Tag Archives: green

Nine Lights founder Jeff Beck – improving surfboards by placing the stringer on the outside

Last weekend, while attending the Sunset Beach Handplane Demo Day, I met a fascinating surfboard shaper by the name of Jeff Beck. Through his company, Nine Lights, Jeff is performing some incredible experiments that could change the surfing industry. He had many of his boards on-hand to try for free, which is a regular part of the “demo day” ethos.

The first board that I tried, called the Slipper, perfectly represents Jeff’s unique design sense. The board has no stringer and instead uses a thin piece of wood on top (fiberglass bottom). According to Jeff, “when you remove the stringer it opens up all sorts of design possibilities. You can experiment with different shapes and sizes.” He said the wood top provides as much, or more, strength than the stringer would provide.

I took the board out to try him at his word. Now, I’m 6-feet tall and weigh 180+ pounds. I pounded the hell out of that board because it is a modified Alaia, which means no fins, long and real thin (picture below). You have to pop-up quick and immediately start turning. The board never once gave or bent and felt stronger than my classic stringer boards. I definitely think Jeff is on to something, and it was so much fun to ride that it was my favorite of the event.

 

The Slipper

 

To give you more insight into Jeff’s innovative thinking I want to tell you about his handplanes made out of aerospace airplane wings. Made from the foam in the wings they are super-strong and amazingly lightweight. When you hold it in your hand all the weight you feel is in the leash. I tried one out and it definitely feels stronger than regular surfboard EPS foam (I kept smacking it because I couldn’t believe how strong it was). An amazing way to recycle old airplanes and turn them into a fun ride.

 

Hand(air)planes

 

Overall, I was truly impressed by Jeff’s deep understanding of surfboard design, experimental concepts, and his environmental focus. The next time I’m in the market for a surfboard I will assuredly be checking out Nine Lights Surfboards.

Here are a few other designs from Jeff, and make sure to visit his website and like him on Facebook.

 

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All about Zero Waste

The week in Zero Waste, starting with:

 

What Does ZeroWaste Mean?

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.

 

Zero Waste: Stopping all that junk mail

Zero Waste: The recycled toothbrush

Zero Waste: The coffee maker

Zero Waste: Moving boxes – Recopack

 

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California pushes its citizens towards Zero Waste – new law asks for 75% reduction

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.

 

London 2012 Olympics were planned as Zero Waste

Staging a One Planet Olympics in London would help achieve the first sustainable Games. Sustainability has been at the heart of the London 2012 Bid and Masterplan.

 

Why can’t mainstream media cannot 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.

You can do it, go Zero Waste!

Zero Waste: the recycled toothbrush

Here is another way to reduce your trash on your way to Zero Waste – the recycled toothbrush. It looks, acts, and feels like a normal toothbrush, but when you are done with it you replace the head instead of throwing the whole thing out. You can buy replacement heads in packs of 3, 6 and it comes in sensitive, soft, and medium bristle strength. They’re usually completely recyclable and made of recycled materials.

It’s a rather genius idea and I’m not sure why it hasn’t caught on already. I’ve been using mine for nearly 3 years (the same brush) and have switched out the head several times. Here is the brand I use:

 

Eco-Dent Terradent 31 Toothbrush

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How far are you willing to bike?

Recently, my girlfriend and I decided to go with one car. We both work from home and so it makes sense. We get to split costs and avoid paying for something that costs money just sitting there (not to mention depreciation). But, we also have to share time in the car.

This means we’ve both pioneered new modes of transportation, with biking the clear winner. Where we’ve discovered just what it means when you say “that is too far”.

