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7 posts from February 2007

February 25, 2007

Roll Out the Green Carpet

79aa_poster_domestic_1_1The Oscar statuette may glimmer with gold, but this year's nominees are looking pretty green. Tinseltown treehugger Leonardo DiCaprio is up for a best actor award for his role in Blood Diamond, a socially conscious flick that netted five nominations. Top nominees Penelope Cruz, Forest Whittaker, and Ryan Gosling will join DiCaprio in arriving at the ceremony in eco-friendly vehicles, and Al Gore's global warming call-to-arms, An Inconvenient Truth, is nominated for best documentary (and best original song). Get ready for tonight's main event by listening to Sierra Club Radio's interview with Truth director Davis Guggenheim.

February 24, 2007

The Dirt on Dry Cleaning

Get this: dry cleaning isn’t really dry. Nope, we’re not pulling your (dry-clean-only trouser) leg. Although no water is involved in the process (hence the name), liquid solvents are, and the main one, perchloroethylene, is nasty stuff. Better known as perc, it’s a likely carcinogen linked to a host of other health problems that also contaminates our soil and water.

Greener alternatives include wet cleaning (a kind of high-tech version of hand-washing) and liquid-CO2 dry cleaning.

Of course, the simplest (and probably cheapest) solution is to avoid clothes that require dry cleaning in the first place. These days, there are even machine-washable suits (look for ones that haven't been treated with wrinkle- or stain-repellents, which often use formaldehyde). And many cotton, linen, and silk clothes can be safely hand-washed in cold water even if they say "dry-clean-only."

February 17, 2007

Organic on the Cheap

Here at Sierra, we often get letters from readers who say they can't afford to eat organically. Fortunately, you don't have to buy organic versions of every single food item to make a difference for your health and the planet.

Ewg_produce_guideThe Environmental Working Group in DC has done a great job figuring out which fruits and vegetables are most and least contaminated with pesticides—and they even offer their findings on a wallet-sized card that you can download. If you're on a tight budget, make sure you at least buy the most contaminated items organically.

Since all produce is not created equal when it comes to pesticides, eating a wide variety of foods can also help you reduce your exposure to dangerous chemicals. This is all especially important for kids, since their growing bodies are more susceptible to toxic exposures.

According to Mission Organic 2010, if everyone in the country increased their organic consumption to just 10 percent of their diet, it would restore more than 6 billion pounds of carbon to our soil, and eliminate more than 2 million pounds of antibiotics used in livestock and more than 2 billion barrels of imported oil annually, not to mention significantly cleaning up our drinking water. Who says little changes can't have a big impact?

February 14, 2007

Pop Corner

The sea-lovers over at Oceana, who've partnered with Organic Bouquet for today's holiday, report that "Christina Aguilera recently gave Ellen DeGeneres one dozen of the 'world's tallest roses' on her talk show. The six-feet tall roses are shipped from Ecuador and are sold exclusively through Organic Bouquet." We always knew there was something we liked about that not-so-Dirrty girl...

February 13, 2007

Beauty You Don’t Have to Work At

safecosmetics.orgThe latest beauty trend is environmentally fashionable too: using fewer cosmetics. The New York Times reported last month on a "back-to-basics movement among dermatologists," exemplified by Dr. Fran E. Cook-Bolden in Manhattan, who advised, "Just two products, a gentle cleanser and a good sunscreen, are enough daily skin care for most people, and you can buy those at a drugstore or a grocery store."

This "skin-care minimalism" is good for the environment as well as consumers' health, since the ingredients in cosmetic products often include potentially toxic substances like mercury, lead acetate, formaldehyde, coal tar, and phthalates. It saves money too: why invest in exfoliation beads or a microdermabrasion system when, as Dr. Cook-Bolden recommends, you can clean up dead skin cells just as well with a washcloth?

Cheap, healthy, and mild on the planet: now that's a regime that’s easy to find beautiful.

For more on the environmental impacts of personal-care products, check out the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and "Skin Deep," an Environmental Working Group report on popular brands.

February 08, 2007

Clean, Green Machines

In the market for a new car? Then you might want to check out "The Greenest Vehicles of 2007," a list released this week by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. The top scorers:

  1. Honda Civic GX
  2. Toyota Prius
  3. Honda Civic Hybrid
  4. Nissan Altima Hybrid
  5. Toyota Yaris
  6. Toyota Corolla
  7. Toyota Camry Hybrid
  8. Honda Fit
  9. Kia Rio / Rio 5
  10. Hyundai Accent
  11. Hyundai Elantra
  12. Honda Civic

The ACEEE also publishes a "Meanest Vehicles" list of unrepentant gas-guzzlers. Lincoln Navigator and Lamborghini Murcielago, we're looking at you...

February 06, 2007

5 Green Ideas We Love
for Valentine's Day

It's easy being green on Valentine's Day. Ecofriendly gifts are generally more creative and distinctive than traditional ones--and that little extra touch can be the most romantic gesture of all.

1. Wine and Dine 'Em...Organically
Treat your honey's tastebuds at a restaurant specializing in seasonal, regional cuisine. If you're too late to grab a coveted February 14 reservation, hit your local farmers' market and gather the ingredients for an intimate home-cooked meal or romantic picnic.

2. Rethink the Roses
Celebrate the many facets of your love with a rainbow of organic, biodynamic, or VerifFlora-certified flowers from a farmers' market, CSA, or natural-foods store. If you can't find any locally, try Organic Bouquet, Diamond Organics, California Organic Flowers, or other online purveyors of pesticide-free petals. (Check out "The Hidden Life of Cut Flowers" if you want to know what's wrong with the conventional variety.) Or give your sweetie a lasting reminder of your sentiments: a beautiful house plant. If your relationship's long-term future looks bright, think about growing your own bouquet next year.

3. Say It With (Sustainable) Sweets
With all the delicious organic and fair-trade chocolates out there, why give anything else? (If you want to spread the love to friends and coworkers, Global Exchange's Fair Trade Valentine’s Day Action Kit is a tasty way to get your message across.)

4. Look Behind the Shine
Vintage jewelry is a great choice for romantic souls who don't romanticize the environmental and human-rights problems associated with mining diamonds and gold. For a bold (and not necessarily bank-breaking) statement, consider a distinctive piece made from recycled metal, paper, or other repurposed materials.

5. Double Your Pleasure
Shared experiences bring lovers closer together, and a rustic weekend getaway, cooking or dancing classes, or tickets to a concert or play is a gift for you too.

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