Grist A community for the environmentally-conscious! <![CDATA[Gardening Quick Tip by BaronSamedi3]]> Sun, 9 Sep 2012 18:59:23 +0000 <![CDATA[ What's your story?]]>
Why do we all take photos? We mortals love to share stories. For some (minority), perhaps they want to create art. Although art is only art after the public acknowledge it as one (either during or after the creator's life). 

With technology at the forefront of our lives today, everyone or anyone can be taking snapshot of photos. Although, when it comes to the term photography, it tends to be associated with some degree of technique and creativity rather than mere photo taking (just as a 5 year old can learn to do). At least that's how I perceived the term photography. There ought to be some skill and talent involved...

There are many approaches to photography. In the past, the subject matter was mostly landscapes. Then with the advent of digital photography where many things can be "manipulated", the tendency now appears to be for people and animal images. Nature still is a favorite for those who are endowed with an abundance of national parks and beautiful landscapes in their backyards. For many who work and live in the cities though, due to its limitation, some prefer to focus on people and architecture instead. 

With the introduction of Facebook, I found myself taking more of photos of people and food. Yes, food is a BIG hit. One can almost guarantee viewership when it comes to sharing food. People simply love food! This is quite a new theme. In the past, when it comes to films, I don't recall seeing as many pictures of food as today. I tried googled for food images and I found a massive 9.84 billion! Curious, I tried people and it returns a result of only 1.37 billion while the word landscape generates only a mere 16.8 million images! So, yes, we are fascinated and obsessed by FOOD!

With the spreading of social medias, sites like Facebook and Flickr have brought photography to the forefront of human interactions and relationships. Social media is shaping the life cycle of photography and even our voice communication! Many 5 year old surprisingly take decent photos. However, the more of it we have in our current world, the less of us can make a decent living out of it. Standards and demands for professional photography (as well as amateur) have improved tremendously. The question though is... what set a photo out from the rest? What's your view on this? I'd be curious to find out!

To me personally, it's one that involves patience and focus in the creator as well as a work that tells an appealing story; one that induces an impulse, emotional response or a lifestyle association which I am compelled to act on. That's true photography to me! It doesn't have to be professional or commercial, it does has to be one that has some form of meaning we as individual can attached to. Thereby, my conclusion that it is now a wonderful form of story telling. ]]> Sun, 22 Jan 2012 06:46:14 +0000
<![CDATA[Cloth Diapers Quick Tip by JadeLouiseDesigns]]> Fri, 30 Sep 2011 07:48:05 +0000 <![CDATA[Thirsties Diaper Pail Liner Quick Tip by JadeLouiseDesigns]]> Fri, 30 Sep 2011 07:45:15 +0000 <![CDATA[Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook Quick Tip by Michaela_Renee]]> Wed, 3 Aug 2011 23:31:53 +0000 <![CDATA[ Oh, the Books You can Read!]]>
That may sound like a common statement, but in my case it's quite a generous compliment. I'm one of those heartless, evil libertarians rightists keep saying are unpatriotic and leftists keep saying are racist. (And no, I'm not especially unpatriotic or racist. I can see the angle on the first one because I think nationalistic traditions are given far more relevance than they need and I hate the idea of needing papers to travel or live in the country. But I consider the latter a form of libel and WILL sue anyone who seriously applies it to me.) That means I want my taxes as low as possible and have a deeply rooted streak of government distrust, so I take even the policies I agree on with a grain of salt.

Public libraries are of of the very few aspects of government I accept without question. I credit my parents with encouraging me to read and teaching me to do it well, but it's public libraries which are the unlimited source for me to actually read just about anything I want. I write a small independent blog about baseball literature called Lit Bases (, and I cull nearly all of my material for it from libraries. I wish the libraries would get the new material faster, but I otherwise have access to a lot of titles and hard to find books on baseball.

Yes, reading a ton of baseball books definitely leaves a little bit of burnout on the subject, which is why it's also important that I can grab books on virtually any other subject. I read a lot of classics - Hemingway, Dickens, Twain, Updike, Vonnegut - all authors whose work I schooled myself in through expansive use of libraries. In the main branch of the Chicago library system, there are various quotes by certain people espousing the virtues of reading. One of them by a person whose name escapes me says the Chicago Public Library is his alma mater. That is a well-spoken statement, and one with which I completely agree, except mine would also include the Buffalo library system.

Having used two different library systems, it amazes me that this simple concept can differ in so many little ways. In Buffalo, I can accrue fines up to ten dollars before they shut down my account. In Chicago, your account will be shut down if you're just a single day late with a few cents of a fine to pay. In Chicago, they let you borrow music CDs for three weeks. In Buffalo, you get them for just one.

CD's. That's another thing. You can borrow CD's from libraries, and movies too. You do have to be careful about them, though, because they often carry much heavier fines than the books. Also, they tend to be scratched up a lot sometimes, which always amazes me because I don't think a journey from a case to a player is a particularly difficult one which would result in injuries.

There are more books on this planet than there are libraries, so it's not merely possible but in fact quite likely that a library may not own any copies of a certain book. In this case, you can order the book you're looking for from a different library and have it sent to the branch you usually visit. I like this idea because it ensures a constant flow of reading material that interests me.

Yes, libraries have their problems, but it's foolish to consider anything perfect. Public libraries perform a valuable service. Without the wealth of reading material I've borrowed from public libraries, I probably wouldn't be a libertarian. How's that for irony?]]> Thu, 23 Jun 2011 11:54:16 +0000
<![CDATA[Reusable Shopping Bag Quick Tip by devora]]> Mon, 13 Jun 2011 19:24:10 +0000 <![CDATA[ Community Gardens: Redefining the Phrase "Plow the Roads!"]]>
Part of the reason I did the project was because I believe in the idea of community gardens. If you want to ensure that your vegetables are being grown completely naturally, there is no better way to do that then growing them yourself. In an otherwise small and ugly little driveway, we were able to grow a wide variety of vegetables which included tomatoes, eggplants, mint, cucumbers, peas, and kale which we then used to enhance our traditional Sunday dinners.

You might have noticed that I said we grew these veggies in a driveway. That wasn't a typo. One of the great things about community gardens is they can go a long distance in prettying up even the ugliest urban blight. To build a garden in a wrecked driveway, you need a bit more than just the dirt pile you can find in many undeveloped alleys. It requires you to physically build the beds out of wood, but it's entirely possible once you're able to get the proper placements for right amount of sunlight exposure and a decent source of water. Yes, you do have to water these gardens, especially if the summer is unbearably hot.

As I mentioned, community gardens are the best way to ensure your vegetables are natural. Most community gardeners are organaphiles, so they don't use any growth enhancers, plant foods, or pesticides.

An unexpected bonus of community gardening is how great a bonding and outreach activity it can be. It's easy to meet and get to know a lot of different people, especially when the project is still being conceived and built. At Wicker Park Grace, we shared our building with a lot of other businesses and we let anyone who was in the building take whatever crops they wanted if they felt inclined to do so.

Unfortunately, larger city governments (and by that I mean city governments that are intrusive, not governments in larger cities) are starting to notice this phenomenon, and some of them are a little uncomfortable with it, probably because community gardening has so far left them unable to collect their precious, ill-gotten tax money. When I moved back to Buffalo a few months ago, I was horrified to discover that the city was starting to push gardeners around for not having permits. The idea of taxing gardens or needing permits to set them up is not just excessively stupid, it's also socially irresponsible because some community gardeners might not be able to afford permits or higher taxes.

Cities taking money from community gardens is an idea which needs to be fought to the last, because community gardens are worth fighting for.]]> Mon, 13 Jun 2011 14:55:50 +0000
<![CDATA[Reusable Shopping Bag Quick Tip by BaronSamedi3]]> Wed, 8 Jun 2011 15:37:34 +0000 <![CDATA[Bottled Water Quick Tip by BaronSamedi3]]> Sat, 28 May 2011 15:20:56 +0000 <![CDATA[ Walk On]]>
At first thought, walking would seem to be ideal for quite a bit of the average joe's average day. It certainly has its uses, but how much you can feasibly depend on walking is pretty circumstantial.

If you walk for exercise, there is a certain way you have to do it. That certain way is to place one foot in front of the other very rapidly, or else you're not burning many calories, and you certainly won't be building muscle. You will only be taking a light stroll, and the only way that can really benefit your body is if you happen to live in an area with a lot of steep slants and inclines so the feeling of walking up and down a lot of stairs can be at least somewhat simulated.

Location is also the key to how useful walking can be as a form of transportation. It's just fine if you live within a short radius of the sources of your living necessities - say a mile or so. Walking from one place to another is slow going, and it can take hours to go relatively short distances that a car or a bus or a bicycle can cover within a matter of minutes. Walking for long distance travel is out of the question is out of the question unless there is literally nothing else on your agenda. But it's not impossible - there are a lot of proponents of long-distance walking who use this simple means to go from one place to another, and they turn the walk itself into an opportunity to sightsee. Acclaimed filmmaker Werner Herzog is among these proponents - he once walked from Brazil to California.

People like that are exceptional cases, though, and if you're trying to walk for practical purposes while living in a rich, far-off suburb or whathaveyou, you can forget having a ton of free time. If you live rurally, it's impossible. Practical walking is best suited to urban environments or speed walking for exercise.]]> Wed, 25 May 2011 15:29:56 +0000
<![CDATA[Recycling Quick Tip by BaronSamedi3]]> Tue, 17 May 2011 15:29:26 +0000 <![CDATA[ We CAN make the difference together]]> April 22, 1970 was the first designated Earth Day and was also the 100th anniversary of Vladimir Lenin, the Russian Marxist Revolutionary and Creator of the Soviet Communist Party. Coincidence? Some think not, which along with being sponsored by many "liberal organizations" across the globe as well as liberals across our country, created a polarization in the minds of conservatives for this new "holiday" celebrating Mother Earth and our duty to help protect her from destruction by her very children she helped sponsor – us. While rhetoric dominated early Earth Days, much of that rhetoric has disappeared recently and been replaced by much less controversial "Green" talk.
Even if you are the most conservative (a synonym for evil in liberal speak) person in the world, there has been a weakening of resolve to resist this 40 year old tradition which has become accepted by almost everyone. The newer "Green" talk has leaned more towards stewardship of our resources and drifted further from placing blame on mankind for killing his/her "mother". While there is some polarization, the "holiday" has found more acceptance in our American Society than would have ever been thought possible 40 years ago. I am here to suggest that it is time for conservatives to "belly up to the bar" and embrace this yearly observation and take this celebration to a new level. I am also here to suggest that liberals make room for their new partners. Let us all, liberal, conservatives, progressives, or whatever you want to call yourself, amass arm in arm to help change our antiquated systems of energy production and use and let's start with recycling.
Recycling has crept into our society slowly but is pervasive in our daily routines at home. "Honey, take out the garbage." has slowly been replaced with "Honey, take out the recycling."! We sort cans from bottles and cardboard from paper and place it on the curb for our recycling trucks to pick up and take to the recycling center. But that same attitude has not yet made much of a dent in our business lives. While there are exceptions to the rule, much of our recyclables end up in the same trash can at the end of the day. We throw our paper in with our cardboard boxes which are combined in with our plastic bottles and maybe, just maybe, we take out our aluminum cans, store them separately and call that recycling. I say it is time for a change and I further pronounce that it is time for conservatives to take the lead!
Why conservatives? Why not? Liberals and progressives are more mentally there. While I don't think that translates into actions much of the time, at least they would come along if conservatives took the lead. Let's take a look at two of the biggest traditions in America today – Christmas and Easter. Both come from pagan traditions that encompassed our Christian beliefs and intermingled until we have a hard time separating pagan from Christian.

