Friday, February 27, 2009

Environmental Ways To Save $$$

Yep, I've seen and experienced firsthand how devastating this economy can be to our bank accounts and wallets. Good for you though, that I have kept a long running archive of old posts of fast, easy ways to both help the environment and save money! I selected the few that I felt were extremely simple and doable. Why don't you try one tip each day of the week, and keep the ones you like?

1. Choose local foods. This was one of the first posts I wrote on this blog! It's a tried and true method.

2. Choose the real white meat. Again, a very easy and simple change to make. I actually did quite a number of calculations for this post - a dedicated blogger, no?

3. Avoid individually-packaged products. Buying bulk is the way to go!

4. Unplug electronics. Don't let that sneaking vampire energy catch up with you and drain your money.

5. Organize your fridge. Most people would never think to look in here for money savings, but it works.

6. Take cold(er) showers. Now that's it is starting to get warmer in many places...

7. Use passive solar power.

8. Remove unnecessary items. From your car, that is.

Keep in mind that these are only some of the ways to save money. If you are feeling adventurous and want a full list, go to the sidebar with all my tags and click the one that says "save money." I hope this little compilation helps you! If I have forgotten anything that you can think of, please comment below.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pros and Cons: Wind Power

Remember when I wrote the pros and cons of nuclear weapon?

Well, today I would like to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of wind power, an up-and-coming alternative energy source. It's one of the lesser known sources of energy, but yet I think there will be many opportunities in the future to utilize it.

Basically, the energy comes from spinning wind turbines. As the wind blows through and turns the turbines, electricity is generated. I'm not too familiar with the details, but that's the gist of the operation.


1. It's definitely renewable - infinite, you could say. I don't believe that we'll ever run out of wind (and if we do, we have bigger problems to worry about).

2. Little if any pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions. Besides the emissions caused by the construction of equipment, this energy is green and clean.

3. Wind power is pretty safe - there aren't really any risks involved.

4. Can produce power anywhere where there is wind, so the U.S. wouldn't have to be dependent on a foreign source.


1. It can't produce enough power on its own, because the wind isn't always blowing! I guess you could say it is reliant upon the weather.

2. Dangerous to birds. Birds can get caught in the turbines. However, I think this harm to animals is a lot less than the harm ultimately caused by fossil fuel usage.

3. Something called "visual" and "noise pollution." Basically, these "wind farms" look ugly and produce noise. It's not that much of a disadvantage in my opinion, but I guess my mind could change if I lived next to a wind farm.

So, to sum it up, wind power isn't really that bad at all, but it can't stand alone as an energy source. I think a combination of wind, solar, and hydroelectric power would probably be sufficient, though we'd probably need some type of heavy duty power source such as nuclear power to rely on until the other sources become widespread.

So, what are your opinions on wind power? Do you believe it should be a part of our energy future?

This image is from Green Energy Online.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dispose of Batteries Properly

Did you know that you can't just throw away old batteries into the trash? Batteries contain heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and nickel, which can be harmful to the environment.

According to Environment, Health, and Safety Online, batteries can cause many environmental hazards such as:
  • pollute bodies of water when metals vaporize into the air when burned
  • contribute to the metals that leach from landfills
  • expose the environment and water to lead and acid
  • cause burns and danger to the eye and skin
Actually, metals leaching from landfills is a serious matter, and batteries are a major contributor. 88% of the total mercury in landfills is from batteries. If you've ever been told to beware of broken mercury thermometers, you know how dangerous this metal can be.

So, what can you do with your old batteries? On the same site I listed above, there is a big table with all types of batteries and what you should do to dispose them. Some of the options include recycling, hazardous waste collection sites, etc.

Also, I thought I should mention rechargeable batteries. Though these are still made of the same metals and materials, they obviously can be used many times and therefore if you make use of them you will not have so many batteries to try to get rid of! We have some at home and it's quite easy to charge them up, actually - just stick them in the charger for a while until the light turns green. But make sure not to mix them with regular batteries!

