Environmental News Roundup – October 28, 2015

Beautifying Your Yard for Healthy Streams – Residential Rain Gardens

Image from www.laurensgardenservice.com

Rain gardens are an attractive landscape features that allows rain water and melted snow to be infiltrated into the ground. Additionally, rain gardens slows the flow of water, which prevents pollutants from reaching streams, rivers, and drinking water. On Saturday, November 7, 2015 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., the Providence Community Center is holding a free workshop on how to locate, design, construct, and maintain a rain garden. The Providence Community Center is located at 3001 Vaden Drive, Fairfax, VA 22031. To register, email awinquist@arlingtonva.us.

REI is closing on Black Friday

REI, an outdoor and sporting goods retail store is closing 143 stores on Black Friday. REI is encouraging people to enjoy the outdoors instead being cooped up in crowded stores, tackling down sales. Come and join them.

10 of the cutest endangered species

There are many endangered species, but there are some that are really cute, that it makes your eyes widen and heart melt in joy. Below are the 10 of the cutest endangered species.

sand cat kitten

  1. Pileated gibbons

  2. Mexican axolotls

  3. Black-footed ferrets

  4. Amur leopards

  5. Pygmy hippos

  6. Sand cats

  7. Egyptian tortoises

  8. Sea otters

  9. Slow Loris

  10. Fennec foxes


Environmental News Roundup – October 21, 2015

HRN Image (1)

Mom’s Organic Market Herndon Grand Reopening 

Join us for the Grand Re-Opening of Mom’s Organic Market in Herndon, featuring local tastings, henna art and more.

Clean Fairfax is pleased to be in attendance at the grand re-opening of Mom’s Organic Market in Herndon, VA. There will be a Naked Lunch – an all organic eatery featuring soups, bowls and raw juices! Come by and do some grocery shopping, try the local tastings, henna art, and much more. 5% of Grand Re-Opening sales will be donated to Clean Fairfax.

If you would like to volunteer, please send an email to cfc@cleanfairfax.org. We could use a few extra pair of hands, and we have fun things planned throughout the day.

Friday October 23 3 p.m.-6 p.m.

Saturday Oct 24 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Sunday October 25 12 p.m.-3 p.m.

While schools are spending more on local food, it still makes up only a small portion of the average school meal. Here, a chicken salad at the cafeteria at Draper Middle School in Rotterdam, N.Y., in 2012.

As Schools Buy More Local Food, Kids Throw Less Food In The Trash

As hungry children stand in line each day for lunch, many school districts across the country are making an effort to serve food that was grown locally. When there was an increase of local food being served, the children ate more healthy meals and threw less food in the trash. Washington, D.C. school districts has been promoting this effort. Other schools across the U.S. are also following this route as well.

Image from www.ipfw.edu

Northern Virginia Conservation Trust (NVCT) Photography Competition 

Do you love taking pictures, the environment, and wildlife? NVCT is holding a Second Annual Nearby Nature Photography Competition. Up to five photos can be submitted. The deadline is on midnight November 2, 2015. The winners will be announced in mid-November, and prizes will be from local businesses and organizations. Additionally, the winning photos will be included in the next edition of the Stewardship Connection, NVCT’s website, Facebook page, and other NVCT publications. More information can be found here.


Solar-Powered Glowing Bicycle Path In Netherlands Inspired By Van Gogh’s Starry Night 

Daan Roosegaarde, a Dutch artist and designer has created a stunning glowing bike bath. At night, it is illuminated by glowing pebbles and LEDs, which resembles Van Gogh’s famous Starry Night painting.

The path was created using glow-in-the-dark technology and solar-powered LEDs. The glowing path assists bicyclists stay on track when they ride on night. Similar beautiful environmental glowing paths are also in some parts of the U.K. This might be a new trend that catches on other parts of the world.


Environmental News Roundup – October 14, 2015

Big Apple-based BigFarms growing greenhouse in Culpeper

BrightFarms, a greenhouse aquaponics developer, has opened its doors to the public in Culpepper County, Virginia. This project has increased the production of local produce and 24 new jobs. Most of our produce comes from California, Florida, Arizona, Mexico, and Canada. This causes the price and travel time of the produce to increase, and the quality to decline. In addition to the aquaponics system, there are interior beehives that assist with the pollination. Since this new project is local to Virginia, D.C., and Maryland, it cuts the time and cost of transportation, while growing produce that is free of pesticides and GMOs.

