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

January 19, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Eco-Friendly, Front Page, Green Living, Slideshow, Tips

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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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On My Way to Someplace Else by Sandra Hurtes

January 15, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Books, Front Page, Immigrants, Slideshow

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On My Way to Someplace Else begins with liberation, on the day Russian soldiers entered Auschwitz and set Rifka and her fellow prisoners free. “A handsome soldier lifted my mother off her feet and although she was just skin and bones, he kissed her cheeks and told her she was beautiful,” writes Sandra Hurtes. It’s […]

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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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Oh, My Aching Back! (Before Topricin)

January 5, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Front Page, Health, Reviews, Slideshow

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Though I definitely don’t like pain (what sane person does?), I’m not a fan of taking anything but absolutely necessary prescription medicines, chemical-laden ointments, or drug-store pills and potions. So I have to be pretty desperate to resort to a new pain reliever. And when I do, I want it to work pronto! That’s rarely the case in reality. But Topricin Pain Relief and Healing Cream has been a very pleasant surprise.

As Draco raged around us in December, Joe and I worked to maintain a clear path for pedestrians so their snow-packed footprints wouldn’t make our sidewalk even more treacherous. This meant we were in and out of the house a few times during the blizzard.

Joe, Wearer of Sensible Shoes (with actual tread), had no trouble remaining upright. I, Wearer of Ancient, Comfortable Shoes (with worn soles), wasn’t so lucky (or so smart, I suppose). Coming in from outside, I slipped in our kitchen and fell. My bruised hip complained a bit for a few days, but the worst damage was a dislocated rib….

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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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A Laptop Sleeve to Love from GreenSmart

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Like you (I’m making an assumption here, but it’s a fair one since you’re reading this website), I hate the idea of billions of single-use plastic water and soda bottles going to waste, littering our waterways and landscape. It’s about time someone figured out a way to put those discarded bottles to good use. GreenSmart has done just that with a rugged and cool-looking laptop sleeve.

I was intrigued, though frankly a bit skeptical, when I received an offer of a laptop sleeve made from recycled water bottles. But I was pleasantly surprised when it arrived — and I remain delighted. I’ve been using my GreenSmart laptop sleeve daily since July, and it’s been amazingly durable.

When I say durable, I mean it’s withstood several plane trips and lengthy road trips, and traveled back and forth to the office each day in an overloaded computer bag for more than six months. Frankly, I’m hard on both my laptop and my computer bag. It’s not that I’m careless, just that I tend to carry way too much on every trip — including my daily commute….

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Naturally Pain Free by Letha Hadady, D.Ac.

December 26, 2012 by  
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Author Letha Hadady knows what it means to live with pain. And, as an acupuncturist trained in Asian herbs and other treatment modalities, she knows how to overcome pain.

In ​NATURALLY PAIN FREE, ​Hadady, who has a spinal disc injury, writes, “The primary function of pain is communication. . . . This book is a tool to stop suffering.”

NATURALLY PAIN FREE is an almost encyclopedic compilation of herbal remedies for chronic and acute pain. aving never read anything like it before, I was grateful for its organization and plain English treatment of an extremely complex subject. It is not, however, simply a textbook on Asian remedies written by an acupuncturist. It is a work of art.

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My 5: Jacob Sackin, Author and Environmental Educator

December 24, 2012 by  
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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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The Responsible Company: What We’ve Learned from Patagonia’s First 40 Years by Yvon Chouinard & Vincent Stanley

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When Joe and I began writing this blog late in 2008, we were soon introduced to Patagonia as a leader in sustainable business practices — or, as founder Yvon Chouinard prefers to call them—responsible business practices. We found’s Footprint Chronicles to be an especially intriguing—and daring—step toward a company’s taking responsibility for its impact on the environment. So, when I was offered an opportunity to review The Responsible Company: What We’ve Learned from Patagonia by Yvon Chouinard and Vincent Stanley, I eagerly agreed.

