Thursday, January 31, 2008

Slow, slowly takes root in America...

These days, it seems everything is super-fast paced. Faster food, faster internet speeds, faster track times, name it, we now do it faster. But, perhaps, not necessarily better. Slow food has been quietly brewing as a global movement for some time now... and finally, after 3 decades, has crept out of the kitchen and into the rest of our lives.

While green, ecofriendly, and organic are taking hold and helping to change the way business interacts with the world. Far too often, these "ecofriendly" initiatives do nothing to change the pace of resource consumption (and thus, habitat destruction, global warming, etc.).

It seems that we are too easily duped by purchasing "green" that we forget that purchasing itself is often a problem. And even if it is green, is it made to last? Made with care? Made with quality? Made to be a great "used" product 10, 20, 30, 400 years from now..?

The slow movement is just that. An attempt to put a halt to our rapid, mass production, mass consumption, and mass mania. And its "slow" seep out from the kitchen promises to re-inject a level of quality to our lives that has sadly, long been missing.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Cradle to cradle: an end to resource death

In the natural world, "biological metabolism" recycles and reuses nutrients through the living and the non-living components of our planet.

In the industrial world, we currently operate under a system of use once, twice maybe, then dispose of products (technical nutrients) into a landfill - effectively locking up potentially valuable materials, and producing a significant waste problem.

Cradle to cradle (C2C) design radically rethinks our design and manufacturing worlds by imposing strict standards of reusability on ALL products produced, from our homes to our diapers. Products certified under the cradle to cradle design concept will be 100% recyclable or reusable!

Outlined in their book: Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, American Architect, William McDonough and German chemist, Michael Braungart, describe a simple, intuitive, and practical approach to design that is slowly gaining acceptance and promising to revolutionize the way we manufacture and think about objects of any sort. If fully incorporated, C2C promises to significantly reduce the human impact on the natural world.

This book is not just a brilliant idea in a standard package, it is an example of just what C2C means for our future. The book is printed on synthetic "paper" made from plastic resins and inorganic fillers. Designed with the look and feel of top quality paper it is also completely waterproof, can take quite a beating, and can be fully recycled in practically all localities in the US.

For more information on this concept and it's progress check out the website of C2C founder William McDonough, and for a really comprehensive chronology of the C2C movement check here.


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Our nuclear future

As each primary unfolds, it is becoming clear that either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton will obtain the Democratic Presidential nomination, and, perhaps, become the next president of the United States. The Republican nomination remains much less clear, with no individual an obvious contender for the Presidential position.

Given the recent developments in Great Britain's attitude towards nuclear power, whoever becomes the 44th President of the United States, they will face significant pressure to work with the nuclear industry.

While a few environmentally-minded folks these days consider nuclear fuel to be a green choice, many, if not most, still recognize the inherent dangers, and the challenges of safe disposal and transport of spent fuel.

So far, unfortunately, little has been discussed regarding the candidate's positions on the future of nuclear energy production in the United States. The following information is provided from Grist:

Democratic positions:
So far, neither of the two leading candidates for the democratic nomination have stood up in opposition to nuclear energy: Barack Obama has come out in clear support of nuclear energy as part of a mixed energy strategy; while Hillary Clinton has retained a position of ambiguity. John Edwards, while no longer considered a serious contender, is fully opposed to nuclear power.
* Hillary Clinton Ambiguous
* John Edwards Opposes
Mike Gravel Opposes
* Dennis Kucinich Opposes
* Barack Obama Supports

Republican position:
All Republican candidates are supportive of nuclear power.
* Rudy Giuliani Supports
* Mike Huckabee Supports
Duncan Hunter Supports
John McCain Supports
Ron Paul Supports
Mitt Romney Supports
Fred Thompson Supports


What happens in Vegas, just maybe, should leave Vegas afterall!?

