Week 8 “Tiny Houses”

Apr 14 2014 • Posted by

Hey all,

So this week has been a busy one. Wednesday I ventured to New Bedford for the Ocean Explorium “Solar Decathalon” event. The event was a showcase of a team building a unique solar home that would compete in an event overseas. It was interesting to see the team of young women from Brown University explain their home, which claimed a 90% energy efficiency and a design that promotes the use of solar for the changing seasons in France, where the competion will be held.

This inspired me a bit. We watched “The End of Suburbia at this week’s team meeting.  Since I’m studying Urban Sociology, I was already quite aware of how problematic our suburbs are, particularly in their energy consumption. I had to wonder where our motivation for a big house, big yard, and fancy cars came from. No doubt the prevalence of suburbia enforced these desires, but I can’t come to terms with them considering their impact.  I have begun looking at alternative ways to live.

I have discovered the tiny house movement, which promotes small houses that are sustainable and efficient for heat and energy use. Obviously the smaller the house, the easier it is to heat/power. Responding to the issue that suburbs present will require a re-assessment of our most basically held assumptions about a desired life, especially if we want a sustainable future. Here’s a link to an article about tiny houses

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26964724

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A Positive Outlook

Apr 01 2014 • Posted by

Sometimes I get overwhelmed when I think about the impact everyone has on the environment. It seems like day to day living and existing leaves an irreparable impact on the planet humans are supposed to be living on indefinitely? When I consider everything that I’ve done that’s been detrimental to the environment (i.e. the amount of plastics that I’ve consumed and disposed of,  eating meat that contributes to the release of methane and other noxious gases into the atmosphere, driving and gas consumption), I get really sad. When I multiply this impact by, say, I don’t know… 7 billion? I get even sadder.

This uphill battle towards saving the world sometimes feels like it’s just too much. That in itself is an issue, and probably the reason a lot of folks simply refuse to take action towards changing the way they live. This pessimistic way of looking at things is taking over, acting like a virus. The hopelessness makes people feel like they are such a small speck on the face of the planet that their personal lifestyle choices couldn’t possibly change the ways things are going. Now, if you multiply that feeling of helplessness and despair by 7 billion, you have 7 billion people remaining stagnant, refusing to conserve energy and reduce pollution because they feel like the task at hand is impossible.

That is what needs to change. There needs to be an attitude change among people of the world. This mentality of “Gee, I’m just a drop in the bucket” or “Well, it kind of stinks, we’re killing the world as we know it, but there’s nothing little old me can do to stop this destruction” needs to be put to an end. Not only does it need to be put to an end but it needs to be replaced and converted into positivity!

What we have going on right now is a general consensus that there is nothing we can do to stop the inevitable. But if we change that to the idea that if everyone hops on board with sustainability initiatives we can turn things around, our impact on the environment will lighten up a bit. If we multiply the positivity and desire to make changes by 7 billion, we’ll be all set.

So with all of that said, what needs to happen next? I think one of the most important things is educating people on how simple it is to make positive lifestyle changes that not only save the environment, but save them money. People should be focused less on what will happen if they fail to make changes and focused more on the positive things that will happen in response to multiple people making sustainable and healthy choices. This is the age of media. There should be more education and media attention helping people learn about sustainable and healthy choices. And as an artist I feel very compelled to create things that will help push people in this direction. So, no more imagining apocalyptic scenes and crying about a future comparable to the one Pixar showed us in WallE. It’s time to be positive and grow.

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Ecological Literature and Week 3′s goals

Mar 18 2014 • Posted by

So it’s finally Spring Break for us here at Bridgewater State University.

Instead of getting on a plane and taking a vacation somewhere where I’d have to participate in an incredible expenditure of fuel, I’m going to stay home and commit to my personal work and  writing.

