Category Archives: Buy Local

Pure Ingredients, Package Free – The Idea Behind in.gredients

It has been quite some time since we have made a new post so for this blog post I would like to get back into things with a short and simple post highlighting a company that I think is worth following as they try to revolutionize the grocery shopping game.

For in.gredients, the concept is pretty simple. They aim to create the country’s first package free and zero waste grocery store. However, carrying out that concept may prove to be a challenge (think of all the packaging you see at your grocery store/supermarket).

Bring clean containers from home, fill them, weigh them, and then pay.

The store is not open yet but progress is taking place and they plan on opening their microgrocery store in Austin, TX later this year. Let’s hope for the success of in.gredients so it can be a model for other stores of its kind.

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Filed under Beer, Buy Local, Conservation, Free Trade, Gardening, Responsible Materials, Uncategorized

Noteworthy News – February 24th

  1. Spanish solar panel manufacturing company, Isofoton, plans to open a solar panel manufacturing facility in Toledo, OH in July.  The Northeast Ohio manufacturing plant that will create 330 jobs, landed a $15 million state loan to go along with about $4 million in private funding. The company also plans on sourcing materials locally. Read more at Columbus Business First.

    Pvilion

  2. Now, this is our kind of solar! Pvilion is taking the traditional view on solar and stretching it to make it work their way. They specialize in flexible PV material that makes for good looking, power producing structures.
  3. Apple’s new data center will install a 20 mW solar array and fuel cell with a capacity of 5 mW. This will be the largest end user owned solar array in the country. Check our more at treehugger.com.
  4. And finally, a nice video that shows you how you can slightly alter your daily routine and save nearly 1,213 gallons of water per day. That’s a lot of water!

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Filed under Buy Local, Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Solar

Fun and Rewarding Places to Work!

Seems like we are all pretty quick to criticize corporate America and assume that big employers are bad employers.

It is great to catch a company doing something good for both the Earth and their employees by promoting making buildings where they work and live more environmentally friendly.    Here is a shining example – Clif Bar and Company , manufacturer and distributor of all kinds of healthy and great tasting bars and drinks.

 In addition to incentives for taking public transportation, buying commuter bikes, and buying the most fuel efficient cars on the market, Cliff Bar employees can get up to $1,000 for eco-home improvements!   Nice way to practice what they preach and support making good choices both at work and at home.

Clif Bar understands the value of both human and natural capital but, true to form for a company that was “started on a bike ride”, do not sing their own praises.   I read about Cliff Bar and Company and went to their site to see how they presented their employee benefits and this is all I found:

“Clif Bar & Company is a pretty neat place to go to work every day.  If you like tasty food, nice people and lots of interesting challenges, we’d love to hear from you.  Did we mention there’s a rock-climbing wall?”

Clif Bar founder Gary Erickson (left) and his wife, co-owner Kit Crawford on the climbing wall.

My friend Dr. Andrea Cook told me about programs at the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) – an awesome San Diego company that really walks the walk.    CCSE did their own upgrade to their space and installed motion sensor lights, high efficiency bathrooms with waterless urinals, quick air dry for hands, and have reverse osmosis water onsite and always available.  In addition, they have a monthly “Green Award” monthly given to an employee who is recognized (caught) doing something green that goes above and beyond (or is out of character).

-Ruth

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Filed under Buy Local, Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Recycled Materials, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Businiess

The Big “Green” Apple

My recent trip to the Big Apple led to some very unexpected discoveries along the way. Having never visited New York I had no idea what to expect and frankly, I was not expecting good things in the realm of sustainability. I immediately think of mass consumption, millions of cars, old inefficient buildings, and a mindset of profit over the good of the surroundings.
Just to let you know, I was not seeking out the so-called “green” places in the city nor did I do any research prior to my visit. I also know and have learned that New York and the Northeast is leading the way when it comes to sustainability. I was just a plain old tourist checking out the city. Here are some things I found that impressed me along the way.
First off, the public transportation system is in a class of its own. According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority “MTA subways, buses, and railroads provide 2.6 billion trips each year to New Yorkers.” You can get wherever you want in the city without ever needing a car.
Another thing I noticed was the importance of public green space and the unique way some people have created a beautiful landscape out of a so-called concrete jungle. Everyone knows about Central Park but we discovered a relatively new creation called the High Line.

