Saturday, June 14, 2008

The only green network on television...

Click here to see the first completely Green Television Network

Known as 'Planet Green' this wonderful network is full of amazing shows that educate and entertain all people...

For those enthusiasts of shows like 'Flip This House' or home shows there are green versions of them on this network. There is Greenovate and Renovation Nation. Both shows take the viewer through how to create houses or renovate houses in an ecological fashion. Stars like Leonardo DiCaprio and the Adrian Grenier from 'Entourage' have shows on this channel as well.

Ed Begley Jr. has is own reality tv show on this channel as well.

The amazing thing about this network is that it is educating and showing people how sustainable and workable a green lifestyle is.

This network is brought to you by Discovery.

-Post by Jessica L.


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Biofuels and Food Supply

This is a good video I found on youtube.com about how biofuels are affecting the worlds food supply. With the production of Ethanol coming from crops like sugar and corn it has shifted the value or price of these crops to that of a gasoline or oil rather than a food source. Take a look and decide for your self.



Angela Logan-Connolly

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Sugar Ethanol

I found it interesting to learn that Ethanol made from sugarcane is more sustainable to produce than that made from corn. About half of the world (excluding the US) are producing Ethanol from sugar or sugar byproducts, and have yielded higher profits by doing so than by using corn. So why isn’t the US following suite? In 2006, the USDA submitted a report stating that it would be economically beneficial to produce Ethanol from sugar cane or sugar beets. This is a good article that covers some of the facts and concerns surrounding the issue.

http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/pub/sep06/ethanol.htm

Angela Logan-Connolly

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Solar Power

With our country’s current condition it is important for us to start thinking about alternative energy sources as the main staple for our energy supply. Solar power is one option for an alternative energy supply. There are a few good sites with information pertaining to solar energy: http://www.solarelectricpower.org/, http://www.solarelectricpower.org/, http://www.bp.com/subsection.do?categoryId=9013380&contentId=7026147

Solar power options not only cut back on our carbon footprints but also have the ability to turn free sunshine into valuable power. I believe that it is important to start the discussion process on how to shift our power trends to more sustainable forms than we are currently using.

Angela Logan-Connolly

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Pacific Power's Blue Sky Program

Here in Portland most of our electricity is provided by Pacific Power and I thought it was worth mentioning their Blue Sky program which gives the consumer an alternative to the standard electricity. The Blue Sky program allows the consumers the option of purchasing renewable energy for their homes for as little as $1.95 extra each month. Pacific Power also has an option for those who generate their own power (off the grid) to sell their excess to the company. I think that Pacific Power is on the right track with this program and I hope that they will work toward making renewable energy a priority and offer more incentives for their customers to choose this option.

For more information on Pacific Power’s Blue Sky Program you can visit: http://www.pacificpower.net/Homepage/Homepage58962.html

Angela Logan-Connolly

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Energy Myths and truths

“Energy myths and truths” … PGE, August 2006

Nice succinct article that debunks some of the myths of energy saving behaviors.

Among the ways to actually save energy are …

ALWAYS turn incandescent lights off but it’s OK to leave CFL’s on if they are going to be used within 15 minutes.
ALWAYS lower the thermostat night. In terms of setting daytime temperature, it takes the same amount of time to raise temperature to 70 whether the thermostat is set to 70 or 90 degrees so setting it higher in hopes of getting to 70 faster is pointless. Same holds true in reverse for air-conditioning.
CFL’s provide the same pleasing quality of light as incandescents. They are very different from the flickering and distracting ones that have been used for years in offices.
It takes the same overall amount of energy to boil water from cold or hot tap water since energy has already been expended in heating the tap water.
As with incandescent lights, turning a computer off uses less energy than leaving it on. It’s a misconception that the on-off action uses more. The new “sleep” features on some computers saves a lot of energy.
Finally, hot water in ice cube trays actually freezes faster than cold because it losses about 25% to evaporation!

http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/pf/20010223c.asp

~LA Blair

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Energy and the Environment"

“The environment: Myths and Facts” by Max Schulz, 2007

In this article, Schulz states that the public currently seems to believe that only solar and wind power are both truly renewable and environmentally friendly whereas coal and oil lead to pollutants and carbon emissions. He takes the position that there are many misconceptions here and that the use of coal and oil is less damaging that generally thought. He cites some facts that may lessen the perceived negative impact of coal and oil. Included among these suggested facts are that “clean coal technology” is constantly improving, that there are increasing government regulations in terms of emissions and that the current Alaska pipeline has caused much less ecological damage than conservationalist foretold. This latter item addresses the current resistance to further drilling in Alaska. Schulz states that the benefits in terms of added domestic oil far outweigh the perceived negative consequences.

http://www.manhattan-institute.org/energymyths/myth13.htm

He also argues that even Al Gore in “An Inconvenient Truth” stated that 30% of carbon emissions come from wood fires in un- or under-developed countries. Further to this, Schulz cites Iain Murray of The Competive Enterprise Institute. Murray speculates from that if more clean coal-burning power plants were used in these countries there would be an actual reduction in carbon emissions. There is no hard evidence of this at this time.

