Author Archive Groovy Green

Seeing Green: Nikon Releases Eco-Friendly Binoculars

ByGroovy Green Apr 3, 2009

I never really thought of binoculars are being a contributor to environmental degradation, but after reading what Nikon has done to remove certain nasties from the production of their new “Ecobins” binocs, it’s evident that even uncommon goods are in need of some reform.

The Ecobins feature some nice green touches — like lead and arsenic-free Eco-Glass™ lenses and prisms, non-chloride rubber, and biodegradable materials for the case and strap (made without the use of harmful inks or dyes). The packaging is also eco-friendly, being produced from eighty-five percent post-consumer waste and printed on recyclable FiberStone® paper. The usual bells and whistles associated with binoculars are also included. From Gizmag:

Ecobins are waterproof and fogproof, use aspherical eyepiece lenses designed to deliver distortion-free viewing, internal blackening to minimize light loss inside binocular tubes and multi-coated lenses for improved brightness, contrast and true color.

Well played, Nikon. Well played.

Rain Barrel Rain Chains Offer A Pleasing Alternative To Downspouts

ByGroovy Green Mar 23, 2009

Ever forward on my mission to get more people using rain barrels, I wanted to draw some attention today to the beauty of rain chains. Since aesthetics outside the home is often of great importance to some, plastic or metal downspouts can sometimes be less than pleasing going into your rustic rain barrel. Rain chains are a nice alternative if you’re looking for something else to complete the picture. Harvest H20 gives us a great description of how they work:

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The Jellyfish: A 36” Personal Wind Turbine For The Masses

ByGroovy Green Mar 16, 2009

Imagine a personal wind turbine that can power a home filled with LED lights — and also only cost $400. Such is the idea behind the Jellyfish — a 36” tall vertical-axis turbine that is a semi-finalist in Google’s 10 to the 100th contest–$10 million for the 5 ideas that helps the most people.

The inventor, Chad Maglaque, figures the total cost of the turbine could be brought down to only $199 — if subsidized with tax rebates. His current version, which he believes is only 12-to-18-months away from stores, is Wi-Fi and WiMax equipped and outputs 40 kWh a month. That’s not enough to take your home off-grid, but it would offset a percentage of energy consumption from other, not-so-green sources. Here’s a bit more detail from the website:

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Get the Ball Rolling to Get Plastic Bags Off the Streets

ByGroovy Green Mar 14, 2009

Last year, Americans used over 100 billion plastic bags. Fortunately, thousands of enlightened shoppers are changing the way they shop (for good), by pledging to get off the plastic. Join the movement and get the ball rolling. Together we can keep 1 billion plastic bags off our street this year.

Philips Master LED Bulb Is Oh So Pretty, Pricey, Promising

ByGroovy Green Mar 9, 2009

Philips has announced that their new Master LED Bulb will be ready for mass consumption this coming July. For all the energy-savings that CFL bulbs have given us, they’ve also had some PR issues — especially when it comes to light color and mercury. LED takes everything that CFL offers, turns up the efficiency (over 30x more long-lasting than a incandescent bulb), and contains no mercury.

There are still some issues to work out with LED — one being that this Philips is expected to cost $50-$70. But price and aesthetics will be resolved over time. I just find it amazing that with this technology in place, my kid won’t know what it’s like to change a light bulb for many, many, years.

Green Mansion Comes With An Ocean Floor View

ByGroovy Green Mar 6, 2009

While the words “green” and “mansion” don’t really play nice together, this home — called the Acqua Liana — is certainly a testament to big-thinking green design.

Coming in at over 15,000 square-feet, the Liana resides on about 1.6 acres near the Atlantic Ocean. It is the first home to be built and certified to the rigorous “green” standards as defined and mandated by the U.S. Green Building Council, the Florida Green Building Council and Energy Star for Homes. Some of the green features include:

Solar panels generating enough energy to run the entire home on certain days (generating enough electricity to run 2 average sized homes). When combining the home’s solar use, energy efficient appliances and air-conditioning, insulative characteristics and overall architectural design, the home’s automated bio-feedback system will display its energy efficiency in real time.

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The Green Picture: Church Becomes A Part Of Mother Nature

ByGroovy Green Mar 5, 2009

I’m a big fan of watching nature re-claim buildings — and this is a perfect example of that. Best I can tell, this is a church in Toronto. Now, I’m not sure whether the building is abandoned or if someone has been neglecting the ivy. Either way, there’s certainly not much sunlight entering through that window anymore!

Bokashi Composting: The Urban Solution For Organic Waste?

ByGroovy Green Mar 1, 2009

With Spring so close I can barely stand to wait, I’m making plans for the garden, ordering seeds, and getting ready to reorganize my compost pile. See, during the winter months I’ve been reading up on what an absolutely shitty job I’ve done with my current compost layout. Sure, it’s better than nothing, but I could be getting my food and yard scraps to break down much faster with a bit of proper setup.

Anyways, while continuing this research, I came upon a post over on CleanTechnica discussing the composting technique called Bokashi. Basically, it’s a high-speed breakdown process that takes advantage of anaerobic mirobes. Instead of placing your food scraps in an outdoor, open-air bin — you shove them into an air-tight bin. CleanTechnica gives us the deets:

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A Great Big Food Garden Tax Break and Stimulus Package

ByGroovy Green Feb 11, 2009

This is a guest post by Ed Bruske. He writes at The Slow Cook.  Ed lives in the District of Columbia. A reporter for the Washington Post in a previous life, he now tends his “urban farm” about a mile from the White House in the District of Columbia. Ed believes in self-reliance, growing food close to home and political freedom for the residents of the District of Columbia.

Warning: The following may contain dangerously subversive thoughts. Young children should probably leave the room….

Although I believe in food gardening, I am also convinced that we will only get so far trying to persuade Americans that there is a healthier way to eat, and that growing your own is a big part of the answer. But I also know there’s something else Americans care very much about: money. That’s why I am proposing right here and right now a big fat tax break on kitchen gardens that will not only spur our fellow citizens to start digging up their lawns like crazy, but will fit right in with President Obama’s economic stimulus efforts by getting everyone busy buying seeds and garden tools.

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Dan Phillips’ Revolutionary Idea of Half Priced Homes

ByGroovy Green Feb 9, 2009

Using “trash” (construction and other refuse) to build homes.  Quote “in a town this size would otherwise be discarding usable building materials that could build a small scale house a week…  That’s crazy!  when we have families that would do anything to own a house.”  Great ideas, funky original homes.

Instructables – Stay Warm Contest

ByGroovy Green Feb 4, 2009

I am an avid reader of DIY projects. Before I begin a project of my own I will most likely spend hours researching and looking at similar projects done by others. One of my favorite sites for finding the real creative and well documented projects is instructables.com.

They recently held a contest to see what their readers could do with used plastic bottles. The entries ranged from an algae bioreactor to fenders on a bike. Currently they are running a contest entitled the Stay Warm Contest: “We want to know what ways you’re staying warm this winter without using of lots of fuel or energy in the process.”  Grand Prize is a sleeping bag and an Instructables Robot t-shirt, patch, and stickers. So GG readers head on over and submit your Stay Warm projects. (Contest ends Feb. 8th)

Discovery Of Giant Snake Fossil Gives Hope To Rainforests Surviving Climate Change

ByGroovy Green Feb 4, 2009

I spied this incredible story today about a giant fossilized snake — almost 43-feet long — that was discovered in one of the world’s biggest open-cast coalmines, in Cerrejon, Colombia. The massive reptile dined on giant crocodiles and turtles, had a height up to your hip, and weighed some 1,600 pounds.

Fantastic images of snakes the size of buses aside, what’s truly interesting about this story is what such a former living creature can tell us about past rainforests — and their abilities to survive climate change. From the article,

Based on T. cerrejonensis, the scientists calculate that the mean annual temperature in equatorial South America 60 million years ago would have been 30-34 degrees Celsius, or 86-93 degrees Fahrenheit. That makes it around 3-4 C (5.5-7.2 F) hotter than tropical rainforests today.
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Programmable Thermostat Giveaway!

ByGroovy Green Feb 1, 2009

UPDATE:  One last day to enter!  Send me your pics today for a chance to win!  (see contest rules below)

 

Time for a great giveaway at Groovy Green.  Home Depot is showcasing its energy saving products, and now is your chance to upgrade your old thermostat.  This Ritetemp 7-day programmable thermostat mounts flush to your wall, is mercury free, and can save you up to $150 per year on your heating and cooling costs.

Here’s the contest rules:

  • You must live in the United States.
  • You have to be over 18.
  • You must be willing to send us a picture of the thermostat after you’ve installed it.

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Reflections at The End of The (Stainless Steel) Gilded Age

ByGroovy Green Jan 17, 2009

Since the nation has entered the recession to end all recessions, it’s time to do a little self-reflection on what we’ve been spending our money on over the past decade…  Joel Stein of the L.A. Times has come out with his list of the “relics of the good old days“.  I heard about this on a radio program (I won’t say which one) and had to look it up.  Some of the best and snarkiest commentary on our society…

In the clear recessionary morning, all that stuff we’ve been binge buying suddenly looks gaudy and ridiculous. It’s been a 25-year blur of fluorescent Frankie Sez shirts, logo handbags, Hummers and ring tones. We need to have one giant national garage sale and invite the world.

If there are pictures of you with any of the things listed below on Facebook, immediately remove them. Replace them with one of those stately, unsmiling group portraits our grandparents and great-grandparents took that made us feel like we came from important stock. You don’t want your descendants to lose all hope when they realize that Great-Grandpa Jaden was flashing fake gang signs at Treasure Island while downing a Grey Goose and Red Bull before his “American Idol” audition.

Tasting menus: The idea that an appetizer, entree and dessert wasn’t enough — that you had to taste everything — was a pretty clear sign we were on our way toward being a fat, indebted nation. If Morgan Spurlock had tried to follow up “Super Size Me” with a movie in which he had to go 30 days eating only tasting menus — and accept the wine pairings if they were offered — he would have died by Week 2. I went with four people to Per Se in New York, and two of them barfed as soon as we got home. To be fair, it was the most delicious barf they’d ever had.
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Is it Time to Make Music More Green?

ByGroovy Green Jan 17, 2009

Cliff Hunt on the Huffington Post recently mentioned that it was time for the music business to get more green. Hell, he makes a convincing argument for ways they can both save money, and save the planet.

In a process that hasn’t changed much in decades, record labels send out CDs packaged with printed promotional materials to what are hoped to be the right influencers at radio stations. Radio station personnel, bombarded by these packages, end up not having the time to go through them all and many end up in the trash. Not only are those CDs extremely difficult to recycle, but it has been estimated that getting them to the stations consumes about 0.7 pounds of fossil fuel per CD, from production to shipping.

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Is it Time to Sign Up for E-billing?

ByGroovy Green Jan 14, 2009

Ebillplace.com released a video recently discussing some of the environmental impact of replacing your paper bills with electronic bills.  I was surprised by the impact and just had to share.

· Eliminating the mail Americans receive in one day could produce enough energy to heat 250,000 homes.

· Every year, producing and transporting paper checks has the same environmental impact as burning 674 million gallons of fuel. That’s 1,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools full of gas, oil and diesel fuel.

· If every American turned off just one paper bill, it would save enough paper to stack as tall as 1,000 Empire State buildings.

Wind Turbine Attacked By UFO, Investigation Underway

ByGroovy Green Jan 8, 2009

Could it be that the alien invasion promised in the film The Day The Earth Stood Still is underway? In the flick, if humans didn’t clean up their act with regards to the planet, a can of whoop-ass was going to be opened on them. According to some locals living in Lincolnshire, UK, such world ending promises are being carried out — on wind turbines of all things. From the article,

An investigation was under way today into how a 65ft blade was mysteriously torn off a wind turbine amid reports of “strange lights” in the sky. The 300ft turbine at Conisholme in Lincolnshire was left wrecked after the incident. The Sun quoted residents speculating that the damage could have been caused by a UFO. The Sun said flashing orange-yellow spheres had been seen by dozens of people in the area, including by Dorothy Willows, who lives half a mile from the scene of the incident. Ms Willows was in her car when she saw the lights. “She said: “The lights were moving across the sky towards the wind farm. Then I saw a low flying object. It was skimming across the sky towards the turbines.” The blade was ripped off hours later, at 4am.

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Ever Wonder How Large Those Super-Big Wind Turbines Are?

ByGroovy Green Jan 6, 2009

Just one look at the above photo gives you a sense of just how large a 3.6MW wind turbine really is. The image comes to us from Eurocopter — who were just contracted to be used exclusively for wind farm maintenance in the UK. Apparently, these 3.6MW monsters are so tall that it’s a bit quicker to get up there via helicopter and make emergency repairs than to try and scale ‘em through the internal ladder system.

Called the “Greater Gabbard wind farm” near the East Anglia coast — the 140 turbines will be located 20 miles from land in the North Sea. When completed in 2010, it will be the largest wind farm in the world.

Meraki Finally Releases Solar Powered Repeaters

ByGroovy Green Dec 11, 2008

Back in Summer 2007, I gushed over wireless hardware provider Meraki and their announcement of a solar-powered repeater. There are several scenarios — from college campuses to farms — where expanding wireless coverage is limited based on access to electrical outlets. Unfortunately, Meraki’s product wasn’t quite ready for prime time and I was left wondering if it would ever see the light of day.

Well, never underestimate a company partially backed by Google. Their new solar-powered repeaters are now for sale and look more robust and ready for Mother Nature than ever before. From the site,

“Each unit is completely self-contained and ready to mount on roofs, poles, or anywhere else the sun shines. The Solar is completely energy independent and runs on its own state-of-the-art solar-charged battery.”

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EDAR (Everyone Deserves A Roof)

ByGroovy Green Dec 10, 2008

EDAR (Everyone Deserves A Roof) is a 501(c)(3) charity that provides unique mobile shelters to those living on the streets all around us. Each EDAR is a four-wheeled mobile unit which carries belongings and facilitates recycling during the day and which unfolds into a special, framed tent-like sleeping enclosure with a bed at night.

In the Wake of the End of the Auto

ByGroovy Green Dec 10, 2008

With enough abandoned lots to fill the city of San Francisco, Motown is 138 square miles divided between expanses of decay and emptiness and tracts of still-functioning communities and commercial areas. Close to six barren acres of an estimated 17,000 have already been turned into 500 “mini- farms,” demonstrating the lengths to which planners will go to make land productive.

I have a question.  How much bailout money will the gardeners and farmers of urban Detroit receive?  As it turns out I have more than one question.  When will this country recognize that we must make a fundamental shift in our way of life to continue as a society.  When will we face facts and realize that throwing good money after bad is stupid?  Consumers are turning back into citizens.  It’s becoming harder to make them buy stuff they don’t really need.  This is a good thing in the long run but in the short run it will derail our consumer-based growth economy.  The big question we should be asking ourselves is how much longer are we going to continue wasting our wealth on a failed reality and when will we wake up?  It’s time for real, fundamental change; whether we like it or not.

Book Reviews of Growing and Using Stevia and Stevia Sweet Recipes

ByGroovy Green Dec 9, 2008

I had a chance to look through two books focused on Stevia, one about growing the plant and another about using the plant to replace sugar when you are cooking.   I found them to be quite interesting. While I can’t follow along with everything in the books, I can follow along with the idea that we should grow and harvest our own sweeteners, if we can. Honey, molasses, sorghum would be three good options. Planting these is a great option.

Stevia can be added to the list of plants that can be grown in your backyard and used as a sweetener. These two books will show you how. If you live in the southern part of our country this plant is one that you should be able to leave outside. If you live in the northern part you could put in a planter or two and carry them back and forth. Either way, it wouldn’t be too hard to grow some of this for yourself and remove your dependence on cane sugar. You could even go so far as to add local honey and maple syrup and have all your sweeteners be local.

If this sounds interesting to you I would check out these two books. One will give you information on growing it and the other is full of recipes. Good stuff.

1,000 dollars and an Idea-A Book Review

ByGroovy Green Dec 8, 2008

I enjoyed reading this book quite a bit, but I can’t say it has a whole lot of “green-ness” to it, other than the subject and author realizing he needed to change his life, making those changes, and following them up with actual cash investments. I have a business background, and I’ve read a lot of business books. Some good, some bad. This book from a business standpoint certainly has merit and has useful information and tips. I love reading about past successes and what made that person successful. Using these same traits would make you successful whatever you decide to do.

The website has a snippet which gives a great summation of this book, which is one that is hard to pin down to one subject.

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Continental Airlines to Test Bio-Fuels

ByGroovy Green Dec 8, 2008

Continental Airlines will test a Boeing 737-800 fueled partially by biofuel on Janurary 7th. This test flight will be powered with a mix of traditional jet fuel and a biofuel made from algae and jatropha plants. This will be the first biofuel-powered demonstration flight of a U.S. commercial airliner.

Not sure what jatropha is? Check out Michael’s post on jatropha here.

Building a Sustainable Local Food Economy in North Carolina

ByGroovy Green Dec 5, 2008

The Center for Environmental Farming Systems in North Carolina is pleased to announce that it has been funded to reach out across the state and together with our partners ask: What will it take to build a sustainable local food economy in North Carolina?

From the mountains to the coast, various organizations are promoting and implementing exciting initiatives to support our state and communities through sustainable local agriculture.  Examples include new farmer’s markets, local food policy councils, comprehensive county- or region-based food initiatives, farm incubator programs, farm and/or garden youth education programs, health and nutrition projects focused on local sustainable foods, procurement initiatives by large retail and institutional buyers and schools, and much more.

If each North Carolinian spent 25 cents/day on local food (just 2.5 percent of the $3600.00 that we spend on average on food consumption per year), it would mean $792 million for the state’s economy.  That money circulates here in the state so has a multiplier effect, rather than going to a corporate headquarters in another state.

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Vampire Killer: Good for You Good for the Planet

ByGroovy Green Dec 3, 2008

Vampire power is a big problem, even though you hit power off on that remote it doesn’t mean your television isn’t still sucking energy from the grid. Electronic appliances in standby mode can add up to 10% of your electric bill.

Good for You, Good for the Planet, a company based in Madrid, Spain, has developed a product to bring an end to the wasted electricity of standby mode. When the user desires to power the system up again it will power it up again without having to send the appliance through its start-up sequence again.

NH Hoteles SA of Spain has been testing a prototype of Mr. García’s gadget at some of the chain’s 350 hotels in 22 countries. It hopes to install the device in its 50,000 rooms as part of a drive to cut energy use by 20% by 2012.

“We’re very interested in this product and are seeing how we can implement it in the short or medium term,” says Luis Ortega, the chain’s director of environment and engineering. “That small saving, multiplied by 24 hours, 365 days a year, makes quite a big difference — especially when you’re talking about 50,000 television sets.”

Until technology like this becomes mainstream, you can kill vampire power in your home or office simply by unplugging or switching off your plug-strips.

A Review of the Garbage Warrior Documentary

ByGroovy Green Dec 1, 2008

I had a chance recently to review a DVD called Garbage Warrior (trailer above) which is about the gentleman who started the Earthship movement and some of the trials and tribulations he experienced while building his houses. It focuses too on his ideas and techniques for using trash materials (aluminum cans, plastic and glass bottles) to create low cost energy efficient housing.

The houses he builds are amazing. They are off the grid houses which are passive solar heated and have greenhouses for food production in them. They deal with their own sewage and they collect water from the roofs to use in the house. They essentially are a one stop house that can be built and then it will live on forever on it’s own devices. They stated on the DVD that with the passive solar design and the thermal mass they are able to keep the house comfortable in the winter with temperatures of 30 below zero. It’s amazing.

