Archives for category: Green Living

Have you ever wondered why some cities are classified as green? In the article “10 Things That Make a Great Green City” by Care 2, Care 2 lists what these cities have that makes them so green.

  1. “Plentiful Parks- parks provide both a place for harried city residents to take a deep breath, relax, and connect with nature, and a cooling counter to the heat-island effect created by all that asphalt.”
  2. “Efficient Public Transportation- transit solutions that allow people to get around quickly and easily without a car are a key element to a green city.”
  3. “Quality Public Space- this encourages getting around on foot, and reduces the need for large private dwellings by creating communal space for people to enjoy.”
  4. “Bike Lanes- the most bike-friendly cities create separated bike paths, provide parking (and even solar-powered showers!), institute bike-sharing programs, and allow cyclists to bring their bikes on buses for longer trips.”
  5. “High-profile Green Buildings- as long as they’re not all a city’s doing, a prominent, striking eco-friendly structure such as the San Francisco Federal Building or the green roof on Chicago’s city hall provides a very visible symbol of green intentions and draws attention to the latest technologies.”
  6. “Comprehensive recycling and composting programs- the greenest city initiatives are going further than gathering cans and bottles, by adding electronics and food waste to the list of items recycled and composted, and by instituting larger-scale programs to recycle water for industrial use.”
  7. “Mixed-use and Infill Development-“recycling” existing space that’s already woven into the urban fabric, makes places easy to get to and get around.”
  8. “Green Leadership- an active citizenry provides leadership from the ground up to prod or encourage politicians in the right direction.”
  9. “Smart Energy Policies- buying renewable energy and mandating efficiency measures are two ways a city can use its economic clout to help build a market for greener products while lowering its own environmental impact (and, often, operating costs).”
  10. “Good Green Fun- the best green cities celebrate their eco-friendly lifestyles with farmers’ markets full of tasty (and unusual) treats, bars and restaurants serving the best organic fare, intriguing exhibits by ecologically minded artists, and music festivals that offer bike valet parking and solar-powered stages.”
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When it comes creating a green kitchen in your home, there are tons of sustainable options. From green kitchen decorations, to organic cleaners, having an ecofriendly kitchen is great for a healthy family and clean environment . Following these 4 tips is a super simple way to an eco kitchen in your home.

Recycled DIY Garden Wall: 

Want to decorate your kitchen with an awesome recycled diy project? Displaying plants in your kitchen is a great design element that’s completely green, (literally). Just recycle old tins or pots, plant leafy herbs inside, then neatly hang them along a bare wall.

Eco-Friendly Flooring:

Need new kitchen flooring, but want sustainable options? There are several materials which are aesthetically pleasing, but still eco-friendly.  Check out this list of the top six eco-friendly flooring materials—bamboo, cork, linoleum, wood, tile and stone—and a list of the distributors/stores where you can buy them.

Eco-Friendly Counter Top Cleaners:

From butcher block, to granite top- there are eco-friendly counter top cleaners for every kind of kitchen counter. Using eco-friendly counter cleaners is a non-toxic and hypoallergenic way to sanitize your kitchen. Derived from all-natural or renewable resources, these are safe for your family and the environment. Using a green cleaner like helps you avoid petrochemicals, VOC’s dyes, ethers, fragrances, and other harmful and toxic ingredients. There’s even eco-friendly marble spray! Buff and clean while still going green.

Green Dish Soap:

Green Dish soap is non-toxic and won’t contaminate water systems like other dishwashing detergents. Choosing all-natural dish soap for your eco-friendly kitchen is beneficial, as it is biodegradable, hypoallergenic, and chlorine-free. These green dish washing liquids are highly concentrated and just as tough on grease as your general dish soap. An added bonus? Eco-safe dish soaps are especially gentle on hands!

