Friday, August 31, 2007


No, it's not a site for bicycles but it could have a free bicycle waiting for you. Free Cycle was created to give people a place to reduce their stuff by giving it away to others locally. I went to the main site found the Gainesville Yahoo group and just put in a query about a cat condo for a friend's kitty. Other people ask for stuff -- one poor person this morning has been beset by flies in his home and is looking for a couple of flyswatters to offset the problem.

I've got a ton of DJ's old, outgrown clothes and shoes and think I will offer those first. Of course, it's like my enthusiasm with groups like BookMooch and BookCrossing -- great ideas that I highly support in principle but have a hard time participating in (like, I still haven't actually left the books I've logged onto Book Crossing!).

Thursday, August 30, 2007

More About Bagels and Packaging

I'm getting close to deciding my favorite place to get a bagel in the morning. Yesterday I went to Einstein Bros., a franchise bagel place on campus, for my second bagel of the day (I know I'm going to have to stop that but I love bagels SO MUCH). I like EB because when you order a bagel you get it in a small wax paper baggie regardless of whether you are dining in or out, already cream cheesed, and you can also serve your own coffee and they give you a mug (or refill) discount for bringing your own cup. I like to mix all of the coffees they have into one big ol' caffeinated suicide-type beverage. The one drawback to EB's is that you have to buy a rather expensive small jug of soy milk from them in order to enjoy it in your coffee, so I just use skim.

This morning I went to Java Hut, another little franchise-y outlet for coffee and bagels in the food court of the Reitz Union. I was shocked and dismayed to learn that, after getting edged out of their nice little primo spot by Starbucks, they got rid of their awesome cream cheese bar! This was so cool because you got your bagel in a little wax paper baggie and then you could use the bagel slicer, toast your bagel, and spread cream cheese from a wide variety of spreads on your bagel without having to use any plastic or otherwise disposable utensils. I could still serve my own coffee and they did give me a mug discount and didn't even charge me for soy milk when I asked for it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bagels and packaging

Back to school means one thing in my diet -- bagels! The food is normally verboten in the household but in the morning it really does get me out of the house and on the road. Yesterday I went to Deja Brew near campus for my coffee and bagel, where the poor counter people must endure my parody of the song, "Deva Vu" and its numerous variations. This coffee shop is inside a rather spacious copy center and is able to provide good coffee and various pastries and bagels. There are two things I'm not happy with, however; the fact that the bagels are wrapped in plastic and put in a big paper bag for to go meals, and the fact that you have to put on your own cream cheese and it comes in either a small plastic container or a packet. Either way, between those two things it's too much packaging. They will, however, put coffee in provided travel mug and even sometimes won't charge me for soy milk. Yesterday I asked one of the sweet people who work there if I could just have a bagel without the packaging and she said that they wrap their bagels immediately after getting them because they go stale over the course of the day. This was kind of b.s., because if you get there past 11 am on weekdays you're almost surely out of luck about getting you a bagel, so there's not much chance of premature staleiosity.

All right, whatever. So this morning I went down the street to Bagels Unlimited (where Deja Brew gets their bagels, anyway) and was able to get a bagel just wrapped in paper, already toasted with reduced fat cream cheese. If I handed the nice counter lady a plastic container to put my bagel in I don't think she'd bat an eye. Maybe I'll try that tomorrow, in preparation for my McDonald's expedition!

Got the picture from Barry's Bagels

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Project: DIY Shrinky Dinks!

