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!!

Sep 28, 2009

Macrobiotics: Lifestyle and Diet

Raw, vegan, or South Beach Diet? None of these methods really caught my attention like macrobiotics did. Macro means big and biotic means life, so the term, “big view of life,” refers to a balanced, wholesome system of eating first coined by George Ohsawa in 1959. A Japanese philosopher, Ohsawa claimed to cure his own tuberculosis by applying Chinese and Japanese folkloric techniques. Subsequently, he consolidated his knowledge into a life practice, dietary regimen and philosophy. Further developed by Michio Kushi of the Kushi Institute, macrobiotics are widely used today by cancer patients and people around the world who wish to achieve physical, spiritual balance, eat locally and be synchronistic with the seasons.

Eating macrobiotically entails avoiding under- or over-cooked foods, foods that are out of season, alcohol, caffeine, etc. This restrictive regime in turn leads to generalized good health; it is naturally low in fat and dairy free without denying or depriving oneself of his or her favorite sweets, carbs, fruit, etc. Governed by the Taoist cosmological forces of yin and yang, the practice of macrobiotics advocates a balanced lifestyle. Yin is the expansive, feminine force of dispersion and night. Yang is the masculine power that gathers and holds things together. These two forces operate both antagonistically and constructively and the food that we eat contains in it the play of these two primary powers.

Foods that are too yin (nightshade vegetables such as tomatoes, green peppers, or eggplant, tropical fruit and foods that are too sweet) or yang (meat, coffee, dairy) are to be avoided or used sparingly; food that is well-integrated, moderate, and less extreme such as grains, legumes and local, seasonal fruits and vegetables are to be eaten regularly. The Macrobiotic diet consists of grains (short grain brown rice, spelt, soba noodles, oats in the winter), green leafy seasonal vegetables (seaweed, kale, Chinese cabbage, daikon, collards, carrots), miso soup and legumes (azuki beans, lentils, chickpeas). Fish, nuts, fruit and designated macrobiotic-balanced beverages and veggies are to be used occasional sparingly, while processed food, sweeteners, red meat, dairy and tropical foods are to be eliminated entirely. Following this dietary regimen is supposed to have long-lasting health benefits such as lower cholesterol, reduced heart disease, and fewer emotional extremes.

As a lover of sweet foods, ice cream, chocolate, coffee and alcohol, I’ve learned to turn to macrobiotic substitutes when cravings overwhelm me. This means using brown rice syrup, agave nectar or maple syrup instead of sugar. I’ve taken to slightly cooking fruit and nuts with syrup instead of indulging in overly yin, decadent desserts, and I’ve learned to drink sake instead of commercial, chemical-filled beer or wines. Amasake, a thick fermented rice beverage, is a particular favorite of mine. A milk and soy alternative, amasake is not too sweet, even while it remains savory and delicious! It can be found at Whole Foods, local health foods stores and Japanese supermarkets. Umeboshi plums or plum paste is another favorite. Umeboshi is an extremely alkalinizing condiment that can be added to stew, tea, or eaten alone. Some diseases are caused by overacidity pH imbalances in the body, and umeboshi, one of Japan’s best-kept secrets until now, is highly medicinal because it neutralizes that acid. Macrobiotics, therefore, is more than a system of eating but is rather an entire lifestyle to help us to live wholesomely and moderately. The American Cancer Society recommends a low fat, high fiber diet filled with vegetables and fruits; macrobiotics accords well with that diet. It has been used to treat cancer, cardiovascular diseases and other ailments by aligning the yin and yang forces. It helps repair organ deficiencies or excesses through proper diet, philosophy, and lifestyle. -greenandsave

Sep 27, 2009

EPA Researches Toxins in Playground Surfaces

The next time your mother tells you to turn off the TV and go play outside in the heat, here’s a good excuse for staying put in the air conditioning. Federal government studies have begun to reconsider the health effects of outdoor playground surfaces made from “tire crumb,” tiny pellets of ground up tires. The Environmental Protection Agency has endorsed the use of crushed up rubber tires for years, due to the cushioning they provide for playing fields and the recycling of tires. Now, the EPA’s own scientists are reinvestigating research that indicates prolonged exposure to shredded rubber can lead to a higher intake of carcinogens and chemicals.

