Posts Tagged green economy

Purple is the New Green When it Comes to Shopping

Online shopping: I know I couldn’t live without it.  It’s one of the most convenient tools the Internet has to offer.  Every search engine or guide plugs that they make it the easiest, fastest or have the largest selection available

Now that green shopping has become the norm, I came across, Thepurplebook Green: An Eco-friendly Online Shopping Guide.  Born from the annually published series, thepurplebook, Thepurplebook Green focuses on the web’s finest eco-friendly businesses.  For those who still enjoy snuggling up with a book to do research instead of going to the computer, this guide (made from recycled paper, of course) is for you.  Some of the many green entities you can research are: fashion, food, home improvement, furnishings, garden supply, personal necessities and gifts. There are over 400 earth-friendly retailers featured in the book.  For neophytes and green gurus alike, the opening few chapters offer simple, non-life altering advice to green-ify your life.

This book can also help guide you to make your promises

 

 

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Unfortunate Events Turn Cities Green

Headquartered in California, Global Green USA is the offshoot company of Green Cross International  which was “created by President Mikhail S. Gorbachev to foster a global value shift toward a sustainable and secure future by reconnecting humanity with the environment.”  While the international segment’s agenda focuses on innovative methods to resolve the world’s environmental crises, the American sector spotlights the creation of green building and cities. 

One of the various pioneering programs Global Green USA is proud to be a part of is Rebuilding New Orleans. The 2005 aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was horrific.  The government’s initial apathetic response to this catastrophic event drove Global Green USA to help rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.  Brad Pitt, after visiting the Lower 9th Ward section of New Orleans, knew he had to aid this desperate community and its people.  He work(ed) with Global Green to sponsor an architecture competition aimed at generating ideas about how to rebuild sustainably.”  It was important that the focus of this reconstruction didn’t alter the integrity of the district’s soul.  He wanted to “Make it Right” and Pitt was able to initiate this by collaborating with a team that would focus on bettering the pre and post-Katrina environmental conditions.    Experts in green architecture and sustainable redevelopment specialists are working together to get as many of the Lower 9th Ward district population back to their neighborhood.   Willingly, Brad Pitt continues his charitable eco-mission of rebuilding New Orleans.  Let’s hope these large scale environmental rebuilding efforts continue.  

 

 

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Green Your Eating And Cooking Habits

We are a society that over-consumes in every sense of the word.  We buy unnecessarily and if you just look around, we eat unnecessarily as well. We have been taught (and somewhat scared) into dieting, using artificial products to add to our foods, and forced to read food labels.  Much of the cuisines we consume or at least have consumed over the past years are filled with toxins.  The process of how food is grown and manufactured has drastically altared.  This has transformed our country into an unhealthy cesspool.  It is important, then, to stay healthy in today’s climate of uncertainty. “We can no longer afford to put health care reform on hold,”  President Barack Obama told Congress.  With the rising cost of healthcare, becoming sick is simply not a financial option.  Both eating well and saving money, then, are crucial.

Below are some healthy, green eating and cooking ideas that can easily be put into your daily schedule and may even save you a few bucks!

·         Grow herbs and vegetables at home ….either in your outdoor garden or on your window sill.  It will be a small investment, but will save you tons in the end.  Be sure to plant the organic seeds (or purchase a small potted organic herb plant); this way you know from the start it is pesticide free.

 

·         Ban the high fructose corn syrup.  This is where reading labels are vital.  This sticky sweetener is found in the obvious sodas, juices and many cereals.  Go to your cabinet and check out the myriad of products that have this toxic sweetener. D Life  explains that it’s a highly purified blend of sugars (typically 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose) derived from corn. Because the fructose in HFCS is part of a manmade blend (as opposed to the natural compound of sugars found in fruit), the body metabolizes it very differently from other sugars.”  If this scientific explanation isn’t enough to change your refined sugar habits, then hopefully the announcement of mercury found samples of high fructose corn syrup will drive you to toss your packaged food out.  The Washington Post article warns, Mercury is toxic in all its forms. Given how much high-fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered.”

 

·         Sugar alternatives.  When Christopher Columbus brought sugar to America, it was, yes, filled with calories, but contained protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals.  Ah, but then the processing of the sugarcane changed dramatically.  A few centuries later, the sugar business needed to revamp their processing methods to get more bang for their buck.  The essential nutrients were then stripped away in a process that produced what we know today as refined sugars.  Basically, a product with loads of calories and no nutritional value. Thus, the root cause for health problems.  Then, there came the birth of artificial sweeteners (aspartame, saccharin) filled with synthetic chemicals. Instead, try agave nectar as it has a lower glycemic index.  Agave nectar is a great economic alternative to other sweeteners since it has approximately “1.4 x the sweetening power of white sugar and, agave nectar’s mild flavor doesn’t vary widely which will lend a real consistency to recipes.” Also try Stevia as an additive to smoothies, yogurts, coffees and teas.  It is not recommended, though, for baking.  Keep in mind that most sugar producers practice unfair labor. Although purchasing the organic, fair-trade brands may empty your wallet, at least you know you are supporting a worthy cause.

