Must watch - fully scientific based solution for transition to 100 percent clean energy!
Must watch - fully scientific based solution for transition to 100 percent clean energy!
by Heather Burns
We asked Ethan Allen what it means to understand the value of embedding sustainability principles and practices into company DNA; including finding ways to eliminate toxic chemicals from their products.
Answers provided by Farooq Kathwari, Chairman, President & CEO of Ethan Allen.
How does Ethan Allen view sustainability from a business standpoint?
Ethan Allen started with its first plant in the Green Mountains of Vermont in 1932, and sustainability has been an integral part of our culture as a company and our DNA as a brand ever since. We like to say that green isn’t a buzzword here, it’s a business model. We have always been always been an industry leader on environmental issues, from establishing our own internal standards of excellence on recycling and energy consumption to partnering with the American Home Furnishings Alliance on all of its important sustainability initiatives. Wherever we do business in the world today, we are deeply dedicated to the responsible management of our planet’s precious natural resources.
What led to the decision to stop using fire retardants in your products?
The effectiveness of flame retardants has been called into question, so with the revision of upholstery flammability standards, we took the opportunity to take a leadership position in the industry, and now Ethan Allen can offer upholstery fabrics, leathers and resilient filling materials that are free of flame retardants yet still meet or surpass the most stringent U.S. flammability requirements for residential upholstered furniture. We are a client-focused company, and the safety and peace of mind of our clients always come first.
How do you anticipate this action benefiting your business?
We have always prided ourselves on taking the long view. Not just on what’s best for short-term profits, but what’s best for the people we serve and the planet we share. The decisions we make today will have lasting impact on tomorrow, and we never forget that. From a business perspective, it’s our hope that we connect with people who share those values.
What have been some of the operational difficulties or other barriers associated with this action and how has your company overcome them?
I go back to the culture of this company and the DNA of this brand. In other organizations, maybe these changes would’ve been met with resistance or grudging acceptance. But here at Ethan Allen, the challenges are always met with raised hands and the answers are always, "Yes” and “How I can be part of this?”
What is the AHFA Eco3Home certification and what does Ethan Allen hope to accomplish by participating?
This is another area in which we are partnering with AHFA on environmental responsibility issues. Basically, the initiative encourages the use of tags on a product to identify its carbon footprint. It’s a great idea. We are working closely with our AHFA partners to bring it to life. In the meantime, visit the Eco3Home section on the AHFA website. And you can always find our environmental initiatives detailed at http://www.ethanallen.com/en_US/sustainable-operations.html.
Assembly Location: Central Park West, between 65th and 86th streets.
Enter on 65th, 72nd, 77th, 81st, or 86th street.
What: 2014 Annual Meeting with guest speaker Fabien Cousteau, French aquatic filmmaker and oceanographic explorer.
When: Sunday, September 28th 4:00 - 7:00 pm
Where: Ridgefield Public Library, Ridgefield, CT
RSVP: 203-787-0646 x104 or firstname.lastname@example.org by September 21st
For more information and directions, click here.
The Green Harbors Project is an initiative that is aiming to address and solve urban harbors environmental challenges that lead to habitat degradation and the loss of biodiversity, as well as human health concerns. Dr. Anamarija Frankic, director of the Green Harbors Project and founder of the Biomimicry LivingLabs, as well as an internationally-recognized researcher, professor and leader in the field of biomimicry, is leading a team of students from UMass Boston that is focused on designing and testing greener products and solutions that imitate nature to mitigate and restore our urban harbors. The team has established Biomimicry LivingLabs across the world, including Zadar, Croatia as well as many sites around Massachusetts, including Savin Hill Cove, Nantucket, Wellfleet, Mystic River, Neponset River and Pier 5 in the Charlestown Navy Yard.
The Green Harbors Project is a community oriented effort with local businesses stepping in to help. Here in Massachusetts, for example, Spencer-based FLEXcon, a manufacturer of engineered films and pressure-sensitive films and adhesives, has donated materials so that the team can design and test a solution that will prevent biofouling—one of the many environmental issues the team is tackling as part of the Green Harbors Project. Fouling is the accumulation of unwanted organic material on solid submerged surfaces such as the underside of boats, pilings, nets and other harbor infrastructure. Not only are removal costs very high, but the materials that are used (such as formaldehyde) are detrimental to the environment and humans alike. Dr. Frankic and her team are working to create sustainable alternatives.
The central Connecticut area will soon be home to a
new form of transportation that looks to revolutionize the way Connecticut residents commute. Projected to be finished in early 2015, Connecticut Fastrak will administer a swift ride for those who choose to utilize public transportation to get to their destination of choice. Stretching all the way from Waterbury to Hartford, this contemporary system will make travel in the area more convenient for all, and likely boost local economies with more folks having an opportunity to explore areas of the state they might not have had the chance to previously. CT Fastrak is a form of Transit Oriented Development (TOD), which is described by the CT DOT as, “A strategy to increase economic competitiveness through improved quality of life, reduced traffic congestion, lower transportation costs for households, improved air quality, reduced costs for providing city services, and growth management.”
On July 17th, CT Greenscene was invited to see what progress had been made on the Fastrak. Led by CT DOT’s Mike Sanders, we began in downtown Hartford, passing by many of the stations (Flatbush Ave., Sigourney St.) that are under construction. As you can see from the following photos, they are very modern looking and would appear to be quite comfortable. Having the opportunity to get out and walk around at a few of the stations was incredible. Simply seeing the signs with the map of stops, where the ticketing kiosks would be, and even the benches, helped me envision what the what this project is aiming to look like.
Who: The Essex Land Trust and Robert Rocks
What: Robert Rocks will present on the historical evolution of our landscapes from forests to field, and back to forests. He will speak about the great die-offs of elm/chestnuts/hemlocks, and help us envision how climate change, invasive species, and land use practices will determine our forests of the future.
When: May 13th at 7 p.m.
Where: The Essex Library
For more information on this event click here.
BUN LAI, world renowned chef, national James Beard Award semi-finalist and proprietor of New Haven, CT’s Miya’s Sushi, serving innovative sushi from sustainable and locally obtained and foraged flora and fauna, including invasive species.
