Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Sustainable Diet

At first blush this title sounds like it might be the holy grail of dieting - you know, sustaining that diet that made you drop 30 pounds in 2 months.

It also sounds like the latest nutritional best seller - The Sustainable Diet. I checked Amazon, nothing yet. Maybe I can write it.

Although I'm not a nutritionist, dietician, chef or even a 'foodie', I've had an awareness of my diet since childhood. My mom was the only one I knew who gave her kids Royal Bee Gelly and Ginseng Tea (no sweeteners!). We were the only ones without white bread and Hostess was completely absent from our home. We still had occasional treats like cheesecake, but candy bars and nutritionally empty snack foods laden with preservatives were never available. Sodas and junky breakfast cereals? No way!

I don't think my mom thought of herself as progressive, but lucky for me, she had the right instincts about nutrition. It gave me the ability to think outside the mainstream when it came to food.

Earlier I talked about the amount of oil used in the production of beef. Letting go of eating beef seemed very doable for me, and all the findings suggest that it's actually more healthy. Will I ever eat beef? Sure, if my host or Hostess has graciously prepared it, or if the restaurant I'm patronizing has free range, organic, psychologically happy, humanely slaughtered beef.
But what about all the other animal food products? The hardest core environmentalists (in my opinion) assert that to be a true one you must be vegetarian, vegan, even. This is such an extreme concept to most people and even with my awareness about it, to me, that at first I rejected it utterly.

Deep breath.

Didn't I just read that Hemp Seeds provide all the proteins necessary for human nutritional needs? Yup, but how can a bunch of little seeds possibly be as satisfying as chicken? I decided to give them a try and have been pleasantly surprised. They taste good and I actually feel satisfied after eating them on my salad or yogurt. I've also experimented with the Organic Hemp Milk, how crazy does that sound?

So, that takes care of the poultry, now what about those morning eggs I had grown to love and count on. I've always believed eggs were a terrific food, even when everyone wanted me to give up the yolk. However, in my experiment with a sustainable diet I had to try a vegetarian alternative. I chose OPTIMUM POWER BREAKFAST cereal. The box is impressive and empowers me just by looking at it. It also does a fantastic job of keeping my energy level up until lunchtime.

I encourage each of you to try to substitute one thing this week - be bold, you never know what you might like. Just like Mikey.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Kermit The Frog Isn't The Only Green Celebrity

Installing a home solar system is pretty pricey. The estimates for an average 2,500 square foot home which probably requires a 3 to 4 kW system are $25,000 to $36,000. It isn't something many average home owners can upgrade to. Industry wisdom says it's always better to include it in the original design. That's if you can invest in designing and building your own home.

What about someone living in low-income housing? There is a fantastic partnership between the Enterprise Foundation, BP Solar Neighbors and the Environmental Media Association that is worth checking out. It's the brainchild of actor, Edward Norton who, when installing his own system proposed an idea to BP Solar. For every celebrity who joins the BP Solar Neighbors program and purchases a system (every 6kW qualifies) a matching system is donated to a low-income family. The Environmental Media Association's purpose is to link "the power of celebrity to environmental awareness, EMA believes that through television, film and music, the entertainment community can affect change in a positive way. EMA’s work is widespread, from subtle messaging on the screen to promoting sustainable lifestyle choices and educating influential people on the power of “green,” our goal is inspiring the path to a healthier planet."

Here's an excerpt from an interview with Slate.

"Edward Norton: I can't give you a total number of panels. We're getting close to having donated over 100 kW worth of free systems to low-income families. About 50 families have received systems and we've done two large systems on affordable housing rental buildings or homeless SRO projects. This doesn't count the celebrity participation which is probably another 100-200 kW worth."

This is an example any community or any high profile group of people can follow - it isn't just actors and musicians who can create this kind of positive change. What if each community negotiated with a local or national solar company to work out some form of donated system to benefit everyone? What if government buildings, schools, or large chain retailers invested in solar with the promise that their purchase would ensure the installation for a low-income family?

Things to think about.

In the meantime, send us your story. Include your first name, last initial, general locale and what YOUR sustainable choice was today. Make your voice heard; educate and inspire. The effects of your choice will be magnified and made more powerful when you share it with us.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Future of Greentech

Now, greening our world is about more than, well, being green. It's about a thriving economy; it's about 2 or more million new jobs in greentech. There are challenges, to be sure. Those who lose jobs in obsolete fields won't necessarily be the ones getting the new jobs. The new greentech jobs may not all be the highest quality. Fortunately, these aren't issues that need to stand in the way of this multibillion-dollar growth industry. These are concerns to be monitored and addressed with foresight and forward thinking.

There are serious issues at stake and as ILO Director-General Juan Somavia says, "As the report makes clear, building a low-carbon economy is not only about technology or finances, it's about peoples and societies. It's about a cultural change to a greater environmental consciousness and opportunities for decent work." Read more at Environment News Service's website.

Even more exciting is a recently released report discussed at the Center for American Progress. The findings give one a great deal of hope, and, motivation to be involved in whatever way one can to bring about this greentech revolution.

