Benefits of Cold Showers

Jul 30 2014 • Posted by

I have a friend who swears by cold showers — he takes them in the morning and claims that he feels refreshed and rejuvenated in a way that doesn’t compare to hot showers. The science adds up — taking cold showers causes your blood to flow more rapidly. During a cold shower, your body forces blood to circulate towards your organs to keep them heated. This can have a profound effect on mood and energy, which is something we all could use a boost in. Cold showers are also good for your skin — the cold water reduces the expansion of skin pores, which benefits your complexion by preventing foreign substances from entering your skin. I’m always tired in the mornings, but the shock-factor of the cold water can cause even the most lethargic sleepy-head to feel brand new after a quick cold shower. The health advantages add up, and the benefits don’t stop there.

Cold showers are good for the environment. The hot water we use to shower every day is an energy-hog, contributing to high utility costs and increased carbon emissions. One website I found claims that taking cold showers for an entire year would save you approximately $150 on your utility bill. Now, I know we all love our hot showers, which is absolutely fine. Hot showers are definitely a relaxation haven. However, I’ve been considering trying cold showers for a while now, and I’m beginning to feel that there’s an environmental incentive to give it a try. I’m excited to challenge myself to a week of cold showers. The energy savings won’t be substantial, but every bit counts. I’ll keep you updated next week as to how my experiment turned out. Wish me luck!

Mike Salhany


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Little Victories

Jul 22 2014 • Posted by

Weeds! Those feisty little green devils keep popping up in my garden. Here I am trying to be sustainable and grow my own veggies and these little plants keep popping up to ruin my day. I can’t complain, though. Sure, my garden had a bit of a rocky start. For the first week after planting, a gopher taking up residence under my neighbor’s shed snuck out every night to nibble on my basil. But my plants are growing, I haven’t had any issues with bugs or fungus, and I’ve even noticed a few little tomatoes developing! Yay!

In other news, this past week brought a personal victory. I finally did it. I convinced my mother to use reusable bags when she grocery shops. Yes, even my mother, who drives an SUV, insists on forsaking the piles of reusable bottles collecting in our cabinets and the perfectly good filtration system on our refrigerator in favor of plastic bottles, and thinks that a house isn’t clean until it’s full of chemicals has taken a step to be more sustainable. There is hope, my friends. There is hope.

Until next week, blog readers.

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Week 5 Updates

Jul 16 2014 • Posted by

It’s been a busy few weeks for me, and I’d like to share my experiences so far.  I have been enjoying going to events and talking to all types of people. At first it was really nerve-wracking, but I’m starting to get past that. I’ve never been much of a salesperson, so I struggled with the idea of annoying and bothering people. However, after talking to enough people I have realized that I am not bothering them at all, and in fact I’m helping them out. When I changed my perspective, I noticed it became much easier to talk to people and to give my best pitch. Additionally, people have been nicer than I expected, even the ones who are uninterested, with the exception of a few of course. When I go to an event and meet a lot of friendly and open-minded people, I find a lot more meaning in my work and it’s empowering. My first couple events were very poorly attended so I felt discouraged at first, but I no longer feel that way. Although this past week has been slow in terms of events, last week was a great learning experience and I look forward to expanding upon that in the upcoming weeks.

My sustainability goal for the summer has not been going quite as well as I planned. The maintenance worker for my building said that they don’t have recycling bins because nobody used them in the past and he did not seem open to the idea at all. I could still talk to the landlord, but I haven’t gotten around to it. In the meantime, my recycling is really piling up and I need to look into some alternatives. As a result, an addition to my summer goal is that I want to find a place to take my recycling that is still convenient for me. However, I did get a dryer rack for my clothes! The washer/dryer costs $2.50 each so it’s great to not only save energy, but money as well.

My final update is about my Dad’s newly installed solar panels. He is very happy with them, and I’m going to his house tomorrow to check them out! He said everything has gone as planned and doesn’t foresee any issues in the future, although he is curious what I think of them. I’ll be sure to mention it in my next blog post!


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Saving The Community by Saving Money

Jun 30 2014 • Posted by

Sustaining our environment is by far one of the most pressing issues that our generation must confront. In order to succeed at conquering all of the environmental issues that exist, society must combine our efforts as a whole and work together to help improve the environment through building community awareness.

While I was at the New Bedford downtown farmers market, I ran into Carlos Betancourt. He is a Home Base Self Sufficiency Coordinator for PACE in New Bedford. While talking with him we discussed ways in which New Bedford can become a more progressive community.

His main point was that we need to clean up the streets and get more people working so they can afford housing. This means that the town needs to become more creative with how they employ citizens and by helping people save money through modern practices. The South Coast Energy Challenge is an environmentally friendly organization that not only creates jobs but also helps create genuine change for people by teaching them how to make simple life choices through out their day.

To help people make better life choices I want to  bring no-cost Home Energy Assessments to people who normally couldn’t through our program. Many people we talk to out of New Bedford do not qualify for an HEA. I want to change this so that the people who really will benefit from us can take advantage of the opportunities we offer.

