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:
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)
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.
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.”
I 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.”
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.
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.
It’s that time again! Question four comes from Mallory: I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the company Denim Therapy. Basically the revive old jeans by sort of reweaving the fabric where it’s torn or ripped. They estimate the cost at $7 per inch. I love the idea, but to me it seems like more than most people would be willing to pay. I think most people would just go buy a new pair of jeans. I was wondering if you have any other leads on other similar companies? This is the only one I know of quite like this. It’s one of those things that, as with so many green products and services, I think people would be interested in but they’re most worried about the immediate cost and it’s hard to think about long term costs when you’re trying to make ends meet, etc. What are some other cheap but green fashion alternatives?
It’s official Mallory – you win the award for the longest question There are two inquiries mixed in with all that, but answering them in one post should be no problem.
For denim repair, I don’t know of any companies that focus on that service, besides Denim Therapy of course. This leaves you with a host of other options:
I always appreciated the efforts of Barney and Fred in The Flintstones to push around their apparently heave stone vehicles with only their legs for power. And let’s get one thing straight, regardless of Fred’s eating habits, the guy must have been in excellent shape.
These days, we’re all fat-fat-fattys in our vehicles, relying on millions of years of ‘ancient sunglight’ to get us to our destinations. Sure, we can bike it, but if you’ve got a family to move, biking sometimes isn’t the safest option. Enter The Human Powered Car. This street-legal four passenger vehicle relies on human energy (think: rowing machine exercise) to get you where you’re going. Apparently, there is also a human/electric hybrid available, which would dramatically help in those steep up-hill climbs. Priced at $7K, the company has 750 units available for this year. Take a look at the video below for more details. Your legs might not look like Fred’s after using this ‘car’, but you arms may look more like Arnold’s.
I just read an interesting article in the San Francisco Chronicle. Six Nobel Laureates spoke recently at UC Berkeley on the ways and means of battling global warming. The general consensus is that with all the technology our fight against global warming is futile if we the people aren’t doing our part:
”Science is not the problem,” said Donald Glaser, a UC Berkeley physics professor who won the Nobel Prize in 1960. “We can certainly build fuel-efficient cars. (But) year after year, Congress has refused to improve the mileage requirements for automobiles. We have to get together as a democracy and get our government to make changes.”
I think this notion can apply to other things as well. I have since changed out all the light bulbs in my home to cfl’s. All my appliances are energy star-rated, and I’m saving up to change my toilets to dual-flush. All in an effort to conserve and try to do my part . This article reassured me that even the little things we do make a difference, and collectively we can have a huge impact!
Are you looking to get a jump on your spring lettuce crop? Having trouble getting your eggplants seeds to sprout on the window sill? Perhaps your spouse doesn’t appreciate soil, seeds and peat containers all over the house for 2 months during late winter? Sounds as if you need a mini greenhouse or cold frame to solve your problems. Here are easy directions for how to build your own.
Step One: Stop and pick up old windows from the curb- the bigger the better. Plenty of people throw away old windows when they get new ones. If you’re shy about other people’s trash, try calling a window contractor and asking what he does with the old windows he replaces. Offer to trade him vegetables for them.
Step Two: Measure the glass from frame to frame
Thanks to some fact checkers, I need to update. Burpee is not owned by Monsanto. Burpee is privately owned. Burpee DOES carry some Seminis seeds, and Seminis is now owned by Monsanto.
Angela posted a comment blogged about her findings.
From her article:
“A spokeperson for Seminis, Mica Veihman spoke with me this morning and answered all my questions. Veihman said Seminis has “no intent to purchase Burpee” and this supposed email message was a complete rumor.
Burpee is a dealer of Seminis garden products which is probably how this rumor originated. They have been a customer of Seminis for over 20 years. Other familiar seed catalog companies that purchase from Seminis are Jung Seed, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, and Park Seed. A full list of current distributors is available here.”
Thankfully this was just a nasty rumor.
Imagine if to go wireless, mobile phones companies made you purchase a kit to install your own tower for $8k, and then shipped you a box of minuscule widgets and a soldering gun that you have to somehow assemble into a Razor. I’m pretty sure the market density of cell phones would be about as weak as that of PV, because that is the marketing strategy that Solar Energy is currently operating under.