I’ve read a lot of interesting literature as part of my “Sustainable Cities” course, one of which is Aldo Leopold’s “Land Ethic”. I’ve Linked it below, and I highly recommend the read to anyone. How true his words remain today. He essentially discusses extending our concept of ethics to incorporate the physical world. Without the necessary attitude, moving on to policy change will be difficult.

http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl201/modules/texts/text3/leopold.html

Next up is Herman E. Daly’s “Steady-State Economy”. Daly is an “ecological economist” a branch of economics that emphasizes ecological sustainability as the top priority. I couldn’t’ find an except of the text but did provide an article by the guy on 10 policies that would help us move into a more sustainable economy. He claims the current economic paradigm suffers from something called “growthmania”, or the over-emphasis of economic growth. The biggest concern is that costs to the environment are not subtracted from our GDP and instead are added to it; effectively removing the only measure we could have on the ecological consequences of our own economics.

Finally, I’d like to update my status on my own sustainability goals.

So far my family has been pretty good at separating the waste but I’ve found several items that could have been recycled in the trash. I’m going to follow the example of my cousin Pat and actually create a bin with separate compartments to make recycling easier. One of my goals was to reduce the amount I’ve been eating out but so far that’s been a challenge and I’ve given in a few times. However, I made sure not to stop at large chain stores and choose local businesses instead.

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TAKE THE CHALLENGE

Mar 18 2014 • Posted by

AFTER THE FIRST FEW WEEKS OF THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR, OUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS SEEM TO DRIFT AWAY. RECENTLY, I BECAME AN INTERN WITH THE SOUTHCOAST ENERGY CHALLENGE AND I WAS REMINDED OF THE IMPORTANCE OF ACHIEVING A GOAL. SOME RESOLUTIONS I MADE IN THE BEGINNING OF THIS YEAR WAS TO LEARN HOW TO MANAGE TIME AND MONEY AND AS THE MOTHER OF A 6YR OLD, MY LIFE GETS PRETTY BUSY AND I AM ALWAYS ON TOP OF FINDING THE RIGHT SOLUTION QUICK AND ON A BUDGET! AND THE CHALLENGE IS TO MAKE IT A HABIT. I BELIEVE THAT BASICS SOMETIMES HELPS YOU THROUGH THE DAY AND HELPS YOU SAVE THE DAY!

SIMPLE RECIPES LIKE THE FOLLOWING MAKE IT EASIER TO MAINTAIN A GOAL, SAVE TIME, MONEY AND MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD WHILE DOING GOOD!

  • SUPER CLEANER – 4 INGREDIENTS, MANY POSSIBILITIES.

- ½ CUP OF VINEGAR

- ¼ CUP OF BAKING SODA

- ½ TSP OF DAWN DISH SOAP

- ½ CUP CITRUS VINEGAR (PEELS OF ORANGE, LIME OR LEMON KEPT IN A SMALL MASON JAR FILLED WITH VINEGAR)

o   MIX ALL INGREDIENTS IN A SPRAY BOTTLE AND SPRAY ON ALL COUNTER TOPS, SINKS, BATHROOM, MOP YOUR FLOOR, CLEAN WINDOWS, TV, ETC. FOR BEST RESULTS WARM THE VINEGAR FOR 30 SECS TO ACTIVATE ITS POWERFUL POWER! (SOME FIZZING WHEN THE BAKING SODA IS ADDED.)

 

·         DIY LAUNDRY DETERGENT – EASY, CHEAP AND WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THIS BEFORE?

- 1 SMALL OXI CLEAN BOTTLE

- 1 BOX OF BORAX

- 1 BOX OF BAKING SODA

- 1 GRATED NAPA BAR SOAP

o   MIX THESE INGREDIENTS ONCE AND USE THEM FOR OVER 3 MONTHS, STORE IN AIR TIGHT CONTAINER IN A DARK PLACE. WHITES COME OUR BRIGHT WHITE WITH COLD WATER AND CLOTHES SMELL FRESH!

 

·         WEDNESDAY DINNER SAVER – A QUICK MEAL THAT GETS ME OVER THE WEEK’S HUMP.

