Tag Archives: eco friendly products

An LED Bulb That Lasts 20 Years

A new LED (light-emitting diode) from Philips promises to last 20 years – more than 25 000 hours. The LED light bulb was launched commercially in stores on Earth Day.

For more than one hundred years, Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulb has been on the market. Though providing excellent light quality, incandescent light bulbs are notorious for low energy efficiency: About 1/10 of the electrical energy that is put into the bulb is actually converted into light – the rest ends up as heat-waste.
Philips Led Bulb 20 Years
Won the Department of Energy Award

The reason why Philips has built the new LED bulbs in the first price was to win the U.S. Department of Energy’s L Price competition. This was an initiative brought on the table by the U.S. DoE to aware people of the incredible inefficient incandescent light bulbs, encouraging them to switch to more energy conserving alternatives.

Philips won the competition back in early August 2011; however, they did not release their prize-winning LED bulbs on the market before a week ago, on April 22.

How Much Does It Cost?

The net price of the new LED from Philips is currently at $60, which is several times greater than what you would have to pay for both an incandescent and a energy-saving light bulb (CLF).

On the other hand, the lifetime is about 25 times as great as incandescent light bulbs, which typically only lives around 1000 hours. The increased energy efficiency of a LED also has to be taken into account.

Estimations show that if the new LED light bulb replaces an incandescent light bulb and is used 4 hours a day, $8 is saved every year in electricity costs. Replace all incandescent in your house with the new LED and the savings increase accordingly. This means that after 7.5 years, the initial cost of the LED is paid down saved in terms of reduced energy costs – with another 12.5 years remaining on the lifetime.

There are still literally a ton of incandescent light bulbs that are in use today. If every 60-watt incandescent was replaced by the new LED, the U.S. would save almost four billion dollars every year. Imagine how much energy is wasted.

Written by Mathias Aarre Mæhlum. Read more about energy efficient light bulbs, as well as green energy technologies at his blog, Energyinformative.

Source: CBS

Green Water Conservation Products

“Water is precious” how many ever times we hear that, it is kind of hard to register, as right now around most of us there is really no problems with water availability. The US EPA in 2008 said a survey had found that 36 states were anticipating Local, regional or statewide water shortage by 2013.

At the start of the 21st century unclean water is the second biggest killer of children world over – UNDP human development report 2006

Below are some water saving products we can integrate into our daily lives, which will lower the water bill for sure and save water! Today I am focusing specifically on the Garden.

FOR YOUR GARDEN

According to reports some households use up to 50% of their water for gardening or out door purposes. Summer is the time when the sprinklers work over time to keep the grass green. Watch out for the water that ends up on the side walk and the roads, adjust the positioning to make maximum utilization of water.

1. Hydretain Root Zone Moisture Manager a Water Magnet for all you plants and lawn.

This is one amazing product, it is green i.e. biodegradable and helps conserve water! Hydretain when added to soil helps soil hold on to the evaporating water vapor there by extending the time between watering. The Manufacturers say one can double or even triple the number of days between required watering and enjoy the benefits of proper water management. Hydretain is a revolutionary new product designed to reduce watering requirements of plants and turf. Its patented blend of liquid humectant and hygroscopic compounds attract free water molecules from the air withing the soil and efficiently transfers them to the roots of the plants. The simple yet unique mechanism results in healthy vigorous drought resistant turf, trees, shrubs, ornamental plants and agriculture.

It is a liquid blend which is used like any spray on fertilizer one uses attached to the hose, it comes fitted with a hose-end applicator.

Hydretain helps to :

  • Minimize Drought stress (they have examples of plants in 100 degree temp settings!)
  • Control or eliminate dry spots (used in golf courses and lawns)
  • Enhance nutrient efficiency
  • Optimize Pesticide Efficiency
  • Improve Seed Germination
  • Increase transplant survival
  • Reduce water expenses
  • Maximize crop yields

You can buy Hydretain Here it comes in 1quart, 2quart etc… price starts at 24.95 for a 1 quart bottle. 1quart as per the manufacturer will cover 2500 – 5000 square feet of lawn. One application lasts for up to 3 months. I like it because it works and it is GREEN!!

2. JARDENIER Plant watering system

The manufacturer says you can reduce water usage by up to 80% and maintenance costs by 50% or more with Jardinier’s wide range of waterproof decorative containers, planter boxes and roof top gardens, used in conjunction with their patented Sub-Irrigation Systems.

I found the sub-irrigation planters particularly of interest for Indoor plants. Plants grown in Jardinier Containers are generally healthier, which means the expense of replacement and the labor involved can be greatly reduced. A study by Dr. Cheryl Wilen of the University of California has shown that plants grown in Jardinier Containers have a more developed root system than plants which are top watered. Sub irrigation also eliminated the harmful build up of salts due to top watering. Since Jardinier Containers are a closed system, fertilizers and pesticides can be confined within the containers. Jardinier Containers also are designed to provide each plant with maximum growing space, which means you get more plant for each container size, which means you spend less time transplanting.

Finally, Jardinier Containers can hold enough water to last at least 2 to 3 weeks, which means you can be on vacation without worrying about finding a dead or weak plant on arrival!! Saving water, plants and money–not bad, and you’ll also be making the world a better place.

The Diagram above shows how the pot works.

Check out your nearest dealer here

Pricing between 5$ for the smallest pot to 50$ to the largest one.

3. Using sprayers and misters which have aerators is an option to reduce water consumption.

Add to these the use of green fertilizers and pesticides like neem oil, a natural foliar spray that controls pest insects and diseases. Compost tea, used as a spray, controls rose diseases; as a drench, it suppresses diseases in the lawn and flower beds. Pick plants that are native – drought and disease resistant as they are “Native”! Pick out perennials they do make a come back every year and some even reseed them selves!
Check out this Video on making your own compost, I found it very useful:

You will have a Green backyard lawn et al with a lesser  burden economically and environmentally.

Live Green!

