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40 posts from May 2008

May 20, 2008

Bike Sharing Comes to America

A new bicycle sharing program in Washington DC provides subscribers with convenient, green rides. An annual $40 membership fee entitles SmartBike DC subscribers access to three hour blocks of emissions-free travel. Bikes are obtained by card-swipe at self-service rental kiosks located throughout the central business district and returns are monitored by an electronic system. Similar programs have been successful in Europe; this is the first program of its kind in the United States.


Sources:  International Herald Tribune, Inhabitat, SmartBike DC

May 19, 2008

Green Tip: Clean Your (Smaller) Plate

Americans churn out 30 million tons of food waste per year, reports The New York Times in a recent article. That wasted food often ends up in landfills, producing methane--a greenhouse gas--as it decomposes. How can you reduce your food footprint without increasing your waistline?  Dish out smaller portions (a good trick for keeping portion size in check is to use smaller plates) and save your leftovers for a second meal. When you're eating at a restaurant, stick to tapas, or appetizers, and skip the main course. If modest portions aren't available, split an entree with a friend or bring your own carryout container to avoid plastic and styrofoam. For more tips, visit wastedfood.com.


Sources:  New York Times, Wasted Food

Mr. Green Hits the Screen

Sierra magazine's advice columnist, Mr. Green, is now a television star! Bob Schildgen invites viewers to his house for a peek inside the life of an answer guru. To check out his green backyard or to learn about his process for answering questions, watch the interview that recently aired on San Francisco's Your TV20. Find the answers to your green living questions on Mr. Green's blog.

Gym Rat

Do you enjoy working out at home? How about turning that sweat into electricity?

Adam Boesel has created a gym in Seattle that does exactly that. Boesel attached wind-generated motors to the spinning bikes in the gym and uses the electricity generated to power the gym's sounds system.

Apartment Therapy has taken this idea one step further, and has some ideas on how to take your home gym off the grid!

-- C.N


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May 16, 2008

Media Lounge

A book by Edgar Martins
Dramatic images of “un-photographable” locations—from dark beaches and burning forests, to highway barriers and airport runways—captivate in Edgar Martins’s recent collection. Without any digital manipulation, Martins manages to make the familiar appear alien, re-introducing a standard public beach scene as an absurdly artful moonscape, or forcing viewers to admit the reluctant awe conjured by a glittering, hellish fire. Images of ice and rock formations in Iceland use the earth’s horizon as an anchor—a constant line reminding the viewer that these ghostly, otherworldly landscapes are, ultimately, portraits of home.1506601 --D.W.

Images copyright Edgar Martins from Edgar Martins:  Topologies (Aperture, 2008)


Endangered Species Day

Hawaiianmonkseal_2 Part celebration of recovering species, part rallying cry to protect those in peril, today marks the third annual Endangered Species Day. Want to observe the occasion? You have your pick of more than 90 events at parks, wildlife refuges, libraries, aquariums, museums and zoos in 31 states today and over the weekend--film festivals for artsy types, lectures for wonks, and something for everyone in between.

In all, the Endangered Species Coalition expects thousands of people to join in the activities. With any luck, those who attend will find ways to shake the common feeling of helplessness described by Emerald City blogger Siel (of the LA Times):

I know many environmentalists sometimes get overwhelmed by the magnitude of environmental problems we have in the world. Usually I manage OK, but when I get to thinking about endangered species, I feel a sense of helplessness that lies somewhere between depression and repression.

As a solution, Siel proposes to try focusing on one species at a time. (One option: the Hawaiian monk seal, above) Do you have other ideas? Let us know how you're trying to make a difference.

Movie Review Friday -- The Real Dirt on Farmer John

Escape to the movies with one of our "Film Fridays" selections. Each week we'll feature a movie review 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!

The Real Dirt on Farmer John

This is a fascinating movie about a family farmer who lost his land in the great farm crisis of the early '80's and has redeemed himself by regaining much of his land and becoming a biodynamic vegetable  farmer following the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) model. Angelic Organics is now one of the country's largest CSA's.  What makes the movie particularly fascinating is that John Peterson is a  writer/poet/philosopher as well as being a farmer.  This movie is really eye opening, entertaining and uplifting and has won numerous awards.  It has been endorsed by Al Gore and Alice Waters!

--Submitted by Green Life Reader Lali Watt

May 15, 2008

Polar Bears Protected . . . Sort Of

Polar_bear_istock_000004462508xsmal The U.S. Department of the Interior secretary Dirk Kempthorne announced on May 14 that the polar bear will be listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, acknowledging that melting Arctic sea ice constitutes an ongoing threat to the bears' habitat. While the listing should provide the bears with some protection, it comes with baggage--namely the caveat that oil drilling will be permitted within polar bear habitats, under a proposed 4(d) rule. Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope sees the announcement as an empty gesture, explaining in a released statement that “allowing destructive energy development in polar bear habitat is akin to diagnosing someone with lung cancer and then handing them a lit cigarette. There is no environmentally-sound way to drill in polar bear habitat.” The proposed rule is available online for a 60 day public comment period, so be sure to let Kempthorne know how you feel about oil drilling in bear country. Find out more about how you can help the Sierra Club chill the drills here.


Sources:  U.S. Department of the Interior, Sierra Club

As Easy as Email

Want to make a difference while you're checking your email?

The i’m Initiative is a program that uses Windows Live Messenger and Windows Live Hotmail to connect people with 10 of the world’s most effective organizations dedicated to social causes (including the Sierra Club). Every time you send a message using Windows Live Messenger or Windows Live Hotmail, after you join the i’m Initiative, Microsoft shares a portion of the program’s advertising revenue with the organization of your choice. To join the i’m Initiative, simply follow the instructions at http://im.live.com, click on Sierra Club as the cause you want to support, and start becoming part of the solution.

So what are you waiting for?   With just a few simple clicks of your mouse, you can make sure that the environment benefits each time you read your email.

And if you're already a Hotmail user, you can click here and bypass the sign-up process.

Receive these Tips in your inbox Monday through Friday by signing up here.

May 14, 2008

Earth on the Brain: From Apathy to Obsession

Globehead People in wealthy, carbon-spewing countries tend to express less concern over global warming than their counterparts in countries with smaller carbon footprints, according to an online study of 46 countries conducted at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. The United States ranks among the most eco-apathetic, with the Netherlands taking the number one position.

That apathy is not for lack of knowledge. A Havas media survey finds that Americans have the greatest understanding of global warming. In fact, Americans are increasingly feeling the strain of what some journalists are calling eco-overload. Bombarded with an onslaught of eco-awareness, a growing number of people are experiencing feelings of green guilt, green fatigue, and eco-anxiety. New terms like orthorexia (obsession with food quality) and nature deficit disorder (behavioral problems resulting from a lack of interaction with nature) have entered the cultural lexicon.

Is there a cure for eco-neurosis? Some Californians are turning to eco-therapy, while other Americans ease their minds by confessing eco-sins online.

--Della Watson

Sources:  AlphaGalileo, Chicago Tribune, Psychology Today, Salon.com, ForecastEarth, Treehugger, San Francisco Magazine

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