How You Can Make Your Home More Green

How you can make your home more green

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Being a homeowner is both wonderful and challenging. Although you are responsible for everything in your home (including your yard), that gives you the right to make changes that those who rent cannot. If you don’t like something, you can improve it.

That’s also why you should be working on making your home more environmentally friendly. You have the power to go green in your house, and this can offer several benefits. Not only can you save money in the long run, you will do your part to protect our planet. It starts by reducing your carbon footprint.

By Jennifer McGregor, med student and vegetarian who is concerned about climate change. This is her first blog post for Sierra Club Southwest Michigan Group.Read more

How our plug-in electric car changed our life

2015 Nissan Leaf - Our electric car changed our life.

We were surprised at how our two-year-old Nissan Leaf all-electric car changed our life.

When Rebecca and I got our 2015 Nissan Leaf in late May, 2017, we thought the biggest change in our life would be that we’d never visit a gas station again.

Surprise! The most important change was something we didn’t expect at all.

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Tiny House Part Two


How large/small can you go in a tiny house and meet basic human needs?

While a tiny house maximum is often considered 400 square feet or less, what is the minimum square feet of space in a tiny house?

In our region, efficiency housing has been defined as 120 square feet for a single person and roughly double that for two people. Such housing could be seen as one type of tiny housing currently acceptable. Since there are currently four common ways to define/use a tiny dwelling it has been difficult to know how to set guidelines for tiny housing in Michigan. Other industrialized western countries are exploring the range of minimum housing while maintaining space for ADL’s.Read more

Ben’s Tiny House Part 3 – More Progress at Charles and Wallace

10.04.16… To Be Continued.

First of all, tiny houses are not for everyone. For many single or retired people tiny homes might offer these advantages… (and larger tiny houses in some situations might offer these to couples as well)

Bullet recap of Tiny House Homeownership Advantages:

  1. Makes safe space affordable from being trapped in abusive relationships.
  2. Option for privacy when multiple generations share same property.
  3. Space for solitude, contemplation or renewal.
  4. Reduction in retirement costs, time, expenses and upkeep compared to a large home.
  5. Opens housing market to people: those who work full time, but with minimum wage

    employment, those with college debt, new credit history, etc.

  6. Changes the economic power structure allowing more people ownership over indebtedness to


  7. Reduced costs allows better potential for financial savings.
  8. Smaller consumption of planets limited resources and easier to focus costs on efficiency and


  9. Even with minimal income can have greater financial security.

10. PEACE OF MIND with lower housing costs easier to sleep at night.

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Mary Ann’s Solar Installation

Here is a description of how I decided to install solar panels.

Mary Ann went with solar power

“Mary Ann’s Solar Installation” by Mary Ann Renz

Tim Tesar, photographer for Mary Ann's solar installation

Photos by Tim Tesar

Mary Ann’s Solar Installation, by Mary Ann Renz.
Photos by Tim Tesar.

Solar WindsEditor’s note: For all the compelling reasons Mary Ann gives for going solar right now, this is a good time for you to contact Sierra Club Michigan Chapter’s solar installation partner Solar Winds Power Systems. And here are more reasons: Solar Winds has been vetted by Chapter. Sierra Club members get a discount on their installation. And Chapter gets a donation.

When I was preparing to sell my house in Mt. Pleasant, the realtor had me fill out a form on which one question was “If you were going to continue to live in the house, what changes would you make to it?” I answered that I might install solar panels. It would have been a difficult venture there, since my house was shaded by large maple trees and the roof was mostly flat, covered with a rubber membrane.

However, my desire to reduce my carbon footprint persisted after my move, and so I was glad to realize that with my house in Kalamazoo, the roof facing south was, for the most part, free of shade, so it could make a pretty ideal space for installing solar panels.

I imagined, however, that it might be too costly for me to take action now. I figured I’d need to wait until I had saved enough money to afford a solar installation.Read more

Five Easy and Delicious Ways to Eat More Vegan in 2017

As someone who cares about the environment, you probably already know that animal agriculture is a major contributor to climate change, deforestation, and pollution. Environmental science also tells us that eating at lower trophic levels–in other words, eating plants, and not the animals that eat those plants—will always be much more efficient and preserving of the Earth’s resources.

And there are many other reasons to avoid animal products, including the meat industries’ horrific cruelty to the animals themselves, and widespread labor abuses.

The good news, however, is that every meal and ingredient you “swap” from animal- to plant-based is a win for the planet, the animals, and your health.

