it's about how to save our planet from global warming.
Why?? cause not just ME stay in this planet there are YOU, THEM, OUR KIDS AND MANY BEAUTIFUL THING. so come on let's save OUR PLANET!!

Aug 31, 2009

Skin Therapy Products by Dia-Mar

Save With Green recently had the opportunity to sample Dia'Mar Essential Health Product's full line of Copper skin care and Silver formulated all-natural skin therapy products. Previously unaware of the effective uses of Silver and Copper peptide skin care products, we can now say that Save With Green has been properly schooled and are very grateful to have come across Dia'Mar's innovatively healthy and holistic products - not to mention getting to use their skin therapy products for an extended period of time so we could see the benefits firsthand!

First off, you may or may not already know that copper and silver both have many health benefits and a rich history in the medical field. Long used to fight off and kill a variety of pathogens and harmful bacteria, the medical use of Silver goes back thousands of years. Specifically, as early as 1900, Silver Nitrate - referred to as Argentum nitricum in modern day homeopathic cures - was prescribed by doctors to help cure stomach ulcers, and is often found in eye drops and homeopathic anti-anxiety medicines. Silver Water (which Dia'Mar offers on their website) is another popular and highly effective internal application of Silver thought to help mitigate cancer and kill dangerous bacteria. As for Copper, it has been used for its anti-inflammatory properties since Egyptian times. Helping the body produce super oxide dismutase - a therapeutic anti-inflammatory enzyme - Copper bracelets and copper jewelry continue to be worn today. Like Silver Water, it can also be internally taken as an ionic solution.

Copper and Silver make up the backbone of Dia'Mar's natural skin therapy products - and are essentially what helps make Dia'Mar such a unique company in the natural skin care industry. In addition to silver and copper, Dia-Mar uses whole leaf, cold pressed aloe in several of its natural skin therapy products. Being cold processed, there is no denaturing of naturally occurring enzymes, nor the breakdown of polysaccharides. And best of all, Dia'Mar's silver and copper skin care products are truly all-natural, being derived from naturally occurring amino acids (the building blocks of protein) and active ingredient extracts. Furthermore, they are free of parabens, animal-based products, artificial color, GMO, alcohol and artificial fragrance. In fact, there is no fragrance in their skin therapy products at all - something which we found very refreshing. Couple this with the refreshing, clean and rejuvenating feeling your skin will feel, and you'll be ready to write a glowing review yourself!

The full line of natural skin care products offered by Dia'Mar consists of five different skin creams and gels. Copper skin care products include "Copper Skin Therapy", "Copper Scar Cream", "Copper Sports Rub" and "2nd Debut" moisturizing cream. Silver skin care products include a comprehensive, all-in-one topical gel called "Silver Skin Therapy". All products are briefly discussed below:

Copper Skin Therapy - a comprehensive, fast absorbing topical gel designed to treat skin deeply while leaving it smooth and soft, Copper Skin Therapy is designed to help skin retain moisture while mitigating the effects of aging. Copper helps in repairing the skins outer layer by helping form bone hemoglobin and red blood cells. In combination with vitamin C and zinc, it also helps to form vital skin proteins - collagen and elastin. More specifically, it is small fragments of proteins (peptides) that bind to copper and take an active role in renewing skin cells, thereby helping to reduce wrinkles. Best of all, there is no skin irritation, which is often the case for other wrinkle-removing skin care products. Other active ingredients in Dia'Mar's copper peptide skin care include Sodium Hyaluronate for preserving skin moisture, and Allantoin for healing blemishes/acne and reducing fine lines. My wife especially enjoyed the fact that, due to the fast absorbent rate of copper skin therapy, makeup can be applied over it.

Silver Skin Therapy - With the intent of relieving, swelling, itching and healing skin irritations, allergic skin reactions, sun burns, rashes, minor cuts and burns, Silver Skin Therapy is an excellent remedial topical gel for sensitive and damaged skin prone to infection. The primary active ingredients are ionic silver, allantoin and aloe. Aloe has been medicinally used since ancient times and is even listed by the US Pharmacopoeia as a certified skin protectant. Containing at least six different antiseptic agents and three anti-inflammatory fatty acids, aloe helps to speed up the healing process while relieving discomfort. The addition of allantoin further helps promote healing, cell regeneration and softer, smoother skin. Staying true to its namesake, Dia'Mar's Silver Skin Therapy contains ionic silver for killing bacteria and viruses.

2nd Debut - Dia'Mar's signature anti-aging copper skin cream, 2nd Debut proved to be one of our favorite skin therapy products. Fast absorbing, scentless and free of any oily residue, 2nd Debut Copper skin cream is highly effective at giving a more youthful glow and repairing wrinkles and fine lines. Specifically, in combination with Vitamin C and Zinc, copper and wheat peptides (protein fragments) help to stimulate collagen formation, which helps firm the skin and diminish fine lines - the main focus of copper skin care products. The addition of rice bran oil, which is commonly used by Japanese women, helps smooth and soften the skin. Last but not least, allantoin, which is found in many anti-acne and clarifying lotions, helps heal blemishes and repair wrinkles.

Copper Scar Cream - Considering copper's vital role in repairing the skin's outer layer, it makes sense to use it for treating scars. In fact, Dia'Mar's Copper Scar Cream was developed under the guidance of a reconstructive surgeon. In combination with herb-infused aloe, rose hip seed oil, rosemary oil and lavender oil, Copper Scar Cream helps to smooth and blend scars with the surrounding skin, while reducing redness and inflammation. Other active ingredients include allantoin to promote cell regeneration, zinc and Vitamin C.

Copper Sports Rub - Truly one of the best all natural sports rubs available, Dia'Mar's Copper Sports Rub goes several steps further in relieving muscle stiffness and swelling than conventional sports rubs. Physician formulated, Copper Sports Rub contains camphor, menthol and Methysulfonylmethane (MSM). The use of camphor and menthol is common in many sports rubs. However, the addition of Copper and MSM, make this an exceptional sports rub. As we learned on Dia'Mar's website, Dia-mar.net, (the source for most of the facts presented in this review), MSM is a naturally occurring sulfur compound found in the human body and which can be derived from the ocean. It specifically works to reduce inflammation and discomfort by equalizing pressure inside and outside of cellular walls.

If you are interested in trying these outstanding copper skin care products for yourself, head on over to Dia-Mar.net. Unlike other skin therapy products promising to administer magical cures with digitally retouched before and after photos, you will get unbiased and straight-forward facts at Dia-Mar. All of their products sell for under $20 (except for Silver Skin Therapy, which goes for $24.95). And again, there are no artificial colors, GMO's, artificial fragrance, alcohol, animal bi-products or artificial preservatives in Dia'mar's skin therapy products. -savewithgreen

The Black Eyed Peas Go Green for Their Hot New Album

The Black Eyed Peas are back and better then ever with a new album called The E.N.D. The album cover features a 3D generated image in green. This image is a digital composition of all four members in one. The group is very active in the green movement, and wants to educate as well as entertain people with their music. Black Eyed Peas member Will.i.am has even teamed up with Al Gore on issues concerning the environment. Together, they have released various types of online content about the importance of going green.

This is the fifth studio album for this is new age pop group. Their last album Monkey Business impressively sold over 4 million copies. The E.N.D is a high energy album loaded with dance tracks and futuristic beats. Ever since the mega success of the group’s last album Monkey Business, they have steadily solidified their position in the pop music scene. The album is sure to be a nice reprieve for all the fans that have waited for new material. The fans love the dynamic energy of the Black Eyed Peas. They are not a group that confirms, they push the envelope, they sing about social and environmental issues. The group wanted the new album to have a totally different vibe to it. The inspiration from the E.N.D came from partying and staying close to the music scene. With two of the member’s successful solo projects and rising fame; it was questionable whether the group would even get back together or not. Will.i.am gained huge success for his rap lyrics and political advocacy. Fergie gained notoriety for her acting and solo album. Fergie's album the Dutchess gained critical success and released 5 top singles. With all the members now focused on the promotion of the E.N.D, it is sure to be as successful as the last album.

The first single “Boom Boom Pow” is fast and catchy. The video features a green looking Fergie singing in the mist of bright visual images. Their second single "I Gotta Feelin” has already started to gain some major buzz. The video features the group partying among green props and flashing neon lights. With the launch of two hot new singles, Black Eyed Peas seem likely to be on a fast ride back to the number one charts. The Energy Never Dies and apparently neither will the Black Eyed Peas. -Ed Allen Jr(greenandsave)

Aug 29, 2009

What’s Wrong with the Food Industry?

