green

(A Student’s) Green Shopping Guide

By Stephanie Businelli

Congratulations! You fought through your SATs, got your diploma, and are now heading towards “the best four years of your life,” more commonly known as college. If you’re a student who plans to live on campus, now is the time to start shopping for your new home, one that will be entirely yours (with the sole exception of that roommate you’ve been getting to know over Facebook this summer). While you’re buying supplies that will make your dorm reflect the uniqueness that is you, don’t forget to keep your permanent home – planet Earth – in mind. Making your dorm ‘green’ may seem as impossible as fitting all of your worldly possessions into that tiny room, but it doesn’t have to be! Try asking yourself these questions while you shop for your college dorm essentials:

    1. Can you buy it used? Head to a consignment store before you rush into major purchases. Many items on your list (especially larger ones like furniture) can be found secondhand at a lower price while keeping that “just as good as new” quality.
    2. Is it reusable? Rather than buying single-use items, buy those that have a longer shelf life. A single glass plate can replace countless paper ones that ultimately end up in the trash.

 

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  1. Does the company promote sustainability?While shopping, look for brands that make green products. EPA has programs that can help you shop and live green, including ENERGY STAR, Water Sense, and Design for Environment.
  2. Is it made of recycled materials? Create a recycle ripple effect by buying supplies that use recycled materials. Your purchase will encourage manufactures to make more of these recycled-content products available and help conserve our precious natural resources.
  3. Is it locally produced? Products made locally require less transportation, requiring less fuel use and reducing their overall environmental impact. Not to mention, you‘ll be supporting businesses in your community!

EPA estimates that 42% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are associated with the energy used to produce, process, transport, and dispose of food and goods. By making your dorm green (in practice – color is completely optional), you’re working towards a more sustainable future. Your actions can have a huge effect! For more information and additional ideas check out Think Green Before You Shop.

 

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About the author: Stephanie Businelli is a biological basis of behavior major and environmental studies minor at the University of Pennsylvania. As an intern for the EPA Communications Services Staff in the Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery, she likes to brainstorm green dorm ideas she wishes she had known as a freshman. She’s currently offering a hefty reward for the first person to create a (environmentally-friendly) time machine.

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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Be Green and Save Green this Holiday Season

blog Samantha Nevels

Samantha Nevels, CEA

By: Samantha Nevels

In a recent study, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)® found that 60 percent of consumers are concerned about their energy bill. The first step in cutting your bill is understanding your energy use. CEA has made this easy through an interactive consumer electronics energy calculator available at GreenerGadgets.org. In just a few easy steps, the calculator will estimate the amount of energy used by your consumer electronics devices based on what electronics you use and how often you use them. The calculator determines your energy cost per month and per year, and compares your energy use to that of the average U.S. household. It also provides some easy tips to save energy!

Here are some tips on how to be green during the holidays: 

  • Look for the ENERGY STAR: Electronics are a popular gift and now you can give a great present that also gives back.  Look for the ENERGY STAR  when shopping for electronics. The trusted blue label indicates energy efficient products that will save you money on your energy bill and help protect the planet.
  • Recycle your old Electronics: Whether you get or give electronics this holiday season, be sure to recycle the old one, allowing the valuable materials inside to be used again in new products and to save natural resources. Find an electronics recycling site near you at GreenerGadgets.org.
  • Read the Fine Print: Check your owners’ manuals to make sure you are taking full advantage of any energy conservation capabilities that your electronics may have.
  • Plug and Unplug: Plug electronic devices like televisions, game consoles, set-top boxes, and even your holiday lights into eco-friendly power strips. Also, unplug those holiday lights during the day!

With these quick and easy tips you’ll be on your way to having more money in your pocket and contributing to a better, more sustainable world. Visit GreenerGadgets.org to learn more about how you can live green, buy green and recycle responsibly.

Samantha Nevels is the coordinator of Policy Communication for the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).  CEA is a consumer electronics authority on market research and forecasts, consumer surveys, legislative and regulatory news, engineering standards, training resources and more.  CEA works closely with EPA through the ENERGY STAR program, to promote greater adoption of ENERGY STAR certified consumer electronics.

 

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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Cutting Energy Waste from Commercial Buildings Just Got a Little Easier

Lauren Hodges Pitcher

Lauren Hodges Pitcher, EPA

By: Lauren Hodges Pitcher

Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight knows that it’s hard to do without regularly stepping on the scale. That little instrument doesn’t lie—it tells us if we weigh more or less than we’d like to. It tells us whether our impressive showing at the gym last week was enough to counteract the effects of Saturday night’s four-course meal. And in some cases, a big drop or gain can indicate when something in our body is not working properly.

