Posts tagged ‘green’
St. Patrick’s Day brings visions of green – from four-leaf clovers to little green leprechauns. So why not continue that green theme in by planting a garden? Since we are lucky enough to live in Florida, planting a garden in March is absolutely doable.
Besides the green beans or green peppers, what else is green about planting a garden? First, plants improve air quality by filtering the air to remove airborne toxins. Plants release oxygen. Also, walking outside to pick fresh berries, fruit and vegetables instead of driving to the grocery store produces zero auto emissions and uses zero gallons of gas.
Make your garden even greener by collecting rain to water plants instead of watering from the hose. Growing some of your own vegetables and herbs also eliminates the energy and products used to package and transport foods to your table.
Along with the satisfaction that comes with the harvest, green gardening is also a good way to protect air quality, reduce waste and conserve resources.
Learn more easy actions for gardeners.
It’s the time of year when you squeeze in last-minute holiday shopping after a long day at work, when you wrap gifts up secretly so your children won’t peek, or when you frantically clean your home for family and guests.
It’s the time of year when hustle and bustle is expected, so we’ve compiled great simple tips to keep in mind for a green-and-clean holiday.
1. Use green cleaners. When preparing for holiday guests, trade in harsh household cleaners for cleaners that are safer for human (and pet) health and the environment. Find green cleaning tips.
2. Choose reusable shopping bags. Only 12 percent of plastic bags and 37 percent of paper bags are reused or recycled. Read DEP’s Retail Bags Report to learn more about how disposable bags impact the environment.
3. Share leftovers with guests or compost food waste. Send guests home with reusable containers of leftover feast or create compost instead of letting kitchen scraps and food go to the landfill. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers helpful tips for composting organic waste.
4. Wrap it green. Wrap gifts in paper made with recycled content or reuse wrapping paper. Or get creative with newspapers, old maps, magazines. Scarves, holiday linens or bandanas are excellent alternatives to paper wrapping. Reusable holiday bags are also a greener option than one-time-use paper. Try giving gifts that don’t require much packaging, such as concert tickets or gift certificates or gift cards.
5. Choose green lodging. If traveling or hosting out-of-town guests for the holidays, consider using a Florida Green Lodging designated property. Green Lodging facilities adopt cost-saving green practices to conserve energy, reduce water consumption, protect air quality and reduce waste.
6. Buy rechargeable batteries. About 40 percent of all battery sales occur during the holiday season. Buy rechargeable batteries to accompany your electronic gifts, and consider giving a battery charger as well. Rechargeable batteries reduce the amount of potentially harmful materials thrown away, and can save money in the long run. Learn more about rechargeable batteries on EPA’s website.
7. Visit a state park. Entertain guests in one of Florida’s state parks. Many state parks host holiday events with lights, decorations and activities. Open 365 days a year, Florida’s state parks span more than 700,000 acres and 100 miles of sandy white beach, offering a glimpse into natural Florida. You can follow state parks on Twitter @FLStateParks.
8. Avoid idling in holiday traffic – Dial 511. Crawling traffic can contribute eight times as much air pollution as traffic moving at regular highway speeds. Call the Florida Department of Transportation’s 511 traffic information hotline or check the 511 website to learn about traffic, road closures and construction to avoid idling and reduce air pollution when holiday traveling.
9. Create your own decorations. Create holiday decorations such as ornaments with old greeting cards or cookie dough, garlands made from strung popcorn or cranberries, and potpourri made from spices such as cinnamon and cloves. Paint terracotta pots with holiday theme. Plant rosemary or other savory herbs in the holiday pots to serve as decoration and a tasty addition to the spice rack.
10. Consider the tree. Real or artificial, your Christmas tree impacts the environment. Read “Buying Real vs. Artificial Christmas Trees” on the Earth911 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.
It’s summer in the way deep south, which means we frequently reach into our refrigerators for cold beverages to help us keep our cool. Refrigerators are responsible for approximately 14 percent of a home’s energy use, more than any other kitchen or cleaning appliance. Making your fridge more energy efficient is one easy way to conserve our resources – and your money.
- Allow hot foods to cool before refrigerating or freezing.
- A new ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerator uses about 40 percent less energy than refrigerators sold in 2001.
- Set your refrigerator temperature to 37-40 degrees and your freezer temperature between 0-5 degrees. A refrigerator colder than necessary uses up to 25 percent more energy.
- Clean a refrigerator’s coils every six months. Dirty coils cause the refrigerator to use more energy. Brushing or vacuuming the coils can improve efficiency by as much as 30 percent.
- Keep a full refrigerator. Your appliance doesn’t have to work as hard to keep food cold.
- Check door seals to make sure they’re airtight. To test them, close the door on a dollar bill and try to pull it out. If the dollar slides out easily, you’re losing energy and money.
In conjunction with First Lady Ann Scott’s recent announcement of the Summer Literacy Adventure, the Florida Department of Education and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection are encouraging students to head outdoors with a book from DOE’s Just Read, Florida! 2011 Recommended Summer Reading List.
Reading, indoors or outdoors, no matter the season, engages the imagination of both children and adults. Reading is also a green activity.
Once produced, a book requires no additional resources to enhance its function. Books require no batteries, no chords, no chargers, no accessories, no electricity. Books do not require upgrades. Though sequels are sometimes produced, the original functions just fine without it.
Books require little maintenance. No fuel, oil, or hoses to refill, change or inspect.
Books are durable and can last under a bed for months, on a bookcase for decades, even centuries, and be just as functional as the day they were printed.
Books are easily shared. Books can be passed around to a multitude of friends and family members and still be read by yet another generation. Reading aloud is another green option for sharing a book with others, and doesn’t require downloading an app.
Books are portable. They fit easily into a beach bag, carry-on luggage, backpacks and pockets.
Reading is powered by the human mind, and during the long days of summer, reading light is provided by sunshine. The grass doesn’t get much greener.
Find more easy actions to stay cool and stay green this summer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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