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SEPCO's blog on all things renewable and green

Wishing You a Wonderful Thanksgiving

Posted by SEPCO

11/28/13 8:30 AM

We here at SEPCO would like to wish you a wonderful and relaxing Thanksgiving.

  • Looking for a way to help the needy, check out DoSomething
  • Looking for something to laugh at, check out BuzzFeed or check out a few videos I put together (I'm sure you can find more to add, so please let me know what you find)
  • Looking for overall inspirations, check out Pinterest and Tumblr for lots of great ideas.

In the end, have a wonderful day with friends and family! 

Happy-Thanksgiving

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Topics: Holiday

Happy Hanukkah 2013

Posted by SEPCO

11/27/13 9:30 AM

Just saving the earth a little more and sending out a quick ecard on our blog to wish you all a Happy Hanukkah!
Happy_Hanukkah
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Topics: Holiday

Let’s Have a Green Thanksgiving

Posted by SEPCO

11/26/13 9:30 AM

Green-Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has evolved over the last couple generations. It has become more of a time of commercialism and less about giving thanks for all the wonderful things in our lives, friends and family. This year, we should all take a pledge to have a greener Thanksgiving and, instead of looking to what we can get, but more towards what we can give back. Whether we are giving back to others and our community, or lowering our consumption to lessen our impact on the earth, both will have a significant impact on the work, no matter how big or small. Remember, it starts with a drop in the bucket. Therefore, here are some great tips to help give back a little while keeping with a green Thanksgiving.

Buy Your Food Locally

Instead of buying all your groceries from some big box retailer, such as Wal-Mart, work on getting as much from local growers as possible. You will save on fuel costs, get much fresher and healthier food to feed your family, and help a local family in return by providing them business on this holiday. No matter where you live, there is always a way to find a more local alternative. And opt for organic and hormone free when you can since we need to also be looking at ways to have healthier foods.

Deal With Dishes

I hate dishes just as much as the next person, but using disposable plates and cups has a drastic impact on our environment. Plastics do not decompose and nor does Styrofoam. Instead, use your normal daily plates and silverware. Don’t have enough? Go to a local thrift shop and mix and match a set for holidays that can be stored the rest of the year. If you are determined to use throw away plates and cutlery, opt for decomposable or recyclable. I found a great site called Biodegradable Store that sells not only for the commercial customer, but you can order for household use as well.

Volunteer at your Local Shelter

Got everything started for that huge holiday dinner for your family? Ask someone at home to keep an eye on it for you while you go out for an hour or two to volunteer to help someone in need. You can even bring your kids or other family members to help. If you aren’t cooking, why not go volunteer till you have to arrive for dinner? Instead of just sitting around watching the parade and football games, go out and help others that don’t have that option. They will appreciate it and you will have a great sense of pride in the end.

And after all is said, don’t forget to give thanks to your friends and family. Remember what is good in your life, no matter how small. We all have something to be thankful this holiday season; you just have to look for it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Topics: Green Ideas, Holiday

Climate Resistance: How 3 Companies Fight the Good Fight

Posted by SEPCO

11/21/13 9:30 AM

Beyond the well-being of polar bears and state of melted glacial caps, the effects of climate change range far and wide. They touch all corners of the globe. They shift weather patterns, affect human health and diminish freshwater supplies.

How does climate change, that shift in global weather patterns that began in the mid 20th century, affect the way we do – or should do – business?

Climate plays an integral role in the ecosystems that occur naturally worldwide. Culture and human economy also rely on the average weather of a place. No matter what convention you go by when it comes to the source of climate change, if you're in business in 2013, it affects you.

How though? How does climate change alter the business you operate, work for, or rely on?

No company, regardless of Leeds certification status or green initiatives or global consciousness, can reverse climate change on their own. They can, however, delve into actions and behavioral changes that impact how they conduct business.

Here, are three companies who get it – and who get it done as they manage risks.

