JUNK Boat Makes It To Hawaii


After constructing a somewhat unusual vessel out of ordinary but not-maritime-friendly materials, Marcus Eriksen and Joel Paschal set out from Long Beach, California on June 1st to sail across the Pacific – well to Hawaii anyway.  Their mission was to draw attention to the problem of plastic debris, in particular plastic bags, which have become prevalent ocean debris.  The Algalita Marine Research Foundation’s project called “JUNK”, speaks for itself.

With a deck made from reclaimed sailboat masts, pontoons filled with 15,000 plastic bottles, and a cabin which had once been the fuselage of a Cessna aircraft, Eriksen and Paschal found it was slow going from the start.   They had an estimate of time required for the trip, but that estimate went out the window immediately when they found their ½ mile per hour speed was less than anticipated.  The raft could only travel downwind, and had some difficulty simply getting out to sea.  Storms encountered were hard on the vessel, and a significant rebuild was necessary only 100 miles off the California coast.  Supplies on board were stocked based on the estimated travel time of 6 weeks, and the crew had to cut back in order to accommodate the slower progress.

At one point, JUNK met up with Roz Savage, who was rowing from San Francisco to Hawaii in a very special boat, similarly for the cause of ocean debris.  They dined together and traded a water-making machine for some food, then returned to their own voyage.

Finally, after nearly 3 months at sea, Eriksen and Paschal arrived in Honolulu on August 27th, and were met by a crowd of a couple of dozen well-wishers.  “We made it!”, he exclaimed.  “Where’s the food?”

There was food, and beer, and leis.  And hot showers, soft beds, and a knowledge of having made a great sacrifice for an obscure but important cause.  So, next time you go to your local market, bring your cloth bags.  It really is a big problem.


QuietRevolution QR5 Brings Wind Power to Urban Locations


With the introduction of the Quiet Revolution QR5, two major deterrents to the use of wind power – undesirable visual aesthetics and noise – have been resolved. The elegantly twisted design of the QR5 is more reminiscent of a moving sculpture than the hardworking machine that it is. This helical design is also credited with virtually eliminating noise and vibration.


The compact size of a the Quiet Revolution QR5 – a little over 16 feet (5 meters) high and just under 10 feet (3 meters) in diameter – makes it easy to integrate into urban environments. The base unit adds about 29 feet (9 meters) to the overall height of an installation. Due to being constructed with a single moving part, maintenance is limited to an annual inspection. Construction professionals across the United Kingdom have responded enthusiastically to the QR5; specifying a diverse variety of projects with the turbine as a source of wind power.

Photos courtesy of Quiet Revolution

~ Deb 

Home Sweet – Shipping Containers – Home


Sometimes to think “out of the box”, you need to be in the box. Literally. Large metal shipping containers that are left empty at ports around the country are being repurposed into modern, eco-friendly housing. What began as an experiment for emergency housing has become a realistic – and less costly option – to traditional construction.  Peter DeMaria of DeMaria Design in Manhattan Beach, California has started a home building company, Logical Homes, which will offer nine models of container homes for construction around Southern California.  The homes will average about $150 to $200 per square foot; in comparison to $220 to $250 per square for traditional construction in the area.


Logical Homes models will range from 640 to 3,250 square feet and look very much like mid-century tract homes from the exterior. The corrugated metal shipping containers are enhanced with large windows and custom paint.  Energy-efficient appliances and bamboo flooring add to the eco-equation inside, while recycled denim insulation helps keep heating and cooling demands to a minimum.

New York-based architect and artist Adam Kalkin has been building homes with repurposed shipping containers since the year 2000. He states “ People have begun to think of this as viable instead of weird”. David Cross, founder of SG Blocks, a St. Louis container retrofitting firm, says that the advantage of the metal boxes being easier to assemble onsite reduces building costs by as much as 40% on some projects. In addition, the homes are exceptionally sturdy – a big selling point for homeowners located in areas with earthquakes, hurricanes and/or tornados. 

Photos courtesy of Logical Homes and MSN Real Estate 

~ Deb 

Alt Car Expo Is On!

The 3rd annual Alternative Energy and Transportation is coming to the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on September 26th and 27th.  Admission is free, and the exhibits will be more extensive than ever.  Relocating the show to the auditorium provides much more space in the exhibit hall.  The Alt Build Show was held there this year as well, and the experience was much improved over prior years in the smaller quarters of the airport hanger.  Obviously, green is on the minds of more and more of us, and we are excited about this year’s show.


One of the features of the Alt Car Show is the opportunity to go hands on with the vehicles.  Many of the vehicles on display are also available for a test drive.  Last year, we drove the Honda Civic NGV, the natural gas powered Civic.  We really wanted to ride the Vectrix electric motorcycle, which was a very popular attraction in the demonstration area.  We plan to do that this year.  It should be a beautiful day and a really good time!


