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Tip of the Week

Page history last edited by Sylvia Neely 13 years, 7 months ago

Tip of the Week


Feel free to use these tips for your congregation's bulletins, webpages, or bulletin boards.


July 18, 2010

The Harvard Nurses' Health Study has found that women in their 30s and 40s who increased brisk walking or bicycling by 30 minutes a day maintained their weight or actually lost a few pounds.  Bicycling is good for your health, your waistline, and the environment.  We are fortunate to be in a community where both bicycling and walking are feasible and (for most of the year) pleasant.  Instead of driving to do an errand that is not far away, hop on the bike instead. 


July 4, 2010

You probably already save energy by washing your clothes in cold water.  Now extend the principle to your hands.  Some people worry that their hands will not get clean enough.  But water used for hand-washing is never hot enough to kill bacteria because at that temperature it would burn your hands.  A column in the Science section of the New York Times of October 13, 2009 noted that a study showed that temperature of the water had no effect on reduction of bacteria.  They concluded, "Hot water for hand washing has not been proved to remove germs better than cold water."  Of course, you must use soap and wash and rinse carefully, but no need to wait for the water to warm up.  Just use cold water.


June 20, 2010

 The current issue of Legacies, the semi-annual publication of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, is dedicated to Pennsylvanians and their environment. One article describes the environmental impact of the oil boom that began when Colonel Edwin Drake drilled the first oil well in the United States in Titusville in 1859.  Other articles are on smog control in Pittsburgh and sewers and public health in Philadelphia.  Of special interest to our area is an article on Prof. Joseph Rothrock and his promotion of reforestation.  Members of the society receive the publication, which is also available online at www.hsp.org. We can learn a great deal from the past about how to respond to our current environmental problems.


June 13, 2010

Because of the growth in population in this region and the increased demand for water, the water table is now lower.  This means that streams are lower which will have a great impact on one of the main attractions of our area:  trout fishing.  As temperatures rise and water levels are lower, it will be more and more difficult for fish to survive.  This warning note was sounded at a forum on June 1 by Steve Sywensky of Fly Fishers Paradise of State College.  The excellent presentations from this forum (National Security, Energy, Natural Resources and Climate Change) are being broadcast on cable channel CGTV (Channel 7) at the following times:  Saturday, June 19 at 4 pm; Sunday, June 20 at 5 pm; Wednesday, June 23 at 7 pm; Thursday, June 24 at 10 am; and Sunday, June 27 at 1 pm.  Please spread the word.


June 6, 2010

The recent oil spill has highlighted what we already knew.  We need to cut down on the amount of gasoline we use as it becomes more and more difficult to find additional supplies of oil.  If you take a long trip this summer, do not drive the speed limit on the highway.  We are not advocating breaking the law, but rather advocating that you drive below the speed limit.  For all cars, efficiency decreases at speeds above 55 or 60 mph.  The website www.fueleconomy.gov notes that "you can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for gas."  Airlines and ship companies have already begun to slow down their speeds to save money.  The website "How stuff works" explains the physical principles behind the optimum speeds.  Use the cruise control to go at a speed below the speed limit and your trip will be safe and more efficient.


May 30, 2010

This time of year is always one of great anticipation as we plant our gardens and attend the openings of the local farmers' markets.  The Boalsburg Market (Tuesday afternoons from 2 to 6 pm) offers easily accessible parking on the beautiful grounds of the Military Museum.  The convenient market in Downtown State College on Locust Lane, which traditionally was open on Fridays from 11:30 to 5:30, in now also open on Tuesdays during the same hours.  The vendors at both of these markets produce what they sell.  In addition to vegetables, they offer a variety of other things:  baked goods, flowers, plants, meat.  By supporting these farmers, you support the local economy and ensure that the foods you buy are fresh and safe.  By growing your own vegetables or buying them locally, you will eliminate the waste of transporting food from far away.


May 16, 2010

The current news from the Gulf of Mexico has made us all aware of the fragile state of our oceans.  Besides cutting down on petroleum use (and thus demand for more exploration and drilling), there is not very much that we can do from here to help the populations and the wildlife threatened by the oil spill.  But we can make choices that will make a difference to the future of the oceans by refraining from eating fish or by choosing seafood that will not harm the environment.  The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a handy "Sustainable Seafood Guide" that you can print out, fold, and take with you in your wallet to restaurants and markets.  Here is the web address:  montereybayaquarium.org and click on "Seafood watch" and then "seafood recommendations" to access the guides.  There is one specifically for the Northeast.  Click here to access the guide.



