Yearly Archive2007

Growing Power-An Urban Agriculture and Education Center

ByGroovy Green Nov 30, 2007

A few friends of mine from the fledgling Sustainability NPO we recently founded, Sustain Jefferson, spent a few incredible hours touring Growing Power this past Monday. Growing Power is a non-profit Urban Agriculture and Education facility in Milwaukee, WI that claims to grow enough food for 2000 people on 2 acres. With a claim like that I was drawn like a moth to flame. Their website offered some clues to their system-vermiculture, aquaculture, and several greenhouses. The actual tour filled in many of the details and inspired me in a way that I haven’t experienced since I was originally introduced to Permaculture and Bill Mollison several years ago.

What excited me most about Permaculture was the sheer common sense of it all. Taking wastes and turning them into resources is not something we typically think of today. Just as Forests have no waste products, Permaculture strives to promote such perfect systems in human endeavors whether it be designing a garden or linking businesses together via Natural Capitalism. Using the waste of built systems to add energy to another allows you to drastically reduce your time and energy taking care of problems and reap the benefits of one integrated system working in concert is something that continues to fascinate me Aquaponics, especially in the uber simple system that Will Allen of Growing Power sets up, fits the bill perfectly.

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Green Ideas We’d Like To See: The Wind Shade Roof

ByGroovy Green Oct 30, 2007

Architect designer Michael Jantzen has created a green oasis of sorts with his wind shade roof concept. Basically, it’s a large oval roof clad in wind turbines that powers whatever is under or around the structure.The particular roof in these concept photos is shown covering a large swimming pool. The integrated turbines would provide power for night lighting, pool maintenance, pumps, temperature control, etc. These would also make really cool pavilions, say, for farmers markets or other functions.

Eco Sac: The Water Bladder For Your Home

ByGroovy Green Oct 23, 2007

If giant rain barrels aren’t aesthetically pleasing or you lack the room for installation, you may want to consider the Eco Sac; a flexible rainwater bladder storage system that hides away under decks or floors. Each sac is manufactured using “industrial strength fabric sealed by high frequency welding.”

According to the site, the eco sac is better than your average rain barrel because a.) it captures water faster than rigid tanks, b.) you can use multiple bladders which all fill at the same rate and at the same time c.) it is guaranteed not to leak and d.) it is algae resistant and the water stored is potable.

Pretty cool idea for those with limited space to capture rainfall. There are 54 different sizes to choose from, ranging from 2,200 liters to 8,600 liters. Apparently, you can join multiple sacs together to get up to 50,000 liters or more water storage.

Much like the portable grey water recycler we wrote about earlier this week, this product is currently only available in Australia. Something tells me however — with the water woes currently affecting parts of the U.S. — that we’ll be seeing more of these stateside shortly.

Best Of Both Worlds: The Bluenergy Solar Wind Turbine

ByGroovy Green Oct 18, 2007

A German company has created what appears to be the first integrated solar vertical axis wind turbine. Obviously, the advantage here is that when one resource isn’t available, the other may still come through to help produce some energy.

The company, Bluenergy AG, based their design on sailing engineering. The wind rotor is rotated by two spiral-formed vanes. According to the site, the installation costs relatively little, produces no noise or significant shadowing, and can be easily maintained from ground level. It also appears that the vertical wings can be lowered horizontal for access as well. One interesting design highlight claimed by the site is that the solar cells are cooled by the rotation of the turbine and thus generate more electricity. Anyone know if this would add significant output?

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One Trillion Reasons To Invest In Clean, Green Energy

ByGroovy Green Oct 18, 2007

U.S. Bank Morgan Stanley has estimated that global sales from clean energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal power and biofuels could grow to as much as $1 trillion a year by 2030. In the meantime, the market may hit $505 billion in sales by 2020 — almost 9 times the level in 2005. Not a bad idea to invest, right?

