If garden pots had a pecking order, designer garden pots would be at the top and the humble black plastic ones would be at the bottom. As far as being eco-friendly is concerned, designer pots have it covered, while at the bottom of the list, not much can be said for black plastic except that it is re-usable to a certain extent. That is, it can be repainted and decorated to look much more attractive and to help it last longer.
However, when it comes to designer pots, plastic is not involved as such pots are made from more durable materials such as glazed terracotta which is baked clay, fibreglass and other materials. Some are made from concrete, which is really too heavy, especially if the pot is to go on a balcony or has to be moved around much.
Some designer pots are made from stone, an environmentally good choice, since there seems to be a never-ending supply of stone available. Harvesting stone does not harm the environment because nothing can grow where stone is. Even if it is underground, the roots of many larger plants such as trees will not be able to penetrate it.
Most of the materials that such pots are made from are highly durable; they have to be to survived the natural effects of soil, fertiliser and water that is in them for most of their life. They don’t need to be maintained in any way except for an occasional wipe over with a damp cloth on the outside to keep them clean and shiny. So you could say that such pots are sustainable and certainly friendly to the environment.
Many homes have carpet for at least some part of the floor covering. It is soft, comfortable, quiet to walk on and saves toddler’s many bruises. However, it is not quite as easy to clean as a hard floor surface. Professional carpet cleaning should be done by experts like Brilliance Carpet Cleaning Perth every year, but it is important to ensure they use products that are non-toxic.
Meanwhile, you will probably need to have some carpet cleaners in the cupboard so you can deal with spots and spills as soon as they happen. The only trouble is that many cleaning products for carpet contain toxic ingredients that stay in the carpet long after they have dried and release fumes that can cause a whole host of problems. Skin irritation, asthma, bronchitis, dizziness, headaches, nausea and many more symptoms can be caused by the toxins in your carpet.
Studies have shown that a carpet can hold up to eight times its weight in dust, dirt and allergens. You may think that throwing the old carpet out and laying new carpets will solve the problem. However, many new carpets are made from products that are actually very harmful to our health. These products release fumes into the air and we breathe them in. Have you ever noticed that new carpet smell? It is very likely toxic.
If you are designing a new home or renovating the bathroom, you may want to consider installing frameless glass shower screens. This modern bathroom trend is one that is sure to last as people find out all the benefits. One is that you can see right to the end of the bathroom so the perceived distance is greater, meaning your bathroom looks a lot larger.
The beauty of using frame-less glass for the walls and door in your bathroom renovation, is that glass is one of the most environmentally friendly building materials there is. Of course, it doesn’t break down in landfill ever, but it can be totally reused and there is an increasing number of recycling plants springing up to do that very thing. The heat needed to remelt glass is not nearly as high as it is to make it in the first place. And the strength of glass is not compromised by the recycling process. Whatever is made from it will be just as strong and last just as long as the first item.
At least some councils are now providing sorting bins for glass waste to make the recycling process easier and more sustainable. Glass comes from sand and while there seems to be no shortage of that, recycling glass is the best way to keep it out of landfill, where it can last for hundreds of years.
Another good thing about installing glass shower screens is that you minimise the use of other materials. All that is needed are a few short chrome or stainless steel holders to ensure the sheets of glass stay upright. It is strong enough to support itself, does not need painting or any other kind of maintenance, and it easy to clean, especially if you use a rubber scraper to remove water drops.
If you are re-roofing your home, you will want to choose a sustainable option. A roof is one of the most important parts of the home; without it you cannot even live there. But if choosing Colorbond roofing you will want to know that it ticks all the important boxes.
Colorbond ticks all those boxes and more besides. It is one roof that is approved for use in bushfire prone areas. This is not only because it is flame retardant, but because it offers very few niches for burning embers to get stuck in. Each sheet is quite long and the overlap has no niche under it, like you find on most tile roofs. So, hot embers from an approaching bush fire simply blow off, rather than lodging on the roof and catching it alight.
If your company is looking for ways to be environmentally friendly, that is all to the good, because many people prefer to deal with a business that takes care of the environment. If you have to make or use scaffolding, there are ways in which you can be eco-friendly right on your doorstep.
