Monthly ArchiveJanuary 2007

Governor Spitzer Proposes “Bigger, Better Bottle Bill” As Part of Budget

ByGroovy Green Jan 31, 2007

This is the 25th year that New York has had a 5 cent deposit on all soda cans and bottles. According to NYPIRG this means over 5 million tons of recycleable glass, plastic and aluminum has been kept out of our state’s landfills. Our current rate for recycling deposit containers is at 80%, 70% through bottle redemption and 10% through curbside pickup. This is an impressive rate that has rid streets, parks and lots of refuse, and saved energy and reduced landfill.

It has been hard to ignore the explosion in popularity of sports drinks, iced tea and bottled water over the past decade. These bottles are currently exempt from the 5 cent deposit in NY state, although they are accepted in curbside recycling pickup. Despite the availability of blue bin recycling, only 20% of non-deposit containers are recycled. You can see it in airports, workplaces and schools, plastic water bottles fill trash cans – and head straight to the landfill. Not valuable to those searching for redeemable containers, they remain as litter on the side of the road and in the street.

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Iceberg The Size Of London Coming For Ships, Your Children, This Summer

ByGroovy Green Jan 29, 2007

Like something out of a Michael Bay movie (written and directed), Scientists are ringing the warning bells of danger over an imposing mass of ice set to wreak havoc on shipping lanes this summer. The two-million-ton, 25-square-mile block of ice is part of the Ayles ice shelf and was recently spotted using NASA satellites. While it is a docile beast this “winter” season, come summer, it will slowly start to drift as pack ice melts away. This is bad news for oil rigs and large commercial ships. Imagine seeing an island come towards you the size of London….

From the article, “The ice could move several hundred miles over the summer, taking it closer to busy shipping routes for oil and gas. “If it ever came on a collision course with an oil rig, it is unlikely that we would be able to do much to stop it,” said Dr Copland. “Maybe you would have to consider aerial bombardment to break it up, or use lots of tugs to try and move it, but it would be a lot of ice to move.”

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US Answer To Global Warming: Giant Space Mirrors and Balloons

ByGroovy Green Jan 27, 2007

Giant Space Mirrors and BalloonsI think George has been watching a little too much TV lately. Was there a James Bond marathon on that I failed to catch? In a massive three-year study by the UN on climate change, to be release this coming Friday, the U.S. appeals for the world’s scientists to develop technology to block sunlight as a last-ditch way to halt global warming. I kid you not. Stop laughing.

The report is being prepared by the the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and “will underpin international negotiations to devise a new emissions treaty to succeed Kyoto, the first phase of which expires in 2012. World governments were given a draft of the report last year and invited to comment.”

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Power Play: MSNBC Gives You The 411 On Nuclear Energy

ByGroovy Green Jan 25, 2007

If you haven’t noticed, there’s a bit of a renaissance happening in the nuclear power plant industry. A decade ago, no one — not even government officials — mentioned the technology. Now, with the Bush Administration in power the last six years, environmental concerns over coal burning plants, and an influx of investment, the topic is back and hotter than ever.

This week, MSNBC.com has a fascinating five-part article, called Power Play, on the return of nuclear energy into the social consciousness. Of course, it’s not like it ever truly went anywhere. After all, 20% of the energy flowing through the U.S. comes from nuclear energy. What is interesting, however, is how the industry — once considered unsafe and expensive — has turned around their image and now has as many as 31 new nuclear reactors on the drawing board for U.S. soil.

The article chronicles the money, the technology, and the criticism of the industry. Obviously, for the all the wonderful emission-free electricity generated by nuclear power, there’s tons of radioactive waste (close to 47,000 metric tons!) and the threat (although lessened in modern plants) of a disaster on scale with Chernobyl. There are plans to bury that waste at the Yucca Mountain facility in Nevada, but such fixes are more than 10 years away and may never happen at all. So, we have all this waste to still contend with.

