That place called "away"

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Practically every human on the planet throws stuff away every day without giving much thought to where "away" is and how the stuff gets there. This morning in Seattle, a team of MIT researchers outlined their scheme to do just that. 

The so-called Trash Track project has electronically tagged more than 500 items of refuse, culled from several source categories, and is tracking their movements in hopes of learning more about what Professor Carlo Ratti [at microphones, in photo], team leader and director of the SENSEable Cities Lab, calls "the removal chain," which he contrasted to the much better known business supply chain.

Straining the concept of "news"

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The CEO of Coke thinks a federal tax on soft drinks would be ghastly. Now there's a surprise.

Oh, and the Pepsi dude thinks it's bad, too.


Get used to this discussion. Taxing the foods, or in the case of soda, "foods," that aren't healthy is going to come up again, and those who would be taxed will fight, of course. Coke's Muhtar Kent, the chairman and CEO, invoked the Soviet Union in his reply.



The juncture of sustainability and obesity

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Let's talk about the American diet, for a moment. I don't mean, what Americans eat. I mean, what do most Americans mean when they "go on a diet?"

Almost always, they're saying that they're embarking on a new path for a short period of time, with the intention of going back to how things were as soon as possible.

In this case, sustainability isn't a question, it is part of the definition: I am going to do something that I have no intention of sustaining.

On the journey

I’m writing en route from Boston to Seattle, where I’ll be living for about a month, attempting to keep (well, return to) a regular work schedule while participating in a family member’s effort to regain health. As departures from routine often do, I’ve encountered a couple of surprises during the journey. The first one isn’t so surprising, actually, given the prevalence of overweight in America; for those of you keeping score, the estimate is 145 million American adults, two out of every three of us.

They call them smart choices

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"Why are the missiles called peace keepers, when they're aimed to kill?"

You probably recognize the Tracy Chapman lyric, from her song "Why?" and it arises in my mind this morning in response to the announcement by Kraft Foods that it will use the Smart Choices nutrition guidelines to determine which foods it will advertise to 6- to 11-year-olds.

On the face of it, the move suggests vision and leadership, and perhaps those are accurate impressions. Really, they could be — look at Wal Mart, which has legitimately gone from corporate scourge to corporate not-bad guy. But no one alive in today's world should accept anything — except my pearls, of course — without looking a little further, and these are some of the points apparent:

Another event to plan for

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NESEA's 2009 Green Buildings Open House will return the first Saturday in October, which falls on the 3d this year, and I highly recommend it. Last year, G. and I went out to western Mass. and toured five or six great places, and then had the chance to follow up with a couple of other places on a second trip. A lot is happening out there.


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A rivulet in Yellowstone

I have noted before the division of outdoor love that occurred in my birth family: For three kids, we got three doses, but all three somehow went to my brother, Rich, who has walked the Appalachian Trail by himself (yes, Georgia to Maine), gone to Outward Board and National Outdoor Leadership School, taken a graduate degree in forestry, and accomplished many more similar feats.

As I write, he's in Maine, kayaking with a friend for a week, and last week, he was biking the Erie Canal with his wife.

I'm sitting in a Starbucks, typing, and wishing they'd turn down the air conditioning.

A word about Green Drinks

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I'm not sure how many times I've mentioned Green Drinks, and I wasn't curious enough to go back and check — I was going to relate my experience at a gathering this week regardless.

I'm a member, and one of several volunteers organizers, of the Boston subset of what is a worldwide "movement," a term that qualifies for quotation marks because in my experience, we're just a bunch of folks who get together over drinks to connect on our shared green interests. Worthwhile, but we're not saving the world except tangentially.


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