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June 2010

06/30/2010

Eco-Fabulous on a Budget

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Eco-Friendly Fashions Eco-friendly fashions have come a long way from the traditional Birkenstocks and burlap sacks that were made popular in the late ‘60s Woodstock era.  Since 2005, models have been parading environmentally-friendly clothing up and down the runway with top designers such as Oscar de la Renta, Diane Von Furstenberg, Emily Katz and Stewart Brown showing off clothing made from all natural and organic cotton, corn, bamboo, hemp and other recycled materials.

In the past, clothing made from organic materials could sometimes cost up to double of that of clothing made up of synthetic material. However, that is not so much the case anymore. Discount chain stores such as Target and Wal-Mart are featuring eco-friendly lines in their stores. Target’s eco-friendly apparel Rogan for Target collection designed by eco-conscious designer Rogan Gregory, runs from anywhere from $14.99 to $45; stylish and budget friendly.

 

Needless to say adding a little green to your closet doesn’t have to be expensive, and why not use the environment as your excuse next time you hit up the mall?

06/29/2010

Fight For Clean Drinking Water Gets Serious

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Clean-drinking-water copy Believe it or not, the biggest issue the next generation of Americans may face is the ever-shrinking supply of drinking water in the U.S. Finding clean drinking water is becoming increasingly difficult and many communities are already engaged in legal battles over water rights. California has already estimated it may run out of drinking water within the next 20 years.  It’s something that may seem a bit far-fetched, but it’s the harsh reality.

Water filtration systems simply cannot remove 100 percent of lead, chlorine, pesticides and other harmful chemicals that are found in our country’s water supply. Many people choose bottled water, which is sometimes not any better than unfiltered tap water; most plastic bottled containers cannot be reused because the plastic itself contains harmful chemicals. And because of this, many citizens and companies have taken matters into their own hands.

A California based company has created a new way for people to make their own clean drinking water right in their own home. Atmosphereic Water Systems Inc. makes a product called DewPointe Atmosphereic Water Generator, which through innovative technology, this appliance no larger than any other office water cooler, condenses the moisture in the air, filters the collected water through a five-stage filtration system and stores the water for consumer use in hot and cold dispensers. All that is required is a standard electrical outlet, and the cost is less than 50 cents per gallon.

When you make your own water there is no need to use already polluted water, use plastic bottles and virtually no carbon footprint.

06/28/2010

How Environmentally-Friendly is your Car?

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Ecofriendly-cars It doesn’t matter if your car is new or old, big or small; there are plenty of preventive maintenance steps you can take to make sure your car is as “green” or environmentally-friendly as possible.

According to the Car Care Council, these few simple steps can help save the environment and save you money at the pump.  What more could you ask for!

1. Keep your car properly tuned for optimum performance

2. Regularly check and replace dirty air filters

3. Have the spark plugs checked

4. Maintain your vehicle’s cooling system

5. Make sure tires are fully inflated to make the most of your fuel mileage

Click here for more tips to make your vehicle more fuel efficient.

06/25/2010

What is EcoTourism?

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Ecotourism Whether you embark on a nature hike through the mountains or stay at a luxurious ecolodge in the Caribbean, there are many activities to do and places to stay that let you show how much you care about the environment. However, does that hike through the forest really make your vacation sustainable?

Ecotourism is defined by the Nature Conservancy as "Environmentally responsible travel to natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature (and accompanying cultural features, both past and present) that promote conservation, have a low visitor impact and provide for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local peoples."

However, most tourism in natural areas today is not ecotourism and is not therefore, sustainable. Ecotourism can be distinguished from nature tourism by its emphasis on conservation, education, traveler responsibility and active community participation. Specifically, ecotourism possesses the following characteristics:

  • Conscientious, low-impact visitor behavior
  • Sensitivity towards, and appreciation of, local cultures and biodiversity
  • Support for local conservation efforts
  • Sustainable benefits to local communities
  • Local participation in decision-making
  • Educational components for both the traveler and local communities

Learn more from the Nature Conservancy on eco-tourism.

06/24/2010

New Technology Finds Solar Hot Spots

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Solar%20panels If you’ve ever thought of solar power for your home, you may have wondered how capable your home is at receiving those sun rays. Depending on where you live the same array of solar panels can either produce enough energy to heat your entire house, or barely produce enough energy to reduce your utility bill at all. Well a resource is available for homeowners to find out the solar potential of their actual rooftop.

Engineering company CH2M Hill has paired up with the U.S. Department of Energy to provide virtual solar maps of 25 American cities, to chart out solar potential of neighborhoods and even your rooftop.

