Monday, June 29, 2009

Rebecca Cooper stopped by my Betty booth yesterday at Whole Foods' Local Fare with a Betty-stumping question (that's a first!). So I am sending it out to the blogosphere in hopes of a helpful reply. Where to find the supplies and know-how to construct an indoor vertical garden? Check out the email below...

Hi, Betty!

You and I chatted at the Whole Foods Local Fare Fair about possibilities for building an indoor vertical garden, like this one by Smith and Hawken:

Here’s another source… (although no longer available),default,pd.html?SC=XNET8002

I’m looking for a cheaper, DIY solution that would work in a small apartment.
I’ve found that a search for “living wall” brings up some results (though none that are terribly helpful), but I’m wondering if anyone around Charlottesville knows how to make one of these (or even sells the parts that would be required). I think it would have broad appeal… especially in a more urban setting where space is at a premium. If you or your readers can point me in the right direction, I’d be grateful!

Thanks for your help!


Architecture and Instruction Librarian
Fiske Kimball Fine Arts Library

Friday, June 26, 2009

SEEING green links from local govt websites!

Check out these cool new online tools that have me seeing green...

Albemarle County’s new Green Resource Map HERE (check the left hand side under: What's New - last link listed)

This cool map includes farmer's markets, recycling, green roofs, etc which I'm quite sure required the use of Betty's directory and search tool :-)!

Map features:
*Providing a resource for residents to find out where they can reuse, recycle and/or properly dispose of common household items (e.g. electronics, motor oil, inks/toner, compact fluorescent bulbs, etc.)
*Highlighting Park & Ride sites to make carpooling easier
*Featuring farmers market locations so that residents can choose to “eat local”
*Green demonstration projects for residents to tour/visit/see, such as LEED certified buildings, rain gardens, solar energy sites, green roofs, etc.

"The Green Resource Map is a very visual and engaging guide to a wide variety of local options that support the kind of sustainable lifestyle habits that many of our residents are very interested in," said Albemarle's Environmental Compliance Manager Sarah Temple.

The Green Resource Map is the newest of the County’s continuing efforts in promoting innovative environmental stewardship and climate protection. Other recent accomplishments include earning the prestigious ENERGY STAR rating for the County Office Building McIntire, reducing municipal energy conservation by 12% and achieving a savings of $113,000 in 2008 and installing solar energy panels on the County Office Building at 5th Street.

Next up... Charlottesville City's Water Use Calculator

June is Water Conservation Month which is a good reason to check out your water use and compare it to other residents in the area and then consider purchasing a rain barrel or implementing other steps to conserve.

Brian Buckley will be at the farmer's markets and is offering a five dollar discount if you mention Better World Betty! Between that and the city rebate program of 30 dollars - you are getting a rain barrel for a steal at $45! Don't forget to check out the Charlottesville's Green city page (to be honest, I still have a hard time finding from the Charlottesville' home page, so here's the link)

They have some really great water-saving tips for the home.

Thank you, local government, for providing these two important tools for change!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Yes We Can...Create Clean Energy Jobs in the Ville!

(pictures are not uploading - will try later)

Today was yet another exciting day for Better World Betty, Charlottesville, and the larger Earth community as residents and community organizers joined our representatives and leaders in politics as they continue to forge the way toward a greener path.

5th District Congressman Tom Periello stood in front of Ms. Ingrid Feggans's home, where the "Creating Clean Energy Jobs: Helping People Helping the Environment" event was held to introduce a line-up of residents and political leaders who are . Her home was recently upgraded with the help of Eric Gilchrist, head of Spark's weatherization program, thereby reducing her energy costs (which were costing her in the thousands per month) and, it's important to mention our collective community carbon footprint.

A special treat for me was meeting Van Jones, author of a recent book I read Green Collar Jobs and Obama's advisor on Green Jobs and Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality - straight from the West Wing!

Joined by Mayor Dave Norris, Congressman Periello, were other government officials like Sally Thomas, Ann Malleck, Holly Edwards, David Brown, and David Toscano as well as community organizers like Karen Waters of QCC (with Todd, urban farm extraordinaire at Garrett Square), Charlottesville Design Center Director Jane Fisher's crew, yours truly, and so many other members of our community who care about conserving energy, saving money, better ways of tending the planet, and the people who live on it, who require meaningful paychecks to provide for their families.


One of those interested in getting a job was Michael Stewart, who spoke about his desire to enter the green job sector I couldn't help but notice he was the first person to mention coming together for the Earth. Of course saving money, the comfort of the home, securing good-paying jobs are paramount. And I appreciated his extending his enthusiasm and desire to take it a step further by speaking about the importance of helping the planet.

Mayor Norris and Congressman Periello outlined the win-win solutions of revolving load funds and other financing programs to help people pay for the necessary retrofits and energy efficiency upgrades which may be cost-prohibitive without help or payback programs. LEAP, the Local Energy Alliance Program, plans to launch their initiative in January of 2010 with exciting and far-reachiing plans to systematically reduce energy use here in Charlottesville, reaching a whopping 20-40%of the market. It's my hope Betty can play a role in this exciting program, continuing to be a tool get the word out about these measures and provide you with local action steps/resources found in the directory and events to make it easy for you to enact change. "Inch-by-inch," one of the presenters touted!

I was excited to learn that officials are working with Piedmont Vally Community College to design certification programs in various green job fields.

Chairwoman Nancy Sutley gave encouraging words to our community as they watch us from Washington to see how a city can really impact change. She emphasized the administration's desire to see us reduce energy use, innovate new more efficient technology, and implement energy-savings into our homes and businesses.

I'm feeling energized by all that's going on greenwise in our fair city. Thank you to the leadership and efforts of everyone involved.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Have you hugged a tree today?

