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Road Trip? 10 Easy Ways to Save Gas and Money

Don’t let skyrocketing gas prices stop you from enjoying your spring break vacation and instead test-drive these gas and money saving tips.

photo of a Vanagon on a road trip

With gas prices gorging our pocket books it’s no surprise that many of us are canceling our spring break road trips and opting instead to spend “quality” time relaxing at home instead. Thing is, there are several steps you could be taking to actually save gas and money and still get out of town! Save green and be green by test-driving these tips:

Why? Keeping your car properly tuned up to improve gas mileage by about 4 percent. Keeping a mileage record will tell you when your gas mileage is slipping, which is a signal for a tune-up.

2. What? SLOW DOWN!
Why? Speeding, rapid acceleration, and rapid braking all waste gas and cut down your mileage potential by as much as 33 percent at highway speeds, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Stop sudden jack-rabbit starts, opting instead for slow acceleration. Keep in mind that speeding wastes gas and money. Each mile per hour you drive over 60 mph is like paying an extra 10 cents per gallon according to DOE.

Antonio Principe /

Why? When driving along long stretches of open road, cruise control can be a very valuable asset, maintaining your speed within the least gas-guzzling gear, plus keeping your chances of accidental speeding (and getting pulled over and ticketed) to a minimum. BUT, where cruise control can take a bite into your gas mileage potential is on hills where it tends to coast up the hill until it realizes that it is losing speed and quickly attempts to make up for it by pushing the throttle, increasing your speed and your gas use.

Why? Carrying as few as 100 extra pounds can decrease the average car’s fuel economy by 1-2 percent. Unless you golf on a daily basis, your clubs don’t need to travel with you. Always carry a bag packed in your trunk “just in case?” Lighten it up. That load is dragging you down.

Why? No, not to air out a foul scent, but to let the fresh breeze in instead of cranking up that air conditioner. Using the air conditioning can up fuel use by as much as 10 percent. Imagine saving 10 percent of the money you save on gas by just rolling down the window!

Djordje Veljovic /

Why? See a stop sign or red light up ahead? Instead of slamming on your breaks just before the line, slowly ease off the gas ahead of time, coasting to a stop. When the light changes green, forget that pedal to the metal mindset and, again, ease into. You will experience a more enjoyable and relaxing ride, save money, and minimize brake pad wear out- saving money on both gear and gas.

Why? A clean air filter keeps impurities from damaging the inside of your engine. How does that help you on a daily basis? Replacing a clogged or dirty air filter can improve your car’s gas mileage by as much as 10 percent. A clogged air filter leaves your engine gasping for breath, in other words you are probably running with a “rich” mixture that is more gas and less air. Many auto stores carry air filters, and thankfully they are simple to change. Not sure if your filter needs changing? Take it out and hold it up to the light. If you can’t see any light coming through, it’s too dirty. If you don’t trust yourself to replace it, ask a car expert to help you out. It’s worth it.

Why? The iphone’s map not only shows you the best and fastest route from A to B, but also has the option of showing you hoe trafficked that route is at that moment. By choosing routes with less traffic you not only will arrive to your destination faster, but you will also minimize the excessive stop and go gas use.

Why? Idling is one of the best ways to burn through lots of gas and get absolutely nothing out of it. And where do we spend idle time the most? The Drive-thru. Instead of polluting the planet and wasting gas, park your car, walk inside and order your food (if, that is, you must eat fast food in the first place). Getting up and stretching your legs will also do your body good, and maybe even the interior of your car- catching spills on the food tray instead of your seat.

Adrian Lindley /

Why? If your tires are low on air you could be consuming as much as 3 percent more gas. Why? Low tire pressure creates a slight drag on the pavement as your tires ease into the road with each rotation. Keep your tires properly inflated (but not overly inflated- which can be dangerous) and they will roll more easily, smoothly, and economically.

Now get out of town!

Article excerpted from


10 New Eco-Friendly Travel Gadgets

1. Water-Powered Travel Alarm Clock

Photo: Courtesy of Bedol

From: Bedol

Price: $16

Why It’s Green: Tells time by using salted water; the device’s electrodes harvest energy from the liquid to fuel the nightstand-friendly gizmo’s simple digital LCD.

