Thursday, July 30, 2009

Green Computing: Buy A Laptop Instead of A Desktop Computer

When purchasing you next computer for your home or office, consider getting a laptop. Laptops only use about a third of the energy that it takes to run a desktop computer. Most laptops have outputs that would allow you to display your computer on a large LCD, television, or computer monitor if you would ever need a larger screen. Also, USB ports allow you to connect keyboards and mice if you are at your desk.

In addition to the energy savings you may also benefit from the portability offered by laptops!
**image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Beloit homeowners get green tips to cut energy costs - – Rockford’s News Leader

Beloit homeowners get green tips to cut energy costs - – Rockford’s News Leader

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Follow Us On Facebook!

We've just set up a Facebook fan page for our blog and would like your help promoting it. Please help increase environmental awareness by following us on Facebook!

Go to the Greener Ways Facebook Page!

We are working to improve the page daily. Watch for updates and more green tips to come!

Four Ways To Save Water in Your Home or Business

When thinking about greener ways to live, many people focus on energy savings and electricity. Water is an important resource and reducing your usage will help save you money while decreasing your environmental impact at the same time.

  1. A leaky faucet dripping one drop every second will waste almost 3,000 gallons of water in a year. This is costly for you and the environment. The repair will end up saving you money in the long run.
  2. Choose landscaping with plants native to your area and climatic conditions. This will reduce the need to water them since they are able to grow in your area under normal weather conditions.
  3. Find a local carwash that uses recycled water for your vehicle or company vehicles.
  4. Install low-flow faucets and high efficiency showerheads as well as water efficient toilets.
Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Take Advantage of Natural Light

You may be able to save money on electricity in your home or office by simply rearranging a few things. If you have a desk that you regularly work at you may want to think about moving it near a window. There are many advantages to doing this. You will not need to use as many lights if you light your desk with natural light from the window. A window also makes a great background for a desk, and it's much more pleasant to see than a blank wall. If the weather is decent, the window can be opened and the fresh air will be pleasant when you are hard at work.

Other ways to reduce, reuse, or recycle in the office:

Save Your Business Money By Purchasing Coffee Mugs

Video On Greening Your Office

**image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Baking Soda: The Green Cleaner

Most cleaning products do a great job but this comes at the expense of your health. Breathing in chemicals from these products can have an affect on your health similar to secondhand smoke. Baking soda has so many uses and it makes a great cleaner. Mix it with water to make a paste to scrub soiled dishes, counters, and sinks. Try diluting it in water and use this mix to clean toys, furniture, carpets and almost anything else you can think of. In addition to cleaning the baking soda also deodorizes and leaves things smelling fresh. You can use baking soda and not have to worry about affecting you and your loved ones’ health and this makes it great to use when cleaning toys and other baby products.

**image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Mommy Minute: Going green and chemical-free with natural deodorants

Mommy Minute: Going green and chemical-free with natural deodorants

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Wal-Mart using its clout to go green - The Boston Globe

Wal-Mart using its clout to go green - The Boston Globe

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Throw A Green Second-Hand Baby Shower

When planning a baby shower for you or a friend consider a new trend, second-hand baby showers. This is where you request that guests get used or second-hand gifts. Many people tend to buy more gifts since they are more expensive. Most infant or toddler products are only used for a short time since babies outgrow stuff so fast! Also, it’s a great way for family and friends to clean out things that they don’t use anymore, while giving a loved one a gift at the same time. It’s beneficial to everyone involved!

**image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

How To Reuse and Recycle Greeting Cards

Each year about 7 billion greeting cards are sold throughout the world. Over a third of those are Christmas cards. A single greeting card might not seem to make a difference on the environment, but think about how much room 7 billion of them would take up! Here are some ways to reuse or recycle old greeting cards.

  • Create your own cards out of old ones. You can cut the front cover off of most greeting cards and then paste them onto a new handmade card. Kids love this. There are so many ways you can creatively use them. Many hobby stores carry blank cards that work great for this.

  • Check out St. Jude’s Ranch website to see if they are accepting greeting cards. If they are, you can mail your old greeting cards to be remade into new greeting cards by this charitable organization.

  • Cut off the front side and turn it into a postcard. These can be sent using postage stamps, which are much less expensive than regular postage stamps.

  • Old greeting cards can also be used for crafts. If the card is a Christmas card, think about using it to make an ornament. Cards can be cut into tags for presents or gift bags too.

  • Most cards can be recycled with paper. Be aware of any material on the card that is not recyclable and remove it. Glitter can be a problem. Also, musical cards contain metal parts so those must be removed prior to recycling.

You may help save trees by simply not buying any more greeting cards. Think about how much money it costs for an impersonal message with a simple decoration on the front. Ecards are an alternative. You can still sent your loved ones greeting cards without wasting paper. There are many websites that offer free online greeting cards that you can add personalized messages to. Think of how many trees could be saved if there weren’t 7 billion greeting cards being produced each year!

