Thursday, November 29, 2012

Making a Difference Every Time You Eat: Voting With Your Food Dollars



By Ariana Mullins

What if every time you made a food purchase you could make a difference in our country and in our world? Every dollar you spend at a farmer’s market is one less dollar supporting the industrialized food system, and that dollar is a vote. Each time you spend on sustainable food, you vote for it, and help it grow. Likewise, every dollar spent on industrialized foods also encourages its production. You don't have to wait for an election to make your voice heard-- you make an important statement every time you buy food.


9 Ways You Can Vote for a More Sustainable Food System, Stronger Communities, a Better Economy, and a Healthier Planet



1. Choose Real Food--opt out of the synthetic compounds, fillers, food coloring, preservatives and other junk that is pumped into our food supply. Go for actual ingredients-- whole fruits and vegetables, spices, herbs, and proteins. This is a vote against chemicals and junk in our food, and in favor of returning to a traditional food supply. This also helps drastically reduce the amount of packaging that goes into our food system.
Check it out: Here's a great article about Emory University switching to a sustainable food system for their students. If an institution like that can do it, then so can we!


2. Eat the Food You Buy-- up to half of the food raised in America somehow ends up going into landfills. This of course is bad for our environment, bad for personal finance, and frankly pretty embarrassing, considering the hunger problems in the world today. Eat your food. Eat leftovers. Compost your food scraps. Don't over-buy. It makes a difference!
Check it out: Stop the Hunger-- a statistics page that will give you pause, and the UK project Love Food Hate Waste has some great ideas for cutting down on this kind of waste.


3. Pay Attention to Your Proteins-- The livestock industry is credited with nearly 20% of all global greenhouse gas emissions— that's more than the entire transportation sector! Choosing organic, sustainably produced meat from small-scale family farms can greatly help reduce your meat-related emissions impact. Grass-fed beef is actually good for the environment, helping replace precious topsoil. Humanely raised, pastured meats are good for your health, as well-- it's worth the switch.
Check it out: How Grass-fed Beef is Good for the Environment!

4. Buy Local-- Support your local food economy by visiting your locally stocked supermarkets, checking out your nearest farmers market, or even becoming a member of a farm through CSA (community-supported agriculture.) Supporting our nearby networks of small-scale farmers ensures their futures and ours, maintaining climate-friendly food options to choose from!
Check it out: Find out what's in season in the Pacific Northwest right now, and Seasonal Cornucopia is a great tool for finding out what's growing wherever you are.


5. Choose Organic-- Organic farms are not only good for our health and for local wildlife, but they’re also good for global climate. By building and enhancing healthy soil, these farms emit about half as much carbon dioxide as the industrial ones. Organic farms also use much less fossil fuel energy than their conventional counterparts-- frequently one-third less the amount! Organic farms also provide an effective carbon sink, storing carbon from the atmosphere. If we converted just 10,000 medium-sized farms to organic, we could reduce emissions in a way equal to taking one million cars off the road. Whenever possible, opt to support the environmentally-friendly operations of organic farms-- without our support, they cannot continue earth-friendly operations.
Check it out: Here's a guide to The 9 Most Important Foods to Buy Organic.


6. Cook! One of the major reasons why food is becoming increasingly a product of factories and freezer-sections is that people are not cooking their own food like they used to. Fortunately, cooking today is easier than it's ever been, with plenty of cooking shows, great cookbooks, kitchen appliances and great blogs dedicated to making cooking easier. Unlike some of the other prescriptions for a healthier planet, choosing a pro-environment diet can be fun, interesting, and delicious. If you don't know how to cook, learning to do so will be incredibly empowering, and will also save you money while improving your health.
Check it out: Nourished Kitchen and The Healthy Home Economist both offer tons of recipes and even instructional videos on cooking delicious, nourishing and budget-friendly recipes for yourself and your families.


7. Grow Something-- The ultimate earth-friendly method of food production is growing your own, and the next-best thing is small-scale farms. Unfortunately, after more than 50 years of government subsidies that encouraged industrial-scale farms, thousands of small-scale farms folded. Fortunately, new farmers are answering the call, and giving it their best shot again. But you don't have to be a farmer to grow your own food-- you don't even need a lot of land. Even a window ledge provides enough room and sunshine to grow some herbs, and planting a little plot in raised beds offers both food and a wonderful stress reliever, not to mention the satisfaction of producing your own food.
Check it out: Here's an inspiring story about a city in Brazil that eradicated hunger through community efforts. And for a fun take on sustainability, join the community at guerrillagardening.org.


