There’s something about chocolate that makes Natalie Suwanprakorn, founder of Armadillo Chocolates, fall in love with the substance. Since October 2011, Suwanprakorn has been learning and experimenting on crafting handmade artisanal chocolates out of a warehouse in Gainesville, Fla. The result is a mesmerizing display of colorful chocolates and an explosion of exotic, infused flavor with each chocolate.
The University of Florida Shower Coach Campaign: Can You Take a Five Minute Shower? was initiated in the fall of 2009 in the Yulee area. Since then it has expanded to all undergraduate areas. Gilles Attipoe addresses how successful it is in his hall, and why he conserves water.
What to look for when shopping for new appliances
Robert Baggett was in search of a new washer after his old one croaked.
The 22-year-old air conditioning mechanic decided to do his research this time around. Energy Star, a blue star sticker placed on energy and water efficient appliances, helped him make his decision.
Energy Star is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy that aims to assist money savings and environmental protection by promoting energy efficient products and practices.
When shopping for new appliances, there are three prices to consider. The first is the purchase price, which is what people see up front. The second price is for repairs and maintenance. The third is the operating cost of the appliance.
Energy Star qualified appliances are known for their higher ticket price than non-qualified appliances.
But shopping for appliances isn’t all about money. The label was established in 1992 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants caused by the inefficient use of energy and reduce operating costs.
Since the start, Americans, with the help of Energy Star, have saved nearly $23 billion on their energy bills while preventing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the emissions of more than 40 million vehicles, said Rosemarie Stephens-Booker, the Energy Star appliance program manager.
Other than looking for an Energy Star sticker, customer should also consider the size and style of the appliance.
Know the size of the space the appliance will live in and be sure the style is functional in the space.
There are countless models and brands to consider, so customers should compare each before purchasing. Deciding which features are more important can help eliminate different models.
But operating costs can be a deciding factor.
Typically, Energy Star qualified appliances use 10 to 50 percent less energy and water than their counterparts, according to the Energy Star website. Clothes washers with the seal use an average of $60 a year.
“I use it because the less water we use, the more we have,” Baggett said.
Energy Star qualified washers use about 30 percent less energy and half the amount of water used by regular washers and qualified dishwashers are. On average, the washers are 10 percent more energy efficient and 12 percent more water efficient than standard models, according to the Energy Star website.
However, not all appliance types are eligible. For example, you will not see a clothes dryer with the logo because there is little difference in energy use between models.
Currently, only the following six appliance types have Energy Star guidelines: washers, dehumidifiers, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, room air-conditioners and room air cleaners.
“I knew I was going to spend a good amount, but I knew that an Energy Star appliance will save money in the long run, and it saves a lot of water,” Baggett said. “Besides it’s only a matter of time before it pays for itself.”
A qualified appliance can save more than $1,000 over its lifetime, Stephens-Booker said.
But not all people feel the same way.
“I want to save as much money as I can as fast as I can,” said Esther Dasom Bae, a biology major at the University of Florida. “I’d rather save the money up front instead of waiting for the savings to happen.”
Bae also listed her lack of income to buy a more expensive washer as a reason why she would not use the energy efficient appliances. She also said she doesn’t do enough laundry to accrue enough savings from her washer.
Qualified products, such as clothes washers, are more expensive because of the nature of the technology, Stephens-Booker said.
Front-load washers use about 65 percent less water and 45 percent less electricity than a normal top load washer, according to Tina Smith, a major appliance product specialist at Home Depot.
The greatest advantage of a front-load washing machine is its energy efficiency. Front-loaders utilize less water, clean clothes better and remove more moisture, which reduces drying time, Smith said.
The EPA chooses their products based on how products contribute significant energy savings nationwide, whether purchasers should recover their investments in energy savings and inclusion of features customers want.
“The goal of the Energy Star program is to make it easy for consumers to identify products that save energy, save money and help protect the environment,” Stephens-Booker said.
Eric and Susan Scites are two glass harp players from Ohio who travel to fairs all over the U.S. to show to people the art and science behind the water-filled musical instrument.
