Thursday, September 27, 2007

Make It Right!

I love Brad and Angelina and their quest for goodness... This is Brad for the organization Make It Right in New Orleans with the commitment to bring affordable, sustainable housing to the Lower 9th Ward devasted by Hurricane Katrina.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

L.A.D.W.P.'s Green Energy Program

I just signed for L.A.D.W.P.'s Green Power program. Again, seems like so little (an extra $3/month) to support L. A.'s green efforts. I found it here on their website. I needed my DWP bill in order to enter my account number, but filling out a simple form online was all it took. I liked how you could choose the percentage of energy you wanted as green energy. I've heard from others in my workshop that previously, you only had the option to purchase 20% green energy. Now you can choose from 20-100% depending on how much you wanted to support.
Makes me proud of our smog torn city.

here's an explanation form the form I filled out...

The price for new green power is slightly higher than power generated from conventional sources such as coal and natural gas. The extra cost is currently 3 cents per kilowatt hour, which is applied only to that portion of renewable energy that is chosen. The minimum contribution percentage for residential or small non-residential customers is 20%, but up to 100% may be elected. For the average LADWP customer that chooses a 20% contribution and whose monthly electric charge is $50, the additional charge would be $3 (or $6 on a bi-monthly bill). This extra cost may be offset by free energy efficiency products and services provided by LADWP. Participating customers are required to remain on the Green Power rate for a period of no less than 12 months.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Items knit from recycled clothing, yarn scraps and found objects from a book called Knitprovisation! The combining of formerly finished products that weren't meant to be so matchy, makes each piece feel so rich with a sense of depth. Via Smarts & Crafts

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Green Workshop Part 3: Waste

There are so many shocking facts about waste. Honestly, I’ve spent the last 15 minutes trying to write about it more simply, but it is too much. Here are links regarding waste to the Sustainable Works blog , a great reference, or just trust that we need to create a cycle rather than a linear process for consumption or else we’ll be living in trash!

Here are the top 5 things we can do according to my Sustainable Works book…

Reuse more, Consume less
This is the mantra. Reusing is always better even if it takes some resources to clean after use. This includes plates, utensils, cups, water bottles, grocery bags. It, then, becomes a cycle, rather than a linear line to the landfill. Some one in the class asked, what was she to do about cups for a birthday party for 50 kids? Instructor said, borrow tumbler cups from friends or neighbors, or if was in your budget, rent from a party supply. Total silence from the group of course, maybe because this would be totally inconvenient, easier to buy 200 disposable cups for $8.99 at Costco, but hold up – fact: Styrofoam takes approx. 500 years to break down in a landfill (One Makes a Difference), ah, whew, okay it’s worth that extra effort. I get it. It was at this point that I realized only by knowing all these crazy messed up facts will I keep myself driven.
Consuming less plastic ziplock bags and paper towels were huge for me, but just being less of a consumer in general was even bigger. I'm just buying less and asking myself 3 or 4 times if it's really truly necessary, end of story.

Recycle Everything
Recycle plastics, paper, glass, cans, anything you can see something being remade out of. This reduced my trash greatly, to the point that in the beginning, we had way more to recycle than to throw in the regular garbage. Also, if you are not sure if it’s recyclable, put it in that recycle bin anyway. I found out that they will keep these non-recyclables stored until they find a way to recycle them.

Give away or donate things you don’t use.
I have to admit, we had so much stuff when we moved into our house, I was embarrassed to tell anyone. We accumulated so many things that ended up in storage and our parents’ homes that when they were all transferred to one place, it was overwhelming. I am proud to say, we have given away about 1/3 if not 1/2 of our stuff and in the process furnished my cousin’s apartment, clothed friends and relatives, and have made more than a dozen trips to Goodwill.

Close the Loop. Cradle to cradle.
This is the other mantra! Buy things made from the things you recycle. What a great feeling. I recycle all this paper and then purchase recycled paper goods in return. Of course! Barent, our instructor, was wearing a black t shirt from Pategonia made from recycled plastic bottles the other day! It’s amazing what they are doing now. I’ve also now been taking note of the percentage of post-consumer content on recycled products.

A few other things:
Harzadouse Waste Facility - old batteries, used light bulbs, old paint, anything with a cord should be disposed of at your nearest facility. They will leak toxic chemicals that will get into our ground water if it is not disposed of properly. Bad! I am guilty of having one too many paint sample quarts and leftover paint from the last 9 years or so. Having said that, I am happy I finally brought all of it to the Hazardous Waste Facility today. Now that I know more about more toxic waste, it’s actually a relief to have it out of the house!
Compost – so little time, but I itch to do this every time I throw veggies in the garbage! Very soon for me, I hope.
Eliminate Junk mail – I just signed up for Will post about what happens.
Try a zero waste lunch! – very cool concept! I stopped using paper napkins in restaurants in exchange for a handkerchief.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

fall flora

a lovely fro of fall flowers from Sabine.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

unfortunately, we weren't invited, but i loved seeing this sunset dinner table at the chateau marmont probably set up for a special someone, their spouse and 10 of their closest friends...

