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25 posts from November 2006

November 15, 2006

Rah-Rah, Recycling

Okay, so it's no Halloween or New Year’s Eve, but since I'm a firm believer in the any-excuse-for-a-holiday philosophy, happy America Recycles Day!

Americarecyclesday_logo_2006_1While I'm sure Green Life readers are already recycling regularly (you are, aren't you?), advanced recyclers can still get in the spirit of things by figuring out how to handle something a little trickier than bottles or cans--say, batteries or computer equipment or cell phones or old fluorescent bulbs--or by brushing up on some handy recycling facts to help you convince the skeptics in your life. (Don't feel bad, we've all got 'em.)

Of course, recycling materials is only part of the solution--buying recycled products is just as important. And when they're this beautiful, clever, and inspiring, there’s really no reason to buy new.

November 13, 2006

Many Shades of Green

SF Green FestivalThe three-day Green Festival in San Francisco was packed to the gills this weekend, with some 30,000 attendees jostling to look at the hundreds of exhibitors' booths (especially if they were dishing out free samples of organic chocolate, yogurt, macaroni and cheese, or, really, anything else to eat).

It was great to see so much excitement about ecofriendly living, and great to see stylish clothing and homewares, clever techie gadgets, and regular Joes and Janes outnumbering the flowing tunics, aura handbooks, and members of the tie-dye set. Not that I don't love the hippie die-hards, but green solutions have to look, feel, and work great before more people will adopt them. As one of the hip vendors I spoke to described her company's internal motto, "Frumpy is not an option."

November 09, 2006


Rapper Jay-Z has filmed a documentary about the world water crisis in collaboration with the United Nations. Diary of Jay-Z: Water for Life is scheduled to air on MTV in late November. * Levi's fall line includes "Eco" jeans made with 100 percent organic cotton. * Project Runway, the Heidi Klum-hosted reality-TV hit, challenged last summer's contestants to make stylish garments out of materials from a New Jersey recycling facility. * Washington State University is offering the country's first major in organic agriculture. * Computer maker Dell recently began offering free recycling of its own products worldwide; rival Hewlett-Packard will recycle any brand of equipment for a fee.

November 08, 2006

10 Ways to Eat Well

Mr GreenMr. Green's food commandments in the November/December issue of Sierra are getting rave reviews from readers.

Check 'em out for yourself and find out how Thomas Jefferson lived to be 83 (a "pretty good run" for a stressed-out 19th-century guy) and why people in Crete have the longest life expectancy in the world. Hint: More greens, less greasy fast food.

November 07, 2006

Yahoo! for Cleaner Cars

2006 Honda Civic Hybrid Yahoo! Autos has launched a new site devoted to fuel-efficient and alternative-fuel cars (e.g. hybrids, biodiesel, ethanol, natural gas). The sleek-looking Green Center offers "Green Ratings" (developed with help from our pals at Environmental Defense) for more than 100 vehicles, information about different technologies, a gas-mileage impact calculator, links to discussion groups, and tips for moving up on a hybrid dealer’s waiting list.

I'm totally car-less (and a bit clueless about 'em too), so tell me what you think--is this site useful to you?

Pop Corner

In between comedian Jack Black's hosting antics and Shakira's shaking hips, MTV made time for a speech by Al Gore at its annual Video Music Awards. With the channel's audience sharing Gore's concern about global warming--81 percent of 13- to 24-year-olds surveyed say that action must be taken right away--MTV has launched a two-part Break the Addiction Challenge, including a 12-step program to reduce personal contributions to global warming and a contest for U.S. and Canadian campuses to switch to 100 percent green energy.

Pop Corner

Holiday film releases will include The Blood Diamond, a political thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio and set in Sierra Leone, where control of diamond exports fueled a bloody civil war in the 1990s. Though the industry has taken steps to keep "conflict diamonds" off the market, some companies are trying to address human-rights and environmental issues in other ways, such as by using diamonds from more strictly regulated Canadian mines (brilliantearth.com, cred.tv) or creating gem-quality synthetics (greenkarat.com).

November 06, 2006

Worth Every Penny?

Urban diners are willing to pay more for sustainably raised food, especially in the Northwest. According to San Francisco Chronicle food critic Michael Bauer, a recent Zagat survey showed the following percentages of respondents would "open their wallet[s] to support a principle":


  • 80% in Portland
  • 74% in San Francisco
  • 72% in Seattle
  • 63% in Los Angeles
  • 58% in New York
  • 55% in St. Louis

Of course, Bauer notes, "this survey was conducted on diners who fill out forms for Zagat, so they are arguably more sophisticated and affluent than the rest of the population.... [but] trends that begin in fine dining establishments eventually infiltrate to the mass market."

"Eventually" seems conservative when you consider how enthusiastically Wal-Mart has hopped on the organic bandwagon, but the company isn’t counting on buyers to pony up, pledging to shrink the price premium on its organic products. What do you think--should organic always cost more?

Media Lounge

Get the latest dish on food

Smnd06_gl_future_1THE FUTURE OF FOOD
a film by Deborah Koons Garcia
First our food system was industrialized in the fields; now it's happening at the cellular level. This wide-ranging documentary on genetic engineering touches on many controversies--health concerns, "suicidal" seeds, patenting life--but is most convincing (and outraging) when showing how corporations have waged war on the farmers whose fields were accidentally contaminated by genetically modified crops. thefutureoffood.com

a book by Nicola Smith
Before starting their own small organic farm, Jennifer Megyesi and Kyle Jones held the same romantic notions about rural life as many other Americans. Nicola Smith's intimate account follows the couple over the course of a year as they test their ideals against the realities--both dramatic (bad seasons, birth and death) and mundane (putting up fences, doing paperwork)--of making a life and livelihood on the land.

a book by G. Bruce Knecht
In a globalized world, the food on your plate may connect you to some surprising people and places--especially if it's Chilean sea bass. This once-obscure fish became so popular in the '90s that it's now dangerously (and often illegally) overfished. G. Bruce Knecht intertwines the tale of that culinary calamity with a sympathetic look at both the poachers and government patrols who battle over the fish amid howling winds and 45-foot waves.

a book by Michael Pollan
"Organic" and "free range" labels make food sound like it came right off Old MacDonald's Farm. But nowadays organic eats are more likely to be grown by a distant corporate operation than a local family. Michael Pollan traces two meals back to each of those sources--and compares them to one at McDonald's and one he hunts and gathers himself. His findings lend new meaning to the question "What's for dinner?" --Bruce Hamilton

Singlecircle_burgundy_whitearrow_5Let's Talk: Discuss this selection with your friends and neighbors.

a book series
From hot dogs to haute cuisine, any kind of food can be "slow," a term that refers to an international movement that incorporates sustainable ingredients and preserves regional traditions. These lively guides to (so far) Chicago, New York City, and San Francisco identify the local restaurants, bars, and markets whose fresh, distinctive food and drink encourage you to linger. slowfoodusa.org

November 03, 2006

Fast Fact

Airlines burned an extra 350 million gallons of fuel in 2000 due to U.S. passengers' increasing average weight over the past decade.

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