New School Year? New Ways To Be Green!

Hey Guys!

Since most of you, like myself, will be starting school very soon I thought we could talk about ways to make this school year your greenest yet!

There are so many easy ways to do this, like bringing a reusable water bottle and lunchbox. Most of those things you already know about, so I thought that I should bring up some ways you may not already know!

Before we get to go to classes and see our friends we have to GET to school, right? Well, how we choose to do that makes a huge difference and has serious effects on the environment as well as one’s health. Here are some ways to make sure that your carbon footprint is lessened this year!

1) Of course the best way to avoid releasing fossil fuels is by either walking, riding a bike or skateboarding to school. Obviously, if you live really far away from school, these aren’t options for you. However, if you live pretty close to your school, this may well be a good option. Not only are these your greenest options for transportation, you will also be getting some exercise! If you choose one of these three options, make sure to be safe–watch traffic, wear safety gear, and practice the buddy system!

2) Another way to cut emission production is by riding a school or city bus. Although they may not be as “cool” as driving a car, you will have time to socialize with your peers and even potentially get some extra study time in the mornings/afternoons. Mass transit is also another way to cut your carbon emissions by two-thirds!

3) The third way to reduce your carbon emissions is by creating a carpool. Carpooling makes a lot of sense for a number of reasons. It is a time and money saver, reduces traffic congestion and pollution, and is a way to get to know your neighbors better!

So, there are several ways for you and your friends to make the most of this year by becoming more eco-friendly! Not only will the earth thank you, but you can also wrack up a bunch of points on this website by doing all of the above activities! Think about it… Why wouldn’t you want to make a positive change this year?

 

OnAir says: What’s another great reason to do all this stuff? Say it with us: AirCreds! Start earning points for your air-friendly acts today!

Rent-A-Bike

Have you heard about the newest eco-friendly thing going on in the big cities? Well, here’s a hint: rent-a-bike. That’s right! You can rent a bike from one part of the city to get to the other part and return it to its “slot”. It’s a lot like renting out a car on a trip or those shopping-car things in the malls for little kids. It’s a great idea for a step forward in helping the environment.

This mean of transportation has become popular in cities like Chicago, New York, Washington DC and Miami. Specially designed to have a little basket for briefcase and book bags in the front along with a GPS, this is one of the coolest ways to help lower air pollution.

This bicycle-sharing rental program has swept several big cities into frenzy. According to the Chicago Tribune, the federally funded program is envisioned for the public to ride the bikes on short trips of mostly 30 minutes or less, instead of taking a taxicab or a bus or, worst of all, driving.

This new way of transportation is definitely geared towards saving the environment and keeps a couple of bills in your pocket. According to Denver’s B-Cycle bike sharing program, a 4-mile bicycle trip keeps 15 pounds of pollutants out of the air that would have been emitted by a car driving the same distance. On top of that, it’s not just a great workout but a way to avoid that nasty traffic congestion. It’s more convenient, affordable and helps overcome theft and storage barriers.

This is a great idea and I hope it comes to Atlanta soon as well. As they say, one pedal forward for a man, one giant race for mankind.

Do Car Emissions Affect Your Risk of Type Two Diabetes?

Hey guys!

When we’re little, we have generally have no choice in where we have to live, which means that we can’t control what environment we are exposed to. A new study from German researches has showed that children growing up in areas where air pollution levels are high or get higher over a period of time is tied directly to raises in the risk of insulin resistance, and thus diabetes, in children. The research was published in “Diabetologia,” which is the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD).

Now, this isn’t the first time researchers have identified that there are major links between air pollution and other chronic conditions such as atherosclerosis and chronic heart disease. However, these past epidemiological studies that examined associations between long-term exposure to air pollution and type 2 diabetes in adults are inconsistent; and studies on insulin resistance in children are scarce due to the leeriness of specialists concerning research done on children.

The head of the research team, Heinrich, discussed in the article how “although toxicity differs between air pollutants, they are all considered potent oxidisers that act either directly on lipids and proteins or indirectly through the activation of intracellular oxidant pathways.” The stress produced by exposure to extreme amounts of air pollutants may in fact play a major role in the development of insulin resistance, especially in young children.

