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We don’t really think about how that twenty five dollar flip flop might hurt the environment. Just to think about it most main brand shoes ranging from Jordan’s to Clark’s use mainly rubber to create their shoes. To make these shoes that we have come to know and love releases bad chemicals into the air and throwing them away is not the most eco-friendly either. The only shoes easily found without rubber is the wooden clogs that would send your social and fashion identity plummeting.
So what can you do if everywhere you can buy shoes only provides only shoes that are bad for the environment. You can make sure that you sell the shoes to a thrift store or give them away as a donation once your finished, or you can pay double for shoes using recycled rubber. Those are options but there is one more. Online eco-shoes have been popping up all over the place. They make anything from running shoes to sandals. For what has to be in rubber they only use natural crepe rubber. Which is rubber that comes from tree harvested like maple syrup. They even make shoes directly for those of us who are vegan.
I suggest Simpleshoes not only do they style and sizes ranging from kid’s to the largest feet but also have a list of all their materials and how they are used in their shoes. Compared to most name brand shoe stores they are relatively inexpensive, not including payless, walmart, and target. Who knew that shoe could help make this world a better place.
The extreme sports of skateboarding and BMX have now branched out into running as well. Running is no longer for men in short shorts and spiked shoes. Free running has been born. Basically, free running is getting from point A to point B in the fastest, most flamboyant way possible. Free runners, participants of this new found sport, try to outdo their opponents by performing better or more daring tricks. They do everything from flipping from landing to landing, jumping from building to building, all to perform acrobatics that amaze and astound all who are watching. Unlike other extreme sports, which need bikes or boards and protective padding and helmets, all you need for free running are some tennis shoes and a dare devil personality. You can find free runners anywhere from malls to parks. They have recently shown up in movies, such as Paul Blart: Mall Cop, and video games, such as Core Design.
There are two types of free running a style called Parkour, the art of training your body to overcome obstacles with movement, and free running. There is only one distinct difference between the two. Free running is more of an art form using series of moves spun together at the artist’s will, while Parkour is a martial art and is more uniform. Parkour came first and has been developing as a subculture for a while now. Free running, getting its name from the movie Jump London, is much more recent but is growing fast.
Both have spawned there large communities around them, American Parkour, and have gained the reputation of supporting our national parks and are getting kids up and moving around again. So this poses the question ‘Why drive when you can run with style?’
Many consumers complain that ethanol, which constitutes as much as 10 percent of the fuel they buy in most states, hurts gas mileage and chokes the engines of their boats and motorcycles.
In Oklahoma, some vendors are refusing to sell ethanol-spiked gasoline. And they’re winning customers with signs like "No Corn in Our Gas" and "Why Do You Put Alcohol in Your Tank?" the Times claims. In Oregon, new rules requiring the state’s fuel supply be E10 — a mix of 90 percent gasoline and 10 percent ethanol — are being associated with sputtering boat engines and failing weed whackers.
Meanwhile, taxpayers are shelling out billions for the troubles they perceive at the pump. Consider that in one of many, many government handouts to ethanol makers, tax payers surrender 51 cents in revenue for every gallon of ethanol that gets mixed into the fuel supply. This year, government mandates dictate that we mix in 9 billion gallons, a level that will climb to 15 billion gallons by 2015.
It’s U.S. business and politics as usual. The efficiency of the country’s corn-based ethanol production, in terms of energy put in and energy yielded, is laughable. Yet it’s politically popular as it continues to support agribusiness and, indirectly, the oil industry. As wealth is further redistributed to the rich few we pay not just in money but with our soil, climate, planet, and health.
Photo via flickr by sroemerm
Robert Novak, long time conservative commentator and general hater of non-motorized transport hit a pedestrian today…and then tried to run away.
A few years back Novak was cited for cursing at a jaywalker, but today, apparently not seeing the 66 year-old man crossing the street, he actually hit a pedestrian and then sped away. Commuter cyclist / laywer / super hero David Bono decided he wasn’t going to just watch a hit-and-run happen, so he sped up to Novak’s car and stopped in front of him.
Traffic backed up in downtown D.C., but Bono refused to leave until Novak had pulled over and was being questioned by police. Novak said that didn’t notice that he’d hit anyone, and Bono simply "let him know."
