Green Tips & Products

Over the years we have found many ways to live more economically, and ecologically. Here we will share with you what we have learned, and share some of the products we use that make it easier to live more sustainably.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The lighter side of green

Ed Begley Jr, the star of countless quirky movies and the classic TV hit “St. Elsewhere,” stars in “Living with Ed,” which premieres New Year’s Day on HGTV, a show about how his wife, an aspiring Hollywood star, tries to handle his ultra-green lifestyle. The guy’s such a true believer, he’ll ride on a bike just to power his toaster.

The premiere is Jan 1, 1pm (EST and PST) – perfect for starting the new year off with a laugh. Then you can catch it Sunday nights at 10.

You will enjoy Ed’s 10 Tips for Going Green along with other ideas for green living at

TV and movie actor Ed Begley, perhaps the greenest man in Tinsel Town, rides his electric car to the Academy Awards and powers his home with the sun and his stationary bike. But Living with Ed and his environmentalist passion isn't always a walk in the park for wife, Rachelle. This first-of-its-kind reality green show chronicles life with an earth-friendly fanatic with humor and heart. Check out this fresh unscripted docu-soap about the lifestyle of a diehard activist who puts his money and his time where his mouth is 24/7. Definitely not recycled TV.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Comparing Battery Chargers

I have been using a Radio Shack Fast Charger to charge my NiMH AA batteries. Today I received a Energizer Fast Charger (CH15MN), reporting a 15 minute charge time. The Radio Shack unit takes 4 hours and gets the charger and the batteries very hot. The Energizer unit runs cool, has an integral fan, and showed the batteries charged within the 15 minute time frame. It also has a 11-16 vdc (5a) input on the side, so I can charge it in the car, with solar, or from my house batteries, without using ac. My digital camera confirms the battery status. With the 1GB SD card, I'm ready to take 1096 pictures tomorrow with the HP PhotoSmart 320 ;-)

The charger and four 2500 mah AA batteries (also charges AAA) was $19.95 at our local P&C grocery store.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Green Gadgets for the Holidays

Green Gadgets for the Holidays
December 2006
Read this issue of Greentips online

Electronic gadgets are popular holiday gifts, but as their popularity and versatility continue to grow, so does their impact on the environment.

Devices that plug into wall outlets are responsible for a small but growing portion of a household's total energy consumption (about five to seven percent). This energy is generated primarily by fossil fuel-fired power plants, which are America's single greatest source of heat-trapping carbon dioxide and the air pollutants mercury and sulfur dioxide.

Battery-powered devices pose problems as well. More than three billion alkaline batteries are thrown away in the United States each year instead of being recycled; the toxic metals they contain (such as lead, mercury, and cadmium) can leak into groundwater supplies and harm local residents or wildlife.With a few simple strategies, you can give your gadget-loving friends and family members a gift with a smaller environmental footprint:

Look for the Energy Star label. These electronics use significantly less energy than conventional models. Energy Star-rated power adapters and battery chargers are also available.

(Re)charge it. Look for models that come with a rechargeable battery. If the gadget on your shopping list comes only with conventional alkaline batteries, replace them with rechargeable batteries and include a battery charger with the gift. (Note: both conventional and rechargeable batteries contain toxic metals and should not be thrown away. See the related links for battery recycling locations.)

Go solar. Consumers can now power electronic devices such as cell phones, music players, and even laptops with solar-powered battery chargers. Some are small and easily portable (including backpacks covered with flexible solar panels), making them suitable for travel.

Shake it up. A variety of gadgets (including radios, cell phone chargers, and flashlights) can be powered mechanically, either by turning a crank or shaking them. For example, winding a cell phone for two minutes can provide six minutes of talk time (or several hours of standby power), while a 30-second shake can power a flashlight for 5 to 10 minutes. These products are perfect for hikers or campers who might want to bring a bit of civilization with them into the wilderness.
If you plan to give someone a new gadget to replace an older model, consider recycling the old gadget as part of the gift. Many companies (see the related links) refurbish older electronic devices, salvage the usable parts, or recycle the toxic components.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

More Lighting Alternatives

You have probably seen them on TV, or even in the stores. The flashlight that doesn't require batteries, just an occasional shake to recharge. Very frugal (no buying batteries), very enviro-friendly (no waste products), and you get a bit of exercise in the end. Usually under $25, these make gifts, and are handy to keep in the kitchen, basement, garage or car. You can always depend on light when and where you need it. We found ours on Amazon.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

What is Harmful in Your Home?

