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Monday, April 21, 2014

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Earth Day – Let’s Celebrate


green Earth in the grass

Earth Day is Tuesday, April 22nd, and it is time for us “green” people to celebrate. Now this doesn’t mean that the other 364 days of the year aren’t days for being green and living sustainably as well, this just means that Earth Day should be a day to try something new for the environment.

For example, Google+ and Time are teaming up to find beautiful pictures of the planet. If you want to participate and share some of your own pictures, head over to Google+ and share them by hashtagging #MyBeautifulEarth and Google+ will feature the image on a page with all the other pictures as well from now until April 22nd. Also, Time’s photo editors will go through all the submissions and the best will be featured on TIME.com on Earth Day!

Also, enjoy and Earth Day freebie by visiting a Disney Store on April 22 with at least five plastic bags you’d like to recycle. If you do so, you’ll receive a free Disneynature Bears reusable tote bag, while supplies last!

Or pick an app to help you go green! I’ve done reviews on two of these apps, but here are three that you should check out to do your part for our planet. GoodGuide is used for getting a product’s environmental impact rating, PaperKarma is used to snap photos of unwanted junk mail to remove them from your mailing list, and Rippl is used to help you form eco-friendly habits (I’ll do a review about this soon to give you the full scoop).

Aside from these Earth Day reminders, just remember you can always participate in helping the environment. Look for local beach cleanups in honor of Earth Day or do your own research on what’s going on in your hometown, Tuesday and other days!

related: more eco news from www.alternativeconsumer.com

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Eco-News Roundup – Earth Day’s Here


Mother Earth's Eyeball

Here’s an eco-news roundup for you just before Earth Day, so I will start with a little Earth Day inspiration. Here are 17 inspiring quotes for Earth Day that will hopefully inspire you and get you into a “green” mood.

  • For our other eco-news for the week — I’m sure many of you are familiar with the plight of our bees. If not, here’s an update — our bees are suffering from something called Colony Collapse Disorder causing the bee population to drastically decline. As a result, people are becoming more aware of the effects of pesticides on our bees, especially neonicotinoids, and are lessening their use of such pesticides. To read more about this and a scientific report produced by Greenpeace on “The Bees’ Burden” visit greenpeace.org or this local Minnesota news site.
  • Some good news for the Asian environmental movement is that in Singapore “more than 2,000 young people gathered in the heart of Orchard Road on Saturday to commemorate Youth for the Environment Day.” The Second Minister for Environment and Water Resources, Grace Fu, was the guest of honor and spoke about the extreme weather patterns in Singapore and around the world, changing climate, and the proof that humans have an impact on it. Read more about the event at channelnewsasia.com
  • In more good news, “30 countries pledged donations totaling $4.43 billion to the Global Environment Facility (GEF), which will be used over the next four years to help developing countries preserve the environment. These funds will go towards projects to tackle climate change, deforestation, land degradation, species’ extinction, toxic chemicals and waste, and threats to ocean and freshwater resources. Read more about GEF and the donated money @ sustainablebusiness.com

related: more eco news from The Alternative Consumer

Planet Earth and human eye photo via shutterstock.com

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Friday, April 18, 2014

eco-fashion friday finds: Earth Day spin


antler scarf

(above) Are you a fan of Hannibal or True Detective? Then you may also be a fan of this Antler print scarf – with a more positive spin than the tv shows. Handmade of soft, sheer, organic cotton material and printed with awater-based paint, it comes in a variety of lovely colors … the perfect wrap for spring-summer wear. ($19) from Istanbul, Turkey-based, ShebboDesign on etsy.

river pebble and cork bracelet

(above) Don’t be green with envy … FizzCandy Jewelry is gifting this bracelet to A-List celebrities as part of its Earth Day promotion. (I know, not fair)

The bracelet features a fossilized river pebble from Lake Michigan, paired with Bali silver beads and Portuguese cork for a crunchy unisex look. Now if they’d just gift this to ordinary folks … $55

sustainable cork tote

(above) Looking for a special tote? With classic lines, versatile enough for travel, everyday or office … loving this luxurious Essential B Tote from eco-fabulous, Pelcor. Eco-fashioned from naturally sustainable, easily renewable cork; ($215). (more…)

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

eco art: four seasons tree paintings on reclaimed board


seasons paintings on reclaimed wood

Looking for something unique to put on the walls of your loft or apartment? The colorful panels of artist Rafi Perez’s  “Seasons of Change” tree paintings will certainly get the job done. The mixed-medium paintings are a colorful, abstract depiction of the four seasons and are created on reclaimed wood – creating a juxtaposition of new and old, abstract and organic.

seasons paintings on reclaimed wood

Perez creates each piece on commission and has designs in a variety of sizes. Sets of four range in price from $80 to $395 depending on size. Individual panels are also available. Perez maintains his studio in Pensacola, Florida and you can purchase his art online @ the Rafi Was Here Studio shop.

