Category Archives: Environmental Improvements

Organic Toilet Paper vs. non-Organic Toilet Paper and Recycled Toilet Paper

Not only foods are organic but also e.g. clothes, paper, toilet paper and much more. What is the difference between organic and non-organic toilet paper, and recycled paper? And why should you buy organic and recycled?

Organic toilet paper is produced by organic farmers. Recycled paper is many times made of recycled paper to save trees and made of other recycled materials. The organic paper is grown on organic soil and recycled paper made from recycled materials and paper. It is biodegradable which means it does not harm to the environment. It also protects your health as it does not contain chemical pesticides, chlorine, fertilizers or bleach. Using organic and recycled toilet paper is an optimal choise to keep good skin health and intimate hygiene, and improves total health for sensitive persons. But the best reason to switch to organic toilet paper is that you do not damage the environment and help to make the world a cleaner place. This also increases the demand and pushes manufacturers to produce environmental friendly paper.

Critics says that using organic paper does not solve the problem of disposal.

You may find organic paper a little bit more expensive than the classical bleached paper, but to our experiences you use less sheets becuase the texture is different. The recycled option is also cheaper than the organically produced paper. The color of the paper differs as you can see below.

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On the left: Recycled paper

On the right: Classical bleached paper

 

What is Geothermal Energy?

Geothermal Energy is generated and stored in the earth, under the soil. It is earth heat converted to energy. This kind of energy has been used since ancient Roman times from hot springs, and as other environmental friendly energy sources it is nothing new, but just modernized. Geothermal power is cost effective, reliable, sustainable and environmentally friendly. This alternative suits well for all types of energy consuming areas as industry, greenhouses and homes.

Geothermal sources under the soil releases greenhouse gases, but the emissions are much lower that fossil fuels and is a good alternative to replace usage of fossil fuels. This energy alternative can easily cover all of the humanitys needs. It is an energy source that will grow significantly the coming years as the investment costs has reduced and people has showed interest to pay more for renewable energy.

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Two sources for geothermal energy are magma and hot water springs

Thermal energy plants was before built only where high temperatures were to be found close to the surface, but thanks to developed technology as e.g. better drilling equipment, the areas are today wide spread. Thermal energy today is converted from hot waters to magma. Almost anywhere the temprature three meters under the soil is between 10-16 °C (50-60 °F) and this is enough to install a heat pump.

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Nesjavellir Geothermical Power Station in Iceland

All about Natural Pools

A natural swimming pool or pond is a pure ecological system where the water is protected from chemicals and  plants are used in the enviromnent to balance the ecological system. The purifying of the water is made by biological filters or natural plants. It is called natural pool because the system has biological equivalents in the natural world. Natural pools are called  NSP (Natural Swimming Pool or Natural Swimming Pond).

The natural pool is divided into two areas:

  • The swimming zone is the area intended for swimming that resembles a conventional swimming pool or pond.
  • The regeneration zone consists of a lined overflow pool filled with specific filtration substrate and flora. Plants used for water regeneration can be supplemented with decorative flowering species to create an attractive water garden environment. The biological processes that clean the water take place in this zone.

Wikipedia

pool-filtration-diagram

Pool Filtration System

Skimmer and pumps makes the water circulate through the regeneration area and then the water returns to the swimming area. Natural plants filters contaminants and nutrients in the water prevents algae. Natural rocks works like biological filters thanks to attaching environmental friendly bacteria.

The water in a natural pool is “living” and does not need to be connected to a sewer and costs of energy and mechanical operation is reduced. A natural pool welcomes also living creatures like frogs, snails and other naturally living creatures in an ecological system. It is a good sign of having a pure natural system. In a natural pool you do not have issues with itching skin, red eyes, allergies or damaged bathing suits that chlorine filled waters causes. You can also connect your pool with heat pumps or solar energy to heat up the water and cover the electrical usage of pumps, lamps ecc.

