Sustainable Living

6 Sustainable Packaging Mistakes Made by Many Businesses

ByGroovy Green Jan 21, 2018

Most businesses understand that when they send freight, the more sustainable the packaging, the less it will cost them both for the transport company costs and the costs of purchasing the packaging. Many types of packaging have a reason for their use and existence. Companies try to keep their goods in top shape and packaging can help with this.

However, most people are aware that it is often a marketing ploy alone that dictates the type of packaging.

  • One ‘mistake’ that most companies make on purpose is using a bottle or package that is much larger than needed for what it contains. We’ve all seen vitamin and other pills in large bottles that are only filled to two thirds capacity. The reason for this is to make the product more visible on the shelf and to make the customer think they are getting a lot for the cost of the product.
  • Things like cereal come in two packets. One to keep it fresh and the other to prevent the contents being crushed in transit and handling. While the amount in the packet goes nowhere near to filling it, companies cite the contents ‘may’ have become more compacted during transport. In fact, they too, want their product to take up a large amount of shelf space in the shop so it is highly visible – and they also like it if the customer believes they are getting more than is actually in the packet.

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4 Easy Ways to Incorporate Sustainability in Building

ByGroovy Green Sep 13, 2017

No matter whether you are a sole trader, a larger building company there are good reasons to add sustainability practices to your business strategies – and easy ways to do it. Being environmentally friendly has become fashionable and for good reason. It not only saves you on costs, but it can give your business an edge over the competition if you offer people sustainable building advice.

Here are 5 easy ways to implement sustainability –

  • When ordering building supplies, if you don’t deal in bulk supplies take care to order only what is needed, in timber especially. If you do happen to run out you can save by profiting from other builders who order too much and end up dumping it in  landfill or giving it to the recycling centre where they could make recycled furniture or save them time and the effort of on-selling it.  There is a great deal of new timber that finds its way into landfill, which is a shocking waste of a resource that takes years to be ready for cutting.
  • Suggest your clients salvage such things as windows, doors, tiles and other materials from the recycling plant. They – and you – can save  quite a bit doing this where you couldn’t really do it on their behalf unless they asked you to. They would need to choose the patterns and colours of the tiles, anyway.

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How to Get the Most Eco Friendly Air Con

ByGroovy Green Feb 26, 2017

These days with the constant use of air conditioning and heating, we may want to make sure we use the air con in a way that is eco friendly. This not only helps to save our precious resources; it also saves on running costs and will preserve the life of your air conditioning unit. Most people consider keeping the filters clean to be sufficient, but there is much more you can do to help the planet that requires little effort.

  • If you are getting a split system, make sure it’s an inverter. These have variable speed so rather than switching the compressor on and off all the time, they simply reduce its speed automatically to match demand. This results in less power use and less wear the tear on the compressor.
  • Before purchasing an air con, make sure it is the right size for your needs. If you get one that’s too big for the area to be cooled it will be constantly turning on and off, which costs more to run. If it is too small, you won’t be as cool and the unit will always be working harder to cool the area. This will make it wear out much more quickly.
  • A licensed electrician and authorised air conditioner installer will know how to estimate your heat load and tell you what size unit would be best.
  • Look at the energy rating labels on the air con before you choose what to get. The blue band is for cool air and the red band is for heat. In some cases, there is another short band above the bottom one that also contains stars. If they are solid in this area it means that air con is super efficient. 7 to 10 stars is good for efficiency and so sustainability.

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How To Be Eco Friendly In The Office

ByGroovy Green Jan 12, 2017

These days, with just a little bit of effort, everything we do can be eco friendly to some extent, whether it is at home, or at a home or work office. You may have set up business as a digital marketing agency such as Slinky Digital and work on your computer all day long. If everyone does something to reduce their carbon footprint, the result will be incredible and our precious resources will last a lot longer.

If you have a computer, you will most likely also have a printer. Not all printers are efficient, but laser printers can be said to be better than inkjet printers because the ink will not smudge if it gets wet. So when you print out a sheet, you won’t have to reprint it due to any smudges, thus saving ink. And you can usually print more with one toner cartridge than one container of ink.

Another way to ensure your printer is eco friendly is to purchase one that spits out those pages quickly. All printers use power while they are printing; if a printer takes 30 or even 10 seconds to print one page of type, it will take a lot longer and so use more power than one that can print a page in 1 or 2 seconds. So it’s important to look at the specifications of a printer before you purchase it.

