EcoChange.org is my effort to share what I continue to learn about sustainable companies, organizations, products, resources, and practices. I hope you find this site informative, practical, and useful. 95% of the revenue generated from this site is donated to Kiva.org. The remaining 5% is used to host this site on the internets!

-Ed

1.06.2012

EcoChange.org's Mission


I believe that scientific exploration, technology, innovative design, and cultural evolution are the most powerful tools we have to change the world.


People don't trash the planet because they are evil, its mostly because the first industrial revolution left us with no other choice. At that time resources were plenty, things were primitively designed, and people did not fully grasp the consequences of their actions.


Entrepreneurial spirits and market forces that are guided by sustainable policies are propelling us into the second green industrial revolution. One that will eventually be in harmony with the planet.


It is essential to encourage sustainable use of our planet's limited energy and water resources. Through the offering of free useful advice, recommendations, and the provision of objective, accurate information, I strive to assist people in their efforts to reduce our impact and use our precious resources more efficiently.

Charitable Donations


Visit the EcoChange.org Store here


*All profits, received from the sale of items at this store, go
towards EcoChange's monthly recurring donations to these amazing Charities:



Loans that Change Lives.
Empowering the world's poor.
Kiva lets you lend to a specific entrepreneur in the developing world, empowering them to lift themselves out of poverty.

http://www.kiva.org








Helpful Links

ConsumerReports.com - Unbiased product testing & recommedations. 


Tired of Junk e-mail?
www.dmaconsumers.org/consumers/optoutform_emps.shtml

(Remember never click on a link inside junk email that says remove me from this list, it only adds you to more. To really get off the junk mailing lists register your email address at the above link instead.)


To remove yourself from national junk "snail" mailing lists here:
www.the-dma.org/consumers/offmailinglist.html
Too many calls from telemarketers?


Register here for the DO NOT CALL list:
donotcall.gov
Earth911.org



Find out where to recycle those difficult items, like batteries, and compact flourescent bulbs(CFL's) in your local area. 


Green Building Products - Awesome green spec. book cataloging choices for residential building materials. If you are a homeowner you need this book! 


Green-E.org - Find out which renewable electricity suppliers are available to you in your area at this site. 


The Green Guide - Valuable product reports and infomative guidance on sustainable living. 


The Green Pages - Directory of screened and approved green businesses. 


MyFootPrint.org - Ever wondered how much "nature" your lifestyle requires? This Ecological Footprint Quiz estimates how much productive land and water you need to support what you use and what you discard. After answering 15 easy questions you'll be able to compare your Ecological Footprint to what other people use and to what is available on this planet.


Responsible Shopper - Discover the good, the bad and the ugly behind the products you buy everyday, from clothing to shoes to toothpaste.


Green Mortgages - Helpful guide to Green Mortgages / Energy Efficient Mortgages. (Thanks Jenny A.!)



ONLINE STORES:
Energy Federation - Online product store that features energy efficient products such as light fixtures/bulbs and water-saving gadgets. 


Gaiam & Real Goods - Online lifestyle stores that specialize in home and personal textiles.


TreeHugger.com - The future is Green find it here. 


POLITICS: 
Good News Network - News website that only reports positive news stories! 


Common Dreams - Great resource for well researched articles & news reporting, two things the main stream journalists consistently mislead or fail at doing. 


BBC News - Get the international news the US media hardly covers. Great resource for back checking events & articles. 


FactCheck.org - Unspin the political smears and inaccuracies. You get a pretty good, unbiased fact checker, on what both major political parties say in speeches, ads, and propaganda.


Political Compass - Find out where you stand politically by taking this fantastic online test!


Snopes.com - The website that debunks all the urban legends you hear about!

Green Cleaning Products!



Baking Soda Uses:

Borax:


White Vinegar:

Dr. Bronner Castile Soap:



The entire line of Method cleaning products!



My personal favorites are the handsoap bottles, dishwashing tablets, dishwasking soap, blue window cleaner, cucumber or lavender all surface cleaners, bathroom scrub cleaner, wood floor cleaning system, tile floor cleaning system, and their sprau aromas smell great! 


I highly recommend their entire product line. you can find them at Target and possibly your grocery store check where you can get them at: methodhome.com






All Purpose Cleaners from Seventh Generation.com. Seventh Generation has a variety of domestic products. You can usually find their products at your local grocery store.
 Ecover products: Ecover has a variety of domestic products. These condensed dishwasher tablets work great! ecover.com

Recycled Kitchen Products



If You Care products: 100% recycled aluminum foil, coffee filters, & parchment paper. ifyoucare.com

Reusable Shopping Bags!


