Archives for November 2009

U2 Tour = 360, Carbon Footprint = Zero?

Ireland’s fab four, U2, is redefining the rock concert in more ways than one with their newest world tour called the 360° Tour, produced by Live Nation. U2’s website touts that they’re committed to a net zero emissions goal for the global tour with suggestions that fans carpool to their concert dates and refill aluminum water bottles instead of buying plastic bottles at the venue. A marketing firm called Music Matters is acting as U2’s official “Environmental Advisor.” “The crew has embraced a lot of our initiatives and has even been developing ideas of their own they would like to implement,” said Lucy August-Perna, Music Matters touring Greening Manager. Their initiatives include backstage and bus recycling, battery and electronics recycling, refillable water stations, composting in catering, analyzing truck and bus operations to reduce their environmental footprint.

U2 inspires us at Jubbling, as they do so many others. They are, by far, my favorite band dating back to the early 80s when I first heard their entire Boy album on a Philly radio station. They’re still socially and politically conscious, musically innovative and they continue to strive for excellence and relevance as younger hearts and minds replace their original fan base. So why do I have the long face? Does Adam Clayton even care?

Maybe George Costanza’s remarks from a 1990 Seinfeld episode can best sum it up – “Jerry, just remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it.” Music Matters’ emissions target for this tour can be far reaching but consider the amount of manpower and machinery it takes to power a world tour of this magnitude. In fact, check out this video clip of U2’s main stage being erected and then tell me that battery recycling is really the answer to reducing impact:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5P1Vkzel4k[/youtube]

Don’t get me wrong; I love the band and I have paid my money to see their shows over the years but there is some hypocrisy to hyping a tour with net zero emissions and then flying away on private jets. See my carbon offset story for more details.

We have to admit to ourselves that entertainment in the form of arena concerts uses lots of natural and man-made resources to keep shows exciting, especially in a culture where bigger is better. This beginning attempt by U2 and Music Matters may be enough to make other big acts wake up and take notice, especially if it saves money in the long run. Simply paying off a show’s impact with carbon credits is not the answer! The tricky thing is keeping a live show interesting enough for audience members while at the same time cutting the environmental impact. That’s a Jubbling puzzle we all face when we look to lessen impact in our own lives. Personally, I already have tickets to their Seattle show in June 2010 and I plan on taking public transportation and wearing an extra pair of adult undergarments so I don’t have to miss a beat.

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Potted “Living” Christmas Trees

Charlie Brown Christmas TreeWhen it comes to buying a Christmas tree, the decision for most is to choose between artificial or a barely dead tree. If you go artificial, you can get perfection every year and spend the holidays convincing everyone how close your artificial tree looks to an actual one. If you go to the Christmas tree lot and get a recently-departed tree, you can choose from a hundred or so trees and find the right height and fullness. You can even get it flocked on the spot if that’s your preference. Now Jubbling wants to recommend an alternative – the potted “living” Christmas tree.

A potted Christmas tree is exactly what the name suggests – take a trip to your local nursery and pick out a potted tree to use as your Christmas tree. Jubbling Christmas Tree According to our local nursery, Bainbridge Gardens, robust and durable types of living Christmas trees include the Norway Spruce, Korean Fir, Balsam Fir, Frasier Fir and the Colorado Blue Spruce. They may not be as attractive as an artificial or once-living tree but since it is a potted Christmas tree, you can roll it outside to your porch or patio after the holiday and water it until you use it again the next year. It’s Jubbling 101. Ten years ago, I decided to give it a shot and I purchased a potted tree that ended up in my yard after Christmas. Then in 2004, I decided to do it again only this time I put the tree in a pot and put it outside after Christmas. We have nothing on the Charlie Brown Christmas tree but a little Jubbling and my original $65 investment has carried forward for the last 4 Christmases.

Caring for a Potted Christmas Tree – Limiting the amount of time your potted Christmas tree spends in your house is the best way to make sure it survives the holiday. According to Jenni at Bainbridge Gardens, the best way to care for a potted Christmas tree is:

Before the living Christmas tree goes into the house, give it some transitional time in an unheated garage or outbuilding. If it will be indoors for 5-6 days, it should be in a transitional area for a similar length of time. Check the plant daily and water as needed to keep the soil moist but not soggy. We recommend placing the tree in a room that’s between 60 and 65 degrees if possible and definitely not near a heat register.

Our potted Christmas tree will spend 2 weeks in the house but you’re better off following Jenni’s guidelines. Contact your local nursery and see what they have available. A potted Christmas tree may not look perfect but it will more than serve its purpose and that is to hold ornaments, lights and allow you to put presents underneath it.

My kids still pull the “dad’s cheap” card on me but in the end, I think they know it’s Jubbling. And given the option of switching our holiday from celebrating Christmas to Festivus, my kids appreciate the potted Christmas tree a little more. The last thing they want to experience is Festivus and the traditional raising of the aluminum pole.

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Carbon Offsets = Environmental Penance?

“Take only pictures, leave only footprints.”

That suggestion is the motto of the Sierra Club and has been their hallmark philosophy on how to reduce man’s impact on nature, mainly parklands, for numerous decades. It is simple, inexpensive and conducive to extending the lifespan of parks for future generations…and it’s Jubbling at the core.

That idea was contemporized and tweaked to produce the carbon footprint philosophy. As defined by Merriam-Webster.com, a carbon footprint is “the negative impact that something (as a person or business) has on the environment; specifically: the amount of carbon emitted by something during a given period.” That term dates back to 1999.

The Carbon Offset Confessional

Environmental Penance Kiosk

Now with ten years of consumer guilt and the perceived corpulent western lifestyle under our belt we arrive at carbon offset credits. Carbon offset’s are defined as “… credits for an amount of carbon dioxide-equivalent (COse) reduced, avoided or absorbed. Many types of credits are available, produced by several schemes or mechanisms and with a series of sometimes overlapping standards.”

We’re all about reducing, reusing and recycling but carbon offset credits sound more like an environmental penance for all of your past earth-bashing sins. Jubbling is about making smarter personal choices and changes that work for you. It’s not about paying a broad ransom, of sorts, to some faceless entity and then going about your business as usual. It’s also not about guilt for living your daily life.

Can you really take carbon credits seriously when the company Bombardier Learjet has a carbon offset program? Should you be riddled with guilt if you owned a 1970s muscle car from Detroit? We argue that the car is less of a black eye to Mother Nature versus a private jet.

Carbon credits are being sold on an idea that says we can essentially pay off our poor environmental habits or abuses while still continuing along without sacrifice or concern. This hypocrisy is making nations and individuals wealthy while the real problems are ignored.

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Jubbling Squared: Bike Works Seattle

Once again my kids are calling me cheap for deciding to purchase my 6 year old a brand new, pre-owned bicycle and I happily made the trip to Recycled Cycles. With a name like “Recycled Cycles,” you’d assume that they would have their way with Jubbling but that is not how it worked out. After making our purchase, I found out from Recycled Cycles that the majority of their sales are for new bikes vs. recycled ones. They were helpful though and told me to contact Bike Works Seattle as an organization that is focused on reselling recycled bikes.

Bike Works is the pinnacle of Jubbling and my only regret is that I didn’t find them first. Bike Works goal is to make biking “more accessible and affordable to people from all walks of life”. Their programs include “Earn-A-Bike” and an annual Kids Bike Swap. With Earn-A-Bike, kids spend 8 weeks learning bike repair and then donate 18 hours of their time repairing recycled bikes to get one of their own. It’s kind of a self-perpetuating Jubbling and is extremely valuable for kids. And Bike Works annual Kids Bike Swap is just that – bring your working, outgrown bicycle and swap it for another bicycle. It’s a great way to upgrade and also to keep a bike out of a landfill.

Their mission statement says it all:

The mission of Bike Works is to build sustainable communities by educating youth and promoting bicycling. For more than a decade we’ve worked to educate and empower youth, and make bicycling accessible and affordable to the Seattle community.

Tina Bechler, Bike Works Program Director, told me that people find out about them through referrals from local bicycle stores, bicycle publications as well as a lot of word of mouth. Tina also told me about several similar organizations in other cities that can be found through the Youth Bicycle Education Network (yben.org). The site is currently down and should be live again soon.

So if you’re in need of some environmental penance and are considering the purchase of a carbon offset or credit to clear your conscience, throw your money toward an organization like Bike Works or a similar organization in your area instead. Or you could show your support by purchasing and making your kid’s next bike a pre-owned, barely loved bicycle. These organizations could use the help and you will have the satisfaction knowing that your money is going to be well spent.

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Bike Dispenser: It’s European

Parking a car in a big city is anything but convenient. Public transportation can be over-crowded and the odors inside the subway typically do not mix well with breakfast, lunch or dinner. That’s where some fresh air and Bikedispenser come in.

This Dutch company created a contraption that literally dispenses a bicycle to a paying commuter right on the street. It’s open for business 24/7/365 and no actual human beings are involved in the transaction. The rental device can be customized for a number of settings including railway stations and park-and-ride lots. It can hold 30, 50 or 100 bikes depending upon need. Who would have thought that the country that brought us wooden shoes could make Jubbling so cool?

Although Jubbling staff might’ve injured themselves trying to figure out how the bikes get to the little doorway when someone places an order, the bigger unanswered brainteaser is how the idea would work here in the U.S. Only a few European countries have been using Bike Dispenser since 2007 so little is known about its long-term success or failure.

A similar rental idea using automobiles, called Zipcar, has been successfully operating in North America and some European cities. However, true Jubbling would lend itself to more pedal power and less throttle power. Even though America’s love affair with the car may be hard to break we can see this starting in already biker friendly cities like Seattle, Denver, Portland and Washington D.C. The only other enhancement would be to make them graffiti-proof. We suggest Brooklyn, NY, for a test city.

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