Earth Day 2011 (April 22, 2011)

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Wind Energy - Green 52Green 52 wants to remind everyone that today (April 22, 2011) is Earth Day.  What can you do to adopt an environmentally responsible habit or practice that you can carry into the other 364 days each year?

Make an Earth Day Resolution:

Earth Day is celebrated in over 175 countries and has been organized for over 40 years.  This year’s theme is One Billion Acts of Green (see EarthDay.org for details).  Please remember that Earth Day is an opportunity to pause from your normal routine of consumption, and think about conservation.  It’s a chance to consider how you impact the environment, and what you might be able to do to reduce that impact.  Just as many people create New Year’s Resolutions before January 1st of each year, consider making an “environmental responsibility resolution” on Earth Day.

Environmental Responsibility can be easy – find 52 tips here!

At Green 52, we devoted an entire year to creating weekly green living and environmental responsibility tips at our website, Green52.com.  On Earth Day or anytime this year, please review the green tips and see if you can find one or more environmental responsibility ideas that you can incorporate into your daily lives.

If your friends and family aren’t aware of Earth Day, and don’t understand how simple it can be to reduce your personal impact on the environment, suggest that they read the ideas on Green52.com.

Corporate efforts to cash in on Earth Day:

Also, be aware that many companies, including corporations with an international/global presence like Starbucks, may try to cash in on Earth Day.  By example, I see that today (1 day out of 365) Starbucks is offering a free brewed coffee to anyone who brings in a reusable travel mug to fill (see info here).  The idea and “contribution” by Starbucks toward bringing awareness to Earth Day and encouraging others to try to shift their habits/focus is great.

However, it would be nice to know approximately how many Starbucks paper cups make their way to the landfill each year because reusable mugs are not used by the average consumer on the other 364 days.  While some of the blame may rest with the consumer, it’s certainly possible that if Starbucks (and other companies) did more all year long to contribute to conservation as much as they contribute to consumption, the world would be a better place.  In viewing the free coffee Earth Day offer at the Starbucks website, it says:     “Last year, when we did a similar promotion on Earth Day, more than 1.2 million of you participated.”  (http://www.starbucks.com/blog/happy-earth-day/993)

So, if 1.2 million people took advantage of the “Earth Day special” at Starbucks in 2010, how many paper cups are used each day and thrown into landfills?  Maybe together, consumers and the businesses that cater to such consumers, can find ways to extend the ideas and responsibility that people think about on Earth Day, into the other 364 days each year.

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Weekly Green Tip #52 from Green52.org

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Green tip for week #52 — Week of April 26, 2009

Composting and Using Rain Barrels

For week 52 of Green52.org’s year-long mission of providing weekly green tips, we are providing a two-for-one weekly green tip.  Instead of only one green idea this week, we want to celebrate the past 52 weeks of weekly green suggestions and environmental responsibility initiatives by providing two new ideas in this 52nd green tip post.  This post caps off a complete year of successful weekly green tips, and a strong readership who have hopefully learned to reduce their environmental impact and support the advocacy efforts made by our site.

On to the tips for week 52:

Composting.

For those of you not already familiar with composting, this is a great way to help the environment, while helping your garden, naturally.  According to the EPA, yard trimmings and food residuals make up a total of 24% of the municipal solid waste in the United States.  Composting, in its most natural form, is a ecological process where plants or vegetation fall to the ground, decay, and ultimately return minerals and nutrients to the surrounding plants, animals and microorganisms.

You can easily and cost-effectively create compost in your own yard, which can then be used for plants and gardening. Not only does this provide a way to recycle and reuse yard waste, it can save money, save garbage/collection costs, and reduce your contribution to the landfill . The compost you create can be used in lawns and gardens to help condition the soil and replenish nutrients.

You can find an extraordinary number of composting barrels or bins by simply searching online.  To find out more about how composting works, or how to make it work for you, check out the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) site on composting here.

Using rain barrels.

Rain barrels are an easy way to harvest rain water, to offset part of your water demand, so some of the water used for yard/gardening can come from rain water, rather than from city/municipal water.  Many commercially available rain barrels connect to your home gutter/downspout system, so you can collect a significant amount of rainwater during a rain storm, in turn using that water during  drier day to water plants or your garden.

