Take your sustainable lifestyle to the next level in 2021

January 1, 2021 by  
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Are you already recycling? Carrying around a refillable water bottle rather than contributing to the ocean-bound plastic problem? Composting your food scraps? That’s all commendable, but there’s more to be done to achieve a net-zero lifestyle. If you’re ready to up your environmental commitment this year (and hold larger entities accountable along the way), here are a few ideas — some more dramatic than others — for sustainable resolutions in 2021. Get rid of your car If you have a car , sell or donate it. Once you’ve unloaded the gas guzzler, do your errands on foot or by bike. If you don’t have your own bike, join your city’s bike-share program. With proper COVID-19 precautions, take public transportation for longer distances. Related: The pros and cons of electromobility Ditch the plastic liners Do you know how long those kitchen trash bags take to decompose? Anywhere from 10 to 1,000 years. Instead, go au naturel and regularly clean your trash, recycling and compost containers. Change your laundering style Did you know that most of the energy it takes to run a washing machine comes from heating the water? Only 10% of energy is for working the machine, so switch to cold-water washing . Once your clothes are clean, hang them to dry. If you live somewhere sunny and have space for a clothesline, this won’t be too hard. If you live somewhere cold and rainy, see if you can hang an inside clothesline or set up a drying rack. But if this is impractical and you must run the dryer, make sure it’s fairly full so you make the most of the energy. Dryers are the third-biggest energy hogs in the average house, after the refrigerator and washer. Forget the lawn Lawns are a huge waste of space and resources. In the U.S., people spray about 3 trillion gallons of water on them every year, use 800 million gallons of gas in their lawnmowers and treat them with nearly 80 million pounds of pesticides . But who are we trying to impress with this golf course-looking terrain around our homes? Instead, go with xeriscaping or planting vegetables. Let clover take over, or fill your yard with pollinator-friendly plants. Control your climate Invest in ways to weatherize your home and lifestyle year-round. If you have the money and own a home, a heat pump can cut your energy use in half. Try low-tech solutions like wearing thicker socks and a fleece bathrobe over your clothes so that you don’t need to turn the heater up as much in winter. Add an extra blanket to the bed, and turn your thermostat down at least seven degrees at night. You use about 1% less energy per eight hours for every degree you turn it down. In summer, air conditioning is a massive energy hog. Three-quarters of U.S. homes have air conditioners, which use 6% of the total electricity produced in the nation, according to Energy Saver . Annual cost? About $29 billion dollars and 117 million metric tons of carbon dioxide released. If you must use AC, don’t set it so low. Add insulation to your house. Wear a bikini. Eat more ice pops. Sweat a little, it won’t hurt you. Go vegan Yes, Meatless Mondays are a terrific start. But this year, try adding Tuesday. And Wednesday. Et cetera. A University of Oxford study concluded that cutting out meat and dairy could reduce your carbon footprint by 73%. “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use,” said lead author Joseph Poore, as reported by The Independent . Boycott new One way to stop supporting the constant addition to more junk in the waste stream is to boycott buying anything new (excluding food, prescriptions or emergency items). Perhaps you already enjoy thrifting and flea markets. If so, committing to buying nothing new might be a fun challenge. Make 2021 your year of browsing the free libraries, finding your new look at a garage sale and swapping useful items with other folks in your neighborhood. Set up regular donations to environmental organizations Just about every organization needs your help right now. Whether you prefer whales or bats, oceans or rivers, an environmental charity exists that would greatly appreciate your recurring donation, even if it’s just five bucks a month. Control your food waste The U.S. is one of the top countries for food waste in the world, tossing almost 40 million tons annually. Most of this food goes to landfills. In fact, food waste is the second-largest component of the average American landfill behind paper. This year, commit to only buy what you’ll eat and to eat what you buy. If you don’t already compost, get yourself a compost bin and throw in all your banana peels, coffee grounds, etc. Get political On the most basic level, vote. Beyond that, support causes you believe in by writing letters to your politicians or boycotting companies that are contributing to the global climate crisis. Attend town hall meetings with your local or state representatives. If you have the time, energy, resources and moxie, run for office. Images via Adobe Stock

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Take your sustainable lifestyle to the next level in 2021

