Monthly Archives: December 2009

Top Green New Year’s Eve Party Tips

Beat the crowds
There’s a certain excitement to being out in a group on New Year’s Eve, but if you stay home and host your own ring-in-the-new shindig, you’ll save transportation emissions—and, of course, money. You’ll also be able to better control the environmental impact of your night, from sending out email invitations to preventing the food and paper waste that comes from bars and restaurants. (Oh, and you can let your friends crash so no one has to drive.) Even the Times Square ball is a little greener since switching to LED bulbs in 2006—isn’t it time you were, too?

Choose glass over paper
Once you’ve decided to have everyone over for the big event, you’ll have to find a way keep them all fed and hydrated—without ending up with a pile of wasted plastic cups. Look for brands made from recycled paper—like those from Treecycle who makes biodegradable dishes and cups from sugarcane fiber—and make sure you compost those after the party. Even better, if you don’t own enough china and glassware for all your friends, rent some: they look nicer, they’re reusable, and you still won’t wake up to a sink full of dishes. Check Rental HG to find a rental location in your area.

Satisfy the appetites
Your guests will need some food to counteract the effects of all those drinks. Keep it simple with a spread of easy appetizers, homemade salsa or hummus, and fresh fruit and vegetable trays-with organic ingredients grown as close to you as possible (preferably from within 100 miles can help you track down a farmers market or community supported agriculture program in your hometown or, if you live in parts of the world where markets close for the winter, you can order online from Local Harvest’s vendors—you can buy some carbon offsets to balance out the shipping expenditure. And you don’t have to spend your entire year-end bonus, either—your party can be festive and fun without breaking the bank.

Pour some green drinks
Get your guests in the party spirit with a bar well-stocked with eco-friendly cocktails—whether it’s organic vodka mixed with juice from your local orchard; beer from the brewery one town over; or biodynamic wine. Or make your own: Our How to Go Green: Cocktails guide offers recipes for easy DIY gin and ginger ale, plus specialty drinks like a Lemon Drop or a Rusty Nail, which tastes way better than it sounds, we promise.

Decorate responsibly
This is the year you can finally forego those plastic 2009 glasses, the cheesy top hats, the disposable noisemakers, the paper streamers. Try making your own decorations out of recyclable materials, from soda can lanterns to plastic bottle snowflakes; for a more elegant look, put together centerpieces and place settings that are stylish and eco-friendly. Skip the throw-away noisemakers and replace them with nutshells in a can or cardboard tube, or with dried beans rattling around inside two stapled-together paper plates.

Toast with organic bubbly
Champagne has long been the drink of special occasions, whether anniversaries, wedding receptions, or job promotions. Raise your glass to ’08 with champagne and sparkling wine made from organic grapes and without synthetic additions-then make sure to recycle (or reuse!) your bottles and send your corks off for reuse in Design Within Reach’s chair design contest or for recycling through Korks 4 Kids.

Pucker up
What’s New Year’s Eve without someone to kiss at midnight? Keep your lips soft with all-natural lip balm, like those from Revolution Organics or J.R. Watkins, and banish bad breath with organic breath mints from St. Claire’s. Still single? No problem. Dating sites like Green Passions, Green Romance, and Planet Earth Singles will have you watching the ball drop with a fellow treehugger in no time.

Cure the hangover
No matter how much fun you had the night before, spending all of January 1 feeling like death on toast is no way to start the new year. Start the detox with a blend of organic herbs and seasonings, like those in Lotus Root Cooler or Ginseng Licorice Tea. Drink plenty of water—but not from disposable bottles—and fight headaches with thyme or peppermint tea. Tea alone won’t help your body recover from last night; fill up on organic, free-range eggs, too, since they contain plenty of cysteine, which breaks down toxins in the liver. Other hangover helpers include bananas (for their potassium) and fruit juices (for their energy-boosting natural sugars and vitamins). Don’t depend on coffee, burnt toast, or more alcohol—none of these will help your body replenish its stores. Fried food, while delicious, is better as a hangover preventative—it slows down the rate of alcohol absorption.