By Alejandria Artiles
Around The World, Water Speaks Music
Water vessels, water drums, the glass harp and the rain stick are all musical instruments with one thing in common: the creators of these instruments were inspired by water to communicate sound.
On every corner of the planet, water is used to tune certain instruments, like for the glass harp, or to create different pitches, like the water drum, which is used by some Native American tribes in the U.S. as well as in parts of Africa as rituals or for fun. Welson Tremura, a UF associate professor of music and Latin American studies, said that in most societies people use water on instruments to express either their need for the resource or their relationship with it.
“Water has been used to produce sound, as far as I am concerned, as long as music has been around,” he said.
The rain stick, which is an instrument made of a hollow tube filled with pebbles or beads, imitates the sound of falling rain.
It was created in South America by the Diaguita Indians, who live in the Atacama Desert area in the North of Chile.
In that region, the dry season can last several months, so the Diaguita people believe that by playing the instrument they could produce a storm.
Today, Tremura said, the rain stick is used around the world as a percussion instrument to create sound effects, transitions or to set a mood on a song.
He said that different cultures use water in music according to the role the resource has on their social environment. In some places, it is use as a way to portray its scarcity and in others to celebrate its presence.
Some tribes in Africa, such as the Baka from Cameroon, and the Vanuatu of the Guazu Island in South Asia, play “drums” directly from the water of rivers.
The players stand with cupped hands and hit the surface of the water to simulate the sound of drums, each of them playing a different beat. They call it “play the river” or liquindi.
“People use the resources they have and creativity to make their own musical instruments from all sort of things,” Tremura said.
Some instruments use friction and water to communicate sound. Water vessels are common in India, water bottles in the Caribbean, and the glass harp, which was created in Europe in the 1700s.
Eric Scites, who plays the glass harp and has a bachelor’s degree in music performance, said that the instrument was said to cause dementia, headache and even death, but that beyond all the superstitions for him it is a very relaxing instrument to play.
The water drums from Africa are another type of instrument, where a hollow gourd cut in half and put on top of a bowl filled with water is used to create musical sounds.
Mohamed DaCosta, a senior lecturer in African performing arts and affiliate faculty in the Center for World Arts at the University of Florida, said that when the gourds are played with the hands they create a bass tone. The sound changes depending on the moving of the water underneath.
“For a better sound, the water needs to be steady,” he said.
DaCosta, who has played the instrument, said that traditionally it was played by women in many African tribes and that today it has become an important element of Afro-pop music.
John Fadden, director of the Six Nations Indian Museum located in Onchiota, N.Y., said that some Native American groups use the water drums in social gatherings to celebrate and for dance and in ceremonial events where they give thanks to things in nature that help them prosper, like corn and water.
The drums are made out of wood of around 6 to 7 inches with a coated interior to make it waterproof. The drum chamber is filled with water to achieve different sounds, and the drum tanned head must be both tight and saturated with water for the best performance.
“It is not like a regular drum sound,” he said. “It is a sweet sound, and for some reason, even though it is not loud, it has carrying capabilities and you can hear it from a great distance.”
Members of what is known as the six nations’ tribes: Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk and Tuscarora, play the water drums today in festivals around the country, Fadden said, to preserve its tradition and to gain a living as well.
“Water, as a musical instrument, is part of the creative process that people use to communicate their emotions and feelings about their region as well,” Tremura said.
Studying people’s behavior saves more water
by Allysar Hassan
Sage Bronstein knows the U.S. is in a water crisis, but like many of us, she doesn’t feel she can do much to help.
“Would the few gallons of water I save by taking a shorter shower really make a difference at all?” she said.
Studies show that information is not enough to urge consumers to save water. There can be a shift in the statistics, but a change in how water conservation campaigns are done must improve, said Anna Prizzia, director of the University of Florida’s Office of Sustainability.
“I can just create a poster about the top 10 things you can do to save water, and there you go, look how pretty it is. Everyone is reading it. Isn’t that great? But those bring a 0 to 2 percent efficacy rate,” Prizzia said.
