Looking at our oceans & trash vortexes

If you have wondered whether or not garbage patches, gyres, and trash vortexes exist in the oceans, read Ole Nielsen’s blog, OleLog.

North Pacific gyre source: OleLogNorth Pacific gyre source: OleLog

Nielsen reports: “Can you imagine what happens when marine garbage ends up in such a vortex? It will never leave it again, all plastic will circulate, new plastic come by and circulate. Ships continue dumping their garbage at sea, and you end up with the world’s biggest landfill in the Pacific Ocean.

“It has been given different names like the “Western and Eastern Pacific Garbage Patches”, sometimes collectively called the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”, the “Pacific Trash Vortex”, or for short the “Plastic Vortex”. The garbage patches present numerous hazards to marine life, fishing and tourism. Plastic constitutes 90 percent of all trash floating in the world’s oceans. The Eastern Garbage Patch floats between Hawaii and California and is first and foremost a Pacific island of rubbish twice the size of Texas and created from six million tonnes of discarded plastic. In the peer review journal, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Charles Moore estimated the plastic mass in the Pacific Gyre to be six times that of plankton.

“In June (10 June to 25 July 2009) a high-seas mission departs from San Francisco to map and explore the Pacific Garbage Patch. Scientists and conservationists on the expedition will begin attempts to retrieve and recycle this ugly monument to throwaway living in the middle of the North Pacific. With a crew of 30, the expedition, supported by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Brita, the water company, will use unmanned aircraft and robotic surface explorers to map the extent and depth of the plastic continent while collecting 40 tonnes of the refuse for trial recycling.

“Bottle caps, plastic bags and polystyrene floating with tiny plastic chips, worn down by sunlight and waves, disintegrates into smaller pieces. Suspended under the surface, these tiny fragments are invisible to ships and satellites trying to map the plastic continent. The damage caused by these tiny fragments is more insidious than strangulation, entrapment and choking by larger plastic refuse. The fragments act as sponges for heavy metals and pollutants until mistaken for food by small fish. The toxins then become more concentrated as they move up the food chain through larger fish, birds and marine mammals.”

We hope posts such as the one above from Mr. Nielsen helps end such wasteful, polluting nonsense.

E-Books Revisited

Some time ago I wrote a post about the pros and cons of e-books. Regardless of those debates e-books are growing to be a very popular form of literature. I even have begun to think that e-books are a wondrous invention (and I love the old fashion form of books).

Research was the thought in my mind. I have discovered that you are able to highlight and search when using a Kindle. This is a great feature that can be used for many different industries. Kindles could become a student’s best friend if it can bring text book prices down and make research and notes easier. (more…)

The Wonderful World of Wool

I bought a sweater a while back that was made from a super soft material. I didn’t really care about what it was made from I just bought it because it was soft. After buying the garment I looked at the materials and found that it was made from Angora rabbit fur. This unnerved me. All I could think about is how a rabbit (if not several) were killed in order to make this sweater. I was not happy about my purchase after that. It wasn’t until later that I came to realize no rabbit was killed in order to produce the fibers of my sweater. (more…)

Recycle Everything

When we hear the word recycle the first thing that pops into most heads are those bins we put out on the curb full of bottles, paper, and glass. It’s refreshing to see those bins. It’s always good to know that there are people out there who care enough to recycle, but that is just a fraction of what we use and throw out.

I don’t have a solution to ever piece of junk that you may want to throw out, but let me give you some tips on some things that aren’t your typical everyday pieces of junk. (more…)

Energy on the Rise

People use tons of energy each day. It’s scary to think about. The amount of fossil fuels we burn amounts to more than just the emissions of our vehicles. Whenever you flip a switch, turn on a television, or use a computer, you are using electricity and where does electricity come from? Well, most of us know that our electricity comes from an electrical plant. Most of those plants burn fossil fuels which release more extreme emissions than vehicles. How can this be fixed? The answer is alternatives.

It can’t be emphasized enough that going green is the newest trend. One of the biggest fads for this trend is energy. The concept is using plentiful and eco-friendly ways to generate energy. Two ways that I see as being successful are solar panels and wind turbines. (more…)

The Challenge with Hydrogen Powered Cars

Cars, they are a major adversary to the environment. Cars emissions are one of the leading causes to pollution in the air. The majority of us use them and for some it is very difficult not to use them. Sometimes mass transportation is not available to get you where you need to go. Sometimes it is too far for you to ride your bike or walk. These are all understandable issues and they are fairly good excuses for using a car, but they don’t take away from the fact that cars emit vile carbon gases into the air.

