How Going Green Can Save You Green

April 6, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Green Family & Home

Going green is becoming more and more popular not only for the benefits to the environment but also for the money it can save. What does it mean to go green? Simply to reduce the carbon footprint that you have on the environment by making conscious decisions to use less energy and produce less waste. We are living in a generation that is tired of paying consequences for the irresponsible decisions of previous generations, and is committed to changing things for future generations. If you want to be a part of this growing movement and see the benefits in saved costs and reduced utility bills, you can start with some of these tips:

1) Slow it down! Driving at maximum speed limit and beyond might get you there faster but won’t help the environment or save you any money. Your car’s engine is designed to perform best at about 55 mph. Driving smoothly at close to that speed when appropriate without sudden accelerations or hard braking is the best way to reduce fuel emissions as much as possible and cut down on wear and tear to your car.

2) Keep your car in shape. Two things that you can also do to decrease the amount of gas you use and save money are to keep your tires properly inflated and the trunk free of extra junk. 20% of your car’s fuel consumption is used up to counteract tire roll resistance. Premium tires at optimal inflation get the best gas mileage. Extra weight in the trunk also causes your car to use more fuel to run. Get everything out that doesn’t need to be there and save gas money and pollution.

3) Get walking. For the least environmental impact of all, leave the car at home. Walking or biking to work or on errands is a great way to help the air stay cleaner, save money, and get healthier too. If you do drive, try to carpool when possible. The fewer cars on the road, the less pollution and the more money saved on gas.

4) Get a reusable water bottle. Think about how much money your family spends each year for bottled water. For the average family it’s over $1,000. Non-recycled plastic water bottles sit forever in a landfill because they aren’t biodegradable. An eco-friendly, cost effective thing that you can do is get a water filter for your tap or pitcher for the refrigerator and use it to refill a stainless steel bottle.

5) Use the internet. Reading newspapers online saves trees and subscription costs. Making purchases online saves pollution and transportation costs that would be generated from a trip to the mall. You can even pay bills online and save postage. Ask merchants that you make regular payments to if they have paperless billing available. Receiving your bills online saves paper waste. If you need to you can always print out a hard copy.

These ideas can get you started, but there are many other things you can do to live a green lifestyle at home and at work. It feels good to know that you are doing your part to ensure a cleaner environment for your children and grandchildren, and to enjoy the cost savings as well.

Green Gift Ideas for Dad

March 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Go green Gifts

Many families have committed to living in a way that supports a cleaner environment. If this describes your family and you are looking for some great gift ideas for the special man in your life, the following options are right in line with eco-friendly goals and ideals. There are grown-up toys and cool gadgets that any green dad would love and appreciate.

The High Tech Dad

For dads who love high tech gadgets, there’s great news. iPods, and MP3 players are excellent green gadgets. Apple follows solid eco-friendly values. The great thing about iPods is that they give dads the ability to download songs from iTunes. iTunes has a great variety of songs, new and old, and Dad will no longer have to buy complete albums to hear his favorites. This saves money and waste. MP3 players provide portability, so he won’t have to use the computer to burn CDs either.

Music loving dads can listen to tunes with the iPod on the go, by attaching to a sound or car stereo dock, or on the computer. They can even be taken on a run or to the gym with the attachment of an arm band made specifically for that purpose. Some fancy athletic shoes even have the capability of being synched to iPods or MP3 players in order to monitor exercise activity. It doesn’t get much cooler than that. For extra green impact, solar power chargers for the MP3 make a great gift purchase.

The Outdoorsy Dad

Green gadgets abound for the outdoorsman, especially those that love camping. One such gadget which can really come in handy is called the Forever Flashlight. This flashlight powers up when you shake it. It works like this: shaking for just 30 seconds moves a magnet in the flashlight over a coil, generating electricity for as much as five minutes of power. It requires no bulbs or batteries and is completely waterproof. There are also many different varieties of solar lanterns or flashlights. If left outside and exposed to sunlight during the day, they will be ready to go with power to light at night. Solar power has been put to use in other camping gadgets as well, including radios, cooking ovens, and computer chargers.

