Yearly Archive2006

Book Review: Grave Matters

ByGroovy Green Dec 30, 2006

It goes without saying that death is probably not the best topic to start the New Year with. However, it’s never too late early to start thinking about how you might leave this world. As some of you know, I’ve recently delved deeper into the ‘alternative burial’ industry and months ago produced a short video and piece on a Green Cemetery that opened here in Ithaca. It was at the dedication of this cemetery that I met a gentleman named Mark Harris; a former environmental columnist with the LA Times. He was doing research for an upcoming book that took a look at the myriad of ways you and I can leave this planet. I mentioned to him that I looked forward to reviewing the book and he said it would be a pleasure to send one my way. This Christmas, such a gift arrived at my door.

Titled Grave Matters, Mark’s book gives us a front row seat in surveying the burial industry. From the modern burial to the green burial (and everything in between), we’re treated to the intimate details; some that will shock, some that will enlighten, and others that will simply make you reconsider everything you thought you knew about death. Ever since the character Nate Fisher was laid to rest in a woodland grave with only a sheet in the final season of HBO’s “Six Feet Under”, Americans have started reconsidering their options with burial. Harris’s book provides the details and lays the groundwork for making those decisions; and once and for all deciding how we’ll leave our mark on the planet.

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EcoForms

ByGroovy Green Dec 18, 2006

Wow, here’s another West Coast only first! In Santa Rosa, CA (just north of San Francisco) there is a company that makes pots for your plants, flowers, herbs, and such out of sustainable crops, mainly grain husks. They’re called EcoForms.

Now from what I understand, such a product already exists in Canada, the UK, and Australia. EcoForms is the first here in the US (but correct me if I’m wrong). They are a husband wife team who run an organic nursery called Sweetwater Nursery. Like most things borne out of necessity; they wanted an alternative to the plastic pots. They had already converted their greenhouses to solar power and their trucks to biofuels, but the plastic containers for their organic plants just seems contradictory, hence an idea was borne!

They are designed to last 5 years in all climates. and come in a variety of earthy colors and different sizes. If you decide to discard it into a landfill, it will breakdown into a nutrient-rich organic matter with a PH value of 7.0. You can find them at Whole Foods or contact them directly for wholesale orders, or custom designs.

Tell all your green thumb friends,

Arcadia

Sustainable Fashion: Ecoist Interview

ByGroovy Green Dec 8, 2006

In the past, the term ‘sustainable fashion’ carried an almost instant stereotype of hemp and unappealing design. To even consider an alternative to fashion that went against the status quo was a gamble of reputation and money on consumer acceptance. As we’ve seen over the last couple years, however, the shades of green befalling industries has led to new markets and opportunities for companies willing to trail blaze. It’s not surprising then that the fashion industry — known for daring and bold ideas — would be one of the first to turn everything upside down. We’ve seen organic and animal free styles by Stella McCartney, activism from models like Summer Rayne Oakes, and corporate shifts to free trade and sustainable materials from companies like Timberland .

Amidst these changes in practice have also come new companies offering radical takes on classical products. Not just necessarily from a design point of view, but also on what makes up the product. One such company making waves throughout the industry is Ecoist . From their website,

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40.7 Percent Efficient Solar Cell Announced By DOE

ByGroovy Green Dec 7, 2006

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Alexander Karsner today announced that with DOE funding, a concentrator solar cell produced by Boeing-Spectrolab has recently achieved a world-record conversion efficiency of 40.7 percent, establishing a new milestone in sunlight-to-electricity performance. This breakthrough may lead to systems with an installation cost of only $3 per watt, producing electricity at a cost of 8-10 cents per kilowatt/hour, making solar electricity a more cost-competitive and integral part of our nation’s energy mix.

(Emphasis definitely freakin’ mine.)

Not to out do Kevin’s exuberance, this is definitely a huge deal. $3 per watt to install? A 62% reduction in installation cost for PV panels?

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A Review of Shaklee Cleaning Products

ByGroovy Green Dec 4, 2006

One area that sorely lacks an environmental focus in my household is our cleaning products. For some reason we just had never given it much thought. I was recently given the opportunity to bring some products into the house for a product review and what follows are my thoughts on the products after about 6 weeks of use. The products we obtained are from the Shaklee group of cleaning products. They can be found at www.Shaklee.com .

Dish Soap
Our first opportunity to review the dish soap product that was supplied to me was on Halloween. I thought I had a great opportunity to test it’s grease fighting and cleaning ability because we would have plates and dishes sitting around as we hurried out the door to do some trick or treating, and also because I had cooked a whole chicken for dinner so there was quite a bit of grease available.

