December 2012 - Our Daily Green

Monday, December 31, 2012

Resolution Time: 5 tips to generate less trash

Our Daily Green is going to be the first to confess, we slacked on trash the past few weeks. We succumbed to convenience more often than not and found ourselves with a full trash can. We'd give ourselves a 50% score, which is not particularly successful when we aim for 80%.

Some of the faux pas we made are easily remedied with pre-planning. At the time when we are all making resolutions, here are a few of our own.

1. Carry a coffee cup or water bottle to refill. It's embarrassing how many Styrofoam cups we used the past few weeks at different social events simply to quench our thirst.

2.  Get some bags that fold small enough to keep in a purse. It's not enough to put them in the car if you don't carry them in the store. And bags aren't just for grocery shopping anymore. The mall, the pharmacy, the carry out place.

3. Gifts and gift wrap. I actually did better this time around. I decided that the fancy boxes were pretty enough on their own and reused ribbon from years past. I reused tissue paper to wrap things, and I also gave a lot of gifts that were actually gently used items that we no longer used. And yes, I told them what we were doing and complimented their gifts with something else, but it was nice to know that those items found second lives with other family members who will appreciate them. Find a home for working items that you no longer use.

4. Food waste. Stop shopping when you're hungry. Shop when you need to restock. Challenge yourself how long you can go without going to the store. Learn to bake bread so you don't run in the store for "one" thing and return with 15. Eat what you already have in the house before you buy more. That may mean getting creative with ingredients. With the internet, there is no reason you cannot find a recipe for anything you need to use up. Type in 3 ingredients that you have on hand and you will find hundreds of ideas and recipes for those ingredients.

5. Cancel catalogs. If you shopped and ordered something online this season, you are back on a catalog list. Cancel it. Even if you have before, your purchase authorized the company to put you back on their list. So cancel. Take some time to keep those catalogs from coming into your house in 2013.

Trash Stats -- Waste in America






Saturday, December 29, 2012

From Food & Water Watch: The Economic Costs of Food Monopolies

The Economic Costs of Food Monopolies

Thursday, December 27, 2012

University Research, Sold Out (courtesy of Other Words)

The energy industry and Big Agribusiness are distorting academic research by wielding corporate influence

Wenonah Hauter
In 1862, the federal government created the land-grant university system to produce critical agricultural research. Since then, America has relied on these schools to inform and guide independent scientific advances in areas like food production and energy development.
Yet public funding for that kind of research has eroded over recent decades, and these schools have turned to corporations to augment their budgets. The consequences of increasing dependence on profit-driven research in academia are becoming troublingly clear. The recent exposure of numerous sham scientific reports generated by biased individuals at supposedly objective institutions should draw intense public scrutiny to this new era of corporate-funded science.
While drug makers and other industries have spent heavily in academia for years, a relatively new player in corporate-influenced “research” is the natural gas business. Awareness has grown recently of the serious environmental and health dangers associated with fracking — the highly controversial drilling process that has opened up millions of acres of domestic land to shale gas production by blasting water and toxic chemicals underground at great pressures. In response, the industry has become extremely aggressive in its attempts to influence academic reporting on the subject.
corporate research university donations
The Dark Side of Corporate Research, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib
Consider the State University of New York at Buffalo and its now-defunct Shale Resources and Society Institute. In May, the institute released a report claiming that improving technologies and updated regulations were making fracking safe. But to SUNY Buffalo faculty, students, and community members, something smelled fishy. The nonprofit Public Accountability Initiative, based in Buffalo, scrutinized the report and did some additional digging. What it found was alarming.
Despite the report’s conclusion stating the contrary, an analysis of its data actually showed that gas fracking is causing more environmental contamination than ever. Even more telling, researchers determined that the report’s authors had all done previous work directly funded by the oil and gas industry, and that significant portions of the report had been copied directly from a previous industry-funded paper.
Under intense pressure from the university community, including the Board of Trustees, the institute that had released the skewed report was shut down by SUNY Buffalo’s president in November.
An isolated incident? No. The University of Texas at Austin announced on December 6 that the head of its Energy Institute had resigned over allegations of conflicts of interest, ethics violations, and industry influence regarding another pro-fracking study its institute had released in February. In the fallout, the university is currently updating its conflict-of-interest policies.
As for agriculture, corporate influence now appears to be routine. Beginning in 1982 with the Bayh-Dole Act, our land-grant schools have been encouraged to partner heavily with the private sector. By 2010, almost a quarter of all the grant money for agricultural research came from industry, with companies like Walmart, Monsanto, Cargill, Tyson Foods, Coca-Cola, and McDonald’s receiving unencumbered access to and exerting great influence on many campuses nationwide.
The integrity of the “science” produced under this funding regime is troubling, but not surprising. The nutrition school at the University of California, Davis is researching the health benefits of chocolate with funding from the Mars candy corporation. A study supported by the National Soft Drink Association found that soda consumption by school children wasn’t linked to obesity. An Egg Nutrition Center-sponsored study determined that frequent egg consumption didn’t increase cholesterol levels.
More broadly, corporate funding steers agricultural research toward the goals of industry. It discourages independent analyses that might be critical of the many hormones used in industrial meat and poultry production, and genetically engineered crops that are now widely grown.
With the health and safety of our families and our communities hanging in the balance, it’s time to demand more transparency and less corporate influence from our research universities.
Wenonah Hauter is the executive director of Food & Water Watch.www.foodandwaterwatch.org
Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org)
Creative CommonsContent from Other Words is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative 3.0 License.





