Green Goes Simple: The Green Scoop
What’s My Carbon Footprint?
By Alison Baenen for Green Goes Simple
Greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide emissions, fossil fuels … unless you’re an environmental policy wonk, an earth activist or an ecosexual (a new breed of online singles looking for sustainably committed partners — seriously!), it’s hard to keep all of today’s green-minded jargon straight. Carbon footprint — a phrase that has become as ubiquitous in pop culture as “LOL” — has a simple definition, but for the everyday person, understanding its parts takes some digging.
In short, our individual carbon footprint equals the amount of carbon dioxide we give off. You’re giving some off right now just by exhaling, but what concerns environmentalists are the emissions we release indirectly. Heating your home, driving a car and even buying a carpet (more on that later) all contribute to the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Of course, some carbon dioxide in the air is natural — and necessary, since trees and plants absorb it and use it for photosynthesis. But climatologists are concerned that we’re producing too much of it. The result is that carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, is trapping heat from the sun and sending it back to Earth, resulting in global warming.
It’s a big problem, but there are ways to reduce your own carbon emissions (carbon footprint sounds much cooler, right?), thus helping decrease global warming. Here are five easy ways to step lightly:
1. Change your bulbs.
Switch to compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). They last longer, use less energy and will save you money.
2. Take a walk.
Drive less, bike more. Your bod — and the globe — will thank you.
3. Warm up your windows.
Adding a layer of insulation to your windows will keep warmth in and heating costs down.
4. Reduce waste.
Cut down on what you throw away, and use reusable goods whenever possible. If you can, compost your food. Reducing household waste and putting energy back into the earth means less trash in landfills and more land to plant carbon dioxide-absorbing trees.
5. Go for small.
When it comes to rugs in your home, smaller ones require less energy to make. Perfect for your smaller footprint!
Alison Baenen is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn, N.Y. Her writing has appeared in Style.com, ContributingEditor.com, Epicurious.com and Concierge.com. In addition to editorial work, Alison is a copywriter for Theory, Gilt Groupe and PRPS. She is a frequent contributor to Green Goes Simple.
I have been using Method products for years now and recently I got invited to have lunch at their office. I heard about new products and got to hear more about the company’s mission. I was a fan of there’s before they treated me to lunch and gave me some samples of their new product, now I love them even more.
Products I have been using for a long time -
Method Laundry Detergent I LOVE the pump. If you haven’t tried this you really must. No mess and safe for the family. I have saved money since I started using this, 4 pumps per load.
Smarty Dish a non-toxic dishwasher detergent. This is the only dishwasher detergent I want to use, the unscented. Eco friendly, good for the fishes.
New Products that I love -
All-Purpose cleaner I just tried this product for the first time this week and it is amazing. I have the scent Clementine. It cleans like a you wouldn’t believe. So far I have used it to clean up finger paints, grease on the stove, crayons on the wall and it works like magic. They have a new technology called powergreen™. Powergreen™ is cutting-edge green chemistry that harnesses the strength of naturally derived, non-toxic ingredients to deliver a mighty cleaning punch. Corn-based cleaning salts bind to dirt to wipe it away, while coco oil derived surfactants remove grease and grime.
Mickey and Minnie hand soap in lemonade in strawberry fizz. My son loves these, so does my husband, they smell wonderful and make a great bath toy.
Method makes products that work, for us and the planet. They are always improving their products and discovering new ways to be more eco-friendly. And their design…well it’s the best in the business by a long shot.
For more information about Method and where you can buy their products – http://methodhome.com/
Last week I attended a luncheon to learn more about Smart Grids. In case you don’t know what a smart grid is it is a way for consumers and suppliers to monitor energy demands and reduce cost by being more aware of usage.
I think smart grid system are an awesome tool to help save energy and cost. I think the electric companies have an uphill battle with gaining the trust of many of their consumers. Many people fear higher costs.
Here are the key points that were discussed -
Why we need the smart grid.
Address our aging infrastructure
- Approximately 60% of the current electric power grid will need to be replaced within the next 10 years.
