731 W Skippack Pike
May 27, 2011 11:27 am
Today's consumers are smart: they know they shouldn't have to pay more for something just because it's labeled "green." SunRun applauds these smart shoppers and calls them “Pocketbook Environmentalists”: people who make smart, financial decisions that are also good for the planet. And now a growing class of smart companies out there makes it possible to save money and the planet at the same time. Here are some of the top Pocketbook Environmentalist companies on our list:
1. Paperless Post: This email stationery looks like hand-crafted cards and provides a more formal way to send an invitation than Evite or Facebook. It's saving cash and a lot of trees, particularly for those "high-maintenance" weddings with 300+ guests. One user paid $25 for 150 save-the-date cards with Paperless Post instead of $1,400 for the paper version. Plus, no more paper cuts from sealing those envelopes!
2. Zipcar: This car sharing service lets you avoid the upfront cost of buying a car, not to mention gas, insurance, and repairs. Plus, you reduce the number of polluting vehicles on the road.
3. SodaStream: Forget bulk packs of soda that tack expenses onto your grocery bill and waste resources through manufacturing, transport, and all those bottles and cans (yes they are recyclable, but that uses tons of energy). SodaStream lets families make their own carbonated beverages so you save money while reducing your carbon footprint. After the kids have enjoyed their homemade root beer, you can make yourself a gin and SodaSteam tonic to celebrate all the money you're saving as a Pocketbook Environmentalist.
4. KleanKanteen: Believe it or not, bottled water can cost more per gallon than gasoline. Spend a few bucks on a KleanKanteen and a Brita filter, or other reusable water bottles and filter systems. This thrifty combo will give you the taste without the waste—and you'll save a bundle, too.
5. SunRun: SunRun offers home solar power for as little as $0 upfront. Since SunRun owns and monitors the panels, families don't have to worry about maintenance and high upfront costs.
6. YouRenew: Use this site to make money from old electronics while recycling them. Just find your device, generate an instant quote and place your device in the mail with a YouRenew pre-paid shipping label. YouRenew will reuse or recycle the item and send you a check.
For more information visit http://www.sunrunhome.com/blog/.
May 27, 2011 11:27 am
From unique flavor blends like chili and mint to more cost conscious bites, new sweets and snacks hitting the store shelves in 2011 aim to satisfy ever-evolving consumer appetites. Smart, simple, flavor-packed, good value and nutrient-enhanced products led the more than 2,000 new confectionery and snack foods revealed May 24-26 at the 2011 SWEETS & SNACKS EXPO® in Chicago. The SWEETS & SNACKS EXPO® showcased the hottest new products from more than 550 companies leading the industry in developing new flavors for consumers to savor a taste of happiness.
“Trends in confectionery and snacks for 2011 reflect the larger patterns seen across the food industry—Americans are more interested in what they are eating, and are looking for new flavors to satisfy increasingly complex palates,” says Larry Graham, president of the National Confectioners Association. “Consumers look for value, exciting flavors and nutrition when seeking new sweets and snacks.”
Top Consumer Snack Trends 2011:
• Good Value: Candy and snacks continue to represent an affordable indulgence for consumers in a slow economy, demonstrated by industry sales growth over the past two years. Non-chocolate chewy items saw additional gains in 2010 and chocolate consumption also remained on the rise, while channel growth for the category in discounters, club and drug stores reflects consumers’ focus on value.
• Surprising Flavor Combinations: Candy and snacks with dual-layers and multiple flavor profiles in one bite top the tasty trends for 2011, with new combinations including unique blends of fruits and the addition of ingredients like chili and mint.
• Natural and Added Nutrients: Whether simple and all-natural or fortified with vitamins and a nutrition boost, “smart” snacks and sweets are here to stay, including chocolate, and products with added Vitamin C, fiber and other healthful ingredients.
Despite a lagging economy, the snacking industry posted significant gains in 2010.
The confectionery industry posted a 3.6 percent gain in 2010—outpacing overall growth of food sales in leading channels. Meanwhile, salty snacks experienced steady growth with a 2 percent gain over previous year sales. Confectionery and salty snacks rank as the fourth and sixth largest product categories in overall food sales, respectively, and first and second among snack foods. The cookie category (ranked third largest among snack foods) also held strong, experiencing half a percent growth last year.
Consumers enjoy a taste of happiness in their lives:
According to brand-new research from NCA expected to debut later this summer, consumers appreciate the unique role chocolate, candy, gum and other snacks play in their lives:
• Older Americans have a higher preference for dark chocolate; research indicates that people over 45 consume more dark chocolate because it’s perceived as healthier.
• Daily gum chewers are 34 percent more likely to view sports activity as a major motivator in maintaining or improving their health.
• The average American consumes chocolate confectionery about 107 times per year.
• Parents claim children who consume chocolate daily exercise nearly twice as often as children who eat chocolate weekly.
• Gummy candy, driven by Halloween sales, is 23 percent more likely to be consumed in the fall than licorice or other chewy candies. Licorice consumption increases in the warmer, summer months based on its portability.
