3 Inexpensive Ways to Go Green

Expense is one of the most common reasons that people avoid taking steps to be more green. In today’s economic climate, it’s understandable that you may not be eager to learn more about protecting the environment if you think it will cost you more money each month. Even if you do care about the environment, long-term effects can easily be put on the back burner in the face of immediate financial crisis.

Being environmentally responsible doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In fact, conserving and protecting natural resources can often save you money. Check out these tips for cheap ways to go green.

3 Cheap Ways to Go Green

1. Use less water in your home.

Unless you have your own well, you’re paying for every drop of water that you use, which is a great motivator for learning more about water conservation. Low flow faucets and toilets can help, but you can reduce the amount of water you use without a single trip to the hardware store. Turn off the water while you brush your teeth and when doing dishes. Take quick showers instead of long baths, and consider turning off the water while you soap up. Check out the EPA’s Water Sense site for more tips for conserving water at home.

2. Use a smaller garbage can.

The less you throw away, the less you add to the landfill. But perhaps a better reason for throwing away less is to reduce the resources need to make new stuff. If you’re finding ways to reuse items instead of throwing them away, you eliminate the need for replacement items to be made, which can cut down on the production of plastics. Make a family challenge to slowly cut down on how much garbage you set out by the curb each week; you’ll be amazed at the creative ideas you come up with for reusing what you already have!

3. Enact a shopping ban.

Another way to get the creative juices flowing and immediately improve your household budget is to announce an embargo on shopping. You’ll still need groceries, of course, but see how long your family can go without hitting up the local big box market. Consider setting a goal and rewarding yourself with a special activity if you can go 30, 60, or 90 days without shopping.

These three small changes won’t cost you a dime and can help you save money and resources for future generations.

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Why Are Stainless Steel Dishes Good for the Environment?

GreenBoatStuff.com sells a variety of products designed to make boating a greener hobby. As you would expect, there are green painting supplies, wind and solar power equipment, and environmentally-friendly cleaning products for sale. But you’ll also find a several other categories of items, including stainless steel dishes for sale in the “green galley gear” section.

What do stainless steel dishes have to do with the environment?

Whether used in a house, on a boat, or in a tent during a weekend camping trip, every man-made product you touch came from somewhere and something. This includes the plates, bowls, and cups you use.

Stainless steel, unlike plastic that is often used for “travel” dishes, is not made from an oil byproduct. It’s also easy to extremely durable, reducing the need for it to be replaced in the immediate future. When a stainless steel product does need to be replaced, the original product can easily be melted down and reused again.

When it comes to dishes, consumers should also keep in mind that these household products come in direct contact with food that will be ingested into the body. Although we can’t see it, trace amounts of chemicals from plastic and other materials are believed to seep into food and water contained by the dish. In other words, you’re eating tiny petroleum particles. Ew!

Another reason to choose stainless steel dishes: no harsh chemicals required for cleaning! Stainless steel can be cleaned, disinfected, and shined up with little more than baking soda, vinegar, or olive oil.

The next time you’re making a new purchase, considering choosing stainless steel if you’re trying to be green.

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Teaching Kids Green Boating

If the environment is important to you, chances are you’ve already thought about what state it will be in for the next generation. But have you also considered how the next generation will care for it? Conservation and respect for plants and wildlife are values that need to be passed on to children if our own efforts are going to have a long-term impact. Here are a few ways to teach kids about green boating and environmental consciousness.

Tips for Teaching Kids about Green Boating

1. Talk trash. When your family hits the water, make sure everyone knows about your no-littering policy. But don’t stop there; take the time to talk about why keeping your trash out of the water is important. Many people have the misconception that only items that won’t naturally decompose need to be disposed of properly, but when you’re on the water it’s just as important that you don’t leave behind biodegradable materials that don’t belong in that ecosystem.

2. Get to know your neighbors. Take a field guide and binoculars out with you for the day and challenge your kids to identify different species of animals and plants both in the water and around it. A child who is more aware of the life that lives in the water is more likely to take steps to protect it.

3. Visit a new watering hole. An important part of green boating is preventing the spread of invasive species from one waterway to another. Take the boat out to different spots and get the kids involved in helping you with preparations, including giving the hull a good scrubbing! In addition to learning firsthand about how to prevent relocating species from one environment to another, seeing a variety of ecosystems and waterways helps children understand the concept of environmental diversity.

Want more information about sharing the Great Outdoors with kids? Check out one of our favorite Facebook pages, Babes in the Woods.

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U.S. Air Force Bringing Solar Power to 2,000 Homes

As individuals work to green up their own lives, it’s encouraging to know that the United States government is taking steps to do the same – albeit at a slower rate than most households. The Department of Defense is aiming to have 25 percent of its energy needs met by renewable energy sources by the year 2025. Although that’s more than a decade into the future, progress is being made in the present.