Why Buy: No batteries necessary, it’s small enough to stuff into any carry, and it’s especially easy and cost-effective to keep going the next time you’re cruising the coast of Sicily.

Practical Applications: Ensuring you’re prompt for massage appointments, walking tours, and naturally, dinnertime at Chateau Elan.

2. Solar-powered Battery

Name: Solio Magnesium Edition from Better Energy Systems

Price: $169.95

Why It’s Green: Fan-shaped solar panels can juice the portable power supply’s 3.7V rechargeable lithium ion battery. Long-lasting storage capacity provides an instant jolt up to one year later.

Why Buy: Universal adapters offer additional compatibility with digital cameras, cell phones, iPods, and PSPs, making it an all-purpose refueling solution.

Practical Applications: Keeping you from keeling over with boredom on transcontinental flights, on-call in emergency situations, and always just one GPS query away from a shortcut to Edinburgh Castle.

3. Photo Memory Card

Photo: Courtesy of Eye-Fi, Inc.

Name: Eye-Fi Explore from Eye-Fi Inc.

Price: $129.99

Why It’s Green: Shunning traditional prints and their chemical byproducts, this 2GB SD memory card stores hundreds of digital images instead. Automatic uploading to PC/Mac or picture-sharing sites via home network or Wayport Wi-Fi hotspot also nixes shipping waste, plus saves the time and energy you’d expend sorting and uploading manually.

Why Buy: Just turn on your camera to transfer scenes to desktop, online album, social network, or blog, and let friends and relatives ride shotgun on scenic detours. Optional location tagging adds geographic info when photos appear on Picasa or Flickr for quicker cataloguing.

Practical Applications: Eliminates film costs, saves time and energy.

4. Biodegradable Laptop

Photo: Courtesy of Asus

Name: Bamboo U6V-B1 from Asus

Price: $1,999

Why It’s Green: Clothed in resilient, biodegradable bamboo-wood trim, this svelte soon-to-be-released laptop will make an instant eco-fashion statement. Energy-efficient innards reduce CO2 emission and boost battery life without sacrificing environmental awareness.

Why Buy: Beyond its earth-conscious industrial design, it has a 2.53Ghz Core 2 Duo T9400 Processor, 256MB RAM, a GeForce 9300M graphics processor, and a 320GB hard drive suitable for Web surfing, word processing, and editing vacation snaps.

Practical Applications: Stows away easily on any voyage, letting you catch up on correspondence on the road, upload video diaries to YouTube, or play Peggle Nights from the veranda of your suite at the Four Seasons.

5. Ultimate Rechargable Battery

Photo: Courtesy of Moixa Energy Ltd.

Name: USB Cell from Moixa Energy Ltd.

Price: $20

Why It’s Green: These USB-powered rechargeables last for 500 charge cycles, so say goodbye to the 15 billion disposable alkaline batteries produced annually, and their toxic runoff.

Why Buy: Functions like your standard everyday AA battery. When empty, though, just pop the top to expose a USB connector, then connect to a laptop or other portable device to enjoy a quick refill.

Practical Applications: Powering in-flight movie marathons, mobile alarm clocks, and the odd automated German-to-English translator, so you need never again ask locals how to say, “Dude, where’s my bratwurst?“

6. Energy-Efficient External Hard Drive

Photo: Courtesy of SimpleTech

Name: [re]drive from SimpleTech

Price: $159.99

Why It’s Green: Built from bamboo and lightweight, recyclable aluminum, this external hard drive with Energy Star–qualified power adapter keeps files safe and guzzles less electricity. Its holistic approach even extends to recyclable packaging.

Why Buy: Virtually zero noise output, Turbo USB 2.0 speeds, and 500GB of archival space in which to cart along precious data or smuggle HD videos of wild times at Carnival.

Practical Applications: Avoid leaving home without your precious music collection, maps for your GPS, or all those episodes of Mad Men you’ve been meaning to see.