 

·         Fish and mercury levels.  Yes, fish and shellfish are part of a healthy diet.  Yes, they are low in saturated fat, and full of nutrients, but then there is the mercury element.  It is said that all fish have traces of mercury, but certain types have larger amounts that the public need to be made aware of; especially pregnant women and children.  Visit, Environmental Working Group  for a list of fish containing high levels of mercury.

 

·         Need to thaw?  Do so in the fridge in lieu of running hot water over the food.  This obviously will save water and will allow the food to thaw more evenly.

 

·         Cook in advance.  If saving time and money are priority, then use (or altar) recipes that call for dry legumes.  Allow them to soak overnight in the fridge.  If you make enough in advance, you can put into smaller containers in the freezer.  Although the canned versions are mighty convenient, some are known to have Bisphenol-A (BPA) an endocrine disruptor in the linings of the cans.

 

·         Cooking is not just for ovens/stoves.  I’m not suggesting cooking in the microwave either!  How many times do you throw a sweet potato in the oven?  Smaller portions can easily be cooked in a toaster oven and it uses much less energy, thus saving money on your electric bill.  Slow cookers are also a big hit and try plug-in kettles in place of the tea kettle heating up on the stove.

 

·         To keep the microwave clean in order to maximize its performance.  Maximizing energy means less energy used; thus saving money on electric bill.

 

·         To cover pots when cooking when possible. This allows you to cook quicker so that you use less energy.

 

For more eco-changes, visit Earth Promise  and partake in the changes that will help you live a more healthy, green lifestyle.

 

 

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Water Rationing Is Not Just For Californians

California’s third year of drought is cause for alarm.  Reservoirs are low even though there have been large amounts of snow from storms lately.

NPR’s, Morning Edition  announced, ”California has declared a statewide water emergency in the face of a punishing three-year drought. It could result in some drastic conservation measures and water rationing over the coming months, stretching from California’s farm belt to major coastal cities like Los Angeles.”

Also the Sacramento Bee  has an eye-opening article how the lack of water is causing a detrimental trickle effect; the “thirsty farms”, the dwindling number of fish in the estuary, and lack of jobs is real and frightening.  The amount of produce the country relies on California for is staggering.  Some farmers will buy water on the open market to keep orchards alive”  Purchase water?  Is this what our over-indulgent country has deteriorated to?  This is an enormous wake-up call for our country to take action now.

Make promises to help our precious Earth.  Here are a few of the countless suggestions from Earth Promise that everyone can do that will make a big difference: 

·         To take shorter showers.  Every two minutes you cut down on your shower can conserve more than 10 gallons of water.  This will not only save you time, but money on your water bill.

·         To run only full loads in the dishwasher. By running the dishwasher when it is not full, you will do so more often, thus using more electricity.

·         To not pre-rinse dishes if possible before putting them in the dishwasher.  If you do need to give them a rinse, don’t allow the water to run. 

·         To turn off the tap while brushing my teeth.

·         To flush one less time per day (obviously picking the right time not to).  By doing this, you can save up to 5 gallons per day.

·         To plug the drain in the tub before turning on the water instead of waiting for it to get warm.

·         To use drip irrigation or soaker hoses in my garden and/or flower bed instead of regular sprinklers which will use less water.

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Revive the Victory Garden

The other day I was helping my nine year old study for her Social Studies test.  The topic: World War II focusing on food rationing and Victory Gardens.  How appropriate in today’s atmosphere of uncertainty.

Originally, Victory Gardens were vegetable, fruit and herb gardens planted in private residences during World War I and II to primarily ease the demands on the public food supply brought on by the war.  But these gardens were also morale boosters.  What a perfect tradition to revive!  We thirst for some sort of spirit enhancer and Eat the View , a people-powered campaign to start a victory-type garden on the White House premises does just this. The idea behind the White House Victory Garden is to grow organic produce for the White House kitchen as well as for local food pantries.  Some believe this is simply a symbolic move if the Obama’s favorably decide to adopt the Victory Garden concept; but it’s functional, too. “Through the process of growing your own food, you reap the benefits of better health through tastier, more nutrient-packed fruits and vegetables, a more physically fit body, and, quite possibly, improved psychological well-being, something that money can’t buy.  Assuming you don’t live on a toxic waste dump, your food will potentially be safer.  It can be economical.  And, when you grow it yourself, you gain an appreciation for what the true value of food really is.”

