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An Electric Idea

7 Jul

A friend of mine Stephan always had the entrepreneurial spirit bursting inside him. Despite his degree from UCLA, his MS from Stanford and a very high paying job, he was always calculating some exciting projects on the side.  His current endeavor,  Scroller Bikes is something he cooked up with a close friend of his. Below he gave us an insightful look at how he found a need and took a risk.

Shortly after graduating from Stanford, I returned back to to L.A. from San Francisco. One of my close friends from my UCLA years, told me about electric bikes he had seen during his travels through China. After doing some research and checking on legalities, we realized that electric bikes would be ideal for the congested southern California’s beach communities. We also thought they would be perfect for the overcrowded LA campuses such as UCLA or Santa Monica College.

My friend Robin always had a passion for motorcycles and had been riding since he was a  kid, and I over the years had developed an interest in green technology, so both of us had a natural interest in the bikes.

As both of us were just starting our professional careers and had intentions to getting into the business world, it seemed to be an interesting and fun project and an opportunity to create something that could actually make a difference. Our goal was to create the best looking and most user-friendly electric bike that would satisfy the needs of many user groups. (students, LA tourists, surfers, short distance commuters)

We started our business out of our garage in Hermosa Beach. We started working on our website, pictures, promotional material, did mechanical work and repairs. Things were not easy initially and we had many quality and communication issues with our Asian manufacturers. However, we were able to make it through the difficulties, probably because we were passionate about a product we had created and believed in. This was different from work you would perform at a regular job just to satisfied the management’s need.

Despite all the problems and issues we had, it was encouraging to see the customer’s positive feedback after their purchase. Now, after having sold a couple of shipments of Scrollers we are getting ready for a trip to China to work on an upgrade to make the bike even better than before. We are about to take another risk and make a bigger investment into this project.

Both of us will be starting our MBA studies in Los Angeles this coming fall.  We are not sure exactly how we will be able to continue this start up parallel to the school load, but for now we are just approaching the next challenge and are excited to see what the future will bring.

A little about the Scroller bike itself:

The Scroller is fully electric and does not produce any emission. It can be recharged at a regular power outlet and lasts for about 20-25 miles per charge. The Scroller is really easy to use (not much harder than a regular bicycle). It does not require a license, registration or insurance to operate, since it is classified as a motorized bicycle.

Check out the website of Scroller Electric Bikes to find more information, videos and pictures of the bike.

Thanks Stephan for your inspiration!

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Small Steps to a Greener Living Space

22 Apr

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“In the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.” — Baba Dioum

We are in total control of the energy we consume in the different places we reside.  There are so many small things we can do that will not only save us money on our electricity bill but if everyone makes these small changes it will create a huge positive impact on the earth. I know installing solar panels on your house doesn’t come cheap but there are many other simple ways to conserve energy.

1. Closing doors and blinds : Yes seems like a simple concept but shutting a door or pulling the blinds down when you are leaving the room will keep it cool thus having to use the air conditioner less.

2. Turn off the lights!: I cannot tell you how many times my mom used to say to me, “We don’t own the electricity company ya know!” guess it worked because I am constantly going room to room and shutting off the lights when we aren’t using them.

3. Unplug everything: This might sound extreme but getting a power strip makes things a lot easier. Chargers, for example are always sucking up energy, even when they are not connected to any devices so be sure to always unplug them when they are not in use.

4. Laundry: Try to do your laundry when peak hours are over, not only is this good for the environment but it will show on your monthly bill.

5. Dishwasher etiquette: ONLY run the dishwasher when it is filled to the brim, most cycles last an hour and use an average of 15 gallons of water per load!

6. Energy- efficient bulbs: Most people have already jumped on this bandwagon long ago, CFL’s (compact florescent lights)  can last up to 10x longer than regular bulbs, are less expensive and reduce air and water pollution.

7. Recycle and compost: Almost anywhere you live you can request a recycling and compost bin from the city, with the power of these two bins you will find yourself hardly throwing anything in the trash thus resulting in less land fill in our earth.

8. Water, water, water: The average person uses 40 gallons of water a day! So between your teeth brushing, dish washing and showering think about the different droughts going on around the globe and how much every drop really counts.

Fore more tips check out this interactive Carbon Life Diagram from National Geographic and for a good laugh take a look at The Onion’s Tips for a Greener Home

Have any more important tips for conserving energy in your home? Please share them with us!

