Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Google Pledges Big

Google announced that they will heavily fund research and development on renewable-energy technology, focusing on wind, solar, and geothermal power. Calling the project Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal, Google has an end goal of cleanly produced electricity that's less expensive than dirty-black-rock power -- and "within years, not decades." The company will allocate hundreds of millions of dollars total to the project, and tens of millions in 2008. ``We're a large consumer of energy due to our data centers, so we're a natural customer,'' Larry Page, Google's co-founder, said in an interview. ``We see opportunities to make significant investments that generate positive returns.'' The goal is to create a gigawatt of renewable energy, enough to power a city the size of San Francisco for less than it would cost using coal, in ``years, not in decades,'' Page said. Coal accounts for more than 50 percent of all U.S. power and is one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions. Google is already working with Pasadena, California-based ESolar Inc., a solar-power company, and Alameda, California-based Makani Power Inc., a developer of wind energy. ``Climate change is a very important reason for this announcement but it's not the only reason,'' Google co-founder Sergey Brin said today on a conference call. ``There's a lot of demand'' for cheaper energy, he said.

For the energy-efficient search, try google's own blackle,

Sources: Grist, Bloomberg

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Light It Up

Try LED holiday lights this season. LED stands for light-emitting diode. Here's why:

· LED bulbs use 90% less electricity than traditional holiday bulbs.
· With their 20-year lifetimes, you don't have to replace LED light-strings as often as conventional ones.
· Burning 10 strands of lights with 100 lights per strand, eight hours per day for a month costs $175 for incandescent bulbs vs. about $1 for LED mini-bulbs.
· Incandescent lights give off as much as 90% of their energy as heat, leading to fire concerns. LEDs barely warm up.

Here’s where you can get them:

Brookstone LED Mini-Ice Lights
- small white or multicolored lights; 24-ft strands ($20).
Forever Lights - pinecone-esque colored or white bulbs; 24-ft small-bulb strand, 16-ft large-bulb ($19-$29).

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Holiday Shopping or Not

Adopt a Creature or an Acre of Rainforest -- You can adopt endangered animals -- and even parcels of rainforest land -- in someone's name. For the greenie who has everything, look past the charismatic megafauna to sting rays, hellbender salamanders, and vampire bats -- because nothing says happy holidays like poisonous stingers, cannibalism, and blood sucking.

Sign up for a CSA -- Buying a Community Supported Agriculture share for your family supports local (and often organic) farms and broadens the selection of fruits and vegetables you normally eat. You sign up, and once a week or bi-weekly pick up a selection of seasonal fruits and vegetables most of the year. You can search for a CSA program in your area at LocalHarvest.

Teach a Skill -- Perhaps your friend or relative would love to learn to cook, knit, or play some killer power chords on the guitar?

Make Plans -- Offer to plan a series of events or outings: buy tickets for a concert, play, sports event, film festival, or lecture series; go on a hike; or take a class.

Give a Membership or Donate to a Cause -- Museum and zoo memberships can be great presents, as can memberships in or donations to an environmental organization. Whether your loved one gets fired up about animals, the environment, human welfare, education, there's a group out there. Not sure which one is the best fit?

Get Crafty -- If you absolutely must give a tangible gift, try coming up with something handmade. It will be more personalized than buying plastic crap from a store, and you might be able to incorporate reused or recycled materials into the project. Possibilities include sewing winter hats or gloves, compiling a photo album, baking holiday goodies, or burning a CD of your last musical performance.

Eco-Friendly Edibles -- If you want to bring alcohol, chocolate, or a food item, try to buy eco-friendly, fair-trade, biodynamic, or organic.

Source: Grist

Monday, November 19, 2007

Solar Innovations

IBM today announced an innovative new semiconductor wafer reclamation process pioneered at its Burlington, Vermont manufacturing facility. The new process uses a specialized pattern removal technique to repurpose scrap semiconductor wafers -- thin discs of silicon material used to imprint patterns that make finished semiconductor chips for computers, mobile phones, video games, and other consumer electronics -- to a form used to manufacture silicon-based solar panels. The new process was recently awarded the "2007 Most Valuable Pollution Prevention Award" from The National Pollution Prevention Roundtable (NPPR).

Through this process, IBM is now able to more efficiently remove the intellectual property from the wafer surface, making these wafers available for sale to the solar cell industry, which needs the same silicon material to produce photovoltaic cells for solar panels. One of the challenges of the solar industry is a lack of silicon, making reclaimed silicon materials a great source of raw material for solar panels. Worldwide 250,000 wafers are used per day across the industry. IBM estimates that up to 3.3% of these started wafers are scrapped. In the course of the year, this amounts to approximately three million discarded wafers. Because the wafers contain intellectual property, most cannot be sent to outside vendors to reclaim and are crushed and sent to landfills, or melted down and resold.

Depending on how a specific solar cell manufacturer chooses to process a batch of wafers, they could save between 30 - 90% of the energy that they would have needed if they'd used a new silicon material source.

Cool, er, warm.

source: CNN, visit

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Lots and Lots of Trees

The Million TreesNYC is a citywide, public-private iniative, launched by the city of New York in collaboration with the New York Restoration Project. The goal is to plant and care for one million new trees across the City's five boroughs over the next decade. By planting one million trees, New York City can increase its urban forest - made up of street trees, park trees, and trees on public, private and commercial land - by 20%, while achieving the many quality-of-life benefits that come with planting trees. The City will plant 60% of trees in parks and other public spaces. The other 40% will come from private organizations, homeowners, and community organizations.

Planting trees is one of the most beneficial and cost-effective ways to help ease these growing pains. Trees help clean our air, and reduce the pollutants that trigger asthma attacks and exacerbate other respiratory diseases. They cool our streets, sidewalks, and homes on hot summer days. Trees increase property value, and encourage neighborhood revitalization. New York City’s urban forest needs to expand in all five boroughs, in all types of open space. Tree-planting opportunities exist on public lands, but half of the City’s available open space is on private land. MillionTreesNYC will work with residents and community partners to assess planting opportunities on private residential, institutional, and vacant properties.

Every New Yorker can participate by planting and caring for trees through planting and stewardship programs, such as: Volunteer days, Educational training and workshops, and Arbor Day events. You can also fill out a brief online form to request a tree planting near where you live.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Electronic Recycling Events

Get rid of your chargers, computer parts, and other e-waste through the efforts of the Lower East Side Ecology Center (they do composting and lots of other cool stuff). The great thing about these things is that e-waste is extremely bad stuff to wind up in landfills, and when you recycle it, good causes get money for it. a win-win

Saturday, November 24 10-4
Sunday, November 25 10-4
Monday, November 26 4-7
Havana Outpost (it's also a good mexican restaurant) Fulton Street - Fort Green

Saturday, December 8 10-4
Sunday, December 9 10-4
PS 321, 7th Avenue between 1st and 2nd Street - Park Slope

All-Natural Thanksgiving

Here are some helpful hints from the guys at National Geographic to help do the right thing by the earth this Thanksgiving.

Price is important. While organic can be expensive, their market survey (including Whole Foods, Fairway, Fresh Direct and and our local farmer's market at Union Square) shows that sometimes, as with organic wines, prices are the same or quite close. To protect your health and the environment, you can pick organic for those items, like apples, pears, spinach and potatoes, which have the heaviest pesticide loads. Choosing organic helps keep pesticides out of the environment and avoids the cruel conditions animals endure in massive factory farms. And with fuel prices shooting up, picking foods from local farms can reduce costs and will save on the miles your meal travels before it reaches the dining room.

So fill your holiday table with a bounty of organic foods—everything from turkey and ham, to cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, fruits, breads and desserts—using The Green Guide's downloadable Smart Shopper's Holiday Companion (see below). It includes price comparisons (organic vs. conventional) of all potential items on your list. Buy Local. Produce can travel thousands of miles before reaching your plates, but there's no reason to pay the cost of trucking and consume more oil, when you can get to know your local farmers and seek out homegrown delicacies. To find a local farmer or farmer's market in your area, visit Local Harvest ( and use their search engine.

Let’s see, buying food grown without pesticides and harmful chemicals from farmers nearby – what could be more traditional than that?

Source: National Geographic

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Smart Car Smart Buy

The Smart car is an ultra-compact, Mercedes-designed, little vehicle that's been negotiating traffic and squeezing into impossibly tiny spaces in Europe for almost a decade, which will enter the US market. The Smart is expected to get at least 40 miles per gallon. Head of Car and Driver advised prospective Smart car buyers to take a realistic look at their driving habits. "I would make sure that a car this small will meet your needs," Csere said. "If your driving is mostly on city streets or maybe city freeways, the car is going to be fine. But this is not a car that you want to do long distances in on the highway."

