Check Out These Resources For Eco-Friendly Footwear

We've focused recently on the many environmentally friendly products being put out by clothing companies, but one area we haven't discussed previously is the shoe industry, which has often attracted controversy for its disregard for green lifestyle principles and the fact that some manufacturers will take advantage of poor labor conditions in developing countries. However, there are a number of brands and stores out there for the conscious consumer who is looking for stylish footwear that was responsibly and sustainably produced.

Here are some of the best options for someone looking for eco-friendly shoes:

  • Ecouterre – This company provides information on the latest news in the world of sustainable clothing, and they have a section devoted specifically to shoes. It's a great resource for finding out about new brands and products, as well as developing a better understanding of what constitutes a responsibly-produced shoe.
  • Planet Shoes – This online retailer has a section devoted to selling "eco shoes" and vegan footwear, from brands including OTZ, Patagonia and Timberland. They also define what, exactly, an "eco shoe" is and what materials are considered sustainable and eco-friendly.
  • TOMS Footwear – For every pair of shoes this company sells, they donate another pair to children in need. They also produce vegan footwear that uses organic cotton and canvas instead of leather, a great option for anyone concerned about the environmental footprint of leather manufacturing and cattle ranches.

These companies make going green easier for the more style-minded shopper. 

For more news on environmentally friendly products, keep check back with LifeIsGreen.com regularly!

What Kinds Of Clothing Qualify As Environmentally Friendly Products

eco friendly clothing

We wrote recently about some of the best clothing companies for consumers who are trying to maintain green living standards. But some readers may have wondered what, exactly, it means to purchase "eco-friendly clothing." What makes one shirt environmentally responsible while another is not? We've assembled a quick list of some of the things to look for when you're trying to expand your wardrobe without increasing your impact on the planet:

  • Natural dyes: These are made from natural products such as fruits, vegetables, coffee and other renewable products rather than chemicals that are toxic or put a strain on the environment.
  • Organic and sustainable fabrics: Just like with food, some fabrics are made from plants or synthetic materials that were raised responsibly while others were produced using pesticides, petroleum or other toxic chemicals that are bad for ecosystems or create climate changing gases. It's best to go with the former, which are available from many companies and are now sold in many of the biggest department stores, including Barney's and Wal-Mart.
  • Recyclable: Many labels specialize or at least make an effort to produce clothing that is recyclable. For example, Boston Magazine reports that Patagonia has a program called Common Threads in which they take back old clothes you no longer want and repair them for resale.

Lastly, one of the best ways to dress green is to buy secondhand clothing from thrift and vintage stores. These garments would otherwise end up in a landfill where they will decompose and produce greenhouse gases. Buying them used ensures that you'll look good while helping the environment.

Keep visiting LifeIsGreen.com for more information about environmentally friendly products!

Living Green While Staying Stylish

With the summer weather setting in, many consumers are looking to update their wardrobe with lighter weight clothing to keep cool while also looking their best. Before heading to the mall, however, there are a few clothing companies you should check out that specialize in environmentally friendly products, using sustainable fabrics, dyes and manufacturing processes.

All of these labels have online shops where you can purchase their clothing, so you need not search for them at the nearest department store:

  • Awamaki Lab: Founded by the nonprofit group Awamaki, this organization sells clothing made by Peruvian seamstresses and weavers with the goal of providing these women with a sustainable income. Their items incorporate the traditional styles of Peru while adding a modern touch.
  • Carrie Parry: High-end fashion designer Carrie Parry attended the prestigious Central Saint Martins, a famous design school in London, and now produces eco-friendly clothing at a factory in the Garment District of New York City. When feasible, Parry sources all her fabrics from within the United States, and recycles materials in order to reduce the among of waste that ends up in landfills.
  • Fair Indigo: This company uses organic fabrics and recycled materials to produce men's and women's clothing and accessories. In addition, all of their products are fair trade, meaning that you don't have to worry about whether it was made in sweatshop conditions by underpaid child laborers.

The green living landscape is always expanding and improving, so check back with LifeIsGreen.com frequently for more news about this exciting field.

