Make-A-Difference Month 2013

Make-A-Difference Month is back this year with more blogs, more ideas, and more energy! This year we are hosting the blogs on Mobile Baykeeper’s website, http://www.MobileBaykeeper.org.

Click here to visit the blog.

Click here to sign up for the RSS feed and have the blogs delivered to your inbox each morning.

As always, remember that together we can make a difference. It all starts with you.

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Eugene Becomes Third City in Oregon to Ban Plastic Bags

Congratulations to the city of Eugene, Oregon, for becoming the third city in that state to ban plastic bags, joining the state of Hawaii and a handful of cities in California. Who’s next?

 

Eugene has become the third city in Oregon to implement a single-use plastic bag ban following the city council’s vote to ban plastic checkout bags and put a fee on paper bags. The decision will have big payoffs for Oregon’s environment and the Pacific Ocean.

{Click here to read more about alternatives to plastic bags.}

“Eugene City Councilors should be applauded for standing up for our oceans and voting to curb the flow of plastic bag pollution,” said Environment Oregon’s state director, Sarah Higginbotham. “Now, we need other cities to take action and make a lasting difference with bag bans of their own.”

Thousands of Eugenians voiced their support for a bag ban, alongside dozens of small and large businesses. As the second largest city in the state, Eugene’s bag ban will make a significant impact when it takes effect in six months, greatly reducing the estimated 67 millionplastic bags residents use annually. Eugene joins Portland and Corvallis in banning plastic checkout bags.

Altogether, Oregonians use approximately 1.7 billion plastic bags each year, and too many of them end up as litter in our ocean. Today, there are 100 million tons of trash in the North Pacific Gyre; in some parts of the Pacific, plastic outweighs plankton 6 to 1.

{Click here for the full article.}

Have you ever been to Jamba Juice? Where I grew up they made the best fruit smoothie in town. Congratulations to Mia Hansen for her successful petition, and a big shout-out to Jamba Juice for pledging to eliminate their styrofoam cups by 2013! I’m looking forward to enjoying a healthy smoothie in a green cup soon.

Grist

As far as I’m concerned, if they ever market a one-size-fits-all People Chow like they do for pets, it should basically be smoothies. But it’s asinine that smoothie company Jamba Juice, which bills its product as healthy and natural, serves your People Chow in an Earth-unfriendly giant styrofoam cup. Ten-year-old Mia Hansen thought so too, so she started a Change.org petition to get the chain to stop using styrofoam — and it worked. Mia collected over 130,000 signatures, and Jamba Juice agreed to phase out styrofoam by 2013.

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How to Live Without Air Conditioning

Reblogged from The Good Human:

July 11th, 2012

No More Burning Down The House, or How To Live Without AC

 

Guest post by Steve Apfelbaum

A little over a week ago, my wife and I had occasion to take a road trip across our home state of Wisconsin. We were struck by the barren main streets. It seemed entire towns were deserted. No people walked the sidewalks. No cars were staging for parking spaces or driving the roadways. As we passed through each town it felt like a post-apocalyptic movie; it appeared as if human life had been eradicated from the earth.

After the several hours of driving, we decided to stop at a well-known fast food chain for a famous custard and cold water. We were surprised to find this particular parking lot packed with cars. When we stepped inside, we learned the restaurant-goers were self-medicating against the summer’s first heat wave with generous servings of ice cream.

My wife and I began chatting with the other patrons. Conversations centered on how to keep cool against the stifling heat. Several jaws dropped when we explained that we don’t have air conditioning in our 165 year old home. We explained that we have made adjustments to the house – and to our behavior – to ensure it stays cool and comfortable inside. Later it occurred to me that many Americans would benefit from the same advice.

On a Daily Basis

  • We close (almost all of) our windows and doors, and pull insulated curtains down early in the morning, before the day heats up.
  • We leave an upstairs skylight and one downstairs window open. Both are located on the cooler north side of the house. This creates a draw – like a chimney in winter. The windows encourage the hot air to rise out of the house upstairs and draw in cooler air from outside downstairs or, in our case, from our much cooler basement.
  • At night, if it’s cool enough outside, we open up the doors and windows to quickly cool the house down. This process is like operating the house as a living organism – one that breathes at night and hibernates by day.
  • If it’s ever warmer than we’re comfortable with, we turn on ceiling fans to move the air in our bedroom and living room. Moving air feels better than still, particularly when the still air is stiflingly warm.

Long-term Solutions

  • We have super insulated the house, which keeps it warmer in the winter, of course, but also cooler in the summer. We have R150 in the attic and R70 or more in the walls. This protects us from both weather extremes.
  • We replaced older windows with high efficiency double pane windows. We insisted that our installers caulked particularly well to ensure leakage around the windows wouldn’t occur.
  • Finally, we installed pleated insulated “sun curtains” on all of our windows. These curtains have a reflective white fabric that faces the windows and keeps heat from the house.

Of course our system isn’t perfect, but typically our house stays very comfortable – in the seventies most days – unless we have several weeks straight of extremely hot weather with nighttime temperatures that don’t drop. And though most people won’t be able to make the jump to life without air conditioning, many of the adjustments above can be used in addition to AC. In fact, many of these tips will not only lower your home’s temperature, but also your energy bill, as well.

See the original post here: http://thegoodhuman.com/2012/07/11/how-to-live-without-air-conditioning/

Read about air sealing your home for energy and heat efficiency here: https://makeadifferencemonth.wordpress.com/additional-resources/home-efficiency-air-sealing/

Danish company designs electric car with 800km range. Wow!

The Jolly Good News

Range anxiety has been a huge hurdle for electric cars, as buyers worry about running out of charge mid-journey. But that concern could fade into the past if the technology of a Danish-designed car is an indicator of future range potential.

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There is lots of potential to integrate solar technology into our current power use. If you had the opportunity, would you invest in solar for your home or company?

The Jolly Good News

Solar could provide one-sixth of the world’s heating and cooling needs by 2050, according to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA). This would eliminate 800 megatons of carbon dioxide emissions a year, which is more than Germany’s total carbon emissions in 2009. It would also save money since heating and cooling account for about 56 percent of the energy use in an average U.S. home.

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What fantastic news! Three cheers for public transportation!

The Jolly Good News

Here’s some good green news: more and more Americans are taking public transit and are ditching their gas-guzzling cars for more fuel efficient models, or getting rid of their cars all together.  According to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), transit ridership nationwide shot up by 5% over the first quarter of 2012, with an increase of 2.7 billion trips.  This number has steadily increased over the past five quarters, specifically for bus and rail. Interestingly, APTA noted that …”even when gas prices start to fall, riders stick with transit.”

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