A solution to this problem has been in the formulating stages for a long time. Electric cars were the first to really be pushed out the door and into the market. All you have to do is plug your car in and let it charge for a while. Too bad those vehicles don’t hold a charge for very long. Now, there are electric cars run by hydrogen fuel. They are very eco-friendly because they do not let off any emissions, but they certainly aren’t economically friendly. (more…)

Get A Job

One of the most difficult things to do in today’s economy is find a job. People are being laid off left and right because companies need to downsize their businesses. What is a person to do? My answer – go green! It’s no denying that global warming is having an impact on the environment, but it’s also having an impact on industries. The biggest trend of today is going green. There are some people out there who will spend an arm and a leg just to make their life as eco-friendly as possible. Now, strides are being taken to make the green industry one that is attainable by the middle class as well.

With all this progress in the environmental industry, it is no wonder that some of the top jobs out there are green collar jobs. I recently came across an article that described the top ten green jobs of 2009. Though the article was published in January, I think it is extremely relevant right now, especially for those college graduates who are getting ready for their careers, as well as high school graduates who are searching for their dream job or a way to make a good buck.

1.    Farmers are needed in today’s market because the uses of machines are being reduced due to carbon emissions. More people will be needed to maintain the industry.
2.    Foresters are sometimes given a bad rap because all we think are they cut down trees, but their main job is to conserve the forests.
3.    With energy costs on the rise, new, innovative technologies are needed to make energy. The solar power industry is one that is about to take flight and will need many people onboard.
4.    Along with solar power, wind power is also going to take off and is another industry that will need the utilization of many workers.
5.    Energy efficiency builders are key roles in the global eco-renovation taking place. There are more than just builders though; there are also designers, contractors, laborers, and everything else you can imagine that goes into building.
6.    One huge career that has been made very demanding these days due to global warming is conservation biologists. These scientists are extremely important to preserving precious ecosystems.
7.    Green MBA and entrepreneurs are a crucial part to the green collar jobs. Where would any business be without financial advisors and business executives to market and build a company?
8.    Recycling is going strong and the industry needs more people to help. New laws are being formed that could make this market boom, requiring more people to help it grow.
9.    We won’t be able to get anywhere without designers and engineers who can give us the ideas and tools needed for sustainability.
10.    Finally, urban planners are a key to reducing the carbon footprint people are making.

These are just ten of many jobs in the green industry. Figure out what is right for you and go make a difference for the environment. For more information about these top ten follow this link http://www.fastcompany.com/articles/2009/01/best-green-jobs.html?page=0%2C1.

What is Your Impact?

I was watching a show on the “green” channel that was very inspiring. It showed one family in each episode their environmental impact. Their impact was based on the amount of trash they disposed annually, their use of electricity in their house, use of the appliances they own, and other miscellaneous habits. It was a very eye opening show to watch. It made me wonder about the impact my household is having. There are many things that we have been doing lately to help decrease our environmental impact, but there is always more that can be done.

One thing that is very resourceful is a compost pile/bucket. Instead of throwing away food and some biodegradable products you can place them in a pile or bucket (I believe trash cans can work) of dirt and worms and reduce your waste. This is a great way to recycle leftovers and even paper towels. The compost is great for gardens. It becomes a perfect fertilizer, but be weary of using a compost that has any sort of manure in it for your gardens. Make sure that it is well aged (a year or more) because E. coli can live in the manure of some animals and if you use fertilizer with ripe manure that bacteria can grow in your plants. This is especially bad for vegetable gardens.

Appliances can be big inhibitor to eco-renovations. Energy star certified appliances are all more energy efficient than others and will save you money in terms of electricity and water. It’s important to know whether you have these certifications on your appliances. If you don’t you could be wasting water and energy let alone money.

Something that is not stressed enough and is something that makes a big impact is recycling. Just recycling bottles and cans alone saves the environment. Now take it a step further and figure out what other things you can put in the recycling bins. Paper is another huge product that pays to be recycled. Call the company that you recycle with and figure out what all you can put in the pins. It really pays off in the long run.

These are just simple, but cost effective ways to renovate your home for a more cost efficient and environmentally friendly atmosphere. These are important but one of the most important things to do and sometimes the hardest is to reduce. Reduce the amount of food you eat, reduce the amount of water you use, reduce the amount of paper you throw out. Reducing is a huge money saver! Remember these tips and please keep adding more! Comment on this article and add your own thoughts on how you can be more ecolonomic in your home.

