DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!

environmentalism

Aug 31 2009

It’s Not Easy Being Green

by Nolan R

sleeping_naked_is_greenWhen I ran across Vanessa Farquharson’s book, Sleeping Naked Is Green: How an Eco-Cynic Unplugged Her Fridge, Sold Her Car, and Found Love in 366 Days, I was intrigued.  While I don’t think I’ll be unplugging my fridge anytime soon (is that even possible in this heat?), selling my car (sorry, Jnai!), or looking for love (my husband wouldn’t approve), I am interested in living a greener life without going insane (or appearing that way).

I have tried to make small changes at home to be more green.  My husband and I haven’t done anything too drastic–although our families think our recent decision to cloth diaper our twins is a little extreme–but we’ve made minor adjustments here and there that (we hope) will reduce our carbon footprint and maybe save a polar bear or two from extinction.  We changed all our lightbulbs to compact flourescent bulbs, swapped to cloth napkins for everyday, replaced paper towels in the kitchen with dishrags and towels, and put a bucket in the shower to catch the water as it heats (which we then use to water our garden).  We also recycle and compost when we can.  But do we really have to stop eating at restaurants that use styrofoam take-out containers or stop using antiperspirants?

Although afraid of losing her cool hipster status and being mistaken for a hippie, or worse yet, a blogger, Ms. Farquharson took the plunge and began a daily blog about her changes in an effort to provide a humorous real-life view on the effect that living green might have on a regular everyday person.  All the while bearing a tiny, imaginary Al Gore on her shoulder,  she makes changes both small and large:  “Switch to recycled paper towels,” “Lower the temperature on my water heater,” or “Sell my car.”  Some changes are a little more unusual (or just plain odd), such as “Skip gown at doctor’s office” or “Drip-dry dishes in dishwasher rack above houseplants.”

If you’d like to follow Ms. Farquharson’s continuing journey on the road to being green, check out her blog Green as a Thistle.  Interested in finding out your own carbon footprint and your impact on the environment?  Go to the EPA’s Household Emissions Calculator or The Nature Conservancy’s Carbon Footprint Calculator and get a personalized estimate.  Then maybe you, too, will decide to carry a totebag and give up on pajamas…

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water_conservation_logo32Now that the drought in Georgia is officially over, residents may have a few questions concerning post-drought water usage. Is there still a schedule for specific days during which we can water our lawns? What about washing our cars outside? Can our kids break out their slip n’ slides yet? Well, do not fret – there are answers to all those questions and your good friends at the DeKalb County Public Library have compiled a short list of resources to help. (The answer to those three questions, by the way, is now yes, but please read on).

  • The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division provides a site that includes water usage rules for both drought and non-drought periods. It also features a link to drought studies conducted by The University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
  • Coping with Georgia’s drought is the name of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s wonderful page offering gardening and water-saving tips, as well as plenty of links on articles relating to the former drought. The aerial photos of Lake Lanier from October 2007-April 2009 are particularly interesting to see.
  • If you are looking tips on water saving products such as high-efficiency shower heads or toilets, Conserve Water Georgia provides a site full of valuable consumer information. There are also handy tips on water conservation for teachers, home owners, and corporations.

And don’t forget:  Leonard Anderson of the DeKalb County Extension Service will give tips on how to conserve water at the Doraville Library on Wednesday, July 29th at 6:30pmMore info here.

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April the 22 is Earth Day and nowadays, more than ever, many of us are looking for ways to be more environmentally conscious. Going Green is the popular phrase for all things earth-friendly and eco-chic but the movement to protect and preserve the environment has been going strong for decades.  Today’s the perfect day to consider ways in which we all can do our part to conserve our earth. At the risk of getting all Leonardo DiCaprio-preachy, I’ll stop here and just highlight some of the Library’s great resources on Earth Day and environmentalism in general.

A Few Books That I like:

Living Like Ed: Actor Ed Begley, Jr. has been at the forefront of environmentalism in Hollywood for over 30 years. In his book, he shares his practical and reasonable tips for being more environmentally sound.  Everything in this book is doable but the lickety-split “navy shower” idea is gonna take some getting used to for me. But the planet is worth the sacrificeI guess (sigh).

