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47 posts from July 2007

July 31, 2007

Sustainable Swells

The rich and famous don't have to give up their caviar dreams to go green. Roe from U.S.-farmed sturgeon and trout (below) are gaining cachet as an environmentally friendly alternative to overfished  beluga sturgeon. And where better to enjoy these delicacies than in a luxe living room at the Solaire, one of the energy-efficient, green-roofed highrises popping up in Lower Manhattan? As night falls, the eco-elite might don a couture coat made of recycled soda bottles and hop into an eye-catching all-electric car--perhaps a speedy Tango like the one actor George Clooney drives to the set (above). That's the beautiful people for you--always doing their part.

Daily Tip : July 31, 2007

Each year, Americans waste 3.5 billion hours and 5.6 billion gallons of fuel while they sit in traffic. Spend your commute reading and relaxing instead of cultivating road rage: Find mass transit near you at publictransportation.org/systems.

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July 30, 2007


Paris is joining Amsterdam in making bicycles available citywide for free or a small fee. * The city of San Francisco passed a ban on plastic shopping bags at large supermarkets and chain pharmacies, the first such law in the United States. * Outdoor-apparel company Patagonia has expanded its Polartec-fleece-recycling program to include products from other manufacturers. * HGTV gardening guru Paul Tukey is leading a campaign to convert more than one million acres of lawn to organic by 2010. * A film festival celebrating the bicycle is traveling to 15 cities around the world. * Tesco, the Wal-Mart of Britain, is selling energy-efficient lightbulbs at half price, while McDonald's is serving sustainably grown coffee at its 1,200 franchises in the United Kingdom and Ireland. * Canada became the second country, after Australia, to announce a ban on incandescent lightbulbs.

Daily Tip : July 30, 2007

A new coat of paint brightens up your home, but it can dirty the air too. The volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, that off-gas while you paint react with sunlight to form smog. Look for paints that meet the EPA’s “low-VOC” standards or, better yet, ones with the Green Seal label.

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July 28, 2007

Eating in the Outdoors

There's more to camp food than gorp and s'mores. And even though it sounds like a natural way to cook, in most places, ecofriendly campers shouldn't rely on campfires for preparing their meals. Before your next outdoor experience,

July 27, 2007

Media Lounge

Come on in and feed your mind

a book by Julia Whitty
Like Rachel Carson in a diving suit, Julia Whitty unveils secrets of the sea surrounding several rapidly submerging, reef-fringed South Pacific islands. Encounters underwater with vividly colored fish and onshore with locals dependent on the catch remind us that the coral reef, one of the planet's most diverse ecosystems, is a foundation of our food chain. "Reefs, we know, can survive without us," Whitty writes. "The opposite may not be true." --Rebecca Lawton

a book by Alisa Smith and J. B. MacKinnon
Deciding to minimize their environmental impact by eating only food produced within 100 miles of their Vancouver, British Columbia, apartment, Alisa Smith and J. B. MacKinnon abandoned sugar, flour, and Cheerios for a year. In return, they discovered the bounty beyond supermarket doors--organic blueberries growing next to a Buddhist temple, giant prawns caught off the B.C. coast, and sweet, starchy camas bulbs, lightly roasted. --Maria Trombetta

a Discovery Channel DVD set
From the pathos of a hungry polar bear unsuccessfully hunting a walrus--its last chance at a meal--to the exhilaration of an aerial view of the world's highest free-flowing waterfall, watching this 11-part documentary is like attending the most engrossing science class ever. Even the squeamish won't be able to turn away from footage of hundreds of thousands of cave-dwelling cockroaches feeding off a 300-foot mountain of bat excrement.

a book by Alan Weisman
If people disappeared from the face of the earth, wind and rain would eventually deconstruct our homes, but some of our plastics might linger for millennia. In imagining a humanless future, journalist Alan Weisman examines how nature has reclaimed places abandoned due to conflict or contamination, how other big mammals became extinct, and how we have evolved--and speculates on who or what might come next.

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

a film by Jennifer Baichwal
Photographer Edward Burtynsky travels the world to capture humanity's biggest impacts on the land--including massive mines, dams, and ship-scrapping sites--in images whose beauty rivals their subjects' brutality. This artful documentary takes viewers behind the scenes (panning through endless, identical rows of machinery in a Chinese factory, for instance) and reveals the lives of people displaced by or virtually enslaved to the industrial landscape.

Daily Tip : July 27, 2007

We use way too much fossil fuel shipping bottled water and soft drinks. I purchased several filter pitchers and switched to reusable stainless steel water bottles instead of buying bottled water. Now, instead of taking fizzy waters or sodas to work for lunch, I bring iced tea made in a reusable bottle. Not only am I cutting my carbon footprint, I'm also saving myself from unhealthy carbonation and sugar.
-- Submitted by Valerie Sherron

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Trashy Fashion

If you live near Brooklyn and you're into refashioned fashion--and really, who isn't?--you gotta check out tonight's trunk show of "art and apparel from recycled materials" at Etsy Labs, the bricks-and-mortar (does anyone say that anymore?) HQ for the cool crafters selling on Etsy.com. I just read about their Trashion_2 "Trashion" show on Treehugger and would be there in a hot minute if I didn't live 2,000 miles away.

What, exactly, is Trashion, you ask? Take this library-card paper-flower necklace (pictured). "This triple flower choker necklace is made from discarded library due date cards," says its creator, Miggi. "They are laminated and cut into flower shapes, and then vintage buttons and sequins are sewn in the center. The chain comes from a broken vintage chain belt. Everything about this necklace is upcycled and reused EXCEPT the toggle clasp, which is new." Call it low-impact design that makes a big impression.

July 26, 2007

Fast Fact

In 2006, Americans took 10.1 billion trips on public transit, the highest total in almost 50 years. Find local options at publictransportation.org/systems.

Green Biz

To many drinkers, green beer means adding a few drops of food coloring to a St. Patrick's Day pint. But for a growing number of brewers--micro- and major--ecofriendly brewing is a year-round obsession.

In Chico, California, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company is installing solar panels that, along with hydrogen fuel cells already in use, will generate 75 percent of the company's electricity--and heat for the brewing process.

The New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins, Colorado, captures methane gas released while treating wastewater and uses it to produce 10 percent of the brewery's power--trimming $18,000 off its 2006 energy bills. Along with running its local delivery trucks on biodiesel and awarding bicycles to its workers on their first anniversary, New Belgium was the first U.S. brewer to buy wind power for all its needs.

In pursuit of producing zero waste, the Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland shares its spent grains with an artisan baker (who makes cracked-barley beer bread and pretzels from them) and a local farmer who uses them as a substrate for growing organic mushrooms. Leftover veggie oil from the brewpub fuels the Fatty Wagon, a shuttle bus that carts patrons to baseball games. And in winter, the owners shut down the refrigerator and blow in cold air to keep the beer chilled. All that effort hasn't hurt the bottom line, either: Business was up 30 percent last year. --Andrew Becker

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