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Tag Archive: Green Tuesday

Green Tuesday: Metal or Plastic?

I picked up a stainless steel water bottle from a store while I was in Ojai. I’d been reading about BPA in plastic bottles, and frankly, I’m tired of that nasty plasticky taste that some water bottles give.

This stainless steel bottle is from EnviroProductsInc, I’ve been using it on my last rides and I can really taste the difference. The only two drawbacks about my stainless steel bottle is the price; I got mine for $8.99 and mine didn’t come with a pop top, so I have to wait until I stop at a red light so I can unscrew the top and sip some water.

My wife made me aware that Marshall’s sell Aluminum water bottles at a cheaper price. I picked up this OGGI bottle for $5.99, it also came with a screw top. Now, not all metal water bottles are made the same, some come with some type of plastic liner defeating the purpose of avoiding BPA. I really dig my metal bottles so far, but I will be ordering some sport tops from Klean Kanteen, unscrewing those tops can be a pain in the rear.

Green Tuesday: The car greener than the bike?

We got this email from Carolyn Mansfield from the Sierra Club:

“I checked out your site and saw your post about environmental issues. I thought you and your readers might be interested in this story. “Mr. Green” is Sierra Club’s answer guy, and has a column about all things green that he updates weekly.

In honor of Bike to Work Day, he’s put out this discussion of the carbon emissions of biking vs. driving. He basically puts to rest the myth that fueling a bike (by feeding a person food that has been grown with fossil fuel inputs and transported to the consumer) is worse for the environment than fueling a car.

Here is the link: http://sierraclub.typepad.com/mrgreen/2008/04/hey-mr-greeni-a.html

Who knew that a fifth of Vodka and 2 shots will give you enough fuel for that half century!

Green Tuesday: Well, almost

If I can finish this post in 45 minutes or less, then technically it will still meet the deadline to legitimately be “Tuesday,” well at least here in Arizona.

I went to Nashville, Tenn., this past weekend and just got back home this evening. And while there is nothing “green” about flying across the country, allow me to share part of the weekend festivities.

My best bud and old college roommate, Will, met me in Nashville since I haven’t seen him since last September. I wanted to show him around Nashville, particularly downtown, so we decided to cruise the streets on our bikes. It was a great way to see the city at our own pace, enjoy the cold Tennessee air, and not have to set foot in a car.

Downtown Nashville is not a particularly large area, but there are tons of venues for live music. Nashville is proclaimed to be the country music capitol of the World, after all. The city is steeped in music culture, especially country and bluegrass. We stopped at the Gruhn guitar shop, which serves as THE go-to place for many of country music’s and Nashville’s finest musicians. The next time you are in need of a $15,000 Gibson banjo, check out Gruhn.

The city has lots of these guitars placed all over, but this is the only one we were able to find.

We climbed the steps of the State Capitol building and got a pretty sweet view of the downtown area.

The Ryman Auditorium is one of the top music venues in the country, especially for country music. The Temptations and the Four Tops are playing there soon apparently…

I love bluegrass music, which is popular in Nashville, but have never been a big fan of country. However, the feel of a downtown environment that is rich with the community of music is a really cool thing – you can hang out downtown any day of the week and hear free music from some really talented people just playing on the street.

For the observant ones amongst you, you might notice that Will was riding a Specialized Langster London. These bikes have been quite rejected by the cycling community because of their big-brand capitalization of a more independent style. In my eyes, if it gets someone on a bike and out of their car, then that is green enough for me.

So just because you are traveling doesn’t mean you have to stay out of the saddle. I was fortunate enough to stay with someone that had a bike I could ride – but many Local Bike Shops will rent out bikes for your touring pleasures. In larger cities, you can also find bike touring companies that will rent bikes for your touring pleasures. The car is not the only way…

Green Tuesday: the grass is greener

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]

Green Tuesday: When Less is More

Last week I started what will hopefully be a regular occurrence: the Green Tuesday post. It is good to know that there is a wealth of information out in the web-o-sphere and it would take a long time to sift through it all. In the meantime, I will continue to come across some really neat stuff.

