Sustainable Living

Fun Themes to Try in Your Landscape Design

ByGroovy Green Sep 26, 2019

If you’ve been thumbing through the pages of a home and landscape design magazine, you’ll quickly learn that there can be a lot more to the process than you might have first thought. While you can have a few ideas and designs in mind, the best landscape design is one with a theme. But what theme is going to work for you? Here are a few fun options to show your landscape expert before you begin.

An English Country Cottage

While many parts of Australia are far too hot to really pull off an English cottage look, some boast the perfect conditions. Talk to your local landscape expert about the best flowers to offer premium ground cover and colour.

It also helps if you have the basis for that cottage appeal, such as a country-style home, rolling lawns, and shady trees. Your landscaper can then work their magic with a pond or waterfall renovation and dozens of beautiful cottage flowers to complete the look.

Cool, Calm, and Collected

If you want your garden to be a reflection of your ‘cool, calm, and collected’ personality, then maybe a touch of European in your landscape design is the answer. Europeans love their hedges to be meticulously pruned and maintained with straight lines and dense bush.

European yards also have spacious courtyards with minimal hassle or fuss, a feature fountain, and resting areas. Talk to your local landscaper to see what they can do for you.

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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 to be Eco Friendly with Home Renovations

ByGroovy Green Jul 9, 2016

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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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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How Sustainable is Colorbond Roofing?

ByGroovy Green Aug 1, 2012

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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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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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.

Can a “One-legged” Man Stay Green?

ByGroovy Green Nov 12, 2010

I’ve had the humbling experience of undergoing ankle surgery about 2 months ago.  As a father of a near-two year old, and a husband, it has been extremely difficult to shift from the role of a provider and equal member of the household to a person initially very dependent on others.

My family and friends have been very supportive, and where we still needed some help, we were able to find babysitters, someone to help clean, and someone to do the annual fall clean-up.

I’ve progressed  over the last month from a doped-up, leg-elevated, impression in my couch to a semi-functioning member of my family and society.  I’m back to work, and trying to catch up on my PhD studies.  Still, its a big challenge to hop from place to place, and occasionally catch a ride in a wheelchair during longer outings.  Let’s just say that I’ve had plenty of time to think.

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Cleveland’s RFID-enabled Recycle Bins Report When You’re Not Using Them

ByGroovy Green Sep 9, 2010

Cleveland’s City Council recently passed a $2.5 million measure to bring RFID-equipped recycling bins to 25,000 homes over the course of the next year. Hey, nothing like encouraging a little green behavior. But this one carries a catch:

The chips will allow city workers to monitor how often residents roll carts to the curb for collection. If a chip show a recyclable cart hasn’t been brought to the curb in weeks, a trash supervisor will sort through the trash for recyclables.

Trash carts containing more than 10 percent recyclable material could lead to a $100 fine, according to Waste Collection Commissioner Ronnie Owens.

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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

Offshore Oil :: Drill Baby Drill :: The Obama Plan

ByGroovy Green Mar 31, 2010

usoilconsumption

What follows is something I posted in September of 2008. The US presidential campaign was building up steam and I was sick and tired of hearing ‘Drill Baby Drill.’ It made me ill because of the stupidity of the entire argument. I wrote,

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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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A Groovy Green Reader Gives Up Her Car

ByGroovy Green Feb 17, 2010

[ed note:] This post was sent to us by Tammy Roberts, from West Yorkshire, UK:

I’M GIVING UP MY CAR

I didn’t learn to drive until I was 30.  Up until that point, I hadn’t seen the point of having a car or even having the ability to drive, as public transport was convenient enough.  However, 2 months before my 30th birthday, I moved to Plymouth for a new job and for the first time, I discovered how difficult it was to do my outreach work without a driving license – my job covered the whole of Devon and Cornwall.  Within 6 months, I passed my driving test and around 4 months later, I bought my first car – my beloved Fiat Tipo.  Yes, it was cheap and a bit of a banger and had all the quirks and faults that are found on most Italian cars (it’s a standing joke on Top Gear), but I loved it nonetheless!  And, my goodness, did I love the freedom that being a car owner gave me!  I was off to the beach at weekends and I drove back home to Yorkshire once a month to visit family and friends.  No more sharing my personal space on a 7 hour train journey, and trying to carry my own weight in luggage.  It was fantastic!  I even moved back to Yorkshire with my car full of my belongings, with a friend following behind, his car equally laden with my stuff.  I could not believe that I hadn’t learned to drive sooner and found that I needed my car for work more and more as I moved from job to job  When I had my son, 4 years ago, having a car was a bonus.  I remember a childhood of long bus journeys to shopping destinations with my mum, gran and my sister and it was so nice to be able to jump in the car with William in his baby seat and set off on day trips or to visit friends.