From golf to gardens: Houston’s new botanical garden opens

September 23, 2020 by  
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It’s a loss for golfers but a big win for  plant  lovers. After decades in the planning stage, the  Houston Botanic Garden  finally opened September 18 on the former Glenbrook Golf Course in southeast Houston. The garden serves as yet another draw for locals and visitors to explore Sims Bayou, a watershed area near Hobby Airport that already includes miles of walking and biking trails and countless places to launch canoes. “The  garden  will showcase international and native plant collections, educational classes for children and adults, and provide engaging programming that will embrace the garden and natural settings,” said Justin Lacey, director of communications and community engagement at Houston Botanic Garden. The international firm West 8 designed and managed the overall garden project, with Harvey Cleary Builders as the general contractor. Houston’s Clark Condon designed the garden’s planting and soil, with installation by Landscape Art. Related: Failed Palm Springs golf course is being repurposed Building a garden By the time Nancy Thomas, past president of the Garden Club of America, and the late Kay Crooker formed the nonprofit  Houston  Botanic Garden in 2002, they’d already been talking about it for years. The two women dreamed of a massive botanic garden that would rival those of other metropolitan cities. But like all massive projects, the garden took a lot of planning and plenty of  money . It wasn’t until 2015 that the Houston City Council unanimously approved a plan for the garden to take a 30-year lease on Glenbrook Golf Course. Garden supporters had to raise $20 million by the end of 2017 to claim the city-owned property. The garden has been built from the ground up. First, the garden team analyzed how long-term golfing had impacted the soil. Maintaining perfect-looking greens meant decades of intensive mowing and regularly applying  pesticides  and herbicides. In 2018, the horticulture staff quit applying chemicals to the golf course and cut the Bermuda turf very short. They tilled to a depth of about six inches, added compost, and seeded the land with cover crops like tillage radish and white clover. In 2019, gardeners worked on the drainage system and specially blended  soils  for the garden’s different areas. Planning for tropical, sub-tropical and arid plants, the gardeners sought the right mix to keep all the flora happy. The staff’s 30-year master plan includes conserving water, promoting biodiversity and providing habitat for butterflies, birds and other wildlife. Garden designers integrated the plans into the surrounding Sims Bayou, allowing for the flooding and intense weather events so prevalent in Houston. Themed gardens The botanic garden will be organized into smaller themed gardens. Landscape architects picked about 85% of the plants showcased because they grow easily in Houston. The architects hope that this may inspire visitors to up their home  gardening  efforts. “In one area, we are assessing the rate of success for simply spreading seed, versus spreading seed and  compost ,” Joy Columbus, the garden’s vice president for horticulture, wrote in an article about the garden’s opening. “In another, we are spreading seed, compost, and a liquid biological amendment. Our goal is to provide home gardeners with a menu of choices – including the cost, both monetary and in sweat equity – and the opportunity to see the results for themselves on our property.” Visitors will drive over a bridge crossing Sims Bayou then cruise down tree-lined Botanic Boulevard to enter the garden. Once inside, they can explore rare species from the Houston region and around the world in the Global Collection Garden, learn about practical uses for plants in the Edible & Medicinal Garden and gain knowledge of water purification and flood control in the Stormwater Wetlands Garden. The Susan Garver Family Discovery Garden features forests, floating gardens, a play area, a picnic grove and the chance to get close to aquatic and carnivorous plants (but not too close). A one-acre Culinary Garden will thrill both gardeners and chefs. For those who lack the yard space at home, the botanic garden plans to have room for about 100 raised  vegetable  beds in a community garden. Events in the garden One of the botanic garden’s goals is to connect Houstonians across different cultures and ethnicities. The events schedule reflects this aim. For example, Celebrating Latin America on the opening weekend will include demonstrations of uses of cacti and succulents in  Mexican  culture, a mariachi performance and a talk on the aesthetic aspects of Latin American cooking by Adán Medrano, author of the cookbook “Don’t Count The Tortillas: The Art Of Texas Mexican Cooking.” In October, the Celebrating Asia event will feature an outdoor educational demonstration on ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arrangement, a virtual lecture on Vietnamese gardens in Houston and performances by Dance of Asian America. What about golf? But what about the  golf course? Americans aren’t as keen on golf as they used to be. Since 2007, golf courses have closed faster than new ones have opened. Theories about golf’s decline in popularity vary, but the sport doesn’t seem to have caught on with millennials, who might be put off by the sport’s exclusive reputation. Or maybe it’s because Americans work longer hours than workers in many other countries, according to  The Center for American Progress . This leaves Americans with significantly less time for lengthy rounds of golf. But botanic garden visitors will probably be too busy learning about plants or sampling a cooking demo to bemoan golf’s demise. Instead, they will happily enjoy the course formerly known as Glenbrook’s 132 acres of rolling hills and draping Spanish  moss . + Houston Botanic Garden Photography by Michael Tims Photography

