Recent Posts

Biome Smart Terrarium for Gadget-Loving Green Thumbs

ByGroovy Green Nov 29, 2011

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

Windowfarm Kit The Latest Wonder in Micro Gardening

ByGroovy Green Nov 24, 2011

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.

Izaak Walton League Enlists the Help of Goats

ByGroovy Green Aug 4, 2011

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

Urban Farming, The New Way to Handle Unemployment?

ByGroovy Green May 17, 2011

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.

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Making Your Wedding Photographs Sustainable

ByGroovy Green Dec 9, 2010

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 from Lumin8 Events 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.

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Rosalie Bay Resort Features Dominica’s First Wind Turbine

ByGroovy Green Dec 8, 2010

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.”

My review of the NREL Western Wind and Solar Integration Study

ByGroovy Green Dec 7, 2010

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.

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Green Poetry: “Streams of Consciousness”

ByGroovy Green Nov 19, 2010

The biggest environmental challenge we face is educating people

Our globe is a big community

We interact

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.

Coming Next Week – College Bloggers

ByGroovy Green Nov 13, 2010

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.

Can a “One-legged” Man Stay Green?

ByGroovy Green Nov 12, 2010

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.

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Cleveland’s RFID-enabled Recycle Bins Report When You’re Not Using Them

ByGroovy Green Sep 9, 2010

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.

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The Facts About Bottled Water

ByGroovy Green May 22, 2010

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:

bottled_water

Paper Mate Pens – Now with Less Waste…

ByGroovy Green Apr 19, 2010

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.

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Offshore Oil :: Drill Baby Drill :: The Obama Plan

ByGroovy Green Mar 31, 2010

usoilconsumption

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,

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Review: The Book of Rubbish Ideas

ByGroovy Green Feb 21, 2010

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.

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A Groovy Green Reader Gives Up Her Car

ByGroovy Green Feb 17, 2010

[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.

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World’s Largest Wind Turbine To Float Off Norway

ByGroovy Green Feb 16, 2010

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.

If Darth Vader Built A Treehouse, It Would Looks Something Like This

ByGroovy Green Jan 18, 2010

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.

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Biosphere 2, Meet the Second Law of Thermodynamics

ByGroovy Green Jan 13, 2010

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.

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Up is Down. Black is White. Night is Day. GM’s Lutz Advocates for Increased Gas Tax

ByGroovy Green Jan 13, 2010

From CNNMoney.com:

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.

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Renewable Energy Company Creating The Biggest Green Party You’ve Ever Seen

ByGroovy Green Jan 4, 2010

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,

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Spyware Disguised As Eco Antivirus Tricking Users

ByGroovy Green Jan 3, 2010

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.

Buying An Electric Car? You Might Want To Order Your Charging Station Now

ByGroovy Green Jan 3, 2010

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.

Why Security Fencing is Classed as Environmentally Friendly

ByGroovy Green Dec 1, 2009

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:

  • If such a fence is not there, plants and animals can be injured or killed from being driven over, or walked on. This may not necessarily be done on purpose, but the result is the same; the destruction of habitat and thus, of the species that need it for their survival. So it can be said that such a fence is environmentally friendly.
  • Such fencing is usually made from wire, steel or galvanise iron, or a combination of all these materials. In many cases there may be concrete posts or footings as well. All these materials are durable and long-lasting, requiring little maintenance over the years, another tick for being friendly to the environment.
  • There are many different kinds of fencing and what is used depends on the purpose of the fence. Commercial fencing can be made to look visually appealing by the use of such elements as limestone blocks, but in most cases a fence looks neat and tidy anyway, as it separates one area from another and defines space.
  • It can be used to ensure foot or vehicular traffic causes the least amount of harm to the environment and can keep many different types of native or farm animals and pets separated from each other and thus, free from harm.
  • Security fencing is also used to keep our precious children safe from wandering away and from other dangers, so it does many essential jobs well.
  • Many types of fencing can be recycled by being dismantled and used in another location when necessary, so that too, makes it environmentally friendly. Steel and iron can also be melted down and re-formed into something else, making those kinds of fences highly recyclable.

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Crazy Treehouse Could Probably House A Small Village

ByGroovy Green Oct 28, 2009

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?

The Bike Hearse: Your Green Trip To The Afterlife

ByGroovy Green Oct 12, 2009

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.

The Green Picture: How Far Away Is The Nearest McDonald’s?

ByGroovy Green Sep 25, 2009

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.

Auerworld Willow Palace: Celebrating 10 Years Of Growing Green

ByGroovy Green Aug 18, 2009

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.

Solar-Powered Sleeve Coming To iPhone, Blackberry, Other Mobile Handhelds

ByGroovy Green Jul 29, 2009

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.

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IZIP Trekking Enlightened Hybrid-Electric Bike: First Impressions

ByGroovy Green Jul 16, 2009

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.

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New Balance 070 Eco Shoes Review: Green Kicks, Low Impact

ByGroovy Green Jul 9, 2009

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.

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Enjoy A Private Solar Shower In This Personal Pop-Up Tent

ByGroovy Green Jun 19, 2009

Enjoy solar showers, but really want to be completely naked in the process? Unless you’re in a nudist colony, that option might be not available on a public beach. However, this innovative (and stylish) pop-up privacy tent from Guide Gear will hide your bits and bops while giving you a clean, hot rinse. The 6.5 lb tent is quick to setup and includes a 5-gallon PVC Solar Shower. Said one recent reviewer:

Our family has always been more on the “minimal” side for car camping trips, but with my 23 year old daughter and her friends along on our recent trip, we needed a shower. We bought a Zodi water heater and this pop up shower tent. Great decision! The tent pops up in a second, nothing to put together and added almost no weight or bulk to our gear. The olive green material provided total coverage, blended nicely with the outdoor terrain, and had plenty of room for big guys. The 3 adjustments we made were adding a clip/clothespin to attach the shower head to the top, a chair right outside to hang towel and clothes (it cannot support much weight), and a large plastic pan to stand on. With those items, we had eight of us showering daily with no hitch.

