Author Archives: Project Green Challenge

About Project Green Challenge

Project Green Challenge is a powerful, diverse, and far-reaching movement inspiring young people to take action and protect our planet. This October, Teens Turning Green is energizing high school and college students across the country to participate in Project Green Challenge, a 30-day green lifestyle initiative. The Challenge will raise awareness about conscious living, informed consumption and the collective impact of each of our actions. With the guidance of eco experts, industry leaders and the PGC Guide to Living Green, participants will discover how fun, easy and effective eco living can be.

Grants for your School Garden

Standard

Looking for a way to give back to your community?  Why not apply for a grant to help your school grow a garden!  Here are some GREAT resources:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Blogger: Julia

Standard

Want to get featured as our next guest blogger?  Head over to Project Green Challenge and join the fun!

JULIA: George Walton Comprehensive High School. Marietta, Georgia

My school uses green heritage toilet paper, which is made from 100% recovered paper fiber and 20% post-consumer materials. It meets the “Green Seal environmental standard for bleaching  and packaging.  I was unsure about a couple of things, so first I researched the Green Seal. To be certified as a Green Seal product, green heritage bathroom tissue has to be between 8 and 22 lbs. per ream, has to meet dry and wet strength standards (I would explain them but the units are really weird, like gf/in. what is that??). Additionally, the tissue has to have 2-24% stretch and there are no water absorbency requirements or standards. The tissue has to have a minimum of 36 ft2 per roll if single-ply, and if double-ply, it must have 18 ft2 per roll. Those are just the basics. Now onto sustainability standards. The product must be made from 100% recovered material OR two other options, but this product meets the first so let’s move on. Next, the product has to have 25% post-consumer materials.. WAIT. The package says 20%! Why is this? I just realized. The package says it meets requirement for the Green Seal environmental standard FOR BLEACHING, DE-INKING, AND PACKAGING. There are no added inks, dyes, or fragrances. Unless I want to dissect the entire specification checklist, I’m not going to go find the standards for bleaching, deinking, and packaging. Another great thing about this toilet paper is that it’s made in the USA, using less energy and putting the money back into our economy! But what I really want to know is… what is, “recovered paper fiber?” I looked it up, and, basically, it’s any and all unused or recycled paper products. This can be postconsumer OR leftovers from production line cutting, hole-punching, anything that requires trimming of the excess. The paper scraps and pieces are reused as recovered paper fiber.

 

We don’t have paper towels at my school—just hand dryers. But how much better are these than paper towels, especially if we had post-consumer material towels? I looked up some information about “World Dryer,” the brand of dryers my school uses. They are a typical hand dryer company, with different models and specifications. Our hand dryers are classified as “the most durable and popular;” however, are these energy-efficient? Doubtful. They hardly dry our hands at all. The company DOES have more eco-friendly dryers that can even help buildings acquire LEED certified status, but those models will not be found in my school. I’m not sure if these dryers are better or not—I would have to look up financial records and all that and I am definitely not in the position to do that SO for now we will assume that my school is making the environmentally conscious decision to conserve paper!

After being somewhat encouraged by my school’s decisions in toilet paper and paper towel reduction, I discovered the paper.

Oh, the tortured paper. It’s been bleached and suffocated past point of recognition. Look at your colors! Your unnatural dyes! I feel sorry for you, Fascopy and Boise paper. You’ve been through a lot. I only found ONE type of decent label on this paper: Acid-free. Even then, there was no third-party certification! Who knows, is this legitimately acid-free or are you just greenwashing us, Boise? The cabinet full of paper killed me a little on the inside. How much paper the school has already purchased—how many trees have suffered for the cause. Well, time to write a letter!

