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Earth Month Tip: Recycle

2014 April 3

A series of daily tips throughout April.

Did you know that recycling reduces carbon pollution? EPA estimates that our current national recycling efforts reduce carbon pollution by 49.9 million metric tons of carbon, which is equivalent to the annual carbon pollution from 39.6 million passenger cars!
Still, there’s more to do. Recycling in your home helps conserve energy and cut carbon pollution. Calculate how much energy you save when you recycle here: http://www.epa.gov/wastes/conserve/tools/iwarm/


More tips: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/actonclimate/

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations 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.

Let’s Chat About How to Act On Climate

2014 April 3

By Jessica Orquina

It’s Earth Month and we’re hosting Twitter chats on Tuesday afternoons, starting next week. During each chat, we’ll have different EPA experts sharing information on climate change and what we all can do to act on climate. We invite you to join the conversation and ask questions. Here’s the schedule for our Earth Month Twitter chats:

  • April 8th 2:00pm EDT – What can I do to act on climate?
    We can all act on climate and make a difference. Our Energy Star team will discuss actions we can all take in our lives to reduce carbon pollution.
  • April 15th 2:00pm EDT – What is EPA doing to act on climate?
    Climate change experts from our Office of Air and Radiation will talk about President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and what we’re doing at EPA to act on climate.
  • April 22nd 2:00pm EDT – EPA Research and Climate: What does the research show about climate change and what we can do about it.
    Experts from our Office of Research and Development will be joining us for our chat on Earth Day.
  • April 29th 2:00pm EDT – Why is climate action important for our water?
    Our experts on climate change and water will be joining us to discuss how climate affects our lakes, streams, and drinking water.

How can you join the conversation? Just follow @EPAlive and the #ActOnClimate hashtag on Twitter. Ask us a question or share your ideas, or just read along with the conversation. In addition to using Twitter, we’ll publish a blog post for each chat, and you can ask your questions or send your thoughts as comments on the post.

Ready to get started? For next Tuesday’s chat, send us your questions and comments, either via Twitter using the #ActOnClimate hashtag or in the comments below. Talk to you on Tuesday!

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 military and commercial airline pilot. She lives, works, and writes in Washington, DC.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations 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.

Earth Month Tip: Choose WaterSense

2014 April 2

A series of daily tips throughout April.

WaterSense is an EPA partnership program that helps consumers conserve water and save money without compromising performance. Products and services that have earned the WaterSense label have been certified to be at least 20 percent more efficient than their counterparts.

Did you know that using WaterSense labeled products could reduce a household’s faucet water use by more than 500 gallons annually? Upgrading to more efficient WaterSense labeled products can help us to save billions of gallons of water in each year, conserve energy and reduce carbon pollution.


Learn more: http://epa.gov/watersense/

More tips: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/actonclimate/

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations 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.

We Need Your Help to Protect the Planet

2014 April 2

By Jessica Orquina

Will you lend your voice to protecting the climate for Earth Day? I’d bet that since you read our blog, you already know many ways to cut your greenhouse gas emissions. But here’s another big thing you can do: share with your friends what they can do.  To help you do that, we’re using a new tool called Thunderclap, which is like a virtual flash mob. Here’s how it works: you agree to let Thunderclap send a specific, one-time message on your behalf to your social networks on April 22nd, Earth Day, at 12:00 pm EDT.  If 500 or more people agree, the message will go out on everyone’s walls and feeds at the same time (worldwide – hi, international readers!). But if fewer than 500 agree, nothing happens.

Here’s the message:

“For Earth Day, I commit to protect the climate. Take small actions that add up! http://epa.gov/climatechange/wycd #ActOnClimate” Note that bit about 500 people: we need your help to hit our target. To sum up, you can #ActOnClimate as simply as 1-2-3:

  1. Sign up below to join our Thunderclap.
  2. Share the link to the Thunderclap with your friends, so we get at least 500 people sharing the message: a. Facebook b. Twitter c. Google + d. Tumblr
  3. Learn more about what you can do to #ActOnClimate.

 

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 military and commercial airline pilot. She lives, works, and writes in Washington, DC.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations 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.

Earth Month Tip: Change Five Lights

2014 April 1

A series of daily tips throughout April.

Did you know that the average home has approximately 30 light fixtures and spends about 12% of its electricity bill on lighting?

Replace your five most frequently used light fixtures or light bulbs with Energy Star qualified products, and you will prevent carbon pollution while saving $75 a year on energy bills.

