Friday, July 31, 2009

Why Should I Choose Reusable over Recyclable??

Ever heard this? "I don't need to carry my own reusable water bottle. I'll just recycle this disposable one later."

It might sound like a reasonable compromise, but let's not delude ourselves here. Sure, recycling can have a green impact, but it's important to be able to triage one supposedly green action above another. For the skeptical among you, getting lulled into the recycling catch-all can seem like an easy way to be green -- or, in the case of skeptics among us, feel like you're being green. Add to that that it can be easy to confuse greener and green, and it can become quite problematic.

Recycling vs. reuse turns out to be a matter of perception, most of the time. When you think of recycling, you might think of a shiny, efficient factory where old plastic bottles are processed and turned into new bottles at the snap of a finger; old stuff goes in, new stuff comes out, but that's not the whole story; plastic's chemistry, and a couple of other factors, give the reusable water bottle (and other objects with similar lifecycle designs) a big edge. In short, there's a reason that it's Reduce, then Reuse, then Recycle.

How Plastic Recycling Works
Let's take a look at how plastic recycling works. First, we have to consider where the plastic bottle comes from to begin with. It should surprise no one that plastic is a petroleum product, a non-renewable resource; once the oil gets used to make that plastic, that's pretty much all it will ever be -- there's no going back. When it comes time to recycle it, and you drop it in the blue bin and forget about it, but that's just the beginning. Recycling involves essentially re-melting and re-casting the plastic. Though, manufacturing new plastic from recycled plastic requires two-thirds of the energy used in virgin plastic manufacturing, recycled plastic isn't often used for the same products over and over again.

But, as any chef who has ever tried to re-heat a Hollondaise sauce will tell you, the quality isn't quite as good the second time around; the same goes for plastic. Plastic is made from a series of polymer chains -- you might remember the term from high school chemistry -- and those polymer chains (learn more about them from Wikipedia) often break during the heating and melting process of recycling. What does this mean to you? Plastic is often downcycled as it is recycled, leading to a lower and lower-grade product; eventually, all it's good for is as another space hog in the landfill. And that ain't green, no matter how you look at it.

How Reusing Plastic Bottles (and Other Stuff) Works
Contrast that with reusable water bottle model: You get one (if you prefer plastic, BPA-free, please) and haul it around with you. Enjoy bottle after bottle of fresh, clean, delicious tap water, while cosidering this number: Tap water has less than one percent of the environmental impact of bottled water. Recycling, and bottled water, and most everything else on the planet, does not exist in a vaccuum; that is to say, it is totally unreasonable to just compare the vessels and leave the contents (and everything else associated with them) out of the equation. There really are a million reasons to ditch bottled water.

Bottled water can be a little tricky to avoid entirely, but there's no reason to use it every day, and no reason to think that you can simply recycle your way out of disposability. All of our stuff has to go somewhere, so it's best to keep as much of it with you for as many cycles as possible.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Obama & China aim for Green

President Barack Obama today says the U.S. and China have a shared interest in creating clean and secure energy sources.

As the world’s largest energy consumers, Obama said that neither country profits from a dependence on foreign oil. He also said neither country will be able to combat climate change unless they work together. Speaking at the opening of talks with a visiting Chinese delegation, Obama said the best way to develop new sources of energy is to “keep our markets open to new ideas.”

Monday, July 27, 2009

SME business stimulus package

Last week Green Cleaners was a proud partner of Google's new Stimulus Package for SME's in Singapore.

The FIRST 100 SMEs (without a website) to request for the Singapore Business Stimulus Package will get a company website created for free by the SME Infocomm Resource Center @Singapore Polytechnic (SIRC@SP). If you are not one of the first 100, you can still have your company website built by SIRC@SP for just S$180.

ALL applicants of the Singapore Business Stimulus Package will also be given a chance to receive S$100 of free advertising on Google. Recipients will be contacted by a Google accredited representative whom will assist in the account set up and using the ad credits. Additionally, recipients will receive complimentary ad campaign creation.

This offer ends on 31 August 2009; interested SMEs can sign up for the business stimulus package at

Monday, July 20, 2009

Clean Your Carpets the Eco-Friendly Way

You can find modern carpets made out of recycled content that don't negatively affect indoor quality. However, most carpets have plenty of negative environmental impacts. Recycling a carpet can be quite a hassle, and when filthy, a carpet can disturb the indoor air quality of your home. And cleaning a carpet may require the use of ridiculously potent and toxic chemicals.

There are alternative ways to clean and freshen your carpet that do not require the use of such abrasive materials. here's how, with a idea for making Homemade Carpet Freshener idea:
1 cup crushed, dried herbs (rosemary, southernwood, and lavender are good choices)
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
Combine ingredients, and sprinkle over carpet. Allow to sit for a few minutes, then vacuum.

