Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Finally an App to kill The Printed Catalogue

The holiday season is the shopping season. It is also the catalog season, with tens of millions of glossy catalogs sent out to encourage people to shop. Although there's nothing new about it, this year we can finally say there is a light at the end of the catalog tunnel. I'm talking about Catalog Spree, "the ultimate digital catalog shopping experience for the iPad."

This iPad app represents an alternative that finally can beat the printed catalogs: It's convenient, user-friendly, provides customers with a fun and easy shopping experience and retailers with an effective way to engage with customers, not to mention a better ROI. In other words, it's a game changer.

I don't know about you, but I see printed catalogs as one of the most vivid examples for the unsustainability of the existing economic model. Think about it — each year, about 19 billion catalogs are mailed to American consumers. It means that every American receives more than 60 catalogs every year on average. Why? Because according to the Direct Marketing Association, printed catalogs provide a 7 to 1 ROI and an impressive direct order response rate of 2.24 percent. With such impressive figures, is it surprising retailers are printing hundreds of billions of catalogs every year?

Yet, the only reason printed catalogs generate such ROI is because retailers don't pay for their environmental impacts. These externalities include, according to Catalog Choice, 53 million trees that produce 3.6 million tons of paper, 5.2 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, and 53 billion gallons of wastewater. If you would add these elements to the bill, I doubt how attractive the ROI of catalogs will look then.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas recycling ideas

Have a Green Christmas!

Look for reuse and recycling opportunities as you replace appliances, electronics and computers.

Discarded cell phones may be donated for Domestic Violence Programs though your cell services provider.

Discarded electronics (computers, copiers, fax machines, printers, monitors) may be donated to a local nonprofit, parent-teacher association or the Louisiana Corporate Recycling Council's computers for schools program, 225.379.3577. Parts that cannot be refurbished can be sent for dismantling.

Appliances may either be donated or sent for recycling.

Outgrown toys and clothes and furniture may be donated to organizations like Salvation Army, Paralyzed Veterans, or Volunteers of America.
Look for ways to avoid creating garbage. Rather than wrapping gifts for the youngsters, hide the presents, and turn Christmas into a treasure hunt. Create you own recyclable wrapping paper by using the Sunday comics, magazines and wrapping paper recovered from previous events.

Practice "pre-cycling" by taking recycling or reuse into consideration when you buy. How do you do this? Simple. Consider an artificial tree that does not have to be discarded or recycled and is not a fire hazard. You can buy a live tree and plant it in your yard after the holidays. If you buy a cut tree, plan your decorations to minimize flocking, tinsel, and decorations that will have to be removed before recycling. Check with your local solid waste officials, recycler, or waste company to determine local requirements. Trees that have lights, ornaments, excessive tensile, spray or flocking or include stands or plastic bags simply add to the garbage collection. Most Louisiana municipal and parish tree collections are held during the first two weeks of January. Trees are collected for use in coastal restoration projects or used in compost projects. Check out the Coastal Restoration Division of the Department of Natural Resources on the use of Christmas trees in coastal Louisiana.

Innovate Your Gift-Wrapping.

Save and reuse gift bags. Home made and endlessly reusable Christmas theme fabric with Velcro fasteners can substitute for paper wrap. Large or odd size gifts maybe placed in Christmas theme fabric bags with drawstring tops. Used attractive, decorative gift boxes and forego wrapping.

You Are Not Really Recycling Until You Buy Recycled.

Many more quality products are being made with recycled content. From fleece jackets made with recycled plastic to shirts, shoes and most paper products. Recycled content products are widely available. Ask your retailer if you cannot find the product you want in recycled content.

This article was taken from the ENN Newsletter.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Green and Gorgeous Remodeling: Eco-friendly Countertops

Countertops of the Future

Stop wasting precious natural resources on your kitchen's countertops. Several brilliant companies now offer environmentally responsible surfaces. Some are made of a mixture of recycled components, others simply make use of an eco-favorite material like bamboo (such as this gorgeous surface from Teragren). All present attractive and viable alternatives to conventional countertops.

Icestone Recycled Glass and Concrete Surface

For a truly eco-kitchen, get a countertop that removes waste from our local landfills. IceStone countertops are fashioned from recycled glass and concrete. Produced by an environmentally friendly manufacturing process involving wind and natural light, IceStone surfaces rival the strength of quarried stone while actively reducing landfill waste and CO2 emissions. Available through

Bamboo Countertop

Bamboo provides an excellent environmental alternative to hardwood countertops. Rapidly renewable and sustainable, bamboo is also highly durable, as in this countertop from Teragren.