When planning a natural swimming pool please consider following:

– Minimum depth of 2 m

– For correct purification the regeneration- and swimming zone areas must be equal

– Swimming zone be physically separated from the regeneration

– There are no fixed standards for a pool, each structure has to be adapted to local circumstances and climate

– You can swim immediately, but it takes 2-3 years to reach full biological equilibrium

Even if a natural pool needs much less maintenance than a classical chemical pool, a seasonal care is still needed:

° Spring: Plants must be pruned and cut to avoid over growth, like in a normal garden. Minimize foreign contaminants from all areas.

° Summer: Hot days the water may evaporate and the pool may need extra water to protect the system

° Autumn: Remove dead leafs and prevent algae growth

° Winter: Avoid to extend the freezing process of the pool during the winter as it can damage to pool. The pool is already calculated to manage local temperatures.

Examples of Natural Swimming Pools:

biotope pool austria

Austria: www.biotop-natural-pool.com

swimming teich

www.living-pool.eu

Inspiration for text: Wikipedia, Inspirationgreen.com, biotop-natural-pool.com
Photo: Wikipedia, Inspirationgreen.com

What is Permaculture?

Permaculture is a concept of ecological engineering and design and environmental designs, modeled from natural ecosystems to develop sustainable architecture and self-mantaining agricultural systems. The core for Permaculture is:

  • Care for the earth: Secure for all life systems to continue and multiply. This is the first principle, because without a healthy earth, humans cannot flourish
  • Care for the people: Secure for people to access those resources necessary for their existence
  • Return of surplus: Reinvesting surpluses back into the system to provide for the first two ethics. This includes returning waste back into the system to recycle into usefulness

The basic for Permaculture is to find synergy from the final design to harmonize and have full benefit for the community by combining landscape, spices and function. It is not about separating parts, it is about combining parts to its maximum efficiency so the whole part has a greater function, than the parts separated. The concept teaches us to build natural homes, grow organic foods, collect rain water, take care of waste and make lowest inpact on the environment. It is about working with the nature, integrate with the nature and construct ecosystems. It is also about leaving the nature in its own evolution. Permaculture is not a fixed principle and changes depending on location, climatic conditions and available resources to become a responsable consumer and build a holistic approach.

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Text inspiration from: wikipedia, Permaculture Institute, Permacultureprincples
Photo: sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net
diversity, stability, and the resilience of natural ecosystems – See more at: http://www.permaculture.org/nm/index.php/site/permaculture_design_course#sthash.5zk51FYX.dpufconstuct
Permaculture teaches us how build natural homes, grow our own food, restore diminished landscapes and ecosystems, catch rainwater, build communities, take care of waste and much more. – See more at: http://www.permaculture.org/nm/index.php/site/permaculture_design_course#sthash.5zk51FYX.dpuf
Permaculture teaches us how build natural homes, grow our own food, restore diminished landscapes and ecosystems, catch rainwater, build communities, take care of waste and much more. – See more at: http://www.permaculture.org/nm/index.php/site/permaculture_design_course#sthash.5zk51FYX.dpuf

An Orange tree can become a Lemon tree

You can recycle trees where where limbs are tired, but the trunk is still in good condition.

A lemon tree can become an orange tree or even a mandarin tree. As long it belongs to the category citrus. Looking for a new tree, let e.g. the citrus tree grow until next year without cutting it. When ripe, cut the tops and plant them in the trunk of a severed citrus tree. Attach the limbs as the picture below and let be.

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C2If a trunk looks like this, the tree has been reworked. Four limbs is recommended.

C3In this strain, the process has been done recently. Some argue that the quality deteriorates, but it’s not correct. Interested parties who buys these lemons are very selective.

C4This lemon tree has been allowed to re-grow as a lemon tree. But if you want a change, it works as well.

