Will unplugging things really save money? According to National Grid it will!

November 3, 2009

National Electric has a new campaign asking everyone to try and cut down their electrical usage by 3%. This seems like a wise challenge for everyone being that we are still in the middle of an economic crisis!  Every other commercial advertisement on T.V. is in relation to this new campaign, so I wanted to see what the hype was about.  Their goal is to inform people of efficiency and conservation through energy usage.   For some of us this task may be easy, for some it’s a slight change of lifestyle and for me it’s nearly impossible, I don’t know what else I could cut down on!  I am the kind of person who yells at you if all the lights are on, or if you use the dryer to “get the wrinkles out” of one lonely shirt.    Should have taken it out and hung it up to begin with! You would have saved time and money.   I am told I skipped acting like my mother and turned into my grandmother a little too quickly.  The National Grid website gives people many suggestions to lowering their electricity usage.

I have to say this idiosyncrasy that I have developed over the last few years was really the polar opposite of how I viewed electricity usage and recycling habits in the past.  I was still living at home; never saw that white envelope with the blue letters that read National Grid.  I wasn’t responsible for the environment or the cost of living because I was still letting mom and dad cover the cost.  After moving out a few years ago, having a job that paid zilch and realizing how much everything cost and making it my sole responsibility to take care of myself financially, I learned some really easy and simple ways to save money for a rainy day.  I unplugged almost EVERYTHING.  The reason I say almost everything opposed to absolutely everything is because, well you can’t.  My fridge stays plugged in as well as the oven.  I learned very quickly unplugging your cell phone charger isn’t an option, it will go dead and you will miss your alarm going off which will result in being late for the job that pays you zilch.  Plugging the phone into the charger does not work the same if you forgot to plug it into the wall.

Even though I think it’s impossible I am taking the challenge.  National Grid has an energy evaluation available on their website and as you click the appropriate answers that reflect your style of living it allows you to see how much money and electricity you could be saving by lowering your energy usage.  I am personally starting by putting in motion censored lights outside, because this is one light I leave on regularly.  I encourage all of you to take the challenge as well.  See what impact you can make on the earth and on your wallet.  It takes some getting used to but eating dinner by candlelight is more romantic and more cost-effective than keeping that 8 bulb chandelier on!

Posted by Kate Kiselka

Tips to Avoid CE Greenwashing

September 2, 2009

CE Pro magazine, a publication specializing in (you guessed it) consumer electronics and the custom installation professionals that sell, install and service them, recently published the “7 Deadly Sins of Greenwashing”. As “green” has become THE buzz word in recent years, more and more companies are (knowingly or innocently) participating in greenwashing practices: “making false of dubious claims about whether a product of service is green, or how green it is.”

CE journalism vet Steve Castle provides some great “Don’t!” tips for companies looking to manufacture or tout their environmentally-friendly (or not) products and services.

  • Hidden trade-offs: Don’t focus on one thing, like energy efficiency, and disregard another, like a product’s toxicity.
    Every little bit helps, but to claim true “green”, we are talking more than just the color!
  • No proof: You should have a third-party review of your claims.
    You’ve watched Law & Order, right? No proof = no case.
  • False claims: Don’t lie.
    Remember, everything we (should) know, we learned in kindergarten.
  • Vagueness: Don’t stretch the truth with claims like “all natural” that includes naturally occurring mercury, for example.
    PR professionals, take heed. Oh wait, that’s us! Note taken.
  • Lesser of Two Evils: Don’t say, “Sure it’s toxic, but it’s also energy efficient!”
    HA! Yes, that is a joke and dangerous for company.
  • Irrelevance: Don’t take something good, like LED lighting, and make its ecological virtues irrelevant by overusing.
  • Label Worship: Anschel cites the NAHB’s “Green Approved” product label as one that is available to many products and does not indicate a green certification.
    There are a number of resources and certification programs… The bottom line is be smart and stay true to the underlying goal – to create products and services that are more environmentally friendly to protect the Earth’s resources and natural state.

Great tips to follow to ensure you and your company are not inappropriately capitalizing on this tempting trend. The penance for these sins could be severe.

Posted by: Katie | follow @katieshort on Twitter

McDonald’s to Show Greener Side

August 18, 2009

In an effort to test various energy saving and waste-reducing methods, McDonald’s is evaluating 10 prototype “green” restaurant locations.

The restaurant is treating the 10 locations as “learning laboratories,” said McDonald’s Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility Bob Langert, in a Q&A with DailyFinance.

One of the green prototype stores, in the Chicago area, uses 25 percent less energy than similar locations.

Energy savings and waste reduction are central to McDonald’s corporate social responsibility strategy, Langert said. Globally, the restaurant consumes $1.7 billion annually in energy and it spends another $1.3 billion handling its waste. McDonald’s has more than 31,000 locations worldwide.

Reducing waste most often comes down to redesigning, trimming and using new materials for existing packaging, he said, with solutions that can be organically composted getting the most traction. “Turning waste into something that can be useful is our vision,” Langert told DailyFinance.

So far, finding a type of biodegradable packaging made from corn or other non-tree resources has proved fruitless, Langert said. Most such options have had problems with warping or not keeping the food warm, he said.

In other news, a McDonald’s location in Cary, N.C., which was built with an eye toward sustainability and energy efficiency, is offering drivers of electric cars use of a charging station on site.

In May, McDonald’s began an effort to show consumers its “greener” side with a new institutional marketing effort, “Global Best of Green.”

via Environmental Leader

What USDA Organic Really Means

March 4, 2009

The organic movement has grown to an almost $20 billion industry in the United States, due in no small part to the federal regulation label “USDA Organic” and its appearance on thousands of products nationwide.  As the desire to eat healthier and protect the Earth grows, so does the willingness of consumers to fork over up to 50% more for some foods simply because they carry the organic label.  From a marketing perspective, who wouldn’t want their food to bear this stamp? 

So how does a company go about getting certified?  It involves paying hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars to certifiers from the Department of Agriculture who then rely on many different sets of criteria to determine whether or not the product can bear the label USDA Organic.  It seems that when the system works, it works and the foods that are certified organic are actually organic.  Recently, however when a plant owned by Peanut Corporation of America was responsible for the samonella outbreak caused by contaminated peanuts and it was found to still have its USDA Organic certification despite the fact that it no longer had  a state health certificate, the system came into question.

A private certifier took nearly seven months to recommend that the U.S.D.A. revoke the organic certification of the peanut company’s Georgia plant, and then did so only after the company was in the thick of a massive food recall. So far, nearly 3,000 products have been recalled, including popular organic items from companies like Clif Bar and Cascadian Farm. Nine people have died and almost 700 have become ill.

Consumers equate organic with safe and unfortunately, this is not always the case.  More and more, Americans are seeking out foods that are grown locally, meats that come from humanely raised animals and are harvested by workers who are paid a fair wage.  The problem is, organic doesn’t mean any of that.  So while the label maybe be a step to ensuring that the foods we pick from our grocer’s shelves are a less harmful choice, it certainly doesn’t end there.

Emily Wyckoff, who lives in Buffalo, buys local food and cooks from scratch as much as possible. Although she still buys organic milk and organic peanut butter for her three children, the organic label means less to her these days – especially when it comes to processed food in packages like crackers and cookies.

“I want to care, but you have to draw the line,” she said.

Recently, a sign near the Peter Pan and Skippy at her local grocery store declared that those brands were safe from peanut contamination. There was no similar sign near her regular organic brand.

“I bought the national brand,” she said. “Isn’t that funny?”

via The New York Times

Posted by: Ashley / Follow me on Twitter