Best of all, bamboo is a truly beautiful material and will add a natural flair to even the most high-tech kitchens. A wide variety of bamboo flooring options are also available at

PaperStone Countertops

PaperStone surfaces are made from 100 percent postconsumer paper waste. The paper is compressed into a solid block, then covered in natural resin. Strong, durable and beautiful, this recycled and recyclable material provides a perfect solution for any kitchen counter. Available through

100 Percent HDPE Surfaces

Construction waste accounts for more than 15 percent of the trash deposited into landfills. Luckily, 3form found a way to make one man's trash into another's treasure.

3form's '100 Percent' surface is made from 100 percent postconsumer HDPE, a plastic commonly found in landfills. The collection comes in a wide range of colors and textures. Available through

3form Chroma Surfaces

nnovative materials company 3form provides surface solutions that can be reprocessed and reinstalled in 'like-new' condition. For example, 3form's colored resin panels, called Chroma, are designed to be colored and recolored again. This allows panels to be multi-cycled into new architectural installations, preventing product 'down-cycling.' See more at

EnviroGlas Recycled Countertop

Enviroglas countertops are made from recycled glass and porcelain, making them a green alternative to granite. Countertops are durable, unique and come from a sustainable source.

This Article and all its parts was taken from TDG written by Olivia Zaleski

Bicycle Power

How to get to work and such. Always a perplexing problem. European Union (EU) wide reductions of GHG (greenhouse gas emissions) are under scrutiny by many critics as the progress and actual results seem to fall short of the goals set by the EU this year. Recent reports affirm that the EU will not achieve the reduction of transport emissions by 60% between 1990 and 2050 through technology alone. An interesting take on the subject is revealed by a recent study authored by the European Cyclists' Federation (ECF), which has quantified emissions savings of cycling compared with other modes of transport. Even taking into account the production, maintenance and fuel [food] related to bicycle use, emissions from cycling were over 10 times lower than those stemming from the passenger car.

Key findings include:

Emissions from cycling are over 10 times lower than those stemming from the passenger car, even taking into account the additional dietary intake of a cyclist compared with that of a motorized transport user.

E-bikes, despite their electric assistance, have emissions in the same range as ordinary bicycles. Considering E-bikes allows for 56% longer daily commutes and substitutes the car for 39% of trips, they have a huge potential to further reduce transport emissions.

Bicycle-share schemes also have the potential to reduce further emissions, considering it is a substitute for motorized transport for 50-75% of the users.

If levels of cycling in the EU-27 were equivalent to those found in Denmark in 2000, bicycle use would achieve 26% of the 2050 GHG target set for the transport sector

Around the turn of the 20th century, bicycles reduced crowding in inner-city tenements by allowing workers to commute from more spacious dwellings in the suburbs. They also reduced dependence on horses. Bicycles allowed people to travel for leisure into the country, since bicycles were three times as energy efficient as walking and three to four times as fast.

In Europe, especially in The Netherlands and parts of Germany and Denmark, commuting by bicycle is very common. In the Danish capital of Copenhagen, a cyclists' organization runs a Cycling Embassy, that promotes biking for commuting and sightseeing. The United Kingdom has a tax break scheme (IR 176) that allows employees to buy a new bicycle tax free to use for commuting.

This Article was taken from ENN Newsletter

Green Christmas suggestions from IzzitGreen

Just in time for our readers’ last minute Christmas Shopping, our friends from IzzitGreen have come up with five great eco-friendly Holiday gifts. As an additional eco-incentive 50% of the proceeds earned for any purchase of the Get to Know Nature bag will go directly to the Get to Know organization and help support their mission to keep the National Parks of the U.S. and Canada vibrant. Enjoy!

Get to Know NatureBag

The NatureBag is packed full of fun activities designed to support Get to Know’s main mission to connect kids with the great outdoors. The all-weather activity booklet and other accessories encourage exploration and natural awareness through lead experiential activities. Pack up all the eco-friendly tools made from recycled materials into the unique fair trade, organic cotton shoulder bag and away you go! Last year the Get to Know NatureBag received the Gold Medal Award from Parent’s Choice as an eco-friendly and socially sound choice. GrowBottles


Everything you need to grow fresh herbs and gain the culinary respect (or envy) of your friends is packaged into these beautiful recycled GrowBottles, and they're made completely with sourced and re-purposed materials. With a little water and love the GrowBottles can continue to produce year after year with your own seeds or one of the refill kits. Thanks to brilliant design and the power of hydroponics, growing fresh herbs indoors has never been so easy. Available in Oregano, Chives, Basil, Parsley and Mint certified organic seed varieties.

