Vote for USD Compost!

23 Jul

VOTE on GOOD to win $5,000 to help fund the pilot composting program on campus! 



Composting is one of the most sustainable and easiest ways to divert waste that would otherwise go to landfills. By revamping our campus composting project beyond its current pilot stage, the University of San Diego can help move towards its goal of becoming the most sustainable university by 2020.


Funds will be used to purchase individual compost bins to be used in residence halls and offices, plants for our organic community garden, worms that will break down organic material and marketing materials to spread the word about the project to current and incoming students. The $5,000 will allow our small composting project to grow to something into a scalable project that other urban colleges and universities can implement. With GOOD’s help, we can help plant the seeds of a compost revolution in San Diego!



All Bike Paths Lead to Copenhagen

19 Jul

Thanks to hipsters, bike riding has become cool again. No longer is biking riding  just kids under 16 nor is it just something to do for fun on the weekends. Using a bike to get to school or work  instead of a car is quickly becoming a new norm as gas prices remain high and highways remained packed during rush hour. Cities around the world are beginning to act as they invest in infrastructure to support the growing demand for bikeable roads. In Denmark, Copenhagen has become the next big bike city, with the completion of a bicycle superhighway already complete, and 26 more in the works, according to the New York Times.

Check out the rest of the story on The New York Times, here.

(I wonder if Denmark has a no “texting while biking” law..?)

Cradle to Cradle

17 Jul

In a world of finite resources and an ever-expanding populace, this century is going to be about doing more with less than ever before. With a little ingenuity, alternatives to our current system of consumption are introduced regularly. One interesting concept conjured up by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, an architect and a chemist respectively, is called “the cradle to cradle” alternative.

Rather than consuming items and then recycling them, or even using post-consumer recycled products, McDonough and Braungart call for all products to be created through a means by which they are wholly reusable. The engagement of  this method, the two argue, can help to forge a future with a healthier ecological footprint left behind.

Read more about the cradle to cradle concept and its practice on McDonough’s website.

Cool Building: How People Beat the Heat Before A/C

16 Jul

While most of us tend to take our air conditioning for granted, those without it are forced to find other ways of staying cool during the hot summer months. Fans are often a source of solace during a warm day, but what did people do before them and other air cooling devices?

Check out this article from the Sierra Club that details how builders across the country used ingenuity, rather than energy, to build cool homes:

Sierra magazine
Building Better: A/C B.C.

How Americans lived well before we had energy to squander

By Peter Frick-Wright

Recent efforts to make homes more Earth friendly are enough to make a technology geek swoon. Choose from solar-cell panels, wind turbines, geothermal heating, automated ventilation, and wastewater heat-exchange systems, and you can wire your home for the high-tech, low-energy 21st century. Even more-radical innovations loom on the horizon.

These Star Trek technologies are only embellishments on ideas hundreds of years old, developed by people who didn’t have the option of flicking a switch when they were too cold or too hot. For winter lows, insulate your house well and design compact spaces that can be heated efficiently. For summer highs, face windows south, shade your house from afternoon sun, allow hot air to escape from upper floors, and design interior spaces to catch rather than block breezes. Oh, and maybe enjoy a cold drink or a midday siesta on the veranda.

Built before there was a grid to be off, the buildings described here offer a template for a time when cookie-cutter houses plopped onto lots without heeding the sun or wind will go the way of geodesic domes and every new dwelling will be designed with the utility bill in mind.

Southern Hospitality
A mint julep might be an effective way to keep cool in the hot and humid tobacco belt, but builders throughout the South employed other measures that were just as refreshing.

Taking their cue from Caribbean architecture, builders in Charleston, South Carolina, designed homes with large windows facing the ocean to catch sea breezes. Deep overhangs allowed windows to stay open even during rainstorms; bermuda shutters let air through and blocked the sun.

Every floor had a veranda and an open stairway to the upper levels to pull hot air out of the house. “Builders added porches to the southwest side of the house, where residents could sit in the shade,” says Ken Harkins, president of the American Institute of Architects’ Charleston chapter. “They weren’t dumb.”

But despite the ventilation, wood had a tendency to rot in the wet air. So Charlestonians in the 18th and 19th centuries turned to cypress trees, an extremely rot-resistant hardwood growing throughout the local swamps. “Other than 50 coats of paint, it’s the same siding on those houses today,” Harkins says.

Desert Cool
Before central air-conditioning, before window-mounted A/C units, before kitchens even had freezers in which to chill a pair of undies, the people of the Southwest needed a way to tame the heat.

Adobe mud was not only an abundant building material throughout the arid Southwest, but the thick, dense bricks also added thermal mass to houses, moderating temperatures by insulating living spaces.

Facing extreme temperatures both day and night, south-facing walls had to be especially thick. In a perfect system, the adobe absorbs heat during the day while keeping the interior cool, then radiates heat into the home at night.