You can not assume the conventional household products you buy at the local department store is a healthy and environmentally responsible product because of its availability. Product label information addresses acute (immediate) effects only and no warnings or discussion of long term health impacts of the products, such as cancer, is required. These common household products are also not required to disclose "inert" ingredients which can very hazardous and toxic.

When considering the purchase of household products, select products that have less toxic, renewable and natural ingredients and are packaged responsibly. The purchase of these products supports companies that help minimize the impact of using these products on your health and the environment.

Household products include cleaners, fresheners, laundry products, drain cleaners, dishwashing detergents, carpet shampoos, polishes and pesticides. Exposure to toxic household hazardous chemicals from ingestion, inhalation or skin contact can produce acute (immediate) or chronic (long term) health effects such as:

- Headaches

- Fatigue

- Allergic Reactions

- Chemical Sensitivity

- Cardiac Damage

- Nervous System Damage

- Burning Eyes

- Skin Rashes

- Runny Nose

- Cancer

- Respiratory Tract Irritant

- Liver and Kidney Damage


Thanks again for your continued support in helping the environment "one solution at a time".

Environmentally Sensitive Solutions (ESS) Inc.
is one of today’s leading manufactures of neutral cleaning solutions and environmental products. ESS has revolutionized the industry with the power of nature. ESS manufactures and distributes environmentally safe replacement cleaners for parts washers, floor cleaners, and other industrial applications. ESS products are, in some cases, direct replacements for alkaline and solvent cleaning products.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Rhoades Car

This item is pricey, and we don't have one ourselves, but we did get to try one once, and were quite impressed. In some cases, a Rhoades car could replace a engine driven automobile, is healthy for you, and with solar charged electric assist, can be downright practical. From their website:

Q. Who is Rhoades Car?
A. We are a division of a 27 year old company by the name of Rhoades National Corporation. Our only goal is to manufacture quality U.S. made 4 wheel bikes diverse enough to suit the needs of our customer. We build our bikes like we would like to have them ourselves. Little things like 3/4" axles, disc brakes, sealed bearings, and powder coat paint, do not come cheap, but it makes us proud of our product and we're sure you will be too.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Carbon Trading

An aquaintence of ours told us about this site: - It pays to save the world

Welcome to the world's first online community for households and businesses to get paid for reducing the carbon emissions from their everyday energy usage.

Global warming is caused by the build up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These gases are created by human activity – primarily the burning of fossil fuels to provide our electricity (generated from coal and gas), cars, flights and to create the food, clothes and other things we buy and consume everyday. This climate change crisis is costing billions of dollars right now and we're on a path to an uninhabitable planet.

Celsias is the first company in the world to enable everyone to benefit financially from taking action to solve this crisis and our patent pending service is your opportunity to get rewarded for playing your part – registration is free.

Film vs. Digital, What's good for the Environment?

We have been using digital cameras for a few years now, and it's our observation that we are saving money in not having to buy film and having it processed, but we are also reducing the chemical load on the environment, as film processing requires chemical that are supposed to be properly disposed of, but often are not. Our cameras (a HP Photosmart 320 and a Pentax Optio M20) both use our NiMH rechargeable AA batteries, so we do not have to purchase and dispose of tons of batteries either. Available from Amazon.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Solar Battery Charger

Every house has a myriad of small electronics devices that take batteries. From remotes, to digital cameras, wireless mice and keyboards, to handheld video games. Our landfills are filling up with toxic waste from used batteries. We have switched to NiMH AA and AAA replacements. They last for years, and charge nicely in the car, from our off-grid energy system (or your wall outlet), or even with their own solar panel. Our friends at Silicon Solar have a compact Sun Powered travel charger that charges AA batteries quite nicely. We think this makes the perfect companion to the LED Headlamp.

LED Headlamp

Ever need a handsfree headlamp to see what you are working on, or where you are going in the dark. We did, so we found a line of handsfree headlamps from Black Diamond. Being LED, they consume minute amounts of power, while being very bright. We use rechargeable NiMH batteries charged with a solar charger, so the electric is clean, and there's no battery disposal issues (they last for many years in this application). Dharam bought us a Zenix IQ as an early Christmas present, based on his happiness with one of their earlier models. The company website has the following specs:

Smart lighting for the backcountry, the Zenix IQ provides non-fading, constant illumination in two modes: a collimated one-watt LED for a long-range beam, or two SuperBright LEDs for close-range ambient light. A single switch toggles between four settings for each mode—min, mid, max and strobe—and remembers the last setting you used. This lamp also supplies constant illumination and comes with a battery power meter and Find Me light.