Many things can be done around the home to make it more environmentally friendly. Mother Earth is good to us and it's only fair we give something back by looking after her better. Living in a more environmentally friendly way doesn't mean we have to start growing all our own food or slapping solar panels on the roof, (although these will really help!), even small improvements make a big difference when they're all added up.
One of the simplest, yet most effective ways of reducing energy use in the home, is by improving insulation. Cold drafts enter the home through gaps by windows and doors, and warm air escapes by the same route. Older houses are the biggest culprits in the war against cold drafts, but cheap and effective solutions exist that will soon have the place warming up nicely. Double glazing is an unbeatable way of slashing heat loss at windows, but sadly it isn't the budget option. For home insulation at a more modest price, take a trip to the DIY store for insulating tape to seal up all the gaps in window frames and above and below doorways – the difference will be felt almost immediately. The most attractive insulation fix is installing a new window treatment. Whether it's sleek custom shutters fitted to the interior of the frame or heavy drapes to block out the cold, both options will provide effective insulation.
The heat of the moment
Get into the habit of turning the heating thermostat down slightly in cold weather. A matter of one or two degrees is hardly perceptible to inhabitants, but it shaves a load off energy bills. Programmable thermostats take the guesswork out of it and make all the adjustments; so it is well worth the investment in terms of energy saved. If the heating comes from a furnace, ensure the filter is cleaned out monthly for optimum performance. Today, furnace technology has advanced enormously so if a replacement is planned, check out what's on offer as there could be savings of around 25 percent to fuel bills.
Are there a lot of old, creaking appliances in the home that should be retired? Electrical appliances generate about 18 percent of a home’s energy bill. If those appliances are ancient models functioning on less than 100 percent efficiency, then that is just a waste of money and energy. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends any appliances over 10 years old should be replaced with new models bearing Energy Star ratings.
Sweat the small stuff
Many small changes of behavior can make big differences in greening up the home. Try some of these for starters: Don't buy food contained in excessive packaging, use environmentally friendly cleaning products, switch to low energy light bulbs, share baths or even better take a shower, fit aerators on all faucets, reduce trash by composting organic matter, recycle as much packaging as possible – and that's just the beginning!
A truly modern household should be embracing all of the lessons we have learned about protecting the environment. The good news is, it is not just the environment that's protected; in the long run we'll all save money.
Spring is on its way, and for many people, that means that it’s lawn care season. For people who are serious about their lawns, selecting pesticides can be a difficult business. Pesticides are associated with many dangers of many varieties, and for consumers without formal training in toxicology, it can be tricky to decipher labels and figure out exactly which chemicals are as scary as their names sound.
Luckily, many experts on the subject are more than happy to discuss the safety risks (and benefits) of different pesticides, and the enterprising lawn care lover can find plenty of good information online regarding pesticide issues. Here’s some basic information about pesticides and what everyone should know about them.
Costs to the Environment
Pesticides can pose huge risks to the environment. Ever since the publication of Silent Spring, most members of the public have been aware that pesticide use can have negative consequences on our planet. Pesticides are designed to kill, after all, and chemicals that kill one organism aren’t likely to be good for other organisms with which they interact.
The problem with killing any species is that it will likely have unforeseen impacts. Ecosystems are more complex than most people realize, and killing off a creature have longer term consequences than chemical manufacturers are willing to admit. Species diversity is an essential element of most any ecosystem, and even small disruptions can lead to big problems.
Costs to Your Family’s Health
Pesticides can have nasty effects on the human body, too. Again, pesticides are designed to kill. You wouldn’t want to spread many of these substances across your morning toast, and you won’t want to breathe them into your lungs on a warm spring morning. Don’t neglect your family’s health, or the health of your neighbors; the long-term medical costs will not be worth the minutes you save caring for your grass.
Pesticide use poses risks to all members of your family, no matter the age. Prolonged pesticide exposure has been associated in studies with both Parkinson’s Disease in the elderly and with a myriad of developmental problems in the young. Whether you’re a still-developing nuclear family with small children, or a retired couple looking to live out your years in peace, you should be aware of the dangers to your health presented by pesticides.
