Tag Archive

Biome Smart Terrarium for Gadget-Loving Green Thumbs

ByGroovy Green Nov 29, 2011

A sign of the times – but one that may be welcome from the digitally connected among us – is this smart terrarium concept by designer Samuel Wilkinson.

Called the “Biome”, the beautiful flora terrarium is controlled exclusively (climate, water level and nutrients) via your iPad or other smartphone device. Wilkinson told MocoLogo that the idea “promotes ‘digital downtime’ by finding an alternative use for smartphones and encouraging their owners to consider a slower life. The control and nurturing of a real mini eco-system takes patience and care, contrasting with the immediacy of messaging or tweeting that is so characteristic of the smartphone generation.”

Biome was developed for a recent exhibition titled “Slow Tech – Designs for Digital Downtime”. There’s no word yet on if the Biome or its companion app will ever see the light of day as a real product

Urban Farming, The New Way to Handle Unemployment?

ByGroovy Green May 17, 2011

Depending on which figures you choose to use, unemployment in America is approaching 20%, a figure that is quite remarkable.  Fully 1/5 of the people in America who could be working are not currently working.  I think urban farming could be this generation’s way to handle unemployment, sort of like a 2011 version of the CCC.

When you are willing to trade your labor for less space and less machinery you can create an amazing income from a small land base.  SPIN farming is a method developed by a farming couple in Canada when they realized that they could make more money by growing intensively on less land if they grew the right crops at the right times.

They have a farm income calculator on their site that suggests that a farmer with 1/2 an acre can generate $24,000 in gross sales on the low end up to $72,000 on the high end.  I think this is doable as well, but it does require a bit more marketing and growing of high value crops.  We use a CSA model for our urban farm and I don’t think that will get us to those dollar figures because a CSA model is similar to a bulk food model vs. a model where you would grow exclusively high value crops like exotic green, radishes or beets for restaurants.

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Coming Next Week – College Bloggers

ByGroovy Green Nov 13, 2010

Students from SUNY-ESF will be taking over Groovy Green next week.  Get the perspective of the future environmental leaders of America (and places beyond).

Come back and see us next week, starting Thursday 11/18/10 and see what they have to say.

Review: The Book of Rubbish Ideas

ByGroovy Green Feb 21, 2010

The Book of Rubbish Ideas is anything but rubbish. It is FULL of excellent tips to help eco-newbies and hard-core Greens see rubbish as a resource, cut down on waste, and save time, money and resources as a result.

Don’t be put off by the quirky cover; author, Tracey Smith, a contented downshifter, aims to take the freaky out of eco, and her book is accessible, practical and positive. There’s no holier-than-thou attitude to reusable nappies, washable sanpro and chicken-keeping; we are encouraged to ditch the guilt for what we are not doing and start feeling good about what we are doing.

Tracey takes you on a tour through the average family home, from bedroom and bathroom through to the kitchen and out into the garden, including the Usually Male Domain of shed and garage, which so often get missed out where decluttering’s concerned.

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IZIP Trekking Enlightened Hybrid-Electric Bike: First Impressions

ByGroovy Green Jul 16, 2009

If you’ve ever lived in or visited Ithaca, NY your probably familiar with the phrase “Ithaca is gorges”. It’s a funny little saying that gives a good indication of the region’s topography — hills, hills, and steeper hills. In fact, the inclines we have around here would make even Lance Armstrong break a sweat. So, it was with great expectation that I took advantage of an opportunity to review the IZIP Trekking Enlightened hybrid-electric bicycle from Currie Technologies. Could it be possible to bike to work and not immediately have to take another shower?

I’m still figuring that out — and will have a full review shortly — but so far, I have to say that I’m very impressed with the technology being utilized in this bike. First off, this isn’t one of those bikes that you hit a switch and kick back while the electric motors putts you along. The IZIP instead is an electric-assist — giving you some extra torque to help you up some tough inclines. To that end, you still have to pedal. The beauty of this system is that you can choose to have it on or off — or at different levels of assist. About to hit a hill and want some support? Simply press the “+” button on the left handlebar and watch the LCD indicator light a few bars higher. Want to back off? Hit the “-” button. It’s as simple as that — and believe me, you still get a workout.

