On Monday I became a bike commuter for the very first time, and I can’t say that I was perfectly prepared for it. First, I don’t have anything resembling a roadside repair kit to fix problems with tires or chains on my 10-mile trip to work. I also had never ridden the route I took to work Monday before actually taking it to work. Sue me. I discovered a far superior route option the day before my maiden bike commute and I had to take it. The photo at the top of this post was my original route. It’s also not a very bike-friendly road. Four lanes of traffic, about half of which is log trucks or other tractor-trailers.
Cogeneration system at Camp Ederle in Vicenza, Italy. Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/europedistrict/3426323346/
I want to introduce you all to a relatively new technology in the green world. For years now around military bases and other government facilities in the United States, you can see silver pipes running around the facilities. If you were the curious sort and asked the right people, you’d have found out they are steam pipes to carry heating to the different buildings in the facilities. The appropriate term for this kind of technology is cogeneration. Basically, rather than just attempting to heat a building, the fuel is taken and burned to generate electricity first, and then the leftover heat from that process is used to heat buildings instead. The further north you go, the more profitable the exercise becomes. These systems tended to be very large-scale to justify their existence and also tended to be limited to very large institutions. Read more…
Here at The Greenists we’ve been trying to come up with one thing, just one perfect thing, one big important-yet-elegantly-simple thing to ask our readers to do on Earth Day, for Earth Day. Which is Friday. Tomorrow. Well I thought of my thing, and I don’t think it needs to wait until tomorrow. Or maybe I just don’t like to give away post ideas.
Here’s my one big Earth Day request: Use less.
Okay, okay… You’re right: That’s kind of something we hammer home in one fashion or another nearly every day here, or if we don’t it’s because it seems so fundamental as to no longer be worth mentioning. Besides, if The Greenists is already part of your daily internet time-wasting you not only don’t need to be told this, but you have the phrase “Use less” or some variation tattooed somewhere it can be easily viewed by the rest of the hippies in your drum circle. Or at least on the bumper of your microbus. Read more…
Fellow Greenists, it’s time to blow the dust off of those old games that have been stashed on the top shelf of your closet for way too long! Let’s talk about Family Game Night – a fun and [almost] free way of building strength within your family. Not only does it naturally reap health benefits for people of all ages (especially children, which I will focus on in this post), but it is also a simple way to be green and cut your energy usage. It’s really easy to get started . . . Read more…
I hate to admit it, but vacations are the least green thing I do every year. The reason I hate to admit it is that I absolutely love travelling. I live for it. My choice of career was in large part driven by my desire to travel, but I can’t deny that wandering long distances in a car isn’t the greenest use of my resources. It doesn’t matter that I bought a Prius to ease my guilt (and to be able to afford the trips). That’s a lot of gas that I wouldn’t be using if I’d stayed at home.
Then again, the very idea of a staycation, taking off work to do vacation type things near where I live, is just depressing. Not only is my wanderlust too clever to be fooled with that tactic, I live too far from even a medium-sized population center to make that even remotely interesting. If you’re like me and you’ve got the travel bug but you want to find a way to ease your environmental footprint in your travels this summer, why not try volunteering on one of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s trail crews? Read more…
Earth Hour will take place at 8:30 p.m. (your local time) this Saturday, March 26! All you have to do is turn off the lights and unplug as many appliances as you can for one hour. In 2010, a record 128 countries and territories participated, and the lights on some of the world’s most famous landmarks were turned off, including the Eiffel Tower, the Acropolis, the Las Vegas Strip, the Coliseum, and the Empire State Building.
What will you do to entertain yourself for an hour while the lights are off?
Please welcome today’s guest poster, Krista Peterson.
While it would be ideal if we could all immediately switch to renewable energy sources in our homes, for many of us it is simply not realistic at the present time. Solar panels and wind generators remain expensive and bulky, and while new structures can be built to accommodate these power sources, they are often difficult to retrofit into older homes. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t all be responsible consumers of electricity.