Homeowners and renters have always sought after having a green lawn. There’s no denying that a healthy lawn with lush grass and shrubs is a reason to be proud. Today, going green and eco-friendly in your lawn is another important part of having a “green lawn”. Eco-friendly lawn and garden care is healthy for your yard, and for your family. Certain plant fertilizers may seem harmless, but are often toxic and harmful to your children, and pets. Eco-safe lawn care goods are a great way to make your lawn the greenest on the block, and the healthiest for your family. Here are some great suggestions for how to get started on making your lawn and garden eco-friendly:

  • Testing Soil. Testing the pH of your soil is always a good first step in the process. It allows you to identify deficiencies and plan for the problems that may plague your lawn throughout the year.
  • Cleaning and Aerating. Cleaning your lawn of debris and weed growth will provide a fresh start for seedlings. Use spiked thong sandals to aerate as opposed to the gas-guzzling machines that are typical for this duty.
  • Organic Herbicide. Apply an herbicide that is made from corn gluten meal. Corn gluten fertilizer is the only proven pre-emergent organic herbicide on the market. Apply 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet of lawn.
  • Organic Fertilizer. Look for blended organic fertilizers that are made from biodegradable materials. A tip for applying Organic Fertilizer is 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet early to late spring.
  • Periodic Mowing. Keep your lawn at a height of three inches throughout the year. You should only cut it shorter than 3 inches at the conclusion of the growing season.
Find a huge selection of eco-safe lawn and garden care when you visit http://www.sustainablesupply.com!
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More info at: http://www.allaboutlawns.com/lawn-maintenance-care/landscaping-and-gardening/eco-friendly-lawn-care-tips-for-the-organic-soul.php

Getting LEED certification is an ideal way to conserve energy and save money. The good news is- you can still make sustainable energy-saving options in your home to save money, without LEED certification. In the engineering industry, the certification stands for “Leadership in Energy or Environmental Design”, and consists of a suite of rating systems for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings, homes and neighborhoods. If you can’t attain the certification, don’t giving up on energy conservation! Here are 10 key ideas and tips on energy saving tips for everyday living:

1. With the onslaught of shale exploration and development, natural gas could be the answer to long-term energy consumption in our nation. The abundance of demand has given people the incentive to switch their heating systems from oil to natural gas, which will be a big savings over time. Stay tuned for future developments – your car may be next in the transition!

2. Reduce idling in your car – it gives you 0 miles per gallon
3. The strategic use of trees and landscape can be a natural coolant
4. Summer is approaching – collect rain water in barrels or buckets to water your plants and flowers
5. Take advantage of any information or program your electric company offers for keeping track of your energy consumption
6. The use of outlet plug covers is not just for baby proofing – they can also help stop the warm and cold air from escaping your home
7. Install foam gaskets behind outlet covers to insulate the area
8. Check for leaks and cracks in all of your doors and windows throughout the house
9. Unplug appliances or items you are not using on a daily basis
10. Adding insulation to your attic can make your home more comfortable year-round

ImageGoing Green in the laundry room is extremely easy, and affordable. Green detergents and homemade cleaners are even cheaper than other harmful cleaners, and clean just as well! Get a green laundry room by learning these 4 easy eco-friendly cleaning tips:

1. Use Chalk to Rid Your Clothes of Greasy Stains: Instead of using extra laundry detergent to pre-treat, turn to our old school friend: white chalk. Simply rub onto greasy stains and the chalk powder will absorb the grease, making the stain easily removable by the laundry soap in the wash.

2. Use Lavender Water to Freshen Laundry: Put some lavender water into a spray bottle and give your laundry a quick spritz before throwing it into the washer, in addition to an eco-friendly detergent. Just enough scent will remain after drying to keep it smelling fresh for a long time. Don’t love lavender? Try your favorite essential oil, rose water would also smell very clean.

3. Use Affordable Eco-Friendly Fabric Softener: Using a green fabric softener such as Eco Cleaner Natural Fabric Softener, softens your clothes without using harsh chemicals or toxins that can be harmful to you, the environment, and water systems. The formula is made from the best natural ingredients available such as vegetable based softening agents and soy derivatives that are hypoallergenic.

