Every year, we (the MPCA and our partners) put on a big green tour de force at the Minnesota State Fair. Fair visitors love it and voted it the 2013 People's Choice for Best Attraction. Here's some ideas that got us excited.
Electric cars and ways to recharge them are finally here. Really.
They've been "just around the corner" for about 30 years, but electrics are finally a reality. There are four major carmakers selling EVs right here in Minnesota: Chevy's Volt, Nissan's Leaf, Mitsubishi's i, and two Fords: the C-Max Energi and the Fusion EV. And thanks to federal money and some MPCA efforts, there are 150 public charging stations in Minnesota — either active or ready to go within the next two years. Check out plugshare.com.
From the climate to human health, trees help us more than ever. But we need to help them, too.
The value of a single tree is astounding, with benefits ranging from healthier air to reduced stress. It's somehow reassuring that trees — one of the most basic, original ideas about "saving the environment" — have been shown to pack a punch in terms of impact. But since urban tree cover is declining due to stress from tree pests (such as emerald ash borer), drought, heat and storms, we need to step up and replace trees, care for trees and support community plantings. We recently posted this about trees.
Going super-efficient is still our biggest source of untapped power.
Houses and buildings account for about half of all energy consumed. Ramping up the efficiency of your structure's envelope (ie., what keeps the cold out), heating systems and appliances used to be purview of architects and Popular Science readers. But good information is now easily available, and costs have come down, too. Find out more from the Department of Commerce's energy website.
Community Solar is a totally new way to do solar.
Build large arrays in perfect locations for solar power, then offer subscriptions to that power. Credit for that power shows up on your electricity bill every month. Somebody else takes care of maintenance and technical stuff. Learn more from one of our awesome Eco Experience partners, the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society.
You live in a watershed.
Forget state lines, county borders, city divisions. Rain that falls from the sky doesn't care about these silly things. All rain and rivers in a watershed flow toward one single point. For those who care about water, this is a critical bit of knowledge. Explore your watershed and see what's being done to protect and improve the water.
Recycling aluminum cans is an easy (and green) thing to do, but more than half of all cans still get tossed.
Maybe we need another piece of motivation: recycling helps Minnesota businesses. And that's not just a warm fuzzy feeling, it's a fact backed up with cold, hard cash. Recycling creates jobs: approximately 37,000 jobs in our state are directly or indirectly supported by the industry. These jobs pay an $2 billion in wages and add $8.5 billion to Minnesota's economy.