How does a Connecticut goat farmer go from tending his herd to a lobbyist, new legislation creator, and biodiesel producer? One Connecticut man began by asking why not?
Christos Glynos and his partner, George Linardos, Sr. began the planning phase to build a biodiesel production facility on Mr. Glynos farm nearly four years ago. After the arduous task of locating a company willing and able to design and build such a unique project, they applied for a permit only to have Bethlehem, Connecticut, building officials turn them down.
"Anytime you want to start something new or foreign to people, road blocks pop up all over the place and people all around you say, You can't do that! I just looked at them and kept asking, "Why not?" Most of the time the people in government agencies admitted they didn't know why, so I set up round table discussions to make them tell me exactly what they needed me to do to make it happen," Glynos said.
That laundry list--changing legislation, rewritting building codes, creating tax incentives for schools who use biodiesel in their buses, and finding the funding for research and development and educational programs about alternative energy options--would chase many people off and back into a cushy job in corporate America.
But they had a dream and believed in an opportunity. "When we started thinking about BioPur, gasoline was $1.25 a gallon. People looked at me and said, Why would you bother, gas is only 1.25? I told them I didn't think it would stay that way and besides, we were too dependent on foreign oil."
So he and his partner set off to overcome every obstacle that appeared in their path and today, they're producing 400,000 gallons of locally manufactured biofuel with plans to double that amount in the next year.
More and more people are bringing their awareness of green living to their place of business. From large corporations like Walmart to small businesses like my neighborhood printer--a growing number of businesses are becoming more environmentally responsible.
According to an April 2007 Gallup survey, 47% of small business owners are taking steps to being more environmentally responsible. They're learning that eco-conscious choices not only help the planet and the people on it, but boost their bottom line as well. Lower maintenance and operating costs, and a growing market share of consumers who are supporting green business make environmentally sound business a wise choice. What's more, grants like those available from the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund can refund up to half the cost of installing solar panels, which quickly decreases utility costs.
Want to learn more about recycling in your office? Check out these resources.
Recycling: www.earth911.org (general office), www.eiae.org (electronics), www.dell.com/recycling, www.apple.comenvironment/recycling/program, www.hp.com/recycle (computers), www.greendisk.com (computer disks, CDs), www.rbrc.org/call2recycle (batteries and cell phones), www.lamprecycle.org (fluorescent lamps and bulbs (containing mercury), www.carpetrecovery.org, www.antron.net (carpet).
Source: Priority Magazine, September/October 2007
Alex Scaperotta and Jordan Reichgut noticed that many people in the school pick up lines idle their cars. They learned through research that unnecessary idling wastes gasoline and releases CO² into the atmosphere, which accelerates global warming. They thought that a good place to start would be to get parents of Cider Mill School students to commit to not idling their car in the pick up line or anywhere else. Their message is simple: IF YOU IDLE YOUR CAR FOR TEN SECONDS OR MORE, YOU ARE USING MORE GAS THAN TURNING YOUR CAR OFF AND ON. In addition, they learned that idling is unnecessary to “warm up” your car (the best way to warm it up is to drive it) and idling is in fact harmful to engines – causing more gasoline residue to build up in the engines, exhaust system rusting, and more.
Twenty-one-year-old Mercedes DeMasi of Redding, Connecticut, has formed a group called Students for Environmental Action at West Connecticut State University. Top on her to-do list--a proposal detailing how the University can reduce its energy consumption by 10 percent within the next year by making small adjustments to day-to-day activities such as switching off lights, turning down thermostats and changing over to CFL bulbs. Her initiative and take-charge attitude also earned her a spot on the university energy council.
Students at Western Connecticut State University who want to join Students for Environmental Action can call Mercedes DeMasi at (203) 938-9016 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org
There certainly is a lot to be fearful about these days. Even so, this project has nothing to do with fear. Not only is there "nothing to fear but fear itself," but fear paralyzes us into sitting by idle each day until the end of our lives when we are left to face that which is far worse than even sweaty-palms, lump-in-the-throat-fear----our regret.
