30 April 2008

getting to know greenpeace.

while contemplating what to write about today i got to thinking about greenpeace. their interns are always knocking me down on the street with their clipboards and goodwill messages--gotta love their fortitude. lucky for me i can honestly tell them i have a friend working for greenpeace and i'm a regular site-reader. they smile at that and let me go.

here's a brief history about greenpeace:

it all began in 1971 with a cozy group of committed citizens aboard a small fishing vessel sailing toward amchitka island in alaska. their mission was to protect united states nuclear testing off the coast of alaska by actually placing themselves in harm's way. it was daring and risky--staring death in the eye for a natural cause. although they were intercepted by the united states coastguard, the mission was successful by bringing to the headlines the dangers of nuclear testing--worldwide.

since that effort, greenpeace has promised to educate and protect the world in the harms facing our planet all through ordinary yet committed people. they've grown considerably since their early days--30 offices internationally--and managed to maintain that same vivacity in their activists and donors.

greenpeace also doesn't solicit the government or corporations for funds. nor do they endorse politicians. their money comes from supporters and donors. to put a price tag on your support click here.

their campaigns.

global warming and energy

project hot seat
exxon secrets
energy [r]evolution
climate lawsuit
global warming and energy reports
u.n. climate conference

whale defenders
bering witness
threats to ocean life
oceans reports
marine reserves
wildlife facts

u.s. forests
forests worldwide
solutions to deforestation
music wood
forest reports
forest wildlife fact sheets

no new nukes
safety and security
nuclear reports
chernobyl anniversary

chemical threats
going hi-tech is highly toxic
go pvc-free
bhopal disaster
toxics reports
clash of the consoles

genetic engineering
ge industry
bans and labeling
go organic
ge reports

i'm way into the forest and ocean campaigns.

get involved!

do your part.

25 April 2008

another earth holiday: arbor day.

another day to celebrate this lovely earth we inhabit: arbor day!

celebrated in the united states on the last friday of april, arbor day has roots dating back to nebraska in 1872. it was established by j. sterling morton.

accompanied by his wife, morton moved to the nebraska territory in 1854 (nebraska didn't become a state until 1867). jumping right into the heart of it all, morton became the editor of nebraska's first newspaper which opened doors for him to become involved in politics and promote the settlement of nebraska.

at the time, nebraska, being in the heartland of the great plains, was barren of trees. while the tallgrass prairie was ideal for farmland, wood wasn't readily available for building houses or even for fuel to heat those houses thus stalling the settlement. even the homestead act with its free offers of land didn't entice families to migrate toward nebraska.

at a meeting of the nebraska state board of agriculture in 1872, morton, a plant lover himself, proposed a tree planting holiday, what we now know to be arbor day. upon this day, counties and individuals were coaxed by the promise of prizes to whomever properly planted the largest number of trees. history shows that more than 1 million trees were planted in nebraska on that april 10, 1874.

the nebraska state tree is the cottonwood, pictured above.

morton's home in nebraska city is now recognized as a state historical park, arbor lodge. it includes an arboretum and extensive landscaped grounds. the national arbor day foundation now runs morton's farm, appropriately called arbor day farm.

at my elementary school, it was customary for second-grade students to go home with a tree and plant it. my tree was a sweetgum and stands proud next to my older brother's sweetgum in the backyard of our old house.

so if you have the chance, plant a tree today. if you join the arbor day foundation, they'll give you 10 free trees! or sign up for paperless billing with your wireless provider or credit card company, which might be more practical, and save a tree.

live simply. take action.

