Recycling Our Closets

February 29, 2012 by  
Filed under Eco Green Living HQ

How many times have you torn through your closet and come up empty, even though you may have thrumbed through 45 outfits? The basic idea in recycling is to reuse, right? So, why do we insist on keeping perfectly good outfits, hanging on a hanger in our closets, when maybe they would be worn by someone else? This basic, simple idea is one we should keep in mind when we find ourselves frustrated without “a thing to wear!”

I’ve done it. I’ve had times where I can’t add another article of clothing to my bulging closet, full of items I don’t wear, and then I do it…I go buy more. There is nothing in that process that looks anything like the model of recycling; reduce, reuse and recycle.

One of the best ideas I’ve come across in learning all I can about recycling is the idea that when it comes to our attention that we are in possession of items we are no longer putting to use, pass them on. I love the idea of knowing that someone who maybe couldn’t afford it is wearing something of mine that no longer fits me. The other part of that positive thought is that the particular article is no longer taking up space and collecting dust in my closet!

We need to be mindful of what items are hanging in our closets that could be possibly worn by someone else. Isn’t the base idea of recycling to reduce the excess? If I’m buying new clothes and just hanging on to the old ones, I’m not doing my part at all. I’m allowing for waste to accumulate right under my nose! But if I am mindful of what I own, I can keep the clutter in my closet down to a minimum by paying attention to items that no longer see daylight with me. I’m not a woman who is sentimental about things, even clothing that has meaning and I seem to be okay passing on to others what once meant something to me, but could now mean something to them.

Why have items that we no longer have any use for taking up precious space in our lives? Doesn’t it feel better when you can go into your closet and move hangers around and not have a twinge of guilt that you no longer fit into certain items? It took me a while, but that was one of the best things I ever did for myself; cleaning out my closet. I didn’t do it just once, either. I am aware of the new items I buy and I don’t allow the closet to over flow with things I’m not longer having a use for; I pass them on and that feels really good.

Do yourself a favor, go through your closet, find what you’re no longer wearing and pass it on to someone who can once again, breathe life into it. It may not seem like a big deal but, guaranteed, someone out there, maybe a little less fortunate, will be grateful.

Solar Energy Is A Form Of Green Energy Source

February 28, 2012 by  
Filed under Eco Green Living HQ

Solar energy is a green energy source because it is a renewable and it does not cause any harm to the environment. This is achieved by converting the sun’s rays into electricity with the help of solar cells.

There are three basic approaches how we can use this form of green energy source namely passive, active and by using photovoltaic cells.

When we refer to passive solar energy, nothing is converted. What happens is the building’s design helps avoid heat loss and gets the most out of day lighting.

Such a technique can also be used in homes because studies have shown that this can reduce the heating requirements by as much as 80% with minimal cost. This means you don’t have to turn on the air condition or heater that often and if everyone does that, we don’t consume that much electricity which we get from non-renewable resources.

The second approach which is active solar energy is the first way of converting sunlight into heat. You should know that there are certain limits to this one and all it can do is make sure you have hot water.

The third approach is the big scale version and it can power an office or an entire home. This is done with the help of solar cells that convert sunlight into electricity. The smallest ones around can be seen in calculators and watches with large ones planted over huge acres of land.

The only limitation to this green energy source is the fact that it can only generate power when the weather is good and the sun is out. Should it rain, then nothing is collected and converted. When this happens, the auxiliary system is turned on until the weather improves.

Despite that, scientists and students themselves have made solar powered cars. NASA or the National Aeronautical Space Administration has sent satellites into space that are powered by solar panels. A fully functional airport can function on its own thanks to solar power even if it is situated in the middle of the frozen desert.

So people can see the awesome power of solar energy, did you know a kilowatt of solar energy can produce 5.5 hours of electricity per day. If you have more solar cells in place, naturally you will be able to produce enough power to last several days.

Solar energy is just one form of green energy source around. Through the years, we have learned to tap other resources and these examples include wind power, geothermal energy, hydroelectricity and biogas. These are all safe and by using these more often, we don’t need to depend on oil which is a nonrenewable resource.

To make this happen, we have to persuade our law makers to promote the use of such resources. Although you hear speeches left and right about their concern for the environment, it is all talk and not that much action. It is something that has to change.

Two countries that have increased solar usage happen to be Germany and Japan. Spain, France, Italy and South Korea are next in the list and where is the United States? Well, one thing is for certain and that it is not in the top 10 despite the fact that it is an industrialized nation.