I was right. It was quite the test. By the time we returned from our candy fueled adventures the dishes were quite a sight. Following the direction on the bottle I added a couple of drops of dish soap to my dish pan along with some hot water (we keep our water heater at 120 so our water isn’t really that hot) and I started to wash the dishes. And the dish soap worked beautifully. In fact, it worked just as well as I could have expected from a non-environmental cleaner. I never did add any additional soap to the dishpan and the soap worked fantastic.

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Slow Clothing

ByGroovy Green Dec 4, 2006

In conversations about social justice, energy, and our environment clothing doesn’t get a lot of attention.   This is in part because individually, clothing items don’t carry that big an embodied energy cost.  Another reason is that shirts aren’t as spectacular as cars, or houses or even dinner.  It is also kind of a girl thing – although male clothing is just as expensive, men, on average, shop less often and buy less when they do.  Women tend to buy the household’s clothing as well as their own, and to engage in recreational clothing shopping.  Clothing the household has been women’s work from time immemorial.  And because the clothes we wear are tied intimately into how we feel about ourselves, and how others view us, clothing as a subject is somewhat fraught.

And yet, I think there are a number of really good reasons to find and learn ways to make clothing, to prioritize homemade, or locally made clothing (including learning to find it beautiful), and perhaps to create a “Slow Clothing” movement rather like the ”Slow Food” movement currently picking up speed.  Maybe it’s as simple as creating a campaign in which each of us would have at least one daily wearable outfit that we’ve made ourselves.

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How To Pick (and take care of) A Live Christmas Tree

ByGroovy Green Nov 28, 2006

When selecting a tree “go live”. When the holidays are over it can be habitat for small mammals and birds. They provide shelter and beauty not to mention clean air. It is a green choice for sure.

There are a few important considerations when dealing with a live tree.A live tree comes with roots and therefore is heaver than a cut tree, obvious huh? Well don’t let a little extra weight get in your way. I use a wooden furniture dolly to wheel our tree around. Your local nursery will bring in live trees and often take the balled & burlapped trees and pot them up for easier handling. Some nurseries will just grow the trees in containers. Once you have chosen the perfect tree and you have brought it home you can’t just place it in the corner of the room right away. Follow these steps for best success:

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More On How To Grow A Luffa

ByGroovy Green Nov 28, 2006

Quite a few people were interested in my recent harvest of Luffa shower sponges. I thought I’d explain a bit more about the plant and the process of growing it. Luffa aegyptiaca Mill. or as it is commonly called, the Loofah, is a vegetable native to South America. It can be eaten when it is smaller. I have stir fried them but only up to a size of about 4 inches. After that they become tough like an over ripe squash. Left to fully mature each fruit produces an excellent sponge. Seeds for this plant are readily available through vegetable catalogs and you’ll only have to buy seeds your first year- one mature Luffa sponge will produce at least 30 seeds. Some will produce many more.

Frost kills the plant and it needs 4 to 5 months of growth to produce sponges. Here in North Carolina I can plant seeds directly in the ground near the date of the last frost and then harvest a modest number of sponges later in autumn. If I wanted a better yield or if I lived further north I would start them indoors several weeks, maybe even a month before the date of the last frost and transplant them outdoors after frost danger has passed. Planting them on the sunny, southern side of your property will help. They are natural climbers and are happiest running up the sides of a trellis or even the outer walls of your home. I sprinkle a few seeds near, but not in front of, one of my south facing gutter downspouts. When the plant sprouts it climbs up the downspout and along my gutters. It doesn’t impede the flow of water and in the fall when the plant dies I easily pull it off of my home. The large Luffa leaves help to shade the hottest side of my house in the summer. I am certain they could be grown just as well on a large trellis. They can get quite long. I’ve grown vines that exceeded 15 feet in length.

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How To Make (and grow) A Luffa!

ByGroovy Green Nov 26, 2006

For the third autumn in a row I am pleased to be harvesting my shower sponge for next year. Now I know that must sound like a strange statement but it’s true. Many people are surprised when they find out I grow my own Luffa sponges. “Don’t those come from the sea?”, is the standard question to which I respond that the Luffa is a vegetable you can grow in your very own garden.

This annual requires a long growing season of frost free weather. But for those of you in colder climates it is possible to start seedlings indoors and then transplant them outside allowing you to grow your own sponges. The vine can grow to great lengths producing beautiful yellow flowers all summer. Next spring I will be sure to remind you to start your sponges. Right now though I am focused on the harvest. I almost waited too late to get my Luffa started this spring so I was lucky to get a hand full of mature sponges. This one grew right outside my bedroom window.

