Tomatoes On A Hot Tin Roof

| Monday July 27th, 2009 | 0 Comments

uncommonfarm.jpgMuch of the food that we eat travels across long distances before it gets to our plate. The distancing of consumer from producer has environmental, social and economic consequences and will continue to be an issue since earth’s population is now more urban than rural. Not only does food travel from coast to coast, but it also travels across borders. According to data from the USDA, in 2007 the United States imported 3.2 million metric tons of vegetables and 1.8 million metric tons of fruits from Mexico. In 2008, the United States imported about $10 billion more in food, feed and beverages than it exported and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspectors were only able to physically examine 1.3 percent of these imports.

The food miles associated with imports presents an environmental concern and the differences in pesticide usage and health regulations abroad, not to mention the threat of agro-terrorism, presents an alarming safety concern. Safety considerations and the recognition of environmental degradation through the relocation of resources to serve urban populations have recently inspired innovative farming schemes. Rooftop farming in urban centers is part of the growing urban agricultural movement and provides a host of social and environmental benefits including beautifying the city, producing food for inhabitants, reducing building energy costs, cooling the urban island and filtering storm water.

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Is Universal Health Care Good for the Environment But Bad for Business? Part I

Andy Greene | Monday July 27th, 2009 | 0 Comments

Universal health care has been the hot topic in the past couple of weeks. Since the climate change bill passed through the House of Representatives, focus has shifted to the health care front. Is it possible that President Obama’s proposal for universal health care could be good for the environment, but bad for your business? Let’s take a closer look at the effect on the environment.

Pros for the Environment

1. Less Paperwork – President Obama has touted universal health care’s ability to eliminate inefficiencies in the current system. This would lead to less duplicate paperwork, including insurance forms and claim approvals. Less paperwork is always a good thing for the environment. Anyone who has had to fill out HIPAA paperwork every time they go to the doctor’s office knows how much paper is wasted in a medical setting.

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Dwell on Design: ecofabulous and eBay Collaborate on Reclaimed Space Prefab

3p Contributor | Monday July 27th, 2009 | 0 Comments

green team

Reclaimed Space Prefab

One of the most exciting parts of the Dwell on Design event in June was the collaboration between eBay, ecofabulous, and Reclaimed Space. The 400 square foot prefab cabin, which was designed using high quality vintage, repurposed, and restyled items found on eBay was sold on the online auction site for $75,000, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Habitat for Humanity.

Ecofabulous’ collaboration with eBay’s Green Team spotlighted the growing trend of using reclaimed, repurposed, and sustainable products to create décor that is planet friendly, beautiful, and affordable.

eBay Green Team’s Annie Lescroart answered a few questions that came from some of the visitors of the showhouse about the innovative project and the emerging business and consumer trends surrounding vintage and reclaimed materials.

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ecofabulous Founder on the 3 R’s: “Reuse, Repurpose, and Restyle”

3p Contributor | Monday July 27th, 2009 | 0 Comments

ecofabulous reclaimed space interior At this year’s Dwell on Design, held last month in Los Angeles, Zem Joaquin shared her unique vision on the concept of garbage. Ever since Jack Johnson turned “reduce, reuse, recycle” into something you hum on your drive into work or school, people have been rethinking the notion of trash…and some more than others.

The go-to eco-expert and founder of ecofabulous, Joaquin and her team applied their very compelling approach in the Reclaimed Space Showhouse. Custom designed and built by Austin-based prefab builder, Reclaimed Space, the 400 square foot home’s interior was designed using high quality vintage, repurposed, and restyled items found on eBay and local antique stores.

Joaquin sat down at the event to field some questions on her innovative and stylish design.

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Why Dairy Farmers Are Facing Their Worst Crisis

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday July 27th, 2009 | 0 Comments

250px-Friesian-HolsteinAmerican dairy farmers are facing their worst crisis since the Great Depression. The price dairy farmers are paid for milk dropped 50 percent since December. Currently farmers are receiving $11.28 per hundredweight, and it costs an estimated $17 to$18 to produce milk. Unfortunately prices are not expected to suddenly rise. According to the June Dairy Market Report by the National Milk Producers Federations, “recovery will be more gradual.”

Over 100,000 dairy cows across the U.S. have been sold to beef processors, and industry officials think over 1.5 million of the country’s 9.3 dairy cows could meet the same fate. Farm advocacy groups estimate that about 20,000 family dairy farms could be lost.

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Unusual Economics: Time for an Ecological Approach

3p Contributor | Monday July 27th, 2009 | 1 Comment

ecological%20economics.jpgBy: Matthew Marichiba
Unusual economic times call for unusual economics book reviews, right? To this end, I am writing a review of an economics textbook. Yes, a textbook, named Ecological Economics, Principles and Applications by Herman E. Daly and Joshua Farley.