At first, it was a couple of blocks. Anything beyond that seemed like a waste of time, compared to driving. As we got in the groove that expanded out several miles. We’re up to a 5-mile range now, and pretty surprised at how much fits within that range:

  • Local natural foods market – 2.2 miles
  • Starbucks #1 – 1.5 miles
  • Starbucks #2 - 2.5 miles
  • The Beach (Huntington Beach Pier) – 4 miles
  • Gym – 1.1 miles
  • Blockbuster Video - 2.5 miles
  • Shopping Center: Pizza, Comics, Bookstore, Chipotle, Pep Boys – 1.2 miles

One could nearly survive on all that. But, maybe we’re just lucky. We do live in a pretty dense area with a lot of local businesses. I wonder how your neighborhood works out. Have you measured up any of your local businesses?

As I’m getting more and more into this, I’ve started asking myself, “is driving really quicker?” After all, biking mostly avoids traffic, sometimes has quicker routes, and there are no parking problems. As an answer, I turned to Google Maps to compare the estimated times for driving vs. biking:

  • Local natural foods market – 6 mins driving  // 13 mins biking
  • Starbucks #1 – 5 mins  // 9 mins
  • Starbucks #2 - 7 mins // 15 mins
  • The Beach – 13 mins // 23 mins
  • Gym – 4 mins // 7 mins
  • Blockbuster Video – 7 mins // 15 mins
  • Shopping Center: Pizza, Comics, Bookstore, Chipotle, Pep Boys – 6 mins // 7 mins

That’s pretty amazing and I would consider it a wash. Biking only adds on a few minutes to most locations. With driving, you also have to take into account red lights, traffic, time for parking, and time to walk from the parking lot to the store. Each of which can add a few minutes to the journey.

There is the added benefit of a solid workout, but that can also be a problem. Sometimes I want to bike, but I’m too tired or hungry to do so. Although, I think it has improved my endurance going on a lot of  quick 1-2 mile jaunts. I’ve even looked at expanding my range to 7-10 miles. It was kinda fun looking-up what is within that perimeter: movie theater, more beaches, shopping mall, chocolate store (See’s Candy), Whole Foods, the library, etc.

I guess that’s how far I’m willing to bike…for now. Before we made this shift I never even considered biking to many of these places. Now, it seems ridiculous not to. I guess that how it happens when you’re trying something new, at first it seems out-of-reach and then after some time it becomes completely natural.

 

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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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The rise of wooden surfboards – alaia’s

Have you seen a wooden surfboard in the water yet? If not, you will soon as these earth-friendly boards grow in popularity.

The famous shaper, Tom Wegener, gave a talk about his designs for the ancient Hawaiian board, the Alaia (pronounced: ah-LIE-ah):

According to Wegener, this historical Hawaiian surfcraft – which appears to be little more than a flat piece of wood in the shape of an ironing board – may not only be the most enviro friendly surfboard available today, it might be part of one of surfing’s next big leaps in modern board design.

It is also a much-needed design, since the foam boards of today are nearly as toxic as you can make something. The recent movie, ‘Manufacturing Stoke’, discusses this strange development, as well as a detailed post I wrote on Green Surfboards.

The next step is finding the right type of wood that can match the ultra-high performance of the industrial-era poly/resin/chemical boards used by professional surfers today.

Phil Joske introduced him (Tom) to a sustainable board building material called Paulownia wood. With a much greater strength-to-weight ratio than balsa, an easy-to-work-with nature, and an imperviousness to saltwater, Tom used this unique wood and his innovative longboard designs to help revolutionize the genre of hollow wood surfboards.

Many in the industry are taking note of these designs, there is a certain beauty to a glossy wooden board. Especially, knowing that it is handcrafted and great for the environment.

Learn more at Patagonia’s – Wood is Good series (featuring videos, interviews, and lots of links to surf films and designers).

 

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The world of professional sports is going green

Allen Hershkowitz, from The N.Y. Times, has written up an interesting piece about The Greening of Professional Sports.

Among the many great points he makes, include how every industry will need to participate and public opinion is the most important factor, as well as:

 

Fifteen professional stadiums or arenas have achieved LEED certification for green building design and operations, and 17 have installed on-site solar arrays. Millions of pounds of carbon emissions have been avoided, and millions of pounds of paper products have been shifted toward recycled content or not used at professional sports sites. Recycling and composting programs have been developed or are planned at virtually all professional stadiums and arenas.