 

 

 

 

 

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Spain: Solar Panels Required On All New And Renovated Buildings

ByGroovy Green Nov 16, 2006

Photovoltaic cells on top of someone’s roof will no longer be a sight of interest for people visiting or living in Spain. In fact, they’re simply going to become part of the building code thanks to new legislation that requires all new or renovated buildings to offset “between 30 and 70 percent of hot water costs with the sun.”

From the article,

“New non-residential buildings, such as shopping centers and hospitals, now have to have photovoltaic panels to generate a proportion of their electricity. Other measures in the new building code enforce the use of better insulation, improve the maintenance of heating and cooling systems and increase the use of natural light.

“The new standards will bring energy savings of 30 to 40 percent for each building and a reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from energy consumption of 40 to 55 percent,” the Environment and Housing Ministries said in a joint statement.”

Wow. If I was an investor in Solar technology, I would be all over the companies bidding for contracts in Spain after this announcement. The question is, what kind of pressures will this place on the industry such that demand will outstrip supply? Quality silicon for solar panels are already in short supply. I wonder if a delay of this kind would delay the entire renovation or construction of a new building?

Film Review: Tapping Maple Ridge

ByGroovy Green Nov 13, 2006

The new film, Tapping Maple Ridge , cleverly examines the parallels between maple syrup and wind energy. Why this is even applicable in the first place lies in the film’s setting of Lewis County, NY; the largest producer of maple syrup in NY and the site of the largest wind farm east of the Mississippi at Maple Ridge . Here’s an excerpt from their site,

“Tapping Maple Ridge is a meditation on the unexpected parallels between wind energy and maple syrup production. Shot on High-Definition video, the film illustrates the visual and conceptual correspondences between the sugar bush (a stand of maple trees tapped for syrup) and the wind farm. Interviews with maple syrup producers, Tug Hill landowners, Lewis County residents, and wind energy developers reinforce and elaborate on those relationships.”
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I Like Peak Oil Preparation Posts

ByGroovy Green Nov 6, 2006

Here’s another good one courtesy of Rob Hopkins of Transition Culture – His interview of Bob Flowerdew, “one of the UK’s best known organic gardening writers and broadcasters.” It runs the gamut, from what skills we need in the future, looking at the basics in life, to making candles, finding heat supply for winter, and local food production. It’s a really good interview, and since it is an “exclusive”, I won’t generously borrow in blockquote, but just direct you over there for a look. The interesting take that Mr. Flowerdew adds to the conversation, is that he believes that we should be looking more at fruits rather than veggies to solve our local food production issues. I will give you just a taste of his realist look at our future:

We will not win the world over by making them live on gerbil food and wear a loincloth. You get people by winning them over one bit at a time.

I guess my organic bamboo loincloth business idea is out then. Great work as always, Rob.

Busy Signal

ByGroovy Green Oct 31, 2006

I came across a group of essays on the web, some more controversial than others (I tend not to touch religion with a ten foot pole while blogging), but most very inspiring. It is worth poking around the site and gleaning a bit of knowledge or inspiration for yourself.

This essay, by John O. Andersen, is called The Cost of Chronic Busyness – here is an exerpt:

When chronically busy, I have less time for my own life scripting. So I fall back into the “default mode,” that is, let popular opinion do the scripting. This usually means allowing others’ demands to fill up my schedule. In no time I’m up to my eyeballs in activities.

Too much of this and I feel as if I’m running away from myself. I may be accepted as “one of the boys,” but inside, I’m killing off the real me; the guy who has his own opinions and enjoys time alone. Ironically, when I have time to myself for reflection, the outside world tends to appreciate my contributions more.

In other words, the more I’m myself rather than someone else, the more use I am to others. Maybe this is because people have an innate sense to distinguish between those who act authentically and those who act like clones. The human spirit thrives on sincerity, genuineness and self-disclosure.

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How To: Make A Worm Bin For Your Home

ByGroovy Green Oct 30, 2006

Most people don’t associate worm bins with something that can exist inside your home. However, with the right ventilation and setup, your worms will be more than happy to do their work in your company — without upsetting guests who might cringe at the thought. The secret is in using Rubbermaid Roughneck 10 Gallon Plastic Containers; the type that most people use for storing winter clothing or footwear. Their unassuming appearance make for easy integration of a worm bin in the basement, pantry, etc.

The instructions after the jump are really easy to follow. I haven’t tried it myself yet, but admit to wanting faster compost; especially with winter drawing fast and thoughts of Spring taking root. I’ve never tried worm composting, but hear it’s pretty effective. Anyone have any suggestions for worm bin composting inside the home? Take a look at these plans and tell us what you think!

