Eastern European Leaders Want Climate Standards Eased

October 24, 2008

At a recent summit, leaders of eight Eastern European leaders pushed for a “less is better” package of climate standards, saying the current schedule of reducing greenhouse gas emissions will overburden their economies during the current downturn.

The Eastern European countries said the EU has to balance the wish for cleaner air against their “need for sustainable economic growth" at a time of "serious economic and financial uncertainties." They want to back away from greenification of the planet that we all share, to greenification of their countries finances.  The countries involved — Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia — released a joint statement on the issue.

"We can't say we'll get an agreement by the end of the year if our conditions are not met," said Mikolaj Dowgielewicz, Poland's European affairs ministers.
The recent financial turmoil has triggered fears of a global recession that make governments fearful of trying to get major polluters such as energy generators, steel makers and cement producers to pay fees in a “cap-and-trade” emissions scheme. (“Cap and trade” is when governing bodies set levels for emissions and any business that exceeds its cap trades or pays for extra allowances.) The proposal before the EU’s governing board would impose euro50 billion/US$68.8 billion a year in polluter fees. All of the EU’s 27 governments, including the eight countries challenging the proposal and the European Parliament have to approve the plan in order for it to become law. And many countries, some with more advanced democracies, say this is not the time to renegotiate. 

Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin said the plan on the table now "represents the best possible compromise" and should not be changed. But the Eastern European leaders said their economies have made great cuts in carbon emissions since emerging from communism in the late 1980s and that "should be recognized" now. EU governments have been negotiating the package to Greenify during the past year, and it is hoped that any agreement would be endorsed by the end of 2008, and enacted by 2009.

In order to Greenify our planet, we will all have to make changes.  That includes Eastern European countries and their smaller but growing economies, as well as in our own struggling businesses and homes, which may prove a challenge during an economically difficult period.


A 'Cool' Way to Greenify

October 22, 2008

Have you looked in the company refrigerator for ways to Greenify?  That old fridge may be making things more comfortable for your employees, but sucking the life out of your efforts to make your company greener.
 
A refrigerator is one of the highest energy consuming appliances in most workplaces.  So let's talk about how to lower that energy bill. 

First off, consider where it is kept.   It's rather like Goldilocks and her three bears: it shouldn't be too hot, too dry, or too humid. Keep away from windows so that it's not exposed to sunlight. 

Also make sure there is plenty of room for ventilation around the unit.  About 4 inches on each side and in the back, with 11-12 inches clearance above.
 
Make sure the door isn't open too often.  And also go around the rubber seals once a month with a warm, sudsy cloth to ensure the seals work better longer.  If the door isn't completely close, you are wasting energy.
 
Defrost your refrigerator regularly.  A thick layer of ice forming in the freezer can lessen energy efficiency as the compressor has to use more electricity to keep the refrigerator cool.  Doing this will also prolong the life of the appliance.

And don't overload the fridge because that cuts off the air circulation, lowering efficiency and eating up electricity.  If you're going to be away for awhile, clean out the refrigerator, unplug it, and open the door.  You can extend the life of your refrigerator, lower your bills, and help Greenify all by checking what's in the fridge.


Go Green for The Holidays!

October 20, 2008

Have you thought about how sustainable giving could Greenify your business' holiday season?  Going green for the season means more than just putting up a tree. (We'll talk about that soon enough!)   But first let's consider your annual corporate gift giving?  If you plan now, there are new and better ways to give back to the environment. 
For instance, Renewable Choice gives you the opportunity to invest and promote projects to Go Green.  "Choice Bundles" are unique gifts that invest in wind power development and other forms of carbon dioxide reduction projects that "offset" to help leave the planet a little cleaner and greener for everyone.

At $25 per individual / $55 per family gift, they offset the price of home electricity, auto and flight emissions, even the cost of charging laptops and cell phones.

Another option for the more cost conscious among us are environmentally friendly shopping bags.  You can have them printed up by any of various companies with your company's logo or holiday greetings or both. 

