Thursday, August 30, 2007

 
posted by Sarah Krasley @ 9:39 PM
vw_jetta.jpgVolkswagen of America plans to offset the carbon emissions of projected consumer use. From September 1, 2007, until January 2, 2008, vehicles sold by Volkswagen will have carbon emissions offset for the first year of ownership.

In addition, the Volkswagen site will show the carbon footprint calculation of vehicles alongside statistics on fuel efficiency, speed, and price, when they use the “Build a VW” feature, according to VW.

The offsets, from Carbonfund.org, will support the land acquisition and reforestation of 1,100 acres of habitat in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley, Louisiana. The offsets will be based on the average annual emissions for each different type of model sold in the four-month period.

Volkswagen says it will encourage customers to continue to offset their emissions via a carbon calculator on a Volkswagen of America micro site hosted by Carbonfund.org.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

 
posted by Sarah Krasley @ 7:07 PM
The coal mining industry has sunk to new lows this month. Starting off with the Crandall Canyon mining disaster in Utah where there are still six miners and several rescue workers trapped in a mountain mine co-owned by Bob Murray. Murray has reportedly said that mining may resume on other parts of the same mountain in the future. Yes, you read that correctly--the miners are not even out of the mountain yet, and the co-owner of the mine is already talking about putting more lives in jeopardy through further excavation from the same site. WOW.

And not that you really need another reason why the Bush Administration has the WORST sense of timing possible, they just approved an expansion of a rule that allows for mountaintop mining--which pretty much means miners can blast off the top on mountains and leave the rock and soil they blasted off in the valleys and streams that sit below the mountains. Again, WOW.

So, not only are people's lives put in jeopardy by mining the coal, now their drinking water can be contaminated by mining, too. WOW. I'm really not sure what else needs to happen before we switch to a more renewable energy infrastructure...all this recent activity makes things pretty clear for me...have you ever heard of someone pinned to death under a solar panel or wind turbine? Since miners can now blow off the tops of mountains, I guess the whole "wind turbines ruin the view" argument isn't really relevant anymore. Hmpf!

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

 
posted by Sarah Krasley @ 4:10 PM
The San Francisco Chronicle just posted this announcement from six western states and two Canadian provinces. Why should you care, you might ask? Well, it's a pretty wonky subject, but cap and trade systems, if designed well, can do a whole lot to combat global warming. The sytems are going up regionally because the federal government doesn't have their act together on this yet. It took me a long time to understand how these systems work. So here's a moderately wonky explanation (like a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10) from Wikipedia.

Here's the article, by Matthew Yi from the San Francisco Chronicle

(08-22) 12:04 PDT SACRAMENTO -- A coalition of six Western states and two Canadian provinces will announce this afternoon that they have set a regional goal to fight global warming - a goal similar to last year's California legislation to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Six months ago, governors in Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington signed an agreement to create the Western Climate Initiative partnership to improve the environment by reducing carbon emissions. Since then, Utah and Canadian provinces Manitoba and British Columbia have also joined the effort.

The partners today will announce that they have set a goal to reduce the region's greenhouse gas emissions about 25 percent by 2020, which is similar to California's AB32 legislation that passed with much fanfare.

The region's new standard was based on some existing goals that the states and provinces have set to reduce their emissions, said Sarah Cottrell, energy and environmental policy adviser to Gov. Bill Richardson in New Mexico.

The partnership also plans to later create a blueprint for the so-called "cap-and-trade" system in the region, a proposal that would allow high-polluting businesses to buy carbon credits from low-polluting firms in other states and the provinces.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and business organizations have championed such a system for California, although Democratic lawmakers and environmentalists have argued that AB32 requires regulations to cut emissions before considering such market-based systems of trading carbon credits.

It is not yet clear exactly what measures will be taken to reduce greenhouse gases in other states or California. Some of the governments involved in today's decision still must pass laws to establish long-term or short-term reduction goals for the gases like carbon dioxide and methane.

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posted by Sarah Krasley @ 2:36 PM

The 11th Hour comes out in most major cities this weekend. It's making has been a labor of love for Leonardo DiCaprio, a longtime champion of climate change mitigation. I plan to go see the film this weekend.