Welcome To The Halloween Edition Of The Carnival of The Green #51!

ByGroovy Green Oct 30, 2006

Last week’s carnival was hosted at How To Save The World and next week’s will kick off November at CityHippy! Of course, many thanks to the carnival creators, CityHippy and TriplePundit. You can hit either link for more information on how to host the carnival on your site.

This week, we’ve taken the sites you love and given them the morbid makeover. Sure, it’s nothing too frightening, but we had some fun with some text generators and gave most of you a tombstone. We kept the toe tag for Groovy. Happy Halloween!

DIY :: Strawbale Coldframe

ByGroovy Green Oct 18, 2006

I recently overheard Albert Bates of The Farm make mention of using strawbale walls in greenhouses. Typically strawbale construction treats the straw walls with a lime and clay plaster to create a breathable, weather and bug resistant barrier. If not the bales rot. However when the bales begin to breakdown the process gives off heat. Mr. Bates leaves the strawbale greenhouse walls untreated so that they will decompose over the winter and give off heat to keep the plants warm. The following spring the partially decomposed walls are used to mulch the garden. I scaled down the idea a bit and built myself a strawbale cold frame. Here’s how to do it.

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Groovy Challenge :: Stealing Soil

ByGroovy Green Oct 14, 2006

On our own, nongroovy websites Matt and I have been talking about the great autumn resource of fallen leaves from deciduous trees. Sure you can rake the leaves from your yard and use them as mulch or add them to your compost pile but what about all those bags of leaves you see on the side of the road piled up as other people’s trash? The process by which trees produce leaves that then fall and decompose is how soil is created. Those people are throwing away soil. Are they crazy!?!? Every year 25 billion tons of topsoil is lost to the world. The way I see it I have a duty to stop and pick up those bags and make sure that they are indeed turned into life supporting soil. Sure they’ll rot wherever they end up but why not in my garden helping me to grow yummy, superlocal food?

So here’s the challenge. Matt, I bet I can pick up more bags of leaves (soil) than you can. If you accept my challenge and I do pick up more bags, you will have to do something. But if you happen to collect more bags of leaves from the side of the road then I will have to do something. And we’ll let the readers decide what that something is. What do you say?

DIY Compost Bin

ByGroovy Green Oct 14, 2006

In the spirit of this newly announced competition, I put together a larger compost bin to collect our (and yes, possibly our neighbor’s) leaves this fall. This will supplement our smaller secure bin that we use for kitchen scraps – It keeps the skunks out.

Killing two birds with one stone, I got rid of a good portion of my “reclaimed wood pile” (that was not Mrs. B’s favorite), and built myself a fine compost bin.

A picture is worth a 1000 words, so without further ado: (click more to see pics and for dimensions)

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Interview :: Path to Freedom

ByGroovy Green Oct 10, 2006

Jules Dervaes and his family are fueling a revolution.  More and more Americans are waking up to reality and beginning to recognize that we have real problems at hand concerning energy and the environment.  An increasing numbers of these concerned citizens are seeking ways to live more conscious, self-sufficient lives.  However trying to transition from the consumer culture towards a more sustainable way of life takes both inspiration and information.  That’s were Jules Dervaes comes in.  He calls his project Path to Freedom.  It’s an attempt to live more sustainably and rely less on factory farming and genetically modified foods.  But instead of moving to the country and starting a farm, Jules Dervaes and his family stayed in their own neighborhood to make their change.  They live in Pasadena, California on a small urban lot.  Their path towards sustainability, the Path to Freedom as Jules likes to say, means making real change right at home.

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0.1 kWh/day Refrigerator

ByGroovy Green Oct 4, 2006

I guess that this “hack” from a chest freezer to a super-efficient refrigerator has been around for a year or so (2005). This just proves that you have to poke around to find something good, and when you do share it with others. (I wonder if the folks from path to freedom have seen this one yet.)

I found Mt. Best via farmlet, 2 great new sites to bookmark (new to me anyways), both out of NZ.

Here’s what they have to say about their fridge:

” My chest fridge (Vestfrost freezer turned into a fridge) consumes about 0.1 kWh a day. It works only about 2 minutes per hour. At all other times it is perfectly quiet and consumes no power whatsoever. My wind/solar system batteries and power-sensing inverter simply love it.

It is obvious that a truly energy efficient fridge does not cost any more money than a mediocre one. It actually costs less. It also has extra features, such as digital temperature display that gives you full control on the temperature settings inside.”

