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  • Mark Piazzalunga

    DESERTEC project, Sahara Sun could power Europe by 2050

    By Mark Piazzalunga

    Sahara desert climate is hot and arid, everybody knows it. So how can this simple and well-known fact become the idea to power a continent like Europe? Let’s start from the principle: renewable energy is the future of energy; we assume that this sentence is true since all facts gets to this point. Second principle: European territory is restricted and allows the construction of a few plants that could use renewable energy. Paradoxically, countries like Africa have renewable sources, particularly solar, in abundance but scarce funds to make the best of these resources. Now find the connection. Is it possible to produce huge amounts of solar energy in Africa and transport them to Europe through energy infrastructures? Apparently yes, according to DESERTEC project developers and supporters. And what is DESERTEC? It’s an initiative of the Club of Rome (a global think tank that has its headquarters in Switzerland) started in 2009. Directly from the official website of the project (Desertec.org): "The DESERTEC concept was developed by a network of politicians, scientists and economists from around the Mediterranean, from which was born the DESERTEC Foundation. Demonstrates a way to provide climate protection, energy security and the development of sustainable energy generation from sites where renewable energy sources are at their most plentiful." In practical terms? Connect renewable energy power plants in Africa to Europe through a network of HVDC (High Voltage Direct Current) systems. The Foundation target is to build several renewable power plants of various types (mainly wind, photovoltaic and solar concentration) throughout North Africa. To support the project financially, the Foundation and other 12 companies (including Deutsche Bank, E.ON, RWE and ABB) created an industrial initiative: Dii GmbH. The construction project would continue until 2050 and for that date, the cost is estimated at € 400 billion, which means $ 546,720,000,000, approximately seven times Bill Gates’ fortune. It’s little bit expensive (life on Mars seems cheaper) but the entire network could provide Europe with the 15-20% of electricity that it needs. We must also consider the drastic decrease of pollution, direct effect of the project. This project isn’t just an idea but it seems an accurate and long-term plan. This could be an opportunity to connect two continents and to give them economic opportunities and jobs. There could be some problems like the wars and the instability of some of North Africa countries or how to get all 40 nations to agree to an arrangement for subsidizing the green electricity. There’s also the possibility to build the plants in Europe, just $ 54 billion more, and doing some math it brings to a shocking number: €2 per citizen per year to keep tens of thousands of jobs in Europe -- and to prevent Europe from becoming dependent on foreign countries for its electricity. Well, the project just started and it has the funds to go forward. We can't wait to see the results. Photo from Desertec.org
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  • Megan Bonetti

    Conferencing Climate Change: Teamwork or Tug-of-war?

    By Megan Bonetti

    India. Culture, cows and rubbish. As an Aussie living for a short time in India it is such an intriguing country. Indians love their diverse nation yet they use the streets like rubbish dumps. Even my friends here tell me it’s ok to throw my paddle-pop wrapper out the car window. I can’t… so I just hold it tight and wait till I get home. Growing up in Australia, those ‘emu hunts’ in primary school have willed my littering days away. Yet I suspect that even my household trash bin will just be dumped across the road for the cows to eat or worse still, burnt on the street…for the cows to eat. This is India. Love it or hate it. (#tii) As an Australian social worker volunteering with an NGO in Southern India I witness the large divide between the rich and poor of this incredibly colourful nation. I work with many children whose whole families have had to migrate from various parts of India due to the rapid effects of drought on their land and the significant urbanisation of major cities in the last 10 years. It turns out India has seen a boom in it’s industrial and technological trades a little later than it’s western neighbours and they are loving it. But India’s urban boom is threatened with westerners telling them they have to stop producing and polluting. The earth doesn’t like it. Sorry India…We made our big capitalist bucks, but you don’t get that chance. Just when things are getting good and you’re developing astronomically, your main source of energy is being taken away. It turns out fossil fuels are the cheapest form of energy for the developing world, especially as they try in earnest to develop the same standard of living as we have. So as one the most formidable countries in the developing world, India not only has the pressures of navigating a massive population but also has to figure out how to go green on the cheap. It’s interesting that the Turnbull government has reluctantly agreed on a 5% reduction in carbon emissions in the next five years. “Phew! Glad we got through that one boys.” They wipe their sweaty brows while developing countries are drowning, burning and trying to survive on scant resources. These countries are just trying to make a crust, while Eurocentric nations are slowly turning a baguette into organic multigrain sourdough (and throwing the crusts to their hobby cows). If the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris is truly the last attempt for international cooperation, leaders cannot just show and tell their contribution and sit back with folded arms. But how can mere human individuals promote serious teamwork? This brings me back to the children I work with here in India. Every day their parent’s lives are tied to corrupt building associations. They are bonded labourers—gypsies moving from construction to construction. These families have no hope of returning to their now desolate homeland and are not provided social security measures that protect their livelihood. Then there is India’s neighbour, low-lying Bangladesh, experiencing saltwater intrusion that poisons whole water supplies for entire villages. In our own backyard we see Australian farmers shooting all their cattle only to turn the gun on themselves under the shadow of unprecedented drought. This is human impact. Global warming is not just about penguins and polar bears. Climate change is a social justice issue. We live in a globalised world. The industrial revolution brought us here; and climate change is the consequence. No longer do we just neighbour cities, we neighbour nations. The leaders of Australia must be held accountable to all their neighbours including the ones just trying to keep their head above water. It simply won’t do for wealthy nations, such as Australia, to show the world their own country’s carbon reductions and sit back down. This summit can’t work as a set menu; it has to be a potluck dinner, a time for sharing, understanding and safeguarding. For the sake of our beautiful earth and the many diverse cultures of the human race, this time I hope and pray that the leaders of the world provide a resounding voice for the marginalised. This summit and our government must not stop at figures, but uphold the basic democratic and human rights principles that cradle modern society. The United Nations was created so that man-made and worldwide calamities could no longer grasp our world with such authority. Well, it turns out a world war with Mother Nature is knocking on our doorstep. Will we listen and respond? I hope so.   For more information please visit the below links. They offer great insights into climate change realities and are positive and accessible resources for engaging the conversation. The reality of climate change | David Puttnam | TEDxDublin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBjtO-0tbKU India: Climate Change Impacts http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2013/06/19/india-climate-change-impacts Climate Change and the End of Australia http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/climate-change-and-the-end-of-australia-20111003 The Critical Decade: Climate Change and Health (Australia) http://www.climatecouncil.org.au/uploads/1bb6887d6f8cacd5d844fc30b0857931.pdf GoPro: Climate Change and the Optimistic Future https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sT6jtTtsG_M Paris Climate Conference: COP21 Explained https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-qd8YCaoQ4 Why is the Paris UN climate summit important? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnztR5JllA4 Adam asks new PM Malcolm Turnbull on climate change in Question Time https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqXtKt-Is54 Morgan Freeman's Powerful Climate Change Short Film https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YQIaOldDU8  
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    • 772 views
  • Joseph Ramondeli

