Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco’

New MiEV in San Francisco Driveway

Monday, March 14th, 2011
New MiEV in driveway in SF

New MiEV in driveway in SF

It’s becoming a regular occurrence. One of us comes down early in the morning and we spy a new electric vehicle in the driveway of Plug In America and solar guru Marc Gellar. This time, we got to check out the new MiEV from Mitsubishi. This international version (slightly smaller than the US version) looks to be the perfect size for San Francisco or any city commute.

The MiEV looks somewhat larger than the Smart car but seems to be a better size in terms of size and comfort. It contains four seats, and even if four tall people can’t squeeze in, it sure can fit a few bags of groceries. Marc mentioned that it offers a surprising amount of giddyap, and also told us that it can go about 80 miles between charges which is enough to visit to the East Bay and back.

Of course, price gets everyones’ attention and the MiEV. We heard that  Mitsubishi dealer in San Rafael will have these electric puppies available in November and should come in less than $20K mark with the federal credits.

The one thing that that gets us is on the back of the car it states “40 years of EV development”. So, what have they been doing for the last 39 years? Waiting for gas that’s $5 a gallon.

Opening Night San Francisco Green Film Festival – Bag It

Friday, March 4th, 2011

bag itIn the hopefully not so distant future when “paper or plastic” will be answered with “neither”, the documentary “Bag It” takes an in depth view of ubiquitous plastic bags. Actually the film graduates (with the scene from “The Graduate” about plastics) from an initial look at disposable plastic bag culture that the world lives in and moves into how plastic continues to envelop our lives, health and economy.

This relatively simple film rides on the back of director Suzan Beraza and front man Jeb Berrier. The film uses a variety of interviews, archive clips and even some animation to drive home the point that plastic bags and pretty much all plastic containers continue to take a toll on the environment, marine life and human health. Thanks to Berrier, the film floats along swimmingly as he represents an “everyman” from small town Colorado who isn’t a tree hugger but realizes that plastic has taken over his life and not for the better. Berrier comes off as a George Costanza (from Seinfeld) character with a wry sense of humor who learns how plastic strangles not only his life but also the world we live in.

In the latter half of the film, Bag It moves beyond plastic bags and looks at the pervasiveness of plastic and the toxic aspects without becoming too preachy. Director Beraza and Berrier even make fun of the American Chemical Council members for ducking all requests to appear in the film.

Bag It does a solid job of alerting viewers to chemical dangers of plastic ingredients like BPA and phthalates and offers solid interviews and explanations.

Bag It could have could have been double bagged with more of an emotional punch that would have raised this docu pic to a higher level. It also could have wrapped up with more of a group “call to action” so people can feel empowered against the chemical and plastic companies.

Bag It certainly does its best to educate and entertain audience members. With funny front man Berrier leading the charge, perhaps Bag It will do for plastic bags what Morgan Sperlock did for McDonald’s fast food.

Solar Powered Laundromat

Monday, February 21st, 2011

solar laundromatWe’ve passed this tucked away laundromat in Duboce Triangle a few times and we’ve seen the soar panels up top (not sure how big a system it is) but we finally decided to give this place a post. Doing laundry remains one of those necessities in life and the best way to do it (with a low carbon footprint) remains the old fashioned way by hand and then line dry. That’s real solar!

However in this modern age and big city life, using eco-star washers and dryers and powering the dryers with solar (the carbon footprint is much higher for drying than washing) can be considered a good option. We’ve even seen one laundromat in Bernal Heights who installed a tankless hot water heater which not only cut the wasted hot water but boy did the laundromat owner’s energy bill drop.

Inside we spied four new eco star commercial washers.  Although the other washers and dryers were the standard (non eco-star) machines, we and most people would say use the machines that exists until they can’t be repaired. We don’t need more washers and dryers filling up the landfills. Either way, it would be a good idea if all laundromat owners took the initiative to make their business more sustainable (and more profitable to boot).

Nisson Leaf Electric Car Sits In Driveway

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011
New Nisson Leaf

New Nisson Leaf

Stay calm. It’s not every day that we get the photo op of a new 100% electric Leaf in someone’s actual driveway. Yes, one of our neighbors who happen to be a knowledgeable electric car guy for Plug In America always seems to use his driveway for a showcase of the newest electric cars.

A few weeks ago he had a Volt sitting there. From time to time he’ll have electric bikes and motorcycles offering tourists and locals in the Lower Haight something sustainable to gawk at.

