How to Stay Cool This Summer – Save The Earth & Some Cash
by Alex Pasternack for Treehugger
There are plenty of cheap, easy, and fun ways to beat the summer heat without beating the environment or your wallet. Green isn’t just cool: cool is green. Here are some tips on how to stay cool this summer:
1. Be a fan-atic – Instead of reaching for the AC, consider the ceiling fan. It uses dramatically less energy than an air conditioner, costs less to buy, is a breeze to install, and cools like a charm.
2. Consume the cold stuff – Take advantage of your fridge by filling up some spare bottles with water and keeping them in there. And keep one in the freezer for those extra hot days. Eat small, light meals, and foods high in water content, like fruits & vegetables.
3. Turn off the hot stuff – Switch off your computer and lights when not in use and forgo the oven if you can.
4. Keep it on the down low- Heat rises, so try to stay on lower floors of buildings. If you’ve got a stone or tile floor, wipe it off and lie down on it for a cool respite.
5. Let in the breeze– open the windows but keep out the heat with some white window shades or bamboo blinds. And don’t forget the old-fashioned conditioner: drench some sheets in water (or wash some clothes) and hang them over the windows to let the water evaporate in the breeze, creating a lovely cooling effect.
6. Take a cool shower – a great way to chill out fast and keep the air in your home cool too—and considering how quickly you may want to get out of it, a cool shower is also a great way to save water.
7. Plant some trees – If you live in a house, planting trees on the south and west sides of your home will provide enough shade in the summer (and wind blockage in the winter) to save you between $100 and $250 in energy costs annually, says a US Department of Energy estimate. Opt for deciduous trees, which shade in summer and allow light and radiant heat to pass through in the winter.
8. And if you must use the air conditioner. Remember to keep doors and windows closed to maximize cooling. Also make sure you’re using an energy-efficient Energy Star model, and clean the filter every so often so as to improve air flow. In addition, consider using an electric fan to supplement the AC, allowing you to raise the thermostat 9 degrees Fahrenheit higher to get the same resulting temperature–and saving up to 30% of your energy consumption.
Green is the New Black
Green is the new black. It IS possible to be fashionable and still be green.
Fact: If one million people washed their clothes in cold water instead of hot, we’d eliminate 250,000 tons of CO2 per year, and keep out clothes brighter.
Before Going Green:
The plastic wrapped over your cry-cleaned jacked isn’t the only danger sign—85% of dry cleaners use the chemical PERC, which has been linked to cancer and reproductive damage.
Nylon and polyester suck up fossil fuel during their manufacture. These synthetics are a fashion don’t—keep an eye out for recycled polyester instead, like Patagonia’s Capilene, or all-natural weaves.
Super soft and draping the body in the most flattering way, bamboo as a shirt fabric not only looks great, but does not require pesticides and is naturally regenerative.
When you buy handmade jewelry you’re supporting companies that don’t add pollutants to the environment in huge factory-scale quantities.
Denim is made from cotton, the most pesticide-intensive crop there is. Make you itchy just thinking about it! Keep on the lookout for new organic-cotton denim.
Though coffee sleeves are usually recycled, do ‘em one better by bringing your own chic, reusable sleeve.
Feng Shui is Green
Green is the feng shui color of renewal, fresh energy and new beginnings. In the feng shui theory of five elements, Green Color obviously belongs to the Wood element.
Green is very nourishing to your health, it calms your nerves and balances your whole body by bringing healing feng shui vibrations from Nature. When working with Green color in feng shui, it is important to have at least several different shades in order to maximize its feng shui energy effects.
A great way to bring color Green in feng shui is with actual plants that have lush green foliage. The feng shui color of growth and healing, Green should be freely used in the East, Southeast and South feng shui areas of your space.
From fresh spring color of the newly opened leaves to the strong Green of a mighty oak tree – there are literally hundreds of greens to choose from in your feng shui applications.
Study the Ba-Gua, the feng shui energy map of your space and bring the energy of renewal into your life with the healing feng shui powers of color Green.
Read the Label
If you want to be a responsible “green” consumer, you have to know what you’re buying. That means reading labels. Trouble is, some labels aren’t exactly reliable. But knowing which ones are legit is essential to ensure that the actions you’re taking will really change the game.
The sources of eco-labels showing up on so many products can either be governmental or private. Neither is a guarantee of authentic. Here is a rundown of some of the most common.
ENERGERY STAR This cursive logo has been a friend to consumer and industry alike since the EPA approved its first Energy Star product line in 1992. Starting with computers, the label now certifies energy-efficient appliances, cooling systems and even buildings. Reliability: Excellent
FAIR TRADE CERTIFIED More than a force for economic justice for the developing world’s small farmers. Fair Trade standards—handed down from an umbrella organization in Bonn German—encourage eco friendly farming methods and ban dozens of the most pernicious pesticides. Reliability: Excellent
GREEN SEAL Since 1998, this respectable standard for environmental responsibility achieves scientific rigor and public transparency by building consensus between stakeholders and industry. Green Seal certifies a wide range of products from paints to windows to lodgings. Reliability: Excellent
LEED A building graced with the coveted LEED (Leadership in Environmental Energy and Design) label conforms to standards reliability applied by the U.S. Green Building Council. The successful LEED labeling formula may soon extend to the healthcare industry. Reliability: Excellent
USDA ORGANIC The “organic” label gets slapped on many products that have not truly deserved it. (Let’s not even start with “natural” and “healthy” labels.) The USDA’s standard for sustainability produced, chemical-free food is one of the best available, but it gets criticized for failing to adequately define just how much ranging a free-range chicken ought to be allowed. Reliability: Good
SUSTAINABLE FORESTRY INITIATIVE The standards behind this label—created by the American Forest and paper Association—are about as strict as Mary Poppins. From lumberyards to paper mills, every certified timberlander is allowed the “prudent” use of forest chemicals like herbicide and 120-acre clearcuts. Wood-focused environmentalists prefer the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) stamp of approval. Reliability: Poor
Green Your Roof
A green roof is just a planted roof-whether it’s sod, a vegetable garden, or a complete woodland of trees and flowering shrubs. A well-planted roof absorbs solar radiation and CO2, decreases storm-water runoff, provides valuable insulation, gives shelter to a few animals who dig the altitude, and gives passengers in low-flying planes an admirable view.
Green roofs are particularly effective in cities, where the combination of buildings absorbing solar heat and the buzzing cauldron of people, cars, and air-conditioners creates a “heat island effect,” raising local temps by 10%.
The sun’s heat doesn’t get trapped under a green roof, as it does with a regular tar roof; instead, a significant portion of the heat energy contributes to plant growth or gets reflected rather than trapped in the city. As a result, in any locale, green roofs slow heat gain and loss, putting less “load” on your heating and cooling systems–and less load requires less energy and results in fewer CO2 emissions.
Green roofs can take a thousand different forms, but their structure is basic: a waterproof layer over a standard roof, topped with drainage materials, soil, and, finally, the plantings, which vary from region to region. (New, modular systems let you create a green roof from pre-made blocks, greatly simplifying construction.) Your green roof might be a thin layer of grass, or an ornate, Dr. Seuss-quality extravaganza. (You’ll want to make sure your roof can handle the weight.) A landscape architect can help make sure your vision of an urban jungle comes true.
Harvest the Sun
If you think going solar is too complicated or too costly, you must live under a rock. Actually, unless you really do live under a rock, there are plenty of ways to add a little sun power to your life without overtaxing your brain or your bank account.
When residents of Portola Valley, California, near the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto, saw Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth, they decided the time had come to go solar. But rather than individually buying and installing photovoltaic (PV) panels on their roofs, they banded together as a community collective—and got themselves a bulk discount of about 30%. Now the owners of 78 homes have enough solar energy to cover about 90% of their household electrical needs every year. That’s not just a huge reduction in fossil-fuel dependence; it also means tiny electrical bills—and hundreds to thousands of dollars in savings each year.
The houses are still connected to the power grid, meaning their lights and computers won’t go black during a week of summer rain. But the rest of the time, the houses are powered primarily by the sun.
The Portola Valley homeowner’s association president dreamed up the Collective Power Program with a local solar company, Solar City, which now offers similar programs in other California cities and plans to roll out programs in five other states in 2008.
The price of solar systems is coming down, though a set of rooftop panels can still cost thousands of dollars. The next generation of PV will put electricity-generating solar cells in films, which can then be embedded in all sorts of flexible materials. Soon, solar will be embedded in virtually anything, from shingles and windows to the top of cars, with every bit of solar power displacing electricity produced from fossil fuel.
Solar power’s costs are predicted to match coal’s by 2010-get your roof ready.
Choose the Right Bag
The average American family of four tosses out about 1,500 plastic sacks a year, and each one can take up to 1,000 years to decompose. That’s quite a legacy. Most of these bags aren’t biodegrading; the plastic just breaks up into tinier bits until it leaches into the soil or water. It’s not hard to connect the dots between plastic bags and fossil fuels either. The bags are manufactured from crude oil and natural-gas derivates, to the tune of 12 million barrels per year.
Paper bags are bridgeable, which counts for a lot but the energy, chemicals, and water – not to mention trees – consumed in making them amount to an even bigger drain on the environment. And then the bag is used once and thrown away.
Paper or Plastic? The Answer is neither! Skip the in-store moral dilemma and Bring Your Own Bag. Whether you prefer hemp, organic canvas, nylon, or cotton, when you B.Y.O.B., you’ve done the right thing. Better yet, look for a reusable bag made out of recycled materials. Click Here to buy reusable bags
Green Facts –
• If one million people switched to reusable bags, we’d eliminate the need for one billion plastic bags. • There are an estimated 500 billion to one trillion new plastic bags used every year. That’s as many as two million per minute. • 14 million trees were cut down in 1999 to supply the US with paper bags.
Creative Wrapping Ideas Turn old jump rope, dish towels, newspaper, and more into great gift packaging
By: Real Simple
1. Wrap Wine Bottles with Dish Towels – Transforming a bottle of wine into a gift. Reality check: A crinkly Mylar bag makes a wine bottle look like it came from outer space, not from the heart. By wrapping a bottle in an attractive dish towel (or linen napkin, fabric remnant, or piece of craft-store felt) tied with a nice length of ribbon, you can turn the perfunctory hostess gift into a proper holiday — or any-day — present.
How to Do It: Place the bottle along one side of the fabric so that the bottle’s top meets the top of the fabric. Fold up excess material at the bottom over the bottle, forming a pocket of sorts. Then roll it evenly and secure at the neck with ribbon.
2. Use Jump Rope as a Bow – Tying up a child’s present. Jump-start a trend in the next round of kids’ parties.
3. Tie Up Gifts with Ponytail Holders– Sealing up gifts with a twist of the wrist! Your presents present well without your having to master the fine art of bow tying. Plus, this “bow” can be recycled to keep Heidi’s braids from unraveling.
4. Wrap Presents with Newspaper– One-of-a-kind wrapping paper. Leftover paper of all kinds — wallpaper, old maps, last week’s Sunday comics — begs to be recycled as gift wrap. You’ll see: Almost any mundane printed matter is transformed by a big, shiny ribbon. Use a copying machine’s enlarger function to make much of small things. Choose a dictionary definition to suit the occasion: love for Valentine’s Day, shamrock for Saint Patrick’s Day, ageless for an anxious friend’s birthday. Photocopy the page onto an 11-by-17-inch sheet of paper (if possible) at the highest magnification, repeat as needed to increase the word size, and squeeze in the choice part of the definition. When the boss catches you wasting paper and toner, offer to run off a set for her wedding anniversary.
5. Greeting Cards as Gift Tags – Last year’s holiday and birthday cards may be too pretty to throw away, but they’re probably not meaningful enough to keep. Cut out hearts, flowers, or any other whimsical illustration from the card’s cover, avoiding handwritten notes on the opposite side, and stash them with your ribbons and wrapping paper. It’s not re-gifting; it’s recycling.
6. Use Old Calendar Pages as Gift Wrap – Gift wrapping. Personalize a birthday present by taking a page from that month and circling the special day. No naked gifts, and no outdated wall hangings.
Cut Your Energy Costs
By: Real Simple
Program your thermostat to turn heat down or air-conditioning up when you’re out. If your furnace is more than 10 to 15 years old, or your boiler is more than 20 years old, replace it with a model approved by the federal government’s Energy Star program (marked by rating stickers in stores). It will pay for itself in energy savings in 5 to 10 years.
Seal your house: Close the fireplace damper; install a timer (available at hardware stores) on the bathroom exhaust fan; seal ductwork.
