Made My First Subreddit

For those of you on Reddit (and I don’t imagine many of you are), I just started a subreddit called r/Downgradingfor folks with a hobby or lifestyle interest in replacing some of the gadgets in their life with older – and sometimes way older – variations or substitutes.

Hope to see one or two of you there!


The Zero Waste History of Kimonos

I found an interesting post on Annekata’s blog about kimonos, and how they were historically made and handled. The excerpt relevant to us is here:

A friend of mine in Cologne took a kimono sewing class and explained to me that when a kimono is washed, the garment is taken apart by removing the thread and the garment re-sewn after drying. I use button hole thread, because I don’t ever have the intention of taking my skirts and shirts apart and certainly not reassembling them. However, the care which goes into a kimono is humbling.

Kimonos are “zero-waste” products as they contain a whole bolt of fabric without cutting. Although the garment uses a lot of fabric, the life of a kimono doesn’t end in a landfill.

Instead, it’s re-used, creating many different items such as children’s kimonos, covers, hand bags and other accessories. Damaged or soiled kimonos were often re-sewn to hide their flaws.Now, if that isn’t green, I don’t know what is.

But it goes even further. Historically, when kimonos were worn out, the silk thread was laboriously removed (can you image the work involved?) and rewoven into a new textile. This weaving method is called saki-ori and was found in rural areas. Not sure, if it’s still done. Below is a fragment of saki-ori fabric.
There’s a few links, a video, and some pictures to accompany the full blog post. I highly recommend checking out the blog as well, if you’re of the textile-minded sort.

PS – I’m claiming a duplicate blog on Blog Lovin with this post, which requires me to post a link code. So feel free to ignore this:

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What I’m Reading: A Friday Link Roundup

Enforcing the Law Is Inherently Violent – The Atlantic
“Yale law professor Stephen L. Carter believes that the United States would benefit if the debate about what laws ought to be passed acknowledged the violence inherent in enforcing them.”

Asymmetric accolades: Why preventing a crisis almost never makes you a hero – Resource Insights
“In our thinking we place a premium on the dramatic rescue, the last-minute escape, and the ingenious on-the-fly technical solution. They all make good copy for reporters, and they make good stories for television and movies.” But what about the people behind the scenes who work to make sure situations don’t need heroes?

Shaky Foundations for Offshore Wind Farms – Scitizen
“Offshore wind farms are far more difficult and expensive than developing on-shore wind power. If the UK is serious about providing 25% of its electricity by this means, as a form of carbon-free home-grown electricity by 2020, it will be necessary to build and install 2-3 turbines every day for the next 8 years. There are also issues of how robust this technology is under the harsh conditions that prevail out at sea. Is this a halcyon vision of green energy in a zero-carbon world or a gamble with uncertain technology in an already overstretched economy?”

Public housing residents told to tear up their gardens – Treehugger
A housing project in South Pittsburg is enforcing a ridiculous rule that says residents can’t plant or maintain their own gardens… and this is after many years of happy gardening due to non-enforcement. The reason? Some bogus appeal to “safety”. June 1st was when the mandate was due to be enacted, but there may still be time to get angry.

My four months as a private prison guard. – Mother Jones
Reporter Shane Bauer gets hired as a guard in a for-profit prison in order to find out what conditions are really like. A very long, very sobering account of what it’s like to work as a CO for The Corrections Corporation of America, and second-hand, what it’s like to be a prisoner.

What I’m Reading: A Friday Link Roundup

PVDSA’s Garish May Production Collapse – Caracas Chronicles
Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., Venezuela’s state-owned petroleum and gas company, has taken a hit to their daily oil production to the tune of 120,000 barrels. As the article states, this means that they “just declined by an amount similar to an entire (if small) petrostate’s production, in just one month.” The country is in crisis mode, complete with food shortages and rioting. At this rate, Venezuela could run out of oil within a few years.