Several studies done last month on the recycled-rubber surfaces in New York revealed no health or environmental problems, and synthetic turf companies state that laboratory conditions do not reflect actual conditions. Tests were also done on fields for lead and other toxins, but none were found. Still, the EPA cited that there were gaps in much of the data, and that further testing needed to be done. Communities nationwide have been raising concern about children breathing, touching, or ingesting lead, benzene, zinc and other metals and chemicals. Older fields are more likely to kick up lead particles, and chemicals from recycled tires differ depending on the tire manufacturer. This makes for debatable outcomes, since most sample sizes are of just a few playgrounds.

The new information is not enough for the EPA to recall all synthetic playing fields. The tire crumb turf has decreased playground injuries, and the research is meant to provide reassurance, not create panic. Even so, results from the year-long study are to come out within the next few weeks, and a failed health report could spell disaster for many. The National Recreation and Parks Association and the Consumer Product Safety Commission could have their credibility shaken, since they made the recommendation of using scrap tire mulch below the play set of President Obama’s daughters at the White House. The EPA still needs to look over all of the evidence before making a decision, but until then you might want to stick to playing on grass fields. -greenandsave

Sep 26, 2009

Chelsea FC 1 Of London’s Green 500

The Blues are going green. Chelsea Football Club is the first and only soccer team to agree to the Mayor of London’s Green500 campaign and has big plans to reduce its carbon footprint by at least 10 percent over the next two years. Mayor Boris Johnson presented awards at the first Green500 and Better Buildings Partnership awards on June 11 to London organizations in the areas of education, arts, sports, local government, transportation and commercial property.

Chelsea, which hosted the event and received a Silver Award, feels that they can not only make a difference within their own organization, but also can advocate eco-responsibility to the entire Chelsea community of fans. Among the other honorees were the London School of Economics and the Natural History Museum, which both received a Platinum Award for implementing a “zero-waste” program and recycling bins and investing in a new energy system and using two hybrid cars, respectively.

Chelsea has already undertaken several environmental renovations to its Cobham training facility where the squad practices. A new turf roof with brass cladding will help keep temperature constant, along with an automatic curtain system that opens and closes depending on sunlight. A castle-like moat around the building will help direct sunlight into the basement to reduce energy consumption. New ventilation units capture wasted heat and cold air and recycle it back through the system, and motion-detection lights have been installed throughout the facility. New drink fridges will be time-operated to save energy.

The team will now wash its uniforms at the practice site in new water-saving washing machines, and will use colder temperatures to save energy. Other water-saving techniques include installing a water management system for toilets such as motion-detectors and foaming devices, and groundwater and runoff will be collected to irrigate the playing field. Cobham has its own waste recycling program, and recycles 85 percent of its waste.

Chelsea encourages its staff to walk, bike, or take public transportation to work, and has eliminated parking for private vehicles to create bicycle parking spots. Club employees are also encouraged to switch off office televisions, computers, lights, and to not print emails unnecessarily.

But Chelsea is striving to go beyond the workplace by asking its members to act sustainably at home as well. It is asking fans to take public transportation or bike to games and club functions, and will provide free train rides to away games. Chelsea hopes its fans become environmentally aware of their actions, and encourages followers to buy low-emission light bulbs, turn off televisions and lights, and turn down thermostats at home. The club knows that in order to make a large difference in the environment it will need the cooperation of staff, players, fans, and partners. Chelsea is looking to be a leader in widespread collaboration of going green … Now, if only we could get everyone to agree that Frank Lampard is a far better center midfielder than Steven Gerrard! -greenandsave

Sep 25, 2009

Chicken Manure to Power 90,000 Homes in the Netherlands!

Here at Inhabitat we love to see innovative reuses for organic waste, and so we’re perpetually fascinated by the potential of poo to be used as a renewable source of energy. Last week Dutch agriculture minister Gerda Verburg announced a groundbreaking development for the field as she unveiled the world’s largest biomass power plant to run exclusively on poultry manure. The plant will convert a third of the nation’s chicken waste into energy while running at a capacity of 36.5 megawatts – enough to power 90,000 homes!

Part of the promise of biomass energy lies in its two-for-one benefit: it generates energy while disposing of waste. We’ve covered poo power schemes in the past, but never on such a massive scale!

Situated in Moerdijk, the 150 million euro plant was constructed by the Dutch multi-utility company Delta. It will convert roughly 440,000 tons of chicken manure into energy annually, generating more than 270 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year. The plant also addresses a key environmental problem in the Netherlands: “managing the vast excess stream of chicken manure, which, until today, had to be processed at a high cost”.

