The Blue Dot Tour – Maybe The Worthiest Cause Of All.

This is the initiative started by the David Suzuki Foundation to help bring the country together around the issues of our right to clean air, clean water and a safe environment.

This tour has been moving across the country to packed houses and has garnered an incredible amount of support among concerned Canadians.

We would like to add our voice to that chorus of concern. Our Green Directory isn’t just an online shopping experience for people who are looking for eco-friendly alternatives. We like to think that through our blogs we are actively working to create awareness for the efforts of all those whose ingenuity and innovation are helping to make the earth a better place to live.

We applaud the efforts of Mr Suzuki and the Blue Dot initiative for its ambition, its scope, its audacity and its power to help bring about change.

Find out more at http://bluedot.ca

How Green Is Your Tech?

This is a guest post by Jordan Jacobs, which was originally posted on Singlehop.com. This is very interesting stuff. Hope you enjoy it, and it gets you thinking….Jim

How Green is Your Tech?
by Jordan Jacobs Industry Insights

Climate change is on nearly everybody’s mind, in one way or another. Becoming more aware of the effects of emissions on the environment, people are looking for “greener” ways to live, from buying local (and sustainable) food and products, traveling via lower-emission transportation methods, and building up recycling and composting programs.

There are some obvious things that help — like riding a bike to work or turning off the lights when you leave a room — but everyone tells you that stuff. As a technology company offering public and private cloud hosting services, we wanted to focus on some of the ways that everyday technology consumption like email, social media, and data storage affects your carbon footprint.

Before you hit send…

Going paperless is great, but electronic communications aren’t exactly carbon free. According to Mike Berners-Lee — professional carbon-emissions consultant and brother of the guy who invented the World Wide Web, so he definitely knows what he’s talking about — every time you send an email into the ether(net), you’re using up 4 grams of carbon.[1] And that’s if you don’t add any attachments.

Okay, 4 grams doesn’t sound like much, and in the grand scheme of things, it really isn’t. Four grams is about how much sugar Mary Poppins advises will help the medicine go down. But think about how many emails you send each day, then multiply that by 365. That’s a lot of sugar.

Basically, each year the average person emails an amount of carbon equal to the exhaust of a 200-mile car ride. Looked at from a different angle, all the emails sent scurrying around the Internet in a single day generate more than 880 million lbs. (that’s 44,000 tons!) of carbon per day.

Now, this isn’t to say that email is a bad thing: it’s certainly better than sending all of those messages on paper in paper envelopes using sticky paper stamps. But there are a lot of ways to cut down on carbon by checking the number of emails that go whizzing from server to server.

Stop replying to all. The “reply to all” function works by sending duplicate emails to all of the people listed in To: box. So instead of sending one email to lots of people, it’s actually sending separate emails to individuals — and multiplying your email-generated carbon footprint at the same time. Before replying to all, take a quick moment to see if everybody on the list really needs to get your message. You’ll save a few grams of carbon, and you’ll avoid aggravating all those people who might otherwise ask, “Why the heck did you send me that?”

Learn to search. Becoming intimate with your email app’s search functionality can save carbon, time, and sanity. Instead of asking your colleague to re-send that document you need for the big presentation, do a quick search of your inbox and archives to see if you have it already.

Don’t spam. Nobody likes to think they’re a spammer, but it happens. Even reputable companies with great products tend to carpet-bomb people’s inboxes with marketing messages that go mostly unread, in the hopes of finding just one more loyal customer. Just because you can send an email to anyone and everyone doesn’t mean you should. Tailoring your audience help you increase conversion rates while cutting back on carbon.

Unsubscribe. On the flip side, if you’re receiving emails that you don’t have time to read, take a minute to remove yourself from the mailing list. It’ll help keep your inbox clean, and you can feel even better knowing you’re helping to trim your carbon footprint.

Start a conversation. We’ve all done it; emailed that person who is sitting close enough that you could literally talk to them without even raising your voice. Instead of sending that email, have a little chat. Even if they’re down the hall, get up and go talk to them. Guaranteed, you’ll use less carbon by talking than you would by sending that email.

Less social media, more social awareness

Speaking of conversations, maybe emails aren’t your thing. Keeping messages short and sweet — say to the tune of 140 characters, a quick pic or a sentence-long status update — can’t really take up much carbon, right?