The U.S. Navy has been working on biofuel solutions for its various boats, and the U.S. Air Force recently announced plans to add solar power to Hickam Communities at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. The Hawaiian community operated by Lend Lease will have solar panels installed by SolarCity on 600 rooftops. The electricity generated by those panels is expected to provide enough for energy for as many as 2,000 homes on the base. The installation is expected to take about two years and will result in one of the largest solar powered communities in the U.S. The project will also generate 55 new green jobs in the area, although these jobs are considered short-term.

Are you ready to bring solar power to your home or boat?

Portable solar power systems allow the average person to make the switch to solar power on small mobile homes and vessels for a relatively small investment.

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Is the water safe for boating?

Earlier this week, officials in Oregon announced that the presence of a toxic blue-green algae in the waters of the Willow Creek Reservoir, a popular spot in Eastern Oregon for fishing and water sports. Although some alerts say boating is safe, the water is considered unsafe to drink, touch, or breathe. Boating and fishing, officials say, can be done “with caution”, meaning not to boat quickly enough to cause water spray or eat the parts of the fish that may have stored the toxic algae. For Oregon boaters the solution seems clear: Find another place to boat this summer. But are boaters generally aware of the safety of the waters in which they play?

Blue-green algae is not a rare occurrence, nor is it limited to Oregon or the Pacific Northwest. It’s been reported as far south and east as Florida in the United States and is seen commonly in other countries. In addition to blue-green algae, toxic red tides can arise from algal blooms. Waters can also be impacted by agriculture runoff and industrial pollution. There are a variety of factors that can make your favorite waterway suddenly unsafe.

How can you tell if the water is safe for boating?

It’s nice to think that water that looks clean is clean, and it’s true that many changes to the water can be easily seen. A red tide, for example, that typically occurs along coastal waterways will be easy to spot; the water literally turns red in areas. Extreme pollution may also affect the clarity of the water, a change a frequent visitor to a lake or stream may be able recognize with the naked eye. However, it’s not a good idea to rely on your vision when determining the safety of the water.

In the United States, government agencies are charged with monitoring the safety of most waterways. If a change occurs, they may post warnings to web sites, alert the media, or erect signs on-site. Become familiar with the water quality standards in your area, as well as the agencies responsibility for their regulating and enforcing them.

When it comes to boating safety, it’s not just what happens on the boat that counts. Before putting your boat in the water this summer, make sure you get familiar with the water condition in your area. Do your part to keep the local surface water safe by practicing green boating.

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3 Green Boat Stuff Every Boater Needs

When you think about green boating, there’s a good chance you think about alternate energy sources and preventing fuel spills in the water. That’s great! But there are many other little ways you can be gentle to the environment when boating.

Whether you have a sailboat, a speed boat, or a fishing boat with a small outboard motor, every green boater should be using these three products!

3 Green Boating Products Every Boater Needs

1. Biodegradable garbage bags. You need to have garbage bags on deck so that you can take your waste back to land with you and not leave it behind in the water. Compostable and biodegradable trash bags help you leave one less thing behind in the landfill as well.

2. Re-usable water bottles. Experienced boaters know you need to bring plenty of hydration out on the water with you, but buying a case of water results in unnecessary expense and plastic bottles that need to be recycled or thrown away. Buy one re-usable water bottle for everyone in your family and fill up before you leave. You can bring a large jug of water for refills.

3. Environmentally-friendly sunscreen. There’s a lot of debate among experts about which sunscreens are best and how much damage is being done to waterways by sunscreens. It can be confusing to know what’s safest for your family and the environment. Don’t take any chances and stock up on chemical free sunscreens that have been proven to be effective.

Do you have all the basics on board for green boating?

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5 Summer Boating Safety Tips

It’s officially warm enough that boaters all over the country can start enjoying time on the water again. That means making memories and having fun, but it also means it’s a good time to remember how to keep everyone safe on the water. Whether you’re spending an entire day on the boat or just going for a short ride, make sure you and everyone on the boat are practicing these summer boating safety guidelines.

Summer Boating Safety Tips

1. Make sure all children wear life jackets whenever they’re on the boat or near the water. Kids are fast and they can be overboard in the blink of an eye. Don’t count on being able to keep kids safe by “keeping an eye on them” at all times.

2. Make sure there is a life jacket on board for every adult. Never take on more riders than you have personal floatation devices to accommodate. At the beginning of the season, make sure each adult has a life jacket that fits properly. Replace any that no longer fit.

3. Don’t drink and drive a boat. For the same reasons you don’t get behind the wheel of a car after drinking alcohol, you should never operate a boat when you’ve been drinking.

