Groovy Green

Boycott The 2008 Beijing Olympics

ByGroovy Green Mar 25, 2008

Later this year the 2008 Olympics will open in Beijing, China. When that happens, a country with both serious environment problems and a pattern of widespread social injustice will be given international attention. If the Chinese government has its way, that country will not be portrayed as a contaminated badland where political repression and established censorship smothers its citizens. It’ll be best faux foot forward as the world looks on, or perhaps better phrased, looks away as a deeply flawed nation tries to avoid criticism for its abominable record on the environment and human rights. The International Olympic Committee opposes a boycott as does the Bush Administration. And you can be sure that corporate sponsors of the Games will not advocate such a move unless more consumers, or ah citizens support a boycott. Until then they “are trying to appear sensitive while arguing that the Games should not be politicized. So much for corporate leadership. Again it looks like no real change will happen unless public sentiment develops in support of directly addressing the record of China and its policies of devastation during past decades.

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Harnessing The Power Of Luffas For Shade And Sponges

ByGroovy Green Mar 24, 2008

If you’re a regular reader, you no doubt know we here at Groovy have a fascination with the seemingly magical properties of the Luffa. Not only can it be harvested to create the sponge-like scrubber most people love in the tub, but it can also help shade your home and keep things cool in the heat of summer. Just ask John Lawvere — an entire side of his trailer in Arizona is shaded from the sun with several Luffa vines. Additionally, he makes some extra cash from his crop by selling the “sponges” for $5/each come harvest time. Says John,

“I teach Physics at a community college in Tucson, AZ. My remodeling/plumber friend helped me a lot at building supports for Luffa vines. We have an idea about building structures over parking lots (near apartment complexes and other businesses) to save those people money on air conditioning while producing a valuable crop.”

Not a bad idea, right? We applaud John and his amazing “Luffa Tunnel” — something he says “convinced my girlfriend’s mother (in Belarus) that I was a good man.” Ha, nice.

For our original classic, “How To Make (And Grow) A Luffa”, click here

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.

Tesla Gives Us A Magical Mystery Tour Of Lithium Battery Recycling

ByGroovy Green Mar 20, 2008

One of the largest misconceptions of electric cars is that the world will suddenly be inundated with toxic batteries that will seep into ground water, kill your dog, and practically ruin your marriage. Fortunately, battery recycling for green vehicles has been well planned out — even if there currently aren’t many electric-powered cars on the road to be concerned about. Showing us exactly what is possible, Kurt Kelty — an engineer that works for Tesla Motors — recently posted an interesting “Mythbusters” segment on battery recycling — what they’re made of and how they’re disposed of.

Some fascinating tid-bits: First, the Tesla Roadster’s battery pack or Energy Storage System (ESS) contains no heavy metals or toxic materials. By law, this means they could technically be disposed of in a landfill with no problems. However, their usefulness extends beyond pushing a car 0-60 in less than 4 seconds. Apparently, there are major differences in the demands on a battery for use in a high-performance sports car unlike, say, providing backup for a solar array. In fact, once the lithium packs are no longer performing well for the roadster, they may be recommissioned to be used as a power source for off-grid backup or load leveling.

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GE Announces Breakthrough For Low-Cost Organic LED Production

ByGroovy Green Mar 11, 2008

Energy for lighting is one of the main resource hogs around the world. Staring at an image of the earth at night, it doesn’t take much to see how dependent we are. The recent shift to the CFL bulb has helped ease the burden of paying for energy costs, but its role in the lighting world may only be a stepping stone to the next, great efficient successor: the LED.

LEDs (or Light-Emitting Diodes) will slowly become the lighting standard over the next decade. But light bulbs won’t be the only products to take advantage of their efficient properties. A variety called OLED (or Organic Light-Emitting Diode) are thin, organic materials sandwiched between two electrodes, which illuminate when an electrical charge is applied. This technology is behind all those cool flexible displays and electronic ink displays we’re always seeing. They’re so thin, that they could be applied to rooms as a type of wall paper to glow at the touch of a finger or when someone enters the room. Till now, the process of commercially manufacturing OLEDs has remained expensive. However, a recent breakthrough from GE hopes to lower the cost-barrier and show that OLED can be created “roll to roll”. From the article,

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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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A Treehouse For Adults That’s Also Yours To Rent

ByGroovy Green Feb 24, 2008

I’ve passed this treehouse before while stumbling online, but on my second time ’round I thought it was beautiful enough to pass a mention here on Groovy.

Located in wild, gorgeous British Columbia, this 15ft. tall platform home is built upon 7 trees. As one would expect, it also features some incredible design characteristics that look like something out of The Lord of the Rings; including carvings, 2 handmade spiral staircases, and rustic furniture. You’re even treated to a beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains from the living room. All this, and it’s only $150/night with access to over 320 acres of hiking, fishing, and lake activities.

Interested? Jump on over to enjoy life in the trees. Your inner-kid will thank you.

Cutting Down on Cooking Costs: Green SAHM’s Got Some Tips

ByGroovy Green Feb 13, 2008

Green SAHM is one of my favorite blogs in my RSS reader. Her latest post is on saving energy when cooking. Tips vary from keeping a lid on the pot on the stove, to analysis of energy costs of different cooking methods (microwave, electric oven, gas oven, slow cooker. Definitely worth a look!

From How to Use Less Energy While Cooking

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Bottled Water Becomes More Fabulous. And Dumb.

ByGroovy Green Feb 13, 2008

We all know how down-right silly bottled water is. In today’s day and age, with some of the best municipal water infrastructures ever created, we still feel the urge to purchase and lug around “purified” water sourced from a luxurious aquifer, taken to a warehouse, bottled, and shipped to your grocery store. Meanwhile, that water fountain to you right is somehow frowned upon.

Well, unfortunately, bottled water continues its evolution and manufacturers are coming up with more and more creative ways to make you “desire” the privilege to drink their products. Take for instance this latest “designer bottle” for Fine Japon. Here’s what they were looking for:

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The Dog-Powered Recumbent Trike Harnesses Man’s Best Friend

ByGroovy Green Feb 12, 2008

We’ve heard of dogs dragging humans through the wintry depth of the Alaskan wilderness, but this is the first engineered dog-powered trike I’ve ever laid eyes on. Inventor Mark Schuette expanded upon the idea of the dog-powered scooter (yes, it too exists) and used the “dog behind a steering wheel” configuration with ‘the added stability offered by a sit-down trike design and twice the steering power and braking power of the scooter.’ From the article,

The original scooter enables the human to ride standing up whilst the dog is harnessed into a frame and subject to steering and braking. As the scooter requires the rider to stand upright and balance it was not particularly appealing to some users (such as the elderly or physically handicapped). The new trike adopts a tadpole design (two wheels in front) and has a harness space for a dog on each side of the rear wheels. Schuette’s inventions are the first dog pulled devices to place the dog behind a steering wheel. This is designed to give the rider precision steering control of the dog making it easier and safer to ride in an urban environment.

It should be noted that while there are two spaces for more than one dog, it’s not absolutely necessary to employ 8 paws of power. Additionally, the human-powered pedal option means Fido and Spike won’t have to drag your ass around all by themselves. There’s also a fender kit included to protect the pooches from coming into contact with the rear spokes; or I imagine small rocks and such.

Leave This World In An Eco-Friendly Shell

ByGroovy Green Feb 12, 2008

Here’s an interesting concept from Lots Design called The Shell. Basically, it’s an eco-friendly urn created from bio-degradable pressed paper. Not only can loved-ones leave messages by writing on the outside, but there’s also a small pocket on top for personal notes and trinkets. Once placed into the ocean, the shell over time will waste away, leaving all but a memory. Plus, it looks likes the spacecraft from Flight of the Navigator. Bonus.

Green Ideas We’d Like To See: The Electric Super Tipper Truck

ByGroovy Green Feb 12, 2008

As a kid, no sandbox was complete without a fleet of Tonka dump trucks. Today’s kids have much cooler options; particularly if this design from Haishan Deng makes it from the drawing board and into the real world. It’s called the Super Tipper Truck and features independent suspension and electric motors in all four wheels. This allows for greater versatility in loading and unloading positions; as well as the ability drive down into pits and deliver cargo — something normal tipper trucks would have difficulty doing.

For more details, as well as a great in-depth interview with the designer, head on over to gizmag.

Mini Solar Cell Strap Is Kind Of Useful, Definitely Dorky

ByGroovy Green Feb 7, 2008

There are a myriad of solar cell phone chargers out there, but this is the first one I’ve found that actually encourages you to carry it around with you. I understand the frustration of a dead cell battery, but attaching something else to to your cell phone just seems cumbersome. Granted, you can charge this little device separately and then use it to power up, but eh. Looks like something that might catch on in Japan rather than the States. If this is your thing, it will be available February 9th.

Beijing’s Olympic Aquatic Centre Is A Green Wonder

ByGroovy Green Feb 6, 2008

Just in time for the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing, the official grand opening of the Olympic Aquatic Centre took place this past Monday in celebration of its unique architecture and eco-friendly characteristics.

The building, four years in the making, is nicknamed the “Water Cube” and is a rectangular-shaped steel design covered by a membrane of brightly lit blue bubbles. Not only are these stunning to look at, but they also serve an important purpose in reducing energy costs by 30%. The membrane is made out of a material called ETFE, (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene) which absorbs solar radiation and reduces thermal loss. Very similar, I suppose, to the way a solar cover works on a pool.

