Tuesday, June 30, 2009
If you’re like so many trying to make your lifestyle a little more sustainable and eco-friendly, don’t just stop with your house, but green your garden too! Backyard vegetable gardens have become quite popular, either as a fun family project or even as a way to save a little on the grocery bill. And with “organic” being one of the most popular words in school, what better way to make sure your veggies are 100% organic than growing them yourself! Whether starting the plants from seeds or picking up some starter plants at your local nursery, not only will you have your own personal farmer’s market outside your window in a few months, but nursing the plants and watching them grow is extremely satisfying.
Some people have even found ways to bring the whole spirit of reuse and recycling into the garden, such as building their own raised garden beds out of reclaimed wood, putting their compost soil to good use as a terrific (and organic!) fertilizer, or just being creative in making fun garden ornaments and labels out of reused materials. Others have gone as far as to make entire greenhouses out of recycled materials. One artist, Fraser Koroluk, constructed a beautiful greenhouse out of salvaged windows, doors, and wood, while others have created smaller structures almost entirely out of used plastic bottles. So this summer, go outside, get creative and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty!
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Greening San Francisco is a wiki project created by high school students at The Urban School of San Francisco. It tracks SF environmental progress in 6 major categories: environmental justice, waste reduction, climate change, reducing toxins, alternative fuels, and water use. Definitely more interesting (and useful!) than a book report.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Jacob is the store owner, usually in his truck to make pick-ups and deliveries. He started off selling his own things, but eventually the idea grew to the point of selling other peoples' things. His Australian friend, Clive, is the face of the store while Jacob is out and about. "Around the neighborhood, it's really well known," he says. "Everyone knows the store, everybody comes in 2 or 3 times a week." The inventory is in a constant state of flux; new items come in daily from bed frames and baby cribs to stereos and paintings.
Yes, there are some higher-end items on the menu, as well. How does that go over in a store that's run out of a garage? "We never really price things too highly," Clive explains. "There's nothing worse than having things stuck on the shelves." What that means is that customers get extremely good deals on items that would otherwise be too expensive to even consider.
And the customers, they love it. They only have a few reviews on Yelp, but each one is a rave. "Every time I stop by there's something for me to buy," one says. "This is definitively a place that you should stop by if you are in the neighborhood."
The Garage Store
1104 Sanchez St
(between 24th St & Jersey St)
San Francisco, CA 94114
Reviews: The Garage Store on Yelp
Read the article here and check out photos of what was savlaged below.
Be sure to follow @mattyhick & @homerecycler on Twitter.
A shift toward a greater use of renewable energy sources is commendable and, in terms of humankind’s long term sustainability, the shift is unavoidable. The continued burning of coal and fossil fuels has an expiration date because of these resources’ limited long-term supply, but it is also imprudent because of its contribution to global warming.
It’s frustrating when people oppose the development of alternative energy sources, or take the “not in my backyard” attitude. The current opposition to the wind-farm project set for Campo reservation east of San Diego is a perfect example of this. The amount of power that the 160-megawatt wind farm would generate for San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) would be “enough for 104,000 homes at peak production,” and yet, various locals are quick to complain. The concerns that they have voiced regarding the wind turbines include their ugliness, noisiness, injuries to wildlife, and damage to property values.
To rebut, firstly, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But let’s just give the opposition ugliness, since it is subjective. Secondly, according to the American Wind Energy Association web site, only earlier wind turbine designs were noisy, and the noise “has been largely eliminated as a problem through improved engineering.” Thirdly, the injuries that wind turbines inflict on wildlife are principally to birds and bats, but “no matter how extensively wind is developed in the future, bird deaths from wind energy are unlikely to ever reach as high as 1% of those from other human-related sources such as hunters, house cats, buildings, and autos,” and “human disturbance of hibernating bats in caves is a far greater threat to species of concern.” Sure, the Renewable Energy Policy Project’s analytical report “The Effect of Wind Development on Local Property Values” showed that wind turbines do not diminish property values, but rather enhance them. Those findings, however, seem pretty unlikely. My common sense tells me that the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ report that “wind farms decrease the value of residential properties where the development is within view” is much more probable. Though I predict that as various renewable energy sources become much more common, the average housing market shopper will be much less affected by solar panels, greywater recycling systems, wind turbines, and the like.
