Overcome Obsolescence by Buying Sustainably

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I’ve been writing about sustainability and green lifestyle for a while now. But the recent demise of my kettle, after only three years of use, got me thinking about sustainable consuming in a way that was much closer to home.

I am in my kitchen, drinking a cup of tea, made with water that was boiled in a milk pan. It’s what I’ve used for the last few weeks because I made the decision never again to buy a kettle that is made deliberately to break. Trying to find a sustainable alternative has not been easy. Planned or built-in obsolescence is common practice, especially in electrical products.

Unsurprisingly, I was not able to find an electrical kettle with a warranty that stretched beyond five years. But what I did stumble over in my travels across the net was the term heirloom design….

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Why Being Green Can Save You Money

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We all know that driving an economical car can save money both in tax and petrol, but what can you do in your home to keep carbon dioxide from the air and money in your wallet?

Thankfully, there are many incentives in Britain to keep your home green and your wallet healthy.

One such government scheme is the Green Deal, which helps homeowners and business managers afford energy-saving improvements for their house or business.

Homeowners can buy various energy-saving improvements for their homes, including:

Insulation, such as loft and cavity insulation
Heating measures
Draught-proofing
Double glazing
Renewable energy technologies …

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Eco-Friendly Driving Habits: A Win for Everybody

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These days, it’s not difficult to reduce the carbon footprint while on the go. Not only is the global market for hybrid and electric cars expected to grow through at least 2015, but car makers are coming up with all kinds of ways to inspire eco-friendly driving. For example, Chevrolet is equipping all 2013 models […]

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Gardening with a (Re)Purpose

April 14, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, DIY, Front Page, Gardening, Repurposing, Slideshow

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Starting a backyard garden doesn’t have to involve spending a lot on containers, watering systems and soil additives. In fact, you could probably plant a rich, healthy and visually attractive garden right now with what you have lying around your house. Everything from that pile of recyclables to the yard waste sitting at the curb can be used to build a low-cost, low-maintenance source of kitchen herbs, vegetables and day-brightening flora. Following are a few ideas to get you started and to spur on your gardening imagination.

Consider using all those leaves, sticks and pine cones you rake out of your yard every couple of months as free and effective mulch in your garden. Leaves and pine straw are a great finishing touch to your garden beds as they help your soil maintain a consistent temperature and moisture level as well as help to keep out weeds.

Planters with a New Purpose

Instead of asking yourself, “What can I repurpose and turn into a planter?” you should be asking what you can’t, because just about anything that can hold soil and drain water can be used for your planting purposes. Assorted old coffee tins make great containers for flowering gardens and the two center holes of stacked, staggered cinder blocks can be filled with potting soil for a unique wall garden.

Have an old wooden wine box? Drill some holes in the bottom, fill with a short layer of gravel, top with potting soil and hang from sturdy eyelets screwed into the four corners for an intriguing and useful kitchen garden ….

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Why Electric Driving is an Affordable Reality in Britain

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Ford, Renault-Nissan, and Daimler have announced that they are joining their knowledge, technology and resources to create the world’s first mass-produced, affordable fuel cell car. The big three have set themselves a deadline of 2017 to have the model and its technology up to scratch and ready for the market.

This news brings with it the proof that the auto industry are finally becoming more environmentally aware, working with governments and scientists to create a green driving experience that doesn’t have its revolution lodged firmly in a space-age future.

Fuel cell cars work by replacing petrol with hydrogen. The fuel cells convert the chemical energy produced from combining hydrogen and oxygen in the engine to electrical energy to power the motor. You may be surprised to learn that fuel cell cars are not a new concept. In fact, the first fuel cell car came about in 1959. Unfortunately, due to the cost of developing the technology, fuel cell cars have never really become much more than a distant ideal…

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Why Cloud Computing Is Good for Green Businesses

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Much has been written about the cloud computing revolution, particularly about the many ways it may be an inherently sustainable move for humanity at large. And yet data centers require massive amounts of energy to run, enough to account for 1.5 percent of US electricity needs by 2020, according to the EPA. And, even as it is now, a Greenpeace study shows that much of that energy is gleaned from fossil fuels, with huge data centers run by Amazon, Apple and Microsoft sourcing only about 15% of the energy they need from renewables.

Still, there’s much about cloud computing that is green, and, with basic reforms, it has the potential to be far more sustainable than our current working model, fitting in entirely with the green business mentality….