Some Green Products from Amazon:

Monterey Sluggo Snail & Slug Control For Organic Gardening – 2.5 lb Shaker Bottle LG6500

Your Eco-friendly Yard: Sustainable Ideas to Save You Time, Money and the Earth

The Sun Lights Up Dallas Pathways At Night

Lea Bogdan had covered this new green building in Dallas downtown called the 17seventeen on the inhabitat website and I wondered what was the new lighting she was referring to. So I thought about taking a closer look at it.  No, it is not moon light and it is not your usual solar garden lights on stakes either, Solar Cynergy a company based in Norco California has a series of lights which can be integrated into the flooring thus lighting up pathways during the night. They are manufacturers of architectural solar lighting for residences, developments and cities. Looking at the product I think it could be called a solar brick light or something, as the encased light does resemble kind of a brick with its thickness and sturdiness.

Rectangular lights

The units come in 3 shapes: circular, square and rectangular shaped. The units also come in 5 colors: Blue,Green, White, Halogen White and Red. The units are all self contained and get charged by sun-light during the day. The units are removed from view and embedded beneath a scratch-resistant polycarbonate resin surface, the solar panels cycle power to a capacitor that charges during the day and automatically illuminates the LEDs at nightfall via a photosensor.

Solar Cynergy specifies that the lights need a full day of sunlight exposure before it can start lighting up the night. These lights can be integrated into the floor or walls where they will be exposed to direct sunlight. These lights which are of the top most quality do not come cheap it is priced from around 900$ for a 6pack of the round lights to around 2000$ for the rectangular lights 6pack.

The incorporated lighting really adds to the building’s architecture visually and also is a very green idea put into use in a large scale setup. Aesthetically and environmentally the solar pavers make a lot of sense. Check out the pictures below and follow the links below for more details.

Read the Full article on Inhabitat here

Check out Solar Cynergy website here or their blog here

A video I found on youtube showing the lights a little more clearly check it out:

You can check out the prices at the links below which will take you to Amazon.com or look for a retailer here

Square Blue Solar Light 6 pk

Rectangular Blue Solar Light 6 pack

gDiaper Earth Friendly Diapers: An Eco-Friendly Choice

My little niece is almost 2 and she goes through 3-4 diapers a day now! When she was a baby the numbers used to be much higher and my sister was always looking for an alternative which made sense economically and environmentally. She has used cloth diapers as a replacement and what we discovered was it made better sense environmentally to use the disposable kind as the cloth one actually created a larger carbon footprint than the disposable one!!(Check out the video at the end of the post you will be surprised at what you learn!)

My mom says it gives parents a pass to take their time to potty train their little ones, she says in her childhood with out the security of the diaper most kids were potty trained by the time they were walking! Cloth diaper manufacturers do claim their users are potty trained a year earlier than disposable diaper users.

Disposable diapers made there appearance in various forms in the early part of the 20th century. In 1949 Johnson & Johnson introduced the first mass produced disposable diapers in the US. Since then it has become a staple in every babies life growing up. The US diaper industry is valued at 3.2Billion dollars annually; which amounts to around 18billion diapers which head to the landfill every year! Each one has an outer layer of waterproof polypropylene and an inner layer of fluff made from wood pulp plus super-slurper sodium polyacrylate (SAP) that can hold a hundred times its weight in water.

Those 18 billion diapers add up to 82,000 tons of plastic a year (want to calculate the amount of crude oil??) and 1.3 million tons of wood pulp — 250,000 trees. After a few hours of active service these materials are trucked away, primarily to landfills, where they sit, neatly wrapped packages of excrement, entombed undegraded for several hundred years. In raw form sewage is illegal in land fills, some how with diapers it is kind of over looked too!

World over all countries now have access to the disposable diaper which is seen as a boon to new parents who then don’t have to worry about leaks and mishaps. Approximately 50million diapers are said to be ending up in waste dumps world!

The Great Disposable Diaper Debate from the Sustainability Institute makes for very interesting reading.

gDiaper the Green Diaper

Anyways coming to the Earth friendly diaper The gDiaper The most eco-friendly diaper available, gDiapers provides parents with a diapering solution that is good for babies, parents and the planet. You can have the flexibility of a disposable diaper with a 100% biodegradable gRefill, or opt for re-usability with super soft and trim-fitting gCloth inserts.

What makes them special?

  • g stands for green diapers. gDiapers are breathable, 100% biodegradable diapers you can flush, compost or toss. gDiapers are designed to keep your baby dry and comfortable and the planet a little happier.
  • Home compost, toss, or flush the biodegradable gRefill for the smallest footprint on earth. gDiapers break down in 50-150 days.
  • gDiapers are plastic-free, elemental chlorine free, latex free, and perfume free.
  • Comes in 2 options – Choose from two guilt-free options: biodegradable diapers with our biodegradable gRefills or reusable cloth diapers with our gCloth inserts.
  • The company also has machine washable and colorful diaper covers which they call gPants to use with the gDiapers.

The gpants which are 92% cotton, 8% spandex, no elemental chlorine, no perfumes, no latex and no guilt, comes in 3 sizes small, medium and large – priced at 101$ for a pack of 6 and are on sale now for$70.00

The grefills and diaper cloths are priced from 15-30$ depending on the size and number of pieces in a packet.

A really Cute g Pant

I find the product very interesting and am recommending it to my sister, it is nice to start a Green life style real early, and cotton am sure should be much more comfortable for my little niece 🙂 What do you think? Live Green!

Source for Pictures and Information on gDiapers, refills etc >> www.gdiapers.com

A Very Interesting and educative Video about the impact of Diapers on the environment from the National Geographic Do check it out 🙂

How Clean is Your Reusable Grocery Bag?

BYOB – Bring Your Own BAG! It’s a green Mantra of sorts for sustainable living and reducing plastic bags in the landfills. There was a time when most grocery stores had only plastic bags, with the conscientious customer demanding greener options they added the paper bags and now most stores offer a sturdy, recycled plastic bag! Strong, reusable and recycled! What more would one need!