Here are a couple variations of that mixture:
Mix 1 small box baking soda with your favorite potpourri oil, using just a few drops, and sprinkle on as carpet freshener. Leave on a carpet 10 to 20 minutes, then vacuum.

Use 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup cornstarch, and 15 drops essential oil fragrance. Leave on carpet 10 to 20 minutes, then vacuum. Store mixture in a glass jar or airtight container.

You can grow the majority of this stuff in your own garden or window box. Cleaning your carpet regularly will drastically increase the quality of your indoor air and cleaning your carpet with eco-friendly materials will also allow you to breathe easier.

For a deep cleaning, try;

Mix together: 1/4 c. vegetable oil-based liquid soap and 3 tbsp. (or more) water. Whip ingredients in bowl with egg beater. Rub foam into problem areas of the rug. Rinse well with water.

If you have any tips of your own, feel free to share with us too! :)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Eco tourism and turtles for Pulau Upeh

The state government is planning to turn deserted Pulau Upeh into a centre for Hawksbill turtle conservation as well as an eco-tourism attraction. The island is the country's main landing site for the critically-endangered sea turtle species which belongs to the family Cheloniidae.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said the state government would be working with a private investor for this purpose and the planned development would include upgrading the 120 chalets that had been abandoned for 10 years and the construction of new ones.

"The island was initially bought by Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) and was supposed to be turned into its training centre but the plan did not materialise. We have now bought the island back for RM6.5 million and would be developing it with the private sector. Work on the island will begin next month and is expected to be completed in a year. The shores around the island will be preserved for turtle conservation."

Ali said this after witnessing the signing of a memorandum of understanding on the purchase of the island between Chief Minister Incorporated (CMI) and TNB. CMI was represented by Malacca State Secretary Datuk Omar Kaseh and TNB by its president and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Che Khalib Mohamad Noh.

Ali said Pulau Upeh had the potential to be the next big tourism attraction in the state. He added that its location, close to the Klebang beach, made it easily accessible. "The island would also be a stone's throw from the soon to be constructed RM250 million Arab City Klebang," he said, adding that the island could be accessed via boat from Sungai Melaka or the Boat Explorer jetty in Klebang.

Ali said tourists could visit the island to catch a glimpse of the Hawksbill turtle and this would also be promoted by the state. "I have asked the state Tourism Promotion Board to look into offering packages for tourists to visit Pulau Upeh," he added.

Every year, between 200 to 300 Hawksbill turtle nests are identified in Pulau Upeh and the nearby beaches. This population is significant as it is the largest nesting congregation in Peninsular Malaysia.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

ExxonMobil to make fuel from algae

ExxonMobil and biotech firm Synthetic Genomics (SGI) have announced a new alliance to produce alternative fuel made from photosynthetic algae. ExxonMobil expects to spend more than $600 million on the project--$300 million internally and another $300 million to SGI if key R&D milestones are met.

Under the partnership, SGI will research and develop systems to grow large amounts of algae and convert them into biofuels. ExxonMobil will provide engineering and scientific talent throughout different phases of the project, from increasing the level of algae production to manufacturing the final product.

"Meeting the world's growing energy demands will require a multitude of technologies and energy sources," said Emil Jacobs, vice president of research and development at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company. "We believe that biofuel produced by algae could be a meaningful part of the solution in the future if our efforts result in an economically viable, low net carbon emission transportation fuel."

In an economic climate that has made life tougher for alternative-energy companies, ExxonMobil is wading into biofuel waters that recently swallowed a once promising algae-minded start-up, GreenFuel Technologies, which said in May that it had run out of funds and would be shutting down. Still, other smaller companies such as PetroAlgae and Aurora Biofuels remain hopeful about commercial production of algae biofuel.

Algae is one of a number of potential alternative fuel sources, though many of the others, like ethanol, are derived from plants also used for food. Algae also can thrive in a variety of conditions.

Based in California, Synthetic Genomics is a privately held company that develops energy solutions based on genomics research.

SGI says it's spent several years working on a way to harvest the oil produced by photosynthetic algae. Past methods have proven costly and time consuming, but SGI says its process for collecting the oil has so far proven more efficient and cost-effective, though work remains to be done.

"The real challenge to creating a viable next generation biofuel is the ability to produce it in large volumes which will require significant advances in both science and engineering," J. Craig Venter, CEO of SGI, said in a statement. "The alliance between SGI and ExxonMobil will bring together the complementary capabilities and expertise of both companies to develop innovative solutions that could lead to the large scale production of biofuel from algae."

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Keppel go greener with eco-efficient elevators

Singapore developer Keppel Land is taking sustainable development one step further with the use of eco-friendly elevators for its iconic development, Reflections at Keppel Bay.

“A BCA Gold Green Mark award development, Reflections at Keppel Bay is another good example of Keppel’s commitment to develop properties which harmonise with the environment and enhance the quality of life of our homeowners,” says Augustine Tan, CEO, Singapore Residential, Keppel Land.

