Thursday, December 17, 2009
Baltimore County gets with the program! Single stream recycling begins February 1,2010.
On December 10, 2009, County Executive Jim Smith announced that single stream recycling collection will begin on February 1, 2010 for all 240,000 single family homes and townhomes, and multi family units that currently have recycling collection. In an effort to make it very easy for residents to recycle, they will be able to use a wide variety of containers to place single stream recyclables out for collection, though plastic bags will no longer be accepted in the single stream program. Additionally, residents will be able to recycle more items than they can in the current program.
As the County moves forward with its single stream recycling collection program for homes that already have recycling collection, Bureau of Solid Waste Management staff will also be working to bring apartments and condominium units without recycling collection into the program.
For more information on the County's transition to single stream recycling collection, please visit www.bcrecycles.com.
Monday, December 14, 2009
You can track his travels and view powerpoint presentations like this one he just gave at Copenhagen this week.
The infrared photo on this post illustrates the sort of technologies he mentioned in the context of rolling out home energy outreach programs,
There are also some neat images of the world map, showing areas of heavy energy use and population density, which reminded me of maps I've seen at www.darksky.org
Incidentally, here's the page I was looking for during my surf: energy saving tips for consumers, and plenty of other links nearby like www.energysavers.gov and the EERE blog ...
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
The International Code Council (ICC) develops standards and guidelines for building safety, fire prevention, construction practices... and now sustainability. These days they're working on a green building code for commercial building in the USA.
This article at Philly.com describes work by the ICC's Sustainable Building Technology Committee on the new green building code. California and Pennsylvania are the only two states with government representatives on the panel.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Read blog article here, or go straight to the UPS carbon webpage.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Neat articles about a straw bale house with reference links to straw building and sustainable construction,
low-cost modular housing www.myabod.com,
master woodworkers both traditional (Nakashima) and modern (Scrapile, made from scraps collected by NY Wa$tematch),
and fun, classic toys like Lincoln logs (did you know they were created in 1916 by Frank Lloyd Wright's son John?).
Image from Scrapile.com
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
After the Senator was acquired by Baltimore City, the Baltimore Development Corporation issued a Request for Proposals to "renovate and rejuvenate the Senator into an active and vibrant center for the community."
I'm biased in favor of our Towson University radio station's submittal: WTMD's general manager posted this blog entry about their proposal to use the space for its originally-intended purpose: movies, music, and events to bring the community together.
This is an elegant solution that addresses both historic preservation of this lovely Art Deco structure and fostering community in Belvedere Square and beyond. I hope they have the opportunity to realize this endeavor!
Read a related Baltimore Sun article here.
Other great historic local theatres: The Charles and the Rotunda Cinematique.
Monday, November 16, 2009
In the prosperity/economy vein, I've previously shared posts from Cheapskate Monthly (a newsletter and website at www.Debtproofliving.com, by Mary Hunt). Recently I discovered another blog about personal finance that blends commonsense money advice with book reviews and a Lifehacker-esque vibe: thesimpledollar.com
One of my favorite posts this week proposed uncluttering your house as a means of improving your productivity and saving money. As a recovering maximalist, this idea really appeals to me. He says, and I quote: "I link to Unclutterer [blog] frequently because I believe there is a strong connection between clutter and financial problems, since clutter represents having more physical possessions than you can manage and all of those possessions cost money. Plus, dealing with clutter requires a time investment and in our busy lives, time has a very high value."
He also mentions Getting Things Done, a highly-recommended book about productivity. He doesn't mention
www.storyofstuff.com but the concept video came to mind as I was pulling together links for this post. Enjoy!
Compact Discs (CDs) www.cdrecyclingcenter.org/
Yoga Mats www.theboldermatcompany.com (refurbishes and donates yoga mats to charity and gives you a $5 coupon for the website)
75 things you didn't know you could compost
And for any fellow equestrians cleaning out their attics: horse show ribbons www.ribbonrehab.com and Hodges Badge company. (in Horse & Rider magazine I saw an article about donating ribbons to theraputic riding charities, but now I can't find the link: consider this option also!)
The other day my housemate pointed out that we rarely put out more than one trash bag per week, compared to our neighbors' two to five trash bags. If we had to pay per trash bag like some of my friends in other states, we'd be saving a lot of money!
Friday, November 6, 2009
Read the NYTimes article
and his website www.wholetreesarchitecture.com/
PS one of the blogs I follow (digginginthedriftless.wordpress.com/) is written by a journalist whose daughter works for this architecture firm.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
I think I want a new shower head. (why now? just kidding... sortof)
EPA specifications for watersense shower heads state that they should use less than 2 gallons per minute (gpm) at 80 pounds per square inch (psi) of water pressure.
Here are links to a hand shower with decent ratings from Home Depot customers, or a more traditional shower head.
While we're on the topic of saving water in the bathroom, here are some easy, low-cost things you can do:
Fill up an old water bottle (free) and put it in your toilet tank to decrease the gallons per flush (1.6 gpf is the current standard)
Install an aerator ($5) in your sink faucet to get 1.5gpm. Basically, an aerator introduces air into the water flow to make it feel stronger. Laminar flow devices employ a different concept, but also save water (here's a random thread about laminar vs. turbulent flow in the kitchen sink... but I digress.)
