Taking Inspiration from Hummingbirds

On my trip to Vancouver, BC earlier this summer, I made a point to notice materials. While browsing the gift shop at the Capilano Suspension Bridge, a collection of earrings caught my eye. Although I own plenty of earrings – at least 25 pairs – I decided I had to buy these. They advertise being made from lead-free pewter and handcrafted in Canada, and the hummingbird is supposedly a symbol of good fortune. How could I not buy them?

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Julia GoldsteinComment
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Goals for Progress

Last weekend I completed a triathlon, my fourth to date. When people hear the word "triathlon" many automatically think of the Ironman, a competition consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and 26.2-mile (marathon) run. My event was much more modest: 0.75-mile swim, 22.5-mile bike ride, and 4-mile run. This is slightly shorter than an Olympic triathlon (1.5-km swim, 40-km bike, 10-km run) but longer than most sprint distance events. How is the triathlon related to the title of this blog post? Keep reading to find out. 

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Julia GoldsteinComment
Sticking Our Heads in the Sand? We Shouldn't Have To

Peter Holgate conveys an air of confidence without seeming arrogant. His desire to achieve something “consequential” with his third startup drove him to found Ronin8, a company whose mission revolves around changing the world by changing e-waste processing. I met with Peter in his Vancouver, BC office recently to interview him for the book I’m writing on sustainable materials management.

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Jargon and Acronyms: Beware

I read a blog post recently that started with an analogy to laying tiles, something most people can grasp, but then shifted to engineering jargon. This strikes me as a perfect example of the challenge of understanding your audience. Are you writing for engineers who are experts in your field, or for executives who care very little about the technical details and just want to know how the new technology will save time or money?

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Julia GoldsteinComment
Is There Lead in Those Pipes?

One cold January day, I came home to water running down my driveway. It hadn’t rained in days, so I knew something was wrong. Forgetting to put the Styrofoam insulator over the front yard hose bib before the freezing weather hit was definitely a mistake.

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Living in an Anthropocene World

The Unnatural World by David Biello caught my attention. It was part of a featured selections display in the library, where the images of leaves on the cover and the title drew me in. Biello’s message – that we are living in the Anthropocene Era, in which humans control the planet’s environment and which may date to as long ago as the beginnings of agriculture – asserts itself throughout the book

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Julia GoldsteinComment
Trains, Planes, Automobiles, and More

What do electric buses, wood veneer, circadian lighting, and insects on airplanes have in common? All these topics, and many more, came up at the GoGreen Conference in Seattle on March 16. Some of the people I met at the conference asked if I was going to publish a write-up. I will satisfy people’s curiosity and share some nuggets that I learned.

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Julia GoldsteinComment
Why writing a book is like making a jigsaw puzzle

A friend of mine told me recently, “Writing a book is like making a jigsaw puzzle. It’s hard to get started, and it comes together slowly at first, but it is faster toward the end.” He had it somewhat right, but not exactly. As a writer who also enjoys jigsaw puzzles, I had to take it further. The analogy works in a much deeper way than my friend had considered.

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Julia GoldsteinComment
Three Haikus for a Winter Morning

Yesterday, February 2, was Groundhog Day. Apparently, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and predicted six more weeks of winter. It certainly looks and feels like winter here in the Seattle area. In Pennsylvania, however, where he lives, Phil’s prediction may not come true.

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Julia Goldstein Comment
Getting the Lead Out

It is astounding that decades after we removed lead from gasoline and paint, there is still lead in the water supplies of many cities around the world. Lead pipes older than today’s senior citizens still supply water to millions of people. In the U.S., the problem extends far beyond Flint, Michigan. Water systems in all 50 states have shown excessive levels of lead.

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Julia GoldsteinComment
What Goes into a Solar Car?

I started attending the annual IDTechEx Show in Santa Clara, CA in 2011 when the primary focus was printed electronics, which was a perfect match for my role writing a column on printed electronics for Industrial+Specialty Printing Magazine. In recent years, the show has expanded its focus to a huge range of emerging technologies. Some of the co-located topics may appear to have little to do with each other, but a keynote from the Nuon Solar Team demonstrated the synergy between them.

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Julia GoldsteinComment
Where to toss that cup and spoon?

Last time I was at my local Yogurtland store, I noticed something new. When I walked over to throw away my cup and spoon, I saw it: a clear plastic cylinder that exactly fit my yogurt cup and special compartments in which to toss the spoon and napkin. 

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Julia GoldsteinComment
Using the Whole Carrot

Last summer I bought a juicer, with the intent of juicing our backyard harvest of grapes that are too small and full of seeds to eat whole, as well as the fruit from our two apple trees. Alas, the apple trees suffered from a fungus that rendered most of the apples inedible. We did, however have a bountiful supply of grapes.

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Julia GoldsteinComment
A New Way to Process e-waste

Is there something wrong with a world where more people own cell phones than have access to running water? That statistic makes me aware that we, as a global community, need to work to provide more people with safe running water, and also that the production of consumer electronics contributes to the toxic environments in which many people in the world live. 

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Do Drive on the Grass

In my last blog post, I promised to tell the story of my visit to Clearwater Commons in Bothell, WA, where you can indeed drive on the grass. Property owner Tom Campbell gave me a personal tour of this very unusual neighborhood.

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