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March 2010

03/31/2010

Green Weddings

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87700147[1] By Lauren Bjerk
 
The idea of the ideal wedding is many things to many different people, but generally speaking, that special day is synonymous with elegance and grandeur. One thing it's not usually attached to is the term bio-degradable.
However, the trend of green weddings is a growing phenomenon and one that doesn't necessarily mean compromising the bride's childhood dreams. While online there are an abundance of resources and companies that will help you celebrate without leaving a footprint, three simple rules, according to greatgreenwedding.com are the basis of staying true to the Earth on your wedding day.
 

1. Do no harm. This can be as simple as avoiding the Styrofoam plate section of the super market, to switching the menu to a vegetarian/vegan feast. And while it may be tough for the Mrs.-to-be to trade in her fairy tale dress for an Earth-friendly hemp gown, she can rest assured that there are companies with a variety of wedding gowns with more traditional textures, including hemp satin. 
 
2. Patronize Earth Friendly Vendors. While making that grand exit as husband and wife for the first time, forget the bubbles and substitute them with natural flower petals for you guest to throw. Additionally, when handing out favors, take a cue from nature and provide your guests with pesticide-free mini bouquets or packets of seeds to enrich their garden. 
 
3. Reuse, Recycle. If you're still not sold on the hemp gown idea just yet, then maybe consider searching for that adorable vintage dress at a thrift store. And while you're out, pick up recycled paper for your invitations, programs and save-the-dates. Once the ceremony is over, you can still continue your green effort (and charitable effort too) by donating the left over food to a homeless shelter, and the rest of your flowers to a local hospital.  
 
Click here for more environmental articles from Road & Travel Magazine.

03/30/2010

GoodSearch: The Charitable Search Engine

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By Lauren Bjerk

GoodSeachHomepage When something seems too good to be true, odds are, it probably is. However that doesn't seem to be the case the with search engine, GoodSearch.

As an alternative to the traditional Web sites like Google and Bing, the Yahoo-powered GoodSearch has one important quality that separates it from the pack - it's the only charitable one.

Every time someone searches something on GoodSearch, they are asked what charity they'd like GoodSearch to donate to. The person selects their charity of choice and then goes about their way. It's that easy. The site as a whole donates about 50% of it's entire revenue to its listed charitable institutions, which equates to about a penny per search.

The money comes from their advertisers, and as of January 2010, more than 86,000 non-profits were participating in the program, including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, who reportedly has earned $31,000 from GoodSearch.

With such favorable characteristics and the same search engine capability, it begs the question, why wouldn't you use GoodSearch?

Click here for more environmental articles from Road & Travel Magazine.

03/29/2010

Climate Culture Calculations

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87461374[2] By Lauren Bjerk

It's easy to make a list of the things you should do to stay eco-friendly. We know we should bike, as opposed to drive and carry reusable bags as opposed to plastic, but some people may be deterred from the concept of living green due to it sounding too costly and time consuming.

Face it, biking to work will definitely make you set your alarm a little earlier, and for what? To reduce your personal carbon footprint? That's all well and good, but in an egocentric society, living green can sometimes take a back seat to what is easiest on the living person. However, thanks to Treehugger.com's Climate Culture Calculator, the average eco-friendly person can see just how much these lifestyle changes can effect a different aspect of their lives - their wallet.

Here are few simple changes you can make, that will end up saving you green in more ways than one.

- Biking to work. Lets say you drive your car to work 5 days a week. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the average commute is about 15 miles one way. Assuming that you go to work 46 weeks per year and don't mind a nice morning work out, you'll be saving not only 4,694 lbs per year in CO2 emissions, but you'll also save yourself almost $500 a year.

- Driving slower. So maybe your commute takes a little more than a quick jaunt on your Schwinn, fear not, there is another way to simultaneously save the world and some dough. By reducing your speed from 70 mph on the free way to 65 mph, you can save about 447 lbs per year of CO2 emissions, and keep $47 a year in your pocket as well.

- Using an electric lawnmower. On a smaller scale, but still a positive change, going electric is an easy way to get rid of that annoying, smokey air. If you mow your lawn twice a month for an hour, seven months out of the year, you'll save 24 lbs per year in CO2 emissions and $5 a year. It may not seem like a lot, but it's still a progressive step to a greener, and less expensive, lifestyle.

Click here for more environmental articles from Road & Travel Magazine.

03/23/2010

Film Review: Earth 2100

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Earth-2100

By Erin Marquis

Could civilization end in less than a century? That’s what the two hour special: Earth 2100 supposes. This special was produced for ABC, but eventually purchased by the History Channel. We follow the life of Lucy, a woman who is born in 2010 who survives the floods, famine and diseases that come with extreme climate change.  Things get progressively worse for the planet, eventually leading to total collapse.


