Category: Earth Day


I saw a poster for this in Burlington VT. An organization which encourages conversation and activism around environmental issues. They call themselves GreenDrinks.Org They meet over beer, just everyday people interested in green ideas, in 32 countries and 312 cities world wide. Each chapter has their own structure, their own goals (or lack thereof) and their own drinks (not necessarily green.) Find one in your area, or better yet, create your own!

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So, I got the summer job offer of a lifetime (Vermont Youth Conservation Project) and had to turn it down. But the good news is, I turned it down because my friends and I are going to Europe!!! I’ve never been and I am super excited. We are going to visit some sustainable communities in the UK while we are there.
Anyhow, back on task, I found a great program, much like the one I had to pass up, called Earth Force.
Their main focus is educating kids ages 12-17 on environmental issues and solutions.

Now is the time to foster a scientifically capable and civically engaged populace. Through Earth Force young people get hands-on, real-world opportunities to practice civic skills, acquire and understand environmental knowledge, and develop the skills and motivation to become life-long leaders in addressing environmental issues.

They’ve been around for more than 10 years and have three different programs: CAPS (Community Action and Problem Solving), GREEN (The Global Rivers Environmental Education Network) and Earth Force After School.

The BBC reports an easy move to victory, with 90 republicans supporting the bill, the House of Representatives passed a new energy conservation and research bill.

Highlights:

This is expected to reduce oil demand by up to four million barrels a day by 2030 and, its supporters claim, lower motorists’ costs by up to $1,000 (£500) a year.

The pursuit of alternative energy sources will focus on ethanol, with production set to increase fivefold to 36 billion gallons a year by 2020.

Here’s what the White House has to say about it: (Italics mine)

To Encourage Conservation And Energy Efficiency, The Energy Bill:

Establishes new energy efficiency standards for a wide variety of consumer products and commercial appliances, and offers tax incentives to encourage their purchase
Encourages improved efficiency in homes and buildings, establishes new aggressive Federal energy savings goals, and reauthorizes the Energy Savings Performance Contract program to conserve more energy at Federal facilities
Offers tax incentives to consumers to purchase energy-efficient hybrid, clean diesel, and fuel cell vehicles
Requires a new, multi-year rulemaking by the Department of Transportation to increase fuel economy standards for passenger cars, light trucks, and SUVs
To Expand The Use Of Alternative And Renewable Energy, The Energy Bill:

Establishes a new Renewable Fuel Standard that requires the annual use of 7.5 billion gallons of ethanol and biodiesel in the nation’s fuel supply by 2012
Extends the existing tax credit for production of electricity from renewable resources, such as wind, biomass, and landfill gas, and creates for the first time a tax credit for residential solar energy systems
Authorizes full funding for the President’s Hydrogen Fuel Initiative Provides Federal risk insurance and extends the Price-Anderson Act to mitigate the potential cost of unforeseen delays and encourage investment in a new generation of safer, more reliable, and more proliferation-resistant nuclear power plants
To Increase The Domestic Production Of Conventional Fuels, The Energy Bill:

Makes needed reforms to clarify the onshore oil and gas permitting process, and reduce conflicts with other laws and regulations (stormwater, CZMA, hydraulic fracturing)
Clarifies FERC jurisdiction over siting of onshore LNG facilities to accelerate development of a global market in natural gas and help reduce prices for U.S. consumers
Authorizes full funding for the President’s Clean Coal Research Initiative and updates Federal coal leasing laws
Eliminates the 2 percent “oxygenate requirement for reformulated gasoline, to improve the flexibility of our fuel supply and reduce the number of “boutique fuels”
To Encourage Investment In Modernization And Reliability Of Our Energy Infrastructure, The Energy Bill:

Requires mandatory reliability standards to make the electric power grid more reliable and protect against blackouts
Reforms outdated tax laws to expand investments in electric transmission and generation facilities
Establishes last-resort Federal siting authority for transmission lines deemed in the “national interest” to ensure a better functioning power grid
The Energy Bill Also Helps Reduce The Global Demand For Energy By:

Working with our international partners – including fast growing nations like China and India – to encourage them to deploy the cleanest and most efficient energy technologies as they develop and grow their economies

I’ve found some useful sites for Building Resources. If you are interested in sustainable building or adding to your existing property, here are some links.
Sustainable Building Resources: hollowtop.com

Some specs on Straw Bale Buildiing here and at Solarhaven.org

Green Home Building has info on cob, hay, cordwood, bamboo, papercrete,hybrid building and of course mud! So awesome.

Green Home Building Guidelines

Cordwood masonry, which I’ve seen peppered around the Northeast..