So every week I head to my grocery store with my trusted set of 4 bags 2 canvas and 2 recycled plastic bags. Use no additional plastic bags or paper etc and feel good about my Green habit. Today I read this article on Discovery health about the cleanliness of the reusable grocery bag! I was surprised and shocked when I realized that my plastic bags belong to the 97% of bags which were not cleaned on a regular basis!

The article by Benjamin Radford is based on a study by researchers in the University of Arizona who looked at reusable grocery bags in California and Arizona. They picked the bags from patrons as they entered the stores. Public unawareness of cross contamination was found to be almost universal. It is estimated that there are about 76,000,000 cases of food borne illness in the United States every year! And most are from improper handling or cooking of food.

Their conclusions and recommendations are as follows:

  • Consumers almost never wash reusable bags (a whopping 97% do not!)
  • Requiring printed instructions on reusable bags that they be washed between uses or the need to separate raw foods from other food products. (Duh… Why did I not think about washing the plastic bags!?)
  • Hand or machine washing reduced the numbers of bacteria in reusable bags by >99.9%
  • A potential significant risk of bacterial cross contamination exists from using reusable bags to carry groceries
  • Bacteria were capable of growth when stored in the trunks of cars (I leave mine in there most of the time)
  • Large numbers of bacteria were found in every reusable bag, but none in new bags or plastic bags (So it is how we use it that transfers the bacteria into the bags)
  • Coliform bacteria including E. coli were found in half of the bags tested (Washing hands, food etc will definitely help)

I would add the following to it –

  1. Keeping separate bags for groceries and say the library or Gym clothes etc… (a dedicated grocery bag basically)
  2. Cloth or canvas is the better option as it can be washed in hot water and does not disintegrate with heat.
  3. For meat and related products, keep a dedicated bag so it does not cross contaminate.
  4. I am also suggesting sun exposure after washing, sunlight is a good deterrent to micro-organisms and also gets rid of moisture easily 🙂

Take a look at your grocery bag, I know I will never look at it the same way again. Remember to wash it regularly and keep your family safe.

Also wanted to mention the standard plastic bags that we see around can be recycled for details and to find a recycling place near you go to PlasticBagRecylcing

Couple of neat cotton grocery bags are below click on the picture to go to their websites.

Live Green!

Interested in reading the whole study click here

The Discovery.com Article is here

NREL’s “DEVap” The Future of Cooling!

Picture Courtesy Larry Page

The Dog Days of Summer are on us already and the heat is climbing everyday. It is a tough choice between deciding whether to switch the Air Conditioner on or keep the windows open which would be the green thing to do. When the heat gets unbearable it is difficult to not reach for the thermostat and switch on the Air Conditioner.

Air Conditioners also mean heftier power bills it climbs up in to the 100$ plus range and one is left wondering what to do to keep oneself cool without spending so much energy and money. MIT’s Technology review states it well “When it comes to home comforts, few inventions can beat the air conditioner for its ability to help us tolerate the dog days of summer. The problem is, when it comes to energy-guzzlers, few inventions can beat the air conditioner”.

A soothing solution is on the way! for both our wallets and our homes.The NREL has built on the basic concept of the swamp cooler to make it effective and efficient to solve our cooling issues.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has invented a new air conditioning process with the potential of using 50 percent to 90 percent less energy than today’s top-of-the-line units. It uses membranes, evaporative cooling and liquid desiccants in a way that has never been done before in the centuries-old science of removing heat from the air.

What are Evaporative Coolers?

Evaporative coolers or Swamp coolers have been used for many many years all over the world to cool rooms during the dog days of summer. They basically use evaporating water to cool the air around. They are referred to as Swamp coolers in the US probably due to the swamp like smell the algae assocaited with earlier products. Swamp coolers are perfect for areas with high heat and low humidity. In dry, arid climates, the installation and operating cost of a swamp cooler can be much lower than standard conditioning, often by 80% or so. However, swamp cooling and vapor-compression air conditioning are sometimes used in combination to produce optimal cooling results.

Swamp coolers are being used world over in tropical countries as a cheaper alternative to Air-conditioning and are typically referred to as desert coolers. The filters which the hot air passes through is made of hay/other fibrous substances which soak in water and let air pass through. the filters are cleaned in regular intervals to keep it algae free.

Like mentioned earlier the thing to watch out for is humidity which works against the cooler as adding more water to the already humid air just makes it more sticky and not cool.

The Coolerado cooler is a unique cooler which uses indirect evaporative systems use a purge air stream that removes heat from the product or supply air stream that is then directed into a building. This still does not help in humid conditions.

NREL’s DEVap The Future of Cooling!

The DEVap solves that problem. It relies on the desiccants’ capacity to create dry air using heat and evaporative coolers’ capacity to take dry air and make cold air.

“By no means is the concept novel, the idea of combining the two, But no one has been able to come up with a practical and cost-effective way to do it. The idea is to revolutionize cooling, while removing millions of metric tons of carbon from the air,” NREL mechanical engineer Eric Kozubal, co-inventor of the Desiccant-Enhanced eVaporative air conditioner (DEVap), said.

Most people know of Desiccants as the small sachets which come with shoes etc to keep them dry. NREL uses syrupy liquid desiccants – highly concentrated aqueous salt solutions of lithium chloride or calcium chloride. They have a high affinity for water vapor, and can thus create very dry air. Desiccant based cooling systems in use were very complex and hence used only for industrial purposes.

NREL uses thin membranes that simplify the process of integrating air flow, desiccants, and evaporative cooling. This results in an air conditioning system that provides superior comfort and humidity control.

The membranes in the DEVap A/C are hydrophobic i.e. means water tends to bead up rather than soak through the membranes. Imagine rain falling on a freshly waxed car. That property allows the membranes to control the liquid flows within the cooling core. “It’s that property that keeps the water and the desiccant separated from the air stream,” Kozubal said.

Picture Source NREL

NREL senior engineer Eric Kozubal examines a prototype air flow channel of the DEVap air conditioner, which he co-invented. The graph superimposed on the photo shows shows how hot humid air, in red, changes to cool dry air, in blue, as the air passes through the DEVap core.

