Archive for October, 2009
A wind power and a solar power love story.
These are my friends, Mart and Cappy. They built this lovely log cabin home by hand on top of a mountain in Upstate New York about ten years ago. They have never been hooked up to the power grid, not ever, and have never paid an electric company power bill.
Was it easy to do? Well relatively so. Has it saved them a ton of money? Well not sure exactly, but might be near the break even point. Those are some of the types of questions that I asked late this past summer the day I visited and took these photos.
In Cappy & Mart’s case this came about through necessity due to the site location where they decided to build their log home. They purchased this gorgeous piece of land with a nice hardwood firewood hillside attached and where it is located on a remote hilltop, I call it a mountain; there were no neighbors and only a dirt road access off the nearest secondary road about a mile away.
The price quote that they received from the power company was staggering to bring power poles the mile to their home site, so Cappy being a clever guy, and a local contractor, decided to do it himself. How hard could it be? You put up a wind turbine, no lack of wind where they are, hook up, turn on, and forget the bills, right?
Well not exactly. They had no plan; they had no power survey, no charts and graphs or schematics. No problem, buy a small turbine and let’s get goin’. We do not have progress photos as the project developed, but what you see here is the latest iteration of their power plant that does the job. This homemade system did expand over time but they do have a plan now to streamline it and put up one nice wind turbine that would look much better.
They are indeed off the grid, and the contraption in their yard looks strange to visitors but they have come to love it. They started with one small 450 watt turbine and later added two more of the same size. They also added one small bank of photovoltaic solar panels to help keep the batteries charged up on the windless days. They do have plans on increasing both the solar and wind energy system and perhaps in a year or two we will be able to give you an update.
So how is the life style with your own power plant? It is as cozy as can be and they want for nothing. They have plenty of electrical lighting, a refrigerator, television, and all the usual household appliances that anyone would have. They cook with propane and heat with wood. They have learned to conserve on days that the wind is low and they catch up with projects on the days that are quite breezy.
They do have a small gasoline powered generator for backup when Mother Nature does not provide enough free energy, but they never have gone without for any length of time. Though they still have no neighbors yet, another hearty soul has purchased a building lot about a quarter mile away and will be building a home there also.
The photo of the wood fired boiler is how they heat both their home in winter and their domestic hot water year around. The boiler is located outside and away from the house and the hot water runs through underground pipes to heating coils in the concrete floor of the full sized basement, and another set of coils are inside the domestic hot water heating tank.
Cappy and Mart are both full fledged volunteer firefighters and do a lot for the nearby community that they live in. Their property, though remote, is within the bounds of a town that has a college community and many very wealthy homeowners that surround a nearby lake. The village people influence the town board and they have passed some ridiculous zoning laws restricting wind power systems, so Cappy’s wind plant expansion plans have been put on hold.
Turns out that he has decided on one turbine that would cost a few thousand dollars to replace the three small ones that do the job now, but the zoning code would require them to get a licensed state engineer to approve it and that cost would be more than the cost of the new turbine. They are still looking at ways to make everyone happy and to get the new system installed.
All in all they are very happy living up in their little remote paradise, a small vegetable garden shown in the photo supplies nice fresh veggies in season and the largess is canned. Note the cornfield behind is farm corn for cattle feed.
So how about you, would you like to live off the grid? We present below an advertisement for a product called Earth4Energy. This is a system that could help you get started with your own self-sustaining power plant, and if you do make a purchase from this website we will receive a commission for the sale, and that will help us to bring you more free information on this website.
If you do decide to never pay an electric company bill again and build your own wind or solar energy system with Earth4Energy, please do let us know how it works out for you. Our readers would love to hear your story.
One other thing that I should mention is that even though you might live where there is commercial power available, your own home could be off the grid and still feed extra or surplus power back to the power company grid and you would get paid by them instead of you having to fork over your hard earned cash for the utility bill.
Click on any of the Earth4Energy banners or links for more information.
When it comes to green cleaning products you obviously want a non toxic cleaner for your home. Some of the green cleaners are easy to make with ingredients you probably already have on hand. Just a few basic items are all you need to clean safely and completely. You can even make flea powder for your pets in a natural way.
Vinegar is a neutralizer. If you want to maintain the color of your clothing, add some vinegar to the wash water to set the dye. With the addition of some lemon juice you have a powerful acid to dissolve hard water stains, tarnish, grimey build up and dull surfaces on wood.
Washing soda is an old fashioned product found in hardware stores. It is similar to baking soda but with a higher pH factor. Washing soda is sodium carbonate and offers no fumes with use. You should wear rubber gloves when handling this product which does a great job on cutting grease stains like lipstick, petroleum products, softened candle wax and kitchen grease.
Washing soda should not be used on aluminum or fiberglass and should only be used on waxed floors if it is your intention to remove the wax.
