A fun Blog to share fun and easy ways to be green!
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Plants not only lower greenhouse emissions and provide habitats for wildlife; they can also lower home energy costs. Trees with high canopies on the west side of your property will provide shade from the afternoon sun. Deciduous trees and vines are useful on your home’s southern side, providing foliage to shade against the summer sun while allowing light and warmth during the winter.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
When you “top off” your tank at the gas pump, most of that little bit of gas vaporizes and contributes to air pollution. You end up paying for that gas and don’t even get to use it! “Topping off” is also bad for the sensor in your gas tank.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Even though we have some of the best and safest tap water in the world, American buy 28 billion+ bottles of water a year. Manufacturing these bottles uses 50 million barrels of oil and produces up to three tons of CO2 a year. Drink tap water from a reusable bottle – you’ll save money and help protect the environment. Take a ook at my personal favorite: www.lovebottle.com.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Monday, April 13, 2009
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Backyard gardeners, plant an extra row in your and donate the extra harvest to a soup kitchen, food or hunger relief agency. Visit www.GroGood.com to take a pledge, obtain tips and techniques on how to grow an edible garden, and find information on local food agencies that accept fresh produce donations.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Eliminating your paper trail by banking and paying bills online does more than save trees. It also helps reduce fuel consumption by the trucks and planes that transport paper checks. If every U.S. home viewed and paid its bills online, the switch would cut solid waste by 1.6 billion tons a year and curb greenhouse-gas emissions by 2.1 million tons a year.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Having a pet increases the odors in your home, especially on the carpets and upholstery they spend all day lounging on. While strongly scented carpet powders can most certainly help you get the smells outs, most store bought powers have all sorts of compounds in them you may not want your pets sniffing up. Fortunately over at the home design blog Re-Nest, they've shared a simple and pet-friendly alternative to store bought powders:
Baking soda is an ever-popular deodorizer and it's pet-safe. Crush up a handful of dry lavender and mix with a cup of baking soda, and sprinkle that over your carpet. If you'd like to use essential oils, mix a few drops of your favorite(s) in with baking soda (not enough to make it wet), and then break up any clumps and sprinkle that over your carpet.
Let it sit for a bit, vacuum it up, and you've got fresher and fido-friendly carpets. If you have your own pet-friendly cleaning tips, share them in the comments below.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
The test involving 30 machines in the Washington, D.C., area has just begun. Pepsi hopes to begin rolling them out worldwide over the next several years, said Robert Lewis, vice president of packaging and equipment development.
The new machines use 5.08 kilowatt-hours of energy per day, down about 15 percent from a nationwide average of 6 kilowatt-hours used by current machines. Current machines already use 44 percent less energy on average than the machines used six years ago.
"That was the equivalent of burning five 100-watt bulbs constantly," Lewis said, referring to the 2003-era machines. "We're currently down to about two 100-watt bulbs. They're not using a lot of energy as it is."
The new machines also emit about 12 percent less greenhouse gas, in part by keeping the drinks cool with carbon dioxide instead of the usual hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which scientists say contribute to global warming.
The green machines, which have won the praise of Greenpeace, are the latest step PepsiCo is taking to promote its more environmentally friendly ways. Both PepsiCo and Coca-Cola Co have come under fire for issues such as using too much plastic, and have made changes such as making lighter bottles and conserving more water.
The new machines are more expensive than current equipment, Lewis said, but declined to say by how much.
PepsiCo, whose brands include Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Sierra Mist and Aquafina, currently has about 4 million to 5 million vending machines and coolers around the world.
Vending machines are typically owned and serviced by the company's bottlers, which share their revenue with the offices, schools and stores that house them. Therefore, those customers will not incur any charges for the new machines, yet will benefit from lower energy bills, Lewis said.
PepsiCo worked with Greenpeace Solutions, an arm of the large environmental organization, to develop the program.
Greenpeace Solutions Director Amy Larkin said PepsiCo was leading the way to improve a technology that people use every day but rarely think about.
