Thursday, December 6, 2007

Life is grand...

I started what is sure to be a wonderful week-long vacation today, so there won't be many posts (for the next seven days). As a matter of fact, I can't even guarantee a singular post. However, I'll think of you when I'm sipping a Pacifico south of the border.

Don't expect much, but I'll try to get something up.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A materialistic website...

Struggling to find the proper materials for your newest green design? Ecolect is a FREELY accessible (finally) sustainable materials library chock full of recyclable/reusable/recycled/efficient goodness. Designed by designers, Ecolect doesn't just limit itself to products alone, but also focuses on the sustainable community by allowing users to submit their own product reviews.

Which reminds me, I forgot to pick up some elephant dung paper for Christmas.

And yes, they're also blogging.

From their website:

Our vision is unique:

To provide the tools and resources that make it easier for you to design responsibly.

Searching for reliable, state-of-the-art sustainable materials shouldn’t be a frustrating scavenger hunt around the Internet. Ecolect empowers you with:

1. An easy-to-use website featuring only
materials with sustainable attributes, a place that stimulates discussion about defining sustainability and is a source of accurate information

2. A place for you to contribute user reviews and images of materials you use
Helpful case studies on successful sustainable design

3. An
informative blog that discusses how design and ecology affect the world Now that sustainability is becoming important to more people, we need to define its many levels and create tools to help implement those standards. We are convinced that Ecolect is an efficient way for you and others committed to sustainability to fill this gap in the growing green movement.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

If you buy it for me, I'll pay you back...

We better stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

Berkeley has always been beating to a different bongo drummer.

It's only fitting that the University responsible for the Manhattan project also function as the original command post for the Free Speech Movement - trading bomb for calm. You can see it everywhere. In People's Park, on the infamous Bloody Thursday of 1969, James Rector died at the hands of a police shotgun. Now, the former site of the anti-war protest is a nerve center for a satellite Food Not Bombs program - a fitting end to its tragic beginning.

The school has always been at the forefront of the progressive movement. And while there are still some programs that might seems a little sketchy, possibly calling in to question their current "independence of direction" --$500 Million donation from BP to develop biofuels, $10 Million donation from DOW for sustainability-- the city/University area of Berkeley is, yet again, still way ahead of the curve.

And I'm jealous...

Berkeley's City Council has a wonderful plan for the city to finance solar panels for its residents. Basically, the homeowners pay for their panels through a 20-year additional assessment on their homes, with said assessment GUARANTEED not to exceed what their electricity would cost from the power company.

Guaranteed cheaper. Definitively cleaner. Undoubtedly accessible. Brilliant.

But will solar be embraced?

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Berkeley going solar - city pays up front, recoups over 20 years
Carolyn Jones, Chronicle Staff Writer

Friday, October 26, 2007

Berkeley is set to become the first city in the nation to help thousands of its residents generate solar power without having to put money up front - attempting to surmount one of the biggest hurdles for people who don't have enough cash to go green.

The City Council will vote Nov. 6 on a plan for the city to finance the cost of solar panels for property owners who agree to pay it back with a 20-year assessment on their property. Over two decades, the taxes would be the same or less than what property owners would save on their electric bills, officials say.

"This plan could be our most important contribution to fighting global warming," Mayor Tom Bates said Thursday. "We've already seen interest from all over the U.S. People really think this plan can go."

The idea is sparking interest from city and state leaders who are mindful of California's goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020. Officials in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Santa Monica and several state agencies have contacted Berkeley about the details of its plan.

"If this works, we'd want to look at this for other cities statewide," said Ken Alex, California deputy attorney general. "We think it's a very creative way to eliminate the barriers to getting solar panels, and it's fantastic that Berkeley's going ahead with this."

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Is it any wonder that they think they're the next Silicone Valley?

Monday, December 3, 2007

Don't squeeze the Charmin...

As consumers become more and more numb to typically-blah advertising --even in contextually appropriate settings-- businesses are forced to speed up their hamster wheels in order to grab our attention. With varied statistics it's hard to tell how ad-saturated we really are, but this might give you an idea of what these ad execs are competing against:

The average American is exposed to 247 commercial messages each day. -Consumer Reports Website

Research tells us that the average American consumer is exposed tomore that 600 advertising messages a day in one form or another. -The Business Journal Phoenix

The average American is exposed to about 3000 advertising messages a day, and globally corporations spend over $620 billion each year to make their products seem desirable and to get us to buy them. -Michael Brower, PhD, and Warren Leon, PhD, Union of Concerned Scientists

A conservative estimate has the average American consumer exposed to more than 850 commercial messages a day. -Texas A&M University Digital Library

As a result, socially conscience and devilishly interactive advertising has been begun to break the marketing atmosphere, shattering the mold in order to evoke a consumer emotion far deeper than the buy me.

While more and more attention is being garnered by these organizations, big corporations are beginning to take notice. Check out these innovative advertisements by non-profits, governments, and social organizations, with a few green-washed billboards thrown in (see: McDonald's).

Click for bigger.

Cancer Patient Aid Association ceiling poster campaign:

For Amnesty International:

For The Salvation Army:

For Denver Water's "Use Only What You Need" Campaign:

For The Red Cross (with various other locations):

For the Focus 12 Rehab Center:

For a deforestation campaign (similar to WWF campaign pic below*)

For The World Wildlife Fund:

For Medicine Without Borders (one of my FAVORITES):


For a Stop Smoking Campaign in South America:

For a Greenpeace Global Warming campaign (incudes various other cities):

For Mothers Against Drunk Driving:

For the World Wildlife Fund:

*For the World Wildlife Fund:

Award-winning solar-powered billboard for NedBank in South Africa:

For the always-healthy McDonald's:

Cut-Outs for the Bronx Zoo:

For Amnesty International:

For Institute Akatu in Brazil:

For more information, check out