Jordana Fyne

Jordana Fyne

Tuesday, 14 December 2010 17:58

Three Great Gifts under $35

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.
If your home improvement goals include a new roof, more efficient heating system or better insulation, you have until December 31st to make use of Uncle Sam's help. The federal energy-efficiency tax credits for these types of projects could run out at the end of the year. It might be a squeeze to get it done but with upwards of $1,500 available, it's worth a try.
Tax Credit: 30% of cost up to $1,500
  • Biomass stoves
  • Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC)
  • Insulation
  • Roofs
  • Water heaters
  • Windows and doors
For more extensive projects that involve reworking the way your home consumes energy, tax credits are available until the end of 2016. If you're looking to get off the grid by implementing renewable energy systems like solar, Uncle Sam can rebate up to 30 percent of the total cost. Tax Credit: 30% of cost with no upper limit
  • Geothermal heat pump
  • Small wind turbine
  • Solar energy systems
The best part about this deal is that energy-efficient projects continue to save you money long after the tax rebate comes in. The average U.S. household spends $1,400 each year on their energy bills, according to ENERGY STAR.  By choosing energy-efficient products, each household could cut this by 30 percent, saving more than $400 each year.
No, these aren’t cards made of carbon copy paper (like kids today would even know what that is). Carbon Cards™ are lottery-like cards covered with scratchable dots. Students take the cards through the community, where people scratch off one or more dots, revealing a donation amount ranging from $1 to $3. They then donate the total amount they scratched off. This allows organizations to raise money quickly and easily, and Gone Green Fundraisers™ donates a portion of its proceeds to Carbonfund.org’s carbon mitigation projects. While each dot’s scratch-off commitment is small, between $1-3, it adds to $120 per card toward your school or organization’s fundraising goals. “Modern fundraising is challenging,” said Joni Sue Cleavenger, founder of Gone Green Fundraisers™. “It has to be able to generate cash, and lots of it, but people are just as hard off as schools and no one wants to buy things that they don’t want or need. This makes a great school fundraiser!” “These cards really do more with every dollar,” Cleavenger said. “It gives people a chance to do something about the energy crisis with only a small donation and fund their community school at the same time. This has a real, everyday impact on the kids.” Have your kids ever done a cookie dough fundraiser? Remember picking up the tubs of cookie dough from the school, jamming your freezer with them, delivering them on behalf of your kids, and then having literally gallons of leftover cookie dough stare you in the face every time you open your freezer for the next six months? Doesn’t that make scratch-off cards sound lovely? It also has the added bonus of a built-in donation to critical reforestation, renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, as well as the built-in lesson for the kids about the importance of caring for our environment. So at your next community fundraising meeting, we encourage you to bake a plate of cookies from last year's dough and print out some information about Carbon Cards™ to share this great concept. Your fellow parents will thank you.
Wednesday, 21 September 2011 14:09

Free National Park Entrance this Saturday

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="400" caption="Joshua Tree National Park"][/caption] Ken Burns calls them America's Best Idea and this Saturday, September 24st, you can indulge in the beauty and splendor of our country's national parks for free. While there are 395 parks that are free on a daily basis, parks like Joshua Tree in California, the Everglades in Florida or the Badlands in South Dakota (plus a TON more) usually charge an entrance fee that will be waived on Saturday. The occasion is National Public Lands Day, the country's largest single-day effort to spruce up parks and other spaces. You can enjoy this opportunity to spend a leisurely day at a park, or join in with volunteers to plant trees, repair trails and make other enhancements on public lands. Saturday is also the Worldwide Day of Play, an event encouraging children to get up and get active. The flagship event will take place in Washington, DC, at President's Park and is hosted by Nickelodeon, the National Park Service and the Nation Park Foundation. Young or old, in the mood to volunteer or take a hike - whatever your outdoorsy agenda may be - click here to find a park near you and take advantage of this free great idea on  Saturday.
Monday, 20 December 2010 15:11

Ford to Use Recycled Jeans in the New Focus

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.
Tuesday, 14 December 2010 12:06

Flexible Solar Panels Popping up in Cities

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.
Thursday, 02 December 2010 14:59