Keppel will be using Kone elevators that will increase the development´s eco-efficiency. 49 KONE MonoSpace elevators and 18 KONE MiniSpace elevators powered by the KONE Eco Disc will be used.

This will result in about 70 percent reduction in energy costs compared to a hydraulic elevator and 50 percent less compared to a geared traction elevator.

Keppel said this significant reduction in energy consumption and electricity usage will have a direct impact in lessening the development’s carbon footprint.

Typically, buildings make up about 40 percent of the global energy consumption with elevators consuming some 5 to10 percent of the building’s entire energy consumption.

Nine units of the KONE MiniSpace elevators in the high-rise residential blocks at Reflections at Keppel Bay will be equipped with the KONE regenerative system.

This system has a regenerative ability which regenerates power back to the owner´s supply network for the use in lighting of the building.

All elevators are capable of switching to standby mode turning off the lights and fans, a few minutes after the last trip.

Other “green” features in the development include the use of double-glazed and low emissivity glass to reduce heat, homes will also be provided with energy-efficient refrigerators, washing machines and inverter air-conditioning.

A system of filtration and underground tanks will be collecting and recycling rainwater for landscaping.

Reflections by Keppel Land, is certified Gold under the Building Construction & Authority´s (BCA) Green Mark scheme, along with its three previous developments, namely, Madison Residences, The Promont and Six Avenue Residences.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Start the Dance

Most people buy into the idea that one person can’t possibly have an impact on the environment. We hope you are not one of those people! By being a friend of Green Cleaners, you’ve expressed a conviction that the power to bring about change is yours, through actions as simple as replacing light bulbs, adjusting the thermostat, carrying your own shopping bag – and the way you choose to clean your home.

I'd like to share this video or how one person's actions can start something incredible! :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Toyota to mass-produce plug-ins in 2012

Toyota Motor plans to start mass-producing plug-in hybrid cars in 2012, according a report.

The Japanese business newspaper Nikkei said on Saturday that the first year's production is expected to be about 20,000 to 30,000 cars.

Current Priuses use nickel metal hydride batteries, but for its plug-in vehicles Toyota plans to use lithium ion batteries developed and made through a joint venture with Panasonic.

The plug-in hybrid cars from Toyota will be able to go between 12 and 18 miles on a battery charge alone, according to the paper, which Reuters cited.

There will be a wave of plug-in electric sedans coming to market over the next two years. In addition to a plug-in Prius, Toyota is making an all-electric city car called the FT-EV, which is expected in 2012.

The highly anticipated 2011 Chevy Volt is scheduled to go into production in late 2010. Unlike a traditional hybrid, the Volt will run entirely off its batteries and use the internal combustion engine to charge the battery for rides longer than 40 miles.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Eco trained kids

A primary school for girls is to begin a project with the Japanese-developed environmental education system called “Kids ISO 14,000 Programme”, which will be extended to all Qatari schools subsequently.

Al Israa Independent Primary Girls School’s principle Amina Ali al-Saadi said yesterday during a meeting with visiting Japanese professor Takaya Kawabe that the “Kids ISO 14000 Programme” would be introduced in September as a science extra-curricular activity, during study hours.

Kawabe explained that the “Kids ISO 14000” is an environmental education programme system for children aimed at stimulating environmental awareness.

It has been developed by ArTech (the Art & Technology Co-operation Organisation non-profit, non-governmental organisation), and is one of the UN-supported programmes, expanding internationally through the UN Education Programme (UNEP), UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO).

“The children will learn to tackle environmental issues via the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle”, he said. Kawabe explained that the cycle begins with the children being the leaders of the programme, learning how to take initiative and solve problems.

Trained Eco-Kids instructors evaluate their work and those who meet requirements receive international certificates.

Kawabe pointed out that the programme is set to be introduced to children at the age of 10. “They start the introductory level and go through primary, middle and finally highest level,” he explained.

The expert noted that environmental education is a priority as global and local environmental issues are becoming pronounced as a result to human activities.

He stressed the need for teaching children the management of their behaviour as individuals and groups, and noted that it is important for people to possess the group work concept.

“This can be understood by considering the fact that one country alone cannot stop the increase of greenhouse emissions,” he stated.

Kawabe said that the programme develops the children’s sensitivity to a good or bad environment, nature’s mechanism and sustainability, as well as the understanding of the impact of human activity in nature, and encouraging them to work together locally and globally to reduce the impact.

Kawabe said that more than 210,000 children and their families have participated in the programme since 2000. More than 85% of children can accomplish it.

Kawabe noted that the increase in number would be accelerated through the international implementation of the programme in many countries.

He said that the programme’s effectiveness is increased when adopted as a complete package including workbooks, implementation videos, training courses, evaluation system and management methodology.

“The package takes into consideration the language, culture, environment and life style of each country,” he added.