Sunrgi develops focused light solar system that creates energy at 5 cents per kwh?

Sungri, California based solar panel company has announced the development of a new concentrated photovoltaic panel that should revolutionize the solar energy industry. The XCPV system (Xtreme Concentrated Photovoltaics) is designed to provide whole electricity cost at the rate of 5 cents per kilowatt hour. The system uses a lens to focus sunlight onto the photovoltaic panel to for greater output. The panels are also designed to not depend on silicon for their construction further reducing the cost per kwh.

The company announced the development of the new panels at “The National Energy marketers Association’s 11th Annual global Energy Forum” in Washington D.C.

“Solar Power at 5 cents per kWh would be a world-changing breakthrough,” said Craig Goodman, president, National Energy Marketers Association. “It would make solar generation of electricity as affordable as generation from coal, natural gas or other non-renewable sources, without requiring a subsidy”

“In a little more than a year we were able to develop and successfully test XCPV,” said Robert S (Bob) Block, co-founder and SUNRGI principal. “We expect the SUNRGI system to become available for both on and off-grid power applications, worldwide, in twelve to fifteen months”

Stop Using Plastic Bags, Whole Foods Did! Take Your Own to the Grocery Store

If you’ve been to Whole Foods lately, the you’re sure to notice a change. Whole Foods is phasing out plastic bags, and in encouraging their customers to “Bring Your Own Bag,” they are giving out reusable bags.

We’re not sure how long this promotion will last, but we’re loving it! Finally, a major grocery store that is making moves in the right direction.

If you forget to bring your own bags, don’t worry. Whole Foods will still have their 100% recycled paper bags for you to use. Personally, I wouldn’t want to be “that girl” that uses paper bags. I have a feeling that, in the future, not bringing your own bags will be like writing a check, out-dated.

There is probably plenty of time until that day, but you should start considering getting your own reusable bags to take to the grocery store or super market now.

Stop E-wasting, Recycle your Computer or other Electronic Devices at Work

According to Mark Buckley, the VP of Environmental Affairs at Staples, an estimated 133,000 computers are discarded every day in the U.S. That’s nearly 49 million computers a year! And that doesn’t even include cell phones and other office related electronics.Old electronic junk, or “e-waste” is increasingly becoming a larger problem in today’s electronic age, making the need for recycling more and more important. A lot of people think that paying to recycle their stuff is not worth it, and they just throw it into the garbage to get rid of it. But a few major computer companies like HP, Dell, Sony and Apple are making it easier for people to recycle their old computers when they upgrade.According to Earth 911.org’s website,

Reusing and recycling prevents electronic items from reaching landfills, creating less waste, providing usable items to organizations that need them and recapturing valuable resources.” 

If you work for a company that seems to upgrade to new computers on a regular basis, start asking what your company is doing with those old computers. If the computers are broken beyond repair, search around for local take back programs or retailers that recycle any electronic product. Look online for the manufacturer of your old computer to see if they have a recycling or take back program. Staples, for example, will recycle electronics from any manufacturer for 10 dollars or less, nationwide. It might not be free to recycle that dusty old computer, but at least they will make sure it is recycled properly.Here at my workplace, I just upgraded to a new Apple computer. Don’t be jealous! After the purchase, Apple emailed me a Fed-Ex shipping label to print out. All I have to do is box up this old PC, stick on the shipping label and drop it off at a FedEx Kinko’s. They’ll take it back and see that it is recycled. Seems like hassle free e-cycling to me!If your computer or other electronics are still in working order, but you have newer models you are using, try selling, donating or free-cycling your electronic goods. There are lots of people who still can not afford to buy brand new computers, so selling or donating yours locally can help others in your community. Ebay and freecycle.org are two good resources for selling electronics, or giving them away.Just remember, it’s all about doing your part. Become proactive at work by asking what they are doing with old computers there. It may cost your boss a little extra to do some good, but doing good will pay off when your consumers and other companies begin to take notice.

Hearst Magazines Launches TheDailyGreen.com

There’s a new green lifestyle site in the house, TheDailyGreen.com, which is run by Hearst Magazines.

Look for the launch of the site on Earth Day…here’s the info from the press release:

Launching as a Beta version on April 22, The Daily Green will feature daily eco-tips; the day’s key national and international environmental news; advice on how to enjoy a more sustainable life with smart energy and product choices; delicious recipes for meals and school lunches that are more hormone- and pesticide-free, compassionately raised and “as local-as-available”; and ideas for creating a more toxin-free home. While content will be an important element of The Daily Green, it is the community of followers of the green movement that will inform the sensibility of the site. For example, Weird Weather Watch, a user-generated photoblog of climate change snapped by backyard environmentalists and camera phone climatologists will be an important feature, as will user-submitted recipes and tips. In addition, the site will give a voice to the leaders of the country’s most important environmental organizations through blog postings and site links. It is planned that the full-scale site will go live this fall.