There are a great variety of sources for rain barrels, and various styles and systems.  Although you need to make a choice that makes the most sense for you, a few resources we can suggest include: http://www.composters.com/rain-barrels.php; and http://www.rainbarrelsource.com/.  There are even companies that use eco-friendly recycled barrels, like repurposed wine barrels, such as BarrelDepot from Minnesota, here.

If you start composting or using a rain barrel outside your home, you are helping reduce your own “carbon footprint” and environmental impact.  Composting helps utilize yard waste, instead of sending it to the landfill (and it can help you get rid of grass clippings, leaves, etc. without paying trash collection costs for removing them.  Rain barrels allow you to conserve water, and have a “free” water supply for gardening and other plant watering needs.

EDITORIAL NOTE AND THANK YOU:

With these two tips on post #52, Green52.org has now completed one full year of green tips, with a total of 52 weekly green idea posts.  Thank you to each and every one of our many readers who have helped make Green52.org a success, and for each of you who have incorporated one or more of the ideas to help the environment, which was the sole focus of the last year of our initiative.  Please contact us by email at: info AT sustainable thinking DOT org if you would like to suggest an idea for future Green52.org posts, or if you would like to partner with Green52.org for a future environmental responsibility and sustainability project.

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For more weekly green tips, review the 52 weekly green tips at Green52.org and tell
your friends and colleagues about the weekly green tips found at
Green52.org.

Weekly Green Tip #51 from Green52.org

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Green tip for week #51 — Week of April 19, 2009

Celebrate Earth Day in a Profound Way (Earth Day is April 22, 2009)

Photo courtesy of DOE/NREL, Credit - Warren Gretzv

Photo courtesy of DOE/NREL, Credit - Warren Gretzv

Unfortunately, for many people Earth Day only comes around once a year.   It is a day that has gone from insignificant and unnoticed by the masses, to the subject of marketing exploitation and media blitzes with every conceivable celebrity appearing on your favorite tv show reminding you to “go green”.

Earth Day must not last only a day. Earth Day should not have a beginning and an end, and April 22, 2009 should only be the start of new habits, environmental responsibility, and sustainable thinking.  It should not be a momentary diversion from routines that you will continue once the media campaign has vanished.

For Earth Day, 2009, Green52.org encourages you to try to do something profound. Instead of planting a tree on April 22, mobilize your church, your community group, your office, or your school to plant 50 trees.  Instead of using reusable bags for yourself, buy 10 and give them to a few people who you know may be interested in using them but who may be reluctant to purchase them.

Want to really make a difference for Earth Day 2009?  Team up with Green52.org.

Here are a few significant ways to do that:

  1. Make a pledge to incorporate one of our weekly green tips as a change in your routine each month, using a total of 12 of the tips throughout the next year;
  2. Use our site as an opportunity to be an environmental responsibility advocate by telling others about the importance of environmental responsibility and sustainable thinking, while letting others know about our 52 weekly green tips so they can also make an impact;
  3. Suggest to your local newspaper or television station that they should offer weekly green tips throughout the year, rather than ending their environmental awareness initiative on Earth Day (they can contact Green52.org to partner with us to even reproduce our content).

This year, in 2009, make Earth Day the kick-off to a year of improved energy and focus on environmental responsibility.  For those of you using Facebook, Twitter and other social media, spread the word about Earth Day, Green52.org, and your ideas for a sustainable environment.

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For more weekly green tips, come back to Green52.org and tell
your friends and colleagues about the weekly green tips found at
Green52.org.

Weekly Green Tip #50 from Green52.org

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Green tip for week #50 — Week of April 12, 2009

Use sustainable / recycled paper products

The consumption of paper, in homes, schools, businesses, and elsewhere, has a massive environmental impact.  Many times, people purchase paper without consideration for where it came from, and expect that when it is used, a new ream of paper will appear like magic.  There is a massive disconnect for most people between paper (the product) and trees (the source); many times paper is used without a moment’s thought about the fact that the consumption of paper means the consumption of trees.

How can we reduce that impact?  First, cut back on your use of a paper in general.  Recycle discarded paper, particularly mail, printing drafts, and newspaper.  If you can print drafts on both sides of a page, do so.

