February 27, 2009
Another post for you, written by Ben from Big Green Smile. This time he talks about painting your roof…
“Drive smaller cars, install efficient light bulbs, insulate our lofts, plant trees and don’t fly. Most of us are familiar with the dos and don’ts of climate change but here is something new for your arsenal in the fight. Paint your roof white. A little bit ‘out there’ perhaps but this is the vision of Hashem Akbari, a US scientist based at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.
“The Greeks have been doing this to their beautiful villages for centuries of course but Hashem Akbari believes that painting the grey and let’s face it rather dull buildings of our own towns and cities white will have a tangible benefit in curbing global warming. White/light roofs reflect approximately 50% of the sunlight whereas on black/dark surfaces this is just 10-20%.
“Akbari calculates that a mass movement to paint our roofs white could result in 0.03% additional sunlight being bounced off the earth; enough to cancel out a tremendous 44bn tonnes of CO2, which is the projected increase for the next decade.
“With carbon emissions still rising, painting everything white is not the only answer, by Akbari’s own admission. The idea needs mass contribution for it to be effective but compared to other measures it is relatively simple, does not need protracted long negotiations for it to be effective and is relatively cheap.
“Studies in Los Angeles have shown that replacing two thirds of rooftops and road surfaces with reflective surfaces would cool the city by 2-3C. Although the UK does not have the hot climate of California there are benefits to be had anywhere that has need of air conditioning, and that certainly counts London. Akbari would ultimately like to see his idea included in carbon offsetting schemes and has calculated that every 10 square meters of re-painted reflective surface is preventing the release of a ton of carbon dioxide.
“Time to get the painting clothes on then.”
February 26, 2009
I’m not a big fan of the word insecticide, it conjures images of harsh chemicals sprayed onto the food I eat. However when asked to test Organic Ant & Roach Killer by EcoSMART, it was a good opportunity as I have an ant problem.
It’s listed as being non-toxic which is not quite true, it’s toxic to ants and roaches and certainly does kill them! It’s not toxic to your pets and kids (and you!), though as with anything I wouldn’t spray it in your eyes… It’s certainly less toxic than most commercial insecticides. The organic part refers to the treatment of the plant ingredients that are used, it’s classed as a Minimal-Risk pest control product, as all ingredients are “food-grade” and regarded as “Generally Recognized As Safe” by the USDA.
The ants that are invading my home certainly didn’t like it, I sprayed it around entry points in the hope they get the message that they’re not welcome. As far as I can tell it worked great. Technically it works when the plant oil gets inside of the insect’s exoskeleten and blocks the octopamine neuroreceptor sites, causing the little fellas to die. Well, it is called Organic Ant & Roach Killer.
They also make cool, safe, insect repellent without using harsh chemicals like DEET. While there are other home-made alternatives, such as vinegar or boric acid and sugar, if you’re wanting to buy an off-the-shelf product and aren’t looking to poison your family, then take a look at this.
February 24, 2009
We get a lot of emails each month over at Life Goggles, but I particularly link the ones from individuals (and some PR companies) that recommend certain sites that I can check out when I have time.
Shawn sent email about C02 stats which is a site that can make any website carbon neutral and shows visitors you’re environmentally friendly. You can see it installed at the bottom right of this site.
Green and Save was founded by a guy who built one of America’s most energy independent homes and in the process created the first Return on Investment calculations for over 50 green home remodeling projects. The site has lots of informative videos that use his home as an example to other homeowners. It also has a free carbon counter so individuals could better understand their impact, and an Eco Family Guide to help families live greener and healthier.
Angelina sent email about Ecovian who are creating online green communities around major US cities that share info & reviews on local green resources & green businesses. For example, they have info on organic restaurants, eco-friendly & non-toxic baby stores, natural clothing stores, green bed & bath stores in about 8 major US cities so far.
SunRun, the solar power company, brings together their brightest minds for their new blog Sweet Solar Home. The blog is written by employees from SunRun, whose expertise lie in the fields of Solar Economics, Solar Technology, Solar Policy, Solar Industry News and Solar Home ownership.
