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Green Living News
November 2008
In This Issue
Eco-Gadgets & Innovations
Green City, USA
L.A. Confidential
Worth Your Time
Good News!
Support TeachingGreen
Join Our Mailing List!
Quick Links

Welcome to the November 2008 edition of TeachingGreen's Green Living News, a monthly newsletter for folks interested in creating a more sustainable society through individual actions and beyond.

Inside this issue of Green Living News:
...and more!

Eco_gadgetsEco-Gadgets & Innovations
If you're like most people, there's a phantom in your house that's gobbling up about $50 each year in energy costs. It has many hiding places: in appliances with remotes and/or displays; in those little black boxes (transformers) powering things like telephones and CD players; in your digital video recorder and in your power toothbrush.

Each of these things constantly consumes energy, whether they are on or off. According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, this phantom, or standby, power accounts for as much as 10% of household energy consumption, dumping about 840 pounds of heat-trapping carbon dioxide per home into the atmosphere each year.

The Kill A Watt

You can avoid wasting and paying for this useless phantom power by Kill-a-Wattunplugging appliances and electrical devices when not in use. But which devices should you unplug?

The Kill A Watt from P3 International is an easy-to-use power meter that will show you just how much energy your electrical devices use, on and off. Just plug in the Kill A Watt and then plug the device you want to test into the Kill A Watt's socket. The KWH display shows you energy consumption in the same units used by your electric utility. If it's using phantom power and serving no purpose in doing so (such as lighting a clock), unplug it!

For you techies, the Kill A Watt also displays volts, amps, watts and Hz. You can buy the Kill A Watt online from several vendors for less than $20.

Smart Strip Power Strips
Smart Strip
If you're not too keen on going around unplugging appliances and electrical devices before going to bed and leaving for work or school every day, try power strips. With one flip of a switch, you'll cut the power to every device plugged into the strip.

Even better is the Smart Strip from Bits Ltd. Plug your computer and/or TV into the blue "Control Outlet" and all peripherals that don't need to be powered 24 hours/day into the white "Automatically Switched Outlets." When the Smart Strip senses that you've turned off your computer or TV, it will automatically cut the power to these peripherals as well. Any peripheral that you want to remain on (say a digital video recorder) should be plugged into a "Constant Hot Outlet."

The various models of Smart Strips run from $31 to $48. For more info, visit Bits Ltd.
Green_City_USAGreen City, USA
Wind Turbine
Thanks to a reader in Bellingham, WA for letting us know that Whatcom County in northern Washington State has just taken a very big step toward promoting renewable energy.

Citing the County's goals of reducing fossil fuel consumption, promoting healthy air quality and protecting the community's environment, the Whatcom County Council voted unanimously on October 21 to pass an ordinance allowing individuals to erect wind turbines on private property.

The purpose of the ordinance is to facilitate the installation and construction of wind energy systems for private landowners, subject to reasonable restrictions. All wind energy systems with a rated output of 100 kW or less are now outright permitted in all zones.

Previously, residents were required to apply for a Conditional Use Permit for any wind turbine exceeding the existing height limitations in its zone. Now, an individual can install a wind turbine on his or her property without notifying neighbors, taking public comments, or obtaining special approval.

Restrictions include:
  • tower height must not exceed 100 feet (unless the owner provides in writing that the height requested is the minimum height necessary for the system to operate properly)
  • must be set back from neighboring property lines at least 1.2 times the tower's height
  • at its lowest point, the blade tip must clear the ground by no less than 15 feet
  • must be no louder than 55 decibels from a neighboring property line
  • must be painted a non-reflective, unobtrusive color
  • must not be artificially lighted, unless required by the FAA
  • must not be used for displaying or advertising
Click here to read the ordinance in its entirety.
LA_ConfidentialL.A. Confidential

Events and other stuff for Angelinos:

Upcoming TeachingGreen Workshop

Wednesday, November 19: Whole Foods logo
Making Your Home a Friend to Mother Nature, Part I (Green Building and Energy Conservation)

Time: 7:00 - 8:30pm
Location: Whole Foods Market, 2655 PCH, Torrance, CA 90505
Cost: Suggested donation $5
For more info, visit www.teachinggreen.org.

LA Green Drinks

Relax, have a drink, make new friends, network and share ideas with others interested in environmental issues.

LA Green Drinks - West Side: 1st Thursday of the month
LA Green Drinks - South Bay: 2nd Thursday
LA Green Drinks - West Hollywood/Silver Lake: 3rd Thursday
LA Green Drinks - Downtown: 4th Wednesday
LA Green Drinks - Valley: 4th Thursday

For times and locations, visit: lagreendrinks.blogspot.com.

Tackling the Water Crisis Forum

Date: Friday, November 14
Time: Reception 6:00pm; Program 7:00pm
Location: Pacific Unitarian Church, 5621 Monetemalaga Drive, Rancho Palos Verdes 90275
Cost: Suggested donation $5

Lake mead droughtA sweeping UN report warns of a global water crisis caused by population growth, pollution, and climate change. It predicts that the average water supply per person will fall by a third in 15 years. Meanwhile California's severe drought condition, as well as the drought-stricken Colorado River, are a threat to local water supplies. The Environmental Priorities Network will be holding a public forum to discuss the causes of and possible solutions to these problems.

