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History of Earth Day

New App for People with Food Allergies and Intolerances

8 Spring Home Maintenance Projects That Will Save You Money

Reclaiming, Renewing & Redefining Architectural Salvage for a Sustainable Future

The Scoopy Squeegee

The College Student Who Plants to Change the World

nature conserve

History of Earth Day:

It was in September 1969, at a conference held in Seattle, Washington, that Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson announced that in the coming Spring there would be a nationwide grassroots demonstration on the environment. He proposed the nationwide environmental protest to thrust the environment onto the national spotlight.

"It was a gamble," Nelson recalled, "but it worked." Five months before the very first April 22 Earth Day in 1970, The New York Times carried a lengthy article by Gladwin Hill reporting on the rising tide of environmental events: "Rising concern about the environmental crisis is sweeping the nation's campuses with an intensity that may be on its way to eclipsing student discontent over the war in Vietnam...a national day of observance of environmental problems...is being planned for next spring...when a nationwide environmental 'teach-in'...coordinated from the office of Senator Gaylord Nelson is planned...." Senator Nelson also hired Denis Hayes as the coordinator.

The year was 1970. Citizens of United States were trying to understand the Kent State shootings and put their arms around the birth of fiber optics. While they were listening to an album called "Bridge over Troubled Water" they were stunned by NASA’s Apollo 13 mission. American’s were mourning a rock star named Jimi Hendrix and starting to pay attention to the environment. Earth Day 1970 preparations were in high gear.

On April 22, 1970, Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in what was to become the first of many Earth Day movements. At the helm was the national coordinator, Denis Hayes. Hayes, with his young and ambitious staff organized coast-to-coast rallies while thousands of college campuses organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. It soon became clear that the varied and passionate nationwide groups that had been fighting against oil spills, factory pollution, power plants, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, wildlife extinction now had a common platform and nationwide attention.

Each year, the April 22 Earth Day marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement.

Biography of Earth Day Founder, Senator Gaylord Nelson:

Gaylord Nelson (1916 - 2005)

Former Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson's best-known achievement is the founding of Earth Day in 1970. Described by American Heritage Magazine as "one of the most remarkablehappenings in the history of democracy," Earth Day made environmental protection a major national issue. A distinguished and influential public servant, Nelson served ten years in the Wisconsin Senate, was twice elected Governor of Wisconsin, and, in 1962, began an 18-year career in the U.S. Senate.

Senator Nelson's many achievements included legislation to:

• Preserve the 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail

• Mandate fuel efficiency standards in automobiles

• Control strip mining

• Ban the use of DDT

• Ban the use of 245T (agent orange)

• Create the St. Croix Wild and Scenic Riverway and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Senator Nelson also co-sponsored the National Environmental Education Act and wrote legislation to create the Upper Great Lakes Regional Commission and Operation Mainstream/Green Thumb, which employed the elderly in conservation projects. He was the recipient of numerous awards, including two from the United Nations Environment Program.

Nelson became Counselor of The Wilderness Society (1981). During his 14 years of service at The Wilderness Society, Nelson worked to protect America's national forests, national parks, and other public lands. He also focused his attention on U.S. population issues and sustainability. He served as Chairman of Earth Day XXV, which was celebrated April 22, 1995. Senator Nelson was also the Founder of Earth Day Network's Earth Day 2000 Clean Energy Now! campaign.

Born on June 4, 1916, in Clear Lake, Wisconsin, he received his BA degree in 1939 from San Jose State College in California and his LLB at the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1942. He was in the U.S. Army during World War II for 46 months, serving as first lieutenant during the Okinawa campaign. Returning to Madison, Wisconsin, Nelson practiced law from 1946 to 1958.

Senator Nelson died on July 3, 2005 survived by his wife, Carrie Lee, and his three children. On his last Earth Day, although frail and in declining health, he joined his grandson at a school tree-planting ceremony to mark the day. (Source: Earthday.net)

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New App for People with
Food Allergies and Intolerances

More than 15 million people in the United States suffer from food allergies, and the number is far greater when you add in all those who develop stomach problems as a result of different foods. This problem makes grocery shopping challenging and stressful; in some cases, a wrong decision can result in a hospital visit or even worse.  

So what is the solution? Content Checked Inc., a Los Angeles-based start up, introduces a smartphone app to answer these very real concerns. ContentChecked simplifies the process of determining the ingredients in favorite foods to help users weed out food villains before they become harmful.