Baking soda is like a cousin to washing soda. It is made from soda ash and it neutralizes odors in refrigerators, water and air. You can use baking soda to remove green scum from a flower vase. If you sprinkle baking soda on a sponge it is an effective abrasive cleaner for bathtubs, kitchen counters, ovens and boats and fenders made of fiberglass.
Add ½ cup baking soda to the washing machine and you will find it neutralizes underarm odors in the clothing. Sprinkle some on your carpets before vacuuming to freshen both the carpet and the vacuum cleaner bag.
Liquid detergent and other soaps are another non toxic cleaner, especially for grease. Fat and lye are the ingredients in soap. Liquid soap purchased in a health food store is adequate if you have soft water in your area. If you have hard water, detergent is a better bet.
Detergent is made from synthetic chemicals and was uncommon before the 19th century. They’re beneficial for not reacting with hard water to create soap scum.
Soap is a good disinfectant. To add fragrance to the air while you clean, add 20 drops of essential oil to one quart of warm water. Tee tree oil works well on mildew and mold and is a natural fungicide. Tee tree oil can be irritating to the eyes so be sure to avoid contact with the face as you mix your natural disinfectant and mildicide.
To clean your family pet and repel fleas at the same time, combine 1 teaspoon dried fennel, 1 teaspoon pennyroyal and 1 teaspoon dried eucalyptus with one cup cornstarch. Grind all ingredients and place in a jar. Sprinkle on your pet and comb into fur. It takes about 15 minutes for the mixture to permeate the skin. The remaining product can be stored in the jar indefinitely however it will lose its potency in one month.
Essential oils make an excellent tick repellent. Rose geranium, bay, eucalyptus, pennyroyal, lavender, rosemary and lemon balm all work to keep ticks at bay. If you are pregnant, take care not to come into contact with pennyroyal.
Bug repellents cause much concern, especially for parents who don’t want to harm their children. Try eating more garlic, leeks, onions and chives. These get processed through the skin and have an unpleasant taste for mosquitoes and other flying pests.
When you live in the Big Apple you will be able to find organic carpet cleaning New York city to care for your fine carpets. You can learn more about this type of organic carpet cleaning at this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xL2BTmNrfVc
Avoid using lavender soap when you go outdoors. The floral nature of this non toxic cleaner will attract bees. We invite your comments if you have some favorite green cleaning products that you would like to share with our readers, we would love to hear from you via the comments tab.
Carpet cleaning chemical has always carried with it the thoughts of harsh dangerous ingredients. In today’s world this has changed. There is a demand for cleaning products that do not pollute the environment and many in the industry have addressed this.
Most companies are using the word GREEN to emphasize how their product is safe for the environment. The hottest topic is Greening your business, or the use of Some Green Products is common in advertisement but are they really green or good for the environment?
The truth of the matter is there are some really good cleaning chemicals out there that are considered green. There is one I found from CleanCraft Products Inc. The ingredients of their all purpose green cleaner has only hydrogen peroxide and d-Limonene. The pH in the concentrated form is 3.0 to 3.5 but the application calls for a dilution which has a pH 6.5 to 6.75. It has the strong odor of citrus fruit or oranges.
This chemical has been known to be an irritant for both the skin and respiratory track. Long term exposure is not recommended but short term exposure has not caused any ill side effects. This chemical has been used by the cleaning industry for some time and can also be used as a paint stripper for wood. Another use is as a botanical insecticide and it also can be used as a biofuel.
d-limonene is biodegradable but has a very low flash point and must be treated as a hazardous chemical when being disposed of. As a Green carpet cleaning chemical this might be considered by some but not by others, the choice is yours, read the warning labels.
Organic carpet cleaning New York means you can even find this safe type of organic cleaning used in the big city.
Note: the above research on this article was done by a professional chemist, however we neither endorse or encourage use of any products mentioned in this post. Do your own research just as you should on any product you select to use.
We must all be protecting the environment. It is man who threatens the existence of the planet and it is man who must repair the damage he created.
There is an iconic scene from the Emmy Award winning television drama Mad Men. Set in the early 1960s, advertising executive Don Draper and his family are enjoying a family picnic in a city park.
How things have changed since then! When the Drapers are ready to leave the park, Betty picks up the red and white tablecloth, and fans all the paper plates, plastic forks and spoons and napkins all over the grass and leaves them there as the family gets up and walks to the parked car.
Today towns don’t even bother posting signs about fines for pollution anymore. Generations of Americans have become so accustomed to removing their trash that it is second nature.
Some National Parks are going one step further. Rather than place metal trash bins throughout the park, patrons are advised at the entrance that all trash must be removed from the park completely.
In some parks the problem is animals foraging through the trash and getting too close to people, however protecting the environment is the driving force for this emerging protocol in parks.
