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98 posts from March 2009

March 31, 2009

Daily Roundup: March 31, 2009

Law For the Land: Congress introduced a 600-page energy-and-climate bill to reduce U.S. emissions over the next 40 years; the cap-and-trade part of the bill, which would cover about 85 percent of the economy and require corporations to get permits for polluting, will likely be the most fought-over. Wall Street Journal

Good Trade: Bills are moving through Congress that would allow people to trade in their gas-guzzling cars for cash; Obama speaks out in favor. Scientific American

Spic-and-Span Spuds: McDonald’s has agreed to reduce its pesticide use on potatoes. Treehugger

Eco Your House: Sierra Club Green Home, an online resource for making homes more environmentally friendly, has launched. New York Times and Ecorazzi

Black and White: Check out these before-and-after Earth Hour photos that make clear the point of energy conservation. National Geographic

--Avital Binshtock

Fast Food and the Geography of Poor Health

Fast food student "After school, I go to the public library, down the street from McDonald's" explains a middle-school student in Berkeley, California.

Is it any wonder that American youth navigate their communities using fast-food restaurants as landmarks? In an interview with the New York Times, Andrew F. Puzder, the chief executive of CKE Restaurants (parent company of Carl's Jr.) recently admitted, "We decided the people we wanted to target were young, hungry guys. You set your target at a group that is cool or appealing and you get a much broader scope of people. We target hungry guys, and we get young kids that want to be young hungry guys."

Continue reading "Fast Food and the Geography of Poor Health" »

Vote For Your Favorite Arbor Day Poster

Arbor day poster We support programs that teach children to explore, enjoy, and protect the planet, so we're digging the environmental artwork of the 47 finalists in the Arbor Day Foundation's annual poster contest. Check out the fifth grade students' posters (this year's theme is "Trees are Terrific . . . in Cities and Towns!") and vote for your favorite poster. Online voting begins today and will conclude on Friday, April 3rd. The winner will be announced on Arbor Day, Friday, April 24. Of course, if the contest inspires these kids to become responsible stewards of the earth, we all win.

--Della Watson

Green Your Travel: Where to Stay

Environmentally friendly lodging We're well into spring and summer's coming, so if you're feeling bitten by the travel bug and find yourself getting into vacation mode, please remember to protect the planet you're so intent on seeing. This week we're presenting tips about how to make your travels more earth-friendly.

Tip #2: Book Where It Matters

Your options are many when booking a hotel, but to stay true to your environmentalist self, consider choosing a property that's clearly devoted itself to being environmentally responsible. That could mean it's LEED-certified or energy-efficient. Does it have solar panels? Water-saving devices? Is there a recycling and composting program in place? It helps, too, if the hotel's restaurant or room service uses local, seasonal ingredients -- or if discounts are offered for those who drive hybrids or take public transit. Some brands even donate profits to environmental causes or offset guests' stays. Some greener names to look for? Fairmont, Kimpton, some Hiltons, and Starwood's Element, to name a few.

March 30, 2009

Daily Roundup: March 30, 2009

Killing Your Television: The California Energy Commission proposed stricter regulations on the sale of inefficient television sets. Current state standards only cap power usage in televisions in the standby mode, while proposed regulations would limit power usage in TVs that are actually turned on. Gaget Lab 

A Stand for Forests: A group of eleven NGOs working to protect Madagascar's unique ecosystems issued an international call to action in response to a rise in timber raids and wildlife smuggling in the country. New York Times

Little Boxes: In 2008, the size of the average American home under construction shrunk considerably for the first time in ten years. Average square footage fell from 2,629 to 2,343. Green Daily

Farm Glam: Moving from the red carpet to the farm, Elizabeth Hurley has partnered with Duchy Originals, Prince Charles's sustainable food brand, to sell organic, humanely-raised beef, pork, and lamb. Ecorazzi

Bad for Baby: A new study found a correlation between birth defects and spring or summer conception dates. Researchers believe that mothers who conceive between the months of April and July may be exposed to increased levels of pesticides. Science Daily

--Della Watson

Greenbird Breaks Wind-Powered Land Speed Record

After devoting 10 years to the project, British engineer Richard Jenkins smashed the land speed record for a wind-powered craft. Jenkins's vehicle, the Ecotricity Greenbird, clocked in at 126.1 mph on March 26. The previous record, held by Bob Schumacher, was 116 mph. "It's an incredibly difficult record to break," Jenkins said after the ride. "Any other record, more power means more speed. Here we don't have more power. More wind doesn't mean more speed. [You've] got to get it technically spot-on." The wind-craft's Web site calls the unique design "part aeroplane, part sailboat, part Formula One car."

