WHEN IS ENOUGH TOO MUCH? Well, I’ve got a few recent media-oversaturation-gone-rampant examples, bete noires, if you will, in the Black Keys’ “Gold on the Ceiling” (a cool track, I readily admit) being used as outro theme music + imagery incessantly during NCAA March Madness college basketball coverage to the point where it’s now only infuriating noise to me (and really, truly, I like these guys!), and an annoying omnipresent promo bug (not Black Keys related) futzing up the stellar high-def images of Discovery Channel’s new Frozen Planet series about the arctic and antarctic—this lower-right-situated onscreen bug, complete with distracting motion, was for another one of the network’s shows they’re pushing, which I can’t even remember the name of and wouldn’t watch anyway as its promotion just about ruined the fantastic experience of Frozen Planet‘s two-hour premiere!

So yes, enough can quite often be too much and a downright counterproductive media buy or tool in a world where we are already overwhelmed with the ubiquity of advertising, from our can’t-be-without, continuing-to-multiply mobile devices to entertainment events where sideline billboards constantly morph to increase their shill factor, competing with the game, the very escapist nature of which we lose when Bud Light Platinum looms large again and again in cascading digital-display rotation as our proffered beverage of choice. More-is-better, beat-’em-to-submission media buyers, can we please please please just give it a rest, already?

The story collection from which "Sales Pitch" comes

In Philip K. Dick’s short story “Sales Pitch,” all the way back from the gray-flannel-suit era of 1954 but posited in the far-flung future, our weary, bettle-browed protagonist, Ed Morris, is assaulted by in-his-face advertising on his grueling commute home from Ganymede to Terra: “Ads waited on all sides,” Dick practically sneers, “he steered a careful course, dexterity born of animal desperation, but not all could be avoided. Despair seized him. The outline of a new audio-visual ad was already coming into being.”

Annoying ads and robot salesmen continue the onslaught once he’s at home, of course, and, you’d hope, where he’d finally be able to relax. Morris seeks an exit, literally out of our solar system, to a 100-years’-behind-the-present world: “We’ll have to get used to a simpler life,” he tells his wife. “The way our ancestors lived.” Lots more happens here, but suffice it to say, it does not end well and the story is a downer, depressing parable.

Back to the present. Yeah, there are real ways (as well as well-articulated movements) to “simplify” or avoid this aforementioned saturation bombing, but when you do want to imbibe, to interact with cultural “products” or artistically driven manifestations in the pop arena or learn something refreshingly new or even just chill out and watch some hoop (and who doesn’t, even if it’s not college basketball?), do you need to keep the remote, headphones or blinders handy?

Here’s where I think we, the end-users, tune things out (like talking aloud over those annoying in-movie-theater commercials—Hey, didn’t we just drop $12 apiece to be here for purely entertainment purposes?!*) and muck up the sought-after results, the ROI, if you will, of the media buyers and their clients’ sales pitches. Yep, enough is by far too much here, and unlike Dick’s character Ed Morris, there is no off-planet escape to Centaurus, no matter how doomed the move.

On the marketers’ side, it’s an appeal to think things thoroughly through, carefully consider the time and place for each buy, especially when pondering bunching things up to beat back the competition and win a war of attrition with the consumer. In the green space, where treading lightly is even more highly valued (or has the appearance to be), there’s even a greater danger of backfiring and really irking your intended target market.

Nevertheless, yes, I still enjoy the Black Keys (“Gold on the Ceiling” not so much, despite its killer organ plunking and all-around catchiness) and plan on continuing to watch Frozen Planet (but not whatever show they “bugged” it with). Careful, select navigation and the learned ability to “detune” come with the territory, and in direct regard to these sales pitches, we ultimately vote, that is, have our say, with our wallets and online clicks.