And the Australian Design Award Goes To: Eulo Grey Water Recycling Kitchen Sink


A working prototype designed by Ainslie Asher of Australia could help redefine what we expect from a kitchen sink. The award-winning Eulo Grey Water Recycling Sink is a self-contained unit with a three-filter system designed to clean water recycled from the kitchen sink.



Step One: Used water passes through a particle strainer to filter large solid waste particles. Step Two: Used water passes through a gravity-activated carbon filter. Step Three: An ultraviolet light kills germs and bacteria. The filtered water is then sent to the dishwasher and after it’s used to clean the dishes, it goes out to irrigate the garden – bringing water conservation efforts to a peak performance. And bonus – the system includes an option for adding dish washing detergent inline. If produced, the Eulo Grey Water Recycling Sink will retail for about $3,000.

Photos courtesy of Australian Student Design Awards


Solar Taxi Takes Solar Global

Louis Palmer of Switzerland took his concern about the environment a bit more seriously than most of us.  In July of 2007, he set off on a trip around the world in a most unusual vehicle.


 The Solar Taxi is a custom made car that is fully electric, and tows a trailer outfitted with PV solar panels from Q Cells.  Its battery is a Swiss made salt, ceramic, and nickel unit that is a little different than those we’re starting to see for use in electric vehicles. It may not be the most elegant ride out there, but Palmer has something to say:

“Admittedly, as a regular citizen, I cannot change the world but I can demonstrate to the world just how dire the global climate situation has become…”

He further states:

“The solar taxi should rekindle hope and a zest for life, set an example to counteract resignation and stimulate reflection. And show that every single one of us can take a step towards preserving our planet.”

Solar Taxi is in Toronto right now.  Follow its progress at www.solartaxi.com.



Governor Palin’s Environmentalism???!!

Check out this post on treehugger.com“A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location. I’m not one though who would attribute it to being man-made. 

 Palin’s quote


Eco Underfoot: Marmoleum Offers Distinctive Color and Design


Marmoleum natural linoleum is extremely durable, available in a large variety of colors and – is eco-friendly. The linoleum is composed of renewable materials: linseed oil, pine tree rosin, wood flour, jute and ecologically responsible pigments. Limestone is also used, and according to the company site is “found all over the world in enormous quantities”. The flooring is calendered onto natural jute backing, rather than polyester, which is commonly used to back tile. 


Time enhances this organic product as exposure to air hardens the material and increases its durability. Even though Marmoleum hardens, it remains quiet and comfortable underfoot.  The unique aesthetic of the flooring is achieved through the combination of multiple colors to “create a single colorway”. Color palettes range from calming, subdued neutrals to exciting, vibrant contrasts; offering a design solution for just about any room.


Photos courtesy of Forbo Marmoleum 

Energy Film Provides Inexpensive, Energy-saving Window Insulation


Budget-friendly and easy to apply, transparent Energy Film helps to decrease heat loss through windows in the winter and block incoming solar heat in the summer – without reducing the amount of natural light a room receives. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “an estimated $30 billion or more of energy is lost per year through single pane windows”.


Installation of Energy Film requires three simple steps: 1) measuring, 2) applying a mild dish soap and water mixture and 3) removing the excess moisture with a squeegee. For larger windows, multiple sheets of this inexpensive window insulation can be applied side by side for a nearly seamless application. To accommodate unusually shaped or small windows, Energy Film can be trimmed to fit with a utility knife. Sheet size include 24” x 48’, 36” x 48”. 48” x 84” as well as a 49” x 100” roll.


Energy Film can be purchase online or at your neighborhood Home Depot. Photos courtesy of Energy Film.

Method Homes Green Prefab Cabin in Washington


By employing a team of expert craftsmen to factory construct the Method Cabin, Method Homes was able to create a prototype in record time while reducing construction waste by 50%. Built in just three months, this modern prefab cabin with a uniquely woodsy appeal is located in Seattle, Washington.


 With a target of achieving LEED for Homes 2.0 gold, Method Homes utilized stylish and sustainable materials as well as sustainable building practices.  In the kitchen: custom (and renewable) bamboo cabinets are topped with Ecotop, a fabulous new material composed of equal parts bamboo fiber and recycled wood.  The interior was painted with Yolo Colorhouse no VOC paints and all lumber is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified. Warmboard supplies radiant heat, while low-flow fixtures conserve water. The metal roof is durable, contains at least 25% recycled content and is also a recyclable material. The cabin is also prewired to adapt to a solar installation. Want to check it out for yourself? It’s for rent on VRBO.


Photos courtesy of Method Homes and Lannie Boesiger