Category Archives: Environmental Awareness

Harvesting the Biosphere

“Harvesting the Biosphere is still the most fundamental economic activity of modern civilization. Crops for food, crops for animals, wood, raw materials, wool, cotton… without these things there is no civilization.”

How much life is there in the biosphere? By “biosphere,” he means everywhere on earth where there are living things: in the air, on the ground, and in the oceans. …Ultimately he concludes that the dry mass of all living things on Earth is about 1.6 trillion metric tons.


To read a book review written by Bill Gates and watch a little video from the author, visit:

Mushrooms to Clean Up Toxic Waste

“Most Americans think of mushrooms as ingredients in soup or intruders on a well-tended lawn. Stamets, however, cherishes a grander vision, one trumpeted in the subtitle of his 2005 book, Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World.

Mushroom-producing fungi, he believes, can serve as game changers in fields as disparate as medicine, forestry, pesticides and pollution control. He has spent the past quarter-century preaching that gospel to anyone who will listen.”



For the full story about how mushrooms can bio-remediate and more, plus about the pioneer Paul Stamets who is pushing the science and vision forward, visit:


Also, here is a video of Stamets explaining how mushrooms breakdown fuel, pesticides, plastics, and other chemicals, all naturally:

Ed Begley on Living Green

“According to Begley, the biggest misconception about living green is that it has to be expensive. “I didn’t have the money and I certainly didn’t want to get into debt,” he says. He made the cheap and easy changes first, and says he saved $300,000 over the past 40 years.”

Ed Begley

To read more and to watch the interviews, visit:

Environmentally Conscious Movie Spotlight: Bio-Dome

Released in 1996, Bio-Dome attempted to bring an eco-conscious attitude to the forefront of the burned out minds of teenage boys everywhere through use of crass humor and wild fantasy (such as the fact that not one but two attractive and intelligent women could actually be interested in the lead characters Bud and Doyle). If there was not an environmental back plot this flick would be classified, like many other movies starring Pauly Shore or Stephen Baldwin, as a “stoner” movie but because there is an effort to include a fantastic moral message, the bad acting and terrible script take a back seat in this review.

The plot is simple — A couple of unattractive, lame guys with a generally cavalier attitude about the planet miraculously manage to date environmentally stringent and beautiful women then through a course of predictably moronic twists, somehow become locked inside, destroy and subsequently end up saving an entire, working eco-system.

Does this concept sound a bit far fetched? Remove the idiot character factor and that leaves us with a sealed, working eco-system. This notion is one that dates back to the early 1800’s when a British physician discovered that plants could grow under glass. It would be fair to assume that Nathaniel Ward would be proud to learn his findings were used as fodder for a comedy which is the basis for why this movie will get a positive review here.

Some concepts discussed in the movie are recycling, land clean up (litter is discussed several times) and an appreciation for Earth Day. The movie is not a motion picture epic but holds a slight bit of predictable humor while it promotes bettering the environment. That is a notion we should all support so I give this movie 2 out of five “green” leaves.

Smart Energy Technology:

Artist Spotlight: Kass Wilson Decorative Finish Artist from Wallstreat

Kass Wilson is a Decorative Finish Artist based out of Georgia who truly believes that “Good design follows the trends. GREAT design sets the trends.” Because she is a Finisher, I definitely wanted to discuss the environmental benefits of her job. As a Finisher myself, I always fascinate to review other artist’s work and see their specialty. While perusing Kass’ website to acquire photos to punctuate this interview it became clear one of hers is imitating wood grain. Creating items to present as expensive and less available wood species while utilizing a water soluble base and not having to cut down a single tree to do it is an environmental impact I can certainly get behind! Almost all of the below built-ins were white, before photos can be seen on Kass’ website at the end of the interview.

Can you tell us a little about what it is you do?

I am a decorative finish artist in the Atlanta area.

How long have you been providing custom decorative treatments?

Finishes and design have been my passion for about 15 years.

What is the creative process behind your finishes? How does an idea take shape?

Usually, I am called into a client’s home by a designer or a builder. The objective is to take an ordinary space and make it extraordinary, they are looking for the WOW factor. I take inspiration from the fabrics and finishes that are in the space. Rather than just doing acres of mediocre wall finishes, I help the designer to bring out the architecture of the home. Usually this means doing OUTSTANDING finishes in smaller area.

What products have you abandoned to become more Earth friendly?

