Where is your water coming from?

7 Feb

Rainwater, spring, river or lake, surface well or deep/artesian well. Do you know the ? There are countless brands: Dasani and Crystal; the generic Publix or Kroger brand; even the health conscious Smart Water or the elite Fuji. We all have preferences, but what do we really know about our water other than the label?

I’m sure you could guess that the majority most typically drink spring water, which seems to be the purest water supply. Although a common source, it is easier to find impurities in rivers and lakes from city sewage due to natural drainage. Rainwater provides great opportunity for bacteria growth due to dust and gases that rainwater absorbs from the air.

Lastly are wells. Surface wells, as you can imagine, are an extremely unsafe water source because of their contamination that is inevitable with the shallow formation. On the other hand, deep artesian wells collect pure water (so long as piping is stable and firm).

And there are your quick facts about water sources. So, next time you reach for some refreshing aqua, think about where it came from.

(For more information or questions about water, ask , who will be answering questions about water  live on February 10 at 12 p.m. EST)


-Austin Sewell


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31 Jan


Fifty years ago, the average person ate about 45 pounds of meat in a year. Today, that number is up over 90 pounds. The meat industry has grown rapidly into a well-oiled, money-making machine.

This February will mark my 6th full year as a vegetarian. I initially stopped eating meat, because I couldn’t bear the thought of cute, fuzzy animals being killed at my expense. As I have gotten older, I learned from science classes, books, and movies like that the meat industry has grown so big, that it is having detrimental effects on our earth and the quality of the food we are eating.

  • Percentage of human-influenced * generated by livestock: 65% (* Nitrous oxide has nearly 300 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.)
  • Transportation and livestock production together account for 31 percent of overall greenhouse gas emissions
  • Over 2 billion tons of cropland are lost to erosion in the US each year due to animal production
  • 2,000 pound of grain are needed to support the production of food and livestock products necessary to sustain one person per year compared with 400 pounds when those grains are consumed directly.
  • Livestock production accounts for 30 percent of the surface of the planet
  • Average American diet produces more than 15 pounds of CO2 per day which equals 5,600 pounds of CO2 emissions per person per year.
  • A vegan diet results in eliminating 1.5 tons of CO2 emissions annually, or eight pounds per day, when compared with a non-vegan diet.

Also, because the consumption of meat has turned into a huge industry, production and profit is essentially based on the ability quickly get animals . This situation compromises the quality of the meat you buy in the grocery store. There are a lot more hormones used to help animals mature quickly, and they are typically much less lean than in the past.

Another plus of a vegetarian diet – you get to eat at delicious vegetarian restaurants like and cook with food that has hilarious names like “chick’n” and “.”

*Statics courtesy of: UN, Food and Agriculture Organization, M.E. Ensminger, former chair of the Animal Sciences Department, Washington State University, Eshel G, and Martin P. Diet, Energy and Global Warming. Earth Interactions 10:1-17; 2006, and Center for Science in the Public Interest.

*Photo courtesy of  Joost J. Bakker/Flickr

-Caitlin Sanders

Caitlin Sanders is a senior at the University of Georgia. She is a public relations major graduating in May.

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27 Jan

We talk a lot on this blog about different ways you can implement greener living practices into your everyday life. But what we haven’t talked about in a while, is how you, as a college student, can act on behalf of our nation’s wild places by calling or writing your senators and representatives.

In the past session of Congress, the . And though one of the bills did come to the floor in the final days, no action was taken. Bummer!!

BUT this session, YOU can help change that. It takes literally a second to send an email or make a call to your congressmen and congresswomen to show your support for conservation, renewable energy, or recycling initiatives. Just click ACT! on our page for more information.

-Zoe Oreck

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22 Jan

What do Seattle University, Boston College and the University of Georgia have in common? They all promote efforts to limit waste by encouraging the use of tap water instead of bottled water. Some may underestimate water bottle consumption and its impacts on the environment. But, keep this figure in mind: 2.5 million. That’s the number of plastic water bottles Americans throw away every hour. And of those, less than a third of Americans actually recycle these bottles.