Well, maybe. While it’s a sure bet that renewable energy will grow in percentage sales of global energy sources; there’s no telling how rapid or sustained such growth might be. Morgan Stanley was clear to indicate that current numbers are based on bullish investments, the rising value of oil, and current worldwide concerns over global warming. A change in any number of these factors could affect the industry. From the article,

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Blog Action Day: The Pig Farmer

ByGroovy Green Oct 15, 2007

One of the stories that should circulate the “green” blogosphere, and be posted on everyone’s site. I usually skim longer posts, but when I realized the heart and depth of the writing, I took the time to slow down and read a truly wonderful and heart-wrenching story.

From Celais, by John Robbins:

One day in Iowa I met a particular gentleman—and I use that term, gentleman, frankly, only because I am trying to be polite, for that is certainly not how I saw him at the time. He owned and ran what he called a “pork production facility.” I, on the other hand, would have called it a pig Auschwitz.

The conditions were brutal. The pigs were confined in cages that were barely larger than their own bodies, with the cages stacked on top of each other in tiers, three high. The sides and the bottoms of the cages were steel slats, so that excrement from the animals in the upper and middle tiers dropped through the slats on to the animals below.
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But eating local is so expensive…

ByGroovy Green Oct 4, 2007

Really? Here is a picture of a few things I picked up yesterday. 6 butternut squash. 1 hubbard squash and 15 pounds of sweet potatoes. Set me back $29.

The ad flyer for my local grocery store lists butternut squash at $.49 per pound. I have 27 pounds in my pictures. That works out to $13.23 for the squash. (No comparison for hubbard’s so I included it with the butternut squashes)

In the same ad sweet potatoes are listed at $.69 per pound for a total of $10.35.

Total cost at the store is $23.58. Total cost from the farmer is $29. The difference is that in my case the farmer got the entire $29 instead of a wholesale percentage of the cost.

From the same farmer I also have on order 75 lbs of potatoes. They’ll cost me about $30. That works out to $.40 a pound compared to a sale price in the ad flyer of $.26.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ll gladly pay that slight premium for fresh local foods that support farmer’s more. The squashes I purchased had just been picked yesterday morning. Now that’s fresh!

Blind People Appeal To Automakers For Noisier Hybrids, Electric Vehicles

ByGroovy Green Oct 3, 2007

A couple months ago, I casually wrote a post wondering aloud if quiet hybrids and electric cars would be a hazard to pedestrians who are visually disabled. After all, it’s quite easy to hear a combustion engine from a distance. Many commenters bashed the post saying that it was stupid to suggest adding some type of small noise to the vehicles. Apparently, these people were not blind.

Today, the Baltimore-based National Federation of the Blind will present written testimony asking for a minimum sound standard for hybrids to be included in the state’s emissions regulations. As the President of the group, Marc Maurer, mentioned, he’s not interested in returning to gas-guzzling vehicles, they just want fuel-efficient hybrids to have some type of warning noise. From the article,

“‘I don’t want to pick that way of going, but I don’t want to get run over by a quiet car, either,’ Maurer said.

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How-to Video on Natural Earth Plastering at Dancing Rabbit TV

ByGroovy Green Sep 29, 2007

I caught this video today over at Dancing Rabbit TV. It’s a great look at building your own earthen walls. Head on over for a look:


Part I

New York City Launches Bicycling Awarness Campaign – Look

ByGroovy Green Sep 29, 2007

Last week, the LOOK campaign – which aims to educate the public about bike safety – was launched in Union Square. In an unprecedented collaboration, the NYC Bicycle Coalition, the City Departments of Transportation, Health & Police, the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission, the Triple AAA, and the Office of the Public Advocate all endorsed the campaign.

StreetFilms personally loves the ads appearing in TimeOutNY and New York Magazine as well as city bus shelters. They are creative and handsome; they stop you in your tracks.

The LOOK campaign ads were created pro-bono by Publicis in Seattle

The Top 5 Nastiest Creatures Getting Stronger Due To Climate Change

ByGroovy Green Sep 29, 2007

When some people think of Global Warming, a vision of comfortable winters, more days at the beach, and less sweaters comes to mind. For those living away from coastal regions, the concerns of hurricanes or sea levels is non-existent. Out of sight, out of mind.

