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6 Green Back-to-School Tips

August 1st, 2013 | Posted by EnergyEarth in Green Tips - (0 Comments)

1. Take Inventory of Your Supplies. Before heading out to the store, check last year’s supplies for nearly-empty notebooks or extra pencils and erasers. Rip out used notebook pages and reuse it for a different class, redecorate old pencil boxes and refill old mechanical pencils with new lead rather than buying new ones!

2. Green Your Electronics. Computers, graphing calculators, printers, e-readers and many other school supplies these days plug in or run on batteries. Purchase rechargeable batteries and invest in a couple of smart power strips. They might be a bit pricier up front, but they are completely worth it. Rechargeable batteries can be used hundreds of times, while green power strips stop drawing electricity from electronics and appliances when not in use without any effort on your part – you’ll save money and have one less thing to think about!

3. Opt for Used Books. Save money and greatly reduce your impact by buying used, opting for ebooks or renting this year’s textbooks – some schools are even experimenting with online textbooks, reducing both your costs and strain on your backpack! Check with your school or university for easy used and rental options.

6 Green Back-to-School Tips {The Dirt on Green}

Photo courtesy of Flickr user bsabarnowl.

4. Green Your Commute. According to the EPA, school buses drive 25 million students about 4 billion miles every year in America – that’s a lot of fuel! To help make your daily trip to and from school more sustainable, join the EPA’s Clean School Bus Campaign and check to see if your child’s bus is a newer model that already meets higher emissions standards or an older bus that needs to follow stricter green standards.

5. Get a Reusable Lunch Box. Bringing a brown paper bag filled with baggies or pre-packaged snacks to school every day can add up to a lot of trash quickly. Invest in a lunchbox, reusable plastic containers, cloth napkins and a thermos to save money and eliminate nearly 70 pounds of trash each year (US EPA) – and don’t forget to lead by example and start bringing your own lunchbox to work, too!

6 Green Back-to-School Tips {The Dirt on Green}

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Mr Moss.

6. Sell and Swap Last Year’s Uniforms and Outfits. Every school year requires new clothes, but that doesn’t have to mean a shopping spree at the mall. Organize a clothing swap among your friends or pay a visit to local consignment shops and thrift stores you can pass on those too small tops and shorts to another grateful parent and your child could end up with a new favorite tee or hoodie. Even if your school requires uniforms, everyone will be just as happy to trade in their too small shirts, pants and skirts for “new” ones that fit!

—The EnergyEarth Team

Blob-Shaped Austrian Art Museum Kunsthaus Graz Generates its Own Solar Power {The Dirt on Green} Blob-Shaped Austrian Art Museum Kunsthaus Graz Generates its Own Solar Power {The Dirt on Green} Blob-Shaped Austrian Art Museum Kunsthaus Graz Generates its Own Solar Power {The Dirt on Green} Blob-Shaped Austrian Art Museum Kunsthaus Graz Generates its Own Solar Power {The Dirt on Green} Blob-Shaped Austrian Art Museum Kunsthaus Graz Generates its Own Solar Power {The Dirt on Green} Blob-Shaped Austrian Art Museum Kunsthaus Graz Generates its Own Solar Power {The Dirt on Green} Blob-Shaped Austrian Art Museum Kunsthaus Graz Generates its Own Solar Power {The Dirt on Green}

We love solar lights, so naturally, we love this solar powered art museum in Austria!

Located on the west bank of the River Mur in the historic center, the Graz Art Museum opened its doors back in 2003. Created as part of the European Capital of Culture celebrations, the one-of-a-kind building rapidly became a city landmark. Measuring 27,000 square feet, this massive building was designed for showcasing contemporary art exhibitions, new media displays and hosting events.

Far from your average art gallery, the Kunsthaus Graz is covered by thousands of semitransparent acrylic glass panels that form a “BIX Façade” (a combination of the words “big” and “pixels”). Designed by Berlin design firm realities:united, this oversize urban screen features light sources under its skin which are computer controlled and are used for massive displays communicating with its environment. While the glazed outer skin takes an important mediating role, it also generates power through integrated photovoltaic units.