The biggest difference you can make in terms of home energy use is in the area of heating and cooling. The EPA estimates that anywhere between 43% and 60% of the monthly energy bill for inhabited buildings goes toward heating and cooling the air. Your particular energy bill will depend on factors such as climate and building design, but no matter whether you live in a McMansion in North Dakota or a bungalow in Key West, all homes can benefit from improved insulation. Read more…
Have you heard the rumor that dryer sheets can repel mice? Mosquitoes? Even bees?
Although the evidence of this rumor is shaky at best, it seems like a good idea to question an item claiming to have the ability to repel animals, especially if that item is used on clothing and, as such, leaves chemicals behind that are in prolonged contact with your skin.
But what would you use if you didn’t use dryer sheets?
Nellie’s Dryerballs are reusable plastic balls that are added to the dryer in lieu of dryer sheets. They claim to: soften fabric naturally, reduce drying time, have no chemicals, reduce lint and wrinkles, and reduce ironing.
I purchased mine in conjunction with a pair of reusable dryer sheets last November and haven’t looked back!
Coming from a multiple pet household, our family seems to have a never ending pile of towels, dog beds, and comforters in need of washing. Even with our new dryer that is meant to ‘sense’ when laundry is dry, these bulky items would often dry on the outside but would still be wet in the inner folds. Not anymore! The dryerballs do succeed in reducing drying time, but more important in my book, they almost always prevent the problem of sheets or towels wrapping around themselves- making items not only dry faster but also more completely! In that sense, I believe the items are also less wrinkled and in less need of ironing if removed from the dryer right away. Unfortunately, I am the person who forgets anything is in the dryer and is surprised to find it a couple days later when I go to dry my next load- so wrinkles are something I’m used to living with.
As for the other claims, I’ve never had an issue with fabrics not feeling soft enough, and I didn’t notice a difference when we switched to dryerballs. However, even with the reusable dryer sheets, static cling was slightly more noticeable in loads with troublesome fabrics- i.e. my husband’s wool socks. We’ve always had trouble with these items, though, and the addition of the dryer sheets did help. I’ve also found the dryerballs work best with full loads of laundry- but we’re all doing that anyway, right? But if you do try to use them in small loads, they can make quite a ruckus as they bounce around in a less-than-full-dryer.
Want to give your own dryerballs a try?
Well, the gracious people at Nellie’s All Natural are offering a free giveaway of Nellie’s Dryerballs. Just ‘like’ Nellies All Natural on facebook and return here to leave a comment telling us you did so. A winner will be picked by random number generator and posted on Tuesday, March 8th.
One last word of caution: if your husband is as childish as mine, he will snicker ever time you say “dryerballs.” You’ve been warned.
Energy independence has long been a necessity, not an eco-lifestyle choice, for many communities scattered across the continental U.S. Frontiers are what have made America the country it is today, and for many Americans, living on that boundless margin is what defines the American way of life. But just because you’re living the life of the frontiers doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t enjoy the civilized benefits of a fully electrified lifestyle. That’s why harnessing the winds has been a preoccupation of many Americans for decades, well before sustainable energy started looming on the horizon.
For those living off-grid, the solution to a smoothly corralled voltage came courtesy of a solid chunk of lead batteries — once a little imagination got together with the automobile battery and the windmill. That long history of wind power makes the old idea, that wind power can never amount to a serious energy alternative, somewhat toothless. The wind may be fickle, but the steady harnessing of it for the homestead is, in fact, old news.
However, the advantages of getting a little wind in your life is now real big news, for those wanting to reduce their impact on the world around them. With the conscientious casting around for ways to cut back on their carbon emissions, home-generated wind power offers a comparatively simple way to jump-start the process. And unlike solar power, you don’t have to live under a Californian sun to get your own renewable revolution kick-started. Read more…
Lithium-ion batteries are becoming something of a status symbol for the new eco-cool consumer. After all, it is those handy slices of lithium that lie at the heart of the much sought-after Tesla Roadster. The Roadster is the first production-ready electric sports car, and it has formerly avowed petrol-heads falling over themselves in their use of superlatives to describe its performance. This innovative piece of road technology has also helped focus those concerned with future of electric motoring on the potential of lithium-ion batteries. Could this battery technology, which also lies at the heart of the cell phone and the laptop, actually become a turning-point technology for tackling global warming? Read more…
According toReal 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.