Written and Published By: Julianne Silletti from Raytricity
By: Julianne Silletti
I put together 10 activities for Earth Day. Things you can do to make a difference not only for our planet, but in your community too! These are things that you can keep up with after as well, not just on Earth Day!
1.) Feed the birds!
If you have children, use part of the day to take your empty soda bottles (or find some pine cones) to create a recycled bird feeder. Place in your garden or hang it from a tree and check back to see who’s been eating from it!
2.) Make a plan to recycle (if you don’t have one already)
If you already do, check with your school/kids school or place of work to see what their recycling plan is. If theirs isn’t maximized, create a BETTER plan with them to promote more recycling.
Did you know: Americans use 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour?
Did you know: If all of our newspapers were recycled, we could save about 250 million trees each year! If every American recycled just one-tenth of their newspapers, we could save about 25 million trees each year?
Fact: Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours. In spite of this, Americans throw away enough aluminum to rebuild our entire commercial fleet of airplanes every three months!
Did you know: A typical family consumes 182 gallons of soda, 29 gallons of juice, 104 gallons of milk, and 26 gallons of bottled water a year. That’s a lot of containers that can all be recycled!!!
It might seem like a small way to participate, but recycling your items properly helps the planet tremendously!
3.) Find an Earth Day event in your area!
Research your state and local area for organizations and events that are supporting Earth Day. Many places in my very own state are hosting local gatherings for all to join.
IN NEW JERSEY:
Atlantic County Utilities Authority - Earth Day Festival
Sunday, April 22, 2012
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The theme of the festival continues to be a “Sustainable Future”. Come join the celebration and enjoy a day full of non-stop family activities including: stage entertainment, interactive educational displays and activities, workshops, petting zoo, hayride tours of the Environmental Park to the top of the landfill and shuttled tours of the ACUA Wastewater, Wind and Solar Farm in Atlantic City. The festival even includes a 5K race at 9 am and 1 mile fun run beginning at 8:30 a.m.
These are just to name a few!
4.) Check under your sink!
Many people don’t realize that the everyday household cleaners are not environmentally friendly or healthy to breathe in. This website: http://www.epa.gov/dfe/pubs/projects/formulat/formpart.htm has a list of GREEN products for the home.
From EPA.GOV : When you use a cleaning product, it is released into the environment-inside your home and down the drain to the outdoors. Adults come in contact with cleaning products on a regular basis, as do children who are often the most exposed when they crawl on the floor. Some consumers may prefer cleaning products that, for example, are inherently safer or do not irritate sensitive skin. Others may prefer products that break down quickly and do not harm fish or are safer for use around family pets. The DFE logo is an easy way to know you are choosing a product that is as safe as possible for people and the environment.
5.) Swap your transportation!
Make a trip with your bicycle, or take a walk, instead of using your car. While it might not be realistic to walk to work, try exchanging a car ride for a walk or bike a few errands.
6.) Plant a Tree
While this is probably the MOST unoriginal one, planting a tree is probably the best. Every tree planted helps reduce greenhouse emissions, cleans air pollution, secures the soil around it to prevent erosion, and provides a home for a lot of biodiversity.
7.) Cook a meal dedicated to Earth Day!
Use locally produced veggies and meats. Not only are they healthier, they actually have less of an impact on the planet.
8.) Pick up litter around the neighborhood
Try to gather a few of your neighbors, or try to get the entire neighborhood, to walk around and pick up any trash on the ground. Anything around sewers and drainage basins should be picked up because it leads to water systems and oceans. Litter is unsafe for wildlife and the ecosystem as well, so you’ll be helping out tremendously.
9.) Read about the current issues on the planet
While most of us are probably familiar with the current issues impacting out planet, take the time and brush up on some new facts and information. Take the new things you’ve learned and share it with someone; your kids, significant other, neighbor… ANYONE! Information spreads like wildfire. The more people you share with the better.
10.) Take all of the things you’ve just read and continue to use them.
Earth Day is a day for awareness, but that awareness doesn’t have to become forgotten about on Monday morning. Everything above you can use, in some way, daily. You can share it, reblog it, post it to facebook and twitter, and make it apart of your everyday lifestyle.
