Sunday, October 30, 2011

How the Occupy Wall Street Movement Relates To The Environment

Occupy Movement

A few weeks ago the Occupy Wall Street movement started. I have to admit that at first I didn't really take too much notice. I didn't really know what it was and what it was about. That seemed to be the read on the whole thing in general at first, but impressively the protesters stuck with it and pushed long enough for people to start looking into what they were doing. 

It turns out that while they may not have a 100% concrete mission statement, they are basically fed up with 1% of the population of the US making most of the annual income. Of the the last couple decades this disparity has widened greatly and it's causing many of the financial issues that we all see today.

The more I find out about the whole Occupy movement the more it seems to make great sense and I'm behind them. I think I could write quite a bit about what they are fighting for now, and why it's so important. This blog those is more focused on the environment, green, and saving money and then planet. The interesting thing though as I got thinking about it is how involved these two areas are. The occupy protesters are pushing back against the top 1% income earners. These 1% earners are typically the major owners of the largest companies in our country. Typically it's these companies which are polluting out planet and have the largest vested interest in keeping and rules from changing to stop them.

So while the focus of the Occupy Movement isn't on cleaning up the planets, they are directing their efforts on many of the very same people who are fighting against environmental regulations which would help slow global warming. Depending on how successful this whole Occupy Movement ends up being (and I'm not totally sure how to define success at this point) I feel like the green folks will get along quite nicely with the occupy people.

I heard an interesting thing mentioned on a radio show this morning. I was flipping channels so I can't tell you the name of the person who said it unfortunately, but he said he is really hoping that the tea party nonsense is coming to an end, and maybe this Occupy Movement will be the new Tea Party. In that they will take the country by storm, open some eyes, excite the base, and be a new party with some actual power to do good and start to really get something done.

So if you found this blog you might not be looking to specifically find financial balance, as you can see, you probably should be. Let's get behind Occupy and get things all moving in the right direction, for all of us!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Aviation Biofuels

I remember just about a year or maybe two ago there was a big news story about how Richard Branson from Virgin was testing bio fuels in some of his planes. I remember thinking this was a very cool idea and maybe the answer to flying guilt free.

However there are some disadvantages to aviation bio-fuels which I discovered when reading this article from EcoGeek, which is a great blog if you are looking for this kind of information!

One major downside is similar to ethanol that was going to be the answer to gasoline. If we switch over then we are taking up valuable crop land that would have been used to feed the people of the world, which will push up food prices.

Interesting stuff!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Environment Jobs

Green Jobs

I personally think that "Environmental Jobs" is what is going to save us from what industry has done to the planet. Oil, plastic, and general chemical pollution has really harmed this planet to what many think is near the tipping point. The problem is those industries have really made their owners an insane amount of money. No matter where you stand on the 1% vs. 99% argument, you can't deny that these industries have employed millions and made our economy what it is today. 

Many that would like to keep industry going as it is and not worry about pollution (i.e. - the 1%'ers) have argued that getting rid of their industry would cause double digit unemployment and ruin the country financially. The sad part is they are right! Too many folks work in these industries to where if they went away tomorrow our economy would implode.

How Environment Jobs Will Save the Day

The key is that all these people are going to need some place else to work instead of for the oil and chemical industries. What the argument that we can't live without these industries fails to address is that nobody is saying that we are going to stop needing all that energy! Nobody is arguing that we no longer need cars. Nobody is arguing that we don't need electricity. Nobody is saying we don't need the products in our home that we've all become accustomed to.

What we are saying is that we still want to drive our car and power our home just as much, but we want all that power to come from sustainable sources. If we could get moving on this and really make it happen in earnest (which won't happen until the big money industry owners get out of the pockets of elected officials) then we would need to build an enormous network of solar panels and wind turbines and bio-diesel plants, etc. It's not that all the folks that work in industry now would be unemployed, it's that they would just be doing something different and good for the planet. And sure yet, people hate change, and a drastic change like that would be hard on many people. Some old workers that have known nothing but oil their whole career would have a hard time moving into green jobs where they were the new kid on the block. On a macro level though this is something that has to happen and makes total sense

What are Environmental Jobs?