In this new study, researchers took blood samples from 397 10-year-old girls and boys in a cohort studies. Exposure to traffic-related air pollutants at their birth address were estimated by analysing a combination of emission-levels from road traffic in each of their neighborhoods, population density and land use in the area, as well as the association between air pollution and insulin resistance. This was calculated by the research team by using a model which took into account things like the socioeconomic status of each family, initial birthweight, pubertal status, second-hand smoke exposure at home, and BMI.

To quickly summarize the data for you, insulin resistance levels tended to increase with increasing air pollution exposure, and this remained high even after the adjustment for the other potential negative factors, including socioeconomic status, BMI and passive smoking.

Luckily for us, the results of this study support the notion that the development of diabetes in adults might have its origin in early life and include negative environmental exposures.

If you’re a number lover, I suggest you check out the full data here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130509184817.htm

Cleaner Cooking

Hello OnAir Readers!

This week I’d like to talk about something that I think is very important for our collective future, and is also very interesting.

Each and every one of us uses energy every single day, and I’m not just talking about physical energy which we have all learned about in biology. No, in this instance I am talking about the energy used in cooking and stoves. In a new study, universal access to modern energy (that is, modern sources of energy for everyone on the planet) can only be achieved if we invest between $65-86 billion a year, every single year until 2030. These estimates are much higher than those that came before this study found in “Environmental Research Letters.”

This amount may seem drastic, but readily available access to things like electricity, etc. seems to combat for approximately 4 million deaths annually from poor household air pollution, which is generally caused by traditional cooking practices. International research has shown that with more access to clean cooking fuels, we could easily avoid up to 1.8 million premature deaths as well as simply enhancing people’s well being. In order to do this, we would need to add between 21 and 28 gigawatts of energy in order to create the most modest amount of electricity for the average rural household.

In addition to the costs, there is a need for a new set of dedicated policies to help households ease into cooking in better and cleaner ways. However, this is no small project, and would involve over 40% of the entire world’s population.The estimated cost of this would be approximately $750-1000 billion within the next 20 years.

There are so many details and so much money involved, that even the head researcher Dr. Shonali Pachauri doesn’t fully believe that universal access to clean and modern energy is possible. In fact, she states in another interview that the scale of the investment is so enormous that it would probably require additional sources of finances from private companies. However, the benefits are equally enormous and thus we must all begin to consider whether or not these benefits out-weigh the bad.

In addition to this study with its program, the UN also declared 2012 as the “International Year of Sustainable Energy for All,” and has made their own promises for 2030. Even without the establishment of a full program, even the barest framework would bring cleaner energy to up to 810 million people around the world in rural or impoverished areas by 2030. However, millions more in rural Asia and sub-Saharan Africa would remain without access to these modern energy sources. So, the next time that you’re cooking a meal in your more-than-likely modern kitchen, be thankful!

For more information you can visit here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130502225855.htm

Going to class? Go green!

So, a lot of you will be heading off to college soon. And campus life brings tons of new experiences. But how to make those new experiences eco-friendly? Let’s start by tackling a big one: getting to class.

Dorms are so expensive. A lot of students, looking for ways  to be more economically savvy, either commute from their parents’ houses (if they’re local) or get apartments off campus.

Either way, the journey to campus usually takes a little longer. Many will opt for walking, but sometimes the apartment is too far. Sometimes it will rain. Sometimes, you’ll just be having a bad day.

We know, it’s hard. #firstworldproblems

The point is, you want to get where you’re going without hurting the environment, right? So here are some suggestions for keeping it green:

  1. Ride your bike. Especially if it’s sunny out, why wouldn’t you want to? Riding bikes is just so much fun! What if it rains and the sidewalks are too slippery for bikes, you say?…
  2. …just walk. Take an umbrella. And put on your rain boots. We promise it won’t kill you. And sometimes it’s pretty soothing to go for a relaxing walk in the rain, especially if it’s just a steady patter. However, if it’s storming…
  3. …take public transportation. Many cities–especially ones with colleges and universities–at have bus systems set up to make campus more accessible. If this isn’t the case…
  4. …bum a ride off of a friend. (The buzzword here is “carpool”.) If a car is necessary, double-up (or triple-up!) on the way. You get where you’re going, you get some social time, and you keep a couple extra pollution-spouting vehicles off the road. And while you’re bumming rides…

Have any more suggestions? What ways are you getting to campus? Do you have a plan? Let us know in a comment below!