A lot of the fuss being made over “green living” these days involves one paradoxical element: consumption. Green cars, green fashion, green home products – a lot of the “green” trend is simply advertising and marketing that is trying to sell you the trendiest product, or the trendiest way to carry your product (designer shopping bags, anyone?…come on!).

While many efforts have been made in the means of ecologically sustainable or less-ecologically destructive production methods, almost anything you buy at the store (and yes, that includes your LBS) had to be produced somewhere and somehow.

video homework
If you have the time on your hands, I highly recommend watching a short film (20 minutes) that has recently been making it’s way around the internet – the film is called the Story of Stuff and it examines modern production methods, from raw materials to production to distribution to consumption to disposal. The production and presentation of this film are really neat – with elaborate illustrations and a friendly presentation style. It is a very eye-opening and intriguing examination of western material production and consumption. If you don’t happen to have 20 free minutes, first of all, thanks for spending your precious time on this site, and secondly, here are some key stats from the film:

  • In the past 3 decades, one-third of the planet’s natural resources have been consumed
  • Forty percent of waterways in the US have become undrinkable
  • The US has 5% of the world’s population but consumes 30% of the world’s resources and creates 30% of the world’s waste
  • The average America now consumes twice as much as they did 50 years ago
  • National happiness in America peaked around the 1950s

I do not intend to be an alarmist, or scare everyone into thinking the world will end soon. But I strongly feel that our habits of consumption are in great need of change.

when less is more
I will admit that I love bikes, and I just don’t feel that I can get enough of them. Thankfully, bikes and their toys are not as sizable or production-intensive as other transport vehicles (read: Hummer H2), but they still require raw materials and energy to be produced.

One topic that came up in response to last week’s post was the local bike co-op. Bike co-ops are member-owned, not-for-profit organizations that have one sole purpose: get as many people on safe bikes as possible. The means through which they do this vary, but most will include educational opportunities about bike maintenance, as well as free use of tools to work on your own bikes. Most will take donations of used parts, and sell these to cover operating costs. All in all, a bike co-op is a place where people come together to learn from and teach each other about bikes, maintaining them, and safely riding them (depending on how many hipster kids go there to find old road frames for a fixie conversion).

I have yet to find a web resource that highlights bike co-ops in various places, but chances are (if you live in a sizable city), there is one nearby. Ask around at your LBS – maybe they know.

The point is: there are tons of used bike parts floating around in our cities, and you can find lots of useful pieces in a local co-op, which is simply a method of “recycling.” I encourage you to explore your local co-op and be more aware of our consumer habits as cyclists. Just because we may not drive a car, doesn’t mean that our actions do not have an impact.

extra credit
If you find yourself intrigued, and want to learn more, there is a plethora of resources on the web to guide you in your quest to live a more environmentally friendly/sustainable life. While a list that provides the best sites to visit would stretch way too long, I will leave you with my 3 favorite websites:

  • CoolPeopleCare.org – CoolPeopleCare exists to show you how to change the world in whatever time you have. One minute? Five minutes? An entire day? Whatever you have, they’ll help you spend it wisely. In my mind, it is the epitome of community service.
  • No Impact Man – Last year, Colin Beaven aka No Impact Man, committed he and his family (wife and 4-year-old daughter) to live a “no impact” life while living in Manhattan. This meant no electricity, no buying new products, and many other things. The tales from the year are incredible, and crazy. That year is over, and Colin and his family are now exploring how to remodel their lives. Today’s post was brilliant and quite inspirational.
  • The Good Human – The Good Human was born out of one man’s idea for a website that can encourage people to be better humans…whether through working to clean up the environment, being active in political issues that mean a lot to you or just being more aware of your life and surroundings. From a post today:

When you carry out your trash at home on the next collection day, you’ll be sending more trash to landfills than the entire Subaru manufacturing plant in Lafayette, Indiana.

Again, bikecommuters.com in no way is trying to tell you how to live your life. We merely report on the things we like or find important.

It’s easy to get sucked into the “green is better” frenzy, but being more eco-friendly is definitely a good idea. Hemp is a great renewable resource that creates strong, durable products, like hemp clothing and jewelry. You don’t have to be a member of the “drug test crowd” to benefit from hemp, either – hemp is an amazing family- and earth-friendly resource.