Bright Idea: The Kinetic Solar Facade

Rather than sit on a rooftop, this photovoltaic system is designed to be directly integrated into a building facade. Other amazing innovations such as this are underway at the Center for Architecture Science and Ecology (CASE), which unites SOM and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to develop new sustainable materials and technologies. Learn more

I eat ice cream for breakfast (frozen bananas, blue berries, dash of almond mink TRY IT) it’s super yummy and it’s the best thing for out planet. What icecream is good for our planet? Haha read on and you’ll see. But quick hello to my incredible #ecofriendly #sustainable bamboo sheets, cover and pillow from @yohomeau! Seriously, SO COMFY and amazing for sensitive skin. Now, while I’m still young and obviously have soo much to learn blah blah I just thought I would share with you information I wish I knew when I entered this world (that sounds strange?). Anyhooo Here are some quick facts from nearly half of all water used in the US goes to raising animals for food! (like what? Thought we were having a water shortage in periphery counties?). It takes more than 2400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat versus only 25 needed to grow one pound of wheat. If every America dropped one serving of chicken per week from their diet it would be the same about of CO2 emissions as taking 500,000 cars off the road! 1 calorie of animal protein requires 11 times as much fossil fuels as 1 calorie of plant protein! Raising animals for food uses 30% of the earths landmass!! That’s about the same size as Asia! Then this is sad, 5 pounds of wild-caught fish are needed to produce 1 pound of farmed fish. I know statistics can be bias, I’m bias and any person passionate about a cause will be! Haha that’s natural! So don’t take my word for it, do the research yourself! I am watching Cowspiracy tonight (it’s out in Aus today to buy), but lend your time to the Best Speech ever, Home, Forks Over Knives etc. Maybe this sounds preachy, but I wish more than anything someone told me these ^^ crazy facts that are so well hidden by the multi billion dollar meat and dairy industries. Our world needs a change, a conscious, united global change! WE have the resources and the measures. We just need everyone up to speed 😜 I care about our planet and preserving it for my children and their children, I know majority of you reading this do too! #govegan #helptheenvironmentbyliterallyeatingicecreamforbreakfast #crueltyfree Okay bye xx

To feed a person on an all plant-based vegan diet for a year requires just one-sixth of an acre of land.

To feed that same person on a vegetarian diet that includes eggs and dairy requires three times as much land.

To feed an average U.S. citizen’s high consumption of meat, dairy, and eggs requires 18 times as much land.

This is because you can produce 37,000 pounds of vegetables on one and a half acres but only 375 pounds of meat on that same plot of land.

—  Cowspiracy [1:21:52 to 1:22:19]

The dramatic difference between “organic” and “sustainable.”

By Gwen Sharp, PhD

When I was in grad school studying sociology of agriculture, one thing we talked about was organic agriculture and the difference between “organic” and “sustainable.” Most consumers think of these words interchangeably.  So, when many people think of an organic dairy farm they imagine something along the lines of these images, the top results for an image search of “organic dairy farm”:

So happy! So content! And, we assume, raised on a small family farm in a way that is humane and environmentally responsible. Those, are, after all, two of the things we expect when something is defined as “sustainable”: it is environmentally benign and humane. We also usually assume that workers would be treated decently as well.

But there is no reason that those elements considered essential to sustainability have to have much to do with organic agriculture. Depending on who is doing the defining, being “organic” can involve very little difference from conventional agriculture. Having an organic dairy mostly just requires that the cows not have antibiotics or homones used on them, eat organic feed, and have access to grass a certain number of days per year. In and of itself, organic certifications don’t guarantee long-term environmental sustainability or overall humane treatment of livestock.

A great illustration of how little the modes of production on organic farms may differ from conventional agriculture is the Vander Eyk dairy. It is an operation in California with over 10,000 dairy cows. Here are some images (found here and here):

As the caption to the last image makes clear, the Vander Eyk dairy had two herds on the same property, but segregated from one another: the majority of the herd produced conventional milk, while 3,500 cows produced organic milk for sale under the Horizon brand.

In 2007 the Vander Eyk dairy lost its organic certification for violating the requirement that organic dairy cows spend a certain amount of time on pasture. They had cows on pasture, but they were non-milking heifers, not cows that were being milked at the time. What we see here is that the label “organic” doesn’t guarantee most of the things we associate with the idea of organic or sustainable agriculture (and in cases like Vander Eyk, may not even guarantee the things the label is supposed to cover).