Paper or Plastic? Neither

Purchase Reusable Bags and keep the bags in your vehicle.

Use them for groceries, shopping at the mall, the local convenience store, everywhere you shop.



If you have to choose, choose paper because at least it is biodegradable. You can reuse the  same paper bags the next time you go the store, repeat this until they need replaced. (Hint: double layer paper bags are more durable and less likely to tear) 

I do occasionally get paper bags at the grocery store because of pets.  
I use the paper bags as garbage bags for their litter droppings.


But the best option is to always use reusable canvas bags when shopping. 



Green Nutrition


Locate and support your local organic restaurants. The food always tastes better at these places!

Watermelon is a great de-toxifier, it rids your system of a lot of nasty chemicals. Have some watermelon and start your new organic only diet!



Eat only lean meats! Chicken, Swordfish, Salmon(wild, not farm raised), Tuna, and Turkey are excellent



QUINOA!!!!  eat lots of it.


Try to avoid Deli meats! They are prone to germs & bacterial growth.



Try to avoid fast food joints you lazy-seeker of instant gratification! (myself included!)
Can we even remember the last time our stomachs felt good after a fast food meal? It always tastes good going down. Your body tries hard to locate the little nutrients that are in it. And down right rejects the rest of the garbage. Fast food is full of food additives, flavor enhancers, preservatives, HORMONES?, and a slew of other sneaky chemicals designed solely to make you addicted to the garbage.



Everything Organic! Yes, organic products are a little more expensive, but the rewards from using and eating them are priceless. 


 Stay away from preservatives and synthetic toxic chemicals. Next grocery trip try only shopping in the organic section, or go to the organic only grocery store. 


Check the label as to where the produce/product is coming from. 


The idea is to try to purchase organic food within 12 miles of your dinner table. 
 Your budget for food and livelihood should not be skimped & neglected. 
Your health is your most important asset, it should always be your top priority!


Challenge:
See if you can only shop at Trader Joe's and the Dollar store!?

Green Personal Care Products




Take a moment to read all of the ingredients on the bottle labels in your bathroom. Notice any weird chemical names you have never heard of? Switch over to organic personal care products, body & face wash, shampoo, toothpaste, & mouthwash. The "Jason" line of natural products are my personal favorites: Jason-natural.com

If a product does not mention, "Not Tested on Animals,"
it most likely has been.


 
Purchase recycled 2-ply bathroom tissues from
Seventh Generation.com



Organic Cotton! Look for bedding, pillows, underwear and shirts made out of organic cotton.

Recycle Everything!


Recycle Everything! 


Set this challenging goal to throw away only biodegradable items. The extra conscious effort to recycle, reuse, and donate everything generates positive dividends. Resist succumbing to the "Out of sight, Out of mind" mentality that only adds to our impact.


Join & start using Freecycle.org! Use Craigslist and post your items on there for free.


Try creating a set of sustainable rules for yourself and dedicate yourself to living by them, take notice when you break one. Over time abiding by these rules will shape your living habits into a conscious harmony with the planet.



What happened to the dime-deposit recycle programs that were everywhere years ago?
Michigan is the only state with a dime-deposit(for recycled bottles and cans) their redemption rate is 95%. 



Raise awareness to your local community, grocery store, school boards, political leaders to re-institute these smart recycling programs!



Visit Earth911.org to find out where you can recycle those difficult items such as Batteries, CFL's, Smoke Detectors, Antifreeze, Old Stereo, etc. 

Household Insulation


 Replace your old Windows with low-e models, if you cant afford that option, shrink wrap over these old windows during the winter, heat loss occurs through old windows and their framing.

If you have a real fireplace, remember to close the flew when you are not using it, as heat escapes up through it if its open!


Fireplace Draftstopper plug. Your fireplace is like an open window, (even with the damper closed!) Use this great product to seal the opening even further. batticdoor.com

Check your attic for proper insulation, there should be insulation between the floor joists, if not get insulation in between them ASAP!



Seal ducts & holes! On a cold windy day walk around your house and feel for cool air coming in through the framing, cracks, around any exterior wall, and especially down in the basement. Check where all the floor joists meet up with the exterior walls. Touch'n Foam is an HCFC-free foam sealant that uses a mixture of propane and isobutane as the blowing agent. It is available in triple-expanding or low-expanding formulations in disposable cans. convenienceproducts.com

Also, consider injecting Aeroseal into your HVAC system. Aeroseal is a polymer fog that cuts leaks up to 80 percent when injected into your system.

