How Green Is Your House?

— Living an eco-friendly lifestyle starts at home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, residential use accounts for more than one-fifth of the nation’s total energy consumption. Adopting an earth-first, energy saving mindset will let you make adjustments around your home so that you can feel good about your family’s contributions to protect the environment.

Green energy

Improving your home’s energy efficiency is not only good for the planet, it’s good for your wallet. After all, wasted energy is money lost in monthly utility bills. Numerous factors influence a home’s energy efficiency, or lack thereof. Air leaks, outdated appliances or inefficient heating and cooling systems can all negatively impact your home’s energy usage.

Structural improvements

Correcting any structural issues can go a long way toward making your home more efficient. Give your home a thorough inspection to identify and repair leaks and cracks around windows, doors and duct work. Remember that poorly sealed attics and basements are also common culprits of energy loss.

Appliances and major systems

Upgrading your appliances and temperature control systems also helps drive more efficient energy use throughout the house. Look for ENERGY STAR-certified products, which are designed to save energy without sacrificing on performance. Where possible, make purchases that will perform double duty, such as high-efficiency washing machines that can save on both energy and water usage.

Fuel sources

Choosing the right energy source can also help lessen your impact on the environment. For example, using propane-powered appliances in your home can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to a recent study sponsored by the Propane Education & Research Council, propane-powered furnaces emit 73 percent fewer greenhouse gases than electricity. Similarly, propane-powered storage water heaters emit approximately 39 percent less greenhouse gas than electric storage models.

For more information about using propane and propane-powered appliances in your home, visit

Green upgrades

Shopping smart to incorporate high-efficiency appliances and electronics into your home is just a first step. There are many other ways you can make such products even more sustainable:

  • Rely on LED light bulbs, which use a fraction of the energy and last significantly longer than traditional bulbs.
  • Use light timers to turn off lights when they aren’t needed.
  • Make a habit of powering off lights and other electronics when you leave the room.
  • Set a programmable thermostat to adjust temperatures when you’re away from home.
  • Wash only full loads of laundry, and use cold water when possible.
  • Air-dry dishes, rather than using the heated drying cycle of the dishwasher.

Buying Green

Understanding just what makes a product green can be confusing. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, greener products are those that are shown to have less health or environmental impacts than similar products that have the same function.

The EPA has made it easy to identify earth-friendly cleaning supplies by introducing a Design for the Environment label that designates products deemed safer for personal health and the environment.

Other categories of green products may be harder to identify. You can rely on EPA labeling programs such as ENERGY STAR for household items such as windows, doors and many major appliances, and WaterSense for water-specific products such as toilets, faucets and showerheads.

When evaluating whether a product is “green,” be wary of eco-labels, which are not regulated and may contain misleading information designed to downplay a product’s true impact. The Federal Trade Commission created the Green Guides to set standards for truth in advertising; however, there is broad scope and consumers may still need to do some research to understand why a package has a green message on its label.

Ultimately, it’s important to consider all aspects of the product’s development, from research and manufacturing to packaging and distribution. For example, an earth-friendly cleanser packaged in a bottle using recycled plastic is more green than one that is not.

Recycle Like a Pro

Living green isn’t just about saving energy. Sustainable living also means putting earth-friendly practices in place throughout your home, such as recycling. With these tips you can make recycling easier for the whole family.

  • Establish collection bins to make it easy to gather all your recycling in one place. The number of bins you need depends on your city’s guidelines for sorting. If no sorting is required, a single bin will do. Otherwise, use different colored bins to make it simple to sort paper, aluminum, glass, etc.
  • Most families find the kitchen is a primary source of recyclable goods. If space is at a premium, keep a smaller collection bin in the kitchen that can be easily transported to a sorting station in a larger area, such as the garage.
  • Don’t forget to recycle in other rooms, too. Many common bathroom items, such as shampoo and soap bottles, and even cardboard toilet paper tubes, can be recycled.
  • Remember that recycling can also come in other forms, like donating unwanted clothing to charity or using leftover water to quench thirsty plants or freshen the dog’s bowl.
  • Be sure to rinse away any food or liquid residue from containers to manage odors and keep your recycling area tidy and odor free.
  • Maximize your bin space by compressing cans and bottles.

