#GetOnAir Video Challenge: DEADLINE EXTENDED

Hey there, OnAir community!

So, remember when we told you about our #GetOnAir September video challenge? The one where you could show off your camera skills for a good cause? Oh yeah–the one where you could win a Sony HD pocket camcorder? Remember that?

Well, we’ve got good news for you. If you didn’t get the chance to work up an entry in the first half of September, you’re in luck! Because we’ve now extended the deadline until September 30.

That means you’ve now got all the way until the end of the month to whip out that smartphone, wake your inner Tarantino, and hit “record” on your very own save-the-air message. And once you’ve entered, the Internet will vote on whose video is best.

Need more info? You can find all the contest rules here.

Need inspiration? Take a look at this video made last spring by one of our awesome student bloggers:

So get out there, get filming, and #GetOnAir. Do it today!

Green Shopping

As of now, retail and department stores are advertising their great deals and back-to-school specials for the coming school year. However, due to the economy and price strategizing, we find ourselves driving to lots of different stores for specific items that we want to buy, alternating from the best jeans to the coolest shoes. So what’s the best way to go about this?

First, go online and price different stores for the items that you want and love. If you have a type of jean that you prefer in one store, see if you can find the other clothes that you want in the same store. While this saves a load of your time, it also saves the environment as well. You would be saving your car from running empty in the fuel tank; simultaneously you would prevent the amount of harmful CO2 emissions in the air.

Try and plan your major and minor shopping to all be located in one centered area and not scattered throughout your hometown. There are many advertisements stating the benefits of taking one’s business to individualized retail stores, instead of the mall. However, with some searching on the internet, you might find that the deals can be better. This is extremely helpful to the clean air cause because the mall has a multitude of department stores and other various items in one place without you having to travel that much by vehicle. Or, if you don’t care to shop at the mall, many stores are now teaming up to build their franchises next to one another in hopes of reducing the amount of travel that their customers have to endure.

Likewise, you could plan to do your shopping with a group of your best friends and decide to all carpool to the mall or store of your intention. It would be helpful to the cause and could be a fun day out with your friends. Better yet: if you don’t want to carpool, you could ride the metro line, subway, or even the bus.

 

OnAir says: When you bundle a lot of errands together to cut down on extra car trips, we call that “trip chaining”–and it’s a great, simple way to cut down on pollution. Also, who WOULDN’T prefer to go shopping in a group? Keep that in mind, and carpool next time!

Indoor Air Pollution

The summer really seems to be flying by! Hope everyone is having a great vacation.

The weather’s been pretty hot lately, and you may be spending lots of time inside. But did you know that indoor air can become polluted, too? This happens when contaminants build up inside buildings. Homes and schools can be affected by it!

Things like dust, other particulates, and carbon monoxide are quite common pollutants, while asbestos and lead are showing up increasingly less due to people’s knowledge of their dangers. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used for industrial purposes. But in the early 1900s, people in asbestos mining towns began dying and having severe lung problems.

Paint and cleaning products are also big hazards when it comes to indoor air pollution. A way to avoid being affected by this is to use organic cleaning products and things without harsh chemicals. Distilled vinegar, for instance, is a completely natural substance used to kill mold and germs. It’s great to dust often and add fans in your house, to keep air circulating and minimize particulates.

Remember, have a safe, happy and green summer!

How green is your school?

So…sorry to bring this up, guys, but it’s almost back-to-school time. And while the end of vacation might be kind of a bummer, we’ve go a project for you to tackle that might make the school year pass just a little quicker. How about making this the year that you try to green-up your school?

It might seem like a big job. That’s because it is. But just because there’s lots to do doesn’t mean that you can’t make a difference. Here are some tips and tricks you can try this year to make your school a greener place:

Don’t Idle

Idling, or leaving the engine running while the car isn’t moving, emits 20 times more pollution than if you were travelling at 30 miles per hour. And it happens every day at your school, when students get dropped off and picked up. You can help cut down on that pollution by getting people to turn their cars off when sitting for more than 30 seconds.

Cutting back on idling can make a HUGE difference in the air quality at your school. Wanna get the word out? Try Facebook, Twitter, even YouTube to get people talking. You could even create a #noidling hashtag and make the idea go viral!

