Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Resolutions for a More Sustainable World in 2010

The beginning of the new decade is a good time make a resolution for a more sustainable world. During the holidays we collectively generate mountains of waste. According to the California Integrated Waste Management Board and Recycle Works, the US alone purchases over 2.6 billion holiday cards each year. (enough to fill a football field 10 stories high). Between Thanksgiving and the New Year, Americans throw out an extra million tons of trash each week (a 25% increase). In addition, 38,000 miles of ribbon are discarded each year–enough to tie a bow around the Earth.

Powerful improvements can be made through relatively simple business innovations and consumer decisions. Each year, 50 million Christmas trees are purchased in the U.S. and about 30 million go to the landfill. During the average 15 year life span of a fake Christmas tree, a real tree user will put about 1/2 ton of waste into landfills. Fake trees are even more destructive to the environment as they are made with polyvinyl chloride (or PVC, otherwise known as vinyl), one of the most environmentally offensive forms of non-renewable, petroleum-derived plastic. Fake Christmas trees are also know to have several carcinogens, including dioxin, ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride. Fake trees also contain lead and other additives that have been linked to liver, kidney, neurological and reproductive system damage.

The most eco-friendly way to enjoy a Christmas tree is to buy a live tree with its roots intact from a local grower. As reviewed in a recent New York Times article, Scott Martin, a landscape designer in California, has established a business that rents living Christmas trees to LA homes using biodiesel trucks. After the holidays, the trees are picked up and planted on industrial properties.

The beginning of the new year is a good time to make green resolutions. Here are several suggestions:

Inform yourself about sustainable business
Raise awareness about sustainable business
Lobby your legislators on behalf of the green economy
Get a green degree
Get a green job
Invest in sustainable stock
Start a sustainable business
Make your existing business more sustainable

Whatever you resolve to do, find a way to get involved in the green economy. As consumers we can resolve to make more informed, responsible buying decisions. As entrepreneurs and business owners, we can make our businesses more sustainable by resolving to adopt the triple bottom line of planet, people and profits.

Other green business resolutions include incorporating sustainable principles into your business decisions. Supplying environmentally friendly products or services that replace the demand for non green products or services. Being greener than traditional competition and making an enduring commitment to environmental principles. (for more specific information on sustainable business frameworks and guidelines see ISO14001).

You can also follow THE GREEN MARKET and get updated, topical information delivered to your inbox, as well as gain access to the wealth of resources and tools in the Green Link Library.

Whether you are a business owner, entrepreneur or consumer, everyone can make sustainable resolutions for 2010.
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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Food and Water

Vertical Farming: Valcent, a company based in El Paso, Texas, is pioneering a space efficient hydroponic-farming system that grows plants in rotating rows, which expands food supplies without using more land. The rotation gives the plants the precise amount of light and nutrients they need, while the vertical stacking enables the use of far less water than conventional farming. The company claims it will use 95 percent less water than conventional agriculture, increase crop yields 20-fold for the same amount of land, and eliminate pesticide and herbicide use.

Green inventions for Water: This invention enables the extraction of water from the atmosphere. The Solar Powered Water Purifier eliminates the need to boil water using wood or coal. There are currently 1.2 billion people in the world living without clean drinking water.

Reusable Fruit and Vegtable Bags: As revealed in the sneak peek of G Magazine's list of the year's 10 most innovative eco-products, there have been a few interesting green inventions from Australia in 2009 including Greensacks, a finalist in the 2009 news.com.au Green Awards. Greensacks are reusable, lightweight mesh bags designed to replace small, single-use plastic fruit and vegie bags. A reusable alternative to plastic bags will reduce the current Australian use of over 10 million plastic bags a day, which take between 15 and 1,000 years to break down.
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The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Education

Climate Change Video: The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has produced a film about the reality of climate change in the Pacific island of Kiribati. The film clearly shows how people’s lives are being affected right now by rising sea waters. This powerful video shows how Climate Change is impacting people all around the world.

