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Monday, October 27, 2008

Check Your Green Commitment NEW Pledge On-LINE

Mary Campbell, Pinellas County Extension Director and Urban Sustainability Agent

How many times have you forgotten those reusable bags before you went to the grocery store? Making a new green practice part of our daily routine takes more than just understanding the positive impacts of that practice. Research shows us that knowledge alone does not change behavior. Don’t we all have firsthand knowledge of that fact when we struggle to put into practice those healthy lifestyle practices that tons of research shows improves our quality of life. That is what the Check Your Green Commitment is all about. It is a piece of the puzzle to making a commitment stick for a new green practice. When we put into writing our commitment to make a behavior change, we are much more likely to follow through on that behavior change. It just works!

Pinellas County Extension is launching our next generation of commitments. We have kept is simple, with just three commitments each in four categories: At Home, At Work, On the Road and For Kids. You can select one or more new practice, select your choice to implement that practice and let that commitment begin to work its magic. If you have already implemented all the commitments we offer now, there will be a whole new set in about six months. Thank you to all those who responded to our follow-up evaluation on the last commitments. 100% of the participants who responded reported that the commitment has improved both the implementation of a new practice and the frequency of practices that they committed to. That is a pretty good record for those who used this as a tool for change. Click the above image to go directly to the new pledge.

The commitments will be located right on the front page of the Sustainable Living web page at Pinellas County Extension. They are easy to find and easy to take. Also on this page , you will find some interesting green facts, a new green interactive game and an evaluation to take after you have implemented your new practice (preferably at about three months after you take the pledge). So don’t let the common barriers to changing to green practices – forgetfulness and inconvenience – side track your efforts. Break down those barriers one at a time and more forward to a more sustainable lifestyle. Let us know what you think are some of the most troublesome barriers to change. We have over 1,000 people who have already taken the pledge – try it and see how it works for you.
Making Your Community Green:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Please Help Us Help You!

Here at Pinellas County Extension we strive to deliver the most current research based information available.

This year we began using blogs like this one and several others to make that information even more accessible. To help make sure that you as the reader are getting the most from our blogs we would like you to take a short survey. Please select the link below to access the online survey. Your feedback is greatly appreciated and your responses will be completely anonymous.

Thank you for your time and continued support.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Market in the Park Opens November 1

Location: Pinellas County Extension and Florida Botanical Gardens
12520 Ulmerton Road, Largo
When: Each Saturday: 9 am – 1 pm

Mary Campbell, Pinellas County Extension Director and Urban Sustainability Agent

Fall is a wonderful time of the year in Florida and even more so with the opening of farmer’s markets and green markets that give us an opportunity to buy locally grown fruits and vegetables. Market in the Park opens November 1, 2008 – April 18, 2009 each Saturday 9 am – 1 pm. This popular market attracted over 1,000 visitors each week to Pinellas County Extension and the Florida Botanical Gardens in its first year. It is conveniently located right off Ulmerton Road, parking is free and access is easy. The Market has fresh produce, local honey, coffee specialties, fresh baked breads, cheeses, natural dog treats, plants and much more. More vendors are signed up this year, so visit the market to see all the new items.

Buying local products is both green (environmentally friendly) and sustainable (good for the economy, society and environment). Locally grown vegetables – which travel less distance – are fresher and you are supporting local growers and businesses that put that money back into the local economy. Reducing the distance that food travels saves on the carbon emissions and air pollution. By supporting local farms near suburban areas and around cities, you help keep farmers on the land, and, at the same time, preserve open spaces and counteract urban sprawl. In the US, the average grocery store’s produce travels nearly 1,500 miles between the farm and your refrigerator. About 40% of our fruit is produced overseas. Even though broccoli is likely grown within 20 miles of the average American’s home, it travels an average of 1,800 miles to your table.

Extension has many programs planned to complement the Market such as healthy cooking, rain barrels, composting, going green, children’s activities and horticulture programs. Please go to the Pinellas County Extension calendar at to see the full list of programs each Saturday. Remember to bring your reusable shopping bag. Free reusable bags will be given out to the first 100 people who take the Check Your Green Commitment Pledge to stop using plastic bags on November 1 at the Market. Visit the market and support local businesses that are a part of a sustainable community.