Here is an excerpt:
The $100 billion fiscal expansion that we examined in this study provides the infrastructure to jumpstart a comprehensive clean energy transformation for our nation, such as the strategy described in CAP’s 2007 report, “Capturing the Energy Opportunity: Creating a Low-Carbon Economy.” This paper shows the impact of a swift initial investment in climate solutions that would direct funding toward six energy efficiency and renewable energy strategies:

* Retrofitting buildings to increase energy efficiency
* Expanding mass transit and freight rail
* Constructing “smart” electrical grid transmission systems
* Wind power
* Solar power
* Advanced biofuels

This green recovery and infrastructure investment program would:

* Create 2 million new jobs nationwide over two years
* Create nearly four times more jobs than spending the same amount of money within the oil industry and 300,000 more jobs than a similar amount of spending directed toward household consumption.
* Create roughly triple the number of good jobs—paying at least $16 dollars an hour—as spending the same amount of money within the oil industry.
* Reduce the unemployment rate to 4.4 percent from 5.7 percent (calculated within the framework of U.S. labor market conditions in July 2008).
* Bolster employment especially in construction and manufacturing. Construction employment has fallen from 8 million to 7.2 million over the past two years due to the housing bubble collapse. The Green Recovery program can, at the least, bring back these lost 800,000 construction jobs.
* Provide opportunities to rebuild career ladders through training and workforce development that if properly implemented can provide pathways out of poverty to those who need jobs most. (Because green investment not only creates more good jobs with higher wages, but more jobs overall, distributed broadly across the economy, this program can bring more people into good jobs over time.)
* Help lower oil prices. Moderating domestic energy demand will have greater price effects than modest new domestic supply increases.
* Begin the reconstruction of local communities and public infrastructure all across America, setting us on a course for a long-term transition to a low-carbon economy that increases our energy independence and helps fight global warming. Currently, about 22 percent of total household expenditures go to imports. With a green infrastructure investment program, only about 9 percent of purchases flow to imports since so much of the investment is rooted in communities and the built environment, keeping more of the resources within the domestic economy.

For the full article visit the Center for American Progress's website.

What can YOU do? Send us YOUR story. What choice did you make today to live a more sustainable life? Send your first name, last initial, general locale, and what the greentech was.

Always remember: doing a little is more fulfilling than thinking that a little won't matter.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Power To and From the People

I hear far too many people argue that solar power is too expensive, impossible to store for any length of time without toxic batteries and unreliable.  I really want someone to tell me HOW it can be done, not argue for our current situation's limitations.

This is why I was so grateful to read an article in the most recent issue of Ode Magazine, entitled, 'Talkin' 'Bout My Generation".  The lights have come on!  This isn't your grandpa's centralized power system - it's a power grid remade in the image of the internet.  

"Can you imagine the generation that grew up on file-sharing, Wikipedia and MySpace surrounded by coal-fired or nuclear power plants?" asks Jeremy Rifkin, alternative energy activist and advisor to the EU and many European governments, in this article.

This future includes what are known as energy positive buildings - good guess - it means that these buildings make enough power to cover their own needs plus give back energy to the system.  These building are being constructed now!

This future also includes energy distribution that mimics the internet - a smart grid that senses where the energy is needed or not needed, where it is in surplus at any given time and how to shift it to places with a deficit.  Rifkin notes, "We can take IT to the power grid, too, and it will exceed anything you could produce with centralized coal-fired or nuclear power plants."

There's alot more good stuff in this article, more than I can quote here, so I recommend you visit the Ode Magazine page and read the entire thing.  Then I highly recommend subscribing - the magazine's tagline is 'for intelligent optimists'.  Wouldn't you like to be one of those?

Then, send us YOUR story about your sustainable choice today!  Include your first name, last initial, general locale and what your choice was.  We list you among our Friends For A Green World and believe that by joining together we can educate, model and inspire others to join us in Repowering America.

Join us.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Recycling Does Make A Difference

In my search for information about recycled paper products I came across a great website.  This group has terrific products and the prices are excellent.  I will be recommending this co-op to my school, local government offices, local non-profits and others.  I encourage you to check them out, too.  In just a few months they have made a tremendous difference - join them.

Recycled Products Cooperative 

As of 6/30/08, RPC members have purchased over 415,068 cases of 30% and 100% post-consumer recycled paper, saving:
* 91,655 trees
* 26,754,371 gallons of water
* 15,661,122 kilowatt hours of electricity
* And preventing 228,546 pounds of air pollution!

copied from the Recycled Products Cooperative homepage

Additionally, the NRDC has a useful, easy to read and take shopping list.  It gives brand names, recycled content info and bleaching info.  Recycled paper products are equal in quality to those created with virgin materials.....wait.......I'm wrong......they are superior due to the low environmental costs associated with their production.  You can find them at most mainstream stores now and if you're into online ordering you can buy any quantity you need at places like Recylcled Products Cooperative.

If you have a site that you currently use for this type of product - send us the address.  We'd love to highlight them, too. 

Remember, doing a little is more fulfilling than thinking that a little won't matter.

Send your first name, last initial, general locale and what YOUR sustainable choice was today!

Join us.