Out of the top 10 bike cities in the world, what city do you imagine is first? After visiting Amsterdam last weekend, I am not surprised that it is rated number one, with Portland following just behind in second. Amsterdam is home to the famous Amsterdam Bike Ramp next to Central Station, which holds over 7000 bikes for commuters to park while they travel by train. With a population around 760,000 habitants, there are around 600,000 resident owned bikes in the city. With a statistic like this, it is no wonder that 40% of Amsterdam’s traffic is created by bicycles.
The transportation infrastructure of Amsterdam is absolutely astonishing. If one were to add up all the cycling paths, it would total a length of around 400 kilometers. Considering that bike lanes connect the entire city, cyclists are well respected on the roads; which makes cycling an efficient, healthy and environmentally friendly way for anyone to get around. Plus, for tourists, there are over 140 bike shops, which either provide tours or rent bikes for as little as 8 Euros a day.
Just as all types of people ride bikes, all types of clothing are worn while riding. During the winter, cyclists bundle up in hats and scarves to overcome the wind. In the rain, people simply ride one-handedly, holding an open umbrella in the other. This past weekend I saw a man in a penguin suit, women in high heels and short skirts, and even a woman in a long fur coat riding unperturbed by the possibility of being splattered by mud. Frequently, parents pack multiple children on a bike with them, riding older kids on the handlebars or in a large industrial basket that is connected to the front of their bikes. Plus, as some people listen to their Ipods or chat on cell phones while pedaling, it seems to be the responsibility of pedestrians to get out of the way of all cyclists.
Considering that anthropologists say that the most important facets of a society are the ones that people give no reason for doing but feel are simply part of their makeup within the group. When asking a local male bicyclist in Vondel Park about why biking is so popular, he responded, “I don’t believe we think much about biking or not biking. It’s not a decision for us; it’s part of our heritage. I grew up riding my bike everywhere and I don’t know any better!”
Date Added: November 16, 2010 | Comments Off | Filed under: Carbon Offset,Current Events,Uncategorized — Tags: Amsterdam, Bikes, Environmental, Traveling — treeinabox @ 4:19 am
Coinciding with the week before last, this blog was also sparked because of the ongoing strikes and protesting in France. Who knew how quickly a beautiful city could turn ugly? Yet again, how many people think about garbage collection going on strike. As overfilled trashcans, some burnt from protesters, and a disarray of litter began to fill the streets, something struck my interest. Not only was I becoming disgusted by the smell and the repulsive site, I was also becoming outraged as I realize how little the people of Nantes really recycle. Don’t get me wrong; I know I am spoiled coming for Portland, where the average amount of recycling is typically at least twice as much as one’s household trash. Yet, why is it that the people of Nantes have less concern for one of the most useful ways of saving our trees and the environment? Why is it that this environmental push is dominant in certain cities of the world and not others?
First off, I think it has to do with the type of culture one resides within. Portland is a young city, founded in 1843, with a very eclectic and open-minded population. Portland is constantly bustling with new innovations and attracting people with naturalistic ideals. On the other hand, Nantes is a historical city, founded in 56 ad J.C.and seems to have stayed true to its historical personality. As my host farther, Allan Cauet, stated, “the people of Nantes have been around for many generations. There is a very slow process of change in this city.” Perhaps this old-fashioned mentality is what is preventing them from moving forward.
Secondly, the government has quite a bit of control. Within Nantes, there is one recycling collection solely for paper items, a minimal amount of plastics and sometimes yard debris. For certain aluminum and glass, which might I remind there is a lot of because of the wine consumption, one must take one’s own recycling to inconvenient collection points around the city. Considering this is a nuisance for the citizens, naturally this leads to less of a collective effort to separate their waste and recycling.
Even though in 2006 about 250,000 tons of plastic bottles were recycled in France; this seems fairly small based on the fact that France creates about 426 million tonsof trash each year. What Nantes does accept as recycling, is insignificant in comparison to Portland. For example, although the French are the number one consumers of yogurt in the world, the yogurt containers are non-recyclable; meaning an average household throws away around 1,500 contains a year.
So, what should be done? As you have witness lately in world news, protesting seems to be a national sport here in France; I suggest there should be an organized effort to educate the French society on the importance of recycling. It takes over 700 years to decompose a plastic water bottle that is thrown into the garbage rather than recycling. Nantes, as well as the rest of France, needs to get on the bandwagon of making an effort to change the way they live to save this earth.
If interested in more about ideas and recycling check out:
Date Added: November 8, 2010 | Comments Off | Filed under: Carbon Offset,Current Events — Tags: Carbon Offset, France, Plastics, Recycling — treeinabox @ 4:36 pm
Some say laws need to be passed to force people to consume less gasoline, others say we need to continue to prove the detrimental effects of CO2 emissions and others say we just need to wait till our older generations pass on. Yet, within less than a week, over 3,700 gas stations in France closed down forcing people to choose other methods of transportation without too much complaint.
How and why you might ask? Well, as I imagine many of our readers have heard, France is dealing with intense protesting against a new retirement reform. The protest is against the government’s decisions to push back the retirement age by two years. Considering that France wouldn’t be the country it is today if it’s citizens did not take to the streets in the past, it is astonishing how accepting the French are of the inconvenience the protesting causes.
As stated by Allan Cauet, a resident of Nantes, “While around 15% of the French population is participating in the protesting and strikes, this small group has still drastically impacted the daily lives of all French citizens. “ Although, the panic buying was blamed for a 50% increase in fuel sales last week, this week a representative of Exxon Mobil stated that the impact of the blockage was climbing to a “critical crisis.” The question is, is that “critical” for the gas mongrels or for the general population?
Considering that an average Renault (an European car) produces an average C02 output of 169.5/km, the lack of petroleum has radically lowered the CO2 output in France in the past week. Instead of depending on one’s car, people are comfortable to take the city transportation, to ride their bike or to even walk over an hour to get to their desired destinations.
Coming from the environmentally progressive city of Portland, I was still extremely surprised to realize how lavishly a majority of Portlanders use their cars. Instead, I think it is time we learn some abstract lessons from the French Protest mentality. First off, mankind as a whole needs to be more accepting of others; and secondly, we need to acknowledge that we need to look at the larger picture rather than just the personal convenience of our own cars.
Everyday that the protests and strikes continue is another day that people are not excessively wasting gasoline and emitting more toxic CO2 into our atmosphere. Francoise Michelle, a 55-year-old Marseille resident very simply stated for Insurance Journal, “Transport, the rubbish, the nurses, the teachers, the workers, the white collar, everyone who works, we should all be united. If there is no transport today, we’re not all going to die from it.”
Even though people all over the world live as though it would be the end of the world if there was no individual means of transportation tomorrow, I believe it’s time we find a way to think communally about how our actions will impact this world as a whole
Date Added: October 29, 2010 | Comments Off | Filed under: Carbon Offset,Current Events,Uncategorized — Tags: Carbon Offset, France Protesting, Less fuel — treeinabox @ 7:42 pm
I Arrived in Nantes late on a Tuesday evening, and not much of the “landscape” could be seen. A thin cloud cover blocked the moon from lighting up the sleeping city.
Although the city seemed asleep, when the front door of my host family’s house opened, a rush of joyous energy came bursting out. My host mother warmly welcomed me, and I instantaneously knew I had fallen into a vibrant and “open” family. The slight nervousness I had been feeling in the pit of my stomach disappeared and a sense of excitement replaced it.
What would I discover within the next few days? What hidden mysteries do France and the city of Nantes hold for me? What places in Nantes would I come to deeply appreciate for one reason or another?
This last question was answered the next morning as I slipped on my Mizuno Tennis shoes for an explorative run! Little did I know, my house is located less than 5 minutes, from one of the most well known parks in Nantes. Le Grand-Blottereau, was built between 1742 and 1747 by a ship owner named Thomas Dobree. Upon his death Dobree left the Grand Blottereau Park to the city.
After the appeal of Grand Blottereau’s convenient location, I fell in love with many other aspects of this beautiful park. I recognized the uniqueness of the exotic and tropical tree species such as eucalyptus, pomegranate, olive trees and mimosas. The park actually represents 5 different cultural and environmental regions of the world: a banana forest, a Korean garden, an American Bayou, a Mediterranean Rock Garden, and a French Garden. The French Garden, mindful of architectural propriety, is located directly in front of the chateau.
Two Tropical Greenhouses also sit in front of the chateau. They house France’s only collection of commercially grown exotic plants such as: cotton, rice, cocoa, coffee and mahogany. Thanks to SEVE, Nante’s Parks & Gardens and Environmental Department and their large nursery located within the “Grand Blottereau” grounds, one can also find areas, throughout the park, devoted to lemon, tangerine and grapefruit trees- as well as hot peppers, asparagus, peas and peanut plants.
Since the middle of September I’ve visited the park almost daily. Each time I discover another hidden gem. Whether it is coming across two children playing hide and seek within the miniature tropical jungles or finding a veiled bench next to the American Bayou where I can enjoy a freshly baked almond croissant on an early Sunday morning, I continue to find this park unforgettable. I find tropical plants I’ve never seen before and discover clandestine paths through seemingly little trod paths. I am in awe of this park and the significant work that is put into its upkeep.
There is much history to this park since its gifting to the city by Mr. Dobree. After[K1] World War II it was used to host those who had lost their homes during the war. In 1905 “Le Grand-Blottereau” was adopted by SEVE, who focuses on studying, conceptualizing, realizing and discussing the collections of all municipal green spaces in Nantes. The Grand Blottereau also a houses several small educational facilities: “The Great Blottereau” horticultural High School, the Jules Rieffel High School and CFA’s “green education center of the city of Nantes[K2] .”
Cultural, Educational, Green, Peaceful… : A space far away from the neighboring world of civilization’s emerging and transformation machinations. A blessing, once again, full of trees.
Date Added: October 19, 2010 | Comments Off | Filed under: Carbon Offset,Facts about Trees,Uncategorized — Tags: Facts about Trees, France, Nantes, Parks — treeinabox @ 12:39 pm
In 2007, the Vatican City had plans to become the first “Carbon Neutral State” through using solar power and planting a Vatican Climate Forest in Hungary to offset all its carbon emissions. They teamed up with U.S. based Planktos Corporation and its Hungarian partner, KlimaFa Ltd., to get their forestry project underway.
George Russ, CEO of Planktos stated that, “Not only is the Vatican steadily reducing its carbon footprint with energy efficiency and solar power, its choice of new mixed growth forests to offset the balance of its emissions shows a deep commitment to planetary stewardship as well. It eloquently makes the point that eco-restoration is a fitting climate change solution for a culture of life.”
Amid negotiations, the companies promised to restore more than 600 acres of forests in Hungary along the Tisza River. A portion of this reforestation project was to have been designated as the Vatican Climate Forest, and nearly 125,600 oak, white willow, black poplar and wild fruit trees were to have been planted by November 2008. The Vatican Climate Forest was never completed because of company mishaps, yet this has not discouraged the Vatican from creating other projects to offset their carbon emissions.
During 2008, the Vatican replaced the deteriorating concrete panels of the Paul VI auditorium, with photovoltaic cells that will convert sunlight into electricity. These solar panels generate enough energy to light, heat and cool the 6,000-seat auditorium. Plus when it is not in use, the surplus energy is fed back into the Vatican network. Andre Koekenhoff, one of the workers, told the Associated Press that, “with this plant, if it is working, in about two weeks we avoid 200 tons of carbon dioxide, and this is equivalent to 70 tons of oil.”
Considering that the Catholic Church claims to strive for stewardship, this effort to become a “Carbon Neutral State,” is a perfect way to put their values into action. According to Bloomberg reports in 2009, newer reports suggested that the Holy See was planning to invest €500m in a 100MW solar farm, which is expected to come online in 2014, generating enough energy for 40,000 homes.
The project is the latest in a series of moves from the Vatican, designed to enhance its environmental credentials. Alongside the rooftop solar panels, officials looking into a biomass facility at the pope’s Castel Gandolfo summer residence.
However, not everyone is satisfied with the Vatican’s plans to become “more green.” Mr. Iain Murray, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute stated, “To the Church of Green, the Vatican will remain heretical.” Furthermore, with the failure of the Vatican Climate Forest project, another article was published stating, “Buying carbon-offset may ease eco-guilt but not global warming.”
On the contrary, environmentalist Rohonyi told ABC News, “Generally, this is a good thing. The idea is praiseworthy. Because of this deal the Vatican will perhaps start propagating environmental awareness among its faithful.”
Taking into consideration that the Vatican may someday accomplish it’s goal to entirely offset it’s carbon emissions, it will be a shining example of cooperation and diligence on the part of many who are striving for a greener way of living.
Interested in similar articles? Here’s more:
Nine of the Most Carbon-neutral Communities: http://bit.ly/cKXFFS
How do Photovoltaic cell’s work?: http://bit.ly/dseVdG
Vatican may sue carbon-offset company: bit.ly/dlllXV
“Buying carbon-offset may ease-guilt but not global warming”: http://bit.ly/bqjLG8
Date Added: July 15, 2010 | Comments (3) | Filed under: Carbon Offset — Tags: Carbon Offset, eco-restoration, Solar Energy, stewardship, Vatican, Vatican Climate Forest — treeinabox @ 10:40 am
Every bride planning a wedding knows just how much time and energy goes into every detail of the special day. While the planning process takes its toll on many brides’ mental, physical and even emotional state it also takes its toll on the environment. According to The Green Bride Guide’s website there are 2.5 million weddings annually in the United States each producing about 62 tons of carbon dioxide and on average generating 400-600 lbs of garbage (http://www.greenbrideguide.com).
Many couples today are appalled to discover the carbon footprint left by traditional weddings, causing them to seek out more earth friendly wedding choices.
Creative ways to celebrate your love for each other and your love for the earth:
Couples no longer need sacrifice quality and style in order to lessen their impact, and going green isn’t as complicated as it once was. Make simple choices that will significantly reduce your carbon footprint on your wedding day and we’ll all breathe easier and healthier.
Date Added: July 12, 2010 | Comments (4) | Filed under: Carbon Offset,Party Favors,Weddings — treeinabox @ 1:12 pm
This hotel, is made of specially coated aluminum that will be nearly transparent when viewed from within, so that you are enfolded by the forest that you are within. The exterior will mirror the surroundings, thus making you almost invisible to those outside your haven.
The plan is multi-level with enclosed and exterior spaces and an electrically heated floor to ecologically maintain comfortable temps. It opens July17th of this year along with 5 other Tree Hotels (which we will feature in coming posts), so we will get info on how to book these amazing rooms (and determine whether you need to shinny up the trunk to get to the space!)
Experience staying close to nature in a place of great natural beauty where joyful childhood memories of tree forts can be relived in a comfortable, sophisticated and ecological environment: Booking details to come: if you’d like us to email you with details comment below.
Date Added: July 6, 2010 | Comments (1) | Filed under: Carbon Offset,Facts about Trees — Tags: tree, tree hotel, treehouse — treeinabox @ 11:41 am
Despite being the centerpiece of celebrations all over the world, firework displays unfortunately release lots of toxic chemicals into the environment, from heavy metals to perchlorate. The American Pyrotechnics Association estimates that typically there are around 18,000 fireworks shows occurring across the U.S. on the Fourth of July. Surprisingly, this does not include backyard fireworks, which have grown quite rapidly throughout the past 10 years or so.
Since 2000, sales have practically doubled for backyard fireworks, meaning that over 238 million pounds of fireworks are fired off every year. An article written by Brian Severin, states: “Fireworks are propelled by black powder, also known as gunpowder. This substance consists of an oxidizer (potassium nitrate), a fuel (carbon), and an accelerant (sulfur). For every 270 grams of black powder used, 132 grams of carbon dioxide are created, the rest of it turning into potassium sulfide and nitrogen. It is estimated that the annual U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from fireworks is 60,340 tons or the same emissions from 12,000 cars on the road for a year.”
Furthermore, an article published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology in 2009 found that, following a fireworks display, the amount of perchlorate in bodies of water within close proximity, often increased anywhere from 24 to 1,068 times the amount present before the fireworks. It is estimated that it takes between 20 to 80 days before the chemical levels subside.
Considering all this, what would it take to offset this significant amount of carbon emission that our patriotic celebrations cause each year? Well, one simple answer is to plant more trees. Calculating it out, it would take the entire lifetime of 5,000 trees to offset the 60,000 tons of carbon emissions produced in this one day. Some environmentalists are suggesting different types of fireworks that are more environmentally friendly. Although these “green” fireworks are known to be nitrogen-rich, allowing for less smoke and a cleaner burn; the down side is the higher cost of “green” fireworks still remains a obstruction for wider acceptance.
Photograph by: Evrim Icoz
Written by: Adrienne Carlson
Date Added: | Comments Off | Filed under: Carbon Offset — Tags: carbon emissions, Carbon Offset, Facts about Trees — treeinabox @ 10:35 am
What’s worse, Methane gas or Carbon Dioxide? Some research states that Methane gas is 23 times more potent as a green house gas than Carbon Dioxide. While other research states that: compared with carbon dioxide, Methane has a high global warming potential of 72 (calculated over a period of 20 years) or 25 (for a time period of 100 years). Many scientists have been trying to study the effects of burning methane, as they know that Methane turns into Carbon Dioxide and Water once burnt. Although this alteration of chemicals is a slight improvement, it still leaves a green house gas, no matter how patented it may be.
Earlier this week, I came across an article on treehugger.com that proposed a new use for methane gas, produced by animal waste such as dog poop. The designer of this project, Matthew Mazzotta, wants your dog to provide power to the very park when he just pooped in. The system would need dog walkers to collect their dog’s poop in biodegradable plastic bags, which they would then throw in the Park Spark Methane Digester.
As the article explained, the project is a simple passive system that uses the heat and light that is produced from burning Methane, generated from dog waste itself to power public art works. The digester would use the natural process of anaerobic decomposition, where organic matter is sealed in an airtight container, to produce methane. More specifically, the Park Spark Project is mostly buried underground except for a tube and a hand-crank that is above ground, so that people can feed the digester and stir the mixture inside. In the end, this captured Methane gas could produce enough energy to keep a lamp post lit, or maybe even two.
What a creative idea? How many dog parks are there in the US alone? Some say there are over 600 city or county-sanctioned off-leashed areas in the US; and over 1,100 exist in Canada and the US combined. And what do most people do with their fluffy friend’s waste? Most, throw it straight in the trash. Then, their trash is later taken to the dump where there are a number of potent green house gasses that are being released as things continuously decompose. If we were able to begin using this Methane gas, what an improvement that would be, rather than adding one more thing to our dump that is extremely detrimental to our environment.
Written by: Adrienne Carlson
Check out the Website: http://parksparkproject.com/home.html
Date Added: June 24, 2010 | Comments Off | Filed under: Carbon Offset — Tags: Environmental Innovations — treeinabox @ 10:59 am
Creative gardening on the go is transforming the way we look at space all around
Considering within the past several years gardening has become one of the fastest growing and greenest activities sparked by the Green Revolution, it is no surprise that artists, activists and DIY hobbyists have all come together with a common goal to transform urban gardening. From Calgary, Canada to Tel Aviv, Israel, people all over the world are experimenting with new ways of garden on the go. Not only are there simple designs, such as planting a tree in a grocery cart or flowers in a broken down object, there are also much more complex works as well. One of the most innovative projects is gardening on top of a city bus. Dutch artist Annechien Meier has produced a number of works that challenge our perceptions of city and nature. Considering that buses undoubtedly get abundant sun, why not plant on their roofs? Or, how about on a caboose of a metro train? What better way to help offset these public transits pollutions on a daily basis? Plus street-level gardening may be perfect advertisement for Mother Nature. When it comes to mobile gardening, there are no rules, only opportunities through creative innovations.
(Written review of: http://www.thedailygreen.com/green-homes/latest/mobile-gardens)
Date Added: June 17, 2010 | Comments Off | Filed under: Carbon Offset — Tags: environmental Innovation, gardening, plants — treeinabox @ 12:38 pm
Tree In A Box has invested with ClimatePartner to continue our effort to offset our carbon footprint. Located in 5 major cities throughout Europe and the United States, ClimatePartner commits to balancing the relationship between commercial enterprises and climate awareness by giving companies a direct financial investment in green technology. ClimatePartner provides science-based emission compensation, allowing Tree In A Box’s calculated emissions beyond its tree planting efforts to be offset by green natural energy sources. They provide a visible sign that climate protection and sustainability is being taken seriously by Tree In A Box and their other sponsored companies.
ClimatePartner’s core business is sustainable media, as they were the founding company of climate-neutral printing. Numerous leading retail brands, print buyers, and over 140 commercial printers throughout Europe and the US rely on ClimatePartner to provide carbon emission calculations to offset their printing processes.
With each gift that Tree In A Box sells, a portion of their proceeds are given to a Wind Power Generation project in Vani Vilas Sagar, India that is funded by ClimatePartner. As our company continues to grow, we are proud to do everything we can to continuously offset our carbon footprint, striving to be a sustainable company from start to finish. Plant trees to offset your carbon and we will both plant trees and invest in green technology on your behalf. Thank you!
Written by: Adrienne Carlson
Date Added: June 16, 2010 | Comments Off | Filed under: Carbon Offset — Tags: Environmental Innovations, Treeinabox — treeinabox @ 1:16 pm