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.”
(about.com)

“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.
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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!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Keeping Cool in the Summer


The summer heat is on! Some areas of the country such as the northeast and upper midwest have had incredibly toasty days already this summer. So how can you keep cool without maxing out the air conditioner and using up a bunch of extra energy?

We will start with the common suggestions:

  • Weatherstripping - Make sure the weatherstripping on your doors and windows is in good condition.
  • Windows - Close shades, blinds, curtains and drapes during the heat of the day.
  • Air Conditioner - Replace dirty air filters.
  • Laundry - Run your washer and dryer early or late in the day. If possible, hang your clothes to dry!
  • Cooking - Avoid using stove top and oven to prepare your meals.
  • Stay hydrated - Keep plastic bottles of water in the freezer; grab one when you’re ready to go outside. As the ice melts, you’ll have a supply of cold water with you.
Now here are a few other off the beaten path suggestions to help cool you down:

  • Cooling your bed - In the pioneer days, people would heat up rocks and put them at the end of their beds to keep their feet warm. You can do something similar by filling a non-leak container with ice (hot water bottle works well) and putting it at the foot of your bed. Put your pillows or pillow cases in the freezer for a while to cool down before going to bed.
  • Lights - Reduce the heat coming from lamps and light fixtures by using compact fluorescent bulbs13w Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb Twist 4-pack.
  • Clothes - Loose fitting, light colored, cotton clothes are cooler than synthetics.
  • Keep your face cool - Fill a spray bottle with water and keep it in the refrigerator for a quick refreshing spray to your face.
  • Plant trees or shrubs to shade air conditioning units, but not block the airflow. A unit operating in the shade uses less electricity. Deciduous trees planted on the south and west sides will keep your house cool in the summer and allow the sunlight to warm the house during the winter.
  • Stressed out body - Keep your body from creating extra heat by eating smaller meals. Rest a few minutes and allow your body to slow its pace. Put a cool cloth or face mask on your face while resting to drop another degree or two!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Making Green Choices When Buying Dinnerware and Dishes

What is one way to Be Green in the kitchen? When you are looking to buy new dinnerware or serving pieces, look to bamboo. It is a readily renewable resource and is available in a lot of retail locations. Just check out some of these beautiful bamboo pieces we have found.

Totally Bamboo 9-in. South Pacific Collection Bamboo Salad Serving Bowl
A new, interesting and environment-friendly way to serve salad, noodles, rice or other types of dishes! This 9-in. salad/serving bowl provides a simple yet beautiful backdrop to display your food. This is hand crafted using hundreds of tiny laminated bamboo strips. Unlike most other hardwoods, bamboo absorbs very little moisture and consequently does not shrink or swell as much, making it a superior choice of material for the tabletop. Hand wash with a mild dish soap in warm water and periodically wipe with mineral oil to bring out the beautiful grain of the bamboo.

_________________________________________________________
Front of the House 10-in. Spun Bamboo Square Winged Bamboo Plate, Tangerine
Hand molded coiled strips of bamboo create a unique, circular pattern that showcase the natural variances in color. Polished smooth and finished with top-grade lacquer for food-safety. Eco-friendly, highly durable. A modern twist on an ancient material.

_________________________________________________________

These items are beautiful, functional, and environmentally friendly. You can’t do much better than that!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Reuse Plastic Bags


I know we are each moving towards using reusable bags for our groceries, but we still have some of those paper and plastic bags coming in. I asked around to find out how some folks are reusing plastic bags. Here are some of the ideas I heard:



  • Line small garbage cans. This is probably the number 1 reuse!

  • Keep some in your car. They come in handy for a quick garbage bag or for use if some gets car sick.

  • Great for packing. Making a move or putting some items in storage? Use your plastic bags (or paper for that matter) as packing material.

  • Handbag storage. Stuff bags in your handbag to help keep their shape.

  • Overshoes. This nifty idea keeps your shoes clean when you have to make a quick trip out to the yard. Simply pull a bag over your shoe and tie around your ankle. Pull off and toss when done or reuse again.

  • Removing poison ivy. Using two bags over one hand, pull poison ivy out. Using your other hand, pull the bags down around the ivy and tie up the bag and toss.

  • Pooper Scooper. When walking your favorite pet, take along a bag to pick up the little guy's waste.

  • Covering plants to protect them from frost.

  • Donate to a thrift store. Goodwill, Salvation Army and other thrift stores are always in need of bags. Collect a bunch and drop off when passing by.

  • Crochet and crafting. Learn how to make plarn (yarn made from plastic bags) and to get a cute pattern for a totebag or lunch sack!

What is your favorite use for reuse plastic bags?

Monday, July 9, 2007

After Live Earth

Live Earth concerts have come and gone. It will be interesting to hear the statistics - number of concert goers, net profits, number of goers that signed the "7 Point Pledge", the energy tab and how much was offset with carbon credits, how much of the profits and to which environmental groups will those profits go. Live Earth had good intentions, it will be interesting to see how those intentions work out.

Meanwhile, Chris Baskind at Lighter Footsteps questions whether climate change is our most immediate environmental issue and if other, more pressing issues such as oil, ecosystems and deforestation will be ignored because of the emphasis on climate change. Be sure to check out his article and weigh in!



On a side note - how many of you have tried the reusable nylon bags from Chico? We would love to hear your comments!

Chico Bag Reusable Shopping Bags: Black

ChicoBag Reusable Nylon Shopping Bag holds 20lbs
Measurements: Pouch measures a mere 4” x 2 ½” x 1” Expanded bag is 18" x 13"

Friday, July 6, 2007

Great Resource

We have been exploring and learning how to live off-grid and discovering if we can save green – dollars and environment. We've come across a great resource to share with you.

Do we want to go solar, wind, or hydro? What is green building? Hybrid Vehicles? These questions and many more will be found in this 600 page book. Though I haven’t been through the whole book yet, this will be a resource that I will use for years to come.

Real Goods Solar Living Sourcebook - 12th Edition

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Cooking? - Beat the Heat and Keep Energy Use Down!

Don’t you love heating up the kitchen in July? Probably not! We have a couple of suggestions for keeping the cooking heat down so your air conditioner doesn’t have to work overtime.

Microwave – Microwaves use less energy than your oven, less time to prepare the meals and release less heat into the kitchen.

Grill – Summer means outdoors and what a better way to fix a meal than on a grill! Just about anything can be cooked on a grill.

Crock Pot
– Though most of us think winter meals such as stew or soups for a crock pot, lots more can be cooked in this handy appliance.