    Black Friday Promotes Over-Consumption and Waste

    By Joseph Ramondeli

    Black Friday Promotes Over-Consumption and Waste               Every year Thanksgiving weekend is overshadowed by Black Friday and in recent years Cyber Monday as well. Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time when families can get together, even if it’s just for a day or dinner, to talk and reconnect. However every year more American’s are focused on shopping. Stores are now open by 8:00 pm on Thanksgiving Day resulting in people sitting at the dinner table with their families while browsing on their phones for the best deals that they hope to buy in a few hours.  This is just another example of how our modern, technologically advanced society is constantly becoming more materialistic. Aside from Black Friday overshadowing an American holiday and tradition, it is an annual example of how Americans over-consume and by doing so are very wasteful.  A huge fraction of purchased goods during Black Friday and Cyber Monday are things that people don’t need, they are things they think they need. Advertisements and social trends play a big role in the impact of this event (I refuse to call it a holiday) and in our consumption behavior in general.             Companies are tricking and forcing us to buy un-needed goods through the use of planned obsolescence and perceived obsolescence.  Planned obsolescence is disappointing because it refers to how companies purposely make products to only last a few years and by doing so force consumers to by new products from them every couple of years. The most common example of this is electronic devices. Apple creates a new IPhone every year so that once yours break “accidentally” there’s a brand new, more expensive one to purchase as a replacement. Not to mention that such companies stop making old models, forcing you to buy the newest model. On the other hand, perceived obsolescence is promoted by companies but ultimately results from our own social actions. Companies, through advertisements, constantly throw the promotion of new goods in our face. It’s almost impossible to go anywhere or do anything without seeing an advertisement of some sort. These advertisements tend to increase around the holiday season, hence the origin of Black Friday. The main reason such advertisements work is due to the social pressure we put on each other and ourselves. Everyone wants the next new model or brand and once a friend or family member purchases something then we are pressured and attracted to buying it as well. The biggest example of this is the fashion industry, where new trends come and go each season resulting in constant purchasing of new, unnecessary clothing. These companies are clearly getting the better of us based on the success of such events as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.             So why is over-consumption such a bad thing, why should we care if people waste there money on unnecessary goods? It’s simple: overconsumption leads to waste! One of the downfalls to the technological advancements of today’s world is that we create materials that cannot be found in our natural world. This means that when we throw something out in the garbage it will never decompose. Purchasing many of today’s consumer goods is bad enough because most cannot be recycled and will sit in landfills, but over-consumption takes this once step further in that we buy more than we need! We buy new clothes or new phones before our old ones are worn our or broken. By doing so we are creating more waste because we constantly thrown away products that are still functional and contribute the ever-growing amount of waste humanity has created on this planet. In order to help reduce the waste we create of course we should recycle and reuse as much as possible. However, I believe that the creation of waste should be stopped at its source, and that’s our consumer purchasing. Buying less and using goods to there fullest is a sure way to decrease waste. Resisting social pressure and advertisements is key to getting this accomplished. So next year put the phones away and turn the TV off at the dinner table during Thanksgiving, you don’t need them. Joseph Ramondelli  
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Our community blogs

  1. Under en presskonferens på Gotland meddelande klimat- och miljöminister Åsa Romson att Ojnare blir ett naturskyddsområde – vilket troligtvis sätter stopp för den planerade stenbrytningen i området.

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    Klimat- och miljöminister Åsa Romson meddelade i förmiddags att regeringen kommer att utnämna området kring Bästeträsk till ett Natura-2000 område. Beslutet betyder att det blir näst intill omöjligt för bolagen Nordkalk och SMA Mineral att få tillstånd till storskalig stenbrytning i området då de i sådana fall måste förhålla sig till betydligt tuffare lagar.

    – Området kring Bästeträsk är ett världsunikt och omistligt naturområde. Dagens beslut visar att regeringen tar skyddet av Sveriges natur på stort allvar, säger Åsa Romson i ett pressmeddelande.

    Beslutet är början på slutet för den långvariga och segslitna domstolsprocess kring Ojnareskogen som har pågått i tio år och ställt miljöintressen – främst en oro över stenbrytningens påverkan på Gotlands grundvatten – mot nya industrijobb.

    Världsnaturfonden WWF, som tillsammans med andra miljöorganisationer har arbetat länge för att stoppa planerna på kalkstensbrytning i Ojnare, välkomnar regeringens beslut.

    – För WWF är det självklart att detta unika område ska skyddas både för sin unika natur och dess betydelse för vattenförsörjning för både människor, djur och natur. Vi hoppas nu att Naturvårdsverket och Länsstyrelsen går vidare och gör nationalpark av området som planerat, säger Håkan Wirtén, generalsekreterare på WWF.

    Men på Nordkalk och SMA Mineral är man idag besvikna på regeringens beslut.

    – Jobben, det gotländska samhället och nordisk industri kommer också konkret att lida av detta beslut, säger Nordkalks VD Jarkko Kaplin i ett pressmeddelande.

    – Jag känner djupt för de medarbetare och entreprenörer som vi tvingats varsla. Jobb växer ju inte på träd på Gotland som alla vet, säger Daniel Juvél, vd för SMA Mineral, i en kommentar till SVT Nyheter.

    Regeringen meddelade samtidigt att ett näringslivspaket för Gotland om 100 miljoner kronor ska tas fram i samråd med regionen, näringslivet och facket.

    – Regeringen anser att det är viktigt att Gotland fortsatt har en livskraftig industri och näringsliv. Därför kommer vi tillsammans med regionen att ta fram ett näringslivspaket som särskilt fokuserar på framtida industriell utveckling, säger Åsa Romson.

    Förslag på nya Natura 2000-områden:

    Regeringen föreslår följande nya områden på Gotland att ingå i Natura 2000-nätverket: Bruten, Stenstugu skog, Jusarve skog, Hajdhagen, Sajgs, Sigfride, Suderbys hällar, Kyllahajdar, Ormhällar-Bromyr, Pärkhagen, Stora Vikers, Stadshagen, Slättflis, Törrvesklint och Jungfrun.

    Områden som föreslås utökas: Bungenäs, Asunden, Herrgårdsklint, Fide prästänge, Hässle klint, Bojsvätar, Storsund, Uppstaig, Danbo och Bästeträsk (inklusive området vid Ojnare). 

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    Our members regularly publish good and interesting blog posts here in our community. And we often feature some of the best posts. Featured blog posts gets highly visible on both the Green Blog frontpage and the Community Blogs page, as well as next to all our regular environment news. Simply put: if your blog post gets featured it will be seen by a lot of people.

    We tend to feature posts that are topical, interesting and thought-provoking. Here are some friendly tips on how you can make your post even better, and more likely to get featured:

    We cannot stress this enough. References are important! Add links to news sites, Wikipedia entries, blog posts, etc., that supports the claims you make in your blog post.

    Everyone likes photos! So add an Entry image on your next blog post. You can also upload and add individual images as well as photo albums to your blog post using our Green Blog Gallery.

    Label you post with a category and tags, tags, and more tags! Different categories for your posts are also useful. While you can use several tags that are relevant to your blog post's content, we recommend you to only use one category per post.

    Good luck and maybe we'll feature your blog post next time! :)

  3. ZED's Blog

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    Recent Entries

    Choosing a natural gas supplier in Ohio can be an easy decision for the residents of the state to make if they do a little comparison shopping. Selecting an Ohio natural gas supplier is the same as shopping for anything else.The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio allows Ohio residents to choose the provider that is right for them and their household. You want to choose the provider that offers you natural gas at the best price and that provides the best service for you and your family. There are 4 natural gas providers from which Ohio residents can choose.

    Using the Apples to Apples Chart Provided by the PUCO

    The price of natural gas can be obtained from each supplier. As prices fluctuate, you'll need to take into consideration that the quote you get today may change by the beginning of the next week, so ask your the supplier if the price they quote you is a fixed price. Also ask if there is a minimum amount that you will be billed for the month. Inquire about the price of 100 cubic feet and 1000 cubic feet. See if the provier offers budget billing, which means that they will estimate your usage over a 12-month period and bill you by dividing the estimated amount by 12; this may help make paying your natural gas bills for the winter easier on your budget.

    Customer Service

    Make sure that the provider that you are considering has a customer serivce center that can help you with any questions or information that you may need. You might also want to ensure that they have a website that you can use to assist you. Check to see if they offer other services or products that may be useful to you and your family, as well.

    Terms of the Contract

    Enquire to see if there are any termination fees that you will be charged if you choose to discontinue service with the provider that you are using. Some providers will offer a month-to-month contract, some will offer a 12-month contract, some use a yearly contract, while with others it can be up to 3 years. Some natural gas providers will also charge new customers a deposit, and these rates can vary as well. Be sure you know the details of your existing contract if you are considering changing providers to ensure that it will be worth it financially if your expiration date is not close.

    Keep This in Mind

    Having more than one natural gas provider makes the market more competitive, and this means you could get a better price on your gas. However, you have to read the fine print for the details of any cancellation fees and service start up costs with a new provider. Warmer winters can drive the prices of natural gas down, making your decision easier.

