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Friday, November 21, 2014

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The BEHA Eco Aircraft Seeks Crowdfunding


beha overheadA British company, Faradair Aerospace Limited, has recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a new eco aircraft the company has christened, BEHA, or Bio-Electric-Hybrid-Aircraft. The company has created a concept for a lightweight aircraft with extremely efficient and economical power. The intention is to create “the most environmentally friendly aircraft in the world”. The project is about to enter a year of R&D to fine tune the design for maximum efficiency, with the company hoping to have the first prototype aircraft built within two years.

de havilland dragon

Much of the inspiration for the plane came from an early passenger aircraft called the De Havilland Dragon Rapide. This 1930′s airliner had graceful lines and innovative power recovery systems, many of which will be incorporated into the design of the BEHA.

beha front

Another source of inspiration for the project is an unmanned aircraft created in 1990 by the father of the company’s Managing Director. The new design combines a bio-diesel engine with two electric motors, and is envisioned as an innovative six seat Hybrid Aircraft. The BEHA group is currently building a list of partners to help deliver the key technologies to make the prototype aircraft a reality.

BEHA top angle

BEHA’s designers intend to differentiate the plane from other current electric aircraft via increased size and through the utilization of true ‘hybrid’ duel-fuel capability. Faradair intends to develop energy recovery technologies, such as solar panel skins on all flight surfaces – combined with wind-turbine technology, to create battery-charging capability for the aircraft – both in-flight and when it’s on the ground. Power regeneration will offer significant improvements in range and payload capability, expanding the current perceived limitations for electric aircraft. A brand new bio-diesel motor will be primarily used as an on-board generator for the electric motors, with the added benefit of providing a fail-safe reserve power source if needed.

In addition to wind and solar energy capture systems the aircraft intends to feature autonomous capability (think drone) with the ability to be remote-controlled by a ground pilot in case of emergency. While remote passenger plane operation is not permitted today, BEHA will be built with the capability to operate in a fully unmanned fashion if the requirement is needed and approved in the future. With safety in mind, the aircraft will be fitted with a ballistic parachute recovery system and extensive crash protection features. It’s hoped that these features will make the BEHA one of the safest aircraft in the air. The aircraft will also function with dramatically reduced emissions. BEHA’s potential to fly without the noise, fuel requirements and emissions of traditional aircraft can enable it to have minimal impact on it’s surroundings.

It will be interesting to see if this concept ever reaches actualization. For all you visionaries out there, you can support this project by making a contribution to the Faradair / BEHA Kickstarter campaign.

related: more green technology articles from The Alternative Consumer

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Investors Turning to the Top Environmentally Friendly Companies


invest

In today’s world, green means more than just cash. Shoppers want to know that the products they buy do little to damage the environment, and investors want to work with the top environmentally friendly companies. These companies give investors the chance to make back money on their initial investments and feel proud that they chose the right companies. As interest in environmentally friendly products and companies grows, investors will continue seeing their shares in some companies rise.

Allergan
Allergan ranks as one of the top pharmaceutical companies in the world, but it also ranks as one of the most green friendly ones as well. Headquartered in the United States, the company has thousands of researchers looking into new medicines and improving existing medications. The company has a solid and positive reputation around the world. Allergan is a good investment because the company wastes less electricity and water and produces less waste and pollution that many other companies.

Hewlett-Packard
Hewlett-Packard, better known as HP, is one of the top environmentally friendly companies in the United States. Though the company made headlines in the past when a number of its battery packs became a potential fire hazard, the company bounced back and managed to keep its customer base loyal. It was one of the first companies in the world that released a recycling program back in the 1980s. This program let the company recycle many of its older and outdated components and turn those components into new and functional parts for its customers.

Johnson & Johnson
Best known for its line of personal care, health and beauty products, Johnson & Johnson also remains dedicated to protecting and preserving the world for future generations. It launched a nursing program that provides nursing students with scholarships, grants and other programs that help them better afford their educational needs. The company also started a program in 2011 that will train and educate citizens about what they can do to protect the environment. Johnson & Johnson also plans to go over its product line and find ways to reduce the waste produced during the manufacturing and use of those products.

Patagonia
Patagonia records an impressive number of sales every year that total more than $500 million. Known for producing luxury clothing and equipment designed for various sports, the company now ranks as one of the top retail chains in the world. Over the last three decades the company donated millions of dollars to environmental charities and organizations, and it continues to donate a small portion of its profits every year to those groups. Investment expert Rick Schaden also rates Patagonia high for its dedication to sustainability. The company works with a group of farmers in South America to ensure that the wool it purchases and uses comes from sheep treated ethically.

