality and reduce waste is easy as stopping by the Go Eco Orlando Green Expo, a one day community event designed to introduce consumers to a variety of eco friendly products, services and resources.
While at the expo, you can find energy and water conservation information, ask Master Gardeners about Florida-friendly planting, attend workshops on solar water heating and electric systems. You can also recycle that old cell phone that’s taking up space in your cabinets or drawers.
DEP’s Easy As One team will be collecting used cell phones and chargers (both working and non-working). Phones will be donated to the 911 Cell Phone Bank where data is cleared, phones are refurbished and sent to law enforcement agencies and victim assistance programs where they are distributed to those who may need emergency communication. Phones that can’t be refurbished will be recycled. Those who bring used cell phones to donate will receive a day pass for free entry into a Florida State Park (while supplies last).
Whether you’re shopping for shoes or shopping for information, you can find it all at the mall.
Go Eco Orlando Green Expo
Saturday, March 19, 2011
10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Orlando Fashion Square
East Colonial at Maguire Rd.
Recent studies say the average shopper spends close to an hour and a half when they visit their local mall. While wandering the corridors on the weekend, they may try on a few clothes, wander through isles of books or grab a slice of pizza or cup of coffee at the food court. On March 12, shoppers in Tallahassee can add protecting the planet to their to-do list for their lazy Saturday.
For the second year, the Department of Environmental Protection’s Easy As One team will be on hand outside the Governor’s Square Mall to give shoppers three easy opportunities to do their part to protect the environment. First from 10 a.m. to noon, free paper shredding and recycling will be offered to help citizens properly dispose of documents they may want securely shredded and responsibly recycled. Second, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the Easy As One team will collect working and nonworking cell phones and chargers for proper recycling, and third, partnering with A Bags Life campaign, they will be collecting all retail plastic bags for recycling.
Even shopaholics who venture outside to the Easy As One collection site can learn just how easy it is for each one of us to make sustainable choices. Those who participate in the cell phone and retail plastic bag recycling will receive a day pass to any Florida State Park or a reusable bag for those days not spent window shopping for new shoes.
You have probably heard the saying, “Many hands make the load light.” When it comes to cleaning up local neighborhoods, it couldn’t be more appropriate. DEP’s Easy As One initiative is teaming up with Keep Tallahassee-Leon County Beautiful to support the 16th Annual Super-Clean Sweep event focused on cleaning up the Tallahassee community. Volunteers will do everything from planting trees, flowers and shrubs to painting over graffiti and, of course, picking up litter. DEP will be on hand at Tallahassee’s Lake Ella on February 26 from 7:30 – 11:00 a.m. to share information regarding the proper disposal of compact fluorescent light, (CFLs), prescription medications and batteries along with other sustainable habits, in an effort to encourage the continuation of good environmental deeds long after the event is over.
Citizens who stop by to drop off unwanted cell phones and retail plastic bags for recycling will receive a free state park day pass, good for a whole carload to any of Florida’s 160 award-winning state parks.
What brings together an environmental agency, law enforcement and a recycling campaign? That would be the Lee County collection events held last week that gave residents an easy way to recycle their old cell phones, retail plastic bags and unwanted medications.
DEP’s Easy As One initiative, along with Lee County Sheriff’s Office ‘Operation Medicine Cabinet’ and A Bag’s Life campaign hosted five events at five locations from February 8 through 12. Expired medications, both prescription and over the counter, along with syringes and other medical supplies were collected by Lee County Sheriffs with astounding results.
According to Stacey Payne, Lee County Sheriff’s Community Relations Manager, over the course of the five days the department collected 383,483 pills, 513 ointments and creams, 3,015 patches, 32,020 syringes, 1,142 inhalers and 2,412 liquid meds. One prescription took the record as the oldest ever collected – it was from 1964.
DEP collected hundreds of plastic bags and dozens of cell phones, chargers, cell phone batteries and stray chargers, all of which will be recycled, then handed out hundreds of free State Park passes to those who donated their broken and outdated phones.
Also on hand were the Lee County Sheriff’s Office Crime Prevention and K-9 Units, Lee County Sheriff’s Office Explorers and Volunteers, Abby Home Care Services, K-consulting, Brookdale Senior Living, Lee Elder Abuse Prevention Partnership, Delta Family Counseling, Lee Memorial Blood Mobile, McGruff the Crime Dog and The American Red Cross. While recycling their unwanted items, attendees could meet a member of the K-9 unit and its handler, try the Impaired Driving Goggles exercise challenges, have their blood pressure checked by Abby Services, donate blood at the Lee Memorial Blood Mobile or have their kids fingerprints taken. Convenient and good for the environment all at the same time – now that’s easy!
