Cayuga Community College saw the need for community college services in Oswego County. In the spring of 1994, after five years of study, the decision was made to create The Fulton Extension Site of CCC. The College opened with 94 students enrolled in two rented classrooms in the basement of the Fulton Education Center in downtown Fulton. After outgrowing that facility in just 6 months, it was moved into the former Holy Family School building on West Third Street, Fulton that summer. In 1996, SUNY approved the Extension Center designation.
As part of the College’s Facilities Master Plan, 50,000 square feet of space was leased in a vacant discount department store and a new home for the Fulton site was designed. The central feature was an innovative Learning Commons that combined the Library, Academic Support Center, and open Computing Lab. Each would have about 60 stations with the open design allowing the space to “flex” to meet varying needs. Construction began in 2000 and a groundbreaking was held at 806 W. Broadway on the new Fulton Center. By the next year, the Fulton Center moved to the new facility.
In 2004, to accommodate the increasing student enrollment, 5,000 feet of unfinished space within the Fulton Center was renovated that added four classrooms and seven offices.
Growth continued, and in 2006 SUNY approved Branch Campus status educating more than 1,000 students and offering complete degree programs on site.
In spring 2011, Cayuga County approved the purchase of the former P&C Foods building in Fulton’s River Glen Plaza as well as 45 adjacent acres. Kick off for construction was held in December, and the new Fulton Campus at River Glen Plaza was opened to students by fall 2012.
Currently there are close to 140 employees on the Fulton campus and approximately 23 are alumni.
Since there have been many State-of-the-College addresses lately, I wanted to take this opportunity to present a State-of-the- Alumni Office update.
When the CCC Foundation presented a production of “A Change ‘Gon Come” in November, we didn’t know how prophetic that would be. As you, our readers, are aware, our College has fallen upon some difficult times over the past year. Most of the problems are due to financial shortfalls. Many changes have been made, including the hiring of a new interim president, Dr. Gregory DeCinque. (See the December 2013 Get Inspired for our feature story on Dr. DeCinque.)
Changes have also come to our alumni office and Foundation staff. The position of Alumni Office Assistant has been cut; and I am sorry to report that Mary Kriever ’08, who has been my right hand, colleague and friend, is no longer a part of our team. Many of you know or have worked with Mary to sign up for trips, work on articles or biographies for The Spartan or this publication, or just stopped into our office to say “hello.” I can’t tell you what a pleasure it has been for me to come to work each day to what has been known as “the happy office.” Mary shared my passion for all things alumni and my vision for our office and association. Mary was my co-editor for our publications; and though her last day was in December, she was very instrumental in this edition of Get Inspired. She administered our ACC/CCC Alumni Assoc. Facebook page, so please be patient while we try to continue her tradition of adding content on a regular basis. Mary also handled making updates and name changes in our alumni database; so again, we ask for your patience.
We also said goodbye to another of our Foundation staff members, Martha MacKay. Marty had a stellar 36-year history with the College and Foundation having been a College Trustee, a member of the Foundation Board of Directors, an interim Foundation Executive Director twice and the Associate Director of Development. Though you may not have seen her, she was a driving force behind the scenes for just about every Foundation function or event. She was responsible for bringing to campus for our enrichment the performance of “Othello” by the Aquila Theatre Company, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts; the musical spoof “Forbidden Broadway: Special Victims Unit;” and Ed Asner as “FDR,” among others.
Thank you is not adequate for what Marty and Mary have given us, but they know what they have meant to us and know we wish them well.
Though we lost two staff members, we officially gained two. Effective January 1, CCC Foundation’s Executive Director Jeffrey Hoffman and his Administrative Assistant Carol MacKenzie ’74 are no longer College employees working for the Foundation; they are now Foundation employees. Jeff has run the Foundation office since 2005 and has nearly 30 years of fundraising experience. Carol, an 18-year College employee, has been the glue that has held the office together with professionalism and knowledge of all things Foundation.
Our governing body, the CCC Foundation, is working to restructure our department in keeping with the current situations we have to work through. We anticipate more changes over the coming months, but want you to remember that the ACC/CCC Alumni Association, your alumni association, will do all it can to assure smooth transitions.
There has been a Director of Alumni Affairs in place for 27 years. I have always been pleased to say that the first director was my cousin, Virginia Iocolano, and I am extremely proud to carry on the work she began in 1986. The ACC/CCC Alumni Association has been in existence for 55 years and whatever changes occur, the goal is to continue to have one of the most respected alumni associations in the SUNY system…with a little help from our friends!
With warmest regards,
Louise Wilson ’72
Director of Alumni Affairs
Editor, Get Inspired
Alaska is admitted as the 49th U.S. state, Walt Disney releases Sleeping Beauty. February 3 is the day the music died, when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper are killed in a plane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa. Lee Petty wins the first Daytona 500, and Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida opens it gates.
NASA announces its selection of the “Mercury Seven”, who become the first U.S. Astronauts.* The St. Lawrence Seaway opens to shipping. Hawaii is admitted as the 50th U.S. state. Rod Serling’s,** The Twilight Zone, premieres on CBS. MGM’s widescreen, Technicolor version of Ben-Hur is released.
Those were some of the 1959 headlines you might have read (if you were born yet), when the Auburn Community College Alumni Association came to be. The average cost of a new house was $12,400, average yearly wages were $5,010, and a gallon of gas cost 25 cents, a movie ticket $1.00, a loaf of bread 20 cents.
Fidel Castro comes to power; the Barbie doll is launched and the first known human with HIV dies in Congo. Inventions in 1959 include the Microchip, Etch A Sketch, the Lunar Probe and the Computer Modem.
Auburn CC made history in 1959, when the Auburn Community College Alumni Association was established to promote and advance the interests of the College, its students and alumni. The association was reorganized and incorporated in 1980 and renamed the Auburn/Cayuga Community College Alumni Association.
The first Alumni Director was named in 1987. Since that time, five directors have served the association: Virginia Iocolano, Mickey Lord, Elisabeth Hurley, Nancy Ranieri and Louise Wilson. The association’s activities and function in general are supported as part of the administrative structure of the College Foundation’s annual fund drive and from various activities sponsored by the Alumni Association.
The Alumni Association is governed by a board of directors who may serve three-year terms. Meetings occur on the second Tuesday of each month, September through May, with elections held at the annual meeting in September. An alumni board member and an alum from the general membership serve as liaisons to the CCC Foundation. The Director of Alumni Affairs is an ex officio member of the board and its various committees.
All these years later our mission remains the same: To promote and enhance relations among the alumni, the College community and the community at large.
*Can you name the Mercury Seven? Wally Schirra, Deke Slayton, John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom and Gordon Cooper Jr.
** Rod Serling visited Auburn Community College to lecture and even spoke to some classes.
Joseph Belth, Ph.D was originally run in the spring/summer 2012 edition of The Spartan
GOLDEN SPARTAN: LIFELONG EDUCATOR/CONSUMER ADVOCATE
Dr. Joseph M. “Joe” Belth ’58 responded to our invitation to “Golden Spartans” to share his story. Belth was briefly profiled in our Fall/Winter 2010 issue under the caption, “What Alumni Have Done with their Degrees.”
From an expanded biography, we learned that Joe was born and raised in Syracuse, NY. He married Marjorie Lavine in 1955 and decided to attend ACC because of its affordable tuition and proximity. Joe transferred credits to Syracuse University and graduated summa cum laude from ACC and SU’s College of Business Administration the same year. With a fellowship from the S.S. Huebner Foundation for Insurance Education, Joe graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1961 with a Ph.D. in Applied Economics with a concentration in insurance. In 1962, he joined the faculty of the School of Business (now the Kelley School of Business) at Indiana University, Bloomington, and retired in 1993 as professor emeritus of insurance.
Active in the American Risk and Insurance Association (ARIA), Belth wrote books on the subject of life insurance and had numerous award-winning articles published in academic journals. He taught and conducted extensive research on deceptive sales practices in the life insurance industry (considered controversial by insurance practitioners at that time). After encountering censorship from trade journals and professional organizations, he began publishing a monthly independent newsletter in 1974 – The Insurance Forum – which is now in its 39th year.
Belth received significant accolades for his work. In 1966, for “outstanding contribution to the literature of insurance,” Joe received an Elizur Wright Award from ARIA for his book, Participating Life Insurance Sold by Stock Companies. In 1991, for “intensive scrutiny of the insurance industry since 1974,” The Insurance Forum received a George Polk Award [in the special publications category], which is one of the most coveted in journalism. In 1999, “in recognition of distinguished service to education and professionalism,” Joe received a Huebner Gold Medal from The American College. He has been profiled in three national publications – The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, and The New York Times – and is listed in Who’s Who in America.