Walk, Bike, Pool, or Bus to School

Everyone has the option of riding the bus – so, hop on. One full school bus takes approximately 36 cars off the road. That’s 36 fewer cars emitting harmful pollution into the air. Plus, that morning and afternoon ride gives you optimal time to listen to your favorite tunes, look up game cheats, catch up on celebrity gossip …you get the picture.

If you live within walking or pedaling distance of your school, walking or biking can be easier than you think. Just make sure to map a safe route, and don’t be afraid to scout the neighborhood for walking and biking buddies. Try downloading the Map My Ride app to find the best route to your school.

If you’re not close enough to walk or bike, consider carpooling. This is another area where you could utilize Facebook—try creating Facebook groups for people to safely link with others in their area.

Recycle

If your school has recycling bins, use them. And encourage your classmates to use them too – especially for paper. If there’s no recycling service at your school, petition your school principal and superintendent to get one. Remind them that adding a recycling service could save their budget up to $7,000 a year, according to Mass Recycle.

Pack Your Lunch

Eat a waste-free lunch everyday by avoiding packing things like plastic seal bags, plastic forks, paper napkins, etc. Instead, pack your lunch using:

– Reusable lunch containers

– Regular, washable utensils

– Cloth napkins

– Reusable drink containers

– Reusable lunch boxes

Basically, try to stay waste-free when you pack your lunch. Challenge your friends and classmates to pack their lunches too.

Bring in the Green

Plants are natural air purifiers. Their roots and leaves work together to soak up chemical pollutants in the air. Bringing any plants inside will help, but for the best results, have one plant for every 10 square yards of floor space.

So, try to get one plant in every classroom. The best air purifiers are spider plants, English Ivies and Gerbera Daisies. All three are low maintenance and easily found in stores.

How green do you think your school is? Let us know in the comments below. And, don’t forget to log your on-campus green activities in the AirCreds tool for points and prizes.

 

Greencation!

This summer, you and your family might be planning to go on a vacation or two. And while your parents will be making most of the decisions and reservations, etc., there are things you can do to help and remind them to have an eco-friendly trip!

If you’re staying at a resort of hotel, look for places that have a low impact on the environment, like campsites and green hotels.

Remember that air travel is a really big offender in the greenhouse gas department, so consider other modes of transportation like the train. If flying is a must, then check out frequent flyer miles so you can also track your carbon footprint. Some companies (like Sustainable Travel International) let you buy credits that put your money towards projects that aim to lower CO2 in the air.

A good thing to remember is to pack light, because carrying heavy luggage uses lots of energy. When out and about in the world, make sure to unplug your phone or laptop chargers when you’re not using them, because this also saves energy.

Wherever you may find yourself this summer, have fun and do what you can to save our planet, little by little.

The Air Games

As many of you sports fans know, it is now the time of reckoning for many in the 2012 Olympic Games located in London. For those who keep track, a major problem in the 2008 games in Beijing was the amount of air pollution and it dismal effects upon the athletes and tourists—such as smog and harshness to breath. As of now, the city of London is taking extra precautions to reduce the amount of pollution that the visitors will be experiencing with the leading levels of Nitrogen Oxides (NOx).

Some programs are initiated that travel around the city to spray a mixture that can soak up the amount of smog that fills the roadways in order to reduce the amount that has vaporized into the air.

Other actions taken by local environmentalist groups are trying to persuade companies to install filter caps onto the mufflers of transportation vehicles and company cars that are a leading factor of carbon emissions. Similarly, on the ground level people are now trading their boilers out for more efficient and environmentally friendly device that reduce the amounts NOx released while in use. All of these actions are in hopes to fulfill the city’s new program of Low Emission Zone for the pollution levels.

Also, companies are installing bike racks and designating other areas for specific use as a
placement for people’s bikes. Since this trend has started, the amount of customers and employees that use their bikes have increased dramatically. Likewise, the large law firm of Simmons and Simmons has started a program called Walk to Client, which allows the attorneys to use certain social media and communications to organize themselves and agree on a set location that is within walking distances for both parties.

So what can we learn from this? Simple: Try the same tactics. Now realize that it doesn’t have to scale large factories and law offices. It could, but you can start simply with your friends. Suggest that you all meet somewhere and that you are all going to bike there, or skateboard, or even just walk. You could even try petitioning the idea of installing some bike rakes and some of your favorite places. The biggest mistake anyone ever made was not trying. Give it a whirl, you might be surprised what happens.

