Earth Hour - Saturday, March 28th 2009 - Get Left in the Dark!

March 27, 2009

Earth Hour 2009 is exactly one day away. Mark your calendars, set an alarm for - Saturday, March 28th from 8:30 - 9:30 pm local time. World Wildlife Fund is asking individuals, businesses, governments and organizations around the world to turn off their lights for one hour – Earth Hour – to make a global statement of concern about climate change and to demonstrate commitment to finding solutions.

Click here to read more about Earth Hour and find local spots in your area that will be going dark. 

Get ready, get set, get in the dark.

 


Counting Down to Earth Day: What Can You Do?

March 27, 2009

What can you do in these final weeks before Earth Day, 2009?  There is no time like the present to start working to pollute less personally and participate in the discussion in your own community. 
 
First, here’s a personal pollution checklist. Are you:
 
Carpooling?
Recycling every item possible?
Buying locally grown and manufactured?
Checking second-hand stores before buying that new gadget?
Recycling printer cartridges, motor oil and auto batteries, along with newspapers the right way, every time?
 
Good job!
 
Now, regarding getting involved in that community discussion.  First, check with your city council to find out if they have an "Earth Day Proclamation" and what your municipality's observance will include.  If they are all set, ask if you can help out.  Volunteers are almost always welcome.

If nothing is in place, there is still time for you to change that.  Draft a simple resolution to honor "Earth Day" where you are.  It doesn't have to be fancy and you don't have to spell things correctly.  You’ll need a few "Whereas" statements to lay out the resolution’s premise.  The “whereas” statements can be thought of having two parts, general points and locally focused points.  You’ll follow that with the "Be it resolved" statements, suggesting what needs to done.
 
For instance:
 
"Whereas we are using resources faster than our planet can produce them, and whereas we are polluting faster than we can clean it up, be it resolved that we work together to cut our carbon emissions, try to slow and stop pollution and Greenify the Earth.  And be it further resolved that we will honor April 22 as Earth Day 2009, to be observed as such in our homes and businesses and every day thereafter." 
 
Put that together on recycled paper, and you'll be a sure hit in any city council on this planet. 


Buzz Building for Green Businesses

March 26, 2009

Are you noticing more talk about green business?  More advertisements by large, international companies about "sustainable energy sources," new listings at business conferences for added "green business opportunity panels," and even President Barack Obama on the “Tonight Show” with Jay Leno, talking about electric cars going over 150 miles as Leno smiled and added that he already owns a car that runs on hydrogen, which is "an entirely different technology."
 
These increases in "buzz" about Greenification are a healthy sign for our world.  Our planet is in a state of emergency: we are consuming and polluting at a rate 25% faster than the planet can sustain.  That fact has to change or we and our children are doomed.  We may no longer be able to “buy cheaper from Asian producers” because of the cost in terms of carbon. 
 
In the coming months, we're going to be encouraged to support business within our borders.  And as part of that, I suggest we also look for green businesses that are local and sustainable, too. 

Buying local equals buying greener.  Have you ever thought about the effort needed to get a product made in a small town in rural Georgia to market in Portland, Oregon, for instance?  The product has to be packaged for sale, re-packed for shipping, then put on a truck or train (or both) and then unloaded from that container into a warehouse, re-loaded for shipping to a store before being placed on a shelf.  Isn't there a greener way? 
 
Look around for local producers of products that you buy from remote producers.  Prices are changing because of the recession and things that were once out of consideration may now be priced more attractively.  That would also make a case for them being a lot more planet-friendly.  
 
We have to find a balance between the social and natural systems in a world where people on one land-mass consume resources at 5 or ten times the rate of people in other regions.   We need to Greenify as one world in order to save our one world.  


Follow the Leader: Grow Your Own!

March 23, 2009

The Greening of the White House continues in Washington where Michelle Obama has now planted a garden on the White House'  South Lawn.  The First Lady is after more "fresh, unprocessed, locally grown" vegetables for her family, and if she has to raise them herself, she says she will.
 
This is one indication of the commitment to environmental issues apparent in the Obama administration. Mrs. Obama is a backer of what is called the "Slow Food Movement," begun by Alice Waters decades ago. 
 
It includes foods that have lower carbon footprints because they are locally grown, locally produced, and locally consumed.  They are grown organically, without chemical pesticides and fertilizers that can leach into the water table and in spite of doing good where intended, resurface elsewhere with harmful effects.  
 
We're all capable of doing this ourselves, and in a recessionary economy, maybe it's time to see about that green thumb you've been hiding in your pocket?  How about putting in a few tomato plants on along the side wall of your house?  Maybe see about some peas and beans to climb the rear fence?  A couple of rows of corn along there might not be a bad idea, too.
 