The veil of denial about my own personal impact on climate change evaporated while viewing An Inconvenient Truth. I watched with my eyes open wide and dry from not wanting to miss a second. "Before you jump from denial...to despair...stop in the middle...and do something," struck a chord so deep inside that it rolled around, percolated, and echoed in my mind until CTGreenScene was born.
"At present most of us do nothing. We look away. We remain calm. We are silent. We take refuge in the hope that the holocaust won’t happen, and turn back to our individual concerns. We deny the truth that is all around us. Indifferent to the future of our kind, we grow indifferent to one another. We drift apart. We grow cold. We drowse our way to the end of the world. But if once we shook off our lethargy and fatigue and began to act, the climate would change. Just as inertia produces despair—a despair often so deep it does not know itself as despair—arousal and action would give us access to hope, and life would start to mend: not just life in its entirety but daily life, every individual life. At that point we would begin to withdraw from our role as both the victims and the perpetrators. …
We would no longer be the destroyers of mankind, but rather, a gateway through which the future generations would enter the world. Then the passion and will that we need to save ourselves would flood into our lives. The walls of indifference, inertia, and coldness that now isolate each of us from others, and all of us from the past and future generations, would melt, like snow in spring. …"
—Jonathan Schell, The Fate of the Earth
It's Back-to-School and what better time to kick off a great year by starting a school-wide recycling program! Check out these tips from Treehugger.com
1. Find out who else in your school is passionate about recycling and is willing to help!
2. Decide what can be recycled in your school district. Items such as paper, plastic, printer cartridges, batteries or clothing are all fair game.
3. Form a recycling club to be responsible for the program.
4. Determine who will get the recyclables to the transfer station. Some potential candidates include custodians, parents, volunteers or in many areas the trash company or town itself.
5. Decide where to store your schools recyclables until transport.
6. Find out how many classroom, lounge and cafeteria recycling containers will be needed, and then raise money for their purchase.
7. Have committee or club members make presentations to each classroom about the importance of recycling.
8. Weigh and measure recyclables and post this information for the entire school to see to encourage more recycling.
9. Hold contests and competitions between grade levels or classrooms to see who can recycle the most.
10. Find fun things to do with the funds raised by collecting bottle-return money!
11. Write to CTGreenScene and let us know how you made out!!!
What happens when 50 people who rarely or never speak come together for an entire day? Miracles.
This fall, the Ridgefield Clergy Association and RACE will co-sponsor a day-long retreat for members of the Ridgefield Board of Selectmen, Planning and Zoning Commission, the superintendent of schools, principals, teachers and students, the League of Women Voters, members of the Chamber of Commerce, Clergymen, builders and developers, business leaders, Rotary, civics groups, environmental groups, banks, and affordable housing to meet with one goal in mind: to identify the things in their community that they love and want to preserve for generations to come.
By facilitating cross communication and giving people an opportunity to discuss the challenges they face in preserving the town that they love, there's no telling what wondrous results may emerge.
This year marks our 20th anniversary Clean-up--a community event that gets people of all ages working together to clean up litter along the banks of the Farmington River and its tributaries. In 2006, clean up sites were in Avon, Barkhamsted, Bloomfield, Bristol, Burlington, Farmington, Granby, and Simsbury. Over 350 volunteers participated in collecting nearly 4 tons of trash in 2006. Let's beat that number this year! For more information, visit the Farmington Watershed Association website.
It's no coincidence that James Whelan heads up a Ridgefield, Connecticut-based environmental organization called RACE. In 1999, a heightened sense of eco-consciousness propelled him to buy an electric car, even though the price was high and several Connecticut car dealerships refused to fill his order. Who would have guessed that his penchant for a nifty, guilt-free electric car would foreshadow a full time commitment to the environment nearly ten years later?