Delta’s biomass plant has even been described as being carbon neutral, since it will prevent the manure from sitting in fields and seething greenhouse gases into the air. Once methane from the poultry waste has been extracted and ignited, the left over ash will be used to make fertilizers and other agricultural products.

Peter Boerma, the CEO of Delta states:
The biomass power plant is one of the strategic components of our energy mix, which includes a wide range of renewable sources, as well as nuclear power. This diverse energy mix is needed to meet the ever increasing demand for electricity, but for us, building a smart and clean fuel sourcing strategy is more than meeting the consumer’s demand, it is a matter of meeting our social obligations. -inhabitat

A World Without Plastic Bags

It's difficult to imagine a world without plastic bags. For most of the post-baby boom era, the light but indestructible bags found at malls, grocery stores, and convenience stores are as familiar as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

But plastic bags only became commonplace during the 1970s and 1980s. Our love affair with the "paper or plastic" option, however passionate, has been an extremely brief one.

Which is why I've found claims that the plastic bag is absolutely necessary a bit ridiculous.

A few weeks ago, progressives in Seattle bowed their heads in disappointment as voters shot down an initiative to pose a 25-cent tax on plastic bags throughout the city. Environmentalist lawmakers in Philadelphia also managed to lose grip on a similar bill as it fell in late August.

Though the concept isn't a new one. San Francisco proposed a similar measure in 2007 before it opted for a ban on the bags altogether; New York law requires grocery stores to sell reusable bags and provide recycling bins for plastic. All the same, the "bag tax" has sparked a remarkable amount of controversy in cities across the U.S.

There have been multiple arguments posed against a bag tax, many of which focus on the economic impact that such a measure might have on society’s less opulent. Opponents, led largely by interest groups like the American Chemical Council, argue that a tax on plastic bags would effectively mean a tax on the poor. Reusable shopping totes are expensive, they claim, and charging a quarter per bag could marginalize individuals on fixed incomes during an already tough economy.

While it's true that reusable totes have become something of an expensive fashion trend in recent years, basic bags can be purchased at grocery stores for often less than one dollar. The cost of purchasing a few of these bags would offset the 25-cent bag "tax" in only a few shopping trips.

The idea that a bag tax would cripple an already slowing economy is an argument that has been used across the board to support dying industries. In order to preserve jobs, the argument goes, citizens should support ineffectual and outdated technologies and products, many of which harm the environment.

What is rarely considered is that many of these dying industries and products could be revised into new upstart sectors that would provide new jobs and career opportunities. The plastic bag has had its run; it's time for consumers to move on.

The simple truth is this: by abandoning the plastic bag, big cities can lead the way toward a greener consumer mentality. If opponents are concerned about the economic impact that taxes or bans might have on the city’s poor, then legislators might consider initiating a program where individuals can donate reusable bags for distribution to low-income areas. Grocery stores can work together with reusable bag manufacturers to negotiate lower prices for bags to reduce the impact felt by cost-conscious consumers.

Creative solutions have yet to be examined in this debate over plastic. If lawmakers reconsider a tax or ban on this plastic, then a cleaner future will be in the bag. -Sam Koch/greenandsave

Atayne: Eco Friendly Athletic Wear

Atayne takes a new point of view towards creating better people with better performance on a better planet by producing high performance athletic gear made from trash.

Atayne's performance wear is made from recycled polyester from plastic bottles and cocona (activated carbon) from coconut shells. Men's and Women's wear come in two designs: "reduce. reuse. recycle. run" and "run hard. tread lightly" in both t-shirts and long sleeves. The clothing offers moisture wicking, UV protecting, odor controlling, and temperature regulating components.

Atayne is aware of their environmental footprint but the company wants to "always beat yesterday" continuing to take strides to lessen their impact. To improve performance, products help wearers perform at their best, make a healthy profit, and drive a positive change in the industry. To improve people, Atayne provides a world-class work environment, partners with similar businesses, avoids harmful chemicals and materials, and provides support to local and global communities. To improve the planet, Atayne operates under a model that reduces energy, water, harmful chemicals, emissions and waste, eliminates the use of counterfeit materials, and supports and promotes environmental preservation.

With clothing starting at $38, Atayne is offering a $5 cash back to customers this summer who donate used polyester-based performance garments.