SMART FACTS – starts at $11,600
• 770,000 Smart cars have been sold in 36 countries • The Smart car began in the early 1990s as a joint venture between Mercedes-Benz and Swatch • Swatch inventor Nicolas Hayek wanted to design an "ultra-urban" car • Smart stands for Swatch Mercedes Art • Swatch is no longer involved in the project • The Smart car has been one of six cars exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art in New York

It has done "very well" in standard tests that would be done in the U.S. and that the company has replicated in Europe, Gamarra said. But official results won't be out for a while. The Smart car has not yet been crash tested by the National Traffic Safety Administration which waits until vehicles go on sale to the public before evaluating them, NHTSA spokeswoman Karen Aldana said. Experts caution that people for whom safety is a priority should avoid the smallest cars.

Source: CNN

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

One City at a Time

A program of Sierra Club, Cool Cities is making a splash after the U.S. Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement, which convened in October 2007 in Seattle complete with a commitment from Bill Clinton’s foundation to help retrofit cities to be more energy efficient. Begun in 2005, the Cool Cities campaign empowers city residents and local leaders to join and encourage their cities to implement smart energy solutions to save money and build a cleaner, safer future. Cool Cities brings solutions to local levels and showcases solutions for others to model and builds leadership to ensure solutions are implemented at state levels and nation-wide. Hybrid cars, energy efficient buildings, and renewable energy are just a few of the many ways to make this real. For example, Evanston, IL passed a resolution for 20% renewable energy - 5.5 million kilowatt hours of electricity - enough to power more than 500 U.S. homes annually by adding wind farms to their electrical grid. Warwick, RI has replaced all 113 traffic lights and 59 crosswalk signals with LED lights resulting in a 1200 ton reduction in carbon emissions. The city estimates that it will recoup its costs in about two years and save tens of thousands of dollars every year after that. So far there are 766

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Just in Time for the Holidays!

Brooklyn Center For The Urban Environment launches By going to, shoppers can support green business and manufacturers while limiting the environmental impact of their purchases and donating funds to Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment (where a certain BGT member happens to now work). All you have to do is log onto the website, look through the list of cool places to buy eco-friendly gifts for your friends and family, and be connected right to the website -- even iTunes! By doing so, each vendor donates up to 25% of the purchase price to help fund public environmental programs in New York City. 3R Living, Design Public and Vivavi, to iTunes, Greenloop, and Organic Bouquet, the list of vendors includes companies that demonstrate environmentally or socially conscious principles in their products or practices.

Some background: BCUE, a nearly 30 year old organization whose environmental education programs reach over 100,000 individuals and families across the city each year, created to facilitate consumer support for businesses and organizations that are working to protect the environment and foster environmental activism. The Center’s urban ecology and urban design programs are offered in over 260 New York City schools each year, family literacy and adolescent literacy sites across Brooklyn, weekly public urban tours that address New York City’s past, present and future, public awareness events like the annual Green Brooklyn conference and thematic integration at three Brooklyn high schools: the Academy for Environmental Leadership, the Academy of Urban Planning and The Green School.

Happy Shopping! and feel even better that you're contributing to an organization devoted to educating the next generation of eco-warriors.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Reading Green

Simon & Schuster have announced their commitment to use more environmentally friendly paper, a move which will, according to its calculations, save 483,000 trees every year.
Following in the footsteps of Random House, which became the first major publisher to establish a green publishing policy when it announced in May it would significantly up its use of recycled paper, S&S plans to increase the level of recycled fiber in its paper from 10% to 25% by 2012. S&S, which worked with the Green Press Initiative and other groups to come up with its policy, also announced a goal to buy 10% of its paper from forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. This, according to Green Press Initiative spokesman Tyson Miller, marks the first time a publisher is working with the FSC, an organization that ensures the fibers used in paper are not coming from endangered forests or from trees on land owned by indigenous tribes.

When asked when he thought the other big houses might follow suit, Miller said "a very large multinational publisher” will be going public with a paper policy before the end of the year and that three other houses will be making similar announcements in 2008.

Shocking that book publishers wouldn’t have been the first ones to step up. It’s a good start anyway. Don’t forget, buying second-hand or borrowing from the library (a neat little invention of Ben Franklin) is even better than buying brand new books!

POW! (you know the rest of it).

Source: Publishers Weekly

November 23rd - BUY NOTHING DAY

This November, environmentalists, social activists and concerned citizens in as many as 65 countries will hit the streets for a 24-hour consumer fast in celebration of the 15th annual Buy Nothing Day, a global cultural phenomenon that originated in Vancouver, Canada.

Check out their website for more information about the event:

This post was sent to the BGT by :
Aleksandra Kordecka
Campaigner - Chemicals and Nanotechnology
Friends of the Earth Europe

If you want to share your thoughts with the BGT send us an email at

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Gobble Gobble

99% of all turkeys raised in the U.S. are Broad-Breasted Whites, a single turkey breed specially developed to have a meaty breast. Gross.