Online Shopping: Green it Up!

Online shopping: is it really the greener choice? Even we wondered whether it was the cleaner way to shop. While shopping online eliminates the emissions you’d expend by driving to and from the store, it also often comes with long shipping distances and non-biodegradable packaging. Both are bad news. So, here are some tips to making your online shopping a bit greener:

  • Think about it – when you order something and get it shipped, it’s going to have to make a trip to your house. So if you’re shopping for multiple items, try to order from the same place all at once. That way, your stuff will only make one trip rather than several trips.
  • Pay attention to the practices of the sites where you shop. Major sites, such as Amazon, have begun to use recyclable and sustainable shipping methods. So now you’ll have a choice in buying more eco-friendly.
  • Choose green shipping. If they don’t offer it, in the “special comments” box, ask for your items to be shipped together, if possible. Or for recyclable materials to be used. They might not be able to grant those requests, but you definitely have a right to ask.

There are thousands of online stores to choose from – not sure where to start? Here are some sites that offer air-friendly options:

  • Etsy.com provides various sellers that offer vintage, handmade products. Many are eco-friendly sellers. This site gives you direct contact from who you’re buying from. So, you’ll have the ability to buy from sellers that only ship using sustainable, air-friendly methods.
  • Ebay’s World of Good online store lets you shop from fair trade sellers. The sellers are split into categories and you can choose to only shop from those labeled “eco-positive,” meaning they make and ship their products using sustainable, air-friendly means.
  • Amazon uses TerraPass to calculate their carbon footprint. They also offer combined shipping and have a Frustration-Free Packaging program that uses recyclable cardboard for shipping.
  • For shipping, UPS uses alternative energy vehicles, sustainable packaging, and technology that maps more efficient routes.
  • Of course, the greenest places to shop don’t do any shipping at all! Downloading purchases through sites like iTunes or Amazon (instead of ordering CDs and DVDs) completely eliminates the litter and air pollution factor—it’s très air-friendly! So, although hard copies are still an option, remember that direct downloading is the cleanest, zero-emission way to get your music and movies!

If online shopping isn’t an option, shop greener by carpooling or riding transit to and from the store. (In other words, take friends along. Shopping’s more fun with them, anyway.) And if you drive, try to trip chain by charting a route where you can stop by several stores in one trip.

And don’t forget to log your air-friendly online shopping and cleaning commuting on AirCreds for points and prizes!

All About the Vote.

So, everybody’s talking about voting these days. It’s an election year, after all—and the buzz is only going to get louder as the year goes on.

But you know, there’s more to voting than picking a president. In fact, there are lots of times that voting isn’t about electing people at all. Sometimes voting is about solving problems. To decide what works for our communities—and what doesn’t.

Here in Georgia, we’ve got just that kind of vote coming up this summer: the 2012 Regional Transportation Referendum.

Simply put, the Transportation Referendum is a plan to make it easier for people and products to get around. And in metro Atlanta, that means addressing our pesky little congestion problem.

Because, um, guys? We’ve kind of got issues with traffic here. Maybe you’ve heard of them.

So on July 31st, Georgians will vote on whether we want to pay to open up some new pathways around our towns—and to improve the ones we’ve already got.

Why are we writing about a transportation vote on a clean-air blog? Because it’s cars standing still that produce a lot of the pollution out there. And one of the first—and biggest—things you can do to make the air better is to take another look at how you get from Point A to Point B.

Maybe you’re not old enough to vote. Maybe you’re not old enough to drive. But you’ll be doing both sooner than you think. Now’s the time to start thinking about what’s waiting for you out there—at the polls and on the roads. Let us help you with that.

THE BREAKDOWN

  • The Referendum calls for a 1-cent sales tax. And all those pennies will come together to pay for a bunch of projects all across the state.
  • Months ago, people from every region in Georgia came together to pick what they really needed, transportation wise. The result was a set list of tasks, customized to fit the communities that agreed on them.
  • What kinds of projects are we talking about? Well, here’s a taste of what we’re looking at here in metro Atlanta:
    • New roads
    • New transit lines
    • Modifying traffic flow at major bottleneck intersections—like where I-285 meets I-20 west. (Ever tried cruising through that one at 4:30 on a Friday? Try it out sometime.)

