July 13, 2015 Family

DIY “UpCycled” Crayons

“Here’s a fun one for the whole family.

What do you do with those boxes of old, heavily used (but loved) crayons?  You turn them into a DYI project with the kids!  They can be melted down and turned into great recycled, different shaped writers that your young and older children can both enjoy.

Here’s what you need:

  1. Kitchen knife
  2. Old crayons
  3. Mini –cake or muffin tins (cute heart or various shapes are fun!)

Directions:

  1. Parents use the knife to chop crayons in to pea-size pieces. Have the kids help remove any remaining paper.
  2. Preheat oven to 150 degrees
  3. Have children fill tins with crayon pieces, mixing colors to make cool designs.
  4. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or just until the wax has melted
  5. Remove the shaped crayons after they have cooled.  If they stick to the tray, place in the freezer for an hour and they will pop out.

Tip:  If you don’t want to devote your tins to the melted wax, line them with tin foil

Now you and your kids can color away!”

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Food

Huntington Beach Students Do A Bit Better

We want to give a great big “way to go” to the students of Greg Goran’s sustainability class at Huntington... Read

We want to give a great big “way to go” to the students of Greg Goran’s sustainability class at Huntington Beach High School in California. Over the past three years, these students have planted, nourished, and picked their own fruits and vegetables at their school. It has become such a successful garden that they now sell their produce to Slapfish, a local seafood restaurant. These students truly are, doing a bit better. If you want to read more about their efforts, click here.

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Family

Turn Off the Water, Buy Yourself Dinner

“Did you know that according to the California Energy Commission, about 75% of the water used in the average home... Read

“Did you know that according to the California Energy Commission, about 75% of the water used in the average home is in the bathroom?  Leaving the water running while we brush our teeth or wash our faces only increases this number. It can be a tough habit to break, but putting a price-tag may aid you in getting your family to change their habits.

Turning off the tap while brushing your teeth in the morning and at night saves a whopping 8 gallons of water each day, according to the EPA. If each member of a family of four nixed the water-running habit, you’d save about $13.75 per person or $55 each month.

That savings can buy your family dinner at your favorite restaurant.”

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Celebrity

Hayden Panettiere and Matt Damon are Doing a Bit Better!

Congratulations to two of our favorite stars! Hayden Panettiere and Matt Damon are being honored by the Environmental Media Association... Read

Congratulations to two of our favorite stars! Hayden Panettiere and Matt Damon are being honored by the Environmental Media Association for their commitment to promoting green living.

Damon will be receiving the Ongoing Commitment Award for his organization, Water.org, which provides safe water and sanitation to people who don’t have easy access to it.

Panettiere will be accepting the Futures Award which honors young stars for their work as environmental activists. She is very involved in Whaleman Foundation, working to protect the oceans and their inhabitants.

Way to go Matt and Hayden! You are Doing a Bit Better!

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Family

Tin Can Art Supply System

“Our kids all seem to be little Rembrandts. They love to color, draw, paste and paint – and sometimes stick... Read

“Our kids all seem to be little Rembrandts. They love to color, draw, paste and paint – and sometimes stick pencils into play dough.  But at times storing these items can be less than ideal. Thankfully, we found a practical (and, may we say, beautiful) way to store your art supplies.

What You’ll Need
8 Clean tin cans
Metal sandpaper
Green metal cleaner
Heavy-duty magnets
Hot glue gun
Steel cookie sheet
Label maker or a sheet of paper
Pan head screws (optional)
Drill (optional)

 Steps
1. Sand down the open edges of the cans with the metal sandpaper. Make sure the edges are nice and smooth to avoid any ouchies later.  Bandages also optional. You can find metal sandpaper at your local hardware store.

2. Using a green cleaner, go to town on the cookie sheet to get it clean and make it look nice.

3. Hot glue the magnets to the outside of the tin can.  The magnet should be vertical, going along the vertical length of the can.

4. Using the label maker, create some nice labels to keep things clearly organized. Or, be creative and help the kids make nice labels!