The Physically Fit Dad

Any dad that likes to work out knows that it’s important to stay hydrated. However, plastic water bottles are terrible for the environment. No matter how fit he is, plastic water bottles will outlast him in a landfill because they aren’t biodegradable, and the plastic can leach chemicals into drinking water that are potentially harmful. Fortunately, there is a great eco-friendly alternative. Sigg or Klean Kanteen are manufacturers of sporty reusable bottles. Klean Kanteen offers a line of various sized stainless steel bottles with different lid options or attachments. Sigg bottles are aluminum with a lining of inert epoxy inside. Both brands are sleek, attractive, healthy, long lasting, and environmentally friendly.

Any of these products would be great ideas to show dad how much you care about him and support his concern for environmental issues at the same time. Many gadgets and toys coveted by dads everywhere can be eco-friendly.

Green Ideas for Mom

March 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Green Ideas for Mom

Green Ideas for Mom

A mom’s work is never done. If she already teaches green family values, including how to conserve energy and recycle, what more can she do? Children learn by what they see lived out. There are plenty of opportunities unique to mom for her to reduce her environmental impact and develop eco-friendly habits that will contribute to a cleaner planet. If you are a mom, learn some of these tips for your own personal use that can end up making a big impression on everyone around you.

Swap and Second Hand

Moms who are smart can make great purchases for the home without spending too much or buying new products that cost our planet energy and resources. An eco-friendly, economical alternative to department store shopping is buying second hand at thrift stores or garage sales or by swapping items. Swap groups are cropping up in many different communities so that moms can meet together to swap gently used clothing or household items they no longer want or need for ‘new to them’ items to enjoy.

There are also book swaps available online. For a modest joining fee, you can list books you no longer want so that others can request them. You have to send them to new owners, but you get the same opportunity to request books that you want. It is an eco-friendly way to reuse resources and cut down on waste.

Reusable Shopping Bags

Most moms do most or all of the grocery shopping, and can’t even count how many times they’ve been asked, “Paper or plastic?” Those who care about the environmental impact of the answer to this question won’t choose either one. It is becoming environmentally smart and trendy to go to the store with reusable shopping bags. Because they are made from nylon or sturdy canvas, they are stronger and roomier than store bags and can hold much more. For convenience and ready availability, they can easily be kept in the trunk of your car. Such a simple habit can save thousands of bags from ending up in a landfill and prevent the pollution produced when plastic bags are manufactured.

Alternative Menstrual Products

Disposable pads and tampons are convenient for menstruating women, but not for our landfills. There are actually eco-friendly alternatives for these products that serve the same purpose.

Absorbent cloth pads are available in comfortable fabrics such as hemp or cotton. They usually come with a waterproof lining underneath to protect clothing. Many moms who have used cloth pads even find their comfort preferable to disposable. And the financial savings is considerable.

Menstrual cups are another alternative product. Worn internally, they are reusable cups to collect monthly flow. Because they are reusable they are environmentally friendly, and they are also comfortable and easy to use and clean.

Green Cleaning

Green moms know that mainstream cleaning products are filled with harsh chemicals that can be unsafe for the family and the planet. Homemade cleaners can be made with natural ingredients such as lemon, baking soda, and vinegar, and get the same results. There are also more and more green cleaning products available commercially with safe natural ingredients.

All moms can add these habits to their everyday routine to set a green example for their family, save money, and feel great.

Green Travel Ideas

March 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Eco Tourism, Featured, Hybrids

When you go on a vacation, you can still keep your commitment to reducing your impact on the environment. There are plenty of ways to incorporate green ideas into fun travel plans and not only enjoy your vacation but feel good about it. Green living means that you strive to reduce your impact on the environment, not give up on living altogether.

If you use your car to go on vacation, keep it maintained and in the best working order possible. For minimum environmental impact, keep oil changes and tune ups up to date, stay off of the road during rush hour when at all possible, and maintain the air pressure of your tires.