So look at the pages per minute the printer will do, but also look at what other features it has that you may need. Having a printer that can hold 250 pages is a lot more convenient than one which can only hold 10 pages.

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How to Have an Environmentally Friendly Holiday

ByGroovy Green Dec 27, 2016

According to villa booking experts Easy Bali Villas when you book one of the many villas in Bali for your holiday, you may not think about being environmentally friendly, but sustainable living should be done in every country, not just the one you live in. Many people don’t consider it necessary to practice sustainability when they go overseas, but it is still just as important and can save you money as well.

So just how can you be environmentally friendly while on holidays? There are plenty of opportunities.

  • Don’t scatter your rubbish around. Instead, look for a bin, even if it is out of your way. If there are none in sight, keep your rubbish and dispose of it in a bin at your accommodation.
  • If you are purchasing gifts to take home, make them environmentally friendly choices. They should have been make in a sustainable way and be useful, rather than junk that will end up in the bin.
  • Purchase goods made locally and this includes food. Local products have not had to be shipped to Bali, so they have a smaller carbon footprint. Besides, Bali has some of the best food ever.
  • Don’t use expensive, glossy wrapping paper for your gifts as much ends up in landfill. Instead, place the gift in a nice bag that can be reused and recycled.
  • Purchase only one gift per person. Let’s face it, our kids get many presents; they don’t need to be inundated with more just because you took them on holiday. Consider the holiday itself as their gift.
  • Rather than buying a heap of cards to send back home, send digital ones. If you don’t want to go digital, use cards made with recycled paper.

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How an Enhanced Lifestyle is Part of Sustainability

ByGroovy Green Dec 6, 2015

Sustainability is not just about saving the environment. Most people would agree that it includes enhancing your lifestyle in a way that is in line with sustainable practices. For instance, adding patios in Perth, pergolas or carports can enhance the lifestyles of many people; choosing the materials that are eco-friendly and sustainable then enhances and saves the environment.

There are other ways in which a patio or a pergola can be considered eco-friendly.

  • When you spend time outside, say for alfresco dining, you can enjoy the cool of the evening without having to run the air conditioner. This saves on your costs as well as saving the earth’s resources. You may think that it would only be a small saving, but if many people do it, that small amount grows exponentially.
  • Having a patio against the side of the home will also shade it and keep it cooler, reducing the need for the air conditioner to be on, so again, the environment and your budget are both winners.
  • Here’s another way a patio or pergola can be eco-friendly. Having children’s birthday parties in them will save a great deal of wear and tear on your carpets. Eventually, this will filter back to a few less carpets being needed, so all the power that is used to make them will be reduced.  This too, may seem like a saving too minimal to count, but when taken over the whole of the country it can really mount up.

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Sustainability When Packaging Your Freight

ByGroovy Green Jul 25, 2015

When sending freight it is important to pack it in such a way as to prevent movement and breakage.  While your transport or logistics company may have rules and regulations for packaging, they may not consider sustainability to be important. But depending on the kind of freight you have, you can use environmentally friendly packaging quite easily if you put your mind to it. There are several ways of doing so.

  • Re-use old packaging from freight you’ve received in the past. It is not difficult to keep and re-use things such as boxes and bubble wrap. Most boxes can be flattened without any harm so it doesn’t take too much room to store them.
  • Find larger crates that have been used by watching the classifieds where people who have recently moved may advertise them.
  • Visit a recycling centre to see what’s on offer for packaging up your goods. You’ll find many handy packaging goods there.
  • If you receive goods on pallets that have been surrounded by plastic wrapping, it might be worth unwrapping them carefully to re-use it. The downside is that it will take more time, but not everyone is in a rush to get things done.
  • Use crumpled paper to safely pack small items. Ask friends and family to save their newspapers for you.

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10 Tips to Moving in an Environmentally Friendly Way

ByGroovy Green Jan 15, 2015

People move house for many different reasons and some have many moves over their lifetime. It seems they no sooner get settled and they have to contact a furniture removals company like Brilliance Removalists Perth. Then they start with the whole deal of packing up their goods and taking them to another new home. This may be inconvenient, but at least moving can be done in an environmentally friendly way. Here are 10 tips to show you how.