To find a retailer nearest you or make an online purchase, visit www.atayne.com/index.html -greenandsave

Sep 12, 2009

Bamboo Bicycle Built for You

Bicycles are a very sustainable way to get around, and they can save you a lot of money by removing fossil fuels from the transit equation, however two Colorado State University students have recently developed a new prototype for a bicycle whose frame is made entirely of bamboo.

Attending the Colorado State University’s Global Social and Sustainability Enterprise program, Jacob Castillo and John McKinney are MBA candidates who sought to make practical use of a species of bamboo that grows in Mexico. After determining that the bamboo was not big enough for home construction as they had initially planned, they turned their sights on making bicycles a more sustainable enterprise. The production of the bamboo bicycles has taken into consideration the whole life of the bicycle, and allows for composting when your riding days are over.

There is some steel in the bicycle’s handlebars, and to connect some of the tubing, but the primary ingredient is the bamboo. After testing their product, it turns out that the bamboo they cultivated from Mexico was just as strong as steel, with a weight similar to aluminum. Further tests are necessary to determine the long term durability of the bamboo bicycle, but the bicycle has a greatly reduced carbon footprint, as compared to steel bicycles. The production of steel bicycles causes a releasing of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere; while conversely, the bamboo plant grows incredibly fast and draws considerable amounts of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

Castillo and McKinney hope to have their product on the market in a short while, however testing is still underway. They estimate the cost of one of their bikes at about $850. -greenandsave

Guess What’s Making You Fat Now!

Most people know that a good diet and regular exercise will keep the weight off while delivering an overall better quality of life; however, there are three things that also need to be monitored in order to make sure the weight stays off and more serious health risks do not arise.

Chemicals

The first thing to think about is chemicals.

The word obesogens is rarely heard in the news, but scientists claim that these “endocrine disrupting chemicals” could be a major problem for your diet if ingested too regularly. These chemicals are mistaken for hormones by the body and messes with our metabolism. The endocrine system regulates the body’s reproduction, development and metabolism and the chemicals known as obesogens, even when ingested in minute concentrations can throw our whole system out of whack.

These chemicals include bisphenol A, which is used in some plastics and the linings of soda cans; pesticides, which can be used as a predictor for childhood obesity, increasing the likelihood; dioxins, which rain down on areas close to smokestacks and other large emission factories; and phthalates, which are found in plenty of plastics, fragrances and other consumer goods. The last one on the list there has been banned in many children’s products as they have been proven to lower boys’ testosterone levels.

Stress

The next biggest problem to maintaining a healthy lifestyle is stress.

While studies are still trying to hammer down the details of the stress-weight gain cycle, there already appears to be evidence that stress and weight gain are mutually reinforcing, whereas weight gain may lead to stress and vice versa. And as many of us know, the most stressful of times prompt the desire to reach for comfort foods, which are most often chock full of fats and sugars.

Sleep

Finally, to stay healthy and in a good weight range, one must manage their sleep habits.

Scientists are still grappling for the reason why, but they are sure that those who lack enough hours of deep restless sleep are more likely to pack on the pounds. Losing sleep affects the metabolism, and may make one feel hungry when they do not need to eat. It has been noted that when we do not get enough sleep, our bodies metabolize more lean muscle and less fat, meaning that even with exercise, we may not be able to shed those unwanted pounds without a proper night’s sleep. The Body Mass Index has been shown to increase dramatically when one’s sleep is interrupted or deprived. Experts say that 6.5 to 9 hours of sleep per night is optimal, depending on your own body chemistry.

It is not too difficult to manage these three things in order to remain healthy, as organic foods and natural ingredients will ensure that your body’s metabolism will continue working the way it was intended. And, as for stress and sleep, that is up to you to manage your personal life and strike a good balance between work and play to give yourself a proper period for regeneration and to maintain a positive mental state. -greenandsave

Sep 10, 2009

China to Build World’s Largest Solar Plant

Although China’s per-capita carbon dioxide emissions are relatively low, their giant population makes them the number one country in the world when it comes to total carbon dioxide emissions.

Hopefully, the world’s largest solar plant will be the start of the ‘one-eighty’ that China needs to pull in order to meet their goal of generating 20% of their power from renewable sources by 2020. The plant, which will be built by the American firm, First Solar, will produce two gigawatts, which is more than 20 time more the output of the current largest solar farm and enough to power 3 million homes! Ironically, the soon to be second largest solar farm is being built by China, but is in Portugal.