Go Green And Save Money

February 27, 2012 by  
Filed under Eco Green Living HQ

Everywhere you look these days it seems that the main message is, “go green and save money.” This is an appealing message for most people as we are constantly warned of the dire consequences of global warming out of control. People want to do their bit to help save the planet, and if they can save money at the same time, then it just obviously makes sense all round.

You can go green and save money just about anywhere. Your home is probably the most obvious place to start, but you can also do wonders with your car, in the office, out shopping, traveling on vacation, and much more. The opportunities are almost endless; going green doesn’t have to be more expensive, you can definitely go green and save money at the same time.

Your home probably leaks heat out during the winter and leaks heat in during the summer. For this reason most of us have winter heaters and summer air conditioning units. This should be the first place you investigate of how to go green and save money. Are all your windows tight? Are the door seals tight too? This is where heat can leak out and make your electricity bills soar.

If your house doesn’t have good loft insulation heat will pour out in winter and pour in during the summer. Insulation is one of the best ways to go green and save money. Your walls can have their cavities filled with insulating foam as well, all keeping the heat inside in winter and outside in summer for more comfortable living.

The water you use in the home is perhaps the easiest “go green and save money” source you have. Look for leaks first. Leaking faucets, even just the occasional drip, accounts for a lot of money wasted over time. You could waste as much as 140 gallons in a week!

Are your hot water pipes insulated? They should be if you aim to go green and save money. Insulated pipes let the hot water reach the faucets faster, thereby saving water, while you go green and save money too. Low flow toilets are another way to save water. You don’t need to flush gallons of water away every time, just what you need.

Edison was a genius, but his light bulb invention has been superceded by the new compact fluorescent light bulbs. These are bulbs that use a mere 25% of the energy that a traditional light bulb uses. They also last 10 times longer. Replace all your traditional bulbs for compact fluorescent light bulbs and instantly go green and save money!

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Why Is Hydropower A Green Energy Source?

February 26, 2012 by  
Filed under Eco Green Living HQ

Why is hydropower a green energy source? It is because we are able to harness electrical power by converting water into electricity.

The use of hydroelectric power or even hydroelectricity dates back to Ancient Greece and China when they installed waterwheels in rapidly flowing rivers to turn millstones and other equipment. Years later, this was used in the New World which is now known as North America to power saws and other equipment.

But the hydroelectric plants of today still use the same basic principles as the historical waterwheel with some variations. The difference is that we use the force of the power to push the turbine which in turn powers a generator thus generating electricity.

To make sure that there is a steady flow of power being produced, a dam has to be built to retain the water. If there is a need for more power, the gates of the dam are opened so water can be released. During non-peak, the gates are closed. To ensure there is water at all times, some dams have a recovery and pumping systems to the water released can be used again.

There are issues with the use of hydroelectricity. Some claim that it poses a problem for fish and aquatic plants on both sides of the dam. Because the flow of water has been altered, the nutrient rich silt which helps crops grow could be affected which is exactly what happened when the Aswan Dam was completed in Egypt.

But there are ways to fix that and the bigger picture is that power produced from hydroelectric plants do not generate any emissions or waste which happens to be much better than operating a coal-fired power plant.

There is another way to generate hydropower and you get this form the sea. This is also known as wave power or wave energy which uses changes in the air levels of sealed chambers to power turbines. When a wave rises into the chamber, the rise water pushes the air out which then turns a generator.

Once the wave goes down, air flows into the turbine and back into the chamber through doors that will close.

These chambers remain afloat on the ocean and how much power it produces varies. A lot of these are used on the western coasts of Scotland, northern Canada, southern Africa, Australia, and the northwestern coasts of the United States. These systems are usually small and can power a warning buoy or a small light house.

There is also tidal energy. The difference with wave energy is that when the tide approaches, the water is trapped in reservoirs behind dams. When the tide drops, the water behind the dam is released thus producing power similar to a hydroelectric power plant.

This can only work if you have tides that are at least 16 feet and since there are only a few places in the planet that can do that.

Lastly, you have ocean thermal energy. Here, you get power based on the different temperatures in the water. For this to work, you need at least 38 degrees Fahrenheit difference between the warmer surface water and the colder deep ocean water. Still in the trial stage, it is used Japan and Hawaii.

Hydropower is a green energy source. It is safe to use and what is even better is that it is renewable.