Not only is ETFE recyclable, but it’s also very strong; capable of bearing up to 400 times its own weight. Gizmag fills us in on additional details,

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New Eco-Friendly Washing Machine Takes Only 14 Minutes To Get The Job Done

ByGroovy Green Jan 30, 2008

Got 14 minutes? With this new eco-friendly washing machine from Beko, you’ll be throwing some clean clothes up on the line pretty quick. Its latest release is a tricked-out, energy efficient marvel with a 14-minute wash cycle. The benefits for those that are energy-conscious are evident, but the technology inside this thing also calculates the exact amount of water required according to the type and quantity of the laundry. For those suffering through some intense droughts, this might be a wonderful option for conservation.

Beko has already received an eco-award for its energy efficiency. The only thing one hopes is that the models will be carried beyond the UK. Current price is a reasonable £349.

Smaller, Smarter Inverters Equal Cheaper Solar, Greater Efficiency

ByGroovy Green Jan 30, 2008

One the largest hurdles to people and businesses embracing solar energy is the cost. The panels themselves make up a great deal of total expense, but there are also additional components to consider to get that energy working with your home. The most common accessory to any good solar installation is the inverter. This piece of equipment converts the solar panel’s DC energy to AC. A new firm called Enphase Energy hopes to remove this cost and produce micro-inverters; so small that each panel will receive their own. From the article,

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Green Roof Proposed For Stretch Of California Highway

ByGroovy Green Jan 25, 2008

This sounds like a wonderful idea — if anyone happens to have $200 million lying around.

A plan has been submitted to cover a stretch of California highway with a 24-acre park. It would be built on a deck constructed over the below-grade portion of the Hollywood Freeway (US-101). Organizers argue that by placing a “cap” over one of the world’s most congested freeway systems, the necessary ventilation system would clean the air before re-circulating it back into the environment — creating a positive improvement in air quality for LA. Additionally, the park would also provide a nexus between East Hollywood and Central Hollywood–”alleviating the strain on the community from the initial creation of the freeway through this section of Hollywood.” From the site,

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Flat-Pack Eco Speakers Made With 100% Recycled Materials

ByGroovy Green Jan 8, 2008

We’re not sure how great these speakers sound, but the environmental thought and design that went into them is certainly laudable.

They’re called Eco Speakers and are made from 100% recycled materials. They even fold flat — which is how they’re packaged. For $15, you can’t go terribly wrong — although since the company did not have any demo units out on the floor at CES, we might retract that statement.

Growing Power-An Urban Agriculture and Education Center

ByGroovy Green Nov 30, 2007

A few friends of mine from the fledgling Sustainability NPO we recently founded, Sustain Jefferson, spent a few incredible hours touring Growing Power this past Monday. Growing Power is a non-profit Urban Agriculture and Education facility in Milwaukee, WI that claims to grow enough food for 2000 people on 2 acres. With a claim like that I was drawn like a moth to flame. Their website offered some clues to their system-vermiculture, aquaculture, and several greenhouses. The actual tour filled in many of the details and inspired me in a way that I haven’t experienced since I was originally introduced to Permaculture and Bill Mollison several years ago.

What excited me most about Permaculture was the sheer common sense of it all. Taking wastes and turning them into resources is not something we typically think of today. Just as Forests have no waste products, Permaculture strives to promote such perfect systems in human endeavors whether it be designing a garden or linking businesses together via Natural Capitalism. Using the waste of built systems to add energy to another allows you to drastically reduce your time and energy taking care of problems and reap the benefits of one integrated system working in concert is something that continues to fascinate me Aquaponics, especially in the uber simple system that Will Allen of Growing Power sets up, fits the bill perfectly.

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Eco Sac: The Water Bladder For Your Home

ByGroovy Green Oct 23, 2007

If giant rain barrels aren’t aesthetically pleasing or you lack the room for installation, you may want to consider the Eco Sac; a flexible rainwater bladder storage system that hides away under decks or floors. Each sac is manufactured using “industrial strength fabric sealed by high frequency welding.”

According to the site, the eco sac is better than your average rain barrel because a.) it captures water faster than rigid tanks, b.) you can use multiple bladders which all fill at the same rate and at the same time c.) it is guaranteed not to leak and d.) it is algae resistant and the water stored is potable.

Pretty cool idea for those with limited space to capture rainfall. There are 54 different sizes to choose from, ranging from 2,200 liters to 8,600 liters. Apparently, you can join multiple sacs together to get up to 50,000 liters or more water storage.

Much like the portable grey water recycler we wrote about earlier this week, this product is currently only available in Australia. Something tells me however — with the water woes currently affecting parts of the U.S. — that we’ll be seeing more of these stateside shortly.

How-to Video on Natural Earth Plastering at Dancing Rabbit TV

ByGroovy Green Sep 29, 2007

I caught this video today over at Dancing Rabbit TV. It’s a great look at building your own earthen walls. Head on over for a look:


Part I

The Top 5 Nastiest Creatures Getting Stronger Due To Climate Change

ByGroovy Green Sep 29, 2007

When some people think of Global Warming, a vision of comfortable winters, more days at the beach, and less sweaters comes to mind. For those living away from coastal regions, the concerns of hurricanes or sea levels is non-existent. Out of sight, out of mind.

The realities are that climate change will affect each and every one of us. From the ways our communities rely on food produced in other states and nations; to the costs of energy and sourcing of water. But it gets worse. Much worse. We now present to you The Top 5 Nasty Creatures Getting Stronger Due To Climate Change. Some of them seem straight out of science fiction.

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The Goat Justice Leage – Fighting for Ruminate Rights!

ByGroovy Green Sep 29, 2007

In recent news from the Seattle Times:

Thanks to the work of the Goat Justice League, ruminants now have the right to life and limited liberty in Seattle.

On Monday, the City Council acknowledged the miniature goat’s attributes as human companion, weed whacker and milk maker, and unanimously voted that the goats could be kept as pets.

“One small step for man, one giant step for goatkind,” said Councilmember Richard Conlin, who sponsored the legislation.

As of late, goats have gained the environmental status of hybrid cars and bovine-growth-hormone-free milk, prized for their ability to mow lawns without using fossil fuels. University of Washington and Seattle City Light recently hired herds to clear slopes of blackberry brambles.

Monday’s vote marked yet another gain for miniature goats, which are about the size of a large dog. Also known as pygmy or dwarf goats, the animals weigh between 50 and 100 pounds and grow to about 2 feet tall. Owners keep them as pets and sources of milk.

I live in a city just outside of Seattle. Recently our fair city adopted Seattle’s domestic animal regulations. This was a big step for our city and the adoption allowed me to keep chickens. Hopefully this change in the regulations in Seattle will filter out into other cities.

My first thoughts of the Goat Justice League:

 

Is Iron Fertilization The Key To Preventing Global Warming?

ByGroovy Green Sep 28, 2007

Give me half a tanker of iron and I’ll give you the next ice age so said oceanographer John Martin in a famous speech to colleagues during the 80s. Martin was referring to the process of “iron fertilization”; which when applied to the oceans in slurry form promotes vast blooms of algae. The algae in turn consume carbon dioxide as they grow; thus removing more from the atmosphere and preventing climate change. Problem solved? From the article,

“‘There are many critical questions that require both better scientific understanding and an improved legal, economic, and political framework before iron fertilization can be considered either effective or appropriate,’ said Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist in WHOI’s Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry Department and a participant in two iron fertilization experiments at sea. ‘The time is right to bring scientists, policymakers, and commercial interests together to inform each other and the public.”‘

Though common on land, dissolved iron is rarely found in the oceans. This may be for a good reason as no one is exactly sure what massive blooms of algae would do to ecosystems. The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is holding a conference this week to determine the benefit of iron fertilization and if it may indeed prove to be a safe, cheap, counter-attack to climate change.

While it’s great to have these weapons in hand, the real silver bullet in preventing pollution and catastrophe is to address our own emissions and practices.

Titanic Being Recycled, Turned Into Watches

ByGroovy Green Sep 28, 2007

We’re all for reuse and recycle, but Romain Jerome’s Titanic DNA Watch is borderline macabre/bizarre. Granted, we really dig the design — but taking actual steel from the titanic and incorporating it into a watch? From the release,

“The watches will have black dial faces thanks to lacquer paint, the ingredients of which consist of coal from the Titanic, while pieces of steel from the vessel will also be used in their creation.

Yvan Arpa, Chief Executive of Romain Jerome, revealed that the number of watches made will be limited to 2,012, to coincide with the centenary anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, when it struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York on April 14th 1912.”

We’re pretty sure these things are not going to be cheap; but if you can’t afford the Heart of the Ocean, this might be your next best bet.

Wal-Mart to Sell Only Concentrated Laundry Detergent

ByGroovy Green Sep 28, 2007

It’s been a busy week for the happy smile, but Wal-Mart released a press release stating that they are going to start selling laundry detergent in concentrated amounts only.

From the article:

Wal-Mart expects to sell only concentrated detergent in all of its U.S.
stores by early May 2008 — more than 800 million units over the next three
years. The transition will occur in waves beginning in the Southern region
in October, extending to the North and Midwest by February and finishing in
East coast states in April 2008. (I assume this should be 2009 but it was like this in the article.)
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The Pentagon Is The Largest Consumer Of Oil In The World

ByGroovy Green Sep 27, 2007

Some interesting facts to pass along regarding the US Military and its consumption of oil. According to a Energy Bulleting report from earlier this year, the Pentagon is the world’s largest consumer of oil. In fact, there are only 35 countries (out of 210) in the world that consume more oil per day than the Pentagon. Here’s the breakdown:

>>Fiscal Year 2006 the Pentagon consumed 320,000 barrels per day of site delivered oil, compared to about 360,000 barrels per day in 2005. While consumption may have gone down, prices skyrocketed from $8.5 billion in ‘05 to $17 billion in ‘06.