When I first started in this industry, solvent based products were commonly used to create finishes. The smell alone was enough to make me search out other products that were not so toxic. Knowing that I would be exposed to these products on a daily basis, it was common sense that my health was not worth the risk. It did take some effort, however, I found many substitutes that work just fine. In some cases, they work even better. Like anything else, there is always a learning curve. But many manufacturers have seized the opportunity to create more eco-friendly products and offer the training to go along with them. I have found many of these products to be even better.

Do you find that the alternatives hold up just as well?

Yes, sometimes better. Over the last 5 years, water based products have improved so much. There is very little that cannot be accomplished with water based VS oil/solvent based products in the hands of a well educated finish artist. A good example is the use of topcoats. Oil based products dry so hard that they will chip. They are difficult to repair and over time will yellow. Water based products will not.

When did you first become interested in living and working green?

When I first decided to not work with solvent based products about 15 years ago.

Why is it so important to go green? In what other ways do you work in an eco friendly manner?

For the health and safety of myself and my customers. Also, when disposing of leftover products.

Recently, I teamed up with a company that builds custom wine cellars. The biggest selling point for them was the products that I would be using. Apparently, certain chemicals can penetrate through the cork of a bottle of wine. They were very careful about reading through my material data sheets to evaluate what I was proposing. They were even concerned about lime based plasters. Fortunately, there are products that I can use that easily mimic that same look.

How did you approach your first client with green design concepts? How long ago was that and were they immediately receptive?

People were immediately impressed by my concern for their health. As recently as 5 years ago, there was still an ongoing struggle among artists to be true to the traditional products and methods. Harsh chemicals were common. I found it very beneficial to be able to tell clients that there would be little (if any) odor to the products that I would be using in their home. Everyone found this quite attractive especially if they had children, any existing health issues or the possibility of pregnancy.

There are often occasions when it would be easier, quicker and cheaper to just use an oil based glaze but I won’t. Usually, when I explain the benefits of my products to customers, they are very appreciative of learning about the differences. If they still choose to use the solvent based products, I will gladly refer them to someone who is still willing to use them. But, that list is becoming shorter.

Has any one green practice become second nature, something you personally do every day?

I usually plan my projects very efficiently to reduce my trips to the jobsites which saves on gas and emissions. No solvent based products are used. While working on a job, all of the dirty tools are spritzed with water and sealed in a plastic bag. This way, they can all be cleaned at once which reduces the amount of water that is used. I keep a bag full of my previously used plastic grocery bags in my car. These are recycled as finishing tools, garbage bags, carriers for dirty tools, etc. Plastic buckets that contain product are cleaned when empty. These are recycled as my mixing containers. The ones that are not salvageable are kept and filled with any excess product that would normally be washed down a sink.

I rarely use disposable plastic sheeting as drop cloths. Instead, I use recycled bed sheets, old vinyl tablecloths or anything else that will work. When purchasing drop cloths, I always get the ones that can be used over and over. In time, the added cost initially pays for itself over time.

What green practice do you recommend readers try?

Use water based paint, top coats and stains rather than oil.

As an independent artist what is your greatest challenge?

A big challenge for me is to stay current. My typical client is looking for something new and creative. They are not interested in just sponging or ragging their walls. It is my job to bring innovative ideas to the table. Therefore, I am always searching for classes or products that can push me to think about finishes in a different way. Especially fun is when I see a new twist on an old product or process. That gets my wheels turning.

What has been your greatest success to date?

My greatest success is the respect that I have achieved as an artist, from designers, peers but most of all from my customers. I never get tired of watching the look on their faces as we are taking down the blue tape. That is priceless. The ability to see color and visualize what a space can potentially be is a gift. But, the real gift is being able to share it.

What is your advice to a fellow artisan who is new to their industry?

For new artists 2 words of wisdom:

1. Learn all that you can from as many people as possible. Do not get stuck in your own city taking classes from the same person or group. Check out many different schools and get feedback from others who have attended. Be prepared to travel to learn. It may be more expensive but, this is an investment in yourself. Apprenticing is also a good option provided the teacher is truly interested in teaching you not just getting cheap labor to do some of the grunt work.
2. NEVER sacrifice quality. This is your reputation on the line. For example, I have watched finishers substitute sheet rock mud for quality plasters to cut costs. It comes back to haunt them usually within 6 months. If they are lucky, the customer will at least call them back for help. But, most of the time, the customer wants nothing more to do with them and tells all of her friends. Good quality equipment (like ladders and scaffold) may be expensive but is the most effective form of health insurance you can buy. Quality brushes will save you time since they do a lot of the work for you. Always allow plenty of time, plus, a little extra. The quality of your work will be compromised if you are rushing through prep work, too tired or rushing to meet a deadline.

