GE and Google Team up for the Environment 
One small step for Google, one giant leap for greenkind. You heard right - two corporate giants are actually putting aside their differences and joining together for the common good. Google announced at its annual Zeitgeist conference last week that it has just secured a deal with GE to develop a geothermal power unit to convert the Earth's heat into energy to power the country.

Deep in the reaches of Silicon Valley, Google gathered major tech players at its headquarters and released details about the upcoming plans. Google CEO Eric Schmidt and GE chief Jeff Immelt explained that their deal will include the creation of the technology necessary for plug-in vehicles to return electricity to a large grid.

A structure will be developed to capture the Earth's heat, which Google already has a head start on. It invested $11 million dollars in the project in August in order to start things off. GE signing on is simply the last piece of the puzzle, and it plans to do what it does best - deliver electricity to the masses.

According to Immelt, "There’s two fundamental things that have to be done, and which we’re working with Google on. One, there has to be more capacity. The second thing is there has to be a smart grid to allow it to operate more effectively. That’s primarily software. We make the hardware."

Wow, we have to say that we're impressed, and looking forward to seeing how this deal works out. Thanks to Google and GE, we may be one step closer to a greener planet.

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Cut Back on Staples, Save the Planet? 
According to Friends of the Earth in the United Kingdom, if “each of the UK’s 10 million office workers used one less staple a day, that could save 120 tonnes of steel a year.” Imagine how many tons we could save if office workers here I the U.S. did the same?

Two other tips from the Friends:

Encourage your company to use reusable cups and glasses instead of paper.

Do you really have time to read all the business periodicals to which you subscribe at work? Didn’t think so – unsubscribe. suggests you check to “see if your office uses fair trade coffees and teas.”

Remember, says , the “greenest paper is no paper at all.” So if you think you need to print something out, think twice. Do you REALLY need it in hard copy now? Could you save it on your hard drive or on a zip file and print it out some other time? also recommends that, when looking for recycled printer paper, look for paper “with a high percentage of post-consumer content and a the minimum of chlorine bleaching.”

Avoid purchasing clothes that need to be dry cleaned, continues. The dry cleaning process emits harmful chemicals into the atmosphere – and costs a pretty penny, as well. In addition, consider purchasing your office attire from thrift stores. It may take more time – if you need a little black dress for Friday’s office Christmas soiree, you may not find it at Goodwill Thursday night – but you will be amazed at the almost new and brand new professional clothing you can find at your local thrift.

Talk to your employer about working at home. Keeping your car off the road at least one day a week goes a long way to keeping your carbon emissions down, especially if you stay home consistently (and if you don’t drive out to a restaurant for dinner because you. Must. Get. Out. Of. The. House. Since. You’ve. Been. Inside. All. Day).

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Hail the Green Coffin Yes, We Said Coffin  
We don’t make these up....

This one we rather like, since we’re “in” furniture and all. Seems an Los Angeles-based (although their website doesn’t say exactly where in LA) bunch of green-minded folks have taken the idea of recycling to the grave - and back – by retooling 18-gauge steel coffins into couches.

Now before you get your knickers in a total twist, no, these coffins were never, um, used. It’s against the law for funeral directors to resell coffins that have been occupied by a dearly departed. Instead, these coffins were never sold due to minor cosmetic or other defects. Rather than just toss them – or whatever the funeral industry does with un-sellable coffins – the good green folks at purchase them from funeral homes and revamp them.

Speaking of coffins, if you’re worried about leaving a small carbon footprint when you leave the planet, consider the Ecopod , a coffin made from recycled paper. It’s a biodegradable coffin. Which means that as you inside degrade, so does your coffin. And so, in a few years, all that’s left of both you and your final bed is – not much.

Paper not your style? Not to worry – EcoffinsUSA makes biodegradable coffins out of bamboo, willow, even banana.

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Is the Answer Blowin’ in the Wind? 
Seems there’s been quite a lot of hot about wind power lately.

This just in (and we’ll call it If a wind turbine turns in Oregon, will the lights go on in Los Angeles?): Southern California Edison recently announced it has signed a two-decade contract with Oregon-based DCE (an affiliate of Caithness Energy) that will provide 909 megawatts of wind power to SCE customers.

(According to the glossary at the California Energy Commission’s Consumer Energy Center, a megawatt has enough “electrical capacity to power 1,000 average California homes.”)

Eventually 303 wind turbines will be installed across 30 square miles in North-Central Oregon by 2012 and, according to an SCE news release on the matter (link above), the project is “expected to generate 2 billion kilowatt-hours per year of renewable energy,

Now that’s a nice breath of fresh air.

Speaking of fresh air, let’s title this one There’s more than one way to float your boat. SkySails, a Hamburg manufacturer of “towing kites”(they look a lot like parachutes ) for cargo ships – and the company claims using them will save a, well, boatload, of fuel as cargo ships travel hither and thither across the globe.

Touting its product as “New Energy for Shipping!” the company says it aims “to reduce fuel consumption of modern shipping by the utilization of environmentally friendly, free-of-charge wind energy.”

And they’re not blowing a lot of hot air, either

(OK, we’ll stop with the bad puns)

Seriously, SkySails in a July news release, reported that a “160 square meter kite generates up to 8 metric tons of tractive force – this approximately corresponds to the thrust of an Airbus A318 turbine engine. Depending on wind conditions, ships in the future shall be able to post fuel savings of between 10% and 35% using this auxiliary propulsion system.”

Let’s breathe deep with that good news!

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News of the Green: Especially of the Office Kind 
There’s a bit of a hullabaloo in the green and sustainable office products world: The Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA) this fall is going to release it’s first ever standards guide for the production of green furniture!

This, we naturally believe, is wonderful news.

A BIFMA spokesman is quoted in the story as saying

"With the whole green building movement, all of our customers are starting to embrace those things, and specifying them in bid specs, but everybody is doing it differently,”

“With no single standard, the void quickly was filling up with rating systems from a variety of sources.”

We get tingly all over just thinking of what progress is being made in green furniture standards, especially when we think of how these new green guideline from the BIFMA mesh nicely with the GREENGUARD Certification manufacturers can earn for their products.

To paraphrase the Beatles, “It’s getting greener all the time.”


Bloxes in our future?

This is an old story – came out in March – yet we gotta give a shout out to the manufacturer of cardboard furniture. That’s right, cardboard.

Bloxes, according to their maker are

“....building blocks made of interlocking pieces of corrugated cardboard, folded together. Their unique shape and structure make them exceptionally strong and lightweight — you could build yourself a platform to stand on, and then pick it up and move it wherever you need to.”

The little cardboard cubes can be used to set up an office cubicle, partitions, even a bed (we’ll reserve judgement on its comfort).

We like this idea for three reasons: Creativity. Creativity. Creativity.

Well, OK, four reasons: furniture made from cardboard is more earth friendly and sustainable than furniture made from wood and less toxic.

So we give a huge shout out to the Bloxes folks. Well done!

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