A fascinating new opinion documentary was released this past Friday that examines the ins and outs of the modern food industry with an emphasis on what it really takes to get food from the farm to the market. Food, Inc. is not overly brutal, and does not wish to fear-monger, but rather inform the public about the origins of the chicken or beef that they put on the dinner table. Much akin to the television news industry, 90% of all the food produced in the United States is done so by 4 different companies whose “farms” have become factories for the production of animals treated like science experiments.

The film delves into the myths associated with the modern American farm, as these factories seek to reinforce the idea that small farms are still responsible for the production of food by placing pictures of picket fences and small silos on their labels. The reality is that as large-scale producers of beef and chicken look to increase profits and drive down the price of their product, they stuff way to many animals into small quarters and feed them a cocktail of corn and antibiotics (to ensure no diseases are borne and transmitted between animals while they live in such tight quarters). Animals are treated with steroids as well, to increase the size of the animals in shorter periods of time.

The film also examines the evolution of cattle ranching, as cows are being forced to fundamentally change their diets from grass-only (they are herbivores) to a corn-rich diet, solely because government subsidies make corn less expensive than grass feed. This is causing cows to balloon to sizes that threaten their health, and often make it difficult for them to stand under their own weight.

The problem of sanitary factory conditions has taken a front and center position of late, as the Swine Flu Virus has recently been deemed a pandemic. While this simply means that the virus has gone global, and has no indication of the strength of the disease, many scientists expect the real problems to arise in the fall once the Swine Flu has had time to mutate into a more virulent strain.

The problem with correcting the transgressions of factory farming is that eating healthily costs more than eating a bunch of genetically enhanced steroid chicken. In order for Americans to consistently look for healthy options at dinner time, it will be necessary to teach the safety benefits of a prolonged healthy diet, and the dangers in consuming too much meat with a generally unknown chemical content.

The movie is a must-watch for anyone who wants to know more about the food they put into their body, as well as those looking for ammunition in the debate against large-scale commercial food production. -Adam Eisman(greenandsave)

Local Township Explores 80 Percent Energy Savings With LED Lighting

In the United States, buildings account for 40 percent of the nation’s energy consumption. A good portion of that usage, approximately 20 to 35 percent, comes from lighting. The opportunity to lower that segment of consumption is increasingly occurring by upgrading lighting.

Following this trend toward energy efficiency in buildings, a suburban Philadelphia township is exploring how to lower its utility bill through an LED (light emitting diode) lighting retrofit. Taking advantage of features that LED lights offer over traditional lights, such as lower energy consumption, longer lifetime, improved strength and easier maintenance, Tredyffrin Township in eastern Pennsylvania had lights installed on Aug. 5 in the township building as a preliminary assessment through LED Saving Solutions.

LEDs produce more light per watt than incandescent bulbs and can be easily dimmed. Unlike some traditional lighting, LEDs can emit light of a particular color without the use of color filters and do not contain mercury. Although initially, LED lights are expensive, significant savings realized over time offset upfront costs while smaller energy bills result right away.
Anticipated Savings
Local Township Explores 80 Percent Energy Savings With LED Lighting by greenandsave

If the township goes ahead with the lighting retrofit, it stands to save as much as 81 percent on its lighting power costs. LED Saving Solutions calculated that in 2010 the township would pay approximately $3,500 with LED lights as opposed to nearly $19,000 currently spent on annual lighting costs.

The township could reap savings as much as $15,000 per year, according to LED Saving Solutions, which over time would translate to a savings of $337,000 over the life of the new LED bulbs.

A typical conventional fluorescent lighting bay, approximately two feet by four feet in size, uses over $100 of electricity each year, whereas the new LED light tubes can cut the cost down to $20, according to LED Saving Solutions. The company anticipates such efficiency options will grow to be necessity in 2011 as a result of utility company deregulation.
Local Leadership, Record Time

In a matter of 30 days, Warren Kampf, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors of Tredyffrin Township, took the initiative following consultation with LED Saving Solutions in early July.

Though a 30-day timeframe is often just a blink when it comes to townships taking new initiatives, Kampf took immediate action upon learning about the potential savings for the community. He learned about the LED lighting in speaking with Charlie Szoradi, president of LED Saving Solutions, at a neighborhood Fourth of July parade. The next business day Kampf arranged for Szoradi’s LED Saving Solutions team to meet with the right township people. Thirty days later demonstration bulbs were in place in the Tredyffrin Township municipal building’s Board of Supervisors conference room and another board room.

The Township is currently exploring the financing options to extend the retrofit throughout the rest of the building as well as other relevant facilities such as the library. The project could measure up to the first municipality to retrofit a facility with the state-of-the-art energy saving LED lighting.

"As Chairman of our township board, I feel a special responsibility to ensure that our township is doing all it can to conserve energy, save costs, and serve as an example of being energy smart for our citizens. The replacement of our lights with these long-life, low-energy LED bulbs, at no cost to our residents, could be an enormous step in the right direction," Warren said.

Taking a leadership role is apparently familiar territory for Mr. Kampf. He has been on the Tredyffrin Township board for six years, and he has been the chair for the past two years. He previously served on the Township Zoning Board. Tredyffrin has already taken the initiative to purchase 20 percent of their electricity from wind power and obtained a grant to buy solar equipment for one of their parks buildings earlier this year. Kampf is a litigation partner in a Philadelphia law firm and grew up in Devon, Pa. Over the summer of 2009, local papers have covered the consideration by Warren Kampf to run for State House of Representatives in 2010 for the Pennsylvania 157th Legislative District. No official announcement of a run for this office has been made by the Kampf camp at the time of this article.
Savings Share Program

The project is made possible by a financing program forged by LED Saving Solutions with financial and lighting partners. Because the expense of replacing lighting, particularly in buildings, is often expensive, LED Saving Solutions procured support in the business sector to make energy efficiency within reach even in an economic downturn.

“Our Energy Savings Share program allows property owners and tenants to retrofit lighting with LED Bulbs that can save 80 percent on lighting costs and last for decades,” Charlie Szoradi, president of LED Saving Solutions said. “Our program includes free lighting energy audits and reports, free demonstrations with sample bulbs on-site at the property, free installation, and arrangements that include zero down and monthly payments that are less than the monthly savings. This structure delivers positive cash flow in the very first month.”

“We took the opportunity to our township supervisor because we knew that when presented with the savings data Warren would follow through. This is the perfect example of ‘Think Global, Act Local,’” Szoradi added. -greenandsave

Aug 26, 2009

Sesame Street Paints the Town GREEN in New DVD Release

Whether it’s the birds and the bees or an imminent global disaster, it can be challenging to explain things to a child. But with the help of Elmo and the Sesame Street gang, learning what it means to live sustainably is a little more straightforward.

The folks who brought us Sesame Street for the past few decades released “Sesame Street: Being Green” on DVD in accord with Earth Day last week. The goal is to bring a better knowledge of what it means to be green and sustainable to children who have yet to get set in their ways. Sesame Street is hoping that an early start to green education can help bolster future generations from falling into the easier, earth-damaging, fossil fuel path that has delivered us into this predicament in the first place.

The program, which runs about 45 minutes in length, stars Elmo and Abby Cadabby with the help of Mr. Earth, played by Paul Rudd in a comically oversized Earth costume. The story revolves around an “Earth-a-thon” on Sesame Street that is being led by Mr. Earth.

Elmo and Abby Cadabby hang around to understand their personal roles in sustaining this great big blue marble, and attempt to impress upon the youths watching that by turning water faucets off, taking shorter showers, and wasting less in general, we can all make a huge difference, especially if we all work together towards the goal of ultimate sustainability. Abby and Elmo get so into the proceedings that at one point Abby turns Elmo from his natural red, into a lean, green, energy saving machine, although she is unable to remember how to turn him back. (You’ll have to tune in to see how that one ends.)

