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Spring greening your home room by room

spring cleaningAh spring, when so many people’s hearts turn to thoughts of spring cleaning.

I have only met a few people who actually enjoy cleaning. It’s a dreadful chore for most of us.

The stores have prepared their shelves and announced their big sales on an overwhelming variety of specialized cleaning products that are supposed to make spring cleaning more convenient:

  • one cleaner for floors
  • another for counters
  • another for glass surfaces like windows and mirrors
  • a few more more for various other surfaces like wood, plaster, upholstery, or metal
  • one for drains
  • something else for toilets.

Whew! Isn’t one of the objects of spring cleaning to declutter? So where are you supposed to put all that stuff? So much for convenienceContinue reading

Cashing in on a home solar system

EnergySage home solarSunlight is free. Electricity from sunlight is not, but in recent years, costs have declined dramatically.

Is this a good time for you to consider installing a home solar system? It’s a great time, but the process can be complicated.

You will need solar panels. Because solar panels produce DC and your house runs on AC, you will need inverters. You can get a single inverter for the entire system, or you can get a mini inverter for each panel.

The legal and regulatory requirements depend on where you live. So do the amount of sunshine you receive and the cost of electric utility service, which directly determines how much money your home solar system will save you. Continue reading

Bioplastics: potential solution to plastic pollution

Biodegradable plastic utensils bioplastics

Knives, forks, and spoons made from a biodegradable starch-polyester material.

You know that plastic doesn’t break down into other compounds, so it basically lasts forever. Did you ever wonder why? After all, it’s made from petroleum, an organic substance.

And did you ever wonder if it’s possible to make a biodegradable plastic?

The answer to the latter question is, yes. Unfortunately, the current generation of bioplastics doesn’t solve plastic’s environmental problems.

Not yet, anyway. Scientists are working on it. Continue reading

How Much Plastic Do You Use Every Day?

bales of blue plasticContributed by Edward Woodward

A lot of people don’t realize just how much plastic they use on a daily basis.

Even if you do recycle it, it’s still better if you don’t use too much of it in the first place.

Plastic accounts for around 10 percent of the total waste we generate.

Take a moment to think about all the things you use that are made from plastic every day. Most people use things like plastic bottles, food containers, bags, beauty products, cleaning containers and household tools. Continue reading

Does Duke Energy hate solar power?

Duke Energy resists home solar panels

Photographer’s caption: The rails that will hold the solar panels in place are up, and we are wrapping up at the end of Day 1 of installing the panels on a low-income house in Oakland, California.

Duke Energy operates in the Southeast and Midwest. But it has just purchased development rights to a large (130 MW) solar project in California. It will sell the electricity to Southern California Edison.

It has also pledged $500 million to expand its solar generating capacity in North Carolina. That’s no help for homeowners who want third-party financing for their own systems.

According to Duke’s web site,

More and more people across the U.S. are looking for greater renewable energy choices, and solar plays an increasingly important role in the way Duke Energy provides electricity to our customers.

Already, it’s helping homeowners, businesses and governmental organizations meet part of their energy needs. And as the cost of solar installations continues to decrease nationwide, it’s easier for customers to choose solar.

Just not in North Carolina and similar states. NC Warn claims, “Duke Energy is trying to destroy our growing solar industry to protect its ‘build plants, raise rates’ business plan and monopoly control.” The article later asks, “Why does Duke Energy hate solar?” Duke obviously doesn’t hate solar. Yet it just as obviously stands in the way of rooftop solar installations for North Carolina residentsContinue reading

12 Simple, Affordable Ideas to Go Green Now

Contributed by Organic LessonEarth in hands, ways to go green

Earth Day started 46 years ago. People were concerned about excessive dam building, pesticides, pollution, and tainted food.

Leaders of the first Earth Day succeeded politically. Congress passed landmark legislation and established the Environmental Protection Agency.

Everyone completely neglected to consider what individual Americans could do to go green. Continue reading

How to rid the oceans of plastic? Ocean Cleanup Project

Ocean Cleanup Project arrayWhen you think of the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” you might envision an area in the ocean full of yogurt cups and other debris.

Some say it’s the size of Texas and visible from space. Why doesn’t anyone do something about it?

Actually, the trip to the patch has broken the yogurt cups down to tiny little pieces. You can’t see it unless you’re there.

And the fragments aren’t as close together as you might imagine. The plastic is actually a bigger problem that way. And unfortunately, the ocean has at least five gyres, rotating currents where plastic can float in, but not out. Continue reading

Why unexpected companies embrace renewable energy

Wind farm--renewable energy

Wind farm

Corporations you might never have guessed have begun to make significant investments in renewable energy. And that despite legal uncertainty as the administration’s Clean Power Plan awaits a Supreme Court decision before it can go into effect.

Google bought the most renewable energy last year. Again. But first time buyers, including companies not known for support of environmental causes made two-thirds of business purchases. Continue reading

The Nature Conservancy: quiet protector of land

The Nature Conservancy at Table Rocks

Table Rocks environmental education, southwest Oregon. Joint project of the Bureau of Land Management and The Nature Conservancy

Perhaps you, too, have heard of The Nature Conservancy, but don’t know much about it. I recently attended an eye-opening presentation.

I have visited and enjoyed places that The Nature Conservancy helped preserve, but I never knew it.

Founded in 1951, it’s not as old as the Audubon Society or Sierra Club. It’s not as confrontational or headline seeking as Greenpeace. Continue reading

Waste disposal: there’s no such place as away

waste disposal: duck with litterIf you live in the U.S., then your share of one day’s production of trash is about four and a half pounds. Besides what you throw away personally, everything you buy represents a lot of trash before it gets to the store shelves.

We say we throw stuff away, but where’s away? Out of the house. Out of town perhaps, but not out of this world. It’s all right here somewhere.

Too much of it ends up as litter. Proper waste disposal means most of it goes to the landfill. Some towns are returning to the old practice of building incinerators. Of course, some trash gets recycled. All of these practices have undesirable environmental consequences. Continue reading