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Monday, July 28, 2014

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Feng Shui: On Land and At Sea


EcoChi Super Yacht

In Feng Shui and Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is believed that health for an individual occurs when chi flows freely through the body nourishing every cell. The same is true for a space- whether it is your home, office, public environment or even a ship!

Compass School, teaches us to go into a space with what is called a “Lao Pan” Compass. This compass is used to determine the directional influences on a property in relation to the universe. Since boats, ships and yachts are perpetually in motion, this school of Feng Shui is not relevant for this kind of project.

The most well-known school of Feng Shui is called Form School. The flow of energy in a space is enhanced by intentional selection and assignment of furniture, or by specific placement of a decorative item. This school is appropriate for any interior design project including boats and yachts.

Feng Shui Tips for boats, ships, yachts and SuperYachts:

  1. Proper door alignment is critical for good Feng Shui.  An oversized door opening into a small space like a bathroom (head) means guests will be in there very often with indigestion or sea-sickness. A remedy would be to hang a mirror or beautiful art on the outside of the door.
  2. Any boat is already rich with Water energy so stay away from dark colors like black or navy blue and uneven patterns or shapes. This creates too much water energy which can result in very uncomfortable journeys.
  3. Avoid spiral staircases without risers. This causes chi to escape, acting like a hole in the center of the ship. A Feng Shui cure for this scenario? Glue 5 lucky Chinese coins under the first and last stair.
  4. Position your bed against a solid wall so you can see the door to your room but be sure not to be in line with it.  The wall symbolically protects you, your dreams and goals. The sightline to the door keeps you in control and in the power position.
  5. Looking for passion onboard? Red fresh flowers are sure to spice things up! Be sure to change the water every day and discard the flowers as soon as they start to wilt.

Prince Albert II of Monaco’s Wood Forever Pact promotes the use of wood on SuperYachts from well-managed forests and sustainable sources. Green and sustainable choices make for good Feng Shui and a better world. EcoChi® designs utilize wood from managed forests whenever possible. Taking care of our natural environment nurtures us-it is the circle of life that the 5 Feng Shui elements are based on.

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

related: more Feng Shui tips from The Alternative Consumer

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

kickstarter green find: yoloha cork yoga mats


cork yoga mat yoloha

We love yoga and we love renewable cork  — Yoloha is currently raising funds via a Kickstarter campaign for the manufacture of their innovative cork yoga mat. The top surface of Yoloha mats utilize a natural cork surface. Each mat is hand-built and features an unmatched grip that increases the more you sweat.

handmade yoloha yoga mat

The mat is also self cleaning – cork is naturally hypoallergenic and antimicrobial, naturally eliminating bad smells, bacteria, and mold. No need to wipe these mats clean.

cork yoga mat girl

Yoholo has been working with cork for many years on surfboards and other products and have a deep understanding of cork.

Eco-friendly features:

  • The mat is 100% recyclable with eco-friendly materials that contain no PVC’s or harmful chemicals.
  • Cork and rubber are some of the most durable and resilient materials on the planet.
  • Cork is a 100% natural, renewable and recyclable material.
  • The cork used in the mat’s construction is obtained through an environmentally friendly harvesting process. Trees are not cut down to harvest the cork, rather, the bark is peeled off by hand every 9 years. Cork oak trees can live up to 300 years.
  • Backing of the yoga mat is comprised of 90% domestically produced recycled rubber tires.
  • The entire mat is recyclable and all of the leftover scrap from producing Yoloha mats are reground to be used in new products.

yoloha cork yoga mat

The Yoloha Kickstarter campaign will be on-going for another 10 days. They are offering pledgers a variety of neat Yoloha associated stuff. Pledge $140 and you can get one of the first Yoloha cork yoga mats available – sometime in August. Due to cork’s inherent durability Yoholo guarantees the mat for a lifetime. Made entirely in the USA.

related: more eco-friendly health and beauty product reviews from The Alternative Consumer

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Friday, July 18, 2014

5 of the Best Companies That Use Alternative Energy


solar panel and sun

Alternative energy sources reduce carbon emissions and offer a sustainable solution for power use. By using renewable energies, these companies are helping the country shift away from its dependence on fossil fuels. This is a major environmental movement, and several big names are leading the way.

Intel Corporation: Massive Purchases of Energy Credits
The Intel Corporation has an annual usage of more than three million kilowatt-hours (kWh), 100% of which is sourced from green power resources. Intel uses biogas, biomass, small-hydro, solar, and wind power. It purchases the majority of its power through renewable energy certificates. However, Intel also generates some green power of its own through 18 solar plants with a capacity of about 7,000 kilowatts (kW). Altogether, the company’s use of green energy has the equivalent impact of taking more than 455,000 passenger cars off the road annually.

Kohl’s Department Stores: On-Site Renewable Energy
Kohl’s uses more than 1.5 million kWh annually, but manages to get 105% of its energy from renewable sources. By producing more green energy than it uses, this company is able to actually put excess renewable energy back onto the grid. Kohl’s purchases renewable energy credits that offset 100% of its power usage. On top of that, the company uses solar panels on select stores. These panels can provide up to 40% of the store’s power in 156 locations across 12 states.

Kohl’s also activated wind turbines on two sites. Vertical turbines outside a store in Findlay, Ohio generate approximately 40,000 kWh a year. Horizontal turbines in Corpus Christi, Texas provide 14,000 kWh annually. Wind turbines are an innovative option that are often powered by the same transformers used for more traditional forms of energy, which allows companies like Solomon Corporation to gradually enter the green market with wind turbine projects.

