I just returned from a week-long cruise with my wife and four children. A cruise is not really classified as a green activity. The immense consumption that takes place on board as compared with the desperate poverty that can be witnessed in virtually every port is a cataclysmic reality-check of the wide crevasse between the haves and the have-nots of this unequal world.
One could overthink this cultural divide, or one could look to learn lessons from the people and societies of the various ports of call. I chose the latter.
It has been said over and again that out of poverty comes ingenuity. That was seen in spades along the way in beautiful artwork made from scrap metals to beautiful papers made from recycled fabric. What really showed in the ports of call was the pride of the artisans.
What we call the green movement in the U.S. came out of our consciousness (because of our plenty), but in these developing areas, it comes from necessity. Could we do better? Absolutely! What new renewables can we embrace moving forward? Three that caught my eye on the trip were cork, bamboo, and hemp.
Cork: Cork farmers harvest the outer layers of a cork tree every nine to 12 years. The bark grows back and can be re-harvested up to 12 times from a single tree. A cork tree is not killed in the action of harvesting the product, which is completely renewable. It is as durable and long-lasting as leather and has a very promising future.
Bamboo: The bamboo tree can grow up to four feet in a single day. Bamboo is a great product for flooring and other building products and some of the softest clothing you can buy. This product, raised properly, will play a vital role in the future economy.
Hemp: Hemp’s rapid growth cycle and strong characteristics make it a wonderful product for making textiles and building materials. Look to see hemp take a strong role in the future. Check out the age of this comment from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture:
“Hemp is the miracle plant of our time, breathing in four times the carbon dioxide (CO2) of trees during its quick 12-14 week growing cycle. Trees take 20 years to mature vs 4 months for Industrial hemp! Our forests are being cut down 3 times faster than they can grow! One acre of hemp produces as much cellulose fiber pulp as 4.1 acres of trees!” (Dewey & Merrill. Bulletin #404. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. 1916)
What does all this mean for parking? That remains to be seen–greening has a big future ahead, and it’s going to be a great ride.