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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Save Money & Save the Environment

Who knew there are countless ways we can increase energy efficiency in our homes while at the same time saving precious dollars. While researching this topic I found “A Consumer Guide to Buying Energy Efficient Products for the Home” published by The Consumer Federation of America. This document and website is dedicated to promoting awareness and information about how we can make more environmentally friendly purchases for our homes that ultimately saves money. There is an excellent list of the different ways people can become involved with community outreach in their respective locations to support energy efficiency. If you are interested in different ways to save money while providing your home with energy efficient products, check out this site.

http://www.buyenergyefficient.org

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http://sites.google.com/site/ecomerge2008/

Sustainable Life

The mission of this website is to provide “Information, Products & Services to help you find ways to live a Healthier, more Socially & Environmentally Sustainable Life.” There is so much information here that it would take readers several sessions to absorb its content. This site is full of new and innovative products that make it easier for each of us to “go green.” At the top of the homepage is an alphabetical list of headings for just about any environmental topic you could think of including transportation, water, energy and many more. This is a must see.
Check it out!!

http://www.sustlife.com/index.htm

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http://sites.google.com/site/ecomerge2008/

Friday, November 30, 2007

Fashion Forward

With Christmas shopping in full swing why not go green?
Check it out.........http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20071121/lf_nm_life/fashion_environment_dc
and stay warm while saving the world...........https://www.nau.com/homepage/index.jsp
Justine Aylward
ecomerge

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http://sites.google.com/site/ecomerge2008/

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Venture Capitalists: Financing the Energy Revolution

The articles below discuss how venture capitalists are actively pursuing and pouring millions of dollars into companies that are new, and frequently have more outgoing than incoming money. Included in the links below is one discussing Al Gore’s new job with a well-known venture capitalist company. In part he states his reasons for taking this job is in hopes of bringing “…cash to companies that are aiming to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.”
This is very interesting reading…check it out for yourself
VENTURE CAPITALISTS
http://www.theage.com.au/news/business/green-energy-the-new-it-for-venture-capitalists/2006/06/29/1151174331860.html
US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT
http://www.usnews.com/articles/business/economy/2007/10/26/power-revolution.html
AL GORE IN A NEW JOB
http://money.cnn.com/2007/11/11/news/newsmakers/gore_kleiner.fortune/

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Real Christmas Tree vs Artificial Christmas Tree?

I have always bought a real Christmas tree. I love them. I love the way they smell and look. However I always feel bad in January when you see the dried up trees next to the trash cans. So I was at Target looking at these big expensive artificial trees (and they are pricey if you want one that actually resembles a tree) and thought, "These can't be any better for the environment than cutting down the real thing, they are all plastic." And indeed they are made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride) which turns out is horrible for the environment and for our health! So if you need a Christmas tree (like me, I LOVE Christmas) then please look to buy one from a local farmer. You can also rent a living one for a little bit more money.
http://www.grist.org/advice/ask/2004/12/08/umbra-tree/
http://www.livingchristmastrees.org/rentatree.html
http://www.greenpeace.org/international/campaigns/toxics/polyvinyl-chloride
http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/pvc/index.htm

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http://sites.google.com/site/ecomerge2008/

Eliminate Your Junk Mail And Help The Environment!

Everyday your name is being sold to random companies wanting to send you advertisements about their services and products. You may casually glance through a portion of it, and there is the rare usable coupon, but most of it ends up in the recycle bin or even the trash! The average person receives about 41 pounds of junk mail every year. Seeing as most advertisers don’t use post-consumer products, millions of trees are cut down every year to produce your junk mail. After the trees are cut, energy and water are wasted to turn it into paper, pumping tons of CO2 into the air. Finally, millions of tax-dollars are wasted delivering it all. The worst part is, junk mail is an irritation!


www.41pounds.org is an organization that will contact most of your junk mail companies and reduce it by 80-95% for 5 years helping you to help the environment!

