Growing A Greener Outer Banks NC

February 24, 2011

Save the turtles by picking up the trash

Filed under: community, environment, Events, Fundraisers — Tags: , , , , — 4x4RE @ 10:44 am

Network for Endangered Sea Turtles (N.E.S.T.)

For the past couple of years volunteers have managed to raise over $100 for N.E.S.T. by sending in granola bar wrappers and Frito-Lay potato chip bags.  Many of the N.E.S.T. volunteers have worked hard to collect wrappers and bags from around the beach. So congrats to everyone and keep that “trash” coming!

Here is what can be donated:
Any granola, power, nut, or Clif bar with a foil lining.  No candy or cookie wrappers.
Any Frito-lay bag.  No other chip companies.

For those who wish to participate:
Once you’ve saved up a stash of wrappers and bags, send them in to Christian Legner at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island P.O. Box 967 Manteo, North Carolina 27954. Please make sure wrappers and chip bags are separated from each other.  Thanks!

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January 17, 2011

A Green Thought: What Happens to the Christmas Trees?

Filed under: environment, Recycle Projects, Tips — Tags: , , , , , , , — 4x4RE @ 12:45 pm
Have you ever wondered where all those Christmas trees go after Christmas? Think of all the trees that were cut down to be put on display in people’s living rooms for 3-4 weeks and then tossed on the curb for the trash collector. I never really gave it much thought, probably because when growing up we would get a tree that still had roots and dad would replant it along the property line. This is a GREAT way to give yourself a privacy fence although it may take a few years. 🙂
When I got married and moved into my own house, we bought an artificial tree because my wife was worried about our cats & she felt that cutting down a live tree was wasteful.  But to get back to the original question, what does happen to all those once live trees after Christmas?  Well believe it or not, some find their way to Carova. Yes, January is when you can see dozens upon dozens of Christmas trees come to rest on our beach. They don’t wash ashore, and there not left behind to litter. Some people use them to help build up our dune line. What a Great idea for recycling and protecting our beach.  Actually, I wish I was the guy who thought up this plan. I can see him now telling one group of people “for ten bucks I can haul away your tree” and then telling another group “for ten bucks I’ll sell you this tree”.  Actually I have come to learn that there are locations for residents to drop off their tress for anyone else who needs them. This a GREAT example of “freecycle“. They’re more environmentally friendly than sand fences and this helps reduce some of the strain on our landfills.
Here are some pics of the ones that have made it down so far. We had many more years past so I think that more might still show up. In the pictures there are all lying down.  I have seen them placed standing up also, and I think it depends on if you’re trying to add on to an existing dune or create one that’s not there yet.

January 13, 2011

GREEN REAL ESTATE PREDICTIONS FOR 2011

Filed under: community, environment, News — Tags: , , , , , , , — 4x4RE @ 12:06 pm

I came just came across an interesting article by Jim Simco, and I thought I would share it.

GREEN REAL ESTATE PREDICTIONS FOR  2011

by Jim Simcoe

In less than 24 hours 2010 will be over and a new year of real estate investment opportunities and challenges will begin. In regards to green real estate, here are my predictions for 2011 (in no order):

1.  Green Value will replace Green Hype.  2010 was the last year we’ll see people largely  add green elements to their projects just for the heck of it.  Value is starting to trump hype (even in California) and that trend will continue on 2011. Investors/buyers/homeowners won’t pursue green unless they have a fairly accurate prediction of the ROI.

2.  In green building certification circles, Energy Star overtakes LEED.  LEED has always been the 800 pound gorilla in the green building certification market.  However the actual value to the end user/buyer of a LEED certified building is beginning to wane.  LEED costs more, takes longer and is more paperwork intensive than Energy Star.  LEED is a clunky old PC running Windows 3.1. Energy Star is an iPad.

3. ROI measurement becomes easier for investors. New technologies and data on recent projects make it much easier for an investor to project the return on any green building method/equipment.  For example, a few years ago it was difficult to quantify the true cost savings on utility bills (and thus value to an end buyer) of blowing closed cell insulation into walls. You’d get a range, say between 30-70% savings.  Not exactly a great way to forecast. Now with a few quick calculations and a cursory knowledge of building envelop design you can get to a very accurate projection, often within 10%.

