More on your ‘cookprint’.

These healthy eco-friendly kitchen gadgets and appliances will save energy.

By Ronnie Citron-Fink
Rhinebeck, NY, USA | Wed Feb 17, 2010 11:30 AM ET

©iStockphoto.com/Thinkstock

READ MORE ABOUT:
Eco-Friendly Kitchens | Energy Efficiency | Green Appliances | Green Home | Green Your Electricity | Home Energy Use

Would you like to cut your electric bill every month? If you’re like me, you have drawers and kitchen cabinets full of gadgets and small appliances. In an effort to pare down and conserve energy, resources and cash, which of these energy sucking kitchen wonders should you ditch (donate away) and which should stay?

WATCH VIDEO: Emeril’s Vermont Adventures

First, let’s consider at the materials and resources that use energy to prepare a meal. While the term “cookprint” is often used to remind us to eat more plant-based, locally grown and sustainable food, it also represents which appliances and gadgets to cook with. Consumer Reports chose “cookprint” as a top buzzword to describe the energy needed to prepare the food we eat.

“That energy use encompasses the appliances and techniques used to prepare and store food, though the management of leftovers and food waste also factors in–you lower your cookprint by composting rather than tossing scraps into the trash.”

Ditch These Kitchen Appliances and Gadgets

1. Coffee Grinder
OK, it’s early in the morning and it’s awfully easy to plug in the coffee grinder to pulverize fresh beans. Just think how much faster you’ll wake up if you have to do it yourself. Bodum makes preparing and drinking coffee a stylish experience. Check out their hand-crank coffee-grinding beauty.

2. Can Opener
Jaymi has written about electric can openers before and she makes the important point that, “Electric can openers are handy but they don’t save time or effort when compared to a quality manual can opener.” Classic swing-away can openers get the job done.

3. Electric Knife
My mom’s generation swears that the electric knife must come out when the Thanksgiving turkey is ready to curve. But really, why use an electric one when a nice sharp knife can do the same job? Try a hand-held knife sharpener and a good knife.

4. Juicer
Are you surprised to find an electric juicer on the list? This is an easy switch that won’t screw up your healthy juice regimen. Hand-held juicers require a little muscle, but they produce big energy savings. Here are some hand-held juicers to choose from.

5. Electric Mixer and Stick Blender
An electric stick immersion blender has a single mixer attachment, so to make something like whipping cream, a hand-held mixer is your best bet. The old fashioned, quiet hand mixer works like a dream. Often you can find these in antique stores with wooden handles.

Keep These Appliances and Gadgets in Your Kitchen

1. Rice Cookers
Although rice cookers use electricity, they are an eco-friendly alternative to firing up your stove to make rice. Finding a rice cooker with a stainless steel–not “non-stick”–insert is the healthiest choice, because most “non-stick” pots are made with Teflon or aluminum. Teflon contains PBDE, a prevalent contaminant known to cause to the human body and the environment. Here are a bunch of rice cookers with stainless steel inserts.

2. Countertop Grills
These grills are inexpensive and an energy-saving solution to turning on a stove when you want to just make, say, a grilled cheese sandwich. Be aware that George Foreman and similar grills can be coated with Teflon. What’s an eco-cook to do? Get a stainless steel countertop grill.

3. Waffle Irons
The same advice applies for waffle irons as grill pans, especially if you eat waffles often. We have an old, old cast iron waffle iron that makes the best waffles. If you can’t score one of those, I would suggest finding a secondhand waffle iron with cast iron inserts.

4. Hand-Crank Blender
Again, the older “historical technology,” does a fine job. TreeHugger posted on a hand crank travel mixer, and here are some other crank blenders.

5. Mortar and Pestle
A mortar and pestle can be a manual food processor. It’s been used for centuries to make everything from ground spices to mayonnaise. The mortar and pestle’s best feature: It will never require replacement parts.
Are you seeing a trend here? The oldies-but-goodies are making a strong comeback. And making these small changes can significantly lower your cookprint.

More on your ‘cookprint’.