Wednesday, December 19, 2012

3 Lessons for Gracious Living in a Stuff-Filled Season (reprint from YES! magazine)

Last year, YES! publisher Fran Korten shared her efforts to move more stuff out of her house than into it. With the season of “stuff” upon us again, here’s what she’s learned about unstuffing her life.

by 

Christmas Card photo by Lauren Manning
Photo by Lauren Manning.
A year ago I wrote for YES! about my project to clean my home of all my unwanted stuff. I had come to feel claustrophobic in my own house, burdened by the clutter in every closet, drawer, and cupboard.
So I pledged that each week I would take more stuff out than I brought in. I looked for ways each thing could be best used and found lots of opportunities. When the wildlife shelter put out a call for bedding, I unloaded a box of old sheets and towels. When a friend ran a benefit garage sale, I donated paintings, a candleholder, and an armchair.
Gradually, the mess has melted away, and with it my sense of overwhelm. Here are three things I learned about how to feel at ease in my home and avoid the small frustrations of not being able to find things—in short, how to live graciously.

1. Know each thing that you have.

In my case, I had five boxes from the move my family had made years ago that we had never even opened. I realized that if I don’t know what I have, it can’t possibly meet my needs. I opened the boxes, got rid of what I didn’t want, and now can find what is useful. In the process, I cleared space on my shelf for other things I actually use.

2. Keep only what you want. 

There are lots of reasons for keeping things, including for their sentimental value. But one really bad reason is this: “Even though I haven’t used this meat grinder in the last five years, I just may need it someday.” Unlikely. The space is probably worth more to your sanity than the item ever will be. One trick I find helpful is a “limbo” spot in a closet. That’s my place for that dress or set of placemats that I’m not quite ready to let go of. After several months, or even a year, if I haven’t used them I’m generally ready to give them away with confidence.

3. Be able to find things without having to shove anything else out of the way.

This is hard. It not only demands cleaning out the clutter, but also keeping what’s left in order. But I find it is truly the key to gracious living. How many times have you had to dig through a closet to find that green shirt you thought you had? Or paw through a drawer to find that pink eraser? Think of the pleasure of opening the closet, drawer, or cupboard and seeing at a glance exactly what it contains. 
I’ve been adhering pretty well to these three rules. I find them self-reinforcing as every day I get joy from the sense of spaciousness and ease I experience in my home.
My loved ones now know my gift preferences: I want only items that are experiences (a restaurant certificate or massage), small (earrings or a DVD … well, an iPhone5 can qualify), or consumable (wine, soap, or candles). I want nothing that adds to accumulated stuff.
So here’s to your holiday season. Let it be filled with joy—not stuff—and a brave new year of gracious living.

Fran KortenFran Korten wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas and practical actions. Fran is publisher of YES!

YES! Magazine encourages us to make free use of this article by taking these easy steps. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Differences between pure and organic

Monday, December 17, 2012

Why an energy audit may help you save money


As the new year approaches, homeowners are assessing their annual budgets and finding ways to save around the home. One of the first ways to save is utilities and Many potential areas to save are not visible to the untrained eye and can only be found through a professional energy audit using professional equipment.

Phoenix energy audit
A typical audit has several state of the art tests that examine different areas around the house. The blower door test determines the amount of heating or cooling leaks as well as the location. A room pressure test assesses imbalances between rooms while the air handler is running which is a sign of potential duct problems that lead to poor ventilation and temperature differences between the rooms.  A pressure pan test look for duct leaks in the ventilation system and locates  the leak. This test can provide tremendous energy conservation opportunities. Infrared imaging uses an infrared camera to see the inefficiencies with the home's thermal barrier, offering another opportunity for improvement.

By using a professionally trained auditor, the typical homeowner has the opportunity to find out where the real energy losses are throughout their home, as opposed to a less specific approach. An energy audit offers homeowners the chance to target their individual home's problem areas and reduce inefficiency. Often the return on the investment is well worth the price of a professional audit.

This post has been brought to you by a sponsor. Our Daily Green only shares information that we think will be useful for our readers.  

Why Choose Organic Skin Care Products?

Between washing hair, cleansing the skin and applying cosmetics, the average woman uses between 8-10 skin care products each day. If each product contains 10-15 ingredients, she typically will apply upwards of 200 chemicals to her skin daily. Many cosmetics contain ingredients like lead, parabens, petroleum derivatives, and artificial scents and colors. Cosmetics are the least Food & Drug Administration regulated item. There is very little oversight over products that go on the skin versus that which is ingested. By legal definition, according the the FDA Cosmetics Compliance and Regulatory information, cosmetics are:
... "articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body...for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance" [FD&C Act, sec. 201(i)]. Among the products included in this definition are skin moisturizers, perfumes, lipsticks, fingernail polishes, eye and facial makeup preparations, cleansing shampoos, permanent waves, hair colors, and deodorants, as well as any substance intended for use as a component of a cosmetic product.
However, the skin is the largest organ on the body and anything put on the skin is absorbed into the body. The case for choosing pure and organic products is strong.