Investing in specific companies can come with some special perks. Coffee shops will often award shareholders with free drinks, restaurants hand out free food and clothing or jewelry stores may give shareholders discounts on future purchases. Those who invest in environmentally friendly companies get an additional perk in the form of good will. They know that when they select the right companies to invest in that they can help preserve the world for future generations to come.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

eco bark engineered siding for your home


smartclad home

We’re all familiar with engineered wood flooring, but siding for your home?

I love the rustic look of a home whose exterior features wood. My first home in the Catskills was constructed of Cedar siding. It looked gorgeous but the maintenance could be a bear. So when I heard about eco-friendly engineered bark siding, I had to take a peek.

backstory: BarkClad is an FSC-certified company and member of the Western North Carolina Green Building Council. Rather than cut down trees for wood siding, BarkClad works with loggers to re-purpose the bark from trees that are already cut for use in the furniture and plywood industries.

bark clad install

today: BarkClad also offers a line of engineered bark siding called SmartBark. Earlier this year they released their eco version of Poplar and today they’re introducing Sourwood and Walnut finishes. Here’s why we like these engineered bark siding options:

  • weather-resistant: won’t fade, darken, rot, mold, crack or curl
  • don’t require cutting down Poplar, Sourwood and American Chestnut
  • easy to install
  • estimated installed savings of $2/square foot compared to natural bark siding
  • don’t require bug treatment or a special moisture barrier
  • washable, paintable and flame resistant
  • R-value of 4.7 per inch, so you save on energy costs year after year
  • 30-year limited warranty

Let’s face it, there will always be new home construction, but we don’t have to use up all our natural resources in their design. From roofs, foundations and floors to siding, plumbing and windows – every day there are better, more sustainable ways to get the job done without sacrificing style.

related: more green building on alternativeconsumer.com

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How to make a house a home this winter


The weather outside is frightful and these cold, dark nights are drawing in, so it’s the perfect time to make sure your house is at its coziest. Transform your home into a warm retreat so you can nest through winter in style. Here are some simple steps to make your house a warm and inviting home this winter:

  • Soft touches
  • Rugs, quilts, blankets, cushions, throws – whatever soft touches you have put away over summer, now is the time to retrieve them. A night in front of the fire isn’t complete without something to snuggle up with. Tartan patterns are on trend and mono prints are back this season. Play around with different textures, winter allows for velvets, cashmere, faux fur and wool – things that you might not get away with during the summer.

    christmas floral arrangement

  • Floral
  • Plants, flowers and trees may be bare and frosty outside but this doesn’t mean you can’t fill your home with them instead. Winter flowers evoke warmth and make any room look inviting. When it comes to Christmas decor avoid tacky and dated tinsel and baubles, instead replace them with flower arrangements. Pearly whites, flaming reds and glowing oranges will make any home look Christmassy and classy. Serenataflowers.com has a great selection of Christmas flower arrangements, wreaths and plants. Including a number of table arrangements can take away the attention from even the biggest Christmas turkey.

    christmas flowers

  • Candles
  • The power of scent is underestimated and plays a major part in creating a cozy atmosphere. If you haven’t got the smell of comfort food coming from the kitchen, light a woody candle for the ultimate winter ambiance.

  • Lighting
  • Not only do candles smell good, they also provide great lighting. Lighting is key at any time of year but is also a great way to change your home from summer to winter. Winter is a dark time of year so rather than turning on all the lights and in turn raising your electricity bill, embrace the darkness and light some candles, light a fire, even the glow from a TV can deliver all the brightness you need. As a final touch, you could also bring in all the fire logs from outside and stack them up in a pyramid by the fireplace.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

DIY Easy Centerpieces for Thanksgiving


Now that you’ve figured out your menu, are you trying to decide what to use as a centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table? You can always take some simple on-hand items to make a statement piece sure to turn heads.