What Earth 2100 does right is that it doesn’t just tell us cold hard facts about some distant future. Instead, we really get to see the world where our children and grandchildren will be living in. The emotional connection the audience fosters with Lucy and her family makes the journey from normality to devastation even more gripping.  Newscasts from the future chime in periodically to tell us what’s happening on a global scale. The element that has the most impact throughout the show is the population counter, which rises to nine billion and then sharply falls to a mere three billion as calamity after calamity befalls humanity.

Earth 2100 is a chilling glimpse into the future, where everything has gone completely wrong for humanity. However, all is not loss. Once Lucy and her family are struggling to make it through a new Dark Age, the show goes back and shows what needed to be done to prevent this calamitous future. Things like a worldwide commitment to clean energy and local food production could save us just in the nick of time. The message of Earth 2100 cannot be lost on anyone, we are at that critical moment where we can chose life or oblivion.


03/21/2010

How to Eat Meat Without Guilt

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By Erin Marquis

The debate continues to rage over whether or not meat is healthy for your body and the planet. Currently, most animals are raised in industrial feed lots, which cause a lot of pollution in both the air and water, as well as provided an inhumane life for the cattle.

    However, eating meat is an excellent source for not only protein, but of essential fatty acids and nutrients found in abundance only in meat. Plus there is no evidence that vegetarianism is healthier than an omnivorous diet. So how can you reconcile your meat eating ways with your love of the environment? Saving the planet is as easy as making the right decisions about what you eat.

1.    Buy it local and organic: Local meat is often from smaller producers which raise their meat more humanely and produce much less pollution as they use their animal waste as fertilizer.

2.    Buy grass fed: This means your meat ate a more natural diet, which causes less greenhouse gas emissions. It also means your chicken or cow lived outside in pasture land. Grass-feeding improves the taste as well!

3.    Buy meat less: Meat consumption has gone up dramatically in Western countries over the past few decades. By having a meatless day you can focus on the other food groups you may be leaving out, as well as cut down on the need for industrial meat production.

03/19/2010

Make your Own Natural Air Fresheners

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Houseplant By Erin Marquis

There are clean and green ways to do everything from clean your carpets to wash your car, but what about the air in your home? For the environmentalist using traditional air fresheners it can feel like undoing all the good you had done by spraying chemicals into the air. Here are some natural ways to freshen the air in your home without the toxic cloud.

1. Put bowls of baking soda or vinegar at key spots around your home. The baking soda with react with the air in your home just like it does in your refridgerator!

2. Simmer your own air freshener on the stove. Just about anything aromatic works here—try lemons, mint, cloves, or cinnamon sticks. Place in a small pan and cover with water; turn heat on low. Check them every so often so they don’t boil dry.
  
3. Make a natural air freshener spray. Simply combine about a half cup of water with 30 to 40 drops of your favorite essential oils. Place in a spray bottle and use as desired. Be sure to shake well before using.
  
4. Add some greenery. Plants are a great way to freshen the air—their leaves, roots and even the microbes in the soil help purify the air as they take in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. Plants to try include several palms, like Areca, Lady, Dwarf Date, and Bamboo, as well as Rubber Plant, Dracaena, English ivy, Boston fern, and Spider Plant.

5. Hang dried herbs or flowers. Many herbs and flowers stay fragrent long after they've dried. Make a bouquet of dried roses and sage for a great natural scent.

6. Burn some candles. Preferablly organic beeswax candles so that you don't end up adding chemicals to the air anyway. A few drops of organic essential oil to the liquid beeswax will fill your home with a wonderful scent as it burns.

Click here for more home and garden tips from Road & Travel Magazine

03/16/2010

A Different Kind of Green Beer

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Beer2 By Erin Marquis

For St. Patrick’s day, we wanted to consider a different kind of green beer; a beer that has little impact on the planet and has sustainability and environmentalism in mind. Here are some top picks for eco-friendly brews for St. Patrick's Day celebrations. 

1. Sierra Nevada: Brewed in one of the greenest breweries in the world, Sierra Nevada brewery sports one of the country's largest private solar panel arrays, combined with a fuel-cell power plant that runs on waste heat from the beer-making process. Sierra Nevada diverts 98.2 percent of its waste from landfills.

2.  New Belgium Brewery: 70 percent of their energy comes from wind power–the remaining 30 comes from a process where they reclaim their waste water, cultivate bacteria, and then combust the methane to provide power for the plant. The water is then cleaned, used in the plant again for cooling, and treated before being pumped back to the city for use.

3. Brooklyn Brewery: A good option for folks on the east coast. This brewery produces 100% of its energy needs from wind power. They also take all waste from their grain production and feed it to livestock, making what was once considered waste useful again.

