Tag Archives: sustainable

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

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!

$15 Billion For Mother’s Day – How About $4 For A Brick?

According to the National Retail Foundation, Mother’s Day is big business and it looks like this year, total spend could top $15,000,000,000.

Besides this making me feel that the chocolates and card I give my mother every year is dragging the average down a touch, it makes me hopeful that this is a good year to ask everyone to consider donating $4 for a brick to not only honor their mother, but help a mother out in Costa Rica.

While here in the United States, we are starting to think about what restaurant to take Mom to or trying to remember what we got her last year, in Costa Rica, the mothers of one small village have much simpler things on their minds. Working with the amazing folks at the Mastate Charitable Foundation, these mothers are trying to build a small community center for their children to gather and play in.

So, we’re trying to help them, one brick at a time.

For the sum of four dollars, which pales next to the close to BILLION DOLLARS that will be spent on spa packages for mothers here this year, you can donate a brick to the Community Center (we need three thousand more bricks to finish the center._

Now, I am not suggesting that a brick be the only present you give this Mother’s Day, and of course, if you are a mother, maybe you’ll relate to the mothers in Costa Rica whose wish is for a better life for their children.

But I am hoping with the billions and billions spent this year, we can together donate $20,000 to help build this community center. After all with the great foundation in life your mother gave you, it would be nice to help another mother do the same.

To learn more or to donate a brick, please click here.

easier than You Might Think to Make Green Purchases!

Do:

  • Replace products that are made from petrochemicals with products that are made with natural, non-hazardous and preferably renewable products. For example, use bamboo flooring that is finished with natural wax and Tung or Linseed Oil, and purchase natural paints, lime plasters and cork floors.
  • Purchase raw materials near production site to save on transportation expense and fuel waste.
  • Purchase materials that were processed using renewable energy.
  • Extend product life by reuse and recycling of components.
  • Recycle waste to become ingredients in other products. Called "biomimicry", it is the manufacturing process that takes one product and turns it into something else. For example, carpets that are made from recycled plastic bottles, paints that are made from vegetable extracts, tiles that are made from ceramic waste and rubber flooring that is made from recycled tires.
  • Support companies that employ safe and clean methods to produce product or who use recycled products.
  • Support companies that sell healthy, organic, sustainable products.
  • Support companies that engage in fair-trade and good wages for employees and a safe and fair work environment.*

 

* Not related to green living, but relates to conscious living.

Don’t

  • Purchase from companies that pollute.
  • Purchase from companies that sell toxic or otherwise unsafe products.
  • Purchase from companies that do not support child-labor laws.*
  • Purchase from companies that practice unsafe or discriminatory working conditions or pay wages that do not constitute fair or livable conditions.*
  • Purchase from companies that use endangered wood or other unsustainable materials.

 

The following products cause pollution and should be avoided when possible:

  • Most commercial cleaning products and other household chemicals.
  • Garden pesticides.
  • Carpets glued with solvents, treated with fungicides and containing residual pesticides.
  • Fabrics treated with chlorine, benzene and/or formaldehyde.
  • Most plywood and particleboard, which contain formaldehyde, urea, and other dangerous glues.
  • Many paints and stains, which contain fungicides, volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) and other chemicals.
  • Vinyl flooring, furniture, and plastics that contain VOC’s such as bromides and chlorine.
  • Dry cleaning.
  • Underground oil tanks.
  • Electricity (While it’s not feasible for most of us to eliminate electricity, there are ways—illustrated later in Harmonious Environment—to reduce your exposure to it.)

Makini Howell: Vegan Queen

Who can get Casey Affleck, Joaquin Phoenix, Liv Tyler, Jenny McCarthy, Daryl Hannah, Gus Van Sant, Michael Cera and twenty or so others of Hollywood’s cool list together for a meal of tofu, quinoa and tempeh? Only Makini Howell, chef and co-owner of Plum Bistro in Seattle, WA.

A small woman with a giant smile, Makini cooked for a ridiculously star-studded Earth Day party hosted by Casey Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix and planned by Simone Le Blanc, at the home of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner in Pacific Palisades. EcoStiletto’s Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff joined the party to nab an exclusive interview with the chef, who might just do for vegan food what Alice Waters did for organic.

Guests ranged from hard-core vegans—like Mike White, who was wearing a “vegan mafia” shirt made especially for the occasion, andSkinny Bitch’s Kim Barnouin—to admitted carnivores. All were curious about Makini’s innovative cuisine—what she calls “bridging the gap between carnivores and plant eaters”—which brought fans Casey Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix on board as investors to launch Plum Bistro LA this fall in Los Feliz.