IBM_Smarter_Planet

IBM

The issue

IBM's eco-friendly awareness began well before most of ours did, more than 40 years ago. IBM, a global consulting and technology corporation, takes its heft as a world player to enact programs such as the Green Sigma Coalition, which seeks to reduce operating costs and construct efficient supply chains.

The strategy

IBM's sustainability approach is two-pronged: To attune its products and processes to efficient standards, and to create technology to aid a global effort for better accountability and environmental influence. The company keys on energy efficiency, manufacturing and distribution.

 The takeaway

IBM's efforts remind us that every business – regardless of industry or scope – is part of a global strategy of sustainability. This applies to everything from production to distribution to innovation.

Starbucks_Conservation_International

Starbucks

The issue

Erosion and pest infestation threatens coffee farm lands. Rainfall shifts and evolving harvest patterns in coffee-growing bioregions take a toll not only on available land, but also the economic communities nearby. Starbucks also is concerned with emissions from retail stores and roasting operations.

The strategy

Starbucks supports progressive climate-change policy, and assists conservation and restoration efforts in places such as Chiapas, Mexico; Minas Gerais, Brazil; and Sumatra, Indonesia. Starbucks connects farmers in these regions to government incentive packages for forest preservation and restoration.

The takeaway

Starbucks, through work with Conservation International, recognizes the shifting landscape of climate change, and how it can adapt its strategy to fit those changes.

recycle-repurpose-rewardVerizon

The issue

Energy conservation is paramount. Verizon, a broadband and telecommunications company, operates a fiber Internet network that reduces much of the infrastructure of the past. Carbon intensity reduction is important; Verizon also wants to ensure its top suppliers share its vision for maximum sustainability.

The strategy

Verizon customers can turn in old devices for new ones as part of a recycling program. Verizon Recycling Rallies have amassed more than a million points of e-waste. A 2009 initiative to reduce carbon intensity at cell sites and facilities and a 35,837-vehicle fleet by 50 percent by 2020 has reached 37.48 percent.

The takeaway

Internally, Verizon's green efforts are admirable, but it's the standards they set for top suppliers to also report on sustainability that go above and beyond. When industry heavy-hitters set those parameters, sustainable practice becomes a competitive advantage to those who participate.

About the Author: Christopher Beck is a sustainability consultant. Originally from Asheville, NC, he graduated with a degree from the University of South Carolina and is now pursuing a career trying to make the world a better, cleaner place.

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Topics: Green Ideas, Conservation

Documentary Review: Addicted to Plastic

Posted by SEPCO

11/19/13 9:30 AM

“The Roman empire may have been defeated by lead in their water pipes. I learned that we too might be risking future generations with the cheapest, strongest, most ubiquitous material ever invented. Plastic might be quietly poisoning us” – Ian Connacher. This is a great opening to a great documentary on plastic. Even though it was released in 2008, five years later it is still relevant.

I recently watched a documentary by Ian Connacher called Addicted to Plastic. This was a captivating journey over two years where Ian got to see the plastic that has collected all over the world in many remote locations. And throughout the film, you not only get to see the waste, but the beauty behind what the wasted plastic can become, and the jaded views of one of the marketing agents in the plastic industry.

 

 

In the beginning he lists all the things we use today made from plastic. Did you know polyester, rayon and foam are a type of plastic? There were so many things on the list that I never even realized was a form of plastic, and therefore, cannot be decomposed for thousands of years or longer. It seems almost everything we touch in our day to day lives is one form of plastic or another.

Did you also know that no organism can degrade plastic? The first place he visits is the Eastern Garbage Patch that is smack in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. He shows how this area of our water has become, what he calls garbage soup, and is just a floating island of plastic. Well maybe not that bad, but dirty enough that even Greenpeace has come out there to work on the Eastern Garbage Patch.

