You most likely knew that April 22nd was Earth Day but did you know that the month of April is “Earth Month”?
Many events were held all over Maryland (even one of our own!) where people celebrated green jobs, clean energy, organic gardening, recycling and much more. Here are a few highlights around town:
Elkridge Solar Firm Launches Nonprofit Coalition to Lobby for More Clean Energy
Solar Energy World became convinced that community activism would have to be part of their business strategy before their rooftop solar panels would gain wide acceptance. In short, they realized they had to first win the hearts and minds of voters if clean energy–principally solar, geothermal and wind–would garner the same tax incentives oil and coal companies received.
Read more about Solar Energy World and the launch of the Clean Energy Coalition>>
To learn more about the Clean Energy Coalition>>
Here is a clip from the press conference with Solar Energy World guests, Maryland Delegate James Malone and Jim Pierobon from the Maryland Clean Energy Center:
BWI Gets Eight Electric Vehicle Charging Stations for Earth Day
Gov. Martin O’Malley celebrated Earth Day on Friday by announcing the installation of eight electric vehicle charging stations at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport.
Read more about the BWI EV Charging Stations>>
All over Montgomery County Earth Day was being celebrated! – brought to you by Patch
Congressman Chris Van Hollen and professional artists from Montgomery County stressed the importance of art to young people and to the community as VisArts at Rockville hosted an awards ceremony for the 8th Congressional District Art Competition for High School Students on Tuesday.
A new community garden will give 50 families the chance to grow and harvest their own food. County Executive Isiah Leggett, as well as community and religious leaders, were on hand at the Emory Grove garden to break ground on Saturday..
In the spirit of the upcoming 10/10/10 Global Work Party, we’ve gathered together some environmental tips, facts, and other information we can all do right away to help reduce our carbon footprint.
So, what is global warming and why is it such a big deal? The folks at 350.org tell us “Global warming is caused by releasing what are called greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The most common greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide. Many of the activities we do every day like turn the lights on, cook food, or heat or cool our homes rely on the combustion of fossil fuels like coal and oil, which emit carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases when burned. This is a major problem because global warming destabilizes the delicate balance that makes life on this planet possible. ”
To some “going green” feels like a undertaking but we’ve gathered some information about what you can do to curb your carbon footprint and work towards a greener planet – and some are rather simple, really. Here they are:
10 Green Home Improvement Resolutions You Must Make Right Now
Why not make some resolutions now that will help you lower your carbon footprint and increase the energy-efficiency of your home throughout the winter and for years to come. You know what they say, “If you can’t change yourself, you can at least change the environment in which you live.” Nobody actually says that…
15 Ways to Practice Water Conservation at Home
Water is a precious commodity, and Americans and Canadians use more water per capita than people in any other part of the world. A lot of the water we use is wasted, but you can save a lot of water between simple adjustments…
Interview With The Authors of The Carbon-Free Home
This beautiful two-story house produces enough energy to fill all of their energy needs and is outfitted with all kinds of ingenious projects straight from their book. In front, a garden grows everything from artichokes to pomegranates, while chickens roam around in the backyard.
Wanting to learn more about how you can reduce your carbon footprint?
Join us at the Kentlands 350 Global Work Party.
When: Sunday, October 10th, 10:00am – 11:30am
Location: Whole Foods Market Cafe – 316 Kentlands Blvd., Gaithersburg, MD 20878
Pre-register for Kentlands 350 Global Work Party
What is Kentlands 350?
Let’s celebrate climate solutions. Join Whole Foods Market, Solar Energy World and Greenavise at a 10/10/10 Global Work Party. Learn how you can reduce your carbon footprint by powering your home with 100% renewable solar power and teach your children the importance of the number 350 through an art project.
Too often, when we’re trying to live a greener lifestyle, it’s easy to overlook the everyday objects that we use in our lives, concentrating only on bigger things like our cars or houses. Yet using organic household products can have a huge impact on the environment.