Now imagine you could sign a contract, and have clean, green solar energy installed at your home by professionals and pay a nominal monthly fee based on your usage with no initial outlay. Tempted? The Citizenre Corporation is counting on it. What they are offering is the chance for average Americans to have the privilege of a Solar Array on their roof. According to their website it will be as simple as having one of their technicians do a site assessment, the signing of a 1,5,or 25 year forward rental agreement (FRA) and a safety deposit of $500 (reasonable for $25k in equipment!). At the signing of the agreement you will lock in your current cost per KwH and pay Citizenre that amount for any watts their equipment sends into your home thru an interconnected inverter. For anyone who is remotely Eco Aware this is Earth Shattering. But that elation is followed immediately by “where’s the catch?”. Talk to a REnU rep and they answer simply “there is none!”. Hmmm.
When the world goes to hell, and you no longer have ample supplies of crappy Linton tea bags lying around (but you really don’t have those do you?), it will be refreshing to know that you’re not powerless. Granted, growing tea is not something out of the realm of thought (like growing your own shower Luffa), but did you ever really consider it? Maybe I’m alone, but a great article I found today has inspired me to grow tea leaves, as well as a shower luffa for the coming season. Perhaps you’ll had them to your list as well?
According to the author, it’s really not that difficult. However, one hindrance to interested readers might be the Zone 8 region (mid-west to southern USA) requirement for outdoor success. For people living above this zone, it’s worth giving it a shot indoors or in a greenhouse. From the article,
” The Camellia sinensis plant is a small shrub about 1-2 meters in height, though it will grow taller if you don’t prune it. In the fall, your tea shrub will flower with small white blossoms that have a delightful scent. These plants are often grown as ornamentals. For planting, Camellia sinensis likes well-drained and sandy soil that is on the acidic side. If you are going to grow your tea in a container, add some sphagnum moss to the potting mix. You’ll need some patience, too. Your plant should be around 3 years old before you start harvesting leaves.”
Just found this link to a beautiful ‘How-To’ that takes you through the steps of building your very own low-impact woodland home. It’s appearance is very similar to the Hobbit homes featured in Lord of the Rings, but the aesthetics of the design also make it a piece you might find in Better Homes and Gardens. The cost? The author estimates total expenditures of about $6,000. This, and about 1000-1500 labor hours to put everything together. From the site,
“Take one baby, a toddler and a building site. Mix well with a generous helping of mud, combine with 6 weeks of solid welsh rain whilst living under canvas. Do this in candle light without a bathroom or electricity for three months. Chuck in living with your father for good measure. Top with an assortment of large slugs. The result a hand crafted home of beauty, warmth and health for about 3,000.”
It goes without saying that death is probably not the best topic to start the New Year with. However, it’s never too late early to start thinking about how you might leave this world. As some of you know, I’ve recently delved deeper into the ‘alternative burial’ industry and months ago produced a short video and piece on a Green Cemetery that opened here in Ithaca. It was at the dedication of this cemetery that I met a gentleman named Mark Harris; a former environmental columnist with the LA Times. He was doing research for an upcoming book that took a look at the myriad of ways you and I can leave this planet. I mentioned to him that I looked forward to reviewing the book and he said it would be a pleasure to send one my way. This Christmas, such a gift arrived at my door.
Titled Grave Matters, Mark’s book gives us a front row seat in surveying the burial industry. From the modern burial to the green burial (and everything in between), we’re treated to the intimate details; some that will shock, some that will enlighten, and others that will simply make you reconsider everything you thought you knew about death. Ever since the character Nate Fisher was laid to rest in a woodland grave with only a sheet in the final season of HBO’s “Six Feet Under”, Americans have started reconsidering their options with burial. Harris’s book provides the details and lays the groundwork for making those decisions; and once and for all deciding how we’ll leave our mark on the planet.
Wow, here’s another West Coast only first! In Santa Rosa, CA (just north of San Francisco) there is a company that makes pots for your plants, flowers, herbs, and such out of sustainable crops, mainly grain husks. They’re called EcoForms.
Now from what I understand, such a product already exists in Canada, the UK, and Australia. EcoForms is the first here in the US (but correct me if I’m wrong). They are a husband wife team who run an organic nursery called Sweetwater Nursery. Like most things borne out of necessity; they wanted an alternative to the plastic pots. They had already converted their greenhouses to solar power and their trucks to biofuels, but the plastic containers for their organic plants just seems contradictory, hence an idea was borne!
They are designed to last 5 years in all climates. and come in a variety of earthy colors and different sizes. If you decide to discard it into a landfill, it will breakdown into a nutrient-rich organic matter with a PH value of 7.0. You can find them at Whole Foods or contact them directly for wholesale orders, or custom designs.
