Tag Archives: bottled water

Friday Linkage 5/1/2020

I cannot say if April was the longest month I have every endured or if it was the shortest month.

Most days felt like the day before it.

However, not commuting to work has its own joys.

Everyone is starting to go a little stir crazy in the house, but I do not share the governor of Iowa’s opinion that it is time to start reopening.  I fear that we are staring a flare up of cases across the state.

Stay safe out there.

On to the links…

Iceland Ends Its Minke Whale Hunt—At least there is one bit of good news out there.

The Novel Frugality—Every time there is a major downturn in economic fortunes there is a rush to discuss how Americans will become more frugal.  When the economy snaps back there is a rush to buy another flat screen television because one just cannot survive with a sixty inch model when seventy inches is so much better.

How Pepsi and Coke make Millions Bottling Tap Water, as Residents Face Shutoffs—In America if an individual commits an offense it is criminal.  However, if a company commits an offense there is suspension of enforcement because corporations have become more valuable than people.

Donald Trump Is Exploiting the Coronavirus Pandemic to Sell Campaign Swag—I am waiting for the claim that a red MAGA hat will keep you safe from the coronavirus.  I am sure that Sean Hannity and Alex Jones would be all over promoting this for a cut of the proceeds.  Granted, Donnie Two Scoops is not someone who likes to share profits with anyone.

Full Steam Ahead—My guess is that oil and gas companies are staring at the next nine months as the last gasp of a pliant administration.  Once the worst president in American history returns full-time to Mar a Lago for tacky brunches and sub-standard rounds of golf there will be less inclination in Washington D.C. to just let oil and gas companies do whatever they want.

For Oil and Its Dependents, It’s Code Blue—There has never been an event with demand destruction this severe this quickly.  Oil tankers are literally floating off the coast of the United States with no place to unload oil.  Texas—Texas!—just recommended a 20% reduction in oil production.  This is uncharted territory.

Plastics Industry Requests $1 Billion Bailout From Fed—This is just what we need.  More plastic to be dumped into landfills.  And we get to pay for it with tax dollars.

How Coronavirus Has Changed the Way We Think About Disposable Plastics—Without proof the plastic industry and its retail partners have been pushing the story that disposable plastic items are safer, in terms of coronavirus exposure, than other forms of packaging including paper and reusable.

Empire State Blows Past Offshore Wind Limit With 1,000 (More) MW—Offshore wind is where the action is going to be for the next decade or so as established renewables like onshore wind, residential solar, and utility scale solar complete build outs.

Britain Breaks Record for Coal-Free Power Generation—The transformation in the graphic below is just amazing:

UK Carbon Intensity

Sweden Shuts Down Its Last Coal Plant Two Years Early—The hits just keep on coming for coal.

LA’s Mountains Make Another Case For Electric Cars—Clear skies and long forgotten views remind us that the problem is with how much driving and flying we do.  If there is anything good to come out of the current crisis it is that people will realize just how bad daily driving is for the planet.  The proof is in the views.

Paris Has a Plan to Keep Cars Out After Lockdown—We will take back our cityscapes from automobiles and return the common space to actual people.  It will not happen overnight and it will not happen everywhere, but the future is one where people matter more than automobiles.

Permian Basin Methane Emissions Found to Be More Than 2x Previous Estimates—As if you needed another reason to figure out how to eliminate fossil fuels from your daily life.  It is not just the burning of these fuels that is a problem, but the entire chain of production from well to exhaust.

Are Gas Furnaces and Boilers the New Diesel Cars?—In the hunt to electrify everything—because as this article states electricity is the only fuel that can be produced cleanly—our homes will be the great challenge.  If you think automobile ownership cycles are long, just get a load of how long people keep a furnace.

The Pandemic Will Change American Retail Forever—American retail needed to change.  Our development pattern for the last fifty years or so has been ever more retail.  Even as we built multiple times more retail per capita than any other country there was a thirst to build ever more.  Now is the time to reconfigure and repurpose.

Scientists Agree: Coffee Naps Are Better Than Coffee or Naps Alone—I am down with coffee naps.  This might be my new isolation routine.

Friday Linkage 5/24/2019

You may not believe climate change is here and you may not believe that the strange weather we have seen this spring is the future, but I have seen what our flagrant disregard for science has wrought and it is not pretty.

Rain events that were once rare are now common.  Floods in Iowa are an annual or more regular occurrence.  My prediction is that after a wet and cold spring we will have a hot and dry summer.  Nothing like a little baking heat and drought to bookend the seasons.

On to the links…

How the Baby Boomers Wrecked the Economy for Millennials—Let’s start a new trend where we replace “Millennials are killing…” with “Baby Boomers wrecked…”  Never has a generation produced so little when given so much and left such a mess for future generations to clean up.  As a member of the tail end of Generation X—whatever the hell that means anymore—I feel like we will spend the next twenty years sweeping up the rubble of Baby Boomers’ excess.

If 2020 Democrats Are Going to Be Serious About Climate, They Need to Cut Out Congress—The U.S. Senate is a retrograde institution run by a power hungry vestige of the post-Civil War southern power structure who cares for nothing other than his own political power.  The 2020 Democratic nominees need a plan that can be acted on from Day One in office.

