Choosing The Right Fish For Your Aquaponics System

We've been covering the growing trend of aquaponics this week, as it grants the user a more sustainable food source that relies on far less water and resources than traditional methods of growing plants and fish.

The water culture aspect of aquaponics is one of the most attractive features of this system, but some may wonder what type of fish exactly they should grow. After all, some fish are meant for warmer waters and climate while others do fine in cold temperatures, and some species develop more quickly while others are raised slowly but produce better flavor. For vegetarians, neither of these is a concern, which begs the question of what kind of fish are best suited for not being eaten at all?

Here is a list of some species to consider when designing your personal aquaponics apparatus:

  • Koi and goldfish: This is likely the most appealing option for vegetarians or vegans who simply want to experience the fun of raising marine life while also enjoying the nutrient benefits that fish provide for the plants you are growing.
  • Tilapia: One of the more popular options for aquaponics enthusiasts, this species is tasty but also tolerant to varying temperature and water quality, making it an ideal fish for beginners who may are prone to making mistakes.
  • Trout: These are ideal if you live in a colder climate and your water will be similarly cold. They thrive in such waters, and provide delicious meat, though they require pristine water conditions, so this wouldn't be a good fish to start out with for your first aquaponics system.

By joining the aquaponics revolution and growing fish at home rather than buying them from unprotected fisheries, you'll be contributing to the green living movement. Check back with LifeIsGreen.com frequently for more updates on this terrific new trend.

Building A DIY Aquaponics System

We recently wrote about aquaponics, a relatively new system of raising agriculture and fish simultaneously that less resource intensive than traditional methods of home gardening. Some may see the process as quaint but difficult to pull off in a home setting. But the fact is that there are a number of do-it-yourself solutions that will allow you to create an aquaponics system in your house or patio, giving you a supply of both fresh vegetables and herbs as well as seafood. Based on how much free space you have and whether you're a vegetarian or eat fish, you can develop a self-contained apparatus that will have all of your green living friends jealous.

We've assembled links to some of the best DIY aqauponics setups that will get you on the road toward a more responsible food supply:

  • At TheUrbanFarmingGuys.com, a sustainable farming site, there are instructions for building a system that uses solar energy to power the water pump that hydrates whatever plants you are growing. This is quite a big setup that utilizes a 275-gallon container, so it's best for people who have some space to spare.
  • Sustainablog.org, a similar organic and sustainable living site, compiled a list of five systems that take up less space, though you may be limited in what kind fish you can raise.
  • The DIY aquaponics setup described in this video at FastCompanies.com, builder Rob Torcellini incorporated a greenhouse and raises koi and golfish in his water tank. He spent on $700 constructing it.

Hopefully, by combining elements of various aquaponics systems you can create one that fits your space and dietary needs exactly.

Check back with LifeIsGreen.com for more information on environmentally products.

Solar-Powered Boat Promises A Renewable Energy Future For Watercraft

Typically, when people talk about solar panels, it's usually in the context of implementing a renewable energy infrastructure to power homes and businesses, or occasionally to fuel cars. But one overlooked area where this technology might prove useful in the future is boating.

Driving home this fact is the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar, a catamaran powered by 29,160 solar cells atop a 75 foot by 115 foot panel, which can travel at speeds of up to five knots (5.75 miles per hour). The Tûranor PlanetSolar is currently making its way along the East Coast, having made stops in Baltimore, New York and Boston, while completing a research mission led by faculty from the University of Geneva in Switzerland.

The goal of the research is to better understand the relationship between anthropogenic climate change and the planet's oceans. But the most of the attention is being focused on the vehicle itself, which produces zero carbon emissions and runs entirely on energy derived from sunlight.

"This project utterly reflects our University's missions as it combines education, research and public awareness. It makes perfect sense that Geneva is involved in such a project," said Jean-Dominique Vassalli, rector of the University of Geneva, in a news release. "The city of Calvin is indeed the cradle of global governance and a research hub where key climate change related issues are discussed by international organizations and world decision-makers."

The solar panels take up almost the entire surface area of the boat and achieve an conversion efficiency of 18 percent. However, it's easy to imagine that, as solar cell technology becomes more efficient, this technology will take up less space and become more useful for these applications.

For more developments in the renewable energy industry, keep checking back with LifeIsGreen.com.

American Airlines Replaces Paper Flight Manuals With iPads​

On June 24, American Airlines announced that they had completely replaced all paper flight manuals and reference guides with electronic versions stored on iPads, called Electronic Flight Bags. The company decided to make the switch to tablets to save on fuel costs and make flying easier for pilots.

