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Poll: Thoughts on the Phase Out of 40 & 60 Watt Light Bulbs

The environment is an area I’ve written about before, including energy use and lighting. If you haven’t been paying attention, you may be in for a shock:

Starting Jan. 1, the U.S. will stop manufacturing and importing incandescent light bulbs in favor of ones more energy-efficient.

The phase out started with 100-watt and 75-watt incandescent light bulbs in 2012 and 2013. The last phase out will include the 60-watt and 40-watt. (Source)

Stores may sell their current inventory, the government is slowly forcing us to switch to more efficient lighting choices. Before you blame President Obama, he was just a Senator when the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 was passed by Congress and signed by President Bush.

Now that we’re at the final stage of the incandescent bulb phase out, I’d like to know your thoughts so the poll this week is: 40 & 60 watt incandescent light bulbs on store shelves are the last ones, thoughts? 

I’ve provided a variety of answers but I’ve also given you the option to enter your own answer. The poll is in the right sidebar.

— Steve Patterson



Downtown YMCA Partially Reopened After Pipe Burst

The downtown YMCA partially reopened on Monday the 20th after being closed for 10 days. A couple of postings on their Facebook page explains: 

January 10th: 

The Downtown Y is closed until further notice due to a water main break. We are assessing the situation and will be able to update with details today. We apologize for the inconvenience. Other local YMCAs will welcome you during this time. We will be rescheduling more Fitness On Demand Orientations next week.

January 16th:

The facility is undergoing emergency cleanup due to a fire sprinkler system break that occurred as a result of last week’s subzero temperatures. Generators are currently being used to power equipment that is helping the cleanup happen quickly and safely. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause our neighbors and assure the community that we are working through this process as quickly as possible, with as little disturbance as possible. We appreciate your patience and understanding while we work through this unavoidable issue.

It was the generators on 16th Street that got my attention:

Equipment on 16th street next to the YMCA/Centenary Tower building
Equipment was on 16th street next to the YMCA/Centenary Tower building for days, it was removed by Wednesday

Presumably the 7 upper floors with 100 apartments, vacant since 2007, have been winterized. If so, the burst pipe was in one of the 3 floors of the YMCA.

— Steve Patterson


Controversial Weather

Snow on the roof of the Old Post Office
Snow on the roof of the Old Post Office

How about this weather? The cold air was something! The why is controversial though; some argue climate change may have contributed to the bitter cold, while others think the cold air disproves global warming:

Arctic warming is altering the heat balance between the North Pole and the equator, which is what drives the strong current of upper level winds in the northern hemisphere commonly known as the jet stream. Some studies show that if that balance is altered then some types of extreme weather events become more likely to occur. (climatecentral.org)

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) took to the Senate floor Monday to describe the idea of human-induced climate change as “almost laughable,” citing this week’s cold snap and the recent stranding of a Russian research ship in the Antarctic ice. Inhofe has plowed this ground before: After snow buried D.C. in early 2010, his family built an igloo near the Capitol with a sign reading, “Al Gore’s new home.” (politico)

I think it’s sad when a US Senator proudly displays his ignorance.

No scientist argues that long-term global warming means that we won’t still experience winter, even bitterly cold winters like this year’s has become. The changes to the climate that scientists who are concerned about global warming point out are exactly that: long-term. Individual weather events don’t mean that the trend isn’t taking place.

(It’s also important to point out that the United States makes up less than 2 percent of the Earth’s surface. So even when we see heavy snow events and blasts of Arctic air like this week’s, there are many parts of the world experiencing record heat, such as Australia.) (weather.com)

Some local land will be part of a study on Climate Change:

In November, the plot, at the university’s Tyson Research Center, situated between Lone Elk and West Tyson county parks near Eureka, was named a Smithsonian Institution Global Earth Observatory.

It is now part of a network of 52 other forest plots scattered around the world being used to study climate change and biodiversity. (stltoday)

What are your thoughts?

— Steve Patterson


Over Three-Fourths of Readers Have a Christmas Tree

An aluminum tree at a friend's house
An aluminum tree at a friend’s house

More than three quarters of readers that responded to the poll last week have a tree this year:

Q: Does/Will your household have a Christmas Tree? If so, what type?

  1. Yes, artificial, green 27 [26.21%]
  2. No, no tree 24 23.3% [23.3%]
  3. Yes, cut from lot 22 [21.36%]
  4. Yes, artificial pre-lit, green 15 [14.56%]
  5. Yes, artificial pre-lit, white/color 6 [5.83%]
  6. Yes, artificial, white/color 3 [2.91%]
  7. Yes, cut it ourselves 3 [2.91%]
  8. Yes, living – will plant it after the 25th 2 [1.94%]
  9. Yes, other type not listed 1 [0.97%]
  10. Yes, aluminum w/light wheel 0 [0%]
  11. Unsure 0 [0%]

For those of you with cut trees you can recycle them, if you live in the city here’s the information accessed on Monday December 23, 20213:

Overview City residents can take the bare tree to one of three city parks to be recycled. Christmas tree recycling is available at the following three city parks:

  • O’Fallon
  • Carondelet
  • Forest Park

Preparation Remove ornaments, tinsel, lights and tree stand. Do not put the tree in a plastic bag or cover it. Wreaths and pine roping are not accepted at the sites. Instructions Trees can be dropped off at the following three park locations:

  • Forest Park, Lower Muny Opera parking lot
  • O’Fallon Park, West Florissant and Holly, picnic grounds #4
  • Carondelet Park, Grand and Holly Hills, area between gate & recycling containers

Drop-off dates Trees are accepted at these park sites after Christmas through the third week of January. 2012 dates are from Dec. 27, 2012 through Jan. 11, 2013. Trees may be dropped off at these locations at anytime. Fees No fees apply What to Expect Trees will be recycled into mulch, which will be made available to City residents.