Dear Ms. Mallanda,

My name is Julia and I am a senior here at Walton High School. I’ve been here since the first day of freshman year and I’ve really grown attached to the school and all of the opportunities it has given me. I am an active student, participating in multiple extracurricular activities, such as Fresh Living Club (a club I created), National Honors Society, Beta Club, and Student government to name a few. I’ve spent the last three years experiencing and taking note of the way things work here, and I’ve decided that I would like to suggest a change. First off, I’m not sure if the topic of this letter falls under your responsibilities, but I needed someone to contact and the school website says that you are the administrator designated for 12th grade students. Anyway, here I go. There seems to be an endless cycle of copying and printing and discarding at WHS. We have recycle bins in every classroom, but how much that CAN be recycled is actually recycled? And is recycling the very best process we can support that concerns paper usage? The answer is no. There is a reason that ‘reduce’ and ‘reuse’ come before ‘recycle’ in the triple ‘r’ mantra. One of the key beliefs of WHS is, “the commitment to continuous improvement is imperative for the school to enable students to become competent self-directed, lifelong learners.” This quote comes directly from the school’s extended mission statement. If the school itself doesn’t actively improve its processes and functions, how can it expect students to do the same in regards to their schoolwork? I’ve been participating in the Project Green Challenge for the past 10 days. This challenge was created by the organization called Teens Turning Green, which encourages students to make a difference in their communities by setting the example of an eco-friendly, or “green” lifestyle. In fact, I am the campus representative for Walton High School. We have different challenges every day for the entire month of October. Each challenge focuses on a different theme, and today’s focus was paper. As I walked around the school documenting paper product usage, I was pleasantly surprised that the toilet paper we use is made from 100% recovered paper fiber, and 20% of that is post-consumer recycled content. Additionally, we have greatly reduced our dependence on paper towels through the use of hand dryers in the bathrooms. Sadly, my positive outlook was quickly shattered when I discovered the copy paper. How is it that none of the copy paper of Walton High School, a so-called “green school” carries any environmentally sustainable certification? Let me briefly introduce you to the advantages of using 100% post-consumer recyclable material instead of the wasteful paper products that we currently use: post-consumer material paper products save 24 trees per ton of paper used, save about 8,750 gallons of wastewater from entering our water sources, and save 1, 124 lbs. of waste from entering our already overflowing landfills1. Considering that paper already takes up about 25% of landfill space, I’d say that we have a paper use problem that needs to be addressed. In one of my classes, we receive packet after packet of paper that we could easily access online and take notes on with our own paper, instead of wasting energy printing out page after page of ink and virgin material. By switching to eco-friendly alternatives to the paper we currently use, we would not only be affecting the environment in a positive way, but we would be setting an example for schools all over the county. Additionally, this is a great example of continuous improvement and a perfect learning opportunity for students and teachers alike. Like I said before, we are already making great strides in environmental consciousness with hand dryers, recycled toilet paper, recycling bins, and becoming a Cobb County “green school.” But let’s not stop there. There is so much left to do and there always will be, so let’s head on the path of environmental responsibility and stewardship. Yes, purchasing recycled material paper, like that of Kejriwal, Marcal, or New Leaf Paper, is more expensive, but if we continue to expand our use of technology with tools like Class Jump and Blackboard, we can reduce our paper use altogether and be environmentally conscious in multiple regards. I encourage you to pass this information along to whoever handles paper purchases and feel free to contact me if you have any questions! I would love a response. I am getting more and more involved with the green movement, and I would love to see Walton do the same. Another component of the mission statement states that, “students need to be actively involved in solving problems and producing quality work,” and I believe I am doing just that. Being a part of Walton has taught me to stand up for my beliefs and take the lead when it comes to making change. Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to seeing changes in the way we use and purchase paper at Walton in the future!

P.S. I encourage you to use Paper Calculator (http://calculator.environmentalpaper.org/home) to calculate the school’s “paper footprint.” Also, as part of Project Green Challenge, if Walton is the first participating school to switch to 100% recycled content, we will receive 1000 notebooks from Kejriwal, a leading recycled-paper source, free of charge!

  1. http://www.environmentalpaper.org/documents/recycled-fiber-fact-sheet.pdf

I’m going to hand in this letter at school tomorrow! I will update you with any response I receive!

Green Sidewalk To Make It’s Own Electricity

Standard

Green sidewalk makes electricity — one footstep at a time

By George Webster, for CNN

Kinetic Energy To Produce Electricity

London, England (CNN) — Paving slabs that convert energy from people’s footsteps into electricity are set to help power Europe’s largest urban mall, at the 2012 London Olympics site.

