Giving a Gift that Changes Lives

Microfinace is a growing trend allowing people with good hearts and limited finances to make a difference in the lives of the hardworking working poor.

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An Environmental Move for Change

The new mCube90G will eliminate the need for multiple chargers for electronics

The new mCube90G will eliminate the need for multiple chargers for electronics

An online grassroots movement is taking place, one intended to put electronics manufacturing giants on notice.

The idea, says Frank Paniagua, CEO of Green Plug, Inc., is to let manufacturers know consumers want more convenient and more eco-friendly products.

“I Want my Green Plug” asks the public to stand up for eliminating power supplies that only end up in landfills.

“I Want My Green Plug”  (, is a movement for change, said Paniagua. Consumers can go to the website and list all the electronic devices they use and the manufacturer. After submitting their green “wish list”, readers can click on links to Green Plug’s new universal adapter.


He hopes consumers votes will help create this change.

Every time we buy a new device, says Paniagua, we get a new plug.

“This is old technology,” he said. “Let’s fix it, make it efficient.”

For details on Green Plug’s new universal charger, see

Thoughts of the holidays

As it’s Christmas Eve and so many have already quietly fled their offices – to travel to be with family or to get some much needed quiet R&R, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect.

We face challenging and fascinating times ahead. A new President who’s been the defacto head of State for several weeks now. Serious encironmental concerns and issuess looming – coal plants, status of the wolves, some of our most trasured recreational areas threatened with  oil exploration, EPA regulations, rising food prices, the economy and its impact. The list goes on.

In the midst of all this, take a moment for gratitude. Regardless of circumstances and situation, there are a plethora of things for which we can be grateful. If you can’t think of any, imagine someone else looking at your life. What would they see that you don’t? Perhaps it’s the small, subtle aspects of life that call to be celebrated.

I’ll be back next week (briefly), then fully online after the New Year.

Find something to be joyous about. If you look, you’ll surely find it.

Merry Christmas!

Simple Conservation to Take Hold in Shopping Centers

A few months ago, I wrote an article about an exciting system that consumers can use to significantly save on water consumption


Now a major shopping center developer, Regency Centers has announced they will begin installing this “smart” irrigation system at selected locations.
The initial pilot for the installation of these irrigation controllers will cover 36 sites in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

Regency expects to save approximately 42 million gallons a year. These systems are designed to reduce runoff and cut consumption by using real-time weather information to remotely adjust watering cycles, frequency and amounts.


A number of city governments have already invested in this water conservation system, and have already realized solid financial benefits. With the proliferation of shopping centers and strip malls, this kind of investment seems a logical and sound fiscal practice other developers might emulate.


Renewable Energy from the Mississippi?

Back in October, I wrote several posts about an installation off the coast of Spain that would generate electricity from “wave” energy, a new technology being considered as a renewable energy source around the world.

Now this exciting technology is about to come to the upper Mississippi River.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved the licensing of the first commercial hydrokinetic power station to be installed off the Hastings, Minnesota shore.

Movement from the river will generate electricity without requiring standard diversion measures such as conventional hydropower plants. Two Hydro Green Energy proprietary surface-suspended hydrokinetic turbines will be installed, each rated for 100 kilowatts. The power station itself will generate an estimated 4.4 megawatts of renewable energy.

Once the station is operational, Houston-based Hyrdo Green Energy will monitor the station’s impact on fish survival, birds and water quality.

Another promising step forward in partnering with nature to provide energy in an eco-friendly fashion.

The Latest in Recycling

Used mattresses - a new way to recycle?

Used mattresses - a new way to recycle?

As consumers, statistics show that we’ve grown more practiced with recycling paper, plastic and aluminum. Now there’s another area to consider. These won’t fit into your recycling bin, but recyclers are beginning to accept them.Well-used mattresses are beginning to be recycled for their steel, cushioning and wood contents. Recyclers in places like Massachusetts, Wisconsin and the San Francisco Bay area have begun accepting worn-out mattresses. Many say this trend won’t catch on, but, if it does, it will be yet another way to alleviate dumping thousands of our daily landfill discards.