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Sustainability: Your Business’s Best Defense Against Recession

ByGroovy Green Nov 10, 2008

This is a guest post by Kevin Wilhelm. Kevin is the Chair of the Seattle Chamber’s Sustainability Committee, an Advisory Board Member to the Center for Sustainable Business, and is an adjunct faculty at Antioch University-Seattle where he teaches Sustainable Business Finance. He is a former advisor to both the Corporate Climate Protection Agreement and the Executive Service Corps of Washington. You can learn more at Sustainable Business Consulting.

In these uncertain economic times, companies often gravitate towards budget cuts and to scale back sustainability or “green” programs because of the notion that they take away from the bottom-line.

In reality, this thinking is the exact opposite of what business leaders need to do. Sustainability may actually be the best defense against market volatility during uncertain economic times.

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zBoards Give New Meaning To Sustainable Modular Furniture

ByGroovy Green Oct 29, 2008

There’s something to be said for the creative pursuit of modular home furniture. Nobody likes being “boxed” in when it comes to accessorizing — and surfing the web or burning fuel to find something that fits just right is more often than not a giant pain in the ass.

That’s why it was refreshing to come across Way Basic’s zBoards this morning. Not only are they made from 99% recycled materials (and recyclable) but they also require no tools to put together — just stick and build. From the website,

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Raising Urban Chickens Part 2a-Building a Coop

ByGroovy Green Oct 29, 2008

While I won’t portend to be quite as well spoken as Wendy from the previous article, I will attempt in this edition to display my chicken coop and enclosure as well as discuss some aspects of it for your information.

My Yard
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Another Homeowners Association Slams Attempt To Go Solar

ByGroovy Green Oct 21, 2008

Homeowners Associations have got to be one of the more inane aspects of American society. A friend of mine moved into a neighborhood with one, completely unprepared for the mess she was getting into. Now, no toys can be left outside, all cars must be kept in the garage at all times, the grass must be a certain height and color, and every change to the home must first be approved by a “board”. It’s both a hilarious and sad way that some choose to live — all for the sake of homogeneity in aesthetics.

In March of 2007, we reported on an incident where the town of Scarsdale denied a family the opportunity to put up solar panels — on the basis that they were ugly and “not in keeping with the character of the community”. It was BS then — and it’s still BS. Now, another homeowners association in California is denying one man’s quest to reduce his electric bill by installing solar panels on his roof. Their reason? They do not believe the technology fits in with their rules and guidelines of a community with “restrained elegance.”

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Organic Insect Repellent is Available by EcoSmart

ByGroovy Green Oct 19, 2008

EcoSmart insect repellent has offered a free sample of their insect repellent to a randomly drawn Groovy Green reader. (Until I got this e-mail I didn’t even know that there was stuff like this)

If you are interested in being entered just leave a comment on this post and I’ll randomly select a winner.

One caveat: If you are the winner I may ask you to write a quick review for the site so we can have some first hand experience with the product. But I may not, so don’t let that keep you from entering!

Good luck!

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Review: The Beautiful And Functional Cascata Rain Barrel

ByGroovy Green Oct 18, 2008

I’ve always wanted a rain barrel. In fact, back in June,I wrote a post declaring as much and announcing my quest to pick something up that was both eye pleasing and practical. Living in Ithaca, NY, I don’t have many problems with drought — but watching all that water roll off my roof, I figured it was a waste to simply see it hit my lawn and disappear. Besides, why pay that much more for municipal water for my garden when I could capture that which fell from the sky?

I’ll admit that writing about water issues in the southwest U.S. and visiting friends in Arizona also made me curious why water conservation tactics (like rain barrels) weren’t used more. Was it because they’re still relatively unknown? Were they a pain to setup and use? I was curious and therefore wanted one. Thankfully, the folks at Garden Supermart heard my cry and hooked me up with one of their Cascata Rain Barrels. After playing around with it (I use that term loosely) for two weeks, I can sum up my reaction in one sentence: Everyone should have one.

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Small Town Unites Around Local Food to Save The Town

ByGroovy Green Oct 10, 2008

The NY Times has an article up on their site recently discussing how a small town in Vermont is using local foods to save the local economy of their small town.

“Across the country a lot of people are doing it individually but it’s rare when you see the kind of collective they are pursuing,” said Mr. Fried, whose firm considers social and environmental issues when investing. “The bottom line is they are providing jobs and making it possible for others to have their own business.”

This is interesing to me because they are essentially building the entire local food infrastructure.  They are moving past the idea of just supplying beef or vegetables to consumers at the farmer’s market.  They are actually moving into producing local food products.  They are preparing the town for the future where food will need to be more local.  And even better, they are recirculating those food dollars in their town to be reused over and over.

Check out the article and let me know what you think.

La Cense Grass Fed Beef – Review and Giveaway!

ByGroovy Green Oct 9, 2008

Vote La Cense!  That is the motto of the cattle ranchers of La Cense cattle ranchers.  They are trying to educate the public in the benefits of grass-fed beef, and Angus La Cense is their (fictional?) candidate in the Grass-Fed Party…

Who is Angus La Cense? 

Angus La Cense is a cow from the La Cense Ranch who is representing the Grass-fed Party in the upcoming election.  He is an advocate of grass-fed practices that produce happier cows, healthier people, stronger rural communities, and healthy grasslands.

What is the Grass-fed Party?

The Grass-fed Party is an organization of people who support grass-fed foods and sustainable ranching and believe that America can hold higher standards to its cattle industry.   The Grass-fed Party empowers citizens with the knowledge necessary to make the best choices, whether their role is the feed a family or help make new policies that work.   The Grass-fed Party supports putting traditional ranching practices back in rural America to help the smaller communities thrive, to help preserve and enrich ranchlands, and to help cows eat according to their natural diets and have access to clean air and water. 

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Ovetto Recycling Egg Probably Not The Best Thing To Splurge On Right Now

ByGroovy Green Oct 8, 2008

With the worldwide economy in the trash — and people cutting back for the impending recession — we can’t help but glance sadly at the Ovetto Recycling Egg and wonder ‘what might have been?’. You see, sorting recycling can be something of a chore for people; though I’m not sure why. If I gave my parents this egg, it would probably increase their efforts to recycle beyond the guilt and shame I shower on them every time I find a bottle in the garbage.

Problem is, this little egg of wonder costs $250. I mean, it’s the garbage can of the future, but I think I’ll wait until prices drop a bit. Here’s the full description:

“Interior Architect and Designer Gianluca Soldi has designed Ovetto differenziato, or recycling egg, “an object that meets the needs of domestic waste separation in order to educate the population to correctly dispose of waste in order to be able to consequently recycle it. Ovetto fits easily in modern homes and offices and is a great gift for anyone who wants to show off their “green” engagement.” Of course, it is made of recycled polypropylene

What do you think — want one?

Making Connections and Applesauce

ByGroovy Green Oct 8, 2008

We live in the suburbs of Seattle and our neighborhood is full of regular hard working folk busy with life and not much time set aside for much else. Aside from our immediate neighbors regular communication with the rest of our neighbors is not a very common activity.

Tonight while on a walk with the kids we stopped at the home of one of our unfamiliar neighbors, previously we have only exchanged waves at a distance and usually through the windshield as he drove by our house. We stopped to see if he would let us pick some apples from the tree in his front yard. Heavy laden with some beautiful yellow apples it was just begging for us to stop!

Alan gladly gave us permission to pick some apples and invited us to come back in the spring to pick cherries from the tree in his backyard.  It was apparent that these apples would most likely not all get picked and many would go to waste we were more than happy to make good use of them.   In turn, I offered my services to prune this tree for him as well we would also bring him some applesauce. He was happy to share the excess of apples from his yard and the history of the tree. This Yellow Delicious apple was planted in 1987 when his second daughter was born. She has now moved out of the home but this tree remains and stands as a reminder of precious time in his family’s past.

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Perhaps a New Favorite Garden Toy

ByGroovy Green Oct 8, 2008

OK, most of you are probably thinking I’m going to talk about a tool, but actually I wanted to mention Jerusalem Artichokes aka Sunchokes.

I planted some of these this year for the first time ever, and I’m impressed with them.  They grew fantastic, made nice flowers on the top, provided a huge amount of food to the chickens and in the end, gave me the tubers you see below.  This bowl is full from half of the section I planted.  I created a bed on the south side of my compost pile that is between 3 and 4 ft long.  I planted the Sunchokes in double rows within that bed.  I didn’t amend the soil or anything.  I just dug a trench, put in the tubers and filled it back.

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Clorox Green Works Liquid Dishwashing Soap

ByGroovy Green Oct 8, 2008

I was given a sample of Clorox’s new dishwashing soap about 1 month ago.  We’ve been using it to clean our pots and pans and as a liquid hand soap in our kitchen (why have two containers on the counter?).  The results have been, well how can I say this, the same as our old non-environmentally friendly soap*.  But isn’t that the point?  Having the same dishwashing ability – without drying out our hands – and eliminating many of the chemicals that pollute our waste water.  Good for clorox.  Now if we could just get rid of the other 99% of the harmful chemicals that the company produces.

Siel from GreenLAGirl did a very thorough review of the benefits of this product.  I was glad to see what was eliminated, and what natural ingredients they were able to replace them with.

Two dishpan-hands up for this Clorox Green Works Dishwashing Soap.

*for the record, we bought a huge industrial sized container of dish soap from BJ’s when we moved into our house.  That was 4 1/2 years ago!  This thing must be refilling itself as we use it.  I swear.

