Eco CornerBy Jacob Reiner
Ever wonder what's in your snowboard wax? According to the environmentally minded folks at Purl Racing, most ski and snowboard waxes contain PFCs—carcinogens that find their way into our drinking water through the spring snow melt. The PFCs are also potent greenhouse gases that can persist in the atmosphere for 50,000 years. Enter Purl’s All-Natural Wax. It is 100 percent biodegradable, non-toxic and produced using renewable wind energy. Instead of plastic wrap, the wax comes in a reusable velvet bag. This season glide guilt-free. Order online.
This winter curl up with a cup of hot cocoa after a big powder day in the cozy Freedom Inn. A short walk from the Hanazono 308 base lodge and the Niseko United lifts, this European-style chalet is developing a showcase of “green” initiatives to help reduce their impact on the pristine Hokkaido environment while maintaining creature comforts.
Most of the eco features are subtle; super efficient energy use for heating and hot water, guest-initiated towel and sheet reuse and recycling drop boxes for used batteries (a rarity). The self-sufficient heating uses wood burned in the toasty Vermont Castings stove. Eco-cozy. They are even investigating generating electricity from hot springs and planning a hybrid vehicle fleet.
In 2008, former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda set some ambitious targets for a Japanese shift to renewable energy, hoping to boost installation of solar power 10 times by 2020, and 40 times by 2030.
This means solar panels on the roofs of 80 percent of new homes. It is still only a drop in the bucket, but Japan has a head start, considering household energy use here is the lowest among major developed countries; half of what American homes use and one-third of Canadian homes. There’s still some catching up to do on the CO2 front. Emissions from Japanese homes have increased 30 percent since 1990, while European consumption has leveled off and is declining in the U.S. Please turn off those lights.
Warm Bra & Shopping Bra
We all know about the Cool-Biz campaign in Japan. Too bad those short sleeve suits never quite caught on. Well, the Japanese designers of global bra maker Triumph have a few eco tricks up their, uh, sleeves too.
The fuzzy Warm Biz Bra contains a microwavable heat-retaining gel to keep you warm on those nippy days. But that's not all. The “No! Shopping Bag Bra” (NO! reji-bukuro bu-ra), can actually be converted to a shopping bag and quite a cute one at that. Triumph began eco-innovating in 1997 with a bra made from recycled PET bottles. And from some of the pictures online, looks like they are gearing up to break ground again with... a solar powered bra to charge your cell phone. A little gimmicky perhaps, but this is the kind of sustainable creativity that will get some attention.
Green IT Initiative
So much of our economy, and our lives, depend on information technology. All those whirling terabytes take up a lot of power. According to METI, electric consumption by PCs, TVs, servers and networks will increase 12-fold by 2050.
To address the issue, the Japanese government has created the Green IT Promotion Council to look at ways to increase efficiency and limit the effects all this computing has on global warming. Some of the big boys have joined up too, such as the CEO of Sharp, president of NEC and chairman of Hitachi, to name a few. If you are in the IT field, check online for developing programs and upcoming forums.
Reusable Heat Packs
Personally, I feel a little guilty putting those little heat packs in my boots when I am heading out for a day on the slopes. Sure, they keep away the frost bite, but what is inside and what does it do to the environment when you throw it out? The ReHeater takes away the worries. These handy little packs operate on the natural crystallizing power of salt and can be used over and over again. Visit their Website for details.