terra, not terror

sharing ideas about a simpler way to live

Transportation Ease January 22, 2009

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

The Akron Metro RTA system has completed the new hub! It’s a fantastic place with heated floors, schedule monitors, free wifi, and security. Akron’s commitment to the Metro, and to making our city bike-friendly is outstanding. Ohio.com has great photos.

If you don’t take the bus, you can text Google for directions and save paper by having them sent to your phone. Simply text your starting address “to” and the destination and Google will send directions to your phone.

 

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

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Video Friday: Thoughts from within May 30, 2008

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

In case you missed it earlier…

(click the picture to start the video)

woody

 

Video Friday: George Carlin’s Story of Stuff May 23, 2008

Filed under: reduce — terra @ 7:00 am

I love the Story of Stuff. George Carlin presents basically the same point… we need less stuff!

Beware – Carlin isn’t shy with words.

 

Voice Yourself May 19, 2008

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

Woody Harrelson has been inspired to start a site called Voice Yourself, aimed at encouraging people to learn more about getting off the grid, growing and eating organic food, and taking our planet back. Why?

Our mission at Voice Yourself is to connect you with others, to share information about alternatives biodiesel, sustainable clothing companies (i.e. hemp, organic cotton and bamboo) and to get clean and natural cleansers into your hands and homes this is only the beginning.

Woody was also inspired by Ted Danson (together, they’re Sam and Woody from possibly the best tv show ever – Cheers). Ted Danson does a lot of work for American Oceans Campaign, educating people about the atrocities of drift-netting, ocean trolling, and all the pollutants that are dumped into the ocean.

When you have little extra time on your hands, check out Voice Yourself, and learn more about some easy and fun ways to reduce your impact on the planet. Please don’t miss Woody’s Thoughts from Within. Even if you’re not a big fan of poetry, it’s truly moving.

 

Bike to work day May 14, 2008

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

Thursday is Bike to Work Day, so get on those 2-wheelers and get pedaling.

Actually, it’s Bike to Work Week, so any day will be great!

 

Video Friday: Garbage Island April 25, 2008

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

This was done by VBS, which seems to be an online educational/entertainment “channel.” It’s like reality TV, but actual reality.

plastic movie

Does anyone else recognize that yellow spray paint cap?

 

Guest Post: Earth Day at Hoban High School April 23, 2008

Filed under: conserve, education, energy, local, reduce, solar — terra @ 11:00 am

Today’s Guest Post comes from Matt Bryant, science teacher at Archbishop Hoban High School. He has done several projects with his students to measure energy use at Hoban, and then come up with ways to reduce excess energy use. Hoban participated in Lights Out Akron. Here is their story:

On Tuesday (Earth Day) this week I witnessed an amazing occurrence where I teach. The students, faculty, and staff at Archbishop Hoban High turned off their lights! The students in our environmental science classes have been working hard these past two years beefing up our aluminum can recycling, paper recycling and now raising awareness of our energy use (dare I say “waste?!”). In conjunction with the Lights Out Akron campaign, http://www.lightsoutakron.org/, the environmental science students (along with their intrepid teacher Mrs. Mohan) proposed that the school not only turn off unnecessary lights during the 8-9AM hour suggested by the Lights Out Akron campaign, but for the entire day. Teachers and staff were encouraged to open window blinds and turn off the lights they didn’t need for the day.

The best part was that everyone participated! As I walked the halls this morning with a local print news reporter, I saw EVERY classroom with the lights off or dimmed—no exceptions! The main office, athletic office, guidance office, business office, and institutional advancement had their lights off or dimmed too! I was extremely impressed at how willing our staff and students were to do without the normal lights to simply raise awareness of energy use. It seems we are entering a time of increased understanding of the importance of conservation and young people seem to be willing to change. When a teenager pays $3.50 for a gallon of gasoline, they immediately realize conservation is important for their wallet. When a teenager sees everyone in their school acknowledging the importance of energy conservation, they just might turn off the lights the next time they leave their bedroom at home.

On a more personal note: The students’ goal was a simple one: raise awareness of how much energy we use unnecessarily. I for one try to do my part by recycling at home, driving a fuel efficient car, bicycling to work on nice days, and adjusting my thermostat appropriately, but I’m not very good with my lights. Oh I have CFLs in virtually every fixture, but I still turn on the lights by habit when I walk into a room and leave them on too much when I leave. I do the same thing when I teach. Tuesday was different. I, and other teachers, realized that if the window blinds are open we might not need all the overhead lights on. I got by most of the day with no lights at all and about one-third of the lights on later in the day as the Earth rotated and the sunlight changed. I learned a lesson on Tuesday, one I intend to use at work and at home.

What did you learn on Earth Day this year?

Media Update: Akron Beacon Journal Story Here

 

UA Earth Day Wrap Up, pt. 2 April 22, 2008

Filed under: cars, education, energy, environment, local, recycle, reduce, social consciousness — terra @ 7:00 am

Keynote Speaker and “The Digital Dump”

I would love to highlight all the participants. One in particular was the keynote speaker. Dag Adamson came to Akron from Colorado, where he is the president of Lifespan Recycling. Lifespan Recycling handles technology recycling. Most products we buy come with planned obsolescence. Computer companies don’t build computers that will last 10 years, because they’d only get your money every 10 years. That’s not very profitable for them. So, they design computers that will be obsolete within 3-4 years. You can’t just buy a piece to upgrade it – you have to buy a whole new computer. They also don’t provide a way to safely dispose of computers. What has happened is that some people or organizations like the IRS and many universities send their computers to be “recycled.” What they don’t know is that the computers are sent to Africa. A majority of these computers don’t work, and many times, the data has not been erased! Your personal data could be on a computer in Africa.

So, Africa is left to dispose of our computers. Do they have some advanced technological processing center? No, they dump them in a field and when the pile gets too big, they set it on fire. The burning plastic runoff enters local streams and pollutes everything for years to come. It’s sinful! Africans deserve working computers. Computer companies should provide a way to safely dispose of computers. If you missed Dag’s speech, please check the UA Earth Day web page in the next few weeks. We plan to have a podcast of his speech.

If you haven’t seen it, you must see The Digital Dump. Here is a preview. The entire film (22 minutes) is available from The Basel Action Network, an organization dedicated to eliminating toxic trade.

Others

All of the participants were noteworthy. Students saw that there are other options besides the conventional way of doing things. This was Akron’s 2nd Earth Day, and I must say, the alternative energy and other educational booths were really eye-opening. Next year’s event will only be bigger and better!

Part 3 tomorrow…

 

UA Earth Day Wrap Up April 21, 2008

The University of Akron’s Earth Day “Do it now for the enviROOment” was last Wednesday. It was really a fantastic event, and generated a lot of student interest by showing practical renewable energy solutions. There was a wind turbine, 4 cars, a VegiTerranean food demo, bicycles, the Akron Metro RTA, a rain barrel, and so much more. The outside stage was powered by solar panels – Renewable energy in action!

Cars

IMG_9561It was so great to see the students checking out the electric cars. The Myers Motors NmG was featured, along with the Zenn electric car, and a self-converted Honda DelSol. Dr. Ross brought his biodiesel VW Beetle. It’s simply a diesel beetle which he runs on used vegetable oil from VegiTerranean.

I love the NmG from Myers Motors. It’s a one-person car, which is so practical. We all drive 5 person cars, but we only have 1 person in it for a majority of the time. Why not drive a 1 person car? And then have another car for family trips. Technology usually innovates to match our lifestyles, but continuing to make 5 person (or more) cars is one area where innovation has fallen away. It would make sense for each family to have a 1 person car, and a family car. Myers is currently working on new battery technology to make it run longer. They would also like to make a 2 person car.

I’ve never seen the Zenn electric car before. North Central Zenn brought their electric car. It was awesome! At $17,000, it’s the same price is a regular new car. The one displayed had a cloth roll-top. It seats 2 (very practical), and is designed for city driving. (The Zenn is pictured)

IMG_9619I loved the biodiesel VW Beetle. By using vegetable oil, he can operate his car cost-free. He simply separates particles from the oil and pours the pure oil into his car. Diesel engines were meant to run on vegetable oil, so this solution is so efficient. It’s a pure reuse. Instead of using ethanol, which comes from harvested plants, biodiesel reuses oil that normally would have to be processed.

Part 2 tomorrow…

 

The worst thing about tap water… April 11, 2008

Filed under: conserve, energy, environment, reduce, water — terra @ 11:30 am

… is that some “beverage company” executive discovered that he could put it in a plastic bottle and sell it to us at 1000% markup. Tap water is perfectly fine, until you mix it with the chemicals in plastic and put it on the shelves for people to buy (people who usually can’t afford it because they’re heading into a recession).

Bottled water gives the impression that is “clear, mountain spring water,” when it’s usually just tap water (infused with the chemicals that make plastic). I know, you don’t reuse your bottle, or leave it in the car. How long did it sit on the truck during transport? How long did it sit in the store? Not only is it just tap water, but some companies add other “flavors” to the water. One of those flavors is sodium, which makes you thirsty, so you buy more of their product.

It’s basically unregulated. Tap water is regulated by the EPA, which has offices in every state, nearly every county. Bottled water is supposed to be regulated by the FDA, but they rarely do inspections. So your bottled water may start as EPA-regulated tap water, but then the company adds their ingredients, puts it in plastic, and sells it to the trusting consumers.

Here’s the cycle of bottled water – Plastic is made from petroleum (could the rising cost of gas have anything to do with the 1.5 million barrels of oil it takes to make bottled water?). Then, the plastic is cooled with water – about 72 billion gallons of it every year (drought in the American south?). After the water bottle has been cooled with water, they add tap water, which is “flavored” by a company. Then, they truck it to stores, adding to the environmental cost, and sell it to people. People who could just drink their tap water.

Check into getting a Brita or Pur filter for your home and office. I recently brought one to work, and people were so happy. They don’t want to buy bottled water anymore. It’s expensive and wasteful. Take the first step… stop buying bottled water. Keep that money for yourself!

- Reader’s Digest had a great article about bottled water. Check it out.