Posts tagged ‘environment’

Smart Water

reuse storage tank

Reuse storage tank (Photo by Shanin Speas-Frost)

Hot, cold, boiled, frozen or steamed, fresh water tops our must-have list.  On average, Floridians use 6.7 billion gallons of fresh water daily. Each day we also produce billions of gallons of wastewater (showers, laundry, dishwashing and such), which we could just as well use again, particularly since our state is drought prone.

Fortunately, Florida is one of the most water-efficient states in the nation, with more than 420 reuse systems. According to DEP’s Reuse Inventory, in 2010 reclaimed water was used to irrigate 281,781 residences, 525 golf courses, 877 parks and 324 schools. More than 10,000 acres of citrus crops (mostly in central and southwest Florida) are irrigated with reclaimed water.

 Reusing water helps ensure that our Florida faucets continue to flow with fresh, clean water used for drinking, cooking, showering and washing the dishes. Besides, irrigation with reclaimed water costs less than fresh tap water. Another plus – reclaiming water instead of disposing of it in waterways helps protect water quality in bays and rivers.  

Contact your utility company or water management district to find out if reclaimed water is available in your area. If reclaimed water is not available, contact your local elected officials, city planners or water management district to learn about plans for water reuse.

The more water we reuse, the more we’ll have on tap for quenching our thirst, icing tea, steaming veggies and boiling shrimp.

Learn more about water reuse in Florida.
Florida Water Reuse Week, May 15-21
DEP’s Reuse Inventory

May 16, 2011 at 12:51 pm Leave a comment

Earth Day at the Capitol 2011

For the tenth year, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Environmental Education hosted Earth Day at the Capitol in Tallahassee. Area students who attended the event learned about our environment and some easy ways to protect it. At the Easy As One station, students learned how to pack a waste-free lunch and other easy actions kids can take to protect air and water quality, conserve water and reduce waste.

More than 200 students pledged to adopt one more habit to help protect the environment. Among the pledges: watch less TV; take shorter showers; tell parents about leaky faucets; plant a garden; plant a tree; pack a waste-free lunch; reuse or recycle plastic bags.

Learn more easy actions for kids that help protect the environment – on Earth Day and every day.

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April 25, 2011 at 2:04 pm Leave a comment

Apply Now for a Green School Award

The Green School Awards program, now in its third year, is accepting applications for the 2010/2011 school year. Public or private K-12 students, teachers, classrooms, schools and school districts can apply. Application deadline is June 21, 2011. Winners will be announced at the Learn Green: Green Schools Conference and Expo in Palm Beach County in November 2011.

The Florida Green School Awards Program recognizes and documents the achievement of students, teachers and school administrators to enhance learning by implementing green school initiatives in Florida. Last year, applicants for the Florida Green School Awards program saved more than 43,000 gallons of water and 56,126,468 kilowatt hours of electricity and reduced waste by nearly 5 tons.

Additionally, the schools saved $5.2 million dollars through greening efforts. With that kind of green, Florida can keep about 106 teachers in the classroom, buy more than 10,000 new computers or 263,000 new text books. As for environmental rewards – cleaner water, cleaner air, less waste – priceless.

Though a school’s traditional focus is on reading, writing and arithmetic, more schools are adding sustainability to the “things to learn” list. Since 16 percent of Florida’s residents spend at least six hours a day, five days a week during the academic year at school, the campus and the classrooms are also excellent venues for teaching and learning green habits that lead to a healthier school population, a healthier environment and a healthier bottom line.

If your school is greening, whether through a recycling program, water or energy conservation, flex fuel or a school garden, you can apply for a Green School Award. If you know someone in school who is doing great green things – student, teacher, administrator or support staff – encourage them to apply as well. One easy way to protect air and water quality, conserve water and reduce waste (both environmentally and financially) is to green your school and share the information with others.

Apply online for a Florida Green School Award.

Learn Green: Green Schools Conference and Expo

The Florida Green School Awards is a partnership between DEP’s Office of Environmental Education, Florida Department of Education, Florida’s Foundation and Sustainable Florida, Collins Center.

