I’ve always wanted a rain barrel. In fact, back in June,I wrote a post declaring as much and announcing my quest to pick something up that was both eye pleasing and practical. Living in Ithaca, NY, I don’t have many problems with drought — but watching all that water roll off my roof, I figured it was a waste to simply see it hit my lawn and disappear. Besides, why pay that much more for municipal water for my garden when I could capture that which fell from the sky?
I’ll admit that writing about water issues in the southwest U.S. and visiting friends in Arizona also made me curious why water conservation tactics (like rain barrels) weren’t used more. Was it because they’re still relatively unknown? Were they a pain to setup and use? I was curious and therefore wanted one. Thankfully, the folks at Garden Supermart heard my cry and hooked me up with one of their Cascata Rain Barrels. After playing around with it (I use that term loosely) for two weeks, I can sum up my reaction in one sentence: Everyone should have one.
The NY Times has an article up on their site recently discussing how a small town in Vermont is using local foods to save the local economy of their small town.
“Across the country a lot of people are doing it individually but it’s rare when you see the kind of collective they are pursuing,” said Mr. Fried, whose firm considers social and environmental issues when investing. “The bottom line is they are providing jobs and making it possible for others to have their own business.”
This is interesing to me because they are essentially building the entire local food infrastructure. They are moving past the idea of just supplying beef or vegetables to consumers at the farmer’s market. They are actually moving into producing local food products. They are preparing the town for the future where food will need to be more local. And even better, they are recirculating those food dollars in their town to be reused over and over.
Check out the article and let me know what you think.
Vote La Cense! That is the motto of the cattle ranchers of La Cense cattle ranchers. They are trying to educate the public in the benefits of grass-fed beef, and Angus La Cense is their (fictional?) candidate in the Grass-Fed Party…
Who is Angus La Cense?
Angus La Cense is a cow from the La Cense Ranch who is representing the Grass-fed Party in the upcoming election. He is an advocate of grass-fed practices that produce happier cows, healthier people, stronger rural communities, and healthy grasslands.
What is the Grass-fed Party?
The Grass-fed Party is an organization of people who support grass-fed foods and sustainable ranching and believe that America can hold higher standards to its cattle industry. The Grass-fed Party empowers citizens with the knowledge necessary to make the best choices, whether their role is the feed a family or help make new policies that work. The Grass-fed Party supports putting traditional ranching practices back in rural America to help the smaller communities thrive, to help preserve and enrich ranchlands, and to help cows eat according to their natural diets and have access to clean air and water.
With the worldwide economy in the trash — and people cutting back for the impending recession — we can’t help but glance sadly at the Ovetto Recycling Egg and wonder ‘what might have been?’. You see, sorting recycling can be something of a chore for people; though I’m not sure why. If I gave my parents this egg, it would probably increase their efforts to recycle beyond the guilt and shame I shower on them every time I find a bottle in the garbage.
Problem is, this little egg of wonder costs $250. I mean, it’s the garbage can of the future, but I think I’ll wait until prices drop a bit. Here’s the full description:
“Interior Architect and Designer Gianluca Soldi has designed Ovetto differenziato, or recycling egg, “an object that meets the needs of domestic waste separation in order to educate the population to correctly dispose of waste in order to be able to consequently recycle it. Ovetto fits easily in modern homes and offices and is a great gift for anyone who wants to show off their “green” engagement.” Of course, it is made of recycled polypropylene
What do you think — want one?
We live in the suburbs of Seattle and our neighborhood is full of regular hard working folk busy with life and not much time set aside for much else. Aside from our immediate neighbors regular communication with the rest of our neighbors is not a very common activity.
Tonight while on a walk with the kids we stopped at the home of one of our unfamiliar neighbors, previously we have only exchanged waves at a distance and usually through the windshield as he drove by our house. We stopped to see if he would let us pick some apples from the tree in his front yard. Heavy laden with some beautiful yellow apples it was just begging for us to stop!