Allen

*Or as Geoff Dyer notes in his new book, Zona, on ADD-enabling, hyperbolic coming attractions, which, in essence, are Hollywood-industrial complex advertisements for its own (often dire) products: “[T]his has become some of the most debased wonder in the history of the earth. It means explosions, historical epics in which the outcome of the Battle of Hastings is reversed by the arcane CGI prowess of Merlin the Magician, it means five-year-old children turning suddenly into snarling devils, it means wrecking cars and reckless driving, it means lots of noise, it means that I have to time my arrival carefully (twenty minutes at least) after the advertised programme time if I am to avoid all this stuff which, if one were exposed to it for the full hour and a half, would cause one’s capacity for discernment to drop by fifty percent (or, conversely, one’s ability to tolerate stuff like this to increase a hundredfold). [...] It means that there are more and more things on the street, in shops, on-screen and on telly from which one has to avert one’s ears and eyes.” [Emphasis added]

THE MAD SUGAR POP KULTCHUR RUSH OF ALL THINGS NATURAL GONE FERAL OR WERE-* seeking revenge on humankind for past, present or future injustices manifests itself realistically in John Vaillant’s The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival. The book, in great detail, recounts the December 1997 fatal attacks and eventual killing of a “vengeful” Amur (or Siberian) tiger in the Primorye Territory in Russia’s Far East.

It’s a harrowing tale on numerous fronts: from the point of view of the region’s post-perestroika destitute manual laborers and loggers, of the various families trying to make ends meet at the unforgiving taiga’s edge, of the underfunded governmental organizations and individuals trying to help them while “managing” the tigers, and of the Amur tigers themselves, largely endangered and preyed upon by feckless poachers looking to cash in across the nearby Chinese border.

Vaillant, the Vancouver, BC, author who previously penned the heart-wrenching, deservedly much-admired Golden Spruce, imbues The Tiger with a fierce, fiery energy and dramatic narrative flow that reads novel-like at times, while at others like a top-drawer fact-driven piece from Smithsonian, Nat Geo or The New Yorker. The interweaved fates of the human characters and the shock-and-awe-inspiring tigers drive the book, delivering its timely message of “We’re all in this together.” Vaillant writes:

Panthera tigris and Homo sapiens are actually very much alike, and we are drawn to many of the same things, if for slightly different reasons. Both of us demand large territories; both of us have prodigious appetites for meat; both of us require control over our living space and are prepared to defend it, and both of us have an enormous sense of entitlement to the resources around us. If a tiger can poach on another’s territory, it probably will, and so, of course, will we. A key difference, however, is that tigers take only what they need.

Instead of beating us over the head with this message, Vaillant lets it slowly develop while allowing the story to unfold, its many larger-than-life characters sharing tales of the taiga and its inhabitants, the tigers, Russia both past and present, and much more that draws a portrait of a fragile enclave on the chill edge of a teetering world.

“If there is enough land, cover, water, and game to support a keystone species like [the tiger],” Vaillant writes, “it implies that all the creatures beneath it are present and accounted for, and that the ecosystem is intact. In this sense, the tiger represents an enormous canary in the biological coal mine.” Vaillant goes on to report that, as of December 2009, fewer than 400 tigers may remain in the Russian Far East (more than 75,000 were reported to having lived in Asia last century; this number has since dipped some 95 percent).

Yes, The Tiger is a real-life bloodcurdling thriller about an Amur tiger seemingly bent on revenge, relentlessly going after a poacher who’d crossed his path and foolishly invited his wrath (like a fearsome Udeghe tale featuring the mythical tiger-like monster/malevolent spirit Amba)—in that, it’s a pretty unputdownable read. It’s also a cautionary tale about the dangers of our Anthropocene age, as Vaillant has it, “characterized by increasingly dense concentrations of human beings living in permanent settlements on a landscape that has been progressively altered and degraded in order to support our steadily growing population”—in that, too, it’s a pretty unputdownable, and eminently compelling, read.

Tiger Protection Efforts in Primorye: Organizations to Support
Udeghe Legend National Park
Phoenix Fund
Tigris Foundation
21st Century Tiger
Wildlife Conservation Society

Allen

*Yes, indeed, I’m talking vampires, werewolves, piranhas and zombies—sure, why not include our dear departed loved ones who, instead of silently nurturing the Earth six feet under, are reanimated, irascible and, of course, hungry for brains!