In 1974, Belth was invited to be commencement speaker at ACC, the first alum so honored. In his address, Joe asked students to consider their responsibilities to society. Retired now for 18 years, he and his wife continue to live in their home outside Bloomington, Indiana. They have three children, four grandchildren and one step-grandchild.
An Internet search provided, in the words of the late Paul Harvey, “the rest of the story.” We discovered that Belth’s name is almost synonymous with life insurance. Nationally recognized as one of the foremost authorities and one of the most respected critics of the industry, he has testified before congressional subcommittees and regulatory commissions since the early ’70s. Joe has been extolled and criticized by colleagues, life insurance executives, and regulators alike. He has witnessed the life insurance industry’s sales practices scandals of the 1990s and the failure of several insurance companies and has remained a steadfast advocate for the average consumer. Over the years, Joe has been quoted extensively by national media and his name continues to appear in the press. Enter the name “Joseph M. Belth” into any search engine and see what you get. Pretty impressive.
Finally, we wish to extend our thanks to Dr. Belth for continuing to remember his alma mater. In 1974, he established an award in memory of his parents, Irving and Helen Belth, which to this day recognizes a graduate for both outstanding scholarship and student citizenship.
The Auburn/Cayuga Community College Alumni Association is accepting applications for its Alumni Scholarships. They are offered to eligible students who meet the applicable criteria for each scholarship and submit the required paperwork. Scholarships being offered for the 2014-2015 academic year include:
- Freshman Student – Available to high school seniors who are the child or grandchild of an ACC/CCC graduate.
- Returning Sophomore Student – For a returning sophomore student attending college on a full-time basis for a second year.
- Nontraditional Student – For a candidate who is nontraditionally aged (male or female adult 24 years of age or older) enrolled for a minimum of six (6) credit hours per semester who is looking to upgrade skills or start a new career.
In addition, the following commencement award is being offered for May 2014:
- Graduating Transfer Student – For a graduating student who will be transferring to a four-year school.
Application forms list guidelines, eligibility and submission requirements and are available from the ACC/CCC Alumni Association, the CCC Financial Aid Office, the Cayuga County Community College Foundation, or on the College website.
Deadline for submission is March 31, 2014. For more information, contact Louise in the Alumni Office at
315-255-1743 extension 2224 or in room M238 on the Auburn campus, or Amanda at 315-592-4143 extension 3089 or room F106 on the Fulton campus.
Hard to believe it has been ten years since we took this photo in 2004, so it’s time to create another nostalgic moment. The CCC Fulton’s 20th Anniversary committee is planning to commemorate another milestone. Special guests are being invited to speak at an event planned for Wednesday, April 23 at 11:00 in the lobby of the Fulton Campus at River Glen. A trivia contest will be held with a special prize for the winner, and cake will be served.
Staff and faculty members on both campuses joined the challenge to Go Red. The American Heart Association in conjunction with “Go Red for Women”, wanted to share the facts about women and heart disease. It is the No. 1 killer of women, taking the life of 1 in 3 women each year. The Heart Association wants to spread the word and raise awareness. Groups and organizations were urged to take a picture of their group and post the photo to https://www.goredforwomen.org/wearredday/challenge. Both campuses answered the call and more than 75 participated in the photo event.
Cayuga Community College has announced the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX) score of its 2013 nursing class. The most recent graduates of the school’s two-year associate in applied science degree achieved a 100 percent pass rate—the program’s third consecutive.
As Cayuga’s nursing graduates have consistently done, the 2013 class surpassed the state and national average pass rates by 22 points and 17 points, respectively. The school’s five-year pass rate is a notable 98 percent.
“The performance of our graduates on the NCLEX is a tribute to the unwavering commitment to excellence that is embraced daily by the faculty and staff of Cayuga Community College,” said Professor and Director of Nursing Linda Alfieri, MS, RN. “As well, it gives clear and decisive evidence to the dedication and hard work put forth by all of our students as they work to prepare for a career or continued education in nursing.”
Another impressive statistic is the placement percentage for the 2013 graduates. Eighty-eight percent were hired for nursing positions and 12 percent were accepted into a four-year bachelor of science in nursing program for a final placement total of 100 percent.
Cayuga’s program, which currently enrolls 100 students, attracts a diverse group of individuals including recent high school graduates, “empty-nester” parents looking to return to the marketplace and displaced workers looking for a second career. For further information about the program, Linda Alfieri welcomes calls at 315-294-8684 and emails at email@example.com.
CCC Men’s Bowling Region III Runner-up
The Cayuga Spartan men’s bowling team moved their record to an impressive 46-10 on the season. This ranks them 58th in the country for men’s collegiate bowling in the USBC. They achieved these heights by their recent 2nd place finish in the NJCAA Region 3 team championships held at AMF Lanes in Utica. This is the best finish in the school’s short bowling history. Cayuga was led by standout Alex DiGenaro, who shot 1577 for the all events total…which earned him a berth on the All-Region team…another first for the College.
The short-handed Spartan Women’s bowling team gave a good showing placing 4th at the Regionals. They were led by sophomore Mary Townley, who was placed on the women’s All-Region team. This final showing qualified Townley, Beth Piston and Deanne Connolly for the USBC Singles sectionals in Allentown, PA against the top 300 women collegiate bowlers in the country. Both Spartan teams will be bowling in the NJCAA Nationals at Thruway Lanes in Buffalo on Feb 28th and March 1st. The Spartans are coached by Head Coach Steve Spinney and Assistant Coaches Christine Nichols and Nancy Spinney.
The Spartan men’s basketball team won an overtime thriller over rival Onondaga on February 25 in Spartan Hall to advance in the NJCAA Region III Tournament. After Onondaga scored the first 4 points in OT…Cayuga scored 11 straight points to win by the final of 85-78. The Spartans were led by freshman Zaki Thomas (Paterson, NJ) who led all scorers with 25 points. Thomas also added 11 rebounds and had 3 steals. Sophomore Glenn Taggart (Fairport, NY) added 19 points and had 5 assists. Mike Guity (Syracuse, NY) chipped in with 18 points and had 3 blocked shots.
Visit www.cayugaspartans.com for the latest on Cayuga sports.
In late 2013, Jeffrey Hoffman, executive director of the Cayuga Community College Foundation received news concerning a nationwide study of community college foundations. We would like to share the text of that letter with you:
Congratulations on your fundraising efforts! During the past year, I have conducted an extensive national research project specific to public two-year colleges and their support foundations. Part of that research involved reviewing the publicly accessible IRS 990 filings of each foundation and placing them in rank order based on total assets and annual funds raised. The study included over 850 public two-year college support foundations. The data was collected for filings made in tax years 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 which reflects the actual amounts from the previous year. This is the most comprehensive research project conducted in the area of two-year college advancement.
I am pleased to report to you that the Cayuga Community College Foundation, in terms of total assets, is ranked in the top 100 (#95) for the 2012 filing period.
William R. Crowe MBA, PhD
Senior Faculty and Director
University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education
At its Annual Meeting in January, the Cayuga Community College Foundation added four new members to its Board of Directors, including two ACC/CCC alumni.
Kelley is the Assistant Vice President and Commercial Credit Officer for Tompkins Trust Company. She serves locally on many nonprofit boards and is chair of the Cayuga Economic Development Agency, the one-stop agency that brings together all things related to economic development for the County.
Edward F. (Ted) Herrling ’72
Ted Herrling graduated from Mount Carmel High School. Following his service in the U.S. Army, Ted returned to ACC and completed his degree in 1972. Ted was the founding director of the Cayuga Works Career Center and is President of the ACC/CCC Alumni Association Board of Directors.
John J. Klink ’66
John Klink graduated from Auburn Community College in 1966 and then earned his B.S. and M.S. at SUNY Brockport. He taught Social Studies for 35 years at Southern Cayuga, and currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Cayuga Community College.
Despite being declared legally blind at age ten and going totally blind at age 20, Angela Winfield graduated from the Barnard College of Columbia University. She has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and is a contributing author to Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Angela practices law at the Syracuse office of Hiscock & Barclay, L.L.P.
If you’re dead-set on that charming but energy-inefficient house, here are some relatively inexpensive ways to whittle your energy bills after you move in.