Presso Espresso Machine

The perfect gift for the eco-conscious espresso lover on your list. The Presso offers delicious, rich espresso unplugged, literally. The beautifully simple design uses little more than the strength of recyclable steel and your biceps. A truly minimalist approach to creating an exquisitely thick treat, prepared for your sipping pleasure in less time than it takes electric machines to start to steam. Plus, clean up is a piece of cake. Just dump and rinse!

Miniwiz iPhone Re-Case

This innovative iPhone case is 100% made from trash! However, you'd never know it looking at the elegant, snap-on design made from this highly durable re-engineered material. The ergonomic ripple design fits perfectly in your hand and the light cross-hatch pattern looks fantastic. The snug fit offers nothing but reliable protection and the extra space for an RFID card is a incredibly valuable bonus.<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

Wool Striped Scarf

Scarves are incredible. All warmth and style without the bulk of an extra layer. This scarf by Gaiam is extra special because it’s hand loomed with 100% superwash sustainable wool making it sinfully soft and unique. Plus, the pretty pattern is a perfect addition to any outfit. Let it drape, wrap it into cowl, or sling it over your shoulder.

For more unique, green gift ideas visit

Monday, December 12, 2011

An innovative project led by a chemistry academic at the University of Southampton is using solar generators to provide IT resources and 'hands-on' science for students in developing countries.

The Shadows in a City Reveal Its Energy Flow

Researchers at the Technical University of Madrid (UPM, Spain) have created "shadow models" and a type of software that calculates the amount of solar radiation that reaches streets and buildings in high resolution. According to the results published in the Research Journal of Chemistry and Environment, they could help to optimise the energy consumption of cities.

The energy optimisation of a city

San José states that "the results can serve as a tool for sustainability and energy optimisation in cities from both an architectural (a shaded building requires more internal heating that a building in the sun) and urban planning point of view. In this sense, results can be used in the search for harmony between human and natural energy consumption."

The researcher exemplifies this: "The heating is often turned on during the day and turned off at the night but in some cases could be the other way around. For instance, sometimes the amount of solar radiation that reaches a building is enough to keep in the warmth that has accumulated from the heating being on during the night."

This study forms part of the European BRIDGE Project on urban metabolism, a concept that perceives the city as a living organism in search for a sustainable energy balance. The department of urban planning at Madrid City Council has already expressed their interest in the tool.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Climate and Global Radiation Balance

Scientists at the Universities of Bristol and Southampton have developed an important new insight into climate sensitivity — the sensitivity of global temperature to changes in the Earth’s radiation balance — over the last half million years. Climate sensitivity is a key parameter for understanding past natural climate changes as well as potential future climate change. In a study in Journal of Climate, the researchers reconstructed, for the first time, climate sensitivity over five ice-age cycles based on a global records of sea surface and polar temperature change. These were compared with a new reconstruction of changes in the Earth’s radiation balance caused by changes in greenhouse gas concentrations, in surface reflectivity, and those due to slow changes in the Earth-Sun orbital configuration.

The study calculates global mean climate sensitivity, but also considers its relationship with latitude. This is important as many of the past radiative changes were not equally distributed over the planet in contrast to the more uniform distribution of the modern radiative changes due to rising greenhouse gas levels.

Climate models use quantitative methods to simulate the interactions of the atmosphere, oceans, land surface and ice. They are used for a variety of purposes from study of the dynamics of the weather and climate system to projections of future climate. All climate models balance, or very nearly balance, incoming energy as short wave (including visible) electromagnetic radiation to the earth with outgoing energy as long wave (infrared) electromagnetic radiation from the earth. Any imbalance results in a change in the average temperature of the earth.

The researchers infer that the Earth’s climate sensitivity over the last half million years most likely amounted to a 3.1 to 3.9 °C temperature increase for the radiative equivalent of a modern doubling of atmospheric carbon-dioxide concentrations (with a total range of 1.7 to 5.7 °C).

