Don’t wash your hands with hot water – use cold water to save energy and water

More on saving water, from the N.Y. Times:

In its medical literature, the Food and Drug Administration states that hot water comfortable enough for washing hands is not hot enough to kill bacteria, but is more effective than cold water because it removes oils from the hand that can harbor bacteria.

But in a 2005 report in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine…(subjects) were instructed to wash and rinse with soap for 25 seconds using water with temperatures ranging from 40 degrees Fahrenheit to 120 degrees, the various temperatures had “no effect on transient or resident bacterial reduction.”

 

How does this save water? There is no need to run the faucet until the hot water comes, avoiding all that wasted water, and by using cold water you save the energy needed to heat the water.

I’ve long thought that washing my hands with soap and cold water does the job. The same for washing dishes. Strange that for most of my life I thought hot water was absolutely necessary. I looked on the CDC and Mayo Clinic websites and found nothing. One says use cold or warm water and the other says nothing at all.

This means that switching over to cold water with soap is a reasonable step if you’re looking to conserve water and energy. Of course, you can still use warm water, but I find I don’t really need it. In the end, my goal is to live a Zero Waste, low-carbon lifestyle and this is one small step in that direction.

 

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Stop wasting water in the shower! – Install a point-of-use tankless water heater

(image: Yahoo! Shopping)

A great technology for water conservation is available called the point-of-use tankless water heater. These small box-like devices can be installed underneath the sink in a kitchen or bathroom. They offer a simple way to avoid running cold water for minutes while you wait for hot water. For showers, the EPA says the average output is 2.5 gallons/minute and assuming a few showers a week that adds up 500+ gallons of water wasted every year.

In most houses this waste occurs because the water heater is located a significant distance from the faucet or shower. The hot water has to travel that distance to reach the user. The tankless technology shrinks the size of the water heater allowing you to place it right where it is needed.

One can imagine eco-friendly homes of the future skipping the central water heater altogether and placing point-of-use heaters wherever water is used. Not only would this save hundreds of gallons of water but also cut energy costs by 27-50%, according to the Dept. of Energy. For existing homes, like ours, we can place them in our heavy water use areas (i.e. bathrooms, where we use 50% of our water) as a supplement to traditional water heaters.

On a side note, replacing a traditional water heater with a tankless version can reap incredible energy savings, up to 30%. Traditional heaters keep 40+ gallons of water hot 24 hours a day, even though we only use it for minutes a day. A great waste of energy compared to tankless versions which heat water only when needed. However, if you want to conserve water then installing a tankless in the same place won’t work. You will need to put one at your point-of-use.

The heaters run $100-200 and are found at every major hardware store, including Amazon. They may need minimal electrical or plumbing work. I have not installed one myself but research shows it is not hard (depending on your skill level). I would recommend researching your situation before purchasing – intended water use, plumbing/electrical needs, reading reviews.

Point-of-use tankless water heaters are the ideal solution for water conservation. They cut out waste and don’t require a change in habits, allowing us to treat water like the precious resource it is and still enjoy our favorite comforts. Plus, as more people begin to install them the price should drop and make it easier for everyone to afford this eco-friendly upgrade.

 

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Stay in the water everyday – Yoga for Surfers

A few years back, I read an article on surf legend, Gerry Lopez, and they asked him, “How are you able to stay in the water everyday?” His answer was simple, Yoga.

When my first water injury hit I decided to try out his advice. He was dead-on. Engaging in a regular practice of Yoga has helped me to avoid innumerable injuries over the years and months. I would even say it has improved my overall strength, agility, and endurance.

I highly recommend the following 10-minute videos: Yoga for surfers. There are two episodes (6-minute, 4-minute) that cover 7 simple stretches. Do them at home for a while until you can memorize them, and then do them right before you go in the water. It is the perfect warm-up for the all the surfing muscles, it gives you 10-mins to watch the waves (find where you wanna go out at), improves your balance, and, for me, calms me down before my session.

Enjoy!

 

**PS – If you have a favorite Yoga or pre-surf routine, what is it?

 

 

NFL moves toward slimmer players, former players explore healthy eating

There is a new trend in the NFL, slimming down those plump players. After years of super-sizing lineman with each team stocking a dozen 300 pound players, speed and agility is starting to get wins.

The stars in the NFL last year were at much healthier weights in the mid-200 pound range. Players with a height of 6 feet go from weighing 340 to 270 pounds, and some new draftees are even making a difference at 220 or 230 pounds.

Trevor Pryce, who played in the NFL for 14 years and was one of those 300 pounders, discusses this in the N.Y. Times. He recognizes the change as turning players into specialists, asked to perform specific roles for only a few plays:

Those 260-pound run-stoppers were suddenly asked to learn how to line up with their hand on the ground and rush the quarterback, and linebackers became 225-pound hybrids who could run with wide receivers, blitz when asked and make the occasional tackle on a running play.

 

Not really on-topic for this blog but I felt like it was good news. Maybe the slimming down of the NFL to healthier weights could inspire a trend among the rest of us.

