Friday, June 18, 2010

Vapur Bottles

Have you ever finished your water for the day and are tired of carrying around the bottle? You could purchase a plastic bottle and throw it away when your done but you are more environmentally conscious than that! You don't want to contribute to the 50 billion water bottles already consumed in the United States or the 200 billion around the world. Only 23% of plastic water bottles are made from recycled products, so even if you recycle you are still creating waste.

Or could use the Vapur bottles also known as the “The Anti-Bottle”. The Vapur bottles are refillable, reusable bottles which collapse when you are done.The chamber for water folds up when empty then can fit in your pocket, small purse, or get hooked onto your backpack. Here are some features of the Vapur Bottles:

Safe- FDA approved with an inner layer that is odor, taste, and stain resistant

Easy to Clean- can be placed on top rack of dishwasher then air dried

Durable- can be frozen for ice pack or a long day

Identifiable- so you know which one is yours

The Vapur bottle is a great alternative to other reusable water bottles which can be bulky or hard to clean and clear choice over plastic bottles. In addition to all the great features of the product, they are extremely sustainable beyond the actual bottle. Vapur bottles are shipped empty and flat so they take up 90% less shipping space and fuel for transport in comparison to plastic water bottles. The packaging is printed using wind power on 100% post consumer waste. The company is part of the 1% For the Planet program which donates a portion of their sales to water-related environmental issues.

So when purchasing a Vapur bottle you are not only saving money by not buying plastic bottles, creating unnecessary waste, and creating more space in your personal belongings- you are supporting a green company. All in all, Vapur bottles are a great product for sustainability and with their donations to environmental causes there is no reason why you shouldn’t try their product.

The folks at Vapur are kind enough to send me a sample water bottle so I can test out the product for you! I can't tell you how excited I am to take it to the gym, running errands, or to the pool. Check back in a few weeks to see my review of Vapur "The Anti-Bottle" and in the mean time check out their website:


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Chipotle Going Green

Nope, I’m not talking about salsa! There is no doubt chipotle is an extremely popular fast food chain which is continuing to grow. During a recent visit, I realized how much Chipotle is committed to the environment from animals to using post-consumer waste to recycling.
First off, all meat served at Chipotle is raised naturally. The chickens are cage free while the cows and pigs are not given antibiotics or hormones. In addition to the better taste Steve Ells, the chairman and co-CEO of chipotle, remarks naturally raised animals “is better for the environment, better for the welfare of the animals, and better for the farmers who raise the animals.”

The to-go carriers are brown paper bag marked with a symbol which stated it was 35% post consumer waste. This means 35% of the bag was made from previously recycled goods. Not its 75% or 50% but it is a step in the right direction. The napkins were also partially made from post consumer waste as well.

Finally, the plastic crates food is served in are all recycled and reused. When throwing away your food, there is a special place to put the plastic bins. Instead of serving the food in one-use cardboard containers, Chipotle uses reusable plastic ones. The plastic bins are reused creating much less waste than other fast food outlets.

Overall, Chipotle is a company with a good social awareness for animals and the environment. In my opinion, the few extra dollars are well worth my health and helping the planet. Naturally raised animals, post consumer waste paper goods, and reusing plastic tray are some of the ways Chipotle is making strides to being a sustainable business.

Thank you for giving us another reason to enjoy our burritos!

Guest Writer on Solar Panels

I was beyond ecstatic when a reader wanted to share some of their writing with me! Meet Barbara, she started in 2008 in order to help those save energy through solar panels. Her slogan? "To help you get info to make the transition from a full-time energy dependent to successful energy efficiency." Below is the article she would like to share with my readers as well!

Here’s a fast approach to understand how solar panels work

What's solar power?

Solar power is radiant energy which is produced by the sun. Every single day the sun radiates, or sends out, an incredible volume of energy. The sun radiates more energy in one second than people have used since the beginning of time!

The energy of the Sun originates from within the sun itself. Like other stars, the sun is a big ball of gases––mostly hydrogen and helium atoms.

The hydrogen atoms in the sun’s core combine to create helium and generate energy in a process called nuclear fusion.

During nuclear fusion, the sun’s extremely high pressure and temperature cause hydrogen atoms to come apart and their nuclei (the central cores of the atoms) to fuse or combine. Four hydrogen nuclei fuse to become one helium atom. But the helium atom contains less mass than the four hydrogen atoms that fused. Some matter is lost during nuclear fusion. The lost matter is emitted into space as radiant energy.

It requires millions of years for the energy in the sun’s core to make its way to the solar surface, and slightly over eight minutes to travel the 93 million miles to earth. The solar energy travels to the earth at a speed of 186,000 miles per second, the speed of sunshine.

Only a small percentage of the power radiated by the sun into space strikes the earth, one part in two billion. Yet this volume of energy is enormous. Each day enough energy strikes America to supply the nation’s energy needs for one and a half years!

Where does all of this energy go?