Do you have an online presence where your work can be viewed?

Is your work featured in a gallery or other brick & mortar?

Locally, here in Atlanta, my finishes are incorporated at Designs of the Interior at both Windward and John’s Creek, Ceramic Technics, The Joint and numerous show homes in the area. Publications are ongoing and my book, Creative Finishes, can be ordered on Amazon.
Smart Energy Technology:

Electrathon America: A New Eco-Sport

There is a relatively new sport that promotes social awareness and comprehension of efficient alternative electric vehicles. Currently growing in popularity with the support of environmentally conscious individuals the Electrathon is held throughout the country. The Electrathon America competition is a race which involves participants to drive electrically powered vehicles as far as possible within their allotted time using a specific amount of battery power. It supplies a platform where sheer expertise and originality can be demonstrated. The Electrathon is an economical sport established to ensure proper regulation and safety precautions. Most Electrathon competitions have one hour races on a blocked loop course drawing on restricted electrical energy.

The entire sport is sort of a fun experiment to test the boundaries of alternative vehicles. Each vehicle is designed to seat only one person. They are often lightweight for speed and steamlined. These three to four wheel electric vehicles are created by their owners or club team. The battery packs are deep cycle lead acid never weighing more than 67 pounds under Electrathon’s regulations. To participate you must join their competition membership. The general membership is mainly for the events supporters who do not want to race. All memberships last for an entire year. The Electrathon allows participants to build their own battery operated vehicle and compete among other environmentally-friendly competitors. Through racing they learn the mechanics of electrically powered systems. The winner is the individual that created and manipulated the electric battery for better efficiency.

Anything that can bring excitement to alternative vehicles is worth exploring. To truly make a difference in our environment eco-conscious can not be a select group of people but the entire world. The Electrathon can assist families to teach their children early that fossil fuels are not a necessity. You can race and have an entertaining event while still living a sustainable lifestyle. It is a fantastic event to attend that represents your beliefs. Managing a green way of life can be difficult. The Electrathon America competition gives people a positive outlet to spread awareness and enjoy life at the same time. This sport is also a great way to showcase what electric vehicles can really do to crowds that have never considered alternative energy vehicles before.

If you’d like to attend an Electrathon competition you can check out their calendar for event locations. Countless electric marathons are started by local green residents who wish to spread awareness in their neighborhood about alternative energy. Electrathons can be started locally through researching if any are held in your area, finding a venue, recruiting contestants, collecting the money to fund the event ($500-$5,000), and obtaining insurance to hold the sanctioned race. High schools are also eligible to sanction Electrathon events. This is usually done through the Power Drive Program which helps students construct their single person electric vehicles and educate them on alternative resources. The more people who get involved with Electrathon the sooner it will be an annual sport.

Smart Energy Technology:

The Green Power Partnership Program

There is a new program called the Green Power Partnership which rallies various organizations to purchase green power in a manner that can lessen environmental impacts related to electricity usage. Voluntary programs like this is a positive step in the direction we want the world to take for the planet’s future. Over hundreds of Partner organizations are participating in this effective procedure. Billions of kilowatt-hours of valuable green power has been purchased so far. The type of organizations involved includes numerous businesses, prestigious colleges, several Fortune 500 companies, state, local, and federal governments.

Green power is part of renewable energy. Renewable energy consists of energy sources that can replace themselves through brief periods of time without depletion. Common renewable energies are geothermal, biomass, solar, and the use of wind. It may seem like an insignificant change to utilize green power but it can make a major difference. Depending on the form of renewable energy method used the surrounding environment can be greatly impacted. An example of the power of renewable energy is hydroelectric sources which produce environmental indemnities related to eco-issues involving lakes and land usage. The EPA describes green power as generated electricity from a biogas, solar, geothermal biomass, or low-impact hydroelectric source. Utilizing green power can significantly reduce greenhouse gases. It’s much better than the conventional energy technologies we currently use. Our conventional sources such as fossil fuels in the form of gas, oil, and even uranium releases massive amounts of air pollution into the environment. The biggest source of anthropogenic CO2 emissions (human produced) is from these fossil fuels. Green power such as biomass generates biogenic CO2 emissions which are harmonized with nature’s uptake of CO2 through vegetation.