Cool your home naturally: Open windows on cool summer nights. Use energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs (they emit less heat). Hang washing out to dry, and grill food outside. Install window awnings. Plant deciduous trees on the east and west to shade your house and cool it by as much as 20 degrees.
Install an Energy Star–certified ceiling fan (50 percent more efficient than others) and comfortably keep your home four degrees warmer in the summer.
Consider switching to a natural-gas water heater (which uses less than half the energy of an electric one), and turn the setting down to 120 degrees.
Potential Savings: About $500 a year.
Green Point: If one household in 10 bought Energy Star–rated heating and cooling equipment, the change in greenhouse-gas emissions would be equivalent to taking 1.5 million cars off the road.
Recycling 101 By: Michele Gastl
Here’s how to do it right wherever you live, plus what all the numbers on containers mean Fact: Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours. So, yes, it pays off. Here’s how to do it right wherever you live.
- Collect newspapers in a paper grocery bag or in tied bundles, depending on your community’s guidelines, and set them out on pickup day. (It takes up to 75,000 trees to produce one Sunday edition of the New York Times.)
- Don’t recycle wet cardboard. It can clog sorting machines. Throw it away to keep it from contaminating the rest of the load.
- Don’t recycle bottle tops; they’re not made from the same plastic as recyclable bottles. But if you forget, don’t sweat it. They’ll be sorted down the line. (The energy saved by recycling one plastic bottle can power a computer for 25 minutes.)
- Rinse cans, but crushing isn’t necessary. The aluminum can is the most recycled item in the United States, as well as the most valuable. It can be recycled again and again, and so efficiently that a can is regenerated and back on the shelf in as little as 60 days.
- Don’t fret if you can’t get the lime out of the beer bottle or the last of the peanut butter from the jar. The recycler’s machinery will zap all contaminants. But do empty and rinse glass jars and containers.
Get Lost In Nature Remind yourself what it is you’re trying to save – nature.
There are still about 1.8 million square miles of unexplored rainforest in the Brazilian Amazon. Nearly one-quarter of the Earth’s land is mountains waiting to be climbed. There are almost 600,000 miles of coastline—much of it untouched—and millions of square miles of glorious desert waiting to be crossed. The Grand Canyon continues to take pretty much everyone’s breath away.
Wherever you go deep into nature, you’ll reacquaint yourself with its spectrum. The color blue—that sky, that water. Also, greens are nice. Same goes for purple, yellows and browns. Ditto the reds and oranges. Oh, and the smells—the air…
There’s a beautiful world out there. Hank Thoreau had to write about it. Ansel Adams had to photograph it. John Denver had to sing about it. Yes, nature shows look incredible in HD, but there is nothing in the world like the real thing. Get up off the couch and get out there.
Ways to reconnect with the outside world:
- Watch a sunrise, don’t stare!
- Explore a forest, hear the crunch underfoot.
- Stand at the edge of a large field.
- Go for a dive or hike.
- Take your shoes of and walk on some grass.
Befriend Your Farmer
A few short years ago, farmers seemed on the way out. Even though every kid still grows up playing with plastic tractors and watching happy livestock on children’s television, the cool little farms themselves—green fields, red barns, clucking chickens—seem to be disappearing.
Turns out, your local farmers are important global warming fighters, not relics of the past. Farmer-to-consumer markets are cutting out fresh food’s middlemen—as well as the emissions created by the packaging, shortage, transportation and chemical needs of mass agriculture production. For global warming fighters, the most offensive element is fossil fuel: big agriculture is dependent not only on gas-hungry equipment and transportation, but also on nitrogen fertilizers derived from natural gas. In the U.S. agriculture is responsible for 7% of annual greenhouse gas emissions.
At farmer’s and green markets around the world, producers bring their goods—from organic vegetables and fruits to farm-made cheese, preserves and meats—directly to market. Even more convenient are Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSAs), which deliver produce direct from the farm each week. You get the freshest foods, and the farmer gets a secure, regular customer.
Not only does buying direct from farmers put food on the table with the least possible carbon cost, it also supports and strengthens rural economies, protects bio diversity and fosters a sustainable Earth. Plus it teaches kids that strawberries don’t grow in plastic containers at the big box store.