More than Just Recycling!

When we think of saving the Earth and helping the environment, we come to a common thought: recycling paper. But did you know that recycling doesn’t necessarily mean just paper, cans/bottles and metal? There are more than 40 ways of going green other than just recycling!

Here are some interesting ways of going green:
• Don’t leave your computer plugged in! Even if it is sleeping, it’s still sucking up energy. Turn your computer off at the end of the day or better yet, use the charger sparingly.
• Look into carpooling with your friends or riding the bus home.
• Buy rechargeable batteries and dispose old batteries properly.
• Donate old newspapers to animal shelters.
• Convince your parents to use a cloth/canvas grocery bags instead of using plastic bags.
• Shop for eco-friendly beauty products! There are some great make up companies out there that support going green! Here are a few.
• Buy a new houseplant for a greener home. Here’s a list of great houseplants!
• Schedule your errands back-to-back to consolidate your trip and save gas or ride your bike or walk when possible.
• Buy used or e-books instead of new.
• Use compact fluorescent, LED or halogen bulbs instead of conventional incandescent.
• Don’t leave the sink faucet on while you’re brushing.
• Before turning on the lights in the morning or the middle of the day, open the curtains. There’s plenty of sunlight that can act as your light. While you’re at it, open up the window to allow a nice breeze of fresh air to come in instead of depending on your air conditioner.
• Buy a reusable water bottle instead of buying a plastic bottle every time.
• Make your own recycling bin from an old cardboard box!
• When you print paper, print conservatory. Start by printing front-and-back and fitting in as many document pages into one. Reuse scrap paper.
• Support green companies!
• Buy locally grown food. Foods grown from other parts of the world come here through air fright which contributes to more air pollution.
• Start your own little vegetable garden!

 

OnAir says:  Welcome to our newest blogger Bidushi! Want to blog for us?  Visit blogonair.org/apply to get the ball rolling!

What’s the deal with pollen?

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/KuA6J5

Hi OnAir Community!

It’s that time of year again… yep, it’s pollen season. Now, I know that this might not be what many of you would consider worthy of a post where we usually discuss often life threatening environmental issues, but as a girl who has awful allergies, I’m here to tell you that pollen is no joke.

Assuming most of you live in Georgia like I do, you too are experiencing the joy that is the yearly “pollen dump.” Yes, every year I, along with thousands of other Atlanta natives, dread the spring dump of yellow-y dust which then proceeds to cover everything that will stand still long enough. You can see the clouds of pollen floating like smoke or like Egyptian sand storms through the air. Sure it’s annoying, and sure it makes lots of people sneeze, but what is its deal?

Scientists account for numerous variables when it comes to measuring the levels of pollution in cities throughout the world. However, it is understandably difficult for them to identify which minute particles are which while they are all suspended in the atmosphere. According to Scientific American, the most recorded types of these particles are soot, ash, and other man-made pollutants. However, they have now started identifying plant and animal particles such as pollen, bacteria, and skin cells that make up almost a quarter of the world’s atmospheric aerosols. German scientists collected data from cities around the world and, of course, pollen levels spiked in the spring and skin cells in the winter.

What does this mean for us when pollen season rears its ugly yellow head? Well, nothing per se, but it is interesting to know! However, I do have a few tips for those of you with allergies as bad as mine:

1.) Remember you are not alone; over 35 million other Americans are downright miserable during the spring and early summer months.

2.) Stay aware of the pollen counts. You can usually find the daily count on your local weather site and even download pollen count apps to your phone!

3.) Do your best to avoid long stints outside, especially on high pollen days. Yes, the weather is gorgeous, but if your allergies are bad enough, you may have to enjoy the sun rays while wearing a face mask.

4.) Know which parts of the day are highest for pollen. Usually the time between 5 and 9 AM is when pollination occurs, so try to eliminate outside activities during this time.

5.) Avoid bringing pollen indoors by heading straight up to the shower and changing your clothes after being outside for a while.

