Every Day is Earth Day

Earth Day was April 22, 2010, but we can celebrate it year round by practicing little green habits every day.

Earth Day 2010

Earth Day is an opportunity to remember that the three R's are prioritized. Reduce, reuse and recycle is a mantra with alliteration and purpose.

Buy less. Buy less food. The sale on crackers doesn't do anyone much good if they sit stale in the cupboard. Even the greatest outfits can be lost in an over stuffed closet - what a waste! The best part of reducing is saving money. For every reduction, a positive action will reveal itself: less driving leads to more walking or biking and a healthier physique.

One may reuse by using the same item for its original function again and again, or by re-purposing the item. A plastic sandwich bag used for dry items like chips can usually be reused without even needing a rinse. Clothing that is not dirty can be worn again before getting tossed into the hamper. Then, there's crafts and finding new uses for old things. With the internet, one doesn't need to be creative; just do a Google search and follow the directions of your selected craft. Here's one for turning old toothbrushes into bracelets.

When nothing else can be done, dispose of the product properly. Some recycling centers will offer incentives to get hazardous items to the right facility. For example, Clark Public Utilities customers in Clark County, Wash. may receive a new compact fluorescent bulb for each burnt-out, unbroken one they bring in.

Which plastics are best?

FACT: Plastics can take up to 400 years to break down. Almost all the plastics ever made can still be found somewhere.

Plastic manufacturers throw around words like degradable, compostable and biodegradable, but what do these really mean? These are all words that mean that the plastics break down, right? There is a difference between all of these and they should play a role in your purchasing decisions.

Biodegradable products break down from naturally occurring microorganisms over a period of time. They are often made from plant and animal sources and some examples of biodegradable products include paper, vegetable scraps and some plastics made from ingredients like corn starch.

BUT: When added to landfills in the oxygen depleted environment, biodegradable waste breaks down under anaerobic conditions and creates methane, which is a greenhouse gas with over 62 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Biodegradable waste can also contain toxins such as heavy metals and pesticides.

Degradable plastics are oil based and break down through chemical reactions rather that the activity of microorganisms, so they can degrade in an anaerobic environment into water, carbon dioxide, biomass and trace elements.

Compostable plastics are close to biodegradable plastics but "greener", according to a Green Living Tips article. For plastic to be considered compostable, it must be able to break down into carbon dioxide, water and biomass at the same rate as paper. It also needs to look like compost, should support plant life, and not produce any toxic material. Compostable products are usually made from plant materials like corn, potato, cellulose, soy and sugar.

THE BOTTOM LINE: In some scenarios the fossil fuel input is greater in making these "green plastics" when compared to the equivalent in crude oil basted plastic product.

WSU Student Designs Eco-Jeans

PULLMAN, Wash.—Lacey Wilmot, second year graduate student in WSU's Apparel Merchandising, Design and Textiles program, used her love for jeans as an inspiration to develop long-lasting, sustainable jeans. Her thesis project, “Designing Culturally and Environmentally Sustainable Denim Jeans,” was presented at the 2010 Academic Showcase.

"I aimed to design American-made environmentally sustainable jeans,” Wilmot said.

“Jeans are iconic, but that’s been lost in the materialistic world,” Wilmot said. “I wanted to go back to the roots of American jeans.”

According to Wilmot, people spend $200 on jeans that only last seven months. The idea behind her project was to marry the iconic symbol of jeans with quality, and to make them sustainable. Her collection included five pairs of jeans, from trousers to skinny fit, all of which were meant for different body types.

“One thing that is wonderful about Lacey’s project,” said Carol Salusso, associate professor of AMDT, “is that she is combating throw away fashion and designing jeans that will last.” Wilmot wanted people to know that quality jeans can be made to be sustainable.

Eco-fashion is beginning to be trendy, but many people do not want to jeopardize fashion for the environment. Wilmot wanted to show people that she could design fashionable apparel that is eco-friendly and American-made.

“You shouldn’t have to advertise that something is environmentally sustainable, it should be a given,” Wilmot said.

Through research, Salusso discovered that the American Cotton Growers produce safe denim, which stands for sustainable, American and friendly to the environment. According to their Web site, the American Cotton Growers and its farmers produce an average of 37 million yards of denim annually, enough to make 26 million pairs of jeans, every yard of which is grown, spun, dyed, and woven from the cotton its members produce.

Salusso also found a company that produces eco-friendly products that can be used to lighten denim. The company, Dyadic, even sent samples as a contribution to Wilmot’s project.

“Lacey’s jeans have integrity,” said Salusso. “Visual integrity. Social integrity, Environmental integrity. Industry should be reestablished on a basis of integrity.”

“It’s really about making a good choice for yourself and for the world,” Wilmot said.

The Visual, Performing and Literary Arts Committee at WSU created a video about Wilmot’s thesis project. The video was being exhibited in the CUB Art Gallery and can also be viewed here.

Health Care Improves Environmental Health

Kaiser Permanente, the largest non-profit HMO in the country is going solar. They will power 15 of their facilities in California with solar power by the summer of 2011.

This agreement with Recurrent Energy, an independent power producer and a developer of solar power projects, will launch one of the largest sustainable energy programs in U.S. health care, according to a press release by Kaiser Permanente.

“What’s good for the environment is good for our health,” said Raymond Baxer, PhD, senior vice president, Community Benefit, Research and Health Policy at Kaiser Permanente in a press release. “By expanding the use of solar power, Kaiser Permanente is demonstrating its commitment to greening its energy portfolio and reducing its carbon footprint."

The solar power systems at Kaiser Permanente will produce an average of 10 percent of the power they use, equivalent to electricity used by about 1,900 homes a year.

As the result of green building efforts, Kaiser Permanente:

-Saves more than $10 million per year through energy conservation strategies. A leader in environmental health care and construction, Kaiser Permanente has committed to drastically reducing its use of fossil fuels and slowing energy growth over the next 10 years.