One of the ways to make your home more energy-efficient is to install a programmable thermostat and timer for the water heater.
1. Replace your refrigerator
This is one of the biggest energy-guzzling appliances in the house, says Lisa Dornan, spokeswoman for Direct Energy, and there have been big changes in the efficiency of this appliance over the last five years. “If you look back at the top-rated refrigerator in 2001 that was Energy Star, and one you’d buy today with an Energy Star rating, there would be a 20% to 40% difference in energy efficiency,” she says. Her firm, Direct Energy, performs home energy audits and is an energy retailer. Replacing older dishwashers and dryers can make a big difference too, she adds.
2. Install a programmable thermostat and a timer for the water heater
Just as you would flip off the lights before heading out to work, you should turn the heating or cooling off or down while you’re away. Program the thermostat for a higher temperature when you’re gone in warmer months, or lower in cooler months. These thermostats can be had for $150 at big-box hardware stores.
Likewise, don’t heat your water when you’re not there to use it. “You definitely want to make sure you are not heating the whole tank needlessly,” Dornan says.
Tankless water heaters can be a great investment too, she adds, but they may take a few years to pay for themselves.
3. Put a solar film or solar shades on the outside of windows to cut the heat
If you’re moving into a house with single-paned windows, or living in a climate with extreme heat, you should consider putting something on the outside to reflect the light, Arizona home inspector Scott Hubbard says.
4. Don’t let the heat escape
Also, caulk window and door frames to make sure they are airtight. And if possible, use honeycomb-type shades on the inside to trap the heat before it is absorbed into the room.
5. Use compact fluorescent bulbs
This is kind of a no-brainer, experts say, because it’s so cheap to do and saves so much on your electricity bill. “Just for swapping out 10 light bulbs (in my home), I was able to get $400 a year in energy savings,” Dornan says.
6. Change the filter on your air conditioner regularly
This monthly maintenance helps it run more efficiently, Dornan says, and minimizes wear and tear on your unit. Arranging furniture so it doesn’t block air vents also is important to maximize the flow of cooling from your system.
7. Put in shady landscaping
Planting a tree or some vegetation outside a big window can shade your house from the strongest rays of the sun and stifle freezing winds. Planting low-water native plants can also cut your water bill, lowering the total cost you pay for you home each month. (See this slide show on 16 water-wise plants and read more about planning a drought-tolerant garden.)
8. Invest in an attic fan
These inexpensive fans can make a difference in the temperature of the whole house and keep your air conditioning from working so hard.
Becoming more energy efficient isn’t just for those of us who want to save the environment. Being energy efficient can really help your wallet. Whether it’s something as big as installing solar panels, or something as small as turning off the lights, when you cut back on how much energy you use-you save money. There are many steps you can take to make your home more energy efficient. Some energy-efficient changes are one-time investments…others are things you can do every day! Realize, though, that you don’t have to follow every step to be energy efficient. Even if you only implement two or three of these changes you will be saving energy, money, and Mother Nature too.
Insulate Your Home. Adding new or additional insulation to your ceilings, attic and walls along with using caulking or weather stripping to make sure doors and windows are properly sealed will prevent cold drafts and air leaks to keep warm air inside during the freezing winter. (When the weather heats up, these same improvements will help trap the cool air from air conditioning inside your home during the sweltering summer.)
Revamp Your Windows. Your windows are a major source of heat loss in a home.
- Replace Aluminum Frames. Aluminum window frames let heat transfer very easily. Vinyl frames are much more resistant to heat transfer.
- Get Multiple Panes. Double or triple paned argon gas-filled windows are great for keeping the heat in and the cold out. (The argon between the glass acts as an incredibly effective insulator.)
- Tint Your Windows. While you may not think that tinted windows on the front of your house looks very attractive, you can always do it to the back windows. It’s surprising how much unwanted heat and cold you can keep out by having tinted windows.
- Open the Blinds. Why not leave the lights off and let some sun in? Lighting your house with sunlight is 100% FREE!
Replacing Old Appliances. Older appliances are less energy-efficient than newer models. Replace these old “clunkers” in your home with Energy Star certified appliances. This will go a long way towards saving energy and lowering your electric bills. When it’s time to replace your kitchen appliances, the washer, dryer, water heater or furnace, research the various models and features so you’ll know which ones are the most energy efficient. When shopping, look for models that are labeled as “Energy Star Certified” to ensure you’re getting an energy- and money-saving appliance.
- A high efficiency on-demand water heater only fires when you call for hot water. It heats up quickly-and then quits burning fuel. (An added bonus is the fact that they are amazingly easy to maintenance.)
- Get low-flow fixtures and appliances. Low-flow toilets, shower heads, and washing machines can save a lot of water.
- Double the Savings. For example, using low-flow fixtures (like shower heads) can “piggyback” on the use of a new, energy-efficient water heater and help to further decrease the energy usage in your home.
Use Your Appliances Efficiently. Study the operator’s manual for each appliance so you’re familiar with the proper operating methods. Then, be mindful of how you’re using your appliances. Minimize their energy expenditure by maximizing their use. Do full loads of clothes and dishes each time. Since your refrigerator is the one appliance in your home that’s always on, maximize its efficiency by turning the temperature to the “energy-efficient” setting (if indicated on your temperature control) or to 37 degrees (3 degrees for your freezer). Also when you go on vacation don’t just turn off your appliances, unplug them. Even though they’re off, there is still energy thats getting wasted.
Keep your water heater warm. The “warm” range (120 to 140 degrees) is fine. In fact, newer water heaters will turn the temperature down to 140 if you turn it up past that. It just doesn’t need to be that hot.
Fix the Furnace. There are a bunch of things you can do to increase the efficiency of your furnace.
- Get a High Efficiency Furnace. A high efficiency furnace burns less gas, burns hotter, and produces less carbon emissions.
- Change Air Filters. Changing out dirty furnace filters makes it easier for air to circulate-and thus makes your furnace work less.
- Seal Ducts. Seal your furnace/AC duct work. Keeping air in the ducts until it reaches its destination will keep your furnace from working too much.
- Add a Programmable Thermostat. Another furnace fix! A programmable thermostat means that while you’re out, your furnace won’t come on. However, before you come back home the furnace will turn back on and your house will be warm.
- Close the vents in rooms you use less frequently in your home, like guest bedrooms, so you’re only heating or cooling rooms that are occupied.
Switch from Incandescent to Fluorescent. Although compact fluorescent bulbs cost more initially, the end result is considerable savings. This is because fluorescent light bulbs last eight to twelve times longer than incandescent bulbs. Even using a mix of fluorescent and incandescent lighting throughout your home can have an impact in overall energy usage.
Add Solar Panels. Adding solar panels to your house can help you cut down on energy costs by helping you produce a little bit of your own electricity.
Plant a Tree. Outside your home, plant deciduous shade trees in your yard on the side of your house that gets the most intense sun during the summer months (usually the side with the western exposure). The tree and its leaves will then provide shade during the hottest time of day and naturally help to keep your home cool. In winter, when the tree will be bare, it will allow warm sunshine into your home during the most optimal time of day.
Finally, make sure to take advantage of the tax incentives for energy-efficient home improvements that are available through the federal government. Recent increases in incentives now allow for up to 30 percent of the cost of home improvements — like new windows, insulation, heating or air conditioning — to an existing home to a maximum of $1,500. That’s money back in your pocket in addition to your power bill savings!
1. Dodge the Draft(s)
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, drafts can waste 5% to 30% of your energy use. Start simple and adopt that old Great Depression fixture — the draft snake, which you can easily make yourself. Just place a rolled bath towel under a drafty door, or make a more attractive DIY draft snake with googly eyes, felt tongues and the like. You can use any scraps of fabric — even neckties — and fill with sand or kitty litter for heft.
Make sure drafts aren’t giving your thermostat a false reading too, and read on for more advanced solutions.
2. Change Furnace Filters
Yes it’s easy to forget, but it’s important to replace or clean furnace filters once a month during the heating season. Dirty filters restrict airflow and increase energy demand. Here’s a worry-saving tip: mark a monthly check on your calendar.
Better, consider switching to a permanent filter, which will reduce waste and hassle. Did you know that disposable fiberglass filters trap a measly 10 to 40% of debris? Electostatic filters trap around 88%, and are much better at controlling the bacteria, mold, viruses and pollen that cause illness and irritation. They cost $50 to $1,000 or more. Another good choice is a genuine HEPA filter (like the one pictured), which can remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles. HEPA filters are based on Department of Energy standards. But avoid “HEPA-like” filters, which can be vastly less effective.