4.  Opportunity is rapidly becoming obligation.  I’ve written about this before but it is getting more prevalent now.  Sellers/Property Owners (investors or not) are getting squeezed by 2 distinct groups.  First, City/State/Federal legislators who are increasingly enacting green building codes for new AND existing buildings. Second, buyers/renters who are becoming more ‘green’ educated and are demanding more green features.  Both groups are putting added pressure on investors to address green in their projects.

5.  Green products-faster, cheaper, more abundant.  More than ever there are a plethora of green building products on the market.  These products are often higher quality and lower priced than their non-green competitors.  For real estate investors this couldn’t have come at a better time. You can now green a project without having to overspend on materials or equipment.

6.  In 2010, approximately 40%* of your target market (buyers/renters) understood the value of paying more for green homes/apartments and were willing to pay a premium for those amenities.  That number should double in 2011.  It has become much easier for buyers/renters to see the quantifiable difference in value of buying/renting a green home vs. a traditional home. It now makes more sense to get a green home than not.

*Based on a very unscientific study of what I’ve observed in the last year as I’ve worked on projects all over the US.

Source: The Bigger Pockets Blog

January 9, 2011

North Carolina’s Future: Offshore Drilling & Wind Farms

Filed under: environment, News — Tags: , , , , , , — 4x4RE @ 11:49 am

Tell the Governor What You Think About Offshore Drilling, Wind Farms

North Carolinians have an opportunity to tell Gov. Beverly Purdue what they think about offshore drilling, wind farms and other energy issues that could affect the N.C. coast. The Governor’s Scientific Advisory Panel on Offshore Energy will hold three meetings along the coast next week.  The purpose of the meetings is to get the public’s input on a variety of energy topics affecting the coast. The meetings are set for:

  • Jan. 10: UNC-Wilmington Nursing Building, Room 1051, 4 p.m.
  • Jan. 11: UNC Institute of Marine Sciences, Morehead City, 5 p.m.
  • Jan. 12: Dare County Administration Building, Manteo, 4 p.m.

Appointed in 2009, the panel is scheduled to report its findings in September… read more

Consider attending one of the meetings or submit written comments to the panel. It’s an issue that is very important to the future of our coast.

December 15, 2010

December Green Action Tips

Filed under: environment, global, Recycle Projects, Tips — Tags: , , , , , , , — 4x4RE @ 2:06 pm

Top 5 tips to green your Holiday Season

Posted by Murielle in Health, Sustainable living, 9 Dec 2010

I love Christmas and the Holiday Season! As soon as the days start to shorten and the temperature starts to drop, I start dreaming of fairy lights, Christmas trees and snow-white postcard-like panoramas. Then I start feeling guilty for all the generated waste, energy abuse and cut-down trees this season brings about. So in the jolly spirit of the season, and with a feeling of thanks and gratitude towards nature and the beauty of our planet in the back of my head, here is a top 5 list to green your Holiday Season.

1) Choose a real Christmas tree over an artificial one
There is no doubt that a real Christmas tree is better for the environment than an artificial one. Artificial trees have heavy carbon footprints. Most of the trees are manufactured in Asia and will require a lot of energy for transport to European or American stores. The trees are made of metal, plastic and materials that are not biodegradable. Manufacturing the trees is also heavy on the environment and releases toxic chemicals into the atmosphere.

A real tree is carbon neutral (the tree absorbs as much carbon dioxide during it’s growth as it will emit when burned or left to decompose) and does not contain any toxic chemicals. If you have the choice, go for a real Christmas tree with roots. After the Holidays you can plant the tree and even reuse it the next year. Another cool option, although maybe too late for this year, might be to grow your own tree.