5. Using the magnets, attach the cans to the cookie sheet.

6. If you plan on hanging your masterpiece storage facility, drill a small hole into each corner of the cookie sheet. Lastly, mount it to the wall with 4 pan-head screws.

7. Let the kids pick which can they want each of their art supplies in – it’s more likely that they’ll put things away if they get to decide where they go.

If the cookie sheet you’re using is particularly old, here’s a great way to make it look brand new: Line your sink with aluminum foil and place the cookie sheet inside. Sprinkle 1 cup of baking soda over the cookie sheet (somewhat evenly), then pour boiling water over it. Putting some elbow-grease into it, scrub particularly aged spots, making sure to push the baking soda into it. Finally, pour 8 cups of white vinegar over the mixture and let sit for 10 minutes. Give it one last scrub with the bubbly mixture, and then rinse.

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Celebrity

Actress Jessica Alba Starts Green Parenting Company

“Working mom Jessica Alba is adding entrepreneur to her many titles, shifting from movie star to businesswoman with a venture... Read

“Working mom Jessica Alba is adding entrepreneur to her many titles, shifting from movie star to businesswoman with a venture that provides parents easy access to eco-friendly natural products for babies and homes.

Alba, who wed husband Cash Warren in 2008, has taken motherhood to heart, and mind, focusing on being a hands-on parent to her two daughters, 4-year-old Honor and newborn Haven.

“”Motherhood has affected me greatly and in so many ways,”” the Fantastic Four actress told Reuters.

“”I didn’t know that I would feel so comfortable and so at ease and so natural. When I became a mother, I felt the most comfortable in my own skin than I had ever felt in my life.””

While preparing for motherhood four years ago, the 30-year-old actress found that her biggest challenge was trying to find eco-friendly natural products for her baby and her home.

“”There are a lot of toxic chemicals in baby products, and these toxic chemicals are linked to not just allergies and asthma, but also autism and ADHD and lots of childhood cancers, and I was horrified that products that were made for babies and children would have these toxic chemicals,”” said the actress.

Alba founded The Honest Company along with Christopher Gavigan, former CEO of non-profit group Healthy Child Healthy World, after discovering that toxic chemicals were often disguised as “”fragrances”” on product labels and finding that not all eco-friendly and natural products worked efficiently.

Together, they came up with an online business model to launch an eco-friendly range of baby and household products, tried and tested by themselves and their own babies. They are toxin-free, aesthetically pleasing and can be delivered straight to your door.

“”I really wanted to make a company that was for parents, by parents,”” said Alba, adding that Honest Co. was “”one company parents could go to that had household products and products to clean your kid with, and also fulfill diapering needs.””

The actress took her fight against toxic products to Washington D.C. in May 2011 while pregnant with her second child to lobby on behalf of the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition that supported the Safe Chemicals Act.

“”Even government officials aren’t aware that chemical companies don’t have to test their chemicals before they sell them to product companies. They can just put them in there, and we are the guinea pigs,”” said the actress.

While Alba’s energies are focused on her children and new business, her fans will be glad to know she has no plans to retire from acting. She voices a role in animated film Escape from Planet Earth due out next year.

“”I’m excited to get back into movies and I feel more adult and more grown up and ready to get back into it. And my mentality is different,”” she said.”

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Doing A Bit Better

5 Tips to make your Fall a little bit better

The heat is still upon us, but not for long! As fall is right around the corner, the days will... Read

The heat is still upon us, but not for long! As fall is right around the corner, the days will start to get shorter and the sidewalks will become littered with leaves. Here are some tips for your home and your family that will help you do a little bit better during the changing of the seasons:

  1. Check the furnace
    • One of the easiest ways to make sure your home is efficient is to test and make sure your furnace/fireplace is clean. Not only does this make winter stress free because you know that your furnace or chimney will work throughout winter, it’s also a money saver.
    • Cleaning around the furnace will allow it to run smoothly thus giving you more heat with less energy during the winter.
  2. Insulate the house
    • Check the windows around your house for proper caulking, make sure your windows are sealed tight and no breeze is coming through. Plastic film can sometimes work as an alternative.
    • Make sure doors are weather stripped and replace strips if necessary. If there’s a draft coming through replace the threshold of the door or use towels, blankets, or old sweaters (we will discuss these items further below) to place under the doors.
    • Hang a thick curtain or blanket in front of your doors to block cold air from entering the house.
  3. Create/purify air flow
    • If you have a ceiling fan, adjust the settings so that the fan is going in reverse. If you’re standing underneath the fan and can feel the breeze from it then make sure to turn it the opposite way. This maneuver allows for air to be pushed up against the ceiling and down the walls, allowing the air flow to re-circulate the warm air without causing a chilling effect.
    • Clean vents to ensure debris and dust aren’t getting into the air flow of your house. You’re going to essentially button up your house during the winter and you don’t want to have to open windows because your house is too stuffy.
    • Move objects away from vents, baseboard heaters, registers on the floor, or radiators so that air moves freely around your house. Also, as said above, make sure to clean around these areas.
  4. For the kids (Going back to school)
    • Buy clothes and materials from second hand stores/thrift shops. There’s chic thrift stores for all ages now!
    • Bring your own reusable bags to go shopping.
    • Avoid single use packaging food when preparing lunches. Also, try and reuse Ziploc bags for however long you can.
    • Make sure to not buy school materials in bulk.
    • Have a “Swap” party: invite families to exchange clothing and usable school supplies.
    • If you drive your kids to the bus stop, bundle them up and walk them to the bus stop as an alternative.
  5. Everyday Stuff
    • Clean the gutters and make sure that your downspouts are pointed away from your house will provide piece of mind when the weather is unfavorable. And while you’re up there, why not check out the roof’s condition to make sure it’ll last through the upcoming seasons?
    • Open blinds in the morning/during the day to attract heat and then close them at night to retain the heat. Honeycomb blinds are especially efficient.
    • Go through the family’s wardrobe and re-purpose items. For example, use old t-shirts as new kitchen rags for cleaning, or old sweaters and towels as a way to ventilate your house.
    • Organize the kitchen, the refrigerator should be checked to ensure it is sealed tight as to not let cold air into the house. And food that is old or not needed should be composted or thrown out. Room in the refrigerator is needed for ample air flow.
    • Get rid of cleaning products that contain harmful chemicals, especially triclosan. DIY cleaning products using baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice are highly accepted. If not able to make cleaning products yourself, Method and Seven Generations cleaning products are great alternatives to conventional cleaning products.
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Family

A Better Playtime for Princesses

“Whether it’s tea-parties or dress-up, there are plenty of ways to make your daughter’s playtime a bit better without sacrificing... Read

“Whether it’s tea-parties or dress-up, there are plenty of ways to make your daughter’s playtime a bit better without sacrificing all of the things she loves!  Even if she’s a material girl, she’ll still love these tricks for making playtime greener, and you’ll feel better about it too.

Play Jewelry
The problem: Because toys aren’t regulated the way that food containers are, the plastics often contain BPAs, vinyls and other dangerous compounds.

The solution: Thrift stores often have a wide arrange of actual jewelry that, while it has seen better days, is made from higher quality materials (and rarely plastic). They usually have a good selection of clip-on earrings, and necklaces and bracelets can be easily adjusted with a pair of pliers to make them fit her tiny body. Best of all, she’ll feel even more glamorous with all of that new gorgeous jewelry.

Play Makeup
The problem: A lot of play makeups out there are basically the same thing as the lower-end brands you can find at the drugstore – both of which are made of the same toxic chemicals (see our previous article about cosmetics).  What’s worse is that her younger, more sensitive skin absorbs those chemicals faster than ours does.

The solution: There are a few companies out there that make natural play makeup which is much safer for your little lady, and they’re not overly expensive, either. Take, for example, this complete set from OrganicBeautyNow.com which is made of beeswax, coconut oil, and tapioca starch.   Or you could always tell her she’s beautiful just the way she is!