By: Julianne Silletti @ Raytricity
I recently came across an article with a post about a solar powered generator. The first thing that popped into my head was Hurricane Irene last year. I remember the power in my house being out for a total of 3 days and only being able to run the refrigerator, our salt water fish tank, sump pump in the basement, and the microwave (occasionally). The gas run generator wasn’t big enough to power everything we needed and obviously we needed to run out and grab a few gallons of gas every 8 hours. So when I read about this SOLAR generator, I couldn’t help but think about WHAT IF WE HAD THAT? Most of the neighborhood I live in owns a generator so you can only imagine the awesome (sarcastic) buzzing the neighborhood had a night… and this was for 3 days straight!
Intrigued, I did a little research on this solar generator and came to find that Home Depot actually sells one. From what I understand (between customer reviews and such) they’re good for running a small amount of household things (televisions, lights, and small electronics) during short power outages.
Several of the reviews bashed the generator and said that the cost of it was already expensive enough - $1399 for the 1800watt system - and it didn’t even come with the batteries or necessary bolts needed to attach those batteries (some people suggested using marine or golf cart batteries which could run anywhere between $75 and $200 a piece).
While the generator isn’t meant to “live” off of. It’s something to consider for hurricane season or if your home is prone to power outages. Keeping the refrigerator running is pretty important and having the option of plugging in a light or two when the sun goes down could be beneficial also.
Gas or diesel run generators still are running, well, on gas and diesel. We obviously know the harmful effects of burning gasoline has on our planet. So by taking out your old generator and using something that’s 100% environmentally friendly, you would be reducing your own carbon footprint! Granted, generators tend to be used for power outages only, but I’m sure somewhere there is one being used on a daily basis.
The quicker we change our BAD habits and turn them into GOOD habits, the benefits will be noticed sooner. You don’t have to be an environmentalist or a tree hugger to change your impact on the environment. Small changes can ultimately become BIG ones.
Are Solar Powered Cars the Future?
By: Julianne Silletti
Every time you pull up to a gas pump to full your tank you’re probably cringing at the cost per gallon. With the prices of gas at an all-time high, people are jumping on the bandwagon of electric cars and hybrids. Having one of these cars can save you some money while reducing the harmful emissions produced from burning fuel. This is all good and well to invest in, but hybrids still run on gasoline at the end of the day and electric cars, for lack of a better explanation, use your electricity. You’re still spending money to use your car whether you like it or not. But what if there was another way to drive without harming the planet and can save you money in the process?
Solar power is the world’s number one source of renewable energy currently and it’s only going to become more popular as time goes on. Over 1 million homes and businesses in the United States have already gone solar, with many more in the process of joining them. If you research solar on the internet, you’ll find that there are many solar powered hand held objects; for instance there are solar powered flash lights, backpacks, cell phone charges, hand held lights, driveway lights, and even water bottles. So if we can invent ways to power our everyday objects and energy needs, then why haven’t we established a solar powered car? Many would think that just strapping a panel or two to the roof of a car would suffice. But it doesn’t work like that.
Retaining enough of the sun’s energy to power a full sized sedan is more difficult than you think. For one, it’s difficult to move such a heavy object by just using the sun. Cars need to much lighter in order for the idea to work effectively. There are several events each year where engineers and inventors race their very own solar powered vehicles. If you do you research, you’ll see that most of them are extremely small, usually fit one person, and resemble something out of a space movie. You might be thinking, “well we have Smart Cars, Mini Coopers, and Fiat’s popping up everywhere”, while that may be true, you have to also think about how many people are in your average American family today. According to the 2010 census, there’s an average of 2.59 people living in the average US home. If you take the idea of a solar powered car as it is right now, it wouldn’t be a working idea. The more people you put into a car the heavier it will be (duh).
Aside from the car not being able to drive with the current solar powered car technology, it’s pretty costly build. To reconfigure an entire car to drive 100% on solar would cost thousands to complete, maybe more. The car would need to be a totally different design than today’s cars; more aerodynamic to move freely, more roof space to utilize the maximum amount of solar panels, and weigh less to actually keep its efficiency.
But most importantly, solar panels need sunny days to function. What happens when it’s raining out or overcast? Would it keep you from driving to your destination? Solar generated on a sunny day would need to be stored in extra batteries inside of the car (also making the car heavier). Also, not everyone drives during the day. What would happen if you took your solar powered car out at night? That’s another technological glitch these solar car inventors are working on.
