Lent

SpringIts that time of year again! For those of you who are still trying to think of something to give up for Lent or for those looking to try to make a change for the next month or so I have some ideas for you. Although I am not Catholic or part of a religion that practices Lent, I always like to take advantage of this time of year as it allows me to walk in the shoes of those who have to go without some of the things we are so dependent on ( aka the things we usually give up for Lent). I know that we should practice this year round but that is not always easy to to do and with everyone else doing it at this time of year, you have the benefit of having support from your friends and peers.

Every year, I hear people struggle coming up with ideas of what they want to give up. Why not give up something that will benefit others instead of just giving up facebook, pop, or sweets?

Need some examples? Here are some great ones 🙂

Give up meat or all animal products- Estimates show that the average vegan saves up to 100 animals per year! If you chose to omit meat and dairy from your diet for a little over a month, that means you could be saving about 10 animals just by giving up meat or animal products for 40 days! Please note: if you are considering doing this or already doing it, please be sure to big up some literature on the subject to help ensure that you are getting the nutrients your body needs! Although salads may taste good, you can’t live off of those alone for 40 days!

I suggest renting some cookbooks from the library! There are also a lot of fab non-fiction books that give great tips on how to eat healthy without meat or dairy in your life.

Give up using plastic- When going to a grocery store, bring your own reusable bag. Carry around your own water bottle so you do not have to use plastic bottles or paper cups. When packing a lunch, use a reusable container instead of a snack bag.. you get the idea 😉

Stop eating or using palm oil- Ladies and Gent’s check those ingredients.. if they say palm oil  don’t use them for a whole 40 days! ( FYI palm oil is also in a lot of soaps, lotions, and different kinds of makeup) Hard to do? Just look at this little guys face…

Does that help ? 🙂 Good because you’ll be saving them!

Already give up something for Lent?

Here are some fun twists you can add to what your already doing:

Gave up Coffee? Instead, give up using plastic and stryofoam cups to drink it out of. This will force you to have a cup with you in order to get coffee. Chances are you will forget and not only will you not be able to have coffee.. you will be saving the planet too 🙂

Gave up Candy? Allow yourself to only eat vegan candy. This will make you pay closer attention to the ingredients and may steer you away from most candies that are on the market. PETA has a list of different candies that have no animal products in them.

Gave up sugar? Allow yourself to keep eating sweets but make a stipulation that it has to be made from natural sugar alternatives. Terra wrote an awesome post on this a couple weeks ago!

Gave up pop/soda?- Instead of giving up soda pop, tell yourself that for every soda you drink, you have to recycle the bottle or can. If it is a pain for you to find a way to do that.. you won’t drink it.

Anyone else have some great green lent ideas or fun twists that you can put on your current one? I would love to hear 🙂

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Home Depot will recycle your CFLs

Home Depot announced that all of their stores will have a collection point for compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). This is great news for those of us who have made the switch to CFLs to cut down on our carbon output, and our electric bills!

CFLs contain a small bit of mercury, which poses a problem when the bulbs are improperly disposed of.

Home Depot will accept any maker’s bulbs, no matter where you bought them. There are plans in place for other recycling systems for CFLs, but this convenient option offers a consistent drop off point and removes the burden from the consumer to find another solution. (75% of the nation’s homes are within 10 miles of a Home Depot – yikes!)

So, take your used CFLs to Home Depot when they burn out (in about 7 years) so they can be recycled.

Aeros Recycle

The Akron Aeros are encouraging fans to recycle this season! You can recycle aluminum cans and plastic bottles at the Canal Park Stadium, in partnership with Summit Akron Solid Waste Management Authority (SASWMA), the city of Akron and the Portage County Solid Waste Management District.

Many sports teams are taking the lead on reducing our impact on the planet. Stadiums across the country have added solar panels to provide power to themselves and the surrounding community.

Next time you’re at a game, check out what efforts have been taken to be environmentally responsible.

Recycle your Shoes

I know Crocs aren’t the cutest things, but they are so comfortable.

When your crocs are worn out, you can recycle them through Soles United. Your Crocs will be melted down and made into new shoes which get sent to places around the world where people can’t afford shoes.

Nike also has a shoe recycling program called “Let Me Play: Reuse-A-Shoe.” Worn out shoes – any brand! – are processed and made into playing fields, courts, tracks, and playgrounds.

