Posts tagged ‘green’

Use Blue Food Coloring to Make Green Beer

Yesterday, I talked about the history of St. Patricks Day — why we celebrate it, how the color green and the shamrock became the symbols they are today.

While Chicago dyes the river green, many others will be dyeing their beer.

If you’re going to dye your own beer, pick a lighter colored beer for best color results. Because lighter lagers, pilseners and ales are a yellowish color, mixing blue food coloring will give you a rich dark green color — the color of a real shamrock. Using green food coloring will work too, but you’ll get a much lighter shade of green.

This is actually quite fitting since St. Patrick’s color was actually blue.

Broken Secrets

Written By: Chad Upton

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Sources: DIY Life

March 17, 2010 at 12:13 am 6 comments

The Mall of America Does Not Have a Central Heating System

By Chad Upton | Editor

In case you’re not familiar with the Mall of America, it’s a 2.5 million sq. ft. shopping center in Bloomington Minnesota, a suburb of the “Twin Cities” (Minneapolis and Saint Paul). The mall opened in 1992 and contains more than 520 stores, two seven story parking garages with a total of 20,000 parking spaces, a giant aquarium and of course an indoor amusement park.

Photo by Dave Wallick

I was there in 1993 on a big family road trip and it was amazing. A building of this size seems like it should have a massive heating system to stay comfortable during winter months. But, the engineers had a much more creative solution in mind. (more…)

March 2, 2010 at 12:35 am 32 comments

The Vancouver Olympic Medals Contain Recycled Metal

I realize the Olympics ended yesterday, but I wanted to drop one final Vancouver Olympics secret. A week and a half ago, I did some research and crunched some numbers to get the value of an Olympic Gold Medal.

As our economy tightens its belt and the value of our natural resources strengthens, there is an increasing focus on reducing consumption while reusing and recycling where possible. The Vancouver games were no exception and they hold the title of the greenest Olympics to date.

The Vancouver medals range in weight from 500 to 576 grams. In a 30 part process that included 9 strikings, 1014 medals were created for the games. Part of the metal used was sourced from cathode ray tubes from old TVs and circuit boards from other discarded electronics. In fact, 6.8 metric tonnes of circuit boards were used.

The story behind the medals is almost as amazing as some of the athlete’s performances. If you’d like to see the story, you can watch it here.

Regardless of whether you believe in global warming or not, there is no doubt that our planet’s resources are endangered. That fact is one of the driving forces in the constantly increasing price of precious metals, oil, gas and other types of energy. Doing your part to reduce, reuse and recycle is good for the planet and will help your pocket book now and in the future.

Broken Secrets

Written By: Chad Upton

Follow @BrokenSecrets on Twitter

Sources: Teck Resources, Scientific American

Photo: Torben Bjørn Hansen

March 1, 2010 at 12:14 am Leave a comment

The Ideal Vehicle Speed for Best Fuel Economy

The precise number varies by car and environmental conditions, but the sweet spot is generally between 40-60 mph (65-95 km/h). Most small and medium size cars get the best mileage at about 50 mph (80 km/h).

A lot of factors affect the fuel economy of your car. Some of them don’t vary much with speed, such as the resistance of the engine pumps and accessories. Other factors, like the size of the frontal area and the drag coefficient create increasing resistance with speed.

The faster you drive, the more energy is needed to overcome the aerodynamic resistance of the car. Up to 40 mph, that isn’t really even a factor. So, if you’re driving a box then your best fuel economy is likely closer to 40 mph than 50. If you’re driving a teardrop shaped eco-car, then you’re likely closer to 60 mph. Of course, engine size and other factors are involved too. (more…)

February 25, 2010 at 12:01 am 5 comments

The Meaning of the Numbers Inside the Recycling Symbol

By: Chad Upton | Editor

I remember going to the grocery store as a small child. It seemed like we were there for hours before finally packing all of our purchases into large brown paper bags. A few years later they phased out paper bags over concern for the trees required to make the bags.  They were replaced with plastic bags and we have used them almost ever since. But, A few years ago, paper bags started appearing once again. Although they’re made from trees, those are pretty easy to grow compared to the raw materials of plastic.

It seems like everything is made from plastic now. I did a bit of dumpster diving tonight to find out how much. I went through my recycling bin looking for things with the recycling symbol on them — I guess that probably doesn’t really count as “dumpster diving.” These numbers only appear inside the recycling symbol on plastic products.

Plastic is a petroleum product, meaning the raw material used to create plastic is oil. It’s no secret that oil is one of the most in-demand natural resources and for a variety of reasons oil prices have sharply increased over the past 10 years. It’s not just the fuel companies who are affected by the increasing price of oil, but also plastic manufacturers. Both of these groups have to pass those increased costs on to their customers, and those businesses pass it on to their customers. Somewhere down the line, that customer is you and you’ve obviously noticed at the gas pump.

But, you may not have noticed the increase on plastic prices, at least not directly. Depending on where you live, you may have noticed a big or small push for you to use (or buy) reusable grocery bags. Of course these are great for the environment, but they also save the grocery store a lot of money on plastic bags, which have become significantly more expensive in the past few years. In some places, you even have to pay extra if you want plastic bags. (more…)

February 9, 2010 at 1:22 am 7 comments

Idling a Cold Engine Is GOOD For The Environment

You may notice when you start a cold vehicle, its exhaust is visible at first and disappears after a few minutes. Here’s why.

Technically, modern vehicles do not require much warm up time before you can drive them; advanced lubricants and materials allow the vehicles to be driven shortly after a cold weather start. Of course, you may want to warm your car for your comfort and surprisingly, to reduce emissions.

This is not intuitive, unless you understand the emission control systems on modern vehicles.

The first system is called Exhaust Gas Recirculation, and it’s probably obvious from the name: it routes exhaust gases back into the engine. The vehicle computer system monitors and controls this process to lower the amount of Nitrogen Oxides, precursors to smog and acid rain, that are created in the engine and then expelled from the tailpipe. Depending on your vehicle, this system will not operate in certain conditions, for example: low engine temperatures.

Vehicles also have a component in their exhaust system that converts various pollutants into less harmful gases with various catalysts. That conversion occurs in the catalytic converter, and that chemical reaction doesn’t happen when the catalytic converter is cold.

According to WP, some catalytic converters can take up to thirty-minutes to reach ideal operating temperature. That isn’t to suggest you should wait that long before driving your car — there are countermeasures in many cars that make it effective long before that.

When your car is at idle, it uses less gas and releases less pollution than when you are driving it. Getting your emission system to an effective point before driving it helps reduce overall emissions. For my car, it take about 3-5 minutes before the exhaust is invisible and that’s about how long it takes to clear the snow anyway. It’s not an exact science and it varies by car and by temperature.

BrokenSecrets.com

Sources:  WP, WP, WP, EPA, GM

Photo: steveyb (Creative Commons)

December 14, 2009 at 12:53 am 2 comments

How to Properly Pour a Cup of Coffee

Coffee shops use this little secret to pour your coffee quickly. If everyone did this, fewer trees would become stir-sticks. Watch the 15 second video for a demo.

For those who can’t watch videos, add your cream and/or sugar first, then add the coffee to mix the contents without a stir-stick.

BrokenSecrets.com

December 2, 2009 at 12:01 am 7 comments

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