Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy Hybrid

I did it! I finally went hybrid...and got a car that I wasn't actually planning to get.

Hybrid Hunting
If you have been reading this blog you will probably know my "stop and go" journey on cutting back on driving, and finding alternative methods of transportation like walking, my bike, and taking the metro. I am still not at the point where I am willing to drop a car entirely so I figured it's time to move up to a hybrid. It's time because the car industry is dropping prices like Wallmart and I knew someone who was interested in buying my old car.

If you can't tell already, when I have an idea to do something I usually just jump right in. :) So, I went online and checked out the Toyota Prius and the Ford Escape. Those were in the right price range and size ranges for me. Based on my extensive 1 hour read, and my experience riding in a friend's Prius and a eco-taxi Escape...I called the bank to work out financing and the Toyota dealership to tell them I was on my way.

A few days later ... after cautions from my family and close friends I decided to take a day and to do a test drive of the hybrids that I was interested in - plus added two more to the list Mercury and Lexus.

I do not like car shopping and was jazzed about the car buying service I was using with USAA. So, going out to do test drives was going to put me into the den of the lion! But I reminded myself that I am a Leo and was a match for any salesman with my keen poker face. Off I went with boyfriend and mom to test drive these magnificent machines.

We started with the Escape. I didn't mind the sparse interior (the easier to keep clean, I'm thinking) but the handling and ride were okay. It also seemed to quickly go to engine and mostly used combo engine/battery power. The switch from engine to engine/battery was also jerky and loud. It was still pleasant car but I was ready to move on. Sorry Ford...I had high hopes...the eco-taxi rode well.

Next the Prius. Again, the interior was sparse, and the dash was really high-tech. In fact it was a little too spacey for me. It's all digital and seems to be projected to you. The dashboard reminded me of the Ford Taurus which I learned how to drive in... and I didn't like the Ford Taurus. But, I did love the hybrid engine display! So, I was still happy with the Prius idea.

Mercury...I didn't test drive the Mercury. The man at the Mercury dealer was very honest letting us know that the Mercury and the Ford Escape were the same car, different features. So off we went to Lexus.

No one warned me about the Lexus. Lexus is a different level of car all together, and so is a Lexus dealership. Wow, if you want to feel special...go test drive a Lexus. You don't need to buy one, just go for the experience and the great little coffee/mocha/hot chocolate machine in the waiting room. The Lexus was the Prius and more. I test drove the RX400h because it's the only one I could even come close to affording. Wow! Smooth! Maximized battery usage! Great display! Rode like my old 4-runner which I loved (sorry about comparing it to a 4-runner, but it's everything good that I loved about my 4-runner!!!) I was quite pleased. But, it was still more expensive than I wanted to pay. Next stop Carmax.

Carmax is a really great experience. It's not cushy like Lexus but very friendly! I took my old car to Carmax and got an estimate on the value. They valued it higher than I was expecting, and Lexus said they would honor the estimate. I also checked on the price of some used Lexus cars. (Would that me Lexi?) With the increased value of my car and the discounts I could get with Lexus and USAA, it brought the price down to something I could afford. Success!

So here I am with my new Hybrid...happily reducing my carbon footprint.

(Thanks C for the "happily reducing my carbon footprint" line. That's what she said when she saw my picture.

Having fun reducing my footprint

I've been away from the computer for the holidays, but I'm back and have lots to share!

Green Holiday

Not only has my Christmas been green because of no snow this winter, but because I found ways to reuse and recycle! Here are some of the things I did this Christmas, please add your comments to let me know what you did.
- Christmas cards- I only sent out about 15 this year. I did photos and sent them in recycled paper envelopes. The rest of my holiday greetings were done via the computer.
- Decorations - I bought no new decorations this year. I reused the ones from last year in new ways. This year, since I live in an apartment, I just decorated the mantle and living room. We have many families in my area that can't afford decorations for the holidays. My church did a collection and gave them out to the families the week before Christmas. What a great way spread holiday cheer!
- Gifts - All of the gift exchanges I participated in this year were white elephant gift exchanges. It was so much fun seeing the crazy re-gifting. If the item was really odd, there was usually a $5 starbucks card taped to the bottom of it. :) Also, a fun way to wrap presents is using fabric. I attached some fun and unique ways to wrap with fabric. If you don't have great handkerchiefs or fabrics at home go out to the thrift stores and find some old holiday prints!
- Party dishes - I've been charged to provide the side or vegetable for most of the holiday parties I have attended. So, my dish this year is a roasted root dish. Cut up some organic turnips, celery, parsnips, sweet potatoes, etc.; coat with olive oil; salt and pepper and then bake it on a cookie sheet for 50 min -- stirring once. Yum! You have to try this! I bring my dish in a reusable container! No disposables for the land fill. :)
- Alternative Gifts - Instead of getting some of my relatives another thing to put in their homes I sent an alternative gift of a donation. For example: I donated $20 to Habitat for Humanity and gave them a card that I made using a Habitat for Humanity theme and noted I gave a donation in their name. Many of my older relatives that already have everything they want really appreciate those types of gifts.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Ford's part of the bailout

I am really impressed with Ford Motor company and have been since 2005.

I owned a Ford Escort diesel station wagon back in 1989. I never thought of Ford as a premiere auto company, but they made okay cars. The old 1960s mustangs were still the most impressive. That and their truck line. Our family car was the Ford Mustang II and that was driven until it fell apart. :) When I graduated from college I bought a Honda Civic and didn't look back.

In 2005 I crossed paths with Ford again in my Sustainability course when I was getting a Masters of Science in Management. I learned terms like Green Thinking, Waste=Food, sustainable design and how Ford was transforming. The CEO took this and made it the vision for Ford. I thought...YES! They took the manufacturing plant and put a green roof on it. Ford was paying a lot of money for the pollution they spewed into the river at the plant in Detroit and into the air. They invested in the philosophy that waste=food and the environment in and outside the plan is improving.

Then I learned about Ford's Hybrid line of vehicles. Go Ford! I really got excited about Ford again. More so than the roll out of the new Ford Mustang convertible. I am really excited about their hybrid and hopefully soon an electric line of cars. That is the future and that is where Ford seems to be heading. My hope for them is to continue in that vein and to build a smaller version of they Hybrid Escape, and Hybrid versions of the Edge and Focus...and the ultimate would be a Hybrid Miata. I would squeal like a 5 year old on Christmas morning if Ford came out with a Hybrid Miata in 2010.