Cows  on Antibiotics Release More Methane – Conservation Magazine
“Antibiotic use and overuse in livestock has long been controversial, as it has been linked to antibiotic resistance in humans. Livestock are regularly given antibiotics to keep them healthy in overcrowded or unsanitary conditions, or even to boost their growth. Now, a study published recently in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B has documented for the first time that antibiotics given to cows also increase the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane from cow dung.”

Design For The One Percent – Jacobin
Jacobin on the role of “starchitects” like Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid and their works in a world full of government corruption, sketchy labor practices, and tremendous income inequality.

The dot on my forehead: how we understand the crisis is part of the crisis – Bayo Akomolafe
A Nigerian psychologist and activist on being participants in crises instead of observers: “It was something I heard one dissident professor say when I was an undergraduate studying psychology in a Nigerian university. He didn’t quite say it; he whispered it. When the white men came, they brought us schools and the bible, he intoned. And then we gave them our own stories. That colonial Faustian pact made us orphans in the world, erasing the sky and the lands and the mountains we had learned to speak with, and replacing that intimacy with the more appropriate gesture of staring at them through the microscope. Through the interstices of a ledger. Through the plot device of development and prosperity for all.”

The SNAP of Doom – The Daily Impact
Apparently SNAP/EBT benefits have not been going out to all of its intended recipients lately, and the mainstream news is not reporting this. Millions of Americans are just a few SNAP dollars away from a full-blown famine, and regardless of whether you think this is some grand conspiracy or simply the terrible result of a few cascading computer failures, this really does nicely illustrate just how few clothes the emperor is wearing. (As for a question of how do we feed people when the government can’t or won’t? Three words: Food Not Bombs!)

What I’m Reading: A Friday Link Roundup

Making Our Own Mead – Sarenth Odinsson’s Blog
A fellow polytheist writes about making mead the old-fashioned way: using little more than honey, water, and wild yeast. (Due to recent successes with a wild sourdough culture, I’m excited to try this.)

Ethical consumers are perceived as odd, boring, unattractive, and not stylish – Treehugger
“An amusing new study delves into the social consequences of one person witnessing another person doing the ‘ethical thing’ — and why it makes them uncomfortable.” Quite probably related to my Shooting the Messenger post!

The Emergence of Historical Mega Breaches – Troy Hunt
On the increasing frequency of website security breaches and login information that is being leaked or outright sold on the black market. Some people think that more technology (and more internet infrastructure) will solve this problem. Personally? I’m not holding my breath.

Facebook bias isn’t the problem. This is ⬇️ – Medium
“To suspect that Facebook or Google would seek to censor or prioritize certain lines of thinking misunderstands their core philosophy. In reality, they don’t have a stake in either side. Their philosophy does not aim to improve, change, or manipulate human thinking.

Their philosophy aims to replace human thinking — and charge you for it.”

It’s Time to Change Water Policy, Past Dam-Agency Leader Says – KUER
An ex-BR head endorses tearing down the Glen Canyon Dam. I’ve spent some time on Lake Powell, and have a lot of fond memories of being there with a side of the family I rarely get to see, and many of whom no longer talk to each other, so I’ve got a lot of emotions invested in that landscape. However, I would still love to see the dam torn down. It’s kind of weird to hear someone so prominent even talking about it; it kinda hit me like a ton of lead. (Idk, I get very emotional thinking about dams getting dismantled.) And who knows, I might get to see that part of the Colorado river flow free again in my lifetime.

Why doesn’t the US have right to roam laws?

We’d never given this issue much thought, but the idea of private property remaining accessible to others who will act responsibly as passersby is an interesting one. If nothing is damaged and the goal is simply to get from one place to the other, or enjoy nature without borders, then why not? Ken Ilgunas writes […]

via Private Property in the US — Raxa Collective

The Zuckerberg Donation and a Legacy of Control

When I was very young, my parents used to tell me why having “lots of toys” wasn’t a good idea. “The more you have, the more you want,” they would say. I didn’t have many toys — we were poor — so the idea of possessions feeding greed didn’t make much sense to me then.