7. Solar-Powered Media Player

Photo: Courtesy of MediaStreet

Name: eMotion EM-SOL2GIG from MediaStreet

Price: $169

Why It’s Green: Harnesses the sun’s rays to enable music, movie, and photo playback; video game playing; and e-book reading. Plus, it acts as a portable charger for digital cameras, cell phones, PDAs, DVD players, and other lithium battery-powered electronic devices.

Why Buy: Makes a welcome pocket-size hub for all your multimedia content, provides emergency power relief and light, and even runs classic NES and GameBoy games.

Practical Applications: A Swiss Army knife’s worth of simultaneous functions. Example: recline by the pool to Coldplay’s dulcet tones while reading The Da Vinci Code before breaking to enjoy a couple rounds of Tetris or screen last week’s reality shows.

8. Solar-Powered Headset

Photo: Courtesy of Iqua

Name: 603 SUN from Iqua

Price: $69.99

Why It’s Green: The world’s first solar-powered Bluetooth headset translates sunbeams into infinite standby time and hours of active conversation given minimal exposure to natural light.

Why Buy: Stashes easily in your slacks, makes hands-free calling a snap, and presents an excellent excuse to get out and roam more.

Practical Applications: Phoning home to check on the kids while wandering Rome’s winding avenues, or leaving belated answering machine messages like “Call back next life—I’m on permanent vacation.“

9. Portable Eco-Friendly Speakers

Photo: Courtesy of Fashionation

From: Fashionation

Price: $14.95

Why It’s Green: Made from recycled cardboard, these minuscule 3.25-inch cardboardlike cubes let you blast music sans batteries by siphoning power from MP3 players themselves.

Why Buy: The lightweight, portable party-starters fold flat for easy transport and come in a rainbow of catchy colors. Connect them, and voilà—your digital music player immediately becomes a mobile boom box.

Practical Applications: Airing the perfect soundtrack for a lazy day by the beach or a romantic waltz beneath the tropical moonlight. It also makes a smart gift for the audiophile in your life.

10. Green Cell Phone

Photo: Courtesy of Nokia

Name: 3110 Evolve from Nokia

Price: $349.99

Why It’s Green: Not only is the phone constructed from more than 50 percent renewable biosourced plastics and sold in 60 percent recycled cardboard packaging, its efficient charger consumes up to 94 percent less power than Energy Star minimums.

Why Buy: Accidental tourists and hipsters alike will appreciate the tri-band GSM phone’s slick aesthetic and workmanlike design. Features include a five-way navigation key for easy control; 262,000-color screen; 1.3MP digital camera; microSD card storage expandability; FM radio; digital music player; and Bluetooth connectivity.

Practical Applications: GPRS/EDGE speeds enable brisk data and video transfer, with unlocked devices ready for calling in both North America and Europe.

Top 10 courtesy of

10 Genius Vegetarians

Albert Einstein
Einstein in Western culture is synonymous with genius. Reports say he was vegetarian just for the last year of his life. However, he had a guilty conscience about eating meat, and agreed with the vegetarian outlook, “Although I have been prevented by outward circumstances from observing a strictly vegetarian diet, I have long been an adherent to the cause in principle. Besides agreeing with the aims of vegetarianism for aesthetic and moral reasons, it is my view that a vegetarian manner of living by its purely physical effect on the human temperament would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind.”

Leonardo Da Vinci
One of the greatest inventors in all of human history, it is believed he was also a lifelong vegetarian who chose such a diet to avoid killing or injuring other creatures.

Nikola Tesla
He invented at least 700 devices, and was both an engineer and visionary. The form of electricity you are using right now to power your computer (alternating current) resulted from the work of Nikola Tesla.  Most accounts say Tesla moved gradually towards a vegetarian diet, first by eliminating meat but still eating fish, and then by quitting that also. He wasn’t vegan though, as he used dairy milk as his main protein source, after abandoning meat.

“It is certainly preferable to raise vegetables, and I think, therefore, that vegetarianism is a commendable departure from the established barbarous habit. That we can subsist on plant food and perform our work even to advantage is not a theory, but a well-demonstrated fact.”