On the radio tonight I heard an interview with the CEO of Ford and he talked about their company's participation with the auto industry bailout. I was very impressed with Ford's present financial situation. He talked about focusing on the Ford and Mazda product lines, continuing to improve the safety and efficiency of their cars (thank goodness after the Ford Explorer fiasco in 1996-1997) and continue to grow their hybrid and alternative powered lines. He also stated they are in a good financial situation, they are not going bankrupt and they sold off excess product lines. Ford is focused and Ford is fierce!

Ford, my hope for you is that you continue to grow.
-Build green manufacturing plants, showrooms and car lots
-Transport your cars using trucks fueled by hydrogen and solar power
-Start a line of electric cars
-Build cars that will capture and/or create energy that can be pumped back into the home or storage batteries in parking lots
-Invest in green communities that do not need to use their cars as much
-Create a new and innovative ways in personal transport
-Be the leader in not just the auto industry but in a new economy of alternative fuels and renewable resources
-Push your sustainable concepts to your suppliers and out to your customers
-Partner with universities and put bright young minds to work on these technical challenges
-Partner with schools to educate our next generation

Ford ... UGOGRN!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Greening my church

It's about being good stewards of the earth, and that is a path that my church is taking.

There are a lot of environmentally conscious people who attend my church, however, our building is far from being green building and we don't have a sustainability plan. When I was asked if I was interested in helping to find ways to green our church I jumped at the chance!

My church had previously attended a meeting at the Greater Washington Interfaith Power and Light. Greater Washington Interfaith Power and Light (GWIPL) is a non-profit initiative that helps congregations, religious institutions and others in the Washington, DC area work for a more just, sustainable and healthier creation by reducing the threat of global warming. I learned a lot about what we can do not just to improve our building, but education programs and sermons that tie sustainable living to stewardship of creation. This really struck a chord in me so I asked about how to get things started at my church.

First thing that the group offered was for us to have an Energy Assessment done of our building. The building was started in 1952 with additions in the 60s and 70s. So, there are a lot of improvements that can be made. Our audit took place on the 23rd of November so we will get a complete write up in a few weeks.

Next it was recommended I get a small committee together that will look at the assessment and the other ministries and programs in the church and start educating them on sustainable choices. GWIPL offers information to use on their website and will also come and instruct in the church. This is also a network of other local churches that are doing their best to go green so we can share ideas.

I am so excited about the possibilities and what we can do in this area. I'm praying that this will take hold with a good committee and that my church can make a positive contribution to the local neighborhoods.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Friday was Recycle Day.

In honor of recycle day I decided to make some handmade paper. I have never done this before so I thought is would be an interesting project.
I have always liked the look of handmade paper, especially the kind with flower pedals in it.

I of course bought a kit to do this. I am creative, but not creative enough to not buy a kit. :)
Here is the recipe I used:
2 cups water
2 hand fulls of shredded paper from my paper shredder.

You blend the paper until it becomes a pulp. It has a bluish tint from the ink.

The kit comes with a wooden frame with a screen and plastic grid strapped to it. You put the frame in a tube of water, with the water about 1/4 from the top of the frame. Then you poor the pulp into the frame. The pulp spreads and then you slowly lift the frame from the water. You then put the frame onto a cookie sheet and unstrap the frame and pull it away. The plastic grid then has the screen resting on it with a layer of pulp. You put a finer mesh screen on top of that and start pressing the water from it it with a sponge. Yes, this takes as long to do as it took you to read all of the this. Phew!

So now I have a thick piece of paper/pulp. You now transfer that to some thick paper that comes with the kit and you press the paper/pulp between the sheets to get out more water. Then if you are impatient you can iron the paper to get it dry.

Well my first page is as thick as light cardboard. But I did it!
I made 4 sheets today and the last one has rose pedals in it. I'm quite pleased with myself. Here is a better recipe to use.

2 cups of water
1 hand full of shredded paper
1 pinch of dryer lint

Dryer lint? Yes, dryer lint. I read that using a pinch of cotton pulp or dryer lint will keep the ink from running should you decide to use this as actual paper. The kit even comes with a form for making matching envelopes.

My entire project took 2 hours for 4 pieces of paper to include clean up time.
Look out! I think I may do this for Christmas presents this year.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Hybrid Highlights

Toyota has a concept car called the CR-Z.

Instead of switching to a hybrid I've been buying carbon offsets and driving less, but I still want to make the change. However, I want to get a smaller car. My ideal would be a Mazda Miata, but I'm not seeing any ads for that on the web. (Hint Hint)

I did see news about a concept car from Honda called the CR-Z. This stylish little number is compact like the CR-V and a bit sporty as well.

Everyone go to the site and fill out the questionnaire! Honda needs to go forward and capture this car market. The people are ready!

Commuting Habits Part II

The agony
My big plan to bike to work has been curtailed once again. Literally, "the will is there but the body is weak". I had no idea how hard it is to bike 14 miles to work!

The struggle
It took me forever to plan the route and talk myself into riding to work. I got the bike ready, told co-workers and family and then had to face the inevitable ... and actually ride the bike.

The valiant effort
Now, I do know how to ride a bike. I used to ride my bike to school every day since second or third grade. But I haven't ridden in the street since 2000 when I fell off my bike when I hit the curb wrong, let go of the handle bars and landed on my face which broke my jaw in 3 places. I recovered fine from the spill, but I'm timid when riding on the street, which is the first and last part of my trek to work.
But I have a nice Trek comfort bike and the center of gravity is positioned more like a cruiser. The likely of a wipe-out on this bike is a lot less likely then on my previous road bike.
So, before actually hitting the route to work...yes I know I'm killing you! I decided to just ride around where I live. I wanted to get used to street riding again. One Saturday morning a few weeks ago, I did just that. And wow what an eye opener.

Still not there yet
First of all, it was a lot harder than I expected. I don't live in a flat area so the little hills were a challenge to go up, but fun to coast down.

Second, 14 miles is farther than I expected. I didn't even ride 14 miles that day and it took me 90 min because I was slow on the up hill and had to stop at the traffic lights. My ride to work takes me onto a path so I won't have as many stops but I will encounter as many hills. My test run was also about 10 miles, so I should estimate a 2 hour ride to be safe. Since I need to be at work by 6:30am I'll need to leave my house at least by 4:30am. At 4:30am I can barely find my bathroom from my bedroom let alone try to balance on a bicycle! So, I need to build up some speed to keep from having to get up so early before I make this ride to work.

