California to Lead the Way in Energy Efficiency Tactics?

21 04 2009

Think the government has no control over the electronics you use? Think AGAIN!

According to a recent New York Times article, the California Energy Commission has proposed new efficiency standards that would require televisions sold in the state to use 50 percent less energy by 2013. The rules would effect  televisions manufactured from January 2011 onward.

The Consumer Electronics Association argues that the electronics industry could achieve new standards without the rules proposed by the Energy Commission. One simple way to save on energy is to adjust light and color settings. Douglas Johnson, a senior director of technology policy for the Consumer Electronics Association,  was quoted in the New York Times story as saying that these measures could reduce energy use by 25 percent.

“There are so much more savings to be had by what we’re suggesting as alternatives,” Johnson said.

Philips has come up with its version of a greener television: a 42-inch  with a light sensor. The television uses less power than others and saves energy depending on the lighting of the room.

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5 Things You Never Knew You Could Compost

19 04 2009

Did my last blog about composting inspire you? If so, then pay attention to what I’m about to say.

Here’s a list of 5 things that you probably never knew you could compost, mentioned in a recent post
on the blog Treehugger:

1) Human hair- It’s a  rich source of nitrogen.

2)Fingernail and toenail clippings- These can be composted if they are free from polish.

3. Beer, wine, and brewery waste- Wine can act as a “compost starter” by spurring the bacteria in the compost.  The waste products from brewing beer or wine can also be beneficial to the composting process.

4. Dry pet food- Believe it or not, this can kick the composting process into high gear.

5. Dead flowers- These are good nutrients for the soil.





Wearing your Green

18 04 2009

Fashionistas need not worry. It is now fashionable to be eco-friendly.

The Union Square Ballroom in New York City held the “Green Arm Candy Party” on Monday, a show featuring eco-friendly handbags designed by companies like Teich, Canopy Verde, Ashley Watson, Feed, and Rume, among others. It was hosted by the website bagtrends.com.

My favorite handbag companies featured at the convention are Canopy Verde and  Jane Marvel.

This is my favorite design by Canopy Verde:

The lining and fabric of this bag, called “Chicory Hobo”, are made from a combination of bamboo and organic cotton. The bag has an open back pocket, interior pockets  and a hidden magnet that keeps the front flap in place and comes in three colors: chocolate, ivory, and black. At $169, the bag is pricey, but cheap compared to many designer bags that look similar.

This is my favorite bag designed by Jane Marvel:

I love the bag’s bright colors and its sleek design. The website doesn’t mention what the bag is made of, but I’m assuming its made of plastic. This would be the perfect bag for a day of shopping in the city, and at $56, who could go wrong!

Did I inspire you to be both stylish AND ecofriendly? I sure hope so!





A Peek Inside an Israeli’s Refrigerator

15 04 2009

When I was trying to decide what to blog about, a recent post on the blog “Treehugger” jumped out at me because it was about the diet of an Israeli native, a country I visited the summer before last for 10 days as part of the BirthRight Israel program.

Karin Kloosterman, a native of Jerusalem, Israel, wrote this blog about his diet, providing a full description of the contents of his refrigerator.

Below is a picture Karin took of his refrigerator:

The post was a reminder of one of the major differences I noticed between Israelis and Americans while on my trip: their diets. It is common knowledge that the United States has an obesity problem. Israel, on the other hand, does not. I didn’t see a single obese person during the week and a half I spent there. Even the snacks Israelis eat seem to be mostly healthy!

To see what I mean, examine the contents of Karin’s refrigerator. We see that Karin eats a lot of vegetables and other local and organically grown foods. The  items in his refrigerator include organic lentil sprouts, organic goat cheese,  parsley, green onions and tomatoes, among many other healthy options.

Americans, on the other hand, like their ice cream and chocolate. According to the Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there was  a dramatic increase in the number of obese people between 1987 and 2007. In 2007, 30 states had an obesity prevalence greater than or equal to 25 percent!

According to a study done by CalorieLab,  my state, Connecticut, ranked 49 out of 50 on its list of fattest states, with  only 20.8 percent of the adult population being obese during the year 2008. Only Colorado, with 18.4 percent of adults being obese, had a lower ranking.  Mississippi was the fattest state.

I’m proud to be a Connectican!

Maybe if Americans ate like Karin, the United States wouldn’t have an obesity problem!





Green Hosts “Green” Game Show

14 04 2009

Think you know everything about the environment?

Think again.

Planet Green, a Discovery company, now has a game show called “Go  for the Green” which tests the contestants’ knowledge of subjects like recycling and transportation.

An online version of the game is now available on the company’s website. I did pretty well, getting 13 of the questions correct!

Click here to play the online version of the game.

The show is on every Saturday night from 8/7 central time and is hosted by comedian and actor Tom Green, the former host of the Tom Green Show on MTV.

Here’s a clip of the Tom Green show:

And yes, Tom’s last name is purely coincidental. He was born with it.





Another Advantage to Going Green: Tax Credits

13 04 2009

As if saving the environment wasn’t enough of an incentive, now there is another advantage to going green: tax credits.

As mentioned in a recent New York Times article, the new government stimulus plan, approved by Congress in February, will offer tax credits to those who make their homes more energy efficient. According to the Alliance to Save Energy, under the American  Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009,  the tax credit was increased to 30 percent of the cost of each qualified energy efficiency improvement.

The Alliance to Save Energy website provides a chart showing how many tax credits  the government is offering for certain upgrades. A hybrid car or SUV purchase, for example, can save up to $3,150.

A tax credit is claimed on your income tax form at the end of the year. The credit either increases the amount of m0ney you get back or decreases the amount you have to pay. According to the Alliance to Save Energy’s website,  a tax credit is more valuable than  a  tax deduction, which one’s  taxable income.

The chart from the Alliance to Save Energy’s website is shown below:

Selected Tax Credits

Purchase
Tax savings
Notes
Hybrid car or SUV
$250 to $3,150
Credit depends on fuel economy and weight.
Home improvements:

  • Central air conditioner, heat pump, furnace or boiler
  • Windows, insulation and sealing
30% of cost up to $1,500
Only some Energy Star products (or levels of insulation) qualify.
Ground-source heat pump
30% of cost
Only Energy Star products qualify.




7 Vegetables to Grow in an Organic Garden

8 04 2009

In a previous blog post, I discussed the Obama family’s decision to plant a vegetable garden at the White House to promote healthy eating. Organic gardening is not only cheaper than traditional gardening, but is healthy as well.

The blog “Webecoist” recently suggested 15 vegetables to plant in an organic garden.

Here are 6 of them.

  1. Mushrooms-This is one of my favorite vegetables and they are very easy to grow. The only ingredients needed to grow them are spores, sawdust and a dark place. You can buy kits already injected with spores. We’re currently growing mushrooms in my backyard and I can’t wait to try them!

2. Rhubarb- This plant is very easy to grow and can often be found in the wild. The leaves of the plant are poisonous but the stems are very tasty. My grandma grew the plant in her garden at her old house and made pie from it. Rhubarb pie is delicious and to this day, is still one of my favorite types of pie!

3. Mint- Like rhubarb, mint is very easy to grow. My mom often grows it and there is nothing like the taste of fresh mint!

4. Potted Vegetables- Some vegetables, like tomatoes and chili peppers, do well in pots and can be moved around easily to increase their exposure to sunlight.

5. Basil- This herb grows well both indoors and outside. The plant is very low-maintenance, as it can survive a few days without water. This is another plant that my mom grows at home.

6. Garlic- Like basil, this plant is very low-maintenance. It can be used as  a fungicide and pesticide.