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Wednesday, August 27, 2014


The Virtual Water Dilemma: Act One – Food

fresh water with bubbles

What is virtual water?
In times of drought people try their best to not let the faucet run, take a shorter shower and water the gardens less. But these are all activities during which we can see how much water we are wasting, making saving it simpler; we just don’t use as much. But what most people don’t think about is virtual water. Virtual water is a term for all the water that goes into making an end product.

Perhaps the most common source of virtual water in our daily lives is the food we choose to eat. In fact more than 50 percent of our water footprint is derived by the food we consume. From growing, to transport, to processing and distributing all the food we eat comes to us at some virtual water cost. Even a simple task like deciding whether or not we want cheese on our hamburger can have an impact. After all it takes 700 gallons to make one pound of cheese.

cows look into camera

The cheeseburger 
Let’s break down that cheeseburger. For the bun – top and bottom – we’re looking at 22 gallons of water. Our meat patty is 616 gallons and if we want cheese on it we need to tack on an extra 56. If we’re feeling healthy and we want the veggies, lettuce costs 1.5 and tomato costs 3. But what is any burger without some fries, so that will be another 6. In the end the entire combo takes about 700 gallons to make. But why is it so water costly to make one cheeseburger? Because of all the other things that require water to put that burger on your tray. Plants and animals don’t just grow up overnight and from nothing. Plants have to be watered from seed to harvest. And animals need to be fed food that is first grown and then the animal itself consumes H2O. Keep in mind that the gallons needed may vary based on region, processing and treatment of the livestock.

water in fruit_1

The switch up
Knowing about the virtual water that goes into a product is the first step to making water-wise choices. There is no way to eliminate virtual water consumption all together but we can make eating choices that help lessen the blow.

  • Instead of beef have chicken – beef can require a staggering 2,500 to 5,000 gallons to produce – chicken, a more modest 815 gallons.
  • 8oz of coffee will cost 29 gallons so switch it to a tea which only uses 7.
  • For a sweet treat – 1 pound of chocolate costs a 2,847 gallons vs. a mango that requires 190.
  • Cut back on the butter. Butter which comes in at 2,044 gallons is something most of us can do with much less of.

No one is saying give up eating animal products altogether but because animal products are more costly, cutting back there will have the greatest impact. Also keep in mind that not all produce is created equal – some cost more than others but as producers they may still have the lowest impact.

Fresh water with bubbles photo via

related: more food articles from The Alternative Consumer

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

American Performance Technologies: The SmartCarb

Small engine fuel delivery systems have experienced a constant evolution since the introduction of the internal combustion engine towards the end of the 19th century, with innovations such as the carburetor and the electronic fuel injection (EFI) system appearing to feed larger and more powerful engines. It’s now become common knowledge that the newest EFI systems provide the optimal blend of engine power, fuel efficiency and emissions reductions, but one good ol’ American company is working to change that.

The SmartCarb® from American Performance Technologies, based in Kansas City, Missouri, is poised to revolutionize the small engine fuel delivery system industries by turning back the clock on what is “best” for the consumer. The SmartCarb® is the culmination of 45 years of development on the classic, flat slide carburetor, featuring automatic altitude compensation, increased horsepower and significantly better fuel economy than other carburetors on the market. This device can potentially be installed on motorcycles, all terrain vehicles, portable generators and small aircraft, or perhaps conventional full-size vehicles in the future!

The most notable improvement in the APT SmartCarb® is it’s revolutionary high atomization rate of fuel (in other words, the “stream” of fuel is converted into a “mist”) which allows for a significantly higher amount of fuel to be burned in the combustion process. (more…)

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Planning a Trip to Paris? Checkout This New 2-Wheeled Trend

rental bike and Eiffel tower

Paris, the city of lights, is a world renowned tourist destination. Like many European cities it offers a wide range of transportation options. One that is particularly interesting and eco-friendly is the Velib bike rental. Instead of sitting in the traditional tour bus with a bunch of clamoring, chatting strangers, you can tour the city of light by bicycle.

The Velib program, which was launched in 2007, has had much success and been a shining example for other cities. The first 30 minutes of every checkout is free, and some of the pass options include:

  • A Velib Classic pass is 29 euros or about 39 US. And is good 24/7 for an entire year.
  • A Velib Passion pass is 39 euros or about 52 US. And is good 24/7 for an entire year and gets you the first 45 minutes free instead.
  • A 7-Day ticket is only 8 euros, about 11 US. And is good for an entire week.
  • A 1-Day ticket is 1.70 euros, about 3 US. And is good for 24 hrs.
  • Note: Depending on exchange rates these prices may change.

Velib bike share station

Bikes are rented from a collection of 1,800 docking stations which are located every 300 meters from each other, about 0 .1 mile or 984 feet.  Each station has up to 70 bike posts, where the bikes can be checked back in and re-rented. If space isn’t available a 15 minute extension is given to reach the next station. Stations are embedded all over the city and are broken up by districts. Choosing to use the bike instead of a taxi allows you to immerse yourself in city and you won’t have to worry about getting caught up in traffic. (more…)

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

DIY Eco-Friendly Leash for Your Pet – Easy, Simple and Fun!

doga and feret on leash

You are a big fan of DIY projects, so why not try something for your very best friend, your pet dog?

Quality dog accessories are expensive, and you already may have stretched the pet-stuff budget getting home quite a few of the goodies you saw at the store.

Dog leashes are one of your favorite buys, and would you not love to have some lovely leads to make evening walks with your dog easier?

Dog collars and leads are some of the simplest-to-make items for your dog, and just as essential if you have an energetic pooch who takes you for a walk rather than the other way round.

In this post we look at how you can create your own dog leads and restraints (using eco-friendly material) and give them a personalized touch.