Here is another article from Grantland, where many of those players share their tips and experience trying to lose weight:

The common threads between the players who successfully shed weight are motivation, momentum, and reachable goals that are determined by rigid rules. Damien Woody’s faith is now in what he calls his “hand rule.” If a meal portion does not fit in his palm, it does not go in his mouth.

In the morning, he eats proteins and carbohydrates for the energy to sustain him through two daily workouts. As the day wears on, he eats more proteins than carbohydrates. Water is his beverage of choice.

 

#200PoundsIsBig

#SlimFL

#HealthyNFL

#NFLDiet

 

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West Coast Great White Sharks are endangered – population around 340

A group of environmentalists have petitioned the federal government to put West Coast Great White Sharks as an endangered species. From an L.A. Times article:

The northeastern Pacific Ocean population of great whites is genetically distinct and in danger of extinction, according to the petition. Researchers have estimated that there are about 340 individuals in the group that are mature or nearly so.

“There could be fewer than 100 breeding females left,” said Geoff Shester, the California program director of Oceana, an international group focused on protecting the world’s oceans.

 

Wow, just a few hundred of these guys out there. Even though the ocean is a huge place, that small number would probably still inspire enormous fear in people, despite the extreme rarity of shark attacks.

 

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Exploring the mountains under the ocean, in photos.

A seamount is a mountain rising from the ocean seafloor that does not reach to the water’s surface (sea level), and thus is not an island. – Wikipedia

 

They are also centers of marine life, as you can see in the photos below. From the article, Mountains in the Sea, by National Geographic.

Hundreds of thousands of seamounts rise from Earth’s ocean floor. Life has been explored on barely 300.

 

They are gushing with life. (photo: Brian Skerry)

 

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Our carbon sinks are absorbing twice as much carbon dioxide as they used to

The term ‘carbon sink’ is becoming more common as we all gain the scientific education needed to deal with climate change and global warming.

According to Wikipedia, carbon sinks can be both natural and artificial. Both involve the process of absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which is called carbon sequestration.

The main natural carbon sinks are the oceans and plants, and with our planet covered in so much water, the oceans are the biggest sinks on Earth. The main artificial ones are landfills and the various carbon capture projects.

In those countries that follow the Kyoto Protocol, the use of artificial carbon sinks can serve as a way to offset other carbon use.

Of course, as we are pumping more carbon into the atmosphere our natural carbon sinks are ingesting more carbon dioxide:

Nature has her own way of dealing with excess carbon dioxide. When human activities spew CO2 into the atmosphere, plants absorb more of it than usual, leading to profuse growth. The ocean, too, swallows more than it otherwise would. Many scientists fret that these so-called carbon sinks risk getting clogged up. Some even suggest that this has already started happening. – The Economist

Some even estimate that the amount of CO2 absorbed by the oceans and plants has doubled. Nobody knows what this means, maybe it can continue and alleviate some of our carbon problems, or there could be a backlash effect.

For more on this, check out The Economist article, That Sinking Feeling.

 

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To build the artificial river for the Olympics, designers used large lego-like blocks

Did you have a chance to see the white water sports at the Olympics, like kayaking and canoeing?

If so, you probably noticed that the entire venue was artificial. The Lee Valley White Water Centre in the north of London was created out of a vast expanse of flat land. The designers, including a firm from Colorado, S20, had to build it all from scratch, including the high-powered water pumps and the speedy, treacherous river.

It made for a fantastic set of competitions and, it turns out, a lasting site for Londoners. The venue is going to stay open for both recreational activities and as a training site for future Olympians.

And, the Smithsonian blog wrote about an intriguing innovation used in the building of the rapids. They used what looks like Lego blocks to create the river bottom:

Since the earliest whitewater slalom competitions in the 1930s, most artificial courses have been constructed primarily of concrete, with static forms inserted to mimic boulders, logs…S20′s design turns the static features into adjustable plastic modules—a bit like underwater Legos—which can be positioned with a high degree of precision, and moved at no cost, essentially creating a new stretch of river each time.

 

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Trees are virtual air conditioners that save millions in electricity, water, carbon

 

An article from The Atlantic focuses on the value of trees:

I was approached by someone from an initiative called San Diego County Trees…(a project) extolling the benefits of urban trees. I just spent time on the website, where the coolest feature is an interactive map of the whole county showing very specific tree locations and information, including quantified benefits…(like) carbon sequestration, water retention, energy saved, and air pollutants reduced.

 

Wow! Look at that image…millions of dollars in savings, water conservation, improved air quality. That is impressive.

Some more facts include, “the net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day,” and the energy savings of planting a tree on the sunny side of your house (3% after 5 years, 12% after 15 years).

I love trees.

Amazing overhead shots of the U.S. open of Surfing in Huntington Beach

Surfer magazine has posted 16 amazingly large overhead shots of the U.S. Open of Surfing and the Orange County coastline.

Here is one of them, mightily shrunk:

 

 

See the rest – Above the Open – an oddly serene look at the U.S. Open