JibJab Birthday eCards

**image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Monday, July 20, 2009

Save Your Business Money By Buying Coffee Mugs For Employees

It's odd to walk into a business that doesn't serve coffee. Most businesses serve it and set out styrofoam cups for employees to use. The average employee will go through over 450 coffee cups in a year. If a business were to buy every employee a mug, the mugs would pay for themselves in under a year in styrofoam cup savings. Most people prefer coffee in a mug anyways.

**image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

How To Be A Green College Student

Leaving home for college is a big step in a young adult’s life. Becoming independent and being on your own is and exciting step in life and it’s a great time to start some green habits. It’s much easier to lead an eco-friendly life if you start early instead of having to relearn bad habits.

In the dorm
Many dorm rooms are way too bright for most people’s comfort and just offer two settings, on or off. Bring your own lamp with a compact fluorescent bulb. You will find that the mood and feeling of your room feels much more like home, unless you lived in a warehouse. Take advantage of any natural light during the day by opening your curtains.

Buy environmentally friendly products for your room. This goes for everything from toiletries to laundry detergent. Keep a cloth rag on hand for spills or other cleaning. Keep a small towel to use as a napkin. Toss these in with your laundry and you will save some trees and money by not having to buy paper towels or napkins.

Adjust your computer’s power settings to have your screen turn off and eventually set your computer to hibernate after a set time of inactivity. Plug in electronics to power strips, which can be powered off with the flip of a switch. This prevents electronic devices from sucking energy even when they aren’t on.

At School
Carry a refillable bottle for drinking water. The most common item in the trash cans at my school was empty bottles of water. Besides the obvious problem of all the waste, many of these bottles were purchased in vending machines for $1.75. I was more concerned about drinking another fluid in college, beer, which is another area where students can go green. Search out local breweries and find a beer that suits you. By buying local you will help save the environment because it takes a lot less energy to transport local beer to you.

Use a three-ring binder to take notes using loose-leaf paper. Loose paper is packaged much more environmentally friendly. You could also take notes on your laptop. I found this very easy because I can type faster than I write and found it easier to keep up in class.

If you have a chance to present an issue in a class, choose a green topic. This will help educate your peers and it’s also a great conversation starter. Find other students who share your interest in the environment and either join a club or organization or start one.

**image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Switch To Biodegradable Diapers

Diapers are something that your baby will probably wear daily for about three years. Think of how many diapers end up in a landfill from just one baby! This is an area where parents can make a huge impact on their baby's environmental impact.

There are a number of diaper products on the market that are biodegradable. Some even say they can be composted. I'm sure this is true but before you start throwing diapers in your compost make sure you have a large, developed compost pile. If your compost is 90% diapers they will take a very long time to decompose.

Since you will go through thousands of diapers over the years this is a great way to start having a green baby. Watch for future posts on green parenting.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Green tips for buying organic produce and bulk

Green tips for buying organic produce and bulk
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Get Paid To Recycle Your Cell Phone!

GreenPhone is a company that will actually send you a check for recycling your old cell phone. You can go to their site and enter the details about your phone and it will quote you a price. You simply send them the phone and they will mail you a check!

**image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons user

What is a Carbon Offset?

An emerging trend for businesses and individuals is purchasing carbon offsets. These are financial donations put towards projects like renewable energy, planting forests, destruction of methane from landfills, and many others. Renewable energy projects like wind turbines and hydroelectric power along with forestry projects are the most common.

Individuals purchase carbon offsets in an attempt to make up for their carbon footprint, thus offsetting their impact on the environment. Businesses do the same, purchasing offsets to make up for their environmental impacts.

I don't use them personally. I think it can be seen as a reason to not care about your environmental impact. It's great to do things to offset your impact, but I think it's more rewarding to do it yourself. It can be fun to plant a tree yourself, somewhere you can see it grow. Instead of paying for projects in other regions, why doesn't a company put up their own wind turbine and be energy-independent or find other ways to reduce their impact? Usually when a company takes measures to reduce their environmental impact they end up saving money. It's a win-win situation.

That being said, I don't want to discredit carbon offset projects. It's great that they provide an outlet for individuals and businesses who may otherwise not do anything about their environmental impact.

**image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons user Caveman 92223

Saturday, July 4, 2009

How To Recycle Old Credit Cards

Many of us receive unwanted promotional credit cards in the mail. Others have cards that wear out and expire. If the account number on the card is still valid, then not all of these options may be good for you but here are some ways to recycle your old credit and bank cards.

  • Some people swear by using them as an ice scraper for your car. I've never had success doing this. Maybe in other climates the ice doesn't get so thick.
  • Some kids enjoy using them as toys.
  • I've seen earrings sold in stores either made from old credit cards or made to look like they were.
**Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons user Andres_Rueda

Friday, July 3, 2009

Here is an article I found while reading the news the other day. This is very encouraging and hopefully the U.S. will follow suit.