23 April 2008

rock port, missouri: small city making big headlines.

before today, i'd never heard of rock port, missouri.

they're a town of 1,300 and they just made history as the first united states city to be 100 percent powered by wind. rock port will only use about 113 of the 116 kilowatts the wind turbine will produce. they'll supply it for a cost to neighbouring cities.

rock port, thank you for making the dream a reality and setting the example to everyone else. you have found the answer and yeah, it was blowin' in the wind.

bob dylan
"blowin' in the wind"

how many roads must a man walk down
before you call him a man?
yes, 'n' how many seas must a white dove sail
before she sleeps in the sand?
yes, 'n' how many times must the cannon balls fly
before they're forever banned?
the answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
the answer is blowin' in the wind.

how many times must a man look up
before he can see the sky?
yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have
before he can hear people cry?
yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows
that too many people have died?
the answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
the answer is blowin' in the wind.

how many years can a mountain exist
before it's washed to the sea?
yes, 'n' how many years can some people exist
before they're allowed to be free?
yes, 'n' how many times can a man turn his head,
pretending he just doesn't see?
the answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
the answer is blowin' in the wind.

22 April 2008

massive attack's hymn for mother earth.

"hymn of the big wheel" by massive attack

the big wheel keeps on turning
on a simple line day by day
the earth spins on its axis
one man struggle while another relaxes

there's a hole in my soul like a cavity
seems like the world is out to gather just by gravity
the wheel keeps turning the sky's rearranging
look my son the weather is changing

i'd like to feel that you could be free
look up at the blue skies beneath a new tree
sometime again
you'll turn green and the sea turns red
my son I said the power of axis over my head
the big wheel keeps on turning
on a simple line day by day
the earth spins on its axis
one man struggle while another relaxes

we sang about the sun and danced among the trees
and we listened to the whisper of the city on the breeze
will you cry in the most in a lead-free zone
down within the shadows where the factories drone
on the surface of the wheel they build another town
and so the green come tumbling down
yes close your eyes and hold me tight
and i'll show you sunset sometime again

the big wheel keeps on turning
on a simple line day by day
the earth spins on its axis
one man struggle while another relaxes
as a child's silent prayer my hope hides in disguise
while satellites and cameras watch from the skies
an acid drop of rain recycled from the sea
it washed away my shadow burnt a hole in me
and all the king's men cannot put it back again
but the ghetto sun will nurture life
and mend my soul sometime again

the big wheel keeps on turning
on a simple line day by day
the earth spins on its axis
one man struggle while another relaxes

Simple Things

I haven't been writing much on this blog lately -- I find that it's practically all I can do to keep up my work blog *and* try to live eco-aware. But today I thought I'd just drop a few lines about some of the simple things you can do to help improve the environment and your lifestyle.

1: Pick it up.
As I walk around my neighbourhood (and other places), I see so much trash on the ground--a bag, a bottle cap, a soda can, a flip-flop. Litter, we usually call it, and some places actually have hefty fines for litterers. Litter fills the gutters, sloshes against the banks of rivers, contaminates the soil, and definitely helps wreck the ecosystem. So, even if you didn't toss it, pick it up. Take a bag with you when you walk and do a little something extra for your locality. I remember when I was a kid, and my family would spend family time together cleaning up trash out of a nearby field. It was good.

2: Lots of magazines? Visit the library.
I don't know about you, but I get way too much junk mail, including catalogs and magazines. Granted, often I enjoy the magazines and some of them I have even subscribed to. But do I really need all that paper in my mailbox, even if I'm going to recycle it? Nope. My solution? The library. My local library subscribes to over 200 magazines, and wow, that's a lot. Not all libraries have so many, but chances are, if you're a big magazine subscriber, they probably have at least one you're interested in. Read it at the library. If there's an article you *have* to have, make a copy and file it at home. One or two fewer magazines a month is a nice step to diminishing your footprint.

3: Reuse that water.
We use lots of water when we prepare food -- boiling pasta, steaming veggies, rinsing lettuce. Don't just dump that leftover water down the drain -- put it to good use. Instead of using fresh tapwater to water your indoor plants or your garden, collect that already used water and put it to a second use. Your plants might even thank you for it!