The Green Picture: Before-The-First-Frost Harvest

ByGroovy Green Oct 6, 2008

About 45 minutes ago, we all piled into the garden after hearing that Ithaca, NY would be receiving its first “hard” frost of the season with a low of 29 degrees. Time to harvest the last remaining fruits of the garden! Gourds, lavendar, rosemary, green peppers, cayennes, eggplants, tomatoes — whatever we could find, we cut and dragged in. I even grabbed the Jatropha (more on that later!) and propped it up in the living room. Here is one of our tables of yumminess. Needless to say, we have a bunch of freezing, canning, and eating to do over the next week!

How did your garden turn out this year?

Future Scenarios

ByGroovy Green Oct 1, 2008

What will the next 10-20 years be like? With global climate change and peak oil what can we expect? David Holmgren co-originator of the permaculture concept has developed a new website investigating some possible outcomes.

Future Scenarios: Mapping the cultural implications and climate change.

The simultaneous onset of climate change and the peaking of global oil supply represent unprecedented challenges for human civilisation.

Global oil peak has the potential to shake if not destroy the foundations of global industrial economy and culture. Climate change has the potential to rearrange the biosphere more radically than the last ice age. Each limits the effective options for responses to the other.

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Grow Food Party Crew

ByGroovy Green Sep 29, 2008

I came across this video today of a group of like-minded people working together to improve their lives. They call themselves the Grow Food Party Crew, a part of the Ojai Valley Green Coalition, their goal is to work together to build their local food shed and strengthen their community. They employ permaculture principles as their design approach to food production and land use. Projects include vegetable gardens, rainwater harvesting, as well as natural earthen structures. All the while having a great time doing it!

Grow Food Party Crew

Why not start a Grow Food Party Crew in your neighborhood!

New Cruise Ship Designed With Solar, Efficiency In Mind

ByGroovy Green Sep 26, 2008

A new ship from Celebrity Cruises, currently about 80% complete, is being built with eco-friendly technology and design in ever phase of construction. Personally, I find cruises to be one of the most wasteful and benign ways to travel — but they’re not going away, and this development is welcome.

The company actually designed the hull of the ship first — a radical departure from conventional cruise ship construction where things are generally created “top down,” with passenger space configured first, then the hull constructed to fit that space. As a result, the hull is one of the most fuel-efficient possible and the rest of the ship was configured to work around it.

There will also be 80 solar panels on board to power small things such as elevators. The company acknowledges that solar is not currently a cost-effective addition, but add that as prices decrease, the infrastructure will be in place on board to carry more photovoltaics. The hope is that over time, the ship will utilize more clean energy in its consumption.

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Personal Review of ASPO-USA: Day 1

ByGroovy Green Sep 23, 2008

[ed note:  I am putting this up without the bells and whistles (links, etc.), and with perhaps a few typos.  I’d rather get it up in a timely fashion and return to it to correct any mistakes.  Comments are welcome and appreciated by those that can clarify or rebut my recollection of the events.]

ASPO Day 1:

Our first day of ASPO started out with a tour of Old Sacramento, followed by a chance meeting with a board member of an upstart Extended Oil Recovery (EOR) firm called Titan Oil Recovery.  He described their revolutionary technique to bring life to mature oil fields, involving the Titan process which causes microbes found in the well to multiply and break down the size of oil particles trapped in rock to a small enough size to allow them to flow, increasing total recoverable crude from the well, and causing a rapid increase in production.  My opinion, keep an eye on this company.  If they can really do what their data showed, it my be a game changer for production in mature fields.

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Raising Urban Chickens: Part 2-Building a Coop

ByGroovy Green Sep 22, 2008

This is a guest post by Wendy from Home Is… From reading her blog I knew she had chickens, and since she lives in Maine her knowledge of building a coop that will hold up to cold weather could be quite useful. She has written a series of articles on our site before related to her personal decision to stay in her home in the suburbs during the coming descent down Hubbert’s Peak.

Front of Coop
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Tapping Your Maple Trees – Start Preparing Now!

ByGroovy Green Sep 18, 2008

Do your children think that food comes from the supermarket or maybe the shop at the gas station? We all have opportunities to open that door to the past and learn to rely on nature to provide for our dietary needs. If we give her a chance, it is amazing how willing Mother Nature is to sustain our needs. One green (and fun) opportunity to utilize nature is to tap your maple trees to collect the sap. Now that is really tapping into Mother Nature!

I started tapping maple trees in my yard several years ago and constantly get questions about how to do this. The reality is that with the right equipment and a little direction, it is quite simple. The trick is to be prepared when the sap starts to flow (sometime in February or March depending upon weather conditions).

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The Neuton Electric Lawn Mower Kicks Some Serious Grass

ByGroovy Green Sep 10, 2008

UPDATE: Ecorazzi is now giving away a Neuton in celebration of their two year anniversary. One person will be chosen at random.]

Before I start this review, you should know that I have a love/hate relationship with lawns. Living in the Northeast, they’re a necessary evil when one has not yet shifted an entire backyard to something built on permaculture. On the other hand, a recently cut lawn does look beautiful and sharp — something drilled into my head from summers of mowing other lawns to make cash in High School.

When my lawn turns colors from a lack of rain, I do not get out the sprinkler. I consider it a vacation from the weekly chore of mowing. If weeds or other variants of grass make their presence known, I consider them compliments to the scenery. It amuses/depresses me to no end the amount of resources Americans spend on the upkeep of lawns across the US — especially in places where grass has no business growing in the first place.

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Why Off-Shore Drilling Won’t Make A Dent in U.S. Consumption – Graphically Presented

ByGroovy Green Sep 10, 2008

usoilconsumption

Saw this first at After Gutenberg, but it came via itsgettinghotinhere from a Architecture 2030 e-news bulletin.

A picture (or in this case, a graph) tells a thousand words.

Funeral Director Argues That Natural Burial Is Harmful To The Environment

ByGroovy Green Sep 5, 2008

You know you’ve been sniffing a little too much embalming fluid when you argue that natural burials are bad for the planet. And yet, that’s just what a funeral director from New Zealand did while participating in a debate on the topic during a town council meeting earlier last month.

Francis Day, of Marsden House Funeral Services, told the Nelson City Council that putrefaction of a body that was not embalmed would lead to higher toxicity levels in the surrounding soil to levels “which in many places would breach World Health Organization standards.” He continued that diseases and bacteria do not die when a person die but go right on living and could put “future communities at risk”.

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Breaking News… from 1987

ByGroovy Green Sep 4, 2008

A Calvin & Hobbes strip from July 23, 1987 – over 20 years ago…

It’s a good thing that even a six-year-old imaginary character in the funny pages knew all about global warming way back then. I mean, just think – two whole decades of progress in mitigating… er… well…

Calvin… I’m sorry buddy.

Utah Residents and Businesses Do Not Own the Water that Falls on Their Property

ByGroovy Green Sep 4, 2008

Like Colorado, Utah has laws on the books that make it illegal to collect rainwater that falls on one’s property. A Utah car dealer installed a cistern and rainwater collection system to feed a on-site car wash that has water recycling technology. This was in an attempt to “go green”. He was thwarted by the state government, and eventually had to work out a deal. Local residents who collect rainwater will not be bothered at this point because “there are bigger fish to fry”.

It Is Time for the US to Sell Its Highways?

ByGroovy Green Aug 28, 2008

It’s difficult to imagine a person not having heard the old axiom “Buy low, sell high”, and it is prudent advice when you are making financial decisions. It’s the second part of that adage that might warrant a look at our strategy for infrastructure improvement in this country. If you are looking to make the maximum amount of money by selling something you want to sell that something when it’s at its highest value. I wonder then, is it time for our government to sell its infrastructure? You know, since the effects of Peak Oil are beginning to make themselves felt, the value of the infrastructure developed to serve cars running on cheap oil will decline each year into the future; starting soon. Selling high might mean selling soon.

Now, I don’t think we should sell all of it, by any means. We should keep the ports and the train lines, but is now a good time to start selling our roads, highways and airports? There has been news recently of other governments selling their infrastructure, and considering the value of these items in an energy scarce future I would contend that their value will never be higher. In fact, there is already plenty of news about airlines facing massive losses. (And starting to charge for baggage, pillows and normal drinks) How valuable will an airport be if we don’t have airlines? Or what if the ones we do have are marginally profitable? I say it’s better to sell now while the full force of Peak Oil hasn’t quite made itself felt.

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An Interview With Bob Waldrop

ByGroovy Green Aug 25, 2008

This spring I had the pleasure of talking with Bob Waldrop as part of a series of interviews done for the forthcoming book A Nation of Farmers. Bob is a native, 4th generation Oklahoman, who was born and raised in Tillman County in southwest Oklahoma. His great-grandparents came to Oklahoma Territory before statehood. He is the founder of the Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House (which delivers food to people in need who don’t have transportation), the president of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, and works as director of music at Epiphany of the Lord Catholic Church. He served on the founding board of directors of the Oklahoma Sustainability Network, and previously served on the Migrants and Refugees Advisory Committee of Catholic Charities. He is the editor of Better Times: An Almanac of Useful Information, which is distributed free. The 5th edition may be viewed at www.bettertimesinfo.org/2004index.htm. He is a member of the Oklahoma Food Policy Council. Although not presently active in the program, he has served as an Oklahoma County Master Gardener.

A big thank you to Sarah Louise Hartman for transcribing this interview.

Aaron Newton: Bob, could you describe the Oscar Romera Catholic Worker House, and the operations that you’re a part of there in Oklahoma City?

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Eleven Year-Old’s Organic Veggie Stand Shut Down by California Mayor

ByGroovy Green Aug 22, 2008

I think that Joel Satalin can add another chapter to his book Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal after reading this story.  I mean, really, a child’s veggie stand shut down for lack of permits?  What’s next, no lemonade stands or car wash fundraisers?

ABC News via ABA Journal:

Call it a rite of passage: children by the roadside peddling their homemade goodies to adults who are more than eager to drop a few cents into a makeshift cashbox.