Any benefit?
So is there any benefit in this sad story? Yes, I learned I can run errands using my bike. The 2 paniers are the size of 2 large grocery bags. I have plenty of room to make a trip to the supermarket. I used my bike to drop of 2 bags of clothing at a collection site near where I live. So, yes I'm making progress and will continue to choose my bike over the car for those trips under 10 miles from my house. I still want to someday ride to work, but I will need to work on increasing my speed and shaking off the excuses!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Runner's World Green Edition

I'm so proud of my favorite magazine Runner's World! It came out with a green issue. They did pretty well with 20% recycled paper, but can do better. They do offer the magazine on That is an interesting site with all of the major magazines. I have to see if it works with my Kindle.

I can't wait to read about their shoe picks. I have a feeling that NIKE will rank pretty high. Their whole company took on sustainability and made a difference in not just what they manufacture, but how they manufacture and distribute their products.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Striving to Ride

Striving to Ride

Unfortunately I'm still striving to ride to work.
What have I done? I got my bike cleaned up and bought some paniers (bike saddle bags) so I can carry stuff. Then I rode around town. It took about an hour and a half to go 10 miles. That was okay, but I live 14 miles from work and I need to get there by 6:30am to shower and be in my office by 7am. So, I have some work to do to get fast enough to ride to work.

As I work on cruising the streets, I was cruising the web and fund this 5 day ride from New York to DC. How great is this!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

BPA - a chemical you should know

BPA is a chemical found in plastics that you should know about.

Chemical Used In Food Containers Disrupts Brain Development
ScienceDaily (Dec. 3, 2005) — The chemical bisphenol A (BPA), widely used in products such as food cans, milk container linings, water pipes and even dental sealants, has now been found to disrupt important effects of estrogen in the developing brain.

The health dangers of reusing plastic bottles and bags
Consumers have been warned about the hazard of DEHA or Diethylhydroxylamine, that it leaches from the plastic into the product. Many have heeded the warning but there is another problem, all plastics contain Bisphenol A. All plastics with the letters PET on them are not safe, they contain Bisphenol A.

Bisphenol A was first synthesized in 1891, experiments in the 1930's revealed evidence of its estogenicity. In other words in could mimic the effects of estogen. Discovered by Dodds & Lawson 1936-1938, they shelved Bispenol A until later, when it was discovered it could be polymerized, into a form we all know as, polycarbonate plastic.

Start buying plastics that do not contain bisphenol A. National Geographic - Picnic Perfect Plastics
by Danielle Masterson

Baby bottles without bisphenol A

Concerns are on the rise about the chemical bisphenol A, or BPA. It’s used to make a variety of food containers, including some plastic baby bottles. The federal government has issued a draft report on BPA’s health risks for infants and children. And Canada recently moved to ban BPA in baby bottles. Consumer Reports has just run tests to find the best options for parents.

Consumer Reports' medical adviser, Dr. Orly Avitzur, says newer studies suggest health risks for children from BPA. Based on the latest laboratory research, the National Institutes of Health has discovered that BPA exposure during development may affect the brain and the reproductive system (through its ability to mimic activity of the hormone estrogen), and may cause other health problems.

Bisphenol A is found in many kinds of containers, including baby bottles made of polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is a hard, translucent plastic that can be clear or colored. Containers made of polycarbonate may have the recycling code #7 on the bottom, and sometimes the letters “PC.”

Some stores and Web sites now sell plastic baby bottles labeled “without BPA,” or “Bisphenol-A Free.” Consumer Reports used an outside lab that specializes in plastic analysis to test several of these bottles, and found that BPA levels in them were negligible.

The bottles we tested are better choices if you want to use plastic and still limit your baby’s exposure to BPA. Another option for parents concerned about BPA is to use glass baby bottles. But you have to handle these with care, of course, because they may break.

The baby bottles we tested that have a negligible level of BPA are BornFree, Evenflo Classic without BPA Custom Flow, Medela Breast Milk Feeding and Storage Set, Nuby Non-Drip by Luv n’care, and MAM Silk-Touch Nipple Anti-Colic Valve by Sassy, Inc.

Errands by bike is the way to be!

I'm sooo excited about my bike ride today.
Hurricane Hanna blew through yesterday and left a beautiful day in it's wake.

Today I decided to do my errands by bike instead of the usually quick trip in the car. As I left my condo complex, I noticed the beautiful day. I had to take the sidewalk along a busy street, so I focused on the beautiful sky.

My first stop was to drop off some older summer outfits that I wasn't going to wear anymore. The panniers (I call them saddle-bags) worked great! I had 2 small trash bags sized bags of clothes to donate and rode up to the clothing dumpsters a few miles from my house. What a double whammy! Donating clothes and riding my bike.

So now, feeling especially good, I hit the road and traversed about 6 more miles of bike lanes and bike paths to my friend's house. I went over metro rails and by busy highways. I especially like riding by the people stopped in traffic, and riding over the freeway was also exhilarating.

After a nice rest stop I hit the road again, to drop off movies at Blockbuster. Then, back to the condo. The entire trip took about 2 hours because I was taking my time.

Now I not only feel like I got my errands done, but I feel refreshed after getting some exercise!

I can't wait to find more trails!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Composter Chronicals

I figure I should give you all an update on my composter.

Yes, I still have it and yes, I moved it to the patio.

I am really happy about composting, but I am learning people are only interested in doing it if it doesn't smell. Now it didn't smell really bad, but it did have a distinctive odor when you opened the lid.

I did follow the directions which said to add baking soda if an odor is detected, and to make sure the compost is not watery by adding more fibrous materials. It even has a built in filter. The box worked really well as long as you didn't open the lid.
In fact everyone would clear out of the kitchen, even my dog Ginger (featured at the bottom of the webpage) when the lid was opened.

So although the consensus is that composting is good and we have less to put in the trash can, survey says "ERRRR!" to having the composter in the kitchen.

Notice in the photo, that you do not see the woman's face. Is it because she is holding her breath?

I still think the problem was not enough of the dry material. I started to add shredded paper and that seems to be working nicely. The last batch of compost was also wet and all of the website say it should be like dirt and smell earthy.

So the journey with the composter continues. But in the mean time, the plants are all doing well and the noses are all a bit happier.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

More great eco-inventions

Here is an interesting concept. Take your electrical appliances and add a hand crank to them. This was done with a blender. Now you don't need to worry where you energy is coming from, it's coming from you!

