Happy Earth Day!

To celebrate Earth Day, I’ve launched my project “Sustainable Tampa Bay: Examining People, Planet and Profit.”

Through interviews with Tampa Bay ‘green’ experts, it was found that while the region is struggling to adapt green practices, there are significant grassroots movements in both Tampa and St. Petersburg. Most stress the need for public education on these issues. The online project examines both personal and business perspectives within the ‘green’ movement, detailing the benefits of sustainability, energy efficiency, and education through storytelling and multimedia components.

The online project “Sustainable Tampa Bay: Examining People, Profit and Sustainability”, is broken down into three sections: Sustainability, Energy Efficiency, and Education. These categories emerged after interviews with ten Tampa Bay ‘green’ experts ranging from ‘green’ business owners to sustainability consultants to educators at local colleges and universities. The categories represent the three most important issues facing the Tampa Bay community.

This project was produced as a requirement for graduation at the University of South Florida for a Master’s degree in Mass Communications: Multimedia Journalism.

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CL’s 40 “great ideas”

From Creative Loafing:

In last year’s Green Issue, CL’s edit staff highlighted 100 people, places and businesses helping to make Tampa Bay a greener place to live. This year, it was the readers’ turn to weigh in. In response to our call for great, do-it-yourself green ideas, we received more than 100 innovative, creative and well-thought-out tips for eco-friendlier living, from which we chose 40 in honor of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22.

The wide variety of recommendations — from improving baby care to creating new government programs — reflected the range of the respondents, among them new parents, longtime activists, local merchants and even a government official. You can read about many of them on the next page.

What’s refreshing about this list is that it’s a good reminder that “going green” doesn’t mean you need to get rid of your car, quit using electricity or stop buying anything new. It’s about sustaining our planet so it can do the same for us, about using less and conserving our resources. And besides helping out the environment, “going green” can also save you some green — in the form of cash — and who doesn’t want to do that?

So whether you’re an Earth activist with a passion for the planet or even a hardcore climate-change skeptic, I think we can agree that it’s important to tread a little lighter and use our resources wisely.

Even small changes can make a big difference, so what better time of year to start?  Find the complete list here.

Earth Day resolutions

Earth Day  is just around the corner.

This year, pledge to make a change for the year that is beneficial to the planet and to yourself.  After all, as the popular expression goes,  “every little thing counts.”

Habits are the drivers of many of environmental problems.  From GreenLivingIdeas.com,  here are some major habits hurting the environment that you could look to change starting on Earth Day.

1) Leave the car at home, or sell it!

The average transit rider in the US saves over $9,000 a year by riding transit. Riding a bike for transportation purposes is even more economically beneficial. Also, in many cities, bicycling is faster than driving or using transit.

Environmentally, transportation is the big cheese. It is the leading net contributor to climate change pollution. It is also a major factor affecting air pollution and water pollution.

2) Don’t put meat on the table — go vegetarian or vegan (at least during the week)

Water and energy use for livestock production is skyscrapers higher than for fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts. Concerning climate change, livestock production is third on the list for net contribution to climate change.

For those you think going fully vegetarian is too difficult (I assure you it is not), a new environmental trend is sweeping the nation — weekday environmentalism. Surely, it is not too difficult to cut meat out of your diet during the week, at least, and what a difference it would make! Apparently, it could cut your carbon footprint by as much as 70%.

3) Put some solar panels on your roof!

There are great tax incentives and rebates across the country now for using solar power on your house or business. Additionally, innovative programs like PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) financing or group solar buying are continuing to make it easier and more affordable to go solar. This Earth Day, consider finally making the switch.

Advocates tell Florida to go green

Advocates are urging state lawmakers to embrace policies that expand solar activity in order to increase government revenue.

The Florida House recently backed a bill that uses tax breaks and loans to provide an incentive for the use of renewable energy; a similar measure heads to the state Senate this week.

A study by solar company Global Energy United concluded the state could add billions of dollars to government coffers by passing this legislation. The study showed renewable energy measure could help Florida diversify its economy away from real estate and tourism.

States with similar clean energy measures have realized more than $280 million in private investments.

Cash-for-clunker appliance funds go quickly

If you haven’t taken advantage of the rebate for energy-efficient appliances yet, you may be out of luck.

The manager of the rebate program, Brenda Buchan, says less than $3 million of $17.5 million in rebates remained up for grabs on Friday. She expected the rest to be gone by Saturday morning.

The “Cash for Appliances” program offers a 20 percent rebate off the price of new energy-efficient appliances, including washers, dryers, dishwashers and refrigerators. There are also $75 rebates for recycling appliances.

The program launched at 11 a.m. Friday and was to run through April 25 or whenever funds ran out.

Calculate your footprint…

…In environmental terms, that is!

What is a ‘carbon footprint’? It’s the impact a person, product or behavior has on the environment- everything from the resources used to the waste generated. Americans on average have the largest footprint in the world due to high levels of consumption;  about 24% of the world’s energy is consumed by only 5% of the population.

So, want to know where your biggest impact is coming from so you can target energy savings measures? There are several  online calculators that calculate personal ecological or environmental footprint. Check them out- you might be surprised.

Global Footprint Network lets you evaluate the footprint of your home, your city, your business or your country, as well as offers tips for reduction.

Redefining Progress is a 27 question quiz to estimate your ecological impact, with charts/graphs to show your waste compared to the average for the region where  you live.

NASA joins FP&L in solar venture

Space just got a little brighter.

NASA joined Florida Power & Light Company to commission the Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center. The new solar photovoltaic power facility is the result of a unique public-private partnership between NASA and FPL and demonstrates both organizations’ commitment to bringing clean-energy solutions to Florida.

The Center is located at Kennedy Space Center and is producing an estimated 10 megawatts of clean, emissions-free power, which is enough energy to serve approximately 1,100 homes. Continue reading