Actually, that is right. The carbon footprint of a tweet is estimated to be 0.02 grams.[2] Facebook has reported that the average user consumes about 311 grams (0.7 lbs.) per year, which has about the same impact as a medium latte.[3] (Hey, at least it’s not a “venti.”)

Still, those calculations only take into account what’s happening on the company’s end. If you’re using your laptop, tablet, or smartphone to explore social media sites, chances are you’re not simply posting and then leaving. You’re probably browsing a bit, seeing what your friends are up to, making some comments, playing a game or two, engaging in highly politicized debates with unreasonable so-and-sos who just don’t understand how the real world works. That sort of thing.

Let’s face it, most of that stuff is probably a waste of time — and a waste of carbon. There’s nothing wrong with using social media, but cutting back isn’t a bad thing either. While reducing social media usage isn’t going to stop global warming on its own, every little bit does help. Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind:

Look up once in a while. How social is it to spend your time looking at your phone? If you’re out and about with a group of friends, focus on what you’re doing, rather than what other people are up to. Sure, it’s okay to post the occasional status update or share a pic or two, but constantly bending your neck is carbon wasteful and may ultimately lead you to a chiropractor’s office.[4]

It’s okay to miss something. The “Fear of Missing Out” (FOMO) is a psychological condition that has been exacerbated by the explosion of social media.[5] While connecting with people you don’t get to see every day can be wonderful, if you’re scouring your friends’ posts to judge whether their activities are more interesting than your own, you could be missing out on the simple enjoyment of being “in the moment.” Save some carbon and anxious brain cycles by turning those push notifications off.

Delete unused accounts. Maybe Instagram just isn’t your thing. Maybe you don’t really understand the appeal of tweeting. Or maybe you signed up on Google Plus to get more exposure for your business, book club, or improv group. Whatever the case, if you’re not using a particular social media site, deleting your account can decrease your carbon footprint while also helping you declutter your online presence and protect your privacy. Just Delete Me has direct links to the delete pages for hundreds of social media sites, with a visual guide of how easy it is to send your account into cyber-oblivion.

Cloud your data

With the rise of cloud computing, you can reduce your personal carbon footprint by relying on the economies of scale that cloud storage provides.

We’re not gonna lie: Data centers use a lot of energy. But as a company, some of the ways we’ve managed to reduce our own carbon footprint is by installing LED lights, taking advantage of cool-weather conditions — such as that chilly polar vortex that swept down near our data centers in Chicago last winter — and making strides in server virtualization, which helps us run our processors at peak efficiency.

In thinking about data storage for your own personal or company use, it’s worth asking yourself whether you’re wasting energy, space, and money by keeping your servers on site.

Check your overhead. All computers have an energy overhead, and in our experience most on-premises servers tend to be underutilized. Some of the most efficient network hardware costs an extreme amount of money and also requires large amounts of use to make them cost effective. Rarely can the average business justify such purchases, not just in money, but also in utilization. Using a managed hosting service that optimizes its networked hardware for maximum efficiency can help you save carbon while reducing your monthly energy bills.

Stay cool. Most on-site servers use consumer-level cooling systems, utilizing carbon-excessive air conditioners, fans, or possibly water cooling systems that tap into municipal supplies. Cloud storage centers, however, can develop custom cooling technologies that are much more efficient on a per-machine basis.

Understand your needs. We offer a revolutionary level of flexibility in server architecture to our consumers. For example, by customizing your data access and storage needs through our LEAP platform, we can greatly optimize your compute environment and consolidate server use. This helps you use what you need to run and grow your business, saving carbon emissions while keeping energy use low.

Back up smartly. Even if your main server is on the premises, you still have to worry about offsite backups to protect your company and customer data. Setting up a second server can multiply your carbon footprint and jack up your costs. Our virtual machine solutions are integrated with our already efficient server architecture to provide redundancy and diagnostic tools. We also offer standalone backup services for those who want to keep their primary servers close at hand.

Conclusion

Global warming won’t be solved by any single person, company, or even government. It’s going to take a lot of people all over the world working together to understand how their everyday activities affect the environment.