These are simple steps we can implement on our own. The rest is up to the nations of the world. It is well established that the polar ice caps are melting and breaking away. In 2008 a block of glacial ice the size of the state of Texas broke off, alarming scientists around the globe.
The polar bear is the symbol of global warming. Video of the bears clinging to ever-diminishing pieces of ice add a personal element to the problem. School children everywhere are learning about the plight of the polar bears and learning about ways to save the planet in schools.
One of the major problems in recent years has been the increasing use of bottled water instead of tap. What began as a convenient way to bring water to people on the go; in cars, on bikes, on walks, has become a total replacement of tap water in the home with bottled water.
First of all, bottled water is simply tap water from another source, so no one in America is doing themselves any favor by turning their nose up at the municipal water supply for bottled water that claims to come from springs. It quite likely comes from a municipal water source elsewhere.
Worse yet, the plastic bottles are doing harm to the environment by clogging up the landfills. It takes more than 100 years to break down a plastic water bottle. Nature will break down the person who drank it in much less time!
For portability, consider filling an old-fashioned thermos with water for your car ride, and bike shops have hard plastic water bottles that can be washed and used again and again, and these fit right in special bottle holders on bicycle frames.
Composting is another way to save the planet. Nature’s organisms are very effective processors of garbage. If your yard is large enough, set aside a distant corner for the disposal of food scraps. Turn the pile frequently to allow gases to escape and add other organic matter like leaves and wood ash from your fireplace.
In three year’s time you’ll be rewarded with rich, dark material better than anything you can buy at the garden store. You can spread this dark composted matter around your garden and continue the circle of life: from kitchen scraps to garden fertilizer, a most satisfying means of protecting the environment.
Businesses can do a great deal to cut down on travel and use a lot less gas. If you’re planning on attending a conference or seminar that’s a fair few miles away, check if any important presentations will be using webcasting to broadcast online. Webcasting is a form of streaming video that allows you to watch an event live from your computer, so if they are, you’ll be able to see the whole thing without taking a single step out of the office, saving both the environment and a whole lot of travel money.
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People want safe cleaning products and they ask us all the time for some recommendations. You’ll see they save money in addition to saving the environment. All you need are a few basic items which are probably already in your pantry.
First, get a box of biodegradable Borax. This product is billed as a laundry booster, but without phosphates or chlorine, it is a safe household cleanser when diluted with water.
Borax can also be used as a pot scrubber. Sprinkle some in the pan, wait a few minutes and then clean with a damp sponge and some muscle.
Another use for borax is eliminating mold. Sprinkle and scrub borax in moldy areas like the corners of the shower.
For caked on food stains on pots, pans and baking dishes, pour water in the pan, sprinkle borax in the water and simmer for ten minutes. Once the water is cool, you can scrub the coating away.
Baking soda is another old time product with a variety of modern uses. Is your shower drain plugged? Sprinkle one-quarter cup of baking soda onto the drain and add two cups of plain white vinegar. The mixture will bubble and hiss to create a non-caustic rinse. Wait ten minutes then run hot water through until the clog is gone.
To scrub your stainless steel sink clean, use a little baking soda.
Vinegar can also be combined with equal parts of olive oil to produce a natural furniture polish and hardwood floor cleaner.
For a handy soap scum cleaner, take a plastic mesh onion bag and ball it up. Sprinkle with baking soda and scrub away the scum on your shower tile and glass shower door. Rinse and wipe clean for extra shine.
Other safe cleaning products include a natural air freshener made with simmering orange peel, cloves and ginger on the stove for 15 minutes.
To remove a musty smell, crumble up newspaper and place near the offending odor. Leave it in place for 24 hours and remove. The absorbent newspaper should take the smell with it.
To rid the kitchen cutting board of odors, cut a lemon in half and rub the lemon juice back and forth along the surface. This is better than any strong chemical cleanser in erasing strong odors like onion and garlic.
For carpet stains, sprinkle cornstarch on the stain, dab with some water, and allow to sit for 15 minutes, scrub and vacuum. If the stain is small, pour some club soda onto the spot, blot and let dry.
Your herb garden is nature’s carpet deodorizer. Bring in thyme, oregano and lavender, dry on the countertop for 24 hours, then crush the dried leaves and sprinkle throughout the room. The fragrance will be released when you vacuum.
One note: the bagless vacuums don’t emit the fragrance since the herbs get sealed in the plastic dust vessel. If you have a vacuum like this, make a potpourri with the herbs instead. Place the crushed blend into a cotton hankie or napkin, gather up and tie off with a ribbon. The aroma will last about two weeks.
To clean a flower vase of algae, sprinkle a generous amount of salt into the vase, add hot water and allow to sit for two hours. Rinse and dry.
