30 August 2008

growing to feed a community

In a city where few people have outdoor space to call their own, NYC community gardens become a gathering place, a sort of communal backyard and more. The gardens feed friendships and nourish bodies. In the Bronx, one particular garden yields collards and callaloo, an example of both urban agriculture and cultural integration (collards are traditional in Southern American cooking while callaloo is more common in West Indian and Latino cuisine). Members of this particular plot, the Tremont Community Garden, gather to garden, barbecue, and organize trips that fund the garden. They also sell any extra produce at a local farmer's market. [Source: New York Times]

[Image, Liz Christy Garden, © Donald Loggins 2007]

Often, the roots of a community garden spring from an abandoned lot. The Tremont garden and the first city garden, Liz Christy Garden on Houston and Bowery, began this way. Liz Christy, for whom the garden is named, and the Green Guerrillas started the urban gardening movement by, among other things, planting seed bombs in vacant lots. When the lot where the current garden stands presented itself in 1973, the Green Guerrillas dug in -- the NYC Community Garden was born.

Want to get involved?

Related links

Related reading

28 August 2008

we could all use a good laugh

If laughter is the best medicine, these men in India must be really healthy. As part of a yoga practice, the security workers below get a healthy dose of chuckles.

[Image: Reuters/Jitendra Prakash via Activate]
Indian security personnel practice laughter therapy during an early morning yoga session in a park in the northern Indian city of Allahabad, on August 27, 2008.

Laughter is said to be good for:

  • Reducing stress
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Elevating mood
  • Boosting the immune system
  • Improving brain functioning
  • Protecting the heart
  • Connecting you to others
  • Fostering instant relaxation
  • Making you feel good
[Source: HelpGuide.org]

Even faking laughter, as many of these guys above are probably doing, has the same health benefits of genuine laughter. [Source: The Laughing Cure, Elizabeth Scott, MS]

Wanna try it?
There are actually laughter clubs across the world, many right here in the states. Find one near you.

27 August 2008

up on the roof

Green it!
If I had a house or owned a building, I would green the roof. Why would I want to do such a crazy thing? Well it's actually a very logical thing to do if you want to:

  • Save energy by keeping your home warm in winter and cool in summer
  • Clean the air around your house
  • Clean the rain water that runs off from the roof
  • Keep out the noise of planes zooming overhead if you live near an airport
  • Grow beautiful flowers and even food if you're not worried about attracting little creatures

[Image: Norfolk Botanical Garden]

So how does one go about greening a roof? It seems fairly easy if you're handy and follow these steps from Wired's How-to Wiki:
  1. Get a structural engineering report for the live load of the structure. A standard roof is built to take about ten to twenty pounds of pressure per square foot. A three-foot-square garden won't add a significant amount of weight; however, a twenty-foot-square garden, complete with wet soil and plants, can weigh thousands of pounds. After investing time and effort on a beautiful garden, the last thing you want is for it to come crashing down.
  2. Shore it up. Reinforcing your intended structure entails more than putting supports under the roof; likely, your structure will require lateral supports as well. Imagine holding a kite string: The wind exerts pressure not only on the kite itself, but your body. Any wind and rain will exert the same force on your rooftop plants.
  3. Lay down the liner. You may want to consult a roofer to install a commercial seamless roof. If you're building on top of an uninhabited structure, lay down a standard pond liner. The liner will keep the water from seeping into the building; it will also keep the plant roots from eating into the building structure.
  4. Set up the lattice. Skip this step if your roof is flat. Roofs with a slope will need a grid set up over the liner to keep the dirt from sliding off.
  5. Consult a look book. How much effort are you willing to invest? Obviously, more ornate plants are going to require more work than minimalist moss. Wildflowers and their seeds will attract birds and butterflies; scattered items like logs will attract small rodents (and give you a place to sit down). Grasses will need to be mowed occasionally, and moss, while low-maintenance, is...moss. Now might also be a good time to consult your engineering report and decide how heavy your plant load can be.
  6. Mix and lay down your potting soil. Depending on your choice of plant life, the soil will probably have to be custom-mixed. The separate components usually consist of mineral content, such as sand or dirt; organic matter, such as coconut husk or peat moss; and a water-hoarding material like SoilMoist. The organic matter will decompose, fertilizing your garden; SoilMoist absorbs water and releases it as the soil dries out.
  7. Plant your plants! Seedlings, or plugs, are slightly less frustrating than seeds.
  8. Enjoy!
[Source: Wired]

