Tag Archive | Environmentally friendly

The Cost-Efficient, and Energy Efficient Future of Power Bars

Energy waste can take many different forms, such as failing to turn the lights off when leaving a room. Now, with Cactus, this is no longer an issue. Cactus is a power bar which connects to the household WiFi, and allows users to turn devices which are plugged into it on and off using a smartphone. It also has a sensor that turns the lights on when someone enters a room and then turns them off again when they leave. On average, “standby power” accounts for 10% of American energy bills, which can total over $100 a year. With Cactus this can be easily managed. The video posted below was made by the inventors to promote Cactus as a crowd sourcing project, but it also shows the device in action. They have since met their monetary goals and are developing their prototypes. These power strips can currently be ordered for about forty dollars, which is the least expensive of the smart power bars on the current market. Check out the article that creator Giuseppe Crosti wrote for the Huffington post about his journey to make Cactus an energy saving reality, and developer Paul Rolfe’s blog entry about the device!cactus-outlet-green-2

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Eco-Sense Living for the Modern Era!

Meet Ann and Gord Baird! This family strives for a biocentric life, a way of living that utilises gardening and the earth’s many natural energy sources to allow them to live symbiotically with the land around them. Their life philosophy focuses on family, community, the environment, and on teaching others how to live in a sustainable way. Their home has been deemed the “World’s Greenest Modern House” by the Living Building rating system – the greenest rating system used worldwide. Their house features thermal hot water, passive solar power, rainwater harvesting, compostable toilets and a living roof! Their blog has information on workshops they do, good plants to plant in your garden, and a documentation of their life in a living building! Check out the page for inspiration, and witness the great work they are doing!3849230392_137a852cb5_b

Bee-Killing Pesticides Found in “Bee-Friendly” Plants Sold in Ontario

This is some serious news!!! Bee attractive plants that gardeners use to promote Bee procreation, have been tested and found to contain neonicotinoids!  In Canada!

The seeds of these plants are treated the same way as farmers crops – they are soaked in the pesticide so that as it grows, the pesticide is contained within each cell of the plant. It is more effective than spraying and reduces labour hours, however at what price? These neonics are the same that have polluted the water supply throughout the states, and has been banned from use in animal fodder and animal and plant refugee conservation sites.

About 50% of the bee-friendly plants have enough of the pesticide to kill bee’s outright, and 40% have two varieties of the neonics! Samples were taken from London, Ontario, Montreal and Vancouver, all with similarly disturbing results. How are we as consumers able to encourage growth in the bee population if the plants we buy to do just that, are actually detrimental to their numbers?

Otter Valley Naturalists

A new study released by Friends of the Earth Canada shows that over 60 per cent of “bee-friendly” home garden plants sold at garden centers have been pre-treated with neonicotinoids (neonics) pesticides shown to harm and kill bees. Of the samples collected from London, 100 per cent contained neonics, the highest amount in the Canadian tests.

The plants tested were: Calibrachoa, Gerbera Daisy, Shasta Daisy and Zonal Geranium. All but the Zonal Geranium showed two neonic pesticides, increasing its sub-lethal effects.

The Canadian data is part of a larger study, Gardeners Beware 2014, released by Friends of the Earth in Canada and Friends of the Earth U.S. with Pesticide Research Institute (PRI). Garden plant samples were collected from top garden retailers from 18 cities across Canada and the United States. Canadian samples were collected in London (Ontario), Montreal (Quebec) and Vancouver (British Columbia).

Gardeners Beware 2014 reported that 51 per…

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Tidal Power Comes to Scotland!

After over a decade of testing and prototype work, Atlantis’ MeyGen tidal array is set to move forward! Over the next two years, two tidal turbines will be installed on the sea bed of the inner sound of the Pentland Firth. By 2020 that number will increase to 61, and when the project is fully installed the number will reach 269 turbines! This will power 150,000 homes, and take 100 people to maintain. The project has been financed by many large grants from different levels of the UK government and corporations; the funding totals at £50m! Set to begin construction later this year, this tidal array will be the first of its size and type in the world! Read the full report at BBC Scotland: http://bbc.in/XMmGaz.turbine farm

A Big Leap For Wind Power

AltaerosEnergies

A look at the BAT as it is being raised into the sky.

 

Altaeros Energy’s Buoyant Airborne Turbine, or BAT, is the beginnings of a new step for Wind Energy. This turbine is not on a tower, but a helium blimp housing a turbine which is tethered to the ground from about 300 meters in the air (making it the worlds highest wind turbine!). The air is not only more powerful as you climb higher into the atmosphere, but the technology is less prone to problem. Without the massive steel tower, and yaw mechanism which rotates the turbine to face the wind as it changes, the maintenance is much less significant. The turbine also is quieter, while producing more energy! Although this technology is only in prototype phase, tests have been positive. Now being tested over Alaska, CEO Ben Glass predicts to provide power at about $0.18 per kilowatt-hour, about half the price of off-grid electricity in Alaska.

