Posts filed under ‘Energy’
Earth Day may be over, but Waukesha County continues to provide environmental education programs all year long!
On May 8th, the Waukesha County Water Conservation Coalition is hosting it’s 1st Annual Water and Energy Efficiency Expo at the Waukesha County Exposition Center.
With exhibits, demos, stages and the kids zone, there is plenty of fun and education available for the whole family!
Radio Disney will even be hand doing their fun Backyard Show for kids of all ages!
At 10:00 am, keynote speaker Melinda Myers will be presenting on green gardening for Earth friendly techniques that are cost effective and time saving. She will also be available after speaking to meet and greet and sign copies of her book!
For more information, visit www.wisconsinwaterwise.org/
Hope to see you there!
Mercury can be a grave environmental and health problem. On May 1, 1956, Minamata disease was discovered in Japan. This neurological disease is caused by severe mercury poisoning.
To reduce mercury’s impact on our environment:
- Reduce. Replace mercury thermometers & thermostats with non-mercury items.
- Recycle. When you do have an item with Mercury it is considered Hazardous Waste; recycle it responsibly. CFLs can be taken to many area hardware stores for recycling. Other items can be brought to a Waukesha County Household Hazardous Waste facility.
- Reduce Your Energy Use. One way that methylmercury gets into our environment is through burning coal for energy. By saving energy (turning off your lights, weatherizing your home, and recycling), you reduce the amount of coal burned.
This video follows 2 students through their day to show ways that we can all save energy and reduce trash.
There has been so much going on in my busy little social life lately! I wanted to share some updates on what has been going on as well as promo a few events coming up. mK – here we go!
Ice Skating at the Petit Ice Center
What a fun event! It was great meeting so many people and getting a little time brush up on my ice skating skills as well!
Electronics Scrap Collection in Milwaukee
This event was very successful, collecting over 236,000 lbs. of electronic waste. Did you miss the event? Here are a couple of resources:
- Residents of Waukesha County can recycle their computers, free of charge, at several county collection sites. Visit Waukesha County’s website for more info.
- TV’s with screens less than 32″ can be taken to Best Buy. Recycling is free with the purchase of a $10 gift card. TV’s with screens over 32″ will need to be disposed of in other ways. If you are purchasing a replacement TV, the best option is to negotiate disposal of the old TV as a condition of the sale. Other options are available on our website.
- Cell phones can usually be recycled by the same stores that sell cell phones. (whew! say that 10 times fast!) Other local organizations, like The Women’s Center in Waukesha will also take them for donation.
- Want to do more? Currently there is pending legislation in Wisconsin that deals with electronics disposal. Learn more about the law and be sure to let your legislators know how you feel!
Lake Country Community Fest
Lake Country Community Fest was wonderful! It was so much fun to take so many pictures with everyone. It seemed like we talked to a million people and answered a lot of questions. We also gave away over 100 blue bins for curbside recycling. Did you miss us? There are a lot of local events coming up where you can get a blue curbside bin for free if you are in our program.
Did you participate? I beat the hubby in backgammon & scrabble. Now that’s what I call time well spent! For some fabulous pictures on how some major cities and monuments looked, click on the picture below.
Playing Soccer with the Milwaukee Wave
An After School Event is being held THIS THURSDAY, April 2nd, at the Waukesha Expo Center. Join us for a lot of fun from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
MRF Open House on Saturday, April 18th from 10 a.m. to Noon.
Oconomowoc Library will be hosting Recycle Raccoon at selected story hours the week of April 20th. More information is available at their website.
Greener Oconomowoc will be hosting it’s 2009 Resource Fair on April 25th. Visit their website to learn more.
Various programs are being presented through Waukesha city’s Park & Rec. Visit their website to learn more about the new ‘green’ programs.
Boy Scout Merit Badge Sessions will be available this summer for the Gardening Merit Badge & the Environmental Science Merit Badge. Stay tuned to the Boy Scout’s website for more information.