The DVD is great for introducing youngsters into the wonderful world of sustainability, however there is one note of caution. Each DVD is individually wrapped in not only the usual plastic, but in a separate, unnecessary cardboard sleeve. The sleeve holds no purpose, and only serves to confuse the message, but getting the conversation started is half the battle. I suggest borrowing the film from a friend when they have finished, or holding joint viewing sessions for a few children at once to cut down on the waste of materials. Nonetheless, you’re children’s best fictional friends may be saving the planet, one street at a time. -Adam Eisman(greenandsave)

Keeping it Local at The Urban Cafe

Well, let me just start off by saying that I'm very excited to be writing this article; very excited, and admittedly, very biased. You see, The Urban Cafe, besides being a very hip, low key, socially conscious, and community oriented B.Y.O.B., on the Germantown/Mt. Airy border, is also owned by a very good friend of mine, executive Chef, Pat O'Donnell.

Chef Pat has literally been able to transform, a dirty, unorganized mess of a 'coffee shop/cafe', into a vibrant, affordable, community B.Y.O.B., called The Urban Cafe. One thing I knew coming into this, was that the food would be top notch, with stints at The Catfish Cafe, The River Deck, and Theresa's, Chef Pat has proven this over and over. What came as a real breath of fresh air though was all the community consciousness. We'll start with the honey, made by 'WeBee Brothers', real life brothers that live right around the corner from the cafe.

The brother's keep their bees in Fairmount Park, and make their honey at their home in Germantown. They also sell Whole Wheat Raisin Bread, which the cafe uses on their menu, and sells by the loaf. The lemonade sold at the cafe is 'Daddy's Lemonade' (which is the best ever), made in Elkins Park, and every time you buy a bottle, 10% of the profits go directly to the Germantown Historical Society. Another local favorite of Chef Pat is the Wyck Garden Co-op, at Walnut Lane and Germantown Ave. Situated in the Wyck House, one of the oldest houses in Germantown, the Wyck Garden Co-op comes alive every Friday as a Farmer's Market.
On July 10th, the garden will be hosting a summer food festival, complete with treats from Amish Country, and a cooking demonstration by Chef Pat. Aside from the produce acquired at the Farmer's Market, The Urban Cafe also features home grown vegetables. Pat's partner, Tom Grabe, saves all the old coffee grinds, and vegetable scraps, for a compost pile he keeps at his house. Tom uses that compost to grow vegetables that Chef Pat uses at the cafe.

Chef Pat, knowing that Germantown and Mt. Airy, has a thriving artist community, decided to start, "Starving Artist" night. The cafe features local artists, usually around once a month. Artists are able to display and sell their work, without paying any agents, gallery, or consignment fees. Exhibition nights include free wine, and free appetizers, so keep your eyes peeled for the next one. Besides being a great Chef, and a great neighbor, Chef Pat also finds the time to contribute to the Germantown Chronicle, the Mt. Airy Independent, and soon in The Weavers Way Co-op Newsletter, with a weekly food column. So next time you're trying to figure out where you'd like to eat, head on over to Germantown, where you can get a delicious, affordable meal, with a little community love for dessert.

Congrats Pat! -Eric Connor(greenandsave)

Aug 25, 2009

What's the best Green Car in Australia?

What's the best Green Car in Australia? This question is often asked by people that want to 'go green' and help not only nature by reducing the use of gas but also their own wallet because they don't have to spend as much money on gas.

The Australian government is making people aware of the fact that the kind of car you drive really does matter when you look at how we affect the nature around us. A car produces carbon which is set loose into the air and has a bad effect on the atmosphere. The amount of carbon that is released in the air varies per car. This is why some cars got the name 'green car'.

The answer to question 'What's the best Green Car in Australia?' is hard to answer but according to the Australian authorities and a lot of research themes and car producers the Smart, Fiat Punto, Fiat 500, Toyata Prius and Honda Jazz belong in the top five of 'greenest cars'. These are all smaller cars as you know. Especially the newer models release less carbon in the air.

By driving a green car you do not only reduce the carbon that is released in the air but also spend less money on fuel in general than you would compared to others cars. Basically you can hit two birds with one stone like this. -Mel C

Salamander Populations Reduced by Climate Change

Biologists from the University of California, Berkeley, have reported that salamander populations in parts of Central America have declined sharply in the past 40 years — and global warming could be the cause.

UC Berkeley researchers compared data of current salamander populations in western Guatemala and southern Mexico to data collected from the locations between 1969 and 1978. The team found that two of the most common species of salamanders in the areas 40 years ago are extinct, and several others have experienced large drops in number.

Amphibian populations have been declining worldwide, and experts have attributed the drops in other amphibian species — such as the well-documented plummeting of frog populations — to factors such as pesticides, predators and habitat destruction.

But according to David Wake, professor of integrative biology at UC Berkeley and the new study’s lead researcher, the salamanders in Guatemala lived on a controlled nature preserve, so neither outside predators nor human disturbance could have been responsible for their startling disappearance.

The nature preserve couldn’t guard the salamanders from the effects of global warming, however, and the climate conditions of salamanders’ habitat did change over the past 40 years. Salamanders are highly sensitive to climate and humidity, so even a slight increase in temperature could have caused them to seek higher elevations. Having thrived at their former altitudes for thousands of years, the salamanders were unable to adjust to these new habitats, researchers suspect.

Unlike other amphibians, salamanders are famously secretive creatures and often go unseen by all but keen, deliberate observers. Wake says salamanders’ effects in ecosystems do not go unnoticed, however: In forests, salamanders account for a large amount of biomass. Certain species even depend on salamanders for their own survival, such as the salamander-eating snake, which, according to Wake, is also showing signs of population decline.

See Science Daily's article for more information on Wake and his colleagues’ study, and check out A Wealth of Salamanders for more on these fascinating creatures and their unique presence in North America. -Megan Hirt

Aug 23, 2009

Self Made Solar Energy - Solar Powered Generator

The cost of energy is becoming more and more expensive. Because most families are dependent on electricity, and also because of the dwindling sources of fossil fuel, the price of electricity is skyrocketing. This may be one of the primary reasons why solar powered generators are becoming more and more popular. Click Here For Self Made Solar Energy Instant Access Now!

Nobody wants to pay a high electric bill, especially if you have mouths to feed and lavish lifestyles to maintain. Using solar power helps cut the power bill down. By using the sun to make electricity, you can power your home for free.

The basic notion, though, is that solar panels are very expensive. Many people do not have the extra income to put up solar panels in their homes. However, there are cheaper ways to put them up. Build the panels yourself. It has become much easier to acquire such technology for usage at home. It used to be attainable for governments or huge companies only, but now it is available to everyone. A lot of kits are being sold in the market which will instruct you on how to build your own solar panel.

For some people, using solar powered generators is also a good way to help save the environment. Most of the electricity we use comes from fossil fuel. Fossil fuel is the primary source of high levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere which causes global warming. Also, fossil fuel is a non-renewablUkuran hurufe resource. It will run out in the near future. It is time that we turn to renewable sources of energy that are sustainable. It is also high time that we do our share in helping the environment. If everyone were to step in and do their part by running their homes using solar power, we can protect our planet.

In a nutshell, using solar power will enable you to help save the environment and cut your power bill down. -Chris Jensen

Self Made Solar Energy - Build Solar Power Generator

Do you want to know how to build solar power generators? Or perhaps the better question is why should you even consider building one? Well, here’s why:Click Here For Self Made Solar Energy Instant Access Now!

The first and perhaps the most practical reason is this – high electric bills. Costs of living are increasing and many families are now struggling to pay their bills. With growing bills, it is very hard for families to sustain their current lifestyles. Relying on solar energy will help save hundreds of dollars per month to thousands of dollars per year. The second reason is unnecessary outages, which are quite common in some parts of the world. Experiencing sudden black outs can be pretty annoying and frustrating at the same time. Imagine watching your favorite television show and then suddenly the electricity is cut off from your home, how would you feel? Don’t answer that.

The third reason is its environmental impact. By burning fossil fuels, we are contributing to the destruction of our planet. Fossil fuel is the primary source of high levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Global warming is a direct impact of industrialization-led consumption of fossil fuels. It will be a nice way to protect our environment for us to run our homes using solar power instead. Also, fossil fuel will run out in the near future. It is time that we turn to renewable sources of energy that are sustainable. The sun offers an endless stream of energy that cannot be depleted. We need not worry about a possible depletion of resources unlike with oil and gas. We can be sure that fifty to one hundred years later, we will still be able to utilize solar power for electricity.

The last is availability and design. In the past, only large corporations and government agencies can afford to build such systems. Today, small-scale economical models are designed for residential housing and small businesses such as farms.