8. Get Involved at a Local Farm-- Whether you are joining a CSA and therefore supporting their concept and future in financial ways, or you are simply visiting a farm and learning about how they work, getting involved in a local farm is a great way to support sustainable food-raising practices. As a culture, we have become far removed from the process of food production, and it's great to see what goes into growing the items we eat. Choosing to buy from local farms, whether on site or through a CSA is a wonderful way to "vote" for sustainable food, and it will enrich your life!
Check it out: LocalHarvest.org is a great website that helps you connect with local farmers in your area! You can also support other business who value the planet and sustainable practices, by finding sustainable food wherever you go, using the Eat Well Guide.


9. Say No to GMOs-- Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are currently one of the greatest threats to our health and environment. According to the Non-GMO Project, "over 80% of all GMOs grown worldwide are engineered for herbicide tolerance. As a result, use of toxic herbicides like Roundup has increased 15 times since GMOs were introduced. GMO crops are also responsible for the emergence of “super weeds” and “super bugs:’ which can only be killed with ever more toxic poisons like 2,4-D (a major ingredient in Agent Orange). GMOs are a direct extension of chemical agriculture, and are developed and sold by the world’s biggest chemical companies. The long-term impacts of GMOs are unknown, and once released into the environment these novel organisms cannot be recalled."
In addition to the terrible toll GMOs are taking on the environment, they are also bad for our health. Most developed nations consider GMOs unsafe, and in nearly 50 countries around the world (including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union) there are serious restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs. However, in the U.S., the government has approved GMOs. These approvals are based on studies conducted by the same corporations that created them and who will benefit from selling them. Many Americans are realizing that this is not a good deal for them, and are choosing to opt out of the GMO experiment. We should all demand clean, safe food.
Check it out: Here is a great presentation on the issue, called Patriotism on a Plate

Another great place to learn more about GMOs, including ways to avoid them, is to check out The Non-GMO Project.




What we eat at each meal really matters, and every time we choose sustainable food, we vote for a better, cleaner way of producing our food. To learn even more about our food production system and the issues facing us today, you can watch any of the food-related documentaries below:


Food, inc.
Food Matters
King Corn


Sources:
http://www.nongmoproject.org/learn-more/
http://www.apha.org/advocacy/policy/policysearch/default.htm?id=1361
http://web.missouri.edu/ikerdj/papers/Denver%20--%20food%20economics%20ethics.htm
http://sustainability.emory.edu/page/1008/Sustainable-Food
http://www.gracelinks.org/982/energy-use-climate-change

The Whys And Hows Of Buying Food Locally

By Ariana Mullins

When it comes to buying food, most of us just hop into our cars, drive to our favorite (or most convenient) grocery store, and fill our carts.  We don't give much thought to where the food came from, when it was picked, and how it was produced.  But buying food is a big deal, when it comes to our economy, our environment, our community and our health.  Let's give it a little more thought!



Did you know that...

  • Most produce in the US is picked 4 to 7 days before being placed on
    supermarket shelves, and is shipped for an average of 1500 miles before
    being sold.
    (This is just American-produced items! Those distances are much longer when we take talk about
    produce imported from Mexico, Asia, Canada, South America, and other
    places.)
  • We can only afford to do this now because of the artificially low energy
    prices
    (although they may not even seem low!) that we currently enjoy, and by externalizing the environmental
    costs of such a wasteful food system. This is to the detriment
    of small farmers by subsidizing large scale, agribusiness-oriented
    agriculture
    with government handouts and artificially cheap energy.
  • This petroleum-based system will not last forever. World oil production has
    already peaked, according to some estimates, and while demand for
    energy continues to grow, supply will soon start dwindling, sending the
    price of energy through the roof.  Food prices will soar, and we will need to focus on energy efficient
    agricultural methods, like smaller-scale organic agriculture, and on
    local production
    wherever possible. The way we are doing food now is simply unsustainable.
  • Cheap energy and agricultural subsidies enable a type of farming system
    that is destroying and polluting our soils and water, weakening
    our communities, and concentrating wealth and power into a few hands.

