Monthly Archives: September 2012

If you are pondering indoor air-quality…

If you are pondering indoor air-quality in your home… I urge you to look into the issue of flame-retardants in furniture — specifically in the foam used in mattresses and couches.

Here is an upsetting recent article on the topic PBDEs and chlorinated Tris (I knew about PBDEs, but hadn’t considered that (DUH!) the replacement would probably be just as bad or worse. And that they don’t even work!)

Some good practical advice here (if you are a millionaire)

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Filed under corporations, erik-green, green, health, HVAC, IAQ -- indoor air quality, passive house, science, superinsulation

“Even the hard core in the green movement use washing machine”

Hans Rosling: The magic washing machine — one of the best TED talks I’ve seen (or via youtube) He divides the world into 4 groups. Below the poverty line. (fire people) Below wash line (bulb people). Below air line (wash people). And the rest (the air people) And it’s a zero-sum sustainability game so the dots need to be distributed somehow. Are you going to deny a washing machine to the rest of the world?

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Filed under climate change, energy, energy-efficiency, erik-green, future, green, visualization

Destroying the earth by buying organic locally produced food?

Philip Greenspun has a great point here.
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I think he’s right. I also have probably written on the blog before that CSAs that mean an extra drive each week needs to be considered (since the farm is probably not right on your commute to work or on the way to the grocery store you’d be driving to anyway). If you drive a 20MPG car, are those nice local bio-dynamic vegetables really worth the 1/2 gallon of gas you just burned driving 5 milesx2 to the farm? Visualize 1/2 gallon of gas for a second. It’s not!

See also:
- Visualize Energy
- Hans Rosling: The magic washing machine

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Filed under contrarian, erik-green, food and farming, green, local

Drive to the library? Yeah right.

Careful towns of the world out there… before you spend lots of money on new or revamped libraries. Unless you are in a city, or near a walkable and vibrant town center, they are a tough sell, even with cheap $3.50/gasoline. And how long will that last?

Here’s the math for me in suburban MA:
- Distance to library: 5.2 miles. 10.4 miles round trip
- Our minivan — let’s say I get 20.8 MPG to make the math simple.

So that’s:

10.4 miles * 1/20.8 MPG * $3.50 $/gallon = $1.75 per trip assuming there is no overlap with other errands, which is likely given the route.

And that’s just the cost of the gas of course. If you use the ~$0.50/mi that the US government uses for taxes for business mileage (accounting for the full cost of ownership) then that’s 10.4 miles * $0.50/mi = $5.20 per trip.

And then add in the cost of the time. Let’s say 20 minutes of driving.

It’s a tough sell. Not just the library. All of suburbia. It’s ultimately kinda in serious doo-doo, ain’t it? James Howard Kunstler is probably on to something.

Counter-points and followups:

1) I say all the above as someone who has LOVED libraries in the past. But I guess the difference was: 1) that was pre-interweb and 2) that was libraries I walked to or rode my bike to (the Amherst Jones Library, and the UMass/Amherst Dubois library)

2) I am fond of the idea of the library being a “town center” that is more about ideas and people than being about media (paper or digital). Related concepts are Sudbury Schools, the Transition Town movement (tool sharing, etc), Cohousing.

3) The article linked below talks about “Library as Platform” which to me is basically acknowledging that there are increasing numbers of private services we use which “out do” libraries in terms of connecting us with media. Amazon. Google Books. Goodreads. “The Library” *could* do all of that. But how?
LINK

4) PS. And what about all those duplicate public school libraries! What a shame! What if all the schools in town were clustered around the town’s libraries and they all shared! I know, I know… one can’t turn back the clock on sprawling suburban development. It’s just sorta a shame.

5) Speaking of poorly designed public resources… I’ll talk about the placement and design of playgrounds sometime soon. Ugh. Almost always another huge missed opportunity. But there are some good ones!

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Filed under car, cities, Cohousing, community, erik-green, green, libraries, local, money, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

Order of operations

A is 7 turning 8. He likes math. We have been talking about mathy things since he was quite little. Discussions of googol, googol plex, negative numbers and infinity happened YEARS ago, well before times tables. And today we did some verbal algebra. He totally get’s it. Why not? Big whoop. Math literacy happens at all different ages. Just depends. I’m glad he’s free to develop this interest at his own pace.

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Filed under Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School, unschooling