Power it!
I would also install solar panels if I had a house. In PopSci's EarthTalk column, a woman from Massachusetts asks what kind of panels she should get to heat the water in her home and maybe do more. Here's the gist of a very practical answer:

1. To generate electricity for your home that might also feed back to the grid, photovoltaics are the way to go
  • What's involved: Panels, an inverter, electrical conduit piping, and AC/DC disconnect switches
  • Pro: If the sun is shining, power will be generated for the home and the grid without CO2 and other nasty emissions
  • Con: Price may be a barrier with a price tag in the tens of thousands of dollars
  • Where to get it: At FindSolar.com or the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), you can find reputable installers
2. To heat water for your home, solar thermal is a good choice
  • What's involved: A solar collector for a basic hot water system
  • Pros: Simpler and less expensive than photovoltaics, a reduced carbon footprint
  • Con: Smaller savings in energy bills than photovoltaics, though over the long run the saving add up
  • Where to get it: RealGoods Solar Living Sourcebook, a comprehensive guide to renewable energy that also sells related equipment

But wait, there's more! There's a bonus for switching to solar: Tax incentives. Find out if your state has incentives through the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE)

[Source: PopSci]

[Image: Rob Baxter, courtesy Flickr via PopSci]

the techie perspective on urban farming

It seems to be on everyone's radar -- I'm talkin' 'bout urban farming. It's not just for citybillies. Even techies want their veggies homegrown, off the CO2-spewing agricultural grid, so to speak. Here's the cool tech perspective from Wired:

Innovations from NASA and garage tinkerers have made food-growing radically more efficient and compact than the victory gardens of yore. "Aeroponics" planters grow vegetables using mist, slashing water requirements; hackers are building home-suitable "aquaponics" rigs that use fish to create a cradle-to-grave ecosystem, generating its own fertilizer (and delicious tilapia, too). Experts have found that cultivating a mere half-acre of urban land with such techniques can yield more than $50,000 worth of crops annually.
Read the full article here.

Related posts

26 August 2008

stalking the wild asparagus

This one's for you, Dad!

If you don't know who Euell Gibbons was (I didn't), let's just say he was an expert on wild edibles (he died a year before I was born). Growing up during the Dust Bowl era, his mother taught him how to forage. In the 1960s he was well known for his views on natural, wild eating -- he wrote the book Stalking the Wild Asparagus about the subject.

This seems to be my new favorite subject. Though I remember back in high school, on a sort of outward-bound-lite camping trip, eating clover leaves on my solo night when my tummy was grumbling for lack of food. They didn't fill my belly, but they did plant a seed in my mind for a future passion.

Related post
yesterday's brooklyn foraging tour

gotta love goats

I do at least. They're hysterical. Like these pygmy goats who like to jump on their dog:

Or this kid who likes to jump on the bed:

How about an office goat?

According to the National Pygmy Goat Association (NPGA):

The Pygmy Goat is hardy, alert and animated, good-natured and gregarious; a docile, responsive pet, a cooperative provider of milk, and an ecologically effective browser. The Pygmy goat is an asset in a wide variety of settings, and can adapt to virtually all climates.

Sadly, we can't buy a goat because we live in the city -- their are ordinances against owning them here (and where would we put the little bugger in our apartment?).
But if you're interested in getting your own pygmy goat, as a pet, for milking, or maybe for mowing your lawn, try these NPGA-approved breeders:
If you don't want to commit to having your own goat, you can rent one!

Related posts:

hittin' the books

If you're a parent, you're probably celebrating. A student, mourning the unofficial end of summer. It's that time of year -- Back to School. And just like other marketed "seasons," there's something to buy. School supplies, accessories, clothes, etc.

But instead of the conventional stuff that was available to me when I was a kid, there's a whole range of eco-friendly options for back to school.