As a consumer, the best choice is to pick products that are organic. Organic skin care ingredients are grown without chemical pesticides or fertilizers. Products made from organic ingredients are not just better for the skin, but they also have less impact on the environment. Organic skin care products are also fresher as they do not contain artificial preservatives to extend the shelf life.

This post has been brought to you by a sponsor. However, all thoughts and opinions are our own. Our Daily Green only shares information that we think will be useful to our readers. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Do you have what it takes to be a Food Patriot?

Food Patriots FilmOur Daily Green recently had the opportunity to learn about a new documentary film, Food Patriots. The brainchild behind the film is award winning film producer, Jeff Spitz and his wife Jennifer Amdur Spitz.

The Spitz family has spent the past 2 1/2 years chronicling their (mis) adventures towards making healthier more sustainable food choices.

Our Daily Green had the opportunity to catch up with Jeff Spitz for some additional insight. He laughed as he explained that as a sports family, food was always just something they ate as frequently and in as large a quantity as possible. It was something to fill the stomachs of active athletes in his family, but something that thinking about too much was just not anything he considered. His wife was the driving force behind any healthy diet choices, beginning when they were dating in college and she took him to farmer's markets and the sort, but he really was just trying to politely accept her overtures as much as possible.

His son was in high school and suffered a food borne illness that was resistant to antibiotics which was the impetus behind their family transformation. Their film Food Patriots is the story of a family as well as their personal communities rethinking how and what they eat. They have involved the University of Wisconsin's athletic department where according to Jeff, Madison, WI has become a sort of "mecca for food patriots". They recently filmed a promotional spot in the Badgers' locker room for the film.

The film has a unique, humorous approach. The Spitz family chronicles their foibles with laughter and humility. The segment with their backyard chicken adventure is delightful. Wonderfully absent is the preachy approach to organic eating that can be such a turn off to families who want to make a change but find it overwhelming. In fact, Food Patriots is hoping to reach an audience that is "beginning to wonder what the connection between health and food and how anyone can take that first step" but isn't sure where to start. Our Daily Green is thrilled to discover a reasonable approach to healthy eating from a real family. We are invited into their world and path to discovery.

This film has not yet been released, they are in the funding stages. We would love to be among the first to screen it and we need your help. Food Patriots is looking for volunteers nationwide to start conversations about food that inspire everyone to make a 10% change in the way they buy, eat and talk about food.

They have a Kickstarter campaign for the film and you can contribute as little as $1. But for $75, you can receive a signed movie poster, a personal copy of the DVD and a t-shirt. There are sponsorship opportunities available for every budget. Hurry, they are in the last 6 days of their campaign. If you want to see this movie released, even if you cannot contribute dollar, please share this post via social media channels.

Stay in touch with their mission on Facebook and Twitter

GOOD LUCK Jeff and Jennifer! 



The Green Can Recycling


In many places, recycling is not mandatory. While recycling isn't always financially profitable, it still is beneficial. The Green Can out of Tampa, Florida, has found a way to correct this social issue and help others at the same time.
The Green Can, Recycling Service
The Green Can offers free recycling to apartment/condo complexes and businesses and then donates all the proceeds to local charities. This philanthropic endeavor is financed by advertising or sponsorship money.

Shopping locally is one of the easiest ways to financially support your own neighborhood as well as the the environment. The difficulty here is knowing what businesses are options for your needs locally.

In an age of DVR, junk mail, spam, and decreasing popularity of print newspapers, small businesses have a difficult time competing for consumer dollars. Trying to actually reach the people nearest the business has become the most difficult and most important issue for a small business.

The decline in the economy has impacted almost everyone except the large multinational corporations. Charities have been hard hit by the financial downturn, small businesses are feeling the squeeze and justifying additional expenses for something like recycling is not financially justified. The Green Can addresses those problems.

They offer free delivery of their proprietary containers that are designed specially as a functioning ground level billboard that is made in the USA out of recycled plastic. When it is full, The Green Can picks up the materials and changes out the 100% reusable liner that is made by hand in the USA. They donate the full amount of the value of the recycled materials to local charities.

What funds the whole program is advertising placed on the outside of the containers. The cost to the advertiser is less than the price of mailing a letter to each resident. The cost per view is 3X cheaper than Google. You can’t fast forward past our advertising, you can't throw it away, change the channel or log off. It is exposure that cannot be ignored. 

The Green Can began in Tampa, Florida on March 1, 2012. In 6 months, they recycled over 150,000 aluminum cans and several thousand pounds of plastic. They just crossed the 9 month mark and have recycled over 250,000 aluminum cans and many tons of plastic.

To learn more about their mission, follow them on Facebook or see their website

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Light Pollution

"Star light, star bright, I wish there was a way to see you tonight." 

As society extends more and more of its activity hours past daylight, there is a growing problem of light pollution. Light pollution is defined by Wikipedia as:

  • Degradation of photic habitat by artificial light.
  • The alteration of light levels in the outdoor environment (from those present naturally) due to man-made sources of light. 
  • Light pollution is the introduction by humans, directly or indirectly, of artificial light into the environment.
For most of human history, the phrase “light pollution" would have made no sense. Now most of humanity lives under intersecting domes of reflected, refracted light. Based on calculations, two-thirds of humanity lives under skies polluted with light, and one-fifth can no longer see the Milky Way. 