Martin O’Malley challenges Hillary Clinton

— Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley took a major shot at Hillary Clinton on Sunday, saying the country needs a “new perspective” and “new leadership” in the 2016 election.

“Let’s be honest here,” O’Malley said. “The presidency of the United States is not some crown to be passed between two families.”

The Democrat’s comments, in an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” are another signal that he’s likely to challenge Clinton in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary.

He’s focusing in recent weeks on issues like income inequality and wage stagnation — which liberal darling Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has made her signature, but that haven’t found a champion in the presidential race.

O’Malley said he won’t decide until this spring whether he’ll seek the Democratic nomination. But his shots at Clinton have been the most direct of any of the party’s likely challengers — with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders seeking to avoid the topic of Clinton at all costs.

Recalling the 2008 primary, when then-upstart Sen. Barack Obama challenged an inevitable-looking Clinton and won, O’Malley hinted he thinks Clinton could be defeated.

“History is full of times when the inevitable frontrunner is inevitable right up until he or she is no longer inevitable,” O’Malley said.


™ & © 2015 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival fundraiser receives strong community support

— Approximately 75 guests attended the Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival fundraiser called African Threads on Saturday, February 28, 2015 at ADEK Productions— located at 1801 West Street in Annapolis. Proceeds will support forthcoming efforts to hold a 2015 Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival in Annapolis.

Hopes were high that the festival featuring musical performances, food, arts and crafts, African dance and storytelling will return to the City Dock and attract excited festival-goers who have missed the annual celebration. Around the site of the expected location, the statue of the late Alex Haley, author of “Roots,” still reminds passersby of Kunta Kinte’s arrival on the Lord Ligonier slave ship. In his groundbreaking book, Haley introduced the world to his ancestor who was sold into slavery.

Terrell Freeman opens the event with a drum call.

(Photo: Andrea Blackstone)

Terrell Freeman opens the event with a drum call.

Renee Spears, the current Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival chair, said that she has been working with the festival for 18 years. During the evening, she determined that the community’s favorable response to the fundraiser indicates that it definitely needs to be held. A call for additional volunteers was also announced.

“The Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival is a very important event for Annapolis history-wise, because we all need to have a history, and to live it, and to breathe it, and for children to know it, and not just for us as African Americans, but for everyone,” Spears said.

Area businesses and individuals donated raffle items, goodie bag stuffers, door prizes and silent auction merchandise for attendees. Organizers reported that 14 volunteers helped to plan and assist with the fundraiser.

“We’ve been successfully doing this festival for the last 25 years. Due to budgetary constraints, we weren’t able to have it the last two years. With the help of Jan (Lee) and some of the other festival members, we decided to have a fundraiser to try and spearhead getting some funds together for the 2015 festival,” David Arthur, president of the board of directors for Kunta Kinte Celebrations, Inc. said. “We definitely want to have a festival. This is the whole point of this. We want to make people aware that we are still trying to hold a festival, and that we are still here, and that we need everybody’s help to continue on.”

Community members like Terrell Freeman helped to facilitate the fundraiser. Freeman, an Annapolitan, welcomed attendees and opened the program with a drum call. Before introducing the first performers, he also conducted a libation ceremony to pay tribute to ancestors.

Jan Lee, 29, serves as co-chair of the Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival and handles media relations. Lee remarked that the organization is focusing on rebuilding after a two-year hiatus.

“We plan to return to the Annapolis City Dock for the festival on September 26, 2015. I’ve been volunteering with Kunta Kinte Celebrations since I was a kid. I feel that the festival is so important in bringing the community together. It’s always a joyous celebration,” Lee said.

The Annapolis chapter of the Delicados, Inc. was instrumental in helping to present African Threads. Darlene Washington, president of the local social group, said that her group loved the fundraiser and display of superb talent.

“We were a sponsor group— an organization that sponsored this affair tonight. We want to see it (the festival) come back again. That was one of our interests in being a sponsor, to help so that this event would happen again this summer.”