Since the birth of Reuse-A-Shoe, we’ve recycled more than 20 million pairs of athletic shoes and created more than 250 sport surfaces; giving thousands of young people access to new playgrounds and athletic facilities around the world.

UA Earth Day, pt. 3

As I looked at my pictures, I realized I left some stuff out…

Congratulations to the Honors Complex for winning the aluminum can recycling contest. They were rewarded with a traveling trophy and an Earth flag. The three representatives took off to tour campus with their Earth Day pride!

Live Art

IMG_9617After DJ Zachariah, Rachel Roberts played acoustic guitar, while Ursula Rauh painted a picture along with the music. It was beautiful art by two wonderful artists, and certainly highlighted the solar stage for the afternoon.

The solar stage was powered by the sun! Dovetail Solar and Wind set up a solar trailer and propped up the panels to take full advantage of the sun’s plentiful energy. They also brought a wind turbine for display. Dovetail has several projects across Ohio. “Green” jobs are American jobs – you can’t outsource solar panel installation. This is yet another great reason for the U.S. to get moving towards renewable energy.

I rode a Segway!

The UA campus police ride Segways around campus. They’re quick, and run on electricity. The wildest part is that they read your mind! If you think “go forward,” it goes forward. If you think “stop,” it stops! A noted skeptic, I had to try it, and it was true! How does it do that? Well, when humans think “forward,” we lean a little bit forward. The Segway takes advantage of that natural occurrance and motors us forward. It seems more practical for campuses, airports, etc. Not so practical for the average consumer, in my opinion. It was really fascinating, but I can’t see myself ever owning one.

Bikes

UA is trying to become a more bike-friendly campus. Students can look forward to more bike racks, and a bikers map of campus. The city of Akron is helping by also installing bike racks. It’s a hilly campus, but bikes are a great way to get around. There is a serious parking problem on campus that would be helped if students who live a mile or two away would ride a bike instead of driving to campus and parking in a parking garage for the week.

Funding

This year’s Earth Day event was funded by Environmental Akron, a student club, and through the sale of salvaged metals. As the university is expanding and building, some buildings are being torn down. Fortunately, the Director of Materials Handling had the foresight to go into the buildings and salvage as many usable materials as he could. He and his team salvaged a lot of metal and other usable goods such as office furniture and equipment. The salvaged metal brought in enough money to pay for Earth Day, with much to spare. Good job Mike!

Ok, that’s all. Looking forward to next year…

UA Earth Day Wrap Up, pt. 2

Keynote Speaker and “The Digital Dump”

I would love to highlight all the participants. One in particular was the keynote speaker. Dag Adamson came to Akron from Colorado, where he is the president of Lifespan Recycling. Lifespan Recycling handles technology recycling. Most products we buy come with planned obsolescence. Computer companies don’t build computers that will last 10 years, because they’d only get your money every 10 years. That’s not very profitable for them. So, they design computers that will be obsolete within 3-4 years. You can’t just buy a piece to upgrade it – you have to buy a whole new computer. They also don’t provide a way to safely dispose of computers. What has happened is that some people or organizations like the IRS and many universities send their computers to be “recycled.” What they don’t know is that the computers are sent to Africa. A majority of these computers don’t work, and many times, the data has not been erased! Your personal data could be on a computer in Africa.

So, Africa is left to dispose of our computers. Do they have some advanced technological processing center? No, they dump them in a field and when the pile gets too big, they set it on fire. The burning plastic runoff enters local streams and pollutes everything for years to come. It’s sinful! Africans deserve working computers. Computer companies should provide a way to safely dispose of computers. If you missed Dag’s speech, please check the UA Earth Day web page in the next few weeks. We plan to have a podcast of his speech.

If you haven’t seen it, you must see The Digital Dump. Here is a preview. The entire film (22 minutes) is available from The Basel Action Network, an organization dedicated to eliminating toxic trade.

Others

All of the participants were noteworthy. Students saw that there are other options besides the conventional way of doing things. This was Akron’s 2nd Earth Day, and I must say, the alternative energy and other educational booths were really eye-opening. Next year’s event will only be bigger and better!