JOE ROMAN, conservation biologist, researcher and educator, award-winning author, and founder/editor ‘n’ chef of the courageous culinary website, Eat the Invaders: Fighting Invasive Species, One Bite at a Time.
What: An eclectic evening of conversation, master chef demonstration and adventurous eating to benefit The Rockfall Foundation’s environmental education grants
When: Tuesday, May 13th 6-9 p.m.
Where: Chapman Hall - Middlesex Community College
For more background on Bun and Joe: click here .
Donation per guest: $50. Table (6 guests): $300
To make your reservation online: click here.
To download a mail-in reservation form: click here.
Congressman Jim Himes
CT Fourth District
Chief Financial Officer
Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority (CEFIA)
Energy Committee Chair and Board Member
Connecticut Green Building Council (CTGBC)
Stewart J. Hudson
What: Looking for solutions to the climate crisis? Join us for an exciting discussion of the issues and solutions to carbon pollution that save money and help save the planet, including one of the most important breakthroughs in green building design and operation—a new approach to financing clean energy investments through state and federal green banks.
When: TODAY ~ Tuesday, April 22nd ~ 2:00 pm
Where: Audubon Greenwich Kimberlin Center 613 Riversville Road, Greenwich, CT
Celebrate Earth Day with a Guided Trail Walk after the event!
Refreshments Will Be Served
By Ben Hastings
The Long Island Sound is among the most treasured areas in Connecticut, and is home to the UCONN Avery Point campus. Unfortunately, this area of the state has fallen victim to the effects of climate change many times over the past few years in the form of hurricanes and unheard of amounts of snow. The Connecticut shoreline is truly a special place to be for vacationers and residents alike, which is why certain preventative actions against climate change need to be taken to preserve a valuable part of our great state.
Those of us who live in CT know all too well about the destruction that Tropical Storm Irene and storm Sandy caused the shoreline. They also realize if we don’t begin to build more resilient communities and take action to mitigate events like these, the state of Connecticut will be in trouble. Sandy alone caused $360 million in damage to our state, and cost 4 people their lives. A disaster like this one requires action by a wide range of stakeholders including companies, community, political leaders, and academia. Their input is needed so that we can better understand how a catastrophe like storm Sandy can be prepared for, and look at the bigger picture that is climate change.
A Climate Change research center will soon be a part of The University of Connecticut at Avery Point. The new Institute for Community Resilience and Climate Adaptation is now a reality. On January 24th 2014, Governor Daniel Malloy and other CT officials gathered together at the beautiful Branford House at Avery Point. The funding for the center will be coming from the $2.5 million result of a lawsuit between Unilever and The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. A grant from NOAA will also contribute $500,000.
It was only fitting that the press conference took place at the Branford House, which was looking over the sound as the CT and UCONN leaders made their statements. Molloy said that we will be facing more storms of this magnitude as a result of the changing climate, and reassured the audience that Connecticut was doing its part to slow climate change. The quote of the day was from Senator Blumenthal who said, “Put simply, the mission of the center is to save the world, so no pressure."
Additional leaders who came out to show their support were Dan Esty, commissioner of DEEP, Rep. Courtney, as well as representatives from the EPA and NOAA.
Although the fine details about what the center might do have not been completely established, statements from the speakers gave me hope for what a great resource this could truly be. This facility would be a source of information for homeowners, businesses and students alike that want to learn how to mitigate the risks that go along with living on the shoreline, especially with the more frequent storms that our region has experienced. Also, this could be viewed as a revitalization of the UCONN Avery Point campus itself. The campus was referred to by Gov. Malloy as, a jewel in the UCONN system that has been underutilized.
The buzzword that I kept hearing over and over from the speakers was, “resiliency.” It seems that the Institute for Community Resilience and Climate Adaptation will be the hub for Connecticut communities to get the information they need to know about climate change events that affect us all. With the diligence and hard work of the folks over at UCONN Avery Point, this center could change the way in which we think, and react to the impacts of climate change on the shoreline. Only time will tell if we have mitigated these disasters properly.
Learn more about the Institute for Community Resilience and Climate Adaptation and this historic day here.
Who: Moms Clean Air Force
What: Start the new year with a discussion of clean air and the vital importance of EPA action to reduce carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants.
This year Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Moms Clean Air Force will be urging EPA to issue protective standards cutting the carbon pollution from power plants – our nation’s single largest source of climate-disrupting emissions.
When: 2 p.m. ET Wednesday, Jan. 8.
Where: Follow #cleanairmoms, @cleanairmoms or @GinaEPA on Twitter live on January 8 at 2pm ET to join the conversation.
Find more information on this event click here.
Who: This opportunity is supported by a partnership of many organizations, including: The Alliance for Sound Area Planning, Audubon Connecticut, Connecticut Land Conservation Council, Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Essex Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, Old Saybrook Land Trust, The Trust for Public Land.
What: SHORELINE RESIDENTS HAVE HEARD THE TERMS high-biomass, vernal pool, bio-diversity, and, thanks to state Rep. Phil Miller D-Essex, have tried to imagine homes built on a “giant, wet, rocky sponge.” These terms and phrases were passionately used during the 15-year struggle against River Sound Development LLC’s plans for the 1,000 acre forest known as The Preserve.
But private ownership has limited the public’s opportunity to experience the Preserve on a personal level and “get lost in the woods awhile,” as Chris Cryder of Save the Sound puts it. Only a few people have had the chance to lose themselves on the Preserve’s trails, see bobcat tracks in the snow, vernal pools fill in the spring, hear a wood frog chorus, or look out across Pequot Swamp from a rock ledge after the leaves have turned and fallen – until now.
When: December 15 @ 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Where: Park and Meet at the M&J bus lot at 130 Ingham Hill Road, Old Saybrook for the shuttle bus to the trailhead.
