Friday, September 21, 2007

That's Ecofantastic!!! Day 1...

This whole week I will be honoring ecofantastic items...

It's time.

I've grown so overwhelmed with green-washing that I'm now coining a word:

Ecofantastic: A product/method/ideology so absurdly priced/developed/formulated that its irrationality transcends any purposeful usage and/or implementation into the present-day green movement, to the point of almost becoming fantasy.

That's my word. Mine.

It was not inspired by Nader or Webster's, but by this paragraph:

Hitting a consumer wave at the right time has made many people rich, but, unfortunately, the green market has claimed many victims in the past. Too many well meaning products end up in what US green marketing guru Jacquelyn Ottman calls the "Green Graveyard", making the fatal assumption that Green credentials can overcome mediocre performance, poor design and, frankly, soppy branding.

This whole week I will be honoring those ecofantastic items (pre and post mortem) in an attempt to give them the recognition they deserve, long before their first generation, virgin, organic, sustainable, unbleached, recycled bits are buried in the over-hyped green graveyard.

So today let's wipe with it, before it's wiped off the face of the earth:

Ecofantastic: Renova Green Toilet Paper

This brightly coloured green toilet paper will add an instant designer touch to your's made from 100% bio-degradable materials so you can be sure your doing your bit for the environment.

$17.70 for *cough* 3 rolls

Painting an eco-world in black & white...

World-renowned author, scientist, environmentalist and activist David Suzuki -the unequivocal yogi of sustainable ecology- had some veerrrry interesting thoughts on biofuel.

I likey.

This suggestion has been a long time in the making. It seems as though the green movement has somehow severed the tie between technology and rational research. Words like biofuel are now recognized for their "bio" and not their "fuel." We need to get back on track.

Suzuki manages to put some sobering questions on the table, asking about the legitimacy of biofuel and its possible help/hindrance on the environment. Fuel is still fuel, especially when fuel is needed to make fuel.

Here are some highlights:

-Ethanol made from corn only contains marginally more energy than what is needed to produce it.
-We use about a litre's worth of fossil fuels to grow, harvest, process, and transport a litre of corn-based ethanol.
-Making corn-based ethanol is more of an agricultural subsidy for farmers than it is a sound environmental policy.
-Look at the land area that would be needed to grow fuel crops.
-Switching to biofuels would not reduce the demand for fuel, just change the way we get it.
-Substituting just 10 per cent of fossil fuels to biofuels for all our vehicles would require about 40 per cent of the entire cropland in Europe and North America.
-Biofuels alone are not the quick-fix answer to global warming.

More importantly, he puts the house back on its foundation:

-Reducing the amount of fuel we use, no matter what the type, is very important.

Rationally galvanized eco-tech...I love it.

Read his full article HERE.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Purchasing unfrozen ice (some call it water)...

With the environmentalists pushing one way about the wastefulness of bottled water, you know that something else had to be pushing in the other direction. While some might consider this the definitive "other direction," I don't even think it's on the map....definitely on a scale of its own.

I give you the Insource/Outsource Dumbest Product on the Planet™...


ICEROCKS® are secured, ready-to-be-frozen ice cubes made with high-quality spring water. These cubes, to be consumed within two (2) years, are hermetically packaged in disposable containers. ICEROCKS® uses a patented technology, providing a container of refreshing ice cubes that are pure and hygienic.

ICEROCKS® is sold in its unfrozen state (liquid) water?, making it a product offering substantial savings in terms of delivery costs, in that it does not require trucks to be refrigerated for transportation.

So what's it made of? The water features a pH of 7.8, 37 milligrams per liter of Calcium, 157 mg/liter of Bicarbonate, 42 mg/liter Silica, and Sulphates at 53 mg/liter. Nitrates are a cool zero.


$5.89 for .75 L = Roughly $29.50 a gallon

And this isn't some dummy start-up company, either. They've been around since 2002, sponsored athletes and race cars, utilize a Board of Directors. Scary.

I guess it's not hard to stay in business when you're charging thirty bucks a gallon for water.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Old school vs. new school....

Sometimes tech can be too tech.

Why do I have a strange feeling that Choice B is a tad bit cheaper than Choice A?

Choice A:

The Sun Lizard Heat Extractor

It uses solar energy, natural air movements, and heating and cooling dynamics to harmoniously moderate the comfort of your home or building. It can be retrofitted into existing building or installed on buildings under construction.

Choice B:


Works by utilising the velocity energy of the wind to induce air flow by centrifugal action.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The only Mariah I can stand...

Sleek vertical axis small there anything sexier?

At 30 feet tall and 2 feet wide, and only $4000 - I don't think so.

Nevada based company Mariah Power has developed the Windspire, the smallest behemoth (huh?) I've ever seen. With numerous applications, residential/small business/kinetic sculpture, I still can't get over the shape. It's pretty.

See for yourself...

If that doesn't get your eco-blood moving, try this...

Kind of like your looking up nature's skirt.