>>These figures do not include oil for “fuel obtained at no cost overseas, fuel consumed by contractors, fuel consumed in some leased and privatized facilities, and not last but least oil consumed by certain leased and rented fleet vehicles.”
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I Ride My Bike

ByGroovy Green Sep 26, 2007

Enough with the gloom and doom over peak oil and climate change you say. You want an empowering story of change? Alright here’s an example of a personal adjustment I’ve made in my own life in an attempt to address both the above events because after all, the basic answer to both peak oil and climate change is roughly the same. Stop using fossil fuels; or at least cut way back on using them. But that’s so hard everyone says. It can’t be done. Nonsense. Or as Tom Athanasiou recently said, Change is necessary and because it is necessary it is possible.

I decided 2007 would be the year I got rid of my car. Not completely, but I’ve known for some time that driving a car keeps me dependent on the oil economy and pollutes this planet. I’ve known I needed to cut back on my automotive oil addiction. But it wasn’t until 2007 that I got serious about making change. Here are the numbers for the year so far.

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Grooming The (Gen Y) Consumer Generation

ByGroovy Green Sep 24, 2007

As I prepare to head back to school, I’ve been thinking about how interesting it will be to interact with the next generation of students. Many of them will have grown up with the ability to log on to the internet and gain instant information, the ability to contact friends and family at a moments notice, and an overall different perspective on life. Not that I am that much older that they will be, but 10+ years is difference enough to grow up with a completely different set of ideas, beliefs and interests.

I came across a blog post that gives me pause, however. I wonder how many of these students will have spent a lifetime being groomed to grow up and be consumers.

This past weekend I had the occasion to visit a dorm at George Washington University. I hadn’t been in a dorm in years and was shocked at how nice it was. Each room in this particular dorm had its own kitchenette and bathroom. Some rooms have their own washer and dryer. Apparently, this is the norm. When I was in college we were crammed into tiny rooms with no amenities and sharing a bathroom with 6 other girls was the norm. We shared the laundry room with the entire dorm.

Apparently, today’s college students have grown up with certain standards and aren’t going to lower them just because they are in college and away from the comforts of home. In fact, they expect those comforts to follow them there. When deciding where to go to college, dorms and dining halls play as much a part as do the classes and football team.

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The Venturi Astrolabe: A Street-Legal Formula One Solar Car

ByGroovy Green Sep 21, 2007

With a top speed over over 70mph and a range of almost an equivalent amount, the Veunturi solar car allows you to draw stares while commuting to work in Formula One style. 3.6 sqm of photovoltaic cells operating at 21% efficiency work to power what is considered the first ever commercial vehicle that’s capable of using absolutely no fossil resources. From the site,

“Capable of working with very little energy (16 kWc motor) and of recharging even when in motion, this vehicle of another era does not need to be permanently exposed to the sun in order to move. Its last-generation NiMH Venturi NIV-7 batteries ‘liquid cooled’ in fact enable it to restitute stored energy, whether solar or from the electricity supply, making it the first electro-solar hybrid vehicle. To attain this level of performance while using very little energy, Astrolab has been designed like a Formula 1 : its carbon monocoque chassis is ultra-light and serves as an oversized protection cell ensuring the safety of its occupants in the event of a collision. Its profile recalls the aqua-dynamic design of great racing yachts.”

Yum.

The PowerLeap: Harnessing Human Energy With Floor Tiles

ByGroovy Green Sep 20, 2007

Our friend Ruben Miller sent us an email on an alternative energy concept him and his wife submitted to the Metropolis’ Next Generation 2007 competition and we think it’s pretty cool. While the idea of harnessing human energy has been around for awhile, this one actually seems feasible. From the article,

“Imagine a nightclub where dancers generate the venue’s electricity just from the impact of their steps. With Redmond’s innovative flooring system, this vision of a human-powered energy source may be close to a reality. The floor tiles, cast in durable concrete and recycled glass, are fitted with piezoelectric brass-reinforced ceramic plates covered in nickel electrodes. With the impact of each footstep, a metal pointer inside the tile compresses the ceramic plate, generating an electric impulse. The resulting voltage activates four LED lights, visible through the glass surface, allowing energy-generating participants to see the power of their steps.”

This type of technology is intended for high-traffic areas; sidewalks, playgrounds, school hallways, etc. Obviously, you could do away with the LED lights and incorporate the idea into flooring that makes the whole thing less obvious. We love the concept, however, and hope Elizabeth and Ruben keep pushing to make it a reality.

The 4 Day Work Week

ByGroovy Green Sep 20, 2007

The notion of our standard work week here in America has remained largely the same since 1938. That was the year the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed, standardizing the eight hour work day and the 40 hour work week. Each Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday workers all over the country wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast and go to work. But the notion that the majority of the workforce should keep these hours is based on nothing more than an idea put forth but the Federal government almost 70 years ago. To be sure it was an improvement in the lives of many Americans who were at the time forced to work 10+ hours a day, sometimes 6 days of the week. So a 40 hour work week was seen as an upgrade in the lives of many of U.S. citizens. 8 is a nice round number; one third of each 24 hour day. In theory it leaves 8 hours for sleep and 8 hours for other activities like eating, bathing, raising children and enjoying life. But the notion that we should work for 5 of these days in a row before taking 2 for ourselves is, as best I can tell, rather arbitrary.

The idea of a shorter work week is not a new one to anyone old enough to have lived through the energy shocks of the 1970’s. It should be fairly obvious to anyone interested in conserving oil that reducing the number of daily commutes per week would reduce the overall demand for oil. There are about 133 million workers in America. Around 80% of them get to work by driving alone in a car. The average commute covers about 16 miles each way. So let’s stop and do some math:

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The Not-So-Green Picture: First Air Conditioned Bus Station

ByGroovy Green Sep 17, 2007

First Air Conditioned Bus StationDubai is boasting of their latest creation: the first air-conditioned bus station in the world; ironically located next to some recycle bins in this photo. Instead of employing some green building techniques to reduce the heat, the affluent country opted instead to build an energy-hungry haven instead. Not only that, but more than 800 of them are planned in the coming years.

UPDATED: Making Homemade Laundry Soap

ByGroovy Green Sep 14, 2007

Last night after cooking supper I decided to cook up a batch of laundry soap. A friend had sent me the recipe for homemade laundry soap a while back and I’ve been anxious to try it since. I followed the recipe shown here (if you check the comments there is even one for a dry laundry soap.)

eco friendly soapFirst things first, I got some water boiling and started to carve up the bar of soap. We used Caress, which I don’t recommend, the smell was overpowering. And it reminded me of my grandmother too much. If you purchased a bar of eco friendly soap you’d be in even better shape. Or a local bar of soap would be good too.

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Solar (Assisted) Electric Boat Navigates the Erie Canal

ByGroovy Green Sep 13, 2007

This news story caught my eye during the busy month of August. While electric cars have been the talk of the green blogosphere over the last year, this is the first instance I’ve heard of electric boating.On August 12, the Tamarack Lake Boating company launched “The Loon” a pontoon boat with 738 watts of solar panels mounted on its cover, and a 30 mile range on its 48 Volt deep-cycle battery array. (Syracuse.com)

With the flick of a switch, Canadian boat builder Monte Gisborne turned on his solar-powered pontoon boat, The Loon, and quietly slipped out of Oswego Harbor.

“It’s beautiful. It’s my first time on this canal and it’s beautiful,” Gisborne said as The Loon approached the Minetto Bridge. “The sky is clear, there’s a nice breeze blowing and people along the shoreline are waving I couldn’t be happier.”

The 12-day journey will take the Gisbornes – Monte is accompanied by his wife, Denise,
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Green Ideas We’d Like To See: The Bike-Shopping Cart

ByGroovy Green Sep 5, 2007

I had a great idea forwarded to me by RubenMiller through StumbleUpon. Basically, it’s a shopping cart bike that adds to the already growing list of ways you can go bagless at the supermarket. In his own words,

“Here’s a scenario: Imagine riding up to the grocery with a shopping cart bike. You park your bike at a rack and unlatch the cart to wheel into the store. Without using any bags, you can pay, put the groceries back in your cart, hitch up to your bike and ride off!

Some years back, IDEO worked on a concept for a smart shopping cart. I wasn’t sure how practical it would really be. Somehow, I think this simpler variation is much more likely to make it past prototype phase and into real stores.

You might argue that multi-level dwellers couldn’t manage without bags, but for those who don’t have an elevator, a removable insert/basket could be built into the design.”

It’s a cool idea — perhaps not practical for all and a little unwieldy — but an interesting integration beyond the traditional bike basket. What do you think?

Excess Nightime Grid Energy Could Power More Than 70% Of Electric Vehicles

ByGroovy Green Sep 3, 2007

According to a recent U.S. Department of Energy study, there is so much excess energy on the U.S. grid nightly that if every light-duty car and truck in America today used plug-in hybrid technology, 73 percent of them could be plugged in and “fueled” without constructing a single new power plant. So much for the myth that electric vehicles will cause more emissions.

The Portland Press has a great article on the potential benefits of harnessing this excess energy and making the switch to plug-in vehicles. Apparently, each night there is a large amount of renewable power generation capacity that sits idle. Tapping into this source by plugging in our vehicles at night would harness a vastly unused portion of the U.S. grid. From the article,

“Studies have shown that plug-in hybrids produce at least 67 percent fewer harmful emissions than a standard gasoline-powered car. Even when accounting for emissions from the production of electricity, national studies have shown greenhouse gas production would fall by almost 40 percent if plug-in hybrids became commonplace. Plug-in hybrids could easily be expected to get over 100 miles per gallon of gasoline, and owners would do most of their refueling at home where the equivalent cost of electricity is about $1 per gallon.”