Questions: Chris Cryder, Save The Sound/Connecticut Fund for the Environment, 860-395-7016, email@example.com
For more information visit: The Preserve: Take a hike
Tags: Audubon Connecticut, Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Connecticut Land Conservation Council, Essex Land Trust, hiking, Old Saybrook Land Trust, The Alliance for Sound Area Planning, The Nature Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land
Recently, the Wilton Library was graced with an appearance by Jon Bowermaster, oceans expert, award-winning journalist, author, filmmaker and adventurer extraordinaire for an interview conducted by international documentary photographer Daryl Hawk. Thanks to Wilton Go Green, many of those in the Wilton area got the opportunity to hear about the life of Jon, as well as the many projects he has been involved with over the years including The Oceans 8 Project. He touched on his childhood growing up in the midwest and having never been on a plane before, all the way up to his experience being at the forefront of today’s fracking issue, primarily in New York State.
Many of us have that one moment in our lives where we realize what the natural environment means to us. I managed to ask him if there was a particular instance in his life where he realized his calling at the end of the interview. To my surprise he couldn’t think of one, but rather it was a multitude of different experiences that allowed his interest to grow.
Jon started out his journalism career as a sports writer, but switched gears shortly after and pursued a job writing for National Geographic. At the time, National Geographic wasn’t nearly as large and influential as it is today. It was interesting to hear about how he got to observe the evolution of the organization go from a few long haired young people into a worldwide production. The magazine started off as primarily content driven with a lot of story telling pieces from around the world. Jon was sent on his first assignment to Antarctica to cover a dogsledding race, and the rest is history, as he would soon become a leader within the organization.
Jon is an environmentalist, whose fascinating experiences have been an inspiration for many who have ever seen his films or read his articles. The Oceans 8 Project, probably his most well-known work, is a film series that follows around Jon and his National Geographic team in sea kayaks to parts of the world that are rarely seen. Along the way he educates himself and viewers through the exploration of environmental issues in these areas, their cultures and histories. I use the word “exploration” with caution though, as Jon Bowermaster scoffs at the idea of being called an explorer. He explained in the interview that he is uncomfortable with the label because almost anybody, even a couch potato, can be an “explorer” with internet and technology making it easier to see whats going on around the world. “Adventurer” is what he prefers, and I would have to agree, as his work strongly demonstrates that.
One of the questions that I, along with many I’m sure had in their minds was why kayaks? The answer was compelling because it had to do with making the locals in the remote areas of the world feel more comfortable and accepting of Jon and his team. Jon noted that his project would be more difficult, if say they had come in via plane or a motorboat. This idea payed off, and led to an intriguing finding by Jon: People who live by the sea are united, in that what happens in one ocean, will inevitably impact another. Overfishing, global warming and acidification effects everyone no matter what religion, race or region. Jon has seen this in ALL parts of the world.
Adventurer Jon Bowermaster’s career is one that many of us only dream about having. Achieving respect and striving for unity between people of all cultures, while also working to improve environmental quality is truly inspiring to me. I urge you check him out and see for yourself what Jon Bowermaster has to offer.
To find out more information about Jon, The Oceans 8 Project and his newest anti-fracking initiatives visit jonbowermaster.com
What: Jon Bowermaster has been traveling the world on behalf of the National Geographic Society studying up close the relationship between man and nature, specifically focused on water issues. His 10-year-long Oceans 8 project took him and his teams around the world by sea kayak, with stops on every continent to report on environmental issues. In the past four years his filmings have taken him to Antarctica, the Galapagos, southern Louisiana and his own backyard in New York's Hudson Valley, where he's focused on the fight over fracking.
When: September 19th, 7:00-8:30 PM.
Where: The Wilton Library. 137 Old Ridgefield Road, Wilton, CT.
Registration is recommended.
You can find registration forms, and more information online.
This event will bring together families and communities from all over central Connecticut who are looking for answers on how to reduce their own carbon footprint. It will be THE Earth Day event in downtown Hartford. Come enjoy speakers, vendors, non-profit environmental groups, along with street and folk artists. We anticipate the participation of local schools from elementary to college. It will be a fun, inspiring, and informational day for the whole family!
2 March 2013
Registration Fee Depends on Status
Wilton High School
Join the Connecticut Northeast Organic Farming Association as they celebrate 31 years of growing better together! There will be over fifty vendors providing fresh local food, crafts, and books as well as a raffle that includes offerings such as a basket of gardening supplies. Lunch will be Included for an extra fee, but it is worth the price. During the lunch break, attendees have the opportunity to taste delicious local flavors concocted by chefs involved in Fairfield County's farm-to-restaurant program. The New Connecticut Farming alliance will also meet during this time to discuss news and share information.
Guests may select from a wide variety of workshops to attend. There is no need to register for your desired workshop, you may simply show up at the allotted classroom. A program will be handed out to you upon registration that looks exactly like the link provided above. Parents and families are welcome to participate in children's workshops as well. There will also be a screenings of the GMO documentary "Genetic Roulette" throughout the afternoon, where Elaine Titus of GMO Free CT and GMO Free Moms will be available to answer any questions.
Schedule for the Day Registration Fees
8:30-9:30 : Registration (pre-register at this link) Non-Member: $60
9:30-10:45: Workshop I Member: $50
11:00-12:30: Opening announcements and Keynote Student/Senior: $35
12:30-2:00: Lunch Children: FREE
2:15: 3:30: Workshop II *Lunch is optional: an extra $15 for adults
3:45 to 5:00 ~ Workshop II and $8 for children
2013 Conference Program: http://www.ctnofa.org/winterconference/2013%20WC%20programOPT.pdf
Register at: http://www.ctnofa.org/winterconference/2013WC_registration.html
If you forget to register for lunch: http://www.ctnofa.org/winterconference/winterconference_lunch_registration.html
For more Information: http://www.ctnofa.org/winterconference/index.html
Posted at 05:56 PM in Agriculture, Arts, At Home, At Work, Citizen Action, Education, Environmental Issues, Events, Family & Parenting, Film, Food , Garden, Healthcare, Kids, Organic, Organizations, People | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: Connecticut, CT, CT NOFA, Fairfield County, Farm-to-restaurant, Green Agriculture, Green Events CT, Local Flavor, NCFA, NOFA, Wilton, Winter Conference
April 4th, 2013
FREE, Registration Required
Central Connecticut State University
New Britain, Connecticut
The CCSU Global Environmental Sustainability Action Coalition invites the public to learn and to teach one another about the actions that we, as human beings, must take to ensure that we live in such a way that we are able to satisfy our needs while ensuring that our children and grandchildren will be able to satisfy their own. The symposium will offer 3 classes, two performances, a panel discussion, a tour, and an optional attendance at the town meeting, as well as opening and closing notes from distinguished professionals in sustainability. This event is FREE: anyone can register online to show up. *Exhibitor tables are still open.