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http://sites.google.com/site/ecomerge2008/

Thirty Gas Saving Tips

This web page is excellent as it contains several different ways we can all save gasoline. It's amazing how simple ideas can go a long way toward saving fuel. Many of these tips are new to me and they really make sense. For example, tip #9 tells readers that "traveling at fast rates in low gears can consume up to 45% more fuel than needed." Sometimes we don't realize that simple behaviors we think are of no consequence can be adding to environmental degradation. At the bottom of this article there are "Related Articles" that are definitely worth reading and include even more ways of saving gas, while also saving a little money in the process.
Check it out!! http://www.howtoadvice.com/SavingGas

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http://sites.google.com/site/ecomerge2008/

Vaxjo, Sweden Goes Green: Pioneers in European Movement

Vaxjo, Sweden is described as a wooded area in a region of southern Sweden. The city with its 78,000 residents sits on the shores of Lake Helga surrounded by a thick pine forest. The people of Vaxjo decided that there was a lot they could do about global warming at the local level and they have done just that! In 1996 they decided to wean themselves off of fossil fuels; a doable, but very long-term goal. Residents of Vaxjo are saving money by buying green cars that run on biofuels; these cars are allowed to park free anywhere in the city. Additionally, the city saves money by running one-fifth of the city’s fleet on bio-gas produced at the local sewage treatment plant. Vaxjo has become a focal point for politicians, scientists, and business leaders from as far as the United States and North Korea-all seeking insight and encouragement from the exciting results of Vaxjo's city programs.
Vaxjo and its residents are involved and invested in more energy and money saving projects-to read about them please check out the articles below-

http://coventrygreenparty.blogspot.com/2007_06_01_archive.html
Scroll down to the second blog 'Swedish Sustainability' and click on all the links

Additionally, try this blog for even more information about Vaxjo's successful programs
http://coventrygreenparty.blogspot.com/search/label/energy

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http://sites.google.com/site/ecomerge2008/

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Stop Eating Meat and Save the World

Vegetarianism is a viable solution to global warming and one that is often over looked. Even Al Gore fails to discuss it in "An Inconvenient Truth". It is important to talk about if we're truly searching for ways to curb the horrible future that could lie ahead if nothing is done about global warming. It think it is hard to talk about because people love to eat meat. They love it as much as they love to drive their huge SUVs, but that is still being discussed on a very mainstream basis. Here are some statistics that are hard to ignore......
  • "the animals we eat emit 21% of all the carbon dioxide that can be attributed to human activity" (http://www.physorg.com/news4998.html)
  • "In a groundbreaking 2006 report, the United Nations (U.N.) said that raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined." (http://www.goveg.com/environment-globalwarming.asp)
  • "animal agriculture accounts for 9% of our carbon dioxide emissions, it emits 37% of our methane, and a whopping 65% of our nitrous oxide" (http://www.commondreams.org/views07/0120-20.htm)
There is also the shipping and storage of meat to think of, not to mention the enormous land use. 30% of this world's land is dedicated to raising animals for food. Then they also need land to raise the food to feed the animals. Most of the Amazon rain forests are being cut to make room for livestock. Then the cows and pigs and chickens, etc. also need water. An average cow drinks 8-12 gallons of water per day. So just as fossil fuels are dwindling, so is clean water (but that is another blog...)

So what can you do?......

One website recommends trying to go vegetarian for one month and see how it goes. There are many good and tasty alternatives to meat. It is easy to find these meatless meats at Whole Foods, Wild Oats and even your more conventional super markets. You could take a vegetarian cooking class. There are also many good sources for recipes online such as http://vegweb.com/. So even if you can't pass up Thanksgiving dinner this year, it could always be a new and helpful New Year's resolution.


