July 18, 2008

Beijing Olympics - Earning a Green Medal

With the Olympics arriving in Beijing they have brought with them some strong environmental initiatives that will help keep a tradition of minimizing the carbon footprint of the games. According the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) solar power is being used to light the Olympic Village and the National Stadium, along with lawns, courtyards, and streets at several other venues.

Solar heating is being utilized extensively at places like the Olympic Green Tennis Center, and reclaimed water from a sewage treatment plant is being used for the heating and cooling systems at the Olympic Village. A 60% energy savings is expected from this one program alone. Additionally, the National Aquatics Center has been outfitted with translucent membranes throughout its ceilings and walls to allow in natural light.

The Fengtai softball field and the Olympic Media Village are made up of permeable blocks that allow water to be recaptured through an underground system. UNEP has also stated that organizers have made an “extraordinary achievement” in regards to avoiding ozone damaging chemicals such as carbon tetrachloride and methyl chloroform, two chemicals primarily used for laundry and electronic circuit board cleaning.

Organizers have set an overall recycling goal of 50% for papers, metals, and plastics. All that is missing from the environmental mix for the 2008 Beijing Olympics Games is a bit more emphasis on reducing consumption and the purchasing of carbon offsets to take the games to a carbon neutral level. Look out Vancouver in 2010, you have a lot to live up to, but there is still more room to grow.

June 23, 2008

10 Tips for a Greener Wedding

Having a green wedding is not only good for your carbon footprint, it is also a great way to raise awareness to your guests that they can go “green” and still have a wonderful celebration all around. Here are ten easy tips for making your wedding a greener event.

1.       Send out eco-friendly invitations made from 100% recycled materials – this sends a great message out to all guests from the start.

2.       Purchase carbon offsets for your guest’s travel – a large portion of the footprint of a wedding is family and friends flying or driving in from a long way away.

3.       Try to have your wedding and reception at the same venue – this will eliminate the need for a mass migration back and forth.

4.       Make the menu sustainable by using all local organic food – even the wedding cake can be organic and still be as good as ever.

5.       Have recycle and compost bins next to the garbage cans.

6.       Use table ware that can be washed and re-used – whether renting or providing it yourself, by avoiding disposable plates and cups you can make a huge difference.

7.       Go with native flowers for bouquets and use planted ones for centerpieces – these can then be taken home by family and friends.

8.       Use antique objects like crocks, watering cans, and folk art from local vintage stores for centerpieces – these also can be taken home by guests.

9.       Decorations can be personal items, old photos, keepsakes, poems, etc – all of which will be coming back home with you and not in the trash.

10.   Place cards can be made from 100% recycled materials and filled with wildflower seeds.

These are just a few simple things that anyone can do when planning their wedding. There are plenty of eco-friendly wedding planners out there to assist couples looking to go green for their big day!

May 22, 2008

20% Wind Power in America?

The Department of Energy recently released a study claiming that wind power could make up as much as 20% of our nation’s electricity portfolio by 2030.  Given that wind only account for about 1% of our power sources today, that would be a huge increase.  More wind power means fewer fossil fuels and fewer harmful carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.

Increasing our amount of wind power has more benefits than just displacing polluting sources like coal, oil, and natural gas.  Wind farms generate renewable energy credits in many states, which can go toward carbon offsets for electricity usage.  They also bring jobs and investment into traditionally declining rural areas.

So why isn’t this happening today?  Wind power is still more expensive than traditional fossil fuels, and the industry needs grassroots support from eco-minded consumers along with favorable government policies.  Purchasing renewable energy credits for clean energy and carbon offsets puts dollars toward the wind industry.  When you offset your carbon footprint, you can help America’s electricity industry reduce its footprint too.