go green

My Community Is Going Green

By Lina Younes

Recently I was reading a weekly paper that covers community events in neighborhoods in Prince George’s County, Maryland where I live. I was very happy to see four articles on four totally separate issues that point to the county’s latest sustainability efforts. Let me explain.

The first article mentioned that Prince George’s County now has its first sustainability planner to encourage residents and small businesses to save energy, adopt sustainable practices, organize environmental events and outreach. The purpose is not only to encourage business leaders to go green, but individuals as well.

The second article mentioned how one of the pools in Prince George’s County is trying to make an environmental splash by installing a solar panel system. Installing this renewable energy system is only one of the green initiatives adopted in that community. They also have several rain barrels which collect and store rainwater runoff. Hopefully this green initiative extends to other pools and sports installations in the area. One of the community leaders is quoted as saying that “the fact that we’re actually saving money, that’s just a bonus”. Nice attitude!

The third news item reported on a recent survey that ranked the University of Maryland-College Park, one of the universities two of my children studied at, as the 13th greenest in the Nation. And the fourth article dealt with a major mass transit project envisioned for 2020 which will lead to far-reaching environmental and economic benefits for generations to come.

As administrator Gina McCarthy outlined EPA’s themes recently, the Agency is working hand in hand with its federal partners, states, tribes, AND local communities “to improve the health of American families and protect the environment one community at a time, all across the country.” EPA has a variety of programs that encourage sustainability and green practices in communities from the Urban Waters Initiative, to EPA’s Brownfields program which encourages communities and key stakeholders to work together to prevent contamination, safely cleanup communities and promote sustainable land use, and its environmental justice program.

Bottom line: the actions we take at home, at school, at the office, in our communities, have an impact on our community and our environment as a whole. Going green is not just a fad, but an imperative for us all. That’s my humble opinion. What do you think?

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 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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Remember to E-Cycle!

By Lina Younes

Electronic items are popular gifts for dads and recent grads. Items such as computers, widescreen TVs, game stations, camcorders, eReaders and mobile phones quickly come to mind as ideal gifts for that special person. Personally, I like looking at the ads for electronic items in the Sunday paper to see the latest gadgets available in the market. To me it’s fascinating to see the latest technological developments in electronics. It’s hard not to resist buying the latest computer that is much faster, much lighter, and has a longer-lasting battery.

However, if you decide to buy the latest game system, computer, or cellphone, what are you planning to do with the old one? Have you heard of eCycling? You can donate computers, TVs, cellphones to non-profit organizations to extend the life-cycle of those items. I’m sure they may still have more years of good use. However, there is another option that is even better for the environment. How about recycling your used and unwanted electronic items? That’s known as eCycling!

The process of eCycling allows many of the valuable metals and components in those electronics to be reused in other useful products. Did you know that most electronic products contain valuable resources such as precious metals and engineered plastics which require considerable energy to manufacture? By recycling, these valuable materials are recovered for future reuse. During this process, virgin resources are conserved and there is a lower environmental impact overall. To put these numbers in context, did you know that in the United States by recycling approximately 414,000 tons of electronics in 2007, the release of greenhouse gases prevented was the equivalent of the annual emissions of more than 178,000 cars?

So, whether you’re recycling a computer or a cellphone or a TV, check with the store where you’re buying the new electronics. They will likely have an eCycling program available so you can safely retire your used electronic products. Furthermore, states, municipalities and schools have computer collection programs for their residents from time to time to help protect the environment.

Just some ideas on how to go green with your electronics. Any suggestions? We will love to hear from you.

About the author: Lina Younes is the Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison for EPA. Among her duties, she’s responsible for outreach to Hispanic organizations and media. She spearheaded the team that recently launched EPA’s new Spanish website, www.epa.gov/espanol . She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. She’s currently the editor of EPA’s new Spanish blog, Conversando acerca de nuestro medio ambiente. Prior to joining the agency, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and an international radio broadcaster. She has held other positions in and out of the Federal Government.

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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When Average Is Just Not Good Enough

By Lina Younes

This past weekend, I went to the Earth Day festivities at the National Mall with my youngest daughter and one of her friends. We visited the National Sustainable Design Expo-P3 , the NASA exhibits and activities and other booths in the area. While we eagerly participated in the events, one of the activities left me somewhat perplexed. Which activity you may ask? The Carbon Footprint Estimator.