Earth Week 2009

21 Apr

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As many of you know April is Earth Month where companies and people around the world make an extra effort to create awareness about the current situation our planet is in, and rally efforts from all angles to lessen our negative impact on the earth. This week is Earth week and I feel very lucky to live in a city like San Francisco which was voted one of the Top Ten Greenest Cities where it seems like most people in San Francisco at least recycle on a daily basis and most are even taking it to the next level with composting these days and not to mention because our city is so small it is quite easy to live without a car thus lessening the total carbon footprint of the city.

I try to live a green lifestyle, if you have read my other post on recycling but I know there is still so much more I could be doing and I am only one person. From my experience when I have spoken to my friends and colleagues suggesting different simple things they could do to be more conscious of energy and the environment it always seems like the biggest issue is that it causes more work. Well I am hoping this week I can not only write different green inspirational posts each day, but also give some great examples of simple ways to go green that end up not only benefiting mother earth but your wallet as well.

For more information on Earth Day itself and what you can do April 22nd to participate check out the Earth Day Network.

Eco-Friendly Ways To Wrap Your Gifts

23 Dec

 

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We hope you are enjoying the holidays! I finally finished my Christmas shopping today. I was relieved and excited until about 20 minutes ago when I sat down to wrap and realized my second least favorite part of the holidays (my first being shopping in Union Square): wrapping! I always feel guilty around Christmas, wrapping presents with paper that I know will be thrown away within 10 seconds of opening the gift. Every year, 5 billion dollars worth of gift wrap ends up in the landfills. So instead of reaching for the wrapping paper this year, I reached for something even easier- the newspaper. Here’s some alternative ways to wrap up that special gift that won’t harm the environment (and may even save you some money!)

1. Newspaper bag: I was pleasantly surprised when I shopped at Global Exchange in San Francisco and my purchase was put in a cute little bag made of recycled newspaper. I was so impressed that I looked it up when I went home, and made it myself in 10 minutes. It’s great for small gifts, and you can even tailor it for large ones. Check out this site to find out how to make it. They even have a demonstration video for those of you who are creatively challenged like me. http://www.newspaperbagproject.com/

2. Scarves: My good friend Emma, told me about a creative and beautiful way to wrap gifts that her parents did for her last year. Instead of using paper, they wrapped each present in a scarf so it was not only better for the environment, but a double gift! 

3. Last year’s bags and wrapping paper: I always laughed when my Grandma would take ten minutes to open up her presents to make sure not to rip the paper or bag. Little did I know, she was just saving the planet! This year, get a big bin and save all of your paper and bags. It may seem like a pain at the time, but you’ll be thankful when you have everything ready next year (and trust me your brother making fun of you will be very jealous). 

4. Newspaper, paper bags and magazines: Most of us have these lying around the house, so why not put them to good use! Check out this video to see how to beautifully wrap a present using the comics (after you read them of course): http://www.ehow.com/video_2369423_gift-wrapping-ideas-newspaper.html 

5. Cereal boxes: My friend gave me my birthday present last year in a Chex box, and I thought it was funny, creative and pretty darn smart. And it’s another great excuse to buy those Fruity Pebbles at the grocery store. This site has instructions for how to make a box using cereal boxes, or any cardboard or posterboard at your house: http://greenupgrader.com/4772/diy-cereal-gift-box-for-the-holidays/

6. Reusable shopping bag: These can be found pretty much everywhere and cost as little as one dollar. It’s a double gift as well, because they can use the bag for shopping after (and no one can have enough reusable bags). 

7. Pillowcases: These come in all shapes, sizes and patterns. After you place the present in the case, gather the opening and tie with a fabric ribbon. 

If you are really crafty, you can even try to make your own ribbon out of old magazines. I gave this a try, and it took me awhile, but the end product was well worth it (and after a couple you get the hang of it) Here is the tutorial http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=247280.0

Now off to wrapping!

Why Have I Not Purchased One Of These Sooner?

25 Nov

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If I got a quarter for every time I, or someone else in the checkout line at the grocery store says, ” Darn it I forgot my bag in the car!” I’d be a very rich woman. It’s always the same routine: I throw my bag in the car, do some shopping, and then spend the entire time in line, playing a game of tetris with my items to see how best I can stack them without using a bag (of course I forgot my bag in the car). Thankfully, my weakness for last minute purchases at the checkout line payed off today when I threw a Whole Foods reusable Chico bag into my cart. For 2.99 how could I resist? I have so many reusable bags at home I could supply the whole grocery store, but this one was different- it had a key chain! When I got back to the office, I scrunched the bag into a little ball and tucked it into the attached (yes attached!) case and clipped it back to my key chain. 

Maybe it’s the short, slow week that’s making me easily amused, but I think this is a pretty cool find. With an estimated 14 million trees cut down each year for paper bags in the US alone, reusable bags are a great alternative. Head to your nearest Whole Foods, or check out their web site to purchase one.