The Devap A/C’s desiccant and evaporative cooling effect work together to create cold-dry air.

What makes it Green and Wallet friendly?

  • DEVap uses 50 percent to 90 percent less energy than top-of-the-line refrigeration-based air conditioning.
  • DEVap uses salt solutions rather than refrigerants, there are no harmful chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) or hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) to worry about.
  • A standard A/C uses around 13pounds of refrigerant which is equivalent to burning more than 1,300 gallons of gasoline, or driving over 60,000 miles in a 2010 Toyota Prius.
  • Traditional air conditioners use a lot of electricity to run the refrigeration cycle, but DEVap replaces that refrigeration cycle with an absorption cycle that is thermally activated. It can be powered by natural gas or solar energy and uses very little electricity.

When one sees what it can do it means that DEVap could become the most energy efficient way to cool your house irrespective of where you live; Phoenix, New York, or Houston.

NREL has patented the DEVap concept, and Kozubal expects that over the next couple of years he will be working on making the device smaller and simpler and perfecting the heat transfer to make DEVap more cost effective.

Eventually, NREL will license the technology to industry, “We’re never going to be in the air conditioner manufacturing business”, said Ron Judkoff, Principle Program Manager for Building Energy Research at NREL. “But we’d like to work with manufacturers to bring DEVap to market and create a more efficient and environmentally benign air conditioning product.”

Hoping the day comes soon when the DEVap is available as a Green and wallet friendly cooling solution on the market. Live Green!

Sources :

NREL article by Bill Scanlon and the picture.

MIT’s Technology Review where I read it first

The Wikipedia for info on Swamp coolers

Seeds of Deception: How the Multinationals Plan To Control the World’s Food Sources

Newspaper cutting

I know the title sounds dire, if we don’t take action against the changing ways of agriculture the title is exactly where the world will be headed. How can one explain in today’s world a billion plus of our fellow human-beings going hungry or dying of hunger?

Let’s take a trip to India a year back, in the April/June of 2009, 1500 farmers took their own lives in the Indian State of Chhattisgarh. Since 1997 100,000 plus farmers have taken their own lives in India the World’s Largest Democracy. What does that have to do with Seeds of Deception you wonder? It does, because the root cause of the farmer’s suicides is linked intrinsically to the seeds and what it signifies. Before delving into that let me lay out some basis of the story.

In the beginning like all politicians the Indian Government too turned a blind eye to the farmer suicides until a diligent journalist P Sainath put it on the front page along with statistics. As always is the case when things look good on the surface no one wants to hear the bad news; so was the case in India. With the Tech boom there was prosperity and progress all over the urban landscape and India was headed full speed into the 21st century.

Sainath says about the press and its non-interest in this catastrophe “In the early years journalism contributed to “the liberation of the human being”. In contrast India’s press today merely performs “stenography” for big business and the governing elite.” I believe it is true globally, with corporations running Newspapers and TV stations and the bottom line being of most importance, “News” has become synonymous with a media outlet which is looking at maximum viewership only and “creating audiences that have no interest in other human beings or the environment around”.

In press reports with the farmer suicides mostly what one heard about was debt driving them to suicide and I was always wondering why? Is there more debt now than in the past? Or was it just not reported?

Green revolution – The Promise of a Better tomorrow

Growing up in the India of the 80’s when Green Revolution was touted as the way out for the millions of her citizens who lived under the poverty line. In School we wrote essays about how things would change with Green Revolution – the panacea for all their woes; the crops would be disease resistant, drought resistance, higher yielding etc… As students we even believed that the world would make so much food that hunger would be a distant memory by 2000! In India even now close to 40% of her 1.2 Billion people live below the poverty line as per global standards i.e. they make do with less than 1.25$ a day. The planning commission of India puts the percentage at around 28%. After decades of the so called “development”, Indian farmers are taking their own lives in more numbers now than poverty took in the past.

My education on the effects of Green Revolution’s aftermath started pretty late in 2002-2003 when I had a chance to listen to world renowned Eco-activist Vandana Shiva. Green Revolution opened India up to Western ways of farming; Machines, Chemical fertilizers and Hybrid seeds which promised better yields and over all better life styles.

A look at farming in India before the advent of BT and GMO

In India traditionally farmers depended on nature for the yields, they did use fertilizers which were natural mostly. They grew diversity of crops depending on season and rotated crops there by keeping the soil fertile i.e. after a crop of paddy when the rain was less they planted crop which required lesser water like peas and these plants once harvested were burned cut etc and mixed back into to soil to fertilize it for the next crop.

Another staple was the seeds farmers saved after a crop was harvested. They would save enough seed for sowing the next year and that was how they kept their farms running. In India almost 80% of the farmers still save their seeds for the next year and it is also exchanged/ shared between neighbors. In 1998 India opened its seed sector to International Agro Business under the World Bank’s new lending policies.

Farming  Changes in India and Farmer Suicides abound!

The 1998 signing of the World Bank Lending Policy signing opened up India’s farms to the global giants in the high yield seed, fertilizer & pesticide field i.e. Monsanto™, Cargill™, ADM™ etc… There were challenges to their entry which delayed the entry of their seeds into the open market until 2002. The main aspect of their high yielding seeds was that they were GMOs which meant seed saving would not work. The farmer would have to buy seeds from the company every year! Another surprise with these new seeds was that they required more water and more chemicals to grow.

One of the major culprits in one of the states which saw a spew of suicides was the BT Cotton from Monsanto™. The main losses in cotton production was due to its susceptibility to about 162 species of insect pests and a number of diseases. Among the insects, cotton bollworms are the most serious pests of cotton in India causing annual losses of at least $300 million. It is estimated that insecticides worth $660 million are used annually on all crops in India of which more than half are used on cotton. Cotton is used to produce cotton seed oil and cotton for fabric.

