Category Archives: Sustainability

Supreme Green: How the Dutch and Danish Dominate Sustainable Living

Wind Farm Off Copenhagen

The effect is melodic — clankety clank, clankety clank — the sound of bicycles plugging along. At first you don’t notice — the absence of taxi horns squawking with ire, or tailpipe exhaust assaulting your lungs, or stressed-out drivers mouthing invectives behind the wheel – but as soon as you do, as soon you notice the beauty of a car “light” society, it becomes your new optic. NOW I see. Cities like Los Angeles and Manhattan truly suck.

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The Rise of the Asset-Light Generation

Every year, Mary “Queen of the Net” Meeker releases her must-read “State of the Internet” report, gleaning insight from predominant internet trends, with almost prescient accuracy.

In this year’s presentation, one of the major themes she identifies is the rise of the “sharing economy” or as Mary calls it, a shift to an “Asset-Light Generation.”

Mary-Meeker-2012-Internet-Trends-Year-End-Update-Business-Insider

A simple translation of this term is: Americans buying less stuff. It is a trend that should not only inspirit sustainability advocates, but Americans all-around. Asset-heavy consumption has led our country to experience a rise in obesity, a rise in pollution, and a rise in debt, with a net impact of a decrease in quality of life.

So cheers to the rise of the “Asset-Light Generation” — there’s hope for us yet.

On why mainstream media is unable to write about sustainability

I am often frustrated by the lack of depth in articles about sustainability. It’s as if all writers and “experts” are recycling the same content. We all feel this impending sense of climactic doom and want to make changes, but then we are fed the same tips we already know. I think I’ve discovered why this is happening.

It’s because the next steps are unknown, a vast unexplored area of low-carbon living. Heretofore, those pioneering this lifestyle ended up far off the grid, eschewing normal lives. Where are the pioneers looking for ways to be low-carbon while driving a car in a city?

I am one and there are not many of us. It takes a bold, rather radical, person to examine ones own lifestyle. To make changes considered gross, unsanitary, or socially weird. Which makes me the perfect person for such explorations because I have a strange lack of mindfulness for society at large and gross things (does that also make a sociopath?).

That also explains why those already with fame and a voice are struggling with these next steps. Al Gore comes to mind as the great voice of global warming, but his encore, the solution to the problem never appeared. This is nothing against the man, he did the world a great service, he is a champion of causes, he invests in green businesses, but he is probably not a radical pioneer of solutions.

I like to think of it as the Christopher Columbus problem. In 1492, there were plenty of great sailors and adventurous men, but very few willing to go beyond the horizon. I think we are at the same point now. Everyone wants to be green, some even desperately so, but who is willing to go beyond the horizon?

Not many, I suppose, and that’s the way it has always been. The world moves forward thanks to those crazy thinkers, like Albert Einstein, who have the right mindset, motivation, and skills to do so. They will be the ones pioneering the low-carbon lifestyle and showing the way for the rest of us.

We probably won’t find those folks in the mainstream media or in our celebrity roster. Instead, they will be found on the fringes writing on a blog. Talking about crazy things like an all farmers market diet or living zero waste. Sharing tips like how to drink coffee or making your own sunscreen. All that we crazies ask of you, the reader, is to show your support. Let us know what you need help on, comment with your experiences, and email us your questions (steve [at] 1X57.com).

 

Here’s to the crazy ones:

Zero Waste: stopping all that stupid junk mail

Unfortunately, we live in a world where junk mail is still profitable. That means it is nearly impossible to stop 100% of it, but you can take a big step towards Zero Waste with some simple steps.

CalRecycle has put together a list of companies you can contact online to get off the mailing lists:

  • Catalog Choice (for phone books)
  • RedPlum (junk mail coupons)
  • DMA (catalogs, magazines, insurance and credit card offers)

I submitted to all these years ago and my junk mail has gone way down. I actually miss getting mail sometimes!!

Of course, this doesn’t get those mailers that don’t have your name on them. You know the ones sent to “resident”.

You can get some of those by writing/calling the following “list brokers” and ask to be placed in their “suppress” files, again from CalRecycle:

 

  • Donnelley Marketing, Inc.- (800) 223-7777
    • 470 Chestnut Ridge Rd. - Woodcliff , NJ 07677
  • Donnelley Marketing, Inc.- (888) 633-4402
    • Data Base Operations - 416 South Bell - Aimes, IA 50010
  • Experian- (800) 228-4571
    • List Maintenance - 901 West Bond - Lincoln, NE 68521

 

Lastly, you can contact the specific business that continually send you something. For example, I bought a used car at a Honda dealership 10+ years ago. I still get mailings from them about their sales.

Sometimes they put a phone number/address on the mailing about how to get off. If not, you just have to call them and complain, they will take you off.

It all sounds like a lot of work but it is worth it. Do it once and it pays off for years. Honestly, I am amazed at how much junk mail my parents and friends continue to receive. I just don’t think about it anymore because it is out of my life (and that is kind of awesome).

 

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California moves one step closer to Zero Waste – 75% reduction by 2020

We are getting better, but one can never rest on their laurels:

Garbage drops as CA’s recycling goal grows

Californians have slashed the amount of stuff they throw away each day, pushing per capita disposal rates down to a record low last year even though the economy picked up steam.