No-cook Meals – With summertime comes fresh vegetables. Instead of preparing cooked meals, prepare a salad with your favorite vegetables, add a piece of bread, crackers or roll along with your favorite beverage and voila! - a perfect meal.

Farmers markets have a great assortment of vegetables this time of year. So visit your favorite market and check out all of the fruits and vegetables. If you are unfamiliar with a fruit or vegetable, just ask. Most of the vendors will be able to give you all kinds of hints on how to prepare & enjoy the foods they are selling.

Be sure to take along your reusable shopping bag!

Here is a great salad recipe we enjoy –


Tomato cups


5 or 6 medium tomatoes
1 sweet onion
½ cucumber
2 celery stalks
½ cup fresh parsley
1 clove garlic
½ cup pecans or sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
salt to taste


Cut tops off of tomatoes.
Chop up cucumber, celery, onions, parsley and garlic. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients except tomatoes.
Scoop out tomatoes and add pulp to the rest of the ingredients.
Mix well. Fill tomatoes with mixture.

This also makes a great appetizer. Just use cherry tomatoes instead!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Nuclear Power Back in the News

As we look at alternative fuels, we are finding that Nuclear energy is back in consideration. Check out this article: Nuclear Energy Hot Topic Once Again

Friday, June 29, 2007

Gas Mileage Standards Rejected!

Okay, I am a little confused. I just read an article that announced that the House committee rejected a plan to raise gas mileage standards for new vehicles. (House Committee Defeats Increase to Gas Mileage Standards) Supposedly this plan is even backed by the auto industry. Now I am not a big proponent of creating legislation to fix our environmental issues. I believe environmental issues need to be solved through grassroots education and social awareness.

However, I am surprised that the proposal was defeated, especially since gas mileage standards have not been upgraded since the mid-70s. With hybrid electric vehicles becoming more popular along with other alternative fuel vehicles, one would think this would be no problem. If anyone has any insight into why this was defeated, I sure would like to hear from you!

Meanwhile, I thought I would review a few of the suggestions on how you can improve your gas mileage and save some green!

Observe the speed limit. Note that fuel economy decreases rapidly at speeds over 60 mph. For every 5 mph over 60 the cost per gallon of fuel increases between $0.15 and $0.20! Ouch!

Keep your vehicle at constant speed. When possible, keep your vehicle going at an even pace. Variable speed increases gas consumption. Use cruise control on the highway to maintain a steady speed. Drive smoothly – avoid sudden stops and quick take offs.

Use mass transit. We recently came back from vacation and spent three days in a large city. We used their bus system and saved! No rental car charges, no gasoline purchases. Bus fare was pretty minimal and we were able to see more of the city! Mass transit isn’t always practical or available, but include it in your considerations. Also consider carpooling or ride-share programs, walking or biking to work or store. You may want to check with your employer and see if telecommuting is available to you on occasion.

Keep your vehicle maintained. Tires should be properly inflated, motor oil should be changed regularly, air filters should be checked and engines should be tuned at recommended intervals.

Let us know if you have any other tips.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Recycling Household Items for Charity


Here are a couple more thoughts on what to do with your trash or household items you wish to dispose of.


Consider donation, it's the ultimate recycling and reusing:


Old books can go to libraries, nursing homes, preschools, or various charity book collections.


Clothing can go to charity organizations such as Goodwill, Salvation Army, women's shelters, and charity resale shops. You can do the same with some children's toys and baby equipment such as strollers, cribs, toys, etc.


Furniture you no longer want can go to charity organizations as well. Consider those that resell those items or those that provide the items directly to people who are financially in need or are disaster victims.


If you just get a bit creative you will probably find many ways to recycle or reuse many of your household items. Our next post will consider ways you can make money off of items you no longer need. In the meantime, feel free to drop us a note if you have more ideas to add to this list.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

How to Dispose of Trash Without Using Plastic Bags

We had a great question from one of our readers, Midlife Traveller, who is using reusable shopping bags but wonders now how to handle the trash without using plastic bags. This is not as easy an answer as the shopping bags, but here are some possible suggestions:

Separate your trash and recycle as much as possible. Check with your trash disposal service and find out exactly what items they will recycle. There may be more recycling options than you realize. Also check with the municipality where you live to see if they have any separate recycling programs available for additional items.

Consider composting food wastes, paper, and other organically based products. Composting is a much easier proposition today than it used to be and there are several great composters on the market that can make the job easier and relatively clean. See the example we have outlined below. You can use biodegradable trash bags in the trash containers you are using for any items you are going to compost.

What remains of your trash should actually be fairly minimal. Items such as meat products you may want to use a food waste disposer or you may need to use a plastic trash bag for these items, as they are not compostable. Other non-recyclables I would just put directly into a trash can for pick-up, no bag needed.

This type of trash system will obviously take a bit of effort on your part, but will greatly reduce the amount of trash going to the landfills, will increase the amount of items going to the recycling plants, and will provide you with some rich, organic compost to fertilize your gardens. There are obviously many benefits to making the extra effort.

Here is a great little compost bin you may want to consider:

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.

______________________________


You may also want to consider biodegradable trash bags. These should only be used when the trash will be composted, as, like any other plastic bag, they will not break down in a sealed environment such as a landfill.

The bags shown below are for pet waste, but they are also available in other sizes for use in the home.




Biodegradable and Compostable
These BioBag Pet Waste Bags are 100% Biodegradable and 100% Compostable. BioBags help to make cleaning up after Fido a little more earth friendly. Made from cornstarch, these bags help to eliminate regular plastic bags from our environment. When disposed, BioBags will biodegrade as naturally as food scraps, leaving no harmful residue.

No Polyethylene
No Polyethylene is used in the production of this product. BioBags are GMO free, certified for use in organic agriculture, yet are shelf stable – just like paper towels.

Contains 50 full-sized bags
Measure 11.5” high x 7.8” wide (Large enough for even big Fido’s!)

Click Here

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Let us know if you have any additional ideas for environmentally friendly waste disposal. The best way to make things better is the free exchange of ideas!



Friday, June 22, 2007

Try Reusable Shopping Bags to Decrease Your Impact on the Environment

Chico Bag Reusable Shopping Bags: Black

ChicoBag Reusable Nylon Shopping Bag holds 20lbs
Measurements: Pouch measures a mere 4” x 2 ½” x 1” Expanded bag is 18" x 13"

Chico Bag Reusable Shopping Bags rock!