High Line water feature

It’s a stunningly designed piece of art/urban park. Basically, it is an old elevated rain line that has been inoperable since 1980. In 2009, Friends of the High Line in a partnership with the City of New York opened the elevated public park. They have preserved the sense of the old rail line by keeping much of the old track and designing the landscape around it. “It features an integrated landscape, designed by landscape architects James Corner Field Operations, with architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, combining meandering concrete pathways with naturalistic plantings. Fixed and movable seating, lighting, and
special features are also included in the park.”

High Line

I also ran across a few businesses that seem to be leading their peers by making their surrounding environment a priority. We stopped in the  Brooklyn Brewery for some tastings and a tour. They recently expanded their brewing operations and were operating a very impressive business in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood. We tried a few different beers and even though I am turned off by odd flavors in beer I was very happy with the Pumpkin Ale. During our tasting I noticed that they advertised these cool compostable cups. This lead me to do some more research and I also found out that “the company’s brewery and headquarters in Brooklyn are 100% powered by Newwind Energy.”

Cool Cups at the Brewery

Brooklyn Brewery New Expansion

Finally, we went to a very cool burger joint called Shake Shack. I had a burger and shake and they were excellent but what really stood out was a wall explaining their history and dedication to “going green.” They purchase wind power credits to offset 100% of their electricity and they also practice on-site composting and they recycle used cooking oil. In the construction of the building they used a plethora of sustainable building materials: walls made of fiberboard, wheat board tabletops and trash cans, ceiling tiles made from renewable wood, LED low voltage light fixtures, and they “introduced a green wall(recyclable modular unit and pre-grown living system) that will remain in bloom year round.”
Overall, I was very impressed with the dedication to sustainability shown by the people of New York – keep up the good work!

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Filed under Buy Local, Carbon Footprint, Conservation, Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency, Environment, Gardening, Green Technology, Innovation, NAHB, Outdoor Adventure, Parks, Recycled Materials, Renewable Energy, Responsible Materials, Solar, Sustainable Businiess, Uncategorized, USGBC, Water conservation

Small Scale Homebuilding

My interest in modular eco-friendly homes grew when I ran across some modular home companies at West Coast Green last year in San Francisco. That interest was pushed to the back of my mind until I ran across this story of a 16 year old building a self-contained “tiny green home” in his parents backyard because he, like most teenagers, “wanted to move out.”

That is not his only reason however. In this short video showcasing his house, the young man sites all sorts of economical and environmental reasons behind starting his project. 

He was happy about owning a home but not worrying about paying a mortgage. The small size also limits the amount of electricity and other utilities, saving money in the process. He was able to greatly reduce the amount of waste produced during construction due to the small scale of construction(he only had two trash cans of waste from one year of construction). Almost all of the materials used in construction have been reclaimed from salvage yards or donated from friends, the framing lumber was the only material purchased new as it was needed for the structure of the house. He estimates the total project costing $12,000.

This led me to asking the question: who is doing this on a larger scale? I rummaged through the internet and discovered many cool companies involved in the modular home business, and nearly all of them are focused on making their homes as efficient and eco-friendly as possible while keeping the associated costs for the consumer down(sections of the home are built in factories and loaded on a truck then assembled in a few days at the site – this allows the builder to reduce the cost of construction). Keywords and phrases that keep popping up when I search modular homes include: smart design, passive solar, simplify, healthy, water conservation, cheaper, solar, wind, thermal, easier, and flexible just to name a few. All of these terms are related to conservation and efficiency; Everyday we are told to be conservative with our resources in order to be more sustainable so why not become more conservative, economical, and efficient while building our homes. Here are some of the companies I discovered that are doing just that:

  • Alchemy Architects have designed the Weehouse using an ultra modern modular home that can be constructed fast and easy. They just developed a “net-zero” WeeHouse in Moab, Utah that will produce as much energy as it uses.
  • The modular homes featured at tinygreencabins.comcan be built on a trailer bed so that if you would like to take your home with you, you could hitch up the trailer and be on your way. They also offer non-toxic options, organic certified material, locally harvested lumber, steel framing, and recycled products. The cabins can also be customized with solar panels and solar hot water heaters.

