Reinventing Power: America’s Renewable Energy Boom

Power County Wind Farm

As part of the environmental film series, the new documentary Reinventing Power: America’s Renewable Energy Boom will be shown THIS Thursday (11/6) at 6pm in the West Chester University Sykes theater. The documentary “tells the backstory of clean energy from innovation to installation”.

The film will focus on clean energy, but will also cover other themes such as job security, innovation, community benefits, workforce diversity, and much more. If you plan on attending the event, or if you would like to learn more about clean energy, let’s brush up on some fast facts about renewable energy!

Clean Economy

Many people are worried about the cost of switching to clean energy – but actually, in many areas, renewable energy is cheaper than coal and fracked gas (Lazard). Also, the costs of wind and solar power are dropping rapidly.

  • Since 2009, the price of solar has dropped 85%, and the price of wind power is down 66% (CleanTechnica)
  • Solar power is now cheaper than the current cost of utility-provided electricity in 42 of our nation’s 50 biggest cities and in nearly half of all states

People also worry that converting to clean energy will take away jobs from workers in the coal and gas industries. However, there is a predicted 108% growth in wind turbine technician jobs from 2014 to 2024, the largest growth rate of any occupation in the country and double the rate of the second fastest-growing job (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Not only does clean energy create jobs, clean energy jobs can be created anywhere!

Clean Health

A major reason we should convert to clean energy is because fossil fuels pollute our air and water. Large populations of people are impacted by pollution due to fossil fuels, especially in areas of low-income or in communities of color. Once we switch to clean energy, everyone will benefit from cleaner air and water.

  • The switch to clean, renewable energy sources like wind and solar has already prevented 12,700 premature deaths from fossil fuel pollution in the United States in this past decade (Nature)
  • Replacing fossil fuel vehicles with electric vehicles and clean transportation could prevent 10,000 asthma attacks annually (Environment California)

Clean Reliability

Our current sources of energy aren’t always reliable. Coal, fracked gas, and nuclear power fluctuate rapidly in price. Many power plants are decades old, and are starting to become a liability in the industry. Something else to worry about? Coal, fracked gas, and nuclear may fail during heat waves because they require so much water to manufacture. And with climate change on the rise, we will be seeing more extreme weather, and perhaps hotter summer. But when we make the switch, we will be working with much more reliable power.

  • In extreme weather events, like a hurricane, renewables are resilient. During Hurricane Sandy, for example, solar panels both weathered the storm and quickly repowered damaged areas (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Even for other uses of energy, like transportation, renewables come out on top on reliability. For example, electric vehicles require far less maintenance than fossil fuel vehicles, and their drivers avoid volatile gasoline prices (Department of Energy)
  • Emerging resources like energy storage, demand response technologies, and new transmission will create a more flexible energy system to produce even greater amounts of renewable energy

If you’d like to learn even more about clean energy, and how we’re going to get to 100% clean, please join us for the film tomorrow! Again, it is Thursday 11/6 at West Chester University in the Sykes Theater, at 6pm. And here is a quick trailer of the documentary:

For more info, please visit reinventingpowerfilm.org

Support your Green Team on December 7th!

Your chance to show your support for Don’t Spray Me! and the West Chester Green Team in a material way! This will be a memorable evening with excellent food, stimulating company, and exciting auctions and raffles. Attendance is limited to 75, so don’t put off signing up:

Click this link to purchase tickets: https://wcgreen.bpt.me

And thanks for helping defend the environment we all live in!

More details (please share with friends): West Chester Green Team auction fundraiser dinner at the Unitarian Congregation, 501 S. High St., West Chester PA, Saturday Dec. 7, 5-8 p.m.

Dinner by West Chester Co-op, auction, fundraiser to benefit West Chester Green Team. To fund 2020 summer interns, activities with kids, public education, and other Green Team projects.

Food by West Chester Co-op, drinks, French hand organ music by Phil Jamison, live auction by Lori Zytkowicz, lots of displays, conviviality, and much more.

High quality auction items: vacation house rentals, paintings, crafts, books….

Get your tickets for only $35 + service fee at https://wcgreen.bpt.me/.

Building on last year’s success and a fun auction event, we will continue with our new tradition of the GreenEd Auction – a fundraising event organized by Don’t Spray Me!/West Chester Green Team!

Last year’s contributions helped further the education of our West Chester area kids and adults on various environmental topics:
– Chemical-free gardening with our first Organic Garden Tour
– Kids Summer Gardening Program
– Rally to successfully ban single-use plastic bags and straws
– A speaker and film series at West Chester University
– Chester County Clean Energy Tour
– and many other activities

These events would not have happened without our three interns, Courtney, Kara and Paige, who helped us over the summer. They took on a lot of the work to plan and execute our ideas and events — paid for by the funds we raised last year!

To keep the momentum going, we are again calling all friends and supporters to join us at this year’s Green ED Auction event!