9:45-10:00 AM: Symposium opening and welcome with Dr. Charles Button and Dr. Jack Miller (tentative) at Alumni Hall
10:00-10:45: Transportation, Migration, and Sustainability in Four Worlds Alumni Hall
Dr. John Kelmelis expands upon a possibility raised by the United States National Intelligence Council when they published Global Trends 2030: Alternative World. This work explores four very possible future worlds. Dr. Kelmelis will explain what each of these worlds might mean for our future as well as what strategies we might use to make the most of each circumstance at the local, regional, national, and global levels.
11:00-11:45: Panel Discussion: Electric Cars and Alternative Vehicles Alumni Hall
The president of the New England Electric Auto Association (Dave Oliveria), an environmental writer and speaker (Jim Motavalli), the Senior Associates Autos Editor for Consumer Reports (Eric Evarts), and a natural gas car owner (Joe Booth) all come together in one place to talk about the real value that hybrid, extended hybrid, and electric vehicles hold. This is a special opportunity to discover what users and reviewers genuinely think about these alternative vehicles.
12:00-1:45 (*with second free registration): Water Wars Performance and Lunch Alumni Hall
While you enjoy your lunch, the Sonia Plumb Dance Company will be performing Water Wars. This is an emotionally charged piece of art that exposes the very important and very tenuous relationship that human beings have with one of our primary sources of life: water.
Posted at 03:46 PM in Air Quality, Architecture, Arts, At Home, At Work, Automobiles, Citizen Action, Corporate Social Responsibility, Education, Energy , Environmental Issues, Events, Government, Green Building , Healthcare, Organizations, People, Renewable Energy, Resources, Schools, Transportation | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: Central Connecticut State University, Connecticut, Connecticut State Universities, Exhibits, Free, Free Green Events, Green Connecticut, Green Events, New Britain CT, Sustainability, Sustainability Events, Town Hall
Livestock falling ill in fracking regions, raising concerns about food
28th January, 2013
In the midst of the US domestic energy boom, livestock on farms near oil-and-gas drilling operations nationwide have been quietly falling sick and dying.
While scientists have yet to isolate cause and effect, many suspect chemicals used in drilling and hydrofracking (or “fracking”) operations are poisoning animals through the air, water, or soil.
Last year, Michelle Bamberger, an Ithaca, New York, veterinarian, and Robert Oswald, a professor of molecular medicine at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine, published the first and only peer-reviewed report to suggest a link between fracking and illness in food animals.
The authors compiled 24 case studies of farmers in six shale-gas states whose livestock experienced neurological, reproductive, and acute gastrointestinal problems after being exposed—either accidentally or incidentally—to fracking chemicals in the water or air. The article, published in New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy, describes how scores of animals died over the course of several years.
In Ireland, they're chipping away at the national debt by charging people for the amount of garbage they produce. Picking up the recycling, however, is free. Something this country should consider, or will Congress fight about that too?
See the video below from The New York Times.
Green industries aren't making as big a splash as they should be. While solar and wind power have gained momentum, fossil fuels are still king. Global warming is now acknowledged as a real problem, but we're still no closer to changing it. With the upcoming election, Obama's track record on creating more green jobs didn't pan out as well either. And, David Brooks' op-ed posted in The New York Times yesterday says as much.
See the excerpt below.
A Sad Green Story
by David Brooks
Published October 18, 2012
The period around 2003 was the golden spring of green technology. John McCain and Joe Lieberman introduced a bipartisan bill to curb global warming. I got my first ride in a Prius from a conservative foreign policy hawk who said that these new technologies were going to help us end our dependence on Middle Eastern despots. You’d go to Silicon Valley and all the venture capitalists, it seemed, were rushing into clean tech.
From that date on the story begins to get a little sadder…
The biggest blow to green tech has come from the marketplace itself. Fossil fuel technology has advanced more quickly than renewables technology. People used to worry that the world would soon run out of oil, but few worry about that now. Shale gas, meanwhile, has become the current hot, revolutionary fuel of the future…
All in all, the once bright green future is looking grimmer. Green tech is decidedly less glamorous, tarnished by political and technological disappointments.
The shifting mood was certainly evident in the presidential debate this week. Global warming was off the radar. Meanwhile, President Obama and Mitt Romney competed to see who could most ardently support coal and new pipelines. Obama is running radio ads in Ohio touting his record as a coal champion.
This is not where we thought we’d be back in 2003.
Global warming is still real. Green technology is still important.
To read more, click here.
Image courtesy of GoGreen.ae
By Stephen Meno
First Lady Michelle Obama launched her crusade against obesity by encouraging everyone to begin growing their own gardens. She started by growing her own on the White House lawn in April, 2009. While there is the obvious effect of providing a supply of fresh vegetables for consumption, I think there is a deeper, underlying consequence of teaching people how to grow.
Seventy percent of the U.S. economy is based on consumer spending. And as environmentalist and indigenous rights activist Winona LaDuke has pointed out countless times, our country have more shopping malls than schools as a result. What that says is material possessions matter more than knowledge.
Even more, we have a presidential candidate who refuses to acknowledge climate change is caused by man in his energy policy report; members of Congress who do not even understand basic sexual mechanics; and children who think food only comes in boxes. Instead of acknowledging the natural world around us and how it functions, we gain meaning in our lives with stuff.
Katie the goat, a Connecticut nanny goat found to have excessively high carcinogens in her milk indicating inoperable cancer, has died. She was a symbol of anti-nuclear power.
See the Huffington Post article:
Katie, Connecticut Goat That Was Anti-Nuclear Symbol, Has Died
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut goat that made headlines in 2006 after visiting the state Capitol on a mission to inform officials about nuclear radiation has died.
Katie was diagnosed with inoperable cancer after living near Dominion Resources Inc.'s Millstone Nuclear Power station. Her death at her home in Redding on Sunday was announced in a news release.