Scientists Have Pinpointed the Mystery Source of an Ozone-Destroying Chemical—Trump may be wrong on almost everything, but his desire to realign our relationship with China may not be that awful.  His methods are crap, but there is something fundamentally rotten about the way that China does business.  Agreements are meaningless, business is paramount, everything else be damned…kind of sounds like the modern Republican Party.

Xcel’s Plan to 2030: Close Two Coal Plants, Extend Nuclear Plant, Add More Solar—Coal is dead.  It is just going to take some time for the dinosaur to roll over and actually know its dead.

Puerto Rico Got Rid of Its Coal Ash Pits. Now the Company Responsible Is Moving Them to Florida.—At what point can we just write off the entire state of Florida?  If there is a bad idea that has failed everywhere else, it will get a new lease on life in Florida.  If there is a grifter who has been run out of every town in America, that person will eventually end up somewhere in Florida.

Critics Question Ethics Behind Impossible Burger’s Rapid Fast-Food Expansion—The purity police are out to get Impossible Foods now that they are working with fast food chains.  This is ridiculous.  Every animal based burger replaced with a plant based burger is a win.

Impossible Foods’ Rising Empire of Almost-Meat—The buzz is there.  Now it is time for Impossible Foods to see if they can execute in an efficient enough manner to actually scale their business.

It’s Not Just Salt, Sugar, Fat: Study Finds Ultra-Processed Foods Drive Weight Gain—Maybe the new guideline should be “If you cannot figure out how to make the food at home you should not eat that food.”  Can’t figure out how to make a homemade PopTart?  Do not eat a PopTart.

It is Solved by Walking—Just putting one foot in front of the other is a powerful choice in a world defined by our mechanized transport.

Americans Need More Bike Transit – And these Nonprofits are Bringing It—Bicycles are a humble solution to the problem of transportation emissions.

There Is No Excuse for You to Casually Drink Bottled Water—Outside of people dealing with the aftermath of natural disasters, why are we even having this discussion about bottled water?

It’s Time to Embrace American Hemp Production—Did you have that guy in your dorm who always liked to tell you about the magic nature of hemp?  I remember that guy.  Maybe he was not so crazy after all.

We Have More than Enough Money to Decarbonize Our Energy System

If I ever hear another American politician say that we cannot afford the transition to clean energy I will scream.  Why you ask?

In 2012 it was estimated that consumers in the U.S spent approximately $65 billion on soda.  In that same year it was estimated that consumers in the U.S. spent approximately $11 billion on bottled water.  [1] That is to say that American consumers spent over $75 billion on unnecessary drinks and, in the case of soda, a product that is generally regarded to be detrimental to your health.  Not to mention the environmental impact of disposable, single use containers.

Okay, why is that relevant in the terms of this discussion?  In 2016, the most recent year for which full year data is available, the U.S. invested $44 billion in clean energy including both private investing and government expenditure.  [2]

Therefore, we spend more than 50% more on soda and bottled water per year than we invest in clean energy.  If we just directed the money from soda and bottled water to clean energy investment it would represent an increase of 172%.  That is a lot of solar panels and wind turbines.

Someone may argue that this scenario is impractical, but I would challenge such an argument on several fronts.  One, spending on soda and bottled water—for the most part—is totally discretionary.  No one needs a Diet Coke to survive and other than emergency situations no one needs bottled water.  It could be argued that it would be better if no one consumed bottled water given the economic and environmental impact of a product that can also be obtained from municipal water supplies.  Two, by and large individuals now have the power to redirect their discretionary spending toward renewable energy.  As long as you have the capital or alternative financing arrangements are available you can put solar panels directly on your roof.  Thus, your Diet Coke and Evian habit can be turned into clean energy.  A direct substitution, so to speak.

My point is to illuminate that when we discuss the level of investment necessary to decarbonize our energy system it needs to be placed in direct comparison to some broader economic choices.  Is the future our planet worth skipping that Dr. Pepper?

  1. http://classroom.synonym.com/how-much-do-americans-spend-on-soft-drinks-12081634.html
  2. http://www.businessinsider.com/us-2015-renewable-energy-investments-2016-5

Stop Buying Water for Your Shower

We all know that bottled water is bad.  It’s usually just tap water put into plastic bottles and dropped off in pallets at our local grocery store.  You end up paying dollars for something that costs cents when it comes out of the faucet in your home.  Add in the plastic waste and you get a bad environmental actor that no one wants to defend.

But what about your shampoo and shower gel?  Look at the first ingredient.  I am betting dollars to donuts that the first ingredient listed is water.  How much water?  Seventy to eighty percent depending upon the formulation. [1]  Shower gel is in the same boat and considering its rise to prominence over bar soap I am guessing that most people have multiple bottles of what is mostly water in their showers. [2]

Every one of those bottles of shampoo and shower gel are just a step up from buying bottled water.  I have always been a bar soap guy finding the entire loofah and shower gel combo unsatisfying on a number of fronts.  Foremost among those is what wondering what is lurking in the folds of that loofah that do not get clean.  Sorry for that image, folks.