Cob Cottrage.com and Cobworks.com

…more to come!!!

The first thing that needs to be done is the simplest. We need to stop saying “I” and start saying “we.” If every single person started shifting their conciousness to that mentality, then the major controversy would be over with and we could start working on the solutions. This does not mean that we need to stray away from our “capitalist ideals;” to the contrary!
The truth is, everyone thinks that shifting the economy to business and industry that is green means we lose profit. This is a complete fallacy. To provide a better product(healthy and sustainable), made with better materials(organic, natural),through workers who get paid a liveable wage ($10 or more), means the whole country wins.
This idea can be transferred to politics as well. During a normal debate, the candidates shy away from issues such as social security, health care and sustainability because the solutions COST MONEY. Duh! But the solutions, such as in the case of global warming, also make money.
The real solutions to these problems, involve moving the middle-class back into America, creating jobs such as industry of natural and sustainable products, recycling and reuse of already produced materials, and construction and retrofitting of existing buildings to fit the need for better energy use.
It may seem a bit daunting to look at these problems on a large scale, but really the answers are astoundingly simple and accessible for everyone. If we want the human race to exist in a hundred years, then these problems need to be addressed and we can address them in really progressive and beneficial ways.

Food: less than 200 miles is a reasonable distance in which to grow and sustain our food. Better yet, grow a few yourself. If you neighbor grows potatoes and you grow tomatoes, you will both have plenty extra to share. It’s better for you, more delicious and better for the enviroment. All you need is a bucket and some dirt.
Find a farmers market or a co-op. Your town doesn’t have one? Start one!

Transportation: Public access to every single destination in the country is an absolute necessity.
Shelter: reuse reuse reuse: All the materials we could ever need have already been harvested. We need to recycle building materials, not dump
Shopping: Demand that the products you buy come from a good place, as mentioned above:liveable wage, made in US with recycled or sustainable materials.
The most recent statistics show that even the richest in the country have reduced their consumption of goods dramatically over the last 5 years. Everyone knows we don’t need all that crap.
Disposal: ANYTHING reusable goes on craigslist,the local farmers market, the local found materials shed, or the local distribution center. All biodegradable materials go in compost, not the dump. Compost means it goes back in the ground where it belongs.
Water: The most important factor essential to life. It’s pretty simple, don’t waste it. Don’t flush if you don’t have to, don’t shower longer than you have to, don’t leave shit running.
Find people who are interested, and work on a living machine or similar water remediation project.

These are just the beginning. There are hundreds of other ways to engage with eco-friendly living, engage with your community and most importantly, IMPROVE YOUR STANDARD OF LIVING.
If you care about this stuff, which you must if you’ve gotten this far, tell a friend and start small.

Ever heard of it? Ten Thousand Villages is a fair-trade, volunteer run,sustainability friendly store, located all over the US and Canada. My favorite section is the “traveler’s find,” which offers really distinct and beatiful products. Check it out!

Here’s something on my wishlist:


Made of bamboo, which I’ve mentioned is a miracle plant and completely renewable/sustainable.

Just a quicky, Stephen Leahy offers a beautiful post on the fast approching “train wreck.”
The graphics are gorgeous and his words are smart and provoking.

In the New York Times this morning, David Brooks brings up a point that’s been swirling around in my brain: Americans are torn between their private and public lives. 78% of polled citizens say they are content with their current living status (that sounds a bit high to me but we will go with it) versus just 25% who are happy with the current state of the nation. They don’t like the path we are headed in or the issues on the table in the 2008 “debate” and they are worried about something much more important than the bottom line: the global picture. People are concerned about health care, about sustainability, about safety.More than ever before, people are willing to put aside “less important issues” that made headlines 8 years ago, like gay marriage and abortion to put the big issues that face us on the table.
The 25% statistic has been flying around for some time now. People are desperate for political change, but not at the cost of losing personal choice. The question remains, do any of the candidates offer anything even remotely resembling REAL proposals and stategies? Or is it just the same old drivel?

P.S. As for those actually offering solutions, today, I bring you: EVWORLD. This website is a buyers guide for all things electrically mobile. The link connects you to the link page for electric car companies.
An example is GemCars.This electric personal vehicle has a max speed of 25mph, but in most towns and cities the speed limit is 25 or 30 within city limits.

Ideas for Simply Sustainable Living: eartheasy.com
This great little site has subcategories such as “live,” “grow,” “eat,” “play,” “wear,” and “give.” Each is a link to resources, literature and webites chuck full of useful and inspirational stuff.

Sign me up!





Plus here’s a great company doing good things.

Sustainable Connections: