Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hawaii, THE Better Place?

Find more photos like this on Planet Better Place

I came across this great article about a newish company called A Better Place, dedicated to installing recharge facilities worldwide which will make owning and driving an electric car feasible thus eliminating our dependence on oil.

They have chosen Hawaii as the first state in which to build these recharging stations. The power they use to recharge the battery is from wind or solar power so that their dependence on oil is ZERO!

They are a company that began in Israel and then spread to Denmark and Australia. The Founder and CEO, Shai Agassi has a blog called The Long Tailpipe.

Check 'em out!

Monday, November 24, 2008

TerraCycle Inc.

I came across this organization called Terracycle. They take all sorts of trash/recycleables and refilles them with worm compost and sells them to use as plant food. They also have sponsorships for each different item you can send in and you can choose to donate the money you would receive to a school or the Adopt A Classroom project.

My office building doesnt recycle and it pains me to throw away the many water bottles we all collect (we have no water fountain or water cooler so bottled water is really the only option). I have been keeping these bottles under my desk and have accumulated about 100 of them. I just became a member of the bottle brigade and I am awaiting boxed with pre paid UPS labels. All I have to do is fill the boxes with the de-labeled bottles and BAM! I have my leg room back, I am sending the bottles off to be reused AND the proceeds from the bottles are going to help a school. That's what I call efficient & sustainable!!

Also, it looks like this program is in desparate need of a sponsor. If you or your ocmpany would like to do something to really feel proud of, go here

Monday, November 10, 2008

Al Gore wrote an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times yesterday which included an inspiring 5 point plan for reversing the damage we have done to our Environment which he directed to Barack Obama. I found it motivating and hopeful. Click on the excerpt below to be directed to the full article.

To those who are still tempted to dismiss the increasingly urgent alarms from scientists around the world, ignore the melting of the north polar ice cap and all of the other apocalyptic warnings from the planet itself, and who roll their eyes at the very mention of this existential threat to the future of the human species, please wake up. Our children and grandchildren need you to hear and recognize the truth of our situation, before it is too late.

The Carbon Quotient Project

Goggle is asking people, with innovative ideas regarding the environment, to enter a contest. I am getting all of the details about the contest and also more details about one of the entrants, creators of The Carbon Quotient Project.

This video will give you a 30 second look at what the Carbon Quotient ranking system will offer consumers. It is virtually impossible to know how much environmental cost is attributed to every product you buy (watch the Story of Stuff!). With the Carbon Quotient, you can make informed decisions on products that impact the environment in much the same way that you do when reading calorie labels!

Watch the video, go to the website, and leave comments with any questions you have!

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Sea Turtles Need You!

It has been said by scientists that we know more about the moon than we do about the wide expanse that is the ocean! Can you believe that? That means that the oceans may offer so many undiscovered opportunities for science and medicine. The problem is, our oceans are in trouble. But it isn't too late to reverse the damage done if we act now.

I have been to the Bahamas. I swam with the dolphins and snorkeled amongst the beautiful sea life. The water is so clear it is will actually take your breath away. It always amazes me when places of such pristine beauty totally take their surroundings for granted.

What would our world be like if we had no coral reefs, if we had no fish or sea animals? We don't want to find out how much that would stink after it is too late! It is imperative that we preserve marine ecosystems now. Australia has made it a priority to restore their oceans and as a result the sea life is regenerating much faster than expected!

Apparently, in the Bahamas, it is completely legal to hunt any sea turtle except one species. As turtles are migratory, and the Bahamas is so close to the US, this is going to affect our marine ecosystems. Sign this petition and tell the government in the Bahamas to enact a law that outlaws the killing of all sea turtles. It is about respecting our environment if we want it to be around for future generations to enjoy!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Adopt A Turkey This Thanksgiving!

There is a great organization called Farm Sanctuary that advocates for farm animals' living conditions before they become our dinners. It is fact that if an animal is able to roam free and live a happier life, that will positively affect the quality of the meat that they produce. Farm Sanctuary, and all meat eaters, really, had a big win on election night when Prop 2 was passed enacting laws about the treatment of farm animals...Hopefully we are on our way to living a more conscious, animal friendly life style.

This bring me to my next topic...Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. The stuffing, the sweet potatoes, the pecan pie...I mean, can anything be better? This is actually my first Thanksgiving since I became a vegetarian and I am eager to see if I am going to miss the turkey. My hunch is that, with the extra stuffing to compensate, I'll be fine.

Farm Sanctuary does an annual Adopt A Turkey Project where for $25 you can adopt a turkey, save it from the slaughter and give it, it's own yummy turkey-friendly Thanksgiving meal (veggies only!). I am NOT trying to turn you vegetarian. It isn't for everyone, and I understand that. What I am saying is, make sure your turkey comes form an organic farm where the turkey's lives aren't compromised in order for us to be able to indulge. Especially since there are alternatives i.e. buying organic!

Some horrible practices are in effect in "turkey factories" which include: de-beaking and de-clawing so the turkies can't peck each other in their tiny, confined spaces. This also makes it impossible for them to control food intake. This procedure is done without anestesia which causes pain, excessive bleeding that leads to infections and often times, death.