Tell all your green thumb friends,
In the past, the term ‘sustainable fashion’ carried an almost instant stereotype of hemp and unappealing design. To even consider an alternative to fashion that went against the status quo was a gamble of reputation and money on consumer acceptance. As we’ve seen over the last couple years, however, the shades of green befalling industries has led to new markets and opportunities for companies willing to trail blaze. It’s not surprising then that the fashion industry — known for daring and bold ideas — would be one of the first to turn everything upside down. We’ve seen organic and animal free styles by Stella McCartney, activism from models like Summer Rayne Oakes, and corporate shifts to free trade and sustainable materials from companies like Timberland .
Amidst these changes in practice have also come new companies offering radical takes on classical products. Not just necessarily from a design point of view, but also on what makes up the product. One such company making waves throughout the industry is Ecoist . From their website,
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Alexander Karsner today announced that with DOE funding, a concentrator solar cell produced by Boeing-Spectrolab has recently achieved a world-record conversion efficiency of 40.7 percent, establishing a new milestone in sunlight-to-electricity performance. This breakthrough may lead to systems with an installation cost of only $3 per watt, producing electricity at a cost of 8-10 cents per kilowatt/hour, making solar electricity a more cost-competitive and integral part of our nation’s energy mix.
(Emphasis definitely freakin’ mine.)
Not to out do Kevin’s exuberance, this is definitely a huge deal. $3 per watt to install? A 62% reduction in installation cost for PV panels?
One area that sorely lacks an environmental focus in my household is our cleaning products. For some reason we just had never given it much thought. I was recently given the opportunity to bring some products into the house for a product review and what follows are my thoughts on the products after about 6 weeks of use. The products we obtained are from the Shaklee group of cleaning products. They can be found at www.Shaklee.com .
Our first opportunity to review the dish soap product that was supplied to me was on Halloween. I thought I had a great opportunity to test it’s grease fighting and cleaning ability because we would have plates and dishes sitting around as we hurried out the door to do some trick or treating, and also because I had cooked a whole chicken for dinner so there was quite a bit of grease available.
I was right. It was quite the test. By the time we returned from our candy fueled adventures the dishes were quite a sight. Following the direction on the bottle I added a couple of drops of dish soap to my dish pan along with some hot water (we keep our water heater at 120 so our water isn’t really that hot) and I started to wash the dishes. And the dish soap worked beautifully. In fact, it worked just as well as I could have expected from a non-environmental cleaner. I never did add any additional soap to the dishpan and the soap worked fantastic.
In conversations about social justice, energy, and our environment clothing doesn’t get a lot of attention. This is in part because individually, clothing items don’t carry that big an embodied energy cost. Another reason is that shirts aren’t as spectacular as cars, or houses or even dinner. It is also kind of a girl thing – although male clothing is just as expensive, men, on average, shop less often and buy less when they do. Women tend to buy the household’s clothing as well as their own, and to engage in recreational clothing shopping. Clothing the household has been women’s work from time immemorial. And because the clothes we wear are tied intimately into how we feel about ourselves, and how others view us, clothing as a subject is somewhat fraught.
And yet, I think there are a number of really good reasons to find and learn ways to make clothing, to prioritize homemade, or locally made clothing (including learning to find it beautiful), and perhaps to create a “Slow Clothing” movement rather like the ”Slow Food” movement currently picking up speed. Maybe it’s as simple as creating a campaign in which each of us would have at least one daily wearable outfit that we’ve made ourselves.
When selecting a tree “go live”. When the holidays are over it can be habitat for small mammals and birds. They provide shelter and beauty not to mention clean air. It is a green choice for sure.
There are a few important considerations when dealing with a live tree.A live tree comes with roots and therefore is heaver than a cut tree, obvious huh? Well don’t let a little extra weight get in your way. I use a wooden furniture dolly to wheel our tree around. Your local nursery will bring in live trees and often take the balled & burlapped trees and pot them up for easier handling. Some nurseries will just grow the trees in containers. Once you have chosen the perfect tree and you have brought it home you can’t just place it in the corner of the room right away. Follow these steps for best success:
Quite a few people were interested in my recent harvest of Luffa shower sponges. I thought I’d explain a bit more about the plant and the process of growing it. Luffa aegyptiaca Mill. or as it is commonly called, the Loofah, is a vegetable native to South America. It can be eaten when it is smaller. I have stir fried them but only up to a size of about 4 inches. After that they become tough like an over ripe squash. Left to fully mature each fruit produces an excellent sponge. Seeds for this plant are readily available through vegetable catalogs and you’ll only have to buy seeds your first year- one mature Luffa sponge will produce at least 30 seeds. Some will produce many more.