Picture Courtesy French Agriculture Center for International Development- CIRAD

The farmers had native cotton which was susceptible to the pest Cotton Bollworm (Helicoverpa zea) and Monsanto™’s Bt Cotton was projected as the answer to the farmer’s pest problems. Bt stands for Bacillus thuringiensis a soil dwelling bacteria commonly used as an alternative to pesticide. What Monsanto™ did was it genetically integrated Bt into the cotton seeds there by making it cheaper for the farmers. The biotech industry had created an unprecedented hype around it. However the experiences in Bt cotton farming completely contradict this gung ho propaganda.

The farmers were told this seed would make cotton farming really profitable i.e. the plants would be resistant to the pink bollworm for up to 9 months, and the farmers brought in to the hype, borrowed money from money lenders and brought the costly seeds. Once planted, the farmers realized that it needed 13% more pesticides and much more water than the native varieties. The farmers already stretched thin by buying the costly seeds end up deeper and deeper in debt each year as they have to buy the seed every year along with pesticides and sometimes even water. The farmer has to pay the company e.g. Monsanto™ or its subsidiaries for the seed every year, and he also has to pay back the debt.

In a couple of years if nature too decides to not cooperate as it is doing right now with changing weather patterns, the poor farmers are left with no options to feed their families or pay off the debts. When the stress gets to be too much many of the farmers in India chose to drink the same pesticide they brought to make their yield better as the way out, leaving behind debt and grieving families. As per last report farmers who farmed BT cotton made the largest percentage of the 25,000 farmers who took their lives.

The video below is a short film on the same topic by Chad Heeter a journalism student at U.C. Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism made in 2005 for PBS about the farmer suicides in the Southern state of Andhrapradesh; where 7 farmers were killing themselves every day.

I am not saying stopping GMO’s will save the farmer’s, there are a lot of other steps that need to be taken along with returning to the traditional agrarian way of life incorporating machines and fertilizers, herbicides etc which are helpful and less harmful to the environment on the whole. The government also has to make sure that food which is produced reaches the people who are starving when their crops are destroyed by natural or manmade calamities.

A real Green Revolution has to begin anew as a grass roots movement again from below to keep the coming generations healthy and our environment safe with biodiversity as its main stay. I will write more about what is being done and can be done in my next post.

In 2009 BT cotton in the state of Gujarat started getting attacked by boll worms again! The boll worms had mutated and became resistant to BT! It was the first time Monsanto™ accepted that BT resistance has been found anywhere in the world.

BT cotton usage in India

In 2007 for the first time, India grew more Bt cotton (3.8 million hectares) than China (3.5 million hectares) and moved up the world ranking by two places to number five in the world of biotech crops, overtaking both China and Paraguay!

What are GMO’s?

GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism i.e. Genetic engineering alters the genetic codes of the DNA in the organism by splicing in other genes from other forms of life; i.e. other plant forms, insects, bacteria and even viruses. This creates mutant organisms and dangerously mutating genes, solely for the commercial demands on different forms of produce. The companies who produce / patent these are also the ones which manufacture the pesticides fertilizers etc which are needed to produce maximum yield.

The way I understand it is kind of like how a doctor friend of mine explained the misuse of antibiotics to me. She said in layman’s terms when we skip one doze of antibiotic some bacteria inside us get away and mutate to become resistant to that particular medicine. This also happens with recurring antibiotic use which ultimately produces a new more virulent, antibiotic resistant strain of the bacteria.

Monsanto™ and companies like it patent these genes and seeds after they genetically alter them and once they get into a market they influence the politicians into changing the seed laws in those countries. The GMO seeds have been around since 1996, and the companies which manufacture these seeds have used their persuasion skills and lobbying to get seed acts ratified in many countries including Iraq(2004) world over. What the seed acts do is it restricts the sale of native seeds and makes it impossible for farmers to exchange seeds or do seed saving.

It also will lead to a time in the future when the world food sources will be controlled by these Bio-tech Giants.

A sampling of the GMO use in the US agricultural produce as of 2007 June:

  • Soy (91%)
  • Cotton (88%)
  • Canola (80-85%)
  • Corn (85%)
  • Hawaiian papaya (more than 50%)
  • Alfalfa, zucchini and yellow squash (a small amount)
  • Tobacco (Quest® brand)

Some other GMO sources in our daily food chain.

  • Dairy products from cows injected with rbGH.
  • Food additives, enzymes, flavorings, and processing agents, including the sweetener aspartame (NutraSweet®) and rennet used to make hard cheeses
  • Meat, eggs, and dairy products from animals that have eaten GM feed
  • Honey and bee pollen that may have GM sources of pollen
  • Contamination or pollination caused by GM seeds or pollen

What are GMO’s? What is rGBH? How do they affect us and the environment? all this and more in the next post 🙂

My Sources for research:

  1. Newspaper accounts and What I have heard and learned along the way from school to now.
  2. Vandana Shiva and her Earth Democracy – her talks writings etc…
  3. Jeffrey M Smith: His writings and research are of utmost importance to anyone who is interested in learning about GMO’s and their impact. The title of my post is also courtesy his website. If there is just one book you will read about GMO’s and their effects please read “Genetic Roulette” By Jeffrey Smith there is an amazon link below.
  4. Bio Spectrum India – The Mag about how Bio technology is the future.

Will be continued… Be Aware! Live Green !!

Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods

A Dozen Plus Green Gift Ideas for Fathers Day

Father’s Day a day to honor fathers, paternal bonds, and the communal influence of fathers. Just like mother’s day it is celebrated by everyone to celebrate their fathers.

In the US it falls on the 3rd Sunday of June which incidentally falls on the 20th of June this year. Father’s day became a national event after it was designated a national holiday by President Nixon in 1972.  So every year we all think about what to get dad? I know if and when I have asked my father what I can get him he always says “I don’t need anything” and then am going behind his back talking to mom and then my siblings we discuss and discuss and discuss until we reach invariably the same conclusion every year – a Tie / a New Pen / electronics??. And of course the card!