It was interesting to read a different point of view in terms of the degree to which carbon emissions from coal and oil negatively impact our environment and their relative merit vis a vis the “big picture”.

http://www.manhattan-institute.org/energymyths/myth13.htm

~LA Blair

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Corporate sustainability

Curious about a corporate take on ecology & economy? Here's an article from Sun Systems and PG&E about a collaborative effort towards ecological and economical solutions in California. This not only benefits corporations, but trickles down to the consumer as well:

http://www.sun.com/emrkt/boardroom/newsletter/1006leadingvision.html

~ Jason Oliver


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One more thing. . .

Earlier I posted a link to the Oregon version of 'onething'...looks like Connecticut is getting in on the action too! What's your "one thing"?

onethingct.org

~ Jason Oliver


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Down the Drain!

“Down the drain”

I found this article in the May/June 2006 issue of Waste Management World. Pat Franklin nailed the hype, myths, and ramifications of the global phenomenon of bottled water. The US consumes the most closely followed by Mexico, China, Brazil, Italy and Germany. In the US, we drink 70 million bottles of water/day, throw 60 million empties/day into landfills or incinerators, recycle a few then most of the rest end up clogging our streams, winding their way down rivers and ultimately finding rest floating somewhere in the ocean or on some distant shore. It’s a national disgrace and a perfect example of profit making, consumer gullability and apathy towards the environmental costs of the “new age” twist on the age-old water of life.

A few points … In many places, including the US and Europe there are more regulations for tap than bottled water. Dasani which IS filtered tap water costs up to 4000 times more than home filtered water … and up to 10,000 times more than regular tap water!!! The individual bears the initial financial costs but the environmental pays a far higher price. The costs come mainly from manufacturing, transportation and disposal of the bottles but the water extraction process in the manufacturing communities puts severe strains on the ecosystem.

Some ways to stem this tide … educate consumers that tap water is safe or even safer than the bottled version, that there is a terrible environmental impact and then give financial incentives to dispose of the empties responsibly. Statistics both in the US and Sweden show that refundable deposits work. US States with Soda Bottle and Can Deposit Laws recycle 75% of those bottles and cans. Sweden recycles 80% of all aluminum cans and plastic bottles.

This is one of the many examples where manufacturers, retailers, advertisers, consumers, politicians, and lobbyists must come together before the price bankrupts both our bank accounts and our environment

To read more click here!
http://www.container-recycling.org/mediafold/newsarticles/plastic/2006/5-WMW-DownDrain.htm

~LA Blair

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Just the facts!

“Just the facts” by William Stolzenburg.

I came across this interesting article on ecology in the Winter 2003 Nature Conservancy Magazine. It was basically trying to straighten out some of the muddling of facts, myths and misunderstandings that go on in media reporting, books and articles. He stresses that it’s important to get the facts right so that we have a decent chance of preserving our Earth.

We’ve “hi-jacked” the NATURAL course of extinction in that by mid-century as many as 50% of all species will be lost. This would be the FASTEST species destruction in Earth’s history! With our oceans, it’s a case of too many nets have led to too few fish. This commercial over-fishing has caused declining spawning populations and a case where there may not always be “another fish in the sea”. The delicate marine balance has been upset with resulting dwindling of much of ocean life including coral reefs, big fish, whales and seabirds. In terms of our forests, there’s a return to native wisdom that not all fires are bad. Naturally occurring or managed wildfires are essential to thriving ecosystems. However, not any of us want them in our own back yards!

Some of the uncontestable facts of Global Warming are … the Inupiat Eskimoes hunt on ever thinning ice, and their houses are sinking into the permafrost … tides are rising … scientists bleakly predict the extinction of Polar bears within a century … and the 5 – 9 degree warming that took 18.000 years to bring the world out of the last Ice Age is likely to happen in the next 100.

The good news, however, is that in 1992 178 countries (sadly not the US) signed the Convention of Biological Diversity … and for Londoners in particular the Thames is once again teeming with fish and even an occasional dolphin!

Click here to read more!

http://www.nature.org/magazine/winter2003/resources/art11521.html

~LA Blair

Ecorazzi Mixes Environment With Celebrity Gossip

It truly seems like there is nothing on this world wide web of ours that somebody hasn't thought of already. To wit: take Ecorazzi.com, the site that mixes green living with celebrity gossip. The tagline itself--"the latest in green gossip"--says it all. Want to know what contributions 'famous people'--actors, musicians, etc. are making in the way of green living? I guess this is the place to go. The site seems to include more, and if you've got a moment, take a look around. This colorful, easy-on-the-eyes, well-organized design, ensures that finding your way around should be nothing short of a breeze (those who love celebrity gossip and environmental issues, may find this unexpected blending of topics a fun experience as well).