Night Images NASAOn December 5, 2012, NASA released a new look at our planet at night. This global composite image, constructed using cloud-free night images from a new NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite, which shows light from both natural and human-built phenomena in never seen before detail.

There are several reasosn to be concerned about the excessive levels of light in our night skies. Excess light burns additional energy.  According to recent studies, over 30% of the outdoor illumination is wasted by being misdirected towards the sky. Annually, that is nearly $4.5 billion in the USA for the cost of  excessive lighting.

Progressive cities are beginning to look at the need for light, and light that casts itself in the appropriate direction. For example, in Harmony, Florida, unique dome shaped street lights reflect light only downward instead of up into the sky. The planned community southeast of Orlando consulted with lighting engineers to design efficient, effective, and pleasing lights. The result has been national distinction as a Dark Sky Development, as well as three University of Florida IMAGE Awards for programs that effectively communicate environmental information.
Night lighting
Besides the energy savings, darker skies also are safer for wildlife. “Lights at night are a serious threat to nocturnal wildlife,” Jim Fisher of the International Dark-Sky Association explains. “Too much light affects mammals, frogs, salamanders, other amphibians, reptiles, insects, fish and, in fact, entire ecosystems.

“When sea turtles hatch, for instance, they are drawn to the sea by its natural reflective glow and turn away from dark grassy beach areas. However, with so many development lights, they often become confused and go in the wrong direction, only to get run over on the road.”

Birds are also affected by light. The Fatal Light Awareness Program estimates that in North America, at least 100 million birds collide with man made structures. Migratory birds often fly at night, depending on light from the stars and moon; they are confused by lights emanating like thousands of moons from cities and towns.

Lastly, the biological effects of light exposure at an inappropriate time (during the normal dark period)  has potentially negative physiological consequences. The human circadian system can fall out of synchronization with the 24-hour solar day, negatively affecting human health, including metabolism and learning comprehension. Additionally, melatonin synthesis can be disrupted by excessive light. Melatonin is a free radical and antioxidant. Studies suggest that lower melatonin levels are linked to cancer and DNA damage.

One organization that is working to reduce the amount of light pollution is GLOBE at Night. They offer several events throughout the year, including the popular Adopt a Street program. Light Pollution impacts more than just seeing (or not) the stars in the night sky and is a growing concern. The community of Harmony, Florida is host to the 2013 Dark Sky Festival. The website offers a number of resources for concerned citizens.





Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It's beginning to feel a lot like holiday allergy season

Holiday’s Could Trigger Asthma and Allergy Symptom’s But Simple Precautions Can Save the Season
Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) November 14, 2012
The Allergy Kit
Photo courtesy of: Kris De Curtis/ wikimedia
Allergy experts are warning the 40 million American’s who suffer from allergies to take precautions to avoid some common holiday-related irritants.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, you can prevent some of the symptoms before they start.
Dr. Richard Weber, president-elect of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology offered the following holiday-related advice:
“Be selective with holiday d├ęcor. Watch out for hidden allergens that in lurk in decorations. Last year’s decorations may be dusty—as in full of allergy-triggering dust-mites—if you didn’t store them in airtight containers.
“Some people are allergic to terpene found in the sap of Christmas trees, or are bothered by the mold that lurks on the trees,” Dr. Weber added. “Consider artificial trees, wreaths and garlands.”
He also cautioned to watch out for poinsettias, which are problematic for people with latex allergies since the plant is part of the rubber tree family.
Jami Warner, Executive Director of the American Christmas Tree Association, added that both live and artificial trees could be possible allergy culprits.
If your holiday includes a live Christmas tree and you are concerned about allergies, wipe the trunk thoroughly with a solution of lukewarm water and diluted bleach, (one part bleach to 20 parts water), to eliminate any mold. Before bringing the tree inside, use a leaf blower in a well-ventilated area away from the house or garage to remove visible pollen grains, Warner said.
In addition, some of the materials used to manufacture artificial Christmas trees could cause sinus irritation for those who are especially sensitive.
Taking precautions can help make the holidays bright and sniffle-free for everyone.
##
About the American Christmas Tree Association:
The American Christmas Tree Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing the most current and factual data to help consumers make well-educated decisions about Christmas trees. For more information, please visit the American Christmas Tree Association http://www.christmastreeassociation.org




Are heat exchangers environmentally friendly?

By Elliot DeLaney

Heat exchangers are some of the most important engine and household mechanical components used today. Not only do they allow heat to safely and efficiently escape from engines and other mechanical items, but they also conserve energy in some very specific items. Of course, heat exchangers come in a large variety of shapes and sizes. Shell and tube, plate, and waste heat recovery units are the most environmentally friendly models of heat exchangers.

Shell and tube heat exchangers are basically a series or tubes that transfer hot liquid or gas and cooling agents back and forth from the mechanical unit they are part of. In the case of a refrigerator, the heating tubes are used to carry any wasteful heating gasses away from the cooling mechanisms of the units. At the same time, cooling liquids are pumped through the cooling tubes, allowing the refrigerator unit to remain cold. This whole process conserves energy by quickly and efficiently removing heat from a cooling system, reducing the overall energy required to keep the refrigerator running. Unfortunately, shell and tube heat exchangers are quite bulky, and can only be used for static, large mechanical items.

