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[ Curb Alternatives ]

It doesn’t have to end this way.

  1. Treecycling Programs
    Tree recycling and mulching programs are offered in most towns and cities. Check with your local department of public works on whether your community has a pick up or if you need to drop off your tree to be made into mulch. Also in some places they offer mulch to be picked up for personal use.
  2. Give Cover
    If you would like, you can keep the tree and use the needles as mulch. Pine needles dry quickly and decompose slowly. Ground covering crops, such as strawberries love resting on these mold free and moisture hardy mulch. The boughs can also be cut off and used to layover perennial plants, protecting them from the snow and heavy frost.
  3. Chip, Chip Hooray
    A fun afternoon might be renting a chipper and making mulch for personal use. When spring comes you will be ready to spread the chips. Chips suppress weeds and when decomposition happens nutrients are released into your soil.
  4. Trunk Coasters (Yes, it’s a thing)
    If you prefer you can cut the trunk into 2 inch discs and line walkways and flower gardens. Thinner slabs cut off the trunk can be used as coasters. Just apply a thin coat of polyurethane to keep sap off your furniture and glassware.
  5. Bird Sanctuary
    If you have the space, take that tree in its stand outdoors. A Bird Sanctuary can be made by filling bird feeders and hanging them on boughs. Gather pine-cones and coat them with peanut butter and string popcorn. When the tree is brittle, chip it up into mulch.
  6. Burial at Sea/Pond
    If you live close to a lake or pond and your tree is chemical free, contact the proper authorities and find out if your tree can be sunk and made into a sheltering habitat for fish.
  7. Great Barrier Wreath
    Christmas Trees were used in New Jersey to help the sand dunes recover from Hurricane Sandy. If you live near a beach, you might call the local department of public works to see if Christmas Trees are used for shoreline stabilization.

So when the Holidays are over, don’t throw away that Real Christmas Tree. Take advantage of that tree being biodegradable and give back to the environment. A great way to be green.

[ It’s Sorta Easy, Bein’ Green! ]

I take a lot of flak for my attempts at being a little more “green.”  Kermit the Frog even sang a song about how it’s not easy…being green, that is.  But, every day, I try a little bit to make my proverbial carbon footprint a little smaller.  A morning work place chat over coffee and diet cola often leads to me gently reminding a colleague to not throw that empty bottle in the trash or I will shove it up your-…of course, “gently” may be left up for debate if you were to ask him.

A fanatic for recycling of bottles, cans, cardboard, and paper, I often root through trash cans at home and at work to ensure colleagues haven’t thoughtlessly discarded a recyclable Diet Coke bottle or a Poland Spring Water Bottle.  I know, that with each plastic bottle I recycle, I save room in landfills, I allow for a second life for the plastic in the bottle, and we will require that much fewer fossil fuels to be drilled for or expelled from the earth just to carefully encase delicious cola or refreshing water.   I lovingly recycle these bottles, cans, papers, and the like…And, by ME, I mean, I make my husband take them out to the bin.  It’s not easy for HIM to be green, either.

My husband, although reluctantly supportive of my efforts, tolerates the “green” products I buy at Wegmans.  From Dish Soap to Detergents, from Method to Seventh Generation, our home is a monument to “green,” “cruelty free,” and “socially responsible” cleaning products, personal care products, and I like it that way.  Knowing using toothpaste uses Pre-Consumer paper for the box, that the toothpaste itself has often been cruelly and thoughtlessly tested on unwilling and neglected animals, and that my toothpaste spittle pollutes our waterways has made me switch from the national brand to a “green” brand.

By my estimation, I may spend a few dollars more every month on products that are “greener,” I wholeheartedly believe that my dollars are well spent.  It isn’t easy to be green, but it sure does feel good.  I know, that in my little corner of Rochester, plastic bottles will get re-used, soda cans can be recycled, saving enough energy to power a light bulb for 4 hours, I know that the products I buy, from my recycled plastic (Made in the USA, to boot!) door mat to the Seventh Generation Laundry Soap that uses a cardboard bottle for easy recycling, will make a difference to generations to come.   In my delightfully optimistic mind, I fantasize that “Green Energy Efforts” will become so fashionable, that every yard will have a wind turbine, and, every kitchen, a solar powered oven with an organic chicken delightfully roasting inside for Sunday dinner!  And, at long last, I will be hip, I’ll be a pioneer, and I’ll be super awesome because I’m super green!  And, I’ll be hip.  So hip.  Because I’m so green!

