Tuesday, December 1, 2015

In Bill Gate's We Trust!

After hearing all the chatter about the Paris Climate Talks yesterday I was feeling a little down about our near term ability to combat climate change.   We are just talking about trying to reduce the rising of emissions not reduce emissions all together.  Commerce, industry, and simply one person's survival are driving emission levels higher and higher all over the world.  Experts understand that it's not just about setting emission number goals and standards, it's about changing the way we live.  And we would have to change a lot just to stop the world's emission levels from rising.   Oh yeah, in case you were wondering I am feeling a little more optimistic today.  Why?  Because the same guy who created the operating system for the computer I'm using right now is in this fight, and he's working diligently to bring other investors on board as well with the Breakthrough Energy Coalition.

Mr. Bill Gates is funding and encouraging the funding for efforts to find alternative forms of energy.   He believes the energy sectors complacency to develop alternative energy make it open to disturbance and change. In addition, Mr. Gates spent his day yesterday at the Paris Climate Talks trying to influence leaders of nations to create their own environmental R&D units.  He believes we could find viable alternative energy sources with in the next ten to twenty years.  I believe the more brains working on all aspects of our environmental problems the better our planet's chances (don't forget building materials).  Thanks for reading!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Is the Climate Change Talk in Paris just Talk?

Today in Paris 150 heads of state including President Obama are meeting to discuss climate change. These leaders are in Paris hoping to negotiate and agree on strong measures that will reduce rising emissions worldwide.   As part of this negotiation the world's leaders are hoping to develop a system that will allow other nations to verify emissions reductions in participating countries.  That should work great!  Excuse my Volkswagon related sarcasm but I don't hold much faith in this concept.  I'm not saying nations don't want to reduce emissions rather I'm trying to point out it's much easier said than done.  When under the scrutiny of other nations, let's face it some countries in this world seem completely ok with cheating,  That's clearly going to happen with an agreement like this but my biggest concern is that we don't have all the solutions to our environmental problems, we're not even close.   Do these leaders understand that?  Of course, the summit will focus on fossil fuels which is only about half our total emissions.  A fossil fuel alternative like solar power is a viable solution, wind power is awesome too but how sunny and windy is it in all parts of the world? I'm guessing but I think it's pretty safe to say all these nations will not currently have viable alternatives that will allow them to reduce emissions. That's why this summit is just talk for me.    

I'd feel much better if this was a summit about solutions and not emissions numbers.  Solutions like how can we manufacture steel without it being the No. 1 emissions producer on our planet?  How can we create an electrical grid that doesn't lose half our energy?  How can we produce building materials without incurring the severe environmental effects caused by mining and deforestation?  Some might say we have more environmental problems that need to be solved than we have solutions.  Sustained success in reducing the world's emissions is going to take a lot more innovation than talk.  Just a thought...

Monday, November 16, 2015

DIY Green Friendly Remodeling

Can you do it yourself when it comes to eco-friendly remodeling?   Most definitely you can!  In this blog we'll share a few things that you can do to make your remodeling project as green friendly as possible.  Fortunately the trends of today align with what's good for our planet.

You've probably already heard this one but it really could impact our planet if more of us did it, repurpose and reuse everything you can.  Being able to create repurposed items in your home like furniture and woodwork will add unmatched custom features to your home.  It will also fit into the popular styles of today.

Eco-friendly building materials, use them if you can find them.  Procuring eco-friendly building materials is a little trickier today than it should be but if you do some research you may find that you can purchase some things locally.  Backing up a step it's important to understand what's eco-friendly when it comes to building materials and what's not.  Look for things made from recycled materials, pretty much anything created from recycled materials would be consider eco-friendly.   Building materials made from renewable materials like bamboo and cork would be considered green friendly.

Finally, keep it non-toxic...  We have so many toxic things around us in our homes and offices and they all usually end up buried in the Earth somewhere not too far away. Well that's after they may or may not have impacted our health.  Indoor air quality can be five times worse than the air quality outside.  The toxic things in our home probably have a lot to do with that, it's time to take a stand and go non-toxic!  Whether it's flooring, paint, furniture, cabinets or even things like wallboard and countertops, non-toxic options are out there.  They cost a little more but are well worth your health and peace of mind.  Thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Climate Change and Politics

I think most people have seen the movie 'The Day After Tomorrow'.  If you haven't it's a movie about climate change which depicts global warming causing the Earth to undergo a major climate shift.  How realistic the movie actually is I hope we never find out.  I'm referring to it because I think it shows the complicated nature of fighting climate change and politics.   The political parties in our country seem to be on the opposite sides of climate change belief and counteraction.  Making things even more complicated is one of the leading Republican candidates probably has bigger carbon footprint than some 3rd world nations.  So many things have to change in order for us to begin to be effective in this battle against climate change.  If the U.S. political parties are in a winded debate about this topic, I fear it will take decades before effective change can be implemented.  My opinion is that small business innovation and good old capitalism will be the jump start in effectively battling climate change.  But we're going to need more politicians along for the ride...