They are also genetically altered to grow way faster than is healthy for them. It is said that "If a seven pound [human] baby grew at the same rate that today’s turkey grows, when the baby reaches 18 weeks of age, it would weigh 1,500 pounds.” This can lead to cardiovascular disease and death.

I guess my point is, this Thanksgiving, when we are going over all of the things that we can be thankful for in our lives, let's not take the very meal we are eating for granted. Make the choice to support organic, free-range, turkey farms and then you can have one more thing to feel good about! Make this Thanksgiving a compassionate one for all!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I Was Just Sucked In!

Upon departing my office building to go grab a salad for lunch, I was stopped by the cheery-est, friendliest, and perkiest Greenpeace canvasser that I just had to stop. After a quick chat about my blog and Bike Stop and her background (she is an environmental activist who spoke before Congress last year!) I became a member. I couldn't say no!

When I was 12, I had a Bat Mitzvah. It is tradition to have a candle lighting ceremony to recognize family members and thank them for their impact on your life and their help in molding you into a productive human being. I, however, used this as a platform to discuss the causes that were important to me. I remember dedicating a candle to Greenpeace, ending world hunger, preserving the rain forest and a few other causes. Its true....I'm a nerd....

And that is why Greenpeace holds a special place in my heart. If you want to become a member visit their website . If we dont support this, and other great organizations like it, they will go bankrupt, as Greenpeace almost did a couple of years ago (more info from the canvasser!). I, for one, am happy that they are still around!!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Guest Blog: What Does 'Going Organic' Mean?

Hello my favorite environmental advocates! I have recruited a nutritional genius from across the pond. Amanda Miles lives in England and is a Nutritional Therapist. I had a few questions for Amanda on the benefits of eating organic and I thought 'who better to share this with than my favorites Greenies?!?!', so here you go! I will be doing a series of posts with Amanda so hopefully you find this information interesting and informative. Please feel free to leave any of your own questions in the 'comments' that Amanda will address right here!

And without further adieu, Amanda Miles' brilliance:

My organic journey started from a desire to maintain my own health and well-being. The more I thought about it, the more illogical it seemed to eat food that is sprayed with pesticides, which are designed to kill living organisms!

Organic certification means that the food is produced without the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Organic farmers encourage crop rotation to produce naturally fertile soil and therefore also support greater diversity in the local environment.Organic certification also prohibits the use of GM crops, which are untested in regards to safety in long term use.

I made a decision to remove all food from my diet that is treated with chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and to remove meat from animals that are routinely treated with drugs and antibiotics … i.e. to ‘go organic’.

After I had changed my food choices to organic, I changed the beauty products I use to more natural alternatives, as the toxic chemicals that are in many products are easily absorbed through your skin. I also changed all the household products we use, to really try to minimize our exposure to unnecessary chemicals.

After eating organic food for some time I started to think more about the global issues associated with food production … was it really right for me to eat organic beans that are flown in from Kenya? How much did I really know about the supermarket’s organic livestock supply chains?

Embracing the organic movement shouldn’t just be about eating organic food that has been air-freighted hundreds of miles from its origin, or being ignorant about the origins of your food; it should be about eating responsibly and with the knowledge that your choices are sustainable.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Green Up Your Holiday Festivities!

Eco- Libris (one of my favorite organizations) has done it again! They have collaborated on a great book full of green tips for the holidays. It is called Celebrate Green and here's what the authors had to say about why they decided to write this book:

"the reason it's important to green up our celebrations is that holidays and special days are plentiful...holidays and special days don't happen on one day only in one place; they occur throughout the year in homes, schools, and places of work across the globe."
Also, not to mention that greening up your holidays reconnects you with the Earth, makes you grateful for what you have, and what better way is there to recognize this than to make sure your celebration doesn't impact the Earth in a negative way! Being green conscious will also send a great message to the younger generation at our celebrations who will then be able to incorporate these great tips into their future celebrations with their families.

Also, the authors have started a website dedicated to Greening up your Halloween! Perfect timing!

Thanks for the tip Eco Libris! As always, keep 'em comin!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Nice one Charlie Christ: FL Voters, vote YES on Amendment 4!

Governor Charlie Christ, Governor of Florida, has endorsed Amendment 4 which will help in the conservation of all environmental refuges in Florida. A 60% vote of yes will ensure that the following will happen:

This is especially important because the Everglades National Park is deteriorating very rapidly and the State does not have enough money to really preserve it properly. This is resulting in the animal life and some rare plant life also becoming extinct. Click here for additional info on the Everglades deterioration. Having a tax break for all preserved land would help with the expense of upkeeping the natural beauty of Florida's Everglades Park.

I grew up in Florida and would often visit the Everglades with my science class or to go on air boat rides and visit the Miccosukee Indian Tribe reservation. The Everglades is one of the biggest national parks in the country and seeing it disappear would really diminish the quality of life for Floridians.

Follow Gov. Charlie Christ's lead and vote YES on Amendment 4. Do it for the animals!