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From golf to gardens: Houston’s new botanical garden opens

Foster + Partners unveils LEED Gold-targeted PGA TOUR HQ in Florida

January 23, 2018 by  
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Foster + Partners has unveiled designs for the new PGA TOUR headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. The sleek, light-filled building will be equipped with sustainable biophilic design features that will help the project obtain its targeted LEED Gold certification. Surrounded by greenery, the building will be placed within a large freshwater lake in a nod to the iconic ‘Island Green’ 17th hole at THE PLAYERS Stadium Course. Located to the south of the Clubhouse at TPC Sawgrass, the 187,000-square-foot PGA TOUR headquarters will serve as the new Global Home for the professional golf platform. The new headquarters will also consolidate all the offices —currently spread out across multiple buildings—under one roof. The new building will stress a sense of openness, transparency, and flexibility for a greater collaborative environment. “Inspired by the lush greenery of TPC Sawgrass and the beautiful Floridian light, the new PGA TOUR headquarters is designed as an extension of its surrounding landscape,” said Nigel Dancey, Head of Studio, Foster + Partners. “As the Global Home of the PGA TOUR, it brings the organization under one roof for the first time, and signifies the progressive spirit of the TOUR.” Twenty-foot-wide bridges connect the two building bays and allow for informal meetings, while flexible workspaces cater to the increasingly mobile workforce. Related: Foster + Partners’ Apple Park Visitor Center opens to the public Natural light and air pours into the headquarters through glazed facades and five large skylights. Axial landscape views are welcomed into the building, and employees will have access to a 1.3-kilometer running track in the middle of the woods. Rooftop solar panels will power a portion of the building’s energy needs, while deep roof overhangs mitigate solar heat gain. + Foster + Partners Images via Foster + Partners

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Environmental activists deface Trumps California golf course

March 15, 2017 by  
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Under the cover of darkness early Sunday morning, a group of anonymous environmental activists broke into one of Donald Trump’s golf courses and defaced the green in an act of civil disobedience. In six-foot tall letters, they left a message that read simply: “NO MORE TIGERS. NO MORE WOODS.” The Trump National Golf Club, located in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, overlooks the ocean just south of Los Angeles and was ranked last year as the 43rd best course in California. The activist collective sent a video of the protest, along with a statement, to the Washington Post . The vandalism was intended as a reaction to the Trump administration’s “blatant disregard” for the environment. In an anonymous interview with the paper, one group member noted, “Tearing up the golf course felt justified in many ways. Repurposing what was once a beautiful stretch of land into a playground for the privileged is an environmental crime in its own right.” All told, the protest took about an hour to complete. Four people scaled a fence and walked down a steep hill dotted with cacti to access the green near hole five, then dug up the grass using basic gardening tools. The LA County Sherriff’s Department confirmed that the course called with a complaint about the damage on Sunday. Related: Trump tries to keep 21 kids’ climate change lawsuit from going to trial This isn’t the first time a Trump property has been vandalized in recent months. In October, Black Lives Matter graffiti was left on the side of Trump’s new Washington hotel. Reportedly, neither the Trump Organization nor the golf course itself were willing to issue a statement to the Washington Post responding to the new incident. Via The Washington Post

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Environmental activists deface Trumps California golf course

100-foot spinning sails harvest wind to power ships

March 15, 2017 by  
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For the first time in nearly a century, a ship is about to be fitted with a set of “spinning sails” that harness the wind to help power it across the ocean—a technology that could significantly green up the process of trans-oceanic shipping. As The Guardian reports, the spinning or rotor sail was first invented in 1926 by German engineer Anton Flettner, who installed them on two ships, including one that crossed the Atlantic. The “sails” are actually rotating columns that work with the prevailing winds to generate forward thrust for ships. This modern trial of a new take on old technology is backed by Maersk, Shell ’s shipping arm and one of the largest shipping companies in the world. One Maersk tanker ship will be outfitted with two of the nearly 100-foot-tall spinning sails – which are manufactured by Finland’s Norsepower . How, exactly, do they work? The spinning sails employ a principle known as the Magnus effect , in which wind passing through the spinning rotor sail accelerates on one side, while decelerating on the other. The movement of the sail generates a “thrust force” perpendicular to the wind. Electricity from the ship powers the turning of the sails, and the force generated by the sails lets the ship’s engine throttle back to lower fuel consumption. Using these sails could theoretically cut the fuel consumption of global shipping by as much as 10 percent. Related: Wind energy supplied all of Denmark’s power needs in one day Add to that the fact that, when the winds are right, each of these sails can produce about 3 megawatts of power while only requiring 50 kilowatts to operate, and the ships also have a source of renewable energy on board. The rotor sail only failed during its first go-around in the 1920s because it couldn’t compete with diesel power at that time. Now, as the price of fossil fuels is on the rise and climate change is here, this technology could be ready to set sail. Via The Guardian Images via Norsepower

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100-foot spinning sails harvest wind to power ships

Reaching the sustainability summit: Golf is on the ascent

October 8, 2016 by  
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The industry raises more for charity than the NFL, NHL and NBA combined. Now it’s time to step up on climate change.