May 27, 2011 11:27 am
As federal regulators finalize pending rules for cigarette warning labels in the U.S., it's important to note the tremendous impact of graphic labels and statements in countries where tobacco use is deeply embedded in the culture.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, "Cigarette Package Health Warnings and Interest in Quitting Smoking," states prominent warnings on cigarette packages in countries with high adult smoking rates have been most effective in encouraging smokers to quit. The findings demonstrate the undeniable influence of large, graphic warning labels on individuals who smoke manufactured cigarettes.
Specific messages and graphic depictions of smoking-related diseases have great potential to curb a global tobacco epidemic. They can make individuals think twice about starting a deadly habit and encourage smokers to quit and improve their cardiovascular and overall health. Tobacco-related illnesses kill more than five million people worldwide each year. In the U.S. alone, about one-third of smoking-related deaths are linked to heart disease and stroke. We strongly believe that graphic warnings labels that convey information about the health risks of smoking can also discourage smoking initiation among youth and former smokers.
The American Heart Association recommends expanding the label statement and warning requirement to include information on smoking cessation resources. The Food and Drug Administration should require manufacturers to include referrals to government-run smoking cessation resources such as 1-800-quit-now and www.smokefree.gov on tobacco product packages and advertising. By including these resources along with the required label statements and graphic warnings, tobacco users would not only be told how bad tobacco use is, but also how to quit.
The online version of the journal can be found at www.cdc.gov/mmwr.
May 27, 2011 11:27 am
After 17 years of researching traumatic stress with war-afflicted populations (veterans and civilians) and job stress in the medical profession, Teresa McIntyre, a research professor in the department of psychology and the Texas Institute for Evaluation, Measurement and Statistics (TIMES), at the University of Houston (UH), decided to study another high risk occupation, middle school teachers in seventh and eighth grade.
"Teaching is a highly stressful occupation," McIntyre says. "Teacher stress affects various aspects of teacher health and may influence how effective teachers are in the classroom, with potential consequences for their students' behavior and learning.
"I started to research the literature on stress and teachers in the U.S. and found very little information. There was no comprehensive study of teachers' stress or even an audit of the percentage of teachers who are stressed. I saw a void here and a need to study."
McIntyre serves as primary investigator for a $1.6 million grant funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), U.S. Department of Education, titled, "Using Longitudinal and Momentary Analysis to Study the Impact of Middle School Teachers' Stress on Teacher Effectiveness, Student Behavior and Achievement."
The research study starts at the beginning of this coming school year and follows 200 seventh-and eighth-grade social studies, science or math teachers in 20 middle schools in H.I.S.D. and thousands of students over a three-year period.
The research team intends to identify predictors and outcomes of job stress in middle school teachers, linking teacher stress to student behavior and achievement via teacher effectiveness. The results of the data can be used to guide further development of interventions to mitigate teacher stress and, consequently, improve teacher effectiveness and student behavior and learning.
"Middle school is probably the most difficult level to teach because student-teacher interactions are more difficult during this time, and this kind of difficulty in teacher-student interactions is a major source of stress for teachers at this level," McIntyre notes. "For students it's a time of adolescence and many changes developmentally, and that is going to affect the dynamics of learning, as well as the social relationships and climate in the classroom. It's going to affect the teachers as well. Our premise is that if the teacher is stressed, their behavior will be different with students, and they will perform differently with students."
McIntyre conducted a pilot study in the Greater Houston area in 2010 that indicated that at least one third of middle school teachers may be significantly stressed.
The UH research team will combine an innovative multi-method approach to assessing stress and teacher effectiveness, which involves ecological momentary assessment or real-time assessment, concurrent physiological measurements that will monitor blood pressure and heart rate, and in-classroom observational ratings. The researchers will use the most current technology to assess stress, which includes self-report on a Teacher Stress Diary using an iPod Touch platform, and teacher effectiveness ratings on an iPad. Data will be collected on students in the teachers' classroom using teacher stress diaries, archival school records and observational ratings. The innovative software programs are being developed by Sean Woodward at TIMES and the novel statistical methodologies required to analyze the intensive longitudinal data generated by real time assessment will be provided by TIMES and the UH department of psychology faculty Paras Mehta. The methodological and technical support provided by the UH's TIMES, directed by David Francis, as well as its expertise in education research, are key to the implementation of this type of study.
"With this study we will be able to get a more dynamic picture of how teachers respond to stress in real time," McIntyre says. "And that's what this ecological momentary assessment does—it assesses stress through the person's diary report of stress when things are happening, very close to the event. Teachers will be able to report their emotions both positive and negative; how their cognitive functions are affected by stress; and what's happening at the moment in terms of social interactions, social conflict, demands on the job, the time pressure and whether they feel they are in control of their situation. They also report on effectiveness in instruction and classroom management, an on their student's behavior in the classroom"
McIntyre notes the larger contribution of the study is to take the pulse of the educational system and see what's happening in challenging economic times and to evaluate what impact this has on teachers and students, "The study addresses a key issue in contemporary education: how to improve teacher quality in the face of increasing demands in the education system; it is all about supporting teachers, students and school administrators at a time of depleted resources."