That’s my main goal, with these little things I do every day…it may not be easy being green, but it sure was easy for ME go grow up on a lush, green national forest in Pennsylvania.  I want our future to look as green as our past!  And, it would be so awesome to be hip.

-Jesse

[ Japanese firm creates “ice pack” bra for woman ]

ice bra

In Rochester, us women are used to freezing them off in the winter. Now, a company in Japan has found a way to keep the ladies cool in the summer too with the ice bra. No, you didn’t read that wrong…I said ice bra.

The Japanese bra company, Triumph, made the ice bra to save energy in the hot summer months. It has built in gel ice packs on the cups that look like little miniature fish tanks. But wait! There’s more! The bra also comes with a miniature decorative paper fan, Japanese wind chime in the middle, a sprig of mint for a “refreshing scent”, and a little scooper ladle thing to pour water on yourself too (because we usually ladle ourselves with water in the summer lol).

Before you start trying to imagine people walking around Charlotte Beach with these this summer, the bra is not going to be sold. Instead the company makes off-beat bras such as this to bring awareness to the public. The ice bra was made after Japan’s nuclear reactors all shut down leaving the people with no electricity.

1 Thing you can do – dress down in the summer months to keep cool and not have to crank the ac. Or if you end up attempting to make your own ice bra, let me know if they can double as floaties in the pool too!

[ Will the Fracking boom bypass NYS and set us up for a greater economic boom? ]

New York State seems to be balking at the idea of riddling our countryside with natural gas production. The rise in public concern over Fracking in New York State and current low natural gas prices appear to be giving the gas companies the jitters. Some perceive that NYS is over-regulating the drilling industry, which might mean that the boom could go bust.

That is added to the cascading of Fracking moratoriums being passed by localities in the state, in part because of concerns over water quality due to the reluctance of gas drilling companies to reveal what’s in their Fracking fluids. (See What the Frack is in That Water? – ProPublica).

Amidst myriad other issues related to Fracking—increased road wear by heavy trucks, possible conflicts with mortgages, well water contamination, possible earthquakes, public health concerns, and many more problems—some may be wondering if there is a chance NYS will miss the Fracking boom altogether. And if so, might this loss of opportunity for the fossil fuel industry make way for the next opportunity for all New York State businesses—the financial boom that will come as the Likely Changes due to Climate Change drive water-thirsty folks in the Southern and Western United States back to New York?

OK that’s a lot. I didn’t want to bury my lead, so let me unpack all this.

No matter how indifferent you are to how we use our energy and whether our energy consumption will affect Climate Change, you can’t have missed the ruckus caused by the Fracking issue.

Here’s the worry pro-Fracking people envision:

Fracking boom could go bust in N.Y. But with that not-in-my-backyard movement growing and the state proposing the nation’s toughest fracking controls, gas companies that flocked to the state several years ago are now downsizing or pulling up stakes. Add it all up, and New York’s once-envisioned gas boom is starting to look like a bust. “I think we’re losing the battle,” conceded Brad Gill, executive director of the Independent Oil and Gas Operators Association of New York State. (November 31, 2011) The Buffalo News

While other states have rolled over for the promise of jobs and great wealth, New York State has proved to be more resistant to the lure of short-term gains at the expense of possible long-term environmental issues. One by one, communities in New York are balking at Fracking. At present the courts are holding up their claims.

Another hydrofracking ruling backs home rule ALBANY — For the second time in a week, a state Supreme Court judge has upheld the ability of municipalities to ban hydraulic fracturing and gas drilling within their limits. Otsego County Acting Supreme Court Justice Donald Cerio ruled late Friday that the town of Middlefield was within its rights under state law when it passed a ban on oil and gas drilling in June.  (February 25, 2012) Democrat and Chronicle .

Whether NYS lifts its present Fracking moratorium, deciding instead to support Home Rule laws that impose local moratoriums on Fracking, it’s still going to take a while for our state to begin drilling. The governor and DEC chief promised that they wouldn’t go ahead with Fracking until it was safe. And it’s going to take some time to sift through all the tens of thousands of public comments made to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) with a staff that has already been gutted by state budget cuts.