Frost kills the plant and it needs 4 to 5 months of growth to produce sponges. Here in North Carolina I can plant seeds directly in the ground near the date of the last frost and then harvest a modest number of sponges later in autumn. If I wanted a better yield or if I lived further north I would start them indoors several weeks, maybe even a month before the date of the last frost and transplant them outdoors after frost danger has passed. Planting them on the sunny, southern side of your property will help. They are natural climbers and are happiest running up the sides of a trellis or even the outer walls of your home. I sprinkle a few seeds near, but not in front of, one of my south facing gutter downspouts. When the plant sprouts it climbs up the downspout and along my gutters. It doesn’t impede the flow of water and in the fall when the plant dies I easily pull it off of my home. The large Luffa leaves help to shade the hottest side of my house in the summer. I am certain they could be grown just as well on a large trellis. They can get quite long. I’ve grown vines that exceeded 15 feet in length.
For the third autumn in a row I am pleased to be harvesting my shower sponge for next year. Now I know that must sound like a strange statement but it’s true. Many people are surprised when they find out I grow my own Luffa sponges. “Don’t those come from the sea?”, is the standard question to which I respond that the Luffa is a vegetable you can grow in your very own garden.
This annual requires a long growing season of frost free weather. But for those of you in colder climates it is possible to start seedlings indoors and then transplant them outside allowing you to grow your own sponges. The vine can grow to great lengths producing beautiful yellow flowers all summer. Next spring I will be sure to remind you to start your sponges. Right now though I am focused on the harvest. I almost waited too late to get my Luffa started this spring so I was lucky to get a hand full of mature sponges. This one grew right outside my bedroom window.
Photovoltaic cells on top of someone’s roof will no longer be a sight of interest for people visiting or living in Spain. In fact, they’re simply going to become part of the building code thanks to new legislation that requires all new or renovated buildings to offset “between 30 and 70 percent of hot water costs with the sun.”
From the article,
“New non-residential buildings, such as shopping centers and hospitals, now have to have photovoltaic panels to generate a proportion of their electricity. Other measures in the new building code enforce the use of better insulation, improve the maintenance of heating and cooling systems and increase the use of natural light.
“The new standards will bring energy savings of 30 to 40 percent for each building and a reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from energy consumption of 40 to 55 percent,” the Environment and Housing Ministries said in a joint statement.”
Wow. If I was an investor in Solar technology, I would be all over the companies bidding for contracts in Spain after this announcement. The question is, what kind of pressures will this place on the industry such that demand will outstrip supply? Quality silicon for solar panels are already in short supply. I wonder if a delay of this kind would delay the entire renovation or construction of a new building?
The new film, Tapping Maple Ridge , cleverly examines the parallels between maple syrup and wind energy. Why this is even applicable in the first place lies in the film’s setting of Lewis County, NY; the largest producer of maple syrup in NY and the site of the largest wind farm east of the Mississippi at Maple Ridge . Here’s an excerpt from their site,
“Tapping Maple Ridge is a meditation on the unexpected parallels between wind energy and maple syrup production. Shot on High-Definition video, the film illustrates the visual and conceptual correspondences between the sugar bush (a stand of maple trees tapped for syrup) and the wind farm. Interviews with maple syrup producers, Tug Hill landowners, Lewis County residents, and wind energy developers reinforce and elaborate on those relationships.”
Here’s another good one courtesy of Rob Hopkins of Transition Culture – His interview of Bob Flowerdew, “one of the UK’s best known organic gardening writers and broadcasters.” It runs the gamut, from what skills we need in the future, looking at the basics in life, to making candles, finding heat supply for winter, and local food production. It’s a really good interview, and since it is an “exclusive”, I won’t generously borrow in blockquote, but just direct you over there for a look. The interesting take that Mr. Flowerdew adds to the conversation, is that he believes that we should be looking more at fruits rather than veggies to solve our local food production issues. I will give you just a taste of his realist look at our future:
We will not win the world over by making them live on gerbil food and wear a loincloth. You get people by winning them over one bit at a time.
I guess my organic bamboo loincloth business idea is out then. Great work as always, Rob.
I came across a group of essays on the web, some more controversial than others (I tend not to touch religion with a ten foot pole while blogging), but most very inspiring. It is worth poking around the site and gleaning a bit of knowledge or inspiration for yourself.