May 27, 2011 11:27 am
Write-off. Depreciation or amortization an owner takes on a commercial property.
May 27, 2011 11:27 am
Q: Do I need to be at the inspection?
A: No, but it is a very good idea to be there. Following the check-over, the home inspector can answer your questions and discuss problem areas with you. This is also an opportune time to get an objective opinion about the home from someone who does not have emotional or financial ties to the property.
May 26, 2011 5:27 pm
Everyone knows that doctors are busy people, which is why pharmaceutical representatives have long relied on "lunch and learns" to introduce physicians to new product developments. But as currently written, the Physician Payment Sunshine Provision (Section 6002) of the Affordable Care Act will require pharmaceutical companies to report anything of value they provide to physicians above $10 per item, or $100 per year.
The implications for the foodservice industry are an important area of examination in Technomic's new study, Large Orders Off-Premise 2011, an update of its 2007 landmark research which revealed an $18.5 billion opportunity for restaurant operators to cultivate an alternate revenue stream through B2B catering.
"Restaurants and other operators that already have a thriving catering business are very interested in understanding how healthcare reform will impact their business, and ways they can respond," says Melissa Wilson, Technomic Principal and study director. "We're expanding the scope of this study to learn how the medical community expects this to impact catering orders. The study will also examine how limited-service and casual-dining operators can expand their presence in several other key business/office catering segments."
May 26, 2011 5:27 pm
Verify Markets has just released a market research report on the Ultraviolet (UV) Municipal Drinking Water Treatment Equipment Market for the United States.
In the past, there has been skepticism for alternative and advanced technologies, like UV. The receptivity of UV was relatively low as municipalities gravitated towards conventional chlorine treatment technology. However, due to the regulatory environment, the market is expected to show modest growth. Aging infrastructure is also adding to this circumstance.
"The Long Term Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule (LT2 rule) and the Disinfection/Disinfectant By-Products (D/DBP) rule are the major drivers for the UV municipal drinking water treatment equipment market," states a Verify Markets representative. "Conventional drinking water treatment plants are unable to remove specific contaminants like cryptosporidium, which makes UV a very attractive alternative."
The major market participants include Aquionics, Calgon Corporation, ITT Corporation and Trojan Technologies. There were less than 15 significant players participating in the market.
Equipment supplier quotes on market drivers and challenges, as well as market trends, are included in the report. There is a market share analysis and forecasts to 2017 with associated growth rate.
A complete analysis of select markets within the ultraviolet drinking water treatment market can be obtained at www.verifymarkets.com.
May 26, 2011 5:27 pm
Each year, about 15 million American households move, and the majority do so during peak moving season from Memorial Day to Labor Day. By planning ahead and doing some simple research, consumers can reduce their risk of falling victim to disreputable movers who make a business out of baiting customers with very low estimates and then adding on unreasonable charges or even holding the customer's household goods hostage for exorbitant ransom.
"Anyone with a website can claim to be a mover," says Carl Walter, vice president of Mayflower, one of the oldest moving companies in the country. "It's important to do some homework to avoid falling victim to a scam. There are a number of red flags that make rogue movers stand out, but to recognize them you have to know what to look for ahead of time. The best way to know if a prospective mover is doing something wrong is to know the right way from the start."
Mayflower offers the following tips for people who are planning a move:
• Go with a name you know: Find three moving companies that have offices in your area and have been in business for at least 10 years.
• Get a referral: Word of mouth is the strong indicator of reliability—ask friends, family, neighbors and colleagues.
• Ask for an in-home estimate: Transportation charges are based not only on the distance of the move, but also on the weight of the items being moved. To ensure that your estimate is accurate, have the moving company come and look at the items you need to move.
• Don't be hooked by the lowest price: Disreputable movers often lure customers with lowball prices and then hit them with unreasonable charges or, in extreme cases, even hold their belongings for ransom. Get three estimates—if one is much lower than the others, that is a red flag.
• Be sure the company is who it says: Some disreputable movers try to lure customers in by using names that are very similar to reputable companies. Check the reputable company's website to make sure the local agent is affiliated with the brand name it is claiming.
• Don't pay up front: Typically you should not be required to pay a deposit to have your items moved. Most companies request payment at the time of delivery.
• Do your research: If you are moving interstate, go to protectyourmove.gov to find out if a mover is licensed for interstate moves by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association.
• Get it in writing: Ask for pickup and delivery dates in writing.
• Know your rights: Request a copy of "Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move," a brochure created by the Federal Highway Administration that outlines consumers' rights. Federal law requires movers to give this to customers prior to an interstate move.
"Moving can be a stressful event no matter how well the mover does its job," says Walter. "Mayflower understands this and wants to help all consumers who are planning a move to have a better moving experience, regardless of which mover they choose."
For more information visit Mayflower.com.
May 26, 2011 5:27 pm
Q: How do I select a home inspector?
A: Begin by only hiring one who is qualified and experienced, someone who belongs to an industry trade group, such as the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). This organization has developed formal inspection guidelines and a professional code of ethics for its members. Also, membership in ASHI is not automatic; members must have demonstrated field experience and technical knowledge about structures and their various systems.
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