For commuting or long distance travel, the best choice environmentally is the train. Many tour companies offer guided train tours in multiple countries. These are especially convenient if your plans are to explore a widespread area or over a long distance. To reduce waste and save money at the same time, you can bring packed lunches and reusable bottles on the train.

If you have plans to travel by airplane, research air carriers and travel options. Plane travel releases massive amounts of carbon into the environment. But there are actually programs available that help you offset the impact by allowing you to purchase carbon credits or by planting trees. There are also some websites such as that offer tools to calculate your air travel footprint and offset it accordingly. Pack light and choose your luggage carefully. The heavier the cargo, the more fuel the plane will use because it has to work harder. Also do your part to reduce waste on flights by refusing the packaged peanuts and plastic cups and using your own reusable bottle and pre-packed snack.

When choosing the destination for your vacation, there are greener alternatives to choose from. The great outdoors always provide fun recreational opportunities for families, such as hiking, backpacking, and camping. Just reinforce the conviction that you always leave the area exactly like you found it. If it came with you, it must go with you, and nothing is taken but photographs. Enjoying nature is a great way to strengthen your family’s resolve to treat the planet respectfully. While you’re there, use solar power gadgets to lessen environmental impact. Flashlights and ovens are both available in solar power versions where outdoor equipment is sold.

If the great outdoors is just not your cup of tea, rest assured. Hotels and resorts are increasingly getting into the act of going green. Some have programs established to save energy, conserve water, recycle waste, and serve local foods. The relatively new but rapidly growing ecotourism industry keeps adding new lodges, inns, bed and breakfasts, and rental condos all over the globe and for every travel style, all dedicated to a cleaner environment. Not to be outdone, some car rental agencies are offering hybrid vehicles with better energy efficiency for your green use.

For your next trip or family vacation, consider some of these ideas. You can maintain green goals and ideals and have a great time with just a little forethought and planning.

Teaching Kids to Think Green

March 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Kids Go Green

We live in a culture of convenience that doesn’t teach a lot about consequences or environmentally responsible living. Our children won’t learn these values by accident. We can teach them at home how to be responsible citizens and aware of the impact they have on the planet they live in. While the consumer-driven media might seem to be against what we want to instill in our children, the best thing is to teach by example. Children will learn what they see lived out, and they all can understand we want our earth to be clean, green, and around for generations to come.


Children can be taught from a very early age the importance of conserving water and electricity. It can be fun to build a cistern to collect rain water together. Water that is captured when it rains can be used to water plants inside.

Get your children involved when you put clothes on the line to dry. Teach them how the sun can help dry the clothes and save a lot of energy that the dryer would use.

You can teach them to only use the water to rinse when they’re brushing their teeth and not leave it running. And to turn off lights and appliances when not being used. Entertainment electronics such as DVD or CD players, TVs, and video games can be plugged into a power strip and turned off with one switch when done. Little signs can be placed around the home to remind them to make sure things are turned off when they leave the room.


Kids can really get into helping with your family’s recycling process. They need to know why we recycle and what can happen to our environment if we don’t. Label bins for your kids to help sort recyclable waste into, such as aluminum, glass, plastic, cardboard, etc. Make it one of their weekly chores to sort items and take them to the curb for pickup or go with you to the local recycling center. That can be a great place for them to see the big picture of how much can be recycled by just one community.

Another great idea to teach kids is to buy products made from recycled materials so that they can see the benefit of post-consumer recycled content products firsthand. There are many products that are made from recycled materials, including paper products and even children’s toothbrushes.

Second hand toys and clothing can be just as good as new, but just need to be recycled so they can be enjoyed by new owners. Buying gently used second hand items can save you money and the planet energy and resources needed to manufacture new. Many US cities have a great online program called freecycle, which allows people to post gently used items they no longer need so others who do need them can find them. All they have to do is arrange to pick them up. It’s great for the environment, and all free.

Teaching our children to conserve and recycle can make a great impression on them. How great it would be for it to be second nature for them to think of how they impact the planet in everything they do. It all begins at home.