It will take 5 years to build the giant farm. If the plant were built in the U.S., it would cost around $5-$7 Billion, but First Solar thinks they can do it cheaper in China. The technology will most likely be the latest and greatest in solar, thin film. The plant, which will be located in Inner Mongolia, will initially generate more than 10 times the current Chinese solar capacity.

The funding for the project will come from China’s $586 billion stimulus package released late last year. $70 billion of the package was specifically set aside for improvements to the electrical grid, which would include a solar farm like this one. Although China chose an American company to build the plant, the panels will most likely be operated, constructed, and possibly manufactured by the Chinese.

First Solar, a leader in the solar industry, started out in the business of manufacturing, but recently as large commercial projects have become more and more economically viable, has expanded into the creation of large solar farms. Recently, an agreement was set in place to provide California with 1,100 megawatts of electricity created from three large solar farms.

Just how much land will the solar plant cover? 25 square miles! -Russ Sparks/greenandsave

Leonardo Dicaprio: Making Hollywood, and the World, Greener

Who is Leonardo DiCaprio?
A Successful Acting Career and More

Leonardo DiCaprio launched into the international spotlight with the international blockbuster "Titanic". As leading man Jack Dawson, DiCaprio brought millions of crazed (and mostly female) fans back to the theater time and time again. He went on to star in films such as Gangs of New York and The Aviator, both Martin Scorsese films. His performances have been critically acclaimed, and he even won a Golden Globe for his performance in The Aviator.

Born on November 11, 1974, DiCaprio was the son of a legal secretary mother and comic book distributor father.


Most Passionate About...
Global Warming: "the number one environmental challenge"

One look at DiCaprio's eco website will tell you that he is concerned about the whole of earth's environmental problems, rather than just a few. The home page alone advertises campaigns to stop junk mail, recycle plastic bags, and support world wild life alone. DiCaprio knows that each link in the environmental chain matters for our ultimate survival.
The 11th Hour

In 2007 DiCaprio released The 11th Hour, a documentary which he wrote, produced and narrated. The 11th Hour documents the negative effect human activities have had on the planet, and just how little time we have to correct our actions if we want to avoid disaster. DiCaprio has also worked closely with former Vice President Al Gore on the issue of global warming, and has denounced it as "the number one environmental challenge" we face today.

Leonardo's Chairites and Projects
The Leonardo Di Caprio Foundation

The first of DiCaprio's projects was the Leonardo DiCaprio foundation, founded in 1998. The foundation serves to promote all kinds of environmental causes and campaigns, from global warming to sustainability and making fresh water available in 3rd world countries. The foundation also works closely with several other organizations including Global Green, of which DiCaprio is a chairman. The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation was the launching organization for the 11th Hour film and campaign as well.

The 11th Hour

In 2007 DiCaprio released his eye-opening documentary, The 11th Hour. While the film was warmly received and had a great impact on environmentalists and critics alike, DiCaprio didn't want to just leave things at that. So he launched the 11th Hour Action campaign, which is supported by 11thhouraction.com. At this website people from all over the globe can get together to share ideas for sustainability on a global and local level. Action groups communicate using the site and share ideas with people around the world.

Other Projects

Leonardo also acts as a chairman for Global Green USA, an organization which focuses on sustainable living on a global scale. DiCaprio is also producing the new Discovery Channel show "Eco-town", which follows the reconstruction of Greensburg, Kansas after it was destroyed by a tornado. The town of 1500 people will be rebuilt with green living in mind and will serve as a model to the world of how green design can work on a real day to day basis.

How Leonardo Walks the Talk
DiCaprio as Celebrity Role Model

As an extremely popular celebrity Leonardo DiCaprio has many eyes on him, both fans and other actors. He sets the pace for all of Hollywood by eschewing private charter planes and flying commercially, for which he was recently commended. He also drives a hybrid vehicle, and has convinced other celebrities such as Orlando Bloom and Penelope Cruz to do likewise. In DiCaprio's home you can find green innovation everywhere, and he even bought an island off the coast of Belize with the intent of making it into an eco resort.

Sometimes fame and money can turn people into monsters, but Leonardo DiCaprio is a shining example of how they can be turned into a positive force for change. Hopefully, all of Hollywood will follow suit and help us achieve a cleaner tomorrow. -supergreenme

Sep 8, 2009

Easy Indoor Composting: Bokashi + Worm Bin

Compost indoors without overburdening your worm bin.

