Sweat the small stuff

Do you sweat the small stuff? Maybe you should.

Is a Light Left On More Efficient?

I’ve worked in many offices, most of which are lit up by those yellow-ish, flickering fluorescent bulbs that buzz all day long. While I like that they’re more efficient than other options, I sure don’t appreciate how they make me look!
But the other thing that often bothers me is that they are left on perpetually! Whether or not a room is being used—a board room, the lunch room, the bathrooms—they’re just left on all day long. I’m not sure whether this is because it’s too much work for individuals to flip a switch, but it bothers me how much energy we waste with lights left on unnecessarily.

Someone once told me that one of the reasons these lights are left on all day is because they waste a lot of energy during the start-up phase of their operation. But not according to the experts. Speaking to those who believe that it takes more energy to re-start a fluorescent light than to leave it on all day, scientists have spoken out about some research that dispels the misconception.

Apparently a fluorescent light will use a fraction more energy when they are first turned on because they draw a higher level of current, but the quantity of energy is so small and lasts for such a short period of time that it’s really not worth mentioning. The scientists therefore caution that leaving these lights on wastes significantly more energy than if they were shut off. Turning them off if they’re sitting idle for more than 3-5 minutes could actually save about $4 in energy costs over the life of the lamp.

That said, the swirly CFLs that we use in our homes are more prone to damage with frequent on-off cycles. That’s because the most damage done to a CFL occurs when it is first turned on. Experts at Popular Mechanics therefore recommend that you place CFLs throughout your home where they will be left on for longer periods of time, such as in living rooms, bedrooms, and kitchens rather than in a closet or the bathroom. Good advice.

– Lucy

U.S. Energy consumption: where our electricity comes from

Ever wonder where our electricity comes from? The U.S. ranks #1 in the world for per capital use of energy. This is a ranking we should not be proud of.

Steppin’ Out: Cleaning Up After Your Canine Companion

Ten million tons. That’s the estimated weight of cat and dog waste produced by our furry friends every year in the US. And it’s no wonder, considering that over half of all Americans now share their home with at least one cat or one dog. In fact, the total domestic dog population in the US is over 67 million, a group that eats an enormous quantity of food every year, with the market for wet and dry canine delights over $10 billion.

Whether you’re familiar with backyard composting or not, you may want to consider processing your dog’s poop at home by setting up a composting system for it. While you should never compost your pet waste with your regular kitchen garbage because of pathogens which may contaminate your food, you can dedicate a composter just for your dog waste. This simple solution reduces the amount of garbage you produce each week while keeping potential toxins away from our water systems, too.

Commercially-produced dog waste composters can be purchased, making your setup low-maintenance. Doggiel Dooley and the Tumbleweed Pet Poo Converter are two such options.

But if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, a home-spun version can also be built out of supplies you may have sitting in your garage. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A shovel.
  • A large plastic garbage can or compost bin with a good-fitting lid.
  • Septo-Bac, which is an enzyme-active biological compound that increases the digestion rate of sewage purchased a home improvement stores in the plumbing section.
  • An unused corner of your backyard that’s situated away from your vegetable garden or any food-bearing plants.

Putting it altogether is mostly a matter of a little shovel-work. For a pictorial tutorial on making your own doggie waste composter, check out this City Farmer slideshow.

Mama plants 4735 trees on behalf of her Facebook Fans

We are on a serious mission to do everything we can to give us cleaner air and protect wildlife that depends on trees for food and shelter. Each month, we plant 1 tree on behalf of each one of our Facebook Fans. At the end of July, we had a whopping 4,735 Facebook Fans. We planted 4,735 trees with out partner Trees for the Future.

Spread the word and we will continue to plant more trees.

– Mama

What will you do?

What will you do to prevent our sea life from dying? What will you do to protect sea animals so future generations can enjoy them? How will you stand up for marine life?

Mama will donate $1 to Ocean Conservancy per each person that makes a comment on how they will stand up for marine life.

Not sure how to make a difference? An easy step is to limit your plastic bag usage. Countless plastic bags end up in our ocean and cause harm to our marine wildlife. Many marine animals and birds mistakenly ingest plastic or become entangled and choke in plastic bags that is floating around. For instance, environmentalists have pointed out that turtles often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish and invariably swallow them. It is estimated 100,000 marine mammals die each year because of plastic litter in our ocean in the North Pacific.

Let’s make a difference together!

– Mama

***In this specially made film for WCPA – Marine, world-renowned cinematographer Bob Talbot shows us that we have only one ocean and it’s in trouble. Together we can make a difference. What we do today, will determine the ocean our children inherit tomorrow.

Defy the Myth: Stop Idling for Your Car’s Sake

I was recently at the school waiting for the kids and was shocked to see so many vehicles running. And when I stepped out of my vehicle to talk to another Mom, I was almost suffocated by the fumes. Some of the vehicles were even left idling with no one in them!

It’s no mystery that idling can actually have a negative effect on our children’s health. Idling can contribute to health problems such as asthma, heart and lunch disease, and allergies, so keeping the car running while waiting for Suzy or Paul may just be harmful to their health!

And it’s not necessary, either. Contrary to what your husband or father may have led you to believe, your engine does not need to be warmed up before you drive during cold weather to avoid damage. According to California Energy Commissions’ Consumer Energy Center:

“Idling is not an effective way to warm up your vehicle, even in cold weather. The best way to do this is to drive the vehicle. With today’s modern engines, you need no more than 30 seconds of idling on winter days before driving away.”
In fact, they tell us that idling can actually damage your car’s engine parts since fuel is only partially combusted when idling, which means your engine is operating at less-than-peak performance. As a result, fuel residues may build up on your cylinder walls that can then damage the components and reduce fuel efficiency.

For these health and engine reasons, idling is therefore a bad idea. But it’s also bad for the pocketbook, since idling for just 10 seconds burns the same amount of fuel as restarting your vehicle. Likewise, two minutes spent idling uses the same amount of fuel as driving for about one mile. What a waste!

This is totally preventable pollution and expense. I may even consider shutting down the engine the next time I’m stopped waiting for a train or at a long red light!

– Lucy

Electronic waste not

Don’t trash it, turn your electronic waste into cash. Millions of pounds of televisions, computers, cell phones are thrown away each year.

– Mama

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