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April 2010


2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid a Winner

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Ford Fusion Hybrid In response to the increased demand for eco-friendly transportation, Earth, Wind & Power Media hosted its 2nd annual EARTH, WIND & POWER Awards in Los Angeles. There, the Most Environmentally Progressive Car of the Year was announced.

The mission of the EWP Awards is to recognize vehicles driven by a power source that helps reduce global warming, are conducive to promoting a cleaner environment, and support the mission to achieve energy independence through alternative sources.

Great progress is being made by automakers in the environmental arena by reducing the energy they consume through the use of greener power supplies, thereby producing more fuel efficient vehicles and upgrading to cleaner power sources such as hybrids, electric, flex-fueland ethanol. The EWP Awards honor vehicles making this progress.

With global warming and concerns about dependence of foreign oil becoming more mainstream today, more and more people are turning to fuel-efficient or alternative fuel vehicles,” said Courtney Caldwell, ICOTY creator and producer. “It’s become of vital interest to consumers, automakers, and the future of our planet to produce vehicles that are compatible with our environment.”

While environmentally friendly vehicles contribute significantly to returning the planet to its organic state, it’s important to note that cars alone are not the main cause of global warming. There are many causes for greenhouse emissions from commercial buildings to individual consumption. “It's wonderful to see the rapid progress automakers are making with the development of alternative power sources that will not only protect the planet but will also improve the quality of our lives.”

Most Environmentally Progressive Car of the Year

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid

Editors Note: During a recent visit to Rhode Island I had the chance to request any press vehicle for my week long stay. I requested the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid because of the way it handles and its gorgeous styling. It gave me great pride driving it around the state not only because of its stellar performance and fuel efficient offering but also because it was an award winning vehicle that has won numerous awards from many highly respected automotive magazines as one of the most earth friendly cars on the planet this year. Read more about it in this review written by John Heilig.

 For more information on earth friendly cars and products, visit RTM's Planet Driven section.



Tips for More Eco-Friendly Deck Protection

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Outside deck Spring is here. And, with mild temperatures, comes the chance to assess the damage inflicted on your deck and porches by winter snow, ice and freezing temperatures.  Your old finish may be worn leaving the wood unprotected and open to rotting and splitting.  The ultimate test is to apply a few drops of water to the wood.  If it beads, your wood should be well protected for another season, but if it soaks into the wood, it’s time for restoration.

For many years, staining wood meant working with toxic solvents and harmful fumes. But, to meet growing demand for more ‘green’ alternatives, environmentally friendly wood stains have become more prominent on the store shelves.


“We now see eco-friendly wood stains on the market that can match or outperform more toxic, film coatings on beauty, longevity and overall performance,” according to Rob Mueller, Past President of the Paint & Decorating Retailers Association (PDRA). “While many stains simply coat the wood, these high-performing, high-quality eco-friendly stains actually penetrate it for protection from within.”

Essential staining tips for a deck that will last:

Select a water-borne stain that penetrates wood
Traditionally; wood stains used oil-based solvents to simply coat the wood.  For water repellency, these oil-based solvents often contain paraffin’s, which quickly break down with exposure to sun light and heat. The move to water-based stains combines the benefits of both oil and water-based coatings, using water as the vehicle to get oil penetration deep into the wood for deep down protection.


An added benefit of ‘water-borne’ alkyd wood stains is that they significantly reduce the level of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which contribute to smog or ozone depletion. “Water-borne stains perform like a solvent-based formula but provide the inherent advantages of water, such as the ability to allow the wood to breathe and the stain to bond with the wood,” says Sjoerd Bos, Vice President of Sansin.  “These eco-stains don’t just sit on top ready to be chipped or scraped away and harm the environment.”

Clean and rinse the deck

Apply a biodegradable deck cleaner to remove any buildup or mold/mildew.  Rinse the deck off with a hose (making sure plants surrounding the deck are covered), and let the deck dry thoroughly, making sure all signs of the previous coating are gone. For bare wood, use a minimum 3000 psi pressure washer with clean water.

Sanding is worth the time

This step may be time-consuming, but is worth the effort.  An orbital sander with 60-80 grip paper should do the trick to create a level, consistently porous surface that will absorb more stain, resulting in a better wood finish. 

Use less stain and apply with spray, then brush

Using less is always more for the environment.  To reduce the need for multiple coats, wood stains now come in ‘one-coat’ formulations that penetrate deep into the wood to repel condensed water while allowing water vapor to escape. “With water-borne wood stains, you can even protect wood with high moisture content with one coat, since the stain allows the wood to ‘breathe,’ preventing moisture from getting trapped inside the logs or wood and causing decay,” says Sjoerd Bos, Vice President of Sansin. It’s best to apply the stain with a garden sprayer followed by ‘back-brushing.’

Maintenance pays off

How long should your deck stain last?  That’s a common question, and it does depend on the stain and the preparation as described above, but two to five years is the average.  To extend the life of your wood stain, apply a maintenance coat if the deck no longer repels water.  Prior to the maintenance coat, best to use a deck cleaner or pressure washer.

Even for home owners with pressure-treated wood on their decks on porches, a good stain will inhibit the eventual fading, graying and cracking from outdoor exposure. “No matter the wood or pre-treatment for your deck, it’s important to protect your investment. Now, homeowners can get high-quality protection with the added bonus of low VOC, low toxic wood stain products that can be applied in one coat,” says Sjoerd Bos, Vice President of Sansin.

Reprinted with permission by Sansin Corporation.

For additional earth friendly home and garden tips, visit the extensive Earth Tones Archive in Road & Travel Magazine.


Cost Savings Tips for Driving Green

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All we hear about today is going green, making your home green, and driving green, but what if you don’t know how or think you can’t afford to go green? There are different ways to go green, especially when it comes to your vehicle. You could buy a hybrid or flex fuel vehicle, but if you’re not ready for that step, there are simple maintenance changes you can make to the car you presently own and it’s as simple as changing your motor oil. Royal Purple synthetic motor oil is not only environmentally friendly, but will help keep the green in your pocketbook as well.

Reduce Emissions, Lower Your Carbon Footprint

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average car emits as much as 575 pounds of carbon monoxide into the air each year. According to independent tests conducted by North Carolina State University, Royal Purple Motor Oil reduces harmful carbon monoxide emissions by as much as 62% when compared with conventional synthetic and petroleum-based oils. Another great way to reduce your emissions is to simply follow the maintenance recommendations in your owner's manual. An out-of-tune engine can increase emissions and fuel consumption by as much as 15 percent. Always follow your car manufacturer's suggested tune-up schedule to ensure your vehicle is performing at its best.

Keep Your Air and Engine Clean

Regularly replacing your air filter is an important step in “greening” your vehicle.  A clogged air filter can increase fuel consumption by as much as 10 percent. Air filters keep impurities from damaging the interior of the engine; so replacing dirty filters will save gas and protect your engine.


Improve Your Fuel Economy, Consume Less Fuel
Keeping the tires of your vehicle properly inflated will help both in the reduction of fuel consumption and extending the life of your tires. The U.S. Energy Department reports that under-inflated tires can increase fuel consumption by up to 6 percent. One study estimates that 50-80 percent of the tires rolling on U.S. roads are under inflated. Astonishingly, we could save up to 2 billion gallons of gas each year simply by properly inflating our tires.

Avoid Topping Off and Breathe Easy

When at the pump, avoid topping off your gas tank. Topping off releases gas fumes into the air and cancels the benefits of the pump's anti-pollution devices. Capping your tank once the pump automatically shuts off is safer and reduces pollution.

Source: Royal Purple

For more cost savings tips visit Road & Travel Magazine's Planet Driven section.


Unexpected Talents Highlight 2010 Highlander Hybrid

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by Martha Hindes

Highlander Beyond the expected quirks of driving a hybrid, Toyota's 2010 AWD-only Highlander sport utility delivers some additional surprises. We decided "hidden talents" was the best descriptor after a week behind the wheel.