The recycled rubber “PaveGen” paving slabs harvest kinetic energy from the impact of people stepping on them and instantly deliver tiny bursts of electricity to nearby appliances. The slabs can also store energy for up to three days in an on-board battery, according to its creator.

In their first commercial application, 20 tiles will be scattered along the central crossing between London’s Olympic stadium and the recently opened Westfield Stratford City mall — which expects an estimated 30 million customers in its first year.

“That should be enough feet to power about half its (the mall’s) outdoor lighting needs,” said Laurence Kemball-Cook, a 25-year-old engineering graduate who developed the prototype during his final year of university in 2009.

The green slabs are designed to compress five millimeters when someone steps on them, but PaveGen will not share the precise mechanism responsible for converting absorbed kinetic energy into electricity.

A computer generated image showing PaveGen slabs installed on a subway staircase
A computer generated image showing PaveGen slabs installed on a subway staircase

Although each step produces only enough electricity to keep an LED-powered street lamp lit for 30 seconds, Kemball-Cook says that the tiles are a real-world “crowdsourcing” application, harnessing small contributions from a large number of individuals.

“We recently came back from a big outdoor festival where we got over 250,000 footsteps — that was enough to charge 10,000 mobile phones,” said Kemball-Cook.

The young inventor envisages PaveGen systems being used to power off-grid appliances such as public lighting, illuminated street maps and advertising, and to be installed in areas of dense human traffic such as city centers, underground stations and school corridors.

“Our main test installation is at a school in Kent (southeast England) — where 1,100 kids have devoted their lives to stamping all over them for the last eight months,” said Kemball-Cook.

In its current form, the PaveGen paving slab contains a low-energy LED which lights up, expressing the energy transfer idea to the user but only consuming around 5% of the energy from each footstep.

“This is what I really enjoy about the design,” said Richard Miller, head of sustainability at the UK’s government-funded Technology Strategy Board.

“As much as it’s an effective, common-sense source of some sustainable electricity, it’s also a great way for people to engage with the issue of sustainability … to feel like they are part of the solution in a very immediate, fun and visual way that doesn’t make you do anything you wouldn’t already be doing,” said Miller.

However, although generally enthusiastic about the product, for the time being Miller withholds speculation about its far-reaching impact.

“As with all things of this nature, on a large scale and in the long term, its success will be determined by how cost-effective it is to produce … If it turns out to be expensive, then it will struggle to find a place as anything more than a niche application,” he said.

Kemball-Cook declines to comment on the cost of each slab, arguing that their current price is much higher than what it will be when they go into mass production.

As with all things of this nature…its success will be determined by how cost-effective it is to produce
Richard Miller, UK Technology Strategy Board

That said, the company has already won a spate of awards, including the Big Idea category at the UK’s Ethical Business Awards and the Shell LiveWire Grand Ideas Award. PaveGen has also recently received a round of financing from a group of London-based angel investors, although the sum is undisclosed.

Kemball-Cook is confident that the slab is durable. Over the course of a month it was subjected to a machine that replicates the pounding of footsteps, non-stop every day, he added.

“It’s also really easy to install as a retrofit on existing pavements, because they can be made to match their exact dimensions … you just replace one slab with another,” he said.

Looking to the future, Kemball-Cook would like to see the paving system introduced to the developing world, in areas that have a high footfall, but are off-grid, such as the slums in Mumbai.

“The average person takes 150 million steps in their lifetime, just imagine the potential,” he said.

Guest Blogger: Julia

Standard

Go 24 Hours without Disposables

by Julia, George Walton comp. HS

GO 24 HOURS WITHOUT USING ANY DISPOSABLES. Think I can do it? Hope you said yes because I already did.  But let’s back up a little. If you’re going to go a whole day without disposing of ANYTHING (except toilet paper, that was my exception. I had no time to drive to Kroger at 6 in the morning to even buy eco-friendly toilet paper ), you’re going to need some supplies:

Handkerchiefs. Preferably attractive ones. OR if you want to look EXTRA stylish.. go for the kid ones. I carried around the handkerchiefs that I used to pretend were capes for my dolls. Have a look 

Paper Clips. These may seem simple or unneeded or whatever, but when you go to staple something, think—“am I going to be able to reuse this staple?” and the answer is a big NO. be prepared. Carry paper clips.

