Images of a starving polar bear made the news back in December. The creature was seen searching for food in Canada’s Arctic whilst looking extremely emaciated. Activist groups hours later distributed the picture in what seemed to be a desperate plea for help over concerns that climate change is having tremendous effects on our planet.Read More
PLANETARY STAKES ARE HIGHER THAN POLITICS.
There is one issue it's really time for everyone to embrace regardless of politics. Because this issue transcends opinion: It's based in fact, it affects everything and everyone here, and we are literally destroying our opportunity to maintain this way of life if we continue to ignore the catastrophic damage we are causing. Yup -- I'm talking about the environment.Read More
The world currently consumes 20 trillion kWh of energy annually—enough to power a single family home for 1.8 billion years or supply energy to a nuclear power plant for 2,300 years (or launch the Falcon 9 rocket seventeen million times).
To begin the march away from these staggering numbers, Tesla has reinvented itself in order to change the way we look at consumption—and shepherd in a new era of renewable energy at home and businesses.Read More
The story of California’s water shortage is the story of Manifest Destiny in the US: a belief that people can dominate the natural landscape and bring it to its knees in servitude of Our Way of Life. The American Dream: to enjoy boundless growth, unimaginable luxury and to always have the ability to do and have more.Read More
Each of us produces greywater and black water at home. But what happens to that water once it leaves our houses? If you use products on your body and home that have dyes, chemicals or fragrances, you can be 100-percent sure those ingredients are being absorbed into the soil somewhere nearby.Read More
|Photo from Syracuse.com.|
|The scene. Photo/Nicole Caldwell|
For $10 a carload, people could arrive on Court Street, sign a waiver, and pull up to a field behind the factory to rifle through tens of thousands of unglazed dishware. The building's new owners were going to break up all the china and haul it to a landfill; but instead decided to turn it over to the public. The $10 fee was donated to the Eastwood Neighborhood Association and Over The Rainbow Daycare center at St. Matthews Church in East Syracuse. So this served an environmental cause (keeping all the stuff out of the landfill) as well as artistic, historic, and supporting great neighborhood causes. Quadruple win!
More than 1,100 cars and trucks arrived over the weekend with upwards of 3,000 people. More than $11,000 were raised for the nonprofits. Over at the Better compound, we'll be putting the china to use in a number of ways:
- Glazing workshops open to the public
- Future farm-to-table dinner events, where we will have artists design the dishware and diners will be able to bring their place settings home with them
- We will glaze dishware for use at festivals, weddings and other events
|Poster by Erika Pitcher. Prints available here.|
Really. Think about it.
You may be really very seriously concerned about economics. Job growth. War chests. Gun control. Abortion. Maybe you are planning on voting for someone you don't like in order to ensure the incumbent gets tossed. Say you're voting based on who's better on women's rights. Gay rights. Civil rights. Healthcare. Balancing the budget. Supporting our military. Maybe you just really hate democrats.
Well, listen up: There's only one fundamental truth where each of us is concerned: We live or die based on the condition of the earth.
You don't get job growth without safe drinking water. There is no debate over gun safety without nourishing food. We have no security, no safety without fresh air to breathe. There is one thing that comes before every selfish, philanthropic, compassionate, arrogant stance we take in this world and that's the environment. She shields us, clothes us, feeds us, warms us, cools us, and only ever operates from a neutral, vibrant place.
It's time to stop carrying on in spite of her and start making moves because of her. These moves come in large part out of where we put our money and whose name we check on our voting ballots. Which politicians are willing to stand up and defend her? Who is unwavering in their devotion to Mother Dearest? Who understands the gravity of our environmental situation and the stakes? Whoever that is, that is who you need to go out and support. Today. Right now.
|Poster by Kevin M. Fitzgeral. Prints available here.|
Look back in time, two, three, even four decades ago. There were glimmers then about what we were doing to the environment and to each other. A whole lot of people got together back in those days for the anti-war movement. John Lennon and Yoko Ono staged their bed protests: Hair Peace. Bed Peace. People harnessed their energy and pressured the political arena. And you know what? We pulled out of Vietnam. It happened. The republic had spoken. So why would it be so far-fetched to think that in this era, we might be able to harness that public energy again in order to make big, environmental changes? To abolish fracking once and for all? To finally put an end to drilling for oil? Or overall demand for oil? Or an overwhelming shift in perspective about how we live our lives in general? If the general public can end wars and push uptight politicians to accept recreational marijuana use, is it so far-fetched to think we could make compost toilets the norm and end our reliance on fracked gas and oil? Or that we could put an end to the endlessly diverted waterways out west? That we could refuse, with the force of millions, to subsidize huge corporations that couldn't care less about us?