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Revive the Victory Garden!

ByGroovy Green Jan 24, 2007

I am obsessed with food. Of all of things that we can purchase, food is the one thing that nourishes us. Yes, items can nourish our soul, but food is what nourishes our bodies – – it provides us with energy so that we can live. I think this is why so many of my posts are about food. We cannot go without.

60 years ago we were at war. We were fighting an enemy at faraway lands. Our government encouraged us to plant gardens at home. People came together to fight this enemy by planting gardens in their backyards. These gardens could help us fight the enemy from home and gave our citizens a sense of national purpose. Magazines told people how to plant and tend to a garden. Co-ops were developed. This community effort brought together families and neighbors to provide their own food so that more was available for the war effort.

Today we are again at war. This enemy does not have a face. It is not an enemy that we can see. However, this enemy can threaten the nature of our lives and planet. This enemy is global warming. Let’s fight is by planting a garden. A victory garden over global warming.

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Eco Fashion Q&A: Denim Repair and Cheap Style

ByGroovy Green Jan 24, 2007

It’s that time again! Question four comes from Mallory: I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the company Denim Therapy. Basically the revive old jeans by sort of reweaving the fabric where it’s torn or ripped. They estimate the cost at $7 per inch. I love the idea, but to me it seems like more than most people would be willing to pay. I think most people would just go buy a new pair of jeans. I was wondering if you have any other leads on other similar companies? This is the only one I know of quite like this. It’s one of those things that, as with so many green products and services, I think people would be interested in but they’re most worried about the immediate cost and it’s hard to think about long term costs when you’re trying to make ends meet, etc. What are some other cheap but green fashion alternatives?

It’s official Mallory – you win the award for the longest question :) There are two inquiries mixed in with all that, but answering them in one post should be no problem.

For denim repair, I don’t know of any companies that focus on that service, besides Denim Therapy of course. This leaves you with a host of other options:

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The Human Car: Street Legal Mass Transport Flintstones-Style

ByGroovy Green Jan 24, 2007

I always appreciated the efforts of Barney and Fred in The Flintstones to push around their apparently heave stone vehicles with only their legs for power. And let’s get one thing straight, regardless of Fred’s eating habits, the guy must have been in excellent shape.

These days, we’re all fat-fat-fattys in our vehicles, relying on millions of years of ‘ancient sunglight’ to get us to our destinations. Sure, we can bike it, but if you’ve got a family to move, biking sometimes isn’t the safest option. Enter The Human Powered Car. This street-legal four passenger vehicle relies on human energy (think: rowing machine exercise) to get you where you’re going. Apparently, there is also a human/electric hybrid available, which would dramatically help in those steep up-hill climbs. Priced at $7K, the company has 750 units available for this year. Take a look at the video below for more details. Your legs might not look like Fred’s after using this ‘car’, but you arms may look more like Arnold’s.

Nobel Laureates Speak Out on Global Warming!

ByGroovy Green Jan 23, 2007

I just read an interesting article in the San Francisco Chronicle.  Six Nobel Laureates spoke recently at UC Berkeley on the ways and means of battling global warming. The general consensus is that with all the technology our fight against global warming is futile if we the people aren’t doing our part:

 ”Science is not the problem,” said Donald Glaser, a UC Berkeley physics professor who won the Nobel Prize in 1960. “We can certainly build fuel-efficient cars. (But) year after year, Congress has refused to improve the mileage requirements for automobiles. We have to get together as a democracy and get our government to make changes.”

I think this notion can apply to other things as well.  I have since changed out all the light bulbs in my home to cfl’s.  All my appliances are energy star-rated, and I’m saving up to change my toilets to dual-flush.  All in an effort to conserve and try to do my part .  This article reassured me that even the little things we do make a difference, and collectively we can have a huge impact!

