Monday, August 27, 2007

Organic vs. Local

It seems as though the current banter in the "green" world is the benefits of local foods versus organic foods. We have come to know, or at least think we know, what organic foods are. The short definition of organic foods is that they are foods grown without using chemical pesticides, antibiotics and with using sustainable farming methods. The USDA has set standards for what can be labeled organic.

Now we are hearing that we should buy locally. The "local" foods definition is generally agreed upon as foods that travel less than 250 miles from "farm to fork". Some of the arguments for local are:
  • Local food travels a smaller distance from "farm to fork". Shorter distances equal fewer food miles, which in turn produce less carbon dioxide and therefore, less global warming.

  • By eating foods that are grown locally, we preserve our regional farmland. This protects open space and encourages environmentally responsible farming practices.

  • Buying and eating locally grown foods fosters a sense of community and develops a relationship with your area farmers.

  • Buying and eating locally grown foods enables smaller farms to compete.

So which is best - organic or local? Personally, I vote for both! Visit your local farmers' market. Many times you will find local farmers that also farm organically.

We are looking for stores that carry locally grown, organic foods. If you have a store in your town, drop us a line and let us know!

Happy eating!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Green Architecture

Green architecture is an interesting topic. What makes architecture “green”? We have explored this a little and have found that there really hasn’t been any concrete definition put in place.

“Green Architecture is a term used to describe economical, energy-saving, environmentally-friendly, sustainable development.”

“It means looking at a material in terms of the energy required to extract, treat, manufacture, and even to transport it to a job site. And then looking at the maintenance of it, and what happens to it once its useful life is finished.”

(Architecture Week)

The closest thing we have found to standardization is LEED – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Their Green Building Rating System is currently the nationally accepted benchmark. We are curious to hear your comments about LEED, especially if you are familiar with a building that is LEED certified.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Car Rental Agencies - Eco Savvy?

Car travel is currently at its highest peak for the year. And renting a car is sometimes the best way to go if you are traveling distances. But do any of the popular car rental agencies try to include environmentally friendly cars in their fleet? We checked out a few and this is what we found –

Hertz – The Green Collection - Now you can reserve fuel efficient, environmentally-friendly cars that are both easy on the wallet and suitable for families and small groups traveling together. Reservable by specific make and model, with an EPA highway fuel efficiency rating of 28 miles or more per gallon, the Hertz Green Collection features the following four cars – Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion, Buick LaCrosse and Hyundai Sonata. Hertz plans on adding the hybrid car Toyota Prius to its fleet by 2008. Also $1 from every "green collection" rental goes to the National Parks Foundation.

Enterprise – Included in its fleet are hybrid vehicles and flex-fuel vehicles. Enterprise claims to have the most environmentally friendly vehicles of any of the fleets. Also, Enterprise launched the “50 Million Tree Pledge” last year to celebrate their 50th anniversary. They have partnered with the National Arbor Day Foundation to plant 1 million trees per year for the next 50 years.

Avis – The Toyota Prius has been added to Avis’ fleet of rental cars and are available in California, Portland, OR, Seattle, WA and Washington DC. They have also announced that they will be adding the Nissan Altima hybrid soon.

National Car Rental currently offers the Toyota Prius and the Camry in its collection.

Happy Traveling!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Keeping Cool with Bamboo

A couple of weeks ago, Karen shared the benefits of buying bamboo and introduced us to a beautiful bamboo bowl. Since bamboo is such a great renewable resource, we thought we would also share this Bamboo Breeze Aged Pecan 52-Inch Ceiling Fan. Beating the heat and maximizing your energy efficiency can be a real struggle during the broiling summer months. Adding a ceiling fan helps circulate the air, allowing you to feel a few degrees cooler.

Enjoy the breeze!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Wind Power is on the Rise

I was driving through central Illinois the other day and was amazed at the growth of one of the wind farms I passed. It seemed like turbines went on and on and on. I'm still looking for the benefits of wind versus solar. Meanwhile, check out this interesting data regarding Wind power at Worldwatch.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Corn Footprint!

There is a lot of hubbub about corn use and energy intensive corn production. Is corn the best product for bio-diesel? Do we use too much corn syrup in our food? What's your input on the corn dilemma? Read this article and give us your input!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Great Green Lawns

Trying to keep that lawn green and thick? This summer be sure to use your compost. This will add the great nutrients to your lawn to keep it growing and green. Not composting yet? Here is a neat little composter you may want to try.

The Envirocycle Composter
The Envirocycle Composter
Make your own compost!

Envirocycle has created this composter which produces quality compost and compost tea quickly and easily. It’s user-friendly, eliminates mess and odor, and is compact making it perfect for those with limited space.

Envirocycle Simplifies Composting

The Envirocycle composter is specifically designed to simplify the recycling of kitchen and garden refuse. It produces quality compost more quickly and easily than conventional composters by its rolling and mixing action which keeps the ingredients well mixed and aerated.

Makes Rich Compost Tea

This enviro cycle unit also makes compost tea, a rich organic liquid plant food appreciated by gardeners everywhere. Use it on your house plants, outdoor plants, flowers, trees, shrubs, garden and lawn.

Water weekly so your lawn drinks deeply and develops deep roots.

Mow your lawn so it is about 2.0 to 2.5 inches tall. Not too short - not too tall. Never remove more than 1/3 of the leaf. This will keep the roots from being burned and dried out. Also when mowing, let the clippings stay on the lawn. No need to bag. Keep those blades sharp so not to stress the lawn as you mow. Also it is recommended that you mow in the evening - when the grass is dry but the sun won't be beating down on the freshly cut blades. Ah, the smell of a freshly mowed lawn!