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Friday, November 14, 2014

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eco-fashion friday finds – the top five


organic cotton over the knee sox

Kicking off today’s little collection of eco fashion faves … (above) Organic sock company, Zkano, based in Fort Payne, Alabama makes adorable, top quality goods that will make you happy and warm your toes. Rose Over the Knee comes in solid black or grey. ($20) at family-owned abesmarket.com

cool beanie

(above) Cool beanies … Hats and beanies are a must in frigid temps, but it’s hard to find really cute ones. The Snowflake Eternity beanie is a no brainer … has coordinating scarf and fingerless gloves, snagged separately. Fabric is a blend of 93% Recycled Polyester and 7% Spandex for stretchability. Use your head and live sustainably, ($20) @ threadsforthought.com

vegan belt, zombie

(above) Love the name, love the look: Zombie Belt by Truth. Vegan, choice of 2 colors ($60) @ veganchic.com (more…)

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

eco-business: can it drag us out of these dark times?


green conservation

We are living in dark, smog-filled times. In LA you’ll struggle to see the Hollywood sign through the pollution. A smog mask fashion show was recently held in China – to protect your lungs in style. Crop yields in India have been cut in half because of the toxic air.

These stories pollute the world every day – and they’re growing more frequent. And, if political activist and eco warrior Naomi Klein is to be believed, these times are only set to get darker.

Capitalism, according to Klein’s book This Changes Everything, is pushing the world’s eco systems into a perpetual state of decline. Businesses, trapped in a stalemate between commerce and ethics, simply refuse to cut their carbon footprint in any meaningful way.

They are, however, waking up to the fact that their actions have consequences. Major brands such as DuPont, Asda, B&Q and Tesco have all made commitments to cut carbon by a sizeable sum, although purely because it will save them cash. Indeed, consumers themselves are demanding better from companies. You simply need to turn on the telly to see ads proclaiming all-natural produce, organic goods and friendly to Mother Nature.

How accurate these claims are is open to dispute with most brands, but it does prove one thing – being eco-friendly makes business sense. These dark, smog-filled times might still surround you, but that doesn’t mean your business has to be a part of them. If you want to improve your PR with customers, try these tips.

eco lightbulbLower that footprint
Despite their indisputable improvements, renewable energy still has a long way to go before it can usurp fossil fuels. Before that time comes, improve your gas connections to allow it to flow more effectively.

Some gas companies even keep the environment specifically in mind, ensuring soil purification after pipes have been fitted and offsetting the damage done by planting trees and improving the state of the environment.

By partnering up with these companies, you can lower your carbon footprint and your bills.

Maintain your honesty
If there’s one thing a consumer hates, it’s being lied to. Remember the time you realized that Diet Coke didn’t really help you diet? Imagine that writ large, as so-called organic produce and natural ingredients follow the same factory made, smoke sputtering, carbon spreading process.

No matter what business you’re in, making good on your eco-claims is a must. Implement environmentally friendly strategies and make them transparently available to the public.

Especially for larger businesses, transparency is the only route to trust. Not only will this allow your company to push such a positive aspect of your company on consumers (and have the statistics to prove it), but it could lead to positive coverage from major green campaigners.

Ultimately, repurposing your business in the form of an eco-paradise won’t drag us out of these dark times. But it might just make the smog in your company that little bit thinner.

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HydroInfra Technologies: Neutralizing Fossil Fuel Emissions and Climate Change


hydroInfra Tech

Problem: The fossil fuels used to produce our electricity, power our cars and heat our homes inescapably emit greenhouse gases. Ipso facto:  fossil fuel use leads to climate change. This is the scientific consensus.

coal pollution

Non-renewable coal is the biggest culprit, serving as the abundant fossil fuel that drives the steam generators creating the majority of our electricity here in the United States. It is cheap, fairly easy to obtain, and the infrastructure is already in place to continue its use. All these represent tangible benefits that allow this conventional fuel to roadblock the growth of the renewable energy industry, at least to some degree.

Environmentalists, myself included, have long concluded that in order to curb climate change, we must first transition away from using fossil fuels as an energy source… and quickly.

sven erik

Clean Tech Solution: Well, founder Sven Erik and his team of scientists at HydroInfra Technologies (HIT) in Stockholm, Sweden believe to have discovered a system to free the combustion of fossil fuels from their harmful emissions. The key may surprise you: water.