Whelan says, "Global warming and climate change are upon us and virtually all scientists agree that human activity is a primary cause. Global temperatures and sea levels are rising. Storms are increasing in frequency and intensity, causing both floods and drought. Carbon emissions and other pollution are fouling the air we breathe, the water we drink, and endangering food stocks. These events are also damaging human health and driving many species to extinction." But it's not all doom and gloom for this Ridgefield resident, nor for other members of the Action Committee.
"Ridgefield Action Committee for the Environment was founded on the premise that “a few thoughtful, committed people can change the world”. In that spirit of Margaret Mead, we raise awareness about how to notice and change our ways and coordinate and communicate the actions of town government, schools, library, faith communities, business, and civic groups. By doing this, we hope to encourage these organizations to take on specific environmental works and to share their experience with others," Whelan says.
When asked how other Connecticut residents can change their corner of world Whalen replies, "If there is a local task force, contact them to see how to help. Become a member of the executive team; volunteer to help out at events; or add your list to the e-mail distribution list to stay in the loop. If your town doesn't have a local task force, think about starting one. You can also call up your representative in Hartford and voice your opinion on an upcoming bill. Whatever you do, there is always interest and you meet wonderful people while doing something good for your community and the world."
Here's your chance to call your local government officials and get them join cities across the U.S. that are organizing local meetings on October 4, 2007 to discuss and implement innovative strategies that can reduce pollution while saving money and building healthier, more livable communities.
The National Conversation on Climate Action is part of an effort to spark a broad national discussion on the challenges and solutions associated with global warming at the local level. On October 4th, mayors and cities across the United States will be convening non-partisan local dialogues to draw attention to and build local support for solutions to global warming. For more info or to register go to www.climateconversation.org.
The Norwich Area Global Warming Action Group (NAGWA) is a group of local citizens that is educating themselves and the Norwich-area community about global warming and ways which we can all do our small, or large, part to reduce the causes of global warming. After our summer break, NAGWAG will resume meeting at 7 p.m. on the last Tuesday of each month at Park Church in Norwich (across from NFA). The next meeting will be held Sept. 25 -- all are invited. And it seems that these folks have a penchant for car racing--hybrid style that is. Earlier this summer they sponsored the area's first hybrid car race, and the winner got over 75 miles to the gallon.
Each green dot on the map to the left represents a Connecticut Clean Energy Fund community--nearly 75 percent of communities in the state. Thanks to all of you out there who have helped spread the word and convince your towns to bring clean energy to Connecticut. From Lise Dondy and her work as President of the Connecitcut Clean Energy Fund to father, middle school teacher, and Portland Connecicut resident Andy Bauer--the citizens of Connecticut are making a difference!
Lise Dondy says, "In addition to community-based initiatives designed to create awareness and demand for clean energy, 244 clean energy systems - including fuel cell, solar photovoltaic, biomass and advanced hydro systems - have been installed or are under way. These will provide the energy equivalent of electricity for 70,000 homes. These clean energy systems include: 36 commercial installations (27 solar, 6 fuel cell, 3 biomass), 8 demonstration projects and 200 residential solar photovoltaic systems, 100 of which are installed and 100 which are in process.
Source: Connecticut Innovations
If you haven't already, you should read our post about how stormwater runoff affects our water supply. Thankfully, there are several simple ways to reduce the effects of stormwater in your yard and neighborhood as suggested by EPA and written up in the Spring 2007 issue of The Habitat, the official newsletter of the Connecticut Association of Conservation and Inland Wetlands Commissions, Inc.
Keep litter, pet wastes, leaves and debris our of street gutters and storm drains, which lead directly to lakes, streams, rivers, and wetlands.
Use organic fertilizers and herbicides. There are lots of great options out there.**
I was driving home from the store the other day and saw a man riding his bike with a tee-shirt that read " ONE LESS CAR". It reminded me that hybrids have nothing on this nearly two-hundred-year-old mode of transportation.
