Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Update on my personal focus: home energy use

Now that the dust, I mean pollen, is settling from all the Earth Day blossoms and booths and buzz, I can return to myself, my family, my home and check in with this year's focus: energy use. A propos because Sunday night we headed upstairs to put the kids to bed and, whew, it was quite toasty. The thermostat registered 83 so I closed the windows and turned on the AC (to 74).

So I pulled out the calendar I made with my individual goals and I see that I am hopping my way around them, getting things accomplished here and there, making positive steps, but definitely more work ahead.

JAN: I still have one set of windows in the living room without drapes. I'm past the point of telling myself to do them with my amateur seamstress skills. Too busy with Betty, so I will order them. Unfortunately I haven't found any compelling eco-friendly options in Cville, so I will likely order them online, comparing pricing and, unless they are made of reused material, reach a un-perfect, but better solution than nothing at all.

FEB: Creative Conservation came out and gave me an estimate on insulation. To add 2-3 more inches would be close to 900 dollars. Bryant said as far as cost savings, he admitted that might be a hard one to justify right now. We decided to make use of savings in other areas: installing a programmable thermostat, changing out filters every THREE months, and keeping the temperatures low in winter (wearing sweaters) and high in the summer (running around naked, just kidding! wearing light clothing)

MAR: March was appliance and lighting. We already switched all the lights to CFLs, so each night I go around turning off anything that is drawing energy - computer, ihome player, etc. Did you know that appliances that are plugged in still draw energy (I've read as high as 40%) - phantom energy. Also this month, I ordered my rain barrel (On our drive home from my mom and dad's house in North Carolina I found a great company. It was started by a conservation-minded teenager! I talked to his mom and ordered this rain barrel - a recycled olive or pickle container).

APRIL: I am so behind (will spare you a detailed earth day/grant writing excuse)... still need to get the spout for the barrell and the cinder blocks. BEFORE THE NEXT RAIN!! It's OK because our garden isn't in yet and that's what we will be using the water for (and it was May's focus, so I still feel ahead of the game).

Looking ahead to May - I've picked out my retractable clothes line. I need to stop by the Eco-Shop on Preston to make sure they still have the one I want. In June the kids and I will track and try to reduce water use and July we'll look at energy use (i.e. how many times do I need to say: turn off the lights in the room when you aren't using them. Stay tuned for some funky-cool mom trick to turn this into a habit for your kids. Suggestions welcomed!!)

The idea is not for us to do these actions for a month and then forget about them. Research says that if you do something consistently for three weeks it becomes a habit. That's what we'll shoot for. And even though I'm a little behind on my goals, it's on my radar once again and posted on the fridge. Betty has her hand on my shoulder - "You'll get there," she says.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Reporting from BWB on Earth Day

Earth Day 2009 from Betty's Point of View:

9:30am: After grabbing some of Gerry's (Albemarle Baking Company) cookies to pass out to recyclers, I dropped off some green recipes for the BWB booth at the Paramount theater (thanks to my volunteer, Ivana). Nice job Ryan Jacoby and everyone at Habitat AND all the great presenters in the Greenmatters Workshop Series for making such a positive impact in our community. What an educational two years!

10am: I was so happy to pass out reusable bags and Betty stickers at the Recycling Facility from 10-noon today. Thank you everyone who came out. Including two bicyclers! I ended up with a cool vase for flowers - a lady I met who just moved out from California was about to recycle a funky wine bottle

11am: We talked reducing driving and turning off lights and engines down at the McIntire Recycling Facility today with our live broadcast with 1061 the Corner. Bruce, the Recycling Manager and Brad, station manager, and I chose some cool Earth-themed songs: Jack Johnson, Joni Mitchell, OMD (Electricity). I was ready to commandeer the air waves with John Denver (Rocky Mountain High) and Marvin Gaye (Mercy Mercy -ecology) and Michael Jackson (can you feel it?) and more, but that wil have to wait until I can get a spot on My Corner Playlist again. (Maybe on Mother's Day- go mom activists of the world!)

12noon: Time to head over to UVA, where Lindsay Daniels and Sonny Beale and the Sustainability Committee over there have made dramatic changes in favor of reducing, reusing, recycling and helping students live lighter on the planet. Stay tuned to hear more about Chuck it for Charity, coming up in May (during student move out). I was pretty appalled by the items they found in the dumpster: perfectly good socks, a straw basket, a shelf unit, two apples, the list goes on. And the dumpster (which came from the dorms) was only half full. Opportunities to educate and facilitate abound. :-)

2pm: Mother Nature is speaking load and clear. Please listen, she is saying. Warm, sunny, and then cold and rainy, even reports of hail and in the mountain possible snow. This is what "climate change" means.

3pm: Able to recharge through meditation before the school bus came home.

5pm: Greenmatters Workshop Reception. Thanks Revolutionary Soup for the yummy dinner! I enjoyed talking with Doug Lowe of Artisan and Laura Smith a conservationist/realtor, Jeff Sties, local architect and my board member Charles Hendricks, who is now in Harrisonburg. Good stuff going on!

6pm: The kids and I wish happy birthday to Toan at Cville Coffee and, since it's took cold for playing at the newly renovated Riverview Park, decide to take old t-shirts and some cool iron-ons I found at a used book store in Richmond and make some Earth Day t-shirts! My five-year-old is holding one up there.

8pm: We are exhausted. Bedtime arrives for me and my two boys.

I hope you found a way to personally connect with the Earth today as well as tap all that our community is doing, working together to help make Cville the greener, healthier sustainable city we all want!!


