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SEPCO's blog on all things renewable and green

Let’s Make Earth Hour 2014 Bigger and Better Together

Posted by SEPCO

3/25/14 9:30 AM

Earth_Hour

Every year I post about Earth Hour and every year I join in, but do you? What can we do this year for Earth Hour to make it even better? Check out this year’s video and see some of the amazing things that have been accomplished so far. I’m excited to see what this year will bring.

Maybe turning your lights off for an hour once a year sounds small and minor, but it is the impact around the world that makes Earth Hour such a great movement. It shows your community your dedication to preserving this planet and that you stand for improving our lives.

This year, I’m going to do something more. I’m going to get my neighborhood involved. Passing out flyers and having people over to hang out by a fire is a great way for you to talk about issues affecting our world as a whole and ways that everyone can work together to help fix them. Maybe next year I can do the neighborhood next to us as well.

What about you? What can you do differently? Can you gather your friends and family together? Or what about going to a local Earth Hour event if there is one nearby? There are so many ways you can participate, but make sure you do something and take a stand for something you believe in.

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Topics: Green Ideas

How to Go Green without Really Trying

Posted by SEPCO

3/20/14 9:30 AM

Going green might seem like a complicated, cumbersome ideal that’s just a little too far out of your comfort zone. But it’s not something that has to take a lot of energy if you don’t have a lot to expend. Here are a few simple ways to go green without really trying.

Buy the Right Light Bulbs

This is a simple enough way to go a little greener all over the house. When you need to replace the light bulbs in your home, do yourself a favor and buy the florescent bulbs instead of the standard. They use 75% less energy than the incandescent variety and last much, much longer. They might be a little pricier up front, but they’ll more than pay for themselves—and your home will be a little greener for it.

Watch Water Use

Next time your showerheads need to be replaced, go for the low-flow option. You’ll conserve water in a big way, which will reduce your water bill as well as be environmentally friendly.

Teach your children to brush their teeth with the water off. Letting the water run while they scrub wastes an inordinate amount of water (up to five gallons a day) that could be saved simply by twisting the tap.

Only run the washing machine and dishwasher when they’re completely full. Half-loads aren’t as efficient, and you’ll end up running more loads than necessary.

Turn_off_ComputerTurn It Off

When you finish with your electronics for the night, turn them off. Unplug printers, computers, the TV, the DVD player, etc. If you can, plug them all into a power strip and then just switch it off every night before you go to bed. Turning off the devices all the way will prevent phantom power draw.

So instead of just leaving your laptop open and running, put it to sleep if you’re going to be away from it for a while. Turn off your phone at night instead of leaving it on all night to waste battery life. It will hardly take an effort on your part, and it’s just that much greener.                                                   

Permeable Paving

Your house can and should be just as green as your lifestyle. That isn’t to say that you need to install solar panels (although these are getting to be both more plausible and popular) or live in a tree house, but it can still be environmentally friendly. Next time you need to get your driveway repaved, consider forgoing the traditional asphalt or concrete and having permeable paving installed instead by your local paving company. Vancouver and Minnesota residents might need to have their roads repaved more often than cities in warmer climates, but the idea is the same no matter where you live.

Permeable paving is made of substances such as glass or permeable concrete that allow water to filter through it, keeping the surrounding lawns moist. They cool faster and require little maintenance. These materials are a little pricier but might be worth it in your quest for simple ways to go green.

Grow_a_GardenGrow a Garden

This idea takes a little more work, but if you plan on growing a garden anyway, you’re not any worse for wear. If you’ve been toying with the idea of planting a garden and just haven’t gotten around to it, make 2014 the year you try.

Gardens are an excellent way to “go green.” It doesn’t have to take up half your yard—any size, even a few tomato plants in pots, will make your meals a little healthier and reduce your “carbon footprint.”

Slow Down

When you drive, slow down a little. Higher speeds use more gas, so if you can afford to take a little extra time on your morning commute, it might be worth it. Checking the air pressure in your tires on a regular basis will also contribute to better gas mileage, as will keeping your air filters clean. Consider carpooling to work if you can to reduce emissions. None of these changes are life-altering, but the positive benefits add up.

Green Grocery Shopping

When you shop, spend the extra cash to buy natural or organic goods. They’re not as cheap as the produce grown with chemicals and hormones, but raising awareness of the health and environmental benefits of organically grown foods will make a difference.