Both of those gifts will need to be ordered well in advance, so start now.  But if you're going to need last minute Greenification gifts, we recommend memberships to any of the environmental groups we've known for years such as…

www.audobon.org (your donation can "go to the Birds!")

www.nature.org (protecting nature. preserving life)

www.sierraclub.org  (Outings with a cause!)

www.arborday.org  (your donation plants trees!)

www.worldwildlife.org  (concern for animals)

www.edf.org (The environmental defense fund)


Joining these groups and help us all have a green holiday season for years to come.   And if you haven't already, give yourself a great gift by joining the Green Business Alliance and help Greenify your office or home for years to come.


New Car? No Thanks!

October 13, 2008

Word that a new vehicle that gets 65 mpg will soon Greenify foreign shores but not be offered to car-loving Americans was a bit of a shock, wasn't it?  We all want to Go Green, and the reasons why we won’t get a chance at 65 mpg seemed murky at best.  The facts: the car runs on diesel and Americans consider diesel both smelly and dirty, also the auto is built in Europe and considered too expensive to ship to the U.S.
 
But what about saving fuel the old fashioned way?  Can we do it even without a pricey new car that gets great mileage but strains our already-pained pocketbooks? 

How about if we Greenify the old-fashioned way?  Using a meal plan to organize our grocery shopping will optimize both time and gas consumption.  If we plan our meals, we can make do with only one trip to the store per week, down from three or four or even nightly grocery shopping.  It may not seem like a lot, but those little stops can add up and detract from energy savings.

It also may be time to get a bike for those short hops around the neighborhood.  Get on the bike to call the kids to dinner.  Adding a little exercise may subtract a few dollars from our weekly gas consumption, but it can also subtract pounds. 

And carpooling is on an echo wave.  Where else can you find time to get to know your friends and neighbors better, while conserving energy?  Pick the right carpooler and you’ll find yourself arriving at the office less stressed out and with a better outlook on the day and week ahead.

Do all these things and you may save as much money as that 65 mpg vehicle would have offered, while keeping your dependable older car and realize savings there, too.  And using a product completely fits our Greenifying goal, too.  


Greenify your Life: Keeping It Old School

October 10, 2008

The “good old days” weigh heavily on modern life, don’t they?  In some ways, people didn’t think about how to Greenify.  They went around polluting without giving a thought to the need to Go Green.

But they also didn’t throw things away as readily.  It wasn’t a disposable society.  So let’s borrow a few thoughts from our parents.

When was the last time you went to a library?  These days, some of us buy every movie that comes out without thought for the fact that we rarely watch a movie more than once or twice and that the technology is moving so quickly that we’re now moving from standard DVD’s to Blu-Ray discs and making all those old movies obsolete in the bargain.  (With one billion DVD players out there, consider the impact on landfill alone.)

How about we go back to the library system?  We reconsider reading.  Borrowing instead of buying saves on paper, ink and printing costs.  Libraries are free and they are gateways to an old fashioned pleasure.  Of course in many modern libraries, there is a DVD section.  We could also borrow DVD’s from friends and swap them around readily. 

Maybe it’s time to go back to the old neighborly practice of borrowing power tools and other appliances?  It cuts down on your garage clutter and your carbon footprint, while at the same time adding to good feelings in the ‘hood when you return them on a timely basis.


Carbon footprint of six every day products

October 8, 2008

Do you ever wonder what the carbon footprint is of a gallon of milk or a fleece jacket or a six-pack of beer? If so, there was a very informative article in Monday's Wall Street Journal (October 6th). It was the cover story of the Environment Report section. Jeffrey Ball took an in-depth look at the carbon footprint of six products. Six Products, Six Carbon Footprints. Products we all know and probably use. Do you have a guess at how many pounds a Prius emits? What about laundry detergent? To find the answers to these questions and more read the article. You may be surprised at the carbon output of some of these products. Enjoy!


Hand Dryers vs. Paper Towels

October 1, 2008

Hand dryers are probably one of the least popular ways to Greenify a business.  They are loud, users think dryers leave skin without natural oils, and that they sometimes seem to take forever to work.  But they should be among the most popular ways to go green with business owners.  Why?