The video is pretty funny. Obviously the first guy has never made a margarita before.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

People in Hong Kong Gym Generate Electricity While Exercising

People in Hong Kong Gym Generate Electricity While Exercising

11 March 2007
Blume report - Download 278k audio clip
Listen to Blume report audio clip

As the political and ecological aspects of energy rise in people's consciousness, the search for new and clean ways to generate energy is

California Fitness Gym's demonstration how energy is<br />generated from gym users
California Fitness Gym's demonstration how energy is
generated from gym users
gaining momentum. A fitness center in Hong Kong has joined the movement with a new idea: the energy generated by the members as they exercise is transformed into electricity to help light the facility. Claudia Blume has more.

The serious exerciser's motto used to be, no pain, no gain. At Hong Kong's California Fitness centers, the new catch phrase might be, no sweat, no light. When club members use certain exercise machines, the energy they generate is turned into stored electricity. To make the fluorescent tubes in the studio's ceiling light up, they have to start pumping.

The consoles of the exercise machines themselves were already powered by human energy. But about 90 percent of the energy produced during workouts was dissipated as heat.

Lucien Gambarota, a Hong Kong-based renewable energy entrepreneur and the inventor of the idea, says an average person can produce 50 watts of electricity per hour. He explains how the energy created by the exercisers is transformed into

Lucien Gambarota, inventor and renewable energy entrepreneur<br />explains how the energy from exercisers is transformed into<br />electricity
Lucien Gambarota, inventor and renewable energy entrepreneur
explains how the energy from exercisers is transformed into

"Each of these machines, they are equipped with a generator inside. So what we did, we diverted part of the electricity produced by the machine to recharge a battery, he said. "And with what we store in the battery, we have been able to power part of the lighting system."

Gym users are enthusiastic about the new project, which started at the end of February.

"I think it's a really good idea. At least the energy is used for something good. It gives you more reason - you are not wasting what you are using, so it's better that way," said a club member.

So far, only 13 of the club's exercise machines are hooked up to a battery. Because of the encouraging results in the start-up phase, however, the center is planning to expand the idea throughout the gym.

Steve Clinefelter, president of the Asia-wide California Fitness chain, says his company will even consider expanding the human power project further.

"If that proves successful and economically viable, then we see nothing that would stop us from continuing to grow to more and more of our clubs, and ultimately to the entire industry, and all clubs worldwide would consider and choose this kind of an alternative power source," he said.

Clinefelter's other vision for the future: he says he plans to hook up the club's television sets to the human-generation system. If you want to watch TV while working on the stationary bike or the Stairmaster - you are just going to have to pump harder.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

History of alternative fuels

This article in the Washington Post today and it really made me think!
It travels back to the time when we were dependent on whale oil.
We move off of whale to shale and coal, but now we see that was not the best alternative either. What is the best next way to go? Nuclear? Geo-thermal? Wind and Solar? I feel the best way is to stay in tune with nature, not fight against it.

The Whale Oil Economy

An arctic cemetery in Longyearbyen, Norway.
An arctic cemetery in Longyearbyen, Norway. (By Chris Jackson -- Getty Images)

By Michael Gerson
Wednesday, July 16, 2008; Page A17

IN THE ARCTIC CIRCLE -- North of Oslo, north of Longyearbyen, almost as north as North itself, the National Geographic Endeavor breaks pack ice in endless daylight through a gray-teal sea. The expedition has been cruising near Svalbard, a group of high arctic islands larger than Denmark -- in summer, a land of brown mountains streaked with snow-filled gullies, low clouds that blur distinctions of sky and land, and wide glaciers reaching the ocean in gashes of bright sky blue.

Ashore, this arctic desert is so harsh that the region's natives wisely never settled here -- only men digging coal, trapping arctic fox and polar bear, and hunting whales were foolish enough to come. A forlorn whaling camp remains -- ruined cabins, a few shallow human graves in the permafrost (most were washed away) and dozens of massive right whale skulls, still bleeding whale oil into the ground, feeding moss and low, pink flowers. Whalers searched for oil in blubber and bone to light their economy. Now the question arises: Is this last wilderness being changed by another kind of oil?

Stefan is a Swedish member of the crew who has sailed these waters for 24 years, after catching "polar fever" as a youth. When asked about the effects of warming he has witnessed, Stefan, who wanted only his first name to be used, displays a sailor's skepticism. Populations of walrus and polar bear, he believes, have been growing in strength, not declining. Ice conditions show "huge variation from one season to another," making it difficult to discern a pattern. But the local Hopen island weather station records that the thickness of winter sea ice has shrunk by 16 inches since the 1960s. And "the glaciers," Stefan says, "are retreating everywhere."

This desolate, grand, forgotten sea has suddenly come to the center of world attention for one reason: the pace of climate change is faster than expected. In the past 50 years, as much as half of summer sea ice has gone missing. Another few decades could mean that the ice disappears entirely. The absence of ice in water has little to do with raising sea levels; it is water stored on land in the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets that could fill the oceans like a brimming bathtub. But since ice acts as a kind of mirror, less ice means less reflected sunlight, which means that the Arctic could heat at twice the rate of the rest of the world. And in the past five years, some of Greenland's glaciers have shown accelerated melting as well. (The Antarctic sheet seems more stable because it is more isolated from global weather patterns.)

With this melting from ice sheets and glaciers -- and the natural expansion of warmer water -- the global sea level is rising about 3 millimeters a year, 75 percent more than the average of the past century. Some climate scientists predict an increase of a little less than half a meter by 2100; others predict considerably more. In normal circumstances, a rise in the sea level of a half-meter or a meter might be manageable. But during a storm surge, it could be catastrophic in low-lying areas, turning once-in-a-century floods into regular occurrences.

Arctic warming is part of an increasingly compelling case for global warming -- or, more accurately, climate disruption that seems to come from warming. Around the world, we see signs large and small: tree lines moving north; the bleaching of coral in tropical waters; changes in growing seasons; the growth in population of destructive pests such as the pine beetle; the drying of southern Africa, the Mediterranean and the U.S. Southwest.

Global climate, of course, has changed before. But climate conditions for the past 10,000 years have been relatively stable, to the great benefit of civilization. Current temperature increases point beyond that band of comfort and don't seem explainable by natural cycles. The one factor dramatically different from the past is the human production of greenhouse gases, particularly the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is higher than at any time in the past 800,000 years.

The challenge of replacing carbon in our economy is massive -- and many incompletely known factors, from ice dynamics to the flow of ocean currents, determine its urgency. Answers will require a politically difficult task: acting with uncertain risk.