Alan gladly gave us permission to pick some apples and invited us to come back in the spring to pick cherries from the tree in his backyard. It was apparent that these apples would most likely not all get picked and many would go to waste we were more than happy to make good use of them. In turn, I offered my services to prune this tree for him as well we would also bring him some applesauce. He was happy to share the excess of apples from his yard and the history of the tree. This Yellow Delicious apple was planted in 1987 when his second daughter was born. She has now moved out of the home but this tree remains and stands as a reminder of precious time in his family’s past.
OK, most of you are probably thinking I’m going to talk about a tool, but actually I wanted to mention Jerusalem Artichokes aka Sunchokes.
I planted some of these this year for the first time ever, and I’m impressed with them. They grew fantastic, made nice flowers on the top, provided a huge amount of food to the chickens and in the end, gave me the tubers you see below. This bowl is full from half of the section I planted. I created a bed on the south side of my compost pile that is between 3 and 4 ft long. I planted the Sunchokes in double rows within that bed. I didn’t amend the soil or anything. I just dug a trench, put in the tubers and filled it back.
I was given a sample of Clorox’s new dishwashing soap about 1 month ago. We’ve been using it to clean our pots and pans and as a liquid hand soap in our kitchen (why have two containers on the counter?). The results have been, well how can I say this, the same as our old non-environmentally friendly soap*. But isn’t that the point? Having the same dishwashing ability – without drying out our hands – and eliminating many of the chemicals that pollute our waste water. Good for clorox. Now if we could just get rid of the other 99% of the harmful chemicals that the company produces.
Siel from GreenLAGirl did a very thorough review of the benefits of this product. I was glad to see what was eliminated, and what natural ingredients they were able to replace them with.
Two dishpan-hands up for this Clorox Green Works Dishwashing Soap.
*for the record, we bought a huge industrial sized container of dish soap from BJ’s when we moved into our house. That was 4 1/2 years ago! This thing must be refilling itself as we use it. I swear.
About 45 minutes ago, we all piled into the garden after hearing that Ithaca, NY would be receiving its first “hard” frost of the season with a low of 29 degrees. Time to harvest the last remaining fruits of the garden! Gourds, lavendar, rosemary, green peppers, cayennes, eggplants, tomatoes — whatever we could find, we cut and dragged in. I even grabbed the Jatropha (more on that later!) and propped it up in the living room. Here is one of our tables of yumminess. Needless to say, we have a bunch of freezing, canning, and eating to do over the next week!
How did your garden turn out this year?
What will the next 10-20 years be like? With global climate change and peak oil what can we expect? David Holmgren co-originator of the permaculture concept has developed a new website investigating some possible outcomes.
Future Scenarios: Mapping the cultural implications and climate change.
The simultaneous onset of climate change and the peaking of global oil supply represent unprecedented challenges for human civilisation.
Global oil peak has the potential to shake if not destroy the foundations of global industrial economy and culture. Climate change has the potential to rearrange the biosphere more radically than the last ice age. Each limits the effective options for responses to the other.
I came across this video today of a group of like-minded people working together to improve their lives. They call themselves the Grow Food Party Crew, a part of the Ojai Valley Green Coalition, their goal is to work together to build their local food shed and strengthen their community. They employ permaculture principles as their design approach to food production and land use. Projects include vegetable gardens, rainwater harvesting, as well as natural earthen structures. All the while having a great time doing it!
Why not start a Grow Food Party Crew in your neighborhood!
A new ship from Celebrity Cruises, currently about 80% complete, is being built with eco-friendly technology and design in ever phase of construction. Personally, I find cruises to be one of the most wasteful and benign ways to travel — but they’re not going away, and this development is welcome.
The company actually designed the hull of the ship first — a radical departure from conventional cruise ship construction where things are generally created “top down,” with passenger space configured first, then the hull constructed to fit that space. As a result, the hull is one of the most fuel-efficient possible and the rest of the ship was configured to work around it.
There will also be 80 solar panels on board to power small things such as elevators. The company acknowledges that solar is not currently a cost-effective addition, but add that as prices decrease, the infrastructure will be in place on board to carry more photovoltaics. The hope is that over time, the ship will utilize more clean energy in its consumption.