The reasons why I am particularly excited about this film:


1. The film focuses on action, from what I'm told, the bulk of the film clearly spelling out what individuals can do to confront the climate crisis. The website offers lots of follow-up tips and is clearly is easy to navigate through.

2. Warner Brothers has carried the environmental responsibility for this film, to its production at large. I went on the Warner Brothers website, ans saw something I've ever seen before: a real time metric that shows the output of their solar panels and the amount of greenhouse gas emissions avoided to-date. I would love to see other companies follow suit with this on their websites or even in their lobbies--great idea!
© Warner Independent Pictures

3. The production design of the film and its corresponding website is environmentally responsible--see Dave's post on Blackle.

4. The theme music sounds like I am the Walrus slowed down. Love that jam.

Photo credit: Leonardo DiCaprio (wearing my favorite headphones)
© Warner Independent Pictures

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

 
posted by Sarah Krasley @ 4:43 PM

One of the reasons we at GreenBase like John Butler somuch is because he embodies of the main missions of this site: "Art changes people ... people change the world." Here is a great interview originally posted on Grist a few weeks ago. Enjoy!

Aussie guitarist John Butler on nukes, dickheads, and common sense
By Sarah van Schagen
14 Aug 2007
John Butler Trio
The John Butler Trio: (L to R) Shannon Birchall, John Butler, and Michael Barker.
Photo: Marty Philbey reposted from Grist.org

For the record, John Butler hates the word "environmentalism." Actually, he's sick of all the "-isms." The Australian jam-band musician is more interested in the interconnectedness of problems, in why humans do the things we do. "Lack of love, or hope, or opportunity," he says, "are the core problems that end up, down the road, becoming environmental or human-rights issues."

Known for his outspoken political beliefs and signature dreads, Butler -- who was born in California and moved down under at 11 with his family -- has a way with audiences that goes back to his days as a busker on the streets of Western Australia. Now most of his performances are on a stage in front of thousands of people, gaining him a platform for the issues that matter to him: banning nukes, fighting AIDS, curbing climate change. At the Live Earth concert in Sydney last month, Butler took the opportunity to do just that, making T-shirts emblazoned with "Say no to nuclear energy" and encouraging fans to think about renewables.

Butler's green leaning isn't just an act. The John Butler Trio's most recent U.S. tour was greened by Clif Bar's GreenNotes program. His messages have made their way into album inserts (printed on recycled paper) and lyrics. His website even includes a forum for debate about the environment and global politics.


Listen to the John Bulter Trio perform Better Than in Real Media or Windows Media.

The video for Butler's most recent single, "Better Than," an upbeat song set to a relaxed, rootsy beat, closes with this quote: "Art changes people ... people change the world." It's a notion he truly seems to live by.

I got the chance to chat with Butler post-Live Earth during a brief stop in the U.S. (he called from a parking lot in Hollywood) before the band finished up its Grand National tour in Australia. Our conversation echoed his musical style, laid-back and thoughtful, as it meandered from the obligatory questions about green touring to reflections on human psychology.




question You recently returned from Australia, where you played Live Earth. What was that like?

answer It was good. It was really good actually. The theme of the day was awareness, but it was so much more about action. So we thought we'd put the fifth pledge into action -- put pressure on your leaders to support renewable energy.

We decided to bring up the nuclear issue, because we have 40 percent of the world's uranium in [Australia], and we're being heavily lobbied by all the people from the uranium industry, nuclear industry, and even the government's gotten behind it. ... In the name of this concert and in the name of the fifth pledge and in the name of, actually, common sense, we were out there putting pressure on our leaders to support real renewables, rather than going down the nuclear path.

Everybody wore these T-shirts that said, "Say no to nuclear energy." I had a speech in the middle of it and got about 40,000 people all saying they wanted a nuclear-free Australia and a nuclear-free world. To me, it was a success on that front, when you put something into action. A few people were a little bit confused, like, why would you say no to nuclear energy when it's the bridge to renewable -- and I'd say well that's just bullshit, you know? So many people are getting fooled in Australia and all around the world, [saying] let's go to a green energy like nuclear energy ... it's like going from the coal fry-pan into the nuclear fire, you know?

