24 September 2010

Carbon Footprint Calculator - What's My Carbon Footprint ?

A preliminary step to reducing is knowing how much you are currently using (or with regard to carbon emissions, producing). Carbon footprint calculators estimate how much carbon your life produces and sends into the atmosphere per year.

The Nature Conservancy provides one such carbon calculator: Carbon Footprint Calculator - What's My Carbon Footprint ? By using it, you will get an idea of what kinds of activities contribute to carbon emissions, how much each activity adds, what your overall footprint is, and how you might reduce it. Along with providing this information, the carbon calculator gives you a baseline from which to start whittling away at your footprint. Because it gives me something to shoot for, I find knowing my footprint to be energizing and inspiring. As the footprint decreases because of lifestyle changes I make, I feel empowered to address global warming.

19 September 2010

The Environmental Ballot

When I first changed the focus of this blog to environmental issues, I said I wanted to emphasize giving people the chance to act in environmentally friendly ways regardless of what their elected officials did. The focus would be on everyday activities, not on political involvement.

However, the political process has important environmental ramifications, and those of us who would like to see society improve its relationship with the environment often want to know which candidates will be environmentally friendly. Figuring this out isn't always easy given that many candidates throw around the word green and it is not always obvious whether a certain policy or legislative vote really helps the environment.

As election time approaches, if you are looking for an information source that helps you translate your desire for a better environment into votes, check out the following resources. The League of Conservation Voters provides a scorecard that lets you see how current US senators and representatives stack up on environmental issues. You can view the scorecard here. The LCV also offers endorsements of candidates that have been environmental champions. Check in on the endorsements here. In the past, the LCV has both endorsed Republicans (for example, Senator Susan Collins of Maine) and put Democrats (Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas) on its Dirty Dozen, which is a list of lawmakers that have consistently supported environmentally harmful legislation. However, since Republicans in general have not made environmental protections part of their platform, it makes sense that the LCV backs few of them.

For voters in Washington state, the LCV's state affiliate, Washington Conservation Voters, also offers a scorecard and endorsements. By doing so, the WCV gives Washington voters an extra layer of political insight. You can use it to evaluate candidates for the state legislature, governor, the state supreme court, and the US Senate as well as proposed statewide initiatives and referenda.

Having environmentally friendly policy and policy makers makes it easier to live greener lives, so if you are wondering how candidates rate with regard to the environment, check out these resources.

17 September 2010

Wild Child

For those of you who have young children or know someone with young children, you might be interested to know that in the first week of October, PBS will begin airing a new show called Wild Animal Baby Explorers.

The show is based on the National Wildlife Federation's magazine, Wild Animal Baby. Using a mix of animation and real-life footage, the show introduces children to the animal world. Consider it Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom for preschoolers.

Check your local PBS station's schedule for airtimes.

10 September 2010

Web of Green Goodness

In a previous post, I talked about using wise-giving standards to choose a charity. If that entry helped you find a charity or if you already had a favorite charity, you might be interested in a way of harnessing the Web to produce more money for your charity of choice.

GoodSearch (http://www.goodsearch.com/) is a search engine that allows you to turn your online searches and shopping into donations for your charity at no cost to you. All you have to do is verify that GoodSearch has the charity in its databank. Then, when you use GoodSearch to conduct Internet searches, the search engine donates to that charity. You can also use GoodSearch's GoodShop function to earn money for the charity while making online purchases. Many online vendors, including Amazon, iTunes, Overstock, and Barnes and Noble participate, so just start your shopping at GoodSearch. You will find a link to the vendor you want to use, and after you click that, you will be able to support your charity as you shop without paying extra. 

The charities GoodSearch benefits include numerous environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, The Nature Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife, and the National Wildlife Federation. Additionally, many local environmental groups have signed up for GoodSearch as well, so chances are pretty good that those of you who want to use the service to support a favorite environmental cause will be able to do so.