April 2012


The Earth Awareness Fair was this last weekend and I should be reporting on that. But these two women were there, Clada Parker and Jenn Bormann. They are with Roselawn Memorial Park and Butler Funeral home respectively. I am going to do Roselawn today and Butler tomorrow. I just love these guys. They had a woven basket casket with an optional silk liner with them on Saturday. But they have so many options it is real exciting. This is their Facebook page and their website:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Roselawn-Memorial-Park/121946907815445

http://www.roselawninfo.com/

And here is a great little write up on them:

http://wakethememory.com/blog/category/cemeteries/

Are There Green Cemeteries in Illinois?

July 19th, 2010

I am happy to report that the answer is finally, YES!

 

The Green Burial Council in California recently approved Roselawn Memorial Park for green burials. You can now be buried in Illinois without a casket, without embalming, without anything but a shroud if you want.

 

I do not personally think that a green burial ground has to be approved by the Green Burial Council, but they have some strict standards that make sense, and their mission is great. In a previous life, I worked in the architectural world, and saw first-hand what it was like dealing with the logistics of becoming LEED certified, and know how hard it can be. Additionally, it is very expensive to become “Certified Organic”. I think it’s worthwhile to recognize any cemetery or burial product willing to become more natural, and I will support any company that tries to be better.

 

Here is their information. They do not seem to have a working website yet. I will keep you posted and update after I contact them directly.

 

Roselawn Memorial Park – Hybrid Cemetery
924 South 6th Street
Springfield IL 62703
217/525.1661

 

Posted in Cemeteries, Green Burials, Green Funeral and Life Celebrations | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

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Go there and read. More tomorrow.

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I mean really, a whole organization dedicated to the safe cultivation of lawns? But it is true.

http://www.safelawns.org/blog/

PBS Program to Showcase Glenstone’s Organic Lawn

The natural lawn care movement in the United States will get a major boost in August when Growing A Greener World, hosted by Joe Lamp’l, showcases the organic lawn renovation at Glenstone, the modern art museum in Potomac, Md. The episode, estimated to be watched by nearly a million people nationwide in its first run, is scheduled to be aired in late August.

SafeLawns was on-hand, both to observe and to participate in the segment. We have been the lead consultants on the project since its inception in July of 2010 and the Growing a Greener World team is the first film crew to be allowed on the 160-acre Glenstone property, which has not had any synthetic chemicals used on its grounds since our arrival.

The two-day shooting session began in dreary, cold and wet conditions on Monday that ultimately led the crew indoors to the College Park laboratory of Dr. Mark Carroll and Dr. Thomas Turner, the two University of Maryland scientists who are working on an organic lawn research project with SafeLawns and Glenstone. The following day in Potomac, however, temperatures were in the 60s under brilliant blue skies.

“When you look at this place, the only thing you can say is ‘Wow,’” said Lamp’l, who is in his third season with this show.

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Good there and read. More tomorrow.

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Technically they are called Reel Lawn Mowers. They are not easy to use. They push tough and you have to cut your grass alot because they do not handle high grass at all. For example our mower deck is set at 4 inches, so we cut grass at 6 inches. No way you can do that with a push mower. If you like short grass and you have a small yard, they are perfect. This article takes its own sweet time getting to the point.

http://environment.about.com/od/pollution/a/lawnmowers.htm

Mowing the Grass is Greener When You Don’t Use a Gas-Powered Mower

Lawn Mowers May Account for Five Percent of U.S. Air Pollution, EPA Says

From

Dear EarthTalk: I’ve heard that gas-powered lawn mowers, despite their small engine size, actually pollute as much as cars. If this is true, is there a greener way to cut my grass?
Jon Haufe, Seattle, WA

Reports about those noxious fumes emitted from gasoline lawn mowers are indeed true. A Swedish study conducted in 2001 concluded, “Air pollution from cutting grass for an hour with a gasoline powered lawn mower is about the same as that from a 100-mile automobile ride.” Meanwhile, the 54 million Americans mowing their lawns each weekend with gas-powered mowers may be contributing as much as five percent of the nation’s air pollution, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Small Engines Lead to Big Pollution Problems
The problem is that small engines emit disproportionately large amounts of carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides that contribute to smog. The human health effects of smog-laden air are well known, and include inflammation and damage to lungs, increased risk of asthma attacks, and lowered levels of oxygen in the bloodstream, which can aggravate heart conditions.

