Sunday, January 25, 2009

Yes We Can!

It was an encouraging sign of the times that President Obama included many green goals in his inaugural address. Below are the green parts of his speech:

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood…. [E]ach day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet. …

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do. …

With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you …

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

And, if you want to keep up with Obama's environmental policies, check out for the agenda.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Green House

The Obamas announced that they have chosen an interior designer for their White House. I do hope Michael Smith will consider using some eco-friendly elements.

Some easy green substitutes for quick makeovers for the White House or your house...

Yolo paint is an environmentally responsible paint with some great natural colors.

Switching out your shower head with a low-flow fixture can save up to 4.5 gallons per minute. A low flow shower head should say 2.5 gallons per minute, whereas some old shower fixtures use as much as 7 gpm. This is easy to do and does not require a plumber.

Switch out your light bulbs for energy saving bulbs (compact fluorescent and LED). I did this and noticed an immediate drop in my electric bill!

Reupholster or refinish existing furniture. A fun DIY project, or you can hire someone to do it. Peel Away is a non-toxic paint stripper.

Of course, simple actions like turning off lights in rooms you're not in, recycling, not using disposable plates/silverware/cups/napkins, and buying eco-friendly household products make a difference every day. And, it's more green to keep what you have instead of buying something new simply because you're ready for a new look. Or, try swapping accessories with friends. You'll both get a new look, and your stuff will get a new life.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Vampire Electronics

Vampire electronics are electronic devices that continue to draw power even when switched to "off." Really they are more in "stand-by" mode. However even your cell phone charger continues to draw power even when your phone is not connected. Obviously it will make a difference to both your wallet and the environment to unplug everything when not in use. But, let's be realistic, that can be annoying and is not an easy habit to sustain.

An easy solution is to buy a "smart power strip." It senses when power is no longer flowing into devices and shuts off the power flow to the outlets. Of course, there are certain devices that are not convenient to shut off. Your cable box will "deactivate" itself after long periods of inactivity. Your TiVo will not record your favorite show if it's not on stand-by. The smart power strips have a built-in answer; "constant" outlets that do not shut off. Good Magazine has this graph to illustrate how much energy different electronics use.

You can rest easy knowing you're not paying for unused electricity or sucking the planet dry, all with minimal effort.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Running Shoes

Whether you're a dedicated runner or an occasional gym-goer, you will inevitably need to replace your shoes. There are better options than throwing them in the trash, where they will just end up taking up space in a landfill.

You can donate them to a local shelter or charity collection point. I've done this myself in the past, and wonder if anyone would actually want to wear my dried up sweat. While this is better than simply trashing them, another alternative is to recycle them.

Recycled Runners has links to drop-off locations nationwide. Nike has a collection program where they take any brand of shoes and grind them up to become rubber mats on the playground, basketball courts, or a portion of new shoes.

An easy way to be green and healthy!