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98 posts from March 2009

March 27, 2009

Movie Review Friday: A Sense of Wonder

Kaiulani Lee as Rachel Carson

As Women’s History Month ends, we find it fitting to recommend an unusual film, called A Sense of Wonder, made in 2008 about the dusk of Rachel Carson’s life. Kaiulani Lee wrote and produced the 55-minute piece, and also plays that most quintessential of female environmentalists.

It’s a quiet film, one that asks us to set aside our hunger for overdramatic portrayals of human conflict; watching it feels like a meditation of sorts. During the opening scenes, it might take a few minutes to get used to the unconventional format that perhaps can best be described as a mockumentary with a serious tone. Once you get your footing, however, it’ll be hard not to be won over by Carson’s utter reverence for nature and how she put that love to work.

In what’s esentially a one-woman performance, an imagined Carson speaks from the end of her life, as though to an invisible but always-inquiring journalist. She recalls her childhood, her years as a scientist, her first successes with writing, her adopted son, her convictions against pesticides that led (forced, one might say) her to write Silent Spring – and the breast cancer that ultimately silenced her. One walks away with great respect for this woman’s dignity and willingness to stand by her truths, even in the face of what, to someone else, would have been soul-shattering criticism.

Given the subject matter, the film could easily have crossed into the territory of being overly earnest, but stopped just shy of that. The result is a highly recommendable portrait of an extraordinary woman.

Currently screening throughout the U.S.; to plan a screening or watch the trailer, see the film's website. Also available on DVD.

--Avital Binshtock

March 26, 2009

Daily Roundup: March 26, 2009

Cold Claim: A Kremlin representative says Russia is "not going to stand still" regarding the extraction of natural resources in the Arctic. Russia is currently drafting legislation that would give the country more control over Arctic sea routes. Reuters

April Fools: British comedian Dan Power released a new single to raise awareness for "Energy Wasting Day," on April 1st. Treehugger

Slime Time: Nickelodeon will honor Leonardo DiCaprio at the television network's annual Kids' Choice Awards on March 28. The actor will receive a "Green Apple Award" for his environmental efforts. Ecorazzi

Woe Is Wood: A new report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations warns that the economic recession may harm forests as consumers opt for cheaper wood rather than supporting sustainable forestry. Inhabitat

Where's the Beef? Although federal law requires food distributors and manufacturers to keep track of the sources, recipients, and transporters of their goods, 59 percent of food businesses were unable to provide investigators with that information, said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's inspector general. 60-Second Science

--Della Watson

Have a Tree Planted For Buying a Ticket to See Disney's "Earth"

The people at Disneynature have announced that they'll have a tree planted for every ticket sold during opening week of the label's debut film, Earth, which opens on Earth Day, April 22.

Narrated by James Earl Jones and directed by the same creative team behind the award-winning BBC/Discovery Channel series Planet Earth, the film tells the story of climate change through the experiences of three animal families: polar bears, African elephants, and whales.

Continue reading "Have a Tree Planted For Buying a Ticket to See Disney's "Earth"" »

Resurrecting Trash

Landfill We don't often look at a broken grocery cart and imagine its second life as a living-room chair. And yet, Reestore did just that. Based just outside of London, the design firm takes everyday waste objects and turns them into functional pieces of furniture.

The idea of redirecting trash bin-bound waste to a more artful end is not new. Nonprofits in many of America's cities have long dedicated their time and energy to collecting and redistributing reusable materials for creative projects and art education.

Continue reading "Resurrecting Trash" »

Green Spring Cleaning: Clean Slate, New Habits

A clean closet is only the beginning of a greener yearWith winter behind us, it's time to embrace the season of rejuvenation by reducing clutter and attacking grime. This week we're providing tips to green your spring cleaning and give your home a fresh beginning.

Tip #4: Revamp Your Green Routine

After you've purged your closets (recycling everything, of course) and dusted off your shelves, set the stage for a cleaner, greener year. Use spring cleaning as an excuse to reorganize your recycling bins for maximum efficiency or make sure a hibernating bike is tuned up and ready to ride. Clear out pantry space so that you'll have room to store staples bought in bulk. Get out your calendar and designate a regular schedule for repair projects or start hosting monthly repair-a-thons with friends.