Perhaps not an immediate choice to lead the next agricultural revolution, Las Vegas (which means fertile plains), may in fact do just that. Vegas, one of the most visited tourist hotspots in the world, may be gearing up to become the site for a money-producing new attraction that is most definitely not a casino.

Reported on in Next Energy News, Developers are currently considering a $200 million dollar project to develop the worlds first full-scale vertical farm (VF). The VF is currently planned to open its doors by 2010 and should produce enough food to feed over 70,000 people/year.

Annual revenue from a combination of both tourism and food production could exceed $40 million/year and equal or exceed the profitability of most casinos.

For more information on the vertical farm movement, check out the vertical farm website, or Chris Jacob's vertical farm blog.

[editor's note: recent communications have shown that there is a serious lack of "factual" data to support this story: who is the developer, the architectural firm, etc? If anyone has any insight into the facts of the Vegas Vertical Farm (VVF), please let me know!]


Friday, January 11, 2008

Looking to buy or sell a green home? ...find an EcoBroker

Got kids, allergies, want to change your life, or simply reduce you bills, ...looking to buy a green home (or a home with greening potential), look no further. EcoBroker International not only certifies real estate professionals in all aspects of green homes, but provides listings of both agents and properties.

The first and only international provider of green certification for real estate professionals, EcoBroker® works under the mission "to broaden and improve the base of training and continuing education for real estate professionals, and in turn, the public." Coursework undertaken by RE professionals is eligible for continuing education credits.

Licensed EcoBrokers are now present in over 42 states, 4 Canadian provinces and in the Caribbean. If green is what you are looking for in a home, working with a licensed EcoBroker will most likely save you money, time and possible future headaches.

LEED AP credentials to be obtained from new organization

For those folks in the building industry, either LEED certified, or hoping to become LEED certified, LEED accreditation is now obtained through the new (and separately incorporated) organization: the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI).

This effective separation of the AP credentials from the LEED rating system (administered by the USGBC) is required to enable accreditation under the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).


Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches to halt global warming

mmmm! ...let's munch & chew our way to a healthier, greener planet.

According to the Sierra Club and the PBJ Campaign, regular consumption of PB&J sandwiches is not just scrumptiously good, but it is great for the planet too!

If every person were to substitute just one burger a week with a PB&J, we would release the equivalent of 2.5 pounds less CO2 into the air, and drastically reduce our consumption of fresh water.

I'm not too sure about the impact-reduction factor here, but it sure would do our stomach lines a favor, and who doesn't love a good PB&J..!?


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Green lights the way for the Über rich

In something straight out of Yoda's living room... and at an interstellar cost too, the xDesign Environmental Health Clinic at New York University gives us the "green light".

Essentially a solar-powered, 6watt, LED chandelier, the greenlight incorporates a small tray for plants. According to
Bill Wolverton, the environmental scientist and ex-NASA researcher who pioneered this idea, the light works at wavelengths preferable for photosynthesis. As the incorporated plants grow, they absorb polluted air, thus reducing indoor pollution.

Originally designed for air-cleansing of space-stations, these living lights are now being produced for homes across America. However, given the $6,000/light price tag, we don't expect they will become too common of a sight any time soon.

Even though they score a 10 on the coooool factor, given the astronomical costs of these lights, they get a big green boo from greengo.

From Popular Mechanics and EcoGeek


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Top 10 green cities in US

According to Earthlab's calculations, the top 10 greenest cities in the United States are as seen here...

These calculations are based on over 1 million carbon footprints created by web visitors who entered data on such items as transportation, commute habits, energy consumption, recycling and more. To calculate your own footprint, visit

Just don't throw it ...recellular it!

Cell phones are one of the most common accessories we carry these days. Unfortunately, most folks really do consider them just that. An accessory. And one that goes out of style, out of date and out of their lives all too frequently. Along with the waste produced in the manufacturing of these gadgets, cell phones themselves contribute huge quantities of mass to landfills each year.

The sad part of all of this is that they are 100% (yes, i said 100%) recyclable. Those that are still functional (and many, if not most are) are easily refurbished and resold (if not in the States, abroad to developing nations).

