China’s been under such fire lately. People are pulling out of the Beijing Olympic games right and left because of the country’s pollution issues or alleged contributions to the Darfur crisis. It seems we’re also bombarded with constant reports of Chinese manufactured lead-based toys that endanger children. But not I’m going to talk about any of that. I’m only sharing happy thoughts here as I shine the good light on one of the world’s oldest and most fascinating civilizations.
While the Chinese may not care about kids eating poisoned paint (wait — I wasn’t going to talk about that), they care a lot about the Tibetan antelope. And the rare species, which is found exclusively in China’s Tibet-Qinghai region, not has not been doing well since the late 20th Century. This medium-sized bovid, who also goes by the name of chiru, is a gregarious animal that has a life span of about eight years.
Green is what comes to mind when I think of Ireland. Usually in terms of the landscape rather than energy, but that vision may change soon. Along the Emerald Isle’s east coast, the town of Dundalk has been charged with finding renewable energy that can be scaled up to meet the needs of larger populations.
It all starts with a 1.5 square-mile Sustainable Energy Zone, where experiments to both conserve old and create new energy are taking place. The project is funded in part by the European Union and is designed to find pilot projects that work and can be realistically expanded. Only two other towns — one in Austria and one in Switzerland – are involved in the program.
To some people, stylish and cool are the same thing. Of course, the primary definition of “cool” is temperature-based and not an oft-used slang for “hip”.
But this European Q-shaped fan manages to qualify for all definitions and might even help to inspire a couple of new ones. Its stylish design is cool looking and — by virtue of it being a fan — it keeps you cool. Created by Swiss designer Carlo Borer, this 14.2-inch diameter aluminum and stainless steel fan will keep air flowing in your house while remaining an aesthetically pleasing fixture wherever you put it.
What’s the difference between a woman with a great sense of style and one who’s eco-conscious? Absolutely nothing. That’s the premise behind the Toggery Collection by Kate D’Arcy. The up and coming eco-chic designer makes living the “G” lifestyle look good. She describes her line as a blend of contemporary design made with environmentally responsible fabrics.
And Speaking of fabrics, Kate incorporates organic cotton and sustainable dyes into all of her collection. She even gives back to her home state of Pennsylvania by having all of the fabrics she uses sewn and dyed there.
Her designs are available in a variety of colors and styles. You can go with a casual earth tone tank top and jeans in the daytime and then shine in a bright mini-dress in the eveniung. I’m digging the “Cristobal” elbow sleeve capelet made from 100% organic cotton fleece. Then there’s the “Kathleen” dress made from 100% organic Supima cotton. In case you’re wondering (like I was), Supima is an abbreviation for Superior Pima.
The next person who whines about the complications of recycling is going to get an earful from me. Not about how recycling is an important responsibility, or how each of their cans, bottles, newspapers, etc. can make a difference – or about what a moron they must be – but about the fact that there’s a fancy new solution to their eco-incompetence.
To be fair, if there is a complicated aspect to recycling (and I said “if”), it surrounds plastics. As you know, there are various types, and not all them can be recycled. But you should also be able to figure out that every plastic container has a recycling symbol on it with number inside. And knowing which numbers can be recycled and which can’t is easy for you to research. Simply check online with your local recycling facilities – either the ones that come to your house to empty your bins (try your neighborhood sanitation department if you have no clue where to begin searching) or the places you go to drop off your cans, bottles, plastics, etc.
While two-time solar champs, the University of Colorado, didn’t win last year’s Solar Decathlon held in Washington, D.C. with their CORE house, they did place 7th. Is that good enough for these decathletes? Maybe not, but their house is definitely worth talking about. And here’s to hoping they come back in 2009 to kick some more solar ass.
Like many of the designs at the SD, the spine of CORE is made up of shipping containers for ease in transportation and size requirements of the competition — which is about 800 square feet, much smaller than a typical home.
If you’re a regular follower of the Design section here on G Living, you’re probably aware of my shipping container obsession. These 32,000 pound containers, which decades ago shipped everything from furniture to clothes overseas, are now all sitting around taking up space.
Except, of course, for those that are being used to build disaster relief shelters or affordable housing, like this 1,920 square foot three-container structure in Atlanta. What this place shows is one of the many outside-the-box design possibilities for these recycled containers Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos
In the unlikelihood of Sandra Bullock losing her title as America’s Sweetheart (it could happen — look at Meg Ryan) and somehow blowing through the zillions of dollars she’s made, she might be able to jumpstart a new career as a green advisor.
You don’t believe me? You would if you’d seen her on Oprah promoting Earth Day. Sandra, who says she only uses organic or homemade cleaners, gave a terrifically informative walk-thru of ordinary household items that can be used in place of chemical-filled or pricey green cleaning products. And unlike a lot of celebrities, who always sound like they’re reciting from a script when they talk about global issues, Sandra seems to know her stuff.
Laundry is just one of those things you can’t avoid. Sure, you can ignore it for a while, but the pile will continue to grow, and eventually you’ll be faced with an emergency situation. No matter how you look at it, the laundry will win out in the end – which means you’re better off facing it head on.
Part of my problem is the seeming waste of resources: all the water that’s used up, the gas that heats the dryer, the electricity, etc. But as they say: baby steps. Even one simple change can have a big impact. I do have to admit, though, that I’m a user of dryer sheets. And I also have to fess up to the fact that until recently – despite all my moaning about resources and waste – it never occurred to me that after I throw them away, those seemingly innocuous sheets end up in a landfill – and coat my clothes with carcinogens like benzyl acetate, limonene, and chloroform.
Since Chicago has taken great strides toward becoming a greener city, it seems a good place to find architects to design headquarters for the world’s greenest city.
I’m referring to Masdar, the $22 billion development in Abu Dhabi, which is the world’s first ever zero-carbon, zero-waste and zero car city. The Chicago architecture firm of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill has been chosen to design “the world’s first positive energy, mixed-use building”, which promises to be “the first building in history to generate power for its own assembly, through development of its solar roof pier before the underlying complex.” Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos
Sixty years ago, a landmark novel changed the way the world looked at government. The novel depicted a dystopian — the opposite of utopian — society in which everything a person did from birth until death was monitored by neighbors (especially children), ubiquitous video monitors and a Gestapo-style police force.
The book? 1984, by George Orwell, was meant to serve as a warning against the world’s love affair with socialism, especially in England after World War II.
The reason I bring it up? Monsanto, the world’s largest seed producer, has adopted the role of Big Brother in the farm world, spying on farmers, using its multi-national bulk to intimidate farmers and squeeze dry anyone who even thinks of violating Monsanto’s planting rules.
Here’s one from the strange solutions category. Folks in Nairobi, Kenya are cleaning up their slums, putting people to work and providing free cooking and cleaning services by burning garbage. Skeptical? Me, too until I learned more.
The slums around Nairobi, where nearly 60% of the population live, suffer some of the worst living conditions in the world because city government does not recognize them as formal settlements and therefore does not extend any services like water, sewer, or garbage collection. So, what happens to the trash? It gets thrown in the street and nearby watercourses, creating a toxic environment where families wash clothes and children play.
That’s where “Firebox” Francis Gwehonah comes in. The self-taught incinerator man has designed a machine that burns so hot it destroys toxic chemicals that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. The heat from burning the garbage provides free cooking services for neighborhoods and hot water for washing clothes and other sanitation. Long term plans also include purifying drinking water for local residents — a much needed commodity.