To start, the dates for both are more pagan than Christian. The Bible never defines that actual date of Jesus' birth, so what did we do, we made one up! And since we are making one up, why not bring in traditions that would bring in our non Christian friends. Let's make Christmas near the winter solstice (return of the sun) just before the new year so that those who celebrate those traditions would join in with our celebration of Jesus' birth. Why not incorporate the Yule log and the bringing inside a tree, mistletoe, and many other pagan rituals into this new holiday celebrating the birth of our savior. Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox. Does that even sound traditionally religious? Coloring eggs and even the word "Easter" come from pagan traditions that predate Christ.
What's my point here? My point is that many beautiful and meaningful and very religious services have been held on these days to celebrate very religious historical events. Christians didn't balk at who started what when. They co-opted the dates and took it over largely forgetting the past history! I say it is time for conservatives to do the same with Earth Day. Co-opt the day. Co-opt the traditions and push it further. Make Earth Day "RECYCLE DAY"! At work show everyone that conservatives are good stewards of the resources they are accused of exploiting for personal gain. Make Earth day a day when everyone finds ways to make this a better world for our heirs to inherit. Conservatives, make Earth Day yours and the rest of the world will fall in line.]]> Tue, 10 May 2011 17:34:58 +0000
<![CDATA[ I know about Pay Day. Earth Day?!?!?!]]>
Every day should be an Earth Day, a Father's Day, a Birthday... not a designated day or 1 out of 365 days. These are people who are important to us and in the case of the Earth, it's our survival and existence. Yet, we remember to go to work at least 5 days a week. Since when work is so much more important than tending to these people and places? Why do we need a day to remind us of the beauty and appreciation of them?!

Granted, work gets paid, i.e. we love PAY DAY more than any other day, don't we? The society has reached a stage whereby without the $ sign, nothing can be done! The world has become mercenary. We actually need a day whereby we have a HUMAN DAY. You know, where we can take a bus trip for free for a start, where we can eat a small meal or a simple one to feed our hungry stomach for free. Big organizations and profitable ones where they pay their executives and CEOs millions and even hundred of millions ought to give this to the society or sponsor a day where people can get a meal or a bus ride for free! That's what I'd like to see society celebrates. Think of AIA which paid its CEO $300+ millions (annually!) for bonuses. Think banks which made those money from us but only give back to its shareholders and not to those who are homeless or in hunger. More could have been done by businesses. Naturally, it's not for everyone but if no one starts such a mission, then the world will never ever follow!

Take note that this is not charity like what many foundations are doing. This is just a way to tell the society that there are still things that can be had for free in the world. I certainly won't want to live in a world where one day we may even have to pay for the air in the environment! That's what the electric companies in the world have been living... they make tons of money over the years by providing electricity but when something like the Fukushima nuclear leaks happened, what do they do? Nothing other than damage control! The CEO doesn't even apologize to the society and the people affected at the first instance (granted, he's busy with fire-fighting) nor did the company think of putting the victims the first priority (as in the case of the Gulf Oil Spill)! All the media and the leaders are interested in is more on how much it will cost the company bottom's line!!! Makes one wonders what our world has come to!

Yes, we certainly need Earth Day, not a singular designated day but rather embed into our conscioiusness. Every day should be an Earth Day, a Mother's Day and a Birthday celebration of your own mortality, your spouse's existence and also your children's growth. When that's a consciousness that's prevalent in society, then this would be a +5 rating! :-)

Have a nice day and make it one of your best! Enjoy living and breathing!
God Bless!]]> Thu, 21 Apr 2011 06:36:48 +0000
<![CDATA[ UN-Sustainable!]]>
In fact, I started shopping there more than 20 years. Very friendly employees, fun & colorful packaging, easy to handle and perfect for bachelor/ettes & college students, loooow prices, and kitchy titles on self-branded items.

But my boyfriend & I no longer patron them. This is why: Processed foods from far away places (talk about 1500 miles from farm to table; transporting foods is a huge source of global warming); loads & loads of packaging; heavy use of palm oil in every one of their desserts and other products (unless it specifies "sustainable certified", palm oil is the #1 reason for deforestation, esp in Indonesia where orangutans are going extinct); fake "dolphin safe" tuna from Indonesia (false labeling, only one dolphin safe tuna is guaranteed:; and harmful toxic products in nearly all of their beauty goods.

I've sent a letter about the palm oil, talked to more than 3 store managers at 3 of their W LA stores about packaging and toxic beauty product materials...but more customers need to speak up.

Trader Joes never claimed to be an eco-friendly store, but I think most of its shoppers would be shocked to find out just how Un-sustainable they are. I do wonder if they could use some guidance at their corporate office, e.g., a sustainability coordinator?

