Tuesday, July 31, 2007

No Impact Man

Another interesting experiment by Colin Beavan aka No Impact Man to live a zero eco-impact life for a year with his wife, daughter and dog.
"No Impact Man is my experiment with researching, developing and adopting a way of life for me and my little family—one wife, one toddler, one dog—to live in the heart of New York City while causing no net environmental impact. To do this, we will decrease the things we do that hurt the earth—make trash, cause carbon dioxide emissions, for example—and increase the things we do that help the earth—clean up the banks of the Hudson River, give money to charity, rescue sea birds, say."

No Impact Man: What you need to know

Green as a Thistle

Here's an interesting account of one womans (Vanessa) ongoing experiment to live green for an entire year with minimal impact on the environment.
"Spend each day, for an entire calendar year, doing one thing that betters the environment. The idea is that everything I do, I keep doing (so if I switch brands, it's a permanent switch; if I turn down my thermostat, I keep it down), so that by day 365, I'll be living as green a lifestyle as it gets. I hope, in the end, this proves that being an environmentalist doesn't necessarily have to require massive change, compromise or Greenpeace levels of dedication — it can be simple, and inspiring."

Green as a Thistle

Living green, by design - Los Angeles Times

"One home is efficient and thrifty. The other is stylish and opulent. They both help the planet.

DONNA SIDER painstakingly renovated her 1,000-square-foot Pasadena home to be more energy-efficient as a way to save money and help the environment at the same time.

Jeffrey Eyster built an eco-friendly, 2,200-square-foot dream house in the hills above Laurel Canyon, in tune with his appreciation of fine architecture, superior materials and healthful living.

Eyster's home demonstrates that luxury and cutting-edge design can be integral to environmental construction.

Sider's is proof that going green doesn't require a lot of gold. Their efforts can serve as examples to homeowners who want to fight global warming or trim their household expenses, or both. And the payoffs in both areas are substantial, environmental leaders say."

Living green, by design - Los Angeles Times

Bye, Bye Greenfly?

Eco friendly solution to getting rid of insects (and other pests) from damaging your plants.
"A weak soap solution is ideal for dispatching little buggies like the ones which are eating your plant.

Make sure to use real soap and not detergent (most commercial dish soaps are actually detergents). For example, Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap is real soap and is certified organic... perhaps you already have some around the house.

Mix a tablespoon or two in a quart of water and give the plant a good spray. The soap will dehydrate (and therefore kill) the bugs and, in small quantities, will not harm the plant -- or render your peppers poisonous.

Other natural pest repellents include onions, horseradish, cayenne, and garlic, which is particularly good for repelling deer"

Good Question: Bye, Bye Greenfly? [via Apartment Therapy]

Can Think's electric car revolutionize the auto industry?

The "Think Car "looks very promising. A fun, small electric car from Norway looks like just the ticket for everyday commuting.

"Have you driven a Fjord lately?

Think's zippy little Web-enabled, carbon-free electric driving machine could help reverse 100 years of automotive history...

Taking a cue from Dell , the company will sell cars online, built to order. It will forgo showrooms and seed the market through car-sharing services like Zipcar. Every car will be Internet-and Wi-Fi-enabled, becoming, according to Willums, a rolling computer that can communicate wirelessly with its driver, other Think owners, and the power grid.

In other words, it's Web 2.0 on wheels. 'We want to sell mobility,' Willums says. 'We don't want to sell a thing called the Think.'"

Can Think's electric car revolutionize the auto industry? [via Slashdot]

Monday, July 30, 2007

Make your own BioDiesel

"Etruk offers a home biodiesel processing plant so you can make your own cheap, cleaner burning (60% less CO2) renewable fuel for your vehicles. The company also offers training to make sure you get it right. For those what don’t know, biodiesel is biodegradable and can be made from waste vegetable oil (from restaurant chip fryers for example) or animal fats etc."

Make your own BioDiesel - cheap legal engine power on tap - The Red Ferret Journal

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Is it possible to recycle old CD's or DVD's?

EcoGeek has some good suggestions on where and how to dispose old CDs and DVDs. Additional tips on Apartment Therapy's Green blog.

EcoGeek | Recycling CDs

Eco-Friendly Ways to Get Rid of Ants

Got ants? Here are some Green solutions to get rid of them.
"Since we can't find the nest to pour boiling water on it, we're more drawn to the tips that involve sprinkling products on the ant trails. Some of these are: aspartame, black pepper, borax, catnip, cayenne pepper, chili powder, cinnamon, crushed mint, cucumber, a mixture of baking soda and powdered sugar, or citrus peel and water, or white vinegar and water. If the ants return, we think the idea that we'll try is to spray peppermint or spearmint essential oil on the trail."