“Our challenge is to make radical, challenging green stuff that sets new standards normal (it is not enough to make normal stuff seem greener).”—John Grant, The Green Marketing Manifesto

GOING GREEN HITS ITS STRIDE with the bright and buoyant, fast and fabulous Brooks Green Silence racing flats—”racing flats” are performance/competition running shoes for all you non-Runner’s-World-subscribing-I-live-to-trim-seconds-from-my-miles normal folks out there. These foot rockets go a long way (potentially literally) in proving that cradle-to-cradle eco-conscious design doesn’t have to compromise one iota to deliver a championship-calibre performance. Waterproof/breathable/ultra-lightweight hats off to Brooks for bringing these kicks to the finicky (read, I readily admit, elitist) marketplace of outdoor/sports-geek gear.

So what did Brooks do and how did the Green Silence perform when it came to race time? Let me share.

It all started several years ago when Brooks announced it was going to create a truly eco-friendly shoe, utilizing more eco-conscious design, manufacturing processes and sustainable materials; this may not be the full-blown, cross-the-board commitment of, say, a Patagonia (see Patagonia’s “Footprint Chronicles,” for example), but it’s a sizable DfE (Design for Environment) stride in the right direction. In 2008 Brooks launched the BioMoGo midsole, “the world’s first biodegradable running shoe midsole that breaks down 50 times faster than traditional midsoles in an enclosed, active landfill.” That same year Brooks also debuted a new shoe box made of fully biodegradable, 100-percent recycled paperboard. The Green Silence soon followed.

You can take a quick interactive tour of the Green Silence on the Brooks website, but here are the salient facts:

  • Constructed with just 48 percent as many parts as comparable shoes
  • More than 75 percent of the shoe’s materials are post-consumer recycled
  • All dyes, colorants and adhesives are nontoxic, with VOCs lowered by 65 percent
  • Midsoles, collar foams and sock liners are completely biodegradable

What you end up with is a lightweight racing flat—it weighs just 6.9 oz.—that features a minimal 8 mm offset, or drop, from heel to toe: you’re not running barefoot, by any stretch, but you’re low to the ground, and thanks to the compression-molded BioMoGo midsole, I found, well-cushioned. Just add human accelerant and you feel propelled forward by warm jets of eco-conscious good will!

Which gets me to my trial-by-fire race: the annual mid-May Pole Pedal Paddle relay race in Bend, Oregon. This crazy, fun, challenging event features six legs, starting with a downhill skier on Mt. Bachelor who slaps happy with a cross-country skier who fist bumps a bicyclist who quick taps a runner who passes speedy karma to a kayaker/canoer who finally lends spiritual propulsion to a sprinter who then crosses the finish line at the Les Schwab Ampitheater in Bend’s Old Mill District. Sound fun? It is. This year, the PPP’s 34th, had the most participants in its history, 3,005. The best time was posted by Marshall Greene of Bend at 1:44:27.

I was part of one of three teams from Journeys, a highly recommended wine bar and pub in Portland’s Multnomah Village neighborhood, and took part in both running legs. My Green Silence were anything but (and if that vibrant, asymmetrical gold and red color scheme doesn’t work for you, Brooks has more colors in the works), and easily got me under 6-minute miles on a course that included road, sidewalk, some trail, a few small climbs—and all at an average elevation of around 3,625 feet. The Green Silence fit comfortably, provided quite adequate support, created no race issues and had a springiness to them that made running a total pleasure—they totally kicked it. I also tried a little trail run with them, but unless you’re on smooth dirt only, I definitely wouldn’t recommend them in this capacity—nor would Brooks, I’m sure.

Way to go, Brooks, in setting a new standard in radical, challenging green stuff and truly embracing the DfE ethic. It may be “Silent steps to a Greener future,” but I want to make a lot of noise about it now. Looking forward to my next race in the Green Silence.

Allen

“THE ARCTIC IS CARRYING THE DEEP WOUNDS OF THE WORLD,” asserts Gretel Ehrlich in her elegiac In the Empire of Ice: Encounters in a Changing Landscape [Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2010]. She continues: “Wounds that aren’t healing. Bands of ice and tundra that protected Inuit people for thousands of years, ensuring a continuity of language and lifeways and a meta-stable climate, have been assaulted from above and below, inside and out. Pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, the crushing demands of sovereignty and capitalism, war and religion have severed the strong embrace of ice.”