If your entire furnace is in need of replacement, it will cost a lot more — but replacing an inefficient burner for a modern machine will save you every month through the heating season. Be sure to take advantage of federal tax credits for new furnaces, which can cover 30% of the cost, up to $1,500.
3. Run Fans in Reverse
Most people think of fans only when they want to be cool, but many ceiling units come with a handy switch that reverses the direction of the blades. Counterclockwise rotation produces cooling breezes while switching to clockwise makes it warmer: air pooled near the ceiling is circulated back into the living space – cutting your heating costs as much as 10%!
4. Winterize Your A/C and Water Lines
This one’s really easy, and it will even save you a few pennies next summer, too: Simply drain any hoses and air conditioner pipes, and make sure you don’t have excess water pooled in equipment. If your a/c has a water shutoff valve, go ahead and turn that off.
Similarly, make sure any hoses are drained and stowed away neatly. Turn off exterior water spigots. It’s also a good idea to seal any water leaks around the place — and don’t forget to remove any window A/C units and store them so you don’t invite cold drafts all winter.
If you’re in the market for a new air conditioner, the federal government will reimburse 30% of the cost for an efficient central air system, up to $1,500.
5. Turn Down Your Water Heater
While many conventional water heaters are set to 140 degrees F by installers, most households don’t need that much steam, and end up paying for it — in dollars and the occasional scalding burn. Lowering the temperature to 120 degrees F (or lower) would reduce your water heating costs by 6% to 10%.
If you start to wonder why you need a tank at all, then you may be ready for a tankless water heater, or to go solar. If you are in the market for a new water heater, take advantage of the federal tax credit, which pays 30% of the cost for solar water heaters, or up to $1,500 for conventional systems.
6. Install Storm Doors and Windows
The simple act of installing a storm door can increase energy efficiency by 45%, by sealing drafts and reducing air flow. Storm doors also offer greater flexibility for letting light and ventilation enter your home. Look for Energy Star-certified models.
Similarly, storm windows can make a huge difference when the cold wind starts blowing. It may be a pain, but it is well worth it to get them out of the shed or attic and install them for the season. (Make sure each is securely shut — they don’t do much good if you leave them in the up position by mistake!)
Efficient doors, windows and skylights qualify for a federal tax credit covering 30% of the cost, up to $1,500.
7. Give Your Heating System a Tune-Up
You probably already know that cars need periodic tune-ups in order to run their best. Well the same is true for heating equipment. Keeping your furnace clean, lubricated and properly adjusted will reduce energy use, saving up to 5% of heating costs.
The good news is many utilities offer free annual checkups by qualified technicians — but you often have to call early, as HVAC crews get backed up once heating season starts. Some furnace manufacturers and dealers also offer free or discounted inspections.
If your entire furnace is in need of replacement, it will cost a lot more — but replacing an inefficient burner for a modern machine will save you every month through the heating season. Be sure to take advantage of federal tax credits for new furnaces, which can cover 30% of the cost, up to $1,500.
8. Mind That Thermostat
It’s easy to forget to turn down the heat when you leave the building, but doing so is one of the surest ways to save money. Most households shell out 50 to 70% of their energy budgets on heating and cooling, so why pay for what no one uses?
For every degree you lower the thermostat during heating season, you’ll save between 1 and 3% of your heating bill. Make it easier with a programmable thermostat; they are widely available for as little as $50, and the average family will save $180 a year with one.
Go a step further and ask your local utility if it’s making smart meters available in your area, as part of recent federal smart grid investments.
9. Put Up Some Plastic
For just a few dollars, pick up a window insulation kit at your local hardware or discount store. Don’t worry — properly installed, window plastic is essentially invisible. Adding a buffer against drafts and extra still air space can give a nice boost to your home’s ability to hold heat.
Save even more by hiring a pro to install a high-tech “low-e” film directly to the window glass.
If your windows are old, consider investing in a set of efficient windows — which qualify for a federal tax credit covering 30% of the cost, up to $1,500.
10. Use an Energy Monitor
Measure your way to savings with an energy monitor (pictured is the TED, The Energy Detective, which starts at $139). Such a device indicates household electrical usage in real time and projects your monthly bill. Research has found that such info leads consumers to reduce their electricity consumption significantly.
In fact, according to the company you’ll save 15%-20% on each bill, which would amount to hundreds of dollars a year. By seeing exactly how much each appliance or activity costs, you’ll start seeing easy ways to cut waste.
Go a step further and ask your local utility if it’s making smart meters available in your area, as part of recent federal smart grid investments.
11. Use Caulking and Weatherstriping
Simple leaks can sap home energy efficiency by 5% to 30% a year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. That means it pays to seal up gaps with caulking and weatherstripping.
Take a close look at places where two different building materials meet, such as corners, around chimneys, where pipes or wires exit and along the foundation. Use the incense test: carefully (avoiding drapes and other flammables) move a lit stick along walls; where the smoke wavers, you have air sneaking in. And heating or cooling sneaking out.
In another method, have someone on the outside blow a hair dryer around each window while you hold a lighted candle inside. If the candle flickers or goes out, you need to caulk or weather strip around the frame.
Low-income households can qualify for an average of $6,500 worth of weatherization improvements to their homes through government programs administered by each state. Find out about your state’s program by contacting local energy agencies.
12. Put on a Sweater
Make like Jimmy Carter and dress warmer for winter, even inside. Gone are the days (for most of us at least) when we can afford to lounge around in our underwear while it’s frosty outside. Remember what we said about each degree on the thermostat costing you money?
Roughly speaking, a light long-sleeved sweater is worth about 2 degrees in added warmth, while a heavy sweater (even the ugliest of ugly sweaters) adds about 4 degrees. So cozy up and start saving.
13. Boost Insulation
It may not seem sexy, but insulation is one of the best ways to save energy and money at home. It can make a big difference to add more insulation between walls, and make sure your attic floor and basement ceiling are well covered.
The federal government will reimburse you for 30% of the cost, up to $1,500 for highly efficient insulation. (Note: 2011 tax credits are less generous.) Additionally, low-income households can qualify for an average of $6,500 worth of weatherization improvements to their homes through government programs administered by each state. Find out about your state’s program by contacting local energy agencies.
14. Insulate Your Pipes
Pay less for hot water by insulating pipes. That can also help decrease the chance of pipes freezing, which can be disastrous. Check to see if your pipes are warm to the touch. If so, they are good candidates for insulation. (Use the same method to determine if your hot water heater would benefit from some insulation.)
You can get pre-slit pipe foam at most hardware stores. Cut it to size and fasten in place with duct tape. Ideally, choose the insulation with the highest R-value practical, which is a measure of its heat-blocking power. Pipe insulation is often R-3 or, for batt styles that you wrap around, a stronger R-7.
The federal government will reimburse you for 30% of the cost, up to $1,500 for highly efficient insulation. (Note: 2011 tax credits are less generous.) Additionally, low-income households can qualify for an average of $6,500 worth of weatherization improvements to their homes through government programs administered by each state. Find out about your state’s program by contacting contacting local agencies and utilities.
15. Seal Those Ducts
Moving even deeper into your home’s infrastructure … one encounters ductwork. Studies show 10% to 30% of heated (or cooled) air in an average system escapes from ducts.
Therefore, it could pay to hire a professional technician to come out and test your duct system, and fix any problems. Properly sealing ducts can save the average home up to $140 annually, according to the American Solar Energy Society. Plus, you’ll have better protection against mold and dust.
Many utilities offer incentive programs for duct improvement. Be wary of “duct cleaning” services, however; absent an air quality problem, most homes don’t need their ducts cleaned.
Additionally, low-income households can qualify for an average of $6,500 worth of weatherization improvements to their homes through government programs administered by each state. Find out about your state’s program by contacting local energy agencies.
16. Take Advantage of Tax Credits
A host of lucrative tax credits can help homeowners install renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
Various local, state and federal incentives exist to encourage the use of efficient windows and doors, insulation, roofing, HVAC (including geothermal ground source heat pumps) water heaters (including solar water heaters) and alternative energy technologies, like solar power, geothermal heating and cooling, biomass stoves, small wind turbines and even fuel cells.
Learn about local incentives by searching this Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.
Learn more about geothermal heating and cooling from Climate Master, one of The Daily Green’s past sponsors.