Children's Education Through Videos: Teachers are providing environmental education for children using videos. Videos from sites such as Green Energy TV foster awareness about what kids can do with regard to such things as the elimination of Junk Mail.

Copenhagen Conference Teacher's Website: Together, ClimateChangeEducation.Org and GlobalWarmingKids.Net are working to provide climate change education programs to educate children and provide resources to teachers.

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Next: The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Food and Water

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Miscellaneous Consumer Goods

The Environmental Toothbrush: Developed in Australia, this toothbrush uses bamboo and biodegradable polymer bristles rather than plastic. These brushes break down into compost, leaving no residue. Hundreds of millions of non-renewable plastic toothbrushes are discarded annually, adding 1,000 tonnes to landfill.

Another toothbrush design has a slot in the handle that squeezes toothpaste completely out of the tube. Rather than discarding it, this brush can be re-purposed for cleaning.

Greener Alcohol: An organic liquor company by the name of TRU alcohol offers spirits that are USDA certified organic from the field to the bottle. TRU’s packaging is light and sustainable - meaning everything is recycled, recyclable or biodegradable. TRU plants a tree for every bottle sold to replenish forests and paper stocks.

Remote Controls: Shake & Control remote control works by pressing or shaking. The Wind Up Remote Control works by winding a crank on the control. Both remote controls eliminate the need for batteries.

Water-Powered Clock: Simply fill it with water and a squeeze of lemon juice and it will run accurately for six to eight weeks without an external power source.

Green Inventions In Fabric: The Wonderland Project has unveiled the dissolving dress also known as catalytic clothing. These clothes can harness pollutants that would then be neutralized by washing. Clothes have a massive surface area, and this surface could be used to purify the air.

The Danish fashion industry made a green statement with the fashion show 'Innovating Sustainable Fashion' in Copenhagen on December 3. Karin Eggert Hansen, student at the Danish Design School made a collection out of the material from 100% recycled plastic bottles.
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Next: The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Education / The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Food and Water

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The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Transportation

The Nissan Leaf: Launched in August, the Leaf is the first fully electric mass production vehicle built for the global market. Nissan has developed a worldwide network of partners focused on building a recharging infrastructure. The car's top speed is more than 90 m.p.h. (145 km/h), and its range is 100 miles (160 km) on a full charge. Nissan will produce 50,000 Leafs each starting in the fall of 2010.

Air Car: A San Jose, California based company called Magnetic Car Care says that a car that runs on air and magnets will be available in 2010, India's largest automaker already has an air powered Car. The Tata Motors car runs on compressed air and reportedly costs less than $18,000.

YikeBike Electric Bicycle: It weighs about 20 pounds, runs on a lithium phosphate battery, folds into a small carrying bag, and moves at up to 12 MPH.

World First F3: A Formula 3 race car developed at the University of Warwick runs on a mix of chocolate and vegetable oil, has a coating on its radiator that converts ozone emissions into oxygen, and components made with carrot fibers, potato starch and cashew shells.
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Next: The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Consumer Goods / The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Education / The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Food and Water

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The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Energy Efficiency

The Smart Thermostat: The EnergyHub Dashboard communicates wirelessly with your furnace and your appliances and monitors energy consumption and costs. It can also turn appliances on and off and raise or lower the temperature in your house. The EnergyHub device provides detailed spreadsheets for programming energy usage, and offers features such as comparing your home’s energy usage to that of other EnergyHub users and weekly energy consumption. EnergyHub is currently partnering with utilities for trials and will be available direct to consumers in early 2010.

A More Energy Efficient Light Bulb: Philips Electronics has developed a light-emitting diode (LED) bulb said to produce as much light as a 60W incandescent bulb using less than 10W, and lasting 25 times as long. Sixty-watt lights account for 50% of the domestic incandescent market; replacing conventional light bulbs with LED. could save electricity equivalent to the energy required to power 17.4 million households.

