21 July 2008

big plans

  • Largest solar power plant in US: Florida
  • World's biggest biogas plant: Germany
  • World's largest wind farm: Texas
  • World's largest rooftop solar array: Spain (GM)
  • Most ambitious renewable energy plan: Al Gore

energy saving for summer

Stay cool in the summer swelter and save money with these simple ways to reduce energy consumption:

  • Close the blinds/curtains/shades to keep out the sun's rays
  • Keep the windows closed during the day when the heat is most extreme
  • Avoid using the oven -- opt for salads and other no-cook meals, use the microwave instead (it's more efficient and produces less heat), or grill if you've got one!
  • Do laundry at night when it's cooler; wait until you have a full load, use cold water to wash, and hang to dry if you can
  • Run the dishwasher at night and skip the heat dry cycle
  • Take cool showers -- using less hot water saves energy
  • Wash your hands in cold water (see above) -- don't worry, you'll kill as much germs as with warm water
  • Keep lights off during the day and only use lights in the room you're in at night
  • Use the A/C only in the evening when you're home, or use fans instead
  • If you have central air, have it set to turn off when you're not home and raise the temperature to 78 degrees when you are
  • Make sure your home is insulated properly
  • Unplug the energy vampires, those appliances you only occasionally use like the toaster, microwave oven, DVD player
  • Use power strips where multiple appliances are used (think TV, DVD player, stereo, etc.); switch the power strip to off when you leave the house
  • Power down your computer when not in use

a better yoga mat

If you don't already know me, you probably wouldn't be surprised to learn that I do yoga. Aside from the physical health benefits, the mindfulness that comes from yoga practice naturally feeds a sustainable lifestyle.

When my old yoga mat got chewed up in the washing machine (woops!) I was happy to buy a new, eco-friendly one. The old one was made with PVC, one of those materials I try to avoid like the plague because it's plaguing people's health (its production causes a rare form of liver cancer).

Check out 50 ways to reuse your yoga mat here.

Earth Elements by Hugger Mugger is the one I bought. It's made from TPE (thermo plastic polymer), which is PVC-, chlorine- and latex-free. It's both decomposable and durable (how is that possible?) with a great grippy texture. Be aware that it does smell funny when you first get it, but that goes away with a couple days' airing out. (Available at Amazon and Barefoot Yoga Co.)

Manduka eKO Mat is made from 100% natural, non-Amazon forested rubber. It's also biodegradable and non-toxic.

Eco-friendly Reversible Mat by Gaiam is made from renewable resources. PVC- and latex-free.

The Original Eco Yoga Mat from Barefoot Yoga Co. is made of jute and natural rubber with no synthetic materials to be found. Hand washable and 100% biodegradable.

E.C.O. Sticky Mat by Prana, like the one I have, is made from TPE. PVC- and latex-free.

Barefoot Yoga Co. has a bunch of eco-friendly yoga mat options, and now through July 27th, get free shipping on orders $99 and over with promo code JULYFREE.

But if you want to splurge...

Go for the super-sustainable cork mat. From Korq ($200; Made in NYC) or Stilelibero (~$200 incl. shipping; from UK).