Save Heat, Save Money: How to Cut Your Heating Bill, Save Energy, and Lower Your Costs

Winter may be over, and you’re probably not cranking the heat anymore, unless you live in Alaska, Antartica, Siberia, or some other tundra.

But regardless of it not being winter anymore, if you want to be a good Low Density Lifestyler, you want to think of how you impact the earth, and how much heat you use to keep your house warm in the winter.

High temperatures in your home lead to high utility bills — not to mention a high price paid by the earth to keep you warm.

And so, yesterday I told you about affordable electric cars that are on the horizon, and today I’m telling you about making your heating bill affordable, along with saving energy.

And as I’ve pointed out in this entire series about the environment – from the articles on the White House Organic Garden, sustainable foods, and other articles, living a Low Density Lifestyle is not just about your own health and wellness and healthy living, but the health and wellness of the entire planet, and for the entire planet to experience healthy living.

I’ll be back tomorrow with the last article in this series on the environment and living a Low Density Lifestyle.

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Electric Cars Everyone Can Afford

April 29, 2009 by Michael Wayne  
Filed under Environment

I want to continue on the green living theme by talking today about electric cars, which more and more are becoming part of the landscape. Hybrids are readily available – the most popular being the Toyota Prius – and soon, the next generation of electric cars – plug-in hybrids – will be coming out.

ev21But I want to tell you of a different type of car. No, not the sustainable cars of the future that I talked about a few days ago, nor the electric two-wheeler or wind-powered cars, also of the future, that I featured in a separate article a few days ago. No, I want to tell you about a different type of electric car that will be making its way onto our roads in the near future.

One of the most important things about these cars that make them different is that they will be affordable. Many of the new types of electric and plug-in hybrid cars that will be coming out on the market will be beyond the budget of the average person—the Chevy Volt will cost $40,000, and the Tesla $100,000—while the electric cars of the near future will be much more in the budget range of the average person.

Imagine that? If you had your choice of buying a gas-powered or electric-powered sedan that each cost about the same amount of money, which do you think you would buy?

That’s the dream of two separate entrepreneurs, with two separate car companies, and if all goes well, this dream will be coming to a car dealership near you very soon.

Let me tell you about both of these companies. You can also watch the video above from CBS News to learn about one of these companies.

The first company is called Better Place, and was started by Silicon Valley millionaire Shai Agassi. Agassi’s dream has enticed serious venture capitalists, whom have sunk $1 billion into it. One large venture firm said, “I think it’s one of those seminal companies that is going to change the way the world functions.”

Agassi’s idea is to get the world’s car companies to build electric cars with swappable batteries, so that you’re not buying the battery, only the car.

Agassi’s plan is in three steps. 1: Persuade the world’s car companies to make electric cars with swappable projectbetterplace13batteries. 2: Persuade governments to install millions of recharging outlets. 3: When people want to go on longer drives, when there’s no time to recharge the battery, build battery-swapping stations all over the world.

When you’re driving and your battery starts to run low, you stop at a swapping station and swap out the battery. Because you don’t own the battery, you pay for miles, similar to a prepaid cell phone, where you pay for minutes.

But this is not just a pipedream. So far, the countries of Israel, Denmark and Australia, and the province of Ontario in Canada, and the state of Hawaii in the U.S. have all signed on and agreed to build the recharging outlets that are needed. The San Francisco/Bay Area is also close to signing on. And the carmakers Nissan and Renault have agreed to manufacture the first battery-swappable cars.

Agassi also plans to have the cars plug into an energy grid that is from a renewable power source.

BYD President Wang Chuanfu, standing next to one of his electric cars

BYD President Wang Chuanfu, standing next to one of his electric cars

The second company is a Chinese battery maker turned automaker, BYD. They have produced a plug-in electric car that goes 62 miles on a single charge and will sell for $22,000, which is less than a Prius.

Warren Buffet has bought 10% of BYD, because he believes BYD “has a shot at becoming the world’s largest automaker, primarily by selling electric cars.”

One of the things about the batteries in these cars is that they will be 100% recyclable, so there won’t be the concern about the toxic byproducts that other electric car batteries produce.

BYD also has the advantage of the Chinese government support—China has been pouring huge subsidies into clean cars. Chinese leaders have adopted a plan aimed at turning the country into one of the leading producers of hybrid and all-electric vehicles within three years, and making it the world leader in electric cars and buses after that.