It's not fair that we would have to be drowning below sea level or actually have run out of wild-caught fish for people to vote for the environment. California shouldn't have to dry out entirely for us to consider our elected officials' stances on water conservation. Glaciers shouldn't have to go the way of the woolly mammoth before we are willing to discuss climate change on a political level. Ditto for lakes and rivers being deemed unfishable, unswimmable before we're willing to vote for someone who will protect our waterways. Don't wait for every last ounce of oil to be drawn from the ground and every reserve to be cashed in on. Don't let some bigwig frack in every available spot, provide jobs for the next 80 years and make some fat cats even fatter; before we realize we can't actually eat all those dollar bills.
Give me a break.
Vote the Environment. She's the only renewable resource on the planet besides hope and love.
Vote Mother Earth. She's the only politician with a literal platform: the ground beneath your feet.
Vote the Planet: Because manufactured meat, farmed salmon, and GMOs ain't gonna cut it.
We are in the middle of a crisis far more interesting, exciting, terrifying and opportunistic than Miley Cyrus' latest rant, Lena Dunham's embarrassing memoir, or Brangelina's wedding photos. We're talking climate change. Extinction. Destruction of wild places. Record droughts. Rising sea levels. Severe storms and weather patterns. Dogs and cats, living together! It all keeps happening, even while we keep arguing over who we'll vote for based on who gives a crap about health care, birth control or how many bullets can go into a gun. This is like a magician getting you to look at one hand while he sleights with the other.
Stop being so distracted!
What if we refused to vote for the lesser evil in the polls and instead rooted for independents, libertarians, the Green Party—anyone who refused to stand down on environmental issues? What if we told the two-party system to take a hike?
It's time to draw the proverbial line in the sand: DO NOT CROSS! We will not let you! This has gone too far. We've had it!
So compost. Host farm-to-table dinner parties. Love each other and forgive and go love some more. Eat organic. Ditch sugar. Pick up trash, recycle, help to conserve our wild places. And, for goodness sakes, vote for priority numero uno! What good is that voice the world gave you if you don't use it to defend her?
To get Better Farm off its fuel-oil furnace, we're now sporting a wood stove (utilizing standing-dead trees on the property and logs from a woodlot three miles away) and pellet stove. We of course realize these options aren't available to everyone. So depending on where you live and what's available to you, consider looking into one of these options for producing heat in your home this year.
|Image from Canadian Geothermal.|
Solar-Powered Heat Pump
|Image from Accent Comfort Services.|
Simultaneously, they provide air conditioning using half the energy as traditional window or central air conditioning systems. Best yet—by installing a solar electric array to power the electric consumption of the heat pumps, you effectively have a solar space-heating system. Your solar array will generate credits in the summertime (when it is sunniest) which allow you to run the heat pumps in the wintertime (when it is coldest). Your system will effortlessly generate all the 'fuel' it ever needs from clean, abundant sunshine! (From ReVision Energy)
|The new pellet stove coming soon to Better Farm's library.|
Wood is a totally renewable resource. If you live on a lot of property, there are seemingly endless reserves of standing-dead trees that can be harvested in a responsible way. We scored more than eight cords this year by doing responsible tree-felling in the woods at Better Farm alone, and there is plenty more where that came from. A few wood heat facts:
- Wood-burning stoves are better in environmental terms as the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is the same as that absorbed by the tree during growth.
- Trees are a renewable resource (particularly when derived from plantations and cultivated woodland; or in our case, when you plant new trees and only cut down standing-dead ones).
- Wood ashes can be used very successfully in the vegetable garden (except in the area where you plan to grow potatoes). Mix the ash thoroughly with your soil. Tomatoes seem to benefit especially from soil that has been mixed with a small quantity of wood ash.