Build Her Fairy Kingdom
If you’ve got a fairy princess running around more than once a week, and an acre or so of back yard, then maybe it’s time the princess gets her castle!  With a few creative alterations to a few large cardboard boxes and a black marker, a makeshift castle will be just the place for her to set up camp. Surround the castle by flowers and, if you’re feeling bold, plant a few trees in the circle to simulate a real “enchanted forest”. She’ll have her own place to rule, and you’ll have the beginnings of a beautiful garden.”

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Solar

Luminalt’s Response to “10 Questions to Ask Your Solar Installer”

“ Last month, we posted our top 10 questions you should ask your Solar Installer when you start the hunt... Read


Last month, we posted our top 10 questions you should ask your Solar Installer when you start the hunt for quality solar installation in your area.  Luminalt Solar Energy Solutions, a San Francisco based Solar Installer, took the liberty of answering all of our questions with the utmost detail!  Here are their responses:

Q:  How long has your company been installing solar electric systems?
A:  Luminalt was founded in 2004, but co-founder Noel Cotter did his first installation in 1980.

Q:  How many of your employees have solar panels on their homes?
A:  How many of your employees have solar panels on their homes? As a local company, most of us live in San Francisco and rent, meaning that solar won’t work for us (or rather, our landlords). Most of us who do own have a solar system – installed by Luminalt, of course!

Q:  How many NABCEP certified employees work for your company?
A:  A whole bunch of them! More than one-third of our company holds some kind of NABCEP Certification. Our CTO Noel Cotter, widely respected as one of the most knowledgeable solar installers around, serves on NABCEP’s licensing board, helping to devise some of the difficult tests administered each year. The pass rate is typically less than 50%, so only the best of the best receive certification.

Q:  Will everyone working on my system be an employee of your company?
A:  Yes! Beware of companies that will sub-contract to the lowest bidder. At Luminalt, we take care of our customers in-house to ensure that they have the best possible experience.

Q:  Can I see a list of ten clients that you have installed solar electric systems for?
A:  Check out the projects section of our website for a few case studies, or look at the San Francisco Department of the Environment’s Solar Map.

Q:  How do you determine your system output data?
A:  We’re in this with you for the long haul. Call us at anytime with questions about your new PG&E bills, your ideal rate schedule, or just to say hi.

Q:  How long is your warranty on all of my components and your work?
A:  All of our work is warranted for ten years. By using the highest quality materials available, we build systems to last for at least 30 years. The warranty on equipment varies by manufacturer, but is typically 25 years.

Q:  Does your panel manufacturer perform quality control audits on your installations?
A:  Only if you want them to! If you don’t want to be bothered, we’ll let them know.

Q:  What is the efficiency of the panels that you are proposing to install?
A:  Depends on how much space you have on your roof. Luminalt typically uses SunPower panels, the highest efficiency panels on the market. Luminalt is a SunPower Elite Dealer, making us one of only a few companies nationally that meet this designation’s customer satisfaction and quality standards.

Q:  How does your company implement its values?
A:  Luminalt believes in the transformative power of solar and the green economy on communities. As such, we have a Community Solar Grant Program and participate in Workforce Development training for those with barriers to entry into the job market.

 

Your search for Solar should lead you to an Installer like Luminalt! For more information on finding the right Solar Installer in your area, check out our Solar page.”

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Housewares

One Man’s Concussion is Another Man’s Treasure!

“Here at DAbB, we are always thinking about ways to recycle objects we no longer use (or our kids have... Read

“Here at DAbB, we are always thinking about ways to recycle objects we no longer use (or our kids have grown out of) and use them in new ways. Well, if your home is like ours, you have more than one old skateboard that is no longer being used.  There are so many great ways to turn old and unused skateboards into something fun and new – and one of our favorites is the wall mounted skateboard clock.  It’s perfect for any skateboard loving child (or let’s face it, some adults) at home.