The company has recently charted it’s first city, San Francisco, using Google Maps technology. Originally, the city wasn’t considered to have a lot of solar hot spots; however, since mapping CH2M Hill has found 925 solar systems around the city.

Imagine all the solar spots that can be found once all 25 cities have been charted.

Source: Time Magazine

06/23/2010

Best Green Goods for Your Next Eco-Adventure

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Greentravelproducts-pic1 Green Travel has blossomed into it's own booming industry. Fueled by conscientious consumers and the need for recycled, reusable products, "green" travel  products, and "green" travel itself, have popped up everywhere, from Costa Rica's moist jungles to your favorite travel depot down the road.

Too kind to scream, "I told you so!" from the rooftops, Sustainable Travel International, who goes by the motto "leave the world a better place," is silently nodding in approval. To help spread the word, the eco-friendly travel organization has recently launched its first Annual Green Gear Guide. Filled with resource efficient, recycled and organic goods, the Green Gear Guide promotes products offered by distributors that gain fair prices for the local producers of their goods.

Says STI President Brian Mullis, outdoor equipment
and clothing are enormously popular. Unfortunately, many products are produced under oppressive labor conditions, through energy or resource intensive processes, or with harmful toxic materials."

To keep yourself and the environment healthy, check out some of ROAD & TRAVEL's favorites from the Green Gear Guide.

06/22/2010

Going Green at the Car Wash

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Brought to you by International Carwash Association

Car wash While drivers are becoming more environmentally conscious by purchasing hybrid vehicles, many may not be aware that washing those automobiles at professional car washes also positively impacts the environment.

Environmental Partners, Inc., Issaquah, Seattle, conducted two tests to measure the potential impact of untreated car wash discharges into the storm water system (and thereby to streams and lakes) using fish mortality as a measure.

In the independent study, underwritten by Vic Odermat, a lifelong environmentalist and owner of Brown Bear Carwash, Seattle, Washington, fish toxicity tests were performed using a water runoff sample collected from a fundraising car wash event held in a parking lot and compared against a simulated run-off sample that was potable. The car wash runoff sample caused 100 percent mortality of fish in all dilution steps tested, while all the fish survived in the potable water. Detergents, including those that are biodegradable, can be harmful to fish by destroying their protective mucus membranes. In addition, detergents can damage fish gills and wash away natural oils that help fish absorb oxygen.

“I hope this study empowers citizens to be more informed about how small acts, such as visiting professional car washes, can really make a difference on the environment,” said Vic Odermat.

Detergents and surface residue from driveway or parking lot car washes generally runs directly into the nearest storm drain. Most storm drains are designed to carry excess rainwater into nearby waterways without any additional cleaning of that water. Storm water run off is the most common source of pollution of streams, rivers, lakes, oceans and inlets, and can have a devastating effect on aquatic life.

Under the federal Clean Water Act, a commercial car wash cannot send their dirty water into storm drains. The water must be discharged into a separate sanitary sewer or treated and recycled. Professional car washes also use less than one tenth of one percent of the water used by a municipality daily.

“As the year progresses and temperatures dip lower, drivers will need their cars washed more often because mud, road grime and salt are more likely to accumulate on their vehicles,” said Mark Thorsby, International Carwash Association Executive Director. “By using professional car washes, drivers can maintain clean cars and help the environment.”

Visit www.carwash.org for more information on the professional car wash industry and for additional green car wash tips.

For more earth friendly automotive tips from Road & Travel Magazine, visit our Planet Driven section.

06/21/2010

Walmart Goes Green by Jim Fitzgerald

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Walmart logo Watching baseball's first quadruple play was strange. Seeing Walmart go green is stranger still.

First the baseball: The scene was a game of T-Ball, where everyone bats every inning regardless of the number of outs.

The bases were loaded when a line drive ended up in the glove of the pitcher. While he wondered how it got there, all the runners took off without tagging up. The pitcher ran to third, then second, then first.

We kept counting the number of outs and they did not add up. First in our heads: That doesn't make sense. Then on our hand: That's crazy. Then our other hand: It kept adding up to four outs. It took us a while to believe what we saw right in front of us.

And now Walmart, the original Black Hat, is going green. Or better said… sustainable. Let that sink in because it is true. Big time!

So much so that Treehugger.com says, “It could end up being one of the biggest motivators to make truly 'green' products ever." As in history of the world.

Walmart has made believers out of not just the biggest environmental organizations in the world -- like the Environmental Defense Fund and the World Wildlife Federation -- but also Walmart suppliers.

It started five years ago when Walmart announced three goals: 

-- 100 percent renewable energy
-- Zero waste

-- Sustainable products

Walmart stores have already gone sustainable on dozens of fronts from shipping to selling to storing to recycling. Last year, they saved 4.8 billion plastic shopping bags. That's how they roll in Bentonville: Big.