Costs to Your Pet’s Health
Unfortunately, pets can’t read. Your family’s chocolate labrador won’t be able to avoid lawns saturated with harsh insect killer unless you physically prevent her from doing so. Pets are among the populations most vulnerable to pesticide hazards, and are liable to simply dig
straight into pesticide-rich soil, or even bottles of chemical themselves, and poison themselves. Do your research and avoid this sad hazard.
Costs to Your Lawn’s Health
Here’s the ultimate irony of pesticide use on lawns: they’re not even good for your lawns, the one thing they’ve been designed to do. Sure, pesticides may give you some control over the patterns in which your grass grows, but grasses have evolved over the millennia in ways that are necessarily designed to please 1950s American aesthetics. A growing number of young people have jettisoned the idea of the buzzcut lawn, preferring the untamed, shaggy style that nature intended.
By Tim Smith
Solar panels harness the sun’s electromagnetic rays, converting them into electricity you can use to power your home. If the environment is a concern to you, getting solar panels is probably an exciting possibility. The concept that you could provide power for yourself with a renewable resource is wonderful, and we all love the idea of saving money. Is the reality of solar power really as great as it sounds?
How much will You Have to Invest?
Solar panels will save you money, but they also require an initial investment. The cost will depend on the size of the system you choose and the demand in your local area. Systems can range from below $10,000 to over $35,000 for a very large home, but the prices are dropping all the time. It’s a good idea to spend some time tracking your energy usage to figure out how big of a system you will need to get.
If you want solar panels but can’t afford a large initial investment, you can purchase a smaller system and go from there. You may not produce enough electricity to cover your entire bill, but even a low-cost system can cut the price quite a bit, especially if you get a lot of sun and are conservative with your energy usage.
How much can You Expect to Save?
Statistics from 2011 showed that homeowners in sunny areas could save up to $35,000 over a 20-year period if they had a full system of solar panels installed. Since then, energy prices have gone up, making the savings even higher today.
Not only will you be saving a lot, but you’ll also be spared the burden of continually rising electricity costs in the future. The sun will always be free, and once you have the technology in place, you can take advantage of that indefinitely. As those who are getting their power from the grid are worrying and complaining about their energy bills, you will be able to sit back and relax.
What About Other Incentives?
If you are a taxpayer in the United States, and you purchase a system of solar panels for your home, a number of different rebates may be available. You will qualify for a 30 percent federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC). If you want to determine how much money you will save with the ITC, take the net cost of your solar installation and subtract what you saved from any rebates you earned. Calculate 30 percent of that amount, and that will be your credit. In 2009, the $2000 limit on this credit was removed, making it possible for homeowners to save even more.
There may also be state and local rebates available to you. The best way to ensure that you qualify is to have your system installed by a team of professionals with a strong knowledge the required codes and regulations. This could possibly save you up to 50 percent of your initial installation cost.
Will Solar Power Pay off in Other Ways?
There is even more good news. In 2011, a group of economists from California gathered statistics that show that solar panels add around $20,000 to the sales price of a home. Homes also sell twice as fast and appreciate at a quicker rate when equipped with a solar-panel system. As energy bills rise, it will become an even more valuable home feature.
On top of all of the money-saving benefits of solar power, there is always the peace of mind that comes from knowing you're doing something wonderful for the environment. Whether you plan to sell your home or keep it in the family for generations to come, solar panels are a great investment in a happy future.
Visit Modernize for more ideas, information, and tips about taking avantage of solar energy.
[Source: This Week Community Paper]
Goodwill Columbus and Ohio State University's Office of Student Life have partnered to give students a way to responsibly dispose of their unwanted materials as the fall semester ends.
The BuckeyeClothesOut encourages students to place clothing, household goods and electronics in one of 24 bins set up on or near campus.
"We always see that students have a lot of things to dispose of at the end of a semester," said Dave Isaacs, manager of communications and media relations at the Office of Student Life. "We're trying to reduce the amount of that material that winds up getting dumped at the landfill."
The President and Provost's Council on Sustainability has approved a goal to divert 90 percent of the university's materials from the landfill by 2030, he said.
For the BuckeyeClothesOut, students are encouraged to place their unwanted items in one of the marked, unmanned donation bins, Isaacs said.