They wanted us to take action, so we figured rather than celebrating doomsday, we'd have an action.

Story continues below
question Did the concert have a different feel than when you normally go on stage?

answer When people come together for a cause that's bigger than themselves, if it's something that connects us all, in a way, as humans and as humanity, there's a special feeling, for sure.

question You guys partnered with Clif Bar's GreenNotes program for your recent tour of the U.S. What was that like?

answer It was great. They hooked both our buses up with biodiesel; both our buses are running on B99 -- that's almost 100 percent biodiesel. They also hooked up some really great riders backstage -- a lot more organic and a lot less waste. They were a really cool crew.

question What made you decide to be part of that?

answer We were just kind of sick of talking about it, actually.

John Butler
John Butler.
Photo: James Minchin
We started in Australia first ... we offset all the emissions from our touring and reduced a lot of the freighting by going ground instead of air. We were buying carbon credits from New Zealand; that was also going back into the wind-energy industry over there, and we offset that whole tour. Then we decided we'd try to do it in America, but it was already happening over there with Reverb and Clif Bar -- it was almost too easy, actually.

question That seems to be a rather recent change in how people are touring. What do you see for maybe the next five or 10 years, or what do you hope to see, in terms of the music industry making changes?

answer It's just like society -- it's up to individuals, or these individual bands to take the initiative on. Clif Bar, Reverb, Music Matters -- all these crews -- they make it easier than ever, and that's what needs to happen. At the moment, it's easier than ever to destroy the planet with fossil fuels and the amount of waste that's going on ... because people provide the service for it to be easier. So the minute people provide another service ... then most people do the right thing.

In Australia in our last tour, we had two tickets -- we had a green ticket and a regular ticket. The green ticket basically just offset people's emissions that they make coming to our gate, and we wanted people to have the choice. We could have just made the ticket that way and offset everybody, but we really wanted to let people know that they had a choice in the matter. And you know, 80 to 90 percent of the people made the right choice to buy the green ticket and offset it. When people are given the opportunity and the information, and then they have the access to do the right thing, people usually do.

And I think it's the same with the music industry. More artists know about the fact that they can do it and somebody's making it easier for them to do it -- like Reverb and so forth. The more it happens, the more affordable it's going to be.

Everybody basically wants a world to live in. So I think people are just going to keep doing the right thing, or they're going to pay the price. Human beings are pretty smart, you know? We learn very slowly, but we have our own interest in mind at the end of the day, and our survival.

question So you were talking about individual actions making a difference. What are you doing as an individual?

answer Every day we go on stage is an action for us, and a way of adding to positive change on this planet. And it's also the buses on biodiesel, the recycling at home, choosing to buy green energy as opposed to regular types of energy. Those are the things anyone can do. Those are the things I've been doing for a long time -- it's just the right thing to do.

question Are you planning to continue this in your future tours -- offering the green tickets and the biodiesel, and all that?

answer At the moment I think we're just going to do it while it's cool, and then when it dies out, we'll just go back to being dickheads. [Laughs.]

I mean, yeah, of course. Once we started it, it was just the way to be done. And if you can do it, why wouldn't you? These things are about common sense. This is not a right-wing debate, it's not a left-wing debate, it's not an environmental debate, it's a human-being issue, a human issue. It's the same when you see an old lady coming to a door, you open it up for her because that's just the right thing to do. You treat people with respect -- not because it's the fad, or because it's going to make you look good -- because it's the right thing to do.

question You've mentioned a bunch of different issues that you support. Do you include any of this in your music? Do you mention it when you're on stage, or in your lyrics?

answer We put a brochure [about renewable energy] in our latest CD, and that's direct action as far as I'm concerned. That's 100,000 people getting information that they don't have to find from some site -- it's on their lap.

Nowadays ... I'm more interested in looking at why we consume, and the way we consume. Why we always think the grass is greener on the other side. Why we always want one more flat-screen TV, and why we want a better nose, and all those things that end up making us destroy ourselves and each other. Why do individuals who run corporations that make billions of dollars in profit still want to make that little bit more off cutting out working conditions in their factories?

