Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Greenwashing: literally!

Hooray for “green” dry-cleaners! Until today, I knew of only one in the Baltimore area (Cranbrook Shopping Center in Cockeysville), which is outside my usual errand-running area. But now there is another: Sparks II Cleaners at 7206-C York Road in Towson, near Stevenson Lane. The original Sparks cleaners is on Fila Way near Loveton Farms, in Sparks.

The cleaner/tailor shop is open Monday to Friday 7am - 7pm and Saturday 8am - 5pm. They also offer pickup and delivery service. You can phone them at 410-832-5326.

According to the article at, "Instead of using the standard dry cleaning solution known as perc (perchlorethylene), which is a petroleum-based solvent regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, Sparks Cleaners uses a silicone-based cleaner. It is made from water, sand and carbon dioxide..."

This article also mentions that traditional dry cleaners are the single largest users of perc, and that the dry-cleaning machines that use this substance are to be phased out by the year 2020.

Let's hope so! Until then, patronize your local green drycleaner.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Recycling the lost timbers of Atlantis?

Here’s an interesting snippet from the January issue of one of my favorite magazines, Wonderful West Virginia. The article, “Haunting beauty below ‘see level,’” is about a man-made lake in my home state:

“…Wood decomposes most readily, either organically or chemically, in the presence of oxygen, light, and warmth. None of these components is abundant in [most lakes]. The water is naturally cold, and sunlight quickly dims with depth. And although there’s enough oxygen in the water to keep fish alive, there’s not enough to promote the decomposition of wood. Thus the stumps in the lake, like the long-forgotten logs that rest at the bottom of many other bodies of water, remain unchanged as years go by.

Indeed, a whole new industry, the salvaging of underwater logs, is developing in Canada. A company called Logs End harvests logs that sank in the Ottawa River in the heyday of nineteenth-century logging operations. These logs are milled and used as beams, flooring, and paneling in homes today….”

This reminds me of a historical tidbit I picked up while traveling in Italy during college: many old waterfront cities in Europe (like Venice) are supported by submerged, wooden pilings that are centuries old, yet still structurally sound. How can this be? Because they’ve been kept totally underwater, in the dark. If you were to excavate them, they would quickly decompose as soon as they were exposed to air and light.

Glad to hear that the lumber industry is making use of this forgotten underwater resource.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

GreenBuild 2007

In November, I attended the GreenBuild International Conference and Expo in Chicago.

Here is my trip report...

Friday, December 7, 2007

Earth to America: time to get green!

Here's a fun little video I found as I was assembling a presentation about green building. It's from the "Earth to America" TV special that aired on TBS in November.

Watch more videos here.