Eco-friendly Habit of the Week: Turn Off, Unplug, Go Out!

Now I realize this generation is infamous for its technical knowhow, its ability to multitask using several electronic devices at once and for its inability to entertain itself in a manner that is carbon neutral. Let's change that! When should you do these recommendations? As much as possible is the ideal answer, however I recommend doing these things after you've just finished dinner, work or school. Best way to make this a habit however, is to start by doing it once a week for an evening or so.

The Conditions:
- TURN OFF and/or UNPLUG all unnecessary electronic devices must be turned off, you can keep your alarm clock, fridge and stove but your stereo or mp3 player is definitely not necessary, also remember to turn off all unnecessary lights
- GO OUT in your backyard, on your front porch, to the park...anywhere! Just don't lounge at home surrounded by the temptation of turning something on and vegging out
- Don't spend (a lot of) money, less than $10 if you really need to but be frugal!
- Don't drive anywhere
- Do ride your bike, skateboard, etc. Anything that doesn't involve electricity is a welcome activity

What You Can Do:

Go to the library
Expand your mind without spending a cent!

2) Go to the park
Take a walk in the park and breathe in some fresh air. Bring some sports equipment and play a quick scrimmage with your friends or some strangers if you are the extroverted type.

3) Take a walk around your neighbourhood
My parents like to do this to see what our neighbours have done to their gardens and just to spend time together, it gives them ideas for their own garden which brings me to my next point...

4) Grow Your Own Garden
Use your time at the local library to find out what veggies and herbs grow best in your backyard or even look up what plants would do well on a windowsill inside your apartment. Tending to a garden can be very relaxing and also provides you some fresh fruit, veggies and/or herbs for yourself and to share with family, friends...even neighbours! If you'd rather plant like flowers, make sure to grow many butterfly friendly species. Our famous Canadian monarch butterflies are losing many of their habitats to human development.

5) Go to a live show!
Support your local musicians or acting companies by attending their free/inexpensive shows advertised in your local paper. Also if there are free events in the area (several communities have fairs, festivals and carnivals) attend them and say hello to your neighbours! It never hurts to go to something that's free!

6) Go to the museum/art gallery/zoo/science center...
Attendance numbers are dwindling and in an appeal to the younger generation, several of these fine institutions are offering either free or inexpensive nights for all, these are usually weeknights. Remember not to spend money when it comes to the gift shop!

7) Go for a ride
Bike, skate or board in a scenic part of the city, make sure to obey your signals and traffic laws though!

8) Go to the beach/the Islands!
Walk on the boardwalk, skip rocks, take pictures or just relax.

Leave a comment if you can think of anything else!


Waste Heat Recovery, Something Different but not New

Great read for the day from CNET, they're always great for new technology news. Just to convince you to read it, I'll quote something VERY promising:
One customer is taking wasted energy from a steel smelter to make 220 megawatts of electricity. That's on the order of a single large solar-power plant. Through waste heat recovery, the U.S. could generate the equivalent of 400 coal-fired power plants, Munson said.


A Note on Green Labels

The article below is definitely a promising turn of events. Although several environmentalists blame multinational corporations for the majority of the destruction of our environment they have the resources and the power to fuel the innovation in new environmentally beneficial technologies such as this one.

That being said, there is always an issue of "greenwashing" taking place when companies begin to promote their environmentally-friendly policies and products. Although green is good, sometimes when a company attaches a "green" label to a product, the truth is the product/company may be masking what they are actually doing during the production process of all their products.

Before I go further I do not believe Google is necessarily greenwashing their image to the public (I am sure there are those who disagree). I think they are making a tentative investment in a new technology (that is the nature of business, you weigh the risk and invest according). Although it would be very encouraging to see Google invest $100 million into the project, they are nonetheless a business.

However there is still something to be said about those green labels you see on many of the new products on our store shelves. To be honest, buying a 'green' product is not going to save the planet. Conserving energy, buying less, reducing our consumption of nonrenewable resources and doing our homework before we buy a product are the best ways to make a positive impact on the environment. It is only common sense to not believe everything you read! Caveat emptor fellow environmentalists!

Pushing the Envelope: Google Investing $10 mill+ in Geothermal Energy

Quick definition first...

Geothermal Energy:
energy harvested from heat naturally stored/produced underground

According to this CleanTechnica.com article Search engine giant Google is investing $10.25 million into Enhanced Geothermal Systems, a promising new energy technology. A very interesting fact to quote is:
"According to an MIT report on EGS, only 2% of the heat beneath the continental US between 3 and 10 kilometers (depths we can reach with current technology) is more than 2,500 the annual energy use of the United States."


Link of the Day: Bioplastics Beneficial in More Ways than One According to Study

According to this Discover article bioplastics made from renewable resources such as corn are beneficial to our atmosphere due to the lower amount of carbon dioxide produced during the fermentation process required to make plastics.


Before You Buy that Book

Oh my, this post highlights a habit I have...its almost an addiction...to books. Now, I walk past a book liquidators booth at the CNE and I can't help but rifle through every volume and find at least 5 books I want to buy but I have to stop myself and think about the implications of just mindless book buying. For example, 24 books are made from one tree, one tree less to absorb the carbon dioxide in our air. It doesn't make sense to buy a book you aren't going to look at for more than a couple weeks. So here are some questions you should ask yourself before you buy that book!

1. How long will it take me to read this book? Can I read it within two weeks?
If you are a fast reader (like me) you can absorb a book within a week...maybe a night! If you are a fast reader you definitely don't need to buy a book that you will read in a night and not refer to again.