Sally Ride Education Program for Teachers and Waukesha County will be providing a training session for teachers this summer at the Waukehsa North Session. Specifically for 3rd – 8th grade teachers, participants will learn how to integrate natural resources into your curriculum in this fun week-long session that gets you out of the classroom and deep into learning! Scholarship opportunities are available for those who teach in Waukesha County.
While there is a lot of press release gold around this event, the larger goal should be to identify little changes in our everyday lives to save energy. There is a possible involvement of 1 billion people in this years Earth Hour. While it is great that all of these people are going to shut off their lights for an hour, think of the impact if these people also made easy changes to ‘go green’ for the every hour, not just Earth Hour. Little actions could include:
- Getting a reusable mug. The average American uses 100 Styrofoam cups a year. If everyone involved in Earth Hour got a reusable mug, 100,000,000,000 Styrofoam cups would not be used this year.
- Getting a reusable bag. For every reusable bag in use, 288 disposable bags would not be used per year. If everyone involved in Earth Hour used 1 reusable bag, 288,000,000,000 plastic bags would not be used this year.
- Getting a lunchbox. The average school child creates 67 lbs. of trash and food waste per school year. This comes from too-large portions as well as disposable bags and single serve items. If everyone involved in Earth Hour committed to eating what they pack for lunch and packing it in reusable containers, 33,500,000 tons of waste.
- Recycling an aluminum can. Recycling a single aluminum can saves enough energy to light up a regular lightbulb for 4 hours. If everyone that participated in Earth Hour recycled 1 aluminum can, we could light up a light bulb for 456,621 years. In other words, we could light up every lightbulb in every residence in America for almost 2 hours.
- Unplugging appliances not in use. When an appliance is plugged in, even if it is not turned on, it is still using energy. Is your phone charger plugged in right now? What about your coffee pot? These items use ‘phantom energy’ which accounts for up to 5% of your total energy bill. Unplug items not in use or get a power strip that can easily be unplugged when items are not in use.
- Eating 1 local meal a week. The average meal travels 1500 miles. In other words, one meal eaten by every Earth Hour participant travels around the globe 60,236,125 times. By eating one local meal a week, we can save a lot of energy as well as support our local economies. (and eating locally doesn’t necessarily mean eating at a local restaurant!)
While there are some that think Earth Hour is not a good idea because it gives the wrong impression that we need to all sit in the dark to save the planet and others participate just to spite different organizations, I think its a good chance to reassess how much we depend on all of our electronic gizmos and look forward game of scrabble while drinking out of my reusable mug and eating a locally grown salad.
Are you participating in Earth Hour? What do you plan to do?
Except that at current landfill rates, that means just throwing the trash in the landfill cost $4000. That does not count transporting it to the landfill. Then the price rises to over $8000. But who picks up the trash? Volunteers? This is probably the biggest cost…
With one of my New Years Resolutions being to reduce the amount of trash I make, it is lucky I ended up not going to Times Square for New Years Eve! My resolution would have been over before the year had begun. According to EarthFirst, 40 tons of trash were created by the one night event. There was a lot of buzz about the ball that was dropped being ‘green’, but clearly there is a lot more to do for a green event. Thinking about waste reduction not only would make the event cheaper (both because you would be buying less stuff and because you wouldn’t need to pay 163 workers over 8 hours to pick it all up)
By the city’s own admission, it makes way more (economic & environmental) sense for the city to recycle. Since I wasn’t there I don’t know if there was any special recycling receptacles set up for the event, but every other time I have been to the square, it has been difficult for me to find receptacles. Though less confetti was used this year, what about using confetti made from recycled paper and then composting it? Then the compost could be used in city parks to save on pesticide use the following year. (At least I think I have heard that NYC has a few parks, one quite centrally located…)
I totally get that Times Square is insane on New Years Eve. But that is the exact reason it is important for the Times Square Alliance to focus on waste reduction, reusing, and recycling the materials they use at their annual celebration. The 5 R’s allow every attendee at the event participate in sustainable behavior. Waste reduction is not as much the ‘it’ thing compared to talking about LEDs, but it is getting at the same issue: saving natural resources and saving money.