  • Use some of your linen or out of season clothes for wrapping breakables and for padding in and around the boxes. This will save on the cost and usage of bubble wrap and prevent yet more plastic going into landfill.
  • If you move a lot, flatten and store your cardboard cartons to use next time. They don’t take much room when stored flat.
  • Many retail stores receive their products in strong cartons, which are then sent to the recyclers. You can divert some of them for your own use. Try electrical goods stores and pharmacies to get free moving boxes.
  • If you don’t move much, offer those cartons to someone else who will soon be moving.
  • Some of the boxes can be used to store toys, blankets, tools and other items.
  • Sell or give larger tea chest boxes away if you don’t want them. A free ad. on gumtree will often find them a home.
  • Moving is often accompanied by cleaning. Don’t spend money on toxic cleaning products; make your own. Got mould or mildew? A ¼ of a teaspoon each of lavender oil and tea tree oil with 2 cups of water. Spray it onto the mould and don’t wipe it off. It will destroy the mould. Windows can be cleaned with equal parts of white vinegar and water.

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How Landscape Design Can be Environmentally Friendly

ByGroovy Green Aug 22, 2014

According to Landscaping Sydney, professional landscaping your property can pay dividends, especially if it is done by a professional. Not only will it increase the sales potential and value of your home, if done properly, landscape design can save a great deal on the costs of water, fertilizer and losing plants. How?

A professional can ensure your plants are suited to the area and that they are in a position in the garden that suits them best. Placing shade-lovers in a dry, sunny position and sun lovers in the shade is a recipe for plant loss. And it happens more often than you may imagine simply because we purchase plants that appeal to us in looks, not to suit the garden we have. Choosing the right plants in vital.

Some of us also tend to stick plants in the garden wherever there is a spare space and we don’t think about their watering needs. Some plants will rot away if they get too much water while others thrive on it. Put the two close together and one of them is not going to survive. The same applies when it comes to fertilisers. Some plants prefer one type while other plants don’t like any or not so much.

Australian natives especially, don’t thrive if they have a lot of fertiliser, so if they are planted with anything that is known as a gross feeder – that is, it likes a lot of fertiliser – then one of the two is not going to thrive and indeed, is likely to die off completely.

Landscape design can also be environmentally friendly when the whole property is designed to retain natural rainwater by placing garden beds in a location to catch the run-off, by terracing and by planting water lovers in damp spots. Automated watering systems that have sensors to indicate when watering is needed can save on the use and cost of water.

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Biome Smart Terrarium for Gadget-Loving Green Thumbs

ByGroovy Green Nov 29, 2011

A sign of the times – but one that may be welcome from the digitally connected among us – is this smart terrarium concept by designer Samuel Wilkinson.

Called the “Biome”, the beautiful flora terrarium is controlled exclusively (climate, water level and nutrients) via your iPad or other smartphone device. Wilkinson told MocoLogo that the idea “promotes ‘digital downtime’ by finding an alternative use for smartphones and encouraging their owners to consider a slower life. The control and nurturing of a real mini eco-system takes patience and care, contrasting with the immediacy of messaging or tweeting that is so characteristic of the smartphone generation.”

Biome was developed for a recent exhibition titled “Slow Tech – Designs for Digital Downtime”. There’s no word yet on if the Biome or its companion app will ever see the light of day as a real product

Windowfarm Kit The Latest Wonder in Micro Gardening

ByGroovy Green Nov 24, 2011

Like something straight out of scifi, this hydroponic “Windowfarm” kit is the latest solution for urban dwellers looking to grow their own food in a limited space.

It comes to us from a crowd-sourced community of 22,000 windowfarmers around the world; utilizing an approach called R&D-I-Y, or Research & Develop It Yourself. Since 2009, this collective has been working towards perfecting a micro-hydroponic kit that can grow just about any vegetable if you’ve got direct sunlight.

Their latest version has a new design, environmentally-friendly cups and wires, and an awesome reduced price (down from an original $249) of $99. To manufacture the kits, they’ve taken the Kickstarter route and, with 13 days left, have already surpassed their goal of $50,000. If you’re not keen to start your own plants, you can pick up a pack of baby plants for $49, which include 8 varieties like “Genovese Basil, a peppery watercress, perfect-caesar romaine, red leaf lettuce, tangy red-veined sorrel.”

For those that are thinking, “I could make this!” – they’ve got you covered there as well with instructions online for a “Standard 3-bottle Airlift Windowfarm” or a “Hanging 2-Column” variety. Sounds like a pretty decent holiday gift for anyone you know that’s tight on space but keen to grown their own food.