But according to Bono, the 66 year-old pedestrian was "sprawled" accross the front of Novak’s Corvette after the incedent and Novak repeatedly tried to escape after Bono had stopped him.
I mean…really, is it any wonder that we can’t get rid of our cars while thousands of pedestrians an cyclists a year are killed because they aren’t encased in steel?
Via TreeHugger and Politico
“This is a story of selfishness and greed,” she writes, “of self-centeredness, envy and the ignorant folly of a person too short-sighted to realize she should count herself lucky because her college education didn’t have to be paid for with the milk of a goat.”
Warner’s proposed title for this woeful tale: “I Can No Longer Afford to Drive My Car.”
What ensues is a lengthy apology from Warner, accompanied by a self-deprecating list of excuses that explain why the writer and her family purchased the Land Rover in the first place. The catalyst for their folly, she claims, wasn’t necessity, but a game of “keeping up with the Joneses.”
“Why on earth did we buy a car like this?” asks Warner. Why, for that matter, did anyone? Surely, she’s not the only driver full of remorse.
In fact, until late 2004, a lot of people went out of their way to buy precisely these monsters [S.U.V.s] because -– if you can believe it -– the government actually offered a tax break for buying a car that weighed over 6,000 pounds if you were self-employed and needed it to transport heavy work machinery. Like farm equipment. Or a laptop. [My emphasis.]
Warner’s previous car was a 1997 Ford Explorer (“wide-bodied seats! cup holders everywhere!”). “If the Explorer was a car for getting fat in, slurping Big Gulps as your butt expanded to fill the velvety seats,” she writes, “the Land Rover was a car for beating back middle age.” Now, however, Warner’s worried she’ll waste her retirement money on fuel.
“Oh, how are the mighty fallen now,” she laments. Warner reports that the good old days are gone for her Land Rover, which sits parked in the garage or at the metro station. She’s considering making it useful by turning the retired S.U.V. into a guest house. With damage already done, however, Warner’s apology may be too late.
Photo via flickr by Andy Davy
"Bicycles would still have to yield if there was a car at a stop sign. They would still have to stop for that car and let them go through," Rachel Kraai of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition told CBS News. "At a stop light they would still have to stop and look both ways, but then they could go through."
Umm, correct me if I’m mistaken, but isn’t that the same as the current law, if they still have to stop?
Certainly, I’m in support of a law that empowers cyclists, but, c’mon—can’t they come up with something better? Like a law that might actually raise awareness of cyclists or protect them on the mean streets of SF? A law that would truly make it easier and more enjoyable for people to ride their bikes?
Most bicyclists already take liberties with stop signs—and rightly so. Technically, they’re pedestrians. In cities like
Resident David Lee shares my concerns. "It’s what they’re doing already," he told CBS. "I never see, rarely see, a bicyclist stop at a stop sign completely or a red light. So I’d rather have a law that’s more practical, one that might actually be enforced. So I would tend to be for it."
If anyone looks like a fool, however, it’s SF’s CBS news. To sensationalize this simple story, the local reporter followed a cyclist through town, then accosted him when he arrived at his destination. The reported shouted accusatory words at the innocent cyclist from the window of his S.U.V., brandished a hot mic in his face, and demanded to know why he hadn’t stopped at several stop signs on his route. The cyclist deflected the harsh attack like a gentleman, though the reporter continued to shout as though he were confronting a child molester on the Montel Williams show. The newscast provided no better proof that cyclists need real support, not some flimsy caveat.
Photo via flickr by BikePortland.org
I came across the above photo on Carfree Portland’s website while checking up on their Towards Carfree Cities conference – which is taking place right now. The numbers made me do a double take, but these prices are for real as of June 6th. Expect the rest of the nation’s pump prices to follow soon!
It’s not what you think: this man isn’t cycling the streets of Amsterdam, nor is he on his way to a business brunch in Copenhagen.