4. Use Green Laundry Detergent: Eco-friendly laundry detergent, like Method Laundry Detergent, has a 35% smaller carbon footprint than conventional detergent while maintaining awesome cleaning power. Completely toxin and dye free, Method Cleanings’ naturally derived products give you a clean feeling that’s safe for you and safe for the environment. Choosing an eco-safe laundry detergent is a non-toxic option that is safe for you and the environment.

ImageMaking the most eco-friendly choices for a sustainable lifestyle can sometimes take a lot of energy, ironically. Not the kind of energy that makes a negative impact on the environment, but the kind of mental energy that can sometimes leave you feeling like you’re fighting a loosing battle. It’s important to stay inspired when going green; keep in mind that sustainability is the basis for healthy living, and that every little eco-conscious contribution counts. There’s a lot that goes into sustainability, especially when you are a passionate planet lover. As in all socially active fields, those who work for other causes can sometimes feel burnt out trying to change a world that sometimes seems set in its ways. Mother Nature Network has some great tips to remind you that you can continue that strive for sustainability by taking some inspirational breaks. Here are 3 sustainability inspirations:

1. Get into nature: Sometimes we can forget exactly what we are fighting for. When I get particularly morose, I head to the woods or my local beach. Digging my feet in the sand (even if it’s cold), watching the waves and the birds, or getting my heart rate up on a forest path never fails to both bolster my resolve (THIS is what I’m fighting for!) and also serves to help me calm down.

2. Go for a run, swim or yoga class: Get yourself out of your head and into your body instead. It’s basically a distraction from what’s bugging you, but it’s a healthier one than downing half a six-pack. And all those endorphins and feel-good chemicals inherent to working out are bound to make you feel better.

3. Read up on inspiring leaders: Anyone who has ever worked to make a difference has had dark days, disappointments and setbacks. Many of our most revered leaders faced jail time, expulsion, torture and worse on their road to making change. Check out the writings or biographies of Rachel Carson, Martin Luther King Jr., Jane Goodall, Wangari Maathai, Henry David Thoreau, Dian Fossey or Al Gore. Just reading their Wikipedia pages is inspiring!

More info: http://www.mnn.com/health/fitness-well-being/blogs/where-do-you-turn-for-green-inspiration

If you are interested in making less of an impact on the environment, why not start in your kitchen. Your food buying habits, the cleaning supplies you use, your water usage, your appliances, and many kitchen-related activities can all affect Planet Earth and home sustainability.

This means that each day, you have an opportunity to make a positive difference. The other good news is that many of these action steps can be friendly to your health and wallet as well.

  1. If you are in the market for an appliance, choose one that has been tested to be more energy efficient (look for the government-endorsed Energy Star — www.energystar.gov). Many older appliances use a lot more energy than newer models. Is it time for an upgrade?
  2. Purchase an appliance that is the appropriate size for your needs. For example, if there are only two people in the house, consider buying a counter-top convection oven that you can use instead of your large wall oven that requires more energy when cooking only small amounts of food. Match the appliance you use with the amount of food you are cooking.
  3. One-pot meals can also save energy (and cleanup). When using the oven, try to avoid preheating when possible. When just heating foods, wasting the energy required to preheat is usually not necessary.
  4. Transition kitchen lighting to the most efficient form and switch to energy efficient bulbs. These bulbs also tend to last much longer than traditional bulbs.
  5. Be aware of your water usage. Globally, clean drinking water is at a premium. Do your part by limiting water use. Make sure you maximally fill the dishwasher before running it. When hand-washing dishes, do not let the water continue to run. Consider using water-saving devices in your faucet.
  6. Take a look at what is in your trash can. Are there items there that can be composted, reused, or recycled? Did you purchase any unnecessary packaging? Imagine what it would be like if you had to dispose of all the trash you generate on your own property — how would that change your purchasing and kitchen habits?
  7. Composting can save a lot of space in the landfill. It can also add nutrients back into the soil in your garden. Keep a compost bucket next to the sink for non-meat food scraps.
  8. When it comes to food purchases, the more processed foods are not only less healthy, but they tend to be over-packaged. Processing also uses more resources. Many of these foods do not save you much, if any, time over the more basic foods in the grocery store.
  9. When buying produce, reduce plastic bag use when possible. Two or three pieces of fresh fruit generally do not require the use of a bag. Take advantage of locations that recycle plastic bags, but keep in mind that not using the bags in the first place is even more environmentally friendly.
  10. How about your cleaning supplies? Are they environmentally friendly? Do you use more than     you need? Remember that all those chemicals end up in the water supply.
  11. Plan meals and food usage to reduce food spoilage. And food waste Uneaten food or eating more than we need nutritionally, wastes the resources used to grow, package, and transport it. Use the freezer to extend the life of foods when applicable. Buy only what you think you will need until the next grocery store trip. Rotate foods — first in, first out. This not only means you use the food before the expiration date, but also follows food safety rules.

