Friday, February 27, 2009

The Blade: Taking CO2 Off the Road

For the cost of roughly five visits to the pump, you can cut your car's CO2 emissions by 12% and improve gas mileage by up to 34% on 4-cylinder cars. How? A simple automotive product called The Blade. Attach the metal cylinder to the tailpipe of your car and it will capture particulate material (aka soot) produced by your vehicle thereby reducing noxious emissions. According to the site, if every auto in America was equipped with a Blade, it would be the equivalent of taking 15.5 million cars off the road--pretty cool. Other fun Blade facts:

If every car in the U.S. had a Blade on it--
  • U.S. Consumers would save over $27 billion on money that they would otherwise spend on gasoline.
  • The U.S. would reduce its annual consumption of gasoline by approximately 9 billion gallons.
The company behind this innovative product? Sabertec, an environmental technology company that specializes in the development of emissions reduction technologies. They offer very generous college scholarships and community partnerships opportunities. And if that doesn't convince you, the Blade is used by Eco-Hollywood elite, like Courtney Cox and Laura Dern.

Future Weather Welcomes Baby Paige

FWP's associate producer, Kristin Fairweather, has brought a lovely new being into the world. Paige Caroline Fairweather was born on January 21st at 7:58 PM. She was 6 lbs. 6 ounces and 22 inches at birth. Paige is Kristin's second daughter. Congratulations Kristin, Clint and Addy!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sneak Peek: Future Weather Eco-swag!

thank you, e! thank you, nancy! for all your help this week sewing...

tote-bags and tees coming, early March...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Future Economic Weather

A headline from Utne Reader's green newsletter just caught my eye: "Extreme Weather in a Time of Global Financial Crisis."

As if hearing about staggering job losses day after day wasn't scary enough, Tom Englehardt's article put the fear of God in me by asking what happens if economic recovery meets with further environmental crisis. That's right, further environmental crisis.

According to University College London's Global Drought Monitor, 104 million people are now living under "exceptional drought conditions." Australia, China, Kenya, and Northern California (one of America's largest food producers) are among several areas in crisis that Englehardt details with bone-chilling facts. And, he says, the future weather in these chiefly agricultural regions is not looking any wetter.

New Secretary of Energy Steven Chu offered this warning in an interview with the Los Angeles Times: "I don't think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen....We're looking at a scenario where there's no more agriculture in California. And I don't actually see how they can keep their cities going either."

But what, Englehardt asks, is the mainstream media doing to connect the dots between these "drought hot spots"? Nothing. And if they don't do that, then they certainly won't be able to anticipate what kind of disaster worsening drought could throw an already struggling world economy into. Mass migration? Soaring food prices? It could look a lot uglier than it already does. But don't take my word for it. Read Englehardt's article.

Secretary of Energy Chu sees lack of public awareness as a major obstacle to any real slowing of the climate crisis. That's why we're praying the funding comes through for FUTURE WEATHER.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Is it too late for New Year's resolutions?

It's been a little while since our last entry, but with good reason. We have been working our fannies off on packaging and financing – the key elements to getting FUTURE WEATHER on the screen. We've made excellent progress and wonderful allies. It's a tough fiscal climate to get a film produced in, but we continue to have an overwhelmingly positive response to the script, and I am confident that we will get the film made – and made sustainably! – this summer.

Okay. On to a little year-in-review. I learned a lot from our crash course on sustainability this summer and was able to incorporate a lot of new practices into office and home, which for the time being, are one and the same. I'd like to highlight the major ones as well as the ones that I am admittedly having trouble making a habit. I figured summarizing would be good motivation to keep trucking. Or biking, if you want the greenest metaphor.

Trash sorting

  • I am now a pro at sorting my 3s from 5s and landing a lot fewer non-compostables in the trash.
  • Since Philly's municipal doesn't take 3s and 5s, they're filling up my in-home sorting center along with other atypical recyclables, including old jeans, Styrofoam peanuts and tin foil. A trip to Recycling Services will be in order soon.
  • I bought degradable trash bags; however, I didn't read the fine print close enough. They're still made of plastic; however, they biodegrade and according to the website, "are safely returned to the natural bio-cycle as fragments of 'organic carbon'".
  • I have not, however, begun separating compost. Here's to 2009! (see below)

Material Conservation
  • My water bottle, travel mug and cloth shopping bags have become very loyal friends of mine. Somehow I find it easy to remember to bring them places.
  • I can't say enough about my Canon energy star printer, which prints beautiful 2-sided documents – perfect for scripts. I also keep a big pile of used paper, so I can print on the other side of it for non-official documents.
  • Our paper is 100% post-consumer recycled, including notebooks and calendars. Our Future Weather Christmas cards were printed on 75% PC recycled paper and 25% hemp. Cool and toothy!
  • I've stopped buying Ziploc bags and plastic wrap and try not to buy crackers with those annoying plastic trays.
  • I've cancelled every catalog and credit card solicitation that used to darken my doorstep. Except J. Crew and Anthropologie. (Guilty pleasures.)