Her timely, highly recommended book clashes great beauty (“The poet Joseph Brodsky said that the purpose of evolution was beauty,” she notes amid myriad descriptions of awe-inspiring Arctic allure) with dispassionate science (“The paradise called the Holocene is ending, and a new epoch, tentatively named the Anthropocene, is beginning—an era when climate will be forced against its cyclical ‘instinct’ to become cold again”). It’s this clash, really a jarring shift, like ice shelves themselves colliding, then violently crumbling as they part, that infuses Ehrlich’s text with its vigorous and heartrending power.

In her telling observations, she is as unrelenting as the melting ice: “Perhaps the term climate change should be changed to climate care, since it is carelessness that is bringing so many changes to life as we know it and most likely will bring much of the life of humans and megafauna on this planet to what may be the end”; or try: “When we lose an ecosystem we are losing our thumbprint uniqueness, our way of knowing the world and our strategies of survival.”

As tocsinlike and grim as this may sound, and is, Ehrlich also celebrates native ingenuity, creativity—primarily as witnessed through storytelling, myth and art—and toughened spirit—the will to survive, to balance a hierarchy of needs and to bask rather contentedly in the determinate beauty of a (still) ice-locked natural world—a little of the noble savage perhaps, but I’d never for a moment confuse Ehrlich with Rousseau. Read More »

BP: OBLOQUY AT PRESENT FOR CERTAIN, BUT ALSO “BEYOND PETROLEUM”—WHERE WE NEED TO BE, a point violently underscored by the epic tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico that continues to unfold. And it’s wryly interesting, timingwise, how this follows hot on the heels of a ho-hum Earth Day anniversary and Obama’s call to resume domestic offshore oil exploration to bolster U.S. energy independence—reconsidered and cancelled post-Deepwater Horizon explosion, which, lest we forget, cost the lives of eleven crew members.

There’s also been a sizable wave made in the climate energy bill debate (see the New York Times story “Gulf Oil Spill Threatens to Rearrange Washington’s Climate Agenda”). Ah, our constant craving for energy to (em)power our lives, particularly in its crudest form, a liquid scream slithering from our distant past, hidden away far beneath the Earth’s surface, ornery oleaginous ghosts and amorphous liquified-fossil hobgoblins from yesteryear.

BP: Beyond petroleum is the brand tag and theme developed by Ogilvy & Mather for British Petroleum. “We want to build one of the world’s great brands by building an organization devoted to revolutionizing the world’s relationship with energy,” Lord John Browne, then-CEO of BP, was quoted as saying in Alina Wheeler’s Designing Brand Identity (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2003). How hollow those words now sound as the Gulf rupture threatens to surpass the Exxon Valdez Prince William Sound spill of two decades ago. Adding fuel, a senior BP executive informed members of Congress at a closed-door briefing yesterday that the well could conceivably spill as much as 60,000 barrels a day of oil—ten times the current estimate. Can this beast be stopped?

Getting beyond petroleum, honestly and realistically, is where we need to be. And safely harnessing new forms of energy in the amounts required to power our growing, demanding, let’s face it, insatiable world is no easy matter. That we already know. There is no silver bullet. It’s a challenge—perhaps the challenge of our age—that the greatest minds must apply themselves to and solve. Soon.

Humans have achieved so much, as have we squandered. As the great blob inexorably approaches the Gulf coastline, and authorities attempt to burn off yet another patch, and a giant steel trap is readied for containment like in some 1950s monster movie, we know we’re running out of time. Incentive enough?

Allen

FARMVILLE DOESN’T COUNT. Nor does weed whacking or hoeing with Wii (if such a thing could be). But what’s going on over at Shared Earth—the Earth Day-launched online organization connecting farmers and gardeners with people with farming/gardening space (Shared Earth prosaically calls them “land owners”)—has exceptional appeal as an inspired venture that truly connects earth, that is, soil or dirt, with the thoroughly modern, Internet-enabled PC. Consider it a promising marriage of old school and new, a fresh kind of dirty, with similar “share” ventures and their best practices pointing the way: Craigslist, Angie’s List, Freecycle, Backpage and UrbanGardenShare, to name a few.