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Reaching the sustainability summit: Golf is on the ascent

Tara Donadio: How Audubon International greens golf

July 27, 2016 by  
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The path to greener courses includes embracing brown fairways to conserve water, and preserving out-of-bounds areas to protect wildlife.

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Tara Donadio: How Audubon International greens golf

3 key sustainable business policy battles to watch

July 27, 2016 by  
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Election season may be upon those in the U.S., but several important policy battles over food and climate are going on that demand business attention.

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Who Cares About the 2015 Green Car of the Year?

January 12, 2015 by  
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One thing we’ve looked for in our annual coverage of the North American International Auto Show  (NAIAS) is the attention paid to green cars. Over the past few years, we’ve noted that environmental concerns have diminished year to year. Part of this is due to those concerns going mainstream and being incorporated into manufacturers’ whole lines, to a greater or lesser extent. But the days of having a “green flagship” are pretty much over. This year’s five finalists for Green Car of the Year were: Audi A3 TDI, BMW i3, Chevrolet Impala Bi-Fuel, Honda Fit, and VW Golf. The field is still wide open, as these include a range of fueling options, including diesel, electric, bi-fuel (gasoline/ethanol), conventional high-efficiency gasoline, and an all-of the above smorgasbord from VW with almost all of those options included in the available options for the Golf. In fact, the VW Golf was awarded North American  Car of the Year honors at this year’s show, and the new, aluminum F-150 Ford pickup won for Truck of the Year. But none of the manufacturers has a display touting the Green Car of the Year. Senior representatives for a couple of the contenders knew that it wasn’t one of theirs, but didn’t know beyond that. The Green Car of the Year seems to have fallen off general awareness at this year’s show. The most striking new technology on display, which will be of interest to green car enthusiasts, are hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs). These are going to be the next big thing to watch for, and a number of manufacturers are displaying their FCV concepts and demonstrators. Companies with FCVs in their displays this year include Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota. Fabrication and 3d printing are also concepts getting prominent display at this year’s show. An operational 3D printing station is on the main floor as part of the Local Motors display, printing out a car body during the show. The lower level of the show, which often has some of the more interesting displays, has a complete 3D printed car, as well as probably the least fuel efficient vehicle at this year’s show, a Bradley Fighting Vehicle (not for retail sale). Informative static graphic displays are also in much less abundance than previous years. The engine-on-a-stick motif and the cutaway display are much less a part of this year’s show. Many of the manufacturers seem to be focusing more on the sculpture and the simple presence of their cars. Displays about fuel efficiency or milage are in very short supply at this year’s show. And no one is trying to show off a particular vehicle as an esepcially green leader. If you’ve read this far, then you, too, must have some interest in green cars. Since the announcement was made a few weeks ago, maybe it’s not considered news. But it seems emblematic of just how far things have gone – whether you see that as a good thing or a bad thing – that it’s not even a part of BMW’s display for the vehicle to announce that the BMW i3 is this year’s Green Car of the Year .

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Who Cares About the 2015 Green Car of the Year?

Donald Trump Claims Scottish Government “Betrayed” Him With Wind Farm Plans

April 24, 2012 by  
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A war of words between Donald Trump and the Scottish government is escalating over plans to install wind turbines near Trump’s golf course , set to open this summer near Aberdeen. Trump claims Scotland’s emphasis on developing wind power will ruin the economy . Scottish leaders reply that a renewable energy policy is the best way for Scotland to boost economic development as the country edges towards a 2014 referendum on leaving the United Kingdom. The rhetoric on both sides has become heated, and Trump plans to testify in front of a parliamentary committee tomorrow. Read the rest of Donald Trump Claims Scottish Government “Betrayed” Him With Wind Farm Plans Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “clean energy” , “wind power” , aberdeen , Alex Salmond , Donald Trump , golf , golf course , renewable energy , Scotland , scottish coastline , Trump International Golf Links , united kingdom , wind turbines

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Donald Trump Claims Scottish Government “Betrayed” Him With Wind Farm Plans

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