Energy Conservation
  • I now work from home which has cut down my car usage by 80%.
  • Unless I'm going to Whole Foods to refill water jugs or visiting a client in the burbs, I've been pretending I don't have a car and try to take Septa whenever possible. All right, when Kristin and I meet in Chestnut Hill, I drive when I could take the train. My excuse? Driving takes less time and money. Although at one Chestnut Hill meeting a month, it may not eat up that much time and money. I should look into it. Grumble. (see resolutions below)
  • Remembering to turn off lights and electronics is easy. Remembering to unplug them when not in use is not so easy. Any tips to push me?
  • I also can't seem to bring myself to throw away perfectly good light bulbs, so the transition to compact fluorescents is happening gradually here.
  • To save energy on heating water, I've switched to cold water laundry cycles about 75% of the time.

Local & Lower-Emissions Food
  • I've done a Summer CSA for the past four years, but this was my first year joining a Winter CSA with Keystone Farm. It's been a lot of fun trying to figure out what to do with all of the carrots, apples, potatoes and cabbage I get. You'd be surprised how many delicious, rustic and simple recipes there are on the internet. It's opened up a whole new world of winter eating for me. And food blogs. (Another guilty pleasure.)
  • The CSA supplies one pound of meat and dairy a week, which has been a good way to decrease my meat intake and make it local and organic when I do cook it.
  • In general, I have been trying to cook more vegetarian meals – at least one a day, two if you include Keystone's granola with Pequa Valley yogurt for breakfast. Yum.
  • 99% of the time, I make my own lunch. But for that other 1%, I can't say that I've figured out how to deal with the occasional take-out order. Perhaps next steps would be to ask my favorite U. City restaurant (Hummus) to consider changing to compostable serving materials.

Non-Toxic Decisions
  • After seeing an inspiring presentation by Women's Voices for the Environment, I learned how to make my own cleaning detergent. One half white vinegar to one half water. Add a few drops of sweet orange oil, and you have a very effective, all-natural, all-purpose cleaner.
  • But how should I dispose of my nearly full bottle of 409?


Along with continuing the list above, I've given myself a year to do these five things. I think it's possible.

1) Make my own hummus
Now that I've gotten more hard-core about recycling, I've been trying to figure out how to generate less of it. Reusing packaged food tubs is a great idea, but what do you do when they won't fit in your cupboard anymore? Make your own hummus. I probably go through at least two packages a month – that's 24 a year. I don't plan to stop eating hummus anytime soon, so over five years, I could accumulate 120 containers. I definitely don't have room for those. So for the past month, I've been buying canned garbonzos and making my own - beans, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, cumin and jalapeno. Difference between recycling tin cans and #5 plastic? For starters, cans are typically manufactured from their recycled progenitors. Plastic tubs aren't.

2) Compost
This I have not started yet. I don't garden, and I rent an apartment, so this is not as brainless as it might seem. Few ideas: see if my landlord and neighbors would like to pitch in on a composter for the yard; see if there are any community gardens in the neighborhood that would like my scraps; in the meantime, start collecting it in a tub to bring to Whole Foods. They now have a composting bin in their waste disposal area.

3) Air dry
In September, my boyfriend moved to Europe. One major difference between Europe and the States? They don't use dryers in Europe. Even in teeny apartments. And life goes on. My concentrated, phosphate-free laundry detergent already contains soy-based softener, so no crunchy underwear. I just need to get one of those handy folding wracks and I'm ready! Anyone know where to find them?

4) Unplug!
Vampire electricity… I really wish each room had a master plug. Any suggestions for making unplugging easier than getting down on hands and knees 4-6 times a day?

5) Train it to Chestnut Hill at least once
It only requires a trolley, a train, an R8 schedule and ten bucks.