It’s always great to see designers keeping things sustainable by using repurposed and reclaimed materials.

related: more eco art featured on The Alternative Consumer

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

5 spring finds that will keep you looking good


It is spring (hooray!) and I am officially getting inspired by everything that is easy, breezy, and cool! The ushering of spring is so refreshing, with the sun on my face and the chance to finally knick the tights and roll out the shorts and skirts! For this post, I gathered some beautiful things from art to beauty that are getting me in the mood for warmer days and spontaneous beach excursions. Enjoy!

mango butterVineyard Peach Body Butter ($20) – Mango is usually the fruit of choice for the body butters but I am all about the peach. The scent is flippin’ amazing. It can’t be any more perfect for spring! Cruelty-free.

lvs cruelty-free nail polishLVS Nail Polish ($16) – This is such a beautiful, cool sky blue and it’s cruelty free!

davines sea salt spray

Davines Sea Salt Spray ($27) – This is for that effortless, wavy beach babe hair without expending the effort to actually go to the beach. Heck, I’ll probably use this year-round! Carbon neutral/zero impact product. (more…)

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Owning a Hybrid SUV: A Costs-Benefits Analysis


Mercedes-Benz SUV

As time goes on, it becomes more and more clear that hybrid automobiles represent the future. The benefits continue to outweigh the costs thanks to efficient designs. People often forget that Earth-friendly products don’t only exist just to help the environment, but also to create more efficient living. Energy requires resources and, therefore, uses money. Eventually, we’ll all be driving hybrid cars. Someday, we might even see total independence from fossil fuels. Check out some of the costs and benefits of owning a hybrid SUV.

Learning How to Drive Efficiently
Hybrid cars don’t just run efficiently, they teach you how to maintain efficiency in the process. Most hybrids offer a display that shows your present mileage next to an indicator of your current mpg. Many also tell you how much energy you regain when using the brakes.

All cars perform more efficiently from gentle acceleration and braking. When you can see exactly how each of your movements and decisions affect the mileage, you learn how to drive as efficiently as possible. For many people, trying to drive for the best mileage can become a fun and encouraging challenge on the road.

Perform Better Than Estimates
Because EPA estimates focus primarily on highway driving, you can actually beat those in your hybrid car. That’s right; hybrids actually drive better in the city than on the highway. Every time you stop in hybrid cars, they generate more electricity that can drive the car at lower speeds, or help the car accelerate quickly. According to CarsDirect.com, even a luxury hybrid SUV can get up to 50 mpg if used correctly in the city.

Gas Prices Still Affect You
Though saving on gas still stands as the main appeal to consumers, gas prices can still affect you financially. We all know that hybrid cars cost more because of their efficiency. Unfortunately, as gas prices rise, so do the prices of hybrids. Although, you could look at this as an upside. If you decide to sell you car in the future, and gas prices have risen, then you can sell your car for closer to the price you bought it.

Multi-Engine Power
Hybrid cars use two engines: an electric engine and a small gasoline engine. This can come in handy as electric engines are all you need in many cases. They produce their energy from zero revolutions per minute, which means you can accelerate from a complete stop to a speed two gears ahead with ease. The gas engine only needs to come into play for higher powered uses, like going at high speeds or moving quickly up a hill. The combination creates efficient riding, even when you don’t drive your best.

Batteries Work Great
People constantly worry about hybrid batteries, often citing them as a reason that hybrids don’t really save you as much money in the long run as the claim. Other people warn about batteries failing, and how expensive they can be to replace. Despite popular belief, you don’t have to pay for a top-notch battery from the company who sold you your car. Just like any other car part, you can buy one relatively cheaply at a salvage yard.

Hybrid batteries usually have excellent warranties, lasting long enough to make you feel like you got far more out of it than you paid for. Some people drive their car for over 200,000 miles before needing a new battery.

Lower Highway Driving MPG
This article mentioned earlier how hybrids can beat EPA estimates of a car’s miles per gallon by utilizing its efficiency in the city. Unfortunately, highway driving gives us a different story. Hybrids work the opposite of fully gas-powered cars in that they become least efficient on the highway. Don’t expect to feel incredibly fuel-efficient out there; you’ll still have a good average mpg, but certain compact cars and diesels can reach the same level of efficiency on the highway if driven correctly.

Less Maintenance
Among the best features of hybrid efficiency, you’ll notice that the gas engine doesn’t run at all when the car has stopped or is moving slowly. If driving in the city, you’ll constantly stop and keep the car at low speeds. Because of this, you end up putting a lot less wear and tear on your engine. This allows you to take your car in to get oil changes far less often and keeps the engine lasting longer.

Hybrids regenerate electricity with regenerative brakes instead of applying standard brakes, except in cases where you must stop suddenly. Most people drive around all day without slamming on the brakes, meaning the conventional brakes rarely get used. Thanks to that handy feature, you won’t have to bring your brakes in for service as often as you would with a non-hybrid.

The Car Stays Warm
As any mechanic knows, when you start-up a cold engine it’s harder to crank and can wear the engine down much more than starting one that you’ve already warmed up. Hybrids combat this by using a coolant they store in a temperature-saving container. So, once you’ve warmed up engine fluid, it stays warm for days. As long as you don’t let your car sit unused for days on end, you shouldn’t have any problems with wearing down your engine from cold starts.

It Takes Time To Earn Your Money Back
One last issue, though maybe not so important, comes with the time it takes to earn your savings back. The average hybrid SUV costs about three to four thousand dollars more than an equivalent non-hybrid version. If you drive 20,000 miles a year, spending just a little more time in the city than on the highway, you’ll save around $1000 on gas annually. That means it would take 3 to 4 years for you to earn your money back.

Now, gas mileage isn’t the only benefit of owning a hybrid, but it still acts as the main appeal. Even though you will earn your money back in gas savings, some people get discouraged by how long it takes for this to happen.

All in all, you won’t regret purchasing a hybrid car, as long as you can afford it. Future trends will only continue to support gas-efficient vehicles.

Author Bio:
Benjamin Ferguson is a freelance writer in Portland, OR. He loves creative writing, especially humor, and would love to help you write your story, comic, video, or any other creative venture that needs ideas, writing and/or polishing. If you’d like to contact him about any of these things, send him and e-mail at revbenferguson@gmail.com or send him a message on his linked in profile.

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