Scooter commuters are cuter

Expensive gas = tighter budget. Tighter budget = looking for ways to cut spending. Ways to cut spending = driving less. I always knew all that math I took in high school and college would come in handy someday.

Alternative commutes are on the rise. To reward those of you making a lifestyle change (whether it’s financially or environmentally motivated, it’s still good), Live Green Cincinnati is dedicating some new slogans to you.

Hooray to you, alternative commuters. Keep up the good work!

Your ideas make the city greener

Metro has introduced a lot of inventive and successful programs over the past year or so including wi-fi, the online trip planner, and free rides for college students.  There’s more to look forward to as well.  Metro is asking for your opinions and ideas on their service.  Take the online survey here.

If you haven’t already, please take the Live Green Cincinnati survey as well.  Remember that we are donating 50 cents for each completed survey to the Cincinnati Parks Foundation.  Thanks!

Stretch your gas to the absolute limit

Want to learn some driving habits that can maximize your miles per gallon? Join the next Northern Kentucky Hypermiling club this weekend. At the last meeting, one driver won the MPG contest in a Prius by attaining 175 MPG on a trial course.

All are welcome! Check out the details on our Live Green Cincinnati events page.

Downtown dogs get their day in the sun

Plans for a downtown dog recreation area are in full swing. This is a great green move for the city because it makes living in a dense urban area a bit easier and more enjoyable for pet owners. There is no reason you should have to live in a house with a large yard to keep a dog happy. Besides, green space in the urban core is always a good idea to help reduce the urban heat island effect and improve absorption of storm water to prevent sewer overflow. Click on the image below to see a larger version of the proposed layout of the plan, which will lie behind the parking desert at the corner of Eggleston and Reedy.

This past weekend a dog recreation area fund raiser challenged urban pets to show their stuff. The “best kisser” and “best trick” competitions were particularly entertaining.

Guinness with owner Susan Griffiths

This obedient Pomeranian did not win for his talent, but made all the women in the crowd exclaim “awww”.

Great work by all involved in the Downtown Residents Council, city, and Cincinnati Parks, to get this project moving forward.

Ohio poised for “green collar” job growth

Ohio is ripe with opportunity to increase the number of jobs available in environmental industries. Soapbox Cincinnati quotes a report suggesting that 550,000 workers in Ohio could see the pay raises and job growth in environmentally-friendly industries. Coming shortly after an announcement of a GM plant closing in Moraine Ohio, the transition to green jobs can’t come fast enough.

If effort is invested to turn that plant from an SUV creator to a hybrid-electric car creator, a wind turbine manufacturer, or another type of alternative energy manufacturer, the workers can use their already honed skill sets to create a new type of product. A product where demand is increasing, industry is growing, and the door of opportunity is opening instead of closing.

Save a manufacturing facility, save jobs, save a town, grow the business, fill a need. This is a solution Ohio can use.

The Green Partnership for Greater Cincinnati

Five large and influential Cincinnati institutions are joining together to form the new Green Partnership for Greater Cincinnati.

The City of Cincinnati, Hamilton County Commissioners, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Public Schools and Duke Energy are promising to work together to share working ideas and to encourage more and greater efforts toward sustainability around the city.

Today at 3pm, the Green Partnership for Greater Cincinnati is holding a kickoff event at Eden Park near the bank of solar panels. Rumor has is that Mayor Mallory will arrive in an electric car.

Want to attend? Details for the event from the release:

On June 30th 2008 the City of Cincinnati, the Hamilton County Commissioners, the University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Public Schools and Duke Energy Ohio will announce the Green Partnership for Greater Cincinnati (GPGC), a new collaboration to share best practices and encourage the adoption and implementation of environmentally friendly policies by the partners. The Green Partnership (which has been in the planning stages for over a year) will hold a public launch Monday June 30, 2008 at 3PM in front of the solar panels at the Cincinnati Parks Administration Building at 950 Eden Park Drive (look for the tent).

Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory, Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune, UC President Nancy Zimpher, CPS Superintendent Rosa Blackwell and Duke Energy Ohio President Sandra Meyer will arrive at the launch site in a fleet of electric cars, in a demonstration of their commitment to the partnership and its goals. (Several of these cars may be seen for the first time in Cincinnati!)

Together the GPGC partners employ and educate tens of thousands of people, operate thousands of buildings and motor vehicles, and manage tens of thousands of acres of land. All five institutions already engage in a broad range of environmental programs, and each institution has specific expertise and resources in such areas as education, energy efficiency and recycling. GPGC has formed project teams comprised of employees from all of the partners to address eight priorities that will increase the sustainability of the partner organizations. These priorities are:

· Communication and outreach

· Comprehensive recycling initiative

· Green buildings and energy use reduction

· Use of mass transit and alternative transportation options

· Environmentally preferred purchasing

· Comprehensive environmental education

· Fleet vehicle options

· Land and water management best practices

Each team will develop specific projects to be implemented over the next 1-3 years. These projects will apply directly to the operations, programs and facilities owned and managed by the partner institutions. More than 100 people from the partner organizations helped set the project agenda and develop the specific team objectives to be shared at the partnership launch.

See you there!

Save money at the grocer with your own bags

The paper versus plastic debate can be superseded when you utilize a reusable bag. Using small “stuffable” tote bags like the ChicoBag and Envirosax (both available at Park+Vine) makes it easier - just stuff one in your purse, bike bag, backpack, briefcase, or glove compartment so you’ll have it when you need it.

I gave my mom two spring colored ChicoBags for mothers’ day in May. A week after, she called me to share a story of her first public ChicoBag experience. With the clever little carabiner that is attached to the ChicoBag, she could clip them to her purse so she’d have them at the ready. After work she made a stop at the drug store to get a few of the things on her shopping list. When she made it to the checkout line, she told the cashier that she didn’t need a bag and proceeded to baffle and amaze both the cashier and everyone in line by unclipping, unstuffing, and right-side-outing her reusable shopping bag like magic. After a stalled pause and an awkward silence she added, “my daughter tells me that I need to reduce my environmental footprint.” Interestingly enough, that stirred nods of understanding from the cashier and the other moms in the checkout line. So the experience was memorable, but not traumatic. Happily for me, she enjoys saving a bag and will continue to use it.

Similarly, I remembered to bring a sackful of reusable bags to the grocery this week. I expected the mixture of bags from my gift with a subscription to Martha Stewart magazine, a Star Wars convention, a small corner store in Montreal, and a few other random places to be received with confusion. Not so!

To my surprise, the cashier at Kroger not only knew to use my bags without asking, she also immediately credited 5 cents per bag to my bill. I saved 30 cents from my food purchase and six bags worth of trees or petroleum. Not bad for one visit.

It just goes to show that local stores are getting used to people bringing their own bag. Two years ago when I brought my own bag to a store, it felt a lot less comfortable to use them and in some instances caused a few stares. Now at some places like Findlay Market, you hardly see anyone accepting a disposable plastic shopping bag from a vendor. Change is happening because of us, keep up the good work!

Home Depot collects your used CFLs

Been wondering where to recycle your burned-out CFL light bulbs?

Home Depot has started a program to recycle them. You can find out more about the program on the Home Depot web site.

Remember, don’t recycle a broken CFL bulb. If you’ve broken a CFL, follow the EPA guidelines for cleanup and disposal. They contain trace amounts of mercury and should be disposed of properly.

If this all sounds daunting, remember that CFL technology saves you money and is a stop-gap measure until incredibly efficient and long-lasting LED light bulbs become widely available and reasonably priced in a few years. Until then, handle your CFLs with care and save green!

Window air conditioner trade-in this weekend

The first project of the recently passed Cincinnati Climate Protection Action Plan is happening this weekend. If the heat is on in your house, this one is meant for you!

Have a crummy older window air conditioning unit? Take it to the Best Buy in Tri-County to trade for a recycled future in exchange for a $50 credit towards an EnergyStar qualified window air conditioner. The program is this weekend only, act now!

