Monday, February 22, 2010

Top Foods you should Buy Organic

When you go to the grocery store, there are many foods that you can buy organic. The cost can be more than double the price of conventional foods. Is it worth spending more when it comes to buying organic? According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), consumers can reduce their pesticide exposure by 80% by avoiding the most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating only the cleanest.

Here's the Dirty Dozen:
Sweet Bell Peppers
Leafy Greens

Other organic foods worth considering:

When a stop to the grocery store "to pick up a few things" cost over $50, coupons help to try organic and save money on paying extra for healthier items.

Here are links to organic dairy products that offer coupons on their website. Just sign up and you gain access to download their coupons.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Source Water Protection: Implementation is the Key

One of the water indicators used in the State of the Environment Report was the number of water systems in Berks County with Source Water Protection Plans. These voluntary plans outline the area that contributes to a water supply, identifies potential sources of contamination within those protection areas, and develops management strategies for protecting a water system’s source water supply. It is important to note that the development of these plans is not the end of a process, it is only a beginning. If a plan just sits on a shelf and is not used, the water supply is not receiving the increased protection it needs. Implementation of the plan is where real protection occurs.

Luckily, the water systems in Berks County that have developed a source water protection plan have all taken that next step to implementation. The Reading Area Water Authority (RAWA) completed their source water protection plan for Lake Ontelaunee and Maiden Creek Watershed in 2007, and since then have been busy implementing various projects, including assisting in agricultural restoration projects, installing water supply area awareness signs throughout the Maiden Creek Watershed, supporting local educational efforts, and developing a water quality monitoring network.

One project RAWA started even before the completion of their source water protection plan is the reforestation of land around Lake Ontelaunee. For the last several years, RAWA has planted approximately 1,000 trees each year on their property around the lake. Forested areas are a key protecting a water supply such as Lake Ontelaunee. A recent survey by the Trust for Public Land found that the more forest cover there is in a watershed the lower the treatment costs for water suppliers drawing from surface water sources. Forested areas along waterbodies serve as buffers that filter sediment and nutrients out of stormwater.

However, you do not have to own several thousand acres directly adjacent to a water supply source to play a role in source water protection. Through stormwater, contaminants can be carried several miles to a water supply source. By planting and maintaining native trees and other vegetation on your property, you can play a role in protecting our county’s water quality. Planting or maintaining native plants serves a dual purpose of protecting water quality and providing wildlife habitat. If you are interested in learning more about protecting waterbodies on your property, the Conservancy can provide you with information and guidance.

Matt Bixler
Spotts, Stevens, and McCoy

Monday, February 8, 2010

Have a "Winter Cleaning"

A great way to spend some of your time when its cold and snowy outside is to have a "Winter Cleaning". Leave Spring to getting outside more instead of "Spring Cleaning" your house.

Here's a strategy that is very effective:
Start four piles for you to separate your items that you don't want anymore: RECYCLING, CLOTHING, PAPERWORK and CHARITY.

If an item can be recycled, there is no reason why we can't make the effort to recycle it and if we can recycle it by re-using the item - even better!

The Berks County Solid Waste Authority has set the dates for our 2010 collections held at the Exeter Township Municipal Building, 4975 DeMoss Rd., Reading from 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM, on each of the following dates:
Household Hazardous Waste: April 10, 2010 - Free
Electronic Waste: April 16th & 17th, 2010 - Each item is $1.00 for recycling, TVs are $18.00 and batteries are $.75 per pound
Pharmaceutical Waste: April 24, 2010 - Free
Tire Collection: May 1, 2010 - Tires are $2.00 each without rims and $3.00 each with rims
Paper Shredding: May 1, 2010 - Free

How much of the clothing in your wardrobe do you actually wear? Why do we always keep clothes 'just in case'? The chances are that if you haven't worn it in the last year, it's not going to get worn. The clothing that seems to have shrunk (as many clothes do) is not going to expand. Save this pile for charity or for relatives/friends that might be interested in it.

Go through all your paperwork, junk mail, documents and letters - put anything that isn't worth keeping in a paper bin to be recyled. Anything with personal details should be shredded. You can save it for the Berks County shredding event in May. (See details above.)

Adopt a "If I haven't used it in the last year, I probably won't" approach and think about donating used household items to a worthy cause. This might also make you re-think some of your upcoming purchases and save you money in the long run.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Green Your Laundry

Laundry is a fact of life, a never-ending cycle of dirty and clean clothes. When it's wash day, there are things to consider that saves money and energy, along with helping the environment. Here are some tips to consider:

Your Mom would probably cringe when she reads this BUT "It's OKAY to use cold water when washing dirty whites."
Using hot water for both washing and rinsing uses three and a half times more energy than washing in warm water and rinsing in cold. To put it in a better perspective - Washing every load on the hot/warm cycle (in a top loading machine and an electric water heater) for a year is equivalent to burning about 182 gallons of gasoline in a car; in an average (19.8 miles per gallon) car, that'll get you around 3595 miles. So, wash in hot/warm, or drive almost 3600 miles -- same difference.

Use an efficient Energy Star washing machine.
The newest, most-efficient washers use four times less energy than the least-efficient machines, and save up to $70 a year in energy costs.

Save laundry until you have a big load. Save time too!
It takes less energy to do one big load than two smaller ones. But don't overload the machine or nothing will get clean.

Use Environmentally Friendly Laundry Detergents.
Seventh Generation is a brand that is Eco-Friendly and widely available in Berks County. You can learn more about their products and download coupons on their website at