Despite whatever hesitations San Diego residents may have, I urge them to put aside their reservations in the name of sustainability. If nobody is every willing to make even the smallest sacrifice—if one must view the installation of wind turbines as a sacrifice—then we all stand to lose in our society’s future development.
Friday, June 19, 2009
What makes the project unique is the students' concerted effort at material reuse. The panels themselves were salvaged from a defunct "solar park", while previously-used charge controllers, batteries, breaker boxes, and other miscellaneous parts were donated by a local company. For the interior of the dwelling, LED-powered light fixtures are fashioned out of dried gourds (that's right, gourds), radiator fans provide ventilation, and a car stereo (wired to indoor and outdoor speakers) gives life to the party.
This project, along with other examples of sustainable practices can be seen in person at the John T. Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies at Cal Poly Pomona.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
An example of a really outrageous use of deconstruction and recycled materials is the CITY MUSEUM in St. Louis. It is a veritable wonderland of found objects from around the city. They have used all manner of parts and scraps in unbelievably creative ways.
One may find themselves crawling up stories of twisting wire tubes to exit into a salvaged plane or school bus. The museum is just a really excellent example of what you can build out of scrap if you use a little ingenuity and resourcefulness.
From the museum’s website, “Housed in the 600,000 square-foot former International Shoe Company, the museum is an eclectic mixture of children's playground, funhouse, surrealistic pavilion, and architectural marvel made out of unique, found objects. The brainchild of internationally acclaimed artist Bob Cassilly, a classically trained sculptor and serial entrepreneur, the museum opened for visitors in 1997 to the riotous approval of young and old alike.”
Cassilly and his longtime crew of 20 artisans have constructed the museum from the very stuff of the city; and, as a result, it has urban roots deeper than any other institutions.
Reaching no farther than municipal borders for its reclaimed building materials, CITY MUSEUM boasts features such as old chimneys, salvaged bridges, construction cranes, miles of tile, and even two abandoned planes!
"CITY MUSEUM makes you want to know," says Cassilly. "The point is not to learn every fact, but to say, 'Wow, that's wonderful.' And if it's wonderful, it's worth preserving."
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Kevin Surace suggests we rethink basic construction materials -- such as the familiar wallboard -- to reduce the huge carbon footprint generated by the manufacturing and construction of our buildings. He introduces EcoRock, a clean, recyclable and energy-efficient drywall created by his team at Serious Materials.
Monday, June 15, 2009
At DRN we are always asking, “Why fill up our landfills with valuable building materials that could be deconstructed and reused?” One Florida family has answered that question with their newly remodeled home & setting a great example for neighbors. When Claire Sever and Jeff Bunkin first discussed their visions with their contractor, the couple was informed that their house would basically need to be completely torn down for their vision to come to like. Since the intended renovation was so extensive and involved a huge amount of structural changes it would cost less to do a complete tear down and rebuild from scratch. Following their contractor’s advice, Sever and Bunkin made the big decision to tear down their home, but made an even larger decision to do it as green as possible. Sever and Bunkin next hired a local company near their Florida home to come and remove and recycle every single building material and supply that could be reused by either them or somebody else.
The materials to be reused included everything from light fixtures and doors to wiring and even the stone around the fireplace. They were also able to get their outdoor porch and concrete slab from their backyard patio deconstructed. All the materials were removed by deconstruction to get a second chance at life so they wouldn’t end up adding to the 130 million tons of construction debris that annually overload our landfills. What’s super neat about Sever and Bunkin’s remodeling project is the fact that they found some cool, new ways to reuse old materials. Their old custom cabinets were creatively transformed to be used as doorway trim and floor moldings. Since Sever and Bunkin didn’t reuse all the deconstructed materials for themselves, they passed along the rest to a local reuse store. What’s pretty cool is the fact that it was that very reuse store where the family bought all of their flooring for their bedrooms, making their deconstruction efforts come full circle. For those people who may be curious about how deconstruction and remodeling a green house is not only beneficial to the environment but fulfilling for homeowners who choose to do it, contact us and be sure to share Sever & Bunkin’s story.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Posted by Gregory Sanford (DRN Intern)
One of the easiest ways to reduce your impact on the environment is to make a small change in a daily or weekly activity. Take a moment to think about how many times you visit the grocery store in a year. Now consider how many bags you use each time you visit the grocery store. When you think about this number it should become clear that it is no small figure. The average American family uses over 900 grocery bags per year. Thankfully there is a solution, reusable grocery bags.