Get drain strainers ($2-3) for sink and shower drains to eliminate hair clogs so you won't need to use Drano or other nasty chemicals to unblock them later. An ounce of prevention, as they say...
EPA's watersense site
Home Depot's water wise page and Eco Options site
Sierra Club green home page
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Instead of trying to round up every green event in the Baltimore area myself, I'd like to share the extensive list assembled by Lisa Ferretto of Hord Coplan Macht. Thanks to Lisa for creating and sharing this resource!
The October list is posted here:
You can sign up for the monthly email newsletter at HCM's website here:
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Slides from presentations are available at the B2B website here.
Here's a sampling of what I learned at the forum...
The Green Building Institute in Jessup offers courses in all aspects of green building and living.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
They're forecasting lower US heating costs this winter due to warmer temperatures and higher natural gas inventories.
Also, projected US carbon emissions from fossil fuels are down almost 6%, mostly due to the economic downturn.
The EIA has also posted a new website for consumers, described as follows:
Energy fuels cars, furnaces, national economies. It also costs money, affects our lives, and sometimes makes headlines. If you want to understand where your gasoline comes from, what determines the price of electricity, or how much renewable energy the
In other energy news,
A Renewable Energy Markets conference was held in September: presentations and whitepapers are available online at http://www.renewableenergymarkets.com/
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
In case you're looking for a good sustainble charity to support, or if you're planning ahead for Christmas gifts, or both - look no further!
Heifer International is a lovely charity that I've been supporting for years. Their projects help end hunger and save the Earth by teaching and empowering people around the world with initiatives in sustainable farming, animal management techniques, gender equality, HIV/AIDS, microenterprise, and urban agriculture.
As for the Christmas angle, you can choose items from their online gift catalog to send in honor of those hard-to-buy-for loved ones.
And right now there's a "double your gift" project for farmers in Honduras.
Charity Navigator gives Heifer International 3 of 4 stars.
Want more? Watch the Oprah Winrey show on Thursday October 1st, which was inspired by The New York Times best-selling book _Half the Sky_ by Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn.
My favorite cheapskate, Mary Hunt, recently posted some knitting resources in her newsletter for people looking to recycle or donate leftover yarn, or be on the receiving end of such goodness.
www.Ravelry.com - online community for knitters to share patterns, yarn, tips & tricks, etc.
www.ebay.com - buy or sell yarn here
Donate yarn or knitting skills to:
www.NewbornsInNeed.org - national charity dedicated to helping preemie and newborn babies
www.ProjectLinus.org - volunteers knit, crochet, or quilt blankets for sick or traumatized children
www.KnitForKids.org - a project by Guidepost magazine
www.KnittingForCharity.org - links to charity organizations
Also check with your local hospitals, churches, nursing homes, and craft stores.
Here are a few of my favorite local yarn shops:
Woolworks near Mount Washington (no website? phone 410-377-2060 or visit 6117 Falls Rd)
Lovelyarns in Hampden
Spinster Yarns & Fibers in Lauraville
Clover Hill in Catonsville
Friday, September 11, 2009
Here are some things I do...
Don't buy bottled water: one of my company's offices saved over $1000 and 6000 gallons by switching to filtered water, not to mention reduced greenhouse gas emissions from not trucking all those heavy bottles around.
Don't run water while shaving, scrubbing, brushing teeth, washing dishes, etc. Also shower less often (think like a European!).
Recycle water from rinsing or cooking produce to water your plants: added nutrients!
Use a rain barrel for watering the garden. I also use a soaker hose buried at root level with a layer of mulch. Watering in the morning reduces evaporation.
What could you do to conserve water in your life?
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Check out the research (and other fun car stuff) here...
Monday, August 10, 2009
I'm a heavy drinker... of water, that is. Lately I've noticed that Brita and Pur have been marketing water filters as a way to save money (bottled water is expensive) and the environment (processing and shipping bottled water emits unnecessary carbon dioxide). I'm a fan of both ideas. But what do you do with the filters when they're used up? Recycle 'em.
Brita has launched a filter recycling program with the Preserve Gimme 5 program, which collects #5 plastics at Whole Foods stores across the USA (unfortunately, none yet in Maryland). There are also links to join the Filter For Good program by pledging to reduce bottled water waste, and the Brita Climate Ride for bicyclists.
I was disappointed to see that Pur doesn't mention any filter recycling options on their website.
So until our local Whole Foods stores start collecting Brita filters for this program, you can mail them to the program in Cortland, NY, using ground shipping... or stockpile them at home and wait. Pur users: go write some letters!
Thursday, August 6, 2009
How much electricity does it take to run fans? I wonder if fans really are more efficient than air conditioning. Susan, Michigan
The difference in energy use between running the air conditioning and an electric fan is huge. In the typical home, air conditioning uses more electricity than anything else, about 16 percent of the total electricity used. In warmer regions, air conditioning can be 60 to 70 percent of your summer electric bill.
