Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Outside Lands Music Festival@San Francisco

I'd been to Outside Lands Music Festival at Golden Gate Park to see Radiohead.

I found quite some "green features" in this festival. Most impressive was the food they sold at the site. The menu was usual suspects such as hamburgers, hot dogs, crepes.... but they used good quality meat, buns etc. Even the ketchup was organic! Good quality junk food.

Solar-generated cell phone charging service.

I have always been hoping that we will eventually be charging our cell phones all solar.

I've been to other music festival in Golden Gate Park before, and I already saw this. There are two types of garbage bins on site: Landfill and Recycling. This is a very good idea because it really make people stop and think what they are about to toss. As a result they could threw more responsibly.
All the plates/cups/folks..... were biodegradable so as they could go to the recycling bin.
And there was some specifics on the bin as to what to put in the garbage bin.

Overall, it was very green but I had a big complaint!


Golden Gate Park is in the middle of the city of San Francisco. They advocated very strongly that we should take public transportation. Sounds very green. I totally agree with the concept.

BUT the reality didn't catch up. Local public transportation (Muni=bus) was almost unavailable to most of us! Too many people and not enough services. I just had to see off Munis by Munis full of passengers that even didn't stop at the station I was waiting.

We had to walk almost two hours to get any line available.

Why was there no coordination between Muni and the organizer? It was too obvious that the demand (number of riders) would be way too high than the supply that the regular service could offer. It didn't look like they increased the number of services.
If the organizer couldn't strike a deal with Muni, couldn't they offer some shuttle bus services at least to BART stations?

San Francisco always leads in being green. Please come up with smart solution for transportation. I felt like I was going through some punishment when I was walking in the middle of the night, tired, freezing and desparate to catch a bus.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Mugicha -Barley tea

I am trying not to buy beverages to reduce my carbon footprint. Beverages need to be transported long way, and need to be refrigerated for sales and consumption. A lot of energy. And then, all these glass/plastic bottles.....

So, alternative solution. For summer, I make barley tea in a big pitcher.
Sugar free, caffeine free, no calories.

Pretty healthy. And not expensive at all.

How does it taste?

Well, as a beer lover, I would say that barley tea tastes like Guinness without alcohol and bubbles. Eerrhh, so basically you took all the good stuff from Guinness!?

Honestly, it might taste weird for the first try. But if you get used to it, you will like it. I like it because I don't have to feel that yukky feeling in my month after I drink sweet drinks.

Direction: Find mugicha or barley tea at Japanese or Asian grocery store. They are usually in bags, so you just have to boil water and throw a bag into it and wait for a couple of hours. Some even don't require the water to be boiled, but I believe tap water tastes better when boiled.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Drying index

Luckily it's not deadly hot in Northern California this summer. I only have to put the air on on for a few hours in the afternoon/evening before sunset. It's totally okay to live without air in the morning and at night.

When the air is on, I often check outside temperature and breeze to see if I can turn the air off. I just realize I need to be alert to the change of outside air if I want to minimize the use of air conditioner.
At the end of the day, it's not all about replacing air conditioner with energy efficient one; it's also about keeping an eye on and knowing the weather, and to be able to react to the change swiftly.

One of the interesting thing about using drying rack for laundry is that you become alert to the local weather. Especially in the country like Japan where sun-dry is the major way to dry clothes, people keep an eye on the weather much more seriously. It's especially because it rains much more frequently down there.

The picture is Japanese weather forecast with "drying index". It shows how the weather is suitable for drying and I think it's the combination of radiation, humidity, wind and the chance of rain. This is one of the way to pay close attention to the weather and use solar energy efficiently.

Likewise, we could reduce the use of energy, water or probably something more in various ways by understanding local weather better. For example, we shouldn't need drying index in California because it's always sunny and dry, but I think local radio/TV could report the temperature on hourly basis to let the people know when to turn the air conditioner off. (typical Mediterranean, the temperature here surges/drops drastically within a couple of hours)

This is something we easily forget when we indulge ourselves in 24/7 air conditioned building.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Going dryer-free

One of the things I am hoping to advocate in my blog is stopping using clothes dryer. Dryer is the second largest energy consuming home appliances only to fridge.

And we already have solution to get rid of it -- use drying racks.

I've wrote some posts about laundry, but those are one of the most unpopular pages in my blog. And I know why - drying rack is time consuming.

But hey, if you are so into renewable energy, why don't you talk about most easily available renewable energy??? It's MANPOWER. Our body is designed to some works anyway. There is no reason why we shouldn't count it toward renewable energy to be greener.

There is another important reason why dryer is not good; it damages textile. In Japan, a lot of mesh bags are offered for washing machine. Some are for under wears (left pic) and some are large enough to hold several clothes (below pic). You can use them to wash your favorite clothes with delicate materials or finish.
Mesh bags also keep your clothes from getting excess lint. When lint collector is part of a dryer, it becomes a problem when you chose not to use a dryer.

You might want to add black or navy clothes in the bag so as they don't end up looking fluffy.