[ed note: I am putting this up without the bells and whistles (links, etc.), and with perhaps a few typos. I’d rather get it up in a timely fashion and return to it to correct any mistakes. Comments are welcome and appreciated by those that can clarify or rebut my recollection of the events.]
ASPO Day 1:
Our first day of ASPO started out with a tour of Old Sacramento, followed by a chance meeting with a board member of an upstart Extended Oil Recovery (EOR) firm called Titan Oil Recovery. He described their revolutionary technique to bring life to mature oil fields, involving the Titan process which causes microbes found in the well to multiply and break down the size of oil particles trapped in rock to a small enough size to allow them to flow, increasing total recoverable crude from the well, and causing a rapid increase in production. My opinion, keep an eye on this company. If they can really do what their data showed, it my be a game changer for production in mature fields.
This is a guest post by Wendy from Home Is… From reading her blog I knew she had chickens, and since she lives in Maine her knowledge of building a coop that will hold up to cold weather could be quite useful. She has written a series of articles on our site before related to her personal decision to stay in her home in the suburbs during the coming descent down Hubbert’s Peak.
Do your children think that food comes from the supermarket or maybe the shop at the gas station? We all have opportunities to open that door to the past and learn to rely on nature to provide for our dietary needs. If we give her a chance, it is amazing how willing Mother Nature is to sustain our needs. One green (and fun) opportunity to utilize nature is to tap your maple trees to collect the sap. Now that is really tapping into Mother Nature!
I started tapping maple trees in my yard several years ago and constantly get questions about how to do this. The reality is that with the right equipment and a little direction, it is quite simple. The trick is to be prepared when the sap starts to flow (sometime in February or March depending upon weather conditions).
UPDATE: Ecorazzi is now giving away a Neuton in celebration of their two year anniversary. One person will be chosen at random.]
Before I start this review, you should know that I have a love/hate relationship with lawns. Living in the Northeast, they’re a necessary evil when one has not yet shifted an entire backyard to something built on permaculture. On the other hand, a recently cut lawn does look beautiful and sharp — something drilled into my head from summers of mowing other lawns to make cash in High School.
When my lawn turns colors from a lack of rain, I do not get out the sprinkler. I consider it a vacation from the weekly chore of mowing. If weeds or other variants of grass make their presence known, I consider them compliments to the scenery. It amuses/depresses me to no end the amount of resources Americans spend on the upkeep of lawns across the US — especially in places where grass has no business growing in the first place.
Saw this first at After Gutenberg, but it came via itsgettinghotinhere from a Architecture 2030 e-news bulletin.
A picture (or in this case, a graph) tells a thousand words.
You know you’ve been sniffing a little too much embalming fluid when you argue that natural burials are bad for the planet. And yet, that’s just what a funeral director from New Zealand did while participating in a debate on the topic during a town council meeting earlier last month.
Francis Day, of Marsden House Funeral Services, told the Nelson City Council that putrefaction of a body that was not embalmed would lead to higher toxicity levels in the surrounding soil to levels “which in many places would breach World Health Organization standards.” He continued that diseases and bacteria do not die when a person die but go right on living and could put “future communities at risk”.
A Calvin & Hobbes strip from July 23, 1987 – over 20 years ago…
It’s a good thing that even a six-year-old imaginary character in the funny pages knew all about global warming way back then. I mean, just think – two whole decades of progress in mitigating… er… well…
Calvin… I’m sorry buddy.
Like Colorado, Utah has laws on the books that make it illegal to collect rainwater that falls on one’s property. A Utah car dealer installed a cistern and rainwater collection system to feed a on-site car wash that has water recycling technology. This was in an attempt to “go green”. He was thwarted by the state government, and eventually had to work out a deal. Local residents who collect rainwater will not be bothered at this point because “there are bigger fish to fry”.