Ideas For Family Travel

February 25, 2012 by  
Filed under Eco Green Living HQ

Traveling with the family can be a joyous experience and there is no reason to leave your recycling attitudes at home; you can do your part even when you’re far from the comforts of home.

When you’re staying in a hotel or B&B, let the management of the hotel know that you will be reusing your towels and there is no need to have the bed linens changed daily. With a family, towels can get mixed up and there is an easy way to prevent that; from home, get a couple of safety pins and some beads. Put beads on the safety pins, one design for each family member and when you get to the hotel, simply pin each towel with a beaded safety pin to identify the different ones. Just reusing your towels for a few days will greatly impact the time and money that goes into running the laundry everyday.

Be sure to turn off all lights when you are leaving the hotel room, and any TVs or radios that may be plugged in and running. It’s easy to be distracted in a space that is not your home and it would be just as easy to forget the ways you conserve energy at home when you’re not there. If you find you leave the room with a light on, leave yourself a note right by the door, reminding yourself to check the lights before you walk out the door. There are some hotels that even do this for you, where they have a magnet that they leave on the door, at eye level, reminding you if you’ve turned off the lights.

Bring your own soap, shampoo and conditioner and leave the little bottles to be reused by guests who do not remember to bring their own. Soap travels really well in a plastic sandwich bag with a zip-lock and besides, wouldn’t you want your own choice of soap smells?

Along the same lines as remembering to turn out the lights, remember to turn down the heat/AC that will be running when you’re not in the room. And a further way to keep the room temperatures comfortable is to remember to close the drapes when you’re out of the room, most hotels have heavy drapes that will keep a cool room cool longer, if they’re closed.

Instead of leaving the light (and fan) on overnight, bring a little nightlight with you and you will save a lot by not running a rooms full light (and fan) on while you sleep. Have a permenant marker with you and assign one of the plastic cups to each person in your family when you arrive at the room. There is no reason to have dishwashing services when the plastic cups are sanitary and are perfectly capable of being reused. Avoid room service for the same reason, there is no need to have excess dishes to wash that would normally not be used. When you eat in the restaurant, they’re already doing the dishes there.

Remember that you can still have all the home values you practice at home when you’re on the road with your family. Keep recycling!

Planning a Green Christmas

February 24, 2012 by  
Filed under Eco Green Living HQ

The song tells of a white Christmas, but that refers to the weather and the Christmasy atmosphere that snow can bring. Planning for a green Christmas is all about being environmentally active and aware while saving money as well. In times of economic uncertainty that must surely be a good thing. And of course, if the weather brings a little bit of white covering too, then that makes a green Christmas perfect!

Exchanging gifts is a common practice at Christmas, and this is an excellent place to start our green Christmas habits. The gift wrapping paper sold in stores is usually not recyclable. Most of it is immediately thrown away to end up in landfills. This makes gift wrapping with store-bought paper expensive and very unfriendly to the planet – not what we want for a green Christmas.

A much better alternative, and one that close relatives will appreciate, is to use your children’s artwork to wrap gifts. You could also use your children’s comic books, or the comic sections of newspapers as a bright and colorful alternative, thereby recycling old paper. You can explain to the recipient of the gift in a positive way why you are doing this and perhaps make them feel guilty for not having a green Christmas as well.

It has been calculated by the Sierra Club, America’s oldest and largest environmental organization, that if every family in the country gift wrapped just three gifts by recycling existing paper they already have, the paper saved would be enough to cover 45,000 football fields. Now, that’s a green Christmas and a whole lot of trees saved too!

If you plan to hang a wreath on your front door. consider making one yourself. It’s easy and very environmentally friendly – and you’ll save money too. Go into the forest, or even a nearby park, and find evergreen branches and dried twigs. These can be wrapped in a circular fashion with cranberries strung together to add a splash of bright color. You’ll surprise yourself at how good you are, it won’t cost you anything but a little time, and the materials are all fully biodegradable. Your green Christmas can’t get much better than that.

There are many more things you can do to make this a green Christmas. Consider making your own cards, for example. Use your children’s artwork again – it’s perfect for this and grandparent will love it. You can use LED lights on your tree (which should be a real one that can be planted out later) and you will save 90% on your green Christmas electricity bill. If you start thinking about it I’m sure you will come up with other great ideas for a green Christmas.