But I’ve learned the truth of that statement from observation over the years and lately I’ve been observing Mark Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg is a 31-year-old computer programmer who did two things that made him famous: he founded Facebook, the social networking super service, and, as a result, he amassed a fortune worth about $46 billion. His bank account is as large as the capitalization of many countries.

The Zuckerberg Family

The Zuckerberg Family

How he got to these lofty heights of wealth and cultural impact is a matter of often fierce debate — he’s been sued by former “partners” several times. But what’s more important than how he got control of Facebook is what he’s constructed with it: a ubiquitous presence in the lives of a billion people with the potential to frame and manipulate their communications, their relationships and, to a frighteningly large extent, their lives.

So last month, when Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan announced in a letter to their new baby — a rather novel way to package a press release — that, over the course of their lives, they will give almost all their Facebook shares to a project called the Chan Zuckerberg Iniative, the world took note.

The Initiative, they explained, would “advance human potential and promote equality” in health, education, scientific research, and energy. In short, change the world: on its face, a worthy cause. But, like many of Zuckerberg’s plans and projects, this one has another side that is darker, more cynical and, even if only partially successful, a potential nightmare for the human race.

A good, short, piece that explains why philanthropy and charity will never, ever fundamentally change the lots of the world’s poor and destitute. That the only way to do what Zuckerberg claims he wants to accomplish is to somehow build a world in which the rich don’t – can’t – exist. Consider this a companion to People Will Not Buy Zero Waste Until They Can Afford It.

Read more at This Can’t Be Happening!

“Our Hemisphere’s Temperature Just Reached a Terrifying Milestone”

Our planet’s preliminary February temperature data are in, and it’s now abundantly clear: Global warming is going into overdrive.

There are dozens of global temperature datasets, and usually I (and my climate journalist colleagues) wait until the official ones are released about the middle of the following month to announce a record-warm month at the global level. But this month’s data is so extraordinary that there’s no need to wait: February obliterated the all-time global temperature record set just last month.

Using unofficial data and adjusting for different base-line temperatures, it appears that February 2016 was likely somewhere between 1.15 and 1.4 degrees warmer than the long-term average, and about 0.2 degrees above last month—good enough for the most above-average month ever measured. (Since the globe had already warmed by about +0.45 degrees above pre-industrial levels during the 1981-2010 base-line meteorologists commonly use, that amount has been added to the data released today.)

Keep in mind that it took from the dawn of the industrial age until last October to reach the first 1.0 degree Celsius, and we’ve come as much as an extra 0.4 degrees further in just the last five months. Even accounting for the margin of error associated with these preliminary datasets, that means it’s virtually certain that February handily beat the record set just last month for the most anomalously warm month ever recorded. That’s stunning.


La Paz Group

Photo credits:

Environmental Activism has never taken a back seat in Seattle and we continue to root for the individuals, organizations and public officials who are working to draw global attention to a possible environmental disaster. Certainly not the moment to “Keep Calm & Carry On”…

Hundreds of kayakers in Seattle were preparing to go and “shake their paddles” in protest at a newly arrived 400ft long, 355ft tall Royal Dutch Shell oil rig on Saturday, with hundreds – perhaps thousands – more scheduled to attend on dry land.

“We here in Seattle do not want Shell in our…

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DIY Rain Barrel

Tutorial courtesy of Hey!Tanks LA:

Reduce your water bill and help the envi­ron­ment in a weekend

Look­ing for a great week­end project for the entire fam­ily? Mak­ing your own rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing bar­rel is an inex­pen­sive, safe and reli­able start to get a rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing sys­tem in place.