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Worm Bins: Three Effective Wiggly Composting Machines

ByGroovy Green Jun 2, 2009

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

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

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Is it Time to Sign Up for E-billing?

ByGroovy Green Jan 14, 2009

Ebillplace.com released a video recently discussing some of the environmental impact of replacing your paper bills with electronic bills.  I was surprised by the impact and just had to share.

· Eliminating the mail Americans receive in one day could produce enough energy to heat 250,000 homes.

· Every year, producing and transporting paper checks has the same environmental impact as burning 674 million gallons of fuel. That’s 1,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools full of gas, oil and diesel fuel.

· If every American turned off just one paper bill, it would save enough paper to stack as tall as 1,000 Empire State buildings.

Personal Review of ASPO-USA: Day 1

ByGroovy Green Sep 23, 2008

[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.

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The Neuton Electric Lawn Mower Kicks Some Serious Grass

ByGroovy Green Sep 10, 2008

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.

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Why Off-Shore Drilling Won’t Make A Dent in U.S. Consumption – Graphically Presented

ByGroovy Green Sep 10, 2008

usoilconsumption

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.

Utah Residents and Businesses Do Not Own the Water that Falls on Their Property

ByGroovy Green Sep 4, 2008

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”.

An Interview With Bob Waldrop

ByGroovy Green Aug 25, 2008

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?

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Creative, Eco-Friendly Custom Cardboard Coffins Are Just A Click Away

ByGroovy Green Jul 11, 2008

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.

King Corn – Now Available via iTunes

ByGroovy Green Jun 15, 2008

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:

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Massachusetts Bakery Distributes Wheat Berries for Customers to Grow in Their Yards

ByGroovy Green May 2, 2008

Probably the coolest story in the “local food” movement that I’ve heard yet. A bakery in Massachusetts has started to distribute wheat berries (seeds) to customers to plant 100 sq. ft. plots of wheat in their yards. They plan a hand-scythed harvest in the summer. I think that this is a great idea, and it will be interesting to see how productive the 10 x 10 plots of “front yard” wheat are.

There is an NPR podcast here. And this local news story from The Recorder gives more detail:

Jonathan Stevens and Cheryl Maffei of Hungry Ghost Bakery became interested in what some are calling their ‘little red hen’ idea of giving people wheat seeds to grow locally after a New Mexico baker at a conference eight or nine years ago introduced them to bread made from locally grown grain.

Instead of baking with organic flour grown in North Dakota that gets trucked to North Carolina for milling, Stevens said, it makes much more sense to look at growing wheat and other grains nearby and milling it locally — especially since Massachusetts is believed to have been the site of North America’s first oat harvest — on the Elizabeth Islands — in 1602.

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Feeding The Suburbs

ByGroovy Green Apr 17, 2008

This is the last story in our series from Wendy.

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This evening, after I read Andrew Lost on the Dog to Precious, I sat back in my bedroom and thumbed through the March/April edition of World Ark, the magazine published by Heifer International. What struck me as I read through the articles was the statistic “85% of all farms worldwide are smaller than five acres” (15). Several articles, cited the fact that most subsistence farms in Third World countries are very small – some even as small as mine.

I was surprised.

I have a book someone gave me entitled Five Acres and Independence. I’ve had it for a while, and having that book seemed to reinforce my (mistaken) notion that in order to be self-sufficient, I needed an acreage. I needed land, lots of land and the starry sky above ….

At any rate, a 1/4 acre wasn’t going to do it.

I didn’t know that a large portion of the world’s farmers are working land that isn’t much bigger than the average American suburban lot.

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Love Thy Neighbor

ByGroovy Green Apr 16, 2008

Another in our series from Wendy.