    It is also threatening the security of our food supplies, as demonstrated
    by the various e-Coli, GMO-contamination, and other health scares that
    are often seen nowadays on the news.
  • Only 18 cents of every dollar, when
    buying at a large supermarket, go to the grower. 82 cents go
    to various unnecessary middlemen.
    Let's support our growers!  Cut the middlemen out, and and buy food directly from the growers.
The large-scale, agribusiness-oriented food systems we support each time we shop for food are bound to fail
on the long term, sunk by their own lack of sustainability. Why
wait until we're forced by circumstance to abandon our destructive
patterns of consumption? We can start now by buying locally grown
food whenever possible. By doing so we'll be helping preserve the
environment, and strengthening our communities by investing our food dollar close to home.



How to Buy More Local Food


There are a few ways to approach supporting local food production, and there are a lot of websites out there to help you (see resources section at the end of this post.)

  • Check the origins.  Even at your local grocery store, you can support local.  Cut out all of the transport waste while shopping at your local supermarket by simply checking labels for the source of your produce.  Choose items with origins closest to you.  Chances are, the food will also be much fresher!
  • Visit a farm, and do some shopping there!  See what's in season, and how it's grown.  Let your farmer know you appreciate them, and buy food there to support the work they are doing.  Prices at farm shops are really great, too!
  • Shop at farmers markets.  The demand for farm-fresh produce has increased greatly in the last few years, and most communities have a farmer's market in their area.    This is also a really fun way to get to know your farmers, and to learn more about your food!
  • Join a CSA.  This is a great way to support sustainable farming practices, get more value for your money, and keep your dollars in your local economy.
  • Plant a garden.   It doesn't get more local than that!  No matter where you are, or how much space you have available, you can definitely grow something to eat.  Not only is it fun and rewarding, but growing your own food is the most sustainable and economical choice of all!
Here's a local farm my family loves to visit.  In October, we stocked up on purple kale, cabbage, and all kinds of winter squash.  We even bought firewood there!
Here are some excellent resources for buying locally:

http://www.localharvest.org

http://www.foodroutes.org/buylocal.jsp

http://www.eatwellguide.org/

http://www.locavorenetwork.com/



Sourcing your food from within your own community is incredibly satisfying.  Not only will you be eating better, fresher, more nutritious food, but you will be helping the environment and strengthening your local economy and community!





Sources:

http://www.localharvest.org/buylocal.jsp

http://www.greensgrow.org/farm/overview/farm-market/why-buy-local-foods.html

http://localfoods.about.com/od/finduselocalfoods/tp/Local-Foods-Resources.htm

http://www.locavorenetwork.com/content/want-be-a-locavore

How Joining A CSA Will Enrich Your Life And Your Community

By Ariana Mullins


Are you aware that the average food item in America travels 1,500 miles
before getting to your plate? Or that only 10% of the amount of fossil
fuel energy used in the world’s food system is for producing food? The
other 90% goes into packaging, transporting and marketing. Did you know that 97%
of fruit and vegetable varieties have become unavailable commercially
and replaced by only a few varieties since the turn of the 20th
century? Industrial agriculture was designed to produce mass quantities
of limited types of food cheaply, but now we are learning the real costs and short-sightedness of this system. Community Supported Agriculture
offers an sustainable option by reducing food miles, encouraging biodiversity and practicing farming methods that will
keep the land fertile for generations.  




What is a CSA?

Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA for short, is a movement that brings farmers and their neighbors into a more direct, cooperative relationship. This concept migrated to the US from Japan in the mid-1980s and has grown to thousands of farms and over hundreds of thousands of community "members" who subscribe to regular intervals for the delivery of 
their farm products.  Some CSAs simply provide vegetables, fruits, and herbs, while others also supply meats, eggs, dairy products, and other items grown on their farms.





There are a lot of great reasons to join a CSA:



1. Know where your food comes from.  If you live within 100 miles from a farm, you probably have a CSA in your area, as well.  The food you receive will be fresh, and you can even visit the farm in most cases, to see how everything is grown!