March 21, 2010

On Saturday, March 27 at 8:30 local time, join people around the world as they observe Earth Hour.  Begun in Australia three years ago, Earth Hour is a visible demonstration of the change we can make in energy use.  For one hour, between 8:30 and 9:30, turn out all unnecessary lighting and electrical appliances and enjoy the dark and the peace.  Eat by candlelight, play board games, take a walk and look at the stars, have a party with your friends.  None of these require being connected to the grid.  Afterwards you can see on the news the dramatic effect as lights are turned off of some of the greatest monuments around the world.  Mayor Elizabeth Goreham has issued a proclamation for State College to take part.  Pennsylvania has joined the movements and the capitol building in Harrisburg will go dark, as will buildings on the Penn State campus.  Here is the website about the event:  www.earthhour.org


March 14, 2010

Although it may not seem that conserving water has any relationship to reducing greenhouse gases, in fact the two are connected.  It takes energy to pump water, to make the pipes and equipment that are used to transport water, to heat it, and to treat wastewater after we have used it.  Furthermore, the generation of electricity requires a great deal of water.  According to a publication of the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State, over half of the water withdrawn in Pennsylvania in 1995 was used to cool power generators.  A May 2009 article in the New York Times began:  "It has long been an axiom of infrastructure planning that it takes a lot of water to make electricity, and a lot of electricity to make water.  Each day, for example, the nation’s thermoelectric power plants (90 percent of all power plants in the United States), draw 136 billion gallons of water from lakes, rivers and oceans to cool the steam used to drive turbines, according to the Department of Energy." (Click here for article and here for another Times article.)  So if you reduce your use of water, you reduce the amount of electricity needed to supply and treat water, and you make available water which is essential for producing electricity.


March 7, 2010

During Lent some people give up favorite foods.  An even better idea would be to give up foods that have a big carbon footprint.  Foods that are heavily processed or that come in elaborate packaging or that have traveled a long way all have used a lot of energy before they get to you.  Despite the current emphasis on locally grown food, researchers at Carnegie-Mellon University estimate that eating an entirely local diet is equivalent in greenhouse gas emissions to reducing your driving by 1,000 miles.  However, you can get the same result by cutting out beef, pork, and dairy products one day a week.  And shifting completely to a vegetable-based diet (instead of the average American diet) would reduce greenhouse gas emissions as much as cutting 8,000 miles of driving per year.  Making adjustments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can be difficult sometimes.  But a change in diet is completely within our own control and easy to do.  Click here for full article.


Feb. 21, 2010

In order to cut down on the amount of garbage in landfills we need to recycle as many items as possible.  Municipal waste companies typically do not pick up batteries and CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs), both of which need to be kept out of landfills because of the chemicals they contain.  Your congregation could recycle those items for its members.  Why not establish a "Recycling Center" to accept these items and to serve as a central location for recycling items used in the building?


Feb. 14, 2010

Will you be observing Lent?  Why not give up carbon for Lent?  Click here for a calendar that you can use during Lent to record what you do each day to help the environment.  You could choose to do something different every day  (see the list of suggestions).  Or you might choose to give up one thing for the duration of Lent.  Traditionally, Christians avoided meat during Lent, and that tradition fits well with our concerns for the planet.  The modern beef industry is very energy intensive.  An article in Scientific American calculated that producing one-half pound of beef emits as much CO2 as driving a car that gets 27 miles per gallon for 9.81 miles.


Feb. 7, 2010

What is the connection between our actions to reduce energy use and the effect of climate change on the global level?  This week we have an opportunity to hear the reflections of three Penn State professors who attended the Copenhagen conference last December.  They will be giving a panel presentation entitled "Climate Change, Climate Justice:  Lessons from Copenhagen," at Schlow Center Region Library on Saturday, Feb. 13, at 2:30.  Nancy Tuana, Donald A. Brown, and Petra Tschakert will offer different perspectives on this important issue, with an emphasis on its ethical dimensions.  Sponsored by the Creation Care Coalition (along with others), the presentation is free.  Please plan to attend.

Click here for flyer for this event.


Jan. 31, 2010

The internet is a wonderful source of information for those seeking to reduce their carbon footprints.  If your appliances are getting close to the end of their useful lives, begin researching how to replace them with more energy efficient models.  The EPA website lists appliances that have received the "Energy Star" designation: http://www.energystar.gov/ According to this site, "Energy efficient choices can save families about a third on their energy bill with similar savings of greenhouse gas emissions, without sacrificing features, style or comfort."  The website also has a store locator and a guide to available rebates.


January 24, 2010

If you are receiving too many catalogs, you can stop them by going to www.catalogchoice.org and selecting the ones you do not want to receive.  If you have a tip that others would find useful, please send it to SNeely@psu.edu.