-Will use sustainable design and construction practices to complete roughly 6.7 million square feet of new construction in the next seven years.

-Eliminated the purchase and disposal of 40 tons of harmful chemicals.

Read more about this project here.

Greenest cars are reused

Anyone with money can buy a green car like a Prius or a Tango. For those of us with smaller egos and budgets, buying used, efficient cars can be the best route.

The Green Car Company of Bellevue, Wash. a jewel when it comes to green, used car shopping. Their inventory is not extensive, but nonetheless exemplary including Smart Cars starting at $11,999 and a bio diesel-ready Volkswagen Golf for $9,999.

The Green Car Company also resells fuel efficient cars that are less glamorous than bio diesel and hybrids, but still in good condition. These cars have decent prices, but the price really depends on the mileage.

However, if you're not convinced that a green car is better the second time around, there are many canons of shiny, new green cars like this list from The Daily Green.

Chickens at home, a green trifecta

I love farm fresh eggs. The different colors, the bright, golden yokes and the flavor make them worth the cost. However, I never thought about having my own chickens. The ruling excuse being that I don't live on a farm. But now, clever chicken coop design is moving chickens to a neighborhood near you.

With Catawaba ConvertiCoops building the "Cadillac" of hen houses, the disincentives for raising urban chickens are thinning out. These portable chicken coops are aesthetically pleasing with a touch of rustic charm. Yet they are also functional. The coops are portable which allows the chickens to fertilize and eat slugs anywhere in the yard. Handcrafted Coops offers similar designs. Of course for do-it-yourself types there are plenty of guidebooks and other resources. Here's a short video of some very attractive hen houses

Fresh eggs, natural fertilizer and safe slug remover is the green trifecta that chickens bring to the table.

The Bloom Box... still a hot option?

Many people have seen the Bloom Box in newspapers and TV spots like 60 Minutes. FedEx, WalMart, Staples, EBay and Google are using Bloom Boxes. Some of these companies are coming up on their one year anniversaries with Bloom Energy. Where does the Bloom Box stand now?

Just a few weeks after entering the limelight, the press energy surrounding the fuel cells has died down. Most articles now are concerned with potential problems. A key issue is Blooms vs. government investment. Smart Grid was going to be the next big thing and government money went with it. The Bloom Boxes are off the grid, which is one of their key advantages, but unless the electric providers and the government find a way to receive profits out of this innovation, it may be a disadvantage in the end.

In commentary for the National Post (Canada) Lawrence Solomon said, "If governments don't vacate the energy business, the Bloom Box may have no customers in the future... because its fate will rest less on its innovative properties than on what lobbyists can deliver."

Not Your Average Vegans... These are Freegans!

According to an article on the Food Production Daily Web site, a shocking forty to fifty percent of all food ready for harvest never gets eaten and household food waste along adds up to $43 billion. This is a serious economic and environmentally un-sound issue.

Freegans are trying to reduce this waste . Freegans are people who employ alternative strategies for living based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources, according to the Freegan.Info Web site.

"Freegans embrace community, generosity, social concern, freedom, cooperation, and sharing in opposition to a society based on materialism, moral apathy, competition, conformity, and greed."

In other words freegans are dumpster divers or "urban foragers" who forage through dumpsters and trash bags outside of grocery stores and bakeries to recover usable items and to avoid being wasteful consumers. Dumpster diving is probably the most shocking freegan practice, but others like squatting and ride shares are outlined here.

Find out more about freegans and watch a video here. Or check out CNN's segment on freegans below.

Organic Fashion

A new trend that seems to be gaining more and more attention is organic fashion, like shirts made of organic cotton. But what does it really mean for cotton to be organic? I asked myself the same question and decided to do some research.

According to the Organic Trade Association, organic cotton is grown using materials and methods with low environmental impact. Organic production systems replenish and maintain soil fertility, reduce the use of toxic pesticides and fertilizers and build biologically diverse agriculture. In addition, the use of genetically engineered seed for organic farming has been prohibited by federal regulations. All organic cotton grown in the U.S. must beet strict federal regulations covering how the cotton is grown.

The market for organic cotton is growing and this interest has resulted in the use of cotton fiber in products, other than just clothing items. Organic cotton is used in personal care items like cotton balls and sanitary products, as well as in home furnishings, children's products, and even paper products. Organic cottonseed is even used for animal feed.

The Sustainable Cotton Project Web sites has a Fiber Footprint Calculator for both growers and consumers to compare the carbon footprints of different growing systems.

"Because of cotton's versatility, it is used for many food and fiber products, making it one of the most widely traded commodities on earth. Yet the simple act of growing and harvesting one pound of cotton fiber to make a T-shirt takes a toll on the earth’s air, water, and soil, and has significant impacts on the health of people in cotton growing areas," said the SCP Web site.

Also check out recycled cotton for another earth-friendly choice in cotton clothing.

Thrift Store Review:My Father's House Community Thrift

Overall: 3.5
Location: 4
Organization: 3.5
Selection: 4
Cleanliness: 3
Price: 3

My Father's House Community Thrift store is a tidy second hand shop located on 40 NE Midway in Oak Harbor, Wash.

Although in a small facility, My Father's House features good organization, the store is not over crowded with items and most clothes seem to be in good condition. The selection beyond clothing is a bit sparse. There is no furniture in this corner shop, but there are kitchen accessories, knick-knacks and toys.

The selection of clothing holds a few surprises. For the most part, the clothing is not out of the ordinary; however, there were a couple semi-formal dresses with original store tags! One may easily assume that the dresses have never been worn, and the prices were steeper. Altogether, the prices were on par with other thrift stores.