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Go Green In Your Home – And Save Too

February 23, 2012 by  
Filed under Eco Green Living HQ

If you want to go green in your home, and save a little money at the same time, it’s never been easier. As the planet faces an uncertain future of global warming, which is believed to be the result of us all burning fossil fuels indiscriminately, we all have a duty to do the best we can to redress the balance. Here are some vital tips to help you get started…

Your home is where you spend a lot of your income, so it makes sense to be spending it as efficiently as possible. You can start to go green in your home by insulating the house. Loft insulation, wall cavity insulation, double or even triple glazing – it will all make a tremendous difference. Yes, there is an investment to consider, but you will save in the long term, and save a lot too.

We all use too much water. Go green in the home by cutting back as much as you can. We could all, collectively, save one billion gallons of water a year by changing our old flush toilet cisterns. The old ones use three and a half gallons per flush and the new high-efficiency ones use just over one and a quarter gallon. It makes a big difference! If you did only this to go green in the home you would save 20,000 gallons of water every year, and pay a lot less in water bills.

The standard light bulbs that most homes have are very inefficient. Compact fluorescent light bulbs burn around 5% of the old bulbs and they last 10 times longer. They may cost slightly more to buy initially, but this is an obvious way to go green in the home and save a bundle in the long run. But you can do even better, The new LED lights are almost twice as efficient as even the compact fluorescent light bulbs, and they will last even longer too.

Heat leaks out of a house in winter and into the house in summer. Better insulation all round is a great way to go green in the home. Look at your loft, your wall cavities, your windows and your doors. Sort out all of these and you can go green in the home and really save too.

Home utilities are a drain on energy. Did you know that modern washing powders are so good that they don’t really need hot water? your washing machine uses most of its energy heating the water, so wash your clothes cold. They will clean great while you go green in the home. You may think your dishwasher is also an energy drain, Strangely, it isn’t. If you use it fully filled it uses less resources than if you wash by hand. Once you know these little tips and tricks, it’s easy to go green in the home!

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Recycling At An Annual Festival

February 22, 2012 by  
Filed under Eco Green Living HQ

For the past 25 years the city of Frederick, Maryland, has hosted a street festival in the fall. This event draws 75,000 people who flock the streets to hear live music, enjoy children’s activities and purchase items made by local artisans. The event is lacking in only one area: the area of recycling. For all of its years in existence the festival has never had the means to take on the task of recycling its cans, bottles and paper.

Last year a senior at the local high school decided it was time for a change and she and her friends organized a booth and volunteered to go around the festival collecting glass, plastic and aluminum waste off to be recycled. Can you imagine that? High school students, volunteering to spend precious weekend time, collecting trash without personal motivation or gain, I was impressed when I heard that. How many people do you know that would put themselves out like that? I don’t know too many adults, let alone any teenagers who would take that challenge on.

This year, their 25th anniversary year, things will be a little different, due in part to the efforts of last year’s senior and her group of friends and volunteers. This year the Coca-Cola Company, who has a bottling location on North Market Street, nearby the festival site, will donate 20 recycle bins to be set up throughout the festival area. Plastic and glass items to be recycled will be taken to the county’s recycling location and the aluminum collected will be resold for a small fund-raising profit.

What was really impressive about this story was the self-less-ness in which these students acted. They didn’t do this because it would win them an award or a grant or money in some other form; they did this because it was the right thing to do. How many counties, cities and towns could be forever changed if the same example were set for them? This story is one of those great examples of what kind of change one person can make. It should be a testament to us all that if we just put the effort out there, step out of our comfort zones, and did something we know is right, the great changes that can be made are infinite.

In just this example, you have to figure the impact the recycling will have if even just a few of the participants take a moment to notice the recycle bins and instead of carelessly tossing their waste to where it will not be separated and recycled, they did the right thing and put their waste in the designated bins. Any efforts to change have to start somewhere and it is commendable that after 25 years, it was a teen who took on the challenge to start the change at this event.

One extra gratitude extended to this amazing student is that this year she has designed a logo that will be throughout the event that will symbolize the idea that the residents of Frederick, Maryland Recycle; she calls it, “Frederecycle.”

Common Solar Power Systems for Homes

February 21, 2012 by  
Filed under Eco Green Living HQ

Are you one of those homeowners who are dreaming of having solar powered homes? Perhaps you’re already familiar with DIY solar power kits. The idea may sound inviting however a lot of people are scared to create their own solar power system. Solar power is usually available in three kinds. You too can use any of these powers gradually.

People usually associate solar power with solar panels. But you see, solar panels are not the only source of power. You can choose among the several components known today. Take a look at these solar components that you can use at home.

