Unplug Phantom Electricity

January 29, 2012

Did you know that many electronic devices and appliances, such as cell phones, PDAs, computers, printers, faxes, microwaves, dryers, copiers, televisions and more, consume energy even when turned off? While you sleep, when you go away, while in your house and even when you are not, these appliances are using small amounts of electricity and costing you money. This phenomenon is known as phantom electricity. It can actually cost your business or home a significant amount of money each year.

You may ask why a device or appliance that is turned off is actually using electricity. The answer is that when you turn an appliance, cell phone, computer, or monitor to the ‘off’ mode, it doesn’t actually turn completely off. Rather, it goes into a sleep or rest mode. While ‘not on,’ each device or appliance uses small amounts of energy in order to be ready to instantly work when it is switched back to the on mode.
 
In order to avoid phantom electricity usage, think about items that are plugged in to an outlet that you do not use frequently. Unplug them after each use. For devices or appliances that are used more regularly, consider plugging them into a power strip which when switched to the ‘off’ mode is actually not consuming electricity. The simple act of unplugging frequently can save you some money at home and work while reducing electricity waste and helping our environment.
 
Start a new habit…unplug!


Major League Baseball Goes Green at All-Star Game

July 14, 2011

From a LEED certified stadium, to RECs (renewable energy credits) to public transportation vouchers, recycling and more, Major League Baseball took many steps to integrate environmental stewardship into their recent All-Star Break at the Arizona Diamondback's Chase Field. 

For the complete story about MLB's effort to Greenify, click here http://www.huffingtonpost.com/allen-hershkowitz/the-greenest-all-star-gam_b_896259.html?ir=Sports.


Happy Earth Day 2011!

April 22, 2011

Green Business Alliance would like to wish our members and visitors all the best for this Earth Day 2011!! Best wishes with your environmental resolutions to Greenify your business, home and fun this coming year.


Don't Have a Cow?

March 3, 2011

I want to point out a type of small business that is coming up on the horizon that is so utterly green that you might want to chew it over.  It's called a "Meat Share."  If you're vegetarian, please look the other way while we discuss this interesting aspect of carnivorism. 

A "Meat Share" is when a group of interested meat enthusiasts get together and buy  a cow, then draw lots for shares, allowing a fair and equal distribution of the meat products to all participants. 

If the organizers are careful in their selection, this also allows them to search out locally bred and organically raised, grass-fed, leaner but still tender healthier cuts of beef at a better price than one can generally get by shopping in the best stores.  Imagine getting the greenest beef possible without the overhead cost and carbon footprint. 

The article that I read (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/22/AR2011022202701.html) about a Washington, DC duo wanting dry-aged, locally produced, grass-fed healthier beef, set out to procure it for themselves.  They needed other participants and set out to gather them, making it fair for all involved. In doing so, they've educated themselves and the other participants about farm production techniques, best practices in butchering and procurement and even beef cooking techniques.    And they got bargain prices on highest quality beef to boot.   

Last night as I walked through the meat department at a certain national warehouse store, I checked out the prices on some of the cuts.  Even here, the "Meat Share" idea had merit as their prices would have resulted in savings here. 

We're not suggesting this idea can replace the big grocery chains right now.  But it's an idea for a small side business that provides a great benefit both financially, health-wise and in green living, too.   

And if you're a vegetarian, this is a reminder that it's time to consider the flip side: which Community Share Association will you participate in this summer?  The blossoms will be on the vine before we know it and Greenification is in the air.


A Plastic World

February 22, 2011

If there was one thing you could do to make your business green this year, it might be to eliminate plastic packaging.  Whether we're talking about a clamshell that conforms and protects the product, some "popcorn" that you pack it in or the bag you send it home in, we all know we have too much plastic floating around our world. 

We use billions of plastic bags, bottles and other debris that end up in landfills or in the ocean.  We've all seen reports on the news about this problem.  We've read of the problems caused by unrecycled plastics (and the vast majority of it goes unreclaimed) that logically, we can't defend ourselves against the accusations of waste.   