Justine Aylward
Ecomerge

Visit our website:

http://sites.google.com/site/ecomerge2008/

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Weatherization Program is a Winner: Energy Efficient Homes Reduces Monthly bills for Low-Income Families

Imagine the cold rain pelting against your window while you are sitting in your nice warm living-room; imagine not being able to turn up the heat because most of it leaks out underneath the door, or through leaky windows while running up a high energy bill. The Department of Energy has a website for one of the government’s longest running programs-the Weatherization Assistance Program for low income families. This website describes the program, the guidelines, the technologies used in weatherization and much, much more!! Those who qualify are provided services that reduce their energy bills by making their homes energy efficient. This website demonstrates an easy way to apply for weatherization and explains how the process works. This is also a terrific way to financially stimulate communities by increasing the spending power of its residents, improving the housing quality in the local area, and by making jobs available in the home improvement trade. If you think you may qualify, or if you just want to see how one of this country’s perhaps most successful energy efficiency programs work- use the website below – Check it out and see for yourself… http://www.eere.energy.gov/weatherization/

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Energy Savers-Solutions; Money Saving Ideas for almost Everyone

It seems that no matter where you turn today there is new information about how we can help save the world’s energy supply and our hard earned money. The Department of Energy has condensed some of their advice, recommendations, and tips into a few websites that has something for almost everyone; easy ways for individuals, families, and even large building owners to save. Below are links to websites that integrate the already known ways with fresh ideas…Check out each one to see if there is something in there for you!

For Consumer Tips on how to save energy and money in your home go to:
http://www1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/tips/
For ‘Energy Star’ products, a home advisor for customized recommendations, a superior step by step guideline for energy management, and much more just go to this website http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=home.index
For a ‘Do-It-Yourself’ home energy saver and money saving energy audit, plus a great deal more go to: http://hes.lbl.gov/
On this wonderful site are energy solutions that start right at Home, on to Retail Buildings, Schools and finally all the way up to addressing technologies and green building practices for High Performance Buildings. To see if this website fits your needs go to: http://www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/info/energysolutions.html
Check Them Out!!

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http://sites.google.com/site/ecomerge2008/

TO BUY OR NOT TO BUY?

I have been thinking a lot lately about buying a new laptop. My computer is only 2 years old in human years, but I think that converts to 18 in computer years. I am frustrated that there isn't just some chip I can buy to make my computer faster and better, instead I have to buy another one (granted: a laptop would be nice!). I still have the even slower computer from 5 years ago collecting dust in the closet. So despite the physical waste factor there is involved with technology, there is also the manufacturing waste factor. "Manufacturing a single MP3 player releases about 17 pounds of planet-warming carbon dioxide into the atmosphere." (Wall Street Journal) So who is at blame for all this waste? Is it US companies that hire Chinese manufacturers? Or is it China who’s primary source of energy is still coal? This is going to be a major point of contention at United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali on December 14th, 2007. Stay tuned.
Justine Aylward
Ecomerge

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http://sites.google.com/site/ecomerge2008/

  • Info on the conference:
    http://unfccc.int/meetings/cop_13/items/4049.php
  • Info on coal (very interesting!):
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/11/business/worldbusiness/11chinacoal.html?ex=1307678400en=e9ac1f6255a24fd8ei=5088partner=rssnytemc=rss

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Eco-efficient Food - $ave Money While $aving the Environment

Most of us realize how businesses and corporations are wasting precious resources. I recently came across an excellent document produced by the UNEP Working Group for Cleaner Production that details different ways businesses can save money while reducing waste. Imagine that! These are win-win solutions that are so easy it makes one wonder why these practices are not required. While this particular article is directed at food service industries, some of these tips can be utilized by virtually any business and/or home. At the end of the document there are case studies of different business that outline their eco-friendly practices including an estimate of the money saved in a one year period. After the testimonials there is a list of "usefull resources and contacts." Check it out!! http://www.p2pays.org/ref/40/39472.pdf

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Even Small Improvements in Fuel Efficiency can Help

Often it seems that the opposite sides of the global warming argument must be mutually exclusive. However everyone likes to save money; furthermore, if it just so happens that small changes in lifestyle, behavior, etc. fatten our bank accounts while helping to save the environment, we can all relish the win-win.
By now everyone knows that the combustion of gasoline produces carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. The U.S. Department of Energy’s website www.fueleconomy.gov has a multitude of information about how to save money and potentially help the environment simultaneously through practical transportation practices.
The link: www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/savemoney.shtml through this website demonstrates the monetary savings induced by fuel efficiency with an interactive fuel savings calculator. It is a great way to compare the amount of money that may be spent by vehicles with differing miles per gallon ratings or just to get an idea of your current vehicle’s fuel costs.
Not sure you alone can make a difference to the environment through gasoline conservation and fuel efficiency? www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/contentIncludes/co2_inc.htm explains how a gallon of gas can produce 20 pounds of carbon dioxide!

