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.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Teach a Man to Fish ....

You have heard the old adage, "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he will eat for a lifetime."

Well, World Vision ofter fishing kits, goats, and other bootstrap items to needy folks all over the world, and we can sponsor such a gift through their website at

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Switch

Want a carbonated juice that the kids will think is soda, but has nothing in it but 100% juice and carbonation? At just under a buck for 12 oz., soda is cheaper, but the sugar, caffeine, and color dyes can send the kids off the walls. So switch to the Switch, it tastes good, and it's good for you. My wife's favorite is the Citrus Blend, mine is the Peach and Apricot blend.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Cornstarch Packing Peanuts

A Public Radio Commentary by Bill Hammack:

My wife and I got a package in the mail that fascinated me. I don't even recall its contents, because I was taken with the the green packing peanuts used to protect whatever it was from damage. As I scooped up the pellets to toss them in the trash, my wife said, with a very knowing voice, "Just toss them on the compost pile." What! Plastic in the compost? No. She showed me a slip of paper that explained: There was no "plastic or polluting gases" used to make these peanuts; they were made of cornstarch.

Toss them on your compost pile or spread them on your lawn and with a bit of water they'll dissolve in minutes. These cornstarch packing peanuts are part of a movement called "green engineering."

It's a design philosophy where the environment is explicitly considered from the beginning: A goal is to find processes and products which are feasible and economical while minimizing pollution at the very beginning. These cornstarch packing peanuts are the work of food engineer Bill Stoll.

Read more at and at

Available online at $18 to $25 for 12 cu. ft. at a variety of sources including Uline.

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Rver's Guide to Solar Battery Charging

This excellent reference is written for the folks who believe camping doesn't mean hooking up to water, cable, and electric at a mobile version of a trailer park. Off-grid camping doesn't have to mean spoiled food and no lights, or noisy smelly generators. It's also a good start for folks who want to learn more about living off-grid in general in RV's without wheels (camp or primary home). You will learn about solar panels, batteries, chargers and inverters. You'll learn how to hookup and maintain your system. We highly recommend this resource.

Rver's Guide to Solar Battery Charging

Friday, January 12, 2007

Organic Cleaning Products

Hypoallergenic and biodegradable, these are the cleaning products we use at Green Trust. For everything from washing floors to washing clothes, even washing our bodies, Vermont Soap Organics keeps us clean and smelling nice!

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Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Adjusting Water Pressure to Reduce Energy Waste

From Conergy:

Water well pumping can be the largest load on a remote home power system. There are several ways to minimize its energy consumption. Here is another technique that applies to any pressurizing system, especially if it uses an AC pump.

If you look at the performance curve of any centrifugal-type pump (including all AC submersibles and jet pumps) you will see that as the pressure increases past a certain point, the flow drops drastically. Here is an easy way to detect this situation at the job site. Release some water, just until the pump switches on. Watch the system's pressure gauge and observe its rate of rise (this indicates flow rate). Does it rise to a certain point and then slow way down? If so, then that is the pressure at which the pump "slips" and loses efficiency.

We had a customer in Colorado whose cut-out pressure had been set to the typical 50 PSI (pounds per square inch). As the pressure got past 40, the flow rate slowed way down. There seemed to be more than enough pressure at the faucets, so we reduced the cut-out to 36 PSI. In doing so, we cut the energy use of the pump nearly in HALF. The owner couldn't detect a change in the water delivery but, as it was gardening season, she saw an immediate increase in the amount of energy available from her PV power system!

Why do most Americans want more than 35 PSI at their home? It's because of undersized plumbing! Most houses in the U.S.A. are plumbed to the legal minimum requirements of the plumbing codes (1/2" and 3/4" pipe). At the end of a long pipe run, the dynamic pressure may be diminished by 30%. Where a house has not yet been plumbed, we recommend using one size larger than minimum, for all cold water lines.

Similarly, when using garden hose, 3/4" hose will cause far less pressure drop than 1/2" or 5/8" hose. When these measures are taken, a pressure setting of 25-35 PSI will please anybody. Where a house is already plumbed, observe water delivery at the faucets. If water flow is satisfying without opening faucets all of the way, then a reduction in pressure may be acceptable.

How to reduce water pressure

Pressure adjustments are made at the pressure switch. On a standard switch there are two adjustment nuts, with a spring under each one. Turning counterclockwise will lower the settings. You will see the result by watching the pressure gauge as the pump cycles on and off. First, loosen the nut on the longer screw. This will reduce both cut-in and cut-out pressure. Set it for the CUT-IN that you desire. Second, adjust the nut on the shorter screw. It adjusts the CUT-OUT only. Cut-out pressure should be around 2/3 of the cut-in pressure.

Once the pressure is set and everyone is satisfied, reset the precharge air in the pressure tank. This will maximize its storage and minimize on/off cycling. To reset the precharge, first make note of the cut-in pressure. Now shut off the power to the pump. Release water until the pressure gauge drops to zero. Measure the pressure of the tank's air bladder using a tire pressure gauge at the fitting on top of the tank. Set the air pressure to 2 or 3 PSI less than the cut-in pressure. Restart the pump. Finally, write down the running time per cycle. Write it on the wall, so the performance can be checked later to detect pump wear or other problems.