The event will feature a silent auction, live auction and raffles. You can bid on vacation home stays, event tickets, restaurant gift certificates, gift baskets and plenty more. A list of items will be available closer to the event.

There will be a light supper and dessert. Bread will be provided by La Baguette Magique. The desserts have been contributed and made by Kim Stack, former owner of 3 Little Pigs. Wine or beer will be provided with supper and a cash bar will be available afterwards and throughout the evening.

Come join us for a fun evening that can have a real impact in our community for generations to come!

Study links Deltagard active ingredient deltamethrin exposure to fish embryo malformations

We already know that the common yard product Roundup has been associated with multiple cases of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Now, more and more evidence is mounting that deltamethrin, the active ingredient in Deltagard, causes negative effects when animals are exposed to it.

A recent scientific report from Turkey studied the developmental effects on Zebrafish (Danio rerio) when they are exposed to deltamethrin. Survival rate, hatching, and body malformations were determined after deltamethrin exposure.

The study results showed that DM (deltamethrin) cause body malformations, mortality and and delay hatching, survival rate decreased, and apoptosis increased.

Parlak, Department of Aquaculture, May 2018

The figures above show how survival rate decreased with the concentration of deltamethrin, and malformations increased with concentration.

Deltamethrin easily enters waterways through runoff, which is why it is important to know how Deltagard is affecting our ecosystems. This is also why Deltagard instructions say to not spray the product directly on or adjacent to a waterway. But how can we be sure that when Deltagard trucks spray our lawns and streets in the borough, the poison does not run into the storm drains and affect our wildlife? Also, if deltamethrin has such detrimental effects on zebrafish, who’s to say what unknown effects if may have on insects, birds, dogs, and even humans? As always, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Reduce your use of Deltagard on your property, and express to the county that you are concerned about the use of Deltagard throughout the borough.

  • Figures from Evaluation of apoptosis, oxidative stress responses, AChE activity and body malformations in zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryos exposed to deltamethrin

“Toxic Textiles”: chemical use in fast fashion

Green America, an environmental organization, conducted a report exploring environmental initiatives in leading clothing stores. The report looked at 14 major apparel companies to see if they were addressing issues like chemical use and waste from clothing production.

(+) means a company has a policy/goal, and metrics/plans in place; (/) means a company says it has a policy but doesn’t go into details; blank means a company does not talk about this policy. For chemicals, (•) means a company has an RSL but does not have an MRS; read full report for more details – greenamerica.org

One of the features they checked was chemical management. Directly from their report, which can be found here:

The production of textiles uses an estimated 43 million tons of chemicals every year – and this figure doesn’t even take into account the amount of pesticides used to grow natural resources, such as cotton, annually.

Chemicals are used heavily throughout the production of textiles – the process of turning raw materials into textiles uses over 8,000 different chemicals. The Swedish Chemicals Agency tested 2,400 chemicals and found that about 30% of them were toxic. While some chemicals have been banned/restricted in consuming countries, that chemical may be found in waterways of the manufacturing country, exposing not just workers to these hazardous chemicals, but also the community at large.

Industry-wide, there is a need for more transparency and data about the chemicals that are being used, as well as their effects on health and the environment throughout the life cycle of the textile/garment . . .

Until companies become more transparent about their chemical use, it’s hard to know what you’re truly paying for when you purchase clothing. Green Team’s advice to you is to purchase new clothes only when absolutely necessary – and to use the clothes you already have as long as possible.

For more information and the full report, please visit the article at greenamerica.org.

West Chester Green Team’s first annual organic garden tour

On Saturday, June 29th, about 100 West Chester residents toured organic gardens in the West Chester borough. Gardens that were toured showcased vegetables, flowers, rain gardens, tower gardens, and much more. The goal of the tour was to educate residents about the many different types of gardens they can have, even in a small space.

Denise and garden 2

A popular attraction of the tour was Councilwoman Denise Polk’s backyard. Although Polk only has less than one-tenth of an acre, the space boasts more than 50 different plantings, in addition to a honey bee house. Polk suggests eating veggies fresh off the vine, and keeping chemical use to a minimum or not at all. (Photo by Bill Rettew: “Checking out Councilwoman Denise Polk’s backyard organic garden”)

In total there were 10 stops along the tour, with at least one site in each ward of the borough: in backyards, at West Chester University, and at the Melton Center.

Margaret Hudgings is an active West Chester Green Team leader, and she helped to organize the event. She was excited to see that a main goal of the tour had been accomplished; “The tour shows people that you can have a fantastic garden even if you have a small yard.”

West Chester Green Team plans to run this tour again next year, with some changes and new gardens featured.

For more details and photos from the tour, please visit “West Chester Green Team shines spotlight on local organic gardens” by Bill Rettew in the Daily Local News.

