Monthly Archives: April 2013

Earth Day with the Home Team

Greetings from New England!Each Monday we write about the New England environment and way of life seen through our local perspective. Previous posts

By Dave Deegan

Happy Earth Day!

The first Earth Day was held in 1970. It was organized as a series of “teach-ins” to hold conversations about the serious environmental challenges of the day. Here at EPA, celebrating Earth Day on April 22 sometimes feels like the biggest holiday of the year.

Today, our celebration will be especially memorable as several dozen EPA employees will volunteer their evening hours to be the recycling “Green Team” at Fenway Park.

Since 2008, I’ve been one of dozens of EPA employees from our local Boston office who have occasionally volunteered to help with the Red Sox’ recycling efforts. And the results are impressive – this goes way beyond the novelty of being at a game from a different vantage point. For example, in 2012 alone, the Red Sox averaged recycling approximately 3.4 tons of plastic and other items, and donated or composted 1.4 tons of food waste – at each game. That’s a lot of material being kept away from landfills, especially when you consider that there are 81 home games per season.

But wait. Isn’t climate change the biggest environmental issue? How does recycling relate to that? Building, moving and using the products and food we rely on in our daily lives – and then managing the waste left behind – requires a lot of energy.  This energy mostly comes from burning fossil fuels, which are the largest global source of heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions.

Recycling everyday objects, such as paper, bottles, and magazines saves energy and helps to slow climate change. The materials that you recycle are used to create the products you buy. This means less virgin material need to be mined or harvested, processed, manufactured, and transported—all of which consume energy.

To make tonight’s game even more green, the Red Sox this year are actually undertaking a carbon-neutral game in addition to promoting recycling of all plastic bottles, cups and containers.

On Earth Day, people often ask us how they can make a positive difference for a clean environment. Recycling is actually one of the best things we can all do in our daily lives. Just as Earth Day in 1970 led to creating major laws including the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, maybe the activities held on this year’s Earth Day will spur greater action on the biggest environmental challenge facing us today: climate change.

What will you do to make an Earth Day difference?

About the author: Dave Deegan works in the public affairs office of EPA New England in Boston. When he’s not at work, you might find him working in his yard or being outdoors in one of New England’s many special places.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Let’s Talk About Climate Change

Earthrise as seen from the moon. (NASA image)

Do you have a science question about Climate Change? Be sure to join our Earth Day (Monday, April 22) Twitter chat. Joining the discussion will be EPA expert Dr. Andrew Miller, the Associate Director for Climate for the Agency’s Air, Climate, and Energy research program (Office of Research and Development), and a member of the subcommittee on global change research for the U.S. Global Change Research Program.

Feel free to contribute your questions on Monday using #AskEPA, or post them in the comments section below for Dr. Miller.

Here’s more information…

(From our “It’s Our Environment” blog.)

 

 

Let’s Talk About Climate Change

By Jessica Orquina

Every year, we have different ways for you to engage with us online. This year, we invite you to join the conversation on climate change we’re hosting via our Twitter chats on three Monday afternoons in April. For each chat, we’ll be talking about a different environmental topic and taking your questions.

  • Earth Day, April 22nd 2:00pm EDT – Climate Change: What You Can Do
    Every day our actions affect the planet. Experts from our Office of Air and Radiation will be joining us on Earth Day to talk about what we can all do at home, in the office, and on the road to save energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and help protect the planet. Let’s work together to protect our communities from the effects of climate change now and in the future.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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Celebremos el Día del Planeta Tierra

Por José Jiménez

El Día del Planeta Tierra o Earth Day,  como se conoce en los Estados Unidos, fue un concepto completamente nuevo para mí cuando llegué a los Estados Unidos.  Tengo que admitir que cuando era estudiante en Puerto Rico, los medios de comunicación o instituciones sociales gubernamentales en la Isla no proveían mucha información sobre el medio ambiente.  Lo más cercano en mi universidad en aquella época era un festival denominado “Cinco días con nuestra Tierra.”  Pero el tema de este festival era sobre asuntos agrícolas.  El concepto de tener un día para recordar la importancia de proteger nuestro planeta no existía.

