Saturday, August 27, 2011

Three Dangerous Allocation Methods That Aren't Going Away

Feeling guilty I haven't  posted more this summer, here's a quick review of some not-so-pretty things happening these days. These issues are in this post because they are NOT going away if we don't know about them. People are dying and invaluable resources around being compromised, not in Africa or Asia or the Middle East, its happening right here in the U.S

1.) Mountain Top Removal
Coal used to be harmless and an important source of energy- before modern scientific research proved it was actually killing us, that burning it was not nearly as efficient as speculated, and pollutes the environment. It also used to be good for local economies, until companies replaced workers with sticks of dynamite. Mountaintop Removal cancels the need for coal miners by simply blowing off the tops of mountains in areas like West Virginia in the Appalachians. Some more recent speculations include that coal is cheaper than other energy resources, but a closer look at the financial breakdown shows heavy subsidies come from our very own Federal government. That's right, we are actually PAYING for toxic poisons our air and water. It's all corporate coal margin and all sickness for the American people. Sheesh, pretty insane huh? Check out this short clip about  Mountain Top Removal:

Check out the campaigns and websites to take action:

2.) Hydraulic Fracturing
Euphemisms continue to break my heart! Natural gas has been discovered in many rock formations well below the ground throughout the country. The only natural thing about this gas is that it comes from the ground, developing the product we can use as fuel involves a process far less natural than you can imagine. You could also not imagine a super hip and cheap way for us to harvest this gas that is being found trapped in pockets under the earth. Call it Hydro- Fracking, the cool sounding name is irrelevant, this shit is dangerous. Energy companies found these pockets of gas trapped under the ground in place like Upstate New York and Pennsylvania, in a rock formation call the Marsellus Shale. Companys go in and drill into the ground with water and chemicals which split the shale rock and cause the gas to rush UNCONTROLLABLY to the earth surface. There is no controlling where the gas goes, so ground water pollution is immenant. and THEN we have all that run off chemicals that resurface and are left at the drilling sites to further pollute the environment. Seriously, guys, this is frakin' ridiculous:

If you want to learn more and take action:

3.) Drilling for Oil
This one might go away one day when we don't have any oil left to spill. It's call a fossil fuel, just like Coal and Natural Gas, there is a finite amount of oil and an ever-growing human population, you do the math! Let's all recall the most recent BP Oil Spill, let me remind you with a short and witty reenactment  One of the most sad but true Eco-satire i have ever seen, just watch it:

To protect our air and water from more oil disasters:
Start investing in green companies
Don't by gas from well know evil oil companies
Check out The Oil Spill Task Force

Stats from The Daily Green
11 people were missing and presumed dead after the explosion of the tanker
12,00 people in Louisiana filed for unemployment as a direct response to the oil spill ruining their line of work
 2300 square miles of coastal Louisiana marsh and cypress forest has been compromised
 BP's containment cap has caught over 127,000 barrels of oil since the cleanup start.

All in all, this wasn't the first oil spill and if we don't do anything to better regulate big oil,  it won't be the last.

If this topics make you angry, good! Getting clicking and find out what you can do to join the good fight. Thanks for tuning in, please pass this post around like it's your day job. Thanks!

Friday, June 17, 2011

5 Things To Do With Plastic Bags ( Other Than Throw Them Out!)

Take two seconds and look around your house.You're looking for plastic bags, and I doubt you will have much trouble finding any. Under sinks, in closets, dressers, attics, garbage cans, cabinets, refrigerators... I think you might get where I'm going with this. Plastic bags are EVERYWHERE in almost EVERY household! Don't freak out just yet. First, stop picking up unnecessary plastic bags from the grocery store when purchasing items you can carry, or take a reusable bag for the trip. In the mean time, collect all the plastic bags you find around your house and make this stuff!

1.) Plastic bag wallets and reusable shopping bags!

                                                (Making A Seriously Legit Reusable Bag:)

2.) Knee Pads

3.)  Package Liner

4.) Covering your head to retain heat while hair dye soaks in


5.) Hand protection around harmful cleaning products ( which shouldn't be used in the first place, but just in case you "really" can't use something else...)

Got any other cool uses for plastic bags? Let me know!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Frananigans: Sustainability Lessons from Cape Cod

Val and Fran: Living Green!