Srinivasa Ramanujan
One of India’s greatest mathematicians, he was also a strict vegetarian.

The man is iconic enough that no description here is required. He was vegetarian most of his life.”If we are to be nonviolent, we must then not wish for anything on this earth which even the meanest or the lowest of human beings cannot have.”

Vincent Van Gogh
He is considered one of the world’s most original fine art painters. Although various websites list him as a vegetarian mostly, there are some references to his accepting meat once in a while. This may be because of his lifestyle and living in conditions where other people were trying to take care of him, and he didn’t want to offend them.

“In the afternoon, at the table, the three of us would eat with the appetite of famished wolves; not he, he would not eat meat, only a little morsel on Sundays, and then only after being urged by our landlady for a long time. Four potatoes with a suspicion of gravy and a mouthful of vegetables constituted his whole dinner. To our insistence that he make a hearty dinner and eat meat, he would answer, To a human being physical life ought to be a paltry detail; vegetable food is sufficient, all the rest is luxury.”

Thomas Edison
Mr. Edison was credited with over 1,000 inventions.There are some references to him having stopped eating meat for health reasons, “During the recent illness, from mastoiditis, of Mr. Thos. Alva Edison, the famous inventor ceased using meat and went for a thorough course of vegetarianism. Mr. Edison was so pleased with the change of diet that, now he has regained his normal health, he continues to renounce meat in all it’s forms.”

There are also a number of quotes attributed to him indicating a love of animals and condemning violence towards them.

This Greek philosopher and mathematician was also a vegetarian. In the writings of Ovid, he was depicted as having said, “Alas, what wickedness to swallow flesh into our own flesh, to fatten our greedy bodies by cramming in other bodies, to have one living creature fed by the death of another.”

Mark Twain
Samuel Langhorne Clemens was one of America’s most beloved writers. He is listed as a vegetarian on various sites such as and Wikipedia. He was also against using animals in research and for educational purposes.

“I believe I am not interested to know whether Vivisection produces results that are profitable to the human race or doesn’t. To know that the results are profitable to the race would not remove my hostility to it. The pains which it inflicts upon unconsenting animals is the basis of my enmity towards it, and it is to me sufficient justification of the enmity without looking further.”

Franz Kafka
A writer of some of the most memorable German-language fiction, Franz Kafka was also a vegetarian. He is believed to have said this when visiting an aquarium, “Now at least I can look at you in peace. I don’t eat you anymore.”  That was after he became a vegetarian.
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Top 10 reasons why sea turtle watching is a good family activity

This post was contributed by Brad Nahill, Co-Founder of SEE Turtles and SEEtheWILD.  I met Brad during last year’s Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC).  Brad started SEE Turtles with Dr. Wallace J. Nichols in 2007 to build the market for sea turtle conservation tourism.

Since its launch in 2008, the project has generated more than $200,000 in support for turtle conservation and nearby communities, educated millions about turtle conservation travel, and our volunteers have filled more than 1,000 shifts at turtle nesting beaches.  Brad co-founded SEEtheWILD in 2011 to offer travel experiences that support wildlife conservation efforts.

Below is Brad’s Top 10 List for why sea turtle watching is a great family eco-activity:

10. Sea turtles don’t bite (and if they try, they are easy to get away from).

9. They are easy to spot since we know when and where they are nesting in places like Mexico, Costa Rica, and the Southeastern United States.

8. Sea turtles are endangered and visiting their nesting beaches can help to protect them by providing income to conservation groups local communities.

7. Watching turtle hatchlings scurry to the water is better than any cartoon, video game, or nature show.

6. The beach where turtles lay their eggs are warm and most have great waves for body surfing and nearby places to snorkel.

5. Giant leatherback turtles are Earth’s last living dinosaur more than 6 feet long and up to 1,000 pounds or more!

4. A few turtle nesting beaches in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico, and India have “arribadas” where thousands of olive ridley turtles nest at one time.  Imagine that photo!

3. For older kids (16+), some turtle projects offer families the opportunity to play marine biologist and volunteer for several nights helping collect information and protect the eggs.

