Due to a professional commitment, I fear that I may not have much (if any) time to post in the coming week. That said, I'll be back up with a frenzy by next weekend at the latest.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
A great opportunity to learn sustainable living practices if you live in or near Santa Monica, Ca.
The first 2 Sustainable Works Green Living Workshops of 2008 start next week-
Wednesday nights 7-8:30pm
starting January 16th
Santa Monica Public Library
601 Santa Monica Blvd.
Thursday nights 7-8:30pm
starting January 17th
402 Santa Monica Blvd.
Classes are filling fast this week- so please let me know as soon as possible if you would like for us to hold a spot for you in one of the 2 workshop nights.
Please feel free to invite any friends or family,
it is always more fun to take the workshop with a "classmate".
Hope to see you at a Green Living Workshop soon,
Residential Program Coordinator
310 458 8716 x1
1744 Pearl St.
Santa Monica, CA
Posted by Dave at 6:02 PM
Friday, January 11, 2008
Check out this story from NPR I heard on the radio today. Naples has had no garbage collection since the end of December, less than one month, and they are in serious trouble. While there seem to be politics behind the reasons for why the garbage isn't being picked up, just imagine what would happen in your town if the trucks stopped coming. Seems to me that if there was less packaging, less waste, and more worms, they'd be a lot better off than they are right now.
A little shameless plug here but for a really great homegrown enterprise that fits in nicely with the general concept of re-purposing, and then does it one better.
My friend Shannon, her sister, and her Mom started a dressmaking business a while back called Foxy Frocks. They hand make (themselves mind you) awesome little one of a kind dresses for little girls. And if that isn't cool enough, they make them out of remnant cloth from the garment district in downtown LA, so they are essentially using stuff that would be discarded anyway. Very cool (and great dresses to boot).
If you check out the site, you may notice that the dresses are slightly more expensive than you can get at a place like the GAP, but I think what you need to ask yourself is are these too expensive, or are those prices too low. I think you'll find the latter as these dresses are worth it and then some, and the fact that they are one of a kind, only adds to their value.
Here's what Shannon has to say about them:
"We see dressmaking as an art form, something that should be done with care and not in a sweatshop! We use a minimal amount of materials in crafting each dress and we buy our fabric in the Garment District here in Los Angeles, the same city where we make our dresses. Whenever possible, we try to purchase the bolt end pieces of fabric...aka the "scraps" - tiny pieces that usually end up in the trash! We make something beautiful from leftovers, what better way to care for the planet! We also use recyclable packing - feel free to request less packaging and we'll be happy to ship your frock in a recycled bubble wrap packet. Every frock is a handmade, one-of-a-kind little treasure. We try to keep our prices low so that our frocks can be available to everyone. Our goal is not to become rich, it's to celebrate the art of dressmaking, and to inspire others to create their own individual works of art."
Foxy Frocks - check it out.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
“Everyone has his day and some days are longer than others.” -Winston Churchill
No, Winston Churchill was not talking about Edison's incandescent bulb that has been the king of the hill for the last 118 years, but he might as well have been. It kind of shocks me that people are still using these things. After all they were designed to create heat and thereby give off light so they are massively inefficient lighting devices. And yet, many people are still fighting the change to Compact Fluorescent (CFLs). Well, thanks to our friends in Washington, come 2012, it will be illegal to sell Edisons bad boys in the US, so the time has come to jump on the CFL bandwagon.
The problem I find that most people have with CFLs is misconception. I wrote a detailed piece on them a while back but for time's sake, I'm going to jot down the "back of the napkin" practical info so you can get rid of those incandescents and rocket into the 21st century.
Some pointers I've come up with along the way.
- Since these last so long, write the purchase date on the base of the bulb (the white part) and save the cardboard insert in a file somewhere with the receipt attached. That way if they go bad early, you can send them in and get another. They made the warranty, hold them to it.
- Not all CFLs are alike so start small. Get a bulb for a closet in the back of your place first. If you like it, you'll know what kind (color, wattage, etc.) to get next time, and if you don't like it (usually the color) it's the back closet so it's no big deal.
- There are a ton of these things out there so there are some cheapies. For my money, stay away from the Ikea bulbs. That said, anything with an Energy Star rating is generally a decent bulb.
- Stay away from the small chandelier bulbs if you need dimmable. I hate to say it but these aren't there yet, they strobe a lot. The solid ones are good, but the small dimmables aren't there yet.
