1. Picking Your Preferences & Poison

    Posted on October 18, 2011 by The Modern Gal

    I know Allie just mentioned her own search for the right kind of car that suited her needs, that car being a station wagon. The Modern Hubby and I are in the middle of our own search for a vehicle to replace his 15-year-old Nissan Altima that is falling apart before our eyes and has gotten far too expensive and difficult to manage. Like Allie, we’ve decided to go the station wagon route as we also have two dogs that travel frequently with us and need the cargo space for our frequent trips to Home Depot but aren’t a fan of the lack of fuel efficiency when it comes to SUVs.

    While we’re looking at some of the same cars Allie took a look at, we’ve also got the option of Toyota’s brand-new Prius V, which is basically a standard Prius with a station wagon-like cargo space on the back. And after fully investigating, we’ve discovered the Prius V is only slightly more expensive than the comparable gas options we’re looking at but with far better fuel economy, and the math works out so that we’d make back the difference in price in savings on gas in a couple of years.

    But like any green-minded sensible consumer, I’ve set out to do my research on all the cars, and I am absolutely blown away by the amount of conflicting information that’s out there. Hybrids can be great! Hybrids aren’t worth it. Hybrids help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Hybrids have a negative environmental impact because of their batteries and production. So which is it?

    Read more…

  2. Working Green While Making Green

    Posted on October 6, 2011 by Mickey

    Sadly, I’ve come to the realization through extensive experiential research that unemployment makes for a very green lifestyle. No commute, I can wear the same clothes for days on end and if it’s yellow… yep, I can just go ahead and let it mellow. Of course, all this is true if you are lucky enough to work from home, but that dream has yet to come calling.

    Still, I wasn’t complaining when I got a job recently after quite the lengthy period of, ahem, very green living. Unfortunately, my new job is a forty-five minute drive away in a different county, a trip that, while technically possible using public transportation, would probably require several bus changes on two different systems and miles of walking. I’d have to leave for work as soon is I get home from work.

    So now I’ve joined the other stop-and-go weekday warriors, spewing my greenhouse gases and burning fuel by the tank-full. And I’m earning a paycheck, a deal I was more than happy to make. But what can I do to reduce my workday footprint now that I’ve left my little green income-free utopia? Read more…

  3. Greening Up that Garage

    Posted on October 5, 2011 by Courtney

    Please welcome today’s guest poster, Jocelyn Anne.

    We often overlook one of the biggest opportunities for going green, and that lies within our very own garage. The garage, sadly, often gets forgotten altogether. We store stuff in it, park the car in it, and then generally forget all about its existence.

    As we look ahead to winter, I’d like to suggest a number of ways you can green up your garage. If you’ve no idea where to begin, here’s a simple list of items and ideas you can look over to see which changes you might be able to incorporate for yourself.  Read more…

  4. Can Google Power Your Home?

    Posted on September 28, 2011 by Courtney

    Sometimes I think we’re moving toward a world where everything is run by either Google or Apple. That doesn’t sound so terrible to me, provided both companies remain ethical, but here’s something that doesn’t dispel that thought: Google is getting into the solar panel businessRead more…

  5. E-cycling bike share program

    Posted on September 20, 2011 by The Modern Gal

    I live near the University of Tennessee, and like many college campuses, UT is one that’s very car-centric. Sure, lots of younger students live on campus in the dorms, but many others live a short drive away from school and don’t take advantage of our city’s public transit. It doesn’t help that Knoxville is nestled in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, and attempting to bike those hills (and in the Southern heat and humidity, no less) often does not make for a fun outcome.

    But like any great college campus, UT is doing its part to change the culture and integrate more green practices into everyday campus life. Currently the university is testing out a first-of-its-kind electric bike sharing program that I think has real potential to catch on. The program is somewhat similar to bike-rental programs in large cities, but instead of just renting a bike, a student uses their college ID to check out an electrically charged battery from an automated system that plugs into the bike. The bike works like a regular bike requiring the rider to pedal, but the electric charge kicks in to power a small motor when pedaling gets more difficult, say when you’re riding one of the massive hills on campus.