One report estimates that for the average fast food restaurant’s restrooms to use paper towels for a year requires the wood product equivalent of 9 full grown trees and creates 1000 pounds of landfill waste in that same time period.  During the same timeframe, operating a hand dryer saves as much as 80% in energy costs, plus landfill fees, plus lowering labor costs because hand dryers don’t require maintenance.   

And we should point-out, hand-dryers are a changing, evolving asset that itself is growing greener day by day.  The newest models claim they save even more energy (cutting operational costs as much as 98%), drying hands in 10 seconds or less, and providing greater hygiene than ever before.

In fact, a Canadian study claims that the warm air blown across the skin surface does slightly dehydrate the skin, which leads to a decreased ability for microorganisms to grow and penetrate the tiny crevasses on the skins surface, where as absorbent towels may not provide the same protection, even though the skin appears dryer.
There you have it: easier on the environment, lower energy and labor costs, faster and more hygienic, too. 

What could make a decision to Greenify better?


Go Green – Go Local!

September 29, 2008

We are seeing how going green and “buying local” can have unexpected benefits to our health and certainly take a lot of stress off our minds.   And in spite of growing emphasis on the “Global Marketplace,” current news events make greenifying a more obvious choice for the health and environmentally conscious.

The case in point is the mountain concern surrounding milk products in China where at least four children have died and tens of thousands have been sickened by cow’s milk tainted with melamine and possibly other toxins that got into the milk and other products made using it.

More than a dozen countries have now banned or recalled Chinese dairy products and the European Union has barred Chinese baby food items made with even trace amounts of dairy from the Asian giant. Even now, the tainting “scare” is now spreading to various popular candies and other items.

Consuming more local foods can help us contain our concerns about countries with less government supervision of their products.  Last year, there were similar concerns among children’s toys and other products as well as contaminated pet foods imported from foreign countries that sickened animals and put children at risk.  

Many times when we go to the grocery store, we are offered a choice for regional “farmers market” or organic products which can be more expensive; or a cheaper imported product produced in a foreign country where quality assurance cannot be easily ascertained.

When we buy local, we help local economies, encourage farmers and agribusiness within our own borders, are assured of governmental oversight and safety standards of any such products, and of course go great by shrinking our “carbon footprint” with greatly reduced shipping costs.

And in this case, we might prevent illness that will require years of recovery.


Ways to Greenify Your Office: #1 Start at the Top

September 24, 2008

There are lots of ways to greenify your office.  Let's go through them, one by one, with a few how's and why's on each way we can choose to Go Green.

 

Probably the first and most obvious tip is the one Dad taught you about greenifying: turn off the lights when you leave the room. 

 

We've all driven through a business district at night and wondered at the lights shining from inside the buildings.  How many people were literally burning the midnight oil? Or were they were merely burning through the bosses' money by leaving lights on?

 

Those thousands of office lights left running unnecessarily not only increase the cost of doing business in the form of higher energy bills, they cost home consumers more as power companies are forced to more and more electricity to cover increased consumption.  Plus all those lights left on overheat rooms which then require extra air-conditioning. (With standard light-bulbs, only 10-15% of the energy used is consumed as light; the rest produces heat.)  And certainly all that use makes light bulb manufacturers happy, too.  So click 'em off.  Install sensors in bathrooms and timer lights in supply closets. 

 

And if you haven't already, get some real savings on lighting by switching from incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs which use about 75% less electricity.

 

Your greener planet will thank you.


Greenify Your Shipping Methods

September 12, 2008

Did you know that the box that you check to indicate your shipping preference can have an impact on the environment? A recent on-line shopping site I was perusing had a box in the shipping section that said "Go Green Go Ground." According to Onlineshoes, "ground shipping methods use about 1/8th less fuel than similar air or expedited methods."

While making a choice to go green with your shipment method, they offer one more piece of advice. Go Green and Get it Faster. Ship your package to work. They give three reasons to ship your good to your office rather than your home. 

·      Your delivery is more likely to arrive safe and secure at a business address.

·      You'll get it on the first delivery attempt.

·      Less fuel will be used. Business districts are usually closer to shipping centers, so carriers can deliver more items in a shorter distance.

The next time you are greenifying your purchases by shopping on-line, consider greenifying your shipping method as well. Happy shopping!
 


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