Monthly Archives: April 2010

The First Non-stick, Non-toxic Cookware Line

Most of us have non-stick cookware in our kitchens, and why wouldn’t we? After all it makes cooking faster and clean up easy peasy. But did you know by using traditional non-stick cookware we are putting ourselves, our families, and our planet at risk? And no, I am not referring to my cooking skills (or lack thereof)!

In order to make a pot or pan non-stick, the cookware is coated with chemicals during the manufacturing process. These chemicals known as PFOA (pertluorooctanoic acid) burn off and release toxic gasses into the air during the manufacturing process as well as every single time the pot is put on the burner or the pan in the oven! Studies have shown that these gasses have negative effects on both people and our surrounding environment. Kinda scary to think about huh?

Well there is solution, other than eating frozen dinners 24/7, and it is Ecolution! Ecolution is the first non-stick, non-toxic line of eco-friendly cookware – launched by Epoca, a leader in the cookware industry. Ecolution Cookware is made with Hydrolon – their exclusive PFOA FREE non-stick safer solution for healthy and eco-friendly cooking. Now with Ecolution, you can pretend you are a master chef in the kitchen without worrying about the harmful effects your concocting may have on your family or the environment!

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Filed under green living, Money Matters

H2Oil: exposing Canada’s oil industry

by apasolini on April 12, 2010

Source: H2Oil
Let’s start Monday with a trailer of a documentary about the plight of the people who live in the Canadian province of Alberta, where Big Oil is destroying the environment and depleting water supplies. It’s yet another reminder of why fossil fuel is a disaster for the planet and the all the living beings who inhabit it.

(From the film’s website):

Ever wonder where America gets most of its oil? If you thought it was Saudi Arabia or Iraq you are wrong. America’s biggest oil supplier has quickly become Canada’s oil sands. Located under Alberta’s pristine boreal forests, the process of oil sands extraction uses up to 4 barrels of fresh water to produce only one barrel of crude oil.

It goes without saying that water — its depletion, exploitation, privatization and contamination — has become the most important issue to face humanity in this century. At the same time, the war for oil is well underway across the globe. A struggle is increasingly being fought between water and oil, not only over them.

Alberta’s oil sands are at the centre of this tension. As the province rushes towards a large-scale extraction, the social, ecological and human impacts are hitting a crisis point. In only a few short years the continent will be a crisscross of pipelines, reaching from the arctic all the way to the southern US, leaving toxic water basins the size of Lake Ontario, and surface-mines as large as Florida.

H2Oil follows a voyage of discovery, heartbreak and politicization in the stories of those attempting to defend water in Alberta against tar sands expansion. Unlikely alliances are built and lives are changed as they come up against the largest industrial project in human history.

Ultimately we ask what is more important, oil or water? And what will be our response?

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Filed under Alternative Energy, Water

Sugarcane Ethanol Offers Clean, Affordable & Secure Alternative Energy

Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Launches Education Campaign on Fuel’s Benefits

WASHINGTON, April 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — As Earth Day approaches and Americans seek out environmentally friendly energy sources, the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) today launched an expansive national awareness campaign to explain sugarcane ethanol’s benefits. UNICA’s education campaign will include a new website, SweeterAlternative.com, online, print and radio advertising, new research and a high-profile partnership with the Indy Racing League.

“We hope the Sweeter Alternative campaign will help Americans understand how sugarcane ethanol is a clean and affordable renewable fuel that could help them save money at the pump, cut U.S. dependence on Middle East oil and improve the environment,” said UNICA’s Chief Representative in North America, Joel Velasco.

Sugarcane ethanol is a renewable fuel produced from sugarcane, which is grown in the United States, Brazil and more than 100 countries. Like other forms of ethanol, it can be added to gasoline and used in all American vehicles at blends up to 10 percent ethanol. The Sweeter Alternative education campaign will highlight three key benefits of sugarcane ethanol:

•Energy Security. Sugarcane ethanol is one more good option for diversifying energy supplies and improving U.S. energy security, so Americans are not reliant on any one source or country.
•Economic. Americans could save about a dollar per fill-up off the price of regular gasoline by expanding the use of sugarcane ethanol. At an average price of $0.50 less per gallon than corn ethanol, sugarcane ethanol is one of the least expensive renewable fuels available.
•Environmental. Sugarcane ethanol cuts greenhouse gases by at least 60 percent compared to gasoline – better than any other biofuel widely produced today. The Environmental Protection Agency confirmed sugarcane ethanol’s superior environmental performance earlier this year by designating it an “advanced renewable fuel.” This important category of biofuels will make up 21 billion gallons of America’s fuel supply by 2020, or about 15 percent of today’s gasoline market.

Most sugarcane ethanol is currently produced in Brazil, a South American country with a democratically elected government and a long-standing trade relationship with the United States. Brazil has replaced more than half of its gasoline needs with sugarcane ethanol – making gasoline the alternative fuel in that country. Many observers point to Brazil’s experience as a case study for other nations seeking to expand the use of renewable fuels.