Eco-Friendly Dyed Dog Lead
Colorful rope leashes are quite popular. They are strong and sturdy, durable and pretty to look at as well. So why not make one for your pooch instead of shopping online for one?

You can choose the color of your choice and get started. You will need a quality rope about 3 yards long and 3/8 inch thick. Go for eco-friendly recycled nylon climbing rope. There are also several companies that make ropes from donated stuff and recycled materials, so you can rest assured you will find an apt choice.

In addition to the rope you will need a natural and organic fabric dye that is safe for your pooch as well as the environment. Choose a color of choice, but if it is a dark shade like orange or black, you can dye your lead to get a perfect gradient or a dip-dyed effect.

You also need 2 rubber clamps and a snap hook. You can look for green options while purchasing these as well.

Now let’s see how you can go about making that stylish dog leash.

Step #1: Determine the Length of the Lead

  • Six feet is the standard length of dog leashes and a safe measure to go with. Measure the rope and cut it as per the length you need. Tape, melt or tie the ends so that the rope does not unravel.

Step #2: Prepare the Rope for Dyeing

  • Soak the rope in warm water for some time. This helps the rope absorb the dye better.
  • Prepare the dye as per the instructions given on the pack. You require very less quantity for this project, so use accordingly and avoid wastage.

Step #3: Dip and Dye Away!

  • Dip the whole rope in the dye and take it out immediately. You can divide the rope into three parts and get each portion dyed to a different degree.
  • Dip the portion you want to be dyed deep for a longer period in the dye. The other two portions can be dipped for different time periods according to the gradation you want.
  • For best results use eco-friendly dyes.

Step #4: Let the Colors Set on the Rope

  • Remove the rope and let it line-dry for some time. The purpose of this step is not to dry the leash but to let the dye hold fast.
  • Putting the darker end at the top allows the dye to creep down to give a lovely gradient effect to your leash.

Step #5: Rinse Thoroughly

  • The next step is to rinse the rope thoroughly in cold water, until the water runs clear. You can use a recommended fixative to help seal the colors.
  • Dye fixatives are a bit opaque when it comes to the eco-friendly part, so you can choose to forgo using them, until and unless you are sure they are certified green.

Step #6: Hook, Snap and Clamp- You Are Ready!

  • This step comes after the rope has dried completely. It may take close to a full day for the rope to dry, so give it the necessary time to air out.
  • Feed the chosen end of the rope through the snap hook and form a small loop. You can secure the free end with a pair of rubber clamps.
  • Now, move to the other end of the rope where you need to form the loop that goes over the head of your dog. Form a suitably big loop, and secure the loose ends with the rubber clamps as before. (The rule of thumb is if your dog’s head measures 20 inches you need a loop that is 10 inches wider. So 20 inches + 10 inches= 30 inches wide)
  • You can camouflage the rubber clamps with a cute DIY sleeve or covering made of a material of your choice. Yarn, twine or recycled leather covering will work fine. Google for ideas!

Reflective Dog Leash

  • A reflective dog leash will help make both you as well as your dog visible to the traffic while out for a late-evening stroll.
  • This is a really simple project and will help give a facelift to an old, but favorite leash. Leashes made from organic materials usually have an old and worn-out look, so you can use the reflective tape to jazz things up.
  • You need a reflective fabric tape approximately 2 inches longer than the leash. There are eco-friendly reflective tapes available that are made from non-toxic materials and are bio-degradable. Some come with safe self-adhesives as well for extra convenience.
  • While measuring for the length of the fabric tape required, you should also add in the hand loop of the leash. Cut out the fabric strip according to the measurements.
  • Apply a thin layer of eco-friendly glue over one side of the leash. Press the reflective fabric tape onto the surface, smooth out as you go and hold it in place firmly.
  • If there are excess fabric ends around the leash, trim them for a clean fit.

You can follow the same process for the collar also. If there are loops or buckles, you can thread in the reflective tape through them to cover the entire face of the collar.

There are plenty of DIY projects that you can try out to craft perfect accessories for your dog. The end products may not have the finish or the style of commercial products. But since you made them with all your love, they will have the personalized touch your pooch will definitely heart.

Written by: Nicola Reynor

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Friday, August 22, 2014

eco fashion friday finds – it’s still summer

upcycled boho dress

This flirty boho summer “Lucia” dress is the perfect casual bop-around for those breezy, late summer days. Handmade – the upper portion of the dress is made from an upcycled camouflaged tank and the lower part is upcycled tiered cotton – with a bold print and flowing hem. Features a knit/lace/velvet flower, and lace and button horizontal panel along back. Made in Portland by Laura Separa who specializes in creating eco-friendly upcycled clothes. $70 @ Andy Summer
organic cotton fox tshirt

Are you feeling foxy? This eco-friendly woman’s fitted tee (above) is embellished with a fox applique that’s made from up-cycled fabric and button eyes, outlined by hand with satin stitch embroidery. The t-shirt is ethically manufactured in Canada from 50% organic cotton and 50% recycled polyester by the social enterprise “Me to We Style” – features a fabulous heathered teal / green color. Definitely a hipster showstopper. $45.95 from Stitch and Spoke

bamboo sunglasses

Arrow Project has created a new line of 100% bamboo sunglasses (above) and is raising cash via crowdfunding with their recently launched Kickstarter project. The company’s “Bamboo Sunnies” – that’s Australian for sunglasses – feature frames made from renewable bamboo and fancy polarizing lenses.

Pledge $69 or more to get one of the first pair. If all goes according to plan these non-prescription shades will retail for $120 in January.

vegan cork bracelet

The band of this cute vegan bracelet (above) has been made from recycled cork. The piece is handmade and designed by a two gal outfit called Wyoming Hammered. $28

related: more eco fashion finds from

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