March 19, 2009

Teaching Green Kids (updated 9-11-09)

Tips for Parents
Native Americans believed that “We don’t inherit the Earth from our parents; we borrow it from our children.” However, parents are the ones who teach their children best by example—and not only when their kids are young.

Green lifestyle habits that eco-parents can enforce at home include:
  • Encourage reuse of supplies rather than buying new. Do you really need to buy new notebooks, pencils, crayons, etc. each new school year?
  • Teach wise use of paper and buy recycled paper when possible. Use the back of paper when possible—especially for note taking.
  • Use a chalkboard or whiteboard at home for daily “To Do” lists.

  • Pre-cycle by buying products in the least amount of packaging. Teach the math concept of volume by computing how much air was inside your latest purchases—especially anything you bought online.
  • Beware of "biodegradable" products. Most claims that certain plastic products are "biodegradable" are misleading. The truth is that "degradable" plastics don't degrade in modern landfills and, at best, merely break up into smaller pieces that can release toxic substances.

  • Encourage green-thumbed kids to plan “mini-gardens.”

Great Educational Eco-Websites for Children (Please suggest more under “comments” below.)

Turn off your lights on March 28 at 8:30 p.m. local time: http://www.earthhourkids.org/

EEKO World from PBS: http://pbskids.org/eekoworld/

Meet the GREENS: http://www.meetthegreens.org/

Kids’ Planet: http://www.kidsplanet.org/

A Walk in the Woods: http://urbanext.illinois.edu/woods/

Nab the Aquatic Invader: http://www.sgnis.org/kids/index.html

Arthur's Tree House & Green Challenge: http://pbskids.org/arthur/thetreehouse/gogreen/index.html


Teacher/Parent Websites:

Sierra Club’s Tomorrow’s Planet newsletter for children: http://www.sierraclub.org/education/newsletter/

Cornell’s garden-based learning site: www.hort.cornell.edu/gbl/index.html

A plethora of children’s environmental websites: http://www.eartheasy.com/blog/2009/03/environmental-websites-for-kids/

Some great projects that you can do with your students and children:http://www.edutopia.org/environmentally-conscious-lesson-ideas

Enviro-Mom blog: http://www.enviromom.com/
Waste Management's teacher resources (by grade level and topic): http://www.thinkgreen.com/teachers

March 3, 2009

Energy Hogs?

Yes, we Virginians are some of the biggest “electricity hogs.” Virginia ranks 27th in total energy consumption per capita.

We use more power because it’s 20 percent cheaper here than the national average because we rely heavily on coal-fired power plants. The power companies are the winners here and our air quality is the loser.

Where does power in Virginia come from?
  • Virginia has only minor coal reserves (mined from surface and underground mines), nearly all of which are in the Central Appalachian Basin in the southwestern part of the state--only about 5 percent of U.S. coal production east of the Mississippi River. Virginia coal is shipped to about one-half of the continental United States, primarily to Georgia and Tennessee. Virginia receives large coal shipments from Kentucky and West Virginia. Most coal consumed in Virginia is used by coal-fired power plants to generate about half of Virginia's electricity. More than two-fifths of households in Virginia use electricity as their primary energy source for home heating.
  • Virginia’s only petroleum refinery, in Yorktown, processes foreign crude oil delivered by barge via the Chesapeake Bay.

  • Virginia has just two nuclear power plants (in Surry and North Anna) that provide about one-third of the electricity generated within the state. Of the 31 States with nuclear capacity, Virginia ranks 14th.

  • Virginia’s natural gas production is minor but enough to supply a substantial share of state demand. Virginia produces both conventional natural gas and coalbed methane in the Central Appalachian Basin in the State’s western panhandle. Most of Virginia’s natural gas production comes from coalbed methane fields, two of which are among the 100 largest natural gas fields in the United States. As with most States on the East Coast, most of Virginia’s natural gas supply comes from the Gulf Coast region via several major interstate natural gas pipelines. About one-third of households in Virginia use natural gas as their primary energy source for home heating.
What Can YOU Do? A recent Rocky Mountain Institute study states that energy efficicency alone could cut U.S. energy consumption by 30 percent—eliminating the need for more than 60 percent of dirty-coal-generated electricity. Simple steps you can take are turning off lights when you leave a room, turning down your water heater (closer to "warm" than "hot"), and adjusting the thermostat just a few degrees warmer in summer or cooler in winter.

According to Deep Green Living: "for every degree you raise or lower the thermostat for 8 hours, you'll save one percent on your heating or cooling bill."