2) Go for compostable Christmas decorations
Try to avoid plastic or non-recyclable decorations at all costs. They can’t be recycled and there are much better ways to give your home a Christmas feeling. House decorations and decorations for the Christmas tree can be made from organic material. Why not try tree branches, pine cones or leaves? And throw some beautiful Christmas flowers and some mistletoe in? To decorate your tree, look in your kitchen cabinet. You’ll find that dough and a little bit of creativity can make wonders. Popcorn, gingerbread and cinnamon sticks are perfect too. And after the Holiday Season, all your Christmas decorations will be fully compostable.

3) Give eco-friendly gifts or do some good while giving
This year, instead of going for the carbon loaded gifts shops are already piling up with, consider going for something completely different. Many gifts don’t require any carbon emissions or manufacturing like the sponsoring of animals, donations to environmental or other non-profit organizations, planting a tree and much more. If you prefer to go for ‘real’ gifts you could consider giving away activities. IOU’s for a day in the park, a hiking get-away or any other (eco-friendly) activity you would like others to enjoy are a great alternative and gift. Theater, concert or movie tickets are a good option too as are vouchers for electronic items like music or movie downloads.

4) Consider alternatives for Christmas cards
Millions of trees worldwide are cut down every year just to provide us with Christmas cards. Although I’m a big fan of them myself, there are green alternatives that make a big difference. One option is to send recycled Christmas cards, or to go entirely electronic and send e-cards instead. Many Christmas cards support non-profit organizations or causes. If you can’t do without the traditional cards, why not do some good at the same time and offset your paper use by planting a tree?

After the holidays, there are many things you can do with your Christmas cards. You can use them to create fun collages with your kids, keep them in an album or frame the nicest ones. If you are not a Christmas card keeper, remember to recycle them the right way. Paper cards go in the paper bin; mixed cards (paper and plastic or any other material) are recycled in parts and in their respective recycle bins.

5) Reduce, reuse and recycle your Christmas dinner
Christmas dinner is so much fun, but it produces so much waste! Before, during and after your dinner consider these easy steps to reduce, reuse and recycle your waste as much as possible.

Reduce/ Don’t make too much food; it will end up in the waste bin anyway. Try to be conscious about the food you will be serving. An organic turkey is a good option, as are organic products from local stores or farmers’ markets.

Reuse/ Don’t use plastic dishes or paper napkins, here again they will only end up in the waste bin and they are not biodegradable. Instead, go for the real deal. Grandmother’s dishes, wine glasses and fabric napkins. After dinner try to stack as much as possible in the dishwasher and go for an eco-friendly program. If you don’t own a dishwasher, get some family members together and do the dishes by hand. It’s a fun and eco-friendly time for sharing some family gossip.

Recycle/ After your Christmas dinner compost your food waste and recycle any other waste (wine bottles, soda cans…) appropriately.

If you follow these tips you’ll have a wonderfully eco-friendly Holiday Season. One to remember and to be proud of!

 

 

November 20, 2010

Holiday Season Green Tips

Filed under: environment, Recycle Projects, Tips — Tags: , , , , — 4x4RE @ 7:16 pm
Earth Friendly Holiday Season Tips
By Green Living Tips | Published  10/18/2009 |  
   
Holiday Season green tips

It’s time to arm ourselves against the season of consumption!

Over the Holiday season, the western world generates a lot more rubbish than at other times of the year. Here’s a series of tips to help you reduce your upcoming Holiday impact on the environment.

1. Shop online. Sometimes online retailers will have better pricing than bricks and mortar stores, plus you’ll save fuel in traveling from store to store, time and stress! Items purchased online are often shipped straight from the factory to you, so it can also cut down on the overall freight impact.

2. When heading out to do your Holiday shopping, take your own reusable bags rather than using the plastic ones provided by stores.

3. When purchasing gifts, try and think “earth-friendly” every step of the way; from the product itself to the packaging. If you buy green gifts, make a special effort to let the person know of its environmental benefit as you may just set the receiver on the path to a greener life. This doesn’t mean buying items the person may not need or want, but consider the person’s interests and look for a green angle. For example, for chocolate lovers, perhaps organic, fair trade chocolate.

