Cleveland County Conservation District
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Helping People Reconnect To Our Environment

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DON'T LET THE ECOPASS YOU BY!

Posted on September 27, 2012 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (0)

    I love idioms, those quirky expressions that convey so much.  Idioms are contrary creatures, while the words are apparently clear, they encourage the reader to seek out the deeper meaning that is often expressed with a wink and a nod.  One of my favorites is "putting your money where your mouth is".  Can you think of a more quaint way of saying, "put up or shut up", which is another favorite.  This idiom came to mind when I read about the ECOpass Program and realized that this program gave me the opportunity to put my financial support into something I strongly believe in.....Conservation, and to possibly give the coolest, most unique Christmas gifts EVER!!!

Let me introduce you to ECOpass, this program offers you the opportunity to support positive environmental change in Oklahoma while at the same time supporting our local farmers. While going about our daily lives, we all leave behind a carbon footprint; driving, using electricity and buying well, anything.  You can offset some of your negative carbon footprints by purchasing an ECOpass.  The money is used to pay a local farmer to implement conservation practices on Oklahoma land that will improve our soil, water and air.  Your money helps offset the high cost to farmers who want to do their part in keeping our water and soil clean. Wait, it gets better.  Not only are you involving yourself in the health of our lands and supporting local agriculture, many of the approved practices that get installed are designed to store a measurable amount of carbon in the soil that would otherwise be emitted.  According to the ECOpass website, "on average, these practices prevent the emission of half a metric ton of carbon per acre per year".  Each $5 ECOpass you buy protects one acre of land for one year.  Think about it, you not only offset your own carbon footprint, you are actually placing conservation on the ground and are making a difference to our environment and you can't get that from Farmville. 

Your ECOpass investment is also guaranteed by the Oklahoma Conservation Commission.  They have created one of the most strict verification programs out there, they visit participating farms annually to ensure that the practice was implemented and is being maintained.  What more could you ask for in return for your $5? 

And now for my love of idioms, see if you can find them all.  You can take it up a notch and purchase enough ECOpasses to offset your family's carbon foot print for a year. You can step up to the plate, and kill two birds with one stone by putting your financial support into conservation AND present them as Christmas stocking stuffers or gifts to family, friends, teachers, employees, coworkers or even the mailman. You could also purchase them in memory of someone who was passionate about the environment or just because you care. Visit their website, or drop them a line at www.ECOpassOK.com to learn more about the program, take a look at the approved practices or to purchase your ECOpasses, it can all be done on the website.  If we all pitch in together, we can change our world one ECOpass at a time because a rising tide lifts all boats. Don't let this ECOpass you by.

Caught You Bein' Green

Posted on August 13, 2012 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (0)

The Conservation District wants to give you a "High Five" for doing the things that you do to be Earth Friendly.  Send us pictures of yourself, family, friends or co-workers being "green". Do you use a rain barrel, compost, grow, raise or preserve your own food, or use organic growing methods?  Send us a pic.  Do you carpool, have a green team, bring your own lunch or recycle at work?  Photo Op.  Do you use green cleaning products, have reusable bags, shop at Farmers Market, practice energy efficiency or water conservation at home?  Another pic.  Have you installed new windows, caulked around outlets, changed to paperless products,  stopped using disposables and plastic bottles or collected your e-waste and hazardous waste for proper disposal?  Take a pic and send it in. Do you shop at thrift stores, changed to LED or CFL lights, bought or are shopping for an Energy Star appliance or installed a toilet dam?  You get the idea, we want your pictures.

Send your pictures via email to; [email protected] so we publish them on our website to share with others.  Please identify all individuals or businesses and tell us where the picture was taken and when.  We will post the pictures on our Pics page under the album, "Caught You Bein' Green".  Visit the page to see what your friends and neighbors are doing to be green.  You don't have to live in Cleveland County or even in Oklahoma to participate, we will post all appropriate pics. Grab a camera and show us your green thumb!

AUDIT JAZZ

Posted on July 9, 2012 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (0)

  Everything in life has a rhythm even energy efficiency.  If your HVAC system is the base then each electronic devise in your home is the melody.  Sometimes the different components come together like an impromptu Jazz Session where everything seems to just fall into place and a beautiful piece of music is born.  But what do you do when one of those components is blowing sour notes, is losing it's beat and is playing off rhythm?  How do you find out which one is causing the blues?