New Standards Expected to Reduce Mower Emissions
Fortunately, the EPA is now phasing in new emissions standards for gas mower engines that will result in a 32 percent smog reduction for all models made starting in 2007. And with even more stringent standards slated to go into effect soon in California, environmental leaders are hoping that the old adage for automobile trends (“as goes California, so goes the nation”) will soon apply to lawn mowers too.

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Go there and read. More tomorrow.

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In fact, some are so radical as to imply that our yards should be filled with food plants and locally indigenous plants. I personally believe that is food overkill but at least there would be no hunger in America. Here is more on lawns if you like them.

http://www.organiclawncare101.com/

The Grass is Greener … and Safer!

Lawns may have been invented in Europe, but they’ve reached their apotheosis in North America. For those in the U.S. of A, that green, green grass ranks right up there with apple pie, backyard barbecues and softball. For Canadians it’s proof of place, both a responsibility and a privilege, like wearing decent clothes when you leave the house. Keep your teeth clean and your grass green. In the lower 48 states and much of southern Canada, grass is practically an obsession.

The problem with the perfect lawn is that it wreaks havoc on both your wallet and the environment. Between 30 and 40 million acres of land in the U.S. are devoted to turfgrass (see Curbing the Lawn), and Americans collectively spend big bucks — about $40 billion annually — on seed, sod and chemicals. In Canada, which has around one tenth the population of the U.S., sales from all lawn and garden products have risen steadily over the past five years, to over $2 billion by 2007. Click on “Canadian lawns and gardens: Where are they the ‘greenest’?” for more on this.

Much of that money goes to products that “help” grass only in the most superficial ways and that degrade the soil, pollute any water they reach, and pose serious health threats to humans, their pets, and any wildlife in the area, including birds. As people become aware of these facts, attitudes towards conventional fertilizers and pesticides are beginning to change. In Canada, over 130 communities and two entire provinces have passed laws severely restricting pesticide use, so homeowners and city park services are going organic perforce. In the U.S., where municipalities in many states lack the power to pass such comprehensive laws, a number of cities and towns have restricted the use of pesticides on school grounds or in parks. Furthermore, while many pesticides remain legal in the States, more and more people are becoming aware of the strain that they place on the eco-system. All across North America, people are not only considering going green, but whether the perfect lawn is worth the long-term environmental price we’re paying for it.

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Go there and read. More tomorrow.

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I know lawn mowing seems trivial in some respects, but for this blog it is purposeful behavior. Behavior that can be modified. Mowers do not start themselves nor do they drive around by themselves. So for millions of us every time you start a mower think about it. Do you really need to do this and is this mower the right one for the job?

http://www.peoplepoweredmachines.com/faq-environment.htm

Cleaner Air : Gas Mower Pollution Facts

Push Mower Comparison Chart

EPA Statistics: Gas Mowers represent 5% of U.S. Air Pollution

Each weekend, about 54 million Americans mow their lawns, using 800 million gallons of gas per year and producing tons of air pollutants. Garden equipment engines, which have had unregulated emissions until the late 1990’s, emit high levels of carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides, producing up to 5% of the nation’s air pollution and a good deal more in metropolitan areas.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a new gas powered lawn mower produces volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides emissions air pollution in in in one hour of operation as 11 new cars each being driven for one hour.

Gardeners Spill More than the Exxon Valdez

And speaking of gas, the EPA estimates that over 17 million gallons of fuel, mostly gasoline, are spilled each year while refueling lawn equipment. That’s more than all the oil spilled by the Exxon Valdez, in the Gulf of Alaska. In addition to groundwater contamination, spilled fuel that evaporates into the air and volatile organic compounds spit out by small engines make smog-forming ozone when cooked by heat and sunlight.

Calculate Your Gas Mower’s Emissions

Until 1995, lawnmower emissions were unregulated. Older more powerful, less efficient two-cycle engines release 25-30% of their oil and gas unburned into the air. Gas mowers emit hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen (the principle ingredients of smog), particulate matter (damaging to the respiratory system), carbon monoxide (a poisonous gas) and carbon dioxide (contributing to global warming). The health toll includes cancer as well as damage to lungs, heart, and both the immune and detoxification systems. Plus smog inhibits plant growth. Lawnmowers are currently subject to EPA’s Phase 2 regulations. These requirements have reduced volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides emissions by over 70 percent from unregulated levels. EPA’s Phase 3 regulations take effect in 2012 for lawnmowers and will result in additional reductions in these pollutants.