So why not undertake “Victory” home garden?  Start small with some herbs.  If you’re more adventurous, find a local spot in your community where everyone can take part. Here are some great tips to keep in mind that will not only save you money, but will allow you to conserve food (by growing your own) and natural resources. You can be part of the solution by keeping America’s food supply safe, healthy, nutritious, and local:

 

·          To create a compost in my backyard.

·          To use drip irrigation or soaker hoses in my garden and/or flower bed instead of regular sprinklers which will use less water.

·          To buy natural pesticides for my garden as opposed to using chemical pesticides.

·         To use mulch in the garden to conserve water.

·         If your green thumb isn’t cooperating, be sure to buy food from a local farmer’s market instead of the supermarket when possible.

 

What a symbolic and real statement President and First Lady Obama can make:  eat locally and healthy. The Victory Garden will address the issues that affect us all from global warming, environmental ruin, and economic crises.

 

To make and keep track of your Earth Promise’s, visit www.earthpromise.com/login.cgi

 

 

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Look Towards the Sun

Solar energy is hot—literally. Today, increasingly more people are becoming fascinated by the savings renewable energy can offer.  And savings is a hopeful word in today’s economic turmoil.  So, what is solar energy exactly? Wikipedia  puts it simply, “Solar Energy is the radiant light and heat from the Sun that has been harnessed by humans since ancient times using a range of ever-evolving technologies. Solar radiation along with secondary solar resources such as wind and wave power, hydroelectricity and biomass account for most of the available renewable energy on Earth. Only a minuscule fraction of the available solar energy is used.” Thanks to President Obama, that small fraction is slowing growing.

Governor Charlie Crist was present yesterday to unveil the installation of Florida Atlantic University’s (FAU) first large-scale solar roof. This will harvest Florida’s sunlight abundance into useful energy. The initial up-front investment was indeed costly, but the monetary benefits combined with the decrease in the usage of our natural resources is immeasurable. There is little or no maintenance with solar panels. “More than 230 solar panels were installed on the roof, producing energy that will help reduce the building’s current demand and prevent greenhouse gas emissions.” To read more about this energy saving investment, visit, The Business Journal

So what kinds of energy conservation and efficiency can you do now on a smaller scale for your home? Here are some suggestions:

 Those interested in purchasing and installing large-scale solar panels or other sun-plugged products, here are some useful sites:

SolarHome.org  offers “great deals on everything from panels and batteries to chargers and lights – all powered by the energy of the sun.”

RealGoods.com not only educates on the benefits of installing solar products, but offers an array of merchandise.

Solar energy may be one of the most important sources of energy we have.  Make a promise to utilize our ever-present renewable resource.

Join Earth Promise to make, and keep track of your personal promises.

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Green Vehicle Tips

In one of the many industries that is struggling to survive today, car manufacturers are scrambling to boost the fuel efficiency of their models in the hopes to broaden appeal.  If you are (one of the few) in the market to purchase a new car, MSN.autos provides a thorough listing of America’s Greenest cars of 2009.  From the Honda Civic GX, which is natural gas powered, to the well known hybrid,Toyota Prius; there are various automobiles to choose from in the comprehensive list. Buying a hybrid or more fuel efficient car releases less smog and fewer green house gases compared to the average automobile.  You can also save more than 20 gallons of gas per month as opposed to the average vehicle. 

 

In today’s economic turmoil, buying a car may not be your main concern.  What can you do to help lessen your carbon footprint?  Try to make your car more fuel efficient.  Below are some easy ideas you can implement:

·         To check the air filter in my car each month as regular maintenance of your car will help it run more efficiently thus saving money over the year.

·         To keep the window of my car closed when I am driving on the highway and use the air conditioner or heater instead.  Driving at high speeds with open windows can decrease efficiency of the car as it has to work harder and will consume more fuel. 

·         To keep my car tuned up. A car tune-up can improve its efficiency up to 50%.  This will extend the life of your car, decrease fuel consumption, and save money of gas as well as car repairs. 

·         To use antifreeze for my car made from propylene glycol and avoid conventional types which are higher in toxins.

·         To drive around the speed limit.  Improve your car’s efficiency by slowing down.  This can amount to 2%per mile reduced when you are driving over 65mph.  By simply driving 55mph verses 65mph, you will use about 15% less fuel.

 

Visit Earth Promise and see how your vehicle changes can make an enormous impact.  

Join Earth Promise to make, and keep track of your personal promises

 

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