Fellow southern California environmentalists, if you’re looking for a fun-filled day of learning how you and your family can help better the environment and become a more eco-conscious muslims, check out the Earth Day Festival at the Islamic Institute of Orange County!

(Click on here to register, click here to enlarge eflyer)

Well, I suppose not many of us actually have luxury of affording a front yard — or any green space in that matter.  But how about your school or workplace?  Do they have some green space to make their front office look pretty?

A group of students I work with is organizing a project to bring California native plants to their campus.  With the support of their student union landscape team, as well as the campus physical planning team, soon they are going to plant some native plants around the campus. 

The name, “native plant” seems straight forward enough to assume what that is.  Native plants are basically plants that grow naturally in the area.  They are there, not because they look pretty, but because they can grow there.  But that does not necessary mean that they all are ugly-looking plants.  Although, I must admit that some plants look rather boring — but, there are many good-looking plants that are native to Southern California, actually.

So why do we want native plants, you might ask.  It is quite simple — native plants are rather carefree.  Afterall, they naturally grow in your area, so native plants do not need much attention from you to maintain — perhaps, occasional trimming.  The biggest benefit of having native plants is probably amount of water usage to maintain the plants.  Native plants, because they are naturally habitat in this dry Southern California weather, are already adopted to survive with smaller amount of water.  Which is a good news to Southern California, as we continue to struggle with drought.

So maybe, you can bring those native plants to your school or workplace — not to destroy the ones you already have, but when it is time to bring new plants, that is.

For more information about Southern California’s native plants, local NPR station has a story this morning.

Hironao Okahana is a graduate student in higher education policy and finance.  He also serves as a staff adviser for student advocacy programs at a college student government association.

Orange County Transportation Authority is considering reduction of its service

The proposal, among other routes, will effect the following routes by reduction of services or complete elimination;
>>> Route 57, which is the route runs on State College Blvd. and passes by Masjid Omar AlFarouk,
>>> Route 167, which connects Anaheim to Irvine and pass by Jeffrey Rd., near Islamic Center of Irvine,
>>> Route 87, which is the route between Rancho Santa Margarita to Laguna Niguel, via Alicia near Orange County Islamic Foundation, and
>>> Route 46, which runs between Los Alamitos and Orange via Ball Rd., passing by Islamic Center of Cypress.

Is your community affected by these proposals?  Are members of your masjid rely on OCTA to get to Friday prayers?  Got a concern? comment? Want to express your input? — Here is HOW!

Wendy Knowles, Clerk of the Board, Orange County Transportation Authority at (714) 560-5676
OCTA Customer Relations at (714) 636-RIDE, extension 2, or from South Orange County (800) 636-RIDE, extension 2.

Attend OCTA meeting on November 12, 2009 at 9 am and/or Monday November 23, 2009 at 9 am at:
OCTA Headquarters
600 South Main Street
First Floor, Room 154
Orange, CA 92868

Bus Routes 53, 56 and 83 provide direct service to OCTA Headquarters.
If traveling by Metrolink, ride to the Orange Station and take OCTA Bus Route 453 to Main Street and La Veta. Exit and walk south one block to OCTA Headquarters.
If driving to OCTA, parking is free for the first 15 minutes, $1.00 for every 20 minutes after that, with a maximum daily rate of $9.00.

You can also write to OC elected officials (County Supervisors, city council members, etc.) who sits on OCTA Board of Directors.

Flushing green down …

November 11, 2009

Although, we tend to be very discreet about them, there are so many of them — and we use them all the time.  In average household, about 27% of water used is for toilet, or over 100 gallons a day.   Imagine, if that is how much water is flushed down in a regular house, just how much water is used at a college campus.  In fact, at one large residential/research university campus in the West Coast, each unit in a male lavatory alone is estimated to use 150 gallons each day — or for a building with 20 urinals, it consumes 3000 gallons a day, 15,000 gallons for 5 instructional days, and 150,000 gallons for a 10-week academic quarter.  Now, that is a lot of water to consume — especially, when Southern California’s water reserve is very low.  This is also true for any other public and community places with restrooms.