For a start, using strong steel to make it will not only ensure safety for all those who must use it, but means it will last longer. You can then deconstruct the structure after use and re-use it elsewhere. It can be used many times over and if you store it out of the weather it will last for an even longer time. This will reduce your costs as well as reducing the cost of purchasing more steel to make more.
Steel is highly recyclable even though it doesn’t break down in landfill quickly. In fact, it can take years for it to rust away. But it can be melted down and reused to make many other things. Better still, this can be done over and over with the last item made from it being just as strong as the first one.
It is strong, durable and needs little maintenance over its lifetime. However, it can corrode if used in a marine environment, so some kind of finish is needed to help it last longer. Powder coating or painting on a regular basis will help to keep it in top shape. Steel is rather heavy, but it can span quite a long distance without support, so it is well liked in the industry for this alone.
Many homeowners these days add a swimming pool to their property to enhance their lifestyle. Having a swimming pool gives the children a reason to leave their electronic devices and get some exercise, all in the name of fun. Most pool builders will tell you that concrete swimming pools have certain advantages over fibreglass.
If you look around at public swimming pools you will see they are made of concrete. This is because concrete is stronger and more durable than fibreglass. While the latter does have its good points, if you want something that is going to last you would choose the former.
Not all properties can be flat and even and not all blocks of ground are square or rectangular. Some have odd shapes that make it difficult to fit a pool in that comes in standard, stock sizes like fibreglass. This is where homeowners find a concrete pool more viable. Pool builders can make your concrete pool any size and shape to fit in a corner or anywhere you want it.
In addition, since the pool is being designed and built from the ground up, you can have a lot more accessories such as fountains, slides and underwater lighting in it. Concrete is a sustainable product made from limestone, of which there is plenty worldwide. It can also be made out of waste products from steel mills and power plants, making it even more environmentally friendly.
No matter whether your pool is saltwater or chlorine you will need help with cleaning it. Robotic pool cleaners that do the job without any help from you are the best way to decrease your workload. All an automatic pool cleaner needs is to be put into the pool and switched on. Some may need to be connected to the pool pump and filter also, but this is much quicker and easier than scrubbing the pool out by hand.
When choosing the type of pool to have, you may be wondering if salt water pools are environmentally friendly. In fact, even though the ocean is full of salt water, a pool full of salt water is not really eco friendly. For a start, all that salt can really rust and erode any metal in or near the pool, even if it is galvanised. You need to change all those components to brass, especially in places where salt water comes into contact with them on a regular basis.
Salt water is also bad for plants, so if you have a garden in or near the pool it is not likely to thrive. It is not only the salt in the water, but any fine mist that is swept off the top of the pool by strong wind would contain salt. Salt water may also have an adverse effect on the pool pump and the pool cleaners.
Many people think that a salt pool is a safer alternative to chlorine, but in fact there is also chlorine in a salt water pool, so it is doubly bad for the environment. Chlorine is a dangerous chemical that is a carcinogen and has been linked to asthma, rashes, skin irritation, headaches and other problems in cases where people spend a lot of time swimming in it.
A sign of the times – but one that may be welcome from the digitally connected among us – is this smart terrarium concept by designer Samuel Wilkinson.
Called the “Biome”, the beautiful flora terrarium is controlled exclusively (climate, water level and nutrients) via your iPad or other smartphone device. Wilkinson told MocoLogo that the idea “promotes ‘digital downtime’ by finding an alternative use for smartphones and encouraging their owners to consider a slower life. The control and nurturing of a real mini eco-system takes patience and care, contrasting with the immediacy of messaging or tweeting that is so characteristic of the smartphone generation.”
Biome was developed for a recent exhibition titled “Slow Tech – Designs for Digital Downtime”. There’s no word yet on if the Biome or its companion app will ever see the light of day as a real product
Like something straight out of scifi, this hydroponic “Windowfarm” kit is the latest solution for urban dwellers looking to grow their own food in a limited space.
It comes to us from a crowd-sourced community of 22,000 windowfarmers around the world; utilizing an approach called R&D-I-Y, or Research & Develop It Yourself. Since 2009, this collective has been working towards perfecting a micro-hydroponic kit that can grow just about any vegetable if you’ve got direct sunlight.
