Beach Bliss and Words that Matter

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beach pathShelly Kaplan from Monroe N.J. has a fabulous response to “Why the Beach is a Bummer” a rant about feeling less than comfortable at the seaside by Roxane Gay (Sunday NYTimes Review, July 27th.)  Ms. Kaplan writes an eloquent retort with deep respect for the beach, ocean and its emotional benefits. She writes, ..”I feel the most sadness for the 61 percent of Americans who have never seen the ocean with their own eyes.”  She seems to want to defend what she loves, beautifully and simply. You can read the entire letter to the editor here.

I am never so peaceful as when my feet are in the sand, when the smell of the Atlantic permeates the air I breathe, and when I hear the lullaby of ocean waves.

Marine biologist Wallace J. Nichol’s new book, Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Douses neuroscience to explain the benefits of the ocean. A review here by The Guardian, addresses the naysayers like Ms. Gay; “Anyone whose experience of the sea is limited to grey skies and the indignity of wriggling into a damp bathing suit on a rain-swept beach might well balk at such utopian talk.” For the rest of us, we love that Blue Mind gives us some science to explain what we already know.

 

The Island Blue Pages. A “Phonebook” for Conservation

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DSCN4570Like most beach communities, Martha’s Vineyards population swells in the summer. Renters descend and take advantage of MV’s beautiful setting.  “Seasonal residents and tourists flock to the Island to bask and hike on its beaches, swim in its waters, catch and eat local fish and shellfish, and go boating on its sparkling bays”, reads The Island Blue Pages, a “phonebook” published by concerned locals wanting to education everyone on the Island about this vulnerable treasure. The Island Blue Pages is only a phonebook in such that every household on the Island received one free, with hopes that it would remain a guide for year round residents and everyone visiting the Island. Yes, there is a list of phone numbers in its reference material, but mostly the book is a wonderful guide to the islands watersheds, sound water usage, and waste management. It even includes a “12 Step” program for “Dream Lawn Addicts” that guides homeowners and business to make smart pesticide free, water conscience lawn care choices.

The idea for The Island Blue Pages ruminated in biologist and director of Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group Inc. Rick Karney’s mind for years. Each time he visited a hatchery or community near water, he picked up packets of information regarding best practices for the community around water usage and sustainable living. It was the Puget Sound Blue Pages that stood out as the most comprehensive and user friendly of any of the publications that he had seen. With funding through an EPA grant awarded to the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) and keen editing by Amandine Surier from Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group, The Island Blue Pages relied on local full time residence of the Vineyard to author each chapter making this a true community conservation effort.

Amandine Surier and Rick Karney

Amandine Surier and Rick Karney

The unique layout of The Island Blue Pages appeals to all ages.  The graphic are simple enough to engage a child but not “kid-ish” enough to turn off a teen. The layout is easy to navigate and engaging with enough science to satisfy the well versed hobby conservationist.  The Island Blue Pages is tailored to Martha’s Vineyard specifically by including local stories and maps, but any community could adapt a version to represent its own environmental concerns.Graphic from The Island Blue Pages

This wonderful reference book with tips on gardening, septic tanks, and boating includes a section about marine animals called “Vineyard Neighbor.” It should be poured over, updated regularly and passed from generation to generation.

Graphic from Island Blue Pages

“Together We Can Protect Our Ocean.”

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World Ocean Day, a Canadian tradition since 1992, was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2008, to honor the oceans importance and bring awareness to its vulnerabilities.  Coordinated by The Ocean Project and World Ocean Network, (and growing in prominence each year with their efforts,)  this year’s theme is “Together we can protect our ocean.” 

Come on down to the New England Aquarium on World Ocean Day, June 8th, and share memories of your favorite oceans experiences and adventures with W2O. Check out the fun, kid friendly, educational booths set up by the NEAQ-it is free and open to the public.WOD 13 "I love the Ocean"

Spring Gardening, Watersheds and Our Ocean’s Health

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This time of year, some of us that live in urban areas are enjoying spring preparations for our garden and lawns. With this privilege comes responsibility to our blue planet.