    Take advantage of being able to choose from more than one natural gas provider in Ohio by doing your homework and visiting their websites so you have a clear understanding of their terms and prices. You don't have to go with the provider that sends you their direct mail marketing information. Feel free to call and ask all of the questions that you need to so that you can make a smart decision on choosing the best provider for you and your family.

    Ruth Samuels works for a gas company in Ohio. She spends her free time writing to help home owners understand this important industry better. Click here to learn about Ohio gas companies.

  4. It is likely before 2015 the government will announce an end to the free plastic carrier bag in England. Should a tax or ban be introduced on carrier bags?

    Governments and local authorities around the world have already banned or taxed free issue carrier bags, and there is pressure for legislation in England. They argue that cities must spend vast sums to clean up the bags and the damage caused by them, money that's better spent elsewhere. Not to mention that plastic bags are a nuisance on the environment, polluting waterways and other natural areas and killing off animals. Banning plastic bags, the activists say, will redirect funds to infrastructure and spur entrepreneurial efforts to come up with alternatives to plastic. Is this the answer?

    Plastic carrier bags make up less than 1% of litter on our streets. Most litter is from snack food packaging, bottles and cans, banning or taxing plastic bags will make little or no difference to the volume of litter on our streets. However, litter is a problem of social behavior, and is not specific to any one material or product.

    In 2011, 8bn plastic bags were issued in the UK and that was a 5.6% increase on 2010. The recession may have been a contributory factory with families changing their shopping behavior with smaller, more frequent shops each week. Just over a year ago a 5p charge was introduced in Wales and the amount of single-use bags has fallen significantly. Latest figures show a 70-96% reduction in the use of single-use plastic bags. Northern Ireland is set to bring in a 5p charge in 2013; Scotland had completed a consultation on a proposed charge of 5p that, if adopted, would leave England the only country without one.

    In the UK, the packaging industry employs tens of thousands of people people and generates over £10bn into the economy. The answer to the problems associated with plastic bag use is not a ban or tax, but better environmental management. As consumers we must be aware that we can make positive choices to help the environment in the way that we shop. Everyone who cuts back on the number of bags that they use makes a contribution to saving resources and reducing waste. Many materials need to be managed if they are not to harm the environment. Indeed, if not properly managed, paper can be a worse polluter than plastic bags; it occupies nine times as much space landfills, and does not break down substantially faster than plastic. If a free-issue bag can be made from renewable materials that allow the bag to be multi-use and then compostable in the home, should this be part of a tax or ban?

    Carrier bags are a distraction and a diversion. Major supermarkets don’t want to be the first to introduce a self-levy and do have voluntary agreements in place. There is growing public support and media spin that will go in favor of government action. Unfortunately, of all the bigger environmental problems we face today, carrier bags are not one of the critical issues. If only politicians were as keen to address climate change, biodiversity loss, the collapse of marine fisheries, and a lot more of the environmental problems rather than ‘window dressing’.

    A proposed tax or ban in England would discriminate unjustly against plastics and would represent an anti-competitive move and a serious restraint on trade, damaging jobs and an industry already battling against over-regulation and under-investment.

    Shameem Kazmi E s.kazmi@my.open.ac.uk Twitter: sjkazmi

    Linkedin: Shameem Kazmi Skype: shameem.kazmi

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    We're looking forward to the release of the 2013 World Nuclear Industry Status Report tomorrow. The Greens-EFA in the European Parliament (EP) will host the international release of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report, elaborated by a team of six experts from France, Japan and the UK under the direction of renowned nuclear expert Mycle Schneider.

    “The Report sets forth in painstaking detail the actual experience and achievements of nuclear energy around the world”, writes Peter Bradford, former commissioner of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in his foreword to the 140-page reference document. In addition to the careful assessment of the global industry, this year’s report also contains chapters on nuclear economics and an overview of the status of the ongoing Fukushima crisis.

    Key findings of the 2013 edition include:

    • A record drop of nuclear electricity generation in the world in 2012.
    • Rapid aging of nuclear power plants: almost half of the world fleet has operated for at least 30 years.
    • In 2012, for the first time, China, Germany, India and Japan generated more power from renewables than from nuclear plants.
    • Water management at the Fukushima site is critical, with an estimated 400,000 tons in precarious storage, containing many times more radioactivity than was released to the air in the weeks after 11 March 2011.

    The report will be released on Thursday, 11 July, 4:30 a.m. EDT. A livestream will be available here: http://www.greenmediabox.eu/live/

  6. Nowadays more and more people and institutions become really concerned about the environmental issues the humanity faces up every day. A lot of organizations were established in order to make people understand the importance of preserving the natural beauty and resources. The fashion industry has always been blamed for being careless towards the nature. A lot of campaigns against the animal abuse and the fur used for making over expensive clothes. Luckily a great number of world famous designers took the standpoint of the society into consideration and slowly but surely we see the first signs of the eco - friendly also known as a sustainable fashion worldwide.

    The term organic fashion itself is mainly associated with materials such as cotton, wool, silk etc. Although these materials, at its initial condition, are harmless, their usage in the fashion industry is a subject to fierce discussions. We are constantly encouraged and advised to keep the nature clean, to eat organic food and use non – toxic cleaning detergents but the reality is that even if we buy a piece of clothing made of organic we fool ourselves. The cotton and the other eco – friendly materials go through a thorough process where bleach and other chemicals are used, which makes the eco fashion tendencies useless.

    Let's take the most popular material – cotton as an example. It is thought to be the most popular clothing material but how can it be eco- friendly when there's a soil erosion, the usage of water should be reduced and the soil is treated with different pesticides and chemicals whose intention, by all means, is not to help the cotton grow as an ecologically clean product.

    And despite the fact that the sustainable fashion has it's opponents, more and more Hollywood celebrities become fans of the eco clothing and obviously they are the main reason for its popularity lately. Their dedicated fans follow every action of their idol and if he is wearing a cotton shirt, made of organic cotton that's a fair reason for the fans to buy the same. This method really works and the world designers see perspective in it. The attention of the international press has also been attracted towards the eco- friendly fashion benefits.

    In other words every newspaper and environmentally concerned website would recommend making a clearance of your wardrobe, stop wearing clothes made of a material different than cotton, wool, silk and even bamboo and buy stuff that doesn't pose a danger to the biodiversity. You probably know that the organic fashion items are a way more expensive but if they help us to preserve the environment clean, then the amount of money pays off.

    You can easily find on – line stores where the clothes are believed to be eco – friendly and the fact that designers, whose names have always been associated with luxury and stylish dresses take part in such a tremendous initiative such as making the eco- fashion clothes popular and desirable items is more or less convincing reason that the organic fashion is somehow better than, say it, the nylon.

    Even if you can't afford to have all your clothes made of natural materials you can at least be mindful about what and how you recycle. Every attempt to keep the nature clean is worthy of trying.

    Author Bio: Connie Jameson is passionate blogger who loves to write about fashion, beauty, health, cleaning and many other topics. She currently works as a manager of London carpet cleaners and she has a lot of knowledge and creative ideas to share.

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    With so many housing developments today, forests are slowly dying. Forest serves as the natural habitat to a lot of animal species. What will happen if the forests are gone? First possibility is that animals will dwell with human in cities or towns. Can you imagine sleeping soundly then you realize that a python is next to you? Or a big bear is sitting in your veranda? Second possibility is that wild animals will die, which eventually affects the food chain.

    Dead forest is sure to have negative impact to the next generation. There will be no more forest to hike or trek.Lush green environment will become limited. Needless to say, many other detrimental effects will likely happen. This is why it is critical to help save the forest. In our own little ways, there are things we can do. If you cut trees, be sure to replace it new seedlings. For instance if you want to cut 1 old tree, you should plant 5 new trees. If all people share the same mission, our forest will stay until the next generation and the next.

    Image from sxc.hu

  8. A lot of people are shipping Jack Frost and Elsa these days despite coming from different movies--Rise of the Guardians and Frozen, respectively--because of their similar abilities. The cool pair seems like they would make a match in frozen heaven and if we were whimsical, we would blame all this freezing weather to this icy couple. Whimsy aside, it’s important that we set our focus on how to keep warm in frigid temperatures and do it in a way that won’t be harmful to our environment.