Prior to the switch, the airline's pilots would have to carry 3,000 pages of material weighing about 35 pounds on every flight, leading to excess weight. By using tablets, American will save 400,000 gallons of fuel and $12 million annually. In addition, 24 million pieces of paper will be eliminated.

"Our focus on technological improvement throughout our operation has never been stronger as we continue to build the new American," said Patrick O'Keeffe, American's Vice President for Airline Operations Technology, in the news release. "As the first major commercial airline to successfully complete the Electronic Flight Bag transition across its fleet, we are proud to count this among our other successful programs that provide the tools our people need to perform their duties safely and efficiently."

The use of electronic materials will also allow the airline to update these manuals automatically, alleviating some logistical problems and leading to a more efficient fleet.

Previously, American had tested the tablets on Boeing 757 and 767 flights.

The U.S. Air Force has taken the same steps with some of its pilots with the goal of saving energy and increasing efficiency. Those efforts will lead to $50 million in fuel savings due to the decrease in excess weight.

While we don't typically think of Apple iPads as environmentally friendly products, it's clear that they present some green living advantages. Keep checking back with LifeIsGreen.com for more information about how companies are becoming more ecologically responsible.

Can Aquaponics Save Sustainable Agriculture?

As the sustainable agriculture movement gains momentum, so do the efforts to maintain the status quo of the factory farm methodology and its environmentally disastrous effects. This means that advocates for green living need to come up with numerous weapons in the fight to advance a healthier, more responsible food system.

An aquaponic setup uses vegetable plants to clean the water in a fish tank. The fish that are grown in the tank are typically a species like tilapia or perch, which are easy to raise and popular for eating. 

Such a system follows a step-by-step process that recycles water and nutrients while providing fresh, predictably and responsibly grown vegetables and seafood:

  • Fish raised in a tank produce ammonia-rich toxins that must be filtered out of the water in order for them to survive.
  • Bacteria within the water and the plant bed above it take the toxins produced by the fish and break them down into nitrites and nitrates.
  • These substances are used by the plant roots as food and nutrients, thereby filtering them out of the water and making it safe for the fish.
  • Water is fed back into the tank from the plants, newly filtered and safe for the water culture.
  • Air is pumped into the tank to re-oxygenate the water.

Adopted on a wide scale, aquaponics could create a sustainable system in which water is recycled and food is grown locally without the use of pesticides. Furthermore, it requires very little space and can be set up within a home or greenhouse.

For more information on how aquaponics could transform the country's food system, keep checking back with LifeIsGreen.com

Energy Fair Takes Place This Weekend In Custer, Wisconsin

The Energy Fair, a three day festival that brings together the large Midwestern community renewable energy advocates and businesses, takes place this weekend from June 21 – 23 in Custer, Wisconsin. The Fair features exhibits from individuals, organizations and companies touting the latest sustainable lifestyle, clean technology and green living trends and ideas.

The New York Times reports that the festival began in 1990 as a collection of "homesteaders, hippies, ecotopians and more than a few end-times enthusiasts" who gathered to discuss what was, at the time, a fringe issue. Today, however, the event attracts a far larger audience thanks in part to the efforts of Ellie Jackson, an events coordinator with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, an advocacy organization that puts on the Energy Fair.

"I was thinking, 20,000 people actually come here?" said Jackson, who was describing her first experience at the event to the source. "But after I went to my first fair I wasn't surprised anymore. The quality that we have in the workshops, the people who donate their time — they truly believe in the work that they do."

Among the projects being promoted at Energy Fair are a machine that converts food waste into methane for energy consumption, cheap solar heat generation for low-income families, and methods for substantially reducing power use in large homes, called "milliwatt living."

Overall, the festival will feature over 250 exhibitors, 200 workshops, a clean transportation show with demonstration vehicles and exhibitors, and green building demos displaying sustainable building techniques.

For information about other green living events throughout the country, keep checking back with LifeIsGreen.com.

A Quick Guide To Buying Environmentally Friendly Furniture

If you're devoted to purchasing environmentally friendly products, this commitment should extend to your furniture as much as other goods that tend to receive more green living focus, such as food and automobiles. Furniture is made from many different components, from the wood that gives pieces structure to the fabric that makes them comfortable to sit or lie down on.

