Friday, November 27, 2015


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: Saturday, April 21, 2012, 9:20 AM
Filed Under: Biz | Food | Tech | Trends
Compostable toothbrushes from World Centric.

Well, tomorrow's Earth Day, so here's Part Two of our E2P roundup - a bunch of items related to the holiday from products to events to food and film!

Time was, releasing a product with less packaging or some recycled materials was enough for a flurry of publicity about a company's "commitment to sustainability." The field was less crowded, and a token effort would allow you stand out from the mainstream crowd. But with more jumping on the crowded "green" bandwagon, the bar is being raised.

"How high?" you might ask, but the question is really "how low?" when you're talking about compostable Toothbrushes!

Vance Lehmkuhl @ 9:20 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, April 20, 2012, 6:14 PM
Filed Under: Biz | Tech | Trends
The KORK iPad case is made from recycled and recyclable natural cork. Image from this roundup at

Here's part 1 of our annual Earth Day products round-up, this one from Gizmo Guy Jon Takiff. Watch for part 2 with more products and events tomorrow morning.

How do we know that  Earth Day must  be right around the corner (Sunday)? Environmental groups focused on the (fraught with eco-peril) electronics industry have been laying on the good and bad tidings.

Cloudy Forecast: Amazon, Apple and Microsoft all got slammed by Greenpeace International yesterday in a report on cloud energy practices. While Google, Yahoo and Facebook are
"taking steps to power their clouds with clean energy," those other "highly innovative and profitable companies are building data centers powered by coal and acting like their customers won't know and won't care," said Gary Cook, Greenpeace senior policy analyst. Some data centers "use as much electricity as 250 European homes."

Jonathan Takiff @ 6:14 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: Friday, February 17, 2012, 4:21 PM
Filed Under: Art | Biz | Policy | Tech
Executive Director Gretjen Clausing points a celebratory finger at the 'On Air' sign as PhillyCAM goes live for the first time.

Last week a milestone of sorts was reached in the world of people-based media here in Philly. At an event attended by Earth to Philly and members of other interested groups plus the public at large, PhillyCAM quietly went from playing only prerecorded videos to putting out live, local programming to the region's cable subscribers.

Well, actually it wasn't all that quiet. Mayor Nutter stopped by in the afternoon for an official ribbon-cutting, and the party in the evening was boisterous that I was hard-pressed to do any interviewing on-site and decided to follow up on the event later.

I spoke with two of the head honchos, Executive Director Gretjen Clausing and Programming Director Debbie Rudman, about how things are shaping up for PhillyCAM after a quarter-century fight to bring public access television, something that's been long enjoyed in other cities, to Philly.

Vance Lehmkuhl @ 4:21 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: Friday, January 13, 2012, 4:24 PM
Filed Under: Biz | Policy | Tech
William Toffey.

The tacit notion that whatever we throw away or stop paying attention to simply disappears from existence is called the "toilet assumption."

The derivation of the term should be obvious. And it's exactly the kind of thinking that the sustainable movement constantly fights against, working to keep people paying attention and considering consequences that may not be instantly apparent.

William Toffey is definitely working to raise awareness. But unlike most of us, he wants us to pay attention to what is actually and literally flushed down the toilet. Not just human waste but water, both of which make their way to treatment plants and then, in some form or another, out into the wider world.

Vance Lehmkuhl @ 4:24 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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