17. Choose the Right Contractor
To choose which project to tackle first, it may help to try perform your own energy audit, or, if some of these improvements prove to be a little ambitious for you, hire an expert. But how do you get someone who shares your values?
Green building pros are setting up shop all across the country, so they’re getting easier to find. The Department of Energy certifies Energy Star home performance contractors, who are trained to improve energy efficiency in residential homes. (Be careful: many state and federal incentives require that the work be done by a certified contractor — so check the rules before hiring anyone.) Ask potential contractors about their interest in and experience with going green, and find out if they are approved for work that qualifies for a green home label.
18. Get Creative and Go Alternative
Various local, state and federal incentives exist to encourage the use of alternative energy technologies, like solar panels, geothermal heating and cooling, biomass stoves, small wind turbines and even fuel cells — all of which require a front-end investment that typically pays itself off in energy savings over a number of years.
Whereas most incentives for energy efficiency improvements are capped at $1,500 — incentives for most household alternative energies cover fully 30% of the cost of, with no cap. (Learn more about geothermal heating and cooling from Climate Master, one of The Daily Green’s sponsors.)
Or, you can get creative. Tired of paying to chill food when it’s cold outside? Take advantage of natural cool air by rigging up an ambient air refrigerator (pictured here) on the side of your dwelling. The process is more simple than you might think. You just need some wood, insulation and a couple of computer fans. Get all the details for your own super fridge here.
19. Upgrade to an Efficient Furnace
Thankfully it’s not something you have to do every year (or even every decade), but if your furnace is old you could save a lot of money in the long run (and improve your home’s value) by upgrading to a new unit.
Make it an Energy Star-certified furnace and you’ll save 15% to 20% versus standard new models. You could save 50% or more compared with many old furnaces still in operation. Be sure to take advantage of federal tax credits for new furnaces, which can cover 30% of the cost, up to $1,500.
You’ve probably noticed that green is everywhere these days–in the news, politics, fashion, and even technology. You can hardly escape it on the Internet, and now with the Planet Green TV network, you can even enjoy eco-friendly entertainment 24 hours a day. That’s all great as far as we’re concerned, but with a million messages and ideas coming at us from all sides, it can be easy to get caught up in the quotidian stuff–switching to organic foods, turning down the thermostat, recycling, say — without thinking about the big picture of how your actions stack up. Worse, you could even be suffering from a little green “fatigue” — that is, tuning out the green messages due to their ubiquity.
While it’s easy to get overwhelmed, it’s also simple to begin making a positive impact. Since it’s helpful to understand the big picture when it comes to setting to smaller goals, we’ve adjusted our focus for this guide–a departure from out typical “how to go green” content, which typically tackles very specific topics such as kitchens, cars, or pets — to take a broader look at the reasons behind why we should go green.
As globalization makes the world become smaller, it becomes increasingly easy to see how the lives of people (and plants and animals and ecosystems) everywhere are closely synced up with one another. So toys made in China can affect the quality of life in Europe, pesticides used in Argentina can affect the health of people in the U.S., and greenhouse gas emissions from Australia can affect a diminishing rainforest in Brazil.
The truth is that everything single thing we do every day has an impact on the planet — good or bad. The good news is that as an individual you have the power to control most of your choices and, therefore, the impact you create: from where you live to what you buy, eat, and use to light your home to where and how you vacation, to how you shop or vote, you can have global impact. For example, did you know that 25 percent of Western pharmaceuticals are derived from flora that come from the Amazon rainforest? And that less that one percent of these tropical trees and plants have been tested by scientists? These numbers suggest that we all have a large (and growing) personal stake in the health and vitality of places far and near. In addition to protecting biodiversity (and inspiring medicine), rainforests are also excellent carbon sinks. Bottom line: It benefits everyone on the planet to help keep our wild spaces alive and growing.
But embracing a greener lifestyle isn’t just about helping to preserve equatorial rain forests, it can also mean improving your health, padding your bank account, and, ultimately, improving your overall quality of life. All that and you can save furry animals, too? Why wouldn’t anyone want to green? Keep reading for all the important, big-picture details.
|Why Go Green? Top Ten Tips||Further Reading on Why to Go Green|
|Why to Go Green: By the Numbers||Why to Go Green: Getting Techie|
|Why to Go Green: Where to Get More|
|Why to Go Green: From the Archives|
Why Go Green? Top Ten Tips
- Real food is fuel for the body — and the planet.By following the green eaters’ mantra — eat seasonal, local, organic foods — you can enjoy fresher, tastier foods and improve your personal health. According to one study, organic milk has 68 percent more beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids than conventional milk. Making green food choices also has global consequences. Buying local means supporting the local economy and reducing the greenhouse gas emissions required to get food from its origin to your plate. Buying fresh food means reducing packaging and energy used for processing. Choosing organic foods means helping promote organic agriculture and responsible land use. To learn more check out How to Go Green: Eating.
- The average woman absorbs more than 4 pounds of cosmetics during her lifetime. Guys, you?re not off the hook.Your skin — the body’s largest organ — absorbs up to 60 percent of the products you put on it every day, from soaps to shampoos to sunscreens. Considering that most of us use about 10 different products daily?that can really add up. Choosing green personal care products often means using plant-based ingredients in place of petrochemicals, preventing these chemicals from being absorbed into your skin. Learn how to keep your grooming regimen on the level with our How to Go Green: Women’s Personal Care guide and Know Your Cosmetics Ingredients: Top Ingredients to Avoid.
- Making stuff takes lots (and lots and lots) of energy.Every object you own — your furniture, your clothing, your beer cans, your stuff — comes from somewhere; every object has an environmental impact. Nothing simply comes from “the store.” To help mitigate the footprint of your material life, choose goods made from green (or greener) materials, such as sustainably harvested wood, organic cotton, or repurposed and recycled materials. Your choices will help protect forests, habitat, clean water and biodiversity; ensure sustainable land-use practices; and reduce the amount of waste clogging up our landfills. Buying less stuff and second-hand stuff helps achieve this goal, too. See our How to Go Green: Furniture, and BuyGreen Guides for more info on sourcing these products.
- Clean, renewable power is already available to everyone.We use electricity to power our lights, computers, and televisions, but what happens before you flip the switch? Your electricity has to come from somewhere; more than half America’s comes from coal-burning power plants, which also happen to be the country’s largest source of air pollution. By signing up for a renewable energy program through your local utility, generating your own power, or purchasing renewable energy credits (also known as “green tags”), you contribute to our collective capacity for generating more clean power from wind, solar, and other sources and you help reduce demand for energy from more polluting sources. Learn more about how to make your electrical footprint lighter in our How to Go Green: Electricity guide.
- Better transportation means less global warming.Anytime you choose to walk, ride a bike, or take public transportation, you reduce (or totally eliminate) the carbon dioxide and particulate emissions created by driving a gas- or diesel-powered car. You’ll help slow global warming and help stave off our date with peak oil. Choosing greener options ? such as a train over air travel ? for long-distance trips can immensely reduce your carbon footprint. Get to the nitty-gritty in our How to Go Green: Cars and How To Go Green: Public Transportation guides.
- Nature Recycles Everything. So Should People.Making proper use of the blue recycling bin has become an iconic action. Reducing the amount of stuff we consume is the first step (and the first word in the mantra reduce-reuse-recycle), finding constructive uses for “waste” materials is the second. Why? Nothing is ever really thrown “away” — it all has to go somewhere. By recycling and reusing, we reduce the amount of waste that sits in landfills (where even biodegradable products often can?t break due to lack or oxygen and sunlight). Recycling materials also saves energy compared to using virgin materials to create new products. Some materials, like aluminum and glass, can even be recycled without being “downcycled,” or turned into a product of lesser quality. See our How to Go Green: Recycling guide for more details.
- Your clothing choices impact more than just your appearance.Making clothing involves a large amount of materials, energy, and labor?including the pesticides used to grow crops for textiles, the dyes and water used to color them, and conditions under which laborers work. By choosing eco-friendly clothing ?- say, purchasing organic over conventional cotton, one of the world’s most chemically dependent crops, you also choose a better product that is easier on the soil and groundwater. How you care for your clothes ?- using cold water in the washing machine, eco-friendly detergents, and line-drying (at least part of the time) ?- can all reduce the impact of your wardrobe. Wearing second-hand styles helps diverts traffic to landfills, and in some cases ?- perhaps undurprisingly — can be 95 percent more efficient that buying new. Learn more about greener choices in our How to Go Green: Wardrobe and Laundry guides.