Green Drinks

So I just recently learned about this excellent networking event where you can mingle with like minded environment lovers. They are held all over the world and are called "Green Drinks". This is an excellent way to meet people who work for environmental non-profits, have green careers or just plain love recycling! The next one in NYC is November 11th and you bet your sustainable-loving self that I will be there with bells on!! Click the link below to get to the Green Drinks homepage:

Monday, October 27, 2008

I'm Back!

I'm back after taking a week off from life to attend the CMJ Music Conference last week, in NYC. It was pretty fun and I learned lots of great info.

I will be back to blogging 3-5 times per week tomorrow, so please keep checking back. Also, I went to a FANTASTIC seminar on Green Careers on Saturday. I have a lot of excellent information to share if greening up your career is something that you are interested in.

Stay tuned...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Organic Shmorganic

We have all heard about the health benefits of buying food that is organic. We know that ingesting pesticides are bad for us, but we still don't make buying organic a priority. Why? Well some people tell me that the cost is prohibitively expensive. That if they bought everything organic, their grocery bill may jump up by $30 or more per week.

Well, if you have to prioritize what foods to buy organic, use this great tool created by the Environmental Working Group. You can print out the below from their website (click the image) so that you can see which foods are rated the highest and lowest in pesticide retention. The idea being that some fruits & veggies are more porous or their fuzz will now allow you to clean them fully, removing all of the bad stuff.

You can keep this conveniently sized organic "how to" in your wallet and the next time you are doing your food shopping, refer to it to do something good for your body!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bike Stop NYC

Hello Fellow Cyclists!!

Please click the above logo to fill out a survey I created to help gather information for a start up business I am currently a part of. We are trying to collect data about people who cycle in NYC.

George Soros on Green Investing

Here is an interview with George Soros discussing how the business of green could serve as the new "motor of the world economy"

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Vegetarian Awareness Month!!

Try to say that 5 times fast!! So October is Vegetarian Awareness Month and I thought I'd blog about it because I am a vegetarian. I became a vegetarian about 9 months ago first cutting out red meats and then chicken and lastly, fish. I still sometimes eat fish but I try not to eat it too much. I have found the most difficult food to cut out, weirdly, to be cured meats. Not that I eat so much proscuitto or sopressata but it is just SO YUMMY! I still find that once in a great while, I will induldge with a bite or two.

In honor of vegetarians everywhere, here are some great reasons to eat meat-free:

• Reduction of the risk of major killers like heart disease, stroke and cancers while cutting exposure to food-borne pathogens.
• Offers a viable answer to feeding the world’s hungry, through more efficient use of grains and other crops.
• Saves animals from suffering in
factory farm conditions and from painful slaughter.
• Conservation of vital, but limited freshwater, fertile topsoil and other precious resources.
• Preservation of irreplaceable ecosystems, such as rain forests and other wildlife habitats.
• Mitigation of the ever-expanding environmental pollution of animal agriculture.

Here is an INCREDIBLE vegetarian recipe that I learned last week at the Martha Stewart show. Just watching her prepare it made me hungry for lunch at 10:00am. October is the perfect excuse to put my kitchen skills to work and cook this yummy dish!


Serves 4.

  1. Slice a very thin layer from the base of each bell pepper so they sit flat. Slice off tops just below stem. Discard stems; chop tops, and place in a medium bowl. Remove ribs and seeds from peppers.
  2. To bowl, add beans, feta, couscous, scallion whites, garlic, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Stuff peppers with bean mixture; place upright in slow cooker. Cover; cook on high, 4 hours.
  3. Sprinkle peppers with scallion greens; serve with lemon wedges.
How easy/yummy does that sound? You can get loads of other great vegetarian recipes at Martha Stewart's Everyday Food Website and also at Care 2 Make A Difference.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Who Woulda Thought?

So, part of me writing this blog is learning how to approach everyday life tasks in a more green way. Today's topic is washing your car. Now, this is something that I won't have to worry about as long as I live in New York City, but I remember the days when I was a kid washing my parents car in the driveway and letting the water just run...and run....and run from the hose, down the driveway into the road/sewer drains.

If someone would have told me then that washing the cars at home can use between 80-140 gallons of water for each car and the commercial car wash alternative only used 45 gallons, I definitely would have chosen the latter.

BUT, it gets BETTER! I found this great article on how to wash your car WATERLESS! No excuses! We can all do this one!! Check it out. They pose some great questions for us to ponder:

I guess we are not off the hook so easily, because even 45 gallons of water to wash one car seems like a waste of this precious resource, especially because that 45 gallons is becoming highly polluted. Besides, how many car washes do you know that use a “green” detergent? The story gets even worse if you choose the waxing option. And how much energy does it take to wash one car? Some in the industry are making strides in using sustainable energy, but such places are still hard to find.
It also goes on to describe how fund raiser car washes can be "green". Give your local high schools an extra challenge and raise awareness about water conservation while raising money for their band trip, or whatever their cause may be.

