Thursday, March 25, 2010

Earth Hour

This Saturday night at 8:30pm, your local time, Earth Hour will take place- will you be a part of the movement?

Earth Hour is where people across the world turn off their lights for 60 minutes but this simple act has such a larger impact. According to the World Wildlife Foundation website it is the largest climate event in history. As an American turning off your lights for an hour, you will be supporting the follow actions.

  • Cleaner air around the world
  • Less American dependency on foreign oil 
  • Regulated emissions to decrease climate change
Last year, over 80 million Americans participated including these landmarks: Empire State Building, Las Vegas Strip, United Nations Headquarters, and the Seattle Space Needle. Across the globe, one billion people turned of their lights for Earth Hour. Some major global participants were the Great Pyramids of Giza, Basilica in Vatican City, Big Ben of London, and the Sydney Opera house. 

Become part of this global movement towards a healthier planet by taking these steps:
  1. Check out the WWF Earth Hour website  
  2. Join the movement on the right hand side of the screen
  3. Recruit your friends, family, and people in your community
  4. Turn off your lights at 8:30pm local time 
Plan ahead- light candles or use glow sticks, think of activities you and your friends can do, or just relax and enjoy your commitment to the planet!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sparky Votes for Sustainability

Its that time of year, Undergraduate Student Government is holding elections for next year's leaders. Through my sorority, I have been able to experience all four years of campaigns because Greek Life students are often involved in Student Government. Although this year my decision won't effect my experience at Arizona State because I am graduating in May- I will still cast my vote for the future students. Thus far, the most outstanding nominee is the Corrgian party.

Why is this? Because they have a platform which supports sustainability! Here is their official statement on pursuing sustainability at Arizona State if elected for the 2010-2011 school year:

A Brendan Corrigan administration will cut costs by making ASU more energy efficient, pursue aggressive water conservation, and switch ASU to 100% recycled content paper. Conserve money, and our precious natural resources by voting Brendan Corrigan as your next USG President.

In addition to the three stances above, the Corrigan administration will support sustainability clubs such as Green Team and Greenpeace at ASU to activate the voices of environmentally aware students and get them involved with campus and community sustainability initiatives. The Corrigan administration will build off the progress made in 2008 and 2009 to bring widespread recycling to campus."

-William Greene, will be the Campus Environment Director if their party wins for next year

I believe having three main goals to improve sustainability on our campus is effective; they are setting realistic goals which is respectable in my opinion. Here is why I think each goal is feasible along with a few ways the Corrigan party can stay committed to their platform.
  • Energy Efficiency- saving money on energy means more funds to go towards the students, its is simple to save money on HVAC by regulating thermostats and electricity by using dimmers or motion sensors for lights.
  • Water Conservation- living in the middle of the dessert means preserving water is important to our community. Putting timers on faucets and using dual-flush toilets are two ways to conserving water.
  • 100% Recycled Paper- a great way to slow deforestation and support recycled paper mills. Through working at ASU, I know all items are bought in bulk from the came companies meaning enforcing a strict policy for ordering 100% recycled paper goods is a feasible task also placing more recycling bins in dorms and buildings will be helpful.
Overall, I believe the Corrigan Party will bring positive change to ASU through their stances on many campus wide concerns including sustainability. To learn more about their platform please visit the Corrigan for President website.

External Links:
ASU Undergraduate Student Government-
Corrigan for President-

World Water Day

Did you know yesterday was World Water Day? March 22 of every year since 1993 has been designated to be the holiday. It doesn’t mean we get a day off from work or school but a way for the United Nations to implement recommendations regarding water. Areas covered by the UN for World Water Day are Water for Health Biodiversity and the Environment Agriculture and Energy Sanitation It is aimed to help countries take positive steps to addressing water issues. The UN started the Water for Life Decade in 2005, which means 2010 is the middle of the program. The largest goal of the decade is to give sanitary and drinking water to the poorest people. Please visit the World Water Day website to find out more about World Water Day.