Christiane's garden 2
Christiane Torres’ garden

Study finds that planting trees would be the most effective method to combat climate change

A study led by researchers at ETH Zurich found that forest restoration is our best bet for combating climate change. The study used earth system models to predict how much trees we could plant globally, and how much carbon those trees could store. It turns out that we have enough space for at least 0.9 billion hectares of more trees! If those new forests reached maturity, they would store 205 gigatonnes of carbon – that’s two thirds of the carbon generated by humans since the industrial revolution.

What’s great about this restoration approach is that there are so many benefits. Planting trees requires no new technology or industry, and we get to surround ourselves with more nature. Afforestation also creates more habitat for our furry friends. Habitat loss is one of the leading causes of species loss.

Our results highlight the opportunity of climate change mitigation through tree restoration but also the urgent need for action.

“The global tree restoration potential” Bastin et al

The study also found that more than 50% of the tree restoration potential can be found in only six countries: Russia, United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil, and China. This stresses the important responsibility of some of the world’s leading economies, including the US.

So where do we go from here? The report suggests that “we need better country-level forest accounting, which is critical for effective management and restoration strategies.”

This places ecosystem restoration as the most effective solution at our disposal to mitigate climate change.

“The global tree restoration potential” Bastin et al

Home Depot, Lowe’s, and more remove harmful phthalates from flooring products

Success! – Home improvement retailers follow through on commitments to remove phthalates from flooring. The environmental organization Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families (SCHF) celebrates this recent win in the reduction of phthalate use in home remodeling products. In 2015, SCHF secured commitments from home remodeling stores Home Depot, Lowe’s, Lumber Liquidators, and Menards to eliminate added phthalates from flooring. But first – what are phthalates and why are we concerned about them?

Phthalates are a class of chemical compounds commonly used in home flooring, along with plastic containers, cosmetics, and other personal care products. Phthalates are so widely used that they have made their way into our bodies. Once phthalates are inside the body, they break down into metabolites and pass through. The CDC and FDA have not said outright that these chemicals are harmful to us, although many are concerned that prolonged exposure may cause adverse health effects.

This is why SCHF started a collaboration with the Ecology Center, the Environmental Health Strategy Center, and Healthy Building Network, to reduce phthalates in popular home remodeling products. Tile samples recently taken from Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Lumber Liquidators, show no measurable amounts of phthalates – that’s great!

Nowadays, you can’t escape manufactured chemicals – they surround us everywhere we go, they’re in our homes, our food and water, and ultimately in our own bodies. So let’s applaud these stores that are reducing their contribution of chemicals to the environment! Please see SCHF’s full article and visit their site to learn more about minimizing your exposure to chemicals.

Greenpeace discovers biodiversity hotspot in Philippines to be packed with plastic

A crab was trapped inside a discarded Zagu milktea cup in Verde Island Passage, the epicenter of global marine biodiversity, in Batangas City, the Philippines.

Recently, Greenpeace Philippines has documented plastic pollution in Verde Island Passage, a hotspot of marine biodiversity. This passage is extremely rich in marine life,  and it is dubbed the Center of the Center of Marine Shorefish Biodiversity, and the Center of the Center of the Marine Biodiversity of the World.

Greenpeace performed a 3-day underwater exploration which revealed that the area is littered with plastic bags, “some showing visible signs of being among the corals for a very long time”. A majority of the litter was plastic produced by large companies such as Nestle and Unilever. In fact, a recent report by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) found that Nestle and Unilever are responsible for a quarter of throwaway plastic driving the plastic pollution crisis in the Philippines.

If big companies don’t respond to our calls for reduction in single-use plastic production, these places of “paradise” like Verde Island Passage, will be lost – Abigail Aguilar, Greenpeace Philippines Campaigner

Don’t Spray Me! and the West Chester Green Team encourage you as a consumer to reduce your use of single-use plastics to prevent further destruction of our beautiful environment.

To learn more and see photos and videos of the waste found in Verde Island Passage, please visit Greenpeace’s article.

 

How to celebrate Pollinator Week 2019! (6/17-6/23)

In 2007, the Senate designated a week in June as “National Pollinator Week” – a week to raise awareness about the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations. During this week, people all over the country celebrate the valuable ecosystem services provided by birds, bees, butterflies, and beetles! So how can you take part this year?

Here are just a few activities you can do, from pollinator.org

  • Display pollinator artwork and outreach materials
  • Host a pollinator-themed meal or mixer
  • Pollinator planting day at your school, office, local park, or library
  • Build native bee houses
  • Screen a pollinator film (such as Bee Movie!)
  • Plant habitat in your backyard using native plants
  • Host a nature walk or pollinator expert lecture

Additionally, check out 7 Things You Can Do for Pollinators

  1. Plant for pollinators
  2. Reduce or eliminate the impact of pesticides
  3. Register as a share site
  4. Reach out to others – inform and inspire!
  5. Support local bees and beekeepers
  6. Conserve all of our resources; use less and reduce our impact
  7. Support the work of groups promoting science based, practical efforts for pollinators

For more information, please visit pollinator.org where you can learn even more about pollinators and how we can help them.