Sunday, Aug. 26, 2007
Getting greener starts at home
AUG. 26, 2007 - - After spending a week in 11 states over
the last week talking about environmental policy ideas, it's
pretty clear that Southerners are interested in being greener.
In Chapel Hill, N.C., schools incorporate cisterns to hold
rainwater collected from roofs. The "gray water"
is used to flush toilets and irrigate school property. The
school saves about 2,000 gallons of treated municipal water
In Kentucky, Arkansas and elsewhere, universities are constructing
major buildings to green standards to save energy and create
efficiencies. The University of South Carolina, which has
the world's largest green dorm, is saving thousands of dollars
a year in energy and water costs through green design.
With gas prices at $3 per gallon in some parts of the South,
folks seem more open than ever before to fresh ideas that
can save energy and money. Some of these ideas require big
policy shifts by state and local leaders. But there are a
host of practical things that anybody can do to get greener.
Many of these ideas for households are outlined in a chapter
of a new book, Getting Greener: Progressive Environmental
Ideas for the American South. (You can access this online
for free at: www.GettingGreener.info).
Among the ideas:
- Change bulbs. Changing just 15 regular incandescent
bulbs to fluorescent bulbs will save a ton of carbon emissions
a year. Over the last couple of years, the cost of fluorescent
bulbs has dropped dramatically. And since they last several
times longer than regular light bulbs, they pay for themselves
Conserve water. Because today's detergents and washing
machines clean clothes effectively in cold or warm water,
you can save energy by using less hot water. Also, replacing
leaky toilets can save 200 gallons of water a day. Low-flow
toilets use 1.6 gallons per flush, compared to 3.5 gallons
to 8 gallons for toilets built 15 years ago.
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- Eat locally. Most food in the United States travels
an average of 1,500 miles from farm to table, according
to research. If you're able to buy food grown locally (or
grow your own), you can help cut down on expensive food
- Be smarter about driving. By combining errands,
being a smoother driver and keeping your car in tune, you'll
be a more efficient driver. If you trade an SUV for a hybrid
or better-performing vehicle, those $3 gallons of gas won't
hurt as much.
- Conduct an energy audit. Homes and buildings in
the United States account for more than 70 percent of electricity
usage and almost 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
There are numerous online tools available to help you conduct
an energy audit of your house to help you identify ways
you can save energy. Experts say you might be able to cut
yearly heating and cooling costs per year by up to 40 percent
by implementing audit recommendations. Additionally, you
might be able to reduce your home's carbon gas emissions
by up to 11,000 pounds a year.
- Plant trees. Trees absorb carbon and give off oxygen.
If every family in the US planted one tree, sources indicate
that a billion pounds of carbon dioxide would be absorbed
and not released into the atmosphere.
- Buy energy efficient appliances. If you buy more
efficient air conditioners, water heaters, DVD players or
other appliances, there will be a significant drop in energy
usage. The book highlights how up to 10 new power plants
wouldn't have to be built in the South if every Southern
states adopted appliance efficiency standards.
Bottom line: It's not terribly hard to be greener because
there are numerous things you can do that save energy and
money without dramatically impacting your day-to-day routine.
Governments have a major role to play in reshaping the South
to be greener. But if everybody does just a little bit to
conserve energy and cut down on greenhouse gases - without
major impacts on the quality of their daily lives - the South
would become a greener place.
Andy Brack, publisher of Statehouse Report,
also chairs the Center for a Better South. He can be reached
Santa Elena was
Spanish outpost in South Carolina
in April 1566 by Pedro Menendez de Aviles on present-day Parris
Island, Santa Elena was the northernmost settlement of the
Spanish province of La Florida. At that time, La Florida in
theory extended from the Florida Keys north to Newfoundland.
Spaniards had used the name "Santa Elena" for the
area around Port Royal Sound south to Tybee Island, Georgia,
since 1526, when Lucas Vazquez de Ayllon's expedition explored
these lands on August 18, the feast day of St. Helena, mother
of the emperor Constantine. Fear that the French would claim
the excellent harbor at Port Royal Sound led Menendez to the
Parris Island site, where in 1562 Captain Jean Ribault had
built the short-lived Charlesfort in the name of France's
Santa Elena was the capital of La Florida for much of its
first 10 years, during which time the growing settlement conducted
political and religious outreach to the native population
of a broad region. As part of these interactions, the Spaniards
also sought to extract food and labor from the Indians for
this growing colony, which chronically faced supply shortages.
... The Spaniards' demands on the Indians grew as families
arrived in the town, beginning with a 1569 expedition of nearly
200 colonists. War with the Orista, Guale and Escamazu tribes
eclipsed internal squabbles in 1576, as these peoples -- angered
by years of Spanish demands and abuses -- united to drive
the Spaniards from their lands.
Statehouse Report has partnered with USC
Press to provide readers with an interesting weekly
historical excerpt about the state. Each excerpt, which
is used with permission and not for republication, is
taken from The
South Carolina Encyclopedia, a 1,077-page book
published in 2006 with entries by almost 600 contributors
and edited by noted historian Walter Edgar. We hope
you enjoy this new feature.
Indians destroyed Santa Elena in 1576, but one year later,
Spaniards rebuilt there by order of their king, who feared
that the French would learn of their absence and occupy this
site. Santa Elena again became a thriving community -- albeit
one supported by the Spanish crown -- when Philip II ordered
the town's abandonment following Sir Francis Drake's 1586
raid on the new capital of St. Augustine. The Spanish destroyed
the fort in 1587 and relocated its inhabitants to St. Augustine.
In 1979, the archaeologist Stanley South verified that Parris
Island was Santa Elena's location and since then he and others
have conducted extensive excavations.
-- Entry by Karen L. Paar, The
South Carolina Encyclopedia
Another great cartoon by Bill McLemore:
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