Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

2012

What better way to create some accountability than by sharing my New Year's Resolutions on my blog! Of course these are the environmentally related ones.

1. Launch Clout Consulting: A social media consultancy for environmentally focused organizations. CHECK :)
2. Learn and Read!
3. Have (first plan) an exciting and productive summer
4. Make a difference.
5. Eat more sustainably.
6. Meet Bill McKibben
Okay, i know that's kind of a random one, but he's seriously my idol. That famous question, if you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be - I would pick McKibben without a doubt. 
7. Blog more and freelance blog for some other sites.
8. Enjoy nature.

Those are some good goals for now. I have some more specific ones like get my hand drier grant proposal approved, etc., but those aren't so much resolutions in my eyes.

I wish everyone a happy and healthy 2012!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Collaboration


When I started my blog, I didn’t really have a sense of direction. I knew I wanted to contribute something to the environmental blogosphere but wasn’t exactly sure where to start or what to focus on. As I wrote random articles and used social media to market my site, a pattern became evident: competition and isolation within the environmental movement rather than an atmosphere of collaboration. 

I encountered many experts at the events I was attending and blogging about, but as one speaker said, there were “silos of information with no conduits connecting them.” In order to make the biggest impact possible, people from all sectors need to be working together – sharing ideas and resources.  Rather than create just another blog among the thousands that focus on “going green,” I wanted to contribute a solution to the discontinuity I was witnessing.  I came up with Experts’ Opinions on Sustainability and asked bloggers from around the world to answer questions on sustainability. Combined we could harness our over 20,000 Twitter followers and multiple sites to really create a discussion. 

I’ve now begun to see a trend towards these uniting sites – The Urban Cnoversion, 2Degrees, EcoDesk, and other sites with multiple contributors.  I hope the environmental movement can continue in this direction to harness the incredible ideas and resources we have as a combined force. Collaboration within the environmental sustainability movement is really my passion and I hope to continue working on projects that help this sector in the coming year. 

Charge for Trash?

Over the weekend I visited my Aunt and Uncle who currently live in Ashfield, Massachusetts and was interested to hear that their town charges residents $2 per bag of garbage at the local landfill. They are not charged for recyclables. The program is meant to increase incentive for recycling, and seems to them to work pretty well.
What do you think? Should citizens be charges for their trash? I've set up This Quora Poll on which we can create a collaborative answer, or comment below!

Eating Animals

www.eatinganimals.com
I'm currently reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. Every single one of my friends who's read it has become a vegetarian, so I thought I'd give it a go. I've been trying to be convinced to become a vegetarian for quite a while now, but find myself quite set in my beliefs that it is natural to be an omnivore. In addition, it is usually more sustainable to be a conscious omnivore than a vegetarian or vegan - take for example soy, which is monocropped on industrial farms usually with large amounts of pesticide and is ravenously consumed by the two groups.
I'm up to page 100, so we'll see if I'm convinced in the last 100 pages of the book.

On the same topic, I seem to be very interested in food sustainability recently (as my Klout meter has also showed), so any suggestions to broaden my knowledge on the topic would be much appreciated :)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Keystone XL Pipeline


There has been quite a bit in the news lately about the Keystone XL Pipeline. From it's flagrant support at the last Republican Debate (they seem to think it's a no brainer to build 3,000 miles of pipes from Canada to Texas...) to Obama's consideration. I was even smart enough to engage in my own debate on the topic with a republican...needless to say we butted heads and didn't make any progress on convincing each other of our respective opinions (I'll qualify this by saying that we were complete strangers and if I'd known him longer and we had each had time to debate for more than 2 minutes, I sorely hope I could have convinced him).