We’ll see what it looks like when it goes up. Hopefully it will be a decent resource with some good information and won’t put too many small blogs out of business. Just kiddin’!


Product Review: Equal Exchange Organic Chocolate Minis for Easter

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These organic dark chocolate minis from Equal Exchange are a perfect treat for those who want just a little chocolate to nibble on at a time. They are 55% Cocoa and have a very rich flavor. Not too sweet and not bitter either.

I had them out in a little bowl for guests to our house and they were consumed very quickly! They make great party favors as well. We’ve got several birthday parties coming up so I’m thinking of stocking up on more. They’re also perfect for the coming Easter holiday.

Instead of mass produced sugar gunk, try out these organic, Fair Trade chocolates and this Kid’s Chocolate Garden Seed Kit to stuff their Easter baskets.

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Here’s a list of the Ingredients for the chocolate:

*Organic cocoa liquor, *Syramenaâ„¢ Organic Raw Cane Sugar, *Organic cocoa butter, *Sucanatâ„¢ Organic Unrefined Whole Cane Sugar, Organic ground vanilla. Cocoa 55% min. (*Fair Trade Certifiedâ„¢)


The Importance of Thinking Like a Watershed

Aldo Leopold wrote about “thinking like a mountain.” This article on the most recent Earthtoys.com newsletter talks about “thinking like a watershed.” Why is thinking like a watershed important? Because everyone lives in a watershed, and watersheds are a handy environmental “unit” that we can use to measure environmental changes and the impacts of development. There are even citizens groups throughout the U.S. that monitor local watersheds, looking for changes and environment impacts. Here’s more from the article:

On a human scale, what happens within a watershed, whether natural or caused by humans, affects the water quality and health of that watershed, while not greatly impacting neighboring watersheds. Watersheds create a sort of forced community of living things. What our common watershed neighbors do affects everyone in the community. Additionally, we have to think of the watershed as a whole connected unit, with the upland conditions affecting the quality of water, air etc. What happens upstream will influence everyone who lives downstream.

Check out the full article and more articles about renewable energy, green building, etc. at the Earthtoys.com website.


Tomato Palace Greenhouse

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Today I thought I’d write about another cool invention from Doss Products, makers of the Veg-a-lot greenhouse and the Kandle Heater. The Tomato Palace greenhouse has a very interesting design. It’s built as a tall tower and you have access to the plants through a series of sliding doors. It’s built from a double wall UV resistant polyethylene, which is commonly used for greenhouses. The shape of the greenhouse allows you to grow tall plants like tomatoes in a relatively small area. This is a great option for urban gardening if you have a small space to grow in. And don’t forget the Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter as another way to grow your tomatoes vertically.


ELDIS: Gateway to Development Information

ELDIS is a UK based organization that deals with a diverse variety of development issues. From agriculture to tourism, they take an in-depth look at the developing world. You can find links to UN studies, academic reports, etc. on their website. I was particularly interested in their Corporate Social Responsibility tourism information page. They have an interesting list of case studies for responsible tourism from a variety of countries and regions.


Chicago’s Green Apple

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Just got word that there’s another green roof in Chicago! In a city known for green roofs, Apple Computer’s Michigan Avenue retail store further establishes Chicago as one of the more eco-progressive cities in the U.S. This Apple store has 302 four inch GreenGrid® modules. Sedum kamtschaticum, a perennial succulent groundcover, was the plant of choice for their green roof. If you’d like to find out more about green roof technology, check out this article on the EarthToys website.

MacDailyNews has a complete article about Apple’s green roof.

Thanks to TreeHugger for the tip about Apple’s green roof!


More on Rust

Got a comment the other day about our entry on environmentally friendly rust removal. Little did I know that this topic is important to a lot of people in industry. KPR ADCOR INC provides rust control products (environmentally friendly ones) for large and small companies. KPR ADCOR INC recently started a blog about rust control. Thanks again for the tip!


Time to Shop at Your Local Farmer’s/Grower’s Market

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Spring has sprung! And that means that you won’t have to buy veggies that were grown thousands of miles of away anymore. (At least for a few months, that is)….Yes, that’s right, it’s time to check out you local farmer’s market and support local farmers! In our globalized economy, it’s easy to forget that there are folks who may live right next door to you who are trying to make a living by selling the “fruits” of their labor. (Lame pun intended)….So, I’ll be headed to my favorite local grower’s market this weekend (Chispas Farm, New Mexico!) to buy the veggies I need for the week and chat with some friends and neighbors. How about you? If you’d like to read more on the benefits of buying local from your very own grower’s market, check out this post from the Gristmill.