Bring your own bags to carry your groceries. Reduce your use of paper and plastic bags (that only go straight to the landfills after you trash them at home). You can find cloth bags anywhere—many grocery stores even sell them in an effort to promote greener living.

Remember: your entire lifestyle doesn’t have to change to go green. Just be aware of the little things, and before you know it, you’ll be living just a little greener. 

About the Author: Georgiah Cook has a passion for finance, education, and the environment. She recently had her own driveway repaved, which set her on another “green” streak. For more information, visit Superior Paving. Georgiah also loves biking, hiking, and people-watching at the beach.

Pics: Wiki Acer, Wiki Garden

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Topics: Guest Post, Green Ideas, Fun Green Articles, Conservation, Recycling

Recent Advances In Green Technology

Posted by SEPCO

3/13/14 9:30 AM

Solar_System

Attempting to make the world an improved and pollution-free place to live is not a straightforward task, and there are no settled principles. This is one of the tests we confront when making, executing and depending on different sources of energy; since no single source of energy is 100% 'clean'. Nonetheless, year-after-year we continue to make great strides along the difficult road to environmentally responsible energy sources.

As temperatures increases and population gets bigger, it’s clear that green engineering holds the way to the survival of Earth and all the species that live on it. Luckily, innovators all around the globe are endeavoring to create headways that will slow down or perhaps reduce the harm caused due to our over-reliance on fossil-powers.

According to Liberty Power, in a few cases, progress in green technology is dependent upon new discoveries and developments in science, physics and engineering. On the other hand, these advancements have been dead set generally by shift in thought processes. However, the thought of "green’’ is gaining popularity among people.

Several recent innovations are based on a century-old concept: that of using tidal power to generate electricity. Harnessing this renewable resource is rapidly becoming more practical and cost-effective. In the area of solar power, the use of copper-indium-gallium-selenide compounds in solar panels substantially increases the electrical power generating efficiency of these panels, plus the compounds make construction of the panels far easier. Bladeless wind turbine designs, based on the physics of ships sails, are expected to significantly reduce the number of deaths of birds and bats. Wind turbine technology is also continuing to evolve.

Some innovative advancement in green technology are as follows:

Marine Renewable Energy: Marine renewable energy works by harnessing the power of the ocean tides and currents; a continuous source of kinetic energy that can be used to power turbines which in turn produce electricity.

Solar Power: The sun provides enough energy in the form of light to supply the world with much more energy than we currently use globally.  Certain materials produce an electric current when exposed to light, and we can harness that current to generate electricity.

Algae-Based Biofuel: Algae is a simple organism ranging from single-celled to multi-cellular forms, and is typically thought of as a kind of plant due to its ability to perform photosynthesis. Using chemical and mechanical methods, oil can be extracted from algae and converted into fuel that acts in the same way as traditional petroleum fuels

Green Roof: Different countries are rapidly adopting idea of keeping their roofs planted with grass. It not only minimizes the heat effect but also reduce summer air conditioning usage.

With this transformation in green technology it is expected that we would not only be able to generate enough energy to fulfill our needs but also keep our planet safe and healthy.

Author’s Bio: Adam Prattler is an expert in geography and writes from time to time for different information sources. He is also fond of natural beauty so much that he prefers to have fake grass around his house since natural cannot grow.

Photo Credit: www.greenerideal.com

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Topics: Guest Post, Green Ideas, Solar Power, Renewable Energy

20 Small Eco-Friendly Steps to Save Money Long Term

Posted by SEPCO

1/30/14 9:30 AM

business_(more)_eco_friendlyIn the current tough economic climate, people often leave environmental concerns by the wayside. Most directors don’t consider steps to turn eco-friendly as essential to the running of the company. Trimming costs often takes priority over anything else – however, what most don’t realise is that lowering expenses and turning eco-friendly are not mutually exclusive processes.

This is a misconception that is really costing our planet (and your bottom line). After you’ve read the following tips, taking the steps to turn your business into an eco-friendly powerhouse will seem like an absolute no brainer. These investments will not only help the environment, but you’ll be saving your business truckloads of money. Sure, some require an initial investment but over time you will make that money back multiple times over.

1. Minimize Printing
Try and instil a culture where printing is used as a last resort. Encourage your employees to communicate by email, send meeting notes as Word documents and send faxes online instead of using a dedicated fax machine.

