terra, not terror

sharing ideas about a simpler way to live

Video Friday: Rocket Stove June 27, 2008

Filed under: alternative, food, local, reduce — terra @ 7:00 am

This video is from the Aprovecho Research Center, which created a “rocket stove.” A rocket stove is made of sturdy materials, such as cans, with a place for air circulation and tinder to start the fire. A rocket stove can be used to cook meals, even saute vegetables. This can really come in handy when you want to keep your house cool this summer – just cook outside!

Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen of Homegrown Evolution have built a rocket stove out of bricks. In West Akron, a lot of homes have a brick fireplace in the backyard, which is perfect for cooking. I think I’ll clean my off this weekend and use it to cook meals this summer.

stove

- BoingBoing

 

Home Depot will recycle your CFLs June 26, 2008

Filed under: education, energy, local, recycle — terra @ 7:00 am

Home Depot announced that all of their stores will have a collection point for compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). This is great news for those of us who have made the switch to CFLs to cut down on our carbon output, and our electric bills!

CFLs contain a small bit of mercury, which poses a problem when the bulbs are improperly disposed of.

Home Depot will accept any maker’s bulbs, no matter where you bought them. There are plans in place for other recycling systems for CFLs, but this convenient option offers a consistent drop off point and removes the burden from the consumer to find another solution. (75% of the nation’s homes are within 10 miles of a Home Depot – yikes!)

So, take your used CFLs to Home Depot when they burn out (in about 7 years) so they can be recycled.

 

Metro Building Tour June 25, 2008

Filed under: alternative, conserve, environment, local, reduce, solar — terra @ 7:00 am

IMG_1091I toured the Metro Parks Green Building on Saturday. The building is brilliant, but not many people came. That was unfortunate because people should see how easy it is to save on energy. Plus, they had really great cookies!

The new Metro Parks Rangers building features just some of these features:

  • Outside: Rain barrels, solar panels, solar film, green roof, rain garden, smart pavers which allow rain drainage, and native greenery.
  • Inside: Recycled materials for countertops, reclaimed lumber for furniture and structure, recycled carpet, recyclable office furniture, waterless urinals, low VOC paints, motion sensors for lights, bamboo floors, reused technology, original bricks and floor tiles.
  • Basement: Composting toilet machine, geothermal heat system, and Hybrid car.

This building demonstrates how easy it is to reduce our impact on the planet, be healthier, and save money on energy costs. And live comfortably at the same time. The lockers were made from recycled milk jugs and the marble-looking kitchen counter top was made from newspapers!

The tour was well-staffed with cheerful and helpful volunteers. I look forward to the next Metro Parks event. They are truly leaders in our community, setting an example for all of us to leave a light footprint.

 

European Sustainability June 24, 2008

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

I just got back from a trip to Europe, and have a few notes I found interesting. Itinerary: we flew from Cleveland to Philadelphia to Amsterdam, and then Prague.

There’s no recycling in Cleveland – to be sure, I even asked an employee where I could recycle my drink bottle and he said “oh, just throw it in the trash.” Philadelphia Airport had thorough recycling – with separate containers. Amsterdam gets its own paragraph. Needless to say, recycling is available in Amsterdam (except in the “travel-to-America” section). Upon return, we landed at the Akron-Canton Airport, which does recycle. What’s up, Cleveland?

Philadelphia

We had a few hours in Philadelphia, so I look my husband to see the town. We both appreciate history, and especially the freedoms our founding fathers had in mind when they created this country. After our experience in the Cleveland Airport, I bought a pocket Constitution to comfort me for the remainder of the trip. Philadelphia is a beautiful city, where public transportation is used by anyone who isn’t already riding their bike. The streets are 2 lanes, so cars are bothersome. I wish we had more time there.

Amsterdam

As we flew into Amsterdam, we saw fields of windmills generating power for this coastal city. The air was crisp and clean, and the city was just beautiful. We saw many more windmills in the city, and a fantastic irrigation system for the fields. I’m sure the food there was deliciously fresh!

Prague

IMG_0856Our final destination was the free country of the Czech Republic. Prague was just as beautiful as anything we imagined. And talk about public transportation! … We rode the tram, train, or bus throughout the city and found public transportation to be clean, safe, stress-free and overall enjoyable, even in a foreign language.

Recycling is available everywhere. Trash cans (and trucks) are noticeably smaller than recycling containers.

I especially loved the local markets that were specialized. Instead of going to a one-size-fits-all shop for your culinary desires, you can go to the fruit and vegetable market for the freshest produce, the bread store for delectable pastries and loaves, and the cheese store for dairy treats. There were locally-owned, specialty shops for everything you need. For convenience, all-in-one shops are also plentiful. It’s nice to have choices. How could I forget the tea shops? They were delightful!

The cuisine was largely meat-based, but we were able to find great vegetarian options everywhere we went. Our best discovery (our friend took us there) was an Afghan restaurant. Delicious!

Dresden and LeipzigDresden

We took a train to Dresden and Leipzig for a day trip. These beautiful German cities demonstrated reduce and reuse, and everyone rode bikes. It was fantastic. After the US firebombed Dresden in WWII, the city decided to rebuild itself using the same bricks that were used in the original buildings. They had to incorporate some new bricks, and the result is a city full of charred-black and new-white speckled churches and city buildings.

The train stations were nearly the highlight of this trip. They were so clean and efficient. The Leipzig train station doubles as a 2-story shopping mall. The food here was also good, but heavy, with lots of cheese and everything fried. Good thing we took public transportation so we were forced to walk off our calories.

Confessions

Because of “security” rules, we weren’t as environmentally responsible as we would like. Therefore, we drank a lot of bottled water, and even had to use styrofoam. We refilled our bottles whenever we could, but were forced to go through so many security checks – despite leaving an airport – that we consumed and disposed of many bottles. One time we bought bottled water, but it was warm and tasted like plastic, so I dumped it out and filled it with drinking fountain water. Ha! It was unfortunate that we aren’t allowed to stick to our ideals. In the future, we will bring our empty bottles and have them filled inside the airport (if we’re lucky), and bring our mugs for coffee and tea. Do you think I’m allowed to bring my bpa-free metal bottle? I’ll try it.

Overall, it was a wonderful trip. We learned a lot about history, experienced the joy of public transportation, and saw some good friends. I can’t wait to get back!

 

Akron Metro Dump the Pump June 15, 2008

Filed under: cars, conserve, local, reduce — terra @ 7:00 am

Thursday is National Dump the Pump day, and Akron Metro has events planned all week, so ditch the car… dump the pump… go “green” and take the bus next week.

June 16-20

Note: I will be out of town for a few days.

Upcoming posts:
Germany is Eco-Responsible
How to beat the Summer Heat
NEO Rail
… and more.

 

Video Friday: Fair Trade June 13, 2008

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

 

We love bats June 11, 2008

Filed under: conserve, environment, wind — terra @ 7:00 am

After a side discussion in Comments about bats, I’ve been searching the Bat Conservation International site for more information about how great bats are, how they help us, and how we can help them. Essentially, bats are pretty harmless to humans, but they eat a lot of bugs that make us sick, eat our food, or kill us (think West Nile Virus). So, bats are great! They eat what we want them to eat, and otherwise leave us alone.

Bat Trivia

Baby bats are called pups. Females have one pup per year – that’s a pretty low reproductive rate.
Bats live over 30 years, making them the longest living mammal for their size.
Bats and birds are not related.

Bat houses

One way to help bats is to build or put up a bat house to provide them shelter during the day so they can eat bugs at night. The best place to put a bat house is on a building or a pole, not on a tree.

Bat Benefits

In the United States, little brown bats often eat mosquitos and can catch up to 1,200 tiny insects in an hour. An average-sized colony of big brown bats can eat enough cucumber beetles to protect farmers from tens of millions of the beetle’s rootworm larva each summer. Large colonies of Mexican free-tailed bats eat hundreds of tons of moth pests weekly.

Problems

The biggest problem is human fear.

Another big problem for bats involves some of the things we do to the places where bats live. We spray a lot of chemicals, which are dangerous. Bugs are sprayed by the chemicals, and then the bats eat the chemical-coated bugs.

And, windmills are posing a problem for bats. As we strive to find renewable energy, we must remember to not harm other species in the process. (remember though, pollution from our gas-cars harm uncountable numbers of animals) The Bats and Wind Energy Consortium has joined together with energy innovators to find solutions. The Oregon Wind Turbine (below) is safe for birds and bats.

Recently, scientists have discovered White Nose Syndrome among bats in the North East. They don’t know the cause, but the mortality rate is 95%.

We should do what we can to help animals like bats. Without knowing, we depend on others for our survival, so it’s in our interest to keep them safe.

 

LEED Metro Building Open for Tours June 9, 2008

Filed under: conserve, education, energy, environment, garden, local, social consciousness, solar, water — terra @ 7:00 am

The Metro Parks, Serving Summit County building is having an open house June 21-22 from 1-4 p.m. each day. This building was recently renovated, and includes these wonderful, sustainable features:

  • geothermal heating
  • waterless toilets
  • solar panels
  • a green roof
  • lumber from downed trees
  • recycled carpet, furniture and cabinetry
  • porous pavement to let rainwater through
  • a rain garden
  • rain barrels
  • and native landscaping.

If you want to tour the Metro building, you can pick up a shuttle at the Metro RTA Park-and-Ride lot at 530 Ghent Road, or you can park along the path and walk. The building is located on the corner of Sand Run and Revere Road.

The cost of the environmentally sustainable features cost an extra 15%, but that will be recouped by energy savings throughout the year, as the building won’t have to pay for their energy use. Most of that extra cost is also paid for through grants and donations. It really makes a lot of sense for public buildings (including college and university) to become more environmentally sustainable.

-Akron Beacon Journal

 

Video Friday: Earth University June 6, 2008

Filed under: conserve, energy, environment, food, organic, social consciousness — terra @ 7:00 am

Earth University was founded to reinforce the tenet of triple bottom line – community, environment, profit.

They’re growing bananas organically, paying workers above minimum wage, and making paper from waste!

(click the picture to start the video)

earth u

 

Windy Future June 5, 2008

Filed under: alternative, energy, local, reduce, social consciousness, wind — terra @ 7:00 am

Wind power is getting really exciting! As new designs emerge that are more practical, less expensive, and safe for birds and bats, wind is becoming a more viable source of power. Check out these innovations:

Oregon Wind

windThe Oregon Wind turbine is compact and designed for urban and rural areas. It has less noise and vibration, and birds view it as a solid object, so they avoid it. These turbines can be linked, stacked, or mounted on a building in clumps to form a “wind forest.” They hope to have these available in 2008 for less than $1,000!

Cities could even use these to generate power at the top of LED streetlamps!

Community Wind Farms

National Wind is a company that helps put wind farms into community’s hands. They provide the supplies, and help the community come together to generate their own power – out of corporate hands. They’ve been successful with farming communities who have a cost advantage to create their own power. National Wind is active in 7 states. We all win when we work together as a community to help each other. -EcoGeek

Don’t forget about solar. The price of solar panels is expected to plummet! Nothing but good news today.

 

Aeros Recycle June 4, 2008

Filed under: energy, local, recycle — terra @ 7:00 am

The Akron Aeros are encouraging fans to recycle this season! You can recycle aluminum cans and plastic bottles at the Canal Park Stadium, in partnership with Summit Akron Solid Waste Management Authority (SASWMA), the city of Akron and the Portage County Solid Waste Management District.

Many sports teams are taking the lead on reducing our impact on the planet. Stadiums across the country have added solar panels to provide power to themselves and the surrounding community.

Next time you’re at a game, check out what efforts have been taken to be environmentally responsible.

 

30 Days: In a coal mine June 2, 2008

Filed under: education, social consciousness — terra @ 7:00 pm

If there is any tv show I recommend, it is “30 Days” on FX. “30 Days” is written by Morgan Spurlock, and it’s a documentary of people doing something out of the ordinary for 30 days, to gain a new perspective on an issue that is facing society. Last season had Morgan spending 30 days in jail, while other people spend 30 days learning first-hand about gay/straight issues, Christian/Muslim issues, a binge-drinking mom (college daughter), outsourcing to India, and Morgan lived for 30 days on minimum wage. Not as easy as it sounds.

This year’s season kicks off with Morgan working for 30 days in a West Virginia coal mine. It will be riveting! Watch “30 Days” on Tuesdays at 10:00 p.m. on FX. (we record it and watch the next day) The 2nd episode features a retired football player living for 30 days in a wheelchair.

Morgan Spurlock is the genius behind SuperSize Me, What would Jesus buy, and others.

Update: I just finished watching this episode, and I have 2 things to say. As an environmentalist, we have no right to do what we’re doing to those mountains. As a humanitarian, we must stop this.

Certainly we can’t change our energy sources right away, but we have to make a real dedication to move forward. If not for the environment, then for our fellow citizens.

If you missed it, set your DVR for Sunday at 11:00 p.m.

 

Mosquitoes June 2, 2008

Filed under: alternative, organic — terra @ 7:00 am

With summer comes mosquitoes. I seem to get bit just thinking about them. So, here are a few tips to keep your yard and your body mosquito free:

  • spray your yard – grass, trees, plants – with garlic oil. It should repel them for up to 4 weeks.
  • keep your dog on heartworm medicine. Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitoes!
  • remove all shallow standing water – dog dishes, tires, etc.
  • keep bird baths fresh
  • line your gutters with gutter-guards. You can do it yourself with supplies from the local hardware store.
  • rake those leaves – mosquitoes love piles of damp leaves
  • stay in the sun – mosquitoes seem to only bite when you’re in the shade.

Sprays

Instead of stinky mosquito repellent with harmful deet, we use a mixture of lavender oil and water. It’s so refreshing, and it really works. Other sprays that probably work are eucalyptus oil and lemon oil. You can get essential oils in the “healthy” section of most grocery stores, or in some specialty stores. We mix up a little bottle about 10 drops of lavender oil and 4 oz. of water.