Meet the Urshuz
February 22, 2011, 6:08 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Interchangeable soles?  That are recyclable?  That’s what Grant Delgatty envisioned, and come June 2011, his dream will become a reality.

With shoes having an attached sole, the consumer is forced to purchase a new pair of shoes when their current ones wear out.  Delgatty had an idea and ran with it: the “convertible shoe.”

At just $60 a pair, Urshuz allows the consumer to swap out their old, worn out soles for brand new ones.  Like recapping a tire, when applying new soles, the consumer simply hooks the soles to the shoe with U-shaped hoops.  Diversity was one of Delgatty’s main goals, and he has delivered.  The consumer has the ability to swap the soles for a sneaker, flip-flop, or open-toe sandal.

Instead of needing to buy a new pair of shoes, and potentially throw out your old pair, you now have the ability to be eco-friendly in when shoe-shopping.

Excellent idea, and when they become available, I will be purchasing a pair of these – as long as they come in a size 13.



Tokyo Setting New Standard
February 22, 2011, 5:49 pm
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Tokyo just might be on to something.

Yesterday, it was announced that Panasonic has joined forces with Tokyo Gas to develop fuel cell technology that would allow the citizens of Tokyo to energize their homes.

As stated in the Hydrogen Journal, “By using the system to provide electricity, heating and hot water, Panasonic estimates that users can reduce ‘primary’ (gas + electric) consumption by 35 per cent, reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 48 per cent, and cut annual electricity bills by 50,000 to 60,000 yen (USD $600 to $720). The generation efficiency is rated at 40 per cent, compared to 37 per cent efficiency for the previous model.”

One of the greatest aspects of fuel cell technology, in my opinion, is that since the electricity is created on site, there is no energy lost during the transmission.  Talk about efficient!

This isn’t the first time Panasonic and Tokyo Gas have produced a product that reduces one’s carbon footprint, but rather a more efficient version of the 2009 model.  It is half the size of the original product, and as Panasonic stated, it is the “world’s highest power generation efficiency.”

The new Ene-Farm can be used for up to 50,000 hours, or roughly 6 years of 24-hour a day use.

I wonder how long it would take for Panasonic to make a U.S.-friendly version of the Ene-Farm.  If the federal government would partner with Panasonic to make units that would be usable in all types of living quarters in the United States, we could drop our consumption of coal exponentially.  The possibilities are endless.  We just need to take a stand and push for this incredible technology.

For more information on the Ene-Farm, please click here.



Geothermal Heating?
February 15, 2011, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Focusing on Deborah Huso’s discussion in Natural Home Magazine on geothermal heat pumps, which heat and cool homes with no fuel and minimal electricity, using the earth’s internal temperature, I had a thought regarding the U of O. Geothermal systems save 30 to 70 percent on energy bills, which must be outrageously high for a university.  Considering how the U of O gives off the perception of being a “green” campus, wouldn’t this be something right up their alley?  A way to put up or shut up, so to speak?

Huso goes into detail, stating that unlike conventional heat pumps, geothermal systems draw heating and cooling from inside the earth via vertical or horizontal pipes that circulate water or environmentally safe antifreeze through loops underground or submerged in a pond. During the winter, geothermal heat pumps pull warm air from the earth to heat the building, while during the summer, the process works in reverse as the system pulls heat out of the building and pumps it back into the ground.

For an average sized house, it would cost roughly $25,000 to $50,000 to install a geothermal heat pump, so the cost would be exponentially higher for the U of O to put in geothermal systems across campus.  And while they generally cost about 30 percent more than a conventional HVAC system, tax breaks would have paid for the system in a matter of 5-7 years, and would be something the university could claim they have done to better our planet and to promote sustainability.

If only the U of O was willing to set a benchmark for universities around the world, we could be amongst the leading innovators in such a large-scale sustainability movement.

You can view an illustration of how a geothermal system works here.

Mmm…green beer?
February 9, 2011, 1:42 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Well, Sierra Nevada Brewing is at it again.  This time, instead of coming out with a new delicious beer, they are creating green beer.  And not just for St. Paddy’s Day.