2. Use Environmentally-Friendly Paper
Let’s face it; we can’t completely eradicate printing. If you still find yourself having to hit that Print button, make sure you’re using the right kind of paper. Don’t just look for a random recycling logo (it’s often just a gimmick), but instead opt for PCW paper as it’s guaranteed to be made with fully recycled materials.

3. Print Double-Sided Documents
Encourage your employees to utilize as much paper as possible before discarding into the garbage or recycling bin. This can reap many benefits in paper consumption and costs.

4. Use Biodegradable Soaps & Cleaners
Not only is this much better for the environment, but also for the general safety of your workers. Cleaning products that are more natural with minimal ingredients may also prove to be cheaper in costs as well.

5. Utilize Plants in Your Office Space
At a glance, this may seem like a visual aesthetic (which yes, it may help with), but in terms of health benefits, it may be advantageous. Plants carry natural pollen and allergenic absorbents that help workers breathe easier and become less sick, especially during allergy season.

6. Buy Energy Star Appliances
New appliances have placed energy consumption at the forefront, cutting down on environment impact. Invest in Energy Star appliances that will cut down your bills, even if they are a little expensive. Over time, it’s worth it.

7. Renewable Energy
While it is true that installations such as solar panels will require an initial outlay, you will save your company money over time. If you’re not in a place that gets a lot of sunlight, your options aren’t completely limited. You can also consider using wind power, for instance. It’s staggering just how efficient these systems can be.

8. Use LED or CFL Lights
While initially a little pricier, LED and CFL lights last much longer than your standard light bulb. Not only that, they use far less energy as well. Per bulb, you can save a staggering $200 over its lifetime. Even though you’ll be spending a significantly higher chunk right off the bat, it’s still a sound financial decision.

9. Turn off Lights & Electronics When Not Needed
A large portion of businesses are guilty of this one by leaving on lights and computers on a continuous basis, without thinking of the ramifications. Something as easy as turning off the light in a room not in use is a simple act that people tend to forget. Putting our computers to sleep (or completely shutting them off) at the end of each work day can also help us in saving up on energy bills.

10. Ensure Efficient Heating & Cooling For Office Space
This relates to the overall energy consumption of your office. Make sure that your building is up to code and is well-insulated during cold winters and/or hot summers. A well-insulated space ensures that you use less energy, saving an enormous amount on energy billing.

11. Consider an Energy Audit
Some managers consider energy audits to part of new-age mumbo jumbo, but they’re actually extremely beneficial. Consultants that work for these companies know exactly where businesses can make changes to save money and benefit the environment at the same time.

12. Conserve Water
Do your part in conveying to your employees the importance of water conservation. This can help with costs by restricting any over-usage. It is also a good idea to keep an eye out for any leaks and areas of your facility that don’t need water access; in which case you can consider turning the supply off for.

13. Carpooling
If most of your employees drive into the office using their own cars, there is a lot of room for improvement. Carpooling is also a good way for your staff members to get to know each other a bit better on the way to work.

14. Public Transportation & Bikes
Try and encourage people to use these alternative means of transportation. This can increase the reduction of your company’s carbon footprint and over time, save everyone money.

15. Use Green Web Hosting
Green web hosts are companies that take part in a plethora of green initiative, such as planting of trees, utilizing renewable energy sources, and implementing carbon offsets within their operations. These companies are capable of hosting your websites at the same costs (and sometimes less) than the majority of other companies that rely on fossil fuels.

16. Working from Home
If at all possible, have your employees work from home if their jobs involved mainly computer-based tasks. Not only does this increase productivity, but it can save operating costs to the company.

17. Online Queries
Directing your customers to fill out online forms for general questions and queries may help your team work more efficiently by dealing with less physical paper. Additionally, website pages that list frequently asked questions may also compliment this sort of approach.

18. Utilize Video Conferencing
With the growth of technology over the past several years, the use of video conferencing has skyrocketed due to its efficiency and reliability. Not only will you reduce the costs of flying your employees from place-to-place, but you’ll have peace of mind knowing that both money AND time was spared…. It is truly an efficient use of a web application for businesses worldwide.

19. Refurbishing Furniture
This is a great alternative to those looking to purchase new office furniture. Consider the possibility of re-purposing old chairs and tables if possible to tremendously cut costs, while at the same time giving your space a breath of fresh air.

20. Buy Used
If you do, in fact, decide to buy new office furniture, it might also be a great idea to try buy second-hand, via online classified ads. You would be saving a dramatic amount and at the same time re-cycling someone else’s things.

