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17 posts from September 2006

September 03, 2006

Fast Fact

According to Consumer Reports, prerinsing your dishes wastes up to 20 gallons of water per load--and doesn't get them any cleaner.

No Goods

In one Simpsons episode, Homer loads up his pink sedan with "car appliances" (including a karaoke machine, coffee pot, and deep fryer) and gets so distracted that he drives off a pier. Ford engineers apparently missed that show. The company's latest innovation is a Web-enabled mobile office (complete with handheld computer, printer, digital camera, and credit-card scanner) that runs off a truck's battery. Though Ford claims it's intended "to replace either a laptop or desktop," it's a rare American who uses the release of a new gizmo as an opportunity to downsize.

* * *

Hate doing laundry? The makers of OneDerWear have a solution for you: Throw away your dirty clothes. The company touts its lightweight disposable cotton socks and underwear as ideal for travelers, military troops, "college students and their busy lifestyles," maternity patients, and--perhaps most disturbing--hikers and campers: "You don't have to use limited backpack space with repacking dirty underwear ... just wear and toss." In one of those conveniently located wilderness trash cans, no doubt.

September 02, 2006

Dam Art

Newly Displaced PopulationBuilding the Three Gorges Dam across China's Yangtze River will displace 1.9 million people and destroy habitat for endangered species, consequences painter Liu Xiaodong depicts in monumental canvases recently shown at San Francisco's Asian Art Museum. In Newly Displaced Population (above), a duck twists in midair death throes, children play violently, and prostitutes solicit clients. Behind them, deceptively calm water rises. --Alison Fromme

(Photograph courtesy of the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco)


Anheuser-Busch is test-marketing an organic beer dubbed Wild Hop, the first from a mega-brewer. * Wal-Mart, the biggest grocery chain in the United States, has doubled the amount of organic food it carries and promises it will soon sell only wild-caught fish from sustainable fisheries. * The city of Visalia, California, is building two police substations out of bales of straw, a natural insulating material that can cut energy costs in half. * "Eco-tourism" is the "buzzword of the year," according to the New York Times, which notes that 38 percent of U.S. travelers would pay more for a greener trip. * The California-based Ghirardelli Chocolate Company has saved $1 million a year since improving its energy efficiency and reducing packaging waste. * Every month, Willamette Valley Vineyards in Oregon offers up to 50 free gallons of a cleaner-burning biodiesel mix (made of waste from local restaurants and the nearby Kettle Chips factory) to its employees, who can fill up their cars right at the winery. * Historic landmarks on both U.S. coasts are going green: The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are now powered partly by wind energy, while hybrid ferries to Alcatraz Island, in San Francisco Bay, are in the works. * The University of California at Berkeley will open certified organic salad bars in its four campus dining halls by spring 2007.

September 01, 2006

In the Bag

Vy and Elle messenger bagFashion is a funny thing: Trendsetters are revered, but if too many people follow their lead, their style becomes decidedly untrendy. Avoid catching the wave too late by opting for something truly unique--say, a dumpster-chic purse. Messenger bags made of old vinyl billboards (vyandelle.com), handbags woven out of candy wrappers (ecoist.com) or formed from old books (rebound-designs.com), plastic-bag purses (ecochicinc.com), and duct-tape totes (mimimarie-sf.com) are just a few of the handcrafted creations available. Want to get a jump on the next trend? Place an order now for a solar handbag (solarjo.com) that can recharge your cell phone.
Ecoist handbag Rebound bag EcoChic purse MiMi Marie bag   

(Top photograph and below, from left, second, third, and fourth photos by Lori Eanes; below, first photo, courtesy of Ecoist)

Good Eats

Campfire CuisineSleeping under the stars doesn't have to mean eating meals from a plastic packet. Robin Donovan's new cookbook, Campfire Cuisine (Quirk Books), provides all the advice on menu planning, packing, and food storage--and, of course, recipes--you'll need to get gourmet results in the great outdoors. This recipe is meant to be grilled over a fire pit; others will work just fine on a portable stove. For more excerpts, camping tips, and other information, visit gourmetsgonewild.com.

Fish Cooked With Curried Couscous
2/3 cup uncooked couscous
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup raisins
2 teaspoons curry power
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
11/2 cups chicken broth (water may be substituted)
olive oil or nonstick cooking spray
4 6-ounce fillets of firm fish
1/2 stick butter, cut into pieces

Mix the couscous, green onions, almonds, raisins, curry powder, cayenne, and salt in a small bowl or pot until well combined. Stir in half the chicken broth. Prepare four squares of aluminum foil by spraying them with cooking oil. Place a quarter of the couscous mixture on each sheet of foil, top with one fish fillet and a piece of butter, and sprinkle with salt. Fold up the sides of the foil and pour a quarter of the remaining chicken broth into each pouch. Double-fold the top and sides of each packet, leaving room for heat and steam to circulate. Grill the packets for about 15 minutes, until the fish is cooked through and the couscous is tender. Serves four.

Mr. Green on Saving and Replacing Paper

Hey Mr Green In the September/October 2006 issue of Sierra, Mr. Green sounds off about getting rid of junk mail and giving hemp a chance.

Send your thoughts and questions directly to Mr. Green, or weigh in in the comments section.

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