Eco-Friendly Ways to Get Rid of Ants

Green : Carpet Deodorizer

[Make] your own carpet powder using this formula:
1/2 cup of borax
1/2 cup of baking soda
1 teaspoon of cloves and/or cinnamon (cloves help keep closets moth-free)

Apartment Therapy - Green

Black is the new Green

"With energy consumption and the environment becoming central concerns, Google has stepped into the frame to create a search engine front window that's a little bit greener - because it goes back to black.

Why black?

Well, when your screen is white - whether it's depicting an empty word processor page, or the Google search webpage, your computer consumes approximately 74 watts of power...

...but when screens are black the computer consumes just 59 watts of power."

Black is the new Green - Macworld UK

Monday, July 23, 2007

Five Plants That Repel Mosquitoes

Instead of harsh chemicals, use plants such as, Citronella Grass, Catnip, Rosemary, Marigolds and Mosquito Plants to repel mosquitoes (read on).
"The most common way of repelling or getting rid of mosquitoes involves spraying a large quantity of poisonous chemicals in your yard and on yourself. If you are interested in a more natural approach, consider these plants that repel mosquitoes."

Five Plants That Repel Mosquitoes [via Unclutterer]


A really novel and wonderful way to recycle cards.
"These Bloom and Grow cards from UncommonGoods are designed with this short lifetime in mind, and in true cradle-to-cradle spirit, feed the earth once they're discarded. Seeds are embedded in each card, and with a little patience and water, will bloom into healthy flowers after the card is buried."

Card-to-cradle (via TreeHugger)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Environmentally friendly hard drive hops onto the scene

This is great news for all us techies, since we have an ever expanding need to store and backup digital information. I hope more manufacturers will offer environmentally friendly computer accessories and peripherals so we can all reduce energy consumption and hazardous materials in our environment.
"Kanguru Solutions has released the Kanguru Eco Drive, an 'environmentally friendly and energy efficient' external hard drive. With its three built in Power Saving modes, the Kanguru Eco Drive automatically gauges hard drive usage to reduce power consumption by up to 75 percent and extends the life of the hard drive itself...

The Kanguru Eco Drive is also RoHS compliant. RoHS, or the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive, is an international directive to restrict the use of six hazardous materials in the manufacture of certain types of electrical equipment..."

Macsimum News - Environmentally friendly hard drive hops onto the scene

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

62 Little Known Uses Of Vinegar

Here are some really good uses for Vinegar; and they are eco friendly.
"Vinegar is a liquid produced from the fermentation of ethanol in a process that yields its key ingredient, acetic acid. Ninety percent of American Households buy vinegar. The 4 major uses are for salads, as cooking ingredients, pickling and home canning. Anyways, I just thought that everyone should know about the usefulness of vinegar other than for the 4 things mentioned above. I've put together 61 other things with pictures about everything else that you can do with vinegar."

62 Little Known Uses Of Vinegar | because you value your body

The True Cost of Bottled Water

From childhood, we're told to drink at least eight glasses of water each day. Unfortunately more and more Americans drink those eight glasses out of eight different plastic bottles—a convenience that stuffs landfills, clogs waterways and guzzles valuable fossil fuels...

Paying thousands of times more for bottled water, and damaging the environment while you're at it, simply makes no sense. Head out with your own reusable bottle.

Tapped Out: The True Cost of Bottled Water:

Green Vacations for the Summer

Considering a Green vacation for your family? This article highlights some good options available at the National Parks in the US.
Despite a pristine image, our national parks aren't exactly unspoiled. Once, it was common to dump trash wherever handy, waste the natural supply of water, even feed bears for entertainment. And the park lodges – no matter how magnificent the structures – were often the worst offenders.

Greenlight | The Greenest Summer Vacations

Time to consider going Solar?

Greenlight magazine thinks it's time to re-consider using Solar energy, since costs are on the decline and more options available for consumers from the likes of Home Depot and Target. Check out the article.
The days of cumbersome above-roof mounts and minimum investments of $30,000 are gone. Solar technology is evolving quickly, and it may be time for you to give it a fresh look.

Greenlight | Simple Solar?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Saving Green While Going Green

Some good tips here; including investing in Green businesses, reducing waste, and opting out of unnecessary paperwork.
Our personal finance contributor offers tips for people who are interested in protecting the environment, but also protecting their cash flow. (Listen to this story...)

NPR : Saving Green While Going Green

Friday, July 13, 2007

Top 10 Computing Energy Savers

A very timely list of energy saving tips from Lifehacker.
Reducing the amount of energy your hungry computers eat up every day won't only save you money on electricity bills, it will reduce your carbon footprint. If you haven't thought about how much electricity your gadgets use up every day, now's the time. Turns out just a few changes in habits and system settings can save you money AND the environment. After the jump, have 10 ways to reduce your energy consumption and compute greener.

