Donald Redman, President of US Energy Solutions, says there has never been a better time, financially, for consumers in South Carolina to turn to solar energy. The Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit allows homeowners and businesses to receive a dollar-for-dollar credit on their tax liability equaling 30 percent of the installed cost from their federal taxes, and South Carolina’s Solar Energy Tax Credit lets residents claim a state tax credit of 25 percent of the entire installed cost of a Solar Photovoltaic (PV) system.
Seeing lost, injured or orphaned animals is heartbreaking, but unless a wild animal is in immediate danger from prey or traffic, it’s best to wait and observe. Mothers forage for food and return to the babies intermittently. If in doubt, call a wildlife rehabber for advice.
After World War II, cotton, wool and linen fell out of favor as wash and wear, stain-resistant, permanent-press polyester arrived. Annual production of the synthetic fiber, consuming petroleum, coal, air and water resources, today exceeds 22 billion tons. Americans alone discard 14 million tons of clothing each year—80 pounds per person—with 80 percent going to landfills, where polyester takes 20 to 200 years to biodegrade.
Many of the greener choices are now a tremendous bargain for consumers. The federal government currently offers a tax credit of up to $4,500 for electrified vehicles, and many states kick in with added subsidies. Highlights include maximums available for electric vehicles (EV) with big batteries: California, $1,500 in rebates, plus single-occupant use of the high-occupancy vehicle lanes; Colorado, $5,000; Connecticut, $3,000; Delaware, $2,200; Maryland, $3,000; Massachusetts, $2,500; Michigan, $2,500; Pennsylvania, $2,000; Rhode Island, $2,500; Texas, $2,500; and Utah, $750.
“My top herb garden choice for the hot, humid conditions in the South is Tuscan blue rosemary, because it is beautiful, easy to grow and is wonderful in all kinds of foods and products,” Kessler says. “It blooms in several seasons and provides bees with off-season food.”
Innovations Boost Energy Efficiency John D. Ivanko and Liam Kivirist Smart, innovative, technological breakthroughs are making buildings more energy-efficient, healthier to live in and highly attuned to our connected world. “Homeowners continue to be interested in green building options because they help foster a healthier, more comfortable and affordable home—and it’s good for the environment,” says Dan Chiras, Ph.D., of Gerald, Missouri, founding director of the Evergreen Institute and author of The Homeowner’s Guide to Renewable Energy.
For instance, replacing Kentucky bluegrass, Bermuda grass or another non-native species with natives can deliver drought resistance and lower irrigation needs; eliminate any need for fertilizers or toxic pesticides; reduce or eliminate labor-intensive and often polluting mowing and edging; enhance the beauty of a home; and attract birds, butterflies and other wildlife.
“The number of U.S. cemeteries allowing natural burials has increased by 30 in the last year,” says Elizabeth Fournier, owner of Cornerstone Funeral Services, in Boring, Oregon. “More than 150 cemeteries allow them now. We encourage replacing cut flowers with plants. A multipurpose wooden casket can serve as a bookshelf until needed, or a casket can be made of natural wicker, paper or grass.” Formaldehyde-free embalming fluids made of non-toxic and biodegradable essential oils allow for a synthetic chemical-free burial…Each (pet) urn comes with a seed for a tree or shrub and the proper soil to help it grow…Eternal reefs are made of ashes mixed with cement placed in the ocean in a military-style ceremony to help support marine life for at least 500 years…Music lovers can choose to have their ashes compressed into a vinyl record. A live recording of goodbyes, a last will and testament or compilation of favorite songs can be prerecorded. Ashes can also be compressed into colorful memorial gemstones ready to be set into jewelry to keep a loved one close.
Today’s mass-produced furniture may contain hidden chemicals such as formaldehyde-based adhesives, flame retardants and other volatile organic compounds (VOC) linked to serious health issues. Researchers from the Natural Resources Defense Council found 45 toxic chemicals in indoor dust, 10 of which were present in at least 90 percent of households sampled. “These chemicals enter the air as materials in the furnishings break down,” explains healthy home expert Lisa Beres. “Because we spend an average of 90 percent of our lives indoors, the exposure to harmful chemicals is troubling.”
Skin outbreaks can also be the result of food sensitivities or food allergies. “I make patients aware of the issues underlying their skin problems so that they understand the connection between internal health and skin. Then they can make conscious food choices,” says Dattner.