Friday, May 29, 2009

Goats and Weed Control

A new philosophy and approach to weed control nowadays doesn’t call for toxic fertilizers, harsh chemicals, or even gas hungry equipment. It’s a goat-getting solution that is an eco-friendly marriage between modern day urban planning and traditional farming.

The idea that was adopted last September by the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency involved having goats clean up (more like eat up) the downtown grassy areas. Basically, a herder drives in roughly 100 goats that munch away at weeds and grass along the streets. The goats clear away vegetation in hard to reach areas and graze on any leftover seeds that the pesticides and general mowing leave behind. A typical border collie is sometimes on sight helping to move, motivate and keep the goats in line as they feed on their afternoon lunch.

Many citizens and city workers have complimented that the effort is uplifting, joyful and that the goats are much more cute to look at than heavy equipment and gas-powered weed wackers. From a cost perspective, the agency has shared that the goats were being rented for $3,000. The cost of hiring workmen to clear the 2 1/2 -acre hillside would have totaled as much as $7,500.

Image Source: RedStar Flickr

Monday, May 25, 2009

Capture This

In Spremberg, Germany, the Schwarze Pump power plant captures 95% of the CO2 from the coal it burns and stores it in tanks through CCS (Carbon capture and storage). It is the process and technology that harnesses carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and locks it away in various storage devices. It was a pilot-scale program that began only in September 2008! So while CO2 may be the top ubiquitous element, we are also talking about capturing ammonia, sulfur dioxide, and methane. So if the technology and knowledge exists, what is taking so long?

Well, imagine having Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell knock on your door telling you that you can now make a phone call. In order for everyone else to share in your experience you need telecommunication lines. The wires, poles, and bandwidth – the whole recipe is more intricate and time consuming to apply. Same principle with CCS as there is numerous coal powered plant locations.

There are also two options to make this real - 1) store the carbon on-site or 2) apply the technology to preexisting plants and design a storage location offsite, which will be more expensive. However, President Obama has labeled the technology as important for "energy independence" and included $3.4 billion in the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for "clean coal" power. It’s a dirty business that comes with hope and a hell of a lot of smart individuals that are working to fight against global warming, climate change, and the consequences of burning fossil fuels.

Image Source: Vanttenfall, Learn more at Scientific American

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Green Entrepreneurs

For most entrepreneurs, when someone says "That's impossible" or "It can't be done."...that is sometimes fuel to go further, to go stronger, to simply work harder. If you are dreaming about green in way, shape or form, then here is your daily inspiration.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Reduce, Reuse, Receptacle, eh?

Ahh!! Memorial day weekend is coming soon. Time for grillin' and making garbage. Between all the plastic hot dog bags, sporks, and beer cans...ever wonder where that garbage really goes? Well, the city of Lakewood has been doing some pre-planning when it comes to recycling.

If you missed some of the activities around Earth Day there is a new kind of receptacle on the streets of Lakewood along Detroit and Madison Avenue. Local artists were called upon by ecoLakewood, a volunteer group that works with City Council to help beautify Lakewood and implement sustainable practices (e.g. recycling, farmers markets, community gardens, and CSA programs). As part of a trendy “green smART” community project, the “Art of Recycling" contest was held on the front steps of the library. The goal was to creatively design a 55-gallon bin that would encourage recycling in the community.

Green Smart Gifts, Local Girl Gallery and Lakewood is Art selected eight artists, provided them a $150 stipend to cover the costs of materials and time, and viola! While seven bins might not be enough (evaluations are being tracked) - it is a step in the right direction.

Source: ecoLakewood 2009

Friday, May 15, 2009

Ride your Bike to Work Day

Seems like everyone nowadays is talking about carbon footprints and reducing emissions. Well, this week is "Ride your Bike to Work Day". New Hampshire has a national bike/walk to work day. The Bike Coalition celebrated on May 14th for "Bike to Work." In my opinion, it doesn't get any better than biking to work, in Bozeman Montana, with your dog, in 30 degree weather. How about that for reducing footprints? Hell...just bike to work everyday!
Source: Patagonia, Pascal Beauvais

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Summertime Grillin'

As summer time approaches, most men get excited to fire up their grills for juicy burgers and brats. You know their nicknames….”King of the Coals” or the usual “Grillin’ Man”. Well, charcoal is notorious for its effects on the environment and human health, but for backyard grilling a new modern alternative has emerged.

Sologear's uGO FlameDisk is an eco-friendly grilling option that uses solid ethanol as its fuel source and lights instantaneously with the touch of a match, no lighter fluid required. You simply peel off the protective film, place the disk in the grill and light it. The aluminum disk is ready to cook on in less than a minute—saving roughly half an hour in time that would ordinarily be spent waiting for charcoal to heat up—and will continue to burn for at least 40 minutes.

What about the heat output? FlameDisk is similar to that of charcoal, but it creates no ash and it cools to the touch in just minutes. Best of all, the ethanol fuel produces 99 percent less carbon monoxide than charcoal does. If you are a die-hard fan of that charcoal-based flavor, you can buy a “Smoker Plate” available to recreate that taste.

With Father’s day coming up next, this makes a great gift at $4.99 online via the Home Shopping Network.