4. Check your safety equipment regularly. Fire extinguishers, safety lines, anchors and other safety equipment should all be checked to make sure they’re in proper working condition.

5. Take a boating safety course. Consider taking a safety course and having other adults and older children in the family taking a course. This is the best way to learn how to avoid collisions with other boats, handle sudden changes in weather, and deal with any unexpected emergencies that could occur on the water. Your state DNR likely provides courses or will be able to direct you to an accredited organization that does.

Taking the time to be safe on the water ensures that everyone will be able to enjoy the summer and many summers to come. And of course, remember to practice green boating all year long, too!

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Ethanol Subsidies Disappearing, Time to Think about Green Boat Fuel

The United States Senate recently voted to end annual ethanol subsidies, based primarily it seems on the notion that ethanol isn’t the miracle fuel source once believed. It turns out using the corn-based ethanol as a fuel source may be almost as bad for the environment as using regular gas, even if corn can be grown, unlike the non-renewable crude oil needed to produce other types of fuel. Corn may be “renewable”, but producing ethanol has been shown to be a drain on water and energy resources and has been cited as a potential cause of food shortages.

Where does that leave boaters looking for better fuel options for their boats?

Well, you can always swap the motor boat for a sail boat or canoe and paddle. Fortunately, those aren’t your only options. Bio-diesel fuels can be used in any diesel engine with little to no modifications necessary, although your regular maintenance schedule may need to be adjusted. Electric motors are also available on today’s market and can often be powered with solar or wind energy for a completely green power source.

The problem for many boaters, of course, is that making the change to alternative power and fuel sources can be expensive. If you already have a boat that runs on ethanol or unleaded fuel, using bio-diesel isn’t an option. What can you do?

Consider saving up so that your next boat can run on green power. In the meantime, look for ways to be green in the galley, reduce your fuel consumption, and prevent fuel spills.

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Arizona Wildfire Caused by People – How to Prevent Another One

A fire has been burning in Arizona’s Bear Wallow Wilderness area since May 29th, and has officially been declared the largest wildfire in the state’s history. As of Wednesday, the fire was still burning, marking more than two weeks of ongoing destruction in the area. Recently, officials revealed that the record-breaking fire was caused by humans.

Although the investigation is still ongoing, investigators have said that the fire was human-caused and may have been started by an abandoned campfire in the forest. In other words, another blow to the environment and natural wildlife has been struck by people being careless with natural resources.

It’s sad to realize that this tragedy could have been prevented. However, it’s a good time to stop and remember what we can do to prevent a similar event from happening in our own areas.

How to Prevent Forest Fires

Don’t smoke. If you do smoke in a forest, don’t throw your butts on the ground. Extinguish them completely and take the butts with you out of the forest.

Extinguish your campfire completely. Before retiring for the night or leaving your site, pour water on the campfire to make sure it is no longer burning.

Build safe fires. Stick to designated fire pits when possible. If making your own pit is allowed, build your fire at least 15 feet away from tents, shrubs and trees.

Leave the candles at home. Battery powered flashlights and lanterns are a safer alternative to fire-fueled light sources.

Never leave a fire unattended. Whether you’re grilling over a campfire or burning debris in your own backyard, consistently monitor your fire. Even properly built fires can cause problems if left unattended and it doesn’t take long for a fire to spread.

While you’re not likely to start a forest fire on your boat, we all know it’s just as important to protect our resources on land as well as in the water! Be watchful and safe this summer.

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Good News: Going Green is Good Business

It seems like there hasn’t been much good economic news to discuss in recent years, but some businesses are finding ways to survive. In fact, some industries are thriving by adapting to the changing social and economic climate. The good news for the environment is that some companies are finally proving that going green can also be good for business.

California-based research firm IBISWorld recently released a list of the top 10 fastest-growing industries. Tech industries dominated the list, but environmental sectors claimed three of the top spots.

10 Fastest Growing Industries

  1. Voice Over IPs
  2. Wind Power
  3. E-Commerce & Online Auctions
  4. Environmental Consulting
  5. Biotechnology
  6. Video Games
  7. Solar Power
  8. Third-Party Administrators & Insurance Claims Adjusters (ouch!)
  9. Correctional Facilities (double ouch!)
  10. Internet Publishing & Broadcasting

Looking at environmentalism in terms of businesses and industries is a reminder that it takes more than good intentions to make change. Voting with your dollars by choosing green products and services encourages corporations to increase supply. This applies not only to consumer products, but also to alternative energy sources. By choosing green options now, even when the initial costs are higher, we help create more options and better prices for the future.

Make an effort to support businesses that practice sustainability, practice conservation in your own home, and purchase green products whenever possible. Our efforts are making a difference!

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