I've got some pretty impressive friends, it's true. What's even better is when I learn my friends are not only impressive, but practical and brilliant as well! This post is a result of an awesome conversation with two crazy kids up in Massachusetts who live their lives in an EASY, sustainable manner. The advice and tips gained from our talk should be a wake-up call to everyone that thinks greenin' aint easy. 
A few weeks ago some Jersey and PA locals and I visited my friends Val and Fran up at their house in East Sandwich, Cape Cod.Val is a nurse at Cape Cod Hospital and Fran has his own Insulation company. They live minutes from the beach in a secluded area and it's just about the nicest place I've ever been, true story. While I was there I couldn't help but notice a few features around their house, check it out:


Year-Round Homemade Green House

Homemade Rain Barrel 

Various Potted Herbs and Veggies
Best Fridge Signage EVER

Yes to Wind Energy! Appropriately on top of a Thermostat

 Needless to say I cut my vacation short for a impromptu interview to really find out what Fran and Val do around the house and their community to make the world a cleaner place to live. Here's a look at the garden:

1.) What's in there:
Fran and Val grow just about anything that can come out of the ground and tastes good. The list varies from Onions, Parsley, Lettuce, Dill, Potatoes, Beans, Eggplants, Zucchini, Hot Peppers, Green Peppers, Chili Peppers, Heirloom, Garden Peach and Cherry Tomatoes and more! They also have herbs like Cilantro and Rosemary growing on the deck ( see pic above). 

2.) Growing and pest control:
Val and Fran's garden is 100 organic and pesticide free. They compost things like egg shells, lobster, and fish but not meat and dairy. They also noted that if you do compost, don't do it next to your house. Insects and animals love free meals, so you're better off keeping it next to your garden and away from where you sleep! If you want to buy organic fertilizer, chicken and cow droppings work great, and companies like The Coast of Maine produce organic lobster compost. As far as pest control, Val and Fran suggested Neem Oil ( natural from the Neem tree) as an excellent bug repellent.

3.) What do they do with all that food?
Seriously guys, there are tons of uses for all the veggies and herbs growing around the garden. Val and Fran not only consume most of what they grow ( saving them hundreds on groceries every year) but they also pickle and can their produce themselves. Think about it, tomato sauces and jalapenos are easy to make and give away as presents for neighbors or even sell!  Oh yes, and then there are fried eggplant sticks. Just grow the eggplant, chop into sticks, and fry. Thank us later. The couple say they put around $300-500 of their money into the garden annually, which gets them almost 16 weeks of growing, the investment is well worth it.

4.) Extra tips and ideas for beginners
An important thing to mind if you are a first time gardener is crop rotation. You can't keep growing the same stuff in the same spots year after year, this will diminish the nutrients in the soil and you won't get the same quality product as the first time around. So mix it up every three years and you're good. Planting a clover or nitrogen blanket will help replenish lost nutrients and get your garden back in shape after an epic growing season. Some easy veggies to start with are tomatoes and lettuce, if you're worried about messing up. 

5.) Also...

If you live near a beach like this one on the Cape, chances are that your soil is a bit sandy. No worries, just remember to water your garden, it's harder for that type of soil to retain water. 

Thanks again to Val and Fran for all the awesome tips and advice, much appreciated!
If anyone has any questions on the design for the greenhouse or rain barrel just leave a comment and I'll get back to you!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

True Life: My Dad Gardens

My Dad: Kenny 'Kuhl It!'
     My dad is a Mason, a Local 4 Union Brick Layer. He has not only been working at his trade for almost 30 years, he has also been supporting a family for most of his life. His choice to join a union came because of health insurance and choosing what was right for his family.My dad is the Picasso of Brick. That's what I call him, at least. He has worked on hundreds of houses, patios, walls, you name it, all over New Jersey. And he's amazing at it, just ask to see one of his many portfolios he has built throughout the years. A few years ago, the economy started tanking, as you all must remember. Unfortunately, the honest, hardworking guys like my dad were inevitably laid off , and have continued to work less and less, some becoming unable to support their families.
    Everything just seemed to get worse. It's been a tough time for my family, with years between my dad finding union work. We've lost health insurance and have seen savings go out the window. 
Since my dad is nowhere NEAR a lazy person, he has applied his skills and energy elsewhere around the house. He started clipping more coupons than I ever would imagine. He cleaned, heated the house with our wood furnace,and made home improvements by himself, using materials he could find from friends, the side of Route 287 or for extremely cheap. Also, he has been growing an organic garden for the past few years       ( Note: all the brickwork and structure has been designed and built by my dad!). Organic means he doesn't use any pesticides, fertilizers or any other crap on his garden. Only rain water collected in bins, composting, and T.L.C. ( that means Tender Loving Care, not to be mistaken with THC). First it started out very basic, with one plot next to the patio he was working on. But it started progressing, getting bigger and bigger every year he was out of work. Now, the garden is built up a little like this:

IMPORTANT: The garden has not started to grow this year. He's got tons of summer veggies in the sun room inside my house, waiting to be planted outside:

My dog, Panda, watches my dad work in the garden from inside ( poor pup!)

   With all the extra food around the house, my dad saved tons of money on groceries and learned how to make all different types of meals. We've gone from a house of boring burgers, dogs, and deli meats to salads, veggie stews, and more flavor on those burgers, dogs and deli meats!
   The next best thing about my dad's favorite new hobby: it's made us money, on top of saving money on groceries! That's right, my dad grows everything from tomatoes, eggplant, carrots, zucchini, summer squash, peppers, and turnips, of which he sells on our front yard with a veggie stand. It's more like an honor system, he asks neighbors to leave money at the front door if they take anything. My dad's little business has grown throughout the summers. The first year he started his veggie stand he made $200. The next summer he made $225, and this past summer he made over $300! Remember, my dad was selling things out of the ground without buying or adding extra chemicals or growth enhancers from a store, at .50-$1.00 a veggie! Imagine where you could put that money if you made $300 profit off of your backyard? That's one hell of a summer cookout, or Kegger in the woods, or trip to the beach.
   This summer my dad is going all out again. My sister and I even got him fruit seeds.
My plan is to document my Dad's garden this summer. I want to show you all how its done and what you and the environment can get out of it! For all those recent college graduates looking desperately for employment, here's a good way to work off all that job search stress and make a few extra bucks in the process. Your first task is to find a happy garden gnome that will help you get motivated. This is the one I bought my dad:

Also, if anyone wants to add a few fun facts and tips to gardening on a budget, please email me and leave comments!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Google and Recycle Bank Set Challenge To 'Green' Your Social Graph

This is my first post on! Read and Leave love!