Katie's mission took her from the state Capitol in 2006 to Washington, D.C., on March 11, 2012, where she strolled before the White House to mark the first anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear meltdown.
Her milk had tested positive for potent carcinogens that are associated with bone cancer and leukemia, and she became a familiar presence at anti-Millstone rallies.
She was a white nanny goat believed to be in her late teens.
Image courtesy of MothersMilkProject.com.
by Stephen Meno
A lot of the time, “going green” gets a bad rep. It’s been called costly, impractical, even a job destroyer. But the truth of the matter is there’s very little truth in those labels. Let’s lay out the facts and show you what anti-environmentalism is costing us and how even small changes we make can have substantial payoffs.
Let’s start with the home. Many families cannot afford to buy organic vegetables and free-range meat because they’re more expensive. But look at how much is spent on paper napkins and towels each week. If you replace those items with cloth napkins and rags to clean up (and just toss them in the laundry when you’re done with them), you end up reducing waste ending up in a landfill and saving hundreds of dollars each year. That money can be put toward organic food.
by Stephen Meno
The days of deciding between paper and plastic at the checkout counter may soon be at an end. The Los Angeles City Council recently approved a measure to ban all plastic bags from over 7,500 stores and impose a 10 cent tax on customers wishing to still use the store’s paper bags. While other cities in California and throughout the country have already banned plastic grocery bags, many believe that this Los Angeles ban will influence the rest of the country.
In Connecticut, Westport has long been ahead of the trend by being the first place east of the Mississippi to ban all retailers from using plastic bags in 2008. And because of this ban, there has been a 70% increase in reusable bag usage since then. Some retailers are even doing their part to encourage customers to bring their own bags. For example, ShopRite gives a refund of five cents for every reusable you use. In just a few shopping trips, those 99-cent canvas bags will pay for themselves!
While the Solyndra debacle may have cast a dull light on all things environmental, there is an upshot. According to a new study by GFK Roper Consulting in conjunction with SC Johnson via ENN, Americans are more environmentally conscious today than they were 20 years ago. OK, it took two decades to make a dent. But still, nice that it happened.
Here are a few statistics: Seventy-three percent of Americans say they know a lot about environmental issues. Fifty-eight percent separate their trash and recycle on a regular basis. Eighteen percent have cut down on their regular automobile usage. Small things, big change.
A more comprehensive story was reported on PR Web. See the excerpt below.
Study Shows Americans Adopting Environment-Friendly Habits, Non-Profits Like Campus California Help These Trends by Bringing Together Business and The General Public
Richmond, CA (PRWEB) November 01, 2011
A new study published by GFK Roper Consulting shows that influencing mass behavior of Americans towards more environmentally friendly lifestyle is possible. The 2011 survey of over 2000 residents of the continental US shows positive changes in the knowledge and actions of Americans concerning the environment.
“According to the survey results knowledge about environmental issues and problems is on the rise and Americans are less likely to be confused over what is good and bad for the environment. About seven in 10 now say they know a lot or a fair amount about environmental issues and problems, up from about five in 10 during the mid-1990’s,” says in the conclusion of the GFK Roper Green Gauge study.
To read the original report, click here.
by Dr. Amy Wiesner
Almost 3 months after the earthquake and tsunami that caused devastating damage in Japan, it seems that, in the US, it’s not a major concern anymore. That certainly should not be the case.
According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the situation at the plant is still serious. Radioactive contamination is still occurring both by being released into the air and with the outflow of water from the four damaged reactors.
According to the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, Japan has now double the initial estimate of radioactive fallout and the government is evacuating to areas farther afield. The levels of radiation are nearing those reached in Chernobyl, the world’s largest nuclear disaster before this one. Chernobyl was thought to be more toxic because fires were involved, easily spreading the radioactive materials into the surrounding areas through the air. But the Fukushima disaster is now at severity level 7--the same level as Chernobyl.
Tags: green tea, International Atomic Energy Agency, Japan, Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, nuclear reaction, radiation, radioactive contamination, Tokyo Electric power, tsunami, typhoon season, UC Berkeley Nuclear Engineering Department
By Brittany Shutts
In light of this past Friday’s Earth Day, one of the most significant things you can do for the planet is to cut the excess plastic out of your life. It is detrimental to the health of humans and wildlife and piles up in U.S. landfills and oceans. Several companies are making a forward-thinking effort to cut back on plastic usage. They are eliminating packaging overkill and even replacing plastics with innovative biodegradable materials. (See last week’s Operation Trashdown for links to reduce, reuse, and recycle!)
Companies like Ford are investing in a groundbreaking alternative to plastic that comes from a surprising source: mushrooms. The material was designed by Ecovative and has been used since 2007. It is formed by growing mushrooms in agricultural by-products like corn, oat, or seed husks, producing a waterproof and fireproof mushroom foam solid that is completely biodegradable. Ford has plans to use the foam to eventually replace petroleum-based plastics in the bumper, side doors, and dashboard. Polymers made from mushrooms are also being used to form a new packing material to replace Styrofoam, which takes up a quarter of U.S. landfills.
by Ilene Moyher
In honor of Earth Day April 22, 2011, let’s embrace "Operation Trashdown" as a way to help create a cleaner earth. Everyone can help by adopting the ‘less trash’ mindset in their shopping and daily routines. Three basics are:
Did you know that 38 billion water bottles end up in landfills every year, enough to circle the earth 150 times, and each bottle takes hundreds of years to decompose! Most towns and venues offer recycling for these, so it’s an easy way to make a difference. Better yet, use your own bottle and water and save money, too. You can find this fun fact on the Today Show with Kathie Lee & Hoda. Click the link to see the segment for more ways to easily become greener.
by Brittany Shutts
The earthquake that devastated Haiti in January, 2010 resulted in a complicated set of challenges for a country already suffering from economic and political instability. Heather Burns, founder of the GreenScene blogs and a Connecticut resident, recognized a unique opportunity to apply sustainable solutions on a local level. Haiti Onward applies a similar approach to the GreenScene blogs, catalyzing a “collaboration based on principles and place,” but on a grander scale. Haiti Onward brings together 15 organizations and local stakeholders to efficiently resolve many of Haiti’s economic, environmental, and social challenges.
The initiative was recently nominated as a semi-finalist in the Buckminster Fuller Challenge for contributing a local solution to a global problem that can be replicated in other communities.
I spoke with her at length about the project.
People and the Natural World: An Exploration of Connections
Monday, April 4 at 8 p.m.
Celine Cousteau, Granddaughter of the legendary Jacques Cousteau, ambassador of the environment and native cultures
World explorer and environmentalist Céline Cousteau, closes the popular Fairfield University lecture series Open VISIONS Forum (OVF) on Monday, April 4 at 8 p.m. when she speaks at the Quick Center for the Arts. Tickets are $45. This OVF event is an Arts & Minds presentation.
The name Cousteau is familiar to legions and is synonymous with underwater exploration. The OVF speaker is Jacques Cousteau’s granddaughter and Jean-Michel Cousteau’s daughter. She has pursued the family passion and made it her own and for OVF, she will speak on “People and the Natural World: An Exploration of Connections.”
By Brittany Shutts
It’s hard to beat Germany’s recycling system. Multicolored trash bins line the exceptionally clean streets of German cities where the citizens separate colored glass, paper products, packaging, and food and plant waste. There are even some bins for clothes, shoes, and scrap metal. Black bins are only for waste that doesn’t fit into any of the other categories. Seventy percent of the waste in Germany is recycled every year, whereas the U.S. only manages to recycle 28%.
One of the biggest differences between the systems in Germany and the U.S. is that it starts with the manufacturers. It is their responsibility to minimize the amount of waste that is created, recycle any unavoidable waste or convert it into energy, and dispose of waste that cannot be recycled without causing environmental harm. In contrast to the “polluter pays” principle, the U.S. uses the “consumer pays” principle, which requires taxpayer funding for waste management. Since businesses in Germany bear the financial burden, controlling waste and recycling becomes a greater priority.
Thousands are rushing to pop iodide pills for fear of the radiation leaks at the Fukushima Daiichi plant after last week's catastrophic earthquake and resulting tsunami damaged cooling systems in the reactors. The word on the street is that folks on the West Coast are simply panicking. But are they? When the BBC reports that the Japanese emperor Akihito made a rare appearance to say he is "deeply worried" about the situation, perhaps things are a bit more dire than we're led to believe. Below is an excerpt from Reuters.
Workers briefly abandon Japan nuclear plant as crisis worsens
By Shinichi Saoshiro and Chisa Fujioka
TOKYO | Reuters--Wed Mar 16, 2011 9:38am EDT
"High radiation levels prevented a helicopter from flying to the site to drop water into the No. 3 reactor -- whose roof was damaged by an earlier explosion and where steam was seen rising earlier in the day -- to try to cool its fuel rods.
The plant operator described No. 3 as the "priority." No more information was available, but that reactor is the only one at Daiichi which uses plutonium in its fuel mix.
According to U.S. government research, plutonium is very toxic to humans and once absorbed in the bloodstream can linger for years in bone marrow or liver and can lead to cancer..."
To read more, click here.
Image courtesy of Greenpeace.org.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, results of frequent dives in December from researchers at the University of Georgia have some disturbing news. Only 10% of the oil residue left on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico has been dissolved by microbes. It was expected that more of it would be gone by now. In the meantime, animals that ordinarily would be thriving are dead or dying. See an excerpt below.
Scientist finds Gulf bottom still oily, dead
By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein, Ap Science Writer – Sat Feb 19, 8:53 pm ET
WASHINGTON – Oil from the BP spill remains stuck on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, according to a top scientist's video and slides that she says demonstrate the oil isn't degrading as hoped and has decimated life on parts of the sea floor.
That report is at odds with a recent report by the BP spill compensation czar that said nearly all will be well by 2012.
At a science conference in Washington Saturday, marine scientist Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia aired early results of her December submarine dives around the BP spill site. She went to places she had visited in the summer and expected the oil and residue from oil-munching microbes would be gone by then. It wasn't.
"There's some sort of a bottleneck we have yet to identify for why this stuff doesn't seem to be degrading," Joye told the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference in Washington. Her research and those of her colleagues contrasts with other studies that show a more optimistic outlook about the health of the gulf, saying microbes did great work munching the oil.
"Magic microbes consumed maybe 10 percent of the total discharge, the rest of it we don't know," Joye said, later adding: "there's a lot of it out there."
Click here to read more.
Image courtesy of National Geographic.
Governor Dannel P. Malloy has asked Daniel C. Etsy, Yale University's director of the Center for Environmental Law and Policy and the Center for Business and the Environment, to head up the state's combined Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). Touted as one of the leading environmental strategists, Malloy hopes Etsy's appointment will signify "a clean energy future."
See the excerpt below from The Hartford Courant.
Gov. Malloy Taps Yale Professor To Head Combined Energy, Environment Department
By CHRISTOPHER KEATING, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hartford Courant
1:23 p.m. EST, February 10, 2011
HARTFORD — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy this morning named Yale University professor and environmental expert Daniel C. Esty to lead his recently announced state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
Esty, 51, serves as director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy and Yale's Center for Business and the Environment…
"Professor Esty's research has focused on 'next generation' regulation and the relationships between the environment and trade, competitiveness, governance, and development," according to his Yale biography.
Esty told reporters that it is "an honor to be asked to serve in this new role, to work with the governor on the consolidation that he has announced, and to insure that the people of Connecticut get lower-cost energy, a greater energy efficiency and really become leaders in the push toward a clean energy future.''
To read more, click here.
Image courtesy of Yale University.
Tags: Center for Business and the Environment, Center for Environmental Law and Policy, clean energy, Daniel C. Etsy, Dannel P. Malloy, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, next generation regulation , Yale University
In today’s news from Reuters, the EPA drafted a plan to determine if drilling for natural gas and oil in bedrock, shale, and tight sand—also known as “fracking”—is harmful to water supplies. In a previous article on this site, we discussed this topic in regard to the documentary Gasland, produced and directed by Josh Fox. One particularly telling scene from that indie film was a resident living in the Marcellus Shale area who lit his tap water on fire. So does fracking harm drinking water? Perhaps, that’s a rhetorical question.