Johnie Forte, Jr. Memorial Environmental Education Grant 

The Johnie Forte, Jr. Memorial Environmental Education Grant is open to all Fairfax County Public and Private Schools, clubs, and programs that reside in schools. Fairfax County Schools and environmental clubs can earn a grant of $250-$500 to carry out their environmental projects involving sustainability initiatives, littler prevention and control, recycling, reuse, composting etc.  

All requests must include an itemized budget. Additionally, they need to be completed by the end of the school year, unless more time is specifically requested. Projects which are awarded grants are invited, but not required to present their program results at SpringFest 2015.

*This grant is sponsored by Clean Fairfax and Fairfax County Recycling Program. 

Lexus Made A Cardboard Car That Actually Drives

Recently, Lexus reviled a car that is made out of cardboard, and runs on an electric engine. Over the steel and aluminum frame, the car included 1,700 recyclable sheets of cardboard. The team consisted of five people. Together, they came up with the digital design, modeling, laser cutting, and assembly. The car was on display at the Grand Designs Live event in England.  

People Power and Solar Lights Go on in Yirca. 9 Oct, 2015 © Umut Vedat / Greenpeace

Two tales of one village

Last October, Yirca, Turkey went through a devastation of may olive trees from a coal company. Late last year, officials declared in court that the destruction of olive groves illegal. In the same village, GreenPeace has installed solar panels electricity systems in the village’s school, mosque, and cemetery. Moving away from the dependency of fossil fuel, now the village can use renewable energy powered from the sun. The installation of the solar panels included the village’s school, mosque, and cemetery. With the help of local people, volunteers from eight different countries, and GreenPeace, the residents from Yirca can enjoy renewable solar energy, and remove dependency from coal.       


Environmental News Roundup – October 7, 2015

Mom’s Organic Market Grand Re-Opening  

Clean Fairfax is pleased to be in attendance at the grand re-opening of Mom’s Organic Market in Herndon, VA. If you would like to volunteer, please send an email to cfc@cleanfairfax.org. We could use a few extra pair of hands, and we have fun things planned throughout the day.  

  • Friday October 23  3 p.m.-6 p.m. 

  • Saturday Oct 24 9 a.m.-12 p.m., and 12 p.m.-3 p.m.  

  • Sunday October 25 12 p.m.-3 p.m.

Detroit Zoo no longer sells bottled water

The Detroit Zoo will no longer sell bottle water. Instead, visitors will have to bring their own containers and fill them up at one of the 20 filtered water stations. Another option is that they can buy a reusable bottles with the zoo’s logo. This change was made into effect for environmentally friendly reasons. Additionally, the zoo has installed several rain barrels, for landscape irrigation. For the water recirculation program, 101/2 million gallons of water are used annually by the zoo.      

spotted wren babbler

Hundreds of New Species Discovered in the Easter Himalayan Region  

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), there has been over 200 new species discovered in the Eastern Himalayas, including a sneezing monkey and a a walking fish. The Eastern Himalayas is the most biologically diverse places on earth. Unfortunately, only 25% of the original habitats remain intact, and hundreds of species are considered to be threatened. Climate change, deforestation, overgrazing, poaching, wildlife trade, mining, and pollution are the underlying causes for this issue. WWF is working with countries in the Eastern Himalayas for a green economy and value ecosystem for many people in that region. Additionally, WWF promotes collaboration with the people in the region, in order to live sustainably with nature.     



Environmental News Roundup – September 30, 2015

Nature Works Everywhere Garden Grants

 During the 2015-2016 school year, The Nature Works Everywhere program is accepting applications for green garden grants. $1,000-$2,000 would be awarded, depending on what is needed for the project. Schools must be public or charter. Furthermore, they can be elementary, middle, or high school. The deadline to apply online is October 28, 2015.