Pero porque es importante proteger nuestro ambiente, le diré que vivimos en una burbuja bien grande, y todas nuestras acciones en contra del medio ambiente tienen un impacto en nuestras vidas y la vida de generaciones futuras.  Todas las pequeñas emisiones se acumulan, esa pequeña cantidad de aceite que llega al drenaje, se acumula, los contaminantes químicos arrojados en la tierra se movilizan hasta que llegan a una fuente de agua subterránea.  No toma mucho mercurio para contaminar un lago.  En ocasiones desperdicios químicos no son tratados correctamente y llegan a nuestras fuentes de aguas subterráneas.  Muchos obtienen su agua potable o de riego para el cultivo de aguas subterráneas.  El aire que respiramos también tenemos que protegerlo.

El Día de la Tierra es un evento celebrado una vez al año para enfatizar y recordar a todos la importancia de proteger el medio ambiente.  El día seleccionado para este evento es abril 22 de cada año.  Ahora es un evento celebrado en el mundo entero, el día abril 22 fue designado como el día internacional de la Madre Tierra por una resolución de las Naciones Unidas.  Desde 1970, este evento se viene celebrando en los Estados Unidos.  Es un día para limpiar nuestros parques locales, las orillas de un rio o riachuelo, plantar árboles, dar charlas de cómo proteger el ambiente.  O simplemente hablar a nuestros niños sobre temas como reciclar, o disminuir el uso de la electricidad.

Es muy importante seguir protegiendo nuestro planeta para el beneficio de nuestros hijos y de las próximas generaciones.  En cada uno de nuestros países necesitamos elevar el conocimiento de cómo proteger el medio ambiente. Esto no es un ataque al derecho a desarrollar nuevas industrias y trabajos.  El objetivo es desarrollar de una forma sostenible y responsable donde el ambiente se tome en cuenta durante la construcción y manejo de una industria.  Pero esto no solo depende de nuestros gobiernos, también de cada uno de nosotros.  Es nuestra responsabilidad como ciudadanos de este planeta.   ¡Feliz Día del Planeta Tierra!

José Jiménez, egresado de la Universidad de Puerto Rico en Mayagüez con un grado en Ingeniería  Química, se desempeña como coordinador del Programa de Instalaciones Federales en la Region III de la EPA en Filadelphia, PA. 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Sustainable Things to Do in NYC: Earth Day Special

In honor of Earth Day, we’re offering an extended list of events continuing through April 23 to help you celebrate the environment in our great city!

Earth Day Celebration at Grand Central: The annual event includes three days of interactive exhibits, sustainability talks, live music, and kids’ activities. Saturday, April 20-Monday April 22, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Earth Week at Queens Libraries: From a week-long green film festival to a wide range of eco-friendly crafts, Queens Libraries are getting into the spirit. Various locations and times.

Electronic Waste Recycling Day: The Lower East Side Ecology Center extends there collection of unwanted electronics to the Upper West Side. Drop off your old tech gear on Amsterdam Ave. between West 74-75th Streets. Sunday, April 21, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Family Volunteer Day: What better way to celebrate Earth Day than by helping to beautify Central Park? Saturday, April 20, 10 a.m. – noon.

Federal Agency Earth Day: Head across the street from EPA’s downtown offices for an afternoon of informational talks and displays from the EPA, FEMA, and Baruch College on topics of sustainability and emergency response. Tuesday, April 23, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

New York City Green Festival: The second annual green festival celebrates a wide variety of solutions to lead people to healthier lives and greener communities. Saturday, April 20, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday, April 21, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

SAFE Disposal Event: The NYC Department of Sanitation is holding five SAFE Disposal Events this spring to provide a one-stop method to get rid of potentially harmful household products. Bring your hazardous household materials to Yankee Stadium on Saturday, April 20, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

St. George Day: An Earth Day festival that includes a celebration of dragons?! Head to Staten Island to find out what it’s all about. Saturday, April 20, noon-7 p.m.