See the excerpt below.
EPA releases draft plan for fracking study
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – “U.S. environmental regulators issued a draft plan on Tuesday outlining how they will determine whether a technique for drilling natural gas harms supplies of drinking water.
Congress commissioned the Environmental Protection Agency to study hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking", after complaints that the process pollutes water. The EPA is slated to make public initial results of the study by the end of next year.
The study will investigate reported instances of drinking water contamination in three to five sites across the country where fracking has occurred, the agency said in the draft.
In addition, the EPA will conduct two to three prospective case studies, to take samples before, during and after water extraction, drilling and production of gas…
Congressman Ralph Hall, chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, said in a statement that he would closely review the study because he felt fracking had been the subject of ‘misleading attacks.’
‘Natural gas is a vital resource, and hydraulic fracturing is a well-established process that is enabling greatly increased production of clean, affordable energy,’ he said.”
To read more of the article, click here.
Image courtesy of Zazzle.com.
Tags: contamination, drilling, drinking water, EPA, fracking, Gasland, House Committee on Science, hydraulic fracturing, Josh Fox, Marcellus Shale, natural gas, Ralph Hall, Space and Technology, water supply
Think your kids are safe at school? According to this article in The New York Times, they may not be. Many of the schools in New York City have been found to contain harmful levels of PCBs. As a result, a growing number of parents are opting to keep their kids home. With medical evidence suggesting the physical and mental impairment caused from long-term exposure to PCBs, they have cause for alarm. See the excerpt below.
Parents Seek More Action on PCBs in Schools
By MIREYA NAVARRO
Published: February 3, 2011
"As the father of an 8-year-old attending Public School 36 on Staten Island, Richard P. Ghiraldi was alarmed to learn that students were being exposed to a known carcinogen.
Last month, Mr. Ghiraldi and hundreds of other parents kept their children home from school for four days after tests showed that lighting ballasts — the devices that regulate electric current for fluorescent lights — were leaking the highly toxic chemical compounds known as PCBs onto the light fixtures and floor tiles.
'I was surprised they still had these old ballasts in schools,' said Mr. Ghiraldi, a paralegal. 'You’d think the custodians and the teachers would think it’d be a danger.'
Yet as he and other parents in New York City press doctors and government officials on the risks from the aging classroom fixtures, which remain in some 800 of 1,200 city school buildings, the answers have been frustratingly vague. Adding to the parental stress, the Bloomberg administration has disputed the urgency of replacing all of the T-12-style fluorescent lighting, estimating it would cost about $1 billion. Its negotiations with the Environmental Protection Agency continue.
There is no immediate health risk from PCBs lingering in schools, all are told, yet with one important caveat: the longer the exposure, the higher the risk."
Click The New York Times link above to read more.
Image courtesy of Seton.com.
Imagine a world without fish. It’s a frightening premise, and it’s happening right now.
To increase awareness about a very real and disturbing phenomenon called 'ocean acidification', The Menunkatuck Audubon Society, a local chapter and Audubon Connecticut, the state office of the National Audubon Society, will host a free public film screening of the highly-acclaimed film, A Sea Change. Chock full of scientific information, this is the first documentary about ocean acidification.
by Angela Hotaling
The 2010 climate change conference in Cancun has stirred up lots of controversy. The conference started on November 29th, culminating on December 10th. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which set emission reduction guidelines, will expire in December 2012 and there are pessimistic predictions for a legal continuation of the agreement.
Pessimism is a common theme of the media coverage overcastting the two week conference taking place in Cancun, Mexico. Last years summit in Copenhagen and its offspring, the Copenhagen Accord, has fallen short of making desired progress. There are many possibilities for what will come of all of this and those of us here who care about progress in climate change politics should really reflect upon the breadth of this issue.
Wondering what to do with 25 years worth of environmental satellite data? Leave it to Google. With their new Google Earth Engine, they can track environmental changes made to the planet as easy as 1-2-3. Their data is based on NASA's LANDSAT technology and is used to monitor such things as deforestation and land use. A timely event for the talks in Cancun. See an excerpt below from Yale 360 and a link to the Environmental News Network with a more extensive look at the topic.
03 Dec 2010: New Google Earth Technology Allows Tracking of Environmental Changes
Google has unveiled an online technology that allows scientists and researchers to track and measure changes to the environment using 25 years worth of satellite data. Google Earth Engine, introduced during climate talks in Cancun, utilizes “trillions of scientific measurements” collected by NASA’s LANDSAT satellite, the company said. Google is already working on applications for tracking deforestation and mapping land use trends, including the creation of the most comprehensive scale map of Mexico’s forest and water resources ever made.
That project alone would have taken three years to process using a single computer, Google officials say, but took just one day using Google Earth Engine. “No one has ever been able to analyze that entire data set for Mexico, or even come close,” said Rebecca Moore, the project’s engineering manager. Google says it will offer 20 million CPU hours free to developing nations and scientific organizations to utilize the platform, which could emerge as a critical tool in the enforcement of such land management initiatives as the UN’s REDD program in which wealthier nations pay developing nations to preserve rainforests.
Click here for a link to ENN.com.
Image courtesy of NASA.gov.
Like seafood? So does everyone else, apparently. We're running out of sustainable fishing in our oceans. We essentially have nowhere left to go. According to an article in ScienceDaily, the University of British Columbia in collaboration with the National Geographic Society has conducted a study on the spatial expansion of global fisheries. The study indicated the "no fish left behind" mentality of corporate-run fisheries. That mentality is exactly why sources like bluefin tuna (as per a previous article on this site) are disappearing at an alarming rate and running the risk of becoming an endangered species. See an excerpt below from ScienceDaily.
'No Fish Left Behind' Approach Leaves Earth With Nowhere Left to Fish, Study Finds
ScienceDaily (Dec. 3, 2010) — Earth has run out of room to expand fisheries, according to a new study led by University of British Columbia researchers that charts the systematic expansion of industrialized fisheries.