1. Solar cookers – this is already a common way of using solar power. Some people may find the cooker slow in terms of performance but if you’re not rushing, you can surely cook on time. You can use the solar cooker to roast, bake, and boil. This is best suited for a small family with a maximum of 5 members. You will no longer need fuel since you will be using only sunshine. There are also no emissions or smoke.
2. Solar thermal systems – this is an ambitious system but it’s simply an update of the oldest known consumer technology. In this system, you will need solar panels. From the panels, the sun’s heat is transferred to a water tank. The water in the tank is heated. Your home can also be heated by putting some pipes. This was already available back in the 80s but it was rather expensive. Today, the thermal systems are more affordable and efficient.
3. Solar generators – many homeowners are now utilizing solar generators for alternative power. The generator makes use of photovoltaic cells where the power inverter is hooked. You can use the solar generators for your lighting system at home. The electrical power is stored in the batteries and you can use it later. By using solar generators, it would be possible to run some electrical appliances. If you have $200, you can already create the generator.

A wealth of information can be found on the net if you simply do your homework and look for useful info. By purchasing the DIY kits, you can create your own solar power system. There are also instructional materials available online that provide step by step instructions on how to create solar panels or cells. It would help a lot if you conduct a search online and read the step by step instructions there; that way, you can determine if you can carry out the project or not.

Solar power systems are not that difficult to create especially if you already have a considerable knowledge about it. All you will need to do now is to establish a workable budget so that you can start with the right project that you can afford. You can start with very simple solar power systems for your home like the solar generators. The generators are much more affordable and easy to make. After some time, you can now make more complicated plans like the thermal systems. Solar power for homes is an excellent alternative to those who want to save on electricity and help save the earth.

Don’t think twice and if you have the money to purchase the materials to make solar power systems, go for it. In the coming months, you will surely benefit from it.

Recycling and Today’s Teens

February 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Eco Green Living HQ

Recycling has been around longer than any of today’s young teens have been alive and maybe that’s why recycling has never been a question for them as to whether or not they should recycle but has always been more of a “How else can we help when recycling,” kind of thought process. My own generation, having grown up in the 70’s has a different mind-set. In fact, I have to remind myself the reasons we recycle, when to recycle and how to keep my family and household up-to-date and aware of the reasons to recycle.

This new, younger generation, is an impressive one, to me. They seem to be aware of humanity on a global level. Lessons they’ve been taught in school on a consistent basis have always had a common theme; take care of the Earth or we may lose it. They are keenly aware of how wasteful prior generations have been and seem to be of one mind when it comes to solving those problems.

When we recycle we are taking a step away from ourselves and begin to think about the Earth as a whole. It has become obvious to us that by recycling our waste we are going to be leaving less waste for future generations to have to deal with and we are taking an active step in keeping the planet ‘around’ for a longer period of time.

Today’s teens have inspired me by their dedication to helping others who have less than they do and how wasting any commodity or resource we may have, the idea of wasting it is simply not an option. They are forever coming up with new ways to reduce production of an item or they are constantly thinking up ways in which the item can be reused; they do this without needing to “think” about it, it’s the only way of life they’ve known.

There is an organization that has taken something many of us take for granted and figured out a way to pass on to those who are unable – to feel a little normal. Locks of Love takes hair donated by people and has that hair made into wigs for people who have had their hair fall out due to chemotherapy treatments or as the result of another disease or condition. How brilliant to think of those of us who grow our hair without thought or effort, to be able to have the privellige of helping another! It’s beautiful to me, how this new generation is always thinking about how they can help others.

There are two teens that I know of who took this idea of growing their hair in order to donate it, and dedicated this past summer to doing just that; and the week before school opened in September, sat together and had their hair cuts. What is remarkable about these two teens is that only one is a girl, the other, a young man knew there was a need for other boys his age to have wigs made for them and took on the challenge valiantly. Boys don’t have to have their hair quite as long in order to donate it, but it does have to be grown-out. My awe at teens like these two from town, who at such a volatile age, where self-image is so very fragile, would step out of their comfort zones of following the crowd, in order to do grow their hair long enough for it to be recycled and reused by others, is overwhelming. By stepping out of those comfort zones they leave themselves in a vulnerable situation, where they can become the targets for some of the ridicule that goes on in Middle school; and yet they still do it.

Maybe they are less likely to go against the idea of recycling because of the timing of their birthdates; it’s just refreshing to know that the idea of recycling is strong in this up coming generation and if we continue to foster that innate responsibility in them, we may just keep this planet around a little longer.

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