Archives for February 2011

Jubbling 101: Kids Making Pet Toys Out Of Trash

Cat Toys by Mandy and MaggieThis weekend, my daughter Amanda and her friend Maggie decided to make cat toys again. This time, their toy making materials included twine, toilet paper wrapper, a little tape and a pencil to draw eyes. It’s hilarious to see the results because they not only spend time studying how their respective cats play but they also factor in what they know about how cats hunt in the wild and then meet up to develop the toys.

Using the numbers from the American Pet Products Association, we calculated that Americans spent roughly $2 billion on pet toys in 2010; $700 million on just cat toys. It feels good not to contribute to a number that large.


Greenpeace and Green Celebrities Aligning To Encourage Facebook To Power Data Center With Renewable Energy… Via Facebook (Again) has a post, “Celebrities Tell Facebook to Ditch Coal”, about a new push to get Facebook to move out of its mostly coal powered data center into one that uses an increased level of renewable energy. We wrote about this issue back in September 2010 when it was just Greenpeace leading the effort. But now, green celebrities are taking to Facebook and asking people to join the push too. Here is a video from Ed Begley and his wife, Rachelle Carson regarding the issue:

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Ed and Rachelle definitely practice what they preach and do not back away from confronting any and all environmental issues. After reading many articles about them, it’s easy to make a guess on where they’re going to stand. This example, pushing Facebook to abandon their Oregon data center in favor of one that is fully or partially driven by renewable energy sources, is no big surprise.

Jubbling gets it but for some reason, we’re having a hard time making sense of it. We had the same problem with this back when Greenpeace stood up against the new Facebook data center because in both cases, they’re taking their protest to Facebook. It’s kind of like driving a gas guzzling car cross country to protest the fact that there are too many gas guzzling cars. Think about it. Maybe making a stronger statement would be to leave Facebook in mass in order to make your statement; I’m sure MySpace would appreciate this.

Anyway, I don’t think Mark Zuckerberg is listening too closely. I’ve seen The Social Network and Mr. Zuckerberg probably loves seeing the spike in activity; positive or negative but always on Facebook. What he would be more apt to understand and respond to is watching users leaving his site to protest what Facebook is doing. That would require a commitment from the celebrities involved and I don’t think they’d be able to stomach that move.


Easy Bake Oven No More?

“The only way you’re taking my Easy-Bake Oven from me is if you pry it out of my dead cold dirty hands”
Little Keith M.
Scottsdale, AZ

Easy-Bake Oven from Hasbro

All hell is going to break loose as one of the first victims, the Easy-Bake Oven, is going to be discontinued thanks to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and the push toward more eco – sustainable lighting. The problem with the original oven is its use of 100 watt incandescent light bulbs which will be phased out and no longer manufactured as of 2012.

Parents are already lining up to vent on behalf of their kids and their Easy-Bake Ovens:

“My kid wanted to be the next Rachael Ray. Now, without his Easy-Bake Oven, he’ll probably end up a crackhead.”

UPDATE: Swooping in like a hero, Hasbro has announced that it is currently working on an Easy-Bake Oven replacement – The Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven. No word on exactly how it will cook the individual cake and/or cookie but wouldn’t it be great if it involved a kid pedaling a bicycle? Just sayin.


How Do You Justify Purchasing A Hybrid Vehicle vs Non-Hybrid Vechicle?

hybrid-vs-non-hybridBased on the NY Times Green Blog story, “Hybrids vs. Nonhybrids: The 5-Year Equation”

If you are deciding right now on what type of car to get – hybrid or non-hybrid – just based on fuel consumption, can you justify the additional expense of a hybrid over five years? That is the question Consumer Reports attempted to answer and it was later reported in the NY Times Green Blog.

They used examples including the Lexus RX350 (non-hybrid) vs the Lexus RX450h (hybrid) which costs $6200 more than its non-hybrid brother. The RX350 gets approx 21 mpg and the RX450h gets 26 mpg and based on sheer fuel efficiency numbers and according to the report, buying the hybrid 450h would only make fiscal sense if gas were priced at $8.77 gallon for the next five years. Check out the article for more information on this and other models.

But for me, the numbers just don’t seem to add up. With the Lexus RX350 vs RX450h comparison, the $6200 price difference breaks down to $1250 per year for five years. (The article based its numbers on driving an average of 12,000 miles per year.)

Gas price Lexus RX350 (21 mpg)
(cost to operate)
Lexus RX450 (26 mpg)
(cost to operate)
(per year)
$2.80/gal $1600/year $1292/year $308
$8.77/gal $5011/year $4047/year $964
$11.35/gal $6480/year $5232/year $1248

Through my very simple calculations, the sweet spot for buying the Lexus RX450h Hybrid seems to be when gas prices hit $11.35/gallon.

Cost effective or not, should you buy a hybrid? That’s up the individual. At the very least, driving a hybrid will reduce your consumption of gasoline or you could just find ways to drive either type less than the 12,000 miles per year average. Either way, the ultimate goal is to find ways to consume less whether you drive a hybrid or not. The NYTimes article may help some decide what to buy but I’ve already made my decision. I’m driving my car until I’m Fred Flinstoning it to where I need to go.


Reusable Bags Purchased To Replace Reusable Bags Purchased To Hold Reusable Bags [Repeat]

I have more reusable shopping bags than I’ll ever need. We’ve accumulated them over the years due to need at first and then through school fundraisers and from tradeshows. We easily have 10+ reusable shopping bags and we still forget the four we might need when we go to the grocery store. They’ve never been about fashion for us; reusable bags just function better and are more durable than paper or plastic. But wait, should they be about fashion? Should I buy more fashionable reusable bags, upgrade regulary and would I then be more apt to remember to bring them?

Get Hip Get Green BagRecently, there was an interesting exchange between the author of “How Big is your Bag-for-Life Mountain?”, by Paula Cocozza of The Guardian, and S Sri Ram of Supreme Creations – a UK based reusable bag manufacturer. In her article, Paula describes how amazed she is at the quantity of reusable bags, which should be bags for life but are anything but. In one store she visited, they offered 13 styles of reusable bag. It seems like selling us on reusable shopping bags is becoming less about function and more about fashion . S Sri Ram of Supreme Creations points out in his response, that’s how it should be:

“The fashion and design-conscious are more likely to remember their bag if it is well designed and up-to-date. Even if we only use these once in a while instead of new plastic bags, we are making a positive impact.”

Basically, the up to date style of the bag reminds us to bring it. I’d have to agree that a nicer looking reusable bag may motivate some people to bring it but doesn’t buying more reusable bags to follow the trends run counter to the goal of the reusable bag which is to reduce? Not just reduce our consumption of once-used plastic and paper but also reduce our need for reusable bags? Somehow, wrapping the “eco” label around these jute constructed carriers allows them to bypass the objective of reducing consumption and Supreme Creations has sold close to 25 million bags to prove it. And Mr. Ram wants us to buy more “Bags-for-Life”:

“I’ve got a bag for life you can use in the morning, a bag you can use in the day and a bag you can use in the evening, you would be very happy to buy all three or four of them.”

It’s like he’s rubbing the “eco” in our faces and profiting from it (nothing new). Here’s my advice – if you have more than 5 reusable bags, don’t buy anymore. If your kid is selling them to raise funds for their school, make a donation but don’t take the bags. Grocery Shirt 2.0 If you show up at the grocery store without your reusable bag, don’t buy another one. Use the paper or plastic ones they offer or just stuff the groceries in your shirt and pants and try to remember to bring your bags the next time.


NQJW BREAKING NEWS: Stomachs In Malawi Are Growling About A Possible Ban On Flatulence

Malawi row over whether new law bans farting – Finally, a precedent setting bill is released that could make breaking wind in public a misdemeanor. Thank you Malawi! The bill states that:

“Any person who vitiates the atmosphere in any place so as to make it noxious to the public to the health of persons in general dwelling or carrying on business in the neighbourhood or passing along a public way shall be guilty of a misdemeanour.”

Yes, it’s about methane, a greenhouse gas, but making this law stand the test might depend an investigators ability to capture DNA evidence from the suspected toot or the old line about “he who smelt it, delt it” might come into play and put the blame on the accuser. If this bill passes and makes its way to Malawi’s Supreme Court, its chance for success is probably dependent on what the justices ate the night before. BBC

Malawi Flatulence Ban