“Shoppers armed with ContentChecked will be able to register their food allergies or intolerances and then walk the aisles of their favorite supermarket simply scanning the bar codes of whichever items they are considering purchasing,” commented ContentChecked Nutritionist Victoria Brodsky. “Our app can help considerably with some of the most common food allergies and intolerances such as nuts, shellfish, soy, milk and even gluten. Best of all, it can even go one step further by suggesting alternative choices to an item incompatible with food restrictions, and in some cases even provide helpful recipes.”

While almost 90 percents of all food allergies are caused by peanuts, eggs, cow’s milk, fish, wheat, shellfish, soybeans and nuts, the FDA reports that there are more than 160 additional foods that can trigger an allergic reaction. And people who are allergic to one type of food are more likely to become allergic to something else as well. ContentChecked already features hundreds of thousands of foods from today’s most popular brands, and that number increases exponentially every week. Additionally, ContentChecked will soon cater to people with severe anaphylaxis diseases and strong sensitivities for cross contaminations.  Users can purchase the app for $2.99 on the App Store and on Google Play, and ContentChecked donates $1 of each app sale to the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE). Content Checked also offers a free “lite” version.

“ContentChecked is not only useful but needed because labeling laws are weak in the US, and manufacturing practices change regulaly.  This is finally a long-term shopping aid/tool for checking products while shopping.  I also see ContentChecked as being incredibly helpful to newly diagnosed food allergy families just learning to read labels and finding safe foods,” remarked Jenny Sprague, Fouder of FABlogCon (Food Allergy Bloggers Conference).

Born from a father’s confusion and frustration about what to feed his daughter and her friends with specific food allergies, the company believes ContentChecked will have the most positive impact in children's health.  According to the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), the economic cost of children's food allergies is well over a staggering $25 billion per year and rising.  More than 200,000 of these allergic reactions end up sending a child to the emergency room, which amounts to one child in the United States every three minutes.  When considering these statistics, the true value of the app becomes very clear.

Additionally, Content Checked, Inc. has launched MigraineChecked and will also be launching SugarChecked and VeganChecked this year. The company’s extended reach, via this new family of apps, is truly staggering when you look at facts like: 38,000,000 people in the United States are currently diagnosed with migraines; and 97,000,000 people are at risk of developing, or have already developed, Type 2 Diabetes (a diet and lifestyle-based disease), the largest health related cost in the country. In addition, within a year, ContentChecked will be available in Canada, Sweden, England and Germany.

Although a US-based company, ContentChecked initially debuted in Norway, where it has been up and running for over a year under the title CheckContent.  The app has been met with enthusiastic support and endorsement in the country, with very important organizations like Norwegian Asthma and Allergy Association (NAAF) and the Norwegian Celiac Association. “Here at NAAF we refer to CheckContent as the go-to-tool for anyone with food allergies or intolerances to increase confidence in shopping and cooking.  The company has gained a reliable reputation over the time of our collaboration.  I fully recommend ContentChecked Inc. to organizations and individuals interested in presenting relevant and valuable solutions enhancing the quality of life for the people suffering from allergies,” said a spokesperson from the NAAF.

In the US, ContentChecked is already a primary sponsor of both FARE and the Celiac Disease Foundation.  A promotional video for ContentChecked app can be viewed at http://youtu.be/QSbaHLl1vZ0, and an instruction video can be viewed at http://youtu.be/UVhtqdyjiGg. For more details about this innovative new app, please visit the company’s website, www.contentchecked.com.

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8 Spring Home Maintenance Projects
That Will Save You Money

Abby Hayes, freelance blogger and journalist who writes about personal finance for USNews, shares a list of 8 springtime projects that can help save you money…

1. Clean the refrigerator and air conditioner coils. Your fridge and air conditioner work in nearly the same way – by exchanging heat through a system of coils. When those coils are dirty and dusty, they can’t exchange heat as efficiently, so the system has to run harder and longer to have the same cooling effect.

Luckily, cleaning these coils is simple. Just take a vacuum hose to the coils on the back of your fridge. For an outside air conditioner unit, you’ll need to disassemble the casing (making sure the power to the unit is off first), and clean using canned air and/or a stiff brush and spray bottle.

2. Schedule routine heating, ventilation and air conditioning maintenance. Yes, it costs money to get an HVAC professional to look over your system. But routine maintenance costs much less than major fixes down the road. So call and schedule your HVAC maintenance now. To save even more, check websites such as Groupon, Amazon Local and Angie’s List for deals with local HVAC companies.

3. Inspect and repair your roof. Spring is the time to get out on the roof to check for ice, hail or water damage from winter. Repairing minor damage can be a quick do-it-yourself fix, and staying on top of your roof’s condition can save you money by avoiding water damage later on.

4. Clean gutters. This can be a Saturday-long spring chore for many, but it’s important, especially if you live in an area with April showers.