Psychologists and sociologists are using their experience studying people’s behavior to team with sustainability researchers to identify what barriers stop people from saving water. For some people, barriers include not feeling like they can make a difference, not understanding how to use conservation tools, fear of accepting Earth’s natural limits and a lack of incentive to save water because the cost of water is cheap.
“People are the connection between our natural resources and society, and if we don’t understand people and how they interact or what their motivations are, we can never expect to make a change,” she said.
Prizzia said identifying barriers helps researchers focus on targeting a specific behavior to empower people with the tools to make changes. For example, not understanding how to use a timer on a sprinkler might be a barrier.
“I mean, I have one and it’s really hard to understand. Just in order to turn it off, I had to learn some basic engineering,” Prizzia said.
She said another barrier is when people don’t feel like they have the ability to make a significant difference. It’s hard to see how saving a few 100 gallons of water a month is going to make an impact or reverse the effects of water already wasted.
But they can. Just by running the dishwasher and clothes washer on only when they are full can save about 1,000 gallons a month, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Ron Chandler, researcher in psychology and sustainability, said people are reluctant to make changes to save water because of a psychological theory called Terror Management.
Chandler said the theory, first proposed by Ernest Becker about 30 years ago, shows the key psychological mechanism to asocial behavior or ecological behavior is fear.
He said fear arises from a semiconscious awareness that we are mortal beings, and that fear keeps individuals from being responsive and changing behaviors like wasting water. When people are shown the facts about the U.S. water shortage, they are reminded mortality. That can force their unconscious to accept the earth’s finiteness, and they can see that there are natural and personal limits to their existence.
Because water is cheap and easily accessible, there are few economic incentives to conserve it. This can become another barrier for people to overcome when trying to encourage them to make behavior changes in how they see and use water conservatively, said Stacie Greco, water conservation coordinator for the Alachua County Environmental Protection Agency.
People think shutting off the faucet when brushing their teeth doesn’t make a difference, but it can save up to 10 gallons of water a day, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Greco said people get water two ways through a city or a well. People purchase through a municipality tend to try to save water, because they are paying for it, but water access is underpriced. Unless you are a business that uses a lot of water, it is hard to see the savings. When water is accessed through a well, industries are not paying anything for the water. Also, in businesses might not see a reason to spend money up-front to do the retrofits that would reduce savings.
Water is inexpensive now in the U.S., but it may not be if people continue to use it carelessly. Every time a sink goes on, water is being pulled out of the Florida aquifer and it becomes less available. For example, a part of Tampa has to desalinate salt water to get fresh water and that is a huge expense, Greco said.
People might not see a huge savings in their pocketbooks by changing daily habits, like taking shorter showers or turning off the water when washing dishes, but they will have groundwater as a source for much longer if they begin saving it now. Otherwise, water will have to be imported from desalination plants and the cost of it will sky rocket, Greco said.
Prizzia said research shows people who are intrinsically motivated, meaning they try to do something for self reward, behave more consistently and are open to adapting new behaviors than people who are externally motivated with or when a person expects a reward.
An incentive is a strong idea if it’s a behavior that someone only needs to change once—like installing a soil-moisture censor in his or her lawn, Przzia said.
When people are intrinsically motivated they are more likely to change, because they see how it not only affects them personally but their children and the generations to follow them, she said
“I think what people respond to the most is when it connects to their personal lives,” Prizzia said.
She is adapting this into how she conducts campaigns. The first step is identifying a target audience and studying what motivates them and what barriers stop them from conserving water. Prizzia said she wants to focus on people who irrigate their lawns even when they are lush and green, because more than 50 percent of homes use fresh drinking water on just landscape.
“I want to work with that population and not make them feel guilty, but try to motivate them,” she said.
Prizzia is asking if the health of the springs can be tied to water conservation or do people feel that they live so far away that they don’t see their actions affecting the springs.