Showcased on Better Homes and Gardens, I thought I’d pass along a few fun ideas that caught my eye … they look easy to duplicate or maybe you’ll be so inspired …

diy Centerpiece 1

  • (above) Have an old globe around the house or see one in a garage sale, swap meet, or thrift shop? You can cut it in half and use it as a bowl on a pedestal. Fill it with some seasonal items like pine cones, small pumpkins, acorns, berries, twigs or fall leaves. No need for fussiness, just mix all your items together, put them in the bowl and display. Double-duty: you can also use the other half to hold fall-scented potpourri. Don’t forget you’ll need to rest it upon a pedestal.

diy bird seed centerpiece

  • (above) For the birds … You can use some narrow glass cylinder vases, and fill them with wild flower seed or bird seed. Insert some sturdy branches to make yourself a tree-like arrangement that you can leave as is or hang small pumpkins from, taking advantage of the post Halloween pumpkin sales. Glass is always a green and sustainable product that can be reused and recycled. Feed those fine feathered friends when you’re done. And if you opted for wild flower seeds just spread them all over your flower bed to enjoy colorful blooms come spring time.

statement centerpiece

  • (above) Let’s say you literally want to make a statement, and you want something a little more handmade. You can reuse glass bottles to create a fun and personalized centerpiece. Just (more…)
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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

salvaged charm: elegant dining table in reclaimed wood


reclaimed wood New Orleans dining table

One-of-a-kind, and evocative of classic New Orleans style, this dining room table strikes the perfect balance between old world elegance and modern aesthetics. Rescued from the remains of Hurricane Katrina, the table top once served as the outside of an olde home in the St. Roch neighborhood of New Orleans.

reclaimed wood New Orleans table

reclaimed wood New Orleans table

Standing on stunning wrought iron which once graced the balcony railings of an 1860s Greek Revival style home in the Garden District, these newly fashioned legs hold up very nicely indeed. Upcycling what easily could have been discarded material, these textural elements speak volumes, victims of Katrina no more. Doorman Designs; (1,500)

related: more eco home decor on alternative consumer

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Thanksgiving : let’s talk turkey


 veggie turkey.jpg

How to pick a Better Bird: Being in the know on picking a turkey this season.

Every family has a preference on whether or not there will be a turkey on the Thanksgiving table. Even though the most sustainable option is to go vegan and axe the turkey all together; if you are going to have a bird you should be in the know.

The typical market turkey breed is the Broad Breasted White, due to many generations of artificial selection and physical problems these birds no longer reproduce naturally. A turkey typically goes to market in 14-18 weeks. Because the breast is the most desired part, these birds are selected and induced to grow larger breasts. Because the birds grow too fast and their breasts are too large, their legs develop problems. Apart from this, the birds live in such close contact that they are plagued by campylobacter, which looks at unappetizing as it sounds. Campylobacter is responsible for foodborne illness and some 90 percent of turkeys grown in America have it. The concern of illness is also why the birds are treated heavily with antibiotics which can then transfer to us.

Despite regulation mandating that birds be taken off antibiotics before slaughter antibiotics are still present but in much smaller amounts. There are also hormones and a chemical toxin called dioxin, a known cancer causer, introduced into the bird. All this doom and gloom is making an ecofriendly vegan thanksgiving look more and more appealing. But if you’re still thinking turkey most birds can be free range, organic, neither or both; here is the gist.

  • Free range: as the name implies means that the birds have a space outside of the main confinement area where they are free to move about. But there is no set guidelines on the size of the space so its many times too small and overcrowded. And the crippling leg problems means they are still not very mobile and often trampled to death.
  • Organic turkey is a better option than just “free range” because it is free of hormones, chemicals and antibiotics. Often organic turkeys are grain-fed and can also be free range. But it isn’t a paradise.

BN ranch heritage turkey

Perhaps the best market option is a free range, organic, heritage turkey. Heritage turkey breeds still breed naturally, and are allowed to grow over a longer period of time so they can complete their natural life cycle. Because their slower growth rate made them not ideal for market, their numbers dwindled over the years. Acknowledged heritage breeds include: the Standard Bronze, Bourdon Red, Narragansett, Jersey Buff, Slate, Black Spanish, White Holland, Royal Palm, White Midget and Beltsville Small White. Three known producers and sellers of heritage turkeys are

Heritage birds are better for the environment, too. They (more…)

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Budget-Friendly Fitness the Frugal Way


ecological footprint

You want to get into shape, but you’re not sure whether you can afford it. Things like fitness just seem to come with a lot of costs – money for a personal trainer, money for healthier food, money for supplements. It all adds up. How does anyone manage it? The truth is that the fitness industry has a lot of little tricks it uses to rope you in and, unfortunately, it’s not always focused on results. Here’s how to get your fitness on without breaking the bank.

Go On Starting Strength
One of the best ways to get strong is to use the infamous Starting Strength program. It’s a beginner’s strength-training program that focuses entirely on getting strong. Why would you want to get strong? Well, for a number of reasons.