The realities are that climate change will affect each and every one of us. From the ways our communities rely on food produced in other states and nations; to the costs of energy and sourcing of water. But it gets worse. Much worse. We now present to you The Top 5 Nasty Creatures Getting Stronger Due To Climate Change. Some of them seem straight out of science fiction.

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The Goat Justice Leage – Fighting for Ruminate Rights!

ByGroovy Green Sep 29, 2007

In recent news from the Seattle Times:

Thanks to the work of the Goat Justice League, ruminants now have the right to life and limited liberty in Seattle.

On Monday, the City Council acknowledged the miniature goat’s attributes as human companion, weed whacker and milk maker, and unanimously voted that the goats could be kept as pets.

“One small step for man, one giant step for goatkind,” said Councilmember Richard Conlin, who sponsored the legislation.

As of late, goats have gained the environmental status of hybrid cars and bovine-growth-hormone-free milk, prized for their ability to mow lawns without using fossil fuels. University of Washington and Seattle City Light recently hired herds to clear slopes of blackberry brambles.

Monday’s vote marked yet another gain for miniature goats, which are about the size of a large dog. Also known as pygmy or dwarf goats, the animals weigh between 50 and 100 pounds and grow to about 2 feet tall. Owners keep them as pets and sources of milk.

I live in a city just outside of Seattle. Recently our fair city adopted Seattle’s domestic animal regulations. This was a big step for our city and the adoption allowed me to keep chickens. Hopefully this change in the regulations in Seattle will filter out into other cities.

My first thoughts of the Goat Justice League:

 

Is Iron Fertilization The Key To Preventing Global Warming?

ByGroovy Green Sep 28, 2007

Give me half a tanker of iron and I’ll give you the next ice age so said oceanographer John Martin in a famous speech to colleagues during the 80s. Martin was referring to the process of “iron fertilization”; which when applied to the oceans in slurry form promotes vast blooms of algae. The algae in turn consume carbon dioxide as they grow; thus removing more from the atmosphere and preventing climate change. Problem solved? From the article,

“‘There are many critical questions that require both better scientific understanding and an improved legal, economic, and political framework before iron fertilization can be considered either effective or appropriate,’ said Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist in WHOI’s Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry Department and a participant in two iron fertilization experiments at sea. ‘The time is right to bring scientists, policymakers, and commercial interests together to inform each other and the public.”‘

Though common on land, dissolved iron is rarely found in the oceans. This may be for a good reason as no one is exactly sure what massive blooms of algae would do to ecosystems. The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is holding a conference this week to determine the benefit of iron fertilization and if it may indeed prove to be a safe, cheap, counter-attack to climate change.

While it’s great to have these weapons in hand, the real silver bullet in preventing pollution and catastrophe is to address our own emissions and practices.

Titanic Being Recycled, Turned Into Watches

ByGroovy Green Sep 28, 2007

We’re all for reuse and recycle, but Romain Jerome’s Titanic DNA Watch is borderline macabre/bizarre. Granted, we really dig the design — but taking actual steel from the titanic and incorporating it into a watch? From the release,

“The watches will have black dial faces thanks to lacquer paint, the ingredients of which consist of coal from the Titanic, while pieces of steel from the vessel will also be used in their creation.

Yvan Arpa, Chief Executive of Romain Jerome, revealed that the number of watches made will be limited to 2,012, to coincide with the centenary anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, when it struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York on April 14th 1912.”

We’re pretty sure these things are not going to be cheap; but if you can’t afford the Heart of the Ocean, this might be your next best bet.

Wal-Mart to Sell Only Concentrated Laundry Detergent

ByGroovy Green Sep 28, 2007

It’s been a busy week for the happy smile, but Wal-Mart released a press release stating that they are going to start selling laundry detergent in concentrated amounts only.