To learn more about the status of the Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival as developments continue, visit:

Coppin State: Big Dawg Invitational hosted by Maryland Baltimore County Saturday

— BALTIMORE – Eric Thomas and Devin James were individual event winners for the Coppin State men’s track and field team at the Big Dawg Invitational hosted by Maryland Baltimore County Saturday.

With the Eagles getting some added work before a busy week next week on the road, Thomas won the 400-meter dash (51.00 seconds) and James captured the long jump (6.74 meters). Overall, seven Coppin State men’s track athletes finished among the top six of their respective events.

Fabian Hayles was second in the 400-meter dash (51.07). In the 100-meter dash, the Eagles had Keshaun Hodges place third (11.19) and Shane Green finish sixth (11.21). Alaric Coker (1500-meter run, 4:10.27) and Javron Keene (hammer throw, 38.73 meters) were fifth in their events.

The Coppin State women’s team had a few athletes participating highlighted by Tanaya Yarde’s victory in the 400-meter hurdles (1:05.60). Also competing for the Eagles were Alethia Edwards, who was sixth in the hammer throw (36.64 meters) and javelin (29.17 meters) and Kristen Deacon, who was sixth in the javelin (29.17 meters).

Both Coppin State track teams will compete in the Savannah State Twilight Meet on Wednesday afternoon and the prestigious Florida Relays on Friday and Saturday.

Obama makes first trip to Kenya as President

President Barack Obama will visit Kenya this summer, the White House announced Monday, his first visit to the country since being elected President.

Obama, whose father was from Kenya, will participate in the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in July.

This will be Obama’s fourth trip to sub-Saharan Africa. Obama attended Nelson Mandela’s funeral service in December 2013.


™ & © 2015 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

AVERY Sunshine to Perform at the Home is Where the Heart is Concert Fundraiser

The Women’s Challenge Presents the Home is Where the Heart is: Obtain, Sustain & Reclaim, concert fundraiser featuring singer-songwriter AVERY Sunshine. Avery Sunshine is known for her thunderous, gospel-bred pipes and heart-to-heart content. She emerged onto the scene with her 2010 self-titled debut album. Fluent in many languages from soul and house to classical and hip hop, AVERY Sunshine expresses with a voice that speaks boldly and tells a uniquely familiar story. Her music tells a story about love, loss, healing and finding the newness of oneself in the midst of it all making her a natural fit for the Home is Where the Heart is concert fundraiser. According Avery Sunshine, “Baltimore is going to get a show. We are going to be like family. You know its like a family reunion. It is going to be fun and from the heart. Very intimate affair.”

LeFemme Totale, an ALL Girl Band, will also perform debuting “The GREEK Explosion.” With a unique blend of sounds from strings, drums, bells, chimes and voices these women will leave you standing in awe. LeFemme Totale “The GREEK Explosion” features JPope Percussionist, Vocalist, Emcee & Spoken Word Artist, Kendall Isadore Violinist, Vocalist & Pianist, and Drummer Shannon Browne, all members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and Vocalist & Actress Kadejah Oni is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.

Home is Where the Heart is: Obtain, Sustain & Reclaim, concert fundraiser is taking place Wednesday, April 1, 2015 at 7:45 PM at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts located at 3506 Gwynnbrook Ave, Owings Mills, MD 21117. This concert fundraiser is geared to raise funds to support the workshops and funds that are necessary to educate potential homeowners and financially support the grants to be given to residents of Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Harford County. With this targeted theme, The Women’s Challenge, Inc. feels it will be a success:

  • OBTAIN closing cost and/or down payment assistance through attending first-time home-buyers workshops.
  • SUSTAIN your home with information and resources that will allow homeowners maintenance through weatherization projects and home improvement contractor referrals.
  • RECLAIM homes facing foreclosure by utilizing loan modifications and/or other services that assist with stopping the home foreclosure process.

For tickets and more information about Home is Where the Heart Is, please visit for details. For media inquiries and interview opportunities contact Nika Watkins by email at

Eat more cereal fiber, live longer

CNN Video

Eat more cereal fiber, live longer

Scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health found that people with a diet rich in cereal fiber reduced risk of death compared to those who ate the least amount of cereal fiber.

— Scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health found that people with a diet rich in cereal fiber reduced risk of death compared to those who ate the least amount of cereal fiber.