Plate heat exchangers are the most common type of heat exchanger available today. They are used primarily in automobile and plane engines. Plate exchangers are typically made out of high quality aluminum alloys, due to their higher heat transfer efficiency. They also have a larger heat transfer area, weigh much less than other heat exchangers and can withstand much higher internal and external pressures.

Plate heat exchangers save energy in several ways.

  • First, they do not weigh much, and can fit in almost any type of engine quite easily. A lighter engine compartment means that the automobile or plane needs to use less gas to move, ultimately saving the environment in gasoline use and carbon dioxide emissions. 
  • Second, the heat transfer efficiency of plate heat exchangers is good. This allows the heat produced by the engine to dissipate quickly, causing the engine to run cooler and faster, ultimately reducing waste.


Waste heat recovery units are the most environmentally friendly heat exchangers on the market today. They take heat waste from power plants and use that to heat water or other liquids and gasses. These heated elements are then used to create energy or other mechanical products. This saves energy by reusing heat caused by a prior mechanical reaction.

Elliot Delany is a writer for Brazetek.com, a leading manufacturer and retailer of heat exchangers.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The cost of allergies

Asthma & Allergy Infographic Infographic authored by Oransi LLC
To view the original post, check out the original Asthma & Allergy Infographic.

Our Daily Green is affiliated with The Allergy Kit, an at home, DIY drug-free treatment. 

Green Business People and Planet Award by Green America: Angel Wind Energy


Clean Currents
Silver Spring, MD

Congratulations to Summer 2012
People & Planet Award winner Clean Currents!
Clean Currents is a green electricity provider that goes the extra mile to build a more sustainable community. Clean Currents sells only Green-E Certified wind and solar energy to residents and businesses in Washington, DC, Maryland and central Pennsylvania. Through renewable energy purchases by both business and residential customers, Clean Currents offset 288,430,778 lbs of CO2 emissions in 2011. We also installed solar panels and solar thermal units on homes and businesses in the Mid-Atlantic, further supporting the growth of the clean energy industry.
At its core, Clean Currents is dedicated to increasing the demand for clean domestic wind power, promoting energy efficiency and sustainability, and supporting the communities we serve.  
Beyond Clean Energy
Clean Currents goes beyond selling renewable energy. We are the only energy company in the Mid-Atlantic that is a certified B-Corporation, Gold certified by Green America, and a Maryland Benefit LLC.  Clean Currents is committed to both the environment and to the community in which we operate, and we ensure that every business decision adheres to higher environmental and societal standards.
Advocating Sustainability Initiatives and Clean Energy Legislation
The Clean Currents team works with progressive organizations including Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network to encourage widespread adaptation of sustainable lifestyles and green legislation.  Clean Currents actively supports clean energy legislation including offshore wind in Maryland and renewal of the Production Tax Credit.
Building Sustainable Communities
Our hallmark community program is the Green Neighborhood Challenge (GNEC).  GNEC engages local communities in a grassroots effort to spread information about renewable energy alternatives and convert whole neighborhoods and communities to wind and solar power. Additionally, we donate back to the participating organizations for each home that switches to wind or solar power. These donations fund green projects or environmental initiatives that directly benefit the participating communities.
Over the past 3 years, the Green Neighborhood Challenge has facilitated hundreds of residents to switch to clean energy, and has raised thousands of dollars to support local green projects. Some accomplishments include:
  • Engaged over 150 neighborhoods, schools, faith-based groups, and non-profit organizations in supporting clean energy through residential electric bills.  
  • Led workshops on sustainability subjects including clean energy, energy efficiency, and composting for both youth and adults.
  • Supported the Greenbelt, MD community in enrolling 344 total homes in wind power, earning their community nearly $4,000 in donations.
    • Through Greener in Greenbelt’s participation in GNEC, over 3% of their community now runs on wind power, making them eligible to become an EPA Green Power Community.
  • Donated thousands of dollars to fund school gardens, recycling and compost bins for religious organizations, energy efficiency measures for condo and apartment buildings, planting trees in neighborhoods, and funding environmental education programs. 
With this grant, Clean Currents would invest the entire amount in the GNEC program, thereby engaging more organizations and contributing more back to the communities that support clean energy.  Visit us and learn more at www.cleancurrents.com.

Turbines
Clean Currents sources Neighborhood Wind™ from North Highland Wind Farm, Cambria County, PA.
Clean Currents’ Nicole Dvorak at an offshore wind rally in Annapolis, MD.
GardenKindergarten
Garden planted by Christ Episcopal School and funded through their participation in GNEC.
Kindergarten students at Christ Episcopal School, a GNEC participant.
Check
Greener in Greenbelt accepts their GNEC donation to benefit the Chesapeake Education and Arts Research Society. Through their participation in GNEC, Greener in Greenbelt has converted more than 3 percent of their neighborhood to renewable energy and is eligible to become an EPA Green Power community.
Testimonials:
"We are so glad to be Clean Currents partners!  Not only is Clean Currents doing great work in the community -- making it easy for homes and businesses to switch over to clean energy -- but they model the exact values we strive to instill in our LearnServe students: creativity, vision, passion, collaboration, and a deep commitment to making the world a better place for all people.  Thank you!” - Scott Rechler, Director and CEO, LearnServe International
"I think for non-profits whose work supports children or the environment participating in the Green Neighborhood Challenge is a serious win-win proposition.  It's our kids and their subsequent generations who'll be living on this planet, so by getting families to change to wind power, we can work to insure a cleaner, safer, brighter tomorrow for all of them." – Kelly Richmond, Board Chair, Friends of Fillmore Arts Center & GNEC participant
"I like to shop locally for my veggies AND for my clean wind electricity, from Clean Currents, founded and still working here in my County." – Charlie G., US EPA & GNEC participant

