Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Garbage - by Chris Jordan

I learned about these pictures yesterday. They are a telling addition to my new concerns about candy wrappers!
Be sure to check out Chris Jordan's website to see his pictures of electronics waste, cigarette butts, cars...

We sure are doing a good job of covering up this beautiful country! It would be nice if we could figure out how to reuse and recycle things instead of just throwing them into landfills! If we lived sustainably, Chris Jordan could take pictures of mountains, rivers, trees and flowers - or happy children!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Putting the sun in a jar

grapefruit marmelade boiling
Originally uploaded by bonbayel.
Sunshine comes in many forms, even grapefruit!

I had picked a lot of wonderful pink grapefruit from my PEO sister Barbara's tree--so many, they filled the refrigerator.

So when a chance came to provide something for a fundraiser, I figured I could try to make marmalade for the first time. (I've made gallons of cherry and berry jams and jellies before, but never marmalade, and I picked the grapefruit myself, just like all those blackberries, gooseberries, black and red currants and lovely red sour cherries in Denmark.)

Since we had some ginger, I added grated ginger to half of it for variety. All the small jars I've saved-- from artichokes, olives, mustard--are perfect for marmalade.

I fixed up a couple of pictures in Illustrator for labels, which I've also uploaded to the Flickr Marmalade set.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Which would you choose?

Old and New
Originally uploaded by bonbayel.
I finished my Adobe Illustrator course with a redesign of the Clif Bar package, which would be fun if they would use when they finally introduce their biodegradable wrapper (see a few messages below.)

I put together this collage of the original package and my new design. My thoughts for the new package were to emphasize the flavor (which is hard to determine on the old) and the nutrition, rather than "Energy Bar." Which would you pick?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Energy Efficiency

The sceptics are at it again. Now they understand that Climate Change exists, that it's caused to a considerable degree by the mess we've made of the planet, that it's not China and India's fault (in fact, China is supporting sustainables more than the US government is.) So now they're saying that it's too late to do anything about it! Of course if it hadn't been for their dragging their feet way back when we'd have been in much better shape now than we are.

But I am (usually) an optimist. I really think we can run this world on renewable sources just like we did 200 years ago, except with a whole lot of high tech to help us do it better.

And we don't even have to generate as much energy per capita that people have been estimating, because the best way to have enough energy is to use less of it.

We've already learned a lot about energy efficiency. I've read recently that LA still is providing about the same level of energy now as some number of years ago, even though the population increase has been phenomenal (unfortunately.) The way they did is was that appliances, light bulbs, etc. use less energy.

John and I have been working toward energy efficiency throughout the 7 years of our marriage. We started by buying a Honda Insight for me when I moved here. John had already traded in his Gran Cherokee for a smaller sedan, which he has now switched to a Prius. Even though I have that great car, I used a bus or train wherever possible to commute, and now only work from home. I can walk or bike to almost all my daily needs: supermarket, pharmacy, doctors, gym, downtown, Claremont Farmer's Market, etc. so my little Insight just sits in the garage.

We have of course switched almost all our lamps to fluorescents, too. And last year we started trading in all our energy guzzling appliances to Energy Star rated ones. Some of these were probably original with the condo (from 10-30 years old.) We started with a great new airconditioner / furnace, which immediately cut our electric bill by at least 25%. Then the dishwasher and microwave conked out, so we have new Energy Stars of them now, too. The 10-year old refrigerator went next.

This week we got a new front-loading washing machine, like the ones I knew in Denmark. We just did our first load and were amazed at how big a load can be. This will cut back on our washing considerably, because we will probably be able to do a third fewer loads. Then it centrifuges very fast, so the clothers are almost dry when they come out. This will cut back the need for the dryer, as well as dryer time, another savings. Thirdly, it uses very little water, so it doesn't have to use much energy to heat it up.

All of the appliances except the AC are Sears Kenmore, which appears to have the very best Energy Star ratings for the affordable products.

I think we'll save the gas-powered dryer and stove until we know for sure we're getting solar panels. Then we can get electric versions, and save even more.

We do need a new hot water heater. I've been looking into tankless hot water heaters, which originally were all gas, but now also exist as electric. But they're so new it's hard to find good information about them. Manufacturers tell how great the electric ones are (which I tend to believe, particularly if we're going solar.) The independent reviewers don't think electric tankless heaters are good enough, although I expect it's because they haven't been keeping up with the latest products. And there is no Energy Star rating for them either, so there is no guidance there either (or rebate, for that matter!)