I my self currently live in an apartment complex that houses people who would benefit from an HEA. The first step I’m going to take is to talk with my landlord to see if he wants to go through Mass Save to give our apartment community HEAs. If he were to agree and Mass Save wanted to do it we could potentially save 5% off of 500 peoples energy bill just like that. People are capable of changing their lives, all they need is the right guidance, and awareness is the first step.




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Not Another Plastic Bag!

Jun 30 2014 • Posted by

My sustainability goal has been to reduce the amount of plastic bags I use. I had my plan all laid out in my head. I had my goal, I had my reusable bags, and I was ready to go. I went to the super market yesterday, got my groceries, and the second I got to the checkout a sense of panic instantly crawled in to my head. I planned so well so that I could practice my sustainability goal and then when it came down to it I had failed. I had forgotten all my reusable bags and I was already halfway through the register. I realized that part of the process of becoming a more sustainable person was getting over old habits. I have already placed my reusable bags in my car so that the next time I go shopping I know that I am prepared. I still plan on succeeding at my goal by the end of the summer.  All I need to do now is be more aware before I go shopping and I think that forgetting last time will actually help me remember for the long run.

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My Family’s Experience with Solar Panels

Jun 30 2014 • Posted by

This past week my Dad finally got solar panels installed on his house, which has been very exciting for all of us. Although, this isn’t the first experience we have had with solar panels. About 15 years ago my parents bought a tiny cabin up in Vermont to spend our summers in. Initially there was no electricity at all. Their goal was to make it as self-sufficient as possible, so they installed solar panels to power the whole cabin. Despite being a relatively new technology, they functioned really well and made the cabin so much more practical. Although the cabin was very bare-bones, I still cherish those memories as some of the best. I learned that simplicity is far from a bad thing, and it ultimately brought us closer together as there were much fewer distractions.

About 2 months ago before I started working here, my dad was approached by one of our partners in his area. After signing up, he was informed that he had a south-facing house and was a perfect candidate for solar panels. Some of his neighbors have solar panels as well and had nothing but good reviews. Given his experience with solar panels in the past, I’m sure he was much more open to it than the average person.

The panels are installed, but now we are waiting for NSTAR to switch out the meter so it runs two ways. My dad was told to resist the temptation to turn on the system because he would be paying for some of his neighbors electricity and wind up with a huge bill at the end of the month, which several impatient customers learned the hard way. I’ll keep the blog updated from time to time about how everything is going once the system is up and running!

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Creating an Energy Efficient Apartment

Jun 26 2014 • Posted by

This month has been an exciting one between the new job and the new apartment I just moved into. I’ve lived in college dorms and apartments, but they don’t come with the same responsibilities of renting on your own. Namely, bills. Utilities are included in tuition, so prior to this job I had little knowledge of just how much energy costs each month. My second day at the new apartment was also my first day working at the South Coast Energy Challenge. While watching the videos and listening to the presentations, I began brainstorming numerous ways I could save energy and cut down costs in my new apartment. However, I ran into one major roadblock. The entire apartment complex does not provide a means of recycling whatsoever. There are several large dumpsters placed throughout the complex, but I couldn’t find a single recycling bin. This made me realize an even bigger problem. Out of the hundreds of people living in this complex it is likely that close to none of them recycle. When I took out the trash last week I saw dozens of recyclable goods sitting in the dumpster, and realized this was an issue that should be brought up to the managers.

My goal is to speak with my landlord and ask if there is a way the complex could buy and set up recycling bins throughout the complex. I may need to speak with the manager of the complex as well. If they are unwilling to do so, then my second goal will be to find a nearby location that I can bring my recycling to. It may be inconvenient, but it is certainly worth it. However, I would like my neighbors who may not be as motivated as I am to have an accessible and convenient way to recycle. Several hundred people live there and it could be significantly beneficial.

Aside from the recycling issue, a few other actions have been taken as well. The previous renter still had all incandescent light bulbs in the ceiling fixtures. We replaced all of those CFL light bulbs. Although the weather has been pretty mild so far this summer, I also want to make an effort/goal to use the ceiling fan as opposed to the air conditioner as much as possible. Additionally, once I have a little more savings I would like to buy an indoor clothes hanger/dryer that Karen mentioned in one of her presentations. There are coin-operated dryers in the building, but I can see that becoming an unnecessary expense each month, and would prefer the alternative that Karen mentioned.

I will continue to try to find ways to be more sustainable in my energy consumption and ultimately save money throughout the summer. I’ll keep the blog updated with my ideas and projects. Thanks for reading!

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Week 1 Struggles

Jun 26 2014 • Posted by

This was my first week at trying to achieve my sustainability goal of driving less. For the most part it did not go as well as I thought it would, mainly because I was working a lot so I was forced to drive. Even when I wasn’t working, I had to run little errands at the bank and the supermarket. You would be surprised though at how far you drive from your home to these places that are in your town. To the super market it is a short drive, but it’s like an eighteen mile round trip which I never noticed until now. I have to start debating whether I need to go out and get it immediately or if I can wait until when it’s convenient.