These are just a few of the many possible steps you could take toward a “greener” kitchen. Think about what changes you might be able to make in the weeks ahead to make your kitchen more eco-friendly — and maybe even benefit your health and wallet.

Information Via: Pam Stuppy, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, a registered, licensed dietitian with nutrition counseling offices in York, Maine, and Portsmouth. She is also the nutritionist for Phillips Exeter Academy. Visit www.pamstuppynutrition.com for nutrition information, some healthy cooking tips and recipe ideas.

With a new year comes fresh starts, and a great time to start going green. Instead of the common new years resolutions of loosing weight, or quitting bad habits, why not make a green new years resolution? “The global community, and particularly people living in industrialized societies, have put unsustainable demands on our planet’s limited resources,” says Robert Engelman, President of the Worldwatch Institute, a global environmental research organization based on Washington, D.C. “If we expect to be able to feed, shelter, and provide even basic living conditions to our growing population in years to come, we must act now to change.”

The United Nations has designated 2012 as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All. Broadening access to sustainable energy is essential to solving many of the world’s challenges, including food production, security, and poverty. “With so many hungry and poor in the world, addressing these issues is critical,” says Danielle Nierenberg, director of Worldwatch’s Nourishing the Planet project. “Fortunately, the solutions to these problems can come from simple innovations and practices.”

Here are 8 suggestions you may not have realized can make a huge difference:

1.) Turn on the tap

: The bottled water industry sold 8.8 billion gallons of water in 2010, generating nearly $11 billion in profits. Yet plastic water bottles create huge environmental problems. The energy required to produce and transport these bottles could fuel an estimated 1.5 million cars for a year, yet approximately 75 percent of water bottles are not recycled—-they end up in landfills, litter roadsides, and pollute waterways and oceans. And while public tap water is subject to strict safety regulations, the bottled water industry is not required to report testing results for its products. According to a study, 10 of the most popular brands of bottled water contain a wide range of pollutants, including pharmaceuticals, fertilizer residue, and arsenic. 

What you can do:

Fill up your glasses and reusable water bottles with water from the sink. The United States has more than 160,000 public water systems, and by eliminating bottled water you can help to keep nearly 1 million tons of bottles out of the landfill, as well as save money on water costs.

 

2.) Support food recovery programs: 

Each year, roughly a third of all food produced for human consumption—-approximately 1.3 billion tons—-gets lost or wasted, including 34 million tons in the United States, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Grocery stores, bakeries, and other food providers throw away tons of food daily that is perfectly edible but is cosmetically imperfect or has passed its expiration date. In response, food recovery programs run by homeless shelters or food banks collect this food and use it to provide meals for the hungry, helping to divert food away from landfills and into the bellies of people who need it most.

What you can do:

Encourage your local restaurants and grocery stores to partner with food rescue organizations, like City Harvest in New York City or Second Harvest Heartland in Minnesota.
Go through your cabinets and shelves and donate any non-perishable canned and dried foods that you won’t be using to your nearest food bank or shelter.

 

3.) Buy local: 

”Small Business Saturday,” falling between “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday,” was established in 2010 as a way to support small businesses during the busiest shopping time of the year. Author and consumer advocate Michael Shuman argues that local small businesses are more sustainable because they are often more accountable for their actions, have smaller environmental footprints, and innovate to meet local conditions—-providing models for others to learn from.

