Posted on March 24, 2016 by Christy - Environmental Tips
What could be better than candles burning on a cold winter’s night? I invite you to indulge yourself with soy or beeswax candles. But for indoor air quality, I suggest you avoid the easier-to-find paraffin variety.
Paraffin vs Soy or Beeswax:
Research at South Carolina State University in 2009 compared emissions from paraffin wax and soy candles, all of which were non-scented, non-pigmented and contained no dyes. Researchers explained that paraffin candles produced significantly more soot than others, and found that paraffin candles emitted sharp peaks of hazardous chemicals such as benzene and toluene. Soy and beeswax candles did not emit significant levels of these chemicals.
Fine Particulate Matter:
Fine particulate matter (PM) is a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets in the air which are small enough to penetrate the respiratory system further than larger particles. Fuel combustion, including candle-burning, can create fine PM. The US EPA explains that a well-designed and maintained candle emits negligible fine PM because almost all the particles are consumed by the flame. But poor candle composition and design, wick length or drafty air can lead to smoldering, which can create PM beyond ambient air quality standards. In addition, blowing out candles can instantly create a large amount of PM. The EPA recommends extinguishing the flame with a wet cloth, scissors or a snuffer.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons:
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PHAs) are products of incomplete combustion. Indoor sources include candles and incense. A study by the Centers for Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research found that five-year old children exposed to high levels of PHAs scored 4 points lower on standardized intelligence tests than less exposed children.
Soy candles are easier to find these days, including at stores such as Target. Beeswax candles require a little more effort to find, but there are plenty of online sources. While beeswax candles tend to cost more than others, they burn much longer. And they emit a natural, warm honey smell. So, enjoy soy or beeswax candlelight tonight!
Posted on March 24, 2016 by Christy - Environmental Tips
Birds may be the most welcome harbingers of spring. Colorful to see, a delight to hear, birds lend grace and beauty to our surroundings and provide natural insect control. To make your residence or neighborhood an inviting sanctuary for birds, create places for them to nest, feed, drink, and wash. Add to your yard or landscape a birdhouse or two, feeders, and birdbaths. Welcome spring with sights and sounds.
The Environmental Defenders of McHenry County is collecting political signs and sending them to New Vision Renewable energy, www.nvre.org.
New Vision Renewable Energy, a nonprofit organization based in Philippi, West Virginia., has distributed solar LED lights in over 28 countries around the world. Ruston Seaman, president and CEO of New Vision Renewable Energy, noted that the light panel is created, in part, from recycled political signs and assembled by disadvantaged students in West Virginia. We hope you will take a look at their website to get a more complete understanding of what New Vision Renewable Energy is about.
If you do not plan to re-use your signs following the election, we hope you will consider making them available to donate to this organization.
Your signs may be brought to the Defenders Recycling Drive in Woodstock on April 9, from 9 AM to Noon, at the Soil and Water Conservation District building, located at the southeast corner of Route 14 and Dean Street.
If that opportunity does not work for you, signs may be delivered to Chicago Logistic Service, 501 Davis Road, Elgin, Illinois, any time at the back of the building.
We will also be able to accept them at the Earth Day event, at Prairieview Education Center in Crystal Lake on April 23, from 11 AM to 4 PM.
Posted on March 10, 2016 by Christy - Environmental Tips
As our population and industrial activities increase, more pressure is placed on the environment that sustains us. We must elect leaders who will ensure that development does not come at the expense of nature. Translate your opinion into action and cast your vote for a candidate that has a healthy environment as a goal and priority in their campaign.
If a healthy environment is important to you, show it in your vote, talk about it, and make the environment a priority with your action. Finally, support organizations that fight for policy that protect our natural world locally, regionally, nationally, worldly.
Posted on March 2, 2016 by Christy - Environmental Tips
We’ve heard that in winter your car needs to warm up. But in fact, idling in winter has no benefit to newer model cars. Auto experts say no more than 30 seconds of idling is needed before you start driving. The engine will warm up faster being driven.