2. In places where turtles are well protected like Hawaii, you can swim near green turtles and watch how graceful they are in the water.  (Remember not to touch them!)

1. Your kids can watch a turtle laying its eggs at night (without lights) without bothering the turtle (they go into a trance while laying).

All photos by Neil Osborne

Article excerpted from

10 Best Diet Tips for Vegans

A vegan diet excludes intake of any animal product including eggs, dairy, and meats. A well-balanced and varied vegan diet can be healthy, but it needs careful consideration. Since a vegan diet is quite restrictive, it is imperative to ensure that all vital nutrients are provided.

A vegan diet should include an adequate intake of fiber, proteins, carbohydrates, and vitamins by choosing a wide selection of foods such as cereals, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. A vegan diet should include different combinations of foods and recipes to ensure that the diet doesn’t become boring and nutrient deficient.

Proteins must be provided in the vegan diet by consumption of seeds (sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds), soy products (tofu, tempeh), nuts (almonds, walnuts), and legumes (lentils, beans). There is usually no need to add protein supplements to meet the RDA or recommended dietary allowance if one eats one to two good sources of protein with each meal.

A vegan diet is generally low in saturated fats and cholesterol. However, a healthy vegan diet must add heart friendly fatty acids such as omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acid. Restricted intake of refined and processed foods, margarine, coconut oil, and seed butter helps to maintain the required level of fat in the body.

To ensure optimum intake of calcium, a vegan diet should include green leafy vegetables, soy products, and fortified fruit juices and cereals.

Exposure to sunlight for 15 to 20 minutes a day helps a vegan get the required vitamin D that is usually deficient in a vegan diet.

Dried beans, sprouts, dark green vegetables such as collard greens, kale, broccoli, turnip greens, and blackstrap molasses, are good sources of iron and must be included in a healthy vegan diet.

Another diet tip for vegans would be to substitute popular recipe ingredients with vegan ingredients. Cottage cheese or processed cheese can be replaced by crumbled tofu, and a cup of milk by rice milk, soy milk, or almond milk.

Article excerpted from

Top 10 Greenest Countries

Recently, you’ve probably heard all about “going green” and how it seems to be the new fad.  A lot of people from all different parts of the world are doing their part in order to keep the earth healthy. More and more people are switching to behavior that is safer for the earth: they are driving hybrid cars, using solar and wind power, recycling, and cleaning with “green” products.

While one person going green doesn’t make much of a difference, there are whole countries that have upped their efforts in order to reduce their impact on the environment. Some of these countries may be more motivated because they are witnessing the effects of global warming first hand. For example, Norway, just like many of the other Arctic nations, has experienced a higher average temperature by 5.2 degrees, and glaciers and snow-covered slopes have been melting for years.

Below is a list of ten countries that have set the stage to creating a “greener” earth. All of these countries in some way or another have found ways to reduce their carbon and sulfur emissions, which leads to cleaner air and water. The list is based on each country’s Environmental Performance Index (EPI) rating which is provided by Yale University. For the complete list, visit

10. Colombia – 76.8

European countries dominate the EPI list and Colombia is one of the few countries from the Americas green enough to rank. While you may not hear too many news stories about Colombia, you may have heard all about the deforestation that was going on in the country due to oil palm plantations as well as those who were illegally selling coca through the country. Because of this, the country was starting to become known for its violence and political strife, but somehow, Colombia has taken the negative as a learning lesson and begun to turn things around for the better of the country as well as the earth.

It is said that Colombia is home to 10% of various species found throughout the world. Scientist have also discovered that it may be home to as many as 10 new amphibious species, including the orange-legged rain frog  as well as transparent-skinned glass frogs.  With this in mind, the Colombian government has made efforts to turn the country into one that is eco-friendly. To do so, numerous national parks, some including native medicinal plants, have been opened, one of the most notable being the Orito Igni-Ande Medicinal Flora Sanctuary. Also, architects in Colombia have put down the steel and started to use bamboo, which they say is just as durable and reliable as a means to building structures. Even fashion has gone green in Colombia: designer Maria Nubia Ayala has created a line of clothing using leaves and flowers.