So until some effort's been made on their part to step green, we'll continue to use their hardy tote bags (made from non-organic cotton), but that's where our buck stops at TJ's.]]> Wed, 23 Mar 2011 21:09:26 +0000
<![CDATA[ The Spirit of Adventure]]>

I first saw this film a decade ago at the Singapore Omni-theater. If you are able to get them in a theater near you, by all means go and see it there. That’s when the large screen will make a huge difference to your visual experience. This is the 2nd disc which I recently bought in Shanghai. My first one is somewhere in the warehouse where I stock up my belongings. Yep, I’m living out of suitcases for the last few years. In fact, many suitcases  :D
After seeing this film on large screen, then on a DVD which I bought many years ago and now a Blu-ray disc, I am happy to say that this film is still as good as I first saw it.

Hazel Barton and Nancy Holler Aulenbach are the two cavers who also ventured to the Yucatan where they explored the longest underwater cave system in the world.  Nancy is actually a teacher who went around the world looking for microbes which might be the solution to new medicines. What she found was the halocline which has some microbes essential for leukemia medicine. 

This film is great not just as a documentary but also has some of the most awesome sights and perspective which we might otherwise not come into contact with. A great film about not just caves but the traveling spirit in general.]]> Sun, 20 Mar 2011 12:30:55 +0000
<![CDATA[English Retreads Quick Tip by devora]]> Fri, 18 Mar 2011 18:34:38 +0000 <![CDATA[Nikko Blue Hydrangea Quick Tip by greengenerationny]]> Sun, 6 Mar 2011 01:36:29 +0000 <![CDATA[Food, Inc. Quick Tip by greengenerationny]]> Sun, 6 Mar 2011 01:28:21 +0000 <![CDATA[Trader Joe's Quick Tip by Clay_Miller]]> Mon, 28 Feb 2011 19:02:13 +0000 <![CDATA[ Yum]]> Fri, 25 Feb 2011 03:47:48 +0000 <![CDATA[Applecheeks Quick Tip by EcoMama]]> Fri, 25 Feb 2011 02:47:58 +0000 <![CDATA[Composting Quick Tip by sustainablogger]]> Thu, 24 Feb 2011 19:49:53 +0000 <![CDATA[Precycling Quick Tip by EcoMama]]> need. Ever since I left my full time job to stay home with the baby (and work from home part-time) we have been a lot more selective about what we buy, many things people consider 'necessities' we do just fine without. Healthy food is our biggest necessity.]]> Mon, 21 Feb 2011 22:03:36 +0000 <![CDATA[Freecycling Quick Tip by EcoMama]]> Mon, 21 Feb 2011 20:51:19 +0000 <![CDATA[Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook Quick Tip by bstriepe]]> Tue, 15 Feb 2011 23:53:55 +0000 <![CDATA[Organic Gardening Quick Tip by sustainablogger]]> a chart on Wikipedia (which looks to be well-sourced); our writer ziggy has also written about companion planting, and resources to help you get started.]]> Mon, 14 Feb 2011 18:08:48 +0000 <![CDATA[Agave Nectar Quick Tip by EcoMama]]> read some info for yourself: "The process which many, if not most, agave producers use to convert this inulin into "nectar" is VERY similar to the process by which cornstarch is converted into HFCS1.

Though processing methods can differ among manufacturers, most commercially available agave is converted into fructose-rich syrup using genetically modified enzymes and a chemically intensive process involving caustic acids, clarifiers, and filtration chemicals." This sounds neither, natural, nor healthy or environmentally friendly. 

]]> Sun, 13 Feb 2011 05:56:02 +0000
<![CDATA[ This book easily reaches the level of Wow]]>
There are a number of towns all over the country, ranging from Dickson, Tennessee, to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, to Toms River, New Jersey, suffering much higher than normal numbers of severe childhood illnesses. Each town just happens to also contain a large industrial plant that handles lots of toxic chemicals. Are the illnesses all "isolated instances" or "just one of those things?"

The authors say that the CEOs of the major chemical companies are not evil people who deliberately want to poison innocent children, but profit is most important. It is very hard to prove, absolutely, that a particular case of asthma or cancer, for instance, was caused by chemicals from a particular industrial plant, though the circumstantial evidence is pretty strong. The chemical companies use that uncertainty to delay the paying of any fines or cleanup costs.

Scientists-for-pay are willing to say what the chemical companies want them to say. The evidence is not conclusive and more study (read: delay) is needed. Washington is no help. Through lobbyists and campaign contributions, it has been made clear to members of Congress that bills to add new regulations are to be watered down or defeated. Only a few of the thousands of chemicals in the environment have been tested at all. Those tests have been very short-term, and have looked at adult exposure to chemicals. The level of toxicity for children and fetuses is much lower.

What can a parent do? If you plan on having children in the future, adopt a healthy lifestyle. Get proper amounts of vitamins and minerals, starting today (men and women). If you already have children, let them play outside and open the windows in your house for at least a few minutes a day (to let out any built-up toxins). Stay away from pesticides and dry cleaning, buy organic food as much as possible, buy furniture and flooring made from solid wood instead of particleboard, which is treated with formaldehyde. There are also plenty of websites to visit with safer alternatives to everyday items.

This book easily reaches the level of Wow. It is very easy to read, and is quite an eye-opener for all parents and parents-to-be. This is highly recommended.]]> Tue, 8 Feb 2011 23:51:10 +0000
<![CDATA[ Wow. If You WANT to Know, This Film Will Inform You.]]> I tend to avoid constant streams of news because the flow of bad and dark overwhelms me and makes me feel hopeless. I can't watch the endless commentary on why people do some of the hideous things that they do, or how our world is becoming more and more hostile. So the fact that I generally love documentaries surprises e.

