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EIGHT STEPS TO A "GREENER" SUMMER GATHERING
Valley Conservation Expert Offers Tips for an Earth-Friendly Backyard Barbeque
Allentown, PA (May 16, 2007) - With spring upon us and summer right around the corner, warm weather and sunny skies are driving entertaining outdoors. But have you considered the effect that backyard bash is having on the environment? If you've ever had to clean up after one of these events, you have probably seen it first-hand - stacks of Styrofoam plates and plastic utensils, trash bags full of soda cans, and piles of uneaten food are just the tip of the melting polar ice cap. As you dust off the patio furniture and prepare to fire up the grill, Cedar Crest College's Dr. John Cigliano, has compiled some easy tips that can help you host a more energy-efficient and Earth-friendly summer party.
"You don't have to sacrifice any of the fun of a summer barbeque to make it just a little easier on the environment," says Cigliano, who heads up the Biodiversity and Conservation Biology program at Cedar Crest. "It's about making simple choices that go a long way to reducing unnecessary waste and pollution. And most of your guest won't even know the difference."
Buy local and organic produce - A lot of carbon is released from transporting food. The average food item we eat travels 1500 miles before it reaches our tables. Furthermore, industrialized farming techniques release methane (an even more devastating greenhouse gas), use petroleum based pesticides and are highly mechanized, meaning they burn a lot of fossil fuels. Look for organic, free-range, or sustainable agriculture for meats and for vegetables. A really good way to be environmentally friendly, get great fresh produce and meats, and bolster the local economy is to support Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).
Don't use bottled water - Bottled water costs more per gallon than gasoline! And a great deal of carbon and other toxins are released in the production of the plastic bottles. Additionally, many aquifers are being sucked dry by the bottled water industry. Most of the bottled water we drink is really filtered tap water, so why not just filter it ourselves. Grab that reusable pitcher that you got as a wedding gift (and never used) and fill it up.
Clearly label waste bins for trash and recyclables - Get the kids involved to make creative and bright signs that show which bins are for trash and which should receive all those soda cans and beer bottles.
Use disposable tableware and flatware made from recycled materials - If you have to have the convenience of disposable, choose responsibly-made products. Many major retailers are starting to carry these items. Even better yet, reusable cups and plates will serve you all summer long and reduce the volume of trash heading to landfills.
Use solar powered outdoor lights - Harness the energy of all that summer sunshine instead of plugging in strings of patio lights and lighting tiki torches, which emit greenhouse gases.
Turn up the temp inside - If everyone's spending most of the day outside, who needs the house to be so cold? Raise the temp on the AC a few degrees or turn it off altogether.
Compost food waste - A simple internet search yields tons of information about composting. Or contact a local agency that teaches about composting.
Encourage guests to car pool, bike, or walk to the gathering - This is a no-brainer. The less cars on the road, the less pollution and the more fuel you keep in your gas tank for a trip that you really need to drive to.
About the Expert
Dr. John A. Cigliano is director of the Biodiversity and Conservation Biology Program at Cedar Crest College. He earned his Ph. D. in biology from Boston University and received a B.S. in biology-geology from the University of Rochester in Rochester, NY. He has taught courses in ecology, biodiversity and conversation biology, marine biology, animal behavior, genetics, marine field ecology, and conservation biology. Dr. Cigliano is on the board of directors of the Marine Section of the Society for Conservation Biology. He is a research advisor for the Center for Marine Resource Studies at the School for Fields Studies in South Caicos, Turks and Caicos Islands and is the academic coordinator of the Hawk Mountain Program. Dr. Cigliano's research includes testing the assumptions of marine reserve design using the queen conch (Strombus gigas) as a model. This is part of major research initiatives with the Earthwatch Institute and of Conservation International. In addition, Dr. Cigliano is developing conservation education tools with the American Museum of Natural History and is working with the Wildlands Conservancy to study the impact of riparian restoration on a section of the Little Lehigh Creek.
About Cedar Crest College
Located on a suburban 80-acre park-like setting in Allentown, Pa., Cedar Crest is a nationally ranked liberal arts college for women in eastern Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley. The College is 55 miles north of Philadelphia and 90 miles west of New York City. Cedar Crest currently enrolls 1,930 students - full-time, part-time and graduate - in more than 30 fields of study ranging from cutting-edge fields like genetic engineering, forensic science, neuroscience, nuclear medicine and conservation biology to continually popular fields like nursing, pre-med, marketing, criminal justice, education (including a Master's in education), psychology, communication and dance.