Friday, February 27, 2009

Lift Up Your City

You either have it.
Or you don't.
You either need it.
Or you plan to offer it.

But where does it come from?
Do you say "no" or take what you can?

Today's economic climate is stinky, and that's an under statement! So why not do things that actually
really matter for once? That question was recently on the table of ECO-Lakewood, a volunteer committee for the city of Lakewood, OH that works with city officials to implement green initiatives.

Sure we are debating mandatory recycling, having a local farmers market, implementing vending machines with organic food and more. However, because the morale of everyone is so negative, so stinky, so non-creative, so dissatisfying...we had an idea.

The notion to Lift Up Lakewood.

A campaign designed where businesses of Lakewood would give something back to the residents of the city. That's right. The technical term is reverse psychology.
With the way things are right now, the idea is to "lift up" the energy level, the morale, the basic essence of hope in the city.

Some of the thought starters included:

-Free RTA pass for the day
-Free Farmer's Market
for the summer
-Free seeds (flowers or vegetables) for planting

-Free school lunch for students for one day

Before we call the Mayor's office, what are your thoughts?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Toss This Out

Saving money during a down economy…now there’s an idea! How about looking at various ways to save the environment and your wallet? Do you really need to have 7 cups of Starbucks per week? You can treat yourself to one cup and bring the other cup of java from home. Better yet, bring your own mug while you are at it. Of course, there are many other examples, but let’s get to the bigger issues – like FOOD. A report from the Harvard Business review indicated that our British neighbors can save the most amount of money, billions actually, just by bringing lunches to work every day. Here’s the rundown: One third of British workers bring a homemade lunch to work every day. The rest spend an estimated £5.5 billion each year buying lunch. Meanwhile, Britons throw away about a third of the food they buy.

What is getting tossed out?

-Bread (
£821 Million)
-Apples (
£298 Million)
-Cheese (
£243 Million)
-Yogurt (
£169 Million)
-Sliced meat (
£94 Million)
-Fresh lettuce (
£28 Million)
SOURCE: Waste and Resources Action Program

The research also highlights that over 80% of British workers have access to a microwave and 86% to a fridge at the office, yet only one in five eat leftovers for lunch. Why? The primary reason they wish they had more ideas about how to use up their leftovers!

Well, compliments of Love Food Hate Waste, this organization has featured “Free Lunching” in the lead up to Christmas with hassle free ideas on making up great packed lunches from everyday items already in the fridge.

The website also includes helpful advice on using leftovers and information on how to store foods safely.
The top four ‘free lunching’ benefits: -Save money (money not spent on lunch – on average £3.33 - can go straight to Christmas presents) -Cut waste (use up food you might not have eaten, and bring in your own reusable packaging) -Having exactly, and only, what you want (make sure you have just the right amount) -Knowing exactly what is in your food (because you made it!)
Image Source: JBloom Flickr

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Going Nuclear

So here we are in the year 2009, and I've been thinking of some things that have been missing. Shouldn't we already have flying cars? Better infrastructure? More telecommuting? We live in a digital age and we still can't get things right such as dog food free of fertilizers or E.coli in your burgers.

To make this conversation a bit more intellectual, I'd like to discuss nuclear power. Yes, the "n" word of 2009. Many countries are scared by the potential dangers of nuclear power. I'm not talking in the form of weapons, but more so the use of energy. Honestly, they should be given the hazards of towns melting down and radioactive waste that has to be stored. Yet one particular country is in a unique bind - France.
Since the oil shocks in the mid 1970's, the nation built a network of reactors (59 to be exact as of 2008) that now produce roughly four-fifths of the country's electricity. That is pretty amazing, but why? France has no oil, no coal and thus no choice! Secondly, a majority of their political leaders are trained scientists that are brilliant in various disciplines. And last but not least, they choose nuclear because quite frankly the decision-making process has been centralized. So while they might be energy independent, is it perhaps at too high of a cost or risk?

Source:National Geographic, 2009

Flick of the Switch

What began as a campaign to get city folks to turn their lights off, has grown to become one of the world’s biggest climate change initiatives. This year at 8.30pm on March 28, people around the world will turn their lights off for one hour. This is known as the famous - Earth Hour.

The goal is to reach one billion people, more than 1000 cities, all joining together in a mass effort to show their respect to Mother Nature and take action towards global warming. (Yes, even save a buck here and there).

Originally, Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia with 2.2 million homes and businesses turning their lights off for one hour. Only a year later and this event had become a global sustainability movement with up to 50 million people across 35 countries participating. Global landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rome’s Colosseum and the Coca Cola billboard in Times Square, all stood in darkness, as symbols of hope for a cause that grows more urgent by the hour.