Stewardship Virginia – Fall

On October 10, 2015 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Westmoreland State Park will be holding a volunteer cleanup day at the park. Duties will include clearing bushes, trimming shrubs, and weeding the gardens around the park. As a reward for the hard work, volunteers will receive a certificate from the Governor. Make sure to bring your gloves! 

Since the late 1990’s Conservation International (CI) and Starbucks teamed up to develop standards for coffee purchasing, also known as Coffee and Farmers Equality (C.A.F.E) Practice program. In this program, CI and Starbucks currently work with coffee producers from 22 countries, while increasing the incomes of many farmers and farm workers. For every bag of coffee sold in participating stores in the United States and Canada, Starbucks contributes 70 cents, which is the cost of a new tree. In turn, CI provides seeding nurseries that provide trees to coffee farmers in countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, and Indonesia.

Huge Victory: Shell Abandons Arctic Ocean Drilling 

Last Monday, September 28, 2015, Shell announced that it will no longer drill oil in the U.S. Arctic Ocean. The company’s retreat included more than a decade of controversy from different sides of the table, expense, and risk. Organizations such as Oceana, have worked hard to deter Shell from the oil drilling. There are dangers to oil drilling, such as offshore oil and gas spills. Shell met a lot of opposition, because the U.S. Arctic Ocean contains prosperous marine life and landscapes. President Barack Obama’s visit to Alaska to address climate change, and Shell’s announcement, makes ways for the improvement for climate change.



Environmental News Roundup – September 16, 2015

I love permaculture! It has changed my life on so many levels. Over spring break, I took a Permaculture Design Certification (PDC) course with instructor Wayne Wiseman. This course has opened my eyes and debunked some myths about gardening and farming.

Many people get confuse between organic agriculture and permaculture. Let me break it down for you:

  • Permaculture has three core values:
    • Care of Earth
    • Care of People
    • Fair Shares
  • A permaculture garden is a lot more than an organic garden. It is a system which reuses and reduces the dependency of energy by creating a healthy soil and a diverse set of produce.
  • Permaculture does not pollute its surrounding environment.
  • The wonderful design aids to minimize garden chores and the output of energy. I mean, who loves doing repetitive work every day? I will check no to that one!
  • Unlike organic gardening, permaculture aims to imitate nature. There is more complex use of space, and plants are planted next to each other, known as companion planting for pest control. It is rare to see anything planted in rows in permaculture.
  • A permaculture system maximizes water, sun, and other natural energies such as wind, dust, leaves, and bird droppings.
  • Permaculture provides nutritious food and habitat for people and native animals.

Now you have learned about it, try it out. You do not need a big yard to get started. Even planting some plants in pots in an apartment will do! I would like to leave you all off with a video about a family who uses permaculture gardening in their life, and how much an impact on them.


Environmental News Roundup – May 27, 2015


California oil spill: officials hopes to get first look at ruptured pipeline

Workers on Tuesday began digging up the soil around a pipe that ruptured and spilled up to 101,000 gallons of crude oil along the Santa Barbara County coast.

Plains All American Pipeline hopes to dig down to the pipe and take a look at the ruptured area by the end of Tuesday, company spokeswoman Meredith Matthews said. The step is crucial toward determining the cause of the break.

Hidden costs from our dependence on fossil fuels

It is estimated that 80 to 85 percent of the energy consumed in the U.S. is from fossil fuels. One of the main reasons given for continuing to use this energy source is that it is much less expensive than alternatives. The true cost, however, depends on what you include in the calculation.


Obama administration pumps $32 million into solar industry

The Department of Energy announced a $32 million funding program to support jobs and research in the solar energy sector on Tuesday.

The funding comes from an Energy Department program called the SunShot Initiative, which is designed to boost solar power in the United States. The program has funded more than 350 projects in the last four years.

Shareholders press for board voice on climate at Exxon, Chevron

Progressive shareholders are pushing to add directors with climate change expertise to the boards of Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp, arguing the largest U.S. oil companies need more depth of knowledge to navigate environmental issues.

Climate and greenhouse gas proposals regularly surface at oil company annual meetings, but Wednesday will be the first time shareholders at Exxon will vote on putting an independent climate expert on the board.