- 1 PCKG OF SOFT TORTILLAS

- 1 PCKG OF MOZZARELLA SHREDDED CHEESE

- 1 CUP OF ROTISSERIE SHREDDED CHICKEN

- 1 SLICED AVOCADO

- GREEK YOGURT DRESSING (SALT, PEPPER, SMOKED PAPRIKA)

o   SAVORY AND QUICK DINNER AND CAN BE EASILY REPLACED WITH OTHER INGREDIENTS, SUCH AS PULLED PORK & BBQ, CHICKEN BUFFALO, ONION PEPPER AND TOMATO,ETC

LIFE CAN BE EASY OR DIFFICULT BUT IT IS UP TO YOU TO TAKE THE CHALLENGE AND FIND OUT!

MOTIVATIONAL QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

    IT IS LACK OF FAITH THAT MAKES PEOPLE AFRAID OF MEETING CHALLENGES, AND I BELIEVE IN MYSELF  -  MUHAMMAD ALI

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King Corn – It’s looming over us

Mar 18 2014 • Posted by

Earlier this week, I saw a documentary on the corn industry in the American Midwest called King Corn. These two regular guys from Taunton, my hometwon, went off to find out more about how the corn industry works. What they found was extremely shocking. For just growing the corn, the government gives massive subsidies. You make more from the government than you do selling the corn itself. That was the first part that made me angry. The next part was the way the cows were handled and treated at the ranches. Their 80% diet of corn makes them extremely sick. Cows stomachs are not designed to digest that amount of starch, therefore giving them ulcers and open wounds that go straight into their stomachs.

Not only are the cows getting sick, they have literally no room to move around. That is by design to fatten them up as quickly as possible to get to the slaughterhouse faster. Not only does the corn make the cows sick, it is making us sick as well especially through diabetes. The amount of high fructose corn syrup that I found in my own pantry made me panic. I feel overwhelmed by it. The documentary did not leave a good taste in my mouth and I know, from now on, I will be actively avoiding high fructose corn syrup as much as possible. This documentary also strongly inspired me to keep to my “no more soda” decision. I’ll try to get as many people as I can to watch this because this is something that is not OK anymore. Not even the farmers who grow the corn want to eat it and people need to be aware of that.

Personally, however, I am comforted by the fact that the milk we get comes from Monroe Dairy in Rhode Island. If you haven’t tried their milk or other products, I highly recommend you do as soon as possible. Their cows sleep on WATERBEDS. These cows are less stressed and produce better products. If there is any hope,  it is from places like Monroe Dairy.

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Intern Adventures! Taking the Challenge

Feb 18 2014 • Posted by

Well, it’s February 18th 10:47 am and I’m taking some time to relax in between my classes. So far, my adventures as an intern have been pretty interesting and very educational. Just one day since  the end of training and everything is beginning to sink in.   I have learned a lot about sustainability over the past few days.   Although I probably did not learn anything new about  carbon and its impact on the environment, training has caused me to reflect more on sustainability rather than casually viewing something about the sad state of the planet on TV, Facebook or Tumblr — only to forget about it moments later.   I now take time to consider the consequences of climate change  and to consider my own life choices and how they affect the planet.

We can do so much to reduce waste and carbon pollution but people are sometimes afraid to change because they are unfamiliar with them.   We also tend to procrastinate (or be lazy) when we are reluctant to change,  such as not wanting to use Tupperware (and then having to wash them) rather than using disposable plastic bags.     We often live in a state of denial about the sad fate of our planet if we continue to treat it like a wasteland. It is time for people to wake up.

I would be a hypocrite if I did not admit to my own lack of sustainability at times. In fact, intern training prompted me to consider how my own habits negatively affect  my carbon footprint and the environment.  I know that I need to improve my own behavior and it can seem a bit overwhelming at times.  My first goal is simply to try to decrease the amount of things I consume that have individualized wrappers and packaging (ie. candy bars, chips, tv dinners).   These items are loaded with unhealthy preservatives and the packaging is killing the environment. I’m hoping that this sustainability goal will help me to feel healthier, save money and learn how to create homemade dishes.

