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!

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