It’s great to see electric cars on the streets and driveways and out of the showrooms. Hopefully, we’ll see more charging stations out in the cities because without more charging stations people won’t cross over from their gas guzzler. We’re just hoping that some time soon we’ll see charging stations replace gas stations (e.g. A Better Place) and also that he’ll give us ride in his new wheels.

6th Gorgeous & Green Gala: Green Meets Mad Men

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

model 6th green and grougeousEven before Gorgeous & Green co-chairs Nadine Weil and Zem Joaquin gave a shout out to the Green crowd to “enjoy yourselves and drink more organic cocktails” which many of green minions so obliged, we had a chance to leisurely sip some organic wine and meet interesting people behind the scenes.

Sure the front scenes of the hemp strolling, sauntering, strutting (how do eco models walk?) down the cat walk at the W Hotel in San Francisco for the 6th  Gorgeous & Green gala draw the most attention and why shouldn’t it? But behind the scenes, we met many people involved with Green causes who looked a whole lot less glamorous but still looked sexy green for what they believed in. Throughout the night, we encountered a Rode “Model” for the Environment, an EcoJew, and a Green Urbanism Program Director for Green Global among others.

At a energetic event like this, it is easy to lost in all of the models and cocktails but most of the people in the background, whether it is the volunteers or the VIPs have a passion for making the world a wee bit more Green and educating the masses about the right thing to do.

The night had this Mad Men theme with many women wearing second hard 60’s style dresses (reuse) and guys wearing skinny Don Draper style ties (reuse again) but the main message that we took away had to do more with Green urbanism rather than Madison Avenue chauvinism.

Rolling To The 6th Annual Gorgeous & Green Gala

Monday, December 13th, 2010

model-shotBetter than most holidays parties would be the Gorgeous & Green gala tonight at the W in San Francisco. Sure anyone can throw a holiday party but do they do it with a Green philosophy and fund-raising at the forefront? Holiday parties generally aim for drinking and merriment but do they also aim for zero waste? How many holiday events have models prancing around in eco-friendly fashion?

So, maybe tonight we too can be gorgeous but even we have our fashion limits. Even though the eco friendly fashion takes center stage (or rather center catwalk) much of the festivities revolve around like-minded people gathering for festivities.

The event generally brings a generous mixture of green-minded designers, celebrities, artists, politicians and the like. We hear that William McDonough will be in attendance, which would be entertaining and enlightening just to talk with him for a few minutes.

Even when not doing the green mingling thing or admiring chic models, we plan to distract ourselves with the 360 Vodka eco-cocktails (it is party right?), cocktail wines by eco.love, Korbel California Champagne with organic grapes (see a pattern here?) as well as organic wall displays and DJ Donavan beats.

Green fashionistas were not but we still have to get ready to roll.

Solar Compactors Hit City Parks

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

solar waste can

Even from our home perch here in San Francisco, we have to sometimes reach out for props to our So Cal brethren. In this case, some of us carpooled down to LA for the Thanksgiving weekend and even managed to avoid any real traffic jams.

Even more amazing, a couple of us spotted this solar compactor in Mar Vista park. This Big Belly in Mar Vista park represents only one of a growing trend where cities use these Solar-powered trash compactors to cut costs and emissions in 53 city parks. The solar compactors wirelessly monitor when they need to be emptied. They’re high-efficiency and low-maintenance which fits in with the mantra of so many cities (like LA).

We’re only surprised not to have spied these solar compactors in San Francisco. LA jumping ahead of San Francisco in the sustainability race? Hardly, but maybe LA will surprise the nation with a 405 full of fully electric cars soon.

Green Festival 2010 – San Francisco

Monday, November 8th, 2010

healthy home furnitureAlthough many great speakers informed, educated and inspired the well attended Green Festival in SF, a couple of us circulated among the vendor booths to check out the newest and greatest and not so greatest products.

Although not having a full opportunity to do our due diligence we did pepper some of the vendors with various questions about their products.

The Solar Lite caught our attention with the their hanging displays of flashlights (and the solar lantern). The light puts out a nifty 40 lumens which would come in handy for camping trips and the fact that it can hold a charge for three years makes it earthquake preparedness friendly. It would be great if the flashlight itself were made of something greener than plastic but the fact that it saves people from chucking batteries into the landfill makes it shine.

We only mention Bright Earth foods because the owner (more like a an alchemist) acted to passionately about his sustainability produced Noni and other superfoods that we have to give out props. After doing the Noni shot we did feel happier knowing that all Noni drinks are not created equal.