So, I had this compost problem. During the warm months, I add food scraps to my outdoor compost pile (against the law in my city -- we're only supposed to compost food waste. It's a dumb rule) and they decompose very quickly without attracting unwanted vermin. But, during the winter, those same scraps, even buried in the pile, serve as a veritable "Hey rats, eat here!" sign. It's gross, and it is a dead giveaway to local officials that I'm composting food. Busted.

I had to come up with a solution for winter food composting, so I got a worm bin. Worm bins are awesome, but I found that our family was generating more food waste than the worms could eat, and that they really didn't like certain things, such as citrus, pieces of potato peel that were sprouting, or too many eggshells. And, of course, I couldn't add bones or dairy to the worm bin. What's a green-minded girl to do?

The answer is: get a Bokashi bucket. Jasmin talked a little about Bokashi in her post about indoor composting. The worst part of Bokashi is the price for a bucket. Good news on that front: you can make your own Bokashi bucket for pennies.

Once you have your Bokashi bucket and some Bokashi bran, start adding food to it. Go ahead and add citrus, bones, dairy -- whatever. Fill the bucket and let it ferment for two weeks. At the end of two weeks, add some of it to your worm bin. You'll find that the worms will seem to steer clear of it for a day or two. Don't worry, they'll come around. In no time, they will be all over the fermented Bokashi compost, and will devour it before you know it. Add another load of Bokashi compost in a new section of the bin once the first batch is almost gone. Repeat as often as your worms finish off a section of Bokashi compost.

This system will work best if you have a couple of Bokashi buckets. This way, you can be adding food waste to one bucket while you're slowly feeding already-fermented waste from the other bucket to your worms. And if you have a couple of worm bins, that's good, too -- they'll take care of your regular food scraps plus the Bokashi compost that much faster.

I love using the Bokashi and worm bin together because it creates a closed system. It's perfect for apartment dwellers who want to compost, but run out of space in the worm bin (or have no idea what to do with the Bokashi once it's fermented.) And it's great for those of us who want to do the green thing, but have to deal with ordinances and HOA by-laws that are anything but. -Colleen Vanderlinden/planetgreen-discovery

Make a Braided, Fringed Bracelet from a T-Shirt

Upcycle an old tee into a pretty cuff.

I'm pretty certain white t-shirts are stain magnets. Any white cotton tee that makes its way into my closet somehow ends up stained within a month, and though I can often banish stains naturally, sometimes there's just no hope.

There are tons of ways to find new uses for t-shirts by upcycling them into scarves , clothing patches or rags for cleaning. But fashion lovers who can't bear to let go of their fave threads will love this DIY braided, fringed bracelet (or cuff, depending on your definition).

Difficulty Level: Easy

1. Start Stripping
Lay the shirt flat and cut along the side seams; remove the bottom hem. Working up from the hem, cut 12 strips of fabric, each one-half inch wide, from the t-shirt. Also cut one narrow strip, about half the width of the others.

2. A Braid-y Bunch
Gather three strips and knot them together, leaving some extra at the end for fringe. Braid to the end and tie another knot to hold it for the moment. As an alternative, you can use clothespins to temporarily hold the braids. Repeat with the remaining nine strips. Bunch the four braids together. At the mid-point of the bunch, tie the narrow strip of fabric around the bunch, knot and trim the excess fabric. This tie will keep the braids together while you're working, and it helps stabilize the bracelet when you're wearing it.

3. Tied Up
Unknot the knots along one end and begin tying each strip to its adjacent strip. This will keep the braids from becoming unraveled, and secure one braid to the next. Repeat at the opposite end.

4. The Big Finish
To finish off the bracelet, tie together a strip from the middle of each end; repeat with strips at the far left and far right. Slip the cuff on, positioning the fringe along the outside edge of your wrist. -Cara Smusiak/planetgreen-discovery

Sep 6, 2009

Natural Deodorant – Banishing BO the Green Way

Problem

Aluminum
While there is not yet conclusive proof that there is a link between Aluminum and Alzheimer’s, why take a chance when you don’t have to. Aluminum is at best an irritant for those who have skin conditions.

Parabens
Synthetic preservatives that have been linked to various cancers, parabens should be avoided in any personal care product.

Triclosan
Present in many antibacterial products, including deodorants, Triclosan increases antibiotic resistance.

Fragrances
Most fragrances contain phthalates, known hormone disruptors. The best fragrance on a deodorant is no fragrance at all.

Solution Green Living Tips

No More Roll On
Roll on deodorants promote better absorbency of formaldehyde.