    Pile on the Layers (clothing not fat)

    Putting on a jacket is always a good idea when it’s chilly outside. But the layering takes on a completely different level when you’re faced with below zero temperatures even when you’re just inside your home. It’s so tempting to just turn up the thermostat so you can immediately feel the toasty warmth slowly permeate the house. Cranking up the heat is an inviting idea but you won’t think so when your next energy bill arrives. The next best option you have a simple one--pile on as many layers of clothing as you can. I talked with my friend Amari from New York and she put on six layers of clothing and she was still cold. The number of layers depends on what works for you and this way, you can conserve energy by keeping your hand off the thermostat.

    Shut the Cold Out

    “Baby it’s cold outside,” croons the lyrics of a romantic winter song by Frank Loesser. And while this is an apt description for the freezing conditions outside, if you don’t take care in keeping the cold out, pretty soon you’ll be changing the lyrics to “Baby, it’s cold inside”. The cold has a way of sneaking up on you, whether it’s under the door or through barely there gaps that are almost unnoticeable. The point is, there should be no gaps. You have to fill in the gaps so that you can shut the cold out. A simple yet eco-friendly way of doing this is to make use of the things you already have to create draft dodgers of blockers. If you have very worn and ripped towels that you weren’t able to throw out yet, you can use them to fill in the space between the floor and the door. Make sure not only the doors but also vents are closed especially in rooms that are seldom used. If you shut out the cold, you will keep heat from escaping as well, which means that you won’t need to crank up the heat anymore.

    Use Alternative Energy

    We need energy to help generate heat in our homes to keep us warm. We also need it to help us fix hot meals that seem heavensent on particularly cold days. Energy is needed but to do it the green way, using alternative energy is better. While mother nature’s freezing breath casts a cold spell in whatever town or city you’re in, at least you have the energy you need to help generate the heat in the face of icy temperatures. There are alternative energy providers like Ambit Energy that can help you keep up with your green goals and at the same time keep you warm. If you haven’t tried alternative energy yet, you can browse through testimonials like this Ambit Energy review to give you an idea of why alternative energy is better for you and the environment.

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    Ever since electric fireplaces have become popular in the market, these gadgets are now replacing the old and traditional fireplaces. But just like most appliances, if you don't take proper care of your electrical fireplaces, then you may have to contend with a faulty electric fireplace that might cause a lot of problems in the future. In fact, just a month ago, a neighbor lost his house because of faulty wirings durin the fireplace installation. Well, at least nobodty got caught in the flames, but still, losing one's home because of a faulty device is kinda depressing and frustrating at the same time.

    At the same time, an electric fireplace also helps Mother Nature. Since you are not using real fire and charcoal, you are not contributing to the disturbingly gigantic greenhouse effect that is weakening the ozone layer.

    If you don't want such accidents to happen to your family, then my advice would be to take care of your electric fireplace. If you have no idea how to do so, then you may want to check out this article for your reference:

    1. Always remove dust that that is found in the outer part of the fireplace. It should be cleaned and vacuumed regularly to avoid dust accumulation. Don't forget to include the inside areas and the control compartment; this is where dust is most likely to accumulate because some people don't bother cleaning those areas. Because the front panel of the electric fireplace is made of glass, use mild liquid soap and water to clean the glass. Never use abrasive cleaners as it can cause scratches on the surface.

    2. Don't forget to check the power outlets. There are times when you might carelessly plug your electric fireplace in a broken plug. This could short circuit your gadget or worse, cause a house fire when the fire is undetected. Also, don't connect the fireplace to a socket that is already connected with a lot of appliances inside the house. It's one short way of burning your house to the ground!

    3. As a rule of thumb, always remember to replace the light bulbs regularly. While there are no problems in using the same set of bulbs all the time, it's advisable to change the bulbs in order to retain the natural image of wood burning in a fireplace. If you feel that it's time to replace some of the bulbs, just observe the fireplace. The flame looks uneven when the electric fireplace is on.

    4. Keep all flammable objects away from the electric fireplace. Sure, it's powered through electricity, but it can still ignite any flammable object, especially when it starts heating up! Make sure that the fireplace is placed in an area where other electrical objects may cause problems for the appliance. Also, make sure that the fireplace is placed far away from an aquarium; you don't want the fish inside the tank to die because the water got too hot!

    In any case, simply follow these simple steps and protect yourself from the harsh, cold weather with an electric fireplace. It's a ozone-layer friendly way of keeping yourself warm while it's snowing outside. You can buy one from Electric Fireplaces Direct, Ebay or Amazon online or at any other appliance center near you.

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    KQB has developed a campaign calling for the prohibition of the release of helium balloons in the state of Queensland because of the threat to wildlife and source of litter forced into waterways. When deflated balloons are floating in waterways they can be ingested by marine life such as turtles, fish and dolphins. Despite being made from biodegradable latex, Balloons floating in the ocean can take up to 12 month to degrade.

    Balloons have a devastating impact on wildlife and the environment. Helium balloons climb until the atmosphere and then slowly deflate falling on the land and in the vast oceans. This is the main reason why balloons is clearly considered litter. The Queensland government spends a considerable amount of money collecting a growing number of balloons off beaches, hiking trails and in the middle of the ocean. Balloons are often swallowed by turtles, birds, dolphins and whales getting lodged in the digestive tract and causing, in most of the cases, death. As a consequence, every year millions of animals die around the globe due to ingestion of balloons.

    In addition, Helium is the second most abundant element in the planet but this is not a reason to continue wasting tons of this gas every year until our stock is at risk of burning out. Probably, in the future, our grandchildren will not believe that we have used such an important gas to fill balloons. For this reason, our community should not be wasting such a precious gas on non-essential purposes such as party decoration.

    Unfortunately, the world’s reserve of helium is fast depleting and most experts are predicting that we will run out of the element within the next 25 to 40 years. Scientist warn that helium is becoming so scarce that its use in balloons has to be limited or stopped. Helium is used mostly in hospitals for keeping magnets cool in MRI scanners and is mixed with oxygen to aid the breathing of the seriously ill and newborn babies. It has been reported that the use of helium resources for filling party balloons constituted up to 10% of global helium consumption in 2009 (Wothers, Royal Institute Christmas lectures, 2012). For this reason, this element should be properly managed and only used for scientific and medical purposes.

    The Canadian government no longer allows the release of balloons in public festivities and most of the states of the USA have also banned balloon release. European members have banned or put restriction on the sales and use of helium balloons. In Australia, NSW have also banned the release of the helium balloon in private festivities such as wedding or birthday parties and offenders are penalized with a $200 fine. Based on discussions with a number of governments that have already instigated a ban, it seems that this action has been most successful in preventing the well-known consequences of helium balloons.

    Millions of balloons get released into the skies in many celebrations every year. This means that there are millions of deflated balloons littering the ocean floors and countryside throughout Australia and the rest of the world. The impressive visual impact of thousands of balloons being released into the sky may last a few minutes, but the impact on wildlife and the marine environment may last many months with potentially harmful and fatal consequences. Mass releases of balloons are a symbol of wasteful society, while smaller release and balloon races, result in a high number of litter that require different kind of resources to clean it up.

    Also, we must therefore look for other ways to conserve this non-renewable resource. Helium cannot be made artificially and it is produced by separating it from natural gas. The scarcity of Helium is a really serious issue and once it is realized in the atmosphere it is gone forever. Helium supplies are limited and we should not be filling balloons with it and sending it into the atmosphere to be wasted when supplies are getting low.

    KQB’s campaign have had an important impact, either in discouraging the release of helium balloons in Queensland or at least awareness of issues for consumers to take into account purchasing them. However, KQB aim to ban the release of helium balloons in Queensland with an appropriate penalty to ensure that the use of helium is minimized by citizens and controlled by the Queensland Government.