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I had a rather nomadic childhood. For the first eight years of my life, we moved at a rate of about once a year. Then, we were settled for about five years, but we moved again just before I started high school, and then, four years later, when I graduated from high school, I lived a transient life as a college student. Four years later, when I received my Bachelor’s degree, I moved for the next seven years, at about the same frequency as I did for the first eight years of my life – packing up my entire household and relocating every two to eighteen months.

Then, I moved with Deus Ex Machina, our two month old daughter, eight month old chow-chow puppy, and three year old iguana to Maine.

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The Sustainable Suburbs: Self-Sufficiency

ByGroovy Green Apr 15, 2008

Another in our series from Wendy. This one is about being self sufficient on a small plot, and if you really need to be.

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Someone told me recently that I could never be self-sufficient on my quarter acre suburban lot here in southern Maine. I don’t have enough land, and I can’t build a greenhouse.

Maybe. Maybe she’s right. But just maybe ….

My hero, Dolly Freed, lived on a 1/2 acre 40 miles from Philadelphia. She and her father weren’t “self-sufficient”, in that they did depend on outside sources for electricity, water, some food items, and clothing.

The folks at Path To Freedom aren’t self-sufficient, either. They buy bulk grains for themselves, feed for their livestock, clothing, and toiletry item ingredients (they make their own, but don’t produce the ingredients on their land).

Both of those examples are people who have very little land, compared to, say the settlers in the late 1890s, who were given 160 acres, but both of those examples are also people who live with very few “modern” conveniences on very small pieces of land with very small sums of money. In fact, their incomes likely fall well below what is considered the Federal Poverty level, and by our money-centric standards should be living in squalor.

If you think so, please do spend some time at the Urban Homestead. It’s anything but squalor. They even have a televsion, although I don’t believe they watch it very often, and they, obviously, have an Internet connection. While you’re at it, you should also, really, try to find a copy of Possum Living. It’s amazing what can be done, and how little cash one actually needs to live a very fulfilling life.

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The Sustainable Suburbs: Fowl Language

ByGroovy Green Apr 14, 2008

Another story in our series from Wendy. This one has some nuts and bolts about the cost of keeping chickens in your backyard.

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I live in the suburbs. Mine may not be a “typical” suburban neighborhood – my house was not part of a “planned” subdivision, although a subdivision plan was filed with the town for the road on which I live.

There’s also a planned subdivision across the road from me. The house lots are each a 1/2 acre. There’s another planned subdivision going in right down the road from me. I know the owner of the property. He’s my neighbor and owns the garden center next door.

About a 1/2 mile up the road from me is another family who also has chickens. I think they might also have bees.

This is a residential area. It’s a suburb. With the exception of my home business, the few other home-based workers and the garden center, there are no shops or other stores – just a bunch of houses from Route One until the grocery store that is the beginning of the town proper.

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There Was No Fat Lady Singing

ByGroovy Green Apr 13, 2008

The next in our series from Wendy.

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We watched the movie The End of Suburbia last night. I’ve been waiting a long time to see the film, but after having seen it, I’m actually glad that I didn’t have the opportunity to see it sooner. I like the timing of it all. Here, I’ve planned this series of posts about why we should stay in suburbia, and then the movie comes in the mail. It seems almost too fortuitous, almost fated.

Deus Ex Machina wasn’t as enthusiastic about the movie as I was (when he saw what it was he grumpled something about it being more of that fundamentalist crap). I asked Deus Ex Machina what he thought about the film after we watched it, and his response was, “They didn’t say anything new.”

Basically, the movie was a history of how our country adopted a suburban mindset. The original idea behind the suburb was to give city-dwellers the opportunity to move outside of the crowded and dirty environment of the newly industrialized cities into a cleaner community, usually consisting of residential housing with no industry or retail outlets within close proximity to where people lived. The hope was to give people a “taste” of country living.

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Pass The Scoop, I Likes Me Some Ice Cream With My Cake

ByGroovy Green Apr 12, 2008

The next in our series from Wendy.

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I was supposed to be commenting on the Suburban Lawn of the Future, but I’m having trouble with that topic.

Ask me why.

Okay, I’ll tell you.