The last few years I have searched diligently to find something Green for him and have mostly ended up with a handmade card and a bottle of his favorite scotch =) so this year I thought I needed to work a little more and find a list of things my dad or any other dad would love to have and would make more sense environmentally. My dad loves to spend time in his vegetable patch when not at work, so I will probably also go look at some seeds / plants etc… native of course. Then since he takes care of a whole region and needs to keep in touch via email and phone a some new technology stuff might come in handy too… well let me make a list… Yeah I do still kind of stick to handmade cards it just adds to the personal touch and makes both of us happy giving and recieving it =)

So here it goes my list of Green Gifts for the Special Man in your life –

My first Choice is a donation in Dad’s name to the Ocean Conservancy or the Ocean Futures Society to help protect the Oceans and the Ocean dwellers. The clean up of the OilSpill in the Gulf is being funded by BP but the aftermath of the spill will be long lasting and will need all the donations it can get. I have also added a list of charities at the end of the list just incase you are a donor looking to make a gift which helps others in your dad’s name.

1. What better way than a lasting gift that keeps on giving. The Nature Conservancy protects Earth’s most important natural places — for you and future generations — through great science and smart partnerships. Your dad will adore receiving this fun and personalized gift that helps to protect and restore the Earth’s most critical natural places.

I am sure it would make any Green guy happy! Price: 50$ or more per Acre.

2. A board game for the little ones and DadBioviva

The more we understand about nature the more we’ll want to help preserve it. This award-winning game will help instill in your kids, and yourself, an interest in learning more about nature and our planet. In this game two to six players assume the roles of adventurers thirsting for knowledge. Each player begins the game by drawing a destination card. Multiple choice question cards are drawn throughout the game covering topics such as solar systems, plant/animal behavior, evolution, and other areas. Eco-points are awarded along with advice about environmental protection to players correctly answering questions, with the winner being the first player to collect the required eco-points for the locations listed on his or her destination card. Suitable for 2 to 6 players, ages 8 and older. Approximate playing time is 60 minutes.

All printed materials with this game are from recycled materials and recyclable, with vegetable-based inks. The wooden pawns are made from beech trees from PEFC certified French forests. What better way to inculcate the love for the environment in kids and also bond with Dad!

Price: around 30$

3. A Backpack for dad’s laptop with solar changers integrated! How cool is that?

The Voltaic Converter is a versatile solar backpack for charging handheld electronics. It is a small light weight day bag with a compartment for a water bladder, so it is ideal for biking and hiking.

  • 4.5 watts of solar power for fast charging.
  • The solar panels protect fragile items inside.
  • Included battery pack which stores power until you need it.
  • 10 adapters for easy connection to handheld electronics.
  • Wire channels throughout the backpack for headphones, bladder tubes etc.
  • High density padding in the shoulder straps and back .
  • Can be worn as a backpack or sling bag.
  • Mesh backing material for better air flow.
  • Shell uses 600D fabric made from recycled PET (soda bottles), which is tough, water resistant and light weight.
  • Indicator light inside the logo shows when the panels are generating a charge.

Price: 200$

4. A solar Cooker from Sun Ovens

Sun Ovens International is striving to develop and implement comprehensive solar cooking programs that will radically decrease the developing world’s dependence on fuel wood and dung as the primary cooking fuels while benefiting the environment, raising the standard of living and improving the health of the poor worldwide. Solar cooking doesn’t have to be limited, however, to those in developing countries. Sun Ovens can be used anywhere, year-round.

Price: Around 300$

5. iSolPlus – The Super solar charger Get Dad a portable charger to help keep his small electrical device running longer. We have all experienced running out of power while listening to your MP3 player, playing your PSP or talking on your cell phone. Silicon Solar offers the new iSol Plus. This innovative solar charger can be charged using free solar energy. No sun available? Don’t worry, the iSol Plus can also be charged using your computer’s USB port.

The iSol Plus comes with 3 different DC output settings: 5.5v, 7.5v and 9.5v. The charging time for the iSol Plus using the solar panel is about 10-20 hours and 2-4 hours using the USB connector.

The iSol Plus is great for PDA, MP3, IPOD and more. The kit also comes with adaptors for some Motorola and Samsung cell phones. Adaptors are constantly changing with today’s technology and if this kit doesn’t have what you need, there are many companies that sell the USB adaptors for your device. If you have a USB adaptor to charge your device you will be able to use the iSol Plus to provide the charge. A male USB Mini 5 Pin adaptor is included with the iSols, rather than a female USB A (standard USB).

Price: around 35-40$

If looking for some more solar stuff check out here

They also have some cool lights on sale here

6. A Green Laptop Jacket for Dad

GreenSmart’s Laptop Jackets are a stylish choice for laptop protection. They are made from supple, strong, durable fabrics derived from 100% post consumer recycled plastic water and soda bottles.

Eco-friendly Always On Protection stays on your laptop full time, to open and close with it. Sized to fit your laptop, lightweight, and sleek enough to fit into another carrying bag. Handles can be used for carrying or tucked away. Shoulder strap included for added convenience. Price: $45.00

7. Dad needs a new display for his Computer? Get him a Green one!

Lenovo L2440P 24 inch Wide Flat Panel Native resolution of 1920 x 1200; Internal power with 35 watts/50 watts power consumption; Up to 50% less power consumption than conventional monitors of the same size and resolution; 33% less mercury content than conventional monitors of the same size and resolution; Four high speed USB 2.0 connectors; Tilt, Swivel, and height adjustable stand ; Pivot for portrait or landscape viewing; Analog and DVI-D video signal connectors; supports HDCP: Compliance with Energy Star 4.1 requirements; Kensington Lock slot for security; TCO 03 compliance; EPEAT Gold certified; GREENGUARD certified  

Price: $374.99

Anything Tech related and Green You can find a few more here

8. Does Dad love his iPod? Get him a Green iPod speaker! Sprout Creation Vers 2X – Bamboo

Vers2X – Bamboo Ever heard of a plastic violin… neither have we. Vers is the first hand-crafted wood iPod speaker with real wood finish – made to look and sound like a musical instrument. The lustrous bamboo finish will match any decor in your home, and the 1/2″ thick wood speaker chambers and dual ported stereo design provide exceptional sound performance. Perfect for the Family room, Kitchen or Bedroom, or anywhere where superior acoustics are demanded.