These healthy eco-friendly kitchen gadgets and appliances will save energy.

by Lloyd Alter, Toronto on 03. 2.10

Cash for Caulkers

President Obama is set to announce a new residential renovation funding program that they call a “triple win”: a jolt to the sickly construction industry, saving Americans money on their energy bills and reducing dependence on oil and other fossil fuels. Last month they might have called it a “quadruple win” and mentioned greenhouse gas reductions, but they don’t do that any more, Senator Inhofe would complain.

If they do it right, the six billion dollar program can create a lot of jobs; caulking and sealing is labor intensive, and can put a lot of people to work. But with the power of modern media, it is really easy to do it wrong.

When Planet Green started out, we did a series of posts based on a terrific document prepared by the Rocky Mountain Institute: Cool Citizens: Everyday Solutions to Climate Change: Household Solutions, that looked at the cost of a renovation item, the amount of energy and carbon it saved, and calculated the bang for the buck. It is now eight years old and much has changed, as fuel got more expensive and compact fluorescents a lot cheaper. But the order is probably still pretty much correct.

Some of our Planet Green posts following the RMI order:

Where To Start
Get a Programmable Thermostat
Stop the Air Leaks
Add Attic Insulation
Insulate Your Water Heater
Add Attic Insulation
Install Efficient Showerheads
Install Faucet Aerators

Notice that window replacement is nowhere on the list; it is so far down the list in terms of energy saved per dollar spent that it is almost off the bottom. If I were handing out the bucks, I would ensure that everyone followed the list; no windows unless you caulk first.

But then Pella is spending more on full page ads than Obama is on the stimulus these days, so that won’t happen. And of course, Glenn Beck ran Mr. “put down the handgun and pickup a caulking gun” out of the White House, so the bucks will go to big business.

Environmental justice means the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to environmental policies.

The Faces of the Grassroots contest is an opportunity to publicly exhibit creativity with environmental justice stories, and connect with others working to raise awareness of the movement.

Videos can focus on any environmental justice activity, issue, or topic. Examples would be a music video about climate change, or a video recording a successful environmental justice project that has made a community a healthier and happier place to live.

Awards will be given to the winning submissions in each category. The videos will also be featured on EPA’s Web site and may be used as public service announcements.

Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. EST on Thursday, April 8, 2010. EPA will announce winners in honor of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.

Categories and prize money:

Public Service Announcements (30 or 60 seconds)
1st Place – $2,500
2nd Place – $1,500
3rd Place – $1,000
Student Winner – $500 (13-18 years old)

Informational Video (3-5 minutes)
1st Place – $2,500
2nd Place – $1,500
3rd Place – $1,000
Student Winner – $500 (13-18 years old)

More information and the promotional video: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/environmentaljustice/events/video-contest.html

by Brian Merchant, Brooklyn, New York on 01.27.10

eats radioactive waste

Photo via Science Daily

// Nuclear waste is probably the most dreaded substances in existence, in part because it’s proved so difficult to effectively clean up and store. But a stunning new breakthrough has just surfaced that may make cleaning up radioactive waste easier and much more efficient–and the solution takes its inspiration from one of everyone’s favorite creepy plants. Researchers have developed a material that opens its pores to let in its intended prey–the radioactive ion cesium–then “snaps shut” to entrap it, according to Science Daily. It’s a Venus Flytrap that eats radioactive waste instead of flies.

The flytrap-like material is evidently a snythetic material made from “layers of a gallium, sulfur and antimony compound,” and was developed by researchers at Northwestern University.

The radioactive ion cesium, found in nuclear waste, is very difficult to clean up. And that’s because the ratio of harmless sodium ions to dangerous radioactive cesium ions is 1,000 to 1. There’s tons more sodium than cesium–one scientist on the project even said that looking for the radioactive material in nuclear waste is “like looking for a needle in a haystack.” But the material the scientists developed turned out to be extremely adept at removing the cesium from a sodium-heavy solution–thanks to its Venus flytrap-like qualities.