Help keep food tradition alive (with a green twist)
Different cultures and regions each have their own version of a lucky New Year’s Day meal—black-eyed peas in the South, pork and sauerkraut for the Pennsylvania Dutch, 12 grapes eaten at the stroke of midnight in Spain. Other favorable foods include cooked greens, legumes, fish, and pastries or cakes. No matter which meal you choose, support local farmers and markets when you shop for ingredients, and choose free-range meat, organic fruit, and other natural supplies whenever you can.

Make some resolutions
Many of the same resolutions we make year after year—lose weight, eat healthy, stop smoking, get organized—aren’t just good for you: they’re also good for the environment. Read on for foolproof ways to do the Earth some good while (finally) sticking to your new plans.

By Blythe Copeland
Great Neck, NY, USA
Planet Green, A Discovery Company
How to Go Green: New Years


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The Wrap-up on Holiday Wrapping Paper

The Wrap-up on Holiday Wrapping Paper
by Desmond Williams, 12/26/09

You emailed your family and friends a link to Jill’s post on reusable wrapping paper alternatives. You wore your “Wrapping Paper Sucks!” pin everywhere you went for weeks before Christmas. Yet here you are, stuck with mounds of clawed, crushed and crumpled paper. Not to worry, below are 5 great ways to turn all that trash into shredded treasure.

1) RECYCLE IT: Before you do anything else, check your local recycling policy because ‘used’ paper is accepted in most city recycling programs. Shredding before recycling is one option, and if you have a manual shredder, you use no electricity.

2) COMPOST IT: Shredded paper is a great starter component for that vermicompost you always wanted to try, but which gave you the creepy crawlies. As one blog commentator wrote, “I use [shredded paper] in my worm composting bin. They love it and then the castings are great for the garden, house plants, even as a type of fertilizer for your yard.” Something to jot on your list of New Year’s resolutions.

3) STUFF IT: When shredded, gift-wrapping paper makes a great packaging tool. This of course means you would have to save the stuff for the next time you’re snail-mailing a delicate gift cross-country to grandma. You can also use it to return that sagging bean bag chair to its original, more rounded, shape.

4) MUSH IT: Make papier mache masks! What kid wouldn’t love his or her very own personalized mask? And it’s easier than you think. All that is required is equal parts flour, water and imagination. If the idea of a mask spooks your kid, make a papier mache bowl instead. Painted Fish Studio has a great tutorial.

5) PET IT: When minced into tiny bits, discarded paper makes great bedding for small pets. I’ve been doing this for over a year now, and our pet bunny couldn’t be happier. It does absorb less than store-bought bedding, does not contain deodorizers and so will require more frequent changes.

If all else fails, you can go the route of this resourceful recycler: “I stuff torn pantyhose and knee highs with shredded paper, spray with Febreze [or Mrs. Meyers] and stuff this into my kids’ stinky sneakers!” But I’d suggest a quick Google search first

The Wrap-up on Holiday Wrapping Paper
by Desmond Williams, 12/26/09

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Green Resolutions: Little Steps Toward Saving the Earth

New Year’s resolutions can benefit both individuals and the planet. Learn how to go green at the grocery store, at home and for the environment of the future.

Resolutions are often made by thinking about individual change. One pledges to lose weight, stop smoking or pay off debts in the New Year. However, resolutions can also be made for collective gain. Beginning January with resolutions to go green in simple ways contributes to reducing ecological footprints on the earth. In the process, by making green choices at the grocery store, around the home and in the world one will lose pounds, lessen pollution and even save money!

Greening the World
The best resolution to make for the earth is to use the car less or get rid of it altogether. Walk, bike, use public transit or car share. The emissions and money saved will be immense. Recycle much more than is thrown away and buy recycled or used products. Simply buy less. Ask if you really need this consumer item or not. Lighten expenditures and relieve stress. Make a contribution to an environmental cause like Greenpeace, the Sierra Club or the Rainforest Action Network. Choosing to try even a few of these ideas, one will start the New Year with resolutions that will benefit the environment we all live in.