2. Is this book multipurpose?
If this book talks about multiple subjects you will use it as a reference for, then this book will be useful to purchase, but if not, you may want to borrow it from the library instead.

3. Can I find it at the local library/school library/company library?

Self-explanatory, if you can borrow it, why buy it?

4. How many times will I want to refer to this book again in a year? In my lifetime?
With this question you ask yourself how "useful" the book will be to you in your library at home. If it will provide a bit of information but only serve to insulate your walls for the years to come, you might as well not bother buying it.

5. Will I donate this book after I read it?
You could donate the book you buy to charity and share a wealth of information as well as help a good cause.

6. Is this book a necessary purchase?
Sometimes if the purchase isn't necessary its pretty obvious whether or not you should buy it. If its more of a "want" than a "need" you should lean towards finding a more eco-friendly way of fulfilling that need.

7. Is this book made from post-consumer recycled paper?
If you're buying the book, you might as well make sure it is as eco-friendly as possible.

8. Have I checked the freecycle postings of my local area for this book yet?
Perhaps someone has this book up for pickup, free of charge in your neighbourhood.

9. Can I buy this second-hand at a used-book store or second-hand shop?
If you must have it, buying it used means one less tree was chopped down to make it!

10. Do I need this book right now or do I have time to search for a used copy?
If you would like the book but not immediately it would be fun to hunt down a used copy in the musty stacks of a used book store. Almost like finding a treasure of your own!

11. Can I borrow this book from a friend?
If a friend recommended the book to you, ask if you can borrow their copy. Take good care of it!

12. Can I find this information on the Internet?

Several books can be found online for free at websites like Project Gutenberg. An ebook could also be available


Useful Widget

This widget is pretty neat, I especially like the Steven Wright quote that pops up. Remember to pledge and see who else in your area (or where else in your area) other people are trying to reduce their carbon footprint!

Good news!

Great news for me and hopefully more readers (and comments). I have recently been listed on the website: http://www.bestgreenblogs.com

My blog is under:

I have also been listed at http://www.blogcatalog.com

My blog is under here: http://www.blogcatalog.com/blogs/green-me-up-scotty.html

More posts coming soon...stay tuned!


From Four Wheel to Two Wheel...Some Things You Should Know!

Considering biking rather than driving? Good for you! But here are some things you really should know before you invest in a bike.

- Go to several local bike shops for opinions on bikes as well as research online reviews to find a bike that suits your needs
- Save your money! Or that is...see if your bicycle purchase is exempt from retail sales tax, according to this website Ontarians that purchase bicycles and their related safety equipment before December 31, 2010 will not pay retail sales tax
- Local bike shops are knowledgeable about bike routes in your area and can help you plan your daily commute

Protect Yourself:
- Take a course on bike riding, not only to learn how to ride in busy areas but to learn the proper hand signals and biking ettiquette/laws
- Invest in safety equipment and wear a helmet
- Make sure your bicycle has a bell and learn traffic signals

Protecting Your Investment:
- Register your bike here
- Maintain your bike, make sure you take care of your mode of transportation
- Use two different locks to discourage thieves, most only carry one tool to work with one type of lock
- Make sure you research your locks and be prepared to use at least 10% of the cost of your bike towards these locks
- Lock up both wheels of the bike as well as the frame of the bike if possible, you don't want your bike disappearing in pieces
- Lock up your bike to a sturdy object that cannot be tampered with
- Don't leave any space between your lock and your bike, the less space a thief has for leverage to use a tool with, the better
- Talk to your insurance broker to see if it would be a good idea to insure your bicycle under your home insurance, it can cost as little as a couple dollars a month

4-Day Work Week? Telecommuting? How is your company dealing with the increasing gas prices?

With increasing gas prices employees and employers are both scrambling to figure out how to make up for the extra $100 a month gas is costing the average commuter. This New York Times article explains some creative ways employers in the US are taking on the problem.

Many are also sacrificing space and comfort for proximity to their places of employment to offset transportation costs. To those who live in cities with dedicated bicycle lanes (Toronto is...sort of one of those) it is highly encouraged that you invest in a bicycle for your own personal health as well as a cheaper form of transportation. Some notes on biking will be posted soon!


Exfoliate? More like suffocate!

Fellow readers do you follow a beauty regimen that requires that you exfoliate? Do you do so using a product that has "Poly-Ethylene" listed in its ingredients? Did you know that those little plastic beads in your exfoliating scrub cannot be filtered by municipal water treatment plants and thus, enter our great lakes and oceans, only to clog up the gills of our fish?

STOP! Stop buying exfoliating scrubs unless they use natural exfoliants that will not harm our fish! Write to those companies that do use them and ask that they stop as well. Or make your own natural exfoliating scrubs (I used bath salts on my legs) and save money too!

Tuesday Tips!

Hope everyone had a fantastic Simcoe day! Back to the green blogging for me!

I know I'm guilty of vanity...but I shouldn't hurt the environment with this vice now should I? Onto awesome websites that green up your beauty routine.

Natural Living for Women

Actually the whole site is full of tips for women on living green/organic.

W Network Article: Top 10 Tips - Eco-Friendly Beauty Products
10 absolutely awesome beauty products with packaging that grows into flowers or companies that have raised millions for green charities.

Recycline Online
Eco-friendly products including recyclable razors and toothbrushes.

But its not just a link dropping day...I'll be posting another blog post later on today!