- Our current electrical grid is built on an aging infrastructure. The average age of a substation transformer is 42, which is two more years than their expected life span.
Save consumers money
- In some recent studies, consumers have been able to reduce their monthly energy consumption by 10-15%.
- There were 41% more outages affecting 50,000 or more consumers in the second half of the 1990’s than in the first half of the decade.
- These outages and interruptions cost Americans $150 billion annually – or $500 for each one of us.
- Increasing energy efficiency, renewable energy and distributed generation would save an estimated $36 billion annually.
- The Norman, OK school district saved $15,000 in just two months after implementing smart grid technology.
- Smart grid technology will reduce the need to build more fossil-fueled power plants while encouraging the use of renewable energy sources like wind and solar. This will also lessen our dependence on foreign oil.
- Implementation of the smart grid would reduce carbon from electrical power by 25% or roughly 10% of overall US CO2 emissions. This savings is estimated to have the same impact as removing 140 million cars from the road.
How smart grid technology allows you to take control of your energy consumption.
The smart grid empowers you by making the energy you use and the price you pay for it more transparent.
- The smart grid and smart meters show you how much energy you are using in your home from, day to day, and what it costs you.
- Because energy prices vary considerably during the day because of changing demand, you will soon be able to see the least expensive times to run your appliances, such as washers and dishwashers, which will mean significant financial savings.
The current and future tools of the smart grid technology.
- You will soon be able to receive alerts via text, email, and telephone call as you move through the energy tiers towards higher costs for electricity.
- Smart meter technology will alert your utility company in the case of a power outage so they can restore your power faster.
- In the future you will be able to control the energy usage of the appliances in your home through chips connected to your home area network.
Learn more about Smart Grids here
I wrote this post after attending an informational luncheon on behalf of Silver Spring Networks and Mom Central Consulting and received a gift bag and gift card as a thank you for taking the time to participate.
By Cynthia Ramnarace for Green Goes Simple
“Mommy, you’re not saving the Earth.” Mira folded her 6-year-old arms at me as I cleaned the stove while the water ran idly in the sink.
She was right. I told her so and turned off the tap.
My kids — Mira and 3-year-old Miles — have turned out to be excellent ambassadors for the three R’s: reusing, recycling and reducing. They know that a pair of scissors, a rubber band and some markers can transform a paper towel roll into a fashionable set of binoculars. And when we’re out and about, we never toss an empty water bottle in the trash simply because a recycling bin is out of sight; Mira, for one, advocates bringing the plastic bottle home and disposing of it properly.
These are great first steps, but I’m continually in search of new ways to encourage earth-friendly activities around the house. After all, just last summer I still fielded requests to fill the kiddie pool daily, and I often caught a little one standing in front of an open fridge leisurely assessing its contents.
So I asked some eco-minded moms for tips on encouraging conservation and reducing waste among the younger set. Here’s what they said.
1. Enlist your kids’ imaginations.
Before you recycle a soda bottle, cardboard box or glass jar, ask your kids if they think there’s a way to reuse it. For inspiration, consider what Sheri Amsel’s kids created with a 2-liter plastic bottle. Amsel, author of 365 Ways to Live Green for Kids: Saving the Environment at Home, School, or at Play — Every Day!, helped them create terrariums filled with plants and the occasional small creature. They also used them to store marbles, rocks and action figures.
2. Give them responsibility.
Looking for the perfect starter chore for your young kids? Put them in charge of recycling. Let them decorate each bin — paper, plastic, glass — with pictures, stickers and designs. Then make a game out of recycling, suggests Morgan McKean, blogger at TheGreenChick.me and mother of 5-year-old Jamil.
“Gather several disposable items from around your house, hold them up in front of your children and ask, ‘Recycle or trash?’” says McKean. This teaches kids about recycling, but it also shows them how much waste winds up in the garbage bin. And that might spark ideas for ways to use less!