“Unfortunately, Americans cannot fully benefit from this clean, less expensive alternative while Congress continues to maintain trade barriers against imported ethanol,” Velasco continued.

The U.S. government currently imposes a $0.54-per-gallon tariff on ethanol from most foreign countries, making sugarcane ethanol practically unavailable in the United States. By contrast, imported oil enters America duty free. The 54-cent import tax on ethanol will expire at the end of this year.

Last week, Brazil took an important first step to build an open and global biofuels marketplace by eliminating its tariff on imported ethanol through the end of 2011. UNICA is asking the Brazilian government to make the tariff elimination permanent if Congress will do the same and drop the U.S. tax on imported ethanol.

“Consumers win when businesses have to compete in an open market, because competition produces higher quality products at lower costs. The same principle holds true for the renewable fuels market where competition will create a race to the future and generate better alternatives for consumers. Americans will benefit from having the sweeter alternative – sugarcane ethanol – available as an option at the pump,” Velasco concluded.

The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) is the leading trade association for the sugarcane industry in Brazil, representing nearly two-thirds of all sugarcane production and processing in the country. UNICA’s priorities include serving as a source for credible information and analysis about the efficiency and sustainability of sugarcane products, particularly its biofuels. The association works to encourage the continuous advancement of sustainable practices throughout the sugarcane industry and to promote biofuels as a clean, reliable alternative to fossil fuels.

SOURCE The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association

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The Differences Between Clean Energy, Renewable Energy, and Alternative Energy

To many people, the differences between “alternative energy,” “renewable energy,” and “clean energy,” might not be obvious. But each term is unique and has its own individual definition. These three terms are not all exactly the same.

Alternative Energy

When we speak of alternative energy, we refer to sources of usable energy that can replace conventional energy sources (usually, without undesirable side effects). The term “alternative energy” is typically used to refer to sources of energy other than nuclear energy or fossil fuels.

Throughout the course of history, “alternative energy” has referred to different things. There was a time when nuclear energy was considered an alternative to conventional energy, and was therefore called “alternative energy.” But times have changed.

These days, a form of “alternative energy” might also be renewable energy, or clean energy, or both. The terms are often interchangeable, but definitely not the same.

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is any type of energy which comes from renewable natural resources, such as wind, rain, sunlight, geothermal heat, and tides. It is referred to as “renewable” because it doesn’t run out. You can always get more of it.

People have begun to turn to this type of energy due to the rising oil prices, and the prospect that we might one day deplete available sources of fossil fuels, as well as due to concerns about the adverse effects that our conventional energy sources have on the environment.

Of all the different types of renewable energy, wind power is one which is growing in its use. The number of users who have some form of wind power installed has increased, with the current worldwide capacity being about 100 GW.

Clean Energy

“Clean energy” is simply any form of energy which is created with clean, harmless, and non-polluting methods.

Most renewable energy sources are also clean energy sources. But not all.

One such example is geothermal power. It may be a renewable energy source, but some geothermal energy processes can be harmful to the environment. Therefore, this is not always a clean energy. However there are also other forms of geothermal energy which are harmless and clean.

Clean energy makes the less impact on the environment than our current conventional energy sources do. It creates an insignificant amount of carbon dioxide, and its use can reduce the speed of global warming – or global pollution.

As you can see, alternative energy, renewable energy, and clean energy are very similar. But it is important to know that there are differences.

There are many actions which can be taken, to help reduce the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Some of these steps can be taken in your own home. Many clean energy solutions can can be easily installed, and some kits are quite affordable.

Carbon emissions and other forms of pollution are not only created by heavy industrial factories. They are created in the common household as well. Energy efficiency has become an important aspect of our lives.

It’s important to start making changes now; if we want to save our planet for our children, for the flora and fauna of the Earth, and for the future of mankind. Clean energy, to be exact, can make a big difference.

Learn more about clean, renewable, and alternative energy forms at Alternative Energy.

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NASA’s Puffin: The Personal Electric Air Vehicle

Mark Moore, an aerospace engineer, is the person who dreamed about the Puffin. Puffin is a single seated electric powered airplane. Moore conceptualized the idea of electric aircraft for his doctoral degree. Operating it from your house is as simple as taking out your car from the garage. You can launch this aircraft from your own home because of vertical take-off and landing. Mark Moore is trying to combine the best feature of a plane and a helicopter into a hybrid known as the Puffin. The Puffin is not some abstract reality that is not going to take a concrete shape.

Moore is an expert in small aircraft flying system. He is working with NASA, MIT and the National Institute of Aerospace to turn Puffin into a reality. This electric aircraft would be 12-foot (3.7 m) long, and have a 14.5-foot (4.4 m) of wingspan. Puffin is already a hit in the Internet community. Moore himself tells the whole story, “The animation of the Puffin on YouTube has gotten more 648,000 hits in a week. Until the concept was mentioned in the media Jan. 19, the video had only been clicked on a couple of thousand times since it was uploaded to the NASAPAV channel last November.” The animation was created by Analytical Mechanics Associates graphic designers.