    To get this important purpose, Keep Queensland Beautiful needs the support of our community to gather the most possible signatures in this E-Petition:

    http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-of-assembly/petitions/e-petition?PetNum=2128

  11. Intus Windows announces new super energy efficient wood window line!

    New Intus line Premier 78 Alu Mira Advance was presented in the end of September at DesignDC Expo in Washington, DC

    Intus Windows, manufacturer of top-of-the-line high performance windows is proud to announce their newest energy efficient window; the Premier 78 Alu Mira Advanced. These triple pane wood windows are Passive House suitable and are a great choice for anyone looking to install energy efficient PH type windows but at a very competitive price. The high-tech windows feature beautiful pine wood frames with a high-density composite foam material that is integrated into the window frame. This design increases the window efficiency and provides a thermal break in the frame profile. According to Intus managing director Aurimas Sabulis, “This window started with a focus on energy efficiency but has grown into much more. The Premier 78 Alu Mira Advanced provides a beautiful wood window with the highest values at competitive price.” The Premier 78 Alu Mira Advanced window debuted at the September 2013 DesignDC Expo in Washington, DC.

    It all starts by utilizing sustainable timber from German and Austrian forestry and then introducing a high-density composite foam material into the wood window frame. This was crucial in order to create a window frame that had a thermal break to limit the transfer of outside heat or cold. The triple pane glass has a a U-Value of 0.088 (Btu/hr/ft²/F)* and when combined with the insulated wood frame produces a window assembly with a U-Value of 0.14 (Btu/hr/ft²/F) or an R-Value of R-7. The triple pane windows are filled with argon gas for improved thermal performance and can accommodate 56mm thick glazing. Triple gasket weather-stripping creates superb air tightness. The warm edge spacers increase the glass surface temperature and reduce condensation on the glass. The hybrid spacers insulate the pane edges so as to reduce heat transfer through the window. Numerous SHGC options are available based on your climate and design goals.

    The aluminum clad exterior frames can be finished in an array of colors from the RAL color selection chart and provides for a very durable exterior finish. An extrusion is installed to allow both the wood and aluminum to thermally expand and contract independently of each other. The pine wood frames can be finished in either water based or lacquer finishes. Different hardware choices are also available as the windows are customized to your specific order.

    So whether you are designing to achieve Passive House standards or just trying to build an energy efficient building, the new Premier 78 Alu Mira Advanced from Intus Windows is an excellent choice in your window selection. In addition to that window, Intus also offers Premier 78 Alu Mira Advanced lift and slide, folding, entry and balcony doors. You may also consider uPVC and all aluminum window, door and curtain wall lines offered by Intus to fit all budgets and applications including commercial, residential and industrial. Intus Windows will continue to pioneer high-performing energy efficient windows and doors. Intus Windows can be reached at 1888-380-9940 or info@intuswindows.com.

    *All values and calculations are based on EU standards: EN 10077, EN 673, EN 410 and other references; CE Mark, DIN Standards – Construction Materials and Building (European Standards), DIN 1027/12208 – Windows and Doors – Water Tightness, DIN 1026/12207 – Windows and Doors – Air Permeability, DIN 12211/12210 – Windows and Doors – Resistance to Wind Load, DIN 1191/12400 – Windows and Pedestrian Doors – Mechanical Durability, DIN EN ISO 10077 – Thermal Performance and other.

    ###

    For more information press:

    http://intuswindows.com/intus-windows-announces-new-super-energy-efficient-wood-window-line/

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    One of the world's oldest car maker DAT-GO, which is going to launch its small and compact hatchback in the Indian car market as well as in the South African market in the end of the next year. The car will be known as Datsun Go. It is a perfect four-wheeler for the developing countries because the company is going to launch it with a very limited price range. Since, it is a very small in its dimensions and that is why the hatchback is also perfect for the small city roads. The company has decided to keep the Datsun Go price range below Rs. 4 lakh (Ex-showroom, New Delhi), which is quite affordable for the middle class. But this price tag is not announced by the company but it is expected because it is prepared on the platform of Nissan Micra and this car is available at the same price range approximately.

    The officials of Datsun cars have said that the engine specifications of this small and stylish hatchback is almost same as Micra, which is loaded with a 1.2-litre petrol engine with a displacement of 1198cc. This engine is expected to churn out the maximum power of 67bhp along with the maximum torque of 104Nm, which is quite good. At the same time, the engine is very impressive, and that is why it is capable to return a very healthy mileage of 18 kmpl, when it is driven under the standard conditions. At the same time, the acceleration and pick up is also very nice because of its top speed of 150-160 kmpl, which is quite good for the hatchback segment. This power packed engine quality is capable to deliver a very decent performance with its manual transmission.

    This small and brilliant compact car is expected to come with a lot of good and impressive features, which can easily attract the buyers. Since, the car comes with a very low price, that is why the Datsun Go features are not going to be very luxurious but it is for sure that it has all such features, which make it standard and safe. In this respect, we can say that this is going to be loaded with all basic features such as an air-conditioner with a heater, music system, comfortable seats with proper arrangements and many other such things, which make it perfect for the buyers.

    Apart from these, the company is going to bless this with a lot of safety aspects too, which can easily protect the passengers as well as the car. The Datsun Go pictures depend upon its exterior, which has unveiled by the company recently. The front part of the vehicle is very good and loaded with a lot of striking features. The list of inviting aspects includes, grille with a lot of chrome, body coloured bumper with head light cluster and a pair of fog-lamps, which are well- designed and helpful in enhancing the visibility of the driver during the bad weather conditions. All these things make this compact car perfect and also affordable.

  13. It is time for humanity to bid farewell to one of its oldest friends -- petroleum based energy. Surely, it has served us well over the course of centuries, but it has become too great a source of political turmoil and adverse environmental effects. It is high-time that humanity found a suitable alternative.

    But of course it’s all easier said than done -- the break-up is going to be anything but pretty. Oil has been used by humans since ancient times, with one of the earliest documented references to it made by ancient Greek historian Herodotus. In the olden days, oil was primarily used in medications. In the area that is now Western Pennsylvania, for instance, Seneca Indians collected oil from natural springs and used it in many medicines. The first oil well was drilled in that region by Edwin Drake in 1859, was 69 feet deep and produced 15 barrels a day. The area quickly boomed and the modern oil industry was born. Later, Texas and Oklahoma became the centers of US oil production, and then following World War II, the Middle East became a major oil supplier for the US. In Texas today, there are also concerns about deregulation, and of course petroleum remains the backbone of the economy and main source of energy in Humble, Texas and other oil towns, but thinking long-term, getting away from oil is a major concern.

    In the 18th Century, oil became commonly used as a fuel was for various lighting apparatuses, thus replacing the animal, vegetable and coal oils that had been used previously. It also came to be used in furnaces. Its biggest use, however, came with the development of the automobile in 1886. Today, almost all forms of locomotion -- cars, trucks, buses, trains, ships and airplanes -- are fueled by oil, diesel or gasoline. Fuel oil has also been burned to produce electricity, although coal was traditionally used for this purpose.

    Traditionally helpful, oil is now more of a hinderance than anything else, considering its devastating ecological and political consequences. Humanity has developed a dangerous dependency on oil and other fossil fuels. In order to keep thriving as a society humanity needs to consider alternative fuels that are renewable, and thus, more sustainable. Researchers and scientists are actively pursuing several alternatives, with front-runners including: hydropower, solar power, and geothermal power.

    Hydropower

    Hydropower uses water to generate electricity. Water is the most common renewable source of energy in the United States today. The kinetic energy of falling or running water can be used to generate power via turbines, which rotate axles when water rotates the blades or propellers of a turbine. The axle has a coil which is placed between the magnets. The coil and magnets work together using electromagnetic induction to convert the kinetic energy of flowing water into electrical energy.

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    It is a fascinating process which has been around far longer than the modern applications of oil. In early Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt, water power was used in irrigation, starting in the 4th millenium BC. Water clocks had been in use since the early 2nd millenium BC. Despite the amazing benefits of hydropower, it fell out of favor during the late 20th century due to the disruptive ecological and social effects of large amounts of water control. Hydropower is enjoying a slight comeback in 2013 as international institutions try to find solutions to economic development that avoid emitting substantial quantities of carbon to the atmosphere.

