hurricane prep: a featured post from the past

Everyone in the southeast United States has been keeping an eye on Tropical Storm Isaac for the past few days, and this morning, life in South Louisiana got a little busier, as the forecasted track brings Isaac westward and possibly into New Orleans. We're all doing a little bit more in terms of storm preparation.

A few weeks ago, I stocked up on a few supplies while I thought about it. Some cans of food, gallons of water and a six-pack of beer. I've also got hand-crank flashlights on hand.

I figured this would be a good time to share a post I wrote about greening your storm preparations in May 2009.

It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Hurricane season starts Monday, which for all residents of southern Louisiana means it's time to let out a collective groan and start stocking up on emergency supplies.

This weekend is a Louisiana state tax-free weekend for all hurricane supplies, so of course I'll be out stocking up, so I'm not buying flashlights one day before a hurricane hits. But as with any scenario, I asked myself, how can I do this greener?

When buying flashlights, make sure to get ones with LED bulbs, which are brighter, more efficient and last forever. Lots of emergency flashlights and radios have hand cranks, which I will be keeping an eye out for. This way they either use less or no battery power, saving tons of chemicals from landfills. There's also the option of using candles for light, though I'm not sure scented soy candles officially count as hurricane supplies.

When buying canned food to store, go for the organic options. There's no need to be unhealthy in the event of a power outage - go for the organics! There's pretty much an organic alternative for any food you would need in the event of an emergency.

And the water. Cases of bottled water for $4. When storing water for an emergency, it's easy to just buy a ton of plastic bottles, even though it's terrible for the environment. If you really want bottled water, look for the companies that use less plastic in their packaging. Or you can buy larger containers, such as gallons of water and using your regular glasses to drink from. Or do like my family does and refill containers you already own with water and seal them to make sure nothing gets in (though we always end up with a case of bottles as well). It's also customary to fill the bathtub with water in case you need it for anything else. If you end up not needing that water, don't just pull the plug and let it drain - use that water in your garden! The plants won't mind (if they're still there after a storm!)

So if you live in Louisiana, make sure to get out this weekend and get your hurricane supplies, while still keeping the environment in mind. View FEMA's full supply checklist before you head out.

(And should you need to evacuate, look for a green hotel! And my posts come full-circle!)


office progress

One of the places that I'm constantly looking to improve, environment-wise, is my office. It's not exactly known for being on the forefront of eco practices, but hey, we have a recycling system in place and most of us print double-sided!

The brutally hot summer has put a lot of stress on our air conditioners, which have alternately broken over the past week. Because of that, the inside air is reaching 88 degrees in the afternoons. While there are three main culprits to the problem - lack of ceiling/insulation, numerous large heat-emitting warehouse lights and single-pane windows - there's only one that is an easy solution.

So that led me to calling a local window store I'd found, one that installs solar window film. I met with the guy, was shown two options, and given an estimate. And since I had a little free time, I started writing a proposal to my bosses about why it would be a good investment for the office. I didn't realize just how passionate I would feel writing it, but I just kept going, and ended up with a three-page proposal and five accompanying photographs. I was actually nervous when sending it off, but I attribute that mostly to feeling certain I would do something that actually mattered to me and get nowhere with my bosses.

This morning when I went in, I saw that my bosses had emailed back regarding the proposal. I was shocked to see they had said yes to installing solar film, and that they chose the higher cost option. But I definitely took to making progress and have already put down the initial deposit and scheduled the installation.

By the end of this week, my office may finally see relief and we'll have Vista Film on all our windows. I'm looking forward to seeing this project through (and taking pictures along the way.) I find it's interesting how surprised I am that I'm so motivated and invested. Between that, and looking forward to the next energy efficiency project I want to tackle, I'm realizing that this is how I should be feeling every day at work. I feel so fulfilled to help save energy and money and make a more comfortable office.

More to come with the progress!
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