Photo: thegardeningblog.com

Photo: thegardeningblog.com

Run off from our lawn flows directly into what Tufts University’s Institute of the Environment calls the “three giant watersheds” comprising of streams, rivers and lakes that flow into the sea: “Watersheds can be nested one inside the other. For example, the United States could be divided into three giant watersheds: one to the west of the Rocky Mountains that drains into the Pacific Ocean, one to the east of the Appalachian Mountains that drains into the Atlantic Ocean, and one in between those two that drains into the Gulf of Mexico. However, within each one of these watersheds, there are many watersheds that drain into rivers and smaller bodies of water.”

So what are your plans for a healthy beautiful, pesticide free garden this spring? On her website for the Great Healthy Yard Project,  Dr. Diane Lewis explains why using pesticides can be bad for our own health as well as the health of our wildlife, planet and oceans. Read her blog, listen to her mission and take The Pledge to garden pesticide free because, as she states, it’s “Our yards, our children, our responsibility.” Protect what you love. Garden pesticide free for healthy oceans and a healthy you.

 

 

“Ahh, Earth-every Day!!”

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Celine Cousteau tweeted  yesterday, Earth Day, (and it is one of those rare tweets that stay in your head because she, as usual, just nails it),””Ahh, Earth-every Day!!” I see it as a call to really appreciate, take a long look around, reflect gratefully and step up to the plate with some action.

Gina McCarthy, US EPA Administrator, also gave us a live sound bite that resonates still; “Your turn, your turn, pick it up!” She was encouraging the ClimaTeens, a group of Boston area teens, volunteering and learning at the New England Aquarium, that have been taking action and will encourage the community “to join a citywide effort to reduce carbon emissions called Greenovate Boston”.

ClimaTeens at the New England Aquarium

ClimaTeens at the New England Aquarium

 

Yes, every day should be earth day…”Ahh, Earth-every Day!!” sounds about right… and it is your turn!  Take some action!

 

 

W2O emPowered and Searching for Hope in the Data

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A collective sigh could be heard from W2O when the U.N. Climate Panel published their findings today. At first glance, it seems like the same old doom and gloom story. It might be easy to throw up our hands and feel helpless when the news is so dire about what is referred to in a New York Times summation of the findings as “the profound risks in coming decades.”  But the article also offers hope, “Not only is there still time to head off the worst, but the political will to do so seems to be rising around the world.”

At W2O’s recent event Women emPowered: Leading the Future of Clean and Efficient Energy at the New England Aquarium, our assembled experts echoed feeling hopeful about energy options and about how we can be a part of the growing moment to protect our planet, oceans and health by educating others about how to curb emissions.

“Think about how over air conditioned your office is, how cold your hotel room is when checking in on a hot day and lights your kids-or you-don’t bother turning off. Energy efficiency is about the supply we can avoid buying,” according to Massachusetts Dept. of Utilities Chair Ann Berwick.

And women are at the center of that hope. “Women are driving the choices. They are the decision makers,” Tom King, Executive Dir. and President of National Grid USA offered. Home energy usage is one of the leading contributors to climate change. “But if you don’t know how much energy you are using”, commented Kateri Callahan, President of the Alliance to Save Energy, “how can you make a change?”  Signing up for an energy audit to find out your energy usage might be a good place to start because, according to This Old House’s Kevin O’Connor, “customers care about cost, comfort and convenience.”    Says Callahan, “Legislation for climate change may not be soon but the sweet spot on the hill is energy efficiency.”  Callahan recommends taking further action by writing in favor of the Shaheen-Portman energy bill which supports investment for innovative energy efficient solutions.

Ann Berwick wants us to take a closer, more analytical look at the data that tells us that hope lies in renewable energy sources. Her slide, included here, focuses on off shore wind because “although it comes with enormous challenges, and is expensive-no getting away from that- its nowhere near as expensive as the failure to address climate change. It is scalable to an extent that other renewable resources simply are not”. The Wall Street Journal quotes the Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rajendra Pachauri, as saying “Analyzing the costs and benefits of mitigation is a “complicated question,” but warned against putting a dollar value on the loss of human lives, ecosystems, oceans and marine life threatened by climate change. “The affordability question has to be seen in what will happen if we don’t take these steps,” Mr. Pachauri said.

Ann Berwick concluded at our event; “Given the current state of technology, no renewable resource can match off shore wind in terms of the potential size of the suppy and accessibility-right off our coast. It’s expensive, but it’s pay now or pay a lot more later.”