  1. 55gal. plas­tic food barrel
  2. 3/4” spigot
  3. 1/2” hose
  4. screen
  5. 6” diam­e­ter plas­tic flowerpot
  6. 1/2” hose barb
  7. 90′ 1/2” hose barb


  1. marker
  2. tin snips
  3. 5/8” & 7/8” pad­dle bit
  4. jig saw
  5. drill
  6. mea­sur­ing tape
  7. wrench
  8. 1/2” & 3/4” tap


Turn flower pot upside down and set it on top of the bar­rel. Place the pot equal dis­tance between the two white caps and approx­i­mately 1/3 over the seam line. With a Sharpie, trace around the flowerpot.

With the cir­cle you just traced as a guide, draw another cir­cle inside the first. Make it about 1/4” smaller; this will be your pattern.

Cut out the smaller cir­cle with a jig saw or hand saw. To get this started, you can drill the ini­tial hole with a pad­dle bit.

With snips or heavy-duty scis­sors, cut a square piece of wire mesh to approx­i­mately the size of the bot­tom of the pot. Fold the cor­ners and place the mesh at the bot­tom of the flow­er­pot. Make sure not to leave any open spaces or gaps. Next, fill about 1/3rd of the pot with 3/4” gravel. This “fil­ter” will set in the hole you made in the bar­rel top.


Water weighs about eight pounds a gal­lon (A full 55 gal­lon bar­rel will weigh over 400 pounds!). It’s impor­tant to set the bar­rel level upon a hard sur­face. In most cases, dirt will turn into sink­ing mud when it gets wet. Build­ing a “sand­box” out of treated lum­ber (reclaimed is prefer­able and often locally avail­able) is a good way to rem­edy this. Fill the box with aggre­gate, gravel, or some other hard mate­r­ial that doesn’t absorb water. Besides keep­ing the bar­rel from sink­ing or tip­ping, the sand­box raises your water supply.


Draw a mark on the front of the bar­rel, 4” from the bot­tom. Do this in the cen­ter, on the side where the large, top hole, over­laps the least. This is where the spigot will go. With your mark­ing as a guide, drill a hole with a 7/8” pad­dle bit.

Tap the hole with a ¾” tap. It is impor­tant to only give this-only a few turns, once it catches. Also, try to make your “tap” as straight as pos­si­ble. It’s best to lay the bar­rel hor­i­zon­tally, while drilling and tapping.

Screw the spigot into the hole you just tapped. Use a large wrench to tighten. Tighten until the spigot is snug. When you notice the out­side o ring begin to “squish”- Stop!


With a 5/8” pad­dle bit, drill a hole about 2” from the top of the bar­rel and fol­low with a 1/2” tap. Screw the 1/2” hose barb into the hole. Slip a few feet of hose onto the barb.


If you wish to “daisy chain” your bar­rel, choose a spot approx­i­mately the same height as the spigot and drill a hole with a 5/8 pad­dle bit, fol­lowed by a 1/2” tap. Screw in a 1/2” hose barb and con­nect appro­pri­ate size hose length (gar­den hose and poly tub­ing for drip irri­ga­tion work well). If needed, you can plug this con­nec­tor with an end cap.


There are many options here. Use your knowl­edge, intu­ition, and skills. Try to chal­lenge your­self to use as few resources as pos­si­ble and re-use mate­ri­als where you can. Often the sim­plest sys­tem works the best. Like my musi­cian friend says: “play with what you got”


There are many great rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing resources on the web. Amer­i­can Rain­wa­ter Catch­ment Asso­ci­a­tion and TreeP­eo­ple TreeP­eo­ple are good places to start.

You can call us toll free 1(877) 648‑2657 to order the do-it-yourself-kit.

I’m SO making one of these for my mom when she moves into a house (hopefully) this spring. With California and the rest of the Southwest in a 1000-year drought, it makes no sense why ANY homeowner or home-renter wouldn’t have one or three of these in their yard.

Remember victory gardens? We need to get a head-start on some “victory reservoirs” before we start hurting any more than we currently do.