What makes up a large percentage of this plastic floating around in our ocean? It isn’t what you’d think. It is something called nurdles which are little plastic beads. These plastic beads are what form plastic is in the beginning stages of becoming something else. These plastic beads are eaten by most animal forms in the ocean and are taking up the water ten times more than organic food for the sea creatures.

 

nurdle

 

Dr. Jan van Franeker completes aviary autopsies to see the stomach contents of dead local birds. He studies this to see the impact of environmental changes and marine waste. You see, a fish can eat a small piece of plastic or a nurdle. The bird eats the fish, digests the fish, but not the plastic. This can then get lodged inside the bird's stomach or intestine. It is amazing how much pastic can be found inside a single bird.

In Tokyo Japan, Ian learns of the studies of Dr. Hideshige Takada. Dr. Takada studies the chemicals absorbed into the nurdles and has found that there are thousands more chemicals existing on each nurdle. These small little plastic beads become poison pills, killing most things that ingest them. The poison infects everything from sea life, animals consuming the sea life such as birds, to people who are eating the seafood. Doesn’t make that tuna steak seem so appealing now.

addicted-to-plastic-originalThere are places in the world that are doing something positive with plastic.

  • Denmark has a 90% plastic recycle rate.
  • Henry Sullivan of Houston Texas created the company Tie Tek which takes plastic in all shapes and sizes and builds railroad ties that can be used worldwide.
  • Agri-Plas take agricultural plastics and recycles them into new materials used in the agriculture industry.
  • Patagonia uses plastic to make its fleece products and will also recycle their fleece products into new fleece products. This creates a closed loop with their plastic usage.
  • Interface Carpet uses zero oil to create their carpet and can even recycle old carpet into new carpet. This allows for zero waste and does not create more unnecessary plastic products.
  • Uniquo Designs is based in Kenya and crochet, knit and weave handbags from recycled plastic bags and other fibers.
  • WastAway makes a fluff out of all trash by shreadding up the material into a fine material used as a supplemental fuel in the production of electricity, feed stock of biofuels or even as a potting soil.

That’s a lot of good impact in the world of plastic. But what else can we do? One person stated that we are the problem and we should provide the solution. We are already trying to recycle just about every piece of plastic that exists, but there is still a lot more in pollution than is getting recycled. And what about all the chemicals in plastic, such as BPA, that can make you sick?

There is a lot of research in making better plastics today. From completely compostable or water soluble plastic alternatives, to bioplastics, to Dr. Walkter Kaminsky’s process of pyrolysis that turns plastic back into oil. We are working ever so hard to create a world where plastic is no longer clogging up our world, but doing what it was originally intended for; helping us advance into the future. Can we live without plastic? Probably not very well, but we can do things to reduce or eliminate our waste and create a better world in the end. “It’s time to rethink our relationship to synthetic materials” – Ian Connacher

Img Ref: http://www.kinnelonconserves.net/Why-Is-It-So-Bad-.html

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Topics: Green Ideas, Recycling

America Recycles Day: What is it and How To Get Involved

Posted by SEPCO

11/14/13 9:30 AM

I was going through different green holidays and came across America Recycles Day. For someone involved in the green revolution for most of her life, I couldn’t imagine never hearing of this before. So I looked into it and figured I’d explain it to you. Maybe we can all work together and get more involved to make the world a little greener in the end.

America-Recycles

America Recycles Day is on Friday, November 15th this year. There are four ways you can get involved:

1. Join An Event

You can join an event in your community. When you click on the Join An Event link on the website, you will be presented with a map that you can zoom into your area and see what is going on nearby. If there isn’t an event near you that you can me, the next thing you can do is…

2. Host An Event

If there isn’t an event nearby, hosting an event is the next option. You can click on the Host An Event link on the website, enter in some information, watch the one hour training video and set up to register your event. This may not be the most feasible option this year, but would be a great idea for upcoming years.