But as I stand near the top of the world on a desolate shore with whale skulls and ruins, the crude oil economy appears about as primitive and destructive as the whale oil economy now seems.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Eating Your Words

So I'm online doing another search for non-toxic printer ink and I came across these sites: Icing Images
and KopyKake

Not only is this ink non-toxic but it's kosher! So the way it works is you buy a thin icing sheet that feeds into your printer like paper. You can then print out your image and it bonds to the icing on your cake. You have to check out the site to see all of the great cakes and cupcakes!

If you don't want to print them yourself you can send in a photo and they will print it and send it to you. I may do this sometime for a special occasion.

Now the cost of the ink is about $70 and you can do about 85 printouts with it. You will also want to have a dedicated printer for your food so you don't contaminate your icing sheets with standard printer ink which is not non-toxic.

I want to go non-toxic all the time! It costs about the same if I buy my ink at Staples, but if I knock-off ink online, it's about half that price.

What's next? Edible ink pens!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Commuting Habits

I've been meaning to start riding my bike to work to save on gas but most importantly to reduce my carbon output even more. (I ride a shuttle and metro to work.)
But, I find myself procrastinating and finding reasons why I'm not ready.

So, I'm taking a new tactic and it's working.
1. I talked to my co-workers about biking to work.
I have a few co-workers who do ride their bikes to work and they told me all of the good routes to take.
2. Plan the morning. I realized I have 14 mile ride so I will need to shower when I get to work. That means prepositioning my work clothes so I have less to carry with me on my bike. I also need to leave early enough in the morning. I already scoped out where to park my bike at the gym.
3. Tell others my plan. The more I tell others my plan, the more people ask me about it and remind me to just do it!
4. Check out my bike and take a test ride. Today it the day for me to do that. I set aside time to dust off the bike and find my way to the bike path. Once I get to the path it's a straight shot to work. I have my bike lock and reflector gear to wear so I should be good to go.
5. Now just do it! This week I'm going to give it a go. I said that last week, but I really mean it now! Ha!

So, if you see me this week, be sure to ask me if I make it to step 5!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Energy Tapping Toilets!

This is funny but true!

Energy-Stingy Japan, an Extravagant Indulgence: Posh Privies

Despite the crazy toliets, Japan is doing amazingly well in lowering energy consumption in their industry. US companies can do this too! We just need to keep bugging them to do it!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The latest on Wolf Trap's environmental initiative.Do Your Part
Help Wolf Trap and other national parks to reduce global warming. Join us today and track your impact online.
Sign up today to Do Your Part!

This is a very cool sight to see your footprint and offers a challenge for you to improve. It even gives you cost savings for going green. :)

Big fan of Sequoia National Park

I'm a big fan of the park. I received an email from the Sierra club with some news regarding the preservation of the trees in the park.

Giant Sequoia
I am delighted to share with you some very exciting news about a giant victory for Sierra Club and the Giant Sequoia National Monument.

Just a week ago we saw the end to the Sierra Club’s three year long battle with the timber industry, preventing them - once and for all - from logging in the Giant Sequoia National Monument.

The win came at the 11th hour, as the Sierra Club legal team prepared to appear in the Ninth Circuit court to argue the last case standing, a last-ditch appeal by the timber industry, regarding commercial logging in the Monument. But on the eve of the hearing, they abandoned and withdrew their appeal - putting the final nail in the coffin of this very drawn out case - and putting an end to the pillage of these iconic trees.

This was a major victory for the Sierra Club - and it would not have been possible without the support of our committed Members and Supporters. Thank you.

Beginning in 1901, when John Muir lobbied for the expansion of Sequoia National Park to encompass the entire range of the giant sequoia, the Sierra Club has advocated for the protection of giant sequoia ecosystems in their entirety. And, after years of fighting to keep our towering Sequoia trees safe from the timber industry's saws, we have finally won. Thanks to this hard-earned victory, our children and grandchildren will be able to stand in awe of these noble giants for generations to come.

Thank you again for your contribution to this critical victory - it never could have happened without your support.


Signature Carl Pope

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Pearl Jam and Conservation

I'm going to a Pearl Jam concert tonight.
Who knew they are big into conservation and carbon offsets! Rock on!

Carbon Portfolio Strategy

The Carbon Portfolio Strategy is the newest component of our ongoing efforts to advance clean renewable energy and carbon mitigation. Through this Strategy, we will donate a total of $100,000 to nine organizations doing innovative work around climate change, renewable energy, and the environment.

We hope that by highlighting and creating a commons for these groups, we can advance preservation of existing ecosystems, restoration of degraded environments, and continued investment in clean, renewable energy technologies. Furthermore, by working with these groups and others to mitigate our own carbon emissions, we ultimately hope to get Pearl Jam at 0% net emissions for our tours and businesses.
American Solar Energy Society
Bonneville Environmental Foundation
Cascade Land Conservancy
Conservation International
Green Empowerment
Honor the Earth
Washington Clean Energy Initiative


While the Carbon Portfolio Strategy has national and international components, the initial focus is on the Pacific Northwest -- our home. By identifying and supporting leaders in the environmental community, we hope to raise this region's carbon consciousness while also investing in a clean energy future.

We encourage you to identify and support leaders in your own community leading the charge for clean and renewable energy. In addition, we hope that you'll take a close look at how their daily activities contribute to the increasing amounts of carbon emissions in the air.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Lower Your Dependency on Fossil Fuels Now!

Lower your dependency on fossil fuels today! Pass it on!

- Fuel prices are at an all time high and expect to go up
- Corn and soy prices are rising due to the need for alternative fuels and floods are devastating crops
- Industry is calling to drill for oil in protected areas but the oil may only last 2.5 years at our current rate of consumption. This just pushes off the problem another 2 years.

The good news is according to the national news tonight Americans are cutting back on driving. We reduced the number of miles driven by 4.4 million in April compared to April of last year and according to the report the trend is expected to continue. Despite an increase in population and the number of vehicles that puts us at 2005 levels. It will be interesting to see how much the decline has increased now that gas is over $4.00 a gallon.

You can lower our nation's consumption of fossil fuels! - Let's continue the trend.

Who is using fossil fuels and how much?
- Petroleum products
- Petroleum product consumption
- Fossil Fuel is 40% of the fuel we use

Reduce your fuel consumption by:

* Replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFL's)
* Walking and biking
* Carpooling or taking public transportation only when you must - cut back driving errands to once a week - consolidate your trips
* Lowering your heat in the winter and air conditioner in the summer
* Turning off lights and electronic equipment when not in use--even in "standby" mode, electronics still consume energy- unplug equipment not in use
* Buying high efficiency appliances
* Using people and animal power, geothermal, wind and other renewable energy resources
* Investing in renewable technologies
* Using email and buy items produced locally to lower the need for shipping
* Doing these things at your workplace, church, market, etc.