You can complain about it 'til the dogs come home; there's always going to be dickheads. I'm more interested in why dickheads choose to be dickheads. And it's usually not an evil thing; it gets back to being hit as a child or not loved enough, or being insecure. I find that really interesting. Because that's where we're going to really solve the problems, when people love themselves and are willing to be awake, rather than escaping.

That's going to make some real big change in this world -- when it's not a Republican issue, when it's not a Democratic issue, when it's not an environmental issue, or a human-rights issue -- when it's actually about human beings loving themselves, loving each other, respecting themselves, and then, in due course, respecting other people, and other things. That's the common denominator for me; when you peel all the layers off the onion, that seems to be the core issue.

I gave you way too much there! [Laughs.] I didn't answer the question.

question No, that was great. I've actually interviewed a lot of musicians, but nobody ever talks about [the] why.

answer It gets boring talking about pointing the finger. It doesn't really do any good. Yeah, there's something wrong, and people have been saying "there's something wrong" for fucking thousands of years. And we're still in this situation because we haven't really dealt with the issue -- which is us, you know? Us.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

 
posted by Sarah Krasley @ 12:59 AM
I remember watching the MTV Video Music Awards last year and hearing them announce that the environment was the top issue their viewers cared about and being really excited. In my opinion, they are doing a great job of building awareness through education about leading a more green life. So, it came as no surprise when I learned today that the next season of the Real World will take place in an eco-friendly house. The producers aim to reduce or completely neutralize emissions associated with producing the series through efficiency measures and carbon offsets.
I can only imagine what next season's testimonials will be like: "Matt really annoyed me because he didn't buy unbleached paper towels," or "Chris needs to stop drinking bottled water--doesn't he understand how wasteful that is?! I mean, WTF?!! What does he think, Fiji is right next store?!" I may be dating myself, but Puck and Pedro taught me a lot about being a good roommate-let's hope the new crop helps some people learn a thing or two.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

 
posted by Sarah Krasley @ 5:39 PM

I love the Great Lakes. I do. I remember visiting them as a kid and being totally in awe of their size and beauty. Both of those qualities are now in jeopardy. From Grist.org:

It could be a summer of record lows in two of the world's iconic places: the Great Lakes and the Arctic seas. Water levels in Lakes Huron, Michigan, and Superior are well below normal, and Superior could soon hit a record low set in 1926. The U.S. and Canada have undertaken a five-year study that could shed sloooow light on the situation, which has been blamed on climate change, rainfall patterns, and human activities like dredging. "I think we found that all of those contributed to some degree," said Robert Nairn, principal of an engineering firm that has studied the issue. "The big question that remains is how much is each contributing." In the Arctic, measurements made last week by the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center found sea ice extent nearly 30 percent below the long-term average. With a month of melting season left, scientists say, a new record will likely be set. Says Mark Serreze of NSIDC, "We cannot explain everything that we have seen just through natural processes."

The bag above is from BuiltbyWendy.com--show some love for the Great Lakes while you save those plastic bags!


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Monday, August 13, 2007

 
posted by Sarah Krasley @ 4:23 PM
Following along on my cooking theme, Dole announced today their plans to utilize a carbon neutral supply chain for bananas and pineapples produced in Costa Rica. My location in the United States certainly does not make buying these bananas supporting locally grown food, but it does definitely signal a strong current of doing business in a new, more sustainable way. When I began following sustainability trends four years ago, it was fruit stands and Ben and Jerry's....it's been amazing to see larger corporations take on sustainability goals, too.

From Environmental Leader:

The carbon dioxide emitted to produce, pack, transport and distribute the fruit will be offset by mitigation practices which increase the capture of CO2 in order to achieve a ‘neutral’ balance. These practices entail new, more efficient transportation methods, changes to agricultural processes to reduce CO2 emissions, and partnering with local farmers to implement preservation and reforestation programs.

I will add that I am still wary of carbon neutral claims until there is a widely accepted standard. Yes, Oxford English dictionary has selected "carbon neutral" as the 2006 word...er...words of the year, but the dictionary definition does not suffice to answer the question of how deep a greenhouse gas inventory should go to warrant the banner of carbon neutrality (the dictionary is already long and heavy enough). I prefer the approach that some companies are taking to list carbon measurement metrics instead with some disclosure on what they did to green their operations and supply chain. This may sound nit picky--but it will set a great precedent for the years to come.