As kids get older, they’ll outgrow sorting games like this one. Amsel suggests putting older kids in charge of collecting the redeemable recyclables. Their incentive? They can keep whatever money they make at the recycling center.
3. Make it fun.
To get her 5-year-old son to use less water, McKean uses a game called Beat the Timer. Whenever he’s watering plants in the yard or using the shower or sink, McKean sets a timer and challenges him to finish before the buzzer goes off. “This makes water conservation fun and establishes a pattern for respecting water and our limited supply of it,” she says.
“The same can be done with the refrigerator door, I realized. Now my kids count to 10 once they open the door. If they haven’t figured it out by then, they get what mommy picks.”
4. Lead by example.
Last but not least, be a good model. “As much as we want kids to do it on their own, they really model after us,” says Amsel. “So if we reuse things and talk about why we’re reusing them, kids pick up on that.”
Cynthia Ramnarace is a freelance writer in Queens, N.Y. She is a regular contributor to iVillage.com and AARP Bulletin. Her work also appears frequently in American Baby and Kiwi magazines.
Planning a Green Vacation
By Rachel Bertsche for Green Goes Simple
I recently returned from a weeklong honeymoon. Aside from being in awe of Croatia’s breathtaking scenery, delicious wine and fabulous seafood, I was struck by the little steps my hotel took to be greener. We had to use our key to turn the lights on in our room, which meant we could never leave the lights on when we weren’t there. Brilliant! Also, the air conditioner only worked when all the windows were closed, so no energy was wasted. Genius!
The hotel’s green tendencies got me thinking about what I could do to increase the eco-friendly factor of all my vacations. Turns out you don’t have to sleep in a tree house to travel green. The International Ecotourism Society offers plenty of tips for making your trip safe for the earth, no matter if you’re booking a five-star getaway or a rustic trek.
“People think sustainable travel means really roughing it, but there are a range of options and a range of opportunities,” says Ayako Ezaki, director of communications for TIES. “You don’t need to be one specific kind of traveler, and you don’t need to be overwhelmed.” Follow these tips for a green vacation everyone will love:
- Before you book, call any hotels or tour operators you’re thinking of using and ask them if they have any environmental policies and if they employ local citizens. Find out if they have any eco-label ratings or have won any eco-awards.
- When choosing your method of travel, think about the hierarchy of transportation. According to TIES, air traffic is responsible for 10 percent of greenhouse gases worldwide. Coach buses are the greenest option, followed by trains, then cars. If you don’t have to fly, consider another mode of transportation.
- While you’re there, support the local community. “The key words we often use are ‘local’ and ‘authentic,’” says Ezaki. “Take advantage of the vast knowledge of the citizens by hiring local tour guides.” Also, skip souvenirs that may have been manufactured thousands of miles away and instead buy gifts made in the community.
- Once you’re home, write reviews and give feedback. “The tourism industry is reputation-focused, so what each traveler can tell a business is more important than you may think,” says Ezaki. “Your message as a consumer is saying, ‘I care about the environment; I want you to be greener.’ That alone will get people to implement change.”
Rachel Bertsche is a Web producer and journalist in Chicago. She’s written for publications including O: The Oprah Magazine, Marie Claire, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Outside and Fitness. She’s currently working on her first book, MWF Seeking BFF, which will be out in 2012. If you can’t wait, check out her blog of the same name.
This thought has crossed my mind a few times. See I have the curse. The curse of perfectionism. I don’t do green perfectly, duh right? Well every so often I have this voice in my head that says I am suppose to do it perfectly. Impossible.
Thankfully I have another a voice in my head(the voice of reason) that says “Hey, small changes do make a difference, keep it up!” That is what I believe in my heart. I believe that everyone of us can make a difference, everyday. Walking a little bit out of your way to recycle a cup or bringing your bag to the grocery store – these actions make a difference.
So I will keep this blog and I will keep composting, looking for eco-friendly products, bringing my bags when I shop, using my canteen, driving less, unplugging electronics not in use, buying local and organic when possible, and teaching my son to respect and appreciate the earth.