Oil is Too Expensive for Wasteful Use

Looks like those “crazy environmentalists” were right all along: the cost of oil has gotten so high that companies are looking for alternatives. When it comes to companies that rely on petroleum-based products they’ve noticed that their profits are dwindling because the cost of oil has gone up, so the bioplastics industry is now on the rise.

Hopefully this increase in the insane consumption of oil will spur on more companies looking for alternative options. These options exist and are being produced already, we just need the forethought to use them now.

“A lot of brand owners, particularly those that rely heavily on packaging, are interested in protecting their long-term costs,” said Douglas A. Smock, a plastics analyst who wrote a report for market research firm BCC Research that predicted a boom in plant-based bioplastics. “They want more predictable cost structures going forward. The high price of oil is responsible for the rapid emergence in interest in bioplastics.”

Ford said it has eliminated 5 million pounds of petroleum annually by using soybean-based cushions in all of its North American vehicles. The company said it got rid of an additional 300,000 pounds of oil-based resins a year by making door bolsters out of kenaf, a tropical plant in the cotton family.

“Finding alternative sources for materials is becoming imperative as petroleum prices continue to rise and traditional, less-sustainable materials become more expensive,” said John Viera, Ford’s global director of sustainability and vehicle environmental matters.

Read the rest of the article.

More Women Riding Bikes in Southern California

Regular readers probably know that bicycles are the best form of transportation imaginable (I may be biased). It’s always good to read of efforts to get more people in North America riding bicycles, and to make things even better there’s a group of women in southern California that encourages other women to ride.

Balmer founded WOBSoCal because of stories just like hers. She recalls her own tentative return to cycling: “I was afraid I would ride too far and then be too tired to get back; then I’d feel humiliated.” Once she finally relented, her first ride was in a Christmas parade, “which was a great seduction.” Her fears were instantly replaced by her newfound passion.

“Whether you have to or want to choose a bike for transportation, we want to celebrate it,” said Balmer. Not only is biking fun, it is also healthy, convenient and affordable; so why aren’t more women riding?

Read more at Momentum.

Germany Achieves 50% of Power Consumption from Renewable Sources

Germany continues to show the rest of the industrialized world how to be economical successful thanks to sound energy policy. This past week the country achieved a symbolic victory in their campaign to be a more efficient country and had 50% of the energy consumed come from renewable energy sources.

Government-mandated support for renewables has helped Germany became a world leader in renewable energy and the country gets about 20 percent of its overall annual electricity from those sources.

Germany has nearly as much installed solar power generation capacity as the rest of the world combined and gets about four percent of its overall annual electricity needs from the sun alone. It aims to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.

Link to Reuters article.

A Good Book Review on Health

Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs (Simon & Schuster, April 2012) acts as the conclusion to the author’s bestselling “humble quest” trilogy.  As with The Know-It-All and The Year of Living Biblically, Jacobs takes his readers on a wild and crazy journey, this time into the world of health.

We all see the ads on tv and the billboards that simultaneously berate and encourage us to optimize our lifestyles with a kind of paternalistic best-friend’s-secret style condescension.  ‘Exercise more’, ‘eat this’ have given way to ‘exercise THIS way THIS often’ and ‘eat THESE foods in THESE portions THIS frequently’.  How to sift through it all and figure out where to start?

Jacobs has had the same crisis of conscience and so he undertakes a two-year-long fore into the health world, testing all the theories and new food options that leave the rest of us stuck in limbo.  From his first afternoon, we see how complex and involved this undertaking will be.

He first tackles the issue of want in a first world consumerist society when he visits Paul McGlothin, director of research for the Calorie Restriction (CR) Society, who offers him a blueberry… but not to eat.  At least, not yet.

Blueberries are notoriously good for you.  Full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, they’re the Vanderbilts of the berry world.

Read more

Dwell’s Top Green Projects of 2012

Architecture magazine Dwell has released their top ten green projects in the USA for this year. It would be great to see this done in a global perspective.

On April 19th, AIA’s Committee on the Environment (COTE) announced the COTE Top Ten Green Project Awards: their selection of the most sustainable buildings across the country. COTE advocates environmentally conscious building and focuses on educating architects and the public about green design. This year’s winners had an unprecedented focus on public utility and budgeting and there was an unusually high number of adaptive reuse projects and concentration on community ties. Watch the slideshow to learn what made the 10 winners.

View the slideshow.

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