Celebrating Earth Day: A Sourcebook of Activities and Experiments: Here’s a good book for any junior ecologist. Author Robert Gardner discusses the impact of enivironmental deterioration and offers insight into how we can perhaps turn the tide. Check it out for great earth-friendly projects and ideas.

Ecological Intelligence: How Knowing the Hidden Impacts of What We Buy Can Change Everything:  “Going Green” is a good start, but author Daniel Goleman explores how ecologically unsafe many of our purchases–even the “green” ones–can be. This book encourages consumers to dig deeper and make a greater commitment to environmental consciousness.

There are several other incredible books and resources exploring the environment and the crusade to preserve it.  Even if you don’t drive a hybrid car or make your own compost, there are little, practical and inexpensive things that we all can do.

To quote one of my favorite environmentalists: “The power is yours!”–

(so wise yet so awesome!)

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Apr 16 2008

Better World Books

by Laura H

Bwb_logo
An interesting phenomena is the growing number of websites that tie social good with making money.  One such site is BetterWorldBooks.com which sells new and used books to profit and promote literacy programs such as Room to Read, Books for Africa , Worldfund, and National Center for Family Literacy.  What a “novel” idea.

The multi-tiered library also gives public libraries a chance to profit-share in the sale of their older weeded or donated books.  On top of that, the folks who started this business saw an opportunity to plan smart for minimal negative environmental effect.  Here’s what they say on their website: “we got in touch with a very smart engineer from Carnegie Mellon who has studied the environmental impacts of that other e-commerce bookstore. We asked him, how can we do it better? That led to the invention of an e-commerce first: the Carbon Neutral Shopping Cart. No more global warming emissions weighing down our operations! Working with Carbonfund.org, the leading non-profit provider of carbon offsets, we collect a few cents from every customer at checkout. The proceeds from this carbon offset are enough to purchase renewable energy credits and support reforestation. We not only offset our shipping, but also the shipping of our literacy partners. And since we sell a lot of books, that is enough to keep tons of carbon out of the atmosphere.”

If you go to their about page, you’ll see that these are real people operating out of Middle American to make a difference.  Go to the bottom of that page to learn more about their “Triple Bottom Line” and to buy or sell books to help literacy causes in an environmentally conscious way.

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I wrote today’s post last week, well before this past weekend’s devastating weather.  My heart goes out to those who suffered losses in the storms.  Please note that my last tip involves the City of Atlanta.  Unfortunately, many in the city are involuntarily without power this morning, and whether or not Atlanta will still be participating in Earth Hour 2008, I am not sure.  Please check their websites for more info at a later date.

Being environmentally-friendly has never been so trendy, although I’m hoping it’s here to stay!  Here are ten quick and fairly easy tips for going “green” on St. Patrick’s Day–and every day!

  1. Buy locally grown produce!  Check out the Decatur Organic Farmers Market on Wednesdays from 3:00-6:00 p.m. at the corner of Commerce and Church St.
  2. Conserve resources by contributing to Georgia Power’s Green Energy program.
  3. Start a compost heap in your backyard and put your leftovers to good use (check out your county Extension Office and watch for spring programs at the Library!).
  4. Dumpster-dive from the convenience of your own home with Freecycle.
  5. Bike, walk, or carpool to work.
  6. Swap out your light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and save money and energy (don’t throw them away, though–they contain mercury so be sure to recycle!).
  7. Don’t throw away that old broken cell phone, radio, or VCR–recycle it! Check out the City of Decatur 2008 Spring Electronics Recycling Day at Decatur High School on March 29th from 9am-1pm.  Information on regular local recycling locations can be found at Earth 911, DeKalb County drop-off locations, or at Your DeKalb Farmers Market
  8. Conserve water by checking out these tips from the DeKalb County Department of Watershed Management.
  9. Save money and the environment by using natural cleaning formulas.  Check out a book for more info.  (For more titles, click on “Title Info” and then on one of the subject areas for more books on those topics.)
  10. Participate in Earth Hour 2008.  Join the City of Atlanta and thousands around the world and turn off your lights for one hour on March 29th from 8-9pm.

Small changes can make a big difference in the long run, and sometimes a small change in thinking can lead to an eventual and overall lifestyle change.  Send us your tips for recycling, reusing, or reducing!

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