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How to Build a Cold Frame

ByGroovy Green Jan 15, 2007

Are you looking to get a jump on your spring lettuce crop? Having trouble getting your eggplants seeds to sprout on the window sill? Perhaps your spouse doesn’t appreciate soil, seeds and peat containers all over the house for 2 months during late winter? Sounds as if you need a mini greenhouse or cold frame to solve your problems. Here are easy directions for how to build your own.

Step One: Stop and pick up old windows from the curb- the bigger the better. Plenty of people throw away old windows when they get new ones. If you’re shy about other people’s trash, try calling a window contractor and asking what he does with the old windows he replaces. Offer to trade him vegetables for them.

Step Two: Measure the glass from frame to frame

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Burpee now owned by Monsanto? (updated)

ByGroovy Green Jan 7, 2007

Thanks to some fact checkers, I need to update. Burpee is not owned by Monsanto. Burpee is privately owned. Burpee DOES carry some Seminis seeds, and Seminis is now owned by Monsanto.

Angela posted a comment blogged about her findings.

From her article:

“A spokeperson for Seminis, Mica Veihman spoke with me this morning and answered all my questions. Veihman said Seminis has “no intent to purchase Burpee” and this supposed email message was a complete rumor.

Burpee is a dealer of Seminis garden products which is probably how this rumor originated. They have been a customer of Seminis for over 20 years. Other familiar seed catalog companies that purchase from Seminis are Jung Seed, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, and Park Seed. A full list of current distributors is available here.”

Thankfully this was just a nasty rumor.

Citizenre PV: Coming to a Roof Near You?

ByGroovy Green Jan 6, 2007

Imagine if to go wireless, mobile phones companies made you purchase a kit to install your own tower for $8k, and then shipped you a box of minuscule widgets and a soldering gun that you have to somehow assemble into a Razor. I’m pretty sure the market density of cell phones would be about as weak as that of PV, because that is the marketing strategy that Solar Energy is currently operating under.

ce_logo1Now imagine you could sign a contract, and have clean, green solar energy installed at your home by professionals and pay a nominal monthly fee based on your usage with no initial outlay. Tempted? The Citizenre Corporation is counting on it. What they are offering is the chance for average Americans to have the privilege of a Solar Array on their roof. According to their website it will be as simple as having one of their technicians do a site assessment, the signing of a 1,5,or 25 year forward rental agreement (FRA) and a safety deposit of $500 (reasonable for $25k in equipment!). At the signing of the agreement you will lock in your current cost per KwH and pay Citizenre that amount for any watts their equipment sends into your home thru an interconnected inverter. For anyone who is remotely Eco Aware this is Earth Shattering. But that elation is followed immediately by “where’s the catch?”. Talk to a REnU rep and they answer simply “there is none!”. Hmmm.

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How To Grow (and make) Your Own Tea!

ByGroovy Green Jan 2, 2007

When the world goes to hell, and you no longer have ample supplies of crappy Linton tea bags lying around (but you really don’t have those do you?), it will be refreshing to know that you’re not powerless. Granted, growing tea is not something out of the realm of thought (like growing your own shower Luffa), but did you ever really consider it? Maybe I’m alone, but a great article I found today has inspired me to grow tea leaves, as well as a shower luffa for the coming season. Perhaps you’ll had them to your list as well?

According to the author, it’s really not that difficult. However, one hindrance to interested readers might be the Zone 8 region (mid-west to southern USA) requirement for outdoor success. For people living above this zone, it’s worth giving it a shot indoors or in a greenhouse. From the article,

” The Camellia sinensis plant is a small shrub about 1-2 meters in height, though it will grow taller if you don’t prune it. In the fall, your tea shrub will flower with small white blossoms that have a delightful scent. These plants are often grown as ornamentals. For planting, Camellia sinensis likes well-drained and sandy soil that is on the acidic side. If you are going to grow your tea in a container, add some sphagnum moss to the potting mix. You’ll need some patience, too. Your plant should be around 3 years old before you start harvesting leaves.”

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