My Father's House Community Thrift is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Cut Your Home's Heat Loss

Want to decrease heat loss in your home? A new German product called Climapor by Saarpor can do just that. And you'll never guess what it is... wallpaper.

The heat insulation from Climapor exceeds the effects of conventional materials like brick and concrete. In fact, the four millimeter (about one-eighth inch) thick paper can provide the same insulating value as 68 millimeters (about three inches) of solid brick or 210 millimeters (about eight inches) of concrete.

Climapor comes in rolls of wallpaper and in the form of tiles. It utilizes a form of carbon, the same heat reflective element that warms the planet. The expandable polystyrene (EPS) product is filled with graphite particles that act as mirrors, reflecting thermal radiation and reducing heat loss.

According to a Green Energy News article, if Climapor and similar products can demonstrate their heat reflecting capabilities and insulation effectiveness, then cutting energy consumption in buildings may be as simple as redecorating.

Drink Green Beer Year-round

Many people partook of green beer last week, but not all of those beers were green in the environmental sense. Becoming interested in sustainable alcohol beverages can be rewarding. You can test your taste buds on a variety you may have previously disregarded or discover a local brewery.

A green drink may be selected based on organic merit like beers from Roots Organic Brewing Company. For the consumer, this means getting a beer that has no chemicals or pesticides associated with it. Among others, petro-chemicals and petro-fertilizers are not used. The end product is less fossil fuel consumption and some say, better tasting beer.

A drink can also be measured as green if the company has sustainable practices outside of the bottle. New Belgium Company, most famous for Fat Tire, has a 10 point sustainability plan, green goals and offer basic green tips for everyone. Wind power, better water treatment and giving 1% of revenue to environmental non-profits are examples of how New Belgium Company brews sustainably. They have organic beers on the menu, too.

Buying local is another effective way to drink green. Here is a great tool for finding a brewery near you, CraftBeer.com. Depending on your location, buying local is often the easiest sustainable practice. It can reduce the shipping impact of the beverage to the retailer or your own gas consumption en route to the pub.

Whether it's an organic beer, an eco-friendly company or a local brewery, green beer can be consumed all year-round.

Simple Green Updates for Spring

Spring cleaning is around the corner and it's time to add some easy, green updates to your list. The Natural Abode online or in Moscow, Idaho offers a wide selection of green home products. More importantly, their Web site features a click-able home to help visualize where a green project fits into your life.

A few examples:
Bathroom | low flow shower heads can save up to 7,300 gallons of water a year
Living Room | let your petroleum based candles burnout and switch to 100% beeswax candles
Kitchen | Kirei counter tops made from sorghum stalks
Attic | solar powered attic fan
Roof | solar energy panels

Online Thrift Shopping

As a high schooler growing up in a tiny town I became an expert online shopper. I love shopping online because you don't have to deal with the crowds and if you know exactaly what you want you don't have to deal with a store not having your size. Although I do enjoy the occasional trip to the mall for the true shopping experience, online shopping can make life a lot simpler for many. Now you can even do thrift shopping online.

eBay was the first big e-commerce company that sold used items, but buying and selling used products is becoming more and more popular. Even Goodwill has an online store. I came across The Rusty Zipper while surfing for online thrift stores. They have an incredible selection of used vintage clothing with everything from 80s prom dresses to hippie fringe jackets. The vintage clothes are not cheap, but isn't that the difference between the words 'vintage' and the 'old'?

The Planet is my Friend presents Recyclemania

Cold Winters and Climate Change

In the Northwest, our brief glimpse of Spring has retreated from view, and we're back to winter coats for a little longer. With cold weather like this and dramatic snow storms for the Mid-Atlantic, it's easy for nay-sayers to put on their coats, stick up their noses and say, "Global warming, my ass!"

Yet, as an article from Green Energy News explains, the extra snow is actually a by product of climate change. Basically, climate change has increased the amount of warm air in weather systems, warm air holds more moisture than cold air and increased humidity equals greater snow storm potential when the cold front moves in.

So, when your friend or acquaintance gives a line about global warming being liberal poppy-cock, follow these simple steps.
1. Gently remind them that the greenhouse effect is creating climate change, not global warming.
2. Briefly explain that warm, moisture-rich air is needed for a snow storm. Give Antarctica as an example, it's usually too cold and dry to snow there (the landscape is maintained due to little melting).
3. Conclude your argument by stating that climate change began after the Industrial Revolution and is not based on a single week's forecast or a year's. It's about long term change, over time.

Tips for Eating Green

Eat more chocolate, eat American cheese, use your dishwasher! These were not the kinds of tips I thought I would see when I read Bon Apetit's 50 Ways to Eat Green. I am all for tips that tell me to eat more chocolate, but is there a logic behind them?

A few tips that I found interesting include: (#3) Fill up your freezer because a freezer full of food uses less energy than an empty one. (#14) Get the scoop. Buy items in the bulk bin section of the market. Not only are the foods minimally processed, but they are free of excessive packaging. (#40) Stop whistling. When making tea just bring the water to a boil, don't unnecessarily boil it so it is scalding hot. (#43) Mix your drinks. Consider working boxed wine into your regular rotation because it generates half as many carbon-dioxide emissions in transport, and has recently risen in quality.

Eco-Vacations All Over the World

Best Eco Lodges is a eco-tourism Web site featuring eco-friendly hotels, eco-resorts and green hotels all over the world.

The hotels and lodges featured on the site have been selected to meet eco-friendly requirements to be an ecological and environmentally friendly accommodation that offer travelers an unforgettable experience.

Best Eco Lodges' goal is to create awareness among fellow travelers about genuine sustainable lodging.

Eco lodges must meet the following eco-friendly requirements:
-Be energy efficient
-Protect the environment, including flora, fauna and landscape
-Conserve natural resources
-Support, respect and benefit local culture and economy
(More exhaustive definitions of the requirements can be found here.)