Food Inc was one I put off for a very long time. I'm not naive - and maybe that's why I did put it off - because I know just enough. But seeing is different than knowing.

Super Size Me and King Corn of two of my favorite documentaries. Food Inc both picks up where they left off and becomes the missing piece of the puzzle.I expected to be challenged and horrified by Food Inc, but I didn't expect to be as moved as I was.

Some of the statistics and facts presented are staggering. Animals housed and fed to become the end product that are so heavy that their legs can't hold them, diseased animals tossed into the meat mix, A semi-solution that is not taken wherein the cattle being fed a different diet for days could kill 80% of the e coli bacteria. Farmers carrying debt of a half million but making a mere 18K a year. Larger corporations refusing to make statements or appear on camera. Those are almost enough to paint a compelling picture of serious issues.

But there's more....the family who eats dollar hamburgers from a fast food outlet based on budget restrictions of both time and money. This same family is shown in the grocery store lamenting the $1.29 per pound price tag on broccoli and when a daughter looks longingly at pears, they are weighed and rejected because $.99 price tag per pound would only buy them two or three pears. However, pop was cheap. The father was diabetic. The mother explained that $260.00 a month went to his two diabetic medications. They had to make a decision between food that might make them all healthier and medicine to keep him healthy.

Then there was the political activist who became one when she lost her small child to e coli from tainted burger.

I could go on but I won't.

If you are concerned about what goes into your mouth, and the mouths of those you care about, you need to look further into America's food supply and Food Inc could be a good starting point.]]> Fri, 4 Feb 2011 00:28:33 +0000
<![CDATA[Ecobubs Quick Tip by EcoMama]]> Sun, 30 Jan 2011 04:42:22 +0000 <![CDATA[ Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara¬†Kingsolver]]> While out of town, I had the chance to do some Actual Reading.  It was delightful–staying at my folks’ place, we were all four of us staying in one big room, so there wasn’t much we could do after the kids went to sleep besides read.  I guess we could do it at home too, but we for some reason just…don’t. Which is too bad…

I finally read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, MiracleIt’s a nonfiction chronicle of her family’s year of eating entirely seasonally and locally–a really wonderful read about a family’s amazing journey.  I enjoy Kingsolver’s prose a lot, and her account of the year (from the first asparagus of spring through a year of planting and cheesemaking and turkey sex) (no, really, she breeds turkeys. Or learned to, that year.) is comfortable and fun and feels very Real.  And makes me want to go out and plant a thousand veggies, raise chickens, and maybe get a nice dairy goat or something. (Don’t worry, I won’t. But she makes me feel as though I could.)  And throughout the book there are little sidebar essays by her husband elaborating on points she’s mentioned, and each chapter ends with a reflection and several recipes by her college-aged daughter Camille. And they also have a website with lots of info and recipes.

Even for folks who aren’t sure about this whole local eating thing–heck, especially for those folks–this is a great book to read.  Because the thing is, most of us have grown up not even realizing we have choices about what we eat and where we get it.  Food comes from the grocery store shelves, that’s that.  But in this newly awakening world of urban gardens and farmers markets and local eating and awareness of the amount of fossil fuel required to put our dinners on our table, we’re beginning to realize we have choices.

I’m not ready to go Barbara’s route yet.  We still buy bananas and pineapple, we still eat New Zealand apples in the summer, and I don’t always take the time to figure out the absolute happy chicken factor in the eggs I buy. (God, it’s confusing.)  But she’s made me think.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle By Barbara Kingsolver, Camille Kingsolver, Steven L. Hopp

]]> Wed, 26 Jan 2011 19:33:04 +0000
<![CDATA[ CFL or LED Light Bulbs?]]> CFL and LED bulbsSo, which makes more sense, using compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) or light emitting diode (LED) bulbs? The short answer is both.

CFLs are a good short-term solution for replacing incandescent light bulbs and cutting down energy costs by as much as 80-percent. LED bulbs are a long-term solution that will most likely take over the lighting market several years down the road.

CFLs are now readily available to consumers from hardware stores or general discount stores such as Wal-Mart of Target. In addition, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 passed a few weeks ago has mandated that CFLs be used in all government facilities in order to save energy.

CFLs do have some inherent problems, however, such as they contain mercury and need to be handled with care. If a CFL is broken, it is recommended that windows to outside air be opened for at least 15 minutes and the room evacuated. Disposal of CFLs is also an issue since they have to be handled as hazardous material and cannot be put into the recycling bin.

LEDs have been in use for a while on digital clocks, watches and car dashboards. They are also now being used in desk lamps, art galleries and Christmas lights. LED bulbs can use 20 to 50 times less energy than incandescent bulbs and may last for 20 years.

In terms of replacing incandescent bulbs, LED lights do not currently meet cost or technical requirements, but this is most likely to change in the next couple of years as research develops.

So, if you want to make a different now, switch to CFL bulbs. But, keep your eyes open for LED bulbs as they are coming down the pike, as they say, and will change the way we all illuminate our world.



]]> Mon, 17 Jan 2011 18:52:23 +0000
<![CDATA[ Turanor PlanetSolar Largest Photovoltaic Boat Cruising High Seas]]> PlanetSolarThe Turanor PlanetSolar is the largest boat powered by solar panels cruising the high seas today. This future boat that was built in just 14 months in Germany has 537 square meters of solar panels atop this ship.

Built as a catamaran the PlanetSolar can hold up to 40 passengers when it makes its different stops along world tour. The word Turanor means “power of the sun” and comes from the Lord of the Rings Saga of J.R.R. Tolkien.