New Solar Generating Plant In California Completed

The last panels have been installed on the California Valley Solar Ranch (CVSR), a 250 megawatt (MW) solar energy generating plant in East San Luis Obispo County, California. The facility awaits commissioning from the California Public Utilities Commission, but once it is, it will be the largest solar power plant in the state, helping California meet its renewable portfolio standard (RPS) of 33 percent by 2020.

The CVSR will pump enough electricity into the grid to power 100,000 homes, roughly the size of the city of San Luis Obispo, which sits on the central California coast. According to the plant's website, it will also help offset the production of 333,000 tons of carbon dioxide every year.

It's currently the biggest photovoltaic solar station in the country, but that will change soon as there are plans to build a 550 MW capacity plant in the Carrizo Plain, in nearby central California.

In addition to providing residents with clean energy, the plant also serves as a permanent conservation ground for many different species. The entire facility covers 4,700 acres, but of that only 1,500 are actually covered by panels. Instead, about 3,200 acres have been set aside to protect endangered species and habitats, as a concession to environmental groups that were concerned the plant could adversely effect local wildlife.

It is also estimated that the CVSR will pump $315 million of into the local economy throughout its construction and operation, creating jobs and helping support local businesses.

The renewable energy industry is always evolving, so keep coming back to LifeIsGreen.com for more updates.

Solar Impulse Completes Cross Country, Solar-Powered Flight

The HB-SIA, an airplane powered entirely by solar energy that can fly during the day and at night using batteries, landed in New York on July 6, having completed the first cross-country, solar-powered flight. The aircraft was designed and built by Solar Impulse, a Swiss organization dedicated to promoting clean energy technology.

The plane was flown in turns by Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, two Swiss pilots who founded Solar Impulse as a way to promote solar-powered flight and experiment with new technologies. The pair began the journey in San Francisco in May, with stops in Phoenix, Dallas, St. Louis and Washington, D.C., before finally stopping at JFK Airport in New York.

"Flying coast-to-coast has always been a mythical milestone full of challenges for aviation pioneers," said Piccard, who completed the final leg of the journey. "During this journey, we had to find solutions for a lot of unforeseen situations, which obliged us to develop new skills and strategies. In doing so, we also pushed the boundaries of clean technologies and renewable energies to unprecedented levels."

The HB-SIA is powered by 11,000 solar cells, with a wingspan equal to that of a Boeing 747 at 208 feet. However, it has a top speed of 45 miles per hour, so the flight across the United States took over 105 hours to complete. It can fly at night because of an enormous battery pack, which makes up about a third of its 3,527 lb. mass. An around-the-world trip is scheduled to begin in 2015.

The world of renewable energy and green technology is advancing quickly, so make sure to keep visiting LifeIsGreen.com for more updates on this exciting industry.

UK Continues Leading Offshore Wind farm Industry With New 630 MW Facility

UK Prime Minister David Cameron was on hand to cut the ribbon on the London Array, a 630 megawatt (MW) capacity offshore wind farm located near the East Anglia coast. It is the biggest such facility in the world, and represents a major step forward for the UK, which has been one of the global leaders in renewable energy, particularly in the field of offshore wind.

The London Array has 175 turbines which provide enough electricity to power 470,000 homes. Although it began generating energy back in April, the ceremony on July 4 featuring Prime Minister Cameron was the official opening.

"This is a great day for Britain and a big win for renewable energy," Cameron told the Guardian. "London Array shows you can build large-scale renewable energy projects right here in Britain. This is because when it comes to clean energy, the UK has one of the clearest investment climates globally."

It's expected that the London Array will save 925,000 tons of carbon emissions every year.

Offshore wind farms have received some opposition from members of the Tory Party in the UK, who believe such projects are too expensive. The facility is owned by a partnership between Dong Energy of Denmark, E.On of Germany and Masdar, of Abu Dhabi.

In the United States, offshore turbines have a long way to go before they become as ubiquitous as they are in the UK, which has a total generating capacity of 3.6 gigawatts (GW). The U.S. currently has one offshore windmill, which produces enough electricity for four homes, according to Grist, an environmental news site. But there are many projects in the planning stages that could expand that generating capacity, so stay tuned to LifeIsGreen.com for more updates on the growing renewable energy industry.