We're familiar with "green" capabilities that with Highlander delivers some 27/25 MPG for a $35K-and-up price (best mileage in cities, of course). And we'd expected the sometimes annoying whir as its drive toggled from electricity to combo mode with V-6 gas engine, or the sound of silence when everything shut down at a stop. We didn't anticipate the unique extras stashed inside this leather-bound, high-end SUV with broad-screen navigation that scrolls by touch.


A cleverly stowed pop-up rear seat with flip-up headrests in this seven-seater serves two adults with ample head and leg room. We never quite figured how to install a stowable console stashed in a compartment between front seats. But, we found the sculpted body lines handsome, and the accelerator and steering responsive. On the confusion scale, we mention the numerous choruses of bell dings. We'd need more study time to interpret all their meanings.


For more content about environmental friendly vehicles, visit RTM's Planet Driven section.


KBB.com Highlights Top 10 Green Cars for 2010

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In an all-new story posted to KBB® Green on Earth Day 2010, the kbb.com editors listed a variety of fuel-efficient vehicles worthy of buyers’ consideration. The coverage includes detailed EPA-estimated fuel economy numbers and editorial commentary on why each particular model made this Earth Day’s top Green Car List.
To be considered for the Top 10 Green Cars of 2010 list, each vehicle was required to offer fuel economy and CO2 emissions superior to the bulk of vehicles in its class, and at the same time provide all the safety, creature comforts and driving enjoyment that would make it pleasant to own.

Buying a green, environmentally friendly vehicle is one way for car shoppers to deal with the ever-rising costs of fuel in the midst of a slowly recovering economy.  Saving gasoline doesn’t just save the planet; it also saves money.

“Whether car shoppers’ top motivations are to save the planet or just save some greenbacks, there are many enjoyable green vehicle options available in the marketplace now, with more exciting models coming down automakers’ product pipelines in the near future,” said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book’s kbb.com.  “From conventional gasoline-powered fuel sippers to hybrids to diesels, we think car shoppers will be impressed with the variety in vehicle types and sizes, as well as the vast array of various technologies, available on the market for the green-minded consumer today, as showcased in our Top 10 Green Cars of 2010 list.”

Select Choices from kbb.com’s Top 10 Green Cars for 2010 List

2010 Volkswagen Golf TDI | 34 mpg (30 city, 42 highway)

2010 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid | 22 mpg (21 city, 22 highway)

2010 Honda Fit | 31 mpg (28 city, 35 highway)

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid | 39 mpg (41 city, 36 highway)

2010 BMW 335d | 27 mpg (23 city, 36 highway)

For the remaining five vehicles on the Top 10 list, including full editorial commentary and reasoning behind each of the editors’ picks, visit the Top 10 Green Cars for 2010 on the KBB website.

For more information on top honors for most environmentally progressive vehicles, visit Earth, Wind & Power’s® Car of the Year Award’s section.


Earth Day Activities

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By Lauren Bjerk87464875

It's one of the greenest weeks of the year with Earth Day this Friday, so you might be wondering what are some eco-friendly activities you can take part in. While it's important to live your life in footprint-free fashion, Earth Day is a great way to kick start your new found green life. Here are a few things you can do on Mother Nature's favorite holiday, that are fun for you and great for the environment.

1. Plant a tree - One of the best things you can do on Earth Day is give back by planting a tree. Varying in price, you don't have to empty out your wallet to help the Earth, just head to a Home Depot or another store of that nature and price out your perfect plant.

2. Go electricity free - If you are too busy to be out digging in dirt on Earth Day but still want to participate you can simply do more by doing less. Try to go without on Earth Day by avoiding electricity at all costs. The impact will certainly be beneficial, and it may even spur and new habit.

3. Be car-less - Perhaps that morning commute is a little too lengthy to bike it every day, but Earth Day is a special occasion. Plan ahead, hide your keys if need be, and hop on your Schwinn for the day. The ozone will be thankful and you'll get your daily workout without hitting the gym.


Green Home Improvement: DIY Vase

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By Lauren Bjerk87460342(2)

Spring brings about new growth in the world around, so what better way to celebrate that than with some indoor nature?