March 28, 2011 at 9:26 am Leave a comment

Tallahassee Community Invited to Go Green While Spending Green

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.

March 4, 2011 at 1:48 pm Leave a comment

Become MVP of the Planet

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.

February 3, 2011 at 10:12 am Leave a comment

Conserving Energy Reduces 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

October 27, 2010 at 9:42 am Leave a comment

Stop and Think – Pollution Prevention Week 2010

September 20-26 is National Pollution Prevention Week. Have you ever stopped to think what you can do to prevent pollution? Do you even know what pollution prevention is…I didn’t until I started working at DEP, and sometimes I’m still not sure I always know what it is!

The official definition goes something like this – Pollution prevention is a proactive approach that eliminates or reduces pollution at its source – through water conservation, energy efficiency, minimizing the usage of raw materials and green cleaning. Stopping pollution prior to its creation is the most environmentally sound method of protecting health and natural resources.

It may sound a little overwhelming and in most cases people associate pollution prevention with big industrial plants changing their process to reduce pollution. But it can be simple. Preventing pollution is as easy as bringing your reusable bags to the grocery store instead of using plastic bags, using green cleaners or packing a waste-free lunch.

Recognizing P2 Week is an opportunity for us (government) to join with you (schools, businesses and citizens) to provide education and outreach to help make sense of what pollution prevention is.

During this week events are being held throughout the state to inform people of the easy ways to help prevent pollution with just one action. Check out the list below.

POLLUTION PREVENTION WEEK EVENTS

EAO Regional Collection Event

Saturday, September 18

8:00a.m. – 12:00p.m.

Amway Arena

600 W Amelia St

Orlando, Florida

Items to be Collected: Paper, Cell Phones, Electronics, Plastic Bags

DEP Northeast Office Collection Event

Monday, September 20

12:00p.m.-2:00p.m.

DEP Northeast District Office

7825 Baymeadows Way, Suite B200

Jacksonville, Florida

Items to be Collected: Plastic Bags, Cell Phones

Clean Marina and Clean Boatyard Workshop

Tuesday, September 21

9:00a.m. – 12:00p.m.

Cooperative Extension Office

12520 Ulmerton Road

Largo, FL

Junior Museum of Bay County Safety Day

Saturday, September 25

10:00a.m. – 2:00p.m.

Junior Museum of Bay County

308 Airport Road

Panama City, FL 32405

Items to be Collected: Cell Phones

International Coastal Cleanup Collection Event

Saturday, September 25

7:00a.m. – 9:00a.m.

Life Guard Station

Beach Boulevard Walk Over

Jacksonville Beach, Florida

Items to be Collected: Cell Phones, Plastic Bags

NATIONAL DRUG TAKE BACK EVENTS STATEWIDE

Saturday, September 25

10:00a.m. – 2:00p.m.

Walgreens

4497 Mobile Highway

Pensacola, Florida

Items to be Collected: Medication, Plastic Bags, Cell Phones

CVS

2090 S Highway 29

Cantonment, Florida

Items to be Collected: Medication, Plastic Bags, Cell Phones

Walgreens

10503 San Jose Boulevard

Jacksonville, Florida

Items to be Collected: Medication, Plastic Bags, Cell Phones

Walgreens

1705 US 1

Vero Beach, Florida

Items to be Collected: Medication, Plastic Bags, Cell Phones

The Shops at Wiregrass

28211 Paseo Drive

Wesley Chapel, Florida

Items to be Collected: Medication, Plastic Bags, Cell Phones

10:00a.m. – 1:00p.m.

Edison State College Student Life Lobby

8099 College Parkway

Fort Myers, Florida

Items to be Collected: Medication, Plastic Bags, Cell Phones

11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Lantana Police Department

500 Greynolds Circle

Lantana, Florida

Items to be Collected: Medication, Plastic Bags

September 17, 2010 at 11:18 am Leave a comment

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