Izaak Walton League Enlists the Help of Goats

ByGroovy Green Aug 4, 2011

Faced with invasion by alien plants, the Izaak Walton League calls upon the goat justice league (well, not the real goat justice league…) to help save them from being overrun at their 33 acre property in Gaithersburg, MD.  This selective grazing technique will be employed to control the populations of Japanese honeysuckle, Garlic Mustard, Autumn Olive, and Oriental Bittersweet.

From their website:

Eliminating invasive plants – permanently – improves wildlife habitat as well as human habitat. But traditional methods of doing this over large areas involve repeated application of chemicals that could leach into our waterways. A new program is fighting nature with nature.

Eco-Goats brings a herd of goats to large properties infested with invasive species. The goats are contained within an electric fence to tackle invasive plants one acre at a time. Goats eat the invasive plants down to the ground, and goat handlers either dig up stumps or kill them with very targeted use of an herbicide.

We wish them luck, and are curious to see how this selective grazing turns out!

The goat army prepares for battle with aliens

Urban Farming, The New Way to Handle Unemployment?

ByGroovy Green May 17, 2011

Depending on which figures you choose to use, unemployment in America is approaching 20%, a figure that is quite remarkable.  Fully 1/5 of the people in America who could be working are not currently working.  I think urban farming could be this generation’s way to handle unemployment, sort of like a 2011 version of the CCC.

When you are willing to trade your labor for less space and less machinery you can create an amazing income from a small land base.  SPIN farming is a method developed by a farming couple in Canada when they realized that they could make more money by growing intensively on less land if they grew the right crops at the right times.

They have a farm income calculator on their site that suggests that a farmer with 1/2 an acre can generate $24,000 in gross sales on the low end up to $72,000 on the high end.  I think this is doable as well, but it does require a bit more marketing and growing of high value crops.  We use a CSA model for our urban farm and I don’t think that will get us to those dollar figures because a CSA model is similar to a bulk food model vs. a model where you would grow exclusively high value crops like exotic green, radishes or beets for restaurants.

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How Sustainable is Colorbond Roofing?

ByGroovy Green Mar 1, 2011

If you are re-roofing your home, you will want to choose a sustainable option.  A roof is one of the most important parts of the home; without it you cannot even live there.  But if choosing Colorbond roofing you will want to know that it ticks all the important boxes.

  • Durability
  • Strength
  • Low Maintenance
  • Aesthetic
  • Suits a wide variety of cladding
  • Offers a good number of colour options
  • Will blend into the environment or stand out as you require
  • Is quick and easy to erect, thus saving costs in time
  • Is affordable

Colorbond ticks all those boxes and more besides.  It is one roof that is approved for use in bushfire prone areas. This is not only because it is flame retardant, but because it offers very few niches for burning embers to get stuck in. Each sheet is quite long and the overlap has no niche under it, like you find on most tile roofs.  So, hot embers from an approaching bush fire simply blow off, rather than lodging on the roof and catching it alight.

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Rosalie Bay Resort Features Dominica’s First Wind Turbine

ByGroovy Green Dec 8, 2010

Resorts around the world continue to impress me with their commitment to sustainable practices — but Rosalie Bay Resort on the island of Dominica in the Caribbean is truly a standout.

Five years in the making, the 22-acre getaway was built on principles of conservation and preservation, surrounded by an undisturbed natural setting of mountains, lush forests, and gardens. In addition to solar panels, the resort also features a Norwin Turbine 225 kW — which provides some 70% of the power used by the 28 beautiful rooms in nine cottages. With these renewables in place, Rosalie is effectively self-sustaining; an epic achievement that’s yet still rare in today’s world of “green resorts”.

“Nature should be preserved and shared,” said Dr. Ken Watson, general manager. “Rosalie Bay Resort was designed to be environmentally sustainable while showcasing one of the most beautiful natural settings in the Caribbean. Many resorts claim to be green, but we’ve made a legitimate commitment with the wind turbine being the centerpiece of our pledge.”

My review of the NREL Western Wind and Solar Integration Study

ByGroovy Green Dec 7, 2010

The NREL/GE Energy WWSIS study appears to be built on several questionable assumptions, each allowing the modeled system (of up to 30% wind/5% solar in the West Connect within the great Western Interconnect) to withstand the inherent difficulties of large scale renewable integration. The primary issue, consistent with my dissertation research, is that the authors assume that we can afford to massively overbuild the capacity of the system, adding the large percentages of renewable generation on top of newly built and existing plants. This allows one to be able to ignore the hourly or sub-hourly periods with extremely low output from renewables, as well as the days or weeks at a time during the summer when wind production is well below yearly average output levels. An ample reserve is at the ready to step in when renewables perform poorly. Secondly and equally important, the authors assume that coal plants, which have traditionally run in a base load capacity, will be able to be operated very flexibly – on par with combined cycle gas plants.

