Easy and fun things to help the environment

Humorous Reflections on Fun Incremental Change.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Have we started a fire?

Jan 26th, 2012 by Vince Curran
Well, for Christmas this year, Amazon posted some pretty impressive sales numbers, especially on their very popular Kindle.  In the month of December alone, they sold 4 million Kindles.  Now this is a pretty impressive record and I feel it bodes well for the life of trees.  Especially since the sale of electronic books or e-books has gone up 175% in the last year.  Now if everyone used a Kindle for all of their reading, including books, magazines, catalogs, TV schedules, e-mail and school textbooks, that would represent a significant reduction in paper used to produce books.
Now this is a pretty obvious benefit, but there are some benefits that are not quite so obvious, for example, all of those millions upon millions of books don't have to be shipped from the printer to the distributor to the bookstores.  That may not seem like much, but I think anybody who has ever had to move knows.  What's the heaviest thing that you move when you move.  At least in my case, it's always the boxes and boxes and boxes filled with bookses and bookses and bookses.  And those bad boys are heavy.
For those of you who don't know, standard paper weighs approximately 75 pounds per cubic foot.  That means each box of books you carry when you're moving weighs approximately 75 pounds.  Now, when there's a bestseller, the publisher prints up a whole bunch of hardback editions, each one of these weighing between three and 7 pounds and they ship them all over the country, generally by truck.  That's a lot of weight in a lot of trucks requiring a lot of fuel, and a lot of wear and tear on our streets and highways.  Now, if these books aren't actually printed and can be sent zooming through the cloud, that saves a lot of transportation resources and their related costs.  Not to mention all the trees that don't get cut down to produce these books since most printers use virgin pulp.  In addition to the paper being used, paper mills, create an awful lot of waste products, which won't be produced if we're using e-books.
So, this is a pretty impressive technology and it does just what technology should do, save time, resources and money.  It will be interesting to see how the use of e-books evolves over the next several years.  It will be interesting to see if we can actually change the method in which we consume media.  It will also be interesting to see how much paper is actually saved over the next several years.  And how much fuel for trucks, and all that other good stuff.
Here's a great example of what technology can do.  Train us to do the right thing, which we could have been doing all along by just going to the library.  However, I salute Amazon and Kindle and anyone who uses the Internet and technology to consume the media that we have all become addicted to.  Now, if we could only invent some technology to make us stop wearing fur or wasting water.  Or maybe an app to make us stop eating junk food.  Or a gizmo to make us exercise.  Or a program to make us start acting logically and with common sense.  Or a whizbang to keep us from hating others and starting wars.  They may not be big sellers, but at least we can say we tried something.
Baby Steps...

Colo Environmental Film Fest Preview

Colo Environmental Film Fest Preview
Jan 24th, 2012 by Vince Curran
If the objective of a preview is to get you excited about an event, then, at least for me, mission accomplished.  Friday evening, January 20 at  HYPERLINK "http://www.mercurycafe.com/home.html" the Mercury Café, there was a really cool event to preview the happenings at  HYPERLINK "http://www.ceff.net/" The Colorado Environmental Film Festival coming up this February 23 thru 25.
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The Mercury Cafe
I hadn't been to the Mercury Café in many years, and I was really impressed.  It's a beautiful venue that is perfectly suited to this type of event, and they were gracious hosts.  More than 100 people attended, and they were treated to trailers from 10 of the movies that will be featured at the festival, live comments and stories from the producers and directors of those movies, and original music provided by Gabrielle Louise.  Gabrielle is a terrific performer, who reminded me of Joni Mitchell and Colorado's own Judy Collins.  And her passion for social justice is obvious in her work.  She even treated us to a couple of cover songs from classic and up-and-coming folk artists, because they helped the theme of the trailer she was honoring.  The whole event was emceed by Jonny 5 of the popular Colorado hip-hop group the Flobots, and he did a terrific job.
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the lovely Gabrielle Louise
When I heard the name, “The Colorado Environmental Film Festival”, I assumed it was just a film festival held in Colorado.  Not so.  All of the trailers that we were privileged to view had a serious Colorado connection.  Some were specifically about Colorado issues.  Some were directed or produced by people from Colorado, but all had a connection to our beautiful state, and all of them were fascinating.  I'm looking forward to seeing all of these movies, I'm just wondering how I'm going to budget my time to watch 53 movies
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Robbie Knight, Danette Dacey Bohl,  ‎Alison Kapsalis and Vince Curran
If you care about Colorado, or the environment, or anything really, I encourage you to come and watch these movies and support all the people who are working on these issues.  That's the way movements start, by starting.  See you there!


