Monthly Archives: June 2007

Seattle’s composting program

Just a note to all Seattle area readers: are you composting your food scraps yet?  Seattle has a truly exemplary program in place to reduce landfill by as much as 50% or more…if only we could get our seattleites to put their vegetable food scraps in their yard waste bins.

Sound easy?  It is.  Couldn’t be easier–we’ve been doing it now for several months and it’s a pretty sweet deal.  We now have the smallest trash container allowed which means reducing our monthly solid waste bill, and we feel good about turning our estimated 10+ lbs. per week of veggie + fruit scraps into rolling hills of compost for our parks and gardens.

garbage-truck-01.jpg

So, just do it.  It’s simple and it works.

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Day 126: MLwC, more on The Biggest Movement

For those who are interested, Mytechvision sent me a link to another Paul Hawken discussion, the MP3 file of which you can find here. Much longer than the previously mentioned video, and more complete in terms of his entire working theory that he writes about in Blessed Unrest. Some good clarification of the global immunity theory, and clarification on why he calls this a Movement–even though it doesn’t have (as he puts it) a white male charismatic leader in charge of it. It’s a mass movement because large swaths of the global population are experiencing climate change, corporate activity, disease, social change and saying collectively, no, this isn’t right. We are agreeing on that single thing: this isn’t right. And that is what unites us.

One cool thing about this seminar is how you really get a hit of how funny Hawken is, and how huge his thinking is. An amazing fact: he has compiled a list of grass roots organizations around the world that are actively involved in making changes. The list scrolls across the screen and scrolls and scrolls…and he calculates that you would in fact have to watch this list scroll for an entire month, 24 hours a day before you would reach the end. That is a lot of grass roots.

It’s a good seminar where he covers most of the stuff he covers in his book in a very conversational way–but it’s long. I hope you have the chance to listen.

Daily Stats: Wednesday
Car: 0
Bike: 0
Ped: approx 5.5 miles
Bus: approx 15 miles
air: 0

Day 125: MLwC and what some people are doing….

People are truly amazing. I mean, forget the Supreme Court tax-abuse nonsense or its flippant response to endangered species...all of it a real downer, but then I turn my focus back to people who are doing small things to make a difference.

Some examples:

GreenBlog, where business people can find quick, easy and smart ways to aim their companies down a greener path.

The SF Compact, have I mentioned the compact? Yeah, thought so.

CompanyEarth, a blog that covers all kinds of green tips, tricks and news, from travel to politics.

The Green Patrol, in Montreal, is a group of about 80 students that cover the city in the summer months in search of “infractions”–opportunities to change habits: don’t let the car idle, turn out lights during the day, transportation options. They hand out “warning” tickets which are in reality tips for more environmentally conscious choices.

The GreenLifeStyle, in which a girl and her boyfriend journey to a more eco-friendly life.

worldchanging.com, works from a simple premise: that the tools, models and ideas for building a better future lie all around us. These folks cover it all and have input from lots of sources around the world.

NoImpactMan, a superhero, changing his life one day at a time.

Green Technology covers green investing, corporate green initiatives.

enn.com–all kinds of green news and homestyle tips for gardening, homecare, etc.

LiveGreenBlog, full of real, practical knowledge about how to live a greener life–from lawn to leisure and everything in between. This is a great resource.

So, you know, I can’t do much about the Supremes, or the War, or my dumb government–all of which threatened to get me down yesterday–but I chose instead to focus on what I and a lot of other people are doing that’s healthy and good for the planet.

Plant a butterfly or hummingbird attracting flower in your garden your wild garden today.

Daily stats (Tuesday)
Car: 5.2 miles (7 tasks)
Bike: 0
Ped: 2 miles
Bus: 0
Air: 0

Day 124: MLwC, the hundredth monkey and a global immune system

I’m into the second half of Hawken’s book in which he discusses the varied organizations that in hundredth-monkey ways are tackling the many issues of our day: poverty, corporate abuse, pollution, disease, and dozens of other concerns. Through the interconnectedness of the wired world today, these organizations can share best practices, learnings, energy, inspiration and sweat equity to move en masse towards a more equitable, safe, healthy future.