350.org's news letters have been summing up most of the action, thankfully because it's been pretty complicated lately. What's your take on the pipeline? To me it seems like a no brainer NOT to build it! What's the point of 3,000 miles of pipe line across the U.S.? Why in the world would anyone build a pipe across our entire country? Possibly endangering the water supply of the entire nation. And (this is by no means a calculated estimate, but...) I would have to assume that it will take an enormous amount of energy to create this thing - did anyone calculate how that compares to the amount of energy that it will produce in an equivalent time frame? And how safe are these Tar Sands? I've heard news that Canada is now questioning whether it will even let anyone drill them? And, for the most used fact - creating 200,000 jobs. I know that is a significant amount, but still, only a small city's worth. And what if we were to pour all of this money, energy, and labor into a renewable energy - say Solar or Wind? Wouldn't that be great! We could be using an energy source that NEVER runs out and doesn't produce CO2 as it's byproduct, among others. I admit, this has now become a rant. But it's a frustrating topic for me. I really hope it gets tossed in the garbage by sensible President Obama soon!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Motivation of Climate Change Skepticism


The following is my final research paper for my writing seminar on environmental ethics. I really enjoyed researching for and writing this paper and look forward to continuing to learn about this subject. I polled LinkedIn and Quora where you can vote for what you think is the biggest motivation behind climate change skepticism and see many skeptics opinions on this topic. This was a great learning process and I welcome any constructive criticism.



Since the climate change movement began in the 1970s, it has been controversial. It was originally supported by often eccentric “hippies,” then a grass-roots campaign, and is now largely mainstream. However, industrialists and capitalist have always countered it. Despite the scientific community’s collective agreement that climate change is occurring and is also human-induced, there is still a passionate movement of skeptics of various backgrounds that refuse to believe this for a variety of reasons. Prominent environmental advocate Christopher Stone denies that climate change skepticism poses a threat to the environmental movement, claiming, in fact, that the American public is well educated on the topic. He writes with respect to the environmental movement that, “As far as ‘educating’ the public is concerned, apparently the US public is getting the message” (Stone 157). Stone believes that the environmental movement is strong (Stone 141) and concludes, “Thus, while the environmentalists might do well to keep image in mind, I doubt they have an image they need to run away from, or for that matter could run away from…” (Stone 156). In spite of Stone’s opinion, solid quantitative evidence shows that this is not the case. According to a recent poll done by Yale and George Mason Universities in May 2011, only 64% of Americans believe that climate change is occurring, and only 47% believe that it is man-made (Lierowitz). When Anthony Leiserowitz of Yale asked citizens how they thought scientists understood global warming, he received the following response: "Only 13 percent of Americans got the correct answer, which is that in fact about 97 percent of American scientists say that climate change is happening, and about a third of Americans just simply say they don't know” (Leiserowitz). In order effectively refute the challenges put forth by climate change skeptics to the environmental movement, it is necessary to closely analyze their motivations.

 The skeptics’ allegations of environmental alarmism arise from a general mistrust of science and challenge the credibility of the environmental movement. In their book Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming, Hoggan and Littlemore argue that the scientific process is highly misunderstood by the general public and is leveraged by skeptics to create uncertainty (Hoggan and Littlemore). The scientific process is never one hundred percent accurate or certain, and, in addition, scientific statements that have been sufficiently proven are called theories, despite the fact that the everyday implication of this word is a ‘guess’ (Hoggan and Littlemore). As Bill McKibben states in his article, “Climate of Denial”, political and industrial leaders use the uncertainty of science to their advantage,
“Cloud the issue as much as possible so that voters, already none too eager to embrace higher gas prices, would have no real reason to move climate change to the top of their agendas. I mean, if the scientists aren't absolutely certain, well, why not just wait until they get it sorted out?”
Some believe that although humans are changing the planet, environmentalists are over exaggerating reports or data.  Published in 1990, Dead Heat gives an early look at the destruction that is to come. The second chapter, “The End,” eerily predicts a major heat wave for 2006, a prediction that became reality for France at that exact time. Although the authors concede that the scenario is only one of many that could play out, it is haunting to see how much of the information was known over twenty years ago, and how little we have done about it. Allegations of inaccurate evidence harm the environmental movement by creating mistrust and skepticism of the movement’s validity.