If you’re familiar with Patagonia, you’ll understand how Chouinard and Stanley are qualified to write such a book. Patagonia is known for its commitment to the environment, for its celebration of the natural world, and for providing its employees with a rewarding and well-balanced work life (see Chouinard’s 2002 book, Let My People Go Surfing)….

There’s no self-congratulatory back-slapping in this book. The authors tell the story of their painful realization of the harm their businesses (Patagonia is “an offshoot of the Chouinard Equipment Company, which made excellent mountain-climbing gear”) were doing to the environment and the financial risks they took when they committed to improvement….

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5 Surprising Energy Drains in Your Home – and What You Can Do about Them

December 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Energy, Front Page, Homes, Slideshow, Tips

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Friends of ours just bought a home and were more than a little shocked after receiving their first set of utility bills. Whether you’re looking to save money or just want to reduce your environmental impact, there are easy do-it-yourself fixes that can make your home leaner and greener in a matter of minutes….

Lots of energy-saving tips focus on your hot water heater, or your heating and cooling systems, but the kitchen can also be a huge source of energy loss. Refrigerators are the biggest energy hogs, since they run constantly — if you have an
older model refrigerator and aren’t afraid of a unique look, cover it in shag carpet to keep it insulated.

Your oven and stovetop are the second largest energy users, but you can make small changes to save energy, like using appropriately sized pots on each burner and only boiling just as much water as you need. If you’re not cooking multiple things on your range at one time, consider using a toaster oven instead for smaller items. And, if you use the self-cleaning feature on your large oven, try using it once you’ve just completed cooking a meal, so the temperature is already high….

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Top 5 Green Flooring Options for Your Home

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If you’re an environment-conscious homeowner, consider using one of the following green flooring options for your next remodeling project. Eco-friendly floors are aesthetically appealing as well as environmentally responsible. Green flooring adds character to your home and, in many cases, can even help save you money over the alternatives.

The top 5 options for green flooring include:
• Cork
• Laminate
• Reclaimed Wood
• Bamboo
• Wool Carpet …

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Green Is In at the 2013 Dallas Auto Show

December 17, 2012 by  
Filed under 2013, Blog, Car, Diesel, Electric Cars, Front Page, Hybrid, Slideshow

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The 2013 DFW Auto Show in Dallas may be months away, but anticipation is already growing in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Dozens of automakers including BMW, Ford, Audi, Scion and Jeep have announced their participation in the event, and DFW Metropolitan New Car Dealers Association has opened the Dallas Convention Center showroom to eco-friendly businesses looking to sell their products or services. For as little as $200, sustainability-conscious businesses can promote their “green” initiatives in a dedicated booth.

Automakers’ recent releases have added a “green” tint to the market, and fuel economy could be the defining element of the 2013 Dallas Auto Show. Toyota’s Prius, a hybrid, has inspired the next wave of fuel-efficient technology. Clean diesel technology, all-electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cells could all be on display in Dallas from March 13-17, 2013.

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GIVEAWAY! Balinese Earrings from Sandpiper Imports

December 16, 2012 by  
Filed under Bali, Blog, Contest, Entrepreneurs, Fair Trade, Front Page, Slideshow

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Looking for the perfect gift for a woman with discerning taste and an interest in the exotic? Courtesy of the good folks at Sandpiper Imports, Blue Planet Green Living is delighted to offer you the chance to win these beautiful brass earrings from Bali.

Sandpiper Imports sells gorgeous jewelry and accessories hand-crafted by Balinese artisans. We haven’t tried any of these products, but they certainly look beautiful on the website. Even better, the products are Fair Trade, meaning that the artists are not being ripped off by the retailers. And, one more good thing— the founders, Sara and Erika, donate a portion of profits to two charitable organizations in the artisans’ communities: Bali Animal Welfare Association and Bali Adoption and Rehabilitation Center.