Environmental News Roundup – May 20, 2015


Cleanup of 21,000-gallon oil spill resumes off Santa Barbara County coast

The rupture on an 11-mile-long underground pipe, part of a larger oil transport network centered in Kern County, was first reported about noon Tuesday after a woman at Refugio State Beach in Goleta smelled the crude’s noxious fumes.

Gov. Jerry Brown is “monitoring the situation with great concern,” said spokesman Evan Westrup. During the several-hours-long leak, about 21,000 gallons of oil escaped the pipeline, Coast Guard officials estimated. Refugio State Beach and area fisheries were closed, and a warning was posted at El Capitan State Beach, according to county emergency officials.

White House unveils new plan to save the bees

The White House on Tuesday unveiled a new plan aimed at stopping the rapid decline in bee and butterfly populations that has become a threat to the nation’s crops.

To save the bees, the White Houses said it will make sure that the government’s landscaping plans, methods of restoring forests after fires, and other land management actions keep the insects’ health in mind. Obama’s budget for the 2016 fiscal year asks for about $82.5 million for the effort, an increase of almost $34 million from last year’s budget.


Wind turbines are huge, but they’re about to get way, way bigger

If a new report from the Department of Energy is correct, the potential for wind to generate energy in the United States is far, far greater. At the same time, though, it’s also greatly limited by a key factor — most of the wind turbines being used in the country today aren’t tall enough. If they were extended higher, where winds tend to be stronger and also more constant, they could potentially not only tap more energy — they could tap it in vastly more places.

Obama: climate change is a national security threat

President Obama will use a commencement speech at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Wednesday to argue ever more forcefully that climate change is a threat to America’s national defense.

The Department of Defense is studying the effect that climate change will have on its 7,000 bases and installations, and more extreme weather events also put a strain on National Guard troops that respond to emergencies.


Women on Wheels

Science, physics, math, engineering, automotive. What do all of these fields have in common? They are all dominated by MEN. Two UCLA physics students, Elizabeth Case and Rachel Woods-Robinson are encouraging more women to be involved in these fields with a new project they are actively working on.

Whizzing by on their bikes, they are riding across the country from California to New York, and holding workshops/pop-up classes for middle school girls. These skills are widely used in the STEM programs (science technology, engineering, and math). The students make mini-powered solar bikes, and test them out on the field.

Locally, there are two bike shops, Phoenix Bikes and Gearin’ Up Bicycles, that are striving to increasing the number of women in the STEM field and bicycling for recreation and leisure.

Check out the video report by NBC News. You will be inspired by these two brave young women. Trust me.


Environmental News Roundup – May 13, 2015


Alaska’s tricky intersection of Obama’s energy and climate legacies

President Obama’s move to open up vast, untouched Arctic waters to oil and gas drilling as he pursues an ambitious plan to fight climate change illustrates the inherent tensions in his environmental and energy agenda.

In the administration’s view, the decision to drill in the waters off the Alaska coast is a calculated risk that addresses environmental concerns, continues domestic oil production and manages legal obligations. Mr. Obama, administration officials say, chose to move forward with the Arctic drilling only after pairing the approval with tough new safety regulations.

Senate bill would create national renewable electricity standard

Senate Democrats want to create a national renewable electricity standard to create jobs, save consumers money and reduce pollution.

The bill unveiled Tuesday that would require utilities to generate 30 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030, starting with an 8 percent requirement by 2016 followed by gradual increases.


Sri Lanka first nation to protect all mangrove forests

Sri Lanka has become the first nation in the world to comprehensively protect all of its mangrove forests. A scheme backed by the government will include alternative job training, replanting projects and microloans.

Mangroves are considered to be one of the world’s most at-risk habitats, with more than half being lost or destroyed in the past century. Conservationists hope other mangrove-rich nations will follow suit and adopt a similar protection model.

Apple expands renewable energy goal

Apple has pledged to create enough energy through renewable sources to power its global operations. Now it’s setting a far more ambitious goal to do the same for its manufacturing supply chain.

Apple says it generates renewable energy – from solar, wind, biogas, fuel cells, geothermal and small hydropower plants — equivalent to 87% of the energy used by its facilities worldwide. The company’s goal is to get to 100%.