THE BENEFITS

Fewer delays:  When roads work the way they’re supposed to, you get places faster. Period.

Safer streets: Certain roads see lots of crashes. Often, this comes from roads that can no longer handle the kind of traffic they’re getting—missing things like proper traffic lights, turn lanes, crosswalks and bike lanes to help move traffic properly. The Referendum would help tackle problems like these in some of the worst-offending crash zones to keep more drivers and pedestrians out of danger.

Jobs, jobs, jobs: Around 200,000 of them, based on estimates from the Atlanta Regional Commission. You might be looking for one of those soon.

More transit trips per day: More bus and rail lines mean more people have access to public transportation. And more people picking transit over driving leads to…

Better air quality! Reducing road congestion means reducing the amount of time that cars are sitting on highways and pumping pollution into the air. If traffic gets moving better, experts predict a sizeable change in air quality. It’s projected to be the same as taking 72,000 cars off the road daily. 72,000. Daily.

If you’re in metro Atlanta and want to see what’s happening close to you, click here to check out a map that lets you zoom in and out on different projects and neighborhoods.

The vote is on July 31, but early voting starts July 9! Go to metroatlantatransportationvote.com to learn more.

What’s your take all the transportation talk? Got opinions? Got questions? Leave them in the comments! Let’s get a dialogue going.

Outdoor Activities for High-Smog Days

Now that smog season has started, we’re all concerned about outdoor hangouts during high smog days. Just last week, metro Atlanta had its first Code Orange smog alert. As you know, smog is mostly made up of particle pollution and ground-level ozone, which is extremely harmful our bodies. When inhaled, it’s like a sunburn on your lungs.

But summertime in Georgia is a beautiful thing, and you shouldn’t miss out! So, here are some tips on how to continue enjoying the outdoors during high-smog days:

  • Try getting outside earlier in the morning and later in the evening. The best time to go outside on a high-smog day is before 12 p.m. and after 7 p.m.
  • Consider lower-intensity games and activities. If you’re a runner, try going for a walk instead. Other awesome low-intensity activities include outdoor ping-pong, foursquare, and a game of catch. Also, parks with a large amount of tree canopy are great options because trees provide purified air and great cover – so don’t be afraid to head to the park!
  • Keep an eye on the air quality. A high-smog day can be dangerous if you’re unaware. So, sign up for Smog Alerts here to stay informed on the state of the air all summer long.

What do you like to do outside in the summertime? Show us your ideas in the comments below! And don’t forget to log your clean-air outdoor activities in the AirCreds tool for points and prizes!

Got wheels? Bike to School Day is May 9!

It’s May, which means summer’s around the corner. In other words, the weather is no longer an excuse to leave those bikes in the garage. Wheel them out, dust them off, and participate in National Bike Month!

Organized by the League of American Bicyclists and partnered with the National Center for Safe Routes to School, National Bike Month includes National Bike to School Day, which is this Wednesday, May 9. That means that students all over the country will be biking to school, and you should totally be one of them.

If you live within pedaling distance of your school, biking can be easier than you think—just hop on and go! (But make sure you’ve got air in the tires. And a helmet. Seriously.)

And don’t be afraid to scout the neighborhood for bike buddies. Not sure where to start? Try these tips:

  • Meet up. Consider holding a meeting at school or in your community to find other teens in your area that could walk or bike with you to school.
  • Get details. Consider questions like these: Are there sidewalks? Any dangerous road crossings? How many are already walking or biking to school? Learning this type of information will help in getting you the tools you need to create safe routes.
  • Find A Route. Once you’ve got some good information, start mapping potential routes. Try getting some people together to walk or bike the route during free time. You can use map tools like Map-a-Route, Ride the City or even Google Maps to help plan your bike route.   
  • Finalize the Plan. Figure out who will be participating and when. Decide how often the routes will be used, who you’ll travel with, etc.

Register for National Bike to School Day here to stay connected to everyone else who will be biking on May 9. And remember, it’s National Bike Month for the entire month of May, so once you’re rolling, don’t stop! Try to bike to school throughout the rest of the month—see how many miles you can log!

And don’t forget to log your biking or walking in AirCreds for points and prizes!