Sure some environmental jobs are more research jobs. They are people who are studying the environment and looking at the effects of what we are doing to our planet and how we can change that. But the environmental jobs I'm talking about here are also knows as green jobs. They are positions at firms that are building wind turbines, solar panel arrays, kinetic wave generators, and bio-diesel plant workers. They are also the people who are researching new ways to create power in a sustainable way. Sure right now we think of wind and solar, and they are great options. But maybe the real answer that we end up using to power our lives is something that hasn't even been thought of let along invented yet.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Slogans on Environment

Bumper Sticker
 There are a ton of slogans on environment out there which push the green point of view. Many of them are from bumper stickers. Here are 20 of my favorites in no particular order, although I did pick my absolute favorite. Also please comment with some that you like. If you include a picture of the bumper sticker I'll make it a post here on Saving Green.

  1. Ignore the Environment --- It'll Go Away
  2. Nature Always Bats Last
  3. Compost! A rind is a horrible thing to waste.
  4. Suburbia: Where they pull out the trees and then name streets after them
  5. Extinction is Forever!
  6. Idling - Zero Miles to the Gallon
  7. Stop Throwing Stuff Away - There is No "Away"
  8. Don't Just Hug A Tree - Plant One!
  9. Want Less
  10. Keep the Earth Clean - Not Uranus
  11. Be the Change You Wish to See in the World
  12. Good Planets are Hard to Find
  13. Biodesiel - No War Required
  14. Blow Me! (Written over a picture of a wind turbine) - I think this might be my favorite!
  15. My Carbon Footprint Kicks Your Carbon Offset's Ass!
  16. Biodesiel - Praise the Lard
  17. Think Globally - Act Locally
  18. Compost Happens
  19. No Drill - No Spill
  20. One Man's Trash is Another Man's Compost!
Hope you enjoyed these environmental slogans. Don't forget to comment with some of your favorites, and include a picture of the bumper sticker to get a post. You can email me at with the picture if it's easier. Can't wait to see what everyone submits!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pollution Facts

Years ago when we thought of pollution we always thought about smog. The smoke that was pouring out of the smoke stacks on top of factories. Or maybe the CFC's coming out of hairspray that was making a hole in the ozone layer. All of that is true but there are more and worse kinds of pollution that we really need to be aware of these days. Here are the pollution facts.

It is indeed bad to see the smoke pouring out of smoke stacks on factories but not for the reason that we all though. We used to worry about the particles that cause soot and smog and breathing issue. These are still an issue, but the bigger culpret in that smoke is the CO2 that is being release into the atmosphere and causing global warming. This environmental pollution is the worst kind because it is having the largest effect on the planet. Environment pollution of any kind is obviously not a good thing, but CO2 is really killing us!

There are many types of pollution in this day an age. I personally think we need to worry most about air pollution, assuming you include our whole atmosphere in "air". I mean I worry about the particles in the air that cause breathing and other issues, but as you can tell the the greenhouse gases that bother me the most of all. Air pollution causes are really all around us. Factories are a big contributer, but everything from the cars we drive to the heat in our house are a part of the problem. Unless you are getting energy (in whatever for for whatever use) from solar, wind, or some other sustainable source you are causing air pollution. If you don't believe me, do some research and find all the pollution information you can. You'll find I'm right.

Plastic Pollution
Another form of pollution that really bothers me is plastic pollution. Not only does the process of making plastic bottles and products release harmful chemicals to the environment, but they are also bad for us. Drinking "healthy and clean and fresh" bottled water is literally killing us. The BPA in the plastic is leaching out into the food in those containers and we are drinking it right up. BPA mimick estrogen in our bodies and is having all kinds of effect on us as a population including increase cancer rates and early developmental issues. There are of course other undocumented and untrackable health effects because BPA is considered safe by the FDA, which is a sham, but don't get me started on that. On top of all those issues there is plastic pollution. As if it wasn't enough that producing the bottles is bad for us, and not enough that drinking/eating from the containers is bad for us, but then a large number of them eventually make their way to the ocean. There is literally and island of plastic garbage that floats around in our ocean. Because the water current remain basically the same in our oceans, in the areas where they loop in a circle the plastic floats and just collects. If you haven't seen this before Google plastic pollution facts. It's depressing!