Flanked almost entirely by yellow cabs, this commuter could only be in New York City. He was spotted at the corner of 5th Avenue and 58th Street by Bicycles Only, home to a series of great NYC commuter shots, including these:
On West End Avenue:
At 23rd and Madison:
At 5th Ave. and 58th St.:
These shots offer a glimmer of hope that major American cities are getting aboard their bikes, gaining speed, and may some day keep apace with more progressive, pro-cycling European cities that have so wisely shunned the automobile in favor of a smarter, sleeker ride.
Photos via flickr by Bicycles Only.
Copenhagenzine created a fabulous video about the Vélib experience in Paris:
I came across this film just after writing an article about helmet use – so it’s hard not to notice that brain buckets are nowhere to be seen.
Photo via flickr by batigolix.
There’s always been a bit of a stigma associated with bus travel. Some of it smacks of classism and the view of buses being dirty, sub-par, and for the poor. Debates rage over the efficacy of train/light rail travel vs. buses. Buses need much less infrastructure to support their routes but, because they must contend with traffic-choked surface streets, they’re less speedy point-to-point.
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), dubbed the “surface subway,” may just be the perfect medium. Designed properly, BRT features separated, exclusive lanes with little to no stopping for intersections.
Bogotá, Colombia boasts what StreetFilms describes as the most advanced BRT system in the world. Former mayor Enrique Peñalosa came into office just as the city planned to construct an elaborate, very expensive elevated highway system. Penalosa nixed that shortsighted plan and instead took a portion of that budget and constructed the city’s BRT and Ciclovia cycling infrastructure projects to become a shining example of sustainable, efficient transit.
According to Edgar Sandoval, former General Manager of Transmilenio, Bogotá’s BRT system, cost 10 times less than a traditional mass transit system. The Transmilenio takes one lane in either direction on Bogotá’s highways. The stations are in the middle of the highways, accessed by buses traveling in both directions. Typical trip times have been cut in half with a ridership of 1.3 million people per day.
Check out this great video from StreetFilms about the Transmilenio:
Photos via flickr by Lilicharo & SalsaNaMa.Net
“Liftshare” programs have been successful in diminishing car travel to the Festival by as many as 15,000 car journeys a year. This helps to prevent traffic jams, takes pressure off of local roads (and residents), and significantly reduces emissions created by this uber-green fest. The Festival links to Liftshare an online site that links drivers and riders. Organizers are also concerned about pedestrian safety, as traffic at previous celebrations has caused harm to music-loving hippies who were happily ambling on the grounds.
The Festival is supporting a handful of other great, green initiatives in collaboration with green goliaths Oxfam and Greenpeace.
Photos courtesy of the Glastonbury Festival.
The "Earth Day Celebration" at Wilshire Center will include live music, a bike raffle, tours of the Metro Rapid Bus, and a screening of Al Gore’s "An Inconvenient Truth."
From Metro Rider LA:
"The WCBIC really seems committed to the eco-goals that led them to this event, with a whole section of their website dedicated to addressing ecological sustainability. They have a vision of Wilshire Center as a transit oriented urban village, where people can live work and play in a densely populated area without the need for a car. I hope more neighborhoods in Los Angeles follow Wilshire Center’s example and close of their streets on Earth Day… and if the message gets out, permanently."
The car-free hours (of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), however, are somewhat disappointing, as they don’t encourage car commuters to find another means of transport (i.e. explore public transportation or a pedestrian commute).
Photos via flickr by motleye and lakerae.
So intertwined are all of the elements that make a community sustainable that it’s hard to know where to begin and what to prioritize. Minimizing car usage clearly ranks high on the to-do list, but this requires less sprawl and denser housing, pedestrian- and bike- friendly designs, good mass transit, and the availability of local industry and resources.
Although Bingham’s designs aren’t exactly fully fleshed-out with all of the minute details filled in, they provide a great foundational blue plan for a community to exist with a minimum footprint. The eco-town consists of 12 districts positioned around a central, downtown district. Each outlying district is a self-supporting village with medium-density housing mixed with shops and businesses. Everything from schools to shopping is within an easy walk; 24-hour public transportation, courtesy of electric-powered trolley-buses, handles the rest. Car use is reserved primarily for travel outside of town when interconnecting trains won’t do, or for the occasional need to lug a bunch of stuff – the perfect model for a good car-sharing program.
