Monday, 20 December 2010 15:11

Ford to Use Recycled Jeans in the New Focus

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The 2012 Ford Focus' quiet ride is brought to drivers in part by post-consumer cotton from recycled blue jeans. The automaker incorporated cotton from recycled clothing to produce material for carpets and sound-absorption in the Focus, to be available in the early part of 2011. It takes about two pairs of average-sized American jeans to outfit a car. “The good news is these jeans didn’t end up in a landfill, nor did we use the water, fertilizer and land to grow virgin cotton,” said Carrie Majeske, Ford's product sustainability manager. “It’s an alternative that our customers can appreciate, it’s cost-effective, and it’s better for our planet. These are the kinds of sustainable solutions we are looking for in all our vehicles.” Ford Motors has an established track record of utilizing recycled materials in its vehicles, such as resins recycled out of detergent bottles or tires to make aerodynamic shields. By their own calculations, in 2009 Ford diverted between 25 and 30 million pounds of plastic from landfills and saved $4.5 million by reusing recycled materials.
Monday, 20 December 2010 15:00

Savers Bank Joins Fight on Climate Change

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Savers Bank of Massachusetts is now supporting Carbonfund.org, donating to help our organization's programs and projects to fight climate change. Savers Bank is committed to giving back to the communities the bank serves and that involves taking steps to preserving the environment. The bank gives incentives to their customers to switch to e-statements and places a strong focus on Earth Day annually by providing useful tips to their customers to conserve energy, as well as giving out thousands of reusable shopping bags to customers and charitable organizations. They also encourage communities to recycle while protecting their personal information by offering free shredding throughout the year. In 2008, the bank purchased a fuel-efficient Honda Element that they use for volunteer purposes and business runs. In effort to encourage their customers to go green they will be introducing a green auto loan in 2011 which will provide customers with a better interest rate for fuel-efficient vehicles. With offices in Southbridge, Uxbridge, Auburn, Grafton, Charlton and Sturbridge, Savers Bank is a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Federal Home Loan Bank, the Co-operative Central Bank, and Massachusetts Bankers Association. Founded in 1910, Savers Bank has assets of over $400 million, offers a full range of consumer and commercial banking services and a strong legacy of community commitment and customer service. For more information, call 1-800-649-3036 or visit www.saversbank.com.
In this season of giving, who doesn’t love to receive a bouquet of fresh flowers? Working with flowers is a daily reminder of our earth's natural beauty, and that message certainly isn't lost on Bloom Nation florists, who not only deliver beautifully crafted bouquets across the country but give back to the earth with each order. Bloom Nation, one of Carbonfund.org’s new partners, offers hundreds of breathtakingly beautiful flower arrangements for every occasion, and other gift options including teddy bears, gourmet gift baskets, and scrumptious treats, and they send “more than just flowers!”  Bloom Nation reduces the carbon footprint created by growing, cutting, shipping and delivering the flowers through Carbonfund.org's CarbonFree® Shipping program, which means a portion of the cost of each bouquet supports Carbonfund.org’s forest-based projects, such as the Amazon Forest Conservation Project. These projects are conserving forests or reforesting land to reduce CO2 from the atmosphere and help improve local air quality, while also helping communities by providing habitat for local wildlife or providing employment opportunities. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Bloom Nation has more than 1,000 gift ideas and offers same-day shipping to ensure last-minute inspiration gets there on time. Each gift given through Bloom Nation is pulling double duty – bringing a smile to your friend or loved one and helping reforest and preserve carbon-sequestering forests.
Thursday, 16 December 2010 15:44