About 15 percent of the sun’s energy which hits our planet is reflected back to space. Another 30 percent is used to evaporate water, which, lifted in to the atmosphere, produces rainfall. Solar power is absorbed by plants, the land, and the oceans. The rest could be used to supply our energy needs.

Who invented solar energy?

Humans have harnessed solar energy for hundreds of years. Since the 7th century B.C., people used simple magnifying glasses to concentrate the light of the sun into beams so hot they would cause wood to catch fire. Over 100 years ago in France, a scientist used heat from a solar collector to produce steam to drive a steam engine. At first of this century, scientists and engineers began researching ways to use solar energy in earnest. One important development was obviously a remarkably efficient solar boiler introduced by Charles Greeley Abbott, a united states astrophysicist, in 1936.

The solar hot water heater came into common use at this time in Florida, California, and the Southwest. The industry started in the early 1920s and was in full swing prior to World War II. This growth lasted before mid-1950s when low-cost gas had become the primary fuel for heating American homes

People and world governments remained largely indifferent to the possibilities of solar power until the oil shortages of the1970s. Today, people use solar power to heat buildings and water and to generate electricity.

How we use solar power today ?

Solar energy is employed in a variety of ways, of course. There are two simple forms of solar energy:

  •  Solar thermal energy collects the sun's warmth through 1 of 2 means: in water or in an anti-freeze (glycol) mixture.
  •  Solar photovoltaic energy converts the sun's radiation to usable electricity.
Listed here are the five most practical and popular solutions solar energy is employed:

 1. Small portable solar photovoltaic systems. We see these used everywhere, from calculators to solar garden tools. Portable units can be used for everything from RV appliances while single panel systems can be used traffic signs and remote monitoring stations.

 2. Solar pool heating. Running water in direct circulation systems through a solar collector is an extremely practical way to heat water for your pool or hot tub.

 3. Thermal glycol energy to heat water. In this method (indirect circulation), glycol is heated by the sun's rays and the heat is then transferred to water in a hot water tank. This process of collecting the sun's energy is much more practical now than ever before. In areas as far north as Edmonton, Alberta, solar thermal to heat water is economically sound. It can pay for itself in three years or less.

 4. Integrating solar photovoltaic energy into your home or office power. In many parts of the world, solar photovoltaics is an economically feasible approach to supplement the power of your home. In Japan, photovoltaics are competitive with other kinds of power. In the USA, new incentive programs make this form of solar power ever more viable in many states. A frequent and practical method of integrating solar energy into the power of your home or business is through the usage of building integrated solar photovoltaics.

 5. Large independent photovoltaic systems. If you have enough sun power at your site, you may be able to go off grid. It's also possible to integrate or hybridize your solar energy system with wind power or other forms of renewable power to stay 'off the grid.'

How can Photovoltaic panels work?

Silicon is mounted beneath non-reflective glass to create photovoltaic panels. These panels collect photons from the sun, converting them into DC electric power. The energy created then flows into an inverter. The inverter transforms the power into basic voltage and AC electrical energy.

Pv cells are prepared with particular materials called semiconductors for example silicon, which is presently the most generally used. When light hits the Photovoltaic cell, a particular share of it is absorbed inside the semiconductor material. This means that the energy of the absorbed light is given to the semiconductor.

The energy unfastens the electrons, permitting them to run freely. Photovoltaic cells also have more than one electric fields that act to compel electrons unfastened by light absorption to flow in a specific direction. This flow of electrons is a current, and by introducing metal links on the top and bottom of the -Photovoltaic cell, the current can be drawn to use it externally.

Do you know the pluses and minuses of solar power ?

Solar Pro Arguments

- Heating our homes with oil or propane or using electricity from power plants running with fossil fuels is a reason behind climatic change and climate disruption. Solar power, on the contrary, is clean and environmentally-friendly.

- Solar hot-water heaters require little maintenance, and their initial investment could be recovered in just a relatively limited time.

- Solar hot-water heaters can work in nearly every climate, even just in very cold ones. Simply choose the best system for your climate: drainback, thermosyphon, batch-ICS, etc.

- Maintenance costs of solar powered systems are minimal and also the warranties large.

- Financial incentives (USA, Canada, European states…) can aid in eliminating the cost of the first investment in solar technologies. The U.S. government, for instance, offers tax credits for solar systems certified by by the SRCC (Solar Rating and Certification Corporation), which amount to 30 percent of the investment (2009-2016 period).

Solar Cons Arguments

- The initial investment in Solar Water heaters or in Solar PV Electric Systems is higher than that required by conventional electric and gas heaters systems.

- The payback period of solar PV-electric systems is high, as well as those of solar space heating or solar cooling (only the solar hot water heating payback is short or relatively short).

- Solar water heating do not support a direct in conjunction with radiators (including baseboard ones).

- Some air con (solar space heating and the solar cooling systems) are expensive, and rather untested technologies: solar air-con isn't, till now, a really economical option.

- The efficiency of solar powered systems is rather dependent on sunlight resources. It's in colder climates, where heating or electricity needs are higher, that the efficiency is smaller.

Barbara Young