But thanks to an organization called the Central Connecticut Bicycle Alliance (CCBA),the Greater Hartford area is starting to see more people commuting into the city by bikes and leaving their cars at home. The program, called “Bike to Work,” continues to grow and the organization is looking to take it to the next level by promoting construction of bike lanes, greenways and bicycle friendly roads. The CCBA plans different activities each month, such as a breakfast in downtown Hartford, for bicycle commuters to socialize and share their ideas. In addition, the organization offers “Bike Buddies” that can answer questions about how to make a bike commute-ready, routes to take, and how to safely ride in traffic. “Bike Buddies” can even accompany commuters on a ride. The idea is to educate people that riding a bike to work is healthy and that it can be safe. Source: TreeHugger
According to the Connecticut Climate Change website, "Your carbon footprint is a representation of the effect you, or your organization, have on the climate in terms of the total amount of greenhouse gases you produce (measured in units of carbon dioxide). Many of your actions generate carbon emissions, which contribute to accelerating global warming and climate change. By measuring your carbon footprint through such tools as the Safe Climate Carbon Calculator, you can get a better sense of what your individual impact is and which parts of your lifestyle deserve the greatest attention. Armed with such information you can more readily take effective action to shrink your carbon footprint, thereby minimizing your personal impact on the climate."
Visit the CT Climate Action Change Steering Commitee's website whose mission is to deal with climate change in Connecticut by decreasing statewide carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2010 and going 10 percent lower than that by 2020. You can also read the state's 2005 Climate Action Plan that outlines 55 actions to fight global warming.
These B-Greener @ home tips come from “POWER TO THE PEOPLE: How to fight global warming, lower your utility bills, and take a stand for a more sustainable future,” compiled by The Audubon Society and the Rocky Mountain Institute.
Seal Air Leaks for better heating and cooling. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that air leakage accounts for up to 10 percent of a homeowner’s energy bill. You first priorities are to seal your attic and basement. Then seal windows, doors, vents, electrical sockets, and anywhere else air is escaping. If you’re having trouble finding leaks, you can hire a professional to find them with a blower door test or infrared technology. CL&P and the Energy Star program offer this service. Cost: $100 (Do-It-Yourself) - $600 (professional). Annual Savings: $60 - $70. Payback: 1.4 – 10 years.
Cheat Your Water Heater. Water heating can account for roughly 19 percent of a home energy bill and some estimates say that CO2 emissions from running that heater are double your car emissions! The majority of U.S. houses have gas water heaters, but almost 40 percent use doubly expensive electric systems. Make your water heater work more efficiently: wrap it with an insulating jacket; insulate hot water pipes; turn the heater off when you're on vacation; install timer controls that switch off heater when your at work or sleeping; add anti convection valves and loops; and turn the temperature down to 120 degrees F or less. Cost: $80 - $100. Annual savings: $57 - $123. Payback: 0.7 - 1.9 years.
Slay Vampires. An energy vampire is an electronic device--a TV, phone, fax, computer, or cell phone charger--that draws energy even when it's in "standby mode." These vampires can suck up to seven watts of energy per hour. How do you conquer them? Buy energy efficient appliances that use one less watt per hour in standby mode, plug computers into smart strips that sense when you shut down power to certain receptacles. Ordinary power strips can also be easily switched off when electronics are not in use. Cost: $0. Annual savings: $5 - $34. Payback: Immediate.
NOFA (Northeast Organic Farming Association CT) makes it easy to get involved in raising awareness about the importance of organic farming and supporting Connecticut-grown organic farmers. Visit the NOFA website to donate or join, or browse the list below for ways to make a difference.
Source: CT NOFA
EPA is making nearly $1.7 million available for clean diesel projects under the 2007 Northeast Diesel Collaborative Emissions Reductions Grant Program. Project applications are being accepted under two national clean diesel programs: Clean School Bus USA and the Voluntary Diesel Retrofit program.
