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Monday
Apr282008

Environmental Crime Stoppers

Check out one of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's latest press releases on how Floridians can help protect the states natural resources against environmental crimes.



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 17, 2008

CONTACT: Amy Graham, (850) 245-2112

Dial #DEP to Report Environmental Crimes


--DEP and Floridians team up to protect the environment--


TALLAHASSEE – Floridians now have a new tool for protecting the state’s natural resources. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently announced that most cell phone customers in Florida can dial #DEP to report environmental crimes, including illegal dumping of hazardous materials, construction debris, oil drums and biological waste.

“#DEP helps officers respond quickly and efficiently to environmental crimes and emergencies,” said DEP Division of Law Enforcement Director Henry Barnet. “DEP’s law enforcement will now have additional eyes on the roadways and in the field to help spot and easily report major crimes against the environment.”

#DEP is an emergency line for reporting environmental crimes only. The program will allow for statewide consistency in the way Floridians, particularly motorists with cell phone only access, report environmental crimes. State Warning Point staff will answer calls and forward information to DEP law enforcement personnel or emergency responders for investigation.

Last year, DEP’s Bureau of Emergency Response responded to more than 2,100 incidents, with more than 90 percent of those referred to DEP from the State Warning Point. DEP’s Bureau of Environmental Investigations conducted almost 350 criminal investigations in 2007, resulting in 133 arrests.

To help educate and inform the public on environmental crimes as well as DEP’s law enforcement activities, the Division of Law Enforcement this week unveiled a new Web site. The site highlights the Division’s bureaus of Emergency Response, Environmental Investigations and Park Police as well as the Training Center. Now available online is emergency contact information, tips on recognizing and reporting environmental crimes, career profiles of DEP law enforcement employees and “notes from the field” spotlighting real on-the-job situations faced by DEP officers.

DEP’s Division of Law Enforcement is responsible for statewide environmental resource law enforcement, providing law enforcement services to Florida’s state parks and greenways and trails. Division personnel investigate environmental resource crimes and illegal dredge and fill activities, and respond to natural disasters, civil unrest, hazardous material incidents and oil spills that can threaten the environment.

To report environmental crime, most wireless customers can now dial #DEP. Callers can also report environmental crimes to the Environmental Crimes Hotline at the State Warning Point by calling 1 (877) 272-8335 or 1 (877) 2-SAVE-FL. General environmental inquiries should be directed to DEP district offices during business hours.

For more information on DEP’s Division of Law Enforcement, visit www.dep.state.fl.us/law.
Tuesday
Apr222008

Happy Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day, we thought it would be neat to share some great tips on greening your technology.

8 Ways to Green Your Technology


by Trey Granger


Technology is a HUGE part of our daily lives. We carry around cell phones and media players, work all day on a computer and come home to watch television.

But electronic devices make up 70 percent of the toxic waste in our landfills. Here’s eight ways to make sure your need for information doesn’t compromise the environment.

1. E-cycle
Keep your electronics out of landfills at all cost. If they still work, donate them to a second-hand store for reuse. If not, use Earth 911’s recycling locator to find a place to recycle them. It could be a community event, a retail store or even a manufacturer take back program. All of these are better than your trash can.

2. Provide a Second Life for Electronics
Recycling electronics is important, but only if they no longer work. Consider options that will reuse this technology again and keep it out of the waste stream.

* Trade in video games and movies for credit at stores that sell these items
* Donate your televisions and computer monitors to Goodwill; you can find second-hand store locations using Earth 911’s recycling locator
* Offer your old cell phone to a service provider so it can be refurbished

3. Reach for the Energy Stars

Electronics use up a lot of energy. ENERGY STAR products can cut energy use by 50 percent. If you’re shopping for new electronics, check for an ENERGY STAR label. This covers computers and monitors, televisions and even battery chargers.

Some other energy-related notes for when you’re purchasing

* Notebook computers use less energy than desktops
* LCD TVs use less energy than plasma TVs

4. Use Rechargeable Batteries
You already charge batteries for cell phones and laptops. So why are you buying disposable AA and AAA batteries for other products? Rechargeable batteries last up to three years longer, and are accepted by more recyclers than other batteries.

5. Power Down Inactive Electronics
Why keep your TV on when no one is in the room? Booting up a computer may take a few minutes, but at the very least turn off the monitor when it’s not used. Also, unplug chargers that aren’t in use. They still use energy even if they aren’t charging anything.

6. Lay Off the Heavy Metal
Deep inside our electronic devices lie potentially hazardous materials like lead and mercury. These metals are not only a health hazard to you, but make proper disposal of electronics a necessity for the environment. Manufacturers are beginning to respond to this by producing devices with less/no hazardous materials, so look for these in the future.

7. Be Responsible With Packaging
Electronics are fragile, so they come with lots of packaging. Whether it’s cardboard boxes, Styrofoam or plastic bags, all this material should be recycled. Cardboard can be recycled with your paper, and all plastic should have a number on it (e.g. Styrofoam is #6) used for recycling. Use Earth 911’s recycling locator to find out where you can recycle all your packaging.

8. Spring for the Warranty
Warranties allow for your electronics to be fixed instead of replaced, meaning they stay out of the waste stream. They also encourage you to keep products for longer, which is better for the environment.
If you are looking for new electronics, consider an upgrade instead of a new purchase.
* Use the same case for your computer, with a new motherboard and more RAM
* Get a digital converter to modernize the picture of your analog TV

This story is part of Earth 911’s “Green Eight” series, where they showcase eight ways to green your life in various areas. Click here to see Earth 911’s “Green Eight” archive.
Tuesday
Apr012008

Environmental Benefits of Composting

Compost use can result in a variety of environmental benefits. The following are a few of the most important benefits:

Compost enriches soils


Compost has the ability to help regenerate poor soils. The composting process encourages the production of beneficial micro-organisms (mainly bacteria and fungi) which in turn break down organic matter to create humus. Humus--a rich nutrient-filled material--increases the nutrient content in soils and helps soils retain moisture. Compost has also been shown to suppress plant diseases and pests, reduce or eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers, and promote higher yields of agricultural crops.