The eco-lodges featured on the Web site are located in Australia, the Bahamas, Belize, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Laos, Seychelles, Mexico, Nepal, New Zealand, South Africa, Tanzania and the U.S.

Rates vary greatly with eco-lodges in South Africa, Laos and India only costing $25 and $30 a night for a double room and a villa at Cousine Island Eco Lodge in Seychelles costing as much as 1700 euros.
An example of an affordable accommodation is the Black Rock Lodge in Belize, which is surrounded by rain forest and is one of few places in Central America where you can observe three Toucan species. The electricity at Black Rock Lodge is supplied by a custom hybrid of hydro and solar power and the staff comes from surrounding communities. The restaurant of the lodge serves fresh, organic fruits that are grown on-site and 100 percent of the water is supplied by a nearby mountain spring. Double rooms start at $80.

Try making your next vacation an eco-friendly one, check out Best Eco Lodges.

Thrift Store Review: Brused Books

Overall Rating: 4
Location: 4
Organization: 3
Selection: 5
Cleanliness: 3
Price: 4

Brused Books is a book lover's haven on Main street, Pullman, Wash. It's easy to find and conveniently located near two coffee shops for people interested in an afternoon of literature and lattes.

The entry way is open, but from there on, a long aisle leads customers into the store. The aisle is formed by tall, overflowing bookcases. This creates a whimsical atmosphere, like the shop could be on Diagon Ally. The books are well organized into small sections like nooks. Books lie on the floor, which adds ambiance, but doesn't give an air of cleanliness. The overwhelming amount of books makes for great browsing, surprising finds and overall great selection.

Book prices are fair and there are $1 book racks. For the most part, books are sold at half of original retail value. Other prices are written on the inside of the front cover. The store will accept books in exchange for in-store credit or cash.

Store hours are Monday-Friday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Sunday 12 - 5 p.m.

Who is using biodiesel?

Approximately 700 major fleets use biodiesel, according to the National Biodiesel Board. Here is a list of just a few biodiesel users:
-City buses in St. Louis, Missouri

-Organic farmers in California

-Marine fleets in Hawaii

-The Agriculture Research Center of the USDA uses biodiesel and heating oil mixture to heat its buildings and uses biodiesel mixed with petroleum diesel in its farm fleet and tour bus

-For a list of more biodiesel users click here

According to the National Biodiesel Board, biodiesel is a clean burning alternative fuel, produced from domestic, renewable resources. Biodiesel contains no petroleum, but it can be blended at any level with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend. Biodiesel is simple to use, biodegradable, nontoxic and essentially free of sulfur and aromatics.

Biodiesel is the first and only alternative fuel to have a complete evaluation of emission results and potential health effects submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Air Act.

It is better for the environment because it is made from renewable resources and has lower emissions compared to petroleum diesel. It is less toxic than table salt and biodegrades as fast as sugar. Since it is made in the U.S. from renewable resources such as soybeans, its use decreases dependence on foreign oil and contributes to our own economy.

Students at Washington State University are making biodiesel from dining center oil. Check it out here.

Check out Gas 2.0 for the Top 15 Unexpected Uses For Biodiesel.

Meatless Monday Recipe: Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant is often called the steak of the vegetarian world and with great recipes like Eggplant Parmesan, it's easy to see why. This dish makes a great family supper because it yields a large carserol. Due to the Italian flavor and eggplant-factor, it can also be a romantic dinner. The recipe seems complicated at first, but after getting familiar with it, it's easy to make using substitutions and estimations.

Prep time: 20 minutes, Cook time: 40 minutes


1 large eggplant
2 eggs
1 cup of breadcrumbs (Italian seasoned, if you want more flavor)
garlic salt
dried oregano or mixed Italian spices
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups of shredded mozzarella
Parmesan cheese (the cheap-o shaker kind!)
spaghetti sauce (even simple Ragu tastes good in this recipe)


1. Slice eggplant into 1/4 thick, disk-like pieces
-making slices thicker or thinner will change breadcrumb to eggplant ratio
2. Scramble eggs in a wide bowl spread breadcrumbs across a large plate
-add desired amount of garlic salt to bread crumbs
3. Begin heating oil in a large pan and pre-heat oven to 375
4. Dunk eggplant slices into egg, cover with bread crumbs
5. Brown eggplant in pan
6. Heat sauce in the microwave
-this will keep eggplant warm as it gets layered in and ultimately reduce bake time
7. Pour sauce into pan until bottom is covered by a thin layer
8. Lay enough of the breaded, pan-fried eggplant into the casserole dish so that there is a complete, not overlapping layer.
9. Add a layer of sauce, Italian seasonings, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
10. Repeat steps 8 and 9 until all eggplant slices are used finishing with sauce and cheese on top
11. Add extra cheese and spices to the top as desired
12. Place casserole dish into pre-heated oven and cook for 30-40 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and cheese is beginning to tan

13. Relax! Make a salad or pour yourself a glass of wine to enjoy with your Meatless Monday meal.

SunChips uses 14 week Compostable Bag

Frito-Lay SunChips are going to "do their part" to help the planet with their new compostable 10.5 oz chip bags.

The new bags are made with a polyactic acid (PLA), produced by NatureWorks LLC. The product line made from PLA is called Ingeo. PLA is derived from plants, and yes, some people still eat plants. Therefore, Sunchips gets two points for effort and decreased use of petrol-products, but minus one for decreasing biodiversity and using plants to produce non-edibles.

Furthermore, the plant in question here is corn. This brings a slew of political factors into the evaluation. Corn is subsidized by our government and is so cheap that it has made its way (as obscure ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup) into over 80% of our food supply. Yet corn farmers take up second jobs to afford insurance and feed their families.