Vers is more than just a great looking and sounding speaker system; it is good for the planet. The wood comes from sustainable plantation forests, what is used is replaced. Vers also features a low power consumption amplifier and power supply to save energy, plus all packaging comes from recycled material and is completely recyclable.

Price: $199.99

9. Recycled Glass bowls and Glasses from Amazon price from 20- 56$

10. Swiss Army knife with a Blade, Nail file with Screwdriver, Scissors, Key ring, Tweezers, LED Mini White Light (18,000 MCD)

11. A Casio Solar powered digital watch – Shopping for a fashionable, feature-packed timepiece doesn’t need to drain your bank account. The affordable Casio Men’s Tough Solar Digital Sports Watch #WL500-1A comes packed with features typically found in more expensive digital watches, like solar powered quartz movement–which means you’ll never need to change its battery–an LED light with Afterglow technology for telling time in the dark, a day and month calendar, and four daily alarms (including a snooze function for when you need a few extra minutes of sleep). This watch also includes a stopwatch that can record split time and a low battery warning. With a resin band with a traditional buckle clasp, this watch is water-resistant to 165 feet (50 meters).  

Casio Solar Watches Price: 30$ to 300$

12. A Recycled Cycle Chain Bottle Opener – Manly indeed!

The first chain-driven bike was made in 1885. But it took more than a century for the next great innovation – the recycled chain bottle opener – to be developed. The flexible chain makes a unique handle for the colorful anodized aluminum head. So much fun to play with you’ll wish twist-offs had never been invented. And of course a good conversation starter!

Mix and match colors. Dimensions: 8” x 1.5”. Available in Red, Silver, Green, Blue, and Orange.

Price: 11$   Bambeco has a lot of Eco-friendly stuff in different price ranges.

These are some other charities who do amazing work around the world do take a moment and check them out when you have some money and time to spare. Thank you.

For Human rights – Amnesty

For Global Education – Cosmos Education

For the Children – Worldvision

For fighting Aids and Malaria – Global Fund

For the wildlife around the world – WWF

For the Chimpanzees – Save the Chimps

For Women – Women for Women

For the environment – Stop global warming

Well looks like I have enough for this year will have to pick something soon so I can get it to dad by Father’s Day. Happy Green Gift Shopping! Live Green!

The Green Car that Could:The Story of SRZero

An Electric car which can race around a track (for those who know London it is the M25) of 115miles twice at 55mph on a single charge! An Electric Race car? Sounds like fiction? Rest assured it is for real. This is the story of the Green car that can hit speeds of upto 125 mph looks very attractive and cool and can go long distances previously thought “naahh maybe…” comfortably! Does the Picture below look like an EV you imagined?

The Super Electric Car

Picture courtesy RGE website  

Racing Green Endurance (RGE) is a team of 11 highly motivated students from the Energy Futures Lab, Electronic Engineering & Mechanical Engineering and staff from the Imperial College of London. RGE is their flagship project; many in the team have experience in building hydrogen/electric hybrid race cars as part of the Imperial Racing Green initiative.

The RGE team converted a Radical SR8 to an SRZero all-electric Super car! The Radical SR8 is quite simply the world’s fastest production sports car, holding the lap record around the world’s longest and most arduous track – the Nürburgring Nordschleife.

Check out the Video of their drive on M25 Courtesy ImperialRGE on Youtube

 

After this successful test drive on the M25, the RGE team is planning to hit the Pan-American Highway (47,958 kilometers or 29,800 miles long, considered the longest motorable road by the Guinness Book of World Records. It is a network of roads which travel from the Northern most point in the America’s Prudhoe Bay in Alaska down all the way to Ushuaia in Argentina) for the ultimate test! They plan to travel from The Prudhoe Bay to Tierra Del Feugo to prove to doubters that an EV (Electric Vehicle) can be cool, quick and could go the distance!  

In an interview with wired.com team spokesman Andy Hadland said “The perception still exists that EVs are somehow inferior to their fossil fueled counterparts,” “There is always a caveat. ‘I’d buy one, but they only go a few miles … they aren’t really zero carbon … they take too long to charge.’ These are all perceptions that we want to change.”

The RGE website says their aims are as follows:

SUSTAINABILITY
Electric vehicles have the potential to realise a sustainable transport future, without depleting valuable resources for future generations. The RGE project aims to demonstrate this while pushing the boundaries of EV technology.

EDUCATION
The team want to help encourage the next generation of scientists and engineers through our outreach program. They plan to use the RGE project as an exhilarating example of where maths and science can take you.

ADVENTURE
The Radical SRZero aims to be the world’s most focused, fun-to-drive alternative propulsion vehicle. By taking on this epic journey, we hope to add a sense of excitement and get people interested in electric vehicles.

The SRZero has the SR8’s 2.6-liter V-8 engine and six-speed gearbox replaced by two AC synchronous Axial Flux motors. The motors were custom-wound to maximize efficiency at highway cruising speeds. They produce 72 kilowatts (96.5 horsepower) continuous and 144 kilowatts (193 horsepower) peak. The car weighs 1,100 kilograms. It has a top speed of 125mph with an acceleration of 0-60mph in 7seconds, full charge with a 6hour plug in which will last for 250miles at a cost of £0.01/mile! The Car has Thunder sky Lithium Iron Phosphate cells with a total capacity of 56kWh to support the 2 Evo-electric motors in the back which transform electrical energy into mechanical energy.

The trip starts July 8 in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. All the very best to the Electrical Super Car!!

Look-wise and design-wise it sounds very attractive and eco-friendly! Future of the auto-industry sans non-renewable energy sources looks safe in these young hands.

To know more about RGE and the Electrical Super Car here

And for the Wired.com article click here

2 Green Products For A Green Summer

We have been searching to find something useful and green; And there are just so many Green products out there. Then we thought it is going to be summer, which means yard work! Found these two products – One will help you cut manicure your lawns and give you a decent workout, and the other one will reduce the amount of waste that goes into the waste dumps. Using less motorized equipments and composting essential parts of a Green garden!