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The Heart of a Revolution

ByGroovy Green Sep 27, 2006

A Summary: Beyond Energy Alternatives

The Third US Conference on Peak Oil and Community Solutions

September 2006      Yellow Springs, Ohio

Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”  He also said, “Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius-and a lot of courage-to move in the opposite direction.”  I spent the weekend with genius and with courage, and I am happy to report that they are alive and well and working on our problems. Most Americans are not yet familiar with the coming tide of instability.  Asleep and dreaming the American Dream, many are unaware of the issues associated with energy and environment that face our people and all of humankind.  Scores of those who are aware of our troubles have convinced themselves that the answer lies in more of the same.  But there are those who have another idea.

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Groovy Video: Vectrix Electric Bike

ByGroovy Green Sep 27, 2006

The electric car had its time a few years back and received a movie detailing its death. Investors in the next wave of electric-powered transportation are hoping that timing and technology will help prevent a sequel at the box office. Based in Europe, Vectrix is one such company banking on the power of a green, clean, electric bike to help reinvent the personal small transportation landscape — and keep oil executives awake at night worried about its potential. Groovy Green recently had the opportunity to visit the new Vectric production plant in New Bedford, Massachusetts. We test drove the new bikes (set for release in early 2007, Europe next month) and toured the assembly plant with V.P. of Technology, Peter S. Hughes. Below is our report — but stay tuned for more on Vectrix and other electric bikes hitting the scene in the next six months.

It should also be noted that all comments in this video are expressed by Groovy Green and are not the opinions of Vectrix Corp. There are also some corrections to the video: 1.) Vectrix is in fact not a European company, but an American one. 2.) The price of the Vectrix Maxi-Scooter is not $8,000 but $11,000.

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We’re Dropping Our Agent & Going Independent! Update Bookmarks!

ByGroovy Green Sep 1, 2006

We’ve moved on from the rough and tumble eco neighborhood of GroovyGreen and have setup shop in Hollywood as an independent entity known simply as www.ecorazzi.com (previously known as http://ecorazz.groovygreen.com–but our agent didn’t think it would come across that well on-screen) Sadly, that means we will no longer be updating this domain. Sure, we’ll keep our older news posted here for archives sake, but if you want to know why Leo is shaving his legs to save the whales (he isn’t, but if he ever does) you should hit www.ecorazzi.com for the latest. So…What are you waiting for?

The Greening of the EPA – 100 Percent Green Power

ByGroovy Green Sep 1, 2006

News from the EPA:

“EPA is the first and only major federal agency to purchase green power equal to 100 percent of its estimated annual electricity use nationwide.

As of September 2006, EPA will be purchasing nearly 300 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of green power annually in the form of renewable energy certificates (RECs) or delivered product. This amount is equal to 100 percent of the total estimated annual electricity consumption at all of EPA’s nearly 200 facilities across the country enough electricity to power 27,084 homes for an entire year.”

“616,279,179 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will be avoided annually the equivalent to removing 53,824 cars from the road for an entire year.”

I think this is good news, now if the rest of the U.S. Government will follow the example of the EPA we will see some huge changes… something tells me this may be a ways off.

Did Anyone Else Miss The Creation Of A New Ocean?

ByGroovy Green Aug 30, 2006

The Fifth OceanFirst Pluto gets demoted, and now I find out that a new ocean was created back in 2000. Who else missed this? Sure, Pluto gets tons of newspaper coverage, but nodoby even bothered to make a big deal that portions of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian were combined to create the Southern Ocean back in 2000.

“The Southern Ocean extends from the coast of Antarctica north to 60 degrees south latitude. The Southern Ocean is now the fourth largest of the world’s five oceans (after the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, and Indian Ocean, but larger than the Arctic Ocean).”

Let’s hope this particular ocean stays in the fourth position and doesn’t creep up due to melting icecaps and disappearing sea ice. The sea temperature of the Southern Ocean varies from -2°C to 10°C (28°F to 50°F). It’s home to the world’s largest ocean current, the Antarctic Circumpolar Current that moves east and transports 100 times the flow of all the world’s rivers.

Anyways, there’s your new fact for the day. There are now five oceans.

When Will the Peak Perk?

ByGroovy Green Aug 23, 2006

Jeffery Brown throws out a challenge to the main stream media.

“Who among you is going to have the courage to step forward and “break” the story that the lifeblood of the world economy–net oil export capacity–is now declining?”

Mr. Brown says, “I estimate that oil exports from the top 10 net oil exporters are probably now falling at a double digit annual rate.”