Electron Stimulated Luminescence (ESL) Lighting Technology: This technology from Vu1 uses accelerated electrons to stimulate phosphor which creates light by making the surface of the bulb glow. ESL Technology says that this bulb creates the same light quality as an incandescent but is more energy conserving. These bulbs are mercury free.

Electricity Management with Mobile Technology: Z-Wave enabled home automation systems enables users to control thermostat, lighting etc from a mobile phone.

Blink Photocell Controlled Outlet has an adjustable eyelid that can be fine tuned to activate or deactivate the light sensing function. This gives it the energy saving advantage of automatically disabling and enabling outlets with the rising or setting of the sun. These little sensors can replace the need for bulky, complicated timers.
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Next: The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Transportation / The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Consumer Goods / The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Education / The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Food and Water

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Energy Production

The Solar Shingle: The Dow Chemical Co. has developed a new roof shingle that doubles as a solar panel. The new shingle incorporates thin-film solar cells and can be installed alongside regular asphalt shingles. The innovative shingle is expected to cost 10% to 15% less than traditional solar panels and wil be quicker to install. Dow predicts it will bring in as much as $10 billion in revenue by 2020.

Turning Waste into Energy: Green Energy TV has given Ze-gen, the Two Green Thumbs Up Award for being one of the Best Green Companies. Over one billion tons of waste have already been landfilled across the globe so far this year. Ze-gen's waste transformation is an economical and environmentally superior alternative to land filling or incineration. Clean and highly efficient gasification technology unlocks the potential for waste to be a domestically produced, renewable resource.

Turning Used Oil into Power: The Vegawatt is a turnkey plant that converts a restaurant's spent vegetable fryer oil into electricity and hot water.

Green Exercise: One man is reported to have lost over 70 pounds from riding his bike that powered the TV in his home. Some gyms are also starting to harness the energy from treadmills, bikes, and other equipment to power their electricity needs.
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Next: The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Energy Efficiency / The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Transportation / The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Consumer Goods / The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Education / The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Food and Water

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Best Eco-Inventions 2009

There were a host of greener inventions in 2009 and they include everything from tooth brushes to a planetary nervous system.

The term "eco-inventions" is composed of "eco" the short form of ecology, defined as the branch of biology concerned with the relations of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings. The word "invention" is defined as the creation of a new device or process, resulting from study and experimentation.

In the simplist terms, eco-inventions can claim one or more of the following: They save materials, they reduce energy, they increase efficiency, and they promote recycling or repurposing.

Some of the best inventions of 2009 involve monitoring technology. NASA and Cisco have teamed up to develop the "Planetary Skin," it will integrate land, sea, air and space-based sensors, helping the public and private sectors make decisions to prevent and adapt to climate change. The pilot project will track geographically specific carbon levels held by rain forests. A prototype will be released in 2010.

Researchers from Princeton University have developed a method of measuring the Personal Carbon Footprint. Their efforts stress individual carbon emissions rather than national levels.

Some of the more widely available green inventions include portable solar or wind powered rechargers for personal electronics like mobile phones and mp3 players. Although not a new technology, support.com's free “Green Computer” service helps people save energy and money. This service makes your computer more energy efficient and can save up to $75 dollars per year, equivalent to 400 to 1200 pounds of CO2 emissions. Seemingly small efforts add up, if one hundred thousand people used support.com's Green Computer service the carbon savings would be equivalent to planting 1000 acres of trees.

Recently Time magazine published its list of the 50 Best Inventions of 2009 and green innovations figured prominently in their list. As the year draws to a close, The Green Market will post a summary of 25 of the best eco-inventions of 2009. These inventions will be presented under the following 6 headings:

1. Energy Production
2. Energy Efficiency
3. Transportation
4. Consumer Goods
5. Education
6. Food/Water

From large scale projects to small scale creations, green inventions and energy innovation are the way of the future.
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Next: The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Energy Production / The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Energy Efficiency / The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Transportation / The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Consumer Goods / The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Education / The Best Eco-Inventions of 2009: Food and Water

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