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Everything you ever wanted to know about "Green" living

Driving sustainability, save the trees, climate protection; how can I/you make a difference? This site lists many avenues to pursue in an effort to live a green life and help our planet. Many, many people would like to be part of the green revolution but do not know how to begin. The sites listed on the ~green is universal page~offer ideas and places to explore. You are invited to explore.

http://www.greenisuniversal.com/resources.php?__source=GGLCAMP018NBCU_Green_GenericADGP007RecycleKWRD015recycling+facts&sky=GGLCAMP018NBCU_Green_GenericADGP007RecycleKWRD015recycling+facts

Please visit our website:

http://sites.google.com/site/ecomerge2008/

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A New Take on Global Warming

"Global Warming is fundamentally an energy problem and it can not be regulated away."

Recently I heard Michael Shellenberger speak on the radio. Last year he wrote an article with Ted Norhaus called "The Death of Environmentalism". Their approach is completely different from almost everyone I have read on the topic of global warming. Most people tend to feel overwhelmed and terrified by the problem. Recycling and riding the bus sometimes doesn't feel enough (nor is it), yet nobody wants to drastically change their lifestyles. Shellenberger suggests that if the government made a $200 billion dollar investment (we have already spent over $507 billion on the war on terror) in clean energy, it would then drive the price down. His approach is inspiring. He reminds us that we are strong, innovative and creative people. He offers a solution that seems doable. Please listen.......http://www.pdxcityclub.org/mp3/pdx11-02-07.mp3

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Let's Look at it in a New Way

"Global Warming is fundamently an energy problem and it can not be regulated away."

Recently I heard Michael Shellenberger speak on Friday Forum, a speaker event put on by City Club. I had no idea who he was. I soon found myself so inspired after being fearful for so long that due to global warming my son would live a hard and horrible life. He and Ted Nordhaus wrote an essay called "The Death of Environmentalism". Their thoughtful approach basically stems from 20 years of the same idea (regulating oil, coal, etc.) and very little results. Coal and oil just need to be a thing of the past entirely. They suggest that the world governments invest in clean energy. If the US invested $200 billion in solar panels then it would drive the price down. Generally after a massive public investment, private investors follow suit. It's hard for me to imagine $200 billion, but the government has already spent over $500 billion on the war on terror. Shellenberger's speech is, as I said earlier, inspiring. He calls on our strengths instead of our fears. He also reminds how inventive and creative we can be. Please listen to it.http://www.pdxcityclub.org/forums-events/friday-forums.php
Here is an interview he did with Willam Week http://wweek.com/editorial/3350/9845/

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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Peanut Butter and Jelly Our World

The "PB&J Campaign" website reminds us how the simplest of actions can go a long way toward sustainability. This site does an excellent job of showing us the connections between eating meat products and global warming, water conservation, deforestation, overgrazing, pesticides, fertilizers and animal welfare. By using the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a favorite food item, this campaign site conveys the message that you don't need to become a hardcore vegetarian to help the environment. They even offer alternatives to the pb&j, such as soups, burritos, and chili with statistics of how these foods reduce wasteful and harmful practices. The idea and layout is unique, creative and is very effective in the way it promotes reduction of meat products. Check it out!! www.pbjcampaign.org

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Newsletter Helps Environment with Money Saving Ideas

McMinnville, Oregon - In this rural community of fields and farms, set in exquisite natural beauty the people of McMinnville have found a way to let all who are interested in preserving the environment in on money saving ideas for the Home, Garden, Office and Kids. Included on the homepage is a Resource Guide that helps those in Yamhill County find local places to recycle, re-sell, or reuse their goods. In their Fall newsletter, and also on the website is an article on how to “Clean to Save Money and the Earth” which has recipes for making your own household cleaners...check this article out and more at www.ycsw.org

