Category Archives: Green

Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet – It’s World Oceans Day!

Long have we told stories about, shared our tears with, sought freedom in the sea.
Returning to those waters is simple with 72% of our earth being covered by water, but do we take this massive, silent treasure for granted?

June 8th is recognized as World Oceans Day and the opportunity to remember our responsibility to our oceans and those residents of the sea is one we shouldn’t take lightly.

Some of our greatest minds remind us what the ocean means and represents: Continue reading

Our Favorite Smoothies on the Internet Today

Whether it’s the pressure of bathing suit season or all the beautiful tropical fruits out at the grocery store right now, we like to think of this as Smoothie Season! Strawberries, bananas and some ice cubes will get you there but why stop with the basics when the internet has so much more adventurous recipes to offer? Here are some of our favorite smoothies on the internet today! Continue reading

Is Nature About to Abandon Us?

Earth-from-space.-Shutterstock

Feeling guilty about climate change hasn’t proved to be a good motivator. The most recent report on greenhouse gas emissions puts March at a record-breaking level of emissions. Presidential urging doesn’t move Congress to take significant steps at solving the issue. The world community passes well-meaning resolutions that don’t lead to major global cooperation.

We are headed on a downward track, and everybody knows it. But we already know that guilt is a poor motivator. Fear is somewhat better, because it implies imminent harm, yet if the Earth is the Titanic and climate change is the iceberg, there’s enough open sea between us and catastrophe to lull the passengers into one more round of champagne and caviar. Continue reading

Take the Zero Waste Challenge!

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How often are you taking out the garbage? According to Discovery Digital’s Seeker Network, the average American produces 4.3 pounds of trash everyday so when New Yorker Lauren Singer announced that she could fill a 16 oz mason jar with the trash she’s left with after two years, it was worth investigating. Continue reading

Portraits of our Oldest Inhabitants

Every portrait tells a story. Famously, a picture is worth a thousand words, but how many years? Photographer Beth Moon searched the world for the oldest remaining trees and made them the focus of a beautiful series we first caught glimpse of on Bored Panda.

Some of our favorite images?

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See the full collection here. And take a moment to pause and notice the life happening all around you!

7 Quotes to Inspire Your Connection to Mother Earth

Earth Day only happens once a year but we think it’s important to remember our connection to our environment and planet every day. Whether it’s a simple thing like drinking your morning cup of coffee outside to take a moment and appreciate the green grass and nice weather or if you’ve taken the extra steps to start composting your household waist. There are so many things we can do, big and small, to show appreciation for Mother Earth and take steps to take better care of her. A lot of the things we promote on Intent  – meditation, connection, being present – are all related to the understanding that we are all bonded with the world around us. We are connected to each other and the living things on this planet, and when we appreciate that fact we begin to lead happier and lighter lives. So for our weekly quote post we gathered some inspirational sayings to inspire a strengthened bond between you and our earth.

 

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Create the Green Dream with Home Automation

home automationby Elizabeth Eckhart

If you’re a homeowners like me who is interested in “going green” as much as possible, you should consider tapping into the many advantages of home energy control; new technology for home automation is making it so that we are not only conserving energy, but also choosing a money-saving alternative. A variety of technology and electronics manufacturers are taking notice, which means we finally get to benefit from multiple companies creating new, energy efficient products.

If you have already made the intention to refurnish your home, clean up your lifestyle, and contribute to a greener house, perhaps automation is where you, like me, should begin your search!

“Going green” is an expression that is used more and more in technology and business, and while it brings to mind the efforts of nature activists, and charitable causes to save the world’s resources, it is also becoming a big push in the business and consumer world (the one most of us live in!), especially when looking at home automation and appliances.

Whether it’s consumer electronics giant Samsung releasing networked appliances or home security companies like ADT’s new Pulse integrating more home automation features into their service offerings, allowing users to employ lighting and temperature control in the home, it’s clear that “smart” homes are quickly becoming an affordable reality. Essentially, home automation systems today can control many things in the home that have always been separate systems and make them work more efficiently than ever before. I’ve been looking at options to do everything from controlling cooling and heating throughout different zones in my house, automatically turn lights off and on as needed, open windows or shut them remotely, and even turn up the water heater as necessary or adjusting it to a lower temperature when it is no longer needed. Successfully automating all these things would waste less energy, cost me less, and have a positive impact on the environment!

The Latest and Greatest in Home Automation

Even Google made a foray into the world of home automation by gaining control of Nest Learning Thermostat, and as someone new to the home automation game, this was my first purchase. The Nest is basically just a thermostat that actually learns the preferences of a homeowner and controls the environment accordingly. For example, the Nest knows that I like it to be 68 degrees when I wake up, but can turn off the heat or air conditioning when I leave for work; when I get home, the thermostat ensures the temperature is comfortable, automatically dropping down to a lower level when no longer necessary.

