Kicking Asphalt's Verbose Counterpart | Better World Club the innermost thoughts and ideas of our staff on Travel, Biking, Science|Tech, and Activism.Women&#39;s Day2015-03-09T19:35:14+00:00Annika Darling/blog/author/adarling/<p></p> <p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>Happy International Women&rsquo;s Day! Today, and everyday, thankful for the women and men who have been paving the way for a more just and equal world &ndash; essential for people and nature to thrive. There&rsquo;s still a long road ahead and we can all play a part. What does this day mean to you? Share with us your thoughts and spread the word.</p>Why did President Obama veto legislation that would force construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline? 2015-03-03T17:53:53+00:00Annika Darling/blog/author/adarling/<p>Read the following statement to find out why:</p> <p></p> <p><img src="/static/media/uploads/barack_veto.jpg" height="475" width="652" /></p>Lucid Streaming2015-03-02T20:57:05+00:00Annika Darling/blog/author/adarling/<p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-f0d49f1a-dc3b-6523-19f6-a6173c6c249e"><img src="/static/media/uploads/lucid-energy-pipe.jpg" height="354" width="529" /></p> <p dir="ltr"></p> <p dir="ltr">Leave it to Portland to generate electricity by simply turning on the faucet and flushing the toilet. If there is a way to generate green electricity with very little impact, Portland will find it. This water system promises to not even impact fish or endangered species. Could it be any more environmentally responsible?</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">According to Fast Company the system captures energy from the water flowing through the city&rsquo;s pipelines. To do this small turbines are installed in the pipelines and are turned by the water flow. In turn, energy is sent to a generator and then sent to the power grid.</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s pretty rare to find a new source of energy where there&rsquo;s no environmental impact,&rdquo; Gregg Semler told<a href=""> Fast Company</a>. Semler is the chief executive officer of<a href=""> Lucid Energy</a>, the Portland start-up behind the new system. &ldquo;But this is inside a pipe, so no fish or endangered species are impacted. That&rsquo;s what&rsquo;s exciting.&rdquo;</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">The water power system is incredible but still in its infancy and it has its limitations. For instance, Lucid&rsquo;s system can&rsquo;t produce enough energy to generate the the whole city, rather one building at a time: like a school or library. Also, in order for the system to work it relies on gravity. The water must be flowing downward. However, unlike solar and wind converted energy, water energy can be produced at any time of day.</p> <p dir="ltr"></p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We have a project in Riverside, California, where they&rsquo;re using it to power streetlights at night,&rdquo; Semler notes. &ldquo;During the day, when electricity prices are high, they can use it to offset some of their operating costs.&rdquo;</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">Lucid&rsquo;s pipes contain sensors that can monitor the quality of the water flowing through the pipes, making them more than just a<a href=""> power generating</a> technology, which can be valuable just about anywhere.</p> <p><br /><br /></p> <p dir="ltr">Read more:<a href=""> Portland's water pipes are the newest source of clean energy | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building</a></p>Cool Info Graphic From Matt Allan At Crossline on the Fort2015-02-17T19:27:24+00:00Annika Darling/blog/author/adarling/<p><a href="" target="_blank"></a><img src="/static/media/uploads/green_cars.jpg" /></p>Road Side Assistance Through Your Insurance: Like Dating A Man With A Beard2015-02-16T20:36:50+00:00Annika Darling/blog/author/adarling/<p><img src="/static/media/uploads/beard.jpg" height="759" width="600" /></p> <p></p> <p>Are you going where your plan can't follow?<br /><br />When a hipster shaves his beard you're going to see a totally different person. Getting roadside assistance through your insurance is a lot like that.<br /><br />While it can be quite convenient to purchase emergency roadside assistance through your insurance company, sometimes, you have to shave the man's face (read the fine print) and see what you're actually dealing with...<br /><br />Things to look out for when considering roadside assistance through your insurance:<strong><br /><br /></strong></p> <p><strong>Higher Premiums</strong> in lieu of using the service (yes, many insurance companies will raise your premium, they treat roadside assistance much like that of an accident.)<br /><br /><strong>Low Miles Per Tow </strong>(Be careful you are getting the emergency service that will serve you best in your time of need. Most insurance companies have a very small tow range and, thus, you will have to pay out of pocket to truly get you to where you need to go.)<br /><br /><strong>Covers Only The Insured Vehicle</strong> (If you are only driving the one car that may be fine for you, but companies that are roadside focused -- like BWC -- cover YOU and not the vehicle, so we will come to your rescue no matter whose car you are in, even in rentals.)<br /><br />It's important to have the coverage you need when that times comes. So be certain to read the fine print, take note of the limitations presented by your insurance policy and make an informed decision!<br /><br />Shave his beard! Find out if there's anything he is hiding under there!</p>The Keystone Pipe Dream/Nightmare: Political Football At Its Best!2015-02-16T20:19:43+00:00Annika Darling/blog/author/adarling/<p><img src="/static/media/uploads/keystone_pipeline.jpg" height="238" width="570" /></p> <p>The Keystone Pipeline has been one of the most riveting games of political football we've seen in a while. And, while the game is still afoot, the clock is running out on this long, drawn-out game.<br /><br />The Canadian energy and infrastructure company, TransCanada, filed an application with the U.S. Department of State to build the Keystone XL pipeline, an expansion of the existing Keystone pipeline, on September 19, 2008. But because the pipeline crosses a national border, it requires federal approval in the form of a Presidential Permit. President Obama has not granted the permit. Nor has he said when he will make a final decision.<br /><br />President Obama has stated he is waiting on the outcome of the court case in Nebraska, where the constitutionality of the pipeline is being fiercely challenged. Some charge Obama with delaying the "game" intentionally, downing the ball and buying some more time. Whether that's what he is doing or not, he does represent a huge hurdle, an obstacle to supporters of the pipeline, one last defense against Keystone Pipeline, lending hope to environmentalists and left-wingers everywhere.