Final Word: One Step at a Time
Becoming an eco-friendly business from one day to the next is impossible, but that’s no reason to put it off ad infinitum. Simple steps can turn into massive savings over time and your environment will thank you.

About the Author: Mark is a green conscious man, and thinks all companies should have an environmentally conscious business model and achieve profit at the same time.

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Topics: Guest Post, Green Ideas, Fun Green Articles, Conservation

Sneaky Energy Suckers to Watch out for in Your Home This Winter

Posted by SEPCO

1/23/14 9:30 AM

Watch-out-forWe’ve all the seen the “rate-suckers” from the recent spate of Progressive car insurance commercials—have you ever thought about the things that could be doing that to the energy efficiency of your home?

Here are three big energy suckers to watch out for this winter—and how to prevent them from leeching money out of your wallet via your utilities bill.

The Lights You Leave On

Ideally, yes, you would never leave a light on when you’re not at home to enjoy what you’ll eventually pay for. However, the world is not a wish-granting factory. There will be situations when lights, intentionally or otherwise, are left on. Sometimes they have to be—an older house’s porch light can’t be wired for motion and has to stay lit in order to deter burglars while you’re out, maybe even some lights on in the house to further the illusion. And no matter how vigilant and careful you are, there will be the times when you leave a light on at home on your way out to work or fall asleep with the closet light on.

Make sure energy-efficient bulbs are in all the lights in your home. Even if you didn’t like them years ago because of the light spectrum or buzzing, rejoice: there are models on the market for every taste and every fixture.

The Structural Integrity of Your Home

Aside from the usual signs of a major structural problem—flooding, a gaping leak in the ceiling, etc.—you need to check to make sure that there aren’t other, subtler gaps in your outside walls.

The caulking around window and doorframe seals is a big thing to check for; you could lose hundreds of dollars in energy costs each year as your money is literally sucked out the window. If you didn’t catch this as fall turned to winter, that’s okay—it’s never too late to strengthen your defense against the biggest winter energy sucker of all: winter itself.

Another problem that needs to be taken care of immediately when detected is a carpenter ant or termite colony. They don’t pay to enjoy the warmth of your home or the food your wood provides them—and they’re costing you as the warm air you pay so dearly for seeps out to their colonies, which forces your heater (and wallet) to work harder. If you do find evidence of carpenter ants, termites, or other burrowing insects colonizing your home, call an exterminator; whether you have termites in Long Island or carpenter ants in San Diego, this is not a problem you should try to DIY. Save it for the professionals to get your home solid and structurally sound once again as soon as possible.

The Insulation: Out of Sight, Out of Mind, and Out of Time

Especially if you’ve been in your home for over 8 years, look into replacing the insulation with something that will hold in even more heat for greater overall energy efficiency.

Determine the R-value in your neck of the woods (if you search something like “insulation r value for” and your town/state, the internet has many handy maps and charts to help you); this will determine the variety of insulation you buy. Then, measure the distance between your studs and head to a home improvement store to buy the insulation width and variety you need (it will be likely closer to either a 15” wide or 23” roll).

Once you’re home with the rolls, cut pieces to fit about an inch wider than the cavities between your studs—but don’t fold it to double it as that will mess with the R-value.  You can either use some natural friction or a trusty staple gun to hold the insulation in place. The exception here is floor insulation, for which you will also need to pick up some wire insulation fasteners.

And be sure to wear protection in the form long sleeves, gloves, and eye protection. I helped a friend build her house last fall, and I can attest that if insulation foam makes contact with bare skin it can create a powerful, unenviable itching reaction.

With these fixes made, you can enjoy a winter with a lower power bill—energy suckers aren’t welcome here!

About the Authro: Lucy Markham is an avid blogger and researches with companies such as Suburban Exterminating. Lucy, as a recent homeowner, considers herself a bit of an expert on all things home improvement, gardening, and home decoration.

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Topics: Guest Post, Green Ideas

Happy New Year! What is Your Green Resolution?

Posted by SEPCO

1/2/14 9:30 AM

Welcome to 2014!

 

Green_Resolution

Resolutions are typically what everyone is talking about after the New Year. I am going to exercise more, eat better, spend more time with the family, etc. But what about resolutions for making the world a little greener? Is there anything you can add to your list of resolutions that will improve our planet? Here are a few that maybe you can think of implementing in 2014.

