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79 posts from May 2009

May 21, 2009

Eco-News from the Pop World

The latest trends in pop culture? They're all green, baby. Here are some of the most recent tabloid items:

 

Teen Idols for Change: Disney Channel stars are promoting the company's new "Friends for Change: Project Green" initiative. “I say you do have the power change the world – because you have friends,” says Miley Cyrus, encouraging youngsters to check out the new website dedicated to helping kids save the planet. Online, kids can pledge to green their lives by making bite-sized changes. Plus, they can vote for which environmental causes in which they want Disney to invest $1 million.

 

Eco colaEco-Cola: Coca-Cola recently announced "PlantBottle," a new type of soda container that is totally recyclable and made in part from sugar cane and molasses. While bottles will still be composed mainly of petroleum, the company says it's looking into making future PlantBottles more sustainable yet. Coca-Cola plans to launch the product soon – Dasani drinkers can expect to buy their water in ecofriendlier containers later this year.  

 

Supershopper: A new mobile-phone application, called Ecohero, will allow consumers to gauge a product’s eco-friendliness by scanning in its barcode – an idea inspired by the price-comparing application ShopSavvy. HBO’s Entourage star Adrian Grenier conceptualized the idea and is developing it with Big in Japan, the same firm that produced ShopSavvy. If funding comes through, the app will launch this August for Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android platform. 

--Jamie Hansen

Green Your Garbage: Renew and Reuse

Reuse those chairs Let's talk trash: Americans generate around 250 million tons of it annually. This week, we'll provide tips for reducing, reusing, and recycling your garbage.

Tip #4: Give Old Things New Life

Dumpster divers can attest that a lot of perfectly usable stuff gets thrown away. Sometimes a simple fix-up job is in order: A fresh coat of low-VOC paint can make tired furniture look new; creative stitching can give clothes a fashion fix. But when your possessions truly wear out their welcome, consider donating or trading them. Find new homes for castoffs on Freecycle, organize a clothing swap with friends, or give to your local Goodwill and Salvation Army stores.

Share your tips: What are your favorite resources for trading in or donating household items?

May 20, 2009

Daily Roundup: May 20, 2009

Recession Payoff: Carbon dioxide emissions in the United States dropped a record 2.8 percent in 2008 as a result of high fuel costs and restricted consumer budgets. Reuters

Pitt Power: Brad Pitt and his brother Doug donated $600,000 to help their hometown university build a new sporting arena with LEED Gold certification. Ecorazzi

Knutty: Two German zoos are feuding over the profits generated by Knut, the world-famous polar bear. BBC

No Scuba Suit Required: An underwater museum was constructed 40 meters below the surface of the Yangtze River in China to display cultural relics submerged as a result of the Three Gorges Dam project. People's Daily Online and Wanderlust

The Air Adds 10 Years: Scientists discovered that the telomeres (located on the ends of chromosomes) of subjects with long-term exposure to traffic exhaust appeared 10 years older than those of people with minimal exposure to air pollution. Science News

--Della Watson

Book Roundup Wednesday: Religion and the Environment

Books about environmentalism

Every Wednesday, we review a selection of new and upcoming books addressing a specific aspect of environmentalism. Today we're recommending books about the cross-section of religion and ecology.

Earth Gospel: A Guide to Prayer for God’s Creation (by Sam Hamilton-Poore, $18, Upper Room Books, 2008): A day-by-day, week-by-week guide to praying for the Earth, this Christian book offers hundreds of peace-inducing hymns, reflections, and blessings, from scripture and by luminaries such as Mother Teresa, John Muir, and Catherine of Siena to praise and protect what the author calls “the creation that God loves.”

God in the Wilderness: Rediscovering the Spirituality of the Great Outdoors with the Adventure Rabbi (by Rabbi Jamie S. Korngold, $12, Doubleday, 2008): The author wisely opens with Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth,” reminding her mostly Jewish readers that the very first sentence of Judeo-Christian scripture identifies the earth as god’s creation and that nature is, as she puts it, “where our religion was created.” The rest of the book, written in easy-to-read first-person, interprets pieces of the Old Testament while interspersing stories of the outdoors and tips for treating the planet better.