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300 Organic Gardening Tips

ByGroovy Green Aug 28, 2007

If you are just getting started with organic gardening perhaps you should look over these tips to help you get started.

Some of my favorites include:

Mulch your flower beds and trees with 3″ of organic material – it conserves water, adds humus and nutrients, and discourages weeds. It gives your beds a nice, finished appearance. (mulching is sooo important)

Think “biodiversity”. Using many different kinds of plants encourage many different kinds of beneficial insects to take up residence in your yard.

To deter deer from grazing in your landscape, try placing strongly scented bar soap, or human hair, around your plants. The hair can be “recycled” from a salon or barber shop. (this doesn’t work for Iowa deer, but maybe others)

Preparing Australian Agriculture for Rising Energy Costs and Water Insecurity

ByGroovy Green Aug 24, 2007

Don’t let the common first name confuse you. The following is a guest post by Aaron Edmonds. Aaron was a 2002 Australian Nuffield Scholar and researched how broadacre agriculture was going to need to adapt to manage the follow through effects of the Peak Oil crisis. Ironically this Scholarship was initially established by the philanthropist Lord William Nuffield, the inventor of the Morris Minor car, where after the Second World War he saw food supplies dwindle to dangerously low levels in the UK. Aaron farms 2000 hectares in the Central Wheatbelt of Western Australia with his family and is pioneering the development and adoption of low input broadacre agriculture. Many thanks to Aaron for permission to republish this essay.

Preparing Australian Agriculture for Rising Energy Costs and Water Insecurity

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A ‘Planet Earth’ Contest!

ByGroovy Green Aug 22, 2007

If you haven’t seen the recently released BBC production of Planet Earth: The Complete Series. You don’t know what you’re missing. This series is an exquisite look at life on Earth in all its spectacular variety and breathtaking wonder.

Whether you watch it simply for the fantastic images masterfully caught on film or use this documentary as a way to educate and inform you and your family about life on Earth, the Planet Earth series is a fantastic portrayal of this wonderful world of nature of which we are all a part. I can’t recommend it more highly. And… we’re giving away five copies.

You can read my entire review of the series here or you can just skip below to our contest.

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Your Green Hideout: Five Crazy Cool Eco Spaces For The Ultimate Retreat

ByGroovy Green Aug 20, 2007

When I was younger, I wanted one day to have a Bat Cave just like Bruce Wayne. Then, Batman Begins came out a few years ago and I wanted a cave to call my own all over again. There are some obvious problems with finding such a perfect geological feature to compliment any home — so I’ve lately downgraded my dreams to building the perfect eco hideout instead; the type of place I can wander through backyard woods or across a field in the middle of nowhere to get to. The type of place where you can hunker down for a few weeks at a time and not worry about looking like Tom Hanks halfway through Castaway. Modern, earth-friendly, and cozy — with all the high-tech renewable energy systems and gizmos I can cram into it. Think Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond but with an Xbox360, skylights, and solar panels.

Below are four “Eco Spaces” that are unique and perfectly designed to give you the privacy you need without losing any of the comforts. Some are easier — and less expensive — than others, but the end results for all are striking.

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Solar Powered Wireless Means Backcountry Internet For Eco Geeks.

ByGroovy Green Aug 20, 2007

So you’ve got the backwoods hobbit house, the flexible solar panel for charging your laptop, and a wind-powered chimney for everything else. Problem is, you’re three acres away from the nearest wireless signal and you’d love to actually get some work done. Up until now, there weren’t many options — besides some homebrew kits — for making it all come together. Thankfully, a company called Meraki has introduced a $549 router/repeater kit powered by solar and capable of forming a WiFi mesh network with other units. Not only does this thing stand up to rain, snow, sleet, wind, hail, and direct sunlight, but it also optionally allows you to charge for people to access your network — including the ability to run ads and other clever marketing.

Right now San Francisco is currently the test market for these solar WiFi networks. Backed by Google, Meraki is making some serious waves in distributing wireless to the world. This innovation will be especially useful for setting up networks in developing countries a good distance away from electricity or network access. The solar kit will be available sometime in late 2007. Stay tuned.

Resomation: Your New High-Tech Option For Eco-Friendly Burial

ByGroovy Green Aug 19, 2007

ecoburialI have a fascination with eco-friendly burial here on Groovy. Mainly because I’ve learned too much about the ‘traditional, modern’ methods and I’ve been scared shitless about what might be done to my body after I’ve passed. Seriously, if you take a look at some of our articles on the topic, you’ll agree that worms are a pleasant alternative to embalming.

One of the alternatives that’s championed and has grown in use here in the States is the use of cremation. Interestingly, of all the methods beyond conventional burial, this one is the least earth-friendly. First off, cremation uses an immense amount of energy to reduce your body to ash. Additionally, a great deal of mercury is released into the air from the process, mainly because of tooth fillings. In the UK alone, it is estimated that crematories contribute almost 16% of annual mercury emissions.

So, what to do if you still want to speed the decay process along and become ashes to ashes before your friends at the local cemetery (who, will actually become soup)? A new technology called Resomation aims to produce the same result — but with water instead of flame.

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Introducing The Wind-Powered Cell Phone Charger. Yup.

ByGroovy Green Aug 17, 2007

Looking for a portable charger? The world of renewable energy has lately been flooded with gadgets of all kinds featuring solar panels and hand cranks offering you endless opportunities to stick it to the man and get your juice for free. Up until now, wind energy has been left out in the breeze. No longer.

Orange, the U.K.-based telecommunications firm, has announced plans to launch The Orange Mobile Wind Charger, a mini turbine that “latches on to the top of a tent and stores power in a separate “control box” that users can plug into when their mobiles need juice.”

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Adventures In Sustainability: Grow My Little Jatropha, Grow

ByGroovy Green Aug 14, 2007

Well, it’s been over two months since I started my little Jatropha experiment and I thought I would chime in on how things are coming. First of all, Jatropha is incredibly easy to grow. I had a delay of about three weeks with my initial seeds since most of it was “old” Jat seed according to some growers and stymied my efforts. In desperation to up the odds, I planted about 20 seeds into one container and was finally rewarded with about six plants. After a few weeks, I transferred two of the strongest plants to a larger container and they’ve taken off in their new home. Surprisingly, the other four plants are doing fine (albeit with not as dramatic growth) and continue to increase in foliage.

Jatropha PlantSince I’ve had some time to spend growing this plant, I’ve also discovered some interesting facts. For instance, this is a deciduous tree. I’ve always heard it referred to as a ‘weed’ but this may be because it has an easy time adapting to poor soil conditions, droughts, and can survive almost anywhere it stay relatively above 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, Jatropha can grow 8-10 meters tall under the right conditions. Once it drops its leaves and flowers, the seeds will follow shortly afterwards and then mature three months later. It’s at this point that we can attempt some biofuel extraction.

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$30,000 Electric Car By 2009. And It’s Not The Volt

ByGroovy Green Aug 12, 2007

The electric car market is going to heat up in the next couple years. Which is a good thing — because I’m sick and tired of oil changes and all the other crap currently plaguing my combustible engine. I’m not under the illusion that I’ll have no issues with an electric vehicle (especially during NY winters), but I have more confidence that I’ll feel a lot less dependent on fuel and seriously giddy every time I drive by a gas station. But I digress…

News today from CNN Money of an electric car that goes 80mph, travels 120 miles at 60mph, and costs $30,000. It’s called the XS 500 from Miles Automotive and while that number may not be financially practical for most people, it represents a true price shift from current available models. How is it possible to market such a vehicle so soon? Two words: Cheap Labor. From the article,

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Growing Our Own And More On The Bullseye Diet

ByGroovy Green Aug 9, 2007

The Bullseye DietIt was mainly Peak Oil that drove me out into my garden with a new mission; no longer just to grow a few tomatoes for fun each summer, but in an effort to grow the majority of the food my family eats. I set out a goal of producing more calories than I consume on my own property and within 5 years. I called my project ‘Growing My Own’. But there were others factors tugging at me, entreating me to take personal responsibility for the needs of my diet.

And I can see now that there are lots of other people becoming interested in local food and they’re doing so for a variety of reasons. Some of them want to avoid the potential health threats increasingly associated with industrial agriculture. You can get your daily update of just what food has been recently recalled as a health hazard by visiting this handy website the U.S. FDA recall website. The fact that such a site exists is a telltale sign of our increasingly dysfunctional relationship with what we eat. To be sure there have always been local incidents of accidental food poisonings and the like, but now that our system of growing and distributing food is so centralized, the risk of mass contamination from food borne illness is much higher. My favorite example is the recent Castleberry’s Chili recall in which cans were literally bursting with botulism. In the face of all the human health problems swirling around the anonymous origins of industrial food, many people are now opting to get their food from known local sources.

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Kate Bosworth Litters at Global Cool

ByGroovy Green Aug 8, 2007

I can’t believe we are following up a happy green post on Orlando & Kate promoting the environment with this.

Says the Mirror:

Bloom was furious when Kate – who plays Lois Lane in Superman Returns – dropped some litter and a cigarette butt at a green charity’s rock festival in Japan. The Pirates Of The Caribbean star was embarrassed because he was there to make a speech…

Our source revealed: “Japan’s very clean and everybody carries around disposable ash trays to stub out their cigarettes.”

“Orlando had a massive go at her. He said they were meant to be there to promote the environment and she was chucking litter around. There was a lot offing and blinding. Kate kept saying ‘nobody saw, I don’t know what your problem is’.”

Orlando, 29, had planned to be at the festival for two days. But they cut short the trip and flew to Tokyo where Kate, 23, was plugging Superman.