It’s difficult to imagine a person not having heard the old axiom “Buy low, sell high”, and it is prudent advice when you are making financial decisions. It’s the second part of that adage that might warrant a look at our strategy for infrastructure improvement in this country. If you are looking to make the maximum amount of money by selling something you want to sell that something when it’s at its highest value. I wonder then, is it time for our government to sell its infrastructure? You know, since the effects of Peak Oil are beginning to make themselves felt, the value of the infrastructure developed to serve cars running on cheap oil will decline each year into the future; starting soon. Selling high might mean selling soon.
Now, I don’t think we should sell all of it, by any means. We should keep the ports and the train lines, but is now a good time to start selling our roads, highways and airports? There has been news recently of other governments selling their infrastructure, and considering the value of these items in an energy scarce future I would contend that their value will never be higher. In fact, there is already plenty of news about airlines facing massive losses. (And starting to charge for baggage, pillows and normal drinks) How valuable will an airport be if we don’t have airlines? Or what if the ones we do have are marginally profitable? I say it’s better to sell now while the full force of Peak Oil hasn’t quite made itself felt.
This spring I had the pleasure of talking with Bob Waldrop as part of a series of interviews done for the forthcoming book A Nation of Farmers. Bob is a native, 4th generation Oklahoman, who was born and raised in Tillman County in southwest Oklahoma. His great-grandparents came to Oklahoma Territory before statehood. He is the founder of the Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House (which delivers food to people in need who don’t have transportation), the president of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, and works as director of music at Epiphany of the Lord Catholic Church. He served on the founding board of directors of the Oklahoma Sustainability Network, and previously served on the Migrants and Refugees Advisory Committee of Catholic Charities. He is the editor of Better Times: An Almanac of Useful Information, which is distributed free. The 5th edition may be viewed at www.bettertimesinfo.org/2004index.htm. He is a member of the Oklahoma Food Policy Council. Although not presently active in the program, he has served as an Oklahoma County Master Gardener.
A big thank you to Sarah Louise Hartman for transcribing this interview.
Aaron Newton: Bob, could you describe the Oscar Romera Catholic Worker House, and the operations that you’re a part of there in Oklahoma City?
I think that Joel Satalin can add another chapter to his book Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal after reading this story. I mean, really, a child’s veggie stand shut down for lack of permits? What’s next, no lemonade stands or car wash fundraisers?
ABC News via ABA Journal:
Call it a rite of passage: children by the roadside peddling their homemade goodies to adults who are more than eager to drop a few cents into a makeshift cashbox.
But Katie and Sabrina Lewis’ veggie stand, in the town of Clayton, Calif., where they sold homegrown watermelons for $1, has been shuttered by town officials who told the girls’ parents that their daughters’ venture violated local zoning ordinances.
“I think that they’re wrong,” dad Mike Lewis said of the town officials. “Kids should be able to be kids.”
In my city our local waste management group picks up big plastic containers (which I call a Yardy) of yard waste material. This can be branches, leaves, grass clippings, etc. (Unbeknownst to my neighbors, I also pick up yard materials from their yardies, but that’s a different story…) Participation in this program is great, and it keeps all this material out of the land fill. The city mixes all this material together and turns it into compost which they then sell in 40 lb bags, or give away for free for personal use, if you have a truck to load it in. Paper products and kitchen waste can be recycled in our yardies, although almost no one knows that and it never seems to be highlighted.
San Francisco does a similar thing, although this Time article just mentions kitchen waste so I’m not sure about yard waste. I’m sure there are plenty of other cities that also do similar things.
Back in April, I began an exercise in driving less and driving with fuel economy in mind. What I learned surprised me. Simple, obvious steps made the most difference. I drive a 98 Oldsmobile Alero and before I began, I was getting about 27 MPG, now I am up to 34 MPG. That’s a 7 MPG savings, using simple steps anyone can do.There are groceries, banks and just about everything I need within walking distance from work, so as a rule, I drive to work, then I drive home and that’s it. I occasionally drive to run some errands (there is only so much walking one can do on a lunch hour).
