Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
I’ve come up with a few relatively easy and creative ways to rethink our traditional holiday habits. It’s just a start, but I hope it encourages us all to remember Mother Nature as we celebrate the Season of Giving.
· Purchase a recyclable reusable mug for the coffee or tea lover in your family, especially for the one who frequently purchases their caffeinated beverages on the go.
· Stuff the student’s stocking with eco-friendly school supplies such as pens, pencils, paper, notebooks, folders, and binders made from recycled and recyclable materials.
· Dress the fashion queen with some hip and trendy clothing made from all natural fibers that are made at shops that respect the environment and its employees.
· Treat someone’s feet to a new pair of shoes or slippers made from either all natural and/or recycled materials.
· Buy the book worms you know a “like new” slightly used copy of their favorite readings from a local bookstore. Better yet, unless you are personally attached, give away your books to those you feel will most enjoy them.
· Restock the beauty queen’s supply of makeup and other cosmetics or toiletries with environmentally friendly products.
· Purchase (or make) the pooches you know and love a new bed, blanket, toys, or treats using all natural materials or ingredients.
· Instead of wrapping paper, use a decorative or personalized (monogrammed) blanket or towel to wrap a gift. Tie it up with a pretty ribbon that can be saved and reused for another gift or purpose.
· Instead of paper or plastic gift bags, put someone’s present in a reusable bag of some sort: tote bag, grocery bag, duffel bag, etc.
· Pack the school supplies in an eco-friendly backpack.
· Place the books in a personalized book tote bag.
· Put the cosmetics in a travel makeup bag.
· Pack clothing items in a piece of luggage or duffel bag.
· Choose a decorative basket or bowl to load up someone’s gifts and goodies.
· Place a new set of towels, sheets, etc inside a nice laundry hamper.
· Use a large mixing bowl or popcorn bowl as the basis for a gift
· Pick out an oversized tub made from recycled plastic to fill with toys or pet gifts. The tub can then be used to store the toys in the future.
· Use a trash can or mop bucket to fill with house or car cleaning needs. Buy environmentally cleaning products as well as a recycled can or bucket if possible.
· Choose decorative storage containers such as canisters for coffee or tea or jars for cookies or dog treats.
· And if you prefer regular wrapping paper, choose a recycled paper product. And try to use string, bows, and tags that can saved and reused.
And just because you rethink your gifts and wrapping this year doesn’t mean those giving you gifts will. Try to be an example this year, by saving or recycling what excess holiday trash you can. Save trashed wrapping paper to insulate the next fragile gift you wrap. Save what bows and ribbons you can. Take the time to separate recyclables from trash and be sure to encourage your friends and families to do the same. The Holidays can still be merry and fun without so much excess waste. As an eco supporter, do your part to be conscious and creative during the holidays and then use the festive get togethers as times to be the example of what being green really means. Happy Holidays to all!
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Ethical consumerism is the practice of consumers deliberately purchasing goods or products produced “responsibly” so they eliminate or reduce environmental and/or social harm. Each time someone purchases a product, he or she is not only supporting the proliferation of that product, but all that goes into the creation of that product. Each product is considered a vote – for inhumane working conditions or fair trade, for further environmental degradation or conservation. Ethical consumerism appears to be on the rise; one can find evidence at any grocery store. A wider availability of organic produce, fair-trade coffee, and free range eggs are some obvious examples. Many products tout their eco-friendly characteristics – how they were made, ingredients, packaging, and so on. Providing information to the consumer is a great opportunity for businesses to market their product. Of course, many companies disingenously market their products to look like something they're not, as with “greenwashing.” This can make it difficult for preferences to be shown for genuine products. Seeking certification is one way for genuine progressive companies to stand above the rest. Fairtrade, the Organic Trade Association, the Forest Stewardship Council, and Cradle to Cradle certification are just a small sampling of different certification programs various companies can apply to that may boost their marketability and image. The standards and benefits of various programs are debatable, but in the days of information overload, they seem a step in the right direction.
For more information on ethical consumerism, see Ethical Consumer, a U.K. - based magazine that provides free buyers' guides and information.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Using the sun to create hot water for pools and hot tubs is now a reality. “With the increased efficiency of solar vacuum tubes, heating hot tubs has become more and more popular using solar. The basic principle of a solar hot tub is to use the solar collectors during the day to heat the tub." Solar powered hot tubs use tube pressurized collector panels. In these panels, water is heated by the sun and then transferred to the hot tub by a 12-volt water pump, which also runs on solar power.
Traditional water heaters and especially pool heaters are bulky, require regular maintenance, and are quite expensive to operate and service. Modern solar water heaters are better than traditional hot water heaters, because they are smaller in size and more efficient to operate. Ultimately, solar water heating offers more efficiency and long term savings.
From an environmental standpoint, many are interested in solar water heaters simply to utilize the sun’s energy. There is a large movement of consumers looking to take advantage of money saving solar technology. And for many green consumers, solar water heating is a major step to reduce your carbon footprint.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
There are many pros to hydrogen fuel cells. In the fuel cells hydrogen is mixed with oxygen to create electricity to power a vehicle. Fuel cell vehicles emit no noxious gases; the byproducts of a fuel cell are water vapor and heat. The abundance of hydrogen makes it a perfect substitute from oil, which is a finite resource. Hydrogen can also be produced in large quantities domestically by using water from the great lakes, lessening our dependence on foreign sources of energy and creating jobs that cannot be outsourced. Currently hydrogen fuel is also being used in a variety of prototype vehicles from cars, buses, airplanes, rockets, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Even with all of hydrogen’s benefits there are some major problems with hydrogen.