2.  Support the Democracy of Small Farming.  An important element in the CSA concept is that of shared responsibility.  You pledge a certain amount of financial support, regardless of the amount of produce you receive.  The farmer works his hardest to maximize your investment, and so if it's a bumper year, you get a large bounty.  If it's a rough year, you will receive less in your delivery, but the farmer will still have the resources he needs to continue farming.  It's not easy for small, organic farmers these days, and having local backers provides the stability they need to keep doing it right.

3.  Save Money.  By sourcing your food locally, you are not having to add to the cost of the produce by paying for transport from a farm thousands of miles away!  In addition to this, you do not need to pay the overhead costs of a grocery store selling your food, since the food comes directly from the farm to you.

4.  Get Higher Quality Produce.  The food varieties you will receive from a CSA have been selected and planted for flavor, rather than for being durable for transport.  While much of the fruits and vegetables in stores have been bred for compact size, impunity to bruising, and late ripening time after picking, the farm-fresh vegetables and fruit provided from your local farm are grown for flavor (and sheer wonderfulness!)

5.  Get Involved in Local Food Production and Community.  Many CSA farms invite you to visit their grounds, and have a look at how they grown your food.  Oftentimes, work days and community parties are hosted on site, allowing opportunity to participate in the growing of your own food and getting to know other people and families in your community.

6.  Grow Your Local Economy.  Buying from someone in your own area keeps the money in your local economy.  Your dollars do not go to Kroger and huge farming aggregates-- they go to family owned businesses and individuals working hard to grow food in responsible, sustainable ways.  That is something you can feel really great about!

8.  Support Biodiversity.  On huge farms supplying grocery stores, there is very little diversity in crops.  They sow and grow the most popular, most sturdy and road-worthy specimens, only.  There is little interest in fruits and vegetables for their unique qualities and nuanced flavors.  Small farms, however, grow heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables, and are propagating varieties that have virtually dropped out the food supply.  Supporting your local farmer is great for local biodiversity!

9.  Take Part in Ecological StewardshipThe way we shop for our food either supports the ongoing industrialized food production system, which involves huge quantities of fuel and waste, and farming practices that harm our land and environmental resources; or it supports our local farmers who are working to preserve the biodiversity and integrity of our land.




Joining a CSA is good for the environment, good for the local economy, good for biodiversity, and good for you!  To find a CSA near you, you can check out localharvest.org/csa.



Sources:

http://www.localharvest.org/csa/

http://www.smallfootprintfamily.com/what-is-community-supported-agriculture

http://www.healthyfoodforall.org/whyjoinacsa.htm

http://www.makinglocalfoodwork.co.uk/about/csa/BenefitsofCSA.cfm


8 Simple Ways to Make Your Grocery Shopping More Sustainable

By Ariana Mullins

What does sustainable mean? Here is the definition:

1. capable of being sustained
2. a) of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged b) of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods. (Merriam-Webster dictionary)

3. Capable of being continued with minimal long-term effect on the environment. (Dictionary.com)


When shopping at the grocery store, you make decisions that can have profound effects on both on your life and on the world as a whole. Regardless of who you are, how many people you feed at home, or what your dietary preferences are, you have lots of choices when it comes to shopping-- choices that have a direct impact on the environment. There are many ways to make small changes to the way you buy your food that really add up for a big impact-- especially considering how many times you will shop for food in your life! So here are some simple ways to make your shopping trips more sustainable. You can make a difference in the environment, with minimal effort!




1. Plan well, so you don't have to make multiple trips-- those gas miles add up! This will also save you money and time.
Photo by Foreverdigital


2. Take reusable bags-- it's not much extra time or energy, and over the long haul, this little gesture adds up to keeping hundreds (if not thousands) of plastic bags out of circulation. Stash some in your car or purse, so you have them on hand whenever you are buying something at a store.


3. Buy local produce, whenever possible. Local produce is fresher, has more nutrients, and doesn't require tons of fossil fuels to be transported for thousands of miles. Another important advantage to buying local produce is that you will be supporting your local economy!


4. Opt for bulk items or those with less packaging. Just think of all the boxes, plastic wrap, foil and needless material that our food is wrapped in. This is a huge waste of resources! Why not just buy the actual ingredients, rather than all of the packaging? You can do this by visiting your grocery store's bulk bins. Often times, buying in bulk is more economical anyway, so this is another win-win.


