Jacob Reiner is an Eco Architect and director of Earth Embassy and the Solar Café. For more information on sustainable life-styles and eco living, visit www.earthembassy.org.
Frank Lloyd Wright
Arguably the greatest and most influential architect of the 20th century, Frank Lloyd Wright was also the godfather of eco-architecture. In 1908, 100 years ahead of his time, he proposed the concept of “organic architecture,” advocating simple materials in their natural state. His glass, stone, concrete and wood creations allowed the surrounding natural environment to be felt and experienced within the buildings. With disdaining walls that separate people from nature, his homes integrate the occupants with nature and seem to grow out of the land on which they are built.
Wright lived in Japan from 1916 until 1922, building the Imperial Palace Hotel in Tokyo, the Jiyu Gakuen School and four private homes. To really understand the natural genius of a Wright home, you should visit one. Jiyu Gaku is still open in Hibarigaoka, Tokyo (www.jiyu.ac.jp). The Imperial Hotel was demolished in 1968 but part of it was rebuilt at Meiji Mura Park near Nagoya. It is a great weekend trip, and the park has authentic period architecture from all over Japan (www.meijimura.com).
Ink has been around for nearly 5,000 years, made from all types of things from metals and berries to soot and squid. Petroleum-based ink, loaded with toxic heavy metals, became the norm in the 1960s, but rising oil process (prices?) and OPEC trouble in the 1970s led commercial printers to search for an alternative. Soy ink was developed as a renewable and more environmentally friendly option and is now used in 60 percent of commercial printing.
Keep an eye out for the “Printed with Soy Ink” label. Benefits supposedly include easier paper recycling, brighter colors and longer life span for printers. The one statistic I haven’t seen mentioned is how many thousands of acres are in non-organic production to grow all those beans. So, if you want to really save the world, how about starting an organic non-GMO ink farm? The market is wide open and waiting.
Cleaning the Slopes
Do skiers and snowboarders feel a little guilty about all that diesel fuel burning to run the lifts? Well, they should. Rather than just feeling guilty, be pro-active. The gang at eco-s gathers shredders from all over Japan to do some off-season mountain cleanup as well as fertilizing and planting the slopes in summer to help improve the environment and reduce erosion. (Excessive runoff from slopes can ruin streams and rivers.)
Give a little back to the mountains which provide so much for us. Get in touch with eco-s and visit with some friends; you’ll be glad when you hit the slopes this winter.
ZAP-X (by Lotus)
I try to be so eco but, like it or not, I love big, fast cars. Every day I watch the Mercedes speed by at 6 mpg and think, if only I could make one of those solar-powered. Well, the guys at ZAP who brought us that electric bike back in OJ Issue 3 have come a long way in the last year.
They are now taking advanced orders for the all-electric, five-seat, ZAP-X Crossover. Engineered by Lotus. 644 hp! Zero to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds! Capable of 155 mph, sexier than a Porsche Cayenne, 350-mile range, and a 10-minute re-charge time! And all-electric means you can power it with solar if you get enough panels.
Too good to be true? Yep, but I have seen the prototype and have already sent in my order. Wanna race?