You see, there are major reasons why you should consider building solar power generators. By using the sun to make electricity, you can power your home for free. -Chris Jensen

Aug 21, 2009

Adopt a Low Carbon Diet and Help Curb Further Global Climate Change

For decades, people have begun to choose vegan and vegetarian diets over more resource-consuming standard diets. The last ten years have also given rise to an additional type of earth-conscious eater: the raw vegan. People choose these diets for health, environmental, animal rights, and also spiritual reasons. Now we sit on the threshold of a new global issue that requires our awareness and action: rapidly arising global climate change. We can help to combat this change with our dietary choices. The newest diet to directly address this issue is increasingly known as the "Low Carbon Diet."

Our diet is one of the largest causes of greenhouse gas emissions

Some estimates predict that one third of our greenhouse gas emissions comes from our food and agriculture industries (1). The current structure of our agricultural production and distribution infrastructure is based upon profit-driven methods and outmoded technologies. Corporations, by definition, strive toward continual profit and growth (2). The greatest challenge to this is that care for human and earth wellness falls second to the corporation's own need for continual profit and growth. In other words, one cannot assume that a company cares for the interests of Earth or human health and well-being. Their own growth is more important than health interests. The result of this is competitive behavior and also, quite often, harmful choices that do not consider long-term health costs for people, animals, or the planet.

The current agricultural structure is very dependent upon machinery, pesticides, watering methods, and large distribution distances that require very large amounts of petroleum or petroleum byproducts in order to complete the processes. In addition, food is commonly shipped 1000s of miles to destinations for purchasing and consumption. All of these factors add to the "carbon footprint" of the foods that we eat.

Meat and dairy, conventional produce, and long-distance shipping all add to our destructive, non-sustainable dilemma

Even the food choices themselves lend themselves to a high carbon footprint, excessive resource consumption, and erosion or destruction of the soil. This is the result of both the current methods of production but also often the inherent nature of required resources used to complete the production process.

Meat and dairy production uses more resources, requires more tracts of open land, causes erosion, and leads to declines of mineral quality in topsoil. Vegetarians have long cited this as a strong reason to choose to eat less or no meat and dairy within their diets.

Conventional produce, similarly, is grown with use of pesticides and herbicides that are both toxic as well as commonly made from petroleum derivatives. Conventional farming practices fill our landscape, our food, and also our bodies with toxic chemical residues. Pesticides are designed to kill, and they do not know when to stop killing. We are filling the planet and our bodies with chemicals that are designed to kill life. These practices are transforming our world and our bodies into toxic waste dumps.

A quick example is human breast milk, which studies have found to be contaminated with "DDT (the banned but stubbornly persistent pesticide famous for nearly wiping out the bald eagle), PCB's, dioxin, trichloroethylene, perchlorate, mercury, lead, benzene, arsenic" and more (3).

Food wastes and over-consumption also add to the carbon footprint of our diets

Commercial restaurants throw away at least 54 billion pounds of food each year (4). Individual consumers, also, throw away over a pound of food each day on average into trash cans, compost, or down the disposal. Also, American tendencies to overeat contribute not only to wasted resources but also poor quality of health across our nation. In 2009, a UN report found that "over half of the food produced globally (and in the U.S.) is lost, wasted or discarded as a result of inefficiency in the human-managed food chain, including as much as one-quarter of all fresh fruits and vegetables" (5).

By choosing low carbon footprint foods, we as consumers can make a large impact on global climate change with our dietary choices

Simple adjustments to our diets and choices can really help the planet and, as a result, the future generations of this world (6). This power lies within our own hands, with each choice that we make.
  1. Reduce or eliminate consumption of meat, seafood, and dairy products.
  2. Buy food that has been grown locally and do not often buy food that has been imported from other nations or shipped 1000s of miles. Also, grow your own food.
  3. Meet your local farmers and buy food from them or local farmer's markets.
  4. Choose to buy only organic produce.
  5. Stop buying bottled water and, instead, buy a high-quality water filter for your home faucet.
  6. Bicycle, walk, or carpool to buy your food rather than drive.
  7. Grow your own organic herbs, peppers, melons, cucumbers, tomatoes, and other foods that are very easy to grow.
  8. Eat more native produce (foods that naturally grow in your own area).
  9. Buy natural foods (fruits and vegetables) rather than packaged or processed foods that had to be prepared in a factory and then shipped long distances.
  10. Buy bulk rather than packaged foods.
  11. Eat locally-grown fruits rather than processed or packaged desserts.
  12. Compost your food remains rather than throwing them down the sink or into the trashcan.
  13. Choose to drink more water and less coffee, sodas, or other packaged, processed drinks.
  14. Eat more raw food and cook food less.
Because the world faces immense changes that could greatly reduce biodiversity on Earth and also greatly increase human and animal suffering, it is very helpful that we make simple choices that can really help to turn the tides back in favor of a healthy, diverse, and thriving planet. -naturalnews

Department of Interior Announces Plan to Turn 670,000 Acres into 24 Solar Energy Zones

In an effort to jumpstart alternative energy production in the United States, the Department of the Interior recently announced about 670,000 acres of land as potential areas for solar energy production. The move toward energy efficiency has made desert and wind swept lands much more desirable to developers and the government alike. However, some see the lands being selected as controversial, as they may be ecologically sensitive.

The land that has been announced covers six western states and has been broken up into 24 solar energy zones. These lands hold the potential to produce up to 100,000 megawatts of solar electricity. The recent announcement was made after the search began in March to find lands that would be able to handle the rapid development of alternative energy sources. And the lands that have been placed in this category are still being tested to see if they can handle the environmental impacts of large solar arrays. -greenandsave

Aug 18, 2009

Nissan Develops Wireless Electric Hybrid

Nissan has invented a new type of electric hybrid that no longer constrains the vehicle to long periods of time plugged into an electrical outlet. It has been described as making the recharging process easier and faster. The new process involves inductive charging, which utilizes electromagnetic fields in the same way as an electric toothbrush.

The Zero Emissions Vehicles that are being fitted with the wireless technology will enable them to recharge at a compatible parking bay. Current electric plug-in vehicles require that their owner carry a mains plug with them in order to recharge.

Future plans include improving on this technology, which would mean that electric cars could be fitted with plates. When driven over a particularly charged road, could theoretically charge the car while it is being driven. However, this is an ambitious aspiration and Nissan is unsure how much such a system would cost, as well as the logistics of such a road and how long it would need to be. -greenandsave

What are Electric Cars?

Electric cars produce zero localized emissions since they’re propelled by electric motors that run on batteries charged at home, or special electric vehicle charging stations. Car manufacturers are actively developing a new generation of electric cars using technologies and lessons learned from electric vehicles developed in the 1990s. Electric cars are extremely efficient and run for pennies per mile, much cheaper than any other alternative fuel. -greencar

Aug 15, 2009

Phytoplankton Threatened by Climate Change

Populations of Antarctic phytoplankton have dropped significantly due to global warming, threatening the entire chain of ocean life, according to a study conducted by researchers from Rutgers University and published in the journal Science.

Phytoplankton are microscopic plants that form the bottom of the oceanic food chain; they are fed upon by krill, which are eaten by whales and small fish. Small fish are then eaten by larger animals all the way up the chain to Adelie penguins and other macrofauna.

Because phytoplankton, like other plants, produce chlorophyll in order to photosynthesize energy from sunlight, researchers used measures of chlorophyll off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula to estimate levels of the microorganisms. They then compared these with satellite data over the last 30 years to examine the effects of global warming on plankton populations.

The Antarctic Peninsula juts out from the continent toward South America. The rate of winter warming on the peninsula is higher than anywhere else on the planet.

The researchers found that overall populations of phytoplankton off the west coast of the peninsula have dropped by 12 percent over the last 30 years. Looking more specifically at regional changes, the researchers were able to see that plankton populations have actually increased in the south, but have decreased by a greater amount in the north.

In the south, decreasing cloud cover due to changing climate patterns has increased the sunlight available for the phytoplankton.

"You have more open water and so you have light penetration, so the phytoplankton is happy in the south," researcher Martin Montes-Hugo said,

In the north, however, greater cloud cover and increasing winds are reducing sunlight and driving plankton deeper underwater.

"This makes phytoplankton mad," Montes-Hugo said. "It's not good for phytoplankton because you have less light."

