Wednesday, September 30, 2009
TODAY’s Natalie Morales talks to Sharon Lowe, founder of the Climate Quilt Campaign, about how kids are stepping up to help the environment.
Related: Seven Eco Friendly Homes That Float
Thursday, September 24, 2009
A new company in Washington D.C., Envion, believes it has come up with a way to efficiently convert waste plastic into fuel by using carefully controlled infra-red energy. The $5-million plant was unveiled this morning.
The process that Envion has created is still tightly under wraps, but the plant includes a chemical reactor with internal agitators for mixing the liquid and heating elements that deliver the necessary infra-red energy. Since the infra-red energy is easily controlled, the process is very efficient. The plant is able to convert 82 percent of the waste into fuel and the resulting sludge is usable too.
The liquid can be mixed with other components to become gasoline or diesel. Envion has already signed up one company to use their recycled oil as motor fuel and is negotiating contracts with others.The plant can recycle all types of plastic except for #1 PET. For each ton of waste the plant can produce three to five barrels of fuel, with each barrel costing about $10 to make
Go Green & Win FREE green cleaning supplies from ecover
By Adria Vasil, author of Ecoholic
Walk into a drugstore these days and you'd think every shampoo and body wash on shelves was plucked directly from the lushest patch of nature the world's ever seen. Sure they've got a little ylang ylang or aloe extract somewhere in there, but otherwise, their ingredients read like an advanced chemistry student's shopping list.
Truth is, the beauty industry is a bit of a Wild West with no sheriff in sight. Anyone can call a product "natural" even if a tube of lipstick is 100% synthetic. That means lotions and potions packaged with pretty green leaves on the front and the word "nature" or "herbal" in their name can and, unfortunately, often do contribute to your daily chemical bath. The average woman slathers over 125 chemicals onto her scalp, body, face, and lips each day (next time you're getting ready in the morning, scan ingredient lists and do your own count!).
That wouldn't be such a big deal if they were all cleared by health officials, but only 11% of the 10,500 chemical ingredients that go into personal care products are actually tested for safety.
Here are some quick tips for picking out the greenest goods for your body:
* Put on your reading glasses: Start flipping products over and reading those tiny ingredient lists. Making sense of what's on there shouldn't feel like you're trying to decode Sanskrit! Reach for beauty products with pronounceable ingredients (you can generally spot chemical names pretty easily though some natural ingredients might be written in Latin).
* Crack the certified organic code: Not all organic products are created equal. You'll find the USDA organic seal on goods that are at least 95% certified organic (the purest of the pure). If a product is 70-94% organic it will say "made with organic ingredients." And the rest? Well, keep in mind that plenty of beauty blends advertise two or three certified organic ingredients while the rest of their contents are totally synthetic.
* Look for the natural seal of approval: The Natural Products Association recently kicked off a new certification system for beauty products that are at least 95% natural. The seal doesn't signal the ingredients are in any way organic (i.e. farmed without pesticides), but it does tell you that a lip balm, eye shadow or foot cream is largely plant- or mineral-based.
* Know your score: Punch any product name into Environmental Working Group's ranking of tens of thousands of personal care products and you'll see just how it ranks on the group's safety scale. These guys cover everything from mascara to your man's after shave and cross check the ingredients against toxicity databases. At the click of a mouse, you'll get a good sense of which beauty concoctions are truly clean and green so you can start lathering up peacefully.
Bottom line, don't sink your dollar into just any products labeled "natural" or "organic" (even many health store brands aren't as pure as you'd think!). Ecoholic: Your Guide to the Most Environmentally Friendly Information, Products & Services takes the guesswork out of shopping by filling you in on all the purest and best performing eco beauty products on the market -- brand by brand.
Adria Vasil is the author of Ecoholic: Your Guide to the Most Environmentally Friendly Information, Products & Services. She is a best-selling author and journalist for Canada's NOW, where she has been writing the "Ecoholic" column for five years. She lives in Toronto. For more information please visit www.ecoholicnation.com.