Feature: Obama Avoids the Pump By Riding a Bike (photos included)

-al

Thursday, June 12, 2008

GfK Roper's Green Gauge

Eighty-seven percent of consumers are seriously concerned about the environment, according to the 2007 GfK Roper Green Gauge. Here is the breakdown of consumer categories based on GfK Roper Green Gauge:

GfK Roper’s survey segmented respondents on their green attitudes and actions and identified five groups:

Apathetics: Not concerned enough about the environment to take action and believe environmental indifference is the mainstream. This group represents just 18 percent of the population. TV programs are their main source of environmental information.

Grousers: Generally uninvolved and disinterested in green issues; believe individual behavior cannot improve environment. 15 percent of the population. Newspapers again serve as their major information source on green issues.

Sprouts: Environmental “fence sitters” who buy green only if it meets their needs representing just over one quarter (26 percent) of the population. One third cite newspapers as their main source of green information.

Green Back Greens: Do not have time to be completely green and not likely to give up comfort and convenience for the environment, but willing to buy green products. They represent 10 percent of the population. Nearly half (49 percent) get information on green issues from newspapers.

True Blue Greens: Environmental leaders and activists most likely to walk the green talk representing almost one third (30 percent) of the population. Nearly half (48 percent) turn to environmental groups as their main source of green information.

Jihae Lim



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Recycling Myths

A brief look into a few of those recycling myths still circling around, brought directly to you from our friends at the University of Oregon. It's quick, simple and gets right down to the nitty gritty!! It unravels such myths as "only white paper is recyclable"and, my personal favorite myth, "it's okay to throw something away as long as its biodegradable" ..

So go ahead.. Unravel the rest of these myths!!
You're just one click away!

http://www.uoregon.edu/~recycle/Factoids_myths_text.htm

~LA Blair

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Get green living tips sent straight to your inbox

In our demanding, fast-paced world, is green living really realistic? 'Course not. Adopting a 'green lifestyle' just takes too much precious time and effort. What, spend your day building a compost bin and miss all your favorite reality shows? Why would anyone walk those agonizing extra ten steps to put the cardboard in the curbie when it's so much easier to just shove that sucker in with the rest of the garbage under the sink? And who could argue with the fact that saving energy is just plain lame? Recycling, conserving water, 'green living'... have you ever heard of anything less cool or what?

If Ideal Bite could speak, it'd probably say "what" (and flip you the bird in the process). "Easy eco-living tips are delivered in a short, sassy email each weekday." Now, who never liked a little sass? Apparently now even trial lawyers can engage in environmentally healthy habits via quick and simple eco-friendly tips sent directly to their inbox.

So what are you waiting for? Oh, your next issue of Guns & Ammo. Too bad you're too chicken to click on this link. (Sign-up is free.)

-a

Earn money while you help the environment

Ecojobs.com compiles a list of environmental career opportunities. The site is very easy to navigate; jobs can be browsed by category or by state. Job titles range from Outdoor Science Instructor to Environmental Sampling Technician. Each state's page further provides links to other state-respective organizations or sites that may assist you in finding that environmental job you've always dreamed of.

Ecojobs also includes a newsletter and lets employers post ads (albeit for a fee). Job-seekers, however, may view the listings free of charge.

-aL

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Benefits and How To's of Composting

Over the weekend my roommates and I decided we were going to give this whole composting thing a try.. A few short,unproductive hours later, it slowly leaked out that none of us had the faintest clue as to where we should begin.. Thus our journey for answers began and I am here to share a little of the information we uncovered with you, beginning with an awesome site I found at wisegeek.com summarizing the benefits of composting.

This website discusses the benefits to your soil including the improved drainage and moisture absorption, and the greater supply of nutritional supplements available for your greenery. Furthermore, compost helps to clean up contaminated soil by reducing toxic runoffs. And, as an added bonus, it helps to prevent erosion!

There are also economic advantages enticing us to roll up our sleeves and dirty up our hands, including the money you will save from not having to purchase artificial soils. Also, as mentioned on this site, it decreases the amount of fertilizer, pesticide, and water necessary for growing strong, healthy plants, leaving a little extra money in your pocket!!

I can only skim the surface of all the information packed into the wisegeek website. Please refer to the link below for more information!

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-the-benefits-of-compost.htm

I also came across this great video that the Sierra Club created offering step-by-step instructions on creating a compost pile. Another simple way for us to play our part in protecting the planet!





