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Saturday, October 4, 2014

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DIY: How to make a solar powered jack-o’-lantern


solar jack-o'-lantern

With fall upon us and stores bursting with Halloween supplies, many of us are starting to decorate our homes and yards. Lighting is always a fun way to give homes some festive curb appeal. What’s better than a glowing jack-o’-lantern? Buying a bunch of pumpkins and carving them every few nights doesn’t seem like a practical idea. And since electricity should not be wasted nor toxic batteries tossed, how about going solar? A solar-powered jack-o’-lantern is a great and green do-it-yourself option to bring some of the spirit of Halloween to your home.

clear glass bowlAnyone of any craft skill level can make these lanterns at home in three simple steps. Before you begin, gather the following:  (more…)

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How to Donate or Recycle Cell Phones


Since smartphone manufacturers are constantly releasing their newest and hottest smartphones with exciting features, consumers are buying phones more often. The average person upgrades their cell phone every 18 months, a cycle which results in many people throwing out their old phones. This has major consequences on the environment: experts estimate that an astounding number of devices are thrown out every year in the United States alone. This adds to our country’s growing problem with overcrowded landfills.

The Environmental Effects
cellphone-slaes infographicAccording to e-Cycle.com, Americans throw out 130 million devices every year, making up the majority of toxins in our landfills. Even though more than 70 percent of these millions of phones can be reused, it is believed that only 14 to 17 percent of mobile devices are recycled. The environmentally responsible thing to do is properly recycle any mobile device that you no longer plan to use. When enough people participate, it can have a tremendous impact on the environment, our energy supply and our landfills.

For example, e-Cycle.com points out that recycling one lithium-ion battery of a smartphone can prevent the contamination of 60,000 liters of water (the equivalent of three Olympic-sized swimming pools). And, if 1 million people recycle their cell phones, this will reduce greenhouse gas emissions equal to taking 33 cars off the road for a year. Just 42 recycled cell phones save enough energy to power the average household for a full year.  (more…)

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

fresh air: Purggo bamboo charcoal car air filter


purggo car air filter

Did grandma leave the unpleasant aromatic remains of her favorite discount perfume all over your car, did your cousin sneak a smoke in your backseat last week, did your lab, Rufus, take a dip in the local swamp and then decided to ride shotgun in your Subaru? If so, or you have issues with any of a thousand airborne scents, you might want to consider installing one of these all-natural, Purggo bamboo air purifiers in your ride. These eco-friendly air filters contain 100% all-natural bamboo charcoal and are German-engineered, patent-pending, and nicely designed.

purggo car air filter install

It’s a crazy fact that the FDA doesn’t regulate most of the ingredients that manufacturers put into air fresheners. Many popular brands of air fresheners put whatever chemicals they want inside their products – and many of those chemicals can be incredibly harmful to the human body. A recent independent study conducted on the popular air freshener Febreze by Environmental Working Group revealed up to 89 air contaminants in the product, yet the label on Febreze only listed 5 ingredients.

The Purggo filter avoids all manner of additives and chemicals and is designed to eliminate odors instead of just masking them. As air passes through the filter’s pores, odor particles are trapped on the surfaces inside, purifying the air in your car – simply and naturally. No funky fragrances, added VOCs or harmful chemicals – this little air purifier is allergen- free.

Other features:

  • It’s economical – Purggo works passively 24/7 and lasts more than 365 days.
  • The outer shell is made of renewable hemp fabric.
  • Sustainably designed – no plastic components.
  • No masking fragrance or chemical additives.
  • Made with renewable bamboo.
  • 100% asthma and allergy friendly
  • Safe for the kid’s, the pooch, or grandma to sit right next to.

Purggo air filter on car seat

The bamboo charcoal in Purggo is 4x more porous than regular charcoal and has been activated and carbonized between 1110°F – 1300°F (600°C – 700°C). This form of bamboo charcoal has been used for thousands of years in many Asian countries to purify both air and water.

If you don’t want to hang the purifier from your car’s headrest it will work just as well on the seat. You can even use it in a bathroom or bedroom for some passive air purification and odor removal.

Purggo is about to complete a highly successful Kickstarter campaign, but – if you pre-order a Purggo by December 15th – you can still get it for $29.95 Kickstarter discount price – just visit Purggo.com (official product roll-out is 12/15/14)

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

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Monday, September 8, 2014

HomeKit: The Technologically Ecosystematic Home from Apple


Apple HomeKit

Apple recently filed a patent application for an all-encompassing home automation system that promises to turn your home into a subconscious extension of yourself. Imagine your coffeemaker brewing a fresh cup in the morning, the clothes washer spinning into life, and your television tuned to your favorite news channel simply by opening an app on your iOS or Android device, and even before you get out of bed! And yes, Apple plans to accommodate Android, other non-Apple devices, third-party app developers and several partnered corporations. (more…)

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

GoSun portable solar stove


gosun solar portable stove

Looking for a compact alternative to that cumbersome old school grill? Hate the thought of starting a major forest fire on your family camping trip because you tried to torch a veggieburger on your vintage hibachi? You may want to switch your off-grid cooking endeavors from fire-based, to solar-based. (more…)

