ReGeneration Roadtrip: Hoppin' to it

Raising a glass to sustainability at New Belgium Brewery

Our visit to New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado, began with a bike ride into town for some lunch at a Mexican café. So too began the New Belgium company itself. But it wasn’t Mexican food that founder Jeff Lebesch was after during his bicycle tour through Belgium. From the seat of that two-wheeler, he dreamed up a brewing company that would incorporate the artisan techniques of traditional Belgian brewing and his own core values — like environmental stewardship and social responsibility. And thus began the company whose trademark is a bike itself. Walking into the brew pub at …

CFLs can increase mercury pollution in some areas, study finds

Energy-saving compact fluorescent lightbulbs can lead to an increase in mercury pollution in some regions, according to a new study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. The study looked at mercury emissions in 130 countries and all 50 U.S. states to determine what role CFLs, which contain mercury, may have in upping mercury pollution. The study concludes that, in general, areas that get most of their power from coal-fired power plants — such as China and Estonia — can reduce their net mercury emissions overall by switching to CFLs since the bulbs help reduce electricity demand and thereby …

Has GM overdesigned the Volt?

Is a 40-mile all-electric range too much?

I have an article in today’s Guardian online, “Is the Chevy Volt just hype?” I argue that the key to the near-term success for plug-ins in this country is government incentives and mandates, which in turn will critically depend on the outcome of the presidential election. But that should not be a surprise, since no country in the world has achieved significant market penetration of an alternative-fuel vehicle without major government incentives and mandates. I noted that one alternative fuel vehicle expert told me that GM has “already sunk at least $1 billion into the Volt and cannot reasonably expect …

Attention Catholics

1. The pope is infallible. 2. The pope just had solar panels installed on the Vatican roof. 3. You must have solar panels installed on your house or you will go to hell. QED

Cutting meat and milk consumption cuts CO2 emissions, study says

Happy World Vegetarian Day! Just in time for the festivities, a new study from the Food Climate Research Network finds that cutting down on meat and milk consumption can help cut greenhouse-gas emissions. The four-year study focused mainly on the U.K., concluding that dramatically cutting the average Briton’s weekly meat and milk intake could help reduce emissions since about 8 percent of the country’s greenhouse gases come from meat and dairy production. The study also boldly recommends citizens cut alcohol from their diet — which has little nutritional value but contributes some 1.5 percent of overall emissions — as well …

The case for country

Why I ditched D.C. and moved to rural Nebraska

“You’re moving where?! Why?!” Steph Larsen on the road in North and South Dakota Photo: ruralaffairs. This response was by far the most common among acquaintances when I told them excitedly that I was leaving my Washington, D.C. job directing the policy program at Community Food Security Coalition to be an organizer in rural Nebraska at the Center for Rural Affairs. Not that I blame them entirely; while I did grow up in Wisconsin, and I am not afraid of the “Midwest fly-over zone” as coastal people like to call it, the smallest town I’d ever lived in for any …

ReGeneration Roadtrip: Earthships ahoy!

Living off-grid in a reclaimed gravel pit

      As sustainably minded folk, we tend to curse the environmental disruption that occurs when new roads are built through beautiful wilderness areas. But for a number of residents living just north of Taos, New Mexico, it was the creation of a nearby highway that actually helped pave the way for their unique community.   That’s because their homes are actually built in a reclaimed gravel pit — taking land that was cast off as worthless and turning it into usable living space. But these aren’t just any living spaces, either. These Earthships are completely self-sustainable, off-grid homes. …

How to find a green job

Tune in to greener occupational pastures. You love the idea of making the world a cleaner, greener place. Wouldn’t you also love to get paid for it? You just might be in luck: Green jobs are growing at an impressive clip. In fact, the very definition of a green job has changed dramatically. Once the purview of foresters, farmers, and environmental-science professors (and, yes, the occasional website editor), green jobs now exist in all sorts of sectors. In fact, at the end of 2007, Achim Steiner of the United Nations Environment Program predicted that “millions of new jobs” would prove …

ReGeneration Roadtrip: For them, the bell tolls

Bridging architecture and ecology at Arcosanti

    To get to Arcosanti, you must drive 70 miles north of Phoenix — one of the fastest growing (read: sprawling) areas of the country, through gorgeous saguaro-covered desert hills to a 2.5 mile dirt road in the middle of the Arizona wilderness. At the end of that road, you’ll find what has been called one of this century’s most important urban habitat experiments. Yes, urban. The not-yet-fully realized vision of architect/urban designer/dreamer Paolo Soleri is built according to his philosophy of arcology — an intersection of architecture and ecology that uses sustainable principles like natural lighting, passive solar …

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