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82 posts from July 2009

July 21, 2009

Summer Sports Week: Bicycling

Strength in numbers Time spent enjoying the outdoors recharges your spirit and gives you further motivation to protect the planet. This week, we'll provide tips for keeping your summer athletic activities green.

Tip #2: Make Yourself Known

In most U.S. cities, cars far outnumber bikes, making cycling more dangerous and deterring potential riders. Encourage green transportation in your community by participating in group rides like Critical Mass or local events such as San Francisco's Sunday Streets or Portland's Sunday Parkways. Can't find an event in your area? Make a date with friends. Remember to follow the rules of the road and be courteous at all times--you'll be more likely to tempt beginning cyclists to join you and to convince drivers that you belong on the road.

Share your tips: How can we make communities more bike-friendly?

July 20, 2009

Daily Roundup: July 20, 2009

Friends with Vehicles: General Motors launched ChevroletVoltage.com, a social networking Web site dedicated to its upcoming plug-in electric hybrid vehicle, the Volt. Treehugger

Trash Backlash: Brazil fined three companies that imported around 1,600 tons of garbage falsely declared as plastic cargo from Great Britain. Reuters

Hands Off: Interior Secretary Ken Salazar ordered a temporary freeze on new uranium mining claims in federal lands near the Grand Canyon. Washington Post and Sierra Club

This Is Your Brain on Pollution: A new study shows that prenatal exposure to high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons is correlated with lower IQ scores in childhood. Science Daily

No Promises: Jairam Ramesh, India's environment minister, told Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that India would not agree to any "legally binding emissions reductions targets." New York Times and CNN

--Della Watson

A Gold LEED Rating for California Wine

Winery LEED rating Although the wine industry has traditionally been dominated by red and white varieties, there are currently plenty of wineries working towards green.  Some package their wines in boxes instead of bottles or use only organic grapes. One has even achieved carbon neutrality. Hall Wines chose to focus their environmental efforts on construction.

The winery recently became the first in California to earn a gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Green Building Rating System.

Continue reading "A Gold LEED Rating for California Wine" »

Summer Sports Week: Hiking

Hiking is a good way to stay fit Time spent enjoying the outdoors recharges your spirit and gives you further motivation to protect the planet. This week, we'll provide tips for keeping your summer athletic activities green.

Tip #1: "Leave No Trace"

When hiking or camping, remember this adage: "Leave only footprints and take only pictures." The exception to the rule? If you notice litter on the trail, pick it up and pack it out. To connect with other hikers, join Sierra Club Trails and upload your photographs. Review the rules for ethical hiking and camping at Leave No Trace and learn wilderness survival techniques at Sierra magazine.

Tip #2: Make Yourself Known

Tip #3: Green Your Pool

Tip #4: Protect Your Playground

Share your tips: What is your advice for planning a low-impact hiking trip?

July 17, 2009

Daily Roundup: July 17, 2009

The Weatherman: Microsoft chairman Bill Gates is reportedly working with a team of scientists to develop weather-controlling technology that would break up hurricanes before they hit land. Ecorazzi and Huffington Post

Pay What? Austin Energy, the top U.S. supplier of green power, faces low enrollment in its GreenChoice program due to the increased price of wind power. Green Inc.

Back to School: The Chinese government sentenced environmental activist and former uranium mine worker Sun Xiaodi and his daughter to "re-education through labour" for leaking state secrets and intelligence abroad. Reuters and AFP

Meth Mess: The Kansas Department of Health and Environment won't be cleaning up any meth labs this year--the Clandestine Drug Lab Response Program, which removed and disposed of hazardous chemicals, was cut due to state budget issues. Topeka Capital-Journal and Prime Buzz 

No Jatropha: BP is getting out of the jatropha business after selling its stake in a joint venture to cultivate the shrub for use as a potential biofuel. Environmental Capital

--Della Watson

Safer Cycling for a Cooler, Cleaner World


Yield to lifeRiding a bike to work is a great deal: you save money on gas, start your day with a workout, and help the planet by curbing emissions. So why don’t more of us partake?  It might have something to do with the 44,000 injuries bicyclists incurred in traffic accidents in 2007. Or maybe it’s the fear inspired by the horn-honking hostility some drivers have toward cyclists. Either way, in any metal-bending battle between a bike and car, the car will always win. 