Information about pollution can be found online and in many documentaries, but once you see if face to face it just sucks the life out of you! There are so many issues that are covered up or not noticed that I could write a very long pollution essay! We all say we are going to do something, and often we mean it, but good intentions aren't going to fix this planet. Do something!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sustainable Definition

Oil Just Isn't Sustainable
So what does sustainable mean. You hear about it all the time talked about in the same breath as green topics and global warming. The sustainable definition is to say that what ever is sustainable can be done over and over with no necessary end. That may sound confusing because what in the world can be done over and over without ending at some point eventually in the future?

Well let's think of a few things that ARE NOT sustainable, but many people thing they are. The biggest one is the use of oil to power the world. Oil is a result of fossilized animals from millions of years ago dieing. They bodies were decomposed and because of the pressure they were under the energy that it took to grow their bodies was eventually converted into oil. Oil is very dense in energy mainly because it's the result of solar energy which was converted into animals millions of years ago and then compressed underground. This process not only took a very long time (again, millions of years) but it happened under very specific periods of environmental heating which occurred on Earth only a couple of times. So to get oil you need millions of creatures to die, have them decompose for millions of years, in conditions that are pretty rare on Earth. We are lucky that so much oil was created during these periods of Earth's history, because once man discovered oil they quickly because addicted.

You can understand why we could get so easily addicted to a resource like oil. It is so energy dense that we can use it to do so much. It's what had drive the rapid growth of our society over the last 150 years or so. There is so much energy in a barrel of oil that for one man to do the same amount of work that a barrel of oil can do, it would take them months. So one man can work tirelessly for months, or you can pump one barrel of oil out of the ground. What's not to love.

Well, environmental impacts of burning oil aside just for the moment, the trick is that there was so much oil that humans never thought of it as something finite. But, if you haven't thought of it before, think of it now, oil is going to run out. No more oil is being created way down under the surface of Earth. Whatever is there is there and that's all we get. So every day we pump millions of barrels of oil out of the ground.

Think of it like that free drink you got at the bar on your birthday last year. Sure it was huge and that straw seemed tiny. And each time you took a sip it seemed like the level in the drink didn't even really go down. But eventually after drinking it for hours, it was gone. Nothing was left in your glass. Oil is the same way. We are just sipping it out when you compare it to the total that was originally there. But we have been doing it for over a 100 years now. And in the last few decades the demand of it has gone through the roof and we all want more stuff in the industrialized nations, and new emerging nations start to become industrialized. It's a double whammy. We are all ready taking way too much of what is left if we really did want it to last, and each year we take significantly more then we did the previous year.

So I got a little off topic there, but because oil is going to run out, it is not sustainable. In other words, we cannot sustain what we are currently doing in the long run.

An example of something that is sustainable is wind and solar energy. Realistically the wind is always going to be blowing here on Earth. Once you build the turbines, you can keep using the energy for as long as you can keep your consumption below the amount they can produce. The same goes for solar. Once the panels are built and installed, as long as you don't need more then you can produce then you can keep doing it indefinitely.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Buy Green

Once you realize that the Earth is in trouble because of what man has done to it, you realize there are tons of things you can do to start to reduce our impact, or carbon footprint. They can be things as small as cutting your shower a little shorter each day, to as large and putting solar panels on your roof. One area where we can all do a lot more is to start shopping green.

Environmentally Products
 Yes, you should plan your shopping trips so that they are close to your house and get everything you need while you are there so you can cut down on burning gas driving to and from the store. But when when i say being more green in shopping I am really talking about the products that you choose to buy. If you buy green products it means that those products are better for the environment in some way then competing products for sale. This can be because the technology of the product is better and the energy you consume while using the product will be less. This can also mean that the environmental impact of the manufacturing process to create that product was less then it's competitors. Ideally you'd like to find products that do both.

