Greening Our Energy Future Can Start at Home

Talked to your friends lately about the importance of renewable energy? If so, those conversations may have focused on the need for more government investment or a stronger pro-renewables energy policy. What can easily get overlooked is our ability to support renewables directly. When it comes to green power, our purchasing power can make a difference.

Whether you live in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, you can choose your “electric supplier” – the company that produces your electricity. This isn’t new. Both states deregulated their utility markets in the 1990s, requiring utilities (such as PECO, JCP&L and PSE&G) to sell off their generation assets and begin purchasing energy on the wholesale market. Since the late 1990s, both PA and NJ consumers have been able to purchase energy from competing suppliers. But while many took advantage of that opportunity, energy “choice” got off to a relatively slow start as suppliers figured out how to compete profitably and attract consumers. Read more

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Shop ’til you drop, but try to keep it local

Thanks to American Express, post-Thanksgiving shopping now encompasses not only Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but also Small Business Saturday. This type of corporate support can do a lot to raise the profile of localism. But the “shop local” thing really represents a grass-roots movement, fueled by people all over the globe who get the critical importance of supporting small, independent businesses in their own communities.

Why Local Matters

While Black Friday is all about getting the latest item before stores run out — or getting the best deal while it lasts — buying from independent local shops has a less fleeting purpose. It actually helps sustain and build the economy in your town (and neighboring towns) by increasing the amount of times your dollars can circulate through the local economy. The “love your local” and “shop local” campaigns throughout the Delaware River Valley have undoubtedly made a difference over the past few years, keeping many shops going and even thriving despite the weak economy. We can show our appreciation by supporting those shops during the holiday season. And we can go a step further by seeking out items that are sourced and/or made locally (artisanal foods, fine art, hand-crafted gifts) or that are made from eco-conscious materials and support triple-bottom line and fair trade practices.

How to Shop Local

The Delaware River Valley offers endless opportunities to shop local, independent, hand-made and green.

  • On the town. New Hope, Lambertville, Stockton, Sergeantsville, Frenchtown, Doylestown and Newtown…take your pick or visit them all. For details

New Hope: http://www.lambertville.org/

Lambertville: http://www.visitnewhope.com/

Doylestown:http://doylestownalive.com/business/ShowBusinesses.cfm?submit1=555&expandlisting=TRUE&webname=dalive

  • Off the beaten path. When you’re heading “into town,” don’t bypass the many unique shops tucked in along back-country roads. If you’re looking for something out-of-the-ordinary or representative of the area, also consider shopping for gifts at farmers’ markets and farm-owned stores. Check Fresh’s Local Resources: Farm-Fresh Food for ideas.
  • At galleries and art/craft shows. In addition to the many galleries throughout the area, there are plenty of holiday shows featuring local artisans and fine artists. One of our favorites is the Covered Bridge Artisans show: http://www.coveredbridgeartisans.com/. Check local papers for others.
  • Online — but local. If you’re more of a Cyber Monday kind of shopper, you can still support local businesses simply by visiting their online shops. It’s also possible to search for local vendors on large online marketplaces, such as Etsy.com, the “Amazon” of handmade gifts. (Full disclosure: Fresh recently launched an Etsy shop featuring hand-painted picture frames. You can visit at: www.etsy.com/shop/freshbyhand.) To find vendors close to home, simply go to Etsy.com, click “Shop Local” and type in your town and state.

Have a great Small Business Saturday — and local holiday shopping season!

Helping Others This Thanksgiving

Many of us will spend Thanksgiving sharing a wonderful home cooked meal with family and friends. But for a growing number of people, that simple pleasure remains far out of reach. Over the past few years, the economy has led to a sizeable increase in the number of Americans facing “food insecurity.” Now Sandy has made matters worse.

Fortunately, many people have responded to the recent disaster by generously donating  time, money and household goods to local organizations as well as those serving the hardest hit areas at the Jersey Shore and in New York. Schools, organizations and individuals also have been helping by donating items to food banks, many of which lost supplies during the power outage and need to re-stock their shelves.

If you would like to volunteer to serve a meal on Thanksgiving (or next month, on Christmas) or donate food items, which will continue to be in need in the weeks ahead, take a look at these food pantry listings, both local and at the shore.

Local Food Pantries

www.fishermansmark.org

http://www.trentonsoupkitchen.org

http://www.foodinbucks.org/pantry_central.php

http://flemfp.com

Jersey Shore Food Pantries

http://www.app.com/viewart/20121114/NJNEWS/311140075/?odyssey=tab%7Cmo

http://www.foodpantries.org/ci/nj-brickstpopular%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE

Happy Thanksgiving!

Lessons in Sustainability, Compliments of Sandy

In the aftermath of the worst storm most of us have ever experienced, adopting a more sustainable, self-sufficient lifestyle may take on a greater sense of urgency.

Generally speaking, the sustainability movement is a response to the understanding that resources we have long taken for granted – in particular, food, water and non-renewable energy sources – are not in endless supply. But it’s one thing to take “politically correct” steps to forge a brighter future. It’s a whole other thing to experience what life might be like without our most precious resources.

Now that many of us have had that experience, living for days or weeks without electricity, running water, phone service, television, Internet or easy access to gasoline, we may want to move plans for living more sustainably onto the front burner. Following are suggestions for 1) becoming more self-reliant in emergencies like Sandy; 2) strengthening our community ties; and 3) reducing our dependence on vulnerable “modern” resources. Read more

We Interrupt This Blog for An Important Message: Go Vote

It’s Tuesday, November 6, 2012. Election Day is finally here. Wherever you live, whatever else is on your calendar today, Fresh urges you to get to the polls and exercise your right to vote. As you know, democracy is only sustainable if we all participate.

Since this is a presidential election, most of us will step into the voting booth with that important office on our minds. But many of us also will have a chance to vote for local or state representatives or ballot initiatives on issues affecting our communities, counties or state.

You’ve already made up your mind on the big question. If you’re still considering other candidates or issues, you may want to evaluate them in terms of how well they support sustainability in the Delaware River Valley. Does a candidate support open space? conservation? strong schools? Does a ballot initiative have implications for the area’s economic growth as well as its environmental well-being? Today’s your day to choose what the future may hold for our area and our country.

Happy Election Day!