Try to Buy Organic
Organic deodorants are more of a “must-have” than your average personal care product because deodorant is absorbed into the body more easily. Organic deodorants also won’t make a huge dent in your pocketbook, where other organic personal care products will. Choose a product like a stick deodorant – it may be twice the cost of your usual gel, but it will last twice as long AND be organic.

Super Green Me Tips

Get Stoned
While initially expensive, natural deodorant stones last forever and contain alum salts which are less irritating to the skin than aluminum chloride, plus they do not generally contain all of the other irritants and petroleum distillates that regular deodorants do. They are available at your local natural health foods store or online. Keep in mind that this will stop odour, but not sweat.

Make Your Own (1 part cornstarch, 1 part baking soda. Apply with a puff after a shower or bath while the skin is still damp. Cheap, effective, and no packaging.)

Effectiveness / Result

The Facts
The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reports that some laboratory rats and mice developed cancer when implanted with polyethylene under the skin.

Esters of parabens have been found in studies of tissue resected from breast cancer tumours – from a paper published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology. -supergreenme

How to Green Your Telecommute

Tips to make working from home even greener.

Michael has already explored whether telecommuting is really green - and the resounding answer was yes. After all, transportation is one of the biggest work-related impacts - and even telecommuting two and a half days a week can save the average worker $1700 a year. (And that amounts to a lot of gasoline and a lot of CO2 not going up in smoke!)

But once you've made telecommuting part of your schedule, or even found a work-from-home job - what can you do to make sure your telecommute is as green as it can possibly be? Here are a few ideas:
  • Watch the HVAC: If you're the only one staying at home, do you really need to cool the whole house in summer, or heat it in winter? Why not use a fan in your office, or wear a few extra layers?
  • Combine Trips Out: Every home worker needs to escape to the coffee shop occasionally. But if you're driving into town, try and consolidate your "days out" with other errands - like buying groceries or visiting friends. Or you could even catch a ride with a family member or partner who works away from home.
  • Avoid the Vacation Home: I have met home workers who get all excited because they can now work from their second home in France for the summer. It might be pleasant, but if telecommuting encourages more global mobility - you can bet the carbon savings will be lost pretty quick.
  • Eat Green: One of my favorite things about working from home is that I can fix my own lunches. And I often make use of last night's dinner. So take advantage of it. Plan some tasty, easy and green lunches - and you can even experiment with solar cooking.
  • Sit in the Corner: Do you really need a dedicated home office? If you can make it work, using a corner of a guest room can save space - and saving space means we can all live in smaller houses.
  • Use a Laptop: Does anyone use a desktop anymore? I often think that an undervalued aspect of the home worker is the fact that they are more likely to use a laptop - and a laptop uses a fraction of the energy of a desktop.
  • Go Virtual: If you are working for a company with physical offices, see if you can encourage the entire outfit to work from home. Saving money on office space is good for the bottom line - but if we start creating an economy that needs less office buildings to house workers, and less roads to get them from home to the office, that's when telecommuting will really hit the green pay-dirt.
-planetgreen.discovery

Sep 4, 2009

Don't Let Wind Turbines Ruin Your Weather Report

Don't let a wind turbine fool you into thinking a tornado's headed your way.
There's been a strange phenomenon occurring lately--weathermen have been predicting violent storms and tornadoes in the Midwest with increasing frequency. In some cases, they put out the storm warning, and residents in the allegedly at-danger areas head for the basements and brace themselves.

And then . . . nothing. No storm. The alert gets quickly called off.

You see, with more concentrated wind farms springing up around the country, all those spinning blades are creating the impression of storms on weather software and detection instruments. And the problem is still growing, as more wind turbines take root--it's already afflicted states across the central corridor of the US. AP reports:

"The phenomenon has affected several National Weather Service radar sites in different parts the country, even leading to a false tornado alert near Dodge City, Kansas, in the heart of Tornado Alley. In Des Moines, Iowa, the weather service received a frantic warning from an emergency worker who had access to Doppler radar images."

So far, all alerts have been called off swiftly, and have created no major complications. Adding to the problem is the fact that an ideal site for a wind farm is the same as an ideal spot for weather measuring instruments--so there's naturally a conflict.

So what can you do? Simple--find out if and where the wind farms in your area are located, and take that into account next time a severe storm is reported in your area. It's always better to be safe than sorry, of course, so if the storm is predicted to be nearby, best not take any chances. -planetgreen.discovery

Sep 3, 2009

Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and combined heat & power

The universe contains many mysteries. A big one for me is: Why doesn’t the United States use more combined heat and power (CHP)?