5. Don't buy bottled water-- pick up a reusable water bottle, and drink tap water, or filtered tap water. Bottled water uses a whole lot of energy-- from transporting the water from its source, to using the plastic bottles, which often don't get recycled. Plus, plastic compounds are often leached into the water. Opt to filter your water from the tap at home, using a Brita-type filter instead. Once again, this will save you money, too!


6. Be responsible in your protein choices. You don't have to become a vegetarian in order to eat sustainably. Choose meats that have been raised humanely, using traditional methods. For example, buying grass fed meat supports sustainable practices-- cows are made to eat grass, and their manure actually replenishes top soil! These meats are much better for our health, and do not require huge amounts of grain to be grown to feed them. Do a little research, talk to your local butcher, and make choices that support our ecosystem. Your taste buds and health will also benefit!


7. Buy seasonally. How do strawberries make their way to the supermarket in December? They were grown in warmer countries, picked, and shipped over. These were bred for long transport times, rather than flavor. The same is true for all kinds of foods that we take for granted-- items that are not in season year-round. The best, most nutrient-rich and flavorful foods at your market will be those that are in season. And the in-season items are often the most local! Choosing foods that are in season is a very sustainable practice, and you will discover that eating in season just tastes better, too!


8. Buy organics. Not only will you be supporting good agriculture practices and keeping chemicals out of our soils and water supply-- you will also be protecting your own health and that of your family! Certain crops employ more pesticides than others, so it's good to be informed on which choices will make the most impact. Here is a great chart that shows which items are most likely to be heavily sprayed, and should be avoided unless organic.


We all have so many choices today, when it comes to buying our food. This is great, because it means that food is abundant. However, we also have more responsibility now, when it comes to how we go about doing our shopping. A little thought and effort can make a big difference in the impact of our lifestyles on the environment. It's absolutely worth it to choose sustainable options, and these choices will often save you time, and money, while improving your health. You can make a difference!


Sources:
http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/
http://www.thedailygreen.com/healthy-eating/eat-safe/dirty-dozen-foods#slide-1
http://www.sustainabletable.org/shop/guides/
http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/buying-groceries-the-sustainable-way.html

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

GO VEGETARIAN

By Mathew Grubb

Becoming a vegetarian can not only benefit your health and the health of animals, but the environment as well. We all suffer from the negative effects of Livestock farming. The vegetarian lifestyle is growing rapidly and here are some great reasons why people are making the change.  


 Health Benefits
- Lower risk of Diabetes and Cancer 
- Increased life span
- Lower blood pressure
- Healthier skin
- More energy
- More affordable
- Toxin-free
- Lower Cholesterol levels
- Stronger digestive system


More importantly than the positive effects on your body, lets take a look at some of the consequences we face in today's society for producing and killing animals.

Livestock Farming's Negative Effects

Global Warming
- One of the most serious threats we face as humans is Global Warming. Carbon and CO2 emissions are huge negative consequences we leave on earth. In a report in 2006, the United Nations claimed that raising livestock animals creates more emissions and greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined.

“The major greenhouse gases that cause global warming are water
vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone and chlorofluorocarbons.
Livestock production is a major contributor to two of these greenhouse gases,
methane and nitrous oxide. Farm animals are responsible for 18% of methane
emissions according to the Vegetarian Society. The major human directed cause of
nitrous oxide emissions, 65%, is the keeping of livestock.” - Source 

Natural Resources - Livestock farming depletes our earth's natural resources. There are three times more livestock animals than humans. Enormous amounts of water are needed to raise them.

“It takes 2,464 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef in California.
This is the same amount of water you would use if you took a seven-minute
shower every day for six entire months. In contrast, only 25 gallons of water are
needed to produce one pound of wheat.” - Source

Those numbers are astounding. Imagine how much more organic natural food we could produce with that water. This could help feed many starving people, while maintaining a healthy balanced diet.

Drugs and Chemicals - Livestock farmers pump their animals full of antibiotics, growth hormones and many different types of chemicals. They do this to fatten the fish/animals when they would normally die. They speed up their growth to produce more them faster. The antibiotics they pump them with are used to reduce the bacteria in their digestive system, but using these antibiotics in the animals over and over leads to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This causes food poisoning and many other diseases that make you sick or can kill you in some cases. 