At the far end of the exhibits, we ran into (almost literally) the Green Bike Effect bikes. These folding and electric bikes recently came on the market from Alameda. One of us jumped on the bike which offered a quick giddyap and can reach speeds of near 20 mph. Unlike mopeds, these don’t cause CO2 emissions and cause less noise pollution as well. Although we would prefer if the bike itself weren’t made in China or if some of the bike components or even the saddle came from repurposed material, it still may encourage people to do the electric commute.

We definitely aren’t interior designers but we couldn’t help but stop and sit in the Exotic Green Furniture, which we talked with owner James Michaels. To be sure, he gets excited about his formaldehyde free furniture and the fact that much of the furniture utilizes other materials so it fits in with some of the cradle-to-cradle mentality. Some of his tables come from dormant coconut trees, which is a story in itself, and we will hit on that topic in a future post.

On Coal River Screens At SF Docfest 2010

Monday, October 11th, 2010

coal riverOne of the great aspects of the upcoming 9th San Francisco Documentary  Festival is not only the number of environmental based docu films but the fact that the eclectic selection comes from other regions that might not be on the general green radar. On Coal River would be one of those deeply environmental films that register emotionally strong notes by way of West Virginia.

A few of us viewed On Coal River which that takes place in the bucolic mountain area of Coal River Valley which immediately brings us into a David and Goliath struggle with the town residents confronting the notorious Massey Energy (the same Massey Energy that had the coal mining disaster on April 5, 2010).

Directors Francine Cavanaugh and Adams Wood take a back roads approach for the footage and back-story. The films smartly keys on some of the more active residents and colorful residents who have either been coal miners or know coal miners. The film makers go out of there way to show how coal mining (or rather mountaintop removal) continues to be a vital aspect to the economy (although they point out that the percentage of miners sits significantly lower that in past years) but many people believe that this business has also become a toxic and environmental liability for local residents.

The film focuses on several local community members who like to call themselves hillbillies but also educated hillbillies. In the forefront stands former miner Ed Wiley an activist/environmentalist who fights the good fight to get people to recognize that their local elementary school where their children attend should be recognized as an environmental hazard. The filmmakers capture the passionate and emotional Wiley spearheading protest efforts, leading educational meetings as well as him walking from West Virginia to Washington DC to raise awareness and get his point across.

On Coal River does a great service by not creating an overly polished film, and by sticking to capturing real emotion. The rough footage works well to demonstrate that people will fight for an environmental cause in states other than west coast states. It offers some insight into what the other people who support Massey (mostly people concerned with the local economic concerns if they fight Massey) but the film doesn’t get any official response from the energy giant. Did Massey officials decline to be interviewed for this film? Although the focus on the school offers a solid storyline and a hot topic, the film might have added some additional conclusion and information about the polluted water supply and toxic health conditions. What good is it to have a new school when the water supply and air remain poisoned for the whole town?

Despite some loose threads, it is great to see an emotionally charged environmental film where David wears a hillbilly hat.

ON COAL RIVER
Francine Cavanaugh, 81 min, USA
Fri 10/22 9:30p; Mon 10/25 7:15p

William McDonough at West Coast Green 10 – Deep Dive Part 2

Monday, October 4th, 2010

mcdonough wcg10Being so busy at West Coast Green 10 and in honor of ecoMonday we post part two of the William McDonough “deep dive”, and he does get deep. While most people throw around the term “carbon footprint” or simply use it in passing, McDonough talked about a skyscraper that he worked on 21 years ago, and calculated the amount of trees that would be need to be planted not only to offset the building of the skyscraper but to operate it as well. He convinced the person financing the building that the cost of the trees could be used in place of the marketing budget. Who needs a marketing budget when the story of the tree planting ends up as a front-page story on the Wall Street Journal? Green does pay.

Speaking of trees, we fully agree that people need to start thinking about the “rights of nature” and not just human right. We need think more in terms of abundance, not scarcity.

He mentioned things like the Endangered Species Act, which seems to be thinking in the wrong direction, with the reactive thinking. We need to start thinking proactively.

Our government and other governments and entities continually throw about numbers and plans to deal with our environmental impact. Think about the lofty goals for the UN, US government whatever about reducing carbon emissions by 20% (or whatever number) by 2020 that don’t illustrate “less bad” thinking. As McDonough states, “being less bad is not good”. And that is what our country continues to do or promote. We warn people in CA entering buildings (thanks to Prop 65) that the building contains various materials that cause cancer yet they remain legal and we continue to use them to construct buildings. Isn’t there something illogical about that thinking?

Seeing McDonough makes us (and the rest of the crowd) more motivated. We’re not here to be less bad, we’re here to be more good.”

Here’s a call to action to start being more good.