Saturday, July 31, 2010

Urban Art

The urban land artist, Anna Garforth from the UK integrates her interest in urban ecology and sustainability through her creative practice. Some of us know this art as "graffiti art" and it crosses many different mediums such as reusing materials, plants, moss, reverse graffiti, chalk, or the use of other natural resources. Various activities have driven her to discover and understand more about her natural surrounding and express this passion through the following projects.

Rethink is an installation set up in front of regents canal in London, England which is an electrical power site with two main resources: gas and water. This simple word communicates a need to rethink what our society consumes and how we collectively use our resources.

Head Gardener is a guerrilla gardening project. The approach involves turning milk bottles into characters with plant hair styles. Some of these guys took to the streets, while others couldn't handle getting their hair wet.

Have you seen any local graffiti art? Share with us on Twitter @GoSustaino and Facebook.

Friday, July 30, 2010


Yves Behar resurfaces again this week with recognition for Fuseproject. I had the opportunity of meeting him in person at UCLA during the November Opportunity Green conference. A passionate industrial designer, innovative, one who found his own path, with a focus on environmentally friendly products. For those who don't know who is Yves Behar, you might be familiar some of this projects.

(Birkenstock Gardening clogs, One Laptop Per Child, Mission Motors, and Puma packaging)

Yves focuses on humanistic design and the "giving" element of his profession, creating projects that are in tune with sustainable practices and mindful of human emotions and the enablement of self-expression. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the prestigious National Design Award for Industrial Design, which celebrates design as a 'vital humanistic tool shaping the world' - awarded by Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian National Design Museum. He has also received the INDEX: Design to Improve Life, "Community" award for his role in creating the "XO" laptop. Go Yves! Go Sustaino!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Portable Gardens

Italian designer Gionata Gatto has more than a green thumb. Inspired by small scape gardening, culture and beauty, his sustaino idea has taken gardening to a whole new level – portable with style.Users can grow vegetables and fruits on each side of the structure; approximately 36-plants can be grown vertically. We urbanites call them "urbanbuds" to reference the portable, vertical nature of green modern day gardening. Shaped like a suitcase and designed for easy watering, weeding, mobility and moisture and soil control through proper potting. This could offer new inspiration for inner city gardening, portable farmer's market in tight NYC-style streets and backyard educational workshops. Go Gatto! Go Sustaino!

Source: DesignBoom

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mandating Bike Spaces

Move over car parking lots and make way for bicycles. It's part of the Mejor en Bici program in Buenos Aires - a city known its tango music, high crime, and of course, bike theft. The program is designed to force private parking lots availability or space for bicycles. The most important part of the program is the obligation for all private parking lots to offer 8 bike spots for every 50 vehicle spots they have, at a rate that can never be higher than 10% of the car fare.

This new government law aims to place 350 new bike racks all over the city and is announcing another 550 will be put to tender. The idea is to place these next to subway stations. They're also building parking facilities next to train stations, which will offer whole day parking for the very cheap price of one peso (about 25 US dollar cents), the first one next to major transport hub Constitucion.

It's good to see local governments try to reduce traffic congestion, pollution, and road rage. Next on the horizon would be a bike sharing program similar to London and Montreal.

Summer Flings with Frisbees

There is nothing better than integrating sports and sustainability. The values of working hard and playing hard go hand in hand especially for the summer. You know how it goes - summer flip flops, plastic beach balls, sun tan lotion - the works. Even better in my opinion are summer frisbee games (or ultimate frisbee for the hard core fans).

Interestingly, I recently came across frisbees that are made by Ethix Ventures. This is not your typical sweatshop-made, petro-based gift. These are the real thing, a true gift, that is printed with union labor in the
Bronx, NY. I'm pretty certain this non-toxic toy will be long lasting for any dog, family or game because the company considers the life cycle of their sports products along with labor standards, recycled content and biodegradable materials.