"We've put the bins in many of our residence halls and in other prominent locations on or near campus," he said.
The university has informed students of the project through social media and posting signs around campus, Isaacs said.
"We expect as students complete their final exams and begin leaving campus that we'll start to see a lot of material being put in the bins," he said.
For Goodwill, the partnership will help provide additional items it can sell in its retail stores or recycle, said Tim Salvato, senior vice president of retail operations.
"A lot of the items students will donate will be in good enough condition that we can sell them in our stores," he said. "Electronics that are not salvageable or clothes that have a rip in them, we can still use to recycle."
In 2013, Goodwill's donated-goods retail business generated $9.2 million for its annual budget, Salvato said. Goodwill recycled 5.9 million pounds of donated goods not sold in stores, generating another $1.2 million.
"Put together, those funds represent about 25 percent of our overall budget," he said. "Our retail stores and recycling program help us fulfill our 75-year mission of transforming the lives of individuals with disabilities and other barriers."
Anyone can donate goods to Goodwill at any of its six retail stores and 14 donation centers located throughout central Ohio, Salvato said.
For more information about the donation program and Goodwill's retail stores, visit goodwillcolumbus.org.
For Immediate Release
November 24, 2014
For More Information:
John Ivanic, City Council, 645-6798
Hanna Greer-Brown, Franklin County Board of Commissioners, 525-5848
Councilmember Priscilla Tyson is partnering with the Franklin County Board of Commissioners and Local Matters, a non-profit transforming the Central Ohio food system through food education, to launch the Columbus – Franklin County Food Action Plan, a community effort to create a stronger, more sustainable local food system. Columbus City Council will consider legislation to provide city funding for the plan at its November 24th meeting.
“The Columbus – Franklin County Food Action Plan will help Central Ohioans lead healthier lives by improving their access to quality, affordable foods,” said Councilmember Tyson, chair of the Health and Human Services Committee. “The plan will also help reduce food waste and enhance coordination and communication among existing food resources and agencies in our community.”
The Columbus – Franklin County Food Action Plan will include data collection and the analysis of food supply and demand in Columbus and Franklin County. The plan will incorporate the input of local food experts and stakeholder groups to develop recommendations that will make it easier for Columbus residents to access nutritious foods.
County Commissioner John O’Grady will attend the November 24th Columbus City Council meeting to speak about the need for a comprehensive plan to increase the availability of nutritious food in Central Ohio. Councilmember Tyson will address the Franklin County Board of Commissioners at their November 25th meeting to discuss Council’s goals for the Columbus – Franklin County Food Action Plan.
“The Franklin County Commissioners have long been committed to supporting local food producers, and encouraging the local food movement,” said Commissioner O’Grady. “This partnership resolution to create a Columbus – Franklin County Food Action Plan is the logical next step to help find the gaps in our current food infrastructure, and fill them to strengthen the local food economy as well as improve access to healthy food. It’s a really exciting initiative.”
The Columbus – Franklin County Food Action Plan is a product of planning and community engagement initiated last year by Local Matters to understand the health and food access needs of Columbus neighborhoods. Local Matters’ experience and expertise will help guide the development of the plan, which is expected to be released in the summer of 2016.
“Local Matters has long been working to transform our community’s food system through public education and increased access to healthy, affordable, and sustainable food,” said Local Matters Executive Director Michelle Moskowitz Brown. “The proposed Columbus – Franklin County Food Action Plan represents a great step forward for the local food system in Columbus and Franklin County, and we’re thrilled the city and county have chosen to invest in such a critical initiative.”
Friday, November 14, 6:30 - 8:30 pm
Boline Apothecary - Columbus' Herb Store
4764 N High St, Columbus, OH 43214
Explore all the amazing variety of herbs and learn about their medicinal properties from owner and expert Lily Shahar Kunning. She calls it "Locavore Body Care" and makes every effort to source all products local and organic. Bring your questions for Lily and share your own experiences. All are welcome. Bring a friend! Free! Light refreshments will be served. Please RSVP to participate. You can RSVP via Facebook here ~ via Meetup here ~ and viaemail to Chuck.Lynd@gmail.com. Next to the City Folks Farm Shop, south of Morse Rd.