Directions

You will need:

A drill
An old skateboard
A clock kit (see below)
Picture hooks
Picture wire
Paint (optional)
Epoxy

  1. Make sure the skateboard you are about to drill a hole in does not have some sort of deep emotional connection to the user that you are unaware of.  No one wants to spend the next week trying to overcome any deep “trauma” your child may sustain from the loss of their childhood relic.
  2. Mark where you want the clockwork shaft to be.
    1. Your decision on where you want the hole to be will be dependent on the look you’re going for, as well as, the length of the clock’s arms.
    2. Next, decide if you want to paint the board, or leave it as is.
      1. If you are going to paint underneath, mark the wheel hardware with tape to protect it from the paint.
      2. Clean the board.  Yes it is true.  You may want to shine up the board using your favorite beeswax.  Any organic beeswax will work.
      3. Now follow the clockwork manufacturer’s directions to attach movement to top of skateboard and hands to underside of skateboard.
        1. We like the clock kits available at Clockkit.com or Klockit.com (yes, both are close)
        2. At either of these sites you will find different style of arms, numbers and even templates to make sure you place the numbers in the right location.  Very easy.
        3. If the installation doesn’t fit correctly, you can use epoxy in the hole to hold the kit in place
        4. Attach sturdy picture hooks to top of skateboard at the upper corners. Stretch and tie wire between hooks. Mount on wall.

Done!”

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Food

Monday Tip of the Week – Being a Greener Professional

“Sometimes we get so caught up in our day-to-day, that we forget about our better-living-goals when we’re on the go. ... Read

“Sometimes we get so caught up in our day-to-day, that we forget about our better-living-goals when we’re on the go.  Here are some reminders and possibly new ideas that can get you going!

Morning Coffee
If you’re not the type to make your own coffee in the morning (which could potentially save you over $300 a year), then you’re probably stopping into the local coffee shop before you hit the office.  Here are some ways to Do A bit Better at your java-stop:

-Bring your own cup.  You’ll get a discount on your coffee, and you’ll stop seeing those white paper cups pile up in your recycling bin

-Skip the sleeve – If you insist upon the paper cup, consider not using the sleeve or reusing the sleeve.  There’re also a variety of reusable silicone sleeves for sale across the net.

-Pour it, don’t packet! Sugar packets and stir sticks add up. Pour your sugar from the provided dispenser instead of tearing open a few packets, and let nature do the stirring for you. If you keep your sugar and milk at the office, it will stay hotter longer.

Lunch time!
If you work downtown, you’ll notice how many people scuffle around in a hurry to get their lunch and go. You’ll also notice everyone carrying a paper bag, with a sandwich also wrapped in paper inside – followed by a paper soda cup. That’s a LOT of waste. Consider this, instead:

-Bring a reusable bag – they’re not just for grocery shopping anymore!

-Skip the soda – on top of it being incredibly bad for you anyway, those soda cups pile up in the landfill. We have a water carbonator in our office to substitute for soda, and the carbonated water helps trick our bodies into thinking we’re drinking something more sugary! Win-win.

Meetings
You’ll impress your clients and business partners if you look a little greener!

-Don’t provide bottled water – leave some empty glasses and a pitcher of water on the table for all to enjoy.

-Put your presentation on a thumb drive – all of those paper versions you pass out will likely just get tossed out anyway.  If you HAVE to print it, print on both sides to use half as much paper!

Now you’re on your way to being the model professional for a better world!”

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Health & Beauty

Caring about Personal Care

“Let’s face it – when the latest mascara or lipstick commercial comes on, we generally think “that product will/won’t work... Read

“Let’s face it – when the latest mascara or lipstick commercial comes on, we generally think “that product will/won’t work on me”. We’re probably not thinking “I wonder if there’s any lead in that”. Sadly, though, there probably is. And sadly, millions of us will apply that lead to our lips every day.

The FDA currently regulates things such as Drugs, Food, Water, and even some electronics. Cosmetics, unfortunately, are out of the FDA’s jurisdiction, and therefore, regulated by someone else: The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Committee. While there is one representative on the committee from the FDA, the FDA has little-to-no say as a result.