Next, look at sustainable paper products, or those that have less environmental impact.  There are many paper products made with postconsumer fiber, or recycled materials.  There is a great paper-purchasing checklist available at mohawkpaper.com that specifies what paper products to select to find the greatest environmental benefits.  Here is their checklist, in order of least impact to most:
1. choose paper made with 100% postconsumer waste fiber
2. choose papers with FSC-certified fiber to preserve forest lands
3. choose papers made carbon neutral with Verified Emissions Reduction credits
that fund additive, clean energy projects
4. choose papers made with emission-free renewable energy, such as wind
5. choose papers made with process chlorine free (PCF) or elemental chlorine free (ECF) pulps
6. choose uncoated papers; coated papers yield much less recyclable fiber
7. choose paper mills with a positive environmental track record
8. choose paper mills who have received third party certifications from organizations such as Green-e, Green Seal, and the Forest Stewardship Council    (Source: http://www.mohawkpaper.com/pdfs/Tips_Specify_Sustainable_Papers.pdf)

You may also be interested in learning about the paper-making process, and the interesting facts that can be found at Conservatree.com.  That site states that U.S. printing and writing paper averages a mere 10% recovered content.  That is terrible.  Even though some paper is fully 100% recovered/recycled/post-consumer content, other paper has no recovered content.  An average of 10% recovered content is abysmal, and needs to change.  That will require individuals, companies, schools, churches, political leaders and more to spread the message.

In the current focus on sustainability, environmental responsibility, and resource conservation, let’s not forget about paper, and the trees harvested to make the paper we use.  Harvesting trees and natural forests to make paper results in less habitat for animals, less oxygen production, and the emphasis of consumption over conservation.

Take charge of improving that situation by changing your paper consumption practices, and by sourcing paper made with recovered, recycled, or post-consumer content for your future paper needs.

Tell others about the importance of using environmentally responsible paper products, and the other great green tips you see on a weekly basis at Green52.org.

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For more weekly green tips, come back to Green52.org and tell
your friends and colleagues about the weekly green tips found at
Green52.org.

Weekly Green Tip #49 from Green52.org

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Green tip for week #49 — Week of April 5, 2009

Use Social Media to Promote Environmental Responsibility

Many of the readers of Green52.org are people who are using the many technological resources available to them on a daily basis.  You obviously use your computer to research issues of importance to you, which is probably how you found Green52.org and our weekly green tips.  Since many of you also already use social media resources such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other similar sites, why not use some of these resources to help promote environmental responsibility?

Although we should all be doing our part to reduce our carbon footprint, conserve our natural resources, and leave the least environmental impact possible, doing this individually only fights the small battles.  To make a more substantial impact, you should tell others about the importance of environmental responsibility, and the more quickly and widely you can spread that message, the better.  Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are tremendous outlets to help spread the word about environmental responsibility and awareness.  Maybe on Facebook you can update your status with a comment such as: “John Doe is reading another weekly Green Tip on Green52.org”, or “John Doe is sorting his recycling to help protect our environment.”  Maybe you can post an update on Twitter that you and your friends “Just planted 10 trees to help the planet” or that you are “stoked about doing something significant for Earth Day”.

However you want to use your favorite social media resources is up to you, but this week we would urge you to consider whether you can promote your perspective, knowledge, and enthusiasm for environmental responsibility by spreading that momentum in your friend and social groups.  Remember that environmental responsibility, climate change, and sustainable resources are incredibly important issues.  We should not be bashful about taking an interest in these issues, and we need to tell our friends an those we connect with on a regular basis how important these issues are, and what they can do to help.

Start today by hopping on your Facebook or Twitter page and telling people about the great article you just read at Green52.org.

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For more weekly green tips, come back to Green52.org and tell
your friends and colleagues about the weekly green tips found at
Green52.org.

Weekly Green Tip #48 from Green52.org

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Green tip for week #48 — Week of March 29, 2009

Join a local food co-op or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program

If you haven’t already heard much about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) yet, you will.  Despite the fact that our country and our world have become a very globalized and “the world is flat” economy, the concept of shipping produce from one country to the next and trucking tomatoes from state to state is far more destructive to our ecosystem than first obtaining the food resources you can from the local region you live in.  There is a resurgence of family farms, individual efforts to grow your own food, and communities or individuals who are growing organic produce.  Support of these farms and programs can be a small and easy way to support sustainability.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is typically a community of people with a shared goal — to support a farm operation in such a way as to make it essentially the community’s farm.  This may mean direct ownership in the farm by having each CSA owner or member purchase stock or membership interests in a coop or LLC, or it could simply be a pledge to support the farm with financial resources, ensuring everything grown at the farm is purchased, or other support from the members.  Many of the models involve a shared risk/reward by the members of the CSA, where the shareholders absorb costs of farm or garden operation, while receiving shares of the farm or garden’s crops or produce during the growing season.