Great Sites for Finding an Eco-friendly Job

29 Sep

This past Saturday, nearly 700 communities across America took part in Green Jobs Now’s call to Action, to encourage our leaders to create more green jobs for a more sustainable economy. In honor of this, we thought we’d highlight some great sites that will help you in your search to obtain a job that betters our environment. Let us know if you find any others!

TreeHugger: In addition to jobs, this site has a great blog, radio show, video segments and daily newsletters. If you care about the environment and want to find a great job, this is the site for you!

Ecojobs: This has tons of job opportunities in environmental policy, advocacy, conservation, science, engineering, and education.

jobs.greenbiz: This site has a list of job openings that focus on green, cleantech, and sustainable business practices. While you’re at it, check out their excellent news articles and greentv. 

green-jobs (powered by monstertrak): Not only does this have great job opportunities, it has news, first job essentials, career advice and my personal favorite- scholarships! 

idealist.org: This site, (mentioned in Emma’s interview) has helped thousands of recent grads find jobs with non-profits. You can create a profile and connect with other users, listen to podcasts, check out their blog, and find career fairs. Also a great way to find volunteer opportunities and get some experience.

Q &A: Finding a Green Job

29 Sep

There’s not better way to find information than to talk with real people who have been there, done that. We sat down with our friend Emma, who graduated two years ago from UCSB and is currently working as an Executive Assistant to the President and CEO of an envornmental non-profit. She shared some great advice for recent grads looking for an environmental job:

 

MadGrad:  How did you find your current job?
Emma: On a site called idealist.org. It’s a great way to find volunteer opportunites and jobs with non-profits.
MadGrad: There seems to be quite a lot of recent grads looking for jobs in the environmental sector. Was it hard to find a job after graduation?
Emma:  It was difficult for me to get a job.  I was looking for about 5 months.  I applied to over 30 jobs I think.  The field is very trendy right now, which is great because people are becoming more aware of our impact on the environment and the negative repercussions it could cause.
MadGrad:  What major were you? Do you feel it helped prepare you for your current position?
Emma:  I was a political science and anthropology double major.  Within those majors I took classes specifically relating to environmental issues.  Definitely the political science major has been most helpful because we are involved a lot in lobbying Congress and other levels of government.  It would be a whole other story if I was an Environmental Studies major though, I would probably have a  better grasp of the intricacies of the issues we are involved in.

MadGrad:  Did you do any internships/ side work in college or after?

Emma:  Yes.  I worked in the University’s development department for my last year of college.  This has actually helped a lot in my current position.  I also did two internships after I graduated for the Environmental Departments of the City of San Francisco and the City of Berkeley.
MadGrad: How did you know you wanted to work in the envornment? Was there ever a time you envisioned yourself doing something else?
Emma:  Yes.  For probably 4 years in high school I wanted to be an interior designer.  And what actually changed my mind was going to a designer’s showcase and looking at the gluttonous, unnecessary wealth that made me want to do something with my life that would actually make a difference and change something.  I went into college undeclared, and although I was always interested in environmental issues, it didn’t turn into a career interest until mid-college.
MadGrad:  Are you happy with your current job? What do you like best and least about it?
Emma I love my current job because I work for a great boss and with great people.  I like my position because I know everything that is going on within the organization, from top to bottom.  I guess what I like least about my job is my actual position.  I’m not doing any work towards improving the environment, just assisting those who work to improve the environment.  But this is just the first stepping stone in my career.
MadGrad:  What is the biggest tip you would give to recent grads looking for a job in your field?
Emma:  I guess I would say to be open to possiblities.  I wasn’t sure where in the environmental field I wanted to go, so I applied to lots of different jobs in the field.  Also, be dedicated.  I got my internships last summer by contacting the places I was interested in and and just letting them know I was willing to take an unpaid internship.  It shows that you are committed to the cause and want to learn.

3 Steps to a Better World…Reduce Reuse & Recycle

20 Jun

 

We are “generation green” if you will and recycling seems to be the one word off the tip of everyones tongue these days. Could it be easier? Well I guess if there was a machine that automatically recycled your items in your house and reproduced them for you! (you never know we are getting closer each day). For now, we actually have to take the time to learn and separate our items out into the famous blue bins. Many posts and articles I have seen about recycling are threatening and telling us all the negative effects of failing to recycle. Well I am aiming to do the opposite, so below you will find all of the wonderful things you are doing for the planet when you take the time to toss those cans & bottles in the proper bin!