Continue reading "Book Roundup Wednesday: Religion and the Environment" »

Green Your Garbage: Compost

Turning compost Let's talk trash: Americans generate around 250 million tons of it annually. This week, we'll provide tips for reducing, reusing, and recycling your garbage.

Tip #3: Turn Waste into Compost

Food waste and yard clippings can be turned into natural fertilizer through the composting process. Sierra Club's Owen Bailey explains the basics in this video. Check out the EPA's guide to find composting resources in your region. If you're looking for something more animated than a heap of twigs and peels, consider that kitchen scraps can also be used to feed backyard chickens.

Share your tips: What do you do with green waste?

May 19, 2009

Daily Roundup: May 19, 2009

That New-Car Smell: The Obama administration proposed new fuel-efficiency standards for cars today which would require 2016-model cars to be rated at 35.5 mpg. TreeHugger

Don’t Wait: During a hearing representatives urged the EPA not to wait on Congress to act on climate change. AP

Mercurial Finding: The oldest traces of mercury pollution were found in Peru, suggesting that the Andes had a mining industry as early as 1400 B.C. National Geographic

Alaska Rising: In response to climate change, it’s not the ocean level that’s rising in Alaska – it’s the land. New York Times

They’re Back: The NOAA declared that four fish stocks in the Atlantic Ocean are fully rebuilt. NOAA

--Avital Binshtock

Harnessing the Power of Twitter

Tweet-a-watt uses twitter to reduce power consumption Can 140 characters combat global warming? If the "tweet" helps you track power use, then it could inform choices that impact your carbon footprint. Tweet-a-Watt, winner of the 2009 Greener Gadgets Design Competition, wirelessly connects to a Kill-a-Watt power meter then broadcasts home energy consumption stats on Twitter. The setup provides a strong incentive for turning off the lights and unplugging appliances, since most of us don't want to look like huge power hogs in front of our friends (or "followers" in Twitter speak).  Limor Fried, Phillip Torrone, and Adafruit Industries, the magnanimous creators of Tweet-a-Watt, are freely sharing their idea with the masses: Follow these instructions to make your own Tweet-a-Watt.

--Della Watson

Vote for Your Favorite Farmers' Market

FarmersmarketproduceThe local farmers’ market is that colorful, festive place we visit to support the local economy and find fresh, sustainable food. Despite a growing demand for local produce, however, more than 16 million acres of farmland were lost between 2002 and 2007 –  much of it was sold for urban development.

To foster appreciation for local farmers, the nonprofit American Farmland Trust recently announced its first annual “America’s Favorite Farmers' Markets” contest.
It's like American Idol – minus the snarky judges, but with a lot more dirt.

Continue reading "Vote for Your Favorite Farmers' Market" »

How Do You Say "Gone"?

Language and animals Next time you travel somewhere exotic, don’t be surprised if you see fewer kinds of animals and hear fewer dialects. As it turns out, the loss of species and the loss of languages are intertwined. The reasons for this correlation aren’t entirely clear, but the fact that places rich with species tend to be linguistically diverse could shed some light. These are the same regions threatened by corporate interests -- think of rainforests clearcut for agriculture and livestock -- which wipe out not only ecosystems and their dependent species, but also native peoples’ oral histories of how best to interact with that land.

--Avital Binshtock

Green Your Garbage: Food

Mother Nature says clean your plate Let's talk trash: Americans generate around 250 million tons of it annually. This week, we'll provide tips for reducing, reusing, and recycling your garbage.

Tip #2: Reduce Food Waste

When it comes to portion size, Americans tend to overdo it. More than 25 percent of the food we prepare ends up in the trash. When food decomposes in landfills under anaerobic conditions, it contributes to global warming by producing methane. Order smaller portions at restaurants or split one entree between two people. The next time your eyes are bigger than your stomach, take home leftovers in a reusable container. If you've got the basics down, you can rev up your waste-reduction efforts by food gleaning or advocating for irregularly shaped produce, which is often rejected by grocery stores and left to rot in fields.

Share your tips: How do you keep food waste out of the landfill?


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