Source: SpringWise Trendwatching

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pontoon City

Architecture that can float is now very much in vogue.

The Dutch engineering firm Dura Vermeer has committed itself to building floating towns (aka pontoon cities). An entire flotilla of floating greenhouses as The New York Times writes, "For the first time in its long history, the Netherlands has begun to strategically uncreate itself," in the face of future oceanic flooding. Starting in 2005, the government planned a 15-year program to buy up land and reserve it as flood plain, mostly along riverbanks. The Dutch are also exploring a solution as old as the first flood – “floating architecture."Part of this architecture plan is a mix of urbanism-meets-the-hovercraft . At very least, the design plans included floating railway yards, tugboats and cargo, floating greenhouses for continuous supply of fruits and vegetables, built in water-purification systems, and more.

With such as philosophical change, the city officials began to wonder if a floating concrete superhighway that drifts across the Pacific Ocean would be necessary. Let’s just stick to jet skis for now. To see more ideas visit Core 77-Surviving the Flood.

Source: Credit to BLDG Blog

Friday, May 8, 2009

Plug it in

The MINI has done it! With the LA Auto Show wrapping up, the buzz on the streets of Los Angeles is about the mysterious fleet of 500 purely electrically driven MINI E’s onto American roads. Over the next 12 months, 500 qualified individuals have agreed to take on a lease (roughly $850 a month) with free insurance. These selected MINI fans will be asked to give the MINI E a thorough workout over the course of the year and use their experiences to help the MINI experts perfect its innovative drive system.

How does the technology work? As soon as the driver takes his foot off the accelerator, the electric motor assumes the role of a generator. This creates braking force, and the power recovered from the kinetic energy is fed into the battery. The intensive use of this technology allows the car's range to be extended by up to 20 percent.

What about juice? A wallbox is installed in the driver's garage and enables a higher amp, which ensures extremely short charging times. The wallbox takes no more than two and a half hours to charge up the battery.

So we are talking about…carbon-free driving (zero carbon emissions!!!) powered by a 100 % electric motor, seamless acceleration to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 8.5 seconds, and a top speed of 152 km/h (95 mph) – that's big news for a mini car.

Image Source:

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Who is David De Rothschild?

David De Rothschild, the Brit and heir to one of the most famous fortunes in banking, has decided to take on the title of “Enviro Crusader”. His hyperactive life has allowed him to complete a journey across Antarctica via the South Pole in January 2005, and five months later he set a speed record for crossing the Greenland ice cap. While he could be buying his own island, the London-based beau has launched himself on a series of radical expeditions to the corners of the earth.

What is his next green journey? In Summer 2009, David de Rothschild and a crew of experts, scientists and creatives will sail 12,000 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean from San Francisco to Sydney in a boat made out of plastic bottles and recycled waste products. His boat dubbed the Plastiki will specifically sail through the Eastern Pacific Garbage Patch, a floating vortex of trash located between California and Hawaii that's twice the size of Texas. His purpose is to use his love of adventure and the power of the Internet in order to bring the world together to fight against global warming and environmental degradation

You can also hear about the plans as he is one of the planned keynote speakers for this year’s Greener by Design conference held in San Francisco on May 19-20.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Bye-Bye Gasoline

The Vectrix VX 1 ($10,495) isn’t the first electric scooter out there, but it is the first highway legal, all electric, two-wheel vehicle. The 2009 VX-1 is a redesigned version of the Vectrix Personal Electric Vehicle with new graphics, four intense colors and new accessories. Who knew that doing the right thing could be so eco-iconic and fun?

Not only is it powerful for electric, but can travel at 62 mph, has a range of 35-55 miles, and does it all for about a penny a mile. It can accelerate from 0 to 50 in under 7 seconds (fast enough for me) and can hold a charge up to a 55 mile range.

What color do you prefer? Click here.
Source: National Geographic, 2009

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Fiat eco:drive

No more Fix It Again Tony…Fiat has introduced eco:Drive, a free, easy-to-use tech package which monitors and gathers data while driving. It’s not big brother, it just an alert system that helps to educate you about your driving behavior – like a concierge or personal assistant.

With the eco:Drive system, currently available on a number of new Fiat models, you are able to track acceleration, deceleration, gear changes and overall speed. The data are loaded onto a USB flash drive which the driver plugs into the car. Post-drive, the user can plug it into a computer where the USB's eco:Index analyzes and charts the data to show drivers how to adjust their driving to improve fuel consumption, reduce CO2 emissions, and save money.

Drivers also have the opportunity to upload data to the eco:Village online community to compare with other drivers. Oh yeah baby! The launch of the monitoring system in the U.S. is still in the works…

Source: TrendCentral and Fiat Eco-Drive

Friday, May 1, 2009

Package This Up

What’s in this box?

A. A new Victoria Secret outfit
B. A sweatshirt and sweatpants
C. Several pairs of girlie outfits
D. 2 credit card sized gift cards

I bet you already knew the answer was “D”.

Talk about environmentally irresponsible packaging. My friend’s daughter received this as a gift, but wasn’t prepared for the shock. When they saw that there was no gift inside, they wondered why couldn’t the friend have just an email or envelope to accomplish the same thing.

Consume Less. Conserve More.

Image Source: Flickr Butler Collection