This isn’t just in the dairy industry. As Julie Guthman explains in her book Agrarian Dreams: The Paradox of Organic Farming in California, many types of organic agriculture include things you might not expect. For instance, organic producers in California joined with other producers to oppose making the short-handled hoe illegal – the bane of agricultural workers everywhere (and most infamously associated with sharecropping in the South in the early 20th century) – because they want workers to do lots of close weeding to make up for not spraying crops with pesticides. So, though we often assume organic farmers would be labor-friendly, in that case they opposed a change that agricultural workers supported.

Many organic crops are grown on farms that are the equivalent of the Vander Eyk dairy; most of the land is in conventional production, but a certain number of acres are used to grow organic versions of the same thing. Often the producer, which may be an individual farmer or a corporation such as Dole, isn’t very committed to organics; if a pest infestation threatens to ruin a crop, they’ll just spray it and then sell it on the conventional market rather than lose it. They may then have to have the land re-certified as “in transition,” meaning it hasn’t been pesticide-free long enough to be declared completely organic, but many consumers don’t pay too much attention to such distinctions.

The Vander Eyk dairy — and lots more examples of large containment-facility operations selling to Horizon and other brands at the Cornucopia Institute’s photo gallery – are interesting examples of how terms like “organic,” “green,” and “eco-friendly” don’t necessarily mean that the item is produced according to any of the standards we often assume they imply.

Gwen Sharp is an associate professor of sociology at Nevada State College. You can follow her on Twitter at @gwensharpnv.


October 2014
Atlanta, Georgia

Acorns can provide one with an exceptional nutritional value and have a tolerance for storage. This food source was a staple in the Native American diet. It is estimated that among one tribe, the Yokut, a typical family consumed 1,000 to 2,000 pounds of acorns each year! One analysis of uncooked acorn meal shows that it is 21% fat, 5% protein, 62% carbohydrate, and 14% water, mineral, and fiber.

The process is as follows:

- Gathering
- Cleaning
- Drying
- Peeling
- Grinding (course)
- Leaching the Tannins
- Squeezing out the water
- Drying
- Stone Grinding (fine)

It is not a quick or easy process. But discovering how essential it was to the Native Americans in the past and in our region we followed through with the best plan we could formulate to arrive to a top notch acorn flour.

We started with collecting about 7 lbs of large White Oak acorns making sure they were void of small holes and other defects. After collecting we put them into a bucket to wash them making sure to discard any acorns that float. Once cleaned we sun dried them for several days.
Once dry we crushed them with an arbor press to make the peeling easier. We placed the acorn meat into a blender and ground it into a course grind that was similar to consistency of coffee. We placed the ground acorn into glass bowls to began the leaching process.
Leaching the acorns took three days. By pouring cold water into the ground acorn and letting it sit the tannins that make the acorn bitter rise to the top that turns the water into a deep reddish brown color. Three times a day we pour out the dark water and refill it with new cold water. After three days the water cleared to the point where we could see the flour through the 1 1/2 inches of water before we poured it out and the flour did not taste bitter any longer. Once the tannin was leached we places the wet acorn grind into a thin cloth, gathers the acorn grind into a ball and twisted it tight until most of the water was removed. After repeating this step several times until all the acorn grind was squeezed out we were left with several acorn grind balls that resembled a plate of baseballs. We then placed and flatted the balls into our food dehydrator to remove the remaining water (this made our home smell like warm raisins… Awesome). Once dried we further process the acorn grind through our Wonder Mill grinder with the stone burrs in. Once done hand grinding we were left with a fine, stone ground acorn flour.

We hope our latest effort finds you inspired and adventuring into a deepening relationship with nature.

Visit Southern4perspective again soon. We are putting together our next post which will include what we make with out white acorn flour.

Links for further study:

- Acorn wiki link:

- A YouTube video. This is as close to the process we use as I could find:

- A quick read on the Native American’s relationship with the acorn:

- If you just want to buy some I found this site:


Cosmetics: materials
Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics: The Little Green Bag

The packaging for Lush’s product is a great example of cosmetic packaging that is entirely sustainable. The cardboard sleeve is recyclable, the tins are reusable and to take it to the next level, the ‘naked’ products are housed in a 100% organic cotton scarf woven and screen printed by a non-profit women’s cooperative in India.

It won second place in the 2013 Dieline Package Design Awards in the ‘Personal Care + Clothing’ category.



Taylor Cullity Lethlean. National Arboretum. Canberra. Australia. photos: John Gollings and Ben Wrigley

The National Arboretum Canberra redefines the meaning of a public garden in the 21st Century. It comprises 100 forests of endangered tree species from around the world on a 250 hectare former fire ravaged site. Growing out of the very real issues of sustainability, biodiversity and public environmental concern, the National Arboretum is a strategy, a program and an ongoing event, not a design chiefly based on aesthetics. (c) Taylor Cullity Lethlean