Anywhoo...I've exclaimed my love for vertical axis technology before, but this Savonius design actually knocked the patchouli right out of me. It's mounted on a cement foundation so you don't need to secure it to the ground with hundreds of guy wires, and you can even plug it directly into your house because it doesn't need to be hardwired (a plus for any affluent renter!).

From their website:

Mariah Power’s patented technology includes a rotor, generator, and inverter designed as a complete system to optimize the conversion of wind energy into electricity. The 1kW (1 kilowatt, or 1,000 watts) Windspire will produce approximately 1900* kilowatt hours per year in 12 mile per hour average winds. The Windspire also includes an internal wireless modem that can continuously transmit power production information directly to your computer so you can check your power production at any time.

The rotor is a Modified Savonius design. Our high efficiency rotor was...combined with an innovative high-strength yet cost-effective construction, using a steel frame with low cost insertable plastic panels. The extruded plastic panels come on rolls and are simply inserted into the rotor frame. These breakthroughs in design and construction provide high efficiency with low cost and an extremely safe blade-free design.

Don't know if you have wind? Check out their wind maps.

Have 8 mph breezes? That's enough to start generating energy.

Worried about too much wind? No's rated up to 100 mph gusts.

I love it that there are so many new prototypes hitting the market. I can't figure out which I like more. Is a vertical axis turbine sexier when it's laying on its back?

What about on the road?


I need a clove.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Filtering out the bad stuff...

Keeping with the "water theme" in the previous post, I'll proclaim today Water Day...

More than 1.1 billion people lack access to safe water and 2.6 billion people lack even basic sanitary facilities. Diseases caused by unsafe drinking water and inadequate sanitation remain humanity’s most serious public health threat, causing 80% of the sicknesses in developing countries and annually killing between 2 and 5 million people, mainly young children. Lack of water and sanitation undermines the sustainability of other critical needs, including education, economic development, nutrition, environmental health and gender equality.[1]

Even in the US where our drinking water is relatively safe, it's interesting to see the allowable amount of contaminants (see: toxins) as prescribed by the EPA.

7 million fibers of asbestos per liter?

Sometimes (this being one of those times) you find a site you wish you never would have found.


When I lived in the South Pacific the access to potable drinking water was readily available, but treatment was still highly recommended. SO I had some military-grade chlorotabs I could have added, but the people of Kiribati love their tea (as did I). Imagine making coffee in a machine lined with residual dishsoap and you can envision how it would turn out. Well, the tabs were basically like adding a teaspoon of bleach to soapy coffee. Yummy.

So I relied on the ol' boil method of sterilization. I'd boil a large batch of water on my kerosene stove for about 10 minutes, dump it into my 15 gallon gas can (a brand new gas canister I scientifically converted for water adding water), and repeated until the can was full. I'd do this about once a week - all the while ignorant to the fact that boiling does not eliminate pathogens in long-term storage.

Giardiasis is not fun. Repeat. Not fun.

As design concepts like the Playpump begin to make their round on the internet (again), the notion of clean water/clean water access is back in my mind. Even as a diligent boiler, I was sick quite a bit, so I'm interested to see what new products are on the market.

For the Military/Rescue Worker/Humanitarian Aid Worker:

The Lifesaver System
A chemical-free ultra-filtration system developed specifically for industrial applications. It's basically a Nalgene with a brain.

The LIFESAVER bottle also comes with an activated carbon filter...which reduces a broad spectrum of chemical residues including pesticides, endocrine disrupting compounds, medical residues and heavy metals such as lead and copper. It also eliminates bad tastes and odours from contaminates such as chlorine and sulphur.

Users of iodine and other foul-tasting chemical sanitizers will appreciate that LIFESAVER bottle does NOT use any chemicals. It simply filters out all water-borne pathogens creating safe sterile drinking water - fast.

They've even gone so far as to create an iconographic instructions so that anyone can learn how to use the pump and change the cartridges, regardless of their native tongue.

For the back yard:

The Tidal Flow Wetland Living Machine
This system incorporates a series of tidal flow cells, which are alternately flooded and drained with cycle periods of a day or less to achieve up to tertiary treatment. These systems are designed to be both cost and energy efficient and incorporate the latest in Living Machine technology.

The Tidal Flow Wetland Living Machine System consists of four to six Tidal Wetland cells connected in series by integral pump stations and a control system. Each Tidal Wetland cell is comprised of a watertight basin with a bottom drain system covered by engineered media fill and vegetation on top. Pumps in each basin flood and drain each wetland cell several times daily. The flood and drain process provides all the oxygen necessary for treatment without mechanical aeration.

For the far-flung camper in distress:

The Personal Water Purifier
Pop this compact purifier's inlet pipe into a handy water source and start pumping the pump. Water will start to flow out of a side pipe and after 2 minutes, the water will be disinfected, filtered and free from any nasties.

For the easy distribution in remote regions:

The Life Straw
Time magazine's Best Invention of 2005 is still around, which means that it might not be a design gimmick after all. You've got to admit: no electricity, small shipping size, easy to use, cheap ($2.00!), no spare parts, and effective? Sounds too good to be true...but it's still receiving recognition.