You might also like: Green Your Refrigerator
Monday, September 21, 2009
Your fridge looms monstrous over the rest of your kitchen. If you think about it, the fridge is essentially a storage locker for the dead plants and animals that we like to eat. Spooky, right? The refrigerator needs to be kept nice and cold because dead things tend to decay fast. Fridges use up a lot of energy while making the coldness. You can do things to make your fridge more efficient. Here are five easy steps to make your refrigerator run more efficiently.
Cover your food. Your fridge's compressor has to work extra hard if there is moisture inside of it. By covering your food in Tupperware or with lids, you can reduce your refrigerator's carbon footprint.
Clean your compressor coils. Do this annually. Pull the fridge away from the walls. Unplug the fridge. You can simply vacuum the coils or give them a thorough wash.
Keep the correct temperature. I've read that anywhere from 35 F to 40 F is optimum run temperature for a fridge. The freezer should be set between 0 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit. I would consult your owner's manual to find what works best for your particular model.
Check your seal. Slam a piece of paper in the fridge door. If you can get the paper out without ripping it or opening the door, it may be time to replace your seal.
Move Your Fridge. Lots of houses are built with a fridge in mind. For those that aren't, you should keep your fridge away from direct sunlight. If it is in direct sunlight, move the thing to the dark side of the kitchen
You might also like the Easy Green Kitchen Makeover
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Gardening isn't just for people with lots of land. You can raise your own tasty crops in the smallest and oddest of containers. If you have access to some sun, plus time to water and care for seedlings, every little spot in the world is your garden.
About.com has tips for growing a head of lettuce in a Whole Foods reusable grocery bag. Typically, these bags are reused when you buy salad fixings at the store, but why not use them to raise fresh salad at home? Doesn't look that hard.
In fact, an entire Flickr group is devoted to Grow Bag Gardening. People around the country are growing potatoes in potato sacks, fertilizing plants in bags of fertilizer, and even raising crops in tin cans.
The container gardening site at Texas A&M also suggests using a cake pan as the site to grow green onions, radishes, or beets. What a great way to use an old pan that's scratched or warped or to use something found at the thrift store.
(Photo: britta and rebecca / Flickr)
Some people have flowers in a window planter. But the Window Farm Project takes it a step further and shows people how to turn an urban apartment window into a hydroponic farm.
All you need is some plastic water bottles (at last, a use for those things!), some netting, piping, and fishing wire. Hook it all together with a little water pump, and you can churn out a salad every week.
Maybe you want to take your garden on the go. Like the Truck Farm. It's a vehicle, it's a garden, it's a movie.
By loading the bed of an old grey Dodge up with organic compost and planting heirloom seeds, filmmakers at Wicked Delicate created a mobile garden in Brooklyn, NY. Check out the movie's trailer:
So where does your garden grow? What container is the vehicle for raising your fresh food? Share your ideas in the comments below.
For all the details about smuggling illicit cleaners, DIY green cleaning recipes and commercial green cleaning brands you can trust, check out Brian's interview.
Eco Friendly Modular Homes
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Here is the recipe i used for powder laundry detergent:
1 bar Fels Naptha bar soap (about 4 cups grated)
2 cups 20 Mule Team Borax
2 cups washing soda
Grate the soap and mix it with the borax and washing soda. Then seal in an air tight container.
For light load, use 1 tablespoon.
For heavy or heavily soiled load, use 2 tablespoons.
The estimated cost per load is about $0.08 which means you'll be saving a ton of money and helping the environment.
I also used 1/2 cup white vinegar in the rinse cycle in place of fabric softener.
Try it out and let me know how you liked it.
Other Ways to Launder Your Clothes The Green Way
DIY Green Cleaning Really Works
"Host Kahi Lee takes the Koo family living room to a whole new level and gives it a complete Green makeover according to their needs and goals.
Green Done Right presented by Scott Naturals is a web series focusing on making sustainable-living, budget-conscious design choices."
You might also like the Easy Green Kitchen Makeover