Saving Time and Keeping a small carbon footprint!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Apartment Composting - Part 2

Wow! It's been almost a week since I started composting. It's nice not having to take the trash out every night. :)

I've been asked why I didn't go the worm route and got the electric composter. I just didn't like the idea of having worms in the kitchen. It was creeping me out. With no yard and a tiny patio, I needed something. So until I get over the worms or have a yard I decided to invest in the machine.

I have had a little smell. The biggest smell is old coffee. I only make it at home once a week so I must use strong coffee! Ha! I added more baking soda, so the smell did go away.

Now I am so excited. Over the week I collected enough scraps to make a batch. The machine ran and then deposited the compost into the lower chamber. Now I can continue to add to the composter because it all stays in the upper chamber, but I need to wait 5 days before removing the bottom tray - enough time to let the compost dry out.

One batch seems to be just enough for all of my potted plants. But I won't need to fertilize them every week...anybody need some compost? I'm buying! :)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Apartment Composting

Okay, I've been dying to try composting in my apartment but have hesitated because everything I have read about was using live worms. So after searching long and hard I have found one to try out.

I bought a Nature Mill composter (see picture). Here is the website:
Be sure to watch the video because it explains how to use it.

Now I plugged mine in today and you can't just start putting in scraps. First you put in 2 cups of outdoor dirt from the ground. It also comes with a bag of sawdust pellets and a box of baking soda. At the start of each "batch" you need to thrown in the sawdust pellets and baking soda if you don't have a lot of "brown" items. "Brown" items are the untreated or unpainted sawdust, wood shavings, bread, rice, pasta, grains, nuts, nut shells, straw, dry flowers, small yard leaves, coffee ground and paper filters.
The "brown" items balance the "green" (organic) items and gives you the nice soil in the bottom tray.

Okay so here it goes. As the instructions say, composting takes time so I'll check back with you in about a month with progress. I should be reporting I have had 2 great batches of soil!

If you are interested in buying one, let me know! I have coupons for $30 off a composter.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Oh if application were as great as the science. I really hope this takes off. With global warming, the seas are rising...and now we can use the extra seawater to run our cars.

But seriously I have been struggling with whether to trade in my car for an electric car or a hybrid. I've been mulling it over for a couple years now and I still haven't done it. I do purchase the carbon offsets, so I am contributing to wind and solar power and the planting of more trees, but I'm still causing the emissions. So I'll continue to wrestle with this dilemma, perhaps for another year, or perhaps when they make the seawater cars.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Invest is decreasing emissions

Climate Change: What is your impact?

I try to do my part by taking the metro to work and minimally drive my car. May is ride your bike to work month, so I've scouted out a route to work which will take me about an hour to ride. I just need the weather to cooperate.

But how well am I doing? Here is another way to measure your carbon footprint and offset your current carbon output as you learn how you are effecting climate change.

Climate Change Calculator
I took the quiz and my household is doing pretty good. We contribute to about 1/2 the emission of an average 2 person household in the US, but a little over twice as much as the world average.

Take the quiz and see what you can do today! :)

Green Cities

Lots of cities and counties have their own green efforts.

Here is a great way to learn about what is going on in your area.

Learn More About Cool Counties and Take Action
Sierra Club's Cool Counties Forum -- Visit our forum to find many resources for county governments. Post your questions or helpful information to share with others! There are several county climate action plans, including a climate action plan template from Alameda County, CA that your county can adapt to create their own plan. Explore the many useful tools we’ve collected for you, like ICLEI's Preparing for Climate Change -- A Guidebook for Local, Regional, and State Governments.

NACo's Green Government Database -- Check out the National Association of Counties' searchable database of county climate and environmental programs, policies, resolutions, and plans.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sign the petition to get Clorox to take back their filters

Brita water filters are a great way to improve your drinking water, but the filters are just filling the land fills. Please help get Clorox to take back their water filters for recycling!

Send them your filters

Monday, May 5, 2008

Rebuilding Green

Since the hurricane hit the Gulf Coast, communities are deciding to rebuild Green.

Out of tragedy they see opportunity.
updated 3:54 p.m. EDT, Fri May 2, 2008
GREENSBURG, Kansas (CNN) -- There are still piles of bricks and rubble on countless streets in Greensburg, Kansas, a year after a tornado demolished more than 90 percent of the town.

On May 4, 2007, a ferocious twister blasted Greensburg, Kansas, killing 11 people in the town of 1,400.

Yet what is happening in the city's rebuilding process may not only re-invent Greensburg but provide a model for "green" building everywhere.

Just a week after the deadly tornado hit May 4, 2007, a similar idea sparked in the mayor, a representative from the governor's office and a nonprofit expert from a nearby town.

The concept: If the whole town had to be rebuilt anyway, why not be bold and build it as a global example of conservation, energy efficiency and creativity?
Daniel Wallach, the nonprofit specialist, soon got the green light to help residents and businesses start over in a project known as Greensburg GreenTown.
"Kansas is known for being very conservative," Wallach said.
"My first order of business was to listen. What I heard were a lot of concerns about politicization and being associated with 'tree huggers.' I helped frame it with the people here in such a way they saw, this is their movement," he said.

Fifth-generation Greensburg resident Anita Hohl joined the staff of Greensburg GreenTown as a Web specialist.
"I was pretty green to begin with. I used to get teased about being a tree hugger. Now it's 'the thing!' This has really brought us so much closer together. What you can accomplish when just a few people are working toward the same goal is amazing," she said. Her farming grandparents instilled the virtue of being energy-efficient.
"My grandma always put her clothes on the line, did her own gardening and re-used everything," Hohl said.

Hohl and her husband, a daughter, a son, four cats, a dog and two birds are among the Greensburg residents in "FEMAville," a cluster of mobile homes set up as temporary housing. The family hopes to break ground soon for their new house and move in by Thanksgiving. Although they have made the best of the cramped quarters, she says, there are some challenges.

"It sort of feels like living in a cheap motel! But it's a lot better than it could be. It's nice to have a place to be," she said.
From the start, the GreenTown staff knew that getting the business community on board with the green plan was vital.

And in rural America, there is no business that's more of a bedrock than the John Deere dealership. In Greensburg, that dealership has been in the Estes family for four generations. Their facility was wiped out by the twister. "The building was a total loss. And we saved only 13 pieces of machinery out of 220 on the lot," Kelly Estes said. "The FEMA guy said he had never seen anything like it. Steel twisted into brick, and then the miles per hour needed to pick up combines that weigh 25,000 pounds and move them half a mile in the air," he said. Kelly and his brother Mike decided to rebuild in town to the highest green-building standard.

