Spring (2010) into Sustainability

I know spring is here because I've been able to get out my bike on an almost nightly basis.  Along with flowers, green grass and sunshine, spring seems to usher in a renewed interest in sustainable talk.  Especially because Earth Day is smack dab in the middle of it (April 22).  In honor of spring and Earth Day below are some observations I've made over the past few weeks.

Welcome in Spring

Last March I wrote a post about opening your windows to welcome in spring.  While the weather is still relatively cool, make sure you rely on opening windows to get a nice breeze through your home rather than turning to your AC.  Last year I installed a screen-door leading to my deck which allows us to open up the main door while keeping the bugs out and allows us to get better air flow through the house.

Green TV

I've known we get the Planet Green channel by Discovery in HD but this past weekend was the first time I actually watched any of the shows. We watched Living with Ed which chronicles actor and activist Ed Begley efforts to live a sustainable life in L.A.  Ed is also a spokesperson for the GreenSwitch and you can see him at the video at the bottom of the Mapawatt Greenswitch post. Also featured in the show is Ed's neighbor, Bill Nye (the science  guy).  Bill has a BMW Mini-E which I mentioned in one of our posts on Electric Vehicles.

We also watched Future Food, which is about creative chefs at the Chicago based restaurant MOTO and their efforts to bring new and exciting foods (while focusing on sustainable eating) to America's palate.


I just purchased my first ever Mac so when the iPad was released my new fondness for Apple was increased.  But is the iPad sustainable?  One writer at SuperEco doesnt think so:

Yes, the iPad is green—but it's not sustainable. It offers nothing that actually replaces existing electronic tools. Reduce? Reuse or repurpose? The iPad just wants you to add more. There may be a few purchasers out there who buy an iPad because they don't have an e-reader yet. For most, though, the iPad won't be replacing a mobile phone or netbook or laptop. The iPad represents another device to own, an unnecessary supplement. From the metals used in its construction, to the energy gobbled by its manufacture and shipping, to the recycling and landfill burden of its disposal, the iPad is another toy in the endless parade of electronic consumerism. We'll take a pass until a truly greener apple worth picking comes along.

But I like the message that a writer for the Greenpeace makes on the iPad:

Undoubtedly digital media is becoming far more important and amounts of media consumed will only rise. The wrong way to look at this is how green is digital media versus traditional media (e-readers v books etc) Digital media is the future and should be powered by renewable energy. That's the real important question to ask and the challenge for all companies leading the charge on cloud computing. Will it be a green cloud or brown?

We can't keep saying, "it's not sustainable to make new stuff".  As true as that may be, it doesn't quench society's demand for "bigger and better".  This is a sentiment I wrote about in our post, "How not to convince people to live sustainably".  The reality is we can only focus on how the stuff we do make is more sustainable.  Apple focused on making the iPad environmentally friendly and we can't forget how many trees will be saved because people will now get their media on a portable electronic device.  I had the chance to play with the iPad last week and it is now on my Christmas wish list (it will help me keep up with other green blogs)!

Corporate Malfeasance

We know that coal is one of the dirtiest methods we have to create energy, but it is also dangerous.  Some say there was nothing that could have been done to save the miners that perished in the coal mine blast two weeks ago, but that doesn't seem to be the case as there have been numerous violations at the mine by Massey Energy and some have come forward to say that the CEO, Don Blankenship, was very lax on safety regulations.  Thankfully it seems that some Massey investors are tired of the lack of sustainable behavior (yes, human safety is part of sustainability) by the CEO and are asking for him to be fired.

But Massey Energy hasn't been the only corporate sustainability failure in April.  A Chinese shipping company was transporting oil off the coast of Australia spilling more than two tons of oil and threatening the Great Barrier Reef.

Compost and Gardening

But not all companies are taking steps backward when it comes to corporate sustainability.  SunChips, made by Frito-Lay, now come in a compostable bag!  When I saw this at the store I had to pick it up and once I finish the chips the bag is heading straight for my mini-compost pile where they say it will break down in about 14 weeks.  I will then continue to use that compost in my square-foot gardening box where my lone brussel sprout plant (which survived the winter) is now thriving and I hope to see some sprouts very soon!  See the pictures of the bag, my compost pile, and my plant below!

So what sustainable efforts (or lack thereof ) have you noticed this spring?

My compost pile

My sole Brussel Sprout plant

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