How Much Plastic Do You Use Every Day?

bales of blue plasticContributed by Edward Woodward

A lot of people don’t realize just how much plastic they use on a daily basis.

Even if you do recycle it, it’s still better if you don’t use too much of it in the first place.

Plastic accounts for around 10 percent of the total waste we generate.

Take a moment to think about all the things you use that are made from plastic every day. Most people use things like plastic bottles, food containers, bags, beauty products, cleaning containers and household tools. Continue reading

Does Duke Energy hate solar power?

Duke Energy resists home solar panels

Photographer’s caption: The rails that will hold the solar panels in place are up, and we are wrapping up at the end of Day 1 of installing the panels on a low-income house in Oakland, California.

Duke Energy operates in the Southeast and Midwest. But it has just purchased development rights to a large (130 MW) solar project in California. It will sell the electricity to Southern California Edison.

It has also pledged $500 million to expand its solar generating capacity in North Carolina. That’s no help for homeowners who want third-party financing for their own systems.

According to Duke’s web site,

More and more people across the U.S. are looking for greater renewable energy choices, and solar plays an increasingly important role in the way Duke Energy provides electricity to our customers.

Already, it’s helping homeowners, businesses and governmental organizations meet part of their energy needs. And as the cost of solar installations continues to decrease nationwide, it’s easier for customers to choose solar.

Just not in North Carolina and similar states. NC Warn claims, “Duke Energy is trying to destroy our growing solar industry to protect its ‘build plants, raise rates’ business plan and monopoly control.” The article later asks, “Why does Duke Energy hate solar?” Duke obviously doesn’t hate solar. Yet it just as obviously stands in the way of rooftop solar installations for North Carolina residentsContinue reading

12 Simple, Affordable Ideas to Go Green Now

Contributed by Organic LessonEarth in hands, ways to go green

Earth Day started 46 years ago. People were concerned about excessive dam building, pesticides, pollution, and tainted food.

Leaders of the first Earth Day succeeded politically. Congress passed landmark legislation and established the Environmental Protection Agency.

Everyone completely neglected to consider what individual Americans could do to go green. Continue reading

How to rid the oceans of plastic? Ocean Cleanup Project

Ocean Cleanup Project arrayWhen you think of the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” you might envision an area in the ocean full of yogurt cups and other debris.

Some say it’s the size of Texas and visible from space. Why doesn’t anyone do something about it?

Actually, the trip to the patch has broken the yogurt cups down to tiny little pieces. You can’t see it unless you’re there.

And the fragments aren’t as close together as you might imagine. The plastic is actually a bigger problem that way. And unfortunately, the ocean has at least five gyres, rotating currents where plastic can float in, but not out. Continue reading

Why unexpected companies embrace renewable energy

Wind farm--renewable energy

Wind farm

Corporations you might never have guessed have begun to make significant investments in renewable energy. And that despite legal uncertainty as the administration’s Clean Power Plan awaits a Supreme Court decision before it can go into effect.

Google bought the most renewable energy last year. Again. But first time buyers, including companies not known for support of environmental causes made two-thirds of business purchases. Continue reading

The Nature Conservancy: quiet protector of land

The Nature Conservancy at Table Rocks

Table Rocks environmental education, southwest Oregon. Joint project of the Bureau of Land Management and The Nature Conservancy

Perhaps you, too, have heard of The Nature Conservancy, but don’t know much about it. I recently attended an eye-opening presentation.

I have visited and enjoyed places that The Nature Conservancy helped preserve, but I never knew it.

Founded in 1951, it’s not as old as the Audubon Society or Sierra Club. It’s not as confrontational or headline seeking as Greenpeace. Continue reading

Waste disposal: there’s no such place as away

waste disposal: duck with litterIf you live in the U.S., then your share of one day’s production of trash is about four and a half pounds. Besides what you throw away personally, everything you buy represents a lot of trash before it gets to the store shelves.

We say we throw stuff away, but where’s away? Out of the house. Out of town perhaps, but not out of this world. It’s all right here somewhere.

Too much of it ends up as litter. Proper waste disposal means most of it goes to the landfill. Some towns are returning to the old practice of building incinerators. Of course, some trash gets recycled. All of these practices have undesirable environmental consequences. Continue reading

Your eco-friendly garden

It’s March. You’ve started to think about your garden, haven’t you? It’s probably not trying to plant yet, but it certainly time start planning.

Perhaps you intend to plant same vegetables you’ve always planted. Or perhaps you’re thinking of planting your first garden. Maybe you only want to plant flowers and shrubbery.

Some ways of planting and caring for a garden are more eco-friendly than others.

If you’re a first-time gardener, the following infographic will give you pointers for how to start your garden without using unnecessary and harmful chemicals. It will also give you ideas for taking care of your grass. Continue reading

Renewable energy growing despite roadblocks

House with both solar panels and wind turbine

House with both solar panels and wind turbine

Nevada legislature has lately made energy news. It has put roadblocks in the way of rooftop solar and distributed energy. It’s not likely to succeed. Renewable energy appears to be an unstoppable force.

Here’s some recent good news about renewable energy from China and the US. These stories help  show the inexorable rise of solar and wind power at the expense of fossil fuels

Growth of renewable energy

China has long fouled its air through aggressive use of fossil fuels. It suffers 670,000 smog-related deaths every year.

As a result pollution is the top cause of social unrest. Its struggles to clean up enough to host the Olympics became a matter of worldwide knowledge and comment.

But in 2015, coal production, coal imports, and coal-fired electricity generation all fell. Decreases aren’t limited to making electricity. The iron, steel, and cement industries have also used less coal. Continue reading

How ocean pollution affects humans

eco friendly habitsContributed by Andrew Dilevics

We have so much to thank the oceans for. Polluting them with rubbish and toxic chemicals is not really the way we should be saying thank you.

The oceans cover more than 71% of the world’s surface. The ‘Global Ocean’ is so vast that it has been divided into 5 individual oceans, which are all connected.

The oceans provide more than 50% of the oxygen that we breathe and more than 96% of the world’s water supply. Continue reading