Use the ChicoBag Reusable Nylon Shopping Bag for everything – trips to the grocery store, farmers market or out shopping. The Chico Bag reusable shopping bag's made from strong, durable nylon. It's ultra-lightweight and tuck itself into a little bag making it perfect to fit into your purse, pocket or glove box. The Chico Bag fabric is soft making holding the handles a little easier on the hands. They’re easy to pack, durable and hold a lot. Machine washable. 1 year manufacturers warranty against defects in material and workmanship.

Reduce your Footprint with Reusable Bags. Did you know that using reusable shopping bags can save the average American 300 to 700 plastic shopping bags per year, which will save 3 to 7 gallons of crude oil? That’s per person for plastic bags alone! What a great, simple way to conserve our natural resources.

Ways to Improve the Environmental Friendliness of Your Business


Face it; it is easy to waste items at work and to not think about reducing, reusing, recycling, repurposing or regenerating resources. However, maintaining an environmentally friendly business helps your bottom line as well as the environment. So what can you do to improve the green at your place of business?

First, see that policies are put in place which encourages reducing, reusing and recycling.

Maximize energy efficiency. Turn down the heat or up the air conditioning by a couple of degrees. Be sure all windows and doors are insulated. Use energy efficient light bulbs. Turn equipment and machinery off when appropriate.

Reduce your water usage. Install displacement toilet dams in toilet reservoirs. Stop leaky faucets as soon as they are spotted.

Recycle, recycle
. Have specially marked bins for recycling to collect paper, cardboard, aluminum cans, plastics and ink cartridges.

Keep the “e” in e-mail. Don’t print off an e-mail unless it is absolutely necessary.

Check with your suppliers and see if they take back packaging and reuse it.

Look for a supply of paper with maximum recycled content.

Ask all of your suppliers to let you know what “green” policies and practices they have in place. If they don’t have any, look for another supplier.

Reduce paper usage by producing double sided documents. Reuse padded envelops.

Buy more environmentally friendly vehicles.

Putting just a few of these in practice will help you to “Be Green and Save”!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Stop Receiving Junk Mail


I walked out to the mail box and what did I find – 10 pieces of mail. Exciting? Remember how you used to love getting mail? Well going through that mail was 1 bill and nine pieces of junk mail! Not so much fun anymore. That is a lot of paper just going to the trash bin, recycle bin or shredder! How can we stop getting so much junk mail? I haven’t found a way to get rid of all of the junk mail, but here are some ways to greatly reduce your junk mail.

Direct Marketing Association has a Mail Preference Service (https://www.dmaconsumers.org/consumerassistance.html) (MPS). Registering will cost you $1.00 but will greatly reduce the amount of national advertising mail sent to you. Members of the Direct Marketing Association are required to use the MPS list. Keep in mind this will also reduce the number of catalogs and coupons you receive, which may be items you want.

Whenever you order a product, donate money or fill out a warranty card, include a note to not sell your name or address. Most companies will honor this request and mark your information accordingly.

The Credit Reporting Industry has a website that you can visit and register to opt out or opt in to receive firm offers from credit or insurance companies. At OptOutPreScreen.com (https://www.optoutprescreen.com/) you can electronically opt-out for five years, download a form to complete the permanently opt-out or you are able to opt-in.

Contact your credit card companies and ask them to remove your name from their lists that they sell or rent.

Contact your congressman. Currently 14 states have “Do Not Junk Registry” legislation under consideration patterned after the Do Not Call registry. Encourage your congressman to consider and pass this bill. The Center for a New American Dream (www.newdream.org/junkmail/state.php)
maintains a list of states with bills under consideration.

Meanwhile, keep shredding that junk mail!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Hotels - Some Creative Ways Many Are Trying to Be Green


We checked with the Green Hotels Association and found out what some hotels are doing to “be green”. You might want to pass this list along when you travel this summer.

• Meeting and banquet facilities are using pourers for sugar, pitchers for cream and small serving dishes for butter and jellies instead of disposable packaging.

• A Toronto hotel is recycling stained tablecloths into napkins, chef's aprons and neckties.

• Bicycles are being loaned or rented to guests.

• Coins or chips are being used for car parking and coat checking instead of paper tickets.

• Hotels are making cloth laundry bags from retired sheets.

• Mowed landscaping is being replaced by ground cover. Lawnmowers are used less, so air pollution and noise are reduced.

• A Florida hotel bought a mulcher to chop up their garden clippings and create their own mulch. The mulcher paid for itself in three months.

• A Wisconsin B&B has installed beautiful blue floor tile made from recycled automobile windshields.

• Chief engineers have found that toilet tank fill diverters in older toilets save about 3/4 of a gallon of water per flush.

• A Pennsylvania property has a 400' garden and produces organically-grown vegetables for its restaurant.

• Restaurants and bars in hotels are using daylight exclusively for as much of each day as possible.

• Solar energy is lighting signage and heating water for hotels in tropical areas.

Don't be afraid to ask the place you are thinking of staying what they are doing to be green and help the environment. During your travels, if you see something a hotel is doing to “be green”, drop us a line!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Smokers Littering the World

Photo courtesy of New Hampshire Dept. of Environmental Services

First off, I have to say, I am not a smoker and never have been. I detest the smell of smoke. And yes, this blog entry is simply a commentary!

The other day we participated in a “trash-off” day in our community to clean up trash along the roadways, creeks and parks. We had a fun time getting to know other people in the community and the town definitely sparkles a bit more. But, you know what was mostly picked up – cigarette butts! So, by the end of the day, I liked the actions of people who smoke even less.

Recently I came across an article - Seven Million Pounds of Trash Pulled From Waterways by Brian Skoloff of the Associated Press. In his article he notes - “Of the 7.7 million items of debris collected worldwide in 2006, cigarettes and cigarette butts accounted for roughly 1.9 million, the sixth consecutive year they have topped the list.”

Smokers, do us a favor and keep your trash to yourself!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Flying Green - Carbon Offsets

Today in the media you see a lot about “carbon offsets”. What exactly are these? Well, basically it is a way to pay for the emissions caused by vehicle travel – plane, train or automobile– and other emissions by investing in a “green” project. These projects range from trees being planted to research in alternative fuels to helping a village to go solar. For instance, the amount of CO2 spewed into the atmosphere when I drove to the beach the other day, can be offset or neutralized by helping someone else install solar panels.

Carbon offsets are a rather new idea and still need to prove themselves as a viable idea in practice. Several companies have sprung up to facilitate the use of carbon offsets. We have a few listed below. Most of these have carbon calculators on their sites or links to calculators.