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Earth 911

While doing research I found an excellent website called "Earth 911: The Nation's Premier Environmental Resource." While there are numerous sites that relate to environmental protection, this one grabbed my attention. First, the home page layout is visually pleasing and not too crowded. Also, Earth colors (blue, green and brown) are utilized in a very attractive way to create a peaceful ambiance. These factors influenced the length of time I spent browsing. No one wants to navigate through a website only to get lost in a maze of information. There is a feature at the top of the home page that allows users to enter what type of item needs to be recycled and a home zip code, then it gives names and addresses of local sites to utilize. On the left side there's a column named "think Globally" with a list of different environmental subjects you can select. Then it offers several articles to read that includes excellent statistics, simple and economical ideas, and other useful information. If you want information pertaining to your own neighborhood, go down the left side where it says "act locally" and click on your state to get current informations on local programs. Overall this is one of the best sites I've found. Check it out at http://earth911.org/

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A little effort really can make a big impact- on your wallet!

One of my favorite publications is Real Simple magazine. Looking
through some old issues, I found some of their practical advice really
relates to our project, and can help us go green- environmentally and
financially!

In the March 2002 issue of Real Simple magazine, their tips section
suggests that we unplug large appliances, like televisions, when going
on vacation (find the blurb at: http://www.realsimple.com/realsimple/content/0,21770,689574,00.html).
This may sound silly, but even turned off, these appliances can still
consume up to 40 watts an hour when they're plugged in! If you went
away for a weekend vacation- leaving after work on Friday (5 pm), and
returning on Sunday night (8 pm), you could be using- and paying for-
204 watts of electricity for your television to just sit there. Now
imagine if you had 5 large appliances that you left plugged in and
turned off- you'd be paying for just over 1,000 watts of electricity,
not to mention the service charges that go with it. In other words,
unplug your appliances and save some dough for the souvenir stands!

Speaking of electric bills- and all the other pesky parcels that seem
to have a habit of popping up in our mail boxes, my trusty magazine
has another money saving tip, which can also help save paper! The
March 2006 issue says that the average household receives 15 bills per
month (Ouch!). However- there is a silver lining to this nasty little
cloud! If you use the internet or phone (or automatic billing) where
it's available, you could save some money to actually pay those bills!
With stamps now costing 41 cents in the USA, based on the average
household, you could save yourself $6.15 per month, which translates
to $73.80 per year!
If you live in the UK, and use Second Class postage on your 15 bills
(24p/letter), you could save £3.6, or £43.2 per year! Our Aussie mates
pay $.50 per letter, and 15 bills a month paid using a free
alternative would save you $7.50 per month, a whole $90 per year! My
exchange students from the Far East pay bills, too. Japanese postal
customers pay 60 yen per first class stamp. Our friends in the land of
the rising sun could save 900 yen per month, and that's 10,800 yen per
year! The article can be found at: (http://www.realsimple.com/realsimple/gallery/0,21863,1152145,00.html)

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Monday, November 5, 2007

Green trips from Asia

Around the world the message is the same. In Asia they are also addressing ways in which to help our earth. Many of the same adjustments and attitudes toward change abound in the website listed below. This is very pertinent to the United States, as it is in other parts of our same world. Check it out.
http://www.epd.gov.hk/epd/english/how_help/tips_savearth/green_tips.html

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

An Article Showing how an entire City 'Goes Green'

This article illustrates what can happen when an entire city chooses to support Green strategy.

http://www.newsweek.com/id/56565

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http://sites.google.com/site/ecomerge2008/

Welcome & Overview

Welcome to the EcoMerge official Blog site, the companion to the EcoMerge website in Google Pages. EcoMerge is an ongoing term-by-term project of the Multimedia Capstone class at Portland State University. Our Goal: To research and recommend ways to understand the relational balance between Ecology and Economy. Each term a different class will take on their own specific relevant topic and then work to spread word of the project to interested parties. In all cases the objective remains the same - to inspire individuals to understand and to take action.

For additional information or to make comments, see Rob Bremmer, Instructor, at: bremmer@pdx.edu