So, there you have it. Two companies moving us closer to the reality of electric cars that everyone can afford.

And as more and more people begin driving electric cars, that will mean that more and more people will be treading lighter on the planet, which will help to create a Low Density Lifestyle environment on the earth.

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Global Warming – 2 Humorous Takes

April 28, 2009 by Michael Wayne  
Filed under Environment

Ok, I’m going to continue with the green theme for a couple more days. Earth Day is still on my mind – in fact, in some places the entire month of April is considered Earth Month.

And to repeat, a Low Density Lifestyle is not just about your own personal health and wellness, and your own personal ability to experience healthy living – it’s also about the health and wellness of the planet, and for the collective ability to experience healthy living.

And we won’t be able to let that happen unless we practice a Low Density Lifestyle not only in our own lives, but also on the planet.

Yesterday I told you about 10 awesome green innovations.

Today, I will discuss a serious subject – global warming – by injecting some humor.

Humor and laughter is something that helps you feel lighter of mind and body, and because of that, having a sense of humor is an important ingredient to living a Low Density Lifestyle.

And so, in the above video you can see Sarah Silverman discussing “A Convenient Truth.” In the video she talks about the benefits of global warming.

And in the below graphic, you can see how carbon offsets really work – this comes courtesy of The Onion.

It’s a serious subject, but there’s nothing wrong with a little fun.

carbon_redo22


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10 Awesome Green Innovations

April 27, 2009 by Michael Wayne  
Filed under Environment

Ok, I’m going to continue on a green theme for a few more days. Earth Day passed us a few days ago, but it’s still in our minds.

As I’ve said many times over, a Low Density Lifestyle is not just about your own personal health and wellness, and your own personal ability to experience healthy living – it’s also about the health and wellness of the planet, and for the collective ability to experience healthy living.

And we won’t be able to let that happen unless we practice a Low Density Lifestyle not only in our own lives, but also on the planet.

So, in the last article, I told you about 10 cars for the future – all sustainable and extremely eco-friendly. These were really cutting edge vehicles that are a green dream.

Above is another video on 10 environmentally friendly ideas. Instead of cars, these are other amazing green innvations. Well, two are cars – one an electric two-wheeler, and the other a wind-powered racer – while the rest are all kinds of other things, from products to concepts and ideas.

But they’re all part of the cutting edge, and they’re helping to usher in the new way of living – one that stresses health, wellness, green lifestyles, personal fulfillment, and enlightened living.

Welcome to Low Density living!

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Go Green, Drive Green: Kickass Cars of the Sustainable Future

April 24, 2009 by Michael Wayne  
Filed under Environment

I want to continue talking green for a few more days.  Earth Day may have just passed, but we never want to forget about our relationship to the planet. 

As I’ve said in prior articles in this series – it’s not just about living a Low Density Lifestyle in your own personal life, it’s also about living a Low Density Lifestyle on planet earth.  It comes down to treading lightly on the planet, for the overall health of the planet.

Yesterday I told you about the top 10 greenest cities in the U.S.

Today, in the above video, you will learn about cars you may see driving down the road one day.  Some of them are so completely green that they run on alternative fuels, while some are gas powered but highly fuel efficient.  And some are just so cool looking, if I say so myself.

One car in the video, a Jaguar, “proves that vegetable-tanned leather and recycled bottles aren’t just for pita parties and Greenpeace get-togethers,” as the narrator says in the film.

So sit back, tighten your seat belt, and get ready for the ride of your life. It might be you driving down the road in one of these cars of the sustainable future.  Then you’ll really be on the cutting edge of the Low Density Lifestyle.

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The 10 Greenest Cities in the U.S.

April 23, 2009 by Michael Wayne  
Filed under Environment

green-citiesIn honor of Earth Day, I’ve been writing a series on the environment and its relationship to a Low Density Lifestyle.  My point has been that living a Low Density Lifestyle is not just about your own personal health and wellness and ability to experience healthy living, but the health and wellness of the planet.

Because if a Low Density Lifestyle is about feeling lighter of body, mind and spirit, then it should also mean that you tread lighter on the earth.

I’ve been talking a lot about sustainable, local and organic foods, but now I want to shift the focus to green living, energy and the enviroment.