Indoor Air Improvement Plants

Having plants indoors is an excellent solution to increase the indoor air quality. Plants are the lungs in the environment. Research shows that indoor plants:

  • Help improve indoor air quality
  • Help reduce sick building syndrome
  • Help improve well being
  • Help improve productivity and performance
  • Help to lower stress and negative feelings
  • Help to reduce noise
  • Improve business image with potential clients
  • Contribute to fulfilling at least 75% of Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) Criteria

(Source: www.ambiusindoorplants.com.au)

This choice is very important especially in urban areas as studies shows that we spend 85% of our time indoors and the air is more polluted. Many do not know that indoor air is many times more polluted than outdoor air. Indoor plants also helps reduce stress and background noise in stressful environments.

Indoor Plants Contribute To At Least 75% Of Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) Criteria: (source: www.ambiusindoorplants.com.au)

IEQ criterion Indoor Plants
Air pollution mitigation Reduce all types of urban air pollution
Low Emitting Materials Absorb toxic emissions – VOCs etc
Ventilation effectiveness Increase effectiveness – remove CO2/add O2
Lighting OK for Plants – OK for staff also
Noise Absorb & buffer noise
Views Add aesthetics & calming greenery; lower stress
Thermal comfort Not directly influenced but tend to stabilise humidity in human comfort zone, so could have unquantified effects here
Systems controllability Not directly influenced but stabilisation of temperature and humidity could lower air-con. energy consumption

Recommended Plants to Purify Indoor Air:

orcOrchids “Dendrobium” and Phaeleonopsis”

Neglect them for easy care, avoid too much water and sunlight.

Releases oxygen during night therefore great to have in the bedroom.

p

Pothos

Survives in less light and colder temperatures

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Ferns

Soft plant, easy care, avoid direct sunlight

pl

Peace Lilies

Keep in shade and cool temperature

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Anthuriums

Exotic look, effective air cleaner, easy care

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Philodendrons

Easy care, attractive because of its unique colors

palm

Palms

Easy care, perfect for smokers home

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Schefflera

Long-lasting, keep the leafs dustfree, perfect for smokers homes

 

Source plant photoes: Wikipedia, plantoftheweek.com

What does Off Grid Living mean?

Off grid living is a choice for more people. Some says it is for the crises, but mostly it is actually being tired of this modern life style with bills and stress that comes with it. But the most important reasons are that more people are looking to reduce their footprints in the environment, assert their independence from the existing system and avoid reliance on fossil fuels. How does this lifestyle work?

House going of the grid: water, electricity, phone line ecc are normally connected to a municipal or national system. Some houses decides to provide themselves with own electricity with renewable solutions (solar, air, heat pump) and in water rich areas also dig their own water supply, where also renewable sources supply water heating.  Some even build their own sewage system. In some countries you can also become tax free by building your house on wheels. To reduce construction costs some make their own construction materails from recycable materials or use local materials.

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Two types of Off Grid homes

(Photo: 1st: treehugger.com, 2nd: pg.webring.com)

Foods: many people also produce their own foods having a farm with food produce and animals. Some also rent a part of their land for others who likes to produce their foods but do not have land, and pays rent with foods to the land owner. By collecting rain water in sustainable water basins brings enough water to the crops all year around. Some adjust their lives to eat by seasons and/or eat only what the geographical area gives.

Recycling: many houses has their own compost system. Some houses recycle waste and brings them or sells them to ecological systems. There are people making themselves a living only by collecting waste and selling them to recycling centers.

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Home water collector and home made green house

(Photo 1st: unknown, 2nd: blog.ellams.com)

For some off grid living means to be with out recidence and travels as tourists. Some countries asks only to exit the country for some days to get at new permission to stay in the country for a longer time.