This essay, by John O. Andersen, is called The Cost of Chronic Busyness – here is an exerpt:
When chronically busy, I have less time for my own life scripting. So I fall back into the “default mode,” that is, let popular opinion do the scripting. This usually means allowing others’ demands to fill up my schedule. In no time I’m up to my eyeballs in activities.
Too much of this and I feel as if I’m running away from myself. I may be accepted as “one of the boys,” but inside, I’m killing off the real me; the guy who has his own opinions and enjoys time alone. Ironically, when I have time to myself for reflection, the outside world tends to appreciate my contributions more.
In other words, the more I’m myself rather than someone else, the more use I am to others. Maybe this is because people have an innate sense to distinguish between those who act authentically and those who act like clones. The human spirit thrives on sincerity, genuineness and self-disclosure.
Most people don’t associate worm bins with something that can exist inside your home. However, with the right ventilation and setup, your worms will be more than happy to do their work in your company — without upsetting guests who might cringe at the thought. The secret is in using Rubbermaid Roughneck 10 Gallon Plastic Containers; the type that most people use for storing winter clothing or footwear. Their unassuming appearance make for easy integration of a worm bin in the basement, pantry, etc.
The instructions after the jump are really easy to follow. I haven’t tried it myself yet, but admit to wanting faster compost; especially with winter drawing fast and thoughts of Spring taking root. I’ve never tried worm composting, but hear it’s pretty effective. Anyone have any suggestions for worm bin composting inside the home? Take a look at these plans and tell us what you think!
Last week’s carnival was hosted at How To Save The World and next week’s will kick off November at CityHippy! Of course, many thanks to the carnival creators, CityHippy and TriplePundit. You can hit either link for more information on how to host the carnival on your site.
This week, we’ve taken the sites you love and given them the morbid makeover. Sure, it’s nothing too frightening, but we had some fun with some text generators and gave most of you a tombstone. We kept the toe tag for Groovy. Happy Halloween!
I recently overheard Albert Bates of The Farm make mention of using strawbale walls in greenhouses. Typically strawbale construction treats the straw walls with a lime and clay plaster to create a breathable, weather and bug resistant barrier. If not the bales rot. However when the bales begin to breakdown the process gives off heat. Mr. Bates leaves the strawbale greenhouse walls untreated so that they will decompose over the winter and give off heat to keep the plants warm. The following spring the partially decomposed walls are used to mulch the garden. I scaled down the idea a bit and built myself a strawbale cold frame. Here’s how to do it.
On our own, nongroovy websites Matt and I have been talking about the great autumn resource of fallen leaves from deciduous trees. Sure you can rake the leaves from your yard and use them as mulch or add them to your compost pile but what about all those bags of leaves you see on the side of the road piled up as other people’s trash? The process by which trees produce leaves that then fall and decompose is how soil is created. Those people are throwing away soil. Are they crazy!?!? Every year 25 billion tons of topsoil is lost to the world. The way I see it I have a duty to stop and pick up those bags and make sure that they are indeed turned into life supporting soil. Sure they’ll rot wherever they end up but why not in my garden helping me to grow yummy, superlocal food?
So here’s the challenge. Matt, I bet I can pick up more bags of leaves (soil) than you can. If you accept my challenge and I do pick up more bags, you will have to do something. But if you happen to collect more bags of leaves from the side of the road then I will have to do something. And we’ll let the readers decide what that something is. What do you say?
In the spirit of this newly announced competition, I put together a larger compost bin to collect our (and yes, possibly our neighbor’s) leaves this fall. This will supplement our smaller secure bin that we use for kitchen scraps – It keeps the skunks out.
Killing two birds with one stone, I got rid of a good portion of my “reclaimed wood pile” (that was not Mrs. B’s favorite), and built myself a fine compost bin.
A picture is worth a 1000 words, so without further ado: (click more to see pics and for dimensions)
Jules Dervaes and his family are fueling a revolution. More and more Americans are waking up to reality and beginning to recognize that we have real problems at hand concerning energy and the environment. An increasing numbers of these concerned citizens are seeking ways to live more conscious, self-sufficient lives. However trying to transition from the consumer culture towards a more sustainable way of life takes both inspiration and information. That’s were Jules Dervaes comes in. He calls his project Path to Freedom. It’s an attempt to live more sustainably and rely less on factory farming and genetically modified foods. But instead of moving to the country and starting a farm, Jules Dervaes and his family stayed in their own neighborhood to make their change. They live in Pasadena, California on a small urban lot. Their path towards sustainability, the Path to Freedom as Jules likes to say, means making real change right at home.