But did you know that every month, more than 300,000 commercial buildings also step on a scale to make sure that they are in good shape, energy-wise? Before you start picturing a scale the size of a football field, I’ll tell you that this is a virtual scale, available from ENERGY STAR through our online Portfolio Manager tool. Through Portfolio Manager, any building can measure and track its energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and water use in a secure online account–for free.

Nearly 40 percent of the commercial building space in the country is currently “stepping on the scale” every month through Portfolio Manager. That’s great news because although commercial buildings use about 18 percent of our nation’s energy, and contribute about 18 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions, they don’t have to. On average, about 30 percent of this energy is wasted! And here’s more good news: A recent study of buildings that consistently used Portfolio Manager over a three-year period showed that they cut their energy use by an average of seven percent (or 2.4 percent per year)!

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So let’s get more buildings on the scale, and let’s do what we can to help them save energy and trim down their energy “waste”-lines! Here are a few things you can do to help:

  1. Approach leaders at your workplace, your children’s school, your congregation, your favorite stores, and any other buildings in your community. Suggest that they start stepping on the scale and managing their energy use with help from ENERGY STAR. Send them to energystar.gov/PortfolioManager to learn more.
  2. Bring your green to work! The same simple steps you take at home to save energy can make a big difference in buildings, too. Turn off lights in empty rooms, shut down your computer at the end of the day, and use blinds to block the hot summer sun. Find more tips, plus fun interactive games and quizzes here, on the ENERGY STAR website.
  3. Set a goal to encourage one building in your community to earn EPA’s ENERGY STAR certification. Yup, just like a refrigerator, buildings can also earn the ENERGY STAR if they are among the most energy efficient in the country! Learn more here.

And did we mention that we just launched a complete upgrade to Portfolio Manager? Now it’s easier than ever to use, with new wizards, reports, graphs, and sharing features. With President Obama calling for a 50 percent cut in the amount of energy that commercial buildings waste, there is no better time to encourage the buildings in your community to take Portfolio Manager for a test drive at energystar.gov/NewPortfolioManager. Who knows how much energy and money you may help them save?

Lauren Hodges Pitcher directs communications activities for the ENERGY STAR program for commercial buildings and industrial plants. She is proud to work in an ENERGY STAR certified office building, and her favorite stores all track their energy use in Portfolio Manager. 

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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Go Green this Spring!

By: Kelly Siegel

Although it still feels like winter in parts of the Midwest, spring is officially here!  As we gear up for the start of spring and plan spring activities it is important to remember to keep these activities green.  Here are some ideas to make the most of the season:

  1. Get your hands dirty and plant a vegetable garden.  It takes some work and patience now, but when you are eating your home grown tomatoes this summer, it will all be worth it.
  2. Get outside.  Go for long walks, bike rides, or runs and explore your neighborhood you have missed over winter.
  3. Many of us associate spring with spring cleaning.  Go through those old boxes and your closet and donate, recycle, or reuse anything you don’t need any more. You never know what you might find!
  4. On the topic of spring cleaning, use green cleaning supplies.  There are even ways to make your own.  It is very simple and not only better for the environment, but your wallet as well. 
  5. Use reusable water bottles – You can get some with cool designs and not waste plastic water bottles. 

Do you have other tips to go green this spring?  Please share.

Kelly Siegel is a student volunteer in the EPA’s Air and Radiation Division in Region 5, and is currently obtaining her Master’s degree in Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  She has a passion for sustainable development, running, and traveling with friends

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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Green Kid Taking Action

I am 11 years old, from Fremont, CA. I am a very passionate environmentalist.
Many people wonder how I got into being an environmentalist.  I guess it is because of the way I was brought up. My mom told me that I started raising concerns about trash lying around in public places when I was four years old.

studentIt used to bother me a lot when I see kids throwing trash around school and being irresponsible about it. When I was in 2nd grade we had a class project, and I wrote a story about caring for the environment and showed that, it is the responsibility of everyone to keep their community clean. That’s when I first expressed my thoughts openly.  This story was later published as a children story book called, “Two Tales from a Kid”.