Which is why David Zabriskie created an organization to help keep cyclists safe on the road. The record-holder for the fastest time trial at the Tour de France, Zabriskie has been hit three times by cars while riding his bike.  The worst collision left him in a wheelchair. While he was able to recover and is participating in this year’s Tour de France, he realizes that not all cyclists are as lucky. So he started Yield to Life.

Continue reading "Safer Cycling for a Cooler, Cleaner World" »

Petition Seeks to Put an End to Plastic Bags

Sea of trashIf the first step to quitting an addiction is admitting there’s a problem, then here we go: our culture is plastiholic. Americans alone produce double their weight in raw plastic materials each year. The world uses more than 500 billion bags annually, and the 97 percent of those bags that are not recycled pile up in landfills or make their way into the ocean, where marine life ingests much of them.

In May, Sierra reported on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch -- an expanding gyre of trash now twice the size of Texas, and one of the many impacts of our extravagant bag-use. 

Now, two environmental groups have decided it's time for an intervention. The Green Education Network and the Greenhouse Neutral Foundation are trying to achieve a worldwide ban on non-biodegradable bags by the end of this year. To that end, they’re circulating a petition, which you can sign here.

Continue reading "Petition Seeks to Put an End to Plastic Bags" »

Movie Review Friday: Food, Inc.

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 short review and look for it in the next Movie Review Friday.

Food, Inc. (2009)
Now playing

The latest documentary to highlight America’s transition from a country of plant- and animal-producing farms to food-producing factories, Food, Inc. stars several outspoken whistleblowers, including Eric Schlosser, who wrote Fast Food Nation, and Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

Interviews with these journalists, combined with disturbing footage of factory farms and slaughterhouses, proves that the food we have come to think of as cheap is actually quite costly. While watching, we learn that, in addition to contributing to food poisoning, obesity, and diabetes, our increasingly corn-based diet is fueling a staggering loss of genetic diversity and an unsustainable oil addiction. Petroleum runs every stage of the modern agricultural system, from driving tractors to transporting cows to fertilizing fields.

However, the filmmakers do try to show that the situation isn’t all gloom and doom; they profile major players in the mainstream move toward sustainable foods (including the CEO of Stonyfield Farm, an organic dairy producer that sells to Wal-Mart). The film ends optimistically, with a reminder that people can vote for a better, healthier future whenever they buy food.

--Natalie Gaber

July 16, 2009

Daily Roundup: July 16, 2009

Timber! The sale of timber from Alaska's Tongass National Forest was approved by the Obama administration, marking the first logging contract awarded since Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced in May that he would review all sales in roadless national forests. Huffington Post

The Trees Stand: The Department of Interior reversed a Bush-era policy that doubled the amount of logging in western Oregon's old-growth forests. The reinstated logging limits are aimed to protect wildlife such as the endangered spotted owl. New York Times and Associated Press

Friends of Jaws: A group of shark attack victims are lobbying in Washington to support the Shark Conservation Act of 2009, a bill that supporters hope will decrease the incidence of shark "finning." L.A. Unleashed

Going Places: Zac Sunderland, a 17-year-old California native, became the youngest person to sail around the world alone. CNN

Cha-ching: Sarah Palin's op-ed criticizing the Obama administration's energy plan was reportedly the catalyst for a $100,000 day of fundraising at MoveOn.org. MoveOn sent an email blast asking for funds to challenge Palin's "false claims."  Politico, Washington Post, and The Plum Line

--Della Watson

Are Those Leftovers Still Good?

Are those leftovers still good Ever wonder how long that homemade beef stew you made last week will stay good? What about that can of almonds you opened three months ago? And how about those (line-caught) salmon steaks you grilled for last Saturday's dinner party?

The answers to these and thousands of other questions about food-and-beverage freshness, safety, and storage can be found at StillTasty.com, the "ultimate shelf-life guide." On its Keep it or Toss It? section, you can browse different foods by category (vegetables, dairy, meat, etc.), or enter the food item in question into the "Search" box. (We tried stumping the site with capers, chutney, and caviar, and got multiple hits for all three.)

Continue reading "Are Those Leftovers Still Good?" »


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