On the plus side, I did start doing things to my car that will save on gas when I’m driving. I finally discovered the great invention of cruise control, allowing me to stay at a constant speed while on the highway. This way, I don’t waste fuel accelerating or decelerating. I can’t believe it took me this long to actually use it, highly recommend it to everyone who uses the highway. Another thing that helped me work on my sustainability goal was that I was allowed to work from home one day since I was only doing event research. I didn’t have to drive the 35 minute commute to work that day which saved me plenty of gas. I also looked up some ways to help save gas while driving and I plan on using those actions for the rest of the summer.

Next week, I may attempt to bike to my other job which is in my hometown and about a 10-15 minute drive by car. It will be a challenge, but it will definitely help me lower my carbon footprint and it will be a good workout. I plan on also checking my tire pressure this weekend as well to make sure it is at the optimal level since not only will it lower my carbon emissions, but also increase my safety when driving . The tires are one of the most crucial parts of the car and it is vital to the efficiency and my safety that they are properly inflated. Plus, this action is totally free of cost and will save me an estimated 332 pounds of CO2 emissions and will allow the car to operate closer to its highest fuel efficiency.

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“Crude Awakening”

Jun 26 2014 • Posted by

For the past week while I’ve been away I unfortunately haven’t had the chance to work on my sustainability goal. However, I did watch an episode of HBO’s show Vice titled “Crude Awakening”. Although it may not directly relate to sustainability, it does go further into detail about the fuel crisis we are currently facing. It is about the BP spill back in 2010, and the effects it has had on people’s health in the area where the spill has washed ashore. I personally hadn’t known about any of this news and I found it both informative and alarming. Oil spills are notorious for the various catastrophic problems they cause, namely the damage caused to the environment and wildlife. It is just now being reported that it is also causing serious health problems for humans as well. The whole segment made it even more apparent just how harmful the cultivation and use of fossil fuels is, and how both cutting back and the discovery of a safer alternative are becoming more and more necessary.

The segment included many disturbing case studies and statistics. For example, people who volunteered to help with the clean up were contacted and interviewed. Without fail, every single volunteer reported that they suffered from respiratory and other health problems that they would consider to seriously hinder their daily lives. This is due to a chemical dispersant called Corexit, which is 52 times more toxic than oil and has caused respiratory problems, central-nervous issues, and rashes for local residents and volunteers. The chemicals used to clean up the oil caused the oil itself to become even more toxic. Children appear to be particularly susceptible and even become scarred from the rashes they suffer from. Even 4 years later, oil still washes ashore and continues to contaminate the surrounding environment and make people sick. Additionally, the seafood from that same area are also heavily contaminated. Not only is it unsafe to eat, but the animals themselves have a very high rate of deformities.

This show was able to illustrate just how serious the lasting effects of the BP oil spill are. The oil crisis has so many elements to it, and the number of issues only continues to grow. Other news stations haven’t reported on this subject whatsoever, and I feel it is yet another fact that the public should educate themselves about.

I found a link on youtube and encourage you all to check it out!

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Green: More Than Just My Favorite Color

Jun 26 2014 • Posted by

I’m not usually one to choose favorites. I have a few favorite things, like my favorite day of the week (Friday), my favorite season (Summer), and my favorite baseball team (the Red Sox). Any sane person probably shares these favorite things with me, however I do have a favorite that isn’t so obvious and slightly sets me apart: My favorite color is green!

Favorite colors exhibit individuality – the color spectrum is so mysterious and beautiful that choosing just one is like choosing a single piece of candy in a whole candy store. It’s a tough decision, and though orange and blue will always have a special place in my heart, there’s so much to green that just speaks to me on a personal level.

I look outside and see green all around me – the plants and trees breathe with life and glow a brilliant green, reflected by the sunlight and distinguished by thousands of respective shades. Nature is beautiful. Nature is our home and composes the precious framework that secures our prosperity as humankind. It is logical and imperative that we protect our home, as it won’t be very forgiving once it’s too late.

“Going Green” is more than just a catchy tagline. Going Green envelops the philosophy of sustainability by encouraging individuals to become mindful of their carbon footprint and to adapt to a lifestyle of environmental awareness. Before I “woke up” and made the decision to Go Green, I found tasks such as recycling and conscious consumerism to be trivial and inconvenient. The reality is that true inconvenience exists in a world where human greed and lack of action lead to the destruction of our only home.

While I stop to admire the allure of the green trees, their essence whispers back with a message of hope and optimism. It is not yet too late to control pollution and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is not yet too late to wake up and prioritize the future over the present, and to live in a world where mankind and nature exist in balance and harmony. It will never be too late to start protecting our home. So join me and millions of others – Go Green, take the Challenge, and together we can help ensure a better world for all, for goodness sake! Let’s save the planet!

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