Archive for October, 2012

Greetings! It has been a long week but I have continued with my very first initiatives with staying on track with my sustainable efforts daily. Next week, the apartment complex will let me know if some of the apartment buildings have any reductions in water consumption. I am excited to see if anyone implementing the tips from my Reduce the Use, brochure I made. I can say my electricity bill this month went down $48.20 also reducing CO2 emissions by 250 lbs.I have Green Mountain Energy by the way, the bill is very detailed in your difference contribution. Remember energy and water conservation goes hand and hand.

Now, let’s talk about where we left off last week. I mentioned how digital technology uses coal-fired power plants that contribute to global-warming along with mountaintop removal, and where most electronics end up called e-waste. I did more research this week than I have contributing to the reduction because I needed to learn more about the topic in general and ways I could spread awareness. A study released by the Consumer Electronic Association in June found just 10.2 million of 119 million U.S. households are estimated to have enrolled in energy management programs, however two-thirds of consumers lack understanding of the smart grid. This is the two-thirds I hope to eventually reach or others continue this trend to spread awareness of e-waste. Don’t forget to use your energy and water calculator!  Here is my footprints behind the start of my journey to erase e-waste. Make sure you mark your calendar for next year as we just passed E-Waste Recycling Week from October 21st-27th this year.

Erase your E-waste

The first thing I needed to know is where I could go to recycle some of my old electronics, since I have 2 older Blackberrys, a keyboard, an anciet VCR, and well if I keep digging in my storage, I’m sure I’ll find more. So let’s know where to go- Click on the link and put in your zip code and WALA! you have the closest recycling resource for electronics-http://www.greenergadgets.org/Recycle-Electronics.aspx. The locations available uses strict standards and are third-party certified recyclers of our gidgets and gadgets.

The second piece which should really be the first when it comes to saving money is knowing if your devices actually still have value-that’s right what’s in it for you if you recycle your electronics. Here is a brief list!

  1. Amazon.com gives a gift-card through its trade-in program
  2. Kodak offers a mail-in cash program for old digital cameras and printers
  3. Recyclebank will give you points for recycling that can be used for discounts and merchandise.
  4. You can always give it away-(I took my VCR and all of my VHS to a nursing home this weekend)
  5. Recycle it!

There are many other ways if you choose not to donate your electronics..How about we UPGRADE what you already have. Sounds like a plan, right?  If you are an Iphone lover and you have the 4S and want the 5- I suggest you save your $299-599 on a new phone and just upgrade your software for FREE..guess what? It is the exact same thing. Plus the phone did not change colors but if you want a change go to http://www.skinit.com.  According to EPA for every million cellphone we recycle, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium can be removed. WOW!  This is our start in gathering old electronics and making a difference to erase e-waste.

Go go gadget

In the next week I am going to work with my apartment complex, friends, and family to collect all broken, old, and unwanted electronics and see how we can erase our e-waste. I have some really great ideas for next week’s journey-guess you will have to wait to find out what I have come up with and the many electronics I will have collected. Until then remain and sustain!

 

MB

References:

Recycle Electronics. (n.d). Greener Gadgets. Retrieved on October 29, 2012 from http://www.greenergadgets.org/Recycle-Electronics.aspx

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Erase E-Waste

Posted: October 22, 2012 in Remain and Sustain(ability)

Welcome back to those have kept up with my sustainable journey. I have actually become a bit habitual in my water conservation habits, to an almost obsessive behavior, like turning off the water when I see someone at work leaving it run while they are in the refrigerator getting their lunch, to turning off every light without a presence in the room, and unplugging every appliance in sight. However, I focused on saving energy in many ways, some unfortunately, because of time constraints, like eating nothing but microwavable foods.  *sings* HOT POCKETS!!! But, I am compelled to make a slight adjustment in my action plan and direction of this week.

