American's Greenest Universities of 2013

Spotlight on: Ajiri Tea

CT Electric Car Paving Way to Make CT the First Ev-Friendly State

Stretch Fleece Jackets for Dogs

SizeUp Reveals Best U.S. States for Recycling Business

nature conserve

Sierra Magazine Reveals 2013 Rankings of American's Greenest Universities

Earlier this month Sierra magazine released its seventh annual ranking of the nation’s “Coolest Schools,” a salute to U.S. colleges that are helping to solve climate problems and making significant efforts to operate sustainably.

Sierra examined the academic institutions making a difference for the planet, seeking out campuses that are creating tangible change in all categories of greenness – from what’s served in dining halls to what’s taught in lecture halls to what’s powering the dorms. Whether it’s Cornell’s minor in climate change or American University’s new campus-wide composting program, schools across America are taking dramatic steps to help protect the planet and its resources.

“For the past seven years, Sierra magazine has ranked colleges and universities on their commitment to fighting climate disruption and making sure the future their students will inhabit has safe water, clean air and beautiful landscapes,” said Bob Sipchen, Sierra magazine’s editor-in-chief.  “By showing such strong leadership on so many fronts -- from energy use and transportation to the courses they offer -- the best of these schools are pointing the way for other institutions.”

Sierra magazine’s top 10 schools of 2013 are:

1. University of Connecticut (Storrs, CT)
2. Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA)
3. University of California, Irvine (Irvine, CA)
4. University of California, Davis (Davis, CA)
5. Cornell University (Ithaca, NY)
6. Green Mountain College (Poultney, VT)
7. Stanford University (Stanford, CA)
8. Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA)
9. American University (Washington, DC)
10. University of California, Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara, CA)

The University of Connecticut, Sierra’s number-one school, stands out for offering more than 600 sustainability-related classes; for having reduced its water use by 15% since 2005; and for, over the past two years, having retrofitted 13 buildings to prevent emitting 2,640 annual tons of carbon dioxide. In addition, more than a quarter of the food served in dining halls is processed within 100 miles, with many ingredients harvested right on campus. UConn’s first appearance on Sierra magazine’s “Coolest Schools” list was in 2010, at number 49.


In addition to featuring Sierra’s data-based rankings, the magazine’s September/October issue includes an array of stories that examine whether colleges’ sustainability efforts really make a difference when students graduate. Such pieces include “Aha Moments,” which profiles three people whose lives were forever changed for the greener because of a moment (or a person) in college and “The Measure of an Education,” by Pulitzer winner Edward Humes, in which readers learn how schools are starting to gauge whether steeping students in environmentalism truly does create a more sustainable world.

Exclusively online is a video made by the Sierra Club’s “Best Interns,” sent on assignment to document the behind-the-scenes goings on of the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, a biannual contest during which students build futuristic solar-powered houses. Also available online is a list of the most coveted eco-scholarships, plus Sierra’s annual “20 Days of Giveaways” sweepstakes.

The complete rankings, along with this year’s coverage of higher education’s environmental efforts, are online at www.sierraclub.org/coolschools.

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Spotlight on: Ajiri Tea

After graduating from Bowdoin College in May 2008, Sara Holby headed to Kisii, in western Kenya, to volunteer for a health-related non-governmental organization (NGO). Sara previously studied in Kenya for a semester through St. Lawrence University. Sara worked closely with Nick Miyogo, a Kenyan co-worker who spent hours patiently teaching her the local language, introducing her to friends and family, and answering her endless questions. Sara came to love the community--the incredibly welcoming people, its bustling streets and markets, and the beautiful rural areas outside of town where many of the HIV/AIDS patients live. The NGO provided free medication and food to the patients, but in January 2009 the organization lost its funding and this support abruptly stopped. There was no longer money to pay the local workers nor funding for the drugs that the organization had been dispensing. Sara began to question the role of "aid" in helping Kenyan communities. It became obvious that the aid had fostered dependency and that the people needed sustainable economic opportunities to emp ower themselves.

After being laid off in March 2009 after 30 years as a financial editor, Ann, Sara's mom, decided to return to Kenya, where she had studied in 1978, to visit her daughter. Following lots of discussion, Sara, Nick, and Ann decided to launch Ajiri Tea. The company's vision and mission is rooted in the opinions, passions, and skills of people living in the Kisii community. In addition to the hopes of employing local women, a recurring theme voiced by many in the community was the serious need to pay school fees for the growing number of orphans.

In May, Sara's sister Kate Holby traveled to Kenya to visit her sister and to scout out the feasibility of a tea company that would directly benefit the local women, farmers, and orphans. After visiting numerous tea factories, Sara, Nick, and Kate chose the Nyansiongo Tea Factory to supply our tea. Pauline, one of the managers, was especially helpful in educating us about Kenyan tea. Florence, in Kisumu, helped us with the initial banana leaf label designs and continues to help us. Today, our women's groups have over 40 members making our labels, beads, and twine.