Bar soap is the easy answer to shower gel.  Hell, it’s also one of the easiest things to get from a local provider because almost every farmers market I have been to over the past decade has a soapmaker or two.  Or you could get the soap that I like the bestPacha’s Dirty Hippie.

The shampoo angle seems a little harder until you do a little digging.  I would not have thought twice about it until a friend re-gifted me a Lush Seanik shampoo bar.   All I could remember thinking was why I did not come across this concept sooner.  Now, I do not care to afford Lush’s products although I do love their ingredients and social bent.  Once the Seanik bar ran out I bought some J.R. Liggett Old Fashioned shampoo bars and I am working through them currently.

Bar soap and shampoo bars come with none of the packaged plastic waste that comes from shower gel and liquid shampoo.  If we really want to make a change in the way we consume things we really need to examine the nature of the products that we buy and the packaging that those products come in.  A little paper wrapper seems like a much better solution than an empty plastic bottle.

 

  1. http://chemistscorner.com/how-shampoos-are-made/
  2. http://fortune.com/2016/08/25/bar-soap-declining-sales/

Friday Linkage 8/7/2015

There will be no linkage next week since I will be spending most of the week in Boulder, Colorado for work. Finally, work sends me some place that I actually like going.

On to the links…

The 19 Types of Beer Snobs—Which type of beer snob do you think you are?

This Kind Of Electricity Provider Is Already Integrating Renewables—As someone who lives in a state where rural electric cooperatives are alive and well this does not come as news. The key piece of information is that these cooperatives are beholden to the rate payers not investors.

Interior Launches National Conversation on Federal Coal—Coal mining companies need to pay their fair share for coal extracted from federally owned lands. If that puts the coal out of domain of economic feasibility then so be it. Maybe coal is in its death throes.

U.S. Coal Company Alpha Natural Resources Files For Bankruptcy—If you want proof that coal is in trouble look no further than once high flying Alpha Natural Resources. Since 211 the company has closed 80 mines, laid off 6,500 employees, and cut capital spending by 55%. These measures were still not enough to stave off bankruptcy.

This Insanely Detailed Map Shows every Power Plant in the United States—This map is an amazing piece of work:

power-sources-united-states

Map: Stacking up the States under the Clean Power Plan—The Clean Power Plan is a great thing. It really sets the stage for a clean energy transformation in the United States, but it lets the states decide the best path. How is your state looking?

The $13 Billion Bottled Water Industry vs. the National Park Service… and American Hikers, Campers, Hunters, and Nature-Lovers—There is a fundamental disconnect between people enjoying the natural awesomeness of our national parks and buying single use beverages.

The Disturbing Things that Happen to Your Body when You Drink Coca-Cola—I remember a time in the late-80s when parents would tell their children that soda had the same chemistry as battery acid. It was total bunk, but it looks like the stuff might really be bad for you. It’s just not battery acid.

Diets Are a Lot Like Religion—When you stop and listen to people talk about diets it really does sound like religion or a cult. I am going with cult. Complete with Kool-Aid.

Stuff I Like: Sodastream Genesis

The bottled beverage aisle in the grocery store blows my mind.  It is essentially an aisle of disposable—hopefully to be recycled—cans and bottles that are filled with water and maybe a few ingredients.  Bottled water is the silliest item in this aisle of the grocery store because it is often no more pure than tap water and costs an exorbitant premium compared to tap water.

I, like so many other eco-minded people, use my Camelbak bottle a lot.  I take it with me to the office and it is a constant companion at home as well.  However, I also like fizzy water.  It is a silly thing, but I like bubbles in my water and little else.  Carbonated water is one of the craziest items in the beverage aisle because it is usually imported and it is usually in glass bottles.  Transportation and packaging are huge contributors to an item’s carbon footprint.  Just see what Coca-Cola found out.

The solution is simple: make fizzy water at home.  The product: a Sodastream Genesis.  I found it in a local Bed, Bath, & Beyond where it was bundled with a package of flavor additives, two bottles, and a carbonator for about $100.  The great thing about Bed, Bath, & Beyond is that I get a 20% off one item coupon every other day in the mail.  So, for approximately $85 I walked out the door with the ability to make my own fizzy water.

The operation of the device could not be easier.  Chill a bottle of water—I usually let it spend some time in the freezer prior to carbonation—and hit it with three or four shots of gas…voila…fizzy water.  I found the flavors to be a little sweet and I do not drink soda much anyway, but I have come to like putting a little lemon juice in for a refreshing summer drink.

I have had the Sodastream Genesis for about a year now and I hardly ever buy a soda or carbonated water anymore.  I imagine that I have stopped buying a six-pack of 20 ounce sodas or carbonated water.  Doing the simple math I have saved over 300 bottles from being made and I am still going.  Pretty easy eco-argument in my opinion.

The only problem I have with the Sodastream product is that the carbonators do not last very long.  I have yet to record how many bottles I get out of one 14.5 ounce bottle.  The claim is that one carbonator of that size can complete 60 bottles.  That number seems high.  I need to get one of these.