This image is from Bristol Batteries.

Technology and the Environment

I've had lots of thoughts on this topic recently. Does the high-tech equipment that we use in our lives now benefit or harm the environment? For example, has the rise of the Internet age reduced paper usage? Has it increased energy demands?

At my school, every single student is provided with a laptop computer, supposedly with the purpose of cutting paper usage by allowing students to take notes and complete homework on the computer. However, I have found that our school still uses a ton of paper. Many teachers demand that all work be handed in as a "hard copy" instead of virtually. Likewise, many students dislike reading off of a computer screen and ask for a printout instead.

The printers in our school library are always jammed full - people rush to print out large documents such as powerpoints. When the printer does not immediately respond, they become impatient and print multiple times to each printer, not only slowing down the printing process but wasting loads of paper in the process.

Our ecology club manages all the recycling in the school and we have noticed that the recycling bin by the printers is ALWAYS incredibly full. Well, at least the paper is recycled, right?
Plus, factor in the amount of electricity needed to power all of the laptops, and the impact of manufacturing the machines and their chargers and cases.

So, do you have any experiences with technology and its impacts on the environment? Any thoughts?

This image is from

Saturday, February 14, 2009


I'm sure everyone is aware of recycling - computer paper, bottles, and cans are the main items that my school Ecology club concentrates on, but there are many other materials and ways that you can recycle.

Have you thought of:
  • Peanut butter jars?
  • Plastic yogurt containers?
  • Junk mail?
  • Rubber tires?
  • Plastic bags?
Of course, you have to be aware of the items that your local recycling plant will take. For example, the one in my area will not recycle milk jugs or cardboard juice/soy milk cartons. Just check the little number inside the recycling symbol to see what kind of product it is. Some stores, including Kroger, have bins located outside the stores that allow you to recycle plastic and paper bags, so I guess now you don't have to feel guilty about using plastic.

Some facts on recycling:
  • According to the EPA, each of us uses a 100-feet-tall pine tree per year for paper and wood products
  • Recycling 1 ton of paper saves 17 mature trees, 7000 gallons of water, and over 4000 kilowatts of electricity (enough to power an average American home for 5 months!)
  • Recycling paper instead of making new paper creates 74% less air pollution and uses 40% less energy
Recycling is the least all of us can do to help the environment. No additional effort is required on your part - just place the items in a bin. Most municipalities have recycling programs and work just like garbage pick-up.

Have you ever been surprised to discover something was or was not recyclable?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Buy Organic Meat

There's this magazine called Natural Awakenings that I pick up for free from my local library. It has all sorts of good environmental articles. The edition I just got has a really great article about how we should buy organic meat and dairy. I would like to share with you some very persuasive reasons why.

  • Animals raised under the category of organic cannot be fed antibiotics, genetically modified foods, growth hormones, or other such drugs. These animals eat organic feed. They are shown to be significantly healthier than non-organic animals.
  • There is usually more humane treatment for animals on an organic farm. They sometimes are free-range, unlike factory animals which are treated like objects and trapped in small pens or cages.
  • Sustainable farms recycle nutrients by using manure as fertilizer. However, industrial farms produce so much of this manure and usually don't utilize it so it becomes a health risk, able to contaminate wells and waterways.
  • A lot of organic agriculture uses methods such as crop rotation to improve the fertility of the soil instead of synthetic fertilizers. Read my post here to learn about the dangers of too much fertilizer.
  • Organic farms use 70% less energy than factory farms. Buying from local farms also reduces the energy used by transportation. Check out my post here to learn more about buying local.
Organic meat does cost more, I will admit. However, that is just another incentive to eat less of it. If you want to know the reasons that we should decrease meat intake, click here. So, what do you think about organic meat? Does the cost outweigh the benefits?

This image is from Electron Blue.