If you’d like to read more about the study done on air particulates, Scientific American has some cool data. Breathe easy!

Good, Green, Music

Have any of you guys wondered about the stance your favorite bands and artists are taking on the environment? Do your favorite rock bands do more than just write lyrics about trees and the evils of pollution? Does your favorite singer travel exclusively in biofuel tour buses, and release her albums in biodegradable materials only?

Well just in case you’ve been wondering, the music industry has been increasing its efforts to be more environmentally friendly, an example being Warner Music Group. One of the “Big Four” of record companies, Warner Music Group has been releasing its work with DVD liner notes made of 30% recycled paper that was taken from carefully selected wood chosen by the Forest Stewardship Council. It also runs a nationwide recycling program that has found success in decreasing waste, with a total of almost 4,000,000 pounds of waste removed.

In addition to the record companies themselves going green, the artists themselves have also been increasing efforts. Reverb, a non-profit, environmentally focused Portland, Maine organization has played a huge part in this. Reverb focuses on partnering with artists and fans to make concerts and tours more eco-friendly, and to inspire people to become more invested in the environment.

Green Music Group, a project of Reverb, is made up of some very high-profile artists from The Roots to Willie Nelson that, according to their website, are aiming towards:

1. Creating an engaging online community of musicians, music industry leaders, and music fans all committed to addressing our greatest environmental concerns.
2. Facilitating large-scale greening of the music community through touring, venue, and label standards, resource development, green grants mentoring, and viral video and public service campaigns.
3. Providing environmental nonprofits with a megaphone for their cause, allowing them to expand their reach and support base.
4. Creating a sustainable green music guild to support and inform the efforts of the music community and position leaders in the music industry as voices for change, working to shine a light on the most pressing environmental issues of our time.”

From human pedal-powered concerts (!) to musicians bringing representatives from environmental organizations to their concerts to educate fans, environmental awareness is very present in the music world. Here’s a Rolling Stone article on some of the most eco-friendly bands and artists; you may be surprised by a few of them.
http://www.rollingstone.com/music/pictures/the-15-most-eco-friendly-rockers-20101216

http://blog.wegowise.com/blog2/bid/122506/Greening-the-Music-Industry-Eco-friendly-bands
http://greenmusicgroup.org/who-is-gmg/all_members/

Runnin’, Runnin’ and Runnin’, Runnin’

Over the past few months we’ve been doing our best to spread the clean air message. For all of you who have ditched your gas-guzzling cars for a chance to ride your bike, walk, skate, or carpool – we applaud you.

But we want to take things way back, to a time before the wheel. Before Fred Flinstone’s eco-friendly bedrock cruiser. What’s the healthiest, most eco-friendly way to get around? Foot power. We humans have been running for thousands of years.

Check out some of our favorite bi-pedal movie scenes.

Run, Forrest, Run – The iconic phrase that haunts all middle school track athletes. In this classic, Forrest Gump runs back and forth across the country in 3 years.

Rocky – He’s got the eye of the tiger, and he’s training hard for his big fight. In this scene, Rocky isn’t just running to get from Point A to Point B. He’s running to get to victory.

Chariots of Fire – These boys are going for a good old fashioned beach run in the opening credits of this movie. Nothing like a workout in slow motion.

Casino Royale –James Bond chases down a bomb-maker, parkour style, through a village in Madagascar. Epic

Indiana Jones – Sometimes we have to clean-commute ourselves right out of the path of those gargantuan boulders.

The Matrix – Trinity makes leaps and bounds, over buildings and through windows, in her escape from the evil agents.

Men in Black – NYPD all-star (played by Will Smith) chases down a super-speedy alien criminal.

Run Lola Run – It’s pretty much a whole movie about running…

Terminator 2 – Why are the bad guys always so fast? And persistent!

The Bourne Supremacy – Jason Bourne hits the beach for a morning workout, meanwhile his girlfriend finds out his secrets:

What are your favorites? Share them in the comments (and earn aircreds).

#ChalkBomb

Gallery

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What’s up, clean air fans? So, there’s a new thing happening in the clean air, clean environment discussion. And it started right here at OnAir. It’s the #ChalkBomb movement. Whats #ChalkBomb, you ask? It’s this cool new thing that all…read more