Saturday, November 11, 2006

How to Green Your Heating

Consider that roughly two-thirds of a home’s annual energy use goes toward space and water heating, that in most American homes, winter heating is responsible for sending nearly four tons of greenhouse gases into the air each month, and that as much as half of all the energy used in the home is wasted. Efficient heating is starting to sound pretty good about now, no?

1. Seal the leaks!

2. Cover your glass

3. Stay ventilated

4. Spread the heat

5. Heating wisely

6. Peel a drape

7. Start a fire (but not like a caveman)

8. Getting into (cheaper) hot water

9. Be passive

10. Cuddle up

Read the tips here



Technology Review: Cheap, Superefficient Solar

Technologies collectively known as concentrating photovoltaics are starting to enjoy their day in the sun, thanks to advances in solar cells, which absorb light and convert it into electricity, and the mirror- or lens-based concentrator systems that focus light on them. The technology could soon make solar power as cheap as electricity from the grid.

The goal is to engineer a concentrating system that focuses sunlight, that tracks the movement of the sun to keep the light on the small solar cell, and that can accommodate the high heat caused by concentrating the sun's power by 500 to700 times--and to make such a system easy to manufacture.

Read the article



Friday, November 10, 2006

Organic Farmer Jon Tester Elected to United States Senate

Jon Tester, an organic farmer and leader in the organic movement since 1987, has been elected as a U.S. Senator from the state of Montana. A third generation farmer from Big Sandy, Montana, he has been farming organically for nearly twenty years.

In 2005, Tester and his wife Sharla were named outstanding agricultural
leaders by the College of Agriculture at Montana State University.
Their T-Bone Farms is a diversified organic operation
with 1400 acres (567 hectares).

The stated goals of their operation are:
To produce high quality food; To use environmentally sound farming practices ;To improve soil health on their farm; andTo keep the farm in their family.Their crops this year included hard red wheat, hard white wheat, kamut, lentils, and purple barley. Tester is a strong believer in green manures, a type of cover crop grown to be plowed under and
incorporated into the soil, adding natural sources of nitrogen and
phosphorous, not to mention improving and protecting the soil.

Tester has been a leader in the organic movement for more than a decade. He
served as the national treasurer for the Organic Crop Improvement
Association International, and helped to develop the Montana Organic
Certification program.

Bob Quinn, an organic farmer and President of Kamut International, said "We
all started in organic farming nearly 20 years ago in north-central
Montana, and since that time Jon Tester has been a great supporter of
sustainable and Organic Agriculture - not only on his farm, but also
while he was serving at the Montana State Senate. I'm sure he'll be
a strong voice for sustainable and Organic Agriculture in the U.S. Senate
as well, as someone who has learned it by experience." He added "We are
extremely happy as an organic community" that Tester has been elected
to the U.S. Senate. They have been neighbors and friends for 30 years.

According to Thomas B. Harding, former IFOAM President, colleague of Jon Tester and Director of Agrisystems International, "Jon Tester, now U.S. Senator Elect Jon Tester, is an extraordinary man - one who walks his talk, an excellent organic farmer, dedicated to the family farmer, the farm community and to Organic Agriculture in general. He sees the big picture and he will make a very great difference to all of us as he meets his



Buy Local Day

What if on just one day every year millions of American consumers voted with our dollars in favor of locally owned and operated businesses, instead of big-box, chain stores?

Saturday, November 18, 2006 BUY LOCAL
Why Buy Local?• Local businesses produce more income, jobs, and tax receipts for local communities than big box stores do. • Local businesses are more likely to utilize local ads, banks and other services. • Local businesses donate more money to nonprofits and are more accountable to their local communities. • Supporting local businesses preserves the economic diversity of our communities and the unique character of our neighborhoods. • Supporting local businesses is good for the environment, because it cuts down on fuel consumption. Buying locally produced goods reduces the need to ship goods from thousands of miles away and also cuts down on the distances shoppers travel.* And don’t forget to also buy Fair Trade, organic and green! ON SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 18TH, LET’S BUY LOCAL!Let’s send a message on November 18th, the Saturday before Thanksgiving, that we support our hometown businesses and oppose the negative impacts of chain stores and big box stores on our communities. Many communities have already organized citywide “buy local days,” but this year, we will bring together cities throughout the country to make this a national effort. We hope you’ll join us!

November 25: Buy Nothing Day For years now, people around the world who want to make a statement against consumerism and over-consumption have been organizing Buy Nothing Day events in their cities. These events are coordinated by the Canadian group AdBusters.



Power Aware Cord by Static

by Emily

Sometimes it just helps to visualize things. The Power Aware Cord by Static! does just that, representing personal energy consumption through glowing pulses, color, and intensity of light. While most powercords are utilitarian (and in general, rather ugly), Static!’s aesthetic solution brings the issue of energy consumption literally, to light, urging users to be aware of and reflect upon the energy efficiency of electrical devices in their home. Just how does it work? Electroluminescent wires embedded in the cord produce varying patterns of glowing and pulsating colors to indicate the level of energy being used at a given time.

The Power Aware Cord represents a different approach to green design- one not necessarily rooted in materiality, but focused on user experience and the visual representation of relevant issues. We love the anthropomorphic approach that engages the user on an interactive level, creating an aesthetic and educational connection between object and person.

Power Aware Cord by Static! Electroluminescent

The glowing Power Aware Cord is brought to us by Static!, a joint project between the Swedish Interactive Institute’s POWER and RE:FORM studios. Static! investigates design as a medium for increasing our awareness of energy usage and how to stimulate changes in energy behavior. The Power Aware Cord, designed by project designers Anton Gustafsson and Magnus Gyllensward, is just one of many design prototypes conceived and produced through an active collaboration between designers, engineers, and artists.