Don’t fret because solar powered cars will one day become a reality. The technology is constantly advancing into better, more productive ways every day. And although we can’t effectively use solar to power the entire car right now, we can use panels to power parts of the car; such as the air conditioner, radio, and even the headlights!
SOLAR POWER VERSUS WIND POWER
By: Julianne Silletti
Solar energy is one of the most talked about topics on renewable energy and the most popular today. For starters, the sun’s rays are a source of energy that is produced and delivered to us every day for free. If you look at how much energy is sent to earth by the sun in a given hour, you will most likely find this confusing equation on several websites: 1.4 x 10^31 Joules of solar energy, or 3.8 x 10^23 kilowatt-hours. Putting this into a more simplistic explanation, this really means that the sun produces enough energy in one hour to power the entire planet for an entire year! Now how’s that for productive? By taking this free source of energy and converting it into electricity (this process does not produce any pollution or release any emissions), you can reduce your carbon footprint and, in return, increase your energy self-sufficiency.
- But how do you go about retaining this free energy?
There are several ways for you to do this. First you must decide where you want to reduce your energy expenses from, and with that, there are many options. If you want to just save on the electricity you produce by heating your water, there’s a specific system for that. If you want to save on the electricity you produce from heating and cooling your home, there’s a system for that too. But the most popular system that is being used today is the photovoltaic system, which saves you money in all the places that you use electricity.
- What are the positive factors of using a PV system?
Aside from not producing any pollution, it saves you money every month on your electricity bill and, in most instances, can even eliminate the bill entirely. Because the government is seeing solar power as a productive and safe alternative to burning fossil fuels, many states in the US are offering credits and incentives when you put a PV system on your home or business. So free money for using free energy, what’s better than that?
But as we all know with every positive factor, there are negative factors as well. To put a PV system on your roof, the cost could be very high (even with financial incentives). How well the system performs relies on the location of the sun (typically your roof must be facing south for your panels to absorb as much of the sun’s rays as possible). So what happens when the sun goes down at night? This is why it is recommended that your home or business stays connected to the grid. During the day you will be using the sun’s energy, but at night you’ll still be dependent on the electric company, just not as much as before your PV installation.
- How do I know if solar energy is for me?
The only way to find out is to complete some research on your own and get a few quotes from different solar companies in your area. Find out what types of systems they’re offering and go through and see which one is best for you and your home or business.
Coming in second for largest renewable resources is wind energy, or wind power. It’s 100% green energy and does not pollute the environment with harmful fossil fuels. And, like solar, the wind is essentially unlimited and can help people become more self-sufficient. According to Discover Magazine’s blog, over 42% of new electricity generated in the United States in 2008 was solely produced from wind turbines! The motion of the wind (known as kinetic energy) produced over the entire planet can generate enough power to supply the world’s energy a few hundred times over.
- But what is wind power and how do we use it to our advantage?
Using creations like the wind turbine help us with this. Similar to the idea of a windmill, a wind turbine stands tall in the sky with their blades blowing with the wind (the higher the better). From the blades to the generator, this is how electricity is made.
Ranging in various sizes and shapes, wind turbines can be used like solar panels. The main difference is that you can’t use personal wind turbines to power your entire home. You can use them to power specific appliances, but that’s generally all the power home turbines can produce. It’s possible that if you had a large enough wind turbine and your home was in a less populated residential area, you would be able to produce a significant amount of energy to power your home. Wind turbines are meant to be used in groups, like on wind farms, to send the power produced back to the grid. This works in the same format as solar panels. When a surplus of energy is produced and sent back to the power grids, credits are created and deducted from electricity bills. That’s definitely a plus side to producing your own energy.
- What are the negatives associated with wind power?
The energy produced by the wind is often unpredictable and fluctuates every minute of every day which is why it is suggested that they be used in conjunction with other renewable energy sources. A few other downfalls include: the loud noises they produce, the aesthetics, and the damaging effects on animal habitat.
Solar and wind power are the top two renewable energy sources out there being used right now. They are in high competition with each other especially since they can produce enough power and energy to power many homes when combined in large numbers. Both offer government incentives, produce no emissions, and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time. So which is the smarter investment?
For more information on solar power and solar installations in New Jersey and the greater New Jersey area, please visit www.raytricity.com - Thank you!