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Go there and read. More tomorrow.

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We have over the past 3 or 4 years talked about getting animals to trim our grass. We live in the city, it is true but we have only talked about getting 2 animals. We think the village will be OK with it. So far we have talked about alpacas, goats and sheep. Now being small town kids, we assumed that they would roam the yard eating the grass and we would have a level and fertilized yard for free. But that is massively wrong. They require special feeds as supplements, they all require hoof care and must have a vet, and they can not tolerate the Illinois winters, so they have to be sheltered. The long and the short of it is that if you sell their hair to people who use it to make things (you do have to shear them for summer) then you can get close to break even but with only 2 animals it would be tough. So mow we shall for now.

Natural Lawn Care

Lawns do more than make your yard look good.

Lawns absorb water, which helps reduce storm runoff and improve water quality. Lawns also have a significant cooling effect, provide oxygen, trap dust and dirt, promote healthful micro-organisms, prevent erosion and filter rainwater contaminants.

Lawn care, however, has come at a high cost to the environment. According to the U.S. National Wildlife Federation:
  • 30% of water used on the East Coast goes to watering lawns; 60% on the West Coast.
  • 18% of municipal solid waste is composed of yard waste.
  • The average suburban lawn received 10 times as much chemical pesticide per acre as farmland.
  • Over 70 million tons of fertilizers and pesticides are applied to residential lawns and gardens annually. (Read Healthy lawns, healthy lungs)
  • Per hour of operation, a gas lawn mower emits 10-12 times as much hydrocarbon as a typical auto. A weedeater emits 21 times more and a leaf blower 34 times more.

Where pesticides are used, 60 – 90% of earthworms are killed. Earthworms are important for soil health.

Much of the environmental cost associated with lawn care can be avoided.
Healthy Lawn Basics   

The only way to reduce a dependence on chemical fertilizers is to develop a healthy lawn, which is naturally resistant to weeds, insects and diseases. If you need to fertilize your lawn more than once a year, consider these ways of improving the natural health of your lawn:

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Go there and read more then I frankly could. More tomorrow.

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Might as well end the week with a kick off for the next. Earth Day is Sunday, but Springfield can’t seem to get its act together on the actual day. But at least people celebrate it. Happy weekend everyone.

http://digg.com/newsbar/topnews/10_things_we_ve_learned_about_the_earth_since_last_earth_day

April 19, 2012

10 Things We’ve Learned About the Earth Since Last Earth Day

Sunday is the 42nd celebration of Earth Day, which was started in 1970 by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson to help educate people about environmental issues and demonstrate public support for a conservationist agenda. With that in mind, we decided it was the right time to recap the most surprising, awe-inspiring and alarming things that we have learned about the Earth and the environment since last year’s holiday:

1. Undiscovered species are still out there: Countless discoveries over the past year reminded us that, despite centuries of research, the planet still has plenty of surprise species in store. Among the many finds include seven new forest mice species in the Philippines, a “psychedelic” gecko in Vietnam and a new type of dolphin in AustraliaA new analysis released last August, billed as the most accurate ever, estimated that a total of 8.7 million different species of life exist on earth.

2. Global warming is already driving up food prices: While many fear that climate change will someday reduce crop yields and cause food prices to rise, a study published last May in Science indicates that this troubling trend has already gotten started. The models used suggest that reduced global yields of wheat and corn are related to global warming. Although the effects are relatively small so far, they may cause severe problems in the future, as climate patterns continue to change and food demand increases.

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Go there and read. More next week.

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As my great Grandfather used to say, this guy is so full of pig manure it’s running out of his ears. But then he was a hog farmer.

http://www.irishcentral.com/story/news/from-the-right/governments-war-on-coal-is-a-war-of-regulations-against-americas-way-of-life-148006215.html

Governments “war on coal” is a war of regulations against Americas way of life

Posted on Wednesday, April 18, 2012 at 04:21 PM

From the Right

by Ed Farnan

The new EPA rulings will finally bring to fruition President Obama’s promise his policies will necessarily bankrupt the coal industry.

Four years ago, then-candidate Barack Obama explained his anti-coal energy policy in an editorial board meeting with the San Francisco Chronicle: “Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. Even regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad.”  “So if somebody wants to build a coal plant, they can – it’s just that it will bankrupt them.”