I live in Maine, and right now we’re under a foot-deep, concrete-hard blanket of ice and snow, which is not unusual for February in Maine, but it makes thinking about what my garden might look like in the spring a little difficult. Some of my favorite bloggers are starting seeds right now, and from my experience as a gardener in this part of the country, it’s still too early to even do that. The traditional planting date for Maine is Memorial Day – still three full months away (and I learned the hard way not to flout the wisdom of waiting until then).

Instead I hope I can talk convincingly about why, if you already live in the suburbs, keeping your house is a better option than running wildly into the woods, and I’ll be making the assumption that your house in the suburbs carries a mortgage AND that if you found a house in the country, you would also have a mortgage.

In a survival situation, experts stress that the first order of business is finding shelter. Most people freak out and rush around trying to get food. Read More

A Rose by Any Other Name

ByGroovy Green Apr 11, 2008

The next installment in our series from Wendy.

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What is a suburb?

As I was thinking about this post, I started having a really hard time defining what a suburb is. I mean, we all know what it is, right? It’s a planned, homogenized community with plastic-looking houses and artificially green lawns sporting pink flamingoes and rusty swingsets.

But if my goal is to defend suburban life and explain why I think people who live in suburbs have as good a chance of surviving the apocalypse as the people in the country who have a bajillion acres of land and an abundance of natural resources at their disposal, or people in the city who can combine or eschew resources such as transportation and heating, I can’t very well use that definition :) .

I googled the term and found this definition: town or unincorporated developed area close to a city. Suburbs, since they are largely residential, are usually dependent on a city for employment and support services and are generally characterized by low-density development relative to the city.

I think that pretty well explains what a suburb is, but again, if suburban dwellers are “dependent” on the city for support services and employment, then any illusion of self-sufficiency is immediately negated, by definition.

In short, by using either definition, when it comes to the apocalypse, we suburbanites are screwed.

So, let’s focus on what suburbanites have that is unique to their particular habitat, and might, with a little imagination, be used to their advantage.

1. Suburban homes have a yard space, usually between 10,000 and 40,000 sq ft. Not a lot, but more sometimes just means “more”, which isn’t always better.

2. Suburbs are “close” to amenities. While “close” really is subjective, and some people would say that anything within a 50 mile radius qualifies, I (and most of my suburban neighbors) would classify close as within walking distance. It would take me two to three hours to walk to Portland. It would take about an hour to walk to downtown Biddeford (Portland and Biddeford are the largest and the fifth largest cities in the state of Maine, respectively).

3. Suburban homes are usually single-family homes. People who escape to the suburbs want to have some sense of privacy, but recognize that being interdependent might not be such a bad thing.

4. Suburbs do not, typically, have any businesses (except for the occasional “home business”, that usually doesn’t attract on-site clients).

In other words:

If you measure your property by square feet rather than acres, you might be a suburbanite.

If you need extra storage space to house your lawn care apparatus and outdoor furniture, you might be a suburbanite.

If you live close enough to school to walk, but far enough away for them to send the bus, you might be a surburbanite.

If the only bus that comes to your neighborhood is the school bus, you might be a suburbanite.

If you could walk to town for the gallon of milk you need, but choose to drive, because it’s more than a mile, and that’s just too far to walk with those little kids, BUT you don’t think twice about putting on your sneakers and dropping little Sally into the jogging stroller and walking around the neighborhood for some exercise, you might be a suburbanite.

If you drive more than two miles, but less than ten, to buy plastic crap from China, you might be a suburbanite.

If there is no “corner store” in your neighborhood, you might be a suburbanite.

If you’re close enough to see the dirt on your neighbors’ windows, but need binoculars to see what’s on their big screen television, you might be a surburbanite.

If there is anything called a cul-de-sac in your immediate neighborhood, you might be a surburbanite.

If you live in a cul-de-sac … you are a suburbanite.

Avoid the extremes and converge in the middle.

That’s the suburbs.

Suburbs are the happy medium between country life and city life.