And there you have it--3 small and simple things you can do to make this world a healthier and happier place.

earth day 2008: show your love.

happy birthday mother earth.

we love you.

each year, earth day represents a reminder to the modern environmental movement that began april 22, 1970. the decided national day was to focus one whole day out of the year on the environmental problems facing our mother earth.

even 38 years ago, the environmental crisis was sweeping across the nation's campuses. they could see it then. we see it now. but how much progress has been made?

what will you do (or don't do) today, on earth day 2008, to observe this national day?

take action.

al gore believes in a happy ending still even though little has changed since his thought-provoking an inconvenient truth won a pulitzer. he also believes the environmental crisis has become even more urgent. do you believe he's doing his part in the environmental state of emergency? or do you believe the claims made against him for being an energy hog? (the writings contained herein this blog have been both pro and con toward al gore. lately, we're more pro. amazing what education can do to enlighten the mind. be sure to educate yourself.)

michelle kaufmann gives you some ideas how to take all that consumer waste and make it pretty in her do-it-yourself earth day activity kit.

the above graphic was orchestrated for a designboom and da--design association japan international design competition to demonstrate the theme "love your earth."

share more. how do you love your earth?

21 April 2008

kimberly-clark: branded.

if you're with me (and greenpeace and so many others) in the fight against kimberly-clark, be aware of their other brands listed below. start a new habit of flipping over the product in question to see if kimberly-clark is listed as the parent company.

little swimmers
neat sheet

other sites promoting awareness toward the destruction kimberly-clark leaves in its wake:

greenpeace: cut and run. (new findings on the kimberly-clark "legacy." download and read the report.)
kleercut: wiping away ancient forests.
treehugger: kleenex kleercut--trees for tissues?
grist: greenpeace hacks kleenex pr.
wikipedia: kleercut.
nrdc: flushing forests down the toilet.

and remember, it takes 90 years to grow a box of kleenex. 90 years!

continue the education.

green-thinking entrepreneurs.

see how today's entrepreneurs are putting their money where their mouth is with carbon-footprint minimizing extreme ideas ranging from 3-wheel spaceship-like vehicles to gypsum-free drywall to a recycling bin equipped with a tracking device (recyclebank) that pays out to its clients based upon their recycling contribution to an idea that blows my own mind: a renewable plastic. really? wow.

if you had the money and time, what kind of innovative idea would you create to further the green cause?

look who's behind it all:
steve fambro of aptera
ron gonen of recyclebank
pelamis wave power and enersys
saul griffith of makani power
serious materials
david rosenberg of hycrete
frederic scheer of cereplast
howard levine and ian bruce of venture vehicles

note: gypsum plays a leading role in producing the global-warming toxin carbon dioxide.

17 April 2008

i'm a treehugger.

and by that i mean treehugger's website. (don't get me wrong. i'll stop and hug a tree occasionally too. i hugged general sherman, the giant sequoia and he was soft. picture below.)

if you haven't checked the site out recently, i encourage you to! i read it every day and if you're a reader of this blog you'll notice i reference treehugger.com often. the site is chock full of green tidbits. don't pass it up.

(i'm on the left. we're actually more listening to general sherman's heartbeat than hugging him. but his bark was so soft.)

15 April 2008

green designs within reach.

in the span of eight days i received new catalogs from 2 of my favourite furniture retailers--design within reach and mitchell gold+bob williams. flipping through the first couple pages i noticed both merchants declared their smart ideas and promises for both offering and maintaining eco-friendly products.

i especially love what mitchell and bob say in their eco-statement: "we've been eco-friendly since 1989. not since it became fashionable." they also recognize being eco-friendly is not only a privilege but their responsibility. i can appreciate that.

they demonstrate their claim in the makeup of their pieces. their seat cushions are wrapped up in 80 percent regenerated fibers and 10 percent soy. they use fabrics like cotton, linen, mohair, and hemp--all natural fibers. a large part of their casegoods--chests, dressers, tables--are built from parawood (also called rubberwood). but the parawood trees aren't harvested until they stop producing sap. how awesome is that? totally utilizing the tree's resources. and finally, the best of all: their back pillows are composed of fibers that came from plastic bottles.

seems to me mitchell and bob are living up to their promise.