Another characteristic of the Puffin is it can take pilot up to 50 miles at a cruising speed of 150 mph. It’s also lightweight, totaling up to just 181kg when fully loaded with the batteries. But its greatest advantage without doubt is the zero carbon emission. The design would be powered by a total of 60 horsepower through electric motors, which are designed to be able to fail any two powertrain components on either side and still produce the required power to hover. It has a cruising speed of 150 mph (241 kph), but cruises more efficiently at lower speeds The range with current battery technology would be about 50 miles (80 km).

Moore draws the analogy between actual puffin bird and his own puffin. Puffin’s wings also look quite small for flying. Moore’s creation aircraft would also have small wings. He states another similarity between his bird and nature’s bird, “But it’s also apparently called the most environmentally friendly bird, because it hides its poop. So the vehicle is environmentally friendly because it essentially has no emissions. Also, puffins tend to live in solitude, only ever coming together on land to mate, and ours is a one-person vehicle.”

Puffin would be a hybrid of helicopter and small aircraft. Like a helicopter it would stand upright on the ground. Its tail consists of 4 legs that act as landing gear. It lifts off like a helicopter. When it hovers and leans forward to fly horizontally it gives the appearance of a hang-glider. Next step of the NIA will be to fly a remote control one-third size model. This experiment will enable them to validate theorems made in academic studies, with the particular emphasis on exploring the transition from hover to forward flight.

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Eco Tour: A Tour of Organic, Biodynamic Wineries

Pure Luxury’s blog has covered many events in Sonoma County for Earth Day 2010. Although the official Earth Day this year is on April 22, events span from this Saturday and Sunday to next week. As a Certified Green Transportation Company Pure Luxury decided quite some time ago to offer an Eco Tour for our clients who love wine and want to learn more about wineries with organic and biodynamic farming practices. Pure Luxury partnered with three Certified Organic and Biodynamic family-owned wineries in Northern California’s Dry Creek Valley for an unforgettable day of exploring California Wine Country.

The tour begins at Montemaggiore located on top of a mountain in Dry Creek Valley. Vincent and Lise Ciolino knew from the start that they wanted their wines to represent the beauty of their land. In order to accomplish this, they knew their land would be farmed in a natural way encouraging the soil, the bugs, the moon, and all of nature to work together. Their mountainside vineyard is tended without pesticides or other chemicals that can harm anyone working in the vineyard or the surrounding land and animals. Visitors enjoy the view, taste Montemaggiore olive oils and award-winning wines, and have the option of ordering lunch made with fresh, local ingredients including some from the Ciolino’s family garden. Their 2006 Paolo’s Vineyard Syrah received 90 points from Robert Parker reinforcing the ability of an organic, biodynamic winery to create world-class wines.

The next stop on our Eco Tour is a winery commited to nurturing their land to produce impeccable artisan wines – Quivira Vineyards and Winery. The staff at Quivira not only uses biodynamic farming practices, they have also been working for over 10 years to restore the creek that runs through their property. Quivira’s solar power system provides almost all of the electricity needs for the Quivira estate. Quivira’s estate includes a garden, a chicken coop, and Honey Bee hives. Tour the winery and the gardens then sip Quivira wines. The tour ends with a special gift from Quivira – a jar of Quivira estate honey.

The final stop on Pure Luxury’s Eco Tour is Porter Creek Vineyards. Walking toward the entrance to their unassuming and charming tasting room, visitors can see and smell the wysteria growing freely and draping the doorway. Porter Creek’s commitment to organic and biodynamic practices extends to the vehicles used on their property including trucks and tractors. Porter Creek uses organic vegetable oil and biodiesel, a vegetable oil derivative. Enjoy the expansive view of the vineyards while tasting outstanding Porter Creek wines.

Pure Luxury’s Eco Tour provides the beauty of Northern California’s Wine Country while educating about what local wineries are doing to care for their wines and the environment. Pure Luxury is proud to be a Certified Green ground transportation company, and proud to offer an experience not only available just for Earth Day but also for everyday.

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Aliz Eco-Luxury Yacht Proudly Goes Green

With eco-friendly superyachts increasingly marking their presence, it reflects the growing environmental consciousness of today’s sailors. So, to assist the sailing society to comply with green initiatives, designer Heather Witkop has come up with the Aliz yacht with solar panels installed to harness solar energy for its energy needs. This 145-foot luxury yacht features a master suite with 180 degrees of view, an outdoor lounge, wet bar and grill area along with the lounge/dining area on the main deck featuring a waterfall. Creating an overall connection with eco consciousness, the Aliz features a hydraulic elevator surrounded by a garden that changes from deck to deck, bringing a sense of life to the living spaces. Finally to keep the connection real, Aliz has a river flowing through on the upper deck along with the bar and lounge to keep the guests in groove. With its maximum cruising speed of 25 knots, Aliz can accommodate 12 guests proudly going green and sailing blue.

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Filed under Green Transportation, Luxury and Sustainability, Solar Power