January 17, 2010 

By calculating your carbon footprint, you can determine whether your family is above or below the national average (see the EPA website for more information on average household usage).  If members of the congregation use the same method to calculate their carbon footprints, they will have an opportunity of comparing their own household against other similar households.  If somebody you know is doing much better yet lives in a similar sized house, you can find out what they are doing differently.  If you have reduced your thermostat as low as possible, but your heating bills are still large, perhaps it is time to get an energy audit to find out how your house can be made more efficient.  You may need to add insulation, plug the leaks, or get a more efficient heating system.


January 10, 2010 

If your family has a regular schedule (ie, you leave and return from work at about the same time every day), you might want to consider investing in a programmable thermostat.  According to the EPA website, an average family spends $2,200 a year on energy bills — nearly half of which goes to heating and cooling. Homeowners can save about $180 a year with a programmable thermostat.  Of course, you can accomplish the same thing by manually adjusting the thermostat yourself – you just have to remember to do it.



January 3, 2010 

In the depths of winter, one of the ways you can save the most on energy is by reducing heating costs.  Turn down the thermostat at night when you go to bed.  If nobody is home during the day, the thermostat can also be turned down then.  Close off the heat in rooms that you are not using and close the door.  That will concentrate the heat in the rooms you are living in.  Wear warmer clothing to remain comfortable when the heat is reduced. 


Dec. 27, 2009 

Climate change has been much in the news lately, but news organizations do not do a very good job of showing the ethical issues involved.  Maybe it is time to read a book.  The ethical and religious basis of caring for creation is explored in Love God, Heal Earth, edited by the Rev. Canon Sally G. Bingham, founder of Interfaith Power and Light.  It offers essays by 21 religious leaders of diverse faiths.  If you have questions about the basic science of climate change, a good place to start is Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming by Michael E. Mann and Lee R. Kump. Profusely illustrated, this book explains the science in an accessible and straightforward way.


Dec. 20, 2009

If you give presents that require batteries, be sure to get rechargeable batteries.  Some new types of rechargeable batteries can be recharged as many as 500 times.  Most chargers will accommodate several different sizes of batteries.  Get the right kind of charger for your batteries.  The kind that turns off when the batteries are fully charged will save on electricity.  Or save on electricity even more by getting a solar charger.  Amazon sells one of these for under $25.00.


Dec. 13, 2009

The holidays are a time for giving, but the gift does not have to be something manufactured and shipped from far away.  You might buy from local artisans (and in the process support your local economy).  Or you might give gifts that you have made.  Although it may be too late this year to make something elaborate, start thinking of a project that you can carry out for next year.  If you have put time and effort into something, your loved ones will treasure it.  It is more important to give one thoughtful and appreciated gift than lots of "stuff" that nobody really needs.

There are many websites with ideas for "green" holidays.  Here are two:





Dec. 6, 2009

Use LED lights for holiday decorating.  They use 80% less energy than larger, traditional holiday bulbs and last far longer.  You save money on durability and on greatly reducing your electricity bill.  If one of the LED lights burns out the rest of the strand will stay lit.  LED lights are available for both indoor and outdoor use.  Starting in 2007, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in New York and the National Christmas tree in Washington used LED lights.  Remember to turn out the lights at bedtime.


Nov. 29, 2009

For Christmas, why not give something other than “stuff”?  You can choose something meaningful by attending the Alternative Christmas Fair on Sunday, Dec. 6, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the basement of University Baptist and Brethren Church, 411 S. Burrows St.  At the fair, donations are made to charities of choice in the form of a gift to friends or family members and attractive gift cards are provided.  The fair showcases 20 local, national, and international charitable organizations that offer goods and services to those in need.  Click here for a full list of participating groups


Nov. 22, 2009

One of the easiest ways to improve your carbon footprint is to replace regular incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents.  Although the initial cost is greater, an ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) will save about $30 over its lifetime and pay for itself in about 6 months. It uses 75 percent less energy and lasts about 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb.  A wide variety of CFL bulbs are now being made that fit many different fixtures.


Nov. 15, 2009

Fall leaves make a great base for a compost pile to which kitchen scraps can be added throughout the year.  Remember that a successful compost pile will have a mixture of brown and green items.  Brown additions (including leaves) should constitute three times the volume of the green additions (vegetable scraps, no meat, oil or fats).  Save some bags of leaves so that those can be added through the winter months.  In the summer you will be able to use the resulting compost on your garden plants.  Your plants will thrive and you will be cutting down on landfill volume.

Links:  There are many good sites with information on composting.  Here is one of them:







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