attention, target shoppers green products aisle 9

Posted on June 17, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

I love Target, can not get enough of it! The store has everything, it even has escalators that go from the first to the second floor (I mean  my Target in Gaithersburg at least does) ! So I was browsing and now Target has a new eco friendly shopping section online! It’s fabulous! It ranges from home accessories to apparel, to kitchen and dining, to Electronics, and so much more! Gotta check it out.

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2010 MD General Assembly Wrapup

Posted on April 15, 2010. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

The 427th MD General Assembly has wrapped for the year.  Several important renewable energy bills were heard (and voted on) this year.

Clean Currents would like to thank those elected officials who remained committed to green issues.  We would also like to offer a “spanks” to those officials who continued to deny the urgency of pressing for greater renewable goals.


Thanks and Spanks for the 2010 Maryland General Assembly Session

The Maryland General Assembly has wrapped up for the year and now the politicians are about to enter full campaign mode. Who was good for clean energy, and deserves a “thanks” from us and who was bad and deserves a “spanks” from us? The number one priority of Clean Currents and the environmental plus solar business community was Governor Martin O’Malley’s solar RPS improvement. Thanks to the hard work of Governor O’Malley and his people at the Maryland Energy Administration, plus our staff here at Clean Currents and hundreds of likeminded supporters, the bill passed. This is a huge accomplishment in an election year session. Big Thanks to Governor O’Malley! The bill increases the value of Solar Renewable Energy Credits and requires more solar installations in the state. This means more money for homeowners and businesses that want to go green with solar panels.

In all, Clean Currents supported nine bills and opposed one as our top priorities for the session. Our record on these bills was pretty good. Of the nine we supported, four passed and will be signed into law, one passed the House but died in the Senate on Sine Die, and four were killed. The one bill we opposed was killed.

The bills that passed include the above-mentioned solar RPS bill (SB 277), as well as a bill to force the utilities to pay consumers for excess green power they generate via net metering (SB 355) and a bill to make it easier to install solar on master metered properties (SB 538).

BIG THANKS These are our big champions for the 2010 session:
Governor O’Malley, Senator Rob Garagiola (Potomac), Delegate Sue Hecht (Frederick)

THANKS These folks were consistent supporters of Clean Currents legislation, rock solid on solar and green energy.
Del. McHale came up with the amendment that saved the Governor’s solar RPS bill in House Economic Matters. Sen. Catherine Pugh (Baltimore) Sen. Kathy Klausemeier (Baltimore) Del. Herman Taylor (Silver Spring) Del. Roger Manno (Silver Spring) Del. Brian McHale (Baltimore)

BIG SPANKS There’s really one “superstar” of the anti-solar, anti-green energy side of the equation: Sen. EJ Pipkin (Eastern Shore)

SPANKS These folks voted against the Solar RPS bill and/or were not supportive of green electricity bills:
Sen. Delores Kelley (Baltimore) Sen. Alan Kittleman (Howard) Sen. Norman Stone (Baltimore County)Sen. Roy Dyson (Southern Md)Del. D Stifler

Finally, I want to give a big thanks to all who wrote letters, emailed, or called about the vital pieces of legislation we supported for a cleaner, greener future.

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Feel Good Last Minute Gift Ideas

Posted on December 21, 2009. Filed under: Recommendations | Tags: , , |

This weekend’s snowstorm was pretty to watch, fun to play in and definitely added to the seasons merriment! And while I enjoyed the excuse to be a homebody on Saturday, I felt a little panicked when I lost 2 prime holiday shopping days and still had no gifts in mind for most people on my list…

So I started thinking creatively on what I could do without leaving the house (and avoid pay for express shipping).

Here are some of the ideas I came up with:

1) Kiva Gift Certificate– I gave these to all my friends last year, and they were a big hit! Kiva is a micro-lending website where entrepreneurs with projects all around the world post requests for funding and people lend small sums of money to make the projects possible. You can print the gift certificates right from your computer, so its quick and super easy and your friends can choose which project they want to support.

2.) Union of Concerned Scientists Membership: Support the work of one of the leading environmental and  advocacy groups that works on issues like climate change, clean energy, food safety, and nuclear safety. And by giving a membership now, your donation will be matched by an anonymous donor, helping UCS do even more great work!

3.) Make something- Sometimes a scary thought, but great for a snowy day. Of course cookies and candy are an obvious choice, but there are plenty of other creative ideas like herbal teas from Food and Wine and soup in a jar from Food Network.

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Eco-Naughty or Nice? ForestEthics ranks companies on their paper choices

Posted on December 18, 2009. Filed under: Recommendations | Tags: , |

Treehugger reports on the release of ForestEthics 4th annual Naughty or Nice list companies based on their paper usage for direct mail catalogs.

Who’s Nice? Timberland (no more paper catalogs); REI (Forest Stewardship Council Certified Paper Only); Patagonia (High recycled content).
Who’s Naughty? Citi and Chase are the naughtiest of all for using paper sourced from endangered forests in Canada and the Southern United States. Thats definitely coal worthy!

The motivation for the ForestEthics Ranking?

100 million trees are fodder for the paper that creates the mostly junk mail that floods your mailbox everyday. Thats 100 million trees that could be storing carbon and reducing the effect of climate change. And, 44% of that mail goes directly into the trashcan.

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Pictures from GreenFest!