This Sunday, millions of football fans will crowd their living rooms to watch professional football’s championship game known simply as Super Bowl XLV. This year’s grudge match between the historic franchises of the Pittsburg Steelers and the Green Bay Packers will no doubt prove to be a good one.
While some fans will unapologetically wear giant foam wedges of cheddar on their heads in support of Green Bay, others will whirl around their iconic Terrible Towels in unity for their Pittsburg team. No matter where your allegiance lies, when it comes to getting ready for the Super Bowl, being a fan of Florida’s environment just makes sense.
Any great party will naturally start with an invitation, and this one is no different. However, the method of inviting fellow football fanatics is changing. Instead of using old school paper invitations that contribute to the waste stream, consider sending an electronic invitation. When searching for “electronic invitation” online, you will find pages of free sites that do everything from sending out the party info to making rosters of who has accepted your invite and what they are bringing (after all, you want to make sure everyone isn’t bringing bean dip). Electronic invitations are the way to go.
Second, a walk through the store isle will find package after package of party decorations themed for the big game, but is it really necessary to buy new decorations for a few hours of pigskin partying only to discard them in the trash on Sunday night? Hardly! Instead of buying decorations you would only use once, show off your favorite team jersey, shirts, hats, and any other sports memorabilia you may have around the house. It is so much cooler looking than flimsy paper table toppers, costs less, and is zero waste.
Even though a Florida team hasn’t been in a Super Bowl since the Buccaneers won back in Super Bowl XXXVII, we can offer up our appreciation for the sunshine state by choosing foods that are Fresh from Florida. Produce like carrots, celery, broccoli, strawberries, oranges, onions and tomatoes are likely to find a place on fruit and veggie trays throughout the country. By choosing local produce, you show allegiance to our hometown team of farmers and their sustainable efforts.
Once the dust has settled in Dallas, Texas and a new world champion is determined, the next big event starts…the cleanup. So how do you green your clean up?
- Have designated bins for glass bottles or aluminum cans. This makes it easier for your guests to recycle and prevents any stray recyclables from finding their way in the trash.
- If you used plastic utensils, you can hand wash them or even run them in your dishwasher. No need to throw them away. Save them for your next party.
- If you ordered pizza like a lot of folks, recycle the pizza box. Just tear off the greasy part and recycle the rest.
With professional football’s championship game coming up soon, go ahead and make plans for the game of the year with the environment in mind. A few easy actions on your part will make you MVP of the planet without even wearing a helmet and cleats.
‘Tis the season to be eating, which means more time in the kitchen for cooks and chefs across America. While you’re shopping for sweet potato pie ingredients, updating the green bean casserole, testing new cranberry sauce recipes or perfecting your turkey roasting skills, don’t forget how easy it is to protect the environment that provides all the ingredients for happy holidays.
Learn easy actions cooks and chefs can take to protect air and water quality, conserve water and reduce waste.
Currently in the U.S., electricity demand continues to increase even as energy efficiency gains are made. Since 1970, the use of coal to generate electricity in the U.S. has nearly tripled in response to growing electricity demand. Almost half of the electricity is presently generated by coal-fueled electric power plants. The more electricity consumed the more coal that is being used for energy production. Consider that the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that electricity demand will grow by 41% by 2030. With the burning of coal to produce electricity, ash is produced. In the process of converting coal into energy, the coal-fueled electric power industry generated approximately 72.4 million tons of coal fly ash (ash that rises to the chimney or stack), 18.4 million tons of bottom ash (ash that does not rise), and 2.0 million tons of boiler slag (molten ash) in 2008. Though some of the coal fly ash, bottom ash, and boiler slag can be used in cement, asphalt and construction projects, 70 – 80 percent of the ash ends up in a landfill.
Small changes in daily routines, such as turning off lights, unplugging appliances not in use, washing clothes in cold water, and maintaining moderate household temperatures reduces the amount of coal needed to produce electricity. So while you’re conserving energy, you’re also reducing waste!
Michell Mason Smith
Engineering Specialist III
Solid Waste Section
Florida Department of Environmental Protection