Julie sent me an email about Green Hearted that is aimed at teachers, giving a primer on transformative education for sustainability – what you’ll need in order to green your classroom, your curriculum, your students’ learning, your school community, and your life’s work as a teacher.
Finally another shout to David over at The Good Human who is doing sterling work as always on his excellent blog.
February 23, 2009
You might think it’s a bit chilly in the UK to go swimming outdoors, especially in the ‘wild’, but as the introduction to Wild Swimming by Daniel Start says, it’s actually good for you. Swimming in cold water leads to ‘cold adaptation’, which: “brings down blood pressure and cholesterol, reduces fat disposition” and has a lot of other benefits.
So now you know it’s good for you then this book aims to help you find the best places in the UK to go for an outdoors swim. Sent to me by Natural Collection, its subtitle is “150 hidden dips in the rivers, lakes and waterfalls of Britain” and that’s exactly what the book does. Split up into sections of the UK, the author describes a personal trip to many of the places in a particular area and then picks out a few more swims nearby. If there’s one criticism it’s that some of the areas are quite large, central and east covers everywhere from Suffolk to Yorkshire and Merseyside. But that’s really because some places are better than others and have more hidden gems so the author can’t really be blamed for that.
The descriptions of each place benefit greatly from the author’s personal experience of visiting them, including a bit of history about the area and hints and tips about where exactly to go or park and who to speak to around the area.
What’s also impressive is the number of beautiful photographs. Some of the pictures are truly stunning and others are enhanced by having people enjoying the lakes or rivers, giving you a real sense of what to expect.
It’s essentially a reference book but done in a way suitable for the coffee table. You could easily spend an hour just casually flicking through it. Using it as intended to find a place to swim is also easy. Ordnance Survey references of two letters and six numbers are given for each location and also a postcode. Both can be used online to plan your trip and with the postcode the book also gives extra detail, like 400m north of the postcode, to help you get the right place.
I was pleasantly surprised reading this book as it wasn’t really a subject that interested me but it is now and I want to get out there and explore. The author’s done his job well.
Wild Swimming is available from Natural Collection for £13.95.
February 20, 2009
I received a quick email from a company keen to show off how simple changes (not necessarily easy changes) can green a business.
Mountain Rose Herbs is setting a great example when it comes to sustainable business practices:
- They adhere as much as possible to producing “Zero Waste”– which means that materials which might be regarded as waste are recycled, re-used, composted, reclaimed, or brought back into the production cycle.
- Their staff of 60 people produces only about 80 gallons of waste each month–the equivalent of an average four person household.
- For their catalog, they use 100-percent post-consumer recycled paper and all their delivery trucks run on 100 percent locally produced biodiesel.
- They are one of the only US companies to carry Fair Trade Certified™ herbs–a certification that guarantees suitable working conditions and a fair price for labor.
February 19, 2009
Online store Vintage Roots has been kindly sending me some beers, ales and lagers to test and the latest one is produced by Vintage Roots itself.
Vintage Roots Organic German Lager has the signature of master brewer Christoph Hald on the front label of the bottle. This pilsner-type lager is produced in a small brewery in Dunstelkingen, Germany using organic hops and is approved by the Vegetarian Society.
It has quite a fruity and tangy flavour which is very pleasant to taste and while not as refreshing as other lagers, it’s a good tipple.
The presentation, like other Vintage Roots own-labels drinks, is pretty simple but nice enough and as a pilsner it’s quite strong at 5%. A 500ml bottle costs £1.99 and can be ordered from the Vintage Roots website.
February 17, 2009
JJ Beck and Joey Carey’s terrific documentary about alternative fuels, Greasy Rider, is now available to rent and purchase (such as on Amazon.com).
The documentary is a cross-country road trip powered by vegetable oil in a 1981 Mercedes-Benz. Greasy Rider follows the two filmmakers, Joey Carey and JJ Beck, as they meet with fellow Greasecar drivers, friends, and critics. Some of the guests in the film include Morgan Freeman and Yoko Ono. You can watch the trailer/preview below.