Crawling to the Paperless Society

cost of wasting paperHalf a century ago, even before anyone ever thought of the World Wide Web or most of the gadgets we now use to access it, visions of a paperless society began to appear. Soon, futurists promised, technology would make paper record keeping, even paper reading obsolete.

Now, we communicate by email. We can ask all the companies that send us regular statements to send them electronically. If we find something online that we want to keep, we can preserve it as a PDF. Think of all the trees we’re saving!

But a paperless society? It hasn’t happened yet, and it probably never will. We can do better than we are, though. Continue reading

Get Your New Year Off to an Energy Efficient Start

Contributed by Maria Ramos

energy star saves moneyThe new year is a time for new beginnings – and where better place to start than in your own home? Energy bills around the holidays can strain your wallet, but you can earn that money back throughout the year by adopting new energy-saving tips and techniques that help the environment at the same time.

Start by investigating online resources. You can use the EPA’s new Energy Star Home Advisor tool for ideas on home improvement projects and Energywise’s tool for room-by-room energy efficient tips. You can also find more energy-saving tips and tricks at AlbertaEnergyProviders.com and at Energy.gov.

For easy renovation ideas, check out some of the tips below: Continue reading

Energy and Working from Home: What You Need to Know

Contributed by Hannah Corbett.

working from home

Home office

The need for energy efficiency and control of carbon emissions is ever rising, and as time goes on, it is becoming part of everyday life. More people are beginning to take an active responsibility for their own energy consumption and carbon footprint.

In recent years, the notion of working from home has become a popular topic in regards to energy efficiency. However, there are often a number of conflicting opinions, and it becomes unclear whether one approach is more valid than another.

It can’t really be said whether working from home is definitively better or worse, in terms of eco-friendliness, for businesses, as all businesses are different. It’s up to each individual to make an informed decision based on their own circumstances, so here’s what you need to know to figure out if working from home could work for you: Continue reading

The World’s Largest Paper Wad, Belatedly Recycled

world's largest paper wad, belatedly recycledThe Minnesota Pollution Control Agency estimated how much paper Minnesotans throw away in 30 seconds and then combined that much into a giant ball to display at the Minnesota State Fair in August 2014.

Officially it weighed 426 pounds. It was 9 feet 7 inches tall and 32.2 feet around. It made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest ball of paper in the world. Apart from the Agency’s efforts, that paper would not have been recycled.

Those figures represent nothing but paper, not recyclables in general, destined for landfills. Agency employees wrapped the whole mess in netting made of paper. They used no glue, tape, or other adhesives. You can’t see that ball any more. After the fair, the agency took it to a company in St. Paul that recycled it.

Let me underscore what that amount of paper represents: the average amount of paper thrown out  and not recycled in Minnesota in 30 seconds or less. Continue reading

Alternative Wind Turbine Designs

Darrieus wind power generator near Heroldstatt, Germany

Darrieus wind power generator near Heroldstatt, Germany

Wind energy is the fastest-growing source of electricity, yet no other renewable energy arouses so much opposition. In recent years, the size of the standard horizontal axis wind turbines (HAWTs) has become overwhelming, and many people don’t want to look at them—especially when they’re in scenic areas.

They are also too noisy to be built in populated areas. Is there another way to harness the power of the wind?

Many companies have started developing a lot of different designs—and some have gone bankrupt trying. Some startups have been spun off from university research efforts. Here is a sample of what’s happening. Continue reading