Monday, April 20, 2009

Gorgeous planet, gorgeous people

Check out Betty's FB photos from the event on Sat:

Thank you all for coming out to Saturday's Eco-Fair, Charlotteville's biggest turnout EVER for Earth Day!

Highlights and Gratitude:

Mark Jones telling me that Betty helped bring him 5 people to his last mushroom workshop!

Meeting a young green activist, Hannah, who is going to email me what she is up to, earth-wise, so I can put her on the "Green Scene" page.

Eric Betthauser, my beautifully helpful and enthusiastic volunteer, who stayed ALL DAY and helped me pack up too.

David Galgano telling me he uses the site all the time and will HAPPILY write a testimonial for me!

Howell buying me some cold cider.
Paige giving me some monster sun block.
Megan, my babysitter doing the dishes at home!
David Slutzky, for offering to sit down and discuss future BWB projects

Buzzing by Tim Reynolds and Trees on Fire to throw Betty t-shirts to the crowd. That was my first stage performance: 20 seconds with a microphone in front of hundreds. YIKES!!

I'm still floating from all that good Earth energy.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Charlottesville's Reusable Bag Campaign Kicks Off Today

I am happy to announce Charlottesville's Reusable Bag Campaign officially kicked off today in front of City Hall with an announcement by the Mayor, words by yours truly, as well as Chris Engel of Shop Local and Kristel Ridderworld, City Environmental Compliance Manager, and Cynthia Shroeder owner of Springstreet.

Come to one of our booths during Saturday's Eco-Fair to grab your free bag made from recycled plastic!

Did you know?
- Americans consume 380 billion plastic bags per year
- We don't now exactly if these pesky, petroleum-based, annnoyances ever degrade
- Millions make their way into trees, streams, rivers and ocean as litter

I.E. Let's ditch the plastic bag habit!!

- Pledge to yourself and others to use your own bags from now on!
- Keep a basketful of your bags in the car, within eye sight
- Make it easy - hang them on the door you frequently exit from or use a bag as your purse
- Congratulate yourself because in a few short weeks, this will become habit!

These are businesses are participating by offering a rebate at the register:

All Good Groceries
Blue Ridge Eco Shop
Blue Ridge Mountain Sports
Harris Teeter
Integral Yoga
Natalie Dressed
Nature's Child
Twice is Nice
Whole Foods

So thank these businesses for joining this effort with a small incentive and encourage others to join!

For more info or to add a new participating business, email: greencity@charlottesville.org or Betty and we will add them to the list!


Monday, April 13, 2009

As The Better World Turns...

As the Better World Turns, I'm getting dizzy! Charlottesville's Eco-Fair is just around the corner and I can hardly wait. I'll be there along with loads of other environmental organizations and businesses and local officials and amazing local musicians: Trees on Fire (Guys: Can I have another Trees hat?? The Better World Beagle, Mugsy, ate the visor on the one I won at the Treehugger's Ball)and Adrienne Young (my Nia-dancing fellow goddess). Check www.earthweek.org for more details.

Just to give you bloggers a sneak preview: Betty is busy cooking up a funky cool t-shirt to celebrate a successful year of green-consciousness-raising (presale suggested donation: 10 bucks!), as well as more green recipes for you and your busy lifestyle.

Also the Thursday Betty and Shop Local and the City of Charlottesville will announce our reusable bag campaign with a press conference at 11am in front of City Hall.

We'll talk about more Earth Day details this Friday morning with the Bruce and Betty show at 8:45ish on 1061 the Corner with Brad Savage in the studio.

Once again I need your help choosing the hippest Earth songs so that we can spin the vinyl out at the McIntire Road Recycling Facility on Earth Day!

More buzzin' later, now it's time to work in my kitchen WITHOUT my computer for a few minutes!


Friday, April 3, 2009

Reasons to ditch your plastic bags and bottles

This is a summary of what we talked about this morning on the Bruce and Betty show on 1061 the Corner!

Plastic has done amazing things for us in medicine and food storage, BUT it's also made of a non-renewable resource: oil! It pollutes when we make it, and it won't biodegrade (it takes hundred of years to go away?! yikes). And new information continues to come out about the leaching of plasticizers and BPA (Bisphenol-A) through high heat and freezing. 'Nuff said.


Strike One: Currently 1.5 million barrels of oil - enough to run 100,000 cars for a whole year is being used to make plastic water bottles!

Strike Two: Not to mention the emissions involved in the manufacturing and transportation of these bottles (aka embedded energy).

Strike Three: Tap water has stricter quality standards and MOST BOTTLES are never recycled.

More Strikes: One account says that bottled water costs $5.76 gallon!

Bring your own bottle - PBA-free plastic (1 or 2) OR your aluminum or glass bottle for reuse

Use a water filter like Pur or Brita

We go through 380 billion bags per year!! Only 6% are recycled and the rest are trashed, but as many of us know these bags turn up as "urban tumbleweed." I always cringed to look up at one of our beautiful Virginia trees to see a plastic bag ornament or worse a bag floating down the Rivanna or turning into food for fish in the ocean. 'Nuff said.

1- Right now, make a pledge to use your bags. Tell people this is what you're doing. That way you will generate the committment and support you need to fulfill this promise.
2- Stash them in the front seat of your car. (You'll forget them in your trunk, right?)
3- Hang them on the garage door or front door.
4- Just think. In three weeks, it will be a habit.
5- Come to Eco-Fair on April 18th at the Downtown Pavilion and get a Shop Local/City of Charlottesville and Better World Betty bag as part of our big reusable bag campaign kickoff!

Cheers to less bags blowing in the breezes and the treezes,