A simple DIY idea is a recycled vase. You can use a coffee container or a used wine bottle. Simple and efficient, and it will bring about new beauty to your home. Also, recycling water bottles is an even easier (and cheaper) way of decorating your home. After all, the focus is on whats in the vase anyway, right?

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


Green Wedding Gifts

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By Lauren Bjerk

When going to a green wedding, or even a conventional one, the best gift to give is one with sustainability. We at Earth, Wind and Power know this, so here are five gift ideas for the wedding season that will not only last along with the union, but also help the Earth last. 89301016

Recycled Glass Pitchers- Unique and stylish, key things for making your gift stand out

Recycled Candlestick Holders - Relatively inexpensive and the perfect romantic gift for those dinners in.

Electric Scooter - A little more expensive, but a memorable gift, and one that will definitely cut down on the wedded couples CO2 emissions. 

Sustainable Wood Frames - To hold their dear photos of then and now. 

Organic Cotton Sheets - The classic present with a green twist.

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


Green Collar Jobs: Sustainable Renovation

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By Lauren Bjerk87481521[1] 

In all too many areas of the world, certain jobs are becoming obsolete. But in particular areas of the job-sphere, there has risen a shade of occupation to counter the typical colored jobs: Green Collar Jobs. Every  
  week, we'll profile a new, unique occupation that has come into play in our gradually changing, eco-conscious world, and this week we're looking at sustainable renovations.

Rarely do you see a "For Sale" sign on a home that totes the electricity hungry aspects of a traditional, environmentally-blind structure. Coupling the cost cutting effects of modifying your home to be eco-friendly, along with it's positive effect on the environment, many citizens of planet Earth may be intrigued, but at a loss of how and where to begin. Enter the sustainable renovator.

The key aspect of a sustainable renovators job is simple: make the home greener. But what does that entail? Here are a few things this occupation focuses on:

1. Energy Efficiency. The renovations must conserve energy, not just in the present, but the long run as well.

2. Ecological Designs. The renovator must be informed by up-to-date ecological and holistic designs.

3. Sustainable Materials. When building or rebuilding, the renovator must use all materials deemed sustainable.

4. Responsible Waste Management. This is key in the renovation, because for this occupation the end result is just as important has how it came to be, and in this case, how the wasted materials were recycled or reused.

5. Non-Toxic Beauty.Like any other design job, customer satisfaction is key. Green houses not only need to be healthy for the environment and it's inhabitants, but also long-lasting and visually appealing. If they fail to meet this key requirement, than it looks like just another obsolete or underused job.  

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


Green Home Improvement: DIY Coffee Sleeve

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By Lauren Bjerk

We already know that travel mugs are the way to go when dealing with purchasing that cup of joe from the coffee shop, but for the days we forget it at home we can still reduce our paper usage by bringing our own coffee sleeve.

Unique and creative, by making your own reusable coffee sleeve, you not only are being economical and stylish, but you also never have to deal with burning your hands on those oh-so-hot paper cups.

Making your coffee sleeve is quick and easy, all you'll need is:

*A cardboard coffee sleeve

*A sewing machine or a needle and thread

*Recycled Material.


1. Cut Pattern. Using the the cardboard coffee sleeve you picked up from a local coffee shop (and plan on recycling!), cut out the shape of the pattern on your recycled piece of material (I used a pair of shorts my puppy decided to destroy). Make sure you have enough material to cut the pattern out twice, as you will be sewing them together in the next step.

2. Pin. Now take your two pattern pieces, align the edges and pin them together using sewing pins.

3. Sew Edges. Either place your pinned together materials on your sewing machine and stitch, or just take a trusty needle and thread and sew by hand until the sleeve'd edges are completely sewn together.

4. Sew Into Sleeve and Add Flair. Take each end of the sleeve and sew them together, forming a circle shape, just like that of a traditional coffee sleeve. If it looks a tad dull, jazz it up by sewing on buttons or adding other frills to the edges.

5. Enjoy. Now that you have your very own, reusable sleeve, you can show off your handy work every where you go. When creating it, you can even sew two different pieces of recycled material together, to gain a versatile look. Pretty soon, people will be asking where you got such a creative cozy.

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