"They're transforming the industry in a way that is going to be more climate-friendly to a great degree, so what can I do but applaud that," Larkin said.
While Pepsi's greener vending machines are the first in the United States, Unilever Plc's Ben & Jerry's ice-cream brand introduced coolers that use carbon dioxide, she noted.
Coca-Cola has introduced HFC-free vending machines in Britain, and used them at official venues at last year's Beijing Olympics.
Midlands businesses can visit CPAC (http://www.coccpac.com/?pageid=12) for help sheets and other information, including our free Green Business membership program!
Monday, April 6, 2009
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Friday, April 3, 2009
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Show your support for global sustainability by turning off your lights at 8:30 p.m. as part of Earth Hour, an international show of support for climate change action. Help make Earth Hour a powerful statement on climate change that can’t be ignored by turning off your lights tonight. Then check back with us every day until Earth Day for ways you can make a difference as part of Earth Hour to Earth Day (EH2ED), an outreach initiative of Cool People Care.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
The raging infernos that have left more than 160 people dead in southern Australia burned with such speed that they resembled less a wildfire than a massive aerial bombing. Many victims caught in the blazes had no time to escape; their houses disintegrated around them, and they burned to death. As firefighters battle the flames and police begin to investigate possible cases of arson around some of the fires, there will surely be debates over the wisdom of Australia's standard policy of advising residents to either flee a fire early or stay in their homes and wait it out. John Brumby, the premier of the fire-hit Australian state of Victoria, told a local radio station on Monday that "people will want to review that ... There is no question that there were people who did everything right, put in place their fire plan, and it [didn't] matter — their house was just incinerated."
Although the wildfires caught so many victims by surprise last weekend, there has been no shortage of distant early-warning signs. The 11th chapter of the second working group of the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, for example, warned that fires in Australia were "virtually certain to increase in intensity and frequency" because of steadily warming temperatures over the next several decades. Research published in 2007 by the Australian government's own Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization reported that by 2020, there could be up to 65% more "extreme" fire-danger days compared with 1990, and that by 2050, under the most severe warming scenarios, there could be a 300% increase in such days.
"[The fires] are a sobering reminder of the need for this nation and the whole world to act and put at a priority the need to tackle climate change," Australian Green Party leader Bob Brown told the Sky News. (See pictures of Australia's wildfires.)
Destructive wildfires are already common in Australia, and it's not hard to see why climate change would increase their frequency. The driest inhabited continent on the planet, Australia has warmed 0.9°C since 1950, and climate models predict the country could warm further by 2070, up to 5°C over 1990 temperatures, if global greenhouse-gas emissions go unchecked. Beyond a simple rise in average temperatures, climate change will also lead to an increase in Australia's extreme heat waves and droughts. Southwestern Australia is already in the grip of a prolonged drought that has decimated agriculture and led to widespread water rationing; the region is expected to see longer and more extreme dry periods in the future as a result of steady warming.
It's important to acknowledge that no single weather event can be definitively caused by climate change — and it's possible that the current inferno in Australia might have been as intense and deadly even without the warming of the past several decades. Police are beginning to suspect that many of the fires may have been deliberately set, and the sheer increase in the number of homes built in fire-danger zones in southern Australia today puts more people in harm's way, raising the potential death toll. Still, heat waves and drought set the table for wildfires, and temperatures in the worst-hit areas have been over 110°F (43°C) while humidity has bottomed out near zero. Climate change will continue to be a threat multiplier for forest fires. (See the top 10 green ideas of 2008.)
That's one more reason why the world must work together to reduce global carbon emissions to minimize the impact of climate change. The trouble is, though, CO2 cuts won't be enough. As a recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science points out, even if we are successful in cutting carbon emissions rapidly — hardly an easy task — the momentum of climate change will continue for centuries. That means our ability to adapt to the impacts of warming, including more aggressive responses to wildfires like those in Australia, will become all the more critical, lest natural disasters turn into human catastrophes. But it also means that the world we've become accustomed to will change, perhaps irrevocably. The wildfires in southern Australia are already the worst in the nation's history — but they surely won't be the last.
