Wednesday, April 28, 2010

You Are What You Eat

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) always recommend eating more fruits and veggies and buying them organic if you can, but we know that sometimes they're too expensive or flat-out unavailable. That's why they have created the Shopper's Guide to Pesticides (download here). You’ll be able to know which fruits and vegetables have the lowest pesticide residues and which you should try to always buy organic. This guide was created in partnership with renowned medical expert on natural health and wellness, Dr. Andrew Weil. He shares below in his video that making healthy food choices is simple and leads to money saved and improved quality of life.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Disappearing Lawns

What’s up with Suburbanites and their lawns? For decades, families have been obsessed with growing and grooming perfect green lawns. Fungicides, fertilizers, and mulching all for the sake of having your kids play in open landscape or providing a piss area for your dog. Why? To what end? It’s an endless, cyclical cycle of one-upping the neighbors and spending money on a puzzling question, “How sustainable is your yard?”

Last year I spoke with homeowners in various cities from Pensacola, Boston, Miami, Atlanta and Los Angeles. All complained about the higher prices of water, which is essential for basic seed growth. All also experimented with organic fertilizers to prevent run-off of toxic chemicals into the water table and not to mention the need for gas for hourly mowing, trimming and edging.Fast forward, the trend I've been seeing is that lawns are disappearing. In their place are an interesting mixture of ground covers, succulents, ivy, shrubs, and evergreens. Although more yards are including compost bins, rain barrels and other sustainable features, the benefit of having less lawn and an anchor of native plants is coming more attractive. Our busy lives and shrinking wallets from the recession gives us less time and money to maintain grass blades and weeds. Why not opt for a sustainable yard that offers less maintenance, disease resistant and doesn’t have to be artificially feed?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day Founder

Earth Day was founded by Gaylord Nelson, Governor and Congressman from Wisconsin. He gave thousands of speeches to encourage political and social action on the environment. His speeches are still quoted today, shared on NPR and made to be an inspiration for all generations.

So, in the most simple form, what was the goal of Earth Day?

A: "Our goal is an environment of decency, quality and mutual respect for all human beings and all other creatures—an environment without ugliness, without poverty, without discrimination, without hunger and without war. Our goal is a decent environment in its deepest and broadest sense." - Gaylord Nelson.

As we honor Earth Day, we honor the man from Clear Lake, WI and his accomplishment to get a nationwide demonstration of concern for the environment.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

LOHAS Living in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh certainly is not Seattle or Los Angeles when it comes to environmental trends, but it can now proudly announce the region’s first net-zero energy home. Located in the South Side neighborhood, Riverside Mews, is a 48-unit green townhome community. To achieve net-zero energy, the 1,850-square-foot townhome generates as much power as it uses on an annual basis through a variety of green building technologies, including an 8,000 watt photovoltaic array mounted on its roof, a geothermal heat pump, LED lighting, Energy Star labeled products and super insulation methods. Combining a LOHAS lifestyle with eco-features is not only trendy but a modern day approach o healthy living. The public is invited to tour this net-zero energy home on Saturday, April 24 and Sunday, April 25 from noon - 4 p.m. It is located at 1820 Merriman Way, 15203.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lighting the Way

Dutch designer, Piet Hein Eek brings new life to old lighting units by recycling them and transforming them into new creations. This chandelier of individual lamps is comprised of lamps set inside a round metal rod and strung together in unique vertical and circular formats. A tough task for such delicate materials. To see more of his wood and ceramic creations, click here.

Source: Design Boom 2010

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Roof Visitor

My home improvement, DIYer, green thumb husband has ventured off to Augusta, GA. While not a golfer, or a fisherman, his duties of replacing geothermal pumps and cleaning gutters will be most appreciated by our grandparents. Even more interesting, our Grandad has given a whole new meaning to the term GREEN ROOF. Our recommendation to home owners, you should probably clean the gutters before pine trees begin growing in them :)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bow Bins

They say one man's junk is another man's treasure. Thanks to Cordula Kehrer, you have the best of both worlds with "Bow Bins". She combines remnants of mass produced and synthetic parts in a completely different way to reveal artistic bowls, bins and tubs. She works with anything that starts to leak or shows damage, and then begins her transformation. To see more of her unique work, click here.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Double ByPass

We want breasts, right?