Here are the details from the press release:

City of Cincinnati, Duke Energy, and Best Buy Partner to

Offer Energy Efficient Room Air Conditioner Deal

First project from the recently passed Green Cincinnati Plan

Cincinnati - The City of Cincinnati, Duke Energy, and Best Buy are teaming up to offer citizens the opportunity to trade in their old inefficient room air conditioners and receive a $50 rebate instant rebate for a new high efficiency room air conditioner at Best Buy. The trade-in program will be at the Best Buy at Tri-County Mall on Saturday, June 28, and Sunday, June 29. The program is the first example of how the Mayor’s Green Cincinnati Plan will help citizens save money on their utility bills.

“I want to thank Duke Energy and Best Buy for partnering with the City to help people make their homes more energy efficient,” Mayor Mallory said. “The Green Cincinnati Plan will continue to develop partnerships that will help citizens save money and improve the environment.”

To participate, bring your old inefficient air conditioner to the Best Buy at 865 E Kemper Rd, Springdale, OH 45246. The old air conditioners will be collected in the parking lot. Citizens will fill out a rebate form and receive either a $15 gift card to Best Buy or a $50 instant rebate if they choose to buy a new high efficiency ENERGY STAR qualified room air conditioner. There is a limit of three recycled air conditioners per household. The promotion runs from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm Saturday and 11:00 pm to 6:00 pm on Sunday.

“The Green Cincinnati Plan encourages residents to make their homes more energy efficient because it saves energy, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and saves money,” said Larry Falkin, Director of the Cincinnati Office of Environmental Quality. “Buying EnergyStar appliances is an easy way of knowing that you are making a wise decision, and this trade in program makes it an even better deal.”

Using a high efficiency ENERGY STAR qualified room air conditioner instead of a regular air conditioner will cut your cooling costs by 10 percent. This is equal to about $64 in savings over the lifetime of the unit. Products that have the ENERGY STAR have met strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy and have been tested as the most energy efficient products on the market.

The air conditioner turn-in program is part of Duke Energy’s commitment to increase the use of energy efficiency as an environmentally friendly way to meet the demand for energy from residents and businesses. Duke Energy Ohio’s energy efficiency programs are available to both residential and non-residential customers and include rebates on energy efficient appliances and lighting and other programs to help customers manage their energy use. Sandra Meyer, President of Duke Energy Ohio, was active in helping the City develop the Green Cincinnati Plan as part of the company’s efforts to support sustainable communities.

The turned-in air conditioner will be collected and safely recycled by Rumpke.

Ideas to reduce Cincinnati driving

Carol Coletta of Smart City was recently the guest blogger on the Soapbox Cincinnati website. Her second post mentioned that a huge way to decrease pollution and climate change in a city is to reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT). The average individual currently drives 12,000 miles per year. Carol suggests that an ideal goal for VMT in a modern city is 3,900 miles per year.

But what can be done to create an adequate incentive to encourage Cincinnatians to reduce their annual automobile driving miles by more than two-thirds?

An effort of this magnitude would have to be powerfully supported and encompass the participation of the entire county. We have a few ideas to start the brainstorming:

  1. Massive contests. Perhaps the government can ask individuals to register their current odometer numbers in conjunction with renewing your auto tags. When your annual renewal comes up the next year, turn in your new mileage counter and be entered into a drawing to win a gas card. Any individual who drives 5000 miles or less in that one year is entered to win a new (highly fuel-efficient) car.
  2. Tiered individual incentives. Individuals who wish to participate agree to visit an official booth once every 6 months to have their odometer mileage recorded. For each visit that you reduce your annual VMT or stay below the 5000 annual miles threshold, you receive a gift (Reds tickets, gas card, free vanity plate, or a donation made in your name to Ohio Wildlife). If after 3 years you have reduced your VMT by 2/3, you are entered into a drawing to win a major prize (a new fuel efficient car, a $5000 tax credit, or a free bus pass for life).

Any other ideas?