So your soil doesn't do well, you say?  Maybe it's time to get some natural fertilizer?  Start your own decomposition chamber in a back corner. You may want to build a container, because sometimes that can have an unneighborly side effect: smell.   You can also visit an area stable and procure some equine refuse matter (that's my nice way of saying horse manure).  Break up a pound or so into a gallon bucket of water, let it sit for a day.  Then pour that steeped "tea" over the plants and in the areas you intend to sew seeds.  You'll reap the rewards.

And as you're out there, toiling away, don't think you're the only one who is going to be working in their garden this summer.  The First Lady says the President will be commandeered into green garden duty, too.  As Mrs. Obama says, "whether he likes it or not.”


First Quarter Check-up: How Green Is Your Business So Far?

March 22, 2009

It’s now mid March and we’re closing in on completion of the first quarter of 2009, so how are you doing on your goal of going green at your business this year?   Shall we run down the checklist?

Are you using more recycled products, even for just a few days every month, in your printing and waste paper uses?   Every little bit helps and since they are a touch more expensive (and we’re all watching our pennies) sometimes it’s all we can do to work on it a few days at a time.

Are you asking customers whether they’re interested in electronic billing to cut down paper usage and then of course recycling your own waste paper?  This is very important and can help benefit two ways: 1) fewer trees are cut down and 2) fewer landfills are needed.  Same goes for aluminum cans.  Recycling, right?

You’ve gotten rid of the old fluorescent light bulbs and replaced them with energy efficient CFLs, which saves on energy and money, since these bulbs are made to provide light for more years than the old ones.

All lights, including the after hours signs, are now on timers. 

You’re encouraging carpools among your office staff, whether by offering reserved better parking spaces or by chipping in for carpool resources. 

You’ve gotten rid of those paper plates in the company lunch room, and put in a supply of unbreakable glass plates (yes, they DO make ‘em!) to save more on paper.  Employees are struggling, but learning to put the dishes in the energy efficient dishwasher.

And computers, where possible, are laptops.  This keeps electricity usage down nice and low. 

If you’re doing some or all of these things, you’re off to a great start to Greenify your business, save some cash and help to save the environment. 


Green Is the Color of Your Business’ Bottomline!

March 16, 2009

Green is the color of your business’ bottomline… or it ought to be.   Did you know that two-thirds of Americans believe that going green at your business is good business strategy?   More and more frequently, consumers are starting to believe that the environment, ethics, and social stewardship bring increased brand value.

You can see it in the way they spend money: over the past 5 years, the sales of organic and all-natural products have increased 18 to 25 percent, year over year.  And you think about how much more frequently you see consumers in grocery stores with their own reusable grocery bags.  Those bags are popping up everywhere!

Studies also show that 30% of American consumers are willing to pay a premium (up to 20%) on clean, green products over non-sustainable, carbon-sucking alternatives.  The number grows every year. 

If your business is green (or going green), are you alerting customers to that in your marketing?   It’s considered a “growth area” for the advertising and marketing industry, and these days, every little bit helps.  You can post an emblem on your website, add it to your sales slips, put up a sign in the window and again at the check out counter. 

Supporting a green business is important to all of us.  It’s important to consumers.  It’s important to the planet.  It’s important to you and your employees because doing the right thing feels good.  And when adopting environmentally sensitive practices (making efforts to Greenify), or going green feels so right, there will be more businesses and more consuming joining in the effort as we go along.


Earth Day Is On The Way!

March 14, 2009

Earth Day is now just over a month away and signs of this year’s celebration are beginning to build.  I was in a business in Arlington, VA this past week and noticed a paper poster that looked like a child’s bright-colored painting of a bright green bush with the words “Earth Day 2009!” printed on it. 

What does Earth Day bring?  It’s a chance to remind everyone on the planet that this is where we all live and work.  And that we have to share its resources and work together to make sure that it stays a healthy place to live and raise families.

Earth Day is our chance to stop focusing on the problems that we all face, dealing with the economic worries and the poor job climate and the mortage/market crises.  It’s a day to put those aside and focus on being positive about our planet and our ability to work towards one goal for the good of all people.  (I wish I could say it was a day off from the threat of terrorism and all violence, but I don’t think terrorists work like that.)

It’s also a day to stop, smell the roses, feel the grass under our feet and find the cleanest air we can to inhale.   There will be demonstrations and gatherings all over the world this year. There will be people shouting their strong feelings and those quietly smiling as they enjoy watching cows graze along the side of a road somewhere.  There will be words from our leaders and probably a few proposals put forward on this day.

But also let’s keep in mind that if just a few more of us decide to recycle and try to reduce their carbon footprint, the most important goal of Earth Day will have been achieved: to bring us together to protect and improve life here on this great green Earth.

