Friday, September 18, 2009

Green ideas for RIGHT NOW... Betty's Bakers Dozen List

Here are some of the get-started now tips I shared during my radio interview (broadcast on 1070AM WINA tomorrow morning at 8:30am with Jennifer Till of the Jennifer Till Real Life show airing on Saturday mornings (check out

1- Reduce your driving. Have one day a week car-free or join a car pool. Contact:

2- Buy local and organic food when possible. Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)

3- Shift your thermostat by 3 degrees each season (Savings: up to 10% on energy bills)

4- Reduce your junk mail (Unsolicited junk mail uses 62 million trees a year!)

5- Embrace the three minute shower

6- Vinegar and baking soda are your cleaning friends. (You don't need a different chemical cleaner for each area of your home)

7- Say "NO" to disposables. Bring your own utensils and reusable bottles

8- Think local when gift-giving during holidays and birthdays: choose a gift certificate to a local business like Feast! or Read It Again Sam

9- Clothing: buy second-hand, host a clothing swap, line dry

10- Skip one red meat meal per week (meat is resource intensive) and eat sustainable fish (download or order your wallet card at

11- Install CFL or LED light bulbs and buy energy-efficient appliances (Govt estimates say if every American did this, it would be the equivalent of taking a million cars off the road!)

12- Tighten up your home: sealing any cracks or leaks will maximize your home's energy efficiency

13- Sign up for Betty's online newsletter which includes monthly tips and local eco-news at

In-joy, in the Earth Kitchen,

Monday, September 14, 2009

On becoming water wise...

As I sit here boiling water for my tea after my son's took their bath and with the (ultra water efficient bosch brand)dishwasher running, I am thinking about water. How precious this natural resource is that I too often take for granted. Of all the elements, I love water the most. The ocean is my favorite, but sometimes I get in a mode where "I must be around water!" So I head to Riverview Park or take the canoe down the Rivanna, or head to Sugar Hollow or a nice getaway is Ivy Creek.

If I love water so much, why don't I know more about our 50 year water plan and the heated debate surrounding it, I ask myself. I have my excuses, but the reality I likely share with many of you is that a feeling of being overwhelmed by all the complexities and differing viewpoints of the plan. This happens on the path toward more environmentally-responsible living. It's easy to get bogged down. It's hard to keep up, right? And we can't do it all at once...

Well, it's not as hard as you think. Tonight I'm making a renewed committment to be informed. Join me...

Where do we start?

My favorite tool for becoming informed on issues that directly affect our way of life here (without any spin factor or snarkiness): Charlottesville Tomorrow. Hats off to Brian Wheeler and Sean Tubbs and their board who have a class one non-profit organization whose mission is to keep us informed and engaged in the public discourse and therefore more motivated and able to take the next step: ACTION.

To connect on a broader, deeper level to our water here in Charlottesville, I'm going to take time to listen/read their online publication entitled "Our Water. Our Future." I just took a few minutes and listened to the first issue and already I'm feeling better informed.

From their website/email: "That's the title of Charlottesville Tomorrow's online publication on the state of our local water supply. As a subscriber to our e-mail alerts, you will be notified each of the six issues is published. With this message, I am pleased to announce that the fifth issue is now available on our website.

"Our Water Our Future" is an engaging online publication being released sequentially over this summer. Of course we will share facts, figures, and analysis, but you will also see informative illustrations, charts, and movies, plus hear some of the audio we have collected over the course of many community meetings.
We welcome your feedback and participation. I hope you will take advantage of the ability to comment on the content and even contribute your own insights to the detailed articles linked throughout “Our Water Our Future.”

Finally, here is a simple link to this project which you can share with your friends and neighbors: ."

Once you're informed, take action with Betty's help. Look up rainwater harvesting in the directory, find out about the city/county water saving kits, and look to see if there are any water/stream clean up events in the near future...

Thanks, guys!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Local eco-sense for buying, reusing, recycling your appliances

Here's a recap of the show without the Betty and Bruce banter and/or mouth misfires...

