Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) - Population

Welcome to Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW)!

Wondering how to live greener? You've come to the right place. Each week we challenge ourselves to try a new task ... or "amp up" something we're already doing. We raise our awareness, learn from each other and develop Eco-friendly skills which will improve our lives and protect our planet. Doing so together gives us power ... the power to Change The World!

If this is your first visit, please click HERE for information and a complete list of all the challenges we've taken on so far.

This post contains great information and I encourage you to read through it at your leisure ... however, if you are short on time, you might find the following quick links helpful:


How are the trees in your area? Last week we headed out to give them a check-up. I'm happy to say that our trees are healthy and thriving. The challenge educated me on what to look for and gave me tips for ensuring their health for years to come.

The Honor Society are those people who help us spread the "green" word by writing an article about our challenges and/or leaving pertinent comments.

Argentum Vulgaris doesn't have a problem with the ALB beetle but he did find a little critter on his tomato bush. Read Change the World Wednesday – 13th Aug and see if you can identify the bug.

Mary joined us and said, "Great post! I like how this one gets us outside to check on our trees! It's very simple but is important. Thanks for sharing!"

Alica checked her tress and reported back with this: "It seems our trees look okay which is great news! Haven't really thought about checking the trees on our land but this challenge was good to make us more aware!"

Our Twitter friends joined the conversation and shared the following:

From @GiveTreeGifts
- "How can I tell if my backyard tree is diseased or dead?" http://t.co/anLgQ501ip
- Pruning at the wrong time can attract invasive bugs that can kill some species of trees. ie Dutch Elm Disease: ow.ly/AieO5
- Detecting Emerald Ash Borer Damage ow.ly/Aif2b
- Know how to spot the signs of a weak, sick or diseased tree to prevent costly emergency services. ow.ly/AifeW

From @laalicia
- RT @ShareAwakening: In the power to change yourself is the power to change the world around you. ~ Anwar Sadat

The #CTWW Gang are those folks who tweet our challenges using the hashtag #CTWW. If you're a Twitter member, I recommend following them ... they share great things. Let's meet them:

@89linz @allcollegeplan @allnaturalkatie
@artandgifts @artbysandra @bstoneblog
@chrisluce87 @collegegogreen @crazykids6
@fairytraps @foggybottomgal @freshcleanersaz
@givetreegifts @greenglobaltrvl @greenqueenofmod
@groovygreenlivi @herbgir1972 @javamazon
@kaitlingarder @kayelleallen @laalicia
@ladyjcmuses @mamasmoney @marbaird
@marjoriemcatee @moha_doha @momgamerwriter
@plasticfreetues @realityarts @romerojewelers
@sampahrumah @shannongrissom @spafloating
@stilettofiles @theworld4realz @treadmyownpath
@treesgroup @wencdj @whywelovegreen
@writerunlive

My Final Thoughts:

Most children learn about basic photosynthesis in school. They are taught that, with the help of the sun, plant life absorbs carbon dioxide and gives off oxygen. Trees are especially proficient in this regard. An average sized tree can create enough oxygen in a year to supply a family of four. In fact, they can significantly reduce global warming. That, in itself, makes them extremely valuable and worthy of our care. But there's more. Trees help eliminate pollution from the soil, waterways, and the air. They provide a home for a variety of species, including some which are endangered (often because of loss of habitat). Simply put, trees are vital!

Thanks, everyone! If you wrote an article, I Stumbled, Tweeted, Facebooked and posted it on Google +. You can help spread the "green" word by using the share features located below this post.

This Week's Challenge:

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) - Population
There are 7.2 Billion people in the world
By the year 2050, it is estimated that the world population will be 9.7 Billion. In 2012, people were responsible for 9.7 Billion Tons of carbon emissions (up from 6.1 Billion Tons in 1990). The problems associated with overpopulation (that point where the population exceeds the available natural resources required for sustainability) include access to food and clean water, substandard housing and homelessness, and waste control.

We haven't discussed this issue on Reduce Footprints. It's a sensitive subject. But, as it concerns the environment, it's worth talking about ... with respect and consideration, of course!

Here's your challenge ...