Amidst these travels, they ate a lot of goat meat and kale, spent an afternoon with Mamma Sarah Obama--President Obama's grandmother--and hurtled around the country in matatus (terrifying public transportation) all the while struggling to communicate in a mixture of English, Swahili, and Ekegusii (the mother tongue of the Kisii people). Nick is at home in Kisii, working with the Ajiri Tea Company and coordinating the Kenyan activities.

Ajiri Tea embodies the richness of the land and the people. Their tea is as amazing as the company story.  Ajiri Tea is an award-winning Kenyan black tea. Winner of the 2011 and 2012 Buyer's Choice Award for Best Black Tea, and First Place at the North American Tea Championship in 2011.

High in antioxidants, Ajiri Tea is remarkably fresh, bold, and flavorful. Coppery in appearance, rich in body, and deeply pungent with a distinct flavor, Ajiri Tea is an enjoyable drink, hot or cold.  Ajiri tea is produced at the Rain Forest Alliance Certified™ Nyansiongo Tea Factory, a cooperative owned by local small-scale farmers. The farmers independently grow the tea on their one-to two-acre shambas in the Kisii Highlands, an area known for its fertile volcanic soil and its abundance of rainfall and sunlight.  The farmers pluck the top two leaves and a bud with their fingers, throwing these handfuls of shoots into a woven basket. Handpicking the tea ensures that the highest quality of tea is always produced. The leaves are then carried to the community-based tea buying center, where they are weighed and checked for quality before being brought to the factory. At the factory, the tea is withered, cut, oxidized, dried, and sorted.

 

Teas currently available include:

Kenyan Black Tea with Ginger
Kenyan Black Tea with Lemon
Kenyan Black Tea with Mango
Rooibos, Red Bush Tea
Kenyan Black Tea (available in bags or loose tea)

Most of the teas sell for $9 for a box of 16 bags.  To purchase Ajiri Tea or to learn more, visit www.ajiritea.com

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CT Electric Car Paving Way to Make CT the First EV-Friendly State in the Nation

Ed Ingalls has a knack for timing.  Two years ago, knowing the forward direction electric vehicles were moving, he had the insight to launch a spin-off company CT Electric Car.  Now the company is poised to help CT become the first EV-Friendly state in the country.  Connecticut officials plan to use $200,000 from a settlement with Northeast Utilities and NStar to help double the number of electric car recharging stations in the state by the end of this year.


“As the demand grows for electric vehicles, so too does the need for charging stations,” said CT Electric Car Owner Ed Ingalls.  “We’re really proud to live in a state where creating an EV-friendly infrastructure is a priority.”

The State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) in tandem with the State Department of Transportation (DOT) announced the new initiative at an Electric Vehicle Expo earlier this month at Middlesex Community College.  Officials say the goal is to “is to bring an end to range anxiety” regarding electric vehicles.  CT Electric Car was in attendance at the expo.


“DEEP Commissioner Dan Esty and DOT Commissioner James Redeker said they want CT to be one of the first EV-friendly states by 2014,” said Ingalls.  “Both commissioners are committed to making that happen.” 

CT Electric Car has already played a key role installing several municipal charging stations across the state in high profile locations including Blue Back Square’s parking garage and the Bishop’s Corner parking lot.  As the state moves the initiative forward, the company hopes to expand the footprint of charging stations across the state.

“The state’s new initiative will do a lot for people’s comfort level when it comes time to choosing an EV,” said Ingalls.  “By increasing the number of charging stations, people will have peace of mind knowing they’ll always have a place to get a boost in their battery.”

Automotive industry research shows more people are opting to buy versus lease electric vehicles.   It’s not surprising, as the cost of driving an EV in Connecticut is equivalent to driving a vehicle that is able to refuel at $1.70 per gallon.

CT Electric Car installs commercial, municipal and residential charging stations.   General Motors, GMC, maker of the Chevy Volt electric vehicle (EV), Nissan, maker of the Nissan Leaf, and BMW, maker of the I Series EV, have named CT Electric Car an authorized installer for their electric car charging stations for all dealerships in the state.

To charge an electric car, the owner simply drives up to the charging station and plugs in their EV.  The website www.fueleconomy.gov lists the following benefits of owning an EV:

  • Energy efficient. Electric motors convert 75% of the chemical energy from the batteries to power the wheels—internal combustion engines (ICEs) only convert 20% of the energy stored in gasoline.

  • Environmentally friendly. EVs emit no tailpipe pollutants, although the power plant producing the electricity may emit them. Electricity from nuclear-, hydro-, solar-, or wind-powered plants causes no air pollutants.

  • Performance benefits. Electric motors provide quiet, smooth operation and stronger acceleration and require less maintenance than ICEs.

  • Reduce energy dependence. Electricity is a domestic energy source.

“Most EVs can now travel about 100–175 miles before a charge of their battery is needed,” adds Ingalls.  “Therefore, as more EVs are sold, the demand continues to go up for charging stations.”

