Guest Blog: The Five Worst Things You Can Do for the Planet

by Jessica Reynolds, Community Manager at Solar Action Alliance

The bottom line is that the worst thing an individual can do is to increase – or not reduce – his or her carbon footprint. In other words, each of us needs to decrease the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other pollutants our activities produce as much as possible.

There are a number of things an individual can do that are truly bad for the planet, but perhaps the five that are the most common are:

Wasting energy, especially fossil fuel-based energy

bulbThere is a lot we do that wastes energy. Given that most energy is still generated by fossil fuels such as coal and oil, energy production still results in massive amounts of greenhouse gasses. The worst thing an individual can do, therefore, is to waste energy.

For example: leaving unnecessary lights on; allowing unused appliances, including computer monitors, to continue to run; using incandescent light bulbs; washing your laundry in hot water, not monitoring your energy usage, not installing thermostats and timers, and not replacing old appliances with ‘green’ versions. The US Department of Energy provides a great deal of information about what items and activities waste energy.

Wasting Water

Water is an increasingly valuable resource, especially in some parts of the world. Wasting or overusing water is a serious way to negatively impact our planet.

As stated on the Oxford Brookes University website, “Water scarcity has knock on effects not just for drinking water supplies. Food production can be affected, while landscapes can be altered and degrade without sufficient water [and] both the pumping and cleaning of water requires energy. As the majority of energy used in water sanitation comes from fossil fuels, these resources are also depleted, while additional greenhouse gases are emitted”.

Not Recycling

trashNot recycling negatively impacts the planet in several ways. Firstly, by sending all our household waste to landfills we introduce items that release toxins into the soil, groundwater, and air. A huge amount of our  junk, especially plastic of various kinds, finds its way into the oceans and seas where it kills marine creatures. Secondly, if you don’t “recycle” wasted food by composting it, it ends up in a landfill and rots and produces methane gas, which is a big greenhouse gas culprit.

Engaging in greenhouse gas and other pollutant generating activities

There are a lot of things we do each day that are bad for our planet because they generate pollutants of various kinds. One of the many things that has a negative impact is using your private motor vehicle on daily commutes. You could also buy a vehicle that guzzle fossil fuels and produces high levels of emissions. Instead use public transport, cycle, carpool, or even walk.

Additionally, you could eat a great deal of meat because as author and journalist Adria Vasil points out, “51 percent of world greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, camels, pigs, and poultry”.

Buying products that are resource greedy or toxic

waterMany products we use often are bad for our planet. For instance, indulging our passion for denim and taste for bottled water is not good for the planet. Both products involve production processes that use vast amounts of both fossil fuel energy and water. This means both manufacturing processes use a scarce resource and belch CO2 into the air.

A lot of products we purchase and use daily like soap, detergent, cleaning agents, and other personal care products contain chemicals, toxins and, in some cases, hormones. These find their way into the air, soil, and water through landfill seepage etc. Buying products in non-biodegradable packaging such as plastic and styrofoam also harms the planet.

However…

… If you want to work to heal the planet there are numerous websites, such as One Green Planet, and organizations that provide really helpful practical tools and tips.

Given many of these five are linked either directly or indirectly to the use of fossil fuels and their negative impact, isn’t it time to consider moving to clean, sustainable energy? Solar energy ticks all the right environmental boxes, and so many others too. For information on solar and related topics, visit the Solar Action Alliance.

If you want to help underprivileged communities in Central America and on Tribal Lands in the United States have access to renewable energy, please consider making a donation.

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Jessica Reynolds is a Community Manager at Solar Action Alliance. She loves her Brittany spaniel named Frankie, traveling, Michigan summers, and helping promote sustainable energy.

Solar Action Alliance is a group of environmentalists who want to spread the word about the cleanest, most reliable and abundant source of renewable energy: the sun.

 

 

 

 

Henry Red Cloud Awarded Highest Honors from American Solar Energy Society

henry red cloud

Congrats to our dear friend and Tribal Renewable Energy Program partner, Henry Red Cloud, for receving the prestigious Charles Greeley Abbot Award from the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) yesterday in Baltimore. 

