Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Instant Home for Christmas

The Instant House project was recently created by Hugon Kowalski of H3AR architecture and design. The theme is to link younger generations with temporary residential units and with a special twist on the concrete application. The cylinders themselves are from styrofoam concrete with a direct purpose of increasing acoustics and insulation and is 12 times lighter than traditional concrete. More importantly it contains T102, which will reduce air pollution.

Image Source: Design Boom

Monday, December 21, 2009

Rock Light and Steady

As Christmas approaches, little memories arise of the good times. What I remember and enjoyed as a kid was simply rocking. Rocking to music, and rocking in a cozy chair.

Take it from Rochus Jacob whose minimalistic-approach has folks lighting up as they rock. The rocking chair generates electricity as the sitter rocks in motion. During daylight, the energy is stored in a battery and bridges the world between complexity, consumption and relaxation. The interesting twist is how does one reduce consumption while enjoying the immediate "on/off" of consumption.

To rock or not to rock?
Oh...just relax and enjoy while using a CFL.

Image Source: Designboom

Monday, December 14, 2009

Hopenhagen Continues

The biggest Climate Change Conference, COP15, is still underway as Copenhagen hosts the 15th UN Climate Change conference. The Bella Center in Copenhagen, Denmark will host 192 countries as they work to come to agreement. The end of 2009 marks an important time to achieve this "last chance" agreement centered around cutting carbon emissions, setting technology action programs, and an overall framework for climate change mitigation. The goal for this agreement is to be approved and ratified in time before the expiration of the Kyoto Protocol in 2012.

We are at a defining moment. This is a critical path for our nations as they decide to take us closer to green prosperity and a sustainable future. Meanwhile, activists are detained, countries such as the U.S. have had no intention to ratify, and other countries such as Chad and Morocco simply are undecided. At this time, we need to unite forces to stablize greenhouse gas production and been to mitigate the pollution problems that not only have current consequences for our eco-systems, but also for future generations to come. Have Hope. Support Hopenhagen.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Looking Up for Greenspace

Need extra green space...when how about looking up? Directly up, above our heads there is a zone with plenty of space, air, moisture, light and general appeal that can be integrated with nature and infrastructure.

Design Boom shares with us Greenspotlight. It is a public light with living plants that were woven into a frame. The public street light provides an ample amount of lighting, the frame provides protection from mother nature's forces (shade, wind, rain, etc.) There is also a ring of integrated planters on the bottom, which helps to combine the light with the greenery.

This is exactly the type of outside-in thinking and approach that cities need to adopt. Too often we are trying to fix old ordinances, updates codes, file for more grants, and increase taxes. What about adopting new design practices and utilizing local artists and design minds that work with existing infrastructure and improve the city? Why do we need meeting consensus and voting on issues that are so tiny when we can make big changes by looking outside the box? Why are we so stuck in our ways when it comes to municipalities and organization?

My vote this week is for Greenspotlight. A brilliant sustaino idea!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cheaper Than Cardboard

We know that when it comes to moving, we have options - green ones. Boxes and packing materials certainly create an insane amount of waste, and sadly, there just are not many other packing alternatives. Providing a solution to this eco-problem is Rent-a-Green Box, a new moving company with an arsenal of green products and services such as:

Recopac (recycled ecological packing solution) boxes made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastics, available in three sizes.
Geami, a 100% recycled cardboard sludge bubble wrap alternative to roll your valuables in. Recocubes, the 100% recycled newspaper sludge "peanut". And my favorite....Reco-zips (to seal the Recopacs), made from 100% recycled plastic bottle caps.

You can order your materials, and Rent-a-Green Box comes to your residence in a biodiesel-fueled truck to drop the goods off, (how cool, eh?!) and picks them up at your new digs when you're done unpacking. Go Rent A Green Box! Go Sustaino!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Say Thanks

Today is a day we recognize heroes that making a difference to our economy and our freedom. If you go to this web site, you can pick out a thank you card, Xerox will print it and send to a soldier that is currently serving in Iraq. You can't pick out who gets it, but it will go to a member of the armed services. There are a variety of partnerships: some use sustainable inks, other use post-recycled shipping materials. Regardless, it is free, legit and will not ask you for your email or contact information. Whether you are for or against the war, our soldiers over there need to know we are behind them. We can never Thank You enough.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

No Tailpipe

There has been an overwhelming amount of interest, enthusiasm and courtship happening as the Nissan LEAF tour continues on the West Coast. It’s a beautiful thing to not have a tail pipeline, or pay for gas, or excrete C02 into the air like its counterparts. About 70 percent of the people in North America who have contacted Nissan about LEAF reside in markets where the all-electric, zero-emission car will be brought to market.

Well, I live in OHIO. Make note of that! Not CA, NY, OR or NJ (where the MINI-E is being piloted). I desperately want a LEAF and would be willing to have a big, phat Nissan logo on it. I’m enthusiastic! I’m ready to opt in! Call or email me! I’ll be one of your 20,000 reservations that the company is targeting.Meanwhile, we wait. Why? Production is geared for the Spring of 2012, where Nissan will be manufacture LEAF and its juicy core, the lithium-ion battery pack, for the U.S. market at the company's plant in Smyrna, Tenn. Go LEAF! Go Sustaino!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Landscape of Oil

In stunning photographs, Edward Burtynsky follows the path of oil from 17 years of work of our modern society. He illustrates from wellhead to pipeline to car engine, and then beyond to the projected peak-oil endgame. He shares how 1 liter of gas comes to be 23 metric tons of generated carbon. So when will peak oil come upon us? Are we close, or have we not seen the peak yet?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tesla + Downey

Elon Musk will be building the greenest and most efficient car manufacturing plant in North America at the Downey Studios in California (former site of a NASA plant). The vote was unanimous by city council that will allow Tesla Motors to bring 5,600 new jobs. The newly conceived Model S (Sedan, $57,000 300-mile charge) will be built in the Downey factory that seems to have a cutting edge reputation already. This location is the same place where the Apollo moon capsules and service modules were manufactured and later major segments of the space shuttle. The current movie studio area occupies roughly 5100 acres that Tesla will need, and the city pitched in nearly $2 million for roof repairs and gave rent on 20 acres that it owns. If Tesla completes the deal, it would be SoCal's first auto manufacturing plant since Chevy left Van Nuys in 1992. Go Tesla! Go Sustaino!

Source: KABC-TV Los Angeles, CA

Monday, November 30, 2009

Soap Hope

What happens after you build up a tech company and then sell it? You save the world and women's health by starting Soap Hope.

Their simple, green mission is that every purchase of their natural soap goes towards helping women in poverty. They invest 100% of their profits into microloans to underprivileged women. The staff does all the research to ensure the products are free of parabens, harmful chemicals, dyes and killer fragrances. They even offer coupons on some of their purchases. With fast online shipping, why not try something green and hopeful for the holidays.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

GoodGuide Scans

Here's an idea - use technology for information. However, there is nothing like have the right information at your fingertips just in time for Thanksgiving. Scan that can of green beans. Scan that bag of wild rice. Scan the whip cream for the pumpkin pie. Most of the barcode information has been scanned, tracked and logged into a super database, which your iPhone can look up to help you make good, healthy, environmental choices.

The free GoodGuide app is stupid simple. Just tap, scan, wait, and review the product ratings. The overall rating is accompanied by three categories of social, environmental and health ratings. Did I mention you don't necessarily need an iPhone to help your green conscience? You can also text "41411" saying "gguide shampoo" and you will be provided with information back indicating that Tom's of Maine, Burt's Bees, and Nuture My Body are the top 3 brands in that category.

Go GoodGuide! GoSustaino!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Talking Trash

To put it in simple terms, plastic outweighs surface zooplankton six to one in the North Pacific Gyre. There is more debris and junk out there than you can imagine and it is killing birds, fish and anything that swims near it. Somewhat like the blob, but worse and real! How does all of this happen?

When a plastic cup or container is thrown on the beach it gets caught in the California Current, (for example) which travels down the coast toward Central America, perhaps off the coast of Mexico to connect with the North Equatorial Current, which flows toward Asia. Off the coast of Japan, the Kuroshio Current could push it eastward again, until the North Pacific Current takes over and carries it past Hawaii to the garbage patch. These are currents that make up the North Pacific Gyre - the ultimate garbage vortex.
Capt. Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation first discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch - an endless floating waste of plastic trash. Now he is drawing attention to the growing, choking problem of plastic debris in our seas. See his adventures and disaster garbage stories here:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Self-repairing Architecture

Venice, Italy is sinking. To save it, Rachel Armstrong says we need to outgrow architecture made of inert materials and, well, make architecture that grows itself. She proposes a not-quite-alive material that does its own repairs and sequesters carbon, too

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Heating Up

The Spanish firm, Acciona Energy, is scaling up for major renewable projects in the U.S. Why and how? The biggest trend is incentives from our federal government. Sadly, our U.S. private companies could not get their act together as fast as the Saudi's and Europeans. This year alone Acciona opened the largest solar thermal plant in 16 years. Starting in Boulder City, NV, with a 64MW plant ($266million) and now planning a project 3 times bigger, in the desert, roughly 200MW strength. Of course, the location is still to be determined and surely sources are investigating feverishly. Today Acciona Energy owns both solar thermal and solar PV farms, and the power that is proposed to be generated by the solar thermal is estimated at $0.15 per kilowatt hour, or roughly half the cost power from panels.

Source: Treehugger News and Politics, Nov. 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bloomingdale Trail Project

New York has the High Line project, San Fran has the Bay Line, now Chicago is making their mark with the Bloomingdale Trail. The project is designed to transform railways into public parks along a 3-mile section of elevated rail. For the Chicago project, the design features include a greenhouse, hydrogen generation facility that offers organic, local food for the community and even provides a fuel source for the Chicago schools. A Sustaino idea for the locals! The Bloomingdale Trail was abandoned in 1980's and co-designed by Gesler and 4240 Architecture. Where is Cleveland's?

Monday, November 16, 2009

High Line Manhattan

Conservation, ecological restoration and industrial transformation are on the hot list these last ten years as big cities (Pittsburgh, Manhattan, Cleveland, and Chicago) are working to beautify their communities. Concrete, plants, brick, vegetable gardens - all living in harmony in the big city roofs and platforms. One of the more popular projects, High Line Project, has been getting the attention of Sustainos, Architects, City Planning Commissioners and Engineers. Why? With access to more federal money in form of grants and working to attract the Brain Gain, cities are working to one-up another each other while supporting the notion of buy local. Buy local at restaurants, stores, museums and art galleries!

The High Line project has been gaining lots of momentum (with the railway trains) through three of Manhattan's tremondous, dynamic, funky neighborhoods. These include the Meatpacking District, West Chelsea, and Hell's Kitchen/Clinton. When the High Line was built in the 1930's, the neighborhoods were dominated by industrial and transportation uses. Now many of the warehouses and factories have been transformed into hip art galleries, uber cool design studios, museums, residencies and restaurants.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Nissan is taking the LEAF, fully electric vehicle (EV) on the road today as they tour Los Angeles for four days. It is part of the Zero Emission Tour covering 11 states, 22 cities between now and February 14th. The goal is to build up awareness and commitment to being the first-mass-produced EV.

That's right - it's almost within our reach! (Hurray up MINI-E). With roughly a 100-mile range, top speed of 87mph, the battery can be charged in 30-minutes to reach 80% capacity. Not bad in comparison to the MINI-E, with about a 150-mile range, top speed of 92mph, and taking about 3 hours for a full charge. As the tour extends, the momentum builds, 2,500 network stations are under construction in Oregon, San Diego, Tennessee, and Phoenix. To read tour updates and schedules, visit the microsite here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Eating Animals

An inspiring book by Jonathan Safran Foer called Eating Animals has hit a nerve with Foodies, Sustainos and Farmers. Indeed, a head-turning title that reveals the truth and challenges associated with our modern day meat-friendly diets. His book is part of the on-going documentary and educational trend complimenting Food, Inc., King Corn, Omnivores Dilemma, and The Future of Food. (I highly recommend seeing and reading all!). Each has a common, scary theme that points to corporate profits and the mass production of food, much of which is genetically modified.

This human food experiment becomes more real and "in your face" as the author documents the human costs of factory farming consisting of the dangers for slaughterhouse workers to the environmental effects of mass meat productions. He details how large amounts of pig shit, commonly sprayed into the air, is linked to increasing human respiratory problems as well as the mutation of new bacterial strains from antibiotic overuse on animals. While that is only scratching the surface on our nation's food conundrums, he takes a deeper look into our belief system associated with the symbolic relationship of food and traditions. To see the video and interview with Ellen, click here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I'm back after a long weekend in Los Angeles, CA, absorbing not only some sunshine but a wealth of knowledge on new sustainable trends. While attending the 3rd Annual Opportunity Green Conference at UCLA, I felt grateful for having the opportunity to meet some of our nation's top sustainable brands, authors and entrepreneurs that are making a difference in our green economy. One of the many sponsors of the conference was MiniUSA as they showcased a variety of Mini-E's on the market. I was able to borrow one mug, fully electric, the whole weekend from a relative that is currently leasing one of the 500 in the marketplace today. Incredibly quiet, smooth, sexy and long lasting with a 150-mile range with speeds up to 92MPH. I quickly learned that I have a lead foot and the power went from 75% to 50% after aggressive driving. The regenerative breaking took some getting use to, but after 10-minutes many get the hang of not placing your foot on the brake as the vehicle slowly coasts and slows down.

Unfortunately, for the MidWest, South and East, the Mini E is not currently has option. The 500 vehicles are part of a one year pilot program in CA, NY, and NJ. Every 3 months drivers are asked to take in their vehicle for a short appointment where data is downloaded to learn about driving patterns, performance and battery maintenance. There has been talk that the owners may have the opportunity to have the program extended after one year or buy-out the vehicle. Again, negotiations with Munich headquarters are still underway to review data and demand.

As a Sustaino, I would love to have the opportunity to purchase one and install a plug-in option in my garage. With testing still underway, competition from Nissan LEAF, a fully electric vehicle (EV), is finalizing their contract for distribution in the U.S. Their Zero-Emission tour starts on Nov. 13th Los Angeles.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Auto XPrize 2009

The XPrize is a $10million+ award given to an individual or team that completes a specific goal, which is set by the XPrize Foundation. The XPrize taps in our competitive bones and creative minds as we work hard to see the fruits of our efforts solve national or global challenges. For the Auto category, this year's challenge is to produce a super fuel efficient vehicle as a reasonable real-world option. See a few of the 43 finalists from 10 countries. For more details, check out autoblog and Design Boom.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Dirty Energy

Who says you can't play with dirt? Most smart geeks are nowadays, especially, the Lebone team of Harvard scientists who are transforming ideas into off the grid technology. For years, scientists have been aware that small amounts of electricity could be harvested from a metabolic reaction of good ole bacteria. After huge investments in R&D and elbow grease, the innovators known today as Lebone, have been working to end Africa's energy and light crisis through the emerging technology of microbial fuel cells (MFC's).

The MFC's were small pouches of inexpensive wire and manure rich soil that could power LED lights and charge cellphones. With tweaks to their design, in 2008, the Lebone team (meaning light stick in Southern African Sotho language) tested their prototypes in Tanzania. Arriving in a 5-gallon bucket, the device comprised a graphite cloth anode, chicken wire, manure mud (for fuel), sand (for the ion barrier) and saltwater (as an electrolyte). The learnings from the field test proved helpful for the 2009 pilot program featuring 100 interconnected MFC's for increased voltage. As long as the microbes were kept happy by munching away, the power could be produced. Read more about the team's African adventures here.
Image and Source: Popular Mechanics, Nov. 2009.

Seeping Below

Deep below the Arctic Ocean, German and English scientists have found hundreds of methane gas plumes. Using sonar to identify 250 columns of bubbles, the findings point to a large source of methane. With this discovery, the US DOE says there is more energy in the trapped methane than all the world's combined fossil fuels. So what's stopping us from tapping it?

For starters, it's extremely cold the last time I checked in the Arctic. Meaning some of the bubbling and leaking methane become icelike hydrate and is trapped in the seabed, while the gas is released as the sediment thaws. More interestingly, a majority of the methane currently released from the ocean sediment and/or seabed is dissolved into the seawater. The good news it prevents the greenhouse gas (GHG) from reaching the atmosphere. The bad news is the increasing acidification of the water.

Source: Popular Mechanics, Nov. 2009
Image Source: Uprising Radio

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Eco Composter

I was watching Ask This Old House, on Sunday as usual and seemed to be magnetized by the a unique sphere. A tumbler system, known as the Eco Composter, is ideal for breaking down material into rich nutrients. Food scraps and leaves can be easily added to this innovative airflow system. While the holes are beneficial, you also won't have to break your back turning your compost because this one rolls allowing for easy mixing. Made of recycled materials, this 71-gallon composter one-ups traditional 25 and 50-gallon closed bins. Its easy to assemble, costs roughly $170 with a strong base stand, and properly closes to avoid having animals eat any of your leftovers.

Source: Green Living 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Waves of Energy

Over the river and through the waves to San Francisco here I come. While surfers have collectively been magnetized to the west coast, an attractive site about 5 miles from the city's western beach is being scoped out for the Ocean Wave Energy Project. And it's simply that - a sustaino project investigating the potential of wave energy generation from the Pacific Ocean. For clarification, this is not tidal power.

For years, man has been trying desparately to harness energy from the earth's natural resources. Even water, while predictable, is not always controllable due to temperature variations, wind resistance, weather disturbances and lack of technology. While we certainly don't have a shortage of technology now, BioPower Systems, is one-upping our nation's green attempts through the integration of biomimicry. Inspired by the creatures it will live with, bioWAVE's modular wave system will be considered for the proposed Ocean Wave Energy Project and may lead to further project development, according to John Doyle, acting manager of infrastructure at San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. Thanks to heart-thrub, Mayor Gavin Newson, his leadership and vision to making San Francisco profitable, productive and sustainable, has put forth a new meaning to Triple Bottom Line while showcasing multiple city case studies.

These specific bioWAVE units, developed for 250kW, 500kW, 1000kW capacities, will connect to a utility-size power grid via subsea cables. It is predicted that the same Californian waves that boogie-up surfers could generate between 10MW and 100MW of power. That’s enough energy to power between 3,000 to 30,000 homes annually.

Source: Ode Magazine - Intelligent Optimists, 2009

Monday, November 2, 2009

Future Joysticks

Let's start November off on the right foot. More like non-lead foot with this electric vehicle from Toyota. The FT-EV II, "Future Toyota Electric Vehicle II" is cute as a button; however, the specs are unique and appealing even if you are not a fuel cell engineer or professional racecar driver.

Powered by a lithium-ion battery, the FT-EV II can easily zoom away with four passengers. From a design perspective, it is meant for short distances (92 mph top speed and 56 mile range) and based on the idea of future mobility societies. It is part of their brand philosophy to be futuristic, functional and innovative. Interestingly, it also has a joystick, which controls the brakes, steering and throttle, but not the seamless large windows and LED powered lights. It's being categorized as Ultra-compact (compared to the Toyota iQ). It's compact, cute, fast, and eco-friendly, and coming to a dealership near you in 2012.

Image Source: Design Boom, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

Holy Pumpkin!

Look out Monsanto! We have a classic farmer that is taking on the World Record for the "heavy weight" pumpkin of the year. Steve Connolly, a New Englander, is a creator/grower of massive pumpkins, and the secret is in the seeds. His vegetative art has respectfully been called, "The Beast of the East". This year weighing in at 1,689 pounds. Last year, a tiny crack at the bottom on his glorious pumpkin cost him the prize (that one weighed 1,568 pounds).

He continues to keep the competitive spirit alive by morphing and transforming the old time 400 pound classics into a full time passionate hobby (ok, maybe an obsession) that is modifying seeds. So what happens in the end of it all? The winner takes home $10,000 and the gourd is artistically transformed into a jack-o-lantern, compost, and even boats for the neighborhood kids.

Source: National Geographic, 2009
Image: Boston News

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Zombie Naps

Coffin couches are an appropriate trend this season if you want to zone out zombie-style while watching all those scary, Halloween movies. This niche popped up in Southern California has local funeral homes were donating their steel cages which were recycled and transformed in beautiful couches. Although too small to see, the six cast iron heavy duty legs are embossed with the universal biohazard insignia (once a human body is placed in a coffin it is considered biohazard tissue). Even more is the expansion of mini coffins to hold wine bottles, serve as chairs, or hold prized possessions.

Source: Sierra Club and Coffin Couches

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Paper transformed into furniture

A sustaino concept, presented by Qianqian Tao, shows us the "way" or the "path" to true recycling enlightenment. The whole point of even recycling our unused paper is to actually use it for something meaningful and purposeful. This creative receptacle takes the old paper and mixes it with cement. That's right, toilet paper, office paper, and magazines get compressed together to form a hard structured bin. The bin can be used as another trash can, a sitting or stepping stool (if turned upside down) or even a funky end table for your home or apartment. Find out more details here: Yanko Design or Unplgged

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Need Extra Pumpkins?

A friend and I were discussing the benefits of eating locally grown food. You know the usual perks of less toxins, supporting farmers and the community, no plastic bags, improved labeling and not having to pay an arm and a leg at the big retailers. And we started to share stories about food, especially extra food including co-op programs, and CSAs...wondering where does all the extra food go? Even non-profits have policies that do not allow them to accept food from farmers due to liability. Interesting, eh? I mean people are hungry nowadays especially between the downtown streets of Cleveland to the rural farms in Amish country. As this Halloween season kicks off, I challenge you to determine to find out what does WalMart, Giant Eagle, Whole Foods, Marcs, etc. do with their extra pumpkins? Once November 1st hits, isn't demand suddenly in the trenches for pumpkins? I don't see anyone lining up to add extra food to their compost bins. What do you think? Where does it all go? Does it impact even the Arctic polar bears?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Unplug that Vampire

Vampires love blood - always have and always will. It is like a jolt of electricity that gets them going. Even today, vampires still exist. Certain electronics such as laptops, televisions, and especially cell phone chargers continue to draw power even when you are not using them. It is called the "vampire suck" and you can kill them at the source by using handy devices that have on/off switches. There are also special surge protectors nowadays that perform the same task that basically save power by plugging your desktop, printer, and fax machine through a "smart" power strip. Smart strips can sense when electronics are idle and cut off the power flow to vampires. Devices like the WattStopper and the Smart Strip Power Strip can be ordered online.
Source: Treehugger News
Flicr Image: Trixie Deluxe

Friday, October 23, 2009

Scrubbing Pellets

My grandma use to scrub my dirty, muddy, soccer socks until they were pearly white. She would use toxic bleach, lots of elbow grease and tons of soap. Well, what if Grandma didn't have to work so hard and could clean with limited soap and water? I would go for it!

Xero's prototype machine is a look into how modern day laundry geeks will be washing bras, underwear, jeans and shirts. This machine uses nylon pellets, just like in our carpet, which has good properties that make it "easy to stain" as well serves as an excellent scrubbing mechanism. It works by polarizing the molecules that attract soil and in the humidity created by little water. Of course, we are not talking zero water, just 90 percent less water that eliminates energy intensive spins and dryer blasts. For each 45 pound load, the prototype uses 8 gallons of water compared to 80 gallons. I'd said this puts a whole new meaning on blasting dirt in a Sustaino-way.

Source: Popular Science, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lifesaver Bottle

Too much of the world lacks access to clean drinking water. Engineer Michael Pritchard did something about it by inventing the portable Lifesaver filter, which can make the most revolting water drinkable in seconds. See the video.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Take the Stairs

While technology is here to help us, there are some decisions we can make for ourselves. Imagine what fun we can have in our day by simply choosing...the stairs. See the inside creative look of how VW in Stockholm helped the locals take the stairs 66% of the time - just simply for fun!

Friday, October 16, 2009


We have ULTra in England (Urban Light Transit), so why not PUMA (Personal Urban Mobility & Accessibility)? This is the new concept proposed by Segway to take the brand to a whole new transportation level. It addresses some of the joys of public transit, while weaving in an alternative, futuristic approach to our nation's transportation revolution.

It's like a rickshaw on steroids along with a modern day makeover and domed weatherproof roof. For the low carbon footprint, eco-travler, this commute will take you between 25 to 35 mph on a single battery charge. The Urban-lights can still opt for a bike ride or the city slugging option; however, this puts a new definition on whistling for inner city taxi cabs and your ride home after a blind date.

Source: Trend Central News, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Compact Urban Bike

Urban bikers and college professors are salivating as the trend in innovation shifts from bigger and better to smaller and more functional. The latest news from Treehugger highlights the "most compact urban bike" from designer, Victor Aleman. This beast has folding wheels with six modules, and an endless amount of room when it comes to packing light.