So how do we find some miracle compounds that will beautify us 100% naturally and organically? Chances are even the “safe” products will contain at least one chemical considered harmful to the human body, and generally in micro-doses.   Here are a few of the baddies we recommend steering clear of if possible:

Parabens – These are preservatives found in almost all Americans surveyed by the Center for Disease Control. It has been linked to breast cancer, developmental disorders, and reproductive disorders. Keep an eye out for propyl, isopropyl, butyl, and isobutyl.  They’re often found in shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, and scariest of all, personal lubricants.  Yikes.

Phthalates – Yup, just like your water bottles. Many nail polishes and detergents include these cancer-causing chemicals, and most things that simply list “fragrance” as an ingredient include them as well.

Tricolosan – This is a popular microbial pesticide, which is harmful to the thyroid function as well as reproductive hormones. Often found in hand soaps and cleaning products.

Oxybenzone – This little guy disrupts hormones and has been attributed to low birth-weight in newborns.

Formaldehyde – Sounds like a no-brainer, right? If you use hair-straightening products, there’s a good chance you’re spraying this on your head. Oh, and in case you didn’t know, it’s a carcinogen.

Hey, we’re not saying you should throw your makeup bag out. It would be virtually impossible to avoid everything, every day. Start by looking out for the list above. If you can’t seem to find a better alternative in your local stores, try looking online.  There are several beauty retailers whose sole focus is to provide the best products that are the best for you and your family.”

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Doing A Bit Better

Setting the Bar – Eco-Friendly Beauty Spas

Here at DabB we love to uncover environmentally-friendly, green places of business and you’ll be happy to know that you... Read

Here at DabB we love to uncover environmentally-friendly, green places of business and you’ll be happy to know that you can even be papered in an organic and natural way!  In Morristown, New Jersey lives such a place called “Salon Botanique Eco-Chic.”   This salon is New Jersey’s premier Natural and Organic Salon and Spa.  “Botanique” is the French word for “botanical,” and inspires them to use the finest natural and organic products from all over the world.

Not only are the products used here 100% organic, but the entire building has been redesigned with a customized water purification system using low VOC paints and flooring made of bamboo with most of the furniture from reclaimed and recycled wood. Additionally, all the spa robes and sheets are 100% organic cotton.

Check them out. Getting pampered never felt so right and good for the environment!

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Doing A Bit Better

UpCycling 101 – What Is It?

“A term that’s popping up more and more in the green world is “upcycling”. But what is it, and who... Read

“A term that’s popping up more and more in the green world is “upcycling”. But what is it, and who does it benefit?  More importantly, who’s leading this movement and what are they doing?

Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials into something that’s usable and “new”. It’s like recycling but not in the sense of turning glass bottles back into glass bottles.  It’s more like turning old soda cans into jewelry, or old barn wood into a coffee table.  While people have been upcycling for years, the movement has lately grown – it’s no longer just for the hardcore DIY’ers – in fact, anyone can do it.

Instead of ending up in a landfill or being processed through a recycling center (which does waste energy and water), our waste products gain new life through upcycling at home. These projects make great gifts, and are sold through various outlets such as Etsy.

Alchemy Goods is another leader in the space of upcycling, and produces messenger bags, wallets and totes using old tarps, banners, seatbelts and tire tubing.

Another company, Terracycle, has made its sole purpose to upcycle all of those things that can’t necessarily be recycled or are difficult to recycle (such as Capri Sun packages). Their products are made from crowd-sourced materials and donors are credited for future purchases.

These aren’t the only games in town, and you should certainly explore some home-friendly upcycling crafts on your own or with your family! It’s one more way that you can do a bit better!

 

 “

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Environment

Clean Thinking in Denmark

“ Denmark, the land of Danish pastries, Carlsberg Beer, and Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, is about to add an awesome... Read

Denmark, the land of Danish pastries, Carlsberg Beer, and Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, is about to add an awesome achievement to its list: being 100% free of fossil fuels by 2050. What’s even more impressive is that Denmark’s 100% renewable energy commitment covers its entire energy supply – including electricity, heating, industry and transport.