I began turning off the car at train crossings, or when stuck in a traffic jam, but the biggest jump occurred after slowing down to 60 MPH. I went from 29 MPG to 34 MPG. That’s huge.
Also, I rode my bicycle over 120 miles in June, and I’m well on my way to matching that for July. That’s trips to the hardware store, bank, goodwill, and beer runs (all within about 3 miles of my house). At 34 MPG, bicycling alone has saved 3 1/2 gallons of gas, or almost a 1/3 of a tank. That’s amazing!
Much praise has been heaped upon designer Ross Lovegrove since his solar trees first debuted in Vienna in October 2007. Essentially a solar-powered streetlamp — but also a work of art — the structure creates, as the designer puts it, “complex natural forms in a city that can benefit all of society.” They also save energy — and have managed to survive Vienna’s dark spells, with light still being generated even after four days without direct sun. From the article,
“When we were setting up the tree outside it was quite wonderful,” Lovegrove said. “Even when we had one stem, it was incredible, it seemed so insignificant but actually it really stood out and it proves this point that modern technology and design can really lift people’s spirits, it becomes an eye catcher because it’s sort of out of context. The Solar Tree is just a streetlamp but actually some of the small things which can have a big impact on our life are all open for reinterpretation.”
With the first-generation lamps firmly planted on some of Europe’s most famous streets, Lovegrove is now planning on the next-generation design. It will be called the “Adaptive Solar Tree” and, just like the real thing, will feature robotics that seek out sunlight or respond to changes in weather.
It was only a matter of time.
With most commercial turbines over 265 ft. tall, they were bound to attract the base jumping crowd. Thing is, they’re not the easiest things to get access to — so we’re wondering whether this crew has an inside man to let them climb to the top. Not to mention turn off the turbine for the jump. Nice view, though.
Note: The following is a peak energy introduction written with Sharon Astyk for our forthcoming book, “A Nation of Farmers: Defeating the Food Crisis on American Soil,” to be published in the Spring of 2009 by New Society Publishers. This excerpt will be a review for those who follow her site and mine but might be interesting to those who have only recently become agitated by $4/gallon gas and who want to learn more. It’s very important that those of us comfortable with this topic help to shape the emerging conversation as one of opportunity not tragedy. No doubt this will mean doing things differently now and in our future but all is not gloom and doom. The rising cost of energy could be an opportunity to address big problems- a catalyst for positive change. With that in mind we must frame this not as ‘the end of the world’ but as the beginning of something better.
“To alcohol- the cause of and the solution to all of life’s problems.?
Hello! Welcome to the first of many installments in my adventure of chicken raising. I recently just introduced 2 chickens to my urban palace and I thought it would be interesting to follow along with my trials and tribulations. Hopefully if I make mistakes it will help you avoid them if you decide to embark on this sort of thing on your own.
I was helped along in my chicken adventures by talking with many other chicken owners about what they’ve done, as well as the great website City Chicken. I read two great books which I would recommend, Chicken Tractor by Andy Lee and Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens. I thought both of these books were great, and while I didn’t think one book covered all the information I wanted, together they did cover a lot of what I was concerned about.
Let me say, I wasn’t born on a farm or really around animals. We had a cat and a dog at various times when I was growing up, but we didn’t have a steady menagerie of animals at my house. What I’ve learned has been from reading books and talking to others. I guess I tell you this to encourage you. Just because you don’t have the background in raising animals doesn’t mean you can’t do it. I’m just at the beginning of my adventure, as I write this, and I’m still nervous and scared as heck. Especially when they sort of dart around. It freaks me out, but I know there is plenty of information and help online and with people I know. I hope Groovy Green can be a resource for you if you are starting out on an eggcellent adventure!
Town zoning board getting you down? Anti-wind organizations befuddling you with their concerns? Feeling the ache of not being able to install your own personal turbine? Well, now you can shut out the rest of the world and focus on this great new kit from Lego called “The Vestas Windmill Kit”.
Standing over two-feet tall, this model of alternative energy features a Vestas wind turbine, control center, and a van. But don’t expect to buy a bunch of these and string them up on your roof. While the turbine is motorized, it’s not generating its own power. That probably comes from batteries. Damn them!