Lead researcher Eelco Rohling, Professor of Ocean and Climate Change at the University of Southampton, said: “We use long time-series of data that are each obtained using a single method. This reduces uncertainty in the estimates of temperature change, relative to previous work that contrasts reconstructions of a single past climate state with modern instrumental data. Our method can be especially improved by extending the global network of long records.

"Because our climate sensitivity values are based on real-world data from a substantial interval of time in the recent geological past, our results provide strong observational support to the climate sensitivities used in IPCC-class climate models. If anything, our results suggest slightly stronger sensitivity."

Dr Mark Siddall, from the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol, said: "This study shows the increasing importance of using geological data to understand the climate system and how it responds as a whole to changes in greenhouse gases."

Solar power can now be produced for less than $1 a watt, study finds

Solar PV energy can now be produced for less than $1 a watt although the public is being kept in the dark about its true viability, according to a new study by Queen's University.

"Many analysts project a higher cost for solar photovoltaic energy because they don't consider recent technological advancements and price reductions," says Joshua Pearce, Adjunct Professor, Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. "Older models for determining solar photovoltaic energy costs are too conservative."

Dr. Pearce believes solar photovoltaic systems are near the "tipping point" where they can produce energy for about the same price other traditional sources of energy.

Analysts look at many variables to determine the cost of solar photovoltaic systems for consumers, including installation and maintenance costs, finance charges, the system's life expectancy, and the amount of electricity it generates.

Dr. Pearce says some studies don't consider the 70 per cent reduction in the cost of solar panels since 2009. Furthermore, he says research now shows the productivity of top-of-the-line solar panels only drops between 0.1 and 0.2 percent annually, which is much less than the one per cent used in many cost analyses.

This Article was taken from ENN Newsletter

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Global Carbon Emissions Reach Record 10 Billion Tons, Threatening 2 Degree Target

ScienceDaily (Dec. 4, 2011) — Global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels have increased by 49 per cent in the last two decades, according to the latest figures by an international team, including researchers at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of East Anglia.

Published December 4 in the journal Nature Climate Change, the new analysis by the Global Carbon Project shows fossil fuel emissions increased by 5.9 per cent in 2010 and by 49 per cent since 1990 -- the reference year for the Kyoto protocol.

On average, fossil fuel emissions have risen by 3.1 per cent each year between 2000 and 2010 -- three times the rate of increase during the 1990s. They are projected to continue to increase by 3.1 per cent in 2011.

Total emissions -- which combine fossil fuel combustion, cement production, deforestation and other land use emissions -- reached 10 billion tonnes of carbon* in 2010 for the first time. Half of the emissions remained in the atmosphere, where CO2 concentration reached 389.6 parts per million. The remaining emissions were taken up by the ocean and land reservoirs, in approximately equal proportions.

Rebounding from the global financial crisis of 2008-09 when emissions temporarily decreased, last year's high growth was caused by both emerging and developed economies. Rich countries continued to outsource part of their emissions to emerging economies through international trade.

Contributions to global emissions growth in 2010 were largest from China, the United States, India, the Russian Federation and the European Union. Emissions from the trade of goods and services produced in emerging economies but consumed in the West increased from 2.5 per cent of the share of rich countries in 1990 to 16 per cent in 2010.

Plastic Bags: On Their Way Out?

In California alone, consumers use upwards of 19 million plastic bags per year, which require approximately 8 million barrels of oil to produce. 90 percent of the bags used in the United States never get recycled. Globally, of the 500 billion of the flimsy, single-use bags we go through, many end up either in landfills or as wind-blown or ocean gyre litter that gets consumed by wildlife and marine life, resulting in many agonizingly painful deaths. For many environmentalists and concerned consumers, plastic bags represent Public Enemy #1. Across the globe, cities, counties and countries are grappling with this environmental disaster. Countries that have banned their use include Italy, Thailand, Bangladesh, Israel and Rwanda, as well as a number of cities in India, Australia and Canada.

Here in the U.S., numerous cities and towns have banned the use of single use plastic bags. Twelve cities in California alone have done so, including San Francisco, Malibu. Palo Alto, San Jose, Long Beach, and Calabasas. Two other California towns, Manhattan Beach and Oakland, also banned them but rescinded the ban due to lawsuits. Manhattan Beach, however, recently won its lawsuit so the ban may soon be back in effect. Bans are also in place in Westport, Connecticut; Aspen, Colorado; Brownsville, Texas, and in both Kauai and Maui, Hawaii. And at least 30 towns in western Alaska have banned them.