Solar Shingles


Solar Shingles: for those of you homeowners out there, when it comes time to replace those roof shingles consider replacing them with Solar Shingles and have them generate power for your house! Uni-solar.com

"Green" Paint

Ask for low or no-VOC Interior Paints where you buy your paint from:

Pittsburgh Paints, Pure Performance:
ppgaf.com



Sherwin Williams
Sherwin-williams-spreads-sustainability-farther-new-green-paint

Green Flooring


Marmoleum flooring is a natural product made from linseed oil, wood flour, rosin forbolinoleumNA.com


Bamboo flooring: (State/Province)
moso.com (WA)

Green Furniture



Look for FSC-certified(Forest Stewardship Council) and reclaimed wood furniture(from barns, buildings slated for demolition). 

urbanhardwoods.com 
ecoloft.com 
vintagewoods.com 
vintagematerialsupply.com

Recycled content furniture:

Green Building and Remodeling


 A website to learn about various green building techniques check out: buildinggreen.com


For green construction, building, remodeling, renovation projects.
I highly recommend getting these books:












Energy Star!




According to the EPA, the typical American household can save about $400 a year in energy bills with appliances/products that carry the Energy Star Label. Be conscious of how much energy all of your appliances are consuming! 



Heating Conservation




EcoSmartFires: environmentally friendly open fire places. No gas connections, no charcoal, etc. Powered by renewable energy fuel canisters(denatured ethanol). Use in urban apartments & places that do not have fireplaces! EcoSmartFire.com




Have your furnace seasonally checked, also make sure the air filter is a good one, meaning it has a high MERV rating. A "MERV" stand for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. It is a test method developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

A higher MERV rating indicates better air filter performance. 3M corporation produces an air cleaning filter called Filtrete. These filters capture 10 times more microscopic allergens (dust, smoke, smog particles) than non-electrostatic pleated filters(these filters cost 95 cents each). The 3M filters cost ~$7, a significant price increase. But this upgrade improves the quality of air in your home! A quality that is priceless!



Keep your furnace THERMOSTAT to between 65-68 in the WINTER and 78 in the SUMMER


Walk around your place on a cold windy day and try to locate any cold air blowing in from outside.
If its around a door consider weather stripping, if its under the door consider using one of these:






Check any attic and garage spaces for cold air coming in, around garage doors, window openings, vent openings, cracks in cement blocks, and use spray foam to fill up the gaps

Electricity



Switch out inefficient bulbs in your residence with Compact Florescent light bulbs. (CFL's) You'll save on your electricity bill. Some models & reasonable prices for CFL's are at Efi.org.

The most efficient bulbs are LED-based bulbs. They last up to 100 times longer and consume a 1/10 of the energy of incandescents. Also, you can choose your home's electricity supplier, find out what your alternative electricity options are at green-e.org

Turn off unused electronics during the day, don't leave your computer running at home while your at work, unplug everything!

Turn your lights off from room to room, don't leave lights on in rooms you aren't using. If you are cleaning, only have the lights on in the rooms you are working in.



"Plug into the Sun!
"
Portable Solar Charger for your cell phone, iPod, digital camera, etc. Solio.com














Recycle your old cell phones, computers, printers(Lexmark offers a free reclaiming/recycling program for their old printers), and electronics equipment, do NOT just throw them away, donate them to charity. 

Use Freecycle.org. If you donate your old electronics you can write it off. The rapid technology upgrading is causing old dated electronics to pile up in landfills. Old CRT computer monitors are especially bad, because they contain mercury and a slew of other bad chemicals that are seeping into the ground water.



 

Use Smart Strips, many electronics continue to draw power, up to 4 kilowatts per day, even when turned off! Autoswitching power strips like Smart Strips can help. 


Plug your PC into the strips's main socket, and accessories into the other sockets. The peripherals shut down completely when the primary appliance is switched off smartstrip.net









Collect dead batteries(aaa, aa, 9volt, c, d, brick batteries, etc.) in a container and then recycle them! 


Take them to radio shack, ikea, home depot, find a place that's most convenient for you. 



Then replace them with/and start using rechargeable batteries, my favorite brand is energizer rechargeable nickel-metal hydrides
Get a charger and stock up! 