Ban the Bag

I hate it when I go to the store and forget my green bags at home. This year I am going to make a conscious effort to always have green bags on me and you can too. Keep a couple in your car at all times, even if you aren’t planning on going shopping. I even keep small ones in my purse for those smaller purchases. And you can find green bags just about everywhere and you don’t have to have one from each store, just as long as you use them when you go to the store.

Start a Garden

This one can range from a small container garden to overtaking your lawn into a huge garden. Grow something from a bunch of herbs to all the produce you could eat. With spring just around the corner, you can start building your garden now by planning and setting it up. When spring arrives, check out your local zoning and find what grows best where you live and what you love to eat. Do what you can to get the healthiest produce ever by purchasing heirloom seeds and stay as organic as you possibly can.

Stay Local

Make a conscious effort to purchase your needs and wants from a local small business. This can have a huge impact on your local economy since local businesses support your community organizations, create more jobs, give better service, and so much more. It also reduced your impact on the environment as it lowers transportation and creates less congestion. To find out more, visit Sustainable Connections and see what other benefits there might be to staying local.

Buy Reusable Items

Instead of purchasing throw away items, make a resolution to work toward replacing them with reusable materials. Paper towels are my favorite example. Instead of purchasing bunch of rolls for $8, spend that money on some microfiber or bar cloths. These are inexpensive and can just be thrown in the laundry to be reused. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few things that are just yuck and a paper towel is perfect. I still buy them, but I only use them when in dire need and therefore go through only a few sheets per week at most. I’m sure there are more things you can find to replace.

Green Power

Make a switch to green power if possible. Can you afford to install some solar panels on your roof? What about switching your lights to LEDs and upgrading to Energy Star appliances to lower your overall electrical usage to make using solar power more feasible in the near future. There is also many other options available if solar power is your end goal. Check out 1 Block Off The Grid for some great information.

By working together, we can have a great year while lowering our impact on the environment. What is your green resolution? Share with us below!

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Topics: Green Ideas, Holiday, Conservation, Recycling

12 Tips to Make Your Holiday A Little Greener

Posted by SEPCO

12/12/13 9:30 AM

Green_HolidayThere are many things that we can do on our day to day to reduce our consumption on the environment, but all seems to get lost in the holidays. I wanted to give you 12 fun tips to make your holiday a little greener and still be festive.

1. Make Your Own Gifts

Pinterest has thousands of ideas on different make your own gift ideas. You can reuse items around your house, such as jars for mixes, and provide a more thoughtful gift than anything you can buy at the store. Imagine all the green your wallet will be saving.

2. Use a Living Tree

Using a live tree not only helps the environment of your home by not dying and making a complete mess, but it also helps the environment of the earth as you can plant the tree after the holidays and then use it as an outdoor decoration for years to come. Also, imagine the shade in the summer months.

3. Wrap Gifts in Reusable Materials

My favorite is gift bags and boxes since they can be reused year after year, and when they finally fall apart, recycle them. You can also use fabric you have around your house or purchase scraps from a local fabric store. If you are crafty, you can make your own reusable bags and such, or even purchase them online from reuseit.com.

4. Gift Someone a Plant

Gardens are popping up everywhere you look now, either in containers or full on yards. If you have someone on your list that is thinking of starting a garden, give them seeds or even a live plant to get them started. Do they have an established garden? Maybe give them something exotic or new to try.

5. Make a Terrarium

Maybe your friend doesn’t have a green thumb, but you’d like to give them a piece of the outdoors for their indoors. Give the gift of a terrarium. You can either purchase these or make them if you are crafty. Best thing is, they are typically fully self-sustaining and require no upkeep.

6. Use Plantable Cards

They now make cards that you can plant…seriously. These are amazing. You send your card and the receiver can plant the card in the ground and watch it sprout into something beautiful. What an amazing concept. There are a ton of companies doing this now so here is a quick Google search done for you already.

7. Light Up With LEDs

LED string lights use a lot less energy than string lights of the past. They also provide a much brighter light than before. But don’t forget to turn them off when no one is around to see their beauty shine.

8. Donate to a Local Shelter

Donate all your older toys and clothes that you grew out of to those who need them most. This will give new life to unused items around your house, put a smile on someone's face and a warm spot in your heart.

9. Give to a Charity

Don’t know what to get that hard to gift person? Give to a charity on their behalf. There are thousands of charities that can use your help.