Architectural historian Abigail Van Slyck notes that 19th-century Tucson residents hung wet sheets in a central corridor to evaporate and cool the dry desert air. They functioned much like swamp coolers. Van Slyck extols the advantages of evaporative-cooling methods, old and new: “You don’t have that feeling of living in some kind of hermetically sealed environment that you get with A/C,” she says.

Pilgrim’s Pride
When it came to designing houses for long New England winters, the Pilgrims built with a religious attention to functionality. Walls were 12 solid inches of bricks and mortar with tiny windows (to save heat) and south-facing entrances. Roofs had steep angles with the dual purpose of shedding winter snow and trapping warm air in the upper floors where bedrooms were located. In the northern states, a central fireplace, its chimney rising through upper floors, trapped heat inside the house. The Southern version of the same house, meanwhile, might have its chimney located at one end of the building, to sap heat in the summer. The warmer southernmost room was often used for those who fell ill or needed extra care; ornamental window hoods also kept out rain, snow, and the hot midday sun.


How Much Energy Do You Use?

12 Jul

Do you know how much you use? Check out this interactive map from the U.S. Department of Energy that shows the average energy expenditure per person in each state from 2009.


CA State Park Closures

27 Jun

With an enormous budget deficit drying up the state’s coffers, Governor Jerry Brown has proposed cuts of $22 million to parks across California. Seventy parks were scheduled to close by July 1st, but many park goers up and down the coast have spoken out against the closures. While each park faces its own problems, many are coming up with their own solutions. In Silicon Valley, Coe Park in Morgan Hill has been saved by philantropist Dan McCranie of Palo Alto. (Read more about the Coe Park story here).


Others are not so lucky, as a number of parks are still scheduled to close sat least temporarily this Saturday, July 1st. In the meantime, the status of each individual park remains uncertain.

Although I have to say I was happy to find that my favorite park by my house at home (Briones) wasn’t going to close, probably due to its funding and classification as a regional, rather than state park, I was quite sad to see some of my San Diego favorites on the list. Palomar Mountain and Cabrillo are both scheduled to close!

Palomar Mountain

To find out more about the state of the state parks, and to learn what you can do, check out the Sacramento Bee’s feature.

Here is a complete list of the parks scheduled to close:

  • Anderson Marsh SHP
  • Annadel SP
  • Antelope Valley Indian Museum
  • Austin Creek SRA
  • Bale Grist Mill SHP
  • Benbow Lake SRA
  • Benicia Capitol SHP
  • Benicia SRA
  • Bidwell Mansion SHP
  • Bothe-Napa Valley SP
  • Brannan Island SRA
  • California Mining & Mineral Museum
  • Candlestick Point SRA
  • Castle Crags SP
  • Castle Rock SP
  • China Camp SP
  • Colusa-Sacramento River SRA
  • Del Norte Coast Redwoods SP
  • Fort Humboldt SHP
  • Fort Tejon SHP
  • Garrapata SP
  • George J. Hatfield SRA
  • Governor’s Mansion SHP
  • Gray Whale Cove SB
  • Greenwood SB
  • Grizzly Creek Redwoods SP
  • Hendy Woods SP
  • Henry W. Coe SP
  • Jack London SHP
  • Jug Handle SNR
  • Leland Stanford Mansion SHP
  • Limekiln SP
  • Los Encinos SHP
  • Malakoff Diggins SHP
  • Manchester SP
  • McConnell SRA
  • McGrath SB
  • Mono Lake Tufa SNR
  • Morro Strand SB
  • Moss Landing SB
  • Olompali SHP
  • Palomar Mountain SP
  • Petaluma Adobe SHP
  • Picacho SRA
  • Pio Pico SHP
  • Plumas-Eureka SP
  • Point Cabrillo Light Station
  • Portola Redwoods SP
  • Providence Mountains SRA
  • Railtown 1897 SHP
  • Russian Gulch SP
  • Saddleback Butte SP
  • Salton Sea SRA
  • Samuel P. Taylor SP
  • San Pasqual Battlefield SHP
  • Santa Cruz Mission SHP
  • Santa Susana Pass SHP
  • Shasta SHP
  • South Yuba River SP
  • Standish-Hickey SRA
  • Sugarloaf Ridge SP
  • Tomales Bay SP
  • Tule Elk SNR
  • Turlock Lake SRA
  • Twin Lakes SB
  • Weaverville Joss House SHP
  • Westport-Union Landing SB
  • William B. Ide Adobe SHP
  • Woodson Bridge SRA
  • Zmudowski SB

“We Evolved”: The Evolution of Meat-Eating in the US

26 Jun

Today’s The Salt Food Blog on NPR  features a story about the evolution of meat-eating in the United States and how we came to eat so much of it. The main reason: meat has become much, much cheaper. As we saw earlier in the story about the rise in grocery prices, meat has become on average about thirty percent cheaper today than it was forty years ago.

The United States eats more meat per capita than any other country in the world, with Australia coming in as a close second.

For an interactive version of this map, check out the global chart.

Read the rest of the NPR story here.