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Via Inhabitat, photos by Eduardo Martinez, Nicolas Lackner, Christian Plach.

Everyone loves a good shower. To help you save money, water and energy without compromising comfort, we picked three of our favorite water saving shower heads! (But really, who could choose? They’re all so great!)

Our Top 3 Low Flow Shower Head Picks {The Dirt on Green}

AM Conservation White Spoiler Shower Head

This eye-catching white and chrome water saving 2.0 gallons per minute (GPM) shower head features an adjustable spray selection between a conventional spray and a more focused massage stream, a pressure compensator to deliver a consistent spray velocity over a wide range of water pressures, a non-aerating spray to reduce heat loss and increase comfort and an anti-sediment screen to prevent line debris from clogging.

Our Top 3 Low Flow Shower Head Picks {The Dirt on Green}

Niagara Earth Massage Handheld

This beautiful chrome water saving hand held shower head uses a non-removable flow-compensator to guarantee a feeling of great force while using a maximum of 1.5 GPM. The non-aerated 9-jet turbo massage is adjustable, ranging from a gentle needle spray to a forceful jet. It delivers a consistent flow rate regardless of the water pressure and features a handy 72″ hose!

Our Top 3 Low Flow Shower Head Picks {The Dirt on Green}

AM Conservation Chrome Handheld Shower Head

This striking chrome water saving 2.0 GPM hand held shower head features an adjustable spray selection between a conventional spray and a more focused massage stream. A pressure compensator delivers a consistent spray velocity over a wide range of water pressures, a non-aerating spray to reduce heat loss and increase comfort and an anti-sediment screen to prevent line debris from clogging. The 4’ foot hose makes it easy to use and versatile for washing kids and pets!

Didn’t find the low flow shower head that was right for you? Check out the rest of our wide selection of water efficient shower heads and start saving every drop today!

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

We know this is what recycling feels like sometimes…

7 Tips to Make Recycling Easy! {The Dirt on Green}

via Doghouse Diaries

…but it doesn’t have to be that way! Trust us, we used to be overwhelmed by the daunting world of #647 plastic, recyclable paper products (what exactly is this mixed paper?) and steel vs. aluminum cans. Here are a few of our favorite tips to help you help the planet and your wallet.

  1. Curbside pickup or drop-off location? This handy recycling center locator helps you find where to drop off your recyclables and what kinds of materials each location accepts – just put in your zip code all the locations in your area. They even have an app for iPhone and Android!
  2. Plastic bottle caps are usually recyclable along with the bottle, and don’t worry about rinsing plastic or glass bottles before recycling.
  3. Although you can’t recycle the whole pizza box, tear off and recycle the top half, as long as it’s grease-free.
  4. Many recycling programs don’t accept paper cups because of the waxy lining, but don’t forget to recycle the cardboard sleeve.
  5. In addition to grocery bags, recycle dry cleaning, newspaper bags, plastic film on products like paper towels and bread bags.
  6. Keep bags for both trash and recycling in your car. Pre-sorting makes it easier to recycle on the go!
  7. Buy products made from recycled material. Recycling is the first step, the material is processed and the final step is up to you – keep recycled content products in demand!

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Need a Creative Boost? Hit the Dimmer Switch and Purchase CFL Lights.

 

One more reason to add a light dimmer switch to your home or office – a recent study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology finds dark rooms may improve creativity.

When someone enters a room, he or she receives visual cues as to how to behave and appear. In turn, they must decide whether to behave as if in an open and welcoming environment or a confining one.

According to findings, dark rooms promote a more global perspective, which can enhance creativity.

That’s not surprising since previous research has shown soft light is often relaxing (that’s why you love to work from the coffee shop down the street) and makes people feel safe. Such environments can also make them more apt to take risks – from writing harsh reviews online to hugging a stranger – because they don’t feel they are being watched or under pressure to act a certain way.