Monday, September 28, 2015

Repurposed Remodel Ideas

Repurposed isn't just for furniture   Given the right circumstances a home remodel can be loaded with repurposed features and recycled content from the previous design.  We fortunately live in a time when saving things is pretty cool, stylish, and completely custom and unique.  Trends have aligned in the Earth's favor and we hope this blog gives you some ideas during  your next remodel.  Not only is fashionable but it can also save you some serious money by eliminating cost of new goods.  And of course, using repurposed items during a remodel is great for our planet!

So, how can you incorporate repurposed items into your remodel?  Well obviously a lot depends on on the home you are intending to remodel.  The age, style of home, and general construction will depict how much you can repurpose or will want to repurpose.  One of the most stylish items in a home you can repurpose is definitely wood.   Any solid  wood removed from the home (especially beams) could be repurposed into the new design or even used in repurposed furniture for the home.   The reclaimed wood can also be used for custom built ins, closets, and general shelving. Also, you can look for ways to recycle or repurpose any lighting or glass that you take out of the home.   Finally, the cabinetry and vanities in the home can also be repurposed of refurbished making them more modern with alterations and color changes.

I hope these repurposed ideas help you with your next green friendly remodel!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

From Dreary to Dreamy: A Small Kitchen Makeover

Small, dark, galley kitchen…these all sound like dirty words when it comes to most people’s “dream” kitchens. Yet just because you started out with a dark, narrow, or small space, does not mean you need to give up. There are multiple ways in which a kitchen can be taken from drab to green and fabulous! 

Through the use of eco-friendly building materials like bamboo your kitchen can be redesigned to be beautiful, inviting, and non-toxic. Custom, earth friendly bamboo cabinets can be custom built for narrow spaces, creating elongated and clean storage for any kitchen. By extending kitchen cabinets to the ceiling is a design that encourages the observer's eye to travel upward, giving the entire space a larger and airy feel. Complete a cabinet redesign by adding simple, modern hardware to bring any kitchen into the 21st century. Incorporating a custom color pallet in light, inviting colors further aids in giving any kitchen space a more open feel. However, if installing new cabinetry is not an option, simply changing the color from dark wood tones to cool, lighter tones allows the entire space to quickly seem more open, as this will allow the cabinets to receded into the similar cool tones of the walls. By further complimenting a single pallet kitchen with bold accent pieces, such as colorful kitchen island cabinetry, a strategic "pop" of interest can be added to a room used as one of the most general convening areas in any home.

When possible, incorporating solar tubes into a kitchen lighting design can not only save energy but add a sleek, beautiful, and environmentally friendly twist to any room. Solar lighting is a brilliant way to and natural illumination to a room where lighting is not only an accent, but also critical to functionality. Additional recessed lighting or single, large focal point lighting can also be added to compliment any contemporary redesign. 
Finally, adding beautiful, non-toxic, environmentally friendly flooring like bamboo, reclaimed wood, or marmoleum in a lengthwise pattern will complete making the space look and feel larger and more inviting.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Economy Friendly Eco-friendly

Economy Friendly Eco-friendly, what?  No, you read it right.  Economy Friendly Eco-friendly is my almost catchy label for one of the biggest factors impeding our fight against climate change.  See, there are some politicians and economists alike that are concerned with economic consequences that would result by eliminating heavy green house gas polluting industries and processes.  While our scientists around the world are conversely contemplating what will happen if we do nothing.  The complexity of our environmental problem could never be overstated.  First, it's clear we have to come up with new manufacturing processes or products that don't produce mass amounts of greenhouse gas pollution.   We've already developed some of these solutions but we have a long way to go before we can eliminate the greenhouse gas pollution created from manufacturing things like steel or concrete, or consuming fossil fuels like oil and coal.  Assuming huge strides are made and we come up with replacements for all these heavy polluters, we then need to make sure the roll out of these new processes or products doesn't hurt the U.S. or world economies in a significant way.   A lot of things need to happen in order for us to begin to begin reversing climate change.  Things like wind and solar power, electric motors, green friendly building materials, repurposed furniture, and other green ideas will have to be most prominent if we have any chance to undo what we've done.  Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Road to a Non-toxic Home