Can the next Lego set please include a solar array to power this thing?
Still, I love it.
Both presidential candidates have stumped for a new “green” economy. To me this smells of the supposed transformation to the “information economy” touted only a decade ago. Fortune had this to say on June 30th:
What senators McCain and Obama believe about U.S. energy policy matters – hugely. To fight global warming, the next President will oversee the transition to a new, green economy , which will result in one of the biggest business transformations of the 21st century and potentially one of the largest transfers of wealth since the creation of the income tax.
I used to ride a motorcycle. It was a Suzuki GS 1150. That’s 1,150cc engine with 123 horsepower. Since it only had to accelerate 500 pounds, it could go from 0 to 70 in less than 3 seconds and only one gear change, which I knew from personal experience. It was the kind of bike that taunted you, that dared you to ride fast.
There was a gas station near one of my favorite riding places that sold high octane racing fuel. I loved to fill up and go for a long twisty ride. The racing fuel had a different smell, it smelled like adventure.
Riding a motorcycle is such a manual process. Between clutching, shifting, accelerating and braking, you have to use both hands and both feet. You lean into turns. Riding involves your entire body.
My motorcycle riding days ended when someone made a right turn in front of me. I was enjoying a straight road to the maximum, went around a bend and right in front of me was a car, pulling into a driveway. I would have swerved into the left lane, but there was an on coming pickup truck. My only choice was to hit the brakes. I remember seeing the horizon fly past my feet, then I landed in the gravel on the other side of the car. I walked away with a sore wrist and a scratch on my right ankle. The motorcycle never ran again.
We’re all about choice when it comes to death here on GroovyGreen. Sure, you don’t have much say in how you’ll go, but you can definitely make sure your exit is packaged just right. Take for instance these eco-friendly custom cardboard coffins from Creative Coffins. Each one is made from 60% recycled paper plus wood pulp sourced from sustainable forests, contains only natural starch-based glues (no screws, bolts, tape, or other fittings), handles made from natural woven cotton, and is completely non-toxic. Better yet, you can have them custom designed — or choose from any number of beautiful designs already on the site.
My favorites are the “Gone To Seed” theme or the “Box of Candy” design — mainly because it would be really funny to see some kid’s face if they thought it was a giant box of candy. Ok, probably not.
Greenzer has an article up comparing the use of water bottles to water filters and reusable drinking bottles.
Greenzer by the way, is a one stop shopping location for earth friendly goods. They have the most comprehensive listing of earth friendly things I’ve seen.
If you are looking for earth friendly gear check out Eco-Gear.
How about a recycled wind storage device? See Storvino.
Vegan Fashion online is an interesting place to check for your Vegan clothing needs.
Yesterday, after I vented a bit on the lack of rain barrel options at Big Box stores, a reader tipped us off to a very interesting issue in her state of Colorado. Rain barrels there, you see, are outlawed. Colorado state law mandates that any water falling from the air is not yours. In fact, according to their site, its already been “legally allocated” — so, you don’t actually have any rights when it comes to using precipitation that falls on your property. Here’s the exact wording:
Colorado Water Law requires that precipitation fall to the ground, run off and into the river of the watershed where it fell. Because rights to water are legally allocated in this state, an individual may not capture and use water to which he/she does not have a right. We must remember also that rain barrels don’t help much in a drought because a drought by its very nature supplies little in the way of snow or rain.
Additionally, any and all water that comes from tap may only be used once. “Denver water customers are not permitted to take their bath or laundry water (commonly referred to as gray water) and dump it on their outdoor plants or garden.” Even if that said water is ecologically-friendly?
We’re not alone in thinking this is a stupid law. Last summer, The Colorado Springs Gazette said the following:
The kind gentleman promoting King Corn (now out on DVD and iTunes) gave Groovy Green a complementary download of the movie via iTunes to review. I hadn’t seen the movie yet so it was a good opportunity to view the film and to try out watching a video via downloading.