Water doesn’t properly pass through clogged gutters. And that means more water gets near the foundation of your home. This may not cause immediate problems, but over time, too much water near the foundation can cause damage and weakening, which are expensive problems to fix later.

5. Clean the dryer vent. Just like your refrigerator doesn’t work properly with dusty coils, your dryer is less efficient with a lint-filled vent. Even if you clean the lint trap before every load of laundry, you’ll still get some lint in the vent hose, which builds up over time.

To clean the vent, just remove the vent hose from the back of the dryer and vacuum it well. Then, remove the vent cover on the outside of your home, and vacuum it from that side, too.

6. Check the washing machine hoses. Over time, washing machine hoses can crack, which can cause leaks. Sometimes, these inconspicuous leaks go on for weeks or months unnoticed, usually because the washer is pushed back into a corner. This can cause mold problems, water damage and more.

So while you’ve got the dryer pulled out to clean the vent, pull out the washer, too. Check that the hoses are still flexible, and they show no signs of cracking. If they do look worn or cracked, just replace them. It’s an easy fix!

7. Re-caulk windows and doors. You might have caulked your doors and windows before the winter chill set in. Unfortunately, even the best caulk can harden, crack and shrink when it’s cold outside.

So check your windows and doors, and replace as needed. Keeping the hot air out during the summer is just as important as keeping it in during the winter.

8. Plant trees in strategic locations. As you think about landscaping this spring, consider planting a new tree or two. Mother Nature will certainly thank you, and your heating and cooling bills might, too.

If your house gets hit with a lot of sun during the day – which causes the inside to heat up – plant a fast-growing deciduous tree or two on the west, east or northwest side of your home for cooling shade.

And if you noticed wind whistling through the cracks of your home over the winter, an evergreen windbreak on the windiest side of your home might do the trick and block the wind.

Before you plant, make sure you understand how large a tree will grow when it reaches maturity, so you avoid potential costly issues from a tree planted too close to your home.


Reclaiming, Renewing & Redefining Architectural
Salvage for a Sustainable Future

Since 1999 Black Dog Salvage has been saving Southwestern Virginia’s architectural history one house part at a time. The company found its beginnings with the salvage of some of Virginia’s most notable architectural constructs. Since that time, Black Dog has become the temporary resting place for architectural antiques, commercial salvage, and modern society’s rare and unusual cast offs.

By bidding on buildings condemned to be demolished, Black Dog Salvage makes it their mission to secure the remarkable pieces of America's past hidden inside these old structures before they are lost forever. These vintage pieces include everything from doors, windows, mantels and more. Once they are recovered, the guys re-imagine and repurpose these artifacts into a wide range of architectural and decorative elements for clients, from construction workers to high-end interior designers, who use them to restore other historical buildings and add character to newer structures.

Black Dog Salvage is the brainchild of Navy veterans and entrepreneurs; Mike Whiteside and Robert Kulp. Mike is a visionary with a love for design challenges; he brings a creative eye to the Black Dog Design Shop, fabricating each one of a kind piece to help customers create their own unique treasures. Robert possesses an exuberant love of history, this coupled with his experience as a class “A” General Contractor and his incredible attention to detail makes him an invaluable resource for owners of period homes.

The salvaged treasures that the crew brings home currently reside in the 40,000 square foot Memorial Bridge Marketplace & warehouse in Roanoke, VA. Over the last decade, Black Dog Salvage has evolved from a down and dirty salvage warehouse to an interior design marketplace featuring architectural details, custom designs, local artists and vendors. Since 2012 the incredible adventures and creativity of Mike, Robert and the team have been aired on DIY Network’s original documentary series Salvage Dawgs, TV show. From carefully extracting architectural elements from private homes and classic historical properties to disassembling old hospitals and crumbling mills, every show is a fast-paced and fun treasure hunt. With a mission to reclaim, renew and redefine architectural salvage for a sustainable future, this is most definitely a dog’s life.  http://www.blackdogsalvage.com


The Scoopy Squeegee

Created to battle windows covered in condensation during extreme weather, Scoopy Condensation Squeegee is a household must-have for the eco-friendly method of removing unwanted water from any window, wall or shower stall! Scoopy is a simple invention that provides an upgrade to a squeegee by including a collection reservoir for the water. Now instead of the water pooling in the window frame, which can lead to mold and mildew, or simply going down the drain, the water is collected in the handle and can be used to water the plants.