~LA Blair



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Ecotone: A Literary Journal

Readers and writers alike may be interested in Ecotone, a literary journal concerned with nature, environment, and ecosystems. According to their website,
Ecotone is a literary journal of place that seeks to publish creative work about the environment and the natural world while avoiding the hushed tones and clich├ęs of much of so-called nature writing. In the natural world an ecotone is a landscape where two separate ecosytems overlap, a place of danger and opportunity for animals. As we try to reimagine a new literature of place, our journal embraces literary ecotones, writing that breaks across genres and seeks out edges. These edges—between science and literature, the urban and rural, the personal and biological—are places that are alive and electric, as well as new and dangerous.
Visit Ecotone here.

-AL

"Monopoly Goes Green?"

The other day, after much-too-easily dropping over $300 on books, I stumbled across this blog entry on Amazon.com. Have a good look if you love a good board game. Sounds perfect for an LDS Family Home Evening.

Monopoly Goes Green?

-AML

Road Trip Tips: Checking your gas cap could save you money

Watching a 9-11 documentary on NGC last week, I happened to catch this short snippet. Check it out.



-AML

Monday, June 9, 2008

Oregon Country Fair


Now that we’re all done with our academics (and it’s been a long hard road), if you’re near Eugene on the 11th to the 13th of July, you might want to go out to the Oregon Country Fair in Veneta. It’s not like it was in the late 70’s and early 80’s because of the more authoritarian nature of government. However, at the fair you’ll meet a lot of beautiful people who know what sustainability is, see new energy inventions, hear great music, and feel at home with the whole world. They don’t sell tickets at the fair site so please buy them a day in advance at the usual outlets: Tickets West or something. We are always inundated with bad news and discouragement, but at the fair I always feel refreshed and have a new motivation and will to help the world in whatever small way I can. Some people think the fair has compromised, but really they are continuing their good work and energy as well as one can with government, local codes, and whatever. In community development I learned about great things people accomplished through churches and schools—mostly because they were the only social organizations available—and the same thing with the fair. Freedom was the mantra at the fair from the beginning and I believe it is still there. It can seem crowded but they expanded it some with a great big meadow with children playing and all kinds of fascinating happenings. I’m going to try to go on Saturday, they have the old rock band of the sixties “It’s a Beautiful Day” playing at the main stage. If I go alone to the fair, I just park in Veneta and ride my bicycle the few miles to the site—and save 5 dollars for parking. Please don’t imagine I’m commercially promoting the fair; I have nothing to do with it, only recognize it’s inspirational value.

David



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American Water & Energy Savers

The goal of our site is to promote economic solutions to ecological problems and this website,
http://www.americanwater.com/index.html?cargando=%5Btype+Function%5D&hiloPrecarga=1, provides a lot of good ways that people can cut back on their water consumption, which will ultimately lead to savings in water bills as well as conserving one of the world’s most precious resources.

This site provides tips that can be used to conserve water inside and outside your home, as well as suggestions on appliances that can assist in saving money and water. One example of such an appliance is the Flapperless toilet, which does not use a chain or floating device to allow flushing. This new kind of toilet is less susceptible to the problems that come with flapper toilets whose parts are submerged in water and can rust and break. This is just one example of the “economic solutions” that this site gives to the ecological problem of preserving the world’s water supply.
Angela Logan-Connolly

Energy Star Program

I believe that this program is pretty well known, however I have recently looked a little deeper into the program and think that it is worthy of sharing. The Energy Star Program is one that offers tax rebates or credits for the purchase of new appliances that are energy efficient. Not only will these new appliances save the consumer money on their monthly electricity or water bills, but will provide the consumer with federal tax credits that will ultimately lower the amount of tax they owe at the end of the year or increase the amount of tax refund they receive after filing their taxes.

For more information about this program or the appliances that qualify for the tax credits you can visit: http://www.energystar.gov/.

Angela Logan-Connolly

Energy Efficient Windows

Many new home buyers, as well as home owners in the market to make improvements to their homes, are looking for new ways to save money on their every day expenses. One of the ways they can achieve this is by installing energy efficient windows in their homes. These windows have the ability to keep the heat inside the house in the winter and can keep it out in the warmer months.

This website provides really good information about the technology as well as design and installation of energy efficient windows. The good thing about this site is that it is not operated by the window industry, and therefore provides seemingly unbiased information on the subject.

http://www.efficientwindows.org/energycosts.cfm

Angela Logan-Connolly

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Green Vehicles

We all know the benefits of driving alternative fuel source vehicles for the environment but how many people consider the ways in which their car was built. The process in which a car is built can be very harmful to the environment. Today many car manufacturers are taking steps to help with not only what we fuel are cars with but how they build cars.

Ford Motor Company is changing the way in which they paint vehicles.

"In addition to reduced CO2 emissions, the new technology reduces volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions by about 10 percent. We estimate we can save approximately $7 per vehicle by cutting the time it takes to paint a vehicle by almost 20 percent as well as reducing the size of the traditional paint shop by nearly 15 percent."

Ford is currently testing this new technology with U-Haul to ensure it has the durability that consumers need.

