Rainwater Harvesting Options for Homeowners

December 11, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Front Page, Gardening, Slideshow, Sustainability, Water

Continue Reading Full Article →

Depending on where you live, your water bill can be one of your larger monthly expenses, especially during the summer. With the help of landscapers, you can set up a rainwater harvesting system that will save you money and reduce the demand for water in your community.
Rainwater harvesting systems can be as simple as using a barrel or as complex as installing underground tanks. Whichever method you choose, it’s important to remember that your landscape design should prevent water from pooling around the foundation of your home. Also keep in mind that plain rainwater is non-potable, so you’ll need to set up a purification system if you plan to drink it….

Read Full Article

Water Crisis in the United States

August 19, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Climate Change, Drought, Front Page, Slideshow, Tips, Water

Comments Off

Continue Reading Full Article →

The southwestern portion of the United States has historically been a dry area, but the problem has become much worse in recent years. About 30 million people in the Southwest rely on the Colorado River for their water, and the river’s level has been declining steadily.

Population growth, weather changes and modern agricultural habits are putting a strain on the U.S. water supply. Educating people about the causes and effects of the water crisis is the first step toward making large-scale changes in how people think about water use….

Read Full Article

Eco-Friendly Landscaping: 3 Storm-Water Solutions

Comments Off

Continue Reading Full Article →

Rain happens. Apart from blessing it for watering our plants — or cursing it for keeping us indoors — many homeowners don’t think much about where all of that water goes once it hits our property. However, as our neighborhoods become increasingly covered with impervious surfaces (roofs, patios, roads and driveways), that needs to change.

Roofs and other impervious surfaces change the way rainwater behaves, increasing the volume of runoff and accelerating the rate at which it flows through our local watersheds. This ultimately leads to erosion of stream banks, degraded wildlife habitats and the introduction of pollutants picked up along the way.

If you want to make your home more Earth-friendly, one of the most significant things you can do is incorporate storm-water management techniques into your landscape. By combining some of these methods, you can help diffuse the runoff from your home in order to minimize its impact on the environment. Or, as eco-conscious cities such as Santa Cruz, Calif., put it: “Slow it. Spread it. Sink it.” …

Read Full Article

Running Out of Water by Peter Rogers and Susan Leal

Continue Reading Full Article →

It is no secret that humankind is facing several environmental crises. Greenhouse gases are slowly cooking the earth, several of our natural resources are nearing depletion, and impending water shortages threaten our way of life.

Friends, news sources, and the Internet bombard us with facts like this every day. It’s hard to make sense of it all, and too easy to feel that there is no hope.

But, as the cliché states, knowledge is power. When you understand a crisis, you can do something about it. This idea is the driving force behind Peter Rogers and Susan Leal’s book, Running Out of Water: The Looming Crisis and Solutions to Conserve Our Most Precious Resource….

Read Full Article

Stop “Chocolate Milk” from Running in Iowa’s Rivers – Vote for Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy Referendum

Continue Reading Full Article →

Iowans have a crucial choice to make that will impact future generations: the choice between clean water and dirty water.

On November 2, Iowa voters will see a referendum on a constitutional amendment called Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy (IWLL) on the back of their ballot. If it passes, it goes into effect for the next sales tax increase. Three-eighths of a percent of all Iowa sales will go into the trust fund, which will be used for soil conservation programs, to improve water quality, and to promote outdoor recreation.

“This is a way to not have chocolate milk running down our rivers,” said Mark Langgin, campaign manager for Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy….

Read Full Article

2010 Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone Among Largest Ever, Scientists Say

Continue Reading Full Article →

The delicate ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico was wounded long before Katrina stormed ashore, and her wildlife was poisoned by chemicals streaming down the Mississippi River long before BP stirred a few million gallons of crude into her waters. The Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) has been monitoring hypoxia — lack of oxygen — in the Gulf waters since 1985. Much of this hypoxia is caused by agricultural chemicals and farm animal waste products that flow into the Mississippi from 19 states to the north. (Iowa alone is estimated to be responsible for 25% of the farm chemicals and fecal matter pouring into the Gulf.) Efforts are underway to reduce the agricultural pollution that is contributing heavily to the Dead Zone, but more must be done to make a positive impact on the area.