He suggests that these organizations can be seen as the antibody response of our planet to the threatening disease of pollution and environmental degradation. It’s really a cool idea, and it makes sense too: a growing number of us sense the threat we face, understand the very personal toll that pollution and diminishing resources are taking on us, and we are making choices that correspond to the way the body wards off infection and viruses. It’s the Gaia philosophy expanded out even further…and it makes sense to me. We are an organic part of an organic system–as much as we often like to think the real world really is composed of the shiny new products we create. I welcome the idea that a growing majority might be compelled to respond to the potential crisis we face in a naturally evolving fashion–albeit with urgency.

Some examples of the localized antibodies that are collecting at the margins of our global culture (Hawken’s names names in his book, a list that is too lengthy for me to go in to here but I suggest you watch the video for more, if you can’t get the book):

the list goes on and on, and includes very powerful, very well known billionaires , ex-presidents, and celebrities, as well. It is a coalition of every level–from the margins of our society, working like antibodies to fight the many threats to our environment. There are more of us all the time.

Daily Stats (Monday)
Car: 0
Bike: 0
Ped: 3 miles
Bus: 0
internet: all over the place

Ahnold.

Arnold talks like a president

got this vid from livegreen blog and thought: wow, sort of encouraging–to see a politician actually understand that the world expects and wants leadership from the US, not war. Leadership based on positive action.  I haven’t liked Arnold this much since the first Terminator movie.

Day 123 thru 125: MLwC, fast breeds faster

I’ve been using my car more than usual the past week and I think I know why.  But first, it’s just interesting how a change in your normal day will cause changes down the line and unless you’re paying attention, that change can become habit.  I noticed this a lot when I worked in a regular office–the things that I used to do regularly, commute on my bike, get outside, grow my own vegetables in the summer–all sort of fell by the wayside after a while.  And I didn’t notice until other habits had overwhelmed the things I loved doing that things had changed.

It’s sort of like invasive species, how they take over.  Nowadays, I work with different companies and lots of different people and I notice that there are people who make sure they hold on to things that are important to them…and they’re usually kind of quiet about it.  Like they’re flying under the radar in a way.  I admire them and wish I’d had that kind of awareness back a few years ago.

So, returning to why I’ve been driving more the last couple of weeks.

The current project I’m working on sort of came up unexpectedly, as is often the case, throwing my whole schedule into disarray. As a result of being gone and spending a total of one work-day in the air going to and returning from Chicago (not to mention sitting in airports waiting for delayed flights), I come up short at the end of the week in the time-available-to-d0-everything-else department. Downstream from that situation, I have found myself resorting to using my car to get everything done that I need to get done…simply because I don’t have enough time.

Diana commented the other day that it’s tough for a working Mom to get all the things done in a day with a kid and full time job and etc, etc. On top of that, where she lives in Idaho, public transit just isn’t an option. It’s virtually non-existent.

We pack a lot into our days and our transportation of choice–cars–allows us to pack even more. For lots of people, doing less is unthinkable, and for me in the past few days, just getting the required tasks done without a car has been unthinkable. I’m looking forward to not using my car for the rest of this coming week, since on top of trying to get a lot of tasks done, I’m really sick of traffic and irritated by the cumbersome nature of driving, parking, etc etc.
Daily stats (Fri, Sat, Sun)

Car: 21 miles (6 tasks, 2 people)
Bike:
Ped:
Bus:
Air:

Day 122: MLwC and more connections

Connections, Episode 5 Part 5 of 5

Nkilkenny pointed me to the above vid on youtube which chronicles our American cultural rootedness in mass production and consumerism….as well as a few other things. 😉

Daily Stats (Thursday)
Car: 0
Bike: 5 miles
Ped: 3 miles
Bus: 0
air: 0

Day 119 thru 121: MLwC and WiserEarth.com

Traveling again this week, and really rushed for time. Time is a critical factor in selection of transportation modes. I elected to drive to the airport and park rather than risk not getting picked up by the shuttle again….Anyway, I was thinking about how much I travel over the course of the year and how much this impacts my carbon footprint. I’m a consultant and this travel issue won’t likely change a whole lot in the near future which makes my activities while at home even more important–walk, bike, bus, etc.