Many grocery stores in California and throughout the United States are beginning to take action and promote the use of reusable grocery bags. Chains such as Ralph’s and Vons sell the bags in their stores, and some locations have incentives programs in place for customers that use them. At Ralph’s, the cost of one reusable bag is 99 cents, a small price to pay for such a long-term environmental benefit. Whole Foods, a chain that operates 270 markets across the state, first started the reusable bag movement by becoming the first U.S. grocer to halt the use of plastic bags in all of their stores last earth day. Whole foods decision opened the eyes of many of its customers to the negative effects of disposable grocery bags.
Many citizens are unaware of the detrimental effects of plastic grocery bags on the environment. A Wall Street Journal Report indicates that only 1% of plastic grocery bags worldwide are recycled each year. Their paper counterparts do not fare much better, as only 20% of paper bags end up being recycled; the rest are dumped into landfills. The average person uses 22,000 plastic bags over their lifetime, causing the size of landfills to increase at an incredible rate. Instead of using a bag one time, why not invest in something durable?
Reusable bags come in all shapes sizes and styles. They are easily washable and take up a small amount of space for storing purposes. Making this small change in your daily life can greatly improve the environment for you and those around you. So next time your in line at the grocery store and your asked, “paper or plastic?” do the earth a favor and tell them you’ve brought your own bags.
For 25 reasons on why to go reusable, visit this site.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Posted by Blake Holt (DRN Intern)
Monday, June 8, 2009
Posted by Lydsy Czapla (DRN Intern)
Do you want to check out some awesome Green videos while at the same time reduce your carbon footprint? If the answer is yes, then you should check out GoGreenTube.com. Go GreenTube.com is an exciting site where all of its content revolves around all things Green. Even though it may sound too specific of content, the site actually contained a huge variety of videos for everyone. By taking just a quick browse around GoGreenTube.com, you will find everything from funny videos, how-to type videos; learn how you can make a difference for our environment, and even see how a house can be made of all recycled items, among numerous others.
Beyond all the neat videos GoGreenTube.com has to offer, by joining the site and viewing their content, you will also be reducing your carbon footprint. This is made possible since GoGreenTube.com has partnered Carbonfund.org, which is one of our nation’s leaders in reducing and offsetting carbon. According to GoGreenTube.com, GoGreenTube.com will offset one pound of carbon dioxide for every green video watched at GoGreenTube.com. In order to earn the credits, viewers may sign up for GoGreenTube.com and every time they log in to watch a green video the community earns one carbon credit. Not only is this site innovative and making a difference, it doesn’t cost a penny to register or watch fascinating videos. If you have some cool green videos that you would like to share with others, just create an account and upload them for all to see.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
You can read more about the green efforts at Rutgers here.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Ever wonder where to go for an organic, locally grown meal in your neighborhood? Curious about the outdoor recreational opportunities in your area? Or perhaps you are going abroad and want to plan out sustainable activities to do while you’re away. Green Map can answer all of these questions and more.
Green Map is an international collaboration of local cartographers creating maps of their community’s “green living, natural, cultural, and civic resources”. Check out the map of your city…and if your area has not yet been mapped, chart out the green territory yourself and contribute to the project.
Monday, June 1, 2009
Green Architecture is no longer relegated to the sidelines. Now, with the support of government through incentives and mandates for green building, the ability to fuse sustainability and the built environment has become a viable option. Building green and retrofitting projects to become green does not just help preserve the environment. The well being of humans is fundamentally tied to the health of the ecological systems that produce our food, water, and fresh air. For too long, people, who on average spend 90% of their time indoors, have dealt with poor indoor ambient air quality from chemically laden paints and carpets. We literally flush our extremely limited supply of fresh water down the toilet while making surfaces impermeable preventing ground water recharge.
Not only does building green make us healthier and help retain our limited supply of resources, it reduces monthly utility charges for the occupants by making processes and products more efficient. This type of structure democratizes the built environment. Healthy people and environments, along with financial security, can become the standard instead of the exception. Visit Flex Your Power to search for incentives and rebates in your area and check out Energy Star for tips on sustainable home improvement, building new homes, and exploring other energy efficient products and practices.