Now that Earth Day Is Over... What Are You Doing?

April 28, 2009

Now that Earth Day is over again for this year, how do we go forward with our resolve to be more protective of our planet and its valuable natural resources?
We've celebrated the planet, now it's time to get serious and Greenify in a meaningful way.
 
Here are some ideas that I had:
 
*Car pool at least one day per week.  This saves on fuel and parking spaces at work.  If you're the boss, lead the way and encourage employees to do it.  Maybe you can start by offering to pick up an employee or two on the way to work at least once a week.
 
*Turn off lights when you leave the room.  Every time.
 
*Use recyclable paper as often as possible.  Yes, it does cost a little more, but it also saves our planet a lot.
 
*Dial down on heat and up on air conditioning.  68 degrees in the winter and 72 degrees in the summer (if not more) can make a huge difference in the company energy bill, too.
 
*Intall timers on restroom lights.  It's a safe bet no one wants to stay in there very long anyway, right? 
 
*Eat lunch at your desk.  Saves money and fuel.
 
*Add plants for decoration and pollution control.  If you have landscaping outdoors, remember to put the watering cycles on timers, too, and water only at night.Conservation is key. 
 
*Encourage others in their to Greenify, as well.  Can we underestimate the power of a good compliment to a fellow businessperson?  If they're weighing the importance of their greenification efforts, it's always good to hear encouraging words.  Plus, it does help make and keep friends.
 
Earth Day only comes once per year, but the goal is to celebrate the importance of our Earth every day and try to keep it a clean, more healthful place to live.


America the Beautiful; Americans the Energy Conservationists!

April 24, 2009

I just finished driving across country from the East Coast to the West Coast, which I have done several times before.  Every time I do this, I notice something different.  This time, what struck me was the growth of alternative energy sources around the country.  We’re looking for alternative energy and it seemed to me, the answer is blowing in the wind.

I am accustomed to seeing the huge turbines in the desert surrounding Palm Springs.  They sometimes are turning but many of them are stilled and I’ve always wondered whether they are still due to lack of wind or lack of interest in making them provide clean energy to operate our cities?

I took a different route this time and saw wind farms where I had never seen them before including the Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center.  This energy farm in Texas is the world’s largest energy producing wind farm with 735.5 megawatt capacity.  Texas is the state with the most wind farms in operation as well as the most farms under construction. 

I also saw wind farms in operation in Iowa when I was there last summer.  Minnesota and Oregon both also have large numbers of farms.

But the sight of these gentle-looking giants slowly turning, looking as though they will spring loose and roll away with the wind driving them always makes me wonder why we don’t have more of these?

The government has been pouring resources into renewable energy sources.  There is support for these programs and interest in them. Americans have said in surveys that they will pay more for green products.  This is one that ought to be supported.

Taking a coast-to-coast road trip is actually a fairly resource-intensive undertaking.  But my plans necessitated it, and I hoped some good would come it.  So thanks for letting me share these hopeful views of our country.  We can Greenify together, and we need to find answers.  This past week, I saw that process getting underway. 


Earth Day Appreciation

April 22, 2009

I thought in celebration of Earth Day 2009, we would go over a few facts about the wonderful world we live in.  These are some of the many things I find amazing about our planet:

Our Earth is about 4.5 billion years old.

It travels through space at 660,000 miles per hour.

During the course of one day, the sun causes about one trillion tons of water to evaporate.

Jellyfish have been on Earth for over 650 million years, before sharks and dinosaurs.

The Amazon rainforest produces more than 20% of the world's oxygen supply.

There are more insects in one square mile of rural land than there are human beings on the entire earth.

The overall amount of water on our planet has remained the same for two billion years.

Approximately 70 percent of the Earth is covered with water. Only 1 percent of the water is drinkable.

In a 100-year period, a water molecule spends 98 years in the ocean, 20 months as ice, about 2 weeks in lakes and rivers, and less than a week in the atmosphere; but at the same time, groundwater can take a human lifetime just to traverse a mile.

The oceans of the world would rise about 60 meters if Antarctica's ice sheets melted.

The Atlantic Ocean is saltier than the Pacific Ocean.

If all the salt were to be extracted from the oceans, there would be enough salt to cover all the continents five feet deep.

An earthquake in 1811 caused parts of the Mississippi River to flow backwards.

Finland is also known as "the land of of the thousand lakes."

Aluminum forms one-twelfth of the Earth's crust.

A volcano has enough power to shoot ash as high as 50 km into the atmosphere.

About 27 tons of dust rains down on the earth each day from space.

It is impossible for a solar eclipse to last more than 8 minutes.

Of all known forms of animals life ever to inhabit the Earth, only about 10 percent still exist today.

The sad truth is to realize how many of these factoids are being impacted by our human presence and poor stewardship of the planet.  Earth Day is a great day to consider how you can consume less, leave a smaller carbon footprint, and perhaps leave the world a better place. 

Best wishes for the greenest of Earth Days from your friends at Green Business Alliance.

Greenify Today for a Better Tomorrow!


HAPPY EARTH DAY!!!

April 22, 2009

All the best for the Greenest of Earth Days in 2009 from your friends at Green Business Alliance!