As society navigates through our global economic meltdown, I keep noticing that a lot of what I read in the media is fundamentally based on the assumption of an economic return to the good times. Maybe there will be more regulations; maybe GAAP rules will be stricter; maybe we’ll have fewer or more or different automobile manufacturers. But surely we’ll get back to good ol’ growth of the economy (and how to do it forever), won’t we? Far too few writers challenge our fundamental assumptions about the economy itself– those same assumptions we used to dig ourselves into the present financial mess, not to mention the assumptions at the root of the ecological and human-rights crises that are now a daily fixture in the news.

What if some of our assumptions about the fundamental purpose and functioning of the economy were wrong? Shouldn’t we fix those old assumptions before we recreate the same “good times” that resulted in our present bad times? If the planet were unable to sustain our civilization unless we get the economy right this time, wouldn’t we have an ethical duty to reconsider some of those assumptions?

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Cooking for the Community at San Francisco’s La Cocina

| Friday July 24th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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Chronicle photo by Brant Ward

In La Cocina’s large, commercial kitchen, three women joke with each other, their laughter amplified by the room’s high ceilings and brushed steel fixtures. They carefully dust powdered sugar on a fresh batch of alfajores, pastry-style cookies filled with dulce de leche, a caramel-like filling made from heated milk. Preparing for an upcoming local farmer’s market, these women are part of one of the 22 small food businesses that work with the self-proclaimed “incubator kitchen” located in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District.

Spanish for “the kitchen,” the idea for La Cocina first originated in 1999 because of the lack of affordable kitchen space in the city. It drew its inspiration from the ethnically diverse and economically vulnerable neighborhood that, according to the people at La Cocina, thrives in part due to the many small informal businesses that serve the community.

Six years later—and thanks to organizations like Arriba Juntos, The Women’s Initiative for Self-Employment, and The Women’s Foundation of California—the incubator kitchen was born out of a belief that a community of natural entrepreneurs, given the right resources, can create self-sufficient businesses that benefit themselves, their families, and the communities and places around them.

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A Beef Burrito and a Side of Consciousness

| Friday July 24th, 2009 | 0 Comments

hollywood & green

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There are few things more powerful than that exhilarating feeling after a great movie, or the return of your favorite TV series, or an inspiring documentary. Without realizing it, you find yourself rattling off lines, and though you’ve still yet to master the whole e=mc2 thing, you’re somehow able to quote entire scenes after just one viewing. And while the fate of teen vampires in ‘Twilight’ isn’t likely to save the planet, it demonstrates how memorable entertainment can be from an education and retention standpoint. And that is probably what Chipotle Mexican Grill was banking on when they partnered with Magnolia Pictures, Participant Media and River Road Entertainment to promote the documentary, Food, Inc.

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Growing a Business Through Growing Gardens

| Friday July 24th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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When Gavin Newsom announced last week that the city’s new sustainable food policy calls for more urban land to be used to grow food, many residents wondered where the additional land would come from. According to Garden Fare, a new and growing business in the Bay Area, most residents don’t need to look any farther than their own front and backyards.
As more and more companies emerge with offerings of urban agriculture services, their emphasis is often largely placed on the conversion of abandoned lots and unused parking areas. What makes a company like Garden Fare unique is that they focus on converting existing ornamental lawns into edible gardens that provide ample amounts of healthy, local produce. In addition to providing easy access to healthy food, Garden Fare founder Patrick Rodysill also highlights the fact that residents see a greater return on their investments in lawn care when those lawns are being used to grow edible foods versus the more typical, non-edible plants.

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AirDye: Dyeing Fabric Without Water

| Friday July 24th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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miss peaches swimsuitIt’s changing the basics, the nuts-and-bolts of our lives, that can make the biggest difference. Adding color to the clothes we wear requires many times their weight in water – as much as 600 times as much water per ounce of fabric.

Colorep, Inc., a California sustainable technology company, has patented a process known as AirDye, which dyes fabric without the use of water. The technology is about 6 years old, and the company is gradually licensing it to manufacturers of everything from swimsuits to drapes.

Depending on the fabric, and type of dyeing, AirDye uses up to 95% less water, and up to 86% less energy, contributing 84% less to global warming, according to an independent assessment requested by the company.

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Green Clothing Startup Offers Breath of Fresh Air for Corporate Execs

| Friday July 24th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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green-clothes.jpgA new green clothing company, Green 3, is attracting attention for more than just its comfy, eco-friendly apparel. Those in-the-know have taken notice because of the company’s founders: Jim and Sandy Martin, former corporate execs at Oshkosh B’Gosh and Kohl’s, respectively. By gosh….

