Tag Archives: Green Living

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.

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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.

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.

ECO. Festival 2010

Check it out. For more details, visit EcoLution Tampa

What: EcoFestival 2010

Where: Lykes Gaslight Park and the Streets of Downtown Tampa

When: Saturday, March 27th, 2010 / 11am- 9pm

What: An afternoon full of fun, enlightenment and entertainment, highlighted by live music, food, wine tastings, green products, educational seminars and children’s activities.

Presented by: The Urban Charrette and Mise en Place

A List of Ten

I’m heading back to Indiana for a few days, but plan to start posting final project pieces all through March, so keep checking back! In the meantime, here are 10 new ideas to help you save money and make your Tampa home greener, courtesy of Realtor Jeff Launiere.

  1. Swap stuff. There are hundreds of online sites where you can get furniture, books, CDs, DVDs and even a place to stay for free by swapping stuff with other people. And, I’m not just talking about Craigslist. Two of the most popular and easy to use swap sites are Paperbackswap.com and SwapaDVD.com.
  2. Recycle your cell phone. According to the EPA, if the 100 million cell phones no longer being used by Americans were recycled, enough energy would be saved to power more than 18,500 homes for a year. Give your cell phone back to its manufacturer or donate your cell phone to charity.
  3. Recycle other electronics. Keep old TVs out of landfills by taking them to a safe e-cycling facility. Return iPods to Apple for recycling or sell them for parts. Take e-waste to stores like Best Buy and Staples that have recycling programs. You’ll save money by not having to pay to dispose of the electronics.
  4. Wait until May to buy a new TV. New government standards take effect May 1, 2010. Energy Star-labeled televisions will be at least 40% more efficient than comparable models — a significant savings.
  5. Eat foods that are in season. It’s healthier, less expensive and better for the environment. Oh, and one more big plus: the food tastes so much better!
  6. Install a water filter. Bottled water isn’t any healthier than tap water, and all that plastic waste is terrible for the environment. It’s also expensive! If you use a water filter in your Tampa home, you can get great-tasting, clean water while reducing your waste and saving money.
  7. Turn down your water heater. You won’t notice the temperature change, but your water heater won’t work as hard and won’t use as much energy.
  8. Plant a vegetable garden. If you don’t have the space to plant a garden, plant a tree or put some plants outside. Find vegetables and plants that grow well in your area for the best results. Ask your local garden center for that information.
  9. Use green cleaners. There’s no reason to use harsh chemicals to clean your home. Use biodegradable cleaners that are safe for the environment or make your own green cleaners. Use old towels and T-shirts instead of disposable wipes and paper towels to cut down on waste and save you money.
  10. Check your insulation. Adding insulation to your home will cost money initially, but you’ll quickly earn it back plus more by saving long term on your heating and cooling bills. Skeptical? Start out by insulating your attic and keeping track of your energy savings. It averages out to about $116 a year in savings.

Powering the community: A Q&A with James Stevenson from the Pinellas County Extension

They say that information is power.

If that’s the case, Pinellas County Extension is charged with green power.

Extension’s mission to is “provide provide research-based knowledge and educational programs enabling people to make practical decisions to improve their quality of life.” The Extension is part of a nationwide network of universities that provide research-based information to citizens; in this case Pinellas county residents are linked with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. The educational programs provided through Extensions are directed at both state and county concerns. With an extension office in every Florida county, there is an opportunity for education and a foundation for building more sustainable communities.

One of the core aspects of Extension is classroom training and information services. In addition to a comprehensive website, Extension offers “Solutions in 30”, an online webinar program that focuses on key issues within the community such as energy conservation, climate change and money management.

I recently had a chance to sit down with one of the education specialists and sustainability educator James Stevenson.

What are the goals of the different program areas under the Extension umbrella?

“To develop curriculum and outreach for citizens in Pinellas county to understand and implement sustainable behaviors. Extension is a behavior change organization, We, without telling people what to do, we give them the information so that they can choose to do the ‘right thing.’ We don’t come in a say ‘You’re doing it wrong, you have to do it like this’. We don’t make policy and ordinances. We just provide outreach education that fosters that behavior change in people when they realize it’s a benefit to them.

“It’s not just saving money, it’s changing behaviors for the betterment of the whole system. And that’s a four pronged approach. There’s energy conservation, there’s waste reduction and recycling, there’s green purchasing in the workplace and why it’s important to, if you have a choice, choose green, over the long term. It might be more expensive up front but you don’t pay for it later. And finally, pollution prevention within the workplace with regards to hazordas chemicals which might be found inthe workplace.”

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Drivers of preference: Why consumers buy green

This is a selection of excerpts from a Huffington Post article. The orginal post is by Richard Seireeni Brand, Architect, and author of “The Gort Cloud: The Invisible Force Powering Today’s Most Visible Green Brands.”

It’s often not clear why people buy the things they do. This is particularly true when it comes to choosing sustainable and/or socially responsible products. Saving the planet or supporting fair trade is never the only driver of consumer choice — an insight that becomes especially clear when choices are made between competing green products.

So, what is a ‘driver of preference’?

There may be many product characteristics that influence consumer choice: special features, performance, design, brand image, price, availability, etc. However, some of the talking points that are so highly valued by product makers are often dismissed by customers as mere table stakes – the qualities needed to simply get in the game. This is becoming increasingly true for green products. Many of today’s enlightened consumers expect their products to be green. For the marketer of green products, understanding what product qualities actually causes a consumer to open his or her wallet requires research and an open mind. These often-inscrutable qualities that cause someone to pick this over that are ‘drivers of preference’.

Many marketers of products and services have been wondering out loud if green still makes a difference during such trying times. Several market studies, including those published by the Mintel and Cone market research groups, have attempted to answer these questions; however, it should be reassuring to know that green represents only one part of a product’s appeal and is usually not the primary driver of preference. Green alone is not likely to make a product successful; on the other hand, not going green can actually be harmful to sales in the long run. This is why identification of the true drivers of consumer preference is so critical to overcoming green fatigue and a crowded green marketplace.

For further reading and a great list of potential drivers for green products and services, read the 2010 Trendwatching brief, “Eco-Bounty“.