Environmental Video of the Week (6/24 – 6/30/12)

July 1, 2012 § 1 Comment

So, I know this is coming a little late, but this is a video you have to see.

Ever have trouble defining sustainability? I have. Well, this video will clarify things for you almost perfectly.

Check it out:

Burn, Baby, Burn!

June 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

Campfires: A summer evening classic. What could be better than settling down in front of a roaring bonfire, with a few friends, maybe a few drinks, and of course, so marshmallows ripe for roasting? Hanging outside by the fire is a great way to save energy and get yourself out of the house at night, and as a whole isn’t terrible for the environment. However, as with everything in life, there are always ways to do better. Here are a few tips to help keep your fire eco-friendly:

  1. Go green, don’t use green. Green things – leaves, plants, twigs – cause a ton of smoke. In order to minimize your CO2 emissions, keeping smoke down is key. Sticks from live trees are among some other causes of high smoking fires.
  2. Don’t burn your trash. More than likely, your fire is accompanying something else – a cookout, a party, etc. Make sure that the trash from your other activities doesn’t join the fire.
  3. Choose your fuel wisely. While they may be super quick, easy, and effective, things like lighter fluid, kerosene, and Duraflame logs are not necessarily the best choices in regards to the environment. All of these things are chock full of environmentally damaging chemicals that aren’t too good for your body either. Try something more natural instead, like these entirely natural starter logs: All-Natural Starter Logs
  4. Know where your wood is from. Try to avoid treated woods, like plywood and lumber, which contains chemicals to preserve it. Burning wood like this presents environmental and health hazards.
  5. Work for your wood. Don’t be lazy. Putting a little effort into finding your wood can make all the difference. Why purchase wood from a store (where you don’t know if it was sustainably collected or not) when you could get it for free? One idea, provided by my camping-expert neighbor, is to search the streets for people who have chopped down trees. Other methods, if you’re in or near the woods, is to simply pick it up off the ground.

Want more tips? Check out this page from Care2 for more tips!

Sustainable Summer: Grilling the Green Way

June 6, 2012 § 1 Comment

Summer is almost here, but already the weather makes it possible for my  summertime favorite: The barbecue. Me and my family love grilling, and barbecues with our friends and family are always a blast. However, you’d be amazed how horrible something like a Memorial Day or Fourth of July barbecue can be for the environment. Here’s some tips to help keep your grilling green:

  1. Beef and Corn on a Charcoal BBQ grill

    Beef and Corn on a Charcoal BBQ grill (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Be Gassy. In terms of emissions, charcoal is probably one of the worst things you could burn in your grill. Consider instead natural gas or propane, which are significantly cleaner, though they are both still fossil fuels. (If you’re deciding between the two, natural gas is the cleaner option) Consider as well the type of grill you have. As previously stated, gas beats charcoal in terms of emissions, but a convection grill is more efficient with energy use an emissions, and an electric grill, which doesn’t emit much of anything, but has a higher energy usage. Want more info? Check this out.

  2. Put the Green Back in Grocer. Besides a grill, the other most important thing you need to have a barbecue is the food itself. When you go to the supermarket to get your supplies, think carefully about what you’re buying. Look for organic or pesticide-free vegetables, and free range, antibiotic-free meats, and try to buy locally. Farmers markets are a great  way to find good, clean, environmentally-friendly produce. Try a site like Local Harvest to find a market near you. If you can’t buy local, try to buy from North America, or the Western Hemisphere at least – the closer to home, the less effect the transport has on the environment.
  3. Make Meat a Maybe. Meat in general creates a lot of waste. It takes almost 2,000 gallons of water to produce just one pound of meat, and cows produce massive quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas much more dangerous than carbon dioxide. As a man of balance, I won’t tell you that you should give up meat entirely, but finding vegetarian alternatives, like portabella mushrooms, can do a lot to help the environment, and can have some pretty beneficial health effects as well.
  4. Consider the Containers. A great tip, which will help you monetarily and health-wise, while helping the environment as well is to consider making your own versions of things you normally buy from the store. There’s a high likelihood that you’ve already got the major ingredients for most rubs or sauces sitting around at home anyway, so why buy them? The containers that sauces and rubs tend to come in are often not very environmentally friendly. The same goes for frozen or canned vegetables – why not make them fresh? It’s better for you that way anyway.
  5. Compost the Crap. This last one is simple. Got onion peels? Watermelon rinds? Leftover veggies or fruit salad? Compost them. Even many of your paper plates, napkins, and certain brands of disposable tableware can be composted. Things you shouldn’t compost? Meat and bones. Bread is up for debate – compost at your own risk.

Want more info? Check out this site. It’s great.