We hope the lovebirds don’t let a bit of litter come between them…

As for these “ashtrays to go” that were mentioned? The pouch says: ”The earth is not your ashtray.”  Well, actually, it says, “The earth is ont your ashtray,” but we get the picture.

We need this to become popular in the US. Maybe then we’ll stop catching these “green” celebrities, RED-handed.

Iowa State Fair Builds Wind Turbine To Power Rides, Grounds

ByGroovy Green Aug 4, 2007

You know the fair is coming to town when flatbed trucks loaded with rides guaranteed to make you sick start appearing. This year in Iowa, another thing that spins is making an appearance — the creation of a 133ft. tall wind turbine for the Iowa State Fair.

Built by MidAmerican Energy Co. as part of its Renewable Advantage Program, the turbine will power all the rides and grounds for the extent of the fair. According to installers, the entire site could be taken off-grid as a result. We’re guessing this is a 1.65MW variety turbine. From the article,

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Electric drag racer

ByGroovy Green Aug 3, 2007

I don’t care who you are, this right here is pretty darn cool. What an interesting way to reuse an old car and make a nice commuter vehicle, although it appear he may have gone overboard!

When the starting light flashed, the Datsun, known as White Zombie, shot silently past the Corvette and kept widening the lead as the two cars faded into the distance. “Oh man, right off the [starting] line he had me,” said the Corvette’s owner, Robert Akers, shaking his head.

Piping in your world

ByGroovy Green Jul 26, 2007

TV Graph

American’s average 8 hours a day of TV time per household. A DAY!!

Folks, it’s time to get outside. Turn it off and go for a walk. Play with the dog. Play with the kids. Start a garden. Have a catch. Whatever, just go enjoy your world.

I don’t think when you are 80 and looking back on your life you’ll wish you had spent more time watching TV.

New Study Says Wind A Cheaper, Efficient Alternative To Nuclear

ByGroovy Green Jul 12, 2007

A report commissioned in the Netherlands and leaked to a Dutch newspaper confirms that wind power will quickly replace nuclear energy as the fossil fuel alternative of choice. The researchers concluded that not only will technological advances in the coming years make wind financially competitive but also security costs tied to nuclear energy will further add to the value. From the article,

“According to the report by the Energy Research Centre (ECN), the cost price of electricity production – around 6.6 euro-cents per kilowatt hour – is already comparable.

However nuclear power is more expensive if the additional costs of security against terrorist attacks is taken into account. Meanwhile technological advancement will make wind power increasingly cheaper in the coming years.

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Eco-Libris: Offset Your Book With A Tree

ByGroovy Green Jul 11, 2007

Offsets are all the rage currently, but trying to figure out exactly where your cash is going can be a difficult exercise. Something I consistently stress is that offsets should be a last-resort solution — with tangible green acts coming first that show immediate benefits. With the launch of Eco-Libris, however, I’m excited to see a direct relationship between the act of offsetting and the planting of trees in developed countries. Additionally, the site has teamed up with some incredible reputable organizations like Sustainable Harvest International, RIPPLE Africa, The Alliance for International Reforestation.

How does it work? From the site,

About 20 Million trees are cut down annually for virgin paper used for the production of books sold in the U.S. alone. That’s definitely a problem – trees are one of the most valuable natural resources we have. They literally form the foundations of many natural systems and provide us with numerous benefits (carbon dioxide absorption, soil and water conservation, avalanche control, desertification prevention to name a few).

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Don’t Buy Water From Fiji

ByGroovy Green Jul 7, 2007

If you’re looking for another way to lessen your impact on the environment might I recommend not buying bottled water; especially bottled water from Fiji.

From Boing Boing

The label on a bottle of Fiji Water says “from the islands of Fiji.” Journey to the source of that water, and you realize just how extraordinary that promise is. From New York, for instance, it is an 18-hour plane ride west and south (via Los Angeles) almost to Australia, and then a four-hour drive along Fiji’s two-lane King’s Highway.

I’ve got to say this one goes in the common sense category. First of all think about how much pollution a trip like that takes. Secondly, who pays $3.00 for a liter and a half of drinking water? Lastly how many Americans don’t have running water and drinking glasses in their homes and offices? Don’t like the taste or purity of what’s coming out of your tap?Buy a filter. Don’t be a sucker and fall for yet another of corporate America’s clever pieces of propaganda.

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Attention Coffee Shops: The Biodegradable Hot Beverage Cup Is Here

ByGroovy Green Jul 1, 2007

No more excuses. No more waiting. No more waste. For the longest time, coffee shops across America have sidestepped the “recycle your cup” issue because there have been no eco-friendly alternatives. In conventional hot water cups, the inner surface is lined with a petroleum-based plastic (polyethylene) to prevent leaking. This process alone prevents the cups from being recycled or composted. Here’s an interesting little fact,

“In 2005, Americans used and discarded 14.4 billion disposable paper cups for hot beverages. If put end-to-end, those cups would circle the earth 55 times. Based on anticipated growth of specialty coffees, that number will grow to 23 billion by 2010—enough to circle the globe 88 times. Based on hot cup usage in 2005, the petrochemicals used in the manufacture of those cups could have heated 8,300 homes for one year.” Damn.

So, for the longest time, we’ve been waiting for someone to solve this egregious situation. Thankfully, the answer has come from International Paper and Green Mountain Coffee. Their 100% biodegradable hot beverage cup has just won the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s 2007 Sustainability Award. The “Ecotainer™ cup” has a liner made from corn instead of petrochemicals. In a blind trial test of more than 5 million cups, not one customer noticed anything “different” about the corn-based cups from the regular variety.

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Planet Earth: The Complete Series

ByGroovy Green Jun 28, 2007

It is hard to adequately express my admiration of the recently released BBC production of Planet Earth: The Complete Series. This 11 part mini-series originally aired on the Discovery Channel here in the United States and is now packaged in its entirety as a five disk set. 25 million dollars in the making, this series is an exquisite look at life on Earth in all its spectacular variety and breathtaking wonder. You might think I’m just slinging around adjectives at this point, but let me assure you that there aren’t any adjectives that on their own do justice to this seminal piece of nature documentary.

Narrated by David Attenborough, the man behind that smooth British voice we’ve all come to associate with great nature programming, the DVD compilation of this series also contains 90 minutes of additional footage and bonus coverage with explanations of just how these spectacular scenes were filmed. The time and effort put forth to bring these images to life is in its own right amazing. And the combination of strategies involving time lapse photography, space cams, super slow motion video, helicopters, submersibles, hot air balloons, remote cameras and more, is rewardingly comprehensive in its ability to paint a grand picture of what life is like in many of the most beautiful, most remote, and most magnificent regions of our planet.

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71% Think Global Warming Has Nothing to do With Man’s Actions

ByGroovy Green Jun 26, 2007

And they aren’t blaming women either. Pocket Issue and AOL have issued a press release that shows the results of 4000 people polled with almost 3 out of 4 believing that human actions aren’t causing global warming, with 65% going further to agree with the notion that scientific findings on this issue are “far fetched.” What strikes me as odd is how people all over the radio are claiming this as proof that global warming just isn’t our fault. “If that many people believe it isn’t true, then it must not be true,” goes the logic in resposne to a statement by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that says global warming is,

very likely due to the observed increase of anthropogenic [man-made] greenhouse gas concentrations.

Very likely, they later clarify means 90% sure. But this recent poll doesn’t surprise me. Least I forget,

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Don’t Mess With Texas On Wind Power?

ByGroovy Green Jun 18, 2007

The last place you would expect the world’s largest wind farm to reside would be the state of Texas. The Lonestar State has for many decades been a poster child for the oil industry. A wealthy oilman and investor by the name of Boone Pickens is turning a greener shade and hoping to cash in on the burgeoning U.S. renewable energy industry. From the article,

“Pickens’ proposed new energy gamble is important to Texas because it could put the state another significant step toward reducing its heavy reliance on fossil fuels for electricity generation. It also could help solidify Texas’ No. 1 ranking among the 50 states in wind power generation capacity.

Never accused of thinking small, Pickens could put as many as 2,000 wind turbines on nearly 200,000 acres in thinly populated Gray, Roberts, Hemphill and Wheeler counties. He’s talking about generating 2,000 to 4,000 megawatt, roughly the equivalent of one or two Comanche Peak nuclear power plants and enough juice to power several hundred thousand homes.”

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Future Tech: Giant Carbon Sucking Trees Might Save The World

ByGroovy Green Jun 15, 2007

Standing more than 300 feet tall and 200 feet wide, the potential savior of climate change disaster looks more like a massive fly swatter than a high-tech carbon sequester. Designed by Klaus Lackner, a professor of Geophysics at Columbia University, this “synthetic tree” is designed to capture and store massive amounts of CO2 gas. Nearly 90,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year — roughly the amount emitted annually by 15,000 cars — could be captured by the structure. According to the July issue of Outside Magazine, “the 100-by-200-foot steel rectangles would have surfaces that soak up carbon dioxide — simulating photosynthesis — then exhale the C02 in a concentrated stream that would be stored in underground chambers.”

Pretty interesting idea — but if the structures run off fossil fuels, rather than renewable sources, they might end up having a limited impact. Still, if we follow predictions that the world only has a decade or so before climate change becomes unavoidable, than any idea should be followed through; no matter how bizarre. From a recent MSNBC article,

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“Powered By 100% Vegetable Oil” Bumper Sticker Triggers $1K Fine!