Posted on October 12, 2009. Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , , |

Lots of cool stuff this weekend at this year’s GreenFest! We were pretty busy at the Clean Currents booth so only got to wander around briefly and snap a few pictures so here they are:

Do you have your own Greenfest pictures? What was the coolest thing you saw when you were there. Tell us about it in in the comments section of this post, or send us a note to

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Take a Ride in an Electric Car!

Posted on October 7, 2009. Filed under: Recommendations | Tags: , , |

Or just rock out to this catchy song by They Might be Giants:

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Electric Cars (and Ben Stiller) at the Clinton Global Initiative

Posted on September 25, 2009. Filed under: News, Questions | Tags: , , , , , |

Tesla Roadster electric car by Renault-Nissan

Tesla Roadster electric car by Renault-Nissan

Green Inc reported on the “lively panel discussion on the future of clean energy infrastructure” at the Clinton Global Initiative Summit in New York yesterday. The panel featured the chairman and CEO of Renault-Nissan, Carlos Ghosn, the former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, the CEO of Cisco, John Chambers and the head of GE, Jeffrey Immelt. It also drew celebrities like the Crown Prince and Princess of Norway, and even recognizable ones like Ben Stiller.

A key number thrown around was 1.5 billion. This is the number of vehicles that are expected to be in use in the near future as developing countries catch up with their developed counterparts. The number today is 700 million, so the projected increase is significant. Ghosn, of Renault-Nissan, quoted these numbers and said that his company believes, “the time is now” for electric cars. According to the BBC, Renault-Nissan is investing 4 billion euros (~$5.9billion) into electric vehicles hoping to become the world leader.

However, industry experts say this is a less than certain bet which could make or break the company. The future of electric vehicles is by no means universally agreed upon. According to Takeshi Uchiyamada, head of R&D and environmental technologies, at Toyota:

“The electric vehicle has become a fever and everyone is talking about it…but in the 1990s, lots of vehicle manufacturers launched electric vehicles, and Toyota did too…and if the question is if there have been any major technological developments since then, the answer is no.”

To this point, Ghosn argues that there certainly have been advances in battery technology in the past 10 years- and that current models suit the needs of 95% of the world’s drivers who travel less than 100 miles per day.

Another crucial question for electric cars discussed at the Clinton Global Initiative Summit is the challenge of infrastructure development and the source of electricity. The goal of reducing vehicular carbon emissions is lost if the electricity that powers electric cars is generated by coal.

When looking for a large scale low carbon technology capable of powering 1.5 billion vehicles, it is hard to avoid considering the nuclear option. According to the BBC, even in Germany, a world leader for renewable technologies:

“Without massive investment, it is inconceivable that renewable power sources can emerge fast enough to replace Germany’s nuclear power plants”

GE’s Immelt supports the development of nuclear power in the US as well, but broadly argues that instead of picking winners, the government should put a price on carbon and let the market decide which technology is most efficient. He believes that infrastructure must be sustainable, replicable and scalable to succeed.

This debate leaves many questions unanswered: What is the future of electric cars? What will the release of the Chevy Volt late next year mean for the car industry? Will the development of infrastructure prove to be as big of a barrier as it seems? Is Renault-Nissan’s gamble a good one?

Maybe a piece of the answer is that cars should not be considered as a necessary part of the equation for everyone. May electric cars can be a good alternative to fossil fuel powered models, but what if we need less of them? Minimizing the reliance on cars, and planning development based on sustainable community design and high speed public transportation systems will reduce that 1.5 billion.

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Corn Bins and Clean Energy…There is a connection!

Posted on September 17, 2009. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , |

Corn Bin (from Save Our Sky)

Corn Bin (from Save Our Sky)

Earlier this week, Jim Groves of the Save our Sky Home Heating Cooperative based in Takoma Park posted the news to the Clean Currents facebook page that a new corn bin will be installed in Mt. Rainier. This sounded like interesting news, but I must admit, I wasn’t really sure at first how a corn bin was related to clean energy.

It turns out that burning corn in a “corn stove” can be a cost effective and environmentally conscious way to heat your home. It also turns out that a such a stove is fairly simple to install into an existing fireplace or can be built near a wall without a chimney in the same way as a dryer vent….Interesting.

What about the CO2 emissions from burning corn? Corn based ethanol has acquired bad rep for its carbon footprint, but what about burning the kernels directly? The Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) conducted an analysis of the Takoma Park corn stoves and concluded that the fuel is actually carbon negative. The reason: the corn stalk and root stores (or sequesters) carbon throughout its lifecycle and this carbon is more than the carbon released into the atmosphere by burning the kernel. The study took into account the following factors:

  • the amount of soil tillage (minimum because of farming style of the farmer that supplies the co-op, see below)
  • fertilizer and herbicide production
  • fuel for planting, harvesting, ground preparations and manure spreading
  • fuel for drying of corn
  • fuel for transport to Takoma Park

What about all the horror stories related to large scale industrial corn farming (think: king corn) in the United States? The Save Our Sky Co-Op supports local agriculture by buying their corn from a mennonite farmer in Mt. Airy whose corn is grown with out GMOs, is organically fertilized and is, “grown using a “no-till” method which minimizes soil erosion and keeps more climate-warming carbon dioxide locked in the soil”.

If you’re interested to learn more, check out the Save Our Sky website, or stop by the ribbon cutting for the new corn bin in Mt. Rainier on October 2 (More info: here)

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Get Plugged In to the Latest Clean Energy News!

Posted on September 11, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Welcome to Clean Currently! Clean Currently will follow the latest clean energy news including cool clean technology and green products, developments in the wind and solar industry, clean energy events in the Maryland/DC metro area and Clean Currents news.

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