terra, not terror

sharing ideas about a simpler way to live

Movie Friday: Amory Lovins April 18, 2008

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

carI’m changing Recipe Friday to Movie Friday. The first is Amory Lovins, “energy guru” and economist extraordinaire. Lovins stresses the importance of creating alternative energy now, because if we don’t, we’ll be buying it from our competitors soon! It doesn’t have to happen all at once, but we must start moving into a new industry. Developing renewable technologies is critical to American jobs, economy, society, … you name it. We must invest in renewable/alternative energy for our survival. Watch the video and be enlightened. (click the picture to see the movie)

Lovins is also the co-author of “Winning the Oil Endgame,” a book which is available for free online.

Next week… the Plastic Island, from CNN. This video is awesome!


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 consumers’ 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)


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!


Earth Day for the enviROOment March 27, 2008

Filed under: education, local — terra @ 12:00 am

The University of Akron is celebrating Earth Day on April 16th. This year’s celebration promises to be bigger and better than last year’s. UA students will learn about how to preserve the enviROOment. (Another great slogan!)

Don’t miss the electric cars, solar panels, a solar stage, live music and art, speakers, and a green fair. Several fine organizations will be represented, including Green Energy Ohio, Great Lakes Brewing Company (promoting the Burning River Fest), Metro RTA, and Environmental Akron – UA’s student group committed to the environment.

April 16th 10-3
Student Union


Metro Parks Earth Day March 26, 2008

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

The Metro Parks Serving Summit County is having an Earth Day Celebration with a hike and other earth-valuing activities.

The event offers you a chance to recycle items you hadn’t previously thought about… batteries, cell phones, computers, VCRs and radios, infant car seats, phone books, etc. The first 100 families who bring a recyclable item will receive a reusable shopping bag.

Learn about hiking and “Leave No Trace” practices and then hike through the park.

April 22nd, 5-7 pm
Firestone/Coventry Parks


Who’s Your Mama March 25, 2008

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

Kent’s Earth Day festival has perhaps the best slogan ever – “Who’s Your Mama?”

Who’s Your Mama takes place April 16 – 20 in downtown Kent. This action-packed Earth Day event features a block party,  films, fashion show, art and poetry, a green building tour, and a chance to learn about sustainable agriculture and conservation.

There will be speakers and panel discussions, along with demonstrations of renewable or alternative energy for homes and cars. Don’t miss the windmill demonstration, the Bio Bus and the Grease Machine!

Who’s Your Mama
April 16-20
Main St.,  Downtown Kent
$10 one-day , $15 weekend pass


Rain barrel Workshops March 24, 2008

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

IMG_7811The Nature Center at Shaker Lakes is having 3 rain barrel workshops in April.

If I had to choose my favorite “gardening” thing, it would be my rain barrel (with my reel mower being a close 2nd). Rain barrels gather rain from your roof and store it so you can use rainwater to water your lawn and garden. It saves your water bill, saves the city water plant, and helps your plants. Grass and plants don’t need cold, treated water. They love rainwater! So, head up to Shaker Lakes and build your own rain barrel. You can have a lush, green, healthy lawn all summer.

April 5th from 10-noon
April 27th from 12-2 and 3-5


2008 Year of the Frog March 19, 2008

Filed under: conserve, education — terra @ 7:00 am

I know that 2008 is supposedly the year of the rat. But, thousands of scientists world-wide have declared 2008 the year of the frog. Why? Here are a few reasons, from the Amphibian Ark website.

1. Amphibian species are becoming extinct at a pace faster that anything we have experienced.
2. Nearly one third of all amphibian species are threatened.
3. Many people do not know that amphibians are declining and how threatened they are.
4. Amphibians are indicators of environmental health, important components of ecosystems.
6. Amphibians are suitable for captive breeding programs and if every zoo in the world rescues one species, the goal can be achieved.
7. This is a unique challenge to prove that zoos and aquariums and botanical gardens are valid conservation partners. Zoos in particular play an important role in providing ex-situ breeding grounds for immediate conservation action

Amphibians are an important component of the global ecosystem, as indicators of environmental health and contributors to human health. They watched the dinosaurs come and go, but today almost half of them are themselves threatened with extinction. Addressing the amphibian extinction crisis represents the greatest species conservation challenge in the history of humanity.

Visit Amphibian Ark to learn more about frogs, or to find fun activities, sign a petition, watch Jeff Corwin’s “thank you” to science teachers, or buy a calendar for $5.

Click here to watch the Panamanian Golden Frog wave goodbye. This frog is now extinct.


Reminder: Live Presentation at UA today February 28, 2008

Filed under: education — terra @ 1:31 pm

An Inconvenient Truth will be presented LIVE in the University of Akron’s Student Union, Room 312 @ 4pm.

Alvidas Jasin was trained by Al Gore and will present the award winning slideshow/documentary for UA students today. Food and beverages will be provided.


Solar Installation Training in Ohio February 7, 2008

Filed under: education, local, solar — terra @ 12:00 pm

Owens Community College in Toledo is offering a “photovoltaic principles and application training program” in the spring of 2008. It’s a 5-day program for people interested in installing and integrating photovoltaic panels with “utility-based or off the grid power systems.” The class covers basic electricity, PV systems, and PV theory.

This is exciting for anyone who wants to get a jump on the new service-based industry that will be in high demand very soon. Owens Community College students installed solar panels for OCC in 2005. It’s great to see colleges get on board with saving energy, and providing a real competitive edge for their students by demonstrating renewable energy.

Find more information here.


Tuesdays off January 15, 2008

Filed under: education — terra @ 7:50 am

Sorry, but I don’t have anything for today. Lots of great stuff coming up though. I have a class on Mondays in the spring, so my brain is drained.

If you haven’t been to Instructables yet, you really must check it out. I could waste days there!


Why we must reduce our consumption January 3, 2008

Filed under: education, reduce — terra @ 7:00 am

trashI’ve been reading a lot lately about this idea of floating continents of garbage, but have yet to see a picture. I like to see evidence before I post something. Well, here it is . . . a picture of floating continents of garbage, based on this “trash vortex” study. It’s made up of plastic and all kinds of other evidence of human impact on the planet. Some of the garbage is sinking to the ocean floor and harming marine wildlife.

vortexLet’s think about this each time we buy a 6 pack of yogurt instead of the big container, or bottled water, or plastic baggies. The list goes on. Think reusable. What is the end destination of the products we buy? Disposable isn’t really disposable. It all ends up somewhere.