Friday, February 6, 2009
Of all the things convicted murderer Robert Knowles has been called during his 13 years behind bars, recycler hasn’t been one of them.
But there he was one morning, pitchfork in hand, composting food scraps from the main chow line and coffee grounds from prison headquarters — doing his part to “green” the prison.
“It’s nice to be out in the elements,” said Knowles, 42, stirring dark, rich compost that will amend the soil at the small farm where he and fellow inmates of the Cedar Creek Corrections Center grew 8,000 pounds of organic vegetables this year.
Inmates of the minimum-security facility, 25 miles from Olympia, the state capital, raise bees, grow organic tomatoes and lettuce, compost 100 percent of food waste and even recycle shoe scraps that are made into playground turf.
“It reduces cost, reduces our damaging impact on the environment, engages inmates as students,” said Eldon Vail, secretary of the Washington Department of Corrections, which oversees 15 prisons and 18,000 offenders. “It’s good security.”
As around-the-clock operations, prisons are voracious resource hogs, and administrators are under increasing pressure to reduce waste and conserve energy and water.
In 2007, states spent more than $49 billion to feed, house, clothe, treat and supervise 2.3 million offenders, the Pew Center on the States reported this year.
As the prison population has grown this decade, up 76 percent from 1.3 million in 2000, the number of prisons and jails has risen with it. The latestdata show 1,821 facilities in 2005, up from 1,668 in 2000.
To keep costs down, the Indiana Department of Corrections installed water boilers that run on waste wood chips, and built a wind turbine at one prison that generates about 10 kilowatts an hour and saves $2,280 a year.
At Ironwood State Prison in Blythe, Calif., 6,200 solar panels send energy back to the grid, enough to power 4,100 homes a year. The prison was trying to meet an executive order requiring state agencies to reduce energy use by 20 percent by 2015, said a spokeswoman, Lt. Sue Smith.
North Carolina’s Department of Corrections switched to chemical-free cleaners and vegetable-based inks. This summer, because of a water shortage, inmates converted 50-gallon pickle barrels into small cisterns that capture rainwater.
Under a state mandate to reduce energy use, the Oregon Department of Corrections replaced old appliances with energy-efficient ones, installed solar water heaters and used a geothermal well to heat water. It also modified washing machines so they could reuse rinse-water to wash about a million pounds of clothes a month.
At Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution in Pendleton, Ore., inmates recycle scraps from old prison blues to make diaper bags for women’s shelters and dog beds for animal shelters.
“We try to model prosocial behavior,” said Vern Rowan, business manager for the Oregon Department of Corrections. Being sustainable “is something that everybody should be doing, regardless of where they’re at.”
Cedar Creek, in the heart of a forest, feels more like an outdoor retreat than institutional lockup.
Most of the 400 inmates are in a work program, and put in between six and eight hours a day.
The responsibility of caring for the prison’s three hives of Italian honey bees falls mostly to Daniel Travatte, 36, a soft-spoken former drug addict who is serving 10 years for attempted armed robbery.
Under the supervision of prison counselor Vicki Briggs, Travatte has learned to harvest honey — which inmates occasionally eat with breakfast biscuits — and use beeswax to make lotions. He’s become an expert on their habits.
“I’m trying to change myself,” said Travatte. “A lot of people go through prison with no intention of changing. I love working with the bees. It keeps me busy. I have a lot of responsibility to take care of.”
While there isn’t scientific evidence that such activities are helping inmates, Nalini Nadkarni, an environmental studies professor at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., notes anecdotal evidence that it’s working.
“They were stimulating their minds and having conversations that were different than ‘How much more time we have left’?” said Nadkarni.
One inmate went beyond conversations, enrolling in a doctoral program when he got out and co-authoring a research paper with Nadkarni on a moss-growing project she started to help reduce the impact of wild moss harvesting on forests.