Green Groceries
Many of us don’t live near an organic grocery store or have the space to grow our own vegetables. In Canada, fortunately, there are now organically certified items available at most grocery stores. Choose the recycled toilet paper, the biodegradable soap and the locally grown produce. Look for bird friendly, sustainably-grown coffee beans. Buy certain package-heavy goods in bulk to save on garbage. Live near a farmer’s market? Shop there in summertime. Bring canvas bags or a basket. Start a community garden and turn leftovers into rich-soil producing compost. Barbeque more than using the stove; it produces fewer harmful emissions. Better yet, eat raw for the highest level of nutrients. Vegetarian cooking is getting tastier and more varied all the time. Try for at least one meatless meal a week. Saves vital resources and helps one lose weight.

Green Homes
Enjoy showers more than baths, saving water with an efficient showerhead. Clothes get clean just as well in cold water, especially when using a biodegradable detergent. Speaking of cold water, avoid buying bottles of it; instead, install a tap filter and take a reusable thermos of it with you. Lower the thermostat a bit and get snuggly in sweaters, making sure the insulation lacks gaps through which heat quickly leaks. Making the house sparkle is easy with baking soda and vinegar mixtures; no need for Mr Clean! Replace lightbulbs with energy and dollar saving LED bulbs. Use re-chargeable batteries for toys, gadgets and tools. Steer clear of leaf blowers and weed eaters for yard work. A manual mower and a trowel does the job just as well, and gives one valuable exercise in the process.

Read more at Suite101: Green Resolutions: Little Steps Towards Saving the Earth

Dec 22, 2007 Catherine Owen

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Bolivia’s Glaciers Melt Away

Bolivia’s Glaciers Melt Away

Bolivia’s Chacaltaya glacier – once the “world’s highest” ski resort and a crucial source of water for millions of people – melted away in 2009.

The New York Times

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Good News From The First Solar Plant In Palestine

Palestine received their first solar thermal power plant completely in action on December, 2009.

The plant has been housed in Talitha Kumi School, Beit Jala. The main purpose of this solar plant will be to supply electricity for heating water and central heating of the rooms.
The school where this plant is homed is a pretty large building with hundreds of regular students, residential students, guesthouse for visitors and they cost a huge amount for utility charge.

The principal is happy because of the fact that the new solar plant will save them a lump some 20,000 euro every year. Moreover every part of the school will be on a regular supply of heat and water.

The new system will also reduce greenhouse gas by 57 tons every year that is emitted by the school.

This 200 sq. meter spread plant is a part of DENA’s (a German Energy Agency) solar project for foreign markets.

This organization builds solar roof plants around the world and spreads alternative power source consciousness among people. The solar power collectors are donated by Ferrostal, a German organization.

People around the world may be less aware of alternative power sources, but the students of Talitha Kumi are quite familiar with the facilities of solar energy. A group of students is taking care of the collection system of this solar plant.

They really should serve as an example.

December 21, 2009
The New Ecologist

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Off to the Races

I’ve long believed there are two basic strategies for dealing with climate change — the “Earth Day” strategy and the “Earth Race” strategy. This Copenhagen climate summit was based on the Earth Day strategy. It was not very impressive. This conference produced a series of limited, conditional, messy compromises, which it is not at all clear will get us any closer to mitigating climate change at the speed and scale we need.

Indeed, anyone who watched the chaotic way this conference was “organized,” and the bickering by delegates with which it finished, has to ask whether this 17-year U.N. process to build a global framework to roll back global warming is broken: too many countries — 193 — and too many moving parts. I leave here feeling more strongly than ever that America needs to focus on its own Earth Race strategy instead. Let me explain.

The Earth Day strategy said that the biggest threat to mankind is climate change, and we as a global community have to hold hands and attack this problem with a collective global mechanism for codifying and verifying everyone’s carbon-dioxide emissions and reductions and to transfer billions of dollars in clean technologies to developing countries to help them take part.

But as President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil told this conference, this Earth Day framework only works “if countries take responsibility to meet their targets” and if the rich nations really help the poor ones buy clean power sources.