In collaboration with the National Geographic Society and published in the online journal PLoS ONE, the study is the first to measure the spatial expansion of global fisheries. It reveals that fisheries expanded at a rate of one million sq. kilometres per year from the 1950s to the end of the 1970s. The rate of expansion more than tripled in the 1980s and early 1990s -- to roughly the size of Brazil's Amazon rain forest every year.
Between 1950 and 2005, the spatial expansion of fisheries started from the coastal waters off the North Atlantic and Northwest Pacific, reached into the high seas and southward into the Southern Hemisphere at a rate of almost one degree latitude per year. It was accompanied by a nearly five-fold increase in catch, from 19 million tonnes in 1950, to a peak of 90 million tonnes in the late 1980s, and dropping to 87 million tonnes in 2005, according to the study.
"The decline of spatial expansion since the mid-1990s is not a reflection of successful conservation efforts but rather an indication that we've simply run out of room to expand fisheries," says Wilf Swartz, a PhD student at UBC Fisheries Centre and lead author of the study.
Click here to read more of the article.
Image courtesy of ScienceDaily.
According to a news release from Environmental New Network, the bird and bee populations have been dwindling because of pesticides containing nicotine. Neonicotinoids, a derivative of the substance, are essentially glued onto plant seeds which are then ingested by insects. When the insects die off, a primary food supply disappears for the birds. Bees are also affected because it interferes with their navigational systems so they neglect feeding and tending to larvae. See an excerpt below.
Modern Insecticides' Devastating Effects
From: David A Gabel, ENN
Published November 16, 2010 09:30 AM
"Like DDT before it, a new class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids is believed to be causing drastic population declines in bird species. It is so effective at killing insects, that it has deprived birds of their basic food. Some scientists also believe they are behind the decline in bee populations in Europe and the United States known as honey-bee Colony Collapse Disorder...
The effectiveness of this pesticide has certainly taken a toll on insects, but has taken a much more noticeable toll on birds. In Britain, the house sparrow population has declined by 68 percent since 1977. Since 1994, the common swift population has shrunk by 41 percent and the starling by 26 percent. Other birds affected include the spotted flycatcher, wood warbler, snipe, and song thrush.
Neonicotinoids are used on a level far lower than DDT was used back in its time, but since it is so efficient at killing insects, it is having the same effect. For that reason, it is loved by farmers in protecting their crops. The chemical also makes the plants more resistant to drought, low pH levels, heat stress, and viral infections."
To read more of this article, click here.
Image courtesy of ENN.com.
Can it be? The very bags we strut around town with believing we're doing good for the planet may contain harmful levels of lead, according to an article in yesterday's New York Times. More often than not, the bags are manufactured in China. The carbon footprint alone may be problematic for some. But many are afraid the lead may leach into the food we put inside them. We posed this same environmental question in a previous article on this site in January, 2009. See the NY Times excerpt below.
Even Reusable Bags Carry Environmental Risk
By MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM
Published: November 14, 2010
"They dangle from the arms of many New Yorkers, a nearly ubiquitous emblem of empathy with the environment: synthetic, reusable grocery bags, another must-have accessory for the socially conscious.
But the bags, hot items at upscale markets, may be on the verge of a glacier-size public relations problem: similar bags outside the city have been found to contain lead...
There is no evidence that these bags pose an immediate threat to the public, and none of the bags sold by New York City’s best-known grocery stores have been implicated. But reports from around the country have trickled in recently about reusable bags, mostly made in China, that contained potentially unsafe levels of lead. The offending bags were identified at several stores, including some CVS pharmacies; the Rochester-based Wegman’s grocery chain recalled thousands of its bags, made of recycled plastic, in September."
To read more, click here.
Image courtesy of GoGreen-Bags.com.
by Angela Hotaling
A biting controversial issue about the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing has recently caught my interest. Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is the process of extracting natural gas from under the earth’s surface. Wells are drilled deep into the ground and then water, sand, and chemicals are pumped at high pressures to break shale formations and release pockets of natural gas. The gas industry has exploded over the past several years creating jobs and supplying energy; however not without stirring up some very hot debate in the process.
Last week, The New York Times published an article about hydraulic fracturing. The article, written by Clifford Krauss and Tom Zeller Jr., says, “Natural gas currently satisfies nearly a quarter of the nation’s power needs. And with vast methane reserves now available in previously inaccessible layers of shale deep underground, its position as a cornerstone of the domestic energy supply may well be secured for decades--if the public supports it.”
by Susan Torres
The Atlantic Coast is getting a makeover. Within the next decade, a recent proposal could bring the country’s largest wind farm to the coast of Northern New Jersey down to Norfolk, Virginia. The project, the Atlantic Wind Connection, just got a big boost from Google.
The ubiquitous Internet company, along with New York based investment firm Good Energies, have pledged 37.5 percent of the estimated $5 billion dollars needed to fund the project. It’s estimated the first phase, which will run from the top of New Jersey to Delaware, will be completed in early 2016, according to the New York Times. This section alone will cost $1.8 billion dollars. Once completed, the Atlantic Wind Connection will be the country’s first offshore wind collection project.
Here's the latest update on the toxic spill in Hungary courtesy of Reuters. Not surprisingly, human negligence is fingered as the culprit for environmental damage. Read an excerpt below.
Hungary state to take control of MAL after spill
By Gergely Szakacs
BUDAPEST | Mon Oct 11, 2010 9:23am EDT
"Disaster crews were racing Monday to finish an emergency dam to hold back a threatened second spill of the toxic mud, a by-product of alumina production, from the sludge reservoir owned by MAL.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban told parliament damages must be paid to those affected by the spill, jobs at the plant must be saved, those responsible must be held accountable and further risks at the company's sites should be identified.
'Hungary's largest ecological disaster was caused by human negligence, by allowing a hazardous material to escape from a plant built and operated by people,' Orban said.
'We need to bring the company responsible for the red sludge spill under state control, and its assets under state closure, until all of these four tasks are handled,' he told parliament.
Orban said a state commissioner would be appointed to take over control over MAL and manage its assets.
'In light of what happened, we have good reason to believe that there were people who were aware of the dangerously weakened state of the walls of the reservoirs, but driven by their private interests they believed they were not worth repairing and hoped that the trouble could be avoided.'"
To read more of the article, click here.
Image courtesy of Reuters.com.