Like anything in life, buyer beware! Keep in mind that just because a product you are looking at has "green products company", "environmental products", or some other phrase talking about how much better it is for the environment, this just means they spend to get that printed on the label. You would hope that if a company decides to call it an eco product, that it would indeed be "green". The trick is that green is in the eye of the beholder. There isn't really any low dealing with calling something green, the way there is about calling a food item "low fat". Basically as long as the company can make an argument (true or not) that their product is green then it's OK to label it as such. Obviously companies know they can charge more for a green product so there is a large incentive to call their items green, irregardless of what it is doing to the environment. To really know for sure you really have to do the research.

Of course it would be impossible to background check companies on every little product you buy in your life. But on big purchases it would be do-able. And for that matter most of the items you buy in a grocery store are all made by just a handful of companies. You might not be able to research all the individual products but you could look up the track record of the major corporations that make most of the items you are buying. That way you would know just because something claims to be one of the new green products, it may or may not really be truly green!

PS - I'll be putting together a post in the future to talk about what actually makes products environmental, so keep an eye out!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

10 Ways To Go Green

Go Green Images
You hear about it all the time these days, which is a great thing. Being Green, Going Green, Green Products, etc. Anyone that had put any real and objective thought into it it, knows that the Earth is in trouble and being green is the way that we are going to save it! So if anyone asks you why to go green, tell them it's to save the Earth from the crumbling spiral that it's now in which is caused by man's reckless actions.

Below are 10 easy ways to go green:

1. Change out your traditional incandescent light bulbs for CFL's. This is a really easy one, and yes CFL's are more expensive then incandescent but you are indeed going to save in the long run. Since CFL's are more expensive I suggest that you just buy them as you existing incandescent bulbs burn out. Then it's only a couple bucks more once in a while, and each of the new CFL's will pay for themselves over their life, and reduced power consumption.

2. Buy a new refridgeration. This of course is going to be a more expensive of the ways to go green at home. This trick is that your refrigerator is the appliance that used the more electricity in your home. It takes a good amount of energy to make it that cold and it is ALWAYS on. On average refrigerators you buy today at about twice as efficient compared to those from just 10 years go, because of new technology. This means you can cut in half the electricity you are going to use on the appliance that used the more electricity. Not bad!

3. Take shorter showers. Now I'm not saying skip showers...that would stink! :-) But think about how long you spend in the shower each day. Could you cut that by one minute? I would guess anyone would be able to cut their shower by one minute if they put their mind to it. There is a cost and power consumption associated with getting water to flow out of your shower head. There is an ever bigger cost and power consumption associated with making that water hot! So you and everyone in your family cut the shower by one minute and see the savings add up.

4. Turn off the water while your are brushing your teeth. I am always amazed at the number of folks that leave the water running while they are brushing their teeth. I know it's a matter of habit, but you need to change your habit! I mean are you worried there their may arise an emergency where you have to rinse your brush in an instant or your hair will catch on fire?! Turn it off and you'll make the writer of this go green blog very happy!

5. Unplug your phone charge when not in use. Did you know that your phone charger draws a little bit of power when it's plugged in and not attached to and charging your phone? This is one of the go green facts that many people have never heard of this but it's true. It is a relatively small amount of power but still why pay for a little bit of power for anything if you aren't using it at all?!

6. Insulation. Whether you are heating or cooling your house insulating it to seal out air leaks will make a big difference in the amount of energy you use. This can mean laying more insulation in your attic to reduce the escaping of heat through the roof, or sealing up air leaks around windows and doors. Removing even a small air leak can make a big difference in your energy bill. This is an example of the go green projects that will easily pay for themselves.

7. Buy go green energy. Many power companies now offer green energy options. Basically you can option pay a small amount more to be supplied with only electricity from green energy sources like wind turbines and solar arrays. Yes the name of this blog is Saving Green, not Spending Green, but sometimes when it's a very small amount of money, it makes sense to spend a little to save the Earth.

8. Ceiling Fans. When ever you can use a fan to cool yourself off instead of air conditioning you are going to save a large amount of energy. If you don't have a ceiling fan above your bed you would be really surprised to see how much cooler a fan makes you. Many hot nights I can turn off the AC units and just run the fan when I got to bed. It makes for a large savings on my electric bill in the summer months.