In addition to forming the base of the food chain, phytoplankton also absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and emit large quantities of oxygen. Lower levels of plankton means more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and faster global warming -- leading to still lower plankton populations and successively more warming. -naturalnews

Composting Toilets: Secrets of Toilet Composters

If it weren't for Dr. Oz and Oprah, talking openly about one's poop would probably turn more heads than anything else. And while that may still be the case with many people, the fact of the matter is that more people are becoming conscious and comfortable with poop! And with a growing surge in sustainable living taking place, guess what else people are talking about - Composting toilets.

First off, a composting toilet is not a pit that you dig when going camping. A modern day composting toilet is one that belongs inside a bathroom along with a sink and a shower. The only difference is that a composting toilet is not connected to the water supply and septic system, thus saving considerable energy and cutting back on sewage pollution, not to mention serving as a cheap and effective natural fertilizer.

As you might surmise, if a composting toilet is not connected to the water supply, then where does the poop go (okay, I'll call it waste for now), and how does it get there? Well, at some point you (or your children) will have to manually remove the waste when it becomes a reusable end product fertilizer that can be used in your yard. Before you jump to any conclusions about this being a "stinky and dirty job" let's dispel a few myths by explaining the different types of toilet composters and how they operate.

Some composting toilets are self-contained systems while others are central units powered by vacuum (and some electricity) to flush waste into a remote composting unit below the toilet. While there are do-it-yourself systems out there, many of the "hands-free" composters offer all the conveniences of a regular toilet with the added environmental and money saving benefits. Indeed, composting toilets cost from 25-75% less than a regular septic system.

Some composters use heat and inject air to speed up the aerobic decomposition rate, while others may require a drum to be turned once in a while. The best modern day composting toilets will separate urine and feces, thus providing two types of fertilizers. Urine is actually responsible for providing the bulk of plant nutrients after being broken down into an odorless liquid fertilizer. This can take as little as three months. In Sweden (the original home of composting toilets), authorities allow composted urine to be used as agricultural fertilizer after six months of storage time. As for solid waste, this will take 4 to six years to become highly mineralized soil, which you can bet is some of the best fertilizer on the planet!

A common misconception about composting toilets inside the home are that they smell and require constant emptying. This is far from the truth. Since the original amount of waste typically decomposes to 10% its original volume (after 5 years, only 1-2% remains), there is less emptying than you might think. In fact, a full sized composting toilet could go without emptying for several decades. Smaller models may require emptying multiple times in a year. It's not every day and week, however. Regarding smell, composting toilets use positive section to keep odors in the unit. Some units even come equipped with exhaust fans using minimal electricity. In fact, if used properly, composting toilets should be less odorous than regular toilets!


One last thing worth mentioning about composting toilets is their place with governmental health authorities. In some countries, the issue is greyer than the grey water itself. In Sweden and Canada, for example, composting toilets are generally accepted. In other countries, where sewage is not available, most health authorities will approve systems that use proper decontamination procedures. If sewage is available, the use of composting toilets is generally prohibited. However, amidst the growing green movement, this is being widely challenged and more people are using composting toilets to go green without anybody having to know about it.

If you want to see some really great composting toilets, check out Gaiam and use their search tool to view some of the best Swedish made composting toilets out there. -Ry

Aug 11, 2009

Will A Hybrid Car Really Pay Off?


Ford Escape Hybrid in Action

It's true that hybrids cost more than regular vehicles. This prompts many to wonder if the extra cost for these high efficiency cars is worth it, and in fact if the difference can be offset over time by the cash saved from buying less fuel. While plenty of generalizations have been made on this in recent years, the concept of payback for a hybrid's incremental cost involves many variables and can only be answered on a case-by-case basis. Green Car's research shows that a realistic answer is not so simple and boiling this down into a simple chart is misleading ... so we're not going to do that. Instead, we're going to do this the right way and help you come up with a valid payback factor for the hybrid you may be considering.

You need to know that crunching the numbers involves some elements that are moving targets. For example, higher gasoline prices work to shorten the number of miles needed for payback. Changing government incentives mean that calculations made today may be different than the realities of calculations made a few months down the road. And let's not forget that the retail price of hybrids also appears to be in play as some dealers tack thousands of dollars onto a hybrid's suggested retail price because of high demand.

Still, the basic equation for determining a hybrid's breakeven point is straightforward. It begins by identifying the combined city/highway mpg number for a hybrid and that of its closest conventional counterpart. These mpg figures can be found online at www.fueleconomy.gov. Once armed with these numbers you can figure each vehicle's operating cost per mile based on current fuel prices.
Honda Civic Hybrid

To do so, simply divide the price of fuel (such as $4.00 per gallon) by a vehicle's combined mpg. As an illustration, a Honda Civic Hybrid would pencil out as follows, assuming the above gas cost: $4.00 ÷ 42 mpg = $0.095 (9 ½ cents) per mile operating cost. If a Civic EX was used as a conventional comparison, this would pencil out at $4.00 ÷ 29 mpg = $0.14 (14 cents) per mile. So, the hybrid variant would cost $0.045 (4 ½ cents) less for each mile driven. Placed in these terms, it's enlightening that even at 42 mpg, you're burning nearly a buck's worth of gasoline every 10 miles you drive. Ouch.

Next, determine the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) for the models you're comparing. The Honda Civic Hybrid MSRP is $22,600 and the standard Civic EX is $18,710, with a differential of $3,890. To find the projected mileage to a breakeven point - where the increased fuel efficiency offsets the cost of a hybrid premium - the difference in price between the hybrid model and an identical conventionally powered model is divided by the savings per mile. In the case of the Honda Civic, this figures out this way: $3,890 (cost difference) ÷ $0.045 (4 ½ cents per mile savings) = 86,444 miles. So, at least in theory, the extra cost of a Honda Civic hybrid in this scenario would be offset in just over 86,000 miles of driving if gas prices are $4.00 a gallon.

Of course, federal incentives exist for many hybrid models and this can make a big difference in payback calculations. The Civic Hybrid is currently eligible for a federal tax credit of $1,050, which changes the cost differential between comparative models and results in a payback mileage factor of 63,111 miles if purchased now. However, tax credits are phased out according to specific criteria and disappear when an automaker sells 60,000 hybrids. For example, the Honda tax credit is reduced to $525 on July 1, 2008 and goes away completely on January 1, 2009. The substantial $3,150 tax credit made available for Toyota's Prius when the federal incentive program began has now gone away completely for this model, and in fact all Toyota/Lexus hybrids, because of this automaker's successful hybrid sales. Current information on available credits for specific hybrid models can be found at http://www.fueleconomy.gov/Feg/tax_hybrid.shtml.

These fundamental calculations can be used to determine the theoretical payback for any hybrid model. If the basics are what you're looking for then you're done here. But there are more 'wild card' factors to consider, so if you're inclined to explore how other influences can weigh in, then read on.

BEYOND THE BASICS
If all this sounds simple, rest assured it's not. Finding direct hybrid/gasoline model comparisons can be tricky since many of the features that come standard on hybrid models may not be offered on their gasoline powered counterparts. Auto manufacturers often sweeten the deal on hybrids with additional content to soften a hybrid's higher price. These extra features cost the manufacturer much less than the added retail value they bring to the consumer, so this content serves to take some of the sting out of the additional money being paid for expensive hybrid technology.

The challenge in identifying a direct hybrid comparison is illustrated by the Toyota Camry. When you add in the engine options and trim levels, Toyota lists 11 different Camry styles and none have the exact mix of options and components as the Camry Hybrid. Also, while a singular example, it should also be noted that Toyota's Prius hybrid has no direct basis for comparison since that body style is offered only as a hybrid.

Still other factors cloud the issue. Driving habits present a significant wild card in this payback equation. Fuel economy can easily differ by 5 mpg or more on high fuel economy vehicles with differences in driving style. Drive with fuel economy in mind and you may well cut the miles to achieving breakeven in half.

Other incentives that influence breakeven are not so obvious, like the ability for solo drivers to use high occupancy vehicle (carpool) lanes in some states. While this incentive can save hundreds of hours of behind-the-wheel time in heavily congested cities over the course of a year - a real quality of life advantage - it also offers tangible financial benefits since cutting commuting time saves fuel, which also saves cash. A case could certainly be made for factoring the dollar value of fuel saved into the payback equation. But again, that's a wild card that must be calculated on a case-by-case basis. Plus, those counting on this must keep in mind that the HOV benefit could go away for new hybrid purchases once quotas are reached, as has happened now in California.
Hybrid Informational Display

One major consideration when shopping for a new hybrid is the length of time you plan to keep the vehicle. If you're a short-term buyer, then the math to breakeven may seem impossible to achieve. The big variable here is the resale or residual value when you sell the car. A hybrid will likely retain much of the original premium you paid due to high demand, particularly if you sell it or trade it in after only a few years. So, that $3,000 or $4,000 premium you paid for a hybrid could still add $2,000 or more to the car's value used, meaning you may only need to save $1,000 or so in gas - or consume 250 gallons at $4 per gallon - to hit breakeven.