Let this be your early reminder and mark your calendars now.
Consume Less. Conserve More – Sustaino!


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Darwin and Biomimicry

What is so special about February 12th?

It is the birthday of Charles Darwin, but more importantly a day of given respect as international recognition for science and humanity. The evolutionary biologist was way ahead of his time as he neglected his medical studies at Edinburgh University in order to study marine invertebrates. Our society is still learning about evolution as we apply his theories of Natural Selection, Art of Creation and Adaptation of Species.

Fast forward to today, his theories are helping modern day biologists explore bigger, better and more efficient designs through the integration of biomimicry. This practice has gained momentum thanks to Janine Benyus, author of Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature and founder of TBI. Biomimicry is known for observing nature and applying its natural abilities to improve products or processes. See examples.

Dirt Free, No Chemicals:
The wings of many large-winged insects such as butterflies and many plant surfaces remain dirt-free without chemical detergents or expending energy, simply by how their complex surface topography interacts with the physics of water molecules. Lotusan® exterior coating uses these same micro-structural principles to regain its cleanliness automatically after the mere rinse of a rain shower. (Source Ask Nature – Biomimicry Institue)

The Thorny Devil can gather all the water it needs directly from rain, standing water, or from soil moisture, against gravity without using energy or a pumping device. Water is gathered to this desert lizard’s mouth by capillary action through a circulatory system on the surface of its skin made of semi-enclosed channels running between scales. Channel surfaces are heavily convoluted, greatly increasing the effective surface area to which water can hydrogen-bond and hence capillary action force. Passive collection and distribution systems of naturally distilled water could help provide clean water supplies to the 1 billion people estimated to lack this vital resource, reduce the energy consumption required in collecting and transporting water by pump action (e.g., to the tops of buildings), and provide a variety of other inexpensive technological solutions such as managing heat through evaporative cooling systems, protecting structures from fire through on-demand water barriers. (Source Ask Nature – Biomimicry Institue)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Bottle This Up

If you haven’t heard about the environmental problems with the global bottled water industry, perhaps you might have been living under a rock for quite some time. Given the state of the unpleasant news, I reviewed an interesting article by Treehugger that got me thinking…. If bottled water is bad, could bottled juices be any better?

Bottle Water in Nutshell:
First it takes million barrels of oil to manufacture the plastic containers. Not to mention the shipping of empty bottles, filling them up, transporting them. You get the point. If you break the numbers down, for 1 liter of Fiji bottled water, which would be imported into the U.S. has carbon emissions estimated at 39% for the production stage and 61% for distributing the filled bottles, or about 0.55 pounds for 1 liter of bottled water.

The Carbon Footprint of OJ:
For the sake of comparison, a Tropicana half gallon of juice comes to 3.75 pounds of carbon. That number is based on more than just squeezing oranges – it is the packaging, distribution, and orange growing. The biggest difference in the two numbers points to fertilizers. Sure, we don’t like insects and diseases in our oranges, but the application and production is the single largest source of emissions.

Now the water example doesn’t seem so bad, right?

What if your bottled water comes from local sources versus being shipped from the other side of the world? More importantly, why not just investing in filtering your water at home? Fresh tap water…you would have thought!
If you can’ t invest in the big filters, try to make greener choices by saying “NO” to the plastic straws during your dinner outings and fast-food lunches.

Image Source: Captain Mouffette’s

Sunday, February 1, 2009

If it fits, Install it!

A clever innovation (Work Bench Magazine 2008) designed to conserve water, reduce diseases, and knock the socks off your dinner guests. For starts, of course, the water is clean. It is no different than the water from your faucet. The water drains to the toilet bowl, not into the tank. So, the sink is considered “grey water”, or used water. In this way, the toilet bowl is refilled with grey water instead of clean water, which is considered recycling.

It may not seem like a whole lot of savings, but it is considerable to Mother Earth once you count up all the flushes from residential and commercial facilities. Yes that includes hospitals, schools, ball parks, neighbors homes, work, etc.

So what is the catch? The benefits are quite simple.

One you are maximizing your water use. When you eliminate the need for additional water, you are conserving and making it easier on your wallet.

Secondly, research shows there is increased hand-washing activity. The convenient location of the sink encourages individuals to use fresh water.

Lastly, it helps to reduce the transmission of diseases. Do you actually like touching the facet handles in public places? I rest my chase.

Source: Sink Positive