Another cool thing is that readers of the blog and friends of green sports have the chance to get your own frisbee by clicking here.
Solidiarity eXchange is the program organized at Ethix, trying to steer more purchasing dollars to buy things that promote labor and environmental justice. Click, tell a friend and play!

Reduce and Get Paid

We all become forgetful. Even with our technology gadgets, sexy electronics, and automatic reminders, we still forget to set it, click it, share it and understand it. However, what if we had reminders with an incentive - a cash, money incentive - that had your interest at heart as well our lovely planet. Why not?

Earth Aid does exactly that! It is online program that educates, rewards, monitors and reminds consumers of new trends in energy efficiency. Members will be asked to connect to the local power company, water and gas company. Once a member, Earth Aid will monitor each member’s energy consumption. The goal is that with energy efficiency tips, members will conserve resources as well as save money. As a reward, local businesses offer the discounts for their services to the degree of energy saved by the member.

Image Source: Ode Magazine, 2009

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sexy Solar

I love the solar industry. It's mature, predictable, has a reliable energy source (compared to wind) and is even sexy. Yes, I said it - sexy!

Forget the bulk, heavy panels when one can opt for slim, sexy, photovoltaic that can be applied to rooftops, posts, shingles and more. One company that can do this is SRS Energy of Philadelphia that designs the curved solar roofing application. Basically, the silicon cells are bonded to special tiles, often made of the same materials as car bumpers.

A solar tile-based system that meets half the power needs for a typical CA home would cost roughly $20,000 to install after rebates. In the example above in the Bermuda Dumes, CA home, a four-hour job. See more details here.

Source: NY Times, 2009

Monday, July 19, 2010

Milking Algae for Oil

I traveled on a plane Saturday morning and headed to the Sunshine State (FL) for a family reunion. Though I've made this trip hundreds of times already since I was eight years old (back then a child could safely travel solo), I saw cotton ball clouds, white sandy beaches, and green water. The Atlantic had me comparing it to the algae-filled Lake Erie. I lived next to the one of the largest fresh water assets of the Great Lakes. I've seen needles wash up on shore, zebra mussels claim their territory and recently heard about an infamous dumper of cooking oil in the open water. Yet one of our greatest assets might be that wonderful, green algae.

Research is continuously underway to figure out exactly how to milk algae. That's right, NPR (Science Friday) covered a great story of how to milk algae like a factory for energy/oil. Of course, this is not any ordinary algae, diatoms, almost 200,000 species, can give us the potential for oil and gasoline. Perhaps through genetic manipulation, these single cell algae beasts can be kept "alive" or "reused" for continuous production.

But where does one find our special little, green friends? The rich diatoms are in the scum of aquariums or even your pool. The secret ingredient is basic moisture and sunlight. Let's get cookin' and make some oil!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Good Eats

Food, glorious food. Oliver sang it well.

The color of our food is equally important as the type of food we put into our bodies everyday. If food wasn't appealing to look certainly would not be appetizing. As foodies from another the world are smelling, eating and sharing their joys,
photographer and food stylist Linda Lundgren is capturing our "good eats" one shot at a time.

In her work, she organized her food by color to create a series of photos that showcase some of the most common food hues from yellow to red, blue, and green. The photos not only contain foods that are a specific color but also
food packaging. It's a completely unique perspective that blends color along with packaging and art.

Source: Design Boom

Monday, July 5, 2010

Hot in the City

Celebrating our nation's independence goes beyond fireworks and city parades. It is a time when kids make stale old popcorn and try to sell for a $1.00 after the parade. Then their cute smiles make you feel guilty and you purchase a sugary cup of lemonade for another $1.00. What ever happened to paying a quarter?

Well, we do live in America. Land of the free. Free markets. Free parking. Even free runs through water sprinklers that look like the Earth!

I couldn't help capturing the irony that I saw in this as the kid flagged us down, literally, with this red, white and blue marketing prop that lead us to his popcorn stand. While the ice caps are melting and the oil is spilling, it made me smile to see the Earth peeing fresh water from various continents. It surely was a hot one that day, and luckily I received a free sprinkler run around the globe.