Beyond providing qualified professional installation by trained licensed electricians, CT Electric Car also offers solid firsthand information about electric car charging stations.  The company specializes in the installation and wiring of residential, commercial and municipality car charging stations. The company is licensed in the State of CT by the Dept. of Consumer Protection and holds an unlimited electrical contracting license.


EV charging systems are available in three levels:

  • Level 1: 110 Volt primarily residential

  • Level 2:  220 Volt commercial, municipal & residential use

  • Level 3:  480 Volt strictly commercial & municipal

Newington Electric Company (NEC) is the parent company of Connecticut Electric Car. NEC offers statewide electrical contracting services, specializing in commercial and residential electrical service and repairs. The company is a second-generation family business started in 1958 by Richard Ingalls and is now owned and operated by his son Edward Ingalls. NEC also has an electrical generator division and offers 24-hour service. NEC is State-licensed and registered with the State of Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection.  Connecticut Electric Car specializes in the installation of electric car charging stations. For more information regarding electric car charging stations and tax incentives see www.ctelectriccar.com  Or Visit the State DEEP website at  www.energizect.com or www.ct.gov/deep/evconnecticut.


Stretch Fleece Jackets for Dogs -
in This Season's Hottest Colors!

Now pet parents can take their four-legged friend for a romp around the block in unprecedented comfort and style. That’s because Gold Paw Series has made further improvements in their Stretch Fleece popover jacket, a signature item in the company’s extensive dogwear line.

Made from the company’s exclusive Cirrus™ fleece with recycled polyester and seven percent spandex, this practical jacket is designed to provide a snug, comfortable fit with just the right amount of warmth for dogs of any shape, breed or size. It features a soft, velvet-like finish that resists staining and machine washes like a dream.

The Stretch Fleece jacket also features a newly updated fit for 2013. According to the manufacturer, the higher-cut neck and smaller armholes are designed to provide even better weather protection without chafing. Plus, it’s available in a spectrum of patterned, reversible and solid color options including Eggplant and Robin Egg Blue, this season’s most stylish shades.

Like all Gold Paw Series garments, the Stretch Fleece jacket is made with low-impact dyes, sewn in the USA and is Bluesign certified. Even the tags are made with recycled materials. To learn more or to find a retailer near you, visit the Gold Paw Series website at www.goldpawseries.com.

Founded in 2006, Gold Paw Series is a family-run dogwear company dedicated to improving the lives of dogs and their owners with thoughtful, practical solutions to everyday problems. All of their products are proudly sewn in the USA, which is also where many of the materials are sourced. The company is also firmly committed to finding new ways to reduce the impact of Gold Paw Series products on the environment, from raising the percentage of recycled materials in their textiles to using biodegradable packaging. But delivering exceptional customer service is where the company really shines. Gold Paw Series is so confident of the quality of their products, they offer free repairs for life. For the full story, visit www.goldpawseries.com.


SizeUp Reveals Best U.S. States for Recycling Business

Where do Americans recycle most?  The states of Connecticut, New Jersey, Vermont and Delaware generate the most revenue for recycling centers based on population size, according to the free business intelligence website www.sizeup.com.  SizeUp recently launched a “Best Places” tool that allows users to rank the best cities, metro areas and states for every industry in America.

“We were interested to see that states in the Northeastern U.S. have the most successful recycling centers,” said Anatalio Ubalde, CEO of SizeUp. “Since many recycling centers make money through government contracts, our list is one measure of each state’s level of commitment to sustainability programs.”   

SizeUp creates best places lists by super crunching millions of data points from both public and private sources, based on the most current data available.  SizeUp’s data can be filtered by city, county, metro, and state, and also by criteria such as highest revenue per capita, most underserved markets, average annual revenue, employees and more, allowing decision-makers to find information that is most relevant to them.

“Our free tool can help executives identify locations for new operations, suppliers, employees, and more, in a matter of seconds,” said Ubalde.

Based on per capita revenues in the U.S., the top ten states for recycling centers are:

  1. Connecticut          
  2. New Jersey          
  3. Vermont   
  4. Delaware  
  5. Iowa         
  6. Illinois       
  7. Arkansas  
  8. Oregon     
  9. Kentucky  
  10. Washington 

View a map of the top U.S. states for recycling centers here: www.sizeup.com

Visitors can also view reports for the top-performing U.S. cities and metros. Any of these reports can be embedded in another website by clicking the “Share” button above the map.

SizeUp is a business intelligence website that helps small businesses become smarter, more profitable, and more competitive. It enables small business owners to benchmark themselves against competitors, find the best places to advertise, and map their competitors, customers, and suppliers.  SizeUp is a service of GIS Planning, the world leader in online economic development solutions.  SizeUp launched in late 2011 as a TechCrunch Disrupt finalist, and now powers the online services to small businesses offered on the U.S. Small Business Administration website.