#6 plastic doesn't recycle? Pshaw! Chris Job has the 4-1-1 on making your own Shrinky Dinks using clear #6 plastic containers. Which is great, because if you buy Shrinky Dinks in the store you're paying 5 bucks for same! He also has a lot of other cool stuff on his blog at Curbly so check him out!
Swiped this photo of Shrinky Dink example from the above DIY post

Commuting on Bike

Another thing about commuting by bicycle -- in the heat I am less likely to commute this way. Today, for example, the old man has to use the car so I'm biking it to campus. One of the truer examples of accidental environmentalism, if I do say so!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Autumnal schedules

Finally getting it together with the fam, schedule-wise. After the Friday fiasco, where I was an hour late getting to work because I'd forgotten DJ's bookbag and lunchbox, the old man and I discussed alternatives to the present routine, which is me driving to DJ's school then shooting to campus and scrambling from the commuter lot to make it to work by 8am. It's just wasn't going to work. On the days where I'm the opener at the ref desk I'm now biking to campus, and on the days when I just have class I'm doing the drive-in with DJ. Doesn't give the old man as much cycling time as he would probably like but at least I now get some in, myself.

Okay, this is how we're doing it:

I ride the old Schwinn to campus, dart into the library by 8 am. Meanwhile, the old man and DJ are trucking to the elementary school and then to the commuter lot. After my shift is over, and before I have to pick up DJ, I take the bike over to where the old man works (we both work on campus) and then walk to the commuter lot, get the car, and pick up DJ after school. Then the old man rides the Schwinn home after work. We just have to remember our bicycle helmets but that should be okay.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Compact Still Rawks

And they've now got their own blogspot blog! They list groups all over the country and I joined the Florida Yahoo group.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Is eBay Green?

In an attempt to not buy any new stuff I bought a pair of shoes on eBay on Friday. As I got to thinking about it, though, I realized that eBay may not be such a great choice if you are trying to go The Compact route and not buy any new stuff for a year. I think those shoes are coming from Colorado, which is about the same as buying carrots from California -- it uses an unbelievable amount of energy to cart it to Florida via USPS. On the social environmentalism front, I'm not supporting potentially exploitive conditions for workers by buying used shoes, but the long-distance travel my shoes will make is troubling. Perhaps I should limit my search using the 100-mile diet constraints.

The New Blog Space

I'm so conflicted -- I decided to take the plunge and begin building on my virtual real estate at through the beneficence of my friend and dharma sibling, Doug, at All was going swimmingly and then I totally freaked out and fled the domain. As I explained on a post I just finished on the new space, partly it has to do with taking the big step of transferring everything to the new site and deleting this one from Blogger, but it also has to do with being the end of summer and me trying to cram a million summer-y type things into the last few weeks. I'll be going back and forth for awhile, but all shall be well by the holiday break.


I'm so excited! I'm about to get neck-deep in coursework and yet I'm planning a whole slew of new experiments in accidental environmentalism! Okay, well one of these plans is with DG and it's this one that I want to talk about first because it's so darn cool and enviro and is actually something we can do easily and cheaply. This was DG's idea: Collect old canvas totes from area thrift stores, make totes out of old tank tops (by sewing the bottoms [this is apparently something that people are doing, called "t-bags"]), and give them away at the farmer's market, using the "need a penny? take a penny, etc. philosophy. If people want to use cloth instead of plastic they can exchange their plastic bags for cloth bags and if they have extra cloth bags they would like to contribute they can bring them by for others to use. It will truly be a fun adventure and will be sure to post w/pics when we actually do it.

Do You Want a Bag With That?
I had a cultural anthropology professor at IPFW who gave us some word pictures to shake us out of our collective teenage somnolescence by talking about things like going up to the counter at McDonald's and asking for, say, trout almondine with a nice chardonnay. His challenge to not follow the same sleepy routines we find ourselves spinning around in (the "do you want fries with that?" mentality) has always stuck with me and I now want to do my own McDonald's challenge: Go to the campus McD's with a plastic container and a cup and ask for a happy meal without the packaging. DG has expressed her willingness to be a witness to this so I won't feel as scared and idiotic when they refuse and I have to talk to the manager. I'd like to find out why I wouldn't be able to do this and possibly have some follow up challenges, so I guess I'll have to do some thinking about this. Darn. And they'll probably ruin my self-righteous indignation by actually going along with putting a burger and fries in my stinky plastic tub!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Is Corn the Silver Bullet or the Silver Shaft? Or the Silver Queen?