At the The Green Office, they make it easy to get back-to-school supplies with kits for both students and teachers. For example, for kids in 3rd to 5th grade, for $24.99 a kit would include:

  • 3 Repocket Recycled Pocket Folders
  • 1 Envirotech™ 100% Recycled Wirebound Notebook
  • 1 Earth Write® Pencil (12-pack), Made in USA from recycled newspaper
  • 1 Classic Colors Washable Waterbased (non-toxic) Markers
  • 1 Crayola Classic Colors Crayons, 16/box (non-toxic)
  • 1 Triggerwood Pen (plus refill)
  • 1 Foohy® Colored Pencils (non-toxic)
  • 1 Professional Watercolor Set with Brush, 8 Assorted Colors, Half Pans
  • 1 KleenEarth® Steel Children's Safety Scissors
  • 1 Washable, Nontoxic, Removable, Restickable Glue Stick
  • 1 Pack of 7th Generation Facial Tissues
They also sell individual products, from recycled paper notebooks and printing paper to refillable pens and recycled content pencils.

Buy Green also has a range of eco-friendly office and back-to-school supplies.

Like this cool set of recycled newspaper pencils ($6.62 by O'BON)

Or this elephant dung paper notebook (that's right! It's by Ellie Poo, $9)

And this classic composition notebook of recycled paper ($2.79 by New Leaf)

Check out the back-to-school giveaway at Sustainable Is Good.
They're giving away 2 bags from act2 GreenSmart that are made from 100% recycled PET plastic bottles. Note: You must be a student to enter. Entry deadline: September 2, 2008. Check out their site for details.

25 August 2008

the urban homestead, revisited

[Image: Just Food]

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about urban homesteading. While catching up on my back issues of Treehugger emails, I came across this post about the very same subject. In Oakland, California, they've got a place to educate wannabe 'steaders aptly named the Institute for Urban Homesteading.

In their words:

The Institute of Urban Homesteading is a response to current interest in food security, localization and self-determination, We are riding the wave of a massive global movement to change our relationship to food and resources.
Well, sign me up! Oh wait, I live in NYC and don't have a patch of dirt to dig in. Just a minor problem.

[Institute for Urban Homesteading via Treehugger]

Related posts:
Urban Homesteading: Part 1
Urban Homesteading: Part 2
Urban Homesteading: Part 3

yesterday's brooklyn foraging tour

To round out our weekend of enjoying the great outdoors of this fair borough, my boyfriend and I joined a class called "Feasting for Free in Brooklyn" through the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (but led mainly through Prospect Park).

Our teacher/guide was Leda Meredith, a forager before she had even heard the term. Having Greek roots -- in Greece, foraging is not some fringe activity -- going after wild edibles is in her blood.

When Leda asked us, before starting the tour, why we decided to attend the class, my brain froze. Maybe because I was the first person to share, but most likely because I had so many reasons.

  1. What a great tool to have in case our society collapses
  2. If I'm in the park and hungry, I can just start snacking on some foliage
  3. Dining on wild edibles is in line with a sustainable lifestyle
  4. How cool to be aware of the plants around you, and to be able to identify a poisonous nightshade from a delicious allspice berry?
  5. No need to make a trip to the supermarket, there's feasting to be had all around us
  6. What better way to spend a beautiful summer Sunday afternoon but outdoors searching for food
  7. The food is really free
Though I only managed to mutter something like, "I like food, I don't want to depend on the food system, bla-dee-bla."

So here are some of the things I learned on the walk. DISCLAIMER: Please consult a reputable field guide before harvesting and eating wild plants (there's a list of books below).

Some generalities about wild edibles (there aren't many):
  • Any clover-shaped plant is edible (like wood sorrel, see image below)
  • All pine trees are edible; in case of emergency you can chew pine needles for vitamin C
  • Any plant that smells like onions or garlic is edible
  • All fruit with a 5-point crown (like blueberries) are edible
  • When identifying plants, always use more than one trait to identify! Sometimes two very different plants can have the same trait (like Elderberries and a look-alike plant, see below)
Specific plants that are edible (and tasty!):

Wood Sorrel (Oxalis)
Tender lemony leaf; pretty easy to identify by clover-shaped leaf and tiny yellow flowers.