External Links:

United Nations
World Water Day-

Thursday, March 18, 2010

My Blog is Carbon Positive

I was contacted with a great opportunity from Ixpo to make my blog carbon positive, meaning they will plant a tree for me placing one of their buttons on my blog. Trees are planted where forest fires or deforestation have taken place. These are a few of the areas:

San Bernadino National Forest- affected by the Butler II Burn
Plumas National Forest- affected by the Moonlight Fire
Ocala National Forest- supporting the Longleaf Pine Restoration

If all 200 million blogs added these feature, the trees planted could remove 2.1 million tons of carbon from the atomosphere! So what are you waiting for?

1. Add one of the buttons from below to your blog’s sidebar, header or footer
2. Write a new blog post about signing up to the initiative
3. Email to tell us about it
4. That’s it! We will send you an email back to confirm when we’ve planted your tree!

So take initiative and make your blog carbon positive and help the environment.
Check out my button on the right hand side of my screen!

External Links:

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Five Ways to Green Your Laundry

Laundry. One of my most despised activities. The item on my to-do list that I really don't like getting to, yet I feel like I have laundry to do all the time. As with many activities, there are ways to save energy and money when your hamper is full. Follow these steps and see savings on your ultilitt bills and help out the environment.

Wash on cold- By using the cold water setting on your washer, you will avoid using energy or gas to heat the water. Also, colors tend to bleed in hot water so avoid ruining clothes and use the cold setting.

Use concentrated detergent- Companies may try to trick you into buying a larger bottle of detergent at a better price but actually you are buying the same amount of soap. Many detergents contain fillers but not more actual cleaning product. Buy concentrated detergent, you'll use less and go through fewer bottles.

Don't wash during peaks- Believe it or not, water and energy companies charge you more during certain hours of the day. Avoid washing or drying between 6-10:00am and 5-9:00pm when ultility companies charge the most.

Avoid using other appliances- When washing or drying don't run the dishwasher, take a shower, or water plants outside. Running too many appliances at once will reduce the effectiveness of each and cost you a fortune in ultilities.

Skip the dryer- The dryer has ruined many articles of my clothing, shrunken cashmere sweater here and a snagged silk tank there. The bottom line is I dry as little as possible, you should try it too. Lay your clothing over furniture or hang in your shower till dry-its a contemporary twist on an outdoor clothes line.

These are five simple steps to saving money on ultilities, keeping clothes in great shape, and really helping out the environment. Next time you do the dreaded chore of laundry try a few of the tips out; your wallet, wardrobe, and the environment will thank you!

The Quaking Discovery About Global Warming

Earthquakes have been quite prominent in the news recently, from Haiti to Chile it seems they are causing problems everywhere. People are beginning to wonder why are they are occuring so often and with such a high magnitude. Earthquakes are measured on a Richter scale for magnitude and are rated 1 through 12 on a Mercalli scale. Below is a Modfied Mercalli scale which is a simplified way to understand earthquakes.

Notice the higher the magnitude, the higher the higher the rating.
  • Haiti: magnitude of 7.0 and a rating of 10
  • Chile: magnitude of 8.8 and a rating of 12
  • Japan: magnitude of 6.6 and a rating of 9

Its barely March and there has been a record breaking amount of deaths this year compared to the past decade. What is causing these earthquakes, could it be related to global warming?

Global warming is a touchy subject because not everyone is convinced its true. My opinion? Yes, its real- our atmospheric temperature is rising and causing changes around the globe. Is it caused by humans? Not neccesarily, there have been cycles of higher and lower atmospheric temperatures since our earth has been in existance. We may possibly be entering one of those higher temperature eras and maybe humans are just magnifying its effects. Either way, many scientists are now looking at global warming as the cause of the recent rise in earthquakes.

Earthquakes occur when plates of the earth's crust shift- they can move away from eachother, push into eachother, or overlap. Plates are, in essence, floating on top of the earth's hot core which is molten lava.

Here are the two reasons global warming may be causing earthquakes.

Melting ice caps- As atmospheric temperatures rise, ice caps are melting at an alarming rate. As the ice melts, pressure is getting released from the plates under the ice caps. The lower pressure on the ice caps can cause the plates to shift and rise.