Again, people have to be intrinsically motivated to conserve water. They may feel more personally responsible if they are thinking of their grandkids in the future
She said everyone in the community has a responsibility to save water. The government helps the public understand regulations and assist in removing barriers, such as homeowner association’s landscape restrictions. Nonprofit organizations educate and provide tools to the public so they can make effective behavior changes. Individuals can make a difference whether large or small, intrinsic or externally motivated, can to ensure that there will be water for the generations after us.
“Each of us have a role to play,” Prizzia said.
Staying hydrated when you exercise is the most important part of keeping fit, since humans are 80 percent water – but how do you decide what to drink? Is water better? What about sports drinks or energy drinks? Here are a few different perspectives on what you should drink and why.
Energy drinks, Redline may be dangerous during exercise; Sports drinks or water preferred
Not every drink designed for exercise will be a perfect fit for those working out. For example, it’s a growing trend for teenagers and college students to drink energy drinks during their workout.
According to The New York Times article Energy drinks may put teenagers at risk, a third of 12- to 24-year olds say they drink energy drinks, much like Redline, on a regular basis, according to health researchers. The risks include nausea, abnormal heart rhythms and emergency room visits.
Redline, made by Vital Pharmaceuticals, is just one of these energy drinks, and it is being marketed as “the ultimate energy rush.” The drink, which also comes in capsule-form, is designed to improve exercise performance and weight loss.
At the University of Florida, student Justin Yeung has even tried to use it to replace water during exercise. The bottle is designed to be taken before a workout, not in the middle, and have markers on the side for servings. One bottle has two servings.
Yeung said he used to drink the seven-hour energy shots version of Redline. The drink gave him a lot of energy, but it didn’t last seven hours, he said.
“I would highly recommend following the printed instructions, and only take half of the bottle so that you can assess tolerance,” Yeung said “I made the mistake of drinking all of my first bottle and was jumping up the walls with energy.”
Yeung said that while Redline gave him shivers, the real deterrent was the taste, which he said matched medicine more than the claimed flavor. He said he preferred the taste of 5-hour Energy shots, which tasted more like to apple juice.
But drinking energy drinks like Redline can be harmful, especially to younger people.
The American Beverage Association guidelines for energy drinks states that energy drinks may not be marketed to children nor labeled as a sports drink, both requirements satisfied by Vital Pharmaceutical’s marketing strategy for Redline.
In March, 2008, four middle-school-aged boys from Broward County were taken to the hospital after drinking Redline. They had increased heart rates, were sweating and were lightheaded. They had shared the bottle.
In fact, ABA states that it believes sports drinks are best for those who work out, the first of which being Gatorade.
“Sports drinks have a long history of scientific research showing their benefits for hydration, which is necessary for overall health and wellness,” said Tracey Halliday, vice president of communications for ABA. “These functional beverage products contain electrolytes and were created to help athletes and other active people hydrate before, during and after exercise.”
Despite the incidents, Redline does provide an energy boost during a workout, said Mike Fabiano, the key account manager of Vita Pharmaceuticals. He said Redline is harmless when taken properly.
Fabiano and VPX paid for a clinical trial of Redline in September, 2008, where 12 athletes drank either Redline or a placebo before beginning to work out. They were asked a series of questions about their energy levels before, during and after working out and measured on performance during workouts, including reaction speed and strength.
The trial results showed half the athletes, the ones who drank Redline, worked harder during exercise and felt less tired afterward.
However, Fabiano said water shouldn’t be dropped from the routine.
“It’s essential people consume enough water before, during and after exercise,” he said. “Obviously how much water is really individualistic and based on several factors.”
These factors include how hard people work out and how much they sweat, he said.
Drew Drechsel, a trainer at F2 Arena & Darkside Athletics, said he wouldn’t touch the stuff before a workout ever again.
“I was on a train, right before a meet, and I drank two Redline,” he said. “I don’t know if you know, but one Redline is the equivalent of three Red Bull.”
His story ends with his friend and a stranger on the train, a pre-med student, asking if he was OK. He was not OK.