</p> <p>This really comes down to a play by President Obama...he could fumble the ball and make us all face palm. Or, he could make a fantastic play and spike the ball and do a little dance. Truly, anything could happen.<br /><br />What we do know is that the Keystone Pipeline is in direct opposition to President Obama's environmental pledge and the argument that the pipeline will create jobs -- though valid -- seems weak in comparison, especially since the quoted number of jobs it would create have fallen on both ends of the spectrum (some say hand fulls, others say thousands). However, those pushing for the pipeline are definitely tenacious and seem to have a referee or two in their pocket.<br /><br />This is not a game anyone wants to lose, and it is heated nail biter and one that promises to, at the very least, change the world. Is that too far reaching? Perhaps. But then again, who knows what lasting consequences, repercussions or even backlash will result from the "to build or not to build" decision.<br /><br />What we can count on, is that a decision will be made. But will it be the right one? This is the dilemma. Will it be the one that lifts our society to another level, that challenges us to be innovative and think out-side-the-box in terms of energy and resources, or will it be a decision that contributes to the continued destruction of our environment. to the pollution of our climate and to global warming as a whole. Simply put: is the pipeline going to have a negative effect or a positive effect? And what are the sacrifices and are they worth it?<br /><br />This, surely, is being weighed by Obama, and all we can do now is sit back, wait through the palpable tension, and hope that the right play will be made.</p>A Whacky Winter Ride2015-02-11T19:01:57+00:00Annika Darling/blog/author/adarling/<p>On Sunday, February 8, a slew of Portlanders geared up, dressed up and peddled away on the "worst day of the year" for a whacky winter ride. Better World Club's own fairy (Stephanie Balicki) was among the group of whacky winter riders! (Didn't know we had a fairy did ya!)</p> <p>Keep an eye out for the BWC fairy next year, she may have a few presents for you if you're lucky!</p> <p><img src="/static/media/uploads/steph_bike_ride_6.jpg" height="414" width="620" /></p> <p>BWC fairy making bringing the heat!</p> <p></p> <p></p> <p></p> <p><img src="/static/media/uploads/steph_bike_ride_3.jpg" height="640" width="480" /></p> <p>Some crazy guy!</p> <p></p> <p></p> <p><img src="/static/media/uploads/steph_bike_ride_2.jpg" height="640" width="480" /></p> <p>What do you call a group of rams? A flock?</p> <p><img src="/static/media/uploads/steph_bike_ride.jpg" height="640" width="480" /></p> <p>Our favorite rider! Way to represent Steph!</p> <p></p> <p>Check out more on the whacky winter ride <a href="">HERE</a>~</p>The Non-Renewal Blues2015-02-03T00:01:15+00:00Erik Sahagian/blog/author/eriks/<p><img src="/static/media/uploads/insurance_2.jpg" height="250" width="500" /></p> <p>Sadly, this week I will have to &nbsp;tell a customer that her auto policy will not be renewed.<br /><br />This is a woman who has been with this insurance company for over a decade.<br /><br />She is a model citizen in many ways:</p> <ul> <li>A career working against poverty in South America</li> <li>A perfect driving record</li> <li>Excellent billing history</li> </ul> <p><br />Her husband doesn't have the unblemished record but that is nothing new and any way it's not that bad.<br /><br />That wasn't the problem according to the insurance company anyway.<br /><br />The problem was having filed "too many" "hit and run" claims.<br /><br />From the insurance company point of view, since they can't collect from a known "guilty" party in these claims (they call this subrogation) they are not happy. It is almost as bad as when they have to pay when you have an accident where you are at fault, and sometimes worse from their point of view, since they can't raise your rates going forward which they could if it actually was your fault.<br /><br /><strong>What is the lesson here?</strong></p> <p><br />Be very careful with what claims you file.</p> <p>Pick your battles.</p> <p><br />The insurance company is counting every penny.<br /><br />Even if you're a good driver who doesn't hit any one else, you can be seen as a revenue drain. That's no good. Insurance companies exist to take in more money that they pay out.<br /><br /><strong>So be aware.</strong><br /><br />If you don't watch out you might get the non-renewal blues too!<br /><br /></p>Environmental Law: A Diametric Controversy2015-01-15T19:13:14+00:00Annika Darling/blog/author/adarling/<p><img src="/static/media/uploads/environmetal_law.jpg" height="329" width="532" /></p> <p>Environmental law is complex. It regulates everything from the waters that we drink to the air that we breath, and protects everything from endangered species to lonely mountain tops. The major challenge of Environmental law is balancing the protection of the environment and people&rsquo;s rights to live in a clean world, with the needs of our economy and the rights of a Capitalist society.&nbsp;</p> <div><br />For the most part, environmental law is still in its infancy, and even though the world is in a much better, much cleaner place, then it was 30 years ago, an awareness of the extent of our destruction has begun to take hold. The realization that we&rsquo;ve caused serious and irreversible damage to our one and only planet, has led some people to swing the pendulum with such furry that not every aspect of our society has been able to change gears as swiftly.&nbsp;</div> <div><br />When it comes to the legal ramifications for environmental violations there is a collision of diametrically opposing views. On one hand environmentalist argue the ramifications are not enough: the fines do not deter environmental polluters, nor are they significant to penalizes the crimes committed -- crimes which cause damage to the environment and are most often times unquantifiable. On the other hand, over zealous regulations can turn into impediments, restricting businesses that, in today&rsquo;s economy, are incredibly valuable.&nbsp;</div> <div><br />Some ask: have we gone too far? Is an over zealous government doing more harm than good, especially in the midst of a recession? For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stopped giving permits to mine coal, whereby demonizing the entire production and those who are a part of it.&nbsp;</div> <div><br />Though government regulations have led to many beneficial improvements and coal today is much cleaner than ever before, the conundrum lies in the fact that there are many good people working in the power plants and in the mines, just trying to make a living, whose jobs are now being ostracized. But everybody wants electricity! And half of our electricity still comes from coal.&nbsp;</div> <div><br />Left to its own devices Capitalism does have a way of self cleansing, of winnowing out those businesses that have wronged the system or are no longer serving it; however, this is not the case when it comes to environmental wrongs.