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

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.

Alternatives to Pesticides

The threat of winter frosts are finally over here in Colorado, which means gardeners can get serious. Gardening is a relaxing and fulfilling activity. It is wonderful to see a flower garden grow and bloom into something spectacular with colors shooting everywhere. A vegetable garden satisfies the hunger and the wallet. But, gardens are not all fun and games.

It is impossible to avoid the bugs and rodents that are known to invade a garden. A fence can keep out deer and if installed underground can keep out smaller, burrowing rodents as well. But a fence does nothing for bugs, which can cause an even bigger problem. Tomatoes attract a certain type of bug that kills the plant. Even after a thorough cleaning in fall, the bugs still remain because they live in the ground through the winter. If you plant the tomatoes in the same place the next year the bugs invade and kill the plants again. This is just one of the many examples of how rodents and pests are always a problem to gardens.

Pesticides are an easy fix for these problems. They spray on quickly and they are pretty much hassle-free, but they are not the friendliest for the environment. Pesticide run-off ruins the soil and can kill more than just the bugs. If seepage makes it into any sort of water source, fish and other water dwelling creatures can be affected as well. Pesticides are a major problem, but so are pests. What are you to do?

There are many natural remedies that can be used to protect your plants as well as the environment. Many different types of bugs (like Praying Mantises and lady bugs) will kill harmful bugs and leave your plants alone. There are also certain plants that pests don’t like and will keep them away. These include marigolds and chives. You can either plant these in and around your garden, or create a spray using a mixture of the leaves or petals and water. You can also use a garlic spray, but I have seen plants wrinkle when it was used. These are all environmentally friendly fixes as well as cost effective. You can always research more ideas for organically getting rid of these beasts.

That just covers the bugs, but what about those four legged friends who always seem to want to ruin your plants? Well, I just read an article from BBC about farmers in Israel using owls and other prey birds to get the rodents that enter their fields. All they are doing is building nests and attracting these birds to live near their fields. This is very cost effective and it is a very natural way to get rid of those bothersome animals. I would be curious to see if this would work in small, private gardens.

You can follow this link to learn more about the owls and prey birds in Israel –

Until next time, we hope you will comment on our blogs here the Institute of Ecolonomics, and we ask you to always think about the best things you can be doing for our planet. Have a great day!

Green Education Starts at School

 A bill has just been passed by the United States House of Representatives for a 6.5 billion dollar school renovation. The money will go towards making schools greener. The targeted schools are ones in the south east which were destroyed by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. These schools haven’t been properly rebuilt yet and so this money will go to rebuild them to be more efficient and better for the environment. The rest of the money will go to other school renovations across the country. These will be schools that are in desperate need of repair. 
This is just one small step that our country is making in the fight against global warming, but there is always controversy. The people opposed to the bill worry about the action the federal government is now taking in education. In this case, the opposition believes that the federal government should only step in to ensure that students are getting fair educations and that disabled students are getting appropriate care. They believe it is the responsibility of the state to fund school renovations and things of that nature, and not the federal government’s.

The people who voted against the bill were worried about this new role the government was playing and they were also worried about the high upfront costs of these renovations. These costs will be off-set in very little time though. It is claimed that with such improved efficiency these schools will save 100,000 dollars a year. In just ten years a school will save a million dollars. I know from experience that schools can last for many years. The high school I graduated from was built in the early 1900’s. That means it has been around for almost a hundred years. This renovation can pay for itself.

Other benefits come as well. Jobs are created due to the construction that will be taking place. There will be a smaller impact on the environment. But most importantly, children will be able to learn and experience the significance of living green and making a difference for the environment as well as the economy. All I can say is that it’s nice to see our money going to benefit our country and not being shipped overseas.

For further reading on this follow the link to the CNN article where I received my information: As always we welcome your comments and thoughts, and we hope we can generate a little interest for cleaning up the planet and as Dennis would say “making some money doing it.”

Ebooks and The Environment

Kindle, that’s the new trend in books. It is a hand held device created by Amazon where you can receive digital books and read them right off the screen. It’s pretty fascinating to think about where books have come. Thousands of years ago books were only made for religious and governmental purposes. Only the highest ranked people were able to read and only scribes could write. Books were scarce and could not be published in masses as they can be today. Eventually, books became something for just the elite society thanks to the Guttenberg Press (the first press that could copy hand written books and mass produce it), but only the elite were literate. Now, thanks to public education, almost everyone can enjoy books. Paper books have been the way we read, but now digital books, or ebooks, are becoming more appealing. But which is more ecolonomic?

Ebooks are very exciting and intriguing. The digital format of the books allows for the storage of several books on to one small device (smaller than most paper books) which can be toted just about anywhere. Their portability far exceeds that of a conventional book. The digital format also allows for text searches, making research much easier, and for easy duplication. You can easily give a friend an ebook and still have a copy for yourself, something you can’t do with paper books (unless you have more than one copy, which is uncommon). Ebooks can also be read in almost any lighting situation because of backlighting on screens. Even in the dark you can read an ebook. No paper is used when making an ebook, which means thousands of trees are saved. Publication costs are cheaper because everything for an ebook is done over the internet. There is no shipping which means no energy is used to ship the books to a store and no energy from consumers to go to the store and buy the ebook. Digital books will never decay, rip, or fall apart at the binding. I wouldn’t be able to rip the book in two as I have with paper books. Even the devices used to read the digital books are smaller and ship to stores for less.

What are the cons to ebooks than? No matter what you do an ebook is always an ebook, which means you will always be using energy when buying, downloading, or reading it. Paper books certainly ruin trees, exert carbon emissions while manufactured and pollute through shipping methods, but ebooks use quite a bit of energy just from reading the book. Publication of ebooks is cheaper and would make books cheaper as well, but though the consumer gains, authors and publishers lose. Books can be pirated and revenue would be lost to the author. Though ebooks can’t wear and tear, electronics can. I can drop a book and it’s usually fine, but drop an electronic and who knows what will happen? Electronics tend to last for about five years and go out of date in about one or two. Books can last for thousands of years. Ebooks have no resale value if they can just be duplicated, where as paper books can become collectables and rare. Electronics are harder to recycle than paper and you can’t send an ebook to a used bookstore for recycling, or to a library, which allows people access to books for free without any expensive device.

With new sources of energy being developed, who knows what will become of paper or digital books? Ebooks may be the next great ecolonomics thing, what do you think?