Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Green Update

So I'm still not advanced enough to take a screen shot of my footprint, but I have managed to get it from 3.9 earths down to 3.3. The biggest part of my footprint is still electric land, but it has decreased significantly, most likely because I'm now getting 100% Green power, and the increase in local food products probably helped as well. I'd say this decrease is actually a lot more than I expected it to be, sine I didn't change my air travel at all, which I had thought to have the biggest impact on my footprint.

As for continuing with my current behavior, I think most of it will be easy, except buying local produce will be getting increasingly difficult, because obviously, it's winter and theres not a lot growing here. I would love to buy locally frozen fruits and veggies, but I don't know of any. I'm going to do my best to stick to the two state rule, but I will continue to make an exception for peanut butter. I just can't help it. But I am making the effort to buy organic peanut butter, and I'm planning on keeping an eye out for everyday products that come in recycled packaging, and the fair trade seal.

As for my goal of getting my roommates to turn off the lights/waste less water, I'm working on it, and plan to continue, but it's a slow going process. I have gotten them to use the water saver function on the dishwasher, and have turned of the heated dry option.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


On the one hand, that mountain of plastic bottles sitting in the middle of who-knows-where in China isn't doing anyone any good, on the other, does recycling it into a bowl make it's general production that much better? While it does get to serve another function, and is essentially being recycled which is better than nothing, but it does nothing to change our consumerist nature. We're even creating more demand for a product that we shouldn't be producing in the first place. Will it be sustainable to change everyone's decorative buying habits towards recycled goods, or are we just giving more life to an industry that needs to go under?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Green Ad

In general, my target market is a WWU student, but when I was coming up with my design concept, I had my roommate in mind. He is a 21 year old only child, and an Economics major. He, and the people of my target audience, requires some gentle nudging to perform everyday tasks because for the first time in their lives, they do in fact have to do everything for themselves. I created my ad with the hopes that it would gently remind my audience of what needs to be done, without being insulting, or overly mothering. Instead it should hopefully come across as rational reminder of the benefits of turning off the lights, both directly to them, saving money, and to the world at large, less coal burned and fighting global warming.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

In season

While buying locally produced goods is one of my goals, and relatively easily maintainable, there is always the question as to what is going to be in season.
Since I'm no farmer, but I do like my fruits and veggies to be ripe and flavorful, I searched and found a few helpful sites.
The peak season map at epicurious is very popular (reposted on google all over the place), there is also Simple Steps, for those who like things that end in .org, or for the best local option Seasonal Cornucopia specifically targets the PNW

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Biomimic travel

      One of my biggest energy inefficiencies is the amount that I travel, so for my product design, I decided to look into incorporating nature into air travel. The animals inspiring my new design are the bottlenose dolphin,  kingfishers, and clams.
       Kingfishers are the head of my design, quite literally in fact.Kingfishers were an inspiration to the design of a new bullet train in japan, because the design of their beak helps reduce the amount of noise caused by the train breaking through the air around it. Applying this design to the nose of an airplane should have similar effects, making the plane quieter so it will be less irritating to those who live around the airport, and since it is, by nature, designed to reduce drag for the bird, it will also increase fuel efficiency, and possibly allow for greater plane speed, so you can get there even faster.
          All of the wings on the plane will reflect the shape of the fins of the bottle nose dolphin, which are the most efficient shape when considering hydrodynamics, which should be helpful in terms of flight because the speeds at which planes cut through the air make it seem like a firmer (more fluid like) substance.
            Clams will help with more interior aspects of the plane. Joinlox technology takes the sealing mechanism of clams, making it a cost effective way to join mechanics of the plane, along with being more cost efficient in terms of transport, handling and storage. Since this product is more flexible, it can allow the planes to have a more complex curved structures that was not previously possible.

             (On a side note the coloring of the plane reflects the coloring of the animals involved in it's design, specific to where on the plane their nature was incorporated)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Grameen Bank Assignment

                  Microcredit is a loan financed by a small institution/organization/ or individual, generally with the goal of helping poor families/individuals pay for the start-up costs of a business that will hopefully bring said parties of out poverty.  The most notable point of the microcredit loan is that it does not involve a legally binding contract or collateral to back the loan. They also tend to have more flexible payback structures, and since many of the loans come from non-profit ventures, defaulting on the loan simply means the organization doesn't get it's money back, not that the person getting the loan has to declare bankruptcy and pay a bunch of fines. Essentially, the person giving out the loan has no interest in making a profit, only in keeping the program going. In the case of the Grameen foundation, the person requesting a loan also has to join a group of borrowers.

This group requirement makes Grameen Decision number 16, "We shall take part in all social activities collectively" exceptionally easy to do, because there is already a social network in the community set up by the foundation, and nature of their loan contract. I also personally like decision 6, 7, 8, and 12, and while I find 11, "We shall not take any dowry at our sons' weddings, neither shall we give any dowry at our daughters wedding. We shall keep our centre free from the curse of dowry. We shall not practice child marriage," to be a positive concept I would hesitate to enforce it, because it tends to be a cultural practice, and while I do not approve of dowry's personally, I do believe that they can be an important part of an areas economic structure, and would require conscious and involved effort to get rid of, instead of just requesting that it not be practiced. Child marriage however, I do think should be gotten rid of. So if I were to star a branch of the Grameen foundation in bellingham, I would ask that my borrowers stick to 6,7,8,12 and 16, and would also try and find ways to discourage dowries without forcing a family to give up a large portion of their expected income, and would try to enforce that they don't practice child labor.

In order to start said branch, first obviously, I would have to talk to the Lighthouse Mission staff (which I actually did today, for a different class project, they're quite nice)  about supporting a local branch of the foundation, and getting a little office space from them to start running it out of. Hopefully they would allow me to start my campaign by letting me use their donor list to get some funding prospects started, and then from there I would try to get other local business to host a 'Grameen Night' where they donate a portion of their funds to the foundation, which would hopefully get a larger portion of the community interested int the foundation, and my particular cause with minimal investment in advertising.

Since I do actually plan on going into the non-profit sector I do have a particular goal in aiding  'fourth quadrant.' That is to say I would prefer to have the loans go to people who are starting sustainable businesses, not only in terms of the environment, but also sustainable in terms of providing work and useful education for their children. Because while it can be simple to help one person in need start making money, it only helps that one person, funding programs and initiatives that educate and provide opportunities for younger generations helps ensure that in the future, programs like the Grameen foundation won't have (at least as much) of a reason to exist.

Along with funding their particular course of action, I would also like to be able to help these entrepreneurs make sure that their business is as sustainable as possible, and hopefully get a list of guidelines for sustainability generated by Western students, staff, and Bellingham locals that would be separated by country, and then into regions, to give the people an idea as to how they could in the future, expand their operation to include more people (if possible).