He’s an independent petroleum geologist from Dallas by the way; not one of them economists that thinks you can put dollar bills in your gas tank and drive to work. I once told two smart friends of mine, an engineer and a medical student, that physics trumps economics and they said I didn’t understand how the world works. I don’t. But I do think that as oil is physically less available “laws” of economics are going to spin on their heads. Just a little prediction for you this afternoon. Here’s one more. It will be obvious that we’ve peaked in oil production by the end of 2006. It’ll take a few more years, two maybe, for the most optimistic of oil cheerleaders to admit so (read up on the history of the peak in production in the U.S. – 1971). Then, suddenly everyone will be saying, “Yeah, of course we’ve peaked. That’s what oil fields do- Duh!” But by then the scurry to find the next source of fuel for our mobile lifestyles and our transportation dependent economy will be on in full force. My favorite are the news headlines that read, “How Will We Fuel The Cars of Tomorrow?”, or, “Is Ethanol The Answer?” No ethanol isn’t the answer. It’s only suggested as a part of the solution because Iowa is the first stop on the road to the White House. It seems very few people are stopping to consider ways of living that require less driving. Supply-side solutions will not solve the problem of the declining rate of petroleum production.

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Passing on Progress in Search of Perfection?

ByGroovy Green Aug 19, 2006

This morning I fed my daughter Keaton carrots. Not yet six months old and I am already learning from her. The task of introducing solid foods to our baby has fallen mostly to my wife. Today is was my turn. After a few successful bites I started to think to myself, “Maybe I can feed her all these carrots without getting any on her face.” What an impossible goal! As she first began to get dirty I felt a twinge of disappointment. I wanted to feed her perfectly without any mess. The goal was not achieved. I had failed. But wait; I stopped myself and realized that I was successfully teaching another human being to eat carrots. She was learning a skill she’ll use for the rest of her life. I was introducing a healthy food and even went to the trouble of preparing it myself. I boiled the carrots and mechanically smashed them with my own two hands (I did use a masher). I was raising a daughter. Not all at once and not with individual burst of perfection but I was making progress on the road towards a happy, healthy human. What a success.

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Al Gore – Revisited.

ByGroovy Green Aug 18, 2006

Seems as though I forgot the golden rule – “don’t believe everything you read in the paper.” Al Gore is not the man he was made out to be. He doesn’t own Occidental Stock. He does opt for green power for his home (and according to Grist – is putting up a solar PV array).

I was so glad to hear that Al is walking the talk. I am sorry that I doubted it.

This whole arguement gets into the realm of how much is enough? How green do you have to be exactly? How many lifestyle changes do you have to make? What is the threshold? I think that that answer can only be answered internally. Am I doing enough? How can I strive to do better? Should we be criticizing, encouraging, or lauding others? Or, should we be focusing on ourselves first off? All questions that I personally have been struggling with, and will continue to struggle with.

It’s too late on a friday night to sort it all out. So for pennance, I’ll leave you with a little TANKcatwhat after the jump

Telling Somebody

ByGroovy Green Aug 17, 2006

Please allow me this chance to reprint a letter from one friend to another.

Marcus,

It was good of you to write and ask about how Jenn and I have been doing since graduation. It’s been a while since you and I have been able to sit and talk on the front porch like we use to do in college. I don’t want to go getting all sentimental on you but I did enjoy those conversations. Everything’s going well here. Our daughter Kay is growing up fast (I hope you got the baby announcement- Jenn made me give her all the guys’ addresses). Sometimes it feels like if I blink she’ll be all grown up. Work’s fine and we like living in a small town. I never thought I’d say that but Atlanta just wore me out. All that driving made me feel like I was spending my whole life in the car. So we made the move. Jimmie and the NYC crowd make fun of me for living in Smalltown, USA but we like it. I can even bike to work. We’ve got a garden in the backyard and it’s been easy to meet neighbors, especially with such a cute baby girl (says the proud papa). We live in a small neighborhood on the edge of a pretty cool little historic town. There’s a tavern about a mile away and all the other stuff too that comes with a small town of course- an ice cream shop, a local grocery, the usual. Now I’m just babbling so I’ll get to the real reason I wanted to write.

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Verizon Using Fuel Cells To Offset Energy Consumption

ByGroovy Green Aug 8, 2006

They most likely control your cell phone, have used the talents of Darth Vader to promote their image, and now are harnessing the power of fuel cells to control their destiny. Yes, I’m speaking of Verizon Communications–who recently completed their first year of using Fuel Cell technology at their Garden City facility on Long Island. From the article,

“Verizon’s Garden City project is unique because it uses fuel cells as its primary source of energy. Seven fuel cells generate power for a 292,000-square-foot facility that provides telephone and data services to some 35,000 customers on Long Island. And it’s connected to the commercial power grid as backup. This is a complete paradigm shift for a company that traditionally uses diesel-fueled generators as backups to the commercial grid.”