So how are the Danes going to achieve such a hefty goal? First, Denmark will make the process a progressive evolution over the next 38 years. As a stepping stone to this ambitious undertaking, Denmark will strive to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Much of the renewable energy will be tapped from wind turbines. They are aiming to add an additional 3300 MW of wind powered energy by 2020. While this may seem like a lofty project for most countries, Denmark is home to the world’s largest wind turbine industry like Vestas and Siemens Wind Power.

The remaining renewable energy supply will be secured from smart grid, biogas, geothermal, wave and other sustainable technologies. These sources, combined with a number of government incentives, investments and building regulations will pave the way for a very green future for Denmark.”

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UpCycle

GreenYour Pet (Part 2)

Green Your Pet We all know that humans need to reduce our carbon footprint, but what about your pets’ pawprint?... Read

Green Your Pet

We all know that humans need to reduce our carbon footprint, but what about your pets’ pawprint?  A green pet isn’t just for hippies anymore, but a way to help the earth and keep your pet healthy too!  Here are a few things you can do:

Buy Eco-Friendly toys.  There are plenty out there made from recycled and sustainable fibers.  Check out DAbB’s Things We Love: Pets section for our favorite picks!

Protect the Birds!  Keep your cat indoors.  They are natural hunters and a big threat to outdoor life.  Most vets recommend keeping them indoors due to fatal risks such as cars and disease.

Feed Them Natural and Organic Pet Foods.  Animals can also be affected by the chemicals in food.  Feeding them food that is sustainable and organic  leaves you with a happier, healthier animal.

Put Poop in its Place.  Use biodegradable bags for dogs that decompose and steer clear of clumping clay litters for cats.  The clay is strip-mined and is harmful to the environment.

Recycle a Pet and Adopt!  Save an animal and hundreds of dollars by shopping at a local animal shelter.  There are over 70,000 puppies and kittens a year that are abandoned and need a home.

Now go out and reduce that pawprint!

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Solar

Peel-and-Stick Solar Cells – So Fun!

The Scientific Journal Reports that Stanford University scientists have developed a thin “peel-and-stick” solar cell that can be attached to... Read

The Scientific Journal Reports that Stanford University scientists have developed a thin “peel-and-stick” solar cell that can be attached to almost any surface.

The fabrication process included a wafer of silicon, silicon dioxide, sandwiched metal and a film of nickel on which the thin-film solar cells are placed, and then attaching a layer of thermal release tape.  After being dipped in water, the target surface was coated with adhesives and the thin-film solar cells were attached to the sticky surface and the thermal release tape was removed.

These thin solar cells can be placed on a wide range of surfaces, and could someday be used commercially to generate solar power.

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Doing A Bit Better

Groupon Gives Back

We love finding good deals as much as the next person.  So when we found out that Groupon launched a... Read

We love finding good deals as much as the next person.  So when we found out that Groupon launched a group action fundraising program called Groupon Grassroots, you can only imagine our excitement.

 

According to Groupon, the new program (which just launched in April, 2012) is “a new way to discover local causes, rally together, and lend a helping hand”.

We did some digging and found out that Groupon Grassroots isn’t just a good idea on paper – it’s actually working.  On this year’s Earth Day, the donations through Grassroots resulted in some pretty impressive numbers!  Here are some of the highlights:

-$126,000 in cause-related donations were made
-4,400 trees planted across US and Haiti
-443 bike light sets and helmets sent to locals in Austin & Portland
-1,400 attendees to environmentally focused programs
-40 volunteers traveling to Zambia
-18 vacant lots in Cincinnati were filled with over 25 raised garden beds
-5 cities were treated to improve water quality through trash removal and training volunteers  to test water

And that was all in 1 day!

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Environment

Army Green

“The US military is green…and we aren’t talking about the color of the camouflage. According to Reuters, US Military bases... Read

“The US military is green…and we aren’t talking about the color of the camouflage.

According to Reuters, US Military bases are looking into the gradual implementation of large-scale alternative energy installations across the US.  The “mix” of energy will come primarily from Solar, wind, and geothermal sources.  With more than 1,000 military bases in the United States alone, the Department of Defense’s energy usage amounts to over 30,000 Giga-watt hours (GWH) per year – that’s a lot.

