|Go Green...$ave Green
Celebrate an Earth-Friendly Holiday
Halloween has come and gone, and we all know what that means: the holiday season is now upon us! Unfortunately, in our modern society, the myriad delights of the season - good times spent with friends and family, Christmas carols, delicious treats, and so on - come with a price.
Wouldn't this time of year be so much more enjoyable without the stress and hassle, not to mention the time and money spent on well-intentioned, yet often unwanted or unneeded gifts? According to the National Retail Federation, nearly ¼ of annual retail sales occur during the holiday season. That's a lot of hard-earned cash, loads of unwanted sweaters, and of course, a whole heap of packaging and wrapping paper. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, Americans generate 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year's than during the entire rest of the year.
If you're tired of the holiday rat-race, talk to your family and friends about celebrating an Earth-Friendly Holiday. Everyone involved will save money and time, avoid the throngs of holiday shoppers, and still experience the true spirit of season - one of giving and receiving, but in a much more relaxed and thoughtful manner.
Ideas for an Earth-Friendly Holiday include:
- Instead of exchanging gifts with everyone in the family, adopt a new tradition such as picking Secret Santas or enjoying a white-elephant gift exchange
- Give waste-free gifts that are sure to please, such as...
Give it a spin, and see what everyone thinks. Chances are, any reservations will be put to rest when those credit card statements begin arriving in the New Year!
To Warm-Up or Not to Warm-Up?
Around this time of year, especially if you live in a cold climate, you might be inclined to let your car idle for a while before driving it on a cold day.
As it turns out, extended warm-ups do more harm than good: not only is fuel burned less efficiently, but idling at low temperatures is actually hard on engine components. It's better to drive easy and watch your acceleration until your engine warms up.
Thoughts on the topic from Click and Clack of NPR's Car Talk:
"Unless it's below freezing, cars don't need to be warmed up at all. Driving them gently is the best warm up there is. If it's 25 degrees out, you might want to let it warm up for 30 seconds. If it's 10 degrees out, warm it up for a minute. If it's -10 degrees out, move somewhere warmer!"
Remember, fuel economy while idling is 0 mpg. The fuel you burn takes you nowhere. So save fuel, money and time, reduce emissions and protect your engine by avoiding all unnecessary idling, including the daily warm-up.
|Green Country, EUROPE
Swedes Put Carbon Label on Food to Combat Climate Change
In order to inform the public of the carbon dioxide emissions associated with the production of various foods, grocery stores and restaurants across Sweden recently began using new dietary guidelines that give as much weight to climate as they do health.
The new carbon labeling program is the result of a 2005 study by Sweden's national environmental agency
that found that 25 percent of national per capita greenhouse gas
emissions is attributable to food.
To arrive at values for these carbon labels, scientists analyze the carbon emissions over the entire life cycle of the product. This is no easy task, as such an analysis must take into account all aspects of food production, including the type of soil used to grow the food, emissions generated by fertilizer, fuel used for harvesting and transport, and packaging.
Following these new guidelines, which include limiting red meat consumption, may not always be easy. However, concerned consumers should be encouraged by the prediction that Sweden could cut its food production-related emissions by an estimated 20 to 50 percent if the guidelines are taken seriously by Swedish shoppers.
For the full story, read the recent article in the New York Times.
Community Fruit HarvestFor more information about Food Forward, visit www.foodforward.org.
Do you have one or more fruit trees on your property that produces more fruit than you could ever possibly eat or give away to friends and neighbors? Instead of letting it go to waste, why not harvest it and donate it to a local food pantry?
Because food production takes a significant toll on the environment, such an act of kindness not only helps to feed the hungry, it benefits the environment as well. According to the Union of Concerned Citizens, as a percentage of total
consumer impact, food production is responsible for roughly:
- 73% of water use
- 45% of land use
- 38% of common water pollution
- 22% of toxic water pollution
- 17% common air pollution
- 12% of greenhouse gas emissions
In other words, wasted
food equals wasted and unnecessarily polluted natural resources.
If donating the harvest from your fruit tree(s) sounds like a good idea, but you don't have the time, energy or
bucket capacity required to do it yourself, there just might be a group
in your area that will pick and transport your fruit for you. In Los Angeles, for example, there is a wonderful all-volunteer grassroots group called Food Forward
that, when invited, organizes volunteers to pick excess fruit and then donate it all to local food pantries. You provide the tree(s); they do everything else.
To find groups like Food Forward in your area, contact some local food banks and ask if they receive food donations from such a group. Feeding America features a handy Food Bank Locator tool at www.feedingamerica.org
TckTckTck...Sign on to Support a Climate Deal Today!
In less than one month's time, on December 7, 2009, global leaders will meet in Copenhagen to forge a global climate deal. Tell these leaders that you want a climate deal that is ambitious, fair and binding.
Add your name to the list of nearly 3 million Global Citizens for Climate Action who have already signed on at www.tcktcktck.org. Join them in sending a message to world leaders that we are ready for serious action on climate change!
The clock is ticking! Join the movement, and invite your friends and family to do the same at www.tcktcktck.org.
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If so, we would love to come and give a presentation or two for your group! We give presentations on specific issues, such as transportation, food and household toxics, and we also offer a general overview of sustainable living.
Visit www.teachinggreen.org to learn more and to request a presentation.
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