&nbsp;</div> <div><br />Environmental violations differ from other business crimes because they involve fewer reputational costs. Evidence indicates that frauds, product recalls, false advertising, and punitive damage lawsuits all impose reputational penalties: such as consumers boycotting the company, and a significant loss in share value. Environmental violations do not carry such reputational repercussions, perhaps due to the fact that consumers are less likely to be directly affected by such violations.&nbsp;</div> <div><br />Whatever the case, it is apparent that we need environmental laws and EPA as a watchdog and enforcer of said laws. Without them the environment would be vulnerable, and as history has taught us, not safe in the hands of a pure Capitalist society: where environmental degradation and pollution is the price so many are willing to pay for material success and gain. &nbsp;</div> <div><br />Many international organizations recognize environmental degradation as one of the major threats facing the planet. Since humans have only been given one Earth to work with, if the environment becomes irreparably compromised it could mean the end to human existence.&nbsp;</div> <div><br />Without the implementation of environmental laws who would be held responsible or financially liable for assessments of and damage to the environment? And how exactly, would the liability be upheld? In may cases no one wants to claim responsibility. If the situation was left to a matter of goodwill it is likely the Earth would be in much worse condition than it is today.&nbsp;</div> <div><br />Ironically, many environmental regulations that are seemingly hurting the economy -- by putting roadblocks in front of businesses, or slowing down production -- are in fact paving the way to innovation and technology. Stricter environmental laws tend to increase innovative environmentally friendly technology, writes Frank Wijen in "A Handbook of Globalization and Environmental Policy." As companies are forced to follow stricter guidelines demand rises for sustainable technology, which leads to researchers and entrepreneurs developing such technologies; it is a shift in the economy, not a destruction of it.</div> <div><br />In the long run environmental laws can actually save businesses and individuals money, by reducing waste and energy usage. Sure, it may be an investment at the start, and the adaptation to new practices may be seen initially in a negative light, but it&rsquo;s a very small price to pay in comparison to the negative effects of not implementing these laws&hellip;such as death, illness, and ecosystem destruction.&nbsp;</div> <div><br />Nevertheless, it is important the environmental laws are not put in place without considering the impacts on local communities. For example, if a law is put in place that prohibits people from entering a protected area, without recognizing that the people rely on that ecosystem for survival then that law has not found the proper balance in protecting all life involved, and is sure to be greeted with major backlash.&nbsp;</div> <div><br />Like the environment itself, environmental law needs to find a balance in regards to the implementation of such regulations. Everyone has the right to live in an environment which is not harmful to their health or their well-being; yet, everyone has a right to utilize the gifts of our Capitalists society in order to carve out a substantial living.&nbsp;</div> <p>The controversy surrounding environmental law may benefit from a more didactic conversation, for finding a balance and resolution lies in our future ability to not only compromise with each other but with the environment, and not just to change but to adapt.</p>The Grinch Is Greener Than Santa! 2014-12-22T22:48:51+00:00Annika Darling/blog/author/adarling/<p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-b402e0e9-7410-20bf-21cd-5cfc36cb9b1b"><img src="/static/media/uploads/santa.jpg" height="851" width="615" /></p> <p dir="ltr"></p> <p dir="ltr">At one time Santa Claus was a revered figurehead for a once-popular "Christmas" holiday. His kindheartedness and generous nature endeared him to children of all ages. His ability to fit his large frame down small chimneys baffled physicists. But today, his gimmick brings us pause, especially in our concern for the environment, and our duty as a socially responsible club compels us to ask, despite tradition and despite Old St. Nick's perceivable benevolence, if the old ways are indeed the best ways?</p> <p dir="ltr">Let's start with the coal.</p> <p dir="ltr">Coal causes pollution (smog, soot, global warming, toxic air emissions), and Santa flies around leaving this stuff everywhere! That's enough to make our cheeks rosy as well -- and not in a jolly "Ho, Ho, Ho" way, but in the fuming environmentalist way. And why are his cheeks always rosy anyhow? Has he been drinking, and does he have an ALDH2 deficiency? Is Santa just this drunk guy, flying around with reckless abandon for the environment?</p> <p dir="ltr">We realize these questions, if all truthfully answered, could tarnish Kris Kringle's budding reputation. But it can no longer be avoided....because when you sit down and really contemplate the situation, you apprehend that the whole thing is a problem of unknown proportions that must be regulated no matter the man's affiliation with incredibly adorable diminutive creatures and mystical, magical caribou.</p> <p dir="ltr">Seriously, those lumps of coal add up!</p> <p dir="ltr">According to<a href=""></a> there are an estimated 74.5 million children ages 0-17 in the US as of 2015 -- and estimations show this number increasing steadily over the years. To make matters worse, as we all know, kids these days are just a bunch of technology crazed jackanapes who are probably just racking in that coal every Christmas, and thanks to the internet are horrifically creative and alarmingly intelligent, so it is certain they would readily download an app to help them build a miniature train set to burn the coal in order to power their laptops, and iPads, and iPhones, and iPods -- or whatever wacky device was mandated by the social pressures of our society. So, you see, if left unregulated Santa's coal distribution will rapidly increase, and consequently have a devastating effect on the environment.</p> <p dir="ltr">Do we even ask where "Saint" Nicholas gets his coal? Does he have a private mining operation? Are his mines up to code?</p> <p dir="ltr">In conclusion, we believe it's time for Santa Claus to get on board with the green movement. This isn't the 1980s any more, people don't burn coal at home any more (at least not as much), so not only is it becoming inconvenient to put coal in stockings but we are well aware of the effect it has on the environment.</p> <p dir="ltr">So, here is our letter this year to Father Christmas (and we encourage you to do the same):</p> <p dir="ltr">Dear Santa: Please stop using coal in your trip around the world. We suggest, instead, you consider using pine cones -- not only are they lighter, but greener!</p> <p dir="ltr">Sincerely,</p> <p dir="ltr">Better World Club</p>Auto Loan2014-12-16T19:37:57+00:00Annika Darling/blog/author/adarling/<p align="left">This is a guest blog article by our partners at Readers of our blog can <a href=";source=betterworldclub&amp;site=mal&amp;type=type_notset&amp;term=term_notset" rel="nofollow">apply for an auto loan and get free quotes in minutes.</a></p> <p align="left"><strong>Auto Purchase &amp; Financing - Tips and Advice </strong></p> <p align="left"><br />If getting competitive auto financing is confusing to you, you are not alone.&nbsp; Lots of people are intimidated by the prospect of going to a dealership and buying and car and getting it financed. &nbsp;Then there&rsquo;s negotiating price and all the back and forth with the salesperson and their manager. &nbsp;Wait, you&rsquo;re not done yet.&nbsp; How are you going to pay for it? &nbsp;What interest rate might you get approved for? &nbsp;What about the loan term and any other conditions required?&nbsp; Is the dealer making money on the financing that you&rsquo;re not aware of?</p> <p align="left"><br />Whether it&rsquo;s an aggressive dealer sales team or general overall lack of customer experience in buying cars and negotiating financing, consumers are looking for unbiased information, tips, and advice.&nbsp;&nbsp; To help ease the auto-buying experience, here are some tips and advice to save you money and help you.</p> <p align="left"><br /><strong>FINANCING</strong><br />Did you know you can get approved for a loan before you visit the dealership? Securing your financing before you visit the dealership empowers you like a cash buyer!&nbsp; Where and when you decide to purchase your new or used vehicle is up to you.&nbsp; Think seriously about financing options before you shop!&nbsp; Once you determine how much you can afford and/or borrow, you can decide what type of car, SUV or truck you want to purchase. Follow these financing tips to get the best deal<strong>.</strong></p> <p align="left"><strong>1. Know your credit score</strong></p> <p>You really need to know where you stand when it comes to your credit profile which consists of your credit report and credit score. It&rsquo;s free at and you can get it from all three credit bureaus.<br />&nbsp;<br /><strong>2) Decide where you want to obtain financing</strong><br />Everything you know since the last time you bought a car is old school.&nbsp; Find an online direct lender with a BBB rating of &ldquo;A&rdquo; that is a licensed lender.&nbsp; Many online auto loan web sites are fronts for car dealer lead-generation while other sites are individual lender sites.&nbsp; Read &ldquo;about us&rdquo; if you are not sure as they tell you how they operate.<br /><br /></p> <ol> <li><strong>Auto loan lead generation websites:</strong></li> </ol> <p>On lead generation web sites, you apply for a loan and your application information is immediately routed to one or more car dealerships.&nbsp; You get dealer financing with these sites.</p> <ol> <li value="2"><strong>Lender websites:</strong></li> </ol> <p>On lender websites, you can apply for a loan and may or may not get approved.&nbsp; Direct auto financing can get you a lower APR but it&rsquo;s can very time consuming filling out multiple applications.</p> <ol> <li value="3"><strong>Online Lending Marketplace:</strong></li> </ol> <p>Get up to four offers by bringing the best of the online banks, lenders, finance companies and credit unions together in one marketplace. &nbsp;These are real approved loan offers not simple quotes!<br />&nbsp;<br /><strong>3. Be prepared for your trip to the dealership</strong><br />Remember, to do your research before you arrive at the dealership.&nbsp;&nbsp; Dealers can make a profit on your financing by marking up interest rates and in some cases, inflating prices of service contracts and other insurance products. If you think the dealer can give you a better deal, then finance through the dealer.&nbsp; Otherwise use the online auto loan that you have been approved for. You&rsquo;re done!&nbsp; No more delays or frustrations.</p> <p><br />Caution: Don&rsquo;t get &ldquo;Switched or Flipped&rdquo; when a dealer offers to beat your online deal by getting you lower payments while increasing term, sales price and/or increasing the rate (APR). Do not be a &ldquo;Payment Buyer&rdquo; focused only on the payment amount.&nbsp;</p> <p><br /><strong>4. Negotiate like a cash buyer</strong><br />With financing in hand, you are in a very strong position to get the best pricing on your new or used car. Work with reputable dealerships and your overall experience will be excellent.&nbsp; You are now prepared to be an empowered auto buyer!&nbsp; Good luck and happy shopping!</p> <p></p> <p>FOR MORE INFORMATION AND ADVICE CHECK OUT MY AUTO LOAN TODAY!!!</p>How Green Are Christmas Trees?2014-12-08T23:30:08+00:00Annika Darling/blog/author/adarling/<p dir="ltr"><img src="/static/media/uploads/christmas_trees.jpg" height="618" width="900" /></p> <p dir="ltr">For environmentalists, maintaining a clear conscience during the holidays can be a challenge. Wanting to participate in the good ol&rsquo; traditions of the past, but wanting to make changes that positively impact our future -- it can dampen the hoilday spirit a bit. So, I thought it would be nice to help you tackle the "how green is a Christmas tree dilemma" that many environmentalists debate this time of year.</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">First, let us scratch any kind of flocking of the Christmas tree. While flocking -- the spraying on of artificial snow -- is a very pretty effect and one preferred by many (like my Aunt Patti who likes the bright pink kind), it is not environmentally all. The chemicals within the flocking spray inhibit the tree from decomposition. Thus, these trees end up in landfills that suck any remaining joy from the now sad chemically coated conifer.</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">What about a fake Christmas tree? When it comes to fake Christmas trees the only true thing to consider is how long are you willing to commit to using this tree? If you are going to use this tree for at least 10 years, then this would be a good way to go -- this is the point that the environmental &ldquo;payoff&rdquo; begins. Before this, the burden from the purchase of an artificial tree is great. You have to consider that most are made and shipped from China. The pollution produced from a single cargo vessel from China is comparable to that of thousands of trucks. Sure your lowly little tree isn&rsquo;t going to create all that pollution itself, but it does add to the demand which in turn is responsible. Another downside to consider is that these guys are extremely difficult to recycle, or as executive director of the National Christmas Tree Association put it: &ldquo;An artificial tree is never going to decompose.&rdquo; And if never is true...that&rsquo;s something worth considering.</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">Real trees. There are a two ways to go with this: traditional cut tree, or the live &ldquo;rent a tree&rdquo; version with roots and all. The rent a tree option isn&rsquo;t available everywhere, it&rsquo;s true, but hopefully with leaders like <a href="">The Original Potted Christmas Tree</a> up here in Oregon there will soon be more such options available. The Original Potted Christmas Tree buys from local tree farms, then rents the trees to people through Dec. 25, and then takes back the tree and sells them to landscapers and such throughout the Oregon area. A few such businesses have sprouted up in California -- the bay area mainly and San Diego -- but for the most part the rent a tree option is still a rarity but a extremely progressive way to go. Considering checking in with your local nursery for similar options.</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">So, since not everyone lives in Oregon, let&rsquo;s consider the one last option: the traditional pine needle-shedding cut down version of a tree. As far as the environment is concerned this option is surprisingly green -- once you think about it. Consider that approximately 350 million trees are exist because Christmas tree farmers planted them. Or that one acre of these farms produces enough oxygen for 18 people a day. Or that 350,000 acres produce enough oxygen for both Chicago and Pittsburgh. It has also been argued that these Christmas trees aid hugely in carbon sequestering. A <a href=";view=article">2012 study</a> quantified this, and while it was found that natural forests sequester the most carbon, tree farms also sequestered a large amount due to the additional ground cover between trees -- a signature of tree farms that wouldn&rsquo;t exist if the soil was being constantly turned for other agricultural crops. But remeber to recycle your tree at the end of the season -- there are more than 4,000 recycling programs in the US. Also, one last thing to consider when going this route is to try to seek out organizations to purchase your tree from that may also be a working fundraiser. There are many organizations that use tree selling as fundraiser projects -- if you're going to buy a tree anyways this is the most "in the spirit" way to go.</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">Now go! Make a good decision regarding one of the most significant decorations for Christmas, that both you and the earth can feel good about.</p>Top 5 Sustainability Websites2014-11-21T21:18:16+00:00Annika Darling/blog/author/adarling/<p><img src="/static/media/uploads/sustainability_masthead.jpg" height="366" width="960" /><br id="docs-internal-guid-3251bf40-d434-6a7a-17df-fc6b793dc051" /><br /></p> <p dir="ltr">Since this blog is about promoting sustainability, we might as well promote others who are promoting sustainability as well. Or, in other words, we&rsquo;d like to take a moment to give props to a few amazing green websites that frequently give rise to topics we tackle in our newsletter, Kicking Asphalt, and here on our blog.</p> <p></p> <ol> <li dir="ltr"> <p dir="ltr"><a href="">Grist</a></p> </li> </ol> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">Grist is one of those sites we are sure you have heard about! And if not it&rsquo;s time you did. Grist tackles the ups and downs of environmental issues in a way that is spunky and entertaining. As well as always being up to date on hard hitting news stories they always find a way for the weird and the wild. The variety of topics and the wit that inspires this website should not be missed!</p> <p></p> <ol start="2"> <li dir="ltr"> <p dir="ltr"><a href="">TreeHugger </a></p> </li> </ol> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">Along with scooping one of the coolest names for a green website, Treehugger has a style that is unmatched. They are suave and sophisticated and make you want nothing more to think what they think, live like they live and simply be a part of their cool little world. Log in and be a part of it now!</p> <p></p> <ol start="3"> <li dir="ltr"> <p dir="ltr"><a href="">Dot Earth</a> (New York Times)</p> </li> </ol> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">As a New York Times online publication, Dot Earth maintains a serious journalistic tone. It is a well informed site with highly researched articles. The information you find herewithin will be insightful, crediable, and presented in a way that is professional and well-written. Enjoy!</p> <p></p> <ol start="4"> <li dir="ltr"> <p dir="ltr"><a href="">Climate Change</a> (Guardian)</p> </li> </ol> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">There are many sites out there dedicated to Climate Change, but few do as good a job as The Guardian -- they are a Pulitzer Prize winning publication afterall; they obviously know what they are doing. Read this site with every confidence that you are not being led astray, but in fact are being presented with the most up to date information available. This site oozes with trust and perfection.</p> <p></p> <ol start="5"> <li dir="ltr"> <p dir="ltr"><a href="">RealClimate</a></p> </li> </ol> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">Real Climate is a fun website for all you science geeks, or wannabe science geeks, or amatuer scientists, or just anyone who likes science! I know the staff at BWC can&rsquo;t get enough of this site, and if you haven&rsquo;t yet visited you are surely in for a treat. But be fair warned that this site may led to an addiction for upright awesome science news!</p> <p><br /><br /></p>Do we love him and how- Car Talk’s Tom Magliozzi RIP2014-11-18T23:02:37+00:00Erik Sahagian/blog/author/eriks/<p><span style="color: black; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: x-small;" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2" color="black"><span style="color: black; font-family: arial; font-size: x-small;" face="arial" size="2" color="black"><img src="/static/media/uploads/cartalk-tom_wide-c65cfd63f50ef9f5442898470fa5fedf15452a2e.jpg" height="1120" width="1989" /></span></span></p> <p><span style="color: black; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: x-small;" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2" color="black"><span style="color: black; font-family: arial; font-size: x-small;" face="arial" size="2" color="black"></span><span style="color: black; font-family: arial; font-size: x-small;" face="arial" size="2" color="black"></span></span></p> <p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-934d8680-c52b-2a3c-8b05-e8efe642e64b">Earlier this month we at BWC lost a friend when Tom Magliozzi passed away from complications of Alzheimers at age 77. Tom, who millions know -- along with younger brother Ray -- as half of NPR's 37 year running program "Car Talk" program, worked with us for a number of years when BWC sponsored their radio show heard nationally on over 600 stations coast to coast.</p> <p dir="ltr">More than just a talk show host, via their radio program, Tom was an ambassador from Cambridge Massachusetts (BWC's east coast HQ) to the rest of the country. His sense of humor was rivaled only by his depth of knowledge. Serious smarts (or smahts as it might get pronounced around here) combined with a wicked quick sense of humor -- that's the type of thing New Englanders pride themselves on and Tom and Ray had both in spades.</p> <p dir="ltr">Yes, he was (along with his brother) an MIT graduate but he was anything but stodgy. "Car Talk" was loaded with goofy jokes as well as good advice. Listeners will recall their oft mentioned staffer, Erasmus B. Dragon, and show chauffeur, Pikop Andropov (pronounce those to yourself slowly), and of course the show's supposed law firm of "Dewey Cheetem and Howe" (that "firm's" name emblazoned on a window in the middle of Harvard Square is a must see stop on any sightseeing tour of the area).</p> <p dir="ltr">Fortunately America's funniest auto mechanics will live on in their NPR podcasts, which you can check out here:</p> <p dir="ltr"></p> <p><span style="color: black; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: x-small;" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2" color="black"><span style="color: black; font-family: arial; font-size: x-small;" face="arial" size="2" color="black"><br />Rest in Peace Tom Magliozzi<br style="color: black; font-family: arial; font-size: x-small;" face="arial" size="2" color="black" /></span></span></p>Are Obama And Xi Full Of Hot Air? Or Is This Pledge For Real?2014-11-18T22:39:40+00:00Annika Darling/blog/author/adarling/<p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-4492547e-c508-126b-f9fa-2fc2dbd0365e"><img src="/static/media/uploads/us_and_china_deal.jpg" height="2112" width="1982" /></p> <p dir="ltr">U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping make a pledge to reduce future emissions. This marks the first time ever that China has made a commitment to protect the environment. The goal: the US will cut carbon emissions by 26 to 28 percent, while China will stop its emissions from further growth by 2030.</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">Reactions to this news have been mixed. Some say it&rsquo;s &ldquo;historic&rdquo; it&rsquo;s a &ldquo;breakthrough&rdquo;, others remain skeptical that Beijing and Washington can make good on their pledge, and some even say it&rsquo;s simply too little too late.</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">Regardless of the outcome, if they fall short of the goals they set or if the planet goes up in flames anyways, it is definitely a huge move in a positive direction, and one which should be acknowledged as such.</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">Paul Krugman may be right on the money when he concludes in a NY Times Op Ed piece that: &ldquo;The agreement between China and the United States on carbon emissions is, in fact, a big deal.&rdquo;</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">Krugman goes on to explain the reason it&rsquo;s a big deal is because it takes out one of the major lines of defense that have been erected by the Republican party that blockaides action that would otherwise help save the planet. There are three major defensive modes that have been inhibiting movement towards combating climate change: denial -- global warming does not exist, scare tactics -- actions that cut emissions are bad for the economy because they lead to loss of jobs and impede growth, and, finally, there is nothing America can do as long as China keeps blasting out emissions at an ever increasing rate -- therefore anything we do is futile.</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">While the first two defenses can be argued until everyone is blue in the face -- no matter the ignorance, and especially because of the ignorance -- the last defense this summit has considerably crushed. Or plans to anyways. And of course we will just have to wait and see, the wording of the agreement has left many environmentalist skeptical -- and for good reason.</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">What the agreement really says: China intends to reduce emission. Keyword: intends. But only time will tell, and in the meantime emissions will continue to rise in China at a rate of 3 percent every year. The language of the deal is a little vague, to say the least, and seems to allow both China and the US a lot of play room should the deal ever become an inconvience. Furthermore the target levels of emissions are much higher than environmental experts want. Indeed, even if the deal were to work exactly as stated, the planet would experience a highly damaging rise in temperatures.</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">A series of scientific and economic reports have concluded that in order to avoid the 2-degree temperature rise, the world&rsquo;s largest economies will have to drastically cut carbon emissions within just a few years &mdash; a rate far more rapid than what the United States and China have offered. At the same time, it has been a jolt of optimism. And since China and the United States are the two biggest national emitters of carbon, if they can unite in an effort to curb these than other countries should, hopefully, follow. At least their justification for not doing so will be greatly affected.</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Needless to say,&rdquo; writes Kruger, &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t expect the usual suspects to concede that a major part of the anti-environmentalist argument has just collapsed. But it has. This was a good week for the planet.</p>Sustainability Starts At Home2014-11-15T01:11:45+00:00Annika Darling/blog/author/adarling/<p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-51599683-b0fc-728b-be45-cc720f281771"><img src="/static/media/uploads/sustainable-home.png" height="1200" width="1200" /></p> <p dir="ltr"></p> <p dir="ltr">Extreme weather hit Portland yesterday. Freezing rain it&rsquo;s called. I&rsquo;m from California so this was new for me. What&rsquo;s more is that this &ldquo;freezing rain&rdquo; -- this ice and snow and insanely cold temperature -- came in November.</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve lived here 14 years and it&rsquo;s never snowed in November,&rdquo; toted BWC CEO, Mitch Rofsky. &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s all hype.&rdquo;</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">And then it snowed.</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">Thursday morning my car was a large green popsicle frozen to the road. The door I could hardly peel open and the windshield proved to be quite a challenge to de-ice.</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">Extreme weather indeed. But Portland isn&rsquo;t alone in this. It&rsquo;s happening around the globe. And with proof like this it&rsquo;s funny (sad, infuriating, irritating) to hear people continue to deny that global warming exists.</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">The problem is...well, massive, and combating it a massive undertaking. There is one thing I know about making big goals though, and it&rsquo;s that you&rsquo;re suppose to make tiny ones first -- and celebrate accordingly when you hit said goal and then promptly move on to the next. So, let me propose some tiny goals for you, for us, to combat global warming on a smaller scale everyday in our own homes.</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">The buildup of carbon in the atmosphere is hands-down largely responsible for global warming, and domestic energy use is the fourth biggest source of carbon emissions (taking into account all the resources it takes to get it to you, not to mention carbon produced by businesses). Therefore, energy conservation within the home, your home, is not only essential, but a responsibility.</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">Cooking, entertaining, lighting: all of these are examples of ways that fossil fuels are consumed and carbon dispensed into the atmosphere. Using energy efficient appliances is a great place to start. These appliances are easy to locate and all possess a universal energy efficient label.</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">Insulating your home is another big, yet easy step you can take. Proper insulation combats heat loss by closing heat escape routes through the roof, floor and pipes. Double-glazing of windows can drastically reduce heat loss -- by an estimated 50 percent.</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">There are also many local grants that will support you in producing your OWN sustainable energy! That&rsquo;s right, get on this! It is completely possible and uncomplicated (even fun) to generate your own solar, wind or hydra energy.</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">Other little things you can do around the house is to remember to turn lights and appliances off when not in use. This means not leaving computer, TV, or radio on standby...just turn them off. Only charge your mobile phone when you need to. Opt for hand washing dishes and line drying clothes whenever possible. Dishwashers and tumble dryers are huge energy wasters. Also, don&rsquo;t leave water running -- especially hot water. And short showers are better than baths (on the daily anyways) -- it&rsquo;s a small sacrifice really for a larger good.</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">And at the end of the day remember to celebrate your contributions. Buy a bottle of wine and cheers yourself and your household for the small everyday things you do that over a lifetime can be incredibly impactful and highly beneficial to the entire planet. Changing our impact on the earth and taking responsibility for climate change truly starts at home.</p> <p><br />Home is where the green is!</p>The Advantages of Electric Busses2014-11-06T01:03:44+00:00Brandon/blog/author/admin/<p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/static/media/uploads/happy_bus_driver.jpg" height="225" width="400" /></p> <p>The American Public Transportation Association reported that busses provided more than 5.3 billion rides in 2013. That means that busses transported more people than light rail, heavy rail, and commuter rail combined. And as far as emissions are concerned, busses that are on the road for the majority of the day simply burn more fuel than a car used for short trips a couple of times a day.</p> <p>By replacing gasoline powered busses with those powered by electricity produced from carbon neutral sources, the US could cut a significant portion of our CO2 emissions relatively quickly.</p> <p>Since Better World Club is based in Portland Oregon, let's take a look at our own public transit agency: Trimet. Our standard diesel busses (which are very similar, if not identical, to other public transit busses used around the country) get 4.4 miles per gallon on average. A recent upgrade to our bus fleet introduced hybrid busses which improve efficiency to 6 mpg. Trimet also uses roughly 6.6 million gallons of fuel per year.</p> <p>Aside from decreasing emissions, there's also less maintenance involved&ndash;as there's no oil to change. Proterra, who makes the Ecoliner Electric Bus, estimates that some of their newer regenerative brakes may last up to 250,000 miles before needing to be adjusted.</p> <p>It's all well and good to talk about converting bus fleets to electricity, but unless we have carbon neutral sources of energy production to create the electricity that powers these busses, we lose out on curbing greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible.</p>A Risky Game To Play2014-11-04T18:44:04+00:00Erik Sahagian/blog/author/eriks/<p dir="ltr"><img src="/static/media/uploads/are_you_covered.jpg" height="321" width="480" /><br id="docs-internal-guid-321c4f96-7c04-0a83-4549-9ec385dd7c8a" />It's time to play every drivers favorite game:</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>"Are You Covered?"</strong></p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">Here's how it goes: you've paid your auto insurance</p> <p dir="ltr">agent hundreds or thousands of dollars year after</p> <p dir="ltr">year and then the one day something happens with</p> <p dir="ltr">your car, you find yourself realizing you have no idea</p> <p dir="ltr">what you've been paying for all these years: no idea</p> <p dir="ltr">what you're covered for and what you're not.</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">Here is an example:</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">You come back to your parking space and notice</p> <p dir="ltr">a new dent in the side of your car.</p> <p dir="ltr">Sadly, there is no note.</p> <p><img src="/static/media/uploads/dent_in_a_car.jpg" height="200" width="331" /></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>"Are You Covered?"</strong></p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">Well, you remember your agent saying something about this</p> <p dir="ltr">five or so years ago when you first signed up, but now you</p> <p dir="ltr">don't recall exactly what for.</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">The reality is, if you do not have collision coverage</p> <p dir="ltr">you do not have the coverage needed in this instance.</p> <p><img src="/static/media/uploads/insurance-agent1.gif" height="253" width="300" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Even if you have collision coverage, you would be stuck paying</p> <p dir="ltr">your "deductible" which can be $300, $500 or even $1,000 or $2,000.</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">Paying for car insurance is bad enough.</p> <p dir="ltr">But not knowing what you're paying for (and what you're</p> <p dir="ltr">not paying for) is even worse.</p> <p></p> <p dir="ltr">Give your agent a call and make sure you</p> <p dir="ltr">know what's what!</p> <p dir="ltr"></p> <p dir="ltr">And don't ever play: "<strong>Are You Covered?</strong>" again.</p> <p><br /><img src="/static/media/uploads/cover_up.jpg" height="270" width="400" /></p>Misleading Ads and the Need for Marketplace Repair 2014-11-03T21:49:16+00:00Mitch Rofsky/blog/author/mrofsky/<p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <img src="/static/media/uploads/ads.jpg" height="330" width="260" /></p> <p>MISLEADING ADS AND THE NEED for MARKETPLACE REPAIR (aka Liberal Economics)</p> <p>Better World Club is headquartered in Portland, Oregon, and one of the hottest propositions in this year&rsquo;s elections is Measure 92&mdash;requiring the food labeling of Genetically Modified Organisms&mdash;GMOs.</p> <p>The proposition attempts to take one step toward correcting an imperfection in the marketplace. &nbsp;My initial blog post discussed how the marketplace (and the government) are both essential but not perfect, focusing on one marketplace imperfection<strong>:</strong> the ability of polluters to impose their costs on 3<sup>rd</sup> parties.</p> <p>Here&rsquo;s another: inadequate consumer information.</p> <p>In economics class, adequate information is just assumed. But that&rsquo;s not the case out in the real world. Did the women who died of thalidomide back in the 1960s understand the drug they were taking? Would you know the caloric content of the food you eat without government labeling? (I sure didn&rsquo;t back in my 20s when I was eating a pint of Haagen-Dazs Ice Cream almost every night&mdash;not realizing its 1,080 calories or 68 grams of fat. It is only because of food labeling requirements that I haven&rsquo;t had a pint since.&nbsp; It was Coffee, BTW.)</p> <p>So, government is necessary to require disclosure&mdash;and, given the debate about GMOs&mdash;such labeling is both appropriate and necessary.</p> <p>But wait, say a number of scientists, GMOS are safe. Consumers will be misled. <span style="text-decoration: underline;">Then make that case.</span> Convince the consumer&mdash;but don&rsquo;t hide the content of the food.</p> <p>But wait, say opponents, a national marketplace should have national, not state, regulation.. Of course, this is the opposite of what conservatives normally argue. &nbsp;But even at face value, it should be ignored: &nbsp;if labeling is defeated at the state level over and over again, it will be considered unpopular and never adopted federally.</p> <p>We need to both recognize the flaws in the marketplace (which conservatives refuse to do) and repair them (ditto).&nbsp; &nbsp;Providing consumer information is one step in that direction.</p> <p>So, let&rsquo;s see if Measure 92 passes. (And, if it doesn&rsquo;t, be prepared for the following post:&nbsp; Citizen&rsquo;s United and how uncontrolled spending distorts U.S. politics.)</p>Green Halloween2014-10-31T22:07:06+00:00Annika Darling/blog/author/adarling/<p dir="ltr"><img src="/static/media/uploads/green_halloween.png" height="673" width="900" /></p> <p dir="ltr">So it&rsquo;s Halloween again and people are loading up on candy and getting ready for some serious low-level adventure, while others prepare for one of the most debaucherous nights they will have this year -- maybe even ever. But what about us die-hard environmentalist who can't help but see all the waste around us when the festivities explode. What was once a celebration of the harvest has turned into something quite scary altogether. Indeed, for us environmentalist Halloween is a stew of insanity. This year, and for future years, I say we take it back!&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Here are a few tips on how to have a green Halloween that is filled with a deeper meaning, is affecting, and fun to boot.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Halloween Costumes</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Halloween costumes can be a great opportunity to express a point of view -- not just explore how many nouns you can put &ldquo;sexy&rdquo; in front of.</p> <p dir="ltr">By simply mixing and matching a bunch of items and clothes from past Halloweens then adding a sign that says &ldquo;recycled&rdquo; you can make a pretty entertaining green statement. Other fun ideas I&rsquo;ve seen was a man who pinned a fake chicken to his shirt and called himself a chick magnet. Or you can get a giant box and decorate it like a washing machine.</p> <p dir="ltr">Are you an earthy person? Then why not go as a big pile of leaves. This is considered a sustainable costume for beginners. It&rsquo;s easy, cute and colorful. All you do is gather a few bags of leaves from outside, the more the better, and tape them onto your clothes -- fall colored clothes that is. And viola! You have transformed yourself into beautiful fall foliage. To take this costume a step further you can add a few sticks and become a tree. Use the leaves on your shirt and above the waist while taping the sticks around the legs.</p> <p dir="ltr">Other favorites are Static Cling (pinning socks, dryer sheets, lint and fabrics to your clothes--for full effect spray hair up in all directions); Landfill is a variation on Static Cling (pin garbage instead of fabrics and such); Nickelback (tape a nickle to your back); and the ultimate sustainable costume: Nudist!</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Halloween Parties</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">More and more people are using some sort of social media to invite friends to Holiday parties, but just as a reminder: emailing invites online is a preferred green method. Try to use renewable sources throughout the party, like compostable plates -- or better yet use your own plates! You should also try to use cloth tablecloths and napkins! If you are headed to someone's party bring treats in reusable dishes (try not to forget about them when you leave). It may be a little more work, but that&rsquo;s why you make brownies for your guests and then they help you clean up. Feed your creepy crowd locally purchased and organic food, and make it easy for them to recycle. And the end of the shenanigans pack and store any decorations to use for next year.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Pumpkins</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">First thing you can do is not dump the pumpkin seeds after carving -- clem them, roast them and salt them! Yum. Also, to light your pumpkin consider beeswax candles. When you&rsquo;re ready to toss the pumpkin, do so in the compost pile. Some places even have local pumpkin recycling locations. Next year you can try to take it up a step by growing your own in the backyard!</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Trick-or-Treat</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">An estimated 14 million trick-or-treaters take to the streets every Halloween in the U.S. If you are participating try to walk, ride a bike, or carpool to the hot spots. Don&rsquo;t throw candy wrappers into the streets. For parents, a good idea is to bring an extra bag for garbage -- you&rsquo;ll find it&rsquo;ll come in very handy once you tune into your duty as wrapper police.</p> <p><br />That&rsquo;s it everyone! Now go have a safe, green, happy Halloween!</p>