Here’s a few of the many positives of recycling (from http://www.recycling-revolution.com/recycling-benefits.html) 

  • In the U.S., processing minerals contributes almost half of all reported toxic emissions from industry, sending 1.5 million tons of pollution into the air and water each year. Recycling can significantly reduce these emissions
  • Manufacturing with recycled materials, with very few exceptions, saves energy and water and produces less air and water pollution than manufacturing with virgin materials.
  • Every bit of recycling makes a difference. For example, one year of recycling on just one college campus, Stanford University, saved the equivalent of 33,913 trees and the need for 636 tons of iron ore, coal, and limestone.
  • Recycling and composting diverted nearly 70 million tons of material away from landfills and incinerators in 2000, up from 34 million tons in 1990-doubling in just 10 years.

 

Here are some helpful resources to boost those recycling skills:

 

Recycling doesn’t have to be complicated!  As Denis Hayes put it, ” Listen up you couch potatoes: each recycled beer can save enough electricity to run a television for three hours.” 


 


 

 

Save The Planet And Your Pocket Book

22 Apr


In celebration of Earth Day this past weekend, I thought I would write about a subject that is of huge concern to everyone, especially our age group. Being young and on a budget, I found myself feeling very overwhelmed by the eco-friendly suggestions put before me. I can’t afford to trade in my civic for a hybrid, buy solar panels, replace my fridge and appliances with more eco-friendly products, so where does that leave me? Is there any way I can reduce my carbon- bigfoot imprint without depleting my already limited bank account?. After doing some research I thought I’d share 10 simple tips that that not only help save the planet, but save you money as well.  (or at least allow you to upgrade your safeway brand spaghettios to the real version)

1. Turn Off the Lights: I myself am often guilty of this one, but forgetting to turn off lights can add unnecessary dollars to your electricity bill and waste energy. Write a note on the door as a reminder before everyone leaves the house in case they forget. 

2. Replace those Bulbs: While Compact Fluorescent light bulbs may cost a little more upfront, they will save you tons of money in the long run as they use 75 percent less electricity and last ten times as long!

3. Pull the plugs: Make a habit of unplugging all electronics such as cell phone chargers, computers, ipods, hair appliances and kitchen appliances when they are not in use. For your computer, avoid the standby option and instead plug it into a surge protector with any other appliances and hit the off switch after powering down.

4. Save Water: It might be hard to give up the 45 minute shower after a long day at work, but  you may think again when you find out that water heaters are responsible for nearly 25 percent of your home’s energy use. And while flushing toilets is very necessary, you use 5 to 7 gallons of water each time you do it. Even if you don’t pay for your water bill, think of how much electricity it takes the city to supply and clean the water after use. Showers and flushing are a must, so just shorten your shower by ten minutes, make it slightly cooler, and think before you flush. 

5. Stop buying Water bottles and get a filter: Waterbottles account for a huge amount of waste each year, and are very pricey. Instead, purchase a Brita filter (around 20 dollars), and purchase an eco friendly water bottle to take on the go ( go to http://www.sigg.ch/ for some stylish options)

6. Ditch the Car:  Using an alterative method of transportation such as riding a bike, walking or taking the bus can save money, and make your commute more fun. With gas destroying both the planet and your bank account, these alternatives are well worth it. If your work is far away, find a shuttle or bus that goes to your area or get some coworkers together and start a carpool

7. Use the Heater and Air Conditioner sparingly.  If you live in an extremely hot place such as Arizona, an air-conditioner may be a must, but avoid turning it to frigid conditions, and only use it as needed. If you live in a cold climate, it may be tempting to turn the heat on at night, but instead use space heaters as needed, and get cozy with some layers and hot drinks. 

8. Buy Less: If your upset about how you can’t afford all the fun decorations for your home, new clothes or new kitchen appliances, think of how much you are helping the environment! When you are done with these items, it only contributes to the waste and growing landfills. Instead only buy what you absolutely need, and purchase used items on Craigslist, Ebay and FreeSharing. 

9. Make Your Own Cleaning Supplies:  Making your own cleaning supplies, is easy, saves money and is better for your health and the environment. Go to this site: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/make-your-own-non-toxic-cleaning-kit.html and get directions on how to make your own All Purpose Cleaner, Window cleaner, and stain remover with items probably lying around your house. 

10. Love your Local Library: You may have the notion that libraries are for nerds or children, but think again. Books are expensive, and chances are you only read them once. Going to your local library not only saves you money, but saves the many trees that are cut down to produce the millions of pages of paper required to make these books. 

Hopefully these tips make you realize that you don’t have to be wealthy to “go green”. In reality, being eco-conscious can save you money, and improve the planet for us and future generations.