In all reality, nothing but good can come from making this lifestyle choice. The vegetarian lifestyle is gaining more support and will continue to do so in generations to come. 

  
Sources

http://www.downtoearth.org/environment/top-10-reasons

http://voices.yahoo.com/17-benefits-being-vegetarian-589913.html?cat=5

http://www.downtoearth.org/environment/top-10-reasons

http://www.eathumane.org/pages/3114_negative_impacts_of_factory_farming.cfm

http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/our-failing-food-system/industrial-agriculture/they-eat-what-the-reality-of.html

http://www.livestrong.com/article/18474-benefits-vegetarian-diets/

Put the Eco-Movement on your Back, Literally! – Eco Clothing


By: Morgan Bennette-Eaton



When I pick my clothing out I normally think of one of two things: form or function.  I tend to care quite a bit about my clothing choices so I always want it to be stylish but on the other hand if I’m buying a winter coat I want to make sure that it’s going to be warm.  Never really has environmental impact crossed my mind until now, after doing some research I found that the clothing industry has a significant effect on the environment:

·      Cotton, the most popular fiber in the United States takes vast amounts of water and current farming techniques sap soil of nutrients.
·      The manufacturer of synthetic fabrics like polyester takes a large amount of crude oil and releases many pollutants into the air and water.
·      Only 15 percent of discarded clothing is collected for donation and recycling, the majority of the rest ends up in landfills.

Eco-fashion is not only making their products out of sustainable materials, but also aim to stop things like the points mentioned above.  Here are some significant benefits of eco-fashion.

Products


Eco fashion wants to get away from the un-eco friendly image of the current clothing industry.  They use organic materials such as silk, hemp, tinsel, wool, bamboo and soya.  They don’t use crops that have been sprayed with harmful herbicides that can hurt the environment and chemicals that are used in bleaching.  Also most eco-clothing is designed to be very durable and wont fall apart after a few washes. Not only does eco-clothing aim to use organic ingredients to help the environment, but they see people buying less clothes as an opportunity to help the environment as well.

Eco fashion is also finding its way to high fashion, check out this article regarding eco fashion being featured in vogue:

http://ecopreneurist.com/2012/11/27/eco-fashion-is-in-vogue-re-purposed-clothing-that-is-chic-and-eco-friendly/

Cost

Eco fashion is actually known to be very affordable.  Clothing really depends on the practices of the company rather than the raw materials used so eco-clothing price is very competitive.  Also the fact that you don’t need to buy eco-clothing as frequent will save you money in the long run?

It is Socially Responsible

Eco-clothing is what it is for the fact that it is environmentally responsible.  When you buy eco-clothing you know that you are doing the world a service by participating in a movement that uses sustainable materials and practices sustainable practices.  Eco-clothing is like a badge of honor that you wear on your sleeve; everyone will know you support the movement towards a healthier planet and as cheesy as it sounds, every great movement has to start somewhere.

Here are some E-fashion online boutiques, Happy Shopping!

Sources:
http://ecopreneurist.com/2012/11/27/eco-fashion-is-in-vogue-re-purposed-clothing-that-is-chic-and-eco-friendly/

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Get Off the Grid: Alternative Energy Solutions for the Home


By: Morgan Bennette-Eaton

Although there still are some people out there that think it’s a hoax, for the most part global warming is a proven fact.  With that being the case most people understand that changes in energy and transportation are going to have to be made in the near future.  By the year 2050 one-third of the world’s energy will need to come from alternative sources like wind, solar, and hydropower.  The people who came up with this statement are British Petroleum and Royal Dutch Shell, two of the worlds biggest oil companies; so you know if even they are aware of the issue than it’s something you should consider.

Most people when thinking of alternative energy sources think of solar panels on top of skyscrapers, hydropower dams in rivers and giant wind turbines in the planes of Kansas, however did you know that there are significant alternative energy changes you can make around your house? Recently alternative energy products have made leaps and bounds and one of the areas for which they are beginning to make significant innovations are consumer based for the home.

Why Would I Make Changes at my Home?

There are many reasons you should make alternative energy changes to your home, some of those but not limited to are:

·      Do your part to help curb climate change.
·      Become energy independent
·      Possible tax breaks depending on where you live
·      Help cut down on pollutants in air and water that can affect your family and friends
·      Help to spearhead change that is needed in this world.