If you have not yet heard of them, then please look into recellular. An innovative company that has slowly and steadily worked to become the nations leading cell phone recycler. Consider how simple it would be to send in your phone when you go to upgrade.

...for those a little more ambitious, consider starting your own local cellphone donation and recycling group. Recellular will purchase (yes, purchase) your collected used phones from you, and all money could easily support a local environmental group, church group, medical cause, or whatever you want.

Biogass to fuel Europe ...why not here too?

Germany may have plans in the pipeline to become a major energy provider for much of Europe in the next few years...

According to the Institute for Energy (Institut für Energetik) in Leipzig, Germany's production capabilities for biogass are large enough to completely remove European dependence on Russian natural gas by the year 2020.

If they can do it, why can't we. All this talk about switch grass, our mountains of cow dung piling up, our waste treatment & solid waste, our good-ole American creativity... what's stopping us. Well, researchers out at UC Davis are working hard on the issue. check out this video to see details on how the process works.

From Biopact & Youtube


Monday, January 7, 2008

What's your impact..?

Ever wondered what your impact is based on consumption? Ever wondered how much trash you actually produce... or where your waste goes to?

Well at least one person has thought of these things ...and deemed the questions worthy of bringing to all our attention. Sustainable Dave is on a major mission to discover just what he adds to our landfills, recycling centers and biohazard sites in one year of living!

With wife and 2 kids to boot, Dave is filling his basement with every piece of garbage associated to an act of personal consumption.

To follow the course of this gruelling project, you can view photos, updates and interesting tidbits at his site:

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Paseo Pantera... huh?

This is going to be the first post of many on this topic. As you can clearly see, Greengolingo is currently a pretty new blog, so there is plenty of time for expanding on topics and ideas. This particular post, however, is going to become a big topic over time because, well, i think that it is an extremely important conservation idea, and one that is largely unheard of right now.

A little background: The Central American isthmus (or landmass) links North and South America through a small corridor of land encompassing the countries of Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Southern Mexico. This sliver of land has acted as an extremely important biotic corridor (i.e. link between N. and S. America for plants and animals) for the last 3-4 million years.

Proyecto Paseo Pantera, otherwise known as the MesoAmerican Biotic Corridor, is a hugely ambitious project designed to maintain the integrity of this biotic corridor by preserving land in an unbroken chain from Mexico through to Colombia. It's named after the Panther (Felis concolor), or cougar, which freely roams throughout the Americas.

What's amazing about this ambitious project, is that all countries involved have already signed on to participate and support the development of this project. The idea being, that economic growth through ecotourism can support the land preservation (and preservation of indigenous groups and traditions). This project is also supported by the United Nations and The United States.

Although such support exists on paper, since it's inception in 1990, very little progress has been made in the construction and maintenance of the corridor. It's partly because of this that i write on the topic...

With such enormous potential to contribute to the preservation of tropical rainforests, and life on the planet, this project deserves much more attention. It is my hope that through this blog (over time), i can raise awareness, and encourage the development of a little more citizen-based, grassroots effort to push this project from paper into an amazing reality.

Please take the opportunity to educate yourself more on this matter. Ideally, readers of this blog will contact environmental groups such as the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Nature Conservancy, the Rainforest Action Network, and/or your local representatives in order to inquire about this project, encourage its development, and spread the word about Paseo Pantera.

When all sides win: treehuggers & developers unite through science

All too often those of us who relish in the natural world find ourselves at loggerheads with the forces of development. Attempts at reconciliation of these two strongly opposing interests have consistently fallen short of the mark.

In a growing body of research, scientists are now arguing that this is less due to irreconcilable differences in human society and the natural world, than it is to a lack of understanding of basic ecology. In other words: There is hope for our future. However, to make things work, we are going to need to start reconsidering how we design our cities, towns, roads, houses, etc.