Critics are quick to point out that pedals are necessary instead of foot-bars, or the triangle frame may not properly support the weight of the biker. Whatever happened to not having the "status quo" and serving up something new that is still functional? How about setting aside your critiques and witness a zero-waste initiative unfold with appealing design! For starters, a brilliant individual was able to engineer something incredible out the of box, in which a corporation with tons of CAD software, intelligent engineers and superb marketers cannot even produce. With design blending more sex appeal with functional performance, the communities begin to be re-excited about reducing their carbon footprints and tackling our climate challenges in a whole, new, fun way.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Design Boom Green Life Awards

The Incheon International Design Awards (2009) had a call for entries on "green life". There were 3,709 designers from 96 countries that focused on this year's philosophy of "harmony with humanity and nature." Sounds simple, right? Well, there were 3 focused categories of:

1) Green design for humans (products and household items)

2) Green design for cities (infrastructure, building layout, etc.)

3) Green design for communication (entertainment, movie clips, and promotional items)

[Drum roll....]

And the winners are:

1st prize
dds.jpg rss.jpg
' thermodynamic cooler and murakami chair' design by : rochus jacob from usa

2nd prize
' the tree ring web ' design by : zhang jian + ma lian lian from china


' save water brick ' design by : jin-young yoon + jeongwoong kwon from korea

3rd prize
' green life style ' design by : chun sic park from korea

' local plate ' design by : david veldkamp from usa

' balloon ' design by : bart baccarne from belgium

Source: Designboom 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Food Where We Live

The locavores gathered this past Sunday at the Bela Dubby cafe in Lakewood for the film screening of PolyCultures. This documentary, produced by Less Productions, was highlighted at the Cleveland International Film Festival and takes an in-depth look into the diverse communities around Northeast Ohio who are grouping together to grow a more sustainable, local food system. So, what is polycultures? It is one principle of permacultures, using multiple crops in different techniques. These techniques include crop rotation, intercropping, companion planting and beneficial weeds. It is a system designed to incorporate human labor for the growth of nutritious, wholesome food that educates communities about how we can get off the sugar/fat hamster wheel, decrease our obesity epidemic and reduce our dependency on foreign oil.

With such a community-based model, local citizens within Lakewood, Cleveland, Tremont and Cleveland Heights are approaching their city council teams to revitalize their cities. How? We are seeing vacant lots transform into community gardens, old building rooftops are platforms to produce local veges for urban communities and ultimately jolt the notion the urban agriculture (aka urban ag.) One big advocate for such a local model, is Tom Bullock (Lakewood Councilman-Ward 2). He is currently running for State Representative Ohio District-13 with the intent to bring new progressive leadership to Northeast Ohio. In these trying economic times, his recommended solutions are three simple approaches. 1) Green jobs - transforming our rust belt into a green belt, 2) Reform - helping us to have leaner, cleaner and smarter government, and 3) Service - answering President Obama's call to make an ongoing commitment to serve our communities.

The natural tie to local politics, community service and urban ag is the new trend of eco-nomics. It is advocates like Tom Bullock and the PolyCulture team that are assisting our local economy not only with jobs, money and stability, but also with spirit, pride and a sense of gratification. Join us in being a frugal hero and help to make a difference for our communities. For more information, see the PolyCultures trailer:

Monday, October 12, 2009


They say that money doesn't grow on trees. Yet, money is made of paper from trees, right? So how do we balance the "push and pull" relationship that Americans find themselves in nowadays? We want healthy, nutritious food, but most can't afford it and resort to their $.99 Whoppers and Big Macs. We want clean water, but most can't afford a Brita. We want clean streets, yet again, most are not educated about recycling practices. Quite a conundrum for such a wealthy nation. And while our experts are devising new strategies and crafting new technologies, there are simple applications and habits that we can adopt TODAY. The notion of eco-nomics! When times are tough, you go into save and conserve mode.

And some of the simple acts of being a good student of the eco-nomic philosophy includes:
1) Being a frugal foodie (buy local, shop at Farmers Markets)
2) Invest in Green
3) Keep a thrifty home - one man's junk is another man's treasure
4) Drive more efficiently and carpool
5) Live a less is more lifestyle

Consume Less. Conserve More. GoSustaino!