The pair transitioned from executive positions at two of the nation’s largest corporate clothing giants to positions in the challenging world of startup business management. Why? In part, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, because of Sandy’s interest in protecting the environment. Making organic products would allow her to remain true to her roots, so to speak: Sandy grew up on a farm and saw, firsthand, the effects of pesticide. She and Jim decided to pursue a business strategy of their own: to market stylish, high quality, organic apparel to small specialty retailers interested in new, unique items unavailable in larger chains.

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Nike Says “Just Don’t Do It” – to Sourcing from the Rainforests

| Friday July 24th, 2009 | 0 Comments

nike-logo.jpg When it comes to rainforest deforestation, it looks like Nike is adopting a new slogan: “Just Don’t Do It.” The company has recently adopted a policy that will require its leather suppliers to document that they did not source cattle raised in the Amazon rainforest (and its related ecosystem).

Although the company claims it already does not source from rainforests, it adopted the policy nonetheless in response to a Greenpeace report that called out several companies with supply chains linked to rainforest deforestation. By enforcing the new policy, Nike expects to ascertain its leather sources, thereby refuting, with greater sureness, future claims against the company.

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Mom-founded Startup Benefits Kids, Planet, and Wallets

| Friday July 24th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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plastic-water-bottles.jpgIt is said that “big things come in small packages.” Such is the case for an innovative startup launched by four suburban New Jersey Moms: the Back2Tap campaign. These moms-turned-green-activists began the program by educating school children on the benefits of using reusable water bottles. Since then, the campaign has grown; it now funds water-related initiatives in schools both locally and abroad and increases communities’ environmental awareness.

The Back2Tap campaign began in 2007 in Chatham, New Jersey, where the Back2Tap founders – mothers who are also professionals – noticed that plastic water bottle trash was becoming an eyesore at public parks and playgrounds. The moms took action: they established the Back2Tap program in order to educate their children, their kids’ classmates, and their communities about the wastefulness of using disposable water bottles. The moms also sold 1,500 reusable stainless steel water bottles to members of the school community. The campaign was successful: it raised $8,000 for local schools, and two of the schools used the funds to purchase point-of-use water coolers, thereby decreasing their plastic usage. Even in its beginning stages, the Back2Tap program helped to increase students’ and communities’ eco friendliness, encourage participants to use re-usable eating and drinking wear, and allow families to save money.
On the heels of the Back2Tap campaign’s success, the moms extended the campaign by launching a small business. The business coordinates numerous programs intended to spread the word and launch Back2Tap campaigns in schools and non-profits all over the nation. For example, Back2Tap organizes Green Fundraisers (which help schools, businesses, and other groups adopt point-of-use water supply methods), sells educational videos and resources through its website, sells custom-logoed water bottles, and helps businesses become more sustainable. This fall, Back2Tap will help kids enjoy a virtually waste-free lunch: the company will expand its product line to include reusable sandwich wraps and snack pouches. Back2Tap also donates a portion of its profits to provide clean drinking water for schools in Central Asia.
Back2Tap encourages those interested in increasing their communities’ environmentalism at a grass-roots level to participate in one of its programs.

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Bringing Personal Energy Savings to a Concrete, Financially Rewarding Leve

| Friday July 24th, 2009 | 3 Comments

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Picture%201-13.jpg In recent years, both business and individuals have gotten increasingly clear that it’s necessary to reduce our energy consumption, both for the emissions it produces and the increasingly limited sources of it. Or have they? For most people, aside from their monthly energy bill, there’s little connection to the rest of the world when it comes to energy use.
Carbon offsets, while potentially useful, remain for the most part an abstract thing, removed from people’s daily lives. My Emissions Exchange have come up with an idea that appeals both to people’s desire to do good with their need to get paid.

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The Tuk Tuk Hybrid Contest

| Friday July 24th, 2009 | 0 Comments

tuk tukMany sustainable development projects have a fatal flaw: they are unrealistically expensive. Sure, a stationary bike that purifies water as it is pedaled is a great innovation, but how much does the bike cost to build and implement? These technologies are often really pricey, which prevents them from being effective. Environmental innovations should be affordable to the people who need it most. Which is why I’m so excited about the hybrid tuk tuk contest!

A tuk tuk is basically a motorized rickshaw. It has three wheels, a seat up front for the driver, and a bench seat in the back for up to three passengers (and occasionally animals and/or the daily shopping). There are three million tuk tuks in India alone, but they are common all over Southern Asia and parts of Africa and Latin America. They are especially popular in areas where traffic congestion is an issue. The tuk tuks are also an environmental nightmare. They spew smoke. The drivers are often from lower socioeconomic classes, and therefore need to run their rickshaws on the cheapest, dirtiest fuel. Sometimes they even run on kerosene.

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