I love to read books, and my favorite subjects at school are science and math. I am always very curious. Everybody tells me that I ask too many questions. My parents’ told me that it is okay to ask questions, but, as I am growing older I need to also try to find the answers myself. I do a lot of research by reading books, internet, meeting experts, and exploring whenever I am curious about something. My parents’ take me to different places and help me find my own answers.

I often discuss about the issues I observe and share my suggestions for improving. Some people are supportive, some agree, but do not want to take action, and some just ignore.
I was advised to be more clear and specific, and list actionable items when I give any suggestions. I then started writing step by step actions that can be taken at school. It took me two years to complete my program for school. It has been reviewed by experts, and now I am piloting it, through my non-profit organization, Green Kids Now, Inc.,
I realized the process of self-learning is too time consuming and that we need a conference dedicated for children, so we could learn faster and be updated on all the latest developments, so I founded “ Green Kids Conference”.

Though I faced numerous hurdles, it is my passion and strong belief for the cause that keeps me going. I will continue in this path and become an entrepreneur and focus on bringing in solutions to the most challenging environmental issues.

Pavan is a passionate environmentalist, published author, and founder of non-profit charity organization, Green Kids Now, Inc.  He is also the founder of Green Kids Conference.

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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Building and Buying it Green

By John Martin

When it comes to buying furniture, I insist on finding a deal. In college, do-it-yourself shelving from Target was the answer to my growing CD and book collections. When it came time to furnish my apartment after graduation, Ikea got most of my money.

A few weeks ago, phase three of my bargain-furniture-purchasing life began when I came across Build It Green! NYC.
Build It Green! is a unique nonprofit that fills a useful niche. When contractors, building owners and anyone else is looking to move slightly used furniture or construction materials, Build It Green swoops in and takes it off their hands, free of charge. Instead of idling uselessly in some landfill forever, the furniture is put on display in the Build It Green! warehouse in Astoria, where the public can peruse its aisles. Although everything is assigned a price upon arrival, customers are encouraged to haggle if the cost is out of their price range.

Last Saturday, I came looking for a storage unit for my dad’s basement. Like most dads with basements, mine has too much stuff lying around, so I was hoping to help get him more organized. Although I didn’t find the perfect fit (the one piece that came close to what I was looking for had just been sold), the trip was worth it, if only for the educational experience.

Many of the thousands of items for sale were in need of a good cleaning, but just about everything was well-built and in good condition— there were enough ovens, cabinets, countertops, bathroom fixtures, chairs and tables to furnish a small upstate New York town. If you come in with time to browse, there’s a good chance you’ll find something useful, typically at a surprising price. Better yet, all Build It Green! NYC profits support environmental education, so you can be satisfied that your money is being put to good use.

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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Pedaling Into Spring

By Elizabeth Myer

The severe winter conditions we’ve endured have at long last subsided, leaving us yearning for spring weather. The snow has melted, the ice has thawed and the sunlight is sticking around deeper into each evening as the days progress, infinitely raising the spirits of outdoor enthusiasts everywhere. Residents of the concrete jungle are no exception, though long as we might for those warm and sunny days, the Big Apple is not always the obvious choice for an outdoorsy venture. Fear not, fellow New Yorkers; your thirst for a spring time lift has been answered– this time in the form of city cycling maps.

The biking trend is quickly taking hold of city folks across the globe — much to the delight of the eco-conscious, might I add – and the city has taken notice. Linked below you will find a gift from the NYC Department of City Planning that will lead you to a completely new way to explore each of the five boroughs, all while staying fit and healthy even as you reduce your carbon footprint. The 2010 Cycling Map is available on the main page in PDF format, and if you’re a beginner to cycling (like me) you’ll find a few sections particularly helpful, like the links to safety tips, bike laws and bike signage.

Here’s to a “green” spring. Happy cycling, New York!

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 Green Around the World

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

This summer I went to Lebanon for our family vacation, a country that we’ve visited several times over the years. While the country faces many environmental challenges, I was impressed by their efforts to go green. There were several things that I hadn’t seen in previous trips to that country so I was motivated to write this entry to Greenversations.

First of all, I noticed that many houses had solar photovoltaic panels! I was shocked. I’ve driven through many neighborhoods in the US and I have never seen any. Second, I noticed that light bulbs being sold at the local grocery and convenience stores were all the equivalent of Energy Star-qualified CFL light bulbs sold in the US. Consumers didn’t have a choice. Only energy efficient light bulbs were being sold. The homes that I visited all had these CFLs. Thirdly, in a trip to the grocery store, I saw reusable cloth bags for sale with a green “Save the Earth” logo in English on the bags! Just like the ones we now see in U.S. grocery stores. Fourth, there were billboards along the roads and ads in the local press advertising for eco-tourism events and sites throughout Lebanon.