- Water is not a renewable resource.Clean water is perhaps the planet’s most precious resource, and, with the increasing effects of global climate change, for many regions across the globe, our ability to have enough high-quality H20 on hand could likely to change in the near future. Being water conscious helps reduce strain on municipal treatment systems and ensures there’s enough to go around. By shifting away from bottled water, we can reduce global greenhouse gas emissions (from shipping), the energy required to produce (petroleum-derived) plastic, and the volume of waste trucked to our landfills (from empty bottles). Have a peek at our How to Go Green: Water Guide for more details.
- Greener goods are more humane.Just as its required materials and energy, all “stuff” requires another common resource: the human kind. If you opt for green and ethical goods, you are often supporting local and global craftsmen and communities. Supporting “Fair Trade” products and fair labor practices ensures that goods– from coffee to clothing ? were not born in a sweatshop. Buying goods made in the U.S.A. (and preferably purchased nearby where they were made, which cuts down on transportation costs) means production practices are governed by strict labor laws. Read the How to Go Green: Wardrobe and Coffee & Tea guides for more.
- There’s nothing corny ’bout peace, love, and understanding.When Dr. Wangari Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, the awarding committee recognized her accomplishments by saying, “Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment.” Maathai, the founder of the Green Belt Movement (one of Planet Green’s NGO partners), has helped the world connect the dots between women’s rights, sustainable development, democracy, and world peace — get the details in the TreeHugger Radio interview with Maathai. The connection between peace and the environment has been cemented by Nobel Prize Laureate Al Gore and the IPCC, who have driven home the points that global climate change is an issue of science, technology, human behavior, ethics and peace, and that one person’s actions can truly make a difference. Equating the two — peace and the environment — allows us to understand the big picture and the manner in which we’re all connected.
Why to Go Green: By the Numbers
- 1 pound per hour: the amount of carbon dioxide that is saved from entering the atmosphere for every kilowatt-hour of renewable energy produced.
- 60 percent: the reduction in developmental problems in children in China who were born after a coal-burning power plant closed in 2006.
- 35 percent: the amount of coal’s energy that is actually converted to electricity in a coal-burning power plant. The other two-thirds is lost to heat.
- 2.5 percent: the percentage of humans’ carbon dioxide emission produced by air travel now, still making it the largest transportation-related greenhouse gas emitter.
- 5 percent: the percentage of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions expected to be produced by air travel by the year 2050.
- 1.5 acres: the amount of rainforest lost every second to land development and deforestation, with tremendous losses to habitat and biodiversity.
- 137: the number of plant, animal and insect species lost every day to rainforest deforestation, equating to roughly 50,000 species per year.
- 4 pounds, 6 ounces: the amount of cosmetics that can be absorbed through the skin of a woman who wears makeup every day, over the period of one year.
- 61 percent: the percentage of women’s lipstick, out of the 33 tested, found to contain lead in a test by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
- 36: the number of U.S. states that are anticipating local, regional or statewide water shortages by 2013.
- 1 out of 100: the number of U.S. households that would need to be retrofitted with water-efficient appliances to realize annual savings of 100 million kilowatt-hours of electricity and 80,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
- 3 trillion: the number of gallons of water, along with $18 billion, the U.S. would save each year if every household invested in water-saving appliances.
- 64 million tons: the amount of material prevented from going to landfill or incineration thanks to recycling and composting in 1999.
- 95 percent: the amount of energy saved by recycling an aluminum can versus creating the can from virgin aluminum. That means you can make 20 cans out of recycled material with the same amount of energy it takes to make one can out of new material. Energy savings in one year alone are enough to light a city the size of Pittsburgh for six years.
- 113,204: the number, on average, of aluminum cans recycled each minute of each day.
- 3: the number of hours a television set can run on the energy saved from recycling just one aluminum can.
- 40 percent: the percentage of energy saved by recycling newsprint over producing it from virgin materials.
Sources: Consumer Reports, Environmental Health Perspectives, Raintree Nutrition, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and EPA Water and EPA Recycling, Worldwatch Institute, Energy Information Administration, Ready, Set, Green, Earth911.org, The Telegraph, Yahoo! NewsBack To Top Λ
Why to Go Green: Getting Techie
A biodiversity hotspot is a bio-geographic region with a significant concentration of biodiversity that is threatened with destruction. To qualify as a biodiversity hotspot, a region must contain at least 1,500 species of vascular plants as endemics — species not naturally found elsewhere — and it has to have lost at least 70 percent of its original habitat. Around the world, at least 25 areas qualify under this definition, with nine others possible candidates. These sites alone support nearly 60 percent of the world’s plant, bird, mammal, reptile, and amphibian species, with a very high share of our planet’s endemic species.
Shifted cultivators is the term used for people who have moved into rainforest areas and established small-scale farming operations, following roads built by loggers or other resource-extractors into already damaged rainforest areas. The additional damage they are causing is extensive. Shifted cultivators are currently being blamed for 60 percent of tropical forest loss. The reason these people are referred to as “shifted” cultivators is that most of them people have been forced off their own land. For example, in Guatemala, rainforest land was cleared for coffee and sugar plantations. The indigenous people had their land stolen by government and corporations. They became ‘shifted cultivators’, moving into rainforest areas of which they had no previous knowledge in order to sustain themselves and their families.
Upcycling is the use of waste materials to provide useful products. Ideally, it is a reinvestment in the environment and embodiment of the notion that while using resources one is also contributing to them and their value. Some of our favorite examples include a collection of rulers turned into a chair, and plastic gift cards tastefully upcycled into some chic coasters.
Downcycling is the recycling of one material into a material of lesser quality. The example used most often is the recycling of plastics, which, because the recycling process breaks the polymer chains, turns them into lower grade plastics. Why? When different kinds of plastics — like #1 PET and #4 LDPE — are mixed together and melted, the mixture undergoes something called phase separation, roughly akin to the separation of oil and water, and it sets in those layers. The resulting plastic is structurally weaker than its original form, and can only be used in a limited number of ways. See Get to Know Your Recyclable Plastics by Number to learn more about plastic recycling.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been made famous by their occurrence in lots of different fish, and they have a variety of handy health benefits, including everything from improved cardiovascular health and reduced symptoms of arthritis to help treating depression and anxiety. One study even found that regular doses of Omega 3′s reduced the occurrence of death, cardiovascular death and sudden cardiac death by 20 percent, 30 percent and 45 percent respectively.
Negative peace is the absence of physical violence such as war or environmental destruction. Expressed as a presence rather than absence, negative peace can be defined as the presence of norms, policies, structures and practices to prevent or end physical violence that undermines human life and Earth’s functioning integrity.Positive peace is the absence of structural violence or systemic injustice. Positive peace can be defined as the presence of norms, policies, systems, and practices that respect human dignity, meet human needs, and uphold social and environmental justice and the sustainability of human and nature communities. Both negative and positive peace imply a commitment to nonviolence in human interactions within the human community and within the larger community of life. Learn more from CommonDreams.org.
Why to Go Green: Where to Get More
- Ready, Set, Green by Graham Hill and Meaghan O’Neill
- Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough and Michael Braungart
- The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
- Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
- An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore
- Natural Capitalism by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins,
- The Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken
- Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
- Unbowed: A Memior by Wangari Maathai
- Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash by Elizabeth Royte
- Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature by Janine Benyus
- Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble by Lester Brown
- Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, Third Edition by Lester Brown
Planet Green’s NGO Partners
- Earth Pledge
- Earth Watch Institute
- Environmental Media Association
- Global Green USA
- Global Inheritance
- Green Belt Movement
- National Wildlife Federation
- The Nature Conservancy
- Ocean Conservancy
Other Great Green Organizations
- National Resource Defense Council
- Fair Trade Federation
- Alliance for Climate Protection
- American Public Transit Association
- U.S. Green Building Council
- Forest Stewardship Council
- National Wildlife Federation
- Environmental Working Group
- Environmental Protection Agency
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory
- The National Recycling Coalition
How can we live lightly on the Earth and save money at the same time? Staff members at the Worldwatch Institute, a global environmental organization, share ideas on how to GO GREEN and SAVE GREEN at home and at work. To learn more about Worldwatch’s efforts to create am environmentally sustainable society that meets human needs, sign up here for weekly e-mail updates.
Climate change is in the news. It seems like everyone’s “going green.” We’re glad you want to take action, too. Luckily, many of the steps we can take to stop climate change can make our lives better. Our grandchildren-and their children-will thank us for living more sustainably. Let’s start now.