Traditionally, farmers throughout the world have raised thousands of different animal breeds and plant varieties. However, since today's industrial farms rely upon only a few specialized types of livestock and crops, thousands of non-commercial animal breeds and crop varieties have disappeared, along with the valuable genetic diversity they possessed. Fortunately, a growing number of sustainable farmers are preserving agricultural variety and protecting biodiversity by raising “heritage” or “heirloom” animal breeds and crops. Heritage breeds are traditional livestock breeds that were raised by farmers in the past, before the drastic reduction of breed variety caused by the rise of industrial agriculture. This Thanksgiving, pay some respect to America’s First People, whom we shared the table with, by buying a natural pure and well-raised turkey who got to cluck around in the sunlight walking on the soft cool grass for your meal. Visit the to find a farm, market or restaurant near you that sells meat, eggs and dairy products from heritage animals. Also, Stinky on Smith Street has heritage turkeys to order for the big occasion.

Source: Consumer Reports

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

NYC Recycling - Going Where You Are

After the results of an initial test run of pubic space recycling have been reviewed by the Mayor and the City Council, the program may be expanded, subject to budget considerations, at sites that are likely to be successful based upon the feedback from the pilot study. Some sites include ferry terminals, Union Square and Columbus Park. In the meantime, the Department of Sanitation may test out a number of additional locations citywide to further study the operational challenges to expansion. In total, over 31,400 pounds of material was collected from the paper recycling bins over the 12 week pilot, 4.8% of which was improper materials and 95.2% was recyclable paper. Almost 18,700 pounds of material from was collected from the bottle and can recycling bins over the 12-week pilot, 37.5% of which consisted of improper materials and 62.5% was recyclable. Participation was, on average, good for paper recycling, and the material placed in the paper bins was relatively free of non-recyclable trash (contamination). Let's hope to see more of this.

Source: website

Monday, November 5, 2007

Organic and You: A Win-Win

Some organic foods, including fruit, vegetables and milk, may be more nutritious than non-organic produce, according to an investigation by British scientists.

Early results from a £12m study done by the European Union funded Quality Low Input Food project (which basically means using less fertilizers and chemicals) showed that organic fruit and vegetables contained up to 40% more antioxidants than non-organic varieties, according to Professor Carlo Leifert at Newcastle University.

Larger differences were found in milk, with organic varieties containing more than 60% more antioxidants and healthy fatty acids, he said. Antioxidant-rich food is often promoted as healthier because in lab tests the compounds neutralise free radicals that are thought to contribute to ageing. The findings contradict advice from the Food Standards Agency, which maintains there is no scientific evidence to suggest organic food is healthier.

During the four-year project, Prof Leifert's team, based at the university's Tesco centre for organic agriculture, reared cattle and grew fruit and vegetables on adjacent organic and non-organic sites across Europe, including a 725-acre farm attached to the university. The full results will be released in full over the next 12 months.

What a surprise.

Source: The Guardian

Friday, November 2, 2007

Let's Hear it for the Mayor(s)

110 mayors are attending a two-day summit in Seattle specifically addressing climate change organized by the United States Conference of Mayors. "Our federal government has ignored the problem," Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels said. Seattle says it has exceeded Kyoto goals itself, cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 8% below 1990 levels.

Most of the 110 Democratic and Republican mayors seem to have decided the need to act on global warming is urgent - or at least the need to show their voters they are taking an interest, our reporter adds. Kyoto "was the first time the community of nations came together to solve a common problem that didn't involve war and so the fact that the United States didn't join in... was a huge disappointment", Mr Nickels said at the start of the summit. “But that doesn't give us an excuse for taking no action."

Former US President Bill Clinton is due to address the conference with his ideas on how the US can lead on the issue. It is thought he will announce his Clinton Foundation is to become more involved with climate change research.

Source: BBC

Thursday, November 1, 2007

"It's All Inside (and energy efficient)"

Four JCPenney stores are the 1st retail buildings in the US to earn the Energy Star label for superior energy efficiency and environmental performance. Compared to similar stores nationwide, the JCPenney stores collectively spend almost a quarter of $1 million less per year on energy, and avoid over 3 million pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year. Of the almost 5 million commercial buildings in the US, retail buildings account for the largest energy bills and are responsible for the second largest percentage of greenhouse gas emissions. Energy Star is a voluntary, market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. Last year, Americans, with the help of Energy Star, saved about $14 billion on their energy bills while reducing the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of 25 million vehicles.

Let's hope others will join the challenge!

For more info,