Ford has also begun using sustainable products in the interiors of some of their vehicles and say they hope to expand the application to all vehicles in the future.

"The 2008 Ford Escape uses seating surfaces made from 100 percent post-industrial materials, supplied by InterfaceFABRIC, Inc. InterfaceFABRIC estimates that Ford's use of post-industrial materials, rather than virgin fibers, could conserve an estimated 600,000 gallons of water, an estimated 1.8 million pounds of carbon dioxide equivalents, and the equivalent of more than 7 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually."

Nissan has also started the Nissan Green Program 2010. Not only does this program set goals for cleaner emissions but also promotes the 3 R's (Reduce, Recycle and Reuse)


http://www.ford.com/our-values/environment/corporate-sustainability

http://www.nissan-global.com/EN/ENVIRONMENT/GREENPROGRAM_2010/index.html

Jeremiah





Fly Green with Expedia

Many of us today wonder how we can do our part to improve sustainability and support our environment. We tend to think first of our cars not only what we drive but how often we drive. However rarely do we consider the impact of our vacations that place us on board aircraft that play a large role in effecting our environment as a single cross country flight can release as much as 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per passenger.

While there is little we can do to avoid having to fly, Expedia has partnered with TerraPass to provide an inexpensive option to travellers who want to do their part to protect the environment and promote sustainability. It is essentially a donation to the company TerraPass who uses the money to offset the carbon footprint of the flights. Three options are available of $5.99, $16.99 and $29.99 that all come with a small gift. But the real gift is knowing that you are doing your part to protect the environment.

Many people wonder just where there money goes and here are some example provided by Expedia:

"Clean energy-TerraPass helps fund wind farms, which generate virtually carbon-free electricity, unlike conventional energy sources such as coal and natural gas.

Farm power-Help farmers capture methane, a powerful global warming gas. TerraPass supports anaerobic digesters which can destroy methane or use it to create clean energy.

Landfill gas capture-As trash buried in landfills decomposes, it releases methane into the atmosphere. Your money supports projects that capture that methane, destroying it or turning it into clean energy. "

Expedia also provides some tips that you can utilize on every vacation to help protect the environment:

1. Reduce excess baggage. Every pound counts.
2. Combine trips to save money and time.
3. Fly direct. Multi-leg trips pollute more.
4. Vacation near your home.
5. Stay at a hotel near the airport.
6. Take a shuttle, bus, or train to the airport.
7. Fly coach. You’ll save and it’s more efficient.
8. Rent a small or hybrid vehicle.

Jeremiah

Recycling Your Old Phone

"Give your old wireless phone new meaning with T-Mobile's Handset Recycling Program. The program promotes the recycling and reuse of old wireless devices that might otherwise end up in landfills or incinerators--and 100% of the net proceeds from handset recycling now benefit the charitable efforts of the T-Mobile Huddle Up program."

Another company doing their part to protect our environment and promote sustainability is wireless provider T-Mobile. T-Mobile is making it easy for consumers to recycle their old wireless phones by allowing to drop them off at any T-Mobile Retail Location or allowing them to print a pre-paid envelope off their website at:

http://www.tmobile.com/Company/Community.aspx?tp=Abt_Tab_HandsetRecycling

This is a vital part of sustaining our environment as thousands of phones and other electronic devices end up in land fills everyday. T-Mobile has partnered with EPA to ensure proper recycling of electronic products with their Plug-In to eCycling Campaign.

"T-Mobile has partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to participate in its Plug-In to eCycling Campaign . The campaign, “Recycling Your Phone, It’s an Easy Call,” is one of many new efforts under the EPA's Resource Conservation Challenge which seeks to increase the national recycling rate to 35 percent, among other goals. The campaign aims to get the word out about opportunities to reuse and recycle your old computers, TVs, and cell phones, and to build momentum for even more reuse and recycling programs."

Jeremiah

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Sustainability Institute Website: www.sustainer.org

The Sustainability Institute, is the organization behind the website www.sustainer.org, and was founded by Donella Meadows in 1981. Meadows was a respected scientist and author, and was one of the pioneers of the sustainability movement. She co-authored a book in 1972 called The Limits to Growth with the message that the world economy could not continue to grow without severe environmental strains and eventual social collapse. This was a message she carried on into various projects throughout her lifetime including one that I found particularly interesting. She created Cobb Hill; an Ecovillage near Hartland, Vermont. This “village” is structured as a cohousing community in which families live in individual homes that are solar-powered, and eco-friendly. Not only are the individual homes eco-friendly, the community engages in activities together such as fitness classes, dinners, gardening, etc. Rather than just preach sustainability, Meadows wanted to show that a sustainable community was not only possible, but ideal. Cobb Hill was self-sustaining in many ways, and some residents make their living at the community’s organic gardens, orchards, dairy farm and maple sugar business. This is also the location of the Sustainability Institute, the organization that created this website.