The question to ask is — are those restroom facilities environmentally friendly ones?  We must have ones, so we cannot simply eliminate them.  But, do capital improvement committees or building committees talk about energy/water efficient alternatives?  Say, when your college is building a new building, are they placing low-flush bathroom facilities? — when, your masjid is having renovation, are they looking into less-water consuming facilities?  Those, probably, are good questions to start a conversation about sustainable community building.  After all, trying to talk seriously about how much water will be flushed to urinal can be a quite funny debate in a board meeting.

Often time, sustainability is also about keep using what we already have and not waste any resources, including money and existing facilities.  And, one thing you might find is that — those lavatory equipments never be broken.  But, the good news is you do not wait forever to replace old-water-consuming toilet bowl — it turns out those low-flow bathroom facilities are very economical — as in, capital investment to replace those facilities can be recovered within short amount of time, and they will continue to yield cost savings.  For instance, ultra-low flow urinal only uses 0.125 gallon per flush — that is 1/24 of a regular urinal.  You can perhaps imagine, how much water utility cost will be saved by switching to the resource effecient model.  Like people sometime says, being green also save some green ($), too — and, this is definetely true in this case.

So there are two good reasons that you can argue for low-flow lavatory facilities — one is to reduce water use, and the other is to reduce utility expenses.  Are you or any of your friends a part of a student union governing board at your college? or a part of masjid’s capital improvement committee?  Ask them, if they are already working on reducing water uses — if, not, let them know that you know good reasons they should act now.  Because, if you are still using old-high-water-use facilities, it’s like you are flushing green and green($) down every single time.

Hironao Okahana is a graduate student in higher education policy and finance.  He also serves as a staff adviser for student advocacy programs at a college student government association.

Green Deen has decided to spice it up a bit by asking a number of masajid in the So-Cal area and abroad to participate in encouraging the Muslim community to get serious about going Green. This Friday, June 12, 2009, catch a Green Khutbah near you!!

Participating Masjids include:

Masjid Omar AlFarouk, Fullerton
Islamic Center of Irvine
Islamic Society of Orange County
Islamic Center of San Gabriel Valley
Madinah Islamic Center, Cerritos
Islamic Center of Inland Empire
Islamic Center of Las Vegas
Muntada Al-Islami in London, England
Birmingham Masjid in Birmingham, England
University of Ghana Central Masjid in Ghana

Green Building

November 25, 2008

Green efforts embrace poor; More areas are updating housing to cut energy use and utility bills

Haya El Nasser

Low-income people who live in old or flimsy housing are becoming prime targets for cities and groups intent on slashing energy use.
Recent efforts to cut energy consumption in the home have focused on new construction, often in more affluent areas and public buildings. Now, community organizations and cities that have embraced the green effort are homing in on low-income houses and apartments to reduce emissions and help poor people lower their utility bills.
“That area is getting a lot more attention now,” says Tom Deyo, senior adviser for Green Strategies at NeighborWorks America, a non-profit that promotes homeownership and affordable housing through more than 230 local organizations.
It launched a website this month designed to help create greener and healthier housing and neighborhoods.
In several cities, public and private funds and services are teaming to give low-income households free energy audits, compact fluorescent (CF) light bulbs, insulation and other energy-saving devices and tips:

  • On Oct. 1, groups working with Greenprint Denver — Mayor John Hickenlooper’s climate initiative — went door-to-door through the low-income Sunnyside neighborhood.

“We looked at utility data and found it was the highest energy-using neighborhood with the lowest income,” says Michele Moss Weingarden, Greenprint director. The homes are older and poor residents or seniors on fixed incomes can’t always afford the insulation and appliance upgrades available, she says.
The Neighborhood Energy Blitz gave the residents energy audits, got them to sign up for the city’s free recycling service, offered a tree to plant in their backyards, replaced light bulbs and shower heads and inspected furnaces and water heaters.

