How to Save Gas by Driving More Efficiently

fuel efficient drivingReducing the energy consumption of personal transportation has long been a consideration of the responsible consumer. In these days of ever higher fuel prices it has become a serious economic concern too. Here are some of my favorite energy-saving tips.

Stop driving. Well, not completely, of course. But consider car-pooling if you and a friend have the same destination and close schedules. Ensure when you go, say, grocery shopping, you pick up everything you need for the week, and stop at all the shops in one trip. And when the weather’s right and your destination is not too far — get out your bicycle!


microFIT – Ontario Power Authority’s renewable electricity generation project

Constructing Solar GeneratorHomeowners in the province of Ontario, Canada, are being given the opportunity to join the microFIT program of the Ontario Power Authority.

Under microFIT, owners of small (10 KW or less)  renewable-source electrical generators will be paid for the electricity they produce and deliver to the province’s electricity grid.

While many other electric utility companies offer similar plans, microFIT is the first we’ve heard of where the utility writes a contract guaranteeing a price over a 20-year term (40 years for waterpower projects), with the price being designed to cover the costs of the project and provide a reasonable rate of return on the homeowner’s investment over the term of the contract. Other utilities offer “net metering” plans, which may or may not adequately recover the costs of the generator project.

The microFIT program covers generators powered solar photovoltaic (PV), wind, water and bio-energy.

Read more at the Ontario Power Authority web site.

Urban Bees Cultivated in NYC

Bees in New York City

Bees and their beekeepers atop the Waldorf Astoria in NYC (photo: AP)

A quarter of a million bees are being cultivated on top of the swanky Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City as a away of making the city more sustainable.

Bee populations have been on the decline. The bees are needed to pollinate flowering trees within a 3-mile radius of the hotel.

These hives are part of New York City’s green initiative, PlaNYC, which is hoping to plant 1,000,000 trees in the next 10 years.


Watch Phillipe Cousteau on CNN to Connect with Environmental Issues

Phillipe Cousteau, grandson of legendary global environmental activist Jacques Cousteau, is teaching a new generation about current environmental issues as host of CNN’s Going Green series.

“As a special correspondent reporting on environmental and humanitarian issues around the world, I work on compelling stories that meld advocacy, amazing adventure television and new media to engage people across the globe in positive change.” Cousteau travels to the Arctic Circle to explore climate change. He explores the island of Sumatra in Indonesia to showcase “30 Hills,” which is subject to wanton deforestation.

As the co-founder and president EarthEcho International, Phillipe Cousteau engages and empowers young people  to take action for a brighter future. He uses education, balanced advocacy and a commitment to action.


How to Reduce Waste by Composting Kitchen Scraps and Yard Waste

Did you know that 18% of the waste produced by a typical American family comes from the yard and garden? And 23% of all solid waste in this country could be composted. What a waste!

Reduce waste in your household by composting. If you have a little space on your property, you can start a compost pile, build a simple composter, or buy a composter. Situate the compost pile a short distance from the house if possible.

The added bonus is that composters produce humus, which is a rich black substance that enriches soil. It is not edible by humans, but plants grow strong when humus is added to the soil.


Target Gives Away Reusable Bags on Earth Day

Target Earth Day BagTarget stores will celebrate Earth Day 2012 by giving away 1.5 million resusable bags to their customers on April 22.

In addition to the bag giveaway, Target has provided a limited-life web page, that lists (and has coupons for)  some products that they consider appropriate for Earth Day — but we’re not sure about the bottled water!

You can read Target’s announcement here.

Here’s  another downside to disposable plastic bags. Do you, like me, anticipate the coming of Spring by looking for signs of green in the treetops? If so, no doubt you noticed the off-white remnants of plastic, streaming from almost every tree beside a highway.

Maharishi University of Management To Open Sustainable Living Center

New Sustainability Building at Maharishi University of ManagementMaharishi University of Management will soon open its new Sustainable Living Center on its campus in Fairfield, IA.

According to David Fisher, head of MUM’s sustainable living department,  this will be “the most ambitious environmental building ever undertaken . . . the only one I know of to combine extensive use of daylighting, whole-tree beams, several different certifications, and planned off-the-grid features.”

The center will be built using a combination of sustainable features and certified standards such as LEED, and will be constructed according to Maharishi Vedic(SM) architecture.

With solar panels, wind turbine, geothermal installation, and passive energy features, the expectation is that this will be a net-zero energy building. And the plan for the future is to take the building off the grid completely, for electricity, heating/cooling, water, and waste.

The new center is expected to be open by April 18, 2012.


EcoFairfield Sustainability Conference April 20-22

EcoFairfield April conferenceThe annual EcoFair sustainability conference in Fairfield, Iowa has been renamed “EcoFairfield” in order to include all citizens of Fairfield and beyond. Out-of-town guest speakers, guest presenters and attendees will continue to be welcomed April 20-22 — Earth Day Weekend — and the slogan is to “serve, inspire and connect.”

The event is being organized now by students in the Sustainability program at Maharishi University of Management and is sponsored by the City of Fairfield, Fairfield Volunteer Center, Fairfield Public Library, Maharishi University of Management, myLocal Cooperative, and  Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

This year’s event focuses on sharing the knowledge of local experts, the excellence of local vendors and businesses, and local projects that anyone can participate in throughout the year.

The conference includes:

  • community service
  • education about sustainability issues
  • celebrations
  • (more…)

Fracking Protested in NY by Environmental Groups

rock The practice of “fracking” – hydraulically fracturing rock to extract natural gas – has come under fire in New York State. Environmental and health groups swarmed the state Capitol in Albany requesting a legislative ban on fracking. They are concerned that regulation cannot adequately prevent the contamination of water from fracking.

NY State Senator Tony Avella has sponsored a bill to ban hydraulic fracturing. “Fracking is the most important environmental issue this state has faced in the past 100 years,” he said.

Click to read the article in the Wall Street Journal.

Sustainable Living Project at Oregon State University

Oregon State University’s Sustainable Living Project website is packed with information on the whats, whys and hows of living an environmentally responsible life. The selection below is from their page on the concept of sustainability. The site is packed with useful and practical research-based information.

What is Sustainable Living?

Our definition is “A life that is deeply satisfying, fulfilling, and appealing – and at the same time, environmentally responsible.”

To understand what sustainable living is, it helps to understand what it’s not.

First of all, it’s not about living in the woods, eating nuts and berries, and wearing tie-dyed clothes. It’s for mainstream adults – typical Americans (more…)