    Solar Power

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    Solar power harnesses sunlight and converts it into electrical power. There are a couple of ways that this can be accomplished. Energy from sunlight can either be converted into electricity directly using photovoltaics, or indirectly using concentrated solar power. Concentrated solar power systems use lenses and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam. Photovoltaics convert light into electric current using the photoelectric effect. Both have been used in large commercial solar power plants since the 1980s. With solar power becoming more and more ubiquitous, it is clear that this form of renewable energy is quickly becoming one of the most viable alternatives.

    Geothermal Energy

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    Geothermal energy is another resource which humanity has been utilizing for much longer than oil. During Paleolithic times, the hot springs were used for bathing, and in ancient Rome it was used for space heating. Today it is better put to use for electricity generation. Among the many renewable power options out there geothermal power is one of the most cost effective, environmentally friendly, and reliable. Its major drawback is its limitation in terms of location. Historically it has been limited to areas near tectonic plate boundaries. Recent technology has been able to expand the range of use somewhat. Forecasts for the future of geothermal power depend on assumptions about technology, energy prices, subsidies, and interest rates.

    Alternative and renewable energy sources offer a means of producing energy that reduce the amount of pollution that is typically a by-product of more conventional energy sources. Renewable and alternative energy sources promise to be a low cost, effective and safe way to power the industrial and residential needs of the modern world. And we must always bear in mind that there are several variables to consider; with each region of the world possessing different resource advantages and greater or lesser access to the materials needed to make use of these sources of power, the best source of alternative energy needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis. With new advances and breakthroughs into renewable technology, the opportunities to make use of it are only increasing. Renewable energy is playing an increasingly important role in our lives, the future promises to be one that will see even greater use of these power sources.

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  14. The world is going green, and so can you! Having an Eco friendly kitchen starts with what’s in your fridge and extends all the way out to what materials and tools you use, food preparation that is energy efficient, and cleaning using sustainable materials instead of toxic chemicals. These are all super important for having a kitchen that is truly green and Eco friendly. The great thing about converting your space from a regular, unhealthy kitchen to something that is phenomenal and efficient is that the change will be fantastic for your well being as well as save you dollars while saving the planet. What could be more amazing?

    cWonDHo.jpg

    Trade In Your Cookware And Cheap Kitchen Supplies

    You may not think of it, but the tools and materials that you cook with actually have a big impact on your health. For cook ware and utensils, you want materials and cookware that is going to last a long time as opposed to being ultra-disposable. Plastic has to go. Teflon pans, while perhaps convenient, are not very green. They also cause cancer which makes them a big no-no in the kitchen. The best thing you can do is purchase cook ware that is sustainable as opposed to convenient. That means investing into a thick, classic cast iron skillet. These babies last forever and are a dream to cook with. Go for bamboo and environmentally friendly spoons and stirrers, and ditch all the plastic and low quality stuff that’s hiding in your kitchen. Instead of buying paper towels over and over, purchase some nice cloth towels that can be washed. Lastly, invest in ultra high quality knives that can be sharpened and used for decades.

    Having Ecological Enlarged Windows

    Having enlarged windows can bring the element of light into a kitchen and really work to open a space. When you enlarge a window, you can make a room more bright without spending more energy and money to bring that extra light in. Rooms have natural light during the day, and when you extend a room you can cut back on overhead lighting powered by electricity. This is a simple way to enhance your kitchen and cuts back on overall energy costs, making your kitchen even more green.

    Cooking And Being Energy Efficient

    Cut back on energy costs by cutting out preheating. Modern ovens heat up easily. Try to change the way you cook by putting the food in as soon as the oven is turned on. Then turn off the oven a few minutes early and allow the dish to cook in the remaining heat. Cooking multiple things at one in an oven will also save energy. Use a toaster oven or microwave for smaller dishes and you can save 80% of the energy you would normally use by putting in the big oven.

    Using Gas Or Electricity To Cook

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    There are different advantages to each cooking method. The best thing to do to be green is to purchase the electricity from a source that is sustainable and use electric equipment. The cost is a little more now but carbon prices will change that and save you more. Electricity sourced from a station that uses coal as a power may be worse for the environment, so in that case going with gas is a superior option. Most electric cooking equipment is the more efficient choice because the energy created goes towards what you are cooking, where gas a lot of the energy dissipates and goes to waste. Electric induction tops cook faster and are more efficient than gas by up to 55%. Emissions for electricity are lower than gas since the emissions for gas are generally higher at the start of use. Electricity for cooking is more sustainable and is even more environmentally friendly when you buy electric appliances that are efficient.

    4.5% of the energy used at home comes from cooking. That’s only a small part of carbon emissions, but they matter. Gas burners can give off heat that is instant and have more control over temperature, so that is an advantage of using gas. Electric stoves do take more time to heat up and cool. However, new oven models that utilize electric ignitions in place of a pilot light use 40% less gas, making them an energy efficient choice.

  15. Maintaining a house is a great responsibility, and that list of chores only builds up when you have a garden to take care of as well. However, like with anything else, you only need some practice until you create a routine that can fit into your regular daily schedule. In order to help you get this done faster and more efficiently, I created the next five steps which I’m sure you’ll find helpful.

     

    Regular Mowing Is a Must

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    If you want to get anything done, you need to have a clean slate. This is why you need to start with cleaning your lawn thoroughly, especially if it has been covered with snow until recently. After you get rid of all that clutter, it’s mowing time! If you want your grass consistency to be tick and healthy, you should set your blade on 2 cm, and maintain that height for a while. Afterwards, you may lower it down a bit if you want to deal with mowing less often, but you should leave it at 2 cm at least for a month. When you’re done with mowing, you’ll want to apply a layer of moss and some weed killer.

    Don’t Forget about Constant Watering

    If you don’t pay attention to watering, all previous efforts will be in vain. There’s another shortcut here – if you want your chores regarding gardening to be minimized, and you still want to create a peaceful environment that you can relax in, you should water your lawn once per week, but water it deep. By investing some additional time into making small holes that are only a couple of inches deep, you’ll enable your grass to breathe properly, and your watering treatment will definitely be more efficient.

    Deal with Pests on Time

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    The minute you start noticing holes in your yard or if your plants get damaged with no reason whatsoever, you obviously have a pest problem. Now, it’s quite important to deal with them as soon as possible – right after you determine which unwanted species is invading your home. If you don’t, you’ll just give them more time to multiply and develop, which will directly affect your overall billing to increase. So, don’t waste any time and call an experienced professional to deal with your problem.

    Flowerbeds or Garden Pots?

    This is the next dilemma that needs to be solved. Flowerbeds are recommended for larger gardens, because then you can fit your outdoors furniture and other garden items as well. However, if you only frame your garden with flowerbeds or make neat lines on the surface, it’ll work for a smaller garden. On the other hand, remodeling your garden afterwards may take too much time, which is exactly why I prefer pots. It may take some time to transfer from flowerbeds to pots, but I’m sure you’ll find it more practical, no matter if you plan on using your garden for vegetables or flowers only. There’s an appropriate size of outdoor planters for any type of plant you might have in mind, so you don’t have to worry about that.

    Enjoy Your Summer Hideout!

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    The only thing left is to pick out your outdoors furniture set. The size of your garden is the most important factor here, obviously. If you’re dealing with a smaller one, you should definitely go with a set that’s lighter, and that’s simple to storage. Besides, it doesn’t have to be a set at all – make things interesting and pick out different pieces in order to create a set of your own! When it comes to large gardens, the only thing to worry about is your budget, perhaps. You should also consider building a summer house, or some kind of storing facility, where you can place all your gardening tools.

    Although it might seem like it, this won’t take too much of your time after you’re done with heavy work. One last piece of advice – make some plans and sketches before you start rearranging your garden, so you know exactly what you’re doing. I’m sure it will look amazing!

     
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    Organic foods are quickly becoming one of the most popular choices for persons who want to eat healthier while being environmentally responsible. However, many persons do not know about organic foods, and there are twelve things in particular that you should know about them.

    1.) What is in organic foods?

    Organic foods are grown without the use of fertilizers and pesticides. This means that there is less of a chance of your body being harmed by the toxins found in them.

    2.) What makes organic meats different?

    Organic meats are not grown with the use of synthetic hormones that are commonly used to fatten up cattle.