Water is, quite simply, the most paramount substance on the planet as far as human beings (and life in general, for that matter) are concerned. On a molecular level, water is two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen, notated as the familiar H2O. Together, they support life, but apart, HIT envisions they will support our lifestyle.

Splitting the water molecule into its component parts is not a novel technology, however it was considered a highly energy-intensive process until now. HIT invented an efficient method of splitting the hydrogen and oxygen atoms of water in late 2012 which creates Hydro Nano Gas (HNG) in the process. Like many groundbreaking technologies, the actual process by which this is achieved is currently shared only with their partners and those who deploy and implement the HNG applications. HIT is understandably protective of this new method of generating HNG while patents are pending in Sweden and international patents are being pursued, but let us walk through what we know.

  • HIT has recently developed on-site HNG producing reactors for coal-fired power plants and diesel-powered shipping vessels to test the verified technology. The systems inject HNG and oxygen directly into the combustion processes of the different fuels. The highly combustible HNG enhances the efficiency of this process and “instantly neutralizes carbon fuel pollution emissions,” including carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide, mercury emissions and harmful particulates.
  • In coal power plant applications, HNG is also injected into smoke stacks to reduce nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide levels through a catalytic reaction. Emissions from the smoke stack already infused with HNG are forced through the HNG wet scrubber, which removes any and all remaining pollutants. Clean emissions full of oxygen and hydrogen are then ready to be released into the atmosphere. (How-HNG-works) … HIT claims that this technology is not limited to eliminating emissions from merely coal and diesel consumption, but extends to all fossil fuels.
  • HIT is working diligently to bring their technology to market, meeting with high-level government officials and industry giants in the U.S., as well as signing a joint venture abroad to install an HNG trial system on an Italian shipping vessel. The interest garnered by Sven Erik and HIT is real.

I’ll say what you’re probably thinking: This technology seems too good to be true. How can greenhouse gases possibly vanish into thin air?

But the validated technology is on display here. As you can see, greenhouse gases and all other harmful pollutants are neutralized from fossil fuel emissions. Further independent testing validated the results of the HNG system and the technology is supported by the work of Professor Yuan Tse Lee, winner of the Nobel Prize in 1986.

hydro nano gasThe science behind Hydro Nano Gas systems from HydroInfra Technologies is solid, and Sven Erik is determined to supply electric power plants, shipping vessels and other industries around the world with the ability to neutralize carbon fuel emissions. Widespread implementation of HNG systems has the potential to dramatically reduce fossil fuel emissions, denying the climate change engine of its fuel – greenhouse gases.

HIT is a Swedish public company preparing to list on the stock market in 2015.

related: more alternative energy related info on alternative consumer

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The Power of Steam: 4 Household Chores you Can Do with a Steam Cleaner


Many homeowners who like to keep their home nicely clean and presentable already know how versatile and useful a steam cleaner can be.

A steam cleaner can keep your sofa and fabrics in a clean and healthy condition but there is more strings to its bow than that. If you have a good quality steam cleaner like the ones you can get from a leading brand like karcher, there are many household chores it can turn its hand to.

green home

Defrost your freezer
Not many people think that they can use their steam cleaner to defrost their freezer, but it actually gets the job done very efficiently.
A common cause of damage to a freezer is when people get a bit over-enthusiastic with the scraper when trying to chop or hack away the pieces of ice that have formed at the back of the freezer.

The heat that your steamer generates is able to defrost the ice very efficiently and without the prospect of causing the same damage as can be done with a sharp implement in your hand. The good news is that the steam also helps to sanitize the freezer at the same time, so using your steam cleaner to defrost your freezer is a win-win situation. Make sure that the freezer is switched off and unplugged before carrying out this task.

Window cleaning
Having nice streak-free clean windows is always the aim for many house-proud homeowners, but such a simple job often turns out to be a bit fiddly when you use a cloth and a window cleaning fluid.

A steam cleaner can help you get a clean streak-free finish each and every time. Simply work from top to bottom methodically and use the window-cleaning attachment, if one was supplied when you bought the steam cleaner.