From ASES “Solar 2013” blog:

ASES awarded its highest honor, the Charles Greeley Abbot Award, to Henry Red Cloud for his work to improve the lives of Native Americans nationwide through the use of renewable energy. Red Cloud founded Lakota Solar Enterprises on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota to produce an affordable, replicable solar air-heating system that saves tribal families 20 to 30 percent on their annual heating costs. In honor of past and future generations of Lakota people and of all the “solar warriors and warriorettes” in attendance, Red Cloud sang a Lakota song passed down from his grandfather and through the generations. For the song, about honoring the sun and its part in the water and life cycles, he asked those present to stand and contemplate their own part in this cycle of life, in preserving the earth’s resources and honoring the sun.

Was-te to an inspiring Solar Warrior!

(Photo by Rachael Maddox & Brian Ward)

 

TWP National Director Awarded Fellowship

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Lacey Gaechter (center) with trainees at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

Congratulations to Lacey Gaechter, TWP’s National Director, for being awarded a fellowship to the Center for Collaborative Conservation at Colorado State University!

Through this fellowship, Lacey is helping create “green” livelihoods on Native American reservations in the United States, where there is often little hope for other employment options, especially those that honor Mother Earth.

With the help of Colorado State University’s College of Business, Lacey will expand this idea of developing tribal businesses to include creating a format and foundation for Trees, Water & People to act as an incubator for livelihoods in energy conservation.

Learn more about the Center for Collaborative Conservation >>

Guest Blog: How Climate Change is Destroying the Earth

by LearnStuff.com

Climate Change is Real

Thanks to extensive research and noticeable changes in weather and storm prevalence, it’s getting harder to turn a blind eye to the reality of climate change. Since the Industrial Age spurred the increasing usage of fossil fuels for energy production, the weather has been warming slowly. In fact, since 1880, the temperature of the earth has increased by 1 degree Celsius.

Although 72% of media outlets report on global warming with a skeptical air, the overwhelming majority of scientists believe that the extreme weather of the last decade is at least partially caused by global warming. Some examples of climate calamities caused partly by global warming include:

Hurricane Katrina
Drought in desert countries
Hurricane Sandy
Tornadoes in the Midwest

These storms, droughts, and floods are causing death and economic issues for people all over the world – many of whom cannot afford to rebuild their lives from the ground up after being wiped out by a tsunami or other disaster.

Climate-Change

Steps anyone can take to reduce global warming include:

  • Driving a car with good gas mileage, or investing in a hybrid or electric car
  • Switching from incandescent light bulbs to CFL or LED
  • Insulating your home and stocking it with energy efficient appliances
  • Recycling
  • Using green power available in your area

Infographic created by: LearnStuff.com

Guest Blog: Save the world by saving energy in your home

by Jaclyn Nicholson, eLocal.com

Energy efficiency should always be a top priority in your home. In the U.S. we tend to overuse and over produce, creating a massive amount of carbon dioxide. The United States is the second largest producer of CO2, just behind China. Although these numbers are astronomical, we can contribute to the solution daily by being more energy efficient in our homes. From upgrading appliances to solar roof panels, there are endless ways to conserve. For more simple methods, it is encouraged to change your light bulbs from incandescent to CFL. If every home in the nation followed this suggestion, we would have enough energy to light three million homes for a year! Check out the infographic below to learn more.

[Click the image to enlarge]

Saving Energy Infographic
Source: eLocal.com

Notes from the Field: Solar Trainees Bring Renewables to KILI Radio

by Lacey Gaechter, National Director

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A wonderful group of students came out for last week’s Solar Electric Training at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. We had two repeat trainees, both of whom are in the process of starting their own renewable energy business: Leo White Bear, owner of Off the Grid, and Kale Means, budding proprietor of Indigenous Renewable Energy.

Since Leo Bear left his internship with Lakota Solar Enterprises, I have missed him so much, and it was great to visit with him again and to hear that he is doing so well back home in Idaho. Leo says of this course, “It will have a big impact for my renewable energy business!”

This course represents the Tribal Renewable Energy Program’s first “Trainer in Residence” project, featuring guest instructor Jeff Tobe of Solar Energy International. Thanks to a grant from the Department of Energy, Jeff was able to spend one week at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center co-hosting this training with Henry Red Cloud. Solar Energy International’s ultimate objective was actually to propagate skilled instructors for future solar electric courses, so this was a training for the trainer (Henry Red Cloud) as well.