That was never going to happen at scale in the present global economic climate. The only way it might happen is if we had “a perfect storm” — a storm big enough to finally end the global warming debate but not so big that it ended the world.

Absent such a storm that literally parts the Red Sea again and drives home to all the doubters that catastrophic climate change is a clear and present danger, the domestic pressures in every country to avoid legally binding and verifiable carbon reductions will remain very powerful.

Does that mean this whole Earth Day strategy is a waste? No. The scientific understanding about the climate that this U.N. process has generated and the general spur to action it provides is valuable. And the mechanism this conference put in place to enable developed countries and companies to offset their emissions by funding protection of tropical rain forests, if it works, would be hugely valuable.

Still, I am an Earth Race guy. I believe that averting catastrophic climate change is a huge scale issue. The only engine big enough to impact Mother Nature is Father Greed: the Market. Only a market, shaped by regulations and incentives to stimulate massive innovation in clean, emission-free power sources can make a dent in global warming. And no market can do that better than America’s.

Therefore, the goal of Earth Racers is to focus on getting the U.S. Senate to pass an energy bill, with a long-term price on carbon that will really stimulate America to become the world leader in clean-tech. If we lead by example, more people will follow us by emulation than by compulsion of some U.N. treaty.

In the cold war, we had the space race: who could be the first to put a man on the moon. Only two countries competed, and there could be only one winner. Today, we need the Earth Race: who can be the first to invent the most clean technologies so men and women can live safely here on Earth.

Maybe the best thing President Obama could have done here in Copenhagen was to make clear that America intends to win that race. All he needed to do in his speech was to look China’s prime minister in the eye and say: “I am going to get our Senate to pass an energy bill with a price on carbon so we can clean your clock in clean-tech. This is my moon shot. Game on.”

Because once we get America racing China, China racing Europe, Europe racing Japan, Japan racing Brazil, we can quickly move down the innovation-manufacturing curve and shrink the cost of electric cars, batteries, solar and wind so these are no longer luxury products for the wealthy nations but commodity items the third world can use and even produce.

If you start the conversation with “climate” you might get half of America to sign up for action. If you start the conversation with giving birth to a “whole new industry” — one that will make us more energy independent, prosperous, secure, innovative, respected and able to out-green China in the next great global industry — you get the country.

For good reason: Even if the world never warms another degree, population is projected to rise from 6.7 billion to 9 billion between now and 2050, and more and more of those people will want to live like Americans. In this world, demand for clean power and energy efficient cars and buildings will go through the roof.

An Earth Race led by America — built on markets, economic competition, national self-interest and strategic advantage — is a much more self-sustaining way to reduce carbon emissions than a festival of voluntary, nonbinding commitments at a U.N. conference. Let the Earth Race begin.

Published: December 19, 2009
The New York Times

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Nemo H2: The First Ecofriendly Electrical Boat

In a busy port like Amsterdam, where crowd and pollution is a regular phenomenon, discovery of a hydrogen fuel powered boat with zero pollutant emission must make news.

The Fuel Cell Boat Construction B.V has launched their new discovery, Nemo H2, the canal boat, on 10th December, 2009.

The new technique uses Oxygen and Hydrogen gas to mix and generate water and electricity that is stored in cells and later used to drive the boat. No air-polluting gas is produced this way.

It can store 24kg Hydrogen gas in each of its 6 cylinders under high pressure. Nemo H2 can sail on the canal with a maximum load of 86 people and 2 crew staff.

The wonder boat will ride at a speed of 8.6 knots/hour maximum and has an average endurance of 7 knots during a 9-hour journey.

From the coming spring tourists can enjoy a ride on this zero-CO2 canal cruise by paying some extra pence. This is because the manufacturers and owners (the Lovers Boat Company) need to meet the excessive cost of refilling Hydrogen fuel everyday.

However, they expect that with the advancement of modern techniques meant to ease using Hydrogen as a fuel, the costs will be lowered.

December 19, 2009
The New Ecologist

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