Tuesday, June 26, 2007

My Brain Hurts....

As I've been alluding to in the past few posts, I've been shopping and I generally don't like shopping. OK that's not true, I do shop a lot for gear, I've been eyeing a brand new MacBook for awhile, and the iPhone -- I've been feigning non-interest, going under cover that I'm still on contract with T-Mobile. I could make some stereotypical comment about how guys shop and gals, but I won't but what I will say that suppose you are the type that analyzes your purchases, looking for the best value, the best specs, figuring out the logical reason for why you want to buy something, than all I can say is that buying the right Carbon Offsets is going to blow your mind. So many variables, so many things to verify and try to make sense of.

What offsets are better, trees or alternative energy? Or something different?
New construction, funding old sources?
Is the offset company you are dealing with even real, and not some Nigerian Oil Scam in new clothing?
How much should you pay? How much admin cost is the offset taking?

And that's the beginning. Yes, your brain will hurt. I'm still trying to figure things out, but here are some resources:

A Little Greener's Travel Greener Page gives some suggestions on how to travel more lightly.

Canada's David Suzuki Foundation explains what you can do and has great resources

Eco Business Links has a directory of offsets.

Ideally, it'd be great if airlines would make the offsets for us, and let us just check off and save us all the trouble. Of course that assumes that their offset matches your idea of a good offset.

Now my brain really hurts, I'm going to get some ice cream.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Cradle to Cradle One Step Closer

The New York Times in all it's greeniness has a great article on a Cornell professor who has identified catalysts to help create plastics from CO2 the number one greenhouse gas. Imagine outfitting smokestacks with these plastic converters. Forget catalytic converters of the past on your car (which also have catalysts (hence the name)) imagine one which creates a convertible byproduct for manufacturing recyclable plastics. You go to the gas station and fill up on gas, and drop off your super dino juice.

It's tough to change people's behavior, solutions like this make the changes smaller.

Cool Stuff!

Coming Clean....

After digging in the trash.... The New York Times (my local paper -- really!) has an amusing article about "freegans" or people who refuse to buy things. Right now is high season to go dumpster diving near universities (especially affluent ones!) and getting lots of goodies (and also see what Jr. is really spending his money on, and it's a lot of magazines, not just The Economist It's amazing what people throw away (a working iPod!)

These people take the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) to a delightful extreme. I am a big fan of freecycle, using it to both get and give stuff away, even re-freecycling at times. I found it funny that they highlighted colleges, since I went to one of those Hoity Toity affluent schools of "the League" though for some reason the affluence missed me back then. And since I had to take summer classes to graduate (don't ask, stupidity of a different sort, I didn't fail the classes, but never mind) and I use to raid dumpsters at the end as well. But mostly because people were too lazy to sell their books back. (Well I wasn't). The economists idea that people don't leave $100 bills lying around isnt' always the case. So I'd grab the books and go to the campus store (it was easier money than working at the computer lab, but then again that had some perks too)

Much of what we throw away is completely usable, we just get tired of it. I'm a big fan of yard sales and Massachusetts' Cape Cod's "Take it or Leave It" room at their junkyard. Not sure I'm ready to be a "freegan" but it does bring back memories...

Still Shopping....

I've been delinquent in my posts since I've been busy with "re-entry" as I get caught up on things (like scheduling a dentists appointment (ok that's procrastination) and gasp! looking for employment, and catching up with friends who want to hear about my Cabbage and Condoms experiences (it sounds so much more kinky than it really is -- but admit it I got your attention now).

I realize that my simple goal of purchasing some carbon offsets is actually really hard. I know what a car is, I'm still not sure what exactly is a carbon offset, I mean in an warm and fuzzy way I know what it is, but if you can't name it, you can't describe it, you can't understand it.

I'll keep you posted on what I find, but I close with a suggestion to the airline industry...

Commission someone to identify legitimate and well managed carbon offset providers and choose one that will give the best results. And add to your on line purchasing an option to purchase offsets for your trip at the same time voluntarily. I think you'd be surprised at how many people do.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Pre-Summer Cleaning....and summer eating.

OK, my shopping expedition is on hold. I'm instead getting unburied from my time away. Getting everything in order, and sadly throwing away a ton of stuff. A post I meant to write about was Eco Friendly eating, I've written about the Localavore movement, but two Palo Alto residents are writing the "Global Warming Diet" and there is an article on what can help. Tips such as buy from the bin not from the box and assorted cooking tips which I don't quite get. Read for yourself.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Back stateside, and going driving...

Well yesterday I returned to California. I was far too tired yesterday to go run errands, so I didn't drive yet. This morning is going to be interesting as I re-enter the states. No downstairs subway, no 10 minute walk by hawker stands, no Tuk Tuk waiting to whisk me away. Instead I will be driving. It's going to be interesting to see that my time in motion will be be no longer be one I can sit and wonder, I will have to pay attention. No endless drafting of texts during my rides, (or more accurately no more addictive miniature golf on my phone)

Yesterday, a friend offered me a ride from the airport instead of the train station, 20 miles vs 2 miles. I told him that it's ok, since it sort of defeats one of the purposes which was to reduce carbon emissions. Though the amount I emitted (or my share via airplanes, well I'm trying not to think about it)

The infrastructure around shapes our lives, we just live in different distances. With a driving world we have drive throughs, in a walking world we have ice cream carts and street side stalls. I'm going to miss my Magnolia Ice Cream wafer bars. The Corn Ice cream was yummy.

Well I'm back and it's time to go shopping, more on that tomorrow.

In the words of William Gibson, I must endure soul delay right now.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

casually inspecting the universe

Ok, so I'm mildly paraphrasing Irwin Shaw but that is sort of one of the joys of not being trapped in a car, and I think I'm going to miss that in Southeast Asia where I've been able to tromp around the world and "casually inspect the universe" There's such a great joy of just sitting and watching people, seeing what they do in that in between sphere of being completely open in the public, but with that anonymous feeling of being lost in the crowd, people letting down their guard, taking a short nap, gettting lost in music, texting away, or playing on their PSPs. I'm going to miss that when I get back to the states. Our cars create our own little private universe, separate from others. We don't intersect much with the rest and unless we're being driven it's hard to catch it. Ever notice that familiar roads look different when you're being driven by someone else? That abiity to go at a pace where I can soak in the world around me is going to be something I'm going to miss.

Oh yeah, I guess I'll miss watching the "Girls in their Summer Dresses" as well.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Global Car Free....

It's been a long time, and I apologize for the lack of posts. I've been traveling in Southeast Asia and have been CarFree if not carbon free. Mass transit is a way of life here, in fact in the larger cities having a car can be a detriment, if not for the traffiic for the lack of parking. I've been fortunate that in most of the places that I've visited, I've been able to take mass transit. Some of my favorite have been a boat from Tremberling, Malaysia to the national park Taman Negara. Coming back we flew as we got the benefit of the river to speed us on our way. The express boats of Chao Pryha are very cool in Bangkok as well, they have Monk preference areas on the boats.

The other huge benefit of mass transit here is that it's air conditioned, not exactly carbon free, but the temperatures here can be unbearable. I know that I took the Bangkok Skytrain a few times escape the heat.

Coolest "mass transit" was the indoor roller coaster in Kuala Lumpur, ok so it goes in a circle in a shopping mall, no less, but doesn't get you from point A to B.

Downside is that much of my travel was by jet, a no no in carbon free world, innovations like the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner will improve the efficiency of air travel.

Biggest lesson, when there are no cars around, you can still manage with a little effort, those trishaws do pretty good.

Noisiest and funnest transport, Tuk Tuk in Bangkok, Thailand.

More later