Their latest version has a new design, environmentally-friendly cups and wires, and an awesome reduced price (down from an original $249) of $99. To manufacture the kits, they’ve taken the Kickstarter route and, with 13 days left, have already surpassed their goal of $50,000. If you’re not keen to start your own plants, you can pick up a pack of baby plants for $49, which include 8 varieties like “Genovese Basil, a peppery watercress, perfect-caesar romaine, red leaf lettuce, tangy red-veined sorrel.”
For those that are thinking, “I could make this!” – they’ve got you covered there as well with instructions online for a “Standard 3-bottle Airlift Windowfarm” or a “Hanging 2-Column” variety. Sounds like a pretty decent holiday gift for anyone you know that’s tight on space but keen to grown their own food.
Faced with invasion by alien plants, the Izaak Walton League calls upon the goat justice league (well, not the real goat justice league…) to help save them from being overrun at their 33 acre property in Gaithersburg, MD. This selective grazing technique will be employed to control the populations of Japanese honeysuckle, Garlic Mustard, Autumn Olive, and Oriental Bittersweet.
From their website:
Eliminating invasive plants – permanently – improves wildlife habitat as well as human habitat. But traditional methods of doing this over large areas involve repeated application of chemicals that could leach into our waterways. A new program is fighting nature with nature.
Eco-Goats brings a herd of goats to large properties infested with invasive species. The goats are contained within an electric fence to tackle invasive plants one acre at a time. Goats eat the invasive plants down to the ground, and goat handlers either dig up stumps or kill them with very targeted use of an herbicide.
We wish them luck, and are curious to see how this selective grazing turns out!
The goat army prepares for battle with aliens
Depending on which figures you choose to use, unemployment in America is approaching 20%, a figure that is quite remarkable. Fully 1/5 of the people in America who could be working are not currently working. I think urban farming could be this generation’s way to handle unemployment, sort of like a 2011 version of the CCC.
When you are willing to trade your labor for less space and less machinery you can create an amazing income from a small land base. SPIN farming is a method developed by a farming couple in Canada when they realized that they could make more money by growing intensively on less land if they grew the right crops at the right times.
They have a farm income calculator on their site that suggests that a farmer with 1/2 an acre can generate $24,000 in gross sales on the low end up to $72,000 on the high end. I think this is doable as well, but it does require a bit more marketing and growing of high value crops. We use a CSA model for our urban farm and I don’t think that will get us to those dollar figures because a CSA model is similar to a bulk food model vs. a model where you would grow exclusively high value crops like exotic green, radishes or beets for restaurants.
A wedding is a wonderful time that should be enjoyed by all. If you are into sustainability you’ll want to add some ideas for keeping your wedding eco-friendly. It’s not as hard as you may think. One thing common to all weddings is the photographer. Many commercial photographers don’t use digital cameras, so you might want to think about having a photo booth at the reception instead. Why?
A photo booth is digital, so there are no poisonous chemicals being used to develop the film and no paper wasted printing out photos that you might feel are not just what you want. Rather, you can download your photos straight from the internet and examine them carefully before choosing which ones to print out.
In fact, you can also choose not to print any, but to have them all placed onto a CD or DVD or other media – even a coffee mug – so you can enjoy them whenever you like or send them to friends and family who couldn’t be at the wedding, for gifts. Besides, printed photos are at risk of loss or degradation over the years, while a DVD will last for a long time with the images on it always looking just as fresh and new as the day they were taken.
Resorts around the world continue to impress me with their commitment to sustainable practices — but Rosalie Bay Resort on the island of Dominica in the Caribbean is truly a standout.
Five years in the making, the 22-acre getaway was built on principles of conservation and preservation, surrounded by an undisturbed natural setting of mountains, lush forests, and gardens. In addition to solar panels, the resort also features a Norwin Turbine 225 kW — which provides some 70% of the power used by the 28 beautiful rooms in nine cottages. With these renewables in place, Rosalie is effectively self-sustaining; an epic achievement that’s yet still rare in today’s world of “green resorts”.
“Nature should be preserved and shared,” said Dr. Ken Watson, general manager. “Rosalie Bay Resort was designed to be environmentally sustainable while showcasing one of the most beautiful natural settings in the Caribbean. Many resorts claim to be green, but we’ve made a legitimate commitment with the wind turbine being the centerpiece of our pledge.”