9. Power settings on your computer/laptop. Monitors tend to use quite a bit of electricity, as does your CPU. All computer operating systems today offer power setting options where you can choose the amount of idle time before you computer will turn off the monitor, sleep, hibernate, etc. You know best how you use your computer but more often then not, if you are idle for more then 2 mins you can turn off your monitor. Then if you are idle for more then ten mins you might as well have you computer go to sleep because you are obviously busy doing something else. Adjust these settings to the lowest possible time frames that doesn't cause major inconveniences.

10. Power strips. Any piece of electronic equipment that responds to a remote control is going to draw some power even when it's off. This is because it needs some power to operate basically waiting for you to ask it to turn on. If you plug in your TV, DVD, Cable Box, and all other AV components, into a power strip, you can turn them all off quickly and easily when you aren't using them. This will save power from going to all those components all day long while you are at work, and all night long when you are in bed.

These are just a few power savings options that will help you be green. There are tons of others. Basically think about how you are using power on a day to day basis and always be thinking of how you can reduce it. Let me know if you can think of other great way to save power, and I'll continue to publish top ten lists with other great ideas.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Global Warming Facts: It's Real Folks!

Wikipedia's global warming definition is the follwing: Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans and its related effects.

Global Warming Pictures
 The effects of global warming are all around us everyday. You see many of the obvious one everyday on TV and they are dramatic and an enormous problem and that's why they get so much attention. The reduction in the polar cap is a big one you see all the time, which huge chunks of glaciers falling into the ocean as it recedes. Another dramatic shot is pictures of glaciers from the same vantage point today and 20-40 years ago. Day to day you don't notice that kind of thing but when you look at those kind of global warming effects over time you really can see the damage that is being done.

There are many that will argue that this is not a man made problem or even doubt that there is a such thing at global warming. Folks get with it! If you read scientific paper which are not funded by large corportations ALL of them say that the temperature of our planet is rising. Not only are they rising but they are rising very quickly. These are the global warming facts!

Not only is it the higher temperature, it's the speed at which it is risking that is the scary part. If you look at the ice cores and fossil records we can tell that the Earth has been hotter before but never has it warmed this quickly before. This very quick rise in temperature directly coincides with man discovery of oil! There is simply no doubting that global warming is real and caused by us!

What causes of global warming you ask? The very short answer is, humans. To be a little more detailed though it the increased consentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, etc) in our atmosphere. They are called greenhouse gases because they allow the rays and heat from the sun to enter Earth's atmosphere but do not allow them to escape. The effect of these global warming causes over time is to increase the temperature of Earth.

So if you are looking for the casues of global warming then you are really looking for what is causing more green house gases to be released into the atmosphere. These are human activities that release carbon dioxide and methane. Essentially this is burning things that contain carbon. Coal, wood, and oil are the big ones. Methane pound for pound has a much larger greenhouse effect but you always hear about carbon dioxide because it is so much more abundant then methane. For a while the folks who are against doing anything about global warming were arguing that cow farts were much worse for Earth then buring oil. It made for great news story lead-ins. Like all the arguments against global warming though the facts are warped to make their point. Yes a pound of methane in the atmosphere will reflect more heat back down to Earth then a pound of carbon dioxide. That is true. But there is just so vastly more carbon dioxide being released then methane that the arguement just doesn't make sense. It's the same as saying that a big dog bite is worse for you then a kitten scratch, which is obviously true. But they fail to mention it's one dog and one bite, but it's 10 billion kitten scratches all at once. The dog bite will hurt, but the kittens are going to kill you.

So if for some reason you are still on the fence about global warming then read up on it. Just make sure you know who is writing the global warming articles you read. Many doubter articles are written but groups that sound legit but are really just fronts for big business and folks that have a vested financial interest in not combating global warming and the end of our planet!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bamboo Green

One of the coolest ways to go green is to use bamboo in construction when ever you can. Now you aren't going to start seeing bamboo framing lumber down at the home depot anytime soon. It doesn't have that kind of strength. But you can use it for finish types of jobs. Laminate flooring is one area that has really taken advantage of bamboo. Also, windows coverings.