The benefits of the Green Power Partnership program are tremendous. Each participating organization makes a positive environmental impact on the world through sidestepping carbon dioxide emissions and decreasing certain types of air pollution. It can assist in maintaining furture electricity prices from rising and serve as a brand differentiator according to the EPA. Another benefit of green power is the ability to produce customer, backer, or vested interest allegiance and work force pride within the business. Building favorable publicity and enhancing your company’s public image is also another aspect of the program. The Green Power Partnership shows civic stewardship. Communities gain in the process as well. When organizations join the program it lessens the entire community’s carbon footprint. The environment is protected in that area. Local businesses, citizens, and environmental organizations engage with one another. All participants earn national recognition as an EPA GPC receiving street signs showing the community’s dedication to the environment as a GPC.

GPC’s are any city, town, or village that has a local government, businesses, and residents collectively buying green power in amounts that meet EPA’s Green Power Community requirements. The EPA requires all participating local governments to join Green Power Partner and then take control of their local green power campaign for the surrounding area. They work with the community’s utility and local businesses, individuals, and organizations to make the program a success. There is immense power in green. Programs like these make our goal of a clean planet achievable.

Smart Energy Technology:

Artist Spotlight: Tristan Prettyman, Musician from San Diego

It is always nice to see when someone is doing their part to help save our planet so when I read a blog written by Tristan Prettyman recently about all the amazing little things she was doing to that end, I immediately contacted her to see if she would be willing to share her thoughts on being eco-conscious. Tristan is a singer and songwriter based in San Diego, California who is quickly making a name for herself across the world with the recent release of her second album Hello…x. She is touring this album now and like many musicians she was concerned with the impact a cross country tour might have on the environment. Through the use of reusable water bottles filled with filtered tap water, metal silverware and personal coffee mugs, she and her bus mates have already begun reducing their level of waste. Her efforts extend far beyond the tour bus however and she was really excited to share it with us.

At what age do you first remember becoming interested in helping to protect the environment?

I think I was born interested. Growing up in San Diego, especially near the beaches and beautiful parks like Torrey Pines preserve I was always outdoors as a kid. I surfed, did beach cleanups, took field trips to tide pools, went camping and horseback riding in the mountains. As you grow older you take those memories with you and wonder what you can do preserve the environment around you for those to enjoy in the years to come.

My music has really allowed me to travel and see the world and now I’ve become more interested in helping raise environmental awareness in other communities, and encouraging others to get involve doing things locally.

Growing up was your family also Earth conscious?

Definitely. We had a garden growing up and before the county even had a recycling program we’d take our cans and bottles to the recycling center.

What are some of the ways you have incorporated going green into your work?

We have a bus this tour so we are able to do a lot. We try to eliminate plastic bottles by carrying a 5 gallon water jug with a pump. We all have reusable recycled Sigg bottles which cut down on a ton of plastic waste. I try to use metal silverware and wash it everyday instead of plastic and travel with my own coffee cup. We use recycled paper plates and bowls and travel with a recycling bin on our bus.

Is there any one green practice that is something you do naturally every day?

I’d say having a Sigg bottle has really changed my life. I used to spend so much on water; I was a Fiji brand fanatic. But one day, I just switched and started drinking tap water and bought a Brita filter for home. Buying bottled water adds [up] and ends up in landfills and waterways.

What are some of your day to day efforts that promote an eco conscious lifestyle (drive a hybrid vehicle, vegetarian, recycle, use cloth bags, ride a bike, etc)?

I mentioned some already, but I do most everything you mentioned. I’ve driven a Toyota Hybrid Highlander for the past 2 years. I love it. It doesn’t get insanely amazing mileage like some if the other hybrids out there, but for an SUV it’s great. My bass player and I both have bikes on tour, so we cruise around everywhere. I use recycled bags everywhere. And as much as I can when out buying things other than groceries, I try to bring a bag or just stash things in my purse, I just recently realized the great thing about woman’s purses being so big is that you can fit a new shirt, toothpaste and shampoo and a book! I always come home looking like a kleptomaniac because I’ll have to most random things in my purse. I just hate excess. As far as eating, I try to eat vegetarian but I can’t resist good BBQ so I’ll indulge here and there. But I’m learning about the great lengths our food travels to get to us and it’s very unappetizing. I try to always buy organic and local.