Market in the Park:
Buy Local:

Monday, October 13, 2008

New GREEN Programs offered at Pinellas County Extension

Mary Campbell, Pinellas County Extension Director and Urban Sustainability Director

Pinellas County Extension has some new programs to get your life going in the “green” direction. Have you been wondering what all the talk is about with “green”? Everywhere we turn, businesses, governments and residents are talking about making more green (environmentally friendly) or sustainable (good for the economy, environment and society) decisions. Extension programs offer an easy and inexpensive way to learn all the newest information on going green.

Here is a sample of upcoming programs: (click here to register)

Green Office - Everyone is going "green". Learn some simple and practical ways to create a "green office." Go green and save resources, money and reduce impacts on our environment. Learn the basic principles of green purchasing to make better decisions about what you buy.

Green Living – Learn about easy ways to green up your life through energy conservation, green purchasing and sustainable living. See what everyone is talking about to reduce impacts on our environment, save money and reduce your Ecological Footprint. It would take four Earths to sustain the world at the level we are currently using resources and generating waste in the U.S. Be a part of the solution for future generations.

Green Purchasing – Learn the basics of how to find and select greener products for the home and office. Have you ever wondered if the “green” product you bought is really green? Find out how to evaluate products based on standard criteria and the importance of buying recycled and energy efficient products.

Green Home - Learn easy ways to green-up your home through energy conservation, green purchasing and sustainable living. Have you ever though about protecting your home’s indoor environment? We will explore ways to save money and the environment with simple steps to get you started.

Check the Calendar on the Pinellas County Extension website for a full listing of programs.

Sign up today to learn fun and easy ways to go green. Programs are also offered on-line through Webinar. It is a quick and convenient way to take one of our classes at your own computer. No special equipment necessary. You may listen on-line or by phone (long distance charges apply). Questions may be submitted on-line to the instructor.

Advantages of Webinar:
FAST - No wasted time here. Get right to the heart of the matter in a1-hour block designed to easily fit into your busy schedule.

CONVENIENT - No travel. No time out of the office.Listen from the comfort and convenience of your desk.

EASY - A telephone is all the equipment you need. Just dial in, punch in your access code, and you're in. That's it. Follow along with the audio conference handouts provided in advance.

ACTIONABLE - Our audio conferences provide practical information you can start using right when you hang up the phone.

IDEAL FOR MULTIPLE LISTENERS - Use a speakerphone and as many people asyou want can listen in - at no extra cost to you.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Choosing a Green Floor

Vestina F. Crayton, Pinellas County Extension Educator, Urban Sustainability

Replacing or updating your floors is a big investment. There are many functional and attractive flooring materials available. Before you purchase, consider selecting a material that is environmentally friendly. Some options that are available include cork, bamboo (pictured, right), tile, concrete, linoleum, brick, terrazzo, stone, and wood.

Vendors are one of the easiest ways to help you identify what is green and what makes it green. With so many choices, how do you begin to make a selection? A good place to start is to ask “how will this material perform for the activities conducted in the room?” For example: the material that you use in your kitchen may not be what you would use in your bedroom. Consider these three factors:

1. Cost – In addition to the price, what are the environmental and social impacts?
2. Maintenance and Durability – How long will this product last?
3. Health – How will this product affect my indoor air quality?

Rob Banks, executive vice-president of a world-leading building materials manufacturer reflects on the flooring trends for 2008. "In terms of growth in sales this year, we have seen some of our biggest increases so far from cork flooring. Cork flooring has a number of unique benefits that customers are starting to pick up on. It's softer under foot than wood flooring and does a great job at retaining warmth. It's also a renewable product that is harvested sustainably.” Even with the increasing desire to explore and utilize environmentally friendly products, wood continues to be a top choice for consumers. With this mind, here are a few quick tips to help you evaluate a wood product.

Whatever material you decide to purchase, do the research and ask the right questions.

Pinellas County Extension – Solutions for Your Life
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Forest Stewardship Council
Roberts,J, (2006). Good Green Kitchens, Utah: Gibbs Smith