ByGroovy Green Jun 12, 2007

Today’s world of “choice” for what you can use to power your vehicle may in fact cost you lots of money. As one man found out in Charlotte, NC simply promoting your independence from oil can cost you thousands of dollars. From the article,

“Bob Teixeira decided it was time to take a stand against U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

So last fall the Charlotte musician and guitar instructor spent $1,200 to convert his 1981 diesel Mercedes to run on vegetable oil. He bought soybean oil in 5-gallon jugs at Costco, spending about 30 percent more than diesel would cost. His reward, from a state that heavily promotes alternative fuels: a $1,000 fine last month for not paying motor fuel taxes.

He’s been told to expect another $1,000 fine from the federal government. And to legally use veggie oil, state officials told him, he would have to first post a $2,500 bond.”

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My Starbucks Doesn’t Recycle. Does Yours?

ByGroovy Green Jun 4, 2007

Yes, I enjoy Starbucks Coffee. Let’s just get that out of the way. I actually prefer a local joint called Gimmie! Coffee over them, but Gimmie! is a little out of the way for convenience sake so the ‘bucks works for me from time to time.

It doesn’t mean, of course, that I lower my green standards. I scrutinize just as much as any other joint here in Ithaca. Starbucks has been stepping up their efforts to become “more green” with various efforts over the past year. Recycled paper sleeves, pastry bags, green initiatives with Global Green USA, etc. So, they’ve got that going for them.

However, I noticed something strange today for the first time. My Starbucks does not recycle. When asked were the bin was located, the woman behind the counter said that just have regular garbage cans. Great.

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Tesla Motors Takes Aim At Hotel Chains For Commercial Charging Stations

ByGroovy Green May 30, 2007

The electric car renaissance is barely spreading ink on the canvas and already plans are in motion to have a viable charging infrastructure in place. Earlier this week, Tesla Motors — the crew behind the highly anticipated 2008 Tesla Roadster — received a grant from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to develop a 16KW station that could be installed at hotel chains across the state. While the stations would be commercially based, we have no idea if they might also be autonomous through solar power; much like the stations Vectrix is planning on introducing in Europe.

Tesla also recently announced plans to form a new division that will sell batteries to other car manufacturers.

“The electric-car startup said it will initially provide advanced lithium-ion battery packs from the new Tesla Energy Group to Think, a Norwegian maker of electric cars. The deal is expected to bring Tesla $43 million over the next two years. The new division will also develop and make battery packs for Tesla’s two-seat roadster that is set to go into production this fall, and for a four-door sedan set to debut later this decade.”

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Adventures In Sustainability: Growing My Own Biofuel With Jatropha

ByGroovy Green May 21, 2007

I just received a package from India. Yes, I know it was a terribly long distance to order something for a green living site; but my buying options were extremely limited in the U.S. So, turning to Ebay, I managed to find what I was looking for fairly quickly. And now, after traveling thousands of miles, I have my first jatropha seeds.

What’s jatropha? It’s a small shrub that is being planted by the millions throughout China, India, and Brazil as an alternative to oil. What makes it unique in the biofuel industry is its ability to produce a great deal of oil that needs very little refinement. A one-metre hedge will produce one kilogram of seeds with each seed containing about 1/3 of oil. 5 kilograms of seeds will give you roughly one litre. It yields more than four times as much fuel per hectare as soybean, and more than ten times that of corn. It’s extremely easy to grow, lives up to 50 years and produces seeds for its whole lifetime. Furthermore, the species is drought-resistant, can be grown at high altitudes and can withstand slight frosts. In the right conditions, each plant can grow eight or ten meters in height!

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Surprise! Organic Beekeepers Reporting Zero Losses

ByGroovy Green May 11, 2007

With all the frightening news over bee losses throughout the world, it appears that one tiny minor piece of information was overlooked: the losses are occurring in colonies besieged with chemicals and artificial additives. Organic bees are fairing quite nicely, thank you. From the article,

“‘I’m on an organic beekeeping list of about 1,000 people, mostly Americans, and no one in the organic beekeeping world, including commercial beekeepers, is reporting colony collapse on this list,’ said Sharon Labchuck. ‘The problem with the big commercial guys is that they put pesticides in their hives to fumigate for varroa mites, and they feed antibiotics to the bees. They also haul the hives by truck all over the place to make more money with pollination services, which stresses the colonies.’”

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Vectric Shareholder Report Shows Promise For Electric Super Bikes

ByGroovy Green May 2, 2007

The Vectrix shareholder report for April 2007 just dropped into my lap. Besides some beautiful eye candy, the document lays out some important milestones reached by the company; as well as future developments underway for the vehicle line. Here are some of the highlights:

>>Financially, Vectrix has firmed things up by appointing HSBC to undertake a strategic review which could lead to a flotation. Such a move could would see the company valued at up to 200m. Yee Haw. Additionally, the big V might put itself up for sale to attract a larger company or interested private party. We’ll keep our ears open on this one.

>>Besides its launch in the EU late last Fall, Vectrix now poised to push the new all-electric bikes in the UK (indeed, they launched yesterday) and in the U.S. by the end of June. Over 2,100 customer reservations in the U.S. alone are waiting to be fulfilled. The first 700 scooters allocated for the American market will see a roll out in major U.S. cities so as to increase visibility of the product. Look for the bikes in Seattle, Austin, Portland, San Francisco, Newport, and other locales. By the end of 2007, there will be up to 50 official Vectrix dealers in 8 countries (Italy, Spain, England, Portugal, Switzerland, Greece, Australia, and USA). Plans are already underway to expand distribution to Japan, France, Germany, and Israel.
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Only In The Pet Food? Hogwash!

ByGroovy Green Apr 25, 2007

Do you think the chemical that has been killing animals all over the country hasn’t made it into the human food stream as claimed by the government and food corporations? Do you want to bet on that?

Salvaged pet food contaminated with an industrial chemical was sent to hog farms in as many as six states, federal health officials said Tuesday. It was not immediately clear if any hogs that ate the tainted feed then entered the food supply for humans.

Hogs at a farm in California ate the contaminated products, according to the Food Safety and Inspection Service. Officials were trying to determine whether hogs in New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Ohio also may have eaten the tainted food, the FSIS said. Hogs at some of the farms — it wasn’t immediately clear which — have been quarantined. link

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The Smart Jitney: Rapid, Realistic Transport

ByGroovy Green Apr 19, 2007

Smart JitneyCommunity Solutions recently issued a report about modifications necessary to our transportation infrastructure in a future world where we experience declining oil supplies. (Community Solutions, if you aren’t familiar with them, is the group that created the documentary “The Power of Community: How Cuba survived Peak Oil”) They are proposing a system they are calling the Smart Jitney, which is essentially a souped up ride share program designed to reduce the amount of cars on our roads. And I have to say, I like it. I like it a lot.

I recently read through a report by Alliance Bernstein about the future of automobiles where they placed all the marbles for our future transportation needs in the plugged in hybrid basket. Essentially making quite a few difficult, and risky, assumptions that we will be able to sequester power plant emissions (unproven), generate clean energy for our homes and cars (not at the levels we are generating now), and create a new infrastructure built around a totally new type of car (to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars). In short, they are making some huge leaps there to support their given choice for transportation.

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How To Grow Shitake Mushrooms

ByGroovy Green Apr 17, 2007

Anyone who’s been to a gardening class or a permaculture class about how to produce more food from home has heard the question, “What can I grow in the shade?” Shaded areas, especially deeply shaded areas of the yard, are not especially conducive to growing fruits and vegetables. Those plants like sunlight. So what is a Victory Gardener to do? One answer is mushrooms.

At this point I’d like to share my status as a novice concerning mushroom cultivation. This is my first attempt at growing fungi for personal consumption so feel free to learn with me but please don’t label me an expert. I’m just figuring this out as I go and sharing the experience. I’m following the directions of the Mushroom People of Summertown, TN. I’m going to grow Shitakes and you’re welcome to follow along.

After receive my inoculation plugs in the mail, my brother and I thinned several trees from a family member’s property.

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Summer Groove: Solar Pool Fence and Solar Garden Shower

ByGroovy Green Apr 16, 2007

Even though it’s April 16th and there’s 16 inches of snow on the ground here in Ithaca, NY, I’d like to think that I might have a use for these innovative products sometime soon. That is, if I can even get my hands on them.

First up is a “Professional Solar Garden Shower System” called the Solar Fizz. This portable showering unit uses reflector tubes to capture solar energy and heat water to 70+ degrees Celsius. Each tube can hold 15 liters — with a complete system capable of providing hot water for an entire family. Each of the units displayed on the website is claimed to be portable; but even the 15 liter version might be a little unwieldy if you plan on roughing it somewhere. The only problem is that the technology is limited to a few countries in Europe and Asia. They’re looking for distributors in North America; no any of you eco-entrepreneurs out there — have a look! Outdoor showers are the bomb-diggity — especially pollution-free, hot showers.

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Savinar and Sundance Deliver On Documentary “A Crude Awakening”

ByGroovy Green Apr 15, 2007

savinarA friend to Groovy and always ready with an interesting comment or two, Matt Savinar is reaching out through your television in The Sundance Channel’s THE GREEN. This new three-hour block of television premiering this Tuesday features a wide range of high-quality programming covering issues of sustainability and green ideas. I received a few screeners a couple weeks back and have been pouring over the shows with great interest; after all, this is a guy without television and I was happy not to miss out on the series.

I launched into a full review over at the green entertainment site, Ecorazzi, but I wanted to put a little more emphasis on this week’s 90 minute documentary, A Crude Awakening. Obviously, this piece covers the issue of Peak Oil and does a masterful job of slowly easing into the topic in such a way that makes the dire consequences that much easier to grasp. We’re given phenomenal access to historical video footage of oil boom towns that now look like derelict theme parks and even Marion Hubbert (the father of the theory of Peak Oil) presenting his concept on television in the early 50s mid-70s. Commentary from several notable geologists, politicians, and energy experts adds impressive information (as well as warnings) to the visuals.