Below are five easy ways to start. You can buy most of the products listed at any supermarket, but you’ll find the best selections at your friendly neighborhood health food store. Also, be sure to check out your friendly local veg group—like Vegan Kalamazoo, Vegan Grand Rapids, Veg Lakeshore, and Veg Michiana. You’ll meet many other environmentally concerned (and fun!) people, and get great recipes and tips.Read more


Day of Action against Denial

Mary A. Colborn, Climate Action to Take Today

Mary A. Colborn, Climate Action to Take Today

If there ever was a time when your participation, your voice is needed, that time is now. Senate confirmation hearings will begin this week on Capitol Hill for the cabinet nominees of President-Elect Donald Trump.

Never, even in George W. Bush’s presidency, has such an alarming cache of climate change deniers been selected to lead our governmental agencies. Each one has ties to the fossil fuel industry or has voiced climate change denial rhetoric, like Rex Tillerson, nominee for Secretary of State, who just resigned as CEO of Exxon-Mobile and took home over $170 million in compensation and Scott Pruitt, who has fought regulations put forth by the very agency he is slated to lead.

With a Republican Senate, these selectees will be confirmed without delay, in spite of significant concerns with the vetting process used by the Trump transition team or lack thereof. Many of these nominees have failed to sign ethics agreements and many have significant financial holdings that have not been properly assessed for conflicts of interest or ties to foreign entities.

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To do my part in fighting the threat to our planet, I guard against my own rationalizations, and I make sure I repay what I owe to the Earth. So can you. Here’s how.

What I Owe the Earth

What I owe the Earth

“What I owe the Earth” by Ben Brown

Does what I do really matter? I’m just me! How much difference can I make? And, anyway, what debt do I owe to the planet?

Today we face a life-destroying threat, a danger more serious than the asteroid impact blamed for killing off so much life 65 million years ago. Most of us who recognize today’s threat blame a collection of forces beyond our control. I contend that the responsibility falls on all of us – you and me – individually. The longer we believe the current story being fed us, that our individual actions matter little, the more likely our destruction becomes.

Don’t fall for the idea that it’s them. It’s us. We all matter, and what each of us does today creates the future.

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CLIMATE ACTION is the ultimate pro-life movement.

Reclaiming the Narrative

Mary A. Colborn, Climate Action is the Ultimate Pro-life Movement

A few years ago my sister and I cleared away an old forgotten pile of wood on our family farm. As we were moving branch after branch and stacking chunks of wood, we startled a well-camouflaged toad. It responded to our intrusion by creeping deeper into the pile. Each time we shifted the pile and uncovered the toad, we’d call out to each other, “Watch out for the toad. Be careful you don’t hurt him.” Slowly, the pile dwindled and finally there was no wood left and no place to hide. Still the toad made an attempt by covering itself with a cluster of dry leaves. I was ready to wrap up the task, leave the toad where it was and find a new project, when my sister called out to my brother to come over and rake the site. Unfortunately, the first thing he did upon arriving was to make a swing with the rake toward the toad’s leafy hiding place. Together, my sister and I screamed out, “Watch out for the toad.”

I have no idea how the toad fared, because our little outburst set off a three hour rant. Shamed by us, my brother ranted and railed for hours about the “the crazy liberals who care more about the lives of toads than babies.” In confusion, I tried to explain that there were no babies present and certainly none at risk of being harmed. He just went deeper into his rant about abortion, adding insults on my character, focusing on the insane notion that I wanted to kill babies to save animals, like toads. As he continued his rant against “crazy environmentalists,” he grew more and more profane. I finally abandoned the work site for my own safety and left.

I tell you this story, not to share my personal struggles with right-wing family members, but to suggest instead that it is time for those of us who love the Earth to take back the narrative. We must get people to understand that our care for nature includes a deep and defining love for all life in it and upon it. We must make others know that we stand up for clean water, as so many of us did at Standing Rock and in Flint, because we love people. We recognize that people need clean air and clean water, as much as they need a connection to nature.

I say this, because we environmentalists have failed to adequately convey that we believe people matter and all life matters.Read more

Why I Enjoy Nature Conservation When Camping and Backpacking

A Few Reasons Why We Should All Focus on Protecting Nature for Future Generations


“Why I Enjoy Nature Conservation When Camping and Backpacking” by Eric Carrell

With the “Leave No Trace” campaign that has been making waves across the world in the last few years, eco-friendly camping is a big deal lately.

They say that the best way to camp (and ensure that future generations will have the pleasure of experiencing the same natural beauty that you do), is to take nothing but pictures. You’re also supposed to leave nothing but footprints behind, which totally makes sense and something I am hugely passionate about, in fact I wrote a whole article on how to minimize the impacts of camping for my blog!

The idea of having the smallest footprint on nature gets me excited, and today I want to share a few ways in which I try to incorporate this green trend into my outdoor adventures.

Protecting and preserving sacred natural spaces is more important today than it has ever been. Here’s how I go greener every time I go camping.

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