Biomass – Eco-Friendly Renewable Energy

March 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Biomass, Featured

When most people think about renewable energy, they think of solar or wind power. Hardly anyone thinks of biomass, yet it’s one of the oldest forms of renewable energy for heating. Biomass is simply organic material made from plants or animals that is currently alive or recently dead. It doesn’t include fossil fuels, because their material has been dead and removed from the carbon cycle for so long that it can’t be adequately replaced. Biomass fuels provide about 3 percent of the energy used in the United States.

For renewable energy purposes, think of plant matter. A common example of renewable energy biomass is burning wood. Up until a century or so ago, the primary home heating source was wood. Today it is still used. Many homes have wood stoves, or the newer eco-friendly and economical wood pellet stoves. Since this biomass is plant matter, it can always be re-planted as it is used, and is therefore renewable. With responsible use, our supply of plant biomass never need run out.

Because burning biomass releases carbon dioxide, it is part of something called the carbon cycle. Carbon from the air is converted into biological matter through photosynthesis. Through death or burning, carbon re-enters the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. When plant biomass is used as fuel, the carbon dioxide released into the air can constantly be replaced with replanting, as new plants absorb carbon dioxide. The result is a neutral effect on the environment if every plant burned is replaced with a replant.

Though plant biomass s a great form of renewable energy, biomass can also come from animal matter, or even organic garbage. You don’t even have to use combustion to release the energy of biomass. It can also release energy by being converted to methane gas or transportation fuels like ethanol and biodiesel. Crops like sugar cane and corn can be fermented to produce the transportation fuel, ethanol. Biodiesel can be produced from leftover food products like animal fats and vegetable oils. Methane, the main ingredient of natural gas, is released in landfills, and from agricultural and human waste. Its global warming potential is much higher than that of carbon dioxide. By collecting methane from biomass and using it to produce energy, it could actually reduce the harmful greenhouse gases that lead to global warming.

A great advantage of biomass fuel is its versatility. While solar or wind power has to be used immediately or stored in batteries, biomass that is converted to gas can be stored for use in burning or heating. It also can be converted to liquid to fuel cars, or a briquette similar to charcoal. In this way it is a renewable energy source that has the ability to be stored up like traditional fossil fuels, without the adverse affects on the environment.

As fossil fuel prices rise and their supplies come closer to being depleted, there is likely to be increasing research into renewable energy sources, including the green, convenient use of biomass fuel. Aside from the environmental benefits, using biomass for energy can cut back on waste and support agricultural products grown in the United States.

Hydro Power–Go With the Flow for Clean Energy

March 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Hydro Energy

Water, water everywhere…Did you know that about 70% of the earth’s surface is water? If it were possible to use our planet’s amplest resource to power our homes and our cities, we would never have to worry about running out. The good news is that water has been used to produce power for centuries. In fact, before electricity, hydropower ran mills and machines through the use of the paddle wheel. It comprises almost 75% of all renewable energy use in the United States today. And there are more and more applications of hydropower in research and development for the future.

Along with being completely renewable because of our plentiful resources, hydropower also allows us to generate power without pollution or waste. To be fair, some environmentalists have concerns with possible changes to natural habitats around hydropower plants. For example, the creation of the Hoover Dam disrupted spawning grounds and upset the upstream migration of salmon. Dams can harm river ecology, including native vegetation and fish because it changes the physical and chemical dynamics of the habitat. However, the problems can be addressed by mitigating harmful effects, such as by barging young salmon around dams.

Though it may seem complicated, hydropower works somewhat similarly to wind power. Water movement through a pipe generates power to push blades, which spin to produce electricity. This system can be run on rivers by using the force of the current for power. Or it can work through a dam system, as with the Hoover Dam. With this system, water pools in a reservoir because of the dam and is released as electricity is required.