Shared Earth, on its homepage, puts it this way: “Land owners get to make more efficient use of their land. Gardeners and farmers get access to land. Our community is built on the premise that we can create a greener, more organic and efficient world one garden at a time.” The organization, free to join at this point, invites you to create either a garden or gardener profile, which then gets entered into a searchable listing. It’s kind of like an online dating service but for the gardening set—and you don’t even have to enter your astrological sign, favorite happy hour tipple or profess your undying love for Beverley Nichols, Wendell Berry, Barbara Kingsolver or Michael Pollan.

What you do enter is, if you’re a gardener, a headline and description about your gardening, what you can grow, your years of experience (neophytes out there, you can select “none”), how the work and compensation will play out, and if you can provide your own tools. If you have a garden, you enter a headline and description about your garden, its size (the pulldown menu here goes from less than 50 feet to 150 acres), if it’s ready to plant or needs some assistance, if you’re going to help and when gardeners can access your space. That’s all there is to it. You’re in the system, ready to connect and share some earth.

Shared Earth has partnered with the Sustainable Food Center in Austin, Texas, and the Coastal Conservation League in South Carolina, and is looking for additional partners and volunteers. It’s the brainchild of entrepreneur/venture capitalist Adam Dell who connected his land with a gardener online for his eureka!/voila! moment. As I write this, Shared Earth’s website proclaims, “28,079,280 square feet shared,” which to me is much better than “blankety-blank burgers served” any day of the week. There isn’t an imposing number of listings up yet, but they range in location from Brisbane and Nottingham to Little Rock and Onalaska (that’s in Washington state, BTW). And, please keep in mind, this Shared Earth thing is just getting started.

Farmville, Schmarmville—perhaps it’s time to get outside and try the real thing.

Allen

YOU KNOW YOU’RE GETTING SOMEWHERE WHEN EVEN LOVABLE OL’ SPONGEBOB’S FULLY ABOARD. And when we’re talking venerable Earth Day, celebrating its forty-year anniversary this year, who isn’t? And if not, why not? And I say this with ambivalence as the mossy bandwagoneers are out in great force, swabbing many a deck, some probably not at all deserving, with a bright green sheen. But in this testy time of tea-party politics and residual Climategate blowback, we’ll take any heightened eco-awareness and Earth-directed cheerleading we can get. That said, you’ll find here an Earth Day list of things to do that you can do anytime; further regarding SpongeBob, his Earth Day special, “SpongeBob’s Last Stand,” airs Thursday at 8 pm/7 pm central.

#1 Spend some time off the grid.
You know, unplug, unbuckle and set yourself free … for a bit. The rat race/almighty hamster wheel will still be there when you get back, but perhaps you’ll have heard an inspirational songbird, meditated on world peace or the price of wheat, thought about family or friends you’ve been neglecting of late, imagined a cumulous the mighty prow of an ancient vessel or majestic whale’s tale, or walked a silent path on your lunch hour sans cell, iPod or other mechanical distraction. Feels good, doesn’t it?

#2 Start a great green book.
Okay, perhaps not one of your own devising, but one that will motivate and inspire and spur a dialogue with others. Here’re a couple candidates: Bill McKibben‘s got a new one, Eaarth (find out just what he’s got in mind with that extra “a”); James William Gibson‘s eco-fabulous book, A Reenchanted World, is just out in paperback; or revisit/discover a classic from Muir, Thoreau, Snyder, Carson, Leopold, Abbey, Berry, Han Shan, et al.

#3 Engage a stranger in a face-to-face conversation.
Forget—at least for a while—texting, online social media, e-mail and that ubiquitous cell, and say, HELLO, my name is ________. What do you think about _______? Pick a topic, any topic, but it’s Earth Day and its fortieth anniversary, so why not make it about our planet, ecology, the lives of plants and animals, what Eyjafjallajökull’s eruption, and resultant disruption, says about the world of today?

