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65 posts from January 2009

January 23, 2009

O.J. Guilty Of Emitting Carbon Dioxide

Orange juice Have you ever wondered how much your glass of orange juice contributes to global warming? Well, so did PepsiCo, the maker of Tropicana, the New York Times reported yesterday. Adding up the emissions from the growing, juicing, and shipping of Tropicana O.J., PepsiCo found that "3.75 pounds of carbon dioxide are emitted… for each half-gallon carton of orange juice."

Though there is some controversy about the implications of displaying carbon-footprint numbers on products, the act of determining those numbers can help clarify where emissions can be reduced: Now that PepsiCo has figured out Tropicana’s carbon emissions, the company is working to lessen that output. As the project’s manager said, “If you don’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

--Cara Longpre

Movie Review Friday: Fly Away Home

Escape to the movies with one of our Movie Review Friday selections. Each week, we review a film with an environmental theme that’s currently in theaters or available on DVD. Seen a good eco-flick lately? Send us a review of 100 or fewer words and look for it in the next Movie Review Friday.

Fly Away Home (1996)
Available on DVD

At the age of 13, Amy Alden becomes a mother of 16... orphaned Canadian geese, that is. She incubates the eggs, watches them hatch, is imprinted as their mother, and they subsequently follow her everywhere.

But to keep their wings from being clipped by the local game warden, they must migrate for winter, and they won't know where to go without being shown the way. After finding a bird sanctuary, Amy's father teaches her how to fly a lightweight plane and they take off to lead the birds to their winter home.

The film is loosely based on the life of Bill Lishman, the founder of Operation Migration, a nonprofit project that teaches rare and endangered birds new migration patterns. His current project involves repopulating North America with whooping cranes.

--Lara Loewenstein

January 22, 2009

Daily Roundup

Plugged In: There’s lots of space devoted to the environment on the new whitehouse.gov. About.com

States Rule: Obama is expected to let states enforce their own emissions standards for cars, as long as the standards exceed the federal ones. L.A. Times

No Groundhog Needed: Spring is starting almost two days earlier than it used to, probably due to human-caused global warming. National Geographic

Money Goes Green: Thanks to the predicted new green economy, there is increasingly stiff competition to get into environmental MBA programs. Environmental Leader

Bridging Troubled Waters: China’s solution to pollution in the Anning River? The Miyi Tower, an architectural landmark that also cleans the water. TreeHugger

--Avital Binshtock

Green Your Moving Day

Green your move While packing up and moving is generally seen as an unpleasant chore, it's also an opportunity for a fresh start. Begin your new life on a green note by reducing your environmental impact while moving. Here's how:

Take Inventory: Recycle, donate, or give away anything you don't need or love. Getting rid of cumbersome possessions before you start packing will save you from having to throw away items at the last minute.

Use Green Moving Companies: Daily Kos recently reported on Movegreen, a Santa Monica-based company that plants trees to offset every move and runs their trucks on biofuel. Can't find a green mover in your area? Minimize your impact by choosing the smallest truck that will carry all of your belongings in one trip. 

Reuse Boxes: Ask friends and businesses for used boxes and packing material, then pass along these items after your move (use Craigslist or Freecycle to find locals who need moving boxes). Can't find enough free boxes? Buy a moving kit from Used Cardboard Boxes or rent bins from Rent a Green Box.

Share your tips: How do you reduce waste during a move?

Urban Gardens Taking Root Across the U.S.

Urban gardeningFor some time now, a growing number of urbanites have been eating locally and seasonally, patronizing their local farmers' markets or joining a CSA (community-supported agriculture). Now another new trendactually an old way of doing things that is seeing a revivalhas begun to take root: urban gardening.

Catherine Butler recently started Urban Edibles, a backyard garden consultancy that follows the precepts of permaculture design, in San Francisco. "There are a lot of small spaces in San Francisco," Butler says, "and you can grow food on a patio or small deck. If we grow food where we live, it's fresher and it reduces the negative effects on global climate change. And by growing organically in people's backyards, we reduce pesticide use, chemical fertilizers, and petroleum use associated with food transport."