In honor of Earth Day at the National Mall and online, there were several variations of the same question “What is your carbon footprint?” While I pride myself in doing my best to go green by saving energy, saving water, reducing waste, and recycling, time and time again all the quizzes I took this weekend gave me the same grade. What is my Green-O-Rometer? How green am I? Response? Just an average Jane. Not something to be proud of in my book.

So, what were my areas of weakness? Basically, the different quizzes/activities revealed that my weakest area was food consumption. That is an area that I think we frequently overlook when we are thinking of going green. How often do we eat processed or packaged foods? How many times do we eat non-locally grown foods? Do we eat enough locally grown fruits and vegetables? In my case, those were the least green-friendly activities that I engaged in on a daily basis.

So now that I’m aware of my area of weakness, I’ll definitely make a conscious effort to improve. Not only will it be greener for the environment, but it will also be healthier for me and my family.

Are you planning any changes in your daily habits? Want to share any green plans with us? We would love to hear from you.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves as acting associate director for environmental education. 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 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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CommUnity

By Jeanethe Falvey

I live just outside of Boston, but never saw myself as a city mouse. Someday the country will be my happy place again, but for now, I love where I live.

I love supporting small, local shops to buy groceries, coffee, repair clothing; I can easily find recycling and trash bins; environmentally friendly products are available, so I know I’m not harming Boston Harbor at the other end of my apartment’s pipes; I can walk to get just about everything I need and take public transportation to get to work. Best of all, I can breathe a little deeper because others before me were kind enough to build sidewalks that allowed the big trees to get bigger.

Sometimes I like to imagine a map of my day, just like the Family Circus illustrations: little red footsteps of the kids going around the yard, up into the tree house, down the street, in and out of the house. Only I think of mine as green footsteps wherever I’ve been with bright green “poofs!” when I’ve come across someone else doing something for the environment and their little green footsteps trail off in another direction.

Even the smallest efforts for the environment have always felt good and happily I can report there are others like me! In fact, one girl beat me to a plastic bag blowing across the street in downtown Boston a few weeks ago – kept me a whole notch cheerier for the rest of the day (…still actually).

A second ago, someone was a total stranger in a big city; the next, you feel like you’re a part of a community.

I’ve never seen a community service project that wasn’t filled with people smiling; happy to be helping others where they live and making their community a brighter, healthier place to be.

This weekend, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, we hope you’re able to give back and take pride in your community. Find a project where you live. If you join a cleanup event, please share your photos or tweet using #GreenMLK ! I can’t wait to see what you help to accomplish and look forward to featuring your work in a future post.

Watch the world go green with you, tally up the steps you can take to leave your path a little greener.

About the author: Jeanethe Falvey writes from EPA’s Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education, as the project-lead for Pick 5 and the State of the Environment, two projects geared towards learning, sharing and gaining a greater collective connection to our environment.

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.

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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Going Back to School…Go Green!

By Wendy Dew

Start off the new school year with a pledge to go green at school. There are many things you can do to go green:

  • Before starting a new school year, sort through the school supplies on-hand. Many things, like notebooks or pens and pencils, can be reused or recycled. You can share your used books and other school supplies with friends, relatives, or younger schoolchildren.
  • If you are purchasing new school supplies, look for items made out of recycled materials. Did you know you can get pencils made out of recycled jeans or money!
  • For school proms, dances, or other events, decorations and other supplies can be borrowed or rented. If you buy these supplies, try adopting a theme that can be used from year-to-year, so that you can reuse them.
  • Many schools reuse text books to save money and reduce waste. Covering your textbooks with cut-up grocery or shopping bags helps reduce waste and keeps your books in good condition.
  • If you buy lunch, take and use only what you need: one napkin, one ketchup packet, one salt packet, one pepper packet, one set of flatware. Remember to recycle your cans and bottles, and separate your waste if your school has separation bins!
  • Help your school start or improve an existing recycling/composting program. Several earlier blogs on this site have examples of schools that successfully went green!
  • Create school hall monitors that patrol for lights out in rooms not being used…you could even give your teachers report cards on how energy efficient they are!

To find out more about what you can do to go green while going back to school check out our healthy school resources.

About the author: Wendy Dew is the Environmental Education and Outreach Coordinator for Region 8 in Denver, Colorado.

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.

