AFB Scholarship Fall Semester 2014 Winner - Imara McMillan of Wellesley College

We are proud to announce that the inaugural AFB Scholarship was awarded to Imara McMillan of Wellesley College. Imara McMillan is an incoming sophomore majoring in International Relations - History, concentrating in East Asia. Her minor is Education Studies. When she graduates, she hopes to work for the State Department's Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs helping both students and diplomats learn more about the world around them. Although she attends college on the East Coast she is a proud resident of Chicago, IL.

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After being awarded the scholarship, Imara commented “This essay was actually kind of fun to write, and I hope people will read it and learn something new to help out our environment. In recognition of the droughts in Southern California, although it doesn't have much to do with air filters, maybe the next prompt will be about water conservation!”

We will be releasing our Spring semester topic shortly and will certainly take this into consideration! The next topic will be released by early September and will be posted on our scholarship page.

Thanks to all the great applicants!

You can find the original version of Imara’s essay below:

The largest percentage of the United State’s greenhouse gas emissions, thirty-two percent, comes from electricity, according to the EPA. This may seem strange, since most people tend to think about greenhouse gases as an industrial problem. However, when you think about it, every room in a house is using electricity for something, at some time. This accounts for why commercial and residential purposes account for ten percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore every room has a big and small solution for not only saving energy, but helping combat the greenhouse gases that are used to produce it by allowing power companies to produce less.

For example, the living room. The center of the home. It is also often home to the largest numbers of plugs and switches in outlets, and, according to my unscientific observation, it is the room most likely to have the lights left on. TVs and video game systems that are not currently in use still use power. By using a surge protector or a power strip with a switch that cuts off the power, you could help stop greenhouse gas emissions, and save on your energy bill. Another easy save is to switch to energy-efficient light bulbs, which not only last longer, but use far less energy than normal bulbs.

The next room is the bedroom. Humans are temperature sensitive creatures, and with modern technology can now heat and cool their homes at will. Unfortunately, this uses a lot of energy. If you have the funds, investing in energy efficient windows and insulation can do wonders for trapping heat and cool air in your house, and stop the drain on your home’s electricity usage. A smaller, less expensive, solution is to invest in blankets and other items that keep you warm during the winter, and to slowly but surely bump up your air-conditioning threshold in the summer. Again, a way to save energy, and stop greenhouse gases.

Now we can make our way to the kitchen, home to several large, energy-sucking appliances that cannot be turned off like televisions and lamps. However by buying Energy Star brand appliances, one can reduce the amount of energy these important products use in the first place. If buying a whole new kitchen isn’t in the cards, then taking care of the one you have can help as well. Make sure to address leaky refrigerators, which can spread hydrochlorofluorocarbons and their blends, known greenhouse gases, into the environment. What you eat – and throw away – can also help reduce greenhouse gases. Buying locally reduces the greenhouse gases caused by transporting food. Eating more vegetables and less meat, or buying organically, can also help reduce agricultural greenhouse gases produced in the production of food. Then, once you’ve eaten, starting to compost can reduce the amount of food waste going to landfills, which in turn reduces greenhouse gas emissions from the natural CO(2) that comes from decomposing food. For the price of a garbage can and a brick, an at home compost bin can save money on potting soil and the environment.

Finally, we can address the core problem: where our electricity comes from. While people are for the most part tied to their power provider, installing solar panels on your roof can help ease your burden on the environment. If that is too difficult, then making a point to search out green-energy providers can make it so that all of the little solutions that have been implemented in your home rack up to one big win for the air we breathe.