Projects may include a variety of diesel emissions reductions solutions such as add-on pollution control technology, engine or vehicle replacement, idle reduction technologies or strategies, and/or cleaner fuel use. All projects must benefit the air quality in the geographic areas that include Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, the U.S. Virgin Islands and/or Vermont; and Tribal lands belonging to the federally recognized Indian tribes in these regions. The deadline for applying is July 31, 2007.
“Diesel exhaust contributes significantly to air pollution, especially in urban areas. The fine particles in diesel exhaust pose serious health concerns, including aggravating asthma and other respiratory symptoms,” said Robert Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “This new EPA funding will help northeastern communities to enjoy cleaner, healthier air. EPA and the Northeast Diesel Collaborative are working to make that black puff of smoke a relic of times past.”
Download the NEDC Emissions Reduction RFP (epa.gov/region02/grants/nedc_rfp_final_060707.pdf)
EPA’s Voluntary Diesel Retrofit program (epa.gov/cleandiesel/index.htm#voluntary)
Northeast Diesel Collaborative (northeastdiesel.org)
SOURCE: EPA Website
The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection has recognized citizens and businesses who have demonstrated a commitment to the environment for this year's GreenCircle Awards.
Read this partial list of honorees below to become inspired, contact them to join in, or start an effort of your very own!
Dave Steinmetz – Woodbridge, CT
Dave Steinmetz and his sisters have worked on the "No Butts About It" litter campaign since 1996. Dave and his sisters have conducted neighborhood cleanups and maintained a website that promotes the elimination of cigarette butt litter.
Virginia Walton, Recycling Coordinator, Public Works Department – Mansfield, CT
Among numerous other strides to promote recycling, Virginia’s main effort is the composting program she installed in Mansfield’s schools. Virginia teaches K through 12 students through the actual composting of school lunch wastes, which fertilizes the Green Thumbs garden in the Southeast School’s greenhouse.
Allan Rawson & Jeffrey Rawson, Rawson Products – Putnam, CT
Allan and Jeffrey Rawson donated 37 acres of open space lands, which will preserve a section of Rocky Brook and provide a link from the Airline Trail to the Tri-State Marker.
Charles Keating, Trail Maintenance Volunteer, Chatfield Hollow State Park – Killingworth, CT
Charles Keating is the sole volunteer for the over 10 miles of trails at Chatfield Hollow State Park and adjoining sections of Cockaponset State Forest. He routinely works on clearing blown down branches from the trails, "armoring" wet spots, and improving drainage.
Kevin Watson – Norwich, CT
Kevin Watson adopted the streets Canterbury Turnpike and Old Canterbury Turnpike. On average, he cleaned them three times a month or about 3,000 volunteer hours per year. He has also been involved with various Wildlife Projects at Salt Rock State Camp Ground.
Chanelle Adams – Bloomfield, CT
Chanelle is a twelve year old, eighth grade student at the Lewis Fox Middle School Science Academy in Hartford. With the goal of educating the public on the importance of keeping a clean environment, she conducted a cleanup day in the vicinity of her school entitled: "Harford is Beautiful, Let’s keep it That Way!"
Russell Miller – Madison, CT
For the past two years, Russell Miller has organized the clean up of the salt marshes at Hammonasset State Park in Madison where approximately 580 cubic feet of Styrofoam were removed from the marshes. Mr. Miller also planned a pollution prevention activity with groups of children to measure the Styrofoam, learn about recycling, and built an eight-foot by ten-foot fort, complete with a roof in an effort to recycle the material.
Carolyn Wysocki, Ecological Health Organization, Inc. – Berlin, CT
The Ecological Health Organization and Grassroots Coalition developed an environmental instructional program for daycare centers to teach children and their families the value of preserving ladybugs and the use of Integrated Pest Management as an alternative to using pesticides.
James Ventres, East Haddam Inland Wetlands & Watercourses Commission – East Haddam, CT
Mr. Ventres, the wetlands enforcement officer, teamed with the Town of East Haddam to prevail in the wetlands enforcement action against the Goodspeed Airport.
