July 9th, 2009
Now that it’s summer, the farmer’s markets are in full swing. The produce is beautiful, full and ripe, and going to the market often inspires a new recipe. In 2008, there were 4,685 farmer’s markets, compared to 1994 when there were only 1,755. This increase is as much to do with the local, organic and sustainability movement. Farmer’s markets also tend to have more heirloom varieties, handcrafted items and specialty varieties. Besides it’s a lot more fun to go to the farmer’s market than the grocery store. But are you getting the most you can out of your weekly trips to the market? Here are some tips and tricks to help you. (more…)
Popularity: 8% [?]
July 7th, 2009
Shipping containers are at the forefront of a new era of usefulness. Traditionally used to carry goods via cargo ship, train or truck, these steel boxes are capable of withstanding huge amounts of pressure and weight. This makes them structurally stable, fireproof, mold-proof and weather-proof. Unfortunately each has a lifespan of only 20 years for its original purpose. That means when their work is done hauling stuff, they get retired and sent to junk yards or landfills even though they are still structurally solid. Now architects and designers recognize their usefulness as building blocks for homes, offices, apartments, schools and more. This home in Quebec was built by a couple intent on reducing the amount of wood that goes into building homes and also saving money. (more…)
Popularity: 100% [?]
July 2nd, 2009
Environmental health researchers from UCLA, the University of Southern California and the California Air Resources Board have found that during the hours before sunrise, freeway air pollution extends much further than previously thought.
Air pollutants from Interstate 10 in Santa Monica extend as far as 2,500 meters — more than 1.5 miles — downwind, based on recent measurements from a research team headed by Dr. Arthur Winer, a professor of environmental health sciences at the UCLA School of Public Health. This distance is 10 times greater than previously measured daytime pollutant impacts from roadways and has significant exposure implications, since most people are in their homes during the hours before sunrise and outdoor pollutants penetrate into indoor environments. (more…)
Popularity: 4% [?]
June 30th, 2009
This weekend is the Independence Day holiday– and that means we’ll be lighting up the BBQ, consuming beverages, throwing out paper plates and generally wasting resources while we enjoy ourselves. So we’ve come up with a list of easy things you can do to lower the environmental impact of this fun, important holiday. It’s Independence Day, the Eco Way!
1. Light that BBQ with Propane. Wood and charcoal may seem like more natural fuel sources, but propane burns cleaner. You’ll have less smoke and less of a challenge keeping a fire going. Make sure that you refill or recycle your propane tank once it’s empty.
2. Use reusable plates and cups– or use recycled and/or biodegradable ones. Think of all of the millions of plastic and paper plates and cups being tossed out this weekend! It’s scary. You can really help out by either using sturdy, reusable plastic-ware and washing it after use. Or you can get compostable and biodegradable tableware that are great and will make an interesting conversation point for your event!
3. Put out a clearly-labeled recycling bin next to the trash basket. Make it clear to people that “this is the bin for your cans, bottles, plastic cups, etc.” If you make it easy for people, they will do it. And you won’t have to sort stuff at the end of the party!
4. Use tap water rather than bottled water. We know it’s hot, and bottled water is easy, but just fill some big pitchers up with water for people. You’ll cut your plastic use in a big way.
5. Skip the at-home fireworks. Naturally something that explodes, creates lots of light and leaves a cloud of smoke also comes with pollution. Fireworks also release heavy metals like lead into the air. Leave the fireworks to the professionals.
6. If you’re planning to go to the beach, know the condition of the beach before you go. Check out Beaches911.com to learn about the health conditions of the beach, any beach closures, and also eco-smart boating tips.
7. If you are taking a road trip of any kind, make sure to maximize your gas mileage. You could either rent a hybrid if you don’t have one– or make sure your tires are well-inflated, keep the AC as low as possible, and follow these tips for how to green your road trip.
Have a safe, healthy, fun holiday!
Popularity: 8% [?]
June 29th, 2009
The heat of summer is upon us, and that means folks are cranking up the AC, making an extra batch of ice, and generally burning energy 24-7. But we need all need to continue to try to conserve as much energy as possible to save resources and slow the march of global warming. And we get to save money at the same time– nice one!
Here are the eight easy things we can all do at home to cut our energy consumption.
1. Keep your home at an eco-conscious temperature. 78 degrees is plenty cool in the house. Turn down the AC and get a programmable thermostat so you’re only cooling the house when you really need to.
2. Work with the sun to keep your house cool. Close all shutters and blinds during the day to keep the sun out– then open windows at night to cool the house and feel the breeze (if you have any!).
3. Let the air dry your dishes and clothes. The dryer and dish washer use a lot of energy– and the air does the drying job just as well. Plus your clothes will last longer. See some great clothes-drying racks here.
4. Take shorter showers and do not take baths. Hot water heating is one of the major uses of energy in any home. Showers are the way to go– and keep ’em short. Baths use much more water and heat than do baths (unless you’re taking 30 minute showers!). You can also look into solar hot water.
5. Ditch the beer fridge. It’s amazing how many homes have two refrigerators. Please do not use more than one fridge. And if you have an old model, get a newer Energy Star model.
6. Use ceiling fans rather than AC. They are much more energy-efficient and you can get very reasonably priced Energy Star models.
7. Get solar screens for your windows. These screens cut 75% of the heat coming through your windows, but don’t impact your visibility. They are really great energy savers. See solar screens here.
8. Spend one night each week in candlelight. It’s romantic, fun and inspires new conversation. If you’ve got kids, how about turning off the TV one night and playing a board game by candlelight? Clue would be particularly spooky!
Popularity: 8% [?]