Home Solar Options



Perhaps the best known alternative energy resource is solar energy.  Why man took so long to harness the real power of the sun is a mystery.  If you go outside and stand in the sun you can feel the energy and heat on your sking.   In that 8 minutes those rays have traveled 93 million miles.  The photons in sun rays move extremely fast and their motion can be trapped in your solar panels and harnessed as energy.  While at the moment solar panels are still somewhat expensive when you figure in the fact that most can last 20-30 years and come with lifetime warranties the price over the life of use is beneficial. 

Also think of how much you can benefit the environment.  A 1.5 kilowatt PV system can keep more than 110,000 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere over 25 years.  I will also prevent the need to burn 60,000 pounds of coal.  With solar power you take things like urban smog, pollution, and acid rain out of the equation. 



Home Wind Power


People have been using wind power for thousands of years.  Persians used windmills to pump water and grind grain in 900 AD.  Other nations like China, Egypt, and here in the United States have all realized the potential power of wind power.  And so we have seen recently nations like Germany and France investing large amounts of government funding into developing the possibilities of wind power.

Recently powerful and practical home wind turbines have been developed for the consumer.  While they vary and size and some can be mounted on roofs while other need to be in yards they all are almost completely silent and can generate quite a bit of energy.  With a wind turbine of a capacity of 1.2 kilowatts you can generate 25-30% of an average homes energy while other more sophisticated turbines can provide anywhere from 50%-70% of a homes energy.  Combined with solar panels, wind turbines could help you to become completely energy independent.  

Home HydroPower


Hydropower is a type of alternative energy that doesn’t get talked about a lot.  The problem with hydropower is that for most to use it for home applications you need to live next to flowing water.  It has been said that these small hydropower solutions are the perfect compliment to solar panels for the home as they provide a small amount of energy.  There are two types of hydropower instillations, waterwheels and water turbines.  Water wheels are similar to those antique water wheels you see in old movies turning very slow.  These smaller versions of water wheels turn slowly but with massive amounts of torque which can actually genrerate quite a bit of energy.  Home water turbines on the other hand are different than the giant ones you see on dams.  Water is collected in an intake pipe and as down in to the tubine in a pipe it’s own gravity pressure forces it through one or more nozzles. This action turns a small turbine that can produce energy and deposit it into a connected generator. 

Hydropower at this moment is not the most practical of the alternative energy solutions for the home but it’s a great addition to wind or solar energy and can help you get those few extra watts to become fully energy independent. 

Where Do I Start?

The first step to outfitting your home with alternative energy solutions is to decide which ones will give you the best return.  If you live in Arizona you probably want to invest in solar, if you live in a place with no wind, wind turbines may not be a good decision.  Once you have decided on what you plan on investing in and a budget start to research companies that specialize in outfitting homes with alternative energy solutions.

Here are a few links to companies that can outfit your home with alternative energy products and help you get off the grid:



Sources:
http://otherpower.com/otherpower_hydro.html





Saving Energy at Home


The majority of climate scientists around the globe believe greenhouse gasses, such as carbon dioxide, methane, ozone, and nitrous oxide contribute to global warming. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the burning of fossil fuels has contributed to the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is the main source of the increase of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.



Scientists now agree that we must start reducing greenhouse gasses immediately - before climate change causes irreversible harm to the environment and our economy.  We are all responsible for carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere - it is a result from the energy we use in our homes and businesses, and throughout our day.


The good news is that there are simple ways you can reduce your home's energy use.  An easy way is to replace traditional light bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFL) which use about 75% less energy than a traditional light bulb.  Making this change can help you use less electricity at home and prevent greenhouse gas emissions that lead to global climate change.

Energy Trust of Oregon is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping utility customers benefit from saving energy and generating renewable energy.  Through their website www.energytrust.org anyone can get a free evaluation of the energy efficiency of their home and tips on how to save energy. But that is not all! Energy Trust of Oregon will send you an energy-saving kit with free CFL light bulbs and water saving shower heads and faucet aerators. Saving energy and learning about how to conserve even more has never been easier!  Simply go to their website and complete the online survey and they will mail your kit directly to your front door.