The downtown district is built a bit denser, with mixed-use 5-story buildings the norm rather than the 2 to 3-story buildings in the surrounding areas. Thanks to the more centralized layout of housing and businesses, there’s plenty of room for green space ti be liberally interspersed in both settings.
One key point that Bingham’s design nails about what can make cities the greenest choice: by concentrating populations into smaller areas, the surrounding countryside can be left relatively pristine. Less pavement is need to connect McMansions to Wal-Mart and transportation modes like walking, cycling, and mass transit become the obvious choices. Air quality, exercise levels, and the population’s health all improve – as do the conditions for surrounding natural habitats.
Integrated green spaces, small farms in the surrounding countryside, and rooftop gardens help to provide the community’s food and reduce the “food miles” and pollution associated with shipping perishables across the country.
Chris Bingham’s Theory behind it all:
It is often said that we love our cars. This may be true for many people. But some of us would prefer not to drive. Yes, really.
Why? The huge amounts of money our cars cost us, having to battle our way through rush-hour traffic, hunting for parking spaces, dangerous drivers … the list goes on.
Unfortunately, the modern world has been so designed around the car that it is almost impossible to live without one. And so we carry on driving.
This is plainly ridiculous. Cars aren’t exactly good for the environment, with even zero-emission vehicles being enormously wasteful of energy. And while someone driving everywhere because they choose to is one thing, forcing the rest of us to do likewise when we really don’t want to is stupidity in the extreme.
But, says the government, we’re locating new development to be accessible by walking, cycling and public transport as well as by car.
It’s not much of a choice though, is it? Yes we can walk, but we’re still breathing in everyone else’s car fumes. We’ve still got to wait for the little green man just to cross the street. And our overcrowded buses still get stuck behind all those single occupancy cars.
If we’re going to give up our cars we want all the benefits that can bring: clean air, networks of pedestrian streets and excellent public transportation.
Pie-in-the-sky Utopian vision? Perhaps. But there are elements of Bingham’s vision that offer practical alternatives and a wake-up call as to what’s possible rather than continuing to build towards our own demise.
See also: Birmingham’s Big City Plan
Model Green City: Treasure Island Starts from Scratch
The Persian Gulf Gets Slick with Car-Free, Green City
But, long before high gas prices and the so-called fuel crisis, cars have been the culprit behind many a crime. To compound their gross violations against the planet (too myriad to name), here are just a few choice infractions in which cars serve as an enabling accomplice.
Crimes against Humanity
You may want to think twice before flipping off that Hummer. As if Hummers weren’t dangerous enough, the automaker now encourages drivers to carry arms. New H2 Safaris come complete with gun racks.
Crimes of the Heart
Honey, get the hell out of the way. This summer, when Jesenia Vega clambered into her car sloppily drunk in Long Island, New York, her heroic honey, Louis Wiederer, tried to stop her. So, instead of slamming on the brakes, she ran him over. Looks like the wedding’s off.
Crimes against Class
NASCAR. Need I say more? If so, a recent robbery at a bank by a NASCAR fan covered in a disguise of drywall mud should do the trick. The man was easily apprehended because of the NASCAR plate on his getaway car.
Crimes against Nature
Fast food plus drive-thrus? Nature never intended waistlines like these. If you can’t see your toes, maybe it’s time to forego service with a smile—and start walking.
Crimes against Cats and Dogs
Does this dog look happy to you?
Crimes against Peace (and Quiet)
If I hear my neighbor ghetto-blast Phil Collins from her Ford Ranger pickup one more morning at six o’clock sharp, I’m calling the cops. Same goes for the macho guys (and girls) with a complex who install huge, barking engines on their beat-up Chrysler low-riders and rev them like they’re at monster truck rallies. Here’s a newsflash for the Napoleons: a pair of dice dangling from the rearview, coupled with leopard-print seat covers and shiny rims, does not send the message that you have huge balls and a bone-crushing musculature. In Edinburgh, loud music blasting from a teenager’s car actually killed a man (who was a cousin to actor Sean Connery).