You can also follow their easy recipe using everyday products to make your own non-abrasive concoction.
Winging It Waterless Car Wash
½ to 1½ cup baking soda (non-abrasive cleanser)
½ teaspoon jojoba (liquid wax)
½ teaspoon liquid castile soap or vegetable-based green detergent
2 teaspoons water
Or, purchase one of these no-water-car-cleaners for your home. Next time your car is looking dingy, make sure to take the water conservation route and help save the environment WHILE cleaning your pimp mobile.

Click the pictures below to find out more info about the products:

Thursday, October 9, 2008

ABC won't air this ad!

ABC recently refused to run We Can Solve The Climate Crisis's "Repower America" ad, even though they run ads from oil companies that mislead the American people about the role fossil fuels play in the climate crisis.

Watch the ad and then sign the petition!

Monday, October 6, 2008

My TV Debut!!!

Hello Fellow Greenies!!

I am very pleased to announce that on Wednesday, October 8th, I am going to be on the Martha Stewart Show with my book club. We call ourselves the Health and Happiness Club because we read books focused on personal growth and education. We are a very diverse group who have passions for all different things and the best part about interacting with such an eclectic group is learning from each of them!

We have set up a website: Click here

I do a guest blog for this site a couple times a week, usually tied in to the topic of my Advocate of Green blog.

We are scheduled to be on at the very end for a couple of minutes. I am not sure that I am going to be able to give my greenies a shout out but I will try!!

Thanks for the dedicated reading!

Friday, October 3, 2008

For All of My California Readers:

Man, I'm on fire today! Two posts in one day....maybe I'll make it a record three?!?! Can you stand the excitement?

I saw this cute cartoon with a serious message. For all of my Cali readers: Vote Yes on Prop 2 and give animals that we eat better conditions to live in. It has been said that animals who live a calmer more natural life before slaughter have healthier meat.

And really, isn't it just the right thing to do?

What is Your Candidate's Stance on the Environment?

The Sierra Club launched a new website called CandidAnswers2008 which tracks candidates from every state, how they voted on previous bills regarding the environment and their answers to a questionnaire on the following topics: Global Warming, Renewable Energy, Nuclear Power, Transportation and Fuel Efficiency. Best of all, you can find out if your candidates even bothered to answer the questionnaire, and if they didn't you have the option to send them an email telling them how you feel about their inaction.

We must make the environment a priority. Altering our way of lives, slightly, now, will mean that future generations won't have to alter theirs dramatically in order to survive.

Click here to visit the website:

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Odd Cuties!

Web-Ecoist did an article on some of the strangest endangered animals and some of the were too cute to not blog about. Most of these animals are endangered purely because of the destruction we are doing to our own Earth via deforestation and global warming. If you want to support causes dedicated to stopping deforestation visit the Sierra Club website . If you want to see the full list of these amazing animals go here.

My favorites rare cuties are:

Bumblebee Bat

Winning the cutest. bat. ever. award is the Bumblebee bat, which at its largest measures 1 inch. These tiny mammals hover like hummingbirds and like all bats prefer caves and love feasting on insects. They can easily perch on the tip of your thumb. This tiny bat dwells in Thailand and is considered one of the 12 most endangered species. There are fewer than 200 remaining.

Monito Del Monte

The “little mountain monkey” of South America is not a monkey, but rather a marsupial, thought to have arrived from Australia long ago. It’s tiny - only about 5″ full grown. They are nocturnal and carnivorous, and famous (well, among scientists) for their unusual tail, which can store enough fat to make this little pipsqueak double in size. This allows them to go for long periods without food. Sadly, the always-prepared monito del monte is in danger of extinction.

Duck-Billed Platypus

It’s venomous. It’s got a duck’s bill, and otter’s feet and a mammal’s body. Oh, and it lays eggs. No wonder Western naturalists were confused by the platypus when it was first introduced. The platypus, along with the echidna, is a monotreme (egg-laying mammal). It’s native to Australia and Tasmania where it was hunted to near-extinction during the 1800s for its fur, but has been protected since the turn of the 20th century. Thought officially a protected species, the platypus is at risk because of poaching.

Spring Hare

The bizarre spring hare had taxonomists scratching their heads for years. It’s been classified with jerboas (jumping rodents), squirrels and even porcupines. It’s now classified on its own, and it resembles both a kangaroo and hare. It has specialized short limbs with claws for digging as well as flexible ear flaps that can be used to seal off the ear canal to protect against the elements and debris. It’s also got a funny resting position that looks a lot like the yoga Dolphin post: it stretches its long hind legs forward and then rests its head and arms directly on the ground

The Kiwi

Everyone knows the beloved endangered kiwi is a flightless bird. As if to make up for its winged impotence, the kiwi is actually a violent, temperamental little bird. But its quirks don’t stop there. The only bird with whiskers is also distinctly dog-like in its ability to sniff out food and threats. In fact, it has the most highly developed sense of smell of any bird, lifting its “nose” (beak) into the breeze to determine its surroundings, just like a dog would. That’s probably because kiwis are also the only bird to have prominent nostrils. Contrary to popular belief, the kiwi does have wings, but they are tiny and difficult to detect under the loose, fluffy, hair-like feathers. The kiwi has many other unusual characteristics: the eggs are relatively huge, being one-fifth the bird’s weight; kiwi pairs mate for life - as long as 30 years - but tend to have feisty relationships; the females are larger and more dominant than the males. In fact, daddy kiwis incubate the young while mom hunts - for an unheard-of 80 days, no less. Did you know that kiwis are the smallest ratites on earth? Other ratites include ostrich and emu.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

GO VOTE!!! The Environment Needs You!