Thanks to Trees, Water & People’s donors, including a very generous grant from the Arntz Family Foundation, we were also able to offer this training opportunity to seven students from the Shoshone Bannock, Oglala Lakota, Cheyenne River Sioux, and Northern Cheyenne tribes. The 2 kilowatt photovoltaic array was donated by Namasté Solar, which allowed us to offer scholarships to all seven students. In addition, we are also happy to contribute free, clean electricity to the KILI Radio Station in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. KILI is “the Voice of the Lakota Nation,” and is listened to online by tribal people throughout the contiguous United States and Alaska.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this training a success!

Native American trainees from 4 different tribes joined us for a Solar Electric Training, hosted at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center in South Dakota.

Photo of the Week: Aerial View of the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center

A beautiful aerial shot of the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center in Pine Ridge, SD, headquarters of the Tribal Renewable Energy Program. (click the photo to enlarge)

Trees, Water & People competing for new Toyota on May 27th

Trees, Water & People is one of 500 nonprofit finalists in Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good program, a major philanthropic initiative in which the automaker is giving 100 cars to 100 nonprofit organizations over the course of 100 days.  Trees, Water & People was selected as a finalist from more than 4,000 applications nationwide.

Beginning May 14, 2012, 100 Cars for Good has been profiling five finalists a day at www.100carsforgood.com.   Individual members of the public vote for which ever nonprofit they think can do the most good with a new vehicle.  The nonprofit with the most votes at the end of each day receives one of six Toyota models.  Runners-up each receive a $1,000 cash grant from Toyota.

Trees, Water & People will be up for consideration on Sunday, May 27th from 8:00 a.m. MST – 9:59 p.m. MST. To vote please visit www.100carsforgood.com.

“All of us here at Trees, Water & People are honored to have been selected as a finalist for the 100 Cars for Good Program,” said Richard Fox, Executive Director of Trees, Water & People, “But, we really can’t be successful without the support of our community. Winning this car will help us increase our impact on Tribal Lands of the United States and we hope everyone will help us to spread the word now and, of course, will make time to visit www.100carsforgood.com on Sunday, May 27th, to vote for us.”

Trees, Water & People One of 500 Finalists for Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good Program

100 Cars For Good LogoWe are excited to announce that we have been selected as one of 500 nonprofit finalists in Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good program, a major philanthropic initiative in which the automaker is giving 100 cars to 100 nonprofits over the course of 100 days.  Trees, Water & People was selected as a finalist from more than 4,000 applications nationwide.

Each day, beginning May 14, 2012, 100 Cars for Good will profile five finalists at www.100carsforgood.com.   Individual members of the public will be able to vote for which ever nonprofit they think can do the most good with a new vehicle.  The nonprofit with the most votes at the end of each day will win one of six Toyota models.  Runners-up will each receive a $1,000 cash grant from Toyota.

Trees, Water & People’s voting day is on May 27th, 2012. Mark your calendars and cast a vote for us! 

“At Toyota, we appreciate what a significant impact a new car can have for nonprofits nationwide,” noted Michael Rouse, vice president of philanthropy for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A.  “Toyota has donated more than half a billion dollars to nonprofits across the U.S. over the past 20 years, and 100 Cars for Good allows us to expand that commitment to local communities in important new ways.  The 500 finalists are an extraordinary group, and we look forward to the public learning more about them.”

100 Cars for Good is the first initiative to directly engage the public to determine how Toyota’s philanthropic donations are awarded.

For complete information on 100 Cars for Good and profiles of all 500 finalists, please visit www.100carsforgood.com.

If TWP receives the most votes on May 27th and is awarded a new vehicle, it will be used by our Tribal Renewable Energy Program to safely transport all the materials needed to install our solar air heating systems on the homes of Native American families. Currently, the vehicles we own are very old and often times unreliable. A new Toyota would be a huge help with our efforts to bring sustainable, clean energy to Tribal families!

Native American “Solar Technician 1” trainees work with Henry Red Cloud (green vest), TWP’s Tribal Program partner, to install a solar air heater on a families home at the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota as part of our green job training program.

2012: The International Year of Sustainable Energy for All

We are proud supporters of the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All because we believe that every human being on Earth deserves access to the energy needed to live a healthy and prosperous life.

“Energy is the golden thread that connects economic growth, increased social equity, and an environment that allows the world to thrive.”

-Ban Ki Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, January 2012

To learn more about the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All please visit the official website: http://www.sustainableenergyforall.org/