Video: How to build a rain barrel
Since we’ve written about recycling rainwater in the past, we’ll never pass up the chance to talk up constructing a good rain barrel for use in your home..
Video: How to build a rain barrel
Since we’ve written about recycling rainwater in the past, we’ll never pass up the chance to talk up constructing a good rain barrel for use in your home..
It’s actually quite easy to reduce your carbon footprint with your online activities!
For those of us who are digital natives or just do all of our work online all day, these are 7 excellent tips for reducing electricity usage in reasonable, sustainable ways.
Our faves? Unplugging chargers when not in use (Hello, Energy Vampires!) and simply turning off lights and devices when not in use.
When John and Abigail Adams moved into the White House, the first lady complained that there weren’t “enough lamps and lusters so there were candles stuck about for light.”(1) While an exact figure is not available, estimates suggest the average electric bill at the White House currently exceeds $200,000. Poor Abigail would probably faint! She didn’t even have indoor bathrooms, since those didn’t come until the reconstruction projects authorized by the Theodore Roosevelt administration circa 1902.
When you compare the early efforts presidents made to conserve natural resources with today’s challenges, it can be difficult to identify which leaders were champions. However, a few do stand out above the rest.
1) Home Green Home: George W. Bush
Although his public policy on fossil fuels might suggest otherwise, President Bush definitely appears to have a conservationist’s approach in his personal life. According to David Heymann, the architect/designer for his Crawford Texas ranch, the modest home he and Laura built is an excellent model for building with the environment in mind (2). Below are a few key points that highlight the most notable features:
2) Lyndon Johnson and National Parks
In a special address to Congress on February 8, 1965, Johnson urged Congress to join him in moving the nation toward creating more beautiful open spaces for the growing population to enjoy. He posited that funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund would help him achieve making the 1960’s a “decade of Parks-for-America” As part of the project, he proposed buying lands to develop 12 parks across the nation for recreation. He also addressed concerns that strip mining destroys the natural environment, the impact of highway construction on the natural landscape and converting excess military land holdings to public access.
3) Richard Nixon and the EPA
While Johnson opened the door toward beautifying our nation’s urban and rural spaces, the Nixon administration actually created an agency that would have the power to substantially impact how and what corporations did, as well as the footprint they left behind. Many believe that Nixon originally decided to get behind the conservation movement as a purely political device. Regardless of his motivations, creating the Environmental Protection Agency proved to be a pivotal moment for our country. In the years since its inception, the agency has addressed everything from protecting groundwater to monitoring carbon emissions and more.
4) President Grant and Our National Park System
Credit for our national park system as it stands today should be shared by a number of presidents. President Grant signed the first bill that would set aside natural resources for recreation on a national level. He signed the National Park Act on March 1, 1872. Although his predecessors had set aside land, his signature redefined the underlying concept of conservation. Prior to his signing of the bill, natural resources were generally perceived as raw materials like coal and iron. Passage of the National Park Act created an opportunity for conservation efforts geared toward protecting lakes, canyons, mountains, and rivers.
5) Jimmy Carter and the Department of Energy
Carter created the Department of Energy in 1977. He focused his attention on conserving energy by exploring alternatives to fossil fuels, specifically solar energy, which is one hundred percent renewable and sustainable with the proper equipment and self-constraint. He had solar panels installed at the White House as part of his efforts to encourage citizen participation. He also encouraged everyone to dress warmer and lower their thermostats in order to decrease electricity usage, which would lead to lower fuel costs and reduced dependence on foreign oil.
Resources for more information:
Statue of Liberty image courtesy of Dominique James.
Richard M. Nixon image courtesy of History in an Hour.
Ulysses S. Grant image courtesy of Chuck893.
Jimmy Carter image courtesy of Children’s Bureau Centennial.
Happy Earth Day from Bounce Energy!
Check out some of our other Earth Day posts from our other outlets:
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released its complete list of 2013 automobile picks for “Best in Class” fuel efficiency. While all eleven winners ranked high on fuel economy, there are a variety of characteristics making each one unique. The various reviews from popular consumer rating agencies used adjectives like fun, quirky, sleek, well-designed, roomy, quiet, quick-charging and high value to describe the cars. So, if you’re looking to purchase a fuel-efficient, eco-friendly car so you can drive green this year, there is definitely something for everyone.
A pair of fully electric smart cars appears on the list of the most fuel-efficient cars for 2013 According to the smart car website, these compact, fun-to-drive vehicles are among the least expensive cars to own if you want to drive green, as both models boast an average 107 miles per gallon.*
Electric Drive Convertible
Electric Drive Coupe
With an average driving range of 68 miles per charge, this bundle of joy is great for local jaunts and short road trips, while the recharge time using a personal home charging station is roughly six hours.
