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14 posts from April 2007

April 30, 2007

Tooting Our Own Horn

Jf06cover_2Sierra's January/February 2006 cover story, "Photography of Hope," featuring the black and white imagery of Sebastiao Salgado, won two Maggie awards this weekend--for "Best Black & White or Two-Color Editorial Layout" and "Best Series of Editorial Photographs"--from the Western Publications Association.

Read All About It

A roundup of news worth noting from the past month or so:

* Jo Hanson, the founder of San Francisco's trendsetting "art at the dump" program, passed away.

* A tote bag with an environmental message became a fashion must-have.

* A group of locavores tried to eat local on a budget.
* Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck announced a new green direction for his restaurants, including serving more organic and local produce, seafood from sustainable fisheries, and more humanely raised meat.
* London eco-eatery the Acorn House was named "Best Newcomer" in the annual Observer Food Monthly Awards.
* British researchers showed that organic food is better for you.
* Organic and natural pet foods got a boost from the big recall of tainted chow.

* Big Picture TV, a free web-based video channel focused on environmental issues, launched with commentary from Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Jane Goodall, Eric Schlosser, and Wangari Maathai.

* New York City broke ground on a lofty park that will span the High Line, 1.5 miles of abandoned freight-train track on the West Side of Manhattan.

* A green taxi service--operating only hybrid and alternative-fuel vehicles--started up in San Francisco.

April 27, 2007

The Buzz

"Today big companies and activists are at least as apt to hammer out a partnership over a cup of sustainably grown coffee as to confront one another in court.... Why? For one thing, because there is money to be made."

--Fortune, April 2
* * *

"If 'Wall Street' were made today, Gordon Gekko might be a television executive who would shrewdly say: 'Green is good.'"

--The Los Angeles Times, April 23

April 26, 2007

Building Better

Imagine a workplace that provides natural light and views for every employee--not just those in the corner offices--collects and cleans water for reuse, sits alongside a restored wetland, and uses up to 55 Aiawinner_2percent less energy than a conventional building.

Employees with the nonprofit world-hunger organization Heifer International don't have to imagine it--they work in it every day. Their new 94,000-square-foot Little Rock, Arkansas, campus (pictured) was named one of the "Top Ten Green Projects" of 2007 by the American Institute of Architects. The list released this week also includes a low-energy research laboratory in Stanford, California; a Washington, DC, middle school ventilated by solar chimneys; and a Willingboro, New Jersey, public library that reuses the steel frame and concrete foundations of the Woolworth's store that originally occupied its site.

April 24, 2007

Soda's Redeeming Quality

If you live in California, you've just got a few days left to turn your used 20-oz. soda bottles into a little cash for the California State Parks Foundation. Until the end of April, the plastic bottles can be dropped off at any Orchard Supply Hardware store in the state and our friends over at TerraCycle will pick them up as part of their Bottle Brigade recycling program. TerraCycle will reuse the bottles to package their ecofriendly plant foods and fertilizers--and donate a nickel per bottle to the parks program. Too bad keeping the bottles out of the landfill won't keep the soda from rotting your teeth.

April 19, 2007

Bring In Those Batteries

According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), a single car battery contains about 21 Batteryrounduplogopounds of lead, three pounds of plastic, and one gallon of sulfuric acid--all of which can be recycled. From now until Earth Day (April 22), the motoring club is offering free recycling of old car, motorcycle, and boat batteries at various drop-off locations. Sites in California, Nevada, and Utah can be found at batteryroundup.com, while residents of other states can contact their local AAA chapter to find out where to go.

April 18, 2007

Lights, Camera, (Energy) Action!

FilmfestmosaicLove movies? Looking for something entertaining (and enlightening) to do this weekend? Many Sierra Club chapters and other groups are hosting Energy Film Festivals as part of their Earth Day celebrations--with the cinematic events continuing throughout the year. I've already seen a number of the selections, including The Appalachians, Being Caribou, and Homeland, and they were all fascinating. So grab some popcorn and get ready to get fired up about sustainable energy.

April 17, 2007

Going Green at Work, Part II

According to a recent poll commissioned by staffing agency Adecco, "52 percent of employed adults think their company should do more to be environmentally friendly." I also received word this week from an email-archiving company promoting its services as a way to save trees. This growing interest in going green at work was certainly reflected in the great response to our green-office tips, which are now available in pdf form for easier distribution. Check 'em out and spread the word!

April 16, 2007

Share Your Solutions

Have you joined a car-share program? Hung your laundry out to dry on a clothesline? Started riding 2percentlogoyour bike on short trips (or all the way to work)? Set up a community recycling effort? Switched from air conditioning to a fan?

Inspire others with your actions to curb carbon emissions by taking a photo of your small (or big!) step and uploading it to the Sierra Club's Every Day Solutions site. If you're fresh out of green ideas, check out what other folks are already doing.

April 14, 2007

Composting 101:
Hooray for the Black, Brown, and Green

Compost_handsIt's a bit of gardening wisdom that if you feed the soil, the soil will feed the plants. And one of the best ways to feed your soil--and reduce waste sent to landfills--is with compost, which you can use as a mulch layer at the start of the season, or dig into existing garden beds to improve the soil throughout the year. Although you can buy (or make) all sorts of snazzy compost bins, you can also brew up a batch in a regular old wooden box, a large pile, or even a hole in the ground. Here's how to get started:

  • First, know that a healthy compost pile requires a mix of dry, carbon-rich "brown" items (e.g. dry leaves and grasses, newspaper, dead plant clippings, wood branches, hay, straw, sawdust, and pine needles) and wet, nitrogen-rich "green" items (e.g. grass clippings, food scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, and fresh leaves).
  • Be sure not to put any meat scraps, fats, or animal or human waste into your compost.
  • Put branches and other large material at the bottom to allow air to come in at the base.
  • Alternate layers: six inches of brown materials, two to four inches of green materials, repeated as necessary. Your pile should be at least 3 feet square to generate enough heat, but no higher than 5 feet or the pressure of the materials' weight will push the air needed for decomposition out.
  • Keep the pile moist, but not soggy, by dampening each layer as you add it in.
  • Cover the pile with lots of dirt or the close lid if you're using a bin or box.
  • Check your compost every other week to aerate it (keep air coming in by turning it or mixing it up), moisten it, and monitor its progress.
  • Bury new food scraps inside the pile periodically to get the maximum microbial action going.
  • If your compost starts to smell bad, add more dry browns, mix them in, and fluff it up.
  • If nothing's happening, add water and wet greens as necessary, then fluff it up.
  • When your compost is black and earthy-smelling, it's done! Time for your garden to repeat the rewards.

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