Thermal powered lights are another popular product that I’ve tried; just like it sounds, they are lights that are powered by the solar energy that has been absorbed during the day, providing illumination at night. If you live in an area with a deregulated energy market like I do, it’s easy to find websites and resources for buying energy that comes from solar and other renewable sources, and so using your own solar at home cuts your carbon footprint down even further. Plus, it’s also a simple switch to solar powered motion sensor lights that are weatherproof, which are ideal for lighting the way outdoors or in the garage without the need for a light to be turned on for hours at a time since they’ll charge themselves during the day.

One product I’ve considered, but not yet made the jump to, is a full system for the whole house like mControl, which is ranked at the top of the list for companies providing the best in home automation. The system offers a way for homeowners to control every electronic device in their home, lighting, and climate. Relying on digital software, the mControl makes energy management more efficient and can address home security as well.

The Future of Home Automation

The sky’s the limit when it comes to the world of home automation. In the future, homeowners are likely to turn to cheaper do-it-yourself methods, from solar power to systems they can control to conserve energy and put more money in their pockets. Creative minds will take home automation to new heights, and if you can make the switch now, I’d highly suggest giving a few of the top-rated products a try!

Elizabeth Eckhart is a Chicago born and bred blogger who is passionate about keeping the environment clean. Some of her favorite writing topics include new renewable energy technology and various ways to live a healthy lifestyle. 

5 Simple Ways to Make Your New Home Yours

If you’ve just purchased a home, or moved into a new space, you’re most likely looking around trying to figure out the best ways to make it truly feel like your own. There are many ways that you can put your personal touch on a home. Consider some of the following options to make the house feel like home.

1. More Than Just Paint

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Image via Flickr by MissMessie

One thing that many homeowners do when they first buy a house is start envisioning new paint. However, there is more to coloring a home than simply slapping on some paint. Think about the other places in the home that you’ll add color. Throw pillows are a great way to add your personal touch and some of your favorite hues. They don’t have to match the wall colors – just make sure that they match your personality.

Another place that you can add color is with the appliances and furniture pieces you choose. These all make a statement about you within your home. Are you into retro styles? Consider a bright red cooking set for the kitchen. If you’re more subdued, you may want to color the home with more earth tones. Keep in mind that adding color to the house requires more thought and effort than simply painting the walls.

2. Make The Walls Your Canvas

Image via Flickr by Webb Zahn

Some people love to have pictures of the family on the walls. Others enjoy beautifully painted art. Some prefer to hang shelving that has collectibles or delicate items on display. Whatever your preference, make sure to take a look at the wall space you have in the home. Hanging items on the walls helps the space feel more comfortable. On top of this, it puts your personal stamp on the home. Wall hangings can be quickly and easily changed, allowing you to change the look of the home with your mood.

3. Change the Floors

Image via Flickr by Christopher

When you buy a new house, you’re not always going to get everything you want all at once. Instead, you may find the perfect layout, but feel the need to change other things in time. One way you can truly make your house feel like yours is to ensure that the flooring is everything you want it to be. Is the house full of carpet, but you really wanted wood flooring? Pull up the carpet and make the change. Another option is to change carpeting or tile to a newer, better style that fits your preferences.

4. Feel More Secure

Image via Flickr by penelope waits

Safety is something homeowners often gloss over. After all, if you don’t feel secure in your own home, you may never feel truly relaxed. Set up a checklist of everything to be aware of before you begin moving into your new home. Here are some things it should cover:

  • Finances (budget for home inspections and insurance)
  • Electrical (check circuit breakers, switchplates, washer/dryer units for possible electrical hazards)
  • Set up emergency contact numbers
  • If you have little ones, be sure to take the necessary steps in baby-proofing the home
  • Develop and practice an escape plan in case of fires
  • Consider investing in a home security system

5. Incorporate Personal Touches

Image via Flickr by margaretshear

There are little things that you love and that are a part of who you are. Whether you love candles, or you collect baseball cards, these things are personal touches that you can add to the home. When adding little things, you make the house really feel like it is yours. Do you love spring? Add a bouquet of spring flowers to the kitchen table. The little things that you do will make all the difference in the feel of the home. Make yourself feel welcome with a batch of cookies. Though you may not want to bake cookies every day, if you’re feeling out of sorts in the home, this can be a helpful touch.

Whether you’re buying your first home or your fifth, there is always a period of adjustment in a new house. There are many ways to make sure you feel just right in your new digs. With just a few pieces added to the walls and some color splashed about, you’ll start feeling right at home in no time.

Trash: Making Beauty out of What We’ve Thrown Away

recycled orchestraWhat’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word trash?

Dirt. Germs. Land fill, maybe? Trash is what we call the things we no longer have a use for – the things we throw away and discard never to be thought of again. Even when it’s used in a derogatory sense for people it refers to them as the things we don’t want to think about, the things we wish would disappear. Trash is beneath us.

What about “recycle” though? That sounds better, right? It turns out that it’s not just plastic bottles and newspapers that can be re-used or re-created into something else. Things we throw away are being taken by very creative individuals to create new works of art. Favio Chavez is using the trash sent to a slum in Cateura, Paraguay to build instruments for his teenage students.  They make cellos out of rusted oil bins and violins out of old tin. Ordinarily a violin is worth more than a house in that slum. The families who live there raid the land fill for trash to recycle and re-sell and they’ve begun to make instruments for their children. The children then perform in the Recycled Orchestra.