All of these materials can be procured sustainably and responsibly, so there are certain things to look for when purchasing new pieces to furnish your home:

  • Bamboo: It grows quickly, requires no pesticides and is strong. Even conventionally grown bamboo is a relatively eco-friendly, and furniture constructed from it looks great in any room.
  • Organic fabrics: Materials such as cotton are often grown using pesticides and chemicals that can damage water supplies and ruin local eco systems. Purchasing furniture produced through sustainable, organic agricultural practices ensures that these substances were not used in the making of your chair, couch or mattress.
  • Recycled wood: Wood will last a long time, so there's no reason to buy pieces that are made with new wood when a recycled alternative exists. Many manufacturers specialize in using reclaimed wood, which gives furniture a rustic, antique appearance that is stylish and responsible at the same time.
  • Thrift stores: While not all the furniture in a thrift store was necessarily produced using sustainable practices, it stands to reason that the more used pieces you buy, the less that will end up in a landfill.

Keep checking back with LifeIsGreen.com for more updates on how to maintain green living without giving up style or elegance.

Make Your Next Night Out A Green Dining Experience

Recently, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg initiated an effort to curb the amount of garbage in the city by encouraging restaurants to do a better job of controlling food waste. Nearly 100,000 tons of scraps end up in landfills every year from New York alone, meaning that a considerable amount of trash could be avoided if restaurants and diners were more efficient and conscientious about consumption.

However, many dining establishments around the country have already taken steps to limit their food waste output, along with making other efforts to create an eating experience that is both enjoyable and eco-friendly. If you're trying to decide where to go for your next big date or where to take your family when they're visiting from out of town, consider picking an venue that employs good waste practices and works to limit its impact on the environment.

When pursuing a green dining experience, there are a few things to look for in a restaurant:

  • Composting: Find out if restaurants in your area collect uneaten scraps to make compost.
  • Smaller portions: There's something satisfying about ordering a dinner and getting enough to feed three people, but if you don't eat all that food (and for your health, you probably shouldn't), what's leftover will likely end up in a landfill. Find a restaurant that serves smaller sized dishes but excels in quality.
  • Sustainable ingredients: Locally-sourced, responsibly-grown vegetables and meat are much better for the environment than the factory farm-raised equivalents. Support establishments that make an effort to use such ingredients.

For more information on green living issues, visit LifeIsGreen.com again soon.

Power Purchase Agreements Make Renewable Energy More Accessible

As renewable energy becomes more of a priority for U.S. public policy, there is a growing interest in ways to expand the country's electrical generating capacity from sources such as wind and solar power. One of the ways to make this happen is to develop a distributed system where homes and businesses are given incentives to install solar panels and windmills on their property.

However, this approach doesn't completely solve the problem. Even with rebates and tax credits, solar panel systems are still very expensive to buy and construct. Particularly for small businesses and homeowners on a limited budget, it's very difficult to come up with the cash to purchase photovoltaic panels outright.

But there are ways to overcome these obstacles. One of the most promising developments in the energy consumption industry has been the advent of power purchase agreements (PPA), which offer property owners an incentive to have renewable generating sources built on their land or rooftop without the large upfront costs.

A PPA is an arrangement in which an installer agrees to design and build a power source on the property of a buyer. The installer pays for the cost of the system, in exchange for a contract with the buyer that states it will purchase electricity from the system once it is built. This ensures that the installer will secure a consistent revenue stream from their work, while the buyer is able to reap the benefits of renewable energy credits. In the case of solar and wind PPAs, the buyer's local utility company agrees to supply electricity for those times when the system isn't producing energy.

For more information on PPAs and other energy consumption developments, check back with LifeIsGreen.com.

Tesla To Demonstrate Battery Swapping Technology On June 20

Tesla, the manufacturer of luxury plug-in electric vehicles (PEV), will be holding an event at its Hawthorne, California, design studio on June 20 where it will demonstrate its new quick swapping battery technology. The success of the brand depends largely on how widely it can implement a battery swapping infrastructure that would increase the range of its cars, which are currently limited to a roughly 250 mile radius on one charge.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the event on Twitter, reports TechCrunch, a technology news website. The demonstration will be uploaded to the internet later in the evening.

If the company can install swapping and charging stations on a grander scale, it could incentivize more consumers to switch to PEVs. The biggest obstacle at this point to wider acceptance of cars like the Tesla Model S and the Nissan Leaf is the fact that the automobiles require several hours for a full battery recharge. Tesla has built a few pilot "supercharger" stations that allow for quicker re-energizing, but there are not nearly enough to convince drivers they won't be left stranded if they attempt a long voyage. 

By building a network of swapping facilities, Tesla can ensure that its drivers will be able to stop their vehicles, change out the old battery for a fully charged unit, and be on their way in the same amount of time that it would take to fill a tank of gasoline. This would be a major victory for advocates of reduced energy consumption, as it would mean greater promise for a future in which cars are powered by electricity rather than fossil fuels.

Check back with LifeIsGreen.com as we report the latest news on environmentally friendly products.