Carbon Fund
http://www.carbonfund.org/

Charge for offsetting one ton of carbon emissions - $5.50

Carbonfund supports renewable energy, energy efficiency and reforestation projects globally that reduce carbon dioxide emissions and the threat of climate change.

Carbon Fund is a 501(3)C.


Native Energy
http://www.nativeenergy.com/

Charge for offsetting one ton of carbon emissions - $12

NativeEnergy helps you help build Native American, farmer-owned, community based renewable energy projects that create social, economic, and environmental benefits.

Native Energy is a for profit company.


TerraPass
http://www.terrapass.com

Charge for offsetting one ton of carbon emissions - $10

TerraPass channels its resources to get the maximum environmental benefit from every dollar. We fund three types of leading-edge projects: clean energy such as wind and biodiesel; biomass such as dairy farm methane; and industrial efficiency.

TerraPass is a for profit company.


Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF)
http://www.self.org/

Charge for offsetting one ton of carbon emissions -$10

The Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) helps rural, off-grid people in developing countries to power a brighter future through clean, renewable energy and modern communications.

SELF is a 501(3)C.

The travel industry is interested in this concept of carbon offsets and some travel agencies, such as Expedia and Travelocity, are starting to partner with carbon offsetting companies and offer the traveler an easy way to purchase his/her offsets. Extra clicks of the button and you have added carbon offsets to the price of your ticket!

Carbon offsetting is in its infancy stages. Questions such as how to audit a company’s handling of offsets, should there be any type of regulation, and the big question - do carbon offsets actually help neutralize carbon emissions still need to be answered. But one thing is for sure - it is great to see the entrepreneurial spirit at work to improve our environment.

Let us know your experience with purchasing carbon offsets.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Paper by the Ton



According to the Paper Industry Association Council, in 2006 paper and paperboard consumption was at 100.2 million tons of paper in the U.S. The Paper Industry has come a long way in reforesting, but our landfills are growing. While we are recycling over 53.4% of that paper, we can do better. So let's start shredding that paper and putting it to good use a second time (or third or fourth..)

Shred your newspapers, magazines, junk mail (watch for our upcoming article on reducing the amount of junk mail you receive), unwanted receipts, printing paper, old bills, etc. Then use that shredded material.

Shipping Material - Sending off a birthday gift, care package for friend or soldier? Shredded paper makes a great cushion and fill for those items you are shipping.

Gift Baskets, Gift Bags - This is an especially great use for colored shredded paper.

Backyard Mulch - Most papers are readily biodegradable and make a perfect mulching medium. Be sure to exclude the cellophane from window envelopes and coated paper from some magazines and catalogs.

Animal Bedding - If you don't have a cat, bird, gerbil, rabbit or other small pet yourself, check with your local animal shelters and pet stores to see if they are able to use your shredded paper.

Check with your local elementary school, shredded paper comes in handy for crafts such as paper mache.

Composting - Include some paper in your composting material to give your compost a good mix.



The Envirocycle Composter

Monday, June 4, 2007

What Have You Reused Today?

As you are throwing out that paper towel roll or coffee container or cheese box, have you thought about how you might reuse them? Karen’s Pot Your Plants with Plastics and Save article from a while ago was a terrific way to reuse your throw aways.

One of our friends is an expert “reuser” and every time we chat she has put something through a second life span. What are some of her ideas? Clothes in good condition go into a garage sale or a resale shop or are donated to The Salvation Army or Good Will or similar organization. Clothes with holes or stains get cut up for rags or into fabric squares to use for sewing into something else. Cheese boxes – you know the 2 pound processed cheese – she uses these as drawer organizers for pens, pencils, markers, paper clips. Paper Towel rolls and other cardboard tubes – store your taper candles or your electrical extension cords or save them for your favorite school or Sunday school teacher or camp leader as they always have craft ideas that use cardboard tubes.

In fact, check with your local school, church or camp as they may have lots of everyday things they can use that you may just toss!

We would love to hear what you reused today!

Happy reusing!

Friday, June 1, 2007

U.S. Continues to Lead the World in Wind Power Growth


As part of our alternative power source research, we are looking at how the U.S. ranks in implementing non-carbon based power.
The Energy Department released this news item yesterday.

DOE Report Shows Growing U.S. Wind Power Market

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today released its first Annual Report on U.S. Wind Power Installation, Cost, and Performance Trends: 2006, which provides a detailed and comprehensive overview of development and trends in the U.S. wind power market. Most notably, the Report concludes that U.S. wind power capacity increased by 27 percent in 2006; and that the U.S. had the fastest growing wind power capacity in the world in 2005 and 2006. More than 61 percent of the U.S.'s total wind capacity - over 7,300 Megawatts (MW) - has been installed since President Bush took office in 2001.

"As we work to implement President Bush's Advanced Energy Initiative by increasing the use of home-grown, clean, affordable and renewable energy, we are eager to continue the trend of increasing the use of wind power at unprecedented rates," DOE Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Alexander Karsner said. "Another record-breaking year of the United States installing more wind generating capacity than any other nation is indicative of the President's durable, pro-growth energy policy. With DOE’s support, wind power is one of the most important, emissions-free sources of energy being deployed to address climate change and improve our energy security."

In 2006, for the second straight year, the U.S. led the world by installing 2,454 MW of wind power capacity, enough to power the homes in a city the size of Philadelphia. The U.S. produced roughly 16 percent of the worldwide wind market, followed by Germany, India, Spain, and China.

The Report specifically analyzes trends in the marketplace including wind power prices compared to wholesale electricity prices, project costs, turbine sizes, and developer consolidation. It also describes the increasing performance of wind projects, current ownership and financing structures, and trends among major wind power purchasers. By collecting this information in one publication, the report will provide a valuable resource to industry participants, energy regulators, and state and local policymakers.

Specifically, some of the key findings of the Report include:
  • The U.S. is the fastest growing wind market worldwide. There remains substantial potential for the expansion of wind power to achieve approximately 20 percent of the nation’s generating mix.

  • Texas, Washington, and California lead the U.S. in annual capacity growth.

  • Wind power is competitive and has provided good value in wholesale power markets. Wind power has consistently been priced at, or below, the average price of conventional electricity (coal, nuclear, natural gas, etc.).

  • The cost of turbines has risen since 2002. Higher costs have reversed the decline in total wind project costs and driven up the cost of generating wind power. Turbine cost increases have been driven by rises in input material and energy prices, and some shortages in certain turbine components.

  • Wind project performance, has increased sharply over the last several years. This has been driven in part by improved project siting, and technological advancements.