In an effort to educate students on the environmental, health and financial consequences of daily water choices, like purchasing water from a vending machine, the University of Georgia’s Go Green Alliance organization is hosting “Take Back the Tap” on February 2. “We are hoping to change [water] habits and ultimately change what’s sold in the vending machine,” said Emily Karol, Go Green Alliance President.

“Take Back the Tap” will also feature a “Tap That Taste-Test,” which is a blind taste-test of bottled and tap water. The goal of this activity is to illustrate how easy, cheap and good tap water is. Karol hopes this promotional, educational event produces action that results in less landfill waste and increase fuel conservation.

(For more water statistics, visit )

(For more on UGA’s Go Green alliance, visit )


-Austin Sewell

18 Jan

In this post I am going to tell a story about a place dear to my heart. It is a story about awakening, learning just how much you love a place that helped you become who you are. The place is the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area near Atlanta, Georgia. The story of where I realized my love for the hooch occurred hundreds of miles away on the precarious shores of the Chesapeake Bay.

As I was attending the Listening session for America’s Great Outdoors initiative in Annapolis, Maryland I was asked an interesting question in a breakout session. I was the youngest person in the room surrounded by accomplished conservationists and the undersecretary of the Agriculture Department for the Obama administration. I felt completely out of my league.

I was asked by an environmental professional from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, “where did you learn to become so passionate about conservation and environmental issues, and how do we get young people to care about these issues?”

The question caught me off guard. I scratched my head searching for an answer, “Well, my father is a photographer and as a child I traveled to many natural places with him. When I was in high school I frequented the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area just minutes from my home at Medlock Bridge. I used the quiet of the river as a place to seek solace, concentrate on homework, or just escape the pressures of teenage life.”

I continued, “perhaps it is time our education system incorporated experiential learning into the curriculum. America’s children play more video games, watch more TV, and spend more time on the computer than ever before. Children these days have limited contact with the natural world. The less time children spend outside, the harder it will be for people like us to convince society in the future that all these national parks and public lands are worthy public goods.”

The man turned to the undersecretary and said, “Sir, it is clear that more funds need to be directed towards buying land that is closer to major metropolitan centers. These areas of close-to-home recreation are where families come to teach their children to love the outdoors, clearly we need more.”

The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (NRA) offers local Atlanta residents close-to-home recreation. The NRA covers 48 miles of the Chattahoochee River in metropolitan Atlanta. If you haven’t had a chance to visit the NRA I suggest you head on out! Activities include: boating, hiking, fishing, bird watching, rock climbing (Island Ford Unit), and much more.

Although made up of many sites, the Medlock Bridge Unit is a treasure that I hold dear to my heart. It is the place where I first learned to embrace all the gifts that nature and a river can give and for that I am grateful.

- Jeremy Cherson

Jeremy Cherson is an Environmental Policy student at American University and an intern at The Wilderness Society. He is from Norcross, Georgia and enjoys hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, and playing several instruments. He is a contributor every Tuesday.

12 Jan

That’s right! The weather has been pretty wacky this winter in the South, as Mother Nature has given us unseasonably cold weather, snow and ice. The University of Georgia cancelled three days of class due to this “blizzard,” which was accurately predicted by nearly every local weather channel. That being said, grocery stores all around were crowded with endless lines of people stocking up on essentials and more. With overflowing grocery carts of stable foods, like eggs, milk and bread, as well as books and movies, I sensed that individuals were more hopeful the coming storm would be months-long instead of three days.

Two full days of snow packed nearly seven inches of white powder on cars and covered the ground, leaving no traces of where asphalt ends and grass begins.

Unfortunately, our winter wonderland will soon come to an end, as temperatures are rising and the sun is waking up. Not only does this mean classes will resume (oh well…had to happen eventually), but we will be left with an unwelcome wintry slush.