The use of hydropower isn’t confined to rivers. The mighty ocean’s power can be put to use through such applications as tidal stream power, tidal and wave power systems. In areas with a wide tidal range between outgoing and incoming tides, tidal power turbines can work to generate electricity. Tidal power systems like this have been in use since the 1960s, and have been continually used since then in France. Tidal stream power works somewhat the same, but uses energy from continuous currents. It is a newer technology that is in the research stage and shows great promise.

Wave power, also in the research stage and showing promise, may have even greater potential for generating power than the tides. Devices to harness wave power can either float on the waves or be turned by the waves when air is displaced. Attempts have been made to harness wave power since 1890, but we still haven’t reached the ability to develop widespread commercial use of the technology.

Without a doubt, hydropower appears to be a promising source of energy for the future, as it is renewable, sustainable, and can generate power without pollution or waste. Although there are ecological concerns with interruption to life around hydropower plants, research is still being done to find ways to mitigate those problems. All in all, it just might hold the key for our planet’s energy production needs well into the future.

Wind Power: Could it Work for You?

March 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Wind Energy

Did you know that the wind that blows away your garbage cans can be put to good use to run your home? And that using wind power in place of traditional fossil fuels can decrease your energy bills by as much as 95%? Wind power, harnessed through turbines, provides a clean source of energy that is inexpensive as well as safe for the environment. Wind power is renewable, since there is no danger of running out. Any electricity generated by a wind turbine and not through wasteful fossil fuels is a boon to all of us.

A wind turbine is simply a hollow pole or metal tower featuring three sizeable blades on top. As the wind moves the blades, electricity is created. If you’ve ever considered installing a turbine for your home energy use, you should keep in mind that they are tall, noticeable, and not always aesthetically pleasing, so if you have close neighbors and not a lot of land, it might not be a good option. But if you have plenty of space and live far from populated neighborhoods, turbines might be worth considering. If you’re worried about them making too much noise, you can rest assured. The blades constantly spin, but the noise isn’t substantial. A wind turbine makes about the same amount of noise as a clothes washing machine.

Residential wind power users clearly need to live where there is wind all year long. This includes close to 17 million homes in the United States, according to a recent census. Also, the average wind speed needs to be at least 9 miles per hour in order for your turbine to be worth the investment. Wind maps are actually available for purchase that can reveal whether or not your home is located in a spot where wind power turbines are feasible.

Normally, residential wind turbine users need to have both the wind turbine and the utility company hooked up for energy coverage when there isn’t enough wind. Whereas with a solar energy system there are batteries to store extra electricity to use later, wind power turbines don’t have batteries to hold excess. However, when it’s very windy and more electricity is produced by the turbine than needed, excess can be purchased back by the electric company. It all adds up to environmental and economical savings.

Aside from harnessing wind power for personal residential use, it can be used on a much grander scale, to power entire cities, towns, or even countries. Usage of this magnitude requires the creation of wind farms, comprising several turbines over open flat areas and connected to a grid in order to produce electricity for multiple homes. Wind farms can be relatively small, with only a few turbines, or very large with more than 900. Most turbines are 80 feet tall at a minimum, well above anything that could get in the way of the blades. Hawaii boasts the largest turbine, which is 20 stories tall and has blades that are as large as football fields.

Whether for residential or municipal use, wind power provides a clean, renewable energy source. Converting wind power into energy is a great way to be kind to the environment and save money on energy bills.

Buy In Bulk – Reduce Waste

January 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Go Green Guides, Reduce, Reuse & Recycle

For large families, buying in bulk makes a lot of sense. It saves costs and trips to the grocery store. But did you know that it’s good for everyone, as well as the environment? Consider that in the U.S. a third of our garbage is made of up of just product packaging. Most things that we buy are over processed and over packaged to get our attention. Start paying attention to items and brands that have less packaging and spend your money wisely. It can save you money, reduce costs, and reduce your household trash output significantly, contributing to a greener planet.

The first thing you need to do is change your mindset when you go to the store. We’ve been programmed by an aggressive marketing industry to pay for convenience. Single serve packaging is convenient, right? Carry it, use it, throw it away. But what is the true cost of this convenience? Our landfills are quickly running out of space, and someday soon we might be completely out. Decide that you will no longer pay for convenience if it means increased packaging. When you do buy packaged products, look for materials that can be used again or recycled. And when at all possible, buy in bulk.