You know, I used to be all "yea, we're growing corn for fuel!" I was a big corn-as-plastic fan and kept looking for plastic bags and other products to start rolling off the lines. I finally found a bottle for water that was made of corn plastic and I was in heaven! This is it! I crowed, we've entered the new millenium!

But is it all that great? The manufacturing alone probably causes more environmental damage than is made up for by the inherent coolness of a water bottle made from corn. Could the same be said for ethanol made from corn? And by growing all this corn for fuel, aren't we taking food away from not only our nation but a lot of other countries who depend on us?

Why not produce ethanol made from sugar cane like in Brazil? I pulled the following paragraph from a Washington Post article entitled "Brazil's Biofuel Strategy Pays off as Gas Prices Soar" and I think it sums up well where we need to be going:
Mills such as Sao Martinho are highly efficient. The pressed sugar-cane juice can either go to huge fermentation vats to make alcohol or be spun in centrifuges to produce sugar and molasses, depending on which product is priced more favorably on any given day. The plant supplies its own electrical power by burning the crushed outer stalk of the cane, known as bagasse .
And, indeed, America is taking baby steps towards that end. An article in Thursday's Palm Beach Post talks about UF joining with Florida Crystals Corp. to build an ethanol production plant in Palm Beach County. It's a good article and worth the read not only because of the counter arguments to building the plant in that area -- it would drain water from the Everglades and cause an environmental hazard to the ecosytem -- but also for the comments from readers. The posters are deeply divided on this issue. Some think it's a great idea, other think it's a disaster. One reader went so far as to say a better alternative would be to build a nuclear power plant in the area, instead.

The ethanol plant in Palm Beach County would use the bagasse -- the fibrous stalks of the cane left after extracting the sap -- in making ethanol via a new technology developed at UF, called cellulosic ethanol. I like the idea of cellulosic ethanol because it can be made from grasses that are relatively easy to grow and from waste products of food crops, like sugar cane. UF is at the forefront of this new technology and hopefully the new ethanol plant at Florida Crystals will be a vanguard for new and cleaner ways to create energy.

REL4936 rawks

I had to hold off on posting about the REL4936 class this semester, Environmental Ethics and Practices, because I was just so excited after the first class meeting that I knew I would totally spaz all over the blogorama. I'm posting about it now because I'm jazzed on caffeine and getting revved up about it all over again.

It is going to be a very cool semester. I've been neglecting my minor (Religion) and finally decided to start working on it again. Anyway, the semester is a going to be a veritable Disneyworld of environmental consciousness-raising! When the teacher started talking about bicycle commuting I started grinning maniacally -- I hope she doesn't think I'm a freak but you don't often get to talk about bicycle commuting in a classroom environment.

One of the assignments is taking the footprint quiz -- Here is a link to the last one I did, and here is what the footprint of NoImpactMan might look like:


FOOD 2.2




Now, truthfully, I haven't explored this NoImpactMan person's life to the extent that I know for sure we would need 1.3 planets if we were a world of NoImpactMans ("mens?") but I think it's pretty close. I encourage anyone wanting to do their own NoImpactMan footprint quiz to take the Earth Day Footprint Quiz at Earthday Network and please email me at with the results so we can compare results. Oh, yes, and they should also take their own quiz for their very own with the option of sending me those results, as well!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Summer Project -- making magnets

You know those obnoxious magnets you get with phonebooks that advertise law firms or magnets from pizza places you never intend to order from, usually with the team schedule of games you'll never attend? Don't throw them away! Tear the label off -- it helps if they're vinyl labels but the paper labels will work too, they're just more of a pain in the butt. So you can go from this:

Okay, I know I need a better camera -- anyway, from that to this:

and finally to this:

Gee, I really hate my camera...but you get the idea!