Two researchers based in Germany, Anna Steidle and Lioba Werth, used six experiments to observe different aspects of creativity. The first three studies primed participants by having them describe a dark or bright environment or do a word search where the words were related to one of two illuminations. From there, creativity was measured by an imagination task, an alternative-use game or a speed-accuracy test.

LED Lights - Need a Creative Boost? Hit the Dimmer Switch.

Priming dark conditions induces a risky, more explorative behavior, leading to creativity, Steidle concluded. But to generalize it, she and her partner had to use actual lighting variations.

In the fourth study, subjects were placed in one of three types of rooms: dim, bright, or a control room, where the light was at the level recommended level for offices. Participants sat in the room for fifteen minutes before beginning a creative logic task, which was then followed by a self-evaluation of how comfortable they had felt.

Turns out the dimmer rooms promoted more insight problem-solving, as well as higher levels of comfort among the participants.

There was one caveat: The researchers noted dim light didn’t promote creativity if the participants felt inhibited. And dimmer light might hinder analytical, logical tasks.

If you want to design a creative workspace, consider grabbing a dimmer light switch or two, CFL lights and dimmable bulbs, and adding plants and windows. Also, don’t forget to check in with everyone in the office to make sure they feel comfortable as well.

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Via Inc.com

The Belkin Conserve Valet Smart USB Charging Station is an extremely handy, all-in-one charger with four different USB ports so you can easily charge pretty much any device whenever you need. It senses when new devices are added so you always get a full charge, no matter what and once every plugged in device is fully charged, it automatically cuts all power to save money and energy.

Energy Saving Products Review – Belkin Conserve Valet Charging Station {The Dirt on Green}

Simply plug in devices that charge using a USB cable, push the start button and power will flow until devices are fully charged, then automatically shut off. The valet is only compatible with power cables with a standard USB plug on one end (but that shouldn’t really be an issue in this technology age). It includes short charge-only cables for a variety of devices.

Energy Saving Products Review – Belkin Conserve Valet Charging Station {The Dirt on Green}

The handy cord keeper just below the no-slip shelf on top keeps cords neat, concealed and safe from kinks, making charging easy.

Energy Saving Products Review – Belkin Conserve Valet Charging Station {The Dirt on Green}

Personally, we love the Belkin Conserve Valet. It keeps all of our charging cables from ending up in a tangled mess on the table, frees up outlet space and saves energy all at the same time. Not your style? Check out the rest of our energy saving products!

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

 

Let Light Bulbs Dream

July 4th, 2013 | Posted by EnergyEarth in Green Tips - (0 Comments)

Let Light Bulbs Dream {The Dirt on Green}

 

Design company Hudson-Powell created this endearing poster, encouraging us to show light bulbs a bit of compassion and turn them off when not in use.

Simply can’t seem to remember to flip that switch off? Check out these energy saving lighting controls that will help you save money and energy without a second thought.

Love the poster? Buy it here. All proceeds go to Do the Green Thing, a non-profit organization that aims to inspire people to lead a greener life.

—The EnergyEarth Team

Via Do the Green Thing.

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Ditch the Disposables - 4 Ways to Have a Green 4th of July {The Dirt on Green}

1. Ditch the disposables. Reusable tableware will save you money and lower your impact on the environment. Worried about an enormous pile of dishes after your get-together? Try asking your guests to bring their own plates or pitch in with cleaning duties.

Skip the Fireworks - 4 Ways to Have a Green 4th of July {The Dirt on Green}

2. Skip the fireworks. Stay safe and avoid the toxic fumes this year with fun alternatives like biodegradable confetti, a bonfire, attending a parade or light show and other fun activities. If you simply have to get your fireworks fix, try attending your city or community’s display instead or setting off your own at home.