But that’s not all – the US Army also recently opened their greenest lab complex ever focused on developing more fuel efficient vehicles.  The Ground Systems Power and Energy Lab (or GSPEL) will employ about 150 army scientists, researchers, and engineers to focus on hybrid vehicle development.

While the purpose of this endeavor is not intended to make the military more “green”, but rather to reduce the military’s dependence on the grid at critical moments, we’re all for the unintentional benefit of renewable energy and reduced carbon footprint!  Hoo-Rah!”

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Solar

Not Your Parents’ Solar Panels!

“With the recent explosion of the solar market, many people are turning to solar power as a way to live... Read

“With the recent explosion of the solar market, many people are turning to solar power as a way to live a more sustainable life by harnessing the natural power of the sun, and save a few bucks in the process.  But some are still hesitant to join the solar movement because they fear the benefits of solar will not live up to the aesthetic drawbacks of having a large system mounted on their roof.  But to those naysayers we say, never fear – Solar panels have come a long way!  Long gone are the days of ugly, chunky panels that look like an awkward toupee on your home’s head.  What’s more, the option to lease solar hardware allows consumers to focus their investment on the service, rather than the hardware.  There are a few on the market that we think help homes look a bit better…

Solar Shingles – These sleek solar panels are seamlessly installed into most standard roofs.  Depending on budget, usage, and roof design, they can be installed over entire roof sections, or blended throughout standard asphalt shingles for a virtually invisible look.

Solar Tiles – For those with Spanish style architecture utilizing terra cotta tiles, the Solar industry has you covered.  As with Solar Shingles, these tiles can be interspersed throughout standard tiles, or used exclusively to achieve a Greek Mediterranean look.

Solar Film – Ideal for sheet-metal roofs, solar film can be unrolled and installed between roofing ridges.  At only a fraction of an inch thin, these panels provide a great camouflaged solar solution.

Concentrated Photovoltaic Solar Cells – For those that opt for ground mounted systems, concentrated photovoltaic solar cells provide a very strong solution.  These systems use mirrors and/or lenses to concentrate a large area of sunlight, onto a small area.  The result is one of the most efficient panel options available.

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Family

Throw an Eco-friendly Party

“With warm, sunny summer weather quickly approaching, we here at DAbB are really looking forward to some great summer parties.... Read

“With warm, sunny summer weather quickly approaching, we here at DAbB are really looking forward to some great summer parties. Friends, music, drinks, & BBQ – what could be better?  But all the fun and festivities of a classic summer party can produce a lot of waste (and who wants that?).  So here are 5 tips to reduce the waste without reducing the fun:

–              Plastic drink cups can result in a huge amount of garbage, especially in larger groups where guests are apt to set a cup down and forget about it.  To solve this dilemma, rent glassware from a local party supply rental company.  This will eliminate all waste created by plastic cups and give your party a truly classy touch!  If you don’t have a party rental store in the area, use compostable, corn-based plastic cups.

–              When it comes to the food, stay local!  Some of the best produce, meat, and dairy products can be found at your local farmers market.  They’re fresher, tastier, and often cheaper!

–              When it comes to the brew, pop for a keg or pony-keg if the group is large enough.  It’s less likely that you’ll run out mid-party and you won’t have to worry about all those bottles & cans to be recycled.

–              If you are serving wine, aim for organic.  Some of our favorite organic vinos are Grgich Hills, Frog’s Leap, Frey Vineyards, and Benziger.

–              Be creative when it comes to decorations!  Smooth river rocks or large leaves from your yard are a great alternative to traditional place cards.  Large jars or hurricane vases can be filled with household items to make for fun custom centerpieces.

–              When it comes to invites, Evites are definitely the greenest method, but may lack the personal touch you seek for your party.  One solution is to scan in and email out a handmade invitation.  This allows you to add a personal touch that your guests are sure to remember.  Alternatively, you can also send out traditional invitations made of recycled paper & materials.  The result is both memorable and eco-friendly!

Party on!”

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