[In his ongoing but sporadic series — “Don’t Throw That Away! “– the Green Cheapskate shows you how to repurpose just about anything, from soda bottles to clothing, saving money and the environment in the process. Send him your repurposing ideas and challenges, but whatever you do, Don’t Throw That Away!”]
My great grandmother was born a peasant in Czechoslovakia, and she grew up eating super-crusty, European-style bread that had further turned to stone and was handed out for free to needy families by the local baker. As is often the case with things you experience early in life and have never known otherwise, she actually developed a fondness for stale bread.
Even once she moved to America and could afford fresh bread, she found it wholly unsatisfying. She would scour bakeries and markets for “day-old” bread, not just because it was cheap, but because she preferred it. Later in life, she took to buying fresh bread and laying slices of it all around her kitchen to allow it to go stale before eating it. Her house always smelled of yeast, rather like a brewery.
Every time I screw up and let some bread go stale, I think of her and say to myself, “Don’t throw that away!” Here’s what I do with it instead:
- Bread Crumbs. Whisk them in the blender, add some Italian seasonings, and keep them in an airtight container in the fridge.
- Croutons. Sauté stale bread cubes in plenty of butter and/or olive oil with a little Parmesan cheese for the best croutons you’ve ever eaten.
- Bread Soups. Use stale bread to thicken sauces, soups and stews. Bread soups are a popular, delectable and hardy dinnertime staple in countries around the globe. (Check out this recipe for French onion soup.)
- Feed the Birds. Bread crumbs and crusts will attract many a feathered friend to your backyard birdfeeder.
With so many recent initiatives aimed at combating climate change, energy prices have obviously taken a hit. To compensate for this change, though, many architects and builders have begun using Daylighting to a great degree in construction.
“Daylighting,” or “daylight harvesting,” has been growing in popularity recently because it uses natural sunlight to its advantage. A number of automated systems are able to measure free natural sunlight and figure out how it should use controlled lighting in relation to that. Then, a system will automatically dim or brighten the lighting so that only artificial light which is needed is used. From an architect’s standpoint, it’s an important thing that the most beneficial entry points of daylight are decided on before construction. North-facing windows are great because they will definitely reduce unwanted glare. A designer, in turn, would decide on a quality lighting control system for dimming indoor light fixtures. There are a lot of systems out there, so deciding on a single one has a lot to do with finding a balance between natural lighting availability and extra electric lighting needs.
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Posted: 2009-07-27 12:04:04Author:Chris Bacavis
There is a brilliant sustainability series on urban gardening (Alive Structures and roof garden tutorials will be featured) in New York City this summer put on by a non-profit called New York Restoration Project. There will be four talks, every other Thursday from 7 pm to 8 pm, in NYPC’s Toyota Children’s Learning Garden. All of them are open to the public.
Where? Toyota Sustainable Summer Series Toyota Children’s Learning Garden 603 East 11th Street, New York, NY
When? July 30, 2009 from 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
What? Sarah Seigal, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. She will give a short garden tour and speak about the garden design, specifically the shade tolerant planting palette she created for this garden.
What else? Refreshments at the end of each event.
NYRP works exclusively in New York City managing community gardens to help ensure their liveliness in each community. Keep reading for more details on the series in August and beyond…
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Posted: 2009-07-25 18:02:06Author:Lucille Chi
It’s a pleasure to finally begin writing here at Green Options! This time around, I’d like to focus on green building ambitions in the corporate world. I’ve been hearing a lot about Wal-Mart, Intel, etc. But have you heard about what Leviton just did with their headquarters?
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Posted: 2009-07-24 18:37:30Author:Chris Bacavis
With the recent burst of gardening enthusiasm sweeping the U.S., Japanese and other Asian-inspired gardens are among the most popular designs sprouting up in backyards everywhere. Picture a tranquil spot filled with lush ferns and cushiony moss, the soft trickle of running water, and ancient-looking miniature trees, and you’ll come to appreciate why Japanese-style gardens have been popular for thousands of years.
But what many people don’t realize is that Asian-inspired gardens can be among the least expensive and most environmentally friendly gardens to create and maintain. Here’s what you need to know to get started.
Nature is the Nurture
Unlike many other landscape styles, Asian gardens are intended to replicate the natural environment. Asian gardens attempt to create the perfect natural setting; what you might see and experience by walking through the deep woods under perfect conditions. Most other types of gardens attempt to create an environment unlike any found in nature, with cascades of constantly flowering annuals, specialized specimen plants not native to the area, and adorned with manmade decorative objects. Because Asian-influenced gardens have their roots in nature, they can be far less expensive to create and care for than other garden styles.
Start with the Plants
Japanese gardens utilize perennials almost exclusively; that is, plants that live year after year, as opposed to annuals that need to be replaced each year. So each plant in your Japanese garden is an investment that should last for many years. Many plants found in Asian-inspired gardens (e.g. ferns, bamboo, irises, ornamental grasses, ground covers, etc.) are inexpensive to purchase and extremely prolific, creating more plants on their own or with a little help. While the plants listed above, for example, will spread naturally, you can also divide them with a spade from time to time and transplant the clumps around the garden to speed up the procreation process. Some plants, like bamboo, can be invasive, so plant and control them carefully. Most of the plants typically used in a Japanese garden require little if any man-supplied water, fertilizers, or pesticides.