Monthly Archives: April 2014

Being Green for Earth Day (and Beyond)

It’s not easy being green. So sung Kermit the Frog back in 1970. The popular song by Joe Raposo has gotten a lot of mileage over the decades and even though the original intent was introspection of identity and individuality, modern culture has repurposed this line to refer to the environment.

Being green is actually not that hard, but it does take commitment and dedication and as with any cultural changes, the resolve to stay green can be challenging. It’s Earth Day and we figured we’d talk a little about what we’ve done to maintain a neutral carbon footprint on the environment.

1) Going solar.

Solar Panels

Solar Panels by Christoffer Riemer

The biggest change we made was in 2010. We put forth some money to install a 5.4 KW DC photovoltaic solar system that generates power for us and puts extra electricity back into the grid. The system is somewhat seasonal and we generate a lot more in the summer and somewhat less in the winter, but on average we manage to maintain an annual balance by consuming about the same amount of power as we generate. Our summer excess is banked by our utility company and is credited to us when we use more electricity than we generate in the winter.

Compact Fluorescent Light

Compact Fluorescent Light by Piccolo Namek

2) Switching to CFL.

In 2009 we made a decision not to buy any more incandescent bulbs. Instead, we only purchased compact fluorescent lights and slowly replaced all of the incandescents as they burned out. Old CFLs consumed 25% the energy that incandescent lights used. Today that number is down to about 17%. The 80% savings in energy usage has gone a long way over the years and CFLs last much, much longer than traditional bulbs!

 

3) Faucets.

 

faucet flow control tip

faucet flow control tip

If you open your faucet and let it run, you’ll be using two to three gallons of water per minute. That’s a lot! The good news is that you don’t have to replace your faucets to conserve water. We upgraded all our faucets with flow control tips that restrict the water flow to one gallon per minute. It sounds like a big change, but you never notice the difference when you are washing your hands. The only time you’re aware of the slower flow rate is when you’re filling a bucket to mop the floors. And that’s okay, because it gives us the opportunity to debate who the lead mopper for the day will be. And you can do the exact same thing in the home with showers by adding flow control showerheads to throttle back water use.

4) Packaging.

 

Shadow, the German Shepherd Dog

Shadow, the German Shepherd Dog

This has probably been the change that our customers noticed the most. We try very hard to recycle packaging by reusing the boxes our vendors send merchandise in. We get tons of boxes from various vendors, usually half filled with styrofoam or peanuts or air blisters or a similar protective material to keep the merchandise safe. If we went the traditional route of tossing these boxes in the trash, we’d need two to three times more trash pickup. And we’d be paying extra to get rid of all that packing. It just doesn’t make sense! Studies show that customers don’t save the boxes. They tend to be thrown away fairly quickly, so the added expense of putting our logo on the side of the box doesn’t go very far, either.

Some of our more astute customers may ask about the occasional hotdog box that ends up being used for packaging. That’s an easy one to explain. On warm summer days we’ll light up the grill in the back and have a little cookout. Hotdogs are a great picnic food and are a favorite year-round treat for our organic security system, Shadow, the German Shepherd Dog.

 

Recycle

Earth Day Recycle

5) Recycling.

 

Of course there are many boxes that we don’t send to our customers. Some of our vendors ship us huge containers that are three or four feet long on the side. Extra cardboard, paper, plastic, glass, metal and the like are all sent to recycling. We find that about 80% of what we would traditionally call trash is actually recyclable materials that can be repurposed, saving landfill space, conserving energy in the process and not draining the natural resources that would otherwise be used to manufacture new products.

 

Most of these environmentally friendly steps are easy to take and don’t require a major capital investment up front, sans the solar system, of course. In retrospect, being green is a pretty easy proposition. We know we won’t save the planet on our own, but every little bit helps. We hope that we gave you some good green ideas to celebrate Earth Day. And we’re always looking for new ideas to help the planet.

Happy Earth Day!

Are You Still Safe?