- Nothing is cozier than sitting around inside on a frigid day in front of a toasty-warm wood stove. Nothing.
Care to share your methods of alternative heat? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Advertising Agency: BBDO Malaysia, MALAYSIA, Kuala Lumpur / Advertising Agency: Duval Guillaume, Belgium|
The implications for art intersecting with sustainability are huge. Using this unbelievably powerful tool—this endless creative resource each of us has—literally can change the world. There is tons of new art coming out that's been produced sustainably with natural, eco-friendly materials. There is art with a sustainable message. There are seed bombs. There is upcycling. The intersection of art and sustainability is the intersection of the heart and the mind. It is the synthesis of everything dear: fundamental survival, connectedness to the natural world, beauty, and love.
This is one of the central tenets utilized in betterArts residencies—the program itself appeals to people who want to use art as a vehicle of change. BetterArts attracts artists from all over the world who have an environmental message to share with the world through their artwork. Whether upcycling trash, creating pieces out of invasive plant species, or the like, betterArts residents explore some of the world's most profound environmental issues in a beautiful way.
Check out some of the following pieces, used for social issue ads (compiled over at BoredPanda) and see just how intense the messages are when clever artists are at the wheel:
So few of us want to spend time with loved ones washing dishes and cleaning, we often opt for what seems easiest: disposable everything. Yet, we just threw a party with six bands and hundreds of people and ended up with less than one full bag of garbage. How on earth did we pull that off?
First, the problem.
From Styrofoam plates to plastic cups, we are so accustomed to throwaway meal items that we barely give a second thought to utilizing stuff that we only use for minutes (sometimes seconds) before tossing it along on its dead-end course with a landfill. Here are the facts (from reuseit.com):
- In 2009, the United States generated 13 million tons of plastics waste from containers and packaging, and 7 million tons of nondurable plastic waste (for example plates and cups). The combined total of nondurable disposables exceeded the 11 million tons of plastic durable goods, such as appliances [EPA]. Only 7 percent was recovered for recycling.
- Plastic cutlery is non-biodegradable, can leach toxic chemicals when handled improperly, and is widely used. Worldcentric.org estimates 40 billion plastic utensils are used every year in just the United States. The majority of these are thrown out after just one use.
- 3,460,000 tons of tissues and paper towels wound up in landfills in 2008.
- The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 780,000 tons of plastic and polystyrene cups and plates were discarded in 2008.
- Americans produce enough Styrofoam cups every year to circle the earth 436 times. These cups are completely non-biodegradable, deplete the Earth’s ozone layer, waste enormous amounts of landfill, and are deadly to marine life.
- The Container Recycling Institute claims that 2.81 million juice boxes were sold in the U.S. in 2006, most of which cannot be recycled due to the inseparability of the cardboard, plastic, and aluminum foil used in the product.
- According to the EPA, Americans discarded about 2.7 million tons of aluminum, the largest source being used beverage and packaging containers. And in the time it takes you to read this sentence, more than 50,000 12-oz. aluminum cans were made.
- The Container Recycling Institute estimates that supplying plastic water bottles to American consumers in one year requires more than 47 million gallons of oil, the equivalent of one billion pounds of carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere.
At last week's Summerfest, we welcomed hundreds of people to Better Farm to help support betterArts' mission of arts and cultural outreach against a backdrop of responsible environmentalism and practical sustainability.
So what did we do to steer away from such a disposable-obsessed culture?
- Instead of Styrofoam plates, we went with compostable ones that will turn into dirt by next spring.
- We opted to invest in real silverware and cutlery, along with heavy-duty plastic tubs for bussing dirty silverware.
- We utilized real glasses for iced tea, lemonade, water, beer and wine.
- We ditched all the single-serving bottles. That means no water bottles, no bottles of juice. We filled pitchers and loaded people up with glasses.
- We put out carefully marked garbage pails: compost, burnable, washable, recyclable. That left cigarette butts and empty bags of ice as the party's only actual trash items.
- We made our food from actual ingredients, not pre-packaged or store-bought stuff. That meant no cellophane, Styrofoam, or even plastics to contend with. As a bonus, most of the side-dish items came from just a few feet away in Better Farm's garden!
Got some great ideas for throwing zero-waste parties? Email us at email@example.com.