Lunch Time! Bring a lunch box, plastic or stainless steel Tupperware, silverware (no plastic throwaways), and a cloth napkin! I brought a dish towel because my PeopleTowels haven’t come in the mail yet 😉 Also, don’t bring any bars or chips or packaged items unless they are homemade or come from a bulk, reusable bag.  No juice boxes! Just water bottles! (the reusable kind, of course!)

If I’m going to be honest, it wasn’t that hard to be disposable-free for 24 hours. Yes, I dispose of things EVENTUALLY, but when it comes to a day-by-day ordeal, I tend to lean towards the reusable side. When I DO dispose, I almost always recycle (paper or plastic) or compost (fruits and veggies/tea bags/coffee grounds) before I do any throwing away.

Get Some Honest to Goodness Wellness

Standard

Getting fit can reduce risk of breast cancer

Standard

Getting fit can reduce risk of breast cancer

By Liz Szabo, USA TODAY

For many women, breast cancer is the most frightening of all diseases — partly because there are few clear steps they can take to avoid it.

Breast cancer survivor Renee Nicholas, 36, participates in a Pilates class in Austin. Exercising can help women after a diagnosis, but it also lowers the risk of getting breast cancer in the first place.

Yet experts say women can embrace one prevention strategy with unequivocal benefits: exercise. “One of the most important ways women can think about prevention is by maintaining a healthy weight throughout adulthood,” says the American Cancer Society‘s Susan Gapstur. “Ways to achieve that are clearly through eating a healthy diet and being physically active.”

There’s no way to eliminate all risk of cancer, which can strike even the healthiest people in their prime, experts acknowledge. But avoiding extra pounds reduces the risk of not only breast cancer, but tumors of the kidneys, esophagus, colon and uterine lining, says the National Cancer Institute. Staying lean also reduces risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, joint problems and other ailments.

In the Women’s Health Initiative, a landmark government-funded study, postmenopausal women who walked 30 minutes a day lowered their breast cancer risk by 20%.

Overall, obese women are 30% to 50% more likely to develop breast cancer than women at a healthy weight, says the NCI’s Rachel Ballard-Barbash.

But obesity’s relationship to breast cancer is complex. Obesity is most clearly linked to postmenopausal breast cancer. That’s partly because body fat raises levels of estrogen, which fuels most breast cancers, says Patricia Ganz of the University of California-Los Angeles. After menopause, when a woman’s ovaries shut down, her estrogen levels normally fall dramatically. Heavy women, however, continue to have higher estrogen levels, adding more fuel to tumors.

In a long-running American Cancer Society study, women who gained 21 to 30 pounds after age 18 were 40% more likely to develop breast cancer than women who stayed within 5 pounds of their youthful weight. Those who gained more than 70 pounds doubled their risk of breast cancer. Obesity may contribute to breast cancer in a number of ways, Ballard-Barbash says. Women who are heavy and inactive tend to have higher insulin levels than women who are active and trim. A growing field of research suggests that the hormone insulin and a similar protein called insulin-like growth factor also may send signals to breast tumors that help them get bigger, Ballard-Barbash says. Exercising, however, can help regulate insulin.

“If you can’t make time for being phsyically active in your daily life, plan to make time for being sick,” Ballard-Barbash says. She recommends women try to exercise every day, even if it’s just a walk. “I don’t buy that it’s not feasible. … I exercised through three pregnancies. If people don’t want to commit to this, they can commit to having a loss of function in their middle years.”

More ways to reduce your breast cancer risk

• Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity has been linked to many kinds of cancer.
• Limit alcohol consumption. Moderate drinking, or defined as two drinks a day, increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer by more than 20%, compared with women who don’t drink at all. Over a lifetime, that boosts a woman’s risk of breast cancer from 1 in 8 to nearly 1 in 6.
• Watch radiation. Reduce unnecessary radiation exposure, such as from CT scans.
• Avoid or limit use of hormone replacement therapy. Long-term use of hormones has been linked to ovarian and breast cancer.
• Time childbearing. If practical, have your first child by age 30.
• Breast-feed as long as possible, or at least several months.
• Consider medications. If you’re at high risk, for instance, if you have several close relatives with the disease, talk to your doctor about medications such as tamoxifen or raloxifene. While these can cut the risk of breast cancer, they cause their own side effects.
• Beware of chemicals. Limit exposure to estrogen-like chemicals, such as BPA, found in many plastics and the lining of metal cans. Also limit exposure to phthalates, chemicals that interfere with the hormone system, often found in plastics, fragrances and cosmetics.