The website itself is informational in nature. It is best summed up on its homepage in the welcome message: “We focus on understanding the root causes of unsustainable behavior in complex systems to help restructure systems and shift mindsets that will help move human society toward sustainability.” This is a great resource for this project as well, as we are focused on changing the minds of the public, and creating a solid basis for sustainable thinking.

The content of the site is separated into: Projects, Services, Tools & Resources, and Links. Each area is well written and organized, and the language is both logical and easy to understand. The Institute uses real live situations where they examine specific issues, and start from an analysis of how these issues came to be, and breaks down where changes need to be made to change the root of these problems. This is different from many of the other websites focused on sustainability that I’ve reviewed, in that they are more reactive in nature, and usually only address the problem in a way that focuses more on the symptoms and how to resolve them rather than starting from the root of the issue to determine how it came to be. This is a wonderful approach that I feel is effective and can really make a difference in the shift towards a sustainable future.

Check it out:
http://www.sustainer.org/

Jihae Lim

Green Living - Fun Facts

Understanding Your Impacts

Everyday we are using resources and producing waste. We put a preat deal of strain on the earth, so it is important for all of us to understand our impacts and learn what we can do to live more eco-friendly lives. The average American household consumes over 100,000 gallons of water and generates over 22 tons of carbod dioxide every year. The United States is responsible for 21 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, yet we have less than 5 percent of the world’s population. We can and must adopt a more eco-friendly way of living if we are to have a promising future.

A Thirsty Nation

In the last few years, global warming has received all of the press. But shortages of fresh water are arguably the greater near-term environmental threat in many corners of the globe. In the Western United States, major die-offs of salmon have been attributed to too little clean water flowing downstream after cities and farms pulled out their allotments. In Australia, as much as 25 percent of farmland may soon be degraded due to water-related problems. And, many predict that future wars in the Mid East are as likely to be about water as they are to be about religion or energy.

Environmental Impacts of Excessive Water Use.

Fresh water is at present a somewhat local commodity. Unlike some of the other environmental impacts we discuss on this website, such as petroleum use or global warming, water use in the United States primarily affects U.S. residents (except for some limited overlaps with Mexico and Canada). This could easily change – the only thing that prevents the shipment of water over much larger distances is its weight and relatively low cost today compared to other commodities. And, in almost all other regions in the world, water supply issues are increasingly of international concern.

Polluted Runoff

Polluted runoff is a major problem throughout the United States and the rest of the world. Whenever it rains, a toxic soup of chemicals and bacteria flows out of our cities and fields and into our waterways. Eventually, these pollutants can lead to the poisoning of aquatic wildlife or the creation of vast dead zones where there isn’t enough oxygen for marine life to survive. And, our beaches and rivers can be unsafe for swimming and other recreational activities due to high bacteria levels and other toxins.

1. Capture and Reuse Stormwater for Irrigation.
2. Reduce Paved Surfaces.
3. Plant Trees that Grow over Paved Surfaces or Rooftops.
4. Practice Good Housekeeping.
5. Clean up After your Pets.
6. Reduce use of Toxic Pesticides and Herbicides.
7. Use Lower-Strength Organic Fertilizers.

Susan Keen - Portland State University

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Recycle Your Toothbrush

Even though toothbrushes are small, they can add up at the dump. In fact, about 50 million pounds of toothbrushes are tossed into American’s landfills each year and if we all listened to our dentist and replaced them every three months, there would be even more.

The solution, recyclable toothbrushes that are designed by dentists and are made from used Stoneyfield yogurt cups. When the toothbrush has reached the end of its life, you just throw it in your blue recycle bin or send it back to Recycline in a postage-paid envelope that the company sends with the toothbrush. It will then likely be reborn again as raw material for a picnic table, deck, boardwalk or other durable long-lasting product.

Stonyfield Farm

Another solution is the replaceable head toothbrush, you retain the plastic handle part of the toothbrush and replace the head (bristles). Then you have toothbrushes that aren’t even made of plastic at all. Radius is a new line of toothbrushes that are made of naturally occurring cellulose derived from sustainable yield forests. For those who are stuck on their mass market toothbrush, the online retail website “Toothbrush Express” offers a toothbrush recycling program similar to Recycline’s. And for the rest who just don’t know what to do with their old toothbrushes, make them into a kids bracelet. A few minutes in boiling water and the handle can mold into any shape you please.

http://environment.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?zi=1/XJ&sdn=environment&cdn=newsissues&tm=471&gps=347_242_1387_861&f=11&su=p504.1.336.ip_&tt=2&bt=1&bts=1&zu=http%3A//www.recycline.com/

http://environment.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?zi=1/XJ&sdn=environment&cdn=newsissues&tm=1224&gps=377_496_1387_861&f=11&su=p504.1.336.ip_&tt=2&bt=1&bts=1&zu=http%3A//www.eco-dent.com/

http://www.radiustoothbrush.com/

http://environment.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?zi=1/XJ&sdn=environment&cdn=newsissues&tm=1371&gps=38_781_1387_861&f=11&su=p504.1.336.ip_&tt=2&bt=1&bts=1&zu=http%3A//www.toothbrushexpress.com/


Leslie Boser

10 Simple Things Anyone Can Do To Reduce Global Warming

You can help to reduce the demand for fossil fuels, which in turn reduces global warming, by using energy more wisely. Here are 10 simple actions you can take to help reduce global warming.