Elderberries (Sambucus)
The images below highlight the importance of identifying plants by more than one trait. The berries shown in the third photo are not elderberries. How can one tell? Look at the leaves and stem. An elderberry plant has oblong divided leaves and a bumpy, knobby stem. The second plant below has leaves of a different shape and with a toothed edge.
Elderberries are better when you cook 'em -- for pies, jams, and syrup.

Elderberries (Image: Honey Gardens)

NOT Elderberries!
UPDATE: According to Leda, the berries above are a type of Viburnum, and while edible, these are not particularly tasty (even the birds won't eat 'em!).

Peppergrass (Lepidium)
The small green, tender seeds have a great peppery finish (after a bit of chewing). You can use them as you would pepper, just grind 'em first.

Chufa (Cyperus esculentus)
One of the cool characteristics of this plant is its triangular stem. It's also pretty fun looking with it's flowery tufts of yellow/green. At the roots of chufa are tubers that can be eaten cooked or raw and are said to be similar to water chestnuts.

Some plants that are useful for their medicinal purposes:

Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
Mugwort can be used as a seasoning in foods and as a remedy to relieve tension or unblock flow (such as stress or delayed menstruation). One of the distinguishing features of the plant is the white/silver underside of the leaf. Though depending on the age of the plant, the leaves can vary from wider and divided (almost like a divided parsley) and narrow (almost like rosemary). The leaves also have a strong herbal scent.

Rose Hips

These babies are high in vitamin C -- you've probably seen them as an ingredient in vitamin supplements. The orange/red flower has a little tuft of stamen on top. The leaves look like those of a rose and the stem has a characteristic thorn. Rose hips can be brewed in a tea, but be sure to filter out the fuzzy bits.

Plaintain (Plantago)
Not to be confused with the banana, plantago major is also known as "white man's footprint" because Native Americans claimed that everywhere a white man went he would leave one of these plants behind. (The plant was thought to have been brought here by early settlers from Europe.) Plantain is a natural anti-microbial and is useful in relieving insect bites and other skin ailments. The seeds in the conical part of the flower are the main ingredient of bulk laxatives like Metamucil.

Goldenrod (Solidago)
Often a mistaken cause of seasonal allergies, goldenrod does not even pollinate via the wind but through insects. The flowers and leaves can be made into a tea which can help alleviate sore throat.

Check out more photos here.

Interested in foraging? Here are some resources (as recommended by Leda):

kindle promo

I mentioned the Kindle a few days ago and I've been thinking that the price is probably a big deterrent for a lot of people (me included). So I wanted to let you know that there's a great promo going on. You can get $100 off the price if you sign up for the Amazon Rewards Visa Card. See the details below:

Get the Amazon Rewards Visa Card and Get $100 Off Kindle
Thanks to Chase, you get $100 off Kindle when you get the new Amazon.com Rewards Visa Card. Limited time only. Here's how this works: 1) Apply online. Get a response in as little as 30 seconds. If you’re approved, we will instantly add the card to your Amazon.com account and you’ll get $30 back on your credit card statement after your purchase. 2) Add a Kindle to your cart. 3) Place your order using the Amazon.com Rewards Visa Card and enter this promo code: VISACARDAdditional restrictions apply.
to get the additional $70 savings at checkout.

If you're interested, click here to get one.

24 August 2008

yesterday's brooklyn bike adventure

Yesterday morning I had the hankering for a bike ride. Knowing there were some decent bike routes to get to the Bay Ridge promenade that eventually runs beneath the Verazzano-Narrows, my boyfriend did a little research.

One of the sites he consulted was Ride the City (see my earlier post about it). This is one of those times he utters, "if I only had an iPhone... ," because we don't have a printer to reproduce the route for our bike trip. Plus, all of our area maps are in the car (I love maps). So he just wrote down all of the critical turns to get where we needed.

After eating a yummy farmer's market lunch, we hopped on our bikes and headed out. We rode through the park and overshot our first turn by about 1/4 mile, going out the due south end instead of the SSW end (near Windsor Terrace). But we figured it out and were back on track after about a mile detour.