In all ways Off Grid Living means to be autonomous or self -sufficient…more or less…

Energy Efficient Building

Energy efficient building solutions is a fast growing sector and new technology comes up every day. The standards varies from different areas, e.g. the german building standard can not be used to south italian building standards, because in Germany the standard has to fight cold temperatures, while in south Italy the standard has to fight warm temperatures. There are different solutions that may confuse the buyer, but all can be used in any region and here we shortly explain four of them:

Low Energy House is a building standard where design, material and technology is used to lower energy consumption and uses less energy from one or several sources. The standard varies but in Europe it refers to a house that uses half of the German or Swiss low-energy standards referred to below for space heating, normally in the range from 30 kWh/m²a to 20 kWh/m²a = 9,500 Btu/ft²/yr to 6,300 Btu/ft²/yr. Low-energy buildings typically use high levels of insulation, energy efficient windows, low levels of air infiltration and heat recovery ventilation to lower heating and cooling energy.

deepstone_house_w031209_6Example of a Low Energy House (Photo: e-architect.co.uk)

Passive House is a standard for energy efficient building, reducing ecological impact. It results in very low energy builiding  that require little energy for space heating or cooling. This standard is not limited to only residental building, it is also well adapted in construction of  public buildings, business facilities, schools, supermarkets to name few. The passive house standard is well developed in German speaking countries and Scandinavia. The Passive House standard is actually developed by a swedish and german collaboration.

The Passivhouse standard for central Europe requires that the building fulfills the following requirements:

  • The building must be designed to have an annual heating demand as calculated with the Passivhaus Planning Package of not more than 15 kwh/m² per year = 4746 btu/ft² per year, in heating and 15 kwh/m² per year cooling energy OR to be designed with a peak heat load of 10W/m²
  • Total energy source for electricity and etc., primary energy for heating, hot water and electricity must not be more than 120 kWh/m² per year = 3.79 × 104 btu/ft² per year.
  • The building must not leak more air than 0.6 times the house volume per hour = n50 ≤ 0.6 / hour at 50 Pa (N/m²) as tested

300px-Passivhaus_Darmstadt_Kranichstein_Fruehling_2006

A building based on the passive house concept in Darmstadt, Germany (photo: Wikipedia)

Zero Energy House is just what the name inteds, a building with zero net energy consumption and zero carbon emissions. Depending of country and technology the house use the electrical grid for energy storage but some are independent of grid. This standard offers several options for producing and conserving energy and many ways of measuring energy.

prj_adams_support6

Example of Zero Energy House (Photo: zokazola.com – Stefan Behling)

Energy Plus House is the latest in energy efficient building (2013-09-28) and is a house that produces more energy from renewable energy sources than it consumes over an year. The house is a combination of microgeneration technology and low energy building technologies. This standard can be adapted to any kinds of construction as homes, offices, schools to name few…

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Prototype of Zero Energy structure in Germany (photo: Wikipedia)

 

Numbers and some definition sources: Wikipedia

What is Biodiesel? And why use it.

Biodiesel is considered as an environmental friendly fuel. Biodiesel is made of vegetable oil, waste cooking oil/restaurant greeze, animal oils and fats and tallow. Best sources are rapeseed, soybean and palm oil, but most biodiesel is produced from waste vegetable oils. The agricultural produced oil is under development because the process is still expensive.

The benefits of biodiesel is that it does not release any carbon dioxide, it is biodegradable, clean-burning and non-toxic. Biodiesel has better lubricating properties and much higher cetane ratings (measurment of quality), than classical diesel.

Biodiesel is mostly used in standard diesel engines and is thus distinct from the vegetable and waste oils used to fuel converted diesel engines. Biodiesel can be used alone or blended with petrodiesel. Can be used by vechicles, trains, aircraft, heating oil, clean oil spills and in generators. Biodiesel is a great solution to reduce petroleum dependence and improve the environment.

The technology is not new as transesterification of a vegetable oil was conducted as early as 1853 by Patrick Duffy.

White_Hilum_Soybeans images1
Sources to Biodiesel: soybeans and rapeseed

Environmental Improvements

This sicilian organic fruit producer tries to reduce plastics in the market and packs the grapes from start in recycable paper bags. When the fruit is mature they just cut the stem, pack it in boxes and send them to the customer like this.
The fruit gets also a much better quality growing like this.

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