Crimes against Stroller Moms
When a car almost mowed down a Park Slope mom and her baby stroller on a busy street in Brooklyn, the woman decided to do more than flip off the driver. She pulled a can of beans from the pouch of her McClaren and hurled it at the car’s rear windshield, cracking it apart. The crowd cheered and fellow peds had her back when the driver pulled over to start a fight.
Crimes against Elizabeth Hurley
Why, in 1995, didn’t Hugh Grant just get a room?
Recent news, however, is heartening. In Canada, the courts are on our side.
Photo via flickr by orionoir & Benimoto
Support for the congestion pricing bill was so weak in the democrat-controlled Assembly that a formal vote was deemed unnecessary. State Assembly minority leader, James N. Tedisco, said that all 42 Republican votes would have gone towards approving the bill.
“It takes true leadership and courage to embrace new concepts and ideas and to be willing to try something,” mayor Bloomberg said. “Unfortunately, both are lacking in the Assembly today. If that wasn’t shameful enough, it takes a special type of cowardice for elected officials to refuse to stand up and vote their conscience.”
Opponents of the bill viewed it as elitist – only those who could afford the $8 charge would be able to drive into Manhattan, and there were no assurances against future rate hikes on the mass transit systems. However, by adopting congestion pricing, New York City would have been eligible for $354 million in federal grants toward improving traffic flow and the mass transit systems.
In the wake of the bill’s demise, US Transportation Secretary Mary Peters has already proclaimed that the federal funds would be used to help other cities battle traffic.
Many of the organizations that backed the congestion pricing plan are not ready to admit defeat. They recognize that New York needs to make steps towards sustainability and away from the automobile if the city, and its citizens, are going to survive.
“The fundamental facts remain the same: New York City faces a transit, traffic and air pollution crisis that will only grow more severe with the addition of another one million people,” said Michael O’Loughlin, director of the Campaign for New York’s Future. “That is why 2:1 New Yorkers wanted congestion pricing for better transit.”
Said mayor Bloomberg, in a statement to the press:
Today is a sad day for New Yorkers and a sad day for New York City. Not only won’t we see the realization of a plan that would have cut traffic, spurred our economy, reduced pollution and improved public health, we will also lose out on nearly $500 million annually for mass transit improvements and $354 million in immediate federal funds.
The idea for congestion pricing didn’t start in our Administration and it won’t end today. The $354 million we would have received from Washington tomorrow will go to another city in another state. But the problems congestion pricing could have helped solve are only going to get worse. And too many people from more than 170 environmental, labor, public health and business organizations recognize the merits of congestion pricing and hopefully someday, we will have more leaders in the Legislature who recognize it too.
See also: Green is the New Black for New York Limos
Via the New York Times.
Photo via flickr by fabrisalvetti.
Cargill announces it’s scrapping plans for a $200 million ethanol plant near Topeka, Kan. A judge approves the bankruptcy sale of an unfinished ethanol plant in Canton, Ill.. And that was just Tuesday. Indeed, plans for as many as 50 new ethanol plants have been shelved in recent months, as Wall Street pulls back from the sector.
Why, when ethanol was looking so profitable, is it suddenly a bust? Because corn prices have shot higher than a silo.
Spurred by an ethanol plant construction binge, corn prices have gone stratospheric, soaring from below $2 a bushel in 2006 to over $5.25 a bushel today. As a result, it’s become difficult for ethanol plants to make a healthy profit, even with oil at $100 a barrel.
The one corporation that looks to be surviving this price jump is Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), who many credit with creating the ethanol craze. Fortune implies that the 2007 Energy Act protects ADM, while smaller companies struggle.
[T]he industry’s new, lower profit margins clearly favor ethanol leader Archer Daniels Midland (ADM, Fortune 500) over all the smaller producers like Verasun, privately-held Poet Energy and the many, many farmer-owned ethanol cooperatives. ADM’s massive 200 million-gallon-a-year ethanol plants simply have better economies of scale than their 50-million-gallon-a-year rivals. And the fact some of ADM’s big plants run on coal instead of natural gas makes ADM’s cost advantage that much greater.
Photo via flickr by Craig Stephen & peterbaker.
As Climate Progress blogger Earl Killian told Grist, “Vehicles are assigned a score of 1 to 10 based upon their emissions, with 1 for the worst and 10 for the lowest greenhouse-gas emissions.’