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NASA jumpstarts the electric airplane industry with ultra-efficient flights – 400 mpg

This story is a bit old (October 2011), but in light of Chip Yates project to create the first all-electric transatlantic flight, is worth reading about:

 

NASA has awarded the largest prize in aviation history, created to inspire the development of more fuel-efficient aircraft and spark the start of a new electric airplane industry. The technologies demonstrated by the CAFE Green Flight Challenge, sponsored by Google, competitors may end up in general aviation aircraft, spawning new jobs and new industries for the 21st century.

The first place prize of $1.35 million was awarded to team Pipistrel-USA.com of State College, Pa. The second place prize of $120,000 went to team eGenius, of Ramona, Calif.

“NASA congratulates Pipistrel-USA.com for proving that ultra-efficient aviation is within our grasp,” said Joe Parrish, NASA’s acting chief technologist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Today we’ve shown that electric aircraft have moved beyond science fiction and are now in the realm of practice.”

The winning aircraft had to fly 200 miles in less than two hours and use less than one gallon of fuel per occupant, or the equivalent in electricity. The first and second place teams, which were both electric-powered, achieved twice the fuel efficiency requirement of the competition, meaning they flew 200 miles using just over a half-gallon of fuel equivalent per passenger.

“Two years ago the thought of flying 200 miles at 100 mph in an electric aircraft was pure science fiction,” said Jack W. Langelaan, team leader of Team Pipistrel-USA.com. “Now, we are all looking forward to the future of electric aviation.”

 

Source: NASA Awards Historic Green Aviation Prize

 

 

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London Olympics may be the greenest, most sustainable ever

With the opening ceremony of the London Olympics only days away, organizers prepare to celebrate what may be the one of the greenest Olympic Games to date.

For Olympic organizers, sustainability has been a major focus in planning the Games’ venues. Forbes notes that existing or temporary venues are utilized whenever possible. For permanent structures, “Each new venue was required to achieve a minimum 15 percent improvement against Building Regulations.”

The site of London’s Olympic Park has also been noted for its radical transformation. Once an industrial area along the River Lea, the site was previously contaminated by “heavy metals, hydrocarbons, arsenic and cyanide,” according to BBC News.

At the largest urban park built in Britain in over the century, officials planted 2,000 native trees and 300,00 wetland plants and restored five miles of the River Lea. 110 acres of land were also turned into “reed beds, wet woodlands, grassland and ponds” to encourage the return of wildlife, reported the Press Association.

While British officials originally planned to draw 20 percent of the London Olympics’ power from renewable sources, they fell short of that goal. The BioRegional and WWF-UK report explains that only nine percent of on-site energy will be renewable.

 

Source: Huffington Post Green - London Olympics: Green Games A Goal For Organizers

 

 

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Google Maps update – bicycle legend now shows bike lanes, shared lanes, and bike-friendly roads

If you’re looking for new ways to get around for fun or to work, or might be trying to live a greener lifestyle in 2012, why not try biking? In March 2010 we introduced biking directions and since then Google Maps has been sharing biking directions with cyclists across the U.S and Canada.

Since no bike path is the same, many users have requested an easier way to differentiate the different types of bike routes that are available. Starting today, a new legend feature can help you understand what the different colors on the bike maps symbolize.

  • Dark green is for dedicated trails and paths
  • Light green is for roads with dedicated lanes
  • Dotted green is for roads that are friendly for cyclists

 

Look for the biking legend in the upper right hand corner of the map.

 

You can view this legend by clicking on the widget in upper right corner of Google Maps and selecting the Bicycling layer. You can also access biking directions on your Android device or by going to maps.google.com on your mobile browser.

 

Source: Google Lat-Long Blog - New Biking Directions Legend