For more information about thinking a little about waste reduction, reusing, and recycling at your next event, visit the EPA recognized plan by Be SMART (Save Money and Reduce Trash). If your event is in Waukesha County, you may borrow free recycling containers by contacting our office via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or via phone at (262)896-8300.
With this year almost done, a party conversation this past weekend turned towards 2009. Everyone seems to have a goal or a New Year’s resolution in mind. They ranged from the typical (loose weight) to the absurd (not eat jelly beans). One person in the group said their goal was to ‘go green’, but wasn’t really sure where to start. This (obviously) got me thinking. The first step for any change is assessment. When I was teaching, there was always some sort of a pre-test before a new unit. When you decide to loose weight, the first step is to get on a scale to see from what point you are starting. The best way anyone can get an overall impression of their overall ‘green-ness’ is by taking a look at ones carbon footprint. C’mon – all the kids are doing it!
There are a wide variety of sites that provide this sort of quiz. Depending on the data used, the assumptions of the quiz, and the detail of the information that one is expected to input, results will vary. However, I don’t recommend using these quizzes as an exact measure of your carbon output, but rather as an overall ‘check-up’ of your lifestyle. If you are looking to live a greener life, these quizzes can provide you with a good place to start.
When I looked at a wide variety of the quizzes online I tried to find ones that were broad in scope (not just a 3 question quiz about your driving habits) and allowed a higher degree of information input. (Do you drive an SUV or a hybrid?) Here is a selection of some of the quizzes I found.
These sites give you your footprint in tons of CO2 emitted:
- CarbonFootprint.com. This calculator allows you to put in your state information. This site is also really precise with air travel. Food and purchasing habits are not as precise. Your final footprint is compared to both the average footprint for the country as well as the target footprint for the world. The quiz is from a private company that has also created a quiz for businesses.
- The Nature Conservancy. This calculator takes into account some things like tire maintenance and composting. However, my footprint came out unusually high because of the lack of specificity in the ‘home energy’ area.
These sites give you your footprint in reference to how many hectares (or Earths) you are using.
- FootprintNetwork.org. I really like this quiz. There is a fast option that gives you an overview of your footprint as well as an option that goes into more detail if you have time. It covers all the major areas quite well. The final breakdown shows how many earths needed to supply your lifestyle, the tons of CO2 emitted, as well as a breakdown of what type of activity creates the most CO2.
- EarthLab.com. This site allows you to put in your zip code and is selectively specific. The make and model of your car can be imputed to use information from the manufacturer. For energy usage, you can enter the amount that you spend each month on a variety of fuel sources. Answers are provided in tons of CO2 as well as an Earth Conservation Plan score which you can track over time.
- Redefining Progress. I really like this quiz as well. The results are only given in hectares, which are broken down by biome type. There are also tips as you take the quiz to help you lower your energy consumption. Some bigger assumptions are made by the quiz, however, so the results came back a little skewed compared to the other quizzes I took.
- EatLowCarbon.org. If you are interested in the specific impact your diet has on your carbon footprint, this is the site for you. Each type of food is given a point value that relates to carbon output.
- TheGreenOffice.com. This site as well as CarbonFootprint.com allow you to take a quiz for your office.
See how your country stacks up. I love this website that compares the emissions of the countries of the world in a very visual way. It also shows birth and death rates for different countries. I am always amazed at how countries of similar lifestyle have such fewer emissions.
Begin to take actions to reduce your footprint. A good place to start is with the five R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle, rot, and rebuy. Other sites provide you with a plethora of other suggestions. For example, StopGlobalWarming.org suggests many changes and then shows how those changes affect your carbon output while Greener-Good.com provides daily challenges.
How have you lowered your footprint? Do you have a favorite site I missed? I’d love to hear about it!