“My heart was racing. I felt like I was having a heart attack.”
Rebecca Foster, president of the 1400-member Gators Humans vs. Zombies club at UF, said she wouldn’t recommend Redline to any of her members, despite the high levels of activity required during each semester’s game play.
“Personally, any drink that has a video of three people losing 127 pounds in 12 weeks is mildly terrifying,” she said. “Any drink in general that advertises high levels of energy freaks me out. I’m a black-coffee kind of girl, though.”
When Foster works out, she drinks only water. She said any recommendation beyond water would be Gatorade or milk, for those who exercise a lot. She and other club officers carry bottles of water for anyone in Gators Humans vs. Zombies who are feeling dehydrated.
Redline comes in five flavors: watermelon kiwi, grape, strawberry lemonade, triple berry and peach mango. It also comes in a “princess” version that also includes mood-enhancing ingredients, designed to help women regulate their moods while working out.
“It’s like Powerthirst, but it turns your fat into turbo fat,” Foster said. Powerthirst is an energy drink that became popular on the Internet. “Turbo fat produces an energy equivalent to that of a 14-year-old at a [Justin] Bieber concert who just ate a box of Pixy Stix.”
By Sixtine Gurrey
When Cornelia Holbrook started replacing the toilets in her 18-room bed and breakfast inn to low-flow toilets, it cost about $400 per toilet for plumbing and then some. She did not know financial aid existed.
“I didn’t know [financial help] was out there,” said Holbrook, owner of the Sweetwater Branch Inn Bed and Breakfast. “It would be wonderful if there was a resource for businesses to go to for conservation.”
Small business owners, like Holbrook, who could have used incentives and rebates to conserve water in Florida may find it more difficult than expected to find them.
Water management districts, agencies or programs like Florida Water Star regulate water conservation efforts. But, a lack of funding and the slow but gradual development of their conservation programs limit the reach of their initiatives.
As a result, small businesses look for help at the local level, where more incentives to conserve are available, yet still limited.
At the state level, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) delegates water conservation to five water management districts and other agencies and programs that deal more with water supply, consumption and conservation.
For example, the districts take part in the Florida Water Star program that certifies residential builders and business owners for building and landscaping according to conservation standards set by the program.
Why is that? Irrigation.
“Irrigation is the low hanging fruit in water efficiency. It’s the first thing to address,” said Deirdre Irwin, Florida Water Star coordinator.
Florida has no mandatory standards for what a residential irrigation system should have, making it a wide-open industry. Builders pay for the least expensive system, and as a result, systems are installed that end up spending more than what is needed to properly maintain a landscape, said Irwin.
Irrigation counted for 31 percent of water use in the U.S. in the last released U.S. Geological Survey. Thermoelectric power accounted for 49 percent of water use.
Florida Water Star works closer with business owners who are looking to build rather than owners who already have an establishment. Making changes in existing irrigation and water systems are more difficult and more expensive.
“If a business is building and the owner is the builder, they will immediately see the savings in their utility bills,” said Irwin.
Even though Florida Water Star recently expanded to all water management districts this year, not all incentives and mandates are offered statewide. Available incentives and mandates depend on location and partnerships with sponsors. Also, the program has been slow to expand statewide because of limited funding in certain districts.
As a result, it is up to the local governments and counties to promote water conservation.
Cities and counties across Florida have passed ordinances and resolutions to save water, especially in anticipation of water conservation month in April.
In Gainesville, the regional utility service offers a few services for businesses. Most of them concern irrigation, such as irrigation maintenance, leak inspections, a rain sensor rebate to keep the irrigation system from running when there is enough water in the ground.
But irrigation concerns do not apply to all small businesses because many don’t have lawns or landscaping.
A customized business rebate is also available. It takes into account methods to reduce not only water consumption, but also electric and gas. Methods range from behavioral changes to replacing equipment, said Steve Elliott, Business Efficiency Program coordinator for Gainesville Regional Utilities.
Limited incentives for businesses to reduce water usage are not the only problem. There is also a possible lack of interest in water conservation.