You'll be surprised how many batteries you actually use! They are just like lightbulbs, you think you are using like maybe a dozen or so, when in reality its probably closer to 50!

Household Water


Water-conserving fixtures installed in US households in 1998 alone saved 44 million gallons of water every day, resulting in total dollar-value savings of more than 33.6 million per year!

If all US households installed water-saving features, water use could decrease by 30 percent, saving an estimated 5.4 billion gallons per day!

This would result in dollar-volume savings of $11.3 million per day or more than $4 billion per year! -American Water Works Association


 
Change out the faucet aerators in your bathroom with lower gallon per minute (.5gpm) aerators. Consider switching your shower head to a lower gallon per minute model. Some models & reasonable prices for these are at Efi.org



Hot water tank insulation wrap, wrap your tank with this to help prevent heat loss.



Tankless Water Heaters, when its time to replace your hot water tank, consider switching to a tankless model, your water heats up quicker and uses up to 20% less energy to heat the water (because a gas fed hot water tank has a continually running pilot light, that becomes expensive if you live in cold winters, tankless models can have the added feature of a "electronic-ignition-on-demand pilot light.")

Another added benefit is the amount of physical space you gain with one of these systems they are much smaller(they mount on the wall) than the hot water tanks that take up floor space.



Water pipe insulation tubes, insulate your hot water pipes coming out of your hot water tank. This helps reduce heat loss from the pipes.



Check that your incoming water pressure is not too high, consider installing a water pressure regulator.



Shower Timer, either install one between your shower head and pipe or use a count down alarm timer to make sure you take short efficient showers. 

Automotive


It takes less gasoline to restart your car than it does to let it idle for more than a minute... If all the cars on US roads had properly inflated tires, it would save an estimated 2 billion gallons of gasoline per year and improve your gas mileage 3-7%. University of Colorado Environmental Center 2003. Keep your tires inflated to the right pressure!
  1. Change your driving philosophy. Drive slower, coast often, accelerate slowly(no jackrabbit starts at traffic lights). Repeat the words, "After you" frequently to the other drivers in your mind.
  2. Speeding to get somewhere a few minutes faster is not worth the associated risks(safety, energy consumption, and money loss) when all you have to do is leave a few minutes earlier. Driving at 75mph will get you somewhere only ~10 minutes faster than if you were traveling at 65mph. Are you really that bad at managing your time? If you are, consider reading up on time management materials.
  3. Don't stay in the left lane. Travel along in the right lane.
    The left lane is the passing lane!
  4. What's the rush? The world only moves as fast as you make it move. Leave 5 minutes earlier and Slow down!
  5. Stop riding everyone's bumper. Give people some space. Its your fault & monetary expense if you slam into them for being the tailgater.
  6. "Should I ditch my old Toyota Corolla and buy a new Prius? Hybrids get better mileage, but it takes energy to build a new car, right?
    Right, but the green choice is still the Prius. Manufacturing accounts for ~10% of the energy consumed by an automobile during its lifecycle. Gas burned by the engine makes up almost everything else. So if a 1993 Corolla gets 27.5 miles and a Prius gets ~45-55mpg, you should earn back the energy "investment" that went into making the hybrid in about four years. Additionally, by purchasing a Prius, you help tilt the economies of scale in favor of hybrids. Toyota's hybrid technology is still relatively expensive, but production costs will come down as more Priuses are sold. A  nd the more Priuses that fill the roads, the more consumers will view them as a legitimate option for their next car, rather than just trendy eco-boxes for Hollywood do-gooders." (Wired, 05/06 p.151)

  7. Plug-in Electric Hybrid Cars are coming!!! (with gas backup engines!)
    Here is the list of upcoming vehicles and dates:
    GM
    Chevy Volt – Demo 2009, production November 2010
    Saturn Vue PHEV – 2010. Note: GM has discontinued the Saturn line and the Vue’s fate in unclear.
    Nissan
    EV – 2010

    Toyota
    Plug-in Hybrid Prius – Demo 2010, production 2011

    Chrysler
    PHEV – 2010
    EV Jeep – by 2013
    EV Minivan – by 2013
    EV Roadster – by 2013

    Ford
    Plug-in Hybrid Escape – 2012
    EV Magna – 2011

    BMW
    e-Mini – 2009

    Audi
    A1 Sportback PHEV – 2011

    Hyundai
    PHEV Sonata – 2013

    Volkswagen
    PHEV Golf – 2011

    Small Companies
    Tesla (now and 2011)
    Fisker (2009)
    BYD (2009)
    Bright Automotive (2012)
    Miles (2009)
    Aptera (2009)
    Persu Mobility (2011)
    Myers Motors (now)

    PHEV conversions
    A123/Hymotion
    Plug-in Conversions
    3-Prong Power

8 Quick tips to help ease our IMPACT:



1. Paper or Plastic? NEITHER.

Purchase Reusable Bags and keep the bags in your vehicle.