 Another significant threat to the sustainability movement is psychology, namely a tendency to believe what we already believe and a resistance to change.  Psychology plays a large role in the way that people think about climate change, their decision-making process, and habits. In his book Why Aren’t We Saving the Planet?: A Psychologist’s Perspective, Geoffrey Beattie explores the motivations behind the belief that climate change is not man-made and people’s everyday attitudes and decisions related to global warming. He presents his experiments on the carbon labeling system that has become more popular in Europe and concludes that, while the labels have significant potential, producers need to carefully consider the format and overall appearance. He also studied reactions to Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth, and found that people “felt more motivated to do something about climate change, more able to do something and less likely to think that they had no control over the climate change process…” (Beattie 241).  All of these statements are related to people’s emotions, and therefore can be studied with psychology. As Chris Mooney states in his article “The Science of Why We Don’t Believe Science,” psychology plays a large role in reasoning:
Reasoning is actually suffused with emotion (or what researchers often call ‘affect’). Not only are the two inseparable, but our positive or negative feelings about people, things, and ideas arise much more rapidly than our conscious thoughts, in a matter of milliseconds—fast enough to detect with an EEG device, but long before we're aware of it…We push threatening information away; we pull friendly information close. We apply fight-or-flight reflexes not only to predators, but to data itself (Mooney).
This leads to a heated debate against environmentalists, who are urgent in their tone. Their passion riles up those of the opposing side, resulting in the overall passion that we see today. As Mark Catoe states in his answer to the Quora question on the passion of the climate change skeptic movement, people are convinced by “motivated reasoning…a brain reflex that inclines us to believe what we already believe – in spite of new information that comes our way” (Catoe, Quora) Since acceptance of climate change is something that conditionally effects one’s entire lifestyle, people have great subconscious incentive to continue with what they already believe. Psychology plays a large role in people’s opinions of the environmental movement and directly motivates them to continue with previous notions of skepticism. Motivated reasoning limits people from opening up to pitfalls in their argument and keeps them closed to new developments. Overall, it can hinder people from forming logical and rational opinions, and this poses a threat to the environmental movement.

The unique American culture of freedom of choice makes the population resistant to behavior change recommendations, threatening the environmental movement. The authors of Dead Heat describe our history with pollution and the evolution of our materialistic economy, recounting the cultural foundations of industries. For example,
“…coal burning took hold in England in the 1600s after the widespread clearing of forests…In America, however, abundant forests provided both pioneer and city dweller with all the wood they needed for decades after others had turned to coal…This sort of excessive energy use still prevails in America today” (Oppenheimer and Boyle).
As McKibben states, “We had the single hardest habit to break, which was thinking of energy as something cheap” (McKibben). In addition to our freedom of choice ideology, the United States is also deeply driven by consumerism. Americans simply do not like being told what to do, especially when it comes to their consumerism.

It is also important to address the economic motivation, which, according to a recent poll taken on LinkedIn, is the biggest motivation behind the skeptic movement (Allan, LinkedIn). Big businesses, with invested interest in unsustainable operations, invest money in convincing the public not to move away from over-consumerist culture.  McKibben proposes that the Kyoto Protocol was not taken seriously by the United States, because big business and lobbyists got in the way of any real potential the U.S. had to act. This is countered by the positive changes the Kyoto Protocol set into motion in Europe. McKibben looks critically at motivations behind industry that keep the U.S. so far behind Europe on climate change issues, looking at motivations behind industry. “But in any given year the payoff for shifting away from fossil fuel is incremental and essentially invisible. The costs, however, are concentrated: If you own a coal mine, an oil well, or an assembly line churning out gas-guzzlers, you have a very strong incentive for making sure no one starts charging you for emitting carbon” (McKibben). Many companies fail to look at bigger picture costs such as health effects and irreparable degradation of the environment and instead only focus on profits for the current quarter.  As Michael Eisner, former CEO of Disney once said, “We have no obligation to make art. We have no obligation to make history. We have no obligation to make a statement. We are here to make money.” Businesses reap monetary benefits from denying climate change and convincing their customers to do the same.
 In recent years, the progress of the environmental movement has been greatly hindered by skeptics.  Only some of these skeptics are motivated by selfish reasons, primarily those with economic incentive. Others are motivated by innocent trains of thought. It is often difficult to reason with them because their beliefs are extremely strong but are rooted in psychological and social patterns that are more covert. “In other words, when we think we're reasoning, we may instead be rationalizing. Or to use an analogy offered by University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt: We may think we're being scientists, but we're actually being lawyers” (Haidt). It is important to analyze the roots of their motivations in order to be able to better reason with them. It is this population that can potentially be convinced and mobilized to help environmentalists save the planet.