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Northern Ireland Mandates Green Energy For New Buildings

ByGroovy Green Jul 31, 2006

Now this is a little more like it. It’s amazing what can occur when an actual government gets behind renewable energy. In a step that’s sure to please environmentalists while making RE investors salivate, the ‘Government is proposing changes to the Building Regulations which will make the use of renewable energy compulsory in all new builds from 2008′ The new changes will apply to all new homes, company, and public buildings making solar hot water, roof photovoltaics, and small wind generation madatory in under two years.

Almost four thousand households will benefit immediately from the new systems. Those families on low incomes will also receive 100% grant assistance to install solar hot water systems for more than 500 homes. From the article,

‘Launching an 8 million renewable energy Household Programme, Peter Hain said that Northern Ireland is leading the rest of the United Kingdom in green energy. I Am fully committed to the use of renewable energy and I know how effective it can be. In my home in Wales, I have installed PV panels on my roof and this has resulted in my energy bill being halved. As a Government, we are also moving forward in changes to the building regulations to help and encourage greater use of renewable energy.’

Chick Update :: Last Call

ByGroovy Green Jul 28, 2006

This is your last chance to submit names for the 10 urban chickens we’re raising here at Groovy Green. The winner of our contest to “Name That Chicken” will receive one of these sweet T-shirts. Reply below with one or more names you think we should use on our animal additions to my backyard.

The chicks themselves are doing fine. They’re growing with great speed and it’s becoming obvious which ones are roosters and which ones are hens. Can you tell the ladies from the gents? I’ve started to give them time outside of their enclosure when I get home from work. They stay close by. When I first started to raised backyard chickens I thought they would do their best to escape but in reality they never wander to far away. At the first sign of danger they take off towards the safety of their chicken house. They did eat several seedlings from the garden. I have to remember to keep them out of newly planted areas, but for the most part I like to let them wander through the garden. They eat bugs and deposit fertilizer and are just fun to watch.

Be sure to leave a few names in reply and who knows, maybe you’ll win the coveted chicken T-shirt for your efforts.

Bobolink

ByGroovy Green Jul 26, 2006

I’ve recently received a number of emails calling for me to Kick the Oil Habit by supporting E85 which is a liquid fuel made up of 85% ethanol and 15% regular gasoline.

Bobolink has the same email in his inbox starred and ready for comment, and has been wondering what to do with it.

It’s just his luck that James from the Alt-E blog took the words right out of his mouth…

Is Ethanol / E85 Fuel the Solution?

Bobolink (and Steve) think that Pocket Farm is one of the best green/local/sustainable/farming/simple living/…kitchen sink blogs out there. If you’re reading Groovy Green, you need to be reading Pocket Farm.

This post tackles frugality, and offers up some simple ways to save some dough:

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GreenSprings Natural Cemetery

ByGroovy Green Jul 19, 2006

Life is filled with choices. Many of them are daily, some are monumental, others take us in new directions. We use our decision-making skills to forecast positive end-results for our own lives and the people around us. Choices, however, are not limited to the mortal coil–we can also make choices now that will decide our impact on the planet well after we’re gone.

I’m not talking about wills or trust funds, but more your organic relationship with the planet. In the United States, most people lean towards traditional burial: a nice casket, flowers, tombstone, concrete vault, and a small plot. We intentionally exit the planet in much the same way we lived on it; above nature. People readily embrace the notion of ‘dust-to-dust’, but then fail to let that very act occur. Do you believe that air tight vault with the air tight coffin is going to preserve your body? And what the hell are you preserving it for? Is it vanity? Is it fear? Are you thinking that someone might open you back up one day and you’ll be embarrassed by what they see? Since most of the world believes the human body is simply a container for something larger (think: soul), why worry about what happens to it? Why spend thousands on beautiful wood that’s placed in the ground? Why bother with expensive accessories and adorations?