We’ve partnered with the Million Car Carbon Campaign to help you find ways to save energy and reduce your carbon footprint. This campaign is uniting conscious consumers around the world to prevent the emissions-equivalent of 1 million cars from entering the atmosphere each year.
Keep reading for 10 simple things you can do today to help reduce your environmental impact, save money, and live a happier, healthier life. For more advice, purchase State of the World 2010 – Transforming Cultures: From Consumerism to Sustainability, a report from 60 renowned researchers and practitioners on how to reorient cultures toward sustainability.
- Save energy to save money.
- Set your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and a few degrees higher in the summer to save on heating and cooling costs.
- Install compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) when your older incandescent bulbs burn out.
- Unplug appliances when you’re not using them. Or, use a “smart” power strip that senses when appliances are off and cuts “phantom” or “vampire” energy use.
- Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible. As much as 85 percent of the energy used to machine-wash clothes goes to heating the water.
- Use a drying rack or clothesline to save the energy otherwise used during machine drying.
- Save water to save money.
- Take shorter showers to reduce water use. This will lower your water and heating bills too.
- Install a low-flow showerhead. They don’t cost much, and the water and energy savings can quickly pay back your investment.
- Make sure you have a faucet aerator on each faucet. These inexpensive appliances conserve heat and water, while keeping water pressure high.
- Plant drought-tolerant native plants in your garden. Many plants need minimal watering. Find out which occur naturally in your area.
- Less gas = more money (and better health!).
- Walk or bike to work. This saves on gas and parking costs while improving your cardiovascular health and reducing your risk of obesity.
- Consider telecommuting if you live far from your work. Or move closer. Even if this means paying more rent, it could save you money in the long term.
- Lobby your local government to increase spending on sidewalks and bike lanes. With little cost, these improvements can pay huge dividends in bettering your health and reducing traffic.
- Eat smart.
- If you eat meat, add one meatless meal a week. Meat costs a lot at the store-and it’s even more expensive when you consider the related environmental and health costs.
- Buy locally raised, humane, and organic meat, eggs, and dairy whenever you can. Purchasing from local farmers keeps money in the local economy.
- Watch videos about why local food and sustainable seafood are so great.
- Whatever your diet, eat low on the food chain [pdf]. This is especially true for seafood.
- Skip the bottled water.
- Use a water filter to purify tap water instead of buying bottled water. Not only is bottled water expensive, but it generates large amounts of container waste.
- Bring a reusable water bottle, preferably aluminum rather than plastic, with you when traveling or at work.
- Check out this short article for the latest on bottled water trends.
- Think before you buy.
- Go online to find new or gently used secondhand products. Whether you’ve just moved or are looking to redecorate, consider a service like craigslist or FreeSharing to track down furniture, appliances, and other items cheaply or for free.
- Check out garage sales, thrift stores, and consignment shops for clothing and other everyday items.
- Watch a video about what happens when you buy things. Your purchases have a real impact, for better or worse.
- Borrow instead of buying.
- Borrow from libraries instead of buying personal books and movies. This saves money, not to mention the ink and paper that goes into printing new books.
- Share power tools and other appliances. Get to know your neighbors while cutting down on the number of things cluttering your closet or garage.
- Buy smart.
- Buy in bulk. Purchasing food from bulk bins can save money and packaging.
- Wear clothes that don’t need to be dry-cleaned. This saves money and cuts down on toxic chemical use.
- Invest in high-quality, long-lasting products. You might pay more now, but you’ll be happy when you don’t have to replace items as frequently (and this means less waste!).
- Keep electronics out of the trash.
- Keep your cell phones, computers, and other electronics as long as possible.
- Donate or recycle them responsibly when the time comes. E-waste contains mercury and other toxics and is a growing environmental problem.
- Recycle your cell phone.
- Ask your local government to set up an electronics recycling and hazardous waste collection event.
- Make your own cleaning supplies.
- The big secret: you can make very effective, non-toxic cleaning products whenever you need them. All you need are a few simple ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, lemon, and soap.
- Making your own cleaning products saves money, time, and packaging-not to mention your indoor air quality.
- Bonus Item!
We hear a lot of talk about climate change and the devastating effects carbon pollution is having on the planet. From devastating storms to food insecurity caused by altered weather patterns, there’s no questioning that carbon pollution is leaving its toll on the planet.
It can be difficult, however, to figure out what you can do to help. Melting icebergs and massive tornadoes are forces much larger than one individual. That said, there are various actions you can take every day that will help keep the planet healthy for generations to come.
As part of our recognition of the Climate Reality Project‘s third annual 24 Hours of Reality, this year themed “The Cost of Carbon,” we’ve come up with a list of 10 actions you can take to reduce your carbon footprint.
The 24 Hours of Reality broadcast streams live from Los Angeles on Oct. 22 and 23, beginning at 2 p.m. ET on Tuesday. The program will travel around the globe exploring the unique challenges and devastation experienced by each of the six habitable continents: Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Europe and Australia.
Mashable will also be hosting a Meetup to explore what we can do to reduce the impact of carbon on the planet.
1. Change Your Lightbulbs
How often do you think about your lightbulbs? Chances are, not very often. An easy fix you can make that will help the planet every day is to switch all of the lights in your house to compact fluorescent bulbs. One bulb can reduce up to 1,300 pounds of carbon dioxide pollution during its lifetime. And if every house in the U.S. switched its bulbs, we could reduce the electricity spent on lighting by one half. Worth climbing up that ladder and whipping out your screwdriver, huh?
2. Unplug Your Gadgets
Completely powering off your gadgets isn’t just good for your devices, it’s good for the planet. What’s even better is unplugging your chargers when they’re not in use. If you’re someone who always leaves your phone charger dangling from the wall, doesn’t power off your cable box and forgets to put your computer on sleep mode, many of your tech behaviors can use some adapting. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, adopting these practices can save you $100 each year on your energy bill.
3. Take Public Transit or Carpool
According to The Rideshare Company, the average American spends 18 days of the year in a car, each car emitting its own weight in carbon dioxide. The benefits of carpooling are quite simple to see. One car uses less gas than two and much less than three. Similarly, riding the bus or train to work helps to slash down the number of cards on the road. Still looking to organize the perfect carpool? These apps can help you set one up.
4. Choose a Laptop Over a Desktop
Laptops, unlike desktop computers, are designed to be energy-efficient, because battery life is a major factor to laptop design. According to Energy Star, a laptop can be up to 80% more energy-efficient than a desktop. Energy-efficient LCD screens, hard drives, CPUs and adaptors all factor into making makes laptops much better tools for the planet.
5. Filter Your Own Water
If you still buy packaged bottled water, you’re doing the planet a major disservice. Beyond the environmental toll of the plastic waste from each 16 ounce serving, consider just how far your water was transported before you bought it in the supermarket. If you live in most western countries, tap water is perfectly suitable for consumption, especially if you use a filtration pitcher.
6. Adjust Your Curtains and Thermostat
Simple adjustments to moderate the temperature in your house can make a big difference for the planet. If you keep your house two degrees warmer in the summer and two degrees cooler in the winter you can save big bucks on your energy bills. Similar, turning off your thermostat while you’re not in your home can save you 15% on your energy bill. Check out the U.S. Department of Energy for more thermostat tips.
Similarly, keep your curtains open during the day in the winter to let in sunlight, and close them at night to keep in warmth. During the summer, close the curtains during the day to keep out extra sunlight and open them at night to moderate the temperature, or even open them to let in a cool breeze. There are several energy-efficient curtains on the market that use insulation to further monitor your home’s temperature.
7. Buy Local Food
Love eating watermelon year-round? That’s great, but chances are, it isn’t grown anywhere near where you live during the winter. Purchasing foods that are both in season and grown locally can drastically cut down the carbon emissions of the vehicles used to transport your winter watermelon across the country. According to the Worldwatch Institute, food travels 1,500 miles on average between the farm and the supermarket. We bet you can find foods grown closer to your home if you try to find them.
8. Plant a Tree
This classic way to give back to the environment is one of the most efficient ways you can cut your carbon footprint. Trees provide shade and oxygen while consuming carbon dioxide. According to the Urban Forestry Network, a single young tree absorbs 13 pounds of carbon dioxide each year. That amount will climb up to 48 pounds annually as trees mature. Just one 10-year-old tree releases enough oxygen into the air to support two human beings.