Jesse Raymond – Colchester, CT
For his Eagle Scout project, Jesse Raymond relocated a ¼ mile portion of the Orange Trail at Devil’s Hopyard State Park. He got his Colchester Boy Scout Troop 72 from Colchester, Connecticut involved in the project. The total donated labor consisted of 100 hours, and Jesse’s work made the Orange Trail safer to use.
John Sheirer – Enfield, CT
The McCann Family Farm is an 84-acre nature preserve in Somers, Connecticut that includes a two-mile hiking trail. Between May 17, 2005 and May 17, 2006, John Sheirer hiked this trail once a day, clearing downed trees, removing litter, monitoring plant and wildlife, and attending to damage caused by the October 2005 flood.
John Sheirer – Enfield, CT
Source: Read a full list of honorees
I must admit I knew little to nothing about Governor Jodi Rell until recently. It's not that I'm not interested in politics, but somehow local politics--the very arena I should care most about--has been overshadowed by national and international events.
Since digging around to uncover ways Connecticut is green, I've become deeply impressed with her commitment to addressing the Climate Crisis in practical and pragmatic ways.
The recently launched One Thing campaign shows us that however small, our actions do make a difference. Now all I have to do is get her to make Biodiesel available at local gas stations...anyone?
Well, last year a courageous group of 4th and 5th graders in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, boycotted a class fundraiser by refusing to sell the candy bars and potato chips they'd learned about in health class. Miles away in Westport, Connecticut, resident and owner of Natural Neighborhood, Rosie Haas, got an idea while reading an article about the students. "Customers of Natural Neighborhood were asking me if they could sell our natural and organic products to raise money for their kids' classrooms, I put two and two together and Fundraise Naturally was born," Haas recalls.
As of June 2006, schools in the U.S. have been required to form wellness committees to create and enforce nutrition in school-based cafeterias and other activities--such as the elimination of unhealthy products from fundraising programs. Haas says, "On the whole, schools are beginning to rethink the way they use their resources in the school environment and the impact on the greater community and that means seeking alternatives to fundraising as usual."
Fundraise Naturally only uses products that are eco-friendly, and are ethically made by caring manufacturers with the hope that as students experience entrepreneurship in an ethically-sound way, they will feel connected to their community and the planet, and get a real-life lesson in how small contributions can make a big difference.
Rosie Haas will be a keynote speaker at Fairfield County Green Drinks in September.
When I first read about Hartford's new hydrogen-powered bus that emitted only water vapor, my mind began to race with possibility. No more scrambling to roll up the windows and hit the recycle air button on my dashboard while stuck behind a dump truck, tractor trailer or diesel pick up. But with a price tag of $2.9 million for the development of one bus, it could be a while before my sweet dreams come true.
An article in the July 2, 2007 issue of Fairfield County Business Journal smartly points out lots of practical reasons to frequent CT buses as a less time-consuming alternative to sitting in grid lock but would I, who many would claim to be a borderline tree hugger, ever give up my car and take the bus? Hmmmm. As much sense as it makes, the idea of trading in my car and the independence it allows for a bus pass isn't one I'm prepared to entertain--yet. Let's hope the planet can withstand baby steps.
I came across this video clip while reading the latest post on Colin Beaven's No Impact Man blog. It's an interesting argument and I'd love to hear what all of you out there think.
On a rainy day in June, 170 scientists from around the country gathered in the town of Middletown, Connecticut to trap, photograph and catalog as many species of living organisms as possible in a 24-hour period. The habitat range in the Middletown area offered exceptional survey opportunities including trap rock, the Connecticut River, floodplain forests, and two pristine reservoirs.
Total Number of Species: 2231
Birds 93Fish 20
Vascular plants 468
Lesser insect orders 113
Acari (mites/ticks) 34
Spiders & kin 83
Plant pathogens 46
*SMMMNIAI = Single and Multicelled Microscopic Non-insect Aquatic Invertebrates