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China To Invest $200 Billion In Renewable Energy Within 15 Years

ByGroovy Green Jul 15, 2006

Can you imagine if the U.S. posted that type of initiative? Hey! You in the back that still believes the U.S. is the smartest country in the world, sit down. China’s economy isn’t the only thing roaring to life. Their renewable energy initiatives are quickly eclipsing anything close to what the U.S. is considering and American companies are eager to partner up and get a piece of the action. Sadly, if the U.S. does eventually wake up, most suppliers will probably be tied up in China! From the article,

“Beijing wants a tenth of its energy to come from environmentally friendly sources by 2010 – a desire driven by soaring air pollution and chronic environmental degradation that is swelling medical bills and provoking discontent.
Projects will need turbines, blades and other power components, which is why General Electric Co, Vestas Wind Systems and Gamesa, as well as homegrown firms China Solar Energy Holdings Ltd. and Suntech, are expanding capacity in the country. “Renewable energy will likely become China’s next boom sector with oil at historical high prices,” said Norman Ho, a fund manager at Value Partners, which has invested in Chinese wind energy components supplier Nanjing Gearbox.”

Wind developers in all areas from manufacturing to design have got to be especially pleased; the compound annual growth rate of China’s wind power capacity will be 39% in 2004-10 and 20% in 2010-20! Hit the jump for more!

GLOBAL WARMING: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

ByGroovy Green Jul 12, 2006

Coming up this Sunday evening set aside some time to check out the Discovery Channel’s feature on global warming:

Discovery Channel visits global warming tipping points across the planet, talks to the world’s leading experts, and examines the latest evidence about global warming in GLOBAL WARMING: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW. Produced by Discovery Channel, the BBC and NBC News Productions, and hosted by award-winning journalist Tom Brokaw, the two-hour special presents the facts and leaves it up to viewers to determine their own opinion about global warming. GLOBAL WARMING: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW premieres Sunday, July 16, at 9 p.m. ET.

After the show come back to Groovy Green and share your review of the show in the comments of this post!

How Starbucks Could Have Saved The World?

ByGroovy Green Jul 10, 2006

Starbucks talks the talk but can they walk the walk?  “Beginning to use post-consumer recycled-content hot-beverage cups is an important milestone for Starbucks in addressing the environmental impact associated with our paper-buying practices,” said Jim Donald, Starbucks chief executive officer.

Yesterday I listened to a four-minute radio story about the new Starbucks coffee cup.  Apparently as the company became successful in the 1990’s, more and more customers developed a wasteful habit known as double cupping.  Customers started using a second paper cup to keep the hot liquid in the first paper cup from burning their hands.  It sounds like a simple solution to the problem of carrying around a scalding hot beverage.   The practice however instantly doubled the amount of waste created by drinking Starbucks coffee not to mention the additional trees and energy necessary to make all those second cups.  The company began looking for an environmentally sensitive solution back in 1996.  It came up with a sleeve made from 60% post consumer recycled paper.  However, the hunt for the prefect coffee cup continued.

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America’s Big Fat Oil Problem?

ByGroovy Green Jul 10, 2006

Why is America trying to treat its oil dependence problem like it is trying to solve its weight problem?

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Americans are getting fat. This is not breaking news. I myself could spare to shed a few pounds. As I began the endeavor to lose weight and get in better physical shape, I began to see the corollaries between how the American public attempts to shed pounds and the way that we are trying to solve our dependency on oil.

First off, lets look our “oil addiction”. We are addicted to oil and its derivatives: gasoline, diesel, kerosene, etc., as much as we are addicted to corn and all its derivatives: corn chips, cereals, and the vast amounts of high fructose corn syrup hidden in our foods. Both are very abundant in the US. Gasoline may be expensive, but it is highly available. We have built our society around the excess availability of both food and oil products. Many areas, we know, cannot be accessed without a vehicle now, and one can find very few towns who have not been afflicted by the homogenizing effect of fast food restaurants and national food brands.

Many great minds have written recently on the energy crisis and the obesity epidemic that faces our nation, lets just stipulate that.

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Amish Busted Over Raw Milk

ByGroovy Green Jun 29, 2006

A recent article on the illegality of selling raw milk caught my eye.

“Arlie Stutzman was busted in a rare sting when an undercover agent bought raw milk from the Amish dairy farmer in an unlabeled container.”

On the surface it would seem that the government agency responsible for this sting has way too much time on its hands. Further investigation into unpasteurized milk reveals that it can carry harmful bacteria. It is also true however that the pasteurization of milk does has negative effects that are seldom discussed in the press.

The pasteurization of milk:

  1. Can be used as an excuse to sell low quality milk
  2. Can be used to cover up unhealthy milk production practices
  3. Destroys beneficial bacteria
  4. Reduces the nutritional value of milk
  5. Reduces the vitamin content of milk
  6. Destroys valuable enzymes
  7. Provides an excuse for harmful animal husbandry practices
  8. Diminishes the taste of the milk
  9. Provides a false sense of security in this fallible practice

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