Sources Cited
"Why Is the Climate Change Movement so Passionate?" LinkedIn. Ed. Sara B. Allan. LinkedIn, 20 Nov. 2011. Web. 7 Dec. 2011. <http://linkd.in/vxOK4x>.
Beattie, Geoffrey. Why Aren't We Saving the Planet?: A Psychologist's Perspective. London: Routledge, 2010. Print.
Catoe, Mark. "Why Is the Climate Change Denier Movement so Passionate?" Quora. 22 Oct. 2011. Web. 07 Nov. 2011. <http://www.quora.com/Why-is-the-climate-change-denier-movement-so-passionate>.
Eisenberger, Robert, and Linda Shanock. "Rewards, Intrinsic Motivation, and Creativity: A Case Study of Conceptual and Methodological Isolation." Creativity Research Journal. The National Association of Chid Development, Nov. 2003. Web. 7 Dec. 2011. <http://www.kidscoinsproductions.com/Research/Creativity_and_Rewards.pdf>.
Hoggan, James, and Richard D. Littlemore. Climate Cover-up: the Crusade to Deny Global Warming. Vancouver: Greystone, 2009. Print.
Leiserowitz, A., Maibach, E., Roser-Renouf, C., & Smith, N. (2011) Climate change in the American Mind: Americans’ global warming beliefs and attitudes in May 2011. Yale University and George Mason University. New Haven, CT: Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. http://environment.yale.edu/climate/files/ClimateBeliefsMay2011.pdf
Anthony Leiserowitz in Harris, Richard. "Climate Change: Public Skeptical, Scientists Sure : NPR." NPR : National Public Radio : News & Analysis, World, US, Music & Arts : NPR. NPR, 21 June 2011. Web. 07 Nov. 2011. <http://www.npr.org/2011/06/21/137309964/climate-change-public-skeptical-scientists-sure>.
Bill McKibben, Climate of Denial, Mother Jones, May-June 2005.
Monckton of Brenchley, Christopher. 35 Inconvenient Truths: The Errors in Al Gore's Movie. Washington, D.C.: Science and Public Policy Institute, 2007. PDF.
Mooney, Chris. "The Science of Why We Don't Believe Science." Mother Jones. Mother Jones and the Foundation for National Progress, May-June 2011. Web. 12 Nov. 2011. <http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/03/denial-science-chris-mooney?>.
Oppenheimer, Michael, and Robert H. Boyle. Dead Heat: the Race against the Greenhouse Effect. New York: Basic, 1990. Print.
Stone, Christopher D. Should Trees Have Standing?: Law, Morality, and the Environment. New York, NY: Oxford UP, 2010. Print.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A few exciting things to report.

1. Tonight I saw a screening of the documentary The Last Mountain, a film about mountain top removal and the horrible industry surrounding it. The main role was Bobby Kennedy Jr., whom I saw speak 3 years ago in West Virginia for the first annual Student Climate and Conservation Congress. I only wish I had been able to seen the amazing work he does, highlighted in this movie, before I had seen him speak. He really is remarkable.

2. The second piece of exciting news is that I have decided to live in a co-op next year. It is a new student group on campus this year that lives in a house devoted to social justice and sustainability of all forms. I was intrigued by the co-op movement when I reported on the Ecovillage movement last year (http://2thegreenblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/ecovillage-movement.html). I am extremely excited to be able to try out this type of living while in college and am hoping that it will help me become even more dedicated to sustainable living. I am excited about living with people who share my passions, with people who will understand why I care, and who care as well, people to whom I can deeply relate on at least one level. This is the kind of connection that made me excited about college. And I can't wait to blog about it!

I haven't been able to write blog posts in quite a while because things here have been so hectic. There are just so many amazing opportunities - with over 20 environmental student group - I just can't seem to be everywhere at once. I'm currently writing a research paper for the Environmental Philosophy Writing Seminar on the motivations behind the climate change skeptic movement, and am excited to present it to the blogosphere in a short time.  I continue to be passionate about environmental sustainability and am ready to declare my major as such when I am permitted. I have been talking with the department here, getting to know people who are already involved, and it just all makes me so excited. 