- As for other dimmables, they work great, but there are some that will have a problem with certain older dimmer switches. Try one before buying a dozen.
- Speaking of ballasts, these are generally the first thing to go on these bulbs. They say that turning a bulb ona nd off will shorten it's lifespan so you ahve two choices. You can leave the light on a little longer than usual, or you can get 5 years out of a 7 year bulb. Either way you've got Edison's little gems beat.
- They look different than incandescents - CFLs now come in about 5 different color spectrums and unless you have them side by side, you really won't notice the difference. I'd try warm light for the "nicest" look.
- They don't have different sizes - Wrong! They make CFLs to fit just about every screw in type bulb out there and many even look the same.
- They aren't dimmable - Wrong! The only difference is that not all are so you have to buy one that is specifically dimmable. You'll have more luck with this on the Internet than hardware stores but a specialty lighting store may have them. Dimmables work great, but once they hit about 10% on, they shut off, so there is an abrupt "bottom end". That said, you're saving a ton of money, so handle it.
- They Buzz - Wrong (well mostly). I have CFLs all over the house and have run into one or two that hum slightly. The noise comes from the ballast in the light but the majority make no noise.
- They contain mercury so they are harming the environment - CFLs do contain mercury (I think the exact measurement is a dot) so they need to be disposed of at a hazardous waste facility. That said, we're talking about a trip every seven years, so the paint can you didn't close in the basement needs to go out by then anyway. As to the amount of mercury, it's been shown that more mercury will enter the atmosphere by generating the extra power regular bulbs will use than will be put out there from CFLs.
- They are more expensive - Wrong! Check out this CFL Calculator and you'll see that the average bulb will save you money within 8 months and make you money for the next 6 years.
As for the old bulbs, well, you can wait for them to burn out, or if you want to replace them now, why not donate them to a shelter, and while you're at it, throw in a few CFLs to get them started on the path.
Seeing as Climate Change may be the single greatest threat to the planet, don't you think journalists have a responsibility to us to be asking hard questions about what our leaders are going to do about it? I do. Please take a minute and check out the petition at What Are They Waiting For? It'll only take a second or two of your time. While you are there, click on Get The Facts and see how often some of our top journalists ask politicians these important questions. The answers will most likely upset you.
Here's the wording from the petition:
As a political reporter, you hold a particular public responsibility to ask politicians tough questions about the nation’s most pressing problems.
The world’s scientific community has unequivocally determined that global warming is a man-made crisis of the highest order, threatening our economic prosperity, international security, environmental stability, and the survival of millions. It is also one of the most pressing concerns, with the Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stating, “If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late. What we do in the next two or three years will determine our future.”
Yet your reporting on the 2008 elections has ignored the climate crisis.
• We demand that you publicly acknowledge that the science of global warming is settled and that the climate crisis is an urgent threat.
• We insist that you prioritize global warming in your interviews with all candidates through the 2008 election.
The American public deserves to know where all the candidates stand on the climate crisis and the solutions they propose to address it.
Asking those questions is your responsibility. We call on you to do it.
If you're like me, you can't really do too much without a good cup of Joe in the AM. We make our own coffee here at home and I always use a re-useable travel mug, but what has been bugging me since the beginning of this project (and why you haven't seen so many coffee ground listings in "the haul") are those crazy plasticoated bags they come in that are not recyclable and have limited re-use potential.
So this morning, I headed over to Whole Foods and had a really interesting talk with Richard, the guy who's in charge of the coffee area there (and incidentally it's his first day at that, after being promoted so way to go Richard). I explained to him what I was up to and told him I wanted to figure out a way to be able to come to Whole Foods and buy coffee without wasting a bag each time. I asked him if I could just bring in my own container to fill, but he mentioned that when they weigh it up front, the weight of the bag is already calculated in. While I might not mind paying the extra charge for this I'd have to probably explain everything again each time I bought coffee and don't really want to go that route time and again.
So what we ended on was this. Next time I head there I am going to buy my coffee in one of those sturdy little coffee bags that I hate so much, filling it up from the bulk coffee bins (they have fair trade shade grown so it's pretty good stuff). I'll bring that home, pour it into our coffee bean mason jar, and fold up the bag until next time I need a fill-up. Ironically, the thing that makes these bags such a nuisance, the way they are sturdily built and therefore not recyclable, is going to be an asset because I really don't see why I can't get through the year (and then some) on one bag.