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 Environment Gets Top Billing

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Lea la versión en español a continuación de esta entrada en inglés.
Some links exit EPA or have Spanish content. Exit EPA Disclaimer

Equipped with my new pedometer, I decided to brave the 100 degree Fahrenheit heat during my lunch hour to stroll down Pennsylvania Avenue and visit one of the newest Washington, DC attractions—the Newseum. This interactive museum offers visitors numerous exhibits which will immerse you in major events that have shaped our nation’s history.

This midday stroll was going to satisfy two of my basic needs—one, getting some exercise and two, getting my daily dosage of news. Yes, I have to confess. I am, as we say in English, a news-junkie. I need my daily fix. While the worldwide Web allows me to surf for news from all over the world in several languages just sitting in front of my computer, I still relish the experience of taking a real newspaper in my hands—ink and all–and reading it thoroughly.

In front of the Newseum, they display in showcases, the front pages of newspapers from across America and several foreign countries. The showcases are updated daily. As I walked—I noticed a common theme. Yes, there were many stories on the scorching heat, the high price of gas at the pump (the new U.S. average is $4.00 per gallon), the high price of oil, the economy, etc. However, what really struck me was the high number of front page stories dedicated to environmental issues. Energy conservation, water conservation, changing commuting habits to save money, recycling, reducing the carbon footprint were some of the issues covered on the front pages of the newspapers featured today at the Newseum. Some of the most interesting articles I found were from Delaware and Oregon respectively–“Seaford schools teach green lessons”, “Flower brigade: Volunteers help native plants flourish through the summer,” It all boils down to the fact—environmental protection is everyone’s responsibility. The simple steps we take at home, at school, at work, or in our community have an environmental impact. So, while many of us in EPA are doing our part to increase environmental awareness, I’m happy to see that the media and the general public are proactively trying to plant the seed of going green.

El Medio Ambiente Domina Los Titulares

Sobre la autor: Lina M. F. Younes ha trabajado en la EPA desde el 2002 y está a cargo del Grupo de Trabajo sobre Comunicaciones Multilingües. Como periodista, dirigió la oficina en Washington de dos periódicos puertorriqueños y ha laborado en varias agencias gubernamentales.

Con mi nuevo pedómetro, decidí enfrentar el calor de 100 grados Fahrenheit durante mi hora de almuerzo para caminar por la avenida Pensilvania y visitar un nuevo lugar de interés en Washington, DC—el Newseum. Este nuevo museo interactivo ofrece numerosas exposiciones sobre los principales eventos noticiosos que han formado la nación.

Este paseo iba satisfacer dos de mis necesidades básicas—primero, estar más activa, y en segundo lugar, mi dosis diaria de noticias. Sí, tengo que confesar que soy lo que se le dice en inglés, una news-junkie, soy adicta a las noticias. Mientras el Internet me permite viajar por todo el mundo leyendo periódicos en varios idiomas mediante mi computadora, todavía disfruto de la experiencia de tener un verdadero periódico en mis manos—con tinta y todo—y leerlo de rabo a cabo.

Frente al Newseum, hay vitrinas con las primeras planas de los diarios de Estados Unidos y varios países extranjeros. Se actualizan los periódicos diariamente. Mientras caminaba mirando los diarios, pude identificar un tema en común. Sí, habían muchas historias sobre la ola de calor, el elevado precio de la gasolina (el nuevo promedio en Estados Unidos es de $4.00 por galón), el alto precio de petróleo, la economía, etc. Sin embargo, lo que me saltó a la vista fue el alto número de historias de primera plana dedicada a asuntos medioambientales. La conservación energética, la conservación de agua, los cambios en los hábitos de viajar al trabajo para ahorrar dinero, el reciclaje, la reducción de la huella de carbono eran tan sólo algunos de los temas destacados en las primeras planas proyectadas en el Newseum . Algunos de los artículos que me parecieron más interesantes fueron de Delaware y Oregón respectivamente—“Escuelas de Seaford enseñan lecciones verdes”, y “Brigada de flores: Voluntarios ayudan a que las plantas nativas prosperen durante el verano”.
En fin, la situación se resume de la siguiente manera—la protección ambiental es responsabilidad de todos. Hay pasos sencillos que tomamos en el hogar, la escuela, en el trabajo o en nuestra comunidad que tienen un impacto ambiental. Mientras muchos en EPA estamos poniendo de nuestra parte para fomentar la concienciación ambiental, me alegra ver que los medios y el público en general están tratando de manera preactiva de sembrar la semilla para ser verde.

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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