Essential eco-friendly fixtures to incorporate into your home

February 20, 2019 by  
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Being a steward of the environment means evaluating how many resources you and your family consume and consistently looking for ways to reduce your carbon footprint. The good news is that it’s pretty easy to make small eco-friendly fixtures to your home that can have a huge impact towards those goals. Water costs WaterSense, a federal program sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency provides information about the most water-efficient fixtures for your home. Look for a label that indicates the device has met the strict restrictions certified by an independent testing facility for the best water conservation and lowest water costs. Related: 10 money-saving tips for a green home Faucets The bathroom and kitchen faucets provide a convenience water source for washing hands, brushing teeth and cleaning dishes. With the ability to crank out significant amounts of water, most of the water you pay for heads right down the drain. Instead of free-flowing the cash out of your wallet, look into aerating faucet heads. They work by forcing air through the system, which provides good water pressure while using significantly less water. Look for a model with WaterSense certification and replace each faucet as they begin to leak or as your budget allows. Toilets Standard toilets are a culprit for much of the water usage in the average home. By replacing standard toilets with low flow models, you will see the savings add up. Basically these devices work by providing two flush options: one for solid waste  and one for liquid waste that uses about ? the amount of water. Doing the math, that will save you 25-33% on your toilet flushes alone. With a standard flush requiring around three gallons, that’s some big savings. Showerheads Low flow showerheads work in the same way as other water fixtures. In addition to the aforementioned aerating design, there are other options for slowing the flow in your morning shower. Shower heads equipped with a laminar-flow shower head that feeds individual beads of water through the holes, allows less water flow over all. Other shower heads use a flow restrictor, which allow more or less water through depending on your water pressure preference. Whichever style you choose, look for a shower head with less than 2.5 gpm (gallons per minute) flow rate and a WaterSense certification. Bathtubs Bathtubs are notorious for requiring copious amount of water. After all, submersion in a hot bath averages a consumption of around 30-50 gallons. Showers with a standard shower head, by comparison, use about 10 gallons every four minutes so calculating your shower time will help you evaluate the best water savings. If you’re a disciplined sort, keeping it under ten minutes, than a shower is probably the way to go, especially if you invest in a water-conserving shower head. If you just can’t seem to shut it down in less than 20 minutes, than a bath won’t cost you any more. Lighting One of the best conveniences in a modern home is the ability to flip a switch and bring light to nearly any room in the house. But each flip of the switch costs you at the meter. One option to lower those costs is to replace the type of switch you use. For example, dimmer switches allow you to set the bulb at a lower output level. Lower output means lower consumption and therefore, a lower bill. Timers are another useful option if your family tends to leave lights on frequently. A device that tells your lights to turn off at a specified time will keep the meter from running all day when they are not needed. Motion sensored lights also save money by automatically turning lights on when you enter the room and turning them off behind you when they sense inactivity. Of course, the bulbs you use also make a huge difference in the amount of energy you’re consuming. Traditional incandescent bulbs suck up significantly more energy than the more modern halogen incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light emitting diodes (LEDs) that not only require less energy, but also last 3-25 times longer. Look for the Energy Star rating on the bulbs you select and be sure to responsibly recycle old bulbs that contain mercury. Electrical costs Your day to day activities are reflected in your electrical bill, whether your house is powered by electricity alone or a combination of sources such as natural gas. The costs of heating, cooling and providing power to the outlets in your home add up quickly, so any changes you can make to reduce your usage will pay you back in the wallet and environmentally. Related: A renovated Toronto home boasts energy savings of over 50% Heating and cooling Heating and cooling costs make-up the lion’s share of every home’s electrical bill. Air conditioners and furnaces should be maintained for the best performance and replaced when they fail or when convenient to you. As your budget allows, swap out old systems for new ones that are more efficient and, of course, Energy Star certified. Although the unit is an investment up front, the savings long term are worth it. In addition, there are often local, state and federal tax credits that help offset the cost. Insulated windows and doors are another investment that can add up to huge savings. Energy Star models are much more energy efficient than those made even ten years ago, keeping warm air in and cold air out, which also equates to lower heating and cooling costs. Another relatively inexpensive fixture that can save you on your heating and cooling bills is an automatic thermostat. These smart devices are easy to find and install. By programming your thermostat to keep the temperature of the home lower during the night and when nobody is home, you avoid paying unnecessary heating and cooling costs automatically. Water heaters Another mainstream fixture that uses both water and electricity for heating is the water heater. By switching over to tankless water heaters, the average homeowner can save up to $100 per year. You can either install a central unit that provides on-demand water for your entire house, or you can use individual units, installed in each bathroom , kitchen, laundry, and other areas that require a water heater. These units work by only heating water as the faucet requests it, rather than keeping a huge tank of water heated and at the ready constantly. Images via Skitterphoto , 955169 , Karishea , TBIT

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Essential eco-friendly fixtures to incorporate into your home