This type of member-driven or member-supported community enterprise not only creates interconnection within the community that it is formed, but it provides an invaluable support structure for the farm, helps encourage more sustainable growing practices, and fosters local self-reliance.  All of this contributes in a very significant and tangible way to environmental stewardship, conservation of resources, and “green” thinking.

One of the tangible benefits for members or shareholders of a CSA is fresh, bountiful supplies of whatever produce or crops that farm or garden produces, as each is at its growing and harvesting season.  Becoming a member of a CSA can enable you to get more local, fresh, and healthy produce than you may otherwise have access to.  Sometimes the quantity of food you receive as a member or shareholder can be based upon how much stake you purchase, but you can always get a large share and use this as an opportunity to share with your family and friends, in turn helping them learn about CSA.

If you are looking for a CSA or Community Supported Agriculture farm in your local area, there are several resources you can use, listed below:

  • Local Harvest is an excellent resource for learning about and finding CSAs — find more information about Local Harvest here: http://www.localharvest.org/csa/
  • Rodale Institute has a farm locator you can use to find CSAs or even farms that sell produce direct to consumers or restaurants (choose CSA in the “market type” section and pick your state in the pull-down menu for state): http://www.rodaleinstitute.org/farm_locator
  • The Eat Well Guide has resources for finding local, sustainable, and organic food by area/region, here: http://www.eatwellguide.org/

For a general resource, the United States Department of Agriculture has a section on CSAs, here:  http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/pubs/csa/csa.shtml

This week, in April, we should all be thinking about spring, being outside, and enjoying the outdoors.  As you start planning your summer and think about efforts you can make to be more environmentally responsible this year than last, consider investing in or joining a CSA.

For those of you using Facebook, Twitter and other social media, spread the word about Green52.org, and tell others about the ideas you have heard here.

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For more weekly green tips, come back to Green52.org and tell
your friends and colleagues about the weekly green tips found at
Green52.org.

Weekly Green Tip #47 from Green52.org

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Green tip for week #47 — Week of March 22, 2009

Observe Earth Hour, Saturday March 28, 2009 at 8:30pm (turn off your lights for an hour)

Support Earth Hour

Support Earth Hour

We are all well aware of Earth Day, but have you heard of Earth Hour?  Earth Hour is a worldwide initiative that began in Australia, and is essentially an advocacy and public awareness campaign to help raise the issue of environmental responsibility on the radar of individuals throughout the globe.  The goal is to have homes and business all over the world to turn off their lights for one hour on Saturday March 28th (Earth Hour begins at 8:30pm).  According to CNET news, approximately 2.2 million homes and businesses observed this Earth Hour in 2007, and in 2008 Earth Hour was observed by approximately 50 million.  See the full story here.

The lofty goal for 2009 is to have Earth Hour observed by 1 billion homes and businesses, and thanks to Facebook, Twitter, other social media, and of course Green52.org, that type of response may be possible.  More information about Earth Hour can be found at the website EarthHour.org.

Please send this article to as many friends and colleagues as possible to be sure this year’s Earth Hour is a success in raising the issue of environmental responsibility for 1 billion people.  With 1 billion people focused on the environment, climate issues, sustainable thinking, renewable energy, and similar issues, it could be the type of kick-start our world needs to take initiative in creating a force of change.  Earth Hour, and particularly the concept of shutting off lights, will make a visible and substantial statement, and it will become all the more visible and substantial if more people hear about the intiative and join in.  Even world landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Great Pyramids of Giza will observe Earth Hour by going dark for the hour beginning 8:30pm on March 28th.

Our weekly green tips at Green52.org are typically relatively simple and easy-to-implement green living and environmental responsibility concepts.  Whether you read Green52.org weekly, or are visiting for the first time, we urge you to incorporate this week’s tip and observe Earth Hour on Saturday 28, 2009 at 8:30pm.  Please help spread the word and invite your friends, family, and acquaintances to do the same.  Tell everyone you know about Earth Hour and Green52.org, and encourage others to take environmental responsibility seriously.  For those of you using Facebook, Twitter and other social media, spread the word about Earth Hour, and tell them you heard about it on Green52.org.

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For more weekly green tips, come back to Green52.org and tell
your friends and colleagues about the weekly green tips found at
Green52.org.

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