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50 posts from August 2008

August 25, 2008

Green Your Drink -- Sangria

Sangria_green Give a toast to the environment with this week's tips for finding (and making) light-on-the-planet beverages.

Tip #1: Add a local twist

Basic sangria recipes combine wine, fresh fruit, sugar, brandy, and cinnamon--ingredients that can weigh heavily on the environment as a result of long shipping routes, heavy pesticide use, and water-intensive farming practices. For a greener version of the red Spanish punch, try sweetening sangria with honey from a nearby farmers market and opting for organic seasonal fruits and local wines. One of sangria's biggest virtues is its adaptability: No peaches? Pears work fine. No brandy? No worries--choose your next-favorite liqueur. So if some of the basics aren't in season or locally available, you can get creative and swap in the season and region's best offerings.

Share your recipes and tips: Do you have a great green sangria or cocktail recipe? How do you make the most of foods grown or produced near your home?

August 22, 2008

Movie Review Friday -- Nim's Island

Escape to the movies with one of our Movie Friday selections. Each week we 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!

Nim's Island (2008)
Available on DVD

This is an excellent family film. Much of the action takes place on a remote island in the south seas and centers on the special life created by a marine biologist (Gerard Butler) and his 11-year-old daughter, Nim (Abigail Breslin). It also stars Jodie Foster as a writer who comes to rescue Nim. The scenery is beautiful, and father and daughter take great care of their habitat.

Continue reading "Movie Review Friday -- Nim's Island" »

August 21, 2008

Beat the Heat -- Ban Hot Appliances

Once you've cooled your casa with fans, the last thing you want to do is heat it up again. Beat the heat week continues with another tip for staying cool.

Tip #4: Ban Hot Appliances

It sounds simple, but it's easy to forget that many household appliances create heat. Make sure you've unplugged all of your vampire appliances and avoid using heat producers such as the oven and the dryer.

  • Let the sun work for you--dry your clothes outside on the line.
  • Ditch the blow dryer--find a hairstyle that'll look great without the hot air blast.
  • Place the oven on summer vacation--opt for raw foods or downsize to a toaster oven.

Need to use a hot appliance? Close the door and switch the window fan to reverse mode to draw the hot air outside.

Have you triumphed over summer heat? Share your tips!

Fast Facts on Disaster Preparedness

Storm_brewing One in four U.S. adults has taken no steps to prepare for a natural disaster, according to the American Red Cross.

One in five Americans who have not planned for an emergency cites not knowing what to do as a major reason for being unprepared.

Share your stories: Have you experienced a natural disaster? Did you have plans in place? What advice would you give to others who might weather disasters in the future?

Green Colleges -- Have Your Say

Cs_01 Not long ago small private colleges had a near monopoly on campus environmental initiatives in the United States. But today supersize public universities are nipping at the nimble, hemp-shod heels of those pioneers by adopting green building standards, expanding environmental studies programs, and converting fleets to zero-emission vehicles. Read all about the schools (and students) leading the charge to green higher education in Sierra's second annual "Cool Schools" roundup.

If you're excited or frustrated with initiatives on your campus or convinced we've missed a great green school, you can vent or brag right here. Just hit that comments button below to join the conversation--and help us make next year's list even better.

Morgan Freeman, Fixer

"People on every coast in the world are our neighbors, and we have to find ways to help them be prepared for what will come when storms hit."

Morgan_freeman002_4You know him as Red in The Shawshank Redemption, Lucius Fox in the Batman movies, and maybe even as God in last summer's box-office dud Evan Almighty. But Oscar-winner Morgan Freeman is a man who acts far beyond Hollywood. Sierra spoke with him about PlanIt Now, a nonprofit he founded after Hurricane Ivan hit Grenada in 2004. Initially called the Grenada Relief Fund, the group--which has partnered with the Sierra Club to encourage disaster preparedness--now works to help people in the Gulf Coast and Caribbean ready their families and businesses for big storms.

Hurricane Ivan was not the first disaster to strike a vulnerable community. What compelled you to do something about this one?

Morgan Freeman:
I got a call from friends in Grenada. They were worried about the people on the other side of the island who were struggling to get water, food, and medical attention because of the mud slides and other issues. In the weeks that followed, people there were sick and dehydrated and losing weight fast--and relief was slow. I had to try to help.

Continue reading "Morgan Freeman, Fixer" »

3 Ways to Prepare for a Disaster

  • Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to be your family's check-in person. In an emergency, SMS messages and long-distance calls often go through more easily than calls in the affected area.
  • Know the routes your family members generally take to and from work, school, and other daily activities so that you can tell authorities where they may have been traveling if a disaster strikes.
  • Make sure every adult in your household knows when and how to shut off the water, power, and gas. Post instructions near the main switches.

Find more tips and resources at planitnow.org and ready.gov.

Share your tips: What have you done to prepare your household for a disaster?

Wall-E: New Era for Nature in U.S. Animation

Wall_e_trialMany animated films trumpet environmental themes. Wall-E--Pixar's hit about a solar-powered, trash-compacting 'bot on a waste-choked Earth--didn't set out to be one of them. Originally, Wall-E took place on an intergalactic trash dump, says Pete Docter, who wrote the initial treatment. Yet in depicting a world so far from Disney's idyllic forests, Wall-E may herald a new era for U.S. animation in which nature has all but collapsed. Its hopeful ending portends a better future: Though damaged, the earth can be restored--if humans make an effort.
--Charles Solomon

EU Carbon Caps and California Lawsuits

In June, European Union Parliament reps voted to limit airline greenhouse-gas emissions. Caps are slated to begin in 2012 and extend to any carrier flying to or from Europe.

California's attorney general sued Avalon Natural Products, Beaumont Products (owners of Citrus Magic), NutriBiotic, and Whole Foods Market after their "organic" body-care and household-cleaning products tested positive for high levels of a possible carcinogen.

Keanu Reeves: The Day the Earth Stood Still

"Instead of being man against man, it's more about man against nature. My [character] Klaatu says that if the earth dies, you die. If you die, the earth survives. I'm a friend to the earth."
--Keanu Reeves describing his role as Klaatu in the remake of the sci-fi classic The Day the Earth Stood Still, due out in December

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