I'm not sure how many times I just used the word excited, but I think it pretty well sums up my mood. :)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Reasoning with Climate Change Deniers


A major component of my writing seminar class (which focuses on environmental philosophy) is reasoning. To start, we were asked to read Premises by Valerie Ross, within which I found some great tips for reasoning with deniers (I have specifically climate deniers in mind).

"The paradox of argument is that it must begin in agreement. If you share no common ground with your interlocutor, you are unlikely to change her mind....A skillful critical writer is able to identify common ground between himself and his readers, and uses this to launch his argument from the very edge of that common ground.

"An understanding of of your audience's premises is fundamental to any argument, and will dictate both content and ordering...Failure to grasp whether one needs to commence with universal or specialized premises will typically stall the argument before it gets off the ground."

Ross, herself, is a skilled critical writer, and so I don't think that really needs much explanation. Just some interesting things to think about when dealing with climate change deniers.

Guide to Green Colleges


The following is what The Guide to Green Colleges had to say about UPenn's sustainability initiatives. 
I went to the Penn Environmental Group meeting this week and was also accepted as a house leader for the Eco-Rep program. I was also at the grand opening of the beautiful Penn Park yesterday and have decided to take part in the Solar Decathlon (more on that to come).
So many exciting opportunities!


University of Pennsylvania
1 college hall, philadelphia, pa 19104 • Admissions: 215-898-7507
FAx: 215-898-9670 • FinAnciAl Aid: 215-898-1988
E-mAil: info@admissions.ugao.upenn.edu WEbsitE: www.Upenn.edU/sUstainabiLity
In 2007, the University of Pennsylvania became a signatory of ACUPCC, and it has convened the Environmental Sustainability Advisory Committee (ESAC) to prepare a university Climate Action Plan. ESAC’s six subcommittees
(Academics, Utilities & Operations, Physical Environment, Waste Minimization & Recycling, Transportation, and Communications) com- pleted their work in 2009, and Penn’s Climate Action Plan was launched on September 2009. Penn has a full-time Environmental Sustainability Coordinator who leads a staff of four in providing education and leader- ship regarding sustainability initiatives on campus. Penn is already one of the nation’s leader in wind energy purchase among institutions of higher education, with Renewable Energy Credit accounting for more than 49 percent of the annual electrical consumption. The university is pursuing LEED certification for nine projects, including an anticipated LEED Platinum Horticulture Center at the Morris Arboretum. Plans are in place to update systems in high energy-use buildings to reduce their carbon footprint. All roofing projects are evaluated for the feasibil- ity of green roof installation, and Penn’s new athletic facility, Penn Park, will feature a rainwater reclamation system for irrigation needs. Penn Environmental Group is a student-run organization that pro- motes environmental education and awareness around the campus and in the neighboring community. The university offers students paid sustainability internships and 48 positions within its campus-based Eco- Reps program. Getting back and forth is easy thanks to the PennPass, a heavily subsidized student transit pass that allows for unlimited rides on buses and subways in the area. 






Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Energy Efficiency

When most people think of energy efficiency, they think of turning off the lights when they leave a room or only running the washing machine when it's full. However, as my Environmental Science teacher (Professor Alain Plante) pointed out today, energy efficiency is really referring to the efficiency in creating energy at the source. The process used to generate electricity from fossil fuels, for example, is only 30-40% efficient, nuclear 30-35%, solar 5-30%.  


That's not to say that every drop in the bucket doesn't count, but it follows along with the same principle that countries need to develop sustainable policy and companies need to use sustainable practices. Energy producers, countries, and companies really need to get on board in order for us to get going on the climate change issue. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

College Classes

This past week I dove into my first college classes. I've chosen to major in Environmental Studies, so 3 of my 4 classes directly relate to the content of this site. Here are a few things I've already learned:

Intro to Environmental Earth Studies: I think this will be my favorite. I'm a science geek at heart and the teacher is passionate and engaging. The first day he countered many students' assumptions that the class would focus on climate change, emphasizing that the material is on earth systems, with frequent footnotes on human destruction. I can't wait to take more of my major's requirements!

Mass Media and Society: There really is theory behind all of this! Spending the past year working on social media for environmentally related causes (including this blog), it's exciting to learn some hard facts. Really, I was making my tactics up along the way, but it's great to read "expert" opinions on mass communication. Currently working through the first chapter of my professor's text - Media Today: An Introduction to Mass Communication. 