Yesterday, Blue Planet Green Living received an email from Dr. Nancy Rabalais, Executive Director of LUMCON, with the group’s latest report. The following information is reprinted from “2010 DEAD ZONE – ONE OF THE LARGEST EVER,” dated 1 August 2010, from Cocodrie, Louisiana….

“The area of hypoxia, or low oxygen, in the northern Gulf of Mexico west of the Mississippi River delta covered 20,000 square kilometers (7,722 square miles) of the bottom and extended far into Texas waters. The relative size is almost that of Massachusetts. The critical value that defines hypoxia is 2 mg/L, or ppm, because trawlers cannot catch fish or shrimp on the bottom when oxygen falls lower….”

Read Full Article

Top Ten Must-See Environmental Films

Continue Reading Full Article →

There are some fantastic films on the environment, but it can often be difficult to find the truly great ones. To make your life a little bit easier, here is a list of ten fantastic, eye-opening movies for any individual passionate about saving our planet. 10. Tapped, 2009 Director Stephanie Soechtig’s examination of the bottled […]

Read Full Article

Solving the Water Crisis Begins at Home

Continue Reading Full Article →

By now, the world water crisis shouldn’t be surprising news. Many of us already donate to clean water funds, well-building activities, and water-saving causes. But if we have leaky toilets, outdated plumbing, or wasteful faucet drips, we’re actually contributing to the problem we’re trying to solve.

The US Geological Survey estimates that leaking toilets can lose around 22 gallons per day. This translates into about 8,000 gallons of wasted water per year. To put that number into perspective, that’s enough water to fill a display tank at your local aquarium.

With so many stray drips and drops, it’s of little wonder that many American communities are experiencing water shortages. In 2009, the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) reported a drought throughout numerous Southwest and Great Plains states resulting in five billion dollars in damages. By 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 36 states will experience water shortages….

Read Full Article

Light the Way for Clean Water – But Hurry!

Continue Reading Full Article →

One of every seven people in developing countries around the world does not have access to clean water.* It’s a shocking statistic for those of us who take daily showers and use flush toilets with no thought at all. Women and girls, in particular, may walk miles to carry water back to their families. Try moving up on the economic scale when so much of your time is consumed with providing the basic necessities to your family. Not likely.

But organizations around the world are doing ambitious projects to change that. Global Greengrants Fund oversees many of these projects, with serious funding support from Aveda — a company best known for creating organic hair and beauty care products that are sourced from around the world. For the past three years in April, Aveda has been raising funds for Global Greengrants water-related projects by selling their Light the Way candles.

In addition to Global Greengrants, Aveda is supporting 21 regional partners through their Earth Month activities. According to the Aveda website, the projects this year include: “training 3,500 people in sustainable and organic agriculture methods [which keeps pesticides and herbicides out of waterways]; helping 20 communities implement local water resource management plans; enabling 100 communities to take action against toxic industrial pollution and hundreds of other projects that have helped protect water rights and water access around the world.” …

Read Full Article

Photographer Della Calfee Focuses on Green Clients

Continue Reading Full Article →

When Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) interviewed Bay Area artist and ecopreneur Della Calfee, we were intrigued by her self-description as a “green” photographer. How does that look in terms of her portfolio of images? we wondered. And, What kinds of clients hire a green photographer? We asked Calfee about these topics when we spoke with her by phone from her San Jose, California home.

CALFEE: I’ve been shooting pictures for decades, but it was only a couple years ago that I looked back at my body of work and realized that I was a “green” photographer. Once I realized that, something crystallized, and I have been able to move forward with much greater passion and direction and confidence.