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Are We Past Peak Knowledge?

ByGroovy Green Apr 13, 2007

In this essay I draw a distinction between facts, information, knowledge and wisdom.  I use the term information to mean a collection of facts.  I use the term knowledge to mean the absorption and consideration of, experimentation with, and refinement of information; essentially the path to wisdom.  Or to work backwards, wisdom is the mastery of knowledge which is the assimilation of information which is a compilation of facts.  It might seem unnecessary to distinguish these differences but I believe its one thing to collect facts, quite another to understand how they matter to each other and something entirely different to begin to really know what you’re doing and how you’re doing it; let alone why.

This past weekend my little corner of the world experienced the coldest temperature ever recorded in the month of April in our area- 21 degrees Fahrenheit.  Now in North Carolina we’re used to light frost until the middle of this month, but those of us who garden tend to catch spring fever a bit early when we have warm weather in March.  This year we did and so I played my part and planted a few early tomatoes before it was really safe to do so.

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Eco Fashion Q&A: Sustainable Skivvies

ByGroovy Green Apr 10, 2007

We have returned! New queries have been rolling in, and it is time to start posting some answers. This week’s question comes from e4 (aka Edson): How about green underwear?

Love it – short, sweet, and to the point. Oddly enough, I’ve been doing a fair amount of research on eco-undies in the past month, even being interviewed by a foreign magazine on the subject. Simply put, you’ve come to the right place. ;)

Anything that is going to come in direct contact with your private parts should be, above all, chemical-free. Organic cotton, bamboo, and hemp are the three most common sustainable fibers for green underwear, all of which are quite comfortable and long-lasting. Though finding these skivvies are not as easy as, say, organic cotton denim, the options are many. As the closest thing to your skin, you owe it to yourself to wear eco-undies.

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An Inconvenient Truth :: The Transcript

ByGroovy Green Apr 9, 2007

While I’ve seen Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, up online in various forms, this is the first time I’ve found a transcript of the film to enjoy. I say “enjoy” truthfully because reading this transcript after watching the film allows for a greater appreciation of the immense scope of knowledge presented over the course of 90 minutes. Didn’t quite follow a certain part of the film and would like to review it? Looking for an exact quote from the film to use against/in support of Gore? It’s all right here. Below is one of my favorite quotes from the film:

“You remember that home movie of the earth spinning in space. One of those spacecraft continuing on out into the universe, when it got 4 billion miles out in space, Carl Sagan said, “Let’s take another picture of the earth.” See that pale blue dot. That’s us. Everything that has ever happened in all of human history has happened on that pixel. All the triumphs and all the tragedies, all the wars, all the famines, all the major advances: it’s our only home. And that is what is at stake: our ability to live on planet Earth, to have a future as a civilization.”

Not Looking Good for the Southwestern US: “Mega” Drought Predicted

ByGroovy Green Apr 7, 2007

UPDATE: I located a chart of Lake Mead historical water levels, and put it below the fold (click on “more…”)
MSNBC has an article out today sounding an alarm on the Southwestern United States’ fresh water situation. Not only is the wage gap between rich and poor workers reaching pre-depression levels, we are also threatened by a “dust bowl” similar to the same period of time.

While traveling in Nevada two weeks ago, I was able to travel to see the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. A thick layer of bleached rock formed a ring around the reservoir, showing the loss of billions of gallons of fresh drinking water. The level of the lake fell a hundred or more feet below a run-off/overflow culvert.

After seeing this first hand it is easy to believe the article:

Drainage Culvert

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When An Environmentalist Has Dinner With A Hummer Executive

ByGroovy Green Apr 6, 2007

I’ve just returned from the 2007 NY International Auto Show and it’s time to start releasing the jumble of thoughts, videos, and other interesting experiences I had along the way. General Motors extended an invitation to Groovy Green and Ecorazzi to attend the event and meet with top executives to discuss the latest green issues. Being somewhat of a cynic towards the pairing of the words “green” and “American auto industry”, I jumped at the opportunity.

So, it was a somewhat awkward moment when I took my seat at dinner and found myself sitting next to Hummer’s Executive Director, Ross Hendrix. He even had a giant “H” pin on his sport coat lapel. To my left was GM’s Vice President of Environment and Energy, Beth Lowery. She mentioned to me that no less than two years ago, it would have been impossible to gather executives in the same room as journalists; much less environmental bloggers. The level of access GM is providing is unprecedented. Even greater, they’re willing to listen and talk. I dove right in.

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How to Start a Compost Pile

ByGroovy Green Apr 4, 2007

Here we are cruising into April which means many parts of the country are experiencing the first warm days of spring. Also arriving is the annual spring cleaning of yards across America as people deal with the remaining fallen leaves of last autumn and mow down their lawns for the first time this year.

Of course we here at Groovy Green advocate strongly for turning those Lawns into Gardens and if you must retain some turf try a manual reel mower. They’re cheap, use no fuel (other than that of your muscles), have no emissions, and are relatively easy to sharpen.

But if you or your neighbors do bag up all those leaves and grass clippings, consider this a prime time to start a compost pile. There’s a more in-depth article on why and how to compost here, but if you’re looking for a more simple explanation of how you can recycle your yard waste and create some great compost for your garden, here are some simple directions.

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Mercury Fears in CFL Bulbs Overblown?

ByGroovy Green Mar 30, 2007

I have noticed a meme circulating the internet over the past 2 weeks – fear of landfill contamination by an increase in the use of CFL bulbs. While there is trace amounts of mercury in CFL bulbs, and I do believe that there needs to be more public education from places that sell the bulbs to avoid them ending up in the garbage – I would like to note that the possible reduction in mercury emissions from coal fired power plants outweighs the amount used to produce the bulb, over the bulbs lifetime.

This fact sheet (warning PDF also found at wikipedia) on the subject notes that there is approximately 4.0mg of mercury in a CFL bulb, and the emissions from a coal fired plant to produce the energy to run the bulb over it’s lifetime is an additional 2.4mg of mercury. Contrast that with 10.0mg of emissions for a conventional incandescent bulbs over the same 5 year lifespan of the CFL bulb. The incandescent is still producing more gaseous mercury contamination than the CFL. Also, the mercury contained in the CFL bulb remains in a form that can be recycled.

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Town Decrees Solar Panels Ugly, Family Fights Back

ByGroovy Green Mar 27, 2007

I always find amusing the rules that some of my friends around the country must abide by when living in community housing developments. Your grass can only be so high, children’s toys must be kept to a minimum outside, your house can only be certain shades of color, etc. etc. It’s a frightening utopia of meaningless laws and trivial worry. When I heard that the town of Scarsdale denied a family the opportunity to put up solar panels — on the basis that they were ugly and “not in keeping with the character of the community” — I immediately wanted to cry/laugh. You have got to be kidding me.

But then I thought that such reactions are probably not too uncommon. We live in a world with designer water, designer shampoo, and animal spas. People have become so accustomed to modular cookie-cutter homes with white picket-fences and weed-free sidewalks — that they’ve actually forgotten there’s a world of people out there who could care less and actually would like to live a unique existence; with character and vision for their own lives. So, when you move to a place like Scarsdale, and they deny you the ability to lead that existence based on the above criteria, what do you do? You call their bullshit and fight back. From the article,

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Plant a Pollinator Garden… Please!

ByGroovy Green Mar 24, 2007

If you haven’t read about the rising wave of problems with crashing bee populations worldwide, get on Google and check it out. In a nutshell, bee colonies are dying off around the world, and no-one really knows why. There are several possible reasons people are talking about:

  • Some suspect that increasing infestations a few types of mites might be doing it.
  • Others suspect mono-cultural agricultural practices.
  • Genetically-Modified Organisms are another possibility.
  • Perhaps it’s due to microwaves and other electromagnetic radiation that’s omnipresent these days.

So, there are a number of possibilities for why this is happening, but it’s bad news regardless of the underlying reason. Did you know that bees are used to commercially pollinate more than $14.6 billion dollars’ worth of fruit, nut and vegetable crops every year in the US alone? Without these incredibly helpful insects, these food stuffs would be much more costly if they were available at all.

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The Future of Eco-Fashion: Natalia Allen

ByGroovy Green Mar 20, 2007

With the job title of “Design Futurist”, it is hard to not be intrigued by New York’s Natalia Allen. In 2005 (just a year after she graduated from Parsons School of Design), Natalia founded an influential (self-titled) consultancy company, where she specializes in the emerging areas of design and marketing for global clients, such as Quiksilver, Donna Karan-LVMH, Dupont, Philips and Saks Fifth Avenue. Her creative designs and network are considered an essential catalyst between companies with a shared interest in the future of fashion. Her work has received a score of distinctions including the Calvin Klein, Nylon Magazine and Ducati Design Awards, also the coveted Designer of the Year Award, a title she shares with Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford, and Badgley Mischka.

As the tipping point of green living looms on the horizon, I had a chat with Natalia about her unique work and how technology and eco-style will factor in to the future of fashion.

How did you first become interested in fashion?

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John Edwards Declares His Presidential Run Carbon Neutral

ByGroovy Green Mar 13, 2007

Presidential-hopeful John Edwards announced his intentions today to have a completely carbon-neutral campaign. It seems everyone and their dog (oh wait, pets can be carbon-neutral now too!) is jumping on the offsets bandwagon; but Edwards is the first of the current contenders to push it forward. From his statement,

“To achieve carbon neutrality, we’re taking two big steps. First, we’re implementing a number of simple but effective techniques to conserve energy in our national and field offices. And I’ve asked my staff to take concrete steps to reduce their own energy consumption. Conserving energy now is the single biggest thing we all can do as individuals to combat global warming.