The U.S. Green Building Council establishes a rating system for efficient buildings called LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The Greensburg facility is aiming for LEED platinum, the most demanding standard.

There is one wind turbine on their new property, a 100-foot structure designed to generate 5 kilowatts of electricity. It is providing power for the construction site.
Although "green" may be viewed as trendy and new by some, Mike Estes knows that it is not for show.
"We're looking at saving money here; truthfully, we are. We're running a business. If we can't make this make sense, why would we do it?" he asked.
And he says the non-political approach of the city in encouraging energy efficiency has helped.

"I don't think it's red or blue to be green; I think green is green, and green makes sense. And green saves you green!" he said with a laugh.
Being a model for the world in energy efficiency is a major goal of Greensburg GreenTown.
But there is another even more urgent aim: keeping this rural town from disappearing. The lack of jobs in many small towns means that after teenagers graduate from high school, they have to leave to find other opportunities.
"The average age of people living in rural communities is in their 50s," Wallach said. "There are very few folks in the communities under that age, because there are just no jobs. Families have been split up for decades."

So in addition to the long-term goal of Greensburg's pre-tornado businesses from leaving, people hope to attract new green trade as well. The city wants to open a biodiesel facility as one of its first green newcomers.
Another long-term goal is to have 100 percent renewable energy. It is probable that the greatest contribution would come from large wind turbines.

"The timing of all this is, in some ways, almost spooky," Wallach said. "It's like the world was ready for this to happen, for a town to be completely re-imagined. The tragedy was terrible. But the folks here know that it also provided an incredible opportunity."
The New, Green New Orleans
New Orleans' longstanding practice of dumping wood, metal, plastic and other recyclables into landfills contradicts any notion of reusing resources to rebuild and sustain the city. "That's the opposite of sustainability. That's just crazy," says John Klingman, a professor of architecture at Tulane University and an expert in green construction. Sadly, buildings that are razed in Orleans Parish are simply carted off to a landfill. This practice deprives builders and citizens of any chance to reuse pieces of our city's architectural heritage — doorframes, doors, handmade bricks, elaborate millwork, slate roofing tiles and other building products. This is senseless, but there is a way to stop the insanity. TransLoad America, a company specializing in handling, recycling and disposing of waste, proposes building two waste-sorting and recycling facilities in New Orleans. These facilities are not landfills. Through a systematic series of sorting steps, TLA expects to recycle up to 70 percent of what it receives in construction and demolition debris. TLA's proposal has widespread support among local environmental groups, but promoters of existing and proposed landfills are trying to derail City Council approval of TLA's facilities. That would be a major setback to local recovery and recycling efforts.

To understand why TLA's facilities are needed, it's important to understand how its handling of construction and demolition debris differs from the current practice of hauling and landfilling. The first step is a simple one: immediately reusable resources, such as clean brick or undamaged wood, are culled from incoming debris. These materials are made available at no cost to environmental groups or residents to be used for rebuilding. After that, plastic, metal and glass are separated out and sent to recycling plants. Some of the wood is converted into energy pellets that can be used in power plants or made into logs that can be burned in wood stoves or fireplaces. Finally, the remaining nonprocessable materials are delivered by rail to a TLA landfill in St. Charles Parish.

TLA proposes two facilities — one on the Industrial Canal at Chef Menteur Highway exclusively for construction and demolition debris, and a second on the Michoud Canal in eastern New Orleans. The Michoud facility will handle construction and demolition debris as well as commercial solid waste from local businesses. Residue from commercial waste, after the recycling process, will be sealed in airtight, watertight bales and transported via train to a landfill in Alabama. No waste will stay in New Orleans.

Another advantage of TLA's process is its practice of transporting materials via rail. Trains produce less air pollution than diesel dump trucks, are more fuel efficient and are safer than truck transportation. Over the course of two years, a TLA facility in Newark, N.J., has saved more than 1.7 million gallons of diesel fuel by riding the rails. Trains also mean fewer trucks on the streets, which means less congestion and damage to local roads. TLA selected both its proposed New Orleans sites because of their proximity to existing rail lines.

If its facilities win City Council approval, TLA will make an initial investment of $20 million and employ 100 people between both plants. When TLA first began investigating the prospect of coming to New Orleans in 2006, in the wake of Katrina and at the onset of a massive recovery effort, company officials thought their proposals would be a good environmental fit. But, as often happens, politics also plays a role.

Even though the proposed facilities would be located in heavy industrial areas, TLA needs a "conditional use" permit from City Hall. That requires review by the City Planning Commission (which split 4-4, despite a favorable recommendation from its staff) and by the City Council. Eastern New Orleans has been traumatized by massive landfills, and citizens there are rightly anxious about any proposed waste-treatment plant. TLA has worked with city planners and community leaders to address concerns about the facilities. Now it's up to the City Council, which could consider TLA's applications this week. We urge the council to approve both proposals.

New Orleans should be a model of sustainability, yet we have no waste-disposal facilities that recycle.

TLA's supporters include Dr. Earthea Nance, director of infrastructure and environmental planning in the city's Office of Recovery Management, and Wynecta Fisher, director of the Mayor's Office of Environmental Affairs. State Rep. Cedric Richmond, whose district comprises much of eastern New Orleans, also supports TLA's proposal. Other endorsements come from experts like Beverly Wright, executive director of Dillard University's Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, and Bo Fudickar, technology industry director for the state's Department of Economic Development.

Some worry that eastern New Orleans is becoming the city's dump. TLA's plants will have the opposite effect — they will make eastern New Orleans a vital part of the new, green New Orleans. The City Council should grant TLA's conditional use permits as soon as possible.


Dec 26,2006
Brad Pitt + Global Green USA Seeking Partners for New Orleans Green Community

This is fantastic news--we have a little quid pro quo that could change the future of a company forever. Seriously. Pitt + Global Green USA have partnered to build a sustainable community in New Orleans. They are seeking cornerstone partners, each with category exclusivity, to help create a prototype for affordable, green housing. Housing will be energy-efficient with environmentally conscious and weather-resistant materials. Here's how the deal works:

Potential Partner Company Provides:

* $1-2 million in year one, with right of first refusal in years two-four
* Support for green initiatives through employee education
* Support for green initiatives through consumer awareness program, sales of iconic products, etc.