The forum will feature presentations by two local water quality and supply experts:

Conner Everts, Executive Director of Southern California Watershed Alliance, will speak about ocean water desalination, greywater, water privatization, maximizing wastewater reuse and water policy for this century and beyond.

Fernando Paludi, Manager of Planning and Water Resources at West Basin Municipal Water District, will speak about the impact of a growing population, water projects, dwindling Sierra Nevada snowpack and competition for Colorado River water on the drought in West.

For more information and to register, contact Lillian Light, 310-545-1384,    [email protected].

Weekly LALALA's Annual LOHAS Fair

Date: Sunday, November 16
Time: Noon - 6:00pm
Location: Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center,1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd, Redondo Beach 90278
Cost: $10

This fifth anniversary event by the Japanese weekly newspaper LALALA Redondo Beach Performing Arts Centertargets Japanese people interested in environmental issues and healthy food.

This year's speakers will be TeachingGreen's founder, Kathleen Jacecko, who will discuss "going green" here in Los Angeles, and Eric Lechasseur, macrobiotic chef to celebrities such as Madonna and Tobey Maguire, and his wife Sanae Suzuki. The event will also feature a yoga instructor who will demonstrate some basic yoga poses, and several vendors offering organic, vegan, and otherwise eco-friendly products.

To buy tickets, contact Noriko Kashiwakura at [email protected].


Interested in alternative energy? Concerned about global warming?

Wouldn't it be great if you could meet like-minded individuals who share your pMeetupassions about environmental issues? You can, with www.meetup.com.

To search for groups in your community, just enter the topic(s) you're interested in and your zip. Joining is easy and once you do, you'll be invited to join other meetup group members at relevant events in your area.

It's a great way to meet new friends and organize for a cause!

Worth_your_timeWorth Your Time

Blue Vinyl
2004, Available on DVD
Blue Vinyl
Judith Helfand, activist filmmaker and cancer survivor, is on a mission to persuade her parents to forgo new vinyl siding for their house, and opt for a safe, healthy alternative instead. Armed with a piece of blue vinyl siding, Helfand and fellow filmmaker Daniel B. Gold set out to reveal the potentially toxic effects of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is used in everything from vinyl siding to shower curtains to toys. In order to build her case against PVC, she and Gold head to Louisiana, America's vinyl-manufacturing capital, and to Italy, where executives from a PVC-producing company stand accused of manslaughter.

It turns out to be more difficult than expected to find a healthy, affordable and attractive alternative to vinyl siding. But if you care at all about human health and the environment, this documentary will leave you wanting to rid the world of all PVC - vinyl siding and all the rest.

"Funny and irreverent! One of Sundance's best documentaries."
- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"The Green Building Movement may have just acquired its first cult film."
- Environmental Building News.

"An amusing and irreverent but also resonant expos´┐Ż...Entertaining in its sardonic style...Blue Vinyl allows the industry its rather laughable say, but presents a scientifically persuasive case that PVC chemicals are now getting into the atmosphere, groundwater, and the food chain. Recommended." - Video Librarian

For more info visit www.bullfrogfilms.com.

Good_NewsGood News!

Newfound Rainforest Fungus Makes Diesel Compounds From Cellulose

BOZEMAN, Montana, November 4, 2008 (ENS) - A unique fungus that makes diesel compounds directly from cellulose has been discovered living in trees in the Patagonian rainforest.
"These are the first organisms that have been found that make many of the ingredients of diesel," said Professor Gary Strobel from Montana State University. "This is a major discovery."

The discovery may offer an alternative to fossil fuels, said Strobel, MSU professor of plant sciences and plant pathology, who travels the world looking for exotic plants that may contain beneficial microbes. The find is even bigger, he said, than his 1993 discovery of fungus that...

Click here for full article.
Support_TGSupport TeachingGreen

Three ways you can help:

1. Bring us your people

Actually, we'll come to you.Compact Fluorescent bulb

In addition to public workshops, we also give presentations for groups, schools, and businesses. Are you a member of a community group, alumni group, Mom's group, church group, or any other kind of group? Have a business you're trying to green and want to get your employees on board?

If so, we would love to come and give a presentation or two for your group! We give presentations on specific issues, such as transportation, food and household toxics, and we also offer a general overview of sustainable living.

Visit www.teachinggreen.org to learn more and to request a presentation.

2. Volunteer or intern with TeachingGreen

We are seeking interns and volunteers to help further our mission of helping people reduce the environmental impact of their personal and professional lives. We need help with curriculum development, fund raising and outreach. Your involvement will help us to grow the organization so that we can reach more people with the message of sustainability.

For more information, contact Kathleen Jacecko at 310-372-7484 or [email protected].

3. Become a member of TeachingGreen

We are a 501(c)3 organization, so all donations are fully tax-deductible. Your support helps us spread the message of sustainability via workshops, presentations, our wesite and this newsletter. We currenlty operate only in Los Angeles, but even if you don't live here, remember that when we act locally, we help the global environment as well as the local environment.

To make a tax-deductible donation to TeachingGreen, click here.

TeachingGreen is a 501(c)3 organization, and as such, we depend on tax-deductible donations from treehuggers like you! If you'd like to become a member, see the Quick Links above.

We hope you find this newsletter helpful and informative, and should you have any suggestions, questions or general comments, we'd love to hear from you.

Kathleen Jacecko