3. Take The Pledge

If you can’t get to an event, and with the short notice to put together an event, you can at least Take The Pledge. You can do this as an individual or as a business. It is a simple form to fill out and if you don’t want your information to be public, you can submit as anonymous as well.

4. Find Recycling

Finally, if you can do one thing, Find a Recycling Center near you. And learn about all the different things you can recycle instead of throwing into the garbage. This will lower our impact on the earth just a little more as more people in America realize the need for recycling programs and all the wonderful things our trash can become.

Not in America? That’s fine. There are things you can do anywhere in the world to lower your impact on the planet. No matter where you are located, there is something that can be done to recycle your trash into something else. So let’s get the word out there and inform more people on the importance of recycling. That is the basis of America Recycles Day in the end. To learn more, go visit them online and see all the great information they have to offer.

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Topics: Holiday, Recycling

LED Lighting: A Natural Choice For Your Next Renovation

Posted by SEPCO

11/12/13 9:30 AM

When renovating a property, or part of your home, lighting is often an aspect which is left until the end. Planning ahead can give you the opportunity to update and even integrate your lighting, providing light where it is needed, and potentially reducing your bills in the process.

LED_Lighting_A_Natural_Choice_For_Your_Next_Renovation

What Is LED Lighting?

While you may have heard about LED lighting, you would be forgiven for not knowing much more about it than the name. People of a certain age will be immediately reminded of the little red lights used in electronics classes in school and may be possibly wondering how that is going to light your kitchen or bathroom successfully, but the technology has come on in leaps and bounds.

LED (again as you may remember) stands for light emitting diode, wherein the electrical current which passes through produces light by energizing the chips in the diode. Unlike conventional filament lights, more energy is produced in the form of light than heat thus making LED lights far more efficient. This LED lighting resource will take you through some of the reasons why this form of lighting is certainly worth consideration as part of your next renovation.

Lighting As A Design Feature

Whereas lighting was once a purely functional part of the design of buildings, it now takes on a far more aesthetic role, making an impact on the mood of a room, and affecting greatly how a space may be viewed or even used. Whilst lighting becomes more important in the design, it can also help to almost elevate certain buildings into the realms of artworks. Lighting can help to bring out other architectural or design features in a room, drawing the eyes to certain places. The versatility of LED lights can help to achieve this.

LED Lights Have An Extended Life Span

According to the manufacturers' guidelines surrounding LED lights, they can last for an incredibly long time. When used in the manner specified by the manufacturer, a light can last for up to 50,000 hours (which equates to over five and a half years of continuous use), which makes them ideal for use within the home. Whilst the initial installation of fixtures may cost more than conventional lighting, the extended life of the lights will balance this initial outlay.

Vastly More Energy Efficient

It almost seems like a weekly occurrence that one of the energy companies announces a price hike. As all of us look to conserve energy, whether for ecological or economic reasons, LED lighting can have a profound effect on the energy used to light your home. A vast amount of light is produced in return for a relatively small amount of energy used with an LED light, which is in stark contrast to filament lights which use only around 10% of the energy they need to supply light, with the other 90% actually producing heat.

Lighting In Specific Areas

Lighting produced by LED lights is very controllable and directional. This makes it vastly different to light produced by traditional bulbs, which is seen as omnidirectional. Light from an LED bulb can be focused and placed on a specific spot providing accent to a space. Contacting an LED lighting manufacturer can help you answer any questions not covered in this LED lighting resource. Whether changing your lighting for aesthetic or energy saving reasons, the versatility and efficiency of LED lighting makes it possibly the only serious choice when renovating your home or commercial building.

About the Author: James Holden is the digital content manager of Visible Lighting and has many years’ experience in the LED Lighting industry. To find out more information on James Holden, you can follow him on Google Plus.