Choose Real Food - 4 Ways to Have a Green 4th of July {The Dirt on Green}

3. Choose real food. It’s no secret that real, homemade food tastes better, but did you know that it can also help lower your impact? Highly processed snacks and ingredients often travel farther and have a larger carbon footprint than their simpler, often regionally-sourced alternatives. And did we mention that it tastes better?

Cool Down with Homemade Treats - 4 Ways to Have a Green 4th of July {The Dirt on Green}

4. Cool down with homemade treats. Turn off the air conditioner and step outside with a delicious fruity (or creamy!) popsicle. You can even make some for your furry guests!

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Planey Earth

1. EnergyEarth’s own Home Energy Audit. Just answer a few questions about your home; we’ll help you figure out problem areas and give you personalized product suggestions to help you save money, water and energy. We don’t want to brag (okay, maybe we do), but we haven’t seen another online audit quite as helpful for figuring out how to make realistic, practical changes as this one.

2. Global Footprint Network’s fun and interactive Footprint Calculator helps you determine approximately how much of the Earth’s natural resources you use each year, along with tips on how to reduce your impact based on your answers. We actually had a lot of fun figuring out our global footprint, even if the results weren’t as stellar as we hoped they would be.

Calculator

3. World Wildlife Federation’s EcoGuru calculator is a quick and fairly simple footprint calculator that provides simple overall footprint results (no breakdown, unfortunately) and compares it to world averages, which is pretty interesting to note. They also offer a handy to-do list full of helpful tips to green your lifestyle.

4. The EPA’s Emissions Calculator is aimed at kids, encouraging them to think about their actions and how they affect the environment. It is set up sort of like a quiz and suggests actions that kids can take by themselves or with the help of parents and other family members, showing the results of their actions in pounds of CO2 they can reduce from entering the atmosphere.

Footprints in the Sand

5. Conservation International has two handy tools: one to measure your eco-footprint and one to calculate your carbon footprint (yes, those can be two different things!). One is more about how you choose to recycle, the items you purchase, etc., while the other is more your home, your car and your travel habits. Both are integral to your usage of natural resources and are very interesting to see broken down separately. Like the others, they provide unique conservations tips that can make a big difference without meaning living entirely off the grid or never leaving your house.

So that’s our round-up for now, but we know there many more out there that can help you calculate your impact and guide you to greening your lifestyle. Did we miss your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Kale is all the rage these days – and for good reason. This low calorie, fat free leafy green is high in fiber, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, calcium and vitamins A and C. What isn’t to love?

It can be hard to keep fresh greens on hand all the time without it wilting. Next time you pick up a bundle and don’t quite finish it before it’s about to turn, try blanching and freezing it for an easy and healthy boost in soups or sautéed as a side dish. If you just freeze fresh greens, they will get bitter, but blanching them for a few minutes will kill all the enzymes that cause that unwelcome bitter flavor.

Chopping the Kale

First, wash and trim your kale, as nobody wants to eat the tough, bitter stalk, then chop the leaves into smaller pieces.

While you’re doing that, start boiling water in a large stockpot and place a large bowl in your sink and fill it with cold water and ice.

How to Blanch Kale (and Other Greens) for Easy Freezing

For the easiest results, place the kale in a steamer basket, dunk it in the pot of boiling water, put the lid on (the steam helps cook the bits bobbing on top) and leave it for approximately two minutes.

How to Blanch Kale (and Other Greens) for Easy Freezing

When the time is up, quickly lift the kale from the pot of water into the bowl of ice water. Retrieve bits left behind with tongs.

How to Blanch Kale (and Other Greens) for Easy Freezing

Remove from the ice bath and lay it flat on a kitchen towel to lightly dry. Put it in a resealable container and pop in the freezer. You’re done! Repeat as many times as needed to blanch all your kale.

When you’re ready to eat it, simply pull out of the freezer and sauté in olive oil with a little minced garlic and sea salt or add to soup for a delicious nutrition boost.

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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