Commuting the Eco-Friendly Way

June 4, 2012 § 2 Comments

Summer is fast approaching – the sun stays out longer, the weather’s getting warmer, and it’s just downright pleasant to be outside. Unfortunately, many of us out there are starting work for the summer, or are still working. Of course, working isn’t the whole problem – getting there is half the battle. Here’s a few tips to make your commute a little bit more sustainable:

  1. Mass Transit. It’s the time-tested classic of sustainable travel. Mass transit is designed to transport as many people as possible in the same vehicle – in theory, this is already more sustainable, but the benefits don’t stop there. Mass transit is often cheaper (even with rising fares) and quicker than other forms of transportation, while emitting less greenhouse gasses as well. For those of you who may doubt the environmental friendliness of mass transit, it’s important to note that many forms of mass transit, busses in particular, have been making strides in becoming eco-friendly. Subways are powered by electricity, and a whole bunch of electric busses are hitting the streets in cities across America.
  2. Take a Walk. I know, I know. But seriously, try it! If you’re in NYC, like most commuters, it might be a better idea then taking the subway. There’s a good chance that your walk will take about the same amount of time as waiting for your subway would. Plus, fresh air totally beats the hot, crowded subway.
  3. Ride Your Bike. If you normally drive to work (this probably isn’t the best suggestion for mass-transit users), take your bike instead. Many of you, especially those of you in urban settings, live within 5 or 10 miles of their homes – not a bad ride. In today’s obese America, it can’t hurt to exercise a little more anyway.
  4. Rideshare. Carpooling isn’t a new concept. Many highways actually have special lanes just for people who do. What is a new idea, however, is to use a rideshare-finding website, like ridematch.info, or erideshare.com to find people from your area who commute to the same place you do, even if you don’t know of one offhand.
  5. Combine Options. One of these options might suit your needs. However, combining any of the above ideas could really make an impact in your life and on your environment. Maybe you might ride your bike 7 miles to the train station, then walk from the other station to your office. Find the combination that best suits you – make your commute faster, more enjoyable, better for your health, and more environmentally friendly.

Finals Week Spring 2012:

April 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

Finals week stressing you out? Well, it’s stressing the environment too. Think about it – during finals week, your lights are on longer and later, you’re working through paper like nothing else, eating and throwing out tons of packaged food and bottled water – it’s a bigger impact than many would realize. Of course, let’s not forget that at the end of the year, cleaning out your dorm room in going to be stressful and wasteful swell. We all know the old tips and tricks about de-stressing yourself, but how can we help the environment? Here’s a few good ways:

  1. Recycle your books. It’s the end of the semester, and you probably don’t need that calculus textbook anymore – nor do you probably want it! Instead of throwing it out, or just letting it sit around unused. Why not “recycle” your books by selling them to friends, acquaintances, random people on Facebook, or even back to the bookstore. Not only will you save paper by not having to have another book printed (the laws of supply and demand will take care of that one) but you’ll also make back a good portion of your money to buy your own books for next semester – which you also can and should purchase used and from others. Of course, on either side of the transaction, don’t sell or buy books that aren’t in good condition.
  2. Shut off your computer. You heard me right. Well, read me right. When you study, shut off your computer. Maybe add the iPad and smartphone to that too. You’ll save a ton of energy – you won’t be using nearly as much power – but you’ll also save time.  Shut down that computer and study, and by the time your done you’ll have time to goof around on Facebook.
  3. Eat healthy snacks. I know, it sounds like something your mother told you when you were at home. Remember the SATs? AP tests? Your teachers probably reminded you to bring two things – something to write with and a healthy snack. Well, healthy snacks are good for more than just you. They do boost brain power, and don’t put preservatives and other chemicals into your system, but they also don’t do that to the environment. An apple, or a banana is entirely biodegradable, and will therefore be much healthier for the environment too.
  4. Donate your stuff. Cleaning out your room? Don’t throw out anything – not that T-shirt you got for free from a club you’re not in, not that TV that you never used and won’t need next year ’cause your roommate’s is bigger, not even that tissue sitting in the corner. (OK, throw out the tissue. Please.) Almost everything you don’t want anymore, and that you can’t sell to a friend can be donated to charity. There are plenty of people in this world who could really use that old jacket you won’t need anymore since you’re graduating and moving back to Florida. Of course, our good friends supply and demand (full post about them coming soon!) will help prevent more waste.
  5. Pass! There’s nothing more sustainable than not having to retake a class.

Good luck everyone!

Celebrate Earth Day the Easy Way!

April 22, 2012 § 1 Comment

The Earth flag is not an official flag, since ...

The Earth flag is not an official flag, since there is no official governing body over Earth. The flag holds a photo transfer of a NASA image of the Earth on a dark blue background. It has been associated with Earth Day. Although the flag was originally copyrighted, a judge ruledhttp://www.tabberone.com/Trademarks/CopyrightLaw/Copyrightability/articles/EarthFlagVsAlamoFlag_A.shtml that the copyright was invalid. Earth Flag Ltd. v. Alamo Flag Co., 154 F. Supp. 2d 663 (S.D.N.Y. 2001) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Happy Earth Day everyone! Created simultaneously in 1969 by Senator Gaylord Nelson UNESCO‘s John McConnell and first celebrated on April 22nd, 1970, Earth Day is a celebration of all things awesome about the environment. Here’s some ways to celebrate in a sustainable way:

  1. Go outside! It’s nice out. « Read the rest of this entry »

Keeping Cool While Staying Green

March 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

Spring is here. There’s absolutely no denying it. When it’s 80 Degrees in Syracuse in mid-March, and similarly – abnormally – warm

Syracuse, New York

across the country, environmentalists all seem to take the opportunity to remind the world about global warming. I’m not. Today, I’m going to talk about how to keep cool in this heat in the most sustainable way possible.

  1. Dress appropriately. « Read the rest of this entry »

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