When I returned to the U.S., I visited the web site of the Lebanese Ministry of the Environment and saw some green tips similar to the advice given by EPA to encourage environmental awareness.

Although much remains to be done in the US and worldwide to further protect the environment and human health, I am heartened by the fact that more and more individuals and countries seem to be marching towards a green goal. Hope more people will become inspired by the words of the Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Together, we can make it happen. What have you done for the environment lately?

Esfuerzos ecológicos alrededor del mundo

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.

Este verano pasamos las vacaciones familiares en El Líbano, un país que hemos visitado en varias ocasiones durante los años. Mientras el país enfrenta numerosos retos medioambientales, enseguida noté sus esfuerzos ambientalistas. Varias cosas que no había visto en viajes anteriores me impresionaron y me motivaron a escribir mis vivencias en nuestro blog, Greenversations (Conversaciones verdes).

Primero que nada, en El Líbano este verano me sorprendió ver que muchas casas tenían paneles fotovoltaicos solares! He conducido por varios vecindarios en Estados Unidos y jamás los he visto. En segundo lugar, noté que las bombillas (focos) a la venta en las tiendas locales eran el equivalente de las bombillas fluorescentes compactas CFL con la etiqueta de Energy Star que se venden en Estados Unidos. Los consumidores no tenían otra opción. Sólo las bombillas energéticamente eficientes estaban a la venta. Todos los hogares que visité tenían estas bombillas. En tercer lugar, cuando fuimos de compras al supermercado, vi las bolsas de tela que se pueden volver a utilizar con el logotipo en inglés de “Cuida el Planeta Tierra” —tales como se venden ahora en muchos supermercados estadounidenses. En cuarto lugar, había anuncios a lo largo de las carreteras y en los medios locales promoviendo eventos y lugares de eco-turismo en El Líbano.

Cuando regresé a EE.UU. visité el sitio Web del Ministerio del Medio Ambiente de El Líbano y ví que tenían muchos consejos verdes similares a los que brinda la EPA para fomentar la concienciación ambiental.

A pesar de que queda mucho por hacer en Estados Unidos y a nivel mundial para mejor proteger el medio ambiente y la salud humana, me alienta el hecho de que más y más países parecen estar marchando hacia una meta verde. Espero que más personas se inspiren por las palabras del filósofo chino Lao-tzu, “Un camino de mil millas comienza con un solo paso”. Juntos podemos lograrlo. ¿Qué ha hecho para el medio ambiente últimamente?

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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Green is the new dot-com!

Photo of staff cleaning up C&O Canal Park carrying a large log

About the author: Tim Lyons is EPA’s Deputy Press Secretary.

From green ballparks and green toilet paper to Wally the Green Monster and Green Power Partnerships, green is the new rage these days and, quite unexpectedly, I’ve even caught this green wave and I hope you will too, if you haven’t already.

Green is everywhere. The question is where do you want to be? Do you want to be one of EPA’s world-class scientists or a high school science teacher? Do you want to be in the public or private sector? Regardless of where you want to be and what you want to do, we can all chip in and improve the environment.

Growing up in New Hampshire, a state which makes the environment one of its top priorities, and having worked on environmental issues in my previous job, I gradually learned what steps people could take to preserve the environment. Those experiences translated into a growing interest in this whole “green” rage and, now, here I am at EPA.

Cleanup crew member with an abandoned tire and a dead fish.In the spirit of Earth Week (April 20-26) and National Volunteer Week (April 27-May 3), it is important to understand that we can all “catch the green wave” – and it doesn’t take much of an effort. My office, EPA’s Office of Public Affairs, tackled a project on Friday, April 25, at the Boathouse at Fletcher’s Cove along the C&O Canal in Georgetown. In coordination with the C&O Canal Trust, we removed tons of trash and debris (i.e. massive logs) to help clean up the park area. We returned home with scrapes and pulled back muscles, but we accomplished a lot and, hopefully, we made a difference.

If we all do our part, we can change the world and do something good for the environment. Whether it involves moving heavy debris or picking up trash like we did, I encourage everyone to grab a board and hop on the green wave. There are countless environmental volunteers out there who are riding this wave and making a difference in our lives, so we should take a moment to thank them and think about becoming volunteers ourselves.

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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