While Josephine Baker's skirt was made from artificial bananas, perhaps someone should resurrect the skirt as a Burning Man costume this year with real bananas---after all, the theme is: "The Green Man" and after camping for several days, some fresh sustainable fruit can be quite tasty--so your costume is guaranteed to leave no trace.

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posted by Sarah Krasley @ 12:15 AM
The Indonesian President is expected to sign a bill this month requiring natural resources companies to spend money on corporate social responsibility programs, The Wall Street Journal reports. The Wall Street Journal believes it would be the first instance we know of world-wide that CSR is mandated by law.

The bill provides no definition of how much money a company has to spend, how it should spend it, or how the spending will be taxed. Article 74 is so vague that lawyers tell us it could apply to any company that uses natural resources; in other words, every limited liability company in the country.

Jakarta has a spotty record of enforcing rules on its books, so even when it becomes law, the CSR legislation may ultimately prove a dead letter, according to the article. Regardless, Article 74 sets a precedent that other countries might try to copy.


Reposted from Environmental Leader

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

 
posted by Sarah Krasley @ 10:15 PM
I'm on a vegetarian French cooking kick right now. Yes--those two words normally don't go together, but I found me a cookbook, and I'm making some tres delicious meals. My old corner grocery store made cooking dinner so easy. I'd pop by and ask what I should make, and the wonderful woman behind the counter would point me to all sorts of delicious vegetables and cheeses and I was on my way home to embark on a gratin, ratatouille, or cassoulet. My corner grocery store is now an IGA, so times have changed.

One of my favorite things about French cooking is that the meals are grouped with fresh ingredients that are all in season. Using my trusty local foods wheel, I decided against the fava bean pasta and opted for an asparagus pasta instead. Asparagus still seemed to be in the present calendar zone, so I assumed I was alright. I went to my neighborhood cooperative grocery store and asked the woman working in the produce section if there was any asparagus--she laughed and said "No" like I was asking her if Halliburton had a corporate charge account there.

Anyway, I checked out sans-asparagus and decided to hit up a large chain supermarket on my way home, just in case the cooperative was sold out of asparagus, and it was not indeed out of season. I guess it was...or was it? Admidst the giant produce aisle lit with way too many bulbs lay fava beans, asparagus, and all sorts if other vegetables that, according to my local foods wheel---are all out of season.

I mention this because there is a revolution happening in supermarket marketing. In this day and age you have to be a Whole Foods or a Costco to be successful--there isn't a whole lot of demand for supermarkets in between. The large chain supermarket I went to wanted to be Whole Foods so bad---they buy renewable energy, they offer the reusable bags at the front counter, they've even changed the decor to be more "eco-looking"---so why are they greening the stuff in the periphery and not making more of an effort to green the most central aspect of their business---selling produce? I'd like to think the other green improvements are a first step and a more attention will be given to effiecient supply chains in the future.

Until then, check out what foods are in season in your area. I Googled and googled to try and find a resource for people all over the US, but came up with nada. Instead, take a more old fashioned approach--go to a farmer's market in your area and talk to the people behind the stands--they'll definitely be able to tell you what's in season and what is not. Worldwatch has some other really useful tips here. You can find a farmer's market close to you by going here. P.S. Summer squash pasta is delicious!

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Wednesday, August 8, 2007

 
posted by Sarah Krasley @ 12:41 AM
The naming of Tesla Motors makes me want to become a nomenclature specialist. Sweet heavens! Brilliant! Lucky for me, and the other Bay Area residents, the first Tesla Motors dealership will open in Menlo Park. Here's the scoop direct from Treehugger.com (who, congrats to them, got acquired by Discovery Communications, LLC today):

Location of First Tesla Store Revealed

by Matthew Sparkes, London, UK on 08. 6.07

The first Tesla store will open in... Menlo Park, in the Bay Area. It will be in a property owned by Stanford University, which used to house a Chevrolet dealer. Not only is the world getting a green car dealership, but it is losing a non-green one. The original idea was to launch a dealership in New York, Chicago, South Florida, Los Angeles and the Bay area - but tragically none in my home-town of London (not that I can afford one anyway, but I could window-shop).

