It's never too early to plan for Earth Day, even if the annual event will not take place until April 22. The people behind the org have been busy, most recently sending a letter to Prez Obama and encouraging him to keep up his alternative energy policies. Their efforts have led to over a billion acts of green from supporters.
More than a billion people also participate in the annual event and since its founding in 1970, the group has never given up on its plan to help save the planet. If you have never participated in one, find out what is going on in your part of the country, make a pledge or two and donate to one of the hardest working organizations in existence.
This holiday season, give back as well as just giving. A Lot to Say is a brand that is helping the planet. For each product you buy, 25 to 100% of the proceeds go to causes such as Stand Up to Cancer, Animal Rescue Foundation and Heal the Bay. For example, their Sandy Relief T-shirts are helping to recover from the devastating effects of the superstorm.
Made in the United States, one shirt is made from 60 recycled bottles, is toxin-free and wears up to 6 times longer than a regular one. A hundred percent of the proceeds go to the Red Cross. Other products include children's clothing items, tote bags, art and pet supplies. So, get over to their site and help others to have a merrier holiday season.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is reporting that October was the 332nd consecutive month with above average temperatures. While a couple of individual countries experienced cooler than usual temperatures, the combination of land and sea temperatures is further proof that global warming exists.
What can any of us do individually to help save the planet? Make sure your next car is energy efficient, ditto when shopping for large appliances. Turn off anything electrical that you are not using. There are many more ways to help on both a local and national level, but a good start is to visit websites like the Union of Concerned Scientists. Start reading books like their Cooler Smarter and viewing movies like an An Inconvenient Truth to become more aware and find ways to reduce your carbon footstep.
If the extreme weather of late is even partially due to global warming, then now is the time to do your part to help save the planet. When you get around to replacing your light bulbs, start with Philips' AmbientLED 12.5W Bulb. It looks like it is a yellow bulb but when turned on it produces a soft white light. The dimmable light can replace your 60W bulb and be used in any regular socket. The company claims it has a lifespan of over 22 years (25,000 hours) so the savings will be in both energy usage and adding less waste to the planet.
The Scrap Exchange, a nonprofit creative reuse center, was established in 1991 in Durham North Carolina. It has changed locations a couple of times but its message is still the same, that the world would be a better place if we could reuse and recycle items that normally end up in landfills. They estimate that they save about 40 tons of materials per year.
They also have workshops, clothing exchanges, go on the road to schools in NC and other states and have a gallery that features local artists. We like this idea so much that we think every neighborhood should have one! Contact the Scrap Exchange if you want to get involved.
Ever been on a beach filled with litter or find an undiscovered oil spill? A new app allows you to map and report any marine pollution. The free Marine Defenders App was made from a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. It will not only make the little guy a whistle blower, but will draw attention to how widespread the problem is. Originally intended for New Jersey, the now national app is available for iPhone/iPad/touch users with a planned Android application to come.
It seems that the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" in the central North Pacific Ocean has increased in the past forty years 100 times over to envelop an area that is about the size of Texas (although there have been conflicting opinions as to its size.) Even worse, water striders (aka sea skaters) are laying eggs in the plastic trash and insect predators in the area, like fish and crabs, are now showing up with pieces of plastic waste inside.
Scripps Institution of Oceanography and UCLA recently released a paper in the journal Biology Letters detailing the increase. Sadly, Curtis Ebbesmeyer, the oceanographer that named the area, claims that it is too large to clean up and keeps growing so the only solution is to switch to biodegradable plastic and allow the garbage to eventually disperse.
It's Earth Day, so take some time to participate in one of these ideas. A Lot To Say creates clothing, tote bags and other products out of 100% Post Consumer Recycled Plastic. Visit or join Recycled Products, a co-op with plenty of solutions.
The Earth Day Network has a list of events nationwide, many of them include recycling projects. At the very least, recycle some of your unusable newpaper, cardboard, plastic, or glass at your local center. For more ideas, visit the official Earthday Network.
Honest Tea has started a project that it hopes will eventually lead to recycling as many bottles as it sells. The Great Recycle is starting off in NYC by collecting a day's worth (47,000 empties) in a 30 ft. tall bin in Times Square Monday, April 30. If you want to attend, bring yours and you will get points that can be redeemed for more Honest Tea, t-shirts, and tickets to concerts, sporting events and Broadway shows.