Plastic is made of chemicals, often utilizing petroleum products in its manufacture.  It's not biodegradable.  The plastics in the ocean form debris fields, known as "gyres.  Anna Cumins co-founded "5 Gyres Institute" to study solutions to the situation, and says plastics are a problem, "In the marine environment because plastics are designed to last forever.  They don't break down, they can't be digested by marine organisms" and they persist in the ocean for thousands of years."  Think about your future "ocean views," and the image forming is a bit depressing. 

Until we can find a solution (biodegradable, non-petroleum-based, low-carbon packaging and other convenience products?) we're  contributing to it daily.  So what can we do?  Use less. 

Here at Green Business Alliance, we want you to succeed and we know that reasonably, we can't demand you change, but we can ask you to alter your practices.   If your product goes out in a clamshell, look for smaller clams on your next order.  Use less plastic, while keeping an eye out for alternative packaging in the future. 

Sending your product out with popcorn packing?  Consider the lowly bag of air packed around many items currently. Or can you help recycle newspaper by packing it around some items?  (Put up a sign asking for donated newspapers to recycle and see if that doesn't bring in a few new customers!)  

And when your customer buys a product, wrap it up to go in… nothing.  It's alright to send items home with the sales receipt and a grateful smile.  We've proven that customers will pay more for "green" products and packaging.  Think how grateful they'll be to not pay more.   

We may not have the solution to our plastic world yet, but we'll find it.  And until we do, we can Greenify by slowing down plastics consumption piece by piece.


Chevrolet Volt: A Green Success Story

January 31, 2011

We want to point out the latest business Greenification success story.  The Chevrolet Volt is sparking interest even though it's barely entered the American marketplace.   

You remember Chevrolet, right?  They are one of those American automakers that have been so troubled for years.  When Asian carmakers offered better made, smaller, more economically-minded (and greener) cars, they rolled out minivans.  When European automakers offered luxury, American automakers gave us SUV''s.  And when the recession gave us all headaches, they sent us the bill.  We wondered if they would ever recover.  They seemed unable to hear the call to Greenify.

But the Volt is evidence that they can.  Volt is evidence of what our President said in his 2011 State of the Union speech: We Do Big Things.  It's a 16-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery vehicle with a 1.4-liter 16 valve, 4-cylinder, in-line gasoline engine that sips gas from a 9.3 gallon tank.  Worried about pick-up?  It has front-wheel drive and does a peppy 8.8 second zero-to-60.   

And it's putting all that "go" into car shows right now, too.  This past weekend's Portland International Auto Show was packed with car and driving enthusiasts, flocking to the electric cars, hybrids and other green vehicles.  

One of the most popular booths was the Portland General Electric booth, where customer representatives report a lot of questions about one point: how much will it cost to charge an electric car.   

Reports suggest the cost will be about $1.50 per charge.   That charge on a Volt will get you 40 miles, added miles at about half the cost of a gallon of gas.   

Also intriguing?  This isn't a car for nerds.  And instead of being a drain on the company, it may revive Chevrolet's brand all over the world.  Wall Street Journal reviewer Dan Neil had this to say: 

"A bunch of Midwestern engineers in bad haircuts and cheap wristwatches just out-engineered every other car company on the planet."   

Those are karate chop words for some other car makers.   

Unfortunately, there are only about 4 car dealerships offering the car currently.  Just getting on a wait list may take awhile.  But what a turn-around this was for Chevrolet and American business in general.  It proved that it can be done and this is a great success story for pursuit of the Green Dream.


A Year of Green Business

January 19, 2011

Four tree sitters were removed and arrested from a forested area in Arcadia, California in early January.  They were trying to prevent the removal of scores of trees as part of a dam improvement project.  They were escorted out of the forested area and immediately taken into custody.  They were booked on suspicion of delaying a peace officer and trespassing.  

These are four very dedicated environmental activists.  Whether you agree with their actions or not, you can do as much or more this year to constructively to Greenify in your own business.    

This year, you can choose to reuse your computer paper, printing on both sides of each page and then recycling the results after it serves the purpose.   You can offer a price break to customers who use electronic billing.  If you haven't already set up electronic payments, you should do that, too.  You can keep a sweater at your office and encourage your employees to do the same.   

You can walk in the public restroom and check to make sure the faucets are turned off and that no precious water is being wasted. 

You can put plants in the front windows.  They'll insulate against cold in the winter and heat in the summer and create more oxygen.  Plus they create a soothing, more relaxed atmosphere at work.   

