February 20, 2014
by Celeste Tinajero
Comments Off on “Go All In” – A vision of a 100% renewable energy Nevada

“Go All In” – A vision of a 100% renewable energy Nevada

David Gibson of GREENevada’s Envirolution recently discussed the importance of Climate change issues in northern Nevada with NCARE, a Resource for Clean Energy Information in Nevada. Read the full interview here.

Climate change demands response at all levels. In the lack of effective action internationally and nationally, arguably the boldest actions are being undertaken at the state and even at the local level. Included in these bold ideas are efforts to explore the feasibility of how states and cities, even small countries, can move to using 100% renewable energy for electrical generation. Continue Reading →

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February 13, 2014
by Celeste Tinajero
Comments Off on Idle Free Schools for Washoe County

Idle Free Schools for Washoe County

In the fall of 2013, ACE and its partners in GREENevada, with support from the Washoe County Health District Air Quality Idle Free LogoManagement Division (AQMD), launched a campaign called Idle Free Schools for Washoe County. Washoe County is the county surrounding Reno, Nevada. GREENevada is a coalition of nine non-profits and agencies providing a collaborative approach to school sustainability through comprehensive environmental education and leadership. 

What is idling?

Idling is any time your car’s engine is running, but you’re not moving. In the drive-through, at a red light and in this case: sitting outside a school with the engine on.

 Why is idling bad? Three reasons:

  1. 1.     Health: Engine idling creates air pollution, which is especially bad for kids. Kids’ lungs are still developing, they breathe faster and are closer to tailpipes than adults. Breathing air pollution can aggravate asthma and even cause cancer. No bueno.
  2. Environment: Idling emits CO2, the greenhouse gas responsible for climate change. Climate change means more heat waves, worse droughts, floods and wildfires, sea level rise. In California and Nevada, it means a smaller snowpack, which affects the water availability and economy for everyone
  3. Money: Idling your engine increases car maintenance, wastes gas and burns a hole in your pocket! What a waste. Did you know when you’re idling you get ZERO miles per hour? Ouch.

The goal of Idle Free Schools is to reduce idling by 50% at participating schools. This school year, six high schools in Washoe County are participating in Idle Free. They are:

Edward C. Reed High Schoolstudents involved in idle free

Incline High School

Sage Ridge School

Spanish Springs High School

Sparks High School

Washoe Innovations High School

 

Here’s how it works:

Schools start by monitoring how much idling is currently happening outside their schools when school gets out. Once they know this and established a baseline, schools’ Action Teams (green clubs) kick off an awareness campaign about Idle Free. This can be anything from making a public service announcement video (PSA) to making posters and handing out yummy baked goods to students and parents who pledge to go Idle Free.

Aidan&Reb with stickersNot to mention the super-cool stickers, bumper stickers and flyers that students are handing out. Big props to Aidan at Washoe Innovations High for designing the logo and huge thanks to the Washoe County Health District AQMD for supporting their purchase and the program. 

Once the school gets why idling’s no good, students go out again to monitor how much idling they’ve reduced. The school that drops its idling by the greatest percentage wins. (But everyone wins, really, if there’s less air pollution and climate change and more money in your pocket.) 

Next year, ACE and GREENevada hope to bring Idle Free to more schools in Washoe County with the goal of one day making the entire Washoe County School District an Idle Free School District!

 

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February 10, 2014
by Celeste Tinajero
Comments Off on Reed High Eco Warriors unveil hydration station

Reed High Eco Warriors unveil hydration station

Written by Omar Kamal

Omar Kamal is a student at Reed High School in Sparks, Nevada and Secretary of the Reed High Eco Warriors. After winning $3000 in the 2012 GREENevada Student Sustainability Summit and two hard years of further fund-raising and negotiating with Washoe County School District, the Eco Warriors finally unveiled their school’s first hydration station, a water bottle refilling station, complete with chiller and cool blue light that lights up while you’re filling up. Congrats to all Eco Warriors, past and present!

Every day I see classmates walk into first period wEco-Warrior-300x196ith their plastic water bottles. Because they were so cheap, each person would buy two per day. You can imagine the amount of plastic waste one person would create throughout the course of the year.

We decided that Reed High School needed a water bottle refill station to reduce Reed’s plastic waste from water bottles. On a campus of 2,000 students, many of whom drink 1 or more bottles of water a day, you can image the potential savings in plastic waste a Brita refill station would bring.

For two years we worked on getting the Brita refill station installed into the school. After applying for and not winning a grant, we were finally able to raise enough money through penny drives, bake sales and selling reusable water bottles to fellow students and teachers.

Next, we had to find a location where the Brita station could be placed. Due to the location of the pipes in our school it had to be placed in Red Hall, which is in the middle of our school, to avoid the pipes freezing and damaging the machine.

A week or so ago I was walking down Red Hall and I noticed something on the wall. To celebrate the final installation, the Reed High Eco Warriors had covered the machine with a poster for a week before an unveiling and ribbon cutting ceremony. I have to say I was very excited to finally see the refill station installed.

After the unveiling, we gave out reusable water bottles to the first people to sign a pledge and recycle an old plastic water bottle. Since then, the response has been great! In the first week I have already heard people saying that we need more of them. Hopefully with that positive reception, we will able to put even more refill stations into our school and save even more plastic!

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February 5, 2014
by Celeste Tinajero
Comments Off on The circle of life with Full Circle Compost

The circle of life with Full Circle Compost

DSC_0133Today, Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful staff toured Full Circle Compost’s composting facility at Stewart Prison in Carson City. It was amazing to learn from Craig Witt, founder of Full Circle Compost, about the science of composting and his experiments and research in creating the highest quality product. We discussed how composting is still a new concept for many people, but how awesome it would be if every home in America had a vermicompost bin, which is a bin filled with worms who aggressively assist with the decomposition process.

If you ever have the opportunity to talk composting with Craig, I highly recommend it. He is a farmer, a graduate of UNR, and has heaps (pun intended) of knowledge on the topic of composting and organic gardening. He emphasized the importance of air, water and food being critical elements in the composting process, as well as learning as much as you can about the soil before amending it with compost. He highly recommends taking a soil sample to determine the health of the soil, as well as any deficiencies. For example, in Northern Nevada, the soil is extremely high in potassium. Craig has concocted a special garden boost compost mix, which will help to achieve balance in a potassium rich soil.

AerationFull Circle Compost uses a method of composting called windrow composting, which involves long rows of screened and layered green and brown plant based materials. The windrows are turned by unique machinery designed just for this task (see photo) to bring oxygen to the pile. These piles generate heat up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (135 degrees F maintained for five days kills pathogens). Full Circle Composts maintains its windrow piles at 140 degrees F for five weeks with a CO2 level of less than 12%. The compost is ready in 10 – 12 weeks.

Full-Circle2Full Circle Compost’s website is a wealth of knowledge. This article could get really long if I tried to cover everything there is to know about this subject. I have experienced first-hand the magic in Full Circle Compost’s final product. My community garden’s tomato plants were massive last summer, thanks to compost from Full Circle. I also started a home vermicompost bin, which you can purchase from Full Circle Compost.

Composting is easy, interesting and helps us to reconnect with one of the most basic earth processes. The end result involves less waste going to the landfill, less need for toxic chemicals and fertilizers, and a healthier food system.

 

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