Low Cost Solar Cells

The cost of a solar cell is given per unit of peak electrical power. Manufacturing costs necessarily include the cost of energy required for manufacture. Solar power must become more efficient and less expensive to compete with energy produced by fossil fuels. Silicon-based solar cells are the dominant technology in the field, but the widespread adoption of these cells has been slowed by their high costs. Solar cells that use inorganic nanocrystals or quantum dots could be a cheaper alternative, but they are generally less efficient at turning solar energy into electricity. Technion-Israel Institute of Technology researchers have now found a new way to generate an electrical field inside the quantum dots, making them more suitable for building an energy-efficient nanocrystal solar cell

In their report in the October 9 issue of Nature Materials, Professor Nir Tessler (of the Zisapel Nano-Electronics Center in the Technion Department of Electrical Engineering) and colleagues describe how they tuned the electrical properties of quantum dots before testing their capabilities in a model solar cell.

Quantum dots are particles of semiconductor material with the size so small that, due to quantum mechanics considerations, the electron energies that can exist within them are limited. These energy levels, defined by the size of quantum dots, in turn define the bandgaps. The dots can be grown to any needed size, allowing them to be tuned across a wide variety of bandgaps without changing the underlying material or construction techniques. In typical preparations, the tuning is accomplished by Quantum dot solar cells are an emerging field in solar cell research that uses quantum dots as the photovoltaic material, as opposed to better-known bulk materials such as silicon, copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) or CdTe. varying the duration or temperature of synthesis.

Nanocrystal or quantum dots "are promising materials for low-cost and high efficiency solar cells" due to their unusual electronic properties, Tessler said. For instance, the size of a quantum dot is uniquely correlated to its light absorption, so changing a dot’s size can maximize its ability to harvest light within a solar cell.

To live up to their promise, however, the dots must share electrons efficiently which is a feat that has been difficult to control. The Technion study offers a new way to bring an electrical charge to the dots; each about one-millionth the size of the period at the end of this sentence.

Tessler and colleagues were able to generate strong electrical fields within the dots by capping them with two different organic molecules. The chemical groups that attach the molecules to the dots’ surface generate the electrical field.

This article is taken from the ENN Newsletter

Clear the Air With a HEPA Filter

Easily remove allergens and dust.

Improve your home's indoor air quality with a true HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter. You'll cut down on allergens as well as dust.

Ordinary disposable fiberglass filters were designed to remove the largest particles from the air, with the goal of protecting your heating equipment, not your lungs. They trap only 10% to 40% of the debris passing through them. A HEPA filter, on the other hand, can remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles. They are made of randomly arranged fibers and are based on Department of Energy standards.

In terms of effectiveness, installing a filter on your central heating and cooling system is definitely the best way to go. You can also get portable filter units for individual rooms.

Do beware of so-called "HEPA-type" or "high-efficiency" filters, which are widely advertised (especially on TV). These products can actually be up to 55 percent less-efficient than true HEPAs.

This Article was taken from The Daily Green written by By Brian Clark Howard

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Clean Energy Resource Too Large to be Ignored — Geothermal Power Gains Steam

Geothermal power’s been something of an orphan when it comes to the drive to transition from fossil fuel to clean, renewable energy economies. That’s despite the release of recent studies showing that the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia — Western Australia in particular — have geothermal resources that dwarf their energy needs, and despite the fact that it’s a proven, time-tested, economic source of clean, reliable baseload power. That’s not to say that there aren’t places around the world where geothermal power project exploration and development isn’t ramping up at a fast pace. Boise, Idaho; Reno, Nevada; Reykjavik, Iceland; the UAE’s Masdar City; and Perth, Australia stand out when it comes to tapping into and harnessing earth’s geothermal resources, according to a Global Innovation Series post on Mashable Tech.

Globally, activity in the geothermal power sector recovered somewhat in 2010 following a weak 2009, as overall investment increased, according to NRG Expert’s 2011 Geothermal Report. At the national level, Kenya, Iceland, Mexico and countries in South America — where new exploration concessions have been awarded in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Peru — will see high rates of growth in geothermal power development, according to NRG’s research. Activity in the geothermal power sector is also gaining steam in Western Australia and New Zealand, as well as in Japan, the Philippines and Indonesia.

This article is taken from ENN Newsletter.