  • The wind market is in a period of transition. Electric utilities have shown increased interest in wind project ownership, and merchant wind power plants and sales to power marketers have become more common.

To learn more about the Department of Energy's wind program, visit http://www.eere.energy.gov/windandhydro/.


Thursday, May 31, 2007

President Bush Presents Proposal for Global Emissions Reductions Goals

President Bush today stated that the United States should join with other nations in developing guidelines by the end of 2008 to reduce emissions in order to reduce greenhouse gases. While the standards he set forth are not to the liking of many environmental groups, at least President Bush is finally acknowledging that global warming exists.

According to the President "The United States will work with other nations to establish a new framework for greenhouse gas emissions for when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.
So my proposal is this: By the end of next year, America and other nations will set a long-term global goal for reducing greenhouse gases. To develop this goal, the United States will convene a series of meetings of nations that produce the most greenhouse gasses, including nations with rapidly growing economies like India and China."

"Each country would establish midterm management targets and programs that reflect their own mix of energy sources and future energy needs," he said. "In the course of the next 18 months, our nations will bring together industry leaders from different sectors of our economies, such as power generation, and alternative fuels and transportation."

These statements come just a short time before the convening of the G8 Summit during which President Bush will likely come under some pressure to begin efforts in the United States to reduce emissions. Time will tell where this leads. Let's hope it is an actual step in the direction of environmental reforms and not just rhetoric to appease the other members of the G-8 and the Kyoto Protocol.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Solar Power Set to Shine Brightly


Worldwatch Institute has just released an assessment that indicates solar power costs are heading down! That's good news for folks looking to live off the grid or those looking to reduce their carbon imprint as solar energy is one of the cleanest alternative power sources we have available.

read more>digg story

Monday, May 28, 2007

Fun Recycling Facts

We thought we would share some fun and interesting recycling facts with you.

But before we do, on this Memorial Day, we would like to say THANK YOU to all who have served or are currently serving in our military. Thank you to those who have given so that we may live free in the awesome land!

Now for our fun facts.....
  • Throwing away a single aluminum can, versus recycling it, is like pouring out six
    ounces of gasoline. Last year, Americans recycled enough aluminum cans to
    conserve the energy equivalent of more than15 million barrels of oil.


  • The EPA estimates that 75% of what Americans throw in the trash could actually
    be recycled. Currently, only 25% is.


  • Incinerating 10,000 tons of waste creates one job; landfilling 10,000 tons of waste
    creates six jobs; recycling 10,000 tons of waste creates 36 jobs.


  • The national recycling rate of 30 percent saves the equivalent of more than five billion
    gallons of gasoline, reducing dependence on foreign oil by 114 million barrels.
    This could be even higher!


  • The aluminum can is 100 percent recyclable and can be used to make new beverage
    cans indefinitely – demonstrating recycling at is finest! “Every can, every time!”


  • According to the EPA, recycling, including composting, diverted 68 million tons of
    material away from landfills and incinerators in 2001, up from 34 million tons in 1990.


  • Recycling 35 percent of our trash reduces global warming emissions equivalent to
    taking 36 million cars of the road.


  • Every Sunday 500,000 trees could be saved if everyone recycled their newspapers.


  • Think recycling is expensive? Consider this: aluminum cans are the most valuable
    item in your bin. Aluminum can recycling helps fund the entire curbside collection.
    It’s the only packaging material that more than covers the cost of collection and reprocessing for itself.


(www.RecycleCurbside.org)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Medicinal plant rediscovered after 115 years in Arunachal

This story is a perfect example of why we need preservation of as many remaining natural areas as possible. A primary resource of many lifesaving medications is plants, not man-made compounds. We need to save as many species of plants as possible from as many different environments as possible. Our lives may well depend on it.

Botanists in Arunachal Pradesh have rediscovered a rare medicinal plant after more than a century. Two scientists of the Botanical Survey of India spotted the wild flower, Begonia Tessaricarpa, during a routine research work near Ligu village in the northeastern state's Upper Subansari district bordering China.



read more digg story

Pot Your Plants with Plastics and Save

We were potting our flowers and herbs this year and decided we were using way too much potting soil in our large to medium sized planters. We decided to fill the pots half way with plastics that would otherwise be thrown out or sent on for recycling. We fill the pots with crushed milk jugs, plastic orange juice bottles, margarine containers and even the original pots the plants came in. This saved us about half the amount of potting soil we normally would use, which of course meant we saved half the money we would normally spend on potting soil. We also were repurposing items which would have otherwise wound up in a landfill and we can save those items to use again next year. Not only that, the pots drain well and the plants are growing great. You know they are never going to use all that soil way down at the bottom of the planter! It's a win-win situation.

Now that is a way to Be Green and Save!

If you have any tips on how to Be Green and Save, please feel free to share them.










Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Candy Wrapper Fashions!

We are exploring clothes and fashions that are recycled, reused or manufactured in environmentally friendly ways. We came across a fun site and wanted to share. Fashions made from candy wrappers?! Check out this fun merchant -

Why Buy Organic Cotton Clothes

We found this great little article that gives the basics of organic cotten clothes that we wanted to share with you. Read on.

Why Buy Organic Cotton Clothes
By Michael Baker


Have you ever actually felt 100% organic cotton clothes? They are unbelievably soft. And, just the mere fact of knowing you have done the environment some good gives you a sense of responsibility. Organic cotton clothes are made from organic cotton, which is cotton produced, or harvested, without any pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or genetically modified (GMO) seeds.


The way farmers grow their organic cotton is through traditional, holistic practices, which were relied upon back in the early days. They first start without using any pesticides on their crops. This may mean their yields are not as great as with newer methods, but the payoffs are enormous. They also use a crop rotation in their field, which helps the need to not use pesticides.


Crop rotation is simply not growing the same crop in a location for two seasons in a row. The farmers will grow dissimilar crops, which will help to eliminate the pathogens and bugs that will begin to make their home in their crops. It also allows the nitrogen to be replenished in the soil, which is done through a green manure crop.


Green manure is something like growing clovers for a season in the field, then just plowing them into the soil, and then growing your regular crops. There are other green manure crops as well, such as field beans, clovers, fenugreek, and others. They are also known as cover crops.


GMO is also something of concern. This is a seed than has been genetically modified to allow round up to be sprayed on it and not have anything happen to it. While organic farming will not use any chemical fertilizers or pesticides, you still want the seed as nature intended for it to be. So, stay clear of GMO seeds, fruits, and vegetables.