Today I want to tell you about the 10 greenest cities in the U.S., based on a compilation from the website TreeHugger and the magazine Popular Science. Here goes – the results for some of the cities might surprise you, and perhaps you will have a different point of view:

earth-day-boston.jpg

10. Boston

Boston doesn’t get a whole lot of green love from the environmental movement, but it should—it’s quietly made its way to the top of greenest city lists with good public transit, an eye on energy efficiency, mandated green building standards, and even a bike share on the way.

earth day asheville photo

9. Asheville

Home to some of the greenest communities in the country, Asheville is a cool green town nestled in mountainous, western North Carolina. It’s not nearly the size of most of the other cities on this list, but it edges its way in out of sheer greenness—in addition to those celebrated eco communities, Asheville was named “most vegetarian friendly” small city by PETA, and is surrounded by beautiful nature on all sides.

earth-day-chicago.jpg

8. Chicago

The Windy City has leaned pretty green in recent years—with good public transit, a tax on bottled water, an ambitious bike plan, and an even more ambitious plan to curb carbon emissions by 75%, the city is making good green progress.

earth day new york photo

7. New York City

The biggest city in the US is also a front runner for the greenest—with arguably the best public transit system in the nation, centralized apartment-based living, easy access to farmer’s markets and CSAs, and a walking-friendly urban layout, New York is green without really even trying to be. So even though people think grey, not green, when they picture the Big Apple, it is a green city.

oakland_ca_2-resize

6. Oakland, CA

The local transit authority has put on the road zero emission buses – all hydrogen powered. For that and other reasons, Oakland makes the list.

earth day austin texas photo

5. Austin

Over the last few years, Austin has emerged as one of the indisputable leading green cities in the US. The city has seen a veritable revolution in biodiesel, plug-in hybrid infrastructure, and solar and wind power. Great farmers’ markets, organic restaurants, and bike-friendly streets cement Austin’s reputation as a green metropolis.

earth day seattle photo

4. Seattle

Seattle is yet another fast-rising green destination–the mayor has booted out bottled water and taxes plastic bags, has great plans for biking paths, a controversially named trolley for public transit and even a biodiesel gas station. Suffice to say, there’s a strong green vibe emanating from Seattle.

downtowneugene

3. Eugene, OR

Much of the wet Pacific Northwest draws its energy from hydroelectric dams, but Eugene, a very green-friendly city, draws an additional 9 percent of its municipal electricity from wind farms. It also buys back excess power from residents who install solar panels.

earth day san francisco photo

2. San Francisco

The city’s mayor Gavin Newsom got TreeHugger’s seal of green approval as the best local politician in 2009’s Best of Green awards. So it’s no surprise that his city is one of the most green places in the country. San Francisco has ratified the Kyoto Protocol, has been advancing solar power initiatives, ditching the plastic bag, and getting ready to promote electric cars.

earth day portland photo

1. Portland

Oregon’s biggest city is widely recognized as the greenest city in the US, and the most bike-friendly city in the country.

The Sustainable Foods Movement is Gaining Momentum

The Mother of Slow Food

Sustainable, local foods has also been called “Slow Foods.” Now if you call eating that leads to health and wellness, along with healthy living, slow foods, then what do you call a lifestyle that leads to health and wellness and healthy living? Slow living, or as I’ve been promoting it, a Low Density Lifestyle.

Since I’ve been talking about sustainable, local and organic foods for the past week, discussing such things as the White House Organic Garden, and living the life of a Locavore, I thought I’d tell you how sustainable foods has become a movement, and is gaining enough momentum that it is making its way  into the mainstream.

usda-organicAfter being largely ignored for years by Washington, advocates of organic and locally grown food have found a receptive ear in the White House, which has vowed to encourage a more nutritious and sustainable food supply.

The most vocal booster so far has been the first lady, Michelle Obama, who has emphasized the need for fresh, unprocessed, locally grown food and, as we all know, started work on a White House organic vegetable garden. More surprising are the pronouncements out of the Department of Agriculture, an agency with long and close ties to agribusiness.

In mid-February, Tom Vilsack, the new secretary of agriculture, took a jackhammer to a patch of pavement outside his headquarters to create his own organic “people’s garden.” Two weeks later, the Obama administration named Kathleen Merrigan, an assistant professor at Tufts University and a longtime champion of sustainable agriculture and healthy food, as Mr. Vilsack’s top deputy.

Sustainable-food activists are hoping that such actions are precursors to major changes in the way the federal government oversees the nation’s food supply and farms, changes that could significantly bolster demand for fresh, local and organic products. Already, they have offered plenty of ambitious ideas.