Think about this: The average American uses about 40 pounds of toxic household cleaning products each year (according to http://charityguide.org). These products are filled with chemicals and metals that can cause respiratory issues, allergic reactions, as well as serious damage to a person’s internal organs. Unless exposed directly, damage can occur slowly over time, so we may not always see the effects right away. Additionally, the chemicals from these products inevitably find their way into our water supply, which we then ingest when we drink water from the tap, use it in our cooking, or even wash ourselves.
There are several companies out there who make and sell organic cleaning products, but you can also save money while saving the environment when you make your own. The website EarthEasy.com has some great recipes for making your own cleaning products, but here’s a list of environmentally safe products you can use without having to do any mixing. Be aware, though, even if these products are environmentally sound to use, some of them are dangerous if ingested! Keep them out of the reach of children.
- Baking Soda - cleans, deodorizes, softens water, scours.
- Soap - unscented soap in liquid form, flakes, powders or bars is biodegradable and will clean just about anything. Avoid using soaps which contain petroleum distillates.
- Lemon - one of the strongest food-acids, effective against most household bacteria.
- Borax - (sodium borate) cleans, deodorizes, disinfects, softens water, cleans wallpaper, painted walls and floors.
- White Vinegar - cuts grease, removes mildew, odors, some stains and wax build-up.
- Washing Soda - or SAL Soda is sodium carbonate decahydrate, a mineral. Washing soda cuts grease, removes stains, softens water, cleans wall, tiles, sinks and tubs. Use care, as washing soda can irritate mucous membranes. Do not use on aluminum.
- Cornstarch - can be used to clean windows, polish furniture, shampoo carpets and rugs.
- Citrus Solvent - cleans paint brushes, oil and grease, some stains. (Citrus solvent may cause skin, lung or eye irritations for people with multiple chemical sensitivities.)
- Trisodium phosphate (TSP) - a mixture of soda ash and phosphoric acid. TSP is toxic if swallowed, but it can be used on many jobs, such as cleaning drains or removing old paint, that would normally require much more caustic and poisonous chemicals, and it does not create any fumes.
Many consumers are enthralled with the idea of driving a hybrid vehicle, one that runs on electricity as much as gas.
But other sustainable modes of transportation abound. Just check out this long list of land, sea and air vehicles that are all striving for more eco-friendly modes of transportation. Our favorites? The solar-powered ones of course!
Of course, some of these are a little over-the-top or not fully applicable (at least not yet). If one of these vehicles don’t appeal to you, then we hope you’ll think about walking or biking to your destinations instead of driving. You can help curb carbon emissions, and you’ll feel great doing it!
Solar energy can take a long way to reduce our dependence on non-renewable energy sources like oil. But one of the best ways to keep our energy consumption in check is to simply reduce the amount of energy we consume. Here are some tips to help you reduce your carbon footprint, use less energy, and help fight climate change. Every little step helps!
- In the winter, keep your thermostats at 68 degrees or lower. For each 1 degree you turn down the thermostat in the winter, you’ll save up to 5% on your heating costs.
- Turn off and un-plug non-essential lights and appliances. The electricity generated by fossil fuels for a single home puts more carbon dioxide into the air than two average cars!
- Avoid running large appliances such as washers, dryers, and electric ovens during peak energy demand hours from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
- Close shades and blinds at night to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows. This also applies during the day for warm climates.
- Buy Energy Star appliances, products and lights.
Want more energy saving tips? Check out BGE’s Simple Steps to Saving Money.
In last month’s Green Living, we talked about recycling. This month, we’d like to focus specifically on recycling electronics, sometimes called “eClycling.”
In our gadget-filled world, people are buying more electronics than ever before, including cell phones, computers, laptops, TVs, DVD players—you name it. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, in 2005, discarded electronics totaled about 2 million tons. Only about 15 – 20 percent of it was recycled. These products, while certainly great to have and use, they contain toxic chemicals such as mercury and lead that can pollute the environment and cause contamination and serious health problems.
