Category Archives: Sustainability

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.

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.

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.

Spring is here…

… Which means Farmer’s Markets are back in full swing! I checked out the one in downtown St. Pete this morning and left with gobs of fresh fruit and veggies. Sustainability means buying local, and the selection couldn’t be better!

Here’s a few of the local ones:

Downtown Saturday Morning Market

More than 100 local vendors, including produce, gourmet foods. Also crafts, live music and entertainment, flowers, plants. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat. Progress Energy Park/Al Lang Field, 180 Second Ave. SE, St. Petersburg. (727) 455-4921. saturdaymorningmarket.com.

Ybor City Saturday Market

Produce, gourmet foods and sauces, fresh baked breads, fresh eggs, prepared foods, plants, pet treats, arts and crafts, jewelry and bath and body products. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Sat. Centennial Park, 1800 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. (813) 241-2442. ybormarket.com.

Downtown Clearwater Farmers Market

Produce, baked goods, cheeses, gourmet foods, live music. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Wed. Cleveland area and Station Square Park, Clearwater. (727) 461-7674.

University of South Florida Bull Market

Student organizations, vendors, USF departments, and not-for-profit organizations line the Marshall Student Center South Plaza. The market is held every Wednesday during the fall and spring semesters except on holidays or during bad weather. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Wed. University of South Florida Marshall Student Center, 4202 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. (813) 974-5309. msc.usf.edu/bullmarket.htm.

Listings from tampabay.com/thingstodo

“Just say ‘No!'”

The Story of Bottled Water (by the makers of The Story of Stuff), is an informative short film about the bottled water industry. It seeks to expose the manufactured demand put upon consumers by the companies who produce bottled water. Check it out.

Green for everyone

One of the most common talking points with “green” experts is all about tackling the myth that green equals expensive, and that green is for the rich.

To the contrary, simple home adjustments can save homeowners of any economic status lost of money. And now there is research to prove it.

The 21st Century Living Project took a sample of 100 representative families in London and gave them 500 euros to  spend in any way they wished; the only caveat was that it must be spent  in order to reduce their environmental footprint.

From BusinessGreen.com:

The project, which was carried out by retailer Homebase, Cornwall’s Eden Project, green consultancy Acona and the University of Surrey, found that over 80 per cent of the households took action to curb their energy use, while average recycling rates for the group rose from 58 per cent at the start of the project to 63 per cent by the end.

Speaking to BusinessGreen.com, Rosi Watson, head of corporate responsibility for Homebase’s parent company Home Retail Group, said the project also revealed that households took a similar degree of action regardless of their attitude towards the environment.

“The big conclusion from the research is that this is a mass market opportunity,” she said. “There’s always been this big confection that this is a niche middle class market, but we found over 80 per cent took some action to save energy and it was actually lower income households that took the most action.”

The study also found that households delivered the most significant improvements when they received personalized advice from energy efficiency experts and were supplied with a thermal image of their home revealing where the most energy was being wasted.

“People really wanted personalized advice tailored to their home,” said Watson. “The challenges vary so much from building to building that generic advice can be pretty ineffective.”

This is the sort of project I’d like to see around this area… it’s a practical and real way to reach the middle class that the green movement really needs to catch on.

Energy efficiency programs needed for all

State House Rep. Joe Gibbons recently addressed the critical need that low-income utility customers have for expanded energy efficiency programs.  As demonstrated in a  recent study by Florida Power & Light , low-income residents participate in energy efficiency programs at the same rate as other income groups.  A few excerpts from his essay.

“A failure to achieve greater energy efficiency hurts all of Florida’s electricity customers, particularly low- and fixed-income customers, because it deprives them of the help they need to reduce their electricity bills.”

“Making efficiency programs available to low-income residents is especially valuable because those groups pay a greater share of their income on energy bills compared with more affluent residents. Efficiency saves twice – cutting utility bills and helping the homeowner or renter cut energy waste.”

“What’s more, implementing energy efficiency creates jobs – especially critical in a state approaching 12-percent unemployment. Improving efficiency requires a work force of electricians, air conditioning installers, carpenters, roofers and more to deliver the services and products that reduce customer bills. Efficiency can add nearly 20,000 Florida jobs by achieving 15-percent energy savings by 2020, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.”

“Any way you look at it, efficiency should play a larger role in the lives of Floridians. The savings are especially critical to lower-income customers. While the PSC has taken a step in the right direction, more needs to be done to make efficiency opportunities even more widely available to customers.”

You can read the whole essay, published in the Tallahassee Democrat here.