Is it Easy Being Green?

My daily adventures in attempting an environmentally-friendly lifestyle

Beautiful green thing #8 November 8, 2010

Since it’s been so long since I last posted (no, this blog is not dead!), I thought it would be best to crank up the blog again with a beautiful green thing. Ever since the Gulf oil disaster, I’ve been generally in an eco-funk, feeling pretty down on the state of our world. But when I find out about something like the Windowfarms Project, it turns things around for me just enough that I remember the ability of the human mind to come up with innovative solutions, and the nature of humans to form community and work toward good.

The Windowfarms Project started out as a couple of women who wanted to grow food in their tiny NYC apartments. They came up with a way to grow food in an apartment window with hydroponics and used plastic bottles. The system worked, and they started sharing it with others while also creating a community where people could improve upon the system and continue to make it better. Just one year after posting the instructions on how to build a windowfarm, 13,000 people have downloaded them and are participating in their online community.

It might seem like a small thing to do–grow a little food in your home–but that’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it? Instead of waiting around for industry to move forward with urban agriculture efforts like large-scale vertical farming, the Windowfarms Project pioneers moved forward themselves. They took some steps to live healthier and lighter on the planet, and with the power of the Internet and community, grew an idea into a worldwide movement that helps get local, fresh produce to urban dwellers.

 

Beautiful Green Thing #7 March 2, 2010

Filed under: beautiful green things,Green Foodie — isgreeneasy @ 12:24 pm
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To go along with the food theme of my last post, here’s a lovely little animated video that highlights the beauty of local food. A project for the 100 Mile Diet Society, the narrator visits several local food producers (as well as her own garden) to learn about and appreciate the ingredients she’s using to make a simple meal of pasta and salad in Vancouver, BC. It’s an adorable video with charming animation, but most importantly it shows the benefits and the connections that can be made when using local ingredients, getting to know who produces the food and sharing that beauty through a family meal.

 

Beautiful Green Thing #6 August 25, 2009

IMG_0153After it sat in a pile of periodicals for quite some time, I finally got around to flipping through the summer 09 Nature Conservancy magazine. I’m really glad I did get around to reading it because I came across a very cool project that TNC did called “Design for a Living World“. TNC invited 10 designers to create products made from sustainable materials from around the world. The website states that “Design for a Living World asks us to think about the products we use–where they come from, how they are made and the impacts they have on our planet.”

The designers traveled to far-off destinations to learn about the materials and the people who harvest them. They came up with some pretty fascinating (if not always practical) results that provide both the opportunity to appreciate the aesthetic aspect, but also learn about the materials in a unique way. The website supports this project well with really nice design and descriptions. Check it out and enjoy!

 

Beautiful Green Thing #5 May 19, 2009

soyeonlee-090213110623When I came across the news that pianist Soyeon Lee’s new cd is made of reused potato chip bags, it reminded me of the cool things that the company TerraCycle is doing. TerraCycle has found ways to reuse a number of items that would normally become garbage (because they can’t be recycled) and turn them into bags, school supplies, office items and now, cds!

TerraCycle started out as a worm composting company, but has evolved into much more. While they still make their worm poop fertilizer, they also sell cleaners, bird feeders, rain barrels and fire logs, all of which are in reused bottles and boxes.

They also involve the public in their eco-capitalist efforts through several projects. TerraCycle invites groups to sign-up for a “brigade” to donate wrappers and in exchange receive money (usually about $.02 per wrapper) to donate to a school or non-profit organization. The packaging is then “upcycled” into a variety of fun items like backpacks and notebooks. There’s a Cookie Brigade, Energy Bar Brigade, Drink Pouch Brigade, and even a Cork Brigade (I need to look into that one because I’ve been saving corks for months without knowing what to do with them). It looks like TerraCycle has partnered with several companies like Clif Bar, Kashi and Frito-Lay for the collection and upcycling efforts. Just about anyone can sign up and once approved, they send free shipping supplies to help get you started.

Now of course I have to interject that the goal should be to not have any of this non-recyclable stuff around at all. But, it appears that drink pouches and chip bags are here for the indefinite future so why not do something creative and useful with them? I have a drink pouch lunch box and it’s quite the conversation piece. These upcycled products may help open people’s eyes to the possibilities of using our resources creatively and wisely. And maybe we’ll change the perception of what “waste” really is.

 

Beautiful Green Thing #4 March 31, 2009

Filed under: beautiful green things — isgreeneasy @ 5:06 pm
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You may have heard that last week, the First Lady, the White House Horticulturist, White House kitchen staff and 23 5th graders broke ground for what will be the White House Kitchen Garden. The 1,100-square foot site will include spinach, broccoli, sugar snap peas, carrots, herbs, collard greens and more. Check out the layout. I hear there won’t be any beets–the President doesn’t like them. I guess I’ll let that slide.

Mrs. Obama is doing a wonderful thing by starting this garden. She’s making a statement about the importance of healthy, local food as well as the ability of many of us to grow at least some of our own food. We can save money, decrease the food industry’s huge impact on the environment and enjoy the benefits of flavorful, colorful, fresh food. The garden is near the girls’ swing set. In the midst of hard times beautiful things can happen. This is one of them.

The First Lady and elementary school kids break ground for the new White House Kitchen Garden.

The First Lady and elementary school kids break ground for the new White House Kitchen Garden.

Mrs. Obama and the kids work on preparing the soil for the garden.

Mrs. Obama and the kids work on preparing the soil for the garden.

 

Beautiful Green Thing #3 March 18, 2009

Filed under: beautiful green things — isgreeneasy @ 8:36 pm
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Love design. Love green. When the two come together, it’s a beautiful thing. Greener Gadgets has just had a competition for designing green electronics and the competitors came up with some amazing concepts. Here are a few:

BugPlug is an energy-saving gadget that has a built-in motion sensor, turning off all connected devices (through powerstrips) when it detects no motion. And it’s so cute!

bugplug

Fastronauts are toys that will power lights, sounds, speedometer and odometer in response to a child pedaling their bike.

fastronauts

This indoor drying rack is made of bamboo and recycled aluminum and is designed for apartment dwellers or anyone for whom drying clothes outside isn’t an option. It folds up so it’s out of the way when not in use.

dryingrack

Lightimus is a decorative solar-powered lamp. One side has solar panels that can collect sunlight during the day, and the other side is composed of LED lights that can be used at night.

lightimus

See many more green gadget designs!

 

Beautiful Green Thing #2 March 3, 2009

A couple of weeks ago I visited the Garfield Park Conservatory for the first time and attended their “Sweet Saturdays” event. What fun! While enjoying the surroundings, I walked around and stopped at stations positioned throughout the garden where volunteers would talk about, show examples of and share samples of sweets that grow right there. I sampled multiple forms of chocolate, candied ginger, honey, coffee, and cinnamon candy. Cinnamon comes from the bark of a tree? Vanilla comes from an orchid plant? Who knew? This event was such a great way to draw connections among the things that we eat and where they come from. And I realized I still have much more to learn.

The conservatory was far more impressive in size and variety of plants than I expected, and I enjoyed my brief time out of winter and into this fantasy world of green. I was thrilled to see glass lily pads in the pond by artist Dale Chihuly. It was peaceful, warm and lush. This is my beautiful green thing of the week.

View across the conservatory

View across the conservatory

waterfall

waterfall

gorgeous flowers

gorgeous flowers

Chihuly lily pads

Chihuly lily pads

Lily pads close-up

Lily pads close-up