Part 3 tomorrow…

UA Earth Day Wrap Up

The University of Akron’s Earth Day “Do it now for the enviROOment” was last Wednesday. It was really a fantastic event, and generated a lot of student interest by showing practical renewable energy solutions. There was a wind turbine, 4 cars, a VegiTerranean food demo, bicycles, the Akron Metro RTA, a rain barrel, and so much more. The outside stage was powered by solar panels – Renewable energy in action!

Cars

IMG_9561It was so great to see the students checking out the electric cars. The Myers Motors NmG was featured, along with the Zenn electric car, and a self-converted Honda DelSol. Dr. Ross brought his biodiesel VW Beetle. It’s simply a diesel beetle which he runs on used vegetable oil from VegiTerranean.

I love the NmG from Myers Motors. It’s a one-person car, which is so practical. We all drive 5 person cars, but we only have 1 person in it for a majority of the time. Why not drive a 1 person car? And then have another car for family trips. Technology usually innovates to match our lifestyles, but continuing to make 5 person (or more) cars is one area where innovation has fallen away. It would make sense for each family to have a 1 person car, and a family car. Myers is currently working on new battery technology to make it run longer. They would also like to make a 2 person car.

I’ve never seen the Zenn electric car before. North Central Zenn brought their electric car. It was awesome! At $17,000, it’s the same price is a regular new car. The one displayed had a cloth roll-top. It seats 2 (very practical), and is designed for city driving. (The Zenn is pictured)

IMG_9619I loved the biodiesel VW Beetle. By using vegetable oil, he can operate his car cost-free. He simply separates particles from the oil and pours the pure oil into his car. Diesel engines were meant to run on vegetable oil, so this solution is so efficient. It’s a pure reuse. Instead of using ethanol, which comes from harvested plants, biodiesel reuses oil that normally would have to be processed.

Part 2 tomorrow…

Guest Post: Environmentally Friendly Skies

Thanks to my husband for writing today’s post. I like to see the environmentally responsible activities in each city I travel to, so I asked him to make some observations while he visited Austin, TX.

While attending a conference in Austin, I was employed by my wife via cellphone. She asked me to uncover any “green” activity in environmentally friendly Austin.

solarDuring my short stay, I found myself preoccupied, unable to investigate much of anything. I knew my mission, but I was always a bit overwhelmed by the conference agenda, being pulled here and there, through talks and discussions. My wife’s request tapped me on the shoulder during the short breaks, and when the moments for “green” investigation presented itself, it seemed as though I was never in the right place. My only real find was on a drive down the interstate when we quickly passed a field of solar panels.

In the end, however, the destination to Austin didn’t provide the most interesting find. Rather, the Continental flight to Austin did. Now, I know there’s all this bashing of airlines and the canceling of flights ‘n all, but Continental really was the bright “green” find I was trying to locate. When the flight attendant shuffled her way down the miniature isle to bag all the trash, she made sure to place our plastic trays in a separate hand to ensure their recycled future. She even insisted that a colleague of mine hang on to the empty can of soda until the she could make her way back through with the recycling bag specifically for cans.

Wow. Impressive. Plastic and aluminum recycling. And so adamant about it. Such commitment definitely made a lasting impression on me. Sorry Austin, Continental wins this round.

USPS offers Free Recycling through the mail

The USPS is offering free shipping of small electronics. Consumers can pick up a mailing envelope at one of 1,500 post offices and mail their electronics to Clover Technologies Group, who is paying for the postage, and who will recycle or refurbish the electronics into reusable materials. The stuff that can’t be refurbished will be broken down so that as many parts as possible can be reused.

Clover Technologies Group has a “zero waste to landfill” policy: it does everything it can to avoid contributing any materials to the nation’s landfills.

Clover Technologies Group won the bid for this recycling program, based on it’s commitment to the environment.

The Post Office is environmentally responsible, and their actions have “generated more than $7.5 million in savings through recycling and waste prevention programs.”

The Postal Service recycles 1 million tons of paper, plastic and other materials annually.

USPS is the only shipping or mailing company in the nation to receive Cradle to CradleSM Certification from MBDC (McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry) for human and environmental health. More than half a billion packages and envelopes provided by the Postal Service annually are nearly 100 percent recyclable and are produced with the least harmful materials. Based on the recycled content of these envelopes and packages, more than 15,000 metric tons of carbon equivalent emissions (climate change gases) now are prevented annually.

So, when your cell phone breaks or your PDA quits, head to the post office to send it back to be reused. It’s free for you, and saves a lot of waste!