Whole Foods Market: Energy Efficient Stores
Nearly everything about Whole Foods Market is designed to create a greener environment, so it’s no surprise that this company supplies 107% of its energy usage through renewable resources. A recently constructed Whole Foods store in Brooklyn showcases the extreme lengths to which this company goes to create a green environment. The store uses energy-efficient lighting, refrigeration, and heating systems. Solar canopies in the parking lot supply 20% of the store’s energy, and the lot’s street lights are powered by small-scale wind and solar power systems.

Whole Foods has regularly purchased renewable energy credits to offset its power usage since 2006. The company’s trucks are gradually converting to biodiesel fuels as well.

Staples: Hitting Impressively High Goals
Staples has lofty goals when it comes to its green vision. The company aims to offer only sustainable products, recycle 100% of the technology that it sells, and produce zero waste in its operations. Though it hasn’t hit these goals yet, it’s come particularly far in its attempt to maximize renewable energy use. The company gets 106% of its annual power use of more than 630,000,000 kWh from renewable sources.

Not only does Staples buy energy from renewable sources, it has solar panels on the roofs of many stores to provide additional green power. Staples has also partnered with companies that are pioneering sustainable business practices, such as Rainforest Alliance SmartSource, the GreenBlue Sustainable Packaging Coalition, and CarbonFund.

Unilever: Shifting Energy Usage
Unilever, like the other companies on this list, offsets 100% of its energy use through the purchase of renewable energy credits. While this goes a long way toward supporting the use of renewable energy, it doesn’t actually reduce the amount of non-renewable energy that the company uses upfront. Unilever is taking its energy campaign a step further by striving to cut down on the total non-renewable energy that it consumes.

The company reports that by the end of 2013, renewable energy made up 27% of the company’s total upfront energy use. This is a marked improvement over 15.8% from 2008. Unilever’s goal is to get 40% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Consumers who want to support green energy initiatives can do so easily by shopping at retailers who are part of this movement.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Conscious Consuming – be a better consumer


green shopping cart

Has your daily grind forced you to take the easy way out, making you a victim of deceptive ad campaigns, cynical pricing scams and a mindless recruit in the corporate consumer army? Maybe it’s time to insert your values back into your shopping and consuming equation. What and where you buy something can have a tremendous impact on those around you – and around the world. By supporting products, companies and individuals who share your values, companies that invest in creating products that are earth-friendly, people-friendly, and ethically made and manufactured, you can make a profound difference. Here are just a few of the things you may want to consider before purchasing an item:

  • Do I really need this? Avoid impulse buys, redundant purchases and wasteful behaviors. The landfill is filled with junk that at one time someone thought they really needed. Sometimes your best decision is to just keep your wallet in your pocket… or purse.
  • Buy local. Keeping your local stores, farms or artisans gainfully employed will help support your local economy and your community’s social fabric – all important stuff. Before you head for the local big box store consider whether or not, you might find the same product or service closer to home from a neighborhood store. Help keep small town America alive.
  • Buy from ethical and Fair Trade Certified sources. You should always consider how a company, particularly those who manufacture products overseas, treats and compensates its workers. Search out products that pay their workers a living wage and that support the communities that make their products. FairTradeUSA.com is good place to start researching.
  • Buy organic. We know it can sometimes cost a little more, but buying organic fruits and veggies can keep all manner of fertilizers, GMOs, pesticides and additives out of you and your family’s bodies as well as the greater ecosystem.
  • Buy from real people. Don’t purchase a piece of crap furniture item made from engineered wood when you can bop over to Etsy or a local shop and find something handmade and original, made by a craftsman, for the the same price. Jewelry, art and clothing are also items that can be bought from artisans who have created them with style, vision and skill.
  • Avoid trendy fashion items made from living creatures. Do you know how the rabbit that provided the collar for your ski parka met his death? Think about it.
  • Keep it green and sustainable. Avoid buying disposable junk when sustainable, or reusable alternatives are available. Consider whether a company supports the same green and sustainable values and initiatives that you do before ringing up that purchase.
  • Stop ingesting dangerous chemicals. Thousands of chemicals in our food and everyday products have never been fully tested for their health, safety and environmental impact. Do your research and base your food, cosmetics and consumer products buying decisions on more than just price. Visit the Environmental Working Group for info and ratings on many consumer products. Big food companies want to maximize profits by mass-producing products filled with high fructose corn syrup, sugar and salt – check the label to see what’s in there – your kids will thank you. Additionally, many crops are now genetically modified to be disease and pest-free and you’ll be consuming those same pesticides and chemicals when you eat them at your dinner table – support GMO labeling initiatives in your state and municipality – the info can help you make an informed choice.
  • Ignore the noise of the mass marketing machine. Don’t fall victim to cute commercials and catchy marketing and advertising campaigns. Make your buying decisions based on facts, research and thoughtful consideration – not a jingle, celebrity endorsement, bikini-clad spokes model, or cute and cuddly animal actor. (more…)
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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Have a Happy, Green Fourth of July!


reclaimed wood american flag

Cheers to a nice, long Fourth of July weekend! Here are a few tips for keeping it green:

  • If you’re hosting a cookout, avoid disposable serving items – use those reusable plates and utensils.
  • If you’re contemplating blowing up some fireworks for the kids and framily – remember that dogs, cats and wildlife may not enjoy your propensity to blow up stuff.
  • Heading for the beach? Bring a trash bag and pick up some of the junk you’ll undoubtedly run into.
  • Keep car driving to a minimum. Walk, jog, bike, hike, skate – get some exercise and enjoy the fresh air.
  • Stay safe and party responsibly as you celebrate our Nation’s birth!

photo: reclaimed wooden U.S. flag by Chris Knight Creations

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