Tag Archives: consumerism

Friday Linkage 7/28/2017

I have been a little lax on posting some things lately and I have no excuse other than work, children, life in general…you get the idea.  My hope is to have an update on my upcoming solar photovoltaic system soon and some thoughts on other ways to really embrace a lower carbon life here in middle America.

On to the links…

Vail Resorts Promises to Eliminate Emissions, Waste and Offset Forest Impact by 2030—Welcome to the party Vail Resorts.

Trump Nominates Sam Clovis, a Dude Who Is Not a Scientist, to Be Department of Agriculture’s Top Scientist—This is what happens when you elect people who profess to hate government and expertise in general to run the government.  You get people who are unqualified for the job screwing up and then claiming afterwards, “I told you government does not work.  See?”

The Quieter Monument Battles to Watch—Donald Trump and Ryan Zinke’s assault on our national monuments is, to put it mildly, monumentally unpopular.  Remember, this is a man who can lose the popular vote  by nearly three million votes and claim with a straight face that he had the most lopsided electoral victory in history.  Nothing is beyond the pale for these people.

As Outdoor Retailer Show Packs up for Colorado, Industry Flexes Political Muscle in U.S. Land Fight—The people who love the outdoors are being heard.  The companies who make money off the people who love the outdoors are making their voices heard.  This is no small change and it represents a viable path forward to protect our access to public lands.

Are Renewables Set to Displace Natural Gas?—Europe and the U.S. are very different places, so extrapolating upon trends from on to the other is dangerous.  However, I wonder what will happen if natural gas experiences price spikes like it has in the past.  Will renewables rush to fill the void left by coal as the second choice when natural gas gets pricey?

Seven Charts Show Why the IEA Thinks Coal Investment Has Already Peaked—Coal is in all kinds of death spirals right now.  The decline in investment is a long term impediment to their being any revival in coal’s fortunes.

“Clean Coal” Is A Political Myth, Says Coal Company Owner—Robert Murray is the gift that keeps on giving.  After John Oliver went after him using public statements and other records that were readily available he just keeps on opening his mouth.  Gotta’ love a rich man with no filter…oh wait, that is the clown we have in the White House.

Peeling Back the Red Tape to Go Solar—The run around and red tape dance has been the most frustrating part of getting my solar photovoltaic system installed on my roof.  Yet, I still have more hoops to jump through once the system is actually installed.  None of it is value added and all of it costs either money or time.  Ugh.

Straus Family Creamery Powered by Cow Gas—Why don’t we have a government program to install one of these systems at every dairy farm or other large livestock operation in the United States?

This Beautiful but Toxic Weed Could Make you go Blind—Giant hogweed is no joke.  I have friends with the burn scars from the sap to prove it.

Minimalism Is Just Another Boring Product Wealthy People Can Buy—I have always found it ironic that people buy books or attend seminars about minimalism.  Shouldn’t the idea be somewhat self-apparent with a little reflection?

Debunking What the Health, the Buzzy New Documentary that Wants You to be Vegan—Veganism has become the new snake oil for a lot of people.  It will not cure all that ails us and to pretend otherwise is to traffic in the same dreck that has gotten us into this mess.

Beer Sales are Down…Especially Among the Millennials—Millennials are trying to wreck everything.

A Cut Above: Two Axe-Throwing Venues Carve Out a Niche in Denver—Axe throwing venue?  Peak hipster?

Friday Linkage 11/23/2012

Well, it’s Black Friday.  Are you avoiding the insanity of America’s unofficial holiday devoted to shopping?  I know I am.

Talking Turkey with Michael Pollan—Michael Pollan may be one of the most “overexposed” members of the modern food movement, but what he says is usually insightful.  On a day when most people are out hoarding consumer goods and stuffing their mouths with nasty fast food it’s a nice reminder of some other avenues.

Film Documents Americans Who Reap an Amazing Harvest from Waste—It’s Black Friday, but it’s also the perfect time to think about just how much stuff we waste in the United States.  The documentary “Spoils” shows this waste in Technicolor.  Dig it.

Ten Reasons a Carbon Tax is Trickier than You Think—A carbon tax, in my honest opinion, is a non-starter in the U.S. because taxes have become a dirty word in politics.  Never mind that we currently use the tax system to discourage certain behaviors and promote others already.

Why Hundreds More U.S. Coal Plants are Ripe for Retirement—Maybe some real progress can be made in the coming years to shut down some of these behemoths.  Granted, the replacement capacity will probably come from natural gas generation due to the death of the wind production tax credit.  That is unless Republicans get their heads out of their own asses and do something…oh wait, the leadership is still comprised of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell.

India’s Solar Revolution: Why Small is Big—I have seen a lot of stories and analysis that point to India as an emerging lab for solar technologies that are distributed because India’s grid is creaky, unreliable, and run by corrupt companies.  In essence, the hope is that India can leapfrog the centralized grid entirely for large swaths of its undeveloped countryside.