When did you first become interested in Barefoot Wine Beach Rescue and the Surfrider Foundation? Can you tell us a little bit about the mission and your involvement?

They came to me a couple months ago and asked me if I’d like to be a part of it. Naturally, it just seemed like a great fit. I’ve spent most if my life at the beach and always participated in cleanups. It’s a really amazing event and I think people are surprised at how little effort it takes to make a big difference. The event is about raising awareness and keeping the beaches barefoot friendly.

When is the next date you team up with them?

We have one event left. South Padre Island, Texas on August 23rd. It was voted on by the community!

Would you ever consider touring in a bio-diesel bus?

Oh yeah, would love that. I’m just getting into a bus though and it’s very costly as is, but as soon as we can afford some other options we will definitely be looking into bio diesel!

Do you feel that performing shows live via the internet is a great way to keep your carbon footprint down since you can reach so many without flying/driving all over the world?

I never thought about that, but I kind of like that idea. The more I tour and travel, the more I wish I was home! So Internet shows would help solve that!

Do you have an online presence where people can learn more about you and listen to your music?

Official Website

In addition to the AT&T Blue Room performance linked above, Tristan can be seen playing across the country through the middle of September. I strongly encourage seeing her live to support not only an amazing musician, but also someone who is taking steps to help maintain a beautiful planet to rock on.

Aug 15 2008 7:00P
Filene Center At Wolf Trap Vienna, Virginia

Aug 16 2008 7:00P
Festival Pier At Penn’s Landing Philadelphia

Aug 17 2008 11:00A
KZZO “A Day in the Zone” @ Gibson Ranch Sacramento, California

Aug 19 2008 8:00P
Visulite Theatre Charlotte, North Carolina

Aug 20 2008 7:00P
House of Blues Myrtle Beach

Aug 23 2008 7:00P
Barefoot Wine Beach Rescue TBD

Aug 24 2008 7:00P
St. Augustine Amphitheatre St. Augustine, Florida

Aug 26 2008 7:00P
Arkansas Music Pavilion (AMP) Fayettevile, Arkansas

Aug 28 2008 7:00P
Pine Mountain Amphitheater Flagstaff, Arizona

Aug 29 2008 8:00P
The Joint Las Vegas, Nevada

Aug 30 2008 7:00P
Robert Z. Hawkins Amphitheater Reno, Nevada

Aug 31 2008 8:00P
Great American Music Hall San Francisco, California

Sep 3 2008 7:00P
Malkin Bowl Vancouver, British Columbia

Sep 5 2008 7:00P
Britt Pavilion Jacksonville, Oregon

Sep 6 2008 7:00P
McMenamins Egdefield Amphitheater Troutdale, Oregon

Sep 7 2008 7:00P
Marymoor Amphitheatre Redmond, Washington

Sep 9 2008 8:00P
Wilma Theater Missoula, Montana

Sep 10 2008 8:00P
Knitting Factory Concert House Boise, Idaho

Sep 11 2008 7:00P
Red Butte Garden Salt Lake City, Utah

Sep 12 2008 7:00P
Red Rocks Amphitheatre Morrison, Colorado

Smart Energy Technology:

Artist Spotlight: Karen Dengler of Retired Records

Karen Dengler is the owner and creator of Retired Records in Cincinnati, OH which is a company that focuses on upcycling old vinyl albums into functional home goods. The plain old bowl shapes of the past are a far cry from the inspiring and truly unique items that Karen creates. She keeps a solid focus on protecting the planet, upcycling little pieces of music history and producing house wares that are a form of sculptural art. Rock and roll.

Can you tell us a little about what it is you do?

I create functional art, mostly for the home, and some for the body out of recycled materials, mainly old vinyl and found or discarded objects. I have a BFA in art therapy and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. I use art as a tool for creativity it provides an outlet for me an keeps balance in my life.

What was the motivation behind the creation of Retired Records?

The motivation began two years ago, after making a bowl, from an old record. I then made a purse, I can never find one I like at the store. I prefer to have something no one else does, people started to notice mine and began to ask me to make them . After encouragement from friends and family. I opened my Etsy shop in August of 2007. I continue to see what I can create I find it exciting to make useful items out of materials that are non-traditional and would otherwise end up in a landfill.

Are people surprised to learn what your items are made out of? What is their reaction?