You can register to vote online. Literally, it will take you 5 minutes. You have to do it with in the next couple of days, for just about every state. Visit Declare Yourself or Rock the Vote to register online.

Just do it already! The polar bears need you!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

This is very egg-citing!!

Thanks to a great neighborly recommendation, I have recently been checking out a website called The Eat Well Guide. They compile great information so that you can be an informed food consumer. It is difficult to know what the real deal is with all of these labels that we see in our local grocery. It seems that everything now is labeled "sustainable" or "environmentally- friendly" or "organic" or a million other things. What do these labels mean? Is there any truth to them? and will we be healthier for adhering to them?

Well, the truth is there are a lot of labels so use this guide to help become educate yourself. There are certain labels that are regulated and certain that aren't: know which are and aren't so you can make the right choices for you and your family. I have spoken to many nutritionists on the subject of organic and every one of them tells me that eating foods labeled organic is essential to healthy living. Get those chemicals out of our bodies!!

Here is a blurb about what the Eat Well Guide is all about:

The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of thousands of family farms, restaurants, markets and other outlets of fresh, locally-grown food throughout the United States and Canada. Visitors simply enter a zip or postal code to find good food and create free printable booklets. Originally a database of sustainably-raised meat, poultry, eggs and dairy, Eat Well Guide listings have expanded over the years to include farmers' markets, CSA programs, local advocacy organizations, and vegetarian/vegan restaurants. Many listings are also accompanied by water conscious ratings.

Here are some great things to look for when buying you can chuckle a little because of my hilarious, clever title:

Cage Free:

Cage Free simply means that egg-laying hens are not confined to battery cages (67 square inches of space) where they are denied their natural behaviors such as perching, spreading their wings and nesting. However, birds can also be called cage-free without ever being outdoors or “on pasture”. The USDA does not regulate this label. “Cage Free” must be differentiated from “Free Range”, a term that is defined by the USDA and used for poultry (chickens raised for consumption rather than egg-laying).

All Natural:

The “all natural” label, although quite popular, is not regulated by the US government or verified by third party inspectors. The Food Safety and Inspection Service of the USDA states that “natural” is defined by a product “containing no artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed (a process which does not fundamentally alter the raw product)” and it must explain the use of the term by stating on its label phrases such as “no added colorings or artificial ingredients”, etc.

No Antibiotics or Hormones Administered:

These labels are defined by the USDA, but only for poultry, pork, beef and red meat, not eggs. Consequently there are no controlled guidelines or verification by third party inspectors.

Omega-3 of 225mg in Each Egg:

With the increasing awareness of the nutrient value of Omega-3 fatty acids, an increasing number of egg cartons contain this label. Most often it means that the hens were given a diet rich in flax seed – a good source of this fat. DHA, a type of Omega-3 fatty acid is also labeled similarly.

Vegetarian Fed/Organic Vegetarian Feed:

Again, this label is not defined by the USDA. Vegetarian fed simply means that the hens were given a diet containing no animal by-products. Grains (e.g. corn, wheat), silage, hay and similar vegetarian feed is common. Vegetarian fed does not guarantee that antibiotics or pesticides were not used in the production of the feed or that the feed was not genetically modified. Organic vegetarian feed, on the contrary, does.

75 mcg of Folic Acid:

Folate, a vital B vitamin, especially necessary for a healthy pregnancy, is present in eggs (mainly in the yolk). However, similar to the development of Omega-3 eggs, egg producers have opted to enrich eggs with folic acid by supplementing feed. Therefore, instead of the 24 mcg or so of folic acid you may receive from a standard egg, enriched eggs contain three times as much

Go out and get egg-static about buying eggs! (ok, I'll stop.)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Algae into Fuel

The more I read about being green and green related things, the more I become fascinated by alternative fuels. It is incredible what can substitute for traditional oil now and also what technologies are being developed to get us closer to oil independence.

I came across an article on algae and how it is being harvested and the oil is being used as a biofuel. They are saying it is much more efficient that corn, because you don't have to grow it as you would traditional crops. Also, it has been said that growing corn is very harsh on the soil and takes out all nutrients so afterwards, to grow anything on that soil is impossible.

Algae is made up of up to 70% oil, is completely renewable and photo-synthesizes a lot of Carbon. Could Algae be the savior to our dependence on foreign oil and cleaning up our atmosphere? Let's hope they discover something soon!!

Here are some excerpts from this great article:

Algae is the slimy stuff that clouds your home aquarium and gets tangled in your feet in a lake or ocean. It can grow almost everywhere there is water and sunlight, and under the right conditions it can double its volume within hours. Scientists and industrialists agree that the potential is huge.