Curtain makeover
Getting your curtains down to take them to the dry cleaners is a job that many of us put off because it can be a lot of hassle and time-consuming.
Use your steam cleaner to give your curtains a new lease of life and have them smelling fresh and clean, without having to take them down. Do check the care label for cleaning instructions, but you should be able to steam them and freshen them up in no time at all.

Keeping bed bugs away
Your steam cleaner is also great for sanitizing your mattress. The high temperature it generates is very successful in killing any dust mites that have worked out what a good your place your mattress is for them.

It also makes sense to make steam cleaning your mattress a regular event if you suffer from allergies. Do the job first thing in the morning, so that your bed is clean, fresh and dry ready for the night time.

There are plenty of regular household chores that become a bit easier than before when you use your steam cleaner to get them done.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Please Pass the Gravy: an Easy Vegetarian Mushroom Gravy for Dressing Your Holiday Meal


veggie mushroom gravy

Our family holiday table isn’t about the green beans, the bread rolls, the baked yams or even the turkey that gets passed around the most; it’s the gravy. In fact, we pretty much pour that rich sauce on everything. But – is gravy an environmental friend or foe?

Typically, if you’re going to cook a turkey you can just save the drippings, thicken them with a bit of flour, add some stock and call it done. There are also many instant options on the market. If you are already consuming the meat it is good to not waste the dippings. Stock is usually made with water, vegetables and meat scraps like the bones which are also good to not waste.

So, if you have already bought the meat products it isn’t any worse and is in fact better that you put all of it to use. Simple processing means that manufacturing costs are low and because stock doesn’t need to be refrigerated during transport this cuts down on emissions. The instant stuff is more processed but not excessively so, it too, has low transportation costs. It’s looking good for gravy, as a product made from sources that are not mono-purpose enjoying some gravy on your vegetables at the Thanksgiving table is not a horrible from the ecological perspective. But as always you can make gravy more environmentally friendly by making it yourself. But meats do have a heavy impact on our carbon footprint and water waste. Remember that more than 50 percent of our water footprint goes into the food we eat. So if you’re taking turkey off the menu this holiday season and opting for all veggies why not switch up your gravy choice too.

gravy ingredients

Mushroom gravy is a tasty option to its meat-based counterpart, as long as you like mushrooms that is. If you don’t, you can always switch them out for your own favorite vegetable or don’t include any veggie at all. (more…)

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Check Out this Sustainably-Built Mega Oasis in Cairo


Gate Residence overhead

This incredible green-complex designed by Vincent Callebaut Architectures in Paris is just that: absolutely incredible. Lead “archibiotect” Vincent Callebaut from Belgium is behind many of the most environmentally friendly designs recently commissioned around the world, integrating sustainable building techniques in diverse locales from South Korea to Morocco. He was recently commissioned by Abraj Misr Real Estate in Egypt to build this “iconic sustainable building that would express the future of the city” of Cairo. Creating a signifying, monumental building that represents the role of green architecture in the fight against climate change is a top priority of both the designer and the client. Seems like a rare motivation to us Yankees, right? Well, soak it in.

Gate Residence front

To term this structure a “building” is a vast understatement. The design commands 450,000 square meters, or slightly over 100 American football fields -  imagine 50 average city blocks. It is quite an ambitious design. From Vincent.Callebaut.org: The building, dubbed “The Gate Residence,” is more of an eco-complex, merging the residential and the commercial under a cutting-edge green-roof.

Gate Residence Cairo

One thousand apartments sprawl across the top nine housing levels in The Gate Residence, sitting atop three commercial levels, a supermarket level, and four underground levels for parking. Also integrated into the complex are 3 levels of offices to line the main street that traverses the entire structure. Sky footpaths, green walls and suspended garden balconies are eloquently arranged between (more…)

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Monday, November 10, 2014

The Do’s and Don’ts of a Green Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving leftovers

So you’re planning your Thanksgiving holiday – deciding what you’re doing, where you will be going and what you will eat. But here’s something else we should also be thinking about – how we can reduce our carbon footprint and environmental impact this Thanksgiving season. It’s hard to see how we can make a holiday sometimes identified with glutton and excess less wasteful, but we can. We just have to think a little outside of the box and see where we can make some changes or cut back; here are some simple do’s and don’ts.

