today's link roundup

This entry to a design competition solves the problem of milk going bad before it's all used. The shrinking jug keeps air out of milk and keeps it fresh for up to a week longer than a regular carton. If these go into production, I'll take one!

This article came out last month, but it's still an interesting dichotomy. The US Department of Energy failed its own energy audit. What does it say that the ones in charge don't follow their own standards?

I watched this piece on American E-waste in China last night on 60 Minutes. It's a very stark look at what happens to our old computer monitors once we seemingly send them off for recycling. They're ending up in China and basically poisoning the residents of Guiyu, even though exporting monitors there is illegal. It raises the question of which electronics recycling companies are actually doing the right thing and which are just passing off our trash to other countries, where they're left to poison drinking water and harm the workers who dismantle the equipment. I would love to do more research on this issue, as I've been taking old electronics to Best Buy for recycling.

Newsweek wonders where the new green jobs are, and what is actually constituted as a "green job". They interview President Obama's green czar, Van Jones, with a skeptical attitude about if we can implement such large-scale change by creating these green jobs.

A teenager in Canada did his science fair project on decomposing a plastic bag in three months, leaving behind simply water and carbon dioxide. I officially feel dumber than a 16-year-old.

Planet Green has a great resource page for all sorts of composting information. I have not begun my own composting system, but this page has given me lots of good information that will help me once I do start.

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solar mifflin

At work a few weeks ago, I was given the task of finding solar panel options. Louisiana has some great tax incentives for people who install solar panel systems, so if we end up going the solar route, now is the time.

I have also begun researching alternative lighting options. Since it has been so hot this summer, we have kept the about 10 of the 13 400-watt light bulbs off to keep the heat down, much to the chagrin of my aesthetic-focused boss. I emailed a coworker's architect father about my plans, and he advised that skylights may not be the best option for us since they also let heat in. Solar tubes are used for places that actually have a ceiling - we just have the underside of the roof. Therefore, the best, least-expensive option would be alternative light bulbs.

So today I started the search for CFL or LED 400-watt-equivalent light bulbs. If we had bulbs that didn't give off so much heat or didn't create almost-blinding intense light, I would be less opposed to turning the lights on in the first place. Of course the bulbs will cost more than conventional bulbs, but they will need replacing less often, so they pay for themselves in the end.

I'm still a bit skeptical that my office will be a solar panel leader, but even just researching these options will teach me a lot of valuable information and put me in contact with people who could really help me in the future.
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still here

I've been preoccupied lately, but I've been spending a little time to figure out what my next green adventure will be.

I've talked before about my idea to influence restaurants to ditch the styrofoam. Last week I was at a restaurant for lunch and the person I was with needed a to-go box. The waitress brought over a small and large styrofoam box and he took the small one. I didn't see, but I heard that unmistakable sound. The waitress tossed the never-used large styrofoam container. And my coworker asked, "Is that killing you?" "Yes. Yes it is."

And it's just more of a motivator for me to get started on my campaign. I want to begin by getting all kinds of facts and research and essentially writing a paper on why styrofoam is such a bad idea, then getting research on the best, most cost-effective alternatives. Then I'll need to figure out how to distribute it. I think I shall start researching during my lunch hours.

I have also been ruminating on the idea of getting a bicycle. I love the idea of biking to my boyfriend's house, the nearest fast food restaurant and the big box store across the street, along with the produce stand not far away. The reality is that I do not live on a bicycle -friendly street, and I'm kind of terrified of biking in the street. I live too far from work to bike, but I'd love to bring my bike so I could go for rides during lunch hour. I would require a kitschy, hot pink crate on my bicycle, no matter what.
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helping the earth and getting drunk while doing it

I was at the grocery store last night getting ingredients for dinner and decided to grab a bottle of Cabernet, since it's been a hell of a week. My system for choosing a good bottle of wine goes something like this: look for anything less than $11, then look for the one with the prettiest label or most ironic name. Yesterday, I couldn't make up my mind, but then came across the Fetzer cabernet, which looked very fancy for its $7.50 pricetag, so in my cart it went. 

While I was making dinner, I popped the cork, and that's when I really noticed the label. Fetzer is "The Earth Friendly Wine." Hey HEY hey! Go me for inadvertently picking the green wine. I perused the website and found that not only do they produce organic wines, but their winery is very eco-friendly, with them cutting down on emissions, having solar panels, using recycled bottles and putting biodiesel in their trucks.

It's great that there's an environmentally responsible wine company, and even greater that Wal-Mart carries it, and EVEN greater that it's not astronomically expensive. But the important part – does it taste good?

Hell yeah!

This one's a winner.
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eat local louisiana challenge

The Louisiana Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner, Mike Strain, has issued a challenge to all Louisiana residents: Eat locally for the week. Buy food grown in the state only.

The Independent's blog has a post about this, and they will be updating it with a list of where to find great local products.

“Think of the possibilities: peaches from Ruston, watermelons from Franklinton, blueberries from the Felicianas, crawfish from the Atchafalaya and pork and beef from your local meat markets and rice and gravy. Seasonings would be no problem because Louisiana hot sauces are among the best in the world and the state is a leader in salt production."
Mike Strain

Just this weekend, I hit one of the farmer's markets in town and got some cucumbers, eggplant, zucchini and wheat bread. Since I was looking for some okra, I ended up later at Fresh Pickins, where I went crazy buying different things, including okra. I ended up at the honey shelf, with different kinds made by a lady in Colfax. FYI, the wildflower honey in green tea is excelente. I've had two cups in order to get through the day. Yesterday I made a delicious vegetarian lunch of spaghetti with olive oil and garlic with a side of grilled squash, zucchini and eggplant. I think this is the beginning of becoming a locavore. I enjoyed my time at Fresh Pickins, because I was able to get just enough for what I could eat, instead of having to get a large quantity of something. It was also a lot less expensive than if I'd gone to a grocery store. 

Also on Saturday morning, I went to a friend's garage sale and came away with a few things. So between the garage sale and the farmer's market, I'm pleased with myself. Giving new life to a couple shirts and pairs of earrings, supporting local farmers and eating vegetarian. 

And now the rest of the state has a challenge for the week. Louisiana produces some amazing food - take advantage of it! (When you're not dining at a local restaurant for EatLafayette, of course.)
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