Urban Environmentalism

I remember hearing a story on NPR a few years ago that really turned my thinking upside down regarding environmental stewardship and urban vs. rural living. I’d always thought of living in the country as being attuned to the environment and in harmony with nature. It seemed like the ecologically sound way to approach the world. It turns out that maybe I had it wrong.

The guy being interviewed had lived in a country home north of New York City and had lived in the city itself. He talked about the differences to the environment which, in virtually every comparison supported the idea that living in New York City was a much sounder environmental move. For example, he used far less energy to heat  and cool his home because of the insulation of the apartments surrounding his. A trip to the grocery store in the country meant a long drive, while in the city it meant a walk.

Yesterday I received a couple of e-mails from readers who mentioned local environmental initiatives, so, today I’m going to give a shout out to those efforts and throw in one of my own favorites.

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First, Paige Travis requested that the word be spread about available rebates for purchasing energy efficient appliances. Time is running out (April 2 deadline) for this program which is intended to promote better energy efficiency. “City of Knoxville homeowners, businesses, and non-profit organizations” are eligible to receive the rebates for “replacing old appliances with energy efficient ones. The rebates include up to 50% of the purchase and installation price. “Eligible appliances include: Energy Star refrigerators, water heaters, washing machines, dehumidifiers, dishwashers, freezers, air cleaners and purifiers, water coolers, televisions, computers and Water Sense toilets.” If this sounds like something you’d like to pursue, you can get more information from CAC at http://www.cachousing.org/rebates, 865-244-3080 or e-mail questions to info@cachousing.org.

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The next e-mail, from Jennie Caissie, brought something a little more sexy to bear, if no more environmentally important: An Earth Day Concert on the World’s Fair Park called the EarthBeats Festival. It is described as “an Earth Day themed awareness and fundraising music event to benefit Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment and UT’s Students Promoting Environmental Action in Knoxville.” It sounds like great music for a good cause, so how could you go wrong? April 21, World’s Fair Park, and featuring The Theorizt (with their new disk), Big Country’s Empty Bottle, Jodie Manross, Smiley the Lovedawg and more artists to be named.

Finally, I’d like to give a little mention to one of my favorite programs in the area: Smarttrips. This great organization supports and encourages energy-saving commuting from walking to biking, carpooling and mass transportation. The program offers incentives to people who log their miles of alternative, energy saving commutes. As someone with a long commute from the city each day, it has been a great support. They also offer ride-matching to help people locate others with similar commuting patterns who might be able to carpool. I’ve been a member for several years and I’d encourage you to look into their program if it might help you out.

So, there you go, three ways to improve your Urban Environmental Cred. Let me know about other local environmentally friendly initiatives and I’ll try to lend a little blogga hand.