  • How to travel: If you have to travel this thanksgiving, you can reduce your carbon emissions by changing how you travel. Do carpool together with other family members when you’re all going to the same place. Eco-friendly carAnd if you have to travel do travel by train when possible. Don’t have everyone drive separately unless unavoidable and try to avoid flying or commuting long distances in multiple vehicles.
  • How to decorate: Thanksgiving is autumn themed so when decorating you can simply bring some autumn into your home. Do use natural products like pumpkins, gourds, wheat, leaves, corn and mums. Decorating your table with produce you can cook and enjoy later is both functional as well as tasty. Fall leaves gathered from the yard or sidewalk can be arranged on the table and under plates to make a colorful statement. Best part is these items are all plant-based so they are compostable at the end or, in the case of the produce, can be consumed. Don’t spend money on mass produced decorations that you toss out each year.

veggie t-day

  • What to do about food: What you decided to enjoy for your Thanksgiving meal will have the most environmental impact. Do opt for a vegetarian or vegan Thanksgiving, removing the turkey all together. As we know, produce has far less environmental impact then meat. When buying your produce do buy locally grown or from farmers’ markets so your food isn’t being transported vast distances. And when you do go shopping do take your reusable bags with you.  If you have to have a turkey do get a heritage bird or an organic one. But be careful of imposters and remember that “free range” does not mean animals happily roaming throughout vast hills. Another do is to use all those leftovers in things like Thanksgiving leftover sandwiches; never toss good food out. Don’t over buy when at the grocery store and don’t cook too much. If you do end up with more leftovers then you can handle give it to a family member, coworker, friend or neighbor who you know will appreciate it.
  • How to set your table: This is where making a greener effort is less obvious. Do use what you already have. Don’t buy disposable plates and utensils; these use once and discard often plastic products are not good for the environment. There is no reason to go out and buy disposable plates with fall leaves on them when you have dishware at home. If you’re worried that you won’t have enough plates for everyone let your visiting family know to bring some and you’ll be covered. If you have to buy disposable do not buy plastic or Styrofoam products as these are the worst. Stick with paper (Marcal Small Steps) or look for compostable dinnerware and those made from recycled materials. Tip: for more upscale designer-like dinnerware options, we like Bambu, Birchware and VerTerra as earth-conscious choices. You can find them on Amazon.

With these simple tips anyone can have themselves a green-Thanksgiving. After all, our personal health and the earth we live on are perhaps the biggest things to be thankful for this season.
photo credit: (vegetarian thanksgiving) ohmyveggies.com/

related: more healthy eating articles on AlternativeConsumer

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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Ideas to Renovate Your Backyard


wicker furniture

Believe it or not, winter is the best time to buy furniture and gardening supplies in preparation for spring and summer time. Prices are low, and you can buy in bulk and store your supplies until it’s time to work. That also gives you plenty of time to go through your plans to renovate the space. Outdoor wicker patio furniture will bring a modern look to your yard, but you can add other DIY projects yourself to spruce things up.

Furniture Sets
Every back yard needs a well-designed space to relax. Patio furniture comes in many varieties, but some are more resilient than others. Without a doubt, metal is the cheapest of materials to purchase but it also rusts and needs replacing on a fairly regular basis. Wicker patio chairs are the best materials you can use. The frames are light and rust proof, and the colors rarely fade.

Build a Sunroom
Another idea is to construct a sunroom around your home. Most people have a concrete slab in their backyard. You need to build a frame, and you’ll need some full-body windows to let the sun in, but a sunroom can be an excellent space to relax at the end of your busy week. You should keep in mind that a sunroom needs ventilation, so install a ceiling fan or sliding glass window to help mitigate some of the heat that will build up.

Outside, you can construct a fire pit for yourself out of free-standing bricks, in colors of your choosing. Most of these are weekend projects too, perfect for the working professional with a DIY sensibility.

Bio: Wicker Paradise is the Web’s one-stop shop for outdoor wicker furniture, including sectionals and the new Savannah line available now.

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