Sixty years ago the world went through what some people refer to as the chemical age.  Toxic chemicals emerged on the scene being used for almost everything including things like pesticides, household & industrial cleaners, and even in our food.  Over time we learned much about the affects of these chemicals to our health and to the well being of our environment.  Many chemicals have been eliminated all together because they created so much harm.  We’ve discovered things like VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) are pretty harmful to our health.  You probably heard about formaldehyde in recent news, the latest toxic chemical to be scrutinized.  We once thought that chemicals like formaldehyde were ok if they were hidden under a layer of plywood or particleboard.  We’ve realized that even though these toxins are with in a sealed surface, they can still omit into the air because of things like off gassing.  Changes in the temperature and humidity can actually draw toxins into your home’s air.  Many air quality experts say that a home’s indoor air quality can actually be three times worse than the air quality outside.  Asthma and other breathing issues have been dramatically rising over the last few decades.  Air Purification systems have been developed all over the world to help combat this problem.  Medical experts have continuously connected indoor air quality to breathing problems like asthma and COPD.  Creating a non-toxic home is the only way to completely ensure you are getting the best air quality possible.  How? Non-toxic kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities are very important because they are in areas of higher humidity susceptible to off gassing.  Non-toxic paint is also a great way to ensure toxins aren’t seeping into your home’s air from the walls.  Non-toxic flooring is also available in all types and make sure any wall coverings or reclaimed wood is non-toxic.  Believe it or not but there is non-toxic furniture on the market, considering the proximity to us and our kids a non-toxic couch sounds pretty important.  We could be headed toward a non-toxic world, I hope it can help reverse asthma and COPD statistics.  Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Clean Power Plan - The Third View

I'm going to start this out by telling you that I nor the Paper Blog have any political affiliation or do we care to share our political philosophy.  It is the environment we're focused on and we feel we have a pretty good way of combating climate change in our specialty, green building materials and eco-friendly remodeling.  With that being said, I'm going to share my thoughts about the current Clean Power Plan.  Now, I only know the basics of the plan that include carbon emissions reduction guidelines for U.S. coal power plants.  Simple enough, a plan that forces power plants to reduce their carbon emissions or I guess they'll be breaking a law.  Newsflash everybody, large corporations in this country break U.S. laws everyday, ok not sure where I was going with that.  Back to the Clean Power Plan, the opposition to this bill is up in arms stating that the plan will raise electricity costs, hurt our economy, etc etc.  I think we can all understand both sides of this argument.  Yes, we would love to reduce emissions from heavy polluting coal power plants.   No, we don't want consumer's electrical costs to go up or our fragile economy to be impacted.  This old song and dance, how about we sing a different tune.   In my mind we need to be more focused on finding actual solutions to the problems.  Problems like how can we effectively create and distribute electricity without causing emissions or other environmental consequences?  How can we manufacture our most prominent goods, building materials and other products without causing emissions, deforestation, or land destruction from mining?  How can we eliminate landfills and nuclear waste?  We have a lot more questions than answers when it comes to solving our environmental problems.  I vote for a plan that sets deadlines to finding solutions to these problems and  I commend those eco-pioneers in green building materials for doing their part!  Thanks for reading.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Furniture’s impact on Earth, we can do better!

If you want to know how much impact our furniture has on the environment just do a quick web search.  There are tons of opinions out there on the topic but to be honest a lot of the information I read didn’t really tell me much.  As a result, we figured we’d chime in on the topic here at Paper Blog as our world’s furniture consumption is enormous and significantly impacts our planet.  In the U.S. alone, retail sales for furniture is in excess of $100 billion a year with over 30,000 retail sales outlets and a few thousand manufacturers who mostly import product from Asia.  This doesn’t factor in all of the used furniture outlets like craigslist, salvation army, consignment stores, garage sales, newspaper listings, office furniture, etc.   Our homes and businesses are loaded with different furniture pieces of all kinds.  The reality is that we manufacture a lot of new furniture on planet Earth when we have a ton of furniture already available to us.  So, what harm does new furniture have on our environment?  There are obvious things like deforestation as the core of any furniture is typically made with wood.  Some lower cost furniture is made with alternative products like MDF or particle board.  These materials are even more harmful to our environment because of the significant emissions from the toxic glues and chemicals used in the construction.  Furniture waste would also have to be considered, a lot of furniture ends up in U.S. landfills letting toxic paints, glues, and chemicals seep into the Earth.  All in all, it’s easy to see furniture consumption has significant environmental consequences much like our current building materials.  It’s also easy to see we have simple solutions like recycling to create repurposed furniture (upcycled furniture).  Repurposed (upcycled) furniture is currently just a tiny fraction of overall furniture sales so big changes would need to take place in order for the environment to benefit.  I hope the popularity of repurposed furniture (upcycled furniture) continues to grow in the world as it provides considerable environmental benefits as it eliminates both the manufacturing of a new item and the addition of waste to a landfill.  It would be great to see a day when a repurposed (upcycled) piece of furniture is more valuable and stylish then new furniture. That would be a good day for the planet, thanks for reading!