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DIY Natural Cleaning Products for Your Home

December 15, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, DIY, Front Page, Green Cleaning, Homes, Slideshow, Sustainability

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Take a stroll down the cleaning supply aisle in your local market, and you’ll find no shortage of ways to polish and shine your home. You will, however, find a shortage of chemical-free, unscented supplies that promote healthy cleaning and no ill-effects. When it comes to making your home sparkle, most commercially available cleaners will do the trick, but when it comes to your health, homemade cleansers are the best choice for safety and shine….

Natural and inexpensive, a mixture of one part vinegar, one part water provides a gentle cleaning solution for the hard surfaces of bathrooms and kitchens, including stoves, countertops, tile, and floors. Simply spray the solution on, allow it to sit for a few minutes, and wipe it down with a cloth. For more difficult cleaning jobs, heat the solution until warm or use undiluted vinegar.

TIP: To make sure you’re starting out with the cleanest solution, use filtered water in your mixture to avoid spreading chlorine, sediment, and other pollutants found in water around your home….

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Rainwater Harvesting Options for Homeowners

December 11, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Front Page, Gardening, Slideshow, Sustainability, Water

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Depending on where you live, your water bill can be one of your larger monthly expenses, especially during the summer. With the help of landscapers, you can set up a rainwater harvesting system that will save you money and reduce the demand for water in your community.
Rainwater harvesting systems can be as simple as using a barrel or as complex as installing underground tanks. Whichever method you choose, it’s important to remember that your landscape design should prevent water from pooling around the foundation of your home. Also keep in mind that plain rainwater is non-potable, so you’ll need to set up a purification system if you plan to drink it….

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The Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Mystery: What’s With All the Labels?

December 8, 2012 by  
Filed under Beauty Products, Blog, Front Page, Slideshow, Take Action, Vegan

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Like a lot of people, the thought of applying cosmetics that were once slathered into rabbits’ eyes or forced down rats’ throats makes me want to make a mad dash for the makeup remover. But navigating the sea of cosmetics and decoding their labels to figure out which were and which were not tested on animals can seem tougher than getting “Call Me Maybe” out of your head. So I looked into some of the most common labels found on cosmetics, and here’s what I found…

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Solar in the Community – Creating a Greener Britain

December 6, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Community, England, Front Page, Slideshow, Solar, Sustainability

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Grey skies, wind, rain and no sign of the sun. That’s the British Winter, most of the Autumn, much of the Spring, and a good deal of the Summer too! But, regardless of the climate, there is clearly enough sunshine for solar energy to thrive, and in recent years the UK has witnessed an unprecedented […]

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Iglu by Jacob Sackin

December 4, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Books, Climate Change, Front Page, Refugees, Slideshow, War

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As I walked outside on the day that I wrote this, I smelled the sweet air of springtime. Though I had gloves, I didn’t need them. My coat was open, and I didn’t shiver. Not so strange if this had been early in May. But it’s December in Iowa. Much as I love spring and enjoy the relative warmth of 63-degree days, I find the moderate temperature most unsettling. December isn’t supposed to be warm where I live. This false, fall “spring” is the harbinger of a changed climate that is already dramatically altering weather patterns around the world. Yet, climate skeptics still fill the airwaves with denial.

In his young adult novel, Iglu, author Jacob Sackin imagines a world in which climate change is no longer questioned by anyone. Climate refugees are fleeing the lower 48 states to Alaska, pushing back the Native people and seizing the land for themselves. War rages on as the Inuit people fight back against the encroaching masses and the cruel Skyhawk soldiers sent to ensure the safety of the refugees.

The heroine of the story is April, an Inupiaq girl running for her life, narrowly evading the Skyhawk troops who have captured — or possibly killed — her parents. Everything familiar to April has been destroyed by bombing or bulldozers. Inupiaq people are being rounded up, forced into camps where they can be contained and controlled. April’s family has been torn apart, and she is left alone to fend for herself. In this futuristic coming-of-age story, April finds the strength not only to survive, but also to fight against the cruelty and injustice of the powerful U.S. government. She isn’t perfect — no realistic character is — but she makes a powerful role model for youngsters who are themselves coming to grips with an unfair world and an uncertain environmental future….

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