Fortunately, Maryland and DC offer eCycling programs that accept household electronics for recycling. These programs ensure that electronics are properly disposed off, rather than contaminating our environment.
You can read more about Maryland’s eCycling program at the Maryland Department of the Environment.
You can read more about DC’s eCycling program at the Department of Public Works.
Additionally, if you want your used electronics to go to a worthy cause, you may want to consider donating them. Often times, schools and nonprofits will accept these types of donations, so check with your favorite nonprofit to see if you can donate your old, unused electronics.
There are many factors that have made solar panels for your home more affordable in recent years, but Solar Renewable Energy Credits, or SRECs, are possibly one of the most important.
So what are they? Think of them like a stock. One SREC represents the monetary value of 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) produced. That value changes every day based on how much energy is produced across the state, how much energy is being used, and what portion of that energy comes from renewable resources (which includes wind power generation, geothermal, biomass, etc.).
In an effort to combat the effects of climate change and dependency on foreign oil, federal, state and local governments require utilities to have a certain percentage of their energy produced from renewable resources. In Maryland, utilities are required to have 15% of all electricity generated to come from renewable energy sources by 2022, of which 2% must come from solar power. Those percentages are phased in over time, which means that each year utilities must either produce that energy themselves or purchase energy credits.
And that’s where the value of SRECs is determined. It is easier and less expensive for utilities to purchase credits than to build new energy production facilities. The less energy they produce from solar and other renewable, the greater the value of the SRECs. And as energy demand continues to grow, the value of those SRECs will also continue to grow. That means that the longer you keep your SRECs, the more valuable they will be.
How many SRECs your system earns each year will entirely be based on the size of the system. When we do a solar analysis, we help you calculate what the cost/benefit is, taking into account the SRECs your solar panel system will earn.
Take note: a solar thermal system (also known as solar hot water) does not earn SRECs! They can, however, help you dramatically lower your utility bills.
Also note: SRECs are not the same as net metering, which requires utility companies to give solar electricity owners a credit if their system generates more electricity than is supplied by the grid.
As you might’ve seen, Solar Energy World was recently featured on WBAL in Baltimore. A few weeks ago, we presented the children of Bryn Mawr Little School, the winners of our 40 Day Earth Day video contest with the prize of $2500 that will support future science education. We also donated supplies to grow a community garden.
Here’s a link to the news report: http://www.wbaltv.com/video/23836058/
Congrats to the children and their teachers! And remember, we need to think about saving the earth every day…not just on Earth Day.
Out of all the things we can do to reduce our carbon footprint, recycling is among the most powerful and easy to do. According to Sustainablog.org, the U.S. only earned a C for recycling. Here are some interesting statistics:
- 251 million – tons of trash in the United States
- 82 million – tons of materials recycled in the United States
- 53.4 – percentage of all paper products recycled in the United States
- 32.5 – percentage of total waste that is recycled in the United States
- 100 – approximate percentage of increase in total recycling in the United States during the past decade
- 8,660 – number of curbside recycling programs in the United States in 2006
- 8,875 – number of curbside recycling programs in the United States in 2003
- 6 – weeks it takes to manufacture, fill, sell, recycle and re-manufacture an aluminum beverage can
- 95 – percentage of energy saved by recycling an aluminum can, compared with manufacturing a new one
- 4.6 – pounds of trash per person per day in the United States (most in the world)
- 1.5 – pounds of recycled materials per person per day in the United States
Here in Maryland, residents and businesses recycled more than 44 percent of solid waste in 2007, and we’re sure those numbers are much higher today with the growing number of single-stream recycling programs sprouting up over the state.
In celebration of Earth Day’s 40th anniversary, we’ve list 40 interesting and alarming environmental facts. We’ve posted these facts every day for the past 40 days – thanks for listening and sharing with others!
- Approximately 20 million people across the United States celebrated the first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970. Today, more than 1 billion people around the world take part in the event.
- In 1995 over 200 of the world landfills were full.