Big, white, meaty breasts from chickens and turkeys. Well, you can get it at KFC! The franchise recently created the Double Down sandwich – all meat sandwich with cheese and 2 pieces of bacon. Unique, Relevant and Different! It is a modern day marketing winner.

Additionally, "winner-winner-chicken dinner" might call for some observation. Chickens are fat. Literally, they are becoming extremely obese in factory farms that they can’t walk or sit up straight. They are sleeping in their own feces, but if you'd like to eat an animal that mistakes its own poop for food, then by all means you can surely eat that "type" of protein if you'd like. For clarity, I still hear the arguments that a vegetarian diet is not necessarily the most efficient in terms of land use, and I also read about additional evidence that a vegetarian diet, or one at least that radically reduces meat consumption, can have massive climate change mitigation benefits.

But what is the benefit of eating this massive sandwich? If I were to eat a KFC Double Down sandwich, then I could certainly foresee Double Trouble or Double ByPass. I could imagine hearing my arteries clog up, feel my ass growing bigger, and maybe see some hair growing on my chest given those extra hormones and antibiotics in the meat. What kind of message does this send towards our obesity epidemic? Oh right…it’s cheap, fast and curiously cool to teenagers.

See the funny commercial here.

Story of Stuff

Crashing parties and talking trash this week, Annie Leonard is on a garbage, no consumption roll. Recognized as Time Magazine's 2008 Heroes of the Environment, she continues her hard work and obsession of understanding WHAT we throw away into landfills and WHY we have so much of it.

The Berkeley resident is on the road promoting her new book, "The Story of Stuff." Since the release of her short online video in December 2007 she has been featured on USA Today, Time and The Colbert Reports. See her point of view here and visit a landfill near you.

Ready to Drink

If you missed World Water Day (3.22.10), then April will be your month to celebrate for Earth Day (4.22.10). Yet, given all these global holidays, what are we really cheering for? Are we hoping to recycle one more plastic Nalgene, reduce paper towel usage, or reuse an old pillow case as another cleaning doily. In short the answer is yes. It all counts, but why not go for the Gold and doing something bigger, better and more impactful.

National Geographic covered several gold--go-getters in the water arena with articles on desalination, infrastructure, and new age cisterns. Most surprising, in my opinion, was an article on families living in Nairobi, Kenya who used a simple, old, traditional style for water disinfection. You simply retrieve a plastic water bottle (there are many even in Africa), remove the label, fill it up with water that is not overly murky and place the bottle on a piece of metal in the sunlight. In six hours, the UV radiation will disrupt the genetic processes of bacterial reproduction and destroy the cell walls.

Now being used all over the world is SODIS, a Swiss acronym for a program used to reduce diarrhea and other water borne diseases while providing safer drinking water. Basic research results are showing absenteeism has dropped significantly. Before SODIS, only about 10 to 15 percent of students would go to school and pass the sixth grade. Now, with healthier lives, about 90 to 95 percent of students are passing classes. Efforts are stilling be tweaked to prevent recontamination, especially with chemically contaminated water and other non-plastic options (e.g. glass or other clear containers) in order to increase awareness and education.

Image Source: Matter Network, 2008

Friday, April 9, 2010

I Spy Something Moving

I just returned from a 3-day trip from San Diego (with 2 days spent between airports). With only 1 day to soak up some rays, I was happy to see something I haven't seen in such a long time. It had two wheels, lights, a horn, mirrors and a good looking ass that passed by so quickly.

A beautiful red Felt road bike was pleasing to see again. I realized there is hope still alive on this planet where folks can bike to work, bike to the store, bike to the beach or bike home.

Bicycling Magazine has put together a list of the top 50 bike friendly cities in the U.S. I was surprised to learn that congratulations are in order for Minneapolis, MN. What I also didn't know, for example, is that over 5 percent of Gainesville, FL, residents commute by bike, or that Fargo, North Dakota, has over 200 miles of bike paths! To find your city listing, click here and ride on!

Source: Fast Company, 2010