Source: Planet Green 2009

Friday, October 9, 2009

Organic Lawns

Lawn expert Paul Tukey, from Safe Lawns and author of The Organic Lawn Care Manual, was interviewed on NPR – Science Friday. He explained how to have less weeds and more lush.

For starters, get a soil test. Make sure you know your current PH and Nitrogen mix which is important. Most often folks need more calcium – often found in gypsum and limestone. More importantly,
weeds are the messenger. Instead of using chemicals to kill the messenger, you need to treat the soil and improve the conditions. The weeds are not the problem. More interestingly, Ohio State University did a study that those extra clippings provide 50% extra nutrients. They heavy grass clippings should be removed, which prevent sunlight and water getting to the roots. However, mow higher to keep the weeds down.

The soil needs to be alive. It needs to drink, eat and excrete. Be a good student and make sure you do your homework when choosing the best seeds that allow you to use less water, less fertilizers, less weeds and such much more. When it comes to fertilizing, choose organic. It will take time – why? Organic is food for the soil; not the grass. Organic products take much longer to work, but are more sustainable. The chemical fertilizers such leach out, often run out in the water or rain showers and don’t absorb into the soil; it only treat the surface.

Source: NPR Science Friday

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Transparent Food

Corporate transparency doesn't start or stop just with food prices. It is more about the "system" and how our food is properly grown, processed, labeled, shipped and marketed. Actually, it is more about how the system is broken, and consumers (like you and I) that care, will find out the truth.

Let's start with chickens and corn. For a juicy, inside look into the hazardous, toxic environments, I recommend watching Food, Inc. It is a documentary that showcases the unflattering events that have led to America's corporate controlled food industry. We want breasts, right? Big, white, meaty breasts from chickens. The last time, I checked a chicken should not be so fat it can't walk, should not be sleeping or walking in it's own feces and definitely should not be treated like a "bug in a jar" without proper care, light, food or water. But if you'd like to eat an animal that mistakes it's own poop for food, then by all means you can surely eat that "type" of protein if you'd like.

And actually, I enjoy meat! Beef burgers, chicken tortillas, fish tacos, etc. However, the critical factor is that my life should not be a gamble when I eat food that is processed by unregulated laws. Why can't I determine if my chicken is from Ohio or from China or Brazil? Why can't I read on a simple label like my cereal that my chicken or beef was fed naturally and raised naturally knowing that I won't get E.Coli or die from virulent strain of O157:H7. In our nation, this contamination has led to the recall of beef in 3,000 grocers in 41 states due to numerous deaths of our simple staple. May I remind you we had this with spinach, tomatoes, jalapenos, and what is next? What can I eat safely?

Do your part to be educated, informed, buy local, choose local and push for reform that puts the power of eating safe foods back in the hands of consumers, and not at the table of greedy corporate board members and executives. From barn to bowl, or pasture to plate, we have a choice to eat healthy, reduce our obesity epidemic, get off the sugar/fat cycle and eat wholesome meat and potatoes just like before with a smile on our face. Not a frown from being poisoned...

Source: NY Times, E.Coli news
Image: Trendwatching, 2009

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sexy Solar Part Two

It was officially switched "on" in August 2009 and you can see the big smiles on the investors' faces. It is the first U.S. operational solar tower facility. The mirrors on the arrays reflect the sun's energy to a dedicated tower. This iconic tower boils water to steam that travels through long pipes to provide juice to a turbine. Viola! We have electricity! This plant, created by a Pasadena-based company, called ESolar, Inc., will provide power to 4,000 homes. See the video.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Windbelt Devices

Inventor Shawn Frayne, young entrepreneur under the age of 30, has created a new idea or way to capture wind energy. His company Humdinger Wind Energy, based in Hawaii, creates and builds windbelt devices that harness wind moving across a tense membrane or belt. Essentially, a game changer that will pull in energy from the wind.

Frayne believes his devices will deliver power (excluding the installation costs) for $0.05 cents per kilowatt hours, about 1/3 of what Californians pay for electricity. Humdinger is in negotiations to license the technology to other companies for uses such as powering mobile phone towers, wireless routers, and maybe even delivering power to our current grid.

Another Hero Sustaino making incredible strides for our economy!