I guess that this “hack” from a chest freezer to a super-efficient refrigerator has been around for a year or so (2005). This just proves that you have to poke around to find something good, and when you do share it with others. (I wonder if the folks from path to freedom have seen this one yet.)
I found Mt. Best via farmlet, 2 great new sites to bookmark (new to me anyways), both out of NZ.
Here’s what they have to say about their fridge:
” My chest fridge (Vestfrost freezer turned into a fridge) consumes about 0.1 kWh a day. It works only about 2 minutes per hour. At all other times it is perfectly quiet and consumes no power whatsoever. My wind/solar system batteries and power-sensing inverter simply love it.
It is obvious that a truly energy efficient fridge does not cost any more money than a mediocre one. It actually costs less. It also has extra features, such as digital temperature display that gives you full control on the temperature settings inside.”
A Summary: Beyond Energy Alternatives
The Third US Conference on Peak Oil and Community Solutions
September 2006 Yellow Springs, Ohio
Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” He also said, “Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius-and a lot of courage-to move in the opposite direction.” I spent the weekend with genius and with courage, and I am happy to report that they are alive and well and working on our problems. Most Americans are not yet familiar with the coming tide of instability. Asleep and dreaming the American Dream, many are unaware of the issues associated with energy and environment that face our people and all of humankind. Scores of those who are aware of our troubles have convinced themselves that the answer lies in more of the same. But there are those who have another idea.
The electric car had its time a few years back and received a movie detailing its death. Investors in the next wave of electric-powered transportation are hoping that timing and technology will help prevent a sequel at the box office. Based in Europe, Vectrix is one such company banking on the power of a green, clean, electric bike to help reinvent the personal small transportation landscape — and keep oil executives awake at night worried about its potential. Groovy Green recently had the opportunity to visit the new Vectric production plant in New Bedford, Massachusetts. We test drove the new bikes (set for release in early 2007, Europe next month) and toured the assembly plant with V.P. of Technology, Peter S. Hughes. Below is our report — but stay tuned for more on Vectrix and other electric bikes hitting the scene in the next six months.
It should also be noted that all comments in this video are expressed by Groovy Green and are not the opinions of Vectrix Corp. There are also some corrections to the video: 1.) Vectrix is in fact not a European company, but an American one. 2.) The price of the Vectrix Maxi-Scooter is not $8,000 but $11,000.
We’ve moved on from the rough and tumble eco neighborhood of GroovyGreen and have setup shop in Hollywood as an independent entity known simply as www.ecorazzi.com (previously known as http://ecorazz.groovygreen.com–but our agent didn’t think it would come across that well on-screen) Sadly, that means we will no longer be updating this domain. Sure, we’ll keep our older news posted here for archives sake, but if you want to know why Leo is shaving his legs to save the whales (he isn’t, but if he ever does) you should hit www.ecorazzi.com for the latest. So…What are you waiting for?
News from the EPA:
“EPA is the first and only major federal agency to purchase green power equal to 100 percent of its estimated annual electricity use nationwide.
As of September 2006, EPA will be purchasing nearly 300 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of green power annually in the form of renewable energy certificates (RECs) or delivered product. This amount is equal to 100 percent of the total estimated annual electricity consumption at all of EPA’s nearly 200 facilities across the country enough electricity to power 27,084 homes for an entire year.”
“616,279,179 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will be avoided annually the equivalent to removing 53,824 cars from the road for an entire year.”
I think this is good news, now if the rest of the U.S. Government will follow the example of the EPA we will see some huge changes… something tells me this may be a ways off.
First Pluto gets demoted, and now I find out that a new ocean was created back in 2000. Who else missed this? Sure, Pluto gets tons of newspaper coverage, but nodoby even bothered to make a big deal that portions of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian were combined to create the Southern Ocean back in 2000.
“The Southern Ocean extends from the coast of Antarctica north to 60 degrees south latitude. The Southern Ocean is now the fourth largest of the world’s five oceans (after the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, and Indian Ocean, but larger than the Arctic Ocean).”
Let’s hope this particular ocean stays in the fourth position and doesn’t creep up due to melting icecaps and disappearing sea ice. The sea temperature of the Southern Ocean varies from -2°C to 10°C (28°F to 50°F). It’s home to the world’s largest ocean current, the Antarctic Circumpolar Current that moves east and transports 100 times the flow of all the world’s rivers.
Anyways, there’s your new fact for the day. There are now five oceans.