But every individual decision we make helps. We at SingleHop believe that most people are not merely mindless consumers of technology, but want to use technology to make connections with others so they can live richer, more fulfilling lives.

In the end, it’s about awareness. Hopefully this post has helped you learn more about a few of the ways you can make small strides in reducing carbon consumption through technology. And we know we can always learn more, too. We’d love to hear some of your own tips and ideas!

Footnotes

Berners-Lee, Mike. “An email.” How Bad Are Bananas? Vancouver: Greystone Books, 2011. EPUB file.
Bellona, David and Tash Wong. Tweet Farts. tweetfarts.com. Accessed Aug. 7, 2014.
“Carbon & Energy Impact.” Facebook. n.d. Web. Aug. 7, 2014.
Wilson, Jacques. “Your smartphone is a pain in the neck.” CNN.com. Sept. 20, 2012. Web. Aug. 7, 2014.
Wortham, Jenna. “Feel Like a Wallflower? Maybe It’s Your Facebook Wall.” The New York Times. nytimes.com. April 9, 2011. Web. Aug. 7, 2014.

Read more at http://www.singlehop.com/blog/how-green-is-your-tech/#GluAFTJShwsUF4WJ.99

10 Eco-Friendly Ways To Clean With Vinegar

Guest post from Christine Maddox.

We have a complete open door policy for guest blogs. If you have an idea for a blog, please email it to me, and if it fits our criteria, I will send you a complete submission guide. We post one blog per week, more or less.   jim.murray@ourgreendirectory.com

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Cleaning in an eco-friendly way can be both easy and inexpensive. One of the best eco-friendly cleaners is plain white vinegar. White vinegar acts as an antibacterial agent, removes bad smells, and helps to shine a variety of surfaces. It is safe to use on almost anything and around children and pets. Here are ten ways you can clean with vinegar:

Get stains off linoleum with vinegar. Apply vinegar directly to the stain and let it sit for ten to fifteen minutes. If stain is still there apply the vinegar again and then sprinkle with baking soda. Scrub the stain with a brush or cloth until it is removed and then rinse it clean.
Shine no-wax floors with vinegar. Just add a cup to a gallon of warm water and wash the floors for a clean, fresh smelling shine.
Clean the toilet with vinegar. Pour in a cup or more to the toilet bowl and let it sit for several hours or overnight. Scrub well and then flush for a white and scent free toilet.
Clean and open up a scummy or clogged shower head with vinegar. In a sandwich bag mix half a cup of baking soda with a cup of vinegar. Tie the bubbling bag over the shower head and let it sit for at least an hour after it stops bubbling. Then remove and run the water for a few minutes to clean out any residue.
Clean shower door or sliding door tracks with vinegar. Pour in white vinegar and let it sit for a few minutes. Then rinse with hot water and scrub with a toothbrush to remove any lingering build up.
Sanitize a sponge or loofa with vinegar. Let the sponge or loofa sit submerged in undiluted vinegar overnight. Then rinse well and squeeze out the moisture. Let it sit in the sun until dry and it should be germ, mildew, and scent free.
Clean the ring or film from your bathtub with vinegar and baking soda. Rinse out the tub with the vinegar and let it sit several minutes. Then scrub with a baking soda paste and rinse with warm water for a sparkling tub. This also works great on grout and tile!
Keep shower doors clean by spraying them with vinegar each time you get out of the shower. This will help to break down hard water stains and prevent soap build up.
Remove lime, calcium, and soap deposits with vinegar. Tie a bag of undiluted vinegar around lime coated faucets and let it sit for several hours. Then remove and rinse off.
Remove grease wherever it gathers with a vinegar spray. Just spray on and let it sit for a few minutes and then wipe off the grease.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: This post is contributed by Christine Maddox. Currently she is pursuing her Master’s degree from University of Texas as well as blogging for www.4nannies.com. She loves to write anything related to parenting, kids, nanny care etc. She can be reached via email at: christine.4nannies@gmail.com.

10 Reasons to Consider Aquaponics

This is a guest post from blogger, bAmanda Kostina.

Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture and hydroponics. The former concerns the raising of aquatic animals, while the later deals with growing plants or vegetables in water. By combining the two, aquaponics creates a mutually beneficial system where water and nutrients are recycled naturally. By feeding the waste water from an aquaculture system into a hydroponics system, essential nitrates and nitrites are created in a natural way. This leaves a clean, healthy environment for the fish, while providing nutrients for the plants. In this list, you will find ten more excellent reasons why you should consider a aquaponics system.

