In this week's Newsletter: It's all about efficiency this week: food efficiency, solar panel efficiency, and much more!
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Efficiency in the Kitchen for Less Food Waste



Did you know that Americans throw away at least 31% of the food we buy? That's 133 BILLION pounds of uneaten food, and that's just in one year (2010). Pretty ironic considering that so many of us spend a fair amount of time shopping for deals and checking prices. But that frugality somehow gets lost between the grocery store and the kitchen.

Composting is great, obviously, (shout outs to our good friends at the Lower East Side Ecology Center and Build It Green NYC) since food in the landfill is a source of methane, that most powerful of greenhouse gases, and despite the well-known setbacks, we hope the city composting pilot program sorts out its issues and goes citywide. But there is another way- rethinking our ideas about how soon foods go bad and rediscovering some clever ways to turn what was once thought of as garbage into tasty, nutritious food.

The idea of zero waste cooking and eating is far from what most of today's current adults grew up with. Our parents were sold on the glories of processed food, which was going to free the housewife from kitchen slavery and make any meal preparable in 10 minutes or less. After 40 years of this kind of eating, we have epic levels of diabetes and obesity, and even though more people than ever are eating whole foods, we are not necessarily doing so in a smart way. After all, that 133 billion pounds of wasted food is also wasted money: $161 billion (at 2010 retail prices).

Check out this article from the New York Times to find out what some of the city's best chefs are doing with their broccoli stalks and bruised apples, and get recommendations for how to use more of the food you buy. It's a win for your pocketbook as well as for the environment!

Magnetic Nanoparticles Can Increase the Efficiency of Solar Cells

The most efficient solar cells that are currently available are made of silicon, an inflexible mineral that needs to be mined just like coal- a fact which has been known to make some people characterize solar as a less-than-pristine energy source. While we don't agree about that at all- how many modern industrial processes are perfectly clean and pure, after all?- this article from Global Energy World discusses how nanoparticles can make polymer-based solar cells more efficient.

The science behind the idea, which can raise the efficiency of the polymer, or organic, cell 11 percent, is pretty technical, but still fascinating and have a lot to do with quantum physics. Solar electricity uses light to knock electrons out of place and conducting them along a wire. When nanoparticles are added, they are able to affect the "spin state" of the electrons in a way that positively affects the current. And polymer cells are much more flexible and also cheaper than silicon, which could lead to many more solar electric applications than are available today.

Much more study needs to be done, but so far, very promising. 

New York Students to City Council: We Want Climate Education

As many of you know, Solar One has been working on educating young people about climate change, energy and sustainability for a long time. Our award-winning Green Design Lab program has helped thousands of kids and dozens of schools understand how the climate is changing and what that potentially means for our future.

Now a group led by the Alliance for Climate Action (ACE) and Global Kids is asking the City Council to pass a resolution asking that climate change lessons be included for all K-12 students in New York State. 

ACE Climate Action Fellow/Barnard freshman Afsana Akter had this to say about the campaign:

"When young people are armed with the facts, we can make more informed decisions to mitigate climate change and prepare for its impacts. I, along with my peers, no longer want to be a target for misinformation. Hiding the facts will not eradicate the detrimental consequences, and though our future may look uncertain, we can't be afraid of teaching the truth. We're better off to face it today and learn how to take action now, rather than suffer the consequences tomorrow."

You can read the whole story from NRDC here.
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See you in the spring!


Other Events


3/6.
Women in Sustainability and Energy (WISE) Series: Clean Energy Innovation
Building Energy Exchange, 31 Chambers Street, Suite 609, bet Elk & Centre Sts, Manhattan, 8:30-10am, $15 general admission/$10 partner organizations

3/7
Sustainability Summit @ NYU
NYU Global Center for Academic and Spiritual Life, Room 461, 238 Thompson Street bet West 3rd St & Washington Square South, 10am-5pm, free

3/9-3/13
Certified Passive House Tradesperson Training in NYC
AEA Main Office, 505 Eighth Avenue, Suite 1000, bet West 35th & 36th Sts, Manhattan, 9am-5:30pm, regular course fee $1,350/discounted fee $540
For more information, please email info@passivehouseacademy.com.

3/11
Clean Energy Connections Presents Models for the Future Utility: Examining NYS's Distributed Service Platform Provider Vision
The Jerome L. Green Performance Space at WNYC, 44 Charlton Street bet 6th Ave & Varick St, Manhattan, 7-9pm, $25 general admission/$10 students with valid school ID

3/12
NYC Clean Heat Webinar: Obtain, Review and Select a Contractor Bid
Login details will be provided closer to the event to those that RSVP.

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