Throughout the next few weeks I’m going to keep track of the times I eat things with excessive packaging. I also plan on monitoring any changes in weight and energy level. Every week I’ll be checking in and I might even share a few snazzy graphs of illustrations!

Wish me luck!

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GreenButts

Aug 12 2013 • Posted by

Cigarette butts are responsible for the most devastating litter problems – over 4.5 trillion cadmium, lead, and arsenic-filled butts are discarded yearly, and 1.7 billion pounds of them are flushed into our waterways. Normal filters take up to 15 years to break down naturally, and two or three ingested by a small animal such as a cat, squirrel, or rabbit is enough to kill them. This problem isn’t going away either, as there’s little to no way to keep people from simply flicking away their cigarette butts and walking away. Greenbutts hopes to promote their organic cotton hemp and wheat flour product with no chemicals – a “green butt”. Coming in early 2014. These filters biodegrade in a matter of weeks, and while not preventing litter, they will make the litter much safer for the planet.

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Your wallet

Mar 28 2013 • Posted by

Take a look at your wallet.

This is something you bring with you almost everywhere and is a great representation of yourself. Avoiding leather and cruelty towards animals, there are a lot of different fun ways you can store your money.

Option 1:

Make your own wallet, there are many steps online to re purpose some old duct tape and make yourself something useful.
Old keyboard? take the screws off and the circuit sheet inside is perfect and durable enough to hold your monetary items.

a step by step video to help you make your own one of these

If you’re not the creative type, I would highly recommend a mighty wallet. Made of Tyvek material, it is durable and waterproof. It comes in various designs, most of which don’t look like wallets at all. From maps to comic strips, there are plenty to choose from.

Check out http://www.mightywallets.com/ and find your own recycled wallet.

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Water Bottle Ban

Mar 23 2013 • Posted by

Believe it or not, there are many things you can do with your tap water besides washing your car and showering. Rumor has it that it is actually clean enough to consume.

To urge the use of drinking tap water, Concord, Massachusetts has recently placed a ban on single use plastic water bottles. With over 50 billion bottles of water being produced in America annually, this is a great start to decrease those numbers. More shockingly, the amount of oil used to produce these bottles of water is enough to power 1.3 million cars for one year.

There are plenty of opinions against this new law.  The first to point out is taste.
How many times have you heard “I don’t like the taste of tap water”?
People seem to have a preconceived notion that tap water is dirty or not good to drink, when in fact it is bottled water that has less regulation than the city or towns water department. On top of all this, blind taste tests prove that people actually prefer tap water to bottled water.

Want some Aquafina or Dasani? Turn on your faucet and there it is. These brands are purified tap water put in water bottles and sold to the public with the marketing idea that it is safer to drink. Not to mention drinking the recommended amount of water per day from the tap would cost about $0.49 per year versus $1,400 in store bought bottled water.

Stores will surely still sell bottled water, the fine is minimal at $25 for a first offense and only $50 for each offense afterwards.  But not to fret, gallons of water are still on shelves as well as cases of water bottles may be had in the event of an emergency.

Drinking bottled water is for the arrogant and uneducated.

To learn more visit

http://www.storyofstuff.org/movies-all/story-of-bottled-water/

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Sustainability in printing

Mar 18 2013 • Posted by

Its great when being sustainable saves you money.

I came across Ecofont the other day. Ecofont is a font type that, when printed, saves a significant amount of ink, especially when used in large scale printing. Their more sustainable version of the Arial font saves 28% more ink and toner. The font works by putting tiny holes in the lettering,something which is nearly unnoticeable while reading it.

www.Ecofont.com allows you to download a free sample of this font by clicking on “Download” and then “Free Ecofont Vera Sans.”

How it Works

How Ecofont works

 

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