Electricity is measured and billed according to the number of kilowatt-hours you use with a scale of 1000 watts per hour. A 2.5-ton central air conditioning system uses 3,500 kilowatts per hour of use, which is 3.5 kWh. A medium-sized window a/c unit uses 900, or 0.90 kWh. A floor fan uses 100 watts, or 0.10 kWh on the highest speed, and a 42-inch ceiling fan set on high uses only 75, or 0.075 kWh. Where I live in California, we pay 17 cents per kilowatt-hour billed. That means it costs about $.60 per hour to run a home central air conditioner, but only 1.2 cents per hour to run a ceiling fan.
How can I get my spouse on the same page as me when it comes to saving money? I'd like to save on our electricity by using a clothesline and installing more power strips that we can switch off at night to stop the phantom load. I know both of these can significantly reduce our costs. My husband doesn't see the point to either of these ideas, nor does he like the feeling of clothes dried on a line. How can I bring him around? I'd like to reduce our cost so we can build a fund for the winter months when our power bill is sky-high. Sarah S., e-mail
Your best bet is to compromise. Make a deal with him that if you can get the laundry soft without using so much expensive energy, then he'll install a good, strong clothesline at a height and location that are best for you.
When line-dried laundry comes out stiff, it means the detergent is not getting rinsed out completely. Use only the amount of detergent recommended on the container. Add 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the last rinse to get all of the soap rinsed out. Jeans and bath towels receive the most complaints. To prevent their stiffness, remove them from the line when they are almost dry and run them through the dryer for five to 10 minutes.
Take the responsibility yourself of installing power strips and turning them off at the end of the day. Start keeping track of the amount your utility bills drop as a result of these simple techniques. Then, show him in black and white how much money you're not spending. I think he'll come around when he starts seeing those dollar signs.
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Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Been getting some interesting, unfamiliar veggies in our CSA shipments lately:
Pattypan squashes (see image) look like UFOs... bumpy, green-yellow-speckled ones with stems, that is. They have a pretty good shelf life (about a week), but best before they get rubbery: look for tight, shiny rind on squash in general. Delicious roasted with olive oil/salt/pepper and herbs, also good grilled or steamed (chop the big ones, but small ones you can steam whole - I saw them cooked this way at a fancy gala once).
Garlic scapes are delightful too: these long, swirling stalks can be chopped and steamed for a flavorful addition to soups or salads. Eat raw to repel vampires and other undesirables.
ABCs of greens:
Arugula (peppery and strong, use sparingly unless you're into that kind of thing)
Broccoli leaves (big, waxy gray-green color. chop and boil in chicken stock for soup)
Collards (saute with olive oil, salt, etc)
Zucchini update: My two plants are dying a slow death of powdery mildew, and the recent squash vine borer attack is hastening their demise, but I've got so many zucchinis piled up in the kitchen and freezer right now that I shed no tears.
Now harvesting tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers, with eggplants soon to follow. Patting myself on the back for planting parsley and basil with the tomatoes, as these herbs are a great finishing touch for salads and sandwiches.
If you've been listening to NPR lately then you already know about the CARS (aka "Cash for Clunkers") program. Read about it here.
And just today the EPA announced that its Green Vehicle guide has been updated to include 2010 models.
In related news, President Obama signed a bill that will set a national fuel economy standard of 35.5 MPG by 2016. This policy will cover car models from 2012-2016 and it's estimated that 900 million metric tons of GHG will be reduced as a result.
Curious about your current vehicle's fuel economy? Check it out here for an estimate. For a real-time test, keep track of your odometer reading the next few times you fill your gas tank: then you can calculate your actual miles per gallon.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
Meanwhile in the county... In 2008, Baltimore County made $5 million from selling recyclables. That's million with an M. That's money that they didn't have to extract from us in the form of taxes. Doesn't that sound like another compelling reason to participate in curbside recycling, in addition to keeping useful materials out of landfills and reducing the need to mine or manufacture new? In San Francisco, residents are being compelled to recycle more forcefully by way of a new law that fines people for not recycling. More cities are expected to follow suit... so get into the habit of recycling now!
Some small town residents of New York and New Jersey are required to purchase trash tags for each bag they toss. Outside town limits, residents must hire private waste haulers to pick up trash in addition to purchasing trash tags. Recycling and composting a great way to cut down your household expenses in these areas, and the locals are catching on.
Know any towns that sponsor municipal compost pickup? In typical backyard composting, it's easiest to keep your green-to-brown mix simple by using only uncooked foods free of fats and oils. However, in large scale composting operations like Waste Neutral Group based here in Baltimore, it's possible to tweak the mix such that even cooked food scraps break down properly. Baltimore County already turns our curbside yard waste pickup into mulch and compost (which is free to residents)... maybe someday they will add weekly food scrap pickup too?
In the meantime, I know what you're thinking. Composting can be a dirty business. "But I can't compost, I live in an apartment." --actually, yes you can. NatureMill makes a composter small enough to fit into a corner of your kitchen.