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Friday, August 27, 2010

What Are You Willing To Give Up...

... for a greener lifestyle?

Sometimes I cannot help but wonder: are we all just talking green without really changing our old (bad) habits?
We all want to stop climate change, we all want a healthy environment and we all want to leave our children and grandchildren a planet that's still livable.
But what are we willing to do to achieve all this?
I feel like everybody talks, but only few are actually acting green.
Let's take a look at some everyday activities:

  1. Shopping I. Ever thought about doing shopping without a car? It's possible! If you have children, use the stroller as a cart and bring the groceries back without having to carry them. A bike can also hold lots of things, as can the good old backpack. Oh, and don't forget your bags (also for produce!).
  2. Shopping II. Did you ever buy something just because it was cheap? Or because it just looked so cute at the time? Stop doing it. Not only will this help your wallet, it will also support the planet since most of those spontaneous buying lands in the landfills sooner or later. Shop wisely and start frequenting second-hand stores (as they're called in Europe) - you'll be surprised at how much quality stuff you can find there.
  3. Getting around. Again, it IS possible without a car. Either with public transportation or by bike or per pedes - good for your health, good for the planet.
  4. Summer heat. Are you willing to reduce or ugh, even cut your air conditioning? I know it can get very hot - but somehow people were able to deal without AC just a few decades ago...
  5. Food. How convenient are you? Think about how many times per week you consume processed, prepacked meals that need tons of energy for production. Also, how many animal products do you eat? Keep in mind that livestock produces MOST of the CO2 emissions worldwide. Cutting out just one animal-packed meal per week per person would make a huge difference.
  6. Water. Still buying plastic water bottles? Please reconsider. First of, you pay way too much. Second, think about the environmental impact of all these plastic bottles (which mostly end up in the landfills and oceans with horrendous results, not in recycling) - switch to simple glass or stainless steel bottles  and a good filter system instead.
  7. Eating out. Doesn't matter whether we talk about school lunchboxes, work lunches or eating out, think about the packaging and the content. And think big, meaning don't just look at your small family, think about the millions and trillions of people who pack their lunches every day. Avoid disposables (everything that's pre-packed, juice boxes, plastic cutlery, napkins) and pack real food with real accessories instead. It's healthier for us and for the planet!
  8. At home. Yes, it is convenient to have some lights on all the time. Yes, it is fun to take a bath every day and yes, it is easy to throw just a few things in the dryer to get something dry right now. It's easy because we can do it. But it's time that we realize it's not smart to do it. Not at all. Too much wasted energy, and also wasted money. We need to rethink our actions and adjust to more sustainable and greener habits.
  9. Oil. Yes, oil. It's an everyday thing. Not only for cars (but yes, cutting down on driving definitely helps here, too). Oil is used for almost everything in our everyday live, from plastic over cosmetics to medicine. I don't need to talk about the Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico to remind you of the dangers of our dependency. Cutting down on everything that contains oil will help here. Check your labels. Cut down on plastic. Walk a little more. You get the idea.
As long as we're just talking, but still have the AC running day and night, still drive everywhere, shop like there's no tomorrow, use disposables for convenience and eat the way we ate for the last years (meaning a ton of animal products as well as processed and prepared foods) not much will change.
What are you willing to give up?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Some Facts About Wind Energy

"Wind energy" or "wind power" describe the process by which the wind is used to generate mechanical power or electricity.
Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy in the wind into mechanical power, which can be used for specific tasks like pumping water, or a generator can convert this mechanical power into electricity to power homes, businesses or schools.

Here are a few wind energy facts that you may or may not know. Too often people forget that wind energy might be a potential alternative source of energy. Here's why wind power should not be overlooked:
  • Wind energy is a form of solar energy, and is therefore renewable. 
  • Wind does not need to be produced, like ethanol does, therefore there will always be a constant supply of it.
  • Wind energy is very expensive to set up. It requires significant amounts of capital to establish wind farms. After the initial investment and startup costs, however, it is one of the cheapest forms of electricity generation to maintain.
In 2005, wind accounted for 1% of the total electricity production in the world. The United States was third in utilization of wind energy, with Germany being the leading producer. According to the Department of Energy, offshore wind farms could provide enough energy to power the entire nation. Clearly what we see here is that we have barely touched the amazing capabilities of wind power, and we can expect to see wind power become a massive source of renewable energy in the U.S., and around the globe.

What we are starting to see is through these wind energy facts is that we have not taken wind energy seriously enough. There is an incredible amount of energy that can be generated through the power of wind. Until we realize just how awesome this energy source is, we will be left to worry about rising fuel costs and the problems that fossil fuels create for humans, animals, and the environment. Let's hope that wind energy is taken more seriously on a global scale.

(Source: Energyrefuge.com) 

Here is the promised short video of the 4 powerful wind mills in Freiburg, Germany:

video

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Did You Know That...

"[...] enough wind power blows through the Midwest corridor every day to also meet 100 percent of US electricity demand."

Al Gore, July 2008

Hi everybody,
I'm writing this post in Germany's green capital Freiburg. This city really has it down when it comes to green living.

A few days ago we took a hike in the nearby mountains. We walked for about 5 hours and the first impressing thing was that I noticed three (3!!!) pieces of junk in the forest during those hours.
The second one was the proximity to three windmills - never in my life did I come any closer to windmills. Oh my god! I could almost feel the power.
Hopefully people all over the world start to realize how GREAT these are.
Check back soon for more information on wind energy and a short video of the Freiburg windmills.

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