More fashion updates!

Great to hear about other people’s work! Nick, I just read your latest chapter, and I really like the way you break down sustainable behavior. It’s very refreshing and understandable, and it reads well. Mike, can’t wait to be able to use the Sustainable Research Library – sounds like a great resource!  I also like the shortened acronym ( :

To give some updates, I’m back home in California after having spent a couple months in Europe. In July, I was in Paris taking fashion design and construction classes and doing research, and after that I went to Sweden to WWOOF on an organic farm that raised sheep and cows. Two very contrasting experiences, two different frames from which to think about sustainability, one great opportunity to learn.  Thanks so much to the Green Dorm for helping to fund my travel to Europe!

I really wanted to include photos in this post, but the upload is taking an eternity.  Perhaps it’s just my computer?  The message I keep getting is that the server is not authorized to upload the photos.  Anybody know what might be going down?  In any event, I will write…

The end goal of this project was to create a fashion design portfolio that summarizes my research on sustainable fashion techniques and what it means to have a sustainable philosophy as a fashion designer.  After hours of thinking and sketching, I found that, while non-sustainable lines can be developed from nearly any idea (say you’re inspired by lions, you then create a collection devoted to that idea), the concept for a sustainable portfolio takes a lot more time to formulate because you need to consider the practical repercussions of manufacturing that fashion idea.  I went through a number of ideas before arriving on anything final.  At first, I was inspired by Maasai fashion from Africa, and envisioned a limited collection where Maasai communities would supply or design the fabrics for the clothes.  This idea morphed into a “tribal hipster” line, which was farther-removed from these communities in Africa, but that used tribal styles and methods to increase interest in natural fibers and dyes in high-consuming, urban populations.  It was in my last week in Paris, however, that I came upon my final idea, which was completely different and which specifically addressed urban populations.  For this project, I am presenting a line of office wear that uses wasted or surplus office supplies (paper clips, staples, defected pencils, etc.) as fashion centerpieces.  Any fabrics necessary for the clothing will be organically produced, and the general message, besides being a sustainable one, is that people should begin to take a more creative approach to their careers and work, starting with what they wear to the office.

I also want to make a shameless plug, as Mike would say, for a new student group called the Sustainable Fashion Collective.  If you have any friends interested in fashion, tell them to keep their eyes open because we’re planning some cool stuff.

Valuescience, Positive Sustainability

Two updates from Nick. I’m TAing David Schrom’s Valuescience class, which was mentioned when he came to talk to us about the Magic house project. The Valuescience Syllabus is up on the web, if you’re interested in seeing what that class is all about – it’s a work in progress, but it’s a great resource, even if you don’t take the class.

Also, I just created a blog of my own, the Positive Sustainability Book Blog on which I will post book updates, including thoughts about it, and actual chapter drafts. I’ve posted the first thirty five pages, and will post some drafted later chapters soon. I’d love your comments.

The Sustainability Research Library

Hello all… thought I’d give out another update on the SRL (previously the SSRC). I met with Fahmida Ahmed

I couldnt think of a relevant picture for this post, so heres a view from the top of half dome I took at sunrise two weekends ago. If any of you havent done the midnight climb, I highly recommend it!

I couldn't think of a relevant picture for this post, so here's a view from the top of half dome I took at sunrise two weekends ago. If any of you haven't done the midnight climb, I highly recommend it!

and she’s really excited about the project. She pledged the Green Fund’s support for at least some of our operating costs for next year (we’ll still have to find funding for the social events & awareness campaign, but it will come). Also, she suggested we call it the Sustainability Research Library. This sounds more official, it encompasses faculty if they want in, it makes it more obvious of a go-to for students embarking on a research project, and it makes it very clear that we’re providing a service to, not competition with, subject-specific research groups on campus. What do you all think about this?