We rode through neighborhoods we had yet to see on bike: Kensington, Borough Park, Sunset Park. When we got to Sunset Park we went through the park whence the name came. There are some great views of the city from up there (you can see the Statue of Liberty in the middle right of this pic).

[Image: Gowanus Lounge]

From Sunset Park we rode down along 2nd avenue to 67th street, into Owl's Head Park, a cute little park with a bay view.

[Image: Forgotten NY]

In the image above you can also see the entrance to the promenade that runs along the New York Bay. We entered there and rode down to the Verazzano-Narrows Bridge.

[Image: This one's mine!]

There's an exit from the promenade right by the bridge (where we're standing in the above image), so we said goodbye to the bay and headed up 4th avenue. We stayed on 4th through Bay Ridge, then headed up 5th avenue back into Sunset Park. 5th ave in this part of Brooklyn is not the best place to bike (unless you're into chaos). It was madness. If I were blindfolded, spun around, drugged, put in the trunk of a car and brought to this part of Brooklyn, I would think I were in another country. Somewhere in Central America. On every block there were at least 2 double parked cars on each side of the street. Pedestrians bounced across the street like Frogger -- no fear, no discretion. Latino tunes blared from storefronts, cars, block parties.

Eventually, the madness gave way to industrial serenity as we neared Greenwood Cemetery. Thankfully, the northbound traffic was detoured and we had the entire lane to ourselves. As we rode past the cemetery we heard some exotic chirping. Those are definitely not natives. They're the famous Brooklyn Parrots! They were thought to have been accidentally freed from their shipping crates at JFK in the late 1960s. The parrots eventually proliferated and made their way to different parts of Brooklyn and other boroughs.

[Image: Brooklyn Parrots]

The parrots blended in so well with the foliage, we had a hard time seeing them (and capturing them on camera). So we moved on, continuing down 5th ave and onto 16th street. We stopped at a coffee shop in Windsor Terrace for a snack and ended our adventure in Prospect Park (via the entrance we were supposed to start our ride from).

[Image: Mine again!]

The round trip was about 16 miles and much more entertaining than riding around the loop in the park 5 times. One of the best parts about biking in Brooklyn (or anywhere in the city for that matter) is the diversity -- the culture varies, the people vary, businesses vary to cater to the people of the area. In a matter of a few miles we were in Italy, China, the Middle East, Mexico. Every time the landscape would change I would think, "this too, is Brooklyn."

best sandwich ever!

Step 1. Go to the farmer's market (if you live in Brooklyn, try Grand Army Plaza on Saturday; in Manhattan, go to Union Square on M,W,F, or Sat.; outside of NYC, try here)

Step 2. Get yourself these ingredients:

Steps 3-12. Bring home your treasures, and get out the toaster. Slice the bread (if it's not already) and throw it in the toaster. Pick and wash the basil. Wash and slice the tomato. Take that bread out of the toaster. Slather on the goat cheese (don't be shy!). Place the tomato slices on top of the cheese. Sprinkle a little sea salt and fresh ground pepper on the tomato. Cover that layer with the basil leaves. Pour a bit of EVOO and balsamic on the other slice of bread (be careful not to overdo it, unless you like a soggy sammy). Place that slice on top of the pile of goodness. Slice down the middle.

Step 13. Eat it up, yum!

[It'll look kinda like this sandwich (this one's from My Dinner Table. I was so hungry, I forgot to take a picture!)

22 August 2008

water, water, everywhere...

Maybe not for long. Warning: This may be a downer of a post, but there are things you can do (keep reading).

I've been wanting to write about water for a while now. Water conservation is something I think about a lot. As the climate changes there will be fewer and fewer sources of fresh water. Out West, they're turning to desalination and toilet-to-tap to keep up with water supply demands. We continually pollute our water with agricultural chemicals and waste, pharmaceuticals, and domestic waste. Only in "civilized" nations do we hose down our sidewalks and water our lawns with potable water. I see it everyday. It greatly disturbs me. And now there's a movie to scare the be-jesus out of you. It's called "Flow." Check out the trailer below.