For instance, the celebrity chef Alice Waters recommends that the federal government triple its budget for school lunches to provide youngsters with healthier food. And the author Michael Pollan has called on President Obama to pursue a “reform of the entire food system” by focusing on a Pollan priority: diversified, regional food networks.

Alice Waters with student, in one of the public school gardens she helped implement

Alice Waters with student, in one of the public school gardens she helped implement

Many activists say they are packing their bags and heading to Washington. They are bringing along a copy of the soon-to-released documentary, “Food Inc.,” which includes attacks on the corn lobby and Monsanto, and intend to provide a private screening for Mr. Vilsack and Ms. Merrigan.

“We are so used to being outside the door,” says Walter Robb, co-president and chief operating officer of Whole Foods Market, the grocery chain that played a crucial role in making organic and natural food more mainstream. “We are in the door now.”

AT the heart of the sustainable-food movement is a belief that America has become efficient at producing cheap, abundant food that profits corporations and agribusiness, but is unhealthy and bad for the environment.

The federal government is culpable, the activists say, because it pays farmers billions in subsidies each year for growing grains and soybeans. A result is an abundance of corn and soybeans that provide cheap feed for livestock and inexpensive food ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup.

They argue that farm policy — and federal dollars — should instead encourage farmers to grow more diverse crops, reward conservation practices and promote local food networks that rely less on fossil fuels for such things as fertilizer and transportation.

Last year, mandatory spending on farm subsidies was $7.5 billion, compared with $15 million for programs for organic and local foods, according to the House Appropriations Committee.

But with more awareness of the obesity epidemic, particularly among children, and by concerns about food safety amid seemingly continual outbreaks of tainted supplies, sustainable-food activists and entrepreneurs have convinced more Americans to watch what they eat.

They have encouraged the growth of farmers’ markets and created such a demand for organic, natural and local products that they are now sold at many major grocers, including Wal-Mart.

“Increasingly, companies are looking to reduce the amount of additives,” says Ted Smyth, who retired earlier this year as senior vice president at H. J. Heinz, the food giant. “Consumers are looking for more authentic foods. This trend absolutely has percolated through into mainstream foods.”

And so, the seeds of change are upon us, giving us much to feel good about. Earth Day is upon us, and for a change, the Earth may reap the benefits of more and more people living a Low Density Lifestyle.

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Being a Locavore Means Becoming a Veggie Dealer

Ok, I bet you’re still singing and dancing from the video in yesterday’s article. Once you get a chance to sit down, I’m going to continue with the discussion on eating a sustainable and local diet, and carry on from the previous article on being a locavore.

locavore-defIn that previous article I explained what being a locavore was and how to be one in the wintertime.

This is, alas, the flip side of the locavore movement and the thing that holds most people back from putting into practice: how can you get your foods in the winter?

In other words, what if you don’t live in places where food grows all year round?

What are you to do when your neighborhood farmer’s market is only open from May or June until some time in October?  Or, if you grow your own food and your season doesn’t last all year?

The fact is, eating local during any other time but late Spring, Summer, and early Fall isn’t always easy; growing your own is challenging, and buying your own is indisputably expensive.

But now there is a way for local food lovers to hook up with other local food lovers, regardless of locations; it’s called VeggieTrader.com.

It’s a very easy, very community-friendly idea: grow too many tomatoes? Have too much lettuce coming uppic_tomcorn that you can’t use? Looking for Brussels Sprouts starters but can’t find any at your local nursery? Log onto VeggieTrader.com; tell it what you’re looking for or what you have too much of, scour the I WANT postings, and that’s it.

Whether you choose to sell, give away, or trade your produce is your business, and if you do wind up buying, odds are it will be far cheaper for you to procure your goods from a gardening neighbor than a high-end supermarket. Utter brilliance, and perfect for people who are devoted to eating as locally as possible, but who have to jump hurdle over hurdle in order to do it.

So now you have no excuse not to be a year-round locavore: VeggieTrader.com!

Also, would you like to know where there are farmer’s markets in your area?  What restaurants in your area serve locally grown food? What food stores sell it? And what farms in your area grow organically?

logo-tagYou can find all this out and more at eatwellguide.org. It will lead you to the promised land on your quest to be a locavore.

So there you have it. You can trade or buy veggies through VeggieTrader.com, or you can find purveyors of local and organic foods through eatwellguide.org.