SD explains:

It is, in fact, cesium itself that triggers a structural change in the material, causing it to snap shut its pores, or windows, and trap the cesium ions within. The material sequesters 100 percent of the cesium ions from the solution while at the same time ignoring all the sodium ions.

Which is pretty amazing–a material that can selectively snag and confine only the radioactive ions in nuclear waste could be instrumental in nuclear waste cleanup. Especially since there are over a hundred nuclear power plants across the US keeping their radioactive waste in storage onsite.

excessive radioactivity

One of the most fascinating things about the discovery is how it can trap literally every single radioactive cesium ion without bothering to absorb any sodium ions–sort of like how a Venus Flytrap doesn’t bother with drops of rain or debris that falls into its ‘mouth’ and attacks only the flies. Again, SD explains how this works:

The snap-shut Venus flytrap mechanism occurs because ‘soft’ materials like to interact with each other. A cesium ion is big and soft, and the metal-sulfide material is soft, too. The cesium ions are attracted to the material, specifically the sulfur atoms, and together form a weak bond. This interaction causes the material to change shape, close its windows and trap the cesium — like a juicy insect in a flytrap. Sodium, which is clothed in water molecules, can’t trigger the response.

It will certainly be interesting to see how this develops, and if this can successfully be transformed into a major new way to cleanup nuclear waste.

SOURCE:   http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/01/venust-flytrap-snares-radioactive-waste.php?campaign=daily_nl

More on Nuclear Waste Cleanup
E. Coli Can Be Used To Clean Up Nuclear Waste
Plan to Import 20000 Tons of Italian Nuclear Waste into Utah
Will South Carolina Become the Nation’s Premier Nuclear Waste Depository?

by John Laumer, Philadelphia on 01.21.10

big suv photo
Big ol’ Chevy Tahoe. Image credit:AutoWeek.

The Star-Telegram is reporting that “The health effects of air pollution are a major topic in Texas because the state is one of the most polluted in the country. A recent survey by Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth found that 1 in 4 children in North Texas has asthma, which can be both caused and aggravated by air pollution.” This in the context of a recent study which documented Texas kids are “more likely to miss school when certain types of air pollution increase.”

There’s no one source to point the finger of blame at. It’s about a predilection for big smoggy vehicles, refinery and petrochemical emissions, coal-burning power plants, ships and barges, and so on. The point is….

Environmental quality impacts school performance (my inference based on the correlation reported). I’m betting it’s not just in Texas that this potential correlation could be found.

Clearly, many US elected officials do not yet ‘connect the environmental dots’ linking air quality to quality of life and to learning, nor are some powerful corporate constituents wanting them to. For a clear demonstration of the latter effect, look no further than Alaskan Senator Murkowski , who is sponsoring an amendment that prevents USEPA from regulating greenhouse gases. To see who’s got the most horses in that rodeo read Senator Who Hopes to Block EPA from Regulating Greenhouse Gas Pollution is Top Fundraiser from Utility Companies

Who needs that permafrost anyhow?

Failing to have much trust in the sciences and still stuck on libertarian romanticism, it takes exploding underpants to get attention to the business of ‘dot connecting.’ How long before a Texas congress-critter tacks an amendment onto a Federal budget bill, preventing EPA from regulating smog causing emissions? Not long is my guess.

Who needs that book learnin’ anyhow?

Three more dots.

  • I wonder how many corporations pay big-time health care benefits for employee family asthma treatments while giving money to lobbyists who want to slow down air quality regulation enforcement?
  • China bears some of the responsibility for Texas AQ degradation.
  • As reported in an AFP release on Yahoo News.

Pollution from Asia is boosting levels of ozone in the skies above the western United States, a trend that could hamper US efforts to meet tougher smog standards,…The findings are important, as previous research suggests pollution at the altitude monitored in the study can descend and mix with surface air.If so, a long-standing question may be answered. There has been a rise in ozone levels in parts of the rural western United States, but there is little road traffic or industry in these regions to explain the increase.

The paper says the phenomenon could have repercussions for efforts in the United States to roll back its smog problem with tougher car-exhaust measures and other initiatives.