LifeStraw® personal is a portable water purifier that effectively removes all bacteria and viruses responsible for causing common diarrhoeal diseases. LifeStraw® personal requires no electrical power or spare parts and can be carried around for easy access to safe and clean water.

LifeStraw® personal contains a specially developed halogenated resin that kills bacteria and viruses on contact; a special chamber further increases the exposure of micro-organisms to the halogenated resin, thereby enhancing the killing effect. Micro-filters are used to remove all particles down to 15 microns. Activated carbon adsorbs residual iodine thereby improving the taste of water.

For those with little resources:

The BioSand Filter

Rapid sand filtration is mainly used in combination with other water purification methods. The main distinction from slow sand filtration is the fact that biological filtration is not part of the purification process in rapid filtration. Rapid filtration is used widely to remove impurities and remnants of flocculants in most municipal water treatment plants. As a single process, it is not as effective as slow sand filtration in production of drinking water. In general, slow sand filters have filtration rates of up to 0.4 m/hour, as opposed to rapid sand filters which can see filtration rates of up to 21 m/hour.

As its name suggests water in rapid filters passes quickly through the filter beds. Often, it has been chemically pre-treated, so that little biological activity is present. Physical straining is the most important mechanism present in rapid filters. Particles that are larger than the pore spaces between the sand grains are trapped - smaller solids however can pass through the filter. Rapid sand filtration removes particles over a substantial depth within the sand bed.

For those on the go:

The drinkSAFE System
drinkSAFE offers the best off all worlds providing canteens, inline hydration, water straws, and gravity buckets.

All systems are proven to deliver up to 200+ Gallons- 800+Litres water - equivalent to 6 glasses of safe drinking water a day for a year.

All will take out waterborne disease causatives and chemicals including purification chemical taste ,herbicides , pesticides,Voc's, PCB's , Metals and other contaminants in water supplies. We are now incorporating our UK developed and Uk government tested MoD spec purification filter systems in bottles, canteens, Inlines and forces waterbags . These are the most proven tested contaminant micro purification filters in the world.

For the low-tech sun goddess:

The Sun
A Village in Tanzania is trying something so new, it's as old as new can be.

A village is piloting a new way to purify water with simple means. The method is so simple it hurts to think that it has not been put into wide use. Take a transparent plastic water bottle, fill it up with water, lay it on a black roof for several hours. If the sun is beating down good, one hour is enough.

The combination of the sun's ultra violet rays and heat kills any pathogenic germs - the ones that spread much illness in Africa.

For the arsenic-poisoned water of India:

The SONO Filter
The brainchild of Bangladesh native Professor Abul Hussam, this filter was awarded the $1 Million Grainger Challenge Award. More than 18 million people in Bangladesh are struggling with arsenic-contaminated water, including Hassam's family, a fact he surprisingly discovered at the start of his research. `

Simple, inexpensive and made with easily available materials, the filter involves a top bucket, which is filled with locally available coarse river sand and a composite iron matrix (CIM). The sand filters coarse particles and imparts mechanical stability, while the CIM removes inorganic arsenic. The water then flows into a second bucket where it again filters through coarse river sand, then wood charcoal to remove organics, and finally through fine river sand and wet brick chips to remove fine particles and stabilize water flow.

It's raining manganese...halleluja...

October is fast approaching which means one of two things:

1) I REALLY need to get to work on my Rock Biter costume if I ever want to get it finished in time for Halloween.

2) It's the 35th anniversary of the Clean Water Act!

What do those two things have in common? They're both saturated with imagination and fantasy!

Three and a half decades later and we're still fighting over how much pollution we can pollute with in an already-polluted river that was the inspiration for an anti-pollution legislation. Anybody else feel like we're running in circles here? When you need to have a 30 year old babysitter, you know you have a problem.

So who's causing all this pollution?

Here's a list of your Top 10 water-release polluting companies, 35 years after the fact [the number at the end of each listing is for pounds of water release pollutants. Releases to water include discharges to streams, rivers, lakes, oceans and other bodies of water. This includes releases from both point sources, such as industrial discharge pipes, and nonpoint sources, such as stormwater runoff, but not releases to sewers or other off-site wastewater treatment facilities. It includes releases to surface waters, but not ground water]:

1. AK STEEL CORP. (ROCKPORT WORKS), 6500 N. U.S. 231, ROCKPORT, IN 22,693,591 PWRP
2. BASF CORP., 602 COPPER RD., FREEPORT, TX 15,945,553
3. IBP INC., 1500 S. BRIDGE ST., LEXINGTON, NE 6,000,250
9. BP INC., HWY. 92 & I-88 - 28424 38TH AVE. N., HILLSDALE, IL 3,001,250

To check out the Top 100 or view polluters by state, click here. You can also see who is violating in your area here.

Wanna be really scared? You can search the EnviroMapper website by zip code and look up the polluters the same way you can search for registered sexual predators.

I live by three rapists AND hazardous waste.

Happy day!