Even the combined efforts of 8400 stores with two million associates doing $400B in sales every year was not enough: Walmart figured out 90 percent of the carbon was coming from its supply chain. So it reached down to all its 100,000 vendors -- and their vendors and their vendors -- and told them that reducing carbon footprints -- reducing energy -- will save money. Everyone knows that is what Walmart is all about.

"And vendors are listening," said Tom Rooney, CEO of SPG Solar in Novato, California, one of the largest solar installers in the country. "We are seeing renewed and intense interest in industrial - and commercial-scale solar because of Walmart, Proctor and Gamble and other companies showing their suppliers how to change their shipping, packaging, storing, selling, heating, cooling, disposing, recycling and other practices to squeeze energy out of the supply chain and save money. And solar is a big part of that."

Walmart: Not just for beating up anymore. Or maybe we are just seeing the world's first quintuple play.



06/18/2010

IKEA Phasing Out Incandescent Light Bulbs

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Lightbulb Switch On. Switch Off. Switch Over. IKEA makes the change for a brighter future. Starting August 1, 2010, IKEA will begin to phase out all incandescent light bulbs in their US stores. This recent IKEA environmental initiative has a target date of incandescent bulb elimination by January 1, 2011. IKEA will be the first US retailer to completely phase out incandescent light bulbs.
 
“IKEA is committed to integrating sustainability into all IKEA strategies and practices in the entire product life cycle. We also believe our customers are looking for every day environmentally responsible solutions for themselves. Eliminating incandescents is a simple way to lead the charge for IKEA customers to use energy saving light bulbs, thus reducing energy consumption and reducing the amount of greenhouses gases. It’s a little step with a big impact on our planet,” commented Mike Ward, US IKEA President.
 
The IKEA phase out will come in advance of the federal legislation that will begin to phase out incandescent light bulbs in 2012. IKEA is taking the lead before this new legislation takes effect.
 
IKEA customers will have a good choice of other effective energy saving bulbs. While the compact fluorescent bulb (CFL) is the most popular bulb, IKEA also offers a range of LED lamps which are 70% more efficient than using incandescent bulbs. IKEA Halogen lamps which consume 30% less energy are also a great ‘white light’ alternative. And beginning fall, 2010, IKEA will offer a halogen bulb which can be used in a standard light socket. This is called a retro-fit halogen bulb. IKEA also offers solar powered lamps including their SUNNAN desk lamp and their ‘SOLIG’ range of outdoor lights.

“The Alliance to Save Energy is very pleased to recognize IKEA for its steps in phasing out sales of inefficient incandescent light bulbs well ahead of the 2012 implementation date of new federal standards,” commented Jeffrey Harris, Vice President for Programs, Alliance to Save Energy. “As a leading retailer, IKEA will also be educating its customers to choose more energy-efficient lighting technologies, and thus helping to speed the coming market transition.
 
The IKEA phase out of incandescent light bulbs is just one of many sustainable initiatives that IKEA has taken. The recent IKEA Sustainability Report clearly outlines many other programs and actions that IKEA has and will take to lessen the company’s impact on the environment and be a responsible global citizen.
 
Clearly, Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulb discovery was a landmark 19th century invention. But times have changed. New discoveries prevail. And everyday sustainability practices are important to IKEA customers. People are questioning old habits and creating new lifestyles with a charge to be environmentally responsible - everyday in some simple way. Notably, it’s a never ending job!

For more tips on making your home more energy efficient, visit RTM's Earth Tones section.

06/17/2010

2011 Honda CR-Z Sport Hybrid Coupe Makes Debut

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Honda cr-z ex The all-new 2011 Honda CR-Z sport hybrid coupe made its Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3 Expo) debut today. Evocative of many video games, the two-passenger CR-Z introduces a number of interactive features including a new three-mode drive system that allows the driver to select between Sport, Econ (Economy) and Normal driving models. The CR-Z will go on-sale later this summer.

"E3 Expo is the perfect venue to showcase the all-new CR-Z", said Steven Center, vice president of marketing operations for American Honda. "The engaging and sporty driving experience found in the CR-Z feels like something out of the latest racing video game. Gamers will feel at home behind the wheel of the CR-Z - whether it be in front of a console or on the open road."

Along with the CR-Z debut, Honda also announced that the sport hybrid coupe will appear in several video games including:

  • Car Town by CIE Studios (Online, PC and Xbox Live)
  • Nitto Legends 1320 by CIE Studios (Online and PC)
  • Gran Turismo 5 by Sony (Sony PS3 and PSP)