Small appliances like toasters, food processors, microwaves, coffee pots, irons: NOW: Don't leave them plugged in. That draws a small amount of energy that's just wasted.
If they work and you're done with them? Goodwill, Salvation Army, Habitat, Freecycle. If they don't work, call Cycle Systems (formerly Coiners). They took our old microwave last year.

Bigger appliances:
Let's talk big losers in the home. We're not talking about the Bruce and Brads out there (joking!)It's the refrigerator. According to the EPA, the refrigerator averages about 9% of your home energy use.
NOW: Turn down the setting to 40 degrees and regularly get rid of the dust bunnies so the air is free to flow and don't lurk at the contents with the fridge doors open, just like your mom told you to!
If you have the money? Go to and research the highest efficiency models. Side doors are the least efficient. And if you have 2 fridges in your home (20% of Americans do), consider getting one big one. That could save you money and energy.

NOW: Do full loads, use biodegradable detergent, be choosy about your settings.
If you have the money? Buy a dishwasher with a .65 energy star number. Some models use 1/2 the water. We bought a BOSCH dishwasher last year and LOVE it. I consider them a progressive/green-minded company I can trust.

Refer to last weeks column in the Abode or in previous blog.
NOW: Full loads, cold water - Remember that hot/warm water rinses cost 5-10 times more. If you have the money? Check the cool tips on in the column

Water Heater:
NOW: Turn down the setting to 120 degrees. Use an insulation blanket. If you have the money, check out for tips.

When in doubt check Betty's search tool. If they work and are not absolutely egregiously uber-unefficient, Freecycle them or take them to Habitat.

Bulky Waste free Amnesty Day at the Ivy Material Utilization Center (fondly called Muck in the Biz): Saturday, October 10. check The freon will be recycled and the remaining will be stripped down at Cycle Systems.

Some local retail/repair companies will take it to Cycle Systems for you. Ask them what they do with broken appliances - if they say "trash" them, be an advocate by asking them if they would consider recycling it instead.

OR wait to find out about Virginia's cash for appliance program (similar to cash for clunkers - thanks to Obama's stimulus package) due out sometime this fall where residents are expected to get 50-200 dollars for the appliance when they purchase a newer, more efficient model.

Want another resource for savings?? Check out the tax incentives for solar heating and things like new water heaters at

Don't just take Betty's word for it - do your own research at and an AWESOME resource the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy or

And remember, if Betty is helping you SAVE money and SAVE the environment, please consider making a donation. (We a non-profit, all volunteer org!)


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Greenwashing we can get behind

Betty's September column appears below and in Abode online!

An inherited and ultra-inefficient clothes washer nearing its death was the inspiration for this month’s topic: tips for a green laundry room makeover! At 400 loads of laundry a year per family (more for us messy outdoor-types, like my two favorite sons), conservation is Betty’s call to action.

When purchasing:
The good news is new washer technology can yield up to 40 percent energy savings. Start shopping by checking out the Energy Star website ( and look for labels with higher MEF (Modified Energy Factor), which means higher efficiency, and low WF (Water Factor). Front loaders initially cost more, but clearly win in terms of water and energy efficiency. Conventional clothes washers use about 40 gallons of water for a complete cycle; large capacity, resource-efficient models use less than 25 gallons; smaller models use less than 10. Pick one with plenty of water level options and faster spin speed.
Dryers unfortunately don’t have Energy Star labels, but a moisture sensor is the important feature here. Take your old washers and dryers to Cycle Systems (formerly Coiners) for recycling.

When using:
You’ve heard the basics: full loads, cold water (remember: a hot water wash with warm rinse costs 5 to 10 times more than a cold wash and rinse), and biodegradable detergent. Clear your dryer lint filter after each cycle and avoid non-biodegradable fabric softeners (I use Nellie’s Dryer Balls). Drying several loads in a row will take advantage of residual heat. Of course line-drying is uber-green.
An easy tip we shouldn’t forget: Wearing clothes more than once before washing extends their longevity. Check the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s site,, for more information.