Watch the bag compost in optimal conditions over 14 weeks.
See for yourself in this time lapse video showing the bag decompose

Thrift Store Review: The Soroptimist

Overall Rating:4
Location: 4
Organization: 3
Selection: 4
Cleanliness: 2
Price: 5

The Soroptimist is by far my favorite thrift store in my quaint hometown of Enterprise, Ore. The thrift store, located on Main and 1st Street, is full of treasures waiting to be found.

For being in such a small town the location is ideal, it is located in the middle of the town, right next to the public library. Although the store would be more successful in a larger town, it is always busy and is a perfect addition to Enterprise.

The store is organized to the best of its ability. The store is run by volunteers, everything there has been donated and all of the proceeds go towards community scholarships and grants. Because all of the funds generated are used to help others, the store makes use with what they have and many items are folded and set on tables rather than being hung on clothing racks or stacked on shelves. Soroptimist goes through inventory like you wouldn't believe and the women who volunteer work quickly to keep up.

The selection in the store varies greatly. There are clothes for everyone from babies to adults and probably even dogs. There are crafts, fabric, books, electronics, kitchenware and much more. The only thing that the store does not have is large furniture. The quality of the selection also varies from items that are well worn to items that still have tags.

The store doesn't smell the best and could use some deep cleaning, but it is worth bearing to find treasures that you can buy for only 25 cents. Yes, that's right 25 cents is the typical price of every item. Every once in a while a nice coat might cost 50 cents or a dollar, but you can't get a deal better than that. Sometimes Soroptimist even has bag sales where customers get a bag when they walk in and can purchase anything they fit in the bag for just a dollar.

One of my favorite things to purchase at the Soroptimist is holiday sweaters. Many of my friends have hosted ugly holiday sweater parties and at Soroptimist I can purchase a sweater for 25 cents, when they would cost $6 each at Goodwill. My dad found a satellite radio at Soroptimist. He purchased it not knowing if it would even work to discover that it worked great and still had a year left in its subscription. This is an item that would usually cost more than $100 dollars and he only paid 25 cents. On the right is a photograph of my friend Kelsey and me wearing 25 cent Soroptimist holiday sweaters.

Soroptimist International is a worldwide organization for women in management and professions, working through service projects to advance human rights and the status of women. For more information about the organization click here.

WSU did not kill the Electric Car

In 2006, Who Killed the Electric Car? debuted and raised quite a few eyebrows in regards to gas, cars and conspiracy. The Electric Vehicle (EV1) was a viable option for many drivers back in the '90s. Then it mysteriously was swiped off of the market place. Watch movie trailer here.

Now, The Electrical Vehicle team at WSU is competing to bring back the no-gas dream. Read the article from The Daily Evergreen.

Eco-Spirits Extremely Affordable

On a recent trip to the liquor store I came across 360 Eco Friendly Vodka. It was priced at $19.95 and I decided to give it a try.

The packaging includes a lot of useful information about the company’s environmental impact. It claims to be the first and only true eco-friendly premium vodka and has received awards in taste, quality, packaging and marketing. I am no vodka coinsurer, however I thought it was good and better than the similarly priced Skyy Vodka.

The store only had the regular 360 Eco Friendly Vodka, but after researching on the Web I discovered that 360 also distills cola and double chocolate flavors.

The vodka comes in an 85 percent recycled glass bottle and 100 percent recycled eco-friendly paper products are used in the labeling, packaging and promotional materials. The shipper uses 100 percent recycled cardboard. Environmentally friendly water based inks are used for printing of all materials. A program called Close the Loop was developed for the metal bottle closures with the purpose of enabling infinite reuse which reduces waste and conserves resources needed to produce new closures. The vodka came with an envelope with prepaid postage to return the closure.

The vodka is four times distilled through an energy efficient process, with every bushel of grain being fully utilized and nothing going to waste. The vodka is also five times filtered at a facility that has improved its eco-footprint measurably over the past five years. All grain is locally grown to significantly reduce fossil fuel consumption in transporting raw materials to the distillery.

According to an Eco-Audit with calculations based on research by Environmental Defense and other members of the Paper Task Force, the Earth Friendly Distilling Co. saved the following resources in the production of 360 Vodka’s labeling:

  • 193 fully grown trees
  • 82,766 gallons of water
  • 9,255 pounds of solid waste
  • 139 million BTU of energy
  • 18,052 pounds of greenhouse gases

Magic Soap

Have you ever wondered if the same soap you use to wash your clothes could be used as toothpaste and shampoo? Sounds outrageous right? Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap does just that, in fact, it has 18 different uses. The soap, which has been made for decades, is also certified under the USDA National Organic Program and Fair Trade.

Below is a list of just some of the soap's uses, according to the product Web site:

1. Always dilute for Shave-Shampoo-Massage-Dental Soap-Bath!

2. Peppermint is nature's own unsurpassed fragrant Deodorant!

3. A drop is best Mint Toothpaste; brushes Dentures Clean!

4. A dash in water is the ideal Breath Freshener & Mouth Wash!

5. Peppermint Oil Soap for Dispensers, Uniforms, Baby, Beach!

6. Dilute for ideal After Shave, Body Rub, Foot Bath, and Douche.

7. Hot Towel-Massage the entire body, always towards your heart.

8. Pets, silk, wool & body tingles head to toe - keeps cool!

9. 3 dashes in water rinse most Sprays Off fruit & vegetables!

10. 1/4 oz in qt H2O is Pest Spray! Dash, no rash Diaper-Soap!

All of Dr. Bronner’s Magic All-One liquid and bar soaps are completely biodegradable and vegetable-based. They are made with Certified Fair Trade and Organic oils. Both the bar and liquid have 18 uses and there are no synthetic foaming agents, thickeners or preservatives in the soap. The cylinder bottles and paper labels used in the packaging are 100 percent post-consumer recycled.