But Katie and Sabrina Lewis’ veggie stand, in the town of Clayton, Calif., where they sold homegrown watermelons for $1, has been shuttered by town officials who told the girls’ parents that their daughters’ venture violated local zoning ordinances.

“I think that they’re wrong,” dad Mike Lewis said of the town officials. “Kids should be able to be kids.”

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Composting Organic Materials in a City

ByGroovy Green Aug 13, 2008

In my city our local waste management group picks up big plastic containers (which I call a Yardy) of yard waste material. This can be branches, leaves, grass clippings, etc. (Unbeknownst to my neighbors, I also pick up yard materials from their yardies, but that’s a different story…) Participation in this program is great, and it keeps all this material out of the land fill. The city mixes all this material together and turns it into compost which they then sell in 40 lb bags, or give away for free for personal use, if you have a truck to load it in. Paper products and kitchen waste can be recycled in our yardies, although almost no one knows that and it never seems to be highlighted.

San Francisco does a similar thing, although this Time article just mentions kitchen waste so I’m not sure about yard waste. I’m sure there are plenty of other cities that also do similar things.

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Mileage Improvements By Driving Less And Driving Slower

ByGroovy Green Jul 29, 2008

Back in April, I began an exercise in driving less and driving with fuel economy in mind. What I learned surprised me. Simple, obvious steps made the most difference. I drive a 98 Oldsmobile Alero and before I began, I was getting about 27 MPG, now I am up to 34 MPG. That’s a 7 MPG savings, using simple steps anyone can do.There are groceries, banks and just about everything I need within walking distance from work, so as a rule, I drive to work, then I drive home and that’s it. I occasionally drive to run some errands (there is only so much walking one can do on a lunch hour).

I began turning off the car at train crossings, or when stuck in a traffic jam, but the biggest jump occurred after slowing down to 60 MPH. I went from 29 MPG to 34 MPG. That’s huge.

Also, I rode my bicycle over 120 miles in June, and I’m well on my way to matching that for July. That’s trips to the hardware store, bank, goodwill, and beer runs (all within about 3 miles of my house). At 34 MPG, bicycling alone has saved 3 1/2 gallons of gas, or almost a 1/3 of a tank. That’s amazing!

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Second-Generation Solar Trees To Be Even More Awesome Than Real Trees

ByGroovy Green Jul 24, 2008

Much praise has been heaped upon designer Ross Lovegrove since his solar trees first debuted in Vienna in October 2007. Essentially a solar-powered streetlamp — but also a work of art — the structure creates, as the designer puts it, “complex natural forms in a city that can benefit all of society.” They also save energy — and have managed to survive Vienna’s dark spells, with light still being generated even after four days without direct sun. From the article,

“When we were setting up the tree outside it was quite wonderful,” Lovegrove said. “Even when we had one stem, it was incredible, it seemed so insignificant but actually it really stood out and it proves this point that modern technology and design can really lift people’s spirits, it becomes an eye catcher because it’s sort of out of context. The Solar Tree is just a streetlamp but actually some of the small things which can have a big impact on our life are all open for reinterpretation.”

With the first-generation lamps firmly planted on some of Europe’s most famous streets, Lovegrove is now planning on the next-generation design. It will be called the “Adaptive Solar Tree” and, just like the real thing, will feature robotics that seek out sunlight or respond to changes in weather.

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Base Jumping Off Of Wind Turbines Probably Not Legal

ByGroovy Green Jul 22, 2008

It was only a matter of time.

With most commercial turbines over 265 ft. tall, they were bound to attract the base jumping crowd. Thing is, they’re not the easiest things to get access to — so we’re wondering whether this crew has an inside man to let them climb to the top. Not to mention turn off the turbine for the jump. Nice view, though.

Peak Energy And What That Means For Food

ByGroovy Green Jul 21, 2008

Note: The following is a peak energy introduction written with Sharon Astyk for our forthcoming book, “A Nation of Farmers: Defeating the Food Crisis on American Soil,” to be published in the Spring of 2009 by New Society Publishers. This excerpt will be a review for those who follow her site and mine but might be interesting to those who have only recently become agitated by $4/gallon gas and who want to learn more. It’s very important that those of us comfortable with this topic help to shape the emerging conversation as one of opportunity not tragedy. No doubt this will mean doing things differently now and in our future but all is not gloom and doom. The rising cost of energy could be an opportunity to address big problems- a catalyst for positive change. With that in mind we must frame this not as ‘the end of the world’ but as the beginning of something better.

Peak Energy

“To alcohol- the cause of and the solution to all of life’s problems.?

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Raising Chickens on an Urban Homestead

ByGroovy Green Jul 21, 2008

Hello! Welcome to the first of many installments in my adventure of chicken raising. I recently just introduced 2 chickens to my urban palace and I thought it would be interesting to follow along with my trials and tribulations. Hopefully if I make mistakes it will help you avoid them if you decide to embark on this sort of thing on your own.

I was helped along in my chicken adventures by talking with many other chicken owners about what they’ve done, as well as the great website City Chicken. I read two great books which I would recommend, Chicken Tractor by Andy Lee and Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens. I thought both of these books were great, and while I didn’t think one book covered all the information I wanted, together they did cover a lot of what I was concerned about.

Let me say, I wasn’t born on a farm or really around animals. We had a cat and a dog at various times when I was growing up, but we didn’t have a steady menagerie of animals at my house. What I’ve learned has been from reading books and talking to others. I guess I tell you this to encourage you. Just because you don’t have the background in raising animals doesn’t mean you can’t do it. I’m just at the beginning of my adventure, as I write this, and I’m still nervous and scared as heck. Especially when they sort of dart around. It freaks me out, but I know there is plenty of information and help online and with people I know. I hope Groovy Green can be a resource for you if you are starting out on an eggcellent adventure!

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Lego’s Windmill Set Allows You To Stick It To The Zoning Board

ByGroovy Green Jul 16, 2008

Town zoning board getting you down? Anti-wind organizations befuddling you with their concerns? Feeling the ache of not being able to install your own personal turbine? Well, now you can shut out the rest of the world and focus on this great new kit from Lego called “The Vestas Windmill Kit”.

Standing over two-feet tall, this model of alternative energy features a Vestas wind turbine, control center, and a van. But don’t expect to buy a bunch of these and string them up on your roof. While the turbine is motorized, it’s not generating its own power. That probably comes from batteries. Damn them!

Can the next Lego set please include a solar array to power this thing?

Still, I love it.

Don’t Pin Your Hopes on a “Green” Economy

ByGroovy Green Jul 16, 2008

Both presidential candidates have stumped for a new “green” economy.  To me this smells of the supposed transformation to the “information economy” touted only a decade ago.  Fortune had this to say on June 30th:

What senators McCain and Obama believe about U.S. energy policy matters – hugely. To fight global warming, the next President will oversee the transition to a new, green economy , which will result in one of the biggest business transformations of the 21st century and potentially one of the largest transfers of wealth since the creation of the income tax.

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Cycling…

ByGroovy Green Jul 15, 2008

I used to ride a motorcycle.  It was a Suzuki GS 1150. That’s 1,150cc engine with 123 horsepower.  Since it only had to accelerate 500 pounds, it could go from 0 to 70 in less than 3 seconds and only one gear change, which I knew from personal experience.  It was the kind of bike that taunted you, that dared you to ride fast.

There was a gas station near one of my favorite riding places that sold high octane racing fuel.  I loved to fill up and go for a long twisty ride.  The racing fuel had a different smell, it smelled like adventure.

Riding a motorcycle is such a manual process.  Between clutching, shifting, accelerating and braking, you have to use both hands and both feet.  You lean into turns. Riding involves your entire body.

My motorcycle riding days ended when someone made a right turn in front of me.  I was enjoying a straight road to the maximum, went around a bend and right in front of me was a car, pulling into a driveway. I would have swerved into the left lane, but there was an on coming pickup truck. My only choice was to hit the brakes.  I remember seeing the horizon fly past my feet, then I landed in the gravel on the other side of the car.  I walked away with a sore wrist and a scratch on my right ankle.  The motorcycle never ran again.

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Creative, Eco-Friendly Custom Cardboard Coffins Are Just A Click Away

ByGroovy Green Jul 11, 2008

We’re all about choice when it comes to death here on GroovyGreen. Sure, you don’t have much say in how you’ll go, but you can definitely make sure your exit is packaged just right. Take for instance these eco-friendly custom cardboard coffins from Creative Coffins. Each one is made from 60% recycled paper plus wood pulp sourced from sustainable forests, contains only natural starch-based glues (no screws, bolts, tape, or other fittings), handles made from natural woven cotton, and is completely non-toxic. Better yet, you can have them custom designed — or choose from any number of beautiful designs already on the site.

My favorites are the “Gone To Seed” theme or the “Box of Candy” design — mainly because it would be really funny to see some kid’s face if they thought it was a giant box of candy. Ok, probably not.

For Eco Friendly Gear Check out These Retailers

ByGroovy Green Jun 30, 2008

Greenzer has an article up comparing the use of water bottles to water filters and reusable drinking bottles.

Greenzer by the way, is a one stop shopping location for earth friendly goods. They have the most comprehensive listing of earth friendly things I’ve seen.

If you are looking for earth friendly gear check out Eco-Gear.

How about a recycled wind storage device? See Storvino.

Vegan Fashion online is an interesting place to check for your Vegan clothing needs.

In Colorado, Rain Barrels Are Illegal. Yup.

ByGroovy Green Jun 25, 2008

Yesterday, after I vented a bit on the lack of rain barrel options at Big Box stores, a reader tipped us off to a very interesting issue in her state of Colorado. Rain barrels there, you see, are outlawed. Colorado state law mandates that any water falling from the air is not yours. In fact, according to their site, its already been “legally allocated” — so, you don’t actually have any rights when it comes to using precipitation that falls on your property. Here’s the exact wording:

Colorado Water Law requires that precipitation fall to the ground, run off and into the river of the watershed where it fell. Because rights to water are legally allocated in this state, an individual may not capture and use water to which he/she does not have a right. We must remember also that rain barrels don’t help much in a drought because a drought by its very nature supplies little in the way of snow or rain.