Sierra Nevada founder and CEO Ken Grossman, head of the sixth largest brewery in the United States, has a goal of becoming totally self-sustaining, in environmental terms.

Grossman’s company-wide “green movement” includes water treatment and water conservation, both of which recognize the Sierra Nevada mountain range’s carefully hoarded and distributed wealth of pure water, and including such details as composing, recycling and the production of bio-fuels.

As Grossman grew up hiking the Sierra mountains, he learned that you cannot live in nature without respecting it.  Due to his “nature first” mentality, Sierra Nevada has received the Waste Reduction Awards Program (WRAP) award, California’s premier environmental award for sustainable business, for the past five years.

The solar power, recovery systems, water treatment and conservation, and hybrid transportation of Sierra Nevada aren’t selling points for Grossman, but rather a responsible way of expanding his company.

This has to be one of the greatest things I have ever heard of.  Granted, I am a true fan of Sierra Nevada Brewing, but what about this isn’t absolutely incredible?  Outside of the brewing process, Sierra Nevada encourages, and rewards, its employees for riding their bicycles not only to work, but to run errands, or to simply get from Point A to Point B.  They’re recycling program alone is something to boast about.  In 2007, 98,2% of Sierra Nevada Brewing’s waste, or 33,038 tons of materials, were recycled rather than reaching U.S. landfills.  From cardboard to glass, plastics to wood and scrap metal, Sierra Nevada has gone above and beyond what most individuals do in their households.  Ken Grossman has given the world an excellent example of how to integrate the sustainable mentality into a very successful company.  If only other large corporations would follow in his footsteps.

For full article, click here.

Zero-Waste Denim: The Wave of the Future
February 4, 2011, 2:26 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Parsons The New School For Design has teamed up with Loomstate to showcase a collaboration to create zero-waste denim fashions February 8-23, 2011 at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons.

Through Parsons collaboration with  Loomstate, Rogan Gregory and Scott Mackinlay Hahn’s eco-friendly label, they will produce one of the Parsons student-designed looks as part of their Fall 2011 collection. The selected look will be announced at the opening reception.

What a great concept.  Loomstate uses organic cotton from the United States, Turkey, Peru, India and parts of Africa to adhere to the company’s code of conduct and must use the highest environmental and labor standards, controlling factory pollution, and enforcing fair labor as the cornerstone of the effort.

The thought of zero-waste clothing is an incredible thing.  Personally, I think of the Dane Cook joke about his father’s robe being made of wheat when I hear someone discussing zero-waste denim, but this has to be one of the coolest sustainable projects I’ve heard of to date.


UNWTO and UNEP Partner to Boost Sustainable Tourism
February 4, 2011, 1:38 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Read all about it!  The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has partnered up with the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in an attempt to enhance sustainability within the global tourism sector.

Wow, why this wasn’t done sooner is beyond me, but better late than never, right?

The recently launched Global Partnership for Sustainable Tourism (GPST) is composed of five UN organizations,  governments, multilateral bodies, the private sector and non-governmental organizations.  GPST aims to “transform tourism worldwide”, through uniting the existing sustainable tourism initiatives around the world so that they can transfer experience and practices and put them into action. The Partnership will share knowledge, collect successful initiatives and replicate them to meet global needs.

You can read all about the partnership here, along with UNEP’s press release.

What Moves Us
February 4, 2011, 12:23 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Thanksgiving 2005. I went to Chinatown in Portland, Oregon, ready and willing to do whatever the Union Gospel Mission needed me to do to help serve the homeless of the city. I was assigned to hand out napkins and plates to those wanting a hot Thanksgiving meal. Not a very difficult task, and while I felt I could do more, I did my job, thinking I was helping as needed. Little did I know that it was those I would serve that would ultimately inspire me.