Dr. Bronner’s is the number one selling natural soap brand in North America. Although I have never used it, I am eager to try it out. A classic bar of soap costs $4.19 and an eight ounce bottle of the liquid version is only $5.99. Not bad at all when you consider all of its uses.

Dr. Bronner must have been an interesting character. This is evident when reading the soap bottle label, and is demonstrated in a 2006 documentary, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soapbox. Click here to see the movie trailer.

Thrift Shop Review: Paws-N-Claws Thrift Store

Overall Score: 3
Location: 4
Organization: 2.5
Selection: 3
Price: 3

Paws in Claws Thrift Store is a bit of a misnomer. To some, the name implies used pet goods. Although the product selection is not focused on pets, all of the proceeds go to the Humane Society.

The store has a good location for Vancouver area shoppers. It is just a few blocks off of SR-500, and it is near a Walgreens for those who like to bundle their errands. Altogether, Paws-N-Claws is easy to find on 3308 NE 52nd St, Vancouver, Wash.

The store occupies a medium space, but a multitude of goods create a cramped feel. Also, high shelving sections-off certain areas. This technique is good for organization, but increases the claustrophobia effect. Another negative atmosphere attribute was a distinct thrift shop smell - the worst I've smelled in a while.

If shoppers can overlook the surface qualities, the selection is varied with prices that are reasonable. More importantly, the benefits of shopping at Paws-N-Claws are two-fold: help the environment by reusing goods and help a furry friend!

Share freezer space, reduce energy consumption at Main Market, Spokane

There's a new co-op in town, and it wields innovative green ideas that go beyond food. Main Market Co-op, Spokane offers a program for patrons to purchase a locker of freezer space in their store. Thus, people share the amount of energy needed to keep goods frozen. In store promotions for the concept claim that a co-oped freezer locker could greatly reduce or eliminate freezer use at home. The concept is designed for families who tend to buy frozen items in bulk.

Community Supported Agriculture

Community Supported Agriculture is a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm so the farmland becomes the community's farm. Growers and consumers provide mutual support and share both the risks and benefits of food production.

With CSA, a farmer offers a certain number of shares to the public. Usually a share consists of a box of vegetables, but other products from the farm may be included. Interested consumers purchase shares, in advance, to cover the anticipated farming costs. Shares are also called memberships or subscriptions. In return these shareholders receive a box of seasonal produce each week of the farming season, but they also share the risks of farming, including poor harvests from things such as bad weather and pests.

CSA has become popular over the last 20 years. It is a great way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from the farmers, according to the Local Harvest Web site.
Here are some advantages of a CSA, straight from Local Harvest:

Advantages for farmers:

-Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16 hour days in the field begin

-Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm's cash flow

-Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow

Advantages for consumers:

-Eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits

-Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking

-Usually get to visit the farm at least once a season

-Find that kids typically favor food from "their" farm – even veggies they've never been known to eat

-Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown

You can search for the closest CSA on the Local Harvest Web site, click here. There are six in the Pullman/Moscow area. For example, the Washington State University Organic Farm's CSA has 105 shares. The CSA averages 24 weeks starting mid-May and running through the end of October. A share costs $525 a season, but a half share is available for $325.

Eco-Grooming Products

As I was reading through The Daily Evergreen I came across an advertisement for Red Devil Grooming. It is an online retailer for affordable, organic personal care products. With a tag line "So Natural. It's a Sin." I knew I had to check it out.

There are only 11 products on the Web site, but they are extremely affordable in comparison to similar items. The products, which are aimed towards men, include shampoo, hair gel and body wash. Most of these items cost $8.95, with the most expensive item being a 3-pack of personal care items for $24.95.

The site is very well organized and links to a blog about men's grooming, a Twitter account and a place to sign up for the newsletter.

Red Devil Grooming's mission is to provide products to people that are good for the environment and the people who use them.

In 2009, the company was created in order to "...take the challenge of trying to save the world." The company sought to curb some environmental issues like eliminating the harsh chemicals used in grooming products and shipping products in eco-friendly packaging.

The planet is my friend because...

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Thrift Store Review: Goodwill

Overall Score: 4
Location: 4
Organization: 4
Selection: 4
Price: varies

The Goodwill in Moscow, Idaho is similar to the Goodwill in Vancouver, Wash. and I'd wager that more than 2,300 Goodwill stores across the country are similar as well. Regardless, there are many consistencies that are beneficial to second hand shopping.

Located right off the Moscow-Pullman highway, Goodwill is easy to access and offers plenty of parking. The building is large and shoppers have plenty of space to peruse the well organized store. Only one area lacks organization: the knick-knack, dishes and kitchen shelves are not shopper-friendly.

Perhaps a mark of corporate standards, the Goodwill in Moscow is kept clean - it barely has that second hand smell! It has a public bathroom, a convenience not found in all retail stores.

The selection is substantial. Seasonal items such as snow shovels and coats are highlighted in the front area.There is a variety of never been used merchandise woven into the selection including socks and random items. This particular store boasts a fine array of 80's night apparel. A quality that is perfect for it's location between two colleges.

Price presents a key downfall for the store. The prices vary from less than $2 for a fancy blouse to more than $10 for good condition jeans. Coats and jackets throw the range even higher. Some are reasonably priced, others around $25 and others even higher. The expensive items seem better fitted for a consignment shop.

Altogether, it's a good place to go for thrift store shopping. As an added benefit, 84 percent of profits help fund Goodwill programs.

Make the Light Switch

If every household replaced three 60-watt incandescent bulbs with energy efficient bulbs, the pollution saving would be like taking 3.5 million cars off the road.

According to Energy Star, Americans saved $1.5 billion in 2007 by switching to Energy Star qualified compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). The energy saved could light all of the homes in a city the size of Washington D.C. for over 30 years.