You can begin by conducting a home energy audit.  According to the US Department of Energy, the typical American Family spends about $1900 a year on home utility bills.  Oklahomans average less, but that is still a lot of energy loss, it will have your wallet playing the blues as well.

Start by checking your biggest draw, the star, your HVAC.  Along with that, check your insulation depth and air ducts for leaks.  Then move on to your water heater, thermostat, check doors, windows, plumbing fixtures, walls, light fixtures and foundation for leaks.  Make sure your fireplace damper is closed.  How are your light bulbs, your appliances?  Do you close the drapes on your windows?  Do you use smart strips?  Do you buy energy star models when a replacement is needed?  Do you know what a kilowatt hour is and how many you use a month?  An audit can help you direct the energy rhythm in your home.  The stage is set, step up to the open mike and control your energy rhythm.

If you are interested in conducting a home energy audit, you may download a copy of our manual, "Achieving Energy Efficiency" or visit these websites; www.energyusecalculators.com www.consumerpower.org or www.energy.gov .

BEAT THE HEAT!

Posted on June 19, 2012 at 10:20 AM Comments comments (0)

  No, this is not an article about basketball, but it is about a sport.  Can you think of a more challenging game than us pitted against Oklahoma's scorching, torturous, unrelenting heat?  The odds of being energy efficient while keeping cool are sometimes stacked against you and heat does have home court advantage, but if you keep your head in the game, you can come away the winner!

The fundamental element of efficiently beating the heat is knowledge, your best weapon..... preparation. Your HVAC unit is the hardest working and biggest energy hog during the summer season, but it also your star player, and deserves star treatment. Treat it like the sports diva it is and it will take you through the season unscathed, without your wallet calling foul every month.

Here is your game plan.

  • Check your insulation depth, add more if needed.
  • Service your system annually.
  • Change filters monthly.
  • Shade your compressor unit.
  • Use a digital thermometer.
  • Keep your thermometer at 78 degrees.
  • Use Ceiling Fans or other fans.
  • Open windows on cooler evenings.
  • Keep drapes closed during the day.

You can rebound from summer's heat and shocking electric bills.  Leave yourself open to new habits, and adjust your plan as needed to achieve championship status.  Start small and build, if you normally keep your thermostat at 68, raise it two degrees a week until you find your happy number. Ceiling fans are team players; their stats prove it. Most ceiling fans use only as much as a 100 watt bulb and can make the room feel up to 4% cooler.  When used with the higher thermostat setting it is the perfect set up play.  The Oklahoma heat doesn't give up, it will keep coming at you, stay in your face, so you have to stay in the game until the final buzzer.  If you want win more games than you lose, remember these words, being benched isn't always a bad thing.  In this particular game, sitting on the sidelines saving your energy while encouraging your fellow team mates to conserve theirs is an enviable position.  Especially if it is in the shade within reach a large glass of iced lemonade.

CLOTHSLINE DANCING

Posted on June 11, 2012 at 8:40 AM Comments comments (2)

  Written by Contributing Writer, Jennifer Bloodworth

There's something inherently soothing about hanging clothes out to dry on my clothes line.  I stand amid my fruit trees, the snick of the clothespin rhythmic as I hang one garment after another, loving the cool temperatures and the light breeze, while my chickens are alternately scratching and pecking at the yard around my feet, searching out treats that only they can find.  Boss, our German Shepherd pup, lays patiently at my feet watching and waiting for me to change my mind, hoping I'll let him have just one clothespin to chew on.  All of this is just background to me as I clasp one item after another to my beloved clothes line.  Purchased because I wanted to do my part in reducing our carbon footprint; beloved because for just a few minutes each time I visit it, I find a place of quiet and tranquility.

Crazy as that sounds, it's true.  In a family of five, with two busy teenagers and an inquisitive ten year old boy in the house, quiet is a priceless commodity in very short supply.  For the five minutes of each visit, I'm alone in my thoughts.  I can reflect, dream or just breathe without interruption.  I can watch my chickens meander about our yard, play fetch with the pup, or simply bask in the silence of a quite mind.  I've yet to let the rest of the family in on my secret.  Even go as far as grumble a little as I head out the door carrying a load of wet laundry.  So far, no one but me wants to hand clothes to dry, and that's okay with me.  Guilt of blustering at such a menial chore goes a long way toward getting other things done.  And my time alone has become a coveted part of my day.

My clothesline project started out as an energy saving means of drying laundry and it does that and more.  It not only saves energy, it saves time; dries everything much faster than a dryer and it all smells so fresh and clean.  The sun kills more germs more efficiently in our clothing, towels and sheets than a drier ever could.