What you can do:

Instead of relying exclusively on large supermarkets, consider farmers markets and local farms for your produce, eggs, dairy, and meat. Food from these sources is usually fresher and more flavorful, and your money will be going directly to these food producers.

 

4) Get out and ride

: We all know that carpooling and using public transportation helps cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, as well as our gas bills. Now, cities across the country are investing in new mobility options that provide exercise and offer an alternative to being cramped in subways or buses. Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, and Washington, D.C. have major bike sharing programs that allow people to rent bikes for short-term use. Similar programs exist in other cities, and more are planned for places from Miami, Florida, to Madison, Wisconsin.

What you can do:

If available, use your city’s bike share program to run short errands or commute to work. Memberships are generally inexpensive (only $75 for the year in Washington, D.C.), and by eliminating transportation costs, as well as a gym membership, you can save quite a bit of money!
Even if without bike share programs, many cities and towns are incorporating bike lanes and trails, making it easier and safer to use your bike for transportation and recreation.

5) Share a car: 

Car sharing programs spread from Europe to the United States nearly 13 years ago and are increasingly popular, with U.S. membership jumping 117 percent between 2007 and 2009. According to the University of California Transportation Center, each shared car replaces 15 personally owned vehicles, and roughly 80 percent of more than 6,000 car-sharing households surveyed across North America got rid of their cars after joining a sharing service. In 2009, car-sharing was credited with reducing U.S. carbon emissions by more than 482,000 tons. Innovative programs such as Chicago’s I-GO are even introducing solar-powered cars to their fleets, making the impact of these programs even more eco-friendly.

What you can do:

Join a car share program! As of July 2011, there were 26 such programs in the U.S., with more than 560,000 people sharing over 10,000 vehicles. Even if you don’t want to get rid of your own car, using a shared car when traveling in a city can greatly reduce the challenges of finding parking (car share programs have their own designated spots), as well as your environmental impact as you run errands or commute to work.

 

6.) Plant a garden: 

Whether you live in a studio loft or a suburban McMansion, growing your own vegetables is a simple way to bring fresh and nutritious food literally to your doorstep. Researchers at the FAO and the United Nations Development Programme estimate that 200 million city dwellers around the world are already growing and selling their own food, feeding some 800 million of their neighbors. Growing a garden doesn’t have to take up a lot of space, and in light of high food prices and recent food safety scares, even a small plot can make a big impact on your diet and wallet.

What you can do:

Plant some lettuce in a window box. Lettuce seeds are cheap and easy to find, and when planted in full sun, one window box can provide enough to make several salads worth throughout a season.

 

7.) Compost: 

And what better way to fertilize your garden than using your own composted organic waste. You will not only reduce costs by buying less fertilizer, but you will also help to cut down on food and other organic waste.

What you can do:

If you are unsure about the right ways to compost, websites such as HowToCompost.org and organizations such as the U.S. Composting Council, provide easy steps to reuse your organic waste.



 

8.) Reduce your meat consumption: 

Livestock production accounts for about 18 percent of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions and accounts for about 23 percent of all global water used in agriculture. Yet global meat production has experienced a 20 percent growth rate since 2000 to meet the per capita increase of meat consumption of about 42 kilograms.

What you can do:

You don’t have to become a vegetarian or vegan, but by simply cutting down on the amount of meat you consume can go a long way. Consider substituting one meal day with a vegetarian option. And if you are unable to think of how to substitute your meat-heavy diet, websites such as Meatless Monday and Eating Well offer numerous vegetarian recipes that are healthy for you and the environment.

The most successful and lasting New Year’s resolutions are those that are practiced regularly and have an important goal. Watching the ball drop in Times Square happens only once a year, but for more and more people across the world, the impacts of hunger, poverty, and climate change are felt every day. Thankfully, simple practices, such as recycling or riding a bike, can have great impact. As we prepare to ring in the new year, let’s all resolve to make 2012 a healthier, happier, and greener year for all.

 

Worldwatch is an independent research organization based in Washington, D.C. that works on energy, resource, and environmental issues. For more information, visit http://www.worldwatch.org.