Seen from a longer perspective than the recent fracas over Fracking, New York State has historically been leery of using our own backyard to power our lives. We have fought wind, nuclear, and other power options. Much of America’s view that government should curb the excesses of the free market to protect our environment has come from New York State—highlighted in the environmental accomplishments of two NYS governors-turned-presidents, Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt. The Adirondacks, the largest park in the continental US, resides in New York, so too the Love Canal catastrophe that produced the Superfund for cleaning up industrial messes.

Those who thought that New York State was merely another domino in the ‘Drill-Baby-Drill’ boom had forgotten who we are. Learn more about New York State’s role in leading the way on environmental regulation here: The Nature of New York, An Environmental History of the Empire State

To learn more about how Rochester, NY’s fresh water may be influenced by Fracking and other fresh water threats like the privatization of our waters, go to the Rochester Regional Group of the Sierra Club’s 14th Annual Environmental Forum: Our Water’s Fragile Future: Hydrofracking, Climate Change, & Privatization.

Don’t sit this one out. Our NYS Fresh water is at stake. Learn about this issue, and do something.  Learn more at www. rochesterenvironmentny.blogspot.com

Posted by Frank J. Regan

[ This is not a shoe blog. ]

 Ok maybe it is.

I could give you a list a mile long of things I’m not good at. Cooking, golf, html, doing the dishes…

But being a 20-something female, there is definitely something I consider myself an expert at. Shoes. I think Carrie Bradshaw said it best on an episode of Sex & The City – “Men I may not know. But SHOES I KNOW!”

So what does tearing through the sales rack to find a killer pair of heels have to do with the environment? Plenty. Just by keeping a few simple tricks and tips in mind when shopping for a girl’s favorite accessory can do wonders for our world AND for your wallet.

  • Think about buying used. Stores like the Salvation Army and Goodwill are full of gently-worn shoes at a fraction of the cost of a brand new pair.
  • Repair instead of replacing. Instead of wasting money and resources buying a brand new pair of shoes when your heel gives out, take them to a local cobbler and have them fixed up to look like new again.
  • Look for shoes made in the good ol’ US of A to reduce your chances of supporting sweatshop labor. If you want to take it even further, look for shoes that are “Union Made.” (You can find retailers at UnionLabel.org)
  • Look for kicks made of eco-friendly materials. A lot of shoes are made from PVC, which is made from petroleum. Ick. Stick with shoes made out of recycled rubber or plastic, hemp, and are put together with water-based glue.
  • Shop online so you’re not releasing emissions driving to the mall. Several good websites have free returns with your purchase in case a pair pinches. Also, have your shoes shipped to the office instead of home to save package carriers from making extra stops (wasting gas and energy). Oh, and having your shoes come to work is also a good excuse to break ‘em out and show off your new strappy sandals to your co-workers.

I’m just sayin.’

-Megan Carter

[ Movie with a Message: The Lorax by Dr. Seuss ]

Image:

 

With lead stars Zac Efron and Taylor Swift, you might think that the Lorax is just for kids.  But The Wilderness Society supporter Betty White also lends her voice to Grammy Norma, continuing her commitment to conservation for future generations.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

These are the worlds the Once-Ler, one of the main characters from Universal Pictures new movie, The Lorax. Based upon Dr. Seuss’ classic book of the same name, the movie follows a young boy, Ted, as he sets out from his artificial town to find a real living tree. Ted eventually meets the Once-Ler, a recluse who tells how he met the Lorax, the guardian of the forest, and how the magnificent Truffula trees were all chopped down.

Produced in part with the US Forest Service’s Discover the Forest campaign, the film simply explains the environmental conservation using bright colors and vibrant images.  The Truffula forests are alive with birds, fish, swans, and bears. By contrast, the wastelands where the Truffula trees once stood are stark, barren landscapes.  The Lorax uses these to show how one person, no matter how small, can have in order to make a difference for our environment.

 

The Lorax, in movie form and the original book, carries a message for for children and their parents alike. It inspires hope in the future and in doing so shows us that it’s up to us, and our children, to protect the earth we live on.

As the Once-ler says, “Truffula trees are what everyone needs…Plant a new tree, treat it with care.  Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air.”

Discover the Forest: www.discovertheforest.org

Official Lorax Movie site