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17 posts from September 2006

September 15, 2006

The Buzz

"If you care about human life, you have to care about the environment."

--actress Daryl Hannah, who was arrested in June while protesting the destruction of an urban farm in Los Angeles
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" Commuting to work by bike has renewed appeal right now. On top of health benefits—like offering a chance to exercise without taking extra time—it saves on the growing costs of fuel and even carries a certain cachet at the office."

--The Wall Street Journal, May 11, 2006
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"Since becoming a mom, I have become so green. I am making sure that all my stuff is organic, and I get rid of garbage in a green way. Actually, it is fun."

--Britney Spears, pop singer

September 05, 2006

Eat Your Lawn

Edible EstatesStan and Priti Cox had a typical suburban lawn--until Edible Estates replaced their Salina, Kansas, front yard with a garden of vegetables, herbs, and fruit trees (right). The project, the brainchild of Los Angeles architect Fritz Haeg, is transforming nine water-guzzling, herbicide-hungry lawns across the country into organic oases. With the results documented online, in booklets, and at gallery shows, it won't be just the neighbors who are trying to keep up with the Coxes. --Arnie Cooper

(Photograph by Fritz Haeg)

Light Lunch

All those juice boxes and snack packs pile up. Making lunches for school every day creates an average of 67 pounds of garbage per child--or more than 18,000 pounds per school--each year. To help stem the tide of trash, two California moms created Laptop Lunches, colorful bento-box-style containers with washable, reusable compartments for different foods. They estimate that eschewing disposable packaging and single-serving items can save families $250 a year. wastefreelunches.org

Fast Fact

The average U.S. college student spends more than $1,500 preparing for the new school year. Find green choices at shopbacktoschool.org.

Intoxicating and Illuminating

Bottle Lamps

These recycled-wine-bottle lamps were created by Jerry Kott, one of dozens of designers whose sustainably crafted home furnishings were showcased at the HauteGREEN exhibition during New York Design Week in May.

(Photographs by Jerry Kott)

September 04, 2006

Pop Corner

Are hybrid cars trendy enough to inspire a backlash? In July, the state of Virginia changed a law that had exempted drivers of the green vehicles from some carpool-lane rules, a perk officials say was "contributing to the eroding performance" on two local highways. Similar concerns were the subject of a CNN segment on "hybrid hate" that aired earlier this year. At least one of its star witnesses, a Cadillac Escalade driver who couldn't understand why his pricey ride didn't guarantee equivalent privileges, could have stepped out of a South Park episode.

"Smug Alert!" saw residents of the cartoon town snapping up hybrid "Piouses" and feeling good about themselves--until they learned they were creating toxic clouds of "smug" that could destroy their home. "Look, hybrid cars are important. They may even save our planet one day," a character explained. "What you all need to do is just learn to drive hybrids and not be smug about it." Though the townspeople weren't up to the challenge, environmentalists would rather fight smug than smog any day.

Media Lounge

Come on in and feed your mind

Code Green: Experiences of a LifetimeCODE GREEN
a book by Kerry Lorimer
Travel publisher Lonely Planet's first ecotourism guide has plenty of practical tips for socially and environmentally responsible adventurers. But the heart of this book is its daydream-inspiring descriptions of trips--from tracking tigers in India to learning to drum in West Africa to sea kayaking in Sydney Harbor--with minimal impact on the planet and maximum opportunity to connect with people and places.

a book by Robert E. Bieder
Revered as "ancestors" by Native peoples who hunted alongside them, bears were regarded as brutish menaces by European settlers and later romanticized, in the form of cuddly toys, as the real thing disappeared from the wild. That cycle, and what it may mean for the bear's survival, is richly detailed in this entry in the "Animal" series, a set of cultural histories of species from Ant to Whale.

Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear DisasterVOICES FROM CHERNOBYL
a book by Svetlana Alexievich
These harrowing first-person accounts from Chernobyl survivors--the widow of a fireman who responded to the meltdown without any protective gear, the soldiers who had to forcibly keep people from their irradiated homes and poisoned gardens--are not easy to read. But as the promise of nuclear power is being touted once again, their stories are an all-too-timely reminder of the possible perils.

Edens Lost and Found: How Ordinary Citizens are Restoring Our Great American CitiesEDENS LOST & FOUND
a multimedia project
The ordinary Americans profiled in this PBS series, book, and Web site aren't just improving their own neighborhoods by building parks, cleaning up rivers, and installing public art. With urban populations soaring, their work to enhance the quality of life in cities has global implications. Inspiring examples from Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Seattle show how people can rediscover the natural attributes that made their cities desirable to settle in the first place. edenslostandfound.org
Singlecircle_burgundy_whitearrow_4 Let's Talk: Discuss this selection with your friends and neighbors.

When the Rivers Run Dry: Water--The Defining Crisis of the Twenty-First CenturyWHEN THE RIVERS RUN DRY
a book by Fred Pearce
Many explorers have sought to discover where rivers begin; journalist Fred Pearce treks around the world to see where and how they end. His stark documentation of our attempts to control water supplies--which have sparked conflicts, changed cultures, and destroyed communities--is leavened with some hopeful efforts to sustainably manage the ultimate renewable resource.

(Code Green photo courtesy of Lonely Planet)

Fast Fact

If every U.S. household replaced one roll of regular paper towels with 100 percent recycled ones, we'd save 544,000 trees. nrdc.org/land/forests/gtissue.asp

September 03, 2006


John PerryJohn Perry, age 42
Founding member,

the Compact

When John Perry and a few San Francisco friends created the Compact, a yearlong agreement not to buy anything new, they were just trying to take a personal stand against rampant consumption and waste. But as news of their idea spread, it drew more than a thousand participants worldwide--and some angry critics. Read about members' strategies and exemptions for essentials like food at groups.yahoo.com/group/thecompact.

Q: What do you make of the backlash you've received?

A: We've been told shopping is patriotic. Part of the promise of success in America is that you can buy lots of stuff.

Q: What's been hardest about living by the Compact?

A: I was a recreational shopper, especially in thrift stores. So it's been challenging to think about what I need instead of just shifting my consumption habits to secondhand goods.

Q: How has your family's daily life changed as a result?

A: We have more time and money to spend hiking, taking classes, going to performances, and eating with friends. Life gets richer and more oriented toward experiences.

(Photograph by Chris Sommers)

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10/29/07 UPDATE: Other Compacters share their experiences, after the jump...

Continue reading "Trendsetter " »

Fast Fact

In a 2004 survey, one-third of Americans said greed and materialism are our most urgent moral problems.

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