Potential Partner Company Receives:

* Inclusion in Global Green USA stories with media outlets such as "The Oprah Winfrey Show," People Magazine, "The Today Show," "Dateline NBC," VH1, etc.
* Earn consumer trust and brand loyalty through commitment to Go Global Green
* Affiliation with celebrity spokesperson Brad Pitt

The deadline to act on this is January 31, 2007. That's about it as far available information, but I think this could be a great opportunity to get your company going on an explosively green track. Will it be profitable? Hard to say, but there looks to be substantial upside. Via PRNewswire via 'razzi.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sustainable Dining - Seafood

I went to a really great restaurant last night in Georgetown called Hook DC. We went for a friend's birthday party. It was not only a good time with friends, but the food was incredibly delicious and they teach you a little about sustainable fishing practices as they describe their menu.

For dinner I had the Bluefish over some risotto with tomato sauce, and pesto on the side. I thought the pesto would be too overbearing, but it really complemented the taste of the fish!

The Bluefish are found in the Mid and South Atlantic waters. 40% are caught using gillnets. There isn't an abundance of these fish, but they are not being over-fished, like the Salmon, so the population is pretty stable.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

More Towns Committing To "Going Green"

Seeing news like this really makes my day.

I just downloaded Google Earth and one of my big projects I want to do is log on there all of the towns that are committed to environmental planning.
If anyone knows of a site already, let me know so I won't try to recreate it! :)

More Towns Committing To "Going Green"
Cherry Hill, N.J. One Of The Communities That Makes Environmental Planning A Priority

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Time to Run!

It's time enjoy the trail system!
Here are some runs I've been doing in the DC, Northern VA area. It's a great way to see your town and to see why it's important to stop pollution and waste.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Thrifty Green

Going Green is also thrifty

Here are some cost savings I have each month, now that I no longer by these items.
I also have fewer containers to throw away or recycle by switching to one good all purpose cleaner and getting bar soaps and shampoos.

Ajax 2.49
Separate wood cleaner 5.51
Separate Window cleaner 9.99
Lotions 10
Fingernail polish 4
Mascara 15
Nail polish remover 6.75
Sunless tanning lotion 9.49
Air freshner 6
Shower gels 8 (Now using bar soap from Kiss my Face)and Pangea Organics
Bleach 4.5
Separate stain remover 6
Separate toilet bowl cleaner 4.5
Separate shower cleaner 10
Total $102.23

What did I do with the money? I sent that money to the Nature Conservancy.
What else can I stop buying?

Friday, April 4, 2008

U.S. Armed Forces go eco-friendly

U. S. Armed Forces go eco-friendly

The Armed Forces are going green.

The Army and Air Force are developing technology to turn trash into gas — and therefore cash — for the Department of Defense, the largest consumer of energy in the United States.


According to Pentagon figures, the Defense Department spent $13.6 billion for energy in 2006. It uses 340,000 barrels of oil a day, or 1.5 percent of the total energy consumed in the U.S.


Pentagon officials consider that dependency on oil — much of it produced abroad — not only a huge expense, but a national security risk as well.


The Armed Forces use 1.2 million barrels of oil each month in Iraq alone, and former CIA director James Woolsey, an energy adviser to the Pentagon, has estimated that it costs the U.S. $100 for every gallon, when the cost of maintaining supply lines and security is taken into account.


In December 2005, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld directed his department to “do all it can” to save energy. He set up a task force headed by his deputy, Gordon England, and former Defense and Energy Secretary James Schlesinger.


The Air Force took the lead, winning an Environmental Protection Agency “Green Power” award in 2006 as one of the top 25 purchasers of green power.


It has since won four more energy awards, and is now the leading purchaser and user of wind energy in the United States.


Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada is powered by the largest solar-power array in the Americas — saving the government an estimated $1 million a year.


Dyess, Minot, and Fairchild Air Force bases purchase 100 percent of their electricity from renewable sources of energy.


Airmen and their families have been using biomass fuel at Hill Air Force Base in Utah since 2004, thanks to a 1.3 megawatt landfill gas project. In other words, they are creating gas from the air base’s trash.


But saving money isn't the only reason for going green. Maj. Gen. Richard Zilmer noted that 70 percent of U.S. military vehicles traveling on roads in Iraq's volatile Anbar province were oil tankers providing fuel for the troops, easy targets for roadside bombs. He requested that the Pentagon send generators that could convert trash into fuel to generate electricity, so that fewer oil trucks would be on the road.


Defense Life Sciences, based in McLean, Va., was given a contract to come up with a solution. It teamed with a group of researchers at Purdue University and developed two 4-ton “tactical bio-refineries” that they are preparing to send to Iraq next month. Each can run for 20 hours on a ton of trash — enough electricity to power a small village.


Organic garbage is fed into a reactor, in which it is fermented into ethanol. Then plastic, cardboard and other paper items are burned to create propane or methane. These elements are then combusted in a modified diesel engine to power a 60 kilowatt generator.


The prototype costs $1 million and is now ready to be tested in a war zone.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Virginia's pollution - how is it measuring up?

Air Quality
Virginia is holding levels down, but has not reduced total emissions. While emissions per unit of economic activity in the state continue to fall for many pollutants, strong eco growth at the same time potentially erodes any gains in air quality that tighter emission controls might achieve.

Virginia is within the federal limits on air quality for all pollutants except for ozone in Northern Virginia. Starting in 1998, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began using a more stringent standard for ozone performance. Since that time, Virginia has significantly reduced the number of days when the ozone standard was exceeded, from 235 days per year on average between 1997 and 1999 to an average 51.7 days between 2005 and 2007. Northern Virginia, with an average of 38.7 days exceeding the ozone standard between 2005 and 2007, had the poorest air quality. In 2006, Virginia had 56 days where the air quality was considered unhealthy for people with asthma and lung disease, a part of the population that is most sensitive to changes in air quality.

Water Quality

The Chesapeake Bay is a particularly important water resource for the state. While Virginia has agreed to reduce its contribution to the nitrogen and phosphorous loads in the bay by substantial amounts by 2010, progress toward this goal has been slow. The pace of the cleanup should, however, improve as point source regulations are fully implemented, non-point source funding increases, and targeting of best management practices expands.

Likewise, the number of impaired waterways throughout the Commonwealth that have been restored is slowly increasing. Since some waterways have impairments not under state control, improvements in these waterways may be measured as incremental improvements rather than as a shift from impaired status to unimpaired or restored status.

Superfund sites

Wiki How

This is a cool site!

Wiki How

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