in addition to already focusing their eco-friendly efforts on their products, they're working with the climate project, a non-profit dedicated to creating the opportunity to move our nation into action. with every purchase of fine art photography by tipper gore a portion will benefit the movement.

now on to design within reach (dwr). (i don't really get why it's called what it is because as i browse through the pages there is little i can afford. in fact, i'm not sure i can even afford one of their lightbulbs.)

their assortment of eco-friendly products is conveniently listed on their solutions page. categories are: energy efficient, green guard certified, recyclable products, recyclable materials, sustainable materials. this will enable you to find just what you're looking for based upon your environmental goal or vision.

dwr says being conscious of the environment has always been part of their vision and assortment of products but now they've set up categories so it's easier for the buyer--you!--to find just what s/he is looking for. genius.

my favourite of the green dwr products is first in their "what is green?" catalog. the page boasts "green is up-cycling cans into a chair that lasts 150 years." the chair it's speaking of is the 1006 navy chair by emeco. back in 1944 when emeco started designing chairs, you can bet your hybrid marketing slogans encouraging him to make it appealing to the eco-conscious weren't floating around the design board. he was more focused on guaranteeing it could withstand a torpedo blast. to satisfy the military crazy request, emeco created a 77-step patented process. during the process, emeco invented a method to make aluminum three times stronger than steel. a chair so unbelievably durable its estimated lifespan is 150 years. legend has it the maker of the 1006 navy chair, wilton dinges, the founder of emeco in 1944, actually tossed the chair out the window of a 6-story building. aside from startling the people on the street and a few scratches, the chair didn't show any damage.

the 1006 navy chair has gone down in history as one of the most revered, respected, and wanted chairs. wanted so much that target even copied it opening the chair's distribution to the more general public at $249.99 compared to the original price of $395.00-1,115.00 by authorized dealers. the copy at target caused a real stir. target doesn't outright claim their cafe aluminum side chair to be a copy of the 1006 navy chair, of course; in the description it simply says it's of classic design. true. (when i searched the site i couldn't find cafe aluminum side chair. all the search produced was this barstool. look familiar? perhaps at the time of the washingtonpost.com article it was still on target.com. i don't have any major issues with copies. my issue would be they're likely to not have the same green makeup as the higher priced original. something to consider.) to set the original apart from copies, three small welds are left exposed on the back slats. (as if paying the original price wasn't enough of a clue.)

another beautiful tidbit about the emeco 1006 navy chair is it starts out with 80 percent recycled aluminum which requires only 5 percent the energy needed to produce virgin aluminum. and the factory is here in the united states! pennsylvania even.

good stuff.

live simply.

note: the awesome catalogs i received from dwr and mitchell gold+bob williams are both printed on 100 percent recycled products. fsc-certified even for dwr.

feed your piggybank when you recycle.

the recyclebank co-founder and ceo, ron gonen, has found a way to motivate americans to recycle more and better.

he has set up a process for every household on a garbage route to be allotted a recycling bin with a computer chip installed. the computer chip reads when the bin is dumped. depending upon the weight in the bin the household builds up points in their recyclebank. the points can be used at merchants such as cvs or starbucks.

in the bank's hometown of philadelphia, pennsylvania, one neighbourhood's recycling efforts soared from 7% to 90%! totally exciting!

the beauty behind a system like this is not only is it encouraging households to be more aware of their recycling process in a way everyone understands--free money, but it cuts down on the amount of junk going in landfills. that then lessens the number of trucks driving to landfills. thus the air is clearer of those nasty carbon emissions. the best payout might just be the satisfaction that household is feeling knowing they're doing their part to help better the world. that rush of pride will motivate them to continue.

would you be more careful and aware of your recycling habits if you knew your next latte' could be free?

on recyclebank's homepage it lists the number of trees and gallons of oil saved. kinda cool to see those numbers. even cooler if i knew i was contributing to the savings.

unfortunately, recyclebank hasn't made it to my san francisco neighbourhood yet. they're currently serving pennsylvania, massachusetts, new york, new jersey, delaware and vermont. but i filled out the form requesting info and you can too to see when they'll be in your corner of the country!

treehugger also recognized recyclebank for their reward program.

note: the bank points alternatively can be donated to charity.

do your part.

