Environment Forum

from Shop Talk:

Molson Coors-sponsored survey finds water pollution key concern

August 18, 2009

molsoncoorsWhat is the latest and most important environmental concern these days? Global warming? Disappearing ice caps and rain forests? Reliance on non-renewable energy?

Another reason for angry teenagers – in the shower

June 25, 2009

Other than pounding on the bathroom door, there is little one can do to get family members (read teenagers) to take shorter showers. But with mandatory water conservation possibly coming down the pipeline in California’s third year of drought,  one Denver-based company said it has the invention that will help households get through these dry times: the Shower Manager.

from Shop Talk:

House-made WHAT?

June 16, 2009

tapwater"Sparkling or still?"
 
Remember when that question, asked with a certain downward gaze, would make you feel like a tactless tightwad for requesting tap? Did you try to lessen the shame with a smile and a clever nickname, like "I'll have 'New York's Finest'"?
 
Restaurants and hotels across the country are blurring the lines between these choices, as they stop serving bottled water due to a perception that it is environmentally unfriendly. Critics object to the waste left behind by the plastic and glass bottles, as well as the fuel and other natural resources used to manufacture and ship the bottles all over the world.
 
"In the world of trying to live in a more green, sustainable environment, I think water is the most obvious, simple thing that we can do," said Joseph Bastianich, a business partner of Mario Batali and co-owner of restaurants including Babbo, Lupa, Esca and Del Posto.
 
Bastianich told Reuters he is in the process of phasing out water across all his restaurants, following in the footsteps of other environmentally-conscious restaurants like Alice Waters' Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California.
 
bottled-waterIn its place, Bastianich is installing filters made by Natura Water, which purify a restaurant's tap water and allow users to get still, sparkling or room temperature tap water. The restaurants can adjust the amount of carbonation, allowing them to tout the water as made in-house.
 
The Natura system, which comes with reusable water bottles for serving, can be rented for about $400 a month. 
 
Company founder Marco De Plano, whose customers also include L.A.'s  Ciudad, San Francisco's Foreign Cinema and certain Four Seasons hotels, said that with prices of high-end bottled water bubbling as high as $10, high-traffic locations can recoup their losses quickly.
 
"When we started this a year ago, everybody was talking about the green aspect," De Plano said. 
 
Bastianich says a liter of Natura water costs him about 50 cents and sells for about $4. That profit margin is slimmer than before, when he would pay about 80 cents for a liter of premium bottled mineral water and sell it for up to $9. 
 
"We think the loss of margin is an investment that's very worthwhile making," Bastianich said. 

Water! (gasp) California needs water!

April 3, 2009

The results are in and no surprise — California’s lean snowpack means a third year of drought for the state whose farms supply about half the nation’s fruit and vegetables.

A bleach that leaves the environment clean, too

March 27, 2009

Everyone knows bleach makes things cleaner, but until now its active ingredient, chlorine, has made the environment dirtier. Two companies have come up with a bleach that has no chlorine and boasts other environmental benefits as well.

Group wants oil, gas drillers to follow rules in U.S. West

March 27, 2009

An environmental group this week issued a report saying oil and gas companies have enjoyed exemptions to common sense anti-pollution federal rules that govern companies in other industries. This has led, the Environmental Working Group claims, to fouled groundwater, creeks and acres and acres of formerly pristine land in the U.S. West.

High and dry on the California farm

March 13, 2009

At lunchtime in California’s San Joaquin Valley, farmers meet up at Jack’s Prime Time Restaurant, where they can get a good, honest meal … just what one expects from an establishment smack dab in the middle of the most productive farming region in the world.

Overcoming the ‘ick’ factor of wastewater recycling

March 12, 2009

After an hourlong tour of the world’s largest wastewater recycling plant, where 70 milion gallons of pre-treated sewer discharge is distilled daily to help replenish the underground drinking supply of Orange County, California, I was led to a sink with a faucet. There I was presented with a plastic cup and invited to take a sip.

For water, it’s still Chinatown, Jake

March 11, 2009

To help prepare myself for the water series we’ve been running, I went to the movies. Or brought home a DVD, anyway. I rented “Chinatown,” the fictional 1974 Roman Polanski movie with Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway, which is all about the growth of Los Angeles and the search/theft for water.

Cities in U.S. Southwest face thirsty times

March 11, 2009

The fast-growing U.S. Southwest has a problem: too many people, not enough water.