Additionally, any and all water that comes from tap may only be used once. “Denver water customers are not permitted to take their bath or laundry water (commonly referred to as gray water) and dump it on their outdoor plants or garden.” Even if that said water is ecologically-friendly?

We’re not alone in thinking this is a stupid law. Last summer, The Colorado Springs Gazette said the following:

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King Corn – Now Available via iTunes

ByGroovy Green Jun 15, 2008

The kind gentleman promoting King Corn (now out on DVD and iTunes) gave Groovy Green a complementary download of the movie via iTunes to review.  I hadn’t seen the movie yet so it was a good opportunity to view the film and to try out watching a video via downloading.

First of all, downloading the film was fast and easy.  I had iTunes downloading in the background while I caught up on my RSS feed, and was surprised by the speed in which the nearly 1 GB file was transferred.  (For tech savvy readers:  I have a high-speed cable connection, and run OS X 10.4.11 on a MacBook 1.83 GHz Core 2 Duo with 2 GB RAM).  iTunes provides a quick and easy way to watch a movie.  I think that this would be especially worth it on a long flight or trip.  However I think that that is about the only way that it beats owning the actual DVD.  There is no (legitimate) way to burn a iTunes download to a DVD to watch on your TV.  Bummer.  The $14.99 iTunes price did beat out the lowest DVD price that I could find at $17.99.  One last benefit of downloading rather than purchasing the DVD is that is a much “greener” option.  No energy or materials used to produce the media, nor fuel or effort to ship it.  I imagine the trend will continue until DVD’s are things of the past.

Enough about iTunes movies, what did I think about the flick?  I liked it.  For those of you unfamiliar with the movie, here’s the summary:

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McDonalds Creates Billboard That Actually Grows Lettuce

ByGroovy Green Jun 13, 2008

Not that there’s anything particularly healthy or worth promoting regarding fast-food chain McDonalds, but we have to give them credit for coming up with a very creative — and green — Billboard advertisement.

To get the point across that their salads are “really fresh”, McDonalds hired ad-maker Leo Burnett to deliver the message. So, he put together a billboad that over time grew lettuce to form the words “Fresh Salads”.

Wouldn’t it be cool if all billboard space was put to good use like this?

Of Rain Barrels And Worm Bins: Need Some Advice

ByGroovy Green Jun 8, 2008

With the heat now taking hold here in NY — and the water falling less and less — I’ve started feeling the urge to pick up a rain barrel. I’ve also been intrigued by the thought of pursuing some vermiculture — though I admit, picking up Daryl Hannah’s worm bin would be a fine addition to the back deck. Too bad it costs $900.

But back to the rain barrels. Probably the most popular commercial option I’ve been spotting around Ithaca, NY is The Rain Catcher. It has a nice appearance, can hold about 55 gallons, is expandable, and has some nice features (hose, screen, etc.) One thing I don’t like it that the top does not come off — so if anything falls in there, it would be kind of tough to get it out. The screen would stop most debris, but I find the built in top annoying. I’m currently seeing it for about $138 in the stores — which is a bargain considering that rising oil costs add more if you purchase it online.

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The History Channel’s ‘Life After People’ Confirms Our Insignificance

ByGroovy Green May 28, 2008

If you were to take the Earth’s current age and represent it on a 24-hour scale, the existence of humans would be indicated by roughly 30-seconds of time. That’s it. For all our hubris in celebrating our species rise above all others, we’re certainly an anomaly in the scheme of things. As indicated in the History Channel’s fantastic new documentary, Life After People, those 30-seconds of achievement can quickly be wiped away in less than half that time.

Last June, I wrote about a new book by Alan Weisman titled The World Without Us. In it, Weisman breaks down step by step what would happen to civilization if we simply vanished from the face of the planet tomorrow. For example, within about two days, New York City’s subway system would be completely flooded. Without power to keep the pumps running, the various tunnels and shafts would quickly fill by the region’s displaced underground rivers.

What the History Channel has done is basically used Weisman’s work as a script for a computer-generated look at the remaining vestiges of our society. We go all the way from one day to 10,000 years into the future. The visual effects used to represent the decay of our world and nature’s reclamation is stunning. As in the book, the film focuses in particular on New York City (as all good disaster flicks might) and does a great job of brining to life the various conceptual images that Scientific American presented to coincide with World Without Us.

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“Human Footprint” Documentary One life. One Lifetime. What does it all add up to?

ByGroovy Green May 20, 2008

An amazing look at what the average Brit will consume and produce over their lifetime.

If these amounts are for the average UK resident, I can’t imagine the piles for an average American. It is worth bookmarking, and coming back when you have time to watch a few minutes worth.

How Much Food Does The Average American Family Throw Away Each Month?

ByGroovy Green May 19, 2008

Food Infograph

122 lbs. That’s how much enters the waste stream each month from the average American home (family of four). Ridiculous, sad, and incredible at the same time, isn’t it? A study conducted in 1995 estimated that 96.4 billion pounds of edible food was wasted each year — not to mention all of that probably went straight into the landfill. Imagine the recycled compost that could be generated from that!

The fascinating graphical representation of our monthly waste, as created by the NY Times, is shown below. Click on it to be taken to a much higher res, readable version.

Masdar City To Get Solar-Powered Personal Rapid Trainsit System

ByGroovy Green May 7, 2008

NPR aired the last episodes this week in their year long series titled Climate Connections by focusing on the new “zero-emissions” city being built outside of Abu Dhabi called Masdar City. With an expected population of 50,000 people, the “experiment” in green technologies and sustainable design will be the largest effort ever to create a carbon-neutral urban center. The project is the crown jewel in the Abu Dhabi’s amibtious plans to become the ‘silicon valley’ of the renewable energy world. The Middle East certainly isn’t naive when it comes to looking past oil for the future security of their economies.

One of the more interesting technologies being put into action in Masdar is the PRT — or Rapid Transit System. Designed to hold six people, these pods will travel to more than 1,500 stations distributed throughout the city. From the NPR clip,

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Why Higher Gas Prices Are Making Me Smile

ByGroovy Green May 2, 2008

I’m not naive — I understand that there are severe hardships in store the longer the price of a barrel of oil soars ever higher. But here’s the thing. Every time I pass by my local gas station and see the numbers a couple cents higher than the day before, I smile. For some that might seem odd — and for those that depend on cheap oil, my sentiments are with you. Unfortunately for all of us, those unaffected and those in dire straits, this had to happen. As someone who champions sustainability day in and out, writes about political hangups to change America’s dependency on oil, and laments our lack of investment in renewable energies, this is a blessing in disguise. My only hope is that this continues — and is less of a “rubberband effect” we all experienced in the wake of Hurricane Katrina three years ago.

Why? Because if we are to shift to an economy that is truly self-sufficient and sustainable, we have to be hit hard collectively in the wallets. It’s the only way. As environmentalists, we can release movies, write articles, hold rallies, and buy all the green products in the world — but to to truly bear witness to real change, it has to come from those not directly involved. In other words, everyone must be faced with a burden. For some, climate change might be their burden and buying a hybrid vehicle or biking to work might be the solution. For others, higher gas prices which affect the bottom line might be their burden. In the end, what matters most is that it is a common hardship. Whatever the personal impact, the demanded outcome will be in unison.

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Massachusetts Bakery Distributes Wheat Berries for Customers to Grow in Their Yards

ByGroovy Green May 2, 2008

Probably the coolest story in the “local food” movement that I’ve heard yet. A bakery in Massachusetts has started to distribute wheat berries (seeds) to customers to plant 100 sq. ft. plots of wheat in their yards. They plan a hand-scythed harvest in the summer. I think that this is a great idea, and it will be interesting to see how productive the 10 x 10 plots of “front yard” wheat are.

There is an NPR podcast here. And this local news story from The Recorder gives more detail:

Jonathan Stevens and Cheryl Maffei of Hungry Ghost Bakery became interested in what some are calling their ‘little red hen’ idea of giving people wheat seeds to grow locally after a New Mexico baker at a conference eight or nine years ago introduced them to bread made from locally grown grain.

Instead of baking with organic flour grown in North Dakota that gets trucked to North Carolina for milling, Stevens said, it makes much more sense to look at growing wheat and other grains nearby and milling it locally — especially since Massachusetts is believed to have been the site of North America’s first oat harvest — on the Elizabeth Islands — in 1602.

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Is It Organic? Where’s The Testing?

ByGroovy Green Apr 30, 2008

This is a guest post from Mischa Popoff who is an organic inspector. You can visit his site at Is It OrganicHe raises some interesting points about the organic industry.

Organic food is better for you. Right? It’s more nutritious. It contains more vitamins, minerals and other good things like antioxidants, plus it’s fresher and tastier. Right?

Hold that thought.

Organic food is also more pure and natural. It contains far less harmful pesticide residues than conventional food. It’s also relatively free of herbicides, fungicides and other “cides” used extensively by conventional farmers. Right?

Again, hold that thought.

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OB1: The Hybrid Electric Bicycle That Also Costs $13,000

ByGroovy Green Apr 29, 2008

We have a crush here on Groovy for electric-hybrid bikes. Personally, just knowing that I’ve got some assistance on the myriad of hills surrounding my town is a pretty sweet advantage. I’d pedal the other 90% of the time — which would be a hell of a lot better than taking my car the five or so miles to work. Plus, no sweaty nastiness on those host summer days.