A lifelong vegan, Makini represents the third generation of a nearly 40-year-old family business. “I don’t believe animals are made for food,” she said. “Violence begets violence…veganism feeds a vision of peace.” She and her family own four vegan restaurants in Seattle, all of which serve certified organic food and are operated with environmental consciousness in mind. Plum Bistro LA boasts a partner in Graham Baba Architects, who specialize in sustainably rehabbing and reusing existing building materials to create spaces that are at once vintage and modern.

For Makini, veganism is a natural progression of environmentalism. “You have to see the big picture of veganism and sustainability and how it affects the planet,” she said. “By the mere act of being vegan you reduce your carbon footprint.” Her stance is backed up by facts:Livestock production is now responsible for 51% of greenhouse gas emissions—that’s more than all modes of transportation combined. And last year, the U.N. went on record to recommend that people cut down on meat consumption in order to combat global warming.

Veganism is also about health: As the federal government exposes slaughterhouse practices that result in salmonella in chicken and feces in beef scandals, data on vegetarianism finds lowered cancer rates and rates of obesity.

But back to the food: This is not your mother’s tempeh. Makini served up mouth-watering dishes like her signature “mac and yease,” cornmeal-encrusted seitan sliders and ricotta tofu served with pears as examples of what she calls “rustic, vegan, American food.” After introducing the finale—a coconut-lime cheesecake with a chocolate cookie crust—Makini concluded, “We want to make sure you don’t miss the meat.”

With Makini in town, not likely.

Plum Bistro doesn’t look like what you’d think of as a vegan restaurant. It looks like a beautiful, elegant, upscale restaurant—that just happens not to serve meat. I feel like it’s kind of what we’re doing with EcoStiletto in a way—writing about fashion and beauty, but it just happens to be organic and sustainable.

I think it’s more effective than going around throwing paint on people. It’s hard to change people’s minds that way.

Why vegan food? Is it just about avoiding cruelty to animals?

Yes, it’s about that. But I was raised vegan. I want to bring a plant-based diet to people. I want to build a bridge between carnivores and vegans. People don’t realize how good vegan food is. I want to create a space where it’s not viewed in a negative light, where people realize how important it is to have a plant-based diet as part of our lives.

Dying to read more?  Get the rest of the interview at Ecostiletto.com!

 

 

Social Action Driving Businesses to Adopt Sustainable Practices

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_gNQRb61OvwE/S7SFJy-64VI/AAAAAAAABbM/n8497iw6WQM/s1600/greenpeace-scorecard.jpgSome businesses have seen the wisdom of going green ahead of public pressure, others are being cajoled out of their complacency by an increasingly concerned public. The following account is a cautionary tale for businesses that ignore responsible practices.

Trader Joe’s was subject to an online campaign including Greenpeace’s mock website. Pressure also took the form of phone calls, in-store demonstrations and questions to store managers from activists and shoppers across the country.
 

To continue reading go to THE GREEN MARKET.

Tara Projects in New Delhi, India helps the “untouchables” and oppressed earn safe, thriving livelihoods as artisans

World of Good, Inc. was founded in 2004 to create sustainable, market-based solutions to global poverty alleviation. Through a series of strategic relationships with online and offline retail partners, we create opportunities for thousands of marginalized artisans around the world to gain access to a rapidly growing segment of consumers who are looking to make informed, educated, and socially-responsible decisions when they shop. 

It began with our line of fair trade products sourced from artisans-mostly women-all around the world.  In 2008, we partnered with eBay to launch WorldofGood.com, the world’s first multi-seller online marketplace dedicated exclusively to the sales of ethically-sourced and eco-friendly products.  We maintain relationships with artisans to continue sourcing for our original line (www.originalgood.com), which can also be found on WorldofGood.com along with products from hundreds of sellers.

One artisan group we work with, Tara Projects, was started in 1973 by university students in New Delhi who wanted to impact the lives of “untouchables,” people oppressed by a caste system which deems them impure.

artisanforblog

Through it’s strategy of “trade, not aid,” Tara Projects has improved the livelihoods of hundreds of disadvantaged and “untouchable” artisans in and around Delhi, who rely on self-sustaining job skills and benefit from education programs, safe work environments, health care and retirement plans, and no-interest loan programs. Considering the impact Tara Projects has made in the lives of these artisans and their families–not to mention the collection’s bright colors and great style–we feel pretty proud to offer this line!

 We’ll keep blogging about more inspiring artisan groups, so stay posted!

Want a More Authentic, Less Commercialized Traveling Adventure? New ekoVenture Marketplace Launches

Calling itself “the first social marketplace for experiential travel”, ekoVenture recently launched.

