Thursday, May 28, 2015


POSTED: Monday, February 6, 2012, 3:39 PM
Filed Under: Biz | Hearth | Policy | Trends
Here is a view, courtesy of, showing that there are fascinating portions of the old train line in town that could benefit from the "green" overhaul.

There have been some interesting twists and turns recently in the Reading Viaduct project, something that could push Philly a long way toward being the literal "Greenest City in America."

The Daily News today chronicles a successful NIMBY campaign to stop a "Neighborhood Improvement District" that would have hiked taxes in return for improvements that were tied to the project.

[The NID] was seen as a precursor to converting the abandoned Reading Viaduct train trestle that runs through the neighborhood into a park modeled after New York's successful High Line.

But Maria Yuen said that the additional tax was too big a burden.

"Everybody agrees we all want to live in a beautiful place with clean streets and green parks," Maria Yuen said. "But with this economy, the priority has to be jobs. People need to put food on the table."

Vance Lehmkuhl @ 3:39 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, January 20, 2012, 2:45 PM
Filed Under: Biz | Food | Hearth | Policy | Tech | Trends
Truth in advertising? (Photo illustration)

Well, it's good to hear the federal EPA is going to be carrying water - no, not figuratively, literally - to families in Dimock, PA, where drilling by Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., contaminated the water wells of 19 homes three years ago, according to the Pennsylvania EPA.

The agency went back and forth on the question of how to deal with the contamination, and given the hemming and hawing, this still may not be the final answer. But one passage in today's story caught my eye:

EPA toxicologist Dawn A. Ioven, in a memo posted on the agency's website, said well-test results from eight homes showed that four "contained contaminants at levels of potential concern."

Vance Lehmkuhl @ 2:45 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, December 12, 2011, 3:13 PM
Filed Under: Biz | Food | Hearth | Policy | Tech | Trends
A NASA graphic vividly illustrates how our planet is girdled in multiple directions by many small pieces of metal and machinery.

There's an interesting Q&A in today's Inquirer about space junk, entitled "Why we need a trash code for outer space." The danger it presents is not so much of falling on our heads (most of it burns up in the atmosphere) but of staying up there in orbit in perpetuity, ready to smash into something that may not be, but might then become, more space junk.

The green connection, of course, is that it's an issue of litter that has been created, unwittingly or not, and who should be responsible for clearing it up, i.e. cleaning the environment, which in this case is one of several orbits around the earth.

Most of the junk in question - tiny bits of machines that have collided and can do still more damage as they whiz around at dizziyingly high speed - is not a threat to us down here, but to other (super-expensive) stuff up there. And the scenario of their ability to become weaponized junk seems to have been largely disregarded in their deployment.

Vance Lehmkuhl @ 3:13 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, November 11, 2011, 4:59 PM
Filed Under: Biz | Hearth | Policy | Trends
A dumpster next to Finnigan’s Wake is seen filled with mixed trash, bottles and cardboard boxes, although businesses are required to recycle. (Phillip Lucas / Daily News Staff)

Yesterday's Daily News had another fine installment in the "Pick it Up!" series, including a page on dealing with trash and litter, district by district (PDF) and a piece on how businesses' recycling violations cost the city.

We've talked before here about how Philly businesses need to take recycling seriously and how so far the majority don't seem to: As of this fall, only a quarter of the city's businesses have even filed their required recycling plans with the city, and this latest piece details solid evidence of at least some businesses utterly ignoring the mandate to recycle.

And here's how this report has room for improvement. Despite its being the central point, the amount of money this is costing Philly taxpayers is nowhere to be found, not even a ballpark estimate. While it's noted that "the city saves $54 on every ton of garbage that is recycled instead of going into a landfill or incinerator," no attempt is made at a grand total.

Vance Lehmkuhl @ 4:59 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, August 30, 2011, 4:01 PM
Filed Under: Hearth | Policy | Trends
Courtesy of OnEarth (click through for complete version)

While this blog does cast a skeptical eye on that "Greenest City in America" mantra of which our Mayor is so fond, it's good to see Philadelphia getting some recognition for literally greening. A recent piece in OnEarth, from the Natural Resources Defense Council, spotlights Philly as an example of creatively using greenspace and green spaces to build a more sustainable physical environment.

And even though the infographic (at right - click through to the page for the interactive version) is a big generic and a bit forward-looking, it's still great to have our town associated with such developments. (Let's just make sure they actually, you know, develop!)

Cities can spend billions maintaining and upgrading this antiquated gray infastructure -- or they can follow Philadelphia's lead and turn instead to green infrastructure. The principle is simple: instead of struggling to cope with the volume of water rushing through the sewers, prevent it from getting there in the first place by capturing it and filtering it slowly and naturally through the soil.

Vance Lehmkuhl @ 4:01 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, August 24, 2011, 2:20 PM
Filed Under: Hearth | Trends

Hola, Amigos, I know it's been a while since I rapped atcha, but I figured if I adopted the persona of Jim Anchower you would forgive me.

Well, that was certainly something yesterday, huh? Yow! If you felt it, that is.

I'm entertained by the seeming need for people who didn't happen to get caught in the midst of it (e.g. who were in their car) to downplay the event and act like it was no big deal. It was a big deal! There's a freakin' crack in the Washington Monument!

Vance Lehmkuhl @ 2:20 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, June 30, 2011, 12:46 PM
Filed Under: Hearth | Tech | Trends

It's a good thing the Phillies are trouncing Boston so far on the field, because they're way ahead of us in green-itude, according to a new list from Siemens, an international engineering firm that traffics widely in sustainable technology.

On the list released today, Siemens USA ranked San Francisco as the Greenest City in North America (a title our mayor vows that Philadelphia will grab by 2015), with New York, Seattle, Denver and Boston rounding out the top five. Philly ranks 13th, well behind LA and Chicago, but way ahead of Pittsburgh and, um, Detroit.

Still, as there are 27 cities on the list - and only 27 - a good glass-is-more-than-half-full perspective is that there are more cities below Philly on the green list than there are above us. And of course, like an Academy Award nomination, it's an honor just to make the list.

Vance Lehmkuhl @ 12:46 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, June 15, 2011, 3:41 PM
Filed Under: Hearth | Policy

In case you missed yesterday's Daily News editorial, we've reproduced it here. It's short and to the point, and has a nifty animated GIF showing the before and after in question.

CALL IT extreme makeover, waterfront division. The before-and-after images - (below) of Washington Avenue - were unveiled last night as part of a public presentation of the Central Delaware Master Plan. These are more than pretty pictures of what a transformed waterfront could look like.

They are pictures of what a transformed public-planning process can look like. The master plan, which segments the central Delaware into three major planning sites - Spring Garden, Washington Avenue and Penn's Landing - combines low-rise residential development, retail, parks, trails and boat basins, and is the result of a public process begun by Penn Praxis that involved thousands of citizen hours.

Sandra Shea @ 3:41 PM  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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