What are you doing on this cool, rainy, summer night?

I'm curling up to my favorite new book The Remarkable Trees of Virginia by local authors, photographers, tree lovers: Nancy Ross Hugo and Jeff Kirwan and Robert Llewellyn. I am in the process of tracking down photographer Robert Llewellyn, whom I first had the pleasure to meet at last year's Bread for a Better World event at Feast! He brought his lap top and was sharing recent tales of his trip to Iceland. What a passion he has for telling stories with his photography! I hope to track him down by the end of the summer for an interview about this amazing four year project of photographing and telling the stories of the most remarkable trees in Virginia. People all across Virginia nominated their favorite trees and after a long, arduous process, the trees were selected and photographed in all their glory. The categories are old trees, historic trees, champion trees, community trees, unique trees, fine specimens, noteworthy species, and mighty oaks. I just read the account of the Crying Tree in Marion, Virginia, whose story has been passed on from generations: Sally, a five year old slave girl was comforted by this tree when crying over her lost family after they were sold into slavery in Lynchburg, never to be seen again.

I find trees offer a beauty, presence, strength and solace to us which defies description.

When I first moved here from Utah ten years ago, I could think only of the majestic Rocky Mountains which were no longer within my sight every day. I missed them so much! The grounded, jagged, peaks of the Wasatch front (which line the valley of Salt Lake City) were an incredible canvas of color, light and texture at my favorite time of day: sunset.

With time though, I have come to adore the trees here in the Piedmont. I remember during recess at Sutherland Middle School (my first job here was teaching English there) staring up at the enormous pine trees telling my colleague, "You guys have got some amazing trees!" Some of my favorites are at UVA and in surrounding parks and homes. Last year I discovered a boxelder tree I call Old Man Elbow along the Rivanna River Trail near Riverview Park. Recently he lost one of his arms after a wild night of storms (a nearby Ash cascaded onto the main branch which hung over the Rivanna, which I'm quite sure served as a launch pad for many a daring Charlottesville youth.

The trees are jubilant this spring and summer with the copious amounts of falling rain. I hope you take an opportunity to get to know at least one - enough to hug it regularly.

I also hope you'll check out this lovely book and website.

If you or someone you know is interested in starting a tree club here in Charlottesville, I'll be the first one to sign up!


Monday, June 8, 2009

Green your tennis game

In light of Federer's exciting French Open win, I decided to take the opportunity to do a little research on how to green one of my favorite sports, tennis. I played tennis for my high school team in Utah and I'm just now getting back into it here in Virginia. As a result our used tennis balls are really piling up.

Betty's on are the tips she dug up:

1. Take your own water in a reusable bottle. Many courts offer water in paper or plastic, so this is an easy way to reduce waste.

2. Recycle your plastic tennis ball container, which is #1 plastic.

3. It IS POSSIBLE to recycle the tennis balls. How? Check out this cool new company out of Arkansas: Start a collection box at your favorite tennis facility, send them your email for free shipping and handling, and then at the end of the summer or whenever it fills up, send them your tennis balls to be "rebounced." Rebounces' goal is to make tennis balls 100% recyclable. Bill, Cannon and Grant ask for your help in making Rebounces' dream a reality! If you want to keep it local instead, contact one of the elementary or high schools or senior centers. Tennis balls make great skid-proof chair slippers (placed on the legs of the chairs) or walker slippers.

4. Send this article to your favorite tennis pro who is in charge of your favorite tennis facility for other tips for greening the game. Ezine article

5. Raise your right hand, bend your elbow, and give yourself a nice pat on the back for doing your part in protecting our natural resources and closing the loop.

Here's to better bounces on the court!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Blue Jean Baby! Take 'em to Whole Foods

Newsflash to Betty fans! Take your old jeans to Whole Foods so they can be turned into insulation. Oh man, does this mean I'll have the green wherewithall to finally give up my favorite jeans ever, that have the right butt cheek torn out, both knees, frayed bottoms, but still fit perfectly?? Hmmm. Eco-conundrum. I'll get back to you. In the meantime, scour your closets and take a trip to Whole Foods, which is fast becoming its own comprehensive recycling center (watch out Vanderlinde - hee hee). Seriously, newspaper, plastic bags, compost, plastic, glass, the ubiquitous crocs, and now jeans. Nice!


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Recycling: beyond the basics...

Enjoy Betty's article in this month's Abode here or in newstands or on their website:

Recycling with the stars

You may already consider yourself a recycling expert, so this month two local pros, Sonny Beale of UVA Recycling and Bruce Edmonds of the McIntire facility, help answer recycling conundrums of a subtler kind.

DON’Ts: Avoid recycling the packaging from reams of paper, Sonny Beale reports. It is woven with protective plastic and damages recycling pulp machines. The same goes for the paper backing on sticker labels for nametags and mailings, as well as wax-coated paper cups and milk cartons. Tissues and paper towels cannot be recycled for sanitary reasons .

DOs: Turns out you don’t need to cut out the plastic window from your mail envelopes. “Just toss it in with your other junk mail and office paper,” Bruce says. Also, gift-wrapping paper (including tissue wrapping paper) is recyclable in the paper bin. Avid recyclers will be glad to know that Blue Ridge Packing Store on Preston reuses those annoying sheets of Styrofoam that large electronics or appliances are packed in, as well as air bags. Empty spray paint cans and other aerosol cans are recycled with the metal cans after removing the plastic top. And speaking of lids: The plastic ones join the 1s and 2s and metal jar tops join the steel bin.

Finally, how clean does the peanut butter jar have to be? “Pretty clean,“ Bruce advises. Which means? “One good rinse is enough; a dishwasher cycle is not necessary.” This comes from the head manager of a facility that boasts zero contamination. Trust it and recycle onward, green warriors!