4. All of us have likely received gifts in the past that we had no use for and we’ve just stashed them away. It’s a waste of money and resources. Instead of taking a risk if you’re not sure what a person wants, consider purchasing a gift card – that way they’ll get what they really want or need. Some retailers are even offering earth friendly gift cards now made from bioplastic! Also consider re-gifting items you may have received in the past but have never used.

5. Instead of buying physical gifts, consider purchasing a service or tickets to a concert or movie.

6. Make a donation to a charity, developing world or environmental project as a gift for someone else. Does the person you are buying for really need another pair of socks? Instead of giving them a gift they can use, buy them a gift that goes to another needy person or organization – purchase it in their name. Many organizations provide this option now. To my way of thinking, this is the perfect gift because it gives to so many. You could purchase seed that will go to a third world farming family, wheelchairs for the disabled, chickens for a community, trees for damaged land – the possibilities are endless.

7. Battery operated items are a hugely popular as gifts. I shudder to think how many single use batteries are consumed during the Holidays and into the following weeks as kids (and adults) put their new toys through their paces. In 2006, 40 billion single-use batteries were sold worldwide! As part of your gift buying, purchase rechargeable batteries and a battery charger – these are quite economical items to buy these days and will save you a ton of money in the long run.

8. Thousands of tons of cards are purchased each Holiday season. The mind boggles to think of how many trees are destroyed in the process. Try to purchase cards made from recycled paper and after the Holiday season, if you decide not to keep the cards you receive, recycle them. Another idea worth considering is to offset the paper consumption is to plant a tree every year.

9. If you like putting bows on your gifts, use fabric instead of plastic.

10. Gift wrapping creates the same sort of issues as cards, but there are some added environmental dangers with metallic and plastic type wrapping. Aside from taking a long time to decompose, these types of wraps give off toxic gases when burned. Look for plainer wraps made from recycled paper, wrap gifts in scarves, place in baskets etc. Make the wrapping a part of the gift if you can; something that can be used for another purpose – for example, check out the Japanese Art of Furoshiki.  Furoshiki techniques with  detailed instructions can be found at Furoshiki.com

11. Purchase a live tree and it doesn’t have to be the traditional fir. There are no laws against using another species.  After the Holidays are over, plant the tree in your yard.

12. If you’re going to purchase tree lights this year; consider buy LED tree light sets – they’ll last far longer and use a great deal less electricity.

13. Use a timer for your external lighting decorations; again, a huge electricity saver.

14. Tree decorations can be made from gingerbread and strings of edible items such as berries or popcorn – much tastier than plastic and far less environmental impact! Also look to nature for decoration ideas – for example; pine cones, leaves and flowers.

15. Artificial snow spray can be made from environmentally damaging components, plus there’s added waste of the can. A more earth-friendly imitation snow effect can be achieved by sprinkling baking soda on your tree.

16. If candles are part of your celebrations and decorations, consider using soy or beeswax types. Normal candles are made from paraffin, which is a petroleum based product.

17. Holidays are a rubbish-fest. Before the gift opening and feasting begins, have boxes or bins set up for different types of rubbish – cans, bottles, paper etc. This will make your job easier at the end of the day and minimize the amount of recyclables heading for landfill.

18. Food wastage can also be a challenge – instead of throwing scraps, leftovers and peelings into your bin, dig them into your garden or better still, buy yourself a worm farm this year and use the vegetable refuse to help you start feeding them.

The retailers of the world have brainwashed us over the years as to what the Holidays are all about.  Think outside the box a little and you can have greener Holidays that may benefit the environment and society rather than contributing to destroying our planet :).

 

November 1, 2010

November Green Action Tip

Filed under: environment, organic, Recycle Projects, Tips — Tags: , , , , , , , , — 4x4RE @ 2:17 pm

 

These are some great tips that came to me in an email last week.

25 A-peeling Uses for Fruit and Veggie Scraps

Got watermelon rinds or onion skins? Save money around the house with these creative food waste recycling tips.