9. Print or Digital, Be Mindful Reading the News
People have been debating the environmental costs of consuming news online versus reading the print paper since the beginning of the digital media revolution. Newspapers, according to one study, cause roughly their weight in carbon emissions. That said, surfing the web expends energy, the amount of which varies based on the device you use.
The best policy to adopt when it comes to news consumption is to be mindful. If you subscribe to a print paper, be sure to recycle your paper every day. If online news is your preferred medium, chose an unplugged laptop or e-reader, rather than a plugged-in device for the majority of your browsing time.
10. Chose Energy-Efficient Kitchen Appliances
Though not the classiest option, microwaving your food is faster and often uses less energy than the stove. If a meal takes 15 minutes to cook in the microwave versus one hour in the stove, you’ll save roughly 20 cents off your energy bill each time. The real task at which microwaves excel is bringing water to a boil — and you won’t even sacrifice taste.
If you are using the stove, your food will cook faster on the upper shelf of the oven because heat rises.
Estimate the energy consumption and cost to operate an appliance when making a purchase. Investing in an energy-efficient product may save you money in the long run. | Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.com/wh1600.
If you’re trying to decide whether to invest in a more energy-efficient appliance or you’d like to determine your electricity loads, you may want to estimate appliance energy consumption.
Formula for Estimating Energy Consumption
Use this formula to estimate an appliance’s energy use:
(Wattage × Hours Used Per Day) ÷ 1000 = Daily Kilowatt-hour (kWh) consumption
1 kilowatt (kW) = 1,000 Watts
Multiply this by the number of days you use the appliance during the year for the annual consumption in kWh per year.
Estimating Annual Cost to Run an Appliance
(200 Watts × 4 hours/day × 120 days/year) ÷ 1000
= 96 kWh × 11 cents/kWh
Personal Computer and Monitor:
[(120 Watts + 150 Watts) × 4 hours/day × 365 days/year] ÷ 1000
= 394 kWh × 11 cents/kWh
You can usually find the wattage of most appliances stamped on the bottom or back of the appliance, or on its nameplate. The wattage listed is the maximum power drawn by the appliance. Since many appliances have a range of settings (for example, the volume on a radio), the actual amount of power consumed depends on the setting used at any one time.
If the wattage is not listed on the appliance, you can still estimate it by finding the current draw (in amperes) and multiplying that by the voltage used by the appliance. Most appliances in the United States use 120 volts. Larger appliances, such as clothes dryers and electric cooktops, use 240 volts. The amperes might be stamped on the unit in place of the wattage. If not, find a clamp-on ammeter — an electrician’s tool that clamps around one of the two wires on the appliance — to measure the current flowing through it. You can obtain this type of ammeter in stores that sell electrical and electronic equipment. Take a reading while the device is running; this is the actual amount of current being used at that instant.
When measuring the current drawn by a motor, note that the meter will show about three times more current in the first second that the motor starts than when it is running smoothly.
Many appliances continue to draw a small amount of stand-by power when they are switched “off.” These “phantom loads” occur in most appliances that use electricity, such as VCRs, televisions, stereos, computers, and kitchen appliances. Most phantom loads will increase the appliance’s energy consumption a few watt-hours. These loads can be avoided by unplugging the appliance or using a power strip and using the switch on the power strip to cut all power to the appliance.
Typical Wattages of Various Appliances
- Aquarium = 50–1210 Watts
- Clock radio = 10
- Coffee maker = 900–1200
- Clothes washer = 350–500
- Clothes dryer = 1800–5000
- Dishwasher = 1200–2400 (using the drying feature greatly increases energy consumption)
- Dehumidifier = 785
- Electric blanket (Single/Double) = 60 / 100
Ceiling = 65–175
Window = 55–250
Furnace = 750
Whole house = 240–750
- Hair dryer = 1200–1875
- Heater (portable) = 750–1500
- Clothes iron = 1000–1800
- Microwave oven = 750–1100
- Personal computer
CPU – awake / asleep = 120 / 30 or less
Monitor – awake / asleep = 150 / 30 or less
Laptop = 50
- Radio (stereo) = 70–400
- Refrigerator (frost-free, 16 cubic feet) = 725
- Televisions (color)
- 19″ = 65–110
- 27″ = 113
- 36″ = 133
- 53″ – 61″ Projection = 170
- Flat screen = 120
- Toaster = 800–1400
- Toaster oven = 1225
- VCR/DVD = 17–21 / 20–25
- Vacuum cleaner = 1000–1440
- Water heater (40 gallon) = 4500–5500
- Water pump (deep well) = 250–1100
- Water bed (with heater, no cover) = 120–380
Making a few small changes in your home and yard can reduce greenhouse gases and save you money. Explore our list of 10 simple steps you can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions:
1. Change five lights
Replace your five most frequently used light fixtures or the lightbulbs in them with ENERGY STAR® qualified products and you will help the environment while saving $70 a year on energy bills. ENERGY STAR lighting provides bright, warm light; generates 75% less heat; uses about 75% less energy than standard lighting; and lasts from 10 to 50 times longer.
2. Look for ENERGY STAR
When buying new products for your home, look for EPA’s ENERGY STAR label to help you make the most energy-efficient decision. You can find the ENERGY STAR label on more than 60 kinds of products, including appliances, lighting, heating and cooling equipment, electronics, and office equipment. Over their lifetime, products in your home that have earned the ENERGY STAR label can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 130,000 pounds and save you $11,000 on energy bills.
3. Heat and cool smartly
Heating and cooling accounts for almost half your energy bill–about $1,000 a year! There is a lot you can do to drive down this cost. Simple steps like changing air filters regularly, properly using a programmable thermostat, and having your heating and cooling equipment maintained annually by a licensed contractor can save energy and increase comfort, while helping to protect the environment. Depending on where you live, you can cut your annual energy bill by more than $200 by replacing your old heating and cooling equipment with ENERGY STAR-qualified equipment.
4. Seal and insulate your home
Reduce air leaks and stop drafts by using caulk, weather stripping, and insulation to seal your home’s envelope and add more insulation to your attic to block out heat and cold. A knowledgeable homeowner or skilled contractor can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs and significantly enhance home comfort with comprehensive sealing and insulating measures.
5. Reduce, reuse, recycle
Reducing, reusing, and recycling in your home helps conserve energy and reduces pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from resource extraction, manufacturing, and disposal. If there is a recycling program in your community, recycle your newspapers, beverage containers, paper, and other goods. Also, composting your food and yard waste reduces the amount of garbage that you send to landfills and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Visit EPA’s Individual WAste Reduction Model (iWARM) to learn about the energy benefits of recycling, rather than landfilling, common waste products.
6. Use water efficiently
It takes lots of energy to pump, treat, and heat water, so saving water reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Saving water around the home is simple. Three percent of the nation’s energy is used to pump and treat water so conserving water conserves energy that reduces greenhouse gas pollution. Reduce the amount of waste you generate and the water you consume whenever possible. Pursue simple water-saving actions such as not letting the water run while shaving or brushing teeth and save money while conserving water by using products with the WaterSense label. Did you know a leaky toilet can waste 200 gallons of water per day? Repair all toilet and faucet leaks right away. Running your dishwasher only with a full load can save 100 pounds of carbon dioxide and $40 per year. Be smart when irrigating your lawn or landscape. Only water when needed, and do it during the coolest part of the day; early morning is best. See EPA’s WaterSense site for more water saving tips.
7. Be green in your yard
Composting your food and yard waste reduces the amount of garbage that you send to landfills and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. EPA’s GreenScapes program provides tips on how to improve your lawn or garden while also helping the environment.
8. Purchase green power
Power your home by purchasing green power. Green power is environmentally friendly electricity that is generated from renewable energy sources such as wind and the sun. There are two ways to use green power: You can buy green power, or you can modify your house to generate your own green power. Buying green power is easy. It offers a number of environmental and economic benefits over conventional electricity, including lower greenhouse gas emissions, and it helps increase clean energy supply. There are a number of steps you can take to create a greener home, including installing solar panels and researching incentives for renewable energy in your state.
9. Calculate your household’s carbon footprint
Use EPA’s Household Greenhouse Gas Emissions Calculator to estimate your household greenhouse gas emissions resulting from energy use, transportation, and waste disposal. This tool helps you understand where your emissions come from and identify ways to reduce them.
10. Spread the word
Tell family and friends that energy efficiency is good for their homes and good for the environment because it lowers greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. Tell five people and together we can help our homes help us all.