Waking Up the Farm: Learn more about urban farming, enjoy a mid-afternoon healthy snack, and help with general farm work at Hattie Carthan Herban Farm in Brooklyn. Monday, April 22, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Worm Festival: South Brooklyn Children’s Garden is holding a worm festival for kids to learn about compost and why worms are beneficial for gardens. Saturday, April 20, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

20th Annual EarthFest Celebration: Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx hosts environmental exhibits, educational programming and children’s activities for this annual event. Sunday, April 21, noon – 3 p.m.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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EPA’s 9th Annual P3 Competition: Supporting a Sustainable Future

By Dr. James H. Johnson, Jr.

P3 team displays their project this morning at the 2013 Sustainable Design Expo.

As the Director of EPA’s National Center for Environmental Research (NCER), I come across inspiring projects of great depth and innovation on a daily basis. It’s the best part of my job. Together with my NCER colleagues, we build and support partnerships between EPA’s own top notch researchers and the leading environmental and human health scientists and engineers in the world.

This morning, I got to meet the next wave of young scientists poised to join those ranks.

Today marks the opening of EPA’s s P3 student design competition for sustainability. The competition is designed to support and inspire science and engineering students to work together to develop sustainable solutions to environmental and related human health issues that embrace the three P’s of people, prosperity and the planet.

The competition is a two-phase process. In Phase I, teams were selected to receive grants of up to $15,000 to research and test original sustainability projects. This year 42 teams were selected, and over the next two days will be showcasing their designs to a panel of judges for chance to enter Phase II, which includes up to $90,000 in additional grant money to help bring their products to the marketplace.

The caliber of projects I witnessed is astounding, from recycling LCD monitors to creating a water supply to local communities through fog. And you don’t have to be the Director of NCER or a P3 judge to see the projects. The same demonstrations and displays we enjoy are free and open to the public, part of the National Sustainable Design Expo.

Past P3 teams have excelled, engaging local and international communities, and bringing sustainable solutions to pressing environmental and related human health challenges throughout our country and the world. A number of teams have leveraged their winning ideas into nonprofit organizations and small businesses, sparking job growth as they advance sustainability.

EPA’s 9th annual National Sustainable Design Expo is located on the National Mall in Washington DC between 13th and 14th streets, right across the street from the Washington Monument. Displays will continue until 6:00pm Thursday (today), and continue between 9:00am to 6:00pm Friday (April 19).

If you are in the area, I urge you to stop by and see the great work on display. You’ll see why it’s the best part of my job.

About the Author: Dr. James H. Johnson, Jr. joined EPA’s National Center for Environmental Research in 2012 as the Director. In his free time, Dr. Johnson enjoys golfing and learning Tai Chi.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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Around the Water Cooler: P3 Promotes Student Innovation and Sustainability Science

By Sarah Blau

In Washington, DC this week? Then come on out to the National Mall today and tomorrow, and meet the teams of college students gathering to compete in EPA’s P3 competition as part of the National Sustainable Design Expo.

“P3” stands for People, Prosperity and the Planet. Working in teams, students strive to solve environmental challenges in ways that benefit people, promote prosperity and protect the planet—all at the same time. P3 competitors are outside-the-box thinkers and continually inspire us with their innovation and ideas.

The competition has two phases. In Phase I, student teams and their faculty advisors submit research proposals for a chance to win seed money to research and develop designs for sustainable solutions to current environmental and human health challenges. In Phase II, winning teams receive additional funding to start developing marketable prototypes of their sustainable designs.

Embry-Riddles Aeronautical University students demonstrate their design.