9. Cuba – 78.1

Though many don’t agree with the communist government leading Cuba, those who are urging people to become environmentally friendly just may have a warm spot in their heart for the Cuban government. Despite being known as a government that demands full control, it seems as though that stronghold has been weakened and that the government has decided to focus a lot of attention on the many ways of transforming the country into one that is greener. Cuba has never been a country that has been extremely harsh to the environment. Most who live in the country either travel by bicycle or foot, and many make their money by selling crops and raising livestock. However, there have been times when illegal pesticides were used as well as land that was abandoned.

To fix this, the country has put forth effort to reuse farm land, decrease the use of harmful pesticides, and to lower the sea level to ensure that salt from the water does not ruin the rich soil. Cuba has also decided to only use organic products on all farms. On the other hand, while other countries may focus on wind or nuclear energy, Cuba has decided to put a lot of effort and money into using hydroelectric energy. In 2008, the country began connecting many homes and businesses located in Guamá to a hydroelectric power station. Once it is all said and done and the 30 rivers located near or in Guamá are used, almost 7,000 people will have clean electricity.

8. Austria – 78.1

Though Austria doesn’t have many problems when it comes to being green and environmentally friendly, they have found very unique ways to ensure that their country is going green. The 2010 Winter Olympics were just one place where Austria planted its green footprint. To house the Austrian Olympic Committee as well as several broadcasters, the country built a “passive house” in Whistler, B.C. The passive house doesn’t use cooling or heating systems. In fact, it is self-regulatory and is able to heat and cool when necessary. This happens through a system that was designed keeping air-circulation, thermal heat, and high efficiency windows in mind. It is said that these passive houses use only 10% of the energy used in a common Canadian home. As of now, there are 17,000 of these homes built throughout Europe.

Most recently, Austria has teamed up with the Czech Republic in order to plant various eco-friendly gardens across the border between the two countries. There are already 330,000 gardens in Austria and 6,800 of them are natural and eco-friendly. Most of these gardens contain fruit trees, flowers, and even herbs. There are no pesticides used to treat the gardens; in fact, Austria doesn’t have to put in a lot of effort to keep the gardens looking beautiful. They use natural compost and rely on the rain for a source of water. Photo: Passive House, Whistler BC,

7. France – 78.2

France is earning a reputation as an eco-friendly country.  France’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy has been pushing for legislation that will conserve energy, as well as the environment. Some plans that Sarkozy has laid out include renovating all existing buildings to conserve energy, reducing greenhouse emissions by 20% in 2020, increasing the renewable energy rate from 9% to 20-25%, increasing organic farming, and creating an organization that will solely focus on reviewing and testing genetically modified crops. Along with all of this, sometime in the future, France plans to be home to a lot of nature reserves.

Though it seems like France is depending on a lot of hopeful proposals, it has actually made progress.  France now gets 80% of its electricity from the use of nuclear power.  Alès, a commune in France, is said to be one of the greenest locations in the country. The commune is home to one of only three buildings that utilizes solar panels as a means for energy. To encourage the use of solar panels, the country offers a reduction in taxes if a homeowner decides to use solar energy in their home. Outside of homeowners, France as a whole has decided to utilize more wood and straw bales; that’s right, straw bales to construct. It is said that straw bales are very sturdy, eco-friendly, renewable, and even provide for great thermal insulation. And no you can’t huff and puff and blow those structures down. Photo: Flickr, Jon’s Pics.

6. Mauritius – 80.6

The country of Mauritius is an island off the coast of Africa and east of Madagascar. Though not everyone has heard of this small country, Mauritius may make a bold impact when it comes to going green. Finance Minister Rama Sithanen has decided that now is the time to ensure that the island is eco-friendly and promotes green practices. For one, the country wants to focus on recycling and finding ways to reuse items. This includes burning solid waste instead of storing or dumping it somewhere. Sithanen also wants to rely on renewable and cleaner types of energy. Because of its location, Mauritius could probably make good use of the water it is surrounded by, especially for air conditioning in homes and buildings.