On Sunday, I hung out a while at Paul Hawken’s site WiserEarth, trying to figure out how it works. I heard back from Michael regarding the beta site re my sense that it wasn’t targeted well; I couldn’t figure out if it was for professional .org people or for regular people like me. He confirmed that they are still working out some aspects of the site (it’s beta) but:

“In a nutshell, it is definitely for people like you. I encourage you to check it out and make sure your favorite organizations are represented in there. And we are always looking for feedback on usability and for ideas on future enhancements to make the site more useful for your line of work. We can’t guarantee everything will be implemented (we have constraints on tech support and funding of course), but we do value community feedback.”

So , I went back to the site and created an account, and then went for a run.

alkilincolnpark.jpg

During the run I began to think about all the stuff rolling around in my head and realized (this may be a Doh! moment for some of you but it was sort of exciting for me): The Compact, my own MLwC project, Wildlife Alliance, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Critical Mass, the Backyard Wildlife movement here in Seattle and a hundred other things that I personally take an interest in, are all part of a much, much bigger movement that as Hawken puts, is as yet un-named and is potentially the biggest movement in the history of the planet. People like you and me–perhaps not doing big global projects, but doing things we care about, passionately, and that contribute to a larger common good.

And it’s the combination of all those things that is creating this massive global movement that Paul Hawken is writing about.

When I returned from my run, I went to the site and entered my first organization. I’ll follow up with others. I’m no expert on so many things out there, but I know about my own life and interests, and that’s what I can share. How the site will evolve, how it will utilize my interests, network us all, remains to be seen. How I will use it remains to be seen.

Participating is sort of a leap of faith. Take The Compact, for example. You use your big car to go shopping and buy things, much more than you really need, without thinking about alternate paths, and it’s all so easy, so fast, who really thinks about it. So the Compact has groups all over the planet finding different ways to live outside the planned path of consumerism. Once that habit is busted, these people like Rachel in SF, or myself here with my own habit-busting project, we find ourselves connecting to our city, our community, our planet in a whole new way. Rachel, just like me, just like you, is one little atom bouncing around out there amidst a gazillion atoms, changing the way atoms bounce here in Seattle, Tokyo, Buenos Aires and who knows where else.

And that, I believe, is what Paul Hawken is talking about. Bring what you have, share it, find your community, find energy, find a different path and share your map. And Hawken clearly understands the internet has made the path to sharing your map possible.

Daily stats: (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday)
Car: 25 miles
Bike: 0
Ped: 3.0
Bus: 0
Air: 2400

Blessed Unrest video

take some time, if you can, and watch this.

Day 116 thru 118: MLwC and the way things are interconnected

I’m old enough to remember when the term built-in obsolescence began to gain currency. Apparently, the movement on the part of manufacturers to create goods that would have a shorter, definitive life-span started in the 30’s (I wasn’t around then 🙂 ) and really became part of our culture in the 60’s (I was around then) and is now so common we rarely think twice before trashing something we bought a week ago, year ago, two years ago, whatever.

There was a time, really, when you bought things and expected them to last. And last a long time.

This built-in obsolescence or planned obsolescence is, in many ways, at the root of our collective carbon footprint now and I find myself thinking about it with relation to My 30 Days of consumer celibacy and how The Compact works, that was mentioned here the other day. The author, Wendee Holtcamp spent 30 days not buying anything new and chronicled the adventure. According to the Compact, the goal is to wean oneself from our consumer addicted society….

What happens in an experiment like this, I imagine, is similar to what has happened in my own experiment with urban transportation: once you break a pattern of behavior, you begin to view everything in relation to that pattern differently.

So, now I’m starting to wonder about this buy-nothing-new project that started in San Francisco by Rachel and others. It’s not some anti-corporation, self-punishing hard-core movement–it’s smart people who understand that the more new stuff we buy, the more landfill we create and the more we put into motion this global supply chain that is at the heart of an unsustainable consumer culture.