Nearly all fruit and vegetable skins can be added to the compost pile. But since I’m the ultimate Green Cheapskate, I like to get even more mileage out of my rinds — at least before I deposit them in my compost pile.”A rind is a terrible thing to waste.” If you’re a composting enthusiast like me, that’s our mantra.

Try out these creative uses for your peels next time you’re thinking about heading out to the compost pile:

Seedling pots: Scooped-out avocado shells make perfect biodegradable “pots” to start seedlings in before you plant them in the garden.

Potpourri: I dearly love my wife, although she knows that nothing sets me off like store-bought potpourri. (“I have the world’s largest supply of that stuff in the back yard … it’s in my compost pile!”) Seriously: all types of citrus rinds, apple peels, pomegranate skins, and other fruit trimmings can simply be dried on a rack or in a food dehydrator to make homemade potpourri. Sprinkle a little “liquid potpourri” (available at craft stores) on it for more flavor if desired, or dose it with the dregs of perfume or cologne when you finish up a bottle.

Keep garden slugs at bay, the natural way: Sprinkle ground-up nut shells around tender garden plants to keep slugs and other pests away — they can’t stand crawling across the rough texture. (FYI, I know they’re not a fruit or veggie, but crushed eggshells do the same.

Is that peach-fuzz on your face? : You bet. Peaches are high in potassium and Vitamin A, which help to revitalize skin and keep it hydrated. Put a little sugar on the pulpy side of peach skins and use as a gentle face scrub. (Get more natural beauty recipes.)

Make metals shine: Lemon, lime, and other citrus rinds and pulp/juice are high in citric acid, which makes them great for polishing brass, copper, and other non-ferrous metals. Sprinkle on a little baking soda and the polishing goes even faster. (Also see how ketchup works great for shining metals.)

Organic Easter egg dye: Boil your Easter eggs with some onion skins and you’ll end up with wild yellow and orange eggshells, all without the use of artificial dyes.

Serving bowls: Watermelons, cantaloupes, honeydews, and other melons can be scooped out and the shells used as attractive (albeit temporary) serving dishes for fruit salads and such. I also scoop out acorn squash halves and use the shells as serving bowls for a tasty acorn squash and cider bisque I make in the fall.

Candied citrus rinds: My great aunt concluded every family dinner by passing around a tray of her homemade candied citrus rinds. Strips of rind from lemons, oranges, grapefruits, and limes can be boiled in a mixture of equal parts water and sugar until the liquid is absorbed (a couple of hours). Coat the cooled strips in granulated sugar and let dry on a rack.

Banana split shoeshine: Put a “split-shine” on your wing-tips by polishing them with the slippery side of a banana peel – it really works!

Throw some peanut shells on the barbie: Peanut shells burn slow ‘n smoky, so add a handful to the charcoal next time you’re grilling. Soak them in water ahead of time if you think of it, and let them dry a bit before you put them in the coals — that way they’ll burn even longer.

In a pickle: All kinds-o-rinds can be pickled and eaten as a delicious condiment. Most recipes for pickled watermelon, lemon, orange, and even pumpkin rind involve a simple mixture of vinegar, sugar, and spices, and some can simply be stored in the fridge rather than canned once prepared.

In a jam: Marmalades are simple to make, even for those new to jam cookery. They can incorporate the skins from a wide variety of fruits — not just oranges, but lemons, grapefruit, limes, tangerines, and even kumquats.

Cornhusks: Don’t even get me started about all of the uses for cornhusks. Back home in Ohio we make cornhusk dolls; in Mexico they’re used for cooking tamales; in the Philippines (where there is a Corn Husk Association) they weave them into hats, mats, bags, slippers, and just about everything else. Me, I like to wrap fish and other seafood in fresh, dampened sweet corn husks and grill and serve them that way.

Pomegranate skin to the rescue: Suffering from diarrhea? Boil a little pomegranate skin in water with a cinnamon stick and drink it down once it’s cooled. Repeat up to three times per day or until diarrhea subsides.

