Tag Archives: elizabeth eckhart

Energy and the Internet: How To Be A Conscious Browser

internet

Many people around the world are concerned with the real impact of global warming, but they often think in terms of large-scale energy users such as factories or municipalities, ignoring one of the biggest factors in energy use: the Internet.

As a growing percentage of people conduct business, shop and communicate online, companies must be mindful of building a “greener” Internet, and those who are concerned with saving the planet must be aware of which companies are working to power their services and websites with renewable energy. Continue reading

Wasting Energy and Endangering Lives: The “True Cost” of Fashion

TheTrueCost_Poster_2764x4096In years past, only the richest individuals could afford to own multiple sets of clothes to switch out depending on the day or activity. The rest of the world made do with one suit or dress for formal occasions, and perhaps a handful of humble garments for day-to-day life. That traditional approach to clothing has changed steadily for the past several decades as modern technologies and garment factories have driven down prices. Today, we live in a world of fast fashion, with a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it transition from the catwalk to the store to the consumer and then quickly to the donation bin as styles fall back out of fashion. The cheap prices we enjoy today don’t really cost less than past clothing did, though – it’s just that rather than paying in money now workers are paying in suffering. Nothing is truly free, not really, which is a topic being explored by the new documentary directed by Andrew Morgan, The True Cost.

The True Cost holds a mirror up to the practices of an out-of-control industry, practices which are not only devastating to workers but also have a huge negative impact on the environment. Air pollution, water pollution, and deforestation can all be laid at the feet of the garment industry, though of course not exclusively. Alberta Energy states that about 10 percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions come from this overproduction of apparel and textiles. Fossil fuels are being consumed at all ends of the garment process, from the farming machinery to the factories themselves to the huge container ships used to bring the finished clothing from the third world countries where they are produced to the first world countries where they are consumed. Continue reading

How to be Your Own Yoga Instructor

yoga

It’s common to feel distracted after a long day, but sometimes this can put your mind in a different place entirely when you’re trying to focus on relaxing your mind, body, and soul. Yoga and meditation have come a long way in recent years and with the help of some new technology, you may be able to get the most out of this time with yourself. The following tech can help you correct your posture, breathe, relax, and keep track of the progress you make while meditating and doing yoga. Continue reading

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. 

Empower Your Intents with These Motivational Social Media Accounts

motivational social mediaBy Elizabeth Eckhart

The holidays are long gone and the rush of the New Year is steadily drifting by, which means that the motivation to accomplish all of our new goals for 2014 might be declining. If the weather hasn’t brought you down, perhaps it’s the stress of work and school, or family concerns that have got you worried. Luckily, social media has become an excellent tool for spreading inspiration left and right, just when you need it most. No matter what your goals are, whether fitness, meditation, scoring that new job or graduating with straight A’s, we’ve found the most popular, and appreciated, motivational social media accounts, as well as the most discussed tools that will encourage you daily. So when you’re feeling down, check out some of the motivational sources we found using social media tool ViralHeat below, and continue paving your way through your good intentions!

Twitter Accounts to Follow

Fitness Motivation (@BeFitMotivation)

fitness motivationWith over a million followers, Fitness Motivation must be doing something right. The account encourages healthy eating, clean living, and constantly shares pictures of success stories. Better yet, they even include quick, on-the-go and at-home workouts for the busy bees out there. Their motivational quotes are also positive messages, no body-shaming allowed there. After a thorough search, it seems that the main message is to aim to be your best self, and that the short-cuts (such as unhealthy fad diets and questionable supplements) are NOT appreciated. Bonus, they have an Instagram account, too: @BeFitPhotos

Daily Motivation (@wisdomsquote)

Screen shot 2014-02-27 at 9.09.09 AM

Daily motivation is exactly what it claims to be — a Twitter account that aggregates as many motivational quotes as it can find. Some are familiar sayings, and some are new, but all of them will integrate themselves into your feed to keep you pushing through your day. The account tweets at least a few pictures a day as well of inspiration role models from Buddha to Albert Einstein and Bruce Lee. Trending topics on the page are mental strength, determination, and courage. Warning: following this account might give you the bravery to achieve everything you put your mind to (as well as a few nifty pictures to pin up by your desk).

Inspirational Book

59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot by Richard Wiseman

If Alfred A. Knopf, who published both Julia Child and John Cheever, once promoted the work, then this book deserves to be called phenomenal. A self-help book to decode all previous self-help books, this inspirational guide is written by an actual psychologist and professor, which sounds much more promising and helpful than someone who found success through their own personal path and hopes others can do the same. Professor Wiseman helps you promote change in minutes, to create habits that will last years, based on knowledge of the human behavior and brain power all of us possess. The best part? It’s a quick read, so convincing yourself to give a try won’t take that much motivation at all. Click here for his book talk. 

Pinterest

These Pinterest accounts will knock out any connotations that this site is primarily used for wedding planning and DIY crafts. In fact, these accounts are all dedicated to achieving goals on a larger scale, with helpful pictures, quotes, and videos to achieve them.

Inspiration {Video}: Inspiration video is exactly what it claims to be — a collection of videos from Youtube and other sources that will leave you itching to accomplish your goals. Pin it on your own board, or simply sift through the page and watch them all, it’s up to you! The wildly popular “Move” video, inspiration for any traveler out there, is one of the quickest and best!

