Monday, December 19, 2011

Here's another good one from our Centerville Intern, Erica Coulter. Hope you are all looking forward to a happy, healthy, and sustainable 2012!

Each year I make a list of New Year’s resolutions, just like many other people, except I usually forget about them after a month or two.  It always goes a little something like this:  exercise more, spend more time with the family, get organized, create world peace, etc. (Alright, the last one was a bit far-fetched, I know, but the New Year is supposed to be the best one yet, right?).  In January I manage to do 30 minutes of yoga each day, I eat dinner with my parents every night, I clean out my closet, but my list always magically disappears in the clothes pile that I should have picked up before February.  So, I began to wonder why this always seems to happen to me.  Could it be that I am unmotivated?  No, I tend to throw myself into my work.  Could it be that I have set my goals too high?  No, I at least managed to complete the list for a month, plus this is the time for dreaming big.  So this leaves me with one more option:  my goals are boring.

That’s it!  Every year I simply copy last year’s list, hoping that it will get itself done, and so, I have got to change it up.  Once I had this epiphany, then I had to come up with some ideas.  Not surprisingly, due to being a volunteer at CEC, I decided that this list should include new, exciting ways to “green” my life.  We all know that we should recycle and car pool, but I mean I need fresh ways to be a environmental warrior.  One warrior cannot do it all by herself, so I am enlisting you.  Here are some ideas:

1.        Begin the switch to reusable tote bags each time that you go to the store.  Cute designs are available now, right in the check-out line, so it should be easy to purchase one each time that you make the trip to the grocery.  In a flash your cart will be filled with a fashionable and environmentally-friendly way to transport your goodies.
2.        Grow a houseplant!  I do not have the greenest thumb, but putting a live plant in your home can reduce harmful chemicals and improve the air quality in your home, so I figure I will at least try.  Some ideal plants to choose are daisies, aloe, and herbs (these can be used in cooking, which is a plus if you ask me!).
3.        Stop using coffee stirrers.   This may sound ridiculous to ban such a tiny item, but every year Americans throw away 138 billion of them and they go straight to the landfill for the next few hundreds of years.  Instead, pour your coffee in after the cream and sugar.  If you must stir your Cup o’ Joe, make your own with long pieces of pasta. 
4.        Use your cruise control whenever possible. You can improve your gas mileage by up to 15% just by doing this.  What an easy way to save at the pump and prevent the unnecessary use of this resource!
5.        Pick one fewer napkin when eating out.  The average American uses an average of 6 napkins per day and if every person decreased this number to 5, we could save more than one billion pounds of napkins each year.  That is a lot more space in the landfill and many more trees standing.
If each one of us could make these five ideas a habit, just think of the impact we could have on the environment!  So this year, in between the house-cleaning and healthy-eating goals, don’t forget about Mother Nature.  Stick with these tips and you will be a lean, “green”, cleaning machine in 2012.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

This is the first blog post from our Centerville High School Intern, Erica Coulter. We are lucky to have Erica, in addition to two other interns, join us throughout the week at CEC. The interns are a fantastic help and donate an average of 11.5 hours per week of their time!

A Tree-rific Holiday
By: Erica Coulter

The smell of fresh pine and the look of a twinkling masterpiece entices many of us to purchase a tree for our homes during the holidays. However, there are many options when it comes to choosing your perfect plant and the burden of this decision can weigh on those who have the environment in mind. So, which version of this holiday classic is best: the fresh-from-the-farm option or a pre-lit one from the store?

At first thought, you may agree that a fresh tree is the way to go. This version provides oxygen to us humans, homes for wildlife, and can be recycled when the holiday season ends. Also, most fresh trees are grown on tree farms and therefore are sustainable. They are planted every year, take about 4-5 years to reach maturity, and once they are chopped down, they are replaced with future Christmas trees.

Others consider artificial trees to be the better route to take. These trees can be reused every year and they do not require the water that fresh trees do. This, along with the fact that they are slightly easier to assemble, sells them to many people. However, many believe that the material of which they are made outweighs their set-up ease. Petroleum, a non-renewable resource, is the main ingredient when producing these trees and production often occurs in countries where environmental laws are not as strict; therefore the air and water suffer heavy pollution. Again, though there are negatives with this choice, the re-usability of this tree is a major plus.

So which do we choose? Well, the only sure-fire way we can promote sustainability is in how we dispose of them. Real trees are recyclable and the Cope Environmental Center can help with Christmas tree collection. Your tree can be given a second life and give back to Mother Nature as mulch on our trails. For more information, go to our website, or call (765) 855-3188. If, however, you have chosen an artificial tree, the most important thing is that you do not dispose of it too frequently. Often these types of trees are used for an average of 5 years and then they find their way to the landfill. Try to beat this average and simply decorate yours in a fresh way each year.

Whichever type of tree you choose, there is always an easy way to promote sustainability. Now, with these DOable tips in mind, you can make the decision that fits you best. Happy choosing!