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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

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How Can Old Tires Change the Way We Make Asphalt?


used-dumped-various-car-tires-

When we look at an old, discarded tire we don’t think to ourselves that it might contribute to making a better roadway; but old tires may do just that. Currently most old tires are collected by tire retailers and recycled for a small fee. Once collected they are separated and then reduced. The larger pieces are used as stone aggregates or fuel to power kilns. But the small fine pieces are considered crumb rubber. Crumb rubber is used as a raw material for a wide variety of applications including molded rubber goods and adhesives.

rubberized asphalt

Tires can also be recycled into a form of asphalt. (more…)

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

5 Ways to Build a More Eco-Friendly Garden


spring daffodils

Your garden is your one-stop reliable shop to be at one with nature. It’s a place where you can really invest in the environment around you and build habits to live more sustainably. Even if you haven’t got ‘green thumbs’, here are some simple ways that you can be more eco-friendly in your garden.

1. Switch to Solar
Solar garden lighting has become more and more popular in recent years and there is a good reason why! For those pathways, gates, fences and patios, you can easily and affordably switch to sustainable lighting by opting for solar lights that store sunlight energy during the daytime and light their surroundings at night.

2. Collect Water
If you’ve never heard of a water butt, it’s about time that you did. Instead of filling up watering cans from the tap or hosing down the plants in your garden, use rainwater collected in a large bucket or ‘butt’ to save water and be a more eco-friendly gardener. Just think about it, if every household in the UK got a standard water butt, it would save around 30,000 million litres of water each summer!

bottle greenhouse3. Grow in a Greenhouse
We all know that greenhouses are green and allow an abundance of fruits, plants and flowers to grow in a controlled, optimized environment but have you ever thought of building your own? Greenhouses can actually be relatively easily made with plastic bottles and not only does this help recycle but it also cuts down the amount of land-space you would take up by growing outside in the open.

4. Plant Bright Flowers
Not all of us love bugs and creepy crawlies, especially when they end up chewing up your plants, but there’s a more eco-friendly way to keep them away rather than resulting to nasty pesticides. Plant bright flowers like sunflowers, primroses and marigolds as they will attract insects like ladybirds and lacewings that eat aphids who chew up your crops. Try and pick flowers that bloom into autumn too as this will allow more time for beneficial bugs to gather and for bees and butterflies to pollinate!

5. Create Some Compost
Making your own compost to nurture your garden is better than buying it and it’s so sustainable too. You’ll need to get a container or compost bin for the ingredients to ferment and you’ll need to sort your kitchen scraps to add to the mix. There are plenty of useful guides and tips to create the perfect compost to fertilize your garden so there’s never been a better time to get started!

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Monday, September 29, 2014

A Green Spa Experience to Remember


Meditation-Garden-with-Iris

Finding myself in San Francisco for a conference, I decided to arrive a day early and explore a spa experience in Freestone which is about 65 miles outside of the city. The thought of “dropping out” for the day to “drop in” on myself was very appealing.

The Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary is a green and sustainable property. The owner, Michael Stusser is a leader in the sustainable movement. It was 25 years ago that he made a commitment to creating a green spa – one that resonates with nature. A founding member of the Green Spa Network, Michael is forward thinking and envisions that spas will be both the wellness and spiritual centers of the future.

tea garden at duskI entered the small building and was met by the intoxicating scent of essential oils. The staff was delightful and Jordan offered to take me on a tour of the property. Towering bamboo hugged a wooden gate that when opened took my breath away. The thought came to mind, “Debra, you are not in Kansas anymore.” I was transported to an extraordinary place, one that bespeaks transformation. The Japanese garden, native plantings, waterfalls, fountain, rock gardens and stream were designed to embrace individuals as they reflect and decompress.

After my tour I was escorted to a creek-side Pagoda and it was there that I received an aromatherapy massage and scalp treatment. Thanks to Consuelo, I was now uber-relaxed. My delicious vegetarian lunch and freshly brewed tea were served in a private enclave overlooking rustic plantings with dramatically beautiful scenery. It was now time for my Sound Therapy session. Suspended in a hammock overlooking a garden I listen to music that was composed specifically to balance the brain. I was drifting away in a state of euphoria when I sensed someone sitting nearby. The practitioner patiently waited for me to notice her and introduce herself. I scheduled for a guided meditation session. Daidie guided me through my past, my present and my future. For me it was a cleansing of the spirit and soul. I experienced a shift within and felt light and happy.