Toyota Claims Three Spots in the Best in Class Ratings
This year, Toyota claimed three spots on the EPA’s list, and the Scion iQ EV was awarded the highest fuel efficiency rating at 121.* The Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid and the Toyota Prius V drove away with the award for the best midsize car and best midsize station wagon, respectively.
Scion iQ EV (four-seater)
Toyota claims the iQ electric vehicle was designed to meet the needs of commuters. With a maximum range of fifty miles per charge and a speedy three-hour recharge window, it is easy to see why this fuel-efficient mini-compact is popular with students and carpool enthusiasts.
Toyota Prius V Hybrid
The Prius V Hybrid is once again a winner. Consumer Guide rated the Prius V Hybrid 6.6 on a scale of 10. They rated fuel consumption as 10; however, this model only scored a 4 for acceleration and scored 5 in three categories: quietness, details and controls. At less than $30,000 (with many options), this value-packed ride comes with above-average cargo room compared to some other autos in the class. Front passengers also enjoy plenty of room to stretch out for a comfortable road trip.
Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid
Edmunds describes the Prius Plug-in Hybrid as “halfway between a full-electric and a hybrid car”. Reviews praise the increased range and superior fuel efficiency. The limited total-electric range prevents more enthusiasm, but a quiet, comfortable riding experience and plenty of standard features make the Prius Plug-in a value-packed choice in the midsize class for those who want to drive green.
Ford’s Triple Play
Like Toyota, Ford also has three fuel-efficient cars in the lineup this year. Ford offers two different hybrid models and one totally electric model to customers looking for ways to cut back on fuel consumption. All three offer superior fuel efficiency, along with many features and upgrade options.
Both the Ford C-Max Energi Plug-in Hybrid and the Ford Fusion Energi Plug-in Hybrid have 4 cylinder, 2.0 liter engines, and automatic (CVT) transmissions. The Ford Focus Electric has an automatic transmission (CVT) and a 107dW AC Induction motor.
Ford Focus Electric-Compact
According to Ford, many of the features in the new Focus Electric go beyond simply high fuel efficiency. This vehicle is extra eco-friendly, complete interior fabric is crafted using 100 percent recycled materials, and the foam used to pad cushions is a bio-based product that comes from plant seed oils.
While this is a premium choice for folks who want to drive green, we did notice a slight discrepancy between Ford numbers and those issued by the EPA when it comes to fuel consumption. Ford claims a rating of 110 miles per gallon, while the EPA listed the number as 105.*
Ford C-Max Hybrid Midsize
When Jeff Sabatini from Car and Driver test drove the new C-Max in December of 2012, he went in comparing this midsize to “the other one”, the Prius V. While Sabatini reported that driving this car is definitely fun, he did find a few things that prevented him from “falling-head-over-heels in love” with the electric newcomer. He reported that unless you drive very slowly, you can’t get the promised fuel efficiency, as what he observed was less than the Prius V test produced.
On the positive side, Sabatini reports that in a test against the Prius for all electric speed, the C-Max beat Prius by twenty miles per hour. Fans of the Mitsubishi Expo LRV will probably like the body style of the C-Max.
Ford Fusion Hybrid-Midsize
Beyond a respectable fuel efficiency rating, the new Ford Fusion Hybrid has style. Reviewer Daniel Pund (Car and Driver) called it ritzy. This is one car that has all of the attributes of a comfortable sedan in an eco-friendly package stylish enough to turn heads. This year’s model has a smaller battery pack and a rear seat that folds down which allows for added trunk room.
This rear-wheel drive hatchback has a total electric driving range of 62 miles. With a recharge time of 7 hours, it does take longer than many cars on the list to get ready for another trip. The combined fuel efficiency shows an average of 112 miles per gallon equivalent - with 126 miles per gallon in the city, and 99 on the highway.*
Small Station Wagon
Honda Fit EV
Features for this small station wagon include a rear fold-down seat, five-passenger seating, and a roomy interior cabin. Thought limited release options are available at this time, according to Honda, the Fit comes with standard safety features that include six airbags and special connectors for child seats in the two second row positions.
Large Class Tesla Model S
Closing out this list is Tesla’s Model S. This large sedan sets the mark for quality and performance in the eco-friendly electric car market. Premium accessories and features are why MotorTrend chose the model S as their 2013 Car of the Year in all classes and styles.
*Fuel mileage is computed based on formulas that convert electric usage to a gasoline consumption equivalent for comparison
Top Tesla Model S image courtesy of Jurvetson.
All other images courtesy of fueleconomy.gov.
