Tag Archives: green

Behold the US’s Energy Footprint with This Animated Guide

Screen Shot 2013-08-05 at 3.43.55 PMIt’s no secret, the US’s energy usage is staggering. We are the second largest per capita consumers of energy, right after Canada and right before Saudi Arabia. We love our cars, packaged food products, imported goods, and controlled heating, and we unfortunately tend to use and use without discretion. Hopefully much of the problem lies in a lack of education on energy and climate change, which is where this video will come in handy!

Alexis Madrigal, senior technology editor at The Atlantic, outlines the key energy sources we rely on, as well as the larger network of energy waste and efficiency in this brilliantly animated short. Check it out:

Here are the top 10 electrical energy sources, laid out from best to worst by Stanford professor of civil and environment engineering, Mark Jacobson:

  1. Wind
  2. Concentrated Solar Power (CSP)
  3. Geothermal power
  4. Tidal power
  5. Solar photovoltaics (PV)
  6. Wave power
  7. Hydroelectric power
  8. Nuclear power
  9. Coal (even with Carbon Capture and Sequestration, CCS)

Wind energy, as Jacobson’s number one option, is an interesting case. On the one hand, it is a renewable, never-ending source of immense power (more than human beings could ever use). It is space and cost efficient and produces no pollution. On the other hand, wind fluctuates and isn’t necessarily reliable. It’s also noisy, not aesthetically pleasing, and can be a threat to wildlife.

There are bound to be pros and cons with every energy option, but we can probably agree that some are worse than others. Our global lust for fossil fuels has led to wars, oil spills, decimation of forests, mountains and bodies of water, and toxic emissions into the atmosphere. What we might sacrifice by investing in renewable energy sources would surely pale in comparison to the sacrifices we’ve already endured.

What do you think are the best renewable energy options? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

10 Moving Photos of the Black Rhino, Now Extinct in Western Africa

Credit: NagWolf

Rhinos are some of the most strange and beautiful creatures to inhabit this planet of ours. With its sturdy, two-humped body, a head like a hippo, and horns that conjure tales of unicorns, the rhinoceros is an animal who should inspire awe and respect. Why, then, does it consistently make the “critically endangered” list on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species?

The answer: Poaching. These majestic creatures have been mercilessly pursued by poachers for their precious horns, used both in traditional Chinese medicine as well as for personal adornment in various parts of the world. The population of Black Rhinos, in particular, declined over 97% between 1960 and 1995, and they have been listed as critically endangered since 1996. They are now believed to be entirely extinct in western Africa, with three remaining subspecies tenuously populating eastern and southern parts of the continent.

The natural life expectancy for the Black Rhino ranges from 35 to 50 years, which is fairly long considering their immense size (2,000-3,000 lbs at full maturity.) Despite the intimidating horns, Black Rhinos are herbivores and use their strength primarily in fighting one another. Intra-species violence aside, they have no natural predators and have been pushed to the extinction and near-extinction by human practices, alone.

Here are 10 awe-inspiring photos of the powerful Black Rhino, whose compromised existence is no one’s fault by our own:

 

Photo credits: NagWolf, Joachim S. Müller, Vincent Catt

8 Things You Didn’t Know About Electric Cars

Tesla Model SAdvocates of the gasoline engine point to the high costs, low speeds and the unproven track record of the electric car as its caveats. However, the facts are clear: electric cars are drastically falling in price, are competing with ordinary driver vehicles for speed, entail far less maintenance and are proving even more reliable than cars using petrol. Bet you didn’t know these astounding facts.

1. Electric Cars Aren’t New Kids on the Block

In fact, electric cars have been around for more than 170 years. Robert Anderson of Scotland is credited with creating the first electric carriage in 1832. Electric cars have, of course, progressed significantly since then, as the technology has improved by leaps and bounds. You now have the option of controlling many of car’s functions from your smartphone. So if it’s cold outside, use your smartphone to start up your car and save yourself some freezing discomfort. Some of the best cell phones of 2013 now have the technology to seamlessly interact with your smart car.

2. Once Upon a Time, Electric Cars Were More Popular than Petrol Cars

Before the twentieth century, there were more electric cars on the road than gas-powered ones. Until the Model T was invented and petrol became readily available, that is. In 1897, all New York City taxis were electric-powered, built by Electric Carriage and Wagon Company in Chicago.

3. Ironically, Electricity Made Petrol More PopularKarma at speed in the fog

At first, petrol cars were less popular because they had to be hand cranked. When the electric starter was installed, it made starting petrol engines easier. So, electricity is what bolstered gasoline engines into popularity.