While Cedar Creek went green out of economic necessity — it had to conserve because it didn’t have the wastewater capacity to expand four years ago — it is now embracing other benefits, said Dan Pacholke, a state prison administrator who helped implement many of the practices.
Cedar Creek uses 250,000 fewer gallons of water a year, saves $6,000 to $8,400 annually on garbage bills and avoided a $1.4 million sewage treatment plant upgrade.
A large “Con-Post” marks the prison’s composting station, made of recycled concrete blocks and reclaimed wood, where Knowles spends about six hours a day, making sure the compost gets enough heat, moisture and air to break down food scraps.
“They trust me to do all this with no supervision,” said Knowles, who is serving time for the hit-and-run death of an off-duty police officer.
“I like growing the vegetables,” Knowles said. “My mom had a garden. I can see having my own garden.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Does a Google search lead to seven grams of carbon-dioxide emissions, as the Sunday Times of London reported last week? Or is it two-tenths of a gram, as Google Inc. countered on its official blog? Or is a Web query using the popular search engine a net positive for the environment? Check out The Numbers Guy take on it!
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Saturday, January 17, 2009
SANTA FE, N.M. -- In the world of trashy fashion, designer Nancy Judd has hit the big time.
Ms. Judd spends her days in a studio here crafting clothing from castoff plastic bags, electrical wire and old cassette tapes. Now, her Dumpster couture has caught the eye of environmental activists, who plan to showcase her work in Washington at Saturday's Green Inaugural Ball honoring President-elect Barack Obama.
Artisans in developing countries sell purses woven from candy wrappers. Online boutiques market belts made from the inner tubes of bicycles. A designer in Chile recently announced she had pulled apart the filters in cigarette butts and woven them into a coarse thread to crochet vests.
Glad as she is to be heading to Washington, Ms. Judd won't make any money from the show. (In fact, she's selling tote bags made from recycled Obama signs to cover her expenses.) In general, she has found profits don't match her passion; these past two years, she has been living mostly on savings and a small-business loan. But she is undeterred.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
But just how do you transform this gross trash into wearable textiles? See photos of the process and examples of the clothes here.
Worldwide soft-drink company Coca-Cola is ready to blow the lid off of its new recycling plant in Spartanburg County.
According to company spokeswoman Kirsten Witt, Coca-Cola will open the doors to the "bottle-to-bottle" recycling facility at 5396 N. Blackstock Road on Jan. 14.
The plant, said to be the largest of its kind in the world, will produce about 100 million pounds of food-grade recycled polyethylene terephthalate plastic for reuse per year, or the equivalent of about 2 billion 20-ounce plastic Coke bottles.
Over the next 10 years, the Spartanburg plant is expected to eliminate the production of 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions - the equivalent of removing 215,000 cars from the road.
Coca-Cola announced the $60 million investment in September 2007, saying it was part of the company's long-term initiative to have 100 percent of its plastic bottles be recycled or reused.
The project is in partnership with Spartanburg-based United Resource Recovery Corp. and includes the new facility on a 30-acre site as well as a recycling center that collects used beverage containers.
"We have set an ambitious goal to recycle all the plastic bottles we use in the U.S. market," Sandy Douglas, president of Coca-Cola North America, said in a statement. "Our investments in recycling infrastructure coupled with our work on sustainable package design will help us reach this target."
For Spartanburg County, the plant is expected to create about 100 jobs over the next five years and has the added bonus of making the county a centerpiece for many of Coca-Cola's global recycling initiatives.
On Jan. 15, the facility will host a satellite media tour that will be broadcast to news outlets all over the world.
During the broadcast, Kate Krebs, director of sustainable resources for The Climate Group, a leading recycling advocacy organization, and Scott Vitters, director of sustainable packaging for Coca-Cola, will talk about how to recycle and why it's important.
"Coca-Cola has staked a clear leadership position in its approach to suitable packaging," Krebs said in a statement. "The new Spartanburg plant represents an end-to-end recycling model that is world-class and that I hope other industries will follow."