Nikola would be Proud

TeslaLet’s face it; the new Tesla Roadster is sexy. It’s damn sexy. It does 0 to 60 in less than 4 seconds, and can go about 220 miles on a single charge. That’s almost a trip from the dealer in LA to the Bellagio in Vegas.

The Tesla has zero emissions, zero motor oil and only one moving part in the watermelon sized motor. That means no lubricating oils, filters, coolant, clutches, spark plugs and wires, a PCV valve, oxygen sensors, a timing belt, a fan belt, a water pump and hoses, a catalytic converter, a muffler, etc – all items requiring regular service. And that little motor is so efficient! It’s 85-95 % efficient at converting electric energy to rotational energy instead of heat. This way the precious stored energy of the battery ends up propelling you down the road instead of just heating up the trunk.

Speaking of stored energy, can you say regenerative braking? It recovers and stores the energy usually lost when you slow down, extending your battery charge even further, and delivering higher miles-per-charge on in-town driving. Whenever you slow down, you send a charge back into the battery making traffic lights a little less annoying. But just a little.

The battery can be charged from completely dead to full in about 3.5 hours. Most people won’t drain the battery though because it’s just so easy to plug it in every night like your cell phone to let it charge. And if you happen to be away from home; you just take your mobile charging kit out and you can plug into any standard outlet. Even with the demands of charging and discharging the battery pack on a daily basis, the batteries in the Tesla will give you more than 100,000 miles of peak performance driving. After that point, the battery will see only gradual drops in performance over time.

More fun perks:

* Single-occupancy access to all carpool lanes
* Income tax credit (awaiting new legislation)
* A luxury car that’s fully exempt from the luxury car tax
* Free parking at charging stations at LAX
* No parking meter fees in an increasing number of major metropolitan area

Now I could spout off numbers and specs at you all day to tell you how awesome this car is, or you can test drive one in LA. I’ll meet you there.

How Much Food Do You Waste?

According to the NYT Week In Review from May 18, 2008, approximately 27% of all food available for consumption in the United States ends up in a landfill. Conflicting reports from the EPA suggest that food waste is either 12% off all waste in the US, or 6.7% (PDF) depending on the data source, which accounts for at least 14 million tons of the total waste generated annually. I know that even eating leftovers and bringing home extra food from restaurants doesn’t always result in a “clean plate” at my house, but we’re trying. Are you on the high or the low side of adding 1 pound of food waste a day? What strategies do you use to keep food waste to a minimum?

Residential Backyard Wind Generator

Residential Wind Generator

Putting one of those giant wind turbines in my backyard has never seemed like a great idea – aside from the zoning issues, they just aren’t very attractive. A couple of small 400W wind generators like the one pictured here are far more to my liking. They wouldn’t be enough to power the electric heater in my home, but they would provide some light and handle some of the other basic power needs. The Air X Wind Generator charges 12V batteries providing an effective remote power source. The system is smart enough to automatically shut down when your battery reaches full capacity, extending the life of the unit. Best of all the price (minus a mounting tower) is just under $600, which should mean the units will get even cheaper over time. Two moving parts on the entire unit mean you hopefully will avoid needing any maintenance for the 3 year warranty period. I haven’t seen any data to indicate whether these are a threat to birds the way the industrial sized units tend to be, but I’m definitely interested in a sustainable way to have some reserve power. More details at SunForce.

What is FSC Certification for Flooring?

When I looked at installing flooring in my new house, I wanted hardwood, not the engineered floors sold at Lowe’s or Home Depot. I also wanted something that came from a fairly sustainable source of wood with low environmental impact. I ended up choosing Vida Grandis Eucalyptus Grandis, which is an Argentinian wood that is harvested and processed in a way that’s meant to be both good for the local economy and the environment. It comes with a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification and is slightly harder than teak wood.

The Forest Stewardship Council certifies forests based on the way they are managed and maintained, to make sure there’s a plan for continued maintenance of the forest over a period of years, including wildlife and local culture protections. According to the FSC:

FSC accredited, independent, “third-party” certification bodies or “certifiers” certify forests. They assess forest management using the FSC principles, criteria, and standards, each certifier uses their own evaluative process. This allows FSC to remain outside of the assessment process, and supports the integrity of the standard, and of the FSC system. Certifiers evaluate both forest management activities (forest certification) and tracking of forest products (chain-of-custody certification). There are 12 FSC-accredited certifiers around the globe.

You can read more about the certification speicfics here.

Major League Baseball Covers its Bases

It’s baseball season! There’s nothing like heading out and watching your favorite team out on the green. This year, things are getting even greener for Major League Baseball.

The Team Greening Program, a collaboration of Major League Baseball and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), will provide to each Club an individualized NRDC Team Greening Advisor for Major League Baseball, which is a web-based software tool featuring advice and resources for every aspect of a Club’s operations. This unprecedented program, more than two years in development, will expand on the industry’s best practices, offering specific local advice concerning such topics as

  • Adopting an official environmental policy
  • Incorporating environmental language into contracts, purchasing policies and requests for proposals that specify preferences for environmentally sound products and services
  • Encouraging the use of renewable energy
  • Providing information about how to credibly offset the carbon emissions related to team and fan transportation
  • Using post-consumer recycled content paper for all paper product
  • Implementing paper reduction strategies in offices
  • Offsetting the environmental impact of up to half team and employee travel
  • Establishing Club eco-committee

Some of the local teams around here are way ahead of the game already. The SF Giants use 600 solar panels to power AT&T Park and feed back to the grid when the stadium’s use is low. Plus, its hi-def, LED scoreboard is sharper than the old one and uses 78% less energy. The Oakland A’s home, McAfee Coliseum, serves up its nachos and drinks in biodegradable cups, utensils, and containers, and sorts everything (food scraps too) for composting. That makes that $7 drink go down so much smoother.

Oil Really Does Grow on Trees

I’ve always been an advocate of alternate transportation instead of driving around in your car. It’s dirty and expensive. I mean, oil doesn’t grow on tress. Oh wait, yes it does.

The Brazilian Copaifera langsdorfii can be tapped like a maple tree for a natural diesel that needs only to be filtered before it can go into diesel trucks and tractors. Purdue University says that an acre of 100 mature trees might be able to produce 25 barrels of fuel per year and the trees give up the good stuff  for up to 70 years. The US uses about 7.3 billion barrels of oil a year, which equals 292 million trees which is about 3 million acres of land needed to keep up with our needs.

That’s a lot of trees. But hey, we need to plant more trees to reduce the carbon emissions of the cars anyway. It’s just a shame that it takes 15-20 years for the trees to reach maturity and the oil it produces is only good for 3 months.

The Copaifera langsdorfii probably isn’t the most practical solution to our oil problems, but I’m sure it would help out if anyone would do anything about it.

Environmental Laws Tossed Aside to Build a Fence

Homeland Security announced today that they will waive federal environmental laws in order to finish building 670 miles of border fence by the end of the year. Needless to say, the 2 waivers are highly controversial with environmentalist and border communities who are concerned about the damage to the land and wildlife.

Brian Segee, an attorney with Defenders of Wildlife, said, “It’s dangerous, it’s arrogant, it’s going to have pronounced environmental impacts and it won’t do a thing to address the problems of undocumented immigrants or address border security problems. It’s an incredibly simplistic and ineffective approach to complex problems.”
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has called the waivers a last resort, and department officials say the agency is committed to minimizing the impacts to the environment and wildlife and that many of the 470 miles have already undergone environmental review.

“If that was true, the waivers wouldn’t be necessary,” Segee countered. I completely agree.

The Republicans, however, are thrilled. “It’s great. This is the priority area where most of the illegal activity is going on and where most of the deaths are occurring,” said Rep. Brian P. Bilbray (R-Solana Beach), chairman of the Immigration Reform Caucus. “The quicker we can get the physical fence up, the sooner we’ll avoid situations like the deaths of agents. And it’s still a national security issue. You just have to stop this kind of open traffic along the border.”

Yeah, because Mexicans are causing so much trouble in our country. And I’m sorry, did he just say that the lives of Americans were more important that the lives of Mexicans? That’s what it sounded like to me. Anyway, putting up a fence only where most of the traffic is coming through won’t help at all. What’s to stop them from coming across somewhere else? And what about the land and wildlife such as the ocelot, whose mating habits may be affected?

I guess they’ll do whatever it takes to stop the illegal immigrants, even if it means destroying the environment.

“Go Green” on the Silver Screen

I went to see a movie this weekend and noticed something wonderful. Instead of some stupid commercials and tv previews before the actual movie previews, Screenvision is airing “Go Green,” an environmentally-conscious themed preshow designed to help consumers understand how easy it can be to lead a “greener” life. “Go Green” will air on more than 7,000 screens nationwide, from March 28, 2008 to April 24, 2008.

Featuring a guest appearance by actress, author and activist Aisha Tyler, the “Go Green” preshow will also feature Dave Schlafman’s “Sky is Falling,” the winning short from the Alliance for Climate Protection’s and Current TV’s “:60 Seconds to Save the Earth” Ecospot Contest. Additionally, it will include the Alliance for Climate Protection’s public service announcement “Black Balloons.” “Black Balloons,” with voice-over support from Academy Award-winning actor Tommy Lee Jones, demonstrates easy ways to help reduce global warming while saving money.

Airing “Go Green” on the big screen was a genius move that will reach thousands of viewers who, hopefully, will awaken unto a greener lifestyle and become advocates to our worldly cause. It might even inspire teenagers to think about more than themselves and do something to help the planet that they will inherit. We can only hope.

Make Your Own Cleaner

Making an all natural, all purpose cleaner is as easy as 1-2-3. Plus it’s good for you and the environment because it doesn’t contain harsh chemicals. This video says it all; no need to take notes. For more do-it-yourself cleaner recipes click here.

Here Comes the Sun

sun1.JPGI love living next to the beach. The sand, the surf(ers) and the sun. It’s the sun part that I love and worry about the most. I know better than to leave my apartment without protecting my face and skin from harmful UV rays, but I hate the weird smell and skin irritation that I get from all of those chemicals. Plus, the typical sunscreen chemical Parsol 1789 has been linked to cancer, liver damage, and Parkinson’s disease. That’s kind of counter productive if you ask me.

Luckily Juice Beauty offers a full spectrum, spf 30 sunscreen using titanium dioxide. It’s a light weight, chemical free, 3 in 1 product that protects, moisturizes, and is lightly tinted to eliminate any white sheen from the titanium dioxide.

Dr. Hauschka has a water resistant spf 15 sunscreen that also uses titanium dioxide and has quince seed oil and shea butter as moisturizers.

The use of titanium dioxide or zinc in sunscreen is just as effective as regular sunscreens without any harsh chemicals polluting your body. So don’t be afraid to enjoy the sun. With a natural sunscreen to back you up, you stay wrinkle and toxin free.

« Previous Entries