Lawmakers are pushing gadget manufacturers with the Right to Repair movement

January 17, 2019 by  
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The amount of electronics that we are throwing away each year is growing at an exponential rate, and this toxic trash is hazardous to both people and the planet. What are we supposed to do when our smartphones or other gadgets stop working? According to lawmakers in the United States and Europe, there is one option that should be available instead of getting rid of them— fixing them. Lawmakers in at least 18 states— and the European Parliament— believe that manufacturers should make it a priority that their products last longer and are easier to fix, a movement known as “Right To Repair.” The 18 U.S. states include California, Washington, Massachusetts, Vermont, New York, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia. E-waste is the fastest-growing waste stream on Earth, says the Global E-Waste Monitor. In 2016, our planet generated 44.7 million metric tons of e-waste, and as more products continue to hit the market, the forecasts for future waste are projected to skyrocket. Experts say that by 2021, we are looking at 52.2 million metric tons of e-waste . As technology advances for electronics, DIY fixes for gadgets are a huge challenge for consumers, thus causing more and more consumers and politicians to demand a change to the  law . Related: Precycle, a zero-waste grocery store, opens in Brooklyn California Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman introduced the California Right To Repair Act last March, and her bill would require manufacturers to release diagnostic and repair instructions and make equipment or service parts available to small repair shops and product owners. “We should be working to reduce needless waste —repairing things that still have life—but companies use their power to make things harder to repair. Repair should be the easier, more affordable choice and it can be, but first, we need to fix our laws,” said Emily Rusch, executive director of CALPIRG, in a press release in support of Eggman’s bill. Environmentalists say the “Right to Repair” legislation would not only save resources, but will also reduce carbon emissions from the manufacturing of new products. While the act proves to be beneficial, it could, however, prove to be a considerable challenge to pass. Tech giants like Apple and Microsoft believe that users fixing their own devices could be a security risk to the user, not to mention, the fact that these companies would prefer that consumers continue to buy their new products. Via EcoWatch Image via Shutterstock

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10 Things You Can Do Today for the Environment

October 22, 2018 by  
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The recent report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on … The post 10 Things You Can Do Today for the Environment appeared first on Earth911.com.

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10 Things You Can Do Today for the Environment

Ricoh is determined in its zero-carbon vision

October 16, 2018 by  
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In Japan, the electronics brand stands out with its ambitious goal of eliminating greenhouse gas emissions.

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Ricoh is determined in its zero-carbon vision

How we can crash car culture

October 16, 2018 by  
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The best of live interviews from GreenBiz events. This episode: Transportation experts talk about how to decarbonize transportation, as emissions continue to grow.

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Can we innovate our way out of this mess?

October 16, 2018 by  
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There’s power in asking such questions — and creating the conditions for them to be thoughtfully considered.

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Can we innovate our way out of this mess?

Recycling Mystery: Should You Refill or Recycle Ink Cartridges?

August 1, 2018 by  
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From an environmental standpoint, reusing a product is almost always … The post Recycling Mystery: Should You Refill or Recycle Ink Cartridges? appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Recycling Mystery: Should You Refill or Recycle Ink Cartridges?

Recycling Stealth Electronics

June 11, 2018 by  
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The word “electronics” brings computers, DVD players and TVs to … The post Recycling Stealth Electronics appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Recycling Stealth Electronics

How a technology invented for mining could play a role in e-waste processing

April 18, 2018 by  
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Canadian company EnviroLeach wants to make the process of “urban mining” less hazardous for humans and the environment.

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How a technology invented for mining could play a role in e-waste processing

Geologists discover bacteria that turns small bits of gold into solid nuggets

January 22, 2018 by  
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Geologists in Queensland, Australia have discovered a unique type of bacteria that forges small bits of gold into solid nuggets. The discovery could allow mining companies to reprocess previously undesirable gold into market-ready products, and transform the ways in which gold-containing electronics are disposed. “In electronic waste, there’s a lot of gold,” University of Adelaide associate professor Frank Reith told Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) . “We need a technique without impact to health or community or environment to [recover] the noble metals that are in everyone’s smart phone or computer.” Current techniques to do so are not nearly as sustainable as they need to be, but that could change if the bacteria proves an effective scalable tool. In 2016, electronic waste, which includes disposed phones , computers, and televisions, contained $84 billion worth of recoverable materials, including $29 billion worth of gold. Reith and his team are collaborating with New Zealand -based Mint to craft a solution to this problem that utilizes the special gold-molding bacteria. “We’re working with electronic waste as a feedstock, and are piloting a process that uses microbes as a method of purifying precious metals from the mix of other metals that old circuit boards contain,” Mint chief strategy officer Dr Ollie Crush told ABC . Related: This jewelry is made with upcycled gold from Dell computers The bacteria works by filtering out other metals and piecing together gold nuggets, one grain at a time. The process of recycling gold could take between 17 and 58 years, which, in geological time, is no time at all. The process would need to be sped up considerably for it to be more widely applied throughout the world. However, the promise of capturing what otherwise would be lost wealth is enticing. “If you can make a recoverable resource from those parts, then you’re adding to the bottom line of any mine,” said Reith. Via ABC Images via Depositphotos and University of Adelaide

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