Natural cleaning products such as these have many benefits. They save the environment of harsh chemicals, and they eliminate the clutter in your home of a different cleaning product for different tasks. With safe cleaning products you are providing a clean eco-friendly environment for your family and the family of man.
People think ecology and the environment are the same thing. They aren’t, but with all the emphasis on saving our planet it is easy to see how these terms can get mixed up.
First of all, ecology is the relationship of animals and plants to their surroundings which includes carbon dioxide, light and heat and the sustenance that comes from the atmosphere. Another kind of surrounding is biological and this includes the study of the same animal or plant in context with other animals and plants.
So much is demanded of the person who studies this that a host of scientific fields are tapped to get an understanding of ecology. For example, hydrology, physics, and geology are included in study of the ecology. Also, climatology, chemistry and soil analysis. While the word “environment” is often mistaken for ecology, one does have an impact on the other.
Ecology as a term was coined by Ernst Heinrich Haeckel in Germany in 1866. Its derivatives combine Oikos, or household which has the same root as economics. The literal translation is economy of nature.
The Evolution Scientist Charles Darwin is the Father of Modern Ecology. Because he advanced the theory of Survival of the Fittest, he believed natural selection carries forth each species. The weak give way to the strong, and the strong give way to the stronger and so forth.
Among the students of plant life, Alexander von Humboldt is considered a leader in the study of how vegetation is distributed. An ecosystem is created by balancing all the forces of nature. When one aspect is depleted, it sets off a chain reaction of deterioration in other ways.
Consider a drought stricken area. The vegetation is deprived of moisture content and susceptible to fire. All it takes is a lightning strike in the woods or a discarded cigarette to set off a chain reaction of disaster. All the ecosystems are affected. Trees and brush are burned and destroyed, nests for birds and rodents are displaced. It seems everything is destroyed permanently.
But within a few months a different ecosystem grabs hold. Primitive vegetation that has adapted to modern times sprouts up; plants like moss and ferns, life forms dating to prehistoric times. Animals move in to feed off the new vegetation and the decomposed plant material that burned has fertilized the soil making conditions ripe for explosive new growth and the rebirth of the forest once again.
This is part of what is called biogeochemical cycles, or nutrient cycles. Plants store the nutrients from decomposing matter in their tissues. The material comes from a number of sources. If it isn’t in the static earth material, it is blown in with dust, rain and in weathered rocks.
One of the earliest lessons in ecology comes in the elementary school classroom. Children learn the necessity of crop rotation. If the farmer keeps planting corn in the same field year after year, and he expects the corn to grow and yield the same nutrients, he must give the field a break from demanding the nutrients. At the very least, he must import nutrients in the form of fertilizer.
Other crops get planted that take a different toll on the land, like barley. Once the soil has recovered from the loss of particular chemical ingredients it can begin to produce vegetables with other nutrients.
One of the threats to nature is acid rain. Pollution produced in the Midwest is carried with the clouds to produce a sulfuric and nitric acid rainfall over the northeastern states, threatening the fragile ecology and the environment and prompting states to look at their polluting ways.
Here is an environmental thought that you might never have had before. For what ever good they might do, the mighty little ant is getting some respect. There are those that think that ants are a nuisance, as uninvited guests at a picnic, and there are those that feel that the little critters get no respect.
For those of you that want to save the ants, visit: SaveTheAnts.com
Please let us know what you think about this plan.
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There are a wide variety of natural homemade soaps available on the market place. It all depends on what specific part of the world you are in for what is available. Each part of the world has its own different supply of raw materials. This accounts for the difference in the recipes.
The most unique soap I found marketed was the soap of Jesus. This is a Christian soap that only uses the ingredients found during the life and time of Jesus. The claim is that the recipes are based on homeopathic formulas that not only clean your body but also uplift and inspire your delicate soul.
Then there is French/African soap named Earth Essence. This one combines the deep cleansing power of French green clay with the moisturizing properties from shea butter that comes from the African shea nut.
Aphrodite soap from Greece has the claim of being 80 to 100 % pure extra virgin olive oil with potent Mediterranean herbs from the sunny, unpolluted Greek hills.
From India there is Nag Champa Herbal soap. With a mixture of 21 different plants along with a coconut base and other unnamed oils. This soap has a very strong herbal scent.
France has another contribution with the Cote Bastide or Cotton Soap. The fragrance shifts from the subtlety of cotton flowers to the gentleness of sweet almond. For added gentle exfoliation cottonseeds are added.
No natural soap list would be complete without that good old American Lye soap. All you need is lard, lye and water. What could be more natural? For added cleaning power powdered bleach can be added. No wonder Americans are such thick skinned individuals.
There naturally are more but this just to say that because it is different does not mean it is not natural just from another part of the world. How about you? Do you have a homade soap recipe or source for your favorite?