Earth Day 2012… 20 ways to “do something”!

Sunday, April 22, 2012, marks the 42th Anniversary of Earth Day!!! (Yes!… this is our major holiday, fellow “greenies!”)

Earth Day was created in 1970 as a way to remind us to appreciate nature and this amazing planet we live on, and learn how to protect our environment and all of its inhabitants. (Did you know:) While it is celebrated in the Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, it is actually observed in the Autumn in the Southern Hemisphere (both days being the exact “middle point” of the season). Ahh… Earth Day trivia!

This year, find a way to celebrate! Take notice of all that we HAVE to celebrate and no matter how small and insignificant your actions may seem, they matter… they add up… they make a difference…

Take action, talk about it, MAKE a difference… EVERY day should be Earth Day!

Earth Hour 2012: The lights ‘turned off’ all over the world!

I hope you participated in Earth Hour! On Saturday, March 31th, 2012, from 8:30-9:30 pm, lights did turn off all over the world!

The Mom Goes Green family turned off the lights for the fourth year and this year was no less exciting.  We were thrilled to once again look out at the Cleveland skyline from our backyard and see it mostly dark (Thank you, Cleveland!).  Our hour (which actually stretched to over an hour and a half!) included venturing to every corner of the house and plenty of silliness along the way.  The kids’ flashlights (equipped with rechargeable batteries) were a great source for “The Shadow Puppet Show”.  We also had lots of great conversation about why Earth Hour is important and the family togetherness and “snuggle time” was a big bonus in my book!

We even created a great new game that we dubbed “Would you…/If you…” We all made up questions and everyone had to give answers for things like “Would you rather live on a mountain, in a forest, by an ocean, on a savannah or in a city?”  My daughter even asked “If you had a symbol to represent you, what would it be?” to which both of my kids answered, “Mom, that’s an easy one for you.  You’d be a tree!” … and they’re probably right!

Anyhow… this year’s Earth Hour had record participation.  Over 6000 cities and towns in 147 countries participated(!) and I wondered how many children from my kids’ school were participating with their families. We sent home a notice with all 492 of them(!) announcing Earth Hour.  If they sign the pledge that says they participated, some of them will be randomly selected to win an eco-prize reward including BPA-free water bottles, pencils made from recycled newspapers and TerraCycle pencil bags (made from upcycled drink pouches)!

If you participated, you literally joined families from all around the globe… Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, Singapore, Beijing, Moscow, Sydney, Athens, Jakarta, Rio de Janeiro, Toronto, Johannesburg, Hong Kong, Mexico City, Oslo, New York City, Abu Dhabi, Bucharest, Capetown, Mumbai and Cairo (just to name a few!). When else can you imagine these cities and countries banded together in a unified cause? Earth Hour brought the world together in support of our common thread… Planet Earth!

You can still experience the magnitude of this event.  One thing I count on every year is from  Boston.com … it allows you to click the images and see the lights go off in locations around the world!

Quite powerful, I’d say.

Now, let’s see what we can do to take this momentum and not allow this event to become just ONE hour in an entire year… what can you do to make every hour Earth Hour?

Earth Hour 2012: March 31 (can you spare the time?)

I hope you’ve circled the date on your calendar! This Saturday, March 31, 2012, from 8:30-9:30 pm is Earth Hour!

Earth Hour started in Sydney, Australia, in 2007, with 2.2 million homes and businesses turning off their lights for one hour as a “vote” FOR the earth, and a “vote” AGAINST global warming.  By 2011, this movement had grown to hundreds of millions of people, and even darkened the Sydney Opera House, Rome’s Colosseum, The Eiffel Tower in Paris, The Parthenon in Greece, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, the Las Vegas Strip, New York City’s Times Square and landmarks around the globe.

Last year people from all around the world switched off their lights in a unified vote because, regardless of where you live, we all depend on the same planet! This is the perfect time to turn off the lights, discuss global warming and the importance of “being green” as a family.  Consider taking actions to assure that we aren’t polluting our earth and overusing resources in our everyday lives.

For more information, go to www.earthhour.org and sign-up to be “officially” counted!

Need some inspiration?