Is your family looking to ‘go green’ in 2013? Well, you’re not alone – many people have growing concerns about the state of the environment, especially as stories about future oil shortages and global warming are featured prominently on the news. Others may be more concerned about the potential monetary benefits that can come from reducing usage of natural resources. And then there are the moms and dads wanting to help their kids be more conscious about their environment so that things are better when they become adults. Whatever your motivation might be, here is a list of seven ways you can help your family get started on the path to green living, complete with specific tips for teaching your children about living a ‘green’ lifestyle.
1) Hold monthly family meetings. Your family should gather together regularly where everyone discusses much energy was used in the home, the consequences on the utility bills, and how everyone can reduce that usage. Many utility companies offer the option of receiving print outs showing where and how the energy provided was used. Use this service to work with the family to brainstorm more ideas to decrease bills. For example, if the air conditioning is a tremendous drain in the summer, place one person in charge of making sure it is shut off completely when the family leaves the home.
2) Introduce children in the family to the Energy Star Kids site. It is an interactive site that teaches children how to be a part of the ‘green’ movement. Encourage them to use the site to develop ideas that the entire family can use. When they come up with a new idea, help them develop the steps to be the leader in guiding the family in taking action on the new project. When children feel intimately involved and in charge of something, they will value it even more.
3) Use cold water to wash all clothes. For most items, contrary to popular wisdom, hot or warm water is not necessary. For those ready to take it a step further, drying clothes on a clothesline instead of in a dryer can help reduce costs even further. To teach children about helping to take care of the family as well as about the importance of energy saving, encourage them to help hang clothes on the clothes line. They can race to see who can get their basket done first!
4) Turn off the water. Make sure everyone in the family turns off water while doing tasks such as brushing teeth or washing a face. Many people have the tendency to leave the water running, but this can end up wasting gallons by the day. It is a simple habit that even children can remember.
5) Use curtains, especially in the winter. By pulling down curtains over the windows, families can reduce the amount of heat that can escape through windows and help to further insulate the home. In the summer, curtains can also help reduce the amount of direct sunshine, which can further heat up the home. Encourage children to pick out curtains for their own rooms and explain their importance.
6) Replace regular light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs. CFLs and other new light bulbs use far less energy and last much longer than the older incandescent bulbs. Some estimates say that each bulb will save $92 in electricity over the course of the bulb’s lifetime. Follow these changes up by encouraging family members to turn off lights. Since turning off lights saves the family money, children can be rewarded with a nickel or dime every time the turn off the lights in an empty room. Encourage them to also look for other ways to save energy, such as turning off appliances and unplugging those that are not regularly in use.
7) Make sure the home is properly sealed. Many homes (especially those built before modern insulation techniques were introduced) tend to have many areas that are prone to drafts, particularly around doors and windows. Properly sealing these cracks with caulk, replacing doors and windows that do not fit properly, and upgrading to energy efficient when possible can do wonders for insulating the home. This will help reduce the energy needed to heat and cool the home. Encourage children to learn about construction techniques from over the years. They can learn about the old log cabins to the modern homes built today. Have them think about some of the problems that older materials may have created, such as drafts and lack of insulation.
There are many steps that families can take to help reduce their energy usage. Excessive energy consumption is not only potentially harmful for the planet, it can also cost a family an unnecessary amount in utility bills. No one likes to throw money out of the window, but that is precisely what many people end up doing. By beginning to enact just a few of the ideas off of the list above, households can begin to reduce their energy consumption, saving money and helping to save the planet.
Retail giant pledges to generate or source seven billion kWh of renewable energy a year by the end of the decade, saving it $1bn a year
Say what you will about other Walmart business practices, but it’s hard to find fault with the company’s plans to increase its use of renewable energy by 600% over its 2010 usage. This increase is planned to be completed by 2020, with a projected $1 billion in savings a year once these green improvements are fully in place.
What are your thoughts on Walmart’s plans?
We love this idea! You don’t need a farm to grow your own food. Here are several crops you can grow at home!
Recycle those old colanders!
Upcycling + Home Gardening = Fresh fruits veggies for everyone!
And we’re a fan of this great list that shows us how to grow potatoes, strawberries, cucumbers, and 7 other examples of tasty produce at home and with relative ease.
Courtesy of the fine folks at Buzzfeed, we wanted to share this excellent list of 13 vegetables that just happen to regrow themselves with just a little bit of water and some gardening know-how.
The list is separated into 3 sections representing 3 levels of difficulty: 1) Doable; 2) Feasible, but Not Easy; and 3) Feasibly Only if you’re some sort of Plant Magician with lots of Time and Patience.
