Monday, October 29, 2012

Welcome to the New Normal

 While I’m certainly glad everyone is taking Hurricane Sandy seriously, it poses a bigger question… how prepared are we? There’s little doubt that this storm will cause billions in damages, but if we’re already in a pit of budget despair, how will we be able to make up for new crises? The coffers are empty. We have no cautious plan of recovery. On an individual level, simplicity is the only way we can prepare for disasters. How ready are you to live without electricity? Or running water? or have to go without Twitter/Facebook/Instagram for a day or two? Training yourself to manage these tests in times of sunshine makes dealing with them in times of crisis less of an inconvenience. Yes, extreme weather events suck; they never seem to get our memos, but we are the ones to blame for the climate crisis. We are the ones who haven’t erred on the side of caution with our coal and oil consumption. We have no one to blame but ourselves, so now we just have to sit back and wait to see the outcome.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pinterest Roundup

Time for another edition of Pinterest Roundup, let's see what those crazy designers on the interwebs have come up with this week!

Replenish is a cleaning product company that is rethinking how they sell their products. Instead of shipping cleansers that are 90% water to retailers, they sell a reusable spray top and an active ingredient bottom that clicks on, that includes 3 refills. When your 3 environmentally safe refills are empty, unclick the bottom and attach a full new one.

There’s some backlash for this one (“What if the barista sneezes and doesn’t wash his hands!!!”), well if you’re thinking like that, maybe you shouldn’t  leave the house. Here, this is just a more sustainable and creative solution to one-use plastic knives.

Another concept design winner (but sadly not available yet) is the Off Door Handle—going out? As you get to your door, built into the door handle is a switch that either turns out all your lights, shuts your gas off, or shuts down all plugs and the gas. No need to go running around unplugging or shutting off power strips, one switch and it’s a full power down.

I never could figure out how people could hold themselves up on a bike with a toddler strapped to the back (I have enough trouble remaining upright with my backpack on), but the Bike-Stroller is like a reverse tricycle—mom/dad gets a workout, baby gets a ride (yes, they both should be wearing helmets.) Probably not a good street ride, but around the track or on suburban sidewalks, this seems genius.

The key to my decorating secret (because I know you were wondering) is dual function and modularity. If one product has 2 useful functions and is able to be easily moved, it goes on the list immediately. The Fold-Out Ottoman bed is just that. Closed up, it hides a single guest bed under the cover of a foot rest. What will they think of next!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

What's your footprint?

Every so often I like to visit one of those online carbon footprint calculators to check in to see how good I’m doing. There’s a lot of calculators online but I like this one the best (it allows you to fine tune your answers and paint a better picture of your true usages). So even with my recycling, my minimal meat consumption, my 45+ mpg car and my limiting my air travel to bare minimum, I’m still at 10.48 metric tons of CO2 created by my lifestyle; 50% less than the US average, but still way above where we all need to be. My biggest culprits? The 2.29 metric tons created by my use of heating oil (necessary to keep my house/pipes from freezing in winter) and my car, my sweet little car at 3.20 metric tons for 15,000 miles of driving. Another great thing about this calculator is that you can instantly see how small changes affect your CO2 footprint: like switching from eating only white meat to becoming a vegetarian saves a half ton of CO2 or driving 5,000 miles less a year saves a full ton of CO2.

Friday, October 19, 2012

On the soapbox again...banging my head against the wall...

Look, deny it or call it whatever you want, politicians, but this climate change “thing” isn’t going away on it’s own. It always astounds me why even if you think climate change is a bunch of hooey, why you wouldn’t just err on the side of caution for some issues. Yes, I get that money is a huge factor on why politicians support petroleum, natural gas and coal subsidies, and yes I know that “that money” is actually a shit-ton of money, but sooner or later all of these politicians who deny will be directly affected by climate change. Maybe their summer home will wash away during flooding from the next hurricane. Maybe their nephew will contract West Nile Virus on a camping trip. Maybe their daughter’s wedding day will be ruined by thick smoke from wildfires. Like it or not, our dependence on fossil fuels is what is not-so slowly destroying our environment. How can people not see the connection between these extreme weather events (record breaking heat and drought, catastrophic wild fires and tornadoes, bigger and wetter hurricanes, etc…) and our actions?