Saturday, February 25, 2017

BP and the Environment

How many of us remember the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico back in 2010? According to an article called, 5 years after the Gulf oil spill: What we do (and don't) know found on CNN's website,  there was roughly 4.2 million barrels of oil that spilled into the Gulf and BP was responsible for the majority of the spillage. Naturally, this had a devastating affect and people from all around the world were in an uproar. 

(Greenpeace ‘occupies’ gulf oil rig)

This was a major issue and just a few years later, BP withdrew from multi-million dollar green energy programs that focused on low carbon technology and green energy technology. This caused their public image to suffer. Fortunately, BP has made a slow effort to ameliorate those mistakes by putting forth more of an effort to show compassion for the environment. In so doing, they have implemented environmentally friendly tactics and shared many of their operations on their company website. For example, with regard to oil spills, BP has vowed to improve how they control, contain, and clean up oil spills, in the event that they should happen again. As noted on their webiste, they regularly conduct oil spill exercises in order to ensure that they have a positive response in the eventuality of another oil spill. Their website mentioned the use of in situo buring, which when done correctly, will reduce the amount of oil in the water and reduce the effects that the burning may have on the environment, because the burning is controlled. 

Clearly, BP has done a great job at taking slow steps towards becoming a more environmentally friendly oil and gas company. To find out more about BP's attempts to satisfy an eco-friendly future click here!

Save Energy, Save Money

Predicting how our choices today might affect the future can bring on a lot of anxiety.  But thinking about what kind of world we want for future generations is an important aspect of sustainability.  While sustainable decisions are important on a global scale, the choices we make on a personal level are just as important.

Personal decisions we can make regarding energy consumption is an important part of preserving our future.  Much of the energy we are using today is wasted, and finding ways to save it won’t even impact our day to day lives.  But even if you aren’t particularly interested in the sustainability of energy, you too can save with these energy saving tactics.

1.       Wear the right clothes for the climate
CC0 Public Domain

What is the temperature outside?  Is it winter or summer?  What are you wearing right now?  How hard is your home heating or cooling system working to keep you comfortable?  By wearing the right clothes for the climate, you could save hundreds of dollars a year in heating and cooling costs.  So layer-up in the winter, and strip down in the summer.

2.       Set the temperature of your clothes washer to warm, not hot.

Lots of people use hot water to wash their clothing.  For certain clothing, this is a necessary setting for care.  But make sure you are only washing clothes that require that temperature.  When you are doing laundry that is OK to wash cold, make sure to turn down that temperature setting.  The savings in your water heating bill will be worth it, and the CO2 savings will be worth it as well.

3.       Turn off, or replace, your lighting.
CC0 Public Domain

Did you know that about 10% of your electric bill is made up of lighting cost?  An easy way to save energy is to get in the habit of turning off the lights when you leave the room.  If you are already doing this, great!  The next step is to start replacing you lighting with high efficiency LED lights.  LED lighting will last years, and these days, look pretty much the same as any other light.

4.       Check your refrigerator.

Your refrigerator uses more energy than almost anything in your home.  It is really important to make sure is running efficiently.  Check the temperature and set it between 35 and 38 degrees.  Another way to make your refrigerator efficient is to check the rubber seal that runs around the door.  Fix any loose seals so that cool air stays in.

5.       Install a ceiling fan.
CC0 Public Domain

Air conditioning is a great invention for those hot summer nights.  But did you know that your air conditioner is probably running 4 degrees cooler than it needs to be?  By installing a ceiling fan, and circulating the cool air in your home, you can raise the temperature in the summer and you will never know the difference.

By implementing even a few of these simple suggestions, you can reduce your CO2 footprint, as well as your electric bill.  You will be saving the world while saving your money!


Friday, February 24, 2017

Meet our Winter 2017 partner, Green Empowerment!

Along with updating the EcoMerge blog, the PSU EcoMerge capstone students partner with a different community partner each term, and create a website for that partner. This term, that partner is Green Empowerment.

Image courtesy of Green Empowerment

Green Empowerment strives to “improve access to affordable and renewable energy, safe drinking water, sanitation systems, and fuel efficient cook stoves” in rural communities around the world. The organization believes that these four technologies of living are necessary for a safe, dependable, and disease free life. To improve access to these things, Green Empowerment takes a variety of actions such as installing solar power water pumps in villages and providing them with wind turbines to bring power to homes and communities.

Green Empowerment works to improve the lives in a number of countries including The Philippines, Nicaragua, Peru, Ecuador, Malaysian Borneo, and Myanmar. The organization provides opportunities to volunteer here and Portland, or even abroad. Volunteers can work in the Portland office and help with administrative tasks, or they travel to the countries that Green Empowerment supports for six to twelve months and help communities in need. Whether it’s close to home or overseas, any volunteer effort makes a huge impact and supports the hard work that Green Empowerment does.

Image courtesy of Green Empowerment

Check out Green Empowerment’s website here, and PSU EcoMerge’s website supporting Green Empowerment here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Natural Beauty

Eco-Friendly Makeup

Who would have thought that lotions, serums, mascaras and lipsticks could harmful to the air around us? With makeup being so universal and popular among men and women, one would think that beauty products aren't all that harmless. In actuality there are certain chemicals in beauty products that are harmful to the air around us. There are thousands of chemicals that are used to create beauty products and are not regulated by the government nor are they approved. Even though that is the case, beauty products are not going to be eliminated from everyday use anytime soon. It would be really difficult to avoid every synthetic chemical used in the products.

If you choose to use the products here are some chemicals to look out for:
    • Parabens
    • Synthetic Colors
    • Fragrance
    • Phthalates
    • Triclosan
    • Formaldehyde
    • Toluene
    • Propylene Glycol
    • Sunscreen Chemicals
    • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) / Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
Heres an article that goes in depth about the chemicals listed above:

Even though there are chemicals that should be avoided within beauty products there are other alternatives that are available for use. The solution being organic and natural beauty products. Eco friendly beauty products typically use organic formulas and are chemical free. Due to this, these products help make the air cleaner. The products are again eco friendly, uses natural fragrance, chemicals aren't as harsh, are nutrient-rich, and are gentler on the skin.

Below are are two videos of eco friendly advocating beauty gurus. Check it out! They can further tell you why natural beauty products are great and what natural products are out there!

1) Valerie Dapsis. Beauty guru who has a passion for natural, holistic, organic skincare, haircare, body care, makeup, nutrition, and home products.

2) Teri Miyahara, Founder of TERI MIYA HARA BEAUTY. Beauty guru dedicated to all-natural and cruelty-free living, not just for beauty products but for all aspects of lifestyle. 

Next time you use makeup think about the chemicals you are putting on your skin and in the air. So try an alternative and use natural and organic beauty products.