Each vegetable comes with a link to specific instructions on how you can regrow the plant in the comfort of your own home (and even inside your kitchen). Our favorites include the “doable” romaine and carrots, the “feasible” celery and onions, and the “plant magician” sweet potato and ginger.
Which vegetable would you most like to regrow? Have any others you could include?
I keep seeing lovely, eye-pleasing photos floating around tumblr showing gardens and easy, space-saving planting techniques, usually accompanied with something along the lines of “You can grow anywhere!” or “Look how easy this is!”
Yes, yes, I agree, it is not that difficult to start your…
Click through to the original post for a wide range of tips, ideas, and links designed to help everyone (from experts to the newest of newbies) start a garden and grow your own food.
Everyone is more conscious about recycling, or as we now say “going green”. In fact, some people now engage in a DIY activity called “upcycling” - reusing and re-purposing common (and often broken) household items without just shipping them off to a recycling center. You can make useful items out of these materials we would normally throw away. Let us take a look at these various DIY craft projects we can easily complete with a bit of effort and ingenuity.
For those who like to knit or crochet, making purses out of those plastic grocery bags that you have stashed in a cabinet somewhere can be a fun craft project. You can also upcycle plastic bags to make coasters and wallets. Use your imagination and see what ideas you can come up to use the plastic bags. Click on the link below for directions on how to make this item and other useful ways to upcycle those plastic grocery bags - http://www.myrecycledbags.com/2007/05/18/recycled-plastic-grocery-tote-bag/
The next upcycling idea involves 2-liter bottles. If you are like most people, you acquire a lot of 2-liter bottles and don’t know what to do with the empty ones. Instead of just disposing of them or putting them out for the recycling truck, how about making a bird house out of them? This project will also help recycle those CD’s that are of no use to you anymore. Use the link for instructions on making your own bird house. Not only does this project help save the environment, it gives birds a place to live and provides you and your family hours of watchable enjoyment.
Other ideas for upcycling 2-liter bottles would include the creation of decorative pumpkins, bird feeders, planters, vases, lamp shades, etc. There are so many different craft projects that can be made out of all this plastic that you will no longer be throwing them away. For instructions on how to make your own 2-liter bottle bird house, click on the link. http://www.favecrafts.com/Green-Crafting/Plastic-Bottle-Birdhouse
If you don’t have any 2-liter bottles but have a horde of 20-oz water bottles, you can have the kids help in making a lot of different jewelry, home décor, and banks from bottles and caps. Most kids enjoy making crafts, and DIY projects where you can recycle and upcycle can help teach them that you don’t have to throw everything away. Use the link for more fun and ideas - http://www.favecrafts.com/Green-Crafting/14-Easy-to-Make-Water-Bottle-Crafts
Even as major news organizations move online, we still seem to generate lots of newsprint. What to do with all of that paper, besides send it to the recycling center? Some ideas include creating your own Christmas ornaments, bridal bouquet, or a small woven basket. Directions on how to weave the basket above can be found at http://www.craftstylish.com/item/47658/the-times-they-are-a-changing-how-to-make-a-basket-from-a-newspaper/page/all
Many other fun things can be made out of newspaper as well. If you are into knitting or crocheting, you can make yarn to create mats or whatever else you choose. Directions for spinning your own yarn from newspaper can be found here: http://greenupgrader.com/2138/handspun-recycled-newspaper-yarn/
Instead of spending lots of money for business cards, how about making some DIY cards from that newspaper you just got done reading? For more ideas on how to upcycle old unwanted newspapers, click the following link: http://pinterest.com/theprovince/newspaper-crafts/
Glass jars are frequently tossed into the trash or sent to the recycling center on a regular basis. Glass jars can be used to hold household items such as buttons, cotton balls, pens, etc. They also can hold flowers, or with a little paint or material of your choice, you can upcycle it into a vase. Whether it’s painted on, etched, and cut, or wrapped it in paper, yarn, or cloth, glass jars can be used for any number of DIY craft projects.
Kids can fill up a glass container with colored sand and have a decorative piece to put on display in your home. Since glass comes in all shapes and sizes, you can choose exactly the container that best fits your décor and style. For more ideas use the link. http://savedbylovecreations.com/2012/06/50-recycled-glass-bottle-projects-to-make.html
In general, upcycling your unwanted items can be fun for the whole family, since these easy craft projects encourage and foster creativity. By moving beyond recycling (which is great) to “reusing,” learning to upcycle also teaches the next generation that we shouldn’t waste more than we actually use or need to use.
Have any upcycling projects that you’d like to share with us?
Image courtesy of moonlightbulb.
Buzzfeed collects 41 different ways that you can upcycle broken materials around your home into various highly useful implements. A bit of advice - some of these ideas require a decent level of DIY ingenuity and crafting skill to complete successfully.