April 21, 2008

Umbrella Recycling

blackumbrellas.jpgJust in time for Earth Day I thought I'd share my own form of conservation of umbrella resources. I don't own an umbrella. I have, in the past, owned a panoply of crappy black umbrellas that you can pick up for $5 or so, but I always end up losing them or leaving them places, which has led to my current practice.

If I ever really need an umbrella, which is very rare, maybe once a year or less, I simply walk into a nearby restaurant or shop and approach the cashier and say, "Hi! Can I check your Lost and Found? I think I left a black umbrella the last time I was here." Almost invariably there is a black umbrella in the Lost and Found and the clerk is more than happy to get rid of it.

Now, for those of you who will immediately say this is unethical I'd agree that, nominally, there is some prevarication involved but, in its favor, I'd posit the following.

First of all, it's sustainable. Reusing otherwise idle umbrellas languishing in some Lost and Found cuts down on capricious use of resources.

Secondly, it passes Kant's categorical imperative. What if everyone did this? Well, that would mean that umbrellas would actually get used and people wouldn't buy umbrellas that they didn't need. Eventually it is possible that Lost and Founds might divest themselves of umbrellas, and then the market will correct itself with people buying more umbrellas, but I really don't see that happening in my lifetime. So, in my opinion, if everyone did this it would be a net good.

Third, it's not like I haven't invested in the umbrella economy. I have, in fact, donated many umbrellas to the glut of abandoned umbrellas that clog Lost and Found boxes.

So be kind to the earth and check your local Lost and Found for an umbrella next time you need one.

April 10, 2008

Advice for America's Next Top Model


NASA is really branching out!

February 27, 2008

Hoosier Time Change Wastes Energy

daylight-savings-time.jpgA study from University of California Santa Barbara on Indiana's changeover to DST shows that, contrary to arguments in favor of the change, Indiana actually consumed more energy, not less, in regards to the time change.

Main Conclusions:

  • 1 to 4% increase in energy consumption
  • $8.6 million increase in household energy bills in 2007 in Indiana
  • social costs of increased pollution - $1.6 to $5.3 million per year
  • extensions to DST are most likely to increase demand for residential electricity

I've been a longtime DST skeptic so it's nice to see some solid research done on it. My friends in Indiana, it's not too late! Demand sanity! The cows are right!

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January 7, 2008

Stuff Happens


My good pal Brian sent me this link to The Story of Stuff which traces the production of our unsustainable gluttony of stuff in a very cool interactive format.

Brian told me I should put a link to it on my blog. And of course I do whatever Brian tells me to do. (Brian, get your own damn blog!)

Here's a preview...

July 8, 2007

Saving the World one sandwich at a time

pbj.jpgSo, what are you having for lunch?

Doesn't sound like an earth shattering question, but the people at the PB&J Campaign think differently. They are encouraging people to eat more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to help slow global warming, save water, and save land from deforestation, overgrazing, and pesticides. This is over other lunch alternatives such as burgers or ham sandwiches or even cheese sandwiches. This is all based on eating lower on the food chain and, thus, having a smaller environmental impact. They run the numbers and it's pretty astounding. And, if you are sick of peanut butter and jelly, they suggest some tasty alternatives.

Also, I have to say, their website layout and design is very tasteful and fun.

So, what are you having for lunch?

June 28, 2007

A Real Life Hobbit Hole

woodland-home.jpgCheck out these digs. This family made their own low environmental impact home in Wales out of natural materials. They went from breaking ground to moving in over a period of 4 months and the main tools used were a "chainsaw, hammer and 1 inch chisel." They estimate it took about 1500 man hours and £3000.

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May 6, 2007

Actually, it's pretty easy being green...

dhgreen.gifI've been hearing a lot about going carbon neutral. The concept is pretty simple and thousands of years old. For every sin one must pay penance. And while we don't think about it much websites do contribute to global warming by using energy. While using energy is unavoidable even with conservation, one can offset the negatives by using your resources (typically money) to do things that will decrease the impact in other areas. Well, my host server has gone carbon neutral and, ipso facto, so has my website. I take no credit for this, but I'm pretty happy they take it seriously.

July 2, 2006

Preaching an Inconvenient Truth

Al GoreI had two big takeaways from watching An Inconvenient Truth:

1) Al Gore may be more in love with his Apple laptop than I am with mine. (Note: Al Gore is on the board of Apple.)

2) Al Gore is a very good preacher.

The second point came to me when I was leaving the film and my friend mentioned how good the film was and how she appreciated that Al Gore wasn't "too preachy." And I realized that while he wasn't preachy, he was, in fact, preaching in the best sense. The whole film has a sermonlike quality and structure to it.

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May 21, 2006

How to Mow Smugly

GS_18in_815_18.jpgYesterday I bought, assembled, and used our new mower. Yep, it's a pushie. It seemed quaint and antiquarian but practical. And it fit some basic needs of mine:

1) Affordable: At $125 it wasn't dirt cheap, but not bad considering I was looking forward to a summer of paying the neighbor kid $15 a mow. Additionally, no gas, and that is no small consideration these days.

2) Low Maintainance: I'm lazy.

3) Green: I can now mow the grass with the fervor of an environmental zealot, knowing that not only am I saving myself from the scurlious stares of lawn conscious neighbors, but every time I use it I am a poster boy for conscientious environmentalism. I am neither consuming fossil fuels nor am I contributing to global warming. And isn't half the fun of being green that self-important feeling of being greener-than-thou?

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