McDonald's previously removed Styrofoam in its food packaging and has now decided to partially wean out polystyrene beverage cups in favor of double-walled paper. The move comes after a 2011 shareholder resolution from environmentalist group As You Sow. The measure didn't pass but the fast food company decided to replace the cups in about 15% of its U.S. locations, about 2,000 restaurants total.
We guess that is a good start. Even Starbucks is switching over to cups that are either reusable or recyclable. Outdated and unusable electronics are now recycled by businesses and soda companies reuse much of the plastic in their containers We cringe every time we are given our restaurant leftovers in a Styrofoam container to the point where we bring our own plastic containers.
Companies like As You Sow make a difference. Around since 1992, they are concerned with saving the planet and release studies concerning business practices and their efforts to reduce waste. They recently reported that over 200 billion beverage containers were sold last year and over 130 billion of those were either incinerated or left in landfills. AYS further noted that recycling occurs only 33% of the time, down from 54% twenty years ago.
So it sounds like it is up to all of us to pick up the fight. Consider alternate energy forms like solar and wind. Buy rechargeable batteries, bring your own containers, recycle your old papers and go paperless when it comes to bills. Most importantly, work with programs like As You Sow that are trying to make a difference. They have certainly earned the honor of being a Solar Snob Site O' the Week.
Almost everyone is already aware of DARPA and now DOE's ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy) funding continues to encourage new forms of energy to lower our reliance on fossil fuels and lessening the evil climate change. Of course there are plenty of critics that became outspoken after the Solyndra fiasco, but eventually those who doubt the program and think there is no global warming problem should, um, see the light.
Part of the solution is in wind and solar energy. In 2010, New York's CUNY received a $3 million grant to develop a low cost solar battery designed to store power until needed. Michigan State University is working on GENI, a power flow controller that will improve the routing of electricity from solar and wind power. You can be part of the movement if you believe that you have an idea that is viable. Check out the link for more information.
Holiday time is here and as you are busily filling up your gift list, save on cost and the planet with the Solar 11-in-1 Battery Charger. True to its name, it charges 11 different NiCd and NiMH battery sizes (AAA, AA, C, D and 7 GUM sizes.) The adjustable top lid and bottom allows optimal sunlight and a blocking diode prevents discharge.
We cannot say enough about our personal changeover to eneloop batteries. We use our Flip (now defunct) camcorder constantly and in the space of about 3 years, have only recharged about 5 times. That's a lot of planet saving for very little coinage.
It's nice in this hectic day and age to find someone like Simon Dale, a throwback to the 70's attitude of staying real, mellowing out and living in harmony with the planet with a Hobbitish home. Not a skilled architect or builder, he, his dad-in-law and friends and passersby created this house in West Wales for about £3,000 (~$4621.00,) in less than 1,500 hours.
Built with local, natural materials like scrap wood, stone, straw and mud, there is a woodburner for heating, a skylight for natural lighting, solar panels for power and a compost toilet. For things like windows, wiring, etc., he says "anything you could possibly want is in a rubbish pile somewhere."
The best is yet to come. Dale is now building his second eco-house as part of a project in Wales backed by the Lammas Organization, who are struggling to build an eco-village despite the hassle of paperwork and proper permits. (Bummer, man.) You can give them a donation or, even better, volunteer your time and energy into assisting the communal project. Hang on Simon, we're comin' to Wales.
The first Eco Music Festival will be held the Fourth of July weekend (June 30-July 3) at Snowmass, Aspen, CO. EMU will feature a variety of musicians giving mountainside concerts, guided hiking tours and even yoga lessons. Tents will be 100% sustainable, local foodsters will provide green dishes and even biodegradable water bottles, plates and utensils will be used. Tickets are $59.50 pre-sales, $70 general admission and VIP tickets are $150. With an adult ticket, kidlets 12 and younger get in free.
One of the coolest aspects is that for every ticket sold, a tree will be planted by Trees, Water & People. Not only will this offset up to 220 lbs. of carbon emissions for each tree, if the concert sells out, that makes 1.2 million lbs. total of CO2.