“Businesses don’t seem to care about water,” Elliott said. “We just can’t seem to get through to them.”
In the three years Elliott has worked as business efficiency program coordinator for GRU, no business has ever approached him about the rain sensor rebate.
Elliott also inspects businesses that have unusually high water and electricity bills. He advises them on various changes that can be made. They can be as small as fixing a leaky faucet or as large as replacing the irrigation system. Elliott found that the simple fixes are often overlooked, while the larger ones are too expensive for businesses.
They way businesses see it, water is not yet an issue and economics can support this.
“Water is underpriced,” said Sanford Berg, distinguished service professor of economics at the University of Florida. “No one is paying for it.”
Consumers pay for the transportation and sanitation of their water and that is cheap. The price will not change as long as the supply remains steady. If the demand for water increases without an increase in supply of water, there will come a point where the price of water will have to rise, Berg said.
“Water is one of those issues that all policy makers at all levels find it much more convenient to push off to the next generation of policy makers,” Berg said. “It is too expensive to deal with it. So, they urge people to use less or to do something to make it seem that they are doing something about it.”
Local nonprofit organizations, like Neutral Gainesville, are stepping up.
Neutral Gainesville works with local businesses and local residents to offset their environmental footprint by purchasing water and energy retrofits, such as low flow sink aerators or energy efficient light bulbs. The savings made by those changes are then invested back into supporting low-income retrofits for subsidized housing projects in Gainesville.
Neutral Gainesville exposes businesses to inexpensive ways to conserve water.
“There’s a lot of retrofits you can do, but there’s a lot of behavioral things you can do and sometimes they can equal each other,” said Jacob Cravey, co-founder of Earth Givers, a nonprofit organization that operates the Neutral Gainesville initiative.
Awareness is key to the Neutral Gainesville initiative.
“The first thing is education,” Cravey said. “I think a larger education platform on how to engage people, how to incentivize. I don’t think telling people not to [consume water] is going to get their attention or get them to buy into the larger reason why.”
As Florida’s population continues to expand and the demand for water increases, the price of water is expected to increase. Neutral Gainesville and GRU are starting early to help with water conservation by educating as many people and businesses.
“Water is becoming a commodity that there is not a lot of,” Elliott said. “It’s just going to become more and more important in the next couple years, too.”
 The last released US Geological Survey was in 2005. The 2010 survey results have not yet been released, according to their web site.
uFeel is a plug-in that aims to give news organizations a more collaborative relationship with their readers. It is added to an article to ask readers how they or their communities are affected by the issue addressed. Respondents submit a personal essay, editorial or article relating to the issue. The responses are analyzed to find trends and new angles. News organizations can the work those who shared stories to develop new stories . The articles are also edited and published on a webpage that is dedicated to the issue. With uFeel, news organizations and the public get what they want, while working together.
Introducing an app that allows you to know how possible laws aka bills will impact your future. The app uses data to rate the law’s impact on you on a scale from 1-10. Hey bill uses simple words and descriptions to explain bills. It also shows a bill’s progress toward becoming a law and gives you the contact information for the politicians overseeing the bill. Hey bill where politics gets personal.
We all have that topic that we feel passionate about, that we could spend hours talking about. We all have read an article about a subject that we know really well and said ‘WOW, this person got it all wrong.’
We all want information out there to be right, and we want our voice to be heard. What if there is a website where you can share your knowledge and help the media get information right?
Meet SourceUs, a database of people, not experts. It creates a conversation about knowledge and lets people talk about what they think is important.
(Alejandria Artiles and Kathryn Milstein)
Professionals Connected is a platform where employees in the education field can connect. It is made for like-minded individuals who are passionate about education and want to work with others to promote change. They can participate through the Internet, smart phone or bi-monthly magazine, which is sent to public school across the country. They can also connect with journalists to help promote their ideas or to be used as expert sources for education-related articles. Essentially, Professionals Connected is a platform where journalists and education professionals—teachers, faculty members, librarians, custodians, etc.— work together to improve education.