Career Inspiration: Hoping to achieve your dream job, or know you need to make moves at your current position and show just how great you really are? This page is for you! Pin it to your Pinterest board, but better yet pin it to your bulletin board, your mirror in the morning, your desktop at the office.. the possibilities are endless! A personal favorite is this quote: Dreams don’t work, unless YOU do!

Ideas: Ideas is the help-all, inspire-all Pinterest page that addresses everything from physical health to soul and spiritual well-being. You never know exactly what you’ll find as you scour the page, but chances are at least one image or video will give you exactly the kick in the butt you need to move forward, move on, and start achieving.

Of course, at the end of the day, one of the most inspiring places to be is right here on Intent.com and Intent Blog! Use these motivational tools to set your own intents and inspire others!

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. 

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.

Dreaming of a Green Christmas : 3 Ways to Make Your Holiday Environmentally Friendly

Screen shot 2013-12-03 at 9.10.28 AMBy: Elizabeth Eckhart

The holidays are a time of family celebrations, reconnecting with old friends, and celebrating all that we’re thankful for. Unfortunately, the holidays can also be a time of stress, busy schedules, and worse of all, excess. No matter how frugal you may be, chances are you’re finding that extra cold weather and party hosting costs are eating into your budget. And perhaps, if you’re like many other Intent Blog readers, the idea of so much waste, with food and energy, may bother you quite a bit. In order to both keep our habits clean and green, and save some costs, we’ve put together a list of energy saving holiday tricks to get you through the season.

Decorating Tips

If you haven’t already, consider replacing all your holiday lights with energy efficient LEDs, which actually perform better in cold weather. For larger lights, switch to 5-watt bulbs, and place all your lights on a timer or just unplug, ensuring that they won’t be left on during the day when no one can enjoy them. When shopping for outdoor decorations for yourself or others, keep in mind the wide availability of solar powered options.

If you’re really feeling green, you can also decorate with candles. Many families already use luminaries along outdoor walkways on special nights. Consider holiday scented candles, which are a beautiful addition to any home. You can also turn off the lights inside when your brightly decorated tree is on and lit. This will not only save energy; it will immediately make your home feel full of holiday spirit.

Hosting Tips

It may go against holiday tradition, but you can cook some party dishes in the microwave. The typical microwave uses 75 percent less energy than a conventional oven, so even one dish can make a large difference. Using the same reasoning, look up recipes you can create using a slow cooker. Since you’ll still be using the oven for trickier dishes, check progress through the window instead of cracking open the door (which can make the temperature drop 25 degrees in less than a minute!), and feel free to turn the oven off before the food is fully cooked. As long as the door stays shut, your food will finish perfectly and on time. Using glass or ceramic pans also means your dish will cook more quickly, so turn the oven down 20 degrees to save costs.

To keep your fridge running efficiently no matter the number of guests, keep it as stocked as possible — an easy task if feeding a large group of people! You can also defrost items in the fridge instead of a watery sink. Both tips will result in the fridge keeping cooler with less energy.

If you do happen to find your fridge is full, hold off from hauling out the spare fridge, and instead keep extra beverages and holiday leftovers cold by storing them in the garage or in the backyard. And as much as you’d like to clean up quickly following a large holiday meal, your fridge will thank you if you wait until all the food has cooled to room temperature before storing it away.

On the day of your party, turn down the thermostat to 66 degrees. Most people will find this is a comfortable range in a holiday sweater, and the increased body heat should take care of the rest. Keep a few blankets handy for older guests and chronically cold friends. If you plan on setting the mood by using the fireplace, install a tight-fitting set of glass doors and crack open a window nearby. Open-hearth fireplaces actually draw in the heated air from your home and send it straight up the chimney — a problem glass doors can stop. With increased holiday lights on top of heat usage, your bills may still come out higher than expected. If you haven’t already, start monitoring your light usage and reevaluate your energy plan using sites like Energize Connecticut and TexasElectricityProviders.com. Not only can you switch to less expensive plans, you can also choose to have most or all of your energy generated from green sources such as wind or solar.

Gift Giving and Shopping

Although many of us enjoy wandering around decorated stores during the holidays, perhaps even stopping to see Santa, before the perfect gift emerges on its own, you can save time and costs by planning out the gifts necessary for each person. Make use of outlets and strip malls, which mean you have less driving to do from store to store. You can also shop for products made locally or buy materials to craft gifts on your own, which not only supports local businesses but detracts overall from the amount of overseas transit costs and pollution that trucks, boats, and planes cause. The same goes for shopping online  — if you buy your gifts from one store instead of three, you’ll have lower costs associated with packaging and transit.

Regarding the actual gift, aim to buy fewer gifts that use electricity and batteries. An amazing 40 percent of all batteries are purchased during the holiday season, which means a lot of energy is used. If you must buy electronic gifts, definitely opt for the energy efficient versions, and maybe even throw in rechargeable batteries instead of singular usage batteries.

The holidays are the perfect time to show appreciation for those around you. Whether it be through gifts, parties, or decorations, the holidays can be exciting, albeit expensive. But, if you plan accordingly and shop wisely, you’ll find the damage to your wallet and the earth can be greatly reduced.

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. 

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