"This is the ultimate fast-growing organism," says Peter van den Dorpel, chief operating officer of AlgaeLink, which makes bioreactors for speeding reproduction. "Algae is lazy. It eats carbon dioxide and produces oxygen." It has no roots, no leaves, no shoots. "It grows so fast because it has nothing else to do. It just swims in the water."

Farming algae doesn't require much space or good cropland, so it avoids the fuel-for-food dilemma that has plagued first and second generation biofuels like corn, rapeseed and palm oil.

It can grow in fresh water, polluted water, sea water or farm runoff. It can purify a city's sewage while feeding on the nitrogen and phosphates in human waste.

And it is rich in oil. The most common types farmed today have an oil content of 30 percent, and it can go up to 70 percent or more.

It also consumes nearly twice its weight in carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas that is discharged by vehicles, power plants and many heavy industries and which scientists say is causing climate change.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Science is So Cool: Plastic-Eating-Bacteria Edition

So we all know by now, plastic sucks. It leaches causing all sorts of weird diseases including obesity, is taking over the Pacific Ocean, is thrown away more than 60 million times a day filling up our landfills....need I go on? ( I can, on this subject. Possibly for days!)

So, what's a brilliant, problem-solving scientist to do? Figure out how a bacteria, who's preferred snack of choice is already plastic, to gobble it up faster while producing a bi product that can be used to make recycled plastics. I mean serioulsy! How cool is THAT?!?!

Here's the real info:

...scientists around the world are working on ways to enlist bacterial help in
green technology. A crew from University College Dublin in Ireland has devised a
way to put bacteria to use in recycling plastic into better quality versions
than the lowly PET we're used to.

...Using a different approach, New Zealander Matthew Darby made the mother of all toasty machines to recycle previously-unrecyclable plastic.

One of the big problems with plastic recycling is that the end result is polyethylene terephthalate--a fairly low-grade plastic that isn't as desired as polyhydroxyalkanoate or PHA...But PHA is expensive to make. Microbiologist Kevin O’Connor and his team came up with a process...that heated PET to break it down into a gas, a liquid, and a solid. From there, they grabbed some Pseudomonas putida (the bacteria) which were partial to the plastic at a local bottling plant in Dublin. Sure enough, the bacteria took a liking to O'Connor's snack and turned the solid--terephthalic acid--into PHA. The other byproducts will be burned as a heat source to make more of the stuff. While it won't outright solve our plastic problems, this
process should encourage more recycling and open up new markets.
Some people are just geniuses...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cow Power

This isn't the first time I have heard of converting cow manure to electricity but since it was in the New York Times yesterday, I am pleased to see it must be catching on. What sort of genius came up with this idea? Seriously, turning cow poop in to electricity has so many positive environmental effects:

  1. Reduces the amount of methane (cow's 'gas') in the air (top contributor to ozone layer depletion)
  2. Provides sustainable energy to homes while generating another source of revenue for farms
  3. When the poop is separated, the solid matter serves as bedding for the cows (RECYCLING!)
This is seriously thinking outside the box! If we can power houses on cow poop, the possibilities are endless!!

While this has not caught on to the dairy farm masses, this practice has been around since 2005. Here are some of the best excerpts from the New York Times article:
The Rowells’ cows live in a barn where a mechanical scraper sweeps the animals’ waste into a large drain. The waste is then pumped into a huge sealed concrete tank known as a digester, which holds 21 days’ worth of waste and is kept at a temperature of 101 degrees Fahrenheit. Anaerobic bacteria break down the organic matter in the waste, producing a mix of methane and other gases, known as bio-gas. The gas is burned in an engine that runs an electrical generator.

The cow waste produces 250 to 300 kilowatts of electricity daily, enough to power 300 to 350 homes, according to the utility.

“We’re making a resource out of a waste stream,” said Bill Rowell, who is running for the State Senate

“We’re saving money by not using sawdust, reducing original waste by recycling and generating revenue by selling electricity into the grid,” Ms. Audet said.

This is seriously innovative and extremely cool. If dairy farmers can figure out ways of turning poop to gold and do their part for the environment in the process, we can all reevaluate our lives to make the small changes. A local shop owner, who gets her electricity from the cow poop said it best:

“It’s worth it to us to spend that money to help the producers and use power that helps sustain the environment,” Ms. Hatch said. “When you live in a place like we do, which is a beautiful part of the country, you’re really aware of the environment and want to keep it that way."
Here's a great link to a photo slide show of this process that I found on Flickr:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Solar Power For All!

MIT engineers have come up with an unbelievable invention. This is one that could revolutionize solar power and make it affordable and accessible to all. What it is, is a transparent dye that coats windows, absorbs the energy emitted from sunlight and somehow magically powers your house. The official explanation is much more detailed than mine:

The scientists coated glass sheets in organic dyes to concentrate the sunlight that hit the panels. The dyes collected the sunlight and carried the light to the edges of the panel much like fiber-optic cable.

Solar cells located on the edges of the panels then transforms the sunlight into electricity.