Cleaning the House

If you live on your own, or have to do chores around your house, then you may know a thing or two about cleaning products. With everything that must be cleaned in a house, it is no surprise that hard chemicals are used to destroy hard stains and imperfections on any surface. I never really stop to think about the harm that these chemicals have on the environment. They work to clean my house and that was really all that mattered to me. Buying what was cheap, on sale, or worked the best was the only criteria for buying cleaning products. Well, now buying green is one more criteria.

The chemicals that are found in many cleaning products are horrible for the environment. The chemicals are contained inside usually, but if you clean with paper towels, those will go into a landfill and seep into the ground. If you clean with sponges, mops and any other reusable cleaning accessory (which is greener than paper towels and disposable cleaning products) than you will just wash those chemicals down the drain. Those chemicals are harmful. Just read the warning labels. They are toxic and the fumes are not the best. You may not realize it, but by breathing in the fumes of the cleaning products, you are damaging your own body as well. What are we supposed to do though?

There are three simple solutions that people can take. You can make your own environmentally friendly products, buy green products from the store, or if you use a cleaning service, use someone who guarantees the use of green cleaning products.

Making your own products is extremely simple and very cost effective. Usually the main ingredients to these types of cleaners are baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, borax, vegetable oil, and soap (try to find organic). Depending on what you want to do and/or clean, usually you just combine one or two of these items (at no more than 1 cup) to a generous amount of water and you have a very safe cleaning product (that may work better than any product you could buy). You can make a whole bottle of cleaning solution at fewer than three dollars, which is better than anything you can buy in the store. I’ve even heard that the use of flower petals and other organic fragrances can be added to solutions to give them a better scent. Research can give you a multitude of sites that provide exact recipes for many different green cleaning solutions.

For some, the thought of making your own concoction for cleaning is just not appealing. Well, there is good news. Though most main manufacturers of cleaning supplies have not jumped on the green band wagon, there are some that have. Clorox™ has a green line of products that won’t break the bank and work extremely well. Just go to your local store and look for labels that signify the product as eco-friendly. Cleaning doesn’t have to be as hazardous as it is. If you have any green remedies for cleaning, please share your thoughts.

Shopping Green

Shopping seems to be an inevitable way of life. We must buy food to eat, clothes to wear, and other essential items. In today’s society there are two ways that we tend to accomplish this; we either go to the store and buy the items we need/want or we buy them online and have them shipped to us. These activities we probably rarely question and speculate the impact we are having on the environment. Well, it’s time that we should.
The drive alone to the store is a producing carbon dioxide emissions and pollution. Not only that, but if you buy products that are manufactured in different countries then you have to think about the emissions that were produced for shipping the products to the store. This same idea goes for online shopping. Sure you aren’t driving to the store yourself, but you are having a truck (which probably pollutes more than a normal car) come to your house. Have you done anything for the environment by buying online? Another bad trait of shopping is all the plastic bags that you receive. These bags are filling the landfills at remarkable rates and they take a very long time to degrade.

Shopping may not be very green, but there are definitely ways that you can make it eco-friendly.  Shop your local farmer’s market. By doing this you will not only get fresh produce, but you can be sure that anything you buy has not been shipped across country in a truck, but only came from a few minutes away. Even organic produce and products at your local supermarket could travel hundreds of miles to get to your store. Buying from your local farmer’s market also helps the community’s economy and keeps individual farms alive in a time where big businesses are the major money makers. If you shop at the store, plan your meals for a whole week and go in to get everything you will need for that week. This way you will only need to drive to the store once a week. It’s also good to shop with reusable bags. These will keep plastic bags out of the landfills. If you do use plastic bags some stores will take those bags back and recycle them. There are drop stations. Just look around town to see if your local stores have them and then the next you go into to shop bring all your plastic bags as well. These are just a couple of easy green tips for going out shopping.

But what about buying online? Shopping online for little things that you can just drive to the store and buy is not very green, but shopping for larger items, like furniture and large appliances would be better online. Unless you drive a truck, you will most likely need furniture delivered to your house anyway, so save the drive time and the gas and just buy those items online.

Those are just a couple tips for making your shopping experiences greener, but there are plenty more out there. If you have any other tips, than please feel free to comment and educate us all.