Anyways, if you’re looking for the absolute pinnacle in electric-bicycle customization, the OB1 from Optibike is probably your best bet. From Gizmag,

“The key component of the Optibike system – the patented Motorized Bottom Bracket (MBB) which drives through the derauiller gear system to optimize acceleration and range at all pedaling speeds – is now oil cooled and delivers 850 continuous watts of power. Add to this carbon fiber handlebars, brakes, derailleur, chainring and cable ferrules, a customized paint job, GPS satellite navigation, plus a wireless PDA interface that provides real-time feedback on remaining range, battery charge and motor temperatures, and you have yourself one high-performance urban commuter.”

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All Hail The New Green Browser: Flock Eco!

ByGroovy Green Apr 22, 2008

Earth Day is quickly becoming not only an event to celebrate the planet — but also to look forward to a number of cool green technologies that love to launch on this iconic day. Already today, I’ve seen two great new developments: One, is Sungevity— a great online tool for Californians that displays a satellite map of your home, calculates solar installation costs, and mockups of what your roof might look like with the panels. Should you decide to purchase, the company takes care of all the details — including all the zoning permits and install crews. You just need to sign the dotted line. Awesome.

Next — and this is one we’re most excited about — is Flock Eco, a brand new take on the Flock Browser that comes fully loaded with green content AND gives 10% back to environmental causes every time you browse. Now, even reading your favorite sites can help generate money for worthy organizations! From the release,

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World’s Largest Treehouse Cost $7 Million To Build

ByGroovy Green Apr 19, 2008

Like something out of a fairy tale — and seriously, even the main character’s name is Lord Northumberland — this 6,000 sq ft. tree house is the world’s largest. Located on the grounds of Alnwick Gardens, about 95 miles north south of Edinburgh, Scotland, the leviathan soars 56ft. above the ground and is connected with 4,000-square-feet of suspended walkways. There’s even a 120-seat restaurant — as well as wobble bridges, classrooms, turrets, and God knows what else. Naturally, this building was also built sustainably with the website saying Canadian Cedar, Scandinavian Redwood and English and Scots pine were all used in construction. Unfortunately, it appears that most of those were imported, so no points for you! From the website,

“The unique dining experience on offer in The Treehouse is nothing if not unusual. The roaring log fire in the centre of the room, the living tree complete with green leaves growing through the restaurant, the fascinating craftsmanship which has created screens from fallen branches and the dimmed lighting combine to create an other-wordly, magical environment. The delicious menus include a fantastic range of locally sourced produce, helping The Garden encourage and support local producers.”

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Filter For Good Earth Day Giveaway

ByGroovy Green Apr 18, 2008

The good folks at Brita have given Groovy Green two sets of a Nalgene Bottle and a Faucet Filtration System to give away to our readers in celebration of earth day, and as a part of their FilterForGood Pledge.

How to win: Leave a brief comment letting us know what you plan to do this Earth Day, and make sure that you tell us your email address (Email addresses are not posted online from the WordPress comment form, only the editors will see them.) Two lucky readers will be chosen at random from the comments.

Also, check out FilterForGood.com today!. Take their pledge to avoid bottle water and use a refillable container.

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Feeding The Suburbs

ByGroovy Green Apr 17, 2008

This is the last story in our series from Wendy.

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This evening, after I read Andrew Lost on the Dog to Precious, I sat back in my bedroom and thumbed through the March/April edition of World Ark, the magazine published by Heifer International. What struck me as I read through the articles was the statistic “85% of all farms worldwide are smaller than five acres” (15). Several articles, cited the fact that most subsistence farms in Third World countries are very small – some even as small as mine.

I was surprised.

I have a book someone gave me entitled Five Acres and Independence. I’ve had it for a while, and having that book seemed to reinforce my (mistaken) notion that in order to be self-sufficient, I needed an acreage. I needed land, lots of land and the starry sky above ….

At any rate, a 1/4 acre wasn’t going to do it.

I didn’t know that a large portion of the world’s farmers are working land that isn’t much bigger than the average American suburban lot.

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Love Thy Neighbor

ByGroovy Green Apr 16, 2008

Another in our series from Wendy.

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I had a rather nomadic childhood. For the first eight years of my life, we moved at a rate of about once a year. Then, we were settled for about five years, but we moved again just before I started high school, and then, four years later, when I graduated from high school, I lived a transient life as a college student. Four years later, when I received my Bachelor’s degree, I moved for the next seven years, at about the same frequency as I did for the first eight years of my life – packing up my entire household and relocating every two to eighteen months.

Then, I moved with Deus Ex Machina, our two month old daughter, eight month old chow-chow puppy, and three year old iguana to Maine.

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The Sustainable Suburbs: Self-Sufficiency

ByGroovy Green Apr 15, 2008

Another in our series from Wendy. This one is about being self sufficient on a small plot, and if you really need to be.

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Someone told me recently that I could never be self-sufficient on my quarter acre suburban lot here in southern Maine. I don’t have enough land, and I can’t build a greenhouse.

Maybe. Maybe she’s right. But just maybe ….

My hero, Dolly Freed, lived on a 1/2 acre 40 miles from Philadelphia. She and her father weren’t “self-sufficient”, in that they did depend on outside sources for electricity, water, some food items, and clothing.

The folks at Path To Freedom aren’t self-sufficient, either. They buy bulk grains for themselves, feed for their livestock, clothing, and toiletry item ingredients (they make their own, but don’t produce the ingredients on their land).

Both of those examples are people who have very little land, compared to, say the settlers in the late 1890s, who were given 160 acres, but both of those examples are also people who live with very few “modern” conveniences on very small pieces of land with very small sums of money. In fact, their incomes likely fall well below what is considered the Federal Poverty level, and by our money-centric standards should be living in squalor.

If you think so, please do spend some time at the Urban Homestead. It’s anything but squalor. They even have a televsion, although I don’t believe they watch it very often, and they, obviously, have an Internet connection. While you’re at it, you should also, really, try to find a copy of Possum Living. It’s amazing what can be done, and how little cash one actually needs to live a very fulfilling life.

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The Sustainable Suburbs: Fowl Language

ByGroovy Green Apr 14, 2008

Another story in our series from Wendy. This one has some nuts and bolts about the cost of keeping chickens in your backyard.

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I live in the suburbs. Mine may not be a “typical” suburban neighborhood – my house was not part of a “planned” subdivision, although a subdivision plan was filed with the town for the road on which I live.

There’s also a planned subdivision across the road from me. The house lots are each a 1/2 acre. There’s another planned subdivision going in right down the road from me. I know the owner of the property. He’s my neighbor and owns the garden center next door.

About a 1/2 mile up the road from me is another family who also has chickens. I think they might also have bees.

This is a residential area. It’s a suburb. With the exception of my home business, the few other home-based workers and the garden center, there are no shops or other stores – just a bunch of houses from Route One until the grocery store that is the beginning of the town proper.

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There Was No Fat Lady Singing

ByGroovy Green Apr 13, 2008

The next in our series from Wendy.

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We watched the movie The End of Suburbia last night. I’ve been waiting a long time to see the film, but after having seen it, I’m actually glad that I didn’t have the opportunity to see it sooner. I like the timing of it all. Here, I’ve planned this series of posts about why we should stay in suburbia, and then the movie comes in the mail. It seems almost too fortuitous, almost fated.

Deus Ex Machina wasn’t as enthusiastic about the movie as I was (when he saw what it was he grumpled something about it being more of that fundamentalist crap). I asked Deus Ex Machina what he thought about the film after we watched it, and his response was, “They didn’t say anything new.”

Basically, the movie was a history of how our country adopted a suburban mindset. The original idea behind the suburb was to give city-dwellers the opportunity to move outside of the crowded and dirty environment of the newly industrialized cities into a cleaner community, usually consisting of residential housing with no industry or retail outlets within close proximity to where people lived. The hope was to give people a “taste” of country living.

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Pass The Scoop, I Likes Me Some Ice Cream With My Cake

ByGroovy Green Apr 12, 2008

The next in our series from Wendy.

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I was supposed to be commenting on the Suburban Lawn of the Future, but I’m having trouble with that topic.

Ask me why.

Okay, I’ll tell you.

I live in Maine, and right now we’re under a foot-deep, concrete-hard blanket of ice and snow, which is not unusual for February in Maine, but it makes thinking about what my garden might look like in the spring a little difficult. Some of my favorite bloggers are starting seeds right now, and from my experience as a gardener in this part of the country, it’s still too early to even do that. The traditional planting date for Maine is Memorial Day – still three full months away (and I learned the hard way not to flout the wisdom of waiting until then).

Instead I hope I can talk convincingly about why, if you already live in the suburbs, keeping your house is a better option than running wildly into the woods, and I’ll be making the assumption that your house in the suburbs carries a mortgage AND that if you found a house in the country, you would also have a mortgage.

In a survival situation, experts stress that the first order of business is finding shelter. Most people freak out and rush around trying to get food. Read More

A Rose by Any Other Name

ByGroovy Green Apr 11, 2008

The next installment in our series from Wendy.

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What is a suburb?

As I was thinking about this post, I started having a really hard time defining what a suburb is. I mean, we all know what it is, right? It’s a planned, homogenized community with plastic-looking houses and artificially green lawns sporting pink flamingoes and rusty swingsets.

But if my goal is to defend suburban life and explain why I think people who live in suburbs have as good a chance of surviving the apocalypse as the people in the country who have a bajillion acres of land and an abundance of natural resources at their disposal, or people in the city who can combine or eschew resources such as transportation and heating, I can’t very well use that definition :) .

I googled the term and found this definition: town or unincorporated developed area close to a city. Suburbs, since they are largely residential, are usually dependent on a city for employment and support services and are generally characterized by low-density development relative to the city.

I think that pretty well explains what a suburb is, but again, if suburban dwellers are “dependent” on the city for support services and employment, then any illusion of self-sufficiency is immediately negated, by definition.

In short, by using either definition, when it comes to the apocalypse, we suburbanites are screwed.

So, let’s focus on what suburbanites have that is unique to their particular habitat, and might, with a little imagination, be used to their advantage.