Compost helps cleanup (remediate) contaminated soil


The composting process has been shown to absorb odors and treat semivolatile and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including heating fuels, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and explosives. It has also been shown to bind heavy metals and prevent them from migrating to water resources or being absorbed by plants. The compost process degrades and, in some cases, completely eliminates wood preservatives, pesticides, and both chlorinated and nonchlorinated hydrocarbons in contaminated soils.

Compost helps prevent pollution


Composting organic materials that have been diverted from landfills ultimately avoids the production of methane and leachate formulation in the landfills. Compost has the ability to prevent pollutants in stormwater runoff from reaching surface water resources. Compost has also been shown to prevent erosion and silting on embankments parallel to creeks, lakes, and rivers, and prevents erosion and turf loss on roadsides, hillsides, playing fields, and golf courses.

Using compost offers economic benefits


Using compost can reduce the need for water, fertilizers, and pesticides. It serves as a marketable commodity and is a low-cost alternative to standard landfill cover and artificial soil amendments. Composting also extends municipal landfill life by diverting organic materials from landfills and provides a less costly alternative to conventional methods of remediating (cleaning) contaminated soil.

- E. Haley
Thursday
Mar202008

World Water Day Matters


March 20, 2008
World Water Day -The international observance of World Water Day is an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro.This day celebrates the value and importance of water in our everyday lives.

This year, World Water Day coincides with the International Year of Sanitation, challenging us to spur action on a crisis affecting more than one out of three people on the planet. More than 40 per cent of the world’s population continue to live without improved sanitation. It is estimated that 88% of the global burden of disease is attributable to unsafe water supply, lack of sanitation and hygiene and is mostly concentrated on children in developing countries. Every day, this contributes to the deaths of 5,000 children from largely preventable causes, including diarrhoeal diseases and parasites.

People around the world are encouraged to celebrate the day to draw attention to the world’s sanitation challenges.

Stand Up for Those Who Can't Sit Down


World Water Day Celebration in New York, 20 March 2008 - Come make a public statement with the longest toilet line and raise awareness about the global sanitation crisis.

Link to Sanitation Day flyer





UN-Water Launches Official World Water Day 2008 Website


UN Water officially launched the website for World Water Day 2008. The website features factsheets, videos and news on the upcoming World Water Day celebrations in Geneva.

Visit the World Water Day website




To learn more about World Water Day and how you can celebrate, click here

Or go straight to the source

-M.alandete
Tuesday
Mar112008

Homemade Natural Easter Egg Dyes

By Melissa Breyer, Senior Producer, Care2 Green Living
Straight to the source.

The year the Easter Bunny brought my kids only organic yogurt-covered raisins didn't go over so well, but at least my daughters are gung-ho for dying Easter eggs with homemade, plant-based dyes. We rummage and smoosh and boil, and they are amazed and delighted by the colors we can come up with. They have fun, and I am relieved to be free of synthetic food dyes.

Certified food dyes approved by the FDA include colors synthesized from petroleum derivatives and even coal tar. While other food dyes based on natural ingredients come from things you may not care to ingest: Have you heard about carminic acid? It is a commonly used red food coloring, which comes from the dried, crushed bodies of pregnant female scale insects called cochineal. Yum.

SIMPLE SOLUTION: By using plant-based dyes for coloring Easter eggs, not only do you know exactly what you're getting (hold the insects, thanks) but the colors are far lovelier than their synthetic counterparts. They are muted yet vibrant, and knowing their source is gratifying on a deeper aesthetic level. Children seem to find that mashing food is also much more fun that simply dropping a tablet in a cup. As well, it is a great lesson in exploration—kids get to experiment with which plant materials work in which way, and can get creative with items in the refrigerator or pantry.Some of these materials work best when they are boiled with the eggs (they will be noted below), and some work well made ahead and used by dipping or soaking the eggs. If you are using juice, just use it straight. Bulky materials will be boiled with the eggs or boiled and allowed to cool for dipping. The longer you let the eggs soak, the more intense the color will be (for the boiled versions, you can remove them from the heat and allow to cool in the dye bath).



You can use your favorite egg-dying tricks here as well: Like crayons for a batik effect or rubber bands for a tie-dye effect. If you like a glossy egg, you can rub the dyed eggs with vegetable oil when they are dry.

Red
Red onion skins, use a lot (boil with eggs)
Pomegranate juice

Orange
Yellow onion skins (boil with eggs)

Yellow
Lemon or orange peel (boil with eggs)
Carrot tops (boil with eggs)
Celery seed (boil with eggs)
Ground cumin (boil with eggs)
Ground turmeric (boil with eggs)

Yellow Brown
Dill seeds (boil with eggs)

Brown
Strong coffee
Instant coffee
Black walnut shells (boil with eggs)

Yellow Green
Bright green apple peels (boil with eggs)

Green
Spinach leaves (boil with eggs)

Blue
Canned blueberries and their juice
Red cabbage leaves (boil with eggs)
Purple grape juice

Violet Blue
Violet blossoms
Red onion skins, less amount than you need to make red (boil with eggs)

Lavender
Diluted purple grape juice
Violet blossoms plus squeeze of lemon (boil with eggs)

Pink
Beets, fresh or canned
Cranberries or cranberry juice
Raspberries
Red grape juice

- E. Haley