Increasing ocean water- After the ice melts, it has to go somewhere- into the ocean. In addition to increased ocean water the warmer atmospheric temperatures cause the water to expand, called thermal expansion. As the mass of water is increasing, it creates more pressure pushing down on the plates beneath the oceans. Ocean plates are being pushed down on and thus shifting.

Overall, scientists are avidly researching the correlation between global warming and earthquakes. Although there is no data saying yes or no, the evidence pointing to global warming affecting the number of severe earthquakes around the world is increasing. So far, 2010 has been a quaking year; only time will tell if more will occur and if global warming is the cause.

Information is a summary of three articles with my personal input and knowledge of global warming and plate tectonics.

Washington Post interview with USGS Earthquakes Hazards Programs:

Live Science Journal:

College of Charleston:

Tempe Transportation

It used to be I'd jump in my car every errand I had to run- getting coffee, going tanning, or visiting the bank. But now I really think about the errand I need to run and then consider my options of transportation. Last week my roommate and I walked to Dutch Brothers to get our morning coffee then the other night my friends and I walked to Thai Basil for dinner. There are so many other ways to get from one place to another, driving is not the only option. Let's explore some alternative transportation routes here in Tempe.

1. Walk- When the weather is nice, take a stroll to get your errand done . If you live in Tempe, I am sure a few of your errands must be within walking distance. Walk to get coffee or make a deposit at an ATM; its also good exercise. Please be careful walking after dark, know your surroundings.

2. Bike- Need to go a little further than walking distance, grab a bike. Most of Tempe has bike lanes so its easy to ride anywhere you like. Grab one or two reusable grocery bags and ride to your nearest supermarket. Make sure you invest in a bike lock and obey all traffic signs

3. Bus- Buses in Tempe run seven days a week till 1 am and Sundays till 10pm with extra stops during rush hour. Valley Metro buses are travel all around Phoenix, not just Tempe. Visit the ValleyMetro website to plan a route; type in the addresses of your start and end points then they will tell you which buses to take.

4. Orbit- The orbit a free small shuttle bus which serves residential areas and drops off to other neighborhoods, schools, popular shopping spots, and other bus stops. The orbit only stops when a passenger "flags" them down and stops when requested. The orbit offers many routes from North to South Tempe and even to Tempe Marketplace. Visit the Orbit web page to view all routes and see if they pick up in your neighborhood.

5. Flash- A free shuttle specially designed for ASU students with two routes- forward and back. This small bus goes all around campus, so you can get from Lot 59 to South Campus really quick. The Flash does not operate during Summer or Winter break.

6. Light Rail- this is my personal favorite, I love the light rail. Whether you are catching a Suns game or seeing the Diamondbacks play, the light rail picks up from campus right to downtown. Save on gas, avoid traffic, and you won't have to pay for parking! Plus if you've had a few cocktails, no worries about getting home.

Tempe offer its residents so many alternatives to driving. Believe me I know, last semester I didn't have a car. I had lived in Los Angeles all summer; I was tired of driving and dealing with traffic. I live on campus and last semester I worked on campus also with the School of Sustainability, so I didn't really need a car. People thought I was crazy but it was actually nice not having to drive anywhere.

Overall, it was easy for me or anyone else to limit their driving. The City of Tempe has many alternative transportation routes so driving isn't always necessary. Get a little exercise by walking and biking or use public transit to get places, you'll really helping the environment. Take advantage of what the City of Tempe has to offer and reduce your carbon footprint!

Don't live in Tempe? Check out your city's web page to view transportation options.

External Links

City of Tempe

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Why is the Bald Eagle Endangered?

Growing up we learn the bald eagle is the nation's bird; it stands for freedom and pride for our country. We also learn the bald eagle is an endangered species but did you know it was on the brink of extinction? If it wasn't a national symbol it may well have died off like other species affected by DDT.

Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane: say that tens times fast!

DDT was invented in 1939 by Paul Muller who later received a Nobel Prize for his work in 1948. DDT was invented to kill insects which greatly damaged crops but the insects turned out to be smarter.

The common house fly led the resistance against DDT follow by the mosquitoes in 1960. Mosquitoes evolved to resist DDT is the reason why malaria is still existent today; if DDT was not invented, mosquitoes would not have evolved and malaria could have been eradicated. Over 500 species of insects have be come resistant to DDT.