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Green Business People and Planet Award by Green America: City Roots




City Roots
Columbia, SC

Congratulations to Summer 2012
People & Planet Award winner City Roots!
City Roots, Columbia, SC’s first and only urban sustainable farm, is located on a three-acre urban site in the Rosewood neighborhood.  We grow approximately 75 varieties of fruits and vegetables, keep bees not only for honey but for pollination, and raise chickens not only for eggs but for the fertility they add to our soil.
We do extensive crop rotations and cover cropping for soil fertility and pest management. We have a large-scale composting operation which we use to amend our soil and by doing so have diverted 225 tons of material destined for the land fill into rich, fertile soil. We create worm casting and worm tea via vermicomposting to use as a fertilizer.
We produce microgreens year-round, and operate an aquaponic system which is the combination of aquaculture, the production of commercial fish (tilapia), and hydroponics, the growing of plants in a water medium that mimics a stream and pond ecosystem.  We operate our farm in a holistic fashion with each part playing an integral role in the overall system, and we follow the organic guidelines throughout our operation.
logo
beets
potatoes
City Roots was founded by retired architect Robbie McClam and his son Eric McClam in 2009.  Our main building was designed to meet a Platinum LEED certification utilizing minimum materials, energy and ground space, while providing a beautiful facility for processing, cold storage and retail sales.  With an open plan and a tall ventilated clerestory running through the main axis no air conditioning is required (or provided) and the abundance of natural light all but eliminates the need for artificial lighting. The building is used not only for farming but after hours it is used by us and others for Harvest Dinners, community meetings, and as a special rental venue for events.
Our greenhouses were recycled from their original use for growing tobacco seedlings.  We like to point out the irony of their evolution from growing a toxic product to now growing some of the most nutritious and beautiful raw vegetables available.  The greenhouses are solar heated and the first one uses its 3000 gallon tilapia fish tank as a latent heat sink to keep the greenhouse warm even on the coldest of nights.
In our brief 3 years in existence and on only 3 acres, we have had over 12,000 volunteer hours, 3,000 students on tours, 3,500 self guided tours, 10,000 event attendees, 100 CSA members, 440 volunteers, 22 interns, and employ five people -- all on three acres.   We have been in numerous TV spots, radio, print publications and periodicals and have won the following awards: the 2010 International Downtown Association Pinnacle Award, the 2010 Columbia Choice Award, the 2010/2011 Free Times Best of Columbia – Best New Green Business, and the 2010 Farm City Award – Richland County. 
We sell our products on site, at local farmers markets and through our year-round CSA. We use our fuel-efficient Toyota Prius to make deliveries at several health food retail grocery stores, numerous restaurants here in Columbia, as well as in Charleston. 
We are excited to be a finalist in Green America’s new People & Planet Awards program.  Should we be fortunate enough to win, the $5,000 award would go a long way to help fund several of our other green initiatives including solar panels to power our “grow lights” in our aquaponic system, a front-end crimper and precision seeder that will allow us to migrate to a no-till farming system that will improve efficiency and save on tractor fuel by 70 percent, as well as reduce water demand for our plants and a rainwater containment system to improve our efficient use of water.