This is because most modern cars do not have carburetors, which needed to warm up to work well. New cars use electronic fuel injection. This makes the problem of warming up the car before driving irrelevant.
Even short periods of idling are significantly damaging. Indeed, it is better to turn your engine off and start it again. If every car in the U.S. idles for 6 minutes per day, 3 billion gallons of fuel is wasted annually and costs drivers $10 billion. That’s lots of vehicle exhaust containing pollutants that are harmful to your family’s health and the environment that are unnecessarily being released into the atmosphere also contributing to climate change.
Information from the Washington Post – Dec. 29, 2014
Posted on February 3, 2016 by Christy - Environmental Tips
Speak your mind if you want to see renewables change the face of energy. And do your research to choose and elect candidates that support clean energy at the local, state and national level. Here’s why. The will of the people concerned about the environment created a demand for solar energy, and what happened? The solar sector beat out the oil and gas extraction industry in 2014 creating almost 50% more jobs in the U.S. than those industries did. These are jobs open to different backgrounds including manufacturing, installation, sales and administration. Be an active participant with information. It matters.
Source: The Solar Foundation: National Solar Jobs Census 2014
Posted on January 27, 2016 by Christy - Environmental Tips
Maintain a constant indoor temperature and you’re heating not just your home but also the great outdoors. Heat is constantly lost, especially through doors and windows; the warmer it remains inside, the more heat escapes. It’s a law of thermodynamics, the same principle that makes tank water heaters less efficient than on-demand models.
This is why it takes less energy to reheat a house in a short time than to keep it warm all the time, and why energy-conservation organizations like the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy estimate a 2% savings on heating bills for each degree you lower the thermostat for eight hours at a time.
Posted on January 14, 2016 by Christy - Environmental Tips
Assuming that you use appropriate cycles and only run the machine when it’s full, the dishwasher wins. This is true even if you include the energy used in the production of the dishwasher in the first place.
To maximize the benefits, choose a model that will last and then look after it. Try to run it fully loaded, use the economy setting when possible and – for maximum green points – use the timer setting to run the dishwasher in the middle of the night. This way you’ll be using the grid at a time of low demand which means the least efficient and dirtiest power stations won’t be running, and as a result, each unit of power will have a slightly lower carbon footprint.
If you have to hand wash, please don’t let the water run.
Posted on January 4, 2016 by Christy - Environmental Tips
Share resources, reduce consumption, and be a good steward of the earth by practicing healthy habits and being an example for others to follow, including the kids.
- Choose three food items and commit to buying them organic.
- Make a change to natural skin moisturizers like coconut oil.
- Trade your bottled water habit for an at-home filtering pitcher.
- Brew your own Fair Trade coffee and carry your own cup.
- Remember your reusable bags.
- Turn off the water when you shave and brush your teeth.
- Cut back on paper towels and use cloth napkins instead of paper.
- Become a weekend vegetarian or a Monday night vegetarian.
- Commit to learning more about green power: solar and wind.
- And don’t forget the kids! Donate or consign toys and clothing they’ve outgrown.
Posted on December 21, 2015 by Christy - Environmental Tips
Give a gift to a local charity. Find the organizations that work toward the goals, missions, and values your friends and family want to support, and make a donation in the gift recipient’s name. Do this even for the kids to take the emphasis off consumption.
Skip paper and plastic products. Bring out the family China, silverware, and cloth napkins–even for breakfast!
Take a Christmas Walk and Make it a Tradition. Get outside to appreciate what nature has to offer. Gaze at the clouds and the stars; notice the local flora and fauna, and hear the quiet sounds of nature. Notice what makes a holiday different from our regular hustle and bustle days.
Give the Gift of Time. Relax with friends and family, and be kind to yourself by spreading visits out. Only memories last forever, so make good ones. Peace everyone, and happy holidays.