- Each person throws away approximately 4 pounds of garbage per day.
- Approximately 5 million tons of oil produced in the world each year ends up in the ocean.
- The energy we save when we recycle one glass bottle is enough to light a traditional light bulb for four hours
- In, 1931, Albert Einstein, collected a Nobel Prize for is work in solar and photovoltaic experimentation.
- Every ton of paper that is recycled saves 17 trees, 2 barrels of oil, 4,100 kilowatts of energy, 3.2 cubic yards of landfill space and 60 pounds of air pollution.
- 14 billion pounds of trash is dumped into the ocean every year
- 84% of all household waste can be recycled
- More than 1/3 of all energy is used by people at home
- Most families throw away about 88 pounds of plastic every year
- Everyday in the United States, we produce enough trash to equal the weight of the Empire State Building
- The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a swirling vortex of waste and debris in the Pacific Ocean. This area is twice the size of the continental US and is believed to hold almost 100 million tons of garbage.
- The human population has grown more in the last 50 years than it did in the previous 4 million years
- John Herschel, a British astronomer, converted solar power by using a solar collector box to cook food while on an African expedition, in 1830.
- In some elementary schools, after Halloween and Christmas, Earth Day is the third largest celebrated holiday
- One in four mammals is at risk of extinction – 78% of marine mammals are threatened by accidental deaths such as getting caught in fishing nets intended for other species.
- At least 50 million acres of rainforest are lost every year, totaling an area the size of England, Wales and Scotland combined.
- Average temperatures will increase by as much as 12 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the 21st century if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at the current pace.
- If the entire world lived like the average American, we’d need 5 planets to provide enough resources.
- A world record was set in 1990 when a solar powered aircraft flew 4060km across the USA, using no fuel.
- In one hour more sunlight falls on the earth than what is used by the entire population in one year.
- April 22 is the first official day of Spring in the Northern hemisphere and of Fall in the Southern hemisphere and was chosen to be Earth Day for this reason
- More than 20,000,000 Hershey’s Kisses are wrapped each day, using 133 square miles of tinfoil. All that foil is recyclable, but not many people realize it.
- Only 11% of the earth’s surface is used to grow food.
- If every newspaper was recycled, we could save about 250,000,000 trees each year. Unfortunately only 27% of all American newspapers are recycled.
- A highlight of the annual Earth Day ceremony at the United Nations is the ringing of the Peace Bell that was given to the UN by Japan. It is made from coins given by school children to further peace on our planet.
- By using renewable energy sources to provide your daily energy needs we can decease CO2 emissions with 20,000 pounds less of carbon dioxide each year, including 50 pounds of nitrogen oxide less, and 70 pounds of less sulfur dioxide omitted into our atmosphere.
- Americans throw away enough aluminum to rebuild our entire commercial fleet of airplanes every 3 months.
- The U.S. is 5% of the world’s population but uses 25% of its natural resources. We use one million gallons of oil every two minutes.
- More than 100 million Americans live in urban areas where the air is officially classified by the EPA as unsafe to breathe.
- The US has less than 4% of its forests left.
- 40% of our waterways are undrinkable.
- 200,000 people a day are moving to cities from environments that no longer support them.
- According to the National Academy of Sciences, on average there are 27 oil spills every day somewhere in the waters of the worlds
- Residential lawns and gardens are doused with 80 million pounds of chemical pesticides and 70 million tons of fertilizers annually.
- It would cost about $13 billion annually to satisfy the world’s basic sanitation and food requirements. That’s roughly equivalent to what Americans and Europeans spend on perfume and cologne every year.
- Each year Americans alone throw away 18 billion disposable diapers. In perspective, this is enough to extend from the earth to the moon and back 7 times.
- Ford Motor Company indicates that 75% of every vehicle is recyclable.
- In 1 year, the earth will travel 1.6 million miles in its annual journey around the Sun, the 4.6-billionth such round-trip. It will rotate about its axis exactly once.