Category Archives: sustainability

Zero Emission, Little Doubt: Test Drivin’ the Nissan Leaf!

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to test drive the new Nissan LEAF, the 100% electric, zero-emission car.

The Tesla Roadster, also a B.E.V. (battery electric vehicle) and perhaps the first electric car for U.S. consumers, retails for  $109K.  The MSRP of the LEAF starts at $32K – making it the first all-electric ride available to the consumer market.

Outside of taking a test drive, I had the opportunity to learn about the benefits of ownership (HUGE tax credits in CA), and the science and technology behind the car.

Many of you already know that I’m a total freak for Hybrids. Needless to say, I was super-stoked to spend a few hours on Saturday afternoon at Century City to take the LEAF for a spin (and possibly buy new boots at the adjacent outdoor shopping area – I’m not gonna lie!).

The car drives a lot like the Prius. It’s quiet and smooth. The guy let me floor it down Avenue of the Stars, and I noticed that the pickup is considerably faster. The 5 door hatch makes it smaller and less sedan-like, although it’s still considered to be a family car.

The technology is also similar to the Prius. The shift is in the middle and there’s a screen for navigation, entertainment and for monitoring your trip. The map also pinpoints nearby charging stations.  The dash has a matte display – like a Kindle – where you can see your controls.

My favorite design element of the exterior is definitely the sleekness of the tail light.

I like the round shape of the car. It looks practical and accessible for buyers (and check it out- no tailpipe)!

The battery, when fully charged, gives the car a range of 100 miles. While this may induce  range anxiety in some drivers, we learned that most drivers don’t even go more than 100 miles in a typical day.

A free app can help to ascertain how far 100 miles will take you. You can also use an app to turn on A.C. or heat when the car is powered down, keeping it at the perfect temperature before you enter – while saving battery when it’s actually powered on.

The LEAF is available for pre-order now in the U.S. and Japan, with shipping starting soon.

A rollout is planned in 2012 for availability in the global marketplace.

Celebrating Innovation; 10 Years of Prius!!!

Last night, I hit the PCH and headed to Malibu for the Toyota Prius 10th Anniversary party. It was held at the Wright Organic Resource Center, a rustic 24 acre site dedicated to the education and development of issues on ecological design, environmental responsibility, sustainability, and alternative agriculture.

As a die-hard Prius fan – I’ve been driving one since 2006 and recently upgraded from the 2007 model II to the 2010 IV- I was giddy all week and super stoked to attend.

In addition to meeting folks from the Prius camp and hobnobbing with like-minded hybrid car fanatics, the celebration included lifestyle workshops curated by Wired and SHFT, panels on sustainability, live music from M. Ward and Shepard Fairey, and a dinner al fresco.

The talks were inspiring and definitely got my internal gears going. Dinner, courtesy of Outstanding in the Field, was fantastic. I enjoyed learning about the direct farm-to-table approach of cooking. It created further awareness of where our food comes from, encouraging more personal action to buy local produce and make a small difference on the day-to-day level.


All in all, it was a dream evening for a design, tech, music and sustainability geek like me. I met many incredible and forward thinking folks – we toasted with like-minded bloggers, chatted green with local gardeners, sparred tech with folks from Wired, and chatted Prius with members from their team. We also got a glimpse of the plug-in hybrid model (PHV), available in 2012.

Thanks to Filter for an incredible Sunday evening!

Interview: TOMS Shoes Founder Blake Mycoskie

TOMS shoes, a company started in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie from his Venice, CA apartment, has quickly become a social movement – a phenomenon quickly propelling the shoe brand into the hearts and minds of consumers and social activists alike. Gaining momentum on college campuses and through social sites like Facebook and Twitter, it’s now a top-selling shoe at popular department stores like Nordstroms.

TOMS “One for One” business model means that for every pair of shoes purchased, another is given away to a child in need. And now, four years after it was founded with a goal of giving away two hundred and fifty pairs, TOMS is celebrating giving away the one millionth pair – something Blake had never anticipated happening when first starting out.

Thanks to generous support from the good folks at AT&T, I had the opportunity to travel to Argentina for the One Millionth Pair Shoe Drop. The group consisted of just over 30 folks from the TOMS staff, partners from AT&T and Gowalla, members of the media including noted photographers and videographers, and Blake’s parents – two of the most incredible folks I’ve had the chance to meet.

Over the course of a week, we delivered and placed TOMS shoes on the feet of hundreds of children. We traveled around the Argentine state of Misiones visiting rural villages and schools,  hand-delivering shoes and engaging with children in an effort to prevent disease and create a memorable moment in a child’s life.

I had a chance to speak with Blake about the impact of social media, where the name TOMS came from and what’s next for the revolutionary company. Check it out!

For more of our coverage, see:

Buy TOMS shoes here

Visiting The Greenhouse Tavern

Over the weekend I had a chance to visit my hometown of Westlake, Ohio. I usually make it back once or twice a year. In an attempt to keep with  a New Year’s Resolution to spend more time with family, I flew back to visit my parents for Easter weekend.

On Friday night we dined at the Greenhouse Tavern. It’s a relatively new restaurant located in Cleveland’s East 4th Street Entertainment District.

I was impressed with their farm-to-table approach presented in a totally forward-thinking and upscale way. Maybe I’ve been living on the west coast for too long, but I really do believe that farm-to-table sets an example of how we should all be eating in the first place.

Opening almost exactly a year ago, The Greenhouse is the first restaurant in the city to be LEED Certified (LEED certification is recognition that a building’s management has implemented best practices for creating an energy efficient and environmentally sustainable structure).  It’s also the first green-certified restaurant in the state of Ohio.

In addition to being green the narrow space is also elegant. It employs beautiful oak flooring from former Ohio farmhouses and barns,  reclaimed vintage doors, and salvaged materials from the local business Old School Architectural Salvage. Other local businesses were hired to create furnishings. I learned from Yelp users that the best place to sit is actually in the basement, where you can pony up alongside the chefs and watch the action take place.

The restaurant advocates the Farm to Plate Movement, which means that all ingredients are locally produced. Our guy explained what the wild Ohio ramps were on the menu  (think leek meets onion) which he had happened to pick that morning himself.  The menu changes constantly to reflect new dishes and ingredients (say, if one of the staff happened to have gone fishing that morning – it would be incorporated on the menu that evening).

In a town known for roast beef and hot dogs, The Greenhouse is inspiring and a total breath of fresh air.

Although I’m a fairly fussy eater and was quite impressed with my experience, one of my favorite aspects of the restaurant was (surprise!) the jukebox. In the basement along the wall is an amazingly retro-outfitted jukebox with those little old-school hand-written cards. The music with funk, soul, r&b and rock singles – it made me happy just looking at it.

Overall, I’m excited for what the Greenhouse Tavern could mean for Cleveland and midwestern cities at large.

Named one of Bon Appetit Magazine’s Top Ten Best New Restaurants in America certainly gives it – and the city – international cred. More importantly is what it implies locally. Restaurants like The Greenhouse Tavern are promoting a practice and mentality that will better dining and best building practices for generations to come.

Let’s hope it catches on.


Bon Appetit feature (PDF)

New York Times mention (PDF) The Greenhouse Tavern and Death-Row Dining

BX Magazine (PDF)