Sponsored by Simply Living
America Recycles Day is this Saturday, November 15th. Big Green Head encourages folks to take this day to become aware of their waste and find alternative solutions to the landfill. Take advantage of these recycling opportunities this Saturday!
RecycleForce Columbus and Volunteers of America Team Up for America Recycles Day e-Waste Collection Event
Columbus, OH (11.10.14) –RecycleForce Columbus and Volunteers of America (VOA) are teaming-up for an e-Waste collection event to celebrate America Recycles Day. The RecycleForce Columbus e-Waste truck will be at the Volunteers of America store at 3620 Indianola Avenue, Indianola Plaza on Saturday, November 15 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.
“We agree with Keep America Beautiful, the national sponsors of America Recycles Day, when they say ‘there is an urgent and growing need to increase awareness and expand recycling efforts in the area of electronics.’ Even now, more than 80% of obsolete electronics are stored in homes, basements and garages. We are delighted to partner with Volunteers of America on this day. VOA has 11 retail stores located in the Columbus metro area, and this is a good way for them to offer their donors and customers a convenient way to dispose of unwanted consumer electronics in an environmentally sound and secure way,” says Sarah Edwards, President of RecycleForce Columbus.
RecycleForce Columbus is an electronics recycling organization in the Columbus area that provides a pathway for formerly incarcerated men and women to successfully re-integrate into the workforce and become responsible, tax-paying, and productive community members. RecycleForce Columbus offers job placement in comprehensive, environmentally sound and secure end-of-life electronics processing.
“RecycleForce Columbus helps keep electronics out of the waste stream while providing opportunities for people to get valuable on-the-job experience after returning to our community from incarceration”, said Lawrence Hendrix of VOA. “We encourage you to support this organization and help keep the environment clean by dropping off your end-of-life electronics at our Indianola Avenue location or at any Volunteers of America store in the metro area.
RecycleForce Columbus will collect unwanted consumer and business electronic products and equipment, including computers, computer components, *TVs, VCRs, DVD players, telephones, cell phones, PDAs, cameras, chargers, power adapters, printers, copiers, scanners, fax machines, networking equipment (servers, routers, etc.), cable cords and connectors, digital cable boxes, MP3 players (iPODs, etc), video game systems, stereo equipment, audio-video equipment, and small appliances (*dehumidifiers, microwave, fitness equipment, vacuums, etc). Almost anything with a cord! *There is a $10 donation/disposal fee for old CRT computer monitors and TVs 27” and under, $20 for those larger than 27”, $35 for rear projection TVs, and $15 for dehumidifiers
For more information, go to the RecycleForce Columbus web site at www.recycleforcecolumbus.org.
When: Sunday, November 16 2:30 – 5 pm
Doors open 2:30 pm; Concert 3 – 4:30 pm
Where: Northwood High Building, 2231 N. High St Columbus 43201 Community Room 100
Free Parking in "R" spaces (OSU Rardin Clinic) behind the building Admission: $5 Donation
November 1, Columbus OH. Joanie Calem will sing songs from her new CD, "But First Do No Harm." Conversations with the audience during her performance offer the opportunity to delve deeper into the meaning of the songs. Joanie's music incorporates positive, caring, inclusive messages.
“I feel like my music fits so well with the values of Simply Living that I wanted to do a performance to support their work in the community,” said Calem. Joanie is donating 30% of sales of her new CD at this event to Simply Living.
“Parents and everyone living in community will be touched by this special concert, “ said Chuck Lynd, Interim Director of Simply Living. “We were so delighted that Joanie reached out to us that we were inspired to add a silent auction.” The auction will include donations from Simply Living members and gift certificates from local business sponsors. Attendees may browse the auction before and after the concert. A $5 donation is requested for admission.
The general public is invited. Free parking is available behind the Northwood High Building. Questions may be directed to Chuck Lynd <email@example.com> or 614-354-6172.
More information about Joanie Calem is available at www.joaniecalem.com.
Simply Living is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that educates the public about living locally and sustainably. Donations are tax deductible. For more information, visit www. SimplyLiving.org.