10. Gift Your Time

Instead of giving a gift to someone, give a favor. Maybe they need help doing something during the year. Or maybe they need something done that only you can do. What special talents do you have and can you give away your time?

11. Make Your Own Decorations

Make something out of nothing and decorate your home with them. Paint a nice holiday saying on a scrap piece of wood. Use branches around your home to hold a cluster of ornaments. I did a quick Pinterest search for you to get your creative juices flowing.

12. Stay Local and Small

Purchase your produce from the local produce stand. Go to small businesses for any gifts you purchase. Keeping your purchases to local and small businesses will help those most in the end.

I hope you enjoyed these tips. Please feel free to comment below with your additional tips that we may have missed. And as always, we here at SEPCO would like to wish you a wonderful holiday season!

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Topics: Green Ideas, Holiday

Renewable Energy is Everywhere: Hotels Leading the Way

Posted by SEPCO

12/10/13 9:30 AM

Green_HotelThrough wind energy, solar energy, biofuels, geothermal industry and reuse methods, the world is changing to renewable energy and resourceful methods of handling waste. Just by looking at the travel industry, you can see how innovative some of the companies have become. It's necessary that this happens, and many businesses across world markets are realizing the rapidly increasing market for renewable energy. By looking at some of the businesses in the travel industry, it's easier to see how far technology has come and how much other businesses could contribute by adopting these sustainable energy methods.

Generating Power Through Wind Energy

A number of hotels across the US have changed over to wind turbines in favor of reducing energy costs. The Hilton of Fort Lauderdale has six turbines on the rooftop of their hotel, which has gained a lot of press and attention for being one of the only hotels in Florida to use wind energy. The hotel has said that more green changes are to come in the future.

New Solar Power Technology

There are a lot of boutique hotels that are also changing to sustainable energy through solar panels. In fact, a small luxury boutique hotel invested $80,000 in solar energy. It has been able to decrease its energy bills by 60 percent. This isn't the first small hotel to change over to solar power. With solar shingles and other methods for solar energy, it's becoming easier to install solar energy on any type of building.

The Power of Biodiesel

Biodiesel has become a popular alternative fuel, and it's quickly replacing petroleum products. Many hotels are using this fuel, such as the Hilton Americas-Houston in Texas, which recently received the Green Seal certification. The hotel converted to biodiesel as an alternative fuel that is eco-friendly. The hotel received its first delivery of alternative fuel in July. The new program to use biodiesel has resulted in reducing greenhouse gases produced by the Hilton by 78%.

Geothermal Revolution in Nevada

In Reno, Nevada, the Peppermill Resort Spa Casino built a geothermal aquifer 4,400 feet underground to create a huge heating and hot water system for the hotel to use. Now the hot water is pumped up to the property at 1,200 gallons per minute. It saves $2 million annually. Peppermill has said that it is the hotel in the US whose heating source comes completely from geothermal energy produced right on the property. Many hotels in the area are going green. This is especially important as it is one of the most visited cities in the U.S., the millions of travelers can take advantage of these facilities first hand.

Waste Elimination and Reuse

Hotels are also looking for ways to repurpose waste around the hotel such as oil from the kitchen and scraps from landscaping. The Greco Hotel chain in Greece has a catering service that used to produce a lot of packaging waste. However, it has eliminated much of its waste by using returnable reusable glass bottles. Other hotels have switched over to soap dispensers, such as the Stratton’s Hotel in the UK, which use-to-use luxury miniature guest bathroom amenities. Now it uses dispensers for soaps and shampoos to cut down on waste.

Reduction of Water Usage

Many hotels are now offering discounts or other incentives to not require housekeeping and linen changes when staying multiple nights. Instead of replacing all sheets and towels every day on a couple night stay, they allow you to reuse your linens same as you would do at home. A lot of hotels are also now using a centralized, off site laundry to process all linens.

These are some of the facilities that are out in front of green innovation. They provide great green blueprints for others to follow. It is important that this trend continues and with this innovation, newer, more efficient products will be coming to market.

About the Author: Sam Marquit is an entrepreneurial independent contractor and home renovation/remodeling expert in New York. He's made it a point to share with my readers a day in the life of sustainable building. Forecasting the possible application and implementation of new green building materials and technologies is just one small part of his effort to reduce everyone’s carbon footprint.

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Topics: Guest Post, Green Ideas

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

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