Energy-saving CFLs use one-quarter of the energy to produce the same amount of light. This means lower electricity bills and millions of tons less global warming pollution. In the summer they will even lower cooling bills because they do not burn as hot as incandescent bulbs, in fact, they product 75 percent less heat.

In addition to being more energy efficient, Energy Star bulbs last 10 times longer than incandescent light bulbs.

In order to make the switch, the Environmental Defense Fund recommends:
  1. Start with one bulb in one room to be sure that it gives the kind of light you want.
  2. Know your wattage. Look for a CF bulb with one-quarter the wattage of the incandescent bulb you are replacing (i.e. CF 15-watt bulb replaces an incandescent 60-watt bulb).
  3. Check the shape and size to make sure that a CF bulb will fit in your lamp or light fixture.
  4. In order for a CF bulb to work with a dimmer, it needs to be designed for it, so read the package.
  5. Look for the Energy Star label, these bulbs are the most energy efficient.
  6. Dispose of old light bulbs properly. All fluorescent lights contain traces of mercury so they need to be recycled when they burn out. To find a location to recycle your old bulbs click here.
  7. Check to see if your utility company offers rebates for using energy-efficient bulbs.

Food for Thought: The Meatrix

If you eat meat and/or live in America, you must watch The Meatrix. A parody of the Matrix movies, The Meatrix I, II and II&1/2 shed light on factory farming, the dairy industry and processing factories. The videos are only a few minutes long, can entertain all ages and have a heavy dose of facts.

Is your meat real or are you living in the Meatrix?

Thrift Store Review: Closet Transfer

Overall Rating: 4
Location: 4
Organization: 4
Selection: 4
Cleanliness: 5
Price: 3

Closet Transfer is a trendy consignment store and a great addition to a college town like Pullman.

Although the selection only includes men's and women's clothing and accessories, they have a great collection that includes brand names like Seven for All Mankind, Coach, Banana Republic and Fossil. With brand names like this, the store is sure to become a popular destination for 20-something college students.

Closet Transfer is conveniently located at 242 E. Main St. in Pullman, which is the perfect location for getting a lot of foot traffic. The store is spacious, clean and neatly organized by clothing type and color.

But of course with bigger names, there are bigger prices. Items are priced at about one-third of their estimated original price. This means that most items in the store range from $10 to $30.

People are encouraged to bring in their gently-used items for consignment. The clothing needs to be clean, pressed and on hangers. Items need to either be currently in style or vintage. For jewelry, earrings need to be on a card to help keep them in pairs. The store is seasonal so it will only be accepting winter clothing through February.

Consignors receive 50 percent of the sale price of each item sold. Items are consigned for 60 days, at which time the consignor has the option to pick up any unsold items as well as a check for the items sold, otherwise unsold items will become property of Closet Transfer and a check for items sold will be mailed.

Listed below are the store hours:

Monday- 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Tuesday- 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Wednesday- 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Thursday- 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Friday- 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday- 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunday- 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

-Reviewed by Holly Luka and Erica VanNatta

Energy Audit

Want to make your home as energy efficient as possible?A great way to make your home more efficient is to get an energy audit. You can assess how much energy your home uses, learn what measures you can take to make it more efficient and discover ways to save money.

An audit can help you pinpoint where your home is losing energy and can determine the efficiency of your home's heating and cooling systems. It also may show you ways to conserve hot water and electricity

There are two ways to do an energy audit. You can do one yourself or hire a professional energy auditor. Visit the U.S. Department of Energy for more information on Do-It-Yourself Home Energy Audits. For information and tips on professional audits click here.

In Washington, Puget Sound Energy encourages customers to use energy as efficiently as possible. They have an online tool in which you can get customized cost-saving recommendations and you can look into grants and rebates that can work for you.

Eat Well Guide makes Eco-dining Easy

The Eat Well Guide from Sustainable Table is a great tool for finding green dining resources in your area. Discover co-ops, green wholesalers, farmers' markets and more. Sustainable Table also has kits for sale enabling anyone to spread the news about improving our food quality and the condition of our environment by making green food choices.

De-code Green Labels

Marketers have jumped on the green bandwagon. Furthermore, they're trying to steer it by utilizing a wide array of labels to boast a product's eco-friendly feature. Educate yourself by finding out what the labels mean and which are essentially meaningless. Consumer Reports teams up with Greener Choices to provide an eco-label search engine and evaluation.

For example, the label Free Range scores very poorly. According to the report, Free Range is not a meaningful or verified label. In poultry, the USDA requirement for free range chickens is that they have access to the outdoors, but there is no guideline for the duration of access.

There are some meaningful and verified labels out there. A highly rated label is Fair Trade Certified. It is rated highly meaningful, the meaning of the label is consistent, the standards are publicly available as is information about the organization.

Thrift Store Review: The Thrift Shop

Overall Rating: 3.6
Location: 3.5
Organization: 3
Selection: 3.5
Cleanliness: 3
Price: 5

A visit to The Thrift Shop at 525 Campus Street begins on the porch. There, free items lead shoppers into the hall and to the actual store. Some of the freebies were surprising, such as a beautiful antique suitcase. The store location on College Hill, Pullman, Wash. is great for college students, but not ideal for other members of the community.

The Thrift Shop is located in the bottom floor of the Community Congregational United Church of Christ and it is not very large. Because there isn't a lot of room and there are so many items, it seems cramped and a little disorganized.

The shop offers a wide selection of clothing, but the quality varies greatly. Besides clothing, the selection includes books and knick knacks, but does not include many furniture pieces.

Prices at the shop are extremely reasonable. Jeans and dresses are $3, blouses are $2 and t-shirts are $1.50.

The Thrift Shop is run by friendly volunteers and all of the items for sale have been donated. In effect, prices stay low and the proceeds go to support programs within the Community Congregational United Church of Christ including the Common Ministry- K House, Pullman Child Welfare, United Way, Community Action Center, Palouse Habitat for Humanity and the Council on Aging.