This week, let's open up the discussion on population as it affects the environment. Please leave a comment and/or write a post about your feelings on the topic. You might discuss if, in your opinion, our growing population is a concern. Perhaps talk about such things as the earth's ability to support growing numbers of people, or if the number of children we have should be regulated (and if so, by whom). While religious considerations are often a factor in a person's decision to have children, let's keep this discussion environmental in nature. Let's take an honest look at the environmental affects of population growth.

Are you ready to share your thoughts on this subject? I know that you are!

Until next time ...

WE'RE CHANGING THE WORLD ... ONE CHALLENGE AT A TIME!


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Six Reasons why cooking at home is Eco-friendly

Earlier this month, we asked how many days of the week you cook at home.

Results


Cooking at home is Eco-friendly.

Cooking at home is Eco-friendly.

Comments:
  • I eat out MAYBE once a month. And it's an organic restaurant!
  • we eat out about once a fortnight
  • Eating out is for special occasions, with the once in a while take-out when too busy to cook. Seattle has a fabulous vegan restaurant Cafe Flora!

Discussion


Everyone who answered the survey cooked at home for the majority of the week (at least 4 days out of 7).

Most people ate at home every day of the week.

Since most participants are "greenies", I wasn't really surprised by the results. After all, cooking at home is very Eco-friendly. Why? Here are some reasons:
  1. Six Reasons why cooking at home is Eco-friendly
    We typically drive to and from a restaurant. Meals at home require a quick few steps to the table.
  2. When we cook, we can control the method of cooking and choose energy-efficient ways to prepare a meal. These would include things like counter-top appliances and using the residual heat of an oven instead of cooking for the full, recommended time.
  3. Most of us use "real" plates and utensils at our table. Restaurants, especially fast food establishments, often serve in single-use, plastic containers. Even up-scale restaurants use plastic or Styrofoam containers to send food home.
  4. Six Reasons why cooking at home is Eco-friendly
    Have you noticed the huge portions served at restaurants?

    Even if we take the leftovers, there's a good chance that the food will be wasted.



  5. Some establishments are serving fresh, local products ... they are the exception. When we choose ingredients, we can be sure that we are buying local, sustainable foods.
  6. Did you know that, to meet FDA sanitation guidelines, restaurants use either bleach or ammonia (quaternary sanitizers) in their washing procedures? Both products are hard on the environment. At home, Eco-friendly detergent works just fine!

Bonus Reason:

  • Have you ever noticed how you feel after eating in a restaurant? Eating establishments are in the business of making our food taste good. They are not, necessarily, trying to provide healthy food. Generous amounts of fat, sodium, dairy, etc. are included to give us that "over the top" experience. So, while this is not an environmental reason to cook at home, it is a health reason ... foods cooked at home are better for us!

Conclusion


Eating out, once in awhile, is a treat. We can make the experience more Eco-friendly by walking to the restaurant, choosing establishments which cook local foods in appropriate amounts, etc.

In the end, even the most Eco-conscious establishment is no match for a meal made in a "green" kitchen at home.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Interview - Lisa Bell of Solarproducts.me

Interview - Lisa Bell of Solarproducts.me
Lisa Bell of Solarproducts.me
I first met Lisa Bell on Ozoshare. Her profile fascinated me. She shared a lot of great content on everyday solar products.

As I got acquainted with Lisa, I learned that she owns Solarproducts.me where, in addition to selling solar items, she educates both adults and children on solar energy. I've found wonderful articles and resources on the site.

I recently had the opportunity to ask Lisa a few questions. Here's our interview:


SF:  Hi Lisa, thanks for joining us today. When did you first become interested in solar power?

Lisa:  I have been interested in solar energy since my grown children were little. I don’t like to be wasteful and if the sunlight is there I believe we are wasting it we aren’t using it. We started the site back in 2008. Even then it was hard to find a .com with solar in it. My mom had told me that she thought we had an ancestor that was in the Blackfoot tribe. I went to the Native American Language Site and looked up the Blackfoot word for sun. It was long and unpronounceable. When my husband was in the Navy we lived out west and when we came east we passed many reservations. The Dakota Tribe interested me so I looked it up and their word for sun was Anpa Wi. We became Anpa Wi.com. Then about 2 years ago we added the domain Solarproducts.me. It sounds familiar and personal and that is the way we want people to feel when they visit our site.

