Goal For The Green

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Archive for the ‘Sustainability’ Category

Compostable Bowls

Jul-4-2015 By Barbara Zak

Modern life is filled with modern conveniences. Unfortunately, many of those conveniences come with a price we would rather not pay. They can provide a low quality experience when you use them and, very often, you also get to feel guilty about the environment afterwards.

Let’s say your boss has tasked you with throwing a soup party at the office, There is no means to wash a bunch of dishes afterwards. Besides, these are your co-workers, not your children. Cleaning up after them is not really part of your job duties, even if when you are asked to organize an event. There is a modern convenience to solve this problem: Disposable bowls.

The problem is that if you get Styrofoam bowls and put hot soup in them, you can actually see how the Styrofoam melts from the heat and you can taste how it has contaminated the food. Even if you do not believe that has negative health consequences, who on earth actually likes the taste of Styrofoam? It makes for a lousy dining experience to have your soup with a little bit of Styrofoam flavoring. Afterwards, you get to feel guilty about what you are doing to the environment.

Alternately, you could get plastic bowls. They are more heat tolerant in that they are less likely to melt or off-gas. They also have no insulation, so holding a disposable plastic bowl full of hot soup is a good way to get burned. They also do not solve the issue of guilt. Plastic is also something that will do bad things to the environment after it arrives at a landfill.

Another alternative is paper bowls. They are better insulated than plastic, will not leave behind a chemical taste, and there is some hope they will properly biodegrade when they go to the landfill. This sounds like a winner, until you actually throw your party and discover that paper has a bad habit of not holding up well when wet. This is a potential disaster of a party.

The superior answer here is compostable bowls made from sustainable materials like bamboo. They will hold up well when filled with hot soup. Like paper bowls, they have natural insulation to protect your fingers from the heat, and there will be no chemical taste added to your food. Furthermore, when they get to the landfill, they will properly and fully biodegrade. Problem solved.

Questions To Ask Cleaning Companies

Mar-18-2015 By Barbara Zak

When searching for carpet cleaners Brooklyn homeowners use, there are some questions that you need to keep in mind in order to find the best service possible. The first thing that you should find out about is whether the company offers a free estimate or if you have to pay a fee for someone to come to the home to examine the area that needs to be cleaned. If you have to pay a fee, then it should be deducted from the total price of the cleaning.

Most companies will stand by the quote that they give you. If the company does offer an estimate and you decide to use the services, then you need to make sure you have a document stating what will be done, the average of how long it could take and how much it will cost. You also need to ask about any warranties or if damages are covered by the company. Find out how long it takes to clean an area of the home and how many people will be doing the job. Another thing to keep in mind are the kind of materials used when cleaning. If you have any allergies or young children, then you need to make sure the products used are safe.

Some companies will have large pieces of equipment that are used to clean the carpets in the home. Find out if you will need to provide any of the cleaning products or if the company will supply everything. If there is a specific scent that you want used, then ask if you can provide the items. The company might take a small amount off the total price if all the workers have to do is clean instead of provide all of the supplies.

See if the technicians are certified in the work that is done. Ask to see any kind of references that will give you enough assurance to know that the company provides the best work possible. When you hire the company, you should probably be at the home for the first few times that the technicians clean if you plan on using the company on a regular schedule just so that you can see how they operate.



Shining New Lights on Solar Energy

Feb-17-2015 By Barbara Zak

Since the energy crisis of the 1970s, scientists and researchers have spent a great deal of time and money looking for alternatives to fossil fuels. Additionally, a host of environmentalist groups have demanded these alternatives be eco-sensitive, serving as clean and renewable energy sources.

To many, solar power is one of the most desirable of all energy sources. The sun shines and strikes Earth whether its energy is used or not, so simply capturing its potential doesn’t add any environmental burden. Moreover, there are ways to use solar energy that prevent any harmful emissions or other environmental issues.

The core focus on using solar energy was initially on the solar, or photovoltaic, cell. Developed for use in space vehicles, the solar cell was adapted quickly to solar panels for use in the home and other applications. The solar panels installed on the roofs of homes are simply arrays of hundreds of these solar cells, and they create a flow of direct current. This electricity is then sent through an inverter, and it enters the home as regular AC electricity. The entire process serves to eliminate the use of electricity generated by the utilities, such as Columbia Utilities and other local utilities throughout the nation.

Increasing Efficiency

The main drawback to the growth in the use of solar energy is the initial cost of installation and ongoing upkeep of the systems. The goal is to have systems that generate a rapid payback and provide ongoing savings by providing sufficient energy in the home or other applications.
The focus on research to achieve this objective is on two areas. First, scientists are trying to improve the efficiency of the solar cell itself. The degree to which the cell converts the energy in the sun’s rays is the measure of its efficiency. While that rate has increased from roughly eight 8 percent in the first cells to 18 to 20 percent today, there are experimental cells that achieve a 40 percent efficiency rating. The more efficient a cell, the fewer needed to provide the desired level of electricity, and the cheaper a total installation.

The second focus of those who wish to see more use of solar energy in the home is on the way the cells and panels are used. Since more than 50 percent of the cost of an initial installation is related to costs other than the cells themselves, this is where a lot of the savings are coming. New approaches such as thin-cell panels and flexible cells allow a different way to use solar in the home. These products can be incorporated into roofing materials and easily installed, producing significant savings.

As science continues to make solar power more affordable and efficient, it will become even more popular as a source of energy for homeowners.