Google & Recyclebank Set Earth Day Challenge to ‘Green’ Your Social Graph
Recyclebank has teamed up with Google to test game mechanics as a way of empowering consumers to go green, while spring cleaning their homes. The annual Green Your Home Challenge, commencing today on ‘earth day’ will be a “test of truth” for how the green industry can take an alternative and holistic vision to market and simultaneously empower consumers to change their lifestyle.
By contributing photos of green deeds and referring friends, contestants qualify to win thousands of dollars worth of prizes. This year’s grand prize includes energy star household appliances and a free consultation to green the winners’ home.
Recyclebank & Google Green Your Home Challenge
What could be so exciting for Google about greening homes? The companies are on a mission to measure the impact of game mechanics using Google Analytics, in order to learn which factors most effectively trigger sustainable practices through user engagement.
Game Mechanics in Marketing Strategies
Game mechanics aren’t necessarily new to green marketing strategies, although Google’s analysis may turn out to be the most insightful yet and could pave the way for greener consumers, empowering incentives from companies, and smarter energy consumption for everyone.
Attempts by brands and green initiative sites have already begun to test the waters of emotional impact, community engagement, and leader board gaming tactics.
Similar efforts are noticeable in Nissan’s Leaf Rewards, Toyota Prius’ Car Town, and OPOWER campaigns. Depending on what Google, ROI, and Recyclebank’s results reveal, new campaigns toward the green initiative may take on a whole new light.
Nissan Leaf Rewards 2011
Nissan’s Leaf electric car puts efficiency, environmentalism, and gaming to the test. Leaf drivers have a component on their dashboard called Carwings, which tracks the driver’s efficiency information (Fuel use, mileage, etc) and puts the owner in competition with other Leaf drivers in the region or neighborhood.
Technology and competition, sounds great, right? One problem: the Leaf has recently been in the spotlight with some products failing to start, a highly dangerous quality for any kind of car.
If Nissan can work out some minor starting issues, the Carwings program is a great way to get consumers thinking about their carbon footprints in a lighthearted and competitive way.
Toyota Prius and Car Town
Toyota Prius’ Car Town on Facebook was launched to encourage interaction between owners and create a more connected community. Toyota was able to reach its highly valued audience of 7.2 million users of Car Town. Owners were able to earn badges and buy and sell cars through this Facebook App.
Car Town engaged the brand and created organic promotion for Prius. Car Town helped generate buzz for Prius, engage its community and reached consumers in a convenient spot where they spend most of their time while avoiding real life situations: social network platforms.
“We don’t just throw ads in front of consumers to drive impressions. We create game elements and game extensions that incorporate the key messages of the brands we work with ensuring a level of attention and engagement to the brand those other media properties and games don’t achieve,” said the president and CEO of CIE games, owner of Car Town.
Although the campaign was to promote Toyota products, the importance lies on the family of products being greener than others, therefore assigning more positive recognition to smart cars such as the Prius.
Opower’s way of encouraging consumer to keep up with the Joneses by driving consumers to compare energy consumption to everyone else, while using Opower’s services in the process. With Opower, the consumer can see how much better or worse they are at saving money on energy bills compared to their neighborhood.
The use of bragging rights from competition seems to be the angle, but how much are bragging rights worth? Apparently, tracking energy consumption and bragging rights are enough to top off a $35 million profit for Opower in 2010.
But is energy tracking enough to make fully conscious green consumers, not just at home, but in stores, restaurants, on vacation, and at work?
Why Google + Recyclebank is Different and Better
Many attempts at game mechanics provide positive engagement to raise green awareness, but have yet to deliver a real-world sustainable impact as they have remained fairly virtual and aimed at a single conscientious consumer, rather than a community of like-minded people. Google’s current experiment with Recyclebank offers physical and valuable prizes to drive a genuinely ‘healthy’ competition between close communities of people to perhaps make them all a bit greener.
Hopefully, practical incentives from the Green Your Homes contest will show more results with stronger engagement than plain leader boards, emotional appeal, pure community engagement or ‘gamified’ dashboards on vehicles. It promises to be an awesome green campaign test. Not only will it showcase the new Google Analytics software’s full capabilities, but Google’s influence and know-how to measure engagement is something that many emerging organization and companies in the green industry don’t have the time or access to resources to do for themselves.
No one quite knows how to hit the nail on the head to influence sustainable behaviors, with this collaboration on Recyclebank’s Green Your Home challenge, all the right pieces to the puzzle are laid out on the table. Which mechanic will prove to be most influential? Only time and, hopefully, Google will tell.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Wait A Minute, Documentaries Are Cool?!?!

I wanted to get a post out this week, but because of finals and senior year nonsense, I have been unable to post anything awesome. However, I did remember this sweet documentary I watched in a consumer behavior class in Paris. Check it out, if you don't like what its talks about, it's got some amazing shots. Enjoy the whole movie on YouTube here:

Movie: Home
Summary: Internationally renowned photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand makes his feature directorial debut with this environmentally conscious documentary produced by Luc Besson, and narrated by Glenn Close. Shot in 54 countries and 120 locations over 217 days, Home presents the many wonders of planet Earth from an entirely aerial perspective. As such, we are afforded the unique opportunity to witness our changing environment from an entirely new vantage point. In our 200,000 years on Earth, humanity has hopelessly upset Mother Nature's delicate balance. Some experts claim that we have less than ten years to change our patterns of consumption and reverse the trend before the damage is irreversible. Produced to inspire action and encourage thoughtful debate, Home poses the prospect that unless we act quickly, we risk losing the only home we may ever have.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day Resolutions

What will you do this year to help your planet earth? Today I hosted an Earth Day party and asked my coworkers to write down a few things they will be doing to go green this year. The list is as follows:
1.) Lights out
2.) Recycle
3.) Use more resuable cups
4.) Digital Presentation v. printed copies
5.) Use biodegradable doggie bags
6.) Not turning on more than one light at a time
7.) Buy less/stop buying bottles water
8.) Meatless mondays!
9.) Stop collecting plastic bags from the super market
10.) Fix leaky faucet
11.) Cut back on water ie shorter showers, shutting off faucet when brushing teeth/dishwashing

And THAT is why I love where I work. People, the point of this holiday is to raise awareness on all the little things we could be doing to help make our world a better place and save our resources. Every little thing you do will help our society become more sustainable. Most importantly, no matter what you do:
Seriously, it is the most important thing to do in order to stay aware on all those little things I mentioned...

Happy Earth Day everyone!
Post your Earth Day resolutions if you have any! Would love to hear them :-)