I joined a group at work called the “Green Team DFW,” I am member 301. The Green Team helps the business and the environment in making and planning sustainable solutions. I received my first member’s newsletter and found a disturbing article about during the Texas drought in 2011 more than 300 million trees died. This is really devestating to learn because our environment needs trees to help conserve water, and improve the quality of air. Funny, I use to hear this guy always say, “Save the leaves, not the trees!” Guess, that has meaning to me now even if it was an inside joke then,which I apparently missed.  Oddly enough, leaves happen to absorb carbon dioxide from the air to form carbohydrates that are used in the plant’s structure and function.  In this process, the leaves then absorb other air pollutants-such as carbon monoxide, ozone, sulfur oxide, and gives off oxygen. I know this because I read the benefits of trees. Smile, I am really smart though!

So this led me to my next focus for the week, and that was to concentrate my efforts on how I can help save our trees. I thought by going paperless would make me feel empowered and hero to fighting the global warming epidemic, but I was a little off by what I discovered. I found that I was degrading the environment with use of more digital media rather than trying to reduce how much paper I use (especially because I love paper), now in this argument it does not suggest that one has more of an environmental impact but what it did provoke was awareness of major causes of deforestation with use of cell phones, game consoles, computers, telecommunication networks like cable, and data centers such as Google. No need to be shocked, we all here know paper has caused pollution, but what we did not realize, including myself is that  digital technology uses coal-fired power plants contributing significantly to global warming. That one of those hmmm moments I had. I especially feel even guiltier now for my Wii, Playstation 3, and XBox 360 that I hardly ever use. Here’s a fact, Greenpeace estimates that by 2020 data centers will demand more electricity than is currently demanded by France, Brazil, Canada and Germany combined. Chances are that the electricity flowing through your digital media devices and their servers is linked to mountaintop-removal coal from the Appalachian Mountains. Say what?????

Mountain-top removal

Can you believe that? If this concerns you the way it has baffled me, then check on this link and check out your connection to mountain-top removal http://ilovemountains.org/my-connection!

I am not going to wait to plant a tree on Arbor Day, but I must find a way to reduce what they call e-waste. Learn how I do this next week!

Here are a few awareness tidbits on how digital technology makes up 5% of all municipal solid waste worldwide.

  • Most of e-waste gets dumped in Africa and Asia some exported to Pakistan.
  • Electronic waste, intended to be recycled, was illegally exported to UK    and Nigeria for search of metals that can be sold.
  • China is a popular destination for e-waste from the US and Europe. Old electronics are dismantled by hand and the toxic waste is dumped in streams and fields.

Learn more how e-waste affects the world around us next week!

Erase E-waste

In the meantime think of your contribution when you are getting your next upgrade whether that be the new Iphone 5, the Microsoft Surface,  or the latest gadget that may not be of much importance when comparing the impacts of e-waste.

 

MB

References:

E-waste. (n.d). Retrieved on October 22, 2o12 from http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/campaigns/toxics/hi-tech-highly-toxic/e-waste/

Benefits of Trees. (n.d). Retrieved on October 21, 2012 from http://www.treesaregood.com/treecare/tree_benefits.aspx

Hylton. H. (2011, August 11).Forget Irene: The Drought in Texas is Catastrophe That Could Really Hurt. Retrieved on October 21, 2012 from http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2091192,00.html

 The E-waste problem. (n.d). Retrieved on October 22, 2012 from http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/toxics/electronics/the-e-waste-problem/where-does-e-waste-end-up/

     What a journey thus far! I am about a month in with keeping track of my sustainability journey, and conserving water has not only made me aware of my bad habits, but I have also learned quite a bit on how I negatively affect my environment, my future, and generations yet to come.  I will be more excited when I see the water bill for my apartment as well as my entire apartment complex. Last week, I implemented a brochure that gave my neighbors an outlook on how to reduce their own water footprint, which ideally helps reduce the use, and to initially save monthly on the water utility bill. I am going to push the envelope a little further over the next few weeks to see if I can get this brochure or a small outline of tips on the apartment complex website. It’s all about awareness, right? Not too certain on the outcome, but if I do not make the attempt, how will I ever know. So now that’s been said, I really, really should work on my waste of energy.

Save Money. One switch at a time!