Share your tips: What are your green goals for the year and how will you achieve them?

March 25, 2009

Daily Roundup: March 25, 2009

Big Win for Wilderness: The U.S. House of Representatives passed what Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope calls "the biggest public lands bill in decades." The historic bill protects over two million acres of wilderness. Sierra Club

Oil Spill Aftermath: Scientists say no calves have been born to an unlucky pod of killer whales in Prince William Sound since the Exxon Valdez spill 20 years ago. Seven whales remain in the pod; the whales are genetically different from other killer whales in the region and produce unique songs. Wired

Not It: President Obama's nominee for deputy administrator of the EPA, Jon Cannon, withdrew his name from consideration over scrutiny of America's Clean Water Foundation, the nonprofit organization where Cannon had served on the board of directors. New York Times

Buying Orange: San Francisco's reverse-boycott phenomenon, the "Carrotmob," has gone bicoastal. The Charleston, South Carolina, Green Drinks group will form their first conscientious shopping mob on April 11. Charleston Regional Business Journal

On the Pill: Forestry officials are using birth control pellets to manage gerbil populations in the ecologically sensitive Xinjiang region of China. BBC

--Della Watson

Book Roundup Wednesday: Green Spring Cleaning

Books about environmentalism Every Wednesday, we review a selection of new and upcoming books addressing a specific aspect of environmentalism. Today, to coincide with this week's daily tips about greening your spring cleaning, we're recommending books about how to clean your home in planet-friendly ways.

The Naturally Clean Home: 150 Super-Easy Herbal Formulas for Green Cleaning (by Karyn Siegel-Maier, $11, Storey Publishing, Dec. 2008): This superlative guide to cleaning without chemicals or toxins, written almost in cookbook format, presents many herb- and essential-oil-based "recipes" by which to create naturally derived cleaning substances.

Green Cleaning for Dummies(by Elizabeth B. Goldsmith and Betsy Sheldon, $17, Wiley, Nov. 2008): Co-written by a Fulbright scholar who's also a consumer-science professor along with a veteran lifestyle journalist, this guide presents straightforward ways to clean green, room by room.

Continue reading "Book Roundup Wednesday: Green Spring Cleaning" »

"Psycho" Shower Scene: The Dirty Version

No one was really looking at the shower water as Janet Leigh screamed her way out of the Bates Motel and into Hollywood history, but maybe it's worth a second glance. This viral ad campaign from a group of leading international health organizations aims to draw attention to the contaminated water endured by many of the world's developing countries by spoofing several iconic movies; check out what they did with the car-wash scene in Cool Hand Luke.

Continue reading ""Psycho" Shower Scene: The Dirty Version" »

Green Spring Cleaning: Freshen Up

Houseplants improve indoor air qualityWith winter behind us, it's time to embrace the season of rejuvenation by reducing clutter and attacking grime. This week we're providing tips to green your spring cleaning and give your home a fresh beginning.

Tip #3: Use Natural Air Fresheners

A clean house is often associated with a "fresh" smell, so it's ironic that synthetic air fresheners could be contaminating homes with phthalates or formaldehyde. To really freshen up a room, try opening the windows first. Next, invest in houseplants. NASA has been studying the pollution-reducing abilities of plants for years. Some of the plants tested by NASA and shown to remove benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde from the air include the peace lily, spider plant, golden pothos, mother-in-law's tongue, bamboo palm, ficus, pot mum, and gerbera daisy.

Share your tips: What are your natural remedies for fighting odor in the home?

March 24, 2009

Daily Roundup: March 24, 2009

Left Coal-ed: The EPA ruled today to halt hundreds of coal-mining permits while the environmental impact of removing mountaintops is evaluated. NPR

Heat is On: Kenya is battling blazes in four of its wildlife-rich national parks; some animals may be trapped in a crater. Officials suspect arson. ENN

NOAA Knows: New NOAA head Jane Lubchenco is proposing a national climate service to predict the effects of global warming, thereby helping decision-makers take climate change into account. Scientific American
Sea Ya: The survivors of a pod of beached whales and dolphins in Australia were returned to sea today. National Geographic

Al Be Darned: Al Gore announced today that he’ll follow An Inconvenient Truth with a second book, called Our Truth, to be published in November. Ecorazzi

--Avital Binshtock

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