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5 Must-Have Plumbing Updates for Your Home

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The average American household uses about 260 gallons of water each day, adding up to 30 billion gallons of daily water usage across the nation. There are multiple ways to conserve water in your home, from replacing a constantly running toilet to installing a weather-sensitive sprinkler system. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), water heating accounts for around 15 to 25 percent of the energy used in the average home. Water-saving plumbing updates to your home not only help lower your water bill but can reduce your monthly energy bills as well.

Following are five of the most cost-effective plumbing upgrades…

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Break Out of Throwaway Culture in 2013

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For decades, a disposable culture has permeated every part of our society, leading to environmental degradation, waste, and inefficiency. If your family is locked in a throwaway lifestyle, there’s no better time to make a fresh start. Here are a few trends that are helping people around the country save money, live better, and protect the planet.
1. Repair Shops

Disposable culture caused the near-extinction dozens of repair trades like tailoring, cobbling, and small appliance repair; but in environmentally conscious regions, these professions are making a comeback, mending tennis shoes and t-shirts as well as high-end luxury items. For a few bucks and 20 minutes of their time, not only are people saving something that would have been thrown away, but keeping someone local employed as well. Repair swaps are also popping up all over the country, where once a week or month groups get together to help each other repair their items for free. Check your local living section of your newspaper, the classifieds, and Craigslist to find repair shops or repair swaps in your area….

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American Wasteland by Jonathan Bloom

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If you’re like most people, you were probably shocked by a report released earlier this year that found that up to half of the world’s food is wasted. When hundreds of millions of people go hungry every day, how is this possible?

This is just one of many questions that journalist Jonathan Bloom explores in his book American Wasteland. Every day, Americans waste enough food to fill the Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena, Calif. Bloom opens American Wasteland with this sobering statistic, and it just gets more depressing from there.

Depending on whom you ask, we squander between one quarter and one half of all the food produced in this country (40 percent is the figure that’s often used). Fruits and vegetables are allowed to rot on farms when the price for a particular crop would be less than the cost of harvesting it. Grocery stores throw out perfectly edible food that has reached its “sell-by” date (which is not the same as an “eat-by” date). Consumers let food go bad in the fridge—on average, we each waste 25 percent of the food that we bring into our homes—or leave half-eaten entrées behind at restaurants. Much of this wasted food ends up decaying in landfills, spewing out methane gas….

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‘Round Town Rides: The Green Commuter Bike Revolution

February 16, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Economy, Front Page, Slideshow, Transportation

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Getting to and from work without driving a car or an SUV has become the new green anthem. According to a National Household Travel Survey, done by the U.S. Department of Transportation, 75 percent of commuters commute alone. Because of this high amount of solo commuters, some are opting to ride alone differently: via a […]

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5 Ways Entrepreneurs Are Going Green

February 14, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Ecopreneurs, Front Page, Green Living, Slideshow, Tips

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Green entrepreneurs are a growing force in the start-up world, and they aren’t just coffee shop owners and locavore grocers. Small business owners in every sector of the economy are discovering that going green is not just better for society; it’s also better for customer satisfaction, as well as the bottom line. Here are a few of the most effective ways entrepreneurs are leading the way in environmental stewardship.
1. Retro Furnishings

Start-ups across the country are cutting their initial costs by reusing and recycling old light fixtures, desks, giant cable spools, discarded pallets and more to furnish and style their offices (or garages), instead of splurging on new offices and fancy furniture. It’s hip, cheap, and efficient, allowing entrepreneurs and their staff to function like they need to, without spending much money. It also saves the waste and cost of manufacturing new products and keeps those old furnishings out of the landfill….

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Branded for Animal Rights

February 12, 2013 by  
Filed under 2013, Blog, Front Page, Slideshow, Social Action

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The moment the brand hits my skin, I can’t help but think of them. Him cramped in a metal cell, absolutely terrified, the barrel of a gun to his temple. Her crying out as her child is ripped away from her moments after his birth, the third child of hers taken from her this way. And here I lie, face down on the cold earth, my head freshly shorn of its mid-back-length hair, my side literally on fire as the brand melts through layers of my flesh.

I’ve gotten off easy.

Unlike me, they weren’t so lucky. Unlike me, they lost their lives.

In the United States alone, 8.3 billion animals were killed for food in 2012, according to the USDA’s National Agriculture’s Statistics Service. Given this data does not include fish, marine animals, crustaceans, rabbits, other farmed animals, or animals killed for their fur or other “by-products,” this figure is a gross underestimation.