Share the Driving
Feel a twinge of guilt every time you drive solo? It’s easy to give your conscience and the planet a break. Share your ride. The average commuter burns 340 gallons a year, creating a 3.4 ton cloud of CO2. Ride with one extra passenger and you’ve cut that figure in half. Find one more and you’ve cut it by two-thirds. About 10% of of American workers carpool every week. ’Poolers can qualify for discounts of up to %20 on insurance-not to mention drive in carpool lanes-and your employer may offer sweet incentives like free parking, shortened workdays, salary bonuses, and even cash awards.
Here are five easy ways to drive green without buying a hybrid car:
• Upgrade your motor oil. Some of the newer high-performance motor oils have been proven to significantly reduce emissions. It also improves fuel economy by as much as 5 percent and produces notable horsepower and torque increases. So you can switch to an environmentally friendly product (such as Royal Purple motor oil) without giving up performance.
• Avoid topping off your gas tank. Topping off releases gas fumes into the air and cancels the benefits of the pump’s anti-pollution devices. Capping your tank once the pump automatically shuts off is safer and reduces pollution.
• Keep the tires of your vehicle properly inflated. The U.S. Energy Department reports that under-inflated tires can increase fuel consumption by up to 6 percent. Astonishingly, we could save up to 2 billion gallons of gas each year simply by properly inflating our tires.
• Regularly replace your air filter. A clogged air filter can increase fuel consumption by as much as 10 percent. Air filters keep impurities from damaging the interior of the engine, so replacing dirty filters will save gas and protect your engine.
• Simply follow the maintenance recommendations in your owner’s manual. An out-of-tune engine can increase emissions and fuel consumption by as much as 15 percent. Always follow your car manufacturer’s suggested tune-up schedule to ensure your vehicle is performing at its best
To learn more, visit the following Web sites:
www.liveneutral.org — The Web site of LiveNeutral, a grassroots, nonprofit organization created to stop global warming
www.epa.gov — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Web site
www.fueleconomy.gov — The U.S. Department of Energy’s Web site, dedicated to issues related to fuel economy FC07A988
Reuse the News
Next time you head to the recycling bin with a big stack of newspapers, remember that even though recycling paper may be the oldest green technology in the world—the Japanese first started re-pulping there wastepaper in 1031—it’s still not the most efficient
Paper can only be recycled three to five times before its fiber break down; each trip to the pulper only delays its ultimate date with a landfill. Because of the unpleasant fact that paper products are the number-one thing we throw away, it’s time to start thinking about how to get more uses out of them. The goal: slow down the fiber flow. Haste really does create waste.
Here’s A Start
PROTECT FRAGILE PACKAGES Instead of crushing your next shipment of collectible shot glasses in bubble wrap, which is petroleum-based, or Styrofoam packing peanuts—they cam languish in landfills for hundreds of years—use bunched up ball of newsprint instead.
STUFF IT IN YOUR SHOES TO KEEP THEIR SHAPE It’s ecologically better than using shoe trees made out of wood. Newspaper is also a deodorizer.
BURY IT Layered newspaper, covered over with mulch, slowly converts a patch of crabgrass into a bed or prime potting soil. For best results, water down the mulch and then let everything sit for a few months. When you return, you’ll have a perfect place to plant your geraniums. You can also add bits of shredded newspaper to your compost heap.
- 67 million tons of paper are used by Americans each year.
- If we recycle one million more pounds of newspaper, the trees we’d save could absorb 125,000 of CO2 per year.
Some of us find paying bills soothing. The signing of the checks, the scribbling of the return address, the choosing of just the right stamp. It’s time to snap of it, pen pal, and enter the modern world of online bill paying. Look at your bills this month. More than likely, every single one has a paragraph begging you to pay your bill online. Online transactions save companies money they’d otherwise be spending on paper, printing and postage. That’s their angle. Yours is saving the world for future generations. The cost of fuel and CO2 for one bill is tiny, but it adds up. By one estimate, if each U.S. household viewed and paid its bills online, we would save more than 29 trillion BTU’s of energy and reduce 1.7 billion pounds of waste a year.
You can arrange individual payments at the companies’ web sites, or centralize the process by setting up online banking at your local financial institution. Your bank may charge for the service, but most utilities do not.
405,00 tree are felled annually to make the paper required to send everyone in America their phone bills.