A major problem with hydrogen is that it does not occur naturally by itself in nature. Hydrogen is usually bonded to other elements due to the fact that it only has one electron that orbits its atomic structure. Hydrogen can be separated from water by using electrolysis, but this method is very expensive and power intensive. Most hydrogen now is processed from natural gas because of the high cost of the separation process. Another problem is the cost of the fuel cell within the car. Even though fuel cells have been in use for over fifteen years engineers have not found an innovative way to make fuel cells cheaper. These high cost make the hydrogen powered car to expensive for most consumers and not cost effective for companies to mass produce. At the present time there are only a few hydrogen fueling stations scattered around the country and for hydrogen to overtake gasoline a distribution system has to be built which would cost billions and would take decades to build and get running efficiently to satisfy the consumer s fuel needs.
Besides the problems that hydrogen has the industry has fierce competitors like electric cars and plug in hybrids that seemed poised to knock hydrogen down the list for alternatives. In 2009 US energy secretary Steven Chu eliminated public funding for hydrogen fuel cell research, but Congress rejected the idea and approved 300 million to continue research on hydrogen fuel cells. There are some in Congress that think that hydrogen will be the vital to repowering how America will travel in the future. As for an entrepreneur wanting to get in the hydrogen fuel cell industry it seems that without drastic innovation to bring down cost and the political will to start building distribution infrastructure, hydrogen fuel will not be the fuel to replace oil.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Last week, I was reading Clean Tech Revolution and discovered that Austin Energy is the nation's leader in selling green power. Curious to see how they pulled this off, I logged on to Austin Energy's website, and found that they offer a Greenchoice energy program in which their customers pay an additional 2.05 cents per kilowatt hour to be supplied with local, clean energy. This made me wonder, does
So why have
Monday, December 7, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
After perusing this blog, the Off The Grid party and Green Salons articles caught my eye and they got me thinking of other studios and services that could adopt a sustainable spin. The notion of green recording studios came to my mind as a fun and interesting industry that could reduce their carbon footprint while simultaneously providing premium recording services to musical artists. I came across a professional recording studio located in the UK that is apparently the first or one of the first fully solar-powered professional recording studio in the UK. The studio "was built using recycled materials where this was possible, and the electronics right down to the air conditioning is adapted to managing with a low energy demand". The studio manager commented that the sound quality is very high and the efficient use of alternative energy is always a plus! I feel that the arts/culture scene is a demographic that has a potentially high interest in sustainability and this also stems back to the Off The Grid party - using alternative energy to "fuel" a musical industry
Some of the sprays used on cotton are among the most toxic in the world and have been linked to immune issues, birth defects and reproductive disorders. The insecticides and pesticides used on “traditional” cotton crops are not the only environmental concern. The majority of the world’s cotton is still picked by hand. Any harmful effects caused by the insecticides and pesticides directly affect those harvesting the cotton. The chemicals seep into the soil, also possibly effecting water supply. Cottonseed oil is also a common ingredient in baked goods and salad dressings. We all come into contact with the contaminants in cotton. Irrigation for cotton is also extensive, as cotton uses the most water of all agricultural crops. Organic cotton farmers, besides helping the environment, also produce arguably a better product. Organic cotton fabrics are softer and better for the skin. Also, smaller organic farmers supply a less expensive product as they do not have to buy copious amounts of pesticides and insecticides.
The demand for organic cotton has increased along with its popularity. Patagonia, among other brands and smaller boutiques are incorporating organic cotton clothing into their lines. Patagonia, after researching where their cotton originated, made the switch to using only organic cotton for their clothing, “[Organic] methods support biodiversity and healthy ecosystems, improve the quality of soil and often use less water. Growing organically takes more time, requires more knowledge and skill, and, for now, costs more. But it's worth it.”
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
**picture courtesy of greenhairpdx.com; click on their picture to go to site**
As the semester progressed I began thinking of ideas that would interest me and at the same time enhance the green movement. The other day while I was at the hair salon I overhead some hair stylist discussing a green salon so I began doing research on the idea. It turns out there are many "green"salons worldwide. The products used in these salons are organic products and the furniture is recyclable. You can locate a green spa/salon near you at: www.gogreensalon.com. Green salons include products such as organic shampoo, organic nail polish, recyclable furniture and materials, plastic material, etc. I found this idea to be quite interesting being such a girly girl. If there was a green salon near I would definitely support it because after all they are contributing to your carbon footprint...lol. You can also visit www.greenhairpdx.com to see a real green salon. Some of their green updates include:
- Reclaimed wood when rebuilding each station
- All paper goods were printed on recycled paper using soy-based ink.
- Styling chairs were upholstered in Eco-friendly PVC-free material.
- Low VOC paint was used to paint every surface inside the building.
- Cotton denim insulation was used wherever new insulation was needed.
- Use Energy Star appliances
- Use earth-friendly cleaning products.
- Use Davine products; Davines is a company that produce products with all natural ingredients. They also only use renewable energy sources in their laboratories. For more information on their products visit: www.Davines.com.