Isaac Bashevis Singer, Jewish Author and Nobel Laureate wrote that “in relation to them [animals], all people are Nazis; for the animals it is an eternal Treblinka.” Theodor Adorno, German Jewish philosopher, sociologist, and musicologist, stated, “Auschwitz begins whenever someone looks at a slaughterhouse and thinks: they are only animals.” …

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How to Control Pests with Natural Products

February 9, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Eco-Friendly, Front Page, Pesticides, Slideshow, Tips

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  Do you spray toxic chemicals around baseboards, leave poisoned bait in dark corners, bug-bomb your home and office, or douse yourself (and your kids) with DEET to keep pests at bay? Using pesticides might rid your surroundings of pests, but what are you doing to your health in the process? ~ Julia Wasson, Publisher […]

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Smart Meters: Money Savers or Security Zappers?

January 30, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Energy, Energy Audits, Front Page, Slideshow

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Remember reading 1984? Big Brother watched everyone, 24/7. Even people’s thoughts were monitored. Orwell’s novel painted a chilling portrait of a dystopian world no reader (I think that’s pretty safe to say) wanted to inhabit. As writer Sean Derrick points out, we’re currently on that slippery slope where monitoring people’s minute-by-minute activities is presented as […]

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Don’t Let Automation Raise Your Home Energy Bills

January 23, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Economy, Front Page, Homes, Slideshow, Tips

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Automation has been rising in popularity with new and evolving technologies, and wireless communication can now be found in anything from lamps to washers and dryers. The point of automation is less work for the user, but that’s not necessarily true for your energy company; some common uses of automation drain a lot more power than others. Following are a few tips for saving money and energy with the wise use of automation.

Responsible Home Theaters

Home theaters are the most common areas to see energy-sucking automation. Some automation systems keep amplifiers on standby mode, or even worse, on but not producing sound. An amplifier can use up to 35 Watts of power if it stays on without playing music.

On the other hand, great strides have been taken with televisions. TVs with EnergyStar ratings are limited to a standby power of 1 Watt. That’s compared to older, tube TVs, which use up to 16 Watts…

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How to Create a Truly Green Office

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As humans, it’s our nature to overuse and abuse our resources. But this doesn’t have to be the case. It takes a conscious decision to change our wasteful ways and implement sustainable practices. Making your office more energy efficient, eco-friendly, and pleasant for you and your employees will increase productivity and enjoyment in the office while lessening your company’s carbon footprint.

Being energy and resource efficient and conscious of the health and well-being of those in the office will reduce the costs of running your business. Some simple changes of habit will save you a great deal of energy, resources, and most importantly, money. These tips will help you get your office on the right track toward becoming green….

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5 Tips for a Greener Move: Save Money and Lower Your Environmental Footprint

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From Styrofoam packing peanuts to gasoline-guzzling moving trucks, maintaining your well-honed green lifestyle on moving day can seem impossible. Yet, keeping your move sustainable and inexpensive doesn’t have to be such a challenge. With a little strategic planning ahead of time, these five tips can make moving affordable and eco-friendly. 1. Pare Down The less […]

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3 DIY Ways to Save Energy Dollars in the New Year

January 8, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, DIY, Energy, Front Page, Slideshow, Tips, Weatherizing

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  While the products you read about below will save energy and money, some contain highly toxic materials. Be sure to look for the most environmentally friendly brands you can find. — Julia Wasson, Publisher Want to make some room in your budget for next year’s holiday shopping? Here are three steps to earning up […]

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5 Things Every Consumer Should Know about Walmart’s Sustainability Index

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When Walmart initially announced its effort to infuse sustainable principles into every aspect of its business, some observers didn’t buy it. After all, its stated goals were a bit ambitious.

With their soon-to-be-implemented Sustainability Index, Walmart hopes to improve product quality, reduce energy consumption and waste, and educate consumers about sustainability. It plans to do all of this with the full cooperation of its network of thousands upon thousands of suppliers located around the world.

The information below highlights some of the components of the Sustainability Index and their likely impact. Suffice it to say, Walmart’s newest initiative has fewer skeptics today than it did when the program was first announced. Time will determine its effectiveness, as the market pressure created by a “green” rating system trickles down to both manufacturers and retail suppliers at every level….

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My 5: Jacob Sackin, Author and Environmental Educator

December 24, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Front Page, My 5, Slideshow

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BPGL: What are the five most important things we can do to protect the planet?

1. Invest in environmental education.

I have been an environmental educator for 12 years, and I am always amazed by the number of 6th graders in the U.S. who have to think for awhile before they can tell you where apples and oranges come from. In order for people to care about the environment, they need to understand how they are connected to it.

If every school invested at least one day a month to getting students outside exploring the habitat they live in, Americans would not be as disconnected to the Earth and they would care more about what we are doing to it.

2. Vote for and encourage government representatives to pass legislation to stop climate change….

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