This might not seem like news to those of us with a head screwed firmly onto our shoulders. The surprising thing is though, that until recently, there was absolutely no science to back this idea. Until recently, no rigorous study had been undertaken to examine
how we might redesign the human world.

In a growing area of research, defined recently as "reconciliation ecology" numerous scientists are beginning to put together the pieces of the puzzle linking biodiversity and ecosystem health to practices of human land use
in the human landscape.

This is not simply a case of the management and study of parks or wilderness areas, but management, planning and design of land use in urban areas and all land that is human occupied.

What is truly revolutionary here is that a large effort is now underway to examine case studies of human/wildlife coexistence in combination with rigorous scientific study of the underlying mechanisms of species diversity (biodiversity) in the human landscape.

The goal of this work, is to enable us to preserve the greatest amount of species diversity and ecosystem function as possible, while allowing for intelligent development
[editors note: not to be confused with the "wise-use" movement - which is a largely corporate backed propaganda campaign designed to open up land use to the most destructive and lucrative interests imaginable. Wise-use is not scientifically backed land-management].

According to Dr. Rosenzweig, a leading authority in this area, and world-renowned ecologist, "
reconciliation ecology is the science of inventing, establishing and maintaining new habitats to conserve species diversity in places where people live, work or play. Reconciliation Ecology seeks environmentally sound ways for us to continue to use the land for our own benefit."

For those of us who are big readers, and really interested in this topic, a great introductory book is Win-Win Ecology by Dr. Rosenzweig.


Saturday, January 5, 2008

Carbon Neutral Lawncare

Each year millions of pounds of atmospheric pollutants are spewed into our air, saturating our crops, being soaked up into our lungs, and slowly (or not so slowly as the case may be these days) warming up our atmosphere.

Surprisingly, a large proportion (some estimates are around 15%) of this pollution may be directly linked to your green yard! What looks like a healthy, clean, outdoor recreational area, is in fact a guilty culprit in the theft of our children's futures.

The use of gas powered lawnmowers, leaf blowers, edgers, trimmers and weed-whackers, has increased dramatically in the last few years. These days, many folks are just too busy to maintain their own yard, and yet, still want that manicured green dream. To accommodate them, lawncare services have sprung up everywhere. These services are usually quite affordable, and yet highly profitable. Most folks do not even consider the environmental impact of this type of lawncare.

Luckily (for my kids and yours), a truly innovative company is picking up the eco-slack here, and stepping in where they are most needed. Clean Air LawnCare, founded in 2006 by Kelly Giard, is in the early stages of becoming a nationwide lawncare franchise. Using a combination of biodiesel, windpower, and carbon trading, this company works with the goal of remaining 100% carbon neutral.

Waste not, want not

For most of us, our homes end up packed each year with more and more items that we "will use one day". Items that seem to be useful, yet for what, well, we're not really sure. Exercise equipment that is just too much work to setup or use. Cookware, or dishes that fill cupboards and gather dust. Clothes that fit us prior to that x-mas 3 yrs ago at grandma's...

Some of this stuff could easily make you money and find a new great home if you simply took a quick photo of it and posted it onto EBAY or Craigslist. But most of it, well, what's the point?'s simply too old, too shabby, not valuable enough to take the time and ship. Too heavy, too awkward, or you simply don't like selling things online. Okay, so let's just throw this stuff out...

Alternatively, rather than throwing out that chipped pot, or that 3 legged chair, or your 8 year old's 6yr old clothes... why not Freecycle it!?

Freecycle, for those of us that have not already heard of it, is gathering momentum every day, with freecycling networks popping up every day the world over.

Freecycle is a grassroots, nonprofit, free service made up of folks from every walk of life that are interested in preventing or reducing the constant flow of goods to landfills. Freecycle allows you to post info on items that you have (and want to get rid of) to a local listserve, and choose, from the responses arriving, who you will give it to.