The goal of the crew of PlanetSolar is to be the first ship to circumnavigate the world exclusively using the power of the sun and an electric engine. Magellan would be proud of this new type of leading edge, yet here today technology.

Another aspect of this tour is to call public awareness to the ability for us to be carbon neutral now and the fact that solar technology is in fact a here and now technology. We don’t have to wait for future technology in order to go green. The future is already here.



]]> Mon, 17 Jan 2011 18:51:07 +0000
<![CDATA[ Propane Conversion Kits for Domestic Cars, Trucks and Vehicles]]> Propane Conversion KitPropane conversion kits have gotten a lot of attention lately as gasoline prices still hover in the $4 per gallon range. With propane selling between $2 and $2.70 per gallon, depending upon the part of the country you’re in, many motorists have taken to converting their cars to this relatively inexpensive fuel.

But, more so than individual owners of domestic cars, trucks and other vehicles, fleet managers have also been buying propane conversion kits to save on fuel costs. In addition, propane is better for the environment than gasoline as it has fewer emissions. Engines that run on propane also last longer with fewer carbon deposits and fewer oil changes as well.

There is a story today of how MedCorp of Toledo, Ohio has bought and installed propane conversion kits for its fleet of ambulances. The ambulances travel around 200 miles per day and the system pays for itself in about 9 months.

The city of Ashburn, Georgia has also turned to installing propane conversion kits in its government vehicles. Besides the cost and environmental benefits the City Manager Ben Taylor has found that propane has also increased the horsepower on their vehicles.

Newark, Ohio has also gotten into the propane game. The local Energy Cooperative has purchased its first truck powered by this alt fuel. The GMC C-5500 truck uses a factory installed propane conversion fuel injection kit delivered from Detroit, Michigan.

So, as you can see many people nationwide are getting high on propane. She don’t lie, she don’t lie, she don’t lie – propane.



]]> Mon, 17 Jan 2011 18:48:29 +0000
<![CDATA[ Solar iPhone a Patented Possibility]]> Solar iPhoneOn Leap Year Day this year (February 29) I had talked about a new solar iPhone charger that was on the market from Freeloader. Now, Apple has taken a leap of its own by filing for a patent for a solar iPhone 2.0.

Of course photovoltaic cells on small portable devices have been around for a while on calculators, watches and even toys. But, the iPhone is a power-hungry device, as are all cell phones that require a lot of energy just to operate. In fact, Forbes is reporting it would take up to 1 million wrist watches with solar cells to power one solar iPhone.

The most likely scenario that Apple is hoping for is twofold. First, would be a small panel of photovoltaic cells on the iPhone that would provide some supplementary electric charge. Two, Apple is thinking way ahead and imagining an iPhone five years in the future that can be fully powered by solar given a few breakthroughs in photovoltaic technology along the way.

Knowing that some people are already using solar iPhone chargers, Apple may just be wanting to give users an assist if they temporarily misplace their charger and need to make an important phone call or two just to get by. The technology isn’t quite there yet but this does open up some interesting possibilities for the future.

For instance, will we be seeing some geeky dude with glasses wandering around from sunlight to shade, talking on the solar iPhone saying, “Can you hear me now?”



]]> Mon, 17 Jan 2011 18:46:53 +0000
<![CDATA[ Nano Car by Tata Motors Unveiled in India]]> Nano CarThe Tata Nano car has been unveiled in India and dubbed “The People’s Car” because the selling price is only $2,500. That’s right, not only is the selling price under $10,000 but way under this figure.

The Nano car is fuel efficient too coming in a 54 mpg. This mini car is powered by a 2-cylinder all-aluminum 30 HP Bosch 624 cc four-stroke fuel injected engine and is geared to provide transportation to those with low economic means. The low tailpipe emissions also exceed industry requirements.

The rumors of the Nano car have been flying for a while and the price tags seems outrageous but CEO Ratan N. Tata has assured those at the 9th Auto Expo in New Delhi that this is no joke and that his car will roll out to consumers this year.

Although small in stature, the Tata Nano car was designed to hold four people comfortably. In order to achieve its excellent gas mileage the Nano car is lightweight, all sheet metal design and uses an engine management control system to optimize performance.

Cheap, clean and green, the Tata Nano car is putting other automakers on notice.



]]> Mon, 17 Jan 2011 18:46:08 +0000
<![CDATA[ Alphabet Photography Gifts for Environmentalists]]> alphabet photographyWell, I don’t usually do this as the focus of this blog is green tech, but I’ve stumbled upon something cool that is definitely pro-environment but not necessarily high tech. Now, I’ve seen many different kinds of alphabet photography that focus mostly on industrial design, which may not be all that environmentally friendly.

However, this kind of alphabet photography focuses on photos of beach foam. Now, this seems a little peculiar until you see the images for yourself. What has happened is that the photographer of the Words from the Sea website has taken months to put together a collection of letters and shapes made from the sea washing against the shore.

For just one barely discernable moment, the seafoam will form a letter and the photographer shoots this in the water. None of the images has been Photoshopped, manipulated or doctored. Besides the ABC’s in seafoam letters, there are also interesting shapes like that of a whale, a heart, and an exclamation point.

The letter art can be arranged as desired to spell out whatever words one desires. For instance if you want to decorate your child’s bedroom you can with this seafoam alphabet photography and you can arrange the letters on the website to see what you’re getting before you buy.

One motive of course is profit. But behind this motive is one of ocean conservation. The photographs, papers and canvasses are made with environmentally friendly materials. In addition a portion of the proceeds of the sales is donated to ocean conservation organizations such as the San Diego Ocean Discovery Institute.

