Saturday, September 6, 2008

Kill a What? At the Library?

Kill A Watt on the shelf: Photo by Katie

I don't know about you, but I love the library. Mine is a very good one. In Williamsburg, I got fed up with it's branch of the Brooklyn Public Library which was only open till seven one day of the week. It had a decent selection of comic books, but every other section in the library was lacking. I haven't visited it in two years. But the Brooks Memorial Library is open till nine three nights a week. It has a variety of new and old books, magazines, CDs, VHS casettes, DVDs, and one more thing: a Kill A Watt.

Kill A Watt is a brand of electricity usage monitor. You can buy various electricity usage monitors for anywhere from $25 to $100. They have different bells and whistles, but you really don't need to use them very often. You take the Kill A Watt, plug it into the wall, and then plug your 120v appliances into them for a day or more. The Kill A Watt measures how much electricity runs through it and how much time has elapsed. You can use this to find phantom loads (the electricity used by things that are turned off) as well as to find out how much electricity it takes to do something like watch your favorite television show. It can help you remember to unplug appliances that are wasting energy.

Kill A Watt in its box: Photo by Katie

But I'm done with it, I've had it for two weeks and I don't need it any more. So it's fantastic that I don't own it and can just return it to the library. Someone else can use the same Kill A Watt that I've been using, and I don't have to know them or give it to them. This is part of a state-wide program from the Sustainable Energy Resource Group and they should be available in many Vermont libraries. But if you're not in Vermont, many other libraries have them available too. If your library doesn't, ask for them to get one.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Eating Locally Goes Global

Source: CC image on Flickr by Johnmuk

Locavores are the rise, and more than that fringe are the people who try and get an increasing amount of their foods from local sources. The ideas involved include knowing where your food came from, and supporting local food production, which usually means lower environmental costs.

There is a common theme of locavore challenges come harvest season now. Here in Brattleboro, we have the Windham Localvores Local Food Week which starts on september 13th, and the internet based Eat Local Challenge in october.

But things can't be as simple as just eat locally. What if your neighborhood is home to one of the biggest pork processors in the country? And most of the farms around the area are factory farms? At least the food doesn't have to travel as far to the supermarket. The News & Observer of North Carolina had a couple of articles this summer which followed the life and death of a pig that was exceptional. The N&O pig was raised on a small farm in the heart of big pork country. He was a heritage animal, and a product of natural breeding. He lived a little longer than his neighbors on other farms, got to do "pig things", and then went to slaughter at another small operation.

Watch both the audio slide shows.
Ossabaw Hogs, Naturally Raised
Ossabaw Hogs, Farm to Market

And here are the articles that went with them:
Rooting for Locavores
Gone to Market

Katie and I try to eat locally, naturally, frugally, and flavorfully. So far there is no rubric that combines these values and gives an absolute output. We have to just live our lives, and try our best tobe satisfied with the outcome.

Thanks to Varmint Bites for informing me of the articles.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

LIve Green (rhymes with five bean)

Source: CC image on Flickr by Paul Moody (No Relation)

Saturday Katie and I went to Live Green in Manchester, VT. It's a green lifestyle showcase and concert. Katie was there for her new job at Marlboro College Graduate Center's MBA in managing for sustainability, and I was there to help out and see the booths. The event was very well attended. They expected 400 people to show up, and more than 1,000 had arrived by 1:00.

Katie's booth was right next to the CVPS Cow Power booth. From our neighbor, we learned that 60% of our electrical needs could be provided by one dairy cow. We are not heavy electrical consumers, but there are certainly a lot of cows in America ready to help us with energy independence.

I also ran into Bill Hulstrunk, one of the teachers of the super-insulation course that I took at Yestermorrow this winter. In October, a friend and I are going to take a course on biofuels there.

While looking for pictures I came across this great set about industrial digesters.
Check out my previous post about biodiesel here.