Monday, November 30, 2009

UPS carbon neutral shipping

Happy Cyber Monday!  In case you're out there doing your online Christmas shopping right now, here's some news about package shipping:  UPS now offers the option to buy carbon offsets for 5 to 20 cents per package.

Read blog article here, or go straight to the UPS carbon webpage.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Fun with Dwell magazine

As I was tending the home fires over Thanksgiving weekend I found some old Dwell magazines and spent an afternoon immersed in the architectural design world...

Neat articles about a straw bale house with reference links to straw building and sustainable construction,
low-cost modular housing,
master woodworkers both traditional (Nakashima) and modern (Scrapile, made from scraps collected by NY Wa$tematch),
and fun, classic toys like Lincoln logs (did you know they were created in 1916 by Frank Lloyd Wright's son John?).

Image from

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Saving the Senator Theatre

A beloved local icon fell prey to the economic downturn recently:  the Senator Theatre has hosted movie premieres and local gatherings since its opening in 1939.  I watched the 2009 presidential inauguration there with a standing-room-only crowd, it was a memorable experience.

After the Senator was acquired by Baltimore City, the Baltimore Development Corporation issued a Request for Proposals to "renovate and rejuvenate the Senator into an active and vibrant center for the community."

I'm biased in favor of our Towson University radio station's submittal:  WTMD's general manager posted this blog entry about their proposal to use the space for its originally-intended purpose:  movies, music, and events to bring the community together.

This is an elegant solution that addresses both historic preservation of this lovely Art Deco structure and fostering community in Belvedere Square and beyond.  I hope they have the opportunity to realize this endeavor!

Read a related Baltimore Sun article here.
Other great historic local theatres: The Charles and the Rotunda Cinematique.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Triple bottom line: money is green

In green business circles you hear a lot about the "triple bottom line":  planet + people + prosperity, or if you prefer Es:  ecology, equity, economy.

In the prosperity/economy vein, I've previously shared posts from Cheapskate Monthly (a newsletter and website at, by Mary Hunt). Recently I discovered another blog about personal finance that blends commonsense money advice with book reviews and a Lifehacker-esque vibe:

One of my favorite posts this week proposed uncluttering your house as a means of improving your productivity and saving money. As a recovering maximalist, this idea really appeals to me.  He says, and I quote: "I link to Unclutterer [blog] frequently because I believe there is a strong connection between clutter and financial problems, since clutter represents having more physical possessions than you can manage and all of those possessions cost money. Plus, dealing with clutter requires a time investment and in our busy lives, time has a very high value."

He also mentions Getting Things Done, a highly-recommended book about productivity.  He doesn't mention but the concept video came to mind as I was pulling together links for this post.  Enjoy!

I didn't know I could recycle that!

Ah, recycling:  the green gateway drug.  Here's a roundup of some links I've been collecting on how to recycle obscure items...  

Compact Discs (CDs)

Yoga Mats (refurbishes and donates yoga mats to charity and gives you a $5 coupon for the website)

10 things you didn't know you could recycle (toothbrushes, wine corks)

75 things you didn't know you could compost

And for any fellow equestrians cleaning out their attics:  horse show ribbons and Hodges Badge company.  (in Horse & Rider magazine I saw an article about donating ribbons to theraputic riding charities, but now I can't find the link:  consider this option also!)  

The other day my housemate pointed out that we rarely put out more than one trash bag per week, compared to our neighbors' two to five trash bags.  If we had to pay per trash bag like some of my friends in other states, we'd be saving a lot of money! 

Friday, November 6, 2009

Tree houses

This is really cool: Roald Gundersen, forester-architect, builds houses from trees. I don't mean lumber, but actual TREES.

Read the NYTimes article
and his website

PS one of the blogs I follow ( is written by a journalist whose daughter works for this architecture firm.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Waterwise options for your bathroom

I think I want a new shower head. (why now? just kidding... sortof)

EPA specifications for watersense shower heads state that they should use less than 2 gallons per minute (gpm) at 80 pounds per square inch (psi) of water pressure.

Here are links to a hand shower with decent ratings from Home Depot customers, or a more traditional shower head.

While we're on the topic of saving water in the bathroom, here are some easy, low-cost things you can do:

Fill up an old water bottle (free) and put it in your toilet tank to decrease the gallons per flush (1.6 gpf is the current standard)

Install an aerator ($5) in your sink faucet to get 1.5gpm. Basically, an aerator introduces air into the water flow to make it feel stronger. Laminar flow devices employ a different concept, but also save water (here's a random thread about laminar vs. turbulent flow in the kitchen sink... but I digress.)

Get drain strainers ($2-3) for sink and shower drains to eliminate hair clogs so you won't need to use Drano or other nasty chemicals to unblock them later. An ounce of prevention, as they say...

EPA's watersense site
Home Depot's water wise page and Eco Options site
Sierra Club green home page