Mattresses are unwelcome at landfills for many reasons. They don’t compact well. Their springs often cause damage to machinery by getting tangled up. And they’re just are a pain to handle. To recycle them properly, they must be “filleted” (an industry term) by hand with box cutters, a time and energy intensive proposition.

As consumers, we can extend our mattresses life by rotating them every three months, flipping them periodically. When replacing one, consider buying a mattress containing less petroleum products and toxic chemicals. (I know, who would have thought they were in there?!)

As with any new “green” trend or process, it may well be up to consumers to demand that more recyclers take on our old mattresses. After all, consumer demand is what drives the market, no matter what market it is.


Green Speed Bars?

New "green" speed bumps

New "green" speed bumps

A new concept in discouraging speeding may be coming to your town in the near future. Designers Jae-yun Kim and Jong-Su Lee have created the first smart “green” speed bump.

Designed to flatten when a vehicle goes within the speed limit, these yellow and black speed deterrents remain upright when approached by speeding vehicles. Implanted with small internal dampers that sense cars approaching at low speeds, faster velocities keep them upright, giving drivers a solid jolt.

These retooled road devices utilize LED’s in order to be visible to unsuspecting travelers.

The two designers hope drivers will get the idea that driving at constant legal speeds and reducing stops and starts all help minimize pollution, something each driver can do something about.

Sounds like a worthwhile idea. Hopefully they’ll find their way to production soon, adding to the useful tools available to encourage drivers to drive safe and help the planet.


Innovative Energy Generators

Revolving Door that Generates Energy

Revolving Door that Generates Energy

As an update one of my very first posts (“Innovation and Creative Thinking”, August ’08), a revolving door that generates energy using the power of each person entering the building has been installed in the Driebergen-Zeist railway station in the Netherlands.

The door was designed by architecture firmRAU and built by Boon Ed. It’s anticipated the door will generate 4,600 kwh of energy each year.

As added enhancements for curious travelers, the door boasts a transparent ceiling and LED lights displaying how much energy is generated each time the door is used.

So why is it that subways and railways get the coolest innovations in energy generators? Wouldn’t it be useful to expand these into bigger energy guzzlers like buildings? Hmm.


Human Energy Powers Japanese Subway Station

With the vast U.S. subway systems on the East Coast, this could be an excellent energy-saving solution metropolitan transportation authorities should explore.


With human foot traffic the most easily available energy, this new power source has been installed in the flooring in what’s commonly believed to be the busiest subway station in the world.
Energy Generating Floor System demonstrated at Tokyo Station

Energy Generating Floor System demonstrated at Tokyo Station

In the latest drive to harness alternative energy, the East Japan Railway Company (JR East) has installed a revolutionary new piezoelectric energy generating flooring in their Tokyo subway station.JR East recently converted the floor covering from rubber to stone tiles. The total floor space utilized for this power-generating system now encompasses approximately 25 square meters. The company estimates generating around 1,400 kilowatts per day from the system, enough energy to power all the station’s systems.This system will collect the kinetic energy generated by subway travelers entering the turnstile and will power ticket gates and electric displays.

An Eco-friendly Gun-Toting Hiker?

 Chalk another one up for Bush and his “midnight regulations” tactics. If further devastating the environmental protections like the Clean Water Act weren’t enough, now he’s “making the world safe for democracy” by allowing concealed weapons to be carried on national parks.A reversal of a 25-year-old federal rule restricting this practice, beginning in January ’09, park visitors will be able loaded guns into national parks or wildlife refuges. The only caveat is they must either have a permit to carry or that the park or refuge allows weapons entry.

The bad news, besides significantly raising the probability of accidental shootings and serious injuries for unsuspecting nature lovers, is that weapons will be allowed even in parks in states specifically banning guns in state parks.

As to the purpose or logic behind this potentially hazardous new “right”, that remains obscure at best.