Use them for groceries, shopping at the mall, the local convenience store, everywhere you shop.



2. FAUCET AERATORS!

Replace your bathroom faucet aerators with 1.5 GPM OR LOWER models.


Also install a LOW-FLOW SHOWER HEAD LIKE THESE:(SHOWERHEADS) at EFI.COM


3. RECYCLE! 

COMPUTER PRINTER CARTRIDGES, The UNITED STATES POST OFFICE has special pre-paid envelopes you can get to send your used inkjet cartridges back for recycling. You can take larger laser print cartridges from your laser printers, copiers and fax machines to OFFICE DEPOT. They have large bins that to accept them there, also you can get STORE CREDIT for everyone you bring back in!

To find out where to recycle other computer related items such as OLD PRINTERS, COMPUTERS, MONITORS, KEYBOARDS, MICE, ETC. visit: COMPUTERTAKEBACK.COM 

DO NOT throw away burned out COMPACT FLOURESCENT LIGHT BULBS(CFL'S) They should be recycled as well because they contain a tiny amount of mercury!

DO NOT throw away dead BATTERIES or your previous CELL PHONES Check outEARTH911.ORG To find out where you can recycle these items in your local area.

Collect all your JUNK MAIL, GLOSSY PAPER, MAGAZINES, CATALOGS, NEWSPAPER in bins, and locate and drop it off in the dumpster's that recycle these types of COATED papers.





4. BIOCLEAN!

Not all bacteria are BAD!. Ask any plumber, this is the safest, best acting stuff to clean your pipes with. Its dormant bacteria that multiplies when water is added and feeds on all the scum and crap (no pun intended) in your pipes.



Call around and find out which plumber sells it for the best price or search it out over the internet and GET SOME! 

BIOCLEAN really does work wonders, our house has terrible old plumbing and this stuff really works wonders, YOU CAN EVEN USE IT IN YOUR CAT LITTER!?its that safe

*CAUTION WILL NOT WORK WITH ANTIBACTERIAL SOAP! BE SURE TO SPIT OUT ANY ALCOHOL BASED MOUTH WASH INTO THE TOILET AS WELL, ANY ALCOHOL OR ANTI-BACTERIA STUFF KILLS THIS GOOD WORKING BACTERIA IN YOUR PIPES!




5. LIGHT BULBS! 
Replace all your inefficient incandescent's with CFL's. They've made advances with this technology, you can now get CFL's that are "warm" white, meaning they diffuse a nice warm white light. (INSTEAD OF THE TYPICAL HARSH FLOURESCENT LIGHT) There are also types that come with a casing cover over the spiral (THAT LOOK SIMILIAR TO INCANDESCENTS.)

HOWEVER, Remember to RECYCLE CFL'S when they eventually burn out!

Visit: EARTH911.ORG to find out where to recycle them in your local area.

LIKE THESE: 





6. APPLIANCE SETTINGS

  • Lower the thermostat on your WATER HEATER to 120 degrees(F) or lower, play around with this setting, set it so the water never gets any hotter than you can stand.
  • Set your REFRIGERATOR to between 36-38 degrees(F)Set your FREEZER to between 0-5 DEGREES(F)
  • Keep your THERMOSTAT to between 65-68 in the WINTER and 78 in the SUMMER

7. REUSE!
Use REUSEABLE CONTAINERS to STORE FOOD instead of Aluminum foil and cling wrap.


Use REUSABLE PLATES and UTENSILS instead of DISPOSABLE PLASTIC ONES.


If you still want disposable cups and plates for a party, Opt for the PAPER plates and cups(get the sturdier ones though!). These will eventually biodegrade.


NEVER buy STYROFOAM PLATES OR CUPS!!! 
(STYROFOAM DOES NOT BIODEGRADE IN THE ENVIRONMENT!!!!!)



8. BUY LOCAL PRODUCE
Sign up for a local farms produce delivery, In the Pittsburgh area they are called CSA programs. 


Do some research to find out the programs available in your area.


FIND & FREQUENT THE CLOSEST FARMERS MARKET REGULARLY!