Category: Green Tuesday

There were two ‘Green’ companies at the 2008 Urban Bicycle Commuter Expo that caught our attention. The first one is Totally Tubular.

Like RL mentioned,

They take old tires and tubes and make them into something useful such as wallets, purses and bags. The items they had were priced reasonably well, all ranged from $5 to $20. But I think the bigger bags were a bit more. I asked them if they used those industrial sized sewing machines and they said yes. It took them a long time to get down the process of making bags because they kept breaking needles trying to sew tires and tubes. I also asked how they got rid of the rubber smell…ready for this……washing machine.

The other company is called Path to Freedom. The following is an excerpt of Path to Freedom’s mission statement:

Path to Freedom strives to inspire individuals to “think globally, act locally” by motivating them to live a simpler and more fulfilling life on the path to eco-stewardiship.

The above picture is of a Solar Oven, the Path to Freedom people were cooking up some Pizzas and cookies while we were at the show. I’m looking into buying their environmentally friendly stainless steel water bottle. Check out their site (http://pathtofreedom.com/) for more info.

First of all, I’m no environmentalist by any means, I believe that helping the environment is a ‘side effect’ of bike commuting. But lately I’ve been posing this question to myself and others: “What do you think about the environment and does it concern you?” The answer I get is: “Well, I recycle” but there’s not much of a concern.

We also get bombarded with “Green” products from all kinds of companies, in fact, there is a term for it: ‘green washing’. We can also assume that we may not see the full blown effects of global warming in our life times, so there’s no sense of urgency.

So I guess the questions are, should we be concerned? should we do more to help the environment?

Yeah, I know…this is pretty late on a Tuesday for a “Green Tuesday” article, but I made it under the wire!

I hope everyone did something green and fun for their Earth Day celebrating — our family got to spend the day riding bicycles!

fun times

Early this morning, my wife decided that we should celebrate Earth Day by going entirely car-free. This is a pretty regular day for me…I only drive my car about once every two weeks or so, on average (I really need to get rid of that thing!), but it is rare that Leah and I both have a day off together, and since she works odd hours, she often drives her car to work and doesn’t get to ride her bike that much during the rest of the week.

So, we decided to do everything by bike today, and we had a lot of fun with it. First, we took our son to school by bike, something I do most days of the week but rarely together with Leah.

Then, we went grocery shopping. 5 bags of groceries fit beautifully in her Basil panniers and my Wald fold-out grocery baskets attached to my “patented grocery gitter“:

groceries

When it was time to pick up our son from school, I raced home to switch out bikes for the Redline R530. My son’s trailer hitch doesn’t clamp properly on the narrow chainstays of the grocery gitter, but the Redline’s beefy chainstay is perfect for it.

We decided that we’d stop by the local lake on the way home (Lake Roberta in the historic Hampton Terrace neighborhood of central Tampa) to feed the ducks and turtles with a sack of stale bread.

lake roberta

Here come the ducks!

here come the ducks

The lake is absolutely full of turtles, too…from cooters to sliders to really big softshell turtles and probably a snapper or two. In the evenings, the softshell turtles are more active, but they must hide during the day because we only saw a couple off in the distance. This one is either a cooter or a slider…I can never remember which is which:

cooter or slider?

All in all, we had a wonderful day — didn’t fire up the car once, got a little exercise and got to check out the neighborhood “wildlife”. Good times!

I found a great at Entrepreneur.com about incentive programs that companies can take to lessen their carbon foot print.

Biking to and from the office is also gaining popularity: “We give out a bicycle to everyone who has worked at the company for at least one year,” says Bryan Simpson of New Belgium Beer in Fort Collins, Colorado. The environmentally driven brewery, which runs on the power of wind turbines, has seen more employees biking than your average brewery and even hosts a philanthropic bike festival called the Tour de Fat, which celebrates bicycling as a viable form of transportation.


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This week’s Green Tuesday post is really a simple reflection on urban design…

When I first started cycling for recreation, I felt my urban utopia would be a place with miles of smooth-as-glass roadway for my cycling pleasure – the ultimate and never-ending century ride if you will. In Phoenix, I certainly have miles of roadway, but it is cracked, overcrowded, and leads to nowhere except the next Starbuck’s. Having a comfortable surface to ride a bike on is nice, but too often I feel I get spoiled when I have smooth and safe roadways – that is certainly not the overall reality of American urban infrastructure.

The cycling community is faced with a paradox – we want safe thoroughfares, but so long as we have to share them with cars, safety will be minimal. However, the cycling community does not exert enough influence (read: $$$) to have cycling/pedestrian-specific infrastructure built into our cities. It seems any time you hear a city touting some new cycling infrastructure, it is a few miles of narrow pathway through a park or affluent area of town – nothing that is ultimately useful for utilitarian purposes. Sure it stands to offer moments of happiness and recreation to the American family, but that happiness is gone as soon as one gets back into their automobile and sits through hellish traffic.

American cities are not designed to support infrastructure apart from automobiles. We spread our cities out farther and farther because our stores and homes need more and more room. Phoenix is currently considering a proposal to develop state park lands in order to build ANOTHER freeway to help alleviate traffic problems. That makes me sick.

We keep trying to put layer after layer of band-aids/duct tape over our gaping wounds of urban infrastructure, when we could solve the problem by enduring a brief moment of pain and ripping all the old junk off and stitching the wound! We need to revive our urban environments that already exist and push for more centralized and sustainable communities. And that is why I love Richard Register and the Ecocity Builders.

We are a non-profit organization dedicated to reshaping cities, towns and villages for long term health of human and natural systems. Our goals include returning healthy biodiversity to the heart of our cities, agriculture to gardens and the streets, and convenience and pleasure to walking, bicycling and transit. We visualize a future in which waterways in neighborhood environments and prosperous downtown centers are opened for curious children, fish, frogs and dragonflies. We work to build thriving neighborhood centers while reversing sprawl development, to build whole cities based on human needs and “access by proximity? rather than cities built in the current pattern of automobile driven excess, wasteful consumption and the destruction of the biosphere. [text and photos from ecocitybuilders.org]

And there are other people that think the time is right to rip off the band-aid. From Alex Steffen’s essay “My other car is a bright green city:”

Generally, we think of cars as things which are quickly replaced in our society, and buildings as things which rarely change. But that will not be the case over the next few decades. Because of population growth, the on-going development churn in cities (buildings remodeled or replaced, etc.), infrastructure projects and changing tastes, we’ll be rebuilding half our built environment between now and 2030. Done right, that new construction could enable a complete overhaul of the American city.

While I don’t know the exact method of accomplishing a task like this, I trust that the more people are aware of the possibilities, the better off we are.

Besides, now that I think about it, I would much rather ride my bike to work on a decently maintained dirt (or even grass) pathway through a naturally landscaped pathway, enjoying all the fruits of nature, instead of sharing 3 lanes of traffic with speeding SUVs whose drivers are sipping a grande double mocha frappacino latte while talking on their cell phone and looking for a Target.

Safe riding to everyone – it can be a nasty place out there. But does it have to be?…

[Author’s note: one of my favorite blogs covered the very same essay this morning and has a very interesting list of thoughts/reactions – check it out on the No Impact Man blog]