It seems like this is a win for energy efficiency and standards of living! Kudos to Altaeros! Find a full article, from The Spirit Science here: Wind Turbines Take to the Skies to Generate a Magnificent Quanta of Energy VIDEO! , as well as from IEEE Spectrum here.

 

This Is a Chemical-Free Zone!

 

natural dye

A lot of the time we consider environmental issues to be that of wildlife, or resource depletion. How often do we consider the clothes we put on our bodies? How are they made? Natural dyes are one way to ensure the fabrics closest to our bodies are not harmful! Monika is a passionate natural dyer, her products are sold on Etsy, and documents her work on her blog – Red 2 White. She posted last month attributing some of her knowledge to Michael Garcia, master dyer! If you want to give it a try, check his books or DVD’s out to get some know-how, and Monika’s blog for ideas and product reviews!

michael garcia

 

One Step Forward for Ford

Architectural-Solar-Canopy-Image

 

Yesterday CBS Detroit reported on Fords plans to build a large solar array in the Ford Headquarters with help from DTE. It will provide 360 parking spaces with 30 charging stations for electric vehicles underneath a solar canopy which will provide 1.038 megawatts of energy! That’s enough for 158 average sized homes! They intend to break ground in September and be functioning in early 2015. Read the full article here!

Toledo isn’t Alone

mount polleyYesterday 1.3 billion gallons of mining waste burst from a Mount Polley gold and copper mine’s tailing pond in the Cariboo region of British Columbia. Canadians in the region cannot drink their water, and authorities can not yet tell how many more Canadians will be effected as the water continues to flow through creeks and streams. The area is sparsely populated limiting human impact, however the environmental harm created is vast. Lake Erie’s algae bloom is a natural reaction catalyzed by human activity, whereas this disaster is a direct effect! Carelessness, and laziness are two qualities the future of our planet strongly relies on, and yet they were not shown. Read Think Progress’s full article here.

How Noisy is Too Noisy?

The United Kingdom’s energy strategy for the future is heavily reliant on off-shore wind turbines. The unknown element here is how the underwater noise of these turbines, during construction, and in usage, will effect the environment. The University of Newcastle’s Sustainability blog posted about the preliminary challenges of these turbines.

wind turbines

The masts which hold the turbines must initially be hammered into the sea floor, destroying habitat space, and causing loud echos and rippling waves from it’s center. In coalition with other University research teams, Newcastle’s research team spent four days on the water collecting samples of species and water with various technologies in order to map the ecosystem before construction, during, and usage periods. This will help them understand the effects of underwater noise in their marine ecosystems, and design ways of limiting potential issues into the future. Read their blog post for more information on this endeavor, and other sustainability news.

SustainabilityResearch@Newcastle

In July 2013 the RV Princess Royal was home to a group of UK underwater sound specialists, called the Bio-Acoustic Research Consortium (BARC). This new project is led by Dr Per Berggren from Newcastle University’sSchool of Marine Science and Technology and it brings together a range of noise specialists, ecologists and industry professionals with a common aim: to better understand the impact of underwater noise on marine ecosystems.

The consortium has attracted grant funding from the Natural Environment Research Council’sMarine Renewables Knowledge Exchange Programme to explore the environmental challenges associated with offshore wind development, an industry that continues to grow rapidly. The Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability (NIReS), also supplied a small grant towards equipment costs which has funded the purchase of six hydrophones, called C-Pods, for detecting marine mammals. It is hoped the knowledge gained from the project can be fed directly back to industry…

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Bee Killings Causing the Death to More Than Just Bees

David Quilty, blogger of The Good Human, writes some devastating news last week. The insecticide neonicotinoids which are used to kill bees have been detected in nine major rivers across six different states. While the effects of neonicotinoids are quasi-understood when used as insecticides, what the effects on the fish population will be is still uncertain. The likelihood of negative effects however, seems plausible if not probable. What’s more is that now that the toxin has infected our water supply, it can be precipitated across other areas where there is not agricultural purpose. This does not effect one farm, but breaks through ecosystem borders. Currently, Bayer and Monsanto (among others) manufacture and sell them, and it is the most widely used insecticide in the world. Already detrimental effects are compounding from the usage of this chemical, but will the present profits made from it continue to outweigh the future of our planet? bees