Finally, I met someone while selling tickets for a Stanford Summer Theater production who wants to do our dynamic web programming for free! He’s well versed in php and other languages I haven’t even heard of, and is interested in making our site generally kickass, such as making users able to upload and profile their own work with title, keyword, category, tenability (peer reviewed/academic/data only/notes), and an abstract, and then allow users to search keywords or categories and have the site dynamically create search results and pages for each article. This will change the site’s limitation from my ability to upload content to the physical limitations of the host’s hd and bandwidth size since we don’t have to maintain the content. Now, there’s nothing preventing us from going national… a few other schools have unofficially expressed an interest in participating! This can be our goal for next year (during the year)… take the site to the national stage.

So excited! Let’s get this blog moving again now that we’re all in summertime and have some room to stretch our brains!


Updates from Campus

Hello, all! I was thinking of sending out an update on what I’ve been doing, and was pleasantly surprised to see Nick and Irys’s posts on the blog! Green Dorm lives on! It would be great to get this going again and keep an active dialogue going on here. A great way to stay in touch with this blog is to click on the “WordPress Entries (RSS)” link at the bottom of this page, or by going here: feed:// and clicking either the “Subscribe in Mail,” “Add Bookmark,” or other pertinent links which will create a feed to your browser or email client that will let you know when new content is posted by green dormers!

While I’ve been at Stanford, I’ve been working on creating the new Student Sustainability Research Consortium, which some of you heard the beginnings of at the end of last year. I’m working with the Woods Institute, Students for a Sustainable Stanford, the OSA, and some others to create an organization that will be responsible for bringing together, organizing, and publishing all the student sustainability research on campus. (Shameless plug: If you have any research/papers/etc that we could start the site off with, we’d love to have it!)  We’re also going to be hosting events to bring people together in interdisciplinary groups & get people excited in sustainability research. Hopefully, by providing a place for people to go to look for direction, funding, advice, and experience, we’ll be able to increase the quantity and improve the quality of student research on campus! It’s been a fun process so far, and we’re heading into a lot of work as the summer rolls on with excitement. (shameless plug #2, if any of you know of any good web programmers with lots of time and no need for money, let me know!)

As for the Green Dorm, I’m meeting with Professor Fischer some time later this week (pending contact ;) ). He was very interested in me helping to raise the money to get the dorm built, and I’ll be talking with him about the future of the class, TAs, etc as well. Let me know if you want me to say anything to him!



I’ve been quite interested lately in “evolutionary ____.” Evolutionary medicine, evolutionary exercise, evolutionary diet, etc – finding ways to use and take care of our bodies the way they evolved to work. So when it came time to buy new shoes, I jumped at the chance to try out what I might call “evolutionary footwear.” Vibram Fivefingers is essentially a glove for your foot that allows full articulation of your foot and toes, allowing you to walk the way that nature intended, as our early ancestors walked for miles each day. It’s like walking barefoot, but with synthetic calluses so that you aren’t in pain on scorching hot pavement or rough surfaces. So far I love them. They aren’t made of any particularly sustainable material, nor do they have much to do with dorms, but I thought I’d share.

How could we better adapt the green dorm to the Pleistocene primate lifestyle we are designed for but generally disconnected from?

Updates from Paris

Hello from Paris! I’ve only been here for two weeks, and I’m loving it here. On July 1st I started summer courses at l’Ecole Superieure des Arts et Techniques de la Mode, a fashion university in the Montmartre district of Paris, and I have been lucky to meet people that are very willing to help me with my portfolio and who support sustainable fashion. In Paris, “la mode ecologique et ethique” (ecological/ethical fashion) is above all a philosophy of design. My fashion drawing and design teacher Christian Tournafol recently founded an “ethical” fashion company and has explained to me how the French see sustainable fashion: it’s a philosophy in which every step of the production process should be organic. Ideas should be organically derived from an individual designer’s interests and the fabric should be organically produced. During my drawing classes, I have been trying to work on the first of his suggestions, letting what inspires me be the main impetus for my designs and allowing a sustainable philosophy to be the overarching theme of each individual piece. I have found this way of thinking about sustainable production very freeing. Over the next month I will be working a lot with Christian on my designs and conducting some interviews with him – here is the link to his company, Les Racines du Ciel (  They’ve produced some very interesting lines over the last year, using interesting fabrics like traditional Chinese mud and potato coated silk.  Below are photos of some of my preliminary sketches for my portfolio.  Some are very inspired by the kimono, a very sustainable garment because there are no curved fabric cuts and thus no scraps and waste.  The other sketches are transformations of existing garments, a very sustainable concept and a great creative exercise.  Enjoy!