Earth Day 2009

April 20, 2009

Earth Day is coming up this Wednesday, so I thought today we’d talk a little about the history of this great day on our planet.  It’s a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for our Mother Earth. 

In September 1969 at a conference in Seattle, Washington, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin announced a “nationwide grassroots demonstration on the environment” that would be celebrated the following Spring. This announcement came at a time of great concern about overpopulation and when there was a strong movement towards "Zero Population Growth."

Senator Nelson proposed the nationwide environmental protest in order to thrust the environment onto the national agenda.

"It was a gamble," he recalls, "but it worked."

April 22, 1970, Earth Day marked the beginning of the modern environmental movement as approximately 20 million Americans participated, with a goal of a healthy, sustainable environment.

The man who coordinated all those people, Denis Hayes led the organization of massive coast-to-coast rallies. There were thousand of colleges and universities organizing protests against the abuse and deterioration of the environment.  Groups that had fought against pollution of factories, steel mills, and power plants, organizing against oil spills, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways and wildlife extinction all suddenly came together under one umbrella.

By Earth Day on April 22, 1990, the number answering the rally cry had reached 200 million, with a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide.  It also helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

The Earth Day in 2000 focused on global warming and a push for clean energy.  It combined the big-picture feistiness of the first Earth Day with the international grassroots activism of Earth Day 1990. It also had the Internet helping to link activists around the world as 5,000 environmental groups reached out to hundreds of millions of people in a record 184 countries. Earth Day 2000 sent the message loud and clear that citizens the world 'round wanted quick and decisive action on clean energy. Earth Day 2007 was one of the largest Earth Days to date, with an estimated billion people participating in the activities in thousands of places like Kiev, Ukraine; Caracas, Venezuela; Tuvalu; Manila, Philippines; Togo; Madrid, Spain; London; and New York.

Earth Day 2009 is expected to push forward with more driving force, bringing over half a billion people together with one goal and focus: to stop deterioration and pollution of the planet; to undo damage where possible and to provide a better world for all of us to live in.  We hope you will join in this wondrous cause with us. 


Use What You Have, Consume Fewer Resources

April 16, 2009

When I was a child, my father liked to refer to any of his four children as “The Great Consumer” whenever we wasted things.  You know how kids are: we piled our plates high, but ate less than half of the food we took.  We constantly wanted more toys or clothes.  And we left the lights on as we went from room to room. 

These days, we’re all trying to crack down on expenses.  You might start by looking in your own refrigerator.  Wasted food is clogging up our landfills.  According to the EPA, 31.7 million tons of food scraps were sent to landfills in 2007. That’s a lot of dry toast and bad meatloaf.  Those 63 billion pounds of food sitting in landfills are creating methane gases in their decay, which is destroying our ozone layer and cause global warming.

Some folks are getting really creative with it.  The online community is full of talk of people getting all their food out of dumpsters.  They are “rescuing” vegetables, baked goods, and other items from refuse containers and using it in their diets.  And they’re feeling good about it. 

Other groups are taking in leftover baked goods from commercial bakeries and produce that has passed its prime and making meals for the homeless and lower income families.  These food items are often very high quality, but since many Americans don’t like the label “day old,” these items are discarded and picked up by groups such as Forgotten Harvest as well as local and regional kitchens around the country.

What can you do?  Focus on what you’re eating.  Take leftovers to work for lunch.  Make just what you need and eat what you make.  You’ll be happier, less wasteful, and have a smaller carbon footprint.  You also won’t have a father calling you “The Great Consumer” anymore.  


Ready for Earth Day 2009

April 14, 2009

Earth Day 2009 is now about one week away and what is your business doing about it? Have you made any plans to Greenify?

Are you staying open that day or shutting down to take your employees and family to events in a nearby park or civic square?  Have you put up posters for those events and maybe written a tagline on your company’s cash register receipts, advertising what’s going on and where on Earth Day?

National Geographic wants your ideas.  They’re working with Sun Chips to provide a cash prize to whoever comes up with the best Green idea, starting on Earth Day, April 22, 2009 and going until June 8, 2009.  All you do is click here for rules on how to enter your best green idea.  You could win $20,000 to implement your idea.

But what if your idea is small? Is it something you could do now, without any financing or fanfare?  You could spend Earth Day 2009 implementing it yourself.  How about if you use the day to plant a garden?  You’ll have fun in the sun and reap the benefits in months to come.  You’ll help Greenify by reducing the amount of chemicals used in producing vegetables and fuel used in shipping them.  You might even enjoy working out in your garden all summer. 

Other things to do include bicycling to work.  Carpooling, if the distance is too long.  Turning the lights off and opening the blinds just for one day.  Turn your computer off when you go to lunch.  Better yet, plan to bring your lunch and enjoy an earth-friendly potluck picnic with your employees or coworkers in the park.

Earth Day 2009 will be full of exciting endeavors that will only happen on that day. But by planning to do something small, you ensure that you can relive and enjoy an “everyday Earth Day” over and over again.