To me, “green” means making environmentally conscious choices in every action taken. It means respecting life — including people, but not exclusively. So my photography focuses on clients working toward a better environment. Sustainably produced products; and green-minded services, leaders, and events would all be examples of “green” photography clients. …

Read Full Article

Rescuing Hartland Marsh – A Six-Year Labor of Love

Continue Reading Full Article →

When Paul Mozina takes on a project, he doesn’t give up until it’s finished. That’s not an unusual characteristic, necessarily. Yet Mozina’s dedication is anything but ordinary.

For the past six years, Mozina, with the unfailing support and frequent help of his wife, Pati Holman, has been waging a battle against buckthorn, an invasive plant that once covered most of Wisconsin’s Hartland Marsh. Today, buckthorn is all but eradicated from the marsh, and Mozina and Holman are the team that did it.

Their work began on property owned by the Ice Age Trail, a 1,000-mile trail that follows the furthest edge of the glaciers that formed much of Wisconsin’s landscape. The glaciers pushed silt and debris ahead of them, then left behind their footprint, in the form of lakes and moraines, when they melted. The land is rich and fertile, providing healthy soil for the many forests that cover much of the state….

Read Full Article

Do You Know Where Your Flushes Go?

Continue Reading Full Article →

Iowa alone has in excess of 600 unincorporated communities without adequate — or, more often, any — waste water treatment systems. Estimates by the American Water Works Association indicate that upgrading these Iowa communities to the same standard as a facility like Iowa City’s would cost in excess of $1 Billion. Yep. That’s one Billion dollars. Fat chance of that happening in this economy.

But that may not be the only option, according to Craig Just, adjunct assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Iowa. Just is spending a rainy afternoon explaining an alternative system to a group of interested environmentalists.

Just and a team of university students have constructed a micro wetlands site on the grounds of Iowa City’s South waste water treatment plant. “Wetlands provide natural waste water treatment,” Just says. “If you don’t put too much [nitrogen and phosphorus] in, the system works by itself. It’s a slow process, but an effective one, until the numbers become overwhelming.” …

Read Full Article

Indie Film Describes “Certain Adverse Events” from Antibiotic Use

Continue Reading Full Article →

“If you were to look at how prescription drugs are developed and marketed, you might never take a prescription drug again.” So begins the film Certain Adverse Events. Reading the statement on the screen, I felt the first twinge of alarm that I was about to learn more than I might really want to know. And that’s just what happened. The film showed how vulnerable we health consumers are when we take a prescription medicine. We can’t know what the side effects will be — because even the FDA and the drug companies often don’t know. A scary thought, indeed…

Read Full Article

Coolerado AC Units Excel at DOE/NREL Performance Challenge

August 25, 2009 by  
Filed under 2009, Blog, California, DOE, Electricity, Energy, Front Page, Water

Continue Reading Full Article →

University of California, Davis issued a challenge to manufacturers to build more efficient air conditioners for the Western U.S. The objective was to exceed the 2010 U.S. Department of Energy efficiency standards by an aggressive 40 percent. Coolerado Corporation, the first certified winner of the UC Davis Western Cooling Challenge, entered the program with its new hybrid commercial rooftop unit — a system using its proprietary indirect evaporative technology in concert with a traditional compressor and refrigerant system. DOE laboratory testing indicates that Coolerado’s new system, the Coolerado H80, beat the 2010 standards by 60 percent at peak demand and will use 80 percent less energy overall…

Read Full Article

Dispose of Fluorescents As If Your Life Depends on It

July 31, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, CFLs, Front Page, Landfill, Mercury, Recycling, U.S., Water

Continue Reading Full Article →

A few days ago, Joe and I were talking with the manager of a local discount store (part of a national chain) and asked what they did with their spent fluorescent light bulbs. She sheepishly hung her head and said, “Well, I know we should recycle them, but…” Our state doesn’t require that fluorescent bulbs be treated as hazardous wastes, so the store manager isn’t breaking the law. But it was obvious to us that she feels guilty about dumping them in the landfill.