10. Upgrade your gear
9. Dim your screen
8. Consolidate and virtualize computers
7. Turn off peripherals
6. Kill unnecessary processes
5. Get a smart power switch
4. Enable energy saver settings
3. Unplug energy vampires
2. Spin down your hard drive
1. Shut down

Lifehacker Top 10: Top 10 Computing Energy Savers - Lifehacker

Make an Eco commercial for Al Gore

Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection is conducting a contest for the best "Eco" commercial; the winner will receive a Hybrid Toyota Highlander. Check the Current TV website for details.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Not recycling? Now’s the time to start

Just do it. You'll feel better.
Unlike paper and plastic, electronics aren’t so easy to dispose of. They often contain toxic substances and can be large and heavy...

[...] Thankfully, some manufacturers and retailers such as Sears, Lowe’s, Target and Circuit City have begun their own recycling initiatives or worked through Call2Recycle, a national collection and recycling program run by the nonprofit Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corp. (RBRC).

The RBRC can help you recycle your used portable rechargeable batteries and old cell phones. Rechargeable batteries are commonly found in cordless power tools, cellular and cordless phones, laptop computers, camcorders, digital cameras, and remote control toys. RBRC recycles the following battery chemistries: Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd), Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH), Lithium Ion (Li-ion) and Small Sealed Lead (Pb). RBRC is dedicated to keeping rechargeable batteries and cell phones out of our nation’s solid waste stream and preserving natural resources. Check out the RBRC web site to see what you can do.

Meanwhile, some of us in the U.S. need to get on the ball. While three-quarters (77 percent) of American adults recycle something in their own home, one-quarter (23 percent) still recycle nothing at all, according to a new Harris Interactive study. One may think that the younger generation is the one most likely to recycle, but this isn’t the case. Three in ten (30 percent) Echo Boomers (those aged 18 to 30) recycle nothing, compared to 19 percent of Matures (those aged 62 and older), the report adds.

There is also a regional difference in who recycles and who does not. Those in the East and West are more likely to recycle (88 percent and 86 percent respectively). One-third (32 percent) of those in the South as well as three in ten (30 percent) of those in the Midwest, however, say they recycle nothing.

Not recycling? Now’s the time to start

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Re-Thinking The System That Is Food

How does our modern concept of food and our eating habits affecting our health and the environment around us. TreeHugger's Tamara Giltsoff has a wonderful article based on her personal experience on this issue. Be sure to read the entire article here.
Food is so connected to who we are and how we operate in this world. Think about the different patterns of food that cross cultures and social divides. It also reflects the patterns of the modern world and the downfalls of a globalized world – processed food, hormone induced animals, hymogenization, pesticides, food miles, GM etc.

What did I learn when food was taken away from me and I spent a whole week discussing the provenance of produce, how we should be eating, how we once ate and why the current system of food is failing the world and our bodies?

Fasting – Re-Thinking The System That Is Food (TreeHugger)

The Green Gym

Via: The Joy of Tech

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Eco Friendly Bamboo Optical Mouse

They also make a Bamboo keyboard :)
This environmentally friendly Bamboo optical mouse combines technology with nature. The components on the cover are made entirely of bamboo.

Eco Friendly Bamboo Optical Mouse

Friday, July 6, 2007

Computers left on at night Cost U.S. Businesses $1.7 Billion

We all know that leavings PCs, lights and other electrical appliances on when not in use is a huge drain on energy. It's about time corporations took notice; if not for “saving energy” then at least to save money. Either way it's a good thing for the environment.
Nearly half of all corporate PCs in the US are not regularly switched off at night, costing US businesses $1.72 billion in energy and causing emissions of 14.4 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, according to recently released PC Energy Awareness report...

The data show that American businesses are wasting energy while we sleep. A mid-sized company, which includes about 10,000 PCs, wastes more than $165,000 a year in electricity costs for computers left on overnight. In addition, by turning these computers off, an employer can keep more than 1,381 tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere.

Computers Left on at Night Cost U.S. Businesses $1.7 Billion [via TreeHugger]

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Vodka and Sunshine Can Keep You Warm

Here's an inspirational story, published in the NY Times, of one man who built an almost self sustaining home for his family.
It is not the prettiest house to ever grace the pages of the New York Times home section, but perhaps that is why it is so interesting, it is such a switch from the usual swish. Larry Weingarten designed it to be cheap to run and maintenance free: “Didn’t Thoreau question whether the man owned the lawn mower or the mower owned the man?” Mr. Weingarten said on a late-spring afternoon, paraphrasing slightly.