City RootsPlanting
Chickens
Carrots

Friday, December 7, 2012

Green Business People and Planet Award by Green America: Third Sun


Third Sun Solar
Athens, OH

Congratulations to Summer 2012
People & Planet Award winner Third Sun Solar!
We deeply appreciate this opportunity to present Third Sun Solar for consideration of the Fall 2012 Green America People & Planet Award for Green Businesses.
Third Sun Solar has adopted the mission to accelerate the shift to clean energy.  The company has grown from a tiny start-up to a provider of megawatt-scale systems for corporations, universities, non-profits, small businesses, governments, and homes. Their PV solar installations are known for their craftsmanship, innovative use of materials, and tendency to exceed power generation forecasts.
This business is green down to its roots. Beginning in 1997, Geoff and Michelle Greenfield built a green, off-grid home in the countryside near Athens, Ohio. As a former Peace Corps volunteer in central Africa (where he designed and built clean water systems), Geoff had both a sustainable-resource focus and do-it-yourself aptitude.
The Greenfields designed their home to be powered by a PV solar array and a small wind turbine—all green technologies in the earliest stages of popular adoption.
Greenfields
Geoff and Michelle Greenfield
RibbonCut
Solar ribbon cutting at the Ohio Governor's Residence.
Once they completed their home, the Greenfields were featured in local news stories, then approached by others interested in building sustainable homes. Geoff took on clean energy projects for friends and neighbors, then decided to evolve the hobby into a small, home-based business.
The Greenfields created Third Sun Solar while raising their two young boys. Nurturing the development of the business felt similar to raising children, and since both kids were boys, they realized their fledgling company was like a third son.  Another inspiration for the company’s name was Jeremy Rifkin’s book Entropy, which outlined the world’s three industrial ages, which all have the sun at their source.  The first was biomass, the second was fossil fuel and the third age, which is currently dawning, is the direct solar age.
Third Sun Solar has emerged as a clean energy leader in our region, has been featured as a fast growing company for 4 consecutive years on the INC. 5000 list, and has gained a leadership position among clean energy firms nationwide. Third Sun Solar is headquartered in Athens, where part of the company’s daily practice involves careful energy conservation, intensive recycling, and the purchase of carbon offsets for its fleet of service vehicles.
Third Sun coordinates financing for many larger clean energy projects through Power Purchase Agreements (solar PPAs) and other creative financing mechanisms. The firm recently launched its own “Micro-PPA” offering to customers exploring mid-sized PV systems. This combination of financial and technical offerings leads to cost efficiencies that improve the economics for clean energy. Third Sun’s goal is to help people and companies fulfill their solar power dreams without tying up their working capital or taking on debt.
If awarded the 2012 Green America People & Planet Award for Green Businesses, Third Sun Solar will make its workplace even greener by expanding the company kitchen’s composting system and conducting a lighting retrofit for energy efficiency. They will also use a portion of the prize money to engineer and donate a solar energy system to a Habitat for Humanity house currently under construction in their hometown of Athens, Ohio.


Funding model
Third Sun Solar array on the headquarters of the Wayne National Forest in Nelsonville, Ohio.
BuildingWorker
463kW solar array covers almost an acre of rooftop at the Kent State University field house.
Third Sun Solar project manager at a 1.7-megawatt project underway in Springfield, Ohio.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Grey Charges

Examples of grey charges are automatic renewals, mischarges, and uncorrected billing errors. It's money that isn't illegally charged, but most consumers don't realize that they are paying money that they never planned on paying. 

One of the things that has gotten us a few times is the "free trial" that automatically converts to a full charge after a certain number of days, unless you cancel. It's important for consumers to look over their bills. Make sure they are right and fix any errors as soon as you see them. Another one that has gotten us in the past was shipping and handling charges, sometimes they are higher than the actual product purchased. 

Be a careful consumer and check your bills monthly. Especially during this busy shopping season, don't let dollars trickle out of your budget. 

What Are Grey Charges?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Mother Nature Belongs at the Bargaining Table: Reprinted from Other Words

Throwing the nation over the climate cliff will make our current fiscal challenges look like a minor bump in the road.

As the highly scripted stagecraft of the presidential campaign fades from the headlines, there's a new show in Washington. ”Fiscal Cliff” stars President Barack Obama, who urges Republicans and Democrats to agree on a ”grand bargain” that would soften the economic shock of the impending across-the-board tax and spending cuts. But that bipartisan handshake would be nothing to celebrate.
World Bank Photo Collection/Flickr
World Bank Photo Collection/Flickr
Here's why: Both parties are intent on imposing an austerity budget bloated with military spending and private-industry health insurance waste. That would be a raw deal for the American people.
It's a sign of Washington's rightward drift that a Democratic president has offered to put Social Security on the chopping block, even though it hasn't contributed one dime to the deficit. And Obama has offered to cut Medicare rather than pursue an improved ”Medicare for All” insurance system that could save trillions over the next decade by eliminating the wasteful bureaucracy and medical inflation inherent in our private health insurance system.
Equally troubling, both parties are ignoring another problem that's truly critical: the climate cliff.
Our planet is rapidly approaching a geophysical tipping point at which the consequences of climate change, such as the disappearance of polar ice caps and the melting of frozen methane deposits, trigger an unstoppable acceleration of warming. Once that happens, it will render our climate incompatible with civilization as we know it.
Throwing the nation over the climate cliff will make our current fiscal challenges look like a minor bump in the road.
Mother Nature must also have a seat at the negotiating table as our leaders hash out their supposedly grand bargain. In a nation already reeling from droughts, wildfires, and superstorms, budget priorities must reconcile the climate and economic imperatives. After all, they're ultimately one and the same.
Our current drive to expand oil and gas drilling on U.S. soil is part of a bipartisan energy policy that's doing nothing to reduce unsustainably high carbon emissions. Showpiece programs to encourage renewable energy alternatives like solar and wind can't avert climate disaster unless they're going to replace fossil fuels.
The $15 billion a year that Obama wants to invest in renewable energy is a small fraction of what's being spent every month on the latest Wall Street bailout. Any boost the environment might get from his administration's showpiece renewable energy programs is more than cancelled by its promotion of dirty energy that runs from natural gas fracking to coal and nuclear reactors, and an expansion of oil drilling in our national parks, offshore, and in the Arctic.
We can avoid both the fiscal and climate crises only if we democratize our priorities and put the public interest ahead of the profiteering elite. One blueprint for this is the Green New Deal, which served as the mainstay of my presidential bid as the Green Party's nominee. Our plan would launch an emergency program to create 25 million jobs in green energy, sustainable agriculture, public transportation, and infrastructure improvements. It would also cut spending, making big tax hikes unnecessary.
Our Green New Deal would be funded by a combination of waste-cutting and targeted fair-tax reforms. These include scaling back the Pentagon's bloated budget to year 2000 levels.
A ”Medicare for All” health insurance system would provide health care to everyone, while eliminating the massive private health insurance bureaucracy and reducing the medical inflation that's straining federal, state, and household budgets alike.
Our proposed tax reforms would extend the Bush tax cuts for 90 percent of Americans. It would rein in Wall Street speculation with a small (0.5 percent) tax on financial transactions, generating $350 billion annually. Capital gains would be taxed as income, and income would be taxed more progressively, with multi-millionaires and billionaires paying in the 50-80 percent range, just as they did before the tax giveaways of recent decades.
If we are to have an economy that serves the people and creates a livable planet for the future, we must insist on nothing less than a grand bargain that is truly worthy of the name. 
Jill Stein won half a million votes as the Green Party's presidential candidate in 2012. jillstein.org
Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org)
Creative CommonsThis content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative 3.0 License.

