Sustainable Living

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.

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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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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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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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.

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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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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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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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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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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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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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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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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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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Eco-Libris, Plant a Tree for Every Book You Read

ByGroovy Green Mar 20, 2008

According to the Eco-Libris 20 million trees for virgin paper used for the production of books sold in the U.S. alone. That’s a lot of trees… In an effort to help you pay back Mother Nature, Eco-Libris will plant a tree for each book you decide to ‘balance out’. Planting 10 trees costs $10, to ‘balance out’ 10 books. Eco-Libris works with planting partners to plant trees in developing countries.

“Our planting partners are organizations that work in developing countries. Their planting and conservation activities are an integral part of their efforts to help local communities in these countries move towards a sustainable future. We make sure that your trees will be planted where they provide significant value for both the environment and the local communities, who are very much involved and play an important part in the planting projects.”

For every book you ‘balance out’ you receive a sticker made of recycled paper, to mark the book as part of you effort to act in a sustainable way. When you are done reading the book trade it on BookMooch.

Electronic Tattoo Display Draws Energy From Your Blood

ByGroovy Green Feb 28, 2008

We’ve all heard of alternative sources of energy from sunlight, water, and wind — but how about blood? An inventor by the name of Jim Mielke has created a bluetooth-ready, wireless, blood-fueled display that uses tiny microscopic spheres, somewhat similar to tattoo ink, to display images. Here’s how it works:

The basis of the 2×4-inch “Digital Tattoo Interface” is a Bluetooth device made of thin, flexible silicon and silicone. It´s inserted through a small incision as a tightly rolled tube, and then it unfurls beneath the skin to align between skin and muscle. Through the same incision, two small tubes on the device are attached to an artery and a vein to allow the blood to flow to a coin-sized blood fuel cell that converts glucose and oxygen to electricity. After blood flows in from the artery to the fuel cell, it flows out again through the vein.

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