On the other hand, countless species have been infected with DDT and some even became extinct. Think of it this way...

DDT is sprayed on crops

Crops are eaten by insects

Insects are eaten by fish

Fish are eaten by birds

Thus, the Bald Eagle is getting the highest concentration of DDT so that is why it is endangered!

I didn't even mention the fact, that people used to eat crops sprayed with DDT. The EPA banned DDT in 1972 but it is still used in some countries. Pesticides kill 67 million birds a year in the United States. What can you do to avoid DDT and other pesticides? Eat organic crops and look for products that say "pesticide free".

Eat and consume pesticide free; save the environment and the Bald Eagle!

Information in this post is from my GPH 314: Global Change course at Arizona State University.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Casey Cartwright Going Green

Another one of my obsessions happens to be ABC Family's hit show "Greek" about fraternity and sorority life. Drama unfolds between significant others, best friends, and inter-house conflicts. The show is in the third season and main character, Casey Cartwright, is a senior in college just like me. There are many reasons why I love Casey Cartwright and why we are so much alike!

We both...

1. Are in sororities with Zeta in the name! I am a member of Delta Zeta and she is in the fictional sorority Zeta Beta Zeta.

2. Took the LSAT in order to prepare for law school. In the recent season she had to for go partying for Mardi Gras in order to studying and take her LSAT, I had to skip on my fall formal because my test was the next day.

3. Live in the sorority house with one our of best friends. Although ASU does not have sorority houses, we all live together in Adelphi Commons.

4. Got back together with our first college boyfriends. She dated Cappie her freshman year and they get back together in her junior year. My first (and only) college boyfriend and I got back together after not dating for a year.

5. Care about the environment! By now, I'm sure you are wondering why I am blogging about a fictional character and not about going green. But Casey takes care of the environment because she-

Walks around campus- Casey walks around her campus and studies outdoors.
Drives a hybrid- when she does drive, she drives a red Prius.
Uses reusable grocery bags- in season two she takes dinner to her then boyfriend Max in a green reusable carrying bag and carries it at other times.

6. Interested in environmental policies. Casey wants to work on environmental legislation in Washington D.C. while I want to go to law school for Environmental or Natural Resource Law.

7. Interned over the Summer in areas we are interested in; she interned for a Senator and I interned at Tech Go Green, a sustainable consulting firm.

It is simple to see that environmental cues are hidden in popular culture; take a fictional show about the Greek system and look at how much the main character is into going green. But its more than a character-
in real life, actress Spencer Grammer is an advocate of going green. She is part of Global Green USA, a program to teach kids on how to help the environment at their school. She even told EcoRazzi, a green gossip blog that she can't date anyone who leaves the faucet running or turns on the shower way before they hop in!

Overall I love the show Greek; I can really relate to Casey Cartwright through her sorority struggles, law school career path, and environmental interests. Sources say Greek has signed on for its fourth season, which means you should start watching it. Its a show for guys, girls, Greeks, or non-Greeks; I promise you will love it. I even got my boyfriend hooked on it, so enjoy!

Want to catch up on Greek? Visit Hulu and watch all the seasons!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Drive Slow Homie

Since the electric and alternative fuel car revolution is just becoming popular, most of us have vehicles which run on gasoline. It does not mean we cannot go green with whatever car we have now. We know gas is a limited commodity and is pricey so why not preserve our environment while saving some dollars! Here is what you can do to conserve gasoline:

1. Drive slow- Take a tip from controversial hip hop artist Kanye West who made shutter shades famous and drive slow. Check out the video after you read the blog, compliments of YouTube. There is no magical speed which we can drive to get the best fuel efficiency, it depends on your car. Visit this government website FuelEconomy to find out about your gas mileage. The information is based on 15,000 miles; 45% highway driving and 55% street driving. My car is ranked 6 out of 10, I wish it was better but my next car will definitely be a hybrid!

2004 Mazda 3, 4 Cylinder, Automatic (S4)
23 MPG for street, 32 MPG for highway driving

2. Plan out your route- Its easy to be out and about then all of sudden remember an extra errand you must do. Take five minutes before you leave and think about all the stores or places you need to visit. Plan a route which covers all stops and will not make you back track. By getting all your errands done in one trip you will save time and money.

