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65 posts from January 2009

January 28, 2009

Eating Local in Winter: Preserves

Homemade jellies and jams Depending on your region, maintaining a local diet all year long can either be a snap or a supreme challenge. This week we'll explore options for eating locally during the winter months.

Tip #3: Embrace Canning, Jellying, Drying, and Pickling

If your kitchen is already stocked with homemade preserves, we applaud you. Never got around to making those jellies and jams? You can still support regional farmers and businesses by purchasing locally produced pickles, canned vegetables, and jellies. Sustainable Table will help you find a food co-op in your area, and LocalHarvest lists the local farms that sell preserves. If the idea of canning your own veggies is appealing, start preparing now by gathering the supplies you'll need this summer.

Share your tips: What are your favorite recipes for preserved foods?

January 27, 2009

Daily Roundup

Penguins Threatened: Emperor penguins are facing extinction over the next century because of the effects climate change is having on Antarctica. Environmental News Network

Trees Too: Trees in forests on the North American West Coast are dying as global warming gets worse. L. A. Times

No Going Back: A new study by a top scientist suggests that the damage caused by climate change is irreversible. NPR

Priorities, People: According to the latest Pew poll, eco-worries have slipped below other concerns. Survey takers ranked their opinion of what national priorities should be as: 1)
the economy, 2) jobs, 3) terrorism, 4) Social Security, 5) education, and 6) energy. Environment ranks 16th, and global warming ranks 20th. Pew Research Center

E.U. to Obama: The European Union’s environmental commissioner wrote a letter to Obama expressing Europe’s desire for America to pollute less, and for the U.S. to establish a cap-and-trade system. Green Inc. (NYT)

--Avital Binshtock

Flush Lightly, America

Green toilet Get beyond the unfortunate imagery of a "green toilet," and you have a water-saving solution that kicks back some cash too.

Bath-and-kitchen giant Kohler Co. launched an online campaign to teach homeowners how to help the environment by installing water-saving toilets and fixtures.

Far from a passive potty-peddler, Kohler committed to donating $1 worth of product to Habitat for Humanity for every three-question quiz completed on their site, which could equal a pledge of up to $1 million worth of water-saving plumbing products given to low-income members of communities.

Check out the interactive map to learn to what extent your hometown rewards water conservation. Installing a low-flow commode can earn a rebate of up to $125 in Denver, $165 in L.A., and $240 in NYC.

--Jordana Fyne

Eating Local in Winter: Indoor Herb Gardens

Indoor herb garden Depending on your region, maintaining a local diet all year long can either be a snap or a supreme challenge. This week we'll explore options for eating locally during the winter months.

Tip #2: Grow Your Own Herbs

A small indoor herb garden adds greenery to a home while providing fresh, flavorful accents for winter recipes. Basil, thyme, oregano, sage, and parsley are great herbs for beginning gardeners. Place your plants in a spot where they'll receive at least five hours of sunlight. A south-facing windowsill is ideal. Keep the soil moist and enjoy your locally grown herbs all winter. Find gardening tutorials here and here.

Share your tips: What are your tricks for maintaining a bountiful indoor garden?

January 26, 2009

Tougher Standards for the Auto Industry

Green car Only days after his inauguration, President Barack Obama has begun reversing the Bush administration's climate policies, Reuters reports. On January 26, Obama directed the EPA to reconsider California's request to impose its own limits on vehicle emissions. The request, denied under the previous administration, would hold California's tailpipes to tougher guidelines than current federal mandates. The expected EPA approval could be followed by similar requests by as many as 18 other states. In addition to addressing emissions standards, Obama also announced plans to raise federal fuel-efficiency standards for 2011 vehicle models.

While Obama's push for greener cars may revive a struggling auto industry, some green bloggers have announced their own tough set of standards: for example, ecogeek's shot at Toyota's average mpg and Treehugger's roundup of the ugliest eco-vehicles.

Daily Roundup

No Kidding: Barack Obama overturned a rule restricting federal funding for promoting family planning, including abortions, in developing nations. Environmentalists hailed the move as a step toward curbing overpopulation. New York Times

Sea It Through: Congress and the Obama administration have vowed to join the U.N. Law of the Sea Convention, a treaty most other countries signed years ago. Worldwatch

Water Critters: As word comes in about how many sea species being depleted, the U.S. is negotiating with Japan about their whaling practices. Economist and L.A. Times

Worldly Endeavor: Today the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) was born; some 80 countries have already committed to joining. SustainableBusiness.com

Hot Air: The solar energy from one hot-air balloon can be harnessed to power 10 homes. Inhabitat

--Avital Binshtock

Sarah Palin Pushes Renewable Energy

Alaska Climate change is a daily reality for Alaskan citizens. On the barrier island of Shishmaref, just 20 miles south of the Arctic circle, residents struggle against the rising sea level and storm surges that threaten to wash out their village.

As the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers works on a solution to replacing the melted ice wall barricade, Gov. Sarah Palin recently announced her plan to combat global warming with a statewide goal of producing half of Alaska's electricity from renewable sources by 2025.

The plan, which is not an actual plan for action but a detailed list of resources, proposes a bold shift from fossil fuels and expensive diesel to wind, hydro, tidal and geothermal energy. Looks like the Republicans' "Drill, baby, drill" is growing up.

--Jordana Fyne

Eating Local in Winter: Farmers' Markets

Winter squash Depending on your region, maintaining a local diet all year long can either be a snap or a supreme challenge. This week we'll explore options for eating locally during the winter months.

Tip #1: Look for Winter Markets

Many farmers' markets go dormant during winter, but there are exceptions, such as the winter market in Portland, Maine. Use LocalHarvest or the USDA's National Agricultural Library to find a local market or CSA in your region. Expect to find cold-tolerant vegetables like potatoes, carrots, beets, rutabagaswinter squash, and onions. In some regions, greens such as kale will be available. Apples store well and are often sold at winter markets. If you can't find fresh produce, remember that local meat, eggs, and dairy are year-round foods. If you live near the coast, opt for sustainable seafood.

Share your tips: What are your strategies for finding local foods during winter?

Tip#2: Indoor Herb Gardens

Tip#3: Preserves

Tip#4: Try Local Recipes

January 23, 2009

Daily Roundup

Climb On! Rock climbers get a little help from the lab coats, as researchers analyze the strength of karabiners. ScienceDaily

Sierra Shift: Opting for a new role as chairman, Carl Pope, the current executive director of the Sierra Club, embraces change. Grist

Classroom Evolution: The Texas Board of Education votes to change the state's curriculum, making it more difficult for teachers to promote creationism in schools. Scientific American

Saying No to Coal: The EPA overturns South Dakota's approval of a coal-fired power plant. Compass

To the Moon! A California-based engineering firm tests a rocket powered by biofuel. New Scientist

Clean Coal is Just Soooo Cool!


Remember when putting sunglasses on something automatically made it cool? That's what Peabody Energy, the world's largest coal company, wants you to think about black, shiny lumps of coal. And the image above? No, we didn't make it as joke using Photoshop, Peabody Energy did -- but not as a joke. The Sierra Club and several other nonprofits, led by Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection, have joined to form the Reality Coalition to help fight the coal industry's ludicrous marketing campaign. They were quick to pick up on Peabody's new ad, which ran on a full page in the Washington Post two weeks ago. Here's hoping that people won't be fooled by the coal industry's cool, new sunglasses... Then again, it worked for Flavor Flav.

--Michael Fox

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