14 April 2008

summer vacation hotspot: garbage island.

ok so garbage island may not bequite the summer vacation hotspot of 2008 for clubmed but it's certainly something for the eyes to behold.

what i'm talking of is a mass of questionable size--reports claim it ranges from twice the size of texas to larger than the continental united states and still growing--floating along in the pacific ocean. according to thomas morton, "garbage island" is in such a remote spot it takes a week to get there. (i don't know how much vacation time you've got but that kind of travel will put me in the red.)

who's thomas morton, you ask? my question exactly. he's important enough or is at least participating in an adventure interesting enough for cnn to notice him. of what i could find out he's an associate editor for vice magazine. seems before he came to know of garbage island he wrote about all kinds of stuff for the magazine. (i'm still investigating how he got caught up in that interest.)

read thomas morton's article oh, this is great that explains a little about it and if you're wanting more, watch what's now a 12-part series on the garbage community. eric lanford interviewed him about the mass on cnn.

news on garbage island isn't anything we didn't already know about. greenpeace, an obvious example, has spoken out about it on several occasions, including this one called the trash vortex in an effort to educate people. treehugger, a personal favourite, wrote the great pacific garbage patch: out of sight, out of mind, in february of this year. other not-so-environmentally-geared sites like npr and wikipedia have collected information to share with their followers also. london's independent put this story out in february of this year about the trash pile the world's rubbish dump: a garbage tip that stretches from hawaii to japan. this is also not the first time i've written about the trash issue. see my stories called caring for our oceans and happy whale.

while there's definitely been a surge in this topic, fact is, this is not a new discovery. it seems the first account came from a sailor named charles moore. moore founded algalita marine research foundation. but the discoveries scientists are finding is what's alarming. it's disgusting to think about the feeding cycle that occurs in the ocean with all the animals feeding off the bits of plastic circling in the trash vortex thinking it's plankton and then we eat the animal and then the trash ends up in our bodies. short story: we're eating our own refuse. that's gross. but this is scary: the impact of all the garbage can have lasting damage to our health including the reproductive systems of women resulting in miscarriages time and again, breast cancer, low sperm count, prostate cancer, and other ailments.

this is not something to be taken lightly. this garbage pile isn't just destroying the natural habit of flipper and shamu--it's affecting each one of us.

what can you do? unfortunately, the situation is so impossible that it will take a major recall of how our society thinks and operates. to quote a favourite tommy lee jones line from men in black: a person is smart; people are dumb panicky dangerous animals. that may not totally play to point but here's how i apply it: as one person we can make an effort to change the amount of plastic we use in our daily life--we're individually responsible for ourselves and our footprint. as a whole society...well, when was the last time you can think of society today agreed on one thing? aside from the fact we live in a democracy, most people don't take too well when they're told what to do or how to act. most folks like to act in a way that flatter them into thinking they're the ones that came up with the idea.

now you see my point?

but don't get me wrong. there is much you can do--separate your trash appropriately; when you see litter, pick it up and throw it out (i've started keeping antibacterial gel in my car which comes in handy for times like this.); cut up those plastic rings that hold your 6-pack of beer or soda together (a personal favourite).

by doing your part you'll be recognized as an example and others will follow. it just might take them a little longer.

note: pictured above is a laysan albatross filled to the brim with bottle caps and other plastic objects. likely the bird mistook the plastic pieces for food. the other is of a sea turtle and his unfortunate run-in with a plastic ring.

11 April 2008

happy daisies.

on an already beautiful day here in san francisco, this picture lifts my mood even more. lovely.

unscrew america.

unscrew america. sounds kinda dirty...twisted...doesn't it? get your head out of the gutter then! it's a website about low-energy lightbulbs! cool music and graphics too. check it out.