When we first bought the house we’re living in now, we had to do a lot of very necessary repairs right off the bat. Some of them involved new wood siding on the house to repair dry-rot, etc., and I remember thinking, “what would it be like to follow the production of this lumber from the forest all the way to our house?” Because it’s not just the lumber yard where you purchase it, it’s the trucks, trains, ships that get the wood from the forest (sustainable or otherwise); it’s the rubber in the tires, the steel in the chassis, the hardhats, the gloves, the dock with its hauling equipment and cranes; it’s the computerized programs that track inventory, the reports, the finance and banking; it’s the plastic ties, the labeling, the marketing and the packaging…it goes on and on.

Marley’s ghost

For some reason, it makes me think of the Marley’s ghost in A Christmas Carol who shows up to haunt Scrooge dragging a long line of chains and money boxes rattling behind him.

Basically, that’s what buy-nothing-new is getting at: recognizing that the mass of stuff we buy new involves a greater participation in this completely unsustainable pitch of manufacturing, marketing, distribution, and sales–unsustainable because it takes resources to create and distribute stuff, but the model doesn’t put stuff back in.

So, the Compact is focused on not introducing more new stuff into the world, borrowing or buying used, and thereby perhaps driving a market demand that items be built better to last longer. That then got me to thinking about Seth Godin’s post commented on here a while ago that he will know we’re actually gaining ground in the environmental movement when cars have LED readers on their bumpers that advertise the mileage–encouraging longevity over new, new, new.

I’m not ready to do the compact quite yet, and when I do, I’ll definitely do a 30 day trial first; but I’m really captured by the thought of reducing the massive global supply chain that goes into our consumerism–making things last longer, repairing, recycling, borrowing, lending. There’s also a wonderful network and community aspect to the Compact that is attractive.

Daily Stats (Friday, Saturday, Sunday)
Car: 8 (2 tasks)
Bike:7 miles
Ped: 3.5 miles
Bus:0
air: 0

PS. I have a confession to make. I’ve gone back and forth and back and forth on whether or not to include other people’s cars in my daily stats. I’ve been incredibly ambivalent about it but have this last week decided: No. This project is about My Car, not all cars. So, I’m really only looking at ways I use my car…and the possibility of living without a “my car” in the future. Thoughts?

Day 115 & 116: MLwC and Paul Hawken’s Blessed Unrest

I’m continuing to read and appreciate Paul Hawken’s new book Blessed Unrest.

One of the compelling aspects of the structure of the book is to wander back through time, considering the many cases where citizens have risen up in outrage or unwillingness to accept the status quo. This is followed by real time cases of outrageous events in our own time: Bhopal and Union Carbide, Standard Oil and other Big Oil co’s in places such as Zimbabwe and the Amazon jungle. The invitation demand for action is nearly implicit.

Michael Spalding is part of another of Hawken’s creations: WiserEarth, a gathering site for input and joining of disparate organizations or individuals who are working on improving the world we currently live in–in lots of different ways. Michael contacted me to let me know about this web based growing un-named movement that is gathering at wiserearth.com. I’ve gone through the site and note that it’s “beta”and there is a definite feeling that the meeting place is trying to find its stride. That could just be me, I’ve asked Michael for more information.

It is exciting though–Hawken and like-minded people are trying to find a way to communicate and come together in a net-molecular way that will create even more energy and focus on issues that matter.

I’m going to spend more time in the site the next couple of days, as I can, to see if I can dig deeper.

Daily stats (Wed & Thu)
Car: 12 miles
bike: 0
ped: 3
bus: 0
air: 1700

Day 114: MLwC, my car in a pinch and Paul Hawken

I had a situation on Monday wherein I learned to appreciate my car. Alas.

I’d scheduled a shared ride pickup with a local Shuttle service to the airport for 7 am. At 7am I was out front waiting patiently. 7:10. 7:15. By now I’m getting nervous because our house is a little hard to find and we’ve had problems before….