From the article:

Wal-Mart expects to sell only concentrated detergent in all of its U.S.
stores by early May 2008 — more than 800 million units over the next three
years. The transition will occur in waves beginning in the Southern region
in October, extending to the North and Midwest by February and finishing in
East coast states in April 2008. (I assume this should be 2009 but it was like this in the article.)
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The Pentagon Is The Largest Consumer Of Oil In The World

ByGroovy Green Sep 27, 2007

Some interesting facts to pass along regarding the US Military and its consumption of oil. According to a Energy Bulleting report from earlier this year, the Pentagon is the world’s largest consumer of oil. In fact, there are only 35 countries (out of 210) in the world that consume more oil per day than the Pentagon. Here’s the breakdown:

>>Fiscal Year 2006 the Pentagon consumed 320,000 barrels per day of site delivered oil, compared to about 360,000 barrels per day in 2005. While consumption may have gone down, prices skyrocketed from $8.5 billion in ‘05 to $17 billion in ‘06.

>>These figures do not include oil for “fuel obtained at no cost overseas, fuel consumed by contractors, fuel consumed in some leased and privatized facilities, and not last but least oil consumed by certain leased and rented fleet vehicles.”
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I Ride My Bike

ByGroovy Green Sep 26, 2007

Enough with the gloom and doom over peak oil and climate change you say. You want an empowering story of change? Alright here’s an example of a personal adjustment I’ve made in my own life in an attempt to address both the above events because after all, the basic answer to both peak oil and climate change is roughly the same. Stop using fossil fuels; or at least cut way back on using them. But that’s so hard everyone says. It can’t be done. Nonsense. Or as Tom Athanasiou recently said, Change is necessary and because it is necessary it is possible.

I decided 2007 would be the year I got rid of my car. Not completely, but I’ve known for some time that driving a car keeps me dependent on the oil economy and pollutes this planet. I’ve known I needed to cut back on my automotive oil addiction. But it wasn’t until 2007 that I got serious about making change. Here are the numbers for the year so far.

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Grooming The (Gen Y) Consumer Generation

ByGroovy Green Sep 24, 2007

As I prepare to head back to school, I’ve been thinking about how interesting it will be to interact with the next generation of students. Many of them will have grown up with the ability to log on to the internet and gain instant information, the ability to contact friends and family at a moments notice, and an overall different perspective on life. Not that I am that much older that they will be, but 10+ years is difference enough to grow up with a completely different set of ideas, beliefs and interests.

I came across a blog post that gives me pause, however. I wonder how many of these students will have spent a lifetime being groomed to grow up and be consumers.

This past weekend I had the occasion to visit a dorm at George Washington University. I hadn’t been in a dorm in years and was shocked at how nice it was. Each room in this particular dorm had its own kitchenette and bathroom. Some rooms have their own washer and dryer. Apparently, this is the norm. When I was in college we were crammed into tiny rooms with no amenities and sharing a bathroom with 6 other girls was the norm. We shared the laundry room with the entire dorm.

Apparently, today’s college students have grown up with certain standards and aren’t going to lower them just because they are in college and away from the comforts of home. In fact, they expect those comforts to follow them there. When deciding where to go to college, dorms and dining halls play as much a part as do the classes and football team.

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The Venturi Astrolabe: A Street-Legal Formula One Solar Car

ByGroovy Green Sep 21, 2007

With a top speed over over 70mph and a range of almost an equivalent amount, the Veunturi solar car allows you to draw stares while commuting to work in Formula One style. 3.6 sqm of photovoltaic cells operating at 21% efficiency work to power what is considered the first ever commercial vehicle that’s capable of using absolutely no fossil resources. From the site,

“Capable of working with very little energy (16 kWc motor) and of recharging even when in motion, this vehicle of another era does not need to be permanently exposed to the sun in order to move. Its last-generation NiMH Venturi NIV-7 batteries ‘liquid cooled’ in fact enable it to restitute stored energy, whether solar or from the electricity supply, making it the first electro-solar hybrid vehicle. To attain this level of performance while using very little energy, Astrolab has been designed like a Formula 1 : its carbon monocoque chassis is ultra-light and serves as an oversized protection cell ensuring the safety of its occupants in the event of a collision. Its profile recalls the aqua-dynamic design of great racing yachts.”

Yum.