The land speed competition takes place at Ivanpah Dry Lake, on the California-Nevada border. Greenbird's wild desert ride won't be it's last chance for glory: Jenkins and his team hope to break the ice speed record next winter.

--Della Watson

Green Your Travel: Getting There

Green travel We're well into spring and summer's coming, so if you're feeling bitten by the travel bug and find yourself getting into vacation mode, please remember to protect the planet you're so intent on seeing. This week we're presenting tips about how to make your travels more earth-friendly.

Tip #1: Consider Your Means

No form of motorized transport is really green, but if you must use it, consider offsetting. Other ways to cut your carbon footprint from driving or flying include: packing lighter so as to save on the fuel it'll take to transport you and your stuff, taking the train or bus instead of driving a personal vehicle, and deciding to explore places closer to home.

Tip #2: Where to Stay

Tip #3: While You're There

Tip #4: Spot Greenwashing

Weigh in: How do you travel green?

Bonus: Check out our editor's opinions about eco-travel books in Budget Travel magazine.

March 27, 2009

Daily Roundup: March 27, 2009

Birds and Bees: Isabella Rossellini will star in season two of  Green Porno, a series of short films about the sex lives of animals which is set to air on Sundancechannel.com beginning April 1. Washington Post

Cash Flow: Colorado received the first federal stimulus grant for an environmental project. Awarded by EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, the $1.73 million grant will fund a clean-diesel project. Denver Business Journal

Mountaintop Repair: A representative of the United Nations' Environment Programme is scheduled to visit eastern Kentucky on March 28 to assist volunteers who are replanting forests destroyed by mining activities. Associated Press

Vroom, Vroom: New additions to the slightly greener world of sports car racing include tires made in part from orange peels and oil made from beef tallow. San Jose Mercury News

Tiny Threats? Scientists warn that nanoparticles such as those found in cosmetics and sunscreens may be harmful to the environment. Science Daily

--Della Watson

Michelle, Who's That Buzzing at our Door?

Honeybee This summer, two modest homes will be built adjacent to the White House. Their occupants, thousands in number, have been given no official title or position under the Obama Administration to date. But they do have a very clear purpose: to pollinate the new White House garden, produce copious amounts of honey, help educate Americans about the importance of backyard beekeeping, and raise awareness about Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). "The inclusion of two beehives in the White House garden sends a powerful message about the importance of bees to our food supply," says Karen Wasmer, a member of the Northeast Florida Honeybee Association.

President Obama's backyard is not the only landscape abuzz with bees. Growing concern over CCD and an increasing interest in urban gardening have led many Americans to welcome native pollinators and honeybees into our cityscapes. Protecting local-food security has never tasted so sweet.

--Melissa Weiss

Turn Your Lights Out For Earth Hour: March 28, 8:30 p.m.

SMMA09_EN_03 Hundreds of thousands of people across the globe have already signed up to flip the switch tomorrow for Earth Hour 2009. Last year's event was the largest voluntary power-down ever: More than 50 million people in 35 countries turned off their lights for 60 minutes.

This year, iconic landmarks around the world are also going dark for the hour, including New York's Empire State Building, the Las Vegas Strip (!), San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, Seattle's Space Needle, Chicago's Sears Tower, Paris's Eiffel Tower, Egypt's pyramids, Greece's Acropolis, and the Sydney Opera House.

The campaign started in Sydney in 2007. That year the city's carbon consumption dropped by more than 10 percent during Earth Hour. If Sydney maintained that level of energy reduction year-round, it would be the equivalent of taking almost 50,000 cars off the road. To pledge your participation, sign up at this link -- and tomorrow, March 28, go dark between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m.

Just don't compensate for the darkness by burning a candle: Experts say that candles are 10 times worse for the environment than lightbulbs.

--Avital Binshtock


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