Obamas to add new organic garden to White House East Lawn


The Obama organic vegetable garden will provide food for White House kitchens and learning opportunities for local kids

In an effort to increase awareness of healthy and sustainable eating choices, First Lady Michelle Obama has decided to start an organic vegetable and fruit garden on the East Lawn of the White House (next to the Obama girls’ new swing set). This garden will provide locally grown, organic produce to the White House kitchens, but it will also be a learning opportunity for local students and families. According to an article by The New York Times, “Twenty-three fifth graders from Bancroft Elementary School in Washington will help her dig up the soil for the 1,100-square-foot plot in a spot visible to passers-by on E Street…. Students from the school, which has had a garden since 2001, will also help plant, harvest and cook the vegetables, berries and herbs.” The garden, according to Mrs. Obama, is a step towards encouraging healthier eating practices in homes across America that include eating more home-cooked meals containing local produce. “My hope is that through children, they will begin to educate their families and that will, in turn, begin to educate our communities.” Continue reading

Making Waste from Waste, Packaging it in Waste, and Earning Green Green.

Terracycle Homepage

What does this even mean? Good question. Princeton freshman dropout Tom Szaky (CEO Terracycle) makes amazing all-natural fertilizer from worm poop, and packages it in unprocessed used bottles. In addition, the stuff is made in a run-down warehouse using old horse feed-troughs collected from farms. A really cool business model: he doesn’t simply reconceptualize his product, but also every step of production, by using trash as much as possible. This way, he can dramatically cut costs and save valuable material resources. His company also makes reusable grocery and school bags from upcycled plastic grocery bags, other school supplies, eco-friendly cleaners, animal feed, fire starters (eh…) and more.

Video: Forecast Earth: Terracycle (The Weather Channel’s Forcast Earth)

The Watercone

more information at

more information at

Here is a really cool and simple technology. The Watercone is a solar still that can desalinate sea water or brackish water. The evaporated water condenses on the cone surface and then drips down into a small trough that also enables the cone to float on top of the dirty water surface that it is desalinating. The Watercone is the ultimate in decentralized small is beautiful/profitable technology. It can work because populations are spread out which means that the surface area required to harvest sunlight is not an issue, as it would be if you tried to make one centralized solar powered desalination facility. The device can create 1.0-1.7 liters of desalinated water a day. The base has a 60-80 cm diameter while the cone is 30-50 cm high.

Tendril Smart Meters

picture comes from the tendril website

picture comes from the tendril website

Tendril is a smart metering company. They have smart meters that can be installed in homes and deliver near real time electricity pricing information. They use distributed software and algorithms to calculate and predict your energy costs during the day with a night time true up of prices using utility data. A next step for this technology would be to deliver near real time energy-service pricing. Delivering energy-service pricing in real time could help people understand how much their cold beers and hot showers are costing them.

Once you start delivering energy services pricing information you open up a world of energy service provision. No longer would people worry about how much their kWh cost, instead they would see that they were paying more than their neighbor for refrigeration services, and they would want to buy the new product that delivers the better lower cost service.

Customers wouldn’t be happy if they had just spent hundreds of dollars on a suboptimal refrigerator. Also, if there is a better refrigerator that provides lower cost refrigeration services in two years, customers are going to want it. Therefore, monetizing energy services would empower customers and drive cradle-to-cradle design of products since companies and customers wouldn’t want to get stuck with underperforming service providing capital goods.

Some steps of exploration within the context of the Green Dorm: Someone could easily monetize the energy services provided to a dorm that is already equipped to monitor its own energy use. If the kWhs are already monetized, then this process would be much simpler.