The PowerLeap: Harnessing Human Energy With Floor Tiles

ByGroovy Green Sep 20, 2007

Our friend Ruben Miller sent us an email on an alternative energy concept him and his wife submitted to the Metropolis’ Next Generation 2007 competition and we think it’s pretty cool. While the idea of harnessing human energy has been around for awhile, this one actually seems feasible. From the article,

“Imagine a nightclub where dancers generate the venue’s electricity just from the impact of their steps. With Redmond’s innovative flooring system, this vision of a human-powered energy source may be close to a reality. The floor tiles, cast in durable concrete and recycled glass, are fitted with piezoelectric brass-reinforced ceramic plates covered in nickel electrodes. With the impact of each footstep, a metal pointer inside the tile compresses the ceramic plate, generating an electric impulse. The resulting voltage activates four LED lights, visible through the glass surface, allowing energy-generating participants to see the power of their steps.”

This type of technology is intended for high-traffic areas; sidewalks, playgrounds, school hallways, etc. Obviously, you could do away with the LED lights and incorporate the idea into flooring that makes the whole thing less obvious. We love the concept, however, and hope Elizabeth and Ruben keep pushing to make it a reality.

The 4 Day Work Week

ByGroovy Green Sep 20, 2007

The notion of our standard work week here in America has remained largely the same since 1938. That was the year the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed, standardizing the eight hour work day and the 40 hour work week. Each Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday workers all over the country wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast and go to work. But the notion that the majority of the workforce should keep these hours is based on nothing more than an idea put forth but the Federal government almost 70 years ago. To be sure it was an improvement in the lives of many Americans who were at the time forced to work 10+ hours a day, sometimes 6 days of the week. So a 40 hour work week was seen as an upgrade in the lives of many of U.S. citizens. 8 is a nice round number; one third of each 24 hour day. In theory it leaves 8 hours for sleep and 8 hours for other activities like eating, bathing, raising children and enjoying life. But the notion that we should work for 5 of these days in a row before taking 2 for ourselves is, as best I can tell, rather arbitrary.

The idea of a shorter work week is not a new one to anyone old enough to have lived through the energy shocks of the 1970’s. It should be fairly obvious to anyone interested in conserving oil that reducing the number of daily commutes per week would reduce the overall demand for oil. There are about 133 million workers in America. Around 80% of them get to work by driving alone in a car. The average commute covers about 16 miles each way. So let’s stop and do some math:

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The Not-So-Green Picture: First Air Conditioned Bus Station

ByGroovy Green Sep 17, 2007

First Air Conditioned Bus StationDubai is boasting of their latest creation: the first air-conditioned bus station in the world; ironically located next to some recycle bins in this photo. Instead of employing some green building techniques to reduce the heat, the affluent country opted instead to build an energy-hungry haven instead. Not only that, but more than 800 of them are planned in the coming years.

UPDATED: Making Homemade Laundry Soap

ByGroovy Green Sep 14, 2007

Last night after cooking supper I decided to cook up a batch of laundry soap. A friend had sent me the recipe for homemade laundry soap a while back and I’ve been anxious to try it since. I followed the recipe shown here (if you check the comments there is even one for a dry laundry soap.)

eco friendly soapFirst things first, I got some water boiling and started to carve up the bar of soap. We used Caress, which I don’t recommend, the smell was overpowering. And it reminded me of my grandmother too much. If you purchased a bar of eco friendly soap you’d be in even better shape. Or a local bar of soap would be good too.

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Solar (Assisted) Electric Boat Navigates the Erie Canal

ByGroovy Green Sep 13, 2007

This news story caught my eye during the busy month of August. While electric cars have been the talk of the green blogosphere over the last year, this is the first instance I’ve heard of electric boating.On August 12, the Tamarack Lake Boating company launched “The Loon” a pontoon boat with 738 watts of solar panels mounted on its cover, and a 30 mile range on its 48 Volt deep-cycle battery array. (Syracuse.com)

With the flick of a switch, Canadian boat builder Monte Gisborne turned on his solar-powered pontoon boat, The Loon, and quietly slipped out of Oswego Harbor.

“It’s beautiful. It’s my first time on this canal and it’s beautiful,” Gisborne said as The Loon approached the Minetto Bridge. “The sky is clear, there’s a nice breeze blowing and people along the shoreline are waving I couldn’t be happier.”