P3 sustainability projects span the gamut of environmental topics—from air quality to water availability to harnessing solar energy. Since we’re chatting “Around the Water Cooler” today, here is a quick glimpse at just a handful of the water-related 2012-2013 P3 grant recipients:

  • Loyola University of Chicago students are designing a unique green process to treat byproducts of biodiesel production, using a combination distillation and wetlands system to treat and reuse contaminants onsite. Their goal is to make biodiesel production fully sustainable. (Phase I)
  • Working with a university in the Philippines, Manhattan College students are developing a treatment system that uses solar power to remove salt from seawater to produce potable water and is made with concrete from local materials. This work addresses the lack of clean drinking water that is one of the most significant health issues in many countries around the world. (Phase I)
  • University of Florida students are designing a process to “harvest” essential crop nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium from liquid waste while ensuring the final harvested nutrients are free of pharmaceuticals. They expect to produce a cheaper, renewable fertilizer that reduces the costs and harmful impacts of wastewater treatment. (Phase I)
  • Embry-Riddles Aeronautical University students are designing a foldable solar power water purification system that can fit into a backpack for easy transport for use after a disaster that affects the drinking water supply. (Phase II)

For a complete listing of all P3 teams for the year, click here. And if you’re in the Washington DC area, be sure to stop by and say “hi” to these passionate students!

About the Author: Sarah Blau is a student services contractor working on the Science Communications Team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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Let's Talk on Earth Day

By Jessica Orquina

Haga clic en la imagen para unirse a la conversación en nuestro blog en español... ¡No olvide de suscribirse!

We enjoyed talking with you again this week during our Twitter chat about waste and climate change. Thanks to everyone who participated, sent us questions, and joined in the conversation! Here are some of our tweets from Monday afternoon’s chat:

Next week we’re hosting a Twitter chat on Earth Day! Join us Monday, April  22nd at 2:00PM EDT. From using public transportation to powering down electronics when not in use, there are lots of ways we can save energy, reduce harmful carbon pollution and better protect the climate.  Experts from our Office of Air and Radiation will be with us to answer your questions on how we can all play a role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We’ll talk about what we can all do to save energy and reduce greenhouse gases. You can participate by following @EPAlive and the #AskEPA hashtag on Twitter.  Send us your questions about how you can take action against climate change via Twitter using the #AskEPA hashtag or in comments below. If you don’t use Twitter, you can still watch the discussion at @EPAlive and #AskEPA. We look forward to chatting with you!

About the author: Jessica Orquina works in the Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education as the social media lead for the agency. Prior to joining EPA, she served as a public affairs specialist at another federal agency and is a former military and commercial airline pilot. She lives, works, and writes in Washington, DC.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Making a Difference – One Rain Garden at a Time

By Sue McDowell

The Rain Gardens for the Bays Campaign has gone local!

The Borough of Ambler, Pennsylvania, in collaboration with the Ambler Environmental Advisory Council, is helping to install rain gardens to improve local water quality in the Wissahickon Creek watershed, a tributary to the Schuylkill River, which leads to the Delaware Bay.

Through local volunteers and partnerships with state and local governments, Ambler is well on the way to its goal of 100 rain gardens over the next 10 years.

A rain garden is a garden designed as a shallow depression to collect water that runs off from your roof, driveway and other paved areas. It’s a sustainable and economic way of dealing with rainfall as nature intended.

Check out this video about Ambler’s ambitions!

The Rain Gardens for the Bays Campaign is greening our neighborhoods and protecting our streams by dotting the landscape with thousands of demonstration rain gardens in local watersheds. Town Halls, libraries, schools and other public institutions are showcasing this natural way to manage stormwater on the property that generates it.

The campaign is a partnership with EPA’s three mid-Atlantic National Estuary Programs (Delaware Bay, Delaware Inland Bays and Maryland Coastal Bays), the state of Delaware, the University of Delaware and other organizations.  One of our prime goals is encouraging residents and other property owners to install their own rain gardens.  You, too, can help your local watershed and our bays and rivers, one garden at a time.

For more information about Rain Gardens for the Bays Visit: http://www.raingardensforthebays.org/

About the author: Susan McDowell joined the EPA family in 1990.  Her work on community-based sustainability throughout her career includes the award-winning Green Communities program which has traveled across the United States and internationally.  She brings her ‘ecological’ perspective to her work including Pennsylvania’s nonpoint source pollution program the mid-Atlantic National Estuaries, and the G3 Academy (Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns).