One treatment I did not have a chance to experience was the Cedar Enzyme Bath. Osmosis is the only spa in the United States that offers this unique service which originates in Japan. The hot wood chip bath is used to treat arthritis, the immune system and other body systems. Definitely on my list for my next visit!

Most of us are living a high pressured, tightly scheduled and high-tech lifestyle. It is important to quiet the mind and body and take time to connect, not electronically but energetically, to the nurturing essence of Mother Nature.  Thank you Osmosis for a blissful day!

Debra Duneier is an accredited LEED® Green Associate, Certified Eco-Designer, Feng Shui Master Practitioner, Creator of EcoChi® and an award winning Author of EcoChi: Designing the Human Experience. www.ecochi.com

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Do You Have the Right Doors for Energy Efficiency?


french doors

Being energy efficient is not only about helping the environment by reducing your energy waste and carbon emissions but it’s also about saving money and making smart choices. Patio doors are a great way to bring light, space and warmth into your home, especially if they are overlooking your garden. But if you don’t have the right doors for energy efficiency, they can be a troublesome investment and may cost you heat and light waste as well as hundreds of pounds a year. Here are some tips on making the right choice.

1. Know Your Materials
Gone are the days of cheaply made patio doors. Make sure yours are an investment by choosing the right material to suit your home and budget. You can get uPVC doors that are extremely low maintenance as they can withstand even the harshest weather conditions and are even completely recyclable. Or you could go for hardwood doors made from timber and solid oak that insulate naturally. For the best of both worlds you can go for a uPVC option with a natural wood finish if it suits the theme of your home better.

2. What Kind of Glass?
Single pane windows are a killer to your energy bill, not to mention they keep things pretty cold in the winter! Make sure you choose some reinforced double or triple glazing, or you could even invest in low-emissivity glass that reflects heat back inside your home for superior insulation and cost savings.

3. Check the Seals
Another important factor to consider is the quality of sealing that you have on your doors. Draught-proofing ensures that cold wind does not enter your home when the doors are closed but also that precious heat doesn’t escape too! Look into the quality of the seals used so that you can be sure that they won’t need replacing or will wear away too quickly with continued use.

4. Don’t Forget Security!
Security might not be a major factor when it comes to energy efficiency but it actually helps considerably in conserving heat energy when your doors are locked tight and ensure that people don’t accidently leave them open. Make sure your doors have a trusted and advanced locking system like the ‘hookbolt method’ for sliding doors so that they can be easily secured on a daily basis.

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Wind Energy: As Easy As Flying a Kite … A Very Big Kite


altaeros wind turbine

If you find yourself traveling down your 5-mile gravel driveway in the pouring rain, returning from a bi-weekly grocery run or a quick trip to the mailbox, and an unidentified flying donut appears high in the evening sky, do not be alarmed. It is not going to hurt you; this is not an Independence Day-type scenario; the Led Zeppelin tour likely has not stopped in your small town in rural America, either. Your home greets you with porch and interior lights as you clamber up the steps to your front door, reusable grocery bags and a wealth of paper bills in hand. You find that the phone, television, internet and trash utilities await payment, but the power bill has been strangely absent for some time. Soon thereafter, you collapse into your couch and turn the television to the nightly news, where the headline story covers the widespread electrical outages in the city in the next county. The newscaster says that high winds and heavy rains have knocked out critical elements of the power grid leaving hundreds without electricity, as you think to yourself, “what was that man’s name from Altaeros? I must thank him for the ‘BAT’ outside.”

altaeros wind turbines

Based in Boston, Massachusetts, Altaeros is a leading innovator in the wind energy sector, recently receiving a large grant from the Alaska Energy Authority to field test their new Buoyant Airborne Turbine (BAT) system in the skies over Fairbanks, Alaska.  (more…)

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Free Energy Saving Projects That Will Help Make Your Home Greener


green homeIt’s a sad fact that over 50 percent of the world’s forests are depleted and that within 30 years, there will be so much CO2 in the atmosphere that it will be deemed over the acceptable level. What this means is that as individuals, we now need to ensure we’re doing everything that we can be to ensure that our houses or apartments are as green as possible; after all, it’s important that we practice what we preach.