Or want to know what we did last year?… click here

now…

Will you (please) “vote” with me this year?

EVERYONE can “save green” while they “drive green”!

My dad is a fairly typical guy. And our conversations are fairly typical too … he loves to talk about the weather, complain about politics and, lately, gripe… (incessantly!)… about gas prices.

While he doesn’t “buy” all of my environmental beliefs and commitments, it gave me quite a bit of pleasure to let him know (following that on-going “gas price rant”) that I could provide him with some great tips to save green and BE green. (*insert “annoyed-Dad-grumble” here!*)

Here are the steps I shared with him.  Even for the biggest naysayer, there are little things we can all do to impact the environment less, AND save some cash on fuel. (Imagine, I got to tell my DAD how to drive, for a change!):

  1. Use the cruise – hitting that little button burns less fuel and can increase your mileage by 15%, simple as that.
  2. Maintain it – a well-maintained vehicle actually saves gas and creates less pollution because it runs more efficiently.
  3. Keep your tires properly inflated – this also affects fuel efficiency and emissions.
  4. Clean out your trunk – all that extra stuff you’re carting around in the back adds more weight and reduces your fuel efficiency.
  5. Avoid idling – did you know this consumes more fuel than when you’re actually driving, so don’t warm your car for 15 minutes and shut it off when you can.
  6. Skip drive-thrus – they’re also an “idle nightmare”, and (contrary to belief) restarting it does NOT use more gas.
  7. Keep your speed steady and stop flooring it – this is the reason cruise control is more efficient, and flooring it for just one second actually causes a burst of CO2 emissions equal to 30 minutes of normal driving.
  8. Stay the speed limit – for every 5 mph over 60 it’s like paying 20 cents more per gallon of gas because it burns faster (emissions!).
  9. Consider telecommuting for your job once a week – if it’s possible and you never asked your employer, consider it… they may say yes!  Other option, carpool with a local work pal.
  10. Park it – imagine that!  Use a little bit of foot power and walk, or get out your bike and pedal away! It’s free and there are absolutely zero emissions!

If you’re looking for a new car, the EPA offers a guide to the best car choices to meet your needs.

Now, I’m not suggesting you miff-off your dad and tell him how to drive, but he might just be impressed with your brilliance when you share some little tips to save some (green) gas money!

Palm oil in Girl Scout cookies???

I have been quite outspoken about my dislike for palm oil and the destruction that is created when land is cleared to make way for new plantations.  I also happen to have a Girl Scout in my house (my sweet daughter, of course!) so the controversy over palm oil being used in Girl Scout cookies was undoubtedly a BIG concern for me (especially when she came home with the order form and geared up to start selling!).

Thanks to two ambitious Girl Scouts from Michigan, Madison and Rhiannon, the 2012 menu of Girl Scout cookies will taste a whole lot sweeter AND eco-friendly!  Their petition and hard work brought about these changes (as seen in the Girl Scout USA statement I received below) and I think it’s AMAZING!

  • Our licensed bakers are members of the RSPO and exclusively source palm oil from members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), an organization of growers, buyers, manufacturers, conservationists and interested parties who are striving to develop and follow best practices to ensure sustainability. In 2012, GSUSA also became a member of the RSPO.
  • Our licensed bakers will purchase GreenPalm certificates covering 100% of the palm oil used in Girl Scout cookies. Additionally, GSUSA will purchase GreenPalm certificates to support programmatic objectives. The certificates offer a premium price to palm oil producers who are operating within the guidelines for social, environmental and economic responsibility set by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil.
  • GSUSA and our licensed bakers will join other industry leaders in making a pledge to move to only segregated, certified sustainable palm oil sources.
  • GSUSA and our licensed bakers are committed to using as little palm oil as possible in Girl Scout cookies and have committed to continued research into viable alternatives.

So, if you have or will consider ordering and consuming some Girl Scout cookies this year, you can worry a little less about the guilt.  This year’s cookies are a whole lot greener than ever before and the next steps are definitely in the right direction.

…and, don’t you feel just a little bit inspired seeing the difference that two teens can make just by refusing to be silent about a wrong they want righted! Bravo girls!