"It consists of just a piece of glass with a layer of paint on top of it," said Marc Baldo, MIT electrical engineering professor and lead researcher on the solar panels.

"The idea is the light comes in and hits the paint. The paint then bounces the light out to the edges of the glass. All you need is the solar cells on the edges. So we think we can use this to reduce the cost of solar electricity," he added

Here's the graphical depiction of the process:

Friday, September 19, 2008

Eco-Friendly To Go!

Our little local Latin Bistro is awesome. It is called Pan Latin and the food that they sell is organic and fair trade. Everything is always extremely fresh and they are always trying to find ways to be more green. Their coffee cups and plastic cups are all made from recycled materials and they discovered how to be even greener:

What happens is you order a delivery, they deliver it in these handy metal containers and then you leave it downstairs with your doorman for them to pick up when you are done. E-Z!!!

Nice thinking outside of the box Pan Latin! You will always be my go to for anything yummy and green!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Eco-Libris Update: Children's Contest for Green Writing

I just got an email from Eco-Libris announcing a fantastic way to get your kid's involved in being green. Check it out:

I'm happy to update you on a new collaboration of Eco-Libris with Simon and
Schuster Children's Publishing.

In a celebration of their new line of eco-friendly children’s books, Little
Green Books, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing has partnered with
Eco-Libris in an educational contest - I CAN SAVE THE EARTH!, which provides
children an opportunity to share their personal green stories and ideas.

Beginning today (Sept 16), Children between the ages of 5-10 are invited to
write about their own experiences and ideas in helping to save planet Earth.
Stories can be submitted via a downloadable entry form at until December 1, 2008. Any story goes and
the greener the better! Prizes include free copies of the new Little Green Books
and trees that will be planted in developing countries by Eco-Libris on the
winning children’s behalf.

The contest celebrates the Fall 2008 launch of Little Green Books,
published by Little Simon, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s
Publishing. It is the first eco-friendly line of children’s novelty and
storybooks, aimed at parents and children looking to learn more about the
environment. All the Little Green Books are made out of recycled materials.

Click here for the contest web page

Thanks for the update Eco Libris!! Keep 'em coming!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

BPA Update!

The best of all reasons to drink tap vs. bottled water was confirmed today by the Journal of the American Medical Association. They found evidence in the first ever study on humans and how the chemical bisphenol A, found in hard plastics (water bottles, liners for tin cans, baby bottles, etc) affects our health.

Adults exposed to higher amounts of the plastic compound bisphenol A are more
likely to be afflicted by cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, and have
liver enzyme abnormalities...

BPA is a chemical able to mimic the female hormone estrogen that leaches from polycarbonate plastic water bottles, the lacquers inside tin cans and dental sealants.

The new health findings raise the intriguing possibility that many cases of heart disease and adult onset diabetes in recent decades may be due to inadvertent exposures to a biologically active chemical, and not to the commonly credited lifestyle
factors, such as a lack of exercise, or having a high fat, sugary diet.

Could this be one of the causes of the obesity epidemic? Researchers say it is a possility. This information was released to coincide with a U.S. Food and Drug Administration scientific advisory hearing Tuesday on the use of BPA in products that make contact with food. Of course the FDA concluded that the findings in this study aren't cause for alarm and aren't in large enough quantities to adversely affect someone's health...

Meanwhile, in Canada they are considering adding BPA to the countries list of toxic chemicals.

Once again, the FDA hits a homer!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Louis Palmer's Solar Taxi

Friday night I attended an unbelievable lecture by Louis Palmer, inventor and driver of the world's first Solar Taxi ( Louis is a substitute teacher from Switzerland who loves traveling and being exposed to other cultures. When he was about 15 years old, he drew a picture of a car that could run on solar energy. As he began noticing the rapid deterioration of the world around him, he decided to build that solar car and drive around the world in it educating everyone he encounters about the power of harnessing the sun's energy. Louis has been driving for 14 months and his total trip will be 18 months long and will cover 40 different countries. Here is a photo of the Solar Taxi (he calls it a taxi because he gives anyone who wants one, a ride):

As you can see, Louis has a giant trailer that follows him wherever he goes. He uses that mostly as a tool to educate people about solar energy. When he is driving his car around Switzerland he doesn't attach the trailer and can still get 60 miles without recharging. With the trailer, he can get up to 200 miles per day and the car goes up to 55 miles per hour. Louis has met all kinds of interesting people including the Secretary General of the UN Ban Ki-moon. Be sure to check out his website and read about his experiences while traveling all over the world. His adventure is truly amazing!

Here is his mission statement:

On 3 July 2007 I set off on my first journey around the world with a solar powered vehicle. Admittedly, as a regular citizen I cannot change the world but I can demonstrate to the world just how dire the global climate situation has become and how many sophisticated solutions to lower the greenhouse gases already exist, which bring with them many other advantages. So that we can have a better world and a more secure future. The solar taxi should rekindle hope and a zest for life, set an example to counteract resignation and stimulate reflection. And show that every single one of us can take a step towards preserving our planet.

Global warming can be stopped. Solutions are available.