A man walked up to me, as I was the first person in the line everyone wanting a meal came to before receiving Thanksgiving turkey, mashed potatoes & gravy, yams, pumpkin pie, and stuffing. I greeted him with a smile and wished him a Happy Thanksgiving. At this point, the line ahead of this man was rather long, so he stood by me for a while before he moved forward to receive his hot meal, something necessary on this day where the temperatures were in the thirties.

“So, what is a guy like you doing down here with us on Thanksgiving? Don’t you have a family to be with?” Indeed, I did, and still do, have a family to spend my holidays with. They were with me this Thanksgiving, helping out in other areas as needed for this massive event.

“There are a lot of ways to show how thankful we are for what we have. My family and I chose to come downtown and give back to a community that most neglect. I want to be here.” That last little bit caught the man off-guard, and I could tell he was slightly stunned. “Why the hell would you want to be down here with us? Don’t you have a warm home and food on the table? Man, if I had those things, you can bet your ass I wouldn’t be down here!”

It’s an interesting conundrum. The homeless question the help others willingly offer them, yet if the roles were reversed, they would stay as far away from this life they’ve become so accustomed to, even if they would be helping those in need.

We got to talking, and I learned that I had much more in common with this man than I initially believed. He was from the East Coast, but had moved to Montana sometime in the early 1990’s. The past five years, he hopped trains and traveled wherever the trains would take him. He told me of how he played hockey until he graduated from high school, and we talked about our shared interest in the sport until the entire line in front of him had cleared, and those behind him became unruly.

As he became visibly frustrated with the crowd behind him, he turned to me and said something I will never forget. “Man, if all people were like you, the world would be a hell of a better place. Happy Thanksgiving.” And off he went, stomach growling in anticipation for his hot meal.

When most people think about the homeless, they generally think about dirty, drug-addicted, destitute people whom have no ability, and no hope, to get out of the horrendous situation they are in. But the most stupefying thing about this isn’t that we have such a negative connotation toward the homeless population. It’s that we don’t try to help them.

Across the country, the homeless population is on the rise. In Oregon alone, the number of homeless students rose 14 percent from last year’s numbers, with more than 18,000 homeless students in the state.

Take a minute to let that sink in.

18,000 children from elementary school to high school go to school every weekday, and when that final bell rings, they don’t have permanent housing to return to. They don’t have that security and level of comfort knowing that everything is going to be alright, that they and their family are safe and secure.

Don’t believe it? This link here will show the staggering numbers.

Since that Thanksgiving in 2005, I’ve had a longing to help the homeless in whatever manner I can. From handing out food with my mom whenever we drove around, to filming a mini-documentary to try and raise awareness of what the regular homeless person goes through on a daily basis.

But it’s now time to take this one step further. As I enter the heart of my journalism degree, taking four of the thirteen SOJC classes necessary to obtain my degree, I’ve had my passion reignited. One of my classes will be focusing on communicating sustainability, and how we as journalists will be able to make a “greener” planet, for lack of a better term.

After one class, I started thinking, “How could this be integrated in a project to help the homeless in EugeneEugene?”

Then, the gears started spinning and the ideas started rolling.

What if the City of Eugene could fund, or help fund, sustainable housing for the homeless in Eugene?

Granted, it would most likely start with one or two houses that could house 20-30 people at a time, but think about the positive aspects that could come from a project like this. We would help get people off the streets, where they run the risk of death, especially during these cold winter months. We would be able to cycle money into the local economy by hiring local companies and workers to build the houses and install the sustainable products, such as solar panels. And, my personal favorite, we could provide an opportunity for the homeless to slowly integrate back into mainstream society by teaching them essential skills and trades that would allow them to obtain permanent employment and would give them an option that simply is not available to them at this current juncture.

I’m proposing my ideas in my Gateway to Journalism class tomorrow (Friday), but I plan on discussing my ideas with my “Communicating Sustainability” professor (or Creative Director, as she likes to think of herself) this evening after class to get her input on how this idea could become a reality in Eugene.

As I make more developments, I will fill everyone in on them, but for the time being, all I have are these ideas floating around my head as to how to take this from a great thought to a great movement, not only in Eugene, but across the country.

Until next time,