4. Great Lakes Brewing Company: “Take, Make and Remake” is this brewery’s motto.  Great Lakes is aiming for 100% sustainability, creating a closed loop in production. They are dedicated to recycling grains from the brewing process to be used for baked goods, planting urban gardens, recycling and the use of natural lights and alternative energies.

5. Stone Brewing Company: This brewery is covered in solar panels which is responsible for offsetting an estimated 538000 lbs of carbon emissions. Stone also has a fleet of bio-diesel delivery trucks.

Click here for more environmental articles from Road & Travel Magazine.

03/15/2010

Tips for a Greener Easter

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Easterbunny1  By Erin Marquis

It seems like every holiday has become about rampant consumerism and waste. However there are some ways to keep your Easter green and earth friendly.


1. Baskets:You definitely don’t need to buy new Easter baskets every year. Try finding some well made wicker baskets that you can use year in and out. Many stores dedicated to free trade or local handicrafts will have environmentally friendly options that have the added benefit of being socially conscious. Steer clear of plastics, which are made out of petroleum and are not biodegradable. 

2. Grass:No matter what, you’ll be vacuuming up Easter grass until June, so why not use something healthy? This is really easy if you have a shredder! Shredding colorful paper to make Easter grass is great because it’s cheaper than the plastic kind and totally recyclable. Another cute idea? Buy little plots of wheat or pet grass to put in the baskets! you can find them in any health food store and some mega marts. Real grass makes for a really unique Easter and you can use it after Easter in health drinks or for your cats.

3. Eggs: You can always find organic eggs at your local farmer's market, but even the big supermarkets carry healthy organic eggs now. Naturally dying your eggs is easy to do! Combine 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon of food coloring with 2 tsp. vinegar in a cup that is deep enough for the eggs. Add water to about the half way point.

4. Sweets: There are a plethora of organic candies out there,  but also consider mixing in some organic fruits, nuts, or baked goods to cut down on the refined sugar. Also throw a few organic toys and stuffed animals in and you'll have an Easter to remember. 

Click here for more green home and garden tips from Road & Travel Magazine

03/14/2010

Eco Friendly Wines

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Wine By Erin Marquis

Making wine is a dirty business. From pesticides and herbicides to heavy machinery and shipping, getting a truly green glass of wine can be difficult. But wine must be more than just environmentally friendly, it must be rich in aroma and flavor. Can you get a wine that is both environmentally friendly and delicious?

There can never be a truly carbon neutral wine because the very act of fermenting grapes releases a lot of carbon dioxide. Some so called ‘green wineries’ simply buy carbon offsets or plant trees to make up for the carbon emissions, a controversial practice.

What makes a wine organic? Wine produced in the United States has to adhere to strict guidelines to be awarded the green sticker of organic; no pesticides, no artificial yeasts and no added sulfites, which can be great for people who get headaches from red wine, as sulfites are usually the cause. Green wines will usually also have real cork corks, as it helps the wine breath. Cork is also a sustainable renewable material. Foam or plastic corks make for bad wine and bad environmentalism.

Another great way to go green while buying wine is to buy local! All fifty states have some kind of wine production and winery circuit. Unless you live in California, these are usually smaller outfits that do less damage to the environment. Buying local also cuts down on pollution from transporting heavy wine bottles all over the world and creates a unique and unusual drinking experience.  

Click here for more environmentally friendly products from Road & Travel Magazine.  

03/11/2010

Prepare you Car for Spring, Get a Green Oil Change!

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Oil Next time you find yourself thinking about what you can do for the environment whether it is recycling, planting a tree, turning off lights when you’re not in a room, consider taking another small step to making a big change — take your vehicle to a fast lube center for its next oil change. Going green with your car isn’t just about fuel efficiency, alternative fuels, and hybrid automobiles. It’s about keeping your maintenance eco-friendly too. By visiting a fast lube center you can protect the water you drink.


If you change your own motor oil, what do you do with the used oil? Pouring it down the drain or dumping it on the ground or in the trash may not seem like a problem, but these disposal methods allow the oil to seep into the ground water. Four pints of waste oil can ruin 1 million gallons of water, which is a year's supply for 50 people, according to the Automotive Oil Change Association.


Almost half of the U.S. population relies on groundwater for their drinking water supply and the United States uses 83.3 billion gallons per day of fresh ground water, so protecting it is vital.


Taking your car to your local fast lube center will help protect the ground water. If you bring your car to a fast lube center for an oil change, the used oil from your car will be properly stored and recycled. If you do change your oil yourself, most fast lube centers also accept used oil from do-it-yourselfers. Either way, you are doing your part to keep used oil out of drains and landfills so our drinking water supply will be cleaner and safer to drink.

 

Click here for more articles on green car care from Road & Travel Magazine.