    3.) Are organic meats processed differently?

    Organic meats are processed in the most natural way possible. This means that they aren’t packed with preservatives, and they are not irradiated to kill bacteria.

    4.) How are organic foods packaged?

    Organic foods are packed in the most environmentally friendly way possible. This includes the use of packaging this is all natural, and that will biodegrade in the quickest manner possible.

    5.) Organic food is oftentimes more nutritious

    Organic foods are grown in a manner where their size is not increased with artificial additives. This means that they oftentimes have more vitamins and minerals per weight than other kinds of foods.

    6.) Why organic foods sometimes cost more?

    Organic foods are oftentimes grown on small farms that do not have the same efficiency as large farms. In addition, the process of growing organic foods may result in less of a yield. As a result, farmers may have to charge more for the sale of organic foods.

    7.) Do organic foods always cost more?

    Organic foods do not always cost more than other kinds of foods. It is possible to purchase organic foods that cost less than other kinds of foods. In addition, many organic foods are naturally processed, which costs less money than other methods of production.

    8.) How does one save money while buying organic?

    There are a number of different ways to save money while purchasing organic foods. It is a good idea to looking into local organic markets, and food delivery services. Many food delivery services offer food that comes directly from local farms, and so you do not have to pay a markup on the products. Some person can even get bags of organic foods for only a few dollars.

    9.) What are some things to avoid when shopping organic?

    Many companies attempt to sell processed foods under the guise of sounding organic. Phrases like natural and free range are not regulated by the food and drug administration. It is a good idea to do some research on each one of the products you buy.

    10.) Does organic mean less cruel?

    Organic oftentimes means that animals suffered less while being raised. However, the process is not regulated by the FDA. It is a good idea to look into where you organic meats came from, and to see if the animals were given proper treatment.

    11.) Can non-organic items go into organic foods?

    Depends, there are about forty different ingredients that the FDA allows to be included in foods that are considered organic. This includes items like salt, processed sugar, and different kinds of spices. Looking at the nutrition list will allow you to know if these ingredients were added to your organic foods.

    12.) Does a person have to be completely organic?

    No!!! Eating organic a personal choice. Many persons choose to purchase organic items because they want more nutritious food items, or because they simply like the excellent taste of organic foods. Even more people eat organic food because they are priced less than name brand items. Even more people simply eat a few different kinds of organic foods. One should eat organic foods based upon their personal choices.

    Overall, organic foods are an excellent thing to try out. One should try eating organic meats, vegetables, and dairy products in order to see if they like them.

    Image credit: CLJ Photography

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    Renewable energy companies have been in a tough situation for more than twenty years (since the beginning of renewables' sector). Two fires, two enemies to fight, the first is the entire fossil fuels' sector, the second is the internal competition in its own sector. The first is a strong, old and rich institution, with thousands of billion of dollars and has exponents like Shell, BP, Total, Exxon and Chevron. The second is also strong and in a long-term can monopolize the entire energy market, it's the internal competition in renewable energy sector, where companies double their profits in less than a year (like First Solar or SunPower) and hydroelectric sector growth rises every year of 3.1%.

    The slow but inevitable ascent of renewables in the energy market can't be stopped although it can be delayed and this delay can represent a high environmental price and the Earth (and also us) will pay it. We're talking about the deadly consequences of climate change, triggered by an abudance of fossil fuels usage. It's vital, for our lives and for our environment, that fossil fuels leave the market in the fastest way as possible and to do that alternatives are required, strong alternatives. To improve and strengthen remewable energy market one of the two enemies must be fought: fossil fuels (already happening) and internal competition. How can renewable energy companies overpass this obstacle and become a strong, united market? Joint ventures.

    Someone already thought about that, like Solar Power Inc. The company, which 71% is owned by China's LDK Solar Co., has formed a partnership with Wircon GmbH to build projects in the U.K. The joint venture intends to own and sell the projects it develops in the U.K., Roseville, California-based Solar Power said today in a statement. The company initially intends to build about 55 megawatts of capacity. This will go to reach U.K. goal of the 30% of the country's power from renewable sources by 2020. In Japan the lack of land territory brought Kyocera Corp. and Century Tokyo Leasing Corp. to build two solar power stations designed to float on the surface of reservoirs.

    I've mentioned it already before but it's here again: DESERTEC project, building renewable power plants in territories with an abundance of solar and wind energy and connecting three continents with energy infrastructures. The consortium which administrates the project is one of the biggest companies union in the world. The Dii GmbH is composed by E.ON, ABB, Siemens, Enel Green Power, Terna, State Grid Croporation of China, Deutsche Bank, Flagsol, Abengoa Solar, Schott Solar and RWE. This consortium administrates more than $500 billion and operates in three continents.

    Another consortium focused on energy infrastructures is Medgrid (focused more on Middle East) and formed by Abengoa, GDF Suez, EDF and other companies. Between the many examples of joint ventures in the world there's the cooperation between First Solar and BELECTRIC for the construction of PV power plants or 3SUN, the biggest solar power joint venture in Europe including Enel Green Power, Sharp and STMicroelectronics.

    Joint ventures help new companies to invest in foreign countries and strengthen relationships between companies increasing the profits and the total capacity of renewable energy power plants all over the world. But if we want to accelerate the process the number of joint ventures and consortia have to double. The final target? A global renewble energy network, connecting all the companies of the sector. In fact, a renewable energy OPEC doesn't exist, it must be created. In a world where everything is connected it's unthinkable that renewable energy companies are isolated and under the pressure of fossil fuels companies. Like oil is transported from Middle East to the U.S. so renewable energy must be an international fuel to power a clean and green future.

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    Who would have thought that from the simplest and the most basic things would pave the way to the introduction of much more comprehensive and convenient concepts of machines and equipment that most often than not, help people in accommodating their day-to-day routines ensuring the best outputs later on?

    Construction, with the advancement of technology, has incredibly experienced staggering developments aiming to improve quality of lives.

    Starting from the drawing up of blueprints up to acquiring environmentally and healthy designs of infrastructures, it has now been touched by technology and innovation.

    If one would care to look deeper into this, they’ would be surely introduced to the concept of LEED certification.

    The LEED Certification Concept

    LEED, which basically stands for Leadership Energy and Environment Design, is a certification program for third-party clients. This initiative has started in the year 2000 by the US Green Building Council or USGCB aiming to offer standards and concepts for designs, operations and the overall construction of high performance buildings tailored to the specifics of the environment.

    The LEED encompasses a whole lot more objectives as opposed to what it may seem since it does not only focus on ensuring that buildings are designed with compatibility to the health of the environment but also for business and company owners to have an infrastructure that is profitable.

    Ask why profitability? Well, that is simply because acquiring the LEED certification would allow one to have the means and the knowledge to practically and successfully cut down the operational costs from the ever increasing bills for electric and water consumption.

    Yes, as you have realized by now, any kind of infrastructure is often packaged with all sorts of machines that consume a lot more energy and water than you can imagine. This then equates to overwhelming energy and water bills that cut a huge chunk from the company’s earnings.

    With the great performance of buildings that have acquired this certification, LEEDhas been awarded with points thus acknowledging its edge for sustainability and energy efficiency. Going Green with LEED and Its Notable Advantages

    At the surface, one could simply read that acquiring certification would help in cost cutting of utility bills. However, looking closer into it would surface more convenience and advantage than just simply lowering your operational costs.

    With such certification, one could simply achieve and experience the following benefits:

    • Ensured cooled and heated infrastructures as needed with minimal energy usage
    • Tested to minimized duct-work and envelope leakage
    • Minimized indoor and outdoor water usage
    • Predicted to only utilize approximately 30% to 60% less energy compared to other established buildings without the LEED Certification.
    • Recycling materials that can be used for building constructions
    • Supplying power and energy via renewable and unharmful methods
    • Reduced and minimized environmental impacts during construction as well as maintenance as with this certification emission of greenhouse gases and other substances and elements that often occur with just the traditional design of buildings

    The LEED Tiers

    Since we have already tackled about the basics of LEED, let us get to more detailed and important elements about it such as the Tiers. There are 4 known tiers of the certification. This tiers indicate the increasing sustainability of building practices among clients.