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Topics: LED Lighting

Green Living: Your Checklist Creating an Environmentally Friendly Home

Posted by SEPCO

11/7/13 9:30 AM

Tree-WorldAs environmental awareness is flooding into our everyday lives, “green living” is fast developing into an economical trend and the good news is, being a good global citizen doesn’t require a huge amount of effort. The most minor changes around the home can result in beneficial changes to our planet, your own wellbeing and the happiness of your wallet. Now with green products and techniques no longer part of a boutique industry, the chance to plant your own footprint into making a difference has never been easier. Every little bit helps and there are numerous ways to effectively improve your home’s efficiency and live in an environmentally friendly home. Here are few to get you started:

Window Treatments

When greening your home the number one consideration is windows. Because much of your home’s energy loss is through them, ensuring you have coated glass or energy efficient curtains or blinds is important. Most window coverings offer some sort of insulation but others perform more efficiently than others, working towards lowering heating and cooling costs without compromising your décor and design. For those that want the best of both worlds, curtains and blinds, readymade roman blinds make for a fantastic choice giving the luxurious appearance of curtains combined with the mechanisms of blinds. The amount of light that enters the room can easily be controlled through the type of fabric providing an energy efficient solution. To keep your home cooler in summer it’s a good idea to make sure your east and west windows are shaded. The frame of your windows can also play a big part in green living as the commonly used material UPVC (unplasticised poly vinyl chloride) can release toxic compounds. Wood-framed windows are a much greener alternative – they are more insulated, easier to repair and last longer.

Green up Your Appliances

If your appliances are more than 10 years old, it’s a good idea to start working towards replacing them with energy efficient models that display the “Energy Star” logo. Every device normally has a label that shows how much power it consumes, so the old fridge out the back holding just a carton of beer could be costing you $200 a year. Once you have studied your power bill, cross checked with these labels, you will be able to figure out how much each appliance costs to run and whether replacing it would be a cheaper option. For appliances that don’t require replacing, make sure you do a regular check for leaky parts and get them repaired as soon as possible. This will help significantly on your water saving too.

Energy Efficiency Lighting

LED are the most durable and eco-friendly of lighting options. Not only will they save you on the power bills, but they are low maintenance and super pleasant on the environment. As opposed to standard halogen lights, LEDs consumer a fraction of the energy, providing more light and less heat and energy. Because of the significant drop in temperature from these lights, it lowers the use of air conditioning making it very cost effective.

Reduce Your Water Use

In most places, there are strict regulations about the use of water in place to take the strain off the environment. To reduce your water use, optimise your lawn watering schedule and adjust your sprinklers to minimise and waste. Running your washing machine and dishwasher only when they are full will also help in reducing water wastage.

Clean Air Conditioning

When you’re doing your regular spring clean, not many people will think to put the air con on the list of things to do – but you should. Cleaning out the filters of your air conditioning or replacing them regularly will ensure the airflow is doing its job properly.

Keep Your Garden Green

Creating compost is a great way to keep your garden even greener with its multiple eco-friendly benefits. Scraps such as eggshells, fruit and vegetable peels, tea bags and stale bread are the perfect food for your compost pile and can improve the health of your soil whilst giving back to the environment and controlling household waste. Going green isn’t a tough task to achieve and even just applying one or two of the above points can make a world of difference. What are you going to do to leave your imprint on the environment?

Author Bio: This article is written by Jayde Ferguson, who writes for Super Blinds Mart, a Perth based company offering energy efficient curtains and blinds.

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Topics: Guest Post, Green Ideas

Color Your Daydreams Green: Green Cars Based on a Fictional Car Crush

Posted by SEPCO

11/5/13 9:30 AM

It’s not always easy being green, especially if you like the supercharged cars from television shows like Supernatural, The Dukes of Hazzard, Knight Rider, or the sleek sports cars from the James Bond movies. But you can still have a healthy helping of your daydreams in real life and keep your commitment to an environmentally-conscious lifestyle.

Here are some possible car crushes you may have and the green car to match:

If You Want James Bond’s Cars….