Most people are intrigued, and comment “Is that REALLY made from a record”, or how did you think of that? My comment is” I usually create items through experimentation, once I start creating my brain just goes on overdrive. I wake in the middle of the night dreaming of new and exciting items.

Where do you acquire the pieces that go into each design? Is it important to you to use salvaged pieces?

I have acquire a lot of my items from friends and family and well as thrift stores. I try to incorporate as much recycled material into a piece as I can. I think it makes the art more interesting.

What inspires you as an artist?

I am inspired by nature. The record label itself, specific colors will dictate a design or pattern to paint. Even an old belt will inspire a specific look for a purse, such a rock-n-roll or classic. I also love contemporary design with clean lines. My girls are also helpful in giving me their creative opinions when I am working on a project.

What is the creative process behind your art? How does an idea take shape?

The process depends on each specific piece it changes and develops as I work. I do not always have an exact image of how it will look when I am done. If I do I usually make modifications as I work. This is why most of my items are one-of-a-kind. I use what I have then make it work into my design.

How long have you been selling your art?

About three years.

Do you remember the feeling of your first sale? How has that feeling changed after selling so many items?

I remember making a purse for my daughters teacher at school, that was my first sale. I still get excited when making a sale and seeing where it will go. I have sold items all over the world from California to as far away as Norway.

What does the Green Movement mean to you?

It means helping out and doing my small part, to inspire future generations to continue to do the same.

When did you first become interested in living and working green?

I feel when I became a parent it started to mean more to me than it had previously. When you have kids you realize that you should be a good role model and practice what you preach. I also compost and have an organic herb, vegetable and butterfly garden that the family helps out with.

What inspires you to take care of our planet?

As a kid I was raised partly in the country my father has a farm in Kentucky and I always noticed that I felt better, stronger and more independent having been that environment. Playing in the fields, fishing, gardening, horseback riding and exploring. The planet is part of us, just like our own soul and we have to nurture it as it nurtures us.

Has any one green practice become second nature, something you personally do every day?

Composting and recycling.

What green practice do you recommend readers try?

Recycling is an easy first step.

Is there an eco-friendly product you use that you would recommend?

I use white vinegar a lot in my cleaning.

As an independent artist what is your greatest challenge?

Making time for my work.

What has been your greatest success to date?

The creation of my wine rack.

What is your advice to a fellow artisan who is new to their industry?

Keep trying until you find something that you truly enjoy.

To view all of Karen’s amazing work please visit her online storefront Retired Records

Smart Energy Technology:

Artist Spotlight: Jay Shafer of Tumbleweed Tiny House Company

With such a push for ecologically responsible materials in home construction these days it is vital to also be mindful of the size of a home so materials and energy are not wasted and this is just the concept Jay Shafer put behind Tumbleweed Tiny House Company in Sebastopol, CA. With one of his homes it is possible to attain a living space, sleeping space, kitchen, bathroom, office space and four closets all in 65 square feet. Yes, that reads exactly right. His designs range in size from 65-774 square feet but no matter what layout a client selects there is no lack for amenities, storage or sustainable materials inside.

Describe a day in your personal or professional life.

I have no alarm clock so I get up when I wake up. I go to whole foods and sit with friends out by the parking lot while I eat breakfast. I check my PO Box and call my business partner to see if there is anything I need to know about. Assuming there is nothing pressing I go home to design tiny houses all day (usually forgetting lunch). I eat dinner with friends before renting a movie. That said, I have never actually experienced a “typical” day all the way through. Life always gets in the way.

Is it your personal belief that creativity and the ability to create art is innate?

Yes. Only talent stands in the way of true creativity. Ironically, it is our desire to set ourselves apart with displays of talent or “self expression” that gets in the way of the creative abilities we all possess.

Who or what influenced your work with home construction?

I look at vernacular houses more than anything else. I am less a fan of celebrity art and architecture than I am of buildings built by people for people. Usually the simpler, the better.

When did you first become interested in the planning and execution of building structures?

I can’t even remember when I started enjoying design, but I know I was doing it even as a little kid. The building part came later. No one else would build my designs for free so I had to learn how to do it myself.

Did you personally draft all of the home plans your company offers?
Originally yes, but I recently turned all of my pencil drawings over to a draftsman to be converted into AutoCAD.

Can you tell me about your creative process?
I believe in secular piety. When I can get my own ego out of the way Nature and Society are allowed to do their thing. It is only when a higher power is allowed to design my houses that the houses turn out well.