1. Suburban homes have a yard space, usually between 10,000 and 40,000 sq ft. Not a lot, but more sometimes just means “more”, which isn’t always better.

2. Suburbs are “close” to amenities. While “close” really is subjective, and some people would say that anything within a 50 mile radius qualifies, I (and most of my suburban neighbors) would classify close as within walking distance. It would take me two to three hours to walk to Portland. It would take about an hour to walk to downtown Biddeford (Portland and Biddeford are the largest and the fifth largest cities in the state of Maine, respectively).

3. Suburban homes are usually single-family homes. People who escape to the suburbs want to have some sense of privacy, but recognize that being interdependent might not be such a bad thing.

4. Suburbs do not, typically, have any businesses (except for the occasional “home business”, that usually doesn’t attract on-site clients).

In other words:

If you measure your property by square feet rather than acres, you might be a suburbanite.

If you need extra storage space to house your lawn care apparatus and outdoor furniture, you might be a suburbanite.

If you live close enough to school to walk, but far enough away for them to send the bus, you might be a surburbanite.

If the only bus that comes to your neighborhood is the school bus, you might be a suburbanite.

If you could walk to town for the gallon of milk you need, but choose to drive, because it’s more than a mile, and that’s just too far to walk with those little kids, BUT you don’t think twice about putting on your sneakers and dropping little Sally into the jogging stroller and walking around the neighborhood for some exercise, you might be a suburbanite.

If you drive more than two miles, but less than ten, to buy plastic crap from China, you might be a suburbanite.

If there is no “corner store” in your neighborhood, you might be a suburbanite.

If you’re close enough to see the dirt on your neighbors’ windows, but need binoculars to see what’s on their big screen television, you might be a surburbanite.

If there is anything called a cul-de-sac in your immediate neighborhood, you might be a surburbanite.

If you live in a cul-de-sac … you are a suburbanite.

Avoid the extremes and converge in the middle.

That’s the suburbs.

Suburbs are the happy medium between country life and city life.

Up Next: Mary, Mary Quite Contrary: The Suburban Lawn of the Future

Oh, Give Me a Home…

ByGroovy Green Apr 9, 2008

Wendy, who writes an interesting blog, has been working through the pros and cons of living in the suburbs as we approach the Peak Oil energy descent. What I find most compelling about his discussions is that she is like any of us. She’s struggling to figure out if the suburbs are her home, or if she needs a house and some land to survive. While she talks about it she walks you through her thinking. Whether you agree with it or not, she make some compelling arguments. She has been kind enough to allow us to bring her serious of posts over to our site to share with a bigger world, which I will be doing over the next few days.

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Today was a holiday. Seriously. It’s like President’s Day or something, I think. Anyway, my client’s office wasn’t open today, which means my normal “work day” was spent doing not much of anything. I sat on the computer most of the day … well, not “on” the computer, because that would have been very uncomfortable, and, well, I’m not sure my computer would have been able to support my weight – not that I’m big or anything.

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Monsanto, How Evil Are Thee? Let me Count The Ways

ByGroovy Green Apr 6, 2008

Vanity Fair has a great article on their site featuring one of our favorite corporate villains, Monsanto. It is truly astounding the amount of evil doing that this one company can engage in.

From a business standpoint Monsanto certainly has the right to patent their genetically modified seeds, and profit and protect their profits with litigation from their business developments. But they do not have the right to give us products that suck. Their products suck. They spread all over the countryside. They don’t stay contained. In short, they act like plants. (Amazing, I know)

Monsanto as a company lies, incredibly, about what they are doing. They bribe officials around the world and they seem to treat the world as their toilet. That’s not right for the rest of us.

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Treepee: A Tent That Truly Belongs In The Trees

ByGroovy Green Apr 5, 2008

If you’ve ever wanted to avoid contact with earthly critters or simply understand what it’s like to be a piece of fruit, the Treepee looks to be a pretty good way to do it. Just hang the tent from a sturdy tree, secure the corners, and you’ll be swaying pretty. From the description:

Four tethers, one on each corner, allow the Treepee to be secured for a less mobile ride. Bug nets on the windows allow air to circulate without letting any little critters in. The fabric is fire retardant, water repellent and PU Coated. The fabric has a UV protection factor of 50+. There are pockets on the inside for storage and a bag on a pulley which allows essential supplies to be hauled up into the ‘den’.

Want one? Start saving — the thrill of hovering will cost you about $600. But hey — at least you’ll be safe while your friends are carried away by fire ants.

Tapping Trees For Diesel Fuel

ByGroovy Green Apr 5, 2008

Australian farmers are embarking on a bit of an experiment to see whether or not they can self-sustain their production using diesel-producing trees. As some may know, I have a bit of a love-affair with plants that can produce — in one way or another — biodiesel. For those looking for an update to my “Adventures In Sustainability” series growing Jatropha — it’s coming soon. The plant is currently in hibernation. But I digress…

The diesel-producing trees are called Copaifera langsdorfii and are native to the Brazilian rainforest. The world has known of their unique properties since about the seventeenth century, but it’s only been recently that harvesting of the petrol is being planned on a grand scale. From the article,

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Nobu Sushi Restaurants Use Fiji Bottled Water To Boil Rice

ByGroovy Green Apr 3, 2008

I shouldn’t be surprised. And yet, when I read that Nobu Matsuhisa — owner of the Japanese restaurant chain Nobu — uses Fiji Water to boil rice, I nearly laughed out loud. That was immediately followed by reverence for the power of branding; and lastly, slight depression over the mind-fuck given to the world courtesy of bottled water.

That glimpse into Nobu’s massive love for one of the fastest selling bottled water brands in the world came from an excellent article detailing the success and origin of the Fiji water label. Here’s a highlight:

Another golfer caught his eye and Gilmour watched as the man took a long drink from a European bottled-water brand. How bizarre, he thought, to come to a place like Fiji, where the water is famously pure, and choose to drink a European brand instead of the better and more available local stuff. Inspired, Gilmour founded a production company and signed a 99-year deal with the Fijian government to tap an ancient aquifer on the main island of Viti Levu. He called his brand Fiji Water.

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GE Announces New Line Of Efficient Tankless/Hybrid Water Heaters

ByGroovy Green Apr 2, 2008

Hybrid Water HeatersTankless water heaters always seemed to make a lot of sense to me. I mean, hot water on demand as opposed to hot water sitting and waiting — seems smart, right? Everytime I go away on vacation, I lower the temp on my water tank to conserve energy, but I know I’m in a small minority. Most people probably go along heating water even when they’re not home for extended periods of time.

Which is why I’m jazzed about GE’s new line of tankless water heaters. For those that don’t need tankless, the electric-hybird heater they’ve got waiting in the wings looks pretty sweet as well. According to the release, the gas tankless on-demand heaters will “save 25 percent in water heating costs on an annual energy bill in comparison to a standard 40-gallon gas tank.” Additionally, the unique design can help avoid up to 25 percent of CO2 emissions tied to water heating.

Even better, earlier today the U.S. Department of Energy created the first ENERGY STAR standard for water heaters. Ironically, water heating was the only major residential energy product that did not have an ES designation — even though it’s one of the largest energy consumers in the household.

Of course, not everyone has access to gas (and truly, for those of us building green homes, reducing the use of fossil fuels is probably on the short list) so GE is getting ready to launch an Electric-Hybrid  water heater for next year. According to early tests, this hybrid would reduce typical water heating energy consumption by more than half. While the typical home might use 4800kwh/year, the GE model consumes only 2300kwh/year. Plus, it would retain the same footprint of standard water heaters allowing easy installation.

The Green Picture: Amazing Recycled Drift Wood Horses

ByGroovy Green Apr 2, 2008

If you looked quick enough, you might be mistaken that this is a real horse. Instead, it’s a sculpture put together with pieces of recycled driftwood. The work is the result of artist Heather Jansch — who specializes in art created with driftwood and bronze.

The Green Picture: The Lexus Of Human-Powered Bicycles

ByGroovy Green Mar 31, 2008

The Rhoadescar is one of the swankiest human-powered two seaters I’ve seen yet. Especially with the top up to keep the rain/sun out. Granted, you probably won’t fit in the bike lane — and the highway will be a bit of a challenge, but I did it nonetheless.

The Selsam SuperTurbine Will Submerge During Rough Seas!

ByGroovy Green Mar 29, 2008

The Selsam SuperTurbine is one of the best designs I’ve seen yet for a wind turbine that can survive the hostile open seas. It also looks like it might be a bit of a bitch to navigate through with a tanker — not to mention the description states “the SuperTurbine probably won’t sink a vessel.” Makes you feel warm and cozy inside, doesn’t it? Still, based on designs, it looks like the pitch of the turbine should be high enough to keep you safe.

The advantages of this design are many. First, during large and fierce storms, these deep water turbines may intentionally lay down by flooding chambers, or even completely submerge to survive. Bonus! Second, flotation near the surface forms a fulcrum, with the weight of the rotors and driveshaft balanced by a downward force from the mooring below. According to the site, this allows the turbine to bend similar to arching your back to take advantage of wind patterns much more easily. Additionally, the rotors can be staggered, spiral, or in line.

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World’s Largest LED Chandelier Is Beautifully Green

ByGroovy Green Mar 28, 2008

Behold! The wonderful efficiency of next-gen LED lighting is now being integrated with the grandeur of luxury illumination — specifically, massive chandeliers. Even more specific – the world’s largest chandelier currently installed at the Stanley theatre in Utica, New York.

This chandelier — weighing in at almost 7,000 pounds, 35 feet in diameter, 17 feet tall — uses 328 LEDs manufactured by Philips Luxeon and consumes just 1,120 watts of electricity. That’s almost seven times more efficient than conventional light bulbs. Not to mention the fact that will be many years before workers have to replace any of the bulbs due to burnout. Unless, of course, the Phantom has anything to say about it.

Damn Phantom.