    Are you still with me on this?

  • Taking a leadership role in climate action enables the USA to add more pressure on China to clean up the emissions of both greenhouse cases and the associated smog causing emissions that float over rural Texas.

Mike’s adjacent post on the Chinese smog effect on Western USA is worth a look:

That’s all the dots I have for now.

More posts about Texas air quality.
Texas Coal Fired Utility Building ‘Alamo of Coal’
Texas PTA Partners With Government for Cleaner School Buses
Texas Board of Ed Neuters Science Textbooks’ Global Warming

EarthShare is an organization that keeps their thumb on the pulse of the topics directly related to actions we can all get involved with.  The reception is growing tremendously and proven to be effective.  Do your part, get involved, get your children and grandchildren involved.

Together Everyone Achieves More… CSea Perkins

Are Americans cooling on global warming? 350

What do a rural farmer in New Zealand, students in Boston, and a group of architects have in common? They’re all affected by climate change.

People from every background showed their support for global climate change action and leadership on October 24, the International Day of Climate Action. Coordinated by 350.org, the event brought participants together to raise global awareness of climate change prior to the United Nations climate change meetings in December. More than 5,000 demonstrations were held around the globe! You can check out www.350.org to see international images of people taking unique action in support of our planet’s health and future.

This effort comes on the heels of a recently published poll indicating that some Americans’ opinions on climate change may be changing in the face of the other pressing crises affecting the nation. Although more than half of the 1,500 adults surveyed still believe global warming is occurring, this represents about a 20% decrease since 2006.

What do you think? Talk to us in the comments section at the bottom of this page, or email us! You can also learn more about the pending Climate Bill and participate in the discussion with Environmental Defense Fund’s Twitter guide.
Holy cow! Meat and dairy = major greenhouse gases. Cow

You may not think the food you eat can affect the air you breathe or the water you drink, but it does. According to Worldwatch Institute, more than 50% of greenhouse gases are generated by the meat and dairy industries!

What can you do? Consider reducing the amount of meat in your diet. Meatless Monday is a growing sensation advocating skipping meat just one day a week to reduce your environmental impact.

You might also end up introducing some delicious new fruits and veggies into your diet — check out an excellent curried eggplant recipe! Worried that kids won’t go for it? More than 80,000 Baltimore students now go meatless every Monday, and Baltimore County Public Schools plan on building community gardens at each of their public schools.

If you don’t want to or can’t give up meat one day a week, you have other options. Buy meat from your local butcher or at a nearby farmer’s market. The meat goes through less processing, doesn’t require Styrofoam packaging, and barely travels to get to you.

Our friends at the Center for a New American Dream also have excellent online resources that help you “cater to the Earth” by making smart decisions when buying food. They work to help Americans consume responsibly to protect the environment, enhance quality of life, and promote social justice. Taking care of the planet can be delicious!

Take our Green Quiz Challenge!

Baby, it’s cold outside! As your family migrates indoors for the winter, you want to keep them happy and warm. But not everyone properly prepares their home for the coldest season, often forgetting to use weather-stripping, remove air conditioning window-units, or neglect to put draft guards down.

So how much of your home’s heat can escape through gaps in windows and doors? If you know the answer, take our quiz and you could win an eco-friendly prize!

Every day, our government makes decisions that affect us, the environment and the security of our world. That is why science is so critical – for our health and safety, we need these decisions to be made upon the best available science.

How much do you know about the role science plays in ensuring a cleaner, safer world?

Take the “Sci-Q” quiz to find out »

Right now, decisions about global warming, energy policy, nuclear weapons and the safety of our food are being made. The more we know about these challenges that face us, the better we will be able to speak out for effective change.

Find out how much you know about environmental health and safety »

Sincerely,

Natasha
Care2 Campaign Team

Test Your”Sci-Q” »

Test your “Sci-Q” with these fun brain teasers – and see how much you know about science!

Take the quiz >>

Quiz link: http://www.care2.com/go/z/e/AFPNH/zJQF/AvNVH