What you can do

Check out water conservation tips here.

Get some water conservation tools, like The Toilet Tank Bank and Shower Coach Timer.

If you've got a lawn, get yourself a rain barrel.

21 August 2008

green screen

Here's some more on the eco-electronics front -- more specifically, computer components.

"The World's Most Eco-friendly Monitor" [Product Reviews]
What: W2252TE LCD monitor by LG
Why: Reduced energy consumption (19.4 watts vs 44.6 with a Dell)

Zero Watt Sleep Mode Monitors [TechTree]
What: A line of monitors by Fujitsu
Why: In sleep mode, the monitor draws no electricity, unlike 1 to 6 watt use with standard monitors

Eco-friendly Storage Device [[re]Drive]
What: The [re]Drive external hard drive by SimpleTech (Fabrik)
Why: Energy efficient; eco-friendly components and packaging; powers on or off with your computer

Low Power Mini Computer
What: Eee box by ASUS
Why: Energy efficient; made with eco-friendly materials, conforming strictly to RoHS and WEEE standards

least toxic cellphones

[Image: Chris Jordan]

Ours is a gadget filled society. Cellphones, PDAs, MP3 players, portable video game consoles, book readers, GPS devices, portable satellite radios, blah blah blah.

And in all of those devices lie lots of little components, many of them hazardous, known to release persistent bioaccumulative toxins (PBTs). According to the EPA,

PBTs are chemicals and/or pollutants that:
  1. Remain in the environment for a long time (persist) without breaking down
  2. Accumulate in the environment and build up in the tissues of humans, fish, and animals (bioaccumulative)
  3. Are toxic (causing cancer and other health problems) to living organisms, including humans

Now, don't panic. I'm not proposing you hand over all of your electronic possessions to the next guy you see in a hazmat suit. These toxins are not leaching out of your gadgets while you use them -- that's something that happens once they reach the landfill. And the way people burn through devices these days, it's no wonder trash heaps everywhere are filled with toxic waste.

So what is one supposed to do?

Buy green
Thankfully, makers of electronics are starting to make less toxic products. Here's a roundup of the greenest cellphones [thanks to MetaEfficient]:

Sony Ericsson T650i
Features: energy efficient charger (24% more efficient than Energy Star standards); PVC-, phthalate-, beryllium-, and brominated-flame-retardant-free

Nokia N95
Features: PVC-, phthalate-, and brominated-flame-retardant-free; battery price is low to encourage replacement of battery rather than entire phone

Nokia 3310 Evolve
Features: highly energy efficient charger (exceeds Energy Star standards by 94%); outer cover made from over 50% renewable materials (bio-sourced); currently available in Europe only

Sony Ericsson P1i
Features: PVC-, phthalate-, beryllium-, and brominated-flame-retardant-free
Read the whole green cell phone post at MetaEfficient.

Recycle, dammit!
Do you really need a new cellphone/iPod/PDA? If it's time to trade in your old broken cellphone for a fancy new green phone, be sure to recycle. Here are just a few e-waste recycling and cellphone donation programs:
Find electronics recycling where you live:

20 August 2008

random brooklyn fireworks and other happenings

I like the outdoors -- and not just your typical wilderness full of tall timbers and woodland creatures. Fun things happen when you go outside, even when you live in Brooklyn.

After dinner, my man and I decide to go for a walk. As we turn the corner away from our block, we start seeing flashes and loud noises. What is that, some stupid kids with fireworks? No, that cop just drove in the opposite direction of the noise.

Turns out, there's a fireworks display going on a block away from our building. It looks like it's launching from the library roof. Where else does that happen? Fireworks for seemingly no reason, not on the 4th of July or New Year's.

After the big flashy show in the sky that rattled and confused the area bats (they were flying around all batty-like), we continued our walk along Prospect Park.

What's that now? It sounds like a band playing. Maybe it's a movie? It sounds like a movie. We decide to check it out. As we get closer to the long meadow, the big screen appears. Yup, it's a movie. At first we're disappointed -- it's Hairspray, the remake. I feel a bit like Andy Rooney by saying this but, Why do they feel the need to remake movies? Isn't the first time around good enough? (Can't you hear his quavery voice?) And there's nothing worse than John Travolta in a fat lady suit and a bad Baltimore accent.