Organic cotton clothes are produced in ways as to not destroy the environment. They do not use pesticides, fertilizers, or GMO seeds, and are all natural products. If you are looking for another way to help protect and save the environment, then try some organic cotton clothes.



Askleona is your source for Organic Cotton Clothes



Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Michael_Baker
http://EzineArticles.com/?Why-Buy-Organic-Cotton-Clothes&id=538428

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Drip and a Drop Add Up!

How much water can you save? We have found some easy ways that you can save water and money! Have you ever paid attention to how much water your household uses each month? The typical family of 4 has an average indoor water use of 7600 gallons per month and about 4500 gallons per month outdoors. Take a look at your water bill or water meter, then try implementing a couple of the suggestions below. See what a difference few small changes can make!

Water your lawn only as needed. Step on your grass. If it springs back when you lift your foot, it doesn’t need water. Water your lawn and plants early in the day to reduce evaporation. This small step can save 750 gallons or more per month. Collect rain water to use for water your plants and lawn and save even more. This Sandstone Space Saver Rain Barrel will add beauty and functionality to your yard.

Fix leaky faucets, plumbing joints and your sprinkler system. This little tidbit can save 600 gallons per month. Detect toilet leaks by adding a few drops of food coloring to the toilet tank. If the tank is leaking, color will appear in the bowl within 15-30 minutes.

Replace a portion of your lawn with beautiful native plants. And mulch around those plants to hold more water in the soil. Depending on your climate you could save over 1000 gallons per month.

Replace your old washing machine with a new, high-efficiency model. Most high-efficiency models reduce water usage 20 to 30 gallons per load.

Run only full loads in the washing machine and dishwasher. Following this easy tip can save between 300 and 800 gallons of water per month.

Use a broom instead of a hose to clean driveways and sidewalks.

Shorten your showers. Even a one- or two-minute reduction can save up to 700 gallons per month. Also install low-flow shower head for additional water savings!

Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth or soaping your hands or scrubbing the dishes.

Store a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator rather than running water for it to cool.

Instead of running water and waiting for it to get hot, install Tankless Water Heaters.

Do you have any water saving tips? Comment back and share them with us.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Living Off-Grid

Moving off of commercial power sources is making some head way once again. But what is off-grid living? Does it save energy? Does it save money? Can I still have a refrigerator and a computer and run them both at the same time? Solar energy? Wind energy?

We had these questions and lots more! In the next few weeks we will explore off-grid living and share our discoveries. Read about a community in Oregon that went off the grid. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Green Furniture?

Go Green! is a phrase thrown around a lot in the conservationist/environmentalists world. But what does that mean? A very simple explanation is putting in place practices that reduce the impact to the environment. Everything has an impact, so is what you are doing have a positive impact or a less negative impact than another practice?

Let’s look at furniture. Green Furniture, you say!? And no, we are talking about the color of furniture. What are some things to consider that would classify furniture as green? Here are some of the ideas we have come across.

  • Are the materials the furniture is made of recycled or recyclable? Lots of furniture is now being made with recyclable plastics and metals.
  • Is the furniture made from sustainable wood sources?
  • Bamboo is an excellent green material. It grows fast, most growers do not use pesticides and the grass is amazingly versatile. However, most is grown in China, so is not a local product for most people and therefore loses some points in the green category.
  • Second hand furniture. Do you have a piece of furniture that has been passed down through the generations? Have you picked up items at a garage sale or auction. A piece of furniture that has lasted a long time and has not been put in the trash pile is definitely a green piece of furniture.

Some stores and marketers are now providing “green” benefits of their products. Next time you are shopping, be sure to ask.



Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Saving Money and Energy

Another idea in our series of "easy" ways to impact the environment at your home or office.

Better lights are the No. 1 way to save money and energy. Why? Because changing your light bulbs is an easy, effective step you can take to reduce your electric bill and the greenhouse gases emitted by creating electricity.

Read the rest of this great article from Mother Earth News

Monday, May 14, 2007

How is an Aluminum Can Recycled?

One of the easiest and most popular ways to help the environment is to recycle. Do you purchase soda pop and other beverages in cans? Those cans are made with aluminum and can be recycled. Many of you already do that, but what happens after you throw that can into the recycling bin?

A Smashing Idea!

  • Aluminum cans are picked up by your waste management company and then sent to large, regional scrap processing companies.

  • There, they smash the cans to condense them into highly dense, 30-pound briquettes or 1,200-pound bales and ship them off to aluminum companies for melting.

  • At the aluminum companies, the condensed cans are shredded, crushed and stripped of their inside and outside decorations using a burning process.

Hot, Hot, Hot!

  • Then, the small, chip-sized pieces of aluminum are loaded into melting furnaces, where temperatures are over 12000 F. The recycled metal is blended with new, virgin aluminum.

  • The molten aluminum is then poured into 25-foot long ingots that weigh over 30,000 pounds.

  • These massive blocks of aluminum are fed into rolling mills that reduce the thickness of the metal from 20-plus inches to sheet that is about 10/1,000 of an inch thick.

  • This metal is then coiled and shipped to can makers and other manufacturers who produce can bodies and lids.

  • Cans are then shipped to beverage companies for filling.

The new cans are filled with your favorite drink and then ready to return to store shelves in as little as 60 days. And the cycle starts all over again!

Today most aluminum cans contain 40% post consumer recycled aluminum! And the great thing is that aluminum can be recycled over and over again.


(Process and statistics obtained from: http://www.aluminum.org)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Travel Green

Do you love to travel? I sure do! And whether you are traveling the mountains of the Rockies or the beaches of the coasts, you can have an impact on the environment. Let's make it a positive impact!

The money you spend while vacationing helps determine the development and direction of tourism, so what can you do?

  • Taking a tour? Talk with the various tour operators and discover which one(s) are conservation minded and reputable.
  • Limit energy use. Turn off lights and TV when leaving your hotel. Check that temperature and adjust up or down to reduce energy use.
  • Conserve water. If you are "roughing" it on your vacation, this may be a necessity to ensure you have sufficient water during your trip. However, practicing water conservation all of the time can have a significant impact. Even practices like - taking showers rather than baths or using a refillable water bottle rather than purchasing bottled water - go a long way. Participate in the sheet washing program that many hotels offer.
  • Reduce car use. Choose other ways to get around such as trains, buses or bikes. Take shuttles to and from the airport.
  • Visit National or State parks and reserves - Many areas have been protected and offer wonderful recreation opportunities. Support these parks and reserves. Leave these areas as you found them. Take your trash with out with you!
  • Stay on trails during hikes. Enjoy the variety of plants and be sure to leave them in place.
  • Recycle. Newspapers, magazines and beverage containers can all be recycled. Reduce the number of plastic and paper bags by carrying totes and other reusable bags.
  • Choose hotels and motels that have good environment practices.