SF:  How has solar power changed your life?

Lisa:  I have more lights in my yard than ever! I use the lights for everything from decorations to lighting our paths in the yard. It used to bug me when we would go off for the day and get back at night that there was no light. When you leave at 9 am you shouldn’t have to leave a light on all day just so you don’t trip at night. The solar lights that I use have photo sensors and some have motions sensors. The light does not have to be left on all day to work and it doesn’t cost me anything to use it.

I have written about, researched and gotten to try (maybe I should say play with since I have so much fun) with solar products. I am gadget lover so I like using the flashlights and the solar chargers. When I charge the batteries with solar power and put the batteries in my purse or pocket I think of it as keeping some sunshine in my pocket.

The most fun I think I had was building the solar mini house that I use for science fairs and school demonstrations. I made the floors and walls see through so that the kids can see how the wires go from the roof to the house and into the light and fan the run when the house is in the sun. I picked up some doll house furniture to go with it. That house also showed me that my carpentry skills need some work!

SF:  What, in your opinion, is the biggest misconception about solar powered products?

Lisa:  That the products are cheap and they don’t last. Also that they don’t work when the weather is overcast or cloudy. I have had some products that didn’t last as long as I thought they should have. I decided that quality was the better choice so I have taken on a lot of products that are American made. The manufacturers have been very helpful. Our SolarGoose flashlights are made in America from recycled Aluminum. The Gomadic portable solar panels are also made here and I have found the quality on both be very high.

SF:  I notice that you sell solar products on your site. What are some of the more popular items?

Lisa:  Our flashlights are very popular and so are the outdoor lights. I think the most popular are the portable solar panels otherwise known as solar battery chargers. I take them to craft fairs to charge phones and other devices as a courtesy.

SF:  Solar energy is very "green". What other steps do you take to live an Eco-friendly life?

Lisa:  I didn’t think we did that much until I started looking around the house. I know there is a lot more that we could do but here is what I have so far.
  • Interview - Lisa Bell of Solarproducts.me
    I have painted up a silhouette of a Greyhound (I volunteer at the local shelter). The wood that it was cut out of was repurposed from a crate they got. The hound has one of my solar lights around its neck.
  • In my craft business/ hobby, I use repurposed slates to paint on and I have gotten wood from a local children’s furniture company that they were going to throw out.
  • I reuse plastic peanut butter jars for use in the kitchen and I use them to give food gifts at the holidays. I use old medicine bottles to save my small craft and other small items.
  • I reuse the plastic takeout containers for use in my kitchen. They recycle a lot more than plastic zip bags, which I also reuse, and they are clear so it is a lot easier to organize.
  • I donate old blankets to the local animal shelters and old clothing goes to people who need it.
  • I shop at yard sales and thrift stores for some things as well.

SF:  Do you utilize solar and/or photovoltaic panels on your home?

Lisa:  No, we don’t have an array for the house. We are renting in anticipation of moving to our own home. We have plans already in place to use solar energy when we do move.

SF:  Any advice for folks interested in solar power?

Interview - Lisa Bell of Solarproducts.me
Solar Fountain Pump
Lisa:  Yes. Remember solar energy is not something that you have to either go big or go home with. If you are not familiar with it start small. Use quality small products like battery chargers and flashlights. Keep them on hand for emergency or everyday use. They are so easy to use, just set them in the sun and go about your business. It doesn’t get much easier than that. When you have used the small products you will be more mentally prepared to go to your own solar electric and hot water systems. I find that when people get familiar with solar energy, or anything, it doesn’t seem nearly as mysterious and then they move forward with more projects.

SF:  Thanks, Lisa ... it's been a pleasure chatting with you!

Lisa:  Thank you for inviting me. I have enjoyed reading your blog and I am happy to be a part of it!

Lisa: Thank you for having me on a Small Footprints. I love getting to chat with others like this. I wanted to let you know that you and a few others inspired me to do a basics article about things to consider when you want to put in a solar energy system. Go to this link and follow the instructions to get the free download. Also stay tuned as we will be getting a little more technical with the next article.

Have a very Sunny Day!

If you would like to contact me you may do so at:
Lisa@Solarproducts.me
Our Website: http://www.solarproducts.me/
Our Phone number: 866.478.9080