Greenify Your Business

April 13, 2009

If you’re looking for a new business or to Greenify an existing business, have you considered bicycle deliveries?  A business in Portland, Oregon was trying to figure out ways to make their delivery service more earth-friendly, and they got the idea to start doing deliveries on bicycles.

It’s very old school. And in a few major cities, bicycle curriers are a frequently used delivery system.  But this is something different. 

They use special cargo bicycles. The business is “B-Line Sustainable Urban Delivery.  They’re a start-up formed by the husband and wife team of Kathryn and Franklin Racine-Jones. 

“We hope B-Line can help add green core jobs and create a different type of city.  We’re trying to create a new model of distributing goods in urban areas.”

The duo moved to Portland from the San Francisco Bay area about 9 months ago. They were looking for a place that was open and interested in greener ways of doing business.  Portland is known for bikes and enjoying earth-friendly approaches to doing business.  So far, so good, right?

Their idea is simple.  They’re using specially modified cargo bikes to deliver goods within Portland, also known as “The Rose City.”   They are doing more good deeds than you might think.  They’re using fewer natural resources (although the bikers’ legs might argue that!) sparing downtown streets from the wear and tear of large delivery trucks, and providing a very earth-friendly link in a company’s distribution chain. 

All in all, a great Greenification effort that is truly going the last mile.


A Personal Commitment to Greenify: A Life Less Plastic

April 10, 2009

Have you thought about committed you are to a Greener life?  I was reading about various groups and individuals who are trying to make a difference when I spotted one person who is really tackling the idea for herself.  Jeanne Haegele is a 29 year old marketing coordinator in Chicago.  She writes a blog called “Life Less Plastic.”  The blog name tells all, so I emailed her a few questions and this fascinating woman offered these answers:

GBA: Where did you get the idea for your plastic-less blog?

JH: The project was set in motion when a friend of mine in the medical field explained that plastic may have negative health effects.  I started to research about plastic online.  I read that certain plastics may have serious potential for harmful effects and also found that plastic use is having very serious effects on the environment, mostly because plastic really isn't being recycled. After learning this, I became convinced that I wanted to give up plastic.

As I learned more about plastic and how to avoid it, the project became more about the environment.  Americans use 30 million tons of plastic each year, according to the EPA's statistics from 2007.  Very little of that is recycled, mostly because recycling plastic really isn't an economically viable thing to do. 

Giving up plastic became increasingly important for me.  I wanted to protect myself from the chemicals in plastic, yes, but I also wanted to do something to protect the environmental damage created by plastic, a substance that never bio-degrades.

GBA: How successful do you feel have you been and what were the trickiest parts of your efforts to get plastic out of your life and be more environmentally conscious?

JH: After working out lots of strategies to avoid the plastic, I feel like I've been really successful at getting it out of my life.  I barely use any, and I'm really proud of that.  The trickiest part of this whole experiment was just figuring out how to avoid plastic in the first place.  I had to completely revise how I shop.  Instead of buying lots of pre-packaged goods, I now stick to fruits and vegetables and go to stores that sell food from bulk bins.

GBA: Do you feel like you are missing out on anything living without plastic?

JH: The one thing I really miss is cheese.  It's very difficult to find cheese that isn't wrapped in plastic so I don't eat too much of it anymore.

To catch up with Jeanne and get ideas on how to further Greenify your life by eliminating plastic, you can visit her blog.

(LINK: http://lifelessplastic.blogspot.com/ )


A Greener View: Energy Efficient Windows

April 9, 2009

As a home or business owner, this year may be one of the toughest years you’ve ever faced.  You’d like to do something more to Greenify, but how can you spend money that you may need to pay bills and keep the business afloat?
 
You might want to look outside your four walls and consider new windows.
Thanks to the stimulus bill, homeowners can now claim a tax credit of up to $1,500 for new, energy-efficient windows, doors, and skylights.  For businesses, it can be an asset to the business that will be quickly cost effective.  

This website, http://www.efficientwindows.org/ is sponsored by the government to provide information for homeowners who are trying to decide whether they can afford to make this commitment to energy savings this year, in this difficult economy. 
Who wouldn’t like to have fresh new windows to look out of or maybe a skylight overhead that brightens the day and allows you to fully enjoy a pounding rainstorm when it rumbles through? 

Whether we’re talking about adding double paned windows, tinted and treated glass, or skylights that eliminate the need for electrical lighting through a major portion of the day, these windows are increasingly valuable in the workplace and at home. 

The tax credit related to the current stimulus is to cover 30% of the cost of energy efficient windows, doors and skylights purchased and installed in 2009 to 2010.  The maximum amount covered, as previously mentioned, is $1500.  But even without the tax credit, these windows can save their owners hundreds of dollars every year in energy costs, whether it’s on heat in the winter or air conditioning in the summer. 

The website’s factsheet contains information and estimates about the cost savings in multiple areas of the country for your convenience.   Another factsheet details how to qualify for the tax credit.

Spending the money and upgrading to new energy efficient windows may also help Greenify the economy, since the stimulus is designed to work better if we all spend a little extra.  Wouldn’t it be great if we spent the money to buy something that could help cut down our carbon footprint and benefit everyone in more ways than one? 


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