So, to all of you out there grumbling at the inconvenience of having a clothes line, if you have a family like mine, and even if you don't, get one FAST.  It just might save your sanity!

Written by: Jennifer Bloodworth, Contributing Writer

WHAT SO PROUDLY WE WAVE

Posted on February 9, 2012 at 9:15 AM Comments comments (2)

 When England's Queen Elizabeth is in residence, her flag is flown at the palace to announce her presence. I also have a flag that announces our presence at home on Saturday mornings; we just call it our laundry.

Several years ago, when we decided to line dry, we bought an umbrella clothes line, a section of PVC pipe and some quick drying cement.  We chose an open area in our back yard in full sun, dug a hole using a borrowed post hole digger, cut the PVC so that it would be about 3" above the ground and cemented it in.  The PVC is a larger circumference than the clothes line pole, so we are able to slide it into the PVC when we want to do laundry and take it out and store it in our garden shed when we are finished.  I am considering building a bed around the pole so that as my laundry is drying, the breeze will brush it against lavenders, lemon verbena or rosemary......bliss.

We have tried to make our laundry as earth friendly as possible, we wash in cold water, I make my own laundry soap using soap nuts, we use vinegar during the rinse cycle, and if water is available, I will use water out of our rain barrels to wash our clothes. But I have to admit, my favorite part is hanging the clothes on the line. I love line drying, and it long ago ceased to be an additional chore.  I like knowing that I am using less electricity to do my laundry that my clothes seem to hold their color, strength and shape longer.  I like the fresh scent that my clothes have without any additional chemicals or perfumes. I also really love the change in my electric bill. It is estimated that 6% of your electric bill is from dryer use, so you will notice a difference in your bill immediately. 

From spring until fall, I hang my laundry outside to dry in our Oklahoma wind.  In the winter, I will hang it outside if the weather is mild and I have racks that I use if it is not.  The racks are beneficial as well because they allow me to add humidity to our dry indoor winter air, my houseplants love it.  Hanging my laundry signals my neighbors that we are available for a chat and inevitably we are offered much needed advice.  This is how I learned to grow lettuce the right way, how to use banana peels to improve my roses and how to hang my shirts so they don't stretch the neckline.  If you think about it, hanging my laundry could actually be my own personal Bat Signal.   Maybe when the Queen is in residence and her flag is flying, she is saying, "Come on over and help me buff the crown jewels", you never know, it works for me. 

WE KNOW THAT CHRISTMAS WILL BE GREEN & BRIGHT

Posted on January 25, 2012 at 10:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Broadway has nothing on my neighbor at Christmas, pack it up and go home....he wins!  I live next door to Santa Bob and his wife Carol, they display every inflatable Christmas character known to man in their front lawn next to the enchanted forest which includes a LARGE family of lit penguins.  If any small aircraft were to get lost over Moore on a dark moonless night in blizzard conditions and a fog moves in, they could still use the lights on his roof alone as a landmark.  And just last year, he set his outdoor lights to MUSIC (he takes requests on his website, and no I am not giving you the address). 

Now don't get me wrong, I love Christmas.  I have a collection of holiday sweaters with matching blinking bulb earrings.  Every year I over decorate my house, bake like the preservation of powdered sugar is my sole responsibility, put antlers on my vehicle, and cover my bedroom windows with foil in order to sleep (Santa Bob lives on that side).  Christmas season officially began this year at their opening ceremony, which I lovingly call the 2011 Blowout.  The Olympic Committee would be jealous.  With all of this Christmas bliss going on next door, let me tell you what he does right from an environmental point of view.  Santa Bob rigs everything safely, he uses timers and power strips, the lights are mostly LEDs or fiber optics which uses up to 70% less electricity than the older type lights and he turns everything off at 11 pm. EVERYTHING!  Now, I think that he does these things for two reasons, he is trying to avoid taking out a second mortgage to pay his January electric bill and he is trying to keep his neighbors happy and out of court.  I don't care why he does it, I am just pleased that he is being as green as he can possibly be.

Every week until Christmas we will explore the wonderful world of a Green Christmas, with tips and ideas on making your holiday season a little friendlier to the planet.  Although my conscience wouldn't allow me to buy a new plastic inflatable Hawaiian Santa under a palm tree (Santa Bob's new addition this year), I can still appreciate it.  Mele Kalikimaka, Santa Bob.