Article: http://usat.ly/qDCmCK

Weight Lifting and Females

Standard

Now, more than ever our lives are pulled in so many directions. Its hard to find time to make a difference in our own lives, let alone someone else’s. Work, or lack of work, stress, school, money, family, friends, commitments, responsibilities, and all those things that make up our daily lives take up most of our time.  We find ourselves saying “I would do that if I didn’t have <<insert excuse here>>” as reason why we just dont have time to get in shape, or to change the lackluster training routine that we are in now. Getting healthy is sometimes the hardest choice for people to make.

As if things couldn’t get any harder…. Now  lets add being a woman to the mix. Lets face it, fitness and exercise is still a mans world. I will speak for myself just so you understand. Last time I watched a triathlon there were 5 women compared to 33 men and when I used to go to the regular gym there would maybe be 2-3 women lifting weights. There are some exceptions to the rule (yoga, aerobics, etc.) but I know how you feel when you walk into the gym with the plan to lift some weights and do some leg extensions but end up on the tread mill because there were too many guys in the weight area and you didn’t feel like looking like a dork. Those machines are the comfort zone for most women as well as a crutch. Machines, as you will find out, are so inferior to using and moving your own bodyweight through space. Balance, coordination, agility, accuracy are all skills improved through calisthenics and using free weights. In addition most women find working out with weights by themselves daunting. Before I found CrossFit I would read about a wokout routine in SHAPE and then do it for weeks and weeks at the gym until it became ineffective and boring.

Conventional Wisdom has somehow drilled into our heads the silly notion that men and women are completely different species, especially when it comes to working out. There are definite differences – anyone who’s been in a relationship will be able to tell you that! – but that doesn’t take away from the fact that we’re all homo sapiens with the same basic physiological makeup. And so an outfit like Weight Watchers will push the chronic cardio (60+ minutes of straight cardio), the ankle weights, and the step classes because of some underlying assumption that women aren’t “meant” to lift heavy weights. It’s insane. Men and women have different work capacities and different natural inclinations, but their bodies still work the same way.

Like I said, this is coming from my own personal experience.  As a 5’1″ petite woman, the idea of lifting weights scared me to death.  I thought I would bulk up and end up looking like a man.  What I experienced was something extraordinary.  I went from a size 26/27 to a size 23. I dropped 15 pounds and have never felt better about myself. Mind you this was all in 2 months time.  So before you knock the weight room, give it a try.  Crossfit is one of the best fitness programs I have found, try it for yourself: http://bit.ly/oWBRHz

 

-Andria Kern, Social Media Guru

Preserve and Stonyfield Farm

Standard

 

Preserve is all about sustainable actions. When we take a new step we ask ourselves questions like: How do we know this change is better for the earth? Preserve conducts Life Cycle Assessments, a tool that takes a look at the environmental impact in every phase of the system, including transportation and any materials used in mailing the toothbrush back to us. When you return your toothbrush, there is a net gain in overall environmental impact over throwing your toothbrush in the landfill. To make this assessment, Preserve considers the big picture and take a systems level view, including everything from human health and environmental impact, energy and water usage, and resource depletion. They also consider whether a system can be sustained financially. In redesigning their toothbrush package, they sought to increase rates of recycling (better for the earth) and allow them to continue to reprocess (it’s expensive) the plastics to give them a third life. Did you know that USPS charges Preserve $1.40 for each return through the postage paid program?. Yet, for 44 cents you can send it back to us for recycling via first class mail. This got them thinking, what if they ask you to pay the postage, but then give you rewards worth more than a stamp (through product discounts, coupons, access to product samples and other offers). When they asked you about this change, you gave us them resounding support. To make the transition easier, their continuing to pay the postage for the first 250,000 Mail Back Packs. After that, we’ll have a rewards system in place.

 

http://bit.ly/nlqOy9