Why is Bamboo Green?

You hear all the time about how we are deforesting the world, especially the rain forest. There is tons (literally) of carbon stored in the trees of the world. Humans release much CO2 in the process of cutting down trees from the energy that is required to cut down the trees, haul them to the mill, mill them, ship them to retail locations, etc. This is still not counting the carbon that is released in burning and decomposition of the waste from the tree that don't become home and furniture. The biggest CO2 loss is the loss of all the CO2 that would have been captured in the future by the trees that are cut down if they had just been left alone.

Bamboo is a quickly growing source of wood. You can use a relatively small acreage and grow a crop of bamboo which is cut down and sent to the mill. You can have it in an easily accessibly location so the energy it takes to cut it down and get it to mill and store is minimal compared to traditional foresting. Then once you cut it down you can replant and, relative traditional trees, quickly have a new crop ready to go again.

So the next time you are looking to update your home and you want to be green with your decisions think about bamboo as an option. It really looks great as a laminate flooring and wears well over time. It can be expensive, but if you shop around and look for sales you can find it as cheap if not cheaper then traditional laminate flooring.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Be Green

Be green.

1364013It looks so basic but really it means many different things to different people. What does it really mean to be green?

Well the very basic answer is that you are doing things in a way that are good for Earth and it's environment. Being green could mean not throwing away plastic bottles and making sure they are recycled. Being green can mean taking steps in your home to use less electricity. Being green can mean taking steps to use less oil for driving and heating your home. Being green can mean buying your food locally and organically. Being green also means taking steps to combat the effects of global warming. There are really many areas of the green movement but they all have saving the Earth at their core.

While I agree that saving the Earth is indeed what we should all want to do with out any incentive, I also know that reality means it's not going to happen that easily. There are just too many incentives for too many people not to worry about saving the planet. The rub really comes in when you see that people and companies have never factored into their pricing what they are doing to the environment. Thing about the plastic packaging that comes along with any small electronic device that you might buy. The company that manufactured that device can likely tell you how much it cost them to produce or buy that packaging and get their product in it. I'm sure though they have no idea what the cost of that packaging finally being disposed of someplace in the planet. It's just not something that we are programmed to think about. Even on a personal level you might know how much you pay to have your trash taken away, but it is a flat monthly fee and throwing out one more package won't change the price. We pay for trash removal and not trash disposition. In other words, we are paying for the price for a company to stop at our house and take it to the dump. The price of that trash sitting in that landfill and all the effects it'll have in our environment aren't factored at any point along the way.

It a problem that was born into our thinking from way back in history when there were far less humans then there are now. If you go back far enough in history there just weren't enough humans doing bad environmental things to effect the environment as a whole. We could make things and throw things out and put them in a pile in the woods and while it wasn't a great thing, it just wasn't enough to hurt Earth. But then as our population number grew and we started doing worse and worse things from an environmental standpoint, our same thinking carried through. To be fair humans didn't really understand that what they were doing could have an effect on Earth. The trick is that as some of us were able to see what was happening was bad, the ball was all ready rolling very quickly downhill. We may have gotten into all this innocently enough but now we're all guilty and either we know it or we're pretending we don't. For years and year companies were going about their business without any concern or cost to them based on the impacts of what they were doing on the planet. This lack of cost was built into all their pricing. Imagine what would happen if every product we bought had to factor in it's impact on the environment. Or if we had to pay the real cost of throwing out the trash. It would really change what we buy, what we could afford to buy, and what we throw away.

Companies have had it too good for too long to want to give up this free cost of doing business. They have all the money and are working to convince the world that global warming is a hoax. Don't believe the hype! You and I need to be Green. Companies need to Green. The only question is really whether we as a planet are going to figure out what being green means and how to do it, before the effects of not being green ruin the whole planet for all of us!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Heating season

With cold weather approaching in the north i was wondering, does anyone out there have electric heat which they run only on electricity from personal solar panels or wind turbines?