Buying in bulk just means buying multiple items in one package. Warehouse stores are known for selling items in bulk for economical shopping. Even if you don’t have a big family, here are the three main reasons why it makes sense for everyone:

1. Cost Savings: When many items are packaged together, the manufacturer doesn’t have to spend as much to process and package them, and the savings is almost always passed on to the consumer. Bring a calculator with you to the grocery store and compare bulk item per unit costs to single item costs. You might be surprised how big the difference can be.

2. Waste Savings: Simply put, less packaging means reduced waste. Think of everything that is needed to ship an item from factory to distribution center to store and keep it fresh – foil liners, cardboard, boxes, plastics. It all adds up to major garbage output. When you buy bulk items, there is usually less to throw away.

3. Time and Space Savings: Let’s face it. We all want to recycle, but it takes time and effort to get all of those materials cleaned sorted, and dropped off. Buying in bulk not only cuts down on disposable waste, but also the amount of items you have to recycle. Your recycle bins won’t fill up as fast, and you will have more space in your garage or your home. Another great time savings from buying in bulk is that you don’t have to go to the grocery store as often for non-perishable items. Less trips to the store means less transportation costs and pollution, and more free time.

If you ever thought buying in bulk was just for large families and businesses, you might need to think again. It can help your family to live a green lifestyle and save money, waste, time, and space.

Tips to Help You Reduce Household Waste

January 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Reduce, Reuse & Recycle

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, most American families throw away about 29 pounds of garbage per week, per family member. That comes out to 1,600 pounds per person each year. Landfill space is at a premium, and at the rate we’re going we’ll soon have nowhere else to put all of our waste. You might be surprised at all of the little things you can do to keep your garbage output lower. Less waste means a cleaner environment, and cost savings for your family as well.

- Recycle. Never throw recyclable materials away. Just about every community has a recycling program or facility. Recyclable materials include plastics, glass, cardboard, aluminum, and newspaper. If your community doesn’t have a recycling program, why not see what you can do to start one? There are government grants and incentives available for communities that want to go green.

- Reuse. There are plenty of new uses for things that would otherwise be thrown away. For example, save those plastic grocery bags and use them to line trash baskets. Use glass jars and plastic containers to hold leftovers. Old clothing can be made into rags. Plastic bread bags can be used to hold a packed lunch. The list is endless with a little bit of creativity.

- Say no to disposables. Though they might be convenient, disposable items contribute an amazing amount of trash to our landfills. Wash and reuse plates, cups and flatware instead of buying disposable. Use cloth napkins instead of paper.

- Buy minimally packaged products. Did you know that around 30% of all of our trash is just from product packaging? It’s impossible to avoid packaging altogether, but look for packaging materials that can be reused or recycled. The easiest materials to recycle are paper, aluminum, tin, and some plastics. Look for the recyclable seal on all packages.

- Buy in bulk. This goes hand in hand with looking for minimally packaged products. The more products in one package, the less packaging wasted. Besides that, you’ll end up saving money on your grocery bill too.

- Fix it, don’t throw it. Don’t throw something away that doesn’t work if it can be fixed. Repairing an item, even if you have to bring it to an expert, might be less expensive than buying a new one. Consider bringing ripped clothes or clothes that need to be hemmed to a tailor. Bring electronics that don’t work to your local electronic store and ask for a repair estimate.

- Give it away. Consider giving gently used items you don’t want or need anymore to friends or family members who can use them. If you don’t know anyone, charities, thrift stores and consignment shops all take gently used donations. You can even ask for a receipt so that you can put it towards a charitable donation tax deduction.

There’s so much at stake if we don’t find eco-friendly ways to manage our waste. We are all citizens of this planet and have a vested interest in keeping it clean and green. Helping to free up landfill space can be achieved one family, one consumer, and one decision at a time. Start to make your household greener with some of these tips today.