Getting Married? Check Out an Eco-Friendly Recycled Gold Ring!

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Talk about a niche market! GreenKarat is an on-line store that sells eco-friendly jewelry made from recylced gold and diamonds. I wish I had known about these guys a couple years ago when I got hitched. Of course, my ring was pretty damn cheap and only “plated” gold. Ok, sorry, enough about me, let’s get back to the issue at hand. Yes, so here’s GreenKarat’s pitch, in their own words:

Our greater goal at greenKarat is to end destructive gold and diamond mining. We do not, however, strive to force that change through radical activism. While activist organizations play a critically important role in educating and motivating consumers, we believe that widespread and permanent change will ultimately occur through the voice of consumer buying decisions. Our mission is to provide an ecologically and socially responsible jewelry alternative to those who seek change. We want to help you, in some small way, become part of the permanent solution. Together we can make a difference.

Sounds pretty cool, huh? So tell your friends and neighbors who are getting married or engaged (or remarried, re-engaged, etc.) or folks who just want cool eco-friendly jewelry about this business. After all, it’s still gold, and that what the ladies (and gents) want, right?


Portraits of Practical Environmentalists

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I just came across this great article that profiles four kinds of careers that focus on helping the environment. If you’ve got a young friend or a teenage daughter or son who is interested in working to protect the environment, these real-life examples of practical environmentalists may get them interested in one of these professions.

The article looks at Bern Johnson, the executive director of Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (E-LAW), Tim Maze, an environmental educator, Galen Burrell, a sustainable design engineer, and Giorgio Zoia, who works for the gas, power, and renewables division of BP, an energy company. The article proves that you can have a satisfying (and well paying!) career helping the environment.


Got Dung?

The University of Alberta (Canada that is. Our northern neighbor. You know, Rush, beer, hockey. Never heard of it? Got an atlas? Ok, go north of Idaho. Ok, there it is. Got it? Good…) recently performed a study on composting cow manure and got some interesting results.

University of Alberta researcher Gurpreet Singh said he unearthed scientific evidence that composting, rather than the normal farm practice of stockpiling dung, produces a third less greenhouse gases and could reduce Canada’s carbon emissions by as much as 1.6 billion kilograms annually.

Unfortunately, the article goes on to say that composting on the farm can get expensive, which may deter many farmers. Tax incentives anyone?


Mad Show’s Eco Events

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Mad Show is for folks who are:

“after quality clothing, beauty products, food or drink, a holiday or something special for the home or garden…

“Mad” stands for “Make a Difference” – and all products promoted by Mad* are from organic, fairtrade or sustainable resources. So you can rest easy, knowing that you can make a difference – without sacrificing quality, simply by the way you spend.”

Mad Show will be hosting some unique events in London this year. Save the dates: June 2nd, 3rd and 4th


Pennsylvania Offers Revenue from Recycling




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Originally uploaded by patriarca12.

Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell hopes that protecting the environment will actually turn a profit for businesses and organizations in his state. The Compost Infrastructure Development Grant Program is an innovative way to help businesses create organic compost with the waste generated from producing their products. The grants will help businesses that have high volumes of food and other organic waste create a product that they can actually sell, compost, from what would normally go to the municipal dump. Read more here.



Sevier County Tennessee: Municipal Composting Champ!




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Originally uploaded by YPlante.

Sevier County, in the heart of Tennessee’s Smokey Mountains, is a strange place to find the number one municipal compost plant in the United States. You’d think that someplace like California would host this kind of super-efficient technology. However, in terms of municipal solid waste composting, Sevier County’s compost plant was recently ranked as number one in the nation for volume. Tom Leonard, of Sevier Solid Waste Inc. (SSWI) is very proud of this recognition, and states that the plant will only get better. Their goal is to run the best solid waste system in the world. Not only does this plant create useful compost, it also helps to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by large landfills, and therefore, helps to reduce global warming. The plant has received wide international interest as well, with visitors coming from places like China and Spain to tour the plant. Congratulations! Read more here.


Soil Builder’s Inc.




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Originally uploaded by raumoberbayern.

Soil Builder’s Inc., a company that makes compost, worm castings and “Mighty Microbe Mulch,” recently received praise from the Columbian Newspaper for their efforts to transform horse manure, wood shavings, and leftover hay into high quality compost. For now, they offer their product wholesale, but plan on expanding their sales for smaller markets soon.