Archive for November, 2007

VolksVegan – Another Vegetable Oil Powered Westy!

Posted in alternative fuel, biodiesel, clean energy, ethical consumerism, green energy, sustainability, transportation on November 30, 2007 by theseep


Sweet Camping Spot

Originally uploaded by meganpru
In planning our upcoming fossil-fuel-free roadtrip to Ft. Collins, CO and Salt Lake City, I’ve been scouring the web for help with finding vegetable oil while on the road and have come across not only another “Vegfalia” blog at Volksvegan.org, but their site pointed me to Fillup4Free.com, a growing database of VO coops, restaurants with WVO available, people and businesses with filtered WVO available, and others just using VO in their vehicles. It’s a fantastic resources for people trying to travel on vegetable oil.
Megan and Seneca, the VolksVegan folks have some incredible photos and some fantastic posts about their travels on vegetable oil. It’s great to see others dedicating themselves towards sustainability.
Nice work guys!

Advertisements

The S.E.E.P.’s Green/Eco-friendly Holiday Gift Guide

Posted in conservation, ethical consumerism, recycling, sustainability on November 26, 2007 by theseep

After “Black Friday”/”Buy Nothing Day”, and now “Cyber Monday”, we enter the mainstream holiday shopping period. Hopefully, as climate change and peak oil become more real, consumers will begin to think about the true costs of the various trinkets and mass-produced goods that we buy. As a nation, we no longer produce, we import, and as we have recently seen, many of these imports are poorly regulated, sending toxic toys into the hands of our youths. But never fear, if you’re not into giving your friends lead-tainted, petrol-based crap made in sweatshops and shipped around the world, wasting fossil fuels and undermining American jobs, there are many other options out there!Donate: You can buy an amazing array of animals, supplies, and other helpful items for 3rd world villages through Oxfam or Heifer International, or adopt a child through Save the Children. To make sure that your money is going to the right place and your charities are run efficiently and properly, check out CharityNavigator.org for reviews.

Offset: Buy CO2 offsets for friends and family through Terrapass (for profit) or Carbonfund (non-profit).

Reuse: Check out craigslist, freecycle, and ebay for used items that can still be a thoughtful gift, and don’t forget your local thrift shops! Also check out make, readymade, and instructables for fun projects that can recycle your old stuff into fun gifts.

Online Gifts: A digital iTunes gift certificate can get your loved one some sweet melodies and not use a single piece of paper, no CDs, no jewel cases, no fuel for delivery. Just the electrons going to your computer! Amazon.com has a digital music store as well with gift certificates available, offering up DRM-free tunes for download.

Buy Responsibly: If you’re can’t find that perfect non-consumer gift, there are plenty of responsible options out there as well. Try to find fair-trade and local goods when possible. With fair trade, you have confidence that the workers that produced what you’re buying are getting paid a reasonable wage and are not subjected to sweat shop conditions. Since we live in central CA, a good local bottle of wine, especially organic, is the perfect tasty gift. Ten Thousand Villages imports fair-trade crafts from around the world and more and more online retailers like Greenfeet, Gaiam, 3rLiving, and are targeting the green crowd with a lot of eco-friendly options. We’re huge Patagonia fans as well, where you’ll find responsibly and well-made clothing for the outdoors and indoors, they’ve been using organic cotton, hemp, and recycled PET for years and even have an underwear recycling program! Their new eco-conscious wetsuit is on my holiday list (R3 model, size XLS if you’re wondering). Prana, Timberland, and Simple (I have a pair of the Green Toe “Toemorrows” and they’re fantastic) are other companies that have reworked their business practices in response to the current state of our planet’s health. Outdoor gear retailer Backcountry.com has a new page called “The Green Goat” that spotlights all of their green offerings.  Method is our favorite eco-friendly cleaning supply company that serves up non-toxic, naturally scented, designer products for most of your home scouring needs. Also, a quick and easy stocking stuffer is a steel water bottle (and here) to fight the “bottled water environmental catastrophe” (here, here, and here) that we have fallen prey to.

Get Them What They Want: Although I’d hope that most people these days would be stoked to receive one of the aforementioned ideas as a socially conscious gift, some people might not be as receptive to the concept. Our culture still has a long way to go to let go of the consumerist traditions that have been cultivated since WWII, but that doesn’t mean that they deserve coal in their stockings. I think that one of the easiest ways to avoid waste this holiday season without offending some, is to find out what they really need and/or want, and get them that. Then you’re sure they’ll like it and use it, and it won’t be thrown away (or hopefully recycled) to make room for next year’s unwanted presents.

There are many more responsible options available, Treehugger has their holiday gift guides up as well for more ideas. Feel free to post your favorites!

Happy Holidays to all!

Noon Solar Releases Solar Messenger Bags

Posted in clean energy, ethical consumerism, green energy, recycling, solar, sustainability on November 26, 2007 by theseep

While these aren’t the first solar backpack/messenger bag offerings, the new offerings from Noon Solar are the most stylish that I’ve seen so far. They are constructed of “Bavarian sourced, chrome-free, naturally tanned and dyed, full-grain cowhide leather and naturally dyed hemp cotton blend.” Sorry for the vegans in the crowd, but Voltaic has a solar backpack and messenger bag offering made of recycled PET as a more eco-friendly but not quite so chic option. Then again, when have I ever been into chic?  Both Noon’s and Voltaic’s designs integrate a battery and charger into the bag, allowing you to charge your various gadgets on the fly with nothing but photons from the skies.  Either would be an expensive but relatively environmentally conscious and useful holiday present!

via Engadget

More Insights Into The Cost of Smoking + bonus rant

Posted in conservation, ethical consumerism, healthcare, politics, sustainability on November 21, 2007 by theseep

Also, see “Some Insights Into The Costs of Smoking.”

Besides the fact that smoking causes more deaths per year than AIDS, homicide, suicide, heroin, cocaine, alcohol, auto accidents, and fire deaths combined, this video shows the amount of tar inhaled into your lungs smoking a pack a day for 20 days 7.2 grams, the volume of about 2 charcoal briquettes.

Imagine the tar/dust from 2-3 briquettes coating your lungs every month for years. Imagine that every pack causes irreversible hardening of all of the arteries of your body, promoting the formation of fibrinous plaques that rupture, sending cascades of clot-activating protein into the small arteries of your heart and brain, causing early heart attacks and stroke. Imagine the inflammation from your immune system trying desperately to remove the tar and inactivate cancer-causing free radicals. Oxygen-exchanging alveoli are broken down, intima is thickened, and smooth muscles spasm, causing COPD and emphysema, which becomes progressively irreversible. While you are breaking down your own lungs, causing your cancer, and contributing to your future stroke and heart attack, the second-hand smoke does the same thing to your friends, your family, and your children.

The average healthcare costs of a smoker are 40% higher than the average person and an additional 40,000-60,000 cardiac deaths per year are due to exposure to environmental tobacco. According to the CDC, smoking accounts for about 87% percent of lung cancer deaths and 30% of all cancer deaths. How is this legal? How do we allow the tobacco corporations to cater and market to the poorest subsection of our population, those who work the hardest and utilize the most tax-funded healthcare dollars? By not holding the companies accountable, we are actually subsidizing the profits of tobacco companies. By not holding the smoker responsible for their lifestyle choices, we allow them to draw far more than their share of healthcare funding, thereby subsidising their tobacco habits as well.

Here’s my proposal, and I realize that this is just rough math leaving out many variables. If there are 44.5 million smokers in America with healthcare costs directly attributable to smoking topping 50 147 billion heathcare dollars per year, with 30 billion packs of cigarettes sold in the U.S. every year, that works out to about $3.08 $6.50 per pack of cigarettes. We simply add this $6.50 as a tax to each pack of cigarettes that will go directly to pay for the projected heathcare costs that smoking that individual pack will incur. Of course, for our healthcare and public assistance programs to work, many more things need to be done, like making healthcare as an industry not-for-profit (single-payer could work as well, but this is easier), initiating tort reform with penalties for frivolous lawsuits (both of the aforementioned mean campaign reform and eliminating lobbyist favors/contributions/bribery), and instituting personal accountability for lifestyle choices. Let’s get some people in Washington that have the integrity and moral fortitude to question and challenge the status quo. Let’s start doing the right things for the right reasons and hold both corporations and individuals accountable for the true costs of their actions, socially and environmentally.

Anyone up for it? Dennis Kucinich? Barack? Stewart and Colbert?

via Gizmodo

The Beginning of the Next Evolution of Humankind Through Technology

Posted in healthcare on November 15, 2007 by theseep

  Humanity has stopped evolving. To be more precise, we have stopped progressing forward in a traditional  evolutionary sense and thanks to medical technology and cultural constructs, we are actually de-evolving in certain ways. The unfortunate but simple truth is that Darwinism has been defeated by modern science. No longer do the strongest and most intelligent survive, we now keep alive the weak and ill and due to both technology and social constructs less desirable genes and traits are passed along more and more. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be doing these things, I am simply pointing out how technology has altered natural environmental pressures and we should expect to eventually see physiologic and physical changes in humanity as a result. Besides altering natural evolution, we are also developing our own version of evolution through technology. We have seen a melding of humankind and machine for years in Sci-Fi books, movies, and television shows and are there more and more evidence that this could represent the future direction of the human race. We have already made significant progress in cyborg technology – prosthetic limbs, cochlear implants, eye implants, exoskeletons (and here), and other advancements. One of my favorite tech blogs, Engadget, has had a recent few posts that show some of the newer developments – targeted muscle reinnervation for prosthetic limbs to allow better control, and a brain implant that should allow a patient to speak again through a computer. Both DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Research Project) and Segway inventor, Dean Kamen have developed prosthetic arm prototypes that are revolutionary with incredible dexterity thus far unsurpassed function for a robotic limb. The next 100 years will certainly be interesting for humanity – climate change, peak oil, superbugs, technoevolution, and who knows what else?

Femtosecond Lasers May Save Us From Superbugs

Posted in healthcare on November 14, 2007 by theseep

 On November 1st, the Institute of Physics published an article describing the use of specialized femtosecond laser pulses to destroy viruses and bacteria while leaving human cells unscathed. Using a process called Impulsive Stimulated Raman Scattering (ISRS), lethal vibrations are produced in the protein coat of microbes similar to an opera singer shattering a glass with her voice. Supposedly by modulating wavelengths and frequency, human cells are not damaged by the laser. If this research comes to fruition and can be developed further, we may have our next wave of high-tech “antibiotic” treatment. Since we’re currently manufacturing “superbugs” through overuse of antibiotics, we’re going to have more and more difficulty finding chemical cures for these wee beasties and this type of therapy just might save our skins. This is truly a groundbreaking news and could revolutionize the way we treat infections – imagine getting a 30 minute laser treatment for pneumonia instead of being admitted to the hospital on 10 days of antibiotics!

Via Engadget

Vegfalia Hits 300,000 Miles, Last 4,000 Without Petrol

Posted in alternative fuel, biodiesel, clean energy, conservation, ethical consumerism, green energy, recycling, sustainability, transportation on November 12, 2007 by theseep

We’ve just passed a fantastic milestone in any vehicle – the 300,000 mile mark.  Although the Vegfalia has only run 1% of these miles on biodiesel and veggie oil thus far, we’re hoping for many more miles out of her. In today’s disposable society, conservation is still the easiest and best way to protect our resources, and taking care of and preserving an older vehicle can still be more eco-friendly than getting a new one when you factor in the energy and materials required to build it. Granted, driving around a poorly-tuned 1975 smoke belcher isn’t what we’re talking about and at that point you could probably upgrade to something more efficient. Don’t forget, if you have a favorite vintage frame that you’re still in love with keeping alive, you can always consider converting it to electric.