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Green Poetry: “Streams of Consciousness”

ByGroovy Green Nov 19, 2010

The biggest environmental challenge we face is educating people

Our globe is a big community

We interact

We affect our surroundings

Without knowledge there is consequence

Specialization is prominent

But familiarity with all systems is essential

To know a tree dies but not why

Could be a plague

We care about trivial things at times

What is on TV?

No, where will my next sip of water come from?

Once we understand

We can adapt

Systems can be in balance

A quiet lake, a deep ocean, and a steep mountain

What can we learn about life?

Careful observation and ongoing education

One day, our world will be of one mind

——————–

Ed Note:  Thanks Jessica for being the first from SUNY-ESF to submit a post.  Interested in posting at Groovy Green?  Use the “Contact” tab above.

Coming Next Week – College Bloggers

ByGroovy Green Nov 13, 2010

Students from SUNY-ESF will be taking over Groovy Green next week.  Get the perspective of the future environmental leaders of America (and places beyond).

Come back and see us next week, starting Thursday 11/18/10 and see what they have to say.

How to be Eco Friendly with Home Renovations

ByGroovy Green Jul 9, 2010

When you are planning a home renovation it is very exciting, especially if it is for your own home. It is wonderful to see the change as the home renovation progresses and know that it will really enhance your lifestyle.  You can be eco- friendly with home renovations during the equipment hire phase as well as in choosing building materials and finishes.

Choosing the right equipment for the job is essential and will save time as well as help to reduce the impact the renovation has on the environment around you. Plant hire need not be difficult; the hiring company will help you choose the best machine for the job.

You will also need to choose building materials that are eco-friendly. Bamboo is a good choice for kitchen cupboards and other built-ins. Bamboo grows quickly so it a renewable resource. You could also think about using recycled materials. There are many recycling places especially for builders and carpenters. You can find windows, doors, bath tubs, kitchen sinks and cupboards, flooring and left over cut timber from other home building projects. Why waste all that, especially when it will save money as well as the environment.

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The Facts About Bottled Water

ByGroovy Green May 22, 2010

Bottled water is surely one of the biggest jokes ever played on humanity. With plentiful supplies of clean water, first world countries still spends a horrifying amount of money on boutique water — some sourced from half-way around the globe.

The image above is but a piece of a stunning infographic from Online Education detailing the damaging effects of bottled water on our planet — and wallets. Check out the full image after the jump below:

bottled_water

Review: The Book of Rubbish Ideas

ByGroovy Green Feb 21, 2010

The Book of Rubbish Ideas is anything but rubbish. It is FULL of excellent tips to help eco-newbies and hard-core Greens see rubbish as a resource, cut down on waste, and save time, money and resources as a result.

Don’t be put off by the quirky cover; author, Tracey Smith, a contented downshifter, aims to take the freaky out of eco, and her book is accessible, practical and positive. There’s no holier-than-thou attitude to reusable nappies, washable sanpro and chicken-keeping; we are encouraged to ditch the guilt for what we are not doing and start feeling good about what we are doing.

Tracey takes you on a tour through the average family home, from bedroom and bathroom through to the kitchen and out into the garden, including the Usually Male Domain of shed and garage, which so often get missed out where decluttering’s concerned.

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Renewable Energy Company Creating The Biggest Green Party You’ve Ever Seen

ByGroovy Green Jan 4, 2010

We love raucous festivals like Burning Man and music jamborees like Bonaroo, but we’ve never heard of one that combines the spirit of these events with the mission to actually accomplish something. Like building a build a micro wind turbine farm.

Such is the idea behind “Villages in the Sky: DIY World Change” — a a family-friendly renewable energy and sustainability celebration located in the Ozarks and scheduled for June 2010. Unlike gatherings that strive to leave things the way they were before anyone arrived, Villages in the Sky is looking to take advantage of crowd sourcing to create a better place than existed before. Participants will help build a micro wind turbine farm and bio-mass systems as well as giant play structures (zip lines, tree houses, ropes courses, etc). The entire event is internally cash free event which promotes a volunteer ethic and strangers working cooperatively for a shared goal. In fact, the main goal is to leave behind the beginnings of a locally self sufficient eco-village. Perhaps even one inspired by the Ewoks. From the website,

