Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Carbon Exchange

For some people forests are measured in board-feet of lumber. For others, they are a source of spiritual renewal. But scientists are finding that protecting ancient trees could also be an important new strategy in the fight against global warming.

In the carbon cycle, it's not just the individual tree -- the entire forest plays a role. Leaves take in carbon dioxide, converting it to sugar, which is carbon-based. Some of the sugar is used immediately for energy, converted back to CO2, and released into the atmosphere. The rest is stored in living wood or dead matter, such as fallen leaves and branches. Old-growth forests, in particular, store vast amounts of carbon while continuing to absorb CO2.

The illustration below, by Mieke Roth, is available as a full-size print-quality PDF file here.

Want to do your part? Plant some trees! If you invest in planting new trees, realize that it takes about 20 years for newly forested clear-cuts to start sequestering more carbon than they release. Choose projects that won't cut down the trees as soon as they mature or, even better, that allow trees to see their centennial. Another option: put your money towards saving forests that would otherwise be cut down. Check out World Land Trust, at www.carbonbalanced.org, which is working to conserve forests in Latin America.

(Article info courtesy of: onearth.org)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Travel Gear: Clean Up Your Hands, Your Fruit and the Planet

Want to wash your hands on a plane, train or boat in a greener way? Eat Cleaner Gran 'N Go Fruit + Vegetable wipes make eating or washing on the fly easier and "greener."

These stink-free, Alcohol-free, biodegradable towelettes are made by Grow Green Industries. They remove dirt, film and chemicals from fruits, vegetables and utensils -- and also grime from your hands -- without using lots of water. Made with kosher-certified ingredients, including water, sodium citrate and vegetable glycerin, they don't leave a scent or a film.

More information available at www.eatcleaner.com.

(Article courtesy of LATimes.com)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Green Retrofit Checklist

Looking for a way to green your home? Start with these great ideas!

Switch to Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs
Save up to $100 a year on your energy bills, and lessen your need to purchase light bulbs as often by switching to CFLs. They last longer, and and you can enjoy reductions in your energy bill.

Program Your Thermostat
It may be a bit chilly out right now, but keeping your thermostat at 62 degrees or lower in the winter, or 78 degrees or higher in the summertime allow you to preset the system to reduce output when it's not needed, such as when no one is home.

Plug Air Leaks
Common leaks occur around windows and doors. Plugging leaks with weather stripping helps keep your home at the temperature you desire.

Choose Energy Star Appliances
When it's time to replace your appliances, keep Energy Star appliances in mind. Purchasing an energy efficient appliance can reduce your energy bill by at least $50, which depending on the life of the appliance, it should pay for itself in savings.

Reduce Water Use
Install aerators to your sink faucets, and install low-flow shower heads (both can be purchased at your local hardware store), and make sure to use the least amount of water possible when watering your garden.

Switch to Green Power
Per the GreenHomeGuide.com, Green power is an optional utility service for customers who want to help expand the production and distribution or renewable energy technologies. With green power, you do not have to change your electricity provider. Instead, customers just choose to pay a premium on their electricity bulls to cover the extra cost of purchasing clean, sustainable energy. For more information, please visit the U.S. Department of Energy.

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