At 7:20 I estimated the time needed to get to the airport, check-in and out to the gate. I needed to leave now. So, guess what: I hopped in my car and drove out to the airport, double checking my decision all the way. Could I have asked a neighbor? They were all on their way to their own Monday morning schedules. How about a bus? I didn’t even know the schedule or the route. It’s funny: I used to drive to the airport and park a few days all the time and never gave it another thought, but things are different now and I’m just not used to driving as much. What a thought–I’m not used to driving! So, okay, I drove, I parked, I caught my plane. I was grateful I had a car in this instance–what can I say? It’s true.

Completely unrelated (or maybe not so…), a thought from Paul Hawken’s new book, Blessed Unrest, related to our growing connectivity–on the web and otherwise:

“This movement is a new form of community and a new form of story. At what point in the future will the existence of 2 million, 3 million or even 5 million citizen-led organizations shift our awaremness to the possibility that we will have fundamentally change the way human being govern and organize themseleves on earth. What are the characteristics of leadership required when power arises instead of descends? What would a democracy look like that was not ruled by a dominant minority?

“…What if some very basic values are being reinstilled worldwide and are fostering complex social webs of meaning that represent the future of governance?”

Hawken’s thoughts on the growing movement of social webs of awareness are hopeful. And I have to believe he’s right. We are connected in new and amazing ways, and stories are being shared at a mind-boggling pace–we are creating new, shared vocabularies and priorities…and not waiting for a stamp of approval. Badges? We don’t need no stinkin badges. We will find a new way that works.

Daily stats: (Tuesday)
Car: 0
bike: 0
Bus: 0
air: 0

The most terrifying video….

Ran across this today–The most terrifying video you’ll ever see by wondermind42. It’s well worth the 10 minute view, even if the title is a bit of a reach 😉

It’s a quadrant argument reminiscent of the god/prayer logic: if I pray and God exists, I’m in like flint; If I pray and God doesn’t exist, I haven’t really done any harm, have I? I like quadrant arguments because it forces you to consider options you might want to ignore.

This quadrant argument is wide open to very factually based arguments and increasing swarms of data to fill in the “what-if” scenarios….

Day 113: MLwC and shopping celibacy

The NRDC recently published an article entitled My 30 Days of Consumer Celibacy which is a fun read about one woman’s experiment with the buy-nothing movement. The buy-nothing idea was started by an SF group known as the Compact and has inspired a groundswell of followers and fans. There are a ton of blogs about this movement, just go to google and enter compact or compacters San Francisco. Also, there are compacters in nearly every major city, international, too. Started in 06, it’s taken off like a rocket.

traffic jam

I think it’s an enormous undertaking but I like it, I like it. Not sure I could do it, I’ve got my hands full with my own use-reduction program. I am interested to read that these folks travel, use cars, etc–that they have tackled this one enormous cultural issue–consumerism–and are going to take it apart at a personal level. If we all chose just one culturally instilled mindless activity and spent a year deconstructing it…well, that’d be amazing, flat-out amazing.

Daily Stats (Monday)
Car: 14 miles (hope to post tomorrow: why I needed a car today!)
Bike: 0
Bus:0
Taxi: approx 18 miles
Air: 1700 miles

Day 111 & 112: MLwC and the frog in the water

Green writes an exceptionally uncomfortable post about frogs in increasingly hot water. They won’t, as most know, hop out because they just get used to the increasingly hot water…until of course, it is too late and they are cooked.

Point: obvious. We will likely not make changes until it is too late, and the leadership in this country is particularly frog-like in its decision making.

I’m reading Blessed Unrest right now and the premise of the book is basically, how to not become depressed with the state of environmental affairs. Paul Hawkin speaks to audiences all over the world and found he is able to stay constructive and positive because he knows there is a rapidly growing movement of people like you and me who are determined to change the way they live.

I’ll include some thoughts from this great read over the next few days. I’m traveling again this week which is sort of a drag but don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, my daddy used to say. It pays the mortgage.

Daily stats (Saturday and Sunday)

Car: 14 (3 tasks, 2 people)
Bike:0
Bus: 0
Air: 1700 miles