Up Next: Mary, Mary Quite Contrary: The Suburban Lawn of the Future

Oh, Give Me a Home…

ByGroovy Green Apr 9, 2008

Wendy, who writes an interesting blog, has been working through the pros and cons of living in the suburbs as we approach the Peak Oil energy descent. What I find most compelling about his discussions is that she is like any of us. She’s struggling to figure out if the suburbs are her home, or if she needs a house and some land to survive. While she talks about it she walks you through her thinking. Whether you agree with it or not, she make some compelling arguments. She has been kind enough to allow us to bring her serious of posts over to our site to share with a bigger world, which I will be doing over the next few days.

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Today was a holiday. Seriously. It’s like President’s Day or something, I think. Anyway, my client’s office wasn’t open today, which means my normal “work day” was spent doing not much of anything. I sat on the computer most of the day … well, not “on” the computer, because that would have been very uncomfortable, and, well, I’m not sure my computer would have been able to support my weight – not that I’m big or anything.

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The Green Picture: Amazing Recycled Drift Wood Horses

ByGroovy Green Apr 2, 2008

If you looked quick enough, you might be mistaken that this is a real horse. Instead, it’s a sculpture put together with pieces of recycled driftwood. The work is the result of artist Heather Jansch — who specializes in art created with driftwood and bronze.

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.

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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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.

City Sues Man For Reducing Waste, Cancelling Garbage Pickup

ByGroovy Green Jan 30, 2008

53 year-old Eddie House was proud of his efforts to reduce his waste. Being concerned for the environment, the single bachelor found that his sustainable habits left him with near-zero garbage. With nothing left to throw out that couldn’t be recycled or composted, he did what any individual might do to go the next mile: canceled his garbage service. As a reward for reducing his impact on the planet, House received a lawsuit from the San Carlos Deputy City Attorney claiming he was in violation of not maintaining garbage service. Wow. From the article,

The lawsuit claims House broke the city’s municipal code requiring all residential, commercial and industrial properties to contract with Allied Waste for pickup at least once a week — a standard requirement in most cities, San Carlos Deputy City Manager Brian Moura said. “It’s just me and my dog, so I don’t have a whole lot of garbage to begin with and I recycle everything,” he said.
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Philips’ 42-inch Eco TV Is Perfect For Your Off-Grid Home

ByGroovy Green Jan 8, 2008

It doesn’t come in green, but Philips’ new 42-inch Eco TV is certainly sporting some earth-friendly credentials.

Announced at CES 2008, this television is packed with power-saving features; something a few of my off-grid friends might find interesting when considering their next (or first) television. From the article,

“Chief among them is the ability to dim the backlight–by up to five times peak brightness–in response to program material, much like the “local dimming” found on Samsung’s LED-based LN-T4681F. Dimming the backlight in darker scenes has the dual benefit of saving power and improving black-level performance, according to the company. The backlight can also be dimmed via a room lighting sensor, so in dark rooms it will use less power. There’s also traditional a “power-saving” mode that caps the peak light output.”

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The Cup Lasso Turns Water Bottles Into Appealing Vases

ByGroovy Green Jan 8, 2008

I always enjoy creative fixes to environmental eyesores. Take for instance this concept for a slip-on cover made from wool felt for water bottles. Called the Cup Lasso, it effectively turns what might otherwise simply be recycled into a suddenly useful and appealing vase for flowers. Nice, right? The concept comes from Orcadesign’s “GreenHouse Effect” project — which explores 10 concepts for eco-friendly living with aesthetic appeal.

The Roots Of Freeganism Part I: Food Waste

ByGroovy Green Dec 28, 2007

Freeganism, the philosophy of non-participation in the capitalist economy through minimization of what one buys, has been getting heaps of press lately, with outlets as high-rolling as the New York Times and the Washington Post running pieces on the subject. But while much recent media coverage focuses on what it’s like to live as a freegan, I’m interested in the forces that freegans are reacting to, and the realities that allow them to sustain their lifestyles. In this four part series, I’ll be examining these questions by looking at food waste, disposable culture, modern work, and the state of community in America.