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Crazy Treehouse Could Probably House A Small Village

ByGroovy Green Oct 28, 2009

When you were a kid, did you ever dream up the goal of one day building the largest treehouse ever? For Horrace Burgess in Tennessee, that dream became a reality with this gargantuan structure that features 11 floors and more than 8,000 sq.ft. of real estate. From ZuZuTop,

The greatness of Horrace Burgess treehouse is not subject to the tree on which it is based alone though. As it turns out, while the tree in question does contribute something to the height of the treehouse, the owner’s efforts also go a long way towards this greatness possible. The tree’s contribution to the 97 foot edifice is only 80 feet, so that the other 17 feet on top of the basic 80 foot are from Horrace’s sheer effort. To be sure, we can’t begrudge the base tree of a claim to greatness too: a tree towering at 80 feet in height and with a diameter of over 12 feet is a real wonder.

Incredibly enough, Burgess isn’t done yet. This whole project, which he estimates to have cost north of $12,000, is still a work in progress. Tower of Babylon anyone?

The Green Picture: How Far Away Is The Nearest McDonald’s?

ByGroovy Green Sep 25, 2009

Thanks to Stephen von Worley at Weather Sealed, we now have a pretty decent visual of how fast food chain McDonald’s dominates our country. Worley mapped the 13,000+ locations of McDonald’s across the lower 48 states — presenting a beautiful, but depressing look at the density of the Mickey D’s empire. From his report,

“For maximum McSparseness, we look westward, towards the deepest, darkest holes in our map. There, in a patch of rolling grassland, loosely hemmed in by Bismarck, Dickinson, Pierre, and the greater Rapid City-Spearfish-Sturgis metropolitan area, we find our answer. Between the tiny Dakotan hamlets of Meadow and Glad Valley lies the McFarthest Spot: 107 miles distant from the nearest McDonald’s, as the crow flies, and 145 miles by car!”

Note to self: Move to Dakota.

Solar-Powered Sleeve Coming To iPhone, Blackberry, Other Mobile Handhelds

ByGroovy Green Jul 29, 2009

We’ve seen plenty of solar-charger accessories for mobile phones and other gadgets, but this is the first one that appears to attach seamlessly. Created by product design firm MotionTouch for a company called Powcell, this solar-powered sleeve slides onto the back of a mobile phone handset and uses light to charge the unit.

The large solar panel provides the greatest surface area for light-capture and maximises the sleeve’s efficiency, including working in some ambient light conditions. And Powcell continues to charge its internal battery even when removed from the phone – so when reconnected it provides talk-time even if the device battery is exhausted.

Ahead of full production the sleeve has attracted considerable interest from major phone manufacturers, which have even approached Powcell about sleeves for future, yet-to-launch models of their phones.

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IZIP Trekking Enlightened Hybrid-Electric Bike: First Impressions

ByGroovy Green Jul 16, 2009

If you’ve ever lived in or visited Ithaca, NY your probably familiar with the phrase “Ithaca is gorges”. It’s a funny little saying that gives a good indication of the region’s topography — hills, hills, and steeper hills. In fact, the inclines we have around here would make even Lance Armstrong break a sweat. So, it was with great expectation that I took advantage of an opportunity to review the IZIP Trekking Enlightened hybrid-electric bicycle from Currie Technologies. Could it be possible to bike to work and not immediately have to take another shower?

I’m still figuring that out — and will have a full review shortly — but so far, I have to say that I’m very impressed with the technology being utilized in this bike. First off, this isn’t one of those bikes that you hit a switch and kick back while the electric motors putts you along. The IZIP instead is an electric-assist — giving you some extra torque to help you up some tough inclines. To that end, you still have to pedal. The beauty of this system is that you can choose to have it on or off — or at different levels of assist. About to hit a hill and want some support? Simply press the “+” button on the left handlebar and watch the LCD indicator light a few bars higher. Want to back off? Hit the “-” button. It’s as simple as that — and believe me, you still get a workout.

