Try This for the Next Five Minutes

20 Aug

You know, the problem these days is that people have become so attached to their iPhones, laptops and millions of other gadgets all day that rarely do they ever see broad daylight.  There are so many things to do on the internet, people wonder if other forms of entertainment even exist.

You know what I think of that?  I think that you should get up, stretch, close your laptop (or perhaps even power off??), open your windows and take a look outside.  In fact, venture so far as to even take a step outdoors (if you dare).  Bask in the sunlight.  Admire the trees.  If you see flowers, bend down and take a whiff.  Nature has so many more details than those pixels on your computer screen.  There is more to this world than just a little rectangular box.

Today is a beautiful day.  Try turning off all your electronics and go outside.  You’ll thank me later :)

How to Beat the Summer Heat from Eco Ed

2 Aug

One of the perks to my internship with Eco-Ed Schwartz is that I learn so much about simple green home living solutions.  One of his most recent articles deals with ways to beat the summer heat.  So far, we’ve had four official heat waves this summer, and it’s not going to stop anytime soon.  Here are some simple tips I’ve learned from my boss, the Eco-Warrior that you should definitely share with your family:

-        Be sure that your cooling equipment is properly maintained.

-        Get a home energy audit. Research to see if your state has a rebate program.  I know that in NJ, the Clean Energy program allows for rebates up to $5,000 per house, plus interest-free loans of up to another $10,000 for qualified homeowners!  Tell your parents!

-        Use a programmable thermostat to measure temperatures throughout the day.

-        Follow the sun by drawing blinds or curtains to minimize direct sunshine.  And of course, for a longer term solution, plant shade trees and shrubs on your property!  This is the most natural way to cool down your house.

-        Keep lights and other electric appliances off, and switch to compact fluorescent and LED bulbs.  

-        Use solar lights in your yard to minimize electricity used at night.  The selection is becoming greater and quality is improving constantly.  Start small and add lighting features as desired.

-        Do your laundry in cold water and only when you have a full load (this goes for dishes as well!)

-        Check to see if your roof is compatible for solar panels.  If so, this installation can greatly offset electric costs.  I think it is one of the most valuable investments!   If not, consider another option: how about painting your roof a light shade?

Post your comments below! :)

The Most Sustainable Bus…Ever.

16 Jul

Summer is slowly trudging by, and I am counting down the days until I head off for college in the fall.  One of the things I am doing every day to keep in touch with Dartmouth’s amazing programs is keeping up with the Big Green Bus (http://www.thebiggreenbus.org/).  It’s a bus that is run completely on waste vegetable oil and this summer, 11 Dartmouth students are touring the entire nation to spread environmental activism.  It is a true model of a youth-led sustainability initiative and one that inspires me to continue my own environmental efforts with SSE.  I think it’s really empowering to see this group of students spending weeks together, all united around one goal: to represent the young

minds in our world working to make a difference, one community at a time.  At every stop they make, they impact people, build connections, spread the influence.  It’s so powerful the way they slowly build the momentum as they travel across the nation.  Sometimes, it’s community work by helping kids in Arizona plant popcorn.  Sometimes its visiting the nation’s

Capitol and engaging in meetings.  Everything they do will contribute to a powerful, rippling effect that can change perspectives and even more, lead to direct sustainable actions.  I’m definitely going to continue to follow their journey…hopefully a few years from now, I will be able to have a spot on the BGB crew!  Good luck on the rest of your trip BGB ’12!

First Day of my Internship!

12 Jul

Today I started my first internship at Green Living Solutions (http://www.greenlivingsolutionsnj.com/), a sustainable business consulting group that helps homeowners assess ways to save money and energy in their homes.  I’m already involved with two projects, and it’s been quite exciting!

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “Your home uses energy every day, all day long. It uses energy to keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It uses energy to provide you with light when you need it. It uses energy to provide you with hot water. And, it uses energy to run all of your home appliances and electronics.”

I’ve already learned that in order to counteract the biggest problem our planet faces today, global warming, it’s all about taking the first step as an individual to save energy.  This company helps people do just that.  I am so lucky to have the opportunity to work with Eco Ed (http://www.askecoed.net/), who is a fantastic role model.  He owns one of the most sustainable homes in New Jersey, and he really knows the tricks and ways to save energy.  He is a true environmentalist.  Can’t wait to move forward in this venture!

Summer Energy-Saving Tips!

31 May

School is almost out (or for some of you, already out!), and as summer officially approaches, you can be sure that the days are going to get HOT.  Where I live, we’ve already had some horribly sweat-inducing days, and with all the wacky climate fluctuations these days, its hard to predict what this summer has in store for us.  You’re probably wondering, how can I avoid the heat without using too much energy from indoor appliances?  When’s the best time to use appliances to lower peak energy demands?  Read on for some interesting tips, and don’t forget to share with your parents (they’ll thank you for it)…

  • Avoid cranking up the AC all the way.  Instead, set the AC a little lower and use ceiling or room fans  to help cool the room.
  • Put lots of food in your refrigerator.  That way, whenever you open the door, all the cold food stored together keeps individual items from warming up too fast.
  • Try using appliances like washing machines or dryers before 4 p.m. and after 7 p.m. That way you’ll reduce the peak electricity demand on hot afternoons.
  • Run the dishwasher or washing machine only when it is fully loaded.
  • Line dry your clothes!
  • Take shorter showers.
  • On really hot days, weather strip your doors and close all windows.
  • On a sunny day, who needs indoor lighting?  Turn off the lights and bask in the natural sunlight
  • Not really related to saving energy, but stay hydrated!

Please post any more ideas you have.  We would all love to hear them :)

Remember, the best thing you can do for yourself and the planet is to get out of the house and enjoy the outdoors!

Lights Out Success!

8 Apr

Thanks to everyone who participated in National School Lights Out Day and made it a HUGE success!  From the west coast, to the midwest, to the east coast, schools across the nation left their lights OFF, showing the world our united efforts to conserve energy and work together for sustainability.  It wasn’t just high schools…elementary schools, middle schools, day camps and even community centers got involved as well! It was truly a momentous event, and hopefully one that more and more schools will participate in for years to come.  Here are some words of feedback from your fellow SSE members:

Frank: “My principal was great, he supported it all the way.  It was kinda cool to see the school so dark, they even turned off the hall lights and just went with the emergency lights….teenagers should stand up for the environment and not just leave things for the adults to decide.  Their voice must also be heard.”

Nancy: “Thanks for spreading the word about this worthwhile cause.”

Karen: “So many teachers thanked us for doing this!  This event got a lot of publicity in our school and it helped people realize the powerful impact of this simple cause.  Will look forward to doing it again next year!”

National School Lights Out Day!

9 Feb

March 30th, 2012

There a new movement brewing, one fueled by student activism.  It’s simple, yet contains a powerful message.  We want you to…

TURN OFF THE LIGHTS!

For one whole day, students will encourage their schools to leave classroom lights off.  We want to raise awareness about school-wide energy consumption and the educate communities about where our energy comes from.  We want to change daily habits and perspectives.  We want to show that by working together, students, the minds of our future generation, have the ability to make change.

BE the change in your school today!

Get involved by emailing us at: studentssavingenergy@gmail.com.  Download the Instruction Manual here.Inspired by Earth Hour 2012: http://www.earthhour.org/