Although the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has included fluorescent bulbs under Universal Waste regulations since 2001. Although EPA considers fluorescent bulbs to be hazardous wastes, their disposal in landfills is permitted. But it’s not the best policy. …

Read Full Article

It Rained on Our Parade

Continue Reading Full Article →

It had not rained in Iowa City for eleven days. We had been experiencing a cooler than usual June, with day after day of amazingly great temperatures and low humidity. I should have known it wouldn’t last.

Iowa weather usually acts like a spoiled child and demands constant attention. The minute you look away, it will catch you in snow without a coat or a thunderstorm without an umbrella. Or the temperature will rise 30 degrees in a few hours and put you in a dripping sweat because you’re not wearing shorts. These are facts of life in Iowa. I forgot. I lowered my guard. I did not schedule a rain date.

For months, I had been focusing on creating a Fourth of July, New Orleans-style, second-line, jazz funeral march. This was to be a symbolic funeral for the Iowa River, held by volunteers from our Facebook group, Save The Iowa River (STIR). The planning went on: a casket, pallbearers, news coverage, musicians, music, marchers, signs, bottles filled with water from the Iowa River, parade permit, first aid kit, parking, tables, tent. When the word rain came to mind, I just told myself that there would be lots of umbrellas at the march anyway, in keeping with the motif; so, if it did rain, everything would work out just fine…

Read Full Article

A Symbolic Funeral for the Iowa River

Continue Reading Full Article →

Every so often, an issue consumes me. I read as much as I can on the subject. I attend lectures. I join action groups. I get involved. This is one of those issues: my beloved Iowa River. The Iowa River isn’t dead yet, but, like so many other rivers, it’s heading that way. And I think it’s worth saving. So, I decided to do something about it.

Tomorrow, on the Fourth of July, the Save the Iowa River (STIR) group will hold a mock funeral for the Iowa River in conjunction with Iowa City’s annual jazz festival. We’ll be rocking a pine casket, loaned by Gay & Ciha Funeral and Cremation Services, while playing “Down by the Riverside,” “When the Saints Go Marching In,” and other standards. We’ll march in true New Orleans style in a second-line, jazz funeral parade. We’ll have fun, while spreading the word — and water samples — to the public. And you’re invited to join us…

Read Full Article

Conserving Water, a Sinkful at a Time

Continue Reading Full Article →

Slowing global warming is a long-term process that requires efforts on a global, or at least a national, scale. What can Californians — or any other drought-affected people — do about the water shortage right now, on a local level?

One suggestion is to reuse the waste water generated by showering, washing clothes, and using the sink. These sources of waste water are called greywater, and though you won’t want to drink it, you can easily reuse it to water some of your plants and trees…

Read Full Article

Risky Runoff: From Fish-Roe to Ritalin

Continue Reading Full Article →

As the recent PBS Frontline story “Poisoned Waters” so vividly brought home, once pure and pristine, our extraordinary natural treasure of beautiful shorelines, waterways, estuaries, lakes, rivers and ponds continues to be polluted by the home and industrial waste that we persistently both knowingly as well as unwittingly contribute to — so much so that it now severely threatens our own health and that of the flora and fauna with which we share our planet. Wreaking havoc on global well being, with animals and individuals becoming ill daily from contact with contaminated water eco-systems, without dramatic and fundamental action, it’s a problem that’ll only continue to grow exponentially. Point blank — our water systems are being altered to the point of no-return by our own selfish human impact….

Read Full Article

Take This House (and Float It Away) Flooding Play on Midwest Tour

Continue Reading Full Article →

In the heart of levee-protected suburbs along California’s American River, a middle-aged couple think they’re immune to anything nature blows their way — catastrophic flood included — only to find themselves terribly deluded. This original theatre piece, Take This House (and Float It Away), spirals into the tragicomic world of Stu and Marlene’s floodplain living room, where the couple is unable to comprehend nature’s effect on their safe, suburban sphere. As Stu hides behind “groundbreaking” research into bird gestures, Marlene extrapolates caffeinated solutions to newspaper headlines, conflating staying informed with staying afloat…

Read Full Article

Next Page »