Finally, there's the subject of battery replacement cost that could (or should) be factored into the equation. While hybrids are new enough so actual battery replacement costs are generally unknown, it's projected that a new battery pack will likely fall in the $2,000 or so range when aging hybrids get to the point where replacement is needed.

When will a hybrid pay for itself? We like to think the day you drive it off the lot. Being an early adopter of environmentally positive technology, reducing oil dependency, and creating less pollution have their own rewards. The substantial savings realized at the pump every time a new hybrid is filled up also provides real and immediate financial gain. With all this and rising gas prices that are already driving up the resale value of efficient smaller cars - a trend that will surely benefit hybrid values as well - the answer to those questioning whether a hybrid will pay off seems to be getting clearer every day. -Todd Kaho

Aug 10, 2009

What are Hybrids and Plug In Hybrids?

What are Hybrids?Hybrids combine two or more different propulsion systems, typically a gasoline engine and one or more electric drive motors. Most hybrids on the road today compliment their gas engines by charging a battery when breaking. Engines running on diesel or other alternative fuels can also be used in hybrids. A hybrid drive is fully scalable, which means the drive can be used to power everything from small commuter cars to large buses and even locomotives. Hybrids get more MPG or miles per gallon than most non-hybrids, and usually have very low tailpipe emissions.

What are Plug In Hybrids?
Plug in hybrids boast great potential for improving fuel economy. Plug in hybrid technology allows gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles to be recharged from the grid and run many miles on battery power alone. A gas engine provides additional driving range as needed after the battery power is gone. Plug in hybrids may never need to run on anything but electricity for shorter commutes. The combination of gas and electric driving technologies can already achieve up to 150 mpg. -greencar

Aug 9, 2009

Honda FCX Clarity Zero Emissions Fuel Cell Car

Did you think you wouldn't see fuel cell vehicles and the realization of zero emissions hydrogen power in your lifetime? The hydrogen reality may be closer than you've hoped. Honda, the quiet technical innovator, will be leasing its FCX Clarity production fuel cell car to select customers much sooner than expected. Like the EV Plus electric car and the first-generation FCX fuel cell vehicle that came before it, this is a limited production vehicle that's manufactured like other Honda vehicles, but not yet in mass market volume. Even so, this is clearly a next step toward commercializing an advanced technology vehicle and a milestone in our path to a more environmentally compatible future.

An evolution of Honda's tireless efforts in zero emission electric drive vehicles, the FCX Clarity blows the smoke and mirrors off the futuristic concept and engineering vehicles shown on sci-fi pages and instead presents a sleek, stylish, and decidedly Main Street America sedan powered by "tomorrow's" clean fuel: hydrogen. In this case hydrogen combines with atmospheric oxygen in the Clarity's advanced fuel cell, converting chemical energy into electricity to power the sophisticated electric powertrain.
Fcx Clarity Cockpit Lr

Moving beyond fleet testing under relatively controlled conditions, in a few short months the Clarity will be delivered into the hands of regular consumers. For $600 monthly, a lucky group of forward thinkers in Southern California will be able to lease an FCX Clarity fuel cell sedan for three years. The deal gets sweeter, too, since that six-hundred also includes collision insurance and maintenance. Honda obviously wants to keep close tabs on consumer interaction with the Clarity as part of the development process.

The Clarity is not a baby step in the production-ready consumer fuel cell evolution, but rather one giant leap. Honda's new V Flow fuel cell stack pushes technology boundaries on every level. The vertically oriented V Flow stack is 65 percent smaller than the Honda FC fuel cell stack it replaces. Its compact size allows the V Flow to be positioned in the center tunnel between the front seats. The entire powertrain packaging is 45 percent smaller than the previous generation, which Honda points out is equivalent to the space required for a modern gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain.
Fcx Clarity Fuel Cell Stack Lr

Small but mighty, V Flow delivers 100 kilowatts of output compared to the 86 kW produced by the current FC stack and also offers a 50 percent increase in output density by volume. Clarity employs an advanced lithium-ion battery pack that is also 50 percent smaller and 40 percent lighter than the ultra-capacitor design used in the current FCX. Packaging of the entire powertrain benefits from the V Flow design, which allows Honda to engineer the Clarity as a sporty and very functional sedan.

On the road, Clarity provides performance improvements over the previous FCX as well. Part of this is comes from a 400 pound weight reduction realized by the V Flow platform, which brings a 25 percent improvement in overall power-to-weight ratio. Fuel economy is said to be 20 percent better, which Honda estimates to be the equivalent of 68 mpg for combined city/highway driving. With a single 5,000 psi hydrogen storage tank, Clarity has an estimated range of 270 miles, a 30 percent increase over the current FCX and a driving range that's likely to be acceptable to consumers.
Fcx Clarity Engine Bay Lr

Honda will begin limited retail marketing of the FCX Clarity in the summer of 2008 in Southern California. Alongside further development of the car and fueling infrastructure, Honda is working on a service system that provides customer convenience while allowing Honda to track the ownership experience. When service is required, a customer simply drops off the Clarity at the nearest Honda dealership and American Honda transports the vehicle to its Los Angeles area service facility. Here, qualified technicians handle the needed work and then the vehicle is delivered back to the customer's local dealership for pick-up.

Honda is relentless in moving fuel cell technology forward. Real-world tests in small fleets are one avenue to proving the viability of advanced technology vehicles. In this case, Honda goes some steps further because the FCX Clarity is a limited production car that's going to regular consumers. It's a bold move and Honda will surely benefit from the program as much as the Southern California drivers lucky enough to lease the Clarity for three years.
Fcx Clarity 34 Rear City Lr

When you look at the Clarity, it's difficult not to imagine you're taking a sneak peek at an Accord of the future. This stylish four door sedan represents a major milestone in design, fuel cell development, and the future of zero emission hydrogen as an important fuel alternative. We're breathlessly awaiting the next development in this hydrogen car's drive to the mass market. -Todd Kaho

What are Hydrogen Cars & Hydrogen Fuel Cells?

Hydrogen is perhaps the cleanest of all alternative fuels, burning with nearly zero emissions in an internal combustion engine and with emissions of only water vapor and heat in an electro-mechanical fuel cell. Hydrogen vehicles are being developed in many forms by most major car manufacturers. Some vehicles powered by hydrogen are in demonstration fleets, while others like the Honda FCX Clarity and Chevy Equinox Fuel Cell are being driven by consumers. -greencar

Aug 7, 2009

Trends: Driving on Natural Gas

The natural gas vehicle industry has come a long way since Clean Energy was founded 11 years ago. We started the company with the notion that natural gas could and would become an important alternative fuel for transportation.

Progress toward achieving this goal has been dramatic and is accelerating. The growth in deployment of natural gas vehicles (NGVs) worldwide has been explosive, topping 8.2 million vehicles today throughout Europe, the Middle East, South America, and Asia, up from 5 million just a year ago. Over 25 OEM consumer NGVs are made in Europe.

In the United States, the current transition of heavy-duty vehicles from diesel to natural gas fuel has been the single most important trend. The original impetus for this transition was growing public pressure to improve air quality by reducing harmful vehicle emissions. From the beginning, natural gas had a clear environmental edge. It was far cleaner than gasoline or diesel.

Over time, the 'clean air' gap has narrowed as the EPA tightened emissions standards for all heavy-duty vehicles - diesel and natural gas-powered alike. However, natural gas engine technology remains three years ahead of diesel as the Cummins ISL-G engine met (or 'certified to') the EPA's most stringent 2010 heavy-duty standard in 2007, making this engine six times cleaner than the cleanest diesel.