Writing Seminar: Environmental Philosophy: For tomorrow's homework we had to read Peter Singer's All Animals are Equal. Wow, what a compelling argument. And honestly the closest I've come to being convinced to be a vegetarian. I think I still have to get through Eating Animals to go all the way, but a great argument against speciesism. For homework we had to write 3 propositions, so here they are!


1. One cannot dispute discrimination with the justification that all individuals are equal. 
2. Equality is justified on the basis of treating all that have interests (individuals that have the ability to suffer) with morality. 
3. Nonhumans should be included in the case against discrimination and exploitation.


Calculus 104: Okay, so this one doesn't pertain. But math is interesting and could be useful in the econ sector. So far, so good, still doing a review of high school calc.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Competition --> Collaboration


When I started my blog, I didn’t really have a sense of direction. I knew I wanted to contribute something to the environmental blogosphere but wasn’t exactly sure where to start or what to focus on. As I wrote random articles and used social media to market my site, a pattern became evident: competition and isolation within the environmental movement rather than an atmosphere of collaboration. 

I encountered many experts at the events I was attending and blogging about, but as one speaker said, there were “silos of information with no conduits connecting them.” In order to make the biggest impact possible, people from all sectors need to be working together – sharing ideas and resources.  Rather than create just another blog among the thousands that focus on “going green,” I wanted to contribute a solution to the discontinuity I was witnessing.  I came up with Experts’ Opinions on Sustainability and asked bloggers from around the world to answer questions on sustainability. Combined we could harness our over 20,000 Twitter followers and multiple sites to really create a discussion. 

I’ve now begun to see a trend towards these uniting sites – The Urban Cnoversion, 2Degrees, EcoDesk, and other sites with multiple contributors.  I hope the environmental movement can continue in this direction to harness the incredible ideas and resources we have as a combined force.   

$aving Green 2 Way$

Circle of Moms recently asked the question:

What's an easy, eco-friendly habit that could help families save money?

My answer: Buy Less Stuff.


Probably the simplest answer for saving money. But definitely easier said than done.



Watching The Story of Stuff videos and having your kids watch them too can help everyone understand the purpose of these steps. Garbage Land is also a great book that teaches about the process of what happens to our waste.

I've found that the best thing to motivate almost anyone is a contest. See who can spend the least money each week, or who can create the least trash. How can you repurpose your garbage into something useful or cool looking? Do you really need to throw out one just to buy another? Who has the most creative reuse design?

I know it sounds simple, and a little too straight forward, but doesn't it just make sense? If you want to save money, stop buying so much stuff. It's something all of us can work on, and in the process you'll also help save the planet.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mission Green Dorm: Episode 1 - Packing Guide

The Container Store (i.e. OCD heaven)

Here are the top tips I've found - coming from a soon to be college student's perspective:

  1. Use what you already have
  2. Bring a recycling bin
  3. Bring lamps that work on CFL bulbs.
  4. Avoid extra appliances like microwaves, toaster ovens, mini fridges, and air conditioning units. All I'm bringing is a small fan and an electric kettle for my tea addiction and instant coffee on those mornings that just go too quickly.
  5. Organic sheets
  6. Green cleaning supplies
  7. Smart strip pluggins
The most useful thing I've found in trying to pack green, has been reusing what we already have at home. It's insanely easy to get carried away at The Container Store (i.e. OCD heaven) or Bed Bath and Beyond, but it can be both cheaper and greener to dig up the items you already have at home. 
There really is no super special trick to green dorm room shopping - the key is less is more!



I was extremely excited to see a these green packing tips on UPenn's website!

Packing tip: GO GREEN!