They’ve managed a way to redefine something that inhabits the way they live. They’ve taken something “dirty” – the things we throw away – and made them into works of art that demand to be heard. You can find out more about their project and how you can support (and see the full movie) here.

In a different part of South America – on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil – artist Vik Muniz is trying to change the lives of a community of catadores, garbage collectors. They are an unemployed, marginalized part of society, collecting garbage in the largest landfill in the world for recyclable materials to sell and make their living. Vik creates portraits of them with the garbage they collect every day. His original intention was to create the portraits, sell them and use the money to help the catadores find an elevated station in life, but the art inevitably became a collaboration. Vik would take a picture of each of the catadores and then project it onto the floor of a nearby warehouse and every day the catadores would help him fill the picture with the recyclables they had found that day in the landfill. For three years they filmed the process and created a documentary called “Waste Land.” The workers say that the movie has lifted a stigma around their profession and the country of Brazil uses it to encourage recycling nationwide.

These stories take place in two different places, told by two different people with very similar themes. These projects force us to take another look at areas of humanity where we tend to turn a blind eye. They show us that the things we dismiss can be beautiful, the things we throw away can be works of art. So the next time you’re throwing anything away, take a deeper look.

The Best Green Gadgets to Look For in 2014

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 7.17.04 AMby Elizabeth Eckhart

Green living is all the rage right now, as is reverting back to other, healthier lifestyles which benefit both us and our environment. But for those of us who have long raged against technology as the bearers of pollution and energy crises, it may be time to reevaluate.

This year the International CES conference not only has dedicated two full discussion panels to the topic of energy awareness (“Energy Efficiency Initiatives for Electronics: What’s Working and What’s Not” and “Green Standards: Who Should Run the Show?”) the judges have also awarded a select few products their Economic Innovation Award. CES 2014  will also find itself the show grounds for breakthroughs in home improvement, home automation — mainly temperature and energy control — as well as new and improved electric vehicles.

By home improvement, I don’t mean tools you’d use to build your own household additions, but rather appliances that, if added to your home, could do wonders in terms of improving energy efficiency. For example, you may already have a programmable thermostat (and if you don’t, what exactly are you waiting for?) but you definitely don’t have the Eversense by Allure Energy, Inc. This beauty goes one step further than programs, and actually adjusts temperature and energy usage based on how far or near each resident is from the home. This Proximity Control Technology is made possible by the complimentary mobile app.

If you’ve been leary of using a gas guzzling ride lawn mower, fear no more! Finally, someone has taken the initiative and created the first fully electric lawn mower. The mower uses zero gas and oil, which is obviously energy efficient, but also quieter. The RZT S Zero by Cub Cadet might be the green solution to lawn maintenance that you’ve been looking for.

Cooking and cleaning are two of the major tasks that can waste energy. For most homeowners, a good chunk of their water use is in laundry, which is why LG, who has swept up an incredible 15 innovation awards at CES this year, is debuting their new LG Front Load Mega Capacity Turbowash Washer. The name is a mouthful, but the washer is impressive due to its Smart Diagnosis, which changes the water and energy amount based on the size of load it senses. LG also contributed the LG Electric Double Oven Range with EasyClean, which implemented a high performing Infrared Grill system which cooks faster than ever, using far less heat than conventional ovens. Samsung, too, brought forth their addition to household chores with the DV457 Front-Load Dryer, which is the first dryer to ever receive an Energy Star Emerging Technology Award. The dryer is super efficient, and the first to have a temperature modulation system.

More efficient appliances are one way to go greener, but anyone that is even a little studied on the Consumer Electronics Show of 2013 knows another watched area will be home automation. Security Choice ADT was the first to roll out a complete home automation system with Pulse in 2010 and last year added increased energy control and an additional television interface. The benefit of home automation is the ability to control energy use from virtually anywhere. Using your smartphone, you can adjust temperature up and down, turn lights and appliances on and off, and even lock windows and doors to prevent drafts (or break-ins). ADT will have some competition this year, with both Lowes and Home Depot unveiling similar products to the market, which will no doubt be more affordable.

One of the biggest trends in green engineering is the increased availability of electric cars. The Tesla Model S, currently hailed as the top electric car in the game, has mentioned that they will be previewing their new “Autopilot” technology, which could sense people and objects around the car, and successful avoid them. Toyota will also be debuting new electric vehicles, such as the Rav4 EV and their brand new Fuel Cell Vehicle Concept.

CES 2014 will also feature greener and more energy efficient versions of hundreds of other products, though none quite as earth-friendly or innovative as those mentioned above. The show is grounds for some majorly impressive technology, and it is definitely a good sign that so much time and effort is being taken to recognize the products making a difference.

CES 2014 will be held Jan. 7-10 in Las Vegas.

Elizabeth Eckhart is a Chicago born and bred blogger who is passionate about keeping the environment clean. Some of her favorite writing topics include new renewable energy technology and various ways to live a healthy lifestyle. 

*Photo from CESWeb.org.

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