These are just a few tips to keep in mind when traveling. Do you have a tip to share? Be sure and comment back and let us know! We would love to share it with our readers.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Top Ten U.S. Cities Ranked by Use of Renewable Energy

An interesting short article discussing the top ten larger cities using renewable energy. It's nice to see some progress in this area although there is still much work to be done.

"A newly released study conducted by SustainLane Government concludes that Oakland, California, generates the highest percentage of renewable energy out of all U.S. cities, producing 5 percent more energy than any other city surveyed.

Leading the nation with 17 percent of its electricity produced by sources such as solar, wind and geothermal, most renewable energy generation in the city comes from commercial and residential photovoltaic (PV) systems. "


read more digg story

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Climate change a threat to Indonesian agriculture, study says

Rice farming in Indonesia is greatly affected by short-term climate variability and could be harmed significantly by long-term climate change, according to a new study by researchers at Stanford University, the University of Washington and the University of Wisconsin. The results are scheduled for publication the week of April 30 in the online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. With the climate changes that are occurring, the typhoon seasons are expected to be more severe, while the summer season may be exceptionally dry. Not a good scenario for farming, food sources, or the economy.



read more | digg story

Eliminate Plastic Bags to Save Wildlife and Reduce Pollution

This site discusses how plastic bag pollution often ends up in the waterways and chokes and kills sea birds, sea turtles and other animals. It offers alternatives to using plastic bags to shop. Really interesting information, photos, and resources.



read more | digg story

Monday, April 30, 2007

Monday Madness - A Bit of Fun

We are going to join in on the Monday Madness meme every Monday just to add a bit of fun to our blog. Feel free to leave comments and to join in on the fun at Monday Madness. While you're here at Be Green and Save, be sure to check out some of our other posts where you can learn some great ways to be green and save natural resources and some money!

Here are this week's questions:

1. Currently, what television commercial is your least favorite?
The Orkin Man-He's really quite annoying.

2. And which commercial is your most favorite?
I like the Target commercials (most of them). I think they are really well produced and interesting to watch.

3. Of the sitcoms that are on during "prime time" how many do you watch on a regular basis? Please share.
Are there sitcoms on primetime anymore?

4. Is there a television series that you enjoy watching that is ending this season?
Not really

5. Is there any type of program you'd like to see more of on television?
Something truly funny that I could feel comfortable watching with my kids. Also more science shows like Nova.

6. Is there any type of program you'd like to see less of on television?
Violent crime and police dramas. Yuck!

7. Is there a series that is no longer aired that you wish would come back?
I really liked Everybody Loves Raymond.

8. Do you watch re-runs of anything on television?
Sometimes I watch Everybody Loves Raymond re-runs and also shows on HGTV.

Be sure to check out our posts on Recycling Cell Phones and Reusable Shopping Bags.

Have a great week everyone.

Karen

Friday, April 27, 2007

Environment Friendly Hotels

Environment Friendly Hotels. That phrase conjures up all kinds of ideas in peoples’ minds – everything from recycling to giving the option of not changing the sheets each day. Many hotels and motels have put some effort into doing basic efforts, such as giving you the option whether you want your sheets changed each day. We applaud the industry for those efforts. Some hotels even go a bit further and promote being “Green.” Here are some of the ways we found hotels, motels, inns and bed and breakfasts can be environmentally friendly.


  • Alternative Energy – Use renewable energy sources, such as biomass, small hydro, solar, wind, geothermal and tidal energy systems for all or part of their energy sources.

  • Bulk Containers – For amenities such as shampoo, conditioner, and lotion that are available in the rooms and bathrooms bulk containers are used rather than small individual containers.

  • Organic Cotton towels and linens – Cotton products do not add VOC’s to the air, which in turn, improves guest room air.

  • Recycling furniture and soft goods that they are replacing – Hotels are often replacing sheets, towels, bedspreads, furniture, etc. Many hotels donate these to charity or sell them to be used again rather than dumping them in the trash.

  • Durable Service Items - Dishes, cups, glasses, mugs, tableware, and serving pieces that are long-lasting, not disposable make the hotel atmosphere a bit more elegant, reduce landfill and save the hotel money in the long run!

  • Organic and locally grown foods – make for a much healthier, fresher meal.

  • Water conservation – Some hotels utilize water efficiently by installing low flow toilets, shower heads and faucets and using smart landscaping techniques.

These are just a few of the ideas to practices to look for when selecting an eco-friendly hotel. If you can’t tell from a hotels website or ad, be sure to ask when you call. You may be just the encouragement they need to continue to pursue environmentally friendly practices.

Debbie

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Paper or Plastic Bags - What is Better to Use?

Here is an excerpt from our Squidoo Lens "Reusable Bags - You Don't Need Paper or Plastic"

It's the age old shopping question: "Paper or Plastic?"
What is the answer? "Neither!"

Did you know that up to one trillion, that's 1,000,000,000,000, plastic bags are consumed every year worldwide.

So what? Well, consider this. Each year plastic shopping bags kill thousands of wild animals each year. Sea birds, sea turtles, whales, and seals often mistake the bags for jellyfish. They ingest the bags and then die of intestinal blockage.

Additional problems occur as many plastic bags clog drainage systems and sewer lines. This leads to increased flooding in many areas. Of further concern is the sheer cost of clean-up of the pollution from the bags alone.

You can read the rest at http://www.squidoo.com/reusablebags/

Karen

Monday, April 23, 2007

What is the Greenhouse Effect?


Many people are talking about the Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming, yet not everyone understands the dynamics of the cycle of changes. Over several posts and with some help from our friends at NOAA and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research we will try to explain some of the foundations and concerns regarding Global Warming.

The following is excerpted from “Our Changing Climate


The Greenhouse Effect
Carbon dioxide gas constitutes a tiny fraction of
the atmosphere. Only about one air molecule in
three thousand is CO2. Yet despite their small
numbers, CO2 molecules can have a big effect on
the climate. To understand why they are so
important, we need to know about the greenhouse
effect of the atmosphere. Earth’s atmosphere
lets in rays of sunshine and they warm the
surface. The planet keeps cool by emitting heat
back into space in the form of infrared radiation—
the same radiation that warms us when we
sit near a campfire or stove. But while the
atmosphere is fairly transparent to sunshine, it is
almost opaque to infrared radiation. Much like a
garden greenhouse, it traps the heat inside.