    Read more…

  6. Can We Produce Fuel in Our Own Back Yards?

    Posted on September 7, 2011 by Courtney

    Please welcome today’s guest poster, Jamison.

    Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/aidg/2168751427/lightbox/

    Let me tell you a very odd story from our friends in China. China was having a problem in their poor farmland areas. They were losing massive amounts of forests and decided they had to take some sort of corrective action. So they decided to reintroduce biodigester technology – the process of converting organic waste into renewable sources of energy — to the countryside. They built a design that cost about $450 and started installing them for farmers. A third of that cost was covered with government subsidies.

    The farmers were expected to provide the labor (digging the hole for the system) for the project, but basically it’s a large underground tank, a bit larger than the average American septic tank. As waste from humans and livestock flows into the tank, it breaks down and produces methane, as all organic waste does, and these biodigesters make it possible to produce more than enough biogas to run their households without need of additional fuels.

    The effects have been staggering — most farmers who have the systems have managed to move their incomes from below the poverty line to incomes two or three times above it. Women have been freed up from the painful task of hunting for firewood. The forests around the farming villages have started to replenish themselves. The farmers have the byproduct of the biogas, which is a very effective fertilizer that can then be used to help improve their plant growth to increase their yields.  Read more…

  7. Edison’s Light Bulb: Like Lawn Darts, Only Rounder

    Posted on July 14, 2011 by Mickey

    This past Tuesday, you may have heard that the US House of Representatives voted to uphold new standards for light bulb efficiency, set to be enacted next year. If by chance you didn’t, it’s probably because you’re too busy running around town stockpiling every last incandescent bulb you can find before the government sticks it’s nose in your business once again to tell you what you can and can’t buy. You’ll probably store them next to the lawn darts on a shelf above your extra barrels of DDT. Read more…

  8. The Biggest Energy Hog in Your Home: The Cable Box?!

    Posted on June 27, 2011 by Courtney

    Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sirmikester/4497065770/

    Here’s one simple green upgrade I’ve made in my lifestyle: A few months ago, I started turning off the power strip that connects my TV, DVD player, video game console, and satellite receiver before going to bed every night. It’s a super easy thing to do, and the only (very slight) drawback is I have to wait about three minutes for the satellite receiver to fully power up the next time I want to watch TV. If you have cable, that probably wouldn’t even be an issue.

    Now, you may be thinking: But the stuff in my entertainment center isn’t sucking energy when it’s turned off, right? Wrong! Electronic equipment continues to use power as long as it’s plugged into an outlet. You may hear or see this referred to as “vampire power,” and a good way to keep it at bay is to use power strips for everything you plug in, then turn off the strip when you’re not using that thing. It didn’t take me long to figure that out after my satellite receiver was installed — I only had to put my hand near it to realize it was hot when it was on. Really hot. Like, can’t-touch-it-for-more-than-a-couple-seconds hot. I can feel the heat radiating outside the wooden entertainment unit that houses it. Anything that generates that much heat has to be sucking massive amounts of energy.  Read more…

  9. 4 Easy Tips For Being Greener This Summer

    Posted on June 15, 2011 by Courtney

    Please welcome today’s guest poster, Cooper Elling.

    It’s summertime, thank goodness. It was a long winter for me personally, and I feel the summer is a time to make some decisions that are much more eco-friendly. Take a look at some of these tips for everyday occurrences where you can make the right call and feel good about it!  Read more…

  10. The Most Environmentally Friendly Modes of Transportation

    Posted on June 6, 2011 by Courtney

    Please welcome today’s guest poster, Brady Daniels.

    It requires a great deal of energy, namely fossil fuels, to power the world’s modes of transportation. Most of us realize that the pollution created by our vehicles damage the environment and cause health problems. Promising new technologies may be the cure, but for now, the world’s population can help out by using the most environmentally-friendly modes of transportation available.  Read more…

Tip of the Day

If It Doesn’t Smell, Don’t Wash It


According to Real Simple, if every American made an effort to launder less — cutting out just one load of laundry a week per household — we’d save enough water to fill seven million swimming pools each year.

So if it looks clean, and it smells clean, call it clean and wear it again. Consider hanging worn clothes out on your clothesline to freshen them up between wearings.

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