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Organic Consumers Association

Youth Climate Activists in Rhode Island Dimming for Green

Last December, Johnston resident Matthew Martinelli couldn't help but notice that conservation was at the forefront of everyone's mind and, accordingly, he began to wonder what he could do to support "green" efforts. He began putting together an all-volunteer organization to encourage both people and businesses to conserve energy; as a result, Martinelli formed the nonprofit organization Lights Out, Green In. Martinelli says most people turn on the lights more from routine than necessity, especially during the hours of 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. In fact, that is part of the organization's main goal: having businesses and households promise to turn off their lights between those hours. "That's sort of a peak time," said Martinelli. "[That time frame] falls within most people's lunch hour, so it's the simplest time to ask people to turn the lights off." Martinelli went on to say that turning off the lights for those two hours will not only decrease greenhouse gas emissions but reduce electric bills and save money. "Obviously, on extremely gloomy rainy days when sunlight can't get it done, we're not asking you to work in the dark," Martinelli said. "But each business and individual can do what they can to roll it back." According to Martinelli, greenhouse gas emissions have increased substantially since 1990 and local businesses contribute to a 2 percent rise in human-based carbons each year. Human-based carbons, explained Martinelli, are essentially pollution released into the atmosphere, a major factor behind global warming. "We're using a lot of resources that we don't really need," said Martinelli. "We keep making more and more without asking if we really need more." Martinelli realizes that beginning an "environment-friendly lifestyle" can be costly and, in keeping with that, his organization plans to help low-income residents and urban schools to participate in conservation efforts by distributing free compact-florescent light bulbs. To that end, the organization will hold a benefit on Sunday, Nov. 23, from 2 to 5 p.m., at Providence's McFadden's Restaurant and Saloon. The $10 admission price includes half-priced appetizers, $3 drinks, door prizes and a 50/50 raffle. The benefit will also serve to launch Lights Out, Green In's Web site, which will be ready to go at www.lightsoutgreenin.org

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