5 Free Green Apps for Your Phone

1. CauseWorld (iPhone and Android): This app works like a digital loyalty card. “Check in” with your phone when you walk into stores and businesses and instead of collecting hole punches in a card, you rack up karma points that can be used to donate to your favorite cause. For one karma point, Carbonfund.org will offset two pounds of CO2. [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="199" caption="CauseWorld app"][/caption] 2. Green Gas Saver (iPhone): You may have heard taking it easy on turns and acceleration will improve your car's fuel efficiency, but it's hard to always remember that behind the wheel. This app allows you to snap your iPhone or iPod Touch into a dashboard mount and receive a fuel efficiency score at the end of your trip. Green Gas Saver is also popular tool for the terrified parents of new teenage drivers. 3. Find Green (iPhone and Android): Formerly known as 3rdWhale, Find Green helps you do just that. The GPS-powered app pinpoints your location and directs you to nearby green and sustainable businesses. With over 60,000 listings, you can flip through everything from retail to food to leisure and then decide if you want a location that’s in driving, biking or walking distance. 4. GoodGuide (iPhone): For conscientious consumers puzzling over two seemingly identical dish soaps, the GoodGuice app allows you to scan the barcode on over 50,000 products to instantly receive detailed ratings for the health, environment and social responsibility record for food, toys, personal care and household products. You can also use the app to pull up ranked lists for products, like the 10 best air fresheners. 5. Energy Savings Calculator (Android): If you’re trying to decide whether it’d be worth it to buy new appliances now or wait until they really fall apart, you can use the Energy Savings Calculator app as a tie-breaker. Punch in a few fields (energy used in watts, hours used a day, etc.) for your old appliance and the new one, and the app calculates a savings summary report with week, month and yearly savings as well as return on investment time for money spent on new appliances.
Friday, 03 December 2010 10:46

Fight Climate Change with Purchasing Power

In a market economy, what we buy has the power to effect change far beyond the cash register. Join the Responsible Purchasing Network (RPN) and Carbonfund.org on December 10th, from 11:00am – 12:15pm Pacific Time (2:00 – 3:15pm, Eastern Time) for a webinar about addressing climate change in purchasing decisions. If a brand of coffee becomes popular, for example, it won't sit on shelves long and stores will order more because they can rely on this brand. The coffee company will have to produce more beans to meet the demand from the stores, necessitating a bigger harvest of crops and a larger manufacturing facility to handle all this coffee. If this brew is, say, a Sumatran blend, then more shipping will be needed to bring over the beans. These steps have an impact on the carbon footprint of the end product. Tune into the webinar to learn how your business or organization’s purchasing practices can help meet your climate or environmental protection goals. RPN Director Alicia Culver will also highlight key product categories that can substantially reduce energy and GHG emissions while also saving money. Dare Wenzler, director of business development at Carbonfund.org, will describe the CarbonFree® Certified label, how it was developed, and how it can be referred to when purchasing products for government agencies and businesses. Click here to sign up for the webinar.
If Carbonfund.org had a tree for every time we said reducing your carbon footprint saves you money, we'd have, well, perhaps a very sizable forest. In these times of federal budget woe, how appropriate is it that the government is wising up and realizing that more efficient energy can save them 11 billion dollars going forward, or the equivalent of 235 million barrels of oil? The federal government's carbon footprint is 121.3 million metric tons, according to a report released by The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). That number is divided into two categories - reducible emissions and that which shall not be touched, which includes military operations, law enforcement and other emissions. Of the 121.3 million, 54.9 million come from this category, with the Department of Defense toting a disproportionately large footprint of 52.2 million metric tons of emissions on its own in 2010. That's 95% of all the non-reducible emissions. Meanwhile, the reducible emissions have dropped 2.5 million metric tons from the 2008 baseline to 66.4 million metric tons. That 2.5 million is equivalent to the annual emissions from 490,196 cars, which is great, but come on government. We can do better than this. According to the president's sustainability goals, the federal government will reduce its direct emissions (things like fuel or building energy use) by 28% and its indirect emissions (energy used in the lifecycle of things we buy and use) by 13% by 2020. This is where the CEQ estimates that planned reductions will save $11 billion in energy costs. Are you happy with the progress, or do you think these are some empty green promises?
With gas prices trending higher and battery prices falling, plug-in cars are expected to make up 9 percent of the U.S. auto market by 2020 and 22 percent by 2030, according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance report. Electric cars currently cost more than 75 percent of cars being sold—but individual states are providing financial incentives for people to get on board. California, for example, offers vouchers of  $10,000 to $45,000 for companies that operate hybrid-electric fleet vehicles in-state. You can search for electric vehicle vouchers in your state at the U.S. Department of Energy site and find out how to reduce your driving emissions here.
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