Remember pushing the lawnmower around as youngster? Well that was and still is the eco-friendly way to cut grass and keep your lawn looking good. Our first product is the Brill Razorcut Lawn mower.

Everything that is old is new again.  Here is Push Reel Lawn Mower that is a joy to use.  Lightweight, super efficient, easy-to-handle and quiet. And as an added bonus — no pollution. This really is one of, if not the best, push mowers you can buy.  Green living is easy.

Brill Razorcut Push reel mower

BRILL REEL MOWER BENEFITS:

5 Blades — The optimal number of blades for superior cutting and ease of pushing.

Weighs only 17 pounds – light enough to hang on the garage wall or pick up with one hand

8 inch diameter wheels

Silent cut design — The blade misses the bedknife by less than a millimeter. This reduces friction and allows the mower to cut the grass like scissors. It also increases the blade life, which means you won’t have to sharpen for a decade or more.

Flame hardened, welded steel blades — harder than tempered alloy, which also helps increase blade life.

Dry powder coat on metal components — Powder coated surfaces are more resistant to chipping, scratching, fading, and wearing than other finishes. And colors stay bright and vibrant longer. Powder coating is also highly protective of the environment, because it contains no solvents.

Sealed bearings. No extra maintenance required, because the bearings are sealed.

Brill mowers feature a 2 year manufacturer’s warranty.

The Silent Cut Design reduces wear and tear on the blades. In this system, the reel blade and the bedknife don’t come in contact – instead they remain separated by less than a millimeter and shear the grass like scissors. This clean cut also helps the grass recover, because it doesn’t mangle the stem or leave a jagged edge.

This lets you cut low enough for the golf course look, and high enough for an average length c
Cutting height ranges from 15mm to 45mm (0.7 inches to 1.8 inches). ut for a wide variety of grass types.

Mowing width is 38 cm (15.2 inches). Small enough to maneuver easily through the yard, but still about 75 percent as wide as the average 20 inch wide gas mower.

Mower comes fully assembled except for the handle. The handle comes in three pieces and requires no tools to put together and attach to the mower. Takes about 10 minutes to get out of the box and into the yard. The handle has a great design giving this model a more stylish and sleek look while allowing for easy maneuvering.

Detailed information on the ball bearing system:
Brill reel mowers have a sealed bearing with a separate bearing race.

Types of grass where the Brill is NOT usually suitable

Brill mowers are lightweight, which makes them perfect for most types of grass. However, a few thicker grasses will typically pose problems for Brill mowers. If you have St Augustine grass, Zoysia, or Bermuda, then you should consider something like the Scotts Classic reel mower instead, which does fine with those grasses.

Things to keep in mind with any manual reel mower

1. Manual reel mowers don’t cut tall weeds well (but they do great on grass!). Because of the design, the reel will roll over tall weeds and dandelions without cutting much. So they aren’t a good choice to mow a vacant lot, but they’ll do superbly with a grass lawn.

2. If you don’t mow weekly, it’s going to be much harder to push. You know how a gas mower will bog down when you try to mow grass that hasn’t been cut in weeks? Well, it’s like that with a reel mower, except you’re the motor.

Priced around 300$ inclusive of the grass catcher. You can buy it HERE

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Our Second Product is a simple compostor made out of recycled plastics, which makes composting easy and affordable.

This unobtrusive recycled plastic composter is an easy way to turn kitchen scraps and other organic waste from your home into fertilizer for your garden.

The durable design of this compost bin makes it an efficient composter for kitchen scraps and yard waste. The large lid, oversized handle, and 4 sliding access panels (one on each side) make it easy for any gardener to start composting. As the organic material decomposes, you simply open any one of the sliding panels and shovel out your rich, high-quality compost.

Recycled Plastic Compost Bin Features and Benefits:

  • Requires no tools for assembly, so you can start composting in a matter of minutes.
  • Holds more than 12 cubic feet of material (approximately 90 gallons), which is plenty of room for several bags of leaves, grass clippings, kitchen scraps, etc.
  • The extra-large lid allows you to add lots of organic material at once. This also helps with watering and mixing the compost.
  • Features 4 sliding panels so you can easily take out the compost with a shove.
  • Opened bottom compost bin. This lets the liquid compost tea that comes from the compost seep into the soil where the bin is located, improving the soil in the area around where you’ve set up the composting unit.
  • Wide air slots for proper air circulation and efficient decomposition of organic waste.
  • Dimensions 85centimeters tall x 75 centimeters wide x 75 centimeters deep (the approximate size in inches is 33″ h x 28.5″ w x 28.5″ d)
  • Comes with easy to assemble instructions.
  • Made from 100% recycled Polypropylene plastic.
  • The dark color soaks up sunlight and maintains a warm operating temperature for accelerated results.

The Polypropylene plastic that’s used in this composter is unusual. Unlike type 1 plastic (PETE) or type 2 plastic (HDPE), Polypropylene (type 5 plastic) usually ends up in the landfill rather than being recycled into new products. There isn’t much demand for recycled Polypropylene – it’s primarily used to make bottle caps and drinking straws, and those can’t be made from recycled plastic for sanitary reasons. By purchasing products made with recycled Polypropylene, you can help prevent unnecessary waste and create market demand that encourages more people to recycle.

Energy Saving

Using this product will cut down on the amount of energy we use in our everyday life.

Low Carbon Footprint

Through its process it does no produce a large amount of CO2.

Recyclable and/or Recyclable Packaging

The materials used in this product can be recycled at the end of its use, or is made from recycled materials which saves waste.

If your compost dries out too quickly, you can help keep moisture inside by adding coco fiber to the compost mix. By using a good mix of dry and wet ingredients, you can accelerate the process of turning trimmings and kitchen scraps into healthy soil!

Priced around 120$ this is available Here

Hope it helped in Greening your Garden! Live Green!