Jan 18th, 2012 by Vince Curran
I know, it seems counter-intuitive, but using a dishwasher actually saves energy and therefore, money. Especially if you fill that bad boy up. Newer models use only about five gallons of water, and if you get an eco-friendly soap, that's a whole lot less energy and water than I use in my tiny little place (with no dishwasher). I like to think that I'm pretty careful when washing my dishes, but, first of all, my sink is only so big, and it won't store many dishes, so rather than doing the dishes every 2 or 3 days, I'm forced to wash them every day.
Secondly, the only control of heat I have is the water boiling furnace/tank thing, which is set on "Flay".
So, I wash. if the skin doesn't completely come off my hands, I can stack washed plates in the second sink. Then, I turn on the icy-Colorado-mountain-stream-cold water to rise. It's difficult to turn the water off and on, off and on, so I usually let it run while rinsing. Conserve as I might, I doubt I can keep my comsumption down to 5 gallons.
So get a good Energy-Star dishwasher. Here's one case where technology has out-paced your humble narrator.
Party on, Garth!

ZPG bees.

Jan 12th, 2012 by Vince Curran
Okay, here's my confession.  Well, it's not really my confession, but my parents’.  My parents, like most Irish Catholic parents, or any kind of American Christian parents, had a large family.  In my family.  There were seven kids.  And that was only one set of twins.  In the grand scheme of things.  Having kids, or at least having a lot of kids, is one of the worst ecological disasters, you can inflict on our planet.  And inflict we did.  I was the first in 1955.  I can say with a certain amount of pride, even though it wasn't up to me, or my parents, we didn't use any disposable diapers.  The primary reason is they didn't exist yet.  Back in those days, you used cloth diapers, and usually contracted a diaper service.  Ours was “Tidy-Didy Diaper Service”, and the driver who came to our house to pick up the diapers and deliver the clean ones, actually wore a Pith-Helmet.  No kidding!  A Pith helmet.  How funny is that?

So, at least for the first five of us born between 1955 in 1961, we didn't use any disposable diapers, a huge ecological problem.  The other thing about children is they tend to become the same type of consumers their parents were.  If the parents are huge meat eaters, the kids probably will be too.  If the parents needed new clothes every week, guess what?  If the parents drive huge cars, the kids probably will too.  If the family had a huge Kentucky bluegrass lawn, that tradition will probably be carried on over and over and over.  The best thing you can do for the planet is to reduce, reuse, recycle.

Reduce the number of kids you have.  Please!

Reuse.  Okay, I know this is using the word little out of context, but there are plenty of children around the world who are already born, and need a home with loving parents.  Adopt!
This is sort of Recycle also, granted, not in the traditional sense.

I have to say, that our family, my siblings and I, have worked to try to balance out the population growth caused by my parents.  My wife and I both decided we wouldn't have any children.  My sister has two daughters, both adopted.  My next brother, no children.  The next two, the twins, have five children between them.  And finally, no children from my last two brothers, either.  A net gain of new people on this planet, minus two.  Not bad for an Irish Catholic family, huh?

Baby Steps...

(originally appeared in Denver Green Streets.com Jan 12th, 2012 by Vince Curran

E P, Eh?

Jan 19th, 2012 by Vince Curran
It seems that ALL of the Republican candidates think that the EVIL EPA is one of the main things bringing down our country. This is the agency that tries to assure you don't have mercury, motor oil or detergent in your drinking water. These are things that I, with my limited scientific knowledge, support. Plus, I like the taste of non-motor oil water.
As I understand it, this is also the agency that stops corporations from dumping all of their bi-products into rivers and streams and the ocean and your driveway. Another thing that I support. I don't want animal carcasses or pig-sh*t or mining slag or asbestos in my local swimmin' hole. It tends to then get into your and your loved-one's local holes. Not a good thing, in my mind.
This is also the agency tasked with making sure that these same, or perhaps different, corporations don't release all kinds of toxic smokes and gases into the air.
By all accounts, these enforcement activities by the EPA have saved millions of lives over the last 30 years. I suppose an argument can be made that, because of this Life-Saving effort has forced the GOP to create even more jobs. Plus, there's no way of telling if the people that were saved were gay, or poor or Mexican.
Corporations can police themselves, they say. Sure they can! (I'm looking at you BP!!)
If they want to eliminate the EPA (who I don't think go far enough, can you say fracking fluid?), I say that any politician who opposes environmental regulation, volunteers their children into a program where groups of GOP offspring must drink the water and breathe the air and eat the food around these facilities. As they say, they're safe, so there shouldn't be any objection. All these kids can be home-schooled while on their jobs as "Canaries" and they can learn how Jesus invented the Hummer.
What's the worst that could happen? Stopping the GOP gene-pool?