That being said, you could also just go and jump in the nearest river. While this item is indeed handy, it may just be another piece of “baggage” that’s rather unnecessary when camping. To each their own, however — you be the judge.

Solar Trees Offer Semi-Portable Solution For Energy Generation In Tight Spaces

ByGroovy Green Jun 6, 2009

I just came across this “Solar Tree” design from Gurdeep Sandhu and thought it to be a creative take on energy generation. As he explains,

With a little space in your backyard, installing this solar tree will not be a problem. During the day just wing-out the panels and let them absorb the glory of the sun; and in the evening fold them back. If you need to move house, just uproot it and take it along with you. Else if technology changes, you can even upgrade the panels for maximum benefit. Silent, efficient, cost effective are some of the virtues that sound music to my ears. What’s more you can either directly hook it up to appliance during the day or store the energy for later use. The sturdy metallic silver aluminum frame looks neat and tidy when packed up.

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Colorado Legalizes Rain Water Harvesting. Kind Of.

ByGroovy Green Jun 3, 2009

Back in June of last year, we dropped the story that harvesting rain water in Colorado was actually an illegal activity. We commented on just how dumb this law was — and over 100 comments later, many of you agreed. Almost a year later, the Colorado legislature has revised the draconian law to give some homeowners rights the water that falls from their roofs. But not everyone will be happy. From the article,

If you live in the city, don’t install a barrel under your gutter spout just yet. The legislation lets residents on wells collect rain and establishes 10 pilot projects for new developments. Residents on municipal water still can’t legally collect rain, and water suppliers are leery of legislation that would let them. “All the water was spoken for here in the Arkansas Basin 100 years ago or more,” said Kevin Lusk, water supply engineer for Colorado Springs Utilities. “If the water falls as rain, that’s water that was going to get to the stream system, and somebody already has dibs on it, and if somebody intercepts that, it’s the same as stealing.”

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Worm Bins: Three Effective Wiggly Composting Machines

ByGroovy Green Jun 2, 2009

I have a healthy appreciation for Worm Bins after managing to get through a winter with a DIY version in my basement. Those little red wigglers made fast work of my food scraps and were a nice alternative to trudging to the compost pile in the cold. Plus, the “instant compost” went right into the soil mix for my seedlings and proved a nice boost for spring planting. However, I know my system rather sucks — not enough aeration, poor drainage, and no easy way to access the all-valued “worm tea”. There are plenty of excellent instructions for making your own worm bin online (I took over my current bin from a friend) — but I thought it would worth it highlighting some of the brands out there for those that want to get started right away.

Can-O-Worms | Price: $129.00 (can probably find it cheaper)

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Global Warming Swimming Pool Delivers Clever Message

ByGroovy Green May 28, 2009

Back in November, British banking giant HSBC did a clever thing with a swimming pool: they took a picture of New York City from above and applied it to the bottom to make a point about climate change and rising sea levels. The effect is nothing short of amazing. My eyeballs are still having trouble not believing these people aren’t swimming a thousand feet above the NY skyline. Granted, sea levels would never rise that much — and the water probably wouldn’t be crystal clear (or toxin-free) — but, it still makes you think.

Global Warming Pool

gw swimming pool

Google Street View Camera Goes Low-Tech With Trike Version

ByGroovy Green May 21, 2009

Google’s Street View fleet has a new low-tech edition: the Google Trike. For those not familiar with the street capture technology, it’s a feature on Google Maps that allows you to view actual images of a street location — in 360 degrees. Beyond the fascinating technology that puts this all together — what’s even more impressive is the army of employees out there on the roads of America (and almost every other country) taking panoramic snapshots using the Google camera vehicles.

Of course, cars (thankfully) aren’t allowed to go everywhere. But that hasn’t stopped Google. The search engine giant has instead hacked a trike to carry the necessary equipment to get the digital deed done. From Autobloggreen,

The three-wheeled, human-powered overgrown tricycles carry 250 pounds of ballast in the form of “a mounted Street View camera and a specially decorated box containing image collecting gadgetry,” says the internet giant. All that extra heft reportedly requires a “specially trained super fit” rider. Google’s new trikes will be deployed first in Genoa, Italy, this spring. Assuming that launch proves successful, Google will send its pedal-powered cameras to the United Kingdom, where they’ll point their lenses towards a slew of famous British landmarks.

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Wind Turbines On High Voltage Power Line Towers Wins NextGen Contest

ByGroovy Green May 19, 2009

I’m sure many environmentalists have passed power line towers while cruising in vehicles and wondered aloud, “Why can’t we just throw some wind turbines up there?” In fact, earlier last year, Ericsson unveiled the first-ever cell phone tower with a vertical-axis wind turbine integrated. If we can do it in cell phone towers, why not transmission towers?

That’s the question two architects and an engineer from France used as the starting point for their “Wind-It” concept — a a design to place wind turbines inside existing high-voltage electricity pylons. They’re also the winners of the 2009 Metropolis Magazine Next Generation Prize Challenge: “FIX OUR ENERGY ADDICTION.” $10K was given to the team to take their idea to the next level. From the article,

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