4. Electric Cars Need Almost No Maintenance

Other than replacing windshield wipers and buying tires, there is virtually no maintenance in owning an electric car. Even the brakes last longer due to the design of electric cars. The Mars Rovers have worked continually for over seven years with no mechanical issues at all.

5. Electric Cars are Speed Demons!

In 1899, the world speed record on land was made by an electric car from Belgium called La Janais Contante. It made history at 68 mph (109 km/h). Today, the world’s fastest electric car reaches speeds of 305 km/h and accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in a mere 2.8 seconds.

6. Electric Cars are More Available, Less Costly All the Time

In 2009, a consumer paid £21,334 for an electric car. Today that price has fallen to £10,990. By 2015, consumers are expected to pay a mere £6,500. Not only are the prices falling, but more vehicles are becoming available. Almost every major auto manufacturer in the world is expected to offer an electric vehicle within two years. Thirteen models are currently available, with 18 to come. The Tesla Roadster, Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf are just a few of the currently available electric cars to choose from.

7. Charging An Electric Car is Easy

Many consumers fear that charging the car will be difficult, expensive, time-consuming or impossible. However, charging electric cars is cheaper than buying petrol at today’s prices and most owners charge their cars overnight and lose no time at all out of their busy schedules. In fact, as your smartphone charges, so can your car! Increasingly, petrol stations are offering fueling stations for electric cars to meet customer demands.

8. Electric Cars are More Efficient With Less Pollutants

Eighty percent of the energy in an electric car goes toward powering the vehicle, while only 14-26 percent of the energy used by a petrol car does so. Additionally, electric cars introduce no pollutants, while petrol vehicles produce nitrous oxide, particulates and many other air pollutants.

Clearly, there is much we can learn about electric cars. Are you in the market?

 

Image via Flickr by Al Abut

Image via Flickr by Fisker Auto

10 Stunning Photos to Celebrate Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day! Today is Canada’s national holiday marking the enactment of the British North America Act, which officially united the country. Towns throughout Canada, as well as communities of Canadian ex-pats around the globe, will be celebrating their country’s nationhood with parades, carnivals, fireworks, and more! Canada is known for producing some amazing things – from maple syrup to amazing hockey teams to Frank Gehry. What we love most, though, is the country’s majestic, unbridled beauty, as captured by these stunning photos. Enjoy!

Victoria, British Columbia
Victoria, British Columbia
Capital, British Columbia
Capital, British Columbia
Central Kootenay, British Columbia
Central Kootenay, British Columbia
Kananaskis Lake, Alberta
Kananaskis Lake, Alberta
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Lake Moraine, Alberta
Manitoba, Manitoba
Manitoba, Manitoba

 

Manitoba, Manitoba
Manitoba, Manitoba

 

Quetico, Ontario
Quetico, Ontario

 

Yukon Territory
Yukon Territory
Screen Shot 2013-07-01 at 12.31.56 PM
Yukon Territory

What do you love most about Canada? Will you be celebrating Canada Day?

3 Easy Ways to Green Your Health for Summer

Screen Shot 2013-06-28 at 12.39.58 PMIf you’re like most people, a little voice inside your head has probably been telling you for a while that it’s time to get back to a more natural way of living and take a more serious look at the toxins in your everyday life. Even so, you may feel confused about the simple, practical things you can do to minimize your exposure and maximize not only your health, but your contribution to a cleaner planet.

What if I told you that making small, simple changes in your everyday routine could make a huge impact on your health and well-being, as well as the health of our planet?

Studies are coming out frequently about how everyday chemicals in our bodies are resulting in health problems like learning disabilities, autism, cancer and infertility. Often, the impact chemicals have doesn’t show up for decades, like with tobacco, for example. What is also unclear is what happens inside our bodies when we come into contact with different chemicals from lots of different sources. What are the risks for us and our children? Don’t wait to find out! You can do something today, right in your own home. Become aware of what goes IN you, what goes ON you, and what SURROUNDS you.

IN You: Your drinking water

If you think the water coming out of your tap is clean and health-giving … you’d be mistaken. In 2008, an investigation by the Associated Press showed that America’s tap water is contaminated with prescription and over-the-counter drugs, including antibiotics, pain medications, antidepressants and sex hormones “in significant quantities.” Scientists are concerned that, even in small concentrations, these drugs could harm us over time because water is consumed in such large amounts every day. Our bodies may be able to deal with a big one-time dose of a chemical, but if a small amount is consumed continuously over years … no one really knows what can happen to our health.

Green Tip #1:
Play it safe: Buy a water filter and fill up your own reusable metal or glass water bottles at home. Get off plastic bottles. 8 out of 10 plastic water bottles used in the U.S. become garbage or end up in a landfill, contributing to global warming.

(To check your local water quality, go to the Natural Resources Defense Council’s site at www.nrdc.org and then go to “What’s on Tap”? You should be able to access your community’s Annual Quality Report, or you can ask your water utility company for a copy of its annual water quality report.)

ON You: Your personal care products

Most of us use at least 10 cosmetic and personal care products a day and according to the Environmental Working Group, people apply an average of 126 unique ingredients to their skin daily. No one really knows what happens in our bodies when we repeatedly expose ourselves to minute amounts of synthetic chemicals from a variety sources. Another way to absorb chemicals in our personal care products is through the mouth. When a drug like nitroglycerine is administered for a heart condition, it is given under the tongue for fast absorption. So are natural homeopathic remedies. So what happens with your toothpaste?

Green Tip #2:
Switch one thing you use most often in your bathroom. Your toothpaste, for example.
Chemicals like fluoride, saccharin, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), triclosan and acetylpyridium chloride are in there. Switch to a natural brand that doesn’t contain these chemicals.

SURROUNDS You: Your household cleaners

If you’ve ever walked down the household-cleanser aisle at the market and your eyes began to burn or your nose became irritated, it’s because common cleaning products contain chemicals that can be more dangerous than the germs themselves. Every time your children roll around on the carpet or your pets lick crumbs off the floor, they are being exposed to noxious chemicals. Don’t make the assumption that if it’s on the grocery shelf it’s been tested and is safe. Most of us, unwittingly, buy products for our home with ingredients that are either poorly studied, not studied at all, or are known to pose potentially serious health risks. Of the roughly 17,000 chemicals found in common household products, only 3 in 10 have been tested for their effects on human health. Why? Because the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission does not require manufacturers to test household cleaning products before they appear on store shelves.

Green Tip #3:
Use hydrogen peroxide, vinegar and baking soda to clean your home. Fill one spray bottle with a 3 percent solution of hydrogen peroxide and a second one with vinegar. Spray one right after the other. Use it to wipe kill salmonella and bacteria on counter tops, appliances, and cutting boards. Do the same for the shower to kill bacteria and viruses. Use baking soda instead of commercial abrasive cleaners. Put it in a grated cheese container made of glass with a stainless steel top that has holes in it, and just sprinkle it on the surfaces and scrub.

***

Beth Greer, Super Natural Mom®, is a syndicated radio talk show host, former president and co-owner of The Learning Annex, Certified Build It Green® healthy home makeover specialist, and holistic health educator, who eliminated a sizable tumor in her chest without drugs or surgery. She’s author of the bestseller, “Super Natural Home,” endorsed by Deepak Chopra, Ralph Nader, Peter Coyote, and Dr. Joe Mercola. Visit her at www.supernaturalmom.com 

Originally published December 2011

Deepak Chopra: Does Climate Change Threaten The Survival Of The Human Race?

We’ve all heard the terrifying statistics that predict the fall of civilization with the progressing decline of the environment. At times we might feel too doomed to even change our ways and work toward sustainability.

In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak Chopra addresses climate change and social action. Joined by David Gershon, founder and president of the Empowerment Institute, the two argue that by taking collective action, we can make an impact on the world and on our environment for the better. Gershon addresses some of the key components of social change, which include protest, personal growth, and education.

What do you think? Do you feel inspired or hopeless about the environment? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and don’t give up hope for social change!

6 Reasons (And One Adorable Video) to Celebrate “Bike to Work Day”!

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 12.46.33 PMIf you haven’t heard, May is National Bike Month, and it’s time to start gearing up for an active and green summer! Sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists, this month is all about staying healthy, doing your part for the environment, enjoying the rush of fresh air, and experiencing your city outside the confines of a car. There will be bike month events taking place in communities around the country, which you can learn more about here. Tomorrow is Bike to Work day, so if you haven’t hit the pedals yet this month then there is no better time to start!

“But I don’t have a bicycle,” you might say. “I don’t know how to ride a bike… My bike is broken… I want a cycling partner…” Fear not! The League has compiled a database of resources for cities around the country. So if any of the above concerns applies to you, simply visit their website, type in the name of your town, and voilà! (If your town is very small or remote it may take some more digging, but Craigslist and Meetup.com can be great places to start. Just beware of scams.)

For some people, a bicycle might seem like an absurd alternative to the ease, comfort, and speed of a car. But there are several invaluable benefits to cycling over driving:

  1. You can avoid traffic and parking woes.
  2. You can get a great workout while simultaneously getting where you need to go.
  3. No gas, cheap(er) fixes, easier to maintain.
  4. You’re able to experience your city in a more tactile way than you would from inside a car.
  5. Fresh air, wind in your face, feeling your muscles work to get you from place to place.
  6. You can feel super cool and inspire healthy habits in your friends and colleagues!

What are your top reasons for biking?

As if you needed any more inspiration to hop on your bicycle this minute, here is a ridiculously adorable video of one Philadelphia cyclist biking around town with his kitty cat on his shoulders. How cool is that?!

 From the purring we gather kitty is into biking, too. 🙂

 

Photo credit: Flickr

5 Ways To Improve Indoor Air Quality and Your Health

 

Kairos ~ 151It probably doesn’t surprise you that poor air quality affects lung function, upper respiratory function, breathing, and can create a host of allergy problems. However, if you are like most people, you don’t automatically think that spending time in a smog-heavy city like Los Angeles could be a risk to your heart. While researchers have known for years that poor air quality and cardiovascular disease (the number one cause of death in the world) are connected, they have only recently started understanding how much that relationship impacts our health.

Here are a couple of recent findings that might surprise you:

1. A study released in April showed that high levels of air pollution increase the development of atherosclerosis – a condition where artery walls thicken and a risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.

2. In addition to developing thickened arteries, breathing polluted air can immediately increase your blood pressure and keep it there for up to 24 hours. This prolonged hypertension is also a risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.

There is no denying the serious effects of polluted air on our bodies, especially our hearts. But unfortunately, air pollutants are all around us and they don’t appear to be going away anytime soon. Common causes of air pollution include exhaust from cars, buses, and planes; use of fossil fuels for power or heat; gas and vapors from industrial businesses; chemical pesticides used in agriculture; and various indoor pollutants such as chemicals, smoke, and other substances.

While scientists have not yet figured out how to remove these pollutants from the environment altogether, there are things we can do to improve the quality of air we breathe indoors. Here are a few ideas that you can implement to keep you and your family healthy.

5 Tips to Improve Air Quality:

1. Save energy.

While trees help with outside filtration (one reason it’s so important we protect them), as individuals, we should do our part to lower outdoor pollution by saving energy. Make sure you turn lights out when you leave a room, take public transportation or carpool when possible, and walk or ride your bike to your destination (plus, you’ll get some good exercise too).

2. Keep indoor areas ventilated.

It’s also important to increase the quality of your indoor air. According to the EPA, the average American spends 90% of their time indoors and indoor air pollutants can be 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor pollutants. Since indoor areas are typically enclosed spaces with low ventilation, poor indoor air quality can be a serious health concern. Increasing ventilation with fans and keeping windows open, as well as investing in an air cleaner, will help.

3. Don’t smoke or use toxic cleaning products. 

The best way to decrease indoor air pollutants is to reduce or eliminate source pollutants (I know, a no-brainer right?). Some common culprits include cigarette smoke, toxic cleaning chemicals, and gas emissions from carbon dioxide and radon. Luckily, you can easily address these issues by not smoking inside your house (and not allowing anyone else to either), using eco-friendly cleaning products (they’re super easy to make), and regularly checking carbon dioxide and radon levels.

4. Be a smart traveler.

Of course, reducing and eliminating indoor air pollutants becomes harder when you have less control over your indoor environment in places like your work, restaurants, and hotels. Luckily, many states have laws banning smoking in public locations and in some offices. You can also talk with your employer about using eco-friendly cleaning supplies or investing in an air filtration system.

If you’re traveling in a city with high air pollution, ask your hotel to give you a non-smoking room as far away from the smoking rooms as possible. Also find out if they use eco-friendly cleaning products or have air filtration systems in their rooms. Some hotels, such as the MGM Grand Hotels in Las Vegas, offer special air filtration features to support guests’ health and wellness. The Stay Well rooms rooms have an advanced HEPA-standard air purification system designed to reduce allergens, toxins and pathogens. It’s important to choose facilities that regulate indoor pollutants while you are away from home.

5. Eat right, exercise, and don’t stress.

While we should all do our best to reduce air pollution in our environments, many of the toxins are simply out of our control. So beyond merely regulating what is going on in your external environment, take measures to bolster your internal defenses against poor air quality. Activities like eating healthy, exercising, and practicing stress reducing techniques will reduce the negative effects air pollution can have on your heart health.

The quality of the air we breathe (both inside and outside) affects everyone — ourselves, our children, our pets, and our neighbors. While air quality is a serious 21st century world problem, you can do your part to improve air quality and keep you and your family healthy and strong.

 * * *

18154748891333272199Are you ready for a healthy Vegas vacation?

The first of their kind in the world, Stay Well Rooms at the MGM Grand in Vegas are furnished with a number of amenities designed to maximize health, wellness, and relaxation. From dawn simulator alarm clocks, to state-of-the-art air and water purification systems, to aromatherapy, Stay Well rooms provide an unprecedented opportunity to have a healthy travel experience — even in Las Vegas. Designed by real-estate pioneer Delos Living, in conjunction with the Cleveland Clinic and Dr. Deepak Chopra, Stay Well will change the way you think about travel and hotel rooms. Learn more or book your reservation here.

 

Photo credit: Angélique Hayne

6 Creative Ways to Green Your Life in Time for Summer

First out of the trapThere’s a lot of pressure these days to be sustainable superheroes with canteen-packing totes, perfectly organic diets, and pricey hybrid cars. Most people are lucky to have access to a grocery store that even stocks local, organic foods, let alone at a price that’s amenable to the average income. These issues aside, sustainability and environmental decline are real issues that every individual should feel it within their power to combat with simple measures in their daily lives. That’s why we’ve collected 6 online resources that will hopefully inspire you to green your home, live healthier, and feel confident in the contribution you are able to make toward a sustainable world. Have fun!

  1. Start composting: An oldie but goodie, if you haven’t joined the compost bandwagon yet then now is your chance! It requires a bit of effort in the set up, but once your compost is up and running, sustaining it will be a breeze. And you don’t need a big backyard or garden to make it happen. Here is the ultimate guide to urban composting.
  2. Make an alternative energy source: You probably never even thought it within your power to create your own alternative energy. But think again! Here is a super simple, efficient DIY video on how to make your own backyard wind turbine. Even if you don’t feel like building a whole wind power generator, consider the ways you can reduce electricity – make use of natural light, look into energy-efficient shower heads, etc.
  3. Try backyard farming: Please don’t buy a $1,300 chicken coop (unless that’s what you’re into.) But do let this fascinating article on chic backyard farming inspire you to try your hand at raising chickens, growing vegetables, making preserves, or whatever you have the time and energy for. You don’t need to spend exorbitant amounts on boutique tools and tailor made gardening gear – a bit of space, time, and love are the most important ingredients.
  4. Recycle creatively: Recycling isn’t just about throwing bottles and cans in the proper bin. Explore ways to get creative with your recycling, like by making gifts and household products out of broken bike chains, old clothes, empty jars, and more.
  5. Make your own clothes: You don’t need a degree in fashion to start making your own clothes, but let this new sustainable fashion program, recently launched by Buckinghamshire New University, inspire you to work good eco-habits into your wardrobe. Thrifting is a great place to start, or have a clothing exchange party with your friends!
  6. Green your office: Whether you work from home or in a big office, there are lots of ways to reduce your footprint (and save money) at work. This can include switching entirely to Googledocs and electronic files to cut back on printing, using recycled paper, instituting communal office lunches, and more.

We hope you feel inspired and empowered to incorporate some green practices into your home and work environment! Summer is a particularly great time to get outside and plant those backyard gardens, start biking to work, take a thrift store outing, and the like. What tips do you have for green living? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments section below!

7 Animals Doing Yoga Outdoors to Celebrate Earth Day

Happy Earth Day! Today people around the world are observing the sacredness of nature, as well as human beings’ responsibility to amend the damage we’ve done to the environment. Through festivals, clean-up projects, community work, and more, cities around the globe celebrate what this day means to them, given their unique relationship to the earth. Getting outside and being in nature can be a great way to connect to the land and take stock of the work ahead to promote a sustainable planet.

These 7 animals already have the right idea: Get centered, be in nature, and celebrate Earth Day with some classic yoga poses.

Padmasana – Lotus pose

cobbler

Vasisthasana – Side plank pose

tumblr_l0j9ijplI71qzou5ko1_500

Bhujangasana – Cobra pose

kittcatyogaupdog_thumb

Utkatasana – Chair pose

chair+

Ananda Balasana – Happy baby pose

pada

Balasana – Child’s pose

Screen Shot 2013-04-22 at 8.00.00 AM

 Savasana – Corpse pose

Screen Shot 2013-04-22 at 8.01.16 AM

How do you celebrate Earth Day?

Photo credits: Unknown

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