And why wouldn’t you? Mr. Bond has driven an impressive array of cars over the years and it’s added to his allure and activities over the years. Who wouldn’t want to save the world in a fast car? Unfortunately, we’ll never have an all-electric Lotus Espirit or classic Aston Martin DBIII—perhaps the two most iconic Bond Cars in history. However, all is not lost.

What makes a Bond car? If one discounts the cars that Bond rides in or steals out of convenience, a clear pattern begins to emerge. The typical Bond car is fast, sleek, and built from high-quality materials (I would say built to last, but this is Bond’s car and his driving record is far from what the DMV would call stellar).

Tesla-Roadster...You Should Buy a Tesla Roadster or Tesla Model S

Tesla Motors bases their cars around Nikola Tesla’s original design for an alternating current motor—from 1882! And it still works, which is great for sports car fans who want to go all-electric. Depending on how accessible charging stations are, and what your personal preference is, choose either of these at a Tesla dealership.

 

If You Want KITT from Knight Rider

Do you too long to work for a private crime-fighting organization, speeding along in a fancy, intelligent vehicle? David Hasselhoff’s Michael Knight got to do just that, after a brush with fate got him reconstructive surgery on his face, a new name, and he became the first agent of ailing, eccentric billionaire Wilton Knight’s Foundation for Law And Government (FLAG). Michael and KITT (voiced by William Daniels, a.k.a. Mr. Feeney from Boy Meets World) drive around the country fighting crime for FLAG using KITT’s impressive accoutrements.

Prius…You Should Buy a Prius

A Prius? Yes, a Prius! The original car famous for being a hybrid isn’t quite up to KITT’s level of human conversation, but it does come with GPS, Bluetooth calling, and informational readouts (even if they are condensed into a screen rather than spread out like KITT’s dashboard). And, like KITT, the Prius is humble, with a quiet, self-assured confidence. In addition, its hybrid engine means no gas used when idling (and therefore no wasted gas or extra emissions).

Unlike KITT, you don’t have to be a FLAG agent to own a Prius—most car dealers from Utah to Maine, literally everywhere, sell current or used models of the Prius. And yes, it does come in black.

If You Wish You Owned the Batmobile…                                              

Oh, the incarnations to choose from! The 1960’s TV series modeled their Batmobile on a Lincoln Futura, but there aren’t any cars quite like the Batmobiles featured in the 90’s TV series and the Tim Burton Batman movies.

Except when there are.

MercedesElectric…You Should Buy a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive

It doesn’t have the rocket burst or Bat Missiles, but check out the design. The long hood is especially reminiscent of the elongated, almost Packard-like Batmobile from the early 90’s animated series, is it not?

And the best part is, this car is all-electric and gets up to 124 mph and goes 0-62 mph in 3.9 seconds. Who needs a rocket engine or Bat-Spoiler on the back?

If You Enjoyed The Italian Job…

Whether you care more for the original Michael Caine flick from 1969 or the 2003 remake as Mark Wahlberg & Co. exact revenge on Edward Norton’s treacherous character, there’s something about this movie about honor among thieves that is universally beloved.  

As the thieves descend on the money and make their getaway in gridlock-friendly Mini Coopers, everyone can agree that a car so cute has never looked so fierce.

MiniE…You Should Buy a Mini E

Production was limited and there were some problems, but Nevada-based Hybrid Technologies has been working with BMW to fix them. And if you can, find an electric version of this little marvel, the work it absolutely worth it.

Having fast-paced, car-chase daydreams don’t have to clash with your commitment to being environmentally conscious.  Hopefully, these options can direct you toward the eco-friendly car of your dreams.

About the Author: Lucy Markham is an avid blogger and, as a recent homeowner, considers herself a bit of an expert on all things home improvement, gardening, and home decoration. Her Car Crush is a Tesla Roadster.

Img Source: NY TImes, Conceptcarz, AutoBlog Green, Popular Mechanics

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Topics: Guest Post, Fun Green Articles, Green Cars

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