Add an Asian flare: Dried tangerine rind is a tasty — but expensive — element in Asian cooking. But you can make your own by simply using a vegetable peeler to remove the orange part of the tangerine, clementine, or tangelo rind (avoid the white/zest) and dry the peels on a rack or in a food dehydrator, once dried, store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Darken grey hair: Just call me Mr. Potato Head! Boil potato peels in water for about a half-hour, strain and let cool. Rinse your hair with this water after shampooing and it will gradually darken grey hair, without the use of harsh chemicals.

Pistachio garden soap: I need a sturdy bar of soap to wash up with after a hard day of yard work. I make my own by pulverizing pistachio shells with a little water in the blender, then mixing it with melted glycerin soap.

Vodka infusions: All kinds of fruit skins — particularly citrus rinds — can be added to vodka to create a flavorful infusion. Just add the peels and let it sit for a week or two. (See more tips on how to make infused vodka.)

Olive oil infusions: Adding citrus peels to olive oil will not only flavor it but will help to reinvigorate oil that’s getting old. (See more things you can do with old olive oil.)

Apple peels – A Very Good Thing: My mom makes apple-peel jelly, or she sometimes dusts apple skins with sugar and cinnamon and bakes them in the oven as a crispy snack. She’s also fond of using a needle and heavy thread to string them up, let them dry, and fashion them into a fall wreath. That woman could teach Martha Stewart a thing or two.

Gourd birdhouses: Larger gourds can be dried, treated, and the shells hollowed out to be used as birdhouses, like in these Amish instructions.

Lemony-fresh smell: Lemon rinds just smell way too good to throw away. Try boiling them in water on the stove top, microwaving them for a minute, or just throwing them in the garbage disposal to freshen the air in the kitchen. And put a couple in the humidifier to make the whole house smell lemony-fresh.

Shinier, healthier houseplants: Use banana peels to shine the leaves on your houseplants — not only will it make them sparkle, but it acts as a natural pesticide and fertilizer.

Compost pile chicken: I like to stuff all kinds of fruit and veggie peels inside a chicken when I’m roasting it in the oven to give it extra flavor. Trimmings from onions, celery, citrus, apples, garlic, etc. can be stuffed in the chicken cavity or sprinkled around a roast. Plus, once baked, the trimmings break down in the compost pile even faster.

And last but not least …. “My papayas are killin’ me!” Rub papaya skins and pulp on the bottoms of your feet to help soften skin and soothe cracked heels. They’re rich in Vitamin A and papain, which breaks down inactive proteins and removes dead skin cells. (Plus it feels pretty cool.)

Warning: The skins of vegetables and fruits that are to be consumed or come in contact with food should be thoroughly washed first, even if organically grown.

Jeff Yeager is the author of The Cheapskate Next Door and The Ultimate Cheapskate’s Road Map to True Riches. His website is www.UltimateCheapskate.com. Connect with Jeff Yeager on Twitter and Facebook.

Photo Credit: Jeff Yeager

Read more: http://www.thedailygreen.com/living-green/blogs/save-money/food-waste-recycling#ixzz13PPwEvuZ

June 10, 2010

Is there a sensible solution to the BP oil spill catastrophe?

Is there a sensible solution to the BP oil spill catastrophe?  Perhaps there is.  The video link below will take you to an amazingly simple way to absorb the oil while cleaning up the mess with all natural materials.   It seems all the tools are readily available, inexpensive and easy to use.   

OK, I know this sounds crazy.  The government doesn’t do simple, easy or cheap; usually the chosen solutions are complicated, difficult to administer and expensive.  I mean, Kevin Costner’s invention from Water World?  Really?  It wasn’t even a good movie!

If, after you view this video, you feel a glimmer of hope, please pass it on to everyone you know plus your government representatives.  Perhaps the EPA guys will see it on twitter!!

Hey, it is worth a try before the oil gets to the Outer Banks and ruins our pristine coastline, not to mention our economy.  Talk about beach closings, this could be the daddy of them all.

See the cool solution here.  And thanks for helping.  Maybe we can save some wildlife before they need that bath with Dawn!

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