The 12-day journey will take the Gisbornes – Monte is accompanied by his wife, Denise,
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Green Ideas We’d Like To See: The Bike-Shopping Cart

ByGroovy Green Sep 5, 2007

I had a great idea forwarded to me by RubenMiller through StumbleUpon. Basically, it’s a shopping cart bike that adds to the already growing list of ways you can go bagless at the supermarket. In his own words,

“Here’s a scenario: Imagine riding up to the grocery with a shopping cart bike. You park your bike at a rack and unlatch the cart to wheel into the store. Without using any bags, you can pay, put the groceries back in your cart, hitch up to your bike and ride off!

Some years back, IDEO worked on a concept for a smart shopping cart. I wasn’t sure how practical it would really be. Somehow, I think this simpler variation is much more likely to make it past prototype phase and into real stores.

You might argue that multi-level dwellers couldn’t manage without bags, but for those who don’t have an elevator, a removable insert/basket could be built into the design.”

It’s a cool idea — perhaps not practical for all and a little unwieldy — but an interesting integration beyond the traditional bike basket. What do you think?

Excess Nightime Grid Energy Could Power More Than 70% Of Electric Vehicles

ByGroovy Green Sep 3, 2007

According to a recent U.S. Department of Energy study, there is so much excess energy on the U.S. grid nightly that if every light-duty car and truck in America today used plug-in hybrid technology, 73 percent of them could be plugged in and “fueled” without constructing a single new power plant. So much for the myth that electric vehicles will cause more emissions.

The Portland Press has a great article on the potential benefits of harnessing this excess energy and making the switch to plug-in vehicles. Apparently, each night there is a large amount of renewable power generation capacity that sits idle. Tapping into this source by plugging in our vehicles at night would harness a vastly unused portion of the U.S. grid. From the article,

“Studies have shown that plug-in hybrids produce at least 67 percent fewer harmful emissions than a standard gasoline-powered car. Even when accounting for emissions from the production of electricity, national studies have shown greenhouse gas production would fall by almost 40 percent if plug-in hybrids became commonplace. Plug-in hybrids could easily be expected to get over 100 miles per gallon of gasoline, and owners would do most of their refueling at home where the equivalent cost of electricity is about $1 per gallon.”

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300 Organic Gardening Tips

ByGroovy Green Aug 28, 2007

If you are just getting started with organic gardening perhaps you should look over these tips to help you get started.

Some of my favorites include:

Mulch your flower beds and trees with 3″ of organic material – it conserves water, adds humus and nutrients, and discourages weeds. It gives your beds a nice, finished appearance. (mulching is sooo important)

Think “biodiversity”. Using many different kinds of plants encourage many different kinds of beneficial insects to take up residence in your yard.

To deter deer from grazing in your landscape, try placing strongly scented bar soap, or human hair, around your plants. The hair can be “recycled” from a salon or barber shop. (this doesn’t work for Iowa deer, but maybe others)

Preparing Australian Agriculture for Rising Energy Costs and Water Insecurity

ByGroovy Green Aug 24, 2007

Don’t let the common first name confuse you. The following is a guest post by Aaron Edmonds. Aaron was a 2002 Australian Nuffield Scholar and researched how broadacre agriculture was going to need to adapt to manage the follow through effects of the Peak Oil crisis. Ironically this Scholarship was initially established by the philanthropist Lord William Nuffield, the inventor of the Morris Minor car, where after the Second World War he saw food supplies dwindle to dangerously low levels in the UK. Aaron farms 2000 hectares in the Central Wheatbelt of Western Australia with his family and is pioneering the development and adoption of low input broadacre agriculture. Many thanks to Aaron for permission to republish this essay.

Preparing Australian Agriculture for Rising Energy Costs and Water Insecurity

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A ‘Planet Earth’ Contest!

ByGroovy Green Aug 22, 2007

If you haven’t seen the recently released BBC production of Planet Earth: The Complete Series. You don’t know what you’re missing. This series is an exquisite look at life on Earth in all its spectacular variety and breathtaking wonder.