It’s a good showing — but residents aren’t doing nearly as well as they might have thought, and state officials are asking for help to dramatically boost waste reduction and recycling by 2020. That likely will result in a suite of new rules, programs and fees designed to improve reuse of materials and minimize the need for more landfills.

 

California set a goal of a 50% reduction in 1989. In the last decade, most of the state has achieved that and surpassed it (the current statewide rate is 65%). Now, the government has upped the ante, asking for 75% by 2020.

 

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The Zero Waste coffee maker

One of the keys to living Zero Waste is to find those genius products that reduce your waste and offer a superior product. I’ve found just that for my coffee and it’s called the Moka.

I like this coffee maker because there are no filters to change or pods to throw out. There are only a few moving parts and it lasts forever (4 years and counting). In fact, it is such a genius design that it was first patented in 1933 and hasn’t changed all that much. Over 200 million of them have been sold, making it one of the most popular coffee makers ever.

Here it is:

 

It comes in several sizes and starts at $20 for the 1-cup version. This is the one my family uses because it serves one person perfectly. We occasionally run into trouble when two people need coffee at the same time, and there is a 3-cup version for only $22. Which sounds like a good deal, but maybe not.

If you’re going to buy one, start with the 1-cup version. If you find that everyone is wanting coffee at the same time (this rarely happens in my household) then go for the bigger one. We actually own both but never use the larger one. Whenever we did a lot of coffee would be wasted and we would always switch back to the 1-cup.

Now, for those coffee experts out there, comes the taste. In my opinion, the Moka offers a superior taste and consistency to any other home coffee maker on the market. The coffee is a blend between drip and espresso, giving it a creamy consistency with a little extra water that enhances the flavor. The only thing that beats it is a professionally prepared espresso, though, many times I find those are inferior as well (the quality depends on the barista).

The Moka is a heat based system, meaning you will have to put it on your stove. The process of setting it up is real easy. You unscrew the bottom and add water and coffee. Screw it back together and then put it on the stove. The water will steam up and then shoot through the coffee (like espresso) as it rises and then condensing in the top. During which a nice smell of coffee will waft through the house and it is ready to serve when the bubbling sound stops (like popcorn in a microwave!).

I have fallen in love with my little Moka and I bet you will too. It is the perfect Zero Waste coffee machine for the eco-minded, or even the coffee snob. And, for the price it can’t be beat.

What does Zero Waste mean?

I’m the radical sitting next to you. I do things the American populace would consider crazy and yet nobody seems to notice. I slide by without a peep from the authorities. What am I talking about?

I live a completely Zero Waste lifestyle. It’s hard to believe and you should see the reactions I get from others. Everyone goes wide-eyed, then the judging starts, and the skepticism. I don’t look like a radical, I’m not tied to a tree or wearing hemp clothes. I’m just an average looking guy.

To explain all this let’s start with what Zero Waste means. The concept isn’t about throwing things away, like most think, it’s about sustainability and recycling. We are all consumers and will continue to be, and the goal isn’t to get rid of consumption but to modify it. To create a system where everything we use ends up someplace other than a landfill.

Largely, this means recycling the hell out of everything, and a lot can be recycled. In fact, one of the most powerful things you can do right now is go look up your trash company’s rules for recycling. I guarantee you will find new things to recycle. In the world of waste, the trash companies are, generally speaking, the most advanced green groups you will find.

It’s such a simple move and yet so powerful, which helps because the next step is the hardest thing you will have to do. Eat better. I’m serious. As a man obsessed with trash I can tell you that the majority of our waste comes from our food. It’s also true that the more waste you create the worse you are eating.

After all, a McDonald’s happy meal comes with like 16 things to throw away, while a homemade sandwich with an apple create very little waste. An obvious comparison but you will find that as you dig into this, eating healthier and healthier, it just gets better…and tastier, cheaper, greener, more social, and more interesting.

Don’t take my word for it, just go out and try it. It will be one of the greatest things you ever do and also get you nearly to Zero Waste. Give it some time and you will reduce your waste by 90% or more. After that, all that is left is a lot of minor things. Like finding a restaurant that serves healthy food in recyclable containers or where can buy a recyclable toothpaste tube.

That’s it, pretty simple and yet so radical. Like I said in the beginning, I don’t look weird but I am possibly the weirdest person you know. I’ve been trying this stuff for three years now and I’m not living in a treehouse yet. I blend in completely with the normal folk and yet I’m a citizen of the future. I live in a sustainable way in a normal American household. Now if we can only get 300 million people to try this…

 

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Homemade organic sunscreen with only 4 ingredients

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the best beach and sport sunscreens for your skin, products free of the wrong chemicals and containing the right ones. A solid way to avoid those nasty sunburns.

In the spirit of Zero Waste, and avoiding those plastic bottles, here is an even better product – homemade sunscreen.

 

 

DIY Organic Sunblock

In this episode (of Surf Sufficient) we teach you how to make your own high spf, water proof sunblock from organic and natural ingredients for pennies on the dollar compared to buying it off the shelf.  Ingredients include- zinc oxide (sunblocking agent), coconut oil (soothes and conditions skin), bee’s wax (waterproofing agent), and tea tree oil (soothes and repairs skin and smells good too).