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!


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.


Greenifying: The Presidency

April 8, 2011

Have you ever listened to the President's weekly speeches?  I listen to them every weekend and I want to pass along a few words to you: sustainable, alternative energy, environmentally responsible and stewardship. 

These speeches are a long-standing tradition dating back to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt who delivered his weekly address via radio to a weary and tired nation and called them "fireside chats."  The country was troubled and economically depressed.  Roosevelt comforted the people by speaking to them. 

The White House speeches fell silent for awhile, but President Ronald Reagan revived it to tradition status once again and President George W. Bush moved it to the Internet with podcasts.  President Obama began putting out his speeches early, during the transitional period immediately after he was elected and through his inauguration to the present. (Over the years, the opposing political party has added their own weekly "response" speeches which are equally welcome.) 

In these speeches, you can hear the substance of what the President who speaks cares about and is committed to.   And whether you favor Mr. Obama or his political opponents, listening to these speeches, you can't help but be impressed with the man's commitment to environmental issues.   

On a weekly basis, he talks about the need to find alternative energy sources, to cut America's dependence on foreign oil and to find answers to both economic, business and environmental problems through American ingenuity.  He repeatedly says he believes that creativity and ability will find new paths and develop new solutions to any issues.  It's also a tradition of U.S. presidents to believe in Americans and American know-how.  It's good to see that tradition is changing, evolving and becoming a little greener.


Earth Day 2011

March 24, 2011

Earth Day 2011 is coming up next month and if you haven't taken a moment to get involved, this is the moment to spring into action.  

This year's theme is organized around A Billion Acts of Green®: Personal, Organizational and Corporate pledges to act sustainably. A Billion Acts of Green® is the largest environmental service campaign in the world and has organized 45 million actions to date.  

The elements of Earth Day 2011 will include Athletes for the Earth, which brings high profile Olympic and professional athletes to utilize their star power in support of environmentalism; the Canopy Project, which supports global reforestation; Green Schools, which hopes to greenify America's schools within the next generation; Creating Climate Wealth, which will gather 200 of the world's entrepreneurs to work on climate change and create a greener economy; Women and Green Economy(™), working to engage women in creation and development of global green economy; and Arts for the Earth, which celebrates the environmental artists of the world and hopes to make museums more sustainable. 

But those are just the big name projects.  Consider that Earth Day could be the opposite of a Lenten-style holiday of sacrifice.  Instead of giving up something, perhaps you gain something.  Instead of giving up mileage on your car, you gain a rider (or two) in a car pool. Instead of looking at bare walls in your office, add some plants or a miniature tree.  Instead of spending money on air conditioning this summer, add a fan and keep the air moving to save on electrical power usage. 

A Billion Acts of Green® can start in your office or home as you greenify in small ways.  Because with our Earth, every little bit helps this year and every 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.


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.


100 days and counting...EARTH DAY 2011

January 12, 2011

Mark your calendars now! April 22, 2011 is quickly approaching. In just 100 days, millions of people from around the world will celebrate the 41st Annual Earth Day. The focus of Earth Day is to raise awareness of and support our environment and eco-friendly habits. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin was the principal founder of this event which dates back to 1970. It began as a nationwide grassroots demonstration on the environment intended to inspire gratitude for and consciousness of the Earth’s environment.

Earth Day festivities and events will be held here in the United States in major cities such as: Washington, DC, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Dallas and Miami. Additionally, there will be Earth Day celebrations held locally in schools, community centers, and colleges around the world. In central Ohio, Green Columbus, a local nonprofit responsible for coordinating and mobilizing the largest volunteer turnout for Earth Day service projects in the country, has chosen Lighten Up as this year’s Earth Day theme.

The time is now to start thinking about your Earth Day plans and efforts to Greenify. This blog marks the first in a series dedicated to this global environmental celebration. Check back soon for the next installment of Green Business Alliance’s Earth Day blog.


Water Bottles: Greenifying Your Life a Sip at a Time

July 16, 2010

You know how much I dislike bottled water, right?  I think plastic water bottles are second only to plastic grocery sacks in polluting our world and packing the landfills.  They waste space, resources and are generally a bad idea.  Bottled water isn't as good for you as water straight from the tap, particularly for children, because bottled water doesn't provide fluoride needed to protect teeth and keep your mouth healthy.  

That said, I do support the idea that drinking water is much healthier for our weight-challenged, overly stimulated society that needs to stop sucking down sugar carbonated drinks and even fruit juices (except in moderation) that lack the natural nutrients and fiber of eating the fruit out of hand.  So what's a person to do?

For months, I've been using the same plastic bottle that I recycled after being given the refreshment at a public event.  The plastic is a little thicker than most bottles, which makes it better for reuse, but means the manufacture of it required even more natural resources. 

I was at a gathering in Washington, DC two weeks ago (“Women Deliver,” which is an international women's and maternal health conference) as a member of the press and was given a “goodie bag” that contained a spiffy reusable metal water bottle.  It was green, so you know I loved it instantly!  I was fascinated because it is about a 20 ounce bottle, complete with a water-tight seal at the opening and a loop in case I want to carry it around my neck or at my belt line.  

I was thinking, “Wow, this is convenient!  And look, the convention put its logo on the outside so that everyone will know where I got it.”  And what a great marketing idea!

So think about it: last year, we talked about putting your name and logo on reusable shopping bags.  They were inexpensive, easily printable and the “oh-so-trendy” way to advertise your greenifying efforts to both current and potential customers. 

This year, people are using the shopping bags you've offered.   Cities all over the country are emphasizing reusable shopping bags, cutting down their pollution (is there anything worse than seeing those plastic bags on the side of the road or in a body of water?) and feeling better about what they're doing for the environment. If you made and provided these bags, you're a part of that good feeling.

Now step in and get ahead of the pack by considering putting out some reusable water bottles.  You can find a manufacturer or use one of these:

http://www.kleankanteen.com/

http://mysigg.com/

You can also get reusable plastic water bottles that are environmentally friendly and have no unhealthy side effects:

http://www.nalgenechoice.com/index.html

Ordering these bottles is a slightly more expensive option for putting your logo out there, but doing it now will put you a step ahead of the pack with your efforts to Greenify.  And it's a great way to continue to feel good about the way you're advertising your green business status. 


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. 


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