More recently, mounting pressure from government at all levels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by using low-carbon fuels has been a key driver for change in the transportation sector. Natural gas significantly exceeds diesel's performance in this category and can reduce greenhouse gases by up to 30 percent according to the California Energy Commission.
Clean Energy station for Natural Gas vehicles

Now we have heavy-duty natural gas-fueled Class 8 trucks coming off the assembly lines of major manufacturers. These trucks are being deployed at the huge container Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, where up to 8,000 trucks are set, within the next five years, to replace dirty diesel trucks for goods movement. And the ports just begin to indicate the impact on regional trucking, which is seeking to control costs while driving 'green.'

The cost of heavy-duty NGVs is coming down as production expands and technology improves. They now are approaching the cost of diesel vehicles, which are actually increasing in price as manufacturers struggle to comply with 2010 EPA standards. Most important is the widening gap between the price of diesel and gasoline, and the price of natural gas.

In Southern California on July 4th - what should be Independence Day from Foreign Oil - the average cost per gallon for CNG at public access stations was $3.20. And the price for fleet operators with fuel contracts was even less. On the same day, regular gasoline was selling for $4.60 per gallon and diesel for $5.00 per gallon.
Trucking port

As the price of gasoline and diesel continues to rise, all of us face a serious economic burden - from individuals fueling at the pump to commercial fleets in the refuse, transit, and goods movement trucking sectors. There's an added impact on consumers who must pay more for food and other products because skyrocketing transportation fuel costs are included in the selling price.

All these factors combine to create a burgeoning interest in natural gas fuel, all across the country and the world. Representatives of the refuse, transit, and trucking sectors are contacting Clean Energy with increasing frequency, asking us how switching to natural gas fuel can reduce their operating costs and help them comply with environmental quality mandates.

At Clean Energy, we have never seen such a surge in demand. And we remain committed, as we were at the outset, to provide natural gas fuel for transportation - because it has genuinely proven to be the cleaner, cheaper, domestic alternative fuel choice. -Andrew J. Littlefair is president and chief executive officer of Clean Energy Fuels Corp. (www.cleanenergyfuels.com), the largest provider of natural gas for transportation in the United States.

What is Natural Gas and Ethanol?

What is Natural Gas?

Natural gas, the cleanest-burning fossil fuel, is being used by an increasing number of medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles like refuse trucks and delivery vans. Natural gas is stored and used in its liquefied or compressed states. It is most commonly abbreviated as LNG for Liquefied Natural Gas, and CNG for Compressed Natural Gas. While a variety of light-duty natural gas cars were once available, the only factory-produced natural gas car made today in the U.S. is Honda’s Civic GX. Other car models may be developed and sold in the United States as additional focus is placed on natural gas as a fuel source for alternative fuel vehicles.

What is Ethanol?

Ethanol (ethyl alcohol) is the same type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages. As a fuel, ethanol can be used in more than 30 flex fuel vehicle models that have been designed to run on alcohol, gasoline, or any combination of the two fuels from the same tank. Most ethanol today is produced from corn or sugar cane, although this will change as cheaper cellulosic ethanol made from fast growing woody grasses and other biomass becomes a reality. -greencar

Aug 6, 2009

What is Biodiesel?

Biodiesel is a renewable alternative fuel made from various sources ranging from waste vegetable oil to soybeans. It can often be used seamlessly in diesel engines of all kinds. Biodiesel is a cleaner fuel than standard petroleum diesel. Since it can be produced locally, biodiesel has the potential to decrease our dependence on foreign countries for oil, and enhance local economies where biodiesel production is taking place.

Ten Facts About Biodiesel

1.Even Rudolf Diesel Liked Biodiesel
In a now century-old patent application, visionary and inventor Rudolf Diesel stated, "The use of vegetable oils for engine fuels may seem insignificant today, but such oils may become in the course of time as important as petroleum and the coal tar products of the present time." Clearly, that time has arrived.

2. Biodiesel is a Domestic Fuel
Biodiesel is one of the most promising replacements for traditional petroleum energy. As an alternative fuel, biodiesel is simply diesel fuel made from a variety of biomass sources. Since it can be grown domestically rather than pumped out of the ground from foreign sources, increased use of biodiesel offers significant benefits.

3. Biodiesel is Made from Many Sources
A common misconception is that biodiesel is made only from soybeans. Soy is a good source and the most common feedstock for biodiesel made in the U.S., but many other crops and plants including flax, mustard, rapeseed, sunflower, palm, hemp, jatropha, and pennycress can also be used. In addition, biodiesel can be made from animal fats and waste vegetable oil.
Biobeetle Powered by Recycled Vegetable Oil

4. Algae is a Good Source
Perhaps the most promising source for biodiesel is algae - good old pond scum. While still on a track to becoming commercially viable, farming algae for fuel has a huge future. Under the right conditions, algae can double in weight three to four times in a single day. Importantly, the process takes in CO2 (a major greenhouse gas) while producing high grade lipids, which are basically a type of vegetable oil. Scientist are finding they can be selective about the carbon chains produced to optimize lipids for the particular type of fuel to be produced. Algae production doesn't displace farmland needed for food stocks - no soil is needed - plus it can be grown anywhere. Some estimates place commercial yields as high as 18,000 to 20,000 gallons of oil per acre annually.

5. A High Energy Balance
Biodiesel offers the highest energy balance of any transportation fuel. Taking into account planting, harvesting, production, and transporting, a DOE/USDA lifecycle analysis shows that for every unit of petro-energy required, biodiesel delivers 3.2 units of energy back.

6. Any Diesel Vehicle Can Use It
Biodiesel can run in any diesel vehicle. Green Car editors have driven a wide range of vehicles running on biodiesel, including production cars certified for use with B5, B20 in turbo diesel pickups and farm equipment, B100 in concept cars, and even pure veggie oil in properly converted vehicles.
Biodiesel Shuttle

7. B5 Biodiesel is the Norm
Progressive auto manufacturers are endorsing the use of B5 in their diesel cars and trucks, but the push for higher blends such as B20 has been stalled by a lack of universal fuel biodiesel standards. New clean diesel technology with complex and sophisticated aftertreatment exhaust systems make universal standards critical if manufacturers are to allow higher blends.

8. Fuel Viscosity is a Challenge
According to Volkswagen, the primary concern with higher blends of biodiesel isn't with the quality or even energy content of the fuel, but rather its viscosity. Modern clean diesel engines have very precise fuel delivery timing and metering, so a change in fuel viscosity makes this precise metering very challenging. In one combustion cycle, there may be as many as seven separate injections of fuel. This is one of the reasons why modern clean diesel engines are so smooth and quiet. Fuel delivery may include two pre-combustion injections, up to four main combustion injections, and even a small shot of fuel after the main combustion process for a more complete burn.

9. New ASTM Standards Will Help
The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has just approved three significant biodiesel specifications that should help widespread acceptance of B20. In addition to changes in existing standards for B100 blend stock specifications and finished specs for up to 5 percent biodiesel in conventional petrodiesel, a new third standard was adopted for blends between 6 percent (B6) and 20 percent (B20) biodiesel. Along with the federal mandate for ultra low sulfur clean diesel fuel (below 15-parts-per-million sulfur content) automakers are gaining the tools needed to support higher blends of biodiesel with confidence.

10. Important to Petroleum Displacement
World demand for oil is up and only so much diesel fuel can be refined - about 7.8 gallons - from each barrel of crude. With diesel fuel demand stressing refinery capacity worldwide it should be no surprise that diesel is more expensive than gasoline in North America. Oil prices in general are at an all-time and there's a need for petroleum displacement on many fronts. The time to get serious about biodiesel is now. -greencar

Earth Mud Recipe - Give Life to Your Walls

If it simply isn't feasible to build an adobe house, why not cover your walls in mud? No joke, it's possible, and is a great opportunity to unleash your creativity and artistic skills. Mud covered walls, or rather, earthen plaster, is an earth-friendly and inventive way to bring life to plain, whitewashed walls. No wonder they are also called living walls! Helping to shape spaces with light, shadows and texture, earthen walls certainly bring life to a room.

Creating an earthen wall or room is actually quite simple. You could even create earthen accents and decorative art pieces to be mounted on your walls. To get started, you will first need some mud, which is basically clay-like subsoil, sand, fiber and water. Clay is the binder, while sand and fiber limit cracking. In fact, if you would like more of a hard and tough earthen wall - one that can be cleaned easily without rubbing away any plaster - it is better to use more of a fine clay soil and sharp quartz sand.