As of now, the country is focusing on wind power and using sugar cane plants to create fuel, especially for boilers. However, the process of going green is definitely much harder for the country, as there are limited resources that can be used. Though Mauritius does have resources, a lot of the items that are used are imports from other countries.

5. Norway – 81.1

By 2030, Norway hopes to be a country that is carbon neutral. This means that the country plans to find ways so that there are no greenhouse gases emitted. This seems like a very steep goal as Norway is heavily reliant upon its oil rigs for export as well as for a source of energy. To achieve their goal, the government will be making big purchases of carbon offsets.  But, before 2030 comes, the country also plans to cut its total emissions to 40%. Besides just focusing on reducing the amount of carbon put into the air, Norway has also planned to set aside large amounts of money to put towards other green-friendly ideas. For example, the country wants to focus heavily on utilizing railroads more, as well as finding an alternative source for fuel. Those who use diesel fuel will have to pay a higher fee for it. Outside of transportation, Norway hopes to have all businesses in the country run with flexible energy systems and from 2009 on, the use of oil-powered heating systems will be banned. The country will also focus on its great landscape, hoping to cut down on the amount of deforestation that takes place throughout Norway. The country is working closely with Sweden.

4. Sweden – 86.0

While the rest of the world deals with continuously fluctuating oil prices, Sweden has decided to make things a little easier for the country and its people by making a plan to phase out the use of fossil fuels by 2020; however, these efforts didn’t just begin. The change really started in the 1980s during the oil crisis. Efforts towards this new 2020 goal have already started and 28% of the energy and resources used in Sweden are renewable and eco-friendly. The country has really focused on the use of hydropower, nuclear power, and wind power to provide electricity and other necessities throughout Sweden.

One major way Sweden is going green is by using every piece of their forests. Though the trees are often used for various lumber projects, there is usually sawdust left behind. The government has decided that the sawdust can be manufactured into wood pellets, which are then sold to homeowners. The wood pellets are then used to generate heat. Sweden has also decided to cut back on the amount of fuel needed for transportation. Instead, many citizens in Sweden now power their cars using methane, which is taken from the entrails of cows. Seems a little disgusting but it’s green and low cost. Along with this, companies have even taken going green into their own hands. Companies that require their employees to drive train them to drive eco-friendly, which includes moderate speeds and no fast stops or starts, which means less fuel burned. Photo:

3. Costa Rica – 86.4

Coming in at third on the list, Costa Rica is a country that has set very high goals in order to go green, and stay that way. By 2021, Costa Rica hopes to be one of the few, if not the only country in the world that is carbon neutral. At this point in time, the country already utilizes plenty of renewable resources, which is very eco-friendly as there are less greenhouse gases that are polluting the air and even the water.  The country’s location definitely acts as an advantage to them, as they don’t have to worry much about heating homes and buildings, seeing as how the country usually has temperatures ranging between 71-80 °F.

For decades, Costa Rica has been plagued with deforestation, but has made plenty of effort to reduce the amount of forest that is cut down and often abandoned. Because the country is very agricultural and known for its export of food, including corn and bananas, there is a great need for land to farm and produce these crops. However, the country has made use of the forest land and actually began to utilize the shade that is created by the canopy in order to successfully grow the necessary crops. This not only saves space, but greatly reduces the amount of pesticides used to protect the produce. Now Costa Rica is focusing on reforestation and building up the land that was ruined. In fact, the country planted over 5 million trees in 2008. This is not only in hopes to build up the forest, but to hopefully reduce the greenhouse gas emissions. Photo:

2. Switzerland – 89.1

Though the leader in 2008, Switzerland has fallen to second place on the Environmental Performance Index. Switzerland has a long, proven record of being eco-friendly and protecting the environment. For instance, in 1914, the country created the first Alpine park located in the Alps, and the tradition has carried on, as the country plans to build at least 20 more of these parks. Not only has Switzerland added eco-friendly parts to their country, they’ve also taken a few things away. In some cities, cars are not allowed. You will only find people walking or riding bicycles to get to where they need to go. While it may seem a little strict, the country has even imposed a fee for disposing of trash in the country, though it is only 1 euro.  There are also fees for using waste management services.

