Green seal

Zagat's may rate the quality of food and service at restaurants, but Green Seal lets you know how green those restaurants are.

Restaurants and other food services can now be certified for being environmentally friendly. It's based on life-cycle research, involving the comprehensive evaluation of the sources of environmental impacts including such things as food, energy and water use, and waste. The results of the research that Green Seal conducted and included in the new standard will help operators prioritize where to focus their greening efforts.

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Oil change

As homeowners are removing lawn mowers and other motorized lawn tools from the confines of their garages to give their lawns a facelift, many are finding it difficult, time-consuming and messy to remove, and replace, last year's oil from their machines.

Airpower America has introduced an innovative, time-saving, do-it-yourself alternative to a service-company oil change. The LiquiVac Oil Changing System creates a powerful vacuum that extracts oil in small engines, including lawn mowers, leaf blowers and tillers, in seconds, without any mess.

By extracting oil into a durable holding tank, the LiquiVac allows for proper disposal of oil and eliminates the chance of an oil spill. It retails for about $35. More information can be found at www.

Green wedding

The bride might be wearing white, but that doesn't mean she shouldn't be thinking green.

Eco-designer and green expert Yoko Chapman recently teamed up with WedVert, a green wedding company, to integrate more eco-friendly items into the wedding scene, from stationary to jewelry.

VERT Yoko Chapman is available at" target="_blank"> and at select retailers.

Less packaging

Your DVD collection might be getting a little lighter.

Acutrack, Inc. has announced that it will be standardizing a new "Green" Eco-Case for software distribution. This DVD case weighs about 1.76 ounces compared to about 2.64 ounces for a standard DVD case, cutting your carbon footprint by 33 percent.

Retail superstores like Wal-Mart are looking into this packaging concept to cut costs and save the environment.

Green tips

Even the most environmentally conscious people can't help but want to crank up the air conditioner on the dog days of summer.

But there are ways to save on utility bills even when more energy is being gobbled up. In addition to the usual advice to load up on compact fluorescent light bulbs and boosting the thermostat at night to cut air conditioner usage, the folks at offer this advice for cutting home energy usage during the summer.

  • Use your microwave to cook. Turning on the stove for small meals wastes energy and heats up your home.
  • Hang light-colored window coverings. They reflect heat and light.
  • Keep window coverings closed on south- and west-facing windows during the day to keep temperatures from rising inside.
  • Clean coils help a refrigerator run more efficiently. The smoother it runs, the less heat it will release into your home.
  • Turn over a new leaf and grow house plants. According to NASA, they clean the air by converting pollutants into plant food. Clean air will make your home feel fresher.

For more tips on reducing your energy bills over the summer, visit

Driving green

If you like seeing hybrid and alternative-fuel cars on the road, head out west.

The Green Cities Index ranks cities across the country based on their interest in going green behind the wheel. The list is calculated by evaluating the number of hybrid searches as a percentage of overall car searches in each market, then ranking them.

Like last year, West Coast shoppers and, more specifically, shoppers in the Pacific Northwest showed the greatest interest in hybrid vehicles. Eight of the top 10 cities on the list are in Oregon, California or Washington, with Eugene, Ore.; Portland, Ore.; and Santa Barbara, Calif., taking the top three spots.

Community affair

A community in Hollywood is the first of its kind to go all solar.

Located in Los Angeles, The Gatsby Hollywood is the first certified green community. It's made up entirely of solar panel Smarthomes.

"California is leading the way in sustainable building and The Gatsby Hollywood exemplifies our progress. We're bringing sustainable building to the state level and I know I can refer doubting inspectors to The Gatsby Hollywood to prove how sustainable building works," said Lynne Jacobs, Director of California's Department of Housing and Community Development.

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