Picture Credit: http://mrhartansscienceclass.wordpress.com/
Oh the weather outside is frightful! Bundle up if you are in Wisconsin today. Weather like this makes me very glad that the hubby and I have decided to host a get together for friends for the holidays because then we get to see everyone without having to leave our apartment! Although many of the same waste reduction tips apply from our Thanksgiving get-together, when entertaining friends, there are a few extra tips.
Setting the mood
- Decorate with either a fake tree that you can reuse year after year or get a tree that you can keep in a pot and plant in the spring. If you need that ‘tree’ smell, decorate with boughs on the mantle or a real wreath. People with lots of land sometimes grow their own trees on their back lot line, constantly replacing an old tree with a new one.
- Make your own ornaments out of edible holiday cookies, old holiday cards, strings of popcorn, items collected on a vacation (like sea shells). Reuse these ornaments year after year instead of buying new ones every year.
- Use an old skirt, table cloth, or formal dress to make a tree skirt, mantle scarf, or table runner. My wedding dress worked out quite nicely for a tree skirt.
- Pull out the recycling bin and the garbage can. Place them right next to each other so that people know where both are. If you have a lot of out-of-towners that don’t know what gets recycled in Waukesha County, consider making a quick list and taping it above the can.
- Decorate to minimize electricity use. Opt for LED lights. Put everything on a timer. Consider only turning your holiday lights on for a few hours a night when they are most likely to be enjoyed rather than all night long.
Getting the Gang
- Invite people via phone calls or electronically to save holiday card waste. One year’s worth of America’s holiday cards would fill a football field 10 stories high so reduce the amount you send. If you must send traditional invitations or holiday cards, consider reusing decorative papers to make your own or purchase cards made from recycled content.
- When you receive holiday cards, think of creative ways to reuse them. They make great gift tags, decorative ornaments, framed decor, place cards, etc. If you can’t reuse them, make sure they are recycled.
- Suggest people carpool. Enable this by putting together a shared document on-line for people to share where they are coming from. We have 2 sets of friends coming from Milwaukee, 3 sets from Madison, a few from Janesville (you get the idea) so it is easy to suggest that they consider carpooling. It also helps in our case that everyone has met before. Carpooling also helps us out because there is not a lot of room for parking at our apartment so the fewer cars the better!
- Turn down the heat before people arrive, lots of bodies will heat the place up in a hurry!
- Purchase locally made eggnog and other drinks.
- Consider asking everyone to bake some cookies for a cookie exchange rather than purchasing a lot of heavily packaged foods. Have everyone bring a reusable container for some left overs (if there are any!)
- Opt for items purchased en-bulk. There is a lot less waste generated by serving soda from a 2L bottle than from individual cans.
- Have a gift exchange rather than having everyone get gifts individually. Playing a game to exchange gifts is one of the highlights of our party.
- Opt for reusables rather than disposables such as cups, plates, napkins, etc. When the party is over be sure to wash items using the least amount of water necessary by using an energy efficient dishwasher that is completely full.
Have I missed anything? I would love to hear your ideas.
What do you do with an old fire extinguisher? I got this call today from a resident that was completing his annual safety check and needed to dispose of a non-working extinguisher.
Option 1: Reuse See if you can have your extinguisher refilled by looking up local company that deals with fire extinguishers. If you plan on purchasing a new extinguisher, make sure they will take in your old one as a condition of your purchase.
Option 2: Recycle The same companies mentioned above also may accept full fire extinguishers for a nominal fee or for free. Otherwise, the city of Waukesha’s fire department recommends emptying the contents of the fire extinguisher outdoors in a safe environment. You can then remove the top and recycle it as normal scrap metal, by taking it to a local scrap metal dealer or to a drop off location throughout the county.
Fire extinguishers are usually made of steel. Recycling steel is very important because of the economic and environmental affects.
· The energy saved each year by steel recycling is equal to the electrical power used annually by 18 million homes, or enough energy to last LA 8 years (Steel Recycling Institute 2003)
· Every ton of recycled steel conserves 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone. (Steel Recycling Institute 2003)