We can be the Green Generation: a generation that really gets the effort underway to Greenify and to make the planet a better place for those to come.


Make It Your Business to Green Your (Air) Space

March 9, 2009

When you arrived at your place of business this morning, did you breathe deep and hope that the air was clean… and green?  What if instead of buying an expensive (and energy consuming) air purification system, you could add plants and get some of the same healthful effects?  You remember from sixth grade science class about how humans breathe oxygen and release carbon dioxide, while plants need carbon dioxide and release oxygen?  If plants are constantly renewing our air, wouldn’t it be great if adding a few living plants could help clean the air at work?

Some scientists say that adding common houseplants can help clean the air at a business or at home.  That’s because many plants function as natural air filters, cleaning contaminants out of indoor air and improving the quality of what you are breathing.

The scientists say that their studies have found that some common plants are effective at removing toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, benzene and other natural pollutants from air, particularly helpful in enclosed areas.  These studies were first reported by NASA over two decades ago. 

Dr. Bill Wolverton, one of the NASA scientists who was involved in the original studies recommends plants like Peace Lily, Areca Palm, Lady Palm, Ficus Alii, and Golden Pathos, because they are easy to take care of and among the most effective at naturally removing pollutants.

And there’s more.  University of Georgia researchers searching for floral purifiers suggest Purple Waffle Plant, English Ivy, Purple Heart, Foxtail Fern, and the Wax Plant. 

When it comes to indoor air purification, can there ever be too much?  The air inside our homes and businesses can be heavily polluted.  Chemicals used to clean offices and businesses can be very harsh; and traffic passing on nearby roads pushes toxic exhaust into our homes as well. 

That's not great news when you consider that we spend about 90 percent of our time indoors.  Maybe it’s time to add a few lush green accents to benefit to our lungs and our businesses. Greenify today for better business!


Greenify… the Economy or the Environment?

March 4, 2009

There’s a battle shaping up in Florida right now. Call it “Greenification versus Employment.”  And it’s struggle that’s going to be shaping up in other locations around the country.

To light a fire under the Sunshine State’s frozen economy, some legislators are seeking to "streamline" a slew of environmental and growth regulations.  They are proposing everything from erasing or weakening protections for wetlands and wildlife to cutting requirements that developers improve roads to handle the traffic glut involved in building new projects.

One proposed law that is already drawn up could have major implications for urban counties like Miami-Dade and Broward as it virtually eliminates state oversight of new mega-developments. Other proposed measures could bar Miami-Dade County from enforcing its own environmental rules which are tougher than the state’s standards.

Advocates argue a regulatory overhaul, which is backed by builder and industry groups, could spur growth and jobs by making "duplicative" permitting processes for homes, offices and other buildings cheaper and faster.

These days, with the current economic “contraction,” we are all worried about the economy. We are all worried about jobs.  But the choice isn’t employment or environment; it’s as President Barack Obama says “doing the right thing for right now, or making the tough choice for long term benefit.”

As for the proposals in Florida, Charles Pattison, executive director of 1,000 Friends of Florida, an advocacy group that promotes "smart growth" policy, said he supported encouraging construction in cities, but said the bill's definition of "urban" could wind up promoting more sprawl.

"This is like trying to build our way out of the problem," Pattison said. "What we did in the past didn't work, so let's do it again, only more of it."

We know we’ve made the short term choice in the past and we’re not in a good spot now.  So maybe it’s time to try to do both: Greenify the planet and green up our economy, too. 


State of the Union: Going Forward to Greenify

March 3, 2009

If you heard the State of the Union address by President Barack Obama this past week, then you heard him talking about moving forward on alternative energy to get Americans away from fossil fuels and on to something that relies less on foreign sources.  He says he believes it’s within our reach and that investing in it now will pay off big benefits in the long-term.

And as for his budget, President Obama's budget proposal would repeal several oil industry tax incentives while imposing new taxes on Gulf of Mexico producers to close "loopholes" that have allowed companies to avoid royalty payments.  In fact, those “loopholes” would bring in $31.5 billion in additional funds and taxes to tax coffers.

These proposals are sure to be fought over by Republicans and Democrats alike on Capitol Hill and the fighting over this budget is expected to go on for months. 

But in the meantime, companies starved for work for their engineers, designers, dreamers and other American workers will be focused on the possibilities of alternative fuel sources.  They’ll be looking for ways to attract investment dollars, define themselves as alternative energy producers, and getting government interest in those projects.  (If you look on the internet, there are already predictions of which companies will be first with success in the alternative energy areas. Investors are circling.)

The economy is bleak and barren looking for the moment, but maybe this is the way to find our way back to greener pastures: by looking for a Greenified future that’s more focused on energy supplies that we all hope will leave smaller carbon footprints. 


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