1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Do your part to reduce waste by choosing reusable products instead of disposables. Buying products with minimal packaging (including the economy size when that makes sense for you) will help to reduce waste. And whenever you can, recycle paper, plastic, newspaper, glass and aluminum cans. If there isn't a recycling program at your workplace, school, or in your community, ask about starting one. By recycling half of your household waste, you can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide annually.

2. Use Less Heat and Air Conditioning

Adding insulation to your walls and attic, and installing weather stripping or caulking around doors and windows can lower your heating costs more than 25 percent, by reducing the amount of energy you need to heat and cool your home.

Turn down the heat while you’re sleeping at night or away during the day, and keep temperatures moderate at all times. Setting your thermostat just 2 degrees lower in winter and higher in summer could save about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide each year.

3. Change a Light Bulb

Wherever practical, replace regular light bulbs with compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. Replacing just one 60-watt incandescent light bulb with a CFL will save you $30 over the life of the bulb. CFLs also last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs, use two-thirds less energy, and give off 70 percent less heat.

If every U.S. family replaced one regular light bulb with a CFL, it would eliminate 90 billion pounds of greenhouse gases, the same as taking 7.5 million cars off the road.

4. Drive Less and Drive Smart

Less driving means fewer emissions. Besides saving gasoline, walking and biking are great forms of exercise. Explore your community’s mass transit system, and check out options for carpooling to work or school.

When you do drive, make sure your car is running efficiently. For example, keeping your tires properly inflated can improve your gas mileage by more than 3 percent. Every gallon of gas you save not only helps your budget, it also keeps 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

5. Buy Energy-Efficient Products

When it's time to buy a new car, choose one that offers good gas mileage. Home appliances now come in a range of energy-efficient models, and compact florescent bulbs are designed to provide more natural-looking light while using far less energy than standard light bulbs.

Avoid products that come with excess packaging, especially molded plastic and other packaging that can't be recycled. If you reduce your household garbage by 10 percent, you can save 1,200 pounds of carbon dioxide annually.

6. Use Less Hot Water

Set your water heater at 120 degrees to save energy, and wrap it in an insulating blanket if it is more than 5 years old. Buy low-flow showerheads to save hot water and about 350 pounds of carbon dioxide yearly. Wash your clothes in warm or cold water to reduce your use of hot water and the energy required to produce it. That change alone can save at least 500 pounds of carbon dioxide annually in most households. Use the energy-saving settings on your dishwasher and let the dishes air-dry.

7. Use the "Off" Switch

Save electricity and reduce global warming by turning off lights when you leave a room, and using only as much light as you need. And remember to turn off your television, video player, stereo and computer when you're not using them.

It's also a good idea to turn off the water when you're not using it. While brushing your teeth, shampooing the dog or washing your car, turn off the water until you actually need it for rinsing. You'll reduce your water bill and help to conserve a vital resource.

8. Plant a Tree

If you have the means to plant a tree, start digging. During photosynthesis, trees and other plants absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. They are an integral part of the natural atmospheric exchange cycle here on Earth, but there are too few of them to fully counter the increases in carbon dioxide caused by automobile traffic, manufacturing and other human activities. A single tree will absorb approximately one ton of carbon dioxide during its lifetime.

9. Get a Report Card from Your Utility Company

Many utility companies provide free home energy audits to help consumers identify areas in their homes that may not be energy efficient. In addition, many utility companies offer rebate programs to help pay for the cost of energy-efficient upgrades.

10. Encourage Others to Conserve

Share information about recycling and energy conservation with your friends, neighbors and co-workers, and take opportunities to encourage public officials to establish programs and policies that are good for the environment.

These 10 steps will take you a long way toward reducing your energy use and your monthly budget. And less energy use means less dependence

Leslie Boser

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Saving The Planet One PB&J at a Time

Who knew making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich could save the planet? I’m sure most of us have pondered what can I do to help the environment? I’m here to say you can start with a simple pb & j sandwich for lunch. Eating a plant-based meal (such as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, bean burrito, veggie chili, or even a nice green salad), by doing this you will not only be saving water and preserving land, you will also be slowing global warming. Here is how you are saving the planet by eating plant-based meals:

“Every time you eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or other plant-based meal instead of one that features red meat, such as a hamburger, you save the equivalent of almost 3.5 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions. Eating a strictly plant-based meal compared to the average American lunch still saves 2.5 pounds of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. That’s about 40 percent of the carbon you would save by driving a hybrid vehicle for the day instead of a standard sedan.”

