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49 posts from July 2008

July 24, 2008

What Would You Do For a Free Ride?

Gas_hands_thumbnailHigh fuel prices are driving some folks cuckoo for free gas. A Florida man has promised to name his child after local radio station hosts in exchange for a $100 gas card, reports Reuters. In Texas, $100 worth of gas was reportedly stolen from a church day care center. Gas card give-aways have been used to attract blood donors (the American Red Cross), reward church attendance (St. Ann's Parish in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts), and entice patrons to frequent a Nevada brothel.

Considering that people will steal, bleed, pray, and make new friends for free gas, how far would you go for a greener freebie--a train or bus ride?

Continue reading "What Would You Do For a Free Ride?" »

Green Your Pool -- Swimwear

Woman_pool By this time of year, last summer's swimsuit may be showing signs of wear. Try these tips for ensuring a long-lasting suit, putting a ratty one to good use, and finding greener designs when it's time to start fresh.

Make it last: Soak your swimsuit in plain water before jumping in a pool to minimize the amount of chlorine it absorbs. Rinse again when you're done splashing and then hang it to dry. REI advises against wrapping suits in a towel for the trip home (it can trap chlorine in the fabric), and recommends hanging them upside down, out of the sun.

Continue reading "Green Your Pool -- Swimwear" »

July 23, 2008

Trees vs. Solar

Redwoods_istock_000005499705xsmal_2Trees scored the latest victory in a years-long feud between Silicon Valley neighbors. On Tuesday, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law a bill that allows trees to shade solar panels without penalty, as long as the trees were planted before the panels were installed. The bill was created in reaction to a December court ruling that Richard Treanor and Carolynn Bissett had violated the "Solar Shade Control Act" by refusing to cut or trim the redwood trees that were shading the solar panels their neighbor, Mark Vargas, had installed on his roof and on a backyard trellis.

Feeling torn between two green choices? Go ahead and support both sides, like State Senator Joe Simitian, who said, "I was frustrated by the tone of the debate at the outset--that it was somehow about trees versus solar. I thought it should be about trees and solar."

Continue reading "Trees vs. Solar " »

Green Your Pool -- Towels

Puppy_towels Pool and beach towels are traditionally made from cotton--a crop that accounts for one quarter of the world's insecticide use. If it's time to replace your old towel, keep it out of the landfill and go for greener options.

Out with the old: Summon your crafty side to give worn out towels new life as dog toys or batting for a baby quilt. Alternatively, donate them to an animal shelter for drying off damp paws and lining kennels.

In with the new: Bath Sheets from Rawganique use organic cotton, while Nandina makes Pool Lounge Towels with fast-growing bamboo, organic cotton, and low-impact dyes in a wind-powered factory.

Do you have ideas for reusing old beach and pool towels? Share them here.

July 22, 2008

Help Me Hoof It, Google

Yesterday, if you needed to know how to get to that cool new restaurant in town, you could have turned to Google for driving or (in some cities) public transit directions. What? Walking would be faster, healthier, cheaper, and--yes, we have to say it--greener for this trip? Then you should have searched for your street map, compass, and social skills (nicely asking a human being for directions sometimes does the trick).

That was then--this is now: Google Maps has just added the option to get walking directions. The feature is in beta release, so you might find some bugs, but it certainly beats car-centric directions for those traveling on foot. For now, calls for a Google Maps 'Bike There' feature like New York's Ride the City site remain unanswered.

How much (if any) responsibility do you think Google has to provide information about different transportation options?

The Green Nightlife

Dancing_club_thumbnail Bad news for wallflowers: at eco-nightclubs, not dancing is a waste of energy. New energy-generating dance floors allow clubbers to create power by getting footloose. Dancing isn't the only way to lighten your club footprint. If your favorite green beer is on tap, skip the bottle. A study published in the International Journal of Lifestyle Assessment claims that draught beer has a 68% lighter footprint overall than bottled beer. Keep the number of empty cups to a minimum by avoiding the bar when the music gets too loud. Researchers from the Universite de Bretagne-Sud in France found that in a bar setting, loud music leads to more drinking over a shorter period of time. Reduce your drinking footprint even more (and avoid problems with the law) by not driving home--we're pretty sure that the "but the loud music made me do it" defense won't fly in court.

Sources:  Green Daily, Reuters, Science Daily, Economist, Treehugger

Green Your Pool -- Cover Up

Swimming_pool_boy Splashing around in a pool can be a guilty pleasure this time of year. Sure, there's a drought, but it's hot! We've gathered tips to help you minimize poolside waste this week. If you don't have a pool at home, share the eco-pool love with someone who does.

Fast fact: Covering a pool can reduce pool heating costs by 50 to 70 percent.

Solution: Keep the pool covered whenever it's not in use. This offers the biggest savings in dry or windy conditions, which allow major heat loss from evaporation. For an indoor pool, covers put a damper on humidity and permit less reliance on energy-sapping exhaust fans.

Exception: If you use the pool only at night in a hot and humid climate (where less heat escapes through evaporation), letting the sun strike a pool uncovered during the day can mean lower heating costs.

Share your tips and ideas for keeping an eco-friendly pool or throwing a green pool party.

July 21, 2008

Carl Pope on Colbert Report

He has campaigned for president, launched a righteous fight against cute bear cubs (they're mini-threats!), and now, ladies and gentlemen, Stephen Colbert will sit down for a chat with Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope. Watch the green sparks fly on Comedy Central tonight at 11:30p / 10:30c.

What would you like to hear Colbert and Pope talk about?

Update: Watch the video (above) of Monday's Colbert Report episode with Carl Pope.

Green Your Pool -- Plant a Windbreak

Swimming_poolSplashing around in a backyard swimming pool can be a guilty pleasure this time of year. Sure, there's a drought, but it's hot! Maybe a cool dip will even keep you from burning up extra energy with A/C working overtime. We've gathered five tips to help you minimize poolside waste this week. If you don't have a pool at home, share the eco-pool love with someone who does.

Fast fact: An average outdoor pool loses nearly 90 percent of its heat from the water surface, most of it through evaporation.

Continue reading "Green Your Pool -- Plant a Windbreak" »

July 18, 2008

Weight on a Plane

Airplane_movie_istock_00000333598_2What weighs about 500 pounds and doesn't belong on a plane?

Turns out, it's your in-flight movie.

U.S. Airways plans to remove in-flight entertainment systems on domestic flights in November. Ditching the heavy screens should save the company an estimated $10 million annually in fuel and other costs. We're all for traveling light to save fuel, but a long trip can seem pretty dull without some form of entertainment.

So after you've explored talking, sleeping, and looking out the window (three light-weight sources of fun), consider how four popular boredom-busters rate on the weight scale:

Travel lighter by sharing magazines and books with your companions. To share movies or music, bring an earphone jack splitter and two sets of earphones.


Sources:  Associated Press, Ecorazzi

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