These are just some of many suggestions for how you can go green this New Year. To read more of this article visit: http://yubanet.com/enviro/12-Simple-Steps-for-Going-Green-in-2012.php#.TwNRC80gvel

Receiving an LEED Platinum rating is the highest level of sustainability offered in the US, and is awarded by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). These buildings are the greenest of green buildings, and most efficient of high efficiency buildings. This super power of sustainability can leave us wondering – How do they do it? An article on Green Building Pro written by Christine Rombouts sheds some light on strategies used by a recent LEED Platinum building in LA.

West 27thPlace, a USC student housing community, has just received a LEED Platinum rating—the highest level of sustainability possible. It is one of a handful of Platinum certified developments in Los Angeles and one of the only student housing projects in the nation achieving this milestone.

The mixed-use community includes 161 apartment units and was developed by CityView and Symphony Development. The project, which opened for the fall semester and is fully leased, is now owned by Kayne Anderson Real Estate Advisors, the private equity real estate arm of Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors that invests in specialized real estate sectors.

Top 10 Strategies West 27th used to obtain LEED Platinum.

1) With West 27th Place, Symphony Development recycled nearly 95 percent of its construction waste. Now completed, the building includes a permanent on-site recycling program.

2) All units have low flow water fixtures and the appliances are Energy Star rated right down to the exhaust fan in the bathroom.

3) West 27th Place is located near several forms of public transportation, including the bus, Expo light rail line and the university’s tram system. Residents don’t need a car!

4) The community utilizes motion sensor lighting in its common areas. This eliminates any unnecessary use of electricity for lighting.

5) All walls, windows and roofs at West 27th Place have the highest levels of insulation. Maintenance crews test all of the air conditioning and vent ducts to make sure they are as air tight as possible.

6) A modular framing system was used in constructions. The walls were built off site, and assembled upon delivery to the job. This minimized wood waste and increased construction efficiency.

7) All drywall waste was recycled, with the gypsum used for farming and new drywall manufacturing.

8 ) West 27th Place has joined forces with “Plant a Billion” and for every $1 donated, they plant a tree. There is a donation bucket in the leasing office.

9) Bricks from the original building were deconstructed, cleaned and recycled.

10) Landscaping consists of drought tolerant plants and the furniture and carpeting are formaldehyde free and made with recycled content in nearby factories.

Read More: http://www.greenbuildingpro.com/articles/57-features/3301-10-strategies-for-leed-platinum

When it comes to sustainable living, recycling is one of the top practices on our lists. It’s common knowledge that paper, plastic and cans are separated, but there are some household goods that may not have a place in your recycle bin. Being aware of what your city’s recycling procedures are gives you the opportunity to repurpose materials that would have otherwise been sifted in with the garbage. Here is a list of common household products that you may want to think twice about before tossing into your recycle bin:

1. Aerosol cans: Sure, they’re metal. But since spray cans also contain propellants and chemicals, most municipal systems treat them as hazardous material.

2. Brightly dyed paper: Banning brights from your recycles is common in most municipal systems. Strong paper dyes work just like a red sock in your white laundry.

3. Ceramics and pottery: Recycling your ceramics, mugs, and pottery is possible, but probably not in your recycle bin.

4. Household glass: Tossing windowpanes, mirrors, light bulbs and tableware with the recycles is generally discouraged. Bottles and jars are usually fine, and compact fluorescent light bulbs are recyclable.

5. Juice boxes and coated cardboard drink containers: Checking the labels is important before tossing these goods. Many of these are not recyclable, and items that are will be labeled.

6. Napkins and paper towels: Composting these is a better option because of what they may have absorbed.

7. Plastic screw-on tops: Disposing of these separately from recyclable plastic bottles is usually preferred.

Check your local municipal system for specific recycling directions, and remember that just because it can’t go in the bin, doesn’t mean it can’t find a home somewhere else. Being aware of your area’s recycle procedures is a great way to be environmentally friendly, and live a more sustainable lifestyle.

http://www.schriever.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123280133