Antarctic Ice Melts Further as Warmer Water Rises

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For more than a century, much of Earth's warming was buried deep in oceans and a new study reveals it's starting to surface in Antarctica. Global sea temperatures are on the rise, but the largest increase has been measured in the frigid waters off the Western Antarctic Peninsula, according to a report presented at a recent meeting of the American Geophysical Union by physical oceanographer Doug Martinson. The warm water is raising air temperatures, melting glaciers and already impacting penguin colonies. Scientists have estimated that more than 90% of the warming from human-generated greenhouse gases would end up in the oceans. Through the process of upwelling, that heat is now reaching the surface and causing 87% of alpine glaciers in that region to retreat, taking with it the Adele penguins' feeding platform – not to mention threatening their ice-dwelling diet of Antarctic krill and silverfish. Scientists are particularly concerned about the Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers, located below the Antarctic Peninsula, which are thinning at a rate of 160 feet a year as warm waters eat away at their underside. "There's the potential that we're locked into long term sea level rise for a long time," Martinson told Discovery News. This finding makes finding solutions to reduce future greenhouse gas emissions even more important as we begin to feel the toll of past emissions.  Find out what you can do to mitigate further warming at Carbonfund.org.
Carbonfund.org is honored to sit on the Leadership Committee for National Wildlife Federation's 2011 National Conservation Achievement Awards Banquet. In addition to supporting this important event Carbonfund.org will be working with the event's greening committee to ensure that all the travel, hotel stay and premises emissions are carbon neutral. For 2011 National Wildlife Federation celebrates its 75th Anniversary and the start of one of America’s largest and most influential conservation organizations. In 1936, cartoonist J.N. “Ding” Darling called the nation’s first-ever meeting of conservationists to protect America’s vanishing wildlife resources. Out of this meeting, the National Wildlife Federation began. Since 1965, NWF has been honoring conservationists through its National Conservation Achievement Awards (also known as “The Connies”). This annual celebration honors individuals and organizations that have been conservation heroes. In the past this honor has gone to former Vice President Al Gore, author Thomas Friedman, former President Jimmy Carter, Lady Bird Johnson, Ted Turner, the Anheuser-Busch Companies and many other distinguished recipients. This year's event honors First Lady Michelle Obama, Robert Redford, AVEDA, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and Dr. Virginia Burkett. The event is Wednesday, April 13, 2010, 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The evening will include a cocktail reception followed by a seated dinner program featuring Master of Ceremonies actress Gloria Reuben along with NWF Naturalist Dave Mizejewski and some of his animal friends. To learn more, please click here.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="347" caption="UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses COP16 in Cancun, Mexico. "][/caption] The two-week United Nations climate summit in Cancun (COP16) wrapped up with a plan of action that promised aid for developing countries, technology transfer and the protection of more forests. But the summit was largely a failure and missed opportunity for not seeking greater accountability from countries to reduce emissions or agreeing on a more comprehensive set of solutions to climate change. Carbonfund.org has called upon countries to take action, at a minimum by extending the term of the Kyoto Protocol or by taking steps to build on the progress of Kyoto and the voluntary carbon markets. There are enough potential carbon buyers in the European Union, Japan, Australia and Canada and enough potential carbon sellers in China, India, Indonesia and Brazil to create a robust carbon reduction pact. “We have the technical capability and market readiness to transform our global economy to one where clean energy costs less than dirty energy and efficient technology costs less than inefficient technology,” said Carbonfund.org President Eric Carlson. The "Cancun Agreement" received near unanimous support from member states except Bolivia, which stood alone in condemning the document as too weak in its emissions targets and its accountability of industrialized nations. Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa, who presided over the conference, overruled Bolivia's dissent and declared the agreement official, stating "consensus doesn't mean unanimity." Wrangling nearly 200 nations into agreement was viewed as some progress, considering the initial opposition of carbon-emitting powerhouses United States and China. Among China's concerns was that foreign states might find themselves privy to sensitive national data. A compromise on monitoring meant that countries that fund climate mitigation can report their own progress, and nations receiving international support to fund their efforts will be subject to verification through biennial international consultations. American climate envoy Todd Stern told Reuters that China's willingness to take on an emissions commitment and to do so in a transparent manner helps ease concerns in the US about what rapidly developing countries are doing to fight climate change. Meanwhile, the US faces tough odds of meeting its Copenhagen pledge of a 17 percent cut in emissions by 2020 given a divided Congress and continued uncertainty over the steps that EPA will take to regulate emissions. The Cancun Agreement itself is more an action plan than an executable solution. The three main areas outlined in the agreement are: • Green Climate Fund. Rich nations will deliver $30 billion by 2012 to poor countries and follow that up with an annual transfer of $100 billion by 2020 for cleaner energy and to help them adapt to climate change impacts such as drought and sea level rise. The exact source of the funds is undefined. • Forest protection. Financial mechanisms were developed to prevent clear-cutting of tropical forests that serve to store carbon from the atmosphere. Details of how forests will be monitored are to be determined. • Technology Executive Committee. The group will set up rules to transfer clean energy technologies to poor nations. The problem with this plan is it comes much too late, doesn’t go far enough to make a big dent on climate change, and lacks teeth. The international community walked away from Cancun without creating a system to enforce these points, track the dollars or measure progress. Thus it will continue to fall primarily on non-governmental actors including individuals and businesses to fight climate change. The UN’s next step will be moving to action on these points by the next climate summit in Durban, South Africa beginning in November 2011. Also on the table in South Africa is the fate of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, set to expire 2012. The agreement, which included the European Union and industrialized nations but not the US, set reduction standards for greenhouse gas emissions. Renewal is uncertain as Japan and Russia are presently refusing to sign the protocol unless China and India are included.
Tuesday, 14 December 2010 17:58

