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Environmental Challenges
and the Power of Women

By Redwood Mary


Tapping the Bounty of the Sun … it is Free Energy!
Charge your ipod, PDA's, MP3 players and cell phone using Solar Energy!

OK – It is a fact! We Women are the primary decision makers on energy and we want the country to move towards cleaner energy sources. Check this out! Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research firm's (© 2009) Women’s Survey on Energy & the Environment study reveals that:

  • 77 % of women take primary or equal responsibility for paying their electricity bills, including 9 in 10 (91%) of unmarried women and 7-in-10 (70 %) of married women
  • 91 % of women take dominant or equal responsibility for using less electricity at home
  • 97% of women have taken steps to use less electricity at home
  • 70 % of women are very or somewhat worried about the effects of air pollution on their own and their children’s health
  • 89% of women business owners think solar energy should play a very or somewhat important role in addressing our country’s electricity needs
  • 87% support federal tax incentives for companies to become more energy efficient and use more clean energy.

This Women’s Survey on Energy & the Environment commissioned by Women Impacting Public Policy notes that the women surveyed have already made their businesses more environmentally responsible. This is the first-of-its-kind survey of 455 women business owners in the U.S. For more info on the study go to:
http://www.wipp.org/resource/resmgr/Energy_Task_Force/Fact_Sheet_-_WIPP_WCEE_Surve.pdf

Did you know that most of our commercial energy (energy for sale) is made from mineral resources found in the earth's crust as in coal and the burning of fossil fuels as in natural gas and oil.?

Nuclear power produces only about 2 % --at most -- of the energy we use. It is expensive to produce and it is dangerous to transport and store radioactive wastes that last for thousand of years. Yuck!

There is a lot of talk and research going on about biofuels. Biofuels have their origins in plant matter that is burned or converted into a liquid or gas (about 5%-6% in the U.S.). Biofuels as an energy source also has problems. Biofuels take a lot of energy to produce and transport. It takes a great deal of land to produce biomass. Some forms of biomass turned into fuel include ethanol which is made by fermenting sugarcane or corn and produces large volumes of swill (waste material). Methanol, another alcohol, that can be made from wood, agricultural waste (plant stalks or corn cobs, etc.), sewage sludge, garbage and even coal is claimed to be a cancer causing carcinogen. All these fuels do release emission into the air.

OK—so what are we to do?

In celebrating the recent summer solstice here in the Northern Hemisphere, we are reminded about the sun's amazing FREE untapped energy –a resource that does not run out. The technology is well developed and available. But what does our U.S. Government subsidize? The government-- with our taxpayer dollars-- subsidizes the use of dirty Coal, Oil, Gas, Nuclear and Biofuels—all these are energy sources that have impact on the environment as in disturbance or destruction and pollution of land and the atmosphere and ecosystems. Not good! Hello! Time to add Solar!

How can we switch? First of all we have to rethink our ways! If we think how we can change even a portion of our daily actions, we will shift from our patterns of being a wasteful throw away society to really make a difference for Mother Earth! Recycling alone just won't do it. Remember it takes a great deal of energy use to recycle. In our throwaway fast food society we need to remember that every plastic container we use is made from oil!! We Americans use more packaging per person then Europeans.

Now back to the energy option of solar. It can be done! I just received an email on a list serve that I belong to announcing the development of flexible solar panels that could be installed on roofs like shingles. Check it out! Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland have developed flexible solar panels that could be installed on roofs like shingles. This technology was originally used to protect flat panel televisions from dampness. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is a Department of Energy Office of Science national laboratory where interdisciplinary teams advance science and technology and deliver solutions to America's most intractable problems in energy, national security and the environment. http://www.pnl.gov/news/release.asp?id=376

Solar Energy programs for home and apartment building rooftops are now popping up all over the country! Not yet in your town? Organize and ask to make it happen! For Examples:

Berkeley FIRST is a solar financing program operating in the City of Berkeley, California.
http://www.cityofberkeley.info/ContentDisplay.aspx?id=26580

Santa Monica, California has designed the Solar Santa Monica program to make it easier for homeowners and local businesses to improve the efficiency of their buildings and install solar energy systems.
http://www.solarsantamonica.com/

New York State has the Local Option - Solar, Wind & Biomass Energy Systems Exemption
http://www.orps.state.ny.us/assessor/manuals/vol4/part1/section4.01/sec487.htm

Obama Administration Awards More than $204 Million for State Energy Programs in 10 States http://www.energy.gov/news2009/7491.htm

Now many of us don't own houses. Some of us are renters, yet we all can start somewhere. Get this! We can now get solar powered attic fans, outdoor fountains, radios and flashlights. We can even charge our iPods, PDA's ,MP3 players and cell phones by solar energy even on cloudy days.

Real Goods located here in California has been around since 1978 and is one of the early pioneers in renewable energy products to help us reduce our energy consumption. Using solar panels and wind turbines to complete solar power systems Real Good's can show us how. Check out Real Good's website! http://www.realgoods.com

More go solar ideas:

  • Do you have a yard? You can put up an outdoor clothes line or clothes umbrellas and let the sun dry your clothes or use indoor clothes drying racks.

  • Remember to close drapes and blinds on sunny days when you are not home and open them to let the cool night air in.

  • Like to garden? Go natural with local native plants that are drought tolerant or adapted to your local area. They need less water!

  • If you have to replace worn-out appliances replace them with Energy Star appliances. For more information go to: http://www.energystar.gov/

I reuse empty jars and turn them into reusable food containers – there is no plastic out gassing into my food! I was also able to find a local grocery store where I can buy bulk honey and olive oil. I just bring along my clean jars and fill them up.

Now here is a trick based on what I observed from my grandmother when she was alive. Use unbleached waxed paper to wrap your vegetables and then use newspaper (most are recycled paper with soy ink) to wrap as a protective layer! This works great for cut open onions, heads of lettuce, etc., and even for wrapping a sandwich or home baked all natural organic ingredients banana bread or pie (Yum! Yum!) to take to work or on a picnic. It is amazing how this keeps moisture in. Just Google natural unbleached wax paper and ask your grocery stores to carry it!

Be part of the movement of women saving energy and creating a healthier community!

Take the lead!


***


By Redwood Mary. Redwood Mary has been working from the local grassroots to the United Nations for over 15+ years and is a NGO delegate to the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Redwood Mary's writings have appeared in Tree Magic, Satya Magazine, UN Commission on Human Settlements – HABITAT Debate, Bay Area Business Women, Awakened Woman E-Magazine, Berkeley Daily Planet, San Francisco Chronicle, etc. She holds a degree in public policy from Mills College Oakland California, a Certificate in Non-Profit Management from California State University, East Bay and has studied environmental sciences at College of the Redwoods (Ft. Bragg CA) and fine arts at San Francisco Art Institute and Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School for the Arts. You can reach Redwood Mary at redwoodmary (a) gmail.com.

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