Feed Your Passion for Fixing Stuff with Sugru—I do not know if I would actually use this stuff or how it even works, but I am intrigued.  I might just have to buy some for my toolbox.

Where Will the Money Go from the BP Settlement—Besides to the lawyers.

Let Go of the Weedkiller and Learn to Love Weeding—Weeding never seemed like much of a chore to me.  You get the spend time outdoors in a generally low key way.  When you are done there is a bucket of material for the compost bin and the garden beds look nice.  Where is the problem here?

Utah State Goes Ahead with Wireless EV Charging—Damn, if you do not think that this is cool…well, I don’t know what is cool.  It finally seems like we are getting some momentum on having a portfolio of options for transportation power other than unleaded or diesel.

Innovative Projects Show the Promise of Geothermal—This really gets to the idea of finding the highest returns possible for an investment in technology.  Sure, slapping photovoltaic panels on a roof seems like the best way to deploy capital but there are a host of other technologies that might save more money and reduce impact more.

The Extraordinary Effort to Save Sockeye Salmon—This is a really fascinating look into the entire regime dedicated to preserving the salmon species in the northwest U.S.  Maybe the solution of returning our rivers to their more natural state is a better deployment of capital.  Just saying.

What Black Friday Means to Me

This year Black Friday, the traditional start to the Christmas shopping season that falls after Thanksgiving, is getting a lot of attention for the fact that it is no longer confined to Friday.  Rather, it has crept into the evening of Thanksgiving and, therefore, the employees of these retailers are forced to forego an evening spent with family.

Workers and concerned citizens, e.g. referred to as guests by retailers or shoppers by the rest of humanity, have started petitions asking for the encroachment into the Thanksgiving holiday to cease.   We already shop too much in the United States, so what’s the problem with spending some time away from the retail scene?

At least WalMart’s employees are using the attention afforded to retailers on Black Friday to potentially disrupt the narrative about consumerism and turn it towards the plight of workers.

For me, however, Black Friday means something else entirely.  It’s the beginning of my traditional siesta from shopping.  From now until after the New Year I will spend little or no time shopping for gifts or what not.  Why?  Because the status quo is insane.

I remember when holiday shopping was fun.  Maybe it was because I was a kid, but I loved the mall at Christmas time.  The decorations, the bizarre Santa Claus throne, the music…it was wonderful.  Sometime during college, probably during my stint working at a big box electronics retailer that shall remain nameless, I noticed the craziness of the holidays.  I remember watching people almost furiously filling carts with shrink wrapped items as if it were preparation for an upcoming superstorm.  It really turned me off of the holidays.

As the years have passed, opting out of the shopping hysteria just became second nature.  My wife and I have not exchanged gifts during the holidays, which conveniently also take place during the time when both of our birthdays fall on the calendar, for over a decade.  For our children, I take the holiday season as an opportunity to spend a good deal of time in the woodshop to build them a gift.  Last year it was a play table.  This year it is going to be a pair of bookcases that look like castles.

It just seems like a better way.

Stuff I Like: Green Toys

My eight month old son has discovered toys.  Now that he can sit up unsupported for long stretches he just wants to play.  What kid does not?  It does matter…rattles, balls, his sister’s toys…everything is fair game.

After the holidays, my local warehouse store had a set of Green Toys trucks on sale.  In addition, I picked up a Green Toys bath boat somewhere on my last trip to Des Moines:

Why do I like Green Toys?  Let me list the ways:

  • Made from 100% recycled plastic – Now I know where some of the milk jugs I have been dutifully recycling for the past decade have been going.  Naturally the good folks at Green Toys have an infographic to tell you how much energy making their toys from recycled milk jugs equates to:

  • Made in the USA – It sounds quaint.  It sounds vaguely like the Tea Party.  Making things in this country makes sense on more than economic grounds.  Mostly I am thinking about safety.  If there is a problem, the source can be tracked down.  Can a toy company say that about a sub-sub-sub-contractor in China?  Probably not.
  • Safety – It goes along with the previous point, but I think it bears mentioning on its own.  Green Toys are free from BPA and other nasty chemicals like phthalates.  Who knows what lurks in the shrink wrapped boxes of your local supercenter?
  • Creative play – This is not something unique to Green Toys, but it is something that I feel is important.  These toys do not light up or beep or talk or make someone follow a prescribed path.  It’s a toy that lets a kid be a kid and goof off.  Sure, the tiger moms of the world will question the validity or sanity of letting your child play but it is my belief that having an imagination is a greater thing than being able to mechanically produce concerto music at age 5.
  • Reduced recyclable packaging – Let me tell you there are few things more depressing than opening a child’s toy and being left with a mound of shredded plastic and foam and whatever else is used to ensure safe delivery.  Green Toys come packaged in cardboard and that is it.  No blister packs or foam holders.

Needless to say, my son loves moving his trucks back and forth across the carpet. And, it makes me feel a little better to know that he is playing with a recycling truck.  You cannot start them too young.