But presidential campaigns by their nature use an enormous amount of energy for travel and operations. Which is why today I have also directed the campaign to purchase carbon offsets that support alternative energy production to neutralize the global warming impact from our travel and office energy use.”

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Changing Your World – A Little at a Time (and Contest!)

ByGroovy Green Mar 13, 2007

Update: Throwing this back up top, last chance to get in on the contest. Winner announced this weekend.

I feel pretty good today. That’s pretty odd, considering it’s peak doldrum season here in the northeast, in a city that just received 4.1″ of snow this morning, bringing our season total to 117″ glorious inches of the white fluff. (yes, that’s my front yard one week and 8 inches of snow ago).

Why I feel good is for the following reason: I sat in on a “mission committee” meeting at my company today. At least I thought that I would just be sitting in on it, but it turned out that I had top bill as a presenter on “how we can make changes at [company x] to reduce our environmental impact”. I soon found out that I had the plenty to talk about. The 20 extemporaneous minutes flew by. I dived right in to the “low hanging fruit” in our company, and the committee and I decided on 4 goals to reduce our waste, conserve materials and energy and reduce our carbon emissions. I’ll get back to those in a minute. First, what I want to point out, is that I told a few anecdotes today, based on information that I’ve gathered reading blogs, environmental magazines and articles in newspapers, and have seen in news reports. These were things that I thought that everyone had been at least exposed to, or at least have been given a chance to ignore. Boy was I wrong. The committee members faces lit up as I rambled off a few things that they could do to reduce their energy consumption at home:

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New Bill McKibben Book “Deep Economy” Hits Shelves This Month

ByGroovy Green Mar 10, 2007

As soon as I get my hands on this one, I’ll get up a review. Looks like it will be right up my alley, and come to think of it, most of our writers and readers alleys too!

From his website:

In my new book, Deep Economy, I’ve set out to challenge the prevailing view of our economy. For the first time in human history, “more” is no longer synonymous with “better”—indeed, for many of us, they have become almost opposites. I want us to think in new ways about the things we buy, the food we eat, the energy we use, and the money that pays for it all. Our purchases need not be at odds with the things we truly value.

The time has come to move beyond “growth” as the paramount economic ideal and begin pursuing prosperity in a more local direction, with cities, suburbs, and regions producing more of their own food, generating more of their own energy, and even creating more of their own culture and entertainment.

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100 Things you can do for Peak Oil – Part 1 (1-48: Home, Garden and Clothing)

ByGroovy Green Mar 5, 2007

The Next 100 Things You Can Do To Get Ready For Peak Oil (And Whatever Else Comes Down the Pike)

Home:

1. If you live in a place where it gets hot in the summer, consider building a screen room (a room with screened windows all around or almost always around), either attached to your house or seperate. You can put a wood cookstove in the screenroom and use it as a summer kitchen for cooking and canning, avoiding adding heat to your house. You can also sleep in the screenroom when it is too hot to sleep inside, and reducing or eliminating the need for air conditioning. The room can double in the winter as a woodshed. If you cannot build on, freestanding screenrooms are also a possibility. For sleeping even a mesh camping pavilion or tent under the trees will be better than many houses.

2. For those in cold climates, consider a four poster bed. These were once not merely decorative – with heavy coverings for the top and the sides, they could be heated with your body heat, and provided a cozy sleeping space in an era when bedrooms were unheated. A frame can be added to many existing bedframes if you are at all handy, and curtains are easily made. You can also add wall hangings and tapestries as cheap forms of insulation to existing walls. They can be made from old blankets and cheap fabric, or can be as artful as you like.

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100 Things you can do for Peak Oil – Part 2 (49-100 Community, Family, Transportation, Etc.)

ByGroovy Green Mar 5, 2007

The Next 100 Things You Can Do To Get Ready For Peak Oil (And Whatever Else Comes Down the Pike)

Part 2 (49-100)

(Be sure to check out Part I of this article here )

Community:

49. Invite someone new to your house once every month. Try and expand your community and circle of friends regularly. Invite people to eat with you regularly – sharing food is an important part of community building.

50. Attend zoning meetings and consider running for zoning board. Work to amend local zoning laws to allow green building, composting toilets, clotheslines, small livestock, cottage businesses, front lawn gardens and other essentials.

51. Have a large house and not a lot of people in it? Consider a roommate, or borders. This will make you more economically stable and also expand your community and local resources. If you currently rent an apartment, consider sharing housing with a roommate.

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“Overpopulation is not a problem”

ByGroovy Green Feb 26, 2007

“…Despite many doom-and-gloom predictions, explosive growth in the world’s population isn’t something to panic about says Nicholas Eberstadt…”

So starts a WSJ opinion article from Friday February 23, 2007 discussing overpopulation and how the planet has not reached it’s limits. How all the previous naysayers regarding population expansion have been wrong. How the predictions for the future are dubious at best. “Mr. Eberstadt says the strains that Malthus and others predicted from a surge in population haven’t materialized. Instead, as population has increased so has most people’s standard of living. The world’s population quadrupled to more than six billion people during the 20th century, a time when per capita gross domestic product almost quintupled. Similarly, while a shortage of resources would be expected to drive up commodity prices, costs actually fell in the 20th century…”

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The Transparent Banana?

ByGroovy Green Feb 21, 2007

There was something slightly obscene yet engaging about the title of this post, so I had to re-use it. Chews Wise, written by Samuel Fromartz, the author of “Organic, Inc“, has a very interesting post up about how transparency is beginning to show up in the grocery store:

Dole revealed a shape of things to come in the food market – Transparency! – by allowing customers to see where their bananas come from.

Visit its Dole Organic web site and punch in the number on your banana SKU sticker. (Not the SKU code, which is 94011 for organic bananas but a three-number code that identifies the farm.) The web site shows you where this code is located.

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Baby Got Back: Toyota Drops Hints of New Prius

ByGroovy Green Feb 20, 2007

Toyota understand that the Prius line is in need of an update. Rumors have circulated for the better part of a year about a 100mpg plug-in monster set to “redefine the hybrid” industry.

Now, Toyota is set to release a concept car at the 2007 Geneva Auto Show next month that many believe is a precursor to the 2008 model Prius. So much interest is building, that Toyota is even releasing teaser pics like the one above. Curvy, isn’t it? Looks a bit more aerodynamic as well…

From the press release,

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Crude Impact on TV

ByGroovy Green Feb 17, 2007

The film Crude Impact (trimmed down from 98 to 60 minutes) will be airing on LinkTV on February 9th. You can see clips from Crude Impact here and here, and you can read Transition Culture’s review of the film here.

LinkTV, a non-profit satellite channel, will also be hosting an online discussion at the same time, with James Wood (director of the film) as well as Richard Heinberg and Antonia Juhasz.

Crude Impact is airing as part of a two-part series titled The End of Oil [Part 1, Part 2].

LinkTV is on DirecTV channel 375, Dish Network channel 9410.

A Groovy Trip to Subaru’s Zero Landfill Assembly Plant

ByGroovy Green Feb 16, 2007

What do the Toyota Prius, the Honda Civic Hybrid and the Ford Escape all have in common? The production of these three vehicles produces millions of pounds of landfill waste each year. These three specific models are no exception. Automotive manufacturing, like any other industrial process generates lots of waste. But that’s just the way it is, par for the course, nothing anybody can do about it right? Wrong.

Several members of the Groovy Green team recently visited Subaru’s automotive manufacturing plant in Lafayette, Indiana. For nearly three years now this plant has produce zero landfill waste. That’s right, 100% of the by products produced from fabricating Subaru vehicles in Lafayette are reclaimed. How has Subaru been able to achieve such a dramatic accomplishment while other car manufactures are still taking trips to the landfill? At its core their strategy is simple and straightforward; Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. With those words as a mantra and with a willingness to challenge the notion that building cars is inevitably a wasteful process, Subaru has become a great example of what a company can realize if it believes in doing the right thing.

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Eco Fashion Q&A: Who’s Got Green Jeans?

ByGroovy Green Feb 6, 2007

After a week of being sick with a nasty sinus cold, I’m happy to be back on my green fashion beat. This week’s question comes from Chris: How about some choices for blue jeans? Fair Trade – Organic?

Well, we have stumbled upon my favorite subject: denim. I’m one of those folks that can’t have too many pairs of jeans. Of course, these days, I do not buy any denim that isn’t eco-friendly, whether it be made of sustainable materials, fair trade/sweatshop free, or vintage.

When it comes to “green” denim choices, there are more than just a few! Researching companies for this post, I easily complied a list of over 30 brands; some just for men and others are ladies’ only. So, without furthur ado, here is that list:

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California Lawmaker Plans to Ban Incandescent Bulbs by 2012

ByGroovy Green Jan 31, 2007

This would be huge. I get a little “down” some times thinking that the environmental writers and blogs are just preaching to the choir. Then, once in a while something like this comes along and makes me believe that the memes that are kicked around in the blogosphere do make it to the public consciousness and yes, even to law makers.

Reuters: (via Drudge, who as of today has many GW articles linked)

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

ByGroovy Green Jan 31, 2007

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

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

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

ByGroovy Green Jan 29, 2007

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

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

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US Answer To Global Warming: Giant Space Mirrors and Balloons

ByGroovy Green Jan 27, 2007

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

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

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Power Play: MSNBC Gives You The 411 On Nuclear Energy

ByGroovy Green Jan 25, 2007

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

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

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

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Revive the Victory Garden!

ByGroovy Green Jan 24, 2007

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

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

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

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