The NREL/GE Energy WWSIS study appears to be built on several questionable assumptions, each allowing the modeled system (of up to 30% wind/5% solar in the West Connect within the great Western Interconnect) to withstand the inherent difficulties of large scale renewable integration. The primary issue, consistent with my dissertation research, is that the authors assume that we can afford to massively overbuild the capacity of the system, adding the large percentages of renewable generation on top of newly built and existing plants. This allows one to be able to ignore the hourly or sub-hourly periods with extremely low output from renewables, as well as the days or weeks at a time during the summer when wind production is well below yearly average output levels. An ample reserve is at the ready to step in when renewables perform poorly. Secondly and equally important, the authors assume that coal plants, which have traditionally run in a base load capacity, will be able to be operated very flexibly – on par with combined cycle gas plants.
The biggest environmental challenge we face is educating people
Our globe is a big community
We affect our surroundings
Without knowledge there is consequence
Specialization is prominent
But familiarity with all systems is essential
To know a tree dies but not why
Could be a plague
We care about trivial things at times
What is on TV?
No, where will my next sip of water come from?
Once we understand
We can adapt
Systems can be in balance
A quiet lake, a deep ocean, and a steep mountain
What can we learn about life?
Careful observation and ongoing education
One day, our world will be of one mind
Ed Note: Thanks Jessica for being the first from SUNY-ESF to submit a post. Interested in posting at Groovy Green? Use the “Contact” tab above.
Students from SUNY-ESF will be taking over Groovy Green next week. Get the perspective of the future environmental leaders of America (and places beyond).
Come back and see us next week, starting Thursday 11/18/10 and see what they have to say.
I’ve had the humbling experience of undergoing ankle surgery about 2 months ago. As a father of a near-two year old, and a husband, it has been extremely difficult to shift from the role of a provider and equal member of the household to a person initially very dependent on others.
My family and friends have been very supportive, and where we still needed some help, we were able to find babysitters, someone to help clean, and someone to do the annual fall clean-up.
I’ve progressed over the last month from a doped-up, leg-elevated, impression in my couch to a semi-functioning member of my family and society. I’m back to work, and trying to catch up on my PhD studies. Still, its a big challenge to hop from place to place, and occasionally catch a ride in a wheelchair during longer outings. Let’s just say that I’ve had plenty of time to think.
Cleveland’s City Council recently passed a $2.5 million measure to bring RFID-equipped recycling bins to 25,000 homes over the course of the next year. Hey, nothing like encouraging a little green behavior. But this one carries a catch:
The chips will allow city workers to monitor how often residents roll carts to the curb for collection. If a chip show a recyclable cart hasn’t been brought to the curb in weeks, a trash supervisor will sort through the trash for recyclables.
Trash carts containing more than 10 percent recyclable material could lead to a $100 fine, according to Waste Collection Commissioner Ronnie Owens.
Bottled water is surely one of the biggest jokes ever played on humanity. With plentiful supplies of clean water, first world countries still spends a horrifying amount of money on boutique water — some sourced from half-way around the globe.
The image above is but a piece of a stunning infographic from Online Education detailing the damaging effects of bottled water on our planet — and wallets. Check out the full image after the jump below:
Paper Mate sent me a few of their new pens and mechanical pencils to try out in honor of Earth Day. Now while I don’t think that compostable pens are the solution to the world’s problems – I guess I have to give credit to companies for trying to reduce waste and come up with solutions to our overflowing landfills.
The pens work just as well as the normal Paper Mate varieties, I’m a blue ink kind of guy. They’re also very comfortable, but that comes at the expense of a non-compostable grip. The ink hasn’t run out yet, but when it does, I’ll throw it in the bottom of my composter and see what happens. It’s supposed to take a year to break down, but with the generous heat from my food waste-leaves-grass combo, maybe it’ll take less time.
Just don’t forget to break the pen down before composting. There are many non-compostable parts that still need to be removed.
What follows is something I posted in September of 2008. The US presidential campaign was building up steam and I was sick and tired of hearing ‘Drill Baby Drill.’ It made me ill because of the stupidity of the entire argument. I wrote,
The Book of Rubbish Ideas is anything but rubbish. It is FULL of excellent tips to help eco-newbies and hard-core Greens see rubbish as a resource, cut down on waste, and save time, money and resources as a result.