When packing to move to Penn, consolidate where possible in order to eliminate extra cardboard boxes. When purchasing lightbulbs for your room, make sure they are the compact fluorescent type. Also, using a power strip with surge protector is not only energy efficient, but also helps protect your electronics against power surges. Here are some items to consider to make your room green:
  • Reusable plates, cups and utensils (Preferably not plastic)
  • Smart Strip or surge protector
  • Bring Energy Star appliances (TVs, Computer Monitors, Refrigerators, etc.) If you bring a TV, bring a flat, LCD screen. It can use 1/3 less energy than a standard, CRT television.
  • Reusable water bottle (SIGG, Nalgene, etc.)
  • Cloth Napkins
  • Power Strips (so electronics can be easily unplugged while not in use)
  • Reusable Shopping Bags (recommend three)
  • Recycled Paper
  • Organic Towels and Sheets
  • A Bedspread or Quilt from Home
  • Recycling Bins
  • Green Cleaning Supplies and Detergent
  • CFLs for Lamps or Other Fixtures
  • Green Cleaning Products
Some items that are donated to PennMOVES, our end of the year Move-Out Drive, include bed risers, ironing boards, plastic underbed and other storage. Consider using soft-sided storage made from recycled materials instead of hard plastics.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011

    Summer Streets

    Summer streets - what an incredible opportunity! For 3 Saturdays during the summer, Park Avenue is closed off to cars and open to walkers, joggers, bikers, and rollerbladers. The event is incredibly well planned and organized, with activity stops almost every mile. It always leaves participants asking for it to be done more often.

     
    I took part on two different Saturdays. The first time going down from 72nd street to the Brooklyn Bridge and then returning in time to visit my local green market - 82nd  and 1st. 


    Midtown rest stop - lots of booths and food!

    With free bike valet!


    The second Saturday I ventured over the Brooklyn Bridge: a bit hectic and crowded but a beautiful view! I road around Brooklyn for a bit and then stopped by the water for a nice afternoon treat of frozen yogurt!

    My own rest stop - with a great view of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan skyline.


    Learning how not to get run over by trucks - very useful rest stop.

    Free NYC water - best in the world!
    Puppet show / story time for the little ones at another stop.

    Rest stop complete with sand boxes,

    and professional sand sculptures making part of the city skyline.

    Monday, August 29, 2011

    What's Your Eco 411?

    Below is a list of questions based on those started by Lynn of Funtastically Green and we want YOU to play along with us!  Give us your Eco 411! 

    Here's the deal,  if you have a blog, post the questions below with YOUR Eco 411 answers and link to 5 (or more) friends and this post. I picked this up from the lovely Shane Shirley-Smith of Environmental Booty If you don't have a blog but are on Facebook, post your answers there and tag at least 5 friends and link back to this post.  Ask your friends to do the same, linking back to you, this post and a few of their friends!  And so on... Let’s see how far we can take this!



    1. Who are you? Give us the goods – we really want to  know all about those skeletons in the closet.
    Well, let's see, I'm an 18 year old environmentalist, gymnast, student, New Yorker, new to the environmental blogging world but already know that I love it! I'm leaving for college in 2 days and I'm excited, but also terrified of change. I started gymnastics when I was just 2 years old, and have been on a competitive team since I was 4. In the past few years I've had one injury after another and actually quit briefly in the winter - which is when i found the opportunity to start this blog! I just couldn't live without gymnastics and returned after a few months, and will now be competing for my college's division 1 team. I love the opportunities of NYC, but I'm not actually a city-girl, I have a quirky laugh, I can be very silly, but also stress way too much, and I get scared watching almost any movie (so I don't watch them very often). I believe that every circumstance is a learning opportunity if looked at from the right angle.


    2. If there was one thing on the planet that you could protect or change, what would it be?
    I think I'd love to get people to care of the environment and climate change. Plain and simple, attitudes toward the environment in the U.S. are overall just awful.


    3. What’s your WORST green habit?
    I'm not proud of it, but leaving the television on. Working hard on that one! Plus I won't even have a TV at school, so it shouldn't be an issue.
    EDIT: After thinking about this one a little longer (and a few shouts from my parents), I'd like to make an adjustment to this answer. My worst green habit is turning off the water, lights, or air conditioner while my parents are using them. In all other aspects I approach the green topic from a gentle approach - taking caution not to scare people from the idea by making them think that it has to be inconvenient or uncomfortable. But with my parents I have taken a blunt approach. The sound of running water has become a pet peeve. All I can think of how much is being wasted and my parents rinse dishes before sticking them in the dish washer or sleep with the air conditioner on in the winter. I've tried so hard to get them to care, and they're working on it...however slowly that may be. They know that it means a lot to me, but for them it's just not worth it yet. 