About half of the solar energy that reaches
Earth passes through the atmosphere and is
absorbed at the surface. In contrast, about 90%
of the infrared radiation emitted by the surface
is absorbed by the atmosphere before it can
escape to space. In addition, greenhouse gases
like CO2 as well as clouds can re-emit this radiation,
sending it back toward the ground. The fact
is, Earth’s surface receives almost twice as much
energy from infrared radiation coming down
from the atmosphere as it receives from sunshine.
If all greenhouse gases were removed
from the atmosphere, the average surface temperature
of Earth would drop from its current
value of 59°F (15°C) to about 0°F (-18°C). Without
the atmosphere’s greenhouse effect, Earth
would be a frozen and nearly lifeless planet.


As you can see the greenhouse effect is a necessary element of our planet’s survival. It is our effect on the greenhouse effect that is the cause for concern.

More in our next post…

Karen

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Earth Day - A Little History

Earth Day! What is it? Do we only celebrate it in the U.S? When did we begin celebrating this day?

What is it?

According to Gaylord Nelson, the Senator from Wisconsin that is attributed to starting Earth Day, - "It was on that day that Americans made it clear that they understood and were deeply concerned over the deterioration of our environment and the mindless dissipation of our resources." (ref. EPA History). Earth Day is a day to take a look around you and see what you as an individual or family can do to improve the environment and reduce waste. It is a day to celebrate the environment and assess what still needs to be done.

Do we only celebrate it in the U.S?

Earth Day is now recognized across the globe as a day to celebrate the environment.

When did we begin celebrating this day?

The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970. Senator Gaylord Nelson, a conservationist began discussing environmental issues with President Kennedy in 1962. Senator Nelson hoped that President Kennedy would speak on environmental issues facing the nation and bring the environment to the forefront of politics. So began a long process. In 1969 Senator Nelson announced that a grassroots demonstration would be held in the spring of 1970. Millions of people across the nation turned out for the demonstration. Thus began Earth Day.

Though Earth Day is a one day celebration of the environment, we encourage you to consider every day what you can do to impact the environment in a positive way.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Some Family Friendly Ideas for Earth Day (and everyday)!

With Earth Day just around the corner, we know there are lots of things planned in schools and communities. We thought we would share a few "family friendly" ideas.

  1. Take a walk through your neighborhood, a park or forest preserve and talk about the importance of taking care of the environment.
  2. Turn off lights, radios, and TVs when leaving the room (except of course, if little brother or sister are still in the room!)
  3. Pick up trash in a neighborhood park.
  4. Organize a clean up day at your school or church.
  5. Plant bushes or trees at your house, church or park.
  6. Check the house for leaky faucets and toilets and work together to replace or fix them. A great place to find new fixtures is at Find More Facts.
  7. Have a cell phone recycle campaign in your neighborhood. Collect old cell phones and ship them to a phone recycler. Our friends at FreeRecycling.com will purchase your cell phones and ink cartridges from you and recycle them.

What fun activities are you doing this Earth Day? Comment back and let us know.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Earth Day Becomes Earth Year - Recycle, Reuse, Reduce, and Save Money



This Sunday, April 22nd, is Earth Day. There are many things you as an individual can do to reuse items, reduce the use of energy and resources, recycle goods, and repurpose items. We’ll give you a few examples in this post, but we would also like you to think about Earth Day as another type of New Year’s Day. Make some ecologically based resolutions to follow for the next “Earth Year.” Leave us a comment to let us know what resolutions you have come up with.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Use reusable cloth sacks when you go shopping instead of plastic shopping bags.
Here are a couple of great sources we found for totes:


Foldable Wheeled Tote


This foldable wheeled tote is constructed of durable rip stop nylon polyester. Durable inline ball bearing roller skate wheels fold for convenient storage. Features a front net pocket and side net pocket for additional storage. Detachable coin pocket, as well as rear zipper pocket for personal items. Heavy duty nickel plated zipper, and convenient adjustable handle straps. A great way to get everything home easily!




Organize.com offers a variety 13 1/2"tall (without straps) x 17 1/2"wide fabric totes at great prices. Here are a couple of examples:




2. Recycle your unused cell phones.
You can recycle your old cell phone and possibly even make some cash. You can check out the details here. You can also read more about this topic in our previous post Recycling Cell Phones.


3. Reset all of your light timers.
With the time change and the seasons changing, you may not need automatic timers to be set to turn on as early.


4. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth.
Sounds simple but it can save quite a bit of water over time.


5. Replace some of your incandescent lightbulbs with low mercury, compact fluorescent bulbs.
They use about two-thirds less energy and last from 5-7 years. You will save energy and money. You can't beat that!

Happy Earth Year! Check back with us soon for more great earth friendly ideas. You may want to sign up for our RSS feed so you won't miss a single post.

Another Green Minded Blogger

We have met another Green Minded blogger we would like to give a shout out to at Change Climate Back. Leddie is providing some excellent and insightful information on Global Warming. Check him out when you get a chance. His info is well worth the read.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Geen Team Review: Aquaculture, Aquaponics and Sustainability: Aquaculture in Manitoba - Where to Start

Aquaculture, Aquaponics and Sustainability: Aquaculture in Manitoba - Where to Start

This is a really interesting post by Robert Freeman, an aquaculture consultant. He discusses the viability and usefulness of fish farming or aquaculture, a method of fish production which is slowly growing. This can lead to larger production of fish for the food market without the depletion of natural fish stocks.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

About the Be Green Team

The Be Green Team consists of Karen, Debbie, and Rick. We are a group of entrepreneurs who have a strong interest in environmental issues. Our company, AquaNova Designs, Inc. is focused on providing useful, informative, interesting, and sometimes entertaining information on conservation, reusing resources, recycling, and other ways that everyone can help protect and preserve our environment. We hope this blog, Be Green and Save will do just that.

But that’s not all we do. We also are very interested in helping children learn more about reading, math, science, and geography. We especially want kids to learn to participate in activities in a positive way with great levels of self-esteem. That is why we publish the online children’s magazine WOW! eKids. It is a FREE, interactive fun and educational ezine primarily for children ages 7-11, but we think kids and adults of all ages will find something to enjoy in every issue. In fact we have an entire Parent’s Pages section in the magazine. You can check it out at http://www.wowekdismag.com/.

Thanks for reading our blog and we hope you will join with us on our exciting journeys!