These ideas are just for starters.  But these are things you can do starting today and we'll have more ideas for you as the year goes on.  And remember, you don't have to go out on a limb to Greenify your business.


The Stairs – a Green and Healthy Choice

September 7, 2010

Believe it or not, there are more beneficiaries of Greenifying than simply our environment and your business. Some Green steps can directly impact your health. For instance, let’s examine your method of transportation to and from work. Yes, if one is able to bike or walk to work rather than drive, obviously the reduced emissions from the vehicle benefit the environment. Engaging in aerobic activity in lieu of driving a car for your commute benefits your heart and body.

Here is another easy way to help the environment while helping your heart. Stairs! If your office is above the first floor, take the stairs rather than the elevator. Walking up to your office will burn some calories while at the same time save the electrical energy used during each push of the elevator. It may not seem like a big sacrifice (unless, of course, your office is on the 90th floor!) but the rewards are both healthy and environmentally beneficial. On average, a 3 minute walk up the stairs burns about 25 calories. Greenify – for the environment, your business, and your health!


Greenifying Gadgets: Thermal Imagery

May 28, 2010

I have to quit saying that I'm not a fan of gadgets.  Here it is, two weeks in a row where I'm blogging about an electronic device.  I'm a little surprised at myself, but the one that I spotted today shows every promise of helping you and everyone you know (because you'd share, right?) save on their energy bills. 

It's called a “Thermal Imaging Home Inspection” device.  Can you imagine?  Something that can magically look inside your home and tell you if and where you are wasting energy. 

This is an item so new that you may not have heard about it, but what it does is measure the temperature hot and cold spots of a house or other building.  It is not cheap; a good unit can run for $6000.  But if you find the right real estate agent, you'll pay $150-300 for the inspection.  And think about what it could save you: hundreds in power bills for the home you're in and thousands in negotiations with a home you're interested in buying.  Or take it to the office and have a look around there.  The savings potential there is almost limitless.

It works like a very intricate digital camera.  Just aim the device a house and see where the heat is leaking out or where cold temperatures or water are getting into the house.  This device is so sensitive that it can spot dangerous wiring, non-functioning heat vents and mold are located. 

What to do with this information?  Some of these problems can be fixed with simple improvements like extra insulation, new outlets and rewiring areas that can dramatically reduce energy bills. 

“The home owners are actually seeing savings of about 20 to 22 percent off energy costs, when they button up and sela up their house,” according to Real Estate Expert Sherri Vandervort.

Other possibilities?  Could this be the new business that you've been looking for?  Invest in a unit and become a “thermal energy use inspector” on weekends.   At $250 per inspection, you're just 24 inspections from paying off the investment and after that, it's all “Greenifying as a business” ahead for you. 


Recycling Gallon Jugs

May 25, 2010

Has there every been anything as easily recycled as a gallon jug?  Seriously, think of all the different ways you know to recycle a plastic gallon jug.

When I was a kid, we didn't get milk in gallons.  My parents were health conscious and they bought powdered milk in square cardboard boxes.  The plastic gallon containers were, therefore, somewhat rare and sought after at their farm in the western United States.

If a plastic gallon jug did somehow manage to arrive at my parents' house, it circled the farm two or three times before leaving the property for the landfill in the back of my Dad's old truck.  Here's a few of the things that we used them for then and now.

Outdoors:
Refilled with more water to carry in a vehicle
Cut-off tops put over newly planted seedlings to offer “mini-greenhouse”
Cut-off bottoms used to carry water to those new seedlings
Bottoms used to line hanging planters to keep water in

Indoors:
Jugs recycled to hold fruit punch for kids going on picnics
Jugs used to hold portion of laundry detergent for convenience
Jugs used to hold rice, beans or other dry foods that need protection from pantry pests
Cut off the top and use it to hold kitchen implements, sewing accessories, craft supplies, crayons, etc.
Cut a hole in the bottom and make into a bird house
Cut hole in the side and tuck in skein of yarn, pull the end of the skein through the pour spout

I'm sure you have more ideas on this at your house, so please fill us all in on the comment section below.  If we all combine our efforts to Greenify, we'll get many more uses from our household plastics before they go off to be recycled into new goods.


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