In addition, you can use it to make requests for items that you want, FOR FREE!, and look for items listed that might be useful to you. What could be simpler. And, for those of us with clutter issues, a tendency towards ratpacking, it's time to let go. Freecycle makes it so easy to get access to the bizarre items you might want to stuff closets with, that your excuse for stuffing them no longer exists. Use the items, then pass them on.


How to make money being green... part 1.

These days, being green has moved way out of the fringe and smack into the heart of our mainstream society. Green this, green that, seems like everyday some new article comes up about being green in a new and creative (and often, unfortunately, completely unpractical or unnecessary) way.

How do we sort through this forest of "green" to find the products, the groups, the ideas that are going to help us to save some money and make the difference we all want to..?

One great idea, that will both help others in your area to live in as ecofriendly a way as possible, and also help you to earn money being green, is to produce a green guide to your area.

To do this, simply get out. Walk around, hike around, cycle, talk to people. Live the lifestyle that you really want to in your area, but do it AND pay attention. Write down the details, interview folks... How much more fun could this be. All you have to do is all you want to do, and the information will simply pile up.

But what to do with that info... how to organize it? How do you present it?

Simple. Follow the lead of the few enterprising folks already doing this in one or two areas. Find out what works what doesn't work and modify it to fit your interests, and your town/city/bioregion.

To put it together, try a blog. Or even a book. A great example is the Insiders' Guide To The Big Green Apple: Your Guide to Eco-friendly Living in New York City" written by Ben Jervey.

However you do it, the most important part to making green by being green, is simply to enjoy yourself. This may never become a full time job, or pay ALL of your bills. But if green is how you want to live, then why not create a resource that helps others to do the same while doing just what you do all the time anyway.


Thursday, January 3, 2008

Green Living, USA

Aptly named Greensburg, Kansas, flattened by a tornado in May of 2007, is in the process of rebuilding itself as a model town for future green developments in the U.S.

What's amazing about this radical identity reinvention, is not just the level of commitment, nor the tenacity of the locals to even rebuild in the first place, but more, its in Kansas! A state not generally considered the most forward thinking, or the most likely spot for the green revolution, Kansas, it seems, turns out to be the ideal location for a project of this scope. In rethinking the future of their town, Greensburgers have come to the unique discovery that green is not just a fad of the rich and famous, nor of the granola crunching backwoodies... Green, in fact, is a truly blue-collar, common sense, practical, and plain-and-simply American contribution to the global future.

With more LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) buildings in the pipeline than anywhere in the US, Greensburg is firmly on its way to achieving the goal of leeding our way. In fact, as of December 17th, Greensburg officially adopted a resolution requiring all new City buildings to be built to the LEED platinum level - the highest standard of Green building recognized under this certification scheme.

Even Mother Earth Magazine has seen the value this town may hold for the country and is building a home in Greensburg - to be set up as an educational center. This home (not yet built) is being touted as the future "greenest" home in America. While this may be a bit of a stretch of the truth (given the huge number of great green homes built by committed individuals and not listed anywhere), it, no doubt, will become a fundamental resource and contribution to Greensburg's Model Home Project.

Among the other green plans for this town is included the use of alternative fuel vehicles. In fact, the town is hoping to develop a rental fleet of vehicles consisting entirely of alternative fuel cars, and has taken a big step in this direction by setting up a natural gas fueling station, and accepting the donation of a natural gas-fueled Honda Civic GX

Green living, while a dream of many, has so far eluded most folks in this country due primarily to the associated costs. The most impressive thing about this town is that it truly is a working class dream. From the dust and destruction left in the wake of a a devastating tornado, Greensburgers are not only standing up, rebuilding and strengthening their community, they are providing a major burst of interest and leadership for this nation in one of the biggest challenges we face.

To help out with this greenovation please follow this link. All donations to Greensburg, Greentown are wholly tax deductible. Greensburg, Greentown is a non-profit organization founded shortly after the devastating events of May, 2007, with the goals of enabling Greensburgers to achieve their dream of leading the green revolution in America and the world from the heartland of this country.