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49 posts from July 2008

July 18, 2008

Movie Review Friday -- Surfwise

Escape to the movies with one of our Movie Friday selections. Each week we'll review a film 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 nine Paskowitz children--eight boys, one girl--grew up as nomads in a series of beat-up campers and RVs. And they surfed. As sport and as an adjunct part of their Jewish faith, because patriarch Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz, a Stanford-educated M.D. who introduced surfing to Israel, saw fusion with the ocean as a path to “wisdom” -- as opposed to “knowledge,” an inferior form of intelligence the children might easily have acquired if they’d been allowed to attend school.

Film maker Doug Pray’s new documentary Surfwise seduces viewers into the family’s seemingly blissful world of neo-primitive health and eco-consciousness. Pray rivets attention, however, by refusing to attach rosy filters to the camera lens as the family gradually reveals the dark complexities of attempting to live with such self-defined purity.

--Review by Bob Sipchen

Green Your Rafting Trip -- River Cleanup

Athabasca_falls America's rivers suffer all manner of degradation, including erosion, dams, trash, and pollution. To improve rivers close to home or on your next rafting trip, start with these three steps:

Get in the know. Read the EPA's River Restoration guidelines, which outline goals for restoring ecological integrity, natural function, and combating the causes of degradation

Go local. Check out the American Rivers National River Cleanup program for information about cleanups near you or help organizing a cleanup of your own on a local river.

Continue reading "Green Your Rafting Trip -- River Cleanup" »

July 17, 2008

20 Most Walkable Neighborhoods in the U.S.

View Larger Map Last week we mapped out the 10 U.S. neighborhoods where people spend the least money on car-related expenses. If that had you leaping for moving boxes, check out today's WalkScore.com report on the country's most walkable cities and neighborhoods. Not surprisingly, the cities with some of the most walkable neighborhoods (flagged in green, above--zoom in to see more) also have some of the least expensive neighborhoods for transit costs.

Continue reading "20 Most Walkable Neighborhoods in the U.S." »

Garbage Art and the Environment

Is garbage art the new environmental art? While the breathtaking natural sculptures of well-known environmental artists like Robert Smithson or Andy Goldsworthy certainly awe viewers, there's something refreshingly accessible about a polar bear that appears, at first glance, to be an ordinary piece of trash. "Air Bear" by Joshua Allen Harris is a garbage bag sculpture that inflates as passing subway cars provide a gush of air. Watching the bear go through cycles of "life" and "death" on a busy city street, we're reminded that real polar bears face a similar-but-not-so-charming fate, as global warming threatens their environment. Hopefully, artistic representations of wildlife won't be all that remains in the warmer future.

To help the protect the environment for polar bears, join the Sierra Club's Chill the Drills campaign


Sources:  Time, WebUrbanist, Green Museum, Treehugger

Penguins on the Peninsula

The four-foot-tall emperors of March of the Penguins fame have company in the struggle to survive on the Antarctic Peninsula. Researchers now report that tens of thousands of the more petite Adélie penguins are freezing to death in unseasonable rainstorms.

Adélie chicks--the little gray troublemakers in the video above--don't sprout water-repellent feathers until they're about 40 days old. Until then, they're likely to develop hypothermia if they get drenched. Living in a place where temperatures have risen more than 10 degrees Fahrenheit since 1950--about five times the global average--soaking wet is an increasingly common state for the birds.

Continue reading "Penguins on the Peninsula" »

July 16, 2008

Green Your Rafting Trip -- Protect Rivers

Thumbnail_2A rafting trip will be considerably less scenic if you're paddling through polluted water. Rain washes everything from lawn fertilizers to used motor oil into stormwater drains, which often empty into the nearest river, lake, or bay. To protect rivers, keep these five things out of the drain:

  • Phosphorus, found in fertilizer and detergent, contributes to algal blooms, which rob fish of oxygen. Green your lawn with low-maintenance, native plants to reduce your reliance on fertilizers. Check the weather forecast, and don't fertilize if rain is expected. The Organization for the Assabet River lists phosphate-free and low-phosphate detergents.

Continue reading "Green Your Rafting Trip -- Protect Rivers" »

Green Your Rafting Trip -- Choosing a Guide

Few experiences create a closer bond with nature than being manhandled by an icy wave beneath majestic peaks. With a good guide, you can run rapids far more challenging and fun than anything you could do on your own (and let someone else worry about equipment and other details).

Whether dealing with a local independent outfit or a national one like Outward Bound or the National Outdoor Leadership School, asking a few questions will help you find guides who share your environmental ethos and go well beyond minimum impact guidelines. These three will help get the conversation started:

  1. How do you manage waste? Recyclable materials can be separated from other solid waste during a trip for recycling back at the company’s warehouse.
  2. Where does your food come from? Organic, locally-grown, and bulk foods make for lower-impact snacks and meals than those shipped long distances or packaged individually.

Continue reading "Green Your Rafting Trip -- Choosing a Guide" »

July 15, 2008

Fun Environmental Puzzles

Crossword_building_istock_0000025_2Quick quiz:  Can you identify this image?

If you said, "It's a photo of a Miami office building after Hurricane Wilma," then you're correct. If you said, "It looks like a crossword puzzle," then you're thinking what we're thinking. To satisfy our playful side, we dug up five Web sites for green gamers.

Environment Canada has eco-oriented crossword puzzles. The Rare Species Conservatory has games for kids, including a crossword puzzle, a word jumble, and a word search. Think you're as smart as an astronaut? Try NASA's "What On Earth?" quiz. Fancy yourself a riddler? Check out these brain teasers and riddles from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Want to brush up on your green lingo? Live Science has a list of green terms to get you started.

Got a great green riddle? Please share!


July 14, 2008

Green Your Rafting Trip -- Getting There

Raft_and_rail_istock_000001027276xs You're floating the river in a reused raft--sounds pretty green so far. But how'd you get to that river? We've got a few suggestions to help you make it from your doorstep to the river bank with minimal environmental impact.

1. Go local:  If there are rivers in your area, start by rafting close to home. Eco-tourism doesn't have to take you across the globe.

2. Use public transportation:  Many outfitters have shuttle and bus services; ask your outfitter about the transportation options for your trip. For longer trips, skip the plane and embrace the train. The Los Angeles Times has the rundown on Amtrak, and Independent Traveler lists popular train routes.

3. Drive smarter:  If you must drive, rent a hybrid car. Both Avis and Hertz have added hybrids to their rental car fleets. You can rent a Prius directly from participating Toyota dealerships. Make the car trip greener by carpooling with friends or using rideshare.

4. Make it count: Even high-speed rafting enthusiasts can steal pointers from the slow travel movement. One long vacation is more carbon-friendly than jetting back and forth over a string of weekends. Make the most of your river rafting trip by visiting nearby towns and tourist attractions (save fuel by mapping out your side trips ahead of time). The Green Vacation Hub has tools to help you find eco-friendly lodging.


Sources:  eHow, LA Times, Earth 911, Green Guide, New York Times,

Recycling Plastic Bottle Caps

Plastic_bottle As in many places around the country, waste managers in New York City ask residents to chuck plastic bottle caps in the trash and take only bottles out to the curb for recycling. Green Life editor Josie Garthwaite explained why on NPR's Bryant Park Project this morning. (Hint: It has to do with markets and melting points.) If you're curious and have four minutes to spare, listen here.

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