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Gidgi solar charging smartphone case – a green Kickstarter project


gidgi smartphone solar charger

Why not tap into solar energy to keep your ravenous iPhone charged at all times? Smartphones are constantly in use, guzzling energy and demanding more juice. Many companies have tried and few (if any) have succeeded, in creating a one-size-fits-all solar charging case for the ubiquitous smartphone.

gidgi solar charging phone case

A little Minneapolis start-up, Solar Surge, has designed a solution, a versatile smartphone solar charging case – the Gidgi – that can accommodate a wide variety smartphones – keeping your phone charged via free solar energy – indoors or out. The idea of a group of young college grads who are seeking crowdfunding via their recently launched Kickstarter project.

iphone gidgi solar charger

The Gidgi features a case made out of durable, good looking components that are intended to have a long lifespan. The life cycle of the Gidgi is further extended by its ability to charge (more…)

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Kickstarter Project: ProGo propane powered motor scooter


progo 3000 propane powered scooter

Have a short commute? Like to zip around city streets and sidewalks like a motorized 10-year old? Zev Charles Ellenberg and his company, ProGo Recreation, are trying to revitalize the motorized scooter market by going green. The ProGo 3000 propane-powered scooter has an on-going Kickstarter project with the modest goal of raising $18,000 for the production and marketing of their low-emissions scooter. Propane’s high octane and low-carbon and oil-contamination characteristics have resulted in greater engine life and significantly lower carbon emissions than conventional gasoline engines.

progo folded

The small, 16.4 oz., propane canister used to power the ProGo 3000 is readily available and easy to change. You can even pack an extra canister in your backpack to insure you don’t run out of fuel while you’re bopping around campus or running errands. Unlike electric scooters that need to be recharged for up to 4 to 8 hours to provide an hour or so of ride time – a single propane canister is estimated to keep you zipping around for 2 to 3 hours at speeds up to 20mph – without the smell, mess and emissions associated with a similar gasoline powered engine. progo engine and tank

Some features:

  • EPA AND CAPB Approved / California Legal
  • Easy pull start
  • 25cc 4 stroke propane engine
  • Lightweight, durable steel frame
  • 20 mph top speed – 2-3 hours run time per 16.4oz propane canister
  • Folds for convenient carrying and storage
  • No Choke, no priming, and no carburetor gum-up, no need for winterizing

Propane pluses:
Utilizing propane as a vehicle fuel source instead of gasoline reduces U.S. dependence on foreign oil and increases energy security.  Propane’s fuel mixture is completely gaseous and doesn’t suffer from the cold start problems associated with liquid fuel. Propane is nontoxic, nonpoisonous, and insoluble in water. Compared with vehicles fueled by conventional diesel and gasoline, propane vehicles can produce lower amounts of many harmful air pollutants and greenhouse gases, depending on vehicle type, drive cycle, and engine calibration. source: The Alternative Fuels Data Center

The GoPro 3000 will retail for around $449 when it ships in October, 2014. If you pledge $399 you can get one at a reduced price.

Check out the ProGo Kickstarter project which runs through August 24th.

related: more alternative scooters featured on The Alternative Consumer

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

keeping it clean: 3 free recycling apps for iPhone


recycling bin and hands

Before you throw those batteries in your everyday trash (next step the landfill) maybe you should consult your smartphone. Our society creates a lot of junk and recycling all that stuff can be a challenge for many people, particularly if they live in a building or community that doesn’t have separate bins and a regular recycling program. Additionally, there are always items like batteries, CFL light bulbs and large electronics that your typical municipal recycling program won’t take.

Here are 3 apps available for Apple devices that may help you get your unwanted items and clutter to a more eco-friendly destination than your local landfill.

  • iRecycle by Earth911

irecycle appThe iRecycle app has been featured as the iTunes “App of the Week” more than 5 times – a testament to its popularity and effectiveness. The app makes finding local, convenient recycling opportunities a breeze, whether you’re at home on the road. iRecycle provides access to more than 1,600,000 ways to recycle over 350 materials.

iRecycle can tell you how, where and when to recycle just about anything. The app uses your current location, ZIP code, address or city, to get access to the vital details of collection points, such as website, phone number, directions, hours of operation and other materials collected.

  • 1800Recycling.com

The recently updated 1800Recycling.com app helps you quickly find recycling locations nearest you. The app finds you convenient drop-off locations and 1800recycling appenables you to organize your recyclables quickly and effectively. You can also share and rate your recycling experiences to help others recycle better. The app covers the entire U.S. and parts of Canada.

Features:

  • Easily find recycle centers by searching for whole groups of materials, or find specialized recyclers for specific materials.
  • Find nearby recycling locations using GPS, or search at a specific location.
  • In-app interactive maps and web browser.
  • Sort results by relevance, distance, or name.
  • Call recycling locations directly in-app.

The app also allows you to get social and share your recycling locations with others via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, or text and works with 1800Recycling.com to search and update info on more than 135,000 locations. (more…)

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