And once you get into the swing of it and live the life of a locavore, you’ll really be living a Low Density Lifestyle.

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Let’s All Get Up and Sing (And Dance)!!

Over the last week I’ve been talking about eating a local, sustainable diet, and how that relates to a Low Density Lifestyle.  And in the last article, I discussed what being a locavore was and how to live that way, even in the wintertime.

I will be continuing on in that vein through this week, but today I am taking a slight detour, in order to show you the above video.

Living a Low Density Lifestyle is really about feeling light of body, mind and soul.  This creates a feeling of healthy living, and a feeling of being in Flow. When you feel this way, everything just seems right.

To feel this way, it’s about doing things that make you feel alive in the depths of your soul. And you know, every time you feel happy and joyous, your soul breathes a little easier and lighter.

So imagine if you were in a public place, and all of a sudden, out of the blue, people started singing and dancing? This is what happened on March 23, 2009 at the central rain station in Antwerp, Belgium.

Now, Antwerp is a city of over 1 million people, which means it’s a large size city. And as we all know, in large cities people are usually rushing around, trying to get from one place to the next, with little time to take a pause. And that can only mean one thing – when people are running around and extremely busy, they’re usually caught up in a High Density Lifestyle.

But when singing and dancing break out in the middle of a busy train station, it makes you have to stop and remind yourself that, yes, this is what really matters.

When you watch the above video, see if it makes your soul sing. It should. And as it does, you’ll know that not only are you experiencing healthy living, but you are experiencing the lightness of being that makes up living a Low Density Lifestyle.

And if you need to do an encore, you can always sing in the rain, like the below video.


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Are You a Locavore? And How Do You Do It in the Winter?

Be a Locavore All Year Round by Eating Locally Even in Winter

All this week I’ve been talking about food from an environmental perspective. I’ve been doing so because as I first pointed out, living a Low Density Lifestyle is not just about individual health and wellness and individual healthy living, but also about the health and wellness of the planet.

It makes sense that if you are to live a Low Density Lifestyle and feel light of body and mind, then you are going to tread lighter on the planet. And with Earth Day coming soon, what better time to discuss healthy living and our connection to the earth than now.

And so, I’ve told you about the White House Organic Garden and the garden plans, I told you how Monsanto was waging a PR battle against the White House Organic Garden, and then I posted an interview with Michael Pollen, who always has important things to say about eating locally and organically.

Ultimately, if you want to live a Low Density Lifestyle on the planet, then eating locally whenever possible is the best way to go, because then you’re lowering the economic and energy costs of getting the food to you.

buyfreshNowadays, if you are someone who likes to eat locally, you can call yourself a “Locavore.” A locavore is someone who eats food grown or produced locally or within a certain radius such as 50, 100, or 150 miles (240 km).

The locavore movement encourages consumers to buy from farmers’ markets or even to produce their own food, with the argument that fresh, local products are more nutritious and taste better. Locally grown food is an environmentally friendly means of obtaining food, since supermarkets that import their food use more fossil fuels and non-renewable resources.

The term “Locavore” was coined by Jessica Prentice from the San Francisco Bay Area on the occasion of World Environment Day 2005 to describe and promote the practice of eating a diet consisting of food harvested from within an area most commonly bound by a 100-mile (160 km) radius. “Localvore” is sometimes also used.

The New Oxford American Dictionary chose locavore as its word of the year 2007. The local foods locavore-word-of-the-year-20071movement is gaining momentum as people discover that the best-tasting and most sustainable choices are foods that are fresh, seasonal, and grown close to home.

Some locavores draw inspiration from the The 100-Mile Diet or from advocates of local eating like Barbara Kingsolver whose book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle chronicles her family’s attempts to eat locally. locavore-booksOthers just follow their taste buds to farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture programs, and community gardens.

A study in the 2007 Dewey Health Review revealed that a Locavore diet (study included 100 individuals ages 18-55 eating local food grown within an 80-mile (130 km) radius) resulted in a 19% increase in sturdiness of bowel movement and an overall drop in sleep apnea and night terrors.

So becoming a locavore is a great way to ensure that you’re living a Low Density Lifestyle in relation to the planet.

One question many people have, if they are trying to be a locavore, is What Do I Do in the Winter? In many parts of the world, winter gets mighty cold and there is no local foods to eat.

Watch the video above and you will learn how to be a year-round locavore. And when you do you’ll really be living a Low Density Lifestyle and truly be experiencing healthy living.

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