But the 2010 elections saw a landslide defeat of those politicians in the house and senate who supported skyrocketing our utility rates through cap and trade and put an end to President Obama’s aspirations in a new energy tax.

But that didn’t put an end of efforts to kill the coal industry and the day after the landslide defeats of the 2010 elections, President Obama said  “Cap-and-trade was just one way of skinning the cat; it was not the only way. It was a means, not an end. I’m going to be looking for other means to address this problem.”

After that the EPA began to enact regulation by bureaucratic fiat rather than the legislative process.

Even staunch supporters in the labor unions are beginning to wake up to the fact that they are being regulated out of a job if the Obama administration has its way.  The Keystone Pipeline rejection already has hit the labor unions hard by halting the creation of 20K plus jobs in the construction industry.

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Regrettably I must say, go there and read. More tomorrow.

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This is an old piece but it is still as true today as it was then. Air conditioning and by that I mean cooling air when it is hot is very expensive both financially and with regards to energy consumption.

http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/buildings-without-air-conditioners-the-latest-in-energy-efficiency-5413/

Buildings Without Air Conditioners: The Latest in Energy Efficiency

Air conditioners consume an inordinate amount of power in the U.S. and they aren’t very efficiently used. To save energy, some say leave them out.

Michael Kanellos: December 22, 2008

Sometimes the most efficient air conditioning system is not having one at all.

To curb energy consumption, architects with projects in temperate cities – Seattle, Portland, San Francisco – have started to design buildings without mechanical air conditioners. These buildings will have heaters in all likelihood, but not air conditioning (see Can Greentech Make Housing Cheaper and Green Buildings No Subsidies Needed).

“There are only five days a year you need cooling in Seattle,” said Amanda Sturgeon, an architect and senior associate at the firm Perkins + Will, who recently designed a building without a mechanical conditioner.

In some cases, architects are putting in air-side economizers, i.e., computer-controlled windows that open to let in cooling breezes (see The Solar Window). The General Services Administration building in San Francisco uses openable windows on 12 of its 18 floors that let in cool breezes at night that, ideally, keep the offices cool in the daytime.  There is no mechanical cooling in the open office areas.

This shift comes courtesy of two trends. One, building developers and contractors have latched onto green buildings as an economic opportunity. Designing a building to LEED Silver or Gold standards – the environmental building standards promulgated by the U.S. Green Building Council – only adds around 2 percent to the overall cost or less, according to various contractors, architects and researchers. Designing to the LEED Platinum standard can add only 6 percent if carefully planned. The trick, say Sturgeon and others, is to exploit as many passive, design-centric techniques for scoring LEED points before moving on to the potentially more expensive, equipment-centric ones like biomass boilers or new types of lighting systems.

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Go here and read. More tomorrow.

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Back in the 1990s I was working with a group that was trying to “buy back” the  utility that services New Orleans because it was so badly run. Now look at them.

http://www.nola.com/business/index.ssf/2012/03/entergy_new_orleans_to_highlig.html

Entergy New Orleans to highlight energy-efficiency techniques at Home and Garden Show

Published: Friday, March 02, 2012, 9:51 AM     Updated: Friday, March 02, 2012, 9:54 AM

Richard Thompson, The Times-Picayune By Richard Thompson, The Times-Picayune

Entergy New Orleans representatives will be on hand to demonstrate new interactive online tools for maximizing savings from improving a home’s energy-efficiency and to provide info about Energy Smart incentives and rebates this weekend at the 57th annual New Orleans Home and Garden Show.

The show, billed as the largest consumer home show in the region, highlights recent advances in energy-efficient technologies and products for home remodeling, green building, decorating and landscaping. It starts today and runs through Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

At the Entergy New Orleans booth (# 600-601), utility officials will discuss tips and incentives aimed at giving customers the opportunity to save money on power bills.

There will also be a game show in which contestants can answer questions about energy efficiency to win gift cards for new Energy Star appliances, courtesy of Entergy New Orleans. For the second straight year, the game show is slated to be hosted by HGTV’s Jim Parks.

In addition, Entergy lineman will demonstrate on Saturday and Sunday the danger of getting too close to live electrical lines, and explain and demonstrate safety equipment used when working on power lines.

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Go there and read. More tomorrow.

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