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Hablemos durante el Día del Planeta Tierra

Por Jessica Orquina

 Disfrutamos de la oportunidad de conversar nuevamente con ustedes esta semana durante nuestra charla en Twitter acerca de los desechos y el cambio climático. ¡Gracias a todos los que participaron, nos enviaron sus preguntas y se unieron a la conversación! He aquí algunos de los tuits de nuestra charla del lunes por la tarde.

La semana próxima auspiciaremos la charla Twitter sobre el Planeta Tierra. Únase a nosotros el lunes, 22 de abril a las 2pm hora del este EDT. Desde el usar el transporte público a reducir la energía de los efectos electrónicos cuando no están en uso, hay muchas maneras para nosotros ahorrar energía, reducir la contaminación del carbono dañina y proteger mejor el clima.  Expertos de nuestra Oficina de Aire y Radiación estarán con nosotros para responder a sus preguntas sobre cómo todos podemos desempeñar un papel en la reducción de las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero (GEI). Usted puede participar siguiéndonos en @EPAespanol, @EPAlive y use la clave #PreguntarEPA en Twitter. Envíenos sus preguntas acerca de cómo usted puede tomar acción en contra del cambio climático vía Twitter usando la clave hashtag #PreguntarEPA o escribiendo sus comentarios a continuación. Si no usa Twitter, puede seguir la discusión en @EPAlive y #AskEPA. ¡Esperamos con interés charlar con ustedes!

Acerca del autor: Jessica Orquina trabaja en la Oficina de Asuntos Exteriores y Educación Ambiental como la principal persona encargada de medios sociales para la agencia. Antes de unirse a EPA, trabajó como especialista de relaciones públicas en otra agencia federal y es una ex piloto militar y de aerolíneas comerciales. Vive, trabaja y escribe en Washington, DC.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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The Path to Sustainable Communities Starts Here!

By Camilla Warren

My first Brownfields Conference was Boston, 2004 – a chilly, wet event where my eyes were opened to the possibilities for revitalizing all brownfields: urban, rural, industrial, railyard – you name it! These sites were becoming coffee shops, farmers’ markets, community gardens, welcome centers, boutique manufacturers, indoor putt-putt courses, and on and on. Anything is possible!

But how? With what? The 2013 Brownfields Conference is one great way you and your community  can learn how to get started, keep momentum, and achieve sustainable communities.

Many classes are for those just beginning to learn about Brownfields, including sessions with small and rural communities in mind. There are also sessions for communities working to address environmental justice concerns, including job development, public health findings and improvements in Brownfields communities, and community engagement. Every session has application to environmental justice issues.

Community workday in West Atlanta

Because cleaning up Brownfields is integral to addressing pollution and poverty in low-income and minority communities, an EJ Caucus Event is planned for Wednesday evening, May 15 at the Omni Hotel. Important topics will be discussed such as EJ policy, revitalization and jobs, economic development, EJ and public health, brownfields, and sustainability. There will also be local “community champions” who will share their experiences and experts in these fields will be serving as facilitators!

Targeted Brownfields Site Assessment at University Avenue in Atlanta

You can also participate in educational sessions that show the journey communities take when revitalizing their neighborhoods. You will see how communities converted their assets into down payments on revitalization: empty theatres in Birmingham, vacant storefronts in Columbia, and land next to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta were all utilized to enhance and improve local economies and create urban greenspace. The sessions will include great local speakers who remade their communities and want to share their advice and successes to help you learn more about what you can do in your neighborhoods!

Please consider joining us at the 2013 Brownfields Conference and begin your journey!

About the author: Camilla Warren is the EPA Region 4 Revitalization Project Manager and 2013 Brownfields Conference Local Coordinator.  Camilla has over 27 years of combined project and management experience in various types of contaminated properties, including Nonpoint Source, Hazardous Waste, Federal Facilities, Brownfields, and National Priorities List sites. She currently provides revitalization support to other EPA Brownfields project managers and communities throughout the southeastern states, and has designed a number of nationally known Brownfields successes.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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