  • Rays of Hope Austin, a non-profit founded by local interior designer Effie Brunson, offers low-income homeowners solar panels. Before they’re installed, volunteers upgrade light bulbs, insulation and appliances.

Homeowners in the Texas capital get a utility rebate from Austin Energy. Water and electricity usage can be cut by 40% to 50%.

  • The Sustainability Institute in North Charleston, S.C., a non-profit, has helped 1,300-plus homeowners lower energy bills by 10% to 25%.

“Most of the homes have upwards of $300 or more a month in energy bills,” says Renee Patey, program manager. “We choose homes that are bad, where the building envelope is very leaky, that get air infiltration, heat and energy loss.”

Low-income areas key

Rosetta Martinez had seen those funny-shaped light bulbs in stores and knew they used less energy but at $9 apiece couldn’t afford them.
So when volunteers offered a floor-to-ceiling energy audit of her two-bedroom Denver home, throwing in CF bulbs, a programmable thermostat and insulation around doors, windows, the water heater and furnace, she was ecstatic.
“I was all into saving energy,” says Martinez, 53, a security guard who bought her home three years ago. “But I’m single and I’m barely making it.”
Greenprint Denver found that 52% of the carbon emissions generated in Denver come from the way homes and businesses use energy (another 30% from transportation).
City officials also know that reaching lower-income households is a key to reducing energy use.
“Eighty percent of the housing stock was built before 1970, and much of that is in lower-income neighborhoods,” says Mayor Hickenlooper, one of the first to sign the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement. He set a goal of reducing per-capita greenhouse gas emissions 10% by 2012 and 25% by 2020.

A citywide effort

Hickenlooper launched Greenprint Denver with the help of 33 civic, government and business leaders. It encourages residents to take shorter showers, install CF bulbs, ride a bike or walk one day a week, plant a tree and use reusable bags. The city is working with real estate boards to do energy audits every time a house is sold.
“There is synergy in being able to put more money in the savings accounts of low-income families and do that through reducing energy,” Hickenlooper says.
Greenprint mobilized organizations and companies to perform the services. The Mile High Youth Corps, for example, installed low-flow toilets in low-income houses.
“Energy costs are volatile, and we wanted to help people stay warm this winter,” Weingarden says. “For this community, we knew we could have a huge impact and we wanted to make it as easy as possible.”
Marlene Vasquez, 53, moved to a three-bedroom rental home in Sunnyside last summer. She’s on government assistance and takes care of six grandchildren, ages 2-14.
Less than two months ago, she says, “somebody came to my door and brought me one light bulb and talked to me about energy.” Then she got an energy audit, a new furnace with a digital thermostat and energy-saving bulbs. Volunteers have helped her lower her water usage.
Vasquez is excited to see how much these measures will knock off her $120-a-month energy bill. “I’m hoping for at least $30 a month,” she says.

Copyright 2008 Gannett Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved – Source.

“Environmentally-Friendly Muslims” by Shaykh Sadullah Khan

Enjoy this “How to green” list, from treehugger.com, filled with practical steps to becoming green:

1. Reconnect

To help green your community, you first need to be part of it. Start talking to your neighbors, find out what’s going on around you, and get involved. It sounds obvious, but busy days often don’t include time for keeping in touch with the community.

Also by emailing socal.greendeen@gmail.com to get involved in local Green Deen projects in your community.

2. Buy local

Not only does shopping locally reduce food miles, it also keeps resources circulating in the community. Plus, it’s a great way to get to know your neighbors. When did you last chat with the person who grew your tomatoes? Sites like Local Harvest in the US or Big Barn in the UK can help you locate suppliers, and farmers markets are increasing in number all the time. There may even be a city farm or community garden in your neighborhood. If there isn’t, you might consider sparking one.

Eat local. Eat sustainable. Eat Organic. Search by Zip Code at www.eatwellguide.org.