So, bearing in mind that for many people there’s still not a lot of spare money left in people’s pockets after they’ve paid their bills, we’ve created this short guide to how you can implement some straightforward energy saving projects that are completely free. Here are just a few of those ideas for you to try out yourself.

1 – Reroute Your Hot Water Pipes Under Your Floorboards
You might be surprised to know that one of the main ways your home loses heat is through the floor. Now you could have purpose build floor heating installed to help keep your floor nice and warm, but of course, this is bound to be expensive and use up precious electricity. Instead, therefore, we recommend that wherever possible you reroute your existing water pipes so that they take a short detour under your flooring.

2 – Check for Government-Driven Schemes for Free Loft and Cavity Insulation
Next, you should take your search for free energy-saving projects to the internet. There are plenty of government-led schemes for people on low incomes who can’t afford to simply pay for expensive home insulation outright. Thanks to sites like MyFourWalls.com, it’s now easier than ever to see what’s available to you for free, and to find the best providers near you to come out and do the work for you.

3 – Make the Most of Existing Technology
Finally, there are probably thousands of apps for your phone that are dedicated to helping you save energy, and they’re most likely either free or very inexpensive. Even your central heating might have its own app that helps you to keep track of your spending habits and your usage per hour, so make sure you’ve consulted the web to see what’s available to you.

Ultimately, there are plenty of ways that you can reduce your rate of energy consumption, and if you’re serious about doing so, you’ll follow some of the pointers above and make your house greener for free. If these ideas start saving you considerable amounts of money per month, you might even think about investing some of your savings into other not-so-free energy saving projects.

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Eco-Fashion Friday Finds – Falling for Sweaters


bamboo alpaca sweater

It’s that time again. Cool autumn breezes are beginning to waft through changing fall foliage. Time to start thinking of warmer clothing, layering and transitional items like sweaters. This week we’re featuring a roundup of sustainably sourced and eco-friendly sweaters – note not all these pieces are vegan, most are sustainably sourced, handmade and stylish.

This original hand knit sweater (above) is made of baby alpaca, merino and bamboo mixed yarn. It features a sumptuous, two-strand thick and thin textural pattern with some loosely plied strands mixed with spiral-plied strands creating a unique texture and form. This sweater’s hand-paint color combinations of sapphire gray and cream is (more…)

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7 Ways to Conserve Water


water droplet falling

Water is life. It is the single most important resource on the planet. Nothing that we know of can survive without it. There are many places throughout the world where fresh water is scarce, and people go without it due to population growth, longer life expectancies and pollution. That is why it is so important to conserve what we have for ourselves and for future generations. If we don’t, what else are we going to do?

There are so many ways the average consumer can conserve water, both on their own and with efficient energy saving products:

  • You can reuse grey water, like dish water and laundry water in your garden. This will allow you to reuse what you have rather than use new water.
  • You can collect rainwater in a cistern. It is amazing just how much water is wasted when they take a shower. All of that water going down the drain adds up to a lot more than you can imagine.
  • Using a low flow shower head and cutting down the time you spend in the shower is probably one of the best ways you can help the environment. It cuts down your water usage.
  • A shower and faucet flow meter bag monitors the flow of water in your shower and faucet aerators by actual gallons per minute. This can be essential to watching exactly how much water you use. It will serve as a healthy reminder to conserve and allow you to cut down your water bill immensely. Water leaks are not only wasteful, they can cost you more than you realize.
  • It’s always best to monitor your toilet for leaks. They can spring up anytime. One of the best ways to do that is with a LeakAlertor. A leak alerter detects leaks by monitoring the vibrations of your toilet and alerting you when they change. It gives visual and auditory alerts. You can’t miss when you have a leak. It works perfectly with faulty flappers and other leaks that can’t be heard.
  • A moisture meter is another device that can be really helpful. You stick it in the ground and it detects how much moisture is in the soil so you can avoid improper watering in the garden. It works at the root level where the plants soak up all the moisture that way you know just how much water is there and whether or not you are using too much or too little. It even comes in cute little designs, like a frog or ladybug. You can even customize it with your logo, company or program name.
  • We waste a lot of water by rinsing out dishes before we do them. There are dish squeegees that can avoid this problem. By squeegeeing your dishes you can get all of the caked on food off without having to use any water.

You’d be surprised how much water these simple changes can save. We can’t waste the world’s resources. They’re all we have. The environment is the single most important thing we have and water is an integral part of saving it.

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