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World’s Largest Wind Turbine To Float Off Norway

ByGroovy Green Feb 16, 2010

We’ve seen mega-turbines before — but never one with an output of 10MW, and certainly not one that floats!

When completed, the world’s largest turbine will stand at roughly 533 feet with a rotor diameter of 475 feet. At three times more powerful than current turbines, it will be able to power over 2,000 homes. From Treehugger,

It will be built by the Norwegian company Sway and tested first on land in Oeygarden, southwestern Norway. Unlike most offshore wind projects where turbines rest on the seafloor, Sway turbines float. This means further offshore development where winds are stronger and more consistent.

The floating tower is a pole filled with ballast beneath the water creating low center of gravity. Anchored to the seabed with a single pipe and a suction anchor, it can tilt 5-8°, and turn around with the wind.

It’s expected that the prototype will cost close to $70 million and be completed sometime in 2011.

Biosphere 2, Meet the Second Law of Thermodynamics

ByGroovy Green Jan 13, 2010

My graduate school advisor, Charles Hall, is a very intelligent man, though he frequently defers to his doctoral advisor’s talent and knowledge.  Howard Odum explained the first and second laws of thermodynamics concisely and in a manner easy to understand:

The quantity of energy within a system is maintained (first law).  However, the quality of that energy degrades over time (second law).

Entropy is defined as

a function of thermodynamic variables, as temperature, pressure, or composition, that is a measure of the energy that is not available for work during a thermodynamic process. A closed system evolves toward a state of maximum entropy.

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Up is Down. Black is White. Night is Day. GM’s Lutz Advocates for Increased Gas Tax

ByGroovy Green Jan 13, 2010

From CNNMoney.com:

Lutz was asked if that means he would favor higher gasoline taxes, as in Europe where taxes drive fuel to more than $5 a gallon. He said he couldn’t speak for GM, but he said he saw a lot of value in a steady tax rise to much higher levels.

“You either continue with inexpensive motor fuels and have to find other ways to incent the customer to buy hybrids and electric vehicles, such as the government credits,” he said. “Or the other alternative is a gradual increase in the federal fuel tax of 25 cents a year, which in my estimation would have the benefit of giving automobile companies a planning base, and giving families that own vehicles a planning base.”

Lutz continued, noting that if families knew that the price of gasoline were going to steadily increase over the next few years, they would change their buying habits and lean towards more fuel efficient vehicles.

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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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Spyware Disguised As Eco Antivirus Tricking Users

ByGroovy Green Jan 3, 2010

Environmentally-conscious PC owners beware! There’s a fairly recent spyware virus out there that takes advantage of the green movement to promote an entirely different agenda.

Called “Eco Antivirus”, the app poses as green security software — offering to help conserve the energy your computer consumes while searching for malicious bugs. Unfortunately, the app is a malicious program itself that “bombards the screen with a series of fake security warnings, deceiving scans and aggressive marketing designed to persuade the user to visit the Eco AntiVirus website to purchase the malicious software.”

While those infected have reported it being something of a nightmare to remove the spyware, there are now legit apps to handle this wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Lesson here? Don’t download suspicious software without first doing a bit of googling to pull back the curtain on any BS green claims. Even software can greenwash.

Buying An Electric Car? You Might Want To Order Your Charging Station Now

ByGroovy Green Jan 3, 2010

2010 will most likely go down as the year electric cars were (once again) made available to the public through Big Auto. Both Nissan and Chevy have plans to release the Leaf and Volt respectively — and both focus on getting energy from being plugged in. (Although the Volt can charge its battery utilizing its small “range-extender engine”, but then what’s the point of having an electric car?)

If you’ve got the deep pockets for one, the most conventional way of charging the vehicle will be to simply plug it into an ordinary wall socket. Charging a Nissan Leaf would take up to 16 hours, and charging a Volt would take eight. If you’re in a hurry, however, the best thing to have on-hand in the garage is a “quick charger” — which pushes a much more considerable amount of juice to your car. Instead of 8 hours, you can now have a fully charged Volt in under 2.5 hours.

Unfortunately, having a quick charger installed in your garage is not something just anyone can do.

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.

Auerworld Willow Palace: Celebrating 10 Years Of Growing Green

ByGroovy Green Aug 18, 2009

Continuing on our post from yesterday about the living root bridges of India, we present to you this beautiful creation now celebrating 10 years.

Started in 1999 by architect Marcel Kalberer and a group of 300 volunteers, the Auerworld Willow Palace is a canopy of strategically-placed trees woven together. The project was based on ancient techniques used in both Mesopotamian and European structures. The Willow Palace has proven so popular, that it is now the focal point of “Full Moon” celebrations that draw thousands.

Since Kalberer began creating natural structures back in 1984, he’s helped design more than 70 additional projects throughout Europe — and inspired thousands more willow designs around the world.

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.