Here are some of his energy facts:

For billions of years, plants have processed the CO2 that comes from volcanoes, forest fires and other sources, thus making life on earth possible. These carbons lie under the earth in the form of crude oil, natural gas and coal. Right now, mankind is set on emitting most of this CO2 into the atmosphere within only a century. Here are a few figures on current worldwide production:

  • 4,874,940,000 tons of crude oil are used each year. With constant extraction, the resources will be exhausted in 41 years.
  • 2,689,000,000 m³ of natural gas are extracted each year. With constant extraction, the gas will be exhausted in 65 years.
  • About 4,000,000,000 tons coal are used for producing 40% of the worldwide power requirement. The coal ressources will be exhausted in 230 years.

Shall we wait until everything is gone and the climate has been destroyed? Or is it possible to create a world in which renewable energies make a future worth live in? 75% of the world's CO2 emission could be avoided by using solar energy.

These energy facts are astounding. It is no longer about the debate of "should we drill off the coast of the US or in ANWR" but about "this can't go on...lets figure out the alternative NOW!"

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tank Tales!

My friend Maya Lilly and I have been friends since we are 15. Our birthdays are the same day, my middle name is Maya and that's her first name (duh!) and we have always had similar interests. When I found out that she drives a bad-ass truck that runs on Vegetable Oil, I just had to get more info. Below is a really cute cartoon that was drawn to depict her bad-assness/environmental love and some questions I had to get answers to. I am also going to do a follow-up post with answers for any questions you all have so please leave them in the comments section!

Also, I have a link to Maya's website under the "Excellent Links" section to the right. She's an amazing actor/writer/performer so make sure to catch her show "Mixed" if you can!

Here it goes:

1) What kind of car do you drive?

Chevy Blazer K-5 military edition truck. It was on a military base most of its life, and has a touchscreen police laptop, three long-wave and short-wave radios, a PA system on the roof, and 4-wheel drive. It also has USMC emblazoned in Army print letters on the front, over the camouflage paint job.

2) what alterations did you have to make to it to be compatible with Biodiesel? How much did the alterations cost?

You can actually do this for FREE if you have a working knowledge of engines. Just buy From the Fryer to the Fuel Tank, and Joshua Tickell talks you through it. Or, you can find an operation outfitting veggie oil vehicles. Keep in mind that running your car on Straight Vegetable Oil (SVO) is different than biodiesel... it's two different processes. Making biodiesel requires NO ALTERATION OF A DIESEL ENGINE. (In fact, Rudolph Diesel designed his engine to run on peanut oil before he mysteriously *disappeared*) Straight veggie oil requires adding a heater in the engine (glowplugs) to warm up the veggie oil slightly when turning on the engine. I did my conversion through Lovecraft biofuels and it cost me $1000. For never paying for gasoline again, this paid for itself in a few months. *Note: Unfortunately, Lovecraft in LA is currently undergoing a massive lawsuit, as Brian Friedman's company was taken over in a completely illegal way by Tacee Webb. I can't recommend them at this time. They also refuse to take my cartoon down from their website, and are using it illegally. Boycott Lovecraft!

3) What is biodiesel and what do you have to do to get it?

Well, I can run my truck on SVO, biodiesel, or diesel... and can mix them in any quantity. I don't use biodiesel as often, as it requires a chemical conversion process to mimic the makeup of Diesel fuel, and takes a bit more time. I instead converted my engine so my truck can just run on Vegetable Oil. I use waste oil that I pick up every two weeks from a high-end Sushi restaurant in Japan Town, Los Angeles. We have an arrangement, and I've been picking up from them for about 3 years now. They have to pay to have the oil taken away, so I pick it up for free and they love it. Everybody wins. And I dispose of it in my truck. The utterly stupid controversy over using biodiesel (or ethanol, for that matter) completely neglects to mention all the WASTE oil in this country going unused. It could cover a whole fleet of trucks and tractors. It's like a man bitching about how to bail out a ship while its sinking... you just do WHATEVER YOU CAN!!!

4) How many miles to the gallon do you get?

Veggie oil is actually better for your engine than diesel, as it lubricates the parts and cleans all the gunk out (like WD-40). I get about the same mileage as I did on diesel. With my big truck, that's about 23 in town. The mileage doesn't change... the only people that worry mileage are the people spewing C02 into the atmosphere. The best part, though, is that my emissions are completely carbon neutral. To me, Hybrids have always been half-assed. I don't want to participate in global warming. At. All.

5) How often do you have to fill up? Can you go on long car rides?

I have my own veggie filter/fueling station in my backyard, and its really clean and efficient. When I go on long car rides, I usually just filter a little extra veggie to take with me, and research where the biodiesel stations are along the way. It's a teeny bit extra work, but I was never in this because of high gas prices. (I think it's GREAT that gas prices are high, by the way. It's encouraging everyone to do things differently, as well as showing the true cost of gasoline to the ecosphere!!!) I don't want to contribute to the end of the human species and life on earth at our own hands, and scientists are all confirming what we already know in our hearts. Things need to change, and it's worth a little extra effort.