#4 Join a new environmental or socially responsible group and volunteer some time and/or money.
With the rampant economic upheavals that continue unabated (kind of like Eyjafjallajökull Clash of the Titansed-up to mega-Kraken proportions), even a soupçon of support can help. And there are a myriad of exceptional organizations out there fighting the good fight, locally, nationally, globally. Initiate your own web search or feel free to hit our Tilth Creative Collaborative list.

#5 Engage in some “Negawatt revolutionary” activity.
We’re not advocating some sort of apostasic militant anarchy here, but really just a simple rethink of the way you go about some of your everyday business: turning off lights when not in use, replacing traditional lightbulbs with CFLs, driving less, eating more that’s grown locally, etc. See our “The Negawatt Revolution Is Here and Now!” and “Energy Savings in Action” posts for lots more actionable details on creating these units of energy saved.

#6 Start planning your next holiday/vacation with eco-friendly considerations.
Try visiting a place like Glacier National Park rather than faraway Paris this summer. And if you can get there as fuel efficiently as possible, please do so. Glacier too far away? Check a regional gazetteer and visit somewhere closer to home.

#7 Plan your garden or start a garden for the first time.
What better way to get involved with the Earth than literally to get involved with earth! It’s still early to start planting, but never too early to start planning your new garden. What kind of veggies will thrive and where best in your plot of land (or community garden, if you lack the space yourself)? Ever try raised beds? What about an energy-efficient greenhouse DIY kit? If you’re in that new-to-gardening camp and hungry for tips, check out Oregonian scribe Kym Pokorny’s “Grow your own veggies: How to start an edible garden” story.

#8 Think “precycle” when it comes to what goes on your shopping list.
The less packaging the better, so keep that in mind when you’re getting ready to shop. I’m not advocating you go entirely bulk or buy everything in concentrate, but do you need a plastic bag for those three avocados (to, what, stop a border skirmish?)? a noncompostable container for those sprouts or to-go bagel and lox? pre-washed, already-chopped stir-fry veggies in a plastic container (c’mon, it’s not an insurmountable obstacle to buy the ingredients individually and prep them yourself)?

#9 Get directly involved with the Earth Day 2010 Campaign.
The Earth Day 2010 Action Center‘s the place to be. You can commit to Billion Acts of Green, RSVP to the Climate Rally at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., taking place April 25, learn about campus and environmental arts events and programs, plus plenty more. You can also connect via Facebook.

#10 Use at least one “alternative” mode of transportation—and make a habit of it.
Can you walk, jog or bike to work or where you need to get to at some point during the day or evening? Can you leave the car at home and take the bus, light rail or turn that client meeting into a teleconference with PDFs shared electronically rather than paper printouts? Can you imagine a world with less smog and less stressful congestion? See our Green Dynamind post on bike sharing, “Cycle to Work—It’s the Law!,” for more on progressive thinking when it comes to transportation.

#11 Make every day Earth Day!
Arguably the no-brainer edict of the century, I believe, and an obvious embodiment of the golden rule, but sometimes acknowledgement, leading to perspective, awareness and action, can be everything.

Allen

CHANGE YOUR WORLD IN AN HOUR—certainly a hyperbolic statement to the nth degree and redolent of the worst of false-claim late-night TV commercials, but if you consider your home your world to an appreciable degree, and notable home energy savings a worthy endeavor, Energy Trust of Oregon’s Home Energy Review walkthrough, which takes only an hour and doesn’t cost a dime, may have you gallantly declaiming such a phrase. Plus, and we’ll get to this shortly, you get free stuff. And, as the Energy Trust website points out, “Up to 60 percent of energy used to heat and cool homes can be lost due to leaky ducts, inefficient equipment, poor insulation and air leaks.”

Energy Trust of Oregon, an independent nonprofit organization “dedicated to helping Oregonians benefit from saving energy and tapping renewable resources,” works in association with Portland General ElectricPacific PowerNW Natural and Cascade Natural Gas to help save more than $440 million in energy costs; this includes plenty of residential $$$/energy-saving assistance and guidance. The trust’s website is chockfull of useful information, and our “energy advisor,” who led the in-home review, pointed us toward the site numerous times for additional facts, figures and ways to continue the energy-saving dialogue.