It takes a lot less water to grow plants than it is to water animals. By eating at least three PB&J sandwiches a month, instead of eating a meat-based meals you can save as much water as you would by switching to a low-flow showerhead. The space needed to raise animals can be a lot more than needed for plants. By eating a plant-based meal, you are not only saving the land, but what is also put onto the land when animals are being raised on it. By eating plants instead of animals, it’s not just saving water, land, or slowing global warming; you’re helping to save the environment by consuming less resources.

Saving the planet one PB&J sandwich at a time. Again, who knew it could all start with lunch?


Leslie Boser

Why compost toilets are better then water-based toilets..

A composting toilet is any system that converts human waste into an organic compost and usable soil, through the natural breakdown of organic matter into its essential minerals.

The ecological toilet is one of today's most hope-filled expressions of people's power and people's science. These toilets—which celebrate Gandhian simplicity and ecological sensibility—recover and honor traditional practices of healing and agriculture, related arts of non-violent living.

In contrast, the abuse of water via flush toilets renders it toxic as well as globally scarce. More than 40 percent of the water available for domestic purposes is used for transporting shit.

Mixing three rich, marvelous substances—water, urine, and shit—turns them into a poisonous cocktail. At a very high cost we seek to separate them again with dangerous chemicals and exotic technologies in “treatment plants.” We reduce our sacred waters into chemically treated H2O that pollutes our bodies and soils and waters.


Read the rest of the article...

Or copy and paste http://www.yesmagazine.org/article.asp?ID=2102

Please check out the video from National Geographic. It shows that a composting toilet is a viable and sustainable system for major cities and companies.


-Posting by Jessica L.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Ecology Center and Recycling Plastics


The Ecology Center (EC) in Berkeley California was established in 1969 and launched a curbside recycling program way back in 1973. They still run it as a non-profit and the funds generated help with other community projects. This organization has supreme credibility in the field of recycling and we must agree with what they say: “The EC continues to be a place where people turn for reliable information about alternatives to harmful practices like pesticide overuse, for avenues to local policy makers and for connection with others concerned with environmental issues”.

The EC in 1995 decided to investigate adding plastics to the curbside recycling. Their comprehensive report found these interesting facts:

A link exists between the promotion of plastics recycling and an increase in production of virgin resin.

  • Plastic packaging production in recent years has outstripped plastic recycling by as much as a six to one-margin, and most of that production is from virgin materials.
  • Plastic packaging is not produced from petroleum waste, but from natural gas that could be used otherwise or not extracted at all.
  • Although all plastic containers bear the recyclable symbol, most are not recyclable.
  • Picking up plastics at curbside costs about $800 of taxpayer money or more per ton.
  • Much of the plastic collected for recycling is shipped overseas, and processed under, at best, dubious conditions.
  • Many of the products made from the plastic resin that is being recycled are not themselves recyclable, making the "recycling" only temporary diversion from landfill.

The Plastics Industries (who are great polluters) very much like promoting the idea of recyclable plastics yet it has no comparison to say, recycling paper. At best curbside plastic can be re-used once and then it goes to the landfill; or it is sent overseas “under, at best, dubious conditions”. We (myself included) have always thought that plastic was made from the leftovers of a barrel of crude oil after gasoline production, but this is not true. The answer is “pre-cycling” and here are EC’s suggestions:

a) using refillable containers; b) buying in bulk; c) selecting products that use little or no packaging, and d) choosing packaging materials that can be recycled and are made from recycled materials such as glass, metal, and paper. Holding companies accountable for the material they sell by legislatively demanding recycled content also has been shown to work on the city, state, and national levels.

Click here for an informative quiz with answers

Fran, David

Do You Smell French Fries?

Who knew that one day vegetable oil would be replacing gasoline. It can easily be done, all you need is a vehicle that runs on diesel and used vegetable oil that is filtered. Obtaining used vegetable can be as simple as going to your local burger joint and asking if you can have their used oil, most places are happy to give you their oil.





Leslie Boser

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Buy Locally!

There’s nothing better than buying something locally grown, it’s fresh and you’re supporting local farmers. Locally grown fruits and vegetables are usually sold within 24 hours of being harvested, which is definitely beneficial. From field to fork, an average dinner travels 1500 miles or can take up to two weeks before he reaches store shelves. When buying locally money stays within your community, 90 cents of every dollar spent goes directly to the farmer versus 21 cents. Not only will farmers and buyers both benefit when you buy local, but you’re preserving the environment and the community you live within.

http://www.localharvest.org/buylocal.jsp


Leslie Boser