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Green Workshop Part 2: Energy

When I think of energy, I wonder why new homes don't come standard with solar power. It seems like the right thing to do. After this workshop we decided to divert our kitchen remodel funds to solar power.

- This one is easy - Compact Flourescent Light bulbs. Change as many as possible to CFL's simply put, they take a fifth of the energy traditional incandescnets do, and last ten times longer. Our big question was if we should wait till the other ones burn out... the answer, and this was from the experts, was no. Don't wait one more minute. The earth’s resources are already so depleted that we cannot afford to use electricity in excess especially if there is a way to use a fraction of it. I guess this is also the case with anything that saves water - so we replaced the toilet even though it could last another few years - it was wasting water and that's what mattered most!
- Use task lighting instead of the larger overhead light. Makes sense. Need one for my desk.

- Unplug all unused appliances, even your TV and VCR. Apparently, there is this thing called phantom energy which is the energy that is used when your appliance is idle or in standby mode. So this means everything with a remote. Appliances are waiting attentively for a signal from your remote so they are definitely on - this idle time accounts for 93% of what we are paying for! For answering machines and cordless phones, it's 98%! (Alan Meier of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory) When I told my sister about this, she immediately started unplugging things around the house. The best thing to do is to have the VCR and TV on a power strip so that it is easy to turn off when not in use.

Heating and Cooling:
- This was easy. We set our thermostat to 78 degrees when we had the AC on this summer. Seemed like no big deal but apparently it will save us 3-5% of our energy bill with each degree higher. My friend Jon was shocked when he saw that his energy bill dropped to approx $50 this summer from $150 last summer after changing his thermostat one degree from 77 to 78 . Crazy.
- Got rid of our electric space heaters. They gobble up so much energy.
- Installed ceiling fans this past spring after last summer's heat wave. They're perfect all year round.
- We’ve recently installed more tinting of our windows to keep the UV rays out and create more insulation. Window tinting can block up to 50% UV rays.
- We’ve also opted for more blankets and sweaters instead of the heater which I will do gladly after these last heat waves.

Washing Machines and Dishwashers
- Run washer only when it's full. They use the same energy with a full load or half load. Turn off the drying cycle in the dishwasher and let the dishes just air dry.
- I love these dryer tips directly from my sustainable works book. I think I want to print them out and tape the washer dryer.
- line dry when weather permits: I’ve been line drying the easy to dry t shirts all summer. I put the rest of the wet clothes in the dryer and set the time to half of what I would usually set it to.
- clean the lint filter before each load – if lint is allowed to collect, drying time and energy consumption increases.
- dry full laundry loads but make sure not to overload the dryer
- do not over dry – I was amazed at how little time it truly takes to dry clothes.
- dry continuously – energy is spent warming a cold dryer.

As we remodel our home we will be
- only purchasing Energy Star products
- looking to eventually install solar panels
- also looking into a tankless water heater


the 11th Hour

Whew, what a weekend. With triple digit temperatures, a random 4 a.m. thunder storm, one brown out, and a small earthquake Sunday morning, uh, I think someone is trying to tell us something! We took refuge at a movie theater yesterday afternoon finding it quite appropriate to be watching the 11th Hour.
The idea behind everyone's message -- the earth is sick, it needs healing. The earth will survive it's sickness, but will we? The earth had been around for billions of years morphing from one form to another. We on the other hand are just one civilization occupuying the planet. Are we driving ourselves to extinction? This movie interviews dozens of independent experts who each explain, mostly through science, what brought us to the point. Industrialism, our addiction to fossil fuels, the myth that we have a limitless supply of resources, has advanced us beyond our expectations, but this as also made us become more separate from nature, therefore are not fully aware the harm that we are causing. As one woman said in my Sustainable Works Workshop, you feel so horrible and guilty in the first half of the movie, thank god the second half is about hope and the reality is that most of human kind never had the intent to be this destructive. We just weren't aware. Now is the time to become more aware and not ignore the things we hear in the news, but to take action within our own lives.

If we look at this as an opportunity, it is an exciting time to be able to redesign, well, everything we know with a new frame of mind, a new purpose to make sure the products we create from this point forward are reusable, recycable, creating the least impact to the earth. It's the idea of cradle to cradle instead of cradle to grave. It gives me, as a designer, a purpose larger than myself and beyond just trying to make a living.
Feeling overwelmed about all this is normal, so as a general rule of thumb, I'm realizing that it is more simply about SLOWWWING DOWWWWN - what are we really buying, what we are eating, where are we always going, do we really need all these material things, do we really need to consume this much???
Go see it, and see it in theaters to support the movie financially.