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Enjoy A Private Solar Shower In This Personal Pop-Up Tent

ByGroovy Green Jun 19, 2009

Enjoy solar showers, but really want to be completely naked in the process? Unless you’re in a nudist colony, that option might be not available on a public beach. However, this innovative (and stylish) pop-up privacy tent from Guide Gear will hide your bits and bops while giving you a clean, hot rinse. The 6.5 lb tent is quick to setup and includes a 5-gallon PVC Solar Shower. Said one recent reviewer:

Our family has always been more on the “minimal” side for car camping trips, but with my 23 year old daughter and her friends along on our recent trip, we needed a shower. We bought a Zodi water heater and this pop up shower tent. Great decision! The tent pops up in a second, nothing to put together and added almost no weight or bulk to our gear. The olive green material provided total coverage, blended nicely with the outdoor terrain, and had plenty of room for big guys. The 3 adjustments we made were adding a clip/clothespin to attach the shower head to the top, a chair right outside to hang towel and clothes (it cannot support much weight), and a large plastic pan to stand on. With those items, we had eight of us showering daily with no hitch.

That being said, you could also just go and jump in the nearest river. While this item is indeed handy, it may just be another piece of “baggage” that’s rather unnecessary when camping. To each their own, however — you be the judge.

Worm Bins: Three Effective Wiggly Composting Machines

ByGroovy Green Jun 2, 2009

I have a healthy appreciation for Worm Bins after managing to get through a winter with a DIY version in my basement. Those little red wigglers made fast work of my food scraps and were a nice alternative to trudging to the compost pile in the cold. Plus, the “instant compost” went right into the soil mix for my seedlings and proved a nice boost for spring planting. However, I know my system rather sucks — not enough aeration, poor drainage, and no easy way to access the all-valued “worm tea”. There are plenty of excellent instructions for making your own worm bin online (I took over my current bin from a friend) — but I thought it would worth it highlighting some of the brands out there for those that want to get started right away.

Can-O-Worms | Price: $129.00 (can probably find it cheaper)

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Global Warming Swimming Pool Delivers Clever Message

ByGroovy Green May 28, 2009

Back in November, British banking giant HSBC did a clever thing with a swimming pool: they took a picture of New York City from above and applied it to the bottom to make a point about climate change and rising sea levels. The effect is nothing short of amazing. My eyeballs are still having trouble not believing these people aren’t swimming a thousand feet above the NY skyline. Granted, sea levels would never rise that much — and the water probably wouldn’t be crystal clear (or toxin-free) — but, it still makes you think.

Global Warming Pool

gw swimming pool

Google Street View Camera Goes Low-Tech With Trike Version

ByGroovy Green May 21, 2009

Google’s Street View fleet has a new low-tech edition: the Google Trike. For those not familiar with the street capture technology, it’s a feature on Google Maps that allows you to view actual images of a street location — in 360 degrees. Beyond the fascinating technology that puts this all together — what’s even more impressive is the army of employees out there on the roads of America (and almost every other country) taking panoramic snapshots using the Google camera vehicles.

Of course, cars (thankfully) aren’t allowed to go everywhere. But that hasn’t stopped Google. The search engine giant has instead hacked a trike to carry the necessary equipment to get the digital deed done. From Autobloggreen,

The three-wheeled, human-powered overgrown tricycles carry 250 pounds of ballast in the form of “a mounted Street View camera and a specially decorated box containing image collecting gadgetry,” says the internet giant. All that extra heft reportedly requires a “specially trained super fit” rider. Google’s new trikes will be deployed first in Genoa, Italy, this spring. Assuming that launch proves successful, Google will send its pedal-powered cameras to the United Kingdom, where they’ll point their lenses towards a slew of famous British landmarks.

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The Largest Wind Turbine Propeller We’ve Ever Seen Is 6MW Of Enormity

ByGroovy Green Apr 23, 2009

Remember that picture we had a few months back of a helicopter taking off of an enormous wind turbine? Yea, that 3.6MW behemoth today looks normal compared to this 6MW monster being installed in Germany. Apparently, it’s one of the two currently going up in the city of Hamburg. Huge — just huge.

Inflatable Shower Curtain Will Help Save Water, Kill You

ByGroovy Green Apr 21, 2009

There are lots of ways to take shorter showers — saving you money, water, etc. We’ve seen shower timers and spouts that turn different colors as time goes on — but the inflatable shower curtain is the first one that seriously forces you to get in and get out, lest you want to suffocate or become trapped.

The idea was designed by Elisabeth Buecher who answered the question: “How can your shower fight water overconsumption in either a disturbing or a gorgeous way, using innovative materials, printing techniques and inflatable technology?” Her response: This shower curtain slowly inflates around you while you shower. It leaves you only a few minutes to take your shower before trapping you.

She’s also got one with inflatable spikes that slowly push you out over a period of time. I actually prefer that one to getting trapped in plastic.

