Saturday, November 28, 2015


POSTED: Friday, March 8, 2013, 8:25 PM
Filed Under: Wheels

So Earth to Philly got a pitch to write up a new Earth Day event - The Amazing Rock the Earth Race, which will take place over 7 hours on April 21st "in Denver, Boulder and other spots along the Front Range." Specific race details are somewhat sketchy, though there will be "mental and physical challenges."

I'm guessing the main physical challenge won't be getting oneself to Boulder from Denver or vice versa, given that one round trip would equal two marathons - something people rarely pull off within a 7-hour time window. Oh, also, all participants need to be able to drive.

This suggests that whatever else it involves in terms of feel-good earth-friendly consciousness raising, this event exhorts up to 75 2-person teams, i.e. 75 vehicles, to drive all over the "Front Range" for a day.

Vance Lehmkuhl @ 8:25 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, January 30, 2013, 10:26 PM
Filed Under: Biz | Policy | Wheels
Several SEPTA train cars have been converted into rolling ads for Tropicana juice, labeledthe "Sunshine Express," and covered with an orange-colored wrap. (CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer)

So according to today's Inquirer, SEPTA is pioneering new sources of revenue, extending the "ad-wrapped bus" concept to regional-rail trains.

If this is the future, well, it's not bad. The Prohibition-themed car looks pretty cool, actually, though I wonder how much sunshine the "Sunshine Express" is really bringing into its passengers' mornings ... vs. how much cringing. I also wonder why Colt .45 for buses was nixed, while Bailey's Irish Cream on train cars is fine. And ads for cars on a train? Isn't that kind of self-defeating?

All that is probably moot, though, as I almost never take the train: I'm a bus rider.

Vance Lehmkuhl @ 10:26 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, September 12, 2012, 5:25 PM
Filed Under: Policy | Wheels

Reposted from Ronnie's blog, So What Happened Was...

It's a bummer that Philly has yet to launch a bike-sharing program, which looked promising two years ago but today, well, not so much.

So it'll be fun to see a way-scaled-down program in action starting Wednesday, when Dranoff Properties launches its own bike-sharing program, which will allow residents of Dranoff buildings the free use of a fleet of bikes.

Vance Lehmkuhl @ 5:25 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Saturday, May 12, 2012, 11:53 PM
Filed Under: Art | Tech | Wheels
Skyler Lehmkuhl approaches the boat ramp to exit the water in Baltimore's Kinetic Sculpture Race on May 6, 2012. Photo courtesy of

As part of Earth to Philly's Dumpster Diver Dispatch series, I have in the past kept you updated on the progress of the Dumpster Divers team in Baltimore's AVAM Kinetic Sculpture Race. For those coming in late, these are human-powered vehicles tricked out as works of art that must surmount pavement, sand, mud and water. Its a bona fide movement mixing love for art and sustainable transportation, involving thousands of people, started back in 1969 by Hobart Brown after he souped up his son's tricycle with a couple extra wheels. I've also alerted  you to the ensuing annual Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby held here in Philadelphia, and this year is no exception.

What's exceptional is that the "Dumpster Divers" team (the only team in Baltimore that's done every race) now consists solely of myself -- no longer an official Dumpster Diver -- and my son Skyler, who never was inducted into that group of trash-picking artists.

What's also exceptional was Skyler's determined mastery of the course in his self-designed "Cat-a-maran." And when I put it that way, I'm not just being a doting dad - he brought home an award for the Dumpster Divers, for his performance in exiting the water.

Vance Lehmkuhl @ 11:53 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, March 23, 2012, 3:50 PM
Filed Under: Biz | Tech | Trends | Wheels
A Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) trash truck from Sustainable Waste Solutions, likely the first in the state to put this trend into operation.

If you go to an Eagles game next season and enjoy a plastic-bottled beer during the game (I know, what are the odds?), that bottle could be part of a former Lincoln Financial Field tarp.

How so? Randy Hendricks, the CEO of Sustainable Waste Solutions, explains: "The Eagles organization has done a tremendous job of looking at everything they buy, and everything they do, for sustainability," and the go-green mindset extends beyond high-profile solar-panel and wind-turbine projects to the nitty-gritty of waste management. Hendricks says the team is on a quest to go "100% landfill-free."

That's where his company enters the picture: "They just had a full field tarp replaced. They were looking into how it could be gotten rid of in the least harmful way, you know, most efficiently - but we said hey, that's a plastic that we can ground up and recycle. That's going to become a beer bottle or something."

Vance Lehmkuhl @ 3:50 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, March 5, 2012, 3:51 PM
Filed Under: Biz | Tech | Wheels

NOTE: This piece on a new car-sharing model is cross-posted from Jonathan Takiff's Gizmo Guy blog.