The Thrift Shop also has a voucher program for families in need. Organizations like Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse, the Community Action Center and Head Start distribute these vouchers which are valid for all items at the Thrift Shop.

The Thrift Shop is open Tuesdays from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and on Thursdays and Fridays from noon to 4 p.m. They accept cash and check only. Be prepared for kind customer service from lovable volunteers.

Renewable Energy Purchases on the Rise

Corporations can wreak havoc on the environment. However, their large purchasing power gives them the opportunity to make a positive effect by buying renewable energy rather than using conventional, unsustainable power sources.

Consumers in all states have the opportunity to buy renewable electricity. In areas where consumers pick a utilities provider, they have the option to select a green energy provider. In other areas, green pricing programs are available. If nothing else, renewable energy certificates (RECs) are available to offset emissions, but these are more common for businesses.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), "if the typical commercial facility switched to 100 percent renewable power or used RECs to offset emissions, this could amount to thousands oftons of emissions avoided each year."

Kohl's became the new #2 purchaser of renewable energy this week. Intel is still on top and PepsiCo is #3. For more information, read the article on the Environmental Leader Web site.

Organic Affordability

With chemicals like pesticides and growth hormones in food, people often wish they could eat organically. Stars like Gwyneth Paltrow, Julia Roberts and Christina Aguilera do it, but not all of us have celebrity incomes. According to the Washington Post, buying organic food can be up to 40 percent more expensive than conventional food.

How can the rest of us afford to eat organic? Here are ten tips for eating organically on a budget:
  1. Buy locally- Shop at local farmer's markets. The food is often cheaper and fresher than grocery stores. Ask about bargains and seconds, fruits or veggies that may be discounted because they are misshapen. Shopping locally also helps sustain the local economy. Search for local farmer's markets at Local Harvest.
  2. Buy seasonally- Fruits and vegetables that are in season are more abundant and usually cost less.
  3. Buy in bulk- Stock up when items are on sale, especially canned items, cereals, dried fruits, beans, etc. Be careful about food expiring when storing items. Place items that have closest expiration date in the front of your cupboard.
  4. Freeze it- Freezing is a great options for fruits and vegetables. Buy things in season and freeze them for up to six months.
  5. Grow your own- Consider starting your own garden. Start with produce that is easy to grow and ask garden center employees which items grow best in your area and when to plant them.
  6. Clip coupons- Look for coupons in newspapers, fliers, at the store and online. Many product labels also include coupons for future purchases.
  7. Research- Look through advertisements to see which organic products are on sale at specific locations and plan your shopping trips accordingly. Research local farmer's markets and organic retailers-- Try the Organic Consumers Association.
  8. Become a member of a co-op or buying club-A food co-op is a member-owned business that provides groceries and products to its members at a discount. Many products are organic and from local family farms. Joining is as simple as signing up and paying dues. In a buying club, members purchase food and other organic products in bulk and then divide the order. It is a great way to get organic food cheap--often 30 to 40 percent off the retail price.
  9. Buy generic brands- Generic in-store organic brands are often much cheaper and usually contain the exact same ingredients as the name brand, just check the label.
  10. Start slow- If you cannot afford to go completely organic here are some foods you may want to consider buying organically because of pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, etc: Beef, chicken and pork; Dairy products (i.e. milk, cheese, butter); Strawberries, raspberries and cherries; Apples and pears; Tomatoes; Spinach and salad greens; Coffee; Potatoes; Stone fruits (i.e. peaches, nectarines and apricots); Grapes; Celery; Peppers.

Go Reusable

Did you know that more than 500 billion plastic bags are used annually (almost 1 million per minute)? According to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. alone uses 100 billion plastic bags per year, with an estimated 12 million barrels of oil going into making them. Look here for more shocking statistics on plastic bags.

Because plastic bags cause so much waste, reusable grocery bags are becoming more popular and can be found in most stores. Many are also given away as promotional items for companies, organizations and causes.

As a college student who is good at getting free stuff, I have at least five reusable bags. I keep a few in my car so I can remember to take them into the grocery store with me. And when I am only buying one item at a store, I often request no bag and either throw the item in my purse or just carry it out.

Reusable bags are made from a variety of materials and fabrics and come in many different designs and colors. Here are a few examples:
1 Bag At A Time

Next time you go shopping, pay a few extra bucks to purchase the reusable bag and REUSE IT!

(And if you have a bunch of old plastic bags laying around-- RECYCLE THEM!)

Thrift Store Review: Palouse Treasures

Overall Rating: 4
Location: 4
Organization: 5
Selection: 3.5
Cleanliness: 3.5
Price: 3.5
(See explanation of categories below)

Throughout the next few months we will be reviewing local thrift stores. We will be using a five-point scale, five being the best in a given category.

Palouse Treasures is located at 1005 NW Nye St. in Pullman, Wash. It is visible from Grand Avenue, the main drag in Pullman. The store is a two-story establishment and its spacious layout and good organization makes it easy to find what you’re looking for. It offers a very large selection of items.

“This is my favorite thrift store because of its location, price and variety of kids clothes,” said Tanya Steward of Palouse, Wash. She has been shopping at Palouse Treasures for two years.

Palouse Treasures accepts all forms of payment, but most items cannot be returned. All electronics for sale have been tested in store; if they do not function after purchase they can be returned for store credit.

A non-profit organization, Palouse Treasures accepts goods on a donation only basis.

The store is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The categories include location, organization, selection, cleanliness and price. Location includes accessibility and visibility. Organization is based on the layout of the store and placement of items and goods. Selection includes quantity, quality and variety of products. Cleanliness will be based on the smell of the store and general upkeep. Price is that compared with other thrift stores.

-Reviewed and Written By Holly Luka and Erica VanNatta