Bike Sharing Comes To Chicago

Following the example of Boston, Washington, D.C., and New York, Chicago will be debuting this week its first bike sharing program, called "The Divvy". Similar to programs in many other cities around the world, the goal of the system is to increase ridership, promote green living practices and improve public health.

With The Divvy, Chicago residents have several options for how to check out bikes. They can either purchase a daily rental for $7, which allows them to take unlimited 30-minute rides for one day, or annual memberships with costs between $75 and $125. The annual memberships grant riders various tiers of usage.

The Chicago Tribute reports that initially, there will be 75 docking stations featuring 700 3-speed bicycles which should be ready for use by Sunday. Some stations will come online starting Friday, but the city is delaying operation for several others due to the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup celebration parade. The plan is to expand to 400 stations and 4000 bicycles by the spring of 2014.

Although bike sharing has been around for some time, it has been in the news more recently because of the massive rollout of New York's Citi Bikes program, which is one of the largest implementations so far. Although controversial with a few residents because of the space taken up by racks, it has proven wildly popular with city dwellers who are seeking an alternative method of transportation when subways fill up and traffic gets congested.

As the momentum for bike sharing picks up, LifeIsGreen.com will continue to report on the latest developments and news.

Budget Programmable Thermostats Will Reduce Your Energy Needs

With the summer temperatures continuing to rise, homeowners and apartment dwellers are likely looking for whatever solution they can find to mitigate the energy costs of air conditioning. Luckily, many companies are investing a lot of capital in developing programmable thermostats that optimize temperatures in your house based on when you're there and your personal preferences.

However, some of these devices can be expensive. The most notable, The Nest, is a smart thermostat that learns your heating and cooling habits while bringing an Apple design sense to what is typically one of the more bland-looking appliances in the home. But The Nest will set you back about $250, so if that's more than you're willing to spend, you may want to consider some of these alternatives, which were compiled by Apartment Therapy, a DIY apartment lifestyle blog:

  • 3M Filrete Wi-Fi Remote Programmable Touchscreen Thermostat: This device can be controlled by your smartphone or desktop computer, so that you can set temperatures no matter where you are in your home.
  • Homewerks Radio Thermostat CT-30-H-K2 Wi-Fi Thermostat: Although it doesn't feature a nifty touchscreen, the Homewerks Radio Thermostat still offers mobile connectivity options, for those times when you forgot to program it in advance and need to shut down the heat or AC.
  • CyberStat CY1101 Wireless Internet Connected Programmable Thermostat: At about $75, this is one of the most affordable programmable models available, it's only real drawback being that it's the least attractive of the bunch.

By investing in one of these devices, you'll be able to program your home to cool while you're there and save energy while you're away.

For more news about environmentally friendly products, come back and visit LifeIsGreen.com soon.

What Can Be Grown With Hydroponics?

Last week we posted about DIY Aquaponics, the horticulture method that involves raising fish and plants in the same symbiotic system. But one topic we didn’t really go over is the types of plants you can grow using aquaponics (as well as hydroponics, which is the same thing without the fish).

In fact, just about any plant can be grown hydroponically. While it’s unlikely that you’re going to be raising fruit trees in a hydroponic tank, virtually any other small to medium sized flora, including flowers, herbs, vegetables and legumes, will work nicely in even a basic indoor system.

It’s best to first decide your priorities as a horticulturalist. If you’re just looking to brighten up your living areas with some nice color or decorate your garden, then a hydroponically raised flowers would be perfect. If instead you’re hoping for organic, efficiently-grown veggies, you could very easily make that your focus as well. Typically, the best plants to use are tomatoes, lettuce and others that don’t take up a lot of space or require a trellis for vines.

Using either a hydroponics or aquaponics system, you’ll experience a number of benefits that simply aren’t possible with a traditional soil garden. Plants grown with these methods require far less space and reach maturity approximately 30 to 50 percent faster according to Green Trees Hydroponics, a supply company. By raising a more condensed garden, you’ll harvest more vegetables at one time, more quickly. Furthermore, such a system requires no pesticides and reduces water usage considerably, making your garden both sustainable and cost-effective.

Keep checking back with LifeIsGreen.com for more advice and information about green living ideas.