Lighting itself accounts for more of the energy you use than your laundry equipment, refrigerator, and dishwasher combined. A single light bulb that has earned the Energy Star can save between $40 and $135 in electricity costs over its lifetime. And that same single light bulb that has earned the Energy Star prevents, on average, between 570 and 1,825 pounds of carbon pollution over its lifetime.

A household equipped with Energy Star certified products can reduce carbon pollution by over 100,000 pounds and save about $9,300 on utility bills over the life of these products.

More tips: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/actonclimate/

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations 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.

Missoula Sawmill Site: Ready for Reuse

2014 April 1

By Ted Lanzano

SUNSET#

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On February 19th, after nearly 15 years of environmental work, the Missoula Sawmill property became fully “ready for reuse”.  This long-awaited news from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) brings relief and excitement to the community as redevelopment plans begin to accelerate.  I’ve worked with the city on a number of other Brownfield projects, but it’s a special pleasure to see this one through to completion.

Lying along the Clark Fork River in downtown Missoula, Montana, the sawmill operated until the early 1990s.  By the late 1990s, the city and EPA began partnering under a then-new initiative called Brownfields to evaluate the environmental conditions at the site.  Through multiple rounds of sampling the soil and groundwater, we found elevated levels of volatile organic compounds, metals, hydrocarbons, and methane coming from buried wood debris. This landed the former sawmill on Montana’s Comprehensive Environmental Cleanup and Responsibility Act list of sites that pose a risk to human health and the environment.

Given the prime location, and the great opportunities for redevelopment, the city and other local stakeholders were undeterred and moved forward with the environmental cleanup.  The city applied for and received its first EPA Brownfields Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund grant in 2004, which has now been used to issue a total of $1.8 million in remediation loans. The site also benefitted from an $833,000 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funded Brownfields sub-grant that expedited the cleanup.

While the sawmill cleanup has taken longer than originally anticipated, the city of Missoula, and the multiple stakeholders, agree their perseverance has been worth it.  It’s exciting to see redevelopment at the site already proceeding. In 2013, Missoula completed new street and utility access to the site.  The city acquired the 15-acre riverside portion of the property, and has completed construction of significant portions of a new public park, including bike paths, greenspace, a pavilion, river access, and the use of historic sawmill objects as public art.   On the remaining privately-owned 31 acres, Millsite Revitalization Project, LLP, plans to move forward with mixed retail and housing developments.  I’m looking forward to visiting when I’m in Missoula this summer, and can’t wait to see how the area evolves in the years to come.

About the Author: Ted Lanzano is an EPA Brownfields Project Manager in Denver, Colorado, and has been with the Agency for 10 years. 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations 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.

A Reminder

2014 March 28

By Danny Hart

We’ve had a visitor to our building over the last couple of weeks. He’s a beauty. And from the little I know of birds and what I could find online after his previous visit, he appears to be a red-tailed hawk. It’s a bit strange seeing such a huge bird perched in a courtyard in downtown Washington, DC on a snowy spring day. I would have thought he’d be more comfortable out in the marshes of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, or soaring the skies above Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

But, I think this visitor wanted pay a visit to remind us of the majesty and beauty that shares this planet we’re trying to protect.

About the author: Danny Hart is EPA’s Associate Director of Web Communications

 

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations 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.

Women Leading the Way

2014 March 27

By Lina Younes

Recently, EPA hosted a group of students and professors from the University of Puerto Rico’s Graduate School of Public Health. The group was visiting EPA and other agencies in Washington, DC to explore internship and employment opportunities in the federal government. It was exciting to see this group of young well-prepared Latinas ready to join the workforce.

The visiting students and professors met with several Hispanic employees from different EPA program offices. They discussed the work they are currently doing to protect the environment and human health. The employees shared some valuable advice on the skills necessary to be successful in the workplace. Furthermore, they described how they joined the agency. While we had Hispanic scientists, engineers, and lawyers with different areas of expertise, they shared some common experiences. Many had joined the agency through EPA’s internship programs.

The highlight of the afternoon was when Administrator Gina McCarthy and OPM Director Katherine Archuleta met with the visiting group and the employees. Administrator McCarthy emphasized that public health is at the core of EPA’s mission. While describing the work the agency is doing to address health disparities among Hispanics and other minorities, she mentioned the research EPA is conducting on the high incidence of asthma among Puerto Ricans.

During the meeting, Administrator McCarthy stressed the need to have a high-performing workforce that “looked like America” to fulfill the agency’s mission. She encouraged the visiting students to keep their eyes open for future opportunities at the agency.  Director Archuleta echoed her words and urged students to visit OPM’s website for internship and job opportunities throughout the federal government. She recommended that they start by registering in USAJOBS. As they left, I overheard several students saying “I’m going to USAJOBS tonight!”