First of all, strong people tend to be healthier people, all around. When you have more strength, you also tend to get better at everything you do, all other things being equal. Finally, Starting Strength isn’t a bodybuilding program, so you don’t have to feel like you’re entering a weird world of body dysmorphia.

It can be done at any gym that uses free weights, and the author of the book, Mark Rippetoe, also has a video series out that will walk you through the lifts. It’s a DIY approach, but it’s cheaper than hiring a trainer, and some say it’s much more effective.

The Best Supplements You Can Take
As a general rule, supplements are a dicey issue because they indiscriminately raise blood levels of that particular thing, without consideration of how it affects other systems in the body or other nutrients. For example, copper and zinc are antagonistic. So, supplementing with too much copper can cause zinc levels to fall.

In fact, people with a special genetic disorder who have too much copper in their body are diagnosed as having Wilson’s Disease. But, you can induce this in yourself if you take too much copper. The same is true of iron. Too much, and you can induce a mild to moderate (sometimes severe) type of hemochromatosis (which is technically another genetic disorder where blood levels of iron are excessively high, which in turn causes excessive oxidation and damage to body tissues).

With that said, there are common supplements out there that are likely safe for most people to take. One such supplement is fish oil. A high-quality fish oil supplement can go a long way towards fighting inflammation in the body. It’s well-studied and, if you just can’t stomach fish, it’s one way to get vital omega 3s into your diet.

Another good supplement is choline. If you’re not eating a lot of eggs and liver, you may very well be deficient in choline. Choline is a water-soluble essential nutrient that, among other things, helps shuttle lipids (fat) out of your liver and blood.

A diet that’s deficient in choline may contribute to fatty liver disease and high cholesterol. So, contrary to what you’ve been told, you probably should be eating your eggs (the yolk too) since it’s very high in choline. Liver is another good source of choline. But, barring those foods, your best bet is to take a supplement.

Vitamin D is yet another supplement that’s hot right now, and for good reason. Almost every cell in the body has a vitamin D receptor. That means it’s very, very, important. Vitamin D is considered more of a hormone than a vitamin, due to its actions in the body.

The best way to get vitamin D is to get out into the sun, and it’s free. Exposing at least 70 percent of your body to the sun every day for up to 15 or 20 minutes (for light-skinned people) or up to 2 hours (for dark-skinned people) should give you enough vitamin D.

If you’re a natural redhead, or you’re pale as a ghost, you already know that you and the sun aren’t best buddies. What do you do? Fortunately, vitamin D supplements are cheap. You can buy an entire dropper-bottle for about $20 or $30, which will last you all year (possibly longer).

Some experts say you should shoot for blood levels of 50 ng/ml. Others say that you should be fine with levels between 20 and 40 ng/ml. The Vitamin D Council also has good advice about getting enough vitamin D through both the sun and supplements.

Finally, if you don’t eat a lot of sulphur-rich vegetables, you may be deficient in sulphur. It’s hard to tell though, because most doctors don’t test for this. Fortunately, supplemental sulphur, like TMG and MSM is incredibly cheap and has an excellent safety profile. MSM, in particular, has a safety profile similar to water, meaning that it’s almost impossible to overdose on it.

Buy Healthy Foods
The easiest, and cheapest, way to get healthy and in shape is to eat better. You may have heard this before, but 80 percent of the challenge in getting lean lies in diet. But, eating healthy is expensive, right? It doesn’t have to be.

Beans are a staple food in many countries, and they’re an incredibly rich source of vitamins and minerals. They’re also dirt cheap. But, don’t go for canned beans. Go for real beans. Dried beans are perfectly fine. Just make sure you follow the instructions for soaking them before you cook them. Soaking removes the toxins, and reduces the level of phytic acid, in the bean, making it safe to eat and very nutritious.

Aside from beans, eggs, soup bones, most veggies, and even some meats are relatively inexpensive. Use sites like sumocoupon.com to find coupons on your favorite items and try to stay away from junk food, which tends to be surprisingly expensive.

Walk and Move More
We all need to get outside and move more. The simple act of walking has many benefits, according to biomechanist Katy Bowman. There’s no substitute for a walk in the woods, so get out there and enjoy yourself. You’ll be doing your body good.

Guest contributor Russell Matthews is a fitness enthusiast and personal finance consultant. He enjoys finding innovative way to save money while staying fit. His articles mainly appear on fitness and lifestyle blogs. Keep up with the latest fitness coupons on Twitter.

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