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55 posts from April 2008

April 25, 2008

You Think Saving the Planet Is Funny?

Smmj08_gl_subaru

Finger-Lickin' Good Exhaust

Doug Fine grew up on Domino’s Pizza in New York City’s suburbs, traveled the world as a journalist, and at age 36 plopped down on a ragged New Mexico ranch to live more environmentally. That meant raising much of his own food, cutting back on electricity, and ditching his beloved Subaru for a truck that runs on vegetable oil. This excerpt from his new book, Farewell, My Subaru, follows his efforts to find sources of alternative fuel.

I never imagined waste oil would be such a scarce commodity--not when you consider that the default ingredient in the "diabetes capital of the world" is essentially grease. Traditional New Mexican food is delicious specifically because it is 39 variations of fried corn. This is a cuisine so greasy that the primary protein source for generations has been refried beans.

Continue reading "You Think Saving the Planet Is Funny?" »

Movie Friday -- Koyaanisqatsi

Escape to the movies with one of our "Film Fridays" selections. Each week we'll feature a movie with environmentally or socially responsible themes that’s currently in theaters or available on DVD.

Seen a good eco-flick lately? Send us a review of 100 words or less and look for your review in the next Movie Friday!

Koyaanisqatsi
http://www.koyaanisqatsi.org/films/koyaanisqatsi.php

In the same way that Rachel Carson's Silent Spring helped book readers learn about our impact on the environment in ways most people wouldn't realize or notice, Koyaanisqatsi did that in the movie world! Not only does the movie show how our choices impact others and the environment, it gives a glimpse at how consumption, population, and technology growth are affecting us and will continue to affect us.

--Review by Green Life Reader Matt Mercure

April 24, 2008

The Buzz

I highly recommend sharing a bath, hitting yourself on the head with a ladle if you need to boil the kettle twice, and turning your heating down by 2 degrees."
-- Rock star KT Tunstall on the little things music fans can do for the planet

Grapevine

China's new ban on plastic bags goes into effect on June 1. The law could save 37 million barrels of crude oil each year. * A power system planned for Sweden's Stockholm Central Station will capture body heat generated by the traveling masses and use it to heat water that warms a nearby 13-story building. * Walking has new power, thanks to a high-tech knee brace that produces enough electricity to juice ten cell phones. --Lea Hartog

What Are You Wearing Under That Hemp Dress?

If you’ve already stocked your closet with organic, eco-friendly clothing, but you’re still wearing the same old boring underwear, we’ve got a novel solution: By Nature has a line of underwear made from trees. The fabric, called Lenpur, is created from cultivated pine tree branches. The creators of Lenpur claim their process coincides with natural pruning and that no deforestation occurs. The line of lingerie, designed by Sophie Young, is supposedly soft, anti-bacterial, biodegradable, and splinter-free!

Source:  Real Business

Not Yanking Your Chain

Gl_electricsaw We raise a leather-gloved hand in salute to Black & Decker. The company  has rolled out a battery-operated chainsaw and a line of electric tools, joining other manufacturers trying to trim pollution from yard work.

Perhaps one day the quieter electric saw will topple the gas-powered chainsaw, that ripsnorting icon so familiar to gardeners, lumberjacks, and fans of horror movies. The gas version has been filling the air with gray smoke--not to mention curses at failed pull chains--since it was invented in 1927.

Continue reading "Not Yanking Your Chain " »

Schmooze or Lose

Gl_shmooze Green-business networking events are multiplying like investors chasing a hot stock. Among the eco-entrepreneur magnets: EcoTuesday, with four new branches from Seattle to Atlanta, and Green Drinks, which since early 2007 has tripled in size to more than 355 chapters worldwide. Good ideas flow along with organic merlot at these get-togethers. One Green Drinks event in Nashville, Tennessee, sparked a partnership between a garden center and Vanderbilt University. Now the leaves of Vanderbilt's more than 7,500 trees, formerly landfilled, are enjoying a second life as compost. ecotuesday.com, greendrinks.org

Illustration by Mark Matcho; used with permission.

Foiled Again

Energy bars are convenient, sure, but what about the 800 million wrappers discarded each year? Now they and other selected junk can be sent to a company that's making big business out of household garbage. The plastic/foil composite wrappers, along with empty juice pouches, will be reincarnated as bags and backpacks on the shelves of Target. Next, old plastic yogurt containers will reappear at Home Depot as planter pots. The formula belongs to TerraCycle, which entices schools and others to collect castoffs in return for a charity donation, then refashions the items for sale in big-box stores. terracycle.net

Leap Year

Gl_02 Lions and sharks get all the crowds at animal parks--the ornate horned frog, not so much. That might change this year as zoos and aquariums open amphibian exhibits to aid in the creatures' very survival. Disappearing forests, rising temperatures, and a nasty fungus have precipitated a population crash among amphibians, prompting the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to fashion itself a Noah's ark and declare 2008 the "Year of the Frog." To find an exhibit near you, visit aza.org/yearofthefrog.

Photo by Newport Aquarium; used with permission.

Trendsetter

Jeff Robinson: Product coordinator, Free Geek

Every year about 500 tons of old and broken computers wind up at Free Geek, a recycling cooperative in Portland, Oregon. Hundreds of volunteers, from nerds to the needy, help reassemble the parts into working machines, and no wonder, since 24 hours of labor earns volunteers a free PC. Jeff Robinson, 33, is one of 14 members of the collective that runs Free Geek. Begun in 2000 in a living room, the enterprise now occupies a warehouse and has spawned nine other Free Geeks, from Arkansas to Vancouver, British Columbia. freegeek.org

Q: What's it like to work at Free Geek?

A: It's a crazy atmosphere. We have retirees who have had great jobs standing next to someone who's never used a computer before, helping each other out.

Q: What happens to the computers that come through your door?

A:Roughly 20 percent are immediately reusable, ready to rebuild or resell. The other 80 percent need to be recycled.

Q:Does an operation like this really make a difference?

A:Rather than have computers go to a landfill, last month we gave away 100 and sold 100, and they're going back into the community. The difference is environmental, economic, and educational.


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