According to Killian, California’s Low Emissions laws have led approximately 13 other states to tighten their own regulations, and at least eleven of those states, including Connecticut, New York, and Oregon, plan to implement the global warming labels, as well.
California has long been a pioneer in the crackdown on emissions from cars. I’m glad to see that CARB is furthering their mission, but would like to see California continue to step up and implement smart mass transit in its most congested regions (i.e. SoCal). Would more Californians get off of the freeway (a better option, altogether, than driving a low-emissions car) if efficient public transit were in place? Or are drivers too accustomed to convertibles and limos to make the switch?
Photo via flickr by acidwashtofu.
Zero Per Gallon lets you wear your bike pride on your sleeve or, more exactly, on your chest with t-shirts, or any place you darned well choose with stickers and patches. I’m also really impressed by their simple yet very cool repurposing of used-up bicycle tires as hipster belts.
A message from Zero Per Gallon’s Jonny5:
In a moment of inspired caffeine-induced glory, in October of 2005, J5 founded Zero Per Gallon, and was then elected unanimously by himself to the head honchoship of ZPG as the organization’s sole representative to the world’s entire human population. As the big kahuna at ZPG, Jonny5 serves on five influential committees, four very-important task-forces, three prestigious executive councils, two top-secret board groups, and one all-encompassing kickass trade association. Since taking the helm as chief executive big banana of ZPG, Jonny5 has been a strong voice for ZPG in Washington. In fact, he’s been lobbying the shit out of elected representatives, working tirelessly to promote the ZPG agenda:
- Advocating and embracing policies to make ZPG a competitive leader in America
- Promoting faith-based ZPG education forums around the world
- Protecting Americans from corrosive, sinful, moral-fabric-destroying un-ZPG-ish ideas
- Strengthening and supporting the leg muscles necessary to make bikes move
- Removing baseless, unproven goat-promoting “science” from public school curricula
Jonny5 has consistently stood strong with the brave men and women who ride hard and believe in ZPG, and will continue to do so until he’s hobbling around on crutches, shitting in a diaper, slurping dinner out of a straw in Boca Raton, mumbling about the good old days when bikes were made of lugged steel and not some fancy-shamncy space age carbon fiber shit.
“Creating a road just ruins it,” biostatistician Bill Pan told NPR’s Joanne Silberman in a recent story about the Amazon Rain forest. Scientists trekked through the Amazon in Peru, researching how the creation of roads through the pristine forest not only promotes deforestation, but increases the rate of infectious disease, particularly malaria.
Nearly one-fifth of the Amazon rainforest has disappeared since 1970, its loss spurred by construction of roads through pristine areas. The loss of the trees is a big blow to the world’s carbon balance, and a real force in climate change. And, according to three researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, road construction in places like the Amazon might also be a blow to human health.
The proof that the creation of roads increases disease and further deforestation is irrefutable.
A recently published survey of the Peruvian Amazon by Paulo Oliveira of the Carnegie Institution of Washington and several colleagues shows that 75 percent of the forest disruption that occurred between 1999 and 2005 occurred within 12 miles of a road. And deforestation promotes malaria — researchers Amy Vittor and Jonathan Patz surveyed a newly constructed road and reported in 2006 that the areas along the road that had suffered more deforestation also suffered more malaria.
Roads bring more people into the forest, and create culverts and ditches for still water to pool, Pan explained. At the end of the journey, Pan was pleased that existing roads weren’t as ample as he’d guessed. "I learned that the parts of the road that look on the satellite image as cleared are actually not as cleared as it appears," he said. "And there’s not as many communities as we had thought there might be."
Still, Pan worries that when he returns, there will be more roads (bringing people, cars, mosquitoes, and pollution) through untouched expanses of the Amazon. Further destruction seems inevitable, unless construction is stopped. If developers have already destroyed one fifth—one fifth!—of the Amazon in 30 years, we’ve got to wonder: soon, will there be any left?
The NPR program was one in a series called Climate Connections, sponsored by NPR and National Geographic. The series examines “how we are shaping the climate, [and] how the climate is shaping us.”
Photo via flickr by zerega.