At home we have a little grinder and french press manual coffee maker, so that's all relatively waste free, and the grounds can go in the worm composter, the garden, the lawn, or a number of other places. If anyone has any other thoughts, I'm game.
I'm psyched (and amped on coffee).
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
I got a press release sent to me about an artist named Jeffrey Scott Holland who was in the third year of an art installation and realized that what he was doing was causing major harm to the environment. I kind of like his story because it's a great case of someone doing something they are passionate about, but walking away from it for the greater good. So I emailed him and he was kind enough to write back with a quick synopsis of what he was up to and included some pics.
Good on ya and Huzzah!
Project Egg was originally an egg hunt in several U.S. states, with green plastic Easter eggs containing miniature paintings, prints, stickers, etc. and it was so popular that I did it nationwide the next year, with eggs hidden in almost all 50 states. For the 2008 version, my goal had been to hide Easter eggs all over the world, with at least some eggs in every continent, even Antarctica. Then I learned about the stretches of dead ocean filled with rotting plastic that's only biodegrading to the molecular level. When I then consider that most of the eggs don't actually get found, I realized they might be getting washed by storms into the storm drains that go straight to rivers that go straight to the ocean. When the implications sunk in on me, I wanted to vomit. Hopefully, by cancelling this series of public art installations, I'll be able to call attention to the environmental disaster that's going on right now. I'm amazed that this plastic-molecule phenomena has been going on for so long now and I've only just now learned of it.
"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is wasted" - Aesop
Got a bunch of old hair trimmings lying around that you just don't know what to do with? Beth at Fake Plastic Fish passed along this little tidbit - send it off to Matter of Trust, a 501(c) that helps make mats out of human hair that are the bees knees at cleaning up oil spills. How cool is that?
Now I know hair isn't one of the bigger things on everyone's plates these days, but it is a totally renewable resource (I hope my Dad isn't reading this) and if it can be used to clean up oil spills, why not? Since MOT is a non-profit, you can probably write it off too, just not sure what the value would be.
MOT isn't as interested in personal donations as much as hooking up with salons to get larger quantities. Sign up is free but for $10 they'll send some posters and things to let customers know their hair has life after it hits the floor. I'm not sure, but I can't really see a salon not being willing to do this, can you?
I'm off to talk to my barber.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Everyone says that China is the big problem. Well it seems like they've trumped us on this one. According to Reuters China has passed a law "banning production of ultra-thin bags and forbidding its supermarkets and shops from handing out free carriers from June 1."
"China uses too many of the bags and fails to dispose of them properly, wasting valuable oil and littering the country, China's cabinet, the State Council, said in a notice posted on the central government Web site (www.gov.cn).
"Our country consumes huge amounts of plastic bags every year. While providing convenience to consumers, they have also caused serious pollution, and waste of energy and resources, because of excessive use and inadequate recycling," it said."
Why can't we follow suit on this? The Chinese people use 3 billion plastic bags a day and the country refines 37 million barrels of crude oil every year for the purpose.
Any of the candidates hearing this? This is the kind of leadership we need. And before anyone starts in on China isn't the greatest government, etc. etc, I'm with ya, but for the seeing the greater good, ya gotta give them credit in this one.
Monday, January 7, 2008
It's funny how often there are things we do on a regular basis that we just assume others know about. Well, Freecycle fits that bill quite nicely.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, freecycle is an oraganization that works via email that you join and then can give or get stuff as you need it. I came across it when we had an older queen size mattress to get rid of that was in good condition. Salvation Army et.al wouldn't take it and I heard about freecycle. I joined (it's free) posted it, and immediately got three emails. It was gone by that evening and what's more, it went to a lovely single mom who had been sharing her bed with her son due to a lack of funds. She was so excited about it and we felt great giving it away. Craigslist also has a free section, but I've had better luck with freecycle, I think it attracts a different crowd for some reason. I get the daily digests and more than once have found something that I want/need and gotten it for free.
Check it out.
I'll eventually be checking out first hand what happens to our recycling here locally, but in the meantime, Beth over at Fake Plastic Fish posted the following shocking video made for a British news service.
It's only about 3 minutes long and well worth the watch. I think the guy who has the recycling plant makes a good point. Each nation should be responsible for dealing with their own waste/recycling, just the same as we as individuals should be responsible for our personal output.
It's ironic that they found plastic bags from Tesco as they were one of, if not the, first stores in the world to list carbon output on all their products.
Food for thought.