EU, phone makers agree on charging standard

BRUSSELS (AP) — No more asking around the office for the right sort of
charger. At least that's what European Union and cell phone makers are
The world's leading mobile phone makers announced Monday that they
will ensure that their data-enabled phones and chargers will all work together,
as of next year.
EU Industry Commissioner Guenter Verheugen said a
standardized charger will cut costs for manufacturers and reduce the number of
chargers thrown away when consumers buy new phones.
Though the agreement
applies to the EU, it's likely that the standardization will apply to phones and
chargers sold outside the member countries.
Nokia Corp., Samsung Electronics
Co., LG Electronics Inc., Sony Ericsson, Apple Inc., Motorola Inc., Research in
Motion Ltd. and NEC Corp. committed to developing a standard for phone charging
based on the Micro-USB interface. Together, they account for more than 80
percent of the world market for cell phones.
Several of those companies
already make phones that charge through Micro-USB ports, but they don't
guarantee that they will work with chargers made by other companies.
"What we
are doing here is we are agreeing that any external power supply will be able to
charge other manufacturers' phones," said Tony Graziano, technical director for
DigitalEurope, which represents digital technology associations and companies
that do business in Europe.
This doesn't mean that all new data-enabled
phones will come with Micro-USB ports. Graziano said manufacturers can satisfy
the terms of the agreement by producing an adapter. Apple, for instance, has
consistently used a proprietary connector for its iPhone and could produce an
adapter that plugs into the phone to accept a Micro-USB charger.
Cosgrove, director general of DigitalEurope, said the group is "optimistic"
other countries and regions across the world will adopt the same universal
charger soon.
Consumer rights groups called for more ambitious plans.
could have extended this to different small appliances, such as MP3 players,
small digital cameras and PDAs," said Gabriele Fleischer from the Consumers'
Council in Berlin.
Texas Instruments Inc. and Qualcomm Inc., two U.S.
companies that make components for cell phones, also signed the
Associated Press Writers Barbara Schaeder in Brussels and AP
Technology Writer Peter Svensson in New York contributed to this report.

How To Recycle Your Toothbrush

Here's something that everyone uses (hopefully). Think about how many million toothbrushes are used every day. Many natural food stores carry toothbrushes made from recycled plastic. These are great products. Once you are done using the toothbrush there are many ways to lengthen the life of it. There are too many ways to list how you can reuse your toothbrush so here are just a few to get you started.

  1. Use it to detail clean your vehicle, getting in cracks that a normal rag can't reach.

  2. They work great for scrubbing hard water and mineral buildups around sink faucets.

  3. Use them to clean and polish your jewelry.

  4. The bristles work great for cleaning tile grout.

  5. Scrubbing shoes with toothbrushes gets them nice and clean, however, make sure you aren't using a brush with hard bristles.

  6. Car battery terminals often get dirty and toothbrushes work great to clean them.

  7. Use them to scrub stains out of carpet.

As you can probably tell already, this list goes on and on. Feel free to add your own tips and uses that prolong the life of toothbrushes. Remember, buy brushes made from recycled plastic.

**image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Video About Greening Your Office

This is a great video about how to make your office greener. Many of us green our homes but we forget about the office. Watch this great video. The tip I'd like to highlight is turning off your computers at night. This is something that doesn't get done at many businesses. You can tell because when walking past them at night you can see screen savers or desktop screens through the windows. If for business reasons you can't turn off your computer at night, at least turn off the monitor.

Ecotourism, Eco-Friendly Green Travel

Okay so by now most of us have taken steps to green our homes, but what about when we aren’t at home? When we travel most of us leave an even bigger impact on the environment than we do at home. Ecotourism is a new way to think about travel.

When planning a trip, do some research on potential destinations. Some cities or parts of the world are greener than others. Also, many hotels are taking the initiative to go green. Ask questions when booking your hotel rooms and book at an eco-friendly hotel. When at the hotel, don’t request new sheets on the bed each day and reuse your towels. Even better, consider camping instead of hotels.

When getting around your destination think green. Find out ways to bike or walk instead of driving. There are places where you can rent bikes in some destinations. If walking or biking are not options, opt for public transit like buses or shuttles instead of renting a car. This will also save you some hassle. Buses, trains, subways and ferries are also great ways to get around. If you must rent a car opt for a hybrid or compact model.

When at your destination eat local foods. Food takes a lot of energy to transport (see post on locavores). Ask questions when making reservations. Eating local foods will give you a more genuine vacation experience and often the food is better.

Don’t forget to turn everything off at home. Not only that, but unplug everything you can. Many electronic items still suck energy when the item isn’t on. Turn off the thermostat, weather permitting, or at least crank it so that it hardly runs at all.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

What Is A Locavore?

A locavore is someone who only eats food grown locally. This is a green way of eating because shipping foods across the country takes a lot of fuel for trucks, trains, or other ways of shipping. Farmer's markets are great places for locavores to pick up locally grown food. Some larger chains also carry local brands and/or produce.

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