Conservation Services Group (CSG) actually carries out the reviews for Energy Trust of Oregon as a “program management contractor.” The Massachusetts-headquartered group, which has been around since 1984 and has 20 offices and nearly 600 employees around the country, promotes energy efficiency, conservation and clean energy technologies, and works with utilities, public agencies, homeowners and local communities. Read More »

I’VE GOT A “MARCH MADNESS” CONFESSION TO MAKE: I’m doing pretty poorly with my first-round Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament choices (the eponymous bracketology in action here); as I write, I’m a paltry 15 and 8, and the day’s not done yet. Plus, my alma mater’s out again in the first round: SDSU falling to Tennessee 62-59 in a Midwest Regional rumble (Pete Thamel described the game as “low on aesthetics and high on missed shots” in The New York Times).

That said, and with scribble-scrabbled brackets flying madly about and determined bracketologists of all stripes filling out and updating their nope, nope, you’re wrong, this is the way it’s gonna be! brackets in sports bars, cafes, restaurants, waiting rooms, on public transportation, in the office, at home and abroad, what better time to consider ecologically sound printing, especially when it comes to such ephemeral, utilitarian uses.

Your best bet, of course, is to forego printing entirely and do it all electronically, on your computer or smart phone/handheld device—yep, there are numerous apps for that! (And I’m hoping Apple’s iPad, if and when widely adopted, can also help a great deal in this print-free, paper-saving realm—plus give journalism, and the quality writers who work in that realm, a boost. Go iPad, go!)

But if you opt for print, perhaps consider yourself strictly old school and want to have that physical piece—a bit tattered, torn and pilsner stained—one you can lord over friends and, well, hoopster frenemies, consider an environmentally friendly font that uses less ink. Case in point: the Ecofont. What the Ecofont lacks in creativity when it comes to its name it makes up for in its simple design: small holes in each letter, which don’t detract from readability; and it’s also sans serif, which means less whorls and curlicues that look nice but require more ink to adorn the page. The Ecofont typeface is open source and free to download and use. Free fonts, not all of them necessarily eco, are also available at ECO Fonts. It’s a little thing, unquestionably, but when applied in volume can make a big difference.

A couple of other tools to consider are PrintWhatYouLike, which helps you optimize a webpage for printing (so you don’t print all that extraneous junk, which can go on for pages!), and Greenprint, freeware which again helps optimize for printing but also works well with non-webpage sources. I also recommend you make smart paper choices; see our Green Dynamind post, “For (All) the Trees: The Forest Stewardship Council,” for more information.

And as for “ecological bracketology,” I’ve got Kansas winning it all this year, on the court and on my laptop + handheld device.

Allen

PrintTHE IN-AGAIN TERM “NEGAWATT” CONJURES ELECTRO-DYNAMIC VISIONS of both simple solutions that hearken back to pre-combustible-engine horse-and-buggy times and complex cyclopean constructs more aligned with sci-fi pie-in-the-sky dreams of a better, brighter tomorrow. Both visions are valid, both consider energy conservation from a near and far view, that is, a personal and societal perspective, and both are by no means mutually exclusive.

Considered one way, as Planet Green relates, “the greenest power of all is the Negawatt—the power you don’t use. The first thing you should be doing is just doing less, investing in CFL and LED lighting, turning off switches, junking your fridge if it is older than 10 years, and hanging your laundry on a line.”

Another way has it, and this from Thomas Friedman’s “The Energy Internet: When IT Meets ET” chapter of Hot, Flat, and Crowded, is a future realization of the “E.C.E.” (Energy-Climate Era) through a vast, interconnected, back-and-forth smart grid—this is the grandiose view from space, where “an Energy Internet would enable you, me, and your next-door neighbor to do extraordinary things by way of saving energy [negawatt = a unit of energy saved] and using clean power efficiently, and do them around the clock, all the time, whether or not you’re thinking about it.” This is also where individuals, organizations both public and private, big business and government(s) will have to agree on an executable plan (or many), strategy and tactics that efficaciously move forward such a grid, not get tied up in endless red tape, petty squabbling and boardroom fisticuffs that lead to insurmountable impasse and failure. Read More »