It requires an energy geek, of course, to even ask that question. Most of the world knows nothing about CHP, even when referenced by its other name: cogeneration. So it was heartening to see the Department of Energy’s recent effort to educate the public in a Dec. 1 report: “Combined Heat and Power: Effective Energy Solutions for a Sustainable Future.” http://www1.eere.energy.gov/industry/distributedenergy/

What’s the problem with CHP?
People are unaware of it – even though it’s been around for 100 years. It could benefit from a marketing makeover, especially a name change. Combined heat and power does not roll off the tongue easily like solar and wind, nor does it evoke an image of efficiency and greenness.

Here is a quick definition: CHP systems are a form of distributed energy (like solar) built close to where they are used. They generate electricity and use the excess heat that is produced to cool or warm the building. So a CHP system uses one fuel to create two resources – power and usable heat. As a result, CHP plants are about 35% more efficient than typical generators.

“CHP may not be widely recognized outside industrial, commercial, institutional, and utility circles, but it has quietly been providing highly efficient electricity and process heat to some of the most vital industries, largest employers, urban centers, and campuses in the United States,” says the report.

It appears the United States may finally embrace the resource. The DOE report proposes that 20% of US generation capacity come from CHP, up from today’s 8.6%. Because CHP is so efficient, its greater use would mean far less greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, the report finds that under the 20% scenario, the US could avoid over 60% of its projected increase in carbon dioxide emissions between now and 2030.

Several states are putting policies in place to help advance CHP, particularly energy efficiency portfolio standards. These standards require that energy efficiency make up a certain percentage of the state’s mix of electric resources. Fourteen states allow use of CHP to meet the standard.

CHP also should get a boost from a new 10% federal tax incentive signed into law as part of the financial recovery package in early October. The credit applies to small and medium-sized CHP projects.

That still leaves the problem of the brand name. Suggestions welcome! Preferably something that could make combined heat and power the “Brangelina” of the energy world. -Elisa Wood

Top Hybrid Cars You Can Buy to Get the Best Tax Break Possible

Green Tax Breaks: Bring home one of these hybrids, save up to $3,400.

It's one of the most popular green tax creditsthere is--buying a hybrid car this year means you're eligible to save up to $3,400. But its popularity is also a problem--the tax incentive was designed to phase out after 60,000 credits were applied to each model of hybrid car. This means that the tax credit for prevalent hybrids like the Prius were snapped up in no time.

But fear not--there are other models still valid, many that are cheaper than the Prius anyways (plus, the Prius is played out by now, right?).

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid
For instance, you can buy an underrated 2010 Ford Fusion and still qualify for $3,400 off this year. Its MSRP starts at around $27,000, meaning you can save more than an eighth off the price tag with the rebate. It's a well-reviewed car, and rated 2 out of 23 by US News in its class. It gets 41 MPG--better than the Camry or Accord Hybrids. It'll save you boatloads in fuel, and you're supporting an American car company to boot.

2010 Mercury Milan
The Milan stands neck and neck with the Ford as an affordable hybrid option that doesn't lack for quality in the slightest. Also listed for $27,000, and also making you eligible for the $3,400 tax credit, this sedan is well worth a look. It's consistently rated as one of the top hybrid sedans, and gets mileage comparable to the Prius (41 MPG). In fact, it's truly a tossup between the Fusion and the Milan--you'll just have to see which one you prefer personally if you're interested in an affordable, top-notch hybrid sedan.

2009 Saturn Aura Hybrid
The Saturn Aura is a slick looking car with a lower list price ($26,000) than the Fusion--but it's tax credit is lower, too ($1,550). Still, it's a sizable chunk of cash that makes it worth considering opting for an Aura. It's a good looking car, though at 34 MPG, the fuel mileage is a little disappointing for a hybrid. Still, it's got big trunk space, comfy cabin interior, and high safety scores. Though it may not be the top dog, it's still a hybrid worth considering.

For now, these three sedans are your best bet at nabbing an affordable, clean car with a little tax break bonus. There are other options but most are hybrid SUVs with unimpressive fuel economy and comparatively high fuel emissions. But hybrid's always better than not.

So check out these three hybrids if you're in the market--just remember that supplies are limited, and after 60,000 have sold, the rebate is off the table. -planetgreen.discovery