Personally, I was happy to see many women in leadership positions at the agency as well as a new generation of young Latinas following in our footsteps. In sum, the future is bright for women at EPA.

About the author:  Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations 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.

Small Repairs, Big Savings

2014 March 21

By Lina Younes

Recently, I was shocked to see that my monthly water bill had almost doubled. What had caused the unexpected increase in water usage?  There had to be a logical explanation.

I reviewed our daily activities for the past month to find the reason for this alarming increase. Given that it’s still winter, we definitely had not been watering the garden. Nobody was taking more showers than usual.

So, I went on a fact-finding expedition around the house in search of the possible cause. Could it be the kitchen faucet? I thought I had instructed everyone to close it a certain way to prevent it from leaking.  All the toilets seemed to be working well, except the one in the basement.  I found the culprit!  My daughter confessed that sometimes it got “stuck” and kept on flushing. She mentioned it happened usually at night, but she had failed to tell me earlier. So, literally hundreds of gallons of water, and our money, were going down the drain.

My husband and I went to the local hardware store looking for a flapper to repair the toilet.  I saw that there were a variety of flappers and toilet repair kits that cost between anywhere between $4 and $20.  Luckily, he was able to repair the toilet himself. That small repair ended up saving us hundreds of dollars, and was worth every penny.

Did you know that in the U.S. over 1 trillion gallons of water are wasted in household leaks? That’s why EPA and its partners want to remind people to check the plumbing fixtures in their homes during Fix a Leak Week. Do you think you have a toilet leak? Place a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the color shows up in the bowl within 15 minutes without flushing, you have a leak. Fixing it will go a long way to save you money and protect the environment.

If you are planning on making some major repairs to your plumbing fixtures, it might be time to invest in faucets, showerheads and toilets with the WaterSense label. These water efficient products have helped consumers save over 487 billion gallons of water and nearly $9 billion in water and energy bills since EPA’s WaterSense Program was created in 2006. You can help save water, too. Every drop counts.

About the author:  Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations 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.

Keep Pesticides and Other Chemicals in Their Original Containers to Prevent Poisonings

2014 March 20

By Darlene Dinkins

Neighbors often save money by sharing things like tools and lawn and garden products. But, sometimes a neighbor’s good intentions may lead to tragic consequences – like when a neighbor shares a weed control product and gives it to you in an old water bottle. His good intentions could quickly turn dangerous if someone mistakes the bottle for a beverage.

Poison centers are all too familiar with accidental poisonings that occur after a person ingests a chemical that was transferred from its original container into a beverage container. In California, poison centers identified more than 1,400 cases of accidental poisoning caused by storage of non-food substances in soda bottles, unmarked bottles, cups, or glasses from 1998 to 2009. For example, there was the case of a 49-year-old man who reached for his coffee cup and took a sip while working in the barn one morning. He forgot that he had just poured an herbicide into his cup because he was concerned about the deterioration of the original pesticide bottle when he initially opened the container.

National Poison Prevention Week is March 16-22. It’s a time to raise awareness about simple steps that we can all take to prevent poisoning. I want to highlight the dangers of removing pesticides and other household chemicals from their original containers and storing them in bottles or cans that can be mistaken for beverages. One of the simplest ways to prevent poisoning is to always keep products in their original containers. Product labels contain valuable use instructions, important precautions, and first aid information that is needed in case of an emergency.

Take action to prevent a poisoning from occurring in your home:

  • Post the Poison Control Center national helpline number, 1-800-222-1222, near your phone or program the number into your phone’s speed dial feature.
  •  Read the product label first before using a product and follow the directions to the letter.
  •  Never transfer pesticides and other household chemical products to containers that may be mistaken for food or beverages.
  • Don’t use empty pesticide containers to store anything else. Even if you wash the container, it could still contain residues of the pesticide and could hurt someone.
  • Seal products after each use and store them out of children’s reach.
  • If you use mouse or rat poison, use products with tamper-resistant bait stations to protect children and pets.
  • Remove children, pets, and toys before applying pesticides either inside or outside your home.
  • Follow label directions to determine when children and pets can re-enter the area that has been treated.

Poisoning incidents are preventable. Take these steps today and help us raise awareness of how to prevent poisonings and exposures to household cleaners and pesticides.

About the author: Darlene Dinkins is in Communications Services Branch of EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs. Darlene represents EPA on the Poison Prevention Week Council, which promotes National Poison Prevention Week, and distributes the Council’s materials and messages.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations 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.