3. Do not accelerate fast- Keep your RPMs (rate per minute) low when hitting the gas. Accelerating quickly will cause your RPMs to rise and waste gas; gradually build up to the speed limit. You can also keep RPMs low by always driving in the highest gear, so if you drive a manual use the highest gear possible. Automatic cars automatically do this, hence the name.

4. Cruise- Use cruise control as much as possible but only when driving on flat terrain. When you use cruise control on hills and dips, your car will brake and accelerate too much. You can even use cruise control when on roads, if its a major street you can hit the lights perfectly when traffic is not heavy. If you cannot cruise, try to stay around the same speed keeping; rapid braking and accelerating will use up your gas quickly.

5. Drive like your grandparents- Let's face it, many elderly people drive a maximum of 55 MPH but it is actually a good thing. Basically any car will waste extra gas going over 55 MPH, so you may make people mad on the highway but at least you'll be saving gas and avoiding tickets. Going over 55 MPH is like paying 15 cents extra per gallon of gas. My boyfriends tells me I drive like a grandma because I drive slow, oops! Some state highways have 55 MPH as a maximum speed limit but some highways in Arizona are up to 75 MPH, tempting but in the long run you will save money on fuel.

6. Keep your car maintained- By keeping your tire pressure within regulation, balanced, and rotated you will save gas. Uneven tire pressure and unbalanced tires, will use extra fuel.. Also keep your oil, power steering fluid, and other liquids for your vehicle in check. Also, get your emissions tested regularly; most states require this when registering your vehicle.

7. Air Conditioning- This is a tricky topic because there are many studies which show rolling down your window may waste gas as well. A good rule of thumb is to roll down your windows on the streets but use air conditioning on the highway. When driving at higher speeds the wind may catch in the back of your car and slow it down so using the air on a low to medium setting is best. Blasting your air conditioning on high may get circulation but the air will be colder at a lower temperature.

8. Cool your car down quick- Especially in Arizona our cars heat up in the hot weather, use your sunshade and tint your windows to the darkest (legal) shade. Upon entering your car, turn on air full blast and put it on outside air. Roll your windows down half way and drive for a few minutes; this will get the hot, stuffy air out of your car. After roll up your windows, put your air conditioning on a medium to low setting, and use inside air. This way your car will use the cooler air from inside your car instead of the hot outside air.

Arizona drivers pay attention: during the summer the inside of your car can get up to 130 degrees. Don't leave children or pets in the car, even for a moment! It is illegal and unethical, so do not do it!

9. Carpool- Many of my friends have to go to other ASU campuses so they plan to take classes in the same time period and they can all drive together. Have the person will the best fuel efficiency drive and split gas or take turns driving. You can also buy one parking pass, especially at ASU where parking is ridiculously priced. Carpooling is a great way to save money on gas, keep your wallet full, and catch up with friends.

10. Do not drive through- Although drive through coffee, food, and banking can be great when your pressed for time its bad for your wallet and the environment. Actually, idling in a car can use more gas then turning it off! One of my favorite tweeters @OMGFacts says that idling in the average car using 1.6 ounces of gas per minute but it only takes .5 ounce to turn off the car and turn it back on. So waiting in the drive through line for five minutes can use way more gas then if you turned your car off, when inside, and restarted it. When waiting to pick someone up just park and turn your car off.

These are a few simple steps to saving gas, money, and helping the environment. To me, these are such easy ways to take and being a college student its important for me to save money. Anyone can use these tips no matter what kind of car you drive so try these steps out for a month and see how much of a difference it makes at the gas pump. You will also be helping the environment because your car will emit less carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen gas into the air. Take Kanye's advice: put on your shutter shades and drive slow homie.

I hope you enjoyed these tips and will incorporate them into your daily life. Check back soon for blogs on the documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car" and alternative transportation.

Kayne West- Drive Slow featuring Paul Wall, GLC, and T.I. is great song but it actually was not written about going green. Video is not edited and contains some rated-R material.