    The first tier is the Certified equating to 40 to 49 points, the Silver for 50 to 59 points, the Gold for 60 to 79 points and the platinum, which pertains to 80 points and above.

    While it is true that the higher levels of LEED can be quite challenging to achieve, there are still efforts that one could do to achieve it. After all, nobody knew before that we could have things we have right now, right?

    Achieving higher levels would surely provide one with much overwhelming benefits, which they could later on take advantage.

    An example of which is a high LEED certification level making a great selling point that are often used by corporations to court environmentally aware and conscious consumers as well as investors toward their business.

    Aside from this, it has also been noted that there are respective incentives in the form of local and federal tax benefits or other subsidies that are made available for high level certified LEED infrastructures. Some Well Known Buildings with LEED Certification

    To give you more facts about the incredibility of this program, let us make a quick list of some of the known buildings that are certified with LEED. One of the latest most buzzing names when it comes to this is the Serbian IT park. Its known as the first infrastructure which is certified with LEED in the region.

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    This has greatly affected their operations making the management more productive while having the means to save money and to have a healthy and comfortable workplace for the whole team.

    Another LEED certified building is the Hearst Tower in New York City. With its continued efforts to live green, this building has now gained Gold level with over 90% of its steel used for structure that came from recycled durable materials.

    David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh is known, on the other hand, as a gold and platinum level holder being the first convention center in the globe to acquire the LEED.

    The Connecticut avenue building in Washington D.C. also has a LEED platinum status and is known as the first redeveloped office building on the US East Coast to acquire the LEED certification.

    University of Texas at Dallas, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens as well as the Yale University are proud infrastructures having the LEED certification, which they acquired through thick and strict efforts to go green and live a practical and energy-efficient office lifestyle.

    Be among them now and start making a lot of profits than you can imagine without posing harm to the environment. LEED Certification would also enable you to provide the best working environment to your clients, partners as well as business investors pushing them to be more productive.

    Invest in this venture now and harvest the fruitful and unimaginable benefits it could provide, not just to you but to the people and the community surrounding you as well.

  19. Business

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  20. If you’re anything like me, your hunt for perfect Christmas gifts for your friends and family must have started weeks ago. I like to put in a lot of thought into my gifts, so I can make them as meaningful as possible and you’ll agree with me that last minute scramble for gifts is not the best way to do it.

    But that’s just me. I know there are a whole lot of people out there who thrive on the pressure of last minute shopping. They not only manage to buy gifts at the last moment, but are able to do a fine job of it too. Kudos to them!

    Anyway, my point is not to talk about merits and demerits of your shopping behavior. This post is to appeal to the environmentalist in you to consider gifting your loved ones Eco-friendly Christmas presents this year.

    Why gift green?

    Gifting is one of the most endearing Christmas traditions. As a kid, I remember waking up early Christmas morning to find my stocking filled with goodies and bright colored gift boxes piled under the tree. The sweet anticipation of finding what’s inside has stayed with me for all these years.

    Young or old, we all love giving and receiving gifts on Christmas. Imagine how you’d feel when you get or give a gift that gives back. That’s exactly what Eco-friendly gifts do – they give back to the environment because they've been made using green practices and/or materials. Eco-friendly gifts can truly make Christmas extra special for you and the people you love.

    And don’t worry, green gifting doesn't mean you’re stuck with buying things like solar panels or energy efficient light bulbs (I know that’s an exaggeration, but I am trying to make a point here). There are a wide variety of Eco-friendly gifts that are both stylish and sophisticated and the best part is that you’ll find them in all budgets. Here are some Eco-friendly gift ideas I found interesting:

    Organic Wine: Who doesn't like a fine bottle of wine? A bottle of wine corked open and shared with loved ones to mark a special occasion makes the whole thing even more memorable. Gifting someone a bottle of wine is as classy as it can get, but gifting someone organic wine takes it to a whole new level altogether.

    Vegan cosmetics: All of us have heard horror stories about our everyday makeup containing ingredients that are derived from animals. What’s more horrifying is the practice of testing these cosmetics on innocent animals. Vegan cosmetics are an effort to offer natural, eco-friendly, and cruelty free cosmetics to people who care about animals and the environment. There are a whole range of brands that offer this line of cosmetics for the compassionate buyer.

    E-books: The romantics still swear by the joys of holding a paper book in their hands when they read. As much as I like the idea of turning the pages to a book, the environmentalist in me just can’t ignore the fact that many trees are felled to make that book. That’s why I switched to the more Eco-friendly e-books when the option arrived. A lot of online booksellers such as ebooks.com have now made it possible to gift e-book vouchers for devices like Kindle and iPad.

    Recycled jewelry: A woman can never have too much jewelry. Take it from one who loves her jewelry, has loads of it, and still never misses an opportunity to buy some more. If you’re stuck for ideas on what to buy for the women in your life, jewelry is your answer. You just cannot go wrong with it. However, make sure that you buy jewelry made from recycled precious metals. That’s the only way to fight dirty gold mining practices.

    Awakening tour: Okay, this one is for the parents who want to introduce their children to the concept of recycling and awaken their environmental consciousness. In addition to all the goodies and expensive gifts you intend to shower your kids with this Christmas, bring them on a tour to a recycling facility where they can see for themselves how waste is turned into useful material. It will probably take a couple of hours of your Holiday time, but will leave a lasting impression on them.

    You can check with private recyclers like SIMS Metal Management if they give a tour of their facilities. From NYC to Richmond, Virginia, SIMS Metal Management owns recycling facilities in many parts of the country.

    These are just a few Eco-friendly gift ideas. Invest some more time and you’ll be able to find thousands of such ideas to make your Christmas more special, more memorable, and more meaningful. Let’s shop, then!

  21. blog-0974918001410252773.jpg

    If you are thinking about moving, you should consider being as eco-friendly as possible. There are many small things that you can do that will help the environment while making your move a simpler process. Enjoy using these tips whenever you are thinking about relocating your home.

    Share What You Have

    If you have a lot of items, you may consider donating some to charity so that you can rent a smaller moving truck. This will be a good choice for the environment, and you can feel good about donating items to help people that really need them. You can donate everything from clothing to furniture.

    Never Buy New Boxes

    There is no reason to buy new boxes to pack items when you can use boxes that have already been used. Check out your local grocery store or even a liquor store that may have plenty of boxes that you can have for free. You want to make sure that you pick out sturdy boxes and make sure that you have the bottoms of the boxes taped securely so that nothing falls out during the moving process.

    Be Creative with Packing Materials

    Instead of purchasing packing peanuts or bubble wrap to wrap your fragile household items in, be creative. You can wrap items in towels or shirt. You are going to be packing these items anyways, so using them to protect your breakable items is a good idea. You can also use old newspaper to wrap glass and other valuable items in so that they do not get broken during transit.

    Rent a Storage Unit

    We all have stuff that we don’t use but they have a certain sentimental value to us and getting rid of them is no option. When that is a case, finding long term local storage unit to store your belonging is a good solution. It will enable you to access them whenever you want and leave you with fever possessions that require

    less vehicles for transport – reducing your carbon footprint even further.

    Buy New Items

    If you are moving a long way away from your home, it may be more cost effective to buy new furniture and appliances. You can find many nice furniture items in your new location by visiting furniture stores or yard sales. You can often buy a nice looking piece of furniture that is gently used for less than the amount of money it would take to ship your old furniture to your new location. You can also invest in energy star appliances that are good for the environment and can help you save money on your energy bill each month.

    Find the Best Way to Move Your Items

    You have many different moving options to choose from depending on how far you are going to be traveling and how many items you are going to be bringing with you. You can rent a trailer and pull it behind your vehicle or rent a moving van or truck. If you need to, you can also hire a professional moving company. There are many companies out there that specialize in green moving techniques. You should take your time and enjoy finding the best moving solution for your specific needs.

    You want to find ways to move that are good for the environment. As added bonus, many eco-friendly solutions are also very affordable. You can enjoy saving money and having a safe moving experience at the same time.

    Image credit: Flickr - swanksalot

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