terra, not terror

sharing ideas about a simpler way to live

Biomimicry gets big attention April 10, 2008

Filed under: bioneers, education, energy, social consciousness — terra @ 7:00 am

I first learned about Biomimicry through Bioneers. It’s a concept you can’t help getting excited about. Essentially, biomimicry means looking at how nature designs something, and using those designs to improve efficiency, etc. Nature doesn’t have recalls. Everything in nature has a purpose, and was designed to be the best at whatever it does.

Recently, companies have taken an interest in biomimicry as they seek to design sustainable products and improve production. Nature has already designed things that fly quickly through the air, or filter water, or stick together like glue. When we don’t look to nature for inspiration, we are reinventing the wheel, which isn’t productive or profitable. So, many companies are consulting Janine Benyus for advice on where in nature to look, and how to create more sustainable products. Janine Benyus of Bioneers has written 6 books, including Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. Check out the Biomimicry Institute.

Her clients include “General Electric (GE), Hewlett-Packard, and NASA. … In 2005, Ford’s Volvo Div. developed an anti-collision system based on the way locusts swarm without crashing into one another.” Companies are able to contact the Biomimicry Guild, and talk to a team of scientists to discover “what would nature do.” They are not only making their products more sustainable, but their businesses as well, going from producing toxins to becoming a waste-free business. They’re saving money and the environment at the same time.

Update: Biomimicry in National Geographic. Don’t miss the photo gallery!

 

Green Guerrillas April 7, 2008

Filed under: alternative, education, environment, garden, local, social consciousness — terra @ 7:00 am

Here are some fun ways to go “green guerrilla” in your neighborhood.

Flowers make the world pretty

To brighten up construction lots, abandon property, and other urban blights, throw a “seed bomb” – “compressed balls of soil and compost that have been impregnated with wildflower seeds.” What began as no-till farming has turned into a great way to make a statement about sprawl, with pretty results.

Other Guerrilla Gardening techniques include taking over an abandoned lot, adding soil and compost, and planting a beautiful landscape that residents can be proud of.

Warm up your neighborhoodgreen

Knitters dubbed Knitta Please are warming up their communities by adding knitted pieces to otherwise cold, lifeless city blocks. They knit scarves for telephone poles or stair rails. They began in Houston, TX, and have spread their work to “Great Wall of China, Notre Dame Cathedral, Harlem, and Seattle Washington.” Graffiti? I think not.

Edina Tokodi is greening her neighborhood by adding live art installations throughout Brooklyn. She adds plants and moss, shaped like animals or abstract art, to bare walls in her urban landscape. She believes that “if everyone had a garden of their own to cultivate, we would have a much more balanced relation to our territories.” Check out some of her green guerrilla work at Inhabitat.

Pop up Reminders

Animals are popping up out of subway grates! The animals are made out of plastic bags, and every time the New York subway rushes by, it breathes life into the animal, making it stand up and remind you of its presence. This contribution by an unknown artist reminds us to think outside ourselves and see the impact our lifestyle is having on the planet. Here’s a video.

 

Spilled Milk April 4, 2008

Filed under: education, government, organic, social consciousness — terra @ 9:48 am

Ohio is considering restricting the amount of information that can be included on milk labels. Specifically, it will not allow producers to label their milk free of growth hormones (rBST and rBGH). I think consumers deserve to be as informed as possible about how our food is produced. Not allowing this information is not in the best interests of consumers. That’s my opinion.

You can inform decision makers of your opinion by visiting this site and sending them a letter or e-mail.

The OFPA requires by law that the certified organic milk produced follow strict verifiable standards. Farmers cannot inject or use any growth hormones (including rBST or rBGH) with their cows. To verify that they are following the production practices required by law farms undergo an annual inspection by a USDA-accredited certifier.

I am concerned that adopting the proposed rule would restrict interstate commerce making it difficult for suppliers, farmers and processors to do business in and out of Ohio.

The proposed rule would infringe on the consumersā€™ right to know about how the products were produced.

I like to know where my food comes from, and I don’t think cow-grade hormones are appropriate for human-sized consumers. It’s my opinion, not based on research, just thoughtfulness and reason. I don’t think we’re missing anything by drinking hormone-free milk. (rBGH is banned in Europe)

 

Update April 4, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — terra @ 8:25 am

I’ve taken on another job, so I won’t be able to post as frequently. Although that doesn’t mean there isn’t great stuff going on! Keep up with Planet Green, EcoGeek, or even Instructables. New American Dream is a great site to explore.

I’ll still post weekly, but not every day. I’ll continue to update the “del.i.cious green news” box (right above the search box) on the right column, so you can check that out if you want to know what I’m reading.
Good news! The seeds I planted on Sunday are already sprouting! It’s so exciting because we haven’t even had much sun this week. This was my first time starting flowers from seeds and I’m amazed by the whole process.

 

Don’t buy a new TV April 2, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — terra @ 7:00 am

Next year, the FCC will be phasing out analog broadcasts that our TVs are used to. Don’t worry though, most of us don’t need to buy a new TV! You can get a converter box, which enables your analog TV to receive digital broadcasts, or you can recycle your old TV and get a new-to-you TV.

Converter boxes can be purchased at big retailers, or you can order one online. The government is offering to ease the pain with a $40 off coupon. Be sure to check the FAQs on DTV2009.gov.

According to DTV2009.gov, consumers have 3 options:

  1. Keep your existing analog TV and purchase a TV converter box. A converter box plugs into your TV and will keep it working after Feb. 17, 2009, or
  2. Connect to cable, satellite or other pay service, or
  3. Purchase a television with a digital tuner.

If your TV is older than dirt and the converter won’t work for you, start checking Craigslist.org or other reuse outlets for a new-to-you TV. Then, you can get a converter box and use the $40 off coupon to save some money.

-Ideal BiteĀ 

 

Local Akron Food Event April 1, 2008

Filed under: food, local — terra @ 7:30 am

Entrepreneurs for Sustainability (E4S) is presenting “Linking the Local Food Industry in Akron” at the Mustard Seed Market in Montrose on April 9th 5:30-8:30 pm.

Local food is so important to our health and the health of the planet. If you buy from a farmer, you can ask him/her how your food was grown. Many small farms grow organic food, but they don’t go through the process of becoming certified organic. The FDA’s rules are less and less strict about what can be put in food and still label it organic, so it’s nice to talk to the person who grows the food to find out how they grew it.

Local food also travels fewer miles, making it fresher, and generating less pollution.

Support local farmers and eat local food. You can learn more about Akron Local Food at the E4S event on April 9th.

Thanks to the Village Green for the head’s up!

 

Eco Math April 1, 2008

Filed under: alternative, education, energy, solar, wind — terra @ 7:00 am

We’re going to do a little math story problem. It’s pretty easy.

If you choose alternative energy for your home, your investment has a payback period of several years. You pay for the technology all at once, in the beginning when it’s installed. (Often, it’s paid for with grants and other incentives, but we’ll assume you pay for it out of pocket) The payback period explains how long it will take for you to have saved enough money on energy bills to cancel out the initial investment.

These are examples, and not exact. I used 10 years for everything to make the math really easy. These are exaggerated hypothetical numbers for our story problem, based on Akron, OH.

Solar = 10 years
Wind power = 10 years
Green roofs = 10 years
Geothermal = 10 years

Question: If you use all of these technologies on your home or building, how many years will it take for your investment to pay off?

Answer in the comments section. You can be anonymous if you want. I’ll give the answer at 5:00 today.

Answer: If each of your renewable sources takes 10 years to pay off, the total payoff time is 10 years. Not 40 years. Just 10. You’re paying for them all at the same time, and they all pay off at the same time. Think of it this way, you’re paying a utility company for gas and electric right now, forever. If you had renewable energy, you’d buy, pay for it for 10 years, and then never have to pay for it again. That sounds like a deal!