Not only is the government pushing for eco-friendly living, but even hotels are joining in with hopes to show that going green does have its benefits. For example, a very popular hotel in Switzerland, Badrutt’s Palace Hotel, offers discounts to those who arrive at the hotel in a hybrid car. To show their own efforts towards going green, the hotel had an entirely new heating system installed which is said to reduce its carbon output by 80% each year. The new heating system gets all of its energy from a nearby lake, as do many other hotels and even schools. Photo:

1. Iceland – 93.5

Said to be one of the most beautiful countries in the world, featuring glaciers, volcanoes, and even waterfalls, Iceland tops the list of being the greenest country. Though a pretty small island, said to be the size of Kentucky, Iceland has found a way to ensure that despite its size, it would be making a huge impact on becoming eco-friendly. Because of its location, Iceland has focused on using its geothermal landscape to utilize clean electricity and heat. The most commonly used source for heat and electricity is hydrogen, and the country hopes to become the first to be entirely reliant upon this energy source.  Not only will the hydrogen energy be used by homeowners and those who occupy buildings, it is also used for transportation. The government of Iceland has provided hydrogen-powered buses to ensure people can get to their destinations in an eco-friendly way.

To go along with the buses, Iceland has put a lot of focus on the Mercedes Benz A-Class F-Cell. This car is also fueled by hydrogen and can go up to 100 miles on a full tank. Though the country wasn’t always so green, having depended on imported coal for 70% of its energy, nowadays, Iceland can proudly say that only 18% of its energy sources come from coal, the other 82% is pure hydrogen and geothermal power. While it may seem like a tough goal, by 2050, Iceland’s minister of industry and energy, Össur Skarphédinsson, hopes to have the country be carbon and oil free.

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10 interesting vegetarian facts

Thought you knew everything there is to know about the vegetarian diet? These few facts may surprise you:

1. Vegetarianism has traditionally been linked to the people of ancient India. Even today, Indians make up more than 70 percent of the world’s vegetarian population.

2. The first Vegetarian Society was formed in 1847 in England. The main aim of the members was to dispel the common belief that it’s not possible to lead a healthy life without eating meat.

3. There are varying degrees of vegetarianism. The strictest of vegetarians not only steer clear of all forms of meat, they also avoid all animal products, including honey (bees are often killed in the production of honey), and foods which might contain traces of animal products, such as bread baked in buttered tins and sugar to which bone charcoal has been added (to make it white).

4. You might recall the scene in Notting Hill where William Thacker (Hugh Grant) goes on a blind date with a slightly off-the-wall “fruitarian”. Fruitarianism is a very real form of vegetarianism, where the diet consists of fruit, nuts, seeds and other plant material that can be gathered without killing the plant (e.g. pears can be picked without killing the plant, carrots cannot).

5. Many vegetarians follow a meat-free diet in an attempt to lower the pressure meat production places on the environment. According to, growing crops for farm animals requires nearly half of the United States’ water supply and 80% of its agricultural land.

6. Other people go the vegetarian route for religious reasons. Some of the denominations that actively advocate vegetarianism include the Hare Krishna and Rastafarian movements.

7. British research shows that a child’s IQ predicts his likelihood of becoming a vegetarian as a young adult. You guessed it: the smarter the child, the more likely he’ll eventually shun meat.

8. While veggie eating holds many health benefits, it also has other interesting effects on the body: research shows that avoiding red meat improves the sex appeal of male body odour.

9. The list of famous vegetarians includes Sir Paul McCartney, Ozzy Osborne, Sinead O’Connor, Brad Pitt, Albert Einstein, Henry Ford and Leonardo da Vinci.

10. And then, of course, it’s believed that Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian during the latter part of his life. In fact, it’s said that he predicted that the world of the future would be vegetarian. Records show that Hitler amused himself by telling grim stories of slaughterhouses while entertaining meat-eating guests. When they were put off their food, he would mock them for their hypocrisy. On one such occasion, he remarked: “That shows how cowardly people are. They can’t face doing certain horrible things themselves, but they enjoy the benefits without a pang of conscience.”

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