Lest you think urban gardening is flourishing only in locales with year-round temperate climates, think again. Urban gardens are bearing fruitand vegetablesin Chicago, Detroit, Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C., to name just a few cities that have begun to embrace the health and community-building benefits of locally produced food.

--Tom Valtin

Winterize Your Home: Ditch Your Wood-Burning Fireplace

Gas fireplace Though we're already well into winter, many of us are still seeking green solutions to keeping our living spaces warm and comfy. This week's tips are about how to winterize your home in ecofriendly ways.

Tip #3: Ditch Your Wood-Burning Fireplace

Wood-burning fireplaces spout excessive heat and pollution out the chimney – and rapidly burn through logged wood. To keep your hearth and its heating abilities green, switch its energy source to natural gas. While using fossil fuels is never ideal, in the case of fireplaces, doing so definitely leaves a smaller footprint.

January 21, 2009

Daily Roundup

Executive Halt: Obama has put many of Bush’s last-minute regulations, many of which could have detrimental environmental effects, on hold. 60-Second Science (Scientific American)

Antarctica Rising: Many thought that Antarctica was the only continent not getting hotter – but thanks to a new study, that idea is boiled over. NPR

California Freezin’: The frigid economy has frozen funding for many of California’s environmental and conservationist projects. L.A. Times

Crash Course: The recent U.S. Airways crash highlighted the problem of birds and airplanes sharing the same airspace. Some officials have it as their job to enact “wildlife deterrence.” Wired Science

On The Bright Side…: $13 billion awaits U.S. scientists. Much of it will go to those researching solutions to the energy crisis. Nature News

--Avital Binshtock

Book Roundup Wednesday

Books about environmentalism New for 2009 on the Green Life is a weekly roundup of books addressing a particular aspect of environmentalism. Today we're recommending photography collections that challenge or transform our ideas about the planet. Check back here every Wednesday to discover new and worthwhile books.

Destination Art (by Amy Dempsey, $40, University of California Press, 2006): Documenting the earthworks and site-specific installations of artists such as Robert Smithson, Antoni Gaudi, Nancy Holt, and Donald Judd, this book makes a great reference for the art-minded world traveler or the imaginative "staycationer."

Big Box Reuse (by Julia Christensen, $30, MIT Press, 2008): Sweeping images accompany the reuse case studies of former Wal-Marts and Kmarts, as artist Julia Christensen shows how some American communities are thinking outside the box.

Through the Lens: National Geographic Greatest Photographs (edited by Leah Bendavid-Val, $30, National Geographic Books, 2003): This expansive volume compiles more than 100 years' worth of National Geographic's nature and culture photography, creating a compelling portrait of our ever-changing world.

The Earth as Art: Views From Heaven (by Klaus D. Francke, $65, Bucher Publishing, 2007): Klaus Francke's aerial photography turns Earth's rivers, mountains, forests, cities, and migrations into a spectacular canvas of color and form.

5 Green Films at Sundance

Green films This year's crop of Sundance documentaries is showing a decidedly green trend:

Earth Days: From the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970 sprouted an environmental consciousness that would infiltrate Americans' hearts and minds for decades to come.Through the eyes of nine citizens, including a congressman and an astronaut, this documentary recounts the modern environmental movement and the sweeping progress it prompted.

Dirt! The Movie: With humor and honesty, this film digs deep to deliver the voices of farmers, physicists, church leaders, children, wine critics, anthropologists, and activists sharing anecdotes about the ground beneath our feet -- and the dangers of destroying it.

Continue reading "5 Green Films at Sundance" »

Winterize Your Home: Wrap It Up

Wrapped Though we're already well into winter, many of us are still seeking green solutions to keeping our living spaces warm and comfy. This week's tips are about how to winterize your home in ecofriendly ways. 

Tip #2: Wrap It Up

Did you know that simply wrapping your water heater with an insulating blanket cuts the cost (both financial and environmental) of heating the water? We even show you exactly how to do it here, with our step-by-step video.

And depending on where you live, if you go tankless or solar, you might be eligible for a tax rebate too.

Likewise, if you or one of your family members feels cold while at home, revert to getting snug in a blanket or coat before cranking up the heat -- and the heating bill.

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