I assume they’ll be doing this again this year, hopefully updating the website information will get updated.   No post tomorrow, I’m going to take a day off.

Enjoy the holiday, see you again on the 26th!

— Steve Patterson


Occasional Home Delivery Allows Me To Shop as a Pedestrian, Transit User Most of the Time

December 19, 2013 Environment, Featured, Retail 12 Comments

A reader brought up a topic I’ve been wanting to write about for a while now. Moe asked how I’d get a Christmas tree home since I don’t have a car, here’s the thread:

Comments on Sunday's blog post with respect to delivery, click to view post.
Comments on Sunday’s blog post with respect to delivery, click to view post.

Moe expressed a common, but fundamentally flawed view: that everyone driving a car is more efficient than using delivery services. Researchers have been looking into this topic for a while and the results are interesting and surprising. From 2009:

Books are by far the most popular items purchased through the Internet. In just the past two years, the number of consumers buying books online rose by nearly 10 percent. Most patronize book “e-tailers” because of lower prices, but done right, online bookselling also has a smaller carbon footprint.

Like any good novel, the story of how a bookworm gets her book has a beginning, a middle and an end. A book destined for a brick-and-mortar store is printed, packed in bulk, transported by heavy-duty truck to a publisher’s warehouse, transferred to an intermediate warehouse or two, and delivered to the bookstore. Customers might then drive 15 or more miles round trip to purchase the exciting new title. A book sold online has a slightly different plot line: after arrival at the publisher’s warehouse, air or freight travel to a sorting center and individual repackaging, its dramatic finale is home delivery by light-duty truck.

Transportation is the biggest contributor to carbon emissions in both retail and e-tail product pathways. When purchasing a book from a bookstore, each household drives separately, but delivery trucks take purchases to many customers on a single route. There’s also a decent chance that the delivery truck is more fuel-efficient than your family sedan. UPS, for example, has invested millions of dollars in alternative fuel technologies, and as of 2008, its fleet included more than 10,000 low-emission, hydraulic, hydrogen fuel cell and electric vehicles.

When it comes to packaging, however, brick-and-mortar bookshops generally claim the environmental edge. Shrink-wrapping, padding and boxing each individual novella, as e-tailers do, is hardly going to maximize materials efficiency and minimize waste. (Walking to a used bookstore, or downloading an ebook, will do exactly that—but we haven’t been asked about those options yet!)

Both online and brick-and-mortar booksellers operate climate-controlled storage warehouses, but retailers usually own or lease additional storage and distribution facilities. Likewise, the energy consumed to browse and purchase books online is much less than that needed to build, light, heat, and cool physical bookstores. By streamlining the purchase and delivery process, e-tailers minimize the need for buildings and their associated energy usage. (Sanford Magazine) 

Online retailer Amazon has been working to reduce packaging:

Launched in 2008 with 19 products, participation in the initiative has grown from 4 to over 2,000 manufacturers, including Fisher-Price, Mattel, Unilever, Seventh Generation, Belkin, Victorinox Swiss Army, Logitech and many more. To date, Amazon has shipped over 75 million Frustration-Free items to 175 countries.

Frustration-Free Packaging also reduces waste for customers. So far, the initiative has:

  • Eliminated 58.9 million square feet of cardboard
  • Removed 24.7 million pounds of packaging
  • Reduced box sizes by 14.5 million cubic feet

Amazon customers have helped guide the program with their ratings and feedback on product packaging. (Sustainable Brands)

Disclosure: I’m an Amazon (AMZN) shareholder.

Grocery delivery is another that is growing in popularity and researchers looked at this in a recent case study in the Seattle area:

Home food delivery trucks, they found, produce 20 to 75 percent less carbon dioxide than having the same households drive to the store. The variation is based on how close people live to the store, the number of people in the neighborhood getting food delivered and the efficiency of the truck’s route. (NPR: Grocery Home Delivery May Be Greener Than Schlepping To The Store)

NPR/TRF/Univ of Washington

What’s surprising is how home delivery results in bigger reductions in rural/suburban areas vs urban areas due to distances traveled.  If you take the time to think about it, it does make sense. Those who live in rural & suburban areas drive many more miles than those who live in more compact urban centers.

So yes, I do have items delivered at times. With roughly 80 units in our condo association, UPS & FedEx are here almost daily anyway. By shopping locally using my electric wheelchair, taking MetroBus &/or MetroLink to stores, I’ve reduced my carbon footprint substantially over driving a car for those trips. Having items delivered, especially the occasional large bully item, allows me to do most of my shopping as a pedestrian and transit user.

As an informed consumer, I do sleep better at night.

— Steve Patterson




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