Whether you watch it simply for the fantastic images masterfully caught on film or use this documentary as a way to educate and inform you and your family about life on Earth, the Planet Earth series is a fantastic portrayal of this wonderful world of nature of which we are all a part. I can’t recommend it more highly. And… we’re giving away five copies.

You can read my entire review of the series here or you can just skip below to our contest.

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Your Green Hideout: Five Crazy Cool Eco Spaces For The Ultimate Retreat

ByGroovy Green Aug 20, 2007

When I was younger, I wanted one day to have a Bat Cave just like Bruce Wayne. Then, Batman Begins came out a few years ago and I wanted a cave to call my own all over again. There are some obvious problems with finding such a perfect geological feature to compliment any home — so I’ve lately downgraded my dreams to building the perfect eco hideout instead; the type of place I can wander through backyard woods or across a field in the middle of nowhere to get to. The type of place where you can hunker down for a few weeks at a time and not worry about looking like Tom Hanks halfway through Castaway. Modern, earth-friendly, and cozy — with all the high-tech renewable energy systems and gizmos I can cram into it. Think Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond but with an Xbox360, skylights, and solar panels.

Below are four “Eco Spaces” that are unique and perfectly designed to give you the privacy you need without losing any of the comforts. Some are easier — and less expensive — than others, but the end results for all are striking.

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Solar Powered Wireless Means Backcountry Internet For Eco Geeks.

ByGroovy Green Aug 20, 2007

So you’ve got the backwoods hobbit house, the flexible solar panel for charging your laptop, and a wind-powered chimney for everything else. Problem is, you’re three acres away from the nearest wireless signal and you’d love to actually get some work done. Up until now, there weren’t many options — besides some homebrew kits — for making it all come together. Thankfully, a company called Meraki has introduced a $549 router/repeater kit powered by solar and capable of forming a WiFi mesh network with other units. Not only does this thing stand up to rain, snow, sleet, wind, hail, and direct sunlight, but it also optionally allows you to charge for people to access your network — including the ability to run ads and other clever marketing.

Right now San Francisco is currently the test market for these solar WiFi networks. Backed by Google, Meraki is making some serious waves in distributing wireless to the world. This innovation will be especially useful for setting up networks in developing countries a good distance away from electricity or network access. The solar kit will be available sometime in late 2007. Stay tuned.

Resomation: Your New High-Tech Option For Eco-Friendly Burial

ByGroovy Green Aug 19, 2007

ecoburialI have a fascination with eco-friendly burial here on Groovy. Mainly because I’ve learned too much about the ‘traditional, modern’ methods and I’ve been scared shitless about what might be done to my body after I’ve passed. Seriously, if you take a look at some of our articles on the topic, you’ll agree that worms are a pleasant alternative to embalming.

One of the alternatives that’s championed and has grown in use here in the States is the use of cremation. Interestingly, of all the methods beyond conventional burial, this one is the least earth-friendly. First off, cremation uses an immense amount of energy to reduce your body to ash. Additionally, a great deal of mercury is released into the air from the process, mainly because of tooth fillings. In the UK alone, it is estimated that crematories contribute almost 16% of annual mercury emissions.

So, what to do if you still want to speed the decay process along and become ashes to ashes before your friends at the local cemetery (who, will actually become soup)? A new technology called Resomation aims to produce the same result — but with water instead of flame.

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Introducing The Wind-Powered Cell Phone Charger. Yup.

ByGroovy Green Aug 17, 2007

Looking for a portable charger? The world of renewable energy has lately been flooded with gadgets of all kinds featuring solar panels and hand cranks offering you endless opportunities to stick it to the man and get your juice for free. Up until now, wind energy has been left out in the breeze. No longer.

Orange, the U.K.-based telecommunications firm, has announced plans to launch The Orange Mobile Wind Charger, a mini turbine that “latches on to the top of a tent and stores power in a separate “control box” that users can plug into when their mobiles need juice.”