    4.Girls - which eco-gal is the hottest?  Angelina Jolie, Mariel Hemingway, Alicia Silverstone or Jessica Alba
       Guys - Which eco-guy is cuter? Leo Dicaprio, Woody Harrelson, Surf or Matt Damon

    To be honest, I don't follow celebrity news at all. Should probably get on that before I get to school...


    5. What’s your fav healthy food? Least fav? 
    My parents both like to eat very healthily, so I've grown up with a house full of healthy food. My favorite food in the world is zucchini! Least favorite healthy food? Probably, wow, that's actually a harder question than I thought...I'm not a very picky eating and I think I like every single vegetable and fruit out there. I'm not such a big fan of tofu, just like Shane, so I'll copy you on that one. 


    6. If you could adopt an animal from WWF, what would it be? Why?
    I'll go with giraffe...they're cute :)
    Picture links to page.


    7. If you could have any house, anywhere – where would you live? 
    Well not there I'll tell you. I'm not so much a city person, and I'm an anti-suburbs person. I picture myself living in the country with a farm and some animals. And places to hike for sure. My parents aren't so keen on the idea, but we'll see as I get older. I also love to travel, so traveling in Europe and staying in hostels is another fantasy of mine. Of course, blogging the whole time. 


    8. Is bigger better? (A house that is girls! Shame on you *snickering*) Would you rather have a small house or a big house? Why? 
    I'm moving from a Manhattan apartment to a dorm room, small is just the way it is. But definitely, small is the way to go. Enough of these McMansions. 


    I'll give a big shout out to my Experts from Experts' Opinions on Sustainability:
    Jeffrey Davis (Nashville, TN) - Eco Snobbery Sucks
    Brendan DeMelle (Seattle, WA) - DeSmogBlog
    Beth Fiteni (Long Island, NY) - Ecobeth and TheEcoBabe
    Jin Kong (Indianapolis, IN) - The Green Elephant
    Meris Michaels (Geneva, Switzerland) - Towards Better Health
    Jessica Reeder (Reno, NV) - Love and Trash
    Brendan Seale (Toronto, Canada) - The Interconnectedness of Things


    Will you help us spread this around?


    And let's try to do this with EOS as well! Follow the same directions, answering the following questions.

    1. What was your favorite book of 2010?
    2. What was your favorite documentary of 2010?
    3. What was the biggest political upset (sustainability-related) of 2010?
    4. What role does social media play in the environmental movement?
    5. What is the most pressing sustainability issue we need to address?
    6. What is the most promising sustainable energy source?
    7. If you could back one bill through Congress, which would it be?

    Friday, August 12, 2011

    Summer Streets


    I'm very excited to cover tomorrow's Summer Streets celebration in Manhattan, NYC!
    I will be riding my bike around the over 6 miles of streets that will be free of cars and open to the public, stopping at rest stops, and claiming my foursquare specials!
    If you have any suggestions for stops or things to cover please let me know. I will also be taking some impromptu interviews and video.

    Look for a post on it soon!

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    A College Student's Guide to Living Green

    I am about to embark on an exciting new chapter of my life - I'll be leaving for college in 3 weeks! I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of having this blog and using it as a tool for my own learning, so I have decided to continue, as best I can while also living the life of a college student, by refocusing it on living green while in college.

    Over the next few weeks I will be dorm shopping - basically back-to-school shopping on steroids, and I'm going to do my research to attempt to buy the greenest options.  The first series on my newly refocused blog will be Mission Green Dorm.

    I hope you'll follow me on this exciting journey! And as always, I love to hear your comments and suggestions.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    World Fair Trade Day at Sustainable NYC

    The New York City Fair Trade Coalition hosted a great event on Sunday, May 15 to celebrate World Fair Trade Day! Located at Sustainable NYC in downtown Manhattan, the event featured booths from fair trade companies where visitors could learn about the story of their products. And that's a really big part of Fair Trade - bringing the consumer back to the production and increasing appreciation for the resources and labor that went into it.  These booths were in addition to the incredible stock of fair trade and sustainable products Sustainable NYC carries daily. 

    Below are a few photos I took at the event. 








    Eco Friendly Nail Polish - I've been looking for this!