Three Great Gifts under $35

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It happens every year. Your group gets everyone excited about a Secret Santa or White Elephant gift exchange, then sets a dollar limit that makes it pretty hard to give (or receive) something that's not going to end up at the bottom of a drawer. Or trapped in a spiral of regifting. If you're feeling hard-pressed to find a quality gift under $35, Grounds for Change, a certified carbon neutral product by our CarbonFree® certification program, is serving up three great options this year that you know will be enjoyed. Not only does Grounds for Change brew up rich, full-bodied, Fair Trade Organic coffees, it's a company run with a commitment to social and environmental sustainability that you can be proud supporting. Order before 11:00pm tonight to meet the standard ground shipping deadline to make sure your gift arrives by Christmas. After that they suggest upgrading to a expedited shipping method to have it by December 24th. Chocoholic Gift Box ($33.95) - Satisfy the craving for that perfect combination of coffee and chocolate with this box packed with three bags of organic beans and three different bars of dark chocolate. Femenino Gift Box ($33.95) - Celebrate Fair Trade and women's rights in coffee producing countries with this trio of blends from Mexico and Peru, plus a handmade copper and brass coffee scoop from Chile. Mini Medley Gift Box ($30.95) - A gift to indulge all tastes, this medley includes two bags of coffee, one box of tea and a canister of hot chocolate mix.
Tuesday, 14 December 2010 12:06

Flexible Solar Panels Popping up in Cities

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Building vast fields of solar panels is a clean and efficient way to power a community, but the challenge is in the long-distance transmission. Where are you going to find the space to build solar fields in huge cities like New York or Los Angeles? Developers have been chasing the solution in the form of very thin plastic solar cells that can be attached to anything from windows to car roofs, and one tech company took a leap forward to deliver. Konarka Technologies, Inc., already produces thin organic based photovoltaic (OPV) solar cells like the ones seen on backpacks that can charge your cell phone, but those only produce at a low energy level. Konarka's newest inception of OPV solar cells demonstrated a record-breaking 8.3% efficiency. The possibilities are great, although maybe not quite New York City-block huge. At least not right now anyway. San Francisco took the torch and ran with this innovation in 2009, outfitting bus stop shelters with thin OPV solar cells embedded in wavy red "Power Plastic." California sunshine is absorbed during the day and used to power the intercom, LED lighting and wireless routers for the city-wide WiFi that San Franciscans enjoy.
The 8.3% efficiency rating on flexible cells is about half the energy produced from the rigid, silicon-based solar panels, so it won't be lighting up entire cities just yet. Bus shelters are a small step but at least one in the right direction.