Funny, I would rather waste energy to save energy. Think about it? Have you ever been in a room where you were watching television, noticed you left your phone downstairs, and instead of going back upstairs to watch television, you just turn on another one much closer to you? No? Or how about when you are just too exhausted from studying, in my case, or that one day you finished the first day of the Insanity workout, and instead of turning off the light, you pull the covers over your head? Technically that is still lights out. Not once have I ever thought about how saving energy could benefit me, or that wasting energy was a big deal. Now, it makes sense why my mother would always tell me I waste so much electricity growing up. I have and still have no regard for conserving energy. Well, that was then, now I am much more concern about my tomorrow. So this week, I have focused on some of the following ways to save energy, starting from my daily worst habits to those I can surely change. Ensure you do not repeat my opposite! Need help? Ready, Set, Switch your habits too!

  1.  Turning off the lights when there is no occupancy that area/ or when lights are not needed.
  2. Unplugging every appliance when not in use (Xbox360, Playstation3, Wii, phone charger, computer)
  3.  Washing clothes on a cold water temperature setting.
  4.  Change the light bulbs to those more efficient.
  5. Use more of the ceiling fans in each room rather than turning on the AC (Texas weather-unpredictable!)
  6. Ensure dishwasher is fully loaded before running.

My journey for the week is just beginning, but I know with practice makes perfect. Check out these no cost tips!

                                                                                      READY, SET, SWITCH…..

*Scrape do not rinse dishes before loading the dishwasher. Pre-rinsing can use up to 20 gallons of water.

*Open blinds and shades. Turn off lights in unoccupied areas or in spaces with sufficient natural lighting.

*Clean the lint from the clothes dryer after every load. The efficiency of the dryer goes down when lint collects over the dryer filter. Run full loads and use the moisture-sensing setting. Save 5% on your electric bill.

*Use microwave ovens to save energy. Microwave ovens are about 33% more efficient than convection ovens and 66% more efficient than conventional ovens.

 

MB

     References:

 Flex your Power. (n.d). Retrieved on October 14, 2012 from http://www.fypower.org/

A Flex Alert Means Save Energy Now. (n.d). Retrieved on October 14, 2012 from http://flexalert.org/

As we discussed last week about my practices on saving and reducing my water consumption, I have yet to feel like I have made positive contributions this week. Habits are hard to break, but I am now very conscious about not leaving water to run while I brush my teeth, or wait to get in the shower. I focused another week to reducing my water footprint because I can do more, and I find that water is essential for our daily needs, not just for humans but for our environment as well.

This week, I actually made handout for my apartment complex, called, “Reduce the use,” this handout listed many great practices for my neighbors, and for myself to implement. I want to make this my largest contribution as I focus on water conservation.

Conserving water can also extend the life your septic system by reducing soil saturation, and reducing any pollution due to leaks. The smaller amount of water flowing through these systems, the lower the likelihood of pollution (25 ways to conserve water in the home and yard, 2012).

Below you will find a sample of great practices that I included in my pamplet that can also help your contribution and help keep our water abundant.

*** Check faucets and pipes for leaks – A small drip from a worn faucet washer can waste 20 gallons of water per day. Larger leaks can waste hundreds of gallons.

*** Do  not use the toilet as an ashtray or wastebasket- Every time you flush a cigarette butt, facial tissue, or other small bit of trash, five to seven gallons is wasted.

   —75% of water used is in the bathroom, and 25% of this is for the toilet

*** Take shorter showers- One way to cut down on water use is to turn off the shower after soaping up, then turn back on to rinse. A four minute shower uses approximately 20 to 40 gallons of water.

Changes made in our home will add up quickly in neighborhoods across the country. If one in every 10 American homes upgrades a full bathroom with WaterSense labeled fixtures, we could save about 74 million gallons of water and about $1.6 billion in our utility bills nationwide per year (EPA).

I have made significant changes in my behaviors because I am guilty in my efforts and I have lacked responsibility in my awareness of my behaviors to save water.  Make the commitment today and REDUCE YOUR USE~

MB

                         References:

Connect with Watersense.(2012). EPA. Retrieved on October 6, 2012 from http://www.epa.gov/owm/water-efficiency/our_water/connect_with_watersense.html

25 ways to conserve water in the home and yard. (2012). Eartheasy. Retrieved on October 6, 2012 from http://eartheasy.com/live_water_saving.htm