A standard earthen plaster recipe is this:
  • One part clay soil
  • Three to four parts sand
  • One-half part fine fiber
  • Enough water to make the plaster into a consistency slightly wetter than peanut butter.
  • If you would like to add colored earth pigments, you can do so in the mix or can later paint it over the wall.
  • For making earthen art, add lime putty or wheat paste to help bind the plaster even more.
Depending on the surface of the wall that you will be covering with mud, applications vary. For very smooth walls, a fine mud works best. (The finer your materials, the finer the plaster). After mixing all of the ingredients in a large bucket or wheelbarrow, sift it with a window screen to remove pebbles, impurities etc. Now you are ready to apply the mud to your wall. You can do it either directly by hand or with a masonry cloth. For those of you with sensitive skin, a masonry towel is highly recommended because plaster can severely dry out your skin.

You probably will not be able to get the wall more than two inches thick before it starts to crack and clump. Let your first application dry, then you can make another coat if needed. If you decide to add more, it is recommended to use a longer fiber to give the mud more to grab onto. Before the mud dries all they way, consider giving it texture with a small stick. Experiment. The number of designs you can do is infinite. Draw something out on paper ahead of time. Better yet, buy a sheet of drywall and do a practice application first. If you plan to incorporate earthen accessories and artwork, make a separate batch of plaster (remember to add your wheat paste or lime putty) and design away. For example, you can make candle holders or mantles that are blended with and extend directly from the wall. If you need some help attaching your accessories to the earthen wall, try painting sodium silicate or casein over the plaster first.

Ready to get dirty! We hope so. Making an earthen wall is a very affordable way to bring new life and Mother Nature into your home, and is a creative, fun and easy project to share with a loved one. -Ry

Aug 5, 2009

Natural Burial: Build an Eco-friendly Coffin and Plan a Green Funeral

Have you considered natural burial options? From sustainably harvested bamboo to simple and inexpensive DIY coffins, there are eco-friendly options to consider when it comes to funeral planning.
You don’t have to break the bank in order to plan a thoughtful funeral. You may want to consider building or commissioning a simple, handmade coffin.
Does the phrase “homemade coffin” conjure up Faulkner-esque images of weirdo country bumpkins and creepy pine boxes in the backyard? Does it make you squirm?
What about, “So sorry your mom died. We’ll need a deposit of $5,000 for the casket, please.”

If the latter doesn’t settle well with you, then perhaps it’s time to adjust your thinking on the former.

Americans routinely spend thousands of dollars on funerals, and many caskets now cost $10,000 or more. And like most products on the market today, it may be hard to learn information such as how the product was made, where its materials were sourced, if any environmentally damaging materials went into it, or what kind of labor conditions its manufacturers faced. Especially given that you may have little time to make a decision, amidst difficult circumstances.

Building a coffin — or even hiring someone else to do it for you — is far less expensive than purchasing a ready-made model, and will provide you with a tremendous sense of accomplishment and self-reliance. Another significant benefit is that building a casket allows you to construct something beautiful that honors the deceased in a way no pre-fab model can.

If DIY is not your thing and you don’t choose to build or commission a handmade coffin, there are other ways to consider sustainability in difficult end-of-life decisions. If you opt for wood, one option is to look for caskets made from sustainably sourced lumber. Check for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo. Look for suppliers with FSC’s product search tool. You may also want to visit the websites below, which offer biodegradable caskets.
Do-It-Yourself Coffins

Here are a few coffin-building and funeral-planning resources from our Archive. Check them out for detailed casket building plans and a glimpse at the many design and materials options available to you. You’ll also find some inspiration on thoughtful ways to honor people when they pass. -Tabitha Alterman

Aug 4, 2009

Volvo Pairs Diesel and Hybrid Power in an Efficient Wagon

Volvo’s recent history is replete with hybrid-electric vehicles, from the groundbreaking high-speed turbine Environmental Concept Car (ECC) we drove back in 1993 to the C30-based ReCharge plug-in hybrid concept unveiled just two years ago. As cool as they’ve been, these vehicles have all remained in the concept or demonstration stage.

Now, thanks to a joint venture with Swedish energy company Vattenfall, Volvo is ready to put a plug-in hybrid into production by 2012. And as a diesel-electric hybrid, Volvo’s new plug-in will pack a pairing of high efficiency technologies offering the potential for a major jump on the competition.

Specific details of the production plug-in hybrid have yet to be announced, but the demonstration vehicle currently undergoing testing should give a good indication, as Volvo says the technology will be similar. The test vehicle is based on the V70 wagon, with a front-drive diesel engine supplemented by an electric motor driving the rear wheels. An 11.3 kWh lithium-ion battery pack has the capacity to drive the vehicle up to about 31 miles on a single charge.

Custom built for this test program by American battery maker Ener1, the battery takes four to six hours to charge when users plug in to a standard wall socket via a port just aft of the front wheel well. An additional charge port beneath the fuel cap is designed to interface with fast charging stations developed by Vattenfall, and will charge the battery in 1.5 to 2.5 hours.

A fleet of three such demonstration vehicles are being tested in Europe to allow gathering feedback about driving habits as well as real world charging needs. Under the terms of the joint venture, Volvo will manufacture the cars while Vattenfall will develop charging stations and supply the cars with electricity. Various charging concepts will be tested including high-speed home charging and stations in public places. Customers will be able to sign an agreement that sources electricity from renewable wind or hydropower.

Volvo’s environmental vision for the future, which it calls DRIVEe Towards Zero, denotes a suite of efficiency improving technologies including better aerodynamics and start/stop capability that’s offered on Volvo’s most fuel efficient vehicles. With innovations like a series production diesel plug-in hybrid, DRIVe could come to represent much more. -Ron Cogan

Tips for Preventing Vegetable Disease

One of the most effective things you can do to stop a plant disease from wiping out your organic vegetable garden is to prevent it from showing up in the first place. One of the many benefits of an organic vegetable garden is that it will inherently be more resistant to disease. So, if you start off with a good foundation, later on when an insect introduces a fungal spore in your garden, it has a much better chance of making it through. Using organic compost and nutritive sprays like seaweed, along with an adequate and resourceful watering schedule, does wonders in keeping plants and vegetables healthy enough to resist pesky diseases common on tomatoes, squash, strawberries and grapes. But before you reach that point, you have to plant your organic vegetable garden.

First, shop around for disease resistant seeds. There are some better seed catalogs out there. Although you might have to pay more than the seed packets you'll find at your local hardware store, it will be worth it. Secondly, if you plant a new garden every year, rotate the location of each crop.

After your organic garden is newly planted, consider using an organic mulch like wood chips. Not only will this keep the soil from drying out, which stresses plants and leaves them more vulnerable to disease, the mulch will limit the splashing of soil microbes on the plants themselves. If you want to protect against viruses as well, you may want to use aluminum covered mulch, which reflects light back to the sky, thus confusing passerby insects, which happen to be the primary contractors of plant diseases. As mentioned earlier, overly moist conditions in an organic gardening can help sustain fungi. In order to ensure your garden plants dry out, especially ground covering vines like cantaloupe and squash, use wide-spacing trellises for the plants to spread out upon and receive proper air ventilation/sun exposure.

Still, Mother Nature is the most powerful of all, and no organic vegetable garden is entirely immune to plant diseases. Leaf blemishes systemic infections and even viral diseases spread by insects are no strangers to vegetable gardens, so if and when they do show up, it is up to you, Dr. Greenthumb (yes, that's you) and provide the remedy before it's too late. And if you do see a plant go downhill fast or it just simply looks strange and oddly different than the others, it's likely the plant has a virus, and the safest route is to uproot the infected plant altogether.

If you are dealing with a fungal outbreak (leaf blemishes, white patches of powdery mildew), which is common on tomatoes, squash, strawberries and grapes, the very first thing you should do is prune the affected areas. Be sure to do so when the sun is out and foliage is dry, for there is a much greater chance of spreading fungi in wet conditions. Also, be sure to sterilize your pruning shears afterwards and to not put the diseased clippings in your compost pile.

It's also a good idea to treat your vegetable garden with an organic spray once a disease shows up. A milk bath solution of 1 cup of milk to two cups of water is a great disinfectant against fungal spores, while a solution of one quart of water and one teaspoon of baking soda (a few drops of liquid soap to help it stick) is also an effective homemade spray. If your garden needs something a little stronger, there are several organic sprays effective against plant diseases. Purchased online or in your local gardening supply store, these include Root Shield, Contans, Soil Gard, Mildew Cure and Serenade. -savewithgreen