The Green Picture: Glowing Array Of Fluorescent Bulbs Powered By Ambient Electricity

ByGroovy Green Apr 10, 2009

You know those electric fields from power lines that some people are always complaining about? Turn out they may have something be worried about. At least, that’s what I can surmise after viewing these photos of an art project on an English farm. The installation is called FIELD and creator Richard Box came up with the idea after hearing about a colleague playing light sabergames with a fluorescent tube beneath power lines in his backyard. So, he bribed a local farmer to let him take a crack at installing 1301 fluorescent bulbs underneath his power lines and “voila” — instant ambient energy. The UK Guardian explains a bit more:

A fluorescent tube glows when an electrical voltage is set up across it. The electric field set up inside the tube excites atoms of mercury gas, making them emit ultraviolet light. This invisible light strikes the phosphor coating on the glass tube, mak ing it glow. Because powerlines are typically 400,000volts, and Earth is at an electrical potential of zero volts, pylons create electric fields between the cables they carry and the ground. Box denies that he aimed to draw attention to the potential dangers of powerlines. “For me, it was just the amazement of taking something that’s invisible and making it visible,” he says. “When it worked, I thought: ‘This is amazing.’”

My home is right under some power lines. Needless to say, I’m moving.

Rain Barrel Rain Chains Offer A Pleasing Alternative To Downspouts

ByGroovy Green Mar 23, 2009

Ever forward on my mission to get more people using rain barrels, I wanted to draw some attention today to the beauty of rain chains. Since aesthetics outside the home is often of great importance to some, plastic or metal downspouts can sometimes be less than pleasing going into your rustic rain barrel. Rain chains are a nice alternative if you’re looking for something else to complete the picture. Harvest H20 gives us a great description of how they work:

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The Jellyfish: A 36” Personal Wind Turbine For The Masses

ByGroovy Green Mar 16, 2009

Imagine a personal wind turbine that can power a home filled with LED lights — and also only cost $400. Such is the idea behind the Jellyfish — a 36” tall vertical-axis turbine that is a semi-finalist in Google’s 10 to the 100th contest–$10 million for the 5 ideas that helps the most people.

The inventor, Chad Maglaque, figures the total cost of the turbine could be brought down to only $199 — if subsidized with tax rebates. His current version, which he believes is only 12-to-18-months away from stores, is Wi-Fi and WiMax equipped and outputs 40 kWh a month. That’s not enough to take your home off-grid, but it would offset a percentage of energy consumption from other, not-so-green sources. Here’s a bit more detail from the website:

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Green Mansion Comes With An Ocean Floor View

ByGroovy Green Mar 6, 2009

While the words “green” and “mansion” don’t really play nice together, this home — called the Acqua Liana — is certainly a testament to big-thinking green design.

Coming in at over 15,000 square-feet, the Liana resides on about 1.6 acres near the Atlantic Ocean. It is the first home to be built and certified to the rigorous “green” standards as defined and mandated by the U.S. Green Building Council, the Florida Green Building Council and Energy Star for Homes. Some of the green features include:

Solar panels generating enough energy to run the entire home on certain days (generating enough electricity to run 2 average sized homes). When combining the home’s solar use, energy efficient appliances and air-conditioning, insulative characteristics and overall architectural design, the home’s automated bio-feedback system will display its energy efficiency in real time.

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Is it Time to Sign Up for E-billing?

ByGroovy Green Jan 14, 2009

Ebillplace.com released a video recently discussing some of the environmental impact of replacing your paper bills with electronic bills.  I was surprised by the impact and just had to share.

· Eliminating the mail Americans receive in one day could produce enough energy to heat 250,000 homes.

· Every year, producing and transporting paper checks has the same environmental impact as burning 674 million gallons of fuel. That’s 1,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools full of gas, oil and diesel fuel.

· If every American turned off just one paper bill, it would save enough paper to stack as tall as 1,000 Empire State buildings.

Ever Wonder How Large Those Super-Big Wind Turbines Are?

ByGroovy Green Jan 6, 2009

Just one look at the above photo gives you a sense of just how large a 3.6MW wind turbine really is. The image comes to us from Eurocopter — who were just contracted to be used exclusively for wind farm maintenance in the UK. Apparently, these 3.6MW monsters are so tall that it’s a bit quicker to get up there via helicopter and make emergency repairs than to try and scale ‘em through the internal ladder system.

Called the “Greater Gabbard wind farm” near the East Anglia coast — the 140 turbines will be located 20 miles from land in the North Sea. When completed in 2010, it will be the largest wind farm in the world.