Weeding – With aquaponics, it’s simply not an issue. The systems don’t use soil or any processes that enable weeds. Without weeds, you can concentrate on growing vegetables and watching your fish grow. That means that you can say goodbye to that lower back-pain from constantly having to bend down to pull out weeds.
Reduced Space – In aquaponics systems, plants and vegetables are constantly fed through water and nutrients. This means that the footprint needed is significantly less than with traditional crop farming. As long as each plant is getting enough light, you can effectively grow plants in much closer quarters.
Artificial fertilizer – Forget about ever having to buy artificial fertilizer once you set up an aquaponic system. The only additional food that your plants will need is supplements to balance nutritional intake. However, not all systems will require an additional supplement, which means 100% savings on fertilizers. Most important of all is the fact that you can’t actual add fertilizer to the system, as it will kill any fish you have in the tank.
Faster Plant Growth – With a constant feed of essential nitrates, plants grow much faster in aquaponics systems. The level of output is also affected by the reduction in space, allowing the system to produce higher yields than traditional soil planting. Also, aquaponics systems are improving all the time, which can only mean that even faster plant growth will be possible in the future.
Water Reduction – All water in aquaponics systems is recycled. This means that your overall water usage will greatly reduced, which is good for both the environment and your pocket. There is little to no labor involved in the process, either. Apart from occasional top-ups and cleaning pumps and filters, you won’t have to lift a finger to maintain optimum water levels.
Organic Systems – Provided that you give your fish stock only organic feed, an aquaponics system is completely eco-friendly. You will benefit from only the most natural crops and plants, while your fish are fed on healthy organic products, too. This is a win-win for humans, plants and fish. You can’t always guarantee that store bought vegetables are organic, but you can with your own aquaponics system.
Sustainability – As your aquaponics system is effectively a self-sustaining ecosystem, you don’t have to worry about eroding resources. Once you determine the best level of production, you can maintain growth and output at a constant level. Soil systems, on the other hand, drain their ecosystem of resources, requiring you to constantly re-balance nutrients and the soil’s health.
No Pesticides – With soil, you have to use pesticides to prevent plants from becoming damaged or destroyed. As aquaponics does not use soil, related pests are automatically out of the picture. What’s more, your plants won’t be absorbing any toxins from pesticides, making for a much healthier crop.
Dollar Output – If you sell your crops, the increased yields from aquaponics will also increase your bottom line. With the huge demand for organic produce, you will find that your customer base will grow, too. Don’t forget that you also have fish stock, which means aquaponics potentially provides a dual revenue stream.
Labor Reduction – Less labor for you, less use of energy, and less time spent working in your garden in general. After you install your aquaponics system, you will notice a significant drop in the amount of time you spend slaving over gardening related tasks. This gives you more time to enjoy your garden, while still being able to reap all the rewards.

So there you have it – ten ways that you can benefit from owning an aquaponics system. Reduced labor, higher yields, healthier animals and plants, and more money in your pocket. With so many positives, you really have nothing to lose. Plus, with an aquaponics system, you always have the best of two worlds.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquaponics
http://www.backyardaquaponics.com

More good green articles can be founds at http://savings.whitefence.com

Attacking the Plastic Waste Epidemic Head On

We were very pleased to discover this organization called the Plastic Bank. 

It’s predicated on the idea that waste plastic, which is one of the world’s most daunting environmental challenges, possesses what they believe to be an “abundance of opportunity”.

Their site, www.plasticbank.org, lays out the argument in very lucid terms and you come away feeling that you are looking at a very well meaning and more importantly, well structured organization.  

We don’t have to tell you just how much plastic wastes is created in the world every single day. But it’s easily in the millions of tons. It’s something that concerns everyone and should. But the vision of this group is to create plastic exchanges all over the world and be able to sort and funnel this waste plastic to wherever it can be most easily re-purposed.

This is an admirable mission. And probably something that would be of great interest to a number of different types of recycling organizations.

The world is changing and it’s big ideas like this that helping that change be a change for the better.