Surprisingly, his performance aside, the 20 minutes or so we watched were pretty entertaining. It's actually an appropriate movie to play in a park where I often have flashbacks to Sesame Street, the epitome of multi-culti integration.

So what's the point of all this? I dunno, maybe I just wanted to let you know that I like spending time outside -- it's gotta be healthier than sitting here, like I am now, on the couch typing away on the computer.

Get outside! Check out the Prospect Park events calendar.

wind power to the people

Bloomie (that's Mayor Michael Bloomberg to you non-NYC folk) is proposing a very progressive wind energy plan for the city. In his plan, the mayor wants to install wind turbines on top of buildings and bridges and in windy waterways. Turbines in coastal areas could produce 10 percent of the city's energy needs within 10 years.

“When it comes to producing clean power, we’re determined to make New York the No. 1 city in the nation,” Mr. Bloomberg said as he outlined his plans in a speech Tuesday night in Las Vegas, where a major conference on alternative energy is under way.

But there are some serious hurdles for the plan, like battling people who are against aesthetic changes to neighborhoods and the fact that Bloomie's only in office for 18 more months to start the ball rolling (or the blades spinning). For the plan to be fully realized it could take years, maybe decades due to government red tape (ie, permits from state and federal agencies).

Read the rest of the story from the New York Times

If you're picturing giant wind turbines spinning atop skyscrapers, that won't be the case. Rooftop wind turbines are much smaller and less invasive (they also generate less electricity) than the larger land- or water-based varieties. There are various designs (see images below) and new ones, like the one featured in the video below, are being introduced all the time.

[Image: © Lucid Dream Productions via MetaEfficient]

[Design: Graeme Attey; Image: ICT via NotCot]

[quietrevolution via Logical Science]

seriously sustainable footwear

I wish these were around when I was shopping for hiking shoes for my Yellowstone/Glacier trip back in June.

Just-launched END, or Environmentally Neutral Design, is not your average outdoor shoe company. I think of them as the Nau of footwear. Sustainability is considered at every step of production. Here's what they have to say:

END was born out of idea that better design through problem solving is the next step in making greener gear for the outdoor athlete. We will not just replace toxic or virgin materials with sustainable ones, our evolutionary design process, Co2ND, will begin at the design table. Here we will question every seam, every stitch, every material and every step in the manufacturing process…we will question everything in our quest to minimize the footprint of our products prior to manufacturing.
Some of the materials they use for their shoes include recycled rubber and bamboo fiber. They're eco-friendly and pretty good lookin' to boot (ha!). Click one of the pictures below to get yourself a pair from REI.com.

END Stumptown 12 oz. Cross-Training Shoes - Women's
Ladies' Stumptown Cross-training Shoes ($80)

END Stumptown LT Light-Hiking Boots - Men's
Men's Stumptown Cross-training Shoes ($80)

How about some amazing socks to go along with those kicks?

I can't say enough great things about Teko socks (and my boyfriend agrees, best socks ever!). They make their socks with sustainable fibers like EcoMarino that isn't chlorine treated like traditional wool; Ingeo that's made from corn; recycled polyester; and organic cotton. They're super comfy and have magical wicking abilities (ie, you're feet don't stay all sweaty). They're totally worth the price (about $15 a pair!). On our aforementioned trip, we brought a couple of pairs each -- they wash up easily and dry pretty quickly.

Get yourself some Tekos by clicking the images below.

Teko EcoMerino Wool Low-Cut Socks - Women's

Ladies' EcoMarino Wool Low-cut Socks ($14.95 at REI.com)

Ladies' Ingeo Ultra-light Crew Socks (On sale $7.97 from Amazon)

Teko EcoMerino Wool Ultralight Crew Hiking Socks
Unisex EcoMarino Wool Light Hiking Socks ($17.95 at REI.com)

Men's Ecopoly Recycled Polyester Quarter Socks (3 Pairs for $33.95 at Amazon)