    Wildfire Tiny House

  • Green Pod Development builds compact custom modular homes built for energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and sustainability. The SoloPod “features innovative designs and artful furnishings.”
  • And finally, Bluhomes, they claim that their “highly efficient, innovative steel-framed homes cost on average 50-70 percent less to operate on a monthly basis than conventional homes.”

    My personal favorite - The Glidehouse Bluhome

-T

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Filed under Buy Local, Carbon Footprint, Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Environment, Green Technology, Innovation, NAHB, Recycled Materials, Renewable Energy, Responsible Materials, Solar, Sustainable Businiess, Uncategorized, USGBC, Water conservation, Weatherization, Window Coverings

Brand New Display for Dwell on Design

Here is a sneak peak of our new trade show display. Come see the full display in action at Dwell on Design, June 24-26 at the LA Convention Center. We will also be featuring our Emergency Power Kit for portable back-up energy when you need it most. http://plugnsaveenergyproducts.com/

 

Golden Brown PV Solar Cells in a Natural Basswood Shutter

Turkish Blue PV Solar Cells in an Arctic White Shutter

Army Green PV Solar Cells in an Oak Finished Shutter

Exterior PV Solar Shutter with an interior PV Solar Shutter in the window - A complete set-up!

Standard white PV Solar Shutter in our display piece

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Filed under Buy Local, Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Green Technology, Innovation, Recycled Materials, Renewable Energy, Responsible Materials, Solar, Weatherization, Window Coverings

A Green Thumb

After being recruited to write a quick blog about our experiences last Friday volunteering for the Green Learning Adventure (GLA) I decided to use this opportunity to join Dan in coming up with new ways to lead a more sustainable, environmentally conscious life.

First, a little recap of the GLA. I met up with Bennet after he and Dan educated Sea World employees, we then headed out to a community recreation center that was holding a small Earth Day celebration for elementary and middle school children. There were a handful of environmental education booths for the kids to visit – each kid was required to visit every booth and learn what each had to offer. For some incentive they could enter a raffle at the end to win some cool prizes, including surf lessons. After we spoke to each and gave them a spin on Pedal Power (the human-powered energy bike that demonstrates how much electricity it takes to run lighting and other household items), we would give them a sticker moving them one step closer to the raffle. Each booth would then do the same making for a great day of education.

It was a blast showing the kids the energy differences in the older incandescent light bulbs and the newer more energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL’s use about 75% less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and lasts up to 10 times longer – energystar.gov). I was also amazed at some of the knowledge these children already had – some were even educating ME on what they knew about “vampire loads” and energy efficient light bulbs that their families were already using. We later learned that the community rec center runs programs about energy efficiency and renewable energy.

All in all it was a great experience and I look forward to helping the GLA in the future, it is important to educate the next generation about living sustainably.

As for our next initiative in this project we wanted to move onto a slightly different topic – horticulture. Our recent blog posts have opened us up to new energy and water saving tips and our next step will involve using good ole’ Mother Nature in order to make our everyday lives healthier and happier. We have already started a very nice backyard garden including different varieties of tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, peas, strawberries, and a small citrus tree. Our two green thumbs behind the operation, Dan and Colin, have made some great strides towards harvesting farm fresh, organic produce in the backyard.

In the next few days I want to bring some greenery inside in order to freshen up the house. Using house plants as decoration will not only look nice but they will also help improve the air quality. According to Eartheasy.com NASA recently released a study that ranks the top plants for reducing indoor air pollutants. I will be sure to look at some of these for ideas on selecting plants. By doing this, we will make our rooms brighter and more inviting and make us feel more connected to nature.

Stay tuned for the results and a little bit more on connecting our built environment with the natural landscape that surrounds us.

-T. Ufferman

Alley Garden - Adding something fresh to the back alley.

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Filed under 30 ways in 30 days, Buy Local, Carbon Footprint, Conservation, Environment, Gardening, Philanthropy, Uncategorized