Got Trees? The Original Tree-huggers

By embracing the Gandhian method of satyagraha nonviolent resistance, the movement has prevented the destruction of thousands of trees since April 1973.

Got Trees? The Original Tree-huggers
By Amy Laughlin

“What do the forests bear? Soil, water, and pure air.” While this may seem like an appropriate bumper sticker slogan, this phrase is the motto for the Chipko movement, an assembly of indigenous peoples in India fighting for their forests. By embracing the Gandhian method of satyagraha nonviolent resistance, the movement has prevented the destruction of thousands of trees since April 1973.

The word “Chipko” appropriately translates to “embrace” or “hug,” as the Chipko’s main nonviolent action is to cling to trees in an attempt to ward off tree-cutters. For them, tree hugging is serious business and a way to ensure their very survival.

The Chipko movement originated in the Uttarakhand region in northern India in the early ‘70s when the government began restricting areas of forest and auctioning them off to lumber companies. Natives who lived in the mountainous and hilly regions of Uttar Pradesh were losing the trees which provided them with food, fuel, fodder for cattle, and stabilized their soil and water sources. In an effort to protect their natural resources, the peoples of Uttar Pradesh split into many small, decentralized groups and followed axe men and tree-cutters to their prospective sites, demonstrated against the removal of the trees, and finished by hugging the trees. Their peaceful demonstrating reached its zenith in 1980, when India’s then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, implemented a 15-year ban on tree felling in India.

The movement has since spread to nearly all mountainous regions of India and can almost be considered the “sibling” of another, older environmental movement: the Bishnois. This western India-based religion is a sect of environmentally-aware followers who preserve plants, trees, and protect wildlife in an effort to uphold their sacred traditions.

The Bishnois originated in the 15th century in a village near Jodhpur. A local man, Jambhoji, adopted a philosophy that states “nothing—human or not—deserves to be killed.” Thus, he and his followers embarked on a new lifestyle that included a ban on killing animals and the felling of trees.

The story of Amriti Devi perfectly symbolizes all that the Bishnois look to achieve. She and 362 other Bishnois were sawed to death when they hugged trees in an effort to stop loggers from leveling a forest in 1730. This act of sacrificing oneself is not uncommon in the Bishnois way of life. They fiercely protect their environment by any means, whether it is by not hunting, waiting to use trees until they are dead or have fallen down, or by sharing their crops with hungry animals.

Before offering loggers her head, Amriti Devi is said to have uttered: “Sar Santey Rookh Rahe To Bhi Sasto Jaan,” which roughly translates to “If a tree is saved from felling even at the cost of one’s head, it’s worth it.” This credo is a reflection of the commitment and environmental awareness practiced by the Bishnois.

Both the Chipko and Bishnois movements are still in existence. Jodhpur is still the central area for many practicing Bishnois and a thriving community of very happy animals. The Chipko movement has grown to include concerned students and youth in the areas surrounding the original region of Uttar Pradesh (now Uttaranchal) and is still the original group of “tree huggers.”



Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Two Hualapai girls hold up a poster with the simple request, "SAVE THE PEAKS", save them from what? A resort that has and continues to pump artificial snow.

In the view of the American Indians here, the spirits that inhabit the San Francisco Peaks, certainly did not appreciate it when a ski run was built a quarter of a century ago on one slope. Now, treated wastewater is being piped up from Flagstaff and sprayed on the mountain so the resort can make more snow to ski on. Operators of the Arizona Snowbowl said it could go out of business without making snow because winter precipitation is so erratic in the high desert here. The resort, which has proposed the snowmaking under a plan to expand the ski runs, and the Forest Service, which approved the plan, both say the water would be cleaned to the highest degree, A-plus in the industry vernacular, though falling short of potable. This plan interferes with many of the tribe's religious practices, including the gathering of mountain water and herbs that the artifical snow would taint. The Sierra Club, who has backed the tribes unsuccessful attempts at stopping the resort, accuse the defendants, the resort and the Forest Service, of not adequately studying whether the effluent could harm people, especially children who consume artifical snow whether on purpose or not. This water is essentially treated sewage which they call reclaimed water. The resort balked at using fresh water since it is so scarce in Arizona to begin with. Mr. Mapatis, the Hualapai spiritual leader told the court that he gathered plants and flowers for use in healing ceremonies and that after a woman gave birth he brought the placenta to the mountain to ensure the newborn has a healthy life. Members of his tribe use water from the mountian in sweat lodge ceremonies and apart from the environmental aspect, these peaks are prominent in the Hualapai creation story. "It would be like putting death on a mountain," Mr. Mapatis said. To show their sensitivity to the tribes, the resort hired someone to close down a pumice mine used to make stone-washed jeans. Yet the snow-making resort is still in full-operation part of the year.



We can make a difference!



Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Wal-Mart Introduces Packaging Scorecard

November 7, 2006 8:27 AM - Eric Kane, New York, NY

photo_packaging.jpeg As part of Wal-Mart’s continuing efforts to address its environmental footprint, the company established a goal to reduce packaging used by suppliers by 5% by 2013.

In an effort to achieve this target, the retail behemoth has announced an innovative scorecard system. The scorecard will allow manufacturers to rank their current use of packaging. Scores will be given on several relevant categories including: greenhouse gas emissions produced per ton of packaging, raw material use, packaging size, recycled content, material recovery value, renewable energy use, transportation impacts, and innovation. Beginning in 2008, Wal-Mart will make purchasing decisions based on the scorecard results. Say what you will about Wal-Mart, but this policy will force manufacturers in a variety of sectors to reexamine their packaging processes. To see a demo of the scorecard system visit



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