Scoopy comes with a microfiber cloth for a streak free finish and is available in the US and Canada on Amazon for $24.95.  The Scoopy comes with a free microfiber cloth for drying edges and any streaks you may have left. www.scoopy.biz


The College Student Who Plants to Change the World

Do you have a corner of your yard that collects more water than the rest? Maybe an indentation in the landscape that floods every time it rains? Until now, that corner has just been a nuisance, full of mud, pouring water into the street, and creating an eyesore on your property. But according to 19-year-old Union College sophomore Sara Covelli, that area is not only a wasted space, but a wasted opportunity to help the environment.

Covelli, who is majoring in Environmental Policy and minoring in Climate Change (a major she designed on her own through being awarded a Seward Fellowship), is responsible for what will soon be Union College's first rain garden. This project, thanks to Covelli, will increase water quality and make use of runoff rainwater on campus. I was able to catch the busy Covelli in between classes, during a break from her exam studying, to ask her a few questions about her impressive rain garden initiative, and her love for environmental work.

For Covelli, improving and caring for the environment has always been a passion. When she was a child, Covelli attended a sleep away camp, which focused on exploring the outdoors and understanding the environment. As a sophomore in high school, she spent a summer at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, in the Environmental Studies Summer Youth Institute program (ESSYI), where she explored environmental policy, economics, and ethics, studying in labs, classrooms, and outdoors. From her experiences, Covelli knew she wanted to be involved in working towards better sustainability, but she didn't want to be a grassroots activist; she wanted to make big changes and she wanted to start immediately.

When she came to Union College, Covelli was immediately impressed by the unique U-Sustain Committee, which uses the combined efforts of eco-conscious faculty, staff, and students to oversee sustainability efforts and achievements within the university, and educate the campus about environmental issues and going green. U-Sustain, which meets three times a term to discuss relevant issues and projects, constantly facilitates composting and recycling at Union College admissions events.

Last summer, the summer after her Freshman year, Covelli went home to work in Nassau County's environmental resource department, taking part in their campaign to install rain gardens throughout Long Island county. Though she had never worked with them before, rain gardens quickly became a cause which Covelli wholeheartedly supported. Rain gardens, explains Covelli, are thoughtfully placed gardens, which absorb and filter the runoff rainwater, extracting pollutants before the water reaches the drain system. Rain gardens are usually planted in a shallow depression where water tends to accumulate after rain, and consist of a calculated mixture of drought resistant plants, and plants which can thrive with large amounts of water.
Over the summer months, Covelli gained a profound appreciation for the visual and ecological benefits of installing a rain garden, a project that she says, "is easy and available to everyone." These simple gardens can often include truly stunning plants, and they can improve the quality of an area's nearby bodies of water, as well as cut down pollution in creeks and streams by up to 30%.

It's no wonder that, after returning to school for her sophomore year, Covelli decided to apply for a Presidential Green Grant to install a rain garden on her college campus. The Presidential Green Grant is administered by the U-Sustain program and presents yearly awards of $2,000 to up to 16 students with plans for projects that will help Union College achieve its sustainability goals. Covelli filled out the simple application, including the areas on campus she thought would be most suitable for placement, and an approximate cost of the construction and materials she would need to realize her goal.

Not only was Covelli's idea awarded a Green Grant, but the university decided that a rain garden would be the perfect addition to their new senior college dorms, opening in June. Covelli was awarded double the grant funds to expand her project, and invited to attend weekly meetings with the dorm architects to plan the landscaping and ideal placement and layout for the rain garden.

Because she now has the ability to give this project all the nurturing it requires, Covelli hopes to bring in landscape ecologist and national rain garden expert Rusty Schmidt, who she met during her work over the summer, to advise on the best plants and placements for the garden. Schmidt has assisted in the installation of over 20,000 residential rain gardens country wide, and understands the various details involved in designing and implementing gardens. "If designed correctly," says Covelli, "a rain garden will never need maintenance."

When I asked Covelli what she plans to do next, she gave a timid chuckle, and explained that, with the construction of the new dorm building in mind, she has already been awarded the annual Green Fee Grant, for her plan to add solar panels to the dorm's roof. Because the $24,000 grant would only cover a quarter of the roof, the committee awarded Covelli the full amount she would need to cover the entire roof in solar panels, resulting in a grant worth $100,000!

For a girl with this much green in her blood, you might expect her to have time for nothing else, but Covelli is somehow able to balance it all, making time for friends and enjoying every bit of her studies. Rather than seeing these initiatives as detracting from her time, Covelli knows this is her chance to implement the change she wants to see. "These opportunities are available to me at Union," says Covelli, "so why not take advantage of the opportunities and change the campus?"

We're sure to see lots more change out of Union College in the next couple years, thanks to this groundbreaking student, but, with Sara Covelli's environmental enthusiasm in mind, there are plenty of things every Hometalker can do to bring a little more green into the world.  Story credit Tikva Morrow, http://www.hometalk.com/