Ocean Plastic packaging from Method

One of the most pervasive ongoing environmental concerns is the tremendous amount of plastic we as a society generate. There are plastic islands floating in the oceans is estimated to be approximately twice the size of Hawaii. This plastic waste also gets consumed by the sea creatures and becomes part of our food stream.

Method Hand and dish soapMethod Soap company has decided to build awareness for this problem through innovative packaging on their latest hand soap. The bottle is made from 100% recycled plastic that was gathered by volunteer groups on the coastlines of Hawaii. Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii and Kokua Hawaii Foundation has collected over one ton of plastic required to create the packaging.

Our Daily Green received a bottle of the Method Dish + Hand soap in exchange for this article. The packaging is opaque dark grey with a design that is reminiscent of starfish along the bottle.

We commend Method for drawing awareness to this growing problem and offering a small step in the right direction. The less we create new plastic and instead reuse what is already in existence, the cleaner our environment will be. Their innovative product is available exclusively at Whole Foods Market. With enough consumer support, we hope more companies will look into recycled packaging instead of using virgin resources.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Build it Green

Our Daily Green comes from the school of thought that saving energy is up there with saving dollars. In fact, growing up in the home of Papa Green, there was always one light too many on. He loved to insulate, turn off lights, and keep the thermostat at the lowest possible setting.

Several years ago, Papa built a new home in Florida. One of the most exciting parts of building his home was the amazing technology he used, the insulated concrete forms that he found to use as building material. They were guaranteed to keep him from spending unwanted dollars on heating or cooling as the construction of the forms was designed to insulate the home above and beyond simple insulation.

In the photo to the right, you'll notice the deep set windows. That is a result of how the forms are constructed. They are much like the popular children's building blocks that snap together to form a structure. Durisol is also energy efficient and superior to their ancestor that was made with Styrofoam as the impact on the environment during production is minimal.The blocks are soundproof, fireproof, impact resistant, healthy and termite proof.

Indoor air quality is not a concern because Durisol does not use polystyrene, but instead utilizes a proprietary cement-bonded wood fiber material that has only natural ingredients of specially graded recycled waste wood (100% clean, natural softwood lumber).

If you are considering building green, we highly recommend doing some research on the insulated concrete forms on the market.

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Decorating Green this Holiday Season

Decorating Green for the HolidaysAs much fun as it is to decorate for the holiday season, doing it in a way that is energy conscious and efficient makes it a bit more challenging. With so many different ways and ideas to show your holiday spirit, it is easy to get ahead of yourself with decorations, lights, and so much more. Finding a way to be decorative and stay energy efficient may be tricky, but here are some tips to help with the process.

The most popular decoration is lighting. They come in all colors, sizes, and shapes so it’s easy to get a little overboard. But that amount of lighting, wrapped around your tree, maybe even your home, can sky rocket your electricity bills. LED lights can replace the incandescent strings of lights we typically use during holiday season. These lights can be found at Home Depot or Wal-Mart, among other popular stores.

Even if you decide to use normal lights this season, try to cut down on the time they are on. By setting a timer, this can cut almost half of the energy use and even helps cut down the risk of fire, since the bulbs tend to get very hot. Leaving them burning all night long can be avoided easily with the light timer.

As important as the tree is, buying a smaller one or choosing to dispose the extra pieces can help be green. By purchasing a smaller tree, you have less to recycle when you finally decide to take it down. If you decide you are ready to get rid of the tree, bring it to a chipping factory or maybe even plant it in your backyard so it can be a constant Christmas memory!

Around the states that have sunny bright Christmas months, fake snow is used. This can really be unsafe for not only the environment but for animals as well. While it’s nice to have to really make it feel like holiday time, other things can be used to replicate. Find some natural materials to replace the fake snow.

To bring a new spin to your Christmas tree and even do something good for the planet, try using recycled ornaments. Homemade ornaments are usually the most special, but try turning a piece of artwork into something new that everyone can enjoy. You’ll make the kids happy and your planet happy too. For those homes that not only put presents under the tree, but use empty presents as decoration, consider using less wrapping paper and more craft paper. The wrapping paper rarely is reusable and can end up not being recycled.

Author Bio:Did you get a new phone or music player this year and need to ditch the old one? Bring your items to E-Waste Harvesters and recycle your electronics.  Electronics recycling Phoenix will help create a green environment.