One night in late November, in the courtyard of a community center in Bushwick, Brooklyn, a bread mountain was constructed. It measured about four feet tall and 10 feet in diameter, the product of a few nights of dumpster diving throughout New York City. Hundreds of rolls, pumpernickel loaves and baguettes lay stacked in various states of edibility, but like so much wasted food in New York City, they would never make it to the people that needed them most.

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Green Ideas We’d Like To See: The Wind Shade Roof

ByGroovy Green Oct 30, 2007

Architect designer Michael Jantzen has created a green oasis of sorts with his wind shade roof concept. Basically, it’s a large oval roof clad in wind turbines that powers whatever is under or around the structure.The particular roof in these concept photos is shown covering a large swimming pool. The integrated turbines would provide power for night lighting, pool maintenance, pumps, temperature control, etc. These would also make really cool pavilions, say, for farmers markets or other functions.

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.

One Trillion Reasons To Invest In Clean, Green Energy

ByGroovy Green Oct 18, 2007

U.S. Bank Morgan Stanley has estimated that global sales from clean energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal power and biofuels could grow to as much as $1 trillion a year by 2030. In the meantime, the market may hit $505 billion in sales by 2020 — almost 9 times the level in 2005. Not a bad idea to invest, right?

Well, maybe. While it’s a sure bet that renewable energy will grow in percentage sales of global energy sources; there’s no telling how rapid or sustained such growth might be. Morgan Stanley was clear to indicate that current numbers are based on bullish investments, the rising value of oil, and current worldwide concerns over global warming. A change in any number of these factors could affect the industry. From the article,

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But eating local is so expensive…

ByGroovy Green Oct 4, 2007

Really? Here is a picture of a few things I picked up yesterday. 6 butternut squash. 1 hubbard squash and 15 pounds of sweet potatoes. Set me back $29.

The ad flyer for my local grocery store lists butternut squash at $.49 per pound. I have 27 pounds in my pictures. That works out to $13.23 for the squash. (No comparison for hubbard’s so I included it with the butternut squashes)

In the same ad sweet potatoes are listed at $.69 per pound for a total of $10.35.

Total cost at the store is $23.58. Total cost from the farmer is $29. The difference is that in my case the farmer got the entire $29 instead of a wholesale percentage of the cost.

From the same farmer I also have on order 75 lbs of potatoes. They’ll cost me about $30. That works out to $.40 a pound compared to a sale price in the ad flyer of $.26.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ll gladly pay that slight premium for fresh local foods that support farmer’s more. The squashes I purchased had just been picked yesterday morning. Now that’s fresh!

Blind People Appeal To Automakers For Noisier Hybrids, Electric Vehicles

ByGroovy Green Oct 3, 2007

A couple months ago, I casually wrote a post wondering aloud if quiet hybrids and electric cars would be a hazard to pedestrians who are visually disabled. After all, it’s quite easy to hear a combustion engine from a distance. Many commenters bashed the post saying that it was stupid to suggest adding some type of small noise to the vehicles. Apparently, these people were not blind.

Today, the Baltimore-based National Federation of the Blind will present written testimony asking for a minimum sound standard for hybrids to be included in the state’s emissions regulations. As the President of the group, Marc Maurer, mentioned, he’s not interested in returning to gas-guzzling vehicles, they just want fuel-efficient hybrids to have some type of warning noise. From the article,

“‘I don’t want to pick that way of going, but I don’t want to get run over by a quiet car, either,’ Maurer said.

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New York City Launches Bicycling Awarness Campaign – Look

ByGroovy Green Sep 29, 2007

Last week, the LOOK campaign – which aims to educate the public about bike safety – was launched in Union Square. In an unprecedented collaboration, the NYC Bicycle Coalition, the City Departments of Transportation, Health & Police, the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission, the Triple AAA, and the Office of the Public Advocate all endorsed the campaign.

StreetFilms personally loves the ads appearing in TimeOutNY and New York Magazine as well as city bus shelters. They are creative and handsome; they stop you in your tracks.

The LOOK campaign ads were created pro-bono by Publicis in Seattle

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: