Quick Green Reads For The Weekend Volume Seventy Eight.

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I wish I needed or even wanted a full-size pick up truck right now. The Dodge dealer in town is selling Ram trucks for like $10,000 below invoice, with 0% interest for 72 months. What a good time to be the type of person who needs a giant pickup truck for whatever reason. However, with gas prices the way they are, not sure you could afford the gas even if the truck was cheap enough! On to the news…

Upon moving to Washington, D.C., about a year ago, I quickly realized two things: Our Nation’s Capitol was built on a swamp and The Hill is called that for a reason. So biking — my chief form of transit in the city — can be quite the damp, smelly affair. After arriving at more than a few congressional hearings smelling certifiably ripe, I realized my hippie stick wasn’t cutting it anymore and decided to try out some new options.

In what seems to be a growing trend in major cities, San Francisco is considering banning cars on part of Market St., one of its central boulevards. The proposal “would permanently close to all traffic except for city mass transit vehicles. . .between Octavia Boulevard and the Embarcadero.”

Looking for a fast, energy efficient way to cook dinner? Get a pressure cooker. Cooking with a pressure cooker can save 70% in fuel usage and cooking time. You can cook a whole chicken in 20 minutes, and veggies, potatoes and rice at lightening speed. The way a pressure cooker heats food requires less water and allows food to retain more vitamins and minerals. When ever I think of pressure cookers, remember that scene from Breakfast at Tiffanys where the pressure cooker explodes and Holly and Paul are covered with rice, but today, pressure cookers have better safety valves, so you won’t have to worry about explosions.

You can build a magnificent shelter with a couple of rolls of barbed wire, a bale of bags, a shovel and nothing more than the earth beneath your feet. This is the premise that inspired the imagination of visionary architect Nader Khalili when he conceived the idea of “sandbag architecture.” In his quest to seek solutions to social dilemmas such as affordable housing and environmental degradation, Khalili drew on his skills as a contemporary architect while exercising the ingenuity of his native cultural heritage; earthen architecture is common in his homeland, Iran, and throughout the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe and the Mediterranean.

Last week when I wrote about a Green Back to School I received a question about how to handle supply lists you get from the school with specific product requests that are not so green. I am all too familiar with these lists and yes many do request specific products or brands that are not so great for green people. So I have written a sample letter you can send along with your student to explain why you have deviated from their recommendations.

I always go on about how the current crisis in the habitat we depend upon for our health, happiness and security is full of opportunities for an improved way of life. What’s good for the planet is often what is good for the people. This principle is illustrated in the simple example of home care products. If the products, once they get washed down the drain, are non-toxic for the fish who end up swimming in them, then they are also safe for our kids who are exposed to them when when we use them in our homes.

This story about a Canadian woman who can set her water on fire is old news, but it caught my eye because the reason (as far as I can tell) that she can set her water on fire is because when the local oil company was drilling for natural gas nearby and they used a technique called hydraulic fracturing (often shortened to hydrofracing) to shake the oil loose from the geological formations underground.

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