What's environmentally friendly, socially responsible and can make you money? RelayRides, putting a new spin on "car pooling"  and today  hanging out its virtual shingle nationally  at

Like ZipCar and regional deals like Philly CarShare (now owned by Enterprise Rent-a-Car), RelayRides operates on the principle that many people only need a car on a "spot" basis, for a couple hours now and then. 

Jonathan Takiff @ 3:51 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, January 9, 2012, 3:55 PM
Filed Under: Biz | Tech | Trends | Wheels
Photo courtesy of

After a much-too-long hiatus, I was able to make it to a Green Drinks Delaware Valley event last week -- this one at the Standard Tap, where Green Drinks is the first Wednesday of each month - and as always I met some colorful and committed people who are trying to bring sustainability to Philly in various ways. Also, as happens sometimes, I got a couple brief audio interviews with some of these people.

Gabriel Mandujano has started a business called Wash Cycle Laundry, which pushes commercial laundering (and everyday household laundering too) into the Green zone. Their wash system has several efficiencies that Mandujano explains in this four-minute podcast interview, but the main hook for now is that all their pickups and deliveries are done by bicycle.

Listen for our discussion on whether bikes might someday also be used to power the machinery involved, a win-win if people could be persuaded to ride them for the exercise. Even more so if they would pay to do so. Hey, you never know, maybe Michelle Obama's "Let's Move' will kick in some funding to help people stay fit while they wash clothes!

Vance Lehmkuhl @ 3:55 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, October 17, 2011, 11:00 AM
Filed Under: Policy | Trends | Wheels
Stu Bykofsky bikes in the Berkshires this past summer. (Photo: Sonya Bykofsky)

He's at it again: Philadelphia's self-appointed bike-culture critic Stu Bykofsky today ratchets up the volume in his cri de coeur against the two-wheeled onslaught. While he's crowing about a "Pushback against those who pedal," the latest installment shows signs of nuance that temper what was previously an ongoing broadside against no-good cyclists. Maybe his much heralded bike-riding photo-op earlier this summer has softened his heart?


* Stu comes out in favor, more or less, of the "temporary" (like Stu, most of us don't buy that qualifier) removal of a lane along JFK Boulevard between 15th and 20th.

Vance Lehmkuhl @ 11:00 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
About this blog
Earth to Philly is a weblog focusing on earth-conscious technology, trends and ideas, from a Daily News perspective. We look at the "green" aspects of your home, business, food, transportation, style, policy, gadgets and artwork. If you have a Philly-related story, Click here to let us know about it!

The experts at Philadelphia's Energy Coordinating Agency answer your energy questions in our regular feature Stay Warm, Stay Green. Send in your question or questions to

Look for Jenice Armstrong to supply tips on green living as well as occasional columns on the subject of Green. She also blogs at Hey Jen.

Becky Batcha stays tuned for the here-and-now practical side of conservation, alternative energy, organic foods, etc. - stuff you can do at home now. Plus odds and ends.

Laurie Conrad recycles from her ever-growing e-mailbag to pass along the latest travel deals, fashion statements, household strategies, gadgets, cool local events and other nuggets of interest to those who appreciate a clean, green world.

Vance Lehmkuhl looks at topics like eco-conscious eating, public transportation and fuel-efficient driving from his perspective as a vegetarian, a daily SEPTA bus rider and a hybrid driver, as well as noting the occasional wacky trend or product. Contact Vance with your 'green' news.

Ronnie Polaneczky sees the green movement through the eyes of her 12-year-old daughter, who calls her on every scrap of paper or glass bottle that Ronnie neglects to toss into the house recycling bins. Ronnie will blog about new or unexpected ways to go green. She also blogs at So, What Happened Was...

Sandra Shea and the DN editorial board opine on any green-related legislation or policy. And we'll pass along some of the opeds on the subject that people send us.

Jonathan Takiff will be blogging mainly about consumer electronics - those things that we love to use and that suck too much energy. He'll spotlight green-conscious gizmos made in a responsible fashion, both in terms of materials used and the energy it takes to run them.

Signe Wilkinson draws the comic strip Family Tree, which follows the Tree family as they try to live green in the face of nattering neighbors, plastic-wrapped consumer products, and the primal teenage urge to spend vast quantities of money on hair care products of dubious organic quality.

In addition to these updates from our newsroom bloggers, watch for an occasional feature, Dumpster Diver Dispatches, from Philadelphia's original "green" community of artists, the Dumpster Divers. You'll learn about creative ways to reuse and recycle while you reduce, and about the artists who are making little masterpieces from what others throw out.

  • Dispatch #1: Margaret Giancola's rugs from plastic bags
  • Dispatch #2: Dumpster Divers in City Hall (Art in City Hall series)
  • Dispatch #3: Wild wood, New Jersey
  • Dispatch #4: Dumpster Divers award winners announced
  • Dispatch #5: From sweaters to colorful cuddling
  • Dispatch #6: Green artists retake South Street Sunday
  • Dispatch #7: Isaiah Zagar: He's a Magic (Gardens) Man

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