Where did your first inspiration come from?
Les Walker’s book Tiny Houses was very inspirational.

Was the Green Movement a major factor in your decision to create Tumbleweed?
It was one factor. Aside from that, I just don’t like house work.

What materials do you feel can make the largest impact toward a healthier life by choosing green?
Fewer materials are the best materials. Beyond that, it is important to use things that will be healthy for a home’s occupants and the environment as a whole.
Are there products or materials you spec that may not immediately be viewed as sustainable but hold up better over time thus negating additional manufacturing needs?
Yes. I use foam board insulation. I can think of no better place to put fossil fuels than into something that needs to last. This stuff also does a great job of cutting back on my heating needs and more fossil fuel consumption.

Do you live in one of your designs? If so which one and for how long?
I live in the 100 sq ft Epu. I have been living in the particular house for 2 years, and I lived in an even smaller house before that.

What have you incorporated into your lifestyle to facilitate going green and conserving energy?
I am thinking about writing a book called “The Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World”. In it I would explain that the best thing you can do for the environment is often nothing at all. Drive less, shower less, live in less, travel less, and do it better.

What is important to you about conservation and preserving our environment?
Preserving our quality of life.

What is your favorite project or work you’ve completed thus far?
My house is my favorite design.

What challenges have you had in your work?
The biggest challenge is, in fact, designing small. It is much harder than creating a big house because there is no margin for error. I not only love this challenge but I am addicted to it.

Do you feel that the Internet has a positive or negative influence on art? How does the Internet affect your work?
The internet is one of my favorite tools. I can’t remember how I got along without it. Now, instead of traveling to the Metropolitan Museum or a village in Quebec for inspiration, I can just click a few buttons.

What is your greatest ambition as an artist?
I love creating works that have a positive influence on individuals and society. I really am a person who needs a sense of purpose.

What are you currently working on?
I am now finishing a revised edition of my “The Small House Book”.

What advice would you give a young artist just getting started?
Stay away from the art world and just make things that are beautiful.

What “Green” Product would you recommend to our readers?
My houses.

What is your best going green tip?
Know what makes you happy and get rid of the rest. All of the extras just get in the way.

How would your friends describe you?
Very good looking for such a smelly person.
To see all of Jay’s amazing designs please visit the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company Website

Photographs courtesy of Tumbleweed Tiny House Company

Smart Energy Technology:

Anaconda Taking Over Energy Market

The jumbo rubber tube referred to as the “Anaconda device” might be the answer scientists have been looking for to produce electricity from the strength of ocean waves.

Their primary objective was to discover a clean electricity method that is less expensive than former wave based techniques. This new concept does not use tidal power as a source. It is a type of wave power. Tidal power pulls on the ocean’s currents for it’s energy. Wave power focuses on the momentum of surface waves moving along the ocean and taps into that energy force.

What is the Anaconda device?

The Anaconda device is a long thinly shaped rubber tube. Each end is sealed and inserted with water. The device is stationed slightly beneath the sea’s surface. When a wave crashes into the end of the Anaconda it constricts the tube resulting in an expanding wave formation inside the tube. This wave pushes through the device increasing in size until it reaches a turbine located at the opposite end. Then the generated energy is pulled to shore by a cable. This ground-breaking technolgoy was created by physicist Francis Farley and Rod Rainey a part of Atkins Oil and Gas Co.

What are the benefits and role it will play in the energy market?

Technology like the Anaconda device can help pave the way for future inventions that will assist in our planet’s battle against global warming. Producing electricity through waves is carbon-free. If successful devices like this can provoke further use of wave generated power reducing our reliance on other harmful methods. This will change the energy market in a positive way giving the industry cost-effective environmental alternatives to pursue. The sleek yet simple design of the Anaconda makes it an extremely inexpensive wave energy converter. Most tidal devices are made of heavy metals requiring complicated hinges and hydraulic rams. They also demand constant maintenance which is a negative factor that can halt major energy suppliers from considering it as an option. However, with the Anaconda’s light weight economical design that is not an issue.

Larger models are currently being produced of the Anaconda. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council along with Checkmate SeaEnergy are planning to continue experiments testing how much energy the Anaconda can actually generate. They hope to have their first full size Anaconda device operating in the sea within the next five years.

Tapping into new energy production technology such as the Anaconda device is crucial for the environment. The more alternative fuel and energy sources we can create the easier it will be for us to find inexpensive solutions for our changing needs.

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