3. Rethink travel

Limiting car use can be an great way of reducing your individual carbon footprint, but it doesn’t end there. When we walk, cycle, or take the train or bus, we also help make it easier for others to do the same, and it can be a great way of meeting people. It’s much easier to catch a stranger’s eye and say “hey” when you are not surrounded by a ton of metal and moving at 70 mph. More tips on redefining travel can be found here. You can even help others by setting up projects that support alternatives — could you set up a car club or a walking bus to get the kids to school?

Check out this
list of public transportation in Southern California.

4. Spread the word

People are increasingly curious about living ‘green.’ If you bike to work, compost, or buy organic, tell people why. If people are interested in trying it themselves, show them how. You could even take it a step further and organize educational evenings such as film screenings, workshops, or discussion groups. Or follow the lead of this project and start asking questions in your town — if you can get people thinking about their impact, they’re more likely to start looking for answers. Remember though, there’s a fine line between talking and preaching, so know when it’s time to drop it and get back to talking about baseball.

Spread the word about this blog and other local efforts in your community!

5. Join in

It can be lonely going it alone. Why not find out about environmental groups in your area? Many national conservation groups have local chapters — the Sierra Club’s website offers a local ‘zoomer’ for US residents to find out what’s going on in their area. Increasingly, there are specialist local groups dedicating themselves to specific aspects of sustainability, like this owner’s club for electric vehicles in Bristol, UK . But you shouldn’t just think in terms of green clubs. As sustainability goes mainstream, more and more local organizations are including environmentalism as part of their focus. The Evangelical Climate Initiative is a prime example. So if you’re a member of a faith group, a parent-teacher committee, or even a sports club, why not look at steps that you can take together. From energy efficiency measures to local community action, there are countless ways to get your fellow club or congregation members involved.

Local MSA/U’s, youth groups and mosques should get involved! Contact us if you want to help your community out!

6. Plan for change

We are never going to achieve our goals if we don’t know what they are. If you can create an alternative vision or plan for your community it becomes much easier to inspire action. Check out these UK villagers’ 25 year plan to reforest their valley to protect against future flooding, this North Carolina project offering collaborative planning for walkable communities, or this community’s attempts to become the greenest village in Britain.

7. Get political

National and international politics can be frustrating. How can you influence the massive institutions that wield the power? Local politics can be much less intimidating. It’s a whole lot easier to make connections, exert pressure, and get involved when you live among the people you are trying to influence. Whether you’re campaigning against unwelcome development, like these LA residents campaigning to save their city farm, or seeking to influence local policy in a more positive direction, like these Portland citizens helping their city government plan for an oil-free future, it is vital that you make your voice heard. And don’t forget that environmental ills often fall disproportionately on the poor and marginalized. Check out environmental justice organizations like Environmental Community Action for ways to make your community better, greener, and fairer.

8. Spread the love (and unwanted electronics)

So you don’t want that item of clothing, record, book, or printer anymore? The chances are good that someone else does. Obviously there is the usual route of donating items to your local thrift store or charity shop, but there are also resources like the trusty Freecycle, Craigslist, or Really, Really Free Markets that help match demand with the supply. If there isn’t such a group in your community, there should be.

I’ve used some of the above services before and they’re awesome, ma sha’ Allah.

9. Healthy competition

Cooperation is great, but it’s not the only way. A little friendly rivalry can get a lot done to spark community action. Sites like 18Seconds.org are playing a key role in pitting town against town in the battle to get greener. If you can’t get your neighbors to change in order to save the polar bears, maybe they’ll change to “beat those losers from down the road!” Keep it legal though, please…

10. The revolution will be televised

Just as local politics can be easier to influence than national, so can the local media. Regional newspapers, radio, and TV are always looking for interesting community-related stories, and as we noted here, it can be relatively easy to put a green spin on things. If local media outlets are unresponsive, it’s no holds barred on the internet, so get cracking.

Source: www.treehugger.com