So, you see the alphabet photography from Words from the Sea is fun, environmentally-friendly and helps to promote ocean conservation. What’s a better green gift to give this holiday season or any other time for that matter?



]]> Mon, 17 Jan 2011 18:45:06 +0000
<![CDATA[ Ronn Motors Scorpion Exotic Car Saves Gas Using Hydrogen]]> Ronn ScorpionRonn Motors of Austin, Texas yesterday unveiled their Scorpion exotic car, which can flat out run. Not only that, it exceeds current and future U. S. CAFÉ standard for automobile gas mileage.

With zero to 60 mph acceleration in under 4 seconds, the Ronn Scorpion fits well in the supercar class. But, it’s also a bit of a tea totaler when it comes to gasoline as it is rated at 40-plus mpg highway. Compare this to other supercars like Lamborghinis that get less than 10 mpg or perhaps a Prius that is in the mid-40’s.

How does the Ronn Scorpion pull off this feat? Well, you’ve heard me talk about different run your car on water methods before and the Scorpion uses a Hydrorunner hydrogen fuel injection system to increase gas mileage and reduce emissions.

Simply put, the Hydrorunner sips from a 1.5 gallon water tank, turns the H2O into HHO gas then injects this into the car’s intake system. The dual computer processor onboard the Scorpion figures out the right gas to HHO mix and optimizes it under various driving conditions.

Now, 40 mpg may not be the Holy Grail in gas savings, but what most people don’t realize is that Ronn Motors and Check Engine (developer of the Hydrorunner) are committing a first. Never before has an auto manufacturer included a hydrogen generator as a standard part of the automobile.

This could be the end of the catalytic convertor as we know it. This also opens the door for other automakers to say yes to offering these water car devices standard on their automobiles as well.

When 190 of the limited edition Scorpions start to roll out in October 2008, they will all be equipped with this gas saving device. This supercar doesn’t have a super price either compared to its exotic Italian counterparts and is being sold for $150,000.

Public shares of Ronn Motors are now being offered on the Over The Counter Exchange. Time will tell if their shares will be in as high demand as their hydrogen on demand supercar will surely be.



]]> Mon, 17 Jan 2011 18:43:54 +0000
<![CDATA[ Water Power is the Wave of the Future]]> Water TurbinesMan has been using a small percentage of the Earth’s water power for a number of years as many large hydroelectric dams have been constructed. But, this renewable energy resource is only a small fraction of the water power this planet has to offer.

More recently, researchers have been exploring tidal energy, ocean waves and running streams as sources of renewable energy. The Rance estuary in northern France holds the world’s largest tidal power station that generates electricity at regular intervals when the tide comes in or out.

Offshore underwater turbines are also being developed that capitalize on extracting electrical energy from the ocean’s currents. These devices may be setup where the underwater currents are the strongest and generate electricity, which may be stored in batteries or electrolyzed into hydrogen for storage (and run through a fuel cell later) or piped directly onshore, depending upon the distance from the turbines to land.

Companies like Marine Turbines, Swanturbines and Verdant Power are developing these devices. These devices may also be used in large rivers, bays (such as San Francisco Bay) and lakes (such as the Great Lakes).

There is another kind of ocean power device that is also making waves based upon buoys that bob up and down in the ocean and are tethered to underwater generators below. The generators then transmit electricity ashore through a power cable. The PowerBuoy wave generation system from Ocean Power Technologies is one example of this type of renewable energy delivery method.

There is another type of water power in development that harnesses the energy in small streams and rivers to generate electricity. Many large and small developing nations around the world are already using Micro Hydro to create electricity for homes and communities. Pakistan’s Sarfraz Ahmad Khan has come up with a novel approach for hydro electric power generation.

Of course, there is always geothermal energy, which combines heat and water (steam) to create renewable energy. Just north of San Francisco, near Santa Rosa is the Geysers, which is the largest geothermal field in the nation.

No matter what flavor you choose, water power is here to stay. In fact, many believe that water power offers at least as much hope if not more for a renewable energy future than both solar and wind energy.



]]> Mon, 17 Jan 2011 18:42:28 +0000
<![CDATA[ Solar Breakthroughs by IBM and Hoex]]> Solar BreakthroughThis week a couple of important solar breakthroughs have surfaced in the news. Both IBM and Physicist Bram Hoex (and colleagues) have demonstrated two different solar breakthroughs worth noting.

The IBM solar breakthrough involves using a thin liquid metal layer of gallium and indium that is cooled by a plate of copper. By use of solar concentrators that raise the sun’s rays by a factor of 10 and a cooling mechanism for the photovoltaic cells, IBM is able to produce the highest efficiency yet, it is claiming.

Big Blue is planning to use the yellow rays of the sun and license its cooling and photovoltaic concentrator systems to other solar companies. Meanwhile Physicist Bram Hoex and his pals at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany have improved the efficiency of a particular type of solar cell.

According to Hoex (and this is no hoax), his team at the Eindhoven University of Technology in Germany has improved the efficiency of a specific photovoltaic cell from 21.9 to 23.2 percent. What may at first may seem like a small increase is actually rather large as researchers have struggled for years to up the efficiency of cells by much smaller increments.

In addition, this will help reduce the cost of the solar cells in manufacturing, which is passed onto the consumers. By using a thin layer of aluminum oxide of approximately 30 nanometers on top of a crystalline silicon solar cell, surface loss of sunlight energy can be greatly reduced or eliminated.

Since the IBM and Hoex solar breakthroughs both involve different aspects of making photovoltaic cells more efficient, what would be really exciting would be (if possible) to combine these systems for ultra-efficient renewable electricity generation. With a few more breakthroughs in photovoltaic technology such as these, it’s only a matter of time until solar rooftops become the standard.