Don’t be put off by the quirky cover; author, Tracey Smith, a contented downshifter, aims to take the freaky out of eco, and her book is accessible, practical and positive. There’s no holier-than-thou attitude to reusable nappies, washable sanpro and chicken-keeping; we are encouraged to ditch the guilt for what we are not doing and start feeling good about what we are doing.
Tracey takes you on a tour through the average family home, from bedroom and bathroom through to the kitchen and out into the garden, including the Usually Male Domain of shed and garage, which so often get missed out where decluttering’s concerned.
[ed note:] This post was sent to us by Tammy Roberts, from West Yorkshire, UK:
I’M GIVING UP MY CAR
I didn’t learn to drive until I was 30. Up until that point, I hadn’t seen the point of having a car or even having the ability to drive, as public transport was convenient enough. However, 2 months before my 30th birthday, I moved to Plymouth for a new job and for the first time, I discovered how difficult it was to do my outreach work without a driving license – my job covered the whole of Devon and Cornwall. Within 6 months, I passed my driving test and around 4 months later, I bought my first car – my beloved Fiat Tipo. Yes, it was cheap and a bit of a banger and had all the quirks and faults that are found on most Italian cars (it’s a standing joke on Top Gear), but I loved it nonetheless! And, my goodness, did I love the freedom that being a car owner gave me! I was off to the beach at weekends and I drove back home to Yorkshire once a month to visit family and friends. No more sharing my personal space on a 7 hour train journey, and trying to carry my own weight in luggage. It was fantastic! I even moved back to Yorkshire with my car full of my belongings, with a friend following behind, his car equally laden with my stuff. I could not believe that I hadn’t learned to drive sooner and found that I needed my car for work more and more as I moved from job to job When I had my son, 4 years ago, having a car was a bonus. I remember a childhood of long bus journeys to shopping destinations with my mum, gran and my sister and it was so nice to be able to jump in the car with William in his baby seat and set off on day trips or to visit friends.
We’ve seen mega-turbines before — but never one with an output of 10MW, and certainly not one that floats!
When completed, the world’s largest turbine will stand at roughly 533 feet with a rotor diameter of 475 feet. At three times more powerful than current turbines, it will be able to power over 2,000 homes. From Treehugger,
It will be built by the Norwegian company Sway and tested first on land in Oeygarden, southwestern Norway. Unlike most offshore wind projects where turbines rest on the seafloor, Sway turbines float. This means further offshore development where winds are stronger and more consistent.
The floating tower is a pole filled with ballast beneath the water creating low center of gravity. Anchored to the seabed with a single pipe and a suction anchor, it can tilt 5-8°, and turn around with the wind.
It’s expected that the prototype will cost close to $70 million and be completed sometime in 2011.
A lot of people are comparing this beautiful treehouse in Portland, Oregon to a hobbit dwelling. Personally, add a little black paint and it looks like something Darth Vader would retreat to when things get a little to hectic on the Death Star. It also looks like it would double as a swanky TIE fighter. From the architect,
Located on a flag lot, a steep sloping grade provided the opportunity to bring the main level of the house into the tree canopy to evoke the feeling of being in a tree house. A lover of music, the client wanted a house that not only became part of the natural landscape but also addressed the flow of music. This house evades the mechanics of the camera; it is difficult to capture the way the interior space flows seamlessly through to the exterior. One must actually stroll through the house to grasp its complexities and its connection to the exterior. One example is a natural wood ceiling, floating on curved laminated wood beams, passing through a generous glass wall which wraps around the main living room.
My graduate school advisor, Charles Hall, is a very intelligent man, though he frequently defers to his doctoral advisor’s talent and knowledge. Howard Odum explained the first and second laws of thermodynamics concisely and in a manner easy to understand:
The quantity of energy within a system is maintained (first law). However, the quality of that energy degrades over time (second law).
Entropy is defined as
a function of thermodynamic variables, as temperature, pressure, or composition, that is a measure of the energy that is not available for work during a thermodynamic process. A closed system evolves toward a state of maximum entropy.
Lutz was asked if that means he would favor higher gasoline taxes, as in Europe where taxes drive fuel to more than $5 a gallon. He said he couldn’t speak for GM, but he said he saw a lot of value in a steady tax rise to much higher levels.
“You either continue with inexpensive motor fuels and have to find other ways to incent the customer to buy hybrids and electric vehicles, such as the government credits,” he said. “Or the other alternative is a gradual increase in the federal fuel tax of 25 cents a year, which in my estimation would have the benefit of giving automobile companies a planning base, and giving families that own vehicles a planning base.”
Lutz continued, noting that if families knew that the price of gasoline were going to steadily increase over the next few years, they would change their buying habits and lean towards more fuel efficient vehicles.
We love raucous festivals like Burning Man and music jamborees like Bonaroo, but we’ve never heard of one that combines the spirit of these events with the mission to actually accomplish something. Like building a build a micro wind turbine farm.
Such is the idea behind “Villages in the Sky: DIY World Change” — a a family-friendly renewable energy and sustainability celebration located in the Ozarks and scheduled for June 2010. Unlike gatherings that strive to leave things the way they were before anyone arrived, Villages in the Sky is looking to take advantage of crowd sourcing to create a better place than existed before. Participants will help build a micro wind turbine farm and bio-mass systems as well as giant play structures (zip lines, tree houses, ropes courses, etc). The entire event is internally cash free event which promotes a volunteer ethic and strangers working cooperatively for a shared goal. In fact, the main goal is to leave behind the beginnings of a locally self sufficient eco-village. Perhaps even one inspired by the Ewoks. From the website,
Environmentally-conscious PC owners beware! There’s a fairly recent spyware virus out there that takes advantage of the green movement to promote an entirely different agenda.
Called “Eco Antivirus”, the app poses as green security software — offering to help conserve the energy your computer consumes while searching for malicious bugs. Unfortunately, the app is a malicious program itself that “bombards the screen with a series of fake security warnings, deceiving scans and aggressive marketing designed to persuade the user to visit the Eco AntiVirus website to purchase the malicious software.”
While those infected have reported it being something of a nightmare to remove the spyware, there are now legit apps to handle this wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Lesson here? Don’t download suspicious software without first doing a bit of googling to pull back the curtain on any BS green claims. Even software can greenwash.
2010 will most likely go down as the year electric cars were (once again) made available to the public through Big Auto. Both Nissan and Chevy have plans to release the Leaf and Volt respectively — and both focus on getting energy from being plugged in. (Although the Volt can charge its battery utilizing its small “range-extender engine”, but then what’s the point of having an electric car?)
If you’ve got the deep pockets for one, the most conventional way of charging the vehicle will be to simply plug it into an ordinary wall socket. Charging a Nissan Leaf would take up to 16 hours, and charging a Volt would take eight. If you’re in a hurry, however, the best thing to have on-hand in the garage is a “quick charger” — which pushes a much more considerable amount of juice to your car. Instead of 8 hours, you can now have a fully charged Volt in under 2.5 hours.
Unfortunately, having a quick charger installed in your garage is not something just anyone can do.
Security fencing is an essential part of everyday life in most western countries these days. It does a great job of keeping intruders out of certain secure areas while protecting those within, but is it environmentally friendly? Fencing of all kinds is there for a good reason and sometimes this is to protect our unique flora and fauna from harm.
Consider these reasons why such fencing is environmentally friendly:
When you were a kid, did you ever dream up the goal of one day building the largest treehouse ever? For Horrace Burgess in Tennessee, that dream became a reality with this gargantuan structure that features 11 floors and more than 8,000 sq.ft. of real estate. From ZuZuTop,
The greatness of Horrace Burgess treehouse is not subject to the tree on which it is based alone though. As it turns out, while the tree in question does contribute something to the height of the treehouse, the owner’s efforts also go a long way towards this greatness possible. The tree’s contribution to the 97 foot edifice is only 80 feet, so that the other 17 feet on top of the basic 80 foot are from Horrace’s sheer effort. To be sure, we can’t begrudge the base tree of a claim to greatness too: a tree towering at 80 feet in height and with a diameter of over 12 feet is a real wonder.
Incredibly enough, Burgess isn’t done yet. This whole project, which he estimates to have cost north of $12,000, is still a work in progress. Tower of Babylon anyone?
How’s this for a unique and eco-friendly way to get from the funeral home to your final resting place? Wade Lind, owner of Sunset Hills Cemetery in Eugene, Oregon came up with the “bike hearst” as an option for those really looking to limit their impact once they’ve passed on. Let’s hope there aren’t many hills along the way.
Thanks to Stephen von Worley at Weather Sealed, we now have a pretty decent visual of how fast food chain McDonald’s dominates our country. Worley mapped the 13,000+ locations of McDonald’s across the lower 48 states — presenting a beautiful, but depressing look at the density of the Mickey D’s empire. From his report,
“For maximum McSparseness, we look westward, towards the deepest, darkest holes in our map. There, in a patch of rolling grassland, loosely hemmed in by Bismarck, Dickinson, Pierre, and the greater Rapid City-Spearfish-Sturgis metropolitan area, we find our answer. Between the tiny Dakotan hamlets of Meadow and Glad Valley lies the McFarthest Spot: 107 miles distant from the nearest McDonald’s, as the crow flies, and 145 miles by car!”
Note to self: Move to Dakota.
Continuing on our post from yesterday about the living root bridges of India, we present to you this beautiful creation now celebrating 10 years.
Started in 1999 by architect Marcel Kalberer and a group of 300 volunteers, the Auerworld Willow Palace is a canopy of strategically-placed trees woven together. The project was based on ancient techniques used in both Mesopotamian and European structures. The Willow Palace has proven so popular, that it is now the focal point of “Full Moon” celebrations that draw thousands.
Since Kalberer began creating natural structures back in 1984, he’s helped design more than 70 additional projects throughout Europe — and inspired thousands more willow designs around the world.
We’ve seen plenty of solar-charger accessories for mobile phones and other gadgets, but this is the first one that appears to attach seamlessly. Created by product design firm MotionTouch for a company called Powcell, this solar-powered sleeve slides onto the back of a mobile phone handset and uses light to charge the unit.
The large solar panel provides the greatest surface area for light-capture and maximises the sleeve’s efficiency, including working in some ambient light conditions. And Powcell continues to charge its internal battery even when removed from the phone – so when reconnected it provides talk-time even if the device battery is exhausted.
Ahead of full production the sleeve has attracted considerable interest from major phone manufacturers, which have even approached Powcell about sleeves for future, yet-to-launch models of their phones.
If you’ve ever lived in or visited Ithaca, NY your probably familiar with the phrase “Ithaca is gorges”. It’s a funny little saying that gives a good indication of the region’s topography — hills, hills, and steeper hills. In fact, the inclines we have around here would make even Lance Armstrong break a sweat. So, it was with great expectation that I took advantage of an opportunity to review the IZIP Trekking Enlightened hybrid-electric bicycle from Currie Technologies. Could it be possible to bike to work and not immediately have to take another shower?
I’m still figuring that out — and will have a full review shortly — but so far, I have to say that I’m very impressed with the technology being utilized in this bike. First off, this isn’t one of those bikes that you hit a switch and kick back while the electric motors putts you along. The IZIP instead is an electric-assist — giving you some extra torque to help you up some tough inclines. To that end, you still have to pedal. The beauty of this system is that you can choose to have it on or off — or at different levels of assist. About to hit a hill and want some support? Simply press the “+” button on the left handlebar and watch the LCD indicator light a few bars higher. Want to back off? Hit the “-” button. It’s as simple as that — and believe me, you still get a workout.
More often than not, it’s great to have some solid connections in the green world. Shea Gunther— one of the top green bloggers on the web and twitter — casually threw a question my way earlier this week: Would I like to try a pair of New Balance’s first ever green shoe for their “Eco-prefer Collection”. Would I?!
Less than 12 hours after I accepted, a shiny pair of New Balance 070s arrived on my doorstep. I tore open the box, admired the bold colors, and have pretty much been wearing them since. But first, let’s talk about what it is exactly that makes these shoes “green”.
Obviously, New Balance set out to completely re-think they way they design shoes in as environmentally-friendly a manner as possible. To that end, the 070 fits together like a kind of puzzle to reduce waste. The outsole features a rice husk fill that decreases the amount of rubber used in the production of the shoe. The insert, as well as all synthetics, are made from recycled materials. The upper materials use a combination of recycled polyester and natural materials. The upper is also designed so that everything has a symmetrical opposite. This was done to minimize waste as much as possible when cutting the material for the shoes.