Tesla announced a while ago that they would not be selling franchises for dealerships, but would own and run them all. They are almost like the Apple Computers of the car world; demanding control of every step of the process, from design to sales. Like Apple, this looks like it has resulted in an amazing product which I would happily give a (small) body part to own. The store should be open by the end of the year, which is just after the first production Tesla Roadster is finished in October.

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Monday, August 6, 2007

 
posted by Sarah Krasley @ 3:07 PM

Kate Sheppard of Grist.org published this interesting interview the other day. Sharing must be in the air....it's about time! Kate's column, Ask a Brokeass, is one of my personal favorites.

Ask a Brokeass: Trade wins

Posted by Kate Sheppard at 9:24 AM on 03 Aug 2007

Long ago, I promised an interview component to Ask a Brokeass. I've talked to some badass brokeasses since then, but I haven't gotten around to transcribing all of those interviews. The intern needs an intern.

Then last week I received an email from Mark Hexamer, co-founder of the innovative new media trading site Swaptree.com, who saw my posts on the greening of Harry Potter and the virtues of sharing and wanted to talk up his project. What's greener than an eco-edition of Harry Potter? Well, the edition of Harry Potter that never had to be printed, argues Hexamer. Lucky for me us, he agreed to do an email interview on Swaptree, which allows users to post books, DVDs, CDs, and video games that they're done with and exchange them for the things they're looking for. Essentially, Hexamer's great idea helps you get tons of new-to-you things for free, without using more natural resources. Since I have no inside information about his personal finances, I can't straight-up call him a Brokeass, but I will give him the Brokeass Seal of Approval for coming up with a great idea that all of us can benefit from.

Without further ado, Mark Hexamer:

So, when/how did you start Swaptree?

Greg Boesel and I started Swaptree back in 2004. It took us two years from the genesis of the idea and initial prototype until we were ready to start having the system generate trades for "real" users.

What was the inspiration for the site?

The inspiration for the site was really a whole bunch of things, as opposed to one "a-ha" moment. For example, I don't think it was a coincidence that the idea came about at the same time where it seemed everyone had a copy of The DaVinci Code. Greg and I, when pitching the idea, would ask potential investors, "How many copies of The DaVinci Code are in a square block radius in NYC?" You could always see the light go on when we asked that question. At the same time you had community-driven sites like Craigslist and Freecycle really taking off, not to mention Netflix. Furthermore, we noticed that we frequently traded books with our friends, that our nephews played a new $55 video game for a week or so and then never again, and that our shelves were full of CDs and DVDs that we would never play again. All of these factor contributed to the genesis of the idea.

What kind of resources are behind this (staff, funding, etc.)?

Currently we have a staff of five people, in addition to some off-shore development in India. We have done two angel rounds and have raised around $2 million.

What is the benefit of having a program like this?

Well, the obvious benefit is that it allows you to recycle the books, textbooks, CDs, DVDs, and video games that you have, but are finished with, for the ones you want, for free. Our users only pay for shipping. So if you have a bestselling book you just finished, put it up on Swaptree and trade it for another bestseller. When you are done with that book, put it up for trade and get another. And on and on, for just the cost of shipping, which with media mail can cost just a couple of dollars. So there is a tremendous cost savings.

In addition, using Swaptree saves a significant amount of natural resources. How many copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows are going to be printed? 20 million? 50 million? Do we really need to print 20 million copies of the latest Harry Potter? Can't we just share, say a million, and leave the trees in the forest? So there is both an economical and environmental benefit.

Do you have aspirations for Swaptree having some sort of wider effect on community or consumption habits?

We do. We started off with these items because people have lots of these items laying around collecting dust and are already comfortable trading these offline. Once our users get comfortable trading these items online, we will begin to introduce other categories, like baby gear and clothes, women's clothing, collectibles, etc.

Furthermore, we really want to foster the notion of sharing as much as trading. One benefit of being free is that we can really create a great sense of community on the site. Since we are free we can encourage our users to trade informally, without trying to figure out how Swaptree can collect a transaction fee. So if you log onto Swaptree and see that your neighbor or co-worker has a DVD you want to watch, we don't care if you simply call them up and ask them if you can borrow it. In the future maybe you will be able to log on to Swaptree and see that your neighbor has a ladder or lawn mower that you can borrow.