Heartbleed

Heartbleed

As if the Target credit card breach four months ago was not enough, we now have another personal data breach to worry about. On Monday, April 7, 2014, an announcement was made that websites using certain versions of OpenSSL cryptographic encryption protocols had a memory handling bug that could be exploited to reveal personal user information, including user names, e-mails, passwords and potentially much, much more. This vulnerability was published on December 31, 2011 and has been used by countless sites for well over two years.

What’s the risk? It’s a hard question to answer. Potentially the bug was not exploited or a particular individual’s data was never directly compromised, so no harm was done. Alternatively, some individual account passwords may have been compromised and someone out there has a list of user names and passwords and can, at their leisure, log into other people’s accounts and access more of their personal information, impersonate them or even access financial or medical records! Overall the risk is probably low, but if you’re the one with compromised information … it’s a lottery you probably don’t want to win.

So what do you need to do? The easy solution is to prevent potential access to your accounts. You can do this very simply by changing your password. The good news is that not all sites have been impacted by this bug, but a lot have and some are very big and popular and could potentially be very harmful. Both Wikipedia and Mashable have published detailed information about the Heartbleed vulnerability and also listed the largest sites that are (and are not) affected. Visit these sites and see where you need to change your password and please do this as soon as you can!

We do have some good news for you. a Snaggy diMe does not use OpenSSL, so we are not vulnerable to Heartbleed. And our payment processor, PayPal, has posted an announcement that they are not subject to this vulnerability either. But we do urge you to check your other service providers and see if you are impacted by Heartbleed.

Trail of Painted Ponies Design Contest

Remember all those ponies that layer patterns that force you to sit down and take a closer look? This week the Trail of Painted Ponies announced a contest for people who like to confound, an opportunity to create a design within a design, the canvas being the figure of the horse.

The designs should come on the Trotting or Regal pony form only, but you do not need to buy the Paint Your Own Pony kit. You can simply download the application with the pony template and submit your pattern for judging. The contest runs through May 31 with the winning design receiving $500!

Take a quick look at the Trail of Painted Ponies Invitation to Artists with Magical Eyes and enter for an opportunity to win cash and prizes! We’d love nothing more than to brag that one of our customers is an artist on the Trail!

Illusion of the Horse

A design within a design.

Spring 2014 Herd from the Trail of Painted Ponies

Spring is here and with it the announcement of the Spring 2014 herd of the Trail of Painted Ponies. Due to ship at the end of May are four new Painted Pony figurines. Included in this set are:

Empress of the Winds

Empress of the Winds

Empress of the Winds by Stefanie Schaetzchen

They say that the winds are like a woman, always changing …  There are the Winds of Time which span history and the Winds of Change, which mark transformations. Then there are the Winds of Dawn, which signal renewal. All of these, from The Empress of the Winds.

 

 

 

Petals

Petals

Petals by Paula Holoman

Peonies are pink, they’re beautiful, it’s true.
This Painted Pony, was created just for you.
She is kind and loving, and pretty as can be.
Her name is, Petals, and she loves to run free…

 

 

Rodeo Romeo

Rodeo Romeo

Rodeo Romeo by Valor Lee and Karlynn Keyes

He’s fast as the wind and black as night,
you can try to resist him with all of your might.
He can spin on a dime and fly through the air,
he’ll steal your heart with rodeo flair.
Look in his eyes and you just can’t say no,
’cause this little guy is Rodeo Romeo!

 

 

Trailblazer

Trailblazer

Trailblazer by Amber Stirling

Legend tells of spotted horses that blazed trails throughout the American West. They were the constant companions of the Nez Perce, expert hunters and trackers who traveled with the seasons. Their journeys are reflected in the distinctive blanket pattern of their beloved Appaloosas. Together, they rode into history as brave Trailblazers.

 

These ponies are now available for pre-order on our website.

Trail of the Painted Ponies, Spring 2014

Trail of the Painted Ponies Spring 2014 herd