]]> Mon, 17 Jan 2011 18:40:57 +0000
<![CDATA[ Residential Wind Turbines Blow Away Competition]]> I’ve talked about a couple of residential wind turbines in the past such as the MagLev and the Helix. Both of these are fine units. But, now I’d like to talk about the Air-X residential wind turbine that helps homeowners save energy while shelling out only a few hundred dollars.

Solar is another way to go in regard to renewable energy, but when is the last time you’ve heard of a solar installation costing less than $1,000? Air-X is a line of small residential wind turbines that one can use on the home, cabin, or in some cases boat.

The Air-X is a high tech residential wind turbine that uses a microprocessor to optimize alternator output and slow the blades in high wind conditions to avoid the fluttering noise and inefficient rotation making for a much quieter machine. The carbon reinforced blades also have a modified pitch angle, which helps to cut through the breeze and add more power.

The Air-X residential wind turbines produce 400 Watts of power when it reaches a 28 MPH wind speed and works in winds as low as 7.5 mph. The turbine also provides 38 kW per month in based on an average 12 MPH wind.

The microprocessor also takes care of efficient battery charging. For instance these residential wind turbines can charge a battery bank from 25 to 25,000 amp hours safely by shutting itself off when reaching maximum capacity. When sensing a full charge, the generator will come to almost a complete stop.


And, the Air-X residential wind turbines also have a marine version that works well on seaside cabins and on boats and ships. The carbon-fiber blades and coated aluminum body resists corrosion.

With residential wind turbines becoming more efficient and less expensive, its no wonder why manufacturers such as Air-X are blowing away the competition.

]]> Mon, 17 Jan 2011 18:35:48 +0000
<![CDATA[Nikko Blue Hydrangea Quick Tip by Bethany_K]]> Thu, 13 Jan 2011 22:05:24 +0000 <![CDATA[TOMS Shoes Quick Tip by ariajuliet]]> Wed, 12 Jan 2011 18:54:38 +0000 <![CDATA[ Interview with a Bi-Polar Explorer]]>
Photo: Mr. Ramon Terrado of ArcticNet

Grab a blanket! Mark Terry, the award-winning documentary filmmaker who brought us The Antarctic Challenge: A Global Warning, has another film in the hopper: The Polar Explorer. The Official COP16 Film! (COP16 is the 16th edition of Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) . View the trailer…

Mark was kind enough to take time out of his tremendously busy schedule to answer some questions about his crew’s October 2010 expedition across The Northwest Passage to the most remote and mysterious parts of our planet: the Polar Regions.

What was the most surprising discovery?
Perhaps the “seabed donuts”, found at a depth of about 1,500 feet, these are huge rings measuring 200 meters across by 30 meters high (600 feet by 100 feet).

Unknown circular features on the Arctic seabed. Photo: Jonathan R

What was most disappointing?
The lack of sea ice. Our rugged Coast Guard icebreaker seemed like overkill in these barely frozen Arctic seas.

An Arctic sunrise | Photo: Mark Terry

Any frightening moments?
When we were hunted by polar bears. We were approaching a ridge to plant an ice motion beacon when a “watcher” on the ship said on the loudspeaker “STOP! Do not go any further! Polar bears on the other side of the ridge! Return to the ship IMMEDIATELY!” We bid a hasty and heart-pounding retreat, but the ship blew its foghorn chasing the bears away. We returned to plant the beacons – nervously.

Photo: Mark Terry

How about the funniest?
The sheer giddiness of the scientists who were celebrating their unexpected HUGE haul of marine life at a midnight collection. Like pirates celebrating the recovery of a treasure chest full of gold and diamonds, the scientists were raising worms, squids and starfish in the air with their bare hands laughing with delight over their biological bounty.

Arctic starfish | Photo: Mark Terry

More Arctic starfish | Photo: Mark Terry

Anything embarrassing?
Not for us, but perhaps for the scientists when our sound guy, Steve McNamee, made a major scientific discovery while casually looking out the window of the bridge. He spotted a collection of round ice balls that the scientists, the ice specialist and the crew of the ship had never seen before.

Formation of ice | Photo: Mark Terry

What inspired you to explore such cold regions?
A vacation in Alaska when I first came face-to-face with the size, beauty and majesty of an iceberg. The unique eco-system seemed other-worldly and fragile and I became a hungry student of the polar regions and why they are so unique and how they impact on us even though, by and large, we ignore them and know very little about them.

]]> Fri, 7 Jan 2011 23:11:18 +0000
<![CDATA[Meatless Monday Quick Tip by devora]]>
Furthermore, a lot of meat in the States is really unhealthy, chalked full of growth hormones and a lot of times, the animals aren't fed what they're meant to eat, but they're fed things that will make them meatier, which often times is detrimental to those who consume them.

All the more reason to keep meat consumption as low as possible.  It would be of benefit to everyone to have meatless days more often.]]> Fri, 7 Jan 2011 21:27:58 +0000
<![CDATA[CleanTech Quick Tip by zephyr2050]]> Fri, 7 Jan 2011 18:35:32 +0000 <![CDATA[BP Gulf Oil Spill Quick Tip by djevoke]]> Fri, 7 Jan 2011 18:09:54 +0000 <![CDATA[Let's Move! Quick Tip by zephyr2050]]> Fri, 7 Jan 2011 18:08:11 +0000 <![CDATA[An Inconvenient Truth Quick Tip by nalinmello]]> Fri, 7 Jan 2011 17:49:58 +0000