Archive for the ‘Solutions’ Category

Met with KoAnn, from Sustainable Life Media for lunch, at local deli. I asked lady at the checkout counter, “Do you have compostable spoons?”.  I was met with same blank stare I have encountered before in similar situations. Mainstream America does not know about compostable plastics, and even less so, sustainability. Not that the lady was not open to learning. She seemed fascinated when I explained compostable plastics, and why it mattered. She would ask, she said.

Back home, in preparation for this post, I did some more research on the topic. Googled, compostable plastics, Fake Plastic Fish. And found post from my friend Beth Terry, ‘Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should‘. Of course, I can always count on Beth to set me straight. No easy way out here. The way to go, really, is good old fashioned metal spoons. Only energy required is from dish washing. Most likely the lesser of all evils.

Next time, I go to the deli, I will ask the lady about metal spoons instead.

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Jimmy Wales, the founder of  Wikipedia, has just launched Wikia Green, a project to build a community generated online resource that is home to the best information about green topics and issues. Based on the wiki platform, Wikia Green is an ever-evolving, community-focused repository of content that can be instantly molded or changed by anyone to reflect the most current topics of interest and latest information in the green arena.

“Today we are formally inviting anyone who is interested and knowledgeable about ecological issues to join us in creating something that we hope will become a valuable resource for society,” said Jimmy Wales, Co-founder and Chairman of the board, Wikia, Inc. “As the whole notion of ‘going green’ has exploded, so too has the volume of related information floating around out there on the Internet. It has come to a point where, for the average person looking for tips on how to lead a more sustainable lifestyle, it can be somewhat difficult to know where to start and Wikia Green is looking to be just that place.”

I invite you all to contribute. This is an important collective effort, that should help citizens, with finding the practical green information they need to make informed decisions.

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by Steve Crandall

A decade ago I wrote a letter to the editor for our local paper describing our family approach to holiday giving.  It inspired a deluge of mostly negative responses – the most humorous labeling it “unchristian”.

What we do is try to give time rather than money as that levels the playing field for all.  We choose 5 others via lottery and have a maximum budget of $100 for the lot.  Children under 10 are treated separately like normal kids.  It is considered a very “grown up” thing to do this by kids in my family.  The drawing is on the 4th of July and I usually start working on projects in August so as to not get too swamped.  I aim for 10 hours on each and have finished 3  as of last Sunday.  I have a slightly different concept of family than the rest of my family, and have a total of 7 projects this year.

My father is brilliant at this and writes special poetry.  He thinks about it all year and violates the rules by choosing some of the people he gives to (by doing more than his 5) .. so my mother is always on his list.   My skills are not great, but I make little sketches and build things. The variety of gifts I have received over the years and the thought and love that went into them has been amazing, but that doesn’t match the excitement and joy that comes with giving something that has come from my own hands.   And there is an additional bonus:  nothing to return the day after Christmas.

What is striking is that this extreme customization of feeling and love is considered out of the mainstream and “crackpot”. We aren’t doing it to save money and probably give more to charities than we would have spent on gifts.

If something this simple is considered radical and “hippy”, I fear that changing consumer patterns is extremely difficult.

Steve Crandall is a gifted scientist with a big heart. We are very fortunate to have him enrich La Marguerite with his frequent comments. You can follow him on his blog.

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From Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.‘s speech at the Democratic National Convention, in Denver, last night:

“The well being of the “We” depends on the well being of the “He” and the “She”.”

How about the other way around also? The well being of the “I” depends on the well being of the “We”. This is especially true for the global environmental crisis facing us.

Lately, I have been giving lots of thoughts to this:

"I" and "We" Zone

The “I” triangle is inspired from Maslow‘s. I just added a ‘want’ layer on top. This is to account for the fact that much of our Western behaviors are not so much influenced by needs, as by wants.

The “We” circle covers the world’s needs we need to address collectively.

The conventional wisdom states that individual interests are at odds with those global needs. While that may be true to a large extent, let us not forget the space where the “I” and the “We” overlap. This is where I think we should focus our attention. Translating global needs into desired individual behaviors, and see which ones amongst those, can be immediately matched with existing individual wants and needs.

In my next post I will explore what that common space looks like, and what it means for behavioral solutions to climate change and other global sustainability crisis.

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New post on biodiversity, at The Huffington Post: “What the Heck is Biodiversity? And Why Should We Care?”

There is one typo. Can you find it? 🙂

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Had a good laugh last night, listening to NPR host and his guest, a farmer, having very serious discussion about animal powered farming. It’s not a bad idea, actually, but the choice of words just got to me! I wonder what my grandfather would say:

My grandfather with his horse Topain, at his farm in France

My grandfather with his horse Topain, at his farm in France

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This morning, ClimateBiz reports on a recent survey by a Seattle P-I journalist on carbon calculators. The reporter tried out ten different calculators, and here are the results:

Not surprising. Last year, I did my own exploration of carbon calculators, and came out equally confused. TerraPass had made it into my list of Top 3 Calculators, along with ZeroFootprint and Nature. Now comes Cool Climate, the new calculator from UC Berkeley, that promises to be better than all its predecessors.

Not only is it hard to figure out which calculator to use, but there is also the accountability problem of carbon offsets, carbon calculators’ close cousins. When I am sitting at home in California, how can I know for sure, that the money I am giving will indeed result in carbon credits? The alleged 20% rate of doubtful credits, as reported by the U.N. Clean Development Mechanism organization, spells out caution.

Last, I have my own reservations about the behavioral consequences of relying too much on carbon offsets. I have said it before, we cannot buy our way out of our predicament. Conservation, efficiency, smarter technology solutions, should always come first, with carbon offsets as the absolute last resort. Recognizing that there are indeed circumstances when one has to fly, as an example, and carbon offsets do have a very legitimate role.

I wonder, what is your experience with carbon calculators? Do you buy carbon offsets? If so, when? How would you improve the current system?

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