Take Action!

Kevin O'Connor, Kateri Callahan, Tom King and Ann Berwick (photo: David Parnes)

Kevin O’Connor, Kateri Callahan, Tom King and Ann Berwick (photo: David Parnes)

 

 

Connecting the dots on Climate Change

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Photo of flooding in Bangladesh courtesy of The Melbourne Age

Photo of flooding in Bangladesh courtesy of The Melbourne Age

Climate Change is in the news every day. It means different things to different people.  Here in New England, it means that we are concerned about the rising water temperature and the melting of the polar ice caps causing flooding of our coastal cities and properties. In some parts of the rest of the world it means so much more. The rising temperature of the earth and oceans is caused by human’s burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas) that emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere “thickening” the blanket of heat trapping gases that in turn warm the planet. It is expected that these warming earth and ocean temperatures will most precipitously hurt the poorest of nations.  Today’s New York Times article, talks about Bangladesh in particular that “produces just 0.3 percent of the emissions driving climate change.”  Bangladesh and other developing nations in coastal areas will lose their homes completely, forcing them to relocate and are referred in the article as “climate migrants.”  Connecting the dots on climate change is pretty easy. The United States and other wealthy nations are the largest polluters and contributors of climate change. We have a responsibility to curb our own emissions for the future and health of all nations.

Next week, W2O will host, along with the New England Aquarium, Women emPowered: Leading the future of clean and efficient energy. Come learn about what you can do in your own home and workplace to curb harmful emissions that contribute to this global issue. Every action, big or small can help. 

Kevin O’Connor recommends not being “Bamboozled”

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Kevin Connor courtesy of This Old House

courtesy of This Old House

 

Kevin O’Connor, host of This Old House, thinks seriously about customer satisfaction. When it come to contractors suggesting fancy ways to save on energy costs, he worries about big promises that are under delivered. “People want home energy efficient options that are easy to obtain, economical and bring results. Suggestions for energy efficient upgrades should be practical, feasible solutions.  The worst thing is when clients are bamboozled into buying something that is expensive and doesn’t live up to expectations,” says O’Connor

Don’t be bamboozled! Come hear Kevin at W2O’s April 8th event Women emPowered: Leading the future of clean and efficient energy and hear how you can easily and affordably  curb emissions that contribute to climate change by making some smart, energy saving choices in your home.  Every small change makes a big different to our health and the health of our oceans!

 

Home Energy Audits-Because on our Blue Planet “There’s No Place Like Home”

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courtesy of Mass Save

courtesy of Mass Save

 

“There’s no place like home” according to Dorothy. We paint, decorate, and renovate because it is where we spent most of our time with family, friends, and each other.  But emissions from our homes are contributing to human- induced climate change which in turn is hurting our ultimate home-our oceans and planet.

 

So how might we be more earth friendly starting right where we live? One way to think about how to curb your emissions by signing up for a free home energy audit.

“Energy efficiency is getting the most from using the least” according to Mass Save, the company that partners with utility providers to coordinate free home energy audits in Massachusetts. Have you had a Home Energy Audit? Everyone is talking about them but are you  unsure of what one is; or maybe you wonder whether or not you need one or have the time or funds to address any of the suggested changes. Some of the good reasons to sign up for a free audit include managing your costs (there are rebates!!!); increasing the safety, comfort and value of your home; and  (W2O’s favorite)  protecting and conserving energy while protecting our blue planet.

The Mass Save website is easy to use and includes a very thoughtful YouTube presentation about what to expect when choosing to have an audit. (The gentleman that did my audit did not look like the presenter in the video, but he was professional, personable and full of information). Energy tips I received ranged from changing a simple set of lightbulbs to insulating my roof. Whether big or small, armed with the possibilities, every effort makes a difference. Come to W2O’s April 8th event “Women emPowered: Leading the Future of Clean and Efficient Energy” and learn more!

 

Home Energy Assessments

Mass Save® Rebates and Incentives

Available rebates and incentives may include:

  • 75% up to $2000 toward the installation of approved insulation improvements
  • No-cost targeted air sealing
  • Generous rebates on qualifying energy-efficient heating and hot water heating equipment
  • The opportunity to apply for 0% financing for eligible measures through the HEAT loan program
  • And more!