Society

Beautiful vandalism

Guerrilla gardening is the act of cultivating someone's land without permission. I remember the first time I saw the words guerrilla gardening paired together. My immediate thought -- random acts of beautification? While seeing our personal project of beautifying our San Francisco office come into fruition, I grew inspired to take a closer look. Historically, class struggles have set the… read more →

The four-day week revisited

It's already been proposed by numerous different cities, and a test is well underway in Utah (of which more in a moment), but the four-day week is now receiving serious consideration for schools as well. From Arizona to Maine to Washington, proposals are cropping up that are designed to save money, not least on energy bills. "More productive student schedules"… read more →

Trams that run on grass

This isn't what you think. Monocle Magazine recently offered up 25 examples of good urban design, many of which have a green-ish tinge. Example #5 is the humble tram: > There's something quite magical about watching trams in Barcelona, Strasbourg or Frankfurt glide silently along beds of grass as they do their city circuit. Where possible, this attractive combination of… read more →

Do you care about a product’s carbon footprint?

I was very interested to read on NYT's Green Inc. blog about consumer reactions to seeing carbon labels on products. Over a year ago I wrote here about carbon labeling of Walker's Crisps (PepsiCo's UK brand of Lay's) and wondered what kind of reaction there would be from shoppers. Well here's the answer from the man in charge of Walkers… read more →

Wind-up radio triumphs over modern technology

There's no television in the TerraPass office. So this morning we crowded around MSNBC's live stream of the inauguration. Alas, along with most other news sites the stream couldn't stand up to the pressure. Just as Chief Justice Roberts stepped forward, the image froze again. Anybody got a radio? But of course, we keep wind-up radios in the green store.… read more →

Financial crisis: still bad for the environment

Has it really been only four months since our financial system caved in? Back then, I made a few predictions about how the crisis would affect clean tech. It's time for a periodic check-in. The credit crunch remains flatly terrible for clean energy development. Energy developers have curtailed plans for new plants so dramatically that the industry seems to be… read more →

Google searches emit carbon, but not very much

Suddenly the carbon footprint of a Google search is big news. The exact facts and precisely who said what remain a little murky, but the following things do seem clear: - A couple of Google searches emit significantly less CO2 (about one-hundredth of an ounce) than boiling the kettle for a cup of tea, despite some wishful thinking on the… read more →

Hybrids not immune, after all

Well, so much for my gas-electric crystal ball. Last month, I confidently predicted that hybrid sales in December 2008 would reach the same 2.2% of total car sales that they had reached in December of the previous year. But this chart from Green Car Congress tells it differently: Hybrid sales share (the purple line in the chart) continued to fall,… read more →

Cheap green homes

The recent post on passive houses sparked an interesting discussion about the costs of ultra-efficient homes. Passive houses are meant to be affordable -- that is, the incremental construction costs pay back in energy savings in a fairly short time period -- but those relative cost calculations really only apply in a European context. Germany, the birthplace of the passive… read more →

Got resolutions?

New Year's resolutions, as we all know, are for the most part entirely pointless -- made in one breath, forgotten in the next. So in that spirit of general futility, I offer a few ideas for green resolutions that, either through novelty or just ease of use, may inspire more than a passing commitment. Please leave your own ideas below.… read more →
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