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Adventures In Sustainability: Grow My Little Jatropha, Grow

ByGroovy Green Aug 14, 2007

Well, it’s been over two months since I started my little Jatropha experiment and I thought I would chime in on how things are coming. First of all, Jatropha is incredibly easy to grow. I had a delay of about three weeks with my initial seeds since most of it was “old” Jat seed according to some growers and stymied my efforts. In desperation to up the odds, I planted about 20 seeds into one container and was finally rewarded with about six plants. After a few weeks, I transferred two of the strongest plants to a larger container and they’ve taken off in their new home. Surprisingly, the other four plants are doing fine (albeit with not as dramatic growth) and continue to increase in foliage.

Jatropha PlantSince I’ve had some time to spend growing this plant, I’ve also discovered some interesting facts. For instance, this is a deciduous tree. I’ve always heard it referred to as a ‘weed’ but this may be because it has an easy time adapting to poor soil conditions, droughts, and can survive almost anywhere it stay relatively above 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, Jatropha can grow 8-10 meters tall under the right conditions. Once it drops its leaves and flowers, the seeds will follow shortly afterwards and then mature three months later. It’s at this point that we can attempt some biofuel extraction.

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$30,000 Electric Car By 2009. And It’s Not The Volt

ByGroovy Green Aug 12, 2007

The electric car market is going to heat up in the next couple years. Which is a good thing — because I’m sick and tired of oil changes and all the other crap currently plaguing my combustible engine. I’m not under the illusion that I’ll have no issues with an electric vehicle (especially during NY winters), but I have more confidence that I’ll feel a lot less dependent on fuel and seriously giddy every time I drive by a gas station. But I digress…

News today from CNN Money of an electric car that goes 80mph, travels 120 miles at 60mph, and costs $30,000. It’s called the XS 500 from Miles Automotive and while that number may not be financially practical for most people, it represents a true price shift from current available models. How is it possible to market such a vehicle so soon? Two words: Cheap Labor. From the article,

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Growing Our Own And More On The Bullseye Diet

ByGroovy Green Aug 9, 2007

The Bullseye DietIt was mainly Peak Oil that drove me out into my garden with a new mission; no longer just to grow a few tomatoes for fun each summer, but in an effort to grow the majority of the food my family eats. I set out a goal of producing more calories than I consume on my own property and within 5 years. I called my project ‘Growing My Own’. But there were others factors tugging at me, entreating me to take personal responsibility for the needs of my diet.

And I can see now that there are lots of other people becoming interested in local food and they’re doing so for a variety of reasons. Some of them want to avoid the potential health threats increasingly associated with industrial agriculture. You can get your daily update of just what food has been recently recalled as a health hazard by visiting this handy website the U.S. FDA recall website. The fact that such a site exists is a telltale sign of our increasingly dysfunctional relationship with what we eat. To be sure there have always been local incidents of accidental food poisonings and the like, but now that our system of growing and distributing food is so centralized, the risk of mass contamination from food borne illness is much higher. My favorite example is the recent Castleberry’s Chili recall in which cans were literally bursting with botulism. In the face of all the human health problems swirling around the anonymous origins of industrial food, many people are now opting to get their food from known local sources.

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Kate Bosworth Litters at Global Cool

ByGroovy Green Aug 8, 2007

I can’t believe we are following up a happy green post on Orlando & Kate promoting the environment with this.

Says the Mirror:

Bloom was furious when Kate – who plays Lois Lane in Superman Returns – dropped some litter and a cigarette butt at a green charity’s rock festival in Japan. The Pirates Of The Caribbean star was embarrassed because he was there to make a speech…

Our source revealed: “Japan’s very clean and everybody carries around disposable ash trays to stub out their cigarettes.”

“Orlando had a massive go at her. He said they were meant to be there to promote the environment and she was chucking litter around. There was a lot offing and blinding. Kate kept saying ‘nobody saw, I don’t know what your problem is’.”

Orlando, 29, had planned to be at the festival for two days. But they cut short the trip and flew to Tokyo where Kate, 23, was plugging Superman.

We hope the lovebirds don’t let a bit of litter come between them…

As for these “ashtrays to go” that were mentioned? The pouch says: ”The earth is not your ashtray.”  Well, actually, it says, “The earth is ont your ashtray,” but we get the picture.

We need this to become popular in the US. Maybe then we’ll stop catching these “green” celebrities, RED-handed.