Anyone can do the simple things (cladding is Hardishake, decking is Trex, handrails are galvanized pipe, size is a modest 1800 square feet) but it also has photovoltaics for lights and the computer, and a gravity fed solar hot water radiant heating system with a thousand gallon tank in the basement. If you get thirsty, he uses vodka as the antifreeze because it is more efficient and non-toxic. (compared to industrial antifreeze anyways.)

Vodka and Sunshine Can Keep You Warm [via TreeHugger]

How to save energy one monitor at a time

This article gives some good tips on how to save energy while using a computer monitor and makes a good case for switching over to LCD monitors.
Do we need our monitor at it’s brightest all the time? Do we need Microsoft Word background look like white paper? Can we write white over black instead of black over white? Can we all follow some monitor manners and save energy?

By following simple monitor manners below, in fact we can save lot of energy.

1. When not in use, simply switch off the monitor by hand.

2. If fits in your budget, buy an LCD monitor.

3. Use “blank screen” as a screen saver option.

4. If your computer allows power setting control (all laptops usually do), then change power settings to “turn monitor off” after 2-5 minutes. These setting are usually accessible somewhere around screen saver settings.

5. Right click on your desktop or background, go to properties>appearance tab>advanced. Now select “window” in the list and select a light gray color instead of white. Play around with schemes, use your creativity.

6. Refer to the article

7. But be careful while printing because you are not printing what you see. At such times, you can easily revert back to default scheme from display settings.

8. Reduce brightness settings, increase contrast settings.

OK, So what’s the big deal?

If you look at statistics below, you will see that it can actually be a big deal.

The USA has almost 574 personal computers per thousand population, among the highest in the world. Barring a few exceptions, each personal computer has a monitor with it. So for 292 million population, @574 per 1000, we have 177 million monitors.

Just following one or two of the above tips above, you can easily reduce your monitor’s average consumption by around 20 W. If 177 million people save 15W per monitor, it accumulates to a gigantic figure of 3500 Mega Watts, or 3.5 GigaWatts.

If you saved 3.5 Gigawatts, you just shut down four coal fired power plants in Texas, namely Gibbons creek (1 X 480 MW), Welsh (3 X 558 MW), Sandow (3 X 121, 1 X 591 MW) and Oklaunion (1 X 720 MW). That means almost 5.25 million lb CO2 emissions avoided PER HOUR. Yes, I checked my calculations twice.

This savings can be realized on your CRT monitor, not a single penny out of your pocket. A perfect conservation. If you switch to LCD, you save a lot more.

And while the environmentalists within you are drooling over the idea of closing down coal fired power plants, do not forget these additional benefits.

* If you are not saving this energy, then what is happening to it? It is getting converted to bright light and is going in your eyes. Our eyes are not designed to stare at bright white thing from 2 feet close, 8 hrs a day, whole life. They deserve a break.

With my new monitor settings, I find my eyes much more comfortable at the end of the day.

* Amory Lovins (www.rmi.org) once said “Any attempt to make the car lighter by 1 lb actually ends up in making the car lighter by 1 and half lb”. Because when you reduce body weight, you can use lighter chassis, then you need lighter suspensions and so on. Similarly any attempts to reduce monitor consumption by 100 watts actually end up saving overall 110 watts (figuratively speaking). Because to show you something on monitor, computer processor has to do work, hard disks need to be spun, video card must be fired up and fan must run faster to cool these things down. When monitor is off, all these things can take it a bit easy by a watt here and a watts there.

* Just for fun I calculated how much money I would save if I saved 15 Watts for 6 hours every day. Turns out that @ 12 cents KWH rate, I would be saving around $4.85 per year. OK, you cannot buy Lexus with this saving. But hey, at the end of the day, where would you rather put extra 5$? In Your pocket or in your utility provider’s pocket?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Al Gore on Live Earth: Live Webcast on July 5 with Simran Sethi

The Live Earth countdown is in its final days (the concerts are this Saturday, July 7), but before Madonna performs her new song or Spinal Tap and the rest of the headliners inspire headbanging and other consciousness-raising behavior on all seven continents, Al Gore wants to talk global warming with you. In an exclusive webcast at 1:30 pm Eastern time on July 5 (that's this Thursday!) moderated by TreeHugger's green media maven, Simran Sethi, Gore will answer reader-submitted questions about the climate crisis. 'Whether you have questions on how to make your home more green or how to make small, yet effective, changes to your daily routine, Gore will offer simple tips and tricks you can start using immediately.' Go to liveearth.msn.com to learn more, including how to submit your burning questions, and stay tuned for the results on Thursday.

Al Gore on Live Earth: Live Webcast on July 5 with Simran Sethi (TreeHugger)