How have people reacted to the project so far?

The feedback so far has been fantastic. People are amazed that they can offer, say the book Freakonomics for trade, and we instantly show them the thousands of items they can receive in trade for it right now. So there definitely is this "wow" factor with the site. The other feedback we get a lot is that it's fun and easy. It's like the trading you did on the playground as a child -- I give you this, and you give me that.

This is important to us because when we designed the site, one of the guiding principles we had was to make the site so simple that our mothers could understand it and use it. When people tell us it's "easy and fun," we know we passed that test. Lastly, people tell us all the time that they are amazed this idea hasn't been done before. We like hearing that because it's a sure sign that you have good idea that's well implemented.

Have you used Swaptree yet? What did you trade, and what did you get in return?

I use Swaptree every day. My most recent trade I shipped out the Amy Winehouse CD, "Back to Black," and received a brand new Peter Pan DVD for my daughter.

What's one book or film you don't think you'll ever be able to swap?

You will be shocked by what some people want. A co-worker actually got rid of a Milli Vanilli CD. Bad enough he owned it, but shocking that someone wanted it.

Concerned about the environment but don't have the economic means to buy your way to carbon neutrality? Need some ideas on how to be savvy about the earth and your dollar? Direct your questions, comments, and ideas to ksheppard@grist.org. And remember, as the old saying goes, it's better to be broke than to further the break-up of the Arctic ice shelf.

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posted by Sarah Krasley @ 12:10 AM
I just moved. Whoa. Glad it's over...that's all I'll say about that.

Post move, my stuff is all where it should be, but I'm left with a ridiculous amount of perfectly usable moving boxes. Enter Freecycle--it's a free service that teams users up with those that have and those that need. It's similar to the Craigslist.org free section, and it's a great way to get rid of stuff you don't want without contributing to landfills and making someone else very happy. There are Freecycle networks in most major cities. Check it out!

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Sunday, August 5, 2007

 
posted by Sarah Krasley @ 11:57 PM
National Geographic is now broadening its music initiative considerably, and pushing into recording, publishing, television, touring, and digital arenas. The fresh division, dubbed National Geographic Music and Radio, is launching with the support of distribution partners like Clear Channel, Salem Communications and NPR. "National Geographic Music and Radio will engage listeners with great talk and sound, and also offer artists and experts who care about global culture and the environment an outlet to create awareness for important issues," said Tim Kelly, president and chief executive of National Geographic Ventures.

The undertaking follows a move by National Geographic into digital music last summer, one that rallied a number of world music content distributors. That offering, available at worldmusic.nationalgeographic.com, is now part of a far broader push. According to the team, Music and Radio will encompass music supervision for films and the National Geographic channel, as well as a suite of internet radio stations. It also involves live concerts, a record label, and the management of roughly 12,000 publishing assets.

The company also stressed that the initiative would help to address societal and environmental issues, and pointed to the support of concerned artists like Jack Johnson, Ben Harper and Peter Gabriel. "Through our various units, we will be able to create an emotional connection for our listeners with the planet," said David Beal, head of publishing, label and radio aspects.

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posted by Sarah Krasley @ 11:25 PM
Incubus joins the ranks of the real rock stars out there who are rocking the green tour. They partnered up with Music Matters for their latest concert series, the 2007 North American Light Grenades Tour. Among the green highlights of their tour: Incubus is riding in a biodiesel-powered bus from stop to stop on their tour and are offsetting the emissions associated with their touring with carbon offsets. The band is encouraging ramped up recycling measures at the venues where they play, and most impressive to me are the groupies they are bringing along with them….just kidding...sort of...their company on the road are representatives from Surfrider, Heal The Bay, Environmental Defense, Rock The Earth, Sierra Club, Ocean Conservancy and PIRGS to tell you how to green your life and support important environmental projects. Not to be missed is the sustainable merch stand complete with organic cotton, pesticide-free tee shirts and carbon offset stickers from Native Energy.

Check JamBase for the tour dates.

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