I hope you all had a wonderful winter vacation and are getting energized for a fresh, clean start to a new semester! Be safe walking around melting ice!


-Austin Sewell

6 Jan

Over the past decade we’ve seen a lot of technological improvements, especially in cars. I don’t know about you, but the heated seats and GPS in my ride are an awesome addition. However with rising gas prices, there’s another improvement just on the horizon—the electric car.

Major car companies like and are developing their own models, and energy companies like are developing electric “fueling” stations for both public places and households.

Some initiatives like are promoting the use of and provide information about electric vehicles. Sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Institute, Project Get Ready is also seeking to create a network of cities that will support the electric car enterprise.

Just like other new models, these cars come fully equipped with awesome features. boasts a brand new version of a Bose Soundsystem, and has two screens that can tell you battery power and distance to the next fueling station. Cool right?

So even if you’re not really in the market for a new car this year, definitely start looking out for these babies–I’ve got a feeling they may shock you (hehe).

-Zoe Oreck

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4 Jan

Happy 2011!! While we look back on 2010 and make New Year’s resolutions, why not add going green to your list? Just by taking small steps can not only help the planet; it can also help your bank account.

Our top ten green tips for 2011:

  1. Recycle! It cuts back on trash in landfills.
  2. Change to LED lights. LED lights save electricity and saves money on your energy bill.
  3. Buy a water filter. Use a filter instead of water bottles. It saves money and plastic.
  4. Get a digital thermostat. Set it to 68 in the winter and 76 in the summer
  5. Unplug chargers not in use. They pull energy even if nothing is plugged in.
  6. Switch to reusable grocery bags.
  7. Make sure your appliances are energy efficient! Appliances use the most energy in a home.
  8. Support green companies. Look for labels that denote recycling and other green business initiatives.
  9. Turn of lights and fans when you’re not in the room.
  10. Car pool! Use the bus or catch a ride with a friend. Saves your gas money, and the planet!

All these tips are easy and take little effort. Why not make a huge change this year for your budget as well as the earth.

3 Jan

I traveled down to Florida during this Christmas. The further south I went, the  weather kept getting warmer and warmer, a nice break from the  snowy and chilly weather in Athens. My first stop was the St Petersburg beach. I enjoyed the beautiful sunset  there. You cannot imagine the magic until you’ve been there yourself! 

When I looked up into the sky, lots of sea gulls were hovering over head.

My second stop was a farm in the  suburbs of St Petersburg. The sunshine and the comfortable climate really relaxed me, a big difference from the pace of school. Plus, I got to know several new kinds of animals there. What an experience!

This trip only lasted  about a week, but this trip was truly remarkable. It helped me feel more in touch with nature, by getting away from a big city filled with heavy traffic jams and air pollution. This trip also gave me a chance to take a breath and relax in a lovely habitat.

Merry Christmas!!

By Sisie Nong

26 Dec

Romanticized by songs like “White Christmas” and classic holiday films, seeing snow on Christmas has always been a fantasy of mine. What might be an ordinary day to our friends in Vermont is a rare treat for us Georgians.

Well, yesterday this southerner’s dream came true when Georgia and Alabama (my home state) boasted their first white Christmas since 1882!

Flurries have continued today, minimizing the number of churchgoers this Sunday as well as .

I hope that the snow didn’t force you to have to cancel plans at the last minute, leaving you bitter toward this exciting time. On the other hand, I hope you have enjoyed the snow in all of its white splendor.

Sure, it’s great to drink hot cocoa and snuggle by the fire, but don’t forget to go outside and experience a phenomenon that is rare for the month of December. In my opinion, no one is too old for sledding, building a snow man, or having snow ball fights. Find your inner child and get outside.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy Hanukkah!

Oh, and before you head outside, check out this inspirational music scene from the classic holiday film White Christmas:

See this here

-Margaret Watford