First of all, downloading the film was fast and easy. I had iTunes downloading in the background while I caught up on my RSS feed, and was surprised by the speed in which the nearly 1 GB file was transferred. (For tech savvy readers: I have a high-speed cable connection, and run OS X 10.4.11 on a MacBook 1.83 GHz Core 2 Duo with 2 GB RAM). iTunes provides a quick and easy way to watch a movie. I think that this would be especially worth it on a long flight or trip. However I think that that is about the only way that it beats owning the actual DVD. There is no (legitimate) way to burn a iTunes download to a DVD to watch on your TV. Bummer. The $14.99 iTunes price did beat out the lowest DVD price that I could find at $17.99. One last benefit of downloading rather than purchasing the DVD is that is a much “greener” option. No energy or materials used to produce the media, nor fuel or effort to ship it. I imagine the trend will continue until DVD’s are things of the past.
Enough about iTunes movies, what did I think about the flick? I liked it. For those of you unfamiliar with the movie, here’s the summary:
Not that there’s anything particularly healthy or worth promoting regarding fast-food chain McDonalds, but we have to give them credit for coming up with a very creative — and green — Billboard advertisement.
To get the point across that their salads are “really fresh”, McDonalds hired ad-maker Leo Burnett to deliver the message. So, he put together a billboad that over time grew lettuce to form the words “Fresh Salads”.
Wouldn’t it be cool if all billboard space was put to good use like this?
With the heat now taking hold here in NY — and the water falling less and less — I’ve started feeling the urge to pick up a rain barrel. I’ve also been intrigued by the thought of pursuing some vermiculture — though I admit, picking up Daryl Hannah’s worm bin would be a fine addition to the back deck. Too bad it costs $900.
But back to the rain barrels. Probably the most popular commercial option I’ve been spotting around Ithaca, NY is The Rain Catcher. It has a nice appearance, can hold about 55 gallons, is expandable, and has some nice features (hose, screen, etc.) One thing I don’t like it that the top does not come off — so if anything falls in there, it would be kind of tough to get it out. The screen would stop most debris, but I find the built in top annoying. I’m currently seeing it for about $138 in the stores — which is a bargain considering that rising oil costs add more if you purchase it online.
If you were to take the Earth’s current age and represent it on a 24-hour scale, the existence of humans would be indicated by roughly 30-seconds of time. That’s it. For all our hubris in celebrating our species rise above all others, we’re certainly an anomaly in the scheme of things. As indicated in the History Channel’s fantastic new documentary, Life After People, those 30-seconds of achievement can quickly be wiped away in less than half that time.
Last June, I wrote about a new book by Alan Weisman titled The World Without Us. In it, Weisman breaks down step by step what would happen to civilization if we simply vanished from the face of the planet tomorrow. For example, within about two days, New York City’s subway system would be completely flooded. Without power to keep the pumps running, the various tunnels and shafts would quickly fill by the region’s displaced underground rivers.
What the History Channel has done is basically used Weisman’s work as a script for a computer-generated look at the remaining vestiges of our society. We go all the way from one day to 10,000 years into the future. The visual effects used to represent the decay of our world and nature’s reclamation is stunning. As in the book, the film focuses in particular on New York City (as all good disaster flicks might) and does a great job of brining to life the various conceptual images that Scientific American presented to coincide with World Without Us.
An amazing look at what the average Brit will consume and produce over their lifetime.
If these amounts are for the average UK resident, I can’t imagine the piles for an average American. It is worth bookmarking, and coming back when you have time to watch a few minutes worth.
122 lbs. That’s how much enters the waste stream each month from the average American home (family of four). Ridiculous, sad, and incredible at the same time, isn’t it? A study conducted in 1995 estimated that 96.4 billion pounds of edible food was wasted each year — not to mention all of that probably went straight into the landfill. Imagine the recycled compost that could be generated from that!
The fascinating graphical representation of our monthly waste, as created by the NY Times, is shown below. Click on it to be taken to a much higher res, readable version.