The site provides access to 10,000+ travel experiences and day activities from 450+ tour operators in over 160 countries. A community of travelers will  also share reviews, blogs, photos, videos and more.

“Experiential travel is the fastest growing segment of travel because consumers are seeking more authentic travel experiences to break the cruise ship and theme park cycles”, says TJ Sassani, ekoVenture’s Founder and CEO.

Travel categories on ekoVenture include sustainable, cultural, adventure, culinary, active sport and voluntourism.  Among the trip experiences offered are cycling in the Moroccan desert; sailing the Greek Islands; ‘sip and cycling’ in Napa Valley; hiking the Kokoda track in Papua New Guinea and volunteering in east Africa.

 The ekoVenture Guru network will also share their experiences, recommendations and expertise with the ekoVenture community.  This network will feature 12 world record holders, five National Geographic Adventurers of the Year, conservation leaders and adventure trailblazers from across the planet. Gurus will include legends like Jamling Tenzing Norgay, Leo Le Bon, Emma Stokes, Chris Fallows and others.

ekoVenture plans to donate  a portion of its profits to support local communities through various initiatives like providing clean drinking water and preserving reefs and rainforests.

For more info, check out ekoVenture.

DIY EcoStiletto’s Essential Facial Scrub/Mask in Three Minutes Flat!

It’s not like I’m some crazy Birkenstock wearing woman who uses The Rock on her underarms. I like lipstick as much as the next girl—I just like to know mine’s lead-free. Think I’m kidding? Go to the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetics Safety Database http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/ and search your brand of lipstick. More than 60% contain lead, which is a neurotoxin. And most women eat about nine pounds of the stuff over their lifetimes. But seriously, there are so many awesome beauty products that are totally chemical free these days, why would you want to use anything else?

 

 At www.EcoStiletto.com, I’ve got some DIY beauty options that just might get you off chemicals altogether. Think you need to make a special trip to Whole Body to find eco-friendly beauty? Think again. Go to the kitchen and grab sugar, eggs, honey and instant oatmeal. Go on, I’ll wait!

 I love scrubs but don’t like that most of them contain oil. I like things that can be used on my face, hair and body—and oil isn’t one of them, no matter how pure, it still gives me zits and always ends up in my hair. So I created this Essential DIY Scrub & Mask that I’m totally addicted to—I’ve been using it every day for the past three days (okay I’m a little obsessive) and seriously my skin has never been better. My blackheads are gone, my giant pores are smaller and my skin feels super soft and clean. Try it!

 Essential DIY Scrub & Mask:

  •  Six tablespoons raw organic sugar
  • One free range organic egg white
  • One tablespoon organic honey
  • One packet plain instant organic oatmeal

 Strain the egg white into a bowl (or mortar, if you’ve got one), then blend in the sugar with a fork (or pestle). Blend in the honey, and then the oatmeal (leave it uncooked). Now rub the mask into your skin in small circles.

 Some people think that sugar can be too harsh for the face, so if your skin is sensitive, please be gentle. I, on the other hand, have alligator skin. I like to put some muscle into it.

 Once you’ve thoroughly exfoliated your face, just clump some more of the scrub onto it and let it dry for 10 to 20 minutes. (Make sure you’re wearing not-so-nice clothes, as it sometimes does fall off a bit.) Wash off, and presto, glow-o!

 You can also use the scrub in the bath or shower—because it lacks oil, you don’t have to worry about slippage. Make sure your pipes can handle the small amount of oatmeal involved. And keep any excess in the fridge—it’ll keep for a few days, but after that, toss it. (If you use it straight outta the fridge you might need to dilute with a little water for better spreadability, just fyi.)

 The secret ingredient to this recipe is honey. Honey is a natural emollient, which means it helps the skin trap moisture. When I visit my family in Santa Fe, I always stick a bunch of organic honey sticks in my carry on. At night, I crack open one of those sticks and slather the stuff on my face. I leave it on for 10 minutes or so and wash it off. (It